Back on May 26th, 2005 mmm-yoso came into existence and China Max was our first post. It's strange reading those old posts. In the beginning, I tried what many are better at.....all the "butterflies and puppy dog tails" stuff. But after a couple of weeks I realized that I wasn't doing myself nor anyone who read these posts any good. It was started to be kind of an eating, cooking, and travel journal. Plus, I noticed that I was my worst enemy when not giving my honest opinion. It's made thing much easier over the years.
Another thing about that first post....Ed from Yuma was there to join me for the meal.
So it's only fitting that we all get together at China Max for this wonderful 3000th post. Ed form Yuma, Tina, Cathy, and the Mister were present. The Missus has been kind of down on CM over the last couple of years so She decided to work instead.
Anyway, I thought that since everyone had a seat at the table, each one should have say as well. So here goes.
As with that first visit, we had the Peking Duck. It seems that the duck was lacking the dark and lacquered color I was used to.
Ed from Yuma: I liked the duck very much - specifically the skin and duck on the pancakes. Sometimes the sauce was not evenly spread, but the skin as always was tasty.
Tina: I liked all the dishes but my favorite was the duck in the bun pancakes. I liked that it had the duck skin and a little bit of meat.
Cathy: I could eat the little duck skin in steamed pancake forever
The Mister: Liked the lettuce cups, with the duck, best. He said each flavor in the mix was distinct along with the still warm duck.
What's usually my favorite dish at CM; the Seafood Pan Fried Noodles....the flavor is mild, but the sauce/gravy usually has a wonderful texture and the flavor of each different type of seafood comes thru.
Ed from Yuma: I loved the mixed seafood on the panfried noodles; that has been one of my favorites over the years for lunch there.
We needed a veg dish so I went with the Egglpant with Pork. A rather routine send-up.
Ed from Yuma: The eggplant and pork dish was tasty, but the prep is fairly standard - it's something I can get even here in Yuma.
This being the mmm-yoso banquet we needed a centerpiece dish. I wanted the steamed spot prawns but they were out. So I went with the steamed sablefish (black cod), which was nicely steamed, great richness, a bit boney, but the flesh just melted in your mouth. Mild flavor, but just cooked perfectly.
Ed from Yuma: The sablefish was rich and delicate, but a bit bony.
Cathy: I really liked the sable fish; never had it prepared that way, it so nice...and the bones were almost edible-so soft.
The last time I had the Shing Do (sweet and pungent) Chicken was back in maybe 2003? So I decided to order it....when did China Max become Panda Express? It wasn't this bad back then.....
As I expected, from how much of this dish we had leftover......I got no comments from "Da Gang".... You can fill in the blanks.
It was a fantastic evening. I'm thinking we'll be doing this again soon.
Ed from Yuma: The conversation might have been even better than the food.
As it usually is when good friends get together! Thanks to all for being available for dinner, it's been too long.
China Max 4698 Convoy Street #C101 San Diego, CA 92111
Also, I think I'll be revisiting some of those places (that are still in operation) from the first couple of months over the next few weeks.
And thank you for joining us for this milestone post!
mmm-yoso!!! basically is Kirk's blog, but he is kind enough to allow Cathy to post here a lot and Ed (from Yuma) to post here once in a while. Today is a once in a while day.
Since Frank's and The Farmhouse, both near the south end of 4th Avenue, had shut down recently, I was kinda surprised to see that a defunct Long John Silver’s at 2970 S. 4th Ave. had been renovated and transformed into Eddie's Grill:
The eating area has tables and booths in the main section:
and in the side room:
At lunchtime, both areas are usually busy:
You order here:
Then pick up soft drinks, condiments, silverware, napkins, etc.:
These two areas being so close together sometimes makes things a bit crowded. Once you"re seated, the very friendly and helpful waitstaff brings your food to your table – and I have been impressed by the quickness of the kitchen, making this a good stop for a quick lunch.
The menu includes several different salads. Tina loved the Santa Barbara Cobb salad with grilled chicken ($8.95):
The chicken was nicely cooked and had grill marks. As you can see, there was also abundant avocado, bacon, crumbled cheese, diced tomatoes, and shredded carrot on top of a large bowl of fresh mixed lettuces.
Dave liked his Asian chicken salad with sesame dressing ($8.95) as well:
I personally have concentrated more on the sandwiches and burgers, all of which are available as combos with beverage and french fries for an additional $2.95 ($3.45 for sweet potato fries or onion rings). The fries are okay with a decent potato flavor:
As you can tell by the salads, grilled chicken is a big deal at Eddie's. In fact it was the chicken club sandwich ($7.25) on my first visit that convinced me that they could produce good food:
The chicken was both nicely grilled and still moist. The vegetables were fresh, and the bacon and avocado tasted great and added to the sandwich.
Likewise, the barbecue chicken sandwich ($7.25) worked for me:
The same fresh vegetables and well grilled chicken napped with just the right amount of subdued barbecue sauce. Not over the top, but very nicely balanced, the emphasis still on the flavor of the chicken.
