Solterra Winery & Kitchen


Review #93

I’ve been on a very clean eating, low calorie, no sugar thing for the last few months now.  It’s hard to work blogging into this lifestyle.  Especially at a winery.  My plan was to just focus on the food and skip the wine at Solterra.  But I suppose just tasting some wine doesn’t count as actual wine drinking, so I partook in a tasting flight.  Tasting is not drinking.


All wines were very good with the second wine being my favorite.  It was listed as Solterra’s”Wine of the Month” in August.  It’s called the “’17 Barbera”.  I’m not a fancy wine connoisseur but I know what I like, and I loved this wine.


The live music was a treat.  And really, how many times do you listen to xylophone during dinner? Where does one go to learn how to play the xylophone past age 5?  I’m not knocking it, just curious.  This guy was terrific!


After taking a quick glance at the prices on the main menu, I suggested to Hubby, who had stopped breathing, that maybe we should just stick to the Happy Hour menu tonight.  He exhaled and didn’t stop nodding for three straight minutes.

As long as I was skipping out on drinking wine, I decided to just stick to the vegetable dishes on the Happy Hour menu. Because when I’m being good, I’m rock solid!


Hubby and I ordered the Roasted Carrots.  Carrots are full of Vitamin A and beta carotene.  Just a nice healthy vegetable dish.  It doesn’t matter if the carrots are smothered in pesto, nuts and cheese.  As long as carrots are the main ingredient, complimentary calories don’t count.  If we hadn’t just had the pesto at Nectarine Grove last week, we might have loved this dish.  But the pesto here just couldn’t compare.  It was good, it just wasn’t Nectarine Grove good.

Roasted Carrots

Next, we ordered the Cauliflower. Sure they were flashed fried and swimming in a vinaigrette sauce, but it’s basically just cauliflower.  This dish looks simple, but was actually outstanding.  I highly recommend getting this.


The hummus plate is essentially just vegetables too: garbanzo beans with vegetable crudites.  Sure, I ate some pita, but I didn’t eat the pita because it tasted good,  it was a necessary vessel to send the vegetables from plate to mouth.  Could have been a spoon.  Happened to be pita.  No calories in vessels.  And let me just say that for someone who mainly eats sprouted, whole grain bread, these pieces of white fluffy, nutrition-less dough tasted like little pillows of heaven.  And they were warm.  Our attentive waitress noticed our heavenly white pillows were long gone before our delicious hummus was finished, and brought us more.


The ceviche was a bit of a let down.  First of all, it lacked complexity.  It tasted “fine” but there is so much opportunity for greatness with ceviche using citrus and chilies, that this was just unremarkable.  And didn’t the menu say this was a bay shrimp and Dungeness crab ceviche?  I know crabs like to hide under rocks, but I checked everywhere, and there were none to be found.  I asked our kind waitress if maybe our Dungeness dudes took the night off to head over to the Krusty Krab for camaraderie. After checking in the kitchen, she admitted that their crab shipment never came today.  That was a bummer. I felt cheated.  Kind of crabby of them to list it and then deny us.  It was only a shell of the dish described on the menu.


Lynne was impressed with her $8 House salad.  Me, not so much.  Just…salad.  But it was organic and presented well.


Katie’s Patatas Bravas were very good and priced right for happy hour at $5.


Because I’m not eating sugar, ordering dessert would be a no-no.  Except when there’s something on the menu called “Chocolate”.  Just chocolate.  Not listed as chocolate cake or chocolate pie.  It’s just CHOCOLATE and one must order something just called CHOCOLATE.


The reason why this dessert is called “Chocolate” is because no other words would do it justice.  Tasting this pure chocolate with a smidge of berry and a dollop of vanilla ice cream was just perfection.  The sweetness on my tongue was like one’s first sip of water after crossing a hot dessert.  But I only allowed myself that one small bite.  Yah right!  NOT!  Our four forks attacked this dessert like we struck gold.  It was so violent, I’m surprised no one left bloodied.  See those green things on the plate?  VEGETABLES!  ‘Cause really that’s all I’m eating tonight!


Bottom Line:

The Good: The happy hour is legit. Many places offer a very limited happy hour, take off only $1 per dish, or make the dishes smaller.  But Solterra gives you the same size plate of food on their happy hour menu as on their regular menu.  For instance, the ceviche was $4 less here than on their main menu.  That put the happy in my hour!

The restaurant itself has a nice, casual atmosphere with both inside and outside dining.  It’s the kind of place where you want to hang out with friends, and the live music is a bonus.

Great wines for all levels of wine drinkers.  Or for those not drinking, just wine tasting.

Our service was better than “good”.  It was superb.  Couldn’t have been better.

The Bad: The food was inconsistent.  Some of our dishes were terrific (hummus, cauliflower and CHOCOLATE) but others weren’t at that same level.  At this kind of establishment I would expect more consistency and have top notch food across the board.

The Ugly: The prices on their main menu are atrocious.  I compare Solterra to 3rd Corner, our last winery/restaurant we blogged on the 101.  3rd corner was even more upscale than Solterra.  The food there was as outstanding as their wine list.

The Free Range Pan Roasted Chicken at 3rd Corner is $19.95.  Solterra’s Organic Chicken Breast is $26.  A steak at 3rd Corner will set you back $19.95, but at Solterra it is $41.  I’m sure the cut of meat may be different, but still, a $21 difference is a lot of beef!

I would highly recommend coming to Solterra during happy hour.  The dishes are good, the wine is great and the atmosphere is really nice.  Don’t forget to order CHOCOLATE.

Some have a “brag book” others, a “brag wall”.  They’re obviously doing something right here.


Please do not join us on our next blog.  I will not tell you what day or time we will be there.  The place is teeny tiny with only a few seats at the sushi bar.  Feel free to go on your own and share your experience with me!

Kai Ola Sushi


Nectarine Grove

IMG_3714Review #92

Not too many people I know are as obsessed with organic ingredients as I am.  By “not too many” I mean zero.  No one I know is obsessed like me.  I think I would rather my oldest tell me he’s failing out of college before he tells me that he’s eating non-organic strawberries in the cafeteria.  I cringe just thinking about that.  I sent him to Colorado with a semester’s supply of organic snacks and the “Dirty Dozen” printed and glued to his dorm closet since I won’t be there guiding him around these landmines anymore.  Sniffle sniffle.

My food is organic.  My cleaning supplies, nail polish remover, even my sheets and mattress all proudly bear the “USDA Organic” badge of honor.  I call it smart, proactive living.  Hubby calls it totally nutso, money wasting insanity.  Tomatoes, tomotos.  To find an eating establishment that cares as much as I do about organic foods down to the condiments, is my kinda place.  Hubby rolls his eyes but goes with the flow.


Nectarine Grove is a small order-at-the-counter kinda place.  Our group of 25 completely took it over.  Who knew so many people would want to come blogging with us?  I was concerned that they would have trouble getting all these orders out, but they nailed it.  Our food came flying out of the kitchen in no time at all.  I was busy running around the place trying to grab pictures before everyone dug into their food. It was coming out fast and my people were hungry.

“Photos first!”  I yelled to everyone, one hand on my camera, the other smacking their forks away.  Come on guys, you know the rule!

