#53: Pacific Street Cafe

Today, for whatever reason, I woke up fairly early in the morning and decided I might as well knock out a breakfast place.  I’ve been thinking lately that I need to go back to do the proper reviews of Country Gabel’s Cafe and Pacific Street Cafe, which I had a bit of quick breakfast at each for the Good Day Sac thing.  I texted the parental units and soon we were stepping off the freezing street and into the warm Pacific Street Cafe.

They weren’t very busy at 8:26AM and we were immediately seated, just one table away from where I was last time.  The decor is much the same as you might find at other breakfast/lunch cafes but with one main exception.  Overhead you will hear a model train doing laps around the dining rooms on a suspended track, moving from room to room through tunnels in the walls.  It’s a nice touch, and kids seem to love it (OK, I do too).  We went over our menus, which offer good balance of breakfast and lunch items.  I looked at the cinnamon roll french toast for a moment.  I had this the first time and it was ridiculously awesome, but I was in the mood for something a little more sensible this morning so I continued on. We were served coffee and water very quickly.  Servers roaming the dining room with coffee pots were quick to provide refills throughout breakfast.

Soon we were ordering.  My dad went first and ordered the short stack of pancakes.  After my mom and I ordered he said “wait a second,” and suddenly realized that his menu was missing one of the breakfast pages and instead he had a second appetizer page.  After getting a chance to look at the missing page he changed his mind and went with Mark’s Mess (eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, cheese, potatoes, bell peppers and onions scrambled together and served with toast).  From the same page my mom ordered the scrambled eggs & diced ham (three large AA eggs scrambled with a generous portion of ham. Served with toast and your choice of homefries, hashbrowns or fruit) and I chose the corned beef hash & eggs (homemade with special seasonings, fresh onions and potatoes, grilled and served with two large eggs and toast).

A little caddy of jellies arrived along with ketchup, Cholula and Tabasco sauces.  It was a very short time from ordering to the food coming out, maybe 10 minutes tops.  Mark’s Mess was indeed a mess of all it’s ingredients, and it looked pretty damn good with it’s melted cheese all over the top.  The scrambled eggs & diced ham looked very simple in comparison, but tasty none the less.  Mine was topped with the two eggs, done over medium as requested.  Finally, my biscuit was served on the side with a packet of honey and two packets of butter.

The butter was quite hard, so I cut the warm biscuit in half and stuck both pieces inside, still in wrappers, to soften them up.  A minute or two later I checked on them and the butter had pretty much completely liquified in their packets, which worked out better than I expected.  With honey drizzled on it and the biscuit re-assembled I took a bite.  It was pretty good, a little crumbly but not too dry.  I did decide that the biscuit was a bit too big for the amount of honey, so I removed the top and enjoyed that with some grape jelly on it’s own.  My corned beef hash was fantastic, it was incredibly tender and almost melted in your mouth.  The potatoes were also great, covered in butter or oil and seasoned, they were very flavorful.  I ended up saving the last fork-full to be the last thing I ate so I could savor that taste for longer.

Everyone was really happy with the food and our service was quite good.  A couple times the waitress rushed off before my dad could clear his throat and ask for a glass of water but I flagged her down soon enough.  I know they can get pretty busy, based on how they were when I first went for Good Day, but that was later in the morning.  I think arriving between 7-9 is a good time to beat the rush and have a good, quiet breakfast here.

Website: http://www.pacificstreetcafe.net/

The site is not mobile friendly, so here’s a direct link to their menu: http://www.pacificstreetcafe.net/menu.pdf

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#109 La Morenita Market & Taqueria


Today after work I stopped into La Morenita Market & Taqueria, located on Douglas Blvd just across from Roseville Square.  I’ve been driving past this little market for about 6 years now every single day and only recently did it click in my mind that this was also a restaurant in addition to a market.  There was a long period of time that I would stare in the window as I drove by trying to confirm this in a few seconds from my car but it was always somewhat difficult to make out anything in time.  Finally I realized they do have some tables and I saw people eating once, so I added it to my list.

There is a small amount of parking in the back, which seems to be shared by the auto shop and car wash on that corner.  I walked in at about 4PM to a mostly empty shop.  There was one customer milling about, waiting for his food I think.  At first I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to order.  The counter and register to my immediate left sd no sign of a menu or reason to go there, so I slowly made my way further inside.  To the right it opened up to a small dining room with half a dozen tables.  Finally, all the way to the back and around a shelf I discovered a tiny nook with a menu and a glass display case that was serving as a counter of sorts.  The small Pepsi menu was augmented by a larger homemade menu with photos of items to the side (which was really awkwardly located and hard to get a picture of).  It seemed like they had the basics that you might expect at a typical taqueria and not much more (though I may be wrong, perhaps they make a full menu’s worth of food and you simply have to know or ask).

