Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Elephant Bar

Today I made my first visit to the Elephant Bar in Burbank.  I had passed it many times and I decided to look at the menu and see if it might be a place I would like.  And it appeared that might be the case.  I joined their club (never know what one might get for her birthday if this is done) and I got a coupon for buy one entree, get one free entree.  Can't pass that up so off we went for lunch.

As I walked into the restaurant, I could smell the wood-fire grill.  We were seated right away and our waitress also came right away.  Although there were plenty of people eating, we had fantastic service.  We were served our diet cokes and had decided on our orders.  BK ordered jambalaya.  Immediately, the waitress told her that it was a hot, spicy dish. That was OK with BK.  I ordered Chicken Marsala.  As the waitress was leaving, I mentioned to BK that neither of us were getting their macaroni and cheese but that they had a side order.  We called over the waitress and asked if we could have a side of the mac and cheese as an appetizer and she happily told us she could.

Our side order was quite a good sized bowl of cheesy mac and cheese covered with very good croutons.  Although it isn't as good as Hugo's (which is the richest and best in the world according to me), it passed muster with both of us and was good to share as an appetizer.  BK's jambalaya, a meal I wouldn't even taste, consisted of very hot sausage, shrimp and chicken over rice. It came with excellent garlic bread, which I did taste.  BK was very happy with her spicy meal and she brought half home for dinner.  I loved my chicken marsala and ate both tender pieces which were covered in a delicious sauce with mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes and garlicky spinach.  I ate it all, even most of my spinach.

When she came and asked about dessert, I wanted to see a menu.  They have some mini desserts which is what I thought I wanted until I saw the mud pie.  So, in honor of my daughter who always loved mud pie, that is what we got to share.  It was huge, coffee ice cream with Oreo cookie crust.  (Picture will follow on Facebook)  We actually couldn't finish it.

Each meal, both of which were on the lunch menu, cost $8.95.  The mac and cheese side order was $3.95 and the huge mud pie was $4.95.  We felt this was reasonable.  I definitely will go back because I would like to try the ribs and many of the other interesting items on their menu.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Les Sisters Southern. Kitchen and BBQ

I have had a great urge for fried chicken.  I went to a restaurant some days ago and had what could be called mediocre, if I was to be generous, fried chicken.  However, today we went out to Chatsworth because for years I have wanted to go to Les Sisters.  I had heard that I could get some great fried chicken as well as real soul food.  I had become acquainted with soul food when I worked at the Welfare Department in Milwaukee.  Often the other workers would bring in great homemade food for all of us to eat.  Sometimes they ordered delivery from Speed Queen which I also loved.  When BA and I traveled for a year in 1986, we spent the first months of our travels in the south since we left in January.  I became well acquainted with southern food, soul food and BA with Cajun food.  So I was very excited about going to Les Sisters.

BA, BN and MT joined me in my quest for excellent fried chicken.  Les Sisters is a very small restaurant, some would call a hole in the wall, but the inside is very cute.  There are paintings on the wall that represent New Orleans and more. But we didn’t go there to observe the décor.  We went there to eat and eat we did.

BN, MT and I ordered the regular fried chicken while BA ordered chicken jambalaya.  We did have to wait a while for our meals but it was worth it.  BN and I got all white meat and MT ordered all dark.  Our chicken was moist and the coating was crisp and flavored perfectly.  This is the best fried chicken that I have had since I ate my mother’s chicken which was always perfect.  Since we were there at lunch, the meals came with one side.  MT ordered potato salad.  She felt it tasted mostly of mayonnaise, probably because the potatoes were almost all mashed which she didn’t care for.  BN ordered blacked-eyed peas and rich which were delicious.  I couldn’t decide on just one side so I ordered two – candied yams which were just perfectly sweet and mac and cheese which I felt was a bit bland but the more I ate, the more I liked it.  We also got a corn muffin which we all declared was much too dry but had a good flavor.  BA said that her jambalaya was good but not great.  It had chicken, sausage, mushrooms, too many tomatoes and rice.  It was medium spicy and a bit greasy.

After finishing all my meal, I still wanted dessert since I saw they had peach cobbler.  BA and I shared the small but extremely tasty cobbler.  It looked different than the usual cobbler probably because it was scooped up from a very large pan.  The cobbler was about the only thing that I felt was priced a bit high for the size of the dessert.  I would like to go back because there were so many things I would also have liked to eat.  Smothered pork chops are a real favorite that I would love to try along with the collard greens.  I had iced tea and it was very good.  Soda is served in a can with a small mason jar while the iced tea is served with lemon in a very large mason jar.

Les Sisters is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner, Tuesday through Friday for lunch.  Les Sisters is located at 21818 Devonshire in Chatsworth. The phone number is (818) 998-0755 and the website is .  This is not a place that serves salads and healthy food but it is a great place to get comfort food.  Highly recommended.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Mikado Japanese Restaurant

My daughter is coming to visit and wants to go to a sushi restaurant for her birthday.  We wanted to stay in the San Fernando Valley since we are going to a play in Burbank after dinner.  A friend had suggested The Mikado saying that it serves the best sushi she has ever tasted. It is attached to the Best Western on Riverside Drive in Studio City and my experience with restaurants attached to motels has never been very great because of that, even though it is in my neighborhood, I have never been there. After scratching my head for many days trying to where to go when W is here, BK suggested we go to The Mikado today for lunch.  I agreed.  So after seeing a wonderful movie, we drove to the Best Western’s restaurant.
My first surprise was the very nice interior.  The restaurant sparkled.  We were greeted in the usual Japanese way.  We were seated at a very nice white tableclothed booth that had a fresh flower and a very cute soy sauce container (all low sodium). Then we were given warm towels to wash our hands which we did.  They had some fragrance and was really nice.  And now to the most important part – the food. Right after we were given the towles we were given a little cucumber appetizer that was so good, we hoped this was just a taste of what was to cme  I was only going to order sushi, which I did.  They had a sushi combo but I decided to get the rainbow roll ($15) and a tuna roll ($5.25) and I wasn’t disappointed.  There were 6 pieces of tuna roll and a very large rainbow roll with salmon, albacore, shrimp and tuna over an excellent California roll.

