Fried Chicken Worth The Wait: 370 Common

Fried chicken? YES! Wait for it? NO!

Normally, you’d be right. No one wants to wait for fried chicken when that crunchy juicy salty chicken-y craving hits but trust me, 370 Common’s fried chicken is worth that wait.

Wait? Why do I need to wait for it, you ask? Well, it’s only available on the last Sunday of the month, at 370’s prix fixe only, Sunday Social dinners. Chef Ryan Adams started his Sunday Social family style dinners about 2 years ago and they been a very popular dining experience with locals and visitors ever since. Each Sunday, Chef Ryan offers a 5-7 course prix fixe meal served family style, meaning every dish comes as one big plate and everyone passes it around to serve themselves, just like you did as child around the dinner table on Sundays.

Chef Ryan sources most of his vegetables from the local farmers market so the side dishes change with the seasons but the fried chicken is always on that last Sunday’s menu.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad

First up on this occasion, the Cucumber Tomato Salad was fresh with herbs, a bright zip from the vinaigrette and silky from the avocados’ buttery nature. The crunch from the cucumbers (hidden under the arugula) and radish lent a nice contrast in textures along with the mini crunches of the toasted bread crumbs. To top it all off with a personal favorite, crumbled goat cheese, made me a very happy eater.

Carmelized Onion Corn Bread

Caramelized Onion Corn Bread

It’s hard to describe this dinner surprise as it wasn’t listed on the menu but all I can say is a resounding WOW. Corn Bread like you’ve never had it before. It was so light, fluffy almost and incredibly tender and moist. The caramelized onions sprinkled over the top before baking, so they’d sink into the corn bread crust, just added to the bread’s gentle sweetness. Maldon Salt with fresh ground pepper & herbs sprinkled over the butter pats secured my love for this corn bread.

Pork Belly Braised Greens

Pork Belly Braised Greens

Pork Belly Braised Greens…that pretty much says it all. Greens are greens to me, I generally enjoy them as much as the next guy, but braise them in a little pork fat from the belly (fresh un-cured bacon, if you’re not sure what that is), toss in some chiles for a little spicy kick and you had me at…well, pork belly.

Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots

Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots

Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Green beans and mashed potatoes have always been a huge part of the sunday dinners my mom used to make and these at 370 Common elevate the classic dishes to the next level. The Green Beans with Crispy Garlic & Shallots are perfectly cooked to retain a gentle snap while the Garlic Mashed Potatoes & Gravy are the best classic rendition you’ll have tasted. The gravy is rich & deep in flavor from the chicken stock made in-house. We scraped that serving dish clean.

Bucket of Fried Chicken

Bucket of Fried Chicken

Damn Good Fried Chicken

Damn Good Fried Chicken

Here is what you’ve been waiting all this time for (has it been a month already?), FRIED CHICKEN!! And damn good fried chicken at that. It’s perfectly crispy, perfectly juicy, perfectly tender, perfectly season and well, it’s just perfect fried chicken. I tried to get Chef Ryan’s secret seasonings and technique out of him, but he wouldn’t budge at my pleading. How fun though, that it comes to the table served in a paper bucket, an ode to KFC perhaps, that helps solidify the feeling that you are at home with family, eating a comforting meal.

Slaw and Spicy Honey

Slaw and Spicy Honey

The fried chicken is served with a side of slaw, nicely crunchy and mildly sweet along with a ramekin of spicy honey for dipping your chicken in. Originally, it was served drizzled over  the fried chicken but is now on the side for those who prefer their fried chicken without, as I do. Good call Chef.

Ginger Pear Cake

Ginger Pear Cake

As if I’m not already stuffed and very very happy about it, out comes dessert. The Ginger Pear Cake is a beautiful dish to end the meal. It wasn’t too sweet, almost gooey moist, with the toasted top giving an enjoyably tensive chew. The zing of the ginger was gentle enough to not overpower the mild tasting pears. This is the one dish that did not come “family style” though if it had, I would have cut myself a huge piece.

Chef Ryan used to offer his fried chicken just every once in a while, it was quite random. You had to have signed up for the 370 Common newsletter (be sure that you do ASAP) to know when it would be on the Sunday Social Supper menu. I thank him for listening to his diners who clamored for it more frequently, so now every last Sunday of the month it is, bravo! It truly is worth the wait.

