Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

5 Stops on a Culinary Road Trip

One of the best things about taking a vacation is going to new restaurants and checking out the local fare. On our recent road trip to the Southwest, I enjoyed some of my all time favorite foods. If you are a foodie and like to read about food adventures, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as I take you on a Culinary Adventure Road Trip!Road Trip Food

1. Green River, Utah

Chow Hound

I wanted to go to a family style diner, somewhere I could relax and stretch out a bit after a very long drive, and a nice server would wait on me. When we pulled off the highway and arrived at the halfway point between Las Vegas, Nevada and Boulder, Colorado we were literally in the middle of nowhere. Green River is a small town in Utah and for some reason it seemed very desolate. I had looked up restaurants in the area online ahead of time and there seemed to be quite a few. It’s the only populated area around and I expected there to be restaurants dotted along the main road. Not so much. Maybe we got off an exit too soon, or too late but we certainly didn’t see any signs of life around.

It was mid day and even though we had an early breakfast and snacks on the road, we had built up an appetite. As we drove down the main street looking for signs of life that hopefully lead us to a full service restaurant, one of the boys spotted a burger joint. A box style, family run, three table, stick in the mud. It was awesome! We had Green Chile Cheese Burgers and Fried Tater Tots. It was the first time we saw green chile burgers on a menu on this trip and the boys and I had been looking forward to having one. I don’t think they used New Mexico Green Chiles, but they were big, juicy and had the tasty tang and spicy heat that we were hoping for. After lunch, the chocolate soft serve ice cream hit the spot! We were ready to take on the long road ahead of us once again.

Chow Hound 3-28-13

Chow Hound Tables

ice cream

When we finally arrived at our destination  after a grueling day of driving which included an incredible excursion over the Rocky Mountains, we didn’t care where we ate – we just wanted food. The boys went to Denny’s and brought me back a pancake sandwich that I devoured in my hotel room. In the morning, we had just enough time to grab coffee and a continental breakfast provided by the hotel. It was pretty good. We stayed at the Best Western Kiva Inn near Fort Collins, Colorado. It was one of the nicest Best Westerns I had ever stayed at. If you are in the area, I highly recommend it.

2. Fort Collins, CO

Lark Burger

For lunch that day we had specific instructions from a friend to try Lark Burger. We were told they had awesome burgers. For some reason, I didn’t expect to find a high-end gourmet eatery in Fort Collins. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection and the quality of the food I tried. It was totally yummy and the prices were good for what you got. It turns out that Lark Burger is a chain, so if you have a chance to try it let me know. I had a Larkburger with Swiss Cheese and Truffle & Parmesan Fries. I loved every bite!

From Fort Collins, we drove to Boulder, Colorado. The first thing we did after checking in at the hotel was go on a factory tour of Celestial Seasonings. Even though we planned on being in town all weekend, it was a holiday so this was our only chance. The kids weren’t too interested and we had just experienced quite a bit of “togetherness” over the last 48 hours, so my hubby and I decided to go it alone. We had a blast! We have both always loved Celestial Seasonings teas. On the way there we reminisced of the past thirty or so years that we have enjoyed the herbal tea, the encouraging words on the packages, the unique artwork and our favorite, the Sleepy Time Bear. Besides the fact that we have both loved the product since childhood, we both love taking factory tours.

3. Boulder, Co

Celestial Seasonings

I am sorry to say that we did not get to eat at the Celestial Cafe because it closed early for the holiday. But we did enjoy the Tea Room very much and it deserves a stop on the Culinary Adventures Road Trip! When we arrived we were given our “pass” to the factory tour (it was a small package of blueberry herbal tea) and to unlimited hot and cold herbal tea tasting. There is a snack bar and a gift shop where you can buy anything and everything tea related and Celestial Seasonings trademarked. The tour itself was quite impressive. Our favorite was the Mint Room where all the mint is stored exclusively from the rest of the herbs and teas. Everything smelled remarkable and refreshing! We learned a lot about tea and herbs from around the world.

Turley’s

That night, we met my cousin for dinner. She has lived in Boulder for a number of years and qualifies as a local. We discussed in advance where we should eat and since it is a local favorite, this fit the bill. Turley’s serves buffalo meat as part of their very extensive organic and “clean” menu, which was something the boys wanted to try. I had a hard time deciding what to have since I was still full from the burgers over the past few days and all the tea I drank! I ended up having the Chicken Pot Pie. It was a little dry with a pizza dough kind of crust rather than a flaky pie crust. It was pretty good. I never saw the food on the boy’s plates. It vanished before I could take a picture. It must have been good!

