Sunday, March 15, 2015

North End Cafe - Manhattan Beach, CA

The North End Cafe was a neighborhood restaurant like so many triple D restaurants.  It's hard to go wrong in southern California.  The weather is so often so nice that the outdoor tables are almost always an option.  This restaurant was just a block or so from one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.  It 's hard to be in a bad mood here.

You order at the register, they prepare the food and it arrives at your table.

I ordered the avocado chicken sandwich and tomato basil soup.  I washed it down with a long hammer IPA.  You can read my beer review on  The basil soup was really super.  The avocado chicken sandwich was pretty good.  $28 for a soup, sandwich and beer at a place where you order at the counter was a little pricey.  

I would rate north and Café 8.5 out of 10.  The food was pretty good and the location was great but something just didn't "wow"me about this place. it's still worth checking out.

The North End Cafe
3421 Highland Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 546-GRUB (4782)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Tokyo Dog - Seattle, WA

Tokyo Dog is not a traditional restaurant.  It is actually a hot dog truck, or trailer more specifically.  What makes this special is that it is a Japanese-German fusion. The hot dogs are actually high quality German wursts given a sushi treatment.  It kind of reminds me of Guy Fieri's Tex Wasabi concept which is a Tex-mex sushi fusion.

I had the Roppongi Dog which is a good quality rotterwuerst with cream cheese, teriyaki onions and spiced mayo.   I was very pleasantly surprised.  
The presentation is kind of cool.  You're not sure if you are looking at a mutant sushi roll or what.  (It looked better when he first handed it to me rather than after I handled it then took the picture.) 
They whisk the teriyaki and mayo sauce over the top of the dog like a piece of sushi.  The bread was equally high-quality.   It was a soft keiser roll obviously from a real bakery. The hot dog and onions is a very familiar taste but, after they add the cream cheese and the Japanese spices, it takes a crazy culinary turn.

Service was pretty good, especially for a truck.  I was completely confused with their menu and the young lady in the truck walked me through it and I ordered on her recommendation. 

I caught up with Tokyo Dog outside the Starbucks building in Seattle. There were two or three other food trucks outside the building at the same time.  If you show up here then you might get some choices.
I liked the Tokyo Dog so much that I decided to review it.  I would rate Tokyo Dog an 8.7.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Coco's Italian Market- Nashville, TN

I loved Coco's.  I'm not sure that I've ever been in an Italian market outside of Italy.  There are so many great foods that come from Italy, I'm not sure why.  It was really a market, bakery and restaurant.

When you first walk in, you are in the market.  The market had all kinds of canned and jarred foods, cakes, cookies, you name it.  They also had huge jugs of Nutella with a sign next to it warning people because people have evidently dropped them before probably making a huge mess.

There are a few cold cases.  One had really delicious looking gelato, another one had meats and cheeses.  Yet another had cakes and another chocolates.  They did entice me to try a slice of one of the cakes.  More on that later.  They also had a bar with all kinds of olives, probably for take-out.

The menu was pretty extensive.  They had all of the pasta dishes that you would expect.  I'm told that their pizza is also really good.

I started with an Italian salad; spring mix, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes red onions, roasted red peppers, topped with a vinaigrette.  They claim that they believe in garden to table.

I ordered the vegetable lasagna.  It was served in a baked dish that was incredibly hot when it was served. There was no meat in the dish but, it was filling like there was.  From their menu, the ingredients were "pasta, mushrooms, carrots, sun dried tomatoes and spinach baked with mozzarella, ricotta and egg mixture, Romano and parmesan."  It was really delicious.

So, I went with the veggie lasagna so that I could really indulge with the godiva chocolate cake.  Wow, that was a decadent indulgence.  You can probably get that at the cheesecake factory, but this place just put me in the mood.

Overall, I would rate coco's 9.3 on a 10 point scale.  Service was also really good.  Our server was really friendly and fast.

There was also a bonus.  They had a bocci ball court outside and signs that look like they must sponsor a bocci ball league.  So, this looks like a fun place.

Coco's Italian Market
411 51st Ave N
Nashville, TN 37209
Phone (615) 783-0114

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Empire Brewing Company - Syracuse, NY

Empire Brewing Company is a great micro brewery in the Armory section of Syracuse.  The Armory District has obviously gone under a renaissance in the past few years. The area has lots of really good restaurants and at least one very good brewery-restaurant.

You descend down into the Empire brewery through a set of stairs on the sidewalk. It sits below a barber shop.  A real working micro brewery sits behind glass behind the bar. The boil vessels are copper. My bartender told me that they are very old but she couldn't remember exactly how old or where they came from.

The brewery is literally "award winning." There are award after award hanging on the walls around the brewpub. Many of which where from the Great American Brew Festival spanning over several years.

Empire brewery is a brewery first and a brew-pub second. I think that this might be the first triple D restaurant that I've been to that did not advertise the fact in any way.  There was absolutely no evidence of the food network having ever been there; no pictures of guy, no"Guy ate this" notation on the menu. Nothing.

I ordered the elk burger; medium rare with sweet potato fries. I have no complaints about the burger whatsoever. It was fine. But, the food is a second act to the beer.

The first beer that I ordered was a Black Magic Stout. You can read my Untappd review of it here.  My second beer was hey Waldorf Honey Ale. My bartender explained that the brewery has an arrangement with the famous Waldorf Hotel in new York city. Evidently the Hotel has bees on the roof of the hotel and the hotel supplies the brewery with honey and in exchange the brewery supplies for the hotel with beer. You can read my untapped review here.

