Cathy has posted on Arely Bakery several times over the years; the most recent being about a year and a half ago. A few months back I noticed that the tiny shop had expanded, taking over the shop next door.....I'm trying to recall what it was....beauty supplies perhaps?
In need of an early lunch, I decided to drop by and grab a sandwich before a series of conference calls that would take up a good chunk of the day.
You can see the expanded dining room next door as you enter.
The baguette, baked on the premises, was decent, it could have been a bit more crusty and was, in typical San Diego style, a bit more chewy than I prefer. The Black Forest Ham was decent; but the real star of the sandwich was the brie, rind and all, which made this sandwich quite good, earthy tones, very mild pungency (nothing even close to real French Brie, which I believe is still illegal in the US), and very nice in this sandwich. In terms of proportion, I would have enjoyed a bit more tomato and less lettuce.
With the work scenario a couple of weeks later, I decided to call and pick-up the Prosciutto Panini ($8.60), which was wonderfully toasted.
Man, the toasting job on this baby was just about perfect. Didn't care for the prosciutto they used however, as it was extremely salty and paired with a very mild mozzarella it was the dominating flavor through out my eating experience as everything else; the basil and the tomato were just nullified. Too bad, because in terms of texture, this was really good.
Thinking that I had to try a panini again, I went with the Caprese Panini ($8.50).
Bad call on my part as went too far in the other direction with this one. While the tomatoes tasted quite good, the whole thing was a rather bland mess. The bread wasn't as well pressed this time; I'm thinking the cheese didn't hold up real well. In fact, when I separated the two halves there was a giant glob of melted mozzarella.
Last week I decided to drop by one more time. This time ordering the Le Lyonnais ($7.95).
And while I'd prefer lardon/bacon to salami on this, I really enjoyed the sandwich. Nice smear of fairly tasty egg salad, nice crisp greens, acid from the tomatoes and pickles. Very nice overall. I'm still of the same opinion of the bread and even think that a light toasting might make everything that much more enjoyable.
The two young ladies who have run the counter on the days I visited were very nice and friendly; especially with some of the rather "cranky" older customers. One of these days I'll stop by for breakfast, or even perhaps lunch. For now, it's nice to have another sandwich option fairly close by.
Arely French Bakery Cafe 4961 Clairemont Drive, Suite A San Diego, CA 92117
Memory is a funny thing, I can never remember where I park my car, but food? Well sometimes it can be a bit strange. When I read about the NoCal based chain Ike's Place opening in San Diego, the first thing I though was, "didn't Kirbie do a post on this place?" And she had. BTW, Happy 7th Blogaversary Kirbie! And a Happy 10th (sheesh has it been that long?) to "CC".
Anyway, I'd been going back and forth between my office and Hillcrest quite a bit lately, so at the end of February, I decided to check out the brand new Ike's Place.
If memory serves me; wasn't this a location of La Salsa?
It was before 11, an over a week before their grand opening but they were doing some good business. The sandwiches here start at about 8 bucks, but most are $9.99, with a few breaking the $11 barrier; and that's without "add-ons", like avocado; stretching all the way to beer batter zucchini and onion rings. The folks working here are very friendly and helpful since there are so many options on the posted (and some unposted) menu.
I needed to get back to the office so I ordered the "Matt Cain" ($9.99). A version of this sandwich with onion rings on it won ESPN's Fanwich Competition for the Best Sports Sandwich. I'd heard quite a bit about Dutch Crunch Bread, San Francisco's version of Dutch Tiger Bread, named because of the mottling on the exterior of it from a paste based on rice flour.
Getting back to the office I opened up my sandwich, Good lord, it was quite a mess.
The bread had not stood up well during the 15 minute trip back to the office, it had become soggy. Also, I expected the outer crust to be a bit more crisp, but it was kind of soft. Based on the color, perhaps it had not been baked properly? Also, there was just too much "Godfather Sauce", which had too much mayo in ratio to the horseradish and Dijon mustard. This was just a bit too much for me.
I did decide to revisit Ike's Place; to see if eating in and asking that they go easy on the sauce would make for a more enjoyable sandwich.
