Thursday, January 18, 2018

A Readers Tip Brings Us to Pizza 90...Finally


Pizza 90
5365 Alton Parkway
Irvine, CA 92604

Most people have a hard time keeping their new year's resolutions. Yes, me included. As I've gotten older I realize that this is because we make resolutions that are not that fun to keep. This year I decided to change my usual, save money, lose a little weight, and watch way less TV resolutions. I decided from now on I will only focus on resolutions that I'd consider fun and advantageous to me as a person. One of the goals I set for myself this year is to tackle my expanding list of restaurant tips. That's what has brought us to Pizza 90.

Pizza 90 was a tip from a reader named Eric, from a few years ago. If you are still reading this blog Eric, I'm very sorry it has taken me so long to get to your restaurant suggestion. Eric's pick was actually on the top of my list, which means it is the oldest restaurant tip that I have yet to go to, until now. Again, sorry for the delay Eric, and I hope you still enjoy this restaurant review site.

The build your own pizza concept exploded a few years back. Some of the entrants in these Chipotle-style pizza concepts have already bowed out, but I was happy to see that Pizza 90 was still in business when I did a little research on them prior to our visit. Pizza 90 is so named because their pizzas are fired up in a 900-degree pizza oven for 90 seconds. The 6,000-pound ovens are built in Italy and shipped to the US by boat.

There are currently two Pizza 90 locations, this Irvine one and the other being in Sherman Oaks. We visited the Irvine spot on a Tuesday evening at half-past seven. We must have missed the dinner rush, as there was not anyone in the restaurant other than Katie and I when we arrived. As our visit progressed there were a couple of customers that filed in behind us.

The premise of Pizza 90 is pretty commonplace these days. You build your pizza with whatever you want on your pizza. At Pizza 90 they have a red, white, or green sauced pizza you can choose from, and then you add veggies, meats, cheeses, and finish it off with seasonings or maybe some garlic. Too complicated for you? There are 11 Neapolitan classics to pick from for people that don't want the headache of coming up with their own creation. Let's see how Pizza 90 compares to their other build your own pizza competitors.



Katie was really pushing for a salad to start her meal at Pizza 90, and after having this Market Salad ($8.99) I'm really glad we got this one. The market salad here is made up of a spring mix of greens, cubed apple, pear, plenty of blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and we substituted the usual champagne dressing for ranch dressing. It's been a few weeks since we have had this salad, and I still think about it, which says a lot for a salad. The produce was fresh, the apple and pear added a nice sweetness, and there was plenty of blue cheese included on this. We couldn't have asked for a better start to our meal.



Katie did not want to be bothered to create her own pizza, so she selected one of their classics, the BBQ Chicken Pizza ($8.99). This pizza came with chicken, mozzarella, caramelized onion, red onion, parsley, and was finished with a drizzle of barbecue sauce on top. Katie liked the interaction of the toppings on this one but felt that there might have been too much barbecue sauce on this. Neapolitan pizzas are usually a little damp in the middle, and this one was no exception. She'd ask for light bbq sauce next time, but otherwise, she called this pizza yummy. 


When I'm at a build your own pizza place, my order does not really shift around too much. On my Build My Own Red Pizza ($8.99) I got all the meats, then added red onion, and jalapenos. Nothing too crazy, I like to keep it simple. I was let down by this pizza. Katie was right, the pizza was wet in the middle, but I did expect that, but not to this degree. I did like the thicker than I was expecting crust on this pizza, with its slight char to it. The toppings really did not provide too much in the way of flavor. I had to douse each slice with red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese to keep things interesting.

Pizza 90 was fine, but it could not beat out my two current favorite build your own pizza restaurants, Blaze and MOD. It's not a good sign when the most memorable thing about a pizza place was the salad, (although it was a really good salad). I felt the middle of the pizza here was too moist and it made the pizza too hard to eat with my hands. I also felt the toppings lacked any pop of flavor and made for a rather bland pizza. If you are near here and want pizza, and don't want CPK, which is in the same shopping center, then Pizza 90 would be a fair option. It feels good to cross this one off of our list, and I look forward to getting to more of your restaurant picks very soon. 

Out of five diamonds, (because 90 feet is the distance between the bases on a baseball field, also known as a diamond), five being best to zero being worst, Pizza 90 gets 2.5 diamonds.

