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Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Capri-Updated Review

The Capri
4604 Eagle Rock Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041

The Capri was featured on the TV show Kitchen Nightmares.  A friend who watched that show wanted to to give The Capri a try.  I didn't search for the episode on You Tube until after I went and tried Capri.  The story goes twin brothers loved eating at The Capri, which opened in 1963, that they bough the restaurant about 20 years ago.  About six years ago, they were struggling and turned to Kitchen Nightmares for help.  They must be doing something right, because they are still in business six years after their episode aired.

The Capri has a lot of competition in Eagle Rock, the 800lb gorilla- Casa Bianca, the now closed Brownstone, and the made famous by Ellen, Big Mama and Papa's are all within two miles of The Capri and that's just in Eagle Rock.  A nice, narrow restaurant with wood accents, and concrete floor, but it was a bit dirty.  This place needed a good cleaning, from the condiment containers to the tablecloth  to the chairs and benches.

Tomato and basil spaghetti $9. The sauce was fine, good flavor, fresh ingredients, but the pasta was undercooked!  A few more minutes in the boiling water would have done wonders.  Not an outstanding dish, even if the pasta was cooked perfectly, but not bad and a good price.

Service is friendly but slow! You walk in and don't know if it is counter service or table service.  We walked to the counter and one of the twins told us to sit anywhere, even he saw us walking in!  Later during dinner, a couple walked in and he told them to sit anywhere!  Not a major deal, but come on, be consistent!  After we got seated it must have been five minutes before he came to our table and there were only four other people in the restaurant. The food came out quickly, but refills were slow.  The twins were really friendly and would talk about the restaurant.  But one of the twins was sitting down at a computer and surfing the net.  The other was always talking to customers, which is nice, but other customers need attention too.  He talked to us for about five minutes.  He thought it was slow because of the Thanksgiving weekend.  But, when we drove by Casa Bianca, there were ten people waiting outside!  There were about ten people in The Capri, including my friend and I, the entire time we were there!! 

After eating at The Capri, I found their episode of Kitchen Nightmares on You Tube.  In the show the twins are portrayed as lazy, that's true evidenced by the dirty, dingy restaurant, even after the show, and lacked cooking skills.  I can't compare how the food tasted before the episode, but the food was ok, except for the undercooked pasta, which happens but really shouldn't at an Italian restaurant.

Update November 16, 2016

Large cheese pizza.

I went back to Capri to try their happy hour pizza.  Menu price is $8 and while there is nothing on the menu that says the happy hour price is for dine in only, you can only get the price if you dine in!

This pizza was one of the most disgusting pizza I have ever had.  Give me pizza from a national chain anytime over this garbage!  This pizza is basically flat bread crust, some nasty tasting sauce and a good amount of cheese.  This pizza was bland, no flavor and just disgusting!

Service was lazy but friendly.  One of the twins was there and most of the time he was sitting at his table and surfing the net!  This guy is so damn lazy that after giving me the bill, he just stood there about 2 feet from my table and waited until I paid.  He couldn't walk back to his computer, about 5 feet away and come back!

While I say I would never go back to a restaurant because the food was mediocre or bad, I am willing to give them another try.  Usually I regret it and that holds true for Capri.  No way I'm going back to this terrible restaurant again!  

Monday, November 23, 2015

Louie’s Chicken & Fish Grill

Louie’s Chicken & Fish Grill
960 N Mountain Ave
Upland, CA 91786

Every week I read David Allen's Restaurant of the Week, while I don't always put those restaurants on my bucket list, I do keep them in mind.  Louie’s Chicken & Fish Grill, was one of those restaurants.  David reviewed Louie's back in 2009.  I drove past Louie's last year and said I should give them a try.  Almost a year later, I am finally able to check them off my bucketlist. 

The restaurant business is a brutal business; lots of competition, small margins, lots of hard for very little return on investment.  Some restaurants open up and within six months are gone, never to return. Well, Louie's is still in business today.  So that has to be a good sign right? 

The dining area has a TV that had the Monday Night Football game on.  They also had ceiling fans that were on and with the shadows from the lighting, it makes on kinda of dizzy.  There is a large patio area for nice outdoor dining. 

It's counter service, order at the counter and they bring the food out to you.

Mahi mahi, Cajun spice, with brown rice and broccoli and carrots, $12.99.  The mahi mahi was cooked perfectly!!  Moist, tender, and flaky.  It was also perfectly seasoned!  The portion size could have been a bit bigger, but otherwise a good item to order.  The broccoli and carrots had no seasoning at all, not even salt.  A simple pinch of salt would make this a much better side.  They were cooked perfectly!  The brown rice had been sitting under heat lamps for too long.  Some grains were hard and others were perfectly cooked.  If they improved the sides, this would be a very good dish.

