This post really underlines why I like to make multiple visits to places when possible. It's not always practical. But if a place shows promise, I try to visit more than once if possible. Iron Pig is a good example, though sometimes it takes a while.
Back in November, Iron Pig Alehouse opened in PB; you can read Kirbie's post on the place. soon after opening, I visited with a friend of mine.....
And while the service was nice and the beer selection decent; I thought the meal left a lot to be desired.
From the nicely flavored but rubbery skinned smoked wings, to the baby backs with a decent rub, but quite dry and mealy texture, to the mushy brisket. The sauce seemed what my friends would call "competition sauce".....tasting like a doctored up base. Not bad mind you, just quite generic.
And yet, there seemed some potential here; the flavor of the wings were quite good........
So it took me six months to convince my biggest BBQ critic, the Missus ("your rubs is too bitter"...."the ribs you made are too dry"......."that pork butt needs to be smoked a bit longer") to check out Iron Pig. And we're glad we did.
Take a look at this version of the smoked wings ($9.99).
Nice and crisp, smoky, perhaps edging on being too salty, but I'll never complain about anything being too smoky. The wings were also moist and tender....just about perfect for us.
Of course the Missus "needed" a salad....sigh.....but, She made the right choice in ordering the "Man Salad" ($12.99).
Our Server/bartender was awesome.....she actually warned us that the "salad has French fries on it....and some folks take exception to that!" Really? It's ok to have fries in the burrito, but not in a salad? This was a huge salad. The blue cheese, brisket (much better than previously encountered), and arugula worked really well for us.
The only item we both didn't care for were the rib tips. I'm a big rib tip fan....I love maneuvering around the chewy cartilage, through all that rich fatty tissue, and the burnt crust for that perfect bite. This was too mushy, mild, and frankly ruined by all that sauce. You really didn't get the joy of having a nice rib tip. Perhaps I'm in the minority, but crunchy, crusty, fatty, rib tips just do well on their own with sauce on the side.
Overall, we had a nice meal. The service was very friendly....actually, I wish I got the name of our bartender/server. She was awesome. I'm sure we'll be back...especially since most draft beers are half price during Happy Hour. I need to have those wings again.....just to see....which version is the norm.
Iron Pig Alehouse 1520 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109
Thanks for stopping to read mmm-yoso!!! today. Kirk is out and about, enjoying the beautiful countryside. Ed(from Yuma) is out and about enjoying the Yuma countryside. Cathy is here, blogging and noticing the sky out the window.
Phils BBQ. On weekends, lines form and snake outside the door at each of their (currently) three locations from 11 a.m. into the evening. Visitors from back East mention Phil's as one of their 'musts' when asked where they would like to eat...They've heard of it. Even Ed(from Yuma) and a friend have stopped at Phil's to enjoy a meal. These rare (both because of no line and there was rain) photos were taken in January on a Monday, because 'back then', Phils was closed on Mondays, but now Phil's is open an extra 52 days a year.Really. Mondays.That's the whole menu. You should be able to order quickly and efficiently when you get to the front of the line, yet many people seem overwhelmed. Hence, the line moves slowly.Many people just call in 'To Go' orders and get in and out quickly. We like to sit and eat inside.There is much visual and auditory stimulation. Mentioning that beer is available here is redundant. Beer is San Diego. Other beverages and to-go containers are self serve and self explanatory.Any condiment you might need is on every table.
On to the food!
While not open pit smoked/authentic BBQ, the food here is very good. With the constant influx of customers, every item is fresh.Starting with the only item I order, the 'Beefy Rib Tickler'($8.95). One BBQ'd beef rib bone with 2 onion rings, cole slaw and fries. Your choice of BBQ sauce on top or on the side.
