About Me

My photo
Sonoma County, CA, United States
A food and restaurant review through the eyes of a 13 year old and his family.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What's Been Cooking in My World Since School Started


I have had a lot of followers and friends ask me why I have not posted in a while. Well, the reason is, school! School started at the end of August and I'm now in the 5th grade. I have had TONS of homework nightly and on the weekends. Also since school started, we do not go out as often on school nights. PLEASE be patient and keep checking as I will post/blog in the upcoming holidays and in February when I take a trip to Belize, Honduras and Cozumel :-).

I also had the opportunity to meet Guy Fieri at Zone Music while I was there for drum lessons. He was very nice and he also told me what is most important and that is getting good grades and school. Ever since then, my grades have gotten better and I am taking his advice seriously.

Thanks for following along!

Sushiko - Rohnert Park, CA

This past week I went to Sushiko in Rohnert Park. Sushiko is a Japanese restaurant specializing in sushi. This is the BEST Japanese restaurant I have eaten at to date and this is why.

When you first walk into the restaurant, the chefs and staff yell "WELCOME" really loud in Japanese. It feels like you're in a fancy sushi restaurant. There is a sushi bar and tables. It is very simple and clean and they have a giant flat screen TV on the wall showing the different types of sushi you can order. My mom, my sister and I sat at a table. I would've preferred to sit at the sushi bar, but the table was our only choice.

My mom and I ordered Japanese green tea and my sister had lemonade. My mom and I absolutely LOVE sushi so that's what we ordered. My sister Rylee, the basic eater, does not like sushi at all. So she ordered Ramen which is a Japanese noodle bowl. We ordered a few different sushi rolls, but my favorite was the Cherry Blossom Roll. This roll has salmon and avocado inside the roll and tuna and wakame salad (which is a seaweed salad) and wasabi flavored tobiko on top. Tobiko is tiny flying fish eggs that pop in your mouth. I love how they pop in my mouth and the flavor of them. The best part of the Cherry Blossom Roll was the presentation of the plate. The sushi pieces were arranged around the seaweed salad and the seaweed salad was topped with a radish that was cut to look like a cherry blossom and then on the sides of the plate was a fancy sauce and tobiko.

My sister's Ramen was a HUGE bowl! Like a pot size....SO BIG. It was full of ramen noodles, broth and vegetables, AND it was only $8.95! Such a deal! Rylee said, "They were very good. There was a hint of spiciness, but it did not bother me." We took a bunch of this home.

You can also order sushi boats. For example a Sushiko boat which includes 24 pieces of sushi, 24 pieces of sashimi and a chef's special roll. This costs $86.00 which is a lot of money for me....but I could save for it. It looks like a miniature size canoe for extremely large action figures! We saw a table next to us order a boat and it was so beautiful. It looked like a piece of art.

I highly recommend this place. Any sushi lover will ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT! If you are not a sushi lover, there is a lot of other stuff to choose from like tempura, teriyaki, donburi, ramen, udon and soba.

Sushiko is located at 6825 Commerce Blvd. #302, Rohnert Park. They do not have a website yet.


How it felt: *****
The price: $$-$$$
The food: *****
The service: *****
Kid Friendly: ****

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Adventure With Chef Roger Praplan at the Handcar Regatta!


On Sunday, I got to help cut up a whole pig with Chef Roger Praplan (my all time favorite chef) of La Gare at the Handcar Regatta Food Circus. He asked me to be his assistant. He completely cut up a whole 60 pound pig into meat cuts and I showed the meat cuts around the audience. Even though it was butchering, I wasn't squeamish at all. They actually use a different word for cutting up the pig called "deconstructing". I hear this word alot on food shows, etc. From that experience, I got to learn - hands on - where all of the cuts are from a pig. The loin is the most expensive part of the pig and the feet have a lot of gelatin in them....the bones are great for stock which is what Chef Roger does with them. I think that it's important for everyone to know where and what meat cuts look like and are from. It is very helpful and this was an experience I will never forget!


Thanks Chef Roger Praplan!






Sunday, September 19, 2010

Humble Pie - Penngrove

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Humble Pie in Penngrove on a Sunday for brunch. Brunch is kind of like breakfast and lunch and they serve it from 10:00 AM till 3:00 PM. Humble is located by this place called the Black Cat in downtown Penngrove. If you blink your eyes, you'll miss it!

When I walked in it felt like an older building that was nicely decorated. They had old record albums around and other 6o' - 70's stuff around. It felt really homey and comfortable. My mom made a reservation and I'm glad she did otherwise we would've had to wait.