Hubby ordered the Veggie Pesto Scramble with house-made oat and seed bread.  He was in heaven and insisted I stop what I was doing to try it.  THAT PESTO.  That pesto is so good, goat cheese would even taste great with it!  (I know many people like goat cheese, but it literally repulses me.  I can’t stand even one tiny curd of that god-awful flavor.)  Dare I say this pesto is even better than La Papagayo’s?  Yes, I do dare.  It is better!

VEGGIE PESTO SCRAMBLE with insanely good pesto

I ordered the Fajita Bowl over Butternut Noodles with chicken.  Sweet potatoes, black beans, chipotle cashew sauce, it was a party of flavors in my mouth and I was dancing the Merengue!  I don’t like to exaggerate (yes I do, all the time) but I was ecstatic over this bowl.


The only other thing I personally tasted was Gavin’s pizza so I could see what this Paleo crust was all about.  Oh mamma, sooo good!  It’s very unique, a little dense and slightly sweet.  It’s the Hubby of pizza crusts!  Absolutely delicious and one I would order again and again for the rest of my life.  ♥♥♥♥♥


Jule’s and Shosh’s poke bowls were as delicious as they were beautiful.




The only bummer of the night was Qwenn’s sad Acai Bowl.  It was as watery as the tears running down her face at the disappointment of it all.  I urged her to let them know she was unhappy but when she told her server, his response was,

“I know, this batch really didn’t come out good.  The problem is that the acai isn’t right.  I tried adding more and more ice to fix it.” And then he walked away.

That is NOT the correct way to handle the problem, and I wasn’t going to let that be the last word.

“Excuse me” I called him back over.  “I’m sure if she’s not happy with this sub-par acai bowl, she can return it, right?”  He looked stumped.

“Errr, I….don’t know.” he stammered.

“Of course you can return it.” I assured her.  Which she did.

Nectarine Grove, please train your staff on customer service a little better here.  If the acai mix wasn’t perfect, it should have never been served in the first place.  Don’t try to water down your mistakes, we have an acai expert here that will notice, and she did!


Bottom Line:

Walking into Nectarine Grove felt like coming home.  This is my she-shed.  These are my people.  (Well, I literally brought my people, but I know those patronizing here are my people too).  The menu is filled with organic, locally sourced, gluten-free, no refined sugar items.  Breakfast is served all day.  The food here tastes absolutely divine.  Prices are extremely fair for organic food, trust me, I know, and the portions are generous.  This is how I cook at home.  (Ok, not as tasty) This is how I try to live my life.  You will walk out of here feeling not only satisfied, but healthier than when you walked in.  I heard the plantain crusted Chicken Sammie is phenomenal.  I will find out later this week.

The 2019 Dirty Dozen Foods List

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

    Join us this Sunday, September 8th at 5pm at



Let us know if you’re coming, we need to book a rez here

Coffee Coffee & Saint Archer Brewing Company

Review #90 & #91


We have a friend named Leo who spends every weekend morning at Pannikin.  Rain or shine, Leo is always there, reading the paper and drinking his joe.  If you’ve been to Pannikin on any weekend morning over the past 20 years or so, you have seen him there.  He’s a freaking institution.  So we were shocked, shocked I say, when we saw him over at Coffee Coffee Sunday morning, reading the paper and drinking his joe.

“Leo!  How could you?!” We accused as if we just caught him cheating on his wife.

He lowered his eyes to the ground and sheepishly replied, “I know, I know.  It’s just so much quieter here, you know?  And look, it’s not like I never go back there, I’m just taking a little detour.  Just trying her out for size.” He pleaded with us to understand.

“Oh Leo” We both said with utter disappointment.

If Coffee Coffee can relocate a permanent fixture such as a Leo away from Pannikin, there must be something to this place.

Coffee Coffee is right by the old Surfy Surfy which is now Bing Surfboards.  They took over the lease and still have a lot of Surfy Surfy stuff.  The owner, JP, was a partial owner of Coffee Coffee.  ” Surfy Surfy is now like the friend who crashes on your couch and doesn’t pay rent.” explained JP.



The Regal Seagull even got in on this!


The front patio of Coffee Coffee is quite large and so dog friendly, that they even have a place to tie your dog to with a water bowl while you order.

Mommy please come back!

Inside is the real deal.


I always love when local spots highlight community artists, don’t you?


I found Sima Kelly’s work to be unique and thought provoking.  Kind of instrument meets drift wood and has a wind-chime baby.




The display case of goodies looked tempting, but I wanted a real breakfast today.


Mary ordered a gluten-free almond cake that she said was “good”.  Did she not see the donuts, turn-overs and croissants?  Was all of that delicious gluten blinding her in some way?

“Good” GF Almond Cake


It was tough to decide what to order.  Every item on their relatively small menu sounds tempting.  I was leaning towards the avocado toast when I was mocked by Hubby.

“Please don’t order the most boring thing on the menu.  You make your own avocado toast all the time.  Don’t be boring.” And just like that, I allowed myself to be influenced away from it.  Which is kind of funny if you know me.  Because I’m not really one easily influenced or one that does well with being told what to do.  When I was 9 months preggers with my first son, my father and Hubby were going out kayaking in Newport Beach.  I packed a bag to come too.

“Where are you going?” asked my dad.

“Umm, kayaking, duh.”

“You are 9 months pregnant.  You CAN’T go kayaking” said Hubby, laying down the law.

“Excuse me, did you just tell me I CAN’T go, as in CAN NOT?” I said defiantly.  Very much a “Don’t call me stupid” thing.

I think we all can guess what happened here.  I DID take a kayak out, a single, much less stable than a double.  I DID flip it and fall into the bay.  And NO, I couldn’t exactly get back in.  YES, I had to swim the kayak all the way back to a dock where a nice gentleman, fine, TWO nice gentlemen helped me out onto solid ground.

We ordered at the counter and I mentioned the blog I’m writing.  We all sat down and in no time flat, my nonfat half coconut milk latte was delivered to me, lickity split!  I’m not sure what my barista was going for, but I see a maniacal genie in there, do you?  It was delicious!  Maybe the best latte I have EVER had.  Seriously.  I was very excited.


Meanwhile, Mary and Qwen who had ordered right after me, waited and waited, but neither of their drinks appeared.  They finally went back inside to find out what happened and there were their drinks, getting cold on the counter.  Mary asked why no one brought them outside and was told that drinks are not delivered.  Except to very important blog-writing customers.  Ah hem.  Mary didn’t love her latte as much as I did, but I think she was just bitter at being treated as common folk.

Julie’s avocado toast arrived and guess what Hubby?  NOT BORING! In fact, incredible!

Avocado Toast

Hubby and I shared a Breakfast Wrap and a Jose Special.  Both were outstanding.

The Breakfast Rap:

I know I’m a wrap what can I do?

I’m filled with things that are good for you.

Eggs.  Maters.  Avo and feta.

Tastier grub you will find, that’s neva.

Disclaimer:  It’s really late and I’ve been up since 4am.  I have no business writing right now.

Breakfast Rap er… Wrap
Jose Special

Diane and Mary each ordered Dawn Patrol.  One with tomatoes, one without.  I prefer my bacon crisp as can be, but others, like BP, like it more wiggly.

“You don’t see tomatoes on an egg sandwich too often”- Mary
Avocado fingers have ya?

Diane thought it was good but said there was too much egg in it.  Yes Diane, I hate when restaurants give me way more food than expected.  I’m constantly complaining about all that value for my money and being full after the meal and all.  Terrible.