BA ordered a special lunch box.  She picked teriyaki chicken and California roll.  With that meal came a side salad, which BK said was delicious, a small fried potato, an egg roll, a small carrot and tiny broccoli with something on it that BK liked, white rice and a strawberry and orange ($12).  She cleaned her plate, declaring everything delicious. after cleaning our table, we were both given some orange which was just perfect.
This was the lunch menu so I asked to see the dinner menu.  There are fewer combinations and some things are more expensive.  They also have other dishes.  I enjoyed this so much that I made a reservation for next Friday to celebrate W’s birthday.  I don’t think anyone will be disappointed.

The Mikado has been in business since 1963, the first sushi restaurant in the Valley.  There are many more now and maybe some are better but we were both very happy with this choice.  The Mikado is  at 12800 Riverside Dr. – (818)-763-1963.  They are open for lunch (11:30 – 2:00) and for dinner (5:30 - ?).

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sonoma Wine Garden and Santa Monica Place

Today the weather was beautiful so we decided to go this morning to Santa Monica for two reasons: I wanted to see where the library auditorium is because I am going to a seminar there on Wednesday night; and we wanted to get a Santa Monica library card so there would be more places to get library books for the Nook. Off we went, over the hill to enjoy a beautiful day. I found a parking spot right near the gorgeous library, went in and happily found out that anyone who lives in California can get a Santa Monica card. The same holds true for Burbank and I wonder how many other places on California. Maybe someone who reads this can tell me.

The library is on 6th and Santa Monica. In my quest to get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week, we decided to walk to the Promenade and to the new Santa Monica Place. The sun was shining and the walk did give me some much needed aerobic steps. By the time we got to the outdoor mall, we were hungry. We perused the area and decided to go to the Sonoma Wine Garden which is in Santa Monica Place. Since the weather was beautiful, we chose to sit outside. The restaurant and most of the other restaurants and the Food Court in Santa Monica Place are on the third floor. I saw some booths and noticed that you could sort of see the ocean from there. I was very surprised to see that our seat looked at the construction of some building. I asked the very nice waiter what one has to do to sit there where one could see the ocean. The answer is to go to the Food Court and eat outside. That part is not part of the restaurant.

Even though this restaurant specializes in wines, we chose not to have any. I ordered the passion fruit ice tea and B had decaf. The excellent waiter came back to tell me that the green tea was almost gone and he would suggest I have their passion fruit black tea which I took. My tea did not taste like passion fruit but was very good. On the recommendation of the waiter, I ordered Eggs Benedict and B ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. She also ordered a cinnamon roll, which is new on their menu. Our waiter didn’t let us down as our meals were superb.

The grilled cheese sandwich consisted of béchamel, gruyere, cheddar and garden herbs. There was a salad on the side made up of various greens and if it there was any dressing on it, it was extremely light. My Eggs Benedict was perfect. There were two poached eggs atop an English muffin with avocado, fantastic sauce, fresh crumbled bacon and fresh basil. The cinnamon roll was gigantic and nothing like the sickly sweet Cinnabon. Of course I had to taste it and then I had to have some and then I had to have some more. The cinnamon roll was full of cinnamon, small raisins which could have been currents and small bits of pecans. It was sweet but no overly so. That was quite a treat.

On the weekend they have a brunch which includes all the champagne you can drink for $25. They also have a weekday brunch, lunch and dinner. I chose to have my food ala carte so the price without the champagne was $12. B’s sandwich was $10 and the cinnamon roll was $6. We loved it and will certainly return again. The web page is .

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Favorite Place

Today we went to Glendale to the Vintage Paper and Postcard Show. That was very interesting. I was so surprised to see so many postcards, pictures, magazines and other unusual items such as swizzle sticks and a few fishing lures. I was especially interested in finding the old Life magazine that had the article and pictures from our feminist center. Ironically, the cover of this magazine has Richard Nixon in a football uniform. I have a copy but I always look for another if I can find one. As of now, I have yet to find that magazine. Looking at all those old postcards etc. made me hungry so we looked in our GPS to find a place to eat that was nearby and found The Favorite Place. How could I pass up a restaurant with that name?

As we walked into the restaurant, we noticed it was quite small and almost every table was taken. We were seated and received a menu immediately. Favorite Place looks like a tea room and then I saw that it has many awards on the wall, one of which said it was the best Russian restaurant in Glendale. It might also be the cutest with a lot of flowery items around, even on the lighting. The tables had white table clothes and a vase with a fresh flower in it. We were asked about drinks and I had iced tea while B ordered their famous rosewater lemonade. The iced tea had a flowery flavor, something like Chinese tea, and was delicious. The lemonade was excellent and beautiful and refreshing. Both drinks were refilled continuously, much to our happiness.

B ordered the Favorite luncheon which consists of the rosewater lemonade, house salad, five different finger sandwiches, a dessert tray and coffee ($28). I chose the smoked salmon (lox) sandwich which came with a tomato salad ($14) and iced tea ($3). Before we ordered, excellent bread, butter and black olives in flavored olive oil were delivered to the table. Then came the tomatoes cut nicely on the plate drizzled with the same olive oil that was on the black olives. They were cold and fresh. Both of us got the tomatoes although it wasn’t listed in B’s luncheon. Then came B’s salad and, lo and behold, the female owner came and gave me a salad also, which I really hadn’t ordered or wanted. Much to my surprise, it was delicious. There were various lettuces and an eatable flower in a wonderful dressing that had sesame seeds in it. The dressing had a little sweetness to it and, surprisingly, was not overdone. The male owner then came to ask me if I would mind having my sandwich on olive bread rather than sourdough and I happily agreed.

