Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Rebranding of Rubio's

Rubio's Coastal Grill
27000 Alicia Pkwy
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Keeping things fresh in the restaurant business is always challenging. On one hand you have your faithful customers that love the look, feel, and taste of your food. Then,  on the other hand you have to keep trying to grow your business by enticing new guests to give you a try by creating new menu items, redesigning your restaurants, and creating a welcoming atmosphere that will get people not only coming in the door once, but coming back many times. This balance of keeping your old customers happy, while attracting new customers has to be nerve wracking for restaurant owners. If it is, the Co-Founder of Rubio's, Ralph Rubio, definitely does not show it.

We had the pleasure of dining with Ralph Rubio for the first time recently, at Rubio's first OC restaurant to get the makeover treatment. This new redesign started in San Diego County last fall, and there will be 45 restaurants re-imaged this year. Gone is the tiki/Baja California look that customers have come to expect from Rubio's, and its been replaced with a sleeker and cleaner decor package that draws inspiration from the sea, and artwork showcasing Rubio's history and brand philosophy. Ralph was not even a little bit upset, when I had commented that I thought the old decor was a bit hokey. I did apologize, but I still felt a little bad about it later on.

It was great getting to talk with Ralph Rubio, who had his first fish taco when he was a college student living in San Diego. He would take surfing trips down to Mexico, and that's where his love affair with fish tacos started. We also talked about the way the business has shifted now, since they opened their doors in 1983. These days people want to know where their food is actually coming from. Responsible fishing practices are apart of everyone's vocabulary now, and seafood, more than any other kind of food is at the forefront of this. We also talked about food development, and the amount of tries it takes some items to find their way to the menu boards above the registers. It took 40 tries to get their blackened seasoning just right, with two times being brought out to be tested in selected stores before they got it. There's really a lot that goes into getting the food out to the public. I was excited to see some of the new and classics items that they had in store for us on this evening.

Before we get to the food that we had on this night, I started out with a Lolailo Sangria ($4.50). I really had no idea that Rubio's served sangria, and this one is imported from Spain, and was really good. Lolailo sangria is made with indigenous grapes from Spain, and cherries and oranges from the Mediterranean region. The result was a very refreshing beverage, which will satisfy people that love a sweeter wine, like myself.  Along with the sangria, Rubio's also offers craft and Mexican beers, and premium bottled drinks, such as Fanta and Coca Cola.

No meal at Rubio's Coastal Grill would be complete without a trip to their world famous salsa bar, and some of their Chips and Guacamole. They make their guacamole fresh everyday, and use an abundant amount of avocados throughout the day. There's definitely a freshness that you get when you taste it. The chips are made in house as well, and fried crisp, with little greasiness to them. What I like most about the salsa bar at Rubio's is that the salsas here actually have flavor. The hot ones are actually hot, and not made milder for the masses. Even the milder ones may ease up on the heat a bit, but they still have a great salsa flavor to them, and are not just here to add moisture to your food.

For the first time in 25 years, Rubio's now has tostadas on their menu. These Tostada Frescas are a must try for tostada lovers. They are served two to an order, with your choice of shrimp, chicken, or roasted veggies. Being the carnivore that I am, I was happy we got to try the shrimp and chicken versions, which also came topped with their new lemon white sauce, that fresh guacamole, a blend of spring mix and butter lettuce, and salsa fresca. I learned that there's no real easy way to eat a tostada. I just ate mine bite by bite, but others broke there's in two for easier handling. These are light, but still had big time flavor. The shrimp one was my favorite of the two, with five good sized shrimp on the crisp corn tostada shell. I found the spring mix to have some bigger leafs than I would have liked, but these are still a great option for people who want a lighter lunch or dinner.

We were discussing how many fish tacos Rubio's has sold in their history, and it's almost inconceivable that the answer is 200 million sold, but that's the figure we were given. So, it's definitely true that they are pretty iconic in the fish taco game. My love for the Original Fish Taco is well known to my friends and family, even having them at numerous poker games, but Rubio's Coastal Grill is much more diverse than their most recognizable menu item. We were treated to two of their other tacos, the Blackened Regal Springs Tilapia Taco and the Pacific Mahi Mahi Taco with Fire Roasted Corn. They ended up getting the blackening spice just right, as it gave a pop of flavor, but did not mask the natural flavor of the tilapia. The mahi mahi taco is probably made for milder tastes, but I brought this taco to life by adding their very good Diablo Hot Sauce. I had no idea that Rubio's had a hot sauce to offer, but I will be making sure that I get my fair share of this on future visits to my local Rubio's Coastal Grill.

