Mission Ave. Bar and Grill ~ Oceanside

So, side stepping politics, and there are a lot right now in Oceanside’s food world. Mission Ave bar and grill has a new Chef. Chef Daniel Luevano.

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Chef and owner. Good feeling about this:)

It has been a while since I stepped into Mission Ave., for some reasons, but there is a freshness. You can feel it. I have talked with Chef Dan 3 times now and think he is a good fit. He seems passionate, energetic, and right for the business.

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So, again menu is new. This was his take on Crab Rangoon. Instead of cream cheese, he used Avocado. Which was smart. It added that cream texture but freshened it as well. Also perfectly deep-fried, yet all the internal elements were perfectly handled. I really did not need the aioli.

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Perfect Rib-eye. Funny enough, I was more fascinated with the potatoes and the chimichurri. This was probably a tie with my favorite chimichurri (Davin makes a great one) this one was not acidic and had a great balance of garlic. Plus the potatoes, which should be an after thought….nope, so good. Of course perfect steak, it was just the surrounding things that surprised me.

If, you have not been for a while I would revisit…

seriously:)

 

Mission Ave. Bar and Grill

711 Mission Ave., Oceanside

#food #foodporn #oceanside

 

 

The Kettle Room @ Ballast Point 2nd Take

Words & Pictures bt Justin Kunert.

Buried behind beer bars and brewing equipment lies Ballast Point’s fine dining experience, the Kettle Room.  It seems weird to call this a hidden gem, given its location at one of the most popular breweries in San Diego.  But after swimming through the crowd of thirsty folk and busy servers, Chris and I found ourselves behind huge sliding glass doors in a dimly lit room, only accompanied by the three skeletons below.

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The Kettle Room greeting crew

And just like that, we were the only ones in the whole place.  Given the speakeasy vibe and lack of clientele, it felt like I was in on some secret that the rest of San Diego hadn’t caught on to.  It was a cozy spot set in the heart of the brewing area.  Here was the view from our table.

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Piles and piles of malted barley

I accepted the honor of ordering beer, and Chris handled the food.  The Kettle Room offers a concise menu focused on quality over quantity, with options for a prix fixe menu with or without beer pairings

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Slider (tart wheat ale), and the Sea Rose (cherry wheat ale).  The Habanero Sculpin is a favorite of mine and was a good way to start the meal.  The Biere de Garde had hints of both a Belgium style and a Saison.  I really enjoyed the Red-Eared Slider, it was tart, refreshing, with lots of carbonation – perfect for the start of summer.  We paired the sea rose with our dessert, it went well with the food, but otherwise this beer would probably be too sweet and fruity for me.

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The Biere de Garde and the Red-Eared Slider

As Chris mentioned in his article, this was truly an exceptional dining experience.  The service was incredible, the food was unlike anything I had ever had, and the beer was the perfect complement to round out the meal.  So next time you find yourself at Ballast Point in Little Italy.

tossing back a few beers and munching on pretzel bites, remember the culinary marvel hiding away in the back and go give it a try.

*editors note..this is why you have a second person, they pick up on things you miss:) Thanks, Justin.

The Kettle Room

2215 India St
San Diego, CA

 

#food #foodporn #beer

 

608’s 1 year mark ~ Oceanside.

There are lots of posts coming but this deserves dibs:)

Where to begin? Chef Willy Eick is probably one of the best Chef’s I have ever met. That is not a slight to anyone else. I have just spent time talking with him enough to know. A. how much he cares, B his skill level, C, his desire to continue getting better, and D, probably the best plating skills I have seen. Also, I understand this all subjective. Yet, I am comfortable with my praise of him.

This is just going to be pics. This was $25 …really. Go find better food for that price.

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Squash Blossom with shrimp stuffing.

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Beets and mushroom. Long live beets:) Under-rated veg.

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Scallops, broccoli ( he loves brocoli for some reason) The star, other than perfect scallops were the little squash…no, really, they were.

