Posts Tagged ‘Gastropub’

They say that variety adds to the spice of life. One can live life completely routinely and habitually day by day, but that leads to a dull and predictable life. These type of people live by the motto, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In other words, why change something if it already works just fine? I would argue about how boring that sounds, but another would argue “Better safe than sorry.” While you may not successfully convince the stubborn people, many others accept variety in their lives. Trying something different makes life much more interesting, especially when it already changes on a set schedule. In this case, I refer to things that change monthly, such as a monthly pint nite, bottle share, or food specials menu. Speaking of the latter, you can find a terrific monthly specials menu at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern.

Dedicated to the heart of true craft, Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (JFAT) understands that cooking requires more than simply skill – cooking requires HEART. Sure their menu contains plenty of amazing dishes that you will want to come back for over and over again in order to try everything. But did you know that JFAT carries a monthly specials menu? In addition to continually updating their menu and adding new items, all JFAT locations now offer a limited-time monthly menu with seasonal eats. This month, I got to try three items from their current specials menu:

  • Grilled Prosciutto-wrapped Figs with Arugula, Goat Cheese, Pine Nuts and Balsamic Syrup – Four halved fresh figs, wrapped with prosciutto, lightly grilled, served around arugula lightly dressed with sherry vinaigrette, and sprinkled with crumbled goat cheese & toasted pine nuts. Figs come drizzled lightly with balsamic syrup
  • Grilled Zucchini, Corn, Red Pepper, Ricotta and Squash Blossom Flatbread – Flatbread topped with Fontina, Ricotta, Parmesan, grilled zucchini, roasted corn, red peppers, and zucchini squash blossoms
  • Pasta with Clams, Andouille Sausage, Corn and Tomatoes – Thick-cut pappardelle pasta tossed with Manila clams, spicy Andouille style sausage, white wine, garlic, tomatoes. and corn

Enjoy something unique at any Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern location while the season lingers! Check out JFAT’s Facebook and Twitter pages to see what else they have that you may like your taste buds to tango with.

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Summer has undoubtedly arrived, what with the heat wave and all. The weather does not appear to get any cooler in the next month or two, so cool off with a nice cool treat. The summer season has a great effect on the types of food and drinks that people consume, as more people start to prefer light and refreshing things to consume. Your body just craves it – when you feel hot, your body tells you to go find something cold to eat or drink. If you plan on powering through this heat wave, then Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern has got you covered.

We know and love Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (JFAT) for their amazing food and great ambiance. Their menu always impresses with rotating and seasonal dishes, and they have plenty of weekly specials that you will want to come back for over and over, such as Happy Hour, Burger & Beer specials, and early dinner (supper) specials. The food menu contains many customer favorites, plus a lot of dishes that depend on the month or season. However, JFAT does not limit seasonal rotations to only their food menu – they apply a seasonal rotation to their drink menu too. Having just launched in early July, JFAT has added six new summer-inspired cocktails to their drink menu. JFAT already had a large list of drinks, and now you can enjoy any of the following to cool yourself off:

  • The Pearfectionist – Tito’s Vodka, Absolut Pear Vodka, Pear Nectar, Agave
  • SoCal Sour – Bulleit Rye, Lemon and Orange Juice, Diseño Malbec
  • Summer Sunrise – Ketel One, Blood Orange Juice, Blood Orange Liqueur, Sparkling Float
  • Blackberry Sangria – Troublemaker GSM, Sacred Bond Brandy, Schnapps, White Grape Juice
  • Peach Sangria – Simi Sauvignon Blanc, Sacred Bond Brandy, Peach Puree, Peach Schnapps
  • Classic Sangria – Simi Sauvignon Blanc, J-FAT Homemade Lemonade, Sacred Bond Brandy, Razzmatazz & Peach Schnapps

Treat yourself to a cool treat at any Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern location while the season lingers! Check out JFAT’s Facebook and Twitter pages to see what else they have that you may like your taste buds to tango with.

For all of our lives, we have always heard about the importance of breakfast as the most important meal of the day. Whenever told about this, have we received an explanation about the origin of that? The statement exists as more than just a phrase – breakfast truly does monitor and control your mind and body for the rest of the day. What humans consume within an hour of waking up ultimately determines how a person will feel the rest of the day. A person that eats a breakfast full of vitamins and protein will take on the day with superior energy than someone who has something less nutritious for breakfast, such as pancakes with just butter and syrup. While a breakfast such as that will provide a heavy dosage of carbohydrates necessary for burning energy, a human body requires protein and vitamins in order to strengthen and grow the body. For this reason, nutritionists recommend eggs for breakfast, as eggs provide an abundant amount of protein in a small package. Many restaurants that serve breakfast will serve eggs in some fashion. For those that crave breakfast done right, seek out a local spot that specializes in quality ingredients, such as Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern.