I was delighted to see that the fish sandwich on the menu was grilled fish ($7.95), and the sandwich had many of the same virtues as their other sandwiches:
As you can see from this close-up, the fish was well prepared, still moist and flake apart tender:
However, the picture also shows one shortcoming of that sandwich. The juices of the fish, the fresh tomato slices, and the abundant tartar sauce overwhelmed the toasted sourdough so that I ended up eating the last half of the sandwich with a knife and a fork.
I had a similar problem with the very flavorful and awesome looking grilled portobello mushroom sandwich ($6.95):
In this case, the excellent whole-wheat bun held up fine, but the juicy giant mushroom dripped thousand-island dressing, drenched its paper wrapping, and then began slip sliding away, out of the bun – as if the table, my shirt, or my pants represented some kind of escape, some kind of sanctuary for mushrooms threatened with extinction. So I stabbed it with a fork and cut it with a knife.
The turkey burger ($6.50) looked even more gloppy goopy:
But here I actually appreciated the sauciness because turkey burger itself was dry. This sandwich worked, and I particularly appreciated the good quality whole-wheat bun.
In fact, every burger I've had at Eddie's has been good. Look at the Ortega and Swiss burger ($6.25):
The 1/3 pound charbroiled patty was fresh and flavorful, the grilled green chile and the cheese perfect complements.
Tina loved the blue and mushroom burger ($6.25):
Yep, that looks good enough to eat!!!
Eddie's Grill is a nice addition to Yuma and one that should have wide appeal. The prices are fair, the folks friendly, and the food quickly prepared. I also like being able to order the burgers and sandwiches without fries when I'm watching my waistline grow or my pocketbook shrink. It's clear that the management knows what it's doing and that the staff members from cooks to servers are well-trained and skilled. I am told that this is the second Eddie's Grill – the original one in Lompoc being run by the brothers of José, the local owner. Eddie's opens at 6 a.m., and for information about closing times etc., call (928) 726-9235.
They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas; today, however, Ed (from Yuma) will tell about a dinner that happened there anyway. Tomorrow, Kirk or Cathy will be sharing food with you.
In a previous life, when I lived in Monterey, California, Corey and I worked in the same shop. He now lives in Las Vegas, so when Tina and I were in town, we all had to get together. I remembered that sushi was one of Corey's favorite foods, so it seemed appropriate to meet up at Yonaka, a modern Japanese restaurant: Not wanting to spend a lot of time going over the menu, we ordered an omakase – our server recommended the 11 course chef’s special tasting menu which he said would include a range of dishes and be enough to satisfy three hungry appetites. Corey had beer, Tina wine, and me sake.
The first course to arrive was Scottish salmon: The chunks of fish were accompanied by pieces of Asian pear and baby heirloom tomatoes, all topped with a sesame/ginger dressing. While this picture isn't much good, we all agreed that this was a pretty good beginning course. The pear and tomato balanced the salmon well.
Then a large bowl of charred brussels sprouts arrived, smoky, chewy, crispy and crunchy, with a light chili lemon touch: This was a tasty vegetable dish that we continued to munch on between other courses until the bowl was empty.
The next item was some decent hamachi with unusual accompaniment: Between each slice of hamachi, there was a slice of Gala apple, all covered by a Granny Smith apple relish and accompanied by a deep-fried latticework composed of dried apples. Hamachi with apples done three ways? Again there was a light dressing accompaniment. While each item was okay, my palate did not find hamachi/apple interplay especially interesting. Your palate might well be different.
A generous plate of tuna belly accompanied by walnuts and cranberry jelly arrived next: This was an attractive dish, the fish slices topped with micro greens and seaweed strips. The tuna belly itself was good, but not outstanding.
On the other hand, the sashimi plate was excellent: The maguro had an almost suspicious deep red color, but it was flavorful with a good texture. The flying fish sashimi was firm, a bit chewy, and mild. For me, the highlight was the golden thread sea bream – rich and fresh tasting, leading to a long creamy finish.
Also quite tasty was the moist cooked salmon accompanied by baby bok choy and sliced peppers, all bathed in a spicy coconut cream. Yep, this worked: The sea bream bones, deep-fried, showed up next, but they were a little too sturdy and thick for me, not nearly as pleasantly crunchy as a Spanish mackerel skeleton: Maine lobster and braised fennel in a spicy sauce: The idea of this dish was excellent; we liked the interplay of the fennel, sauce, and lobster. The lobster itself, however, was a little overcooked. Still it was okay.
Tender and flavorful wagyu beef, cooked rare, accented by a fruit salsa: We also enjoyed the roasted carrots that seemed to be standing guard over the plate.
The apogee of the meal had to be this: Perfectly prepared pork belly. Incredibly rich, fork tender, slightly sweet, and pleasantly porky. Yum. I salivate just thinking about it. That's apple kimchi in the background.
The final savory course was fried rice with broiled hamachi, uni, ikura, and baby bok choy: While I enjoyed the seafoods and vegetable, the rice seemed pretty ho-hum – something to fill up anyone still hungry at this point, and that was not me. Of course, the pork belly was a tough (tender?) act to follow.
The desert, on the other hand, was surprisingly good: Mango two ways – gelato on the left and panna cotta on the right. I believe the panna cotta was covered in a vanilla sauce, but the best touch was the panna cotta itself, stuffed with a mango center, so when you cut into it and opened it up, the yellow filling flowed out like an over easy egg yolk. Sadly, I was so amazed that I forgot to take a picture of it. Nonetheless, we all thought the desert was a nice finish.
