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Blue Dog Beer Tavern | Sherman Oaks, CA

we heard blue dog beer tavern had great burgers and have been waiting to try it.  good thing we have awesome friends who went to try it with us.  we came here on a sunday, a little after 11am (opening time).  this was a great time for us since we beat the crowd.

what we ordered:

  • the dickens – onion rings, aged cheddar, swiss cheese, and root beer bbq sauce (i’m a sweet bbq lover) $12  
  • the fire starter – beef patty, pepper jack cheese, crispy onion strings and a fiery dose of deep-fired jalapeños  and honey chipotle dressing. $12
  • black ‘n bleu burger – beef patty blacken, bleu cheese, bacon and bbq sauce.  $12
  • blue dog burger – grilled mushrooms, bacon, caramelized onions, swiss cheese, root beer bbq sauce
  • ice cream sandwich $7

blue dog beer tavern, think dogs. lots of them. everywhere (even on the menu).

Blue Dog Tavern Sherman OaksBlue Dog Tavern Sherman Oaks

thoughts on the dickens burger.  it was a good burger.  greatest? no, but still a good burger.  i had to get this one because its everything i love: bbq sauce and onion rings.  i liked the bbq sauce and onion rings but nothing stood out.

Blue Dog Tavern Sherman Oaks

i take that back.  one thing that did stand out was the bun (same bun on all the burgers we ate).  great bun.  soft, but not too soft that the whole thing get soggy and falls apart.

the fire starter (below) was very, very good in my opinion.  loved the jalapeños and the chipotle sauce.  would definitely get this again.

Blue Dog Tavern Sherman OaksBlue Dog Tavern Sherman OaksBlue Dog Tavern Sherman Oaks

black ‘n bleu burger.  according to our friend, it was pretty good as well.

Blue Dog Tavern Sherman Oaks

each burger comes with salad or fries (regular or garlic).  for those who know me, i never opt for the salad.  anyway, for some reason, i always think that garlic fries are going to be awesome.  8 out of 10 times, i am wrong.  i love garlic but most of the time, the garlic is way to strong for a social setting and you are battling bad breath all day and into the next day.  so, these garlic fries are intense.  just look at my one bite.  yeah, intense.

unless you like popping cloves in your mouth, stick with regular fries.

Blue Dog Tavern Sherman Oaks

blue dog burger.  pretty much the dickens but instead of fried onion rings, caramelized ones and some nice bacon.  our friends thought it was just okay.  (they are still huge fans of golden state)

Blue Dog Tavern Sherman OaksBlue Dog Tavern Sherman OaksBlue Dog Tavern Sherman Oaks

onto the ice cream sandwich.  i was crushed that there were no non-chocolate desserts.  but everyone said we had to get this delicious ice cream sandwich.  they were right.  it was a hit and devoured in 5 minutes.  definitely must get this.

awesome story about dessert: our server over heard kyle making fun of me for not having any dessert to eat so he came out with a bowl of vanilla ice cream just for me!! i instantly fell in love with this place.  blue dog beer tavern, i thank you for being so freaking awesome and for the consideration.

Blue Dog Tavern Sherman OaksBlue Dog Tavern Sherman Oaks

overall: blue dog beer tavern, great joint to watch sports.  great place to hang out with friends and enjoy a burger and some beer.  you wont be disappointed…especially with the ice cream sandwich.  price point is on the high side, especially for a burger but one can argue this is on the gourmet side.

tip: small parking lot so you might have to search the streets for parking.

Blue Dog Beer Tavern
4524 Saugus Ave
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Neighborhood: Sherman Oaks

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By |April 10th, 2013|Dessert, Food, Restaurants|1 Comment

Bottomless Brunch @ Zengo | Santa Monica, CA

Zengo | Santa MonicaZengo | Santa Monica

bottomless brunch at zengo.  thats what happened when we tried to go to sonoma wine garden and it was a 2 and a half hour wait.  brunch is served 11:30 to 3pm (3 hour limit). $35 a person and includes brunch cocktails.  as far as cocktails, we ordered it all: lychee bellini, sake sangria, traditional and mango mimosa.  all amazing but my favorite is the lychee bellini.  our waiter suggested that he just start bringing out everything on the menu so that we can taste it all but we had the option to reorder things we loved.  literally the food just kept on flowing.

Zengo Santa Monica

steak benedict with kimchee.  kyle and i obviously did not eat this because we hate eggs but our friends thought it was ehh. housemade meatballs with ginger and garlic, on the other hand, were good.