I wasn't in such a rush this time around and noticed the interesting lay-out. The outside dining area is bright and spacious. The inside dining area looks kind of odd, almost like it was part of the kitchen area once. The path to the kitchen area is simply blocked by a low-boy sandwich refrigerator prep unit.
I will say that this time around, the sandwich I ordered named the Robin Williams ($9.99) was excellent.
The bread was crisp on the exterior, nice and fluffy interior. I was worried about the amount of Dirty Sauce on the sandwich, but it was perfect. Loved the combination of melted pepperjack cheese and mushrooms.
The chicken in the sandwich is chopped which just made the texture perfect. Nice chicken flavor as well. Along with the nice crunch the lettuce brought, I thought this was perfect in terms of proportion and texture, making this a lovely sandwich.
There was one other sandwich (well of possible dozen) that caught my attention on my visit to Ike's Place; the Anchor Man ($9.99), I mean doesn't a fried chicken sandwich sound great? Well, I think based on a couple factors, this was less than great.
First off, I made a mistake by forgetting to tell them to go easy on the sauce and like my first sandwich, all that Dirty Sauce (a garlic aioli) just overwhelmed everything else in the sandwich.
Second, I took a bite and only got veggies. I took another bite and only got veggies. Not a problem per se; if this was a "veggie" sandwich. So I took a look at the other half of my sandwich.
Notice something about the fried chicken? I opened up the half I was eating and saw that the fried chicken took up about two thirds of the width of the bread. Man, look at that mess....
I tried just the chicken alone and was far from impressed as it didn't seemed "fried" in the conventional manner. It seemed more baked.
The answer was in the "Beer Battered Onion Rings" I ordered.
See how dry it looks? Also notice the burnt spots? The batter was gummy and these were dry....so I took a look up front and didn't notice a fryer. The only "cooking" was done with conveyor type pizza ovens. So instead of frying, it seems that these onion rings were cooked via electric/gas/infrared depending on the brand of pizza oven. You might be ok with this but it isn't my cup of tea with regards to onion rings.
So, will I return to Ike's Place? Yes, I might, though I'd be more inclined to visit BFD. In concept, the sandwiches are somewhat interesting, albeit a bit over-hyped; in case you'd like to see summary of 50 of the best sandwiches on the menu you can click here. I'll be a bit more careful with what I order and have to remember to tell them to go easy on the sauce....too much of a good thing and all that. Service was friendly, though my sandwiches did take a while on my visits; you might chalk that up to being new and all that.
Ike’s Place 1010 University Ave, Suite 101 San Diego, CA 92103
The main reason for visiting Granada was The Alhambra of course. This grand Moorish Palace resides on top of a hill overlooking Granada. I had bought tickets well in advance and printed them out in the bookstore the night before. This enabled us to take the "short cut", up Cuesta de Gomerez, which was basically right outside our apartment door.
Right up the street was Puerta de las Granadas and it was a nice short walk to the "Justice Gate", the original entrance to the Alhambra. Because we'd printed out our tickets beforehand, we could use this gate to access the palace. Our designated time for Palacios Nazares was 9am, so we had some time to check out the Alcazaba, a large looming fortress and tower, the oldest part of the Alhambra.
In Arabic, Qa'lat al-Hamra' ("Alhambra") means "red castle" and in the morning light, this structure, which dates back to the 13th century did indeed look like a "red castle". If you wind your way though the passages and walkways, then climb up to the tower, you'll be rewarded with a stunning view, which also highlights the strategic location of the Alcazaba. The view is wonderful and is well worth the climb up the tower........hopefully, it will be a rather clear day and the view will be like this.
You need to get in line for the Palacios Nazaries, the Moorish Royal Palace complex. There are so many features of the palace; like the Courtyard of the Myrtles; basically the central courtyard.
The Mocárabe (Stalactite Work) is amazing as is the symmetry. This is the ceiling of the Grand Hall of the Ambassadors, the wooden ceiling is made up of 8,017 wood inlays and is room itself is a perfect cube.
You could spend hours here just admiring the tile work and visiting places like the Courtyard of the Lions.
And while a sort of fatigue set in; I started looking for random and whimsical features to balance out the perfection of the place, I never got tired of the view. Near the middle top of the photo is the Church of San Nicolás, at the bottom is the Paseo de los Tristes (Walk of the Dead Ones), once the funeral procession route in the city.
