May 14, 2007

A SoCal Gal reivews a Sammie from Philly

So after reading post after post on different CHOW boards regarding the mouth watering Fredo’s Philly Cheesesteak, I decided I had to try it.

First of all I am not an expert on The Philly Cheesesteak. In fact I think I have eaten only one, at Canyon City BBQ, prior to this experience. I think Canyon City’s sammie was good, but far from authentic, so the experts say. They use tri tip, so its more of a tri tip sammie with the philly fixin’s. My experience is based on my love for food, not to vouch for the authenticity of the Philly Cheese steak!

Fredo’s is just north of Orange Grove on Lake Street. I found street parking on Lake, luckily, the place is pretty bare bones. Comfortable tables and chairs with a few condiments, a few Philadelphia decorations and pictures of Cheese steak eaters on the wall, clearly finding a niche, but clean and I felt welcome.

I told Dan (the Owner) I heard great things about his sammies and I ordered the super, which came with onions, pepper, and mushrooms. There is a choice of cheese offerings, but I did not name mine so I assume I got the traditional “white” as the menu offers.

He took my order and immediately told me that the kitchen staff is all new and today was there first day. He was clearly concerned, and chatted with me while I waited for my sammie. He is not from Philly but lived there for several years, and has worked in the business for a while. It sounded like Fredo's is his first restaurant endeavor.

My sammie took about 10 minutesto make, and I got it into the car with the intent to wait until I got home to eat, but since that is 10 minutes away I thought I had better try at least a couple bites. Yum. It was delicious. I took several large bites in the car and then devoured the rest of that half when I got home. Tons of meat, not a single piece of gristle, juicy with out being soggy and just the right amount of melty cheese and pepper, onion etc. so as not to overwhelm. I have no complaints. My bread was soft and fresh, and the roll was large but definitely did not overwhelm the sammie. Plenty of meat in every bite and half was more than enough. Fredos sammie was very large, huge in fact, easily shared.

I hope he does well. I will go back, and I recommend the Super.

May 04, 2007

The Journey to Babita

I suppose I have fallen into “food block”. I have not put up a bite for weeks. I have even been to Babita recently and couldn't find the recipe for writing a post. So here I am finally, with a main course of words.

Ahh. The journey to Babita has a story behind it. My SO and I had been dating not quite 1 year when we realized that in a week or so the day we first stared into each others eyes over some margaritas and lousy Mexican food would be upon us. We decided to honor the event, to celebrate, and this time to find some delicious Mexican food to do so with that was worthy of the occasion.

Well we didn’t have to look or even think about it as I had wanted to try Babita for months! So thanks to my chow hounding friends no search was needed.
The restaurant is on San Gabriel Blvd right next to Saint Anthony’s Church; it is on a corner, and from the outside you could never imagine the tastes, smells, and the culinary adventure that being on the inside will take you on.

The reservation was for 8 and we brought a bottle of 1997 Stags Leap Merlot. We were seated by none other than the chef himself, and I immediately engaged him in a dialog about his menu. He joked quite a bit with me and told me that he wouldn’t order the soup, which I had inquired about, and then went on to describe it in such a matter my mouth watered. I get it he is playing with me! When he opened the wine he poured it he then proceeded to pick up the glass and take a very deep sniff of the bouquet, he was so obviously enjoying it that we offered him some. “No, not while I have to work”, he declined. And then when I asked him for recommendations he told me to close my eyes and pick! He was such fun, we enjoyed the banter immensely!

I noticed he circulated among the tables that had all been seated about the same time. Then disappeared to cook, and his wife took over. It is almost as if they arrange the seating, since they did not have a 7:30 reservation available, but the resturant was far from full when we arrived and during our meal it did not fill up. It was nice.

The Shrimp Topolobampo was on my must try list, but I was discouraged to order it by our waitress as I had indicated I didn’t want anything too spicy. I ordered a ceviche instead and it was amazing. Fresh, light, tangy, not fishy, it was red snapper and perfect We also shared a Cesar salad. I know, who orders Cesar salad at a Mexican restaurant, but this was an incredible blend of flavors.Probably one of the best I have had, you could tell the dressing was just made; it was rich and had a strong bite of anchovy perfect.

The lamb shank was what my SO wanted, but they were out of it when we arrived so he settled on the Barbacoa. I ordered the Cochinita Pibil. My pork was melt in your mouth and 2 tangy cold salads of one of red cabbage and one of onion accompanied the pork. The beef cheeks, which neither of had ever had were very good. My SO thought a little fatty, but I assume that the nature of the dish. Fresh tortillas were on the table and we finished everything!

The evening was perfect, for every reason. I suppose the only complaint I might have is that there was a long wait between courses the evening being a bit of a slow process. It seemed that Roberto and his wife were the only ones there.

I want to go back and try one of his seafood or fish dishes next. Or maybe get daring and get the Shrimp Topolobampo