Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Its a bird , Its a superhero, its the 94th aero squadron!

I occasionally browse Jim's Sunday Brunch Website which is truly an amazing repository of pictures and reviews of nearly every brunch in San Diego. They range from buffets to menu brunches that all come with wonderful all you can drink champagne.

So last weekend i decided i wanted some brunch and dragging my girlfriend out of the room we left for the 94th Aero Squadron.

The restaurant itself is located just along the street of Balboa Ave, and it is surrounded by a bunch of small business buildings. But you can't really miss the restaurant cause it'll be the only parking lot PACKED with cars on a Sunday morning. Before you walk in you can smell the meat inside the place, i got was more excited than a kid before Christmas.

But the excitement quickly went away when i was told (at 10:45) that i have to wait 30-45 minutes for a table. =(
BUT my excitement quickly came back when it only took us a 10-15 minute wait before they seated us!

We hurried over to the food area and was greeted with Egg Benedicts, huge sausage and bacon pieces, Roasted Chicken, Home Fried Potatoes, Fish, Scrambled Eggs and many more.Delicious! everything was great! bacon was fatty, eggs were scrambly (haha) , and the chicken was extremely moist.
at the end of this heating tray line was a carving station!
There was Roast Beef, Roast Turkey, and Lamb.
I didn't try the beef/turkey since i rarely have good experiences with them at any carving station so i just got the lamb. Bad Choice!
Luckily they have a great omelet/fajita bar

(far left they have waffles, tasty little morsels they are). They give you a bunch of different choices for the omelette's and fajitas (same choices). I usually get my omelet a little bit on the undercooked side and this thing came STUFFED. Most omelet bars are very very stingy with the ingredients but they stuff this puppy up fatter than uh.. me at an all you can eat buffet *sheepish*
Oddly enough one of my favorite things there was the Bread Table. When i say bread table i mean a table LITTERED with bread.
They have muffins, bagels, white bread, sourdough bread, and my favoriteeeeeeeeee buttery croissant. The croissants were SO good. Moist and flaky all in the same bite. I had to avoid stuffing myself with bread because of the main attraction!
Crab legs. Tons and TONS of crab legs. The best part? TONS OF CRAB CLAWS!!! Yes i love crab claws. They tasted pretty fresh not like the crappy crab legs you get at chinese buffets where they taste so salty and old *yuck*.

my only problem with these legs was that they didn't pre-slice them! These things were not that easy to open.

Finally we get to the dessert! This was probably one of the larger dessert spreads i've seen at a buffet, especially a buffett as inexpensive as this one.
The cheesecakes you see here are actually multiplied on the other side of the table with other assorted flavors. I felt like i was at the Cheesecake factory! I had the oreo cheesecake cause you can't go wrong with Oreo. I'll eat Oreo anything, Oreo Milkshakes, Oreo Cereal, Oreo Muffins, Oreo bread, Oreo with fried chicken (i told you i'd eat it Oreo anything!).

94th Aero Squadron also had my favorite dessert in the world. Creme Brulee! Tons and tons of creme brulee. Which...... sadly is my downfall *tear*. The Creme brulee was just a little solid, nice and creamy MAN I WANT MORE!
They also had a crepe suzette station and a chocolate fountain! Nice big strawberries and bananas. With that type of chocolate that hardens just enough so you get a lil bite to your fruit!

This is where all the kids are at, the kids will be standing there dipping plates and plates of strawberries into the fountain. I even saw a little kid dip a churro inside. (i forgot to try that).

Sadly, the obsession with the chocolate fountain and fruit is not only for little kids. If you can count these sticks you can see how many the other member(s) of my party ate. =)

Overall i HIGHLY enjoyed this brunch. For 21.99$ you get all you can drink champagne, delicious crab legs , shrimp, mussels, fresh bread, huge omelette's, a wide variety of desserts, and a very nice ambiance. I do suggest that you make a reservation beforehand cause parties after us were not so lucky when it came to being seated quickly.

p.s. if anyone wants to go feel free to give me a call =P or if you give me a ride to and from the airport on the dates April 4th at 11am and April 8th at 3pm i'll treat you to it the next sunday!