370_Common_Logo

 

www.370common.com

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Bruxie:The Bold Fold Debuts in Brea

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches are definitely bold, and I would have to add, exciting, unique, fun and overall DELICIOUS!

You’ve never had anything like Bruxie, a Bruxie, I guarantee it.

When you hear that it’s a waffle sandwich, ya think, yeah whatever, how special can that be. Believe me, it is as special as it gets.

So what is a Bruxie? It’s a sandwich, of many types, that instead of the age old slices of bread, bun, roll or baguette, it is a gorgeously tender thin round Belgian waffle (folded in half) with just the hint of a tooth ‘crunch-against’ outer crust, pushing into the utmost tenderness within. It is not a sweet waffle but yeasty like fresh baked bread. The waffle holds it’s own againts numerous fillings, meaning it won’t get mushy and dissinigrate or crack under the pressure. This is amazingly delicious stuff.

The newest (and second location) to get your Brux-on is the just opened Downtown Brea location on the quaint Birch Street Promenade.

It is a fun location built on the idea of the original in Old Town Orange that took over an old 50’s gas station. By fun, I refer to the auto garage setting, right down to the two glass garage doors that are rolled all the way up, that invites you to stroll right in, or out with your Bruxies, to sit outside on the covered patio or railings lined with chrome barstool  that stands outside along the sidewalk.

The above is by far my favorite of all the Bruxies I have tried so far: The Hot Pastrami Bruxie (Boar’s Head Pastrami with Gruyere, Cider Slaw, Spicy Brown Mustard & Half Sour Pickles). Just typing that line makes my mouth water! The pastrami is juicily moist and quickly griddled to apply a slight crispy crust to the meat. The entire experience is hot, juicy, salty, tangy, crunchy and spicy. Oh my, it is just so good .

Bruxie also offers locally produced Old Fashioned ‘Pure Cane Sugar’ Sodas. The two pictured above with the pastrami are the Vanilla Cream. It is so light and refreshing, not cloyingly sticky on the tongue and overly sweet like most cream sodas.

The Bruxie Burger is an Angus Beef Patty, cooked to a perfect medium that retains all it’s lovely juicyness. Topped with the requisite cheddar cheese, mayo, tomato and lettuce. The Bruxie waffle works very well here. I was afraid it wouldn’t, but it really does.

The Carolina BBQ Pulled Pork  (slow roasted pork, cheddar cheese, cide slaw & their own Bruxie BBQ sauce) is juicy and tender topped with a nice sauce that compliments the pork. It gets a little messy here as the pulled pork and sauce is damp and if not eaten in a timely manner, it will soak through the waffle (though it is so worth it).

Now not only does Bruxie Waffles do gourmet sandwiches well. They do salads equally as well.

The Bruxie Salad (grilled chicken on romaine & arugula, topped with roasted mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and avocado in a lemon vinaigrette & balsamic reduction) is a salad to end all other salads. It is so amazingly flavorful…flavor that fills your mouth and imprints a memory of complete deliciousness you won’t soon forget. The flavors are big, bold and robust as well as tart, tangy and bright. The chicken is grilled to perfection, slightly charred, tender and moist. A perfect salad.

Another good salad they offer is the Grilled Chicken Caesar. A solid and delicious caesar though what stands way out is the giant parmesan waffle crisp that accompanies it. The entire crisp is parmesan!! Oh so good. You can break it up and sprinkle it over like croutons or use it like a tortilla chip and pile your perfect bite on a broken off piece to eat. I could devour just the crisp alone. Let’s hope Bruxie eventually sells just the crisp by the bag full.

Now for the sweets, and boy do they get sweet and crazy good.

The Lemon Meringue Bruxie with raspberries is just ooey gooey sweet tarty goodness. A classic and delicious combination.

And then there is this.

This complete surprise and amazing thing of a waffle.

Your eyes do not decieve you.

Yes, that is chocolate floating perfectly INSIDE a waffle. No need to drizzle it over the top, Bruxie stuffs it in. The Chocolate-Filled Liege Waffle (with carmelized pearl sugar, dark Belgian chocolate stuffed) is an amazing thing to behold, let alone eat. The Liege waffle is fluffy, dense and tender. By being gently sweet, it allows the dark Belgian chocolate to truly be a featured suprise.

