Monday, August 27, 2007

Vacation #1 San Francisco, Final Round Pt #3 FIGHT!

I'm going to put a little placeholder post here. This post may be significantly longer than it needs to be so I'm doing it over a period of time. Actually it'll probably be much too long and filled with a silly amount of pictures. But it is the final post for my trip to San Francisco... so why not!

I just want you all to know I take my hobby/love seriously and am not ignoring it for school. (haha).

Also, Vacation #1 ends and Vacation #2 picks up right behind it, with a two post showing of the wonders of a completely different culture than California.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Vacation #1 San Francisco Part #2 a quickie seafood mix.

One place Kathy and I had to go to during our San Francisco trip was Fisherman's Wharf. I understand that its one big tourist trap, but at the same time I also understand that I love seafood .. so, we went (ha).

If you've never been to Fisherman's Wharf the most popular area there is Pier 39 which has a nice string of booths filled with crab, clam chowder, shrimp cocktails, and all kinds of wonderful fresh seafood. The problem that most people have with said booths are the price.. its really not that cheap. You're looking at a sourdough bread bowl of clam chowder for about $6, a steamed crab at $10 a pound, and a $7 shrimp cocktail. Of course, the attraction is that since the food is so close to the bay its going to be fresher. The crab is definitely going to be fresh before you eat it.. the crab is still very much moving before you heartless wenches snuff out its life in a giant vat of boiling water

How will Mr. Crab provide for his family if he's dead? *sigh* what a cruel world we live in. But since I am Chinese, I've helped with the genocide of the crab population. =P

If you've ever been to the strip of booths you would notice that every booth has a restaurant right next to it. Almost every booth (could be every) is actually just a small food outlet for quick eats that is owned by the enjoining restaurant.

So for our dining enjoyment we picked Nick's Lighthouse. What did we base our decision on?
  • Is there an amazing clam chowder?
  • Does their crab crack readily beneath your fingertips?
  • Do they validate 3 hours of parking so you don't have to pay any money for this tourist trap we call Fisherman's Wharf Pier 39 parking?
If you picked #3, then you know how cheap I am, and you'd be absolutely right. Luckily our choice wasn't a failure since the food actually turned out quite nice.

You walk past all the boiling vats of water, glasses of shrimp and into a bustling restaurant with tables/seats packed closely together. A table of four is expected to sit at a booth meant for 2 large sized people. With Ryan and I there we already met the requirement so it was a pretty tight squeeze. We quickly ordered because by this time, I haven't had a bite to eat for a good 7 hours (which is an atrocity that always should be immediately rectified).

Kathy's main goal in coming to Fisherman's Wharf was to eat clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl (speaking of which has anyone seen the new Bourdin Sourdough Bakery store? WOWSERS! that thing is gigantic!) so she ordered... clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. I asked her if it'd be enough and she nodded yes. (Later we would learn.. it was not enough due to the dent in my entree).

I'm not sure how much Kathy liked the clam chowder but I loved it from the spoonful I took. If you like Monterey Style thin soupy clam chowder this is the chowder for you. I've never been a fan of the thick ultra creamy clam chowder (which Kathy is, but she said she liked it). I like mine thin with a little bit of cream but just packed with clam and potatoes. Luckily this soup met all my expectations! Its the perfect type of clam chowder to put crackers in because the crackers just absorb right in. Usually when its nice and thick the crackers still have their crunch because it can't absorb all that heavy cream.

A+++++ clam chowder! Reminds me of when I was a little boy buying a quart of Monterey Clam Chowder on the Monterey Boardwalk warming up from the steaming goodness.

Next we have a seafood pasta with spinach linguine.

Tons and tons of seafood piled in here. Giant Tiger Shrimp, clams, mussels, and diced tomatoes. Just a really great crustacean mix in the pasta. I didn't have the opportunity to try any but it sure did look tasty!

Finally, my dish, something I affectionately call the Heart Attack. A giant heaping serving of cholesterol and death. AKA: Fried Crab Legs, Scallops, Prawns, Oysters, Calamari, and Fish.

This was heaven on a plate. The crab legs were so moist under the fried batter, when you bite into it and with a lil tug with your teeth, the crab parts like the Red Sea. Just giant chunks of crab legs fried. You don't have to deal with cracking the shell or anything!

