Thursday, September 29, 2016

Not All Smoke and Mirrors at Creamistry


Creamistry
27692 Santa Margarita Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

I have to admit that I didn't see the big deal about liquid nitrogen ice cream. I had been to two of Creamistry's competitors, and left underwhelmed. That's probably why I was not expecting too much when we arrived here after a rather lackluster dinner nearby. When I walked back through their door, they had made me a convert.

Creamistry has expanded like my sweatpants after inhaling their fantastic ice cream. They have locations throughout California, including eight in OC, and even have spots in Arizona, Texas, and on the other side of the world in India. I'm not exactly sure of the science behind their ice cream, as I barely made it out of my 10th grade science class, but I know the result is delicious. Each frozen treat is made to order using liquid nitrogen.

The menu here can be a little intimidating with all of their choices. They have tried to make it easier for Creamistry virgins, like myself, by ordering in four easy steps. First you order the size that you would like. They offer singles, doubles, and shakes. Then you select your base, with choices like premium cream, organic cream, sorbet, or coconut based, which is non dairy, vegan, and an alternative for people who have sensitivity to lactose, eggs, or gluten. Now the hard part, picking a flavor, and with 30 different kinds, this could take awhile. Last step is adding any toppings or sauces you may desire. Then your order is made.




It actually is a pretty cool process with all of the smoke, and it takes only a few minutes and then your ice cream is ready. Let's see what got me all excited.




What you see above is the best Peanut Butter and Chocolate Shake ($7.50) I have had. It had a great chocolate flavor, with just the right amount of peanut butter, which got sucked up the straw in little pellets. This shake had the perfect ratio of chocolate to peanut butter, and I also enjoyed the thick chocolate sauce coating the cup and the whipped cream. So good, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about this shake since I had it a few weeks ago. Thankfully for my waistline, they are not too close to my house, so this will be a special treat when I'm back in this area.



Next up were the scoops that Katie and Stephanie got. To be honest, I was in such a euphoric state with my shake, I'm not even sure what Stephanie got, but I know that Katie selected the Single Scoop Nutella ($5.50) made with the coconut base and pecans added. She loved this non-dairy ice cream, which she claims is one of the best she has had. I tried it and thought it was good, but I'd definitely stick to ice cream that is actually made with dairy. She enjoyed the slight coconut tinge here, but wished that the Nutella would have been a little more prominent.

For not really expecting too much when walking in here, I was kind of blown away by Creamistry. With previous mediocre visits to their competitors, Sub Zero and Scoops and Scoops, I'd say they are leading the pack when it comes to liquid nitrogen ice cream in OC. I look forward to trying more of their flavors, including their cereal flavors, which get a lot of attention. The girl who took our order was very patient with us as we perused the overwhelming menu, and she did a great job of explaining everything to us. Glad I finally found my go to liquid nitrogen ice cream place. Now I have to just practice a little restraint.

Out of five airplane tires, (because nitrogen is also used to inflate airplane tires), five being best to zero being worst, Creamistry gets 3.5 airplane tires.

For your nearest Creamistry, check out their website here: https://creamistry.com/

Sunday, September 25, 2016

You're the Boss at Burger Boss


Burger Boss
27690-B Santa Margarita Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

I get pretty excited whenever a new burger place comes to town, even though it seems like this happens at least every month or so. Perfect for a burger lover, such as myself. There's a sort of anticipation as to whether the new joint can replace one of my burger spots on my personal, "Mount Hamburgermore." Trademark pending. Most of the time the answer is no of course, but I do always have that sense of anticipation that this new burger is going to be able to dethrone one of my top burgers. Oh you want to know who is currently on my Mount Hamburgermore? Read on then.

Back to the new burger place on the block, Burger Boss.  Burger Boss has burst on the scene all of a sudden, and are planning a very aggressive expansion from what I can gather. They have two restaurants open in the Inland Empire, and have five listed as either coming soon, or already up and running in OC.

Since every burger spot needs a gimmick, Burger Boss actually has two. They are a 100 percent completely customizable burger spot. There's no all ready made burger options here, you build yours from the bun up, adding sauces, toppings, and proteins. Their second twist is that they are featuring grass fed burgers, while all their meats are growth hormone and antibiotic free. They also do not offer real bacon, instead only having turkey bacon at each location. So this would be my first time partaking in this alternate bacon. I was interested to see how this would play out.

