Friday, May 30, 2014

Settebello - Oxnard, CA

 Settebello is located in the Collection at RiverPark Oxnard. It is flanked by many restaurants which also popped up around including Yard House, Kabuki and Famous Dave's. The reason why we were there was to grab a quick bite before heading in to watch a movie at the fabulous Century RiverPark 16.

I picked a few items off the menu to nibble on in between bites of conversation. The Prosciutto Crudo wrapped around goat cheese and arugula. The cheese was melty hot and oozed out in every bite. The toasted bread was crunchy crisp and was a nice break from the extra soft meat and cheese. The olives served with the dish were briny and mouth puckering.

On their bar menu was an Arancini Di Riso or basically a deep fried ball of risotto. The crisp texture of the ball was thin and light, the perfect crunch. Once inside the shell, creamy risotto oozed out nice and warm. The marinara served in the bowl was fruity and full of body. I liked that they served shaves of Parmesan on top of the ball because it melded perfectly with the gravy and rice.

I like Settebello well enough as my belly was full of rice, meat and cheese but I am not sure if it is a place to go if you are craving full on Italian. The pizzas all sound amazing as well as the salads. I would go for lunch or drinks with the girls if I was to return again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Discovery Ventura - Ventura, CA

Scott and I had errands to run in Ventura a few weeks ago and we found ourselves in search of a place to watch one of the NBA Playoff games. I have always wanted to go to Discovery Ventura because it was advertised as a fun place to drink, dine and play. So I suggested it and away we went. With Happy Hour in full swing, we both got Island Brewery Honey Blonde's to sip while perusing to food menu. 

The bowling area is not large but it certainly is well decorated. It is on a first come, first serve basis so get there early if you want to sneak a game in. They are open late, 12:30 A.M. Monday through Thursday and 1:30 A.M. Friday - Sunday if you are a night owl. Party time!

Off the Happy Hour Food Menu we decided to split an order of the Hawaiian Sliders, Joe Style. A well seasoned ground beef patty and creamy coleslaw make for the most perfect bites. A sweet appetizer for $5 made us want to explore the menu even forever.

Our server recommended we try the Chicken Tacos and told us with Highway 33's Charman's Revenge hot sauce we could not go wrong. The mesquite chicken was served on two grilled corn tortillas, guacamole, sweet tomato salsa and sliced radish was tasty but as recommended with the hot sauce it was out of bounds!

Now that I was on a roll I wanted to venture of the Happy Hour menu because the Ahi Poke Stack caught my eye. The visual was certainly pleasing and I could not wait to dive head first into it. The marinated ahi was totally fresh and marinated with a wasabi soy. The avocado was dressed in the same bath and mixed with toasted black sesame seeds and green onion. The crisp wonton was served as the tool to transport the goodness into my mouth and it too was heaven. Creamy coleslaw rested on the plate and made for a good clean up via fork or spoon. 

I could have sat in my seat for many more plates of appetizers but we had an early start the next day and want to get home to hit the hay. I had my eye on many more appetizers to try which included the Crab Fries, Goat Cheese Nom Noms and you know I was also interested in trying their Crab Cakes. I will be back very soon, hopefully something from their full menu which included Sea Bass, Short Ribs and a Lobster Pasta.

Oh my! I am am hungry just thinking about it...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rabalais Bistro - Santa Paula, CA

My sweet friend Dana and I have started a tradition of our own. Most Mondays she and I meet for lunch to catch up with each other's lives and enjoy a great meal. This trip we decided to meet on the other side of my mountain, Santa Paula, and partake in a little bit of Southern fare.  

I am not sure if this Arugula Salad with apples, candied walnuts, blue cheese and creamy balsamic considers itself "Southern" but it was a lovely way to kick off our meal. I cannot resist an arugula salad. 

I opted for a cup of Seafood Chowder to finish my meal and it was nice. It was not the best ever and contained a lot of potato vs. seafood but it still made for a nice creamy treat. I may or may not have dunked my bread too. 

Dana ordered Shrimp and Grits for her closer and she seemed to like it just fine. There were plenty of grit to shrimp ration so ordering a cup will fill a little gal up! 

