Monday, December 28, 2009

Is It Worth the Drive Downtown to Doug's?

Doug's Downtown Grill
12900 Main St.
Garden Grove, CA 92840

Looking for something new to do, my girlfriend and I went to the Gem theater to watch, "A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum". We got there about an hour early, so we decided we would try one of the local dining options that was within walking distance. We decided on Doug's Downtown Grill.

This rainy Friday night was pretty slow at Doug's, so we got right in and were greeted by a cheerful waitress. We alerted her to the fact that we were going to the play, so we would be in a hurry. She reacted like she had heard this before, so it was no big deal. Doug's is a casual bar/restaurant that you immediately feel comfortable in.


This is my salad that came with my meal that I ordered. Nothing too spectacular here, but it had crisp lettuce, and the blue cheese dressing was adequate.





Here are two pictures of my meal, the grilled marinated tri-tip. This dish came with julienne vegetables, and a choice of a side, I chose the twice baked potato. The meat was cooked just like I like it, medium rare. The marinade was subtle, and added a nice flavor to the meat. The twice baked potato was good, and the vegetables were just okay. I felt that this was a good value at $13.


Here is Katie's grilled ham and cheese stack, served with sweet potato fries. I felt that there was too much bread for this sandwich. Instead of a Kaiser roll, two pieces of toast would have been more appropriate. Also, two slices of ham and a slice of swiss cheese should never be called a stack. She did love the sweet potato fries, I thought they were good for sweet potato fries, but I usually do not like them, so I will go by her judgment on those.

So, how to size up Doug's? I thought it was a cool little joint, and if I was to go to more plays, or was in the area, I would for sure give them another shot. The service was great, and it is a place you can really feel comfortable in. Also, it was good value for the money.

Out of five parking meters,(get it?,  because we are downtown), five being best to zero being worst, I would give Doug's 2.5 parking meters.

If you would like more information on Doug's Downtown Grill, check them out here: http://www.dougsdowntowngrill.com/index.html

Doug's Downtown Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lofty Expectaions at the Loft


The Loft at the Montage
30801 S. Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, Ca. 92651

The girl in the picture above is my girlfriend's sister, Emily. Emily was turning twenty-one and in their family they have a tradition of going to the Montage and having brunch for birthdays. Fortunately, I was off that Sunday and could tag along with. I had never been to the Montage, let alone any really high-end resort before, so I had no idea what to expect.

As we pulled into the driveway and valeted my car, the service was phenomenal. Every person that we came into contact with, from the valet to the wait staff, was there to make sure that our every need was met. I had never seen anything like it. The decor of the hotel was contemporary and beautiful, kind of like a model home, with everything in its perfect place. I had the feeling that this is how the other half lives.

The Loft is the Montage's version of a coffee shop. They serve a little bit of everything. We were sat at 11, so we could choose from either their breakfast or lunch menus.  After perusing the menus, this is what everyone got.


This is the banana bread that was on the house, compliments of the chef. It was a little dry and did not really have too much banana flavor. Not really a big hit with our table.


This is the Build your own Benedict with lobster. It had a real good flavor to it, but the lobster was a little rubbery. They did not skimp on the lobster though, there were big hunks of it on the plate.


Above is the house-made ricotta stuffed crepes with blueberries and lemon. This was probably one of the best presented plates that arrived at our table. The taste however left a lot to be desired by me. I could not taste the ricotta, and I never got a hint of lemon. The crepes did have a good texture, but there was something missing.


Now we go from one the best plated dishes to one of the worst. This is the Build an Omlette. They have twelve items that you could add to it, duck confit, prime rib and rotisserie chicken to name a few.  The birthday girl decided on plain old ham and cheese omlette. Also served with a patty of potatoes, but when you are paying 22 dollars for this plate, couldn't they have added some garnishment to make the plate look less sterile. Not too many raves coming from our birthday girl on this one.


Next we have the two eggs any style. These eggs were cooked perfectly, but the hash brown patty was a little over-done. Just needed a little something extra on the plate to liven it up.


Here is the Club Sandwich. Smoked turkey breast and heirloom tomatoes with Garlic aioli. I did not get a chance to try this, but Sara said, "It was pretty good!"


