Food Observations

A blog for eaters

Archive for the month “July, 2022”

Hacienda Casa Blanca

Excellent “Tres Enchiladas” at HCB in El Cajon! Part of their house specialties, it includes one cheese enchilada with red sauce, one chicken enchilada a la crema, and one chicken enchilada suiza.

BJ’s Brewhouse

Outstanding “Gourmet Five Meat Deep Dish” at BJ’s in Esco! The pizza was too small to discern if all five meats were represented but it was tasty nonetheless.

Vibes Sushi Bar & Grill

The new Vibes Sushi has been open for a while now so I went in to try them out. The menu is surprisingly comprehensive. Two pages of creative looking rolls, lunch specials, appetizers, various hot dishes and whatnot. There were only two draft beer options, but that’s better than nothing. The restaurant itself was clean, modern and very comfortable inside. It has been redecorated and painted so it looks quite different from the previous sushi proprietor. The staff and servers all seemed professional and dialed in. Good service experience. The only negative was plastic forks! And not even high quality ones. If you’re not a chopstick pro, you can request a cheap plastic fork. 

I ordered the Beef Teriyaki Bowl. Includes mushrooms and broccoli. I omitted the mushrooms, however there was no broccoli either. Not sure why. It was a good serving and very filling but it was served in such a huge bowl it looked disproportionate. The teriyaki glaze was excellent. I opted for the chicken fried rice which was tasty although contained way too many peas and carrots. Overall a decent dish but the execution was fairly pedestrian. We also shared a California Roll as an appetizer. It was beautifully plated and probably one of the best tasting CA Rolls I’ve eaten. I did have to ask for wasabi though which is something I’ve never had to do.

Los Amigos

Decent #1 combination plate (taco & enchilada) at Los Amigos in San Diego Country Estates. This place suffers from questionable quality more often than not. However, their tacos are usually always legit. Unfortunately this time the entire bottom was split wide open! Definitely made this one tricky and messy to eat.

Casa de Bandini

Excellent Chile Colorado at Casa de Bandini in Carlsbad! Formerly located in Old Town, San Diego, this second generation Casa de Bandini Mexican Restaurant is the essence of Mexican culture. Authentic food, great mariachi, house-made tortillas, huge margaritas all in a beautiful setting depicting Colonial Mexico.

Pinto Thai

I’ve always said that Asian food makes the best takeout! Outstanding Thai Fried Rice and Pad Thai from Pinto Thai in Ramona.

The Par Lounge and Deck

The new “expanded” menu at The Par Lounge is really exciting! Now offered Tuesday – Sunday. There are many of the favorites from back in the day like their legendary Cobb salad, calamari, etc. Tucked on page 2 though you’ll find a thoughtful selection of new entrees, served after 5:00 pm. Now, I typically stick to reviewing just the foodstuffs but I need to branch out a bit. I have to say the live music last night was terrific! Local singer-songwriter, Ashley E. Norton performed and is scheduled again on the 15th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. She is incredibly talented, that I can tell you. I recommend you keep an eye on their events calendar for future bookings.

 

I truly enjoyed the “Steak Diane”. This is such a classic and elegant dish that dates back to the 1930’s. The adaptation here consists of sous vide sirloin medallions, mushroom cognac sauce, includes whipped taters and roasted asparagus. The sauce here was robustly flavored, yet perfectly balanced. The steak medallions were tender and cooked nicely to my desired doneness. The accompanying veg was artfully presented and tasted very good. Gail had the “S&S” (pictured below). I did a double-take when I first saw that menu title but I digress. It is simply, steak & shrimp and it’s executed flawlessly. Hand-cut 12oz striploin steak, pan seared shrimp and an excellent garlic herb butter sauce. There was so much of that butter sauce and it was SO good that it would have been nice to have had some bread on the side for sopping. 

 

“Chicken Piccata” is my middle name so I was all over that one. The chef’s version here is somewhat unorthodox but is quite delicious. Made with orecchiette pasta which is roughly the size of a little ear (hence the translation in Italian). It consists of the traditional white wine, butter, lemon sauce which was all harmoniously balanced. Not over the top lemony. The toasted onion breadcrumb on top was a nice touch and added a pleasing mouthfeel to the dish. Chicken was perfectly pan seared, tender, juicy and flavorful. Thicker cut though than a typical piccata. I am definitely looking forward to my next visit where I plan to try some of their other new dishes, like the Chicken Marsala or Blackened Salmon. Based on the menu description, there is a lot going on with that salmon!

Black Angus

Excellent “Grilled Fresh Salmon” at Black Angus in Esco!

Cheesecake Factory

Outstanding “Crusted Chicken Romano” at CKF

Charm Thai Kitchen

Outstanding “Charm Thai Fried Rice” at CTK in Rancho Bernardo! A house fried rice with three succulent meats; beef, chicken and pork. Includes onion, tomato, Chinese broccoli, egg and garnished with cucumber, lime and cilantro.

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