Jul
27
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brunch, Calabasas, California, Los Angeles, United States on July-27-2017

We had a pretty good dinner experience at Pedaler’s Fork with some exceptions.. It was our second time here (We also visited for brunch a few months back…our experience was mixed – one of us loved it and the other didn’t)

This time around it was mostly positive in this bicycle themed upscale New American restaurant on the edge of Los Angeles which, for some reason, featured a child sitting under the otherwise empty table next to us. We weren’t sure if this was a regular feature and the kid wasn’t talking.

The bread service was pretty good…an assortment of breads served in a cast-iron skillet (what food isn’t improved when served in a cast iron skillet?) including sourdough, pretzel bread and a zucchini style bread which reminded me of some Irish soda bread’s. The only issue with the bread is that it was a little soft, sort of felt like it had been heated in the microwave which, of course, no bread should ever be heated in.

I also had the The Basil Julep cocktail which was tasty enough (sweet the way I like it) though I didn’t get much of a basil flavor in it. There was plenty of basil init, but perhaps it wasn’t muddled enough as it was pretty much just a visual presence.

Basil Julep

Basil Julep

The entrees we ordered were great in terms of taste.

I had the the Sweet Corn Borsettini Pasta. The little pasta pockets, with a four cheese filling, were served on a bed of sweet corn. It tasted fabulous and beautifully displayed, however it was in the end very little food. Only 7 of the small borsettinis, left me still pretty hungry at the end. $22 is pretty expensive for a vegetarian pasta dish and the amount of food on the plate didn’t seem to match that price.

Sweet Corn Borsettini Pasta

Sweet Corn Borsettini Pasta

My wife enjoyed the Quinoa Cakes a lot. It was a beautiful vegan meal with very tasty vegetables, carrots, broccoli and shiitake mushrooms. She noted that the quinoa cake were not actually the star of the meal but it all went nicely together. Next time she’d get the aioli on the side as it was a little overpowering and too salty.

Quinoa Cakes

Quinoa Cakes

We don’t live particularly close, but there are only so many options of this kind of restaurant in the deep west Valley, so I don’t think this would be a destination restaurant for us, but we would probably come in again if we were in the area.

Pedaler’s Fork
23504 Calabasas Rd,
Calabasas, CA 91302
http://www.pedalersfork.com/


 
Jul
26
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Gluten Free, Los Angeles, Pizza, Reseda, United States on July-26-2017

As fans of Humble Bee Bakery and Cafe, we’ve been wanting to try Humble Bee Pie for a while, but unfortunately we’re outside of their delivery area so we were glad when we happened to be in the area on a Sunday (which in our family is the sacred pizza night.)

It’s a small store front with just a few tables so I’d imagine it’s mostly a delivery operation, so don’t head there with a big crowd or with expectations of a dining room like their other restaurant.

The food was great. As a family of three with different taste we were worried about ordering three large expensive pizzas, but luckily they have an unadvertised personal size that made this really doable. Our son (8 years old) had a basic cheese and sauce pizza which he liked.

My wife had a gluten free version of Lauren’s Vegan Pizza which she also liked, though after a while the roasted garlic and rosemary spread became a bit too rich for her…Though the gluten free dough was spot on. She’d go back and try something tomato sauce based.

Lauren's Vegan with Gluten Free Crust

Lauren’s Vegan with Gluten Free Crust

And I had a Walk on the Sunny Side without the bacon lardons, which I thought was very tasty, though also a bit rich after a while.

Walk on the Sunny Side

Walk on the Sunny Side

It’s great to have quality artful pizza creations in the Valley…especially in the middle of the valley, though we wish they connected with one of the delivery services like Doordash that would extend their delivery range to us on the other side of Sepulveda as we enjoy the convenience of ordering online. (Though I recall they did say they do deliver as far as us sometimes, but they have to not be as busy and we have to call in to make it happen.)

We’ll definitely be back. Someday! Sooner if we lived closer.

Humble Bee Pie
7550 Tampa Avenue # G
Reseda, CA 91335
https://www.hellohumblebee.com/humble-bee-pie


 
Jul
26
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Chicago, Illinois, Tapas, United States on July-26-2017

The Purple Pig restaurant is reason enough on its own to visit Chicago. We’re from Los Angeles but find ourselves in Chicago once a year for a couple nights ahead of a nearby conference we attend. We discovered the Purple Pig by accident during our first visit when we attempted to visit a wine, cheese and chocolate restaurant across the street that happened to be closed for remodeling. “The Purple Pig” sign across the street was inviting…”Let’s see what’s over there” I said to my wife after it became a reality that we wouldn’t be eating at a wine, cheese and chocolate restaurant. We have returned every year and The Purple Pig has become the one given thing that we will do on every visit to Chicago.

On this particular visit, everything that came out of the kitchen looked gorgeous, like super artsy yummy comfort food, and the looks of joy on people’s faces when their food arrived at their tables were pretty universal.

They have extensive wine, beer, aperitifs, liqueurs and cocktails (classic and house) menus. I had the Green Acres cocktail (egg white, chocolate bitters, tequila.) It had extraordinary texture and was very well mixed.

