Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fair Food at Joe's?

124 W. Commonwealth
Fullerton, CA 92832

We have been to downtown Fullerton a lot recently. We have gone to Roscoe's, Heroes, and Slidebar within the last few months. Now we were headed to Joe's for a Food Frenzy event, Foodie Fest IV, and to wish Food Frenzy columnist, Niyaz good luck in his future endeavors, because he was leaving Food Frenzy after a three year stint at the Register.

I had never been to Joe's before. I knew going in that they had a very odd menu, and that will become evident to you in a bit. The vibe at Joe's is just like all the other joints in downtown Fullerton, kind of laid back, with a kind of grunge feel to it. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, let's see about the food.

The menu at Joe's can be described as county fair meets Cajun back woods restaurant. Above is the appetizer Rocky Mountain Oysters. If you have no idea what this is, simply put, it is bull testicles. They are pounded flat, breaded and then deep fried. I had one of these, and they did not taste too bad. It was not as chewy as I thought, and the breading dominated the flavor. Not sure I would get a whole order of these, but since everyone was trying them, I was game.

Katie's pick for dinner was the Lido's Goat-Cheese-Stuffed Italian Sausage, served with grilled peppers, onions and marinara. She subbed out zucchini squash for the fries. She felt the goat cheese was non-existent in this sausage. She liked the sweetness of the peppers and marinara, and felt that it balanced the subtle spiciness of the sausage. I did not try her food, because I had my hands full with my own meal.

I had the Joe's Picks, which was a sampling of three of the most popular sausages at Joe's. Rattlesnake and rabbit, duck and bacon, and chicken and jalapeno sausages, served with condiments. The condiments were sauerkraut, chopped tomatoes, and a really tasty kind of jalapeno pepper slaw. My favorite sausage of the night was the chicken and jalapeno sausage. It had a great spicy flavor and worked well with the jalapeno slaw. The flavor just burst out of its casing. The rattlesnake and rabbit was the second best, with its smoky flavor. This worked well with the sauerkraut. The duck and bacon sausage was a little too salty, and a little bland for my taste. If you want to try a variety of their sausages, this is the plate for you.

Joe's is not only known as a sausage place, they are also known for their deep fried desserts. What we have above is the Fried PB&J. This could be one of the best desserts we have had in a long while. They serve this with ice cream, chocolate sauce, and berries on top. Alone, the sandwich was a little dry, but with the ice cream, it became magical. I will never look at a peanut butter and jelly sandwich the same way, ever again. Definitely get this when you come here.

Joe's is a novelty restaurant that is definitely worth a visit. You will find a lot of things on the menu that they do not have anywhere else, (smoked ostrich sausage, frog legs, a whole turkey leg, and fried ho-ho's and cupcakes, to name a few). The prices at Joe's are a little steep, entree's average around $11, and the desserts are a more reasonable $6.75. But for the adventure of eating smoked alligator, or fried pepperoni chips, it is worth it.

Out of five coffee's, (because another name for coffee is Joe, sorry, I know that is corny), five being best to zero being worst, Joe's gets 3 coffee's.

Joe's does not have a web site, but you can find reviews here:

Joe's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Football Frenzy #4 - Draft Choice - CLOSED

Draft Choice Sports Grill
30100 Town Center Drive #A
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

We are still on our quest to find the perfect spot to watch NFL football in the OC. Are criteria is pretty simple; good food, good service, and good atmosphere. This should be no trouble at all. Well, we have found some decent places to watch the games, but not the ultimate place we would like to hang out all the time. Let's see if Draft Choice can become that place.

Draft Choice is located in a sleepy, little strip mall off of Crown Valley. From the outside, it looks very small, but once inside it balloons up to almost double the size it appears from the outside. The interior is dark, but the glow from the many TVs lights the way. They have well over thirty TVs here, and projection ones as well. No matter where you sit, you will be able to see a good many of the games. A very good layout for watching many games.

We arrived midway through the afternoon games, so we were relegated to sitting at a covered pool table. The waitress came over quickly and took our order. I had read reviews on other web sites that the service here had been poor, but we got nothing but good service. It might be different in the morning when they are a little busier, but that is what we experienced.  Now on to the food.

