Sunday, January 15, 2012

For Pete's Sake, an Awful Time at Peter's Gourmade!

Peter's Gourmade Grill
600 East Bay Ave. Ste. A7
Newport Beach, CA 92661

I am not going to sugar coat this review. I was more than a little upset after leaving Peter's Gourmade Grill. I had heard all of the great reviews. I had seen all the wonderful pictures of the burgers. I admit I was already writing a positive review in my head even before walking in the joint. All the fanfare, all the high hopes, dashed like most of my favorite sports teams success this year, (tough year for my Ducks and Jaguars, but I will save that topic for when I start a sports blog).

By now I am sure that you know the story of Peter's Gourmade Grill. Opened in a Valero gas station in Tustin, this tiny 100 square foot restaurant got food critics and bloggers talking by serving up gourmet burgers, sandwiches and fries. The gas station closed down, and they were still serving food out of the tiny space. New owners came in, the lease agreement became in doubt, and finally, according to the Peter's Gourmade website, the relationship with the new owners became toxic, and they decided to relocate to the corner of McFadden and Newport Avenue. This location opens later this month.

While all this craziness was going on with the Tustin location, they managed to open up a second location at the Balboa Fun Zone. Near where the carousel used to turn, this is a bigger location for Peter's. Plenty more storage space than the digs in Tustin. This area of some of my favorite childhood memories, would soon become one of my worst as a food blogger.

We arrived at 6:30 on a colder than normal, Saturday night. The Balboa area was not deserted, but foot traffic was not what it would normally be on a warmer night. We got to Peter's, and there were two tables of four eating their food. Stepping up to the counter to order, I already knew what I was having. The iconic ABC Burger. Denied. I was told they were out of avocado and cheddar cheese. Okay, a little disappointed, but stuff happens. I will take a Rammer Burger. No can do. They are out of pastrami, and they do not have Swiss cheese. In fact, we are told they have no cheese on the premises other than Feta. So, with such a limited menu, this is what we decided to consume.

I finally settled on a Mushroom Swiss and Bacon Burger. The burger did have a good taste, but without the cheese on this burger, it was really salty. The patty was way over seasoned. I am sure the Swiss would have mellowed this out a little bit, but of course that is conjecture on my part. I did find the potato bun a nice touch.

Katie got a little creative with her Veggie Burger. She added Feta cheese to it. Like me, she felt this burger was very salty, and the patty fell apart on her.

The only item we ended up coming here for, and actually getting was the Peter's Greek Fries. These shoestring fries were topped with gyro meat, tomatoes, feta cheese, onion, oregano, and served with homemade Tzatziki sauce. These fries saved our trip from becoming a complete bust, they were great as advertised. The gyro meat was very tender and tasted great, the Tzatziki sauce really balanced this out wonderfully. Unfortunately, we got their last fork in the entire place, so we had to take turns eating this. One fork in the entire place, really?

The menu at Peter's is not the largest, and it is made considerably smaller when they are out of basic things, such as cheese and pastrami. Out of the seven burgers on their menu, five of them have either cheese or pastrami. That works out to them being out of 72% of their burgers, as written on their menu. Throw in the fact that they were out of lids for soft drinks, there aforementioned lack of forks, and the marshmallow they used in the interesting sounding  Sweet Potato Gooey's, and it is a wonder that this place is open at all. They even had another two hours til closing time. What would they be serving by the end of the night, mustard and ketchup sandwiches?

I know ordering for a restaurant can be hard. I am sure that it is difficult to predict how many people will come through the door. I am sure it is tough to control shrink. But not having forks and lids? These things do not go bad. The only thing I can think is maybe they are spread too thin, or maybe they are so intent on opening the Tustin location on time that they have let this place go. The crew of two workers here did not seem to care in the least that they were out of so many things. They spent almost all of our visit talking to their friend, rather than going out and getting supplies. It may not be their job to make sure supplies and food are stocked, but they did not seem bothered by it in the least.

Will we try Peter's Gourmade again? Yes we will, but not this location. They have a lot to prove to us when the new restaurant opens up. Hopefully they will be able to focus all their attention on the new place. I look forward to finally trying the ABC Burger, the Gooey Fries, and their specials. Just hope they remember to order enough for a whole day's worth of business.

Out of five slices of cheese, (so it might remind them to order enough next time), five being best to zero being worst, Peter's Gourmade Grill gets 1.5 slices of cheese, (or one and a half more than they had in the entire restaurant the night we were here!).

For more information on Peter's Gourmade Grill, click here:


  1. I've been to the one next to the gas station. The food is good but I think they are a victim of their own hype. Good food but not amazing. I'm surprised about the service though. They've always been great to me and I don't remember them running out of anything. Maybe it is just this location. Hope you try the other location next time.

  2. I would have to agree with the poster above. Peter's is a victim of their own hype.

    I used to frequent the old gas station location (almost 1-2 times a week) before the masses started hitting it and those were better days. Only the owners Peter and Antoinette were in charge and I got to know them very personally. They were very friendly, honest people and the food reflected that. But then the Food Frenzy article hit and things changed drastically. Their egos must have seemed inflated when they started seeing long lines and waits of 1hr.+ that they decided to bail out on their loyal customers. In addition, the quality, taste and portions of the food decreased, while prices inflated exponentially.

    I remember I went once last year and I was turned down profusely during lunch time. Then the final straw came for me was when I tried to redeem a "OC Register Deal of the Day" voucher on the date of expiration and Antoinette refused it because she said it had already expired. (traditionally restaurants honor the expiration date as the final day one can use the voucher) What bothered me the most was that I paid $15 for a $30 value in food and she said that I was not even entitled to the face value of what I had paid. Way to treat loyal customers.

    However, your experience is nothing new. Peter's has always had a big problem with having their supply meet demand. They always claimed that they did not have enough refrigeration/storage space for copious amounts of food and they wanted to keep some freshness to the ingredients. They only buy what they think they're going to sell that day. I remember every time I went, they would always be out of something.

    I might as well just write a few more insider tips about this place and post this as Anonymous, you may be wondering why there are very little negative Yelp reviews on their page. It's simply because Antoinette keeps an eye on their reviews and flags down and reports any negativity to Yelp. In fact, Antoinette proceeded to fire one of the employees because she found out that they posted a negative Yelp review. I would have loved to post this following information on Yelp, but of course, it would have been deleted by the owners.

    The thing here is that in reality, Peter's used to be amazing, but now it's just average. I really recommend you try Mick's Karma Bar as an alternative.

  3. Anonymous #1 - I will definitely try their new location. I believe that it opens today. Hope they can handle the demand. Thanks for the comment!

    Anonymous #2 - Wow, you like to write! You should become a blogger. Thanks for all the information. I think they may have just been spread to thin, and the Balboa venue is kind of an after thought. Thanks for the tip about Mick's, I will put that on my list. Also, thanks for all the info above.

  4. I've tried to go, but whenever I did I always seem to catch them when they were closed. I'm sorry to hear about your experience at the other location. Hopefully the new relocated Pete's in Tustin will be better!

  5. Foodie - I had the same experience. We had tried to go to both the old Tustin location and the Balboa location and both have been closed when we tried to make it there. They should have been closed on this trip as well. We will definitely go to the new Tustin restaurant though. Thanks for the comment.