Trattoria i Trulli

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Review #34

Trattoria i Trulli.  That’s a mouthful even before you’ve ordered anything.  Most folk just call it “Trulli” pronounced “Truly”.  Actually, I’m not even sure if that’s how you are supposed to say it, but right or wrong that’s what we have been calling it since we moved here in 2000.  Although I hate to use the word “fancy” about any of our beach town restaurants, you will want to change out of your swimsuit and put on your big boy/girl clothes for this dinner.

Expecting a crowd on Saturday night, we came right when they opened to assure a table for our large group.  They have a beautiful patio out front for smaller parties or a quaint inside space that has a warm, Italian-cottage feel to it.

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Recently, my BFF surprised me with actual Dining On The 101 Business cards, and I like to pass them out freely when we go out to blog for two reasons.  First, it can’t hurt to let an establishment know you are about to review them in case they want to give you a little extra VIP treatment. And second, no…that’s it.

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You are first greeted at Trulli with their wall of wine. My mouth was already watering.

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Although we have great memories of Trulli, Hubby and I have not eaten here in about 15 years.  I suppose that’s because we like to try new places, and sometimes forget about ones we have tried and liked.  Then we get stuck on 3 or 4 go-to places and rarely stray. This is one of the great things about Dining on the 101 project.  It forces us out of the rut and into new or almost forgotten territories like Trulli.  Trulli’s homemade bread and garlicky red sauce are exactly how we remembered it, and came quickly to the table.IMG_2424

Hubby and I ordered an appetizer of Calamari Adriatico. It is calamari simmered in a tomato sauce with spinach.  That’s right Tracy, you can order calamari that isn’t fried and is still delicious!  I asked the waiter to put it right in front of me so I could get a picture FOR MY BLOG.  He either didn’t know what a blog was, or was doing his best to act very cool.  No questions asked.  No extra “please enjoy”s.  He just placed it down and left.  Not rudely, just not with anything extra.  Oh well.  There was a generous amount of tender calamari, especially for an appetizer but I found the sauce to have too much garlic and spiciness for my liking.  Hubby was happy he didn’t have to share, he loved it.

IMG_2425Calamari Adriatico

Jen and Greg shared the Burrata Bellina. They use “Fresh virgin mozzarella”.  Just curious as to what you call non-virgin mozzerella.  Ho-cheese?

It came crusted with pistachio nuts and had a balsamic glaze, over fancy pear spheres and arugula.  OH MY GOD!!!  Soooooo good!!  Amazing.  I only had one bite, but I heard angels singing.  The pear spheres are actual halos.

IMG_2426Burrata Bellina

Lynne and I ordered Chianti which is really just adult Kool-Aid. It was delicious and went perfectly with our meal.  The only reason I ordered a second glass was to stay committed to this year’s mini-rez of drinking more.

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Tracy ordered a pasta dish that came with eggplant, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes and ho-cheese.  It was very good.  The tangy sun-dried tomatoes really made it.

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The succulent scallop and spinach dish etched in my mind no longer exists. (WHAT??  How dare they change their menu after 15+ years!) So instead, we shared a dish called Pollo 101, which is a chicken breast stuffed with different cheeses and topped in a mushroom sauce.  They kindly split it for us without asking.  Regular treatment here, or VIP?  The veggies were crisp and flavorful and the chicken with mushrooms was divine.  We loved it.  It paired smashingly with the Chianti.

IMG_2427Pollo 101

Jen & Greg finished their meal with Crème brûlée.  I didn’t try it, but judging from what they left over, I don’t think it sucked.

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Bottom Line:  If you haven’t been here, or if it’s been a while (like, 15 years), come in for some great local, authentic Italian cuisine.  Start with the Burrata Bellina and a bottle of Chianti.  Follow that up with Pollo 101, or try one of their home made pastas and let me know how they are.  I bet they’re awesome.  If you’re on a date, sit outside on the front patio for a little extra romance.

Although I passed out business cards, took exaggerated photos all over the restaurant, even left my camera in plain view on the table during our meal, no unrequested tastes from the chef, free scoop of ice cream, or extra glass of Chianti made it our way this time.  Ok, I realize I may not have reached Ruth Reichl status yet.  No biggie.  I don’t knock off any points for Trulli’s service.  They truly did a fine job.

Reichl_Delicious

Ruth Reichl- writer & food goddess


Next week’s blog will be on Sunday, February 11th at 9:00 am at

The Potato Shack

120 West “I” Street

http://www.potatoshackcafe.com/home.htm

(Yes, I know “I” St. isn’t technically on Hwy 101, but it’s very close and MAN-HOLE COVER SIZED PANCAKES, ok?!)

