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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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Veggie Grill - Irvine Spectrum Grand Opening

81 Fortune Drive
(Across from Dave & Busters)
Irvine, CA 92618

Alternate OC Location:
4213 Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 92612

The Veggie grill at the Irvine Spectrum is having their grand opening to the public today. I was lucky enough to attend a pre-grand opening event the other night. The Veggie Grill serves 100% plant based food. They don't like to use the word "vegan" though, because they think people associate that word with bland, tasteless food. This is definitely not the case with Veggie Grill though. This is a place where even us hardcore carnivores can go and be happy.

I attended the pre-grand opening with V. We looked over the menu and decided we would start our meal out with the Chill Out Wings ($6.25). V decided to get the Bayou Chicken Sandwich ($8.95) and I opted for the Carne Asada sandwich ($8.95) with avocado ($1.50 extra). The sandwiches and burgers here come with a side of red cabbage slaw. If you're not in to slaw though, you can substitute Chili (free), Steamin' Kale ($1.50), Spring Mix Salad ($1.95), or "Sweetheart" Sweet Potato Fries ($2.25). V decided she would get hers with the Sweetheart fries. I'm not a big fan of sweet potato fries. I wish Veggie Grill served plain fries. I decided to just get the chili as my side.

V and I took our number and found a nice table on the large outdoor patio. We sat down and began to enjoy our beverages. The Veggie Grill does not serve regular sodas or beverages. All of the beverages are all natural as well. You can choose from Iced Tea, Fresh Lemonade, Fresh Strawberry-Raspberry Cooler or Natural Root Beer. I decided to get the natural root beer. It was very good.

After a few minutes our food arrived. The Chill Out Wings were 100% meatless "chicken" strips. They looked just like chicken strips, and surprisingly enough they tasted just like chicken strips. The flavor and the texture was all there. If I didn't know this was vegetarian, you would have a hard time convincing me this wasn't chicken. The chicken strips were really good and came with two dipping sauces. I really liked the lighter of the two sauces. It was kind of like a spicy ranch dressing.

My carne asada sandwich was made with grilled veggie "steak", southwestern vegan mayo, red onion, lettuce, tomato and avocado. It looked just like a lot of carne asada tortas that I have eaten before in my life. I took a bite and was amazed that it tasted better than a lot of carne asada tortas I have eaten before. The carne asada really tasted like steak and it had a nice spicy kick to it. This sandwich was very good. I will definitely come back and get this sandwich. The chili tasted just like a vegetarian chili. It wasn't bad, it was just chili.

V's Bayou Chicken sandwich was made with a grilled veggie "chicken" patty that was blackened with cajun spices. It was served with lettuce, onion, tomato, avocado and spicy vegan mayo. V thought that it tasted just like chicken. She said it had a very strong smoky, grilled flavor. She really enjoyed her sweet potato fries. I have a feeling V is going to be eating at this restaurant a lot.

For dessert they brought us out some chocolate pudding to try. I didn't take a picture, but it looks just like chocolate pudding. You all know what that looks like, right? It was amazing how good this pudding was considering that it had no dairy in it at all. It was creamy and delicious.

I know I've said it many times throughout this article, but I'm going to state it again. All the food here is 100% plant based. No meat, no dairy, just plants. It all tastes just like it has real meat and dairy in it though. It also tastes really good! Vegetarians finally have a place that they can take their carnivore friends to that they won't complain about. The service here is also fantastic. Everyone was friendly and very helpful. I definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a good, casual meal.

The Veggie Grill (Fortune Drive) on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Auld Dubliner - Tustin

2497 Park Avenue
Tustin, CA 92782


Alternate OC Location:
(Known as The Auld Irisher)
1547 W. Katella #102
Orange, CA 92867


4 other locations in California, 4 more in other states

I went down to The Auld Dubliner (aka The Old Dubliner) in The District at Tustin Legacy last Saturday night. The Auld Dubliner is an Irish Pub and restaurant that I have heard some buzz about. I have heard that it can get pretty crowded. As I walked through the door at around 6:30 PM, I fully expected to find a packed restaurant and pub full of rowdy people. I even half hoped people would be standing around singing Irish drinking songs. Instead what I found was a mostly empty restaurant. (It might have also been extra empty due to all the fires this day.)