My sandwich had lox, yogurt, various greens and dill on the olive bread. It was fantastic. The lox melted in my mouth and I was shocked at how nice the yogurt was and probably healthier than cream cheese. Since I had overdosed on bread and had finished my entire salad, I could only eat ½ of my sandwich, taking the rest home for dinner tonight. We were quite surprised when we saw B’s “finger” sandwiches. There were five different types of sandwiches, tastefully displayed on a stemmed fluted tray. Seeing that other sandwiches were huge, I think I understand why these were called “finger” sandwiches. However, they looked more like sandwiches to me as to their size. There were two of each kind – smoked turkey roll, eggplant wrap, Russian ham, tuna salad and, the only one I didn’t care for (I tasted every one), spicy egg salad. They were excellent and B enjoyed half of them considerably. The rest came home for dinner. Then she was served dessert – with two forks so I could share – and full-bodied coffee. The dessert was again beautifully arranged and consisted of two cupcakes – one white with pink frosting and one with red frosting – strawberries, grapes and eatable flowers. B said that the cupcakes were delicious. The strawberries were a bit sour but the grapes were wonderful. B’s entire meal is certainly one to share which makes it very reasonable.

The Favorite Place is at 115 W. Wilson in Glendale, CA. The phone number is 818-507-7409 and they do take reservations. The wesbsite is . They are open for lunch, Monday through Saturday. I highly recommend it as a lovely place with excellent rather unusual food.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Brent’s Deli – The Best in the Valley

After going to the doctor today and getting a great report, BK and I decided to splurge. Normally, BK cooks a very healthy meal for us – low fat, low sodium and low sugar. However, today we decided to eat lunch out and I told her it was her choice. She chose Brent's Deli in Northridge. We had been there many years ago and then we went a few months ago and loved it. We tried to go for our holiday meal but they were closed for the Jewish holiday so we went to two different delis at that time. None can compare to Brent's. This is a typical Jewish deli with huge sandwiches, matzo ball soup, and enormous desserts – just like New York or the Miami Beach that I remember.

We ordered one extra lean corned beef sandwich with potato salad and a small order of cheese blintzes (consisting of two blintzes) which we asked to be delivered as a dessert. Immediately after we were seated, we were asked about drinks – ice tea for me, diet Coke for BK. Then we were asked if we wanted pickles and I said I did. This was the only average part of the meal – the pickles. We were also brought 3 pieces of warm rye bread. Then our waiter brought our very lean, very large sandwich and two plates. BK and I each took half the sandwich, took out half the corned beef and then had a normal size sandwich. This was the leanest corned beef I have ever had. I prefer some with some fat but BK doesn't like that and I know the less fat, the better for me. We ordered extra lean and that is exactly what we got. The taste was wonderful with the corned beef and rye bread warm. We also shared a small potato salad which was the best I have ever had outside of BK's and my Aunt's. The waiter kept watching as we ate and as soon as the plates were cleared he brought the hot cheese blintzes. Brent's makes their own blintzes. They normally comes with sour cream and strawberry preserves. I asked for blueberry sauce instead of either of those. When I was young, my aunts took me to Miami Beach and they served cheese blintzes with blueberry sauce. I loved it and until now, never found any that I loved as much. I really can't describe these. They are filled with delicious, not too sweet, cheese and the blueberry sauce adds a perfect sweetness to the blintze. We were offered plain blueberries which would have been healthier but we chose the sauce and we weren't sorry. It was well worth it. When we had finished, we asked for a box for the rest of the corned beef and a couple of extra pieces of bread which our waiter brought to us quickly.

If Brent's was closer to my house, it would be the only deli I would ever go to. Jerry's, which is right near my house, can't compare. As with most delis here in LA or in New York or Miami Beach, it isn't a cheap eat. Our sandwich was $11.95 but we actually have 3 sandwiches out of one. I am still satisfied and think the leftovers will be eaten tomorrow. The two large blintzes cost $9.95. They have the usual huge menu with everything you might ever want. Brent's is at 19565 Parthenia St. in Northridge. They also have a restaurant in Westlake Village and can be found at . They have take-out and they deliver as well as cater. To sum up, in three words, we loved it!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Resnick Pavilion and The Stinking Rose – a Garlic Restaurant

Yesterday BK and I went to a member’s only preview of the Resnick Pavilion, a new art gallery at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  There were three displays – a large area of fashion and textiles from the 1600’s until the early 1900’s – the center of the building which had ancient art from as far back as 1600 BC – and another very large area which had art from the Resnick residence of which most was from the 1700’s and earlier .  Although we both found much of it beautiful, none of these are of particular interest to either of us.  I can’t imagine having a home with all that art and this is only a sampling of what they have collected. I will post a few pictures on Facebook.

After we went to LACMA, it was time for lunch.  Neither of us were excited about the menu they had at the cafe and the last time we were there we went to the cafeteria and didn’t want to do that either.  So, we got into the car, drove to La Cienega and there was The Stinking Rose, a place we have often talked about but we never went there.  We parked on the street although there is a parking lot which does not have a valet during the day.  The decor is very interesting and I again will have pictures posted on Facebook.  We were seated in a somewhat covered area and were immediately given a large pitcher of ice water.  Someone came and lit a candle beneath the plate where the waiter placed delicious garlic rolls so they were warm throughout our meal.  Along with the rolls, we had a mixture of parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.  We were quickly given our soda and ice tea and our order was taken.  The waiter said it would be ready in 10 minutes and it was.


BK ordered fish and chips.  I don’t know what kind of fish it was but it was huge and she said it was wonderful.  She was served enough garlic French fries to feed a family of four.  I tasted them and they were delicious – crispy on the outside and covered with garlic.  We took home enough so that BK had the same dinner at night and I ate the fries.  I ordered salmon which I could have had with any of four sauces.  I chose one with cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic and calamata olives.  It came with a pasta but I asked to substitute the garlic mashed potatoes and I wasn’t sorry.  The fish was tender and the sauce was extremely tasty.  I cleaned my plate.  The waiter brought us a dessert menu and we passed on the garlic ice cream, although one day I would like to try it, but we just couldn’t pass up the super sundae.  This was good but not worth the calories and fat.  With our check, we were given soft minty things to counteract all the garlic we ate.