The beef rib is (as always) from a cow and therefore very large, meaty. It is falloff the bone perfectly cooked after being seasoned with a dry rub and good by itself or dipped in the sauce. The fries and onion rings are perfectly fried/not greasy and the cole slaw recipe here is one of my favorites; crispy and a bit tangy. This plate is perfection and, really, after trying the entire menu, my only choice.However, I digress. For those times (or guests) wanting something lighter, you can choose a small or large salad ($2.95/$4/95) and for an additional $3, top it with seasoned BBQ chicken. (The option of a small/large Caesar salad is $3.95/$5.95)(The amount of chicken for $3 is the same on either size salad).There are small ($1.75) and large sides($3) available. Above, a small side of sweet baked beans, another version that I enjoy because it is both sweet and tangy. Other small sides are cole slaw, fries, potato salad and macaroni salad. Large sides include all of those plus steamed veggies, a baked potato and corn on the cob.One item most people seem to order here is the "BBQ Broham sandwich"($6.95), seasoned and then char-grilled pulled pork on a toasted bun served one top of (or placed on the side, as above) cole slaw.For those who prefer pork ribs, the "Baby Back Ribs Tickler" ($6.95) is a good choice. Three baby backpork ribs, parboiled then grilled (using the same dry rub as on the beef ribs) and served with 2 rings, fries and coleslaw.
Sauce on the side for me! A unique (sweet, tangy and peppery) sauce and to fully appreciate, I think tasting the meat first, then the sauce by itself, then the meat with the sauce is the only way to appreciate sauces (and salsas).There is no need to run to the restroom or deal with disposable wipes to clean up when you are finished eating...
mmm-yoso!!! is a blog where you can enjoy a brief respite from the humdrum of your home or office or computer. Kirk is on a sojourn, Ed (from Yuma) is roosting (in Yuma) and Cathy is lingering at various places around the county.
Another meal enjoyed during our quest to go to restaurants as old or older than us led us close to home, on Fletcher Parkway in El Cajon. Family owned since 1947, the Barbecue Pit has a fascinating history having had more than 12 locations around the County, but currently only two remain. Kirk posted on a former location, which is now owned by a former employee and has maintained the same menu, way of preparing the meat, interior decor and legacy of long time neighborhood patrons. The location I'm writing of is basically kitty corner from Beef 'n Bun.
This is not a smokey flavored barbecue: it is a pit barbecue method of preparation, using an above ground sealed pit/oven with (oak) wood heat that basically cooks 'slow and low'(air quality concerns), the same as many differentbarbacoa, and mixed use barbacoa style Mexican barbacoa de Borrego restaurants around town.When you walk in, you are greeted by a specials board and you walk forward to order (the regular menu is on the wall above the ordering area and can be seen here.)You can see the sandwich buns being toasted, beef and pork under the heat lamp waiting to be sliced and warming area for other meats, along with the ubiquitous plastic and divided plates next to the stack of cafeteria trays.Probably the most fascinating aspect of this old style eatery is the condiment bar, which you can use to fulfill your most craveable personalizations.The interior is neat, clean, simply decorated with a small area of memorabilia above the refrigerated cream pie selection. (See the menu on the wall above to the right?)Our simple meal consisted of the specials noted on the white board as we walked in; one as a meal with two sides (bbq'd/smokey tasty baked beans and coleslaw)(both excellent) ($8.49) as well the sandwich with a bowl of the daily made pea soup (made with leftover ham, which is always great here)($5.49) and a slice of coconut cream pie (99¢).
The pulled pork/chopped beef is mixed with the house made sauce, which is a bit sweet with some tang and has clove as part of the multiple spices. To balance the flavor to my preference, I utilize the condiment bar and put pickles and onions on the sandwich. About halfway through, I also add slaw to the sandwich so the second half is a bit different flavored than the first.
All in all, another comforting meal.
The Barbeque Pit 2388 Fletcher Parkway El Cajon 92020 (619) 462-5434 Open M-Sat 10:30a.m.-9 p.m. Website
I've often mentioned what a great bunch of friends I have. We all get along and always have great time. These guys are up for anything; like the "Amazing Graze" and our Porcine Party. Sadly, I haven't been to help plan or attend many of the recent events, work has kept me busy over the last year or so. So when one of our gang said she wanted to do karaoke for her birthday, it was naturally a "yes, of course." But there was a catch, she also wanted a whole roast pig as well! Not a big deal, right? I mean, I see folks dragging swine into karaoke rooms all the time....yeah, right? Anyway, it was easy enough to get the assignments done; YummyYummy with her connections and persuasive manner would talk the place into letting us bring an entire hog into one of their rooms, I swing the swine, and the rest would be gravy, or is that sauce.