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I was just done at this time. Great dessert, could have used a sauce? That is just me:)

This guy is one of the true. You do not just get this talent you are born with it.

608

608 Mission Ave., Oceanside

#food #foodporn #oceanside #608

 

The Kettle Room @ Ballast Point ~ San Diego

Some time the best laid plans go to waste and you discover something new. Originally me and Justin, beer contributor for North County Food, were going to a beer dinner at Biga. It was cancelled, so I rallied and have been wanting to check out The Kettle Room. Basically the Ballast point brewery opened a fine dining room in the back of their place. Probably seats 30ish. We were the only 2 there on Sunday. This is probably one of my favorite dinning experiences of my life. Food . service, atmosphere. I do not say that lightly.

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The adventure begins.

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That mural, that art, is insane. It is vinyl “I had to touch it” This just made me happy.

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To our backs, basically we are sitting in the heart of the beast.

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There was lots of beer:)

We had the whole place to our selves. It was like a private dinner. Service was on point, food on point. This cost me $100 with tip, I would have paid 3 times as much.

On to food.

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Grilled Octopus ~ Ramp Kimchi, 3-Herb Salad, Peanut Crisp.

This is probably the best octopus dish I have ever had. I know, but honestly it was so good.

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Mussels ~ Normally not a huge fan of mussels. This dish changed me. I had the Chef come out at the end of the meal because the broth was so good and I wanted to pick his brain. I was expecting “we boil down fish bones for 18 hours…” Nope, he was like”lots of butter” Again so good.

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See, told you.

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Halibut. Perfectly cooked, perfectly sweet, simple but not simple.

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rhubarb w/ doughnut. Not a huge dessert person but this was great.

I wish I had better menu descriptions but it changes all the time. I should have stolen the menu:) What I can say is this is in my top 5 dinning experiences. It is not just about the food it is when everything comes together. Food, service, atmosphere. The Langham when Micheal Voltaggio was there, Saam by Jose Andres, and The Mansion at the MGM, and now the Kettle Room, and I’ll hold the last one.

Highly recommend going.

The Kettle Room @Ballast Point

2215 India St, San Diego,

#food #foodporn #beer

Crack Shack ~ Encinitas

The Crack Shack Encinitas, located at 407 Encinitas Blvd., is the second incarnation of the fast casual chicken restaurant by Michael Rosen and Richard Blais. Richard Blais is probably best known for his appearances on Top Chef as well as owning San Diego’s Juniper an Ivy.

The Encinitas location used to be Coco’s. With extensive remodeling I believe nothing remains of the former structure other than support beams and foundation.

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Hard to miss a giant chicken.

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The interior is one large open room with a large wrap around bar. They serve beer, wine, and liquor.

It is a fast casual order system. You order at a window outside near the entrance and food is then brought to your table.

They serve a number of sandwiches, fried chicken, salads, and a few odd ball items like Mexican poutine, deviled eggs, and matzo ball pasole.

When I first tried the Crack Shack at their little Italy location I declared it to be the best chicken sandwich I had ever had. While this time it was not that much of a life changing moment, it was still damn good.

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G-Bird and Firebird

The G-Bird ~ Chicken breast, shishito pepper relish, swiss, romaine, tomato, whole wheat brioche.

This was my favorite of the two. Really fresh tasting. I think the shishito pepper relish added a lot of flavor. Chicken was moist and beautiful

Firebird ~ Spicy fried thigh, cool ranch, pickles, crispy onions, potato roll.

Not very spicy and the crispy fried onions became wet limp onions. Still tasty chicken and the pickles are a smart addition.

The sandwiches are not pretty ( don’t be sandwich hating) but are tasty.

So, the plan was to have a friend come with me so I could show you guys two sandwiches. She could not make it so I ordered two and figured I’d take half of each home. Yeah, that didn’t happen. Lots of walkies tomorrow.

