Hello Brunch @ Baran’s 2239!

Hello Brunch @ Baran’s 2239!

Baran’s 2239 has been on my list of places to try ever since they opened up in 2016. Their co-owner and executive chef, Tyler Gugliotta, is a South Bay native-born and raised in Torrance. Similarly owners Jonathan and Jason Baran are residents of Redondo Beach. Being a local, I’m all about supporting restaurants in the South Bay :). 

Aside from their special tie to my South Bay hometown. I was very intrigued with Baran’s 2239 overall and their tie to great food.  The Barans family is no stranger to food. Their family owned the famed Brothertons Farmhouse on 2239 E. Colorado Blvd in Pasadena for over 50 plus years. The 2239 in the Baran’s restaurant name is homage to the Farmhouse’s restaurant.  The Farmhouse was home to many hometown favorites in Pasadena.  Baran’s 2239 is taking its queue from that fabulous restaurant and serving up some amazing dishes that the whole South Bay and beyond is buzzing about!

Just last month, Baran’s 2239 recently started serving brunch. I am a big fan of brunch and Baran’s 2239 brunch was simply calling my name! All of their offerings are made from scratch and in-house. Their seasonal and locally sourced food is provided by Gugliotta’s family farm, Weiser Farms.

I came for brunch here on Easter Sunday and it truly was a blessed and beautiful meal!

The meal with my family started off with trying their daily special donuts and muffins.

Today their fresh made donut of the day was the Creme Brûlée Donut.

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When the creme brûlée donut came out it, it came with the cutest Easter surprise! Baran’s 2239 pastry chef added a homemade little peep on the side. Not only was the peep cute it was delicious as well. It was made out of lavender. (Sorry cute peep, I ate you hehe!) It was the perfect pair to the creme brûlée donut. The creme brûlée donut was so soft and tasty. One bite and the sweet creme brûlée filling oozed out.

Alongside the donut, we were served their Strawberry Cheesecake Muffin.

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This again was one amazing pastry creating! The strawberry cheesecake muffin had fresh strawberries inside and it was accompanied with delicious cream cheese on the side. It was just like a cheesecake but in muffin form. Hmm who can say no to cheesecake in the morning? 🙂

For the main entrees, we got their Smoked and Spiced Chicken and Waffle.

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Baran’s 2239 is well-known for their fried chicken. Their fried chicken here is prepared in a very unique way. It is first smoked and then fried, and afterwards coated with a soy sauce and chile. Normally the fried chicken is served solo for dinner but for brunch they beautifully pair it with a crispy waffle, pecan sauce and candied nuts. The flavors of this dish simply fall out. You have the smoky, sweet and spicy chicken alongside the sweet, buttery waffle. It is brunch bliss with this dish!

Our second entree for Easter Brunch is one of Baran’s 2239 most popular dishes, their Indian Egg.

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The Indian Egg is Baran’s 2239’s version of the Scotch Egg.  The Indian Egg is a dish consisting of a soft boiled egg that is wrapped in a ball of lamb sausage. It is served with yogurt, cucumber and curry jus.

I am not surprised that the Indian Egg is so popular with every one. I love how it is lightly fried and how perfect the egg is soft-boiled. The flavors of the lamb alongside the creamy yogurt and spiced curry are without a doubt pleasing to the palate.

Easter is a time for new beginnings and my brunch trip here with family is a new beginning of a new tradition of coming to Baran’s 2239. I cannot wait to return and indulge in more of their delicious dishes!

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Baran’s 2239.

Hello Hermosa Beach Fish Shop!

Hello Hermosa Beach Fish Shop!

Picture perfect Friday in the city of Hermosa Beach, the city of beach side bliss. With sunny skies, fresh air, the cool ocean breeze coming towards me, today I was at the heart of Hermosa Beach at Pier Avenue. Pier Avenue for me is where beach side happiness starts because it’s down this street that you find the cute boutiques, fun beach shops and delicious eateries. It’s the street of beach smiles. Now right at the start of Pier Avenue, there’s another reason to smile because of newly opened Hermosa Beach Fish Shop!