Katie and I eat at Rubio's probably once every month, which is a lot considering that we are always on the search for new restaurants for the blog. I was kind of embarrassed that I had never had a Gourmet Shrimp Taco before, and after tasting it, I thought of all my wasted trips not coming to Rubio's and not having this taco that is right up my alley. It's made up of a crispy, toasted cheese blend, with bacon, avocado, cilantro, onion, a chile sauce, and of course shrimp. I loved the crispy cheese, and of course bacon and shrimp go together like peanut butter and jelly, while the avocado added a creaminess that helped cut the salt a bit. A new favorite for me off of the menu at Rubio's that will be hard to resist.

For a long while, if you wanted dessert a Rubio's, you had only one option, the churro. Now they have added three new desserts to their menu, and I was lucky enough to try them all. Chocolate fiends will not want to pass up the Caramel Ganache Brownie, which is as decadent as it sounds. A very well made brownie base was made even better with the addition of plenty of caramel and ganache. Absolutely sinful. I'm definitely not a fan of lemon bars, but this Limon Coconut Bar might have won me over. It actually won me over because the coconut cut the lemon flavor a good amount, and the shortbread this was placed on had a good crunch to it. Cookie fans will have to give their Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie a try. This was probably my least favorite of the three, but just because I liked the other two so much. This is my favorite kind of cookie, and now I know where I can get one anytime my cravings strike.

I would say that the re-imaging that's going on at Rubio's Coastal Grill is going to be a big success from everything we experienced on this evening. It will help bring in new guests to their restaurants, while adding some diversity to their menu, and keeping faithful patrons very happy with the new choices here. The new additions to the Rubio's Coastal Grill menu has really spotlighted that there's way more to them than just their iconic Original Fish Taco.

We would like to thank some people for the invite to experience this transformation at Rubio's Coastal Grill. First, we would like to thank Ralph Rubio, who took time out of his busy day to share his passion for the restaurant he co-founded with us. He was so down to earth, proud, and excited to show off his restaurant, it got us all excited to be here as well. We would also like to thank all of the staff of Rubio's, who made us feel so welcome, and made sure we had everything that we could want. You all did a wonderful job on this night. I'd also like to thank my dining companions on this night. As usual the people behind the popular OC blogs always make these nights even more fun than they already are. Lastly, we would like to thank the great folks over at i.d.e.a, and especially Venice Lahey, who invited us to experience everything new at Rubio's. Thanks so much for thinking of us Venice.

If you would like to experience the new Rubio's Coastal Grill for yourself, follow this link to find your nearest location, and all the other happenings going on over at Rubio's.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Uncommonly Good Food at 370 Common - CLOSED

Three Seventy Common Kitchen and Drink
370 Gleneyre St.
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Usually when we go out with people, it's not a shock who picks the restaurant. They usually leave it up to me. When we go out with fellow food bloggers though, it's a free for all of ideas swirling around. We were going to be heading out with our good friends Tom and Daniele, both of whom are food bloggers. They had mentioned their love for Greek food last time we went out, so I had about three places picked for us. Then the curve ball came. Daniele said that she had a hunger for a great burger. I'm flexible, so I came up with three or four choices, one of which was the restaurant we eventually all settled on, 370 Common.

You might not think of 370 Common for a burger, but I have a copy of an OC Register article where restaurant critic, Brad A. Johnson named his best hamburgers in OC. There was a three way tie for first place, as of when he wrote this article, about a year ago this week. The three way tie involved burgers at A Restaurant, BLK Burgrz, and 370 Common. This was good enough for Daniele and Tom to decide this is where we would be going for dinner. It also helped that 370 Common also had a full bar, which is always a deciding factor for these two.

Katie and I had been to 370 Common before, for my birthday two years ago. That trip was on a Sunday though, and they only have a set family menu on Sundays, but it was still a great dinner, and one of the best meals we had that year. Now with the full menu at our disposal, we were looking forward to another great night of food, and of course conversing with Tom and Daniele.

370 Common is run by Chef-Proprietor, Ryan Adams. He was the chef of Sorrento, which was also in this exact location, and when it shuttered he bought the place. An OC native, he started cooking with his grandmother at an early age, where her garden to table influence can still be felt at this restaurant to this day. Along with this current gig, Chef Adams is also a consultant/chef at another place we have been dying to try, the North Left in Downtown Santa Ana. Reviews have been great, and we can't wait to try it.

