Sue Ann's American Kitchen
1450 North Kramer Blvd.
Placentia, CA 92870
Katie and I have a pretty set routine. I play poker on Tuesdays with the guys, as she usually goes to her parents house to catch up with the family gossip. Wednesdays we usually have a hockey game or a food event, and on Saturdays we try to meet up with friends. Mondays we head up to Yorba Linda to my parents house for dinner, and then we bowl. This year, the bowling league took a three week hiatus during the holidays. This meant we did not come up to my parents for our usual Monday dinner. Don't tell them this, but I actually kind of missed seeing them, so we made plans to have dinner at a restaurant that was near their house on a recent Saturday night.
The restaurant we headed to was Sue Ann's American Kitchen. I had read about this place on my good friend Minerva's blog, Much Ado About Fooding. You can click here to see her review of Sue Ann's Kitchen. We arrived here at about 6 PM, and the restaurant had a only a few tables occupied. They are in a kind of awkward shopping center, where it's hard to get into coming from Yorba Linda. The shopping center is anchored by an El Torito, a credit union, and a couple of smaller restaurants.
We walked in and were instantly transformed back in time to the 70's. The decor here is great. I almost half expected to see Marcia and Greg doing their homework at one of the tables, while Mike and Carol dispensed some great advice to the other Brady kids. The kitchen at Sue Ann's is not run by Alice, but the very talented, Gillian Clark. Her resume is quite impressive. She won a fried chicken battle on the TV show, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, her restaurants have been highlighted on numerous other TV shows, she is an accomplished author, she also contributes to the Huffington Post from time to time, and she is a graduate of L' Academie de Cuisine in Maryland. With a resume like that, I came into Sue Ann's with very high expectations. Let's see if the food could live up to them.
Right after we ordered, we were presented with these Scones, in lieu of a bread basket. I am usually not that fond of scones. I find them to be too dense and pretty flavorless. These were not like that at all. These were light, with maybe a subtle hint of cinnamon running through them. This is definitely not like any scone I have had.
When I got home and looked at my pictures, I realized my error. I did not get a good shot of the insides of these Crab Cakes ($14). You will have to trust me when I tell you that these were some of the best we have had. Not full of filler, just stuffed with fresh crab. Not sure how these even stayed together. The crab cakes were small, but packed with flavor. These were paired with a mango salsa that was a little on the sweet side. I would have liked a sauce on these, but in reality these did not need a sauce. It's easy to see why restaurant reviewer, Brad A. Johnsonr of the Orange County Register has called these, "the best crab cakes on the planet". Very high praise from one of my favorite food writers.
When the Buttermilk Battered Fried Chicken Strips ($8) hit the table, I was a little taken aback. These are not like the overly breaded things that dominate bar menus all across the country. These reminded me more of a naked piece of sweet and sour chicken. The breading had just enough crunch to it, revealing the tender chicken inside. These came with a Thai sweet chili sauce, which was more on the sweeter side, which probably conjured up my thoughts of sweet and sour chicken. My lighter eating Mom says that this will probably be her entree the next time she comes here.
I guess two appetizers were not enough for Katie, as she also ordered the Small Salad ($4). They have a bigger version of this same salad that's called, you guessed it, the Big Big Salad. This house salad came with lettuce, tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, chicken, avocado, and an Italian style dressing. Katie really enjoyed this salad. The produce was fresh, the chicken was good, and the light dressing had a little tang to it. This was really a hybrid salad, part Greek and part chicken salad.
Entree time, and we'll start off with Katie's dish, the Shrimp Soaked Gnocchi ($23). Katie has been shying away from shrimp lately, but she could not resist this dish. The shrimp and gnocchi are served with a garlic herb butter, yellow peppers, and green onion. She felt the gnocchi was cooked perfectly, which helped make this a great comfort dish.
My Mom swears that this is the first time she has ever ordered Meatloaf ($13) in a restaurant, and I actually believe her. This simply plated offering is from the grill option side of the menu. There are four items to choose from, you choose a sauce, and then you pick two sides. My Mom had the Cognac and Peppercorn sauce served on the side with this. She was pretty pleased with this moist meatloaf. The mashed potatoes also dazzled here, as they were real potatoes, and definitely not from a box. I enjoyed the peppercorn sauce with the piece of meatloaf that I tried.
I let another opportunity pass me by when I did not snap a picture of the inside of my Dad's dinner, the Beef Wellington ($23). If I had taken the picture, you would have seen that the beef inside was cooked to a perfect medium rare, which is usually not to my Dad's liking, but I heard no complaints from the big guy on this occasion. He also had the cognac peppercorn sauce, which he thought paired well with the wellington. For his two side items he went with the green beans and the highly recommended scalloped potatoes. These were creamy and cheesy, without getting in the way of the natural flavor of the potato. A very difficult balance to achieve.
So now we finally get to my dinner, the the Citrus Glazed Pork Loin ($16). I am always a little skittish about ordering pork in restaurants, because a lot of places tend to overcook it, and then you are left with a dry piece of pork on your plate that you have to try to get through. This was not the case at Sue Ann's. This pork was juicy, tender, and with the citrus glaze, it really brought this swine to life. This was paired with a citrus salsa and sopapillas. I like sopapillas, and these were just like the ones I had in Arizona, but I think they were kind of out of place here.
Katie and I did not want to be left out when it came to trying some sides, so we got the Baked Macaroni and Cheese ($5) and Bermuda Onion Rings ($5). This mac and cheese was pretty good. Not overly cheesy, the noodles were cooked to a nice, pliable-firm, and the crumb topping provided a nice crunch. The onion rings were good, made with the mild Bermuda onion. These were really more like onion strings, than rings though. Very light breading was used on these.
The desserts are made by Robin Smith daily, and the night we were here they had five different options available. We only had room for two between the four of us. I did not quite catch the name of the Slice of Pie ($5) that we had on this night, but it was delicious. It kind of reminded me of the Tollhouse pie that they have at Coco's, but with a much better crust, and better insides. We believe the pie was Chocolate Almond, with the base of the pie being chocolate, with almonds running through it. The other dessert we went with was a classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake ($5). This one was the tables favorite, as they liked the presentation, and the moistness of the cake. I thought this one was okay, as I am more partial to chocolate desserts, than fruit desserts.
We all left Sue Ann's Kitchen being very excited about our time here. This restaurant is serving up good, scratch cooking from their kitchen, that should not be overlooked. In fact, 98% of their food is scratch made, and you can definitely taste the difference. Some might be bothered by the menu that is a little on the thin side, but there is definitely enough diversity on it, that you will find something to your liking here. I thought the prices were pretty fair for the amount of food you get. The way the food is plated is a little deceptive. The sparse plating would make you think that you are getting shorted when it comes to the food, but trust me, you will be full after eating here. I had more than enough pork loin on my plate, that I was able to take some home for the next day. According to Robin, the menu is still kind of a work in progress. They are still tweaking it by taking slow moving items off of it, and adding other items they feel might be better sellers. Everyone we encountered on this night were very friendly, and offered great service. Sue Ann's Kitchen might be hidden in a Placentia shopping center, but they are definitely worth looking for. We look forward to coming back soon to try their breakfast. Glad we were able to make it up to Sue Ann's and spend some much needed time with my parents.
Out of five Veal Orloff's, (the specialty of Sue Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and with all of this 70's decor, it made me think of this fictional Happy Homemaker), five being best to zero being worst, Sue Ann's American Kitchen gets 4 veal orloff's.
Sue Ann's has a very limited website, which you can find by clicking here: http://sueannsamericankitchen.com/#