For more information about Pizza 90, head to their website here: http://www.pizza90.com/

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Catching Some Raes in San Clemente


Cafe Rae
1421 North El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA 92672

I feel bad to say it, but if it wasn't for social media, I probably would have never made it to Cafe Rae in San Clemente. They are a family run business that doesn't have a fancy PR company behind them to help get their name out there. A quick Yelp search for restaurants in this beachside paradise lists Cafe Rae way down at the bottom of the San Clemente restaurant list, even though they have a four-star rating with close to 300 reviews. Damn Yelp algorithm.

Cafe Rae finally came across my radar a year or so ago when they happened to follow me on Instagram. I quickly followed them back and checked out their feed. There were some good pictures of their food, but what really stuck out to me was their blackboard of specials that they pictured to help promote their off menu items. With Cafe Rae only being open until 3 in the afternoon and being closed on Tuesdays, both Katie and my schedules would have to line up perfectly for us to give Cafe Rae a try. That happened the Saturday after Christmas when both Katie and I had the day off and made plans to walk our beloved San Clemente Beach Trail. We walked the picturesque trail and then hightailed it to Cafe Rae for a late breakfast.

Cafe Rae is situated off by itself, between a bike shop and a surfboard store, just up the hill from Rider's Club Cafe, and a few blocks away in the other direction from the busy downtown area of San Clemente. Opened since 2007, Cafe Rae is run by Jenny and Terry Shapiro, a couple of East coasters who came west and made a home in this beautiful seaside community. From what I can ascertain, Jenny is in charge of the front of the house, including the colorful design and the clothing that she has designed, and is for sale. Back of the house duties goes to Terry, a self-trained chef with years of experience in the restaurant business and he's been the chef for a bunch of musicians including Neil Diamond, the Rolling Stones, and 311.

We arrived at Cafe Rae just after noon and got a seat right away. The restaurant's ten or so tables were sporadically occupied during our visit. The menu at Cafe Rae is, of course, breakfast heavy with plenty of egg, pancakes, and french toast selections to choose from. For late risers, there are also sandwiches, salads, and burritos to pick from. Cafe Rae also features a vegan/vegetarian section of their menu. You know I shied away from there, as I love meat, so let's see how our food experience at Cafe Rae went.



Katie wanted to keep the healthy vibes going after our walk and ordered this light breakfast of Avocado Toast with Eggs ($7.95). A lot of people have an aversion towards avocado toast because it's too hipster. Nobody is going to confuse Katie and me as hipsters, but she did find this simple breakfast delicious. The avocado was spiced up a bit with some red pepper flakes and came on some solid sourdough bread. The scrambled eggs were done simply and not bathed in butter. A nice light meal to start her day.



Whenever I eat breakfast out, I like to mix sweet with savory. These Blueberry Coconut Pancakes ($8.25) off of their specials blackboard satisfied the sweet portion of my first meal of the day. Katie ended up liking these large pancakes more than I did. The coconut was not as pronounced as I would have liked, and these really soaked up the syrup. The pancakes were light and airy though, but I expected a tad more sweetness from the blueberries. I'd opt for chocolate chip pancakes next time. 



Fulfilling my savory breakfast requirement was another special, this Brisket Hash ($12.95). This hearty hash was made up of some sweet potatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms, and of course brisket. A few of the bites of brisket were tough, but most were very tender. I liked the inclusion of the sweet potato, as it gave this hash a twist that you don't get at many other places. The two eggs were perfectly done sunny side up, and the sourdough toast came with plenty of butter. Just the way I like it.

Cafe Rae is a great local spot for breakfast if you are in the area. The menu is diverse enough that you'll definitely find something that will intrigue you. Prices all hover around the ten dollar range, and the serving sizes are generous. Service on this morning was fair, as our server was not overly friendly, but got our food to us in a timely manner and made sure we had refills. Cafe Rae will probably make our breakfast restaurant rotation when we are down this way walking the beach trail. Glad they ended up following our Instagram account so we could find out about them and try them out.

Out of five roller skates, (because when I hear the name Rae, it reminds me of Charlotte Rae from the Facts of Life, and on that show, Tootie would always be on her skates), five being best to zero being worst, Cafe Rae gets 3 roller skates.

