While Kirk is out of the country adventuring and eating and taking photos that he will share with us later, Cathy is doing most of the posting here at mmm-yoso. Some days Ed (from Yuma) helps out, and today is one of those days.
I really don't eat a lot of breakfasts, and when I do, it is often instant oatmeal or toast or a burrito from Jector's. But on weekends, Tina and I like to go out sometimes for a morning meal. The problem is that a crowd of people breakfast out on weekends, particularly during our tourist season, and a lot of restaurants stop serving breakfast after 11 am. So when we heard that a talented young chef had taken over the Patio Restaurant at the Desert Hills Golf Course and was serving breakfasts beginning 6 am every day and continuing on Sundays until 3 pm, we just had to try it.
The restaurant is located in the clubhouse building,
and you enter through the main door,
walk back toward the well-equipped bar, and then wait to be seated:
Of course, there is seating indoors and at the bar,
but weather permitting, Tina and I enjoy outside on the patio itself with its views of the golf course:
The menu is one page, but Tina and I had no trouble finding several things we wanted to try. I opted for the Eggs Benedict:
The hollandaise was smooth and subtle and the eggs perfectly poached, so the yolks and sauce mingled together and flavored everything. On the other hand, the tomato slice, while lightening things up a bit, seemed to soggy up the muffin halves, and I wouldn't have minded a little larger round of ham.
No complaints at all about the home fries. They were lightly dusted with seasoning and had been crisped up on the grill. Overall, this was an interesting and tasty breakfast.
Tina chose the mushroom and spinach omelet:
A real winner. Alongside those same good potatoes, lay perhaps the best spinach and mushroom omelet I've ever tasted. Fully flavored and packed with spinach and mushrooms:
My only complaint was Smucker's fruit flavored high fructose corn syrup spreads masquerading as jam or jelly:
Our meals, including coffee, came out to just over $21 (before tax). Good value we thought and some excellent preparations.
Since then, we have been back a couple more times and always enjoyed our food. I'll admit that the stack of blueberry pancakes looks pretty mundane:
but they were made with a flavorful batter, griddled to a slight crisp, and packed with oversized blueberries:
The enchiladas and eggs, one of the house specialties, looked like this:
The scrambled eggs on top were nothing special, so we would probably order them over easy or poached next time, but everything else here was outstanding. The house made sauce – dark, rich, and mellow – flavored everything. The corn tortillas (also house made?) were thick with substantial mouthfeel and intense tortilla flavor. Usually the tortillas fly under my palate’s radar when I order enchiladas, but these yelled out, "pay attention to us." And there was, to my taste, just the right amount of quality cheese, not gloopy gobs of gluey blandness. This dish worked on so many levels, the ingredients complementing and enhancing each other.
Equally outstanding was the chicken fried steak and eggs:
While the potatoes were not quite as good as before, the chicken fried steak was beyond exceptional in flavor and crunch, and good creamy gravy only made the steak better. I did a little yoso-delicioso dance in my chair.
Of course, with food this good (and inexpensive) for breakfast, Tina and I and friends have been back for several other meals, but descriptions and pictures will have to wait for a different post.
While the service and ambience at The Patio are good, one extra thing makes the place special and that is chef Alex Trujillo:
Several times we've seen him go table to table asking if everything was okay and making sure that we all enjoyed our meals. Nice to see a chef talented both in the kitchen and the dining area.
Tomorrow this food blog will have an outstanding post by Kirk or Cathy. But they are taking today off so Ed (from Yuma) – who has lots of days off – can write about a little grocery.
About 10 years ago, Kirk came over to Yuma and spent a couple days looking around and taco trucking. While in town, I showed him The Oriental Gift Shop that sells a wide variety of Asian trinkets and wigs and has a cooler and freezer in the back with kimchi and other mostly Korean specialties. A few shelves in that part of the shop offer rices, sauces, spices, and marinades. Kirk called it the 49.5 market, but as far as foodstuffs, it is a 9.9 ranch market at best (still my go to place for kimchi, however).
