Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Highs and Lows at Landmark CLOSED

Landmark Steakhouse
3520 E. Coast Highway
Corona Del Mar, CA 92625

I have been craving a big steak lately. So when my buddy Matt wanted some guy time, he suggested we head to Landmark to try one of their slabs of meat.

Neither of us had been to this beach area steakhouse before. Most of the reviews on Yelp are all about the night club. Landmark opens at five, and the DJ starts spinning at ten. According to their website they have recently renovated their dining rooms. They kind of have a retro kind of feel to it. High leather booths, dark lighting, and wood tables.

On this rainy Wednesday night there were only four tables being used in the dining room. Most of the action was going on in the very crowded bar area. Our server was nice, but we kind of felt that she forgot about us for long periods of time. Let's see if the food can make up for this.

First up is the bread basket. The bread was good, but had a harder than normal crust around it. I was very hungry and devoured two pieces of this rather quickly.

Both Matt and I decided to split two appetizers. His choice is above, the Blackend Seared Ahi. This was served with a seaweed salad and a wasabi red onion sauce. Matt called this the best ahi he has ever had. I liked the meatiness of the ahi, and the sauce was sweet, even though it had a wasabi base. Both the sauce and the ahi complimented each other well.

For my appetizer I went with the Filet Mignon Tacos. The meat on these were very tender and plentiful. Made even better with the guacamole. This would definitely be my go to appetizer when coming back here.

Next up is the healthy portion of the night, the salads. My option for a salad was the Chopped Iceberg. This salad included bacon, blue cheese crumbles, tomatoes, hearts of palm, and blue cheese dressing. Okay, mine was not so healthy, but it was a good tasting salad. It had the right amount of dressing on it, and the bacon added a lot of flavor.

Matt paying homage to Popeye ordered the Spinach Salad. Popeye, I mean Matt, felt that this salad was just average. He is used to a warmer spinach salad, and he thought this needed more blue cheese in it. This salad also came with dried cranberries and candied pecans, all tossed with a bacon vinaigrette.

This drab looking plate was Matt's entree, the Blackened Rib Eye. Matt said he would rate this steak about a B+. He liked the taste of this steak, and found little fat on this juicy hunk of meat. He was not a fan of the mashed potatoes, but liked the mushrooms. He also got a side order of Broccolini, but did not mention his thoughts on it. I tried the broccolini and felt it was just okay, it needed more seasoning on it.

After a long debate I decided on the LM Filet Mignon. The first bites of this ten ounce, medium rare steak were pretty good, but this steak cooled quickly, and became just an average filet. If the steak was average, the side items served with this were well below that. The mashed potatoes were bland and lumpy. The sauteed spinach was some of the worst I have ever had. The sauce, (either lemon or vinegar), was awful, and should be retired.

Trying to finish on a high note, we ordered dessert. Matt went with the Creme Brulee topped with fresh berries. He thought this was okay, but was not wowed by this. I liked this also, but felt that it could have been richer. I ordered  the Melted Chocolate Chip Cookie, which is served with vanilla bean ice cream. This dessert was better than the Creme Brulee, but it was not as good as the Pizookie served at BJ's. It needed to be served warmer and the cookie was not as good as it could be.

How to rate Landmark? As the meal went on my opinion of this place wained. The appetizers were real good, the salads were slightly above average, but the entrees failed to impress, and the desserts were just okay. I kind of felt that I was paying for their location, because the prices were too high for the quality of food that we received. I also got the vibe that this is a night club first and a restaurant second. I would come back here, but will stick to appetizers.

Out of five pyramids, (because they are some of the most popular landmarks in the world), five being best to zero being worst,. Landmark Steakhouse gets 2.5 pyramids.

For more information on Landmark Steakhouse, click here:

Landmark Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Heading to Santa Monica for Umami

Umami Burger
500 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90401

I have been hearing whisperings about the great Umami Burger for a while now. Deemed the Best Hamburger in America by GQ magazine, raved about in food blogs, and fawned over in the print media, it was a no-brainer where we would be going when my good friend Ed was in Santa Monica for a job interview.