94th Aero Squadron
8885 Balboa Ave
San Diego, CA 92123

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I guess this relates to food?

Tomorrow i have waiting for me freshly peeled (by my expert hands) shrimp which i hope to drizzle with olive oil, pamper with salt, and caress with pepper. But what will i do with it?

Pan frying just seems so sticky and yucky sometimes, it leaves that little bit of oily guck at the bottom of the pan. Since i dont want to turn on the grill outside, i want something affordable. Purchasing a grill pan is no problem with Amazon Prime, its do i really NEED one?

I need a grill pan.
Actually, scratch the Need.

I WANT a grill pan. My only problem is i fear using a cast iron grill pan. I don't want to waste my money and buy an aluminum grill pan since that doesn't hold well, but i'm afraid i won't be able to season the pan right with a cast iron grill.
(btw kathy you are right i should have just bought it at Ross)

Bleh. maybe i'll just stick to pan fryin.

Sigh i guess every post requires a picture since this post currently is nothing more than a rant. So i'll morph it into a rant that precedes my preview of my next post!

(This post is rated D for delicious)
(Clayfu Productions)

A story of a couple waking up in the early sunday morning (10am). Battling among a giant force (the crowd) to sooth their ROARING stomaches. Only one thing stands in their way.

Coming Soon to a website near you.

Friday, March 23, 2007

6ix Park grill.

Yesterday my friends and I participated in the Interactive Alumni activity with Mr. Thomas of Gibson, Dunn, & Crutcher.

Our gracious host took us to the 6ix Park Grill at the Irvine Hyatt. The workings of Yves Fournier formerly of the Rainbow room blend fresh ingredients with innovative California Cuisine. Specifically, Fournier makes ample use of the apple wood grill that i assume is the reason for the restaurant name.

I'd like to find you all an online menu to look at, but there's nothing on their webpage =( But on to the food!

First to arrive was a bread basket filled with pieces of cracker bread with herbs and seasoning and warm sliced bread baked with rosemary.
I loved the rosemary bread, if it wasn't for the fact that i didn't want to look like a pig i would have eaten all of the bread that no one touched. *hangs head ashamed*.

Next we had a selection of salads, the two salads the majority of the table chose were the grilled Romaine Lettuce and the Endives with apples.

I personally had the grilled romaine lettuce. Two large romaine lettuce hearts lightly grilled on the previously mentioned applewood grill. There was a (i guess?) caesar dressing on the bottom. I could not get enough of this dish! i sadly ate all the dressing before i finished all the lettuce but the ends of the lettuce that were grilled a little extra longer were delicious. My friends ordered the endives with apples and blue cheese sauce. They said they loved it when we got back to the car. Each of the salads we ordered had grape tomatoes (red/yellow) that were extremely sweet. I want to go rob their kitchen and steal them all!

For the main course i had Filet Mignon
I didn't actually read the menu too carefully but from left to right we have shoe string onion rings, bitter greens topped with some type of grilled/baked fruit, and the filet itself.

The shoe string rings were so good. Crispy and well separated, i didn't feel as though i had to slurp them up cause they were too long.
The veggies in the middle, i avoided, it was just too bitter for me, i tried it a few times with the sauce that accompanied the Filet but it just didn't work out for me. Neither did the fruit up top.

The Filet i ordered at Rare, i think they may have given me the wrong dish, because i looked at my friend who ordered medium rare and his was significantly more red. But the Filet was extremely soft, if they didn't take my butter knife away after i gorged on the bread i would have tried to cut it with that!

For dessert i ordered the Creme Brulee Cheesecake. If you know me if the words "creme brulee" pop up anywhere on the menu i can't help myself but eat it =(
Luckily this time i didn't make a mistake. Think of a solidified Creme Brulee. It was melt in my mouth good. And the creme to the side just added that special extra touch. I want to box this up and use my enlarging ray so i can eat this forever. *YUM*

I liked the place, it had a good ambiance, not too pretentious and it had a very attentive wait staff (which i guess would be expected with your own room). The food was like your great California Cuisine, light and not overpowering. Ah California how i love you!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Finger lickin good!

