A lot of restaurants are all bark and no bite. They are full of too much hype and not enough flavor. From food trucks to hole in the walls to 5 star establishments, I'm here to answer the question on everyone's mind, "Is it really that good!" I am not an Iron Chef let alone a line cook. I'm just an ordinary girl who loves to eat extraordinary food.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Hot Dog Shoppe, Corona CA

I rarely go to the Inland Empire to eat. But since Ed works out in Corona, I decided to drive up there and have lunch with him. Even with mixed reviews on Yelp, we decided to give The Hot Dog Shoppe a chance.  I had to use the pictures I found on my Iphone. I thought I downloaded them before I deleted them from my camera!

The Hot Dog Shoppe claims to serve gourmet hot dogs and specialty sausages along with  side orders such as sweet potato fries or onion rings.  Names like "The Lasorda" or "Sleeping Alone" adorned their "Customer Suggestions" menu. While on their regular menu it had basic hot dogs, brats and sausages. There were way too many to choose from. I was overwhelmed with all the choices that was offered. Quite honestly, I was too tired to even go through all the options so I quickly perused the items and chose the corn dog, Mac n' Cheese dog and onion rings.

Their onion rings ($6)  tasted as if they were fried in old oil. They also tasted as if they were fried in really hot oil where the batter browned too fast before the onion can really cook nicely. They weren't crispy and the batter was just too thick. 

I love corn dogs. I love when the batter taste like corn bread and it's nicely browned and crispy when you bite into it. Their  corn dog ($3.75-not pictured) was nothing like that. Same frying method as the onion rings. Batter was a little soggy, but the hot dog wasn't hot.

The mac n' cheese dog with chili  ($4.75) wasn't impressive either. The macaroni and cheese tasted watered down and wasn't warm. The noodles were overcooked so the texture was mushy. The hot dog wasn't hot. It was more like room temperature as if it was sitting around for a while.

Everything we ordered was pretty disappointing and definitely not worth the money. This is a place I definitely would not recommend or go back to.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Johnny Rebs- Orange, CA

 I read an article online on the 5 top BBQ restaurants in Southern California and Johnny Rebs  made the list.  I went on their website to check out their menu and decided that we would have dinner there. So after a day at the beach we decided to visit their restaurant in Orange, CA.

For starters, we ordered the Southern Sampler plate ($10.25) and the fried pickles ($3.90 for the half order). The Southern sampler came with Cajun and hotlink sausages, hush puppies, and onion rings. The sausages were ok. They were a little spicy and on the dry side. Hush puppies are basically deep fried cornbread. This was my first time trying a hush puppy. I really love cornbread so I couldn’t wait to try this. I took a bite and it didn’t really taste like cornbread. It was bland sucked the moisture out of your mouth because it was so dry. I was not happy because I did order a side of cornbread with my entrĂ©e. The best thing on this platter were the onion rings. Although they were cut way to thick, I thought the batter was good and they were fried nicely. The fried pickles didn’t do it for me either. Although they were fried nicely and the outside was crisp, the texture of the breading was too mealy. It didn’t seem like it was dipped in a smooth batter. It seemed as though it was just dipped in a cornmeal then fried. It was too grainy.

The kids ordered the St. Louis ribs with a side of Mac ‘n cheese (not pictured) and the grilled cheese with a side of Mac ‘n cheese. I didn’t get to try any of this but by the looks of their plate, they were disappointed. They liked the Mac n’ cheese but the ribs was a disaster. They were overcooked and it didn’t seem like it was basted with bbq sauce while it was cooking. It was as though it was just slapped on after it was placed on the plate. The grilled cheese was half eaten so maybe that was good.

Ed and I shared the “Pork Out” dinner ($22.95). It came with our choice of three meats, a biscuit, cornbread or hush puppies and 2 sides. We chose the baby back ribs, tri-tip and fried chicken. For our sides, we got the sweet potato fries, fried okra, the biscuit and also ordered the cornbread. I wasn’t going to eat any cornbread but thought maybe it was just dry because it was fried. So I tried it. I tried it by itself and drenched with butter and honey, then butter and jam.. nothing worked. It was not good at all. Both the sweet potato fries and okra were cooked well. There was nothing wrong with our sides. So the first meat I tried was the baby back pork ribs. I was expecting falling off the bone soft. I took my fork and cut a piece off. Nothing fell off the bone; noting was soft. DRY, DRY,DRY! I was sensing a pattern. After a bite of that, I was done and went on to the fried chicken. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did. It was so overcooked. It was so fried that when I tried taking a piece of skin off it would just shatter into smithereens. I couldn’t even separate the skin from the meat! Well, on the top part anyway. The bottom of the chicken I was able to salvage some skin. The meat was hard and inedible. The tri-tip was the best thing on the platter, not that that is by any means a compliment. At least this was edible. It was soft and wasn’t cut to thick.

I was really contemplating whether or not to get dessert. Ed said “if they can’t make a decent cornbread, what makes you think they’ll be able to make dessert?” Of course I didn’t listen. I asked the waiter for his opinion on what to order. He said the fried apple pie is a favorite and said it comes with ice cream and big enough for all of us to share. So I ordered the fried apple pie ($7.95) and also ordered the banana pudding ($4.99). The portions were huge. The fried apple pie looked like an over sized empanada. It tasted as though it was fried in old oil, or oil where the French fries were fried. The crust had a good texture and crisp, but it just wasn’t tasty. The apple filling also had way too much cinnamon. Even eating it with the ice cream it tasted pretty bad. The banana pudding, was even worse. Their attempt to make homemade pudding was a failure. The pudding had a grainy texture and tasted watery. The flavor tasted more artificial than boxed pudding. I should’ve listened and passed on their desserts.

Needless to say our experience at Johnny Rebs wasn’t up to par. It was actually quite disappointing. I would definitely not return. It was a waste of $95.