For more information about Cafe Rae, head to their website here: https://www.caferae.com/

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Legado Hoping to Create a Legacy for Themselves


Legado Bar + Kitchen
30065 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

There's not too much that I like about the holidays. Not to get too much bah humbug on ya, but my real job is in retail, and the holidays make people lose their minds. It's like they haven't bought butter all year long, and they just stare at it endlessly as other people are trying to get into the case.  The holidays also bring in people that have never been in a supermarket before. No, we don't have tennis balls, and why would a supermarket carry sporting goods? That's just one example, and I have much more I'm saving for my upcoming book that I plan to write after I retire.

Anyways, I bring this up because there are very few things that I enjoy about the holidays. There is a newish tradition of Katie and I going out with her parents a few days before Christmas that I really like. It's a time to reset before the craziness at work, and they let me pick the restaurant we are going to eat at. This has been going on for probably five years now, and for this years pick we went to a restaurant near her parent's house, Legado Bar + Kitchen.

Legado has been open since April of last year. This used to be a Pick Up Stix, but it's pretty unrecognizable from those days. Once you walk in the door there's a u-shaped bar, and behind that, there's a view of the happenings in the kitchen. The dining room is a pretty narrow, but comfortable enough. Table spacing was good, and you did not feel like you were eating right on top of other customers.

Before coming to Legado, I checked out their menu and it kind of intrigued me, and with all the places I have eaten, that does not happen too often. Almost all of their menu allows you to pick a full or small sized portion of your entree, pasta, salad, or starter. This is great for someone like me who is a big eater and can get two small entrees so I can try twice as much. I was also interested to see how they pull off such a varied menu. For a small restaurant, there's a lot to choose from. 16 appetizers, 8 pasta choices, 11 salad options, and 13 entrees. Let's see how our first Legado experience played out. 



Up first is the small-sized Wedge Salad ($7). This was a pretty traditional version of a wedge. Iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, crumbled bacon, and a liberal amount of blue cheese dressing was included on this. Katie's mom Lynn had no qualms with this wedge. She loved the freshness of the produce, the salty bits of bacon, and the tinge of flavor that the red onion provided. A winner in her book.


Katie's dad Dennis was also fond of this 3 Cheese Heirloom Stack ($9). The three kinds of cheese used in between the sliced tomatoes were gorgonzola, goat cheese, and fresh mozzarella. This stack was finished off with some red onions and a cabernet vinaigrette. Dennis praised the fresh tomatoes here, and also liked the uniqueness of this salad, with the use of the three cheeses.  He'd get this one again.



I think Katie and her family think they are aspiring hand models or something, as they always manage to get a hand in the pictures. Not off the salad portion of the menu, was Katie's selection the Ahi Tartare ($9). This starter had a lot going on with it. It was formed in a mini tower, with layers of ahi, cubed mango, cucumbers, red onion, avocado, and a streak of a sweet Thai chili sauce across the plate. She really liked this starter, as the tuna was fresher than she imagined it would be, she liked the different layers and what they added as far as taste, but she was not really too big of a fan of the tuiles, the baked wafer that this came with. It was too sweet, and a bit awkward to go along with this appetizer.


Back to the salads, and of course my choice on this evening would be the Caesar Salad ($6). This might look like a pretty boring version of a Caesar, but it left me satisfied. It had good sized pieces of shaved parmesan, crunchy croutons, and just the right amount of Caesar dressing. Nothing too crazy or out of the norm, but I enjoyed this and would order it again.


Not content with just a salad alone, I was the only one at the table to order an appetizer as well. There were plenty of options but I zeroed in on this House Made Meatball ($8). This 4-ounce meatball was made with ground beef and then is doused with marinara and some parmesan. Not bad, but nothing really made this stand out either. The meatball was not crazy tender or seasoned enough to make it stand out. The marinara was fine and I liked the inclusion of the shaved parm, but this meatball was nothing that got me too excited.



Entrees were up next and we'll start with the Pappardelle Carbonara ($11) that Katie got. I was surprised that the small sized portion of this was as big as it was. It was the perfect size for Katie. This was a classic presentation of a carbonara; bacon, egg, and grated parmesan cheese topping the pappardelle noodles. Katie felt this was fine, but it lacked a pop of flavor and the egg was overcooked in this. She would get something else on her next visit to Legado.


