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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paul Martin's American Grill, Happy Hour - Irvine


Paul Martin's American Bistro - Irvine
31 Fortune Drive, Suite 302
Irvine, CA

949-453-1144
www.paulmartinsamericanbistro.com

As many of you have heard, Paul Martin's American Grill has opened at the Irvine Spectrum. Paul Martin's in the latest restaurant from Paul Fleming, the creator of both the P.F. Changs and Fleming's chains. Paul Martin's focuses on the "super trendy right now" idea of using organic, local, sustainable food.

I was invited down to sample the happy hour menu at Paul Martin's with a bunch of other foodies. The happy hour menu is available 7 days a week, from 3PM-7PM Monday-Friday 4-7 PM and Sat-Sun 3-6 PM. The happy hour menu consists of two categories of food and drink specials, one for $4 each and one for $8 each.

I decided to sample the lemon drop ($4 happy hour). The drink was well made and very visually appealing. Other $4 happy hour cocktails include a raspberry martini, a cosmo and a mojito. V really liked the raspberry martini.

The first appetizer that was brought out is called "Smoked Chicken & Wings" ($4 happy hour/$8 regular price). The dish included both bite-size pieces of chicken and bone-in chicken wings. The chicken was smoked and then fried until the skin was perfectly crispy. This chicken was amazing. The smokiness of the meat paired with the perfect crunchy exterior made for a perfect munchable appetizer. I can totally see myself eating 2 or 3 plates of this during a happy hour trip to the restaurant. The chicken was also served with some sort of chipotle aioli dipping sauce that was very good as well.

Next came the "street tacos" ($4 happy hour/unavailable on regular menu). The tacos were made with homemade corn tortillas topped with braised and shredded shortrib meat. They also put a squirt of the chipotle aioli on them. This tied with the chicken wings for my favorite dish of the night. The beef was tender and bursting with flavor. The tacos came with diced julienned radishes and a wedge of lemon dipped in coarse salt. These two things really added a "pow" factor to the tacos.

Next up were the chicken skewers and the steak skewers ($4 chicken/$8 steak happy hour). I was pretty disappointed in both of these dishes. The meat was bland, boring and generic. I don't think I'd order either of these. No one else seemed to be a big fan of these dishes either.


This is a picture of the smoked salmon lettuce cups that came out next ($4.00 happy hour). I don't like smoked salmon, so I didn't try them. Other people said they were pretty good though. The smoked salmon was creamed and topped with slices of apple.

The BBQ rib plate ($8 happy hour) came with four meaty ribs and was served with a carolina style slaw. The ribs were very tender and tasty. The sauce had a strong vinegary kick but was also delicious. I wish the sauce had been a little spicier, but I did love the tang.

Our final savory item for the night was the Fried Chicken with Fries ($8 happy hour). This dish was very disappointing. Not only was it a tiny portion for the price, but the chicken was burnt and flavorless. I would much rather have two plates of the chicken wings instead of one order of this chicken.

To top off the evening we were served housemade shortbread cookies. I'm told that the cookies are usually served with their housemade ice cream. the cookies were tender, flaky and full of buttery goodness. I could eat a few plates of these.

Overall I was very pleased with the selection and prices for Paul Martin's happy hour. This is definitely a place to keep in mind if you are in the area between 3-7 PM. I can't wait to return to Paul Martin's to try their full dinner menu.
Paul Martin's American Bistro on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lucca Cafe Brunch - Irvine


Lucca Cafe, Irvine
6507 Quail Hill Parkway
Irvine, CA 92603

(949)725-1773

www.luccacafe.net


One of the things I really enjoy in life is going to a nice brunch on Sunday. I try to go almost every Sunday. This past Sunday I decided to try the brunch at Lucca Cafe in the Quail Hill area of Irvine. Brunch at Lucca is served on both Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 AM - 2:00 PM.

I dined at Lucca with a party of five. We decided to start our meal with a couple of their "famous" Cinnamon Rolls ($2.50 each). The cinnamon rolls are made with sweet danish dough and are filled with their sugar cinnamon "shmear." The cinnamon rolls were very good. They were warm, buttery, flaky and filled with lots of gooey cinnamon goodness. Two cinnamon rolls was plenty for the five of us to share.

For our entrees, I decided to order Lucca's "Sunday Sauce" ($13.95). T ordered the Eggs In Purgatory ($9.95), IG ordered the Italian Porchetta sandwich ($12.95) and V and R decided to share the Pain Perdu ($8.95) and a French style rolled omelet ($11.95).