When I approached the counter and was looking up at the menu, a woman working in the kitchen called to someone in the back.  A moment later another woman arrived to take my order.  I asked for a carnitas plate, she said she’d bring out chips, and that was that.  I turned around and took a seat in the dining room.  Several of the tables were dirty but she came out and cleaned them all up after delivering my chips and salsa.  Behind me the entire wall was lined with coolers full of bottled and canned beverages.  The selection was similar to any other convenience store – water, soda, sports drinks, a small selection of beers.  I guessed that you just grab whatever you want and pay afterwards, but not being 100% sure I decided to go without unless I got thirsty, which I didn’t.  I later got confirmation of this when another customer ordered his food, grabbed a soda and sat down to his chips.

The chips weren’t anything special.  They were room temperature and had a decent crunch to them, but not much else.  The salsa was thin but packed a satisfying heat to it.  Although these were pretty uneventful, I did find myself continuing to snack on them all the way to the end, so they definitely weren’t bad.

It wasn’t very long before my carnitas plate was brought out to me, perhaps just about 5 minutes.  The amount of food felt right for about $8.  The carnitas were hot and steaming away when it arrived.  Instead of being shredded or pulled, these were chunks of various sizes from big and juicy to little crispy bits and everything in between.  The rice and beans looked pretty standard, and indeed they were.  I tasted each one by itself before mixing them together with the lettuce.  I gathered up a little bit of everything along with some of the plain looking guacamole and wrapped it up in one of the hot corn tortillas that were in a basket off to the side and wrapped in foil.  Overall it was OK.  The guacamole seemed like it probably came from a jar, a little disappointing but not unexpected based on it’s appearance.  All the other ingredients felt like they were covering up what might be pretty good carnitas, so after a 2nd tortilla I went to the fork and ate the rest of the plate one thing at a time.  The carnitas were, in fact, a lot better this way.  They did have a lot of delicious flavor, particularly the bigger, fattier pieces.  They all had a nice crisp to them on the outside, and as they got smaller they became more and more crispy until they were basically little pork chips of sorts, but still pretty tasty.

When I was finished I went to the main counter where the cashier asked what I had ordered and then rung me up.  He confirmed that this was a family run restaurant when he commented to me that his mother was the cook.  I wish the rest of the plate was up to the level that the carnitas was but unfortunately it was fairly lacking.  The service, while very minimal, was good overall.  Everyone seemed friendly.  I like the idea of this place but if I want to get a crazy good carnitas plate I know there are a few other places here in Roseville that are a big step up in execution.

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#108: Bombay Bistro

 

On to 2013 and with the way things have gone so far, the last year of my mission!  I’m starting out with Bombay Bistro, an Indian restaurant tucked far back in a corner of the Hobby Lobby shopping center on Douglas.  I actually came here a few times in the last week in order to use up some Groupons that were very close to expired.  For some reason I had purchased several.  First, dinner on Saturday with my friends Anne & Justin, a couple days later for the lunch buffet with Justin, and take out dinner for myself last night.

Anne, Justin and I arrived sometime after 6PM on Saturday.  We entered the large dining room where a half dozen or so tables were occupied.  One of the servers told us to sit anywhere we liked.  I picked out a table near the back and we sat down in the high-backed chairs.  Glasses were already at the table and they were filled with water within a couple minutes, it took another minute or so to get menus though.  We ordered drinks when our server brought those out.  I got a mango lassi (mango blended with homemade yogurt, milk and rose water), Justin went with a Coke, and Anne ordered a glass of white wine.  The lassi was very cold, almost icy even.  It was as delicious as every other one I’ve had, with that sweet mango flavor that lingers after each sip.  Anne & Justin both tried it and liked it so much they each ordered one later on as dessert.

We took some time deciding on our food.  Justin was not very familiar with Indian food (not to say that I am) so I recommended he order a tikka masala dish.  I think it’s a great intro to Indian food, rich and flavorful without being very spicy.  He chose the lamb tikka masala (boneless lamb cooked in clay oven and cooked with mildly spiced creamy tomato based curry).  Anne picked out the paneer masala (semi dry preparation of cheese made with bell peppers and onions).  I chose the chicken biryani (rice based dish cooked with curry sauce).  We also tried to order aloo saag (potatoes cooked in spinach with spices) but were told they were out.  For an appetizer we got a double order of vegetable samosas (two crisp patties stuffed with potatoes and spices).  While ordering we noticed our server was a little off.  Delays in his responses were just long enough to make us wonder if he had heard us or not, and he was very curt.  I took a guess that perhaps a normal server was out and he was filling in but a little out of his element.  Other than that though he was fine, checked on us frequently enough and took care of us to a satisfactory level.