This is the Rotisserie Pulled Pork sandwich, with fries being substituted for green papaya coleslaw. The sandwich had a lot of sauce on it, so it was difficult to taste the meat. The bun was great though, very soft.


Lastly, here was my choice for brunch, Chef Black's Bistro Burger. When I saw this twenty-five dollar burger, I knew that I had to try it. The burger comes with black truffle butter, escarole and garlic, and midnight moon cheese. The first bite of this burger, hit my mouth with a lot of flavor, and it mellowed from there. It was cooked perfectly, maybe a little salty at first but still a decent burger. The fries were good and the pickle slaw, that was really just rough cuts of pickles was just average.

So my thoughts on the Loft? Have I had better brunches? Yes, I have. Do I feel that it is worth the money for what you get? No, you can get better, and more food at half the price at most restaurants in the OC, but you are really paying for the killer view and atmosphere of this place, along with the great service. So for a special occasion, where you want to feel pampered like Paris Hilton at a day spa, this could be the place for you, just try to forget how much the meal is costing you.

So out of five silver spoons, five being best to zero, the Loft receives 3 silver spoons.
For more information about the Loft, here is their web site: http://www.montagelagunabeach.com/dining/dca_loft.html

Loft (Montage Laguna Beach) on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Steak Out in Downtown Fullerton!


Stubrik's
118 E. Commonwealth
Fullerton, Ca. 92832

Downtown Fullerton has a lot of great places to hangout. I really enjoy Heroes, Angelo and Vinci's, and Slidebar, just to name a few. So when we were going to meet friends there, the only problem was deciding where we wanted to go. My friend Chris decided on Stubrik's, and so that is where we all headed.

Stubrik's was opened by two friends, Stub and Rik. They had both worked in the restaurant business for years in the resort areas of southern California and Colorado. They both wanted to open a place that they would feel comfortable in. A place that was nice, but was not too stuffy, a place you could get good food, at a decent value, so lets see how it all worked out for them.

Stubrik's is a dark place, with big comfy booths, and wood all over the place. It is the kind of place that everyone could feel comfortable in. You do not have to worry about how you are dressed, because it is so dark, no one can see you. The atmosphere is one of a place that you would find in hunting lodge in the mountains, just a little bit louder. Service has always been good here, no complaints tonight either.



Here is my salad. Sorry about the picture, it was so dark in there I could not get a good shot. This is the salad that is included with every steak order. I especially liked the sunflower seeds. The blue cheese dressing was good as well, not too runny.


This is my 16oz top sirloin steak, stuffed with dried blue cheese and covered with Burgundy blue cheese sauce. The steak was cooked perfectly and had a great rich flavor. The vegetables were okay, and the potatoes were supposed to be garlic, but you could not taste the garlic, even without the brown gravy.



Another hit was this Bananas Foster. This not only would get Curious George excited, but nearly everyone at our table. The rum and caramel  sauce was sweet and complimented the bananas and ice cream excellently. They also, as you can see from the picture, did not skimp on the ice cream. I always hate when you order a dessert like this and they give you a small tablespoon of ice cream, this was not the case here. Plenty to go around.

So Stub and Rik, I would say mission accomplished in what you set out to do. You both set up a place where everyone feels comfortable, and you can have a good dinner at a reasonable price. My 16oz steak costs 24 dollars, but that also includes soup or salad and potatoes and veggies, a steal in this day in age where a lot of places are going ala carte on everything.

On a scale of zero to five steak knives, five being best, Stubrik's gets a solid 3.5 steak knives.

For more information on Stubrik's, check them out here: http://www.stubriks.com/index.html

Stubrik's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Is it Worth Getting Up For the Break of Dawn?


Break of Dawn
24351 Avenida De La Carlota #N-6
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

My friend ML is one of the few customers at work that I actually like. She is always friendly, never bugs, and makes an awesome trail mix, which I always look forward to every December. So when I told her about my blog, and that I was going to be reviewing restaurants, she suggested that I try Break of Dawn. I had never heard of it, but was eager to give it a try after she and fellow Yelpers were glowing about the place.

