Now Griffin can help you buy or sell real estate! Click here to visit GriffinSellsOC.com or call him at 714-724-GRIF (4743) !
ATTENTION!! On the left hand column, you will find links to search by cuisine or city. You will also find a restaurant index of all of the places I have written about on the column on the right. If you enjoy the site, please bookmark the site and tell a friend! You can also subscribe to be notified when the site updates by entering your e-mail address in the box on the left. Happy Eating!

Please visit our partner sites DiningOutInOC.com for info on OC restaurant openings and special culinary related events, Booze It Up OC for info on OC 21+ events and Brunch In OC for info and reviews on weekend brunches. You can also find Griffin as one of the "experts" over at LocalCuisine.com

Griffin Eats OC's Fan Box

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chick-Fil-A Free Breakfast Fridays Return Again!-2009



I love this time of year because it means that it is time for Chick-Fil-A's annual Free Breakfast Friday promotion. In the months of January and February, Chick-Fil-A will again be offering a free breakfast item every Friday. Stop by your local Orange County Chick-Fil-A every Friday to get your free breakfast. Unfortunately, this year you need to purchase a small beverage in order to get the free breakfast item. Every other year it was no purchase necessary. Sadness. I guess this helps to prevent people from driving around to each location to get a free item at each one....Not that I've ever done that.......I just uh....heard about someone who did.....yeah...... Anyway, here is a list of the participating locations and the free items they are handing out.

Chick-Fil-A Bristol & MacArthur
3601 S. Bristol Street
Santa Ana, CA 92704
714-540-0020

Chick-Fil-A North Orange
2575 N. Tustin Avenue
Orange, CA 92865
714-685-1707

Chick-Fil-A at The Market Place in Irvine
13490 Jamboree Road
Irvine, CA 92602
714-730-9100

Chick-Fil-A at The La Habra Marketplace
1801 W. Imperial Highway
La Habra, CA 90631
562-691-8112

Chick-Fil-A at The District in Tustin Legacy
2889 Park Ave.
Tustin, CA 92782
714-258-1400

Chick-Fil-A at Woodbury Town Center
6428 Irvine Blvd.
Irvine, CA 92620
949-551-4232

January 2, 2009 Free Chick-Fil-A Chicken Biscuit
January 9, 2009 Free 3-count Chick-Fil-A Chick-n-Minis
January 16, 2009 Free Breakfast Chicken or Sausage Burrito
January 23, 2009 Free Chick-Fil-A Chicken Biscuit
January 30, 2009 Free 3-count Chick-Fil-A Chick-n-Minis
February 6, 2009 Free Breakfast Chicken or Sausage Burrito
February 13, 2009 Free Chick-Fil-A Chicken Biscuit
February 20, 2009 Free 3-count Chick-Fil-A Chick-n-Minis
February 27, 2009 Free Breakfast Chicken or Sausage Burrito

No Coupon necessary. You must purchase a small beverage this year to get the free breakfast item. One entree per person, per day. 6:30 AM-10:30 AM

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bistro West - Tustin District-CLOSED


2601 Park Ave
The District at Tustin Legacy
Tustin CA 92782
(714) 259-9378

1 other location in Carlsbad, CA

www.bistrowest.com

RESTAURANT LOCATION OUT OF BUSINESS-OTHER LOCATION MAY STILL BE OPEN

The latest new restaurant in The District at Tustin Legacy, Bistro West, opened a few days ago. I heard about a 25% off promotion they were having, so I decided to head down there for dinner. (Click Here to get Coupon-Expires March 15th 2009) Bistro West calls itself a restaurant that serves contemporary comfort food. Because of this, I expected the restaurant to be a lot more casual than it actually was. The interior of the large restaurant has a sleek modern look with large glass cabinets filled with wine bottles. The lighting is dim and the atmosphere is quite cozy.

We arrived around 6:30 PM on a Saturday night as a party of 5. I was expecting a wait since the restaurant had only been open for a few days. Instead we encountered a mostly empty restaurant. We were seated immediately at a nice table and were handed our menus and a wine list. We looked over the wine list and saw that Bistro West offers a lot of wines by the glass or half carafe. S and I decided to split a half carafe of wine.