I’m not sure how they get the chocolate in there but I suspect they have narrow ‘rods’ of the dark chocolate they push into the just poured Liege batter. While enjoying this perfect dessert, I noticed the chocolate on the outter edges was melty goodness while the chocolate closer to center had a bit more ‘al dente’ chew to it. Just awesome.

Bruxie Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches is so unique and not just in the food. Both locations, in Brea and Old Town Orange, are fun to be at and you feel comfortable to just hang out. What is truly exceptional is the quality of service Bruxie’s staff offers. I have never met a nicer or more friendly staff. Every one of them have genuine smiles on their faces and sincere demeaners. They are eager to help you in any way and truly are happy when you are happy.

I can’t wait to go back!

215 W. Birch Street

Brea, CA  92681

714-255-1118

Half A Tank at Ford’s Filling Station

I’d been wanting to go here for the past year, ever since I drove by and noticed it on my way back from a taping of The Bonnie Hunt show (since cancelled) at the Culver City Studios, I attended about a year ago.

Ford’s Filling Station  this day, was a default destination, as our original Sunday Brunch pick was compromised by a 3 square mile blackout that morning.

We arrived an hour early (cursed Yelp for the wrong info) and had to kill time at the local Starbucks (beautifully remodeled). All was on Washington Blvd in the midst of Sony Studios and the Culver City Studios production and filming grounds.

It was a gorgeous Los Angeles morning, sunny and clear with a nice cool tinged breeze. As we walked up, the staff were still cleaning and setting up the nice sized outdoor patio. Upon further reflection, the patio currently (May/June) is not somewhere I’d choose to sit as the beautiful Jacaranda trees are blooming and their pretty purple/blue flowers will drop onto the tables, chairs and ultimately your plate during these months.

I think if you’d like to sit outside, the side and completely covered patio would be your best bet even though you’ll be staring at the yellow umbrellas and patrons of the vegan establishment next door. Maybe y’all can share a meat plate with them.

The staff was very friendly upon entering and allowed us to choose our own table. I immediately liked the design and feel of the space. Ford’s logo and general concept really resonated with me and what I truly love and like my inner space to be. It is constructed of warm brown tones, exposed brick walls, a high ceiling of wood beams and down to earth and slightly beat up furniture. It was very comfortable and inviting. I almost felt like I was in the house I grew up in.

Once we got down to business, we ordered a starter of Ford’s Deviled Eggs (with Smoky Marash Peppers).

 They were tasty enough but nothing special. I assume the Marash Peppers were the sprinkled red topping that is usually the role of Paprika. Though a unique pepper flavor in its own right, I really couldn’t tell it apart from generic paprika. Marash Pepper should have lent some heat to the dish but there was none. Maybe more of it or actually mixing it into the filling would have featured it better? The egg filling itself was spooned in (rustically) and not piped, was a tad dry and again, generic in flavor. It could have been so much more. I did rather like taking a bite with the accompanying garnish of radish micro greens.

We asked our server, Liam, to pace our selections so as not to have them pile up on the table and go cold on us, which he was happy to do.

Our second selection was the brunch item Blue Maxx (poached eggs, bacon smoked potato, spinach, fontina and hollandaise)

I really liked this hearty dish. The poached eggs were tender with a slightly runny center. I like mine with a much runnier heart, but these hit the spot just fine. The potatoes were tender but not griddled, no crustiness to them, just good tender potatoes. I couldn’t detect any of the bacon ‘smokiness’ described on the menu. The fontina was deliciously melty and the hollandaise was bright, tangy and flavorful. The bacon on the side was just barely crisp around the edges and a bit floppy. I was fine with it but I think many may have thought them undercooked.

We ordered our two entrees and sat back to enjoy Ford’s comfortable ambiance. I soon spied our server (and bartender) Liam, mixing a big tub of something pale yellow and juicy looking. I got up and went over to ask what it was he was mixing. It was fresh squeezed lemonade! I asked if they used it as a mixer for something (anything) alcoholic and he said he could do anything I wanted…right answer! So I asked for a lemonade and Grey Goose cocktail. No problem, Liam said, so I sit back down eagerly awaiting our food AND my drink.