 

 

 

 

 

Beachside Bar & Grill

Beachside outdoor sign

Review #33

I hate watching sports.  Not only do I hate watching sports, the sound of sports on TV alone drives me loony.  I despise it.  I’m sure a psychotherapist could analyze the daylights out of me and say it’s because of the limited time I got with my (divorced) father as a child.  My time with him was always shared with endless football games on TV when I was desperately trying to get him to take me somewhere.  “Just five more minutes” he would say.  “Look at the clock, it’s almost over” he would lie.  It never was.  This built-up frustration from my youth has turned me into an intolerant, football-hating, take-your-home-team-paraphernalia-and-shove-it-where-the-sun-don’t-shine, type of woman.

With that in mind, I present to you:  The Beachside Bar & Grill. It is a true sports bar.   I may not be the best man for this job.  We are talking TV’s everywhere you look, sports blaring from every corner, patrons cheering and whooping like imbeciles.

They offer Happy Hour M-F and advertise some big fight you can watch here in November.  Whatever. The place is large and like I said, TV’s everywhere, perfect for the sports enthusiast, not so much for this sports hater.

Beachside sports

They have a fun shuffleboard game though.

Beachside games

Luckily, they have a huge outside patio, perfect for our large party, and totally soundproof from all sports!  Since most people come to a sports bar for the game, the crowd was inside and we got the whole patio to ourselves.  But it was cold! There were heat lamps everywhere but we were told that most didn’t work.  It was a graveyard for old, broken, unwanted and unloved heat lamps who had no where else to go.

Beachside graveyard

Some nice workers got a few of them going for us.  Now if they could just figure out how to light this massive fire pit, we would be in business! One young man came out with a lighter, no joke, a LIGHTER and with a very scared face, got up close to it and tried to start it.  Oh, it started all right!  The fire went “WHOOSH!!” and the poor guy screamed and leapt backwards.  I thought he burnt his freaking face off, but he was fine, just a wee scared.  And he won’t need to shave for a few days.

Beachside pit

Now we had fire, and an atmosphere where we could hear each other. Only one negative that I must comment on.  CHOICE OF OUTSIDE MUSIC.  It was BAD.  Let’s just say that a pop-covered, mixed dance version of “Constantinople” came on.  Why, why, why would anyone remix this classic song into pop dance music?!

Time for beer and food!  Did I mention that one of my New Year’s mini-rez’s is to drink more?  So far, so good.  I am feeling great about accomplishing this goal! Beachside Bar & Grill has an extensive beer and mixed drinks menu. I ordered a Blue Moon on tap with fresh lemon. D-lish!

The appetizers arrived promptly.

Beachside skinsPotato Skins without the bacon

Beachside cevicheSeafood Ceviche

Beachside BruscettaBruschetta

The only appetizer I tried was the bruschetta.  I know it said there is a pesto in there, I can even see it, but the only thing I tasted was garlic.  Raw, in your face, potent, stinking rose! Everyone agreed that the appetizers were good, but nothing special.  But I must say that the firelight made everything look so nice!  Can food look romantic?  Because it did!  I glanced over at Hubby and thought, DAMN my man looks good tonight! Firelight makes everything beautiful!

For dinner, Kellen ordered the Hawaiian pizza.  He loved it.  I took a bite, minus the pineapple because if you ask me, pineapple is a fruit only meant to be served cold, and I thought…meh.  But it sure looked lovely in this light!

Beachside pizzaHawaiian Pizza

Hubby ordered chicken tacos.  They were on the small side and tasted….meh.

Beachside tacosChicken Tacos

Tracy ordered the BBQ Tri-Tip with sweet potato fries and liked it a lot.  I took a bite…meh.

Beachside sirloinBBQ Tri-Tip with sweet potato fries

Debbie’s House Salad with Grilled Mahi Mahi was a nice healthy choice to have on a bar menu.

Beachside mahi mahiHouse Salad with Grilled Mahi Mahi

Beachside nuggetsChicken Nuggets and fries

Pam liked her Caprese Panini a lot.

Beachside capreseCaprese Panini

I ordered a Turkey Pastrami Panini with a side of grilled veggies.  It wasn’t bad.  The bread was toasty but the meat inside was cold and, again, I couldn’t taste the pesto.  All in all it was…meh.

BeachsidepastramiTurkey Pastrami Panini

Bottom Line:

The Beachside Bar & Grill is a great place to watch sports, drink beer and eat affordable bar food.  They have a fantastic patio (I hear they rent it out) and a wonderful fire pit that makes everyone look their best.  The food didn’t disappoint, as it was pretty much just as I expected it to be.  They offer decent bar food that adds to your experience, but isn’t the main reason you come here.  Our waitress and singed fire boy took great care of our large group, and get A+’s.

