Baleen Kitchen, Redondo Beach

I cannot express the extent of what a wonderful time I had at Baleen Kitchen. Tucked away in the marina off the coast of Redondo Beach, across from the Portofino Hotel, you will find one of the chicest waterside restaurants in LA. The second I walked in, all I could see were the picture perfect views from the windows stretching the length of the restaurant. There is no other way to describe it other than to say that you just have to see it for yourself.

That day in particular, the weather was as perfect as it could get. Warm but comfortable weather, clear blue skies. It is the perfect backdrop to any occasion. I had the pleasure of taking my best friend for a real foodecall experience and I know this is one dining experience we will never forget.

Right when you walk in and go up the stairs, you have all your dining tables to the left, with a fireplace in the back of the restaurant. To the right is a lounge and bar area. I'm told they have a happy hour Monday thru Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. and even offer live entertainment on select days.

Now on to food and drink.....

I ordered their bloody Mary and Sangria. The bloody Mary was incredibly spicy. Truly a kick in the mouth so proceed with caution! The Sangria was not your average sangria, it had different liquor in it, with an added touch of carbonation. More on the sweet side. I loved the bar area and loved the presentation. If I lived closer I would totally come here just to grab some drinks. But if you are visiting for the first time, you DEFINITELY want to go while there's still sunlight.

Bloody Mary and Sangria

Bloody Mary and Sangria

DSC05919.JPG

The Noble Garden was an overall really good salad. I loved the ingredients like the walnuts, beets, and most importantly the bleu cheese. I would totally go back for this. 

Noble Garden Salad

Noble Garden Salad

DSC04793.JPG

As an appetizer I ordered the duck carnitas. I thought this was rather unique. Its not everyday you see duck on the menu, and in general was just done differently than how I'm used to seeing it. I loved the thin cornmeal crepes. On the side was chipotle blackberries and apple slaw, which added a touch of sweetness and an air of fanciness. If you're looking for an appetizer, I would recommend this for its uniqueness and bang for your buck.

Duck carnitas

Duck carnitas

At Baleen Kitchen, they have a mini tapas menu. I ordered the Baleen Slider, the Ahi Tuna Tacos, and the Lobster slider. All were delicious, but if I had to pick just one, no doubt my vote goes to the Ahi Tuna Tacos. LOVED these. I could probably eat 5 in one sitting. 

Baleen Slider

Baleen Slider

Ahi Tuna Taco

Ahi Tuna Taco

Lobster slider

Lobster slider

Of course, can't go anywhere without ordering the Mac & Cheese. Theirs happens to be Lobster Mac & Cheese....hello! Great for sharing.

Lobster Mac & Cheese

Lobster Mac & Cheese

DSC05937.JPG

For one of the entrees, we ordered the Steak Frites and Orrecchiete pasta. The steak had chimichurri and bernaise sauce with a side of arugula salad and my fave, truffle fries. The orrecchiete had a meatless bolognese type sauce with soyrizo, topped with dollops of goat cheese. The orrecchiete I believe is a good option for those that want to go meatless, but in general I wasn't a huge fan of the soy rizo. If I had to choose just one entree to recommend, it would be the steak frites. 

Hangar Steak Frites with Truffle Fries

Hangar Steak Frites with Truffle Fries

DSC04822.JPG
Oricchiette

Oricchiette

DSC04827.JPG

The ultimate showstopper was dessert....3 of them to be exact. And all three were amazing!! The apple tart was fresh, homemade, and had this delicious cinnamon ice cream on top, drizzled with a sweet and salty caramel sauce. The key lime pie was probably the best key lime pie I've ever had. Even though I'm not a huge fan of key lime pie, this one was done really well. Of course, my favorite has to go to the chocolate lava cake. It was simply perfect. Especially with the scoop of vanilla ice cream on top to make it just perfect.

All in all it was a fabulous time and I cannot wait to go back. 

