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Entries in Steak (23)

Sunday
Jun172012

Crogan's, Montclair Village, Oakland

I am a frequent visitor to the Monteclair Village of Oakland. There are several dining options, most of them catering to families and take-away's. Crogan’s is a American pub serving a lot of American classics. I’ve eaten here on various occasions, the food has always struck me as hearty, basic and fills a nitch in the local scene. They also have a bar with big-screens.

For lunch this time in, I ordered a daily special, Crogan’s open-faced, blackened  rib-eye sandwich. It lived up to the basic expectations set forth from earlier experiences. The blackening job was reasonably spicy and with the addition of a chipotle mayonnaise, additional fat and spice were a spoonful away. I didn’t have to trim too much away from the meat and the steak was done at a medium temperature.

The coleslaw was a bit wet and saucy for me, but was probably healthier than French fries.

I’ll probably keep going to Crogan’s for no-nonsense, family dining

Crogan's Montclair on Urbanspoon
Monday
Jun112012

Belvedere at The Padre Hotel, Bakersfield

I had an overnight in Bakersfield recently. It’s officially the first time I’ve ever stayed in a hotel in Bakersfield, so I decided to stay at the best place in town, The Padre Hotel.

The Padre is nearly out-of-place in Bako. The hotel feels like it should be in San Diego or Denver, just not Bakersfield, but that's a good thing. The vibe is good. The staff was friendly to me, even on the elevators. Lots of smiles.

 

I had two meals at the hotel, dinner and breakfast.

I decided on Belvedere, the fine dining establishment for dinner. It was a bit late, so I didn’t go all in with appetizer and dessert. Instead, I stuck with a Cured Ham staple, rib-eye and creamed spinach. The restaurant is intimately lit, so I have no food porn pictures for you of dinner.

The rib-eye was a perfect medium rare and well seasoned., The steak had a good crust and evenly cooked. I was offered a side of wild mushrooms in addition to my creamed spinach, as I didn’t care for any starch. The wild mushroom blend was seasoned with a hint of nutmeg. I was given bonus points from my server for correctly identifying the seasoning. The creamed spinach was whole leaf in nature, served in its own bowl and had a generous amount of cream and garlic.

Elegant dining room, elegant hotel. I look forward to my return to the main dining room.

 

My breakfast the following morning was also a classic, chicken fried steak and eggs with sausage gravy and fried potatoes. The breading on my steak certainly was pronounced, just like it would be on fried chicken. Well seasoned breading, not an afterthought but rather, part of the dish. My eggs were over easy as ordered. Potatoes were both crispy on the outside and thoroughly soft on the inside and again, well seasoned.

Absolutely wonderful and when compared to the chicken fried steak I had recently in Seattle at Local 360, it’s tough to declare a “winner”. I think the batter and fry job at The Padre was superior. Local 360’s gravy was far more refined and original, but The Padre’s sausage gravy was classic and rich. I think the edge goes to The Padre.

Belvedere on Urbanspoon

Friday
Jun082012

Thanks for Reading Fresno's Love Affair with Tri-Tip

It was a real pleasure to interact with everyone online this entire week regarding Fresno's love affair with Tri-Tip.

For those that missed it this week:

Part 1 took us on a nostalgic journey to the Central Coast and the early 1980's

Part 2 brought us home to Bulldog Tailgates and the early Jedi Master's of tri-tip

Part 3 lead us to today and the current malaise of tri-tip in Fresno, but also brings a "New Hope" stemming from grilling and BBQ traditionalists

The entire tri-tip series was fun to write. I have no idea what type of feature story I'm going to write about next. The "Open Letter" series generated vigorous discussion on and off line. The tri-tip series was a direct result of having all of these conversations on-line with other foodies.

We'll see where the wind blows, but I've been having a great time traveling up and down Highway 99 and Highway 101 and the various spurs throughout California. However, since Tioga Pass opened for the season, I really need to get to the East Side, backpack, and eat up and down Highway 395.