It was great seeing Corey again, and all three of us enjoyed the meal. The extensive use of fruits throughout made our experience unique, and we all left full and happy.
Yonaka Modern Japanese, 4983 W Flamingo Rd, Suite A, Las Vegas, NV 89103, 702-685-8358
Kirk and Cathy finally get to take things easy as Ed (from Yuma) is blogging today about a meal in Vegas about a month ago.
Usually when I am posting about a vacation or even just a couple of days in San Diego, I go in chronological order. However, this time, I want to start with Tina and my last dinner in Vegas – the splurge meal at Twist – while I still can remember most (some?) of it.
When I made the reservations, I had no idea that the Mandarin Oriental hotel containing the restaurant is allegedly one of only six five-star American hotels, and the only one in Vegas. From the moment of our arrival, when a valet parked our car and another guided us to the elevator, we were astounded by the level of service.
The stylish dining area is located on the 23rd floor; the view as one enters the restaurant is nice:
The restaurant decor is clean, angular, modern, and stylish:
We were delighted to be seated at a small table next to a giant window. Looking one way:
Looking the other way:
Even the reflections of Las Vegas scenery on other windows added a nice touch:
At first, the table held a lamp, two water glasses and two discs of butter, like little yellow hockey pucks – one sweet and one salted:
We each were given three breads: crunchy raisin toast, a rustic fruit and multigrain miniloaf, and my favorite, an outstanding old world style hard roll:
We were asked if we preferred sparkling or still water, and our water glasses were filled repeatedly throughout the meal.
After discussions with our waiter, Tina and I decided to go with the full five course grand tasting menu ($155) with the Discovery Wine pairing ($95).
Speaking of our waiter, I need to emphasize again the quality of the service. Waitstaff was ubiquitous, but not disruptive or intrusive. While everything was "proper," everyone was friendly and helpful, particularly our main waiter, Sunday, who hails from southern Nigeria and is very knowledgeable about the cuisine:
To amuse our mouths before our first course arrived, we received some tasty and interesting tidbits, like this slice of black radish with creamy herbed goat cheese and a large walnut half:
On another plate, there were two crunchy crackerly layers separated by a creamy filling; but the most memorable item on that plate was the gelatined martini cube:
On another platter, a radish slice – looking like a mini tortilla – was folded over a shallot and sesame paste. Another radish slice was wrapped around truly excellent steak tartare lightly sprinkled with coarse salt, sortof a mini raw salami:
Accompanying these little tastes were two of the best green olives: rich, creamy, and mild. Beside them, a small silver serving bowl with coarse salt, Panko crumbs, two crunchy Parmesan mini biscuits, and four green wafers – none of which made much of an impression on me – though I inadvertently snapped a selfie, thanks to the base of the silver bowl:
The first real course, called printemps, both Tina and I agreed was tasty and impressive:
At the bottom of the bowl lay an intense asparagus coulis that underlay the rest of the ingredients – including asparagus spears – and brought them together. Contrasting with the asparagus were the chunks of smoked hamachi and Asian pear. Cubes of another smoked fish were hidden inside the spinach leaf pouch, and the very thin radish and cucumber slices around the edge added crunch to the whole dish. Perhaps most interesting was the scoop of broccoli ice cream topped with caviar and gold foil. While this sounds like a mélange of flavors, the dish as a whole exceeded the sum of its parts. Even the smoked fish somehow enhanced the springtime flavors of the other ingredients.
Before this course, Tina and I had been sharing a flute of champagne ($26), which we finished along with the amuse bouche. Just in time, then, the wine pairings began with a full flavored crisp northern Italian white wine with flavors like Sauvignon Blanc or Soave:
Note the distinctive Riedel stemware; each wine we were served came with a different type of glass. In general, we were pleased by the pairings, but I wish I’d photographed each bottle because I did not recognize the labels and my notes for the entire meal get pretty sketchy as the evening and the wine drinking progressed.
The next course, sliced fresh Maine lobster tail with baby carrots and enoki mushrooms, was excellent – the lobster tender, flavorful, moist, and succulent:
This was certainly the best lobster I have eaten west of the Appalachians; while the serving was not large, it was masterfully prepared, and it was also perfectly matched by the fragrant and richly flavored white wine from southern Italy:
Likewise, the turbot poached in Nantes butter (with avocado, leeks, baby clams, and butter foam) was fresh and well prepared. The mild whitefish matched perfectly with the more subtle flavors of the glass of Marsanne from Crozes Hermitage in the northern Rhône Valley:
The serving size, however, was not very large:
At this point, we were given a palate refresher – rhubarb foam on top of crushed pineapple. Not only was this cool and tasty, it gave us a chance to pause and reflect and finish our last white wine:
The next course was American wagyu beef, tender and flavorful, served medium rare on a bed of diced turnips and a brown violine sauce that I cannot remember:
The thing that looks like a breadstick next to the beef is actually crusted dauphine potato topped with herbs. Like an edible pun.