Break of Dawn is a breakfast/lunch place that is easy to miss. It is tucked behind Trader Joes in Laguna Hills. It is owned by a former Ritz-Carlton chef, who had to alter his career path, after a medical mishap with his son. He opened this place, so he could be close to his son and still do the work that he loves.

I had a rare Saturday off, and tired of turkey after Thanksgiving, we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to give this place a try. The restaurant is very colorful, and has a real homey feel to it. We decided to sit outside in the crisp morning air. The waiter was very attentive and ready to fulfil our needs.





I decided on the pre fixe menu, which consists of three courses. This is the first, Butternut Squash Bisque. The bisque was smooth and had a creamy flavor. Very nice way to start my meal. Accompanying the bisque were these crispy meat rolls. They were good and really were tasty when you dipped them in the bisque.




Here is my entree, Sausage and Rice. The plate featured two fried eggs, a scoop of rice, green papaya-sesame salad, and Portuguese-Hawaiian sausage. The sausage was the real winner here. Very nice flavor and it complimented the plate nicely. The salad was good, but tasted better when it was mixed with the eggs.


Here is the real star of the show on this day though. A dish so good that it does deserve two pictures on this blog. This is the french toast of Willie Wonka himself, Creme Brulee French Toast. Dusted with powdered sugar and chocolate sauce, this dessert for breakfast dish will keep you coming back for more to this eatery. Rich, but oh so satisfying, we could not devour this plate quick enough.


Here is the final one of my three courses, the Chocolate Creme Brulee. This was a mild, yet pleasing way to end my meal. The chocolate was not too over-powering and the texture was silky smooth, with the crisp top of the dish.


So I would say that we will be back to Break of Dawn. As we were sitting there we saw many more things we wanted to try. The omlettes looked amazing and the Chilaquilles-Ranchero sounds like it could be a hit as well. This place is not your typical breakfast joint, but sometimes you want to step out of the shadows and into the sun. So on a scale of 5 rays of sun to zero rays of sun, 5 being best, Break of Dawn receives 4 rays of sun!

For more information on Break of Dawn, check them out here: http://breakofdawnrestaurant.com/

Break of Dawn Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wood we like the Lumberyard? Get it?


Lumberyard
384 Forest Ave.
Laguna Beach, CA

So Katie was watching her cousin's dog in Laguna this past weekend. I never really am in this area, so after a quick search on Yelp, we came up with the Lumberyard. It is in the old Cedar Creek location. The story goes that this location was also the home of Laguna Beach Lumber Company for 62 years, hence the name of this establishment.

As we step inside the atmosphere is one of an up-scale dinner club. This Friday night they have a smooth latin/jazz sound that integrates itself into the feel of the place. The place is large, and busy, but we get right in on this Friday night at 7.

The menu is not huge, but has plenty of classic faire to choose from. Anyone can find something to pick from on the menu, whatever is your mood, from steaks, pastas, classic foods, burgers and sandwiches. So now on to the food...



These are the Lumberyard Planks, fried zucchini served with a killer lemon aioli sauce. Fried neatly without being greasy, there were so many on the plate, this could have served four people easily.  The sauce was great and was not too over-powering. Good value at nine dollars.



I was going back and forth on what to order between the Lumberyard Burger or the meatloaf wrapped in bacon, this trip I decided on the burger. The burger was cooked perfectly, with lots of bleu cheese, onions and mushrooms. Good stuff! The egg bun topped the burger off nicely. The fries were cooked well, and had a great crunch to them.



Katie got the prime rib french dip. Lots of meat piled on this sandwich, but she did say there was a lot of pieces with fat on them. The meat was good, but the sour cream horseradish needed a little less sour cream and more horseradish, it was kind of bland tasting, also some cheese on this sandwich would have been good. Once again the french roll that they used on this sandwich was great.



Now time for dessert. I went with the Hog Heaven pie. Cookie crust, chocolate ganache and peanut butter mousse. This was really rich, and had a cheesecake consistency to it. Not too bad, but nothing to go hog wild about.

All in all I felt this place was pretty good. It is the kind of joint you would go for special occasions. Prices were a little steep, but sometimes you need to splurge. So out of five axes, the Lumberyard receives 3.5 axes.

For more information on the Lumberyard, check them out here: http://www.lblumberyard.com/

Lumberyard on Urbanspoon