To start off, we ordered Irish Nachos. This mound of fries was covered in cheese and bacon and served with ranch dip. This was more than enough for Katie and I. The first ten bites of this were good, but then it just started tasting like a giant salt lick. This appetizer in moderation would have been good though.

Katie had your basic Turkey Sandwich with salad as a side item. She felt that this was just your basic sandwich. Nothing much to say about it other than it filled her up. I did not try a bite of this.

I went the turkey route also with the Turkey Melt. I was expecting something a little different here. Maybe the vegetables threw me off, or the fact that a melt came with avocado, but this was not what I had envisioned when I ordered it. A melt is supposed to have cheese, and here the cheese was indistinguishable. It was not bad, but again after the Irish nachos, I should have gone with something a little less salty.

The food at Draft Choice is your average bar food. Knowing that when you walk in helps you take it for what it's worth. The food is definitely not meant to be the star at Draft Choice, that would be the sports. The atmosphere was good, there were a lot of people that were definitely into the games. The service was good also, no major problems.

I like Draft Choice, but unfortunately, this will not be crowned ultimate football hangout. The food is just okay, and it needs to be better. The atmosphere and the service were good enough when we were here, but it might have been helped by my team's miracle win over the much-hated Colts.

Out of five Bert Bell's, (NFL commissioner, who invented the draft in 1935), five being best to zero being worst, Draft Choice gets 2.5 Bert Bell's.

Draft Choice does not have a web site, but you can check out reviews here:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Following the Stampede to Elephant Bar - CLOSED

Elephant Bar
24155 Laguna Hills Mall #1055
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

It is rare that my friend, Laurie gets out of the house for happy hour. She is a mother of two and is always busy running around taking the kids to school, working at her job, and trying to find time to keep up the house duties. So when she got a spare minute to meet up for happy hour, the only hesitation from us was, where should we go?

We headed to Elephant Bar at the Laguna Hills Mall. We had been here one other time and remembered that they had good deals during happy hour. Elephant Bar has 47 locations in 10 different states. They have two Orange county restaurants, the other OC spot is in Irvine. Elephant Bar has been around since 1980, and they specialize in Asian inspired food. Their happy hour is from 3 to 7, Monday through Friday, and 9 to close seven days a week. Let's see if this happy hour will make us happy.

To start off we both got two of their $4 cocktails. Laurie got the Classic Mojito with Cruzan Estate Rum. I went with a Long Island Ice Tea. We both thought that these were decent prices for these drinks. I thought my Long Island was okay, not the best tasting one I have ever had, but not the worst either. Laurie felt that her Mojito was refreshing, and she must have liked it because she ordered another one later on. Some of their other drink specials included a $2 Margarita, $3 well drinks, and $4 Mai Tai's and large draft beers. Let's check out the food.

Laurie's first choice for an appetizer was the $4 Vietnamese Shrimp Spring Rolls. I made a point of telling you that this was Laurie's choice because these were awful. The only reason I knew that these had shrimp in them was because it said so on the menu. Tasteless is one word comes to mind, and avoidance is another. The two sauces that came with this barely added any flavor to these spring rolls. Stay away from these!

Laurie redeemed herself with her next pick, the $4 Artichoke Dip. I am not saying that this was the best artichoke dip ever, but after eating the tasteless spring rolls, this was a big improvement. This came out piping hot and had a good consistency. We polished this off pretty quick.

The start of round two of appetizers arrived, and leading off were the $6 Niu Niu Coconut Shrimp Skewers. These heavily breaded shrimp were just okay. No coconut taste present, let alone shrimp. This dish that had flavor written all over it, disappointed us with its mediocrity.

Our last appetizer of the evening was the $4 Baja Chicken Quesadilla. Now, this had to have some flavor right? No, it did not. This was your basic quesadilla, it did have a fair amount of chicken in it, but the taste was pretty bland. Still, this quesadilla was our second favorite appetizer of the night, although that does not say too much.