I was chatting with one of the bartenders and her boyfriend waiter who are also home brewers. They were quite enthusiastic about the brewery, Their own homebrew and beer in general. So, it was a very nice conversation.

I would rate Empire Brewing Co. a 9.3.  I will go back when I'm back in Syracuse again.

Empire Brewing Company
120 Walton St
Syracuse, NY 13202

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Byblos Mediterranean grill - Syracuse, NY

Byblos Mediteranean was a nice neighborhood restaurant with really good quality mediterranean food.

It's tiny.  There are just a few tables and a bar at the window.  It would be tough to bring a large group here.  Although the delivery dude came in.  So, it probably would be good to cater a larger party.

I got the hummus with honey and shish kabobs.  I don't know how they did it but, both dishes just seemed more flavorful and fresh than the same thing that I've had elsewhere.  The beef had a nice smokey flavor like it was cooked on a charcoal grill but, I don't think that it was.  The salad that came with it was similar.  It had more of a citrusy punch.  Maybe they had a genie in back.  Who knows.

I'd give it an 8.5. Well worth checking out.  Everything is really healthy, too unlike most DDD restaurants.

223 N. Clinton St.
Syracuse, NY 13202
Phone: (315) 478-3333

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Diamond Bear Brewery - North Little Rock, AR

I didn't set out to review Diamond Bear Brewing, but I enjoyed it so much that I felt the need to share.  It's not just a brewery bar.  The bar has some really good food to go with their really good beer.  As it turned out, I had a whole afternoon to get to know this place.

The first beer that I tried was the Presidential IPA. Nicely balanced malt taste. Sharply bitter. Not noticeably aromatic. Paired well with the tomato basil soup.  You can read my untappd beer review here.

The restaurant atmosphere was really friendly.  I ended up chatting a long time with the waiter and the cook who were really nice guys.  The restaurant was not a dive but, it was in a dive neighborhood.

The service was really good.  The bartender/waiter was really eager to get samples to me and was very attentive. He hustled like he really cared.

I tried just a sample glass of their southern blonde. I found it to be very citrusy and pleasing but, not quite what I was looking for.  The name implies that this was a blond ale but, it was actually a pilsner.

My next beer was the Dogtown Brown Ale.  I'm sure that there is a story behind the name but, I have no idea what it is.  The thick round maltiness seems to be their style.You can read my beer review here.

I ordered the Fresno Club sandwich. It was surprisingly good.  It had good quality bread, was perfectly toasted and they obviously used other high quality ingredients.  I really didn't expect that in this semi-rough neighborhood.  It was a pleasant surprise.  The potato salad was likewise a pleasant surprise.  It was the vinegary German style; really good.

The brewery was in full operation while I was there.  The brewery workers were having lunch at the bar while I was there then went back inside after a while.  There are big picture windows from the restaurant that look into brewery.  Some of the fermenting vessels had nameplates on them. I read Laverne, Shirley and Larry.  I know that Laverne and Shirley were fictional brewery workers.  I'm not sure what the story with Larry was.

 Strawberry Blonde Nice grapefruit like citrusy bite. Malty ale taste and thick mouthfeel. I don't really taste strawberry but I liked it.

Diamond Bear Brewing Company
600 N Broadway St
North Little Rock, AR 72114

Monday, December 15, 2014

Sasquatch Brewing Company - Portland, OR

It was my luck that I happen to pick a great summer day to visit the Sasquatch Brewing Company.  I was able to sit outside and enjoy the evening while sipping some really great Pacific Northwest craft beer.

Sasquatch Brewing was not a triple-D restaurant but, it reminded me of one.  Like so many triple-D joints, Sasquatch was a neighborhood restaurant.  There were lots of kids there during the dinner hour.  People were walking up in flip-flops and riding up on bicycles.  There were probably six bikes locked up as they leaned against the rail.  I was glad to be outside with the traffic because it was relatively quiet compared to the noisy kids inside.

I started with a pretzel with syrup and mustard.  The pretzel was very nice fresh baked bread.  The yeasty bread pairs very nicely with the beer.  The mustard had a really nice texture and smell thanks to the maple syrup.  I had never heard of such a combination but, it really worked.  I'm surprised that I found this in Oregon and not Maine but, whatever...

I tried their Hairy Knuckle Stout.  You can check out my review of that beer here.  I also tried their DB Cooper copper ale.  I'm not sure why I didn't review it on untappd but, I didn't.  Both beers were really very good.

I ordered the quinoa hash for my main course.  I'm not sure what I was expecting.  I've had quinoa before and it was very unimpressive even if it is really healthy.  This was actually really excellent.  It had a thin tomato sauce and some other bits of vegetables mixed in.  I figured that it was one of those foo-foo meals where you want to go out for a burger an hour later.   Surprisingly, I was not hungry at all after the quinoa, pretzel and a couple of beers.

Sasquatch was not a triple-D restaurant so, in the rating we take points off for not fitting the diner, drive-inn or dive criteria even though I do not mean to reflect anything negative about the place at all.   Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening and I highly recommend this restaurant.  My rating nonetheless was 8.9; still very respectable even for a restaurant fitting the criteria.

6440 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, OR 97239
Phone:(503) 402-1999