Chicken Piccata ($12) is a favorite on menus across our county, and this was what Katie's mom went with on this evening. Not to ruin the rest of this review for you, but as far as the rest of the entrees went, she was the only one of the four of us that loved her entree. Again, this is the small sized portion, which was a very large chicken breast with a lemon cream sauce and capers covering it. She found the chicken to be tender and was a big fan of the interaction between the lemon sauce and the capers. She might have found her go to item at Legado on her first visit.


I've never really been a fan of Beef Stroganoff ($13),(too many experiences with my mom's lackluster version growing up, sorry mom), but Katie's dad is very fond of this comforting dish. The version here is served with pappardelle noodles, mushrooms, and cut up steak. I'm not sure what kind of steak they used in this, but it was not the most tender of beef. The sauce was okay according to Dennis, but it did not really overwhelm him as being the best stroganoff he has had.


I took advantage of the small-sized entrees at Legado, and ordered two different things, the first being this Homemade Meatloaf ($11). This meatloaf gets a lot of praise on Yelp, but this was overcooked and rather dry. The crust of the meatloaf was pretty tough to get through and the center parts were not much easier. The brown gravy did not add too much flavor and did little to moisten this up. The best part of this plate was the mashed potatoes, which were fine but nothing special. I used alternating forkfuls of the potatoes to help me finish off this disappointing meatloaf.


I was hoping for a better result with my second plate, the Short Rib ($15). It didn't happen. It's really a shame when short rib is not tender and flavorful, and that was the case with the one on this evening at Legado. The beef was tough and the same gravy that was used on the meatloaf failed to give this an extra pop. The mashed potatoes were okay, but the best part of this plate was probably the crispy onions topping the bland short ribs. Beef might not be the thing to get here.




Dessert would be our last hurrah at Legado, and we tried two of their six house-made offerings. The better of the two was the Chef's Bread Pudding ($10). Bread pudding is a tricky dessert, as a lot of them are either too moist or to dry. This one was just right. It kind of reminded me of the cinnamon roll that I love at the OC Fair. A nice crust and softer inside. I was sad that Katie's mom had picked this, as I would have abandoned my selection, the Peanut Butter Mousse ($7) for it. The mousse was heavier than it should have been and the peanut butter flavor kind of got tiresome after a few bites. Maybe a drizzle of chocolate would have helped keep me interested in this dessert.

Our visit to Legado started out promising, but after the salads, the meal went downhill fast. Maybe they were having an off night, but the entrees that we got were nothing above average, and not anything that we are excited to return for. I liked the variety of the menu and the fact that you have the option to pick your entree size, I just wish the execution was better. Service was spot on this evening, even with a pretty full house. Our food came out in a timely manner and our server could not have been nicer. Even though Legado failed to impress it did not damper one of the few traditions that I enjoy about the holidays.

Out of five masks, (because there used to be an annual professional wrestling event in Mexico called Legado, and many of the wrestlers participating wore masks), five being best to zero being worst, Legado Kitchen + Bar gets 2 masks.

For more information about Legado Bar + Kitchen, head to their website here: https://www.legadobarandkitchen.com/

Sunday, January 7, 2018

A Reader's Tip Brings Us to Antonio's


Antonio's Mexican Food
5771 La Palma Ave. 
Anaheim, CA 92807

I'm not usually this fast at getting around to readers tips. For the most part, people will give me a restaurant suggestion, and then I put it on my restaurant wish list. It usually sits there until we are in the area of the restaurant, and then we end up visiting. John from Twitter had told me that I must give Antonio's in Anaheim a try.

That tweet was from December 1st, and I found myself at Antonio's six days later. It just so happened that I had a dentist appointment nearby, and after a trip to the dentist, I definitely felt like I should reward myself with some Mexican food. I called my sister and had her meet me at Antonio's, which is located in the same shopping center as a Marie Callender's, Carl's Jr., and a Wholesome Choice at the corner of Imperial Highway and La Palma Avenue.

John had given me a little info on his favorite Mexican restaurant. It was run by two brothers, Mario and Eddie, and the rest of the family pitches in and works there as well. He also said that it's a very local place, as they know almost everyone that walks in the door. I was definitely intrigued.