The sign inside the front door said "Seat Yourself." I looked around and tried to decide where to sit. An employee walked up and greeted me. I said "Hi...I'm supposed to seat myself right?" She says "No, I'll seat you. How many in your party?" I told her we had four people and she took us all the way to the back of the restaurant to a room that looked even more deserted than the front room. She sat us at a large booth with benches so far from the table that you almost had to sit on the very edge of your seat to reach the table. It was also very dark in this part of the restaurant, so I apologize for the extra crappy pictures.

I started looking at the appetizer section of the menu and decided that I wanted to order almost every appetizer that they offered. After talking it over with the waitress, I finally decided to order the Potato and Goat Cheese Crostinis ($7.95) and the Spicy Potatoes ($7.95) for the table to share.

I looked over the rest of the menu and realized I had a hard decision ahead of me. The menu has a wide selection of burgers, sandwiches, meats, soups, salads and "Traditional Irish Fayre" including an entire section of Irish Boxtys. After much consideration, I decided to go with the traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage ($12.95). R thought that sounded good and he ordered the same. J decided to mix it up a little bit and ordered the Corned Beef Boxty ($12.95). V ordered the Vegetarian Boxty ($10.95).

The appetizers came out after only a few minutes. The Potato and Goat Cheese Crostinis consisted of sliced, boiled potatoes and goat cheese on top of garlic crostini. It was then topped off with basil pesto and olive tapenade. Everyone seemed to think these were pretty good. V thought that they had too much olive tapenade on them, but enjoyed eating the crostini with some arugala that also came on the plate. I didn't think they had too much olive tapenade, but I really like olive tapenade.

The spicy potatoes were small new potatoes that were deep fried and tossed in the Auld Dubliner spicy wing sauce. They were topped with crumbled bleu cheese and served with ranch dressing. These potatoes were interesting and oddly good. The hot sauce tasted kind of like a hot wing sauce with a slight but distinctive hint of curry. The potatoes also tasted boiled to me. I was wondering if they actually were boiled or if they did indeed deep fry them. If the potatoes were fried, I think they should start boiling them because it would probably taste the same and be a lot healthier.

Our entrees arrived a few minutes after our appetizers. I guess the kitchen was operating really fast since there weren't that many people in the restaurant. I looked at my meal and it looked delicious. I was hoping for more corned beef, but I'm a pig when it comes to corned beef. Every St. Patrick's Day I usually cook up and eat an entire corned beef by myself. Maybe that's why I keep gaining weight.......anyway..... I also received a quarter head of cabbage, sliced boiled carrots and a few boiled potatoes on my plate. The cabbage and the corned beef were drizzled with a traditional Irish cream sauce. Everything on my plate was really good. The corned beef was cut into thin, lean strips. The veggies on the plate were all perfectly boiled. The cream sauce was so good that I asked for an extra side of it. R really liked it too so we each poured more of it on to our food. The sauce was like a creamy, buttery yummy sauce with a slight hint of horseradish. R and I both agreed that we would order this meal again.

J took a bite of her Corned Beef Boxty and said that it tasted fruity. The corned beef boxty comes with an apple onion relish and is topped with swiss cheese and horseradish mayo. A boxty is a traditional Irish potato pancake that is stuffed with various things. It's kind of like an Irish version of a crepe. J said that despite the fruity flavor, she still liked her boxty.

V's boxty came filled with zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli and carrots. The veggies were cooked in a white wine lemon sauce. V enjoyed her boxty and said that the sauce was really good.

Overall everyone really enjoyed their food. Our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable. If she ever didn't know an answer to a question, she made sure to go ask someone so she didn't give us incorrect information. I asked her why the restaurant was so empty. She told us that since their live band doesn't start until 10:00 pm, people tend to come in later. She said that once the music starts, the place gets really crowded. This means that if you're looking for a restaurant without a wait, The Auld Dubliner is a great place to go around 6:00-8:00 pm no matter what the day is. I'm looking forward to going back to try more of their food.