A friendly waiter came to our table, introduced himself and told us that our waitress was on break. He grabbed one of the menus and pointed out each section of the menu to us. This was kind of a nice touch, but I thought it was unnecessary. We were perfectly capable of reading the heading on each page ourselves. He then brought us out some freshly baked rolls and butter. These rolls were fantastic. They were hot from the oven, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.

Our waitress, fresh back from her break, came over to greet us and introduce herself. She then took our dinner order. R decided to get the Beef Stroganoff ($21.95). J ordered the Meatloaf Sandwich ($13.50) and V ordered the Ahi Salad ($17.95). S and I both decided to order burgers. S got the Turkey Burger ($11.95) and I got the cheeseburger ($11.95). S asked for her burger with cheddar cheese instead of the swiss that the menu stated it came with. I asked for both cheddar and crumbled bleu cheese on mine. I also asked her to add bacon to the burger ($1.50 extra). I then asked if the burger came with any type of sauce on the bun. The waitress told me that it did not. S and I both had to choose a side with our burger. Our choices were, French Fries, Steak Fries, Asian Cole Slaw, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Plain Mashed Potatoes, Mac and Cheese or Fresh Seasonal Fruit. S chose the mac and cheese, I decided to get the french fries.

By this time, we were out of the yummy fresh baked bread. We asked for more, but we were told that they were still in the oven. By the time they finally came out, we were already eating out entrees.

It wasn't very long before our entrees arrived. All of the food looked really yummy. S then noticed that her burger still came with swiss cheese instead of the cheddar that she asked for. Then I saw that both sides of my burger bun were slathered with a generous amount of some kind of sauce. We pointed both errors out to the waitress. She apologized and took S's burger back to be remade right away. She offered to bring me another bun for my burger. I tasted the sauce with my finger and decided that it was fine, so I declined the extra bun.

R seemed to really enjoy his beef stroganoff. The stroganoff was cubes of beef sautéed with onions, mushrooms, sour cream, red wine, sherry & veal demiglaze on a bed of fresh fettuccine. He said that although it wasn't really flavorful, it had a nice balanced flavor. He also felt that he got a nice generous portion.

J thought her meatloaf sandwich was ok. The menu described the sandwich as made with a bacon flavored Kobe beef blend and topped with a roasted tomato-port wine BBQ sauce. She said that the meatloaf wasn't bad, but that the sandwich itself was kind of dry. The sandwich basically consisted of bread, a slice of meatloaf and a tiny bit of sauce. She thought that the sandwich would have benefited from some mayo or other kind of sauce on the bread. Her sandwich was served with mashed potatoes and she really enjoyed them. She let S try her mashed potatoes and S ended up stealing most of them off her plate.

V liked her salad a lot. The salad came with seared sesame-crusted Ahi, sliced and served rare around baby greens with shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes & cilantro-garlic-sesame-soy dressing. V said that the dressing was really good. She also said that the salad came with these little toasted garlic chips that were really yummy. She was very happy with her salad.

S chomped down on her burger and said that it was really good. She tried her mac and cheese and thought it was ok, but after trying J's mashed potatoes, she wished she had ordered those. After S ate a lot of her burger, she decided that even though the burger was good, it wasn't so good that she wanted to keep eating it after she was full.

I put some yellow mustard on my burger and took a bite. The burger was really good. It had a nice beefy flavor and was really juicy. It was actually a little too juicy maybe because the bottom of my bun was pretty soggy. The burgers here are a combination of kobe and top sirloin beef. It turns out that the sauce is their signature sun-dried tomato truffle aioli. The burger was really yummy and I did want to keep eating it, even after I was full.

Overall, we all really enjoyed ourselves at this restaurant. The food was good and the service was great. I do however think that the restaurant was a little overpriced. Because of the high prices, I feel that it is a restaurant that will be reserved for small celebrations or when we're in the mood for a really special meal. If they brought their prices down some though, I could see myself eating here a lot more often.

It's a shame that this restaurant was so empty. The waitress said they were nearly empty on their opening night because of the heavy rain. I hope that people hear about this restaurant and go try it soon. This seems to be one of the better new restaurants to open in the area recently.

Bistro West on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ayame - Irvine


(I forgot to take a picture of the restaurant, so I put up a picture of an Iris, the English translation of "Ayame")

3923 Portola Parkway
Irvine, CA 92602

714-544-2800


www.zipanguoc.com/ayahome.html



I recently went down to Ayame in the Orchard Hills shopping center in Irvine. Ayame is the little sibling of Zipangu in Costa Mesa. They call themselves a Japanese fusion restaurant. Since it was a Friday night, and we had a party of 5, we had called ahead to make a reservation for 6:30 PM. When we arrived it didn't really look like we needed a reservation. The restaurant had plenty of people in it, but it wasn't full.