It was perfect. Liam knows how to make a cocktail. It was crisp and refreshing and very smooth. If I hadn’t been driving, I would have ordered two more.

Both entrees arrive at the same time.

First up is the Skillet Fried Chicken (ham hock risotto, wilted red frill mustard greens) that our server Liam stated was his favorite dish on the menu. 

The chicken here was not what I was expecting. Fried Chicken has a certain connotation that comes with a distinct image when stated and this was not it. This chicken was more of a pounded thin cutlet in four pieces, breaded (in panko?) and yes, most likely shallow fried in a cast iron skillet. It reminded me very much of Hawaiian Chicken Katsu. Sadly, it was on the dry, tough side with not much flavor to be had. The ham hock risotto wasn’t much better.

The risotto was not as flavorful as one would think, even with the ham bits and green onions interspersed throughout. It was a bit oily instead of creamy. I don’t feel the arborio rice was cooked long enough to allow it to develop the required starch creaminess. The wilted mustard greens were quite tasty. I enjoyed their tangy/tart vinegar dressing. Wilted though they were, they also had a top crispiness that made me think the morning chef possibly put them under the broiler or grill to char the wilt up a bit. I definitely liked them and their contrasting textures. 

Our second entrée was the Polenta Cake (pearl onion, mixed mushroom, blistered tomato and truffle mascarpone cheese)

It was a beautiful plate. The polenta cake was quite large. I’m thinking it was at least 2 inches thick, topped with a large dollop of  mascarpone cheese with a crazy afro of frizee lettuce. Surrounding it all was a lovely and flavorful mosaic of roasted/blistered yellow and red tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and white and purple baby onions.

It was all flavorful together. I really enjoyed the vegetable mosaic on their own as well as with the polenta cake. The cake itself, I felt, was a bit too thick. We were both slicing off pieces, then cutting those into smaller bite sized bits to top with the mascarpone (no real truffle flavor was to be detected), onion, tomato and mushroom. It was a nice bite even though the polenta was lacking in much flavor on its own.

Brunch was good but not great. The ambiance alone will draw me back, along with the really friendly staff and nicely attentive & accommodating service.

I’ll go again. There are many other dishes on the menu I would like to try, so they will surely be seeing me again …for dinner perhaps?

9531 Culver Boulevard

Culver City, CA 90232-2618

310-202-1470

Dolphins Serving Breakfast…

…which they almost do, at The Terrace Cafe, inside/outside of the historic Hotel Laguna on the gorgeous sands of Main Beach, Laguna Beach.

I arrived a bit early and had a few minutes to burn while I awaited my breakfast mate, Anita (MadHungryWoman). As I walked through the lobby and on down a long hallway, I was intrigued by the numerous black & white photographs of Laguna Beach past, that line the wall. These range from the late 1800’s to the mid 1950’s and WOW, has Laguna changed in 100 years. Most of these are historical photographs that are the Hotel Laguna centric, which is quite interesting, as you see the hotel change shape and form from a humble two-story, sandy and wood sided retreat to the beautiful icon it is today. I easily spent over 20 minutes looking closely at these records of the amazing Hotel Laguna and Laguna Beach’s past.

I’ve been a resident of Laguna Beach for over 14 years now, though I’ve played, eaten and partied in and about the town for more like 20 years. I sadly say, I have missed out on one of the most unique restaurant locations this town has to offer. This is the very first time I’ve had the pleasure to eat at The Terrace Cafe.

Once Anita arrived, we made our way to The Terrace Cafe, which is down the hallway to the left just beyond the historic pictorial passage. As you enter you are greeted by a warm, comfortable and casual space which seems most likely, at this early hour, meant for the lunch and later cocktail crowd.

The Terrace Cafe’s Upper Mural Chill Out Space

From there you’ll walk around a bar and down some steps, when you realize there is a gorgeous view and extensive patio before and beyond the windows in front of you.

As Anita and I finally get outside, I really am shocked to have not known of this gem from my 14 years of life just blocks away. Really shocked…and ultimately overjoyed at the wonder of it all.

