Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bud's Louisiana Cafe, Kearny Mesa, San Diego, CA

My wife and I were heartbroken after the Gulf Coast Grill was shut down.  I took a break from Cajun food for a while, but there is something about that spicy flavorful stuff that I just ignore.  A quick glance through The Reader brought to my attention a little Cajun place hidden in an industrial park in Kearny Mesa.  I sweet talked my wife into making our way out there, and am I ever glad I did.

Bud's is everything that comes to mind when I think about what a Cajun/Creole restaurant should be, well minus the location.  My wife and I showed up for a late lunch, expecting it to have settled down some, but Bud's was still plenty busy when we got there.  We were quickly shown to a seat outside, and settled down to look over the menu.  It took a fair bit of restraint but I resisted the urge to order pretty much everything on it.
Side of Jambalaya

I saw they had pretty much every one of my favorite dishes: gumbo, jambalaya, po boys, soft-shelled crab.  Just looking over the menu made my mouth water.  After much contemplation I decided on a cup of jambalaya, and a po boy... but which one?  I turned to our server and sought advice, he gave a couple of recommendations, mostly what was popular, but then he mentioned his personal favorite, fried catfish.  Which is one of my most favorite Cajun dishes, but not always the easiest to cook.  I don't know if it is just me but it seems near impossible to find good catfish.  I've had it overcooked, and under-seasoned, but rarely have I had it just right.  I guess I could have gone for something easy but I wanted to see just how good Bud could cook.  My wife settled on the Louisiana Chicken, and surprised me by ordering a Caesar Salad then we sat back to enjoy the atmosphere.

Awesome Caesar Salad

 We didn't wait very long, but as we did our waiter was quick to refill water and tea without having to be flagged down, one way to ensure a good tip from me.  Finally our first dishes arrived.  I looked over my jambalaya, noticing the chunks of sausage, smoke ham, and what i believe was some type of fish, and smiled.  The rice was cooked perfectly, spicy but not too hot, the meat was warm and filling.  My wife quickly noted I had a stupid happy grin on my face the whole time I was eating.  I couldn't help it, it's been too long since I had really good jambalaya.  My wife's Caesar salad came out at the same time.  I don't know if it was the atmosphere or my good mood, but even the bite of my wife's Caesar salad tasted better than any Caesar I'd ever had, and Caesar is my go to salad. 

Gigantic Catfish Po Boy

Just as we finished the first dish our main dishes came out.  The first thing I thought upon seeing my Fried Catfish Po Boy was, how am I going to finish all this.  It looked like they used an entire catfish in the thing.  My first bite was perfect, it was an amazing type of crunchy, smooth, hot, and just the right amount of spicy that I remember Catfish is supposed to be.  The bread was firm but giving.  The fries were flavored, and came with a side of this spicy ketchup that I wanted to add to everything.  My wife's food was also pretty impressive looking.  I stole a few bites of it, even tried the mushrooms which I usually avoid, and it tasted great.  Definitely the right amount of spice for my wife.  I probably would have eaten more but like I said that Catfish Po Boy was gigantic.
Louisiana Chicken

 So ended a memorable and very enjoyable lunch at Bud's Louisiana Cafe.  I already have plans to return on a Wednesday or Thursday for dinner as that is the only time they serve beignets.  Which if I remember from my youth, at Disneyland, are little puffy pieces of doughy goodness that you got if you were a good boy, so at Disneyland I was always a very good boy.  See y'all there.

Bud's Louisiana Cafe
4320 Viewridge Ave, "A"
(In the Balboa Business Center)
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 573-2837

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Adams Avenue Grill, University Heights, San Diego, CA