If you have not been I would check them out. They get busy so best to go off hours. I went at 1:30 ish on a Thursday and it was slow. They open at 9am but serve full menu.

They are expanding, to Costa Mesa I believe. This is a money-maker, best of luck to them.

The Crack Shack

407 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas

#food #foodporn #friedchicken #encinitas

 

 

The Roosevelt ~ Carlsbad

The Roosevelt is an Italian style gourmet Pizzeria located on, funnily enough, Roosevelt street in Carlsbad. It is owned by Hector Reyna who helms the kitchen along with his son Stephen, you may know Stephen as former head Chef of the Privateer.

The Roosevelt is a little off the beaten path. The best way to find it is to find Pizza Port in Carlsbad and then walk on by it to The Roosevelt.

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Almost there just keep going. Walk on by, nope, walk on by. You’ll be glad you did.

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There, you found it. 3067 Roosevelt St. Carlsbad.

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Simple, modern interior. Seats about 60? Plus a patio.

The Roosevelt serves Classic Italian with a twist. A farm to table mentality with almost everything made in-house.

The menu features salads, veggie dishes, piatti like meatballs, lasagna, stuffed shells, and of course pizza.

I started with the caprese…

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Caprese ~ Mozzalrella, basil, local tomato, olive oil, balsamic.

I love caprese. It is a simple flavor combination that is just perfect. Because it is so simple the ingredients have to be top-notch. These were. You can tell a cheap mozzarella a mile away. it should be like this, soft and creamy. Also tomatoes at room temperature, as they should be. A+

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Carlsbad Pie ~ Tomato, hen of the woods mushrooms, garlic, black olive, mozzarella, and an add-on of their house made sausage.

A pizza requires a great crust, a great sauce, and great cheese, otherwise it falls apart. It is like culinary Jenga.

The crust was perfect, crispy yet still light and fluffy. The sauce is so light with a slight acidity that works off the sweetness of the dough. I love Hen Of The Woods (Maitake) mushrooms. The in-house sausage was great, yay no nitrates.

OK, cheese. If you are used to shredded cheese being spread all over your pizza, this is not that. This is slices of mozzarella that melt. Think of it as a topping and not a base.

Prices are reasonable for the quality you are getting. I would say almost a steal. My pizza was $13 plus $3 for the additional sausage. A Papa Johns large sausage pizza is $18 and should never be eaten. *if you are extremely drunk you get a pass on that decision.

We have a lot of great pizza in North County take advantage.

The Roosevelt

3067 Roosevelt St. Carlsbad

#food #foodporn #pizza #italianfood #carlsbad

Pokewan Plus Some Coming Soon News ~ Carlsbad.

First up Pokewan then coming soon news.

So while waiting for a restaurant to open I was took a stroll around Carlsbad.

I headed over to see if Pokewan, Blue Ocean’s fast casual poke concept, had opened yet.

Turns out it has….

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Pokewan ~ 2953 Madison St. #101, Carlsbad

Pokewan is one in a list of fast casual poke places that has opened up in North County in the last year and a half or so.

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As per standard, you pick the size of your bowl. base, add ons, toppings, sauce. Its like subway with poke.

The interior is a clean design with touches of whimsy. I really liked it. Even though I was about to go to dinner I decided to grab a small bowl.

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See clean with whimsy. There was more whimsy I just did not take pictures of it, one can only handle so much.

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Small poke bowl ~ Salmon, albacore, lots of ginger, avocado, wonton crisps, and lots of other stuff. the one thing I did, which I recommend, was get the cucumber spaghetti as a base. It adds a nice vinegar touch and lightens the bowl up.

Another thing I will add is being attached to a sushi bar adds a lot to the freshness and selection of fish available.

Forgoing restaurants that do poke, I would rank the fast casual poke places thusly…

Pokewan ~Wicked Poke ~ Poki Poki

It is very close, no one is light years ahead of the others. I just give Pokewan the edge due to the fish.