The original fish shop restaurant is from my other favorite beach side bliss city, San Diego, via Pacific Beach Fish Shop. It’s sister restaurant is now in Hermosa Beach as the Hermosa Beach Fish Shop! The Hermosa restaurant has only been open for a couple months and plenty of people on their way to the pier are already flocking to this new beach eatery. I was super flattered and honored when I recently received an invite to dine at Hermosa Beach Fish Shop as a media guest.

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I dined at Hermosa Beach Fish Shop today and the very first thing I noticed was their menu. The menu is perfect for any Seafood fan! Folks dining here have the choice of selecting which seafood and marinade they want and whether to have it as a taco, salad, sandwich or plate! The menu also has plenty of sea options such as chowder, ceviche, oyster shooters.

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I came here with my mom because she is a big seafood fan. We started off our meal here with a cup of Fish Shop Chowder. It’s clam chowder with a twist because it’s clam chowder with smoked andouille sausage. I really enjoyed this soup! I liked the thick, creamy broth and I was such a fan of the smoked andouille sausage. I thought this touch was great. The chunks of sausage brought extra depth and flavor to the soup!

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Our other starter for this meal was the lobster lumpia. This was also a nice little appetizer! Little crispy fried egg rolls are filled with shredded lobster! It was served with jasmine rice and sesame sweet chili dipping sauce.

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My mom chose to make her own fish entree. Her customized dish consisted of sea bass with garlic butter marinade and sides of six grain rice and seasonal vegetables. It was a very healthy dish with the grilled sea bass. I got to try the six grain rice and found it be well seasoned and flavorful.

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I got the crab cake sandwich with a side of house cut onion rings. The crab cake sandwich was filled with a big crab cake, caramelized onion and a horseradish remoulade. I was impressed with this crab cake sandwich. The crab cake itself had a crisp crust on the outside and a creamy filling on the inside. The caramelized onion and horseradish remoulade made for a nice relish. The onion rings were a great side! The onion rings here are made fresh to order and so they come out nice and crispy. They hand batter each. The batter has a nice, buttery like flavor to it. I am a fan of these onion rings!

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Hermosa Beach Fish Shop is a nice addition to happy little Pier Avenue in Hermosa Beach. I truly enjoyed this sunny Friday today because of my lunch here. Thank you to Hermosa Beach Fish Shop for inviting me to try out your restaurant. My mom and I both left with big smiles on our faces. This place is sure to bring even more smiles to the street of beach smiles, Pier Avenue, in the city of beach side bliss, Hermosa Beach. 🙂

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Hermosa Beach Fish Shop.

Hello The Standing Room Hermosa Beach!

Hello The Standing Room Hermosa Beach!

From a small stand inside a liquor store in Redondo Beach to a full fledged restaurant in Hermosa Beach, The Standing Room is all grown up!

I still remember my very first visit to The Standing Room in Redondo Beach and my blog post. The Redondo Beach location is a spot where you would not expect to find a gourmet burger spot. It’s inside a liquor store and in a small corner. No tables or seats, just a simple place to order a burger to-go. That is The Standing Room in Redondo Beach.

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Fast forward to June 2014 and The Standing Room has now opened up a sister restaurant in Hermosa Beach. It’s a total change from a corner spot in a liquor store because it’s now a full up restaurant complete with a full bar offering various beer and wine specialties. It’s the grown up version of the the original spot in Redondo Beach. 😉 The Hermosa location has a wooden interior with dark brown seats and tables, flat screen tvs and a bar. There’s also a lot of hockey love via a giant LA Kings wooden sign and a “Go Kings Go” plaque hanging above the bar.

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The menu here is a little bit smaller than their Redondo Beach location but all the favorites are on the menu such as the crowd favorite truffle parmesan fries. The Standing Room’s Truffle Parmesan fries are the best to be found in the beach cities. They’re fresh, crispy and have the perfect truffle flavor with plenty of parmesan cheese sprinkled throughout.

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All the popular burgers from the Redondo location are also present here in Hermosa. For my trip here, I tried the Hapa burger. It comes with a thick burger patty that is topped with a fried egg, spring mix, onion, sesame leaf and scallion in spicy vinaigrette, Korean aioli and gouchu-q.