To accompany the wagyu, the chef chose Le Gravot, an organic and rare wine from the Loire Valley, made primarily from the indigenous pineau d’aunis grape:
The wine was certainly full-bodied and interesting, with a flavor profile that reminded me of a good Spanish garnacha, but it did not seem, to my pedestrian palate, to complement the beef as perfectly as the white wines had matched their dishes.
While not as spectacular as the view nor as interesting as the cuisine, the music playing softly in the background was various, pleasant, and intriguing. Early on, there was some Sinatra (that was expected, we were in Vegas), and then some Rolling Stones (was it "Tumbling Dice"?). And later I was pleased/amused to hear the Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset" about looking out over a mass of humanity during a beautiful sunset:
Now it's time for me to apologize for dessert. I have some pictures of the interesting and creative desserts, and some memory/notes about the various plates. However, Tina and I had been having a wonderful time, and because of medications I had been taking, I had not consumed much alcohol in months, so most of the pictures by this time are fuzzy and my notes and memory are hazy at best. I do remember, however, that the desserts were served with a glass of Malaga, a dessert wine from the South of Spain, I forgot to take a picture of the wine.
This dessert certainly looked interesting; wish I could remember more about it:
I believe this martini glass has green apple foam on top of vanilla ice cream on top of a sweet fruity (mango?) surprise at the bottom:
This three layered dessert balanced chocolate flavors with orange flavors and offered three distinctly different textures:
Tina and my favorite had chestnut ice cream on a cheesecake accompanied by a sweet crunchy almond wafer topped with cassis marmalade:
Overall, we had a wonderful experience. Virtually every dish was perfectly executed and the food was often interesting and creative, as were the wine pairings. The organization of the courses, the pacing of the meal, the friendly and professional service, and the stylish ambience elevated our splurge dinner to a level (and a price) beyond what we anticipated. As it was time to go, Tina took a final photo that blended neon Las Vegas with reflections of the interior of Twist. A good way to end this long post – thanks for reading:
More info and details about Twist can be found here:
It's about time for Ed (from Yuma) to post about some place Yuman. So today, Kirk gets to explore, and Cathy gets to rest, but as always at mmm-yoso, there is food on the menu.
Clearly the flavor of the year in Yuma is BEER. The newest player in the craft beer pub game is A & R Bar and Grill located on 4th Avenue between 7th and 8th Streets. They play the game pretty well:
The place has a clean, fresh decor, offset by plenty of sports memorabilia. Of course, flatscreen TVs, tables of various size, and a bar fill the smallish space:
The changing tap list is a little more limited than Pinthouse, but most folks have no trouble finding something interesting and tasty:
Tina was especially amazed by the grapefruit ale, which was remarkably refreshing and perfect for a hot day in spring:
Also interesting, though I thought less impressive, is the spicy Mango Margarita:
The menu includes tasty appetizers and salads, like the Caesar salad with chicken:
or this quesadilla with pulled pork,: but most of the menu is fairly standard bar food sandwiches, accompanied by decent french fries or with a salad or onion rings for little more legal tender. Usually, the cooks at A & R prepare the sandwiches just right and the bar clearly sources quality ingredients, making the resulting sandwich plate a cut or two above what one would expect:
I loved this pulled pork sandwich (here with a side salad, $2 more). Though not at all smoky, the pork was moist and tender and its flavor came through the sauce and accompaniments:
This chicken sandwich is a pretty standard version, but tasting of the grill and accompanied by very fresh lettuce, tomato, pickle (and cheese if you wish):
The french fries are also good, again better than one would expect.
When I ordered the turkey sandwich, the helpful and friendly waitperson said that I needed to order it with all of the accompaniments – bacon, spinach, cranberry, Swiss cheese, and tomato:
It was generally tasty, and I was happy to see that the turkey slices had been grilled, but I was a little disappointed that the chef had not spread enough the cranberry sauce.
I was also personally disappointed in the fish tacos, mostly because all of the sauces supplied were pretty spicy, but the fish filets seemed to me to need a little bit of more neutral crema help. Your results would probably differ:
In contrast, the sausage sandwich, which comes with grilled onions and two different mustards, is pretty impressive:
Made on premises, the sausage is robust with a complexity of flavors that I prefer to the old school Kamman sausage, the local favorite.
Tina and Greg both think that the sausage plate, with two large sausages and fries is even better than the sandwich, though I like me my carbs:
I realize that hamburgers don't break any culinary barriers, but A&R make very tasty burgers. I haven't tried the peanut butter and jelly burger that some folks on the Internet rave about, but this standard cheeseburger with extra crispy fries was very good. The smoky char of the patty (cooked a perfect medium rare), the melty cheese, and the super fresh condiments were all spot on (fries were good too):
Even better is the mushroom burger –with a side salad in this pic:
I can't add much to that picture. I also couldn't add much to the A&R burger, the star of their burger selection, here shown with the ordinary onion rings:
The tomato, cheddar cheese, and bacon show up on a lot of pub burgers, but not usually paired with grilled onions, spinach, and a fried egg:
Overall, I like A&R Grill. While I don't frequent the place late at night (these days, I don't frequent much late at night), the service has always been friendly and competent; the owner (manager?) pays attention and is concerned; and the place is pretty friendly and low-key. The food is cooked to order and sometimes takes a while to prepare, but that's what beer is for.