On a note do not contact me with the spelling of Poke or Poki. I know the difference and there is no real answer it’s all grey area depending on who you talk to. I spell it how the restaurant spells it. It’s a losing battle for you and a waste of my time and yours.

Pokewan

2953 Madison St. #101 Carlsbad

Coming Soon (ish)

So, while walking around Carlsbad village I came across these two projects in development.

The building at 2833 state st. (right near the transit station) has a restaurant called Shorehouse Kitchen coming in. No idea on style of food.

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2833 State st. Carlsbad.

Next up is a little more interesting. The space just south of the new Barrel Republic has a gourmet doughnut shop going in. I talked with the Husband of the Wife and Daughter team who will be running it. He is doing all the build out and from what I saw and what he described it should be a really nice spot for doughnut in or doughnut to go. Plans for a July 4th opening.

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Home to future gourmet doughnut shop.

Also, at 3135 Tyler home of offshore crossfit. That building will become either a brewery or distillery (please be a distillery). The City Council has to approve rezoning but since the Mayor of Carlsbad owns the building you wanna put bets on that passing:)

The above is a rumor but from a good source with a business in that area.

There you have it lots going on in Carlsbad.

608’s Tasting Menu in Photos ~ 608 Oceanside.

Here is Chef Willy’s 7 coarse tasting menu in photographs.

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The tasting menu is available Thursdays thru Sundays.

$65 pp and there is a vegetarian option available. Recently a 3 coarse version has been added.

608

608 Mission Ave Oceanside

#foofporn #food #tastingmenu

 

Himalayan Kitchen ~ Encinitas

I was so excited when I came across this place. Great Himalayan food in North County…YAY! I was having to sneaking down to San Diego’s Himalayan Dinning Inn every month.

Himalayan cuisine encompasses food from the countries of India, Bangladesh, and my favorite Nepal. Though a lot of the ingredients are similar, the meats and spices will vary from country to country.

In India you see more curries and hotter spice levels. Nepali cuisine in general uses different spicing and is usually more mild.

That is why I love a restaurant like Himalayan Kitchen that can do these different variations on dishes and do them well.

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Himalayan Kitchen 1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas (sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

Before the food let me mention the staff, I was so impressed. Professional, cortiouse, and friendly. Two of the staff were new. First day I think? They handled a lunch rush better than I have seen trained wait staff.

The other thing is they were very informative. I am not the normal customer. I do research. I actually read the menu a few times online, looked stuff up, and like most cases know what I’m getting before I come in. The other customers on the hand, had generally no idea what anything was. The staff was great in walking them through it. The other thing I thought was great was a lot of the customers sayed ” we saw you and wanted to learn more about this kind of food”. That was great to hear.

On to food……………

I love Momo. “Its kind of like a Gyoza or Chinese steamed dumpling” or that is what people would have you believe…it’s not. Because of whats inside, the spices, plus a slight lightness to the dough it is a Momo, or as I call them little packets of love.

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Vegetarian Momo ~ minced cabbage, spinach, cashews, nuts, paneer, onion, cilantro, green onion, and spices.

what does that filling look like?

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That is what love looks like.

Seriously, so much flavor. Great mix of spices. Slight heat at the back. They also come in chicken and lamb. As much of a carnivore I am, I suggest going with the vegetable ones.

Momo is one of the most popular snack foods and is sold on almost every street corner in cities in Nepal. With good reason.

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Himalayan Biryani ~ Vegetables, paneer, Tandori cooked lamb, Tandori cooked chicken, shrimp, Himalayan spices.

Loved this dish. The rice was perfect, every grain was separate, had seasoning, and the right tooth. All three proteins, perfect seasoning, and tenderness. This is a huge portion. You could easily order Momos 🙂 and two entrees for 3 people.