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I found the Hapa burger to have the perfect mix of sweet and savory. It’s very unique. It’s a traditional American burger but with an Asian twist via the Korean aioli and the gouchu-q. The gouchu-q is similar to bbq sauce but with korean paste. The fried egg gives even more flavor to this already intense burger. The egg breaks the moment you slice the burger and the egg yolk, mixed with the Korean aioli, gouchi-q and the spicy vinaigrette makes this a very saucy, messy and tasty sandwich.

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It’s nice to see The Standing Room have a new spot open in Hermosa Beach. The Redondo Beach location has been popular for years and for very good reason! I am quite sure that this new Hermosa Beach location will also become quite popular! Same tasty burgers but new vibe, new scene!

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on The Standing Room Hermosa Beach.

Hello Dia De Campo!

Hello Dia De Campo!

Ah, good ol’ Hermosa Beach. Through the years, via outings with friends, I have watched the influx of places that have opened up and closed near the Hermosa Beach pier. From the now defunct, very divey hole in the wall dive bar Poop Deck to the loud and crowded college kid haven Sharkeez to the classic tapas and wine spot Mediterreaneo, it’s always been a hybrid of unique eateries and happy hour spots. In the beginning of this year, a new addition to the Hermosa Beach eateries surfaced via Dia de Campo.

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When I first heard of new Dia de Campo opening up, I instantly bookmarked it in my places to try. It’s a sister restaurant of another Hermosa Beach favorite of mine, Abigaile. Dia de Campo is owned and operated by Jed Sanford and Chef Tin Vuong of Abigaile fame, who I had previously met one evening out at the lovely Abigaile restaurant. The executive chef of Dia de Campo is Ken Johnson, who was previously Abigaile’s Chef de Cusine. I am a fan of Abigaile’s mix of Italian, French and Asian, American entrees and I was intrigued to see what Dia de Campo had to offer. Dia de Campo’s theme is more on modern Mexican.

My friends and I came here for Bandito Power Hour. “Bandito,” is the Spanish name for Mexican bandit and from initial look at their menu, I knew that this place like a bandit would quickly steal my little foodie heart.

The first item I got to try were the crispy brussel sprout nachos. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m an adult but I sure am a fan of brussel sprouts now. Those are definitely words I never would’ve thought of saying as a kid. Now I see brussel sprouts on the menu, and I’m all about trying it out. Here at Dia de Campo, these brussel sprout nachos are definitely worth a try. I was such a fan of this dish. Crispy chips, crunchy brussel sprouts are sprinkled with cilantro goat cheese crema, pico, cilantro and jalapenos. It’s nachos with a twist with a little bit of healthy via the brussel sprout veggies and a lit bit of spice with the jalapenos. It’s a grown up version of nachos and I like it. 😉

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The other food item that I really enjoyed this night was the duck mole quesadilla with apple pico. This is Mexican fusion at it’s finest. Tender pieces of shredded duck paired up with tasty Oxacan cheese in a fresh baked tortilla and then topped with apple pico made for a delicious dish. It’s unique and oh so blissful tasting.

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To add even more taste and for little extra fire, they offered us some of their Bandito XXX Cock Sauce. This hot sauce is homemade and very similar to Mexican Sriacha. It definitely adds that fiery spice to the meal.

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Aside from the above entrees, my friends and I got to try some of their drink specials as well. My friend tried the Claremont and I got to try some of this. With cucumber infused vodka, chartreuse, lime and cilantro, this was a very unique libation. The cucumber fresh taste was abundant in this one. I also got to try the La Leona. It has tequila blanco, peach and lemon mescal. Now it’s no secret that I am the “Tequila is not my friend. Bacon, egg and cheese please” girl. Even with a little sip, this drink definitely had more tequila blanco infused versus peach and lemon mesal. It’s more the smokey side versus the sweet side. I wasn’t screaming “bacon, egg and cheese please” after though. It was more like “brussel sprout nachos and duck mole quesadilla please” after. 😉 Similar to their dishes, the drinks at Dia de Campo are deliciously different. It’s not something you’d find at your ordinary happy hour spot.

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My first time at Dia de Campo was great and just what I needed after a long and somewhat rough week. The modern surf lounge atmosphere is nice and relaxing and great place to spend time with friends. Their food and drink offerings are fabulously fusion and Mexican influenced with a twist. Dia de Campo is the newest addition to the eateries near the sand and strand of Hermosa Beach and as beach loving, happy foodie, I definitely welcome it to the beachside town with open arms.