Anyone that knows my eating habits knows i love a good piece of fried chicken. The difference in taste of fried chicken is probably one of the few things i actually am able to discern. So when i have bad fried chicken (Albertsons) and great fried chicken (some joint in North Carolina) i actually voice good or bad opinions.

But ever since my friends took me to Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles i've had a fascination with my <3 style="font-weight: bold;">Angelena's in Alhambra.

I know i know, a place that serves soul food in the midst of Tea station, Chinese BBQ, and Pho can't possibly be that great can it?

AH but to the contrary my dear Watson it was actually surprisingly delicious. Since they seemed to have only chicken and waffles at breakfast/brunch we went around 11am. I'm sure the parking gets pretty bad here later at night , but at 11am the lot itself was pretty empty.

When we arrived at our table, we were greeted by a nice bottle of hot sauce, syrup and ketchup.
Boy do i love Hotsauce, hot sauce on eggs and chicken? that is love. My girlfriend enjoyed the syrup very much, it wasn't too sticky nor was it too thick, "It didn't taste like Aunt Jemima's!".

To go with the syrup my gf ordered their breakfast special. Two eggs, Two Sausages/Bacon, and two pancakes.

Pretty decent sausage, it came in the patty form. Had almost a hint of maple on them which i llllllllllurrrrrrvvvvvv. Since my gf doesn't eat eggs to often i took them and at them! Very well cooked! when you pop the yolk it flows like the Yang Zhi river on a warn spring day.
She really enjoyed the pancakes. Some pancakes get all mushy in your mouth and you have to drink milk/water to wash it down, but they were buttery and pretty smooth (sounds like alcohol). Toss some syrup on it and you got yourself a meal.

I got the chicken and waffles, 2 golden pieces of fried chicken and a nice big waffle.
The Waffle itself wasn't AMAZING, but it was definitely better than Roscoe's or my daily Ego. I dont know why but the waffle tasted really good with some egg and sausage on it. the Fugriddle anyone? (McGriddle!)

But the real star of the show was the fried chicken
Two very thick, very juicy pieces of leg and thigh, fried to a nice golden color. The skin was thin, not so much batter that you feel as though all you were eating was fried batter. BUt man the spices they used were soooooooooo delicious. This was definitely some of the best "fried" skin i've had in a long long time.
When you bit into the chicken the juices just erupted out of it. It was probably the biggest fried chicken drumstick i've seen.

My girlfriend and i both agreed this was some truly amazing fried chicken. And when you add the hot sauce? OOOOOOHHHHHHHH MMYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODNESS SO GOOD.

I believe during dinner time (when one would be inclined to eat more) they serve 2-3 pieces of chicken with some rather large side orders for 10.
They also serve sweet tea and kool-aid! (of course, a pack of kool-aid is about 10cents, but i think its the novelty of having kool-aid at a restaurant that appeals to me).

So if you are ever driving down Main Street in Alhambra you should definitely give it a shot!

Angelena's Signature Southern Cuisine.
33 W. Main Street 91801

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bronx pizza

Who doesn't crave a nice slice of pizza every now and then? From thin crust to thick crust, from chicago deep dish to oily thin new york style pizza, everyone love pizza! Even people that hate cheese will eat pizza! that's how great it is!

Along the lines of New York Pizza perhaps the most popular and well known is Bronx's pizza off Washington in Hillcrest.

No nonsense (some may construe this as a symptom of assholitis) guys ready to take your order the moment you step in. (or call in)

Example of a call i placed this weekend:
Bronx: Bronx pizza
me: Can i get a white stone with sausage
Bronx: Aight Whitestone Sausage , 15$ 15 minutes. whatz yo name?
me: Charlie
Bronx: bye

BADABING! and deres yus go, gots yos self a slice of new york pie. (btw the pizza was a monster 18")

The shop itself is a small little hut. There's some street parking but DO NOT park in the plaza next to it, you will get towed.
You come into the store and you just see rows and rows of pizza! You order what you want (changes daily) and they pop it into the oven.
Bronx: Wats yu want
Me: tomato and garlic, and eggplant
bronx: $6
For six dollars you get two big ol slices of pizza and a soda.