The Hotel Laguna's Inner Courtyard

The Grand and Gorgeous Patio

 

Crazy beautiful, right? We’d had rain all night and into the early morning. It was supposed to be a gray, hazy, cool and typical ‘June Gloom’ day for us but it was surprisingly a clear, sunny and a perfect 70 degree beach morning. 
 
Here is where the dolphins come in! As we made our way outside to find a table, our server Genia, excitedly mentioned that they’d been seeing dolphins break just off the beach, along the kelp beds that have been growing strong these past few years, yards from The Terrace’s beach front.
 
How excitedly amazed was I, as no sooner had Anita and I sat down, looking out to take in the breathtaking morning, that numerous dolphins started breaking waves. I was mesmerized. I always feel like a little boy when this happens. My enthusiasm and excitement for the joy of a dolphin sighting easily overwhelms me. I grew up in the foothills of the landlocked Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York and dolphins were always a fantastical dream to me then and I joyously report, an equally fantastical dream to me now as an adult, who has seen them numerous times since moving to California in the late 80’s. I never tire of the sight. 
 
After the initial shock and awe of the dolphins and finally choosing a perfect table (among many perfect tables) along the glass wall above the sand, you can’t fail to then be awed with an unabstructed view of the amazing Laguna coastline to the south and the picturesque ‘Main Beach’  view to the north. 

View to the South

View north to Main Beach

 
So far, so amazing, right?? And I haven’t even gotten to the food yet!
 
I unabashedly ordered a screwdriver (made with fresh squeezed OJ), as I’m off from work and it’s a ‘what the hell’ kind of gorgeous morning, with dolphins frolicking nearby. Though, once it arrived and after one (yes, just one) sip, I knocked it right over, onto my shorts, down the glass wall. I sadly watched it drain away… though quickly brightened up as a replacement was said to be coming. Anita was quick to point out that I oddly have a pattern of knocking over first drinks, though not seconds, and never the ever-present tall glass of water. Hmmmmm….why is that? Old age? Klutz? Both?
 
After two or three sips of the new screwdriver (none was going to waste, this round), it was time to focus on the menu.

Menu: Top Portion Only

I post part of it here to let you peruse just some of the teasingly delectable offerings The Terrace Cafe has to offer for breakfast. If I had more than one stomach, I would have ordered one of everything. So I narrowed it down to just two, Anita did the same, and damn, did we do good!
 
First to arrive was my order: Lemon-Scented Pancakes with Blueberry Compote, Vanilla Bean Chantilly Cream, Real Maple Syrup.

 These were a triad of large tender cakes, at least 8-9 inches in diameter each, perfectly griddled and golden. They were of light texture with an almost ‘Al Dente’ chew. I know that’s an odd way of describing a pancake but I haven’t been able to come up with one that better describes the tender pull and pleasant chewyness of them. I’m baffled as to what makes them so. Hopefully Chef Paul Bauer will whisper his recipe and technique to me during a future visit. 

The Vanilla Bean Chantilly Cream paired beautifully with the tart Blueberry Compote, so much so, I completely ignored the Pure Maple Syrup.

My Perfect Bite

The only chagrin was the scent of what? Lemons? Other than the lovely lemon twist garnish, I could detect nothing of the citrus about the dish. Was that the point? It’s neither here nor there for me, though what I’d like you to know is that I did have to take 2 of the 3 pancakes home and that they reheat beautifully in the microwave. Clamshelled between two plates and reheated at half power for a gentle warming, the pancakes retain their light, tender chewyness as if freshly table brought. 

Now onto more delectables! 

Anita ordered the Hotel Laguna Omelette (egg whites, spinach, roasted red peppers, feta cheese) which was surprisingly more flavorful than either she or I expected. Egg Whites tend to be bland but with the generous and flavorful filling, you enjoy it as part of the inclusive whole.

 

“Please Sir, can I have some more?” and yes, yes we can!, as Anita’s second choosing arrives.
 
The Braised Short Rib Hash looks heartily delicious, as it is settled on the table amongst our other plates. It’s nicely topped with a ‘nest’ of curly, perfectly fried shoestring potatoes that just barely hide two poached egg. I awaited with anticipation as Anita’s fork gently ruptured an egg so the creamy yellow yolk could ooze down through and flavorfully meld with the short rib hash. Upon sampling, sampling…and sampling, it is delicious and deep with rich flavor.  A perfectly done hash. 