Service was good.  Nice and friendly, and my order came out quickly!

Some minor improvements to the sides and maybe a bigger portion would make Louie's Chicken and Fish Grill a good place for a nice meal.  I'll give them another chance, but I won't rush back.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pompeii Pizza Parlor-Closed

Pompeii Pizza Parlor
1425 Valinda Ave
Valinda, CA 91744

Pompeii Pizza Parlor is located in a very unique shopping center.  Pompeii is located in the back of the shopping center, but there is a huge strip of stores right in front of them.  Not sure how that worked, but the building in front is a newer development.  I'm sure when Pompeii first opened, where the building is now, was their parking lot!

From what I understand the original owners of Pompeii closed a few years back.  Then somebody who worked at Pompeii was reopened the restaurant using the same recipes as before.

Pompeii has two entrances; one for dining in and the other for take out.  The take out has the counter and kitchen, and a couple tables to wait for your pizza.  The dining area is huge, with lots of seating.  Nothing much in terms of decor, but the restaurant is clean, which is more important!

Medium mushrooms and jalapeno pizza, $11.50.  The crust was a thicker than I'm used to, but held up well to the toppings.  Lots of cheese on this pizza-which I really like.  Toppings were fresh and good.  The jalapenos were especially spicy.  A very good pizza.

Service-the people are very friendly and nice.  But, the pizza just took too damn long, about 30 minutes!!  The place wasn't that crowded and there weren't many delivery or to go orders.  Not sure why it took so long?  Pompeii's saving grace was that the people were very friendly.

The pizza is good, the people who work there are friendly, but they need to work on getting the pizza out in a more timely manner!  Next time I'll call in my order.

Blazing Stone Pizza

Blazing Stone Pizza
3501 Monterey Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90032

I found out about Blazing Stone Pizza while reading The Eastsider Blog.  They opened back in September with a very interesting story about how Blazing Stone Pizza acquired the building, which used to be a bar!  Now people who live in El Sereno and Montecito Heights, do not have to go to Highland Park or Alhambra for good pizza!

Located on a corner lot, Blazing Stone Pizza has a huge patio area and a small indoor dining area with about eight tables.  At the counter there are pizzas sold by the slice.  They also serve salads, sandwiches, and calzones, along with bottled sodas.

You can choose between three different crusts-hearty-thick robust-fluffy inside and crisp inside; house-basically a medium crust, or LA thin-light, thin, crispy, and three different sauces- red gravy, rustic, and blazing.

Small Mean Greens, with LA thin crust and rustic sauce, $12, Bell Peppers, Red Onions, Olives, Artichokes, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Zucchini and Mushrooms.  We asked for no olives and artichokes, and my half came with no zucchini.

I should have read the description better, because I was expecting a New York style thin crust.  This was a cracker like crust-not my favorite, but the crust did hold up to the large amount of toppings very well.  The sauce was flavorful, not one ingredient overpowered the sauce-which I like.  The toppings were fresh and tasty.  I thought cucumbers would be weird on a pizza, but this was pretty damn good!! 

I kept thinking this was be a very good pizza if I ordered the different crust.  So, afterwards I ordered and mushroom pizza with the house crust and blazing sauce.  It was great!!  If we had ordered the house crust, the Mean Greens pizza would have been great!!

Service is very good.  Nice pleasant people who try to please their customers. 

I like Blazing Stone Pizza a lot.  I hope the neighborhood supports their new pizza restaurant instead of going elsewhere or feeding the chains!  I will be back soon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Yama Sushi

Yama Sushi
1350 E Flamingo Rd Ste 18
Las Vegas, NV 89119

So I'm in Las Vegas and I drive around and notice an Indian restaurant in a shopping center.  So, I go in and right before pulling into a parking space, I decide to drive around and see what other restaurants are there.  I see a Sushi sign and tons of people waiting outside, so I decide to get sushi instead.

Yama Sushi is a fairly small restaurant in a regular shopping center that you would see in any other city.  It is an all you can eat sushi restaurant with a small dining room and a sushi bar with about 10 seats.

The all you can eat sushi option is $23.95.  I originally didn't plan to get the AYCE option, but ordering two rolls and a couple nigiri sushi and those alone would come out to more than $23.95.  So, I got the AYCE option.

