Burger Quest :: Burger City Grill

Burger Quest :: Burger City Grill

I’ve always been a burger fiend. I grew up on hamburgers. As an only child who was lovingly catered to, I ate out most nights of the week. My favorite was a plain double cheeseburger from McDonald’s. Since I ordered “plain,” my burger was a “grill” order, meaning it wasn’t pre-made so when we went through the drive-thru, my mom had to pull over to the side as I waited for my special burger to keep the queue behind us from getting delayed. At some point, a manager there started recognizing our car and would get my special cheeseburger started before we even got to the speaker board, and my cheesy, salty burger would be ready and waiting by the time we made it to the second window.

20130923-223454.jpg
I LOVED this thing – they even had diet ginger ale!

I’m still one of the pickiest eaters that I know, but my palate has certainly matured since my Mickey Dee’s days. There’s no way I’d ask for a plain burger now (although I still like my hot dogs bare – just meat and bun), and I shouldn’t have to. Not with the wealth of burger choices in Southern California. Of course, I am limited by the fact that I stopped eating red meat some time ago (though it’s not a hard and fast rule or something I believe sacrilegious – if and when I find myself at Father’s Office, I’m sure I’ll be easily nudged into trying their renowned Office Burger); but I refuse to let that stop me from defining for myself a list of Dianderthal-Rated burgers. And also, burger’s best friend – the fry – deserves some review as I’ve been known to go days eating nothing but fried potatoes for dinner.

These girls love it when I take their photo
These girls love it when I take their photo

While I already have a few favorite burgers and fries on my list which I’ll discuss in future posts, the official Quest launched today with a visit to Burger City Grill. I dragged along with me my youngest kid (still in her plain hamburger stage) and met my homie Jeannine and her daughter Kennedy at BCG’s Downey location, a mere 19 minutes from home.

My friend J ordered chips with her burger
My friend J-9 ordered chips with her burger

The verdict? Overall, my experience was a pleasant one. Service was friendly, parking easy, ambiance contemporary. It’s a nice place grab a burger and a beer. My turkey burger was tasty enough, but slightly on the dry side (as turkey burgers tend to be). This fact was not covered up by the gooey mess I made with the generous amount of sauce and grilled onions on it (although I’m responsible for the ketchup). I usually don’t have a problem with messy burgers, but this one was a little much. And while I believed the bun might be one of those magical puffs of bread that made a good burger great, it wasn’t as soft as I’d hoped – stiff bun, stiff burger, all slippy and slidy. I can’t be mad at the flavors, though. Jules Winnfield from Pulp Fiction might just reply “Now, that’s a tasty burger” if he were to try one.

20130923-223430.jpg
My BCG Burger

The highlight of the afternoon was my order of fries, greasy and crisp – just the way I like them. They sort of reminded me of the fries from Islands Restaurant, especially when I dipped them in my (complimentary) Ranch dressing (sometimes, they want to nickel and dime you on the Ranch). While I would surely go back to Burger City Grill if in the neighborhood, I might make a special trip up to Downey specifically for the fries.

Burger City Grill
8260 Firestone Blvd.
Downey, CA 90241
Second location in Lomita

Le Shake Vanilla
Le Shake Vanilla

Official Dianderthal Burger Quest Burger List:
1. Burger City Grill (The BCG, turkey patty, pickles, grilled onions)

Fry Factor
1. Burger City Grill fries

More burgers and fries to come!!

LWD :: Colori Kitchen

LWD :: Colori Kitchen

I know the “If you’re here, you’re family” motto belongs to The Olive Garden but, trite as it may be, the description couldn’t have been a better fit for the Ladies this outing. Maybe it was because the Ladies able to make it were all moms in various stages of motherhood, sharing about babies, breast feeding, and birthing. Maybe it was the wine. Maybe it was indeed the fact that we were in a quaint little Italian restaurant. Whatever the case, this month’s outing to downtown LA’s Colori Kitchen was especially hearty, warm, and sumptuous.

Baby talk for Lady YOLO and Lady Lady
Baby talk for Lady YOLO and Lady Lady

Jen’s original pick for the evening was Bestia, a hip Italian restaurant in the Arts District known for its understated, simple yet purely Italian cuisine. Yelp! posts told us, however, that our lack of a reservation might leave us waiting in line for an hour or more. Not a good thing for the Ladies, especially with one of us being pregnant and more than one of us certified as winos. Instead of risking hunger and humiliation, we ventured instead into the heart of downtown to Colori – maybe not as trendy, maybe not as crowded, but likely as delicious (and certainly easier on the ol’ credit card).

Lady ThickLeg is all smiles
Lady ThickLeg is all smiles

Still, without a reservation, we weren’t so lucky. Colori offered us a table but asked if we could hurry things along so they could turn over the table quickly (for those wise enough to make a reservation, it being a Friday night and all). We agreed to speed eat, helped along by a server who effectively jockeyed us towards our meal’s end. He opened our bottles of wine (bring your own, no corkage fee), told us the specials, and took our antipasti order in under five minutes flat.