If you seek classic American cuisine with an artisanal touch, look no further than Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (JFAT). Reinventing traditional restaurant faire, JFAT covers many grounds of cuisine familiar to many with their high-quality approach to cooking. Currently boasting five locations between Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County, JFAT takes what you know about traditional American restaurants and turns it up to eleven. Their beverage offering alone always stays current with the seasons, as they routinely rotate out their craft beer offerings as well as their fine wines. People also love the cocktails at JFAT, as the drinks here range from sweet to spicy, mild to bold, and more. Between lunch, dinner, and a full bar, any time of the day makes for a great time to stop on by JFAT and enjoy a bite or sip or more, especially in the morning.

JFAT offers some exclusive items found only their brunch menu, which they only serve on Sunday mornings. Get there at the right time, and you can kick off your Sunday brunch right. Arrive before noon for Early Bird Happy Hour, and you can get mimosa, champagne, or their Famous Mary for just $7 each. But even if you cannot make it to Early Bird Happy Hour, JFAT’s brunch menu awaits you with lots of succulent choices, such as the popular Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Malted Ale Waffles. Enjoy JFAT’s signature buttermilk fried chicken with waffles made with real malted ale, thyme gravy, applewood smoked bacon, and maple syrup for $18. Perhaps you seek something with eggs for brunch? If so, JFAT offers two varieties of eggs benedict. One can go with the Classic Eggs Benedict – English muffins topped with black forest ham, poached eggs, and Hollandaise sauce. For a more unique spin, go with the BBQ Pulled Pork Benedict – English muffins topped with Anaheim chiles, barbecue pulled pork, poached eggs, and Tabasco Hollandaise sauce. Both of these come with tater tots and cost $17 per plate. For breakfast or brunch, some people like to eat with their hands. In that case, the Breakfast Flatbread makes for a great dish that multiple people can share. Normally cut into six pieces, this $16 flatbread comes with applewood smoked bacon, sausage, fried eggs, Fontina cheese, tater tots, and chives.

While the menu and food at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern looks and sounds familiar, one cannot judge a book by its cover. You cannot appreciate the flavor until you try it for yourself. Head on over to Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern at Point Loma (San Diego), Dana Point, Brea, Woodland Hills, or Santa Monica to savor American cuisine at its finest. Pay attention to their Facebook and Twitter pages for details about their current food specials, as well as new food and drinks that may arrive in the future.

As we grow older, our tastes change to shape the life of maturity that has enveloped us. As children, we preferred generally simpler foods, or foods popular within our culture. As time passes, our palates expand to include many other flavors, opening our minds to trying out lots of different foods out there. But while we start to eat differently as adults, sometimes we crave what we once had during our youths. Today, we refer to that as comfort food – food that reminds us of the comfort of home and childhood. Many gastropubs specialize in comfort food, but they do so in varying degrees of quality. Sure one can go to the local fast-food joint and get a cheap burger, but one can eat comfortably and exquisitely at a comfy restaurant, such as at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern.

If you seek classic American cuisine with an artisanal touch, look no further than Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern (JFAT). Reinventing traditional restaurant faire, JFAT covers many grounds of cuisine familiar to many with their high-quality approach to cooking. Currently boasting four locations between Los Angeles County, Orange County, and San Diego County, and with a fifth location opening soon, JFAT takes what you know about traditional American restaurants and turns it up to eleven. Between brunch, lunch, dinner, and a full bar, any time of the day makes for a great time to stop on by JFAT and enjoy a bite or sip or more. Their beverage offering alone always stays current with the seasons, as they routinely rotate out their craft beer offerings as well as their fine wines. People also love the cocktails at JFAT, as the drinks here range from sweet to spicy, mild to bold, and more.