Now the sushi was good, not the freshest or most flavorful.  But, I also know this is AYCE and don't expect the freshest.  And to be clear, the sushi was fresh, just not right out of the ocean fresh.  I liked all the rolls I ordered.  Interesting combinations and flavors. 

Nigiri sushi- Halibut, tuna, and shrimp sushi

Shrimp tempura roll

Ultimate tuna roll-spicy tuna roll with tuna and avocado on top

Tiger roll-shrimp tempura roll with spicy tuna and avocado on top.

Soft shell crab roll-soft shell crab, crab meat, cucumber, avocado, and carrots.

Service by the sushi chef was great!  He was Latino, which was very interesting.  He was very fast and always looked around to see if you needed anything. Service by the servers were a bit slow, refills on water were slow to come by and plates tended to stack up.

Overall I liked Yama Sushi and if I were in Vegas again, I would go back!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Veggie House

Veggie House
5115 Spring Mountain Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89146

Who knew Las Vegas had a Chinatown!!  On Spring Mountain Rd. is a stretch of mostly Chinese, though assorted Japanese and Vietnamese restaurants are sprinkled in, is Las Vegas' own Chinatown.

Veggie House is location in a three story with a ton of other Asian restaurants.  When you enter, there is a sign that asks customers not to bring in any meats into the restaurant!  The restaurant is a medium sized restaurant with plenty of seating and a fake patio covered area.  Interesting choice of decor.

House chow mein noodles with veggie, $9.99.  This comes with veggie beef, veggie chicken, and veggie shrimp with red and green peppers, and onions. I was surprised because I wasn't expecting the veggie meats.  But, there were very tasty, matter of fact they taste lie the real thing.  If you didn't know you couldn't tell the difference taste wise.  But, while the veggie beef and veggie chicken look like the real thing, the veggie shrimp was clearly different than the real thing.  I should have taken a picture, but the veggie shrimp was hidden inside.  The noodles were perfectly cooked with the right amount of seasoning; not too salty but flavorful.  It was a bit greasy, but otherwise a good dish.

Service was good and quick.  I asked for an order to go and the order came in a timely manner.

I was very impressed with Veggie House and would go back anytime!

Crab Corner

Crab Corner
4161 S Eastern Ave
Las Vegas, NV 89119

Crab Corner has been on my list of places to try since 2011.  But, I rarely go to Las Vegas, so over the weekend while I was in Vegas, I made sure to make a stop at Crab Corner. Crab Corner is a Maryland seafood place.  The owner is from Maryland and when Maryland Crabs are in season, they are served hot and steamed everyday.  This is the original location, business is so good, they opened another restaurant on the west part of town!

Crab Corner is located in a strip mall, that litters every city, big and small.  It's a medium sized restaurant with mostly four-top seating.  There is Baltimore Ravens, Maryland Terrapins, and seafood decorations on the wall.  

Crab cake platter with one crab cake with two sides, side salad and hush puppies; $16.99.  The crab cake is almost all jumbo lump crab!!  There are no fillers.  Well seasoned, fried golden brown, just an awesome crab cake!!  The side salad was the standard veggies-letuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, all fresh and chilled.  The hugh puppies were nicely fried, well seasoned, but had been sitting under heat lamps a little too long.

Service is very good.  Nice and friendly people.  But, their ordering system can be confusing.  I saw the counter and went up and ordered.  So, naturally I figured it was counter service.  But, later during dinner I saw people just come in and sit down, and they got served that way too.

Crab Corner is great!  I will go back when Maryland crabs are in season- about May-September.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Real Food Daily

Real Food Daily
899 E Del Mar Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91106

What a change for this location!  This used to be a Bob's Big Bob that I reviewed back in 2010.  I was told that Bob's didn't make it into 2011.  Real Food Daily then opened up and has been serving up vegan fare to Pasadena.

At night was you walk to the restaurant, it is very dark and unwelcoming. But, once inside, a tastefully decorated room with lots of seating and a counter for diners. 

THANKSGIVING TEASER Our famous faux turkey, corn-sage stuffing, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, roasted vegetables, cranberry sauce $18.

There was some very good items in this entree and there were some real bad items.  First, the good stuff.  Roasted garlic mashed potatoes- very creamy, smooth and full of flavor the mushroom gravy is awesome.  Stuffing-again good flavor, maybe a little too much sage, but overall a good dish.

The bad- faux turkey- dry, lacked texture and flavor.  Not a good dish.  Roasted vegetables were bitter, burnt, and not good at all.

Overall the dish wasn't worth the price.