They have heat levels much like a Thai restaurant. Their heat levels are honest. I ordered an 8, they warned me and suggested a 7. The 7 had heat that built with the dish as you ate through it. I could have done an 8 and will next time, but be warned the first time round down 1.

There are, at least, over 60 versions of this dish in the Himalayas. Just depends where you are what spices and proteins will be involved. In the more northern reasons you will see nuts and raisins for example, like this version. While it reminded me of paellea, unlike that dish these ingredients are cooked separately and then assembled.

Quickly, on the menu are over 51 items as mains, many are vegetarian. Field day for vegetarians man. If you are gluten-free plenty of vegetables and they did find a man who was there while I was some crackers as well.

Also great lunch specials ~ two curries, rice, lentil, soup and bread $7.95 to $11.95 depending on what curries.

It is not an Indian restaurant, it is a Himalayan restaurant. You will find some familiar dishes but many new ones as well….and Momos.

Wheeew, lots to say but it’s because I loved this little place. I think this and El Chapin were my two favorite strip mall restaurant finds in the last 8 months or so. I already knew about Irinas’a so they do not count.

Strip mall restaurant is the political correct term for hole in the wall:)

Himalayan Kitchen

1337 Encinitas Blvd. Encinitas

(sprouts shopping center corner of Encinitas and El Camino )

#indian #himalayan #nepal #food #foodfinds.

Petite Madeline Bakery & Bistro / Catering Done Right ~ Oceanside

So, let me start off by first saying if you are going to cater in Oceanside anymore , I’m going to throw in Taste of Oceanside as catering as well for sake of discussion, you have to bring your A game. The reason is other Chefs are bringing theirs and if you don’t you will not compete. These events, whether it be a catering gig for the city or an event like Taste of Oceanside or Feast, are basically a food business card, a first introduction, and when restaurants like Petite Madeline, 608, LTH, and more are bringing fresh shucked oysters, frog legs, and scratch made desserts a pizza or a cut up sandwich are not going to even register with people. If you are a pizza or sandwich shop I get it it’s what you do, I would just bring the absolute best you have and bring personality not people just handing out samples. This is more directed at restaurants who I see again and again half assing it or not putting an importance on the events..

Luckily that is not the case with Petite Madeline. Every event I have been to that they cater is phenomenal. Christine, and in this case Chef Marc, get it. I guarantee she breaks even or loses money when she caters events. She understands it is marketing.

The event I attended Saturday was held at the Oceanside Public Library. It featured People of different backgrounds speaking to their experience as Immigrants living in Oceanside / San Diego as well as the history of immigration in our area. It was really interesting and I wish the speakers were given more time.

The event was catered by Chef Marc of Petite Madeline. He did a great job of producing food that spoke to the subject matter being discussed by doing some great asian fusion dishes.

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Art on a plate.

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To start a play on Chicken Asada served on what I believe is a shrimp chip.

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Unagi Adobada ~ Unagi, sushi rice, wasabi micro greens, shiso leaf.

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Daikon and Quail ~ Quail tempura, grated daikon radish, miso dressing, red chili and tamarind sauce.

I loved this dish it also had a perfectly cooked quail egg and mushroom. The balance and textures were spot on.

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Chawan-Mushi ~ Custard eggs, enoki mushrooms, lotus root crisps, gingered-coconut snail, carrots, and ginko nuts.

A beautiful and interesting dish (in a good way).

See that is how you cater an event. Every dish was unique and worked well in a catering setting. This was served and plated at the front desk area of the library. Everything worked at the temperature it was served and people went back for seconds. The library received a grant to hold these events, whom ever caters the next one has big shoes to fill..

Or you could have this….

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At least make it cute…

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Panda Sandwiches FTW.

Thought it might be interesting to show his prep list and prep to show how Chefs work…

 

Petite Madeline Bakery & Bistro

223 North Coast Highway, Oceanside

#food #foodporn #petitemadeline #oceanside #Filipinofood