I enjoyed a wonderful, fresh and hearty meal at Turley's in Boulder Co.
I enjoyed a wonderful, fresh and hearty meal at Turley’s in Boulder Co.
Turley's provided an elegant atmosphere, excellent service, and great food.  A perfect place to visit with family!
Turley’s provided an elegant atmosphere, excellent service, and great food. A perfect place to visit with family!

4. Broomfield, CO

Flatz Restaurant

Easter Brunch at the Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel was to die for! It was very pricey, but you would expect that at a fine restaurant located in a four star hotel on a holiday weekend. The buffet menu was extensive combining unique chef prepared dishes with hometown favorites and brunch classics. Everything was displayed beautifully, the service was exceptional and the meal was a dream. Especially the bottomless mimosas!

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Boulder Cafe

It was very difficult to pick a restaurant in the Pearl Street area. There were plenty of choices and everything looked amazing. The boys are clued into finding the local fare and skipping the chain restaurants and things we normally eat. So, it was hard to resist an eatery called the Boulder Cafe. It is right in the center of Pearl Street Mall. It has inside and patio dining. The place felt authentically local, with a cafe menu, oyster bar, fondues and “Rocky Mountain” cuisine. It looked like a great place to take a date and there was a young clientele. I assumed everyone there to be college students. At this point, still stuffed from the reckless vacation eating I had been doing, I had an Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap appetizer for my meal. It was such a bountiful helping, I shared it with the boys. They also chose light meals that ended up not being quite enough to fill them. They finished every last bite of my dinner! The best part was just hanging out with my boys. We walked the length of the mall and shopped a little. I got them to go in LUSH with me and they got me to go in Rocket Fizz with them.

A cool brew at the Boulder Cafe
A cool brew at the Boulder Cafe
The boys toast with their sodas from Rocket Fizz on a cool Spring night in Boulder, CO
The boys toast with their sodas from Rocket Fizz on a cool Spring night in Boulder, CO

In the morning, we rushed to check out of the hotel and get to the college tour at the University of Colorado. We had no time for breakfast, so it was “hotel room” coffee, tea, granola bars and juice on the way. Then we grabbed a bite to eat at the cafeteria at the college before we got back on the road for our next, and final stop on our road trip. Boy, were we famished when we were driving along the dry, dusty road to New Mexico! As we approached each little town, my husband would ask, “Do you want me to stop to find a place to eat here?” We were all thinking the same thing. If we stopped now, we won’t be able to eat when we go through Santa Fe. We would drive the entire distance just to eat real New Mexico chile! So, we held out until 9 PM.

5. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen

As we rolled into one of my favorite all time places to visit, we started naming restaurants we knew in Santa Fe. We did a Yelp search based on our location and we selected the closest “New Mexican” restaurant we could find. As we walked in to Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, it seemed vaguely familiar. I may have been there before. I wasn’t sure. I know for sure I felt at home. It may have been the smell of tortillas and sopapillas cooking, the smiles on the faces of the servers, the families eating a late Monday night dinner, and the old adobe that appealed to me. It was familiar. It was wholesome cooking, the food that my family makes. We took a quick look at the menu and we all looked at each other, who would ask first? “Red or green?” We all have our favorites and we like both! One of the boys ordered exactly that – both, referred to as “Christmas.” Red and green sauces made with New Mexico chiles.

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen served it up fast, large portions of all of our favorites, complete with sopapillas and honey. I had my favorite, Stacked Enchiladas with Chile Adovada and Red Chile with a side of sour cream to cut the heat. The heat of New Mexico chile always gets me at first. Luckily, I had the chance to eat it quite a bit during our visit over the next few days and I was able to adjust! It was an amazing meal. It had been far too long!

Everything is a blur after that! We spent a few days with family and ate wonderful food while we enjoyed being together. The boys managed to get out to their favorite local restaurants in New Mexico like Twisters Burritos and Dion’s Pizza. On our way home we stopped at a Cracker Barrell in Flagstaff, Arizona. I don’t have any more food pictures to share from the trip. It turned out to be a fun Culinary Adventure Side Trip that I hope you enjoyed.

Have you been to any of the restaurants listed here? Do you have any suggestions on where to eat in New Mexico, Colorado, or Utah? Let me know! I would love to hear about your foodie adventures!

So, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging!  If you are following the entire Six States in Seven Days Road Trip Saga, I left off describing the exciting adventure just as we made it over the Rocky Mountains.  Stay tuned for more fun!  I would love to share with you what I did to make this trip fun for myself and how our family survived driving the rest of the 1000 miles or so through Boulder, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico and back to our home sweet home in Southern California.

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

The Yard House

The Location

We are lucky to have some good restaurants in Northridge and most of them are near or at the Northridge Fashion Center.  This week marks the opening of a wonderful chain restaurant at the mall.  It is located where the Cost Plus World Market has been for the past several years.  I was saddened by the closing of that store and many others in the “new” section of the mall which is adjacent to the movie theaters.  I am now hopeful that having the Yard House there will bring more new stores and restaurants to that part of town.

The Yard House is on the Plummer Street side of the mall and the closest parking is near the movie theaters.  Parking is free, but they do provide valet parking.

YARD HOUSE NORTHRIDGE

9301 Tampa Avenue
Northridge, CA 91324
818-721-0085

HOURS OF OPERATION
Open 11:00 am daily

Food Last Call
Sun-Thu 12:30am
Fri-Sat 1am

Alcohol Last Call
Sun-Thu 1am
Fri-Sat 1:20am

The Yard House

The Restaurant

The Yard House has a Facebook Page that has pictures and events posted.  It seems like a great place to work and the staff appear to enjoy being part of a community.  Their online presence makes you feel like a part of something and I liked that.

The service is very good.  I have eaten at the one in Lancaster, CA and I enjoyed it.  I went there for a late dinner with my nephew after a photo shoot.  We drove out of our way to eat there and I was so hungry.  I thought it might be out of my price range that evening and they had a huge menu.  I just wanted a quick bite!  I was pleasantly surprised that they had a late night happy hour!  We ordered and appetizer and sliders.  We also did a sampler of their brews.  Everything was terrific and very affordable!

The Food

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to attend a VIP party at the Yard House in Northridge which preceded a “Soft Opening.”  What does all that mean?  It means free food and drinks!  I had the unique opportunity to try samples of many of the menu items as well as awesome full size cocktails from the bar.  I want to thank the Yard House and their marketing team for having this event.  I was so pleased to be able to share with my online community by Tweeting and posting pictures to Instagram about the event.  This is why bloggers are invited and a friend from my So Cal Lady Bloggers group on Facebook was nice enough to include me.

As soon as I walked in the door, servers were offering me samples of food which were served in bite sized portions on small plates.  Here is what I got to try:

  • FIRECRACKER WINGS boneless chicken, tossed in a spicy sesame garlic plum glaze garnished with green onions, the
  • BLUE CRAB CAKES with mango papaya chutney, passion fruit beurre blanc and tomato oil
  • SHIITAKE GARLIC NOODLES tossed with butter, garlic & shiitake mushrooms, topped with parmesan & chives
  • GINGER CRUSTED NORWEGIAN SALMON wasabi mashed potatoes, snow peas, carrots and spicy peanut vinaigrette topped with fried carrot strings
  • MINI CREME BRULEE with vanilla bean custard and chocolate topped with caramelized bananas

My son (who was graciously my “plus one”) and I made our way through the very large restaurant and found an open table outside on the spacious patio.  It was drizzling but there were large umbrellas over all the tables and powerful heaters so we were very comfortable outside.  Our server, Sean, came by and asked if he could bring us anything and took our drink orders.  He answered our questions and made us feel right at home.  He brought me my first of the two free drinks that were included for the VIP event.

Here are the drinks that I tried from the Specialty Drink Menu:

  • ESCALADE MARGARITA 1800 silver tequila, cointreau, hpnotiq, sweet & sour, fresh lime & orange, sugar rim
  • SOUTHERN BELLE jeremiah weed sweet tea vodka, lemonade, fresh strawberries and pineapple
  • MOJITO cruzan citrus rum or traditional |  mango • pomegranate • strawberry

I give the Yard House in Northridge an A+!  Everything was wonderful!  I really liked the Margarita.  I didn’t finish the Southern Belle because it was too fruity and sweet for me.  Sean offered me something else to try and I asked for the Mojito.  Also a bit sweet, I added some water and ice and it was perfect.