We sat down at our table and I noticed the natural sugar and a deck of playing cards. There was also a big board on the wall listing all the specials. This restaurant is family owned by a family who has a son that goes to my school. All of their food is grown and raised locally and made with love. The servers were really, really nice and we got our food pretty quick! My sister and I played a few rounds of Go-Fish with the cards at the table while we waited. I ordered the biscuits and gravy with fresh squeezed orange- lemonade juice. My sister Rylee the "Basic Eater" ordered a cinnamon roll which was the best cinnamon roll ever!!! My mom ordered a chicken and vegetable hash that was amazing! My order of biscuits and gravy came with 2 or 3 homemade biscuits covered in a white creamy gravy loaded with bits of sausage. It had so much flavor to it...it was so good that I asked for a little extra gravy. My sister's cinnamon roll was really big and had a good cinnamon flavor. There was also a little bit of icing and not too much which I think is perfect! My mom's hash was delicious. The overall experience was AWESOME. I highly recommend this place to everyone...especially the cinnamon rolls! When I went back to the kitchen to compliment the chef he gave me a cinnamon roll to take home and try and it barely made it home because it was so good :-)

To view their menu go to: http://www.humblepiepenngrove.com/

I can't wait to go back and try out their dinner menu. They are open Wed. through Sunday.

Here is my overall rating:


How it felt: ****
The service: *****
The food: *****
The price: $$
Kid Friendly: *****

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Romeo's Pizza & Pasta Restaurant - Petaluma

Romeo's Pizza & Pasta Restaurant is a family run business in Petaluma. It's across from the Golden Eagle Shopping Center in a river front building.

We like to go here because it is family owned, simple, casual and family friendly. When we go to Romeo's I usually order the ravioli's and I get a combination of beef and cheese. You get to choose the sauce for your pasta - marinara, meatball, alfredo or creamy pesto. I order the meatball sauce. It also comes in two sizes: small or large. I have only had the small size and it is HUGE! It's pretty good...BUT, the coolest thing is for the kids. They can create their own pizza! It's really inexpensive and fun for them. They bring a pizza pan, sauce, toppings of your choice, cheese and a ball of pizza dough to your table and you create it. It can be any shape, any size, whatever. It's probably one of the best kinds of things for the "basic eater" (like my sister Rylee). Rylee says, "It's really good! I get to make my very own pizza and I love Romeo's pizza!"

If you are in a hurry, you can get slices of pizza to go. They make lots of other pasta and salads. A great family friendly restaurant. Romeo's website is: www.romeosonline.com You can even make an order online.

Back to ravioli's for a minute, one of my all time favorite ravioli's is from Canevari's in Santa Rosa. They have been in business forever. My mom and dad had Canevari ravioli's at their wedding in 1987 and they were around way before they got married. Mr. Canevari and his family make the ravioli's fresh daily. They sell original, cheese, veggie and meat ravioli. They also sell sauce to go with it. My favorite is veggie with the original sauce. It's this little hole in the wall on Lewis Rd. in Santa Rosa off of Steele Ln. It kind of looks like a deli. When I get a craving for great ravioli's, I ask my parents really nicely if we can go to Canevari's and load up!.

To wind it up, here is my rating of Romeo's Pizza a& Pasta Restaurant in Petaluma:

How it felt: ***
Price: $
Food: ***
Service: ****
Kid Friendly: *****

Sunday, August 22, 2010

My Food Adventures While On Vacation in Utah!













I went on a road trip to Utah for a close friend of ours wedding.

On the way to Utah we had to make a stop at Cabela's on the way in Reno, NV. It just happened to also be lunch time. Cabela's has a restaurant/grill in the store. They have things like, fried cheese curds, onion rings, fries, burgers, brats, salads, sandwich's, soups and kids meals. Some of the meat items that you can get are buffalo, venison and beef. We went to the grill and I ordered a buffalo burger....it was really good and it was very big. Buffalo meat usually comes from Montana. It is really tender, has very little fat and I think it has a better flavor than beef. My sister Rylee (the basic eater) had a kids meal which was a crustable PB&J that came with a snack pack of apple sauce and a drink. My mom had a grilled chicken sandwich and we shared a few onion rings. After finishing up at Cabela's....I also bought some of the best buffalo jerky that I've ever had. If you're on a road trip and you're going through Reno, I would recommend Cabela's Grill. It's quick and very clean and the food is better than a fast food restaurant.

After a long drive, we arrived in Utah. One of the best things about Utah is that people who live there get Winder Farms Dairy delivered to their door. This is the best milk and chocolate milk you'll ever have. Our close family friends, The Shober's, ordered some of the chocolate milk in real glass bottles. The next day was the wedding reception for our friends Nick and Heather. They had grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, different salads, every IBC soda you could think of and pie and ice cream for dessert. It was very fun. All the people in Utah are very nice.

We ended up staying for a week longer than we planned. My dad flew in one-way as a surprise and spent the rest of the time with us. My close friend, Uncle Bobby, took me to Sonic Burger while we were there. They don't have many in California so it was a very great experience for me. I had a Sonic Burger....DELICIOUS and an extra large cherry limeade with special ice in it. We spent another day touring the Temple Square in Salt Lake City (SLC). You have to have a temple recommendation to go in it and you have to be Mormon so I did not get to go in it. But we still got to tour the Mormon Tabernacle, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and the Conference Center. All of these buildings were amazing. I was very fascinated by the Mormon Religion and their buildings. I had lots of questions. In the Joseph Smith Memorial Building is a cafe called Neauvo Cafe (sp?) We had lunch there. I had a Tomato Asiago Soup with a fresh breadstick. It was very creamy and very good. I talked to the chef there for a bit and gave him one of my business cards. He was a really nice guy.

On another day we hiked at the Brighton/Solitude Ski Resort Area in the Wasatch Mountain Range. The Wasatch Mountains are ginormous and beautiful. At sunset they turn almost purple. That night we went to a Mexican restaurant called The Red Iguana. I heard about this restaurant on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. It is in a dumpy area of Salt Lake City. We had to wait for an hour! There was a line outside the door but the wait was worth it. The interior of the restaurant had autograph pictures of ZZ Top, the Rat Pack, Guy Fieri and lots of other stars, musicians, etc. They also had tons of awards that they had won. This was truly the best Mexican food I have ever had. I had a Carne Asada Burrito with Mole Negro. The burrito was so big that it fell apart so I ate the filling and left the tortilla. The filling had carne asada (grilled steak), tomatoes, salsa, onions, rice and beans...it was very flavorful and the mole negro was AMAZING. It had banana, walnuts, raisins, Mexican chocolate, spices, etc. in the sauce...really different and really good. If you're ever in Salt Lake City, Utah you should definitely go there.

On another day, we tried another place that was on Diner's Drive-Ins and Dive's called Moochies. Moochies is located in kind of a residential area near Liberty Park where you can get fresh spring water from a fountain that comes straight from the Olympic mountain artesian well. My Uncle Bobby grew up in this area and took us for a drive around. Moochies is know for it's Philly Cheesesteak and Meatball Sandwich's. You can get a 6 inch or a 12 inch sandwich. I had a 6 inch Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich with no mushrooms. It had thinly sliced and grilled rib eye steak, grilled red and green peppers, onions and cheese. I love that sandwich! It is very filling and very delicious.

I forgot to tell you about going to this cool waterslide park with our friends the Ingram's. It is a big, awesome waterslide park called Cowabunga Bay. I had so much fun! They dump 12,000 gallon buckets of water on you...and some of the slides were so long that it was pitch black dark in them. It was a blast!!!

In Utah, they have the best grocery store ever called Harmon's. Harmon's is owned by 2 brothers. They built the store in Draper, Utah based on feedback and surveys from around the country on what the "perfect" grocery store would be. This store has 2 levels. The first level is the grocery store and the 2nd level they offer cooking classes and a lounge that you can sit and eat at. They have a gelato bar, a pizza oven, a sushi bar, an awesome deli, a salad bar, olive bar, a bakery and they sell Winder Dairy Farms milk....which is the best.
On another night...our friends Bree and Mike invited us over for dinner. They were in Alaska and had caught a boat load of halibut! They asked if I would want to cook dinner for them. So I did. I made poached halibut with a butter and white wine sauce, steamed carrots and homemade cesear salad. All of this I learned from Chef Roger of La Gare Restaurant. It turned out really good! The only thing that I was missing was some vermouth for the butter sauce and anchovies for the cesear. Bree let me use a the cheek part of the halibut which is supposed to be a delicacy. It was a great night at their house and I had so much fun cooking. She even had white pepper and shallots...I was very impressed!

This was one of the best Utah trips I've ever been on. I liked all the restaurants we went to, but most of all, the best part was hanging out with our friends. I am very thankful for them and I'm really happy for the new married couple, Nick and Heather. I can't wait to go back...to go skiing!












Sunday, August 1, 2010

One of The Best Days of My Life! - A "Full" Day At La Gare Restaurant


By now, everybody knows that La Gare Restaurant is my all time favorite restaurant. The reason it's my favorite restaurant is because it's family owned, the wait staff is really nice, the food is awesome and the best is the Chef/Owner Roger Praplan.

Roger and his sister Jackie asked if I wanted to come to La Gare and help prep for dinner service. I spent yesterday morning there. This was the coolest ever!
When I first got there, we walked into the kitchen. The kitchen is the cleanest kitchen and a perfect set up for cooking. The gas burner is 31 years old and it works like a brand new stove. Chef Roger was cooking Coq Au Vin, which is chicken in red wine. The chicken had been marinating for 3 days! He showed me how to carmelize pearl onions for this dish, and even first thing in the morning, they tasted great. I got to talking to Chef Roger about how he became a chef. He started cooking when he was really young in Switzerland and in France. His father taught him a lot about cooking. Over the years Chef Roger has cooked at different restaurants including the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco and Hotel Meridian in New York. My dad stayed at that hotel a few times for work and said it's a really nice hotel. He's even cooked at the Bohemian Grove. His family opened La Gare in 1979.

Chef Roger also teaches at the Santa Rosa Junior College. Chef Roger is my favorite chef.