Service was below average.  While the server was nice, she wasn't around that often.  Right after my friend and I got seated, I went to use the restroom.  During that time no server came to our table and took a drink order.  We waited at least another five minutes after I came back from the restaurant for a server to come by.  The place wasn't busy and there is no reason for that delay.

I wouldn't go back to Real Food Daily again.  High prices, poor food and poor service do not make a good combination!

Green Street Restaurant

Green Street Restaurant
146 Shoppers Ln
Pasadena, CA 91101

Behind Lemonade is Green Street Restaurant, a long time Pasadena restaurant that was actually on Green Street, but later moved to it's current location.  Which is the ground level of a parking structure! 

A large restaurant that is next to The Counter, it has both indoor seating and patio seating.  The two restaurants are so close together and sort of blend in that I saw two groups of people enter Green Street thinking it was The Counter.  Green Street was very busy on a Sunday night. 

Ahi Tuna Burger – Ahi tuna filet, charbroiled medium rare, with Wasabi ginger aioli and Asian slaw.  $16.50.  The ahi tuna was cooked perfectly, nice and moist with lots of flavor.  Portion size was good.  The Wasabi ginger aioli was a pleasant surprise, not as spicy as I thought it would be.  Or maybe the Asian slaw helped reduced the heat?  The but was toasted and held up very well.  A good dish, maybe a bit overpriced.  I got fresh fruit and it was fine.

Service is good.  Nice and friendly.

I did enjoy Green Street, but I think the prices are a bit high.  The quality of the food is good.  Debatable if I would go back!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Knuckle & Claw-Closed

Knuckle & Claw
3112 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Having tried the lobster roll at Lobster Grill, I searched for another place to get lobster rolls.  I found Knuckle & Claw and decided to head down there.  A little west on Sunset Blvd. of Silver Lake Ramen, is Knuckle & Claw, a small restaurant, that serves up Maine lobster, which they get shipped from Maine everyday.

There is no indoor seating but plenty of outdoor seating.  Tastefully decorated in a nautical theme, Knuckle & Claw is a great addition to the dining scene in Silver Lake.

Full Lobster Roll, $18. A 6" roll with 1/4lb of lobster!  Unlike the lobster roll at Lobster Grill, this was all meat, not fillers.  Very tasty, not much mayo, just good lobster meat.  The bun was nice and firm, holding the lobster very well.  A damn good example of lobster roll!  Well worth the price, because you're getting real lobster!

There is a blue crab roll on the menu, but the blue crab is from the Gulf of Mexico, which means it isn't nearly as good as Maryland blue crab!  There is no debating this point!

Clam chowder, $9. A good hearty example of clam chowder.  But, a bit thinner than other chowders I've had.  But, lot of clams and potatoes cut into very small pieces.

Service was good.  It was very slow when I was there, only one other customer.  Maybe Silver Lake hasn't found out about this treasure?

Knuckle & Claw is an example of paying for quality.  Yes, the lobster roll at Lobster Grill is cheaper, but you don't get Maine lobster or the amount of lobster as Knuckle & Claw.  I would go back as long as the quality stays the same!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Bright Star Vegan Thai

Bright Star Vegan Thai
9819 Foothill Blvd Ste F
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730

I had high hopes for Bright Star Vegan Thai after trying Bulan Thai and My Vegan Gold.  Bright Star is in the same shopping center as Supreme Plate, a very good restaurant for New Orleans style food.  A fairly big restaurant with booth seating along the right side of the restaurant, along the window and table seating at the left of the restaurant.  Pretty bare in terms of decor, except for the buffet table that has been turned into a Buddhist alter.

Thai fried rice, $8.99.  Brown rice, peas, carrots, onions, and tomatoes with soy chicken.  I didn't see any or taste tomatoes in the fried rice.  The soy chicken was sliced into thin pieces and they were pretty bland and flavorless.  The brown rice was cooked perfectly, the veggies were good.  But, this was too sweet for me.  They added too much sugar and it was also very greasy.  Not impressed.

Chow mein, $8.99 with tofu, yellow noodles, celery, carrots and cabbage.  A pretty bland version of chow mein.  The noodles and veggies were cooked perfectly.  But, there was only a small amount of tofu and it was bland!!  This needed more seasoning or flavor!

Service is pretty average.  Not the most friendly or welcoming interaction, they are just doing their job.

After trying Bulan and My Vegan Gold, I was disappointed in the quality of Bright Star!