Great pieces of Calamari, the perfect thickness where you can pop it in your mouth, chew a few times and swallow. The scallops were great, the fish was super moist like the crab, and the prawns were giant giant fried shrimp.

I mean .. you really can't go wrong with fried food. The only bad fried seafood is when the meat is just too stringy and disgusting. But its so incredibly hard to mess it up, you really have to go out of your way to buy 1 week old seafood to make it taste bad. The only odd thing was the fried oyster. Its kinda weird when its a little bit crunchy on the outside and then gooey on the inside. *shivers*. Decent quality oysters but the two and two just don't match for me.

The home made tartar sauce was also A+! Just the right amount of zing to it!

So if you're ever in the neighborhood and you need your parking validated, give Nick's a try!

Nick's Lighthouse
#5 Fisherman's Wharf
2815 Taylor @ Jefferson
San Francisco, CA, 9413

p.s. check it out! the worker out front gave me a live crab to play with! FEAR ME CRABS FEAR ME!~!~!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A new spin on things.

While I'm waiting for pictures to be uploaded for vacation #1/pt. 2 I've decided to try something new.

Most of my friends know that I have a food blog so when we go out to eat they usually expect me to take pictures. Questions usually come up when I don't take pictures. I usually have two responses to this question
  1. Its nothing special (aka just eating a bowl of noodles that you could get anywhere, or some very simple chain store)
  2. Someone's done it already.
Being a relative newbie in the food blogging world there have been a large amount of bloggers that have come before me. Alot of the time the food I'm eating and the food i want to blog about have already been done. So I thought to myself.. how could I leave an impression on people about these restaurants.. yet not continuously post restaurants every other food blog in San Diego has talked about already?

LINKS. TONS AND TONS OF LINKS. Since everyone loves web traffic, I've decided to just link you to their webpage (in hopes to get some links back! 50 viewers is not enough for my delicate ego). With each set of links i'll give you a quick rundown of what I liked/didn't like + the address to the place. So if I eat somewhere worth mentioning and someone's talked about it.. the above process will occur!

How's that sound?

1st up! Today's Dinner.
Latin Chef

I've personally been meaning to come to this restaurant for awhile. Chowhound and many other San Diego food bloggers/Yelp are going absolutely nuts about this small hole in the wall Peruvian restaurant. I rarely venture down to Pacific Beach because its a parking nightmare at night but today I made an exception.

Overall? Food is tasty, I'd actually say very tasty but not the best Peruvian food I've had. I really like the oily/messy Peruvian style that I find in LA so this place is a notch below that. I also GREATLY dislike the small portions here. Matt and I finished our meals in no time flat, we even had an appetizer and I was still deathly hungry. If you're a growing boy like us, or you just have an above average appetite this definitely will not fill you up. The amount of rice they gave us was so minimal *sigh*. (Delicious rice though). I don't think I'd come back here for dinner based solely on the fact that I wouldn't be full, but I wouldn't mind coming back for lunch.

The owner/waiter is a nice guy, he gives great detailed descriptions of the food!

Anyways! on to the links!

The always fabulous KirkK's two part review of Latin Chef. Read on and be very satisfied with wordy pictures and pretty words. (=P)
Part 1
Part 2

Latin Chef
1142 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA
(next door to some lady selling all kinds of new age trinkets

Friday, August 17, 2007

Vacation #1, Post #1. San Francisco's Limon!

After saying goodbye to our summer jobs *waves goodbye to gorgeous Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse*, my girlfriend (Kathy, in case you forgot) and I hopped onto a plane for cloudy San Francisco, with a dream of hitting it big in the summer associate market. A large gathering of law students far more academically gifted than I (but can they say they have a food blog with an active readership of nearly FIFTY, that’s right the big 5-0.. “fiddy”, UNIQUE READERS A DAY!? NU- UH ) sequestered in the financial district of San Francisco. Gathered into the Orrick conference floor (surrounded by a disturbingly breathtaking view of San Francisco in every direction), every law student eyes each other, knowing the other person is competition for that coveted job that’ll pay $2,800 to $3,100 dollars a week. But like I always remind you my dear reader, this blog is about food, not my daily on-goings in the world of law (even though if by some crazy way this food blog does magically create a job at a reputable law firm, I will have no qualm). So I present to you vacation #1 in the city of San Francisco, that begins the moment we step out of our business suits and into the wild city life of San Francisco.

