Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Golfer's Lounge at Trump National Golf Club

Five of us went for Happy Hour at the Golfer's Lounge at the Trump National Golf Club last night. We ordered our drinks from the Happy Hour Menu and tried to decide what to order. We had to decide if we wanted to order from that menu or the Seafood Buffet for $39.00. They didn't have fresh oysters but had mussels and clams. When I saw the poached salmon with caviar which I have had before, I quickly decided to have the buffet.  Everyone followed suit except Sandi who decided on the burger. Lucky for me that I was seated next to her since her burger came with an abundance of crispy tasty fries!

I was proud of Piero who normally dislikes anything raw but he thought he would be adventurous and try the sashimi; although I think the real reason was that he saw the succulent shrimps, salad and pasta. Everything was fresh and delicious.

Sugar aka Lydia loved the pasta with shrimps and pesto sauce. The clams and mussels were good but not anywhere as good as if you ordered their mussels on the menu with lots of the wonderful sauce.

Dessert was apple pie and brownie squares which were almost like fudge.

I have to mention that we were all disappointed with the service. There were only a few people till almost the end of our meal, yet there were several servers and they were mostly just talking among themselves. We literally had to flag them down to ask for something. On the buffet table, there were serving spoons missing, the cocktail sauce and the salad dressing didn't have any spoons. I was really surprised. Lydia commented that maybe it was because we were not in the main dining room. That could be; though that's a poor excuse because we didn't see anyone in the main dining room at the time.

When it came down to paying, we handed the server 2 credit cards. It took a long time for us to get the bill. Their computer went down and they had to do everything by hand. After we've signed the credit card bill, Sugar discovered that they charged her bill to mine and mine to her card. The server had an expression of confusion. Luckily, the manager came by and he guided our server away from us probably to give him lessons in Math 101.

It was still a fun evening in spite of mediocre service. On our way out, we were able to view the supermoon which was a nice way to end the evening.

Friday, November 11, 2016

L' Assiette Steak Frites

Another one of those Blackboard Eats Prix-Fixe deals brought us to this restaurant last night. After an hour and 40 minute drive we finally found the place to discover that there was no place to park. The valet would not start till 6 pm, so we went around the side streets to look for parking. We did find a spot after praying: "Hail Mary full of Grace, help me find a parking space".

The restaurant was charming and it did have that modern French flair to it. We were the only ones there and it took several minutes for someone to show up. We were finally seated and as I whipped out the Blackboard Eats voucher, our server announced that he would get us the special menu. This was a 4 course prix-fixe for $48. This included an appetizer, a glass of wine, an entree and dessert. How can one go wrong. The glass of wine was quite generous; it really was a good size.

We ordered 2 appetizers to share: The Truffle Mac 'n Cheese and the Dates Farcies au Chêvre Frais. These wonderful  dates were stuffed with goat cheese wrapped in applewood bacon and swimming in turmeric bechamel sauce. These were wonderful. The sweetness of the dates with the goat cheese and salty bacon with the creamy bechamel were far from healthy but was worth every calorie. The Mac n Cheese was also nice and creamy with a nice truffle flavor. We would have been very happy with just these 2 items including the French bread. It was a shame to leave the bechamel sauce when all the dates were gone, so I had to mop it up with more French bread.

The Little Gem Salad was a bit sour but I was happy with my Sorrel Soup. It was good but I made it a point not to finish it since we still had the steak frites coming.

Their flagship Steak Frites arrived. I will say that you couldn't find a more tender steak. It was cooked to perfection but the sauce did not do it for us. We both thought it was too tangy. The flavor was a bit blah; it could have maybe used some mustard. The frites were very good. We were both full from the bread and appetizers but we quickly had to make ourselves hungry for dessert. It's mind over matter.

We ordered the Triple fudge Brownie; sea salt flakes, raspberry coulis with French vanilla bean ice cream and the Banane Poêlée au Rhum; caramelized bananas, Myers Jamaican Rum sauce and French vanilla bean ice cream. They both sounded amazing but we were not too amazed.  The brownie was just okay and the bananas were too mushy and it lacked rum. I can do much better without trying hard.