We arrived at 370 Common on a busy Friday night in Laguna. Parking was actually pretty easy, and since Daniele had made reservations, we got right in. We were seated on the second floor of the bustling restaurant, and away from the rather rambunctious crowd at the bar. It was a little warm up in this loft area, but maybe that's because of all the hot air coming from Daniele. Anyways, we ordered kind of awkwardly in stages, but this is what came out for us on this night.

In lieu of the typical bread basket, we were served these Soft Pretzel Pieces, which came with a spicy mustard that definitely had its fair share of horseradish included here. Some bites of the mustard had more spice than others. I'm not much of a pretzel guy, but these were pretty good, and a nice departure from regular old bread.

There were definitely more drinks than these on this night, but after the first round, I kind of slacked off taking pictures of all the cocktails we had. I started things off with one of my favorite cocktails, a Moscow Mule ($11). This had all the key elements to it; vodka, ginger beer, lime, and a simple syrup. Very refreshing, and not too sweet, this one was perfectly made. Tom was feeling a little more traditional, and had the Barrel Manhattan ($14) which was made with bourbon. He drank this rather quickly, so I assume that he enjoyed it, although Daniele said it was a very stiff drink. What wasn't a stiff drink was her selection, the Gin Lucie ($11). A unique cocktail consisting of rhubarb, lemon, thyme, simple syrup, egg white, and of course gin. This cocktail was delicious and frothy, and something I would get when coming back here in the future. None of the beverages we had on this night failed to impress.

The first of our two appetizers arrived, and it was the Wild Card Tuna Poke ($16). This version of this trendy dish had a lot of parts to it. Chile, sesame, soy, lime, taro, macadamia, and micro greens. Usually when an item has so many ingredients going into it, especially where you want the tuna to shine, things get a little muddled. Not the case here. The tuna was the star, but was made better with its supporting cast. The macadamia nuts added some texture, the lime awakened the taste buds, and the chili added some spice. A very solid start to our evening.

I know it's not a true poutine, because there's no squeaky cheese curds here, but I really enjoyed this Short Rib Poutine ($17.50). The base is fries, which stayed remarkably crispy under the weight of the short rib, chives, cheddar, crema, horseradish, and onion. This might be best described as a loaded fries instead of poutine, but whatever you decide to call it, it was tasty. The short rib was of course tender, there was plenty of cheese, and the crema added a little needed moisture. My one complaint was that there needed to be maybe some of the braising juice included in this to make it a little more moist. Other than that, a very good shareable starter.

Let's start with the reason we were eating here on this night, the 10 Napkin Burger ($17.75). Daniele was not the only one who was craving a burger, as I ordered this one too. I'd have to agree with OC Register restaurant critic, Brad Johnson, who favored this very solid burger. It starts with a very good blend of beef, cooked to my desired preference, medium rare, and is then topped with cheddar, fried egg, bacon, mushroom, chile, onion, and aioli. The condiments are used a little sparingly to allow the natural flavor of the beef to come through. A fried egg is always a good idea on a burger, and this very good bun held up to the insides of this burger admirably. Really tasty, as were the fries. They were fried nice and crisp, and you can tell that they were potatoes mere hours ago. I'm not usually a fan of house made ketchup's, but this one was good, with a little kick to it. Having this burger made me glad that Daniele didn't feel like Greek food tonight.

Tom has a signature move when it comes to eating in restaurants, which doesn't involve checking for loose change in the cushions of the seats. We've been out with them maybe a dozen times now, and about 10 of those times he has asked the server, "what would be you're death row meal off of this menu?" A very clever way to ask what their favorite item is. Our waitress, Natalie, claims this Pork Loin ($25.75) would be her last meal if she were being put away for a long time. The pork loin is served on a bed of macaroni and cheese, then topped with an apple and sweet onion slaw, and then there's a smear of harissa barbecue sauce. Just like me, Tom seemed a little disappointed in the size of this plate. This was a very tiny portion for him, and he finished it rather quickly. He seemed to like it, but remarked that he would get something else on his next visit here.

I always cringe when Katie orders steak in a restaurant, especially a chef driven restaurant, such as this. She really likes her red meat well done, so there's no blood to be seen. Well done steak is usually dried to a crispness of beef jerky, with very little flavor. On this evening we talked her into having her Hanger Steak Salad ($29.75) served medium, and she actually enjoyed it. This deconstructed salad came with a good amount of hanger steak, a salad made up of arugula, shallots, chile, crouton of pecorino, a lime vinaigrette, and a side of chimichurri. Katie loved the presentation here. She expected the lime vinaigrette to be more noticeable, but was plenty happy with the chimichurri, which she called, "out of this world." The steak was marinated well, juicy, and paired nicely with the slight bitterness of the greens. She would get this again for sure.