Unfortunately the garlic from the bruschetta won over the sexiness from the firelight and it is Sofa-City Sweetheart for Hubby. That whole thing about “garlic is fine as long as you both eat it” is a bunch of hooey.  No one is coming near me tonight. Not Hubby, not any vampires, not even my dogs.

 

Beachside fire


The next blog will be this Saturday at 5:00 pm ( not Sunday because of some or other game going on). Space is limited so please let us know if you are joining us, and we hope you will!

Trattoria i Trulli

http://www.trattoriaitrullisd.com/

Image result for trulli encinitas

Urbn Coal Fired Pizza

Urbn signReview #32

Time.  No one wants to waste it.  We want what we want, and we want it immediately. Take vowels for instance.  Who needs to waste time using them all?  In today’s day of rush, rush, rush, texting with emojis instead of words, vowls r becmming a thng of the pst.  Yu rlly dn’t nd vry mny of thm to undertnd wht the mning is nyway.  So don’t give Urbn a hard time for dropping the “a”.  They are not only efficient, but totally on-trend.

Encinitas holds one of five Urbn San Diego locations.  This location is quaint and set up nicely to hold small or large groups.

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As we walked in we watched one of the pizza chefs piping something white and yummy  onto one of the pizzas.

Urbn piping

I asked our waiter what style of pizza Urbn is know for.  His answer was, “Connecticut Style.”  Of course I have heard of Chicago style, New York Style, even styles from different regions of Italy.  But Connecticut style?  Huh?  So I whipped out my smart phone for immediate clarification, and low and behold, here is what I found:  Besides apple cider and PEZ candy, Connecticut is, in fact, known for their New Haven style clam pie.  I was about to order this when a voice whispered in my ear “order the Mashed Potato Pizza”.  I whipped around to see who said it, but they were gone.  Although the clam pizza did sound good, I have never heard of a Mashed Potato Pizza before. I took the stranger’s advice and ordered one.

Jennifer, who has been here before, told me we were sharing the cucumber salad.  Having taken her advice back at East Village on those apple wontons (WANT!), she has totally earned my trust.  The true name of this salad is the “Caprezanella”. It is loaded with fresh cucumber, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, croutons and basil.  It was superb!

Urbn salad

Others from our group ordered the Urbn salad.  One with chicken and one without.

Urbn saladsUrbn salad with chicken (generous amount!) and Urbn salad straight up

The first pizza for our group arrived.  It was a Margherita pizza, half with basil.  Besides being HUGE, remember, this is a SMALL size, it looked pretty but average.  Pretty average.

Urbn marhagritaMargherita pizza.  B-O-R-I-N-G

Then the Mashed Potato Pizza arrived. Did I forget to mention that it comes with bacon? And not just small pieces of bacon minced to oblivion.  Generous, large chunks of bacon that you can sink your teeth into. I took one bite of this pizza and knew I hit gold.  There is no sauce here and none needed.  The glorious flavor of the rich mashed potatoes comes right through.  Paired with cheese, bacon and a wonderful chewy crust, this pizza is outright divine.  I passed some pieces to the unfortunate ones who ordered the simple margherita pizza and watched their faces explode in delight.

Urbn mashedMashed Potato Pizza.  Yes.  YES.  YES!!!!

Hubby and Debbi shared a Fresh Pesto Chicken pizza that came a bit late.  Although it was very cheesy and very good, I found it didn’t need the extra drizzle of olive oil on top, and was lacking for more pesto.  I am quite sure that if I had tried this pizza before the mashed potato one, I wouldn’t be so picky.  Let’s face it, nothing was going to come close after trying those pieces of potatoey pizza perfection.

Urbn chick pestoFresh Pesto Chicken pizza

Our nice waiter came by to check on us.  I asked how they get the mashed potatoes so perfectly onto the pizza without making it too heavy.  And was that mashed potatoes I saw the man gently piping on the pizza as we walked in?

“Oh no, what you saw was him piping ricotta cheese onto the Polpetta Con Provolone pizza.  For your pizza, he just grabs handfuls of mashed potato and throws it onto the pizza in between the fresh mozzarella.” Sorry I asked.

Now what is this business about coal fired pizza?  There are plenty of wood fired pizza places, is this just a gimmick?  Our waiter graciously gave me a tour of the oven.  And there was the coal!  The real deal.  No wussy wood, but serious, bad-ass coal!  Garcia’s job is to keep feeding the oven coal to keep the internal temperature between 800-900 degrees.  Holy hot oven! But that is the beauty of using coal.  You can get the oven ridiculously hot which produces crisp, tender pizza crusts.  The pizzas take only 2-3 minutes to cook, again, making this place exactly relevant for today’s inpatient consumers.