Anyway, after polling some of my acquaintances, and my "Filipino Mom's" in the office next door to us, one porker rendered its way to the top, Porky's Lechon. Now, I gotta say, based on my visits and meals at the place this was a major leap of faith. But I gotta say, this was a very moist fifty pounder.
In case you don't believe that we actually brought a whole pig into a karaoke room, here's "Xiang Jiao" doing the honors as the disco lights dance around it's roasted body...... To paraphrase the lyrics on the screen...."This pork has taken its toll on me......"
Thanks to JohnL for sacrificing his van to transport said swine.....I hope it doesn't still smell like pork heaven. Big thanks also to TFD and MrC for getting the Hen Xuc Banh Trang and baking the cake, and of course "YY" and Quanito for coordinating the room.
Thanksgiving in August:
Recently "XJ", "YY", and their family moved into new digs. they've been wanting to do sort of a house-warming type of thing. "XJ" had also gotten a Weber Smokey Mountain...she's really BBQ Grrrrl I guess, and wanted to put it into service. So I brought my WSM over and we did a little BBQ kinda thing for the gang.
Of course BBQ takes a while and needed our strength, so their mom was nice enough to make us a delicious breakfast.
We timed things pretty well and everything was ready by 2pm as we had planned.....tri-tip, salmon, ribs....
And a whole lot more.....charcuterie and cheese board, TFD's mom made a delicious pork and jackfruit salad, roasted vegetables, salad, and of course dessert.
Around the time we were setting up, someone said "this is like Thanksgiving, but better!" And so it came to pass, Thanksgiving in August. I think we'll make this a tradition. A pretty good idea, don't you think?
Nothing like the power of pork to bring people together!
Back in September, I shuddered at the thought of what a place with "SD BBQ" in its name was going to make. Well, it turns out I was wrong.......LW's, which opened a couple of months back in the old (and tired) Chinese Garden spot, does BBQ....not something par baked or boiled then slapped over some mesquite and sauced......well, for you hard core BBQ folks, you won't see an ash pile out back....I don't think the owners of the strip mall would take too kindly to that.
Still they actually smoke over hardwood and could easily be the best restaurant within a half mile radius....
OK, before you get to excited, let's hold on there Jethro! There's a couple of things you need to understand, the competition in the area are places like Hometown Buffet, Roberto's, Mountain Mike's Pizza...it's Bay Park, not North Park.
They claim to smoke over hickory....for up to 14 hours. Personally, find that Hickory is a bit too strong to use for some proteins, too much of it can give off a bitter flavor, so I wasn't sold.
I'm also not a fan of the sauces here, kind of powdery, on the bitter side, even though there are 6 varieties all taste like they were made from the same base. The fact that they refuse to serve anything without sauce on it kind of makes me think they may have problems holding their product. When I asked why, I wasn't given an answer.
Still, it's in my neighborhood.......
I first visited when they first opened and decided to get a Beef Brisket Plate ($13.50), no it ain't cheap, but the portion size is generous.
Since I couldn't get this without the sauce, I asked them to go easy. Decent smoke flavor, the beef was a bit too fatty, though this wasn't bad at all. I'd like a bit more bark, but there was a nice smoke ring.
The sides were mediocre, mass produced rolls, bland coleslaw, the beans being the best of the bunch.
Overall, ok......not terrible, there was some potential here.
The same week I smoked a tri-tip, I decided to try the Beef Tri-Tip Sandwich Combo ($8.95).
No, this won't make forget Firestone Grill, but the flavor of the beef was decent (I'm glad they went real easy on the sauce), the beef adequately moist though on the chewy side. It was served a bit too cold (especially with sauce on it) for me.
The potato salad was decent, it had some nice flavor, perhaps a bit too sour and I didn't care for the vegetable mix in the coleslaw.
