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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Soul Burgers-Closed

Soul Burgers
1035 S Prairie Ave
Inglewood, CA 90301
(310) 419-7685

Soul Burgers is known for their soul food in a bun concept!! They have been on TV from Food Network to local tv shows and have quite the following. The other thing to know about Soul Burgers is that ground turkey is used for their burgers. They also have a pork chop, fish, and chicken burger. While they do offer beef, get the turkey burgers.

James Brown Soul Burger, $8.50.-Filet Fried Chicken Breast, turkey bacon, topped with greens and yams, egg, cheese, special spicy sauce. My favorite soul food dish is fried chicken, with mac and cheese. While Soul Burgers didn't have mac and cheese on this James Brown Soul Burger, I ordered it anyways.

The fried chicken filet was white meat, tender, flavorful and juicy. I loved it. But, the first thing you notice about this burger, is the yams. Now, I'm not a yams fan at all; just too sweet for my tastes. Everything else worked. I was a bit hesitant about the egg on top, I hate runny egg yolk, but I was told the eggs are more like a crepe. The greens were nice and tender and flavorful. The turkey bacon was a thick piece of bacon, perfectly cooked and full of flavor. I didn't taste any of the spicy sauce because the yams just overwhelmed the burger. There is a good amount of yams on this burger. I will order this with no yams, the next time I go to Soul Burgers.

Since this was my first time at Soul Burgers, I figured I should try the three mini soul burgers, $8.50, to get a variety.

Down-Home Turkey and Dressing-Turkey patty layered with turkey bacon, homemade dressing, egg, thin layer of greens and cranberry sauce, cheese, special spicy sauce. This is like a Thanksgiving dinner in a bun. The turkey patty was well cooked and seasoned, flavorful and juicy. The toppings worked well, and this comes from somebody who doesn't like cranberry sauce. A good burger to order.

Southern SMO-Turkey patty with smothered gravy and grilled onions, special spicy sauce and cheese. This was my favorite burger. Again the turkey was well seasoned and cooked. But the toppings just made this burger awesome!! The gravy was fantastic with a hearty flavor. The onions were grilled perfectly and added a nice sweetness to the burger.

Tasty Turkey Combo-Seasoned juicy turkey patty layered with turkey bacon, egg, greens, yams, special spicy sauce, cheese. The problem with this burger is the overwhelming amount of yams, which makes the burger too sweet. If I order this, it will have no yams. This can be a good burger without the yams.

Service is good. The owner is very friendly and helpful. She takes pride in her business and makes the customer feel at home.

I was very impressed with Soul Burgers and can't wait to go back there again!!

Randolph's Smoke House

Randolph's Smoke House
8472 S. Central Ave.
Los Angeles

I've been wanting good BBQ for awhile, and after the disaster ribs from Larkin's, I was craving good BBQ even more. So, I found Randolph's Smoke House online and decided to test my Bulletproof Glass Theory of BBQ. What is my Bulletproof Glass Theory of BBQ? It's simple, I've found that if there is bulletproof glass between me and the cashier, it's a very good chance the BBQ is going to be damn good. This is proven , Phillips BBQ and Woody's BBQ.

Of course, since I've never been to Randolph's, but when I walked in and saw the bulletproof glass, I had high hopes for some good BBQ.

I got the pork ribs dinner, $11.85, with double mac and cheese. I forgot to ask them to put the sauce on the side. Anyways, out came about 5 bones of spare ribs. They use hickory wood to smoke their meats. Either the rub or the sauce has a lot of chili powder because there was some spicy heat. The sauce was too sweet for my taste, too much molasses or honey or sugar.

As for the ribs themselves, there were too tender. They had no give to them. I know to some people they love "fall off the bone" meat, but that is actually downgraded during BBQ competitions. The ribs were ok, but a bit too much gristle and fat.

The mac and cheese was pretty good, macaroni was cooked perfectly, well seasoned but they could have use more cheese sauce.

Service is good. The people are nice people and friendly. But, they had the radio turned up so loud, you had to practically yell at the guy taking your order. The radio was right by the door and in that small front area, it's like being at a concert.

I'm glad I tried Randolph's Smoke House, but I won't be coming back.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


1496 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles

Larkin's has long been on my list of places to try. But they are closed Monday and Tuesday, which happen to be two days I'm near Eagle Rock. But, luckily I was near Eagle Rock on Sunday and dropped in.

Larkin's is known for their upscale soul food offerings. It's a small restaurant, so expect a wait when they are busy, but gives such a nice homey feeling. Parking is a bit tough, mostly street parking on Colrado Blvd or in the neighborhood behind Larkin's.

I didn't realize until I called, that Larkin's closes fairly early, 8pm on Sunday's with last orders going in at 7:30pm. So I got my order to go.

I really wanted the fried chicken, $15, but when I placed my order I was told it's dark meat only. So I passed and got the BBQ baby back ribs, $19 with two sides-red beans and rice and garlic mashed potatoes.