A&R Grill, 712 S 4th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364, (928) 783-0260
If you are looking for something by Kirk or Cathy, today is not your lucky day. If you want to read a fairly long post by Ed about a new brewpub in Yuma, sit back, relax and enjoy.
The old town/downtown area in Yuma was economically devastated by the sprawl caused by modern roads and highways and the explosion of population in Yuma in the post-World War II era. When I moved to Yuma 15 years ago, the area was still pretty desolate – a lot of for rent signs, empty buildings and vacant storefronts. These days, however, the area is undergoing a renaissance. Not only are new businesses opening, but a lot of places – wine shops, restaurants, and galleries seem to be doing very well.
One of the newest additions to Main Street is The Prison Hill Brewery. Located next to Da Boyz on Main Street; you can enter via the front door:
or the back door:
There is a dog friendly outdoor patio area:
as well as a large dining areas with bars and table service. Here's the bar area:
The main room:
I have been wanting to post about this place since the beginning of January, but I have had other things going on and then it seems like every week somebody else wants to eat at Prison Hill Brewery, so I keep accumulating pictures. Today, however, I am going to put them all together and try and do a post with as few words and as many pictures as I can get away with.
All of the sandwiches and many of the entrées come with one or two side dishes, so let's start with sides. The healthiest side is the grilled mixed vegetables, crispy tender and lightly seasoned, here pictured next to the decent thick chips which are served with many of the sandwiches:
Maybe my favorite side are the Sidewinder fries:
Though not made on premises, these fries are some of the best in town because each end is crunchy while the centers are potato fluffy.
The coleslaw is spicy hot with mustard (and cayenne?) and is fresh and tasty:
I also like the sweet beans:
but I think the macaroni salad is a little bland. Others however tell me that they love the mac salad because it goes with the stronger flavored menu choices. To each . .
The appetizers are kind of a mixed bag. For example, the giant pretzels are outstanding – it'll bring out the German in almost anyone:
Likewise, the tortilla soup (often a special, and sometimes available other times) is an excellent version of this Southwest favorite:
Remembering the soup, the word abundance pops into my head. It was packed with tortilla strips, the tomato Chile broth was outstanding, and the toppings were attractive and tasty.
I was less impressed by the combination appetizer plate:
The pretzels were excellent, of course, but the pieces of fried chicken breast were just adequate, and the two kinds of meatballs ranged from pretty good to pretty mediocre.
Similarly the hummus:
There are a few things that I love as much as good Middle Eastern hummus with the natural flavors of chickpeas and tahini – San Diego has many good Middle Eastern restaurants whose hummus I love. Prison Hill’s dry version lacks soul, and has a background citrusy taste that I suppose masks the missing flavors and freshness. Not to mention the tired and doughy bread.
On the other hand, a bunch of us really liked the poutine (good food, bad pic):
Covering the Sidewinder fries with a dark guinness gravy and patches of melted cheese only makes them more irresistible – if somewhat less healthy. To be honest, I have no idea how this dish would match up to the real thing in Canada, but it works for me in Yuma.
My salad eating friends like the salads – they are not just some "healthy" item to balance out the menu. Our friend Stacy enjoyed the vegetarian Big House Salad, impressed by the freshness and variety of the greens:
Tina loves the Cobb salad here:
In this case, she added smoked tri-tip to her salad, but she was also impressed by the mixture of greens and insisted that I take this picture to show how abundant and fresh they were:
Speaking of the smoked tri-tip, smoked meats are the main ingredient in most of the sandwiches and entrées. Behind the restaurant stand two full-size smokers, so all the smoked meats are smoked on premises:
Two of their popular sandwiches are the Verdict (brisket):
and The Tip (tri-tip):
I actually preferred The Tip because it seemed to have more going on; The Verdict was just a bit drier. The smoked meats in both, however, were perfectly flavored for my tastes, smoky without being only smoky, if you know what I mean.With sandwiches like these, your results may differ based on which piece if beef was just pulled from the smoker.
The cold smoked turkey sandwich (the Jailbird) is excellent also with bacon, tomato, lettuce, and mild cheese, sort of like a smoky club sandwich:
Though not the best I've ever had, the pulled pork is moist, smoky, and porky and topped with coleslaw :
Sometimes, the restaurant has a smoked turkey leg, sort of entrée at sandwich prices:
Lauren thought it was really good. Similarly, one of my favorite dishes on whole menu is the entrée they call The Quartermaster:
Along with the sides, you get a perfectly smoked, moist, tender chicken leg quarter. I loved it.
Of course, not everything is smoked. They make a good chicken salad (here pictured on a sandwich, but perhaps even better on a salad):
(Sorry about that picture)
The menu also includes burgers, hand formed thick and meaty. The American classic is like nothing from my childhood:
And the Shank has a cheese and bacon stuffed patty topped with a deep-fried avocado (yes that's yummy):
When I finish a meal at Prison Hill, I usually don't think about desserts, but the restaurant does do churros:
and a sundae:
and my memory tells me that both were sweet and tasty.
How did I get to the end of a post about a brewery without mentioning beer?
