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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lucca Cafe Brunch - Irvine

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


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.

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

Friday, November 11, 2011

Seabirds Truck

(Photo courtesy of

Seabirds Truck

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