I got four baby back ribs that had no smoke flavor at all. I'm pretty sure the ribs were boiled before, then cooked in an oven. They were then drowned in BBQ sauce that had way too much vinegar. The ribs were meaty, but come on, don't pass off these ribs as BBQ, when they are nothing but oven cooked ribs with BBQ sauce.

But, $19 for 4 bones?? Give me a break. This didn't come close to being worth the price.

I picked red beans and rice as one of my two sides. The beans were undercooked, they needed to be cooked for another 10-15 minutes, they were hard and just bland and flavorless. The rice was ordinary.

Garlic mashed potatoes were my second side. I didn't get much garlic flavor and they were a bit too big and chunky for my liking. They needed to be cut up a bit more, to be mashed potatoes.

Mac and cheese, $5. The mac and cheese was the most bland mac and cheese I've ever had. They needed to add salt, because the entire dish was void of salt. The cheese and macaroni were blended well and the macaroni was cooked perfectly. But, it was just too bland to enjoy.

Service was both good and bad.

I was greeted by a lady at the cash register and she wasn't that friendly or welcoming. She was just a matter of fact, going through the motions. I told her I had a to go order and she said "I didn't take your order, but the other person will be right with you." Hmm is it so hard to figure out where my order maybe? Why couldn't she get my order and allow me to pay?

Anyways, the woman who took my order came back from waiting on tables and she was friendly and helpful, just as she was on the phone.

One other thing, if you noticed, there is no sign in front of Larkin's.

I was very disappointed in Larkin's. The food was below average, the prices way too high, and the portions small for the price. I really wanted to like Larkin's but I'm not going back.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Umami Burger- Costa Mesa

So the pretentious assholes of Orange County, most of who are too scared to go to LA, can now enjoy the famous Umami Burger without going to LA. The New Diner has already reviewed two other Umami locations, Umami Hollywood and Umami La Brea. Since I was going to be behind the Orange Curtain and surrounded by pretentious assholes, I figured why not see them at their best; trying to be hip and copying something from LA.

Umami Burger in Costa Mesa is located in a shopping center called The Camp. It's modeled after a camp site, with different sections for stores and restaurants. Parking just sucks at The Camp, because there are too many stores and not enough parking spaces. They have a valet, which charges a reasonable $3. If you can't find parking quickly, just pay the $3. A restaurant called Mesa has a very popular happy hour and a yoga studio both explain why the parking lots fills up.

Earth burger, $12, mushrooms and edamame patty, white soy aioli, truffle ricotta, cipollini onions, lettuce and slow roasted tomato. I know people may say you're at a burger place, you should get a burger made with beef or at least turkey. But, I wanted to see how their veggie burgers were. Big mistake. This burger was disgusting!! The patty was a soggy, flavorless mess. I couldn't taste any of the toppings. The only thing I could taste was the bun, which is always good-nice texture and flavor.

Service is good. But, I was surprised that the restaurant is so small. They really don't have room for a big group, so don't come here with ten of your friends expecting to get a table quickly.

I'll chalk this experience at Umami Burger to ordering the wrong burger. I would go back to Umami, but not the OC location, and I would not order the earth burger again. I'll stick to the beef or try the turkey or ahi tuna burger.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cafe Ravo-Closed

Cafe Ravo
2662 Griffith Park Blvd
Los Angeles

Good Friday! I thought about going for sushi, but then I passed by Cafe Ravo and decided to get some falafel instead! Cafe Ravo is located in Silver Lake, not that far from Tomato Pie Pizza Joint. Cafe Ravo used to be called Cafe Bravo but changed it's name recently to Cafe Ravo. Maybe the electrical on the B went out and they didn't want to fix it?

Cafe Ravo is a small counter service restaurant, with about six tables. Even near closing time, 9pm, about half the tables were still filled.

I got the falafel plate, $7.34, with a garden salad, tabouli salad, hummus, and pita bread. I really like the spice mix and texture of the falafel. It had bold flavors and a crispy outside. But they were small and there was only four pieces.

The regular salad, had all fresh ingredients-chopped romaine lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes with an olive oil dressing.

I'm really not a fan of tabouli salad but this tabouli was very good. Fresh parsley and barley or whatever kind of wheat they used was perfectly blended and seasoned.

Service was pretty good. The lady who took my order was nice enough, though she could have explained they were closing in about 20 minutes, instead of asking will this be to go? She wasn't rude about it, but there are better ways to say things.

While I did enjoy the food, I thought the prices were a bit high for the amount of food I got. Four small pieces of falafel and some salads for $7.34?? I would have been better off just order falafel al carte!! No need for me to come back to Cafe Ravo.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Corner Butcher Shop

Corner Butcher Shop
2359 Foothill Blvd
La Verne

I know, I know, a butcher shop for BBQ? Yes, Corner Butcher Shop in La Verne is a full service butcher shop, that serves BBQ. They also serve sandwiches and hot dogs. About 2-3 years ago I went to Corner Butcher Shop because they had specials on sandwiches, I believe it was 2 for 1. But, even though I went on the day the 2 for 1 special was offered, I was told they didn't have the special that day. So, I didn't bother going back.