So I am delighted that Asian Store (not to be confused with Asian Star) now exists in town. From the back of the parking lot at Eddie's Grill, you can get an idea of its general location:
If you look along this strip mall that parallels Catalina Dr, past the location that was once a Staples, past the Dollar Tree, and beyond the Salvation Army thrift store, you will eventually find Asian Store right next to a Little Caesars:
The nondescript market has four aisles. The one on the far right has the carbohydrates. A large supply of various Asian rices:
Look for dried seaweed above the sushi rice:
Across from the rices are the noodles:
Along with such specialties as bean thread vermicelli, an amazing array of Cantonese style noodles:
And I have fallen in love with Thai rice sticks, which add a whole new dimension to my gringo stirfries:
The next aisle contains a miscellaneous assortment:
An area of canned goods including bamboo shoots:
and large jars of sour bamboo shoots:
You can also find sauce packets and spice mixes: soup bases and spices:
Thai curry pastes:
and Hawaiian spicy chicken seasoning:
The other side of the aisle displays many different teas – Japanese:
or Jasmine if you prefer:
That side also has dried beans and Panko:
The next aisle displays bottled and jarred condiments and sauces on one side and a huge variety of snacks on the other:
You can buy a bag of fried pork skins:
or roasted green peas:
Across the aisle, Kirk could find his Aloha soy or teriyaki sauce:
or pungent shrimp sauce:
Of course there's Sriracha:
an entire area of various vinegars:
and such specialties as Pad Thai Sauce (which is pretty good):
At the backend of that aisle you can find some fresh produce that doesn't need refrigeration, like kabocha squash, lemons, and these shallots (only $1.19 a bag):
Which leads me to my favorite part of the store, the refrigerated produce area at the back of the westernmost aisle. Shelves full of choys:
Or long beans, bitter melon, eggplants:
including my favorite king oyster mushrooms:
Fresh papaya strips, ready to be turned into a salad:
And if you want that salad spicy, plenty of Thai chilies:
And don't forget the time-saving peeled fresh garlic cloves:
Between the fresh foods and the front of the market are shelves filled with frozen goods:
I spend less time in this area, but you can find a wide range of frozen product. Like mochi sherbet or ice cream:
or even pork paste or fish paste (?):
Though I am puzzled or confused by some of the items for sale, you can understand why I am delighted to shop in a market like Asian Store. Their prices are very competitive and sometimes better than Fry’s or Albertsons. The produce is fresh, seasonal, and various. In so many ways, this little grocery makes me a better and more adventurous cook. And that makes both Tina and me happy.
This post by Ed (from Yuma) is here today because Kirk is jet lagging and Cathy is resting up for the holidays.
I cannot remember a time in my life before Chinese food. Of course I am not speaking of truly authentic Chinese food as found in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, or Chengdu, but of the more pedestrian Americanized versions that exist in places like Columbus Ohio, Long Beach Washington, Monterey California – or Medford Oregon, where I grew up.
My mom had a rule – she cooked six days a week, and like God, she rested on the seventh. That meant we went out to eat once a week. My dad had lived several years in Asia and truly loved rice. That meant I grew up eating a lot of “Chinese” food at Kim's Restaurant on S. Pacific Hwy at the south edge of Medford back in the 50s and 60s.
Therefore, finding edible sortof-Chinese food wherever I am living is important to me. Which is why this post focuses on two "Chinese" restaurants in Yuma. First, Yuma Palace: The last time I posted about this location, it was called Grand China, so it is still a large traditional Americanized Chinese restaurant space. This picture just shows part of the half of the restaurant where the current management seats people most days: The other restaurant is named Asian Gourmet (do not confuse it with Asian Star): When I moved to town, AG was called The Fortune Cookie. Then it became another location for Highway 95 Café. After a long slow decline, the ownership changed (though some of the old crew are still around), and the restaurant was remodeled and given a new name. Here's a shot of the new interior: I like eating out for lunch, so I love lunch specials. Asian Gourmet has 20 different ones (currently $6.55 or $7.55). Yuma Palace offers more choice – around 40 options – at $6.25 or $6.99. All of them come with rice (white, brown, or fried) and a cup of soup.
Yuma Palace offers four different soups. Egg drop: Wonton: Miso: or hot and sour: The egg drop has a good broth and plenty of egg. Although the wonton soup broth is good, the filling reminds me of hamburger more than traditional porky mystery meat. The miso is pretty standard with some miso flavor and a fair amount of tofu. The hot and sour is spicy and assertive.