We noticed the manager who was most of the time MIA (missing in action), came out to talk to someone that wanted to see her then she promptly disappeared. We also noticed she had no personality at all. It looked like she was just there because she had to be there. There were just a few more people when we left but it never got busy when we left at 7:30 p.m. L'Assiette Steak Frites is located at 7166 Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Din Tai Fung

The long awaited Din Tai Fung at the Del Amo Mall in Torrance is finally open. They were supposed to open in September but didn't make that deadline. Instead, they opened November 7th. As the saying goes, "better late than never".

Sandi and I dashed to the mall yesterday for a very early dinner. For those of you already familiar with the restaurant, you know it is common to have a line of people waiting to get in. We were there before 4:30 on a weekday and there were just 3 people ahead of us. Of course work hasn't gotten around yet since they just opened.

We had to order their famous Pork Xiaolongbao. These are dumplings that have soup inside. You have to know how to eat this properly or you get splattered from the soup all over your face and your outfit. Our friend Ana taught us the proper way. First you pour vinegar and soy sauce on the little dish with shredded ginger. You pick one of the dumplings with your chopsticks and dip it in the sauce. You then lay it on the spoon and bite the very tip off, then immediately suck or drink the soup. Then and only then can you consume the dumpling. Try not to cross your eyes after that first sip as the old wives tale says; if the wind blows while your eyes are crossed, it will stay that way! I don't believe it because Ana used to cross her eyes all the time from ecstasy and she still has perfect eyes.

We ordered the other entree we couldn't do without. Shrimp and Pork Wontons with Spicy Sauce. It is so good especially after you mix in all the sauce. We had to have noodles so we had the Shredded Pork Fried Noodles. It was delicious. Sandi thought it was a bit greasy but I liked the grease! We had no problems finishing everything. There was nothing to take home.

The most exciting thing was the arrival of their new dessert which they already had in the Philippines. The Chocolate & Mochi Xiaolongbao. They are warm dumplings with chocolate inside. Best way to eat this is to eat it with your hands. You first pick it up and stretch it open and you see the chocolate ooze out.  You can then pop half in your mouth and savor the chewy mochi and the very good dark chocolate. You can almost hear the angels playing the harp. We thought we were in heaven! Note that if there are 3 of you, you should have 2 orders because it will be hard to eat just one or two.

As we left, we saw the "surgeons" making the chocolate xiaolongbao. There were more people in line by the time we left. I don't know what the lunch crowd is like but I'm sure I will soon find out. It will be nice not to go all the way to South Coast Plaza to eat at Din Tai Fung since we now have one just around the corner.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Tous les Jours

I have only tried some of the cakes from Tous de Jours located inside the H Mart Korean market in Torrance.

Recently I saw a free standing Tous les Jours at 2814 Sepulveda Blvd. #A also in Torrance. I went in and saw the beautiful cakes I've seen in the other store but was not impressed upon trying a few. This time, I concentrated on the other pastries. I didn't know what to buy so naturally I bought a bunch. How else will I know what's good, right?

I got a Maple Bacon Delight, Pain Aux Raisins, Pineapple Jam Pastry, Almond Croissant, Croquette Donut which is fried and stuffed with pork and assorted vegetables. The maple bacon was not delightful as it was too sicky sweet. The pan aux raisins was just o.k.; unlike the ones L'Amande Bakery used to have which was outstanding. The croquette donut and the almond croissant was also just okay.

My favorite out of all of them were the Cheesy Donut which had cheese inside a very light crispy shell. The cheese ball is in one spot but when you press the donut to take a bite, the cheese is evenly distributed so each bite would have the yummy cheese. The other donut that is just as good is the Sesame Fried Donut with sesame seeds. This had no filling but was still delicious especially with a strong cup of coffee.

I also got one Croque Monsieur which I could not eat the same day. I refrigerated it and toasted it the following morning. I even burned it a bit. It was a very good ham and cheese sandwich with something sweet. I couldn't tell what made it sweet.

Tous les Jours has a multitude of breads which looks good so I will have to try some if not all sometime soon.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Dominique's Kitchen

When the cat's away the mice will play. In this case we are dealing with one mouse. The mouse is Amy. Since her husband went on a fishing trip, Sandi and I thought she should get out of the house and have dinner with the girls.....and what better place to celebrate than to to have dinner at Dominique's Kitchen.