What is Umami? To be honest I am still not sure. The definition of umami is a pleasant savoury taste imparted by a glutamate, an amino acid, and ribonuncleotides. Those are probably some of the biggest words I have ever typed on this blog. Anyways, umami blends well with other foods and supposedly expands and rounds out flavors. To know anymore I may need a science degree, but I am here to eat burgers, not become a scientist, so let's check out the burgers and sides.

To start off our meal we got the three side items above. The best of the bunch for me were the Tempura Onion Rings. These had a very light batter, and taste to match. The onion part of this really tried to be the star of the show, which is rare for an onion ring. We all thought that the Thin Fries were just your basic fries, and nothing special. The Sweet Potato Fries are not my cup of tea, but both Ed and Katie felt that these light fries were very good. With each side you get to choose one condiment to accompany your side item. Our choices were the Roasted Garlic Aioli, Jalapeno Ranch, and Umami Ketchup. To my surprise I enjoyed the aioli the most. The ranch failed to pack the punch I would have liked, and the ketchup was just okay.

Here is the reason so many people come here, the signature Umami Burger. Grilled shitake mushrooms, caramelized onions, Parmesan cheese, and roasted tomatoes combined to make up this burger. I did not try this burger, because Ed did not share with me, thanks a lot bug guy. Anyways, he threw out adjectives between bites to describe his umami experience. They were, manageable, messy, exotic, juicy, and adventurous. I take it from these that he was satisfied with his burger.

Katie went with the Truffle Burger. This simple looking burger was made with truffle glaze and house made truffle cheese. She liked the simplicity of this burger and felt that it had a great taste. I had a small bite of this burger and I would have to concur, it was very flavorful and rich.

The first of my two burgers is above, the Triple Pork Burger. This had the hat trick of swine, ground pork patty, chorizo, and bacon, paired with manchego cheese and pimento aioli. I loved the saltiness of this burger. This, like the other burgers, was very juicy, but the pimento aioli kind of got lost here, but that is to be expected with all of these pork products. I would definitely get this burger again.

The Manly Burger was my second burger of the night. This burger was made up of beer cheddar cheese, smoked salt onion strings and bacon lardons. The burger was cooked perfectly, all of their burgers are cooked medium rare. The juiciness of this burger was definitely evident. The bacon could have been more prominent though. The buns here were very good. They stood up to the toppings well, and complimented the burger and its contents perfectly.

Dessert was the last stop for us, and Katie went with a Root Beer Float. This was made with Abita root beer, which is made with real pure cane sugar. This float was good and creamy. The Ice Cream Sandwich is made by Milk, the trendy LA ice cream parlor/eatery. I went with a rocky road version of this sandwich, and I have to admit it was pretty good. The ice cream was smooth, and the sandwich part of this was way better than any that you could get at your local grocery store.

Umami Burger was as advertised. The Santa Monica location is small, and kind of hidden behind a Fred Segal. The service was slow the night we were here, but we were relegated to the picnic tables outside. The waitress was pleasant though. The food was good, but the prices were a little on the high side for burgers just a size bigger than a larger slider. Burgers run in the $9 to $12 range, but they offer a combo meal that includes a burger, side item and a beverage, for $16. I easily ate two of these burgers.

If you are here on a busy night be prepared to wait. The waitress told us that people have waited up to two hours to be seated on weekends. I am not sure I would wait that long, but I was definitely happy that we saw what all the fuss was about here. And, it was just okay seeing my friend Ed. Just kidding big guy.

Out of five fortune cookies, (not because of the Asian influence of the burgers here, but because the motto of Santa Monica is, "Fortunate people in a fortunate land"), five being best to zero being worst, Umami Burger gets 3.5 fortune cookies.