For the week leading up to our trip to SF, Kathy and I have been plotting a gathering of friends to enjoy food in the culinary heaven (not my label) that is San Francisco. After repeated making of reservations and cancelling of reservations, we decide on the restaurant Limon in Mission.

A modern Peruvian restaurant, very different from the place I reviewed a few months back in the ghettos of Los Angeles. The restaurant tries to use American, Spanish, French, Italian flavors to blend into Peruvian, hoping (I think) to attract a younger hipper crowd of salaried young adults by banking on some sort of hipness that is devoid from the Inca Cola populated Peruvian restaurants. There’s no Inca Cola at Limon, but there is a large amount of Spanish and American wines. I did find it funny the wine list greatly lacked in South American wines that would have gone wonderfully with the food. One would think that much thought wasn’t put into the list, but I am no sommelier, who am I to judge.

A quick Bart ride from our hotel a chunk of our party arrived at Limon. Located in the Latino/a community of Mission, the restaurant is nestled between multitudes of Tacquaria and bars. The restaurant itself is not nearly as run down its neighbors. You walk into a brightly lit restaurant bristling with activity, as tables sit squished together, so close that two parties of two may actually hold hands and become a party of four (this seems to be a reoccurring theme in the city of San Francisco). I hurriedly walk in and confirm my reservation. My friend had called me 1 minute before saying the hostess threatened to cancel our reservation for 9 if I didn’t show in the next 5 minutes. This is why I can’t rely on public transportation, but it does give me something to pass blame on when I’m tardy.

We get seated on the 2nd level, overseeing the restaurant and all its inhabitants. We quickly order a pitcher of Sangria, the ice cold fruity wine drink popular in its native country of Spain and all other Spanish restaurants... another curious item on the menu of this Peruvian restaurant. In my brief research on chowhound and other assorted websites I repeatedly see the suggestion to order the combination ceviche. The CC is a choice of 4 ceviche’s out of the restaurants 8. The ceviche on the menu is split into normal “limon” ceviche and cream based ceviche. Since I am one for equality and fairness in all aspects of my life, I ordered two of each.

On the left we have the standard limon ceviche. Being standard ceviche, the dish is raw fish or seafood cooked overnight in the acid of a large amount of lemon juice. So for these dishes, no heat is used in the preparation process. I’ve always been curious who discovered or created this dish, what persuaded them to put their hard earned fish in a vat of lemon juice. Such a dish could not be a coincidence, you’d have to have squeezed all these lemons ahead of time and then put the fish in. Even if it was an accident and you left some fish in a nice fresh cup of lemonade overnight what would persuade you to eat it? This sounds more like a bizarre frat ritual than the makings of a fabulous dish. Anyways...

The top left dish is the standard limon ceviche with halibut. Mixed with cilantro and sliced sweet red onions (yum!) the fish is rather soft yet at the same time noticeably raw. You get that nice chew that you get from sashimi but it still flakes a little between your teeth (this attribute runs through all the ceviche dishes ordered). This was probably my second favorite one out of the bunch. It’s simple and to the point, just how I like it!
Going counter clockwise we have the a different limon ceviche with mixed seafood and.. hominy (which is commonly found in the Mexican favorite, Menudo) Hominy by the way is soaked dry corn in lye water. Like the previous dish we see generous amounts of sliced red onions and cilantro mixed into shrimp, fish, scallop, and squid. What we see in this dish that’s rather unique is the mixture of yellow and white hominy. The consistency of the corn was extremely hard to pinpoint. When you bite into it, you get a slightly less starchy texture of a potato. If you closed your eyes and someone fed you this corn , you’d think it was a potato. I for one wanted no part in this business, corn should pop like corn and potato should be mashy like potatoes, let’s not mix these two please.. who knows what atrocity could be formed. This dish is significantly more acidic and sour than its predecessor. The fish I generally ignored (due to said sour), and some conniving fiend stole the only shrimp available but I actually really enjoyed the squid/calamari. I don’t know why, but the extreme kick of acidity really worked with the chewy stretchy nature of the squid. *shrug*.
The next two ceviche’s are crème based. They used the same basic fish/vegetable mixtures but instead approached it with what I believe was a chutney curry sauce and a tomato cream sauce. I thought the chutney one had a weird spice to it, that is better left to warm/hot foods, but the tomato cream was actually very appetizing and refreshing. Sorry i don't have a stronger impression on them, i really concentrated on the non-creme based ones. I have let you down =(