We exited the palace and passed through some quaint gardens and then a series of towers. This is the "Torre de los Picos" (Tower of the Points).
After exiting, we headed down Bib Ramblas and ended up where we started.
We then headed to Mercado Agustin, but other than buying some really olive oil were quite underwhelmed....I mean, the jamon here was cut by machine! By this time, we needed a bit of a break. Down the small street next to the market we found this place.
We had intended on just getting some espresso here, but were feeling a bit puckish as well. So the Missus decided we should go ahead and have a Bocadillo as well, which sounded just fine to me. So She had me order a jamon and an anchovy (!) bocadillo. One of the things we really enjoyed about this little shop were the bottles of roasted garlic infused olive oil.....which folks just poured like crazy on their bread.
That Jamon Bocadillo must have been pretty good....because I never even had a shot at it!
The Anchovy version was too fishy-oily-salty for the Missus, but I kinda liked it with the garlic olive oil.
It was nice and briny, man that infused olive oil was good. We quickly learned that it was okay to pour like a gallon of that stuff on your bread. There were some interesting photos in this shop; when I exited the restroom, the older woman sitting at one of the tables pointed to the photo of what looked like the Emperor of Japan on the wall and said something to me in Spanish. Sorry to say I didn't understand.
We really enjoyed this little shop and would return on our way to the train station as we left Granada. Folks here seemed more friendly (and folks in Spain were pretty friendly as a whole) than anywhere else in Spain.
Kirk and Cathy are busy doing important things today. So Ed (from Yuma) is filling in with a post about a new place in Yuma.
Longtime Yumans still identify the space at 2855 S 4th Ave as the location of Hensley's Steakhouse (a.k.a. Hensley's Beef, Beans and Beer). They assure me that the Hensley family owned and operated that successful restaurant for 20 years.
But for the entire time that I have lived in Yuma, this spot's been cursed. It has hosted Mi Playita, TJ’s Marisquero, Viejo Loco, Small Fries, Rusty Spoon, Spanky's Chophouse, The Farmhouse, and probably some others I can't remember. Now it has been reborn as Crouse’s Flat Top Grill:
Inside, the decor is clean and minimalist. There are tables of various sizes and not a lot of decoration on the walls:
There is also a small bar area:
The minimalist ambience with hard flat surfaces means that it gets loud when the tables are full. And because of the food, these days it has been getting loud alot.
For example, just look at this pulled pork dinner:
The bread grilled up crunchy, the beans decent, the battered fries nicely crisp, and the pile of pulled pork magnificent:
The meat tasted every bit as good as it looks in that picture– charred, smoky, rich, with a nice meaty chew.
In fact, it was a pulled pork sandwich on my first visit to Flat Top Grill that convinced me that the kitchen could put out stuff that was seriously wow:
There's a whole lot of good on that plate. The pulled pork, of course, was amazing. The tangy sweet barbecue sauce staying in the background where it belonged. The fresh coleslaw added crunch. The whole thing was so big, that I turned it into two open faced sandwiches just to get it into my mouth, and I still ended up taking leftovers home (our dog was delighted).
Even the mac salad – the sandwiches come with your choice of side – was outstanding. Abundant diced sweet/sour pickles, shredded cabbage, and small cubes of cheese gave the salad a complexity of textures and tastes. Very enjoyable.
Speaking of sides, for two dollars extra you can get maybe the best onion rings in town:
These homemade rings are the standard by which all other onion rings should be judged. The breading was outstanding – the exterior had a crispness that gave way to a firm chew. Inside, the onion slices themselves were sweet and flavorful. The only shortcoming, a lack of equally incredible dipping sauce.
The cheeseburger with extra crispy fries was another tasty lunch:
This day, the battered french fries had an nicely seasoned crackly crisp exterior wrapped around a pillow soft interior. The half pound burger was obviously hand formed and coarsely ground on the premises – great texture. The pickles were sweet/sour, slightly spicy, and nicely crunchy. A good burger that would have been great if it had not been slightly overcooked, so there was no moist pink center to the patty.