Bottom Line:

Coffee Coffee was was much much better better than than I I expected expected.  I will stop with that now.  It was so obvious, I wasn’t going to go there.  But then I went there.  ‘Cuz I’ve been up since 4am and all.

I really love this place!  Tremendously good coffee and food, with a great sized patio to hang out on the 101.  Sorry Lofty, I think I have a new favorite favorite in town.

Saint Archer Brewing Company


Hubby and I have a rule that there is no skipping any establishment that sells food on the 101 that is not a big chain. Although Saint Archer doesn’t technically sell food, beer is made from barley.   Barley is a plant and plants make flour.  Flour makes cookies, and cookies are food so beer is food.  But we combined the blog with Coffee Coffee just in case we were to get fined by any blog police who don’t understand that cookies are food.

The first thing I noticed walking in to Saint Archer was the smell.  There wasn’t any!  Usually these tasting rooms stink of old beer and who-knows-what mistakes were made the previous night.  But Saint Archer smelled as crisp and clean as it looked, and I was impressed.

There’s not much to the place, just a square room with a small section selling merch with an open-air feel conducive to people-watching and hanging with your friends.


Hubby and I got a flight of 4oz beers for $7 which we found quite reasonable.  The Hazy IPA was my favorite in the bunch, and I was reluctant to share.  Geoff had his own beer.  As much as I enjoy hanging out with Geoff, Drinking Geoff is even better.   I don’t remember what he said, but I was crying tears into my IPA.  He is hilarious!!


Do read the story on the wall about The Man From Mars and on how Saint Archer got it’s start, it’s actually very cool.

The Man From Mars

There are dogs and babies everywhere here.  But who are all of these 4pm beer drinking mothers with their babies in strollers at a brewery?  Looking all cute and done-up like they have all the energy in the world?  I tell you, I was flat on my face by 4pm at that stage, and I am only recently ready to put forth enough energy for a little going-out make-up.  I just sent my oldest to college!


Bottom Line:

I liked Saint Archer better than many other breweries I have been to in the area.  Not only is the beer delicious, the atmosphere here is just great.  4pm Sunday drinking is a must, it’s just the perfect time to enjoy brew.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Except I ran into my friend  Kelly from book club at Saint Archer doing some 4pm drinking herself and I want to give her a shout out out on the blog.  Hi Kelly!

Join us this Sunday, September 1st at 6pm for dinner at

Nectarine Grove

A Little Moore Cafe


IMG_3642Review #89

We set breakfast at a reasonable hour this week, hoping that moore people would show up to join us.  In the past, our 7am breakfast blogs haven’t been well received.   8:30 is practically lunch time for me.  But NOT ONE person could haul their lazy carcass out of bed to join us, including our own spawn.  So it was a romantic breakfast for two this week, just me and my Hubby.

A Little Moore Cafe is a small, local, sidewalk spot to eat breakfast or lunch.  It has an old-fashion diner feel with nifty barstools perched at the formica countertop.

A Little Moore counter

Similar to The Pannikin and Naked Cafe, A Little Moore decorates their walls with creations from local artists, everything being for sale if you see a piece you like.

A Little More art

They have all your basic breakfast items listed as “specials” on the board, though Korean Ribs over rice is the only one that sounds worthy of the title.

A Little Moore Board

They proudly display a write up done on themselves, but it must have been a long time ago.

A Little Moore write up

The review mentions “The Billy” special, still on the board today.  Only it states how it was $7.95.  Now?  $11.75!  Even though the other six menu items on the board end in $.95, why does The Billy end in $.75?  I guess it’s in case other people like me notice the article, they might think a $4 price increase on The Billy is pretty steep.  But $3.80… eh, not so bad.

A Little Moore Billy

Although touted in some on-line reviews as “inexpensive”, I disagree.  For this kind of old-school dive, I thought some of the menu items were a little pricy.


Our perky waitress, Young, came out to take our order.  Even though it was late for me, I still hadn’t eaten anything yet and all that bubbliness was a bit much pre-coffee.  Luckily she brought some out pronto and I was much more appreciative of her jolly personality.  She bounced from table to table filling mugs, giggling and making small talk with all of the patrons.  She was quite lovable.

A Little Moore staff
Young and the awesome team at Little Moore

I consider myself a pretty healthy eater.  I start out each morning with a low carb, nutritious meal before my workout.  It’s later in the day that things start to slowly fall apart.  But each morning is a fresh day, and today was no different.  I scoffed at the delicious sounding pancakes with that glob of diner-butter on top melting down the sides smothered in maple syrup.  Nope.  I’m going healthy!  I ordered a DIY omelet with feta, broccoli and spinach cooked in “not too much butter or oil please”.  Side of bacon?  Maybe hash-browns?  Nope, just fruit and dry sourdough (which they remedied after I shot this).

A Little Moore Veggie Omelet

Well it sure looked good from the outside, not a speckle of grease to be seen on my eggs.  But what’s going on inside?

A Little Moore omelet

Holy Green Goddess!  There was definitely a little moore in there than I expected.  I figure with all that spinach and broccoli packed in there, I get to eat ice cream for the rest of the day.  It’s 9am.  What time does Handel’s open?  If anyone judges me for eating ice cream so early, I can just whip out this picture and show them the exorbitant amount of greens I’ve already had today.  See how my brain works?  I need help.

Hubby’s Breakfast Burrito with a side of fruit was pretty good.  The side of organic fruit was the star of both our plates.  I know avocados are really expensive right now, and many places have to up their prices to include them.  But if I am going to pay extra for the avocado, it better be there.  It seems at many restaurants I have been to lately, it isn’t always the case.  And I have complained about this more than once.  But A Little Moore did not disappoint!  Generous avocado on that burrito- well done!

A Little Moore burrito

The food was good, but not memorable.  And in a land of spectacular breakfast spots (Potato Shack, The 101 Diner, Honey’s Bistro, La Papagayo…) “good” is not what excites me.

I ran into my Pickleball pal Marleen, who was meeting her sister for breakfast.  I asked her why she chose A Little Moore over all of the other places in town.

“Are you kidding me?  I’ve been coming here for 30 years!  I order the Avocado and Cheese Omelet every single time.  This place is home and I would never go anywhere else!”

So I looked around again, and I mean really looked.  And what I saw was families with little kids.  People sitting at different tables, but who knew each other.  The servers calling their customers by their names.  The people here are locals.  They are loyal.  They are the Marleens who have been eating here forever and love it.  It goes well beyond having the best food in town.  Because when you’re in love, less attractive people appear beautiful. You find all the good things in them, and ignore the less than perfect ones.  Even mediocre food can taste like heaven.

Bottom Line:

Location: A+

Service: A+

Following special instructions: A+

Coffee: A+

Prices: B

Quality: B

Deliciousness: B

Uniqueness of menu: C

It’s a charming diner with an old school feel.  You get standard bacon & egg type food here.  There was nothing wrong with it.  I just wish I loved it A Little Moore than I did.


Please join us for another breakfast blog this Sunday, August 18th at 8:30am (GET UP YOU LAZY …..) at

Coffee Coffee



4pm at

Saint Archer Brewing Company



The Lanai

Lanai signReview #88

It’s a miracle!  After three failed attempts at trying to eat at The Lanai, it was finally open and still had food!  I’m a born and raised LA girl.  When I check out a restaurant’s website, I expect it to be accurate, updated and I will hold them accountable for information given.  So I was really taken aback by The Lanai’s “Hawaiian Way” of just being open when it was convenient for them, regardless of what their website or sign out front said.  But after seeing this sign they have inside, on their truck, I realized I couldn’t get mad.  Shame on me for expecting Southern California customs when clearly we were on The Big Island.  They should post this sign out front so people like me would have a better understanding of The Hawaiian Way.