The music they played was fantastic, I loved it because it was mostly 80’s music and I thought I must fit the demographic for this place perfectly!  My teenage son enjoyed the TV screens all around (yes, even on the patio.)  When the event was over and we had finished our second serving of the Banana Creme Brulee, Sean told us that we could stay and were welcome to order off the menu if we wanted to pay for a meal or any more drinks.  We decided to take a look at the menu.

The Confession(s)

Confession #1, I ate too much!  I tried all of those samples and because they were mini versions I felt like I had eaten a small amount.  I realized that I was full just about the time our entrees arrived!

Confession #2, I drank too much!  I didn’t drink all three drinks, but they were full size drinks with a lot of alcohol and fruit.  Too sweet for me being a Diabetic.  My bad!  Slap my hand, please!  I should have had a glass of wine.  The Yard House has a great big menu with lots of choices, an extensive wine list and a beer menu.  They also have a FRESH & SKINNY drink menu!  The next time I go there, I will be sure to try a cocktail from that menu.  The Yard House caters to an eclectic crowd and has specialty menues to serve any taste.  In addition to the “skinny” drink choices, there are full menues for the vegan, the gluten sensitive, the health conscious, the gourmet and even kids!

My son and I enjoyed the foods we tried.  Here is what we ordered from the menu:

  • (MAC + CHEESE)2 chicken breast, applewood bacon, wild mushrooms, cheddar, parmesan, campanelle pasta and truffle oil
  • CHICKEN ENCHILADA STACK pasilla peppers, garlic cream, jack cheese, corn tortillas, pinto beans, tomatillo, red chili sauce and sour cream

Luckily, Dan (our second awesome server, yes we were there for a long time!) brought us a “doggie bag” to take home our left overs!

My nicely packaged left overs
My nicely packaged left overs
Melissa Reyes Miz Meliz http://mizmeliz.com
Miz Meliz Likes It!
With two yummy sauces "you could drink"
With two yummy sauces “you could drink”
A Juicy Mojito goes well with the Enchilada!
A Juicy Mojito goes well with the Enchilada!
photo by Melissa Reyes copyright 2012 Yard House #MizMeliz http://mizmeliz.com
The food samples were awesome!
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas

If you get a chance, you must go the Hofbrauhaus in Las Vegas!  I went there recently and I had a blast!  It was so much fun!

The Location

Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas
4510 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, Nevada 89169

This is what the front page of their website claims. . .

“As an exact replica of the legendary Hofbräuhaus in Munich, Germany, we take great pride in giving you an experience as authentic and unforgettable as the 400-year-old original. From the traditional Beer Hall bursting with nightly live entertainment, to the tree-lined Beer Garden, everything has a bold touch of Bavaria you won’t forget any time soon.”


I know I won’t forget my experience any time soon!  Located across the street from The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, the Hofbrauhaus has been rockin’ the house in Vegas since 2004.  This is what I was thinking as I was waiting to get in to this exciting place that had so many unknowns to me. . .  as I was watching people enter the restaurant in full German costume, yes, men were arriving dressed in lederhosen and women dressed in dirndl . . . I noticed that they seemed to be getting in right away.  They didn’t work there.  Maybe they had reservations. Hmmm, what did they know that I did not know?  Do you get a free drink if you dress up?  Was it dress up night on Saturday nights?  What is the catch?  Where are the cameras?  Were they getting punked? I later scoured the website and newsletter and found absolutely no mention of perks for dressing up.  Either these people dressed that way to enhance their dining experience or they were coming there straight from Germany (or a convention, perhaps?) It didn’t matter, because it did enhance my experience!  I loved it!

I found out later that people dress up for OktoberfestOktoberfest is a 16-day festival celebrating beer held annually  in Munich, Bavaria, Germany, running from late September to the first weekend in October. It was well past that time period when I was at the Hofbrauhaus, so I figure, it is always Oktoberfest there!  Why not?

The Restaurant

There was a very long wait but it was well worth it.  During the long wait, I looked at everything they sold at the gift shop.  There were lots of cute things to buy.  I tried on all the funny hats and pointed out all the sexy aprons and other fun things to my hubby.  I found it extremely Vegas style touristy and borderline cooky, but some friends that were waiting with us said it is EXACTLY like the Hofbrauhaus in Germany, including the gift shop.  There is also a bar in the waiting area so folks can start drinking as they wait.  I think the seating system and waiting area should be considered the 8th Wonder of the World because somehow they filter thousands of people through the front doors of the Hofbrauhaus every night.  There is one way in and one way out.  Everyone must go past the gift shop, just like Disneyland.  (Smart people.  We dropped another $35 on our way out and we bought one glass and lots of chocolate.)