The chicken Club was another good sandwich:
The chicken was nicely grilled and seasoned, the bacon chewy and flavorful. If only the avocado slices had been riper and creamier the sandwich would have approached perfection.
Speaking of perfection, it's hard to imagine a better red chile cheeseburger than this open faced example:
The picture does not do justice. In my years, I have eaten dozens of versions of this truck stop/diner standard. Back in the day, my parents’ eatery served a good version, topped with my dad’s recipe chili. The Crouse’s is in a different league entirely. Even with beans, the red chile is deeply flavored and rich. Everything oh my god good.
One more example of the really tasty food at Flat Top Grill, the tri-tip sandwich:
The potato salad is fine if not spectacular and the split ciabatta roll was pretty ordinary. On the other hand, the tri-tip, grilled over oak, Santa Maria style, was rich, tender, and smoky. And look at all that meat. Three slices were plenty for the sandwich, so I took two of them home (happy dog again). Also notice that there is no mayo, mustard, ketchup, cheese, or sauce on the bread. The tri-tip is rich and fatty enough that the sandwich – just roll, lettuce leaf, and meat – needed nothing else. Wow again! – or as the dog would say, Bow Wow!
With the opening of Flat Top Grill, I think the Crouse family has finally killed the curse.
SuperNatural Sandwiches 7094 Miramar Rd San Diego, CA 92121
Another favorite that I hadn't been to in a while. They've now got a lunch special, a sandwich with fries and a drink.....don't quite remember the price as I was enjoying talking to the owner.
Crisp pork gyro.....just like Greece! Well seasoned, crisp, enrobed in a nice warm pita. The owner also gave me a little cup of a nice sauce which went well with the fries. I need to come here more often....it's cheaper than a flight to Athens.
Zgara Greek Grill 1730 Garnet Ave San Diego, CA 92109
Best Donuts Bakery & Deli:
Heading to work early (530 am) with no time for lunch on my schedule. The solution? A stop at Best Donuts for the A la Mexicana.
Warm and fluffy bolillo, eggs, a smear of beans, gooey melted cheese, salsa, jalapenos (to wake me up), and tomato. What's not to like? I'm sure there are little shops like this everywhere....it's just a matter of finding them.
Best Donuts Bakery & Deli 4714 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
The nice folks here have put up their "Grand Opening" sign so I thought I'd drop by. There seems to have been a few changes to the menu from my previous visits, but the place looks like it's doing well. Nice change of pace for the area and heck, Faye seems to like the place. Not having much time, I took my El Cubano to go.
The sandwich seems to have a bit less meat than before, but in terms of proportion things went well together. The pork still has flavor and isn't "the other white meat", the Swiss cheese adds a nice milky flavor......and those pickles, well they add the acid and tartness to the sandwich. I do enjoy the plantain chips, which are sliced very thin, thus making it crisp. I need to head back to Embargo Grill for the Medianoche and compare.
Havana Grill 5450 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117
Cali Baguette Express - Convoy:
Banh Mi Trung is probably one of my favorite breakfast items....though perhaps I'd take a good noodle soup or natto gohan with egg ahead of it. Cali Express is an easy choice, they bake their own bread (though I think Paris makes a better baguette) and who can deny the wonderfulness of a fried egg sandwich with Maggi on it?
And don't forget about the sneaky jalapeno....now that'll wake you up, right? Again, it's about ratios and proportion to me......the pickled veggies, the fried egg, the light and airy bread, cilantro....you get the point, right?
Cali Baguette Express 4425 Convoy Street San Diego, CA 92111
Thanks for stopping by to read mmm-yoso!!! while Kirk is (still) on vacation and Ed (from Yuma) is researching places to eat (in Yuma). Cathy is writing today.
The Mister and I were in Escondido again and next to the Toyota dealership on Lincoln Avenue, there's a small strip mall. There were five small places to eat as well as a Laundromat. Based on prior experience at strip malls anchored by Laundromats, we decided to stop. At the inner corner,
these two looked good- Tortas y Jugos and the Panaderia right next to it.There are menus outside and also at the ordering area. Pay, have a seat and your order will be brought to your table. Neat and clean inside, it looks new. Checking out Y***, the oldest review is from March, 2013; Tortas Y Jugos has been here a while. Even though there are photos showing fries on the plate with the tortas, we were surprised the $5.99 price was inclusive.