(side salad served with meal)

Lucca's Sunday sauce is a menu item that is only available during lunch and brunch. It is not on the menu during dinner. Even though it is called "Sunday Sauce," it is available seven days a week. The name comes from Chef Cathy Pavlos' grandmother who used to make this sauce every Sunday. The sauce is similar to a bolognese sauce and it is served with a meatball and a couple slices of Italian sausage. The sauce is usually served over penne pasta, but I requested that mine be made with whole wheat pasta. This pasta sauce is definitely one of the best pasta sauces I have ever had. It was bursting with tomato flavor and had a great tangy kick. I started getting full when I was halfway through the bowl, but I couldn't stop eating until every bit was gone. I will be returning to Lucca to get this dish many times. I was also happy to hear that the sauce is available for sale by the quart for $13.95. I think I may buy a quart later and just eat it with a spoon.

T enjoyed his Eggs in Purgatory. The dish was comprised of two eggs that were simmered in a slightly spicy tomato sauce. The eggs were served over breakfast potatoes and topped with cheese and avocado. He wasn't raving about this dish, but he thought it was pretty good.

IG's Italian Porchetta Sandwich was made on a toasted Telera roll. The sandwich contained lean pork loin, provolone cheese, arugula, caramelized onions and a sundried tomato aioli. IG declared this to be the best sandwich she had ever eaten in her entire life!


V and R both enjoyed their omelet and pain perdu very much. The fillings they picked for their omelet were goat cheese, avocado and ham. The pain perdu, aka french toast, was made with challah bread and was served with orange creme fraiche and maple syrup.

Overall, I was very impressed with the brunch at Lucca. I'm a little disappointed that the Sunday Sauce isn't on the dinner menu. I guess this just means that I'll be coming here mostly for brunch or lunch. I also wish they had some sort of champagne/mimosa/bloody mary special during brunch. This is definitely near the top of my list of favorite Sunday brunch spots now.
Lucca Cafe & Market on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Carl's Jr Made From Scratch Biscuits



As many of you have probably heard, most Carl's Jr restaurants are now serving fresh Made From Scratch Biscuits during business hours. There is a specially trained person in each restaurant that actually makes the biscuits from scratch all morning long. I recently went down to my local Irvine Carl's Jr. to try them out.

Upon entering the restaurant and reading their menu board, I decided to order two sausage biscuits (2 for $1.00 with coupon/99 cents each without coupon), two sausage, egg and cheese biscuits (on sale 2 for $2) two orders of biscuit and gravy ($1.19) and an order of strawberry biscuits (2 for $1.59).

I could see a person in the back furiously mixing up biscuit dough, rolling it out, cutting out biscuits and throwing them in the oven. Even though she was working quickly, she was unable to keep up with demand. By the time I received my order it was about 22 minutes later. There were many annoyed people both inside the restaurant and in the drive-thru. So I guess that a fast food restaurant that is making the food fresh, turns out to be not so "fast" anymore.



The biscuits were actually very good. They were warm, flaky and buttery. You can tell that they were freshly made. The breakfast sandwiches were filled with average fast-food quality eggs and sausage. The biscuit and gravy was very good. The biscuit was served with plenty of salty, creamy gravy that was flavored with pepper and sausage. The strawberry biscuits were tasty, but not amazing.

Overall, it's nice to see a fast-food restaurant making an effort to make higher quality food, but I'm not too sure that it is worth the much longer wait. I was surprised however to see that the biscuits had a lot less fat and calories than I thought. They're still by no means health food though...

Made From Scratch Biscuit - 250 calories, 13 grams of fat
Biscuit and Gravy - 410 calories, 23 grams of fat
Sausage Biscuit - 410 calories, 37 grams of fat

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Pinkberry Opening in Brea - Free Yogurt and Free $5 Gift Cards


There is a new Pinkberry opening in Brea on Thursday November 17th. Visit this location between 5 PM-9 PM to receive one small yogurt with toppings. To celebrate the opening, Pinkberry is also offering readers of Griffin Eats OC a chance to win one of two $5 Pinkberry gift cards. Just leave a comment on this post to enter. Two people will be chosen at random to win.