For more smiles, please see my recent Yelp review on Dia De Campo.

Hello Mediterraneo!

Hello Mediterraneo!

“Food with Love”

That is the last tagline description that can be found on the menu of Mediterraneo . Through the years, I indeed have come to love this little resto in Hermosa Beach specializing in Spanish and Italian tapas that are made with love. 🙂

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Every day Mediterraneo has a great selection of “classic cocktails, select wine, craft beers and food with love” but there are two specific days of the week that this place has something truly special for their customers. Those days are Sundays and Tuesdays. 🙂

Sundays at Meditterraneo are Sangria Sundays. On Sundays, sangria is half off. Pitchers of sangria are normally $30 but on Sundays, they are only $15. Restaurant goers have the choice of white or red sangria. I love how the sangria is packed with fresh fruit. The refreshing drink is served in glass with a fork, for easy consumption of the fruit.

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Tuedays at Mediterraneo are Tapas Tuesdays. On this day Mediterraneo has 2 for 1 specials on several of their tapas. Their tapas consist of various seafood, meat, poultry, veggie and cheese plates.

I am not a seafood eater but my friends have enjoyed different seafood plates from here.

The seafood & fennel is a nice looking salad like plate. It has chilled calamari, shrimp, fennel and lemon.

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The Antonio is another dish that my friends have enjoyed. It has scallops, shrimp, muscles and basil cream sauce. It comes with a side of bread. The thick basil cream sauce is perfect for dipping.

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From the meat and poultry tapas, there are two particular dishes that I am fond of.

The Polpette is a tapas dish consisting of beef meatballs in San Marzano tomato sauce and parmigiano. The meatballs are so soft and tender and the sauce gives the perfect flavoring. The San Marzano tomato sauce is light and tasty.

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From the poultry section, I like the chicken souvlaki. This plate has two chicken skewers that is served with a side of tzatziki and red onion relish. Mediterraneo does a fine job on their version of this Greek classic cusine. The grilled chicken dipped in the cool and creamy tzatziki sauce is amazing.

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For the non-seafood and meat eaters, Mediterreaneo has plenty of options. Two of my favorite tapas come from this section of the menu.

I am a big fan of any dish with eggplant! Mediterraneo has a great eggplant fries dish. It is served with romesco aioli. The eggplant fries are served hot and crispy. My love for these delightful fritters got me a feature in The Weekly Yelp in February 2013.

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My all time favorite tapas from Mediterraneo is the Arancini. It is fried risotto with smoked mozzarella, peas and San Marzano tomato sauce.
The fried risotto balls are perfectly crispy and even first bite one can instantly see why this dish is so delightful. It has the nice, creamy and cheesy like texture inside.

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Last but definitely not the least, is Mediterraneo’s desserts! All of their desserts are a wonderful treat!

The Salted Caramel Pot de Creme comes with marcona almond brittle with creme fraiche whip and biscotti. It’s a soft flan like dessert with just the right hint of salted caramel. There are two biscotti crisps that are in this dish that compliment the soft creme fraiche whip.

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The Butterscotch chocolate moelleux with citrus creme, caramel and candied kumquats is my favorite dessert. In general I am not a chocolate fan but this is the dessert that just might change my mind about loving chocolate. This chocolate cake like dessert is so moist. It’s served freshly baked and it’s like eating brownies that have just come out of the oven.

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The Nutella creme brûlée is another dessert that my friends and I have tried. It comes with caramelized sugar, phyllo crust and Nutella cream. The main base is a soft chocolate pudding type texture and the bottom is a crispy phyllo crust. This dessert is very unique and interesting!

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The Mediterraneo is a great place to try classic cuisine with a twist! I’ve enjoyed all the various tapas I’ve tried here and I’ve always found this to be great place to enjoy a good meal with good friends. The delightful cuisine along with the overall relaxed yet classy atmosphere of this restaurant makes it one of my favorite spots to spend times with friends at the pier in Hermosa Beach.

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For more smiles, please see my Yelp review from the first time I tried Mediterraneo in 2012.