After it comes out of the oven they just shout out the slice and you go on and pick it up, they have about 10 tables inside for you to sit at and enjoy the pizza.

pictured here is the whitestone/mushroom and tomato/garlic slices. The whitestone is their speciality. Its a combination of garlic, ricotta cheese, mozarella, with whatever topping they feel like putting on for the day (no tomato sauce!). The combination of the cheese is soooooooooo good.
The tomato garlic is also rather tasty, i want to order a whole whitestone/mushroom/tomato pie, i bet that'd be amazing.
My buddy got sausage and pepperoni , they use thin slices of sausages here. And Peppers (roasted red peppers), eggplant, and brocolli. My friend said the later was his favorite slice out of the two
My other friend got a real simple veggie pizza and sausage/pepperoni.
This pizza has a real NY style feel to it. It bends real nice so you can fold it but the crust is nice and crispy, just like my boy used to make it off broadway and 39th ya hear? (just kidding, i dont have a "boy" but i've had quite a bit of pizza in new york in my day) EAT IT LIKE A MANNN (like the domino commercial).

Anyways, if you want a quick fix for pretty close to authentic as you can get in SD for NY pizza then Bronx is the place for you.

Bronx Pizza
111 Washington Street
San Diego, CA 92103

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Adventures in LA with a real camera


On a trip back to Los Angeles my mom brought my brother, cousin, and I out to dinner before expanding our cultural horizons. From careful reviews and suggestions (aka my girlfriend) i picked up a hip and up and coming joint Minibar.

Located close to Universal Studios it serves a wide variety of small appetizer sized portions of food. Each dish ranges from about 8$ to 16$. I found that we ate about the average, 2 dishes per people to be shared among 4. (2+2+2+2= 8). They are also "known" for their selection of mixed drinks and cocktails, which range from 8-10$. From my personal experience, they are quite tasty! Just a little bit on the small side.

My girlfriend insisted on that i try the Bayou Empanadas (she has never had it). So my experience starts off by ordering the Empanadas so she could live vicariously through my tastebuds.

At $9 , the plate comes with two pretty large size empenadas. The empenada is stuffed with creole spiced crawfish and separated by a yin/yang of black bean puree (the black one) and a roasted tomatillo sauce (yellow.. duh?).
The Empenada (from here on out called EM cause i hate typing the whole word) was very crisp from being fried to golden perfection. When you split it in half with a fork/knife it kind of crumbles from the weight of the silverware (OR MY GiANT LIKE STRENGTH! FOR SPARTA!!!!). The crawfish had a very light flavor, it wasn't too overpowering. My mom absolutely loved both the sauces, i usually dont like anything with bean in it, but the black bean puree was not heavy at all, and we gladly slopped it all up. If every dish was as good as this we were off to a great start!

The next dish that came was the Braised Baby back Ribs (11$).
For your information, the ribs came like this. i didn't attack it before i could take a picture. BUT the picture does relay a very interesting point about these ribs.

the meat practically falls OFF the bone. I know its not real bbq (up yours chowhound bbq elitists?) but it was so delicious. The BBQ sauce was sweet and spicy and had a nice peppery kick to eat. Like i said previously the meat was just falling off the bone. They provided about 4 rather large ribs. I was gnawing on the bones like a rabid dog. Another impressive dish!

The next dish we had was a close relative of Bambi =( . Venison with Mole Aguilar (12$).

Sadly this is the only dish i wasn't too impressed with. The meat itself was a little overcooked and it didn't really present the normally GAMEY taste of venison. I dont know, maybe i just dont like venison cooked in such a fashion. I really like a whole chunk of venison sliced and medium rare. The one good thing about this dish are the figs that you see in between the venison. Fruit + meat?! what a delightful and daring combination!

The next dish was ordered to match my cultural heritage. Duck Confit Mini Eggrols (8$).

Yes, 8$ is alot to spend one basically one extra large eggroll. The shredded BBQ Duck was not particularly amazing, i've had better at the local Cantonese restaurant, but what really makes this dish impressive is the skin of the eggroll and the sauces you dip it in. I personally dont like the REALLY crispy eggrolls you find at alot of American/Chinese restaurants. I like crunk but at the same time a little bit doughy underneath (sorry that's a horrible explanation). This eggroll was a perfect example of the consistency of skin that i like.
When dipped with the sweet chinese mustard (sadly not spicy , nowhere near the chinese mustard we have at dimsum) and peanut sauce it adds a nice variety to a normally simple eggroll.