I could hardly wait to get in!  Every time the door would swing open, I could hear music and singing.  At one point they were singing the National Anthem and everyone was standing on their seats and singing!  I was standing on my tippy toes to see into the main dining room.  I wanted to be where the action was.  I was also a little nervous that this crowd was going to be too rowdy.  Yes, even too rowdy for me! I was looking forward to trying some authentic German food.  What if I couldn’t see the menu?  What if I couldn’t hear the waiter?  I wanted to be able to ask questions and enjoy my meal.  And, by the way, I was really getting hungry!  Let me in!

The music was pumping throughout the whole building and got louder every time the doors opened.  People were singing along.  They were songs that I knew.  I wanted to be inside with a beer in hand, singing along.  Eventually, our party was called and we were taken inside.  We walked through the entire length of the first room, which was the Beer Hall, passed through a center area where they were roasting nuts and where the kitchen and restrooms were, then we were led to a huge patio area which was the indoor Beer Garden, that had about ten times the dining capacity as the main room.  This place was ginormous.  As we got further and further away from the action, I was saddened and relieved.  I wasn’t going to be standing on my chair singing at the top of my lungs with the rowdiest crowd in Las Vegas, but hey – I wasn’t going to be standing on top of my chair singing at the top of my lungs with the rowdiest crowd in Vegas!  I could eat and enjoy and ask questions.

I still drank a giant beer and sang out loud.  I was able to watch everything that was going on around me (there was a lot going on, more on that in a moment) and see what was happening in the Beer Hall on large screen TVs.  While I was waiting for my meal, I watched a stein holding contest.  Yes, it was a contest to see who could hold the one litre stein of beer the longest with one hand outstretched in front of them.  The winner got a $500 gift certificate to the Hofbrauhaus.  There was some stiff competition and I was amazed at how long some of the non-muscular people stayed in.  It did end up between a few Marine looking guys with big muscular arms whose veins in their necks looked like they were going to pop before they would let one drop of their beer spill much less drop their full stein!  I held a mini-contest at my table, and I was the winner!  (I think I was near the bottom of my stein by that point!)

The Food

For starters, I shared a Jumbo Complete– Giant pretzel served with “Obazter” cheese, sweet mustard, and onion mustard.  Yummy!

The beer I drank was the “bottom-fermented lager” made especially for Oktoberfest, called Hofbräu Oktoberfest.  It is said that this crisp beer is historically made with a higher than usual alcohol content and is brewed from pure water, the best quality malt and exquisite hops.  I am not much of a beer person, although I have tried many over the years.  This was very good.

I tried the Jägerschnitzel – Pork Cutlet “Hunter Style” topped with creamy Mushroom Sauce, Bacon and Onions, served with Spätzle (special German Noodles) and Cranberries.  It was amazing!  If I wasn’t full from the litre of beer that I drank by the time the food arrived, I would have eaten every last bite.  Trust me, I tried.  Everyone at my table loved the foods that they tried.  Everything was authentic and cooked by German chefs and was quite enjoyable.

Now for the confession. . .

I swear I did not participate in this, but I am guilty for watching and getting a “kick” out of it!  At the Hofbrauhaus, if you buy a shot of Jager, it is served to you by a Jager Girl (or boy) who spanks you with a paddle after you drink it.  In case you are not familiar with this practice and think you read that wrong, I will repeat it.  They spank you on the bottom with a paddle when you drink a shot of Jager at the Hofbrahaus.  And everyone watches and cheers you on!

Again, I scoured the Hofbrauhaus website looking for mention of this practice and could find none.  Was this another German Oktoberfest “thing” like the Chicken Dance, that everyone knows but doesn’t know how or why it started?  I wanted to know more.  I found this bit of information in the blog for the OktoberfestHaus ,which is an online store for everything related to Oktoberfest.  I found out that the spanking part is an American thing.  In fact, it is a Vegas thing.  What can I say?  I think it’s best to leave it at that and say nothing!

Please don’t tell me if you get spanked at the Hofbrauhaus, but let me know if you go there!  I hope you have as much fun (or more) than I did!

http://mizmeliz.com review of the Inn at the Seventh Ray, My Culinary Confessions
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Inn at the Seventh Ray

I can’t say enough about how wonderful I think the Inn at the Seventh Ray is.  I am glad that after all these years it is still a top notch restaurant.  The reviews are all impressive and their reputation has withstood the test of time.