The Stinking Rose is at 55 N. La Cienega in Beverly Hills.  The website is . This is not an inexpensive restaurant.  Our meals were $19.95 each with the dessert at $9.00 plus the cost of our drinks which were refilled without asking. I will definitely return because I like garlic.  If you don't like garlic, this isn’t the restaurant for you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

EAT Cafe – Revisited

I reported on EAT on September 29, 2009 when we went there for breakfast as we had on numerous occasions. Yesterday we decided to go there again, this time for lunch also after we had been at the Y in North Hollywood. It was a beautiful day and we arrived at about 11:30, just before the rush. Actually, the restaurant is a bit larger than it was last year because the business next door is no longer there. EAT has put a few larger tables outside on the patio of the building next door. That was good because by 12:15, both inside and outside were full and people were waiting. We chose to eat outside on a beautiful day.

The menu is quite varied with breakfast served all day. This time both BK and I chose to eat lunch. They had a few specials listed on a board outside and BK chose a pressed chicken sandwich which had white meat chicken, basil, feta cheese and sun dried tomatoes. There was a sauce that appeared to be a Russian or 1000 Island on the side but BK didn’t feel the need to use it. She also had a choice of shoestring fries (which happen to be seasoned), mixed green salad or fruit. She chose the fries and liked them. The sandwich was delicious, just about perfect, she said.

I decided to have the Halfer which is in the I’m Sure I Forgot Something section. It was a half sandwich (choice of tuna, ham or turkey) and either soup or salad. As you might know from past reviews, I seldom choose a salad so this time I had corn chowder soup which was the soup that day. The soup was thick with corn and some vegetables. It tasted somewhat creamy but not heavy with cream and it did have a very slight zing to it. Not having eaten a ham sandwich for a very long time, my ham sandwich, which I got without the Swiss cheese or onion, but with lettuce, tomato and mustard mayo on whole grain bread, was great.

This is not a greasy spoon. This is a restaurant that says the tuna is dolphin safe. They have various burgers, melts, sandwiches including wraps, salads and soup. Every other Tuesday, we eat lunch out after we go to the gym. I know we will be going to EAT much more regularly than once a year. The address is 11108 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood – website is .

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Chi Dynasty and more

Labor Day Weekend, 2010, and we decided it was time to eat out rather than have BK’s delicious cooking. One day we went to Chevy’s Mexican restaurant in Burbank and had a very good meal. I am not writing up a review of Chevy’s but almost everything I have ever had there has been good. On Sunday they have $3 guacamole made at the table which was quite tasty.

On Monday, we decided to go to a new Chinese restaurant that we hadn’t tried – Chi Dynasty. A few years ago, a new building was erected and it was designed in a Russian motif. It housed a more elegant Russian restaurant upstairs and a café on the first level. They went out of business and recently this Chinese restaurant opened in this Russian looking building. We received a menu in the mail and thought it was a good time to try it out.

The interior is very nicely Chinese with a lot of red and black. The music that was playing sounded like Chinese pop music and was quite nice. We started out with a Chinese chicken salad since it had been voted the best in town. The waiter (all are Chinese and dressed in black Chinese outfits) brought a large bowl and the ingredients for the salad were all in the bowl. He mixed it at the table and then split it into two dishes for us. It was all white meat in small strips tossed with ginger, scallions, ground peanuts, sesame seeds, crispy rice noodles, lettuce and dressing. It was delicious, as good as the best I have had. My only complaint is that there was a little too much dressing but I am one who likes very little dressing on my salads. When I go again, I will tell them when I order that I want light on the dressing. The salad was $7.25 and plenty for two people.

We also ordered the dim sum sampler. This is made up three types of dim sum depending on what the cook decides. The waiter told us what was in the sampler today. We got two pork, two shrimp and two vegetable. Interestingly, the wrappers of each type were different. This was served in the traditional wooden dish and were all steamed, not fried as we see at some restaurants. I really liked the pork and the vegetable. I found the shrimp to be a bit tough. This sampler was $6.25.

As if that wasn’t enough to eat, we also ordered sesame chicken. We were asked if we wanted rice so I rightly suspected that there was an extra charge. I got brown rice and BK got white rice and we were charged for each. Since both of us had a lot left over, next time we could only order one. The sesame chicken ($8.75) was a bit disappointing because it was more like sweet and sour than other sesame chicken we have had in the past. Also, some of the chicken was so small that after frying, it was a bit tough. Other pieces were very tender. We ate all of this as well and it was quite a large amount. We arrived there at 3:15 and found out we could have the lunch menu until 4:00 which was very nice.

I had jasmine tea which was surprisingly served with just a cup of water and a tea bag. It was very tasty but I had to ask for more hot water which cooled rather quickly. Serving a closed pot of water would have been better. BK had diet Coke and was charged for a refill even though it was presented as if there would be no extra charge.

We left there very full and satisfied. I would definitely return, again for lunch because it can be quite pricey for dinner. We had very good service. They deliver with a $3 delivery charge and I am sure we will do that in the future. Chi Dynasty is at 12229 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City. They also have a restaurant in Los Feliz.

After enjoying the Labor Day eating-fest, today we went to the gym. When we came back, BK cooked a wonderful, healthy lunch – angel hair pasta with grape tomatoes, garlic and parmesan cheese, garlic bread made with olive bread and cantaloupe. All I can say about our lunch today was that it was fantastic and I am so lucky to have my personal chef.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lookout Bar and Grill in Channel Island Harbor

Yesterday we took a lovely ride up Highway 1 without any destination in mind except to drive along the coast. By the time we got to Oxnard (actually Channel Island Harbor) we were ready to eat. In my quest to sit at the ocean, we first tried a place called the Lobster House and it is no longer in business, at least that is the way it looked to us. Unfortunately, many stores in the harbor area that are near the ocean are closed, a sign of our times. We drove down the road and went into various areas where there were shops and restaurants and finally found one that had two places that sounded interesting to us. One was an Italian restaurant and the other an English pub. I chose the English pub which we had to enter by walking up a flight of steps. It is called the Lookout Bar and Grill at 2800 South harbor Blvd. in Oxnard.

