Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New York State of Mind at Gandolfo's - CLOSED

Gandolfo's New York Delicatessen
23981 Alicia Pkwy., Ste. 120
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

I drive past Gandolfo's just about every time I leave my house. It opened last year, and I just recently made it in to give it a try. Gandolfo's is a chain that was begun in Utah of all places. I know what you are thinking, "Deli sandwiches from Utah?". According to their web site, the founder of Gandolfo's was a New York native and lamented the fact that he could not find a good deli sandwich in Provo, so he decided to open up a shop. 45 shops later in 14 states, let's see if he has succeeded in his quest to provide quality New York sandwiches west of the Mississippi.

When we visited on a recent Wednesday night, we were one of a handful of people that came through the door. The place is decorated with the obligatory New York sports teams posters, and NY street signs. They do keep the place clean though, the workers were pretty busy wiping things down on our visit.

Here were our two sides that we tried. The pasta salad was pretty good as far as pasta salads go. It had a nice mild flavor, and I liked the whole pieces of broccoli in this salad. The red potato salad was good as well. It had a decent flavor with a hint of dill.

At Gandolfo's, they have over fifty sandwiches to choose from. Above is Katie's pick, the Rockefeller Rueben. She chose turkey to go along with the Swiss, sauerkraut, and spicy mustard. This sandwich comes on rye. I thought that this sandwich was good but boring, It would have been better if she would have gone with corned beef or pastrami. She liked it though and really thought the bread was great.

Next up was the Gandy's Coney Island Dog. Their hot dogs are made by Nathan's and served on a hero roll. The Coney Island dog comes with kraut, onions and spicy mustard. They definitely did not skimp on the toppings. There was a lot of kraut on this dog, and the taste was really good. A little steep at $3.69, but you pay that same price at the ballpark, for an inferior dog, so it really is a decent deal.

After much debate, I decided on the Carnegie Hall sandwich. Corned beef, turkey, swiss, coleslaw, and Russian dressing, all on rye. This sandwich was as good as it looks. With all of the stuff on it, I thought it was going to make the bread soggy, but the bread stood up. At $7.89, again you think that this might be too much for this sandwich, but now that Subway is done with their five dollar sub deal, and this is not a sandwich you can get from Subway, it makes this sandwich very worth the money.

So in review, I really liked Gandolfo's. I think that they succeeded in making a good New York sandwich. They will definitely make it into my sandwich cycle. With 50 different sandwiches to choose from, they have the variety to keep me coming back.

So out of five subways, five being best to zero being worst, Gandolfo's gets three solid subways.

For more information on Gandolfo's check them out here:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Clucking It Up at the Rooster Cafe!

Rooster Cafe
750 Saint Clair Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Having Sundays off rocks! I have had a string of them off recently, and could not be happier. It gives me a chance to try some breakfast places that I have been hearing about. So I rounded up my girlfriend and parents and headed to Rooster Cafe in Costa Mesa.

This place is about as simple as their web site. We arrived at about 10:30 and the place had a steady stream of people coming in and out. So lets see if these people are coming for the food.

My Mom started with the Double Espresso above. She really enjoyed this. I, on the other hand am not a coffee drinker, so I abstained from trying this. I really liked the picture, so I wanted to include this though. 


We might as well talk about what my Mom ate first. She opted for the Early Riser. Fried egg, bacon, mayo and cheese on grilled sourdough bread. Simple, but delicious, and at $3.99 it was a steal. When a breakfast sandwich at McDonalds can cost $3.49, this is a bargain and better tasting also! This was definitely the right size portion for my Mom also.

This colorful plate belonged to my Dad. The Breakfast Tacos looked really good. I did not get a chance to try them though, because they were gone pretty quickly, and I was not offered any. They were served with egg, bacon, cheese, avocado and hot sauce. This would have been what I had ordered, but I wanted us to all get something different. Maybe next time I will get this.

In the mood for something sweet? Try Katie's order of Texas Toast. They gave her three slices of toast served with butter and syrup. This was not as heavy as regular egg battered French toast. It had a good taste and very good texture. This dish was a shade under $5, another good value.