While I prepped, Chef Roger taught me how to make escargot and the halibut special. These are my favorite dishes at La Gare Restaurant. We did over 100 escargot! Then we made a peppercorn sauce and a blue cheese sauce for steak. I liked the blue cheese sauce the best. I can't share the ingredients to anything because they are a secret. I also got to help do the raspberry tarts. This is a flaky pastry that has a really good cream spread over it, then layered with with fresh raspberries and then brushed with an apricot glaze. I had to brush the glaze in one direction all over the top. While I was there, Heather stopped by from The Bite Club. She took some pictures and sampled some of the food, and asked Roger lots of questions. It was great to see her, and she got a full tour of the kitchen when we were done.

We made reservations to eat there that night so I could try the food I helped with. We were seated by Jackie (Chef Roger's sister). She went over the specials. Our server's name was Bobbi. She was a very nice lady. We gave her our order which was an appetizer of escargot, an order of halibut, a NY steak with blue cheese sauce, the coq au vin, and for the "basic eater" my sister Rylee had buttered noodles with carrots. Chef Roger came out and took me into the kitchen to check things out. I talked a little bit with the kitchen staff and then brought my mom a morrel mushroom to try. Our escargot came and Chef Roger brought us the crab cake appetizer special. They were SO GOOD! I even got my sister to dip her bread in the escargot drippings which is a huge big deal. She even tried a little bite of the crab cake. Then next thing to come to our table was the cream of asparagus soup. It's one of my favorite soups at La Gare and my sister loved it. The restuarant was really busy...there was a huge party of about 15 people. Jackie asked if I would help serve the guests their dinner. It was really fun. After that, our server, Bobbi, asked me to help make a tableside Caeser Salad for a group of 4 sitting next to us. Again, it was awesome.

When I was done helping with the salad, our family had our dinner. Everything was great. After that, I went back to the kitchen where Chef Roger was making up a Panna cotta for my family to share. Panna cotta is like a flan, but it taste like the best vanilla ice cream on earth. It was served with mixed, fresh berry sauce. Panna cotta is now my favorite dessert at La Gare.

All in all, it was one of the most memorable days in my life, and I'll never forget it. This day gave me a real understanding of how much hard work and effort is put into cooking in a restaurant. It's not an easy day. Roger starts at 7 in the morning, works until 2 in the afternoon, gets a short nap, and is back at the restaurant cooking from 5 o'clock til 10 at night. That's a long day.

Thanks to Roger and Jackie for letting me come in and prep and teaching me how to cook escargot, and a few other secrets. It was the best.




(EDITORS NOTE FROM DAD-It's so easy to see why this is such a successful and established restaurant. Roger and Jackie have a passion for great food, but moreover, for great experiences. Chef Roger spends long, long hours in the kitchen, teaches at the local college, and still took time out of a busy Saturday-prep to spend two hours teaching and mentoring a 10 year old. He is obviously, and rightfully, proud of his kitchen and his products. Welcoming a reporter into your kitchen during prep is something I don't think every chef would do, but Roger did that with Heather from The Bite Club with no hesitation. Sometimes when something is around a long time, people forget about it, or overlook it. Those of you who have been there know, and those of you who haven't, should go.)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sonoma County Fair Food Scramble 2010 Results

Fair Food Scramble 2010 Results

I got selected to go to the food fair scramble at the Sonoma County Fair. I was one of five winners to try out as much food as we could in 2 hours. We met on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 (the first day of the fair).

For all you kids out there, I recommend trying the corn on the cob from Senor Carlos - they drench it in butter and then there are a wide selection of seasonings you can choose from like cheese seasoning to garlic seasoning...it's delicious! Also the steak tacos from Old Mexico were AMAZING! They had guacamole and a bunch of other yummy things on it that made it delicious. For a treat or dessert, I recommend the funnel cake from the Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cake stand! It's like a big curly warm cake with a little bit of whip cream on top and a little bit of cherries on the side. I also recommend trying the fresh root beer in a tin mug which is located near Senor Carlos is.

I was very honored to be able to to this with Heather Irwin of the Press Democrat BiteClub. Heather is AWESOME and I am learning a lot from her.

By the way, here is the poem I entered in the contest with a little help from my dad:

FAIR FOOD By: Logan Bello (with a little help from my dad)

Oh lonesome bratwurst
On the shelf,
How I want you for myself.
You go so well with fresh root beer,
Add garlic fries,
It brings me to tears.
Corn dogs on one stick
Egg rolls on another,
On my way to cinnamon rolls
With icing they're smothered.

Pozole, turkey legs, teriyaki chicken,
The Pasta King, and fudge,
It's all finger lickin'.

A day with Heather,
An obvious pro,
What better way to learn,
And eat as we go?