Being the fatties we are, my friend Ryan and I ordered the fried chicken appetizer (Chicarron de Pollo) to go along with the meal. He (not I) figured that the platter of ceviche would not be able to satisfy our hunger, especially when its shared among a party of 9. Now you know I love fried chicken, but I’d consider this more as pan fried chicken with absolutely no batter. But the chicken was extremely soft and tender and very meaty. Imagine crispy chicken at your local Tapioca Express but with no batter. Of course the best part of this dish had really nothing to do with the chicken, it was the dipping sauce they provided. If you’ve been to El Pollo Loco and you’ve had their house salsa, this is what its richer more endowed older sibling would taste like. Since I love El Pollo Loco as much as I love Chick Fil –a (RIP) I found this sauce amazing. No one else seemed to share this enthusiastic joy with me, but when did I care about other people’s opinions (just kidding).

(by the way, i love sliced red onions, i love them so so so very much. Especially if they are a little sour with marinade? Man oh man)

After finishing our food, we waited impatiently for our food in-between members of our party persuading other members of our party to acquire more Sangria. After trying to conjure up amazing conversation for all 8 other people to enjoy (failed unsuccessfully our dishes arrived) our dishes arrived. Sorry but I didn’t take pictures of every dish, I’m actually missing two, one that I regret that I forgot to take a picture of and the other I’m glad I didn’t waste the digital memory for (you know I only have 10,000 deletion cycles left on my $15 memory card! I gotta save those).

The dish I ordered was Arroz con Mariscos, a dish that reminded me greatly of cioppino of Italian fame. The funny story behind this dish (and one of the missing pictures) is that they had another item pretty much like what I ordered but a few dollars less. I asked the waiter which one he would pick and he pointed me to the more expensive one... funny thing is my two friends hated their dish and I told them my story of the waiter’s decision and they both stated that the waiter told them to order the cheaper dish! The waiter must have known I am a lover of fine foods and wouldn’t settle for anything but the best.
Funny story aside I actually enjoyed my dish. It’s a combination of large tiger shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, fish, and calamari on a bed of rice. My problem with cioppino has been its just too tomato-y and soupy, the rice just gets drenched in the oily sauce . Luckily Peruvians do not have the problem with over-saucing their dish and leave a dish where the jasmine rice stays nice and fresh not completely penetrated by oils and tomatoes. Instead of a soup base like a cioppino, it’s more like a thin sauce. The seafood generally was pretty fresh. The scallop much appreciated by Kathy and I, very moist and flaky, just parts with a bit of pressure from your fork. The shrimp were also very large fresh tiger shrimp. (Speaking of which my dad gave my brother and I 10+ pounds of Large Texas Gulf Shrimp that apparently retails at 10$+ per pound, and even an ungodly 20$ a pound at the airport). A very delightful dish all and all, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sorry to say my companions at the other side of the table did not enjoy their recommendation.

Kathy’s choice was inspired by what I had ordered at the Peruvian restaurant a few months ago, essentially steak and fries, Lomo Saltodo. This version of the dish is significantly less oily than the one we ate previously. The beef is also of finer quality (since the dish is nearly 3x the price) , it might actually be steak opposed to just some sort of beef chunk. But I’m not sure why I liked the other version so much more. I think the oiliness and the grease really brings out of the flavors! I also think they didn’t cook the tomatoes long enough at Limon because I was expecting a hint of tomato behind every bite.. which didn’t happen (/tear!).