We were greeted by the very charming Liza, Dominique's wife who made us feel at home as usual. Our server, Robert who has been there for years was courteous and attentive as always. He immediately brought us wine glasses for the wine we brought. He then served us the white bean with shaved Parmesan salad and warm French bread which we immediately devoured. For appetizer, we had the flambéed Brie cheese with a slice of apple in the bottom. We then realized that we needed to eat that with the bread we just devoured. Luckily, Robert was quick to notice that we needed more bread.

Amy decided on one of my favorite dishes, Pan Seared Sole Fillet with sautéed spinach. One of the specials for the evening was Pork Meatballs with Truffle Polenta. Sandi wanted to order the Sole so she suggested we split the Sole and split the Meatballs. I asked Robert how many balls were there in an order and he said: three. Since I've never had them before, I decided to have all three balls. In other words I did not want to split my balls. So Sandi decided to have her very own balls as well. Everything was delicious as always. The meatballs were nice and tender and went very well with the polenta. Amy ate half her fish, Sandi ate one meatball and I unfortunately didn't have anything to take home.  We all ate too much bread and the cheese of course took up too much room in our tummies.

We had to share a dessert and that was their famous Baked Alaska. While we were having our dessert, Amy had a phone call from her husband in Mammoth to check up on her. She seemed pleased to inform him that she was not home and that she was at Dominique's with me and Sandi.

It was another very pleasant evening at Dominique's Kitchen. They recently celebrated their 4th year anniversary. The restaurant is still there and is going strong. It's hard to beat good food, service and reasonable prices. Cheers to Dominique and Liza. May you have many many more successful years to come.

Dominique's Kitchen is at 522 Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach, California.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Eleven Eleven Mississippi

It's a long name for a restaurant but the good thing is you won't have to remember it's address since that is their address. You are fortunate if you live in St. Louis, Missouri because this is where you will find this great restaurant which was recommended by the Trinidads (foodie friends of mine).

Sandi and I got there early which was nice since the restaurant was still quiet. We were led upstairs. We were impressed with the ambiance. White table cloths and multi-colored plates and napkins.  We of course preferred sitting upstairs since the downstairs was more for the younger crowd with it's vibrant bar scene.

It was love at first sight when we met our server Russell. He couldn't have been more professional, articulate, and warm. It was refreshing not to have some "dingbat" or "Hollywood" type guy that recites the menu like a robot or answers "no problem" when thanked, instead of "you're welcome". He served us their special Rosemary bread with caramelized onions with a side of olive oil and lots of parmesan cheese which I normally ask for when served oil and vinegar. The bread was so good that we had to promise ourselves not to eat all of them which was difficult to do.

We were torn between the Artichoke Bottoms and Fried Calamari. Russell suggested the Calamari with cherry tomatoes, pepperoncinis, chili flakes, spinach, carrots and red pepper aioli. In all my calamari days, I have never had it served with all these ingredients. Sandi and I loved them. They were feather light and crunchy. All the other ingredients were perfectly synchronized with the calamari. It was the best calamari ever.

We split two entrées between us. We had the 12 oz. Char Crust Dry Rubbed Ribeye with Tillamook cheddar-potato gratin & Gorgonzola butter and the Lasagna Bianco (house-made pasta) with butternut squash, pecorino, kale, porcini breadcrumbs & bechamel sauce. Both were outstanding. The ball of gorgonzola  served on top of the steak, melted nicely and made the juicy and tender steak even better. The lasagna was delicious as well and went well with the steak.

Though we were both full, we left a little room for dessert. We already knew we had to order their signature Crème Custard Napoleon; layers of crispy phyllo creme custard with caramelized bananas and chocolate shavings.  The crispy phyllo was genius. The custard was not too sweet. The only way this could have been more perfect was if they had the very crispy phyllo on top which they did and added more layers of phyllo like the traditional Napoleon and less custard. This is just my personal preference.

At the end of our meal, I asked Russell if I could take a picture of him and he graciously agreed and sat next to Sandi. It was a lovely evening which we enjoyed. It is unfortunate than I am back in Los Angeles and there is no Eleven Eleven Mississippi here. If you ever get a chance to go to St. Louis, Missouri, make it a point to visit this restaurant.