One night, after getting off from work late, the Missus having already eaten, I decided to drop by and grab a half rack of ribs to go ($15.95). I quietly asked the young man working the counter if I could get it with the sauce on the side....I was pleasantly surprised when he said, "no problem"...... And then I got home.
A bit too "falling off the bone" for me...though the Missus loved it. I ate one piece and that was enough, decent smoke flavor but a bit on the dry side, and too much sauce. I also noticed that it looks like they didn't remove the membrane from the back of the ribs.
Strange thing was, that during this visit I was told that the owner's were from North Carolina....funny, but the sauces didn't seem like any Carolina style sauce I've had. I tried all of them, from the bottles on the table and they are all too sweet for that style. The "KC" style sauce here would make Arthur Bryant roll over in his grave....take my word for it; I've been there.
My most recent visit was a couple of weeks ago.
It was nice to see the place doing some pretty good business.
I went with a Pulled Pork Sandwich which was nicely priced at $6.25.
Tired of begging for no sauce, I just asked them to go easy, which they thankfully did. This was a decent sandwich, though nothing special; the pork was quite cold and a bit tougher than I like, but this wasn't bad. The coleslaw added a nice textural counter-point and being on the mild side, didn't interfere with the flavor of the pork.
I did make one mistake....curious, I ordered the Chicken Wings (6 pieces - $6.95).
Rubbery skin, bitter smoke flavor, lacking in seasoning....'nuff said. I ate two and pitched it...I hate to waste food, but this was terrible.
The folks here are nice, though sometimes a bit confused. I'm glad places like this are finally opening in this area. Though I'm not a "just happy to have something like xxx in my neighborhood" kind of guy. In terms of portion versus price, I think it's a good value. Is it good BBQ? check them out and let me know what you think..........
LW’s SD BBQ 3057 Clairemont Dr San Diego, CA 92117
It's old Ed (from Yuma) drinking some old wine and standing in a long SD line. Cathy and Kirk will be posting here again soon.
My old buddy Steve had a couple of days free in San Diego recently, so I drove over for some conversation and food . . . and wine. Steve had brought a bottle of 1992 Caparone Cabernet Sauvignon, Bien Nacido Vineyard. "It's 21 years old," I said, "old enough to drink.":
We had been out walking around Mission Beach and Mission Bay earlier on Sunday, but we wanted to watch the last half of the Chargers/Cowboys back at the motel. That way, we could relax and sample that well aged California Cabernet.
As it turned out, the wine was smooth and still flavorful, and the Chargers game was way better than expected, San Diego scoring 17 points in the 2nd half and winning 30-21. When the game was over, Steve and I were very hungry, but neither of us felt like driving around looking for dinner. Since we each had a room at what I call "The Exploding Motel", the 2 main restaurants within easy walking distance were a Red Lobster and Phil's BBQ, so we arrived at Phil’s around 5:30:
I assumed there would be no line – after all, we were dining early on a Sunday, but half of Qualcomm Stadium must have descended on Phil that late afternoon. Many in the line that extended from the entrance over to and around the corner and then along the side were wearing Cowboys or Chargers gear. Steve and I waited for almost 30 min. before we came up to the sign telling us we had only around 21 more minutes to wait. And all of that waiting only led to placing an order at the counter; at that point, we were given a plate with silverware, cleanup wipes, and a pager so that we could grab our food when it's ready:
After this nearly hour-long process, I hoped the food would be worth it.
I am not a barbecue purist or fanatic. I grew up in southern Oregon, not southern Tennessee, and I was an adult before I ever experienced slow cooked fully smoked pit barbecue. I’d heard enough about Phil’s to know that it’s ‘cue for the masses, not connoisseurs. I was okay with that, really.
The first taste I got was a slice of tri-tip from an El Toro sandwich ($6.95). The very tender chargrilled meat had a nice smoky flavor, there was a lot of it, and it was covered in Phil's sauce. In fact it's hard to see that this picture is a photo of a sandwich at all.:
Steve tells me that the onion rings in the photo were really tasty, and if the speed by which they disappeared is any indication, he was right. They were part of a "baby back rib tickler" – 3 ribs, two onion rings, coleslaw, and fresh cut fries ($6.95). Here is the rest of a tickler:
The sides I tried at Phil's BBQ were good. While the french fries were not especially crisp, they had a good clean fresh potato flavor. With a little malt vinegar and some ketchup – a bottle of each is on every table – they were quite tasty. The coleslaw was even better. It was not gooey, runny, sugary, or overdressed in any way. The cabbage and vegetables were crisp and the tangy dressing was a perfect match. Steve tells me that the corn on the cob was also good even though late September is not its prime season.
