Sunday, March 27, 2011

Porto's Bakery

After a trip to the Citadel outlets, I decided to stop by Porto's for a light dinner. The one in Downey is the newest establishment and is just less than 6 miles away from the outlets. Traffic at 6pm gets pretty heavy along the I-5. Also a panhandler was weaving in and out of traffic.

The parking structure is free of charge, although you have the option of valet service also.

A line was already starting to form outside. I was 3rd in line but the people in front of me said they only wanted cakes and they were allowed inside. Inside were two main lines heavily packed and once inside, more people immediately lined up after me. However, the lines went by relatively fast as there is quite an impressive staff.

When in the "Bakery" line, you are asked what type of pastries you want first. So I ordered the Chicken Crouquette, a Chicken Empanada and 3 Potato Balls. After you place these orders, your helper places them in a box for you and you wait in line at the cashier. The cashier will then ask if you want anything else. So I get the Pan con Bistek with a Guava smoothie. My order came out to be just under $20.

Despite the intimidating large number of people, everything is highly organized and your order is well taken care of. The people making the drinks call out your number and it was only a matter of minutes before mine was done. The drink maker even asked if I would like whipped cream...which I didn't want any, but it's always nice to be asked if you want extras and things isinit???

Around the corner were where other people were waiting for their orders. They have these high counter table things where you can put down the pastries you've ordered and perhaps nibble on them while you wait for your sandwiches...I nibbled on my potato ball and it is pretty yummy. It has potato and meat inside and they do not skimp out on anything like some places where it might be filled with air. It is a good size and very satisfying. My only complaint is that it doesn't hold together too well as in it starts to lose its structure after two bites or so...and hence it is probably best eaten in under three bites but I'm the type of person that likes to savor every moment of a good thing.

I'm not quite sure why the place draws soo many people. It is a good sized looks like there is even a second floor. The food is good; the service is is clean with no strange smells to speak of other than a tantalizing aroma of quality food...

The large number of people in line is rather reminiscent of that at the 85 Degrees Bakery. The waiting experience is more pleasant or it may just be that the customers are less pushy here.

Perhaps considering that there is quite a large number of fast food restaurants nearby, Porto's is considered to be quite a fancy establishment even though it appears to be just pastries and sandwiches.

I have had their little cakes and sweets on my birthday last year at the establishment in Glendora. The sweets are beautifully created but I thought that the taste was just ok to the point that I didn't even finish it right away. Then my cat died three days later and the sweets just sat in the fridge til my mom finished them up...that is how impressed I am with their sweets.

I'm not much of a coffee drinker but they have a huge selection of different types of the caffeinated beverage and could be heaven for coffee addicts. Their guava smoothie is good, freshly made with all natural ingredients, nothing wierd. But with the same price, you could go out and buy a carton of Sun Tropics Guava juice which is exactly what it tastes like.

Sandwiches are freshly made, but again I felt that there was something lacking in the taste. More butter on the bread perhaps. However, I would definitely go back for the potato balls and chicken croquettes if I were in the area again.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Creme de la Crepe

It is Happy Hour week in Old Town Pasadena. Creme de la Crepe was the only establishment we came across that still had the happy hour that night while we were waiting for our movie to start.

Their wines were only $3 per glass during this happy hour. My buddy was hungry and also ordered the soup du jour- Cream of Broccoli and also the Beef Tartar which is essentially a rare filet mignon pate with a piece of toast on top.

The service was pretty good. However, the place is very much like a hole in the wall. It is very tiny in one of those alleys and sometimes things can get overlooked such a very sticky stool the table we were led to had. We waited for seats at the bar (in order to take advantage of the happy hour deals).

The place is authentically French as in the servers are French- they speak with French accents and you hear them speak French to one another. Though I did not have a taste of the food, they were definitely prepared as delicately as they do in France. I have been to restaurants that claim to be French but all they do is serve pastas and things smothered in cheese with wine. I have not been impressed with those at all and gave up looking for an authentic French place outside of France. It is true what they say- you find things when you least expect it.

I would definitely come back here and actually eat something next time. It has a pleasant ambience and they have musicians that perform.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Rock Bottom Brewery

I had a very late dinner with a Navy buddy at Rock Bottom Brewery Friday night in Long Beach.

It is a good place to meet people who have a tendency to arrive late as the restaurant closes as late as 2am and hence one does not need to worry about the time or a need to "migrate".

My initial impression was that the service was poor. This was because the server did not introduce herself like most other establishments. She just took me to the booth, didn't ask me if the location was OK, asked if I was waiting for someone and left. I had wanted to order a starter at least while I waited and maybe even a drink. I would have liked a martini but I think the place serves only beers and the ilk.

I saw an unoccupied booth at the window and asked if I could sit there instead and she kind of gave me a look like "why would I care?" but she said yes. I moved the utensils and menus and glass of water and she did at least help wipe the table, though only the spot with the ring of water.

My buddy arrives and we order starters. I get the Green Chile Mac and Cheese. He gets the Nachos. They were pretty good. And the salsa that came with the mac and cheese was rather tasty and not too spicy for those who don't like spicy things. The Nachos came in a rather impressive rectangular spread.

For our main entrees, he ordered the Lobster and Shrimp Tacos. And I got Chicken Fried Chicken. It came with slaw but I asked not to have any so they substituted with veggies which is nice. Well after I had the Mac and Cheese, I was actually pretty stuffed and the Chicken Fried Chicken wasn't impressive enough for me to finish. They put some kind of cheese gravy sauce on top. As for the mashed potatoes- well it could use some butter...I didn't like it too much, but I am not a fan of white gravy. They made it with cheddar. The best Chicken Fried Chicken I've ever had was in Oklahoma and nothing has beaten it.

As for my buddy, he did not like his tacos. He thought it would be one taco with lobster and the other with shrimp but it was actually just one which they mixed together. When the waitress came and asked how everything was, he said he didn't like his dish too much. So, when the bill came, she had deducted the cost of the tacos from our bill which was rather nice. After that, we didn't think she was so bad. My buddy had asked her what she recommended and she couldn't give a straight answer. Most servers would just say everything on the menu was good even if they didn't know. And also, he pretty much had to chase her down for some paper napkins. They only give you the cloth kind that wraps around the utensils when you sit down. She just didn't seem to be paying that much attention to us, but the place didn't look that packed. It seemed like most people were just there to drink and have snacks.

It is just a typical American restaurant with a bar. There are some interesting items on the menu, but I'm not so sure I would return.

Parking is a pain. You could do metered parking which is free after 9pm but I didn't find any spaces at all. I ended up parking at the structure next to the restaurant. However, it was like $1.25 for each 15 minutes. Fortunately, Rock Bottom offers validation for the first 2 hours so I only had to pay $5.