We were seated immediately and handed menus. When I dine at a Japanese restaurant with R, we usually split a large order of hot sake. I am used to the large order being anywhere from $6.00-$9.00. When I asked about hot sake at Ayame, I was handed a sake list. She told me that they could heat up any sake. The cheapest sake on the list was $20 for a small order. I decided to pass. R and I decided to share a large bottle of Sapporo instead ($8 I think).

When the waitress came to take our dinner order, R and I both decided to order the New York Steak ($19.00). I also decided to start with their Hamachi Jalapeno appetizer ($9.50). V and J both decided to order the Miso Seabass ($26.00). S decided to have sushi for dinner and ordered a California Roll ($5.50) and a Philly Roll ($9.00). V ordered a Spicy Tuna Roll ($6.00) and J ordered some Hamachi Nigiri ($4.50).

A few minutes later, everyone that had ordered an entree got a salad and some miso soup. There was nothing special about either of these. The salad dressing was pretty flavorless and the miso soup was generic.

A few minutes later they brought out my Hamachi Jalapeno appetizer. The menu said that the dish was made with Yellowtail sashimi covered with a jalapeno tomato salsa. I took one bite and regretted it. I did not like this at all. The fish tasted old to me and everything else was just blah. I offered the dish around the table so everyone else could try it. No one seemed to really like it, they felt it was just ok.

Next up were out entrees. The New York steaks were served with a side of horseradish ponzu and teriyaki sauce. The steak was sitting on top of a tiny mound of mashed potatoes that was covered in some sauteed mushrooms and steamed vegetables. the steak was a little tough and completely unseasoned. I don't even think that any salt or pepper was added to the steak before cooking. R agreed that the steak had no flavor. The ponzu sauce was pretty good but I didn't taste any horseradish in it. R felt that since this was a Japanese restaurant that provided chopsticks only, and no knife or fork, that they should have cut the steak into smaller pieces. I have a big mouth though, so I didn't really care. The mashed potatoes and vegetables were forgettable. The mushrooms though were quite good. There were 3 or 4 different types of mushrooms. They were my favorite part of the dish.

The miso seabass was broiled and served with a black truffle sauce. The menu said that it would be topped with "string fried potato" but it wasn't. The fish was on top of a teeny tiny mound of mashed potatoes with some green beans, snow peas and cauliflower. J and V both liked their seabass very much. V said that it was really buttery and almost melted in her mouth.

Everyone seemed to enjoy their sushi, but nobody thought it was anything special. Everyone seemed to agree that the sushi was just average. Not great, but not bad. V said that the sushi at Koki's is much better. Everyone also thought that the Philly roll was a little overpriced at $9.00. The prices on the California Roll ($5.50) and Spicy Tuna Roll ($6.00) were much more reasonable. I'll probably go back here for sushi since it's close to my house and just make sure not to order any of the overpriced rolls.

Overall this restaurant was pretty good. I think it needs a little work though if it wants to get away with charging the high prices that it does. If a restaurant wants to charge high prices, they need to make their food taste really good in addition to presenting it nicely.

Ayame on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Aloha Grill - Costa Mesa


1749 Newport Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627

949-722-7882

www.alohagrill.com


Tucked away in a tiny strip mall in Costa Mesa, near The Golden Truffle, lies the brand new Aloha Grill. This is the second location for Aloha Grill, the first being in Huntington Beach. I decided to dine at the Aloha Grill a couple of weeks ago as a party of seven. It was one of those nights that was really cold. We walked up to the Aloha Grill and saw that most of the seating was outdoors. There were only about 5 tables inside, and the only one that could accommodate a party of 7 was taken. We thought briefly about sitting outside near the large fire pit, but finally decided to occupy two separate tables, indoors.

We sat down and were given our menus. The waitress told us that they had only been open for three weeks. She asked if we had any questions about the menu. I saw Loco Moco on the menu and asked if it was a popular dish there. The waitress asked me where I saw Loco Moco. I pointed it out on the menu and she said that she had never even heard of it before, so she had no idea. A couple of the rest of us had questions as well, but it seemed as if we knew more about the menu that the waitress did after looking at them for only a few minutes. We decided to make our own decisions without any help from the waitress.