We got to Antonio's just before noon on a Wednesday. John wasn't kidding, this place is small but cozy. If you are getting your food for here, take a seat at one of the ten or so tables and they'll take your order there. The menu is pretty basic, with combo plates, burritos, a few seafood items, and tostadas. Make sure to check out their white erase board for additional specials and offerings. Prices are pretty inexpensive, as only a few items reach the double-digit mark, and most of those are the seafood options. 




Since I was running a little late, my sister had ordered a side of Guacamole ($3.89) to go along with the Chips and Salsa. The guacamole was very fresh and had a good flavor to it. I thought the serving size for the small was very generous. The chips and salsa were okay. The salsa was a little too thin for my taste. I like a little more chunk to my salsa. It did have the tiniest of spice kicks to it, which was appreciated. The chips were pretty average.



My sister had wanted just an enchilada and taco ala carte, but it ended up being cheaper getting this Cheese Enchilada and Carne Asada Taco Combination ($7.49). She was pretty excited by this meal. She really liked the cheesiness of the enchilada and the mellow enchilada sauce that they use here. The carne asada at Antonio's is pretty solid, and a lot of it was included in her taco. I liked that they were pretty heavy handed with the cilantro and onions on this, and they chop their beef into very little pieces. I did not try the beans or rice, but no complaints from my sister.



I was hungry after skipping breakfast because of my dentist appointment, so I ordered both a Carnitas Burrito Supreme ($7.49) and a small order of their Asada Fries ($7.99). This ended up being quite a bit of food. The burrito supreme comes with your choice of meats, beans, and cheese on the inside, and then is topped with sour cream and guacamole. The burrito was okay. Not too much pork inside of it, and I think they forgot to add the cheese. It basically ended up being a bean burrito with sour cream and guacamole on top. The asada fries looked really pretty on the plate, but they kind of fell flat. The asada was good, but the rest of the plate kind of suffered. The fries came out lukewarm at best, there was not enough cheese, and the cheese that was on here melted onto the paper plate. I ended up leaving almost half of this.

Antonio's ended up being fine, but I did not really think it was anything above average. It's a decent choice if you are in the neighborhood and craving Mexican food. John wasn't kidding when he mentioned that these are some really nice people that run this place. They really made us feel welcome from the start. Prices seemed more than fair and the portion sizes were generous. I'm glad we could get to John's suggestion quickly, and look forward to going to more readers restaurant picks this year.

Out of five footballs, (because Antonio Brwon lead my fantasy football team to a solid third-place finish this year, and in honor of the football playoffs starting this week), five being best to zero being worst, Antonio's Mexican Food gets 2.5 footballs.

Antonio's does not have a website, but you can find more information about them on their Yelp page here: https://www.yelp.com/biz/antonios-mexican-food-anaheim



Thursday, January 4, 2018

Open to the Public


Public House by Evans Brewing
7511 Edinger Ave. 
Huntington Beach, CA 92647

If there's one trend that has endured through the eight-plus years I've been writing this blog, it's that craft and small-batch beers are still as popular as ever. There used to be a time when it just used to be the big boys, Coor's, Budweiser, and if you looked way down at the end of the beer list you might even spy an MGD. Those days are long gone, and almost everyone would say for the better. Now, craft and small batch beer rule the grocery aisles and the tap handles of almost all the restaurant bars we run across.

I did not know this walking in, but Evans Brewing Company is the oldest brewery in OC. They have quite the colorful history too. Started in 1994 as Orange County Brewing Company, they began brewing beer at the McCormick and Schick's restaurant in Irvine. A quick name change to Bayhawk Ales and they began brewing beer for a number of restaurants, but all under those restaurants names. Evan and Mike Rapport took over the business in 2013 and rebranded as the current Evans Brewing Company. A fire at the brewery in 2014 halted production, but the boys at Evans Brewing Company came back stronger with a reorganization of the brewing process and improved equipment. In 2016 they opened their first tasting room and restaurant in Downtown Fullerton, and now they have opened up their second at the always busy Bella Terra Shopping Complex in Huntington Beach.

We were recently invited by Evans Brewing Company to have our first experience at Public House. I brought along my friend Angel, who is way more into beer than I am. I was very excited to give a good majority of their food menu a try. We lucked out as the freeways were holiday light, so it took no time to make it to Huntington Beach. Public House is located right off of Edinger, right by Corner Bakery, Pei Wei and sharing a common wall with Luna Grill. This used to be a Spin Pizza, but of course, there are far too many build your own pizza concepts out there, and they decided to focus on their Midwest restaurants.