As if we did not have enough food, (except for Tom), we had two side items also. The better of the two was the Broccolini Salad ($14.75). Like I said earlier, anything is made better with a fried egg on top, and this also included prosciutto, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs. A definite upgrade from your usual broccolini side dish. The runny yolk went well with the Parmesan and the broccolini. The Vegetable Medley ($9) was all Daniele's idea, and she barely touched them. I don't think it was because she didn't like them, but she was nearing capacity as far as food goes. They looked fresh, as they were being boxed up for her lunch the next day.

It's almost common knowledge that Elvis Presley's favorite sandwich was a peanut butter and banana sandwich, with sometimes bacon on it. We've seen a lot of restaurants try to emulate this sandwich in dessert form, and this Presley For 2 ($12) is the latest we've tried. 370 Common's version starts with cinnamon toast, topped with caramelized bananas, peanut butter ice cream, and a drizzle of honey caramel and powdered sugar. We all really enjoyed this dessert. The cinnamon toast was a great vehicle for this, and the caramelized bananas went well with the peanut butter ice cream. I wish there was more of this ice cream included here, as the ratio was a bit off between the toast, bananas and ice cream, but still a good ending to our meal.

This trip to 370 Common was extremely strong. Glad we came back here to try some of their different offerings, since the last time we were here it was for their Sunday dinner. With the exception of Tom's pork loin, I felt the serving sizes were pretty good for this type of restaurant. Definitely more of a special occasion restaurant, I would not mind spending some future milestones here. The service that we experienced on this night was great. Natalie really had her hands full with us, and all of our questions, but she handled us like a pro. It's good to see that 370 Common has not had a set back since Owner/Chef Ryan Adams has been splitting his time between here and the North Left. I'm also glad that Daniele was feeling like a burger, so we could come back here again.

Out of five skim boards, (because the oldest tour stop on the skim board pro tour is held at Aliso Beach in Laguna, since 1976), five being best to zero being worst, 370 Common gets 4 skim boards.

For more information about 370 Common, go to their website here:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Hoping That the Yolks Not On Me

Broken Yolk Cafe
28621 Marguerite Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92692

It seems to me that the people of Mission Viejo love their breakfast spots. There's almost always a wait at Paul's Pantry, Stacks Pancake House is always standing room only, and we've also seen groups of people waiting outside of Coco's to get their first meal of the day. So it was no surprise that when the Broken Yolk opened up down the street from us, the lines of people were almost mind boggling. We made a note of their opening, and promised ourselves that we would visit after the initial crowd died off.

Problem was, the crowds have not diminished since they opened back in February. Katie and I only have Sundays when we can have breakfast together, and that's definitely Broken Yolk's busiest day. Not that we mind waiting in line, but lately our Sundays have been pretty filled up. Enter my good buddy Frank. He and I had a Thursday morning off of work, and he likes to eat breakfast early, so we decided to meet at Broken Yolk at 8am. We got right in, with no waiting.

Even though it was a weekday, there was a steady stream of people walking through the door during our stay. Located in a recently remodeled shopping center, near the corner of Marguerite and Avery Parkway, Broken Yolk has grown quite the following down in San Diego county, where 10 of their 16 locations are situated. They recently opened up their first spot outside of California, in Mesa, Arizona. This Mission Viejo venue is their second OC locale, with the other being situated in the city of Orange. Quite an aggressive expansion plan.

Their menu and interior screams breakfast joint. The menu is shaped like an egg, and the inside of the brightly colored restaurant definitely suggests breakfast coffee shop. The menu here is pretty extensive. Lots of breakfast staples, tons of egg dishes, a good variety of Mexican breakfast items, pancakes, crepes, lunch items, and even a food challenge which features a 12 egg omelette. two biscuits, and a mound of home fries. I was not brave enough to tackle it, but if you are, you get it for free and you also get a T-shirt and your picture on their wall of fame. Maybe someday I'll try it, but today I whimped out and just ordered like I regularly would. Let's see what we thought of the food at the Broken Yolk.