On the food side, JFAT pays close attention to not only the quality, but the portions of their dishes. Even their appetizers and sides can function as a full meal. Most customers start right off with the ‘Buffalo BBQ Style’ Certified Angus Beef Meatballs, juicy meatballs sitting in spicy wing sauce and served with honey-garlic ranch. These meatballs come with some kind of caramelization on the outside, so you get a crispy, sweet, and slightly sticky outer coating that holds a juicy, meaty interior. At $13, you cannot go wrong with this starting appetizer. For the vegetarians out there, the Signature Grilled Santa Fe Caesar Salad represents a masterpiece. Grilled Romaine holds corn, salsa fresca, avocado, and green chile Caesar dressing. This large salad can function as an entrée, and tastes like one too thanks to the grilling of the Romaine that gives it a smoky and meaty flavor. This salad only costs $12, or for $6 more, you can add grilled prime flatiron steak, spiced shrimp, rare seared ahi, or grilled or fried chicken. As another side or starter, customers rave about the $9 Charred Brussels Sprouts, which JFAT serves with applewood-smoked bacon and pine nuts, all of which sits in a pool of maple syrup and bacon fat. For a traditional pub entrée, go with a burger, such as their Jimmy Burger. This $18 burger comes with applewood-smoked bacon, spicy jalapeño jam, and southern pimento cheese. Although more sweet and hearty than spicy, a little bit of heat kicks in at the end, giving a full spectrum of flavor in each bite. For a kinfe & fork entrée, JFAT’s Southern Fried Chicken represents a fan favorite thanks to the Herbes de Provence present in the batter. This entrée costs $19 and comes served with garlic mashed potatoes, thyme gravy, and green beans. JFAT proudly boasts a seasoned pastry chef that eloquently designs their desserts, such as Jimmy’s ‘Old School’ treat. In a large glass goblet, JFAT combines warm chocolate chip cookies, vanilla bean ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and roasted peanuts. This massive dessert that can feed at least two people costs only $12.

While the menu and food at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern looks and sounds familiar, one cannot judge a book by its cover. You cannot appreciate the flavor until you try it for yourself. Head on over to Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern at Point Loma (San Diego), Dana Point, Brea, or Woodland Hills to savor American cuisine at its finest. Also pay attention to their Facebook and Twitter pages for details about their upcoming Santa Monica location, as well as new food and drinks that may arrive in the future.

Southern California truly represents a mecca for unique eats. As a huge melting pot, Southern Californians can find almost any type of food from all over the world here. Aside from the variety, we can find all sorts of levels of cooking skills as well. From the cheap fast food spots to the fancy pricey joints, a restaurant exists for just about anybody. You can have a place with something fancy like lobster tacos that cost a few dollars. On the other hand, you can have a place with something common like a hamburger that costs a bit more for greater quality. For the latter, these restaurants that serve up common foods of higher quality typically fall under the moniker of a gastropub, and a lot of these have popped up across the nation in the past handful of years. In fact, another one popped up in Downtown Santa Ana last week under the name Eat Chow.

Last Wednesday, Eat Chow opened the doors to their third location in Downtown Santa Ana to the public. This humble restaurant has garnered a huge following ever since their discovery by the Orange County locals. Eat Chow does not boast too much, perhaps because their foods speaks for itself. Eat Chow takes common foods and makes them well, from their burgers to the sandwiches to the entrées and more. Clearly a lot of care has gone into the dishes, evident by how much of the food’s natural flavor one can taste. In addition to the heightened food quality, Eat Chow doles up generous portion sizes too. Their Ancho & Coffee Crusted Petite Filet plate costs $18 and gets you a lot on the plate. Filet Mignon normally costs a lot more than that, so you get great value at Eat Chow with anything they serve, even their drinks. With a vast lineup of beverages, it would take someone months to sip on everything that Eat Chow has to offer.

See what other things Eat Chow has in store by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

The nation’s top conference for food bloggers returns to Seattle this year, as the 7th Annual International Food Blogger Conference (IFBC) returns this September, starting Friday morning. This highly-acclaimed conference focuses on prime aspects to any writer that creates content related to food, beverages, cooking, and anything else in the culinary field. Covering a broad diversity of educational topics to choose from, each attendee may devise their own program of sessions to attend. Sessions/workshops will cover anything from food & cooking to writing skills to technology. I still have yet to formulate my full itinerary, but I get to pick one from each of these groups:

Saturday, 10:10am:

  • Anolon – Hands-on with cookware & bakeware
  • Krusteaz – Hands-on with baking goods
  • Teavana – Hands-on with teas

Saturday, 11:30am:

  • What Do You Do After You Hit Publish? – How to market your blog after you have written it
  • Honing the Craft – How to improve and diversify writing styles
  • Stop Motion Food Photography – How to take stunning photos

Saturday, 3:30pm:

  • Bubbles and Bites: Why Sparkling Wine is the Best Food Wine Presented by Italy’s Best Bubbles – Learn about food pairings
  • Curriculamb 101: From Pasture to Plate – Learn about the wonders of lamb cuisine
  • Wine education seminar presented by Concannon Vineyard & Winery – Learn all about wine

Sunday, 9:00am:

  • Supercharging Your WordPress Site – Making the most out of WordPress blogs
  • The Plan and The Pitch – Making your blog more professional and business-like
  • Food Trends: How to Identify and Use Them To Your Blog’s Advantage – Learning about the latest and hippest food trends

Sunday, 10:15am:

  • Cooking With Cannabis – Incorporating marijuana in cooking
  • Hungry for Words: Journalism 101 for Food Bloggers – Writing in a journalistic style, from researching to reporting and more

All weekend, attendees will get treated to many other exciting tastings and activities, such as the Taste of Seattle, a photography demo, an expo to discovery new products & ingredients, and more! Want me to cover/write about a particular session? Post a comment here or on my Facebook page, or tweet me. I will post something Saturday morning detailing my first day at the IFBC.

During any downtime this weekend, I can freely roam the city, so if you have any suggestions of places to visit, please do send me your suggestions! I appreciate all of the suggestions so far, and the following places have caught my eye. When I last visited Seattle in 2013, I got to visit Uneeda Burger, Elysian Brewing, Quinn’s Pub, 9 Million in Unmarked Bills, and more. For this year’s visit, I have crafted myself a list:

  • Matt’s in the Market – I got this suggestion back then, but wrote no notes, so I do not know what to look forward to. However, their food looks scrumptious, so I hope to visit.
  • Blind Pig Bistro – I received this suggestion when I inquired about gastropubs. I hope they have a nice craft beer list!
  • Tom Douglas restaurants – These restaurants look too pricey for me, but if I find the right company, I would not oppose to dining at any of these fine establishments.
  • Serious Pie – I heard they make some of Seattle’s finest pizzas. We will not know until we try it!
  • Theo Chocolate – So last time I actually visited Fremont but ran out of time to visit Theo Chocolate. This time, I hope to finally try their fair-trade chocolate!
  • Cowgirls Espresso – A bikini coffee shop… How could I not visit this place?

Finally, the breweries. Washington has their fair share of craft beer establishments, comparable to San Diego County.

  • Ballard: Hilliard’s, Stoup, Reuben’s, Urban Family Public House, Northwest Peaks, Peddler, Maritime Pacific, Populuxe, Bad Jimmy’s, and Hale’s.
  • Fremont: Fremont Brewing, Outlander, Odin, Rooftop
  • Greenwood: Lantern, Naked City, Bluebird
  • Queen Anne: Holy Mountain, McMenamins
  • Georgetown: Machine House, Elysian, Georgetown, Two Beers, Counterbalance
  • South Park: Lowercase, Burdick, Tin Dog, Odin, Valhalla, Big Al

I will have a lot more time in Seattle this time, basically staying in the area for an additional 36 hours than last time. The conference also does not last as long, starting later on Friday than last time. With all this free time, I hope to make the most out of my trip and visit as many unique places as possible. Let me know what I should check out, and I will try to formulate a plan to visit all these places.

Americans have an indescribable lust for bacon. No one can quickly discover the origin of why people love bacon so much. In fact, some people even accuse bacon as the reason why vegans hate carnivores so much. If bacon lovers talked about bacon as often as vegans talk about Veganism, perhaps the world would look at things a different way. Alas, we live in a society where vegans, atheists, and CrossFitters talk nonstop about what they do, and no one blabs about bacon. Truthfully, enough people love bacon that it simply goes without saying, so bacon remains an unspoken love. With an abundance of bacon everywhere, we tend to require the assistance of locals to direct us to places with amazing bacon eats. So when I had planned to commute to Hermosa Beach recently, a kind local directed me to a restaurant that brewed their own beer. Whaaaat?!

Hermosa Beach does not shy away from food businesses, as they have to cater to the thousands of monthly tourists that all have different tastes. As a tourist town, most of the businesses here have “safe” foods, or food that lacks creativity and originality. As a somewhat local person, I filtered through the restaurants with common foods, and my search landed me at Abigaile Restaurant. The building that Abigaile inhabits had gone through multiple business changes in the past couple of decades, but I believe that the folks behind Abigaile have found a winning business formula. Abigaile operates as a gastropub, serving up delicious traditional foods with modern reinventions to step things up a level. In addition to dazzling food, they also brew their own beer on the premises, but I will save that discussion for another day. For now, we focus on the food; specifically, the P.I.G. “Pop Tarts,” a customer favorite. A perfect meal for any time of the day, Abigaile starts with a puff pastry crust, and layers in smoked pork confit (leg), bacon lardons, and gruyère cheese. They then wrap this up, bake it to a golden brown, sprinkle Pecorino cheese on top, and serve it with tomato jam. For something this savory, only the hoppiest of beers can hope to cut through the meat’s intense flavor to bring about balance to the palate. Luckily, Abigaile brews their own double IPA called Beetlejuice DIPA that perfectly pairs with this porky hand pie.