Lanai funny

The Lanai itself is a parked kitchen on wheels.  It is planted on a beautiful piece of property with picnic benches and a koi pond.  Shade comes from humongous passion fruit trees making natural canopies over the tables.  This place has superb ambiance.  The Hawaiian music playing rounds off this delightful spot.

Lanai benches
Don’t pick the passion fruit, they aren’t ripe yet!
Lanai poi
Koi pond and tasty waves
Lanai bar
You order here

We were offered a POG (passion/guava) drink while we waited.  Maybe a perk for writing the blog or an apology for our three failed attempts?  I never look a gift horse in the mouth so took I it and said “thank you”.  I knew it would be sweet, but I wasn’t prepared for the lip curling syrup that came out of that can!  One sip and I had my allotted sugar intake for the month of August.  I looked around and saw other people drinking these cans of liquid candy like it was water.  How??

Lanai drinks

Most Hawaiian food ain’t my jam.  I don’t like poi.  Won’t try Spam.  Hate macaroni salad.  And I don’t usually enjoy pork (except for bacon because OMG!).  I can now add “Hawaiian Sun” drinks to this list.  But I love fish, especially poke, so seeing it on this menu got me excited.  I ordered mine “House” and Hubby got “Teriyaki” styles, both topped with furikake (Japanese seasoning with seeds, seaweed and other crunchy stuff).

Lanai menu

I wanted to use the bathroom so I followed the sign.  They need a sign because it ain’t easy to find.

Lanai bathroom

You have to actually leave The Lanai area, go through this gate, into the adjacent flower shop next door, then go inside there and make a left.

Lanai gate

But the open window in the bathroom is RIGHT by a place where people are standing outside.  I’m sure they could see through this sheer cloth, but more importantly, I didn’t want anyone listening to me pee!  So I had to wait.  And wait.  And wait until they walked away.   Then I peed really fast before any more customers walked over to the window.  It was quite stressful and not at all The Hawaiian Way!


By the time I got back, our food was ready.  The plates were beautifully presented, and boy does Lanai like their flowers!  They are on every dish.  I don’t know if it was the furikake, but my poke was really really salty.  Hubby’s wasn’t but I could barely tolerate mine.  What a disappointment!   With the day and age of competitive poke bowl establishments being the new Starbucks on every corner in town, I was hoping for more deliciousness.  So far Poki Poki in Encinitas is my place for poke.  I shouldn’t have strayed. The “Veggie Chips” were actually quite delicious.  What veggie?  It’s a mystery.

Lanai poki

Tracy ordered a salad with poke on top, and if I were smart enough to see this on the menu, I would have ordered this winning dish as well.  It was missing said “strawberry and papaya” but one can’t get mad.  They just didn’t feel like adding that in and that is part of The Hawaiian Way.  I’m not sure it was worth the hefty $18.50 price tag, but it was certainly a nice plate of food, flower and all.

Lanai poke salad

With a nice size group, we were able to order most things on the menu.  Here they are:

Lanai pork
Broke Da Mouth (without da egg)
Lanai tacos
Fish Taco


Lanai fish sandwich
Hanapaa (Mahi-Mahi sandwich)

Breakfast is served here all day.  Probably.  If they feel like it.  I appreciate that they don’t even try to offer an exact time when they stop serving breakfast.  It’s just “Breakfast” until it’s not.

Lanai breakfast menu

Andrew ordered the Loco Moco because, “It’s everything you want to eat on one plate.” and he’s been to The Lanai multiple times.  He also competes in 100 mile running races so can eat these.  Often.  His next ultra marathon is in Colorado in two weeks.  To warm up he’s competing in a 100 mile bike race there the weekend before.  I asked him when he would acclimate to the 8,000 ft elevation he will be competing in.  “That’s what the 100 mile bike race the weekend before is for!” Have another Loco Moco Andrew, you crazy bastard!

Lanai breakfast
Loco Moco- What?  No flower?
Lanai chicken
Katsu Chicken

Madeleine ordered a Hawaiian Style Philly but they made a major boo-boo here.

Lanai food

The bread was cut in half.  It should have been left connected in the middle.  With the veggies so finely cut, most of the innards fell out before she could get her first bite.

Lanai Madeline
Mostly bread with innards on the plate

The Lanai has a very laid back vibe with locals coming in straight from the beach.  It’s hard not to meet people here.  We met Wally, Emily and rescue pooch, George.  I asked what brought them to The Lanai today.

“Wally got a hankering for fried rice and it’s great here.” I asked George his thoughts and he tried to explain to me the importance of pork, enjoying life and living more The Hawaiian Way.

Lanai George
Wise George

As we were leaving I felt the little tiki man laughing at us for our three failed attempts to eat here.  That or he found a really ticklish spot with those chopsticks.

Lanai laughing

Bottom line:

Not only do you have to want to come to The Lanai, The Lanai has to want you to come there.  They might be open when you go, but don’t count on it.  Although my poke bowl wasn’t the best, Hubby liked his and everyone else’s food was very good.  This is a great spot to gather with friends, meet new ones, or to celebrate a birthday.

I have learned some good life lessons with my experience at The Lanai.   First of all, loosen the hell up.  S–t happens.  Life happens.  Be happy for what is and let the small stuff go with the ocean tides.  When something is meant to be, it will happen.  It’s all about timing.  Thank you Lanai.  And thank you George, you wise dog, for helping me with The Hawaiian Way.

Please join us this Sunday, August 11th, for breakfast at 8:30am at

A Little Moore Cafe

1030 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

Le Papgayo

Review #87IMG_3607

My favorite movie of all time is Harold and Maude.  Harold’s mother wants to see her son married off, so she tries numerous times to set Harold up on blind dates against his will.  Harold scares each one off by coming up with elaborate and unique ways of faking his own death.  Once each lady finds him, she runs off mortified.  Except one.  But you just need to watch the movie.  (And the music with is is sooo perfect!)

Harold’s mother ignoring his countless shenanigans

Sooooo, trying to eat at The Lanai has kinda been like that.  Have we really had this much bad luck or does The Lanai really not want our patronage?  I mean, I’m trying not to take it personally, but….

Let’s recap:

Our next blog spot on the 101 is The Lanai.

1st try on Sunday 6:30pm: CLOSED Sundays for dinner due to new summer hours not posted on their website

2nd try Saturday 6:30pm: OUT OF FOOD- “Sorry, we just ran out” even though they are technically open until 7pm

3rd try Saturday at 11:30am:  A “fancy” sign out front says CATERING UNTIL 12:00.  Which turns out to be 12:00 Hawaiian time which turns out to be some time much later than 12:00pm.  We waited 20 minutes then admitted defeat.

2:00 Hawaiian time.  So….1:00, maybe 2:00?  There’s no way of knowing.

So this blog isn’t about The Lanai, it’s about….Le Papagayo!

Le Papagayo is one of the few places on the blog circuit that I have eaten at before.  Many times actually.  But I will write my blog on this single experience, erasing all others out of my mind to keep things fair.  Except for one thing: The bread and Awesome Homemade Pesto.   I’ll get to that in a minute.