The meal was very affordable if you are looking for a meal other than Mexican food while in Santa Paula. There is one literally on every block so if you are feeling for something different Rabalais is your place.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Flemings Steakhouse - Tulsa, OK

While we were tooling around Tulsa we ran into a shopping center that seemed to be the hub of all things necessary to one who was in need of food, drink and shopping. There was a Neiman Marcus, Starbucks and as Scott pointed out, a Flemings - his favorite. We made a mental note of its location and vowed to come back and dine there later in the week.

And, here we are! Placed in a comfortable both facing the action packed kitchen and a view of the entire dining floor. We were introduced to the new wine iPad, vino at your finger tips! Ron placed his order for the Patz & Hall Pinot Noir and we dug into the warm Parmesan bread. The spreads were both fantastic, the sun dried tomato was my favorite.

I saw Burrata on the menu and just had to order it as my starter. The heirloom tomatoes were not totally ripe but the spicy arugula, sharp onions and luscious beets more than made up for it. I had just one complaint, the lack of burrata - I ate it too quickly and wished their were more. It was lovely.

Scott ordered the Flemings Salad and it is was filled with all kinds of good stuff: red onions, tomatoes and candied walnuts just to name a few. The herbed crostini that was served with the salad was architecturally beautiful, and delicious too.

Our plates were served quite spectacularly all lined up on this server's arm. We asked if he had ever dropped anything and he said he hadn't. I have never seen someone do this so I asked for his photo, he seemed really proud!

Scott went for the Porcini Rubbed Filet Mignon, it was a center cut and cooked to a perfect medium rare. The sauce was a Gorgonzola cream and went nicely with his spears of asparagus. It was the perfect amount of protein.

Cowboy Ron went big and ordered the Prime Rib-Eye. 
Now that is a piece of meat!

Flemings serves the sides as family style so we ordered two to split. The one on the left was Creamed Corn topped with jalapeno rings and the one on the right was Fleming's Potatoes, their specialty scalloped potatoes with cream, jalapenos and cheddar cheese. Both were great compliments to our meals and could not be finished. Large servings!

Are you wondering what I had? I had the fish special, I am THAT girl. The one who orders fish in a steakhouse, guilty as charged! The special was Covina and it appealed to me because it reminds me of a cross between sea bass and halibut. Two of my favorite types of fish! It was light, flaky and moist all at the same time. I love seafood! It was topped with a pineapple salsa that was kind of feisty with a generous serving of jalapenos. I loved the crab fritters that were served with the entree. Tasty!

At about the half way point through our meal our server came by to see if we were interested in the Chocolate Lava Cake that took 20 minutes to prepare. We all had red wine left in our glass so we agreed it was probably a good idea. The molten cake came out hot and when swirled with the ice cream and cookie shell it was a treat. The Chantilly Cream was like a cloud!

I give Scott credit for picking such a great restaurant, Fleming's is excellent! I learned a couple things from our server Josh, the founder of Flemings - Paul Fleming is also responsible for P.F. Changs. How cool is that?! It was said he created the restaurant because there were not any good Chinese restaurants in Arizona, where he was from, so he created one! How cool is that!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Tally's - Tulsa, OK

Do you want a review of a really average breakfast? Yes? Ok! Scott and I had a free morning during our stay in Tulsa and decided to seek out a sit down breakfast joint. Located on historic Route 66 we pulled in to a full diner and took a seat in a big booth.

Scott wanted a standard fare of eggs, bacon and toast. His eggs were cooked nicely to a perfect over medium and salsa was provided for a zesty kick. The toast sopped up the last of eggs and made for a nice vehicle to get every bit of flavor. The one thing I did notice was his bacon looked a little under cooked, to the point he was tearing off the uncooked pieces of fat. Eww... 

 I, on the other hand, stop that problem before it ever arises... I order my bacon crispy! It never fails to come out perfect everywhere I go. So, my bacon gets two thumbs up. I am still stuck on pancakes for breakfast so i ordered up a stack of carbohydrate goodness. The pancakes, or possibly the syrup, tasted like black licorice. I don't mind black licorice, in fact I quite enjoy it. But a plate filled with the taste, bite after bite in dough form really wasn't as appetizing as I had hoped for.