The ordering process at Burger Boss is a little different than most places. When you walk in the door, immediately to your right there's two ordering screens where you can build and order your own burger. These machines are not very user friendly. With so many options, each burger takes a long time to build, and the swiping and selecting features are not too easy to navigate through. Also, with only two of these machines in a such a tight area, this part of the restaurant tends to get a little bottle-necked. Seeing our struggles with this machine, our friends Chuck and Stephanie decided to order at the register up front, which also was not a speedy process with the small type on the menu boards, and the many choices of toppings.

After ordering, you give your name and the food is brought out to your table. I'd much rather be given a number, or get the food myself, than having someone carrying my meal and yelling my name in a restaurant. This 50 seat restaurant seems smaller than it actually is, because the layout is kind of off, and people appear to be on top of you while you're eating. There's an odd 4 seat high top bar facing the kitchen, which takes up too much room, and really restricts the flow of the space. Even though I was a little uncomfortable here, and there were some kinks, I was still pretty excited to see how Burger Boss was going to turn out for us.




Up first was Katie's dinner, the Chicken Sandwich ($8.67). She chose to add smoked Gouda, grilled mushrooms, baby spinach, grilled onions, and garlic herb mayo to her sandwich. She enjoyed this sandwich, but would skip the spinach next time, or at least take half of it off. The chicken was moist and the mushrooms were done nicely here. She would not hesitate to get another chicken sandwich at Burger Boss again.




Sorry I did not get real great shots of my Double Burger ($12.36), because I was so excited to try it. I piled on the toppings here; turkey bacon, fried egg, sharp cheddar cheese, grilled onions and jalapenos, along with chipotle mayo. To be honest, I expected a little more out of this burger than what I got. The meat here is very clean tasting, it's not greasy, and even though this was a double, I did not feel sluggish after finishing this. Good quality meat, but it still needed to be seasoned more. The toppings also fell flat as well. This was my first time having turkey bacon, and hopefully my last. It did not have the flavor of regular pork bacon, in fact I couldn't taste it at all. The chipotle mayo had no flavor, and the jalapenos were very weak. When I saw this burger placed in front of me, I thought it was going to be great, but it was just very average.


This was the same sentiment that Stephanie had about her Burger ($7.98). She said it was okay, but she was hoping that the combo of pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, grilled onions, and chipotle mayo was going to provide something in the way of heat, but all fell flat. She felt the meat here was pretty solid, but the toppings are where things went awry.


A simple Burger ($7.98), for a simple man. Our old friend Chuck concocted his burger with Gouda, lettuce, pickle, tomato, and garlic herb mayo. He thought his burger was good, but he did not think it was worth the price.





The fries at Burger Boss are customize-able as well. Both of us couples got the Boss Fries ($3.99) to complete our meals. Katie and I went with chopped jalapenos and onions, while adding their sharp cheddar sauce and thousand island to the top of the fries. Chuck and Steph had just the cheese sauce covering their fries, along with some ketchup and chipotle mayo on the side. We should have just had the fries plain. The cheese sauce was not too tasty, and just like on the burgers, the other sauces failed to impress. The fries were good enough on their own though. Good crunch to the outside, and soft inside, just like a great french fry should be. Next time I'd just get the regular fries, and forgo the boss version.

So, you can probably guess that the burgers here at Burger Boss did not make my Mount Hamburgermore. The burgers were not awful, but they did not pop with flavor, and either did the dull toppings or condiments. I don't really get the whole, "healthy burger" concept. People don't eat burgers to be healthy. When I want one, I'm fine with a greasy, great tasting burger with real bacon. This is kind of like vegetarians eating veggie ham and salami, which is another thing I have never really understood. If they don't like meat, why are they eating vegetables disguised and flavored as meat? Burger Boss should at least give people the option for real bacon, but sadly, I'm not sure that would have saved the boring burgers here. Sadly, these burgers could not live up to my current top four burgers who have taken up residence on my personal Mount Hamburgermore, which currently includes the burgers from The Counter, G Burger, Burger Parlor and Hopdoddy. Looking forward to seeing who'll be able to knock one of these guys off my mountain.

Out of five video games, (because the TV show Bob's Burgers has an episode called Burger Boss, and it centers around a video game), five being best to zero being worst, Burger Boss gets 2.5 video games.