For more information on Umami Burger, click here:

Umami Burger on Urbanspoon

  Maps for Diners, DriveIns and Dives, Man v. Food and more

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Danny K's Hoping Not to Scratch

Danny K's
1096 North Main St.
Orange, CA 92867

We have been using the hockey season to find the best places to eat around the Honda Center. With many mixed results. This is our last game of the season, and for it, we chose to go to Danny K's.

Danny K's has been around for a long time. The owner Danny Kuykendall is a big-time pocket billiards player, so that is the main emphasis for this place. They have a bunch of pool tables, all are in pretty good shape, and they hold lots of tournaments and leagues here. Aside from billiards, they also have 33 TVs spread throughout the place. So, there is always a wide variety of games on in this large sports bar. The atmosphere is right up our alley, but let's check out the food.

To start off we went with the #3 Potato Skin Platter. Three potato halves topped with cheese and bacon and served with sour cream and salsa. To be honest these were not the best potato skins ever. They had too much potato, which made these very starchy. I know, wow a potato being starchy, what did I expect? Okay, guilty as charged, but when it comes to potato skins, the toppings are what make them great. There was too much potato on these, so the toppings could not shine. These really should be sold as a baked potato, and not a potato skin. I would not get these again.

Katie felt like a sandwich, so she went with Danny's Turkey Sandwich. This turkey sandwich was served on squaw bread and came with lettuce, tomato, avocado, onions, and mayonnaise. Katie also chose a dinner salad as her side item. She really enjoyed this sandwich but felt that there was too much onion, so she took some of it out. She was not too impressed with the salad.

From the, Why don't more restaurants offer this sandwich department?, came Jamie's Sandwich. The hat trick of great meats, (pastrami, bacon, and turkey), are served on cheese bread with tomato, lettuce, and onion. The mellowness of the turkey contrasted beautifully with the salty, more direct taste of the bacon and pastrami. My only complaint about this sandwich was that they put too little of the thousand island dressing on this. The fries are average, nothing special.

Danny K's serves its purpose. They offer a sports bar that is within a fifteen-minute walk to the Honda Center, they serve decent food and have plenty of TVs so you can watch a game. The service was good this night, but it was not overly crowded. You are not going to go out of your way to eat here, but to take advantage of the free parking, and avoid getting gouged for mediocre food at the Honda Center, this sports bar is a prudent option.

Out of five racks, (because this is primarily a billiards bar, and you can not play pool unless you have a rack), five being best to zero being worst, Danny K's gets 2.5 racks.

For more information on Danny K's, click here:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Thai-ing to Like Diho Siam

Diho Siam
27001 La Paz Road #100
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

We tried Thai food with good results earlier this month and wanted to see if we could continue the trend. Our second foray into Thai cuisine takes us to Diho Siam. Located on the corner of La Paz and Marguerite, this restaurant was recommended by my friend CJ. We arrived at about 7:30 on a busy Friday night and had about a fifteen-minute wait at the small eatery.

Diho Siam has been around for as long as I have lived in south county. The Mission Viejo location is one of six locations, the other OC locations are, Ladera Ranch, Costa Mesa, Lake Forest, and Fountain Valley. The Diho Siam website proclaims that they were voted one of the top 100 Thai restaurants in the USA in 2007. There was no link to the full list, so I guess we will have to take their word for it, or we could judge them by the food they served this night. Let's take a look at it.

I was absolutely famished when we sat down, so I wanted to try their Hors D'oeuvres Plate. This plate featured  Pun Krib, Spring Rolls, Chicken Satay, and Wonton Wrapped Shrimp, all served with honey plum and a peanut sauce. All of these appetizers were just average. The part about this plate that sticks out was the peanut sauce. Great flavor, and when I added this to any of the items on this plate, it made them instantly better. Other than the sauce though, there were no standouts on this.

On my first trip to a Thai restaurant I got the Red Curry Beef, and I wanted to try the same dish here. This one was very good. Made with spicy red curry, coconut milk, bamboo shoots, and Thai basil, this was a very satisfying meal. The coconut milk killed some of the spice, and the meat was pretty tender, but I would have liked a little more of it. I would definitely get this again.