At Asian Gourmet you can choose one of two with your lunch. Egg drop: or hot and sour: The egg drop is a particular favorite of mine with a rich broth and some vegetables along with the egg. Compared to Yuma Palace, the hot and sour is less strongly flavored, but has more complexity.
It's interesting to compare lunch specials from the two restaurants. Here is mix veg shrimp from Asian Gourmet: And rainbow shrimp from Yuma Palace: While the shrimp taste fresh and well-prepared at both places and the range of vegetables is similar, the portion size is larger at Yuma Palace. Of course, at Asian Gourmet, the specials come with a fried wonton and eggroll.
Here is the orange chicken from Asian Gourmet: And from Yuma Palace: There are some similarities. In both cases, the chicken was fried well. The differences, however, are more striking. At AG the chicken pieces are more uniformly sized and come with several steamed pieces of broccoli. I also loved the dice of fresh onion and bell pepper – extra texture and color. Again, the portion size at YP is larger, but the chicken pieces are more heavily breaded and the single broccoli floret looks very lonely on the plate. The sauce at YP, on the other hand, is much more strongly flavored with bits of orange peel and charred dried chili throughout.
Since YP offers more choices, I have more pictures of their specials. When I'm feeling like a vegetable, I can have garlic sauce on either eggplant: or string beans: While the Thai curry chicken doesn't really remind me of an authentic Thai curry, it is nicely crunchy, very spicy, and curry flavored: Even though I don't quite understand having rice alongside a noodle dish, YP offers some noodly specials. Here’s lo mein with pork: A little greasy for my taste, but I happily ate it all.
The phad thai special: Okay, but not real good.
Noodles, on the other hand, are a specialty at Asian Gourmet. I think their phad thai is the best in town with pretty much the right taste and a pleasant complexity of flavors and textures: The house combo lo mein is pretty standard but also pretty good: Chow Kueh Teoh, a Malaysian seafood noodle dish, is simple but very tasty. The egg, squid, shrimp, and mussels come together nicely: Noodle soups are also featured on the menu at AG. Here is the roast pork with wonton noodles soup: I like the broth, and the wontons and vegetables are fine. Sadly the char siu slices are dry and chewy, but this filling bowl of soup is only $.26 more than a lunch special.
The seafood tom yam noodle soup is very tasty and very spicy: To my gringo palate, this tastes like authentic tom yum soup broth with distinct chile hot and lemon grass sour flavors, a lot of noodles, and some seafood and veggies.
The coconut curry noodle soup has a lightly spicy, rich and mellow curry broth: Along with the pieces of fried tofu, chicken chunks, shrimp, and some veggies hide amidst the spaghetti like noodles.
One can also have the a similar Curry flavored sauce (or teriyaki) on a bowl of noodles (or rice) either with just mixed vegetables – as in this picture – or with barbecued pork, jumbo shrimp, or teriyaki chicken: Actually cheaper than a lunch special.
At current prices, all of the noodles I've pictured are well under $10 – that’s a good deal to me. For just a few additional shekels, you can get this beautiful “Julianne Pan-Fried Noodle": The crunchy golden nest holds a nice combination of beef, chicken, shrimp, and assorted vegetables in a mild sauce. As well prepared as the somewhat similar dish at China Max.
Yuma Palace, on the other hand, also has some real strengths. It has a liquor license, so you can get basic beer, wine, or cocktails. It has enough room for sizable group of people. It also has a lot of choices and a wider range of "Chinese" dishes. While the egg rolls have never impressed, other appetizers, like the sesame pork ribs, are pretty tasty: The sauce was a bit sweet and a touch too syrupy, but we ate every piece.
They have standards items like mushu, or shrimp in lobster sauce, or this double cooked pork: Tina and I also enjoy the black bean shrimp:and the Hunan chicken: YP also features some sauces unusual in Yuma. Here is shrimp in sacha sauce: and cumin sauce with beef: Yeah, I wish it were cumin sauce with lamb, but still a tasty dish.
Also notice the variations of veggies in each of these YP entrees.
Along with standard fried rices, they offer a pineapple and seafood version: or this house special: Bear in mind, however, that Yuma Palace launches a few duds. Avoid the homestyle bean curd with its dense chewy tofu triangles: and the crispy sesame tofu was god-awful – not crispy, not flavorful, just cloyingly sweet. Similarly, the Japanese offerings are (at best) hit or miss. Here's a Bento box: The picture largely speaks for itself . Still way better than Asian Star.