Unable to make up my mind, I had ordered the "baby back ribs and chicken dinner" ($12.95), pictured here with the large side of corn on the cob and a small extra side of coleslaw.:
I had no complaints about the chicken. It tasted as if it had been roasted over mesquite, and it had not been overcooked. The breast, while not the most flavorful meat, still was moist and slightly smoky. The skin on the chicken quarter was consistently flavorful.
Phil sez "The Sauce is the Boss," as the menu explains, so it covered both and chicken and the ribs. And it is excellent and spicy barbecue sauce. Its vinegar tang balances the sweet notes on the plate and cuts through the richness of the meat.
The ribs themselves, on the other hand, were disappointing. Certainly tender enough, the ribs were also moist with a slight smoky flavor. However, they exhibited the effects of parboiling – the background taste of boiled pork and a soft gray color lightly tanned and dotted with specks and splotches of black:
They looked nothing like the well browned and charred barbecued ribs on the flat screens in the restaurant or the pictures at Phil’s website.
I'm not saying that these ribs were terrible or inedible, but they were mass produced and not individually crafted. They needed the complex sauce to cover over their shortcomings.
I'm also not saying you should avoid Phil's – even considering the long lines, the friendly but minimalist service, and the mundane interior:
Going to Phil's BBQ has become an authentic San Diego experience. The chicken and the side dishes are generally good. The prices are truly excellent. I still marvel at 4 ribs, a quarter of a chicken, and two generous side dishes altogether for $12.95. Phil’s is fine, but seek out real ‘Que elsewhere.
Phil’s BBQ, 3750 Sports Arena Blvd., San Diego, CA 92110, 619-226-6333. Closed on Mondays. Locations also in San Marcos and Santee.
On my way to lunch a couple of days ago, I drove by to see what was happening in the old B.H. Chung spot.
I know, doesn't look like anything, right? A closer look reveals a sign:
Both the Missus and "Xiang Jiao" told me it's going to be a "porridge place". I'm trying not to mentioned the lovely parking lot in this post, but can't help myself....
4646 Convoy St San Diego, CA 92111
What's up with Mr Fish and Chips?:
"Soo" mentioned that a fire closed Mr Fish and Chips in the comments of this post. I believe they were supposed to reopen at the end of June, but the place is still empty. AT least the sign is still up; which is a positive indicator.
This whole strip mall is being renovated and some new structures are being put up as well. I've had some preliminary messages telling me that a Chinese restaurant may be opening in this mall as well.
Mister Fish & Chips 5647 Balboa Ave San Diego, CA 92111
LW's San Diego BBQ:
This sign has been up for a couple of months.
This used to be the location of Chinese Garden, an ABCDE (American Born Chinese Dining Establishment) whose main clientele were folks from the assisted living apartments behind the mall. Not quite sure what "SD BBQ" is...though a picture comes to mind of ribs par baked in foil, then finished over mesquite or something like that.......I'm hoping not, so we'll see.
mmm-yoso!!! is a food blog. Kirk, Ed (from Yuma) and Cathy are busy with everyday things and somehow find a way to document the mealtime portion of their days. Today's blogger, Cathy, is writing about one of her adventures in East County.
I've shared quite a few Grocers and Markets and their eat in the store food areas. This Spring Valley Market has been in business since 1956 on the NorthWest corner of Campo Road at Bancroft in Spring Valley. It never had an eat in area and never has had a deli section, selling prepackaged cold cuts in the store refrigerator.
Right there, on the corner of the parking lot at the intersection is a small building.
Note those two smokers to the left.
You kind of can't miss it. The small building has been here about a year now.