Let's start things off with Frank's selection on this morning, the California Breakfast Burrito ($11.65). This was his second time here, and his first time having this burrito. It was filled with scrambled eggs, avocado, bacon, cheddar cheese, and home fries. It came with rice and beans and a side of their salsa. Frank felt this burrito was kind of average, and not as good as the John Wayne omelette he had on his first visit here. Also, for close to twelve dollars, this plate filled him up, but he expected a little more from this burrito. Just for the record, for those that know Frank and his love of USC, he was actually wearing a Niagara University sweatshirt on this morning, instead of his usual cardinal and gold. Way to represent your old hometown Frank. Go Purple Eagles!

I was split between two things on the Broken Yolk menu, so I decided to try both. The first of which was this Border Check Omelette ($12.65). This omelette sounded like it would be right up my alley. Beef chorizo, jalapenos, jack cheese, and then topped with guacamole and salsa. The omelette was good sized, probably three eggs, but it was not as good as I had hoped. The chorizo had a weird texture, the salsa was very bland, and they were a little skimpy on the cheese they include on the inside. I had my choice of potato, fruit, or beans and rice, and I went with the home fries option. This was not a wise decision. The potatoes were undercooked, with only the smaller slices of potatoes cooked all the way through. Very disappointing, and I probably should have gotten the hash browns instead. This also came with a bread option, and I had their sourdough, which was decent.

I was much more happy with the second part of my meal, these Nutella Crepes ($8.55). With these you have your choice of having sliced strawberries or bananas included, and I went with the latter. Plenty of Nutella inside and out, the sliced bananas went well here, and I liked the whipped cream and the powdered sugar topping these three crepes. The crepes themselves were good, but a little on the rubbery side, and they came to our table lukewarm at best. Still, this was the highlight of our breakfast for sure, and a must try when coming here.

I left the Broken Yolk a little disappointed. With the long lines on weekends, and their rapid expansion, I was expecting to be blown away by their food, but that was not the case during this visit. Their egg dishes were pretty average, and I'm not sure what was going on with the chorizo that was included in mine. Yes, you get beans and rice with your breakfast burrito, but that still does not translate to charging $12 for the burrito. There's too many better breakfast burrito options out there, almost all of which are less than ten dollars. My crepes were a highlight, but even these had some issues. I'm not saying I wouldn't go back to Broken Yolk, but I'm not willing to wait in line for it either.

Out of five precious stones, (because this restaurant was started in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego, and the east-west streets there are mostly named after gemstones), five being best to zero being worst, Broken Yolk Cafe gets 2 precious stones.

For more information about Broken Yolk Cafe, check out their website here:

Broken Yolk Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Birthday Blowout at Bistro West - CLOSED

Bistro West
4960 Avenida Encinas
Carlsbad, CA 92008

So I guess we have a new tradition when it comes to Katie's birthday. Instead of me trying to guess what to get her, and having her end up returning it, I let her pick out her own gift. I know it's not the most romantic thing to do, but I want her to get something she's going to like and use. So we headed off to the Carlsbad Premium Outlets, and she got to go on a mini shopping spree.

Another part of this new birthday tradition is me picking out a restaurant to take her to. She's really easy when it comes to trying new places, so I went online and looked for restaurants near the outlet stores. I knew I was going to be pretty hungry after dealing with the Sunday crowds down there, and looking at the traffic on the 5 Freeway going north, I knew coming back to OC for dinner was not going to be an option. Best to let traffic thin out a little bit, and try a restaurant in Carlsbad. We decided on Bistro West, which is about five minutes away from the packed stores.

Bistro West is kind of off by itself, on the western side of the 5 Freeway. It's located on the same property as the West Inn and Suites but detached from the hotel. There's plenty of parking for restaurant guests, and there was not too much of a crowd at the awkward dining hour of 4pm on a Sunday, but there was a smattering of people eating in their rather large dining room.

The dining room was classy, but not stuffy, which is a hard balance to attain. We were in casual shopping clothes and did not feel too out of place here. It might be a little different as the night goes on though. For our OC fans, Bistro West kind of felt like the Winery, or maybe even JT Schmid's.

Bistro West is very proud of their own farm, which from what I have been able to gather, is located directly behind the outlet stores. This 3-acre farm ensures that they have fresh items to help them maintain their seasonally revolving menu. Speaking of their menu, it was rather diverse, with many appetizers, salads, pizzas, pasta, sandwiches, burgers, and entree options. I had a hard time picking something, but it was time to make our choices. Let's see what we came up with.

Our waiter, Reggie promised us some freshly baked rolls, and he delivered. These came to the table very hot and freshly baked. They kind of had the consistency of a sourdough roll, but not the sourdough taste I was expecting. Still a solid dinner roll though.