For more information about Burger Boss, head to their website here: http://www.burgerboss.com/#

Burger Boss Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hoping Babe's Hits It Out of the Park


Babe's Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse
71800 Highway 111
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270

Driving down to the desert brings back some really happy memories for me. When I was in elementary school, my aunt had a condo in Rancho Mirage that we would visit at least once every month, except when I was in fourth grade, and wouldn't let my parents take me out of school, because I had a perfect attendance streak going. Yes, I still have the certificate to prove it.

Anyways, when we would come down here in the early 80's, there was not much in the way of restaurants in Rancho Mirage. There was, and still is Wally's Desert Turtle, but my parents weren't going to spring for that with two kids under the age of ten. So we had to head down Highway 111 into Palm Springs to eat at Las Casuelas, Louise's Pantry, Hamburger Hamlet, or any fast food restaurant they let us kids pick.

Fast forward to today, and this area is all built up. The most prominent shopping and entertainment area in Rancho Mirage is The River shopping complex. It offers many retail stores, along with a movie theater, and 13 places to get your grub on, including Fleming's, Yard House, Cheesecake Factory, and the place we were trying on this afternoon, Babe's Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse.

Babe's opened in 2002, and has been serving tourists and residents of the Coachella Valley ever since. They have won numerous awards for their beers, and won a lot of accolades and mentions from numerous magazines for their barbecue. Founded by restaurant icon, Don Callender, yes, the same man who started Marie Callender's, this was one of his last restaurant endeavors before his passing in 2009. If you look closely at the menu, you will notice a few slight nods to his beginnings at Marie Callender's, whether it's the Callender's Corn Bread, or the inclusion of a good variety of pies on their dessert menu. Katie's sister Emily, and her husband Jason grabbed a seat in the bar before we got here, so we quickly made our choices, and this is how the food came out for us.



Not the most photogenic starter we could have chosen, but this Parmesan Garlic Bread was a good start for the four of us. Good garlic flavor flowed throughout this slice of bread, and I liked that they provided ranch dressing without having to ask for it. Even though this was lacking the bright yellow color of the Lawry's Garlic Spread we had as kids, this still tasted exactly like it.



Since we had just finished a big family breakfast a few hours before, Emily and Jason decided to split these Pulled Pork BBQ Sliders ($14). These were pretty good sized, and filled with plenty of pulled pork, which was dressed with a sweet barbecue sauce. I'm definitely more partial to the meat coming out bare, so you can add the desired amount of sauce yourself, plus I sometimes feel restaurants try to hide their lackluster meat by drenching it with sauce. The pulled pork here was a little inconsistent. I had a few bites of this, which were flavorful and moist, but others were dry and rather bland. These big sliders came with two sides, and they picked the coleslaw and fries. The fries were pretty basic, run of the mill fries, but the coleslaw at Babe's contained a little twist. Don Callender reportedly had quite a sweet tooth, and it was his idea to add golden raisins to this coleslaw. I'm not really a big raisin guy, but this did kind of make this otherwise average slaw come to life.




Not usually something Katie and I do all too often, but we decided to share a meal between ourselves. Is the world coming to an end? Anyways, we had the one and only combo offered on the Babe's lunch menu, the Baby Back Ribs with Boneless Beef Short Ribs and a Hot Link Sausage ($21). The best of the bunch was the Hot Link. It really popped with a mildly spicy flavor, although it did have an odd texture to it. The short rib was predictably tender, and might be a little too fatty for some of you out there, but I didn't mind it. The ribs sadly were just average. Lots of meat on these, but the meat was a little tough in some places, while other parts of the rib were tender. The barbecue sauce was definitely on the sweeter side, and I was happy to see that they did not over sauce these ribs, even though I still would have rather of had them served sans sauce. We also got the pretty solid coleslaw here, but went with the baked beans for our other side. These were just okay as well, with an overly sweet sauce that kind of just sat there.

Babe's was decent barbecue, but nothing more than that. A quick Yelp search shows that this area does not really have a lot of choices when it comes to barbecue restaurants. There are four options in the Palm Springs area, including this, and no other spots in Rancho Mirage, so Babe's is really your only option around here. Again, the meat and sides we had here were fine, but nothing blew us away, and we'd probably try other restaurants when we were back in town. Service on this visit was a little spotty, as it sometimes is when you sit in the bar, and the bartender has to wait on you as well. With a full bar for early happy hour on this Sunday, he had a hard time keeping up. Maybe taking one of the servers from the nearly empty restaurant would have helped this guy out. I'm glad to see all the dining options that have sprung up since the early 80's, but I'm hoping for more barbecue spots in the future for this area.