The restaurant/bar has large windows so we could sit inside and still feel like we were close to the ocean. Why did we choose to eat inside on a beautiful hot day? Although it was 97 when we left our apartment in Studio City, it was sunny but very cool at 64 near the ocean. Too cool for these valley women to sit outside when dressed for the heat. This is truly an English Pub. In fact, they even have the Union Jack newspaper there. The menu had a number of English items as well as American items on the menu. There were fish and chips, bangers and mash, cheese and onion pastie and cottage pie, which sounded to me like my mother’s shepherd’s pie, to name a few. BK chose chicken and mushroom pie. For sides she ordered clam chowder and baked beans. The soup was very good but couldn’t compare to Delmonico’s; however the price for food was considerably less expensive although not cheap. The pie wasn’t like any pot pie we would think of. It was actually in a large filo type pastry shell exactly like my pastie only larger. Inside was a creamy sauce with chicken and mushrooms. BK thought it was very tasty and she loved it. The beans were Heinz beans so they were nothing special.

I wanted something I had never had before so I had the Cornish pastie. This had the same shell which was flaky and very tender. The filling was ground beef, onions, peas, carrots, potatoes which must have been chopped very small because I didn’t see them. There was no sauce but it had some very nice seasoning. I loved it more than I thought I would. I usually don’t care for food in pastry shells but this was wonderful. The sides I picked were coleslaw, the mayonnaise, creamy type which I like, and peas which were the frozen kind with no sauce or seasoning which I also like. I belonged to the clean plate club after this lunch. I have put pictures of both lunches on Facebook. The service was good after they saw we hadn’t been waited on. Our waiter was attentive and we got refills on our drinks in an appropriate time. I would return there when I am in the neighborhood

As we began our journey home, we drove past a festival in Port Hueneme and there was a lot of traffic so everyone was going slowly. That was good because a very large goose decided to cross the street right in front of us. Everyone stopped to let the goose go. BK put pictures on Facebook. As we drove up the coast (or maybe down), we stopped along the way to watch some windsurfing. The waves were quite high and it looked like a lot of fun – for someone else, not me. We decided to take a different road back over the hills to the Valley – Highway 23. Although this was a beautiful, very curvy ride that reminded us of driving through the mountains in Colorado, I wouldn’t take it again because it took us an hour. It is quite a bit longer than going over Malibu Canyon probably because of the switchback driving. Even the 101 wasn’t crowded. This was a wonderful ending to a beautiful day.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Delmonico’s Steak and Lobster House

Last night we went out to celebrate MT’s birthday at Delmonico’s Steak and Lobster House, 16358 Ventura Boulevard in Encino. I have been there before and have always thought of the restaurant as one catering to lobster and seafood but they do have some steaks on the menu as well. They used to be called Delmonico’s Lobster House so I wonder why the change in name. The menu appears to be just about the same.

There were 5 of us – me, BK, MT, BJ and GT. We were seated at a large, round table which made conversation very easy. Immediately we were asked for our drink orders which consisted of soda and iced tea that were refilled constantly throughout the evening. We were then asked if we would like their sourdough bread or if we would like the cheese garlic bread (extra cost) or a combination of both. We chose the combination and were very happy with that. Those who ate the garlic cheese bread said it may be the best they have tasted. I loved the sourdough as did others. I do wish that all restaurants would serve butter that isn’t freezer hard. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case here.

Each of us ordered soup – three having Boston clam chowder and two of us enjoying lobster bisque. The clam chowder was thick with clams and declared excellent. BJ and I had the lobster bisque which had many small pieces of lobster and a decidedly wine flavor. We also thought it was excellent. As the specials are really lobster, MT and GT had the two lobster tail special which they said was tender and very good. BK had lobster risotto. She was served with a lobster tail atop the risotto which was easily removed from its shell. BK said the tail was delicious as was the creamy, cheesy risotto but it was a little salty. BJ had salmon which came with fantastic corn and average string beans. The salmon saw wonderful. I had veal marsala. The three thin pieces of veal came covered with a mushroom wine sauce which was excellent. However, the first piece of veal was a bit tough the other two were better with the last one being very tender. MT and I also had a baked potato which was just like any baked potato. We also had mushrooms which I thought were excellent. GT had fried string onions which I loved.

Then came dessert. The restaurant was told that it was MT’s birthday and they provided a fantastic looking dessert. The problem with this was that none of us were told it was coming so all except me ordered dessert. They served our desserts and then came with the special one and we all sang. There is a picture of the dessert which MT took home to eat at a later date. So, be aware that if you tell them in advance about the birthday, they will provide a lovely selection of various small cakes. There is a picture of this on Facabook. The other desserts were all very good. MT had a delicious crème brulee. BK had a fantastic white chocolate banana cream pie. GT had what to me looked the best – chocolate cake with a raspberry sauce topped with a chocolate truffle. It was moist and wonderful. BJ had Belgium chocolate ice cream that had been drizzled with chocolate that hardened, laying in an almond cookie shell which I loved.

The food was excellent. The service was a bit on the slow side but we were attended to well. This is a special occasion restaurant with dinners ranging from around $20 up to $60. It is a very nice setting and a good choice for the birthday dinner.

The Rack

After we saw Flipped, we decided to go to The Rack in the Woodland Hills Promenade. We had gone there once before but hadn’t been there in ages. I hadn’t remembered that it was a sort of sport’s restaurant/bar/and pool hall. We sat in the bright restaurant area and saw the TV declaring that Brett Farve had again come out of retirement. We were quickly given our menus and I happily could get Sprite Zero. Since I have stopped drinking caffeine (except for some tea), I find it very hard to get a caffeine free, diet soda in a restaurant.