The happy hour at Elephant Bar is a good deal for people who are not too picky when it comes to food. The way the restaurant was packed, it seems like a lot of people fit into this category. The drink specials are pretty good, and the only redeeming value about the food is, that it will soak up some of the alcohol in your system. So the next time Laurie gets an afternoon off, we will have to find another happy hour to try. If you have any advice on where we should go for a great happy hour, please leave a comment.

Out of five Stampy's, (Bart's pet elephant on the Simpsons), five being best to zero being worst, Elephant Bar gets 2 Stampy's.

For more information on Elephant Bar, click here:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Barbecue Bliss at Blake's Place?

Blake's Place
2905 E. Miraloma #3
Anaheim, CA 92806

Ever since we got back from our vacation to Dallas, Katie and I have been on our own personal journey to find the best barbecue that Orange county has to offer. We have tried several places, chain restaurants, hole in the wall places, and reader recommended joints. One thing that all these places had in common, was the fact that they were not as good as anything we had in Texas. I am not saying that all of these were bad, but they all were lacking in one aspect, either the meats were not good, or the sides were weak, or a mixture of both. Let's see if Blake's can break our streak.

Blake's Place is located off the beaten track to say the least. Located in a very industrial area, and opened 14 years ago, they have a rabid following and glowing testimonials from local magazines, newspapers, and fellow bloggers. So needless to say, I was very excited to see what Blake's Place had in store for us.

My Mom has a small appetite, so she opted for the Half Sandwich and Salad. For her sandwich, she got the pulled pork. This sandwich was killer. The crispness of the Coleslaw, the right amount of sauce, and the tender meat made this sandwich a winner. Mom gushed, "the sandwich had a really good flavor, and the sweet sauce was a good compliment to it."

My indecisive Dad went with the Sandwich Sampler, a great deal at $7.99. The sandwich sampler had three half sandwiches of smoked beef brisket, turkey, and pork. My Dad felt that these sandwiches were great, and made better when he added extra sauce, because he likes things, " a little messy". I also thought that these sandwiches were good. The meats were moist, and you could taste the smokiness, but it did not overpower the meat.

Katie and I decided we would split two items. I was really hungry, so our first dish was Blake's Big Rib Plate. This mountain of ribs featured baby backs, pork spare ribs, and a beef rib. Also included were Blake's BBQ beans, Coleslaw, French fries, and garlic bread. I could have eaten this all by myself, but I had a little something else on the way. The meat fell off of the bone with all of these ribs. They say that they slow cook all of there meats, some up to 16 hours, and it shows. The baby backs were my favorite, with the beef rib a close second. The sides here were good as well. The fries were crisp, the Coleslaw had a good flavor, with a decent amount of dressing on it, and the beans had a sweet tang to them. Excellent rib plate!

Pictured above, and definitely worth a second look is The Beast. This two and a half pound sandwich is the type of food that makes a place a legend! The sandwich has pulled pork, pulled BBQ chicken, chopped beef, Coleslaw, pickle, red onion, and BBQ sauce. They have an eating challenge with this sandwich, (the record is four minutes and five seconds), but I wanted to be able to enjoy it, and I am so glad I did. The meat was so tender and flavorful, even the bun was good. I tackled this sandwich with a knife and fork, and could not get it down quick enough.

I think I have found my barbecue nirvana. All of the items that we tried were really good, and there is definitely more on the menu that I would love to try in the future. The prices were not exorbitant, they may even be too cheap. Even writing this post has made my mouth water. I think it is time to go back!

Out of five Fred's, (because that was the name of Robert Blake's cockatoo on Baretta), five being best to zero being worst, Blake's Place gets four solid Fred's.

For more information on Blake's Place, click here:

Blake's Place on Urbanspoon

Footbal Frenzy # 3 - Patsy's Irish Bar

Patsy's Irish Pub
25571 Jeronimo Road
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

Our quest to find the best place to watch football on Sunday mornings has brought us to Patsy's. Our criteria is this; we need to have a good atmosphere, good service, and good food. That is about all we are looking for. Not too much to ask for, right? You would be surprised. We have had a few near misses, but have yet to find that perfect place, that will become our place to watch football. Let's see if Patsy's will become our place.

