Monday, April 27, 2009


When you ask around or search online for the "best burger in San Diego," it is inevitable that you come across the name Hodad's followed by crowds of fanboys (and fangirls). Our local publications have also ladled oodles of praise and positive reviews upon Hodad's. For example: Union Tribune's Sign On San Diego(lol). Monkeys are curious, so naturally I had to see what all the fuss was about.

Friggin' long ass line wrapped around the block at 1:30pm. An even longer line formed at 2:40pm. Must mean Hodad's grills and assembles some spankin' good burgers right? (I think you know where I'm going with this.)

This is cool. An order of half onion rings and half tater wedges. I wish more burger restaurants would follow this example so I don't have to order two separate full-order items. Not beer battered rings, but still above average. Nothing spectacular. Fried pretty well. Good timing for a perfect crisp exterior. Same can be said of the potato wedges. Both taste good & textures are spot-on. But, there is nothing that distinguishes these fried goodies from other fast-food joints'. The wedges could have came fresh from the Vons deli and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. That's not to say Vons doesn't make tasty wedges, of course.

Double bacon cheese burger. Bad and expensive choice. But, I must give credit where it is due. Hodad's bacon-burger comes with lots of bacon. They even slap on a nice hearty slice (not the usual packaged strips) of real bacon. Now the bad: too much bacon. My palate was overwhelmed by the taste of bacon and salt. Mostly salt. Couldn't really taste anything else. In a single burger, you will find several thick strips of bacon in addition to the generous slice I previously mentioned. Hodad's does not understand the meaning of "balance", much less "restraint". This is quite evident in the sheer amount of condiments piled onto the burgers. One would be wise to remove 60-75% of the veggies, spread, and pickles if he wishes to be able to bite into a burger. Patties are underwhelming and greasy like fast food chain patties, although they do taste meatier and richer.

Yes, I only bought and reviewed one burger, but you can still get a gist of what to expect at Hodad's: Not much. Erm...well, okay. You can expect much volume, but in the "yum" department, nothing's really going on.

Seated at the bar next to the cashiers who would frequently ask patrons how they liked their meal, I was able to overhear many glowing reviews. Unbelievable. I suspect that many people are reeled in and won over by the illusion of value (remember The Cheesecake Factory?). Shame.

After I paid for my meal, the casheir asked "So how did you like it?" I shrugged and gave an answer that summed up the Hodad's experience: "Meh."

By no means do I pretend to be an expert when it comes to food and the culinary arts, but I have eaten around. Hodad's simply isn't worth the time and money. But, if you MUST go, don't come back crying 'cuz I'll just giggle like a little Japanese schoolgirl and say "I tolja so!" ^__^

Like my review of The Cheesecake Factory and Sushi Deli 2, I am prepared for the incoming hate messages and hate mail(with lots of cussing) from the ignorati. Sooo I'll start it: Bring it. Give me all ya got, suckers! Don't be shy. Don't hold back. Online anonymity is awesome!

Best burger my ass.

5010 Newport Ave.
Ocean Beach, CA 92107

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Old Vine Cafe

Prepare to be wowed. the various tastes and sensations brought about by your imagination while viewing the following pictures, of course. Not my weak, uninspired writing.

Crispy Blue Salad
Organic Greens, Crispy Proscuitto, Fried Onions & Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing.

-Paired with a 2007 Reuscher-Haart Piesporter Riesling

Pairing this salad with a dry white wine is a very good idea if you intend to order it. The saltiness of the proscuitto and fried onions mandates it. Curiously enough, the dressing was not that heavy on the blue cheese taste. Thick, creamy dressing combined with all the fried goodies really kick-starts your appetite and wakes up your taste buds. It's a big bold salad. I dig it!

Veggie Quinoa Jambalaya
Cajun Quinoa & Seasonal Vegetables garnished with Fresh Cilantro

This was pretty interesting. My brother ordered it just for fun since we both wondered how a jambalaya could be tasty without meat. The usual jambalaya taste of spices is still there, but there's also quinoa's characteristic nuttiness. Even without the different meats you'd usually find in a jambalaya, this dish still holds its own and tastes "clean-n-simple". Solid alternative to a salad starter if you don't like to munch on rabbit food.

Sauteed Sea Scallops
Three Jumbo Scallops on a nest of Crispy Leeks finished with Tarragon Chardonnay Sauce

They were freakin' huge. Don't they look delicious? Beautifully seared...super juicy...these scallops are perfectly fine on their own but dipping each bite into the subtle tarragon chardonnay sauce somehow makes it even better. Order this.

Hand Made Ravioli
Filled with Smoked Duck, Goat Cheese & Porcini Mushrooms Sauteed in Brown Butter with Sage

This dish comes out as one giant 'roided up ravioli (use the cherry tomatoes as a scale). It kinda reminds me of the ravioli that came with my brother's duck at Pastis, but the flavors in this one is bolder and yells for your attention. Good dish to order as a starter if you are a light eater.

Beef Tenderloin Stroganoff
All Natural Beef Tenderloin Medallions & Shitake Mushrooms, served over Hand Made Fettuccini drizzled with Creamed Demi Glace

What can a restaurant do to make stroganoff taste 100x better than what we do at home? Oh I know: throw in the juiciest, meatiest beef tenderloins you can find and mix it up with the house's egg noodles and velvety sauce. G'damn this was so good. They make some damned fine pasta at Old Vine so make sure you give any one of them a try.

Lamb Meatloaf
Certified All Natural Lamb Meatloaf, on a bed of Caramelized Onions, garnished with Wilted Arugula & a Rich Syrah Demi
-Paired with a 2007 Tortoise Creek Shiraz, Languedoc France.

Very very fluffy meatloaf. I was surprised that they came as individual slices as opposed to a crumpled pile. No idea how it is being held together. These guys at Olive Tree are very skilled. Last two times I had restaurant 'loaf were at the Prado in Balboa Park and Hash House. Man they got nothing on Old Vine Cafe. The demi glace is made with the same syrah paired with the dish and adds more depth to an already smashin' meat loaf. Another must-order.

Fettuccini Pomodoro
Handmade Fettuccini Pomodoro garnished with Aged Pecorino Romano Cheese

Sure it looks just like spaghetti, but trust me on this one...the pomodoro sauce is mind-blowing. Pomodoro is pretty much a non-chunky marinara sauce but I am at a loss as to how a tomato sauce could taste so vibrant, bright, and alive on the palate. You gotta try this to see what I mean. The sauce is so light but packs so much great flavor.

Chocolate Cake
With Merlot–Port-Wine Dark Chocolate Sauce, garnished with Fresh Whipped Cream.
- Paired with a NV Ferreira Ruby Port.

This choco cake isn't a thick heavy beast like a fudge cake. It is a lot finer and delicate but still packs a good whollop of dark chocolate flavor. Bite of cake + the port made for a heavenly dessert experience. The two were so made for each other.

Grandma’s Cheesecake
Cream Cheesecake garnished with a Wild Berry Puree.
-Paired with a NV Ferreira Ruby Port.

Not your run-of-the-mill cheesecake. This rendition is sweeter, thicker, and for the lack of a better description, kinda has a honey/condensed milk taste to it. I like it a helluva lot better than the more traditional recipe.

Old Vine Cafe is one of the very few restaurants that make me go ":O wow..." and is very much worth the trip. I highly recommend you make reservations because it is a popular restaurant and there aren't many tables. Also, they currently offer "early bird" dinner specials at a phenominal price: $40 for three courses and three wine pairings on Tues/Wed/Thurs if you reserve a table between 5-5:30pm. This is now one of my favorite restaurants in Orange County.

Old Vine Cafe
2937 Bristol St. Suite A-102
Costa Mesa, CA 92626


*note: the restaurant is hard to find. it is actually inside the CAMP retail center instead of in it's own building.