Walk up to the window, and a simple menu is on the White Board. Order, pay and have a seat...or go shopping in the store if you are going to take it to go (more on that later).
When we ordered, we saw one of the workers walking out a cart of ribs to add to one of the specially made very large smokers.
They know their business model and how much meat they will need- to sell inside the store as well as at the BBQ Sandwich Shop.
Our order- 1/2 smoked chicken with fresh made, smokey meaty baked beans and really good, fresh slaw ($6.99) There is an orange colored mustard based sauce that goes with the chicken available with other condiments at the counter; you can see a sliver of the cup at the top. The other item on the right is 1/2 lb of pulled pork ($7/lb)- smokey with a slightly sweet (also house made) sauce.
I apologize for the photos. We sat at one of the two outside tables, which have red umbrellas... In any case, the chicken is perfectly cooked, moist, smokey witha ring and doesn't need the sauce; it's that good.
We do shop here as part of our rotation of markets. The Produce Department is always interesting. You can see part of the wine, beer and liquor selections against the wall in this photo.
This isn't the whole butcher counter, which spans the back of the store. There are pork, and lamb, house made sausages as well as house made chorizo and house made carne asada (wet and dry) and pollo asada.
Prime and Choice beef cuts are for sale too. There's also a poultry counter...
Opposite the meat counter is an area of warm shelves and smoked meats and fish, sold by the pound. (In case you'd rather try some of the smoked items at home)
The seafood counter has high quality selections...wild caught and sustainable.
They make the Ahi Poke here too. It's good.
I mentioned if you didn't want to eat at one of the two outdoor tables, there are options...take a left out of the side parking lot (go North on Bancroft) about 3/4 mile and on your right is Eucalyptus Park.
Given to the County of San Diego on Christmas Day 1929 from Walter S. Lieber...trees here were planted in 1880. For the inspiration and pleasure of the people.
There are picnic tables, slides, swings (old and new) and horseshoe pits and even a working water fountain! It's a nice neighborhood.
Valley Farm Market 9050 Campo Road Spring Valley, CA 91977 (619)463-9595, meat department (619) 463-5723 open 9-9 daily. Sandwich shop (619)303-8343 open 10-7 daily. Website
I know that my timing tends to suck......I have a tendency to do these posts right after the New Year. It's really not on purpose...really. What happens is that I try to close out the previous year and always seem to have some of these "one-off" type photos, so I basically have stuff for a "COMC" (Clearing Out the Memory Card) type of post. So anyway, here's some "stuffs" from the last quarter, of last year.
Carmen's Mexican Food:
A couple of folks have mentioned Carmen's to me and I tell them that I had eaten at Carmen's back when they were located in Linda Vista, across from what is now K Sandwich. I really wasn't impressed with the food, which seemed more Am-Mex, then Mexican. Eventually that whole area was razed and Carmen's was gone. I did feel a twinge of sadness, because even if I didn't care for the place, a lot of folks did. Then a couple of years ago, Babylon Cafe closed down, and Carmen's reopened in that location.
I was still not really motivated to eat there, but more than one person mentioned how good their Carne Asada Fries were. After my post on Yesenia's, I actually received two recommendations for Carmen's. So after a short CAF recovery period, I decided to drop by for lunch.
The crew here was friendly and all the customers seemed to be regulars, talking about kids, vacations to Disney, Disney cruises, relatives, not seeing "so and so" for a while....you know, that kind of stuff. I actually kind of felt like an outsider, but this gave me an understanding of how the place has cultivated a customer base over the years.
Everything was cooked to order so it took a couple of minutes before my Carne Asada Fries were ready.
This really wasn't my cup of tea. First, thought I love my dinner fries, I'm not fond of them in my CAF. Since there's always some guac-crema-salsa action going on, I prefer a higher ration of crispness. Second the guacamole was kind of pasty with no flavor. Third, the carne asada was a lot more tender then it appeared, but was rather tasteless. I'm sure they make their own salsa here, but for some reason it reminded me of Pace Picante. Nothing against Pace, but several decades ago I had a coworker whose second favorite hobby was....how shall I say it...partaking of the "cash crop". We'd go over for beers and would instantly know when he was enjoying himself....he'd be having this concoction of melted Philadelphia Cream Cheese mixed with Pace Picante and chips. Ick......