Out of five desert bighorn sheep, (because that's the official animal for the city if Rancho Mirage), five being best to zero being worst, Babe's Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse gets 2.5 desert bighorn sheep

For more information about Babe's Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse, head to their website here: http://babesbbqandbrewhouse.com/home.php

Babe's B-B-Que Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, September 18, 2016

This Deli Is No Mirage


Sherman's Deli and Bakery
73-161 Country Club Dr. 
Palm Desert, CA 92262

Katie's family likes to do things together. They gather for every holiday, they see each other at least three times a week, and they even like to take vacations together. Foreign concept for some, including myself. Last year the ten of us went 26 miles across the sea to visit Catalina. and for this years family excursion/extravaganza we went the opposite direction, and headed to the heat of the desert, Palm Springs.

What to do when it's 107 degrees outside in August? Well if you're Katie and I, you show your advancing age by slathering yourself in 100 SPF sun block, and aided by a list of addresses of celebrity homes, you get some much needed space form the rest of the family. We saw the homes of Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Liberace, and Peter Lawford's former residence, a historical house because this is where it was reported that JFK first met Marilyn Monroe. Yes, now we really do seem old. All this running around in the desert sun really built up quite an appetite, so we met up with Katie's parents and sister at Sherman's Deli in Palm Desert.

I had done some research before we came out this way, weeded out all the restaurants that close for the summer, and was pretty impressed with the reviews of Sherman's, which was pretty near to where we were staying. Sherman's is definitely a Palm Springs institution. Founder Sherman Harris at one time had five restaurants in operation in the Coachella Valley, including running the concessions and Alpine Restaurant at the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway. His deli across the street from The Spa Hotel in Palm Springs was a magnet for old Hollywood stars, like Frank Sinatra, Rita Hayworth, Bob Hope and others.

Now there are only two locations of Sherman's Deli left, this one, and one in Downtown Palm Springs, right near the Hard Rock Hotel. Sadly, Mr. Harris passed away eight year ago, but his cuisine lives on, as his children now run the business. They must be doing their father proud, as we had about a twenty minute wait for lunch at 1:30 on a recent Saturday afternoon. The parking situation at this end of this awkward shopping plaza, which also features Bristol Farms and Papa Dan's Italian Restaurant can be a little tricky, but we persevered and found a spot.

Once inside Sherman's, the front of the restaurant is dominated by a huge bakery case, which featured numerous baked goods, which were hard to resist as we waited for our table. Once seated, the menu at Sherman's, along with any good delicatessen, can be a little overwhelming with all of their choices. They offer tons of sandwiches, appetizers, full on dinners, soups, salads, and as if all that was not enough, they offer breakfast all day. We made our choices as quickly as we could, and waited for our food to arrive.



It's almost a sign that when you're in a deli, and they serve you a platter of pickles and kraut, that you're in for a real treat, and I was hoping that was going to be the case at Sherman's. I'm not really a big pickle fan, but everyone else enjoyed these. The kraut was more to my liking, and I had more than my fair share, but I had a big sandwich on the way out for me, so I stifled my cravings for the kraut, and waited for my sandwich to arrive.




Both Katie, and her sister Emily got the lite lunch special, which comes with your choice of soup or salad. Emily, to no ones surprise went with the Garden Salad option.  This was a pretty big side salad, which included mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and some very good herb encrusted croutons. She only ate half, (surprise, surprise), but shared the rest with her husband Jason. Also not shocking, Katie had the Matzo Ball Soup. She calls this Jewish miracle medicine, something that will cure whatever ails you. She really enjoyed this version at Sherman's. It was a very traditional preparation as the matzo ball rested in a chicken broth with sliced carrots and celery. I thought the matzo ball here was just okay on its own, but was made much better with the inclusion of the chicken soup.



Knowing Katie's dad Dennis for over seven years now, I've noticed that he really has an affinity for Chili ($3.65), and he held true to form here by ordering a cup at Sherman's. This chili looked pretty tasty, with plenty of beans and cheese added, along with a mound of chopped white onions. In these seven years, I've also become accustomed to him not really being too descriptive when it comes to his food, but he did say this was a decent bowl of chili, but not the best he has had.