The birthday girl started things off with the small-sized Bistro Baby Mixed Green Salad ($6.95). For being small sized, this salad was pretty big with flavor. This one came with caramelized walnuts, roasted tomatoes, blue cheese, a balsamic vinaigrette, and of course fresh greens. Katie really enjoyed this salad. She liked that there was plenty of blue cheese on here, and the roasted tomatoes were a nice surprise. They were a little light on the dressing, but Katie favors that, as it lets the veggies be the star of the show.

I really wanted to try their Caesar salad, but I decided to buck the trend and have a go at their Ham and Bean Soup ($5.50). Like the rolls, this came to the table smoking hot. It was a very good hearty soup. Lots of flavors, and lots of shredded ham and beans in here. I should have had the bowl for an extra dollar, but I did have more food on the way.

Even though it was her birthday, Katie did not go for the most expensive thing on the menu, which would have been fine. Instead, she had this modest Hot Reuben Sandwich ($16.95). All the usual suspects were here; corned beef, Swiss cheese, house made sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing, all on toasted rye bread. Katie liked this sandwich but was not in love with it. The corned beef was not as tender as it could have been, and they needed a little more thousand island dressing on here to soak up some of the dryness of the meat. The toasted bread was very well done, and the sauerkraut that they make here did not overpower, like a lot of sauerkraut's can. She'd probably get something else on her next visit here. She was blown away by the Asian Coleslaw side that she had. I'm not sure what was in this, but she mentioned this coleslaw at least three times since we have left Bistro West.

I had read online somewhere that one of the burgers here was voted best burger in North San Diego, so I had to give one of them a try. I chose the Bleu Cheeseburger and added Bacon ($15.45). The burgers here are a half pound each, and this one came with caramelized onion, blue cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a sundried tomato truffle aioli sauce. This burger had a very good balance working for it. The blue cheese was strong on this burger, but the added bacon helped to cut the taste of it a bit. The bun here did a great job keeping everything together, it was toasted nicely, and had a nice crunch to it. The burger itself was overcooked though. They asked how I wanted it, and I said medium, but this came out closer to well done. It still tasted good, but I'm sure it would have been juicier if it was closer to medium. I went with French Fries for my side item, and they came out nice and crisp. A pretty good french fry, but nothing that made it stand out too much.

Katie had mentioned that it was her birthday, and our waiter Reggie brought out this Warm Gingered Pear Cobbler ($8.95, but free for her birthday). This was topped with a little bit of a crumble, Tahitian vanilla gelato, and surrounded by two dollops of whipped cream. I'm usually not too partial to fruit desserts, but this one was pretty solid. The pear was a nice deviation from apple that is almost always used. The crust of the cobble could have had more crumble, but the gelato added a little sweetness. Katie has been abstaining from desserts recently, but really seemed to enjoy this one.

Now, this is definitely more my style of dessert. This Bistro West Mud Pie ($8.95) might be misnamed, but it did not detract from its deliciousness. When you usually think of mud pies, you probably think of a cake layered with ice cream, and this was more of a deconstructed version of the classic mud pie. The base of this starts with an Oreo cookie crust with peanut butter, then is topped by coconut and white chocolate chip brownie, and topped with whipped cream and berries, with a coffee stout gelato on the side. The brownie portion of this was very rich, but oh so good. Very moist, and me being a peanut butter lover, this got me from the first bite. I did not really get a lot of coconut or white chocolate here, but I did not mind. The gelato was nice and mellow, and the coffee flavor did not overpower. A few other desserts sound pretty good on their menu, but I can't see myself getting anything else, but this one.

We both left Bistro West satisfied, but not blown away, (except with that last dessert). The food here was good, but we both remarked that we would like to try somewhere else when we come down here again next year for Katie's birthday. Maybe we just ordered the wrong things, and something else on this diverse menu would totally make us want to come back here. This restaurant is very comfortable, the service was good, and there's plenty to choose from on the menu, so you'll definitely find something to order at Bistro West. I'm already starting to do some research for next years restaurant, so if you have somewhere that will blow us away, leave us a comment or shoot us an email. I'm just glad I don't have to head back to those outlet stores for another 12 months.

Out of five golf clubs, (because the city of Carlsbad is home to many golf makers corporate headquarters, like Callaway, Cobra, and Taylormade), five being best to zero being worst, Bistro West gets 3 golf clubs.

For more information about Bistro West, go to their website here:

Bistro West on Urbanspoon