The sushi and sashimi lunch special looks okay, and would probably be fine if bathed in enough wasabi/soy sauce, but . . . (I am picky about sushi). Also a bit confusing for me putting this post together is that the online/to go menu isn't identical to the one in the restaurant. Not sure why that is.
Asian Gourmet, though having a smaller menu and mercifully no attempts at Japanese cuisine, does prepare a range of standards such as a decent twice cooked pork: a fresh tasting champagne fish with some complexity in its sweetish sauce: and a pretty boring moo goo gai pan (called mushroom chicken on the menu): My favorite entrée at AG is pattaya shrimp. This picture shows why: The plentiful shrimps have good flavor, complemented by numerous chunks of fresh pineapple, abundant slices of onions, bits of dried shrimp and whole dried chilies. The sweet tangy chili sauce brings it all together.
I am glad both of these restaurants are in Yuma. Their cuisines (and ambience) are markedly different from the simple Mexicali/Cantonese of Yummy Yummy. It is interesting to me that none of these three are typical old school ABCDE places – though they all certainly cater to Americanized Yuma tastes.
If you have read this post all the way to the end, I want to thank you for your patience and persistence.
I also want to wish every reader Happy Holidays and remind everyone that the 2015 Somerton Tamale Festival will take place on December 19 in Somerton Arizona. It’s certainly the biggest food event in Yuma County, and you won't believe the quality and variety of the tamales – muy rico!!
Ed (from Yuma) revisits a restaurant in Yuma today. Kirk and Cathy are happily doing something else.
I feel like it's time for me to start posting about the Chinese/Asian restaurants in town again because things have been changing. In fact, the only local Chinese restaurant that over the years really hasn't changed (well except for higher prices) is a favorite of mine, Yummy Yummy, a Mexicali style Cantonese hole in the wall that is still doing well.
On the other hand, back in 2011 when I first posted about it, Asian Star was a stylish new restaurant with a sophisticated space, SGV type service, and generally good Chinese, Thai, and Japanese food. Since then, however, I heard that they lost their chef and I had two poor meals, so I had not wanted to go back until their latest menu arrived in the mail and piqued my interest. Okay, time to check it out again.
The exterior is unchanged:
The ambience and decor are still pleasant:
I decided to start with lunch specials that all come with your choice of soups. The egg drop is properly eggy:
The hot and sour soup was balanced and flavorful:
The miso soup had little miso flavor, but a lot of little tofu cubes, a few pieces of seaweed, and a nice light broth:
When the Phad Thai lunch special landed in front of me, I was kind of amazed by the weirdly pink tone of the noodles:
Okay, I guess. Mostly sweet and hot. Not a great version of the dish, lacking the complexity and interplay among the various elements of excellent Phad Thai. On the other hand, I was pleased by the sizable amount of tender chicken, shrimps, and fried egg that were hiding under the noodles:
The shrimp and vegetable lunch special looked pretty normal:
There was a nice selection of vegetables, but the mushrooms and carrots seemed undercooked while the shrimp were overcooked and dried out. Not terrible, but overall meh.
Here is a shrimp tempura bento box:
Those two cubes in the middle of the box had a pleasant seafoody flavor and a faux scallop texture. The best part of the lunch.
In the upper right corner was shrimp and vegetable "tempura":
Except for being deep-fried, this has little relationship to real tempura. The vegetables were heavily breaded and a bit greasy. I liked the juiciness of the mushroom and the freshness of the zucchini slice. On the other hand, the thin slices of eggplant and carrot were lost in fried batter. The shrimp had a bit of Panko crunch, but were desiccated and flavorless.
Look at the salad:
The ice cold iceberg lettuce tasted like crunchy cold water. The dressing was mostly pure gloppy goo without much redeeming flavor. For some reason, every time I look at this picture I think about the last time our dog was sick.
Even the rice was disappointing: Odorless, flavorless, and chalky.
The worst component of the meal, the California roll, actually looked promising:
Pick up a piece, add a touch of wasabi, dip one corner into soy sauce, pop into the mouth, chew, and begin to swallow – and then OMG, the overwhelming taste and odor of foul ammonia throughout the mouth and nose. Yuck!
Without question, the worst California roll I have ever tasted.