Not wanting to try just one meal at Diho Siam, I also ordered the Spicy Cat Fish. Deep-fried catfish topped with a chili garlic sauce, eggplant and Thai basil made up this meal, which the menu states are a Thai favorite. I liked the sauce that came on this, and it was served scalding hot. The problem with this was that the fish came with many tiny bones. I have no problem with bones in food, but I was not expecting so many, and it was like I had to pick through my food to avoid choking. Other than that, this was a decent dish.

Katie loves Pad Thai, so it was no surprise that she got this dish. This pad thai came with chicken, shrimp, eggs, ground peanuts, bean sprouts, and green onions. About halfway through the meal, I noticed that Katie was not eating her shrimp. It was because they were not deveined. If you click on the above picture you can check them out for yourself. I am sure this was not on purpose, and they were just busy in the kitchen, but I would not touch these shrimp either. Should have sent this back, but she just ate the rest of the meal, which she was not so excited about. Our friend Mark, who was also eating with us had the same dish as Katie, but his shrimp were fine. He thought that this pad thai was okay, but a little too sweet for his taste.

Obviously, we had some mixed reviews about Diho Siam. I liked my meal, but they definitely had some preparation issues in the kitchen. The ingredients seemed fresh, and the service was good, but it will be hard trying to get Katie to come back here for Thai food. She has agreed to eat here again but will stick to the Chinese side of the menu. I would eat here again but might choose a slower night when they are less prone to making mistakes in the kitchen.

Out of five kites, (because kite flying is one of the pastimes for many people in Thailand), five being best to zero being worst, Diho Siam gets 2.5 kites.

For more information on Diho Siam click here:

Diho Siam on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Misfiring at Mitze's

Mitze's Kountry Kitchen
25381 Alicia Parkway
Laguna Hills, CA 92653

Mitze's is a Jekyll and Hyde restaurant. At night they are the only Colombian restaurant in the county. We have been here for the Colombian cuisine, and you can read that review here. But now we are here for the breakfast food.

Mitze's is a no frills locals only breakfast joint. The decor is drab to almost non-existent. The restaurant itself is located in a strip mall that has seen better days. They have about fourteen tables in the long, narrow restaurant. We came here because we are on a crusade to find some of the best breakfast spots in Orange county. So without further ado, let's check out the food.

We will start with my meal. I usually get some kind of Mexican breakfast item, or a scramble when I get up early to partake in the first meal of the day, but this time I stayed basic. I ordered the Hungry Man's Breakfast. Basically this was Mitze's version of a Denny's grand slam. I will start with the good about this meal, the bacon. Cooked crisp, to almost well done, this was the one part of the meal that was memorable. The eggs were average, the potatoes were under-seasoned, and the pancakes were dry, and could have used three of those little things of syrup that came with this. I never understand why restaurants only give you one small thing of syrup for three pancakes. I know they are trying to cut down on costs, but syrup is the best part of eating a buttermilk pancake, well these ones at least.

Katie was feeling a little saucy this morning, and opted to get the Huevos Rancheros. Katie described this breakfast as hearty, but lacking in flavor. She also felt that this needed more sauce to combat the dryness of this plate. I had two bites of this, and would have to concur with her feelings about this dish. The toast she received with this was slightly burnt, but she did not make a big deal about this.

 Mitze's would not make our list of best breakfast places in the OC. We will probably not be back. The service was average, with only two waitstaff for the fourteen or so tables they have here. The food was the deal breaker though. Nothing special, and nothing I saw on the menu would inspire future trips here.

Out of five milk bones, (because growing up we had a dog named Mitzi, and I could not find anything better on Wikipedia), five being best to zero being worst, Mitze's Kountry Kitchen gets two milk bones.

Mitze's does not have a website, but you can find info and reviews here:

Mitze's Kountry Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Finding Florentine's Fit to Eat?