The menu contained a special “stimulus” lunch menu with all choices under $10. It looked great to both of us. We both ordered the same thing but with different choices – two BBQ sliders and a cup of soup. BK had one BBQ pork and one BBQ chicken along with a cup of chili. I had one BBQ pork and one BBQ brisket which, for reasons I can’t explain, I had a taste for. I never eat brisket but this was a good choice. The other choice was BBQ tri-tip. I picked vegetable tortilla soup. It was filled with vegetables, some cheese, avocado and tortilla strips. It had just a little spice and was absolutely delicious. BK loved her chili but did say it had quite a bit of a kick. As for the sliders, we loved them all but I think both of us thought the pork was the juiciest. Both of us put the side dill pickles in the sandwich and added more BBQ sauce to the chicken and brisket. When the sauce is just cooked into the meat, it is great. However, the side sauce for me was a bit too spicy but not awful. Our lunch cost $9.95 each and was well worth it. Service was very good.

All in all, we had a wonderful day – a good movie followed by a very good lunch. The Rack is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have many evening specials. Lunch was great and I will certainly return.

Monday, August 16, 2010

La Sandia at Santa Monica Place

Today we decided to go to the new Santa Monica Place.  It just opened last week and what a difference.  It is now an open mall with a layout that reminds me very much of Hollywood and Highland.  There are three floors that go in a circle with the middle like an open atrium.  Although the temperature at my house was 92 when I got home, it was 64 in Santa Monica with a thick marine layer.  This is a high-end mall with the anchor stores being Bloomingdales and Nordstrom, which isn't open yet.  Don't expect to find anything like Kohls at this mall.  The third floor is mostly dining.  Eventually there will be something called The Market with what appeared to be food stalls.  There is a food court with seating both inside and out. The food court had various cuisines and the food looked very good. Seating on the third floor allows guests to view the Ocean while eating which was hidden by the marine layer today. There are also some upscale sit-down restaurants.  We chose to sit down at what is described as a modern Mexican restaurant, La Sandia.

After a short wait, we were led to an inside table that actually feels like it is outside.  It has lots of natural light and long windows.  Immediately, our waitress asked for our drink order (iced tea for me, diet Coke for BK).  She returned with chips, a little thicker than I would like but not a drop of grease and very tasty with no apparent salt, excellent salsa with just enough spice but not too much and a small side order of very good guacamole which I ordered. 

For my meal, I ordered Tacos al Pastor - adobo marinated pork / grilled pineapple / onion / cilantro / salsa verde in three corn soft tortillas.  This came with refried black beans and Mexican rice.  Everything was cut in small pieces and the amount of rice and beans was also just the right size.  I am so tired of going to restaurants and having to order huge amounts of food which I can't finish.  I cleaned my plate. The pork was tender and tasty and the pieces of pineapple added a wonderful flavor. BK ordered Chipotle Barbecued Chicken Salad - grilled all natural chicken breast / crispy tortilla strips / pico de gallo / corn /Panela cheese / black beans / napa cabbage-romaine salad / cilantro ranch dressing.  Everything was very fresh and BK said it was very good.  Although we didn't order dessert, the waitress told us that the desserts are like small tastes but we were both too full for even a small dessert.  It took a little long for us to get our meal but one of the hostesses came over to say that our order was taking some time but would be out soon and it was.  My tacos were $9.50 and BK's salad was $12.  This is a restaurant which I would like to visit again

There are other interesting sounding restaurants in Santa Monica Place which I would also like to try.  I don't get there very often but I will remember this when visitors come as well.  We walked around the entire mall and then stopped in at the Ugo Cafe on the first floor where they have coffee, pastries and gelato.  After having a taste of the gelato, I ordered a kid's size raspberry and it was fantastic.  BK had a Napolian which she thought was delicious.  All in all, our trip to Santa Monica was an epicurian delight.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Los Arroyos

It has been a long time since I have written a restaurant review. Part of that is that I am not eating in many restaurants these days.  Another is that I just haven't felt like writing anything.  However, this past week I went to the the outlet stores in Camarillo.  I needed a new pair of sneakers which I always buy at the Nike Store there.  It was the nicest day we had here in a long time and I was feeling like I really wanted to go out, something which I haven't done for a while.  After being quite successful with shopping, we were hungry.  I don't like the food court there and I am watching my food these days.  My sister likes a BBQ place in the old town of Camarillo but I didn't feel like BBQ.  We went to the new section of the outlet, near the Croc store, and there we saw Los Arroyos, a Mexican restaurant, one of my favorite ethnic foods.  I looked at the menu and felt I could eat there. 

The ambiance is decidedly Mexican with Mexican music playing as well.  The waitpeople were very helpful explaining that we ordered at the registers and the food and drinks would be delivered to our table.  BK and I decided to share a fajitas combo of chicken and steak, minus the green and red peppers and sour cream.  She also ordered a cup of meatball soup.  I had tropical iced tea as well.  BK liked her soup which was thick with meatballs and vegetables, including avacados.  Although there were Mexican spices, they were not overwhelming, just enough to give it a good flavor.  BK was concerned that there wouldn't be enough food for us to share but there was plenty.  The chicken and steak were both flavorful and tender.  It came with rice and black beans and we chose corn tortillas.  Because we asked not to have sour cream, we were given a double helping of guacamole which was excellent. The fajita combination cost $14.95. Both of us were very happy with our meal and now when I go to Camarillo for shoes, I will definitely return to Los Arroyos.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

French Café in Milwaukee

Last night W and I went to the village in Wauwatosa, a suburb of Milwaukee, for dinner at a small café called Le Reve. The ambiance is similar to that which one might find in Paris. There are small tables, albeit not as small as in Paris, close together but not as close as in Paris. The menu is very complete with many choices ranging from dinners to salads to sandwiches to appetizers to desserts. They also serve breakfast although I did not see that menu. The woman who owns the restaurant was a former pastry chef for Sanford D’Amato. She left him and decided to open this café in the Village.

