Wednesday, October 5, 2016

City Cafe

Owned by the same person that owns Lucky Boy, we had to try City Cafe even though its a completely different restaurant. More upscale, seemingly nice dining. They have a HUGE long bar the runs the length of the restaurant and a decent outside back patio protected by small trees to help you forget that you're basically sitting in the parking lot.

The one thing that this place has going for it - good priced pitchers of beer. A pitcher of Stella Artois is $16.50!

Those prices are not reflected in the food though. Although tasty so far, everything is about $2 more than it should be. That doesn't seem like much, but it will keep some people from coming here regularly.

At the table they give you house chips - yum. house made lightly seasoned kettle style chips. Delicious and begging for a dip (they have a carmelized onion and a blue cheese dip. We've tried the onion - good but portion is pretty small. Probably okay if you're not sharing.

This time I ordered the grilled chicken sandwich with wedge fries. It was good. Easy to eat, the ciabatta wasn't hard so it didn't tear up my mouth and the pesto sauce on it was yummy. 

But service was an issue. When our server took our order we got a pitcher of stella, two mugs, and a black iced tea. Out come the beers, but no tea for me. I had to remind him after the food arrived. When the food was delivered the girl asked if i wanted some ranch or ketchup with my fries, I said both and she said good choice. I never got either. I ate my dinner and a few fries, which i probably would have been fine with if she didn't offer or suggest a dipping sauce. 

These little things need to get tighted up.  If you're gonna charge top dollar, you better give me top service.

Congregation Ale House - Azusa Chapter

In all of our time in Altadena, we never went to the Congregation in Pasadena. It just never seemed like a place I would want to go.

 A little further east there are less choices to we finally made our way to Congregation Azusa chapter.

The first time we stopped by we didn't stay. It was actually just like what we thought it would be. LOUD and CROWDED. It was a tuesday night, and I wasn't feeling all that great, so we left and tried a small chinese place that is now one of our favorites Tasty BBQ Kitchen . That place deserves its own post!

I went to the Congregation websites a few times afterward and we decided to try again for a happy hour. Drinks are still on the pricier end, and they don't have any beers we like, and the ones that are on the border of being okay might be removed from the menu -- they're taking away lagers.  Sorry folks. I just hate the hops.

But I digress. The food there is actually really good.

duck and bacon sausage. Meaty and delicious. Joe's staple order here now and possibly the best sausage he's ever had.

Carnitas Pizza - good, but needs something...some kind of dipping sauce - it was actually really good dipped in the garlic rosemary mayo i got to accompany my onion strings

Onion Strings with Garlic Rosemary Mayo and Sweet Chili Sour Cream - these were good, but i wouldn't order them again. Too difficult to eat. Too difficult to dip.  Tater tots and chips still win the side battle here.

Chips with Sweet Chili Sour Cream and Pesto Ranch dips.  There's just something about crispy chips and sweet chili sour cream

Braised short rip sandwich - it was good. Nice flavor and horseradish sauce, but I would be mad if i paid full price for it. Its definitely too small.

One mark down - the service has been REALLY SLOW!!! At times I think there was one person both running food and taking orders at the counter.  We were going to order another beer, but there was no staff on the floor and the line at the counter was atleast 3 deep, of which we had to wait in line anyway to close out.  Hopefully management will adjust schedules or hire more staff.

We'll be coming here for happy hours to eat, but you won't be seeing me here on Tuesday nights (trivia night) or anytime its crowded and loud.

PS - they also have a really good jukebox that is not priced all crazy.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Cocineros Express

On our quest to find all the delicious food around, we also wanted to eat something that wasn't going to be too expensive so we tried out Cocineros Express.  This little mexican joint in on Foothill, just West of San Gabriel Avenue in Azusa.  

Located in a small parking lot next to a donut shop, dominos, and liquor store, its not much to look at from the outside. Inside there are only about 4 tables, and a menu that isn't exactly easy to understand.

There is really only the pictoral menu, not telling what comes with anything or what meats they have. And I have a feeling there is more on the menu than what is shown in the pictures.  On their yelp page is, what looks to be, a takeout menu that is much more understandable, but that was nowhere to be found in the restaurant.

i got 3 tacos al pastor. They grill their corn tortillas with oil, so its extra delicious, but extra oily.  They come with cilantro, onions, and either red or green sauce. At $1.40 each, they were really good.

Joe got 3 carnitas tacos and rice plate which was $6.99.

The ups - they have a "salsa bar" which includes a few salsas, pico de gallo, pickled vegetables, jalapenos, etc. The downs - small eating area so people waiting in line basically have their butts in your face, small parking lot, and their drink machine wasn't working so it was bottled soda or go to the liquor store if you had something specific in mind.

But for the prices, it was all pretty decent and Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday they have taco nights - $.99 tacos from -7-10pm (certain meats only chicken, carnitas, al pastor, carne)

I think next time i'll try a burrito, or torta, or sopes, or gordita. I guess i'll be coming back more than once in the future.

Cocineros Express
200 W Foothill Blvd 
Azusa, CA 91702

pretty potatoes

pagoda was eyeing my potato pre-bake ---man, does that dog love carbs and butter!!

joe went out with a friend tonight, so i decided to make myself a pretty potato. Super simple and pretty and i wasn't starving so it all worked out.

-1 potato
-clove garlic
-1 T melted butter (or enough to your liking)
-1T olive oil

Basically I mandolined a russet potato the long way, arranged them standing in a floral spiral in the oven proof single serving ramekin, poured over a little melted butter and olive oil. Mandolined a piece of garlic and placed the slices in between the layers of potato, covered loosely with foil and baked for 50 minutes at 400°

In the end, this is what emerged. Crispy on the top, baked buttery garlicy goodness underneath. 

I ate mine with some sour cream and some flap steak. Okay - so it was probably not worth all the trouble, but it was fun and delicious. Different than a hasselback for sure. I think a smaller serving would look awesome on a plate.