Lastly, was my Hearty Scramble. This was scrambled eggs mixed with bacon, sausage, ham, cheese and onions. Also served with breakfast potatoes. The potatoes were very good and crispy. The eggs were good as well, but could of had more meat mixed in with them. For added flavor I used a good amount of hot sauce. 

Rooster Cafe was all that it was cracked up to be. Yes, I know that roosters do not lay eggs, but this is a solid breakfast place and we look forward to going back for lunch. They are only opened from 7-3 daily, so do not plan on any dinners here. The workers here were also very cool, and the place had a nice, although crowded, atmosphere. The value was also outstanding, all the food above plus three other drinks were $28 dollars total

Out of five hen houses, because what do roosters love more than hen houses?, five being best to zero being worst, Rooster Cafe receives three solid hen houses. 

To get some more information on Rooster Cafe, look them up here:   

Rooster Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hanna's A Hit or Miss?

Hanna's Restaurant and Bar
22195 El Paseo, Suite 110
Rancho Santa Margartia, CA 92688

Looking for someplace different, and close by, Katie and I headed to Hanna's in Rancho Santa Margarita. I had lived in Rancho for five years and had never made it to Hanna's. The place is hip and dark, with a lot of action in the bar on this Thursday night. This is the type of place you would expect to see an OC housewife, or a stray hockey player dining in. Let's see if the cool vibe jumps to the food.

So after looking at the prices of the steaks, ($29 and up), we decided on the Prime Filet Mignon Skewers, as an appetizer. This was a little more within our budget at $13. The skewers are served over onion straws, with two sauces, a chimichurri sauce and a fantastic garlic bleu cheese sauce. Both sauces went really well with the meat. The meat was cooked to my liking, but Katie thought it was too rare, but she does like things well done. After trying this, I am sure that their steaks would be good, but a little over-priced.

Above is Katie's Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. She really liked this dish, but thought it was really rich. I tried a few bites of it and was not as impressed as her. The lobster was rubbery, and the dish had too many bread crumbs for my taste. I do agree with her that this plate was very rich, but I would have been disappointed if I had ordered this as my meal.

Next up was my entree, Beef Short Ribs. This was served with garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli tempura. I really liked the way this was presented. The mashed potatoes were good and the broccoli was a pleasant surprise. The meat though, was not too great. I felt that it was dry, and lacking of flavor. This is the first time I have ever ordered short ribs out before, so maybe this is the way they always are, so I will hesitate before ordering them again. 

For the grand finale we went with the Chocolate Infused Bread Pudding. This was a very good finish to an average meal. Once again the dish was presented well , and this time the taste did not disappoint. The bread pudding was nice and spongy, and had a great taste.

Hanna's is an okay place. I get the feeling that we just did not get the right entrees off of the menu. The service was probably the best out of anyplace we have gone to on this blog so far. They really made us feel welcome. That might get us to try Hanna's again the future. But for now, out of 5 OC housewives, (five being best to zero being worst), Hanna's gets 2.5 OC housewives.

For more information on Hanna's click here:

Hanna's Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Man Vs. Food... Orange County Version

7802 Orangethorpe Ave.
Buena Park, CA 90621

I love the show Man V. Food, and always wonder how I would do on the show. For those of you who do not know the show, the host, (Adam Richman), goes around the country entering eating contests and sampling the local cuisine. What a dream job! Anyways, I and my friend from work, Gary decided we would see who could eat a two-pound bacon cheeseburger fastest. So we rounded up our cheering sections and went to Fuddruckers in Buena Park, and here is how it all went down.

Fuddruckers only sells a one-pound burger, so we ordered two of them. The place was packed but we found a table for the seven of us. It took about ten to fifteen minutes for the burgers to come out. Then we had to top them at the toppings bar. I went for simple, just mayo and relish. He went simple also, with just mayo and mustard added, who needs veggies anyways, this is man food!

The first bites were so good. The beef, cheese, and bacon were so tasty, that we both were neck and neck after the first burger. We finished the first burger in a blazing four minutes, I knew I had my hands full trying to beat Gary, but I was not going to show any weakness. One pound down, one to go!

The bun is also worth noting here also. They are made fresh daily and was a great accompaniment to the burger. I have gotten a pound burger at The Counter, and it came out on a regular bun, that did not even come close to covering the patty. Not a  problem here though.

So into the second burger, I noticed that Gary was starting to slow down, and I was through the first half of burger number two. I was trying to eat as fast as possible before I hit the wall. The burger, of course, was still good, but the taste was starting to get to me. I tried to eat some fries to change up the taste, but that only worked for one or two bites. So after about sitting there for thirty minutes, we declared the contest off, and here are the results. 


Gary's plate is the picture on top. He ate just under a pound and a half of the burger. Not a bad effort. I know what you are probably saying about my plate, "You just had a few more bites, why didn't you finish it?".  I was finished and had hit my wall. I had once watched Man V Food, and he was attempting a twelve egg omelet and hash browns. He quit with two bites left. I now know how he felt. I tried to play it off like I was fine, but I felt the burger stuffed up to my neck. Not a pleasant feeling.

I would definitely go back to Fuddruckers again, but I will probably just stick with one pound of burger. So out of five cows, five being best to zero being worst, Fuddruckers gets three solid cows.

To find a location of your nearest Fuddruckers, check them out here:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Making Progress at El Progreso?

El Progreso
24602 Raymond Way
Lake Forest, CA 92630

I am always in the mood for Mexican food, so I dragged Katie down to try El Progreso Mexican Food in Lake Forest. This place is located in the same shopping center where I get my haircut, so I have walked by there a few times. It is never very crowded, and this was also the case on this Thursday night visit also. The joint is really big, and since there were no other customers in here, it really looked gigantic.

El Progreso was opened by employees of the now defunct, Carmel's. According to other reviews that I have read, the menus are exactly the same. I had never been to Carmel's, but people really seem to like it, lets see if I can become a convert.

Here is their salsa, with onions added. They have a pretty nice salsa bar, with cilantro, three kinds of salsa, diced onions and a avocado sauce. Very good variety, for a fast food Mexican place.

This is Katie's plate. She got two chicken taquitos and a chicken taco. I really liked the taco. It was packed with meat, and when the salsa was added, this was a winning combination. The taquitos were a little dry, and the rice and beans were average. This plate, like mine was rather cold. The food really came out fast, so maybe they had it sitting around for a bit before we got there.

Here is the rather boring looking, and boring tasting cheese quesadilla. This cheese and tortilla concoction had no taste was served luke warm. Not very good.

This is my carnitas burrito. This burrito was a little skimpy on meat, but they do have burritos with all meat, next time I will choose that one. This burrito was really heavy on the beans. I did like the jack cheese that they used. The taste of the burrito was good, but did not blow me away. At $5 I thought that this burrito was worth the price.

Do not go to El Progreso and expect to have the best Mexican food of your life. It is a decent fast food place. If I were in the area, I would try it again. So out of five pilgrims, (get it?, like the novel) El Progreso gets two pilgrims.  

El Progreso does not have a web site, but you can check them out here for more information:

El Progreso Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Raising the Steaks At Bungalow!

The Bungalow
2441 East Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

So I have done thirty posts and now you are all thinking, "Why is he reviewing the Bungalow again?". Because they have an awesome special on Sunday nights, that I just could not keep to myself. Below is a picture of the special menu.

Yes, that is right, unlimited Filet Mignon, for twenty-five dollars. You also have your choice of five sides. Here are the pictures of my four steaks.

These steaks were cooked perfectly. I had mine medium rare and could cut it with a fork, just like my previous trip here. The side items were also pretty good. I thought the mashed potatoes were okay, but the creamed corn is a must have. Not as sweet as Gulliver's creamed corn, but still really good. The steaks did get smaller as the night moved on, but the taste also got better. I was in filet heaven with this.

Not in the mood for steak? The Bungalow also has six 3-course meals for under thirty dollars, Sunday through Thursday, in the bar. The above is the Bungalow salad. The bite that I had tasted pretty good, and everyone really raved about the dressing. 

These are two of the entree's that are included in the three course dinners. The one above is Fat Tire Halibut Fish and Chips,($24 for the three course meal). The batter was really good and the halibut was really buttery tasting. The cole slaw was the only thing on the plate that lacked in flavor. 

The filet mignon three course dinner, ($29),  was served with polenta, spinach, and an awesome mushroom and Boursin sauce over it, really a good dish.

Lastly, here is the best Creme Brule that any of us at the table have ever had. It was so light and creamy, that even after my four steaks, I still had room left for more than my fair share of Katie's dessert. This is another must have.

With all of these specials going on, you can see why this was worth a return visit for us. The other three course meals that they have are; Beef Short Ribs($27), Pan Roasted Artic Char($25), Pesto Marinated Chicken Breast($24), and Pork Tenderloin($28). All of these are listed over $30 on the regular menu, so this really is a great deal.

Out of five filets, Five being best to zero being worst, The bungalow gets four filets, (just like the number that I ate here).

For more information on Bungalow, check them out here:

Bungalow on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 8, 2010

Clocking Out at the Newport Rib Company CLOSED

Newport Rib Company
27742 Antonio Parkway, Suite K7
Ladera Ranch, CA 92694

It was Orange county restaurant week and Katie and I had not really taken advantage of the situation, so we headed over to Newport Rib Company in Ladera Ranch. I had been to this location one time before, and their other location in Costa Mesa two or three times, (they also have one other location in Long Beach, the Naples Rib Company). Funny that they do not actually have a location in Newport though.

On this Friday night we got right in the joint. The Newport Rib Company is kind of off by its self, in the big shopping center at Antonio and Crown Valley. There are lots of empty places in this shopping area. We were seated in the patio area of the restaurant. It was not fully heated, but I am warm blooded anyways, so it did not bother me too much, but I am sure that others were a little uncomfortable out there. Lets see if the food can warm us up a little bit.

For restaurant week, they had a three course fixed menu for twenty dollars a person. The courses included an appetizer, entree and a dessert. Above is the Half Onion Brick. I liked this, it was a little greasy, but that is too be expected with a brick of onions. The barbeque sauce was a good accompaniment to this starter.

This was Katie's Grilled Artichoke, served with butter, mayo and hollandaise sauce. I liked that they had three dipping sauces served with this dish. The artichokes were good, but I do not usually like artichoke served this way. There was not a lot of meat, or whatever they call the edible part of the artichoke leave on these. The hollandaise sauce was a little too runny also.

Here is Katie's main course. She opted for the tri-tip, with chili and rice pilaf. Okay, so I do have to admit something to you, Katie likes her meat well done. So it is hard to judge this tri-tip. I am trying to get her to come around on this, but I am afraid that I have my work cut out for me. The meat tasted okay, but was not tender, as expected and not their fault. The rice pilaf was un-remarkable. The star of her plate was the chili. Spicy and flavorful, I would have loved to have put this on a hot dog, or a burger. Very good chili.

Here are my Baby Back Ribs, with mac & cheese, and garlic mashed potatoes. First, the ribs were not fall off the bone, a little dry. There also was not a lot of meat on these. The barbeque sauce was really good, and needed more of it on the ribs. I thought it was funny that they did not have bottles of their barbeque sauce on the table, probably cutting down on costs that way. The mac & cheese was plain and we both agreed that it needed more flavor. The garlic mashed potatoes were the best thing on this plate. The texture was right on, and had a good taste. One other thing, the pineapple that they served with our plates was very sweet and tasted very fresh.

Here is Katie's New York Style Cheesecake. This was real cheesecake and had a real tart taste. Katie said that this tasted homemade. She really liked this dessert.

This was my dessert, Double Chocolate Mousse Cake. Both parts of this plate were good. I liked the white chocolate part the best, it was rich and creamy and had a great flavor. The dark chocolate side had a lot of cocoa, almost too much, but it was good in its own way too.

All of this food for twenty dollars a person was a great value. Not so sure that I would be coming back here though. Bits and parts of the food were good, but what should have been the best parts of the meal, (the meats), were not very good. I liked the chili, barbeque sauce and dessert the best, so not quite sure this is worth a return trip. Also the service was not too good. Our guy left us hanging for large periods of time.

So out of five staplers, (because companies need lots of staplers), five being best to zero being worst, Newport Rib Company gets 2 staplers.

If you know of a great barbeque place in the OC, leave me a comment please. Dying to try a great place.

For more information on Newport Rib Company click here:

Newport Rib Company on Urbanspoon