I took pictures of the other items that were ordered but i didn't really have an opportunity to try them. So i'll give you the people's impressions.
Churrasco a la Parilla, Very simple steak, nothing to write home about. Like a majority of restaurants when a medium rare is requested.. it comes as medium. But from my own personal view, they did a very good job with the grill marks! Look at how defined and pretty it is? This steak should be a professional steak model. "What's for dinner? Beef.. *cue steak from limon with its pretty grill marks*".

Vegetable Risotto.
I had an opportunity to take a bite of this. Nice crisp vegetables in the risotto. Good creamy texture for the rice, but it seemed a bit too sticky. I like mine creamy yet not so clumped together. The green sauce was a vegetable puree which added a lighter flavor to the risotto. I've had better.. or i will have better (hint of what's to come!).

Overall it was a decent experience. My biggest problem here is the price of the dishes. All these dishes looked nice and tasted fine but the prices were astronomical for the food that we were served. I think the steak was easily over $30, and my stew was $28!. Price is kind of ridiculous considering you're eating Americanized Peruvian food. If i got Kung Pao chicken at PF Chang's for $20, i'd be furious. Luckily, i don't know anyone from Peru to gauge their anger at the atrocity.

Would i go here again? Probably not... considering i have a hankering for cheap Peruvian food. There are so many other restaurants to explore in San Francisco, so not coming back here will definitely not be a loss. But i am kind of surprised at the amount of people that suggested this restaurant to me. My food was good, but the overall experience or the QPR (quality price ratio) just wasn't there.

524 Valencia Street
San Francisco, California

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Porterhouse Bistro

Warning: I just recently learned that turning up the ISO on your camera and taking the picture without flash looks a lot better than a close up picture with flash that reflects off your white plates. So now that this warning is noted, these pictures are before said epiphany.

If I were to offer you: a clove of roasted garlic with tomatoes, basil, and olive tapenade to spread on fresh baguette, a delicious bowl of French onion soup , the most delicious fries you'll ever find, a perfectly cooked porterhouse steak at medium rare, a deliciously molten chocolate cake, and two alcoholic beverages would you say "I can't afford that Charlie! That just sounds so expensive! I am not a big shot lawyer at a big shot firm making the big shot bucks!"

But what if I were to say you don’t have to be a big shot lawyer to enjoy this meal? What if I could get you this meal for the one easy and low payment of $39.99!? No I’m not out of my mind!

Of course there’s a catch to this amazing price. Unlike most steak eateries that carry USDA Prime steaks the restaurant only uses USDA Choice (found in Costco!) and claim it tastes like USDA Prime. Their claim is due to the flavor injection they put into the steak while cooking. A mixture of garlic and “special seasoning” makes it so juicy so delicious that you forget its Choice!

Steak enthusiasts please don’t kill me! I know you don’t inject anything! Let the meat’s natural juices flavor the meat and your taste buds! I know I know I know! But I’m just such a sucker for a deal! And it was one of the few times I was okay with horribly slow and inattentive service!

How did I happen upon this interesting restaurant? Let me take you back a few months *twirls hands* WoooOoooo WeEEeeeeEEEee

So this summer I have been trying to get some friends together to eat steak and drink wine. From May 24th all the way till July 29th I had little success in getting any group of friends together. But as luck may have it the right combination of events allowed one of my summer wishes to come true!

A co-worker from the US Attorney's, a classmate from law school, and two friends from back home decided to join me on our adventure. Every single one of them unable to turn down combination of great wine, great steaks, and great company

My buddy Nick suggested Porterhouse Bistro in Beverly Hills. PB (porterhouse bistro)'s claim to fame is their Prix Fixe menu, a $40 delight that is sure to fulfill everyone’s need for delightful steak. Located a couple of blocks from the Maserati dealer, the restaurant is nestled in a quaint brown brick building. The great thing about the restaurant is parking! There are TONS of parking meters all over the place! And after 6pm in LA you don’t have to pay for parking! Silly people getting their cars valued for $5! (when did restaurants start charging customers to valet...).

Other than the Prix Fixe menu, the other reason we came was for the extremely reasonable $10 corkage fee! I lurveeeeee cheap to free corkage! So to accompany us on this excellent steak adventure were Mr. Sea Smoke Ten, Mr. Chateau Lagrange 1996, and Mr. Dominus 2001. Quite the nice wine pairings for what we had in store if I do say so myself! I offered some wine to the waiter, bartender, and general manager so they cut our corkage to just $10! Woohoo!