Patsy's has two locations. This one in Mission Viejo, and the other is in Laguna Niguel. Patsy's was opened by a husband and wife team, that have turned their little seafood restaurant into two thriving Irish pubs and restaurants.

We made it to Patsy's just as they were kicking off the morning games. Right off of the bat you can tell that the customers that were watching football here, have been coming here for many seasons. They all knew each other, and knew the two bartenders by name. We sat at the bar, and were greeted by a very competent bartender, Sara, who provided us with great service throughout our time here. Good service check! Now on to the food and drinks.

To shake the effects of a mild hangover from the night before, I decided to get back on the horse and have a Spicy Bloody Mary. This is your basic bloody Mary, not the best I have had, but not the worst. It was a little light on the tomato juice, but that just leaves more room for the alcohol, right? Anyways, this was a steal at $3. And thanks to Sara, my glass was never empty.

Patsy's has a special breakfast menu for Sunday football. They have five selections to choose from, and this was Katie's choice, the Biscuits and Gravy, with Eggs, and Potatoes. She had low expectations for her meal here, but she ended up being happy with it. She liked the peppery taste of the gravy, and felt that the eggs were cooked fine. She was not too big of a fan of the potatoes though, calling them, "forgettable".

For my breakfast I went with the Spanish Fry. The Spanish fry was a chorizo omelet, served with red and green salsa, then, piled on top of two tortillas. This was okay, not bad, not great. Bland tasting for a Spanish omelet. The potatoes were just okay also.

One cool thing that they do at Patsy's is to have a football pool for all their customers. There is no cost to join, and the winner receives a $20 gift card. I wish more places would think about doing that for football, it was a nice touch.

So I guess you can tell that Patsy's will not be our ultimate place to watch football. We really liked the service, and the neighborhood bar aspect of the place was cool, but the TVs at the bar, where we were sitting, were too small. Also, the layout of the place is not conducive to watching more than two games at a time. The food was average, but nothing to write home about. The prices were good, and we will go back, but maybe skip the breakfast, and try their regular menu.

Out of five Joe Montana's, (because he is probably the biggest, "Irish",  NFL star), five being best to zero being worst, Patsy's Irish Pub gets 2.5 Joe Montana's.

For more information on Patsy's Irish Pub, click here:

Patsy's Irish Pub on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Rambiling on Down To Roscoe's

Roscoe's Famous Deli
116 W. Commonwealth
Fullerton, CA 92832

I have been hearing from friends about Roscoe's for years, but it took an email from a reader, to give me the extra nudge to get me to go, (thanks Mary). Roscoe's is owned by the same guy that owns Heroe's and they also have a Roscoe's location in Chino Hills. Let's step inside and check out the sandwiches.

We showed up on a Saturday night, about six o'clock. There were a few people in the newly expanded restaurant. As this was our first time here, we later found out that they have recently took over a business next door, to create more room. After some initial confusion on where to order, we stepped up to the deli counter and made our selections.

This titan of a sandwich, which is actually named the Titan, was Katie's choice for the evening. This sandwich consisted of Turkey, Pastrami, and Swiss on Rye with Russian Dressing. Katie exclaimed, "This was the best
deli sandwich I have ever had!" She liked the simplicity of it, the fact that there was no lettuce or tomato, so you were forced to focus on the mountain of meat. I liked the contrast between the two meats. The saltiness of the pastrami, and the smoothness of the turkey. You could also tell how fresh the meat was. Very good sandwich.

For my sandwich at Roscoe's, I went with the Reuben "Castillo". I chose corned beef to go along with the sauerkraut, Swiss, Russian dressing, and rye bread. This rye bread was pillowy soft, and had a great mild texture, and stood up to the wetness of the sandwich well.. The corned beef was cooked, just like Mom's. One of the best Reuben's I have had in awhile.

The sides at Roscoe's are okay. They are meant to enhance the sandwich, and for the most part they do that. The Potato Salad was probably the best out of the three sides we had. The egg was very evident, and the potatoes were cooked well. The Macaroni Salad was fair, but I am not one to be excited by macaroni salad. The Coleslaw was nothing to get excited over either, but it was better than the macaroni salad.