Florentine's Downtown Grill
102 N. Harbor Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92832

I love buy one get one free meal coupons. I get the Entertainment book each year. I go through Clipper Magazine and my junk mail looking for BOGO offers. I figure if a place is going to give me a meal for free, it is worth checking out.

This brings us to the BOGO free king of all restaurants, Florentine's Downtown Grill. Florentine's has flooded north county mailboxes with so many coupons, that the waitress said they automatically just take one out of every two entrees off the bill, with no coupon needed. We had a party of seven, so that meant that three meals were going to be free. Already nice savings.

Florentine's is located right in the heart of downtown Fullerton. Sandwiched between the Tuscany Club and Palapa Grill, all three of these restaurants/bars are owned by Joe Florentine. Joe learned the restaurant and bar business from his grandfather and his Dad, Tony. In fact where Florentine's stands today, once was where his Dad's place, Pete and Tony's operated from. Enough of this history lesson, let's check out the food.

The first stop is the breadbasket that came to the table. My Dad was very enthusiastic about the sourdough bread here, calling it, "some of the best sourdough bread I have ever had". Not sure I would go that far, but it did come out very hot.

My sister was excited to be free of the kids this night, so she went all out and got the Chicken Tender appetizer. These were your basic chicken tenders. Not too impressive, but it satisfied her hunger. I did not try these.

Nothing really came out and wowed me about the menu at Florentine's, so I went with the safe bet, the Bacon Guacamole Burger. This half-pound burger came with all of the stuff you would expect, cheese, tomato, grilled onion, and the biggest piece of lettuce I have ever had on a burger. You can check that out in the last picture above. I almost wanted to ask for some dressing and make a salad out of it. The burger was okay. The meat needed to be seasoned more, and with all of these big flavors on this burger, they all kind of fell flat. One thing I did enjoy about this plate, was that it came with your choice of fries or chili fries at no additional charge. Chili fries at no added price? Yes, please. The chili fries, unfortunately, like the rest of this dish did not create a wow factor for me.

Now on to Katie's choice for the evening, the Shrimp and Artichoke Linguini. This dish also featured prosciutto and mushrooms in a sherry wine cream sauce. Katie felt that this dish was very salty, probably due to the prosciutto. She thought the shrimp was cooked well, and this came out piping hot. All in all, she thought this was a decent dish.

Jarrod went to the east coast for his dinner when he got the Philly Cheese Steak. This sandwich is made up of onions, peppers, mushrooms, spicy mayo, pesto? all on focaccia. I was impressed with the size of this sandwich, but the meat was nothing to get excited about, very bland. The whole sandwich kind of lacked the flavor test for me, which is odd because all of these flavors should add up to a rocking sandwich. Jarrod had the exact same opinion of this sandwich.

My Mom and sister split a Ranch Chicken Club sandwich. They both liked this sandwich. It came with bacon, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, and ranch dressing. I did not try this sandwich.

Here is another item I did not try, the Coconut Shrimp Tempura. Kristen felt that this dish was okay. She did not seem too wowed by this. The shrimp looked to be heavily breaded. This was served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.

Last but not least is my Dad's Santa Fe Patty Melt. What makes up a Santa Fe Patty Melt? Glad you asked, it is pepper jack cheese, grilled onions, Ortega chile's, and mayo. It looks like this was put on dark rye bread, but I am not sure of that. I did get a bite of this, but like the hamburger, it needed to be seasoned more. Yes, my Dad did get mashed potatoes instead of fries. He did not rave about these though.

The buy one gets one entree free offer works well for Florentine's because their dinners are just average, and most people would be upset paying full price for this food. Not saying this to be mean, but the food here is nothing special. The competition is so tough in downtown Fullerton, at least they are offering free meals to get people in the door. Even if it is for only one visit.

Out of five art museums, (because Florence is known for their art museums, and the people of Florence are called Florentine's), five being best to zero being worst, Florentine's Downtown Grill gets two art museums.

For more information on Florentine's Downtown Grill click here: