Sunday, January 28, 2007

Cafe ZooLoo /Cafe ZooLu/ZooLoo Cafe??

O.K., this is my favorite restaurant in Laguna Beach and until writing this post, I never realized it's got some a.k.a.'s!? Google it and you'll find it listed all 3 ways! Oh, well...the important thing is you'll find it. ZAGAT deems the swordfish "The best on the planet" and I won't argue that one. Besides, you gotta love any chef that enjoys a glass of wine while he's cooking!

Last night we celebrated Jamie's birthday and ZooLoo was the place. It's off the beaten path (so tougher for tourists to find) small, cozy, eclectic and always hoppin. The decor is reminiscent of my first apartment at the beach, functional, eclectic and cool (no interior decorator used here).

Swordfish is their specialty and the sampler platter is a must. Three (baseball sized) pieces of swordfish arrive on your plate, each served topped with it's own sauce and resting on a bed of mashed potatoes. The sauces (Macadamia Butter, Mango Papaya and Cajun Spiced) are distinctive yet don't 'get in the way' of the other.
This trio is outstanding and is what I order every time I go, so this time needed to be different. Jamie ordered the Cod Fish drizzled with coconut oil, fried leeks, shredded coconut and sprouts, and served with coconut mashed potatoes and peppered mango sauce .

I ordered the 16 ounce Cowboy Steak served with a beef stock pepper sauce and horseradish spiked mashed potatoes.

Perfect for sharing and it's a good thing....I was only able to knock off about 1/4 of that steak. Needless to say, my 16 year old was very happy to see that doggy bag!

None of us are big on deserts, so we asked the server to surprise us with a slice of something we could share...his choice was chocolate cake with raspberry cream sauce..

Dinner averages about $30 a plate and is worth every penny! I'll chalk this up to another outstanding evening of good wine, great food and incredible friends. To be 'rich in life''s all good!

ZooLoo Cafe
860 Glenneyre St.
(bet. St. Anne's Dr. & Thalia St.)
Laguna Beach, CA 92651

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Eat Your Veggies!

O.K… time to come clean. I was a vegetarian for about 11 years (even through one of my pregnancies) and loved it! After my late husband had his kidney transplant, he was told to drastically (if not completely) cut meat from his diet, since animal protein is difficult to digest and hard on the new kidney. To support him, I went cold 'turkey' & cut out meat completely, while he continued to order his Porter House medium rare. Although I've been eating meat again for about the last 7 years I still crave that great veggie meal, the one that fills you up without that 'stuffed’ feeling as you push yourself away from the table.

Years ago I found a vegetarian gem in Newport Beach called The Last Mango. It was an upscale eatery with an eclectic menu, beautiful presentation and most importantly, delicious food. Everything was outstanding but for whatever reason, they closed shop. Since then, I've been searching the O.C. for something similar with no success....until now!

I LOVE innovative vegetarian fare...something more than the standard vegetable stir fry & rice, and The Veggie Grill has it! The menu includes hearty Wheat Meat & Tempeh based sandwiches and sides. I've been several times now and not a single disappointment. On one visit my son ordered the Chill Out Wings (bite size 'chickin' with tangy BBQ sauce). I've enjoyed the Philly Peppered Steak (pepper seasoned wheat meat w/mushrooms, caramelized onion & cashew cheese), and the Don’t be a Chicken ('chillin' chickin', chipotle ranch, lettuce, tomato & red onion) all served on a whole wheat bun with slaw or you can upgrade to Sweetheart (sweet potato) fries, steamin kale or spring salad. They serve a variety of teas, natural sodas, organic beers and organic & low-sulfite wines.

Last night I had an empty nest and decided to treat myself. I was determined to order something new (I tend to stick to my favorites) and went for the Papa's Portobello & Sausage. This baby is loaded with Portobello mushrooms, Italian sausage-spiced wheat meat, tomato, basil & garlic pomodoro, caramelized onions & pesto.....come hungry! The slaw is lightly dressed and not overly sweet. Couple this up with a glass of organic house red and you're set!

The crowd is diverse, as you'd expect since they're located across the street from UCI. The decor is fresh and clean, lending itself fun & relaxed. The service is fast and friendly with none of the inconvenient hic ups you might experience in a such a new establishment. It's the perfect pre-movie dinner spot or just the place to grab something that's quick and healthy. The menu includes starters, entree salads, soups, sandwiches & burgers as well as deserts and a kids meal!

I got plenty of ribbing from my family and friends while I was on my 'reprieve from meat', but I tell you, once you've had good vegetarian'll be hooked. The Veggie Grill, you've got to try it!!!!!

Papa's Portobello & Sausage...$8.50
Organic Wine... $5.50

The Veggie Grill
4213 Campus Drive
Irvine, Ca. 92614

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sushi 5

After reading Elmo's review @ Monster Munching I decided to call my blond haired sushi lovin 16 year old and ask if he was for up sushi with mom (it's the best way I know of to get him to eat out with me!). Was this a trick question??? He informed me he was 'in' and off we went.

Sushi 5 is owned by the same folks @ Sushi Laguna in Laguna Beach. I was impressed by the simple, clean decor and frankly.... I kind of like the revolving sushi bar. It's the perfect was to 'take the edge off' without the expense of the regular 'sushi induced coma' evening. There are several revolving sushi bars in the Portland area, and Mike & I make sure to hit them several times before I head back home.

We opened the place at 5 o'clock sharp and waited for the magic to begin. Our server explained how everything worked and we got busy. Some sushi & rolls are ordered, then sent 'down the line' numbered, matching the number of your seat. Pretty nifty I thought...I want everyone to know that's my yellow tail heading this way.

10 plates later and full bellies, the damage came to $25 (food only). We'll be back!

Sushi 5
13962 Newport Ave
Tustin, Ca. 92780