Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Nick's Laguna Beach


Laguna Beach, CA. Finding a trendy new American eatery off the coast isn't as easy as it sounds. With restaurants opening and closing like an of-the-moment crush, I felt like I lucked out when I stopped at this eatery in Laguna Beach.  New eats ahead of us, my friend and I headed down to Orange County using this restaurant as only a marker. Ah, but with hunger in the belly and American on the mind, we were already walking to this restaurant before we agreed on the venue.

The interior decor of Nick's Laguna Beach is simple but pleasant. There is good lighting bouncing in from the street with soft filters overhead. There is ample indoor and outdoor seating, depending on the day and time, but there are passer-bys aplenty in front of the restaurant. In looking around at the aesthetic, it was hard to determine how the food would actually be. The menu featured a few twists on American classics but if you are willing to try, do so,  and your taste buds will thank you. Service was consistent during the experience, from the server, to the manager, to the bus boy.

Fried Deviled Eggs
Fried Deviled Eggs - with no idea other than "they might look cool," my friend and I ordered this appetizer. First thoughts were right but they tasted even better. A fancy deviled egg, how about that? Tastes and looks like the usual dish, but the egg whites are flash fried, changing the taste just enough for innovation. The breading is light and the dish was easily split amongst my friend and I. Cool idea to integrate into your own family pot lucks.

Ribeye Melt

Nick's Ribeye Melt - for a sandwich, was just plain tasty. The sourdough bread was grilled with parmesan cheese, forming a crispy crust along the outer edge. The steak was cooked at a medium rare, layered with Swiss, caramelized onions, and a very light spread of creamy horseradish. There is a selection of sides, but I found that the Thai Peanut Cole Slaw was a great side to offset the carb-heavy sandwich. Creamy horseradish comes on the side for extra dipping madness. Although I ate the meal slowly, the taste held form throughout. The only 'negative' point of note: the onions gelled as they cooled, turning into an onion paste on the heated sourdough.

The beverage shown at the start of this post is called "Farmer's Market Cocktail" served on Saturdays and made from freshly purchased and pressed berries with lime juice and gin. It was a light, refreshing blend for a hot summer day and hit the spot quite easily. My venture here was more about the food, but as a digression, it was a good little addition to our menu. The takeaway: I enjoyed the eat enough to warrant a return, although next time, more food and maybe...hmm...dinner?

Nick's Laguna Beach
440 S Coast Hwy
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
(949) 376-8595
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Salmon Salad in Unda Style Tortilla

Salmon Salad in an Unda Style Tortilla with Crispy Cheese
While doing some reading online, I came across this rendition of a quesadilla on a blog called 101cookbooks and decided to apply the toasted caper and "Unda" style to my own high protein meal...

Prep Time: 5 minutes
1 serving

1 Can of Trader Joe's Alaskan Pink Salmon
1 1/2 Tbsp of Light Mayonnaise

Salt & Pepper (to taste)
2 Tsp of Capers
1/4 Tsp Butter, Unsalted
1/2 Slice Cheese

1 egg
1 Carb-Cutting Tortilla
1/4 Tbsp Butter, Unsalted

Mix salmon with mayonnaise and salt and pepper. Toast capers in butter over medium to high heat until darker in color. Set aside on paper towel to dry. Fold capers into salmon salad. Cook cheese in pan until desired crispness. Set aside. Melt butter in pan and crack egg. When halfway cooked, press tortilla into egg and flip to cook the other side. Fold salmon into tortilla, egg side up, and place crispy cheese on top. Cook Time: 10 minutes.

Nutrition Info (1 serving)
Calories: 494, Fat: 27g, Sat. Fat: 8.7g, Cholest.: 307.6mg, Sodium: 800.4mg, Carb.: 14.1g, Fiber 7g, Sugars: 1.5g, Protein: 55g
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Green Peas - RE-OPENED!!