Next on the menu was katafi Crab Cake (13$)
Before you ask, yes these crab cakes really are small. I could probably eat one of these in one bite... actually not probably i COULD eat these in one bite. But in the effort to share, we had to split them in half. When split, the cake basically oozed out crab and the shape deflated like a popped balloon. It was lightly battered on the outside so it didn't distract too much from the crab taste. This was tasty but i wish there was more for the price =(

The next dish was picked by my mom in efforts to help keep us healthy, Goat cheese Portabello Cap. (8)

I found myself liking this dish so much more than i thought i would., i think i ate about 3/4th of this by myself =(
The dish is a mix of sauteed spinach, tomatoes, onion fennel marmalade stacked on a large portabello cap. The top of it had a sweet curry flavored goat cheese sauce.

I can't really explain why i liked this dish so much. It was just a little bit sweet from the marmalade, and the vegetables were all cooked perfectly. The Goat Cheese had a great curry flavor to it, normally i think goat cheese is a little too bitter but this was definitely not the case. Stack this to my love of vegetables (stack! get it! haha whew).

The next dish was my brother's selection, rib eye steak covered in some sort of tomato sauce (sorry i can't seem to find this dish on the restaurants website) with thin potato fry/chips.
The steak was pretty tasty. If you like lean meat then this would be a great selection (i normally love meat with fatttttt) . I think they were trying to go 50's style with this dish. The sauce has almost a ketchup-ie flavor to it, but there's something else that makes it a little saltier than normal ketchup. I wish it was on the website so i could have a more detailed look at what i ate. It has a side of "french fries" which were really just really thinly sliced potato chips.

The final dish was EASILY my favorite dish of the night. Salamb Bombay
Ah this lamb was sooooooooooooooooooooo good. Cooked to a NICE light medium rare (you can actually see a little bit of the blood on the bottom left one), each one is topped with a little bit of cucumber mint raita. You taste more of the mint than the cucumber in this sauce, but it doesn't distract from the fact that these little pieces of lamb were so delicious i was tempted to order another one. Then the cilantro chutney in the middle was heavenly. A slight curry flavor where i swear i tasted a little bit of mango. I just piled heaps of that thing on the lamb.

If you come to the minibar you MUST try this dish. If there is any dish i suggest here you MUST TRY THIS ONE!~!~!~!~!.

All in all a great experience, not the cheapest restaurant and not the most filling but the taste is definitely very unique.

3413 cahuenga blvd west
Los Angeles, CA

the real reason we came here, is because it was only 3 miles away from the Pantages Theater where my mom took us to go watch
A wonderful musical amount the wicked witch of the east told from her perspective! This was the best musical i've seen in a long time, it was funny, sad, and the main characters, wow could they sing! Right now Pantages is showing Wicked with primarily the same cast as the Broadway show, but i dont know for how long.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Izakaya Sakura when the sun is high

Normally when i go to Sakura i tend to venture over there during their dinner hours for sushi. It wasn't until i read this post on Chowhound that i realized they served lunch!
The thing that perked my curiosity the most on this post was the fact that Sakura had lunch specials.

When i arrived at Sakura with my friend Sherwin we were handed two menus, the standard lunch menu and the "lunch special". The lunch special is hand written which i presume is based on it changing every so often (my lunch was not the same as what the people posted before). After looking at the long list of food included on the lunch special for $12 i couldn't pass it up. (although i was really curious about what the people around me were eating).
Laundry list
  • Oden w/ hot mustard
  • Spaghetti
  • Croquette
  • Miso Marinated Salmon
  • Spicy Lobster
  • Omelet (i want to say its a tomago omelet cause its so sweet)
  • Stuffed cabbage with bacon.
  • Side salad, Miso Soup, and another little vegetable dish.
The lunch special comes very quickly, you can actually see a stack of them piled up all prepared and ready, you get served with in within 5 minutes so you can eat and leave!
At first glance Sherwin said "that's it?" The list may have sounded impressive but it doesn't LOOK like much food. Of course he quickly took his words back when he couldn't finish his meal.