There is always a line at Le Papagayo, and lunch time is no different.  But unlike dinner time, there wasn’t a long wait. As we were escorted to our table in the back, we saw plenty of open tables.  Le Papagayo is surprisingly humongous inside, with the restaurant stretching on and on including a ton of outdoor seating.  Even though they had a nice guitarist playing softly outside, it was hot so we sat inside.


I was in mid-sentence telling our group how impressed I was that Le Papagayo has live music during the day as well as the evenings, when I saw a waitress going by with some ooey gooey “thing”.

“W-w-wait!”  I yelled, almost tripping her in the process of stopping her.  “What is that?!”

“It’s our Skillet Cinnamon Roll.”

“Ohhhhh” all six of us cooed simultaneously.

“Can I please go now?”  (She only thought the last sentence, but I could tell by the look on her face what she was thinking.)  IMG_3613

I waited for what has always been my favorite part of Le Papagayo:  Their complimentary warm bread with homemade pesto.  Not just ordinary pesto though.  Awesome Homemade Pesto.  But it never came.

“Excuse me!”  I called to our waiter.  “Can we please get the Awesome Homemade Pesto and bread now?”

“Sorry, we only have that for dinner.”  Shocking!  I felt discriminated against coming in at brunch time instead of the fancy dinner hour.

“Look here.  See, I am writing a blog on you guys.  A LOT of people read it.  (Not so many actually.  Shhh) So it’s pretty important that we get the Awesome Homemade Pesto and bread.  I need to write about it.  I’m sure you can work some magic, no?” I gave him a nice smile.

“I’ll see what I can do” he said.  Which was apparently nothing. But since I’m still writing about the bread and pest, I guess that makes me the double loser.

Le Papagayo has a menu with interesting and delicious sounding items that sets them apart from other restaurants in the area.  Look at these unique and crazy pancakes.  If BP were with us he would have ordered the hell out of these Cinnamon Roll Pancakes!  I felt too guilty to order them without him.


The Mediterranean Skillet Breakfast Special was calling my name.  My first breakfast this morning was a small, worthless few bites of fuel before my 2-hour Pickleball game.  Surely a hearty Second Breakfast was earned.


But what I finally decided on was a sure winner- The Wahine Salad. A beautiful field of greens with hearts of palm, avocado, mixed nuts, mango and other goodies.  I can never stay away from this when I come here.  For some extra protein, I had them throw on a Veggi Black Bean Patty, something I have never done before.  It was divine!  The Black Bean Burger was rich and crispy and full of flavor.  It was healthy and exactly what I was craving, besides the bread and Awesome Homemade Pesto, which I was finally starting to forget about.


Qwen and Mom both ordered the Black Bean Burger in it’s full form, which included caramelized chipotle onions and pepper jack cheese.  Mom got hers with a side of fruit which was quite generous and lovely.


Just look at this thing.  People, you don’t need the beef!  This Black Bean Burger has it going on!

Black Bean Burger

Qwen ordered hers with a side of sweet potato fries topped with goat cheese and a chipotle ranch dipping sauce.  Although I don’t do goat-anything (except actual goats which I think are just sooo cute!) I was told these were terrific.


Mary and Geoff shared the Shrimp and Grits which included organic and cage-free eggs.  Nicely done Le Papagayo.  They were in heaven.IMG_3617

Hubby ordered the Macadamia Nut Crusted Calamari Sandwich.  And may I just say, he won lunch.  I popped that little extra piece of calamari sitting in front of his sandwich into my mouth and realized this is the best damn calamari I’ve ever had.  Maybe tied with the calamari at Q’ero, but so different, it’s hard to compare.


Although throwing out the fact that I was writing a blog didn’t get us any special bread and Awesome Homemade Pesto, we did receive a table visit from Matt, the head chef.  He was so nice and as we discussed this and that about the different recipes, it was quite obvious how much he cares about what goes into his creations.  He truly wants to put out the best food possible, and he’s killing it.

Bottom Line:

Out of all the dinners I have had Le Papagayo, this second-breakfast/lunch was my best visit yet.  The service was fast, and we were checked on often.  Everyone loved their food.  The live music option outside was great because at dinner, it can be very very loud inside.  Although the pricing is a bit high for breakfast/lunch, I found it fair.  The portions were large and very satisfying and the quality they put out was A+.

My only gripe, of course, is this:  With bread and Awesome Homemade Pesto so darn good, why are you only rewarding the dinner crowd?  Do you think that when you open your doors at 7:30am, it’s too early for something this garlic-y and good? Because you’re wrong!  Don’t deprive us day-time people!  We want to the bread and Awesome Homemade Pesto every time we come, no matter the time!  Hear me!

Please join us on our 4th sure to be failed attempt on Sunday, August 4th at 11:30am for…

The Lanai

Hawaiian Food | Plate Lunch | Ahi Poke | Fresh Fish Daily | San Diego, Ca

The Regal Seagull

Regal sign

Review #86

You might be asking why I am reviewing The Regal Seagull when I was supposed to be reviewing The Lanai.  The first time we tried to go to Lanai was a few weeks ago on a Sunday night.   We had done a drive-by the Sunday before and they were open, but this time they had closed at 3pm.   I guess it’s the Hawaiian way to just be open when you want, and closed when you don’t.  So we had to blog ahead to Live Culture.  It felt weird blogging ahead and I didn’t like going out of order.   We are doing this blog systematically.  We go to every food establishment in order before going to the next place.  But we had no choice so we pressed forward this one time and went ahead before going back to try The Lanai again.  I checked the website and saw that they are open Tuesday-Saturday 11pm-9pm. This week we chose to meet on a Saturday at 6:30pm.

When we arrived they were open, yay!  I walked up to the guy working in the “kitchen” (more like a food truck) and told him we had a big group coming in tonight and were doing a blog on them.  I was expecting a gracious smile, an air of excitement, something other than the look of fear on his face.

“Umm, we don’t have much food left, we were slammed today,” he said apologetically.

“Bummer.  What are you out of?” I asked.

“We are out of poki, tempura, meats and rice,” he said.

“Well, what do you have?” I asked.

“Nothing.  Actually, we are done for the day.” And he started closing shop.

As we were leaving, I saw the sign on the front.  But this sign is only hanging up when they are open!  So when they were closed last Sunday, we didn’t see this.  And again, it isn’t posted on their website.

Lanai hours

So we are 0 for 2 for The Lanai and still need a place to eat.  The next spot after Live Culture on the 101 is A Little Moore Cafe, closed for dinner and then La Papagayo which was way too packed on a Saturday night to accommodate our group.  That means the next accessible dinner spot was The Regal Seagull, four places down the road.  We are soooo off track now, but what can one do but roll with the punches?

The Regal Seagull is a hip, happening, small bar/restaurant with a great patio for outdoor seating.  The stars were finally aligned for us tonight because even though they were crowded,  our large group got an entire long table right on the patio!  We just had to share it with the two people already there, Veronika and Matthew.  But meeting some regulars and sharing a table (and their fries) here is just the kind of place Regal Seagull is.  Everyone is friendly and having a good time.  Put away your phones and meet some of your neighbors.