Urbn GarciaHere is Garcia working the coal

Bottom Line:

Urbn Pizza is another gem on the 101. In a town that already has restaurants called “Urban Pie”, “Urban Plates”and “Urbane Cafe”, one needs to stand out.  So doing a vowel-drop seems logical and practical.

Their unique coal fire oven makes a perfect crust in only minutes.  If you want something better than just good, order the Mashed Potato Pizza.  It’s one of the best pizzas I have ever had.  The acoustics aren’t great, so if it’s a romantic evening you want, not so much here.  Share the pizzas, they are huge, and add some tasty salads, cold beer, and good friends.

Urbn group1Hppy NW YR!  Frm some Die Hrd 101 Dners!   


There won’t be a blog next week, but join us on Sunday, January 21st at

Beachside Bar & Grill at 6:15 pm

http://www.beachsidebarandgrill.com/

 

 

 

The Taco Stand

The Taco Stand

Review #31

Ahh, New Year’s Resolutions.  Plenty of people will be setting themselves up for failure by making unrealistic resolutions for the coming year.  They set these grand, high goals, which are rarely met, which leads them down a road of depression, worthlessness and despair.  My plan is to set small, very attainable goals, setting myself up for success and joy.  I’ll call each one a “Mini-rez”.  The point is to not set too many, or make them too difficult.  For instance, I am going to make a mini-rez to not smoke this year.  No, I don’t smoke, but I could.  And if I did, I would definitely want to quit. If I can just still not smoke, I will feel successful.  I can do this.

I ran into Debbie this morning and she told me her New Year’s resolution is to eat more Italian food.  She made a lasagna last night and is having pizza for lunch.  This is exactly my point…a perfect mini-rez.  The big stuff in my life will improve or it won’t, believe me, the list is long, but putting all of that stress on myself starting January 1st seems cruel.  I need to give myself a well deserved break this year.  Wait…is that a resolution?

Many people plan big things for New Year’s Eve.  They get dressed up, buy tickets to a fancy event, and have reservations for a 5 course prix-fixe meal somewhere fabulous.  They drink champagne, stay up past midnight, kiss loved ones (or sometimes strangers depending on that champagne) and spend New Year’s day nursing their hang-overs.

We can’t let a little thing like New Year’s Eve slow down this blog.  We’re dedicated!  So, we spent our New Year’s Eve eating dinner at The Taco Stand.  If you have driven by, you will agree that there is almost always a huge line that goes down the block.  But not on New Year’s Eve.   It was the perfect time to go!

There are four Taco Stands in San Diego but for some reason, our Encinitas location can’t get the fresh, hot churros.  That makes my friend Jennifer and her family very sad.Taco Stand churro

The Taco Stand sees large, ugly pipes on the ceiling as a canvas for opportunity, decorating them with classic pictures.  Nice touch!

Taco Stand ceiling

Their menu is simple, and very affordable. Most tacos (which are substantial is size) cost $3-$4.

Taco Stand menu

Take advantage of their beautiful outdoor patio.

The Taco Stand patio

After you order,  visit this fantastic salsa bar.  Unlike all of the other places we have been, they label which ones are spicy!  No more guessing wrong while your tongue is on fire.  Their marinated red onions and cilantro cream are delicious.  Actually, everything at the salsa bar is really great!

Taco Stand salsa bar

Every corner of every table comes with this handy drink holder.  Who invented something so simple yet so useful?  They are genius!

Our youngest ordered a carne asada burrito WITH NOTHING ELSE ON IT.  It was hefty in size, with tons of meat and a perfectly crisp tortilla.  All of the condiments were on the side, placed safely in their own containers with no danger of contaminating the quesadilla.

Taco Stand quesedillacarne asada quesadilla

The rest of us ordered tacos and beer.

Taco Stand tacos

And tacos.  And beer.

Taco Stand pork and shrimp

And more tacos.

Taco Stand fish tacosgrilled fish tacos

Hannah was brave and ordered the Nopal tacos.  The green things are cactus! (Not the avocado, the other green things)  To make these tacos more appealing, they melt and crisp a layer of cheese against the tortilla.  By the time that is done, and they throw some of their wonderful, creamy sauce inside, you could put anything else in there and it would taste great.  Even cactus!

Taco Stand Nepalese

It was recommended by a friend to order an Al Pastor taco.  When I saw this fine gentleman proudly slicing the marinated pork off the rotisserie, I was pretty sure it would be good.  It wasn’t just good.  It ROCKED!

