Harbor Springs is a lovely little town up in Northern Michigan, and yet between it and Petoskey (another lovely, somewhat bigger town), there isn’t much beyond trees, condos, lakes and a couple of ski mountains. Oh, and there’s also Teddy Griffin’s Roadhouse, which has been situated there as long as I can remember. They serve up a combination of bar food, fancier European-style food, Great Lakes food and some of the most delicious bread in the world.
It’s not often that I eat at a new place (for me) twice before getting a chance to review that place. Yet, that weirdly happened with Hash Kitchen, a breakfast spot (no, not a dispensary) with a few locations around the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. As you may expect, they specialize in Bloody Marys. Okay, but also in different kinds of hash if you’re not in a Bloody Mary mood, which I literally never am.
Hotels aren’t exactly known for their food. Yet, there has been a trend to try to get better restaurants into hotels and I give those hotels major props for trying. In Pasadena the dusitD2 Constance Hotel has a spot called Constance Perry’s. It’s kind of Asian, kind of American, but definitely not fusion because those dishes kind of stand out on their own.
Ever since I started going to the South Pasadena Farmer’s Market I have been intrigued by a restaurant lurking behind the stalls, going by the name of Communal. It seemed to be the type of neighborhood spot with solid food that would keep locals coming back for more. Obviously, though, I didn’t want to judge book by it’s cover and had to find out for myself.
Greasy spoons are some of the greatest restaurants in the country – giving people access to hearty food and the gamut of surly to humorous waitstaff. One place you may not expect to find such a place is Ojai, California – which is more known for a level of spiritual pretentiousness than greasy food, yet I found myself at Bonnie Lu’s – a quintessential greasy spoon right on the main drag. Of course, it was next door to a paleo-vegan-gluten-free vomit factory, so I knew I was still in Ojai.
The Eatery in Pasadena is undoubtedly one of the city’s hidden gems. It’s off the beaten path and in a building that seems much more likely to house a Mexican grocery store than a fancy restaurant (in fact it does share the building with such a store). But once inside the candles, dim lighting and intimate ambiance scream non-pretentious fanciness. Of course, none of this would matter to me if the food didn’t satisfy my unvegan desires.
When I first saw that a new spot called Brü Grill was opening up just down the street from my office in Pasadena I got super excited. Such is the life of a nine to fiver. It seemed a little upscale for my taste, but I thought it deserved the old college try and I went to find out what they could offer a man like me at lunch.
There’s something about fusion done well that really gets me excited. Throw some Korean BBQ into tacos and I’m sold. Try to make Mexican food Kosher, not so much (don’t underestimate the need for cheese!). But I had never thought of Indian food as something to fuse until I found California Chutney in Old Town Pasadena. This place is all about fusing Indian food with American (and by American I also mean Mexican because, hey, North America).
Tacos tu Madre was blowing up all over the social media a few months ago with amazing-looking burritos that seemed to represent a new level of delicious fusion. Thus, I had to give the place a try and had my best opportunity when out in West LA. They were out of a couple things, but this didn’t impact what I had in mind. There are a number of options and they are all available as a burrito, a taco or a bowl.
Part of me feels like the whole fusion fad is behind us, but that just means that when a new fusion spot appears on the scene and gets good reviews it’s probably worth going to. Thus, the world has Humble Potato in Westchester (and Culver City), which merges Japanese and American food. Fortunately, they offer a whole lot more than potatoes.
Nonetheless, we ordered some regular fries and sweet potato fries just to see how humble they would be. Turned out they were pretty humble. Seriously, there was nothing extravagant about either potato as they both put up some solid flavor without trying to do too much.
As for my meal, though, I ordered the Katsu Sando, which is Japanese for chicken cutlet sandwich. It’s typically topped with HP and tonkatsu sauce, as well as some slaw, but I got the slaw on the side for the ladies at dinner with me. I also ordered a fried egg on the top along with some curry on the side for good measure.
The sandwich was more than just humble, which is good because it was not a potato. The cutlet was perfectly fried, there was just enough sauce on top and the egg was nice and runny. The curry was even pretty good, but not anything special, plus it was packed with veggies for no good reason. Nonetheless, I had never thought to eat chicken katsu as a sandwich and now I can’t comprehend not having that as an option. In that sense, Humble Potato did me good and I would love to get back and take down one of their Hambagas.