Short Rib Hash with Freshly Sliced Varietal Melon

Short Rib Hash

What a breakfast feast already, right? Well there is one more to go.
 
My ordered of Crab Cakes Benedict (blue crab cakes, poached eggs, paprika hollandaise on brioche toast) is placed amongst Ooohs & Ahhhhs. A very picturesque presentation.
Crab Cakes Benedict

 

Gorgeous, yes? I’m happy to say, tasty too.
 
They were a generous crab cake, large, thick and tender and gently crisp, on top of nicely toasted pillows of brioche rounds.  The pillows of brioche were a little too thick for me as they were equal in thickness to the crab cake which I felt fought for top texture/flavor with the crab cakes. The golden and flavorful paprika hollandaise enrobed the poached eggs, perched atop, then cascaded down the crab cakes underneath.
     
And I haven’t even mentioned the breakfast potatoes that are a perfect complement to all the dishes. They are gorgeously golden, perfectly crisp and crunchy exterior, tender within. I could have eaten an entire plate of them.
 
This really was a beautiful breakfast experience. The view, the food, the ambiance along with the pleasant and helpful staff (Genia, you rock!), made us feel like we were hanging out on our own home patio.
 
I’m looking forward to many more good eats on the terrace of The Terrace Cafe this summer.
 
The Terrace Cafe in the Hotel Laguna
425 South Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA  92651
(949) 494-1151
 
 
 
 
 
 

Just A Lime Truck Qwickee

I know the original cast (Chef Jason, CEO Daniel & brilliant sous chef Jesse) are busy with The Food Network’s second season taping of ‘The Great Food Truck Race’, heading to Atlanta for this Memorial Day weekend BUT I was able to leave work early this Saturday past & was excited to hit the Lime Truck and their ‘Stay At Home’ cast of Adam, Chef Mark & Keba because they have brilliantly retained Chef Jason’s food standard AND creativity.

Now this has got to be my favorite ‘boat’ so far of what Chef Mark has been

doing since Chef Jason left him in charge of the food on the truck by galloping off with

a new Lime Truck into the sunrise of The Great Food Truck Race.

The Crispy ‘Gorgonzilla’ & Spinach Gnocchi

These beautiful little pillows have a tenderly crisp, tasty outer shell that

surprises the teeth as you bite down and break into them.

As that surprise demands wonderment  & thought, you are then hit

with an amazingly mouth filling, tangy and creamy bright sourness that is

the gorgonzola cream sauce. It just barely coats the gnocchi pillows

and I would love to have demanded more but I couldn’t find my voice

as I was too overwhelmed by all the flavors and crispy tenderness of perfection filling the entire red & white plaid paper boat.

I loved it so much, this past experience, that I finger licked the boat clean.

If I could have tongue licked it with any sense of dignity, I would have, but I felt the

finger licking was the best alternative to my position standing out front (and to the left) of the truck.

That said, the other very delicious dish they were offering, that I partook of,  was

 the Gooey Lemon Chicken Sandwich.

The Gooey Lemon Chicken Sandwich
This was such a pretty sandwich..really, it was pretty.
I ended up saving it until I got home. I was planning on eating it for dinner
but as it was still warm (and gooey) after the 25 minute drive home,
I just couldn’t resist taking a cursory bite. Well that was the end of the ‘saving’
and on I went to devour the entire thing!
So good, SO good!
 
What I’m sayin’ here is, GO, give the ‘stay at home’ Lime Truck a
joyously hearty visit and you will not be disappointed in the least
at the quality and comparably great flavors & standards
Chef Mark, Keba and Adam are upholding to honour the
training from Chef Jason and Daniel while they chase their dream across this great
nation of Gourmet Food Truck eaters.
 

Mama Needs Some Help

I was looking forward to lunch today with good friends, Anita of MadHungryWoman & Priscilla of She’sCookin. We were originally going to enjoy Indonesian fast food in Garden Grove until Priscilla deflated that idea by informing us it was closed on Mondays. Curses!