Oops! Prison Hill currently brews several different beers, however their brewing process takes a month and their production facilities are limited, so that they offer usually only one or two of their own. However there is a varied selection of other specialty beers. My beer drinking friends always leave happy, sometimes very happy if you know what I mean:
There’s also an adequate wine list – for small brewpub. The service, occasionally slow, is very professional and sometimes downright friendly. Truth be told, this is a place where I feel comfortable stopping in by myself or with friends. I consider the prices reasonable: sandwiches and burgers (with sides) run $9-$13, salads are generally under $10, entrées range from $11-$14, and appetizers from $6-$12.
Prison Hill Brewery, 278 S Main St, Yuma, AZ 85364; (928) 276-4001. Opens 11 am daily - closes at 10 pm most nights and 2 am Friday and Saturday.
If you have visited here before, you know mmm-yoso is KirkK's foodblog, mostly featuring his wonderful reports on dining in San Diego and worldwide. Cathy helps keep the blog going and has an encyclopedic knowledge of San Diego eateries, particularly those that the rest of us might miss. Some days, Ed (from Yuma) will post about eating on his travels and especially about dining in Yuma. Today is one of those days; you have been warned.
The most exciting new addition to the Yuma dining scene is The Farmhouse Bistro:
Its location – set back from the street with limited signage and lighting – makes this a tough location and many eateries have occupied this site for brief periods since I moved to town, including Mi Playita, TJ's Marisquero, Viejo Loco, Small Fries, Rusty Spoon, and most recently Spanky's Chophouse. But long time Yumans know the location as "where Hensley's Beef, Beans, and Beer used to be," a steakhouse that thrived here for 20 years, 1979-1999.
The interior is small and simple. Of course, there are a couple flatscreen TVs and a bar area that can't yet sell alcohol:
But most of the dining area is filled with about 10 tables of various sizes, and the rustic painted walls are reminiscent of a rural farmhouse (and when packed at lunch, the room almost sounds like the mess hall at a ranch):
While the decor is nothing to speak of, the menu looked interesting right from the start.
On my first visit, my friend and former colleague, Dawn, wanted the lamb burger ($12), so I went conventional and had the basic burger ($14). Hers looked like this:
She said the flavor of the ground meat had a distinct lamb flavor, and she loved the brie cheese topping. My farmhouse burger looked similar and different:
I was happy. I loved the char from the grill, the medium rare doneness of the patty, and the beefy taste of the meat. The restaurant tries to source all of their meats and produce locally – if possible. Maybe that’s part of why it tasted so good.
We were both delighted by the french fries (and surprised as the menu had not mentioned that they came with the burgers). While not crispy crunchy, they were full of real potato flavor – clearly none of them had ever seen the interior of a freezer. People with more perceptive tastebuds may have detected the touch of truffle oil on the potatoes, but I was just happy to get real honest french fries.
On my next visit, I had to try the pork belly tacos ($12) –who could pass up Korean style pork belly tacos? There were 4 well filled tacos:
This close-up gives you a better idea of what is going on:
The thick chunks of pork belly were simply prepared; I could detect no Korean marinade or seasoning, but I was delighted by the smoky char of some pieces. The coleslaw with red and regular cabbage was lightly dressed and definitely not sweet or goopy. As far as I could tell, the only "Korean" seasoning was the ground red chili powder sprinkled over the slaw.
Nonetheless, I had no complaints. The flavor of the pork belly was excellent, and the preparation of the tacos emphasized the chewy, porky, chargrilled flavor of the meat. I would have this again.
Currently The Farmhouse has no liquor license, which is a bad thing for the restaurant I am sure, but it can be a good thing for customers because diners can bring bottles of wine (and maybe beer?) with them to enjoy – and pay no restaurant markup on the beverage. I'm not sure when they will get a liquor license, but let me suggest that my wino friends come try the bistro now when you can save money.
For those not interested in alcoholic beverages, The Farmhouse offers your standard choices plus this amazing beverage ($3):
What you are looking at is a glass of kale lemonade (no I'm not making that up). It is complex and refreshing and probably even healthy for you. Welcome to 2015.
Since two lunches had been a success, Tina and I decided to come by for dinner. We started our meal (after the kale lemonades) with the most unusual sounding item on the menu, fried pickle ($7):
The restaurant brines a range of vegetables – this night included green beans, zucchini slices, small cauliflower florets, sweet potato chunks, and onion strips – dips them in tempura batter, fries them, and serves them with their house sauce, a spicy teriyaki mayo.
Eating the fried pickles was a treat for the palate. Sour, salty, and crunchy/greasy all at once. These were definitely addictive, if a bit repetitive, and we ate every piece.
The main courses continued to challenge our taste buds and our expectations. Tina chose the diver scallops ($26), which were perfectly cooked – charred at each end and rare in the middle. But look at how they were served:
What a treat for the eye. The scallops were perched atop a mound of beet risotto. The little white puffs are goat cheese quenelles, and the mound is surrounded by a buerre blanc sauce.
And what a treat for the mouth. The riced red beets with rice balanced the scallops nicely and contrasted with the goat cheese much like the old school borscht/sour cream combination. Tina (with a little of my help) happily ate everything on her plate.
I chose the duck breast ($28):
The breast, topped with garlic lemon purée, was served on a bed of lemon risotto, accompanied by three superb giant fresh local asparagus spears. I love asparagus and it doesn't get any better than those three spears. Moist crunchy tender flavorful.