Auld Dubliner on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bagels & Brew - Lake Forest

21771 Lake Forest #100,
Lake Forest, CA
Phone: (949) 951-8985

Alternate Location:
23052-A Alicia Parkway,
Mission Viejo, CA
Phone: (949) 837-6977

Whenever the Mrs. and I feel like going out to a casual weekend brunch, but don't feel like spending a lot of money, we very often end up at Bagels and Brew. Bagels and Brew is located in a strip mall, in a location you can hardly see as you drive by. It's right across the parking lot from Heritage Hill Historical Park. If you're looking for someplace nice to walk after your breakfast, the historical park is the perfect place.

The name "Bagels and Brew" makes it sound like this place has only bagels and coffee (not beer like one of my friends thought) to offer. This is far from the truth though. In addition to their 20+ bagel varieties, Bagels and Brew offers sandwiches, bagel pizzas, omelets, soups, salads and more. They call themselves "Your Neighborhood Cafe," and that is exactly what it feels like. They even have a nice outdoor patio so that you can sit and enjoy your meal with your dog.

On our most recent visit, V decided to get the Baja Scramble ($6.55). I stared at the menu for a long time trying to find something different to order, but in the end I ended up ordering my favorite item here, the Mission Viejo bagel ($4.50). I also added a side of bacon (can't remember the price), because you can't have a good breakfast without it!

I took my number and sat down at a nice outdoor table. The only thing I'm not thrilled about at Bagels and Brew is that they serve Diedrich's coffee. While Diedrich's isn't horrible, I don't really care for it. I wish they would serve Starbucks coffee instead. After about 7 minutes our food arrived.

My Mission Viejo bagel came with my choice of bagel. I chose the Jalapeno Cheddar bagel. The bagel is toasted and topped with cream cheese, fresh tomato and avocado. It is then sprinkled with a generous portion of lemon pepper. This bagel is so good that after the first time I had it, I went to Costco and bought a huge container of lemon pepper so I could re-create it at home all the time. The bacon was crispy and delicious.

V's Baja Scramble had bacon, tomatoes, cilantro, onion, green chiles and pepperjack cheese. Her meal also came with her choice of any bagel with cream cheese. She also chose Jalapeno Cheddar for her bagel. V and I are both very big fans of Jalapeno Cheddar bagels. The Jalapeno Cheddar bagel that Bagels and Brew offers is pretty good, but not the best we've ever had. The problem with the bagel here is that it is basically a plain bagel topped with melted cheese and jalapenos. We both prefer to have jalapenos and cheese mixed into the dough of the bagel as well.

Bagels and Brew is the perfect place to go if you're looking for a quick and tasty breakfast or lunch. You can also stop by and pick up some bagels to take home or to the office. They offer discounted bagels after 3:00 PM and close at 6:00 PM everyday except Sunday when they close at 5:00 PM. They also have a variety of prepackaged cream cheeses and specialty coffees. If you're in the area, I highly recommend that you stop by.

Bagels & Brew on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cosi - Costa Mesa, Metro Pointe

901 South Coast Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Phone: 714-957-6191
Fax: 714-957-3384

More than 100 locations Nationwide

Cosi is a little sandwich cafe that reminds me of Panera. You order at the counter and then wait at a cozy table for your food. They also offer free wi-fi. In many ways though, I think Cosi is much better than Panera. I kind of wish there was a Cosi on every corner around me, instead of Panera.

Cosi is modeled after a small Parisian cafe. This is not to be confused with a small Persian cafe like someone I know thought. It's Parisian, as in Paris, France. The menu at Cosi consists of salads, soups, hot and cold sandwiches and flatbread pizzas. In the evening, they also serve hearth baked dinners like grilled salmon and chicken in alfredo sauce.

I went to the counter to place my order. I decided to get a dinner sized flatbread pizza ($9.99) that I could customize with my own toppings ($1.49 each). I asked the cashier if they had fresh garlic and cilantro available as toppings. She looked at me and said, " fresh?" I laughed and said that I just wanted garlic on my pizza that wasn't roasted or cooked in any way. She had no idea and yelled back to the cooks, "Do we have fresh garlic?!?" They responded with a quick "No." I asked if they had any kind of garlic. The answer again was no. "Ok, what about the cilantro?" She yelled back again, "Is our cilantro fresh?!?!?" The cook yelled back "Uhhh....yeah...." So in the end, I ended up ordering a pizza with pepperoni and fresh cilantro.