Customers rave about the P.I.G. “Pop Tarts” for good reason, as it stands to solely represent the restaurant’s formidable culinary presence. You can snarf down your own P.I.G. “Pop Tarts” for just $13 at Abigaile in Hermosa Beach. For more updates from Abigaile, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

When the seasons change, many more things change than just the weather. Looking at the weather alone, Southern California currently experiences a massive heat wave that may make you believe that the seasons had not turned yet. A deadly virus threatens human civilization that broke out. A drought threatens the inhabitation of California. As a society, we cannot accurately predict what radical event will change the world next, but we can brace ourselves for anything, as we always have in the past as an enduring society. We can also fall back on what we typically associate with this time of the year. Fall, as we know it, indicates pumpkins, red wine, NFL, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and the fall harvest, especially the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, giving us a reason to gorge on Mooncakes. Looking at all these opportunities to feast on favorable foods, we should not overlook outdoor grilling, nor the foods prepared that way. Though the winds will chill the air more so than in the summer, many folks will still utilize the grill up through Thanksgiving. In homage of the veritable fall feast, take a look at these five burgers in the Greater Los Angeles Area that I highly recommend seeking out this season.

5. Belcampo Meat Company‘s Belcampo Cheeseburger

Have you ever visited collective gatherings of food businesses? I do not refer to strip malls or a food court or food truck spots. I refer to a full public market dedicated to providing real estate to local entrepreneurs seeking to enter the food & beverage industry. For example, the historic Pike Place Market in Seattle hosts countless independently-owned businesses, many of which serve unique foods found nowhere else. The Anaheim Packinghouse, which just opened earlier this year, houses a plethora of local food & beverage businesses all serving something unique such that no business competes with each other. Another highly-populated public market exists in Downtown Los Angeles known as Grand Central Market. This dense and compact market holds so many businesses and attracts so many people daily that you literally have to elbow your way through the crowd to get anywhere. If you do that, you may discover great hidden gems, such as the Belcampo Meat Company. This counter, along with its other four California locations, fully functions as both a butcher shop and a restaurant. Their offerings change based on the seasons and the market, but some menu items remain a constant, such as their Belcampo Cheeseburger. They grill a 5.5oz dry-aged & grass-fed beef patty to medium rare, then top it with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, butter lettuce, and what appears to taste like thousand island dressing that they call house sauce. This burger makes it to number five on this list because, although the beef tastes amazingly juicy, the rest of the burger looks rather dull. The lettuce especially gives it a “cheap” look, reducing the overall experience. Honestly, with beef this juicy and full of savory goodness, they can do away with the lettuce, and the burger would look so much better. The price of this burger varies based on the location, but the burger in Downtown LA costs $12.50.

4. Slater’s 50/50‘s Cubano

The empire continues to grow! Now sporting seven locations, the Slater’s 50/50 collective has since expanded outward from its original location in Orange County, with spots now in Rancho Cucamonga and San Marcos. Any Southern Californian local will have heard of Slater’s 50/50, while out-of-towners will want to visit any Slater’s 50/50 location for their namesake, the 50/50 burger – a burger patty consisting of 50% beef and 50% ground bacon. While they sell their trademark 50/50 patty the most, they still sport a large menu of other great items. Their menu claims that they have the “World’s Greater Turkey Burger,” a bold proclamation since typically turkey burgers never quite match up to that of beef or even pork burger patties. I advise you to keep an open mind for their October burger-of-the-month, The Cubano. Slater’s 50/50 builds this massive burger-sandwich hybrid starting with their 2/3 lbs turkey patty, which they top with Swiss cheese, carnitas-style pork, pickled red onions, banana rum mustard, and mint leaves, all on toasted sourdough bread with a side of sliced pickles. Basically, you will receive a panini-style Cuban sandwich with some twists. The mint leaves especially stand out, providing a distinct tease with each bite. For a craft beer pairing, stick with the middle ground, nothing strong or light, such as a pale ale, amber ale, or brown ale. The Cubano makes it to number four on this list because of a few issues. Glaringly, I cannot say that I approve of the bread choice. Sourdough itself bears a flavor that one must savor on its own, so in this sandwich, it would sometimes lose its sourdough flavor with center bites, or overpower the sandwich with edge bites. The choice to toast the bread also brings out two problems: the crunchiness may harm those with sensitive gums, and the bread gets soggy if the cooks do not layer the ingredients correctly, which will happen more often than not. For a burger list, I rarely feature a non-beef patty, as I simply prefer a beef patty unless the patty truly glorifies the burger, such as a chorizo patty. If you seek a Cuban sandwich on an actual burger…