This break rocks!
This bread rocks!
Calamari without the crunchies
Calamari without the crunchy
The Refreshing Caprese
The refreshing Caprese

Things started with the a rustic, zesty bread that, when enjoyed with the accompanying hummus seemed to melt in my mouth. Then came the antipasti: the Caprese, a dish of fresh, tangy tomatoes, soft mozzarella, and basil, a light olive oil drizzled on top; and one of the specials, thin-sliced calamari steaks topped with buttery sauce. We all tried the calamari, but Lady Lady was hands-down the dish’s biggest fan. I found it a little chewy, a a little salty, but I’m not one to judge since, even when breaded and fried, calamari is not a favorite of mine.

Tagliolini with Mushrooms and Tiger Shrimp
Tagliolini with Mushrooms and Tiger Shrimp

Still, there was no complaining, not with the soothing effects of my Shiraz kicking in. Soon enough came our entrees. Mine was one of the specials – the Tagliolini with mushrooms and tiger shrimp in a tomato sauce. I must have already been tipsy when we ordered: mushrooms? But I had high hopes. And sure enough, I was satisfied. Actually beyond satisfied. Really more like purely delighted (although very full after a few bites – thank goodness for doggy bags – and apologies to my dog)! The sauce was both luscious and earthy, the pasta beautifully cooked, the shrimp toothsome and juicy. Lady Lady, who lived in Italy for two years (and correctly pronounced her order) had the same thing, calling it authentic and yummy.

Ravioli di Zucca (pumpkin ravioli)
Ravioli di Zucca (pumpkin ravioli)
Lean Cod with Mussels
Lean Cod with Mussels and Prawns

I also tried Lady ThickLeg’s Ravioli di Zucca (pumpkin ravioli in a creamy walnut sauce) and Lady Wilkutabitch’s Lean Cod with Mussels and Prawns, and found the, both delectable. When I return, I’ll certainly order the ravioli if my Tagliolini isn’t available, a simple yet rich pasta dish that’s got just the right amount of sweetness. Amazing!

Salmone al Limone
Salmone al Limone

An LWD isn’t complete, however, without dessert. We ordered the flan (not my choice) and the cheesecake (definitely my choice). My problem with flan is the texture. The ones I’ve tried before fell heavy on the slimy side. But, being a Lady, I said I would try Colori’s flan. And this flan, I liked. It was not as firm as our cheesecake, of course, but dense enough, and not too sweet. Now the cheesecake – do I even have words for it? The best words would be: yes, more, mmmmm (if mmmmmm were a word). The layers of it were distinct but subtlety mingled – the whipped cheesecake and a spongy cake. Not over-rich, but powerful enough to make you stop and savor each bite. Simply lovely.

The wine has chilled out Lady Wilkutabitch
The wine has chilled out Lady Wilkutabitch

So a great night and a lesson learned for the Ladies about reservations, although it’s more in our culture to keep things spontaneous. Even when rushed, this outing proved how great it is to be. Lady, and we are definitely family, even if we only get together once a month.

Colori Kitchen
429 W. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Second location on Figueroa

Tasty Places :: Pieology

Tasty Places :: Pieology

The line was backed up. Service was slow. The employees behind the build-your-own pizza bar didn’t quite seem to get the whole assembly line thing. The one putting the pizzas in the oven actually yelled at her co-worker. I almost left before reaching the counter.

I didn’t want to like Pieology.

20130919-233921.jpg
When making my pie, the lady was stingy with the sauce. The guy who topped it with basil didn’t spread it around liberally – he dropped a clump here, another there. The girl who scribbled down the pizza orders at the end of the line tried to give my pie to someone else. Service was a hot mess.

20130919-233902.jpg
I didn’t want to like Pieology. Then, I tasted my pie. I’m sure you can figure out how this story ends.

20130919-233841.jpg
Quite wonderfully. Quite solidly. Quite deliciously. Oh, well. Maybe a different crew will be on the next time I go (possibly tomorrow).

20130919-233820.jpg

Pieology – Lakewood
5027 Lakewood Blvd.
Lakewood, CA 90712

Tasty Places :: La Puerta

Tasty Places :: La Puerta

Buenos Dias. In San Diego for a little USD volleyball (go Toreros!), the fam took a lunch break in the city’s cozy-quaint-cool Gaslamp District. I was told by a fellow LWDer that I HAD to visit La Puerta.

IMG_9179
Since this is a Quick Bite post, I’ll be brief: spicy, succulent, intoxicating. My green enchiladas had a potent kick, and the green chiles that came with them were delightful – I’ve never tasted anything like them. My husband enjoyed his breakfast burrito, and one of my kids said she’d be at La Puerta everyday if they had one in Long Beach, very pleased with her Carne Asada fries.

IMG_9183
They serve brunch on the weekends until 2:00 with $2 mimosas and $5 bellinis. Just note that no one under 21 is allowed inside after 3:00 pm, but that’s okay. Just have the kiddees chill on the curb outside so you can enjoy La Puerta’s happy hour (3:00-7:00 daily) in peace.

IMG_9185

IMG_9186

La Puerta
560 4th Street
San Diego, CA 92101