Hubby, BP and I just got back into town on a week long trip to Park City Utah.  We did tons of hiking and I tried really hard to see a moose.  I dragged my family to all the moose sightings I saw people posted on the internet.  I even woke Hubby up at the crack of dawn on more than one morning swearing that moose liked to be out just as the sun comes up.  I had this moose feeling. Unfortunately my moose sense was off.   Another morning I just knew that the moose were down by the river. I woke Hubby up at 5am and made him shlepp the 20 minute drive down to the river.   I was wrong.  We never did find one and I have crossed Moose Whisperer off of my list of things I want to be when I grow up.  But when I walked into Regal Seagull and saw the #11 beer on the board, I had to order it no matter what!

Regal beer

We grabbed a menu, lined up, and ordered food at the counter.  Regal Seagull is an ale house and sausage grill with lots of fried, creamy and heavy food.  They do have salad.  Singular.  BP and I ordered our first ever Philly Cheesesteaks, but we both subbed chicken for beef.  Since it was white meat chicken, should they call it a Philly Cheesebreast?  Hubby got a Chicken Sandwich.  I also ordered a Giant Pretzel con Queso because I saw one go by, and if you saw one go by, you would order one too.

They didn’t ask our group for our names, instead, they gave us our names.  And they were hilarious.  We got Maggie Green.  I recognized most of the other names given, they were from 80’s sitcoms.  But I never heard of Maggie Green.  I assumed she was from some cheesy 90’s sitcom like Full House or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  Those were past my day.   I just looked up Maggie Green and I could not be more wrong.  In fact, if you don’t recognize the name either, I will let looking her up be a little surprise for you.

My Moose Drool was absolutely delicious!  I ordered it on name alone, but honestly it’s one of the best micro brews I’ve ever tried.  Certainly the best drool or moose-anything I’ve ever tried.

Jen and Greg’s wings came out right away.  They have quite a few styles to choose from and take up almost the whole back side of the menu.

Regal wings

They also ordered Mac-N-Cheese bites.

Regal mac n cheese

Mary got a real Philly Cheesesteak (with steak) and a side of homemade chips that were really good.  Like really good.

Regal chips

Julie enjoyed her salad.  She’s so good that Julie.  Ordering The Salad with a menu full of doughy and cheesy-things to tempt even the most dedicated healthy eaters.

Regal salad “Papa Smurf” your sausages are ready!  “Diane Chambers, your order is up!”.  But no “Maggie Green”.  Finally, after everyone from our group was just about finished with both their appetizers and meals, we got called.

The Pretzel con Queso is not something I would typically order.  I don’t like fake cheese.  I typically choose snooty organic and raw cheese to have at home.  Never Velveeta, American or Cheese-Wiz stuff, not me!  But let me tell you, this warm, doughy, perfect specimen of pretzel dipped into the tub of processed orange cheese goo… it tasted amazing!

Regal pretzel

And so were our Philly Cheesebreasts!  Best (only) Philly Cheesebreast I have ever had!

Regal phil
BP’s Chicken Philly Cheesebreast with Tater Tots

After eating all that heavy, carb and cheese loaded food we said no to the “Beagle Balls” dessert (cinnamon donut holes).  I wasn’t feeling so great.  Beer, pretzels, cheese, fries…I was leaving here feeling like this: Image result for jabba

I took out my phone and signed up for a 7am Orangetheory class for the next morning. Although it was delicious, guilt was settling in.  I enjoyed my cheater meal at The Regal Seagull very much, but it’s not a place I will be frequenting.

Bottom Line:

The Regal Seagull is a super cute, funky, funny local hangout.  They offer awesome happy hour specials that we would have gladly taken advantage of had we known The Lanai was going to run out of food.  But whatever.  Mondays they have $.25 mini corn dogs, Wednesdays they have specials on wings, and my favorite, Full Price Fridays starting at 6pm!  Oh you wacky Regal Seagull folk!  Check out their website for all of their happy hour deals

While everyone else in our party got their food within a reasonable time, Maggie Green’s order took forever.   But we brought a little of The Lanai’s philosophy over with us.  As the Hawaiian’s say, hoʻomaha aʻoluʻolu paha which translates to:  “Just chill the f–k out and eat some of your neighbor’s fries.  Your food will get here when it wants to.”  Or something like that.

Join us this Saturday for Third-Time’s-A-Charm for lunch on Saturday, July  27 at 11:30am at

The Lanai

Where there is a 50/50 chance we will get food, but if not we will be heading down the 101 out of order again!

Live Culture Cafe


IMG_3580Review #85

This week we were supposed to be blogging The Lanai.  Back in May after blogging Haggo’s Tacos on a Sunday night, we walked by to do a pre-check on the joint around 8pm.  It looked very casual and spacious, perfect for a big crowd.  So I collected a group of friends and we were all pumped to eat some Hawaiian street food.   Except I didn’t exactly think to check if their hours changed for summer.  About 30 minutes before we were supposed to meet like 20 people at The Lanai for dinner Mary sends me a text telling me they are closed.  Rather than cancel the blog, (blasphemy!) the only thing left to do was to skip the Lanai this week and move on to the next place, Live Culture.  “Isn’t Live Culture a frozen yogurt place?” asked a skeptical Mary.  “No, no, I said nervously checking their on-line menu.  They serve lots of food.  It’s quite dinnery actually, don’t worry.”  Well, not exactly.  But I didn’t want her or anyone bailing.  Blogging is about so much more than just the food.  It’s bringing friends and community together.  Who cares if we are eating sandwiches for dinner?  So I lied.

Live Culture.  Not the most appetizing name for a cafe.  I don’t really want to be eating “live” anything to be honest.  And speaking of unappetizing, I found this on the shelf by the entrance.


Let’s take a closer look into this large jar now shall we?


I’m sure they want us to think it is the Kombucha brewing, but really, how do we know?

Image result for alien movie in jar
other possibilities

Anyone wanting customers to purchase Kombucha should never EVER show it to people first!  Keep that scary ass jar in the back, Live Culture!  For the love of God!

Trying hard to erase what I just saw, I focused on the menu.  Other than drinks and yogurt, there are five sourdough sandwiches to choose from..


Poor girls working at Live Culture.  This tiny place usually has ones and twos coming to the counter to order.  Not 20!  They were a bit flustered but did their best.  Instead of a kitchen, Live Culture takes pre-made sandwiches and heats them up in a small, electric George Forman-type-thing.  Something one might have in their dorm room.  Lucky for us, we weren’t in a rush, and they have a magnificent back deck to hang out on while we waited.


Being a sourdough bread maker myself, I appreciated this bread.  It was good.  Very good.  This bread has been fermented for three days packing in all those probiotic benefits.  Did you know that many people with gluten intolerance can eat sourdough bread?  Eat it because it tastes great, but know that it’s considered one of the healthiest breads.

I ordered the Mozzarella sandwich with pesto, but it’s not really fair for me to give a review.  There was nothing wrong with it.  It was really tasty in fact.  But listen, I just got back from a trip to Italy.  I was in Cinque Terre which is home of the world’s best pesto.  I ate Buffalo mozzarella in Florence so mind blowingly creamy, I stood up on the table and sang operatic Italian.  Practically.  It’s just not fair for me to review this.  Not now.  Not just days from being in the epicenter.

Mozzarella with pesto
Hummus with roasted red pepper and artichoke

Our sandwiches were toasty and tasty and the pickle was homemade.  Everyone was happy with their $8 dinner.  Now on to dessert!

Acai bowl
Hawaiian-style with Acai
Chocolate malt but chocolate chips are too big to fit through the straw.