We're back on the regular program next week, restaurant reviews. As I mentioned, I've been eating up and down Highway 99 and Highway 101 recently.

Thursday
Mar152012

Cosmopolitan Bar and Grill, Downtown Fresno

I’ve never been to The Cosmopolitan Bar and Grill, known lovingly in Fresno as Cosmo’s. It’s been around since 1933 and is a staple in Downtown Fresno. Let’s be honest, most people remember exactly how to get here, not because it’s downtown, but because it’s across the street from Wildcat Adult Entertainment, a burr in the saddle of Fresno for a long time.

Here’s how the conversation goes,

“Where is Cosmo’s again? I know it’s downtown, but I forget where exactly.”

“You know, the building that’s painted purple downtown, the porno shop on the corner there off of G Street and Fresno …across the street is Cosmo’s.”

“Oh right, G Street. Isn’t The Basque Hotel around there too?”

“The Basque is around the corner across from the empty lot.  Just go to the porno shop and you can’t miss Cosmo’s, it’s across the street.”

Some people navigate by streets. Some navigate by landmarks.

Now that we have our directions clear, I was out to dinner with my cousins, well established eaters and patrons of legendary Cosmo’s. No, I didn't bring my camera or cell phone inside to take pictures, I was there with friends and family and didn't want to act like "the food critic" with a camera. My Master Jedi Powers allow me to make mental notes on the food without visual aides when necessary, this was one of those times where The Force guides my review (and a good visual memory).

We did the full set up, apps, mains, and dessert. Simple appetizers of the ubiquitous fried calamari (I think it’s CA law now that eating establishments must have fried calamari on the menu) and shrimp as well as a new item on the menu, clam pizza. As for the calamari and shrimp, the deep fry job was done properly. The calamari was tender and well seasoned. The shrimps were still moist inside the breading that coated them was crispy.  Tartar and cocktail sauce were provided, I didn't ask if they were house made. No complaints.

The pizza on the other hand, well, it fell short. It was labeled a clam pizza, but I couldn’t taste clams and all I saw on the pie were peppers and tomatoes. One person claimed there were clams, but I found no evidence to prove their claim on my pizza. As for the crust, I was left wanting.

Next up were the mains. As standard procedure, when evaluating many a restaurant, I will automatically order the rib-eye.  The Cosmo rib-eye comes with several choices of starch, which I usually don't order, but for evaluative purposes, I went with the rosemary mashed potato. Sticking with a Fresno tradition, soup or salad comes with main dishes; as it was a Friday, I ordered the Manhattan clam chowder (that’s the red one).

The chowder was more like a tomato soup with celery and clams, than a classic Manhattan chowder. Unlike the pizza, it had clams in it and was seasoned more with celery than anything else I could taste, other than the tomato broth. I finished my soup even though I have my internal issues as to what to call it. Tomato Soup with Clams? Minestrone with clams? Anyway, the soup was fine, just confusing to me.

The steak was presented well rested, properly seasoned and a perfect medium rare as ordered. I had absolutely no issue with the steak. In fact, there was nice flavor to the steak, a good crust, and solid seasoning. This was my expectation, well-crafted grilled beef.

I generally don’t order a starch with my steak, but since it was an option, I took my evaluative forkful of potato. Frankly, I don’t care for rosemary in my mash. And since I’m being a hater of infused mashed potatoes, I find the jalapeno mash potatoes at Fleming’s an outrage to serious wine drinkers. Please enjoy your Caymus Special Select with spicy jalapeno’s in you potatoes you jackass. Jalapeno’s are a palate killer, plain and simple. Rosemary can wreck a palate nearly as quickly in many circumstances, hence my avoidance of novelty mash potatoes. Cosmo's probably didn't have rosemary mash potatoes in 1933, just a guess. This dislike of novelty or Fresno Bedazzled Mash is a personal problem of mine, not Cosmo's. I often think Fresno likes "bedazzled" food. Similar to what I mentioned about Yosemite Ranch. I'm sure Cosmo's wouldn't do bedazzled mash if customers didn't like it or some sub-set requested it, but nothing and I mean nothing beats really well made old-fashioned mashed potatoes. Enough novelty mashed potato hating.

I did get a nibble of veal marsala from the opposite end of the table. Italian American  in style, I liked it. The flavors were bold and the veal wasn’t heavily breaded or pounded too thinly. With some simple pasta, that could have been a real winner as well. My Cousin MK got some huge lamb chops and I mean huge, double cut chops cooked right on medium rare plus. I could have easily swapped my steak for those.

I didn’t order dessert personally, but someone thought I’d be a good candidate (because I’m a glutton) to try the bread pudding.  The bread pudding was more like the top of the best apple pie you’ve ever tasted. It was ordered “crispy”, which meant nothing to me at the time, but obviously affected the flavor. The top of the bread, perfectly crisp and seasoned like an apple pie crust. The underside of the bread was wet and similar to pain perdu that I’ve had in French restaurants. The dessert made for a wonderful contrast in the mouth, crispy, sweet, a hint of spice, and mouthfilling. To me, besides the company at the table, it was the highlight of the night.

The moral of the Cosmo’s story (I did lead off with directions for a porno shop, so morals have to come in at some point)? Stick with the classics. It’s hard to go wrong with Fried Calamari, a Big Fat Steak (or Veal Marsala or Lamb Chops), and Bread Pudding. My gut says, you didn’t go to Cosmo’s for flourishes and nuance. My gut also says that in 1933, Cosmo’s didn’t have rosemary mash on the menu either, but probably full-O’butter mashed potatoes, which are 10 times better anyway. 

I’ll be back to Cosmo's and I know exactly how to get there now...it’s around the corner from The Basque Hotel.

Cosmopolitan Tavern & Italian Grill on Urbanspoon
Friday
Jan272012

Eddie V's, La Jolla

Eddie V’s is a concept restaurant group from Darden; who also run The Olive Garden (NOOOOO!) and Capital Grille. It’s a steak house, so I don’t need a menu. Red Wine, Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese, Rib-Eye, and if available Creamed Spinach.

Wedge Salad. The wedge was basically the entire iceberg head with the core removed. No joke. The entire head of iceberg was on the plate, cold to the core, with the bottom and top barely capped off to allow for toppings and a flat base to rest on the plate cleanly rather than rolling around. It was almost comical how large this salad was. I’m all for “going big” at steakhouses, but this was laughable. There’s a corporate bean counter somewhere at Darden’s that can’t be authorizing this.

Rib-Eye. The steak was a bit over crisp on the edges without an even char to the meat. While the steak was done medium rare as requested, the staff asked if we could cut the middle of the steak to check for desired temperature. Personally, I didn’t cut it. Based upon the heat coming from the steak and the plate, the steak wasn’t fully rested. It actually bothers me a bit that they asked me to cut my steak. I don’t want to do the work to check to see if it’s done, that’s what I’m paying the chef for. Considering the steak was $46, I just want to enjoy my piece of beef and not do any work in terms of preparation.

It's my job to eat the steak, it's their job to cook it to my liking without having me cut into it without it rested. Period. 

As for the wine, I brought my own. We sat at the bar during our entire meal. The junior bartender actually asked me how to decant the wine, as she’d never done it before. A little surprising, considering some of the trophy wines on the list.

I had a good experience at Eddie V’s, but it wasn’t my best steakhouse experience. I think atmosphere, sitting in the upstairs breezeway / bar had a lot to do with it. The weather was wonderful as is the view. If I have to compare Eddie V’s to Capital Grille, I’d give the edge to Capital. I’ve had both individual meals and banquets at Capital Grille and I’ve been impressed with the quality. Eddie V’s needs more time to age.

Eddie V's Prime Seafood on Urbanspoon