Clifton's Cafeteria

Clifton's Cafeteria
648 South Broadway

I reviewed Clifton's Cafeteria back in 2007.  It was simple comfort food at good prices.  It wasn't gourmet, far from it, but it was a good value.  Later Clifton's started to use canned foods and the quality went down.  So, the Clinton family sold the restaurant to Andrew Meieran, who has renovated other buildings in downtown Los Angeles and turned them into nightclubs like The Edison.  Meieran planned a major renovation starting in 2011.

The orginal plan was to keep the restaurant open during the first phrase of renovations, but when you're renovating a building that first opened in 1935, there are many surprises.  So he soon closed down the restaurant and went full steam ahead for the renovation.  While renovations continued you never heard a word from the new owner.  It was always the standard response, the restaurant is going through renovations.  With the explosion of social media, not a good way to do business.

Finally in October 2015, they opened.  Long lines on the weekend, up to 2 hours, during the first two weeks of reopening awaited long time customers.  The best thing the new owner did was tear down the ugly aluminum facade that ruined the original front of the building. 

I went on a very warm Sunday, and the wait to get inside was about 15-20 minutes.  Once inside you get a tray and then the cluster of food stations are in front of you.  The first station is salad, followed by the "grill" breakfast items, a burger and fries station, then the pizza station.  Right after the grill section is the sandwich sectin, followed by the dessert section.  Behind you is the carvery- sliced roast beef, ham and turkey along with mac and cheese and stuffing is served at this station.  Then you go pay.  Then you find a table on any of the three levels of the restaurant that are currently open. 

Mac and cheese, $4.95.  This was disgusting!  First it was cold, not because it took a long time to pay and find a table, that actually went pretty quickly.  It was also very dry, very little cheese and it was bland as hell.  A rip off at that price!

Tuna salad, $2.50.  This was good, well seasoned, not drowned in mayo, but the portion size was very small and the value is debatable.

Jello, 35 cents.  It's blueberry jello with rapsberry inside.  It was fine.

Brownie bites, $3.  Pretty damn good and the best value of the items I ordered.  Flavorful, moist, and not too sweet.

Service is good overall.  But, the busboys are very slow to clear tables and offer refills.

Clifton's was not worth the long wait!  The food is overpriced, lacks flavor and portions are small.  The food line would move faster if they boards actually listed what items were being served.  For example, the signs above the grill section didn't list fries.  I only saw the fries because a person at the table next to me had ordered a burger and fries.  I skipped the burger section because I didn't want a burger.  Also, prices aren't listed for some items.  There was no price listed for the stuffing which was next to the $6 list price for the mac and cheese.  Why they charged me $4.95, I'm not sure.

To be fair, there is somebody at the front of the carvery telling people both sides serve the samething, but there as you walk out, people in the grill section can enter the carvery.  They need to either put an exit only sign or have somebody there to direct people!

As for seating some tables, especially near the second floor bar area are too small for dining.  The busboys need to come by more often to take the trays, which take up too much room on the small tables!  There were trays on the floor and chairs!  The third floor has seating for larger parties.

The basement, which will become a bar, and the fourth and fifth floors-will eventually become a steakhouse and another bar, are still being renovated.

The interior is filled with glass displays of wild animals that seem real.  Not sure how well this goes over with animal rights activists!!

I won't go back to Clifton's for the food.  I did like how they restored the building, but the food just plain sucks!

Update January 21, 2016

Two friends wanted to go and try Clifton's.  So, being the great guy I am, I said we'll go.  This time we went for dinner on a weeknight.   There was a much smaller crowd than before.  But, same confusing food sections.  My friend made a great point, even though she had never been to Clifton's, they do not serve any hot vegetables!  The old Clifton's had a wide variety of hot veggies.  So, they were from a can, but at least you had a choice. 

One change for the better is that they put the mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, and stuffing in a chafing dish to keep them warm.  Before they were just on the counter!!

 Cheese pizza slice, $2.75.  Pretty good crust, but the sauce is way too tangy for my tastes.  They need to add some sweetness to the sauce.  Also, there was a wait for the slices because either there was a run on pizza slices-very unlikely, or the pizza chef was behind-I think that's the most likely reason.

 I had to try the mac and cheese again.  Same price, $4.95.  Same crappy no cheese sauce mac and cheese.  Terrible!  What a damn joke!

Small salad, $5, half romaine lettuce and half spinach.  They couldn't screw this up!  The lettuce and spinach were very fresh.  I got a citrus dressing that was pretty good.  Maybe a bit overpriced for what you get.

I'm not a fan of the new Clifton's and don't expect to return anytime soon!