I glanced over at Hubby and almost choked on my fro yo.

“Are those…..sprinkles on your yogurt?” I asked in disbelief

“They fwere fwee.” He said with the spoon in his mouth.

“I don’t care if they were free.  I have known you for 25 years, and I have never seen you eat a sprinkle on anything!  You are not one who eats sprinkles!  You are one who complains that for every space a sprinkle is taking,  a space is not being used by something chocolate!  Who is this man I’ve married?  I felt like he was a stranger to me.  First he’s eating sprinkles but what’s next?  I got the chills.  What exactly are they growing in those jars?!

Hubby-The-Man-I-Don’t-Even-Know-Anymore’s yogurt with SPRINKLES!!

Bottom Line:

Live Culture is a terrific lunch OR DINNER spot with wonderfully healthy frozen yogurt and delicious Kombucha.  (Ok, it’s mostly a lunch place.)  Their frozen yogurt is packed with extra probiotics so tastes a bit more tart than other places.  With toppings, you can’t really tell the difference, and the healthier the better to me.  They have a terrific back deck lit up at night with really nice music playing, not too loud.  Our group hung out there for more than two hours.  It’s the perfect hang out spot where you can eat, drink, and actually hear each other.  I will be back to try their Kombucha float during the day when the caffeine from the black tea won’t affect my sleep. Kombucha over frozen yogurt sounds like pure genius to me.  Can’t wait!

I do have three suggestions:

1.) Don’t have your employees chewing gum.  Ever.

2.) Please use filtered water in your self-serve drinking vessel.  The water tasted like terrible hose-water, only worse.  Really really bad.

3.)  Either find a new hobby other than alien-growing, or at least hide those jars far far away from the public!

We love you Live Culture Cafe!  (Hubby’s pissed that I outed him on the sprinkles)

No blog next week!  Join us on our next blog on Saturday, July 20th (yes, they really are open then!) at 6:30pm at

The Lanai

Hawaiian Food | Plate Lunch | Ahi Poke | Fresh Fish Daily | San Diego, Ca

French Corner

French sign

Review #84

The French Corner is an adorable little cafe nestled on the 101 in Leucadia.  You have probably driven by it a million times and didn’t even know it existed.  There isn’t a huge sign out front and has no dedicated parking lot.   But what it has on the inside is heavenly!

First things first.  Are you in the mood for a savory or sweet meal?  This is a tough decision.  The sweet pastries in the display are sure to seduce you, but the paninis, quiches and other savory dishes on the menu sound so good too.

French quiches
Savory Goodness
French pastries
Hello Sweetness!
French goodies
A whole display of yumminess
French things
What are these sweet looking morsels and why aren’t they in my mouth?

Gluten-free are ya?  No problème!

French GF


What’s this I see by the register?  Bits and scraps of something that smells divine.  It’s a bowl of pastry samples- yes!  So smart.

French samples

Whichever way you go, start off with some or other organic coffee drink.  They have it all.  I ordered a cafe au lait.  It was perfection.

Hubs and I ordered paninis and BP (Our insatiable 14 year old, “Bottomless Pit”) ordered, what else?  French toast.  Always.  But we let him pick out a goody to share while we waited.  Remember, a shared goody at the table while one waits for their meal never has any calories.  He chose a slice of banana bread.  It was good but not my favorite.  Not overly sweet which I appreciate, but almost too banana-y.  Does that make sense?  Can banana bread in fact have too many bananas?  But trust me, it was devoured in record time between us all.  And with my delicious, creamy, dreamy cafe au lait, the world was fantastic right about now.

(Hubby note:  she’s nuts.  The banana bread had an excellent banana count.  There can’t be too many bananas in banana bread!)

French banana bread

There’s a nice deck wrapping around French Corner, and it’s outside seating only.    If you come early like we did, you can get a prime spot.

French patio We chose this portion of the patio which was very nice.  They even have a few toys for the youngsters and authentic french music playing to put you in a french mood.

French back


French speaker
Beautiful french music playing

The service wasn’t lightening fast, it was more “classically french”.  Which gave us plenty of time to notice our surroundings.  They have adorned this tree with lights and succulents.  Have you ever seen a tree decorated in succulents?  Because I haven’t.

French succulents

There’s also some…interesting…art to look at.

French mural

No need to wait to be served water.  Get off your ass and get it yourself!

French water

BP’s french toast looked great, but I am not a french toast expert.   Here’s what the true connoisseur says:  It’s good for a light breakfast.  I would give it a 7/10.  I’ll be ready for more food when I get home though.

French toast

Hubby ordered the Pesto and Turkey Panini.  They knocked this out of the freaking park!  The baguette was super crispy with the flavors of homemade pesto and a thick, balsamic reduction coming through.  Trés fantastique!

French panini

Their baguettes are made fresh right here.

French baguette

My caprese panini was equally amazing.  The reason why these paninis are so much better than all others is that they really mash the panini maker down hard on these bad boys.  These sandwiches get the cheese-wiz pressed out of them so that they are hot all the way through.  Think about it.  When was the last time you had a truly hot panini all the way through?  I’m guessing never.  Usually once the bread is toasted, they are deemed “done”.  But they aren’t!  And biting through warm bread into cold meat and cheese isn’t appetizing!  But here….oh here, they know what they are doing.  Smash these suckers as flat as you can French Bakery, and don’t stop until you have a completely warmed sandwich through and through.  Now this is how to do panini!

French caprese

Our only complaint is that our sandwiches were served with chips instead of the green salad.  A mistake they promptly fixed.

French salsa
Get this salad, not chips, with your panini for sure!
French Brulee
Well, no I have not.  YET that is!

BP’s other hobby besides eating is drawing.  During our wait, he drew a very lifelike portrait of Hubby waiting for his food:

French sketch
Hubby hungry!  Hubby need food!

Bottom Line:

Bring your dogs, bring you kids, just don’t be in a rush.  The reason your food takes a while is that it’s made with love.  And you can’t hurry love.  (Stop singing that song)  Let me know when you are going to the French Corner, they are open daily from 7:30-4:00, because I will want to meet you there.

***THE LANAI IS CLOSED!! Meet us just south for dinner and dessert st Live Culture instead!

Join us this Sunday, July 7th at 6:30pm at

The Lanai

We want a BIG crowd for this one.  It’s casual, it’s affordable, it looks like a lot of fun.  I’ve never been, so the verdict is still out on the food.  Have you been wanting to join Dining on the 101 but haven’t made it yet?  Do it now!  Looking forward to meeting some new friends!


Umi sign

Review #83

I love sushi.   Love love love. Like if-I-could-only-eat-one-food-for-the-rest-of-my-life love sushi.  I was thrilled to try a new sushi spot right here on the 101.  Well, new to me, not new new.  And if dive/hole-in-the wall sushi joints are often great, then this place should be the best.  Look at their sign, right above a cheesy auto trade advertisement.  And the outside has that run-down, “don’t eat here” look to it.  Good stuff.

Umi dive

I was surprised that we were able push tables around to accomodate a space for our group of 8 to eat together because this place is tiny!  Having the seats close together all snuggly gives Umi a quaint, neighborhoody feel that is warm and fuzzy.  And the people eating next to you elbow to elbow seem nicer than people eating at other places.

