Thursday, November 1, 2012

Beware the Monster Burger is on the Loose!

JT Schmid's Restaurant and Brewery
2415 Park Ave.
Irvine, CA 92782

It is probably not shocking that I love watching restaurant shows on TV. Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives, Best Thing I Ever Ate, Food Paradise, Food Wars, and of course Man V Food are some of my favorites. There are two reasons I like watching these shows. One is that I like seeing great food and how it is prepared, and the second reason is that it gets me motivated to travel places. I get a certain kind of thrill seeing a place on TV that we have been to. During the course of the three years of this blog we have had the opportunity to take quite a few trips, and during these trips we have sought out quite a lot of these TV restaurants.

I have always thought that restaurants in OC should be more prominently featured on these shows. Sure some bakeries have been featured on some Cupcake shows, Guy Fieri has spotlighted three of our OC restaurants for his show, and a long while ago Rachel Ray made her way through Laguna on $40 a Day. I like some of these shows, but my favorite food show was Man Verses Food. I liked seeing host Adam Richman tour an area, then tackle an eating challenge. If his show was still in production today, JT Schmid's might get some serious consideration to be featured on his show.

What we have above is the JT's Bigger, Badder, Asser Burger. This six pound behemoth of a patty is grilled, then joined with four extra pounds of bun and toppings, to weigh in at an unbelievable ten pounds of hamburger bliss. Throughout the preview night we were here, they brought out different varieties of this burger. The one above came with the usual burger toppings, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles, cheddar cheese and roasted corn mayo.

Luckily for all of the food bloggers in attendance, we did not have to worry about slicing this ourselves. It came neatly sliced on an enormous plate, or more like a platter. I thought the burger would have a meatloaf quality to it, but it did taste more like a burger. The custom made bun stood up pretty well to the burger toppings, but as you can see the bottom bun did absorb a lot of the grease from the burger and the sheer weight of everything piled on top of it. Very understandable. I talked to Jason, the owner of JT Schmid's and he told me that they are still working on the bun issues, and are still tweaking things a bit.

Not only does JT's have a ten pound burger, but it also can be prepared different ways. This was my favorite version of this burger this night. The Cowboy Bigger, Badder, Asser Burger came with blue cheese crumbles, huge onion rings, bacon, and BBQ sauce. Big time flavors with this one! I really liked the inclusion of the blue cheese, it added pop to this burger. Another version of this burger that came out, but I did not try was the Jalapeno Turkey Burger. This was probably for the more health conscious, but how healthy can you get eating ten pounds worth of burger? I did overhear my fellow bloggers remark how much they liked this healthier alternative.

It was not all about the burgers on this night, although I did end up taking about fifty pictures of them. We also got to try some of the new, more traditional items on the JT Schmid's menu. The Hawaiian Coconut Shrimp should be insulted to be called shrimp, because these were anything but small. These jumbo shrimp were covered with coconut, then deep fried, and served with a great orange marmalade. I usually am not a big fan of these, but I ate my fair share on this night.

The food just kept on coming! This is another new item, the Jalapeno Mac & Cheese. This is not your everyday version of this comfort food classic. This is a jazzed up version for sure. JT's adds chicken, tomatoes, and bacon to a radiatori pasta, then coats it all with a cheese sauce made from their own ale and a trio of cheeses. This has been getting rave reviews from customers, and the same response was given on this night. I really liked the jalapenos in this. Some mac and cheese dishes can put your taste buds to sleep, but this one did not have that problem.

After eating my fair share of the burgers, I did not have much room to eat the new pizzas at JT's, but I did manage to try two of them. The Sausage and Basil Pizza was a good pizza that had plenty of sausage on it, and went well the fresh basil. The other slice of pizza I had a was a little less conventional. The Roasted Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza is something that I would usually not eat, but in this instance I was glad I did. This pizza had it all; sliced red pears, sage, mozzarella and blue cheeses, grilled onions, and pecans. Kind of sounds like a mishmash off a lot of different items, but they all worked pretty well together.

The last of the food items we tried was the Meatball Sandwich. I consider myself an aficionado of meatball sandwiches, and I could endorse this one as pretty good. The meatball here was very dense, with a meaty texture and taste to it. The marinara had a strong hint of garlic, while maintaining a low key sweetness. The bread held everything together well. Some more melted mozzarella cheese on this could have made this sandwich even better.

Most of my visits to JT's are made to the Anaheim location, right across from the Honda Center. We usually hit them up for drinks before and after the hockey games. So you could say that I am pretty familiar with their beers. JT Schmid's recently changed their JT Imperial Stout. JT's own Brewmaster, Gil Chacon is now aging the beer with French Oak. I will not pretend to know enough about beer to tell you how this changes things, but I did like this beer. It was very rich and malty. They only serve this in a pint size, due to the high ABV of 8%, but that will get you feeling good in a hurry!

New menu items were also spotted on the dessert menu as well. I did not get a chance to snap up one of the slices of Black Forest Cake because I zoned right in on the other two options for dessert. The Pineapple Sorbet piqued my interest for the unique presentation. The sorbet was served right in the cored out portion of a pineapple. This added a perceived element of freshness to the refreshing sorbet. It did not strike me until later what the Dream Bomba reminded me of. This dessert had a core of caramel surrounded by a peanut butter gelato, then coated by chocolate and a peanut butter drizzle. Can you guess what childhood dessert this reminded me of? Of course it was Drumsticks. This was a very good dessert. The caramel in the center was like finding a buried treasure, and getting to the caramel was half the fun. Good peanut butter flavor, and the chocolate on the outside was good and thick. This would be a great dessert on a hot summer evening.

The new menu items at JT's were all pretty strong, but they were dwarfed by the Bigger, Badder, Asser Burgers. Of course almost any food item I have ever seen would be dwarfed by such a huge burger. Of course I had to inquire about the possibility of food challenge, and Jason said that of course it has been discussed, but no word on it just yet. I could see no one being able to finish this burger, unless Adam Richman wants to do a reboot of his Man V. Food Show.

We really would like to thank everyone that made it possible for us to sample all of the new menu items at JT Schmid's. First, we should start with the man at the top, Jason Schmid. He was so gracious answering all of our questions and providing all of the food for us. Also, thanks go out to the wonderful staff at JT's, some of which are pictured above. They really kept on top of things, and made sure we did not have a want for anything else. Thanks for your great service guys. Thank you also to Pam from the OC Restaurant Association for this wonderful opportunity to sample all of this food. One last note of appreciation to our fellow food bloggers who are always the life of the party, and we always enjoy getting together with. You guys rock!

For more information about JT Schmid's, click here:

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