Taco Stand pork

And these are the carne asada fries.  It’s like getting steak nachos with fries instead of tortilla chips.  Which is kind of ironic since The Taco Stand claims to be a traditional Tijuana-style taco stand.  Whatever, I’m sure they were delicious and they disappeared quickly.

Taco Stand friescarne asada fries

And now we must discuss the Corn on the Cob.  This corn is covered in a mixture of mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese and chili powder.  Being more of a purist when it comes to corn, this one isn’t for me.  But when I tell you that Tracy LOVES this corn, I mean her eyes glaze over, she hums romantic melodies and she is filled with complete euphoria as it lay before her. Hannah, who has had Mexican corn numerous times, said this one isn’t quite as decadent or as spicy as other ones she has had, but she loved it all the same.

Taco Stand corn

 

Later, the place had cleared out but we were still having fun.  One of the servers came by and asked those of us seated against this wall to lean forward.  “Excuse me?” we asked.  “Please just lean FORWARD”.  So we did, and she quickly plucked all of the pillows out from behind us!  Clearly they were ready to close, even if were weren’t ready to leave. Ok, ok, we get the hint!  And honestly, we did feel pretty cool, closing a joint down on New Year’s Eve at our age.  Even if it was only 8:30 pm.

The Taco Stand Seating

With so many taco shops here in Encinitas, what really makes the Taco Stand shine above the others?  Is it their homemade tortillas?  Is it the high quality meat they use?  Maybe it’s their awesome salsa bar.  But if you ask Hubby, the main reason to eat here is this:  Why would you eat tacos at a regular place when you can eat tacos whilst looking at a half naked woman being groped by a snake and octopus?

Taco Stand mural

 

Bottom Line:

Go for the tacos, not the burritos.  It’s called THE TACO STAND.  Listen to them!  All of the corn tortillas used in the tacos are made fresh from scratch.  My three favorite tacos in order are: Al Pastor (pork), Camaron (spicy shrimp),  Nopal (cactus).  I have referred to other taco shops in the past as CTS (crap taco shops) due to the lower quality of  ingredients and the fact that they all taste the same to me.  They are a dime a dozen and I can’t really tell one from the next.  The Taco Stand is not a CTS.  They are unique in many ways, all good ones.

Instead of lobster and caviar, we sent off 2017 with cheap, delicious tacos.  Eaten with cold beer and warm friends.  Perfect.


Next week’s blog will be at Urbn on Sunday, January 7th at 5:30pm

764 S Coast Hwy 101

http://www.urbnencinitas.com/

Honey’s Bistro & Bakery

Honeys sign

Review #30

Our oldest son, Griffin, is 16, so he’s basically never around.  But our youngest has a friend who often fills in for him. For this reason, we have given him the nickname of G2.  G2 is, in many ways, a better version of G1.  Where G1 can be ornery and argumentative, G2 is easy-going and flexible.  If I call the family down for dinner, G1 often can’t get off his phone, but G2 takes his place at the table, quick-as-can-be.  When I need help unloading groceries, there is G2 unloading pronto!  And if it’s family photo time, and G1 is nowhere to be found, well, there’s G2, happy to take his place.  Today at Honey’s, it was just our family of four, with G2 filling in as G1.

One of the worst things about going out to breakfast is the time it takes to get a cup of coffee, am I right?  I remember back in the days when I was a user, I clearly recall the anxiety I would get over going out to breakfast because of my delayed fix.  When you go out, there are showers that need to happen first, kids to wait for, the drive there, parking the car, waiting in line to order, then waiting for someone to bring you that first cup.  It can be harrowing!  Honey’s Bistro & Bakery understands.  They have addressed this problem beautifully.   As soon as you walk in the door, even if there is a line, you can help yourself to a cup of coffee!  Even before you order food!  This actually might be the very best reason to come here. There is a wide variety to choose from.

Honeys coffee

This is just brilliant!  And by the time you get to the register to order, you are the most polite, pleasant and loveliest version of yourself!

Once you’ve started caffeinating, you can appreciate the cuteness of this Bistro.  And if you don’t get a table outside, you can sit inside with the murals giving you the feeling of being right outside!

Honeys decor 1

Honeys decor 2

It’s always best to start with a “calorie-free” baked good to share while you wait for your real food.  (Remember from previous blogs, calories don’t count when it’s a shared table pastry.)  Plus this place isn’t called Honey’s Bistro.  It is called Honey’s Bistro and Bakery.  It would be doing a disservice to this nice establishment if we were not to do our due diligence in trying what they are all about.

Wanting to skip the breakfast crowds we have seen hanging out the door on other weekends, we chose to come at lunchtime today.  The bakery display case had been hit hard, but there were still some enticing goodies to choose from.

Honeys goodies

Although their homemade donuts were recommended to us, we decided for something a bit less sweet and chose a blueberry bran muffin, warmed up of course.  It was great!