The waitress became very helpful when one of the waiters noticed some of the quality of the wines.. and.. when the waitress busted up the cork for my 96 Lagrange and then promptly blamed it on a faulty cork. The waiter got a lil contraption and took the cork off piece by piece. Suddenly multiple decanters appeared in our sights and wonderful Bordeaux glasses came from the back room. Ms. Waitress hasn’t learned yet that when you uncork the wine you don’t uncork it diagonally.

Anyways! Away with my complaining! Since this is a food blog (not wine blog) I won’t go into details on the wonderfulness/lack of wonderfulness of these wines, but do know that every single one was very well received.

Basically we ordered in “couples” *cough*. My buddy from USD Steve and I shared a 26 oz Porterhouse (filet mignon + NY steak in one giant steak!), Nick and Alex ordered the same, and since Ryan (my coworker) was all alone he upgraded to the 20oz T-bone for $10 more. The prix fixe menu for the meat is actually very interesting. For certain dollar increments you can adjust the size of your steak. The sharing 26oz is essentially two Prix Fixe orders that.. you share. Heh. You can get a 40oz to share for 20$ more and etc etc. The standard steak they serve on the Prix Fixe is the 13oz Rib Eye.

Tip: I’ve often read that when it comes to eating steaks the larger the better. This is based on the fact that a larger steak is allowed to simmer in its own juices and really cook itself to the right amount of tenderness. A lot of steakhouses suggest ordering the largest steak and splitting between 2-4 people! One steakhouse in Tampa,FL even has 70oz Steaks to split among the whole table!

They also have fish, lamb, chicken and other boring stuff on the menu for you to choose, but when a restaurant is called PORTERHOUSE BISTRO, I try to eat its namesake. Like.. Kentucky fried chicken, I don’t go in their looking for a hamburger! I know it’s their chicken (and coleslaw) that really hits the spot.

After taking a good 15 minutes for our waitress to take our order (lucky for her I opened up bottle #1 and we commenced to drinking) the first item arrived. La Brea Baguettes with homemade Bruschetta, Tapenade, and a giant clove of oven roasted garlic. La Brea is the bread that Costco sells in their “fancy” bread department. The kind that if you don’t eat within say.. the first 3 hours of purchase, it turns into a rock solid slab of dough that is considered a lethal weapon in the state of Texas. (I’m in Texas as we speak!). It’s a delicious bread when fresh, but horribly stale after a bit. The Bruschettahere isn’t your classical olive oil + tomatoes + basil.. it seems to be a blend of.. diced tomatoes.. something that looks like old basil... and garlic. Its not bad mind you, it’s just not Bruschetta. Bruschetta is supposed to be fresh, with crisp tomatoes intersecting with fresh basil. I generally skipped the olive Tapenade since.. I’m not a huge fan of olives.. but the roasted garlic. Oh man the roasted garlic is delicious. I love wrapping a clove of garlic in aluminum foil, dosing it with olive oil and tossing it into the oven. The garlic that comes out is mushy, sweet, and so oh so flavorful. I seriously just ate butter + bread + garlic. A lethal combination for my waistline and my breath. Luckily my girlfriend was nowhere around.

The next part of the meal was my appetizer. You had the choice of their house chopped salad, French onion soup, salmon quesadilla and some other selections. I chose the French onion soup. Which was an excellent choice!

I could probably say that this French onion soup was the BEST French onion soup I’ve ever had. My problem with FOS (French onion soup) is that it’s always much too salty. But this soup was just perfect. What also helped was the excellent crust they baked over the soup. They baked a large layer of puff pastry, the type of breading they put over Beef Wellington. It has a light, crispy, airiness to it that really does a great job of soaking in the soup. I was so overwhelmed by the greatness and majesty of this soup that I forgot to ask everyone else what they thought of their food... but that never stopped me from taking pictures of them! WoooOOoo Weee.