3. Grill ‘Em All‘s Midnight A.K.A. The Konnan

Music truly does hold the title of the most universal language. Lyrics aside, once you have the instrumentals, you can capture an audience from any corner of the globe. From Kawaii metal to fart metal, music resonates well with any individual, even if the music physically assaults anyone listening to it. Much like with music, certain foods gain positive reception around the world. While we can find common foods like burgers and pizza in nearly every country, certain styles also carry over quite well. For example, the typical Cuban sandwich consists of ham, carnitas-style pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles. Modifications heavily exist to this, as proved by Grill ‘Em All. Consistently shattering culinary perceptions, Grill ‘Em All knows that keeping with traditions will only keep them in the past. For that reason, they think progressively by reinventing stereotypical foods into amalgams of frenzied burgers that look like they took a spin in a mosh pit or two. For the month of October, Grill ‘Em All reimagines the classic Cuban sandwich into their burger-of-the-month, The Midnight A.K.A. The Konnan. Named after a Cuban professional wrestler, The Midnight takes its name from Medianoche, Spanish for midnight, which also refers to the type of sandwich. Unlike standard Cuban sandwiches, The Midnight follows in the footsteps of the Medianoche by utilizing a Hawaiian bun as the sweet bread. Following that, we have a half-pound burger with black forest ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, dijon mustard, pickles, and whole-grain aioli. The resulting burger tastes like a traditional Medianoche sandwich, but with the added surge of the beef patty. This burger pairs very well with the Iron Maiden Trooper ale that they have on tap here! Do keep in mind that you can only obtain this burger this month only, which explains why this burger only makes it to number three on this list.

2. Dolce Bistro & Bakery‘s Not So Classic Burger

Who can resist a cute little sweet treat? Nobody can deny that dessert tends to come across the minds of everybody at least once a day, especially around mealtime. In recent years, bakeries have soared in popularity, whether they make baked goods, cupcakes, pastries, or whatever. When locally famous Porto’s Bakery announced plans to open in Orange County, the entire county clamored in excitement as a testament to the people’s love of sweets. Plenty other bakeries have had to up their game to make them stand out in the crowd, aside from harsh marketing. Up in Montclair, Dolce Bistro & Bakery upped their game by expanding their bakery into a café and restaurant. Tucked away past the Montclair Plaza shopping center, Dolce Bistro & Bakery essentially combines two of my favorite things into one place: a gastropub and a bakery. On one side, you have the bakery where they dole out cronuts, macarons, cupcakes, cookies, and more. On the other side, you have a full-service restaurant representative of today’s typical gastropubs. Aside from their rotating list of craft beers, Dolce Bistro & Bakery deploys a menu that both sounds and tastes delicious. A handful of the menu items gives off an Asian-fusion vibe, but when you look at their burgers, none stand out quite as much as the Not So Classic Burger. While you may expect a meal, the combination of roasted tomatoes, red onion marmalade, Fontina cheese, aioli, and bacon jam will trick your mind into treating this like dessert, what with this sweet lineup of ingredients. A bakery that also serves a sweet burger? Who could have seen that coming? For those bold enough to attempt to pair a craft beer with this, very few beers can stand up to the intensity of this burger. If they have it, go with a stout, Belgian (tripel), or barleywine, as you need that extra strength to stand toe-to-toe with this burger.