Honeys bran muffinBlueberry Bran Muffin warmed up- always warm it up!

Let me explain something…The last time I went out with some friends we went to one of those, cough, cough, chain restaurants. I ordered the grilled Mahi Mahi fish tacos.  When I peaked inside the tortilla I was horrified!  There must have been less than an ounce of fish per taco!  That’s right, less than a single ounce of fish!  It was covered in cabbage and salsa, but to pay $12 for this plate was a sham!  So I have been scarred.  From that time on, any time either Hubby or I order fish tacos, I always inspect the amount of fish inside the tortilla.  Be careful if you dine with us and order fish tacos.  It has become habit and I will most likely inspect yours too.

For his meal, Hubby ordered the Mahi Mahi fish tacos.  If you are an avid Dining on the 101 reader, you might see that he orders fish tacos often, whenever they are offered.  So I would say he is an expert fish taco eater.

Honeys tacoMahi Mahi Fish Tacos

 To my absolute delight, the amount of Mahi Mahi on Hubby’s fish tacos today was impressive, if not downright abundant!  There was a generous amount of guacamole, cabbage and tomatoes, with the perfect amount of heat from the white sauce.  Hubby gave Honey’s fish tacos a 9.5/10, losing only half a point for the single tortilla vessel that fell apart.  But otherwise, outstanding tacos!

Our youngest ordered a bison burger with a side of fruit.

Honeys bison KellBison Burger

2 thick slices of properly cooked, crunchy bacon, cheese and a perfect fried egg topped this monster burger.  Even the side of fruit was better than average.  The burger stood no chance against the carnivorous jaws of our youngest.  It was inhaled.

G2, being his cooperative self, ordered the same, but with fries. Both boys loved these burgers.

Honeys bison G2

I ordered a Turkey, Feta, Spinach burger with a side salad.

Honeys turkey burgerTurkey, Feta, Spinach burger

Will you look at this thing?  Perfectly wilted spinach, heavenly grilled onions, and so much feta it can’t even be contained on the burger! And this side salad tastes as good as it looks.

Bottom Line:

Encinitas is filled with delicious breakfast nooks, and Honey’s Bistro & Bakery is one of them.   If you can steer yourself away from the cheesy, eggy, carbohydrate-rich breakfast items, you will find a menu filled with healthy, unique, homemade lunches that will pleasantly surprise you. The portions are large, and the prices are reasonable.  There is something for your whole family to love, but if you have an older PITA teenager, just leave him at home and bring a fill in.  If you don’t have one, we can loan you G2.  Honey’s Bistro & Bakery, we will be back for sure!


Next week’s blog will be on New Year’s Eve at

The Taco Stand at 6:00pm

642 S Coast Hwy 101

http://letstaco.com/

East Village Asian Diner

EV sign

Review #29

East Village is a trendy, quirky, Asian-fusion style restaurant in the heart of downtown Encinitas.  It gets crowded quickly, so be prepared to come early, or you will wait. We came on a Sunday at 5:30 pm, got a table for 10 and felt very lucky.  By 6:00 pm, it was packed.

East Village has a welcoming committee ready to greet you as you walk in:

EV figures

Strange Anime cartoons are playing for your enjoyment:

EV tv

We shared a few appetizers to whet our palates. The fried spring rolls came hot, crispy, and filled with vegetables.  Wait a sec.  What is the difference between a fried spring roll and an egg roll?  I thought spring rolls are rolled in rice paper and left uncooked, and egg rolls are fried.  But if these are fried spring rolls, doesn’t that just make them egg rolls?  Or are egg rolls considered Chinese, while spring rolls are Vietnamese? And clearly we can’t have Chinese or Vietnamese food at a Korean inspired restaurant, hence these are fried spring rolls. Not egg rolls.  Thank’s for letting me work that one out.

EV Spring rollsFried Spring Rolls (that look and taste just like egg rolls)

Step out of your comfort zone and try the Kimchi-Chive Street-Cart Pancakes.  They are fried, so obviously they’re not going to suck. They taste slightly tangy and very good.  The dipping sauce is great.

EV kimchi pancakesKimchi-Chive Street-Cart Pancakes

The Crispy Coconut Shrimp are delicious, but nothing unique.  Pounded out flat, they are fun to eat. We had to order a second basket because no one wanted to cut these in half to share.

EV shrimpCrispy Coconut Shrimp

They have soups, salads and noodle dishes on the menu.  One person from our group ordered Beef and Broccoli Noodles, and one of the kids ordered from the kid’s menu.