The samosas were soon to arrive, paired with mint and sweet chutneys.  These were fantastic, fried to a crisp and flaky perfection.  Inside I could make out peas and potatoes, but I think there was probably a little more to them.  It didn’t take too much longer before our main items were delivered.  The chicken biryani arrived in a medium sized bowl and was yellow in color.  With it was a little bowl of what I guessed was some sort of yogurt to go over it and cool it down (spice-wise) [Google is my friend, it is apparently called raita and is indeed a yogurt based sauce or dip].  The lamb tikka masala and paneer masala each came in a smaller bowl along with a side of rice.  Last to arrive was a basket of hot, fresh naan.  We dug right in.  The chicken biryani was very aromatic and had a non-trivial spice that snuck up over multiple bites.  Sips of lassi were a great way to cool it down as needed, and later when I put some of the raita on it it helped keep it in check.  There was quite a bit of biryani left which I took home, but not having a good way to take the raita with it I was subject to that building spice the next day for lunch (I probably could have asked for a little container to put it in but didn’t think about it at the time).  I should have jotted down some notes because I can’t really recall what the paneer masala tasted like, though I do remember it being pretty good.  Anne commented that the cubes of cheese were remarkably like tofu in appearance and texture, which I agreed with.  My favorite by quite a bit was the lamb tikka masala.  The lamb was nice and tender and the curry sauce was thick, creamy and rich.  I ended up having all of the leftovers because they forgot theirs in my fridge later 😉

On to dessert, and I was quite excited about this.  I should note that Bombay Bistro has practically no online presence (except for a facebook page), so I was looking at third party sites to try and find menus prior to arriving.  On one of these menus I saw a mango cheesecake with mango sauce which sounded pretty awesome.  Unfortunately their actual dessert selection was not quite what I found online (which isn’t really their fault, I probably shouldn’t have trusted the other source in the first place.  I’ve scanned the official Bombay Bistro takeout menu and posted the link at the end of this post so you can see what they actually have).  Anyway, I was left to make an alternate decision from the following: kheer (sweet rice pudding with nuts), gulab jaman (dry milk and cheese deep fried and soaked in honey syrup), pista kulfi (pista ice cream), mango kulfi (mango ice cream) or a mango Sunday (2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with mango pulp with whipped cream).  I asked for the mango kulfi, thinking mango ice cream would be a good substitute, but was unfortunately told that they were all out.  Defeated, I went with the gulab jaman.  I’ve had this before at an Indian buffet in Folsom, so I knew it would be good anyway.  Out it came in a little cup.  Best described as dense, sweet donut holes, these are over the top sweet when you take into account the honey syrup.  They are served hot, and the syrup is fairly thin as a result, but still very, very sweet.  These were much better than the buffet ones I had and I was quite pleased by the time I took the last bite.  I still want to try the mango ice cream eventually though.

Other than the service being a little odd and being out of a couple things, I’d say this was a pretty good dinner overall.  I returned once more for the buffet a couple days later.  The buffet selection seemed about on par with what I’ve seen elsewhere with a couple exceptions.  I did not see any appetizers or desserts.  Also at that Folsom buffet I found an amazing mango pudding that tasted exactly like the lassi I love so much.  Was kind of hoping to see that here as well, but unfortunately there was nothing on the sweet side.  The next night I returned to finish off the last groupon and ordered a couple items for takeout.  They were ready in about 20 minutes (I called ahead).  The guy that helped me over the phone and in person once I arrived was much more personable than the server we had the first night.  Of note with this order was the saag paneer (cubes of homemade cheese cooked in spinach with spices).  The cheese in this was quite a bit different than the cheese that was in the paneer masala.  These pieces were much harder and drier, almost more like an aged cheese.  It wasn’t bad – in fact I liked it quite a bit – it was just much different from what I’ve had elsewhere and was expecting.

I’m happy with Bombay Bistro overall.  I think the food is of similar quality to Mehfil.  I might say that the service at Mehfil puts them a bit ahead, but it probably just depends on who is helping you at either place.

Scanned Menu: Click Here

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