Culver City, CA. It was a brisk, yet sunny day in Los Angeles, and I had a need for something something light, something fresh, and something tasty. Could I find such a place? I checked out my phone, found a few spots, and what do you know, there was this healthy eatery just minutes away. What's so great about this Argentine run, healthy eatery is that it offers a diverse array of options for carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores alike.

Carrot Soup - Certainly warming and certainly fresh. A rather larger cup despite the fact that it was merely a cup. The soup tasted like pureed carrots strained and only lightly seasoned. If carrots are loved, it's a good option, but if flavor is the key player, then it's not the suggested soup to try - as carrots are the only taste of note in this particular soup.

Vegan Steak Sandwich - hosted on pretzel bread, included pesto aioli, Gardein steak, and Daiya cheese with the peppers and onions, making for a great flavor blend. Daiya cheese tends to clump as it chills, so in previous experience and what I noticed with this, eat your sandwich when it arrives to your table. The pretzel bread came lightly toasted but remained soft and moist.  The sandwich came with a simple salad.. It was not a stand-alone dish, but it certainly skewed the attention back to the sandwich and was a simple, fresh addition to the plate.

There is street parking available but please read the signs. The surrounding streets have plenty of spaces available, likely due to the fact that the restaurant is not at a high-traffic intersection. There was ample seating inside and out, but with its layout, this is not a large group type of venue. The restaurant draws a mixed crowd of dancers, yogis, ice skaters, locals, to fellow visitors looking for a quiet spot to write and eat. Fruit infused water is offered to all guests in the seating area. In addition to the good eats, there were pleasant staff, efficient clean-up, and an overall low-cost. I can't wait to come back and explore the menu more fully.

Green Peas
4437 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City, CA 90230
(310) 397-9815
Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Shoop's European Deli

Santa Monica, CA. I was heading along Main St. in Santa Monica and came across this happy little accident. After seeing this corner deli, I stopped by for a bit of a "healthier" lunch.  I was warmly greeted as I entered and promptly seated, a feature that seems missing from dining nowadays.  In looking at the listed menu of sandwiches and lighter fare, I decided on the Body Wrap. 

Body Wrap
Body Wrap - Egg whites, chicken, mozzarella, and avocado in a spinach tortilla. I ordered the salsa on the side, to enjoy the simplicity and dip as I pleased. The dish also came with a small cup of melons, grapes, and pineapple. Although it was a pretty uncomplicated meal, it was satisfying for the sunny afternoon and a perfect snack to eat mid-bike ride.

The little shop offers a good variety of sandwiches that, from the customers' plates, looked tasty. If you are looking for an ideal stop before  hitting the sand or just to grab a bite on a lunch break or time with a friend, I would recommend giving this little deli a try.

Shoop's European Deli
2400 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 452-1019
Friday, April 01, 2011

Zelda's Corner Deli

Venice, CA. I almost hate how close this place is to my friend's place. These made to order mini-donuts are addictive and very dangerous to the waist-line.

When you walk in and order the mini-donuts the person behind the counter takes out a pitcher of batter and pours it into a funky little contraption that plops out little rings into a deep fryer. The batter dances around in bubbling oil until it forms into the shape of donut. The fried dough is then moved into a basket that allows excess oil to drip down. It then is moved into a tray to cool off. The delicate little confections are then scooped up and dropped into a white paper bag and doused in cinnamon and sugar.

The final results are light little beignets or mini-donuts as they are called at Zelda's. They are extremely fluffy and delicious. The mini-donuts are not too greasy or sweet (like a lot of fried desserts). They taste like bite-sized churros (i.e. heaven). At 12 for $3 it's a great deal whether or not you split a bag or devour the entire treat yourself. If you do however eat the whole thing, I advise you grab a surf board and catch some waves, otherwise you might develop a mini-donut around your waist.

Zelda's Corner Deli
9 Westminster Ave
Venice, CA 90291
(310) 314-6458

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