I decided to start off with an appetizer. I ordered the Hawaiian Drums ($7.95) for all of us to share. I then ordered the Kahlua Pork Sliders Special($6.95) that I saw on the specials board outside, another item the waitress had no clue about. V ordered the Pipeline Fish Tacos ($9.95). J ordered the Molokai Teriyaki Chicken ($10.95) and S ordered the Hilo Hawaiian Plate ($9.95). R decided to order the same Kahlua Pork Sliders that I did. C ordered the Kahlua Pork Hawaiian Plate. He had to point it out on the menu because the waitress didn't know what it was. Finally, D ordered the Big Island Plate ($10.95).

After a brief wait, the Hawaiian Drums came out. The menu described this dish as marinated chicken drummettes, slow roasted and tossed in a spicy cherry char-siu sauce, then topped with pineapple and green onions. The chicken wings were actually pretty darn tasty. They were slighty sweet, slightly spicy and had a slightly crispy texture. They were very well balanced. These were however, the smallest chicken wings I have seen in my entire life. Everyone was poking at them and wondering if they were actually quail or cornish game hen wings. Since they were so tiny, we actually got about 20 of them on the plate. I picked up a piece of what was supposed to be pineapple and put it on my mouth. I then couldn't decide if I was eating a raw potato or jicama. I told J and V to try a piece. Neither one of them could believe how little flavor it had. C tried one and had the same reaction. V thought that maybe they had taken pineapple, soaked it in water for days to extract all the flavor and then boiled it to get every last bit of flavor out before serving it. I wasn't buying it. I'm pretty sure they were serving us raw potatoes or something that were colored slightly yellow and shaped like pineapple chunks.

Our food came out a little while later. R and I had ordered the same thing, the Kahlua Pork Sliders. The food runner asked us which one of us had ordered the sliders with no onion. Neither one of us had. He just handed one plate to each of us and said he'd bring out a side of grilled onions. R and I both enjoyed our sliders very much. The kahlua pork was tossed in a slightly spicy barbecue sauce and was put on some soft rolls. The only bad part about them was that they had stuffed more of that awful fake pineapple inside. I picked it out and happily ate my sliders. The french fries were really good too. They were fresh, hot and crispy.

V got three tacos stuffed with Mahi Mahi, cabbage and spicy habanero-cilantro mayo. She didn't like her tacos at all. She said the fish was dry and fishy tasting. She felt the tacos were also completely bland.

J's meal was an 8 oz marinated and charbroiled chicken breast glazed with teriyaki sauce. It was served with vegetables and two scoops of sticky rice. J said that thie meal was a contender for the worst meal she has ever had in her entire life. She said that the chicken was dry and tasteless. She didn't know how it was possible, but even the rice was so bad she couldn't eat it. J usually loves vegetables but she said these were completely without flavor. She was wondering how it was possible for her vegetables to taste like absolutely nothing. They didn't even have a bad flavor, they just tasted like nothing at all. Her meal was also covered in more of that flavorless fake pineapple.

C didn't like his Kahlua Pork plate either. He said that the pork was very dry and had no flavor at all. This made me happy that I had the sauce on mine. He said the dish was just horrible.


S's Hilo Hawaiian Plate came with teriyaki chicken, bell pepper and onion. It was served with a scoop of rice and a scoop of mac salad. S also said that her food had no flavor but that she was ok with that. S tends to like really bland food so she said she felt the food was decent.

I don't remember what D said about her food, but I remember that she didn't like it either. Her meal came with teriyaki steak, onions, bell peppers, rice and mac salad. The theme of the night seemed to be that everything was flavorless.

In the end it seemed that most of us were very disappointed in our food. I enjoyed my sliders and wings, except for the fake pineapple though. I guess I was just lucky in my ordering. Most of the people I was with despised their food so much though that I doubt we will ever return.

Seriously......I want this restaurant to contact me and convince me that they were actually serving us pineapple and not some fake pineapple shaped thing. It had the texture of a raw apple or potato, not pineapple. It had no flavor. It looked like pineapple, but it totally wasn't. Has some company out there created mock pineapple that they make out of some flavorless, crispy substance? This is driving me crazy! What was I eating?!?!

Aloha Grill on Urbanspoon