The rather substantial pool of oil at the bottom of the plate could either be an added treat or not...depending on your point of view.
Still, like I've said many times...there's a big difference between "favorite" and "best" and I understand that. There are many reasons why folks hold a place close to their hearts and the food may not be the main reason(hey, I'm just as guilty). Based on the rapport between the two guys working on this day and the regulars, I'm thinking this is one of those places.
Carmen's Mexican Food 4937 Diane Ave San Diego, CA 92117
Harry D'z BBQ:
During one of the early days of the Morena's Farmer's Market.....having not been back in a while, I'm wondering if it still running? I passed a couple of weeks ago and na-da?? Anyway, it was getting close to evening and I hadn't had lunch and this little stand looked interesting.
Actually, there should be some kind of law against sticking pork in front of a starving man's face.....
So I decided on the pulled pork sandwich, which was a reasonable $6.50.
The pork was quite moist, but I had a hard time believing it was really smoked based on the mild flavor. The sauce was too sticky sweet and what seemed molasses heavy for me......
The Caliente Burger at Tommy's:
I'm not sure what it is about San Diego's Tommy's, but it just doesn't seem to be the same as the Tommy's back in LA...even the one in our old neighborhood. But there I was, standing in line at Sprouts and the two customers in front of me were going on and on about this "new" burger at Tommy's that was "oh so good, but so spicy". Now what kind of bonehead would actually go visit Tommy's after overhearing two women talking about something "oh so good"??? Hello, I'm bonehead, nice to meet you......
The young lady at the counter was really friendly and told me that they top the chili burger with pickled cascabel chilies and chipotle cheddar. She was very nice and even gave me a little tray with some extra chilies in them. Funny, these reminded me of the bottled Del Monte Chilies I used to eat when I was a kid.
The burger was actually better then I had during my last visit, maybe five or so years ago now. The chilies weren't really that hot. I've kind of noticed that the chili at this location is heading into two divergent directions....as it becomes more and more like refried bean glue in texture, the flavor becomes more watered down. Right now it just seems like heartburn fuel.....though I've only had heartburn once in my life(a funny story) and it wasn't from Tommy's
Serves me right to eavesdropping on folks in the grocery line......
Original Tommy's 7415 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92111
So there you go....man, that's more then enough calories and saturated fat...sheesh.
I think I'll go and quietly have my plate lunch in the corner now.
Getting something to eat during long layovers is a necessary evil. Waiting for flights or connecting flights you're often left with a choice of fast-food joints, pre-packaged foods at high mark-ups. Over the last couple of years airports have started featuring more popular local chains and greater variety. And while I'm still convinced that something is lost in the transition (most notably a nasty Superdawg at Midway Airport) it still makes things interesting. Also, for more interesting posts check out Dennis's posts on airport meals.
Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company - Dane County Regional Airport:
In spite of all my trips to Madison, I'd only flown into the local regional airport once. Mainly because I'd be able to justify a rental car if driving from Chicago, which turns out to be a fairly relaxing drive for me. But I quickly banished the thought of driving from Chicago in February.....moi....the guy from Hawaii who lives in San Diego, dealing with the possibility of snow, sleet, ice, or worse? So there I was at the airport at 1230 for a 430pm flight because that's when the airport shuttle ran. I even skipped lunch so I go thru security and looked for something to eat.....and lo' and behold......there was a branch of the Great Dane right in front of me.
I took this as a sign of sorts.......because of scheduling and transportation issues, I hadn't been able to complete my usual rendezvous with deep fried cheese curds on this trip. During my first visit to Madison, I'd had my first dose of those at the Fitchburg location of the Great Dane.
So even though prices were anywhere from $3 - $5 higher then the non-airport locations, how could I ignore the divine placement of the Great Dane, right?
I must say that these were rather disappointing. The curds were quite hard instead of having a nice gooey texture. These were also on the salty side, not anything like versions I'd had previously.
If you've read my previous post on the Great Dane, you realize that this ain't food for the calorie or fat conscious. With that in mind I went all in and ordered the Brat and Bacon Burger....something I also ate before.