In the worst bento box I have ever been served.
Your results might differ – for your sake, I hope so. But I have no plans to return.
I do not enjoy badmouthing local eateries. However, . . .
mmm-yoso is primarily a food blog. Kirk posts the most here, and Cathy also posts often. But today Ed (from Yuma) posts about a new eatery (in Yuma).
The late summer and early fall are good times to launch new restaurants here in river city; it gives them some time to practice their craft before the influx of winter visitors and ag workers. One interesting new venue is The Press, featuring soup, salad, and pressed sandwiches.
Located on W 24th St. between Vista Moving and Mayflower Moving – the restaurant is kind of hard to find. The signage is at the eastern edge of the parking lot, so the cars in this photo are not on the property:
and the building itself is totally nondescript:
Inside, however, it’s unique. A lot of comfortable chairs and dark wood tables:
Empty coffee sacks (as well as acoustic ceiling tile) keep the noise level reasonable and make this a nice place for conversation:
There's usually some pleasant music (reggae or Beatles or such like) lightly playing in the background. They provide free Wi-Fi and two comfortable chairs and a couch for people who want to hang out, drink coffee, do homework or even grade papers:
Along with bottled water and some sodas, three kinds of coffee and real iced tea are available:
True to the name of the restaurant, one other beverage choice, the sweet and cacao flavored Mayan tea arrives at your table in a press:
Standard procedure is to grab the menu and look at the daily soup or fruit choice – and any specials on the blackboard behind the cash register. That's where you place your order:
The menu is both simple and clear:
You can choose from a number of different salads or pressed sandwiches for $7.95. The sandwiches come with your choice of chips, pasta salad, or fruit. On my first visit I had the Yuman sandwich with fruit:
On that day the fruit was a sliced half of a ripe pear, which was a real joy.
The sandwich itself was pretty good. A few slices of deli turkey, bacon, and avocado covered with a lot of goopy avocado dressing:
The herbed focaccia bread had a lot of flavor, but the texture of the bread itself was not outstanding. More like supermarket focaccia than Italian bakery focaccia.
For that reason, I like to pair half a sandwich with either soup or salad ($7.95). Here's a Telegraph sandwich with an excellent lemon chicken soup with orzo:
The sandwich had some sliced chicken, tasty roasted red peppers, cheese and guacamole:
Half an egg salad sandwich (the Bantam) with clam chowder:
This was a very tasty combination. The herbed egg salad has a nice rosemary flavor and the clam chowder was different from most chowders. I could detect no salt pork/bacon taste, nor any cream. There were abundant tender clams, but the spuds dominated, adding chunkiness and thickness and a true potato taste.
If you want half a sandwich with a salad, you can choose any of the sandwiches and any of the salads. I loved both the Cobb salad and the Italian sandwich on this plate:
The Cobb came with a blue cheese vinaigrette – here's what it looked like before I dug into it:
The sandwich was a good rendition of an old favorite – nicely flavored pepperoni and salami, a small slice of provolone cheese, a couple of tomato slices, and red onions and banana peppers. It also came with Italian dressing. The meats and spices worked together and made the whole sandwich very flavorful:
Also for $7.95, you can combine a cup of soup with half-size portion of any of the salads on the menu. I thoroughly enjoyed the garden salad balanced with cream of asparagus soup:
The soup was creamy and very savory, with long thin pieces of asparagus spear adding texture. The garden salad was also excellent. The mix of romaine and baby lettuces provided an excellent background to the chopped tomatoes, zucchini slices, shredded carrot, green pepper pieces, and rings of red onion. The Italian vinaigrette served on the side had just the right note of red wine vinegar to highlight the flavors of the greens and veggies.
Here is the krab bisque with a Blue Holler salad:
It's hard not to like apple chunks, blue cheese crumbles, Craisins, and toasted slivered almonds on a mix of greens accompanied by balsamic vinaigrette.
The bisque was mild, rich, and sweet flavored. It was also full of shreds of surimi:
While The Press may not be everybody's cup of coffee – I enjoy it a lot. My only gripe would be that it is sometimes a hassle for us older folks to have to get up to grab napkins or a pepper shaker, particularly when the place is busy. On the other hand this is one of those great little restaurants where the owners are personally involved with the operation, and their attention to detail shows up again and again in the food and ambience.
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.
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