SWIRLY GOODNESS ARRIVES IN BREA
Pinkberry to Open Newest Orange County Location on November 17

LOS ANGELES (November, 2011) – Pinkberry, the number one tart frozen yogurt brand, will open its new Brea location on November 18, 2011. The new store will be located at The Brea Plaza Shopping Center (1623 E. Imperial Highway), making it easy for Brea and surrounding Orange County residents to try Pinkberry’s one-of-a-kind taste. A special grand opening event open to the public will take place on Thursday, November 17 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. where guests will be treated to a free small Pinkberry with toppings (limit one per guest).

Pinkberry is premium frozen yogurt made with real nonfat yogurt and nonfat milk that is rBST hormone- free. Pinkberry is made with only the highest quality ingredients and is the perfect balance of tangy and sweet, resulting in a refreshing, clean and craveable taste.

Ron Graves, Pinkberry CEO, says, “As a brand born in Southern California, we are excited to open a store in Brea as we continue growing Pinkberry in the region.”

The new Brea location will serve six distinctive Pinkberry flavors: the signature Original flavor, a sweet and tangy yogurt with a refreshing finish; Pomegranate, a bold and tangy flavor made with 100 percent California-grown pure pomegranate juice; a rich, indulgent Chocolate; Pumpkin, a layered flavor with pumpkin and spice undertones; Peanut Butter, a unique flavor that blends salty with sweet; and a Featured Flavor that rotates seasonally.

Customers can personalize every yogurt experience at Pinkberry with any combination of delicious toppings. At Pinkberry, uncompromising quality is paramount and the toppings bar is no exception. Each topping is selected with the highest quality standards, whether it’s Grade-A fresh fruit that is hand-cut daily in-store, organic gummy bears with no high fructose corn-syrup, all natural honey almond granola, 100 percent pure Pomegranate juice, or rich, premium Belgian chocolate shavings. Toppings are thoughtfully selected as a unique and delicious complement to the various Pinkberry frozen yogurt flavors.

In addition to frozen yogurt and toppings for immediate consumption, Pinkberry also offers Pinkberry Take Home, 25 ounces of Pinkberry, swirled-to-order and packed on ice to ensure your Swirly Goodness will get home safely to your freezer. Pinkberry also offers Fruit Parfaits, Smoothies, and Fresh Fruit Bowls as fresh and satisfying choices for any time of day.

The newest Pinkberry Brea location will be open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Local fans who want up-to-the minute news and discount offers should sign up to be a Pinkberry Groupie at www.pinkberry.com/groupie

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seabirds Truck

(Photo courtesy of seabirdstruck.com)

Seabirds Truck
http://www.seabirdstruck.com
www.twitter.com/SeabirdsTruck
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Seabirds-Truck/88618734995


The Seabirds Truck was always one of those trucks that I saw at the Food Truck Meetups but never tried. I would wander over and look at their menu and think, "It sounds good, but I need meat!" As most of you know, the Seabirds Truck serves vegan food. That is, no meat and no animal products at all. Sounds like rabbit food, right? WRONG!

After watching Seabirds on Season 2 of The Great Food Truck Race, I decided two things. One, I like the girls from Seabirds WAY MORE than I liked the cocky guys from The Lime Truck, and two, I had to try their food. I finally made it down to the Wednesday lunch Food Truck Meetup in the Irvine Teller lot and made my way over to the Seabirds truck. On this particular day, they were serving two different kinds of tacos, jackfruit and fried avocado ($7 for two). I decided to order one of each. They also had a dirty rice with spicy kale and chickpea "sausage" on their menu. The full order was $8, but they were able to do a half order for $4.

(Avocado taco on the left, Jackfruit taco on the right)

The jackfruit taco was made with jackfruit that was cooked "Al Pastor" style. For those of you that don't know, jackfruit is a large tropical fruit that when cooked before it is fully ripe, has the same texture of meat and a very mild flavor so you can season it to taste very similar to meat. This taco was topped with a pineapple salsa. The taco was fantastic. The jackfruit had the same texture as shredded pork and the sweet pineapple salsa complemented the spices in the "al pastor." I thought to myself, "How can they top this taco?" Then I took a bite of the fried avocado taco and was immediately transported to heaven. The avocado taco had a large slice of beer battered avocado that was deep fried until it was crispy on the outside and warm and creamy in the middle. It was topped with a creamy jalapeno-cilantro sauce and a red cabbage slaw. This might be the best taco I have ver had. All of the flavors in the taco harmonized one another and I couldn't get enough. Sadly, I only ordered one. I will most definitely be going back to get more and more of these.