Back to Public House. They opened in mid-December, and when we arrived on a recent Thursday night at 6 pm they were pretty packed. The restaurant is pretty good sized, with a good amount of tables, an outdoor patio for when the weather is a bit warmer, and at the center of the space is a u-shaped bar, with excellent views of not only the bartenders in action but of a large bank of TV's  so you won't miss a moment of your favorite teams. I was not here to watch TV though, so let's see what Public House has to offer.



As soon as we sat down we were asked what we wanted to drink. A quick glance at the beer and beer cocktail menu yielded these first of two beverages for Angel and me. Angel gravitated toward their award-winning beer lineup and ended up being very impressed with the Stout At the Devil ($6). Angel thought this was a very substantial Russian imperial stout, and one that he could imagine himself enjoying more than one of, but at ten percent ABV and a drive home in an hour or so he decided to be responsible and only have this one. Since I'm not really too much of a beer guy, I veered to the beer cocktail menu, and this Dandy Shandy ($10). This cocktail uses vodka and triple sec as a base, along with lemon juice, simple syrup, blackberries, and the wildly popular Pollen Nation honey blonde ale from Evans Brewing Company. This beverage kind of surprised me. I thought it was going to be a lot sweeter than it was, but the honey ale really came through in spades and mellowed out the sugary aspect of this cocktail. I'd probably get another beer cocktail the next time I'm here, as the rum-based Sail Away With Me has piqued my interest.


Appetizers were first up for us, and we started things out with this Hummus and Dips Board ($13). This was not something I was expecting to have liked as much as I did at Public House. The hummus here was really smooth and good, I liked the tomato jam that came with this, but what made this for me was the warm toasted bread used as a vessel for the dips. It was a nice deviation from the usual pita or hard crostinis that most restaurants would use for this starter. Very nicely done.


I never order ceviche out, and after having this one at Public House I should really change that. This Coastal Ceviche ($18) uses citrus-cured fish along with an interesting gooseberry pico de gallo, cubed avocado, and is then finished up with some cilantro. I'm not sure what kind of fish they use for this, but it was very fresh and the citrus flavor was very pleasing. A little more avocado would have made this even better.


Probably the most photogenic of everything we ate on this night was this Duck Confit Poutine ($12). It got an auditory gasp when it was placed in front of Angel and myself. Herbed fries are topped with some crispy duck, a sage gravy, and some Mahon cheese. Not a true poutine of course, but very satisfying. The richness of the duck and cheese burst through, and the fries were nice and crisp. I had wished for a little more gravy on this, and maybe having it layered a bit better, as when we got past the top layer of this we were only left with fries.


I realized that after these Moules Public ($18) had come to the table, not everyone was as excited to see them as I was. I had a stack of shells on my plate, and everyone else had only one or two. At Public House, they use local black mussels, some very solid Spanish chorizo, dried tomatoes, and Evans Hefeweizen to make this dish. I loved the sauce with this, and the use of the chorizo was wonderful. Sure a few of the mussels were a little gritty, but the combination of everything here made this a winner for me.



Salads snuck their way to our table next. Angel and I had a difference of opinion as to which one of these we liked more. He favored the Kale and Beet Salad ($10). Baby kale, roasted beets, croutons, fennel, citrus slices, candied walnuts, and a chia seed dressing had Angel raving about the freshness of the produce on this and his love for beets. I preferred the Chicory Salad ($10) with its exotic mix of greenery; endive, radicchio, frisee, mustard greens, and the addition of pears, dried cherries, squash, candied pecans, ricotta, and a pear cider vinaigrette. I'm usually not fond of salads that also include fruit, but this one worked. I liked the different textures working together, and the dressing was not too tangy. I definitely could see myself ordering this one on my next visit.



There are four pizzas on the menu at Public House and we got to try two of them. The Pesto Pie ($10) was the better of the two, with some roasted garlic, pepper flakes, tomatoes, and mozzarella. Simple, and not trying to do too much. I felt the Fall Chicken Flatbread ($12) was kind of too busy. A squash puree for the sauce and then topped with caramelized onions, kale, pomegranate seeds, gouda, and parmesan cheese. The pomegranate seeds really overpowered here and were kind of awkward on this pizza. Surprisingly, my archnemesis kale melded in well with this flatbread, but some extra chicken spread out on this would have been appreciated.


