Meet me at Mel’s

Mel’s Diner is considered a huge staple here in Los Angeles so it was only right that I made a visit to indulge in some of the diner’s favorite go to entrees.  The décor gives you an Old Hollywood vibe while staying consistent with the ambiance of a true diner.  Busy waiters going through the aisles, a semi open kitchen to see the food being made fresh to order and the infamous jukebox in the corner awaiting a customer to drop in a quarter and select an old tune to take you back to a nostalgic time.

img_2347

I decided to try the French toast and my husband went with the old-fashioned buttermilk pancakes.  You cannot go wrong with either choice.  Both entrees were great and just what we had wanted in terms of getting that real breakfast fix.  So far, I’ve seen 2 Mel’s locations; one a block from Hollywood and another in the Sherman Oaks area but I believe there’s a total of 4. The next time you visit California, I would be sure to make a stop here.  It’s open 24 hours and has a welcoming menu of pretty much any craving you may have.  Take a look at some of the snapshots I was able to get from Mel’s.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Frankland’s Crab & Co

Coming from the east coast, moreso NYC, it’s always good to find a place with a tasty lobster roll.  I remember in the summer mostly always wanting to find the perfect roll.  Well here in California, I stumbled upon Frankland’s Crab & Co.  Particularly during DineLA week in which they offered a nice lunch combo that included a drink and an ice cream sandwich; double win 🙂

img_0947So here we have it.  A nice, toasted brioche roll with succulent lobster meat tossed in a melted butter.  This sandwich literally melted in my mouth.  I mean pure perfection.  I was worried about the sandwich not being dressed since I was used to a mayo base but they’ve nailed it over at Frankland’s.  The homemade ice cream sandwich was also a hit.  Way to top off a cute lunch.  As I continue to let you in on my LA food adventures, please mark this one down as a place to try.  I will be coming back for sure!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Powamekka Cafe

imageWhat happens when Tupac envisions his own restaurant and leaves the blueprint for the concept?  Sweet Chick, nestled in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan, brings this idea to life 20 years later and becomes Powamekka Cafe for you to enjoy over a 3-day stint.  It was time for yet another much needed catch up and I’m so happy she suggested going to this.

The cafe was filled with pictures of Tupac from childhood to adulthood, portraits of what I took to be some of his musical influences and even newly designed restroom signs for the “playaz” and “divaz”.  Handwritten notes from Tupac about the restaurant concept, infamous quotes from the artist himself and never seen before poetry also lined the walls of this pop-up cafe.  Classic songs from Tupac flowed throughout and definitely made you feel his presence.  Although I knew this was not going to happen, it felt like at any given moment Tupac was going to appear surprisingly and thank the patrons for stopping by and supporting his vision. That’s just how much the ambiance made you feel his presence even in his absence.

The menu was made up of the artists’ favorite meals so for my entree I went with the meatloaf.  This wasn’t just ordinary meatloaf; it actually was made with duck and short rib.  The dish also came with mashed potatoes and a creamy mushroom sauce.  Delicious is an understatement for this one.  I cannot recall what was in my mixed drink but I definitely picked it solely based on the name “Queen of Cali”.  Overall I was very happy with my experience at this Tupac inspired restaurant and Sweet Chick did a phenomenal job of executing the concept that was laid out for Powamekka Cafe.  Enjoy the pics below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Harold’s Meat + Three

imageThere’s a new kid on the block in Lower Manhattan and he isn’t playing fair.  Chef Harold Moore has opened a restaurant called Harold’s Meat + Three and when you dine here, you get just that.  All entrees come with your selection of a meat and then you pick three sides to compliment your selection. Pretty awesome concept!  I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Harold, before we ordered.  Such a humble guy and very appreciative to hear his restaurant was recommended through great reviews and word of mouth.  To ease our decision making for side dishes, he even let my friend and I add a additional side on the house.  I literally wanted to try mostly all of the side dishes so it helped to add one more to my entree.

While we waited for our dinner, the waiter brought cheddar baked biscuits with a soft butter.  Okay these cn be trouble guys!  Try to only eat one of you can.  As my entree, I had the veal meatballs, recommended by Harold himself.  For the sides, I went with the cucumber salad, Japanese sweet potatoes, grilled broccolini and mac and cheese.  Okay the flavors in the meatballs are undeniably delicious.  I cannot even describe just how great they were and how many happy dances I did at the table.  To balance the sides, I normally try to order at least one cold served dish.  I was glad I tried the cucumber salad which was simply cucumbers tossed in a citrus vinaigrette.  So refreshing!  I also had never tried or even heard of Japanese sweet potatoes.  They weren’t too sweet but had a nice flavor.  The broccolini had a nice grilled flavor and seasoned to perfection.  The mac and cheese literally had just the right amount of cheese and creamy texture that I look for in a good mac.

I love hearing about new places to try and I love even more when I try a place and have nothing but great things to say so I can recommend it myself.  Chef Moore has nailed it with his restaurant and I will definitely be back.  If you’re looking for a nice vibe and good eats, please give them a try.  More pics from my dinner below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Oceana Grill

image

I’m a huge fan of seafood; so it seems only right to indulge in as many seafood dishes as possible when in New Orleans.  Oceana definitely made this happen with their menu options.  Located in the heart of the historic New Orleans French Quarter, I can’t believe through my many visits to New Orleans I’d never ventured here.  I’m so glad I finally did make it.

To start, the barbecue shrimp were delicious.  It was about 5 to 6 gulf shrimp sauteed in a barbecue based sauce with lemon butter and pepper.  I could literally eat the french bread and use this sauce for dipping as a separate appetizer (hint hint 🙂 )  That’s just how amazing the sauce was.  Gumbo is a must when in New Orleans!   Although the gumbo was extremely tasty and had just the right blend of spices and flavors, I did wish it had more of the extras.  When I think of Nawlins’ gumbo, I think of literally everything imaginably being in this stuff from crab claws, crawfish, okra, beans, rice, etc.  Overall the gumbo still got the job done as far as taste and was a nice compliment to my meal.  I also shared an order of their famous char-grilled oysters.  These were smothered in their zesty garlic and cream  herb cajun sauce, topped with a blend of parmesan and romano cheeses.  The seafood already speaks for itself but each restaurant seems to have a “secret or special” sauce for their char-grilled oysters that I fall in love with. Oceana nailed it!

For the entree, I went with the Louisiana fried oyster platter served with fries, coleslaw and jalapeno hush puppies.  I added a fresh squeeze of lemon to my oysters and boy was I a happy camper.  The seafood is so fresh and just cooked to perfection.  Not forgetting to mention it was a pleasant 70+ degree day so dining in the outside courtyard area made the experience even better.  When near Bourbon, please stop by.  You will not regret it!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Neyow’s Creole Cafe

imageNew Orleans is home to so many great things.  From the historic French Quarter, to the eccentric beauty of the street art and the musical influence shown by the harmonic tunes played through a saxophone by a local.  Oh how I love thee.  Another important aspect of this culture is the Creole background which is also reflection of the great cuisine you can find here.  Neyow’s embodies a lot of things which I’ve grown to appreciate and love about the city of New Orleans and its food.

I think one of the most popular items are the char-grilled oysters.  I visited once back in November for a friend’s birthday and went back this month for another birthday celebration.  Neyow’s and their oysters were a must for both visits.  I think I fell more in love with them the second go round.  Whatever is used in the sauce and seasoning is very addictive! I ordered a dozen and barely wanted to share two with other people within our party.  For starters, I’ve also tried the gumbo, crab claws and crawfish balls. All were amazing!  The stuffing used for the crawfish balls had the perfect mix of flavor for the crawfish.  Another order to go please?

For the entree, I also double backed and ordered the pasta on the bayou. The fresh gulf shrimp and crawfish tossed in a creamy sauce with penne pasta is to die for.  I remembered uttering “I’m stuffed” but refused to take home leftovers!  I also sampled my friend’s shrimp creole which was equally as amazing.  The spiciness of Neyow’s special sauce and the sauteed shrimp served with a bed of rice was a pure delight.  As if the food wasn’t enough, they are also known for a drink called the ‘Bow Wow’.  Not sure what’s in it but its definitely served with a kick.  Neyow’s has yet to disappoint. If in the Mid-city area and you want the best char-grilled oysters in New Orleans, stop by and tell them I sent you.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My first winery visit

 

imageGeorgia is the home to some of the most beautiful cultural attractions, best restaurants and perfect go to spots for pretty much any occasion.  One place that I had never been to was the winery and resort, Chateau Elan.  I heard such great things before and even thought about having my wedding here.  Luckily, my mother-in-law booked a wine tasting and dinner reservation as a surprise gift after our wedding.  How sweet is she?

Chateau Elan is a little over an hour outside of Atlanta, specifically located in Braselton, Georgia.  Driving into the resort was an experience itself.  It looked a like a mini castle from afar in la la land like in the movies.  My hubby and I drove mesmerized all the way to the front of the ‘castle’ and just stared in awe.  We started with a nice tour of the winery.  Great way to learn more about wine and its origin.  After the tour, we participated in the wine tasting which included a sample of 8 wines.  Of course to go with the ambiance, I added a nice cheese plate.  It was nice to enjoy the scenery and walk the trails of the vineyard.  This was our first time at an actual vineyard so we were sure to enjoy every minute of it.

The day at the resort was topped off with dinner at one of the fine dining restaurants, the Versailles.  I was highly impressed with the decor, attentiveness of the staff and food presentation.  We started the meal with the pickled Georgia shrimp which looked like their take on a classic shrimp cocktail.  The shrimp laid on top of a homemade spicy tomato sauce with lemon and basil.  The flavor of that sauce added such a great taste.  For the entree, I decided to have the filet and truffled whipped potatoes.  My hubby got a little fancy and went with the pan roasted snapper topped with a lump crab salad.  I normally pick the better dish but I think he may of beat me this time.  Both were pretty amazing!  To top it off, we shared the lemon cake with a light butter cream and blueberry compote garnished with a piece of candied ginger.  The overall experience at Chateau Elan was nothing shy of amazing and most of all, memorable.  Checkout more pictures in the gallery of our day spent at our first winery visit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s a Caribbean ting

image

Caribbean cuisine is very popular in NYC.  So when my friend left the ball in my court to pick the place for our catch up dinner, I was delighted to try Pearl’s.  Pearl’s is nestled comfortably in Williamsburg and is a very nice and quaint restaurant in this Brooklyn area.  Upon entry, you automatically get that island vibe from its decor and Bob Marley tunes that flows throughout the place.  I already knew what I planned to order before coming here.  There’s a specialty dish called the Bake and Shark.  I’d never heard of this but after through research came to discover its a popular Trini street or fast food dish that’s very flavorful, especially once you add the sauces.  Sauces are key.  I also saw popular reviews for the stuffed crab backs and wanted to try those as well.  Sadly, they were out that night; I guess they’re a bit too popular :-).

So to start I tried the calypso guacamole and chips along with the Trini rum punch.  You can’t go wrong with either guac or a nice drink on happy hour right?  Just an FYI, happy hour is from 4-7pm during the weekdays.  As mentioned above, I went with the bake and shark as the main entree and their sweet plantains.  Let’s just say they’ve nailed their rendition of this classic Trini dish.  I couldn’t get over how sweet and delicious the bread was!  Simply amazing.  The sandwich consists of fried shark with tamarind, chadon beni and garlic sauce, pickled slaw and mango chutney.  The shark was fried perfectly and the mix of ingredients was the perfect combination to exude the intense flavors of this sandwich.  Pearl’s offers a few more sauces you can add to your sandwich to your liking; my favorites were the garlic and hot pepper sauces.

For a split second, I was able to remove myself from the hustle and bustle of NYC and mentally took a trip to the islands for about 2 hours.  Pearl’s is definitely a place to try and I highly recommend their bake and shark.  Take a quick trip to the islands with me by going through the gallery below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Step into Bo’s Kitchen

NYC has so many restaurants that you can try, it’s insane.  I worked in the Flatiron neighborhood for over a year and never even knew about this hidden little gem called Bo’s Kitchen & Bar Room.  The bar greets you as soon as you enter, definitely  a plus  in my book.  The dining area is towards the back and filled with pictures and this captivating sign pictured below.image

The night started with a sangria for me and I had quite some time to go over the entrees to make a good decision for the evening.  I went with the Cajun pork chop parmesan.  It was completely covered with a spicy tomato sauce and melted gruyere cheese along with parmesan.  The perfect combination of flavor for this succulent pork chop!  The chop was placed on top of steamed zucchini as well.  My husband kept it light and simple with his choice, shrimp tacos.  These were quite tasty with their shrimp, corn, tomato, cotija and crema toppings, garnished with cilantro.  It’s always funny when we go out for dinner because the waiter normally mixes up our entrees.  You would think he would go for the over-sized pork chop right? We also decided to add a side of mac and cheese.  Probably one of our favorite side dishes and definitely a good addition to our meals.  When in Flatiron, give this place a try.  Nice ambiance and great food.  What more can you ask for?

image

image

image