I moved on the dirty rice with spicy kale. Wow! The dirty rice had a really spicy kick! I love spicy food and I was surprised at how spicy this dish was. A lot of my friends and family that don't do well with spicy would not be able to eat this dish though. I loved it. The rice had a great creole flavor and the spicy kale kicked in a lot of extra flavor.

After my dining experience at Seabirds, I am eager to go back and get more. I will for sure be ordering many fried avocado tacos. I will also be willing to try anything that they serve since I was so impressed with everything I tried. If this is what vegan food is like, maybe I don't need all that meat..... (Don't tell the carnivore in me that I said that...)

Seabirds Mobile Truck on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Priority Registration at MasterChef Auditions for readers of Griffin Eats OC

Think you have what it takes to be the next MasterChef? The producers of the show just emailed me and let me know that readers of my blog can get special priority registration at the audition on Saturday October 29th in Los Angeles. If you go down and audition, make sure to say you're a reader of Griffin Eats OC to get access to the special priority line!





FOX SERVES UP A THIRD SEASON
OPEN CASTING CALLS STARTING SATURDAY, OCT. 29 IN LOS ANGELES

Casting Calls Continue in Boston, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Austin,
Savannah, Chicago, Seattle, New York and San Francisco

FOX has ordered a third season of the hit culinary competition series MASTERCHEF, it was announced today by Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company.

Chef Gordon Ramsay will once again give talented amateur cooks the chance to prove to him, and to fellow judges, restaurateur Joe Bastianich (Del Posto, Eataly) and Chef Graham Elliot (Graham Elliot, Grahamwich), that they have what it takes to make their mark on the culinary world. In the series, Ramsay, Bastianich and Elliot coach and critique the amateur cooks in a series of challenges designed to test their palates, knowledge and determination to follow their dreams of making a mark in the culinary world.

MASTERCHEF will travel to more cities than ever before to uncover the country's very best amateur cooks. Open casting calls begin Saturday, Oct. 29 in the following city:

City
Los Angeles

Dates
Saturday, Oct. 29

Venues/Times
Le Cordon Bleu
6370 Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Winery - Tustin


The Winery Restaurant and Wine Bar
The District at Tustin Legacy
2647 Park Avenue
Tustin, California 92782
(714) 258-7600
http://www.thewineryrestaurant.net/

I recently visited the winery for dinner on a Wednesday evening, to celebrate an anniversary with V. This was my first visit to this restaurant. I was excited because I had always heard such good things about the restaurant.

We arrived for our reservation at 5:30 PM (Early, I know. It's what you have to do when you have a kid...) We were seated right away in a nice corner booth. We looked over the menu and saw a lot of items that sounded really yummy.

We decided to start our meal off with a bottle of wine and the cheese platter. The platter was $18 for five cheeses or $12 for three. We decided to get the platter of five cheeses. When the cheese platter arrived, the waiter pointed out the cheeses on the platter. I was a bit underwhelmed. The five cheeses were goat cheese, brie cheese, bleu cheese, manchego cheese and humboldt fog. The pieces were also teeny-tiny. Now I don't mind paying $18 for five pieces of teeny-tiny cheese, but if I'm going to do so, I expect something a little more interesting. These five cheeses seem like something you can grab at any corner grocery store for a few dollars. I have gotten much better cheese platters for far less at much more casual restaurants.

I decided to order the Duck Confit salad ($13.95) as an appetizer. The warm duck confit was served on a bed of baby spinach with anjou pears, thinly sliced red beets and candied walnuts (even though I told the waiter I was allergic to walnuts). I picked out the walnuts and tried the salad. It wasn't bad. The salad seemed to be a little overly-dressed with the cabernet vinaigrette dressing so it was very tangy. The duck was a little bland as well. The salad wasn't horrible, but I don't think I would order it again.

For my entree I decided to order the Braised Shortribs ($26.95) that I have heard many good things about. Again, the dish wasn't "bad" but I wasn't really impressed with it. The shortribs were a little dry and weren't full of flavor like you'd expect from a braised shortrib. You're much better off getting the shortribs from Roy's. The shortribs were served on a bed of corn infused cous cous with prosciutto wrapped asparagus. The cous cous didn't really taste like anything.