Man, this was greasy, even more greasy than expected and I'd had this before! The grease saturated the roll cuasing it to be a mushy mess. The burger was tough and overcooked, though the brat was decent. Not particularly good eats overall.
The Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company Dane County Regional Airport
Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food:
Finding out that we'd be flying through Heathrow an acquaintance of mine told me that Gordon Ramsay had a restaurant in terminal 5. He told me that the place has changed the game with regards to airport food. I was indeed a bit curious....we'd seen the brash and bombastic Ramsay on his Kitchen Nightmare show and really wondered......"he talks a good talk, but does he walk the walk?" Since we had four hour layovers in both directions, we thought we'd try something small on our way to Istanbul, if it showed promise, we'd have more on our way back. This seemed prudent, because the prices ain't cheap folks! Personally, I'm not a big fan of Heathrow for a couple of reasons....the signage sucks, this is coming from a guy who has travelled to five continents. They make you sit around in terminal five, which lacks sufficient seating until anywhere from 1 hour to 30 minutes before your flight. Then you have to find your gates. They make you go through additional checks even though you're connecting and charge a rather exorbitant amount for wi-fi. I will say that I find the British accent and slangquite entertaining though. When the security guy wanted a red head who had just gone through the detector to stop you shouted, "hey, you there, GINGER-Girl, please move about to the side please!" Ginger-girl?
The actually entrance to the restaurant can be hard to find initially, but once down that alleyway, everything opens up to a large, wide-open seating area.
We started with something very basic, the Steamed English asparagus, pan fried duck egg , grain mustard dressing (£8.75 - about $16 US at the time).
This was pretty atrocious for a couple of reasons. First that "pan fried" duck egg was cold, had no taste, and the whites were rubbery. It had the look of "buffet eggs", eggs that were cooked in an egg ring, then placed in a hotel pan over sterno to serve during a lunch or dinner buffet. How do I know? I've made these many times during a previous career. The asparagus was tough and fibrous, the lower, very tough portion should have been peeled. The stalks were also severely under-seasoned and the mustard sauce was also fairly bland. I wonder what Mr Ramsay would have said had he come upon this dish at one of his "nightmare" restaurants? Can't fry an egg to order and trim asparagus?
The Crispy Duck Salad with Watercress, chilli, and ginger (£12.50 - over $20 US at the time) was a bit better.
The duck was flavored nicely, sweet, mild five spice flavor, made in the fashion of Chinese style crispy beef. The watercress was nice, though we found some yellowed leaves at the bottom. Couldn't really make out the ginger flavor, but the dressing was nice and we could have used a tad more of it. Still, I'm not sold that this was a twenty dollar salad, even with the airport mark-up.
In the end, we were glad we started small here and decided to skip it altogether on the return trip.
Gordon Ramsay Plane Food London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5
Cousin's BBQ - Dallas Forth Worth Airport:
In case you're thinking that I hate all airport food, that's really not the case. During another one of my trips I had a four and a half hour layover at DFW airport. Now I kinda like terminal B, wi-fi is free, there's enough interesting shops to keep me occupied, and I enjoyed most of my meal at Cousin's BBQ.
Cousin's is a DFW chain of six restaurants, so I figured if I had a meal in this airport, it should be here. Since this was Texas, I decided on the brisket.
First off, I found the sides to be mediocre; the mashed potatoes bland and the gravy like glue. The coleslaw needed a favor infusion and the Texas toast was like cold, stale, buttered bread. Not a big fan of the runny sauce either.
But I really enjoyed the brisket, which I found to have a nice, though light smoke flavor.
I loved the crisp end piece which had a nice balanced flavor, The meat was tender and moist though not falling to pieces.
I felt totally satisfied after this meal. It was probably the best thing I've eaten in an airport in a long time. If I'm ever here again, I'll probably pass on the sides and do a brisket sandwich or something.
In the end, I'm not expecting great food in an airport, decent food that I feel is worthy of the price will do it for me.
Cousin's BBQ Dallas Fort Worth Airport, Terminal B, Gate 28