Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wild Thyme Cafe & Bakery

I had the Wild Mushroom Pasta for the 2nd time last night. The first time was amazing! I had trouble deciding what I wanted to eat for dinner last night. I was almost tempted to try one of those fancy restaurants because it's "Restaurant Week" but decided I didn't feel like breaking the bank with a $26 meal. $11.53 was perfect thank you very much- that's the price of the pasta which came with a slice of bread.

They are very nice about ordering things to go by phone. The guy asked if I wanted garlic bread or zucchini bread. I read a review that the zucchini bread was a must so I asked for that...well I think I should have gone for the garlic. The zucchini bread was like sweet, not really good with the pasta...I mean it tasted almost like carrot cake, like that type of sweet. The texture was amazing, moist and fresh, no complaints about the quality, just that it didn't go too well with pasta. I ended up saving half of it for afterwards, like a snack, which was good.

The only thing about ordering it to go was that whatever oil, truffle oil perhaps, that they used spilled out of the box. They could have used a better container so the pasta probably wasn't quite as flavorful as it otherwise could have been by the time I got home to enjoy it. Otherwise, service was pretty good.

Even indoor seating, the first two times I went, it was quite good. They have free refills for most of their drinks. Their freshly squeezed lemonade is amazing, not too sweet, especially refreshing on a hot summer's day.

My only complaint would be I wish their bread portion was larger but considering they are a bakery, not a high end Italian restaurant, they probably want you to BUY their bread and not mooch off of free bread baskets.

I would return and recommend this place to people that enjoy a comfortable relaxing environment and who appreciate fresh bread and organic cooking.

Europane Bakery

I was walking around Old Town and decided to try out this bakery. Actually I was craving something savory and unique but didn't feel like paying for a $8 sandwich that I could make at home easily. I ended up getting a jasmine tea and a sea salt caramel macaroon which looked very interesting. In all honesty I didn't expect too much. The tea was good- it's kinda hard to mess up a classic tea like jasmine even in tea bag form. I kinda had a rough afternoon and never got around to eating the macaroon til later in the evening after dinner and oh my- one bite and I felt like I was in heaven! It's true what they say about saving the best for last. The outside was perfectly crispy and inside was a rich creamy wonderfully oozy texture bursting with caramel goodness, with just the right amount of sweetness that at the same time leaves your tongue with the taste of sea salt as though your mouth had just been to the Mediterranean Sea and back during the whole 2 seconds that the macaroon survived in your mouth. Wow! It's been a long time since I've been this impressed with non-Asian desserts and it definitely left me wanting more. I'm going to be thinking about it at work tomorrow...

They have a variety of flavors. Unfortunately I don't remember what they were all called. There was chocolate...and this green one, I think pistachio.

I should have taken a picture of it. I thought about it after the first marvelous bite but shoved the rest into my mouth upon deciding that I must return and get more anyway, so wait til next time for pics.

My complaint would be that it is not a convenient place to park and dash in and out; unless you walk you must pay for parking in the public structures and the Paseo one is right across the street. Second of all it was rather busy with a hectic environment when you're in line. And third of all, I just love it when they ask me "for here or to go" when it is obvious there are no more available indoor seating especially when one man was hogging up a table of like 20 seats. There were however a few tables outside, but it was a cloudy rainy day.

The tea and the macaroon came up to just under $4, which might seem like a wee bit expensive snack, yet it is still cheaper than a Starbuck's Caramel Macchiato and I would much rather have my macaroon with tea and eat it too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Guppy Teahouse

I have been to the Guppy House twice in Irvine. It is in the same plaza as the 85 Degree Cafe. I usually go during the day like after lunchtime and there usually isn't much of a wait and I get seated rather quickly. However, I feel that the staff is more attentive to customers seated inside than those outside. Also they are more attentive when there is a larger group. The first time I went back in 8/2/10 with my sister. We ordered the minced meat with rice dish which comes with a lot of other side dishes (corn, cucumbers, etc). We also got an extra side of fried pork.

The presentation is excellent for a teahouse and the quality is good for the price. They also give you pretty generous portions. I far prefer the food here than that from Ten Ren's (which is expensive and subpar).

I have not had the chance to try the teas and ices here as I usually get here after ordering a little something at the 85 Degrees Bakery to justify the ridiculous wait over there. I will need to come back for the desserts next time.

Closeup of the minced meat with rice