V ordered the Shrimp and Scallops for her meal ($29.95). She was served two scallops and three shrimp on top of a bed of risotto. She said that one of the scallops was over-cooked, extremely salty and really fishy tasting. The other scallop though was cooked almost perfectly. All three of the shrimp seemed to be overcooked and rubbery. She ate one shrimp, I tried a bite of another and we just left the remainder on the plate. The risotto seemed uninspired and the flavor of it just didn't seem to work for her.

For dessert we decided to end with the Chocolate Decadence ($11.95). The chocolate decadence was a small chocolate creme brulee, a chocolate ganache filled ice cream cone and a brownie. The creme brulee was about a 1/4-inch deep and pretty generic. I expected the ice cream cone with ganache to be nice and crunchy, but it was actually very soggy and the ganache inside seemed more like chocolate pudding. The brownie was just a brownie.

Overall, none of the food was really that "bad." None of it was especially good or memorable either. The service at the restaurant was pretty good, if not a little slow. We ended up spending about 3 hours at the restaurant. The food was also presented nicely. There wasn't anything necessarily wrong with the food, I just expected so much more from what is considered a "fine-dining" restaurant. The food here just seemed to be more of the quality of a casual dining restaurant and did not seem to be worth the high prices. I ended up spending about $150 on dinner for two here with a bottle of wine ($45), excluding tip. The dessert was also comped because it was our anniversary. If you're going to spend this much money on dinner, there are many places in Orange County where you can have a much better dining experience. Perhaps I just caught the restaurant on an off night....but shouldn't a restaurant of this caliber not have an "off night?"

The Winery on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rollie's Mexican and Bolivian Cafe and Bakery -Tustin


Rollie's Mexican and Bolivian Cafe and Bakery
14071 Newport Avenue
Tustin, CA 92780-5172
(714) 669-8300
http://rollies.weebly.com/


I really wanted to like this place. I really, really did. The woman behind the counter was so nice and friendly. We chatted about the food she made and the ingredients and love that she put into it. She proudly told me that she hand makes all the corn tortillas for their large tacos. She said that they order the finest chorizo from a specialty company up in Los Angeles. She spoke about her food with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eye. Therefore, I really, really wanted to like this place....but.....well......I just didn't.

I ordered two of their large tacos with the fresh homemade tortillas ($2.50 each). I ordered one with carne asada and one with chorizo. I asked if the chorizo was served with egg or potato and she told me that it came with potato. I tried to order it without potato, but she told me that it was a very small amount of potato and it really enhanced the flavor of the chorizo. I agreed to try it with the potato. I also ordered three of their small "street tacos" ($1.00 each). I got two of them with carne asada and one with lengua (beef tongue). I ordered V a carne asada burrito ($5.99). I also decided to try one of their Salteña empanadas ($2.50) because I had heard good things about them.

While I was waiting for the food to be prepared, I walked over and browsed through the bakery cases that were full of Mexicam sweet bread. I asked if the breads were baked fresh that day and she told me that they had. I chose an elotito ($0.65), which is a cinnamon-flavored sweet bread that is shaped like a small ear of corn.

I got my food to go and took it home. When I arrived at home I eagerly unwrapped all the food. I couldn't wait to try all this delicious food that the nice lady behind the counter was bragging about.

First I decided to try the Salteña Empanada. I sliced it in half and V and I each took a piece. The filling consisted of ground beef, egg and peas. The filling was sweet...a little too sweet for me and V. Neither one of us really enjoyed the flavor of the empanada, so we didn't eat it.


I unwrapped my large tacos and immediately saw that the "chorizo" taco was really just a cubed potato taco with chorizo grease. I was very annoyed by this. The woman behind the counter had sworn that there was only a small amount of potato in the taco. All I saw was potato. I took a couple bites of this overly-greasy potato taco and then threw the rest away. A taco has to be pretty bad for me to throw it away. I then tried the carne asada taco. One thing I found interesting about the tacos here was that instead of being served with the traditional toppings of fresh cilantro and onion, they were topped with cilantro, grilled onions and grilled bell peppers. I was not a fan of this. The salsa was also tomato based and seemed like something you would eat with chips at a cheap Americanized Mexican restaurant. I didn't like the carne asada taco either, but I forced it down.

The street tacos were small, but probably worth the dollar I paid for them. The carne asada and the lengua tasted pretty much the same. It was basically just meat, covered in salt and cooked on a flat-top grill. I ate the lengua taco and then took the meat from the carne asada tacos, seasoned it up and threw it into a flour tortilla with some cheese and made a quesadilla. I ate it with some Del Taco hot sauce and it was the best part of my meal.