I ordered a *Cubana* torta, which is NOT the same as a *Cubano* Sandwich. In Mexican eateries, a Cubana torta is as varied as the taqueria/taco shop/stand where you are eating. Basically it is a 'kitchen sink' of leftovers; a fresh baked, toasted torta/telera roll filled with a collection meats, lettuce, tomato, avocado and cheese as well as a thin layer of refried beans. The version here at the Goyo Family place had ham, salchica (a sliced hot dog), chorizo, bacon and a thin, crispy piece of Milanesa (breaded, fried beef or pork; it was too thin to really tell, but the crispiness was what the sandwich needed). If you are like me, who orders an 'everything' bagel, or a coffee-tea-milk at boba places, then a Cubana is a good choice; always a surprise, unique and with multiple fresh flavors. The fruit salad (large, $6.29) which had a bit of every fruit in season as well as cottage cheese, granola, raisins, coconut flakes and honey. A Vampiro (orange, beet, celery and carrot juices) ($3.99) rounded out this meal we shared. So very fresh. I really enjoy fruiterias.
When we were finished, walking next door, to the unnamed Panaderia, we were greeted with the smells of fresh baked goods. There was also an area for cinnamon tea, cinnamon coffee and hot water.This was our purchase, less than $2. Very fresh and good.
Happy to have found this hidden gem.
Tortas Y Jugos Goyo 655 East Lincoln Escondido, CA 92026 (760) 871-6000
This is mmm-yoso!!!, a food blog. Kirk (and his Missus) are on vacation. Ed (from Yuma) (and Tina) have also been on vacation. Cathy (and her Mister) have been staying in the County and eating food after taking photos of it. She is posting today.
In April of 2015, Howard's Lemon Grove Deli & Grill was sold to a new family after many decades as a mainstay on Broadway Avenue. The new owners are a very nice Italian family, who have made a few cosmetic improvements to the interior and tweaked the menu.
The exterior is pretty much the same. You can walk in and find a seat or stand and order items 'To Go'. The menu is on the back wall.The corned beef hash and eggs ($8.99) is always a good choice. Two eggs, a choice of home fries or hash browns, and a choice of toast, biscuit and gravy or pancakes are al part of the meal. The corned beef hash is very good and not too salty.Two visits, I've ordered each of the breakfast sandwiches on the menu. Both with rye toast. The top photo is the "Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich" ($7.75)- scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, mushrooms, bell pepper and avocado. Hearty and good.
The bottom photo (directly above) is the simpler "Breakfast Sandwich" ($5.75)- Scrambled eggs, cheese (you have a choice of cheeses) and ham or bacon or sausage. Bacon in this case. Unfortunately the Eggs Benedict is no longer on the menu, but a "Grilled Bone In Ham Steak" with eggs ($9.75) is. The Benedict and its sauce was very good when we ordered it. The home fries are the same as in this photo. Since there is an easy way to order online, I've done it a few times. The "Famous Pastrami" ($8.50) is large enough for two. The bread is grilled, there's a choice of cheese and a choice of ingredients. 8 ounces of meat. Really good sandwiches here.
Its great that the Roberto family has kept this East County institution going.
Lemon Grove Deli & Grill 7860 Broadway Lemon Grove CA 91945 (619)464-2928 Website Open daily at 7 a.m Closes at 4 p.m. Mon-Thurs and Sat; closes at 5 on Fri; closes at 2 on Sun Website
Ever since Kokoro stopped serving lunch and our offices moved further North to Kearny Mesa I haven't been in the Serra Mesa area much. Recently I had some meetings nearby and I decided to drop by the nearby strip mall to see what was up. The place looks kind of depressing.....it just hasn;'t been the same since Henry's left the strip mall. I did notice a shop I hadn't seen before....Maggie's Café.
I remember when this location was....for a very short time, Leilani's Restaurant. I decided to stop by.
the women working were very friendly. The place is fairly generic, but wide open and bright. The menu is an amalgamation of themes; everything from Alfredo to Faijitas, Eggs Benedict to Poptstickers......part Mexican, part diner, part sportsbar. Kind of scary, but sometimes places like this work because they put out honest, solid, food. So why not give it a whirl.