And finally, I highly recommend that everyone check out the Sebastopol Gravenstein Fair the weekend of August 14 - 15, 2010 at Ragle Park in Sebastopol. This is an awesome old fashioned fair with tons of fun! There is music, apple processing demonstrations, bee demonstrations, old fashioned rides and so much awesome food! The best is obvious - ALL THE APPLE PIES and homemade apple fritters...Mmmmmm SO GOOD. You should also consider entering an apple pie in the apple pie baking contest. My mom does this every year and says that it is good to get involved with the local fair and support it. She has a lot fun doing this.

Have FUN at the FAIR!!!! Fairs are fun....Summer time fun!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Restaurant P/30


I had dinner with my mom and sister at Restaurant P/30 last night. P/30 is located on Bodega Highway outside of Sebastopol headed towards the town of Bodega or Freestone. The restaurant looks like an old comfortable house on the side of the road. It feels like a home inside and is really nice.

This is a restaurant that is REALLY busy! even on a Wednesday night. I would have to say that the saying "good things come to those who wait and/or are patient" applies here. You will have to wait. So if you have kids who don't like to wait, I would recommend ordering something to drink and some Kennebec Sea Salt Fries and head out back while you wait. The back patio area is not really set up to eat at, but it is a good place to use your imagination while waiting.

Once we were seated, I took a good look around and checked out the art. The art is really nice. Our waiter, Jules handed us a menu. We ordered the Kennebec Sea Salt Fries with homemade dipping sauces and their really good macaroni and cheese. The macaroni and cheese comes with bacon, carmelized onions topped with bread crumbs. I ordered it without the bacon. It's like real homemade fancy macaroni and cheese! For my entree I ordered the Baked Paella. There were clams, mussels, black cod and andouille sausage in saffron risotto. It was really good! It had nice soft rice with a buttery, smokey flavor from the sausage. My favorite part was the black cod which just melted in my mouth. I am not a fan of mussels so I gave them to my mom. My mom ordered the Grilled Flatbread Pizza topped with Truffled P/30 Arugula. Did you know that arugula is also called rocket? Anyway, she really liked it. My sister Rylee was not very hungry...she snacked on the fries and a little bit of my mom's flatbread. If my sister was hungry she probably would have had the Fried Gleason Ranch Chicken. This is what I would recommend for the "basic eater". The Fried Gleason Ranch Chicken comes with a waffle and strawberry jam. I would also recommend the macaroni and cheese. The tables are covered with paper and they give color crayons to kids who want to color on the paper table covering. Rylee had fun with that. The best part was dessert. I had the Saffron Ice Cream! OH my....it was just amazing. My first small little bite of it, the flavors of Indian ice cream exploded around my mouth. It was so creamy and delicious. This is probably one of the best and most interesting ice creams I have ever had.

At the end of our meal, I complimented the chef. His name is Patrick. He is an awesome chef. One of the reasons why there is a wait is because the food is made to order and is so fresh and good. They even grow their own vegetables in the P/30 garden. My sister was hoping to get some plain mayonnaise to dip her fries in, but they did not have any. They make everything...including all of their sauces and condiments.

So to sum it up....if you are in a hurry and have hungry kids you may not want to give it a try. BUT, if you are not in a hurry and you want to take your time to enjoy really amazing food and hang out, then give it a try! You won't regret it
AND they give you homemade suckers at the very end that are yummy.

How it felt: *****
Food: *****+
Service: ****
Cost: $$ 1/2
Kid Friendly: **

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Manners and What to Do With All of Those Forks and Stuff!

My parents thought it would be good to talk about manners and a few other things.

Me and my family eat together pretty much every night. Even if it is leftovers or a "basic" dinner, we eat together. We always talk about our day. We talk about these things: What our favorite part of the day was, what our worst part of the day was, what did we learn, who did we hang out with and what are you proud of. Even if friends are over, they have to do this too. When we go out, we do a smaller version, but we always talk about our day.

MANNERS are really important. It's kind of like giving your word to someone. To all the kids and pre-teens or tweens out there, if you want to go out to a restaurant, you have to have really good manners. My parents taught me manners but I am always still learning. Here is a list of GOOD MANNERS from my 4-H cooking folder to study:

ALWAYS wash your hands before every meal.

1. If you are wearing a hat, TAKE IT OFF!
2. Wait until everyone has been seated before you pick up your fork to eat.
3. Put your napkin in your lap so that spills will get on your napkin, not your
clothes. Use your napkin to wipe your hands and your mouth.
4. Don't chew with your mouth open - people can see the chewed up food and
that's gross.
5. Don't talk while you're chewing either.
6. No elbows on the table.
7. Cut big pieces of food into little pieces with your fork and knife. Don't pick
up a big piece of meat with your fork and just bite it off.
8. If you need something, ask for it. Don't reach. Say, "Please pass the..."
9. If you are having bread and butter, take your knife and get some butter from
the butter dish/bowl and put it on your bread plate or dinner plate. The
butter your roll or bread from your own plate.
10. When you have eaten all your food, put your knife and fork together across the
top of your plate. This signals that you are all done.
11. If you are at home, ask if you may be excused. If you are, clear your plate
to the kitchen.
12. ALWAYS compliment the chef!