As a side note, if you have never tried this combination on a pizza, you are really missing out. Pepperoni and Cilantro pizza is probably one of the best kinds of pizza you can get. The only thing that would make it better is fresh garlic. If you haven't tried these toppings together on a pizza, stop reading this article, go out and find a pizza place that offers these toppings and go get it. You can come back and read this article later. But I digress....

T went up to the counter and ordered the Wasabi Roast Beef sandwich ($7.39) and a cup of Tortilla Soup, which was advertised as the soup of the day. The cashier told him that they didn't have Tortilla soup. She said that it was coming soon, but not yet available. He ended up getting a cup of the Tomato Soup ($2.19 with purchase of entree) instead.

V decided to get the T.B.M sandwich ($6.39) that had tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. The cashier asked if she wanted it grilled or cold. V decided on grilled (which makes the sandwich $6.59). The cashier then asked if she wanted chicken in the sandwich. V responded with, "No....No Chicken....No meat of any kind." "Ok" responded the cashier.

A fourth was dining with us, "I", but to be honest I forgot what she ordered. I also forgot to take a picture of her food, so shame on me....Sorry.

Cosi also has a unique dessert that we decided to try. They offer "do it yourself" S'mores. The menu says that you have your choice of graham crackers or giant Oreo cookies to make your S'mores with. An order for two people costs $7.79 and an order for four people costs $13.59. We all just wanted to try it, so we decided that all four of us would share the order for two. We tried to order our S'mores with the Oreo cookies, but the cashier looked confused and again yelled into the kitchen, "Do we have Oreos?" Of course, their response was "No."

They handed us our number and we sat down at a table. The atmosphere is really nice. The decor reminds me of Panera as well. It seems more like you're in a cozy coffee shop than a restaurant. We didn't have to wait long for our food at all. My pizza was the first to arrive.

I received a pretty large pizza that was rectangular in shape and 15 inches long. The pizza was made on the same flatbread that everything here seems to be made with. I took a bite of pizza and was pleasantly surprised. It was quite good! The sauce had a nice bold tomato flavor and the pizza overall had a nice fresh taste to it. The amount of pepperoni wasn't bad and I liked that they gave me plenty of fresh cilantro. I was only able to eat about half of this pizza since it was so big.

Next they brought V's sandwich. "Chicken TBM Sandwich?" they said. "" V replied. "I was very clear that I did not want any meat in my sandwich." They apologized and took the sandwich away. I'm wondering if we actually got charged for the chicken sandwich. I have no idea though because we were never provided with a receipt for our dinner, just a number.

They then brought T's sandwich and soup. All of the sandwiches here seem to be served on the same flatbread that is split in half. It kind of reminds me of having a sandwich in a pita pocket. T thought the soup was ok but was very disappointed in his sandwich. The menu was not really clear on whether the sandwich was hot or cold. T was expecting a hot roast beef sandwich, but it was ice cold. He also thought that the sandwich was really, really sweet. He couldn't stop talking about how sweet it was. He said he could barely force himself to eat the sandwich because it was so sweet.

A few minutes later they returned with V's correct sandwich. Her sandwich contained three slices of mozzarella, three slices of tomato and three leaves of basil. She thought the sandwich was just average. V thinks she would prefer to have a sandwich from Panera. I think they could have put a little more into the sandwich. Her sandwich seemed like it barely had any filling at all.

When we finished our dinner, we went up to the counter and told them we were ready for our S'mores. They brought us out a large round platter with a mini fire pit in the middle of it. On the platter was one Hershey bar, eight marshmallows and four graham crackers broken in half. It was pretty fun making s'mores at the dinner table over this tiny fire pit. V thought that since they charge almost $8.00 for this dessert, which is more than any of their sandwiches, that they should have given us more marshmallows. V is a marshmallow addict though.

I really like the environment at Cosi. It is exactly as the name implies, cozy. I think that this is a great place to go get a casual inexpensive dinner. I will definitely get the pizza when I return. I will also probably order the S'mores again because it was really fun. I just hope that they have the giant Oreo cookies next time.

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