EV beef & Broccoli Beef & Broccoli Noodles

EV kids mealKid’s Chicken Teriyaki Rice Plate

But the main shtick here is the Monk’s Stone Pot. You choose white or brown rice for the first layer in the pot, then it’s filled with fresh vegetables, and finally you pick your protein to add in.  It’s all topped off with a perfectly cooked egg.  The best part is that it comes to your table in a sizzling-hot-burn-the-skin-off-your-fingers stone pot that you do NOT want to touch!  This amazing vessel keeps your meal piping hot from beginning to end. The rest of us ordered different forms of the Monk’s Stone Pot.  And if you, a monk or anyone else was stoned on pot, you would love to mack out on this stone pot even more!

Tracy is queen of pulled pork.  I’ve never met anyone who loves it more than she.  If it is offered on a menu, any menu, that’s it for her.  She even had “tabooed” pulled pork sandwiches served at her son’s bar mitzvah!  She’s that dedicated to the swine. Tonight, she ordered right.  This pulled pork is loaded with flavor and is down right delectable!

EV Monk Bowl porkTracy’s Monk’s Stone Pot with Pulled Pork, hold the egg

EV Monk bowl shrimpMonk’s Stone Pot with Brown Rice and Shrimp

I ordered mine with shrimp.  First you break the egg, and let all of the rich yolk melt into the bowl.  Then you wait a few minutes to let the rice sizzle and get crispy at the bottom before you dive in.  (The white rice crisps better than the brown.) The fresh vegetables cook as you eat your way through this large bowl of steaming food.  Two sauces are offered at the table.  Both are great.  Neither too spicy, just add them into your bowl and go for it. The portion of food is generous, and you will likely take left overs home.

I thought we were finished, but Jennifer, who frequents here, ordered us the Apple Wontons for dessert.  She did so without asking.  I was a little disappointed. First of all, I didn’t really want dessert tonight.  (You’re not buying that are you?  I heard what a liar I am while I was saying that.  I meant, I was going to use the ounce of willpower I could muster and not order a dessert tonight even though I desperately wanted to.) Second, she must not have seen that they had House Baked Brownie a la Mode on the menu!  (Because I saw it!  Even though I wasn’t really looking because I probably, most likely, maybe would not be ordering dessert tonight.) Apple Wontons, really?  OVER A FRIGGIN HOUSE BAKED CHOCOLATE BROWNIE WITH ICE CREAM? I’m not a fan of apple pie, so this would have been my last choice for a dessert.  But then it appeared….

EV dessertApple Wontons

Whoa.. this is definitely not just a take on apple pie!  This looks seriously worthwhile.  The ice cream served here has a purpose.  In fact, it would be dangerous to eat these wontons without it!  These sweet, appley, crunchy pillows of goodness smothered in caramel are piping hot inside.  You need to break one in half, scoop some ice cream onto your spoon, then put a piece of wonton on top.  The ice cream will cool it just enough to get it into your mouth safely.  With 10 people at our table, I only had one bite.  It was an awesome bite!  Thank you Jen!

East Village gets very crowded, and there isn’t a lot of room inside.  Those sitting in chairs along the aisle are constantly getting banged into by the wait staff.  Look at the narrow space between chairs the servers need to sqeeze through for carrying food back and forth to customers:

EVspace 2

To train for this position, men and women alike must wear body length girdles 24/7 until they are slim enough to pass through the smallest of spaces.  Sure, their faces, hands and feet are forced to unusually large sizes due to this sausage-like mechanism, but it works.

Bottom Line:

The fun-robot-toy-themed atmosphere works well for this hip, Californian-Asian fused  restaurant.  The appetizers are good, but not needed.  The Monk’s Pots are delicious, and  needed.  Get the Apple Wontons. The staff is super friendly, polite and attentive.  If you think you may want a job here, start training your body now in a full length girdle.  I’m sure they sell them on Amazon.


 

Next blog will be Sunday, December 24th at 11:30 am at:

Honey’s Bistro & Bakery

632 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas

 

 

Angelo’s Burgers

Angelos sign

Review #28

“You are one of the rare people who can separate your observation from your preconception. You see what is, where most people see what they expect.”
― John SteinbeckEast of Eden

I would like to dedicate this quote, to my hubby.  Actually, I would like to shove this quote down his throat with the chicken burger he ordered at Angelo’s last night.  He only saw what he expected to see.  But there was more.  Not a lot more, but a little more.


Angelo’s Burgers has been a part of the 101 in Encinitas since I was a wee lass.  Now that’s not to say we have ever actually set foot in this run-down drive-thru.  In fact, we have avoided it all cost.  Hubby tried to get out of going and our oldest said he refused to get what he called, guaranteed food poisoning.  What a bunch of whiners!  I tried to tell them not to judge a book by its cover.  Maybe this place is really great and we have been missing out!  Regardless, we needed to go with an open mind and a good attitude.  Hubby went, minus said good attitude, and Oldest stayed home.