WHAT TO DO WITH ALL OF THOSE FORKS AND STUFF:

If you go out to a nice restaurant, first you sit down and put your napkin in your lap. You will have 2 forks on the left side of the plate. You always start with the little one. The little one is for salad and the big one is for your entree. If you are wondering which bread plate is yours, it is always the one on the left. Your water glass is on the right. When you are using your knife, after you are done set it on the edge of whatever plate you are using.

ALWAYS thank your mom and dad when they take you out to dinner. It's a privilege to be able to hang with your parents at a restaurant.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My "Foody" Adventures in Hawaii! - The Island of Hawaii Kona Coast





On my family vacation to Kona, I tried a bunch of different Hawaiian food. Hawaiian food is kind of a cross between American and Japanese food. It's really fresh and good. The first thing I tried was Musubi. Musubi is like a big ol' sushi roll except everything is cooked. I had a combination of Masubi from the L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. The L&L Hawaiian Barbecue is a local Hawaiian take-out place. I had a Portugee sausage roll, a SPAM roll and a teriyaki chicken roll. They were awesome! I also tried an ahi-ahi Musubi roll which was fried tuna. My favorite Musubi roll is the SPAM one.

Other things I tried were Malasadas from Tex Drive-In in Waimea. A malasada is a Portugee doughnut. It's basically a giant doughnut hole that you can fill with cream, guava, cherry, pretty much any type of berry jelly and then it's rolled in sugar. At Tex Drive-In you can watch them making the fresh malasadas while you wait and they are fresh and hot out of the grease! I had a guava filled malasada, an unfilled malasada and a cherry malasada. I liked them all....although the cherry one was a little bit sour. My sister loved malasadas even though she said, "I don't want to try malasadas Logan." She tried it and loved them. On the way back down the Kona Coast we stopped at the Waimea Farmer's Market. This market had a lot of delicious looking food and island products which included lychee nuts and Parker Ranch beef. We bought a bag of fresh lychee nuts and some local beef jerky from a vendor. I tried teriyaki pork from a vendor named Aunty Kanai who made her own teriyaki marinade/sauce. We bought a jar and took it back with us. We made our own teriyaki chicken with it. It was awesome.

We went to a delicious hole-in-the-wall sushi place in downtown Kaialua-Kona called Hayashi's which means "create your own" roll. I ordered some take-out sushi which was teriyaki chicken, spicy tuna roll and a California roll. This was the BEST sushi I've ever had! It was so fresh, right out of the ocean and they just do it perfectly.

So, if you are ever visiting the Big Island, I highly recommend L&L Hawaiian Barbecue and Tex Drive-In AND for the sushi lover, Hayashi's. For the basic eater like my sister Rylee, I'd recommend Bubba Gump's! ALOHA

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hopmonk Tavern

A few nights ago I went to the Hopmonk Tavern with my family to kick off Summer!

The Hopmonk Tavern is located in Sebastopol across from Frizelle Enos Feed Store in an old building that was part of the old train depot. The building still feels like a train depot but you can eat in it. There is an awesome beer garden outside and a building called the Abbey where they have beer dinners and live music. My great grandpa, Grandpa Ira Vail was a conductor on the electric car that went from Petaluma to Sebastopol. The building is really amazing because it has so much history. The owner of Hopmonk is Dean Biersch, formerly of Gordon-Biersch. We don't get to see him that often, but we know him, and he's a nice guy. My dad gave him some abalone awhile back. Dean LOVES abalone! Abalone isn't my favorite thing in the world.

We sat in a booth and ordered our drinks. My mom and dad ordered beers,(Hopmonk has LOTS of beers) my sister had cranberry juice and I had pineapple juice. Then we ordered our dinner. I had the Hopmonk Burger which is what I always order because IT'S THE BEST BURGER I've ever had! It's made with fresh ground lean beef, topped with tomato chutney, lemon aioli and crispy shallots and white cheddar cheese. I always get my Hopmonk Burger prepared medium rare. Mmmmmmmmm. My sister, the basic eater, ordered a kid size burger from the kids menu that came with fries. The kids menu has a lot of stuff like fish and chips, grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese and little hamburgers...mostly basic stuff. My dad ordered the grilled ham and cheese sandwich which he describes as one of the best things he has ever had at Hopmonk. He loves it mostly because of the parmesan cheese the put on the bread before they grill it. It's one of his favorites. My mom had a Summer berry salad. She has it all the time because she thinks it's "healthy".

The service was really good. The service was fast and the waitress was really nice. One of the people that has worked there for a long time named Kim talked with us for a while...she is really nice. She's in charge of group sales and special events.

The Hopmonk Tavern is kid friendly and has really great service. I highly recommend it especially the Hopmonk Burger.

My dad says Hopmonk is also VERY adult friendly. He and Mom have gone to a bunch of the "beer dinners" that the chef does. They do food pairings with different beers, from different brewerys. It's not a kid thing to do, but Mom and Dad say they've had some really amazing food and beer at these dinners. They love those dinners.