A runner-up was now needed…and fast, it was 2 hours to lunch!

Priscilla knew of a place in Huntington Beach, newly opened, so we said “Bring It On”! Mama’s On 39 was the place.

Though Mama’s had had a two-week soft opening, today was the first official, full menu service. Priscilla had gotten there first and was awaiting (eagerly-I’ll pretend) our arrival with the ‘your tables ready’ buzzer in hand.

We were soon seated in the large, simply casual, mute toned and mildly industrial (due to high ceiling of exposed vent piping & supports), wide open dinning room. Our friendly server brought us menus & took our drink orders (tho only after the 4th pass by cuz we were talking so much). I ordered from the Coolers list, the Mama’s Pink Lemonade, made up of fresh lemonade, strawberries & raspberries, muddled, with Soju vodka. If you don’t know what that is, you’re not alone, I didn’t either. Soju Vodka is a 45% proof (they only have a beer&wine license) Korean distilled beverage likened to vodka. It was quite good straight up. I liked my lemonade very much. It was bright & tangy sweet.

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Anita ordered out starter, Pabst Steamed Litteneck Clams (fresh Carlsbad Farms clams in olive oil, garlic ‘n Pabst Blue Ribbon beer). They were average and nothing special, tho we all thought the low-grade beer gave the broth a prominent bitter top AND after taste.

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My lunch order was breakfast (my favorite meal for every meal) which is served all day. My very hot plated (hot enough to burn, which I discovered trying to turn the plate for a blog shot) Pulled Chicken’n Brie Scramble (eggs, pulled roasted chicken, wild mushrooms, sage, brie cheese). It looked beautiful enough. The brie was plenty & perfectly soft,  just starting to ooze from the heat of the scramble. The mushrooms were nicely represented and flavorful, sharing scrambled time with grilled shallots. The pulled roasted chicken, tho plenty, was a mild let down. A bit dry, tough and flavorless, it’s as though they pulled the chicken first THEN roasted it. A nice surprise was the perfectly fried sage leaves garnish.

You would think from all that, it would be WOW in the mouth…but sadly wasn’t so. It ended up pretty much, bland. Weird, I know. I’m as surprised as you!

Anita, tho, came to the rescue!, with her trusty, always present, Spice Pouch of Wonder, with it numerous mini jars of Sea Salt, Sel Gris, Claes Salt and micro pepper grinder. After much tinkering, seasoning with Sea & Claes Salt and numerous twists of the pepper grinder, my scramble turned out quite palatable. So much so, I finished it!

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So Priscilla ordered the Green Eggs’n Ham Skillet (eggs, smoked ham, spinach, griddled onions, avocado, pesto). After we all got a sample, Priscilla noticed they forgot a prime ingrediant…THE HAM! Can’t have Green Eggs’n Ham without the ham, Dr. Seuss would be turning over in his grave (along with the Fox in a Box, Mouse in a House and mostly Here or There). So a replacement skillet was ordered….

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Anita would go on to order the Cowboy Sandwich (chargrilled steak, crispy onions, shishito peppers, sliced brie). The steak was ordered medium rare, tho came just about tartare. The tomato based slather overpowered all the other flavors on the overly stuffed sandwich. Even the Spice Pouch of Wonder couldn’t save it. The only silver lining was that it looked great.

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Anita rather liked the homemade potato chips, sprinkled lightly with seasoning salt. I found them a bit too over cooked and dark, for my taste.

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We are all a bit saddened by it all at this point. The table has been cleared and we are now waiting for Priscilla’s replacement skillet to arrive. Again, it looked great, but upon a jiggle, it well…jiggled! Anita takes a knife to its center for a taste and raw egg liquid comes-a-oozing out. It was extremely undercooked.

The staff was friendly and the assistant GM was apologetic. They do have a Thrifty’s Ice Cream counter inside with an outdoor order window for those who love Thrifty’s ice cream. I was willing to give Mama’s On 39 the benefit of the doubt as a new restaurant just finding it’s legs but after being informed they are owned/run by the same group that is responsible for the numerous Salt Creek Grilles, I just had to shake my head.

Oh well, regardless, I had a really nice time with my friends.

Mama’s On 39  21022 Beach Blvd, Huntington Beach, CA