The duck breast was cooked a perfect medium rare:
I enjoyed how the chef used the garlic and lemon flavors to contrast the richness of the duck breast. Certainly the best duck I have ever had in Yuma. The risotto was perfectly prepared, the rice being both creamy and al dente. If I had any quibble, it would be that the lemon risotto flavors were monochromatic. While the risotto was a perfect match to the duck breast, it was less interesting by itself.
For dessert, we had wanted to try the grilled peach, but of course, peaches aren’t in season (even in Yuma) so we opted for the banana crema ($9):
The small mason jar is a nice farmly touch. The banana crema itself was the bottom half of the desert. A layer of crunchy banana flavored cookie crumbs separated it from the raspberry/banana flavored crema at the top. The desert was certainly rich and unusual. It was also nice to see cheese courses on the dessert menu.
For me, The Farmhouse has exceeded expectations. The menu is certainly the most varied and interesting in town. The kitchen can turn out a wide range of dishes skillfully. Farm-to-table ingredients – witness that incredible asparagus – should be a perfect fit for Yuma, at least in the winter. In addition, the place is well staffed, and the service on each visit has been professional and personable. Of course, The Farmhouse is in a tough location, and the menu with lunches or salads between $9 and $14 and entrées from $25 up may intimidate some folks, but the restaurant has been busy and I hope that Yuma will support creative quality cuisine.
The Farmhouse Bistro, 2855 S. 4th Ave., Yuma AZ 85364, (928) 276-9735; open11- 2, and 5-11 Tuesday through Saturday, Sunday brunch 9-1. Closed Mondays.
Kirk and Cathy are busy elsewhere, so today a short post from the banks of the Colorado River. Although it may not seem like ice-cream weather in much of the US, Ed (from Yuma) and the Yuma Visitors' Bureau want you to know it is always summer here (OK, almost always).
At about the same time Arizona inaugurated a governor who made his reputation and fortune selling gimmicky ice cream franchises (yes, you heard me, Cold Stone Creamery), I thought it appropriate to focus on a local, family-owned, independent ice cream shop in Yuma:
Like Baskin-Robbins, Solano's offers you a lot of flavor choices, but unlike Baskin-Robbins, the friendly folks at Solano's are creative, inventive, and maybe a little weird. Every time you come in there will be at least 18 different flavors of ice cream arranged in tubs with labels explaining your choices:
Here's another photo of some tubs:
While I don't have a complete list (maybe one doesn't exist), we have encountered flavors like balsamic strawberry, sweetcorn raspberry, cinnamon toast, maple walnut, vanilla bean, fruit loops, Yuma Fire Dept (with red hots), malted milk balls, coconut, toasted coconut, pineapple, orange dream sicle, Oreos and cream, sweet cream, rocky road, chocolate, red velvet cake, butter pecan, pistachio, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry habanero, and everybody’s favorite maple bacon (okay maybe not vegetarians’ favorite).
You can buy cups of ice cream with three different flavors – and more than three scoops it seems. If memory serves, on our first trip, Tina chose Yuma fire department , maple bacon, and sweetcorn raspberry:
She liked them all.
More conventional, I picked maple bacon, cinnamon toast, and?:
Maple Bacon is an idea that should spread. Just perfect flavor. The cinnamon toast had the right flavors of cinnamon and toast, but lacked the crunch I was hoping for.
Of course, you can get single scoop waffle cones (maple walnut?):
Or single serving cups – here Solano’s sweet cream:
And if you're really hungry they have a range of Sundaes:
Here's a Sand Dune Sundae (I think):
And a Pecan Grove:.
It took me three evenings to eat this sucker; it was so rich and sweet and filling. And good!
Solano”s is truly a family operation:
I believe I've seen at least three generations working together to make the place of success. I don't have a current price list, but you like good ice-cream, you will find the prices fair and portions large. Some hot evenings in the summer, the service is a little slow, but it is friendly, so I have always enjoyed the weight – correction, the wait.
Solano's Homemade Ice Cream, 1452 South 4th Avenue, Yuma, AZ 85364, open noon to 10 PM every day except Wednesday
I really have no idea what Cathy and Kirk are doing today, but they are not posting at mmm-yoso, because Ed (from Yuma) has a post here instead. But before the actual post begins, Ed wants to give a shout out to the fabulous Tamale Festival in Somerton (just a few miles S of Yuma on Hwy 95) which this year will take place on Saturday, Dec 20, 2014. Over 40 different tamale vendors - real artisan tamales, some of the very best I have ever eaten. Come Go!
This is the prime season for dining out – out-of-doors, actually – in Yuma. Here are two places well worth a visit.
El Buen Taquito
Some things change – some things stay the same. El Buen Taquito has been part of the Yuma dining scene for a long time, well before my first post about it. Now EBT has relocated to 8th Street almost across from Food City, and it is only partially a taco truck these days:
As you can see, there is now a semi-enclosed space as well as restrooms; the cooking is done in the separate truck.
Currently, there is no identifier on the building because the signage for the new location is a small billboard facing west at the edge of the lot:
On the other hand, the menu is basically the same:
You go up to the window, place your order, get a number, and sit at one of the tables inside or out. Your food will arrive shortly.