If you would like to see their website click here.

So this is how I rate it:

How it felt: ****
Service: *****
Food: *****
Price: $$

So if you are in Sebastopol..GO THERE!

Friday, June 11, 2010

BBQ Smokehouse and Catering-Sebastopol

I went to the BBQ Smokehouse in Sebastopol a week ago with my family. It was our first time there. This place is right next to the Sebastopol Cinemas.

When I walked in, I saw a self serve soda machine, old west style decorations, old fashioned red and white plaid tablecloths and picnic tables. I also saw some Gold medals, Silver medals and Bronze medals. That made me think that this place must be pretty good to get all those medals.

The way it works is that you walk to the counter to order, you get your soda cup, and then you go fill your soda cup up with soda, or water or lemonade if your dad says "no soda tonight".


I ordered Smoked Chicken Wings with a small side of cornbread and macaroni and cheese. I have to say that the macaroni and cheese was The Best. It was cheesier and more flavorful than that Kraft stuff that my sister Rylee eats. Blech!

The wings were a little chewy, but in flavor they had kind of a smokey flavor and I liked the flavor, but not the texture. The cornbread was the best cornbread I've ever had. My dad said it was the second best he'd ever had, after a place he found in Tennessee 10 years ago. He said that if the BBQ Smokehouse deep fried their cornbread, it would be his Number 1. My dad kind of fell in love with deep fried cornbread in Tennessee..it kind of made him a cornbread snob.

My dad had an order of Memphis Style BBQ pork ribs. He said they were the best ribs he's had in Sonoma County, and that says a lot. My dad LOVES ribs. He's been kind of depressed since Pack Jacks burned down a few years ago, but I think he's finally over it after he had these. They fell off the bone, had sweet smokey flavor, and didn't have a lot of sauce on them. You could add your choice of 3 sauces on the table to em, but in my opinion, my dad still makes the best ribs. My friend Calvin also loves ribs, but I'm not sure if he's tried this place yet. I will definitely recommend it to him.

My mom had the pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw, and she LOVED it. She definitely recommends it. I didn't get to try it, so I'll just have to take moms word for it.

My sister, Rylee, had the kids order of Mac and Cheese. Not Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, this was the homemade kind. She liked it! She also had some of my dad's ribs, which she loved.

For dessert we shared an order of Sweet Potato Pie and an order of Warm Brandied Bread Pudding. I liked the Bread Pudding the most. The Pudding was crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside, just the way I like it. The Sweet Potato Pie was a lot like pumpkin pie but it was made with sweet potatoes. It was okay, just not my thing. I like cherry pie.

So my ratings are as follows:

Service-Medium Speed. The servers were nice and friendly.
Food-AMAZING.
Cleanliness-3 out 5 stars. It's an outside place, so kind of like a picnic.
Price-$$/$$$


Overall, I give this place 4.5 stars! That's pretty good for a BBQ Place!!

If you want to see their website, click here.

Thanks for looking at my restaurant reviews. Stay tuned here for more and different reviews!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

La Gare Restaurant

I'd like to share my review of La Gare Restaurant. La Gare is a French Swiss family owned restaurant in Railroad Square in Santa Rosa. I've eaten at La Gare (4) times with my family. The latest was in March of this year, 2010. This was the second time I've eaten escargot.

When I walked into the restaurant I noticed a yodeler's horn and different Swiss art. The person that greeted us was Jackie, one of the owners. Jackie took us to our table and told us about the specials. One of the specials was halibut baked in a white wine and butter sauce Mmmmmmmmmm. I had my eye on that. We started with appetizers. We ordered escargot. Oh my gosh...I love escargot! At first, I didn't want to try it. But on my third time to La Gare, my dad convinced me so I tried it and I loved it! With your meal you get a house made salad of butter lettuce and vegetables with La Gare's famous homemade dressing. You also get soup with your meal. The soup was cream of asparagus soup. Both the salad and the soup were delicious. I had the special, halibut. I loved the butter and white wine sauce. I savored it for a while and if you are a fish lover, I highly recommend it. It also came with mashed potatoes and carrots.

For the basic eater (like my sister), the Chef, Roger, will make whatever you want. He made my sister butter noodles and carrots. She ate every last bite! The Chef will also make macaroni, pretty much any pasta, pretty much anything the "basic eater" might want. For dessert I had a cherries jubilee which is cherries sauted in a liquor and reduced to a syrup. They make this at your table. The waiter lights it on fire and then he puts vanilla ice cream in a glass and puts the flaming cherries over the top. Don't worry, the cherries are not on fire once they hit the ice cream.

The service is really good because they get it to you quickly, but if you want to take your time, they'll let you take your time. Once, I got to go into the kitchen and meet the Chef/owner, Roger. It's a very nice kitchen. I got to hang out for a little while and watch while they prepared dinners. Jackie and her brother Roger love to come by and talk with us.