I have to admit I made an ordering mistake. I saw Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes on the menu and did not order them. How much more fun would this review have been if I took the chance and ordered something silly like that? 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Salads... Craving Vegetables!

I am craving vegetables. Fresh, crunchy varieties on plates with cool dressings and creative garnishes. We are on the road headed back to California and I have had nothing but fast food and Cheetos for the past couple of days. 

This is what sounds good to me:

A Cobb Salad with plenty of blue cheese, bacon, turkey, eggs, cucumbers and tomatoes. The dressing would also be blue cheese because the crumbles by themselves are just not enough.

The next salad that rocks my world is the Spicy Seaweed Salad from the Japanese Kitchen in Fresno. The seaweed is combined with lettuce, minced ahi tuna and a spicy dressing that is definitely some blend of sesame oil and Siracha. 

For mega crunch and more bacon I would create a Broccoli Salad so large that I could enjoy it for days. I would chop the broccoli into small pieces, mix in cheddar cheese, bacon, sun flower seeds and for a hint of sweetness; raisins. The dressing would be a creamy mayonnaise base with plenty of lemon and sprinkles of sugar. 

I make Cucumber Salad a lot but my take on it uses a mandolin to slice them very thin. I then boil water, vinegar and sugar together until the sugar dissolves, it doesn't take long. Throw a pinch of dill in the mix, it really makes the salad. Pour the hot liquid over the cucumbers and let marinate and cool in the refrigerator. It keeps for days and is so refreshing.

If you are out and about maybe at the mall shopping? Run into the California Pizza Kitchen to order the Thai Crunch Salad. It was recommended to me by Cowgirl Kate and I have been a fan ever since. I always ask for additional dressing because it is so tasty.

My husband loves corn more than anyone I have ever met. He loves it prepared any which way but my favorite way is like a Mexican Street Corn Cob. Roasted, bathed in mayonnaise, chile, queso fresco and lime. This salad is a perfect play on that and a fork makes it easier for me to shovel in my mouth.

Ah... Burrata. I love the silky cheese so much that I would not need any kind of salad paired with it to enjoy. The smooth cheese goes perfectly with arugula and balsamic reduction. I will wait for the long, hot days of summer to produce excellent tomatoes to service with this salad. Serve cool with plenty of olive oil, salt and pepper.

And, last but not least - Please excuse the terrible photo - but the Tao Tao's Shredded Chicken Salad in Sunnyvale is what I crave the most. The crispy chicken, air light puffed rice sticks, salty cashews, minced cilantro, finely chopped salad make for a perfect bed for the spicy mustard dressing that cannot be duplicated. This salad is rare, hard to recreate and totally my most crave worthy salad. 

As miles and miles fly by I will continue dreaming of all things veggie. You never appreciate what you have access to, like fresh fruit and vegetables, until you are forced to grab another bag Hot Cheetos for sustenance. California here I come! 

The Tavern - Tulsa, OK

Are you a fan of Western art and bronzes? Does the name Frederic Remington or Charles Russell ring a bell? I spent the yesterday checking out originals of all the famous works of Early American art.

This painting is named "Breaking Through The Line" by Charles Schreyvogel and it is beyond striking. In person the painting has a center focus of the barrel of the gun and the eyes of both horse and rider follow you. The original is just stunning, prints don't do it justice. 

After our tour of the Thomas Gilcrease Museum we decided to seek out lunch. I had read fantastic things about The Tavern in the Brady District so since we were on that side of town we gave it a go.

The guys had Marshall Beers and I tried a Spicy Bloody Mary. The drink was quite filling, almost a meal. I had to switch to a Coke about half way through.

  I had read numerous reviews giving them props for their burger so I decided to give it a try. I ordered it medium and it came out juicy, juicy. They topped the burger with sautéed mushrooms and blue cheese, it was a great combination of flavors. The shoe string fries were crispy, salty and addicting!