Katie and I have made other trips to downtown Fullerton recently, and it has taken all of our willpower  not to go back to Roscoe's to try another sandwich. The sandwiches are that good. The atmosphere had a cool vibe also. Kind of a sports bar, mixed with a rock and roll crowd. I had heard that bikers frequent the place, but we did not see any when we were there. We will definitely be back to try more of their sandwiches.

Out of five admirals, (because the mascot for the Milwaukee Admirals is named Roscoe), five being best to zero being worst, Roscoe's Famous Deli receives three solid admirals.

For more information on Roscoe's Famous Deli, click here:

Roscoe's Famous Deli on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Journey Continues at Texas Pit BBQ

Texas Pit B.B.Q.
24061 Raymond Way #2
Lake Forest, CA 92630

My quest to find some good barbeque has brought Richard, Carissa, and I to Texas Pit BBQ. Texas Pit is located in a strip mall, just off of El Toro Road. This area is more known for its Mexican food, than barbeque, but we were hoping to find a diamond in the rough. I have had barbeque in Texas, and was anticipating that this could match what I have had there, let's see how it goes.

We arrived at about four on a Friday afternoon, and we were the only people in the small, twenty tables, or so, restaurant. Not a big surprise, considering the time of day though. The waitress let us choose our seat, and we got down to the business of ordering our food. Here is what we came up with.

I know what you are thinking, "I thought this was going to be a post about barbeque?", easy hold on there, Judgemental Joe! We will get to the barbeque in a minute, but this was Carissa's dinner. She opted for the Chili Cheeseburger. This one-third pound burger was topped with American cheese, and had the chili served on the side. Carissa liked that the chili was served on the side, so she could add as much as she wanted. I kind of thought that it was a little odd to serve a chili burger that way, but every place is different. I did not try the burger, but she enjoyed it. I did try some of the chili, and was not too impressed. Really bland tasting, and not a lot going on with it. But if you really want to talk about bland, let's talk about their Cole slaw.  I am not sure this had any dressing anywhere close to it. Tasted like shredded up cabbage, right from the bag at your neighborhood grocery store. Avoid this at all costs! Now on to the barbeque.

Richard, looking forward to leftovers the next day, ordered a full rack of Baby Back Ribs. These ribs he described as, "Excellent". I have to admit that these were some really good ribs, good flavor, not overly smoky. They had a good amount of meat on them, and the sauce was not over-powering. The ribs were fall off of the bone, with a little bit of effort. Very well done ribs here.

Richard's two side items are above. The half ear of corn was under cooked according to Richard. I did not try the corn. I did try the BBQ Beans, and they were plain, lacking of flavor, insipid, vapid, (Can you tell I am using my thesaurus?), Basically they were pinto beans in water. Not good at all.

As is my custom at a new barbeque place, I usually get a sampler of as many meats as they have on one plate. Here we have the Sampler Platter. This dish contained, brisket, BBQ chicken, sausage and pork spare ribs. My plate I felt was just okay. The sausage was nothing special. The chicken was a little dry in pieces. I liked the flavor of the spare rib, but there was a lot of fat on one of the ribs I had. The pulled brisket was unmemorable. I wish I could of had it sliced instead of shredded. For my sides I had the potato salad. This was the only side that was anywhere close to good. I also unfortunately had the Cole slaw, and it was not good.

Our quest for barbeque nirvana continues. On the positive side for Texas Pit, they have pretty good prices. My sampler platter was only $13.99, and Richard's rack of ribs were $19.99, about five dollars cheaper than across the street at Lucille's. The meats at Texas Pit were average to good for the baby backs, but the sides were awful. It seems to me that it will be difficult to find a barbeque place that can make all the meats, and sides well. BBQ places seem to specialize in one or two specialty meats, and forget about everything else. So the journey goes on.

Out of five oil rigs, five being best to zero being worst, Texas Pit Barbeque gets 2.5 oil rigs.

Texas Pit Barbeque does not have a web site, but you can check out some reviews here:

Texas Pit BBQ on Urbanspoon