If you want to go to their website, click here.

So I rate La Gare Restaurant:

The way it felt: *****
The cost: $$$
The food: *****
The Service: *****
Kid friendly: *****

So this restaurant gets 5 stars because La Gare Restaurant is one of my very favorite restaurants. I highly recommend it for a special family outing.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jack and Tony's Restaurant and Whisky Bar

So I went to Jack and Tony’s Restaurant and Whisky Bar for my dad’s birthday. It’s located in Railroad Square in Santa Rosa. When we walked in, the first thing I saw was the bar. There was a plasma screen TV with a game going, in case you were looking for a place to watch football. I think it might have been a rerun or highlight. Our waitress, Jessica, was very nice, and after seating us, asked us what we wanted for our appetizers. I had some questions about truffles, because one of the items was baked brie cheese with honey infused with truffle oil, and walnuts. I asked Jessica if they had any truffles in the kitchen, but I didn’t really want to try one. I hear they’re kind of like mushrooms, and I HATE mushrooms. Well, my mom and dad ordered the cheese, and that truffle honey wound up being the best honey I’ve ever had. It tasted like kind of a bitter honey with a sweet ending. It was great.

For my entrĂ©e, I ordered off the bar menu. You might wonder why, because I wasn’t in the bar. Well, the thing is, I like hamburgers. Jack and Tony’s don’t have a kids menu, but they said they’d cook anything I wanted, and I just wanted a burger. The burger was prepared medium rare, like I always like it. It came with all the fixins, and a big order of crispy fries. The best part about the fries was the 4 different kinds of dipping sauces Jessica brought for me to try. They had homemade catsup, aioli mayonnaise, homemade ranch, and homemade bbq sauce. The sauces were all delicious. My favorite was the Ranch because it had chives in it and I really like chives in my ranch.

For the “Basic” food eater, (Like my sister Rylee), they made her an order of butter noodles and a side of carrots. She LOVED it, and it didn’t cost my parents much at all. Me on the other hand…Bleccch!

For dessert, we had Mexican chocolate pot de creme, and a separate order of homemade chocolate banana bread pudding. Oh my!

The bathrooms were so clean, you could eat off the floor, but I didn’t try that. It’s nice to see that they take pride in cleaning at Jack and Tony’s.

The atmosphere of the restaurant kind of made me feel like what a restaurant would look like if my parents ever opened one. That’s something they’d love to do, but dad has another job, and doesn’t know how to run a restaurant. Speaking of Dad, he tried a flight of 3 Irish Whisky’s. Tyrconnell, Powers, and Black Bush. I was able to smell all three of em, and they actually smelled pretty good. Dad seemed happy with his whisky, which was kind of funny, since he doesn’t usually drink whisky. I guess he wanted to try something different for his birthday.

So, all in all, I’d give Jack and Tony’s a 4 out of 5 star rating. Pretty good!

If you want to try em out, or at least check out their menu, you can go to their website here.

Have a good Memorial Day weekend, and remember to thank a soldier for his service if you see one, or at least remember one like Major Dick Winters or John Basilone.

Rated 1 – 5 stars, 5 being the best and 1 being the worst. Dollar signs rated for the cost 1 – 4 dollar signs: $ = inexpensive, $$ = average,
$$$ = moderate and $$$$ = hecka expensive!!

The way it felt: ****
The cost: $$.1/2
The food: *****
The service: *****
Kid friendly: ****

First Things First


So....here's the story. A few nights ago, my family took me out to dinner to celebrate a birthday. We went to a great place in Santa Rosa, CA, Jack and Tony's Restaurant and Whisky Bar. While we were deciding what to have, our 10 year old son Logan asked the server "What's the big deal about truffles?" This has much more significance than the simple question of a young kid. This is life with Logan in a fine dining establishment.

You see, Logan is an aficionado. A Foody. He's a 35 year old in a 10 year old body, and many who know him call him Benjamin Button. He has a palate that the Michelin Guide would be thrilled to use as a template. Simply put....he has expensive tastes. His 6 year old sister, Rylee, is much, much easier on the waitstaff. She's happy with the basics, but more about that later.

And that simple, innocent question sparked a discussion at our table. We started talking about how it might be interesting and helpful to have reviews of restaurants from Logan's point of view. A fine dining experience through the eyes of a kid who knows what he likes, what his sister likes, and, to our chagrin, what we like. He likes to peruse the wine list. He likes to savor the aroma of a 10 year old Whisky, just to figure out if it has caramel, oak, or cherry undertones. He likes to cook, he loves to experiment, and, for those of you who haven't ever met him, he LOVES to talk.

We live in Sonoma County, and like to eat out. We made a conscious decision to try and take our kids with us to places that would have them, and be a family, as long as they knew how to behave in restaurants. Thankfully, they get it. But...(and there's always a but)..We might have created a 5 foot monster.

Welcome to Logan's Restaurant Reviews. We hope you enjoy the experience.