One thing to note, the rice was wonderful. It was just a little bit moist and sticky and a few grains were stuck together, but they had a great taste to them. I probably finished off almost all my rice before the other dishes were finished

Our first stop on the bento box journey is the Stuffed Cabbage
Its a stewed cabbage stuffed with ground chicken/pork (no idea) topped with slices of fatty bacon. This dish was amazing, its actually a very thick piece of meat stuffed into cabbage that is nearly falling apart. There is absolutely ZERO resistance (like the french =P) when you bite into it. There is also a little bit of the soup in the container so it keeps alot of the flavor. I thought this was immensely wonderful. As which is the case with almost all the dishes on here, i wish it was warmer =( , but that's what you get for having them stacked and ready.

our next stop along the railroad is the "main course" area of the box.
Let's go over the forgettable item first.
The spaghetti is utterly forgettable, what happens when you have (sitting out) + (noodles) + (lack of sauce) ? it equals very very very horrible spaghetti. Dry and flavorless.

But that's the only transgression that had occurred.

The first thing we see on the bottom left of the container is the spicy lobster. I'd actually like to call it sweet and sour lobster. It was by no means spicy, but it reminded me heavily of all the sweet and sour dishes i get at chinese restaurants. This is not a knock on it, i thought it was delicious and i wish they gave more than one piece.

The item on the right is the croquette with a bit of tonkatsu sauce. I had no idea what was inside of this contraption of gushy love until i asked the waitress. I was informed its a blend of mushrooms, macaroni, and cream sauce!

Sherwin and i gave each other inquisitive looks but considering the blend worked out pretty well we aren't ones to argue. It had a nice creamy texture to it i just didn't taste the mushroom, i saw the mushroom i just couldn't taste it.

In the middle is actually a pretty good sized piece of Miso Marinated Salmon. Before i took a piece of it i was thinking in my head how horrible this cold fish was going to be, but to my pleasant surprise it had a very flavorful miso kick to it! I love anything miso marinated.

Roppingi makes a delightful miso marinated black cod! Even though the salmon was cold, it still had a soft texture to it and like i said, a great miso flavor.

The omelet on the far corner had a light but sweet flavor that made was reminiscent of tamago mixed with peppers and mushrooms. It was good, but it would have been better warm.

And finally the Oden.
A mixture of Squid,two types of Fish cake, Egg, Tofu, and Daikon. If you know me you know i love daikon. Grated daikon, steamed daikon, giant cubes of daikon.. i really don't care i'll eat it all. Give me some Daikon with rice and some pork with nice layers of fat and i'm set! All the stuff provided here was great, since i got to it last it was a little bit cold, but i still ate it =(. I actually really liked the tofu slice, it was "medium firm" tofu and it mixed with the mustard really well.

If you look closely to the bottom left you'll see a smudge of the japanese mustard. An interesting blend of american mustard flavor with a wasabi kick. I abuse myself by swabbing it on everything, my sinuses thank me.

I definitely want to come back for lunch and give the other dishes a shot, i saw some rather interesting dishes being eaten in large bowls that i've never seen before. Most of the lunch dishes ranged from about $6-$8 and come with miso soup and salad.

Izakaya Sakura
3904 Convoy Street #121 San Diego, CA, 92111, United States

Saturday, March 3, 2007

A link in the chain

My friend Danny was complaining that as a whole my blog doesn't seem to devote itself enough to San Diego. My problem is that I like to post about stuff that normally people wouldn't go out of their way to eat, but the problem with that is, I don't do that myself all that often. I usually just eat a simple bowl of pho, some chick fil a, or some take out Chinese. And I'd rather not write about it because I think Asian food itself is done incredibly well by Kirk from mmm-yoso. So I tend to find myself talking about Los Angeles , because everytime I go back to LA I purposely plan restaurant trips and try to go to interesting restaurants (like this weekend! Minibar anyone?).

But I've taken his pleas to heart and tried a few new places or re-visted old places with a rather diverse menu. First up is one of the newer San Diego hotspots The Linkery.