1. Stout Burgers & Beer‘s Stout Burger

When determining the desirability of a business, consumers will often research the longevity of a business. If a business has remained open for at least a handful of years, then you can tell that they have endured the hardships of the first couple of years in business, the period where the entrepreneurs hope to break even with their investment. For many years, I have searched for the best of foods that I can find, asking numerous colleagues and strangers everywhere I travel. During those years, a sole burger restaurant has remained at the top of my to-do list that I have never thought to visit. One day, I told myself: I would finally muster up the courage to make the trek up to Stout Burgers & Beers. Located smack dab in the middle of Hollywood, this gastropub does not beat around the bush, and they follow exactly what their name indicates: burgers and beers. They picked one thing to do, and they do it right – I cannot ask for anything more. Here at Stout, they ground the beef in-house daily, so you can expect a fresh burger every single time you visit. Though their menu contains a handful of choices, I encourage everyone to immediately look at their namesake, the Stout Burger. This burger features such a diverse cast of ingredients that all contribute to the greater picture, a picture of a thousand colors. With blue cheese crumbles, Gruyère cheese, rosemary bacon, caramelized onions, horseradish cream, and roasted tomatoes, each ingredient delivers something different to the palate. From the ingredients alone, you get a sour, nutty, salty, sweet, bitter, and tart, respectively. Oh, and this burger patty? It rivals that of Umami Burger. Yes, I said it. People know how much I swear by Umami Burger, but wow do the folks at Stout know how to prepare a burger. At least I can drive to Umami Burger in less than ten minutes from my place, as opposed to Stout where I have to drive about 45 minutes to get there, then pay for parking. I struggle to find free parking anywhere near Stout, which prevents me from visiting them more often whenever I find myself near Hollywood. Perhaps this represents a sign that I must not overindulge in Stout, and that I should consider it an occasional treat. But please, do not put off visiting Stout like I did for many years – you ought to go very soon to devour one of the best burgers you will ever lay your hands on!

Times change, a fact that nobody can deny. People must learn to adapt and keep up with changes, or fall behind in life. For that reason, the Slidebar in Downtown Fullerton has chosen to go in a brand new direction by redesigning their entire menu, both culinary and libations. The Slidebar has brought on Chef Oge Dalken, locally known from his work at Chapter One in Santa Ana, to cultivate a menu driven on local ingredients, a move that many gastropubs around the world have already made. This new menu will contain a handful of gastropub staples fused with traditional bar food, such as Duck Confit Nachos, Candied Bacon Cheddar Cheese Popcorn, Korean Tacos, and Mini Kobe Dogs. In addition to this brand new menu, the Slidebar will start to carry a greater variety of craft beers from local breweries, both in bottles and on draft.

I received an opportunity to attend a beer-pairing menu preview last week, so along with my camera, an empty stomach, and a punk anarchic outlook, I set off to the Slidebar to give them a chance to prove that they have what it takes to turn into a meal destination. Our menu tasting included the following items, plus the craft beer pairing:

  • Ahi Slider: seared sesame-encrusted Ahi, Asian slaw, pickled ginger, wasabi mayo. Pair w/ Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Belgian IPA
  • Coney Dog: all-beef hot dog, Coney Island chili, tobacco onions, mustard. Pair w/ Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA
  • Mac N’ Cheese: cheddar & fontina cheese, mixed bacon relish, truffle oil, toasted parmesan cheese, panko bread crumb gratin. Pair w/ Chimay Trappist Ale
  • Chicken & Waffles: potato waffle, spicy herb panko-crusted fried chicken breast, chicken & mushroom gravy, fried leeks. Pair w/ Noble Ale Pistol Whip’d
  • Coulotte Steak: choice top sirloin cap, coffee & unsweetened cocoa powder rub, bacon-wrapped, beef demi, sun-dried bing cherries, stilton cheese, dijon mashed potatoes. Pair w/ Golden Road Get Up Off That Brown Ale
  • Banana Bread Beer Float: Wells Banana Bread Beer, French vanilla ice cream, fried plantain

Through all these radical changes to the offerings at the Slidebar, can this win over a new crowd? Can this retain the old crowd? Historically, Slidebar has received the reputation at the “frat boy” hangout spot, and lends primarily to the stereotype behind Downtown Fullerton. I never thought to come here on my own volition due to encounters with “bros” here, and the Kelly Thomas incident left a foul taste the mouths of many locals. Due to my connection to the Orange County punk scene, I still hear people boycotting the Slidebar to this day, three years later. The Slidebar has done all they can to separate themselves from that unforgettable night, and it sucks when unwanted trouble stumbles upon your doorstep. Believe me, a similar situation occurred over 20 years ago to a business belonging to a family member, and many people still boycott that business to this day. Do you think Slidebar now has the right resources to leave their past behind and forge new grounds with this menu redesign? Head on in to Slidebar, order some of the new food, and post in the comments section below letting me know what you think.

The Belmont Shore area of Long Beach does not forgive any entrepreneur who cannot maintain their commercial composure for at least a year. Businesses come and go from that area rather quickly, punishing those who do not understand the local populace while rewarding those who do. Location typically plays a key role in the success of businesses in this area, favoring the center more than businesses at the ends of 2nd Street. While I cannot speak much about the doomed spot known as 5376 E 2nd St, the real estate in the center of 2nd Street sees tons of foot traffic, so will bear a greater chance to succeed past the first year. However, location can only mean so much if the entrepreneur understands how to handle it, and the entrepreneurs behind Shore Public House have landed a great location that they will need to struggle to hold on to.