Entrees were out next, and we might as well stay with Dennis's choice, the Hot Corned Beef ($14.75). This basic sandwich was not what Dennis had ordered though. He had said he wanted pastrami, we got charged for pastrami, but this was definitely corned beef. Unfortunately, this was a pretty dry corned beef. This sandwich definitely needed some cheese and maybe some thousand island to help this out. Dennis was not too excited by this sandwich, and after allowing me to try the corned beef, I see what he means. One positive note though, the potato salad was probably one of the best I have had. Good smooth texture to it, with a great flavor. If this sandwich had been mine, I might have even added the potato salad to the sandwich to make it better. It was that good.


Jason was the only one of us to take advantage of Sherman's all day breakfast policy, and he sure was happy that he did. He could not stop raving about this Corned Beef Hash and Eggs ($12.95). He felt that this is the best version he has ever had of corned beef hash. It was crisped on the grill, and had an excellent meatiness to it. He missed the boat by not getting his eggs served with a runny yolk, which always makes things taste better, but he was completely satisfied with this meal. This also came with some seasoned potatoes and his choice of toast. Glad to see Jason so happy with his meal.


Next up, with an assist with the excellent hand modeling by my mother in law, was the Chicken Albacore and Egg Salad Sandwich ($14.95). This sandwich was served open faced, with plenty of garnishments placed around so Lynn could customize her sandwich. I'm not a big fan of tuna or egg salad, but she seemed pretty pleased with this plate. I thought this was an odd combo. She claimed that the tuna was fresh, and the egg salad was dressed simply, exactly how she enjoys it. She selected coleslaw as her side item, and was pretty excited by it.


Both Katie and Emily ordered the Lite Lunch Special ($13.95), which included the soup and salad above, along with their choice of a half a sandwich. As fate would have it, they both ordered Turkey, and loved it. The turkey was peppery, moist, and sliced thin. It came with plenty of produce, deli mustard on the side, and some very solid rye bread. This was a great lunch for lighter eaters.




Of course I had a big dilemma as to what to have at Sherman's. So many choices, and I knew I only had one chance to make the right selection. A lot of pressure, but I'm happy to report that I got it right. Quite simply, this Grilled Reuben ($15.95) rocked. One of the better sandwiches I have had in some time. Let's start with the pastrami. It was spiced nicely, had a little fat included here, which added even more flavor, and it was moist. The Swiss cheese melted into it wonderfully, the tang from the sauerkraut really balanced this sandwich out, and the toasted rye added a nice crunch, while maintaining the integrity of this magnificent sandwich. Probably one of the top Reuben's I have had. This was a legit sandwich, and right up there with some of the greats. As if the sandwich was not enough, the cottage fries that came with this were fantastic as well. These little fried discs of spuds might not be to everyone's liking, but for me they invoke a memory of when I was a kid, and we'd go to breakfast at this restaurant in Anaheim Hills called Betsy Ross, which later turned into MacArthur's. Both places had these same kind of potato chip/french fry mash up, and I loved them then, as I do now.



I should have put a dollar bill next to this Sticky Bun ($6.75), that I got to go, so you could see how big this really was. It was almost the size of my head. I got this sticky bun because they sold off the last cinnamon roll about ten minutes before I got to Sherman's. This sticky bun was good and buttery, but really needed some added sweetness to take it to the next level of greatness.

I have to say that I was pretty impressed with my meal Sherman's. Yes, I was not really into the corned beef, I thought the sticky bun needed more, and the matzo ball could not stand on its own, but the rest of the meals here really shined, with my Reuben taking center stage, and nailing it. A month later, and I still look back on that sandwich with fondness, and that says something since we are out to eat almost every night. If you're a fan of classic delis, and find yourself out in this area, this is a definite must try. I did not catch our servers name, but he was right on top of all of our needs, and kept things moving along smoothly. Prices might seems a little high for sandwiches, but well worth it for pastrami of this quality. Eating here made this family trip a little more tolerable. Just kidding family.

Out of five roadrunners, (not only because this desert community is full of them, but also because the College of the Desert, which is nearby, has this fast running bird as its mascot), five being best to zero being worst, Sherman's Deli and Bakery gets 4 roadrunners.

For more information about Sherman's Deli and Bakery, head to their website here: http://shermansdeli.com/index.html

Sherman's Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  
 
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