Adam's Avenue Grill

Picture a beautiful Sunday Morning.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing, a faint breeze gently brushes the trees outside my window, and I'm fast asleep.  Let me just say this is not my regular Sunday Morning.  I'm not sure why but for the last couple of years I've been driven to rise at the crack of dawn and get things done, weekday or not.  So it came as a surprise when the clock struck 10 and I found myself still in bed.  My wife on the other hand had no trouble sleeping in, and awoke with a beautiful smile on her face.  Distracting me for a few moments from the fact that it was at least 2 to 3 hours past the time I should have eaten, but only for a few moments.  Dragging my bedraggled body out of bed I threw on some clothes and with my wife started on a journey to one of the best restaurants in San Diego, Adams Avenue Grill.
Tasteful Interior
Of course that didn't start off as my destination, but somehow I found my way over to University Heights.  Once there I considered stopping at a little Mexican place, or for some Southern far with a side of bluegrass, but somehow I made it over to Adams' Avenue and once there I saw it.  Encased in white it fairly growled on the4 warm Sunday pre-lunch hour.  My wife had been here before, and returned with stories of just how great it had been. I saw a parking place conveniently around the corner from the place, a sure sign I was meant to eat there, as parking in the area is not that great, and pulled to the curb.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Dessert
Upon entering my eyes instantly went to the deserts in a small counter at the front of the store.  then they wandered on to the rest of the interior.  Adam's Avenue Grill was clean but colorful.  Every table encased in white linen, offsetting the hints of color from a variety of art that decorated the walls.  We were quickly greeted by a staff member, and a few moments later by the chef: Jim Klepis.  I didn't know that at the time, but h greeted us with a big smile and led us to our table.  Our waitress, who I actually feel a bit bad about not remembering her name, approached and recited the specials of the day.  Which reminds me, if I don't get anything else across in this review I want to make sure that my readers understand, the service was amazing.  From the busboys to the waiters everyone had a smile on their face and really made my wife and I feel welcome.  After hearing the specials I looked over the menu, and I had a lot to look over as both breakfast and lunch were available.  After a lot of perusing I settled on the Chipotle Marinated Steak and Enchiladas, because isn't that what everyone wants to eat in the morning.  My wife decided to get the Bacon Stuffed Waffle, and Cheesy Grits Stack.  Seriously how did they come up with these combinations?

Chipotle Marinated Steak & Enchiladas (you can glimpse the Enchiladas beneath the egg)
Somewhere between 15 and 20 minutes later they brought out our food, and my first thought was, "This is too pretty to eat."  ow I usually don't go on about the presentation but I could tell somebody had given some serious thought as to how they wanted our meal to look.  Not to much mind you, it didn't look like modern art; it shined just enough for me to tell the chef in the back really cared about the food and what his customers thought of it.  Soon after we dug into what was one of the best breakfasts I've ever had.
Bacon Stuffed Waffle & Cheesy Grits Stack
The steak was marinated perfectly, not burn you moth off spicy, just hot enough to add some flavor, and the cheddar cheese enchiladas were just the right amount of cheesy gooey delicious.  Together they created this amazing pallet of flavors that made the whole dish greater than what was around it.  Needless to say my egg, sunny side up, was perfect.  I glanced over about halfway through my meal to see my wife smile as she took another bit of the cheesy grits.  Now I'm no grit person, so I trust all confer all grit related dishes to my wife for commentary, and the smile on her face said it all.  I snaked a bit before she finished, and found the hollandase sauce combined with the grits and the waffle were another amazing combination of flavors I had not expected.  Seriously how do they come up with this stuff?

That was my first visit to Adams Avenue Grill, but not my last.  I've gone there many times since with friends and family, even for my wife's birthday.  I've left a few pictures below of what I and others have gotten there, including what my sister has described as the best Turkey Burger ever.  I have only one critique, and that is about the Lavender infused Crème Brule.  I didn't think it was possible to over infuse a desert to the point that it taste like soap, but that is what they did.  I will say it was a very novel experience to eat something that taste like shampoo but without the bubbles or soapy aftertaste, but not one I want to repeat.  So avoid that one dish, you can't go wrong with everything else on the menu.

Adams Avenue Grill
2201 Adams Avenue
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 298-8440

One of the Specials but if I remember correctly - Flat Iron Steak with a Burgundy Red Sauce Reduction, Horseradish Gorgonzola Mac and Cheese, and Veggies


Carolina Stuffed Turkey Meatloaf & Maple Spiked Sweet Potatoes

Slice of Pie on my Wife's Birthday

Best Turkey Burger Ever!