I love to tell people my story of going there with my hubby when we were just dating and thinking he was going to propose to me when he gave me a beautiful little box to open on my birthday.  It was a lovely pair of crystal earrings from the shop at the restaurant, The Spiral Staircase.  Disappointed and wondering if our relationship would ever progress, I ate my very garlicy shrimp scampi silently.  Lucky for me, my relationship and the restaurant have flourished since then!

Recently, I asked my friend, Holly to have dinner with me.  We hadn’t gone out in a few weeks and we wanted to catch up with each other.  I was thinking sushi, when she suggested The Inn at the Seventh Ray.  “Yes!”  I said enthusiastically!  I just got paid and it will be quiet and something different.  I totally deserve a nice night out with my friend.

When I told my hubby that is where we were going, his voice went up an octave  “The Inn at the Seventh Ray?”  I think he wanted to join us, and I said, “Yep,” gave him a kiss, and happily skipped out the door.  I didn’t invite him because it was a girl’s night.  If he wants to take me there again, he can invite me!  (I’m still a little bitter about the almost-proposal after 22 years, I think.)

The Location

Nestled in the center of Topanga Canyon, the Inn at the Seventh Ray is on Old Topanga Canyon Road.  There is self parking around the area of the restaurant.  There are steps down to the seating area.  The tables are mostly outdoors.  There are heaters everywhere, so do not worry about getting a chill.  There are larger tables under a large canopy that feels like a gazebo.  Tables for two and four are located along the side of a small brook.  Even though the brook was completely dry at this time of year, there was the babbling sound of water from the fountain under the canopy.  The ambiance of this dimly lit five-star restaurant is elegant and romantic.

The Restaurant

The Inn at the Seventh Ray is well-known for its exceptional organic food.  They used to have a Sunday brunch that was out of this world.  I have been to a wedding there once and it may have been because I was pregnant at the time, but I had the most Heavenly salmon mousse that I will never forget! I read up on the current head chef, Bradley Miller. I expected to have a delightful meal and I was not disappointed.

The Food

Here is my confession, I don’t like to eat red meat.  I didn’t even expect to find red meat at the Inn at the Seventh Ray because at one time I had heard it was completely vegan.  But there is one thing that my mouth waters for, beef short ribs.  I love pork ribs, too.  But I recently had my mother-in-law’s short ribs and they were so good, when I read the description on the menu, I knew I was going to order it!  And, I digress, I had them again on Thursday at Grandma Kim’s.  Beef.  Me.  Three times in one week!  But nothing compared to the beef short rib at the Inn at Seventh Ray!

I had the Miso Braised Short Rib with Kimchi, Smoked Shiitake Mushrooms, Fingerling Potato, and Wagyu Jerky.  The rib meat was delicate, fall off the bone, tender, and divine.  I almost barked at Holly when she asked for a taste.  Of course she wanted to taste it, she is a chef and my best friend and part of what we do when we go out together is share things. But, I would have growled at anyone who came near my plate at that moment.  I must admit, I didn’t even try the fingerling potatoes or the jerky.  I was full from Maggie’s Farm Greens ( a large salad of Organic Baby Greens, Spiced Walnuts, Fig Crouton and Lemon Thyme Vinagrette) and the amazing appetizer we had shared, it was a Smoked Yellowtail Spread with Radish, Red Onion, Smoked Sea Salt, on Grilled French Bread and a Tabasco Pipettel.  We ate every last bit of that spread!  It was so yummy!

My meal was worth every penny and I have no regrets.  Being that I have no reasonable excuse to spend this amount of money on dinner, it wasn’t a birthday or an anniversary, tells you that I regard having dinner with my best friend pretty high up there!  It wasn’t outrageous and I will justify by saying that I might have spent the same amount on sushi, some Saki and a few Saporros, just saying! With a glass of Shiraz, my meal topped off at about $75.  The experience. . . priceless!

http://mizmeliz.com review of the Inn at the Seventh Ray, My Culinary Confessions
My dinner at the Inn at the Seventh Ray
http:mizmeliz.com My Culinary Confessions Food Lab Miz Meliz
Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

Food + Lab

First off, if I am writing about it, I liked it.  I don’t write bad reviews.  If an experience was poor, I will tell the manager and/or owner.  Hopefully it will help them to improve.  I had a great experience at Food + Lab and I want to tell you about it!