Green Acres Cocktail

Green Acres Cocktail

I also opted for “3 cheeses”. These folks really know what they’re doing with cheese. I don’t remember all three that I had, but I’m fairly confident that from now on, if it’s not the 10 Year Old Cheddar, they served me, it’s not as good as it can get.

3 Cheeses

3 Cheeses

One dessert item we didn’t order, but which we saw walk by several times was the “Sicilian Iris” was a brioche ball with ricotta and chocolate chips, covered with powdered sugar. It looked like it would kill you dead with its awesomeness. Some day Purple Pig…some day.

There are many options for vegetarians, and drinkers, and people who just love food in general.

The place is also always super crowded…at least the five times we’ve stopped in over the last several years. But we’ve never actually had to wait for a table despite this…just lucky, or maybe most people waiting were standing by for outdoor seating.

On a side note, years after we first visited The Purple Pig, we discovered it on a list of America’s ten best restaurants. What an incredibly happy accident discovering this place.

The Purple Pig
500 N Michigan Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
https://thepurplepigchicago.com/


 
Jul
26
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Brunch, Chicago, Coffee, Illinois, United States on July-26-2017

Cafe Integral was our choice for breakfast on one of two mornings we spent in Chicago. We were overall disappointed. It starts with the menu. If you’re a person with a special diet of any kind (vegetarian, gluten free), or maybe just someone who checks out restaurant menus to help make a choice about where to go, then you rely on online menus being up to date. (Putting aside for the moment restaurants whose menus change frequently or who at least bother to state the menu online is just a sample of what they offer.) Cafe Integral’s menu in person was different than what appeared online…the main difference being fewer choices. When asked about this, the staff informed us they recently had “scaled back” their menu. Okay, so please also scale it back online so we can make an informed choice about whether to give you a shot.

I had the Pour Over coffee (as any good brunch loving citizen of the morning should.) It wasn’t bad but would have liked it bolder rather than smoother.

 

Coffee

Coffee

I also ordered the Breakfast sandwich without meat. (You have a choice of sourdough or bagel…I picked sourdough. For vegetarians avocado is an option instead of meat which is nice. (Except I don’t really like avocado that much so I opted to not have it. The 2-year cheddar it comes with is cooked in with the eggs which unfortunately had the effect of it not being noticeable visually or by taste. I had to ask the server if they had forgotten the cheese because it was really a non-presence. Also, the omelet eggs were over fried

Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast Sandwich

My wife liked the sunny side eggs and greens she ordered. (Assembled from the “Sides & Extras” Menu.) She thought it was perfectly fine but nothing amazing.

Sidse of Sunny Side Eggs and Avocado

Sidse of Sunny Side Eggs and Avocado

Side of Greens

Side of Greens

We would have loved to try the Yucca Hash that was listed on the online menu and looked pretty amazing by description, but was, unfortunately a victim of the “scaling back” of their menu.

Our impression of the staff also wasn’t so great…not a particularly friendly bunch. The first person we encountered when we walked in told us in a kind of not-so-happy-to-see-us manner that we should order then sit. Later the person who brought our food seemed visibly inconvenienced by the lack of space on the table where she had to put our order. She also seemed like I was interrupting her when I later asked where the bathroom was. It just seems basic that staff at service oriented businesses should go out of their way to be friendly and welcoming…especially in the morning when your interactions with other human beings can set the tone for your whole day.

Overall all of our experience here was disappointing.

Cafe Integral
At the Freehand Hotel
19 East Ohio St.
Chicago, IL 60611
https://freehandhotels.com/chicago/cafe-integral/

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Jul
26
    
Posted (Rick Lupert) in Chicago, Illinois, United States on July-26-2017

We had a meal at the much-lauded Girl & the Goat restaurant in the West Loop neighborhood of Chicago. Our experience as mostly vegetarians didn’t blow us away, though we certainly can see if we were omnivores that this place would probably have rated higher with us.

First of all Kudos for having a separate vegetarian section on the menu. Though it’s important to note that 2 items on the “V” menu were not actually vegetarian. One had fish sauce in it and I don’t remember what the other was.) My wife had the Kohlrabi Salad (fennal, evasion, toasted almonds and blueberries) menu and thought it was amazing.

Kohlrabi Salad

Kohlrabi Salad

I ordered sweet’n spicy brioche from the Bread menu, without the “spring lamby jam”. The bread itself is house-made and pretty good. The honey samba butter it came with didn’t have any honey flavor though. I like bread and better as much as the next gluten-full guy, but was disappointed about the absent honey flavor, especially since I was paying for bread.

Focaccia

Focaccia

We also shared the Roasted Cauliflower from the V menu. It had a pretty good and very present pickle flavor.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

I also enjoyed the Green Garlic Potato Pierogies though it was a bit of a sparse plate relative to being most expensive item on the vegetarian menu. It had a bit of a pickled flavor on it like the cauliflower so we started to get a little “pickled-out.” They were also a little bit greasy.

Pierogies

Pierogies

Overall the food was good but rich.

They did offer gluten-free bread which was thoughtful except it was made with Parmesan is so not suitable if you’re also dairy free. (Which my wife is.)

They did however offer separate gluten-free and dairy free menus. If we ate meat I’m sure this place would’ve been amazing (especially goat). My wife and go back for the salad.

Girl & The Goat
809 W. Randolph St.
Chicago, IL 60607
http://www.girlandthegoat.com/