In the past few years the California population in general has been on a huge trip of organic/healthy food and micro-breweries (I know an odd combination, but I assume micro-breweries are more refined beer? More refined beer = healthier? Sorry I wasn't that great in Math). And the Linkery does a good job on providing local ingredients in their dishes that they believe is of significantly higher quality, as well as an ever changing selection of micro brews on tap from local breweries (as well as wine from all over the country). The Linkery actually has a blog that one of the owners Jay types up, he keeps everyone up to date on the changing weekly menus and drinks. Read it after the jump. Jay actually came around and gave us samples of this DELICIOUS DELICIOUS Bavarian beer Hopf Weisser Bock.

Beware, this post may get long, we had a party of 5 that had multiple appetizers, drinks, entrees, and desserts so if you have something to do in the next 30 minutes I suggest you come back at another time =).

The Linkery is located in Normal Heights, which is I guess slightly close to Hillcrest and they specialize in making sausages (see where the name comes from). They have two separate seating areas, a room that is illuminated in red and close to the bar and then where we sat. We sat in an overly dark part of the restaurant with extremely dim lights hanging over the room with a candle as our only guiding light. If I was single and I was on a blind date I would not take her here and have her at the Linkery unless I know EXACTLY what she looks like, cause we all know how a dark area is quite tricky =P. My eyes actually hurt from trying to read the menu by candle light, I felt like I should have been writing out my entry with a quill and ink. Because of this horrible lighting, the pictures required flash, and since they have very shiny plates there is a bit of glare (I've warned you!) Because of the necessity of a good flash, these pictures are of significantly higher quality than my normal camera phone pictures. (Courtesy of Matt's SD 800IS Canon).

The Menu itself is fun, because of their ever changing menu they get a little clipboard and clip printed out pages and you just flip through it. Every single ingredient on the menu for the dishes has a little parentheses next to it telling you where the ingredient is purchased from. I was hoping to be scanning along and see Ketchup (Albertsons).

They have a "special" where you add $5 to your entrée and you get a pick from one of their hand made sausages which isn't too bad, but 5$ for a sausage is a little expensive.

So I ordered the Ocean Trout with a side of Wisconsin Bratwurst. Matt had the Braised Pork chops with a side of Wisconsin Bratwurst, and we shared a pork Spring Roll (more on this rip off later), Kevin had the Picnic plate with Wisconsin Bratwurst and Chicken Chili Verde Sausage. Allison had the Picnic Plate as well with Wisconsin Bratwurst and Linguissa with a side order of Sautéed Green Peas. Jessica had the Picnic Plate as well with the Spicy Mexican Chicken Sausage and Wisconsin Bratwurst with a side of Cactus meat!.

The first thing to arrive was the Pork Spring-roll that we ordered. ($7.50). I understand that its not cheap to put the type of pork they did into the spring roll, but they only gave us ONE AND A HALF SPRINGROLLS! What happened to the other half?! How horrible is that, they are so cheap that they actually cut one of them in half and saved it for whomever else was going to order it next!

The Spring Rolls themselves were pretty good, they pork had a nice smoky flavor, but is it worth $7.50? Not by a long shot.

Then the other appetizers, the Green Peas and the Catcus arrived. The Green Peas were sautéed with what we suspect to be bacon drippings. It had an almost meaty quality to it. It was delicious! I love bacon drippings! You can put bacon drippings on any dish and I'll love it! The peas had a nice snap to them and were very tasty.

The Cactus was interesting, I have had cactus once in my life, but never in this form. They pan fried a whole cactus leaf and drizzled it with a slightly sweet yet sour sauce. The leaf itself is almost fruity but still retaining the standard taste of most green vegetables. The leaf is also thick like a fruit, unlike normally plants that are rather thin and small. This wasn't bad, due to its unique taste if anyone's curious they should give it a shot.

The Picnic plate is a combination of two sausages, some grain bread, salad with a light vinaigrette, two types of cheeses, and corresponding sauces with what you ordered.

The Chicken Verde Sausage wasn't too bad, it was a basic chicken sausage with a lil bit of a "spice" to it, but it tastes significantly better when you dip it into the chili verde sauce that's provided. The Spicy Chicken is surprisingly spicy , I liked this one the most by far. It may be the only sausage that left a good impression on me, It was spicy but not that salty, but JUST salty enough so I didn't need to dip it into the sauce. The Linguissa was probably one of the worst sausages I've ever had. Maybe it was burnt? Maybe the pig that it's made from decided to play a mean mean trick and ingested a large amount of poison that would make his meat taste HORRIBLE.