Zengo | Santa MonicaZengo | Santa Monica

carnitas hash was very tasty (regardless of the egg on top).  kind of wish we got more of this.

Zengo | Santa Monica

angry zengo roll was ok.  its not going to be the best sushi roll you have ever tasted especially since there are so many other things on this menu you should get.  like for instance, the thai chicken empanadas!  probably the best thing on this menu! unexpectedly delicious! you must get a few orders of this one!  we would come back just for this empanada.

Zengo Santa Monica

roasted chicken omelette was just an omelette.

Zengo | Santa Monica

we, along with everyone else opted to sit outside on this nice beautiful day. note that this restaurant is on the third floor of santa monica place (aka the outdoor mall) so it is not on the beach but near it.  if you can, sit outside.

Zengo | Santa MonicaZengo | Santa Monica

roasted chicken satay was just ok.  the salmon with ponzu sauce was on the dry side so we didnt order this after the first plate.

Zengo | Santa Monica

yuca fries…you can never go wrong with fries.  especially if they have a dual dipping sauce.  we got plenty of this.

Zengo | Santa Monica

here it comes!  the second favorite of the day:  the sliders.  we ordered this probably four times.  (we know) by the time we got the tofu with sesame chili sauce, we were stuffed.  i dont think anyone really touched this one. we were looking forward to the bacon fried rice but it was just decent and nothing out of this world.

Zengo Santa MonicaZengo | Santa MonicaIMG_1261aZengo | Santa Monica

last but not least, pan dulce.  mexican sweet bread with cinnamon whipped cream.  amazing.  perfect finish to a three hour meal.  notable mention should go to the ceviche.  it was pretty good but we just never took a picture of it.

  • location/atmosphere:  perfect on a nice sunny day.  outdoor seating is the best part in my opinion.  
  • parking: we just parked in the structure connected to third street.
  • service: friendly and relatively fast during the three hours.  during the first hour, our waiter was faster to get dishes out to us compared to the last two hours (we had to remind him to get us some dishes).
  • food: overall, everything here is good.  some dishes were mediocre and then there are dishes such as the empanadas and the hash that definitely stand out.  (we would come back for those empanadas and the dessert fo sho)  food is obviously on the heavier side.  we ended up not eating dinner after this glutton fest. so be prepared.
  • price:  all the food you get and endless cocktails, make it completely worth the $35 you drop.
  • overall:  we started recommending this place to everyone! we love it.

Zengo
395 Santa Monica Pl
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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By |April 1st, 2013|Dessert, Food, Restaurants|0 Comments

Bear Flag Fish Company | Newport Beach, CA

we never actually venture out to newport beach often.  so when we had to meet someone in newport beach, we took the opportunity to eat at bear flag fish company. fresh seafood at reasonable prices…near the beach? no wonder so many people rave about this place. it immediately reminded us of a modern version of places we ate in hawaii.

Bear Flag Fish Company

here is what we ordered:

  • fish taco – yum.  try the special sauce.
  • clam chowder – thought this was pretty good.  
  • salmon poke – good but have had better.  kyle was a little weirded out by the tortilla chips with poke.  i had no issues with this.

Bear Flag Fish CompanyBear Flag Fish CompanyBear Flag Fish CompanyBear Flag Fish Company

  • food:  very fresh seafood.
  • prices: our total bill came out to $22.  not bad at all.
  • parking: the lot was full when we got there so had to find street parking.
  • service: we ordered at the counter and sat ourselves.  fast and efficient.
  • atmosphere:  small, clean.  long communal tables on the inside with some patio seating outside.

Bear Flag Fish Company
407 31st street
newport beach, ca 92663

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By |March 24th, 2013|Food, Restaurants|2 Comments

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe | Los Olivos, CA

after our full day of vineyard adventures in santa barbara, we decided to have dinner at los olivos wine merchant & cafe (after reading a bunch of reviews).  immediately fell in love with the place just from the outside!  we had to wait 15 minutes for our table so we roamed the streets and found awesome lawn chairs.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & CafeLos Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe

i ordered the ravioli, which they make in-house.  mushrooms, ricotta, cream and parmesan ($16, a steal!).  it was delicious! it’s on the hardy side given the creamy sauce but it hit the spot after a long day. this was the best thing we ordered. you have to get this.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & CafeLos Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe

skuna bay salmon – grilled, ricotta-butternut pot stickers, shiitake mushrooms, roasted brussel sprouts.  the fish was very well cooked. $27 though? not worth it.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe

kyle and goldman got the orecchiette with roasted garlic, house-made chicken sausage, oven dried tomato, parmesan, fresh herbs.  this was good but nothing out of this world.  i wish it had stronger flavors.  in my opinion, $18 was a little on the high side but this dish is large.  i’d go with the ravioli.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe

  • food: food is middle to high price range.
  • atmosphere:  very nice, classy restaurant.  white table cloth. large wine selection although we didnt order any.
  • service: pretty good.  attentive
  • parking: ample street parking on a very quaint street
  • overall: i would come back.  it was a lovely place to end a wonderful day at the vineyards.

Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café
2879 Grand Avenue
Los Olivos, CA 93441

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By |March 22nd, 2013|California, Food, Restaurants, Santa Barbara, Travel|0 Comments

Wine Tasting | Santa Barbara, CA

so when it got a little sunnier, warmer…we took a mini trip to santa barbara to go wine tasting. first stop: paula’s pancake house in solvang for some breakfast.

Paula's Pancake HousePaula's Pancake House Paula's Pancake House Paula's Pancake House

we ordered the ortega special.  roast beef, jack cheese, green chili on a sourdough bread.  it was ok.  we also ordered the paula’s special danish pancakes topped with apples and fresh whipped cream.  this was my first time eating a danish pancake.  it was pretty much a lighter pancake! i really enjoyed the texture.  wished the the whipped cream was a little sweeter (it was on the bland side) and next time would definitely order berries…not apples.

Paula's Pancake HousePaula's Pancake HousePaula's Pancake House

paula’s pancake house
1531 mission dr
solvang, ca 93463

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based on a brochure we picked up and some good ol’ interest research, 4 vineyards per day was considered plenty.  4 vineyards was definitely the magic number.  it was the perfect amount of time at each one just lounging and learning about wine.  here’s where we went:

  • imagine wine
  • carr winery
  • roblar winery (because it has some food)
  • brander winery

first stop: imagine wine.  met ross.  learned about wine, his family, his start, local art, and drank some pretty good wines.  we loved it.   the tasting room looks like an art gallery.  lots of natural light. wine tasting is $10  and you get to try 5 wines.

fell in love with the chadonnay and bought some bottles.  oh, one of their wines is called the panty dropper (we know, we felt the same way)  this was a great start to the day.  we would recommend coming here for sure.  say hi to ross for us.

Imagine Wine Santa BarbaraImagine Wine Santa BarbaraImagine Wine Santa Barbara

imagine winery
3563 numancia st #103
santa ynez, ca 93460

next stop was next door to carr winery.  wine tasting room was darker, colder, dark woods high ceilings and a shuffleboard (yes!).  our host was pretty awesome.  wine flights were $10.  not to mention, they also have wine on tap. a pretty cool place (also on the younger side) to just hang out and enjoy wine with friends.

Carr Winery Santa Barbara Carr Winery Santa Barbara

carr winery
3563 numancia st. #101
santa ynez, ca 93460

Carr Winery on Urbanspoon

we picked roblar because they had food w/ wine pairing. we definitely needed food at this point. gorgeous place.  we sat next to the fire place on some comfy couches and enjoyed some food and wine.

Roblar Winery Santa BarbaraRoblar Winery Santa BarbaraRoblar Winery Santa BarbaraRoblar Winery Santa Barbara

we went with the trio package ($20) – tastings of three featured wines paired with three hors d’oeuvres.  we liked the wonton, pork was dry and the pears were ok.  for the four of us, we just ordered two packages.  this was definitely enough.

Roblar Winery Santa BarbaraRoblar Winery Santa BarbaraRoblar Winery Santa Barbara

we couldnt resist.  we had to take jumping pictures in the beautiful vineyard.

Roblar Winery Santa Barbara

very pretty winery.  would we come back?  probably not because there are so many other wineries we would want to try.  the wine was ok.  nothing very memorable (we didnt buy any here).  food was ok.  you would definitely be going here for the atmosphere.

roblar winery
3010 roblar ave.
santa ynez, ca 93460

Roblar Winery on Urbanspoon

last stop: brander vineyard.  we spent quite some time here taking pictures because the property itself is very charming. classic flight with a logo glass $10.

Brander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa Barbara

we loved the staff. very friendly and helpful.  wine was good.  they are known for their sauvignon blanc.  we were fans.

IMG_0722Brander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa BarbaraBrander Winery Santa Barbara

i would definitely come back to you, brander vineyard.

brander vineyard
2401 refugio road
los olivos, ca 93441

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it was nice getting away…and wine is always better with friends.  thank you, santa barbara.

By |March 18th, 2013|California, Food, Friends, Restaurants, Santa Barbara, Travel|0 Comments