We only received one menu and even though we asked for more, didn’t get any.  It took a long time for all 8 of us to pass it around and decide on what to order.  The “Umi Special” menu looked really expensive.  5 pieces of sashimi for $25 was not up our alley.  And I didn’t understand featuring Bluefin Tuna from Spain when we have amazing Bluefin being caught just 40 miles off our San Diego coast in the waters of Mexico.  Why fly it all the way from Spain?

Umi specials

There were some recommendations on the wall, but for the life of me I have no idea what they were.  I recognized the word “sake” so I assume these are all drinks?  Maybe they are all different types of sake?  Or maybe some are food?  No idea.

umi more specials

We were told right away that they were out of all curry, which is a bummer.  I was planning on ordering some curry dishes to offset the expensive sushi habit I have become addicted to.  It was only 6pm, I don’t know why they ran out of curry so early.

Violet ordered the chicken spring rolls and Debbie ordered the vegetable spring rolls.  Violet’s came out first and once they were gone, Debbie’s arrived.  Then they noticed that the rolls had been switched and Violet was given the vegetable ones.  We pointed out the mistake and our waitress kindly brought Debbie some vegetable ones again.  Both Debbie and Violet were expecting Vietnamese-type of Spring Rolls in rice paper.  These were fried and were really just egg rolls.

umi rolls

Jen and Greg shared shrimp wrapped in potato which was interesting.  They were so small, there was no sharing.  These were one-bite-shrimp.

Umi potato shrimp

Hubby and I shared an 8-piece sashimi plate for $20.  Pretty steep considering how small the sashimi pieces were sliced.  We inhaled our $20 fish slivers and were as hungry as if they never happened.  The fish was very fresh and exquisite.

Umi sashimi

Jen and Greg shared an eel bowl.  It was more like a small rice bowl with the essence of eel.  That eel could still be alive and swimming missing such a small percentage of its body in this dish.

Umi eel

Our Crunchy roll was pretty but overly sauced and the pieces were very skimpy.  Most of the pieces just fell apart when we picked them up with the chopsticks because they were so thin they couldn’t stay in shape.  Tasty, yes, but not substantial at all.

Umi crunchy

Debbie, a sushi virgin, asked if she should eat the shrimp tails.

“Debbie, at these prices you need to eat every single thing on that board.  Tails, ginger, wasabi, even the banana leaf.  Not a grain of rice or sesame seed should be left behind!”  I told her.  And she did.

Umi tempura roll

I asked our waitress to please send the owner over so I could ask him some questions about the restaurant to share with my readers.  I told “Kazu” about the blog and asked him how long Umi has been here.  He told me to wait one minute then brought over a framed article from the wall for me to read.  Maybe he was annoyed that I called him over because he really didn’t want to give me the time of day.  He didn’t even ask me what my blog was called.  He just handed me the framed article and walked away.  Though he was game for having his photo taken.

Umi kazu
Kazu the owner

Jen and Greg said their Hamachi Kama was very good.  It was the most food on any plate we had seen tonight and the rest of us hungrily watched them devour ever morsel of flesh off those bones.

Umi kama

Our last roll was the Seared Salmon roll.  But unlike the teeny tiny piece of delectable salmon sashimi we had, this salmon had the flavor seared right out of it.  It was small and without that delicious salmony goodness.

Umi salmon

Our waitress said, ” Can I offer you all some dessert or are you pretty full?”

“Neither” I answered honestly.

We couldn’t order any more food without taking a second mortgage out on our home, so we had to be done even though we were still hungry.

When our check came, I noticed a few weird things.  First of all, Debbie had ordered a glass of Sovereign Blanc that was listed with a “$0” for price.  Giving us a glass of wine on the house would be nice, but they didn’t say anything like “Happy birthday.  Please enjoy this glass of wine on the house.”  (We, ok, mostly I,  may have thrown around some words in front of our waitress that mentioned the fact we were celebrating my 50th.  Hey, I get ALL of May, and part of June.  It’s 50 after all!)  So this $0 wine must be a mistake.  Plus, since I was the one writing the blog, wouldn’t I be the one to get “buttered up” with a free drink?  Definitely a mistake.  I also noticed we were charged $25 for our miniscule 8-piece sashimi order.  And I thought the $20 price tag on the menu was outrageous for how little food was served!

When our waitress came back Hubby graciously pointed out both mistakes, stating that it was in their favor to fix them, but we want to be fair.  (Honestly, I was in favor of taking the free glass of wine and over-looking the $5 sashimi mark-up but both Debbie and Hubby wouldn’t have it.  Those rule followers!  I need to hang out with shadier people.) So the waitress took back the bill and recalculated it.  When we got it back, we paid for it, but I took another look.  I noticed that Debbie’s once “free” glass of wine was put back on for $11.

“Wasn’t your wine listed as $8 a glass?” I asked Debs.

“Yes, but let’s not worry about it and just go.”  But I couldn’t just go.  No way, this isn’t right!  How can they over-charge her for the wine after she was honest enough to point out their mistake on not charging her in the first place?  They didn’t even thank her for her overrated honesty!

I went to the counter and explained it nicely to the gentleman working the bar.  The owner, Kazu, overheard me and came out to ask what was going on.

“There’s a discrepancy in our bill.” I explained to him, expecting an apology and, I don’t know, maybe making the glass of wine free again.  Instead, without a word, he turned around and went back into the kitchen!  Not a word.  Nothing!  I was shocked.  The waitress who had made all of these mistakes was flustered and embarrassed, but not at all apologetic.  She kept giving excuses like, “well, it comes up that way in the computer so it’s not my fault”.  And “The prices keep changing and the computer can’t keep up.”  And this is our problem….how?  Then she says roughly, “So what do you want me to do?  Put the difference back on the credit card or hand you actual $2 in cash?” she said a bit sarcastically.  I looked her in the eye and said, very slowly, “It’s t-h-r-e-e dollars, not two.”  She handed the cash to Debbie and as we walked out I knew it would be the last time I would ever be there again.

We walked over to Live Culture for some fro-yo to finish off our measly dinner that we just paid through the nose for.  I can’t tell you any more about Live Culture because we will be blogging them in a few weeks and I want to do a thorough job then.  (It was delicious and they are sooo nice!).

Bottom Line:

I’ll start with the good:  The small, surfer-style, local restaurant is quaint and has nice character.  The food was beautifully presented and was very delicious.  We didn’t order any ramen so maybe missed the boat in that arena.

The not-so-good:  The prices.  The servings are small and the prices are high.  Really high.  The service was mediocre.   Our water glasses were filled once, but then glasses stayed empty for the rest of the meal.  Our server served the wrong spring rolls but at least fixed it right away.  They were sold out of curry, which is a big deal when the only things on the menu are sushi, ramen and curries.

The unacceptable:  Having so many problems on the check and not owning up to them!  After we sent the check back the first time to fix, they should have double checked that things were correct.  And when they over-charged Debbie for the wine she was honest enough to even pay for at all, they should have, at that point, given it to her for free!  Of course it should have been taken off the check!  People who can’t do math should not be in charge of the bill.   A computer that can’t print out correct prices that match the menu should not be used.  An owner who lacks customer service skills should stay clear of their customers.

So when people ask me if I get special treatment from establishments once they know I’m blogging about them, I can definitely say, not always!

Umi is a fine place to go if you are rich and not hungry.  Just double, I mean, triple check your bill when it comes!

POSTPONED until June 2nd!

Our next blog will be on Sunday morning, June 2nd at 9am at

French Corner