I went to Food Lab yesterday for lunch with my friend, Holly.  It was Holly’s choice and I had never heard of the place or been there before.  Holly had seen it and wanted to try it but had never been there either.  Holly is a chef, so I enjoy going out to eat with her.  She knows her stuff!  I can ask her anything.  She is discriminating about food and restaurants, understandably so, and she has a love of food that I can appreciate.  Yesterday was fun!

The Location

Food + Lab is on Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood. They have another location in Silverlake and they do catering.  There is parking in back.  They have a few sidewalk tables on the street side, seating indoors and a lovely patio in back.  We sat in the patio.

The Restaurant

I really liked what I saw at the Food Lab!  I was impressed with the lunch menu and I wanted to try everything!  You order at the counter and they bring the food to your table.  There is a case of cold salads and the kitchen is visible.  They have shelves of candy and nuts that they prepare and package there.  Everything is in little tubs and bottles and I thought it was clever, food and a lab.  I get it!  The counter service was helpful and charming.  Everything was clean and inviting.  I ate my share (plus one or two) of the sample chocolate covered fruit and nuts while I ordered and waited for my receipt.  Yum!

The Food

I really did want to try everything!  The first thing on the lunch menu sounded amazing to me,  ORGANIC CURRIED CHICKEN WITH LINGONBERRY CHUTNEY ON RAISIN WALNUT.  OMG.  My mouth was watering.  I always like to read the whole menu before I decide.  It was a good thing I did.  Because after reading about the TURKEY BREAST WITH BRIE, PEAR, and HONEY, the CUBAN STYLE PORK LOIN, GRUYERE, HAM, PICKLES & MUSTARD ON CIABATTA, and the SMOKED SALMON WITH CREME FRAICHE, CUCUMBER & LIME ZEST ON WHEAT, I saw it all the way at the bottom of the menu.  I will admit, I am a sucker for grilled cheese.  Any grilled cheese.  My brother makes the best.  I make the second best.  I died and went to Heaven when I tried the “Brie Melt” from The Grilled Cheese Truck (it comes with Double Cream Brie, Bourbon Chicken, Maple-glazed Yams, and Candied Walnuts on Rosemary Bread.)   So, I had to try this . . .

GRILLED CHEESE: GRUYERE, TALLEGIO & RACLETTE ON 5 GRAIN W. CARAMALIZED ONION & GRAINY MUSTARD!

It was amazing!  I must confess, I was talking so much with Holly that I only got one bite in when it was warm and gooey.  It had just enough of the rind from the brie in it to suit my taste, but Holly didn’t like that.  It was heavy on the carmelized onion, which was fine with me!  The five-grain bread was sliced thin and lightly toasted to perfection.  The grainy mustard was served on the side, which made me happy.  I didn’t end up trying it with the mustard, it was so good and I talked so much, I forgot.  I ate half of the sandwich there and took the other half home.

The salad we tried was off menu, it was chopped kale with shredded cheese.  I thought it was yummy and had a nice zest to it.  It was very fresh and colorful.  It was a good pair with my sandwich.  Holly had a chicken sandwich with a buffalo sauce on a ciabatta (I think, because I didn’t see this on the menu) that I tasted.  It was good, just enough spice for me.  But nothing prepared me for the experience I had yet to come.

I took the long way home on my trek back to the Valley from Hollywood.  While I was driving through the canyon, I reached over and opened the little Food + Lab box that I had on the passenger seat.  I reached in and grabbed a quarter of my sandwich.  It was surprisingly warm from sitting in the sun, I guess.  Just a bit warmer than room temp.  So, the cheese was a good consistency and was just a bit chewy.  To my delight, just a smidge of the grainy mustard had grazed the side of the crust.  I took the perfect bite.  In my mouth danced all the flavors that had been marinating together in that box.  I was blown away by the sweetness of the carmelized onions, the creaminess of the brie and other cheeses glued together, the tanginess of the mustard and the nuttiness of the seeds in the bread (reminiscent of pine nuts) and the way everything melted in my mouth was like rich butter.  I savored every last bite of that sandwich on my ride home through the canyon. Those flavors enhanced an otherwise perfect sunshiny top down ride on my favorite road!  It was so unexpected and thoroughly sinful!

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