Cowboy Ron ordered the Croque Madam off the Brunch menu. The open faced sandwich featured sweet ham and a runny egg. With a knife and fork Ron sopped up the yolk with the browned home fries.

Scott surprised me when he ordered Tomato Bisque with a Grilled Cheese Sandwich. I had to try the soup and helped myself to a spoonful, it was amazing. The gourmet sandwich oozed with cheese, tomato and pesto. It was delicate yet hearty all at the same time.

The Tavern was eclectic and totally on top of current food trends. We only experienced the Brunch menu but did peek at the Dinner offerings, it sounded totally delicious based on the descriptions. I recommend you give it a visit!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lucky's - Tulsa, OK

Greetings from Tulsa! My crew and I are still enjoying all the city has to offer while experiencing some pleasant weather. We made our way to the Cherry Street area of Tulsa and drove passed plenty of great looking restaurants but had our heart set on trying Lucky's. If the wine menu was any indication of a great meal we were in "luck" the Sincann Pinot Noir from New Zealand was splendid.

Our Cherry Street Fry was exactly what we were craving... Hello calamari, onions and green beans! The light crispy batter knocked it out of the park! I especially liked how they got creative with the "L" in the Lucky Dipping Sauce.

My order of the Crispy Sea Bass was beyond, beyond amazing. The generous serving of the rustic pesto cream sauce made its way into every bite of fish and lentils with white truffle oil. I enjoyed the carrots as they were cooked through, rather than a crunchy al dente.

Cowboy Ron was seated across the table from me and his Macaroni and Cheese seemed to take over the filet in this photo. He went on and on about the pasta and I am sure the beef was fine. 

The three of us all shared the massive serving of the Coconut Cake. It had a key lime curd filling and carmel drizzle. It was huge! We all did our part in trying to take it down. We finally succeeded after bites of painfully filling our stomachs. Dessert shouldn't be work, be warned it is a big serving!

All in all, I enjoyed our meal at Lucky's. I am beyond impressed with the restaurant scene in Tulsa. We are not finished with the town yet, stay tuned for more good eats Oklahoma style!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bodean's Seafood Restaurant - Tulsa, OK

Cowboy Ron gives me the honor of choosing where we eat dinner on our cutting excursions. Since I am in charge of the culinary adventures I tend to chose places that appeal to me. When I read stellar reviews of Bodean's Seafood online I knew it was a place we would have to try. As I guided them to the restaurant via backseat directions we pulled into a low budget shopping center and I could tell from the guy's expressions that I might have messed up. We parked and walked inside to a beautiful restaurant.

 Cowboy Ron started with a Caesar Salad as he was craving the fantastic anchovies. Salty, briny and totally addicting. Would it have been weird if I asked for a side order of them? Scott declined on his usual salad and indulged in a Dead Armadillo. A Dead Armadillo?! Yes, a fantastic smooth drinking beer.

I used to order Lobster Bisque all the time but have stopped doing so as of late because I am repeatedly disappointed on the quality. This bisque was nice consistency and had pieces of shrimp throughout. It was not overly "lobster" flavored but totally peppery. My husband would have loved it, he loves pepper!

This beauty was my order. It was a great piece of Halibut over a risotto with goat cheese and basil pesto. It was perfection! The tomato was an addition to the plate that I didn't indulge in, It was more for decoration in my eyes. The fish was cooked perfectly and the risotto was wiped clean from my plate. Excellent, excellent meal.

The boys both ordered the San Francisco Cioppino and it came out bright and full of wonders from the sea. Large pieces of crab, shrimp, salmon, halibut, muscles and cockles filled the bowl. The seafood alone was filling but the wonderful broth dunked with pieces of house baked bread really filled them up. It was a beautiful bowl!

 We finished off our meal with our usual, Creme Brulee. The waitress gave us a warning that it was thick and heavy, it seemed like an odd thing to say since we said we were aficionados. To my surprise it was exactly the opposite of the description. it was light, almost souffle like texture. It was still delicious and we devoured it quickly.

We were treated to a gift from the restaurant as we parted ways. It was a cute little box filled with a Coffee Cake. They thanked us for our business and sent us on our way with breakfast. Now that is class...