I ordered the Torta Oaxaquena ($11.45), holy smokes, this thing was huge.
Good lord, how does one wrap their mouth around this. Separate the parts weren't very impressive; the carnitas was basically oven pulled pork, the bolillo standard issue. The milanesa was somewhere in there. Somehow the sum of the parts made this a decent sandwich........the queso added a eaminess; though I appreciated the avocado more. Red onion, pickled jalapenos also added to the experience. And yes, there were some fries hidden behind the gigantic sandwich. It was perhaps a bit too much..... For some reason, this "Gringo Torta" had me reminiscing back to the La Torta days.
There's no denying that you get your money's worth here as I could only finish half the sandwich.
So of course I decided to return. I've mentioned before that I hold a special place in my heart for the old fashioned Club House Sandwich, so I decided I should just go ahead and try it here ($10.95).
While quite large, this didn't quite do it for me. The bread was a chewy sourdough and several slices were burnt. The bacon wasn't crisp making it rubbery. I did enjoy the addition of avocado, but overall, not my favorite clubhouse sandwich.
So what to say about Maggie's Café? I think every neighborhood should have a place like Maggie's; it's not about haute cuisine, it's about full bellies, satisfied customers, a good value, and unpretentious food. Which is what Maggie's Café does. I'm not sure the place is worth going out of the way for, but I sure wish I had a place like this in my neighborhood.
Maggie’s Cafe 3232 Greyling Dr San Diego, CA 92123 Open Daily: 9am - 9pm
Boy, did Havana Grill take their sweet old time opening. I'm not sure what the roadblocks were, but I'd mentioned seeing their signage back in June. Still, I was intrigued to finally see them open about a month ago.
The shop is one of those "fast-casual" type places; you order at the counter, take number and have a seat. The restaurant was still in it's soft-opening phase when I visited, so I can understand the rather slow delivery of some of my orders and that some of the items; specifically the mojo was a bit different on my visits. I will say this; the staff is very friendly.
My adventures started with the Ropa Vieja - "old clothes", the classic Cuban shredded beef dish. Not cheap at $13.
This was probably the best version of this dish I've had in San Diego. The beef was perfectly toothsome, but not tough and overly stringy. The flavor was mellow, but the brininess of the capers and olives lifted the dish. The beef flavor was present and the sodium level low. Of all the items I had, it was the black beans that made an impression; sweet-salty-beany, cumin lurking in the background; the texture of the beans was nice, and it was neither too runny or too mushy. The really nice guy named Alex, told me that their recipe uses 17 ingredients. I bought a side order for the Missus who really enjoyed it.
The mojo had a bit too much oil and not enough citrus or garlic flavor for me.
The plantains....were plantains...... just being their sweet ol' selves.
During my meal, Alex told me that Havana Grill baked their own bread. So you know what I had to try, right?
On my next visit, I went with the El Cubano ($10), the hot pressed Cubano Sandwich. I was surprised at the amount of nicely fried plantain chips when I opened my container.
I actually enjoyed this sandwich....and the plantain chips.
The weak link to most Cubanos for me is the roast pork, which tends to be dry and tasteless....the "other white meat". The pork here had decent pork flavor. And combined with ham (salty-savory), the Swiss cheese (milky goodness), the pickles (crunch and a slight sweet-brine), and the mustard, this was pretty darn good. The bread didn't look like much, but actually had some nice flavor and held up fairly well after being pressed.
I had asked for a recommendation for my next visit when I ordered my sandwich and was told to try either the Bistec or the Havana Chicken Sandwich. I ended up getting both during my next two visits.
The Bistec ($14) is basically shredded beef and could have used a bit more of a sear to enhance the texture, it was also cold in the middle.
It was also quite mild in flavor, I'm used to Bistec Encebollado and expect some bold flavors; garlic, lime, black pepper...on pounded beef. This seemed the same cut as the ropa vieja.
The black beans were as good as on my previous visits. This time around; the mojo had some punchy garlic and perhaps a bit too much salt, but not enough citrus for my taste. Still it was needed to add some oomph to the beef.
On my most recent visit I tried the Havana Chicken Sandwich ($9).