Interestingly enough, after perusing the menu, both W and I decided on the same sandwich – Croque Monsieur. This was toasted French ham and cheese with Gruyere Bechamel on country white bread. The ham and cheese were grilled with the cheese baked on top. It would be hard for me to describe how fantastic this sandwich was and how filling. Both of us ate just ½ sandwich and we took home the other halves which JK heated up and promptly enjoyed when he got home. I also had some pommes frites (fries) left over which JK loved as well. These were thin and crisp, served with a garlic aioli – delicious. We were too full for dessert but W bought a pecan sticky bun for JK and I bought a little coffee cake for me to eat for breakfast today.

This morning I enjoyed that coffee cake with two cups of hazelnut coffee made with W’s new Keurig coffee maker. What a great dinner and breakfast. This is a keeper, one I will visit every time I come back to Milwaukee which I hope will be in the summer rather than in December.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Melting Pot, Lucy 51 and Timmy Nolans

Last night to celebrate a special occasion and because I had a coupon for a free chocolate fondue, we went to The Melting Pot. I hadn’t been to a fondue restaurant in many years and wanted to try it out even though it is very expensive. First we had the cheese fondue. We chose the Wisconsin Trio from the various types offered and it was wonderful, served with three types of bread, apples, and vegetables. Then we had a salad, an excellent Caesar for BK and a California salad for me. My salad consisted of greens, walnuts, gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes with a delicious black walnut raspberry vinaigrette. For our main meal we both chose the 6 ounce filet which we cooked in a very flavorful vegetable broth. It was extremely tender. There are many choices and combinations of meats and fish. We also added a lobster tail. The main dishes are served with mushrooms, portabella mushrooms, potatoes, broccoli and asparagus all of which we cooked. We also got numerous sauces that we could add to any of our food. The crème-de-resistance was the chocolate fondue. Again we were given many choices of blends. We chose one with dark chocolate, marshmallow and oreo crumbs and we were not disappointed. The waiter, Derek who attended to our every need, mixed the chocolate and then lit it on fire. By the way, he also made our cheese fondue right at the table. The fantastic chocolate fondue was served with strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, cheesecake, Rice Krispie treats and a chocolate brownie. Magnificent. I even took the spoon when we were done and spooned out the remaining chocolate. This is not a place to go for any dinner but it is one for a special occasion. The Metling Pot is a chain and is in Pasadena, Thousand Oaks, Milwaukee and many other cities. Loved it.

This past week we decided to have lunch in Toluca Lake at places we had never tried. The two places we picked happened to be sports bars but Lucy 51 is much nicer than one would think for that type of establishment. The food was good but a bit pricy. BK had very good sliders and French fries while I had a turkey club with sweet potato fries. Our servings were very generous and we each took home half our meal which we ate for dinner. That made the price a bit more palatable. They have a nice, full menu and, although there were TVs all around, the décor was not at all like a sports bar and the place was rather quiet.

As for Timmy Nolans, don’t bother. The food was OK but nothing special. The problem for me was that this was a true sports bar. Besides the waitress, we were the only women in there. The one TV that was blasting wasn’t on sports although many others were. It was on HLN and they were talking about women in the military. The men at the bar were having a field day making sexist comments about this and the news changed just before I had had enough which was good because I was ready to engage them in a discussion which would not have been very nice. Naturally, this colored my experience but I am not going back.

Monday, October 26, 2009

El Criollo - A Cuban Restaurant

The first time I had Cuban food was about 20 years ago when a Cuban friend of mine took me to Versailles. I was a bit concerned at first because I was not a fan of spicy food. She assured me that it wasn’t spicy and she was right. I don’t eat Cuban food often because it is sometimes greasy and is not what you might call low calorie. Sometimes I go to Porto’s in Burbank for their delicious Cuban sandwich. Their pastries are fantastic also. Anyway, today we looked at our coupons and there was a Cuban restaurant in Van Nuys that we had never heard of, although BK swears we went to this restaurant when it was at a different location. This was also convenient because it was not far from Costco and we needed gas.

El Criollo is a real gem. The restaurant is on Sepulveda between Kittridge and Vanowen which is not the most elegant of neighborhoods. As we stepped into this very simplistic but really nice restaurant, we were told we could sit wherever we wanted. We looked over the menu and saw that they had many items. There was the chicken, which most of the people did order. Cuban chicken is roasted with onion, garlic and some type of fruit, often lemon. The people near us had this and it was just a beautiful looking half chicken. I decided not to order that or Cuban pork which is also a favorite of mine. First we were given a basket of warm Cuban bread which was fine but nothing special. I ordered Bistec Empanizado which is breaded sirloin steak that is flattened and lightly seasoned. My meal came with rice and black beans along with plantains. I was surprised to find a small salad on my plate as well. There was no dressing on the salad but they brought bottles of oil and vinegar. Since I don’t usually eat the salad, I really didn’t care. Half the plate was rice. There was a cup with black beans and a spoon to put the beans on the rice. The steak was flat and fried crisp with raw onions on top. I actually took the onions, cut them up and mixed them with my rice and beans although the beans were tasty enough without the added onion. The steak had absolutely no grease and was very tasty. It cost $6.95, a real bargain.

BK was actually a little more adventurous. She asked the waiter to describe the Picadillo a la Criolla which, I believe, is a specialty since I have never seen it on a Cuban menu before. This was ground sirloin that had been broken up and simmered with herbs and spices. This was delivered to our table by, what I think, was the owner. He put down my dish and then BK’s. He bent over her and said that this was his favorite and best. Then he took some of the beans and put them on the rice and then put some of the ground beef mixture on top of all of it, mixed it together and told her that was the way to eat it. She took a taste and declared it wonderful. I took a taste and agreed. She mixed it all together and has brought about a third of it home for dinner. Since we brought home some pizza yesterday, we are set for our dinner tonight. She also had plantains. This meal cost $7.50.