V said that her burrito was basically just a bean burrito. She couldn't really find any carne asada in her burrito. When she finally came across a piece, she ate it and said that it just tasted like salt.

V moved on to the elotito pan dulce that I bought for her. Keep in mind that the lady working at Rollie's said that the bread was baked fresh that day. This pan dulce was SO stale that it was as hard as a rock. V tried to bite through it a couple of times but was unable to get her teeth through it. Needless to say, she threw it away.

Overall, this restaurant might be ok if you are looking to grab some quick $1 street tacos and you don't really care what they taste like. You are much better off going to Alberto's or The Original Taco Factory which are 1-block away in either direction. I might return to this place one day to try their Bolivian food, but I will not be returning for more Mexican food.

Rollie's Bakery & Mexican Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 18, 2011

OC BBQ Bonanza Starts Today!



The OC BBQ Bonanza, a 4-day festival, starts today in Fountain Valley. General Admission tickets are $5 each or you can purchase a $100 pass that gets you VIP seating and all-you-can-consume food and alcohol. Kids 12 and under are free, but they are not allowed in the $100 VIP area.

Visit our sister site DiningOutInOC.com for more details.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

New Weekend Brunch at Royal Hawaiian - Laguna Beach


Royal Hawaiian Laguna Beach
331 North Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, California 92651
(949) 494-8001
http://www.royalhawaiianlaguna.net


I was fortunate enough to try the new weekend brunch at Royal Hawaiian in Laguna Beach. One of the best things about the new brunch is that it is served on both Saturday and Sunday. No more waiting until Sunday to have brunch! The brunch, called Kakahiaka, is served from 11:00 AM-4:00 PM and features a variety of island inspired breakfast and lunch fare.

We started our meal off with a couple of appetizers. We got the Hawaiian Coconut Shrimp ($13) and the Ahi Tuna Poke ($15). The coconut shrimp was nice and crunchy with plenty of coconut flavor. It wasn't as sweet as some other coconut shrimp that I have had, which I consider to be a good thing. It was very nicely balanced. The Ahi Tuna Poke was very good. The chef has won some awards for this poke. The poke was made with huge fresh chunks of raw ahi tuna, marinated with chile, lime, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and chopped macadamia nuts and served with wonton chips. I prefer a little more of a spicy kick, but it was still very good and fresh tasting.


For my entree I ordered Loco Moco ($13) and a side of Maui Onion Rings ($7). Loco Moco is a popular Hawaiian breakfast dish that consists of a hamburger patty on top of a mound of rice that is covered with a couple of over easy eggs and brown gravy. The elements of this dish are pretty standard wherever you go, but the dish rarely tastes the same from restaurant to restaurant. One of the most, if not the most, important factors for determining a good loco moco is the gravy. The gravy at the Royal Hawaiian had a little bit of a spicy kick to it but was a little light. I prefer a slightly darker, richer and bolder gravy. I still enjoyed the gravy here, I just wished it was a little bolder.

The Maui Onion rings were battered and fried perfectly. The crunchy exterior gave way to perfectly cooked, slightly sweet oniony goodness. These onion rings were probably my favorite part of the meal. The onion rings were served with a slightly spicy sriracha aioli. The portion was rather large as well.

V ordered the Coconut French Toast ($13) as her entree. It was served with portugese sausage and fruit salad. The portugese sausage was oven-baked which resulted in a nice even crust around each piece of sausage. V really enjoyed her meal. Her only complaint was that the french toast was a little dry. She still thought it was very good though. She thought that the fruit salad that came on top was perfectly balanced and had just the right flavor to complement the french toast. She also said that the Portugese sausage was very yummy.

After our meal we were offered a sample sized bread pudding. The bread pudding was made with hawaiian sweet bread. It was dense, but not overly so. It had a nice balanced flavor. V said that it was the second best bread pudding she has ever had.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Royal Hawaiian for anyone looking for a Hawaiian style brunch. The prices are reasonable for what you get and the food is pretty tasty. The only thing that would make this brunch better would be if it came with all-you-can-drink champagne. The interior of the restaurant is also a little dim and drabby. This seems to be ok for dinner time, but during brunch it seemed a little depressing. A little extra light and some upbeat Hawaiian music could help a lot in improving the atmosphere.

Thanks go out to Jennifer at Ajenda PR for inviting me to the launch of The Royal Hawaiian's weekend brunch!
Royal Hawaiian on Urbanspoon