On the good side; this wasn't a shrinking violet when it came to flavor, lots of garlic-citrus tomes and perhaps teetering on the edge of being too salty. The onions did quite well, but the sandwich also seemed a bit greasy. Also, the pounded chicken breast was a bit on the dry side. The menu said that the sandwich was dressed with watercress, but I found none. I think the crunch and slight bitter-peppery flavor would have been a nice addition to the sandwich. I like the roll, which seems simple, but reminds me of a good solid French style roll which is great for "dipping".
I enjoyed my visits to Havana Grill, the folks are very friendly, and the place seems like a work in progress. It seems that homestyle recipes are being adapted for restaurant use and systems are still being put in place. The fact that Havana Grill is close to work means that I'll keep visiting on those days when I need a change of pace. I hope they keep up the nice service and get their recipes and systems in line. There also seems to be items on the menu; the empanadas come to mind that really won't do well being cooked ahead and placed under heat lamps. Hopefully all of that will shake out in time. Oh, and I hope they dial in the mojo......
Havana Grill 5450 Clairemont Mesa Blvd San Diego, CA 92117 Open Daily 11am - 9pm
Baguette Bros soft opened to a bit of hype a couple of weeks ago. Since it was fairly close to work, I managed to visit a couple of times.
Located in the same strip mall as China Max, Xi'an Kitchen, et al, the menu features twists on Banh Mi, chickens wings, versions VN coffee and drinks, and some Craft Beer (too IPA heavy - not my favorite match for Banh Mi). For some reason this seems to be a Food Truck menu in a brick and mortar shop......after all the NRA (no, not that NRA - the National Restaurant Association) says that the latest trend is from Food Truck to Brick and Mortar.
I like the nice, wide open set-up, very much the norm in places that want to attract the demographic that would want "Fusion Vietnamese Sandwiches"
I decided to go straight for the coronary artery and went with the Belly Flop ($8). The sandwich took a while, which didn't bother me. First this is the soft opening period and systems are still being put in place. Second, it means that my sandwich is being prepped fresh.
As the name indicates, this is a pork belly based Banh Mi. First off, the bread is standard issue. Probably from Le Chef. Because of how "stuffed" the sandwich is, it didn't hold up too on the short 10 minute trip back to the office, the bread had gotten gummy and for some reason, even though it was toasted, wasn't crusty enough.
The amount of pork belly was quite generous and along with the "sweet chili sauce", which seemed like a hoisin based sauce seemed the biggest deviation on what you'd consider something other than a super-stuffed banh mi. The classic cucumber, pickled veggies, and cilantro were nicely done. I loved the jalapenos which helped to cut the sweetness of the sauce.
One complaint would be the belly skin, which, if not fried properly is like eating plastic.....a rather unpleasant surprise.
Things come bundled with Shrimp Chips.
I thought my sandwich was pretty good so a couple of days later I returned with Calvin. I just can't put away food like I used to so having Calvin along would mean we could try a variety of items. Plus, MrC, who is originally from the SGV, his wife from Little Saigon, has had his share of Banh Mi.
My favorite sandwich of the three I had was the "Broguette" ($6). Loved the pate in this, wish they had put jalapenos on it and gone a bit easier on the Maggi, or whatever sauce they used as it was on the salty side. The head cheese was really mild but added texture, as did the Cha Lua, and the bread did well minus the travel time to my desk. As a whole, this was pretty much all about the pate.
We also ordered the "Grasshogger" ($6) - basically a Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi.
Calvin and I had the same reaction upon taking a bite of this; "whoa....too much salt...too much lemongrass". It needed something to balance out the flavors. The pork was actually fairly moist.
There was one other item I wanted to try. The Fish Sauce Chicken Wings.
Calvin liked the rather large sized wings, whereas I'm more about skin to meat ratio. We both agreed that the wings were fried perfectly, but that there was too much fish sauce in this...again, making it a bit too salty. The garlic was good, not too bitter, but this had me missing Que Huong.
I was rather pleased with what BB offered (i.e. the menu), though the execution and flavors were not quite there. I am looking forward to visiting again after the Grand Opening period. Nice folks, service a bit slow, but that's to be expected as they get their systems down.