The next item to arrive was the steaks. If you’ve ever eaten a steak with me you know I’m extremely picky. I love a perfectly medium rare steak with the warm pink center. The problem is that so few places out in the steak world actually can cook a medium rare steak perfect. My solution to this problem was to tell the waiter/waitress “on a scale of 1-10, a medium rare being a 3 and a rare being a 1, I want my steak cooked at a 2.. so not rare but not quick medium rare”. Sadly it never turns out right either way I look at it, always comes out vastly overcooked to a medium. But ah Porterhouse Bistro you did not disappoint! I asked for a medium rare and I received a medium rare! So chewy and warm, just how I like it!

The next great accolade I give this restaurant is that since they know you’re sharing a steak.. they actually cut off the filet, cut off the NY steak and cut it into slices for you to share. If I wasn’t so madly in love with my girlfriend, I’d say it was quite a romantic meal for Steve and I.

The flavor of the steak is actually pretty good. It has the nice char that comes from broiled steak with the crisp little bits scattered all over the steak. There is a hint of garlic to remind you of the marinade they injected into the steak. The crisp coating of the steak is infused with cracked black pepper that offers a stark contrast to the garlic running through the inside of the steak. All in all the steak has more flavor than a standard steak house steak. But the extra flavor in the steak cleverly disguises the Choice grade meat as something infinitely softer, juicer, tastier than the grade implies. There’s a steak sauce that comes with the steak, but I didn’t try it.

Now the best part of this meal was my side dish, a basket of French fries.

Coming in a basket of thinly sliced fried potatoes, the French fries look like they are on crack. Each fry is gigantic. It’s not so much like a steak fry where it has a long width but absolutely no height. Think of a standard shaped fry and just multiple it by 6 and you have the shape of the PB fry. The best part is, the flavor is very similar to a standard thin French fry, but the interesting part is the French fry seems to be dipped in batter and then fried. A majority of French fries out there are just sliced potatoes dipped into hot oil... so the extra batter was a very pleasant surprise. The best analogy I could think of was a Tempura Fry. (heh).

The fry itself is exactly the type of fry I like. I hate heavy potato fries that completely outbalance the amount of batter/crispness of the fry. (i.e. Steak fries). Even though this fry is so large and filled with potato, the extra batter really helps improve the balance. Really crisp and fried on the outside, with a hot soft potato core. By far one of the best French fries I’ve ever had in my life. I could eat these all day!

I believe the other appetizers were forgettable. They had an assortment of grilled/sautéed vegetables, mashed potatoes, and other steakhouse necessities. But SKIP ALL THAT JUST GET THE FRIES.

The final piece of the meal was the dessert. I ordered the Chocolate molten lava cake. A small lava cake accompanied with a side of vanilla bean ice cream (my fave!). The cake itself was just okay. You usually expect motel lava cake to be very warm due to it usually being fresh out of the oven. You could tell that they had a bunch of these sitting in the kitchen waiting to be reheated. Yuck! The fudge did not erupt out like any type of lava! Of course the ice cream made up for anything lacking because it was oh so vanilla beanie!

The Crème Brulee was oh so average as well. The sugar was much too burnt and much too thick. It left a very thin crème to accompany it which really didn’t help. If I was given a choice I’d very very easily pass on this crème brulee! Sigh, the dessert was not a great ending to the evening considering all the other great parts of the meal.

But overall it was a great experience. Even though our waitress probably came to ask us how our meal was once over the course of 2 hours, the food greatly made up for it. We were so engrossed by the wine and the food we didn’t really notice how long it took the waitress to respond until we actually needed something. She was significantly more attentive to other people in the restaurant, so I do believe she was just leaving us to our own devices.

For the price it really can’t be beat, where else can you get the same quality of food for such a low price? (nowhere) I’d say it’s even better than the Black Angus dinner for two specials they send in the mail. So if you’re in town go on and visit the Porterhouse Bistro, where the Prix Fixe is actually a deal!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Back from Vacation #1 and off to Vacation #2.

Luckily Vacation #2 will have alot more downtime than Vacation #1 so I will be able to actually update on you all on my ongoings in the culinary world.

So tomorrow be on the lookout for an evening of wine and steaks or even a post of one of the most renown restaurants on the west coast (its not French Laundry, you are going to have to wait a good year for that to happen!)

Today California, Tomorrow Texas!