Angelo's sign 2

The only way to describe the Angelo’s Burger’s building is…bizarre!  The restaurant is sort of sectioned off into four quadrants with the drive thru running through both the middle of it, and along the back side.  Not sure why they need two drive-thru lanes, does it really get that crowded?  You can eat in the area where you order food, or across the drive-thru in a separate building where the bathroom is.  Very strange set-up.

Angelo's drivein 1

It’s handy to have an indoor umbrella for back-up shade in case the ceiling stops working.  That’s just smart thinking.

Angelos inside

The menu is large.  They serve everything from breakfast food to burgers to Mexican to Greek.  Plus milkshakes and acai bowls.  They pretty much have everything covered.

Angelos menu

A woman eating dinner with her kids heard me mention my blog and came right over insisting I take pictures of her Greek salad with extra eggs.  She brings her kids here 2-3 nights a week and just loves this place.  She went on and on about how clean everything is.

Angelos saladGreek Salad with extra eggs

Then another woman, kind of assaulted me, telling me she has been coming here since 1978 and that I better write a good review.  I felt the “or else…”.  She proceeded to tell me how this is a family owned establishment and that the owners came to this country with just the shirts on their back and put every ounce of grit and sweat into this place to make it what it is.  It’s the American Dream, and don’t I like the American Dream?  She asked, not nicely.  Don’t I want to support the American Dream with a good review that can help not the owners, but now their kids who work here?  I politely thanked her and turned to the counter so we could order.  “WAIT!” she barked, not ready for me to turn away.  “They send out coupons!  All these coupons so everyone of all economic status can come to eat!  And if you don’t have enough money, they will still feed you!”  I was starting to get nervous.  There are some serious die-hard Angelo’s Burgers people here.  I felt very pressured to like this food.  Please let me like this food! And please let me order already!

Angelos coups

She wasn’t done.  “And you won’t find a cleaner kitchen or restaurant anywhere!” Now that’s two out of two strangers selling me on how clean this place is.  Did someone write a bad review on their cleanliness?  I guess I just expect food establishments to be clean, and wouldn’t really use that as a hard sell to someone coming for the first time.  I would say, ” you HAVE to try these burgers!”.  But now that “clean” has been brought up so much.  I looked deeper.  You can probably guess what’s coming next.  Not so clean!  I saw tons of dirty napkins on the floor in 3 out of the 4 quadrants we visited.  No, I didn’t get a tour of the kitchen (had they?) but I did see the girl wear a sanitation glove while handling our food which you might think is a good thing. Handling our food with two hands.  Wearing a sanitation glove.  One.  So close!

Our group ordered a variety of menu items and got back a variety of reviews.

Two boys ordered burgers.  Neither liked them much.  Christine ordered a double burger, Debbie a regular and both said they were good.  Tracy ordered a Monster Bacon Cheeseburger and liked it a lot.

Angelo burgerMonster Bacon Cheeseburger

Hubby, my lovable curmudgeon, was going to hate what he ordered no matter what, so in that sense, his chicken burger did not disappoint.

Angelos chickenChicken Burger on a wheat bun

Joyce liked her gyro with her only complaint being it had too much meat.  That’s a good problem to have!

Angelos gyroGyros

Upon recommendation, I ordered a club sandwich on wheat with a side salad instead of fries.

Angelos clubClub Sandwich on wheat

Angelos salad (2)Side Salad

The sandwich was huge, and pretty good.  The salad had a variety of vegetables, so above standard.  I did try the fries and found them to be bad.  Not hot or crunchy.

Bottom Line:

There’s a show on Food Network called Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.  Guy Fieri goes into local dumps and finds the most amazing food.  The front will look totally run down, but the woman cooking chili Rellenos in the back will be a freaking magician, using a 100 year old smoker on rare poblano chilies imported from the depths of her Mexico village.  Yah, not so much at Angelo’s.  What you see on the menu, is really what you are getting.  It’s not special, but it’s not bad either.  We came to Angelo’s Burgers with very low expectations.  Most of us left feeling that the food was better than expected.  One of us was going to hate his chicken burger no matter what, and he did.  The food is inexpensive and the staff is friendly. Don’t piss-off the regulars.  They have found something very special in this place that we must have missed.  We sure do love supporting a local mom-n-popper though.


We will be skipping a week of the blog.  We have holiday parties and will be shnockered most of the weekend!

Our next blog stop will be on Sunday, December 10th at 5:30 pm at

East Village Asian Diner

eateastvillage.com
(760) 753-8700