From left: Apple tart, Warm chocolate lava cake, Key lime pie

From left: Apple tart, Warm chocolate lava cake, Key lime pie

DSC05950.JPG
DSC05949.JPG

All in all, I would recommend this place if you are looking for a really nice place to go for Sunday Funday, brunch, a date, business lunches, birthdays, mother's/father's day, and even a venue for a rehearsal or engagement dinner. Its upscale, classy, and definitely worth a visit. Check em out and let me know your thoughts! Until next time foodecallers!

xoxo,

Nellie Christine

Hiho Burger, Santa Monica

Hiho Burger, the newest burger joint to hit Santa Monica is creating waves with their intensely curated menu. Their concept is to do one thing, but do it well.....really well. Founders Matt Levin, Jerry Greenberg, Ajay Sahgal, and Lowell Sharron tried just about every type of grass fed beef, and Wagyu came out on top. 

There are burgers on the menu: The Hiho Burger, The Classic Burger....and I'll stop right there because those are the only two you need to concern yourself with. Both are made with a 1/3 pound of 100% grass fed Wagyu beef and American cheese. The Hiho burger is where its at though, with its topping of bread and butter pickles, mustard, ketchup, and a layer of a SWEET ONION JAM. No, this is not your typical burger. 

The beef itself comes from a farm in New Zealand...you know the kind where all the animals have a name, and from what I'm told, are on a strict grass only diet. No grains here my friend. 

Which, is probably why the burger had the cleanest beef taste I've ever had. It's hard to describe what that is like, but imagine beef without that strong beef flavor. It made me think, "hmm....is this what burger meat is supposed to taste like?" Meaning everything else that has that strong beef flavor just doesn't seem right when you know the best of the best tastes clean like this one. 

All I know is I loved it. My sister loved it. My husband loved it. OH, and did I mention the other perks? Homemade Key LIme and Banana Cream Pie. I tried the banana cream and it was so delicious, not too sweet, and totally had that homemade feel to it. The chocolate milkshake tasted like a really fancy adult milkshake in that it had a rich chocolate flavor and not too sweet (just the way I like my dessert). 

A burger and fries will only throw you back $9.75. All in all, would I go back? Yes. Would recommend it to others? Hells yes.

Try it out for yourself and check out the little video I made to chronicle my visit. Let me know what you guys think!

Until next time foodecallers!

Hiho Burger.jpg

Tocaya Organica, West Hollywood

Tocaya Organica is a fast casual restaurant serving up a modern organic Mexican cuisine. Their ingredients are of the highest quality, organic, and locally sourced. Tocaya Organica only serves meats and fish that are fresh, never frozen, and 100% free of hormones, steroids, and antibiotics.

I was really looking forward to coming here for several reasons. First off, being a blogger, you are exposed to all kinds of food. There is a bit of regret after a really hard work out, knowing that it was just to negate all the bad you've eaten. In order for this blogging thing to be a sustainable thing for me, I realized I need to make better choices when it comes to what I eat. This is why I made a conscious effort to target restaurants that are in line with how I want to eat on a daily basis.

My ideal diet would be to be vegan, but since I'm not there yet, and if I'm going to eat meat, I want it to be good meat. Good news is that Tocaya Organica only serves hormone and antibiotic free, never frozen meat. In addition to wanting to eat high quality meat, I also look for items that are low-carb and gluten free. So it was a plus that they offer lettuce wrapped tacos. 

All the tacos were great, but I already know I'm going back for the fish taco...so buttery and creamy. The chicken tinga came in at a very close second. I recommend doing the tacos "Baja chipotle" style 

From left: baja chipotle fish taco, the everyday carne asada taco, lettuce shell

From left: baja chipotle fish taco, the everyday carne asada taco, lettuce shell

From left: chicken taco and chicken tinga taco, cali green style

From left: chicken taco and chicken tinga taco, cali green style

The salad shown below sounded the most interesting...Arugula & honey lime: rocket arugula tossed with tequila-soaked golden raisins, chia seeds, marcona almonds & chipotle honey-lime vinaigrette. 

DSC05775.JPG

The burritos were decent, but not for someone like me who is trying to watch my carb intake. But duhh, I still ate it anyway :P

DSC05796.JPG

Fajita Burrito

Breakfast burrito

Breakfast burrito

Street Corn En Fuego Bowl

Street Corn En Fