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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Nick’s at the pier or the beach it’s going to go down just the same

Nick’s at the Pier or Nick’s at the Beach it’s just about the same to me.  The menus are about equal.  The outside building for Nick’s at the Beach appears a bit nicer but the view (of the water) is better from Nick’s at the Pier.

They do sports quite well at Nick’s.  ‘This two-story restaurant offers the best of both worlds. Downstairs you’ll find a light and airy, casual, California-style restaurant and sidewalk café where smoking is permitted. A total of twenty main course selections prepared by talented Chef Scott McElroy. Mouthwatering fresh seafood is the house specialty. We always serve the best catch of the day, fresh from the market.

‘We also serve great-tasting steaks, chicken dishes, savory apple brandy pork chops, pasta dishes, crowd-pleasing sandwiches, and salads fresh from the garden. For desserts, order our warm bread pudding with a Bourbon caramel sauce. Upstairs at Nick’s is where the party begins. Whether it’s sports you want or a friendly game of pool, you’ll find it here. We have 29 TVs, 16 beers on tap and a great ocean view from our outdoor deck where you can smoke (smoking is allowed here). This is what makes Nick’sSan Diego’s best neighborhood restaurant’…

I had the BLACKENED CHICKEN With melted Swiss cheese, Napa cabbage Chipotle Mayonnaise. It was $9.95 and Nancy did the SMOKED TURKEY with melted Swiss and Dijon Mayonnaise for $8.45.

The food there is really good and the service was even better.  Some sports bars can get rowdy and partial to the other teams, but this place is more sedate.  During football season, you can earn points for free beers and with the friendly crowd and employees I think this place is a winner for me.  

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IHOP El Cajon, that’s my stop for pancakes

Is that waffles or wafles?  Will that be Belgian wafles orLiegewafles?  So I’m asking Foodnetwork.com for a recipe for waffles and it gives me Bobby Flay’s Liege Waffles.  I kid you not; it calls for 5 lbs of flour, 10 eggs and amongst other things 1.5 lbs of honey, and 1.5 lbs pearl sugar.  The bottom line here is Liege Waffles are sweet without syrup, and every diabetic’s nightmare.

 

Any good linguist could tell youLiegewas once under French influence while Belgians were mainly of Germanic stock.  Further you should know that the batter for Belgian Waffles (spelled wafles over there) was aBrusselscreation not Belgian.  Well, IHOP has brought us a new menu item, Belgian Waffles.

 

My IHOP, at 1286 Oakdale Ave in El Cajon, offers this newest menu item, so we did them.  Along with the never empty carafe of hot coffee, we were given ice water without asking for it, and I thought that was a nice touch.

 

My Belgian Waffles were better than good.  The beverages were great andNancy’s Pancake Combo was equally up for the ‘best food around challenge’.  Service was very good.  I suppose the only thing missing was Cliff Bemis.  You remember him don’t you?  He’s the guy ordering up the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘n Fruity… he lasted about 10 years and I suppose I miss him a little.  That’s a long time for an Iconic spokesman.  Are you listening Flo?  Just where is Mr. Bemis now?  Maybe he’s talking to Progressive Insurance?  Could Flo be considering a run of ordering some Rooty Tootys on TV anytime soon?  She would make for a nice IHOP hostess too don’t you think?

 

The only thing which would make this a better trip would be if we could order and receive this fine breakfast for about $15.00 but that’s the price I paid back in 2000.  Today it’s competitive at about $21.00.  The service is solid and good with typically friendly servers.

 

So to make this a nice day trip I say finish breakfast and then do a nice hike upCowelsMt.   From the bottom to the top is about a 2 hour endeavor and if you reach the top and get back to your car without a heart attack it would be a reasonably priced day at $21.00 plus gas.

 

Look here for info http://www.mtrp.org/directions.asp?idno=2 on the hike referenced above.

Center Cut Steakhouse in Chula Vista is good

Center Cut Steakhouse, located at 534 Broadway, inChula Vista is well worth the trip if you want good food and a seat at the next Chargers game.  The place is nested in a dull strip mall behind a bank so it’s not much to look at from the outside.  I was goaded into a trip to the South bay by one who reads my reviews regularly.  She recommended Center Cut with such passion that I had to go and check it out.  Trust me, as a kid growing up in National City, I enjoy the South bay as much as anyone so I put on my nostalgia coat and tie and boogied down to 534 Broadway in Chula Vista for some Carne Asada with rice & beans and it was good.

 

The menu is large with plenty of Mexican food to choose from, plus nice salads for one moving in those circles and good looking pastas.  Obviously they do steak there thus the name.  The food was good and not high priced.  I kind of hope they’re priced high enough to still be in business next year.

 

I was enticed to visit the Center Cut as one who reviews sports bars, but it just doesn’t feel like a sports bar to me.  They do have a good bar with a few TVs hung and tuned to Charger fever, but the place gives me the sense that they can’t wait to dance.  Salsa is big and if you like to dance this may be your spot.

 

The bottom line is, I’ll go back for the food.  I might go one night when I want to put my Latin dance shoes on but when I want a good crowd to cheer on the Chargers, I’d prefer a different venue (Tiny’s Tavern an O.B. trophy). 

Susan Lucci come on down… there’s room here in Pine Valley for you

Go to Major’s Diner at 28870 Old Highway 80,Pine Valley, CA if you want a pleasant outing in the country.  As the crow flies, Major’s is a long way from most homes inSan Diego.  However, when coming fromSan Diego you will go as the crow flies.  Interstate 8 is pretty much a straight shot to Major’s.  It’s all freeway but the grade will wreak havoc with your MPGs.

 

Talk about fall colors. PineValleywill typically produce a fall display to rival anywhere for at least a week.  If there’s an early cold snap followed by a long moderate period with no winds to blow the leaves off and away, the pretty colors will last up to 6 weeks.  The County Park is right off the I-8 and contains yellows, reds, and purples to compliment the ever greens.  With Major’s just three buildings to the east, you can take in a breakfast or lunch with time to spare for the park.  Hit it on Thursday – Sunday and you can get a very nice dinner.

 

Click on this (http://www.majorsdiner.com/) and you’ll see they’re open seven days per week but Monday – Wednesday they close at 2:00 p.m. and the rest of the week they close at 8:00 p.m.  They open at 6:00 a.m. daily.  The current group of cooks does a good job getting you food that is consistently good to excellent.  The soups are home made and the breads are baked locally and fresh from a local wholesale bakery that I love.

 

Listening to patrons talk can be great fun.  I’ve heard everything from this place is way too expensive to the service is lousy to its too confusing here because there’s a coffee shop and Majors.  Just so you know, prices are on the rise for everyone, including restaurateurs.  If they charge what they did last year they won’t be here next year.  The servers are very dedicated at Majors and occasionally they do get swamped.  When they expect to do 7 – 10 plates per hour and unexpectedly need to ramp it up to 20 per hour that server will be understandingly challenged to get it all done to anyone’s satisfaction.

 

Bottom line here is prices are fair; Service is usually great, and the food is typically good. I’d give this 3 ½ stars,

The Bull Pen Bar & Grill Clairmont Mesa

Head down (or up) 163 to Clairemont Mesa Blvdand go west young man go west.  Just a couple of blocks from the freeway you’ll be at 8199 Clairemont Mesa Blvd and there, on the south side, you’ll find The Bull Pen Bar & Grill (http://www.bullpenbar.com/).   It’s a very unassuming store front with a big green neon street sign in front signaling their presence.

 

 

‘For your viewing pleasure, the Bullpen Bar and Grill has over 45+ flat screen televisions and an HD projection screen. We carry the most requested sports packages from DirecTv and Time Warner Cable.

 

‘We have a Smoking Patio, Bar Area, Dining and Games room. For large groups, the Games room will be converted into a party room to fit your needs.

Come in and enjoy yourself.’

 

 

Inside you’ll find a decent interior.  It would almost appear to be a cut above your typical sports bar.  I find myself wondering if this place is connected; the feeling is like that place down inMissionValleyback in the day… the one that was a mob hangout.  I see no mobsters hanging out and in fact even though it’s not a big sports day I hoped for a bigger crowd at noon on a weekday because it would signal good food.  The room is not even half full.  ‘At least we’ll have good service with such a small crowd,’ one would think, right?

 

After a huge gap in seating time till iced tea time, I took in the menu with all the dead time.  It’s a big menu for sure.  Again, I’m just not used to the higher prices of our modern era.  ‘On my wallet, I’ll have trouble paying for the appetizers.’  I ordered a mushroom bacon burger (because it was one of the cheapest priced items and I do like a good burger). Nancyhad a little trouble finding anything she would like that was under $10.00 but settled for fish tacos (2 @ $9.25).  She forgot to request a flour tortilla and wasn’t impressed with the fish, or the other items that came with it.

 

I can say that if you live in the neighborhood and have plenty of time, unless you’re friends with the servers that is, you may enjoy this place.  I probably won’t be heading back anytime soon.

 

 

El Cajon goes to Hawaii

Go to the food court inEl Cajon’sParkwayPlaza.  You can find food fare fromHawaiitoItaly.  This place is truly a cornucopia of tastes to choose from.  My focus became Hula Hawaii BBQ only because like all good fair mongers, Hula was hawking their wares with the now common approach of handing out bites on a pick.

 

They handedNancyand I a bite of teriyaki chicken and it tasted so good we both wanted and got a ‘mini meal’ with a garden salad, macaroni salad and chicken for under $5.00.  I found myself thinking that if I worked for them I could learn how to make this delightful chicken dish and then I could have it anytime I want it.  The first bite of the macaroni salad turned me into a Doubting Thomas as I found a very peculiar taste slapping my taste buds around.  Close inspection revealed the source of this oddity.  Boldly there where I’d never gone before, mixed well within the confines of macaroni and mayonnaise was a bit, not a bite, but a bit of tuna.  I didn’t like it.

 

After I found my Zen thing, and did my om thing, I opened up my limits of acceptability for my palate thing, and decided to enjoy this new to me taste thing.  By the end of that salad I did enjoy it.  But the chicken was the clincher.  It was good.  It was real good. Nancyagrees that it was good enough to go back for.  In fact she told me that after her dentist appointment she thought she might go to Hula Hawaii BBQ in the Parkway Mall’s food court and have another mini meal.

 

There’s not much on the web for this business.  I found nothing on the genesis, nor the business philosophy, but I can conclude they are doing something right because there are a lot of them throughout many of ourUnited States.  For now all I will say is when in the mall the ono is Hula Hawaii BBQ and I give a big shaka to the friendly gal behind the counter handing out toothpicks of chicken.  Ono means delicious and shaka is the hand gesture meaning thanks in Hawaiian culture.

Bub’s Bar & Grill adds value to your outing

I’m starting to understand that sports bars are owned and operated by folks who are from elsewhere and want to watch the game as a tax deductible way of life.  And so it is with Bud’s Dive Bar at 1030 Garnet in PacificBeach.  In a pleasant brick lined storefront a couple of blocks east of the Chrystal Pier, the Pittsburg Steelers are on the menu every game day.  They even give away Steeler jerseys on game day just to show PA enthusiasm.  Check out their web site http://bubsdive.com/p-5129-history.html, the menu is very nice for ‘a dive bar’.

 

The prices are just about as they should be to keep fans coming back every week for years to come, unlike some places I just can’t afford Claim Jumpers jumps into future with prices.  The food is totally great bar fare.  Because I made such a stink about spending too much on my grub just the other day, I decided to find places offering great value for the buck.  Here’s my tab at Bub’s:  I did the Grilled Cheesy Sammitch, on a fresh sourdough which comes with more tater tots than I could eat 6.95.  Nancy had the fish and chips just to keep with the standard comparison (see article above) and she found that they did this dish with less batter so you actually felt the fish was what it was all about and it was good 8.95.  We did try to do a fair comparison so we spilt a large green salad, the Wedge salad which was plenty good tasting 6.95.  We each did a Bud Light and that’s a pint each 7.00 for both.  The grand total was right at $34.00 and that included a bar bill! So this is the price I want to pay.  Plus they charged nothing for the peanuts which tasted unusually good.

 

This then wins this weeks competition for the best sports bar in town!  Go there and feel a part of the family.  They say you don’t need to be fromPittsburgto feel at home there.