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It May Not All Be Good For You, But It Sure Is Good!
Ancho's Bar & Grill, Riverside

April 15, 2002 at 12:50:07

We met a friend at Ancho's last night. The friend was late, so after
demolishing one basket of chips and salsa and making headway
on a second we ordered the chicken quesadilas. After the
quesadilas and couple of beers, still no friend, so we forged
ahead.  Ancho's ribs, cheese enchiladas, beans and rice.

The quesadilas were wonderful, especially with the very bright
green rings of sliced chili (don't know what kind) and their
homemade guacamole. Ribs were tender with a nice, smooth
dark BBQ sauce. The enchiladas were fantastic, very simple dish,
just basically very soft tortillas, almost the consistency of a nice,
soft chile relleno, cheese and a dark, mahogany like red chile
sauce. The red chile sauce was excellent, with a very nice, slight
bite to it.

The fresh, warm tortillas, which the waiter kept bringing from the
tortilla machine were fantastic, soooo much better than some dry,
tough thing from a plastic package. The salsa served with the
tortillas (both warm and chips) was of a thick consistency and
had a nice smokiness to it (again I don't know what kind of chiles,
smoked Chipotle maybe).

This place is just one big room, minimal decor, hard surfaces,
crowded and noisy, but oh so good. Simple food, prepared
simply and with care.

Anchos Southwest Grill & Bar
(909) 352-0240
(Across the parking lot from the county welfare department)
10773 Hole Ave
Riverside, CA 92505
Farmer Boys: The Quest For Burger & Shake
Nirvana

July 26, 2002 at 21:53:56

I first became aware of Farmer Boys while cruising the flatlands
of southeast Ontario in Herman a couple of years ago. I paid it no
mind then and for a long time since then as it just looked like a
local version of a typical fast food joint that was nestled in
between warehouses in “Distributionland”. Then about a year
ago another branch of Farmer Boys opened closer to home in
Chino. More recently, I remember a posting that mc michael had
put up on the board about a visit to a newly opened branch in
Hollywood. My recollection is that michael panned this place, and
at that time I figured, better that michael did this field work than I,
since it was apparently not up to ‘hound standards.

I realized recently though, that Farmer Boys has been gnawing at
me. I think it is because before the local area became known as
“Distributionland”, it was “Dairyland”, and there still are a hell of a
lot of cows and farmers around here. So it just seemed that the
natural and right thing to do, would be to support a local dining
establishment that pays homage to all of the farm boys who have
come out of the land around here.

The Mrs. wanted to check out the model homes at a new tract in
Chino last weekend, so I agreed to take her over there (but not to
play looky-loo myself). I figured while Herman and I were parked
in front of the models waiting for our mistress, as we have so
often done at other new home tracts and various shopping
venues, I could try out a little snack from Farmer Boys. Herman,
the Mrs. and I then paid our first visit to Farmer Boys via their drive-
through that afternoon.

While the Mrs. inspected some ridiculously over-priced, under
whelming (meaning these babies were priced from the low
$500,000’s, had tiny bedrooms, cheap construction, cheap,
cheap cabinets, cheap fiberglass modular bathroom fixtures,
were breeding grounds for homeowners’ proliferation of
cancerous offspring from the adjacent high-tension power lines,
and were within walking distance for any escapee from the
nearby California Institution For Men in Chino) homes, (that are
apparently almost sold-out to desperate suck… er buyers. I
enjoyed a diet Pepsi and an order of onion rings from Farmer
Boys while relaxing in Herman.

This first Farmer Boys experience seemed to bode well, as the
onion rings were far better than what this ‘hound has
encountered at typical fast food joints. They were prepared from
fresh, thick cut (about a half an inch to an inch) rings of onions,
with a tight, firm, very thin breading. The breading was not soft or
mushy-like as in a typical beer batter breading, nor was it clumpy
and thin like, say Tony Roma onion “loaf”. Nor was the breading
stale or freezer burn tasting. These were distinct rings of real
onion, with a nice crackly bread coating. The only downside was
the fact that they did not seem to be seasoned with anything, but
a liberal sprinkling of salt took care of that one deficiency.

The fact that Farmer Boys are not captives to the Coca-Cola
company was also gratifying. I have previously established that
diet Pepsi is far and away superior to the nastiness of diet Coke,
so it was a good omen that Farmer Boys were not foisting the
nasty stuff off on me.

Encouraged by my experience this past weekend, I decided to zip
over to Farmer Boys this afternoon and pick up something for my
lunch break. I had to have the onion rings, of course, and I
reasoned that they needed to be paired with a double bacon-
cheeseburger and a large chocolate shake. After all beef,
cheese, milk and ice cream made this town.

On the way over and on the return trip from Farmer Boys my taste
buds were telling my brain “feed me, feed me” whipping
themselves up in to a frenzy in anticipation of buger-rings-shake. I
could barely control Herman, my eyes beginning to glaze over
while stopped, right on the railroad tracks at a red light, almost
oblivious when the green-arrow turned on, overcome by the
wafting aroma of onion rings emanating from the seat beside me.

When I got back to the old homestead, I quickly plated the burger,
laid down the bag of rings and tore it open on the plate, and
popped the plastic lid off the shake. I really wanted to love the
Farmer Boys dining experience, to be able to wax poetic about
Farmer Boys, truly, after all, life has been quite barren here in The
Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire all these years, and
I am a died-in-the-wool ‘hound, on the noble and never ending
mission to find deliciousness. But alas my over-stimulated,
under-gratified taste buds did not find nirvana today.

The rings were good, just as they were the last time, the burger,
although serviceable, was not great, and the shake was a total
disappointment. The burger was approximately the diameter of a
Whopper. Layered from the bottom up on the sesame seed bun
were, thin thousand island dressing, dill pickle chips, leaf lettuce,
tomato slice, onion slivers, burger, cheese, bacon, burger. The
burger patties were very thin, but done on a “charcoal broiler”
rather than a “griddle”. In other words like a Burger King of Carl’s
as opposed to a McDonalds or In-N-Out. I have had Burger King
burgers before and Carl’s (though not Carl’s “Six Dollar Burger”),
this burger was better. But is was not great. The meat was so thin
that there was no hope of even a hint of any meat juice, since it
was cooked through and through. The lettuce seemed to be
wilting (unlike the lettuce on an In-N-Out burger, that stays fresh
and crisp all the way to the last bite), the tomato slice must have
been sliced on a slicing machine calibrated by a micrometer, it
was so thin, I could not taste it. If you did not see the onion
slivers, you would not have known there was any onion on the
burger. But the burger did have a nice meaty, char-coaly, cheesy,
ever so slightly bacon-y taste. So I did enjoy it and wolfed it down.

The abomination passed off as a chocolate shake resembled
some product from the American petrochemical industrial
complex, likely extruded from some machine that someone
poured imitation milk shake mix in to. It was the typical fast food
all purpose “milk shake” liquid base that is far from thick and
creamy, almost too thin, and then most likely infused with
compressed air to make it “fluffy” and give it some “body”. Adding
insult to injury, the ersatz chocolate syrup must have come out of
an eye-dropper, and then the shake was barely and incompletely
mixed, so this “chocolate” shake, did not taste of chocolate, but
rather had an almost “chemically” after-taste, and was about as
brown as a sheet of 20 pound copier paper.

This was a real shame. Here I was in the middle the largest
concentration of cows in the United States, and I could not get a
decent milk shake. The last decent milk shake I had in Chino
was two years ago at the local McDonalds, but that is just a
pleasant, hazy memory now, as apparently the McDonalds
corporate office got wind that some renegade was selling real
milk shakes at their Chino outlet, and the next thing I knew, it was
extrusion machine time at McDonalds. The Chino Chamber of
Commerce should hide their faces in shame. The biggest cow
town in the country can’t even sport a great burger and shake.

So now, as I reflect upon the dining debacle this afternoon, I see
what has to be done. It is as clear to me as the aroma of those
300,000 cows who are domiciled in my neighborhood. It is my
calling, my duty, my noble ‘hound mission, to continue the quest
for a great burger and shake, no matter what far corners of The
Dining Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire that quest may take
me. No matter what peril may fall upon me, no matter what
sacrifices I must make. No matter how many uninspiring burgers
or bad imitations of milk shakes I may have to consume. It is up
to me to prove to all ‘houndom, that, yes, there are great burgers
and shakes to be found and conquered here in The Dining
Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire. So today I make a vow,
that I will not rest until my poor neglected taste buds have found
burger and shake nirvana.

So fellow ‘hounds, until the new In-N-Out opens in town, if you are
heading south on Central Avenue in Chino from the 60, and just
need a snack before visiting that former business colleague who
now resides at the prison at the foot of Central Avenue. Bypass
the Jack-In-The-Box on Central Avenue, bypass the McDonalds
on Central Avenue, and pay a visit to Farmer Boys, on Central
Avenue between Chino Avenue and Schaefer Avenue, get yourself
a double bacon-cheeseburger, some rings, and a Pepsi, and
think of me blazing a trail, on the quest to burger and shake
nirvana, somewhere in the wilderness...

Farmer Boys
13675 Central Ave.
Chino, CA 91710  
Phone    (909) 548-4400
Foraging In The Wilderness - Johnny Carino's

August 19, 2002 at 20:25:07

The Mrs. was burned out from a rough day at the office the other
day and I had received a cancellation for a business dinner I was
going to host, so I called the Mrs. at her office in lovely downtown
Glendale and told her to hot tail it back to Chino, I was taking her
to the new Italian restaurant in town. An hour and a half later the
Mrs. arrived at the old homestead, greeted her Binky-poo (the cat
who owns our house) with some endearing baby talk, fixed her
make-up and we (the Mrs. and I, without The Binkster) headed
down the road in Herman.

As we approached the pseudo-rustico-Italiano-farmhouse-
looking establishment, named “Johnny Carino’s Country Italian”,
which was apparently designed by a moonlighting “Industry” art
director, and then plopped down on Grand Avenue at the Chino
Spectrum South shopping center, my ever hopeful heart,
squelched the “Chain alert!, Chain alert!, Chain alert!” message
that was accompanied by the sound of a submarine “ahooga”
claxon that my brain was broadcasting. After all this is The Dining
Wilderness That Is The Inland Empire, and those of us who are
denizens of the Empire and consequently very repressed
‘hounds, are always and ever hopeful of finding dining salvation. –
Yeah, right, dream on sucker.

We arrived at the podium of this establishment at 8:45 (on a
weeknight), the house was packed, we gave our name and were
given an estimate of a 20-30 minute wait for our table. We also
noted “Chain Gang” hint #1, absolutely none of the staff spoke
with an Italian accent, as a matter of fact, the entire staff had the
appearance of being recent veterans of the Chino High School
Future Farmers of America program.

“Chain Gang” hint #2 (as so eloquently elucidated in recent
postings on these boards courtesy of Mr. Grub), we were handed
a pager.

So while we waited the approximately 20 minutes in the dimly
lighted vestibule, I removed my “distance” glasses from my face
and squinted with my aging Boomer eyes at a condensed (in
size) version (for taking home to use when you want to call in a
take out order) of “Johnny’s” (is there really a “Johnny Carino”, or
is “Johnny Carino” really a manifestation for public consumption
of a corporate entity’s “theme dining experience”?) I was starting
to sense the appearance of “Chain Gang” hint #3 (un-inspired
menu), so I stopped trying to read in the film noir-ish light and told
myself things would look better in the dining room.

They didn’t.

Johnny Carino’s failed my Italian restaurant test, they did not have
any permutation, what-so-ever, of antipasto on the menu. This
was discerned after we were ushered in to an alcove off of the
bar, nicely decorated with a fireplace in the corner, that thank
Heavens was not lit, with what appeared to be concrete “fire logs”
(ah, the authentic Italian country experience). Apparently also, the
decorating budget must have been exhausted on the ceilings and
walls, because the floor was just bare, painted concrete. Either
that or it is an efficiency measure, you know, after the last
customer has left, just hose down the floor, no carpet to keep
clean, no tiles to keep clean, no wax to buff.

I really could not find very much on the menu that piqued my
interest, and I ended up ordering Chicken Marsala and for about
$1.99 more a Caesar Salad. The Mrs. ordered some sort of salad
with broiled (I believe) chicken.

I guess one of “Johnny’s” signature gestures is the waitress
poured some olive oil from a bottle on the table in to a saucer and
left us with a small loaf of warm “Italian” bread in a paper sack.
The bread was OK, far from being the tastiest Italian bread I have
had, but we were hungry, so it was OK. Forget about the olive oil,
that is not our shtick, we asked for and received a nice, cold
sphere of butter, which helped make the bread OK.

My Chicken Marsala was fairly tasty. It was three medallions of
chicken breast that had been lightly breaded and sautéed,
together with some very small, very thin, slices of fresh
mushrooms, and a nice brown sauce, that had very little taste of
Marsala. This was accompanied by some plain spaghettini. The
pasta was helped by the sauce, there just was not enough sauce
for both the pasta and the chicken.

The Mrs’. salad was nice, had some nice assorted greens, some
fresh tomato, and some chunks of chicken julienne with some
sort of house dressing that escapes me.

We almost did not order dessert. The waitress brought around
the standard dessert tray, with the standard plastic molded
replicas of dessert food. Only they must have bought their plastic
replicas at the swap meet, because they really looked like plastic,
sloppy plastic. We did however decide to “test the water” and split
a chocolate cake item. When it arrived it was two pie shaped
slices of a warm chocolate cake, with maybe a hint of chocolate
chips on the “top” of each slice, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
The ice cream definitely was not a premium brand, but the warm
chocolaty cake and the ice cream did hit the spot.

Two dinners, one add on salad, one dessert and two beverages
(iced tea and hot tea) came to $38.37 including tax and a 15% tip.

The dining experience at this establishment is very similar to the
experience at The Olive Garden. We may return, but not because
we want Italian food per se, because we will just be hungry and
un-inspired by all of the other local establishments and too lazy to
drive out of town.

The new In-N-Out in the same shopping center should be open
in about two weeks, I think I can hold out that long.

Johnny Carino's Chino
(909) 902-1800
3801 Grand Ave
Chino, CA 91710
dr. bob's Ice Cream: Don't Count The Inland
Empire Out Yet!

September 23, 2002 at 21:39:14

Since we were in Upland anyway, I easily convinced the Mrs. that
after our pizza repast at San Biagio's we needed to pay a visit to
dr. bob's for some dessert.

This is super-premium, hand crafted, in small batches, ice
cream. The Mrs. had a sugar cone with one scoop of Brown
Sugar Pecan ice cream. I had a waffle cone with a base scoop of
Dark Chocolate and a top scoop of Tahitian Vanilla.

All three flavors were outstanding. Very creamy tasting, and the
ice cream came out perfectly tempered directly from the dipping
cooler. They use Scharffenberger chocolate at dr. bob's, and this
is really good stuff. Usually when I have chocolate ice cream,
such as 31 Flavors or Hagen Dasz, I always need a drink of water
afterwards, because the chocolate leaves a taste in my mouth
that while a chocolatty taste, just does not feel right, leaving an
almost chalky feeling. The ice cream at dr. bob's is completely
different. It left a wonderful aftertaste in my mouth, it was not
overbearing and I did not have any desire or need for water. The
overall taste in my mouth for five minutes after finishing my ice
cream was as if I had just that very second ate a very good, moist,
chewy double chocolate brownie.

Their ice cream is not cheap, they don't charge by the scoop, but
rather by weight, but it is well worth it.

A single sugar cone, and a double waffle cone came to $6.96.

One of the owners' kids (about 10 or 11 years old) was in the
shop, and she demonstrated that these owners are no dummies.
The kid fixed herself a two scoop cone, and then asked the young
man working behind the counter how to ring it up, as she said
that "Mom said I have to pay when I get ice cream." No one is
going to eat up the profits in this ice cream shop.

dr. bob's Hand Crafted Ice Creams
155 East C Street
Upland, CA 91785
(888) 264-2226
Anchos Southwest Grill & Bar
(909) 352-0240
(Across the parking lot from the county
welfare department)
10773 Hole Ave
Riverside, CA 92505

Farmer Boys
13675 Central Ave.
Chino, CA 91710  
Phone    (909) 548-4400
Farmer Boys Web Site

Johnny Carino's Chino
(909) 902-1800
3801 Grand Ave
Chino, CA 91710
Johnny Carino's Web Site

dr. bob's Hand Crafted Ice Creams
155 East C Street
Upland, CA 91785
(888) 264-2226
dr. bob's Web Site

Le Roys Highland Restaurant
523 W Huntington Dr
(Across the street from the Target shopping
center.)
Monrovia, CA 91016-3236
Phone: (626)357-5076

Claim Jumper
18061 Gale Ave
Rowland Heights CA 91748
(626) 964-1157
Claim Jumper Web Site
Le Roys For Breakfast

March 13, 2003 at 00:14:30

We have been driving by the place for years, but the Mrs. never
wanted to try it, probably because it was not all corporate chain,
“you know what to expect” looking; nor is it bright, new, shiny,
“modern” looking. Kind of a funky, fifties country cottage look, in a
building that has definitely seen better days. Well the Mrs. was
ferrying me from Chino over to Pasadena in Melanie this
morning, on my way to check Herman out of his extended stay at
the body shop, when at about Monrovia, breakfast seemed a
better activity than the 210 traffic jam. So we are cruising along on
Huntington Drive and as we approach the corner of Huntington
and Mayflower the Mrs. says “Do you want to try Le Roy’s?”
Quicker than the nanosecond that it took the old noggin to
register that more and more ‘houndliness is rubbing off on the
Mrs., I replied, “Sure”.

A half block later we pull in to Le Roys parking lot and the Mrs.
worries Melanie in to a diagonal parking space and we repair to
the front entrance of this local gem. We noted that there was al
fresco dining available behind the place at some picnic tables
under patio umbrellas for some of the more hearty patrons.

As soon as we entered the front door we were greeted and
informed that we could sit anywhere by a friendly waitress. Le
Roys is open only for breakfast and lunch, and we hit it at the right
time, a little after 8:00 A.M. on a weekday. Had we tried this at 8:00
A.M., or any other time on a Saturday or Sunday morning we
would have been waiting for a table sitting on benches, or simply
standing in front of the establishment along with all of the
Monrovia locals. Seating capacity is 40 people at the counter in
the center of the restaurant and in the booths on both sides of the
counter. On weekends the locals don’t mind the wait out front.
After we received our orders, I understood why.

The Mrs. ordered scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns,
sourdough toast and coffee. I ordered scrambled eggs, ham,
hash browns, sourdough toast and coffee. We could have
ordered cottage fries or home fries, sausage, pancakes, French
(or should I say “freedom”) toast, waffles, or today’s special,
steak and eggs. There was more on the menu, I just don’t
remember it all. The lunch menu seemed to have all of the usual
hot and cold sandwiches and other typical, simple “diner” food.

Sitting in this establishment, waiting for our order, the word
“diner” stuck in my mind. While not built from an old railroad car,
and not in any way evocative of the streamline modern school, or
all dolled up like a fifties stage setting, this place really is close to
the epitome of a “diner” experience one will find in Southern
California.

The building itself seems to be an amalgamation of two or three
buildings, showing its age, but kept up, with many coats of paint.
It appeared that the grill station was behind a window at “ground
level”, then there was a window from the grill in to the main
kitchen, which was on a level a couple of feet higher. We sat in a
booth that could actually accommodate my not inconsiderable
bulk, with a planter box of very obviously plastic flowers as the
divider between our booth and the dining area adjacent. His and
her restroom keys hung on a hook, the restrooms were out the
back door. While almost all of the waitresses are as old as or
older than this early baby boomer, none of them have ever been
near a Botox needle, and likely never will be. These people were
warm hearted, friendly, efficient servers and they exuded
character. The staff seems to know all of the regulars by name,
and if you are a customer who’s age is in the single digits, the
cashier will have a Tootsie Pop for you when you leave.

I don’t think it was more than five minutes after we gave our
waitress the order when our breakfast was served. The
scrambled eggs were first rate. These eggs were fresh, fluffy and
not dried out or overcooked, something we don’t normally see in
the usual chains. My two eggs seemed like three eggs. The
potatoes were very good, except part of my potatoes lost some of
their crispiness, because of the massive hunk of ham on my
plate. This piece of ham overwhelmed the plate. When the plate
arrived at the table the ham covered a section of bare plate, two
thirds of the hash browns, and was hanging over the side. I had
to quickly slice the ham in half so that I could move some of it off
the potatoes, and stack the remainder of the ham on top of itself.
The ham was good, not overdone or dried out. I got a sample of
the bacon, it was thick sliced and cooked to somewhere between
chewy and crispy.

The coffee was very mellow and did not taste as if it had been
simmering all day. The Mrs. who is a coffee-holic pronounced the
coffee very good. I have had better sourdough toast, and it could
have been toasted a tad more, but I am not going to quibble over
that and we will be back to Le Roys many more times in the future.

Good, simple cooking and great value at $15.65 for the two of us,
although we did not get any Tootsie Pops when we left.

Le Roys Highland Restaurant
523 W Huntington Dr
(Across the street from the Target shopping center.)
Monrovia, CA 91016-3236
Phone: (626)357-5076
Shrimp Taquitos!

March 14, 2003 at 15:17:33

Large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail left on, dusted with a mild
chile powder, layed out "unfurled" on a portion of corn tortilla,
rolled taquito style and fried. Served six to a platter with pico de
gallo and a mild, yellow, creamy dipping sauce on the side. Grab
one by its "handle" (the tail sticking out of the end of the rolled
taquito), slosh it through the dipping sauce bowl, slide in to
mouth, bite down just where the tail meets the tortilla, discard tail,
chew and savor the sublime contrast of the crispy tortilla and the
softer, yet firm, sweet tasting flesh of the shrimp. The best damn
fried shrimp you will ever eat. Perfect crunch offset by the firm,
tenderness of flash fried, tasting of the sea, shrimp. Accompany
with pints of Hefeweizen.

Where to find it:

That temple of Big Food - Claim Jumper.

Claim Jumper
18061 Gale Ave
Rowland Heights CA 91748
(626) 964-1157
The Mirage, Las Vegas: Some Casual Eats

June 02, 2005 at 15:43:11

The Mrs. and I made one of our semi-annual pilgrimages to see
how well the Mirage has been doing with their chunk of the family
fortune (and as usual, we left the Mirage with another portion of
our fortune on this trip).  Having subsisted on the liquid diet for the
past four months I was looking forward to a little dining R & R,
without totally blowing the diet.  My dining pleasure, if not my diet
conscience, was helped along when about 45 minutes after
departure from the old homestead the Mrs. and I realized that we
had forgot to pack any of the liquid diet powder mix.

Following is a log of our dining while bivouacked at the Mirage:

Sunday

Since we had indulged in a late lunch at the Barstow In-N-Out at
about 5:00 P.M. the Mrs. was content to exercise her slot prowess
in the casino while I lounged in the room.  All that lounging
worked up an appetite, fortunately there was a fully stocked mini-
bar in the room.  I dined on the Mirage’s own house label
premium cashews and a couple of vodka and tonics.  These were
pretty good cashews, from some purveyor in Novato, California.  
The nuts were large and were whole, there were no pieces (as is
the usual order of things in a can of Planters), very lightly salted.  I
highly recommend the Mirage cashews.  When the Mrs. rejoined
me after exhausting the stake I had provided her for the evening’s
entertainment she enjoyed a Snickers out of the mini-bar for her
late night snack.

One 5 ounce can of cashews, two miniature bottles of Absolut,
one 10 ounce bottle of tonic and one Snickers bar set us back
about $32.00 (a win/win for the hotel/casino, who took it from us
downstairs and upstairs that evening.)

Monday

Since we slept in to about 2:00 P.M. we bypassed breakfast and
lunch and repaired to the recently opened branch of Carnegie Deli
on the casino floor, adjacent to the California Pizza Kitchen
operation and just a spit-ball’s length from the Mirage race &
sports book at about 5:00 P.M.  I was on a self-appointed mission
to perform some field reconnaissance on a  “Woody Allen”
sandwich in the deli, for scientific, national security and
humanitarian purposes.  The last time I had enjoyed a Woody
Allen was about 12 years earlier, at the real Carnegie Deli on
Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.  As in my previous mission I
ordered a matzo ball soup and a “Woody Allen” (a towering
monument of corned beef and pastrami on rye) with a couple of
Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray tonics to wash it all down.  The Mrs. ordered
breakfast, consisting of scrambled eggs, bacon and a banana nut
muffin; the egg dish came with home fries or French fries, but the
Mrs. opted to forego the potatoes and accompanied her meal with
coffee.

The broth for the soup was clear with a beautiful golden color and
good taste, although, as is too often the case when dining out, not
quite hot enough for me, with two medium sized, flavorful (which
is saying a lot for matzo meal) matzo balls.  When the beverages
arrived at the table we also receive three medium half sour
pickles, which were pickle-y.  The Mrs. two scrambled eggs
resembled about four eggs (portions were very generous) and
she must have had a double rasher of bacon on her plate with the
eggs.  She enjoyed the eggs and ate most of the bacon, I did not
try either, the bacon had the appearance of having been cooked
hours before, and one of my cardinal rules of dining, is I don’t
order pork products in a Jewish deli.

The Woody Allen was all that I remembered it to be.  This
sandwich was truly towering, in between some insignificant
slices of rye bread were two halves of a sandwich consisting of
about four vertical inches or corned beef topped by about four
vertical inches of pastrami, all held together with Paul
Bunyanesqe tooth picks.  (Check out the photo below, compare
the sandwich to the large beverage glass and the bottle of Dr.
Brown’s to get a sense of the scale of this sandwich.) The rye
bread was better than I expected, my past experience of Las
Vegas rye bread being bland and uninspiring, so while not of the
same caliber of the corn-rye that can be obtained in the L.A. area,
the bread was decent and a good foil for the meat.  The meat was
all machine sliced, seemingly about a micron thick.  While I
imagine this makes it a lot less labor intensive for the deli, I have
a theory that it also is a way for compensating when the meat
being sliced is not the most tender possible, my rationale being
that that when it is sliced that thin, anything is going to be easy to
bite through.  Regardless, I love pastrami and corned beef and
this was pretty good stuff, especially for a guy who lives in a deli
wilderness and has been on the liquid diet.

















The pastrami was very “mild” in the spice department.  My usual
experience with deli pastrami is that after indulging myself during
the meal, there is a lingering “spicy” aftertaste in my mouth.  The
best protection against the spicy mouth condition, however, is
liberal amounts of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray tonic consumed in
between bites of pastrami.  So of course, the first thing I ordered
when we sat down was two Dr. Brown’s.  The only quibble I had
with both the pastrami and the corned beef was that it was much
too lean for my taste, with absolutely no discernable fat, leaving
an impression of “dryness” in my mouth as the meat touched my
palate.  I figure this is a concession to the health conscious
masses, who just don’t have discriminating taste buds in terms
of deli delights, I would have preferred my meats with a modest
strata of fat, and the “juicy-ness” that would  have accompanied it.  
The table mustard at Carnegie Deli was a thick brown mustard,
with a slightly sweet undertone and with a nice, mild bite of horse
radish. Very complimentary of the meat.

I have to admit, this sandwich did get the better of me.  In my last
encounter with this meal at the Carnegie Deli I had no problem
polishing off the soup and entire sandwich.  Maybe it is my
advancing age, maybe it is the fact that my “eating muscles” are
out of shape and my stomach has shrunken from the liquid diet,
but I was only able to finish the first half of the sandwich, and after
a little rest, about a quarter of the second half of the sandwich.  
Needless to say, the left over half sandwich made a very nice
snack back in the room later that evening.

So while I would not say that this was a stellar corned
beef/pastrami sandwich compared to other experiences, it was a
hell of a good sandwich probably rivaled by no other hotel/casino
in Las Vegas, and a welcome addition to the casual dining
options at the Mirage.

The bacon and eggs, banana nut muffin, one matzo ball soup and
Wood Allen, one coffee and two Dr. Brown’s set us back about
$45.00.  I did enjoy a couple of complimentary vodka and tonics in
the sports  book later that evening, but did not particularly enjoy
the torture of seeing the San Antonio Spurs and my first ever
sports bet go down the drain.

Tuesday

With our routine well established we dined on breakfast in our
room Tuesday afternoon.  The Mrs. enjoyed scrambled eggs, a
large, thick slice of ham that took up about half of the real estate
on her plate, “breakfast” potatoes, white toast, coffee and OJ.  I
opted for an omelet stuffed with smoked salmon and onions,
breakfast potatoes, rye toast and coffee.  The omelet, advertised
at three eggs seemed more like four or five eggs with plenty of
slivers of lox and onions folded in to it.  Very enjoyable and at least
in my mind, more healthy than a bagel and lox with cream
cheese, so I compensated and ate all of the potatoes.  These
were halved and quartered small potatoes that had been oven
roasted, not greasy, with a nice golden brown “skin” that yielded to
soft potato, a nice change from the usual hash browns.  The
carafe of room service coffee was good, as was the ham.

Total tab for room service breakfast was about $37.00, plus a
$2.00 service charge.

After her late afternoon workout on the slots, the Mrs. joined me
for some in-room dining about 9:00 P.M.  We dined on Caesar
salads, rolls and butter and the Mrs. enjoyed a large boiled
lobster tail accompanied by steamed broccoli and a backed
potato.  Sticking to the precepts of the liquid diet, and avoiding
“The Look” from the wife, I ordered broiled salmon, fresh
asparagus and a baked potato.  The Mrs. pronounced her lobster
tail with drawn butter as excellent (much better than a previous
lobster tail and some sort of shallot/wine/butter concoction served
to us on a previous visit to Kokomo’s in the Mirage).  Just the
basics, steamed lobster and melted butter, do that right and all is
forgiven.  The Mrs. did not touch her broccoli as she did not want
to subject her slot-neighbors to the gaseous  after-affects that
were sure to follow.  (This was our one communications
breakdown of the evening, as when I placed the room service
order I asked the Mrs. if she wanted broccoli or asparagus, I
should have TOLD her that she was going to have asparagus -  
because of course she would not have eaten them, and there
would have been more for me).

My fish was a bit dry and over cooked, the lemon juice I squeezed
on it helped a bit.  Both of our baked potatoes were smaller than I
would have preferred, and seemed, by the relative “elasticity” of
their jackets, to have been baked in foil.  They also were not
sufficiently baked, the interior flesh not very yielding to a fork.  The
potatoes were truly shameful.  A good baked potato will be a
decent size (at least occupying as much space as a softball), with
an almost crisp, dry skin, with hot potato-y fluffiness inside.  Even
a liberal slathering of butter, chives, bacon bits and sour cream
did not redeem these non-descript potatoes.  The baby
asparagus spears were the highlight of the meal.  Crisp but
tender to the tooth, these were very nice asparagus.

Wine hicks that we are, we accompanied our meal with a chilled
bottle of Beringer White Zinfandel.  The Mrs. drank about a glass
of wine (she needed to keep her slot machine wits about her for
round two that evening) and I polished off the rest.

Total tab for this intimate dining experience was about $150.00,
the salmon ran about $26.00, the lobster $85.00, the salads
about $10.00 each and the wine was $30.00.

I had wanted to try out the new Cravings buffet in the Mirage, but
he Mrs. nixed that idea.  Since I would have been in a wheel chair,
or at best with my trusty walker, she did not relish being my
“runner”.  Too bad, I have always thought the quality and value of
the Mirage buffet is outstanding, and I had wanted to try it out
since the overhaul.

Those were the only meals that we consumed while in Las
Vegas, Wednesday morning brought not enough time for
snoozing and a Noon check-out time, so “breakfast” was had on
the road home.

Mirage Resort
3400 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, 89109
(702) 791-7111
Mirage Resort
3400 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, 89109
(702) 791-7111
Mirage Web Site
Clancy's Crab Broiler

June 10, 2005 at 04:20:35

I screwed up and showed up at the doctor’s office at 11:30
yesterday, but my appointment was for today. So since I had
trekked all the way to Pasadena I did not want it to be a wasted trip
(in other words this was a great justification for taking a little
unplanned “sabbatical” from the Liquid Diet) the Mrs.’ office was
just “around the corner” in Glendale, so I invited her to lunch.

The wife chose the restaurant, and I am sure glad she did. This
was my first experience at Clancy’s Crab Broiler, which has been
a Glendale fixture for about 20 years. These people really know
how to cook fish right. The service also was terrific, friendly and
professional.

We had broiled red snapper and broiled salmon. The snapper
came with a small green salad, that with Louis dressing included
some bay shrimp, mostly green lettuce, cucumber slices and a
single cherry tomato, but it was just right (especially since it came
with the wife’s entrée and she did not want it). The clam chowder
was New England style. This was not classic New England
chowder; it was much thicker, probably because instead of cubed
potatoes, they must have pureed the potatoes and used them as
a thickener. But the soup was not in any way “paste-y”; it was quite
savory and delicious.

The snapper was broiled perfectly and seemed to have some sort
of “glaze like” sauce on it (it might have been butter based, I
couldn’t quite discern in with the one small bite I snagged). This
was the best snapper I have had in a long time. Zucchini and
large carrots, sliced on a bias, accompanied it. Not crisp, but
tender, but not overdone or mushy in any way. The carrots were
fabulous; they had a wonderful, natural sweetness to them.

The salmon came on skewers with small pieces of red pepper
that had been broiled with it. These people know how to cook
salmon, it was a perfect consistency, not overcooked, not dried
out, not rare to the point of looking uncooked, but cooked perfectly
through, and then immediately removed from the fire. The salmon
morsels were tender, moist and really flavorful. About a million
miles from the broiled salmon I recently had at the Mirage in
Vegas, and at half the price. Accompanied by steamed broccoli,
which I passed on because it is dull, dull, dull, and a cold wild rice
salad. The rice was quite tasty, I saw and tasted individual corn
kernels and tasted something else that seemed sweet and had
the consistency of maybe a raisin (but did not taste raisin-y) or a
dried cranberry. A nice change from the standard industrial “rice
pilaf” typically available.

The Mrs. had tiramisu for dessert. Being on the Liquid Diet I only
snagged a teaspoon of her dessert. This was a good rendition.
Real ladyfingers, very moist, but not to the point where the “cake”
did not hold its structural integrity. Not too sweet, subtle coffee
flavor, creamy and very satisfying.

I don’t know why I never made it to this place before, like I said,
these people know and appreciate how to prepare and serve fish.

The total tab for all of the above, plus one coffee, one iced tea, an
order of fries and a soda for my nephew/driver/wheel chair
attendant (and yes I would have bought him anything he wanted,
he wasn’t hungry) ran about $55.00. Well worth it considering the
quality of fish and its preparation.

Clancy’s Crab Broiler
219 N. Central Avenue
Glendale 91204
818.242.2722
Clancy’s Crab Broiler
219 N. Central Avenue
Glendale 91204
818.242.2722
Clancy's Web Site
Pann's: Back To A Comfortable Time

January 30, 2006 at 15:48:32

A few ‘hounds/SCARF’ers gathered at Pann’s yesterday evening
for a bit of conviviality, having been suffering from cabin fever, lo
these many moons on The Liquid Diet, I needed a break, and I
wanted to be among some kindred souls, so I convinced the Mrs.
to accompany me and Herman on a little chow expedition to The
Big City.

Pann’s is my kind of place, it is what I would term a typical L.A.
coffee shop/diner, and one of the last vestiges of the Googie
school of architecture in L.A. I like the ambiance, I like the friendly,
professional staff, and I like the food. This is good old comfort
food from the U.S. of A. Nothing fancified here, no pretension, no
mysteries. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with all
of the wonderful bounty that is abundant in the greater L.A. area
from across the border and across the sea, it is just saying that
sometimes it is very soothing to have something that reminds
you of the comfort of home and of an earlier time in your life.

First off, the table ordered about three plates of onion rings as a
starter (I also learned when it was too late, that there were also
fried oysters), and since Pann’s recently was discussed as one
of the local havens for rings by that esteemed eater, “Like-Go-
Eat?”, I was on a mission to validate his reporting. I am pleased
to report that even though I was only able to snag about 2-1/2
rings, they were excellent. Thick cuts of onion, but not coated with,
in my view, horrid beer batter, but a nice light, crispy batter. These
I will definitely go back for.

The Mrs. opted for the Sunday special, turkey dinner, which
comes with soup or salad, and had a good amount of real (this is
significant) turkey breast, mashed potatoes, some stuffing, gravy,
of course, and green beans and corn. She could not finish it all
and offered it to me and this chowish character who was sitting
next to me, but he was a gentleman and politely turned it down. I
did manage to suppress the urge to scarf turkey (keeping in mind
that I am on a restricted diet), but, in the interest of science and
‘houndom, I did take a bite to get a taste. My initial reaction was
that the turkey was bland. Upon reflection (and seriously getting
hungry) later, I observed to the Mrs. that the reason the turkey
tasted bland to me was (and this is the significant part) because
it was REAL turkey breast, and probably not from some frozen
matter, and it was NOT LOADED WITH SALT, just pure,
unadulterated turkey.

The gentleman on the side of me opposite the Mrs. had a very
nice looking plate overwhelmed by a lamb shank and an ocean of
gravy. Three other diners at the table had lamb shanks last night,
and my understanding is that they thought it was top notch, but I
will leave it to them to report their findings.

I really wanted to order short ribs, meat loaf, salmon patties,
onion rings and a burger, but, alas, I hewed to the diet plan and
just ordered the salmon patties (fish being my primary protein
source these days). I started with a salad with blue cheese
dressing. The salad was nothing remarkable, the croutons
(unlike everything else I experienced) tasted like they came out of
a can, and I could not perceive any blue cheese taste, let alone
any cheese crumbles, in the dressing. But this is just a mere
quibble, given the overall experience. The salmon patties were
not humongous, like some places are wont to do with their
portions, they were respectable, and appropriate in size for
someone who is actually keeping their portion sizes to what
health professionals recommend. They were lightly breaded and
fried, but there was absolutely no hint of grease on these
nuggets. A nice, clean, salmon taste, reminiscent of Mom’s
salmon patties, and thus very comforting. There was some sort of
totally tasteless white sauce with them, I just took a taste, and
that was enough to rule it out. The salmon melded perfectly with
the squeezes of lemon juice I put on it. I tasted about a teaspoon
of rice, and it was very good. I guess yesterday’s veg side of the
day was the green beans and corn kernels, which was fine, it
was good, and it did not taste of either a can or a freezer. As a
bonus the salmon patties came resting on a small bed of
spinach, I love spinach, so this was perfect. Yeast rolls and corn
bread muffins were passed. The muffins did not look so great,
but the yeast rolls were wonderful, puffy, a nice egg wash glaze
on top with a few sesame seeds, and warm and soft, like they
just came out of the oven.

I have included some shots of the food with this posting. I would
have taken shots of the other dishes, as I was strategically
located at the end of the room where the service staff was
entering with the food, so it would have been very easy to
intercept plates and photograph them before they reached their
final destination. I declined though, because then I would not
have been able to resist the urge to take a little sample off of each
plate that passed by me, so I hope the folks down at the other
end of the table appreciated my sacrifice.

I have no idea what the total check was for this repast, but the
prices were very reasonable. I leave it up to the lamb shank
diners to comment, but I would think what they paid for their
shanks is a far cry for what the same dish would cost in some
local hoity-toity joint.

The Mrs. and I will definitely be returning to Pann’s when we are
in that area, I would really like to take their breakfasts and burgers
for a test drive.

6710 La Tijera Blvd.
At the confluence of La Tijera & La Cienega, half a block north of
Centinella.
LA, CA 90045
(310) 670-1441 (323) 776-3770
http://www.panns.com/
Pann's
6710 La Tijera Blvd.
LA, CA 90045
(310) 670-1441 (323) 776-3770
Pann's Web Site
Owen’s Bistro: The Hidden Gem Of Chino (Photos)

July 9, 2006 4:13 P.M.

It was a typical Saturday, one of those Saturdays where good
intentions seem to lose their significance in the greater scheme
of things, that greater scheme being a result of the deliberate,
temporary retirement of the alarm clock, a cool, quiet morning
and a very comfortable bed. The Mrs. and I finally got out of the
house at 5:30 P.M. and began our errands, two of which related to
keeping the feline beings who allow us to inhabit their home well
stocked with kitty litter, new toys and food, the third errand was so
that we could replenish our cash on hand, after dealing with the
financial aspects of the aforementioned superior feline beings.

It was close to 7:00 P.M. when we had completed our tasks and I
had been thinking of taking a little ride over to Victoria Gardens in
Rancho Cucamonga, envisioning some sushi and other seafood
at King’s Fish House. It was then that I remembered Owen’s
Bistro. I had become aware of this establishment about a year
ago, but even though it is right in our own “back yard”, I kept
forgetting about it, and we had never been there, just always
getting out of town when we wanted a dining experience on any
order of magnitude better than the all too prevalent mediocrity of a
chain outpost. The interesting thing about this is that at the exact
same time I started to suggest to the Mrs. that I thought we could
do something other than King’s, envisioning us rolling up on
Owen’s, she suggested the same thing. Proof that after years of
being together we have come to tune in to each other when it
comes to the really important things in life.

It had not been too warm the past few days, and when we walked
in to Owen’s Bistro it was the beginning of a balmy evening, and
the sound of musician/singer/song writer/actor/comedian/all-
around-show-business-impresario Henry Iglesias singing and
strumming a guitar in a corner of the patio set the mood for the
rest of the evening.

The restaurant occupies part of an old brick building, reportedly
about 100 years old, in the heart of the original Chino downtown,
just across the street from the civic center. The city has done a lot
in the last few years to re-develop and re-invigorate this
neighborhood and it is heartening to see this old building brought
back to life. I do not know the real origins of the building, but the
patio area of the restaurant seems to have been some sort of
carriage entrance, it was a high ceiling bricked in “room” with very
tall archways opening up the north and south sides, and smaller
openings on the east side. It seemed to have been possibly built
to accommodate horse drawn wagons, back at about the turn of
the twentieth century. We arrived without a reservation, but
apparently our timing was just right, as we scored a table on the
patio (which was completely full by the time we left about two
hours later), as I said, a balmy evening, much of the ambient light
streaming in through the archways, slowly fading, some mellow
music and a bit of patter from Mr. Iglesias, just across the “room”.

The first order of business was a bottle of chilled, domestic
Riesling and then we took our time, perusing the menu, drinking
in the wine and drinking in the ambience of the place and
moment. The Mrs. opted to start with a spinach salad, with goat
cheese, pine nuts, and I believe strawberry vinaigrette. I chose
mixed field greens with raw tuna with a wasabi dressing served
up in a “cup” formed by a fried won ton. Mrs. CW thoroughly
enjoyed her salad, and after sharing a bit of the goat cheese with
me, left nary a morsel of food on her plate. I really enjoyed the
goat cheese; it was kind of savory and almost tasted like a blue
cheese. My salad was also good, fresh greens, with a fresh,
tender, tuna “flower” perched among the greens. The dressing
was very subtle, and if you did not know it, you would not guess
that wasabi was a component. The won ton, while a decorative
and functional component of the whole, was also a nice
alternative to croutons, adding a contrasting crispy crunch to the
soft greens and tuna.

For our entrees the Mrs. predictably chose the beef filet and I, who
have been religiously, adhering to a seafood based protein diet
fell under the spell of the rack of lamb. The filet was a nice thick
cut of beef, and, according to the Mrs. preference (please don’t
think bad of her, this is just something that I have come to accept)
devoid of any moisture or color, other than gray. The important
take away from this is that it was cooked to her liking and she
enjoyed it. The hunk of beef came perched atop a pile of mashed
potatoes and had sort of an onion marmalade on top of it, and
some very nice asparagus spears, all surrounded by a pool of a
balsamic reduction sauce.

My rack of lamb came on an impressive rectangular plate, ten
little ribs standing in the center of the plate, charred on the
outside, and perfectly medium rare, tender and juicy on the
inside. Some French green beans and a disc of an herbed risotto
accompanied the lamb. Underlying the meat was a truffle oil
infused pan sauce, stretched out like a brook across the plate. I
accompanied my lamb with a glass of Australian Shiraz that was
recommended by The House.

Dessert for the Mrs. was a cup of coffee and a crème Brule, I, in
keeping away from too much sugar, asked for the cheese and
fruit plate that was listed as one of the first courses for my third
course. The coffee was a bit weak, but the accompanying
chocolate morsels dropped in to the cup did help. The crème
Brule was soothing, comforting custard, a taste bringing back
childhood memories of custard out of my mother’s oven. The
cheese plate was a modest portion of three cheeses, some
sliced apple and some dried fruit, it was a good end to the meal
though, the slight crunch and sweetness of the apple with a bit of
cheese perfect compliments for each other.

Overall this was a fine, quality meal. The meats were good, the
portions perfect, not overabundant, but certainly satisfying. The
kitchen is overseen by chef James Kelly, and unlike so many
other places that tend to overemphasize their entrees, he seems
to put a great deal of value on the vegetables. The green beans
and asparagus were cooked perfectly, tender yet still crunchy,
fresh tasting, and with a robust green color. Everything on our
plates complimented each other, and the plates as presented
were appealing and a feast for the eyes. Chef Kelly’s wife,
Denise, who was welcoming and made sure all her patrons were
comfortable, manages the front of the house. Our waiter was the
first Augustus that I have ever encountered, outside of the Roman
Empire, personable, helpful, knowledgeable about the food and
wine (with a little help from Denise Kelly) unobtrusive and very
accommodating, teamed up with an equally professional and
appreciated bus person. The wine list is not extensive, but I
believe a lot of experience and thought has been given to it (but of
course, I am just a wine hick, who has recently fell out of love with
Sutter Home Moscato and begun an affair with German
Rieslings).

My one quibble, and it is only a quibble, and may in fact be the
result of my somewhat crude palate, is that all of the sauces and
dressings were extremely subtle, I would have preferred more
intense flavor from them, but when the main ingredients are all
good, you can appreciate what food really tastes like in its
unadorned best.

All things considered this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening,
everything working together, the food, the ambience, the
entertainment, the personalities and sensibilities of all of the
principals, and of course the company of my dining companion.
The total tab for all of this was $135.23 (inclusive of tax, exclusive
of tip).

Owen’s Bistro is the first, real, professional, grown-up restaurant
we have found in Chino, and is a standout of the Inland Empire.
This is a hidden gem that has to be shared, although it is one of
those places you would like to secretly keep to yourself, but for
the good of the restaurant and continued opportunities for the
wife and I to enjoy a very relaxed and rich evening of sensory
experiences together I am compelled to share it here. The
evening was pure serendipity.

Oh, and the bistro’s namesake, Owen, I suspect was at home
last night, I don’t think he is quite old enough to begin his
apprenticeship in the family business, but maybe one day he will
be able to take over what hopefully will become a local dining
institution.

Owen’s Bistro
5120 D Street
Chino
909.628.0452

To get an sampling of Henry Iglesias' music, visit his web site>
http://www.beinthenow.com

My understanding is that when not on the road, Henry is at
Owen's Bistro most Saturday evenings.
Owen’s Bistro
5120 D Street
Chino
909.628.0452