Tina and I started with the consommé:
As previously, this was really good. Both of us appreciated that this broth was more complex than we anticipated – with herbal and citrusy notes that enhanced its beefiness.
Tina ordered two flautas, a taco dorado, and a tostada:
I received two sopes:
and five flautas:
EBT is the king of crunch. The simple potato rolled tacos were magnificent, perfectly deep-fried (who knows in what?). The mild shredded beef flavored the crispy folded taco and the tostada. My sopes lacked the crackle of the other items, but the corn cakes had a nice chew. I found the whole meal to be filling and satisfying. EBT doesn't do a lot, but what it does, it does well.
El Buen Taquiyo seems open from before lunch into the later evening every day, and it always seems to have customers.
Mariscos El Delfin
This is the second year for this small restaurant that occupies the space that previously contained the El Navegante truck (1019 Ave B):
Seafood is not just the specialty here, it is just about the only thing served. The truck seems to be a one-woman operation, and her English is not fluent, but this modest seafood stand with two plastic tables is doing a good job.
Recently I stopped in for her combination coctele – containing pulpo and Camaron (octopus and shrimp) ($10):
The sundae glass nearly overflowing with seafood. The octopus was perfectly prepared, not gooey nor leathery, just fresh and chewy tasting:
The shrimp fresh and perfectly cooked:
As well as sauces sitting on the table, Delfin has a first-rate HOT house salsa that can perk up anything: While the seafood was perfectly prepared, the cocktail liquid was dominated by lime flavors and a bit one-dimensional. I also prefer a wider range of ingredients such as the campechanas at Juanita's or Mariscos Mar Azul.
On the other hand, right now Mariscos El Delfin is making my favorite fish tacos in town:
The fish filets are fresh and hot and flavorful. While the breading could be crunchier, the taco is otherwise wonderful and perfectly balanced.
The shrimp tacos likewise:
Tina and I were also amazed by the ceviche:
While not containing a lot of pescado, the freshness of all of the ingredients impressed. The balance between the citric tang and the crisp sweetness of the veggies was the perfect backdrop for the fish. No way overpowering, but just about right in every way.
Mariscos El Delfin is open 10 AM to 5 PM every day of the week except Monday.
Recently, readers of mmm-yoso have been in Japan with Kirk and in Pasadena with Cathy, but today you get to come over to Yuma with Ed for tacos and more.
It is the fall, the time trees turn color and lose leaves, birds (including snowbirds) head for warmer climes, traffic thickens in town, and Yuma's taco trucks flourish.
Way back around November 2005, Kirk came to Yuma and sampled our taco truck cuisine and dubbed a cluster of trucks in an empty lot "a food court." In the fall of 2013, the newest taco court opened on a large concrete pad in a previously empty lot on the west side of Pacific Avenue just about a block south of 16th St. – not really very far from Yuma Palms shopping center:
There are a lot of parking places and tables and chairs:
And currently at least four different taco purveyors:
Let me apologize here for the limitations of this post. Some of the photos are lousy, and they are the best I had because of bad lighting and unskilled photographer. On top ot that, Tina and I have visited these trucks several times when I had no camera with me. So this post is more of a shout out than a report.
On our most recent visit, we tried Blancurri’s, one of the smaller vendors:
The special that evening was $1 pollo asado tacos:
Pretty good, but a little dry. Our favorite taco that night was what's called the mix chilada taco, a flavorful and spicy combination of carne asada and red chile chicharrones (sorry for the lousy picture):
The adobada torta was good as well, the tender pork chunks slightly spicy and the bolillo roll nicely grilled.
Arianna’s, which has been here since the marketplace area first opened, anchors the north side of the lot:
Tina and I have enjoyed the wide range of tacos here – including pastor and chicharones:
Or tripas and asada:
Tina especially enjoyed the nutty earthy flavor of the tripas and we both liked the chicharrones with red chile.
The hot dogs are another specialty, bacon wrapped, nicely grilled, and served in a hot bun with the full range of condiments:
The Monster truck is located at the other end of the food court:
It features a somewhat different menu including some unusual choices:
For most of Monster's dishes, you get to choose between asada, pollo, or pastor, but the pellizcadas includes all three meats, whole beans, cabbage, and onion on a large soft thick corn tortilla:
Tina and I both enjoy the vampires here, the toasted corn tortillas adding crunch to the meats and condiments. Here is one with asada:
The pastor is also excellent:
The monster taco has a soft tortilla, abundant roasted green chili, and your choice of protein and condiments:
The tortas (in this case with chicken) are extra-large here:
But the true monster on the menu is the hotdog:
The extra-large bacon wrapped wiener is slathered with condiments and coupled with a grilled guero pepper and abundant grilled onions. Truly outstanding dog.
In any case, this is a convenient cluster of interesting mobile eateries, which allows folks to wander around and try different dishes. They all have excellent aguasfrescas. Most of the trucks seem open every evening (if not sooner), and we've enjoyed every visit. Take advantage of our nice weather, try some things here, and let us know what you liked.
Guzmán Marketplace (this seems to be the official name of the foodcourt), 1628 S. Pacific Ave., Yuma, Arizona.