Having just launched last Thursday, Shore Public House brings yet another gastropub presence to Belmont Shore, joining the ranks of Tavern On 2 and Simmzy’s. Taking over the old BJ’s Restaurant space, Shore Public House comes to us from one of the management teams behind some restaurants over on Pine Avenue in Downtown Long Beach – which restaurants, I do not recall at the moment. As a gastropub, they do nothing new to reinvent the dining experience – in fact, their menu looks like a menu found at every trendy restaurant out there. I believe they still operate under a soft opening, while their staff claim that they have officially opened for business and not once ever mentioned a soft opening. This comes off as a shame, because once any business leaves the soft opening stage for full operations, that indicates that they have solved all of their operations issues. Unfortunately, Shore Public House has no idea how to deal with this neighborhood compared to Downtown.

Littered with problems, Shore Public House has far too many improvements to make that will severely impede their progress during their first year in business.

  • Lack of social media interaction: With today’s advance technology, all businesses must utilize social media to not only stay relevant, but to interact with their followers. Creating daily posts should go without saying, but businesses must also interact with their followers. When followers communicate with a business, that business should respond in a timely manner, which Shore Public House fails to do. Their menu clearly has a section labeled Happy Hour, but nowhere on their website, menu, or Facebook does it mention the time of Happy Hour. I posted on their Facebook page asking about Happy Hour, and to this day, not one person has responded to me.
  • Hours not posted: Following up on the last point, businesses need to clearly define when customers may come in for certain purposes. For example, Murphy’s clearly states that they have Happy Hour 4pm-7pm Monday through Friday, and on Wednesday from 7pm to closing, all 12oz beers cost $3.50. Only when approached in person and inquired about it did I discover that Shore Public House has a “drinks only” hour from 4pm to 5pm, Happy Hour from 5pm to 6pm, and then dinner starts afterwards.
  • Queues not prioritized: In other words, someone who arrived after you may receive their order before you. I arrived right at 5pm, and did not get a server to order from until 5:15, when I only wanted two appetizers. A party of four sat adjacent to me ten minutes after I had ordered, and they ordered their appetizers within five minutes of sitting down. By 5:40, they had all received their appetizers and drinks. In the meantime, I had yet to see my original server, and a different server brought me chips and a paltry serving of salsa, which went dry after four chips. I did not receive my first appetizer until just after 5:50, a full 35 minutes after I had placed my order. Only after I received this first appetizer did my original server come back to ask if I needed anything else, aside from faster service. My second appetizer arrived 15 minutes later, a full 50 minutes after I had placed my order.
  • Inexperienced servers: Drawing from the last point, a server did not notice me until 15 minutes after I had sat down. After ordering, I did not see my server again until after someone else brought me my first appetizer 35 minutes later. As an industry standard, servers need to occasionally check in with their tables to acknowledge their presence. I also cannot stand the fake politeness of the servers here, who all look like they learned at Disneyland how to fake a smile. A pub environment like this allows servers to act more friendly and casual towards the customers – leave the formalities to the fine-dining restaurants.
  • Low food quality for the price: This may sound opinionated, but multiple voices all agree that the food here definitely needs some work, as it all tastes like club food. The menu takes advantage of trendy foods by attempting to modify an ingredient or two, then inflating the prices to that of fine-dining prices. Can you believe that five cubes of Kale Fritters, each the width of my thumb, cost $5.50?! Three pieces of Baby Back Ribs, which taste like they boiled them then spooned on some store-bought barbecue sauce, cost $7. A basic ice cream cookie sandwich costs $7 that you can make at home for less than $2. Add everything up, and you have club food at upscale restaurant prices.

I hope the management team behind Shore Public House reads this, because they need this wakeup call. They need to forget everything they knew about the restaurant industry because the Downtown scene has no relation to the Belmont Shore scene. Just because they have successful restaurants elsewhere does not mean that they can ride the bus across town and hope to succeed in a new environment. Belmont Shore does not forgive any business that does not have their act together, nor fits in with the local community. If I had the final say, I would fire everyone and rehire a brand new set of staff, because the current team will cause the restaurant to fail by the end of this year. The front-of-house need more experience, and the back-of-house needs way more experience. If they have a head chef, that chef needs to take some time off work and go train in another country to learn more culinary techniques. If they do not have a head chef, then I do not want to ride this train without a conductor. Sorry Shore Public House – I wanted to give you a chance and come back for more, and I usually cut new restaurants some slack, but after a first visit this horrific, I can safely cross you off my list.