Much more to my liking than my beer cocktail was this Son of a Beach Blonde Ale ($6). This is the lightest beer on their menu, and it was still flavorful and went down real smooth. I could see myself ordering a whole bunch of these while sitting out on their patio when the warmer weather rolls around.



As we moved to the entree portion of the menu some more substantial food hit our table, including this Evans Signature Burger ($13). It was cut into fourths for us all to share since we had all slowed down a bit after eating so much on this evening. For their patty, they use blended ribeye, brisket, and short rib and it was cooked to a wonderful medium rare. It was a nice tasting burger on its own, but then they topped it with cheddar cheese, coleslaw, caramelized onions, pickles, and thousand island dressing. I would have liked a heavier hand with the condiments on my segment of this burger, but I would have no problem having this, or maybe trying their Nashville  Hot Chicken Sandwich on my next visit to Public House. Like most of the food community, I'm a sucker for hot chicken all of the sudden.


With an assist from my hand model Angel on this evening, here's a shot of the Grilled Black Angus Flat Iron Steak ($22). This medium rare steak came garnished with a chimichurri sauce, pickled red onions, and some fingerling potatoes. The steak was tender, but the piece I had did not have enough chimichurri sauce on it and was left a little underseasoned. I liked the inclusion of pickled red onion and the tender little potatoes. Don't think about quitting your day job and becoming a hand model Angel. Ain't gonna happen.


Even though we were all getting pretty full by this point, this salmon drew raves. The Skuna Bay Salmon ($24) was a pretty generous piece and came perched on top of Israeli couscous, pickled radish, cucumber, and an unusual spinach soubise. The salmon was flaky and delicious, and the couscous was done right. I liked the spinach soubise but would have liked a little more to be included on the salmon. A nice big plate for lighter eaters.


The last of the entrees and the chef probably brought this one out last as the grand finale because it was visually stunning. The Pollen Nation Braised Pork Shank ($24) was so tender it fell apart before our fork even touched it. A very warming and comforting dish. It had a roast quality to it, which was made even more so with the barley pilaf, pistachios, cranberries, and squash surrounding it. A very nice end to the savory part of our evening.




A trio of desserts would end our time at Public House. The best of the bunch ended up being the Chef's Choice Bread Pudding ($8) which just happened to be a roasted pear version on this evening. The bread pudding was neither too mushy or too dry, which I find is very rare when getting bread pudding elsewhere. Both Angel and I loved the ice cream used here, which kind of had a butter pecan feel to it, without the nuts. Angel was quick to box up the rest of the Cheesecake ($8) so his way better half, Rebekah could enjoy it as much as he did. I was more fond of the Chocolate Budino ($6) which reminded me of a richer and more creamy version of the chocolate pudding my mom would make when we were kids. It was a good tradeoff since I'm not much of a cheesecake person.

I was pretty impressed with our visit to Public House, especially when you consider they just opened a couple week ago, and it usually takes about two months for new restaurants to really hit their stride. Restaurants that are beer-focused also usually do not put much thought into their food, but I did not find that to be the case here. Yes, they took some risks, some that did misfire a bit, but the effort is apparent and was much appreciated by myself and a good portion of the media in attendance on this evening. The menu is diverse enough to appease all the diners in your party, and the prices are not going to overwhelm you at Public House, as only a couple items are listed over the $20 mark. I was also fond of how the chef tried to incorporate the Evans beer into most of the dishes. Speaking of the beers, after having them it's easy to see why craft beer is still as popular today as it was in the early part of this decade, and why craft beer is not a fad that's going away anytime soon.

We'd like to thank everyone at Public House for the wonderful opportunity to see what they are all about. The servers, food runners, and bussers were all very committed to making sure we had our every need met, and did a great job of keeping tabs on all of us. I'd also like to thank Lindsey Mee of Blaze PR for thinking of inviting us to this fantastic event, and coordinating the whole thing. It was great seeing you again Lindsey.

For more information about the Public House by Evans Brewing, head to their website here: http://www.evansbrewco.com/pub/#thebrewery-1