But, I've been having cravings for BBQ, and since my first restaurant choice did have any ribs, I figured what the hell and came to Corner Butcher Shop.

I got the half rack of baby back ribs plate, with a chicken salad as my side, $9.99. Once the ribs were set in front of me, I knew the ribs weren't going to be good. They were finished on the grill, evident by the grill marks on the ribs. The ribs were very dry, chewy, and flavorless, even though they were baby backs. There was some smoke flavor. I think freshly cooked ribs would be pretty good, but these ribs had been sitting around for too long! The ribs were meaty and good quality, hell they are baby backs, but the long storage and finishing them on the grill, just ruined it for me.

The chicken salad was fantastic!! The chicken was smoked perfectly and they added some sweetness with raisins and coolness with just enough mayo to make it moist, but not drown the chicken. I would order this anytime.

Service is below average. The lady, who I believe is the owner's wife, didn't greet me or my friend, even though we walked right up to her. We were the only two customers in the store!! Anybody who runs a restaurant needs to understand, greeting customers is the first chance for your restaurant to make an impression on customers. I'm greeted everytime I go to WalMart, why can't I be greeted when I go into your restaurant. She wasn't friendly, just a matter of fact. She needs to brush up on her customer service skills.

I wouldn't go back to Corner Butcher Shop again. While the baby back ribs were a good price, the quality of the baby back ribs were well below average, just like their customer service. There are many other restaurants in the around that actually want my business, so I'll go there instead.

Abbots's Pizza Company-Closed

Abbots's Pizza Company
4410 Sepulveda Blvd
Culver City

Bagel crust pizza, that's what Abbots's Pizza Company is known for. The bagel crust sounded interesting enough and I put Abbot's on my list of pizza places to try. Abbot's has three location with the original being in Venice and they have been around since 1995. I was in Culver City, which I think is their newest location, and I dropped in.

I got a large New York pie with chicken sausage and portobello mushroom, $21.15. A large is $15.95 and each topping is $1.75.

The toppings themselves were very good. The chicken sausage was flavorful, had a good blend of spices and a good quality chicken. The portobello mushrooms were fresh and flavorful, with a very good earthy flavorful. But, as you maybe able to see, the toppings weren't distributed well. Some slices had a ton of mushrooms but little chicken sausage, while other had a lot of chicken sausage and very little mushrooms. I didn't order a half chicken sausage and half portobello mushrooms pizza, but a two topping pizza with chicken sausage and portobello mushrooms.

But, the crust wasn't good at all. Some parts of the crust was too thick and chewy while other parts became soggy and couldn't handle the toppings. If your claim to fame is a bagel crust pizza and I'm not impressed with it, I'm not coming back.

Service was friendly but too damn slow. I placed my order and the girl told it would be about 10 minutes. I figured no problem, I was expecting a wait. But, the pizza took about 30 minutes to bake!! WTF took so damn long?

While the toppings were very good, overall I wasn't impressed with Abbot's Pizza Company. If I'm on the Westside, which is rare since it's filled with a bunch of pretentious jerk people, I won't return to Abbots's Pizza Company!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fattoush Mediterranean Cuisine-Closed

Fattoush Mediterranean Cuisine
428 Auto Center Dr

About two months ago I read David Allen's review of Fattoush, and I quickly put them on my list of places to try.

Fattoush is located in what once used to be a car dealership, but has now turned into shopping center that is anchored by a very busy market called Super King. I'm not sure if Super King is a Mexican or Middle Eastern market, they carry everything from Mexican sweet bread to hummus and pita bread.

Chicken kebob entree, $12.59, rice, garlic sauce, and fattoush salad-romaine lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, parlsey, sumac, and pita chips croutons with lemon olive oil dressing.

I really liked the chicken kebob, all white meat, it was well seasoned with Middle Eastern spices and a hint of lemon juice. They were well cooked, moist and tender. I thought the portion size was a bit small for the prize, but otherwise a good chicken kebob. The rice was cooked perfectly!!

The salad was very fresh and tasty. I did enjoy the the lemon olive oil dressing.

Service is good and friendly, but the set up is confusing. You're not sure if it's table service or order at the counter and you find a table. When I walked in, the owner was behind the counter and taking orders and there were two servers also behind the counter, doing some prep work. I ordered at the counter because that's what people were doing. They need to hire a hostess or make sure the servers greet customers when they walk inside. That way there is no confusion.

While I enjoyed the food and the service, I didn't think Fattoush was a good deal. The prices are high for the amount of food you get and the quality of the food, while very good, didn't justify the high prices. I'm not opposed to going back, but I'm not going to rush back either.