El Criollo is at 6622 Van Nuys Blvd. The website is . We will be back and I will have chicken. They also do have a vegetarian selections.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Watercress - A Café

Time for breakfast – actually a little late for breakfast – and we wanted to go somewhere new. When people like us go out to eat so often, we want something different. BK looked up a nearby restaurant on Yelp and there she discovered Watercress – A Café. I loved the name or brand as it is now called and so off we went. Here is a small, clean and tidy restaurant with about 12 tables. They call themselves gourmet and organic whenever possible. We were seated immediately and given the menu which is not too large but very interesting. We also were served our very good coffee which is roasted next door at the Coffee Roaster.

BK ordered cinnamon raisin French toast. It came with two large pieces and a few fresh strawberries on top. We ended up not quite sharing but each of us having more than a taste of the other’s dish. This was fantastic – not too sweet but sweet enough and tender and full of egg. I ordered the egg frittata panini. This consisted of scrambled eggs, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and a regular tomato all inside two pieces of bread that had been toasted panini style. Usually, I have found paninis to be flattened out, like put in a grill and somewhat greasy. This one looked like a regular sandwich with grill marks on the bread and there was no grease at all. It was delicious. I ordered it without basil and they easily accepted my request. This came with potatoes that are cubed and fried nice and crisp. It also came with a salad of mixed greens and a rather tasty dressing. I was asked if I wanted potatoes or salad and said potatoes but I got both.

I thought the prices were a bit high but not too high either since our bill came to $23.60 before tip. Most items are around $10 which I thought was high for eggs, sausage and toast. However, I do realize that organic food does cost more. All their bakery is homemade and looked wonderful. I will return but not often because of the cost. I do want to try their lunch sandwiches which also look very interesting. They have many vegetarian offerings as well as at least one vegan sandwich. Watercress is at 13565 Ventura Blvd in Sherman Oaks.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Zach’s Café

Wanting to go to a restaurant that I had never been to in the Valley, we picked Zach’s Café. We had received numerous coupons and I had always nixed going there because it is Italian, not one of my favorite foods. However, on this particular day I looked at the menu and decided it was time to use the coupon.

Zach’s is on Ventura between Vineland and Lankersheim in Studio City. It is sort of hidden away from the road with its parking lot in front of the restaurant. Although it was a beautiful day, we decided to eat indoors. The restaurant is rustic looking with wood slat floors. We were immediately seated and, although I had difficulty understand the guy who was going to serve our drinks and he had difficulty understanding me as well, we did get our drinks quickly and correctly and they were refilled at the proper times. I was happily surprised at the menu which is very extensive. What really surprised me was the very reasonably priced lunch menu, the dinner menu which had smaller sizes of their regular dishes at smaller prices and the rather extensive vegetarian menu.

I had already decided I wanted lasagna with meat. They have one with only vegetables as well. First we were served six hot cheese garlic rolls that were just wonderful. I had to be careful not to eat more than one so I would have room for my food (I did eat another one for dessert). The luncheon came with a choice of various soups or salad. If you have been reading my reviews, you will know that I picked soup – minestrone this time. Minestrone is not usually a soup I would pick as they also had the house specialty, chicken vegetable, but it sounded so good. It is vegetarian blend of beans and veggies with a touch of pasta and not much, if any, oregano. It was delicious, thick like Mom used to make. A bowl of this would be a meal. My lasagna was in its own casserole type dish. It is correctly described as layers of noodles with ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheese covered with a ground beef meat sauce. I finished every last bit.

BK had trouble deciding what she wanted. Originally, she was going to rely on her old stand-by, spaghetti and meatballs, but, after perusing the menu, she decided on their specialty, chicken parmigiana. All their chicken dishes are made with skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Her dish had a very nice size breaded chicken breast (this can also be grilled), melted cheeses and marinara sauce with a side of spaghetti. I tasted the chicken and found it to be crisp, moist and extremely tasty. BK also had a clean plate when she finished.

My lasagna cost $8.00 and the chicken parmigiana cost $9.00. We showed the waiter the coupon we had brought in before we ordered and he pointed out that we had not read it correctly because it was only good for dinner. However, he said he would honor the coupon anyway. That was nice. At the dinner hour, most meals come in two sizes and I must say that both of us had plenty to eat with the smaller size. If you like Italian food, I highly recommend Zach’s Café at 10820 Ventura Blvd.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Final Cupcake Review

For a number of weeks now, BK and I have been, in the quest of knowledge, searching for the perfect cupcake. We have now experienced four different cupcake shops and have come up with our definitive answer – or not. One reason for this is that BK and I do not have the same tastes. So I will now end this quest by adding our latest research which happened when we went to Sprinkles in Beverly Hills.

Sprinkles is one of the first, if not the first, to start this gourmet cupcake craze that has swept Los Angeles and maybe the nation. My daughter loves these cupcakes. BK does not. I couldn’t remember if I like them better than the others we had so, of course, we had to go there and do a taste test. We ordered the usual chocolate with white icing (black and white), chocolate marshmallow, chocolate coconut, and cinnamon sugar. We split them all. The cake is dryer than some of the others but not dry and crumbly. I thought all these chocolate cakes were delicious with a better chocolate flavor than the others. It did taste different and I liked that. BK didn’t notice the difference. BK liked the icing while I thought it was too sweet and too much. Sprinkles also charges $3.25 for their cupcakes which appeared to be somewhat smaller than the others.

In conclusion, we both agree that My Little Cupcake on Ventura Blvd. was the worst and we would never go there again. That is all we agree on. My favorite is Famous Cupcakes which is near our house. I found the cake to be moist and the icing not too sweet. Bonnie’s favorite is Dot’s Cupcakes in Pasadena which I also loved and was the least expensive at $2.75. They also sell mini-cupcakes. And for the reasons listed above, Sprinkles, while not the favorite of either of us, certainly is tasty and is worth going to just because it is Sprinkles. However, when I want a cupcake and I don’t want to travel, the one near my house is #1 for me.