On to my sausage! The Wisconsin Bratwurst tastes like a normal Bratwurst =(

Nothing too special about it, I thought the beer flavor was actually kind of lacking. But the spicy mustard they provided with it made it taste quite nice. So B to the sausage but A to the sauce! And if you look at the picture do you find it rather odd? We have two sausages (one from me and one from Matt), but one seems to be significantly larger than the other! How unfair, but life's unfair, sometimes you just have a bigger sausage than the next person.

My dish was Tasmanian Ocean Trout, served with smoked corn salsa, mashed avocado and quinoa. On first inspection (I wasn't sure cause… there was no light) I thought I had Salmon! But after reading about it online, there are specific types of trout that look and taste like a lighter salmon. They placed the trout on top of some fresh guacamole and quinoa. Eating the trout by itself wasn't anything special, the bottom was a lil overcooked, (aka burnt). What made it good was blending the Trout with everything else.

Strike away the good. It was GREAT!.

The salsa was just a little bit sweet (due to the corn being smoked) and the guac had large chunks of avocados in it and the quinoa tasted like ultra short grain rice. I couldn't get enough of this combination. The salmon was cooked well other than the burnt bottom (sorry I mean trout) and it had a very nice flake to it.

Matt's pork chops were very tasty as well, it was two grilled pork chops over smashed purple potatoes with grilled blue-cheese-stuffed Belgian endive. They are initially braised then grilled, which results in a redness in the middle of the pork chop like its raw.

When we first saw it we said "OH MY GOODNESS MATT GET A NEW PORKCHOP YOU CANT EAT PORK RAW!!!" (we as in me) "BUT EAT AS MUCH AS YOU CAN SO THEY GIVE YOU A WHOLE NEW ORDER SO ITS LIKE YOU HAVE TWO DISHES!" (me again). The pork chop was very tender, it was like I was biting into a medium rare steak (which initially led to my suspicion of the of it being raw. It had a nice applesauce flavor to it as well. I wonder who ever came up with pork and apple sauce? What a combination! Like Foie Gras and wild nuts with Fresh berry jelly! (no one believes me that I've eaten this before because they can't believe there would be such a concoction, but I know those with the finer tastes in life have tried it). With the pork chop came some glazed chopped onions which I didn't have the opportunity to try, but I assumed that he cleaned up the plate like I did so I'm sure it was good haha.

After the meal, we had dessert, an order of Mango Cheesecake and Blue Cheese Cheesecake.

The Mango cheesecake was very underwhelming, there was absolutely nothing special about it.

It had a TINGE of mango flavoring. If the recipe asked for 10 drops of mango flavoring they decided to only but .01. They put some candied mangos on top of the cheesecake, but sorry you can't trick me, I love mangos, I know mango, and this sir IS NOT a mango cheesecake. And not only was it not that special, it was incredibly small. For 6.50$ I expect cheesecake factory style cheesecake (oreo cheesecake drooooolll).

BUT on the other hand the Blue Cheese Cheesecake was extraordinarily unique. They obviously followed the amount of flavoring for this one. If you like blue cheese this is the way to go.

The cheesecake is topped with a light port wine reduction so its not really a dessert (unless you like cheese for your dessert which a few do). I don't like blue cheese, and the very strong blue cheese flavor turned me off, but my other table mates who <3 the BC really enjoyed this cheesecake.

The Chowhound posts that talked about the Linkery were spot on. The dishes that were good were really good but the dishes that weren't were pretty bad. My friends liked it a lot because of the ambience of it all (and the cask beers) but definitely be wary of what you are ordering. My bill came out to be 43$ after tax and tip, for my entrée/cheesecake/sausage/ and split of a spring roll. I really don't think it was worth $43 I'll just have to avoid the $6.50 dessert, the $7.50 appetizer, and the $5 sausage and I would have been golden! But it's a nice place to say you've tried just solely based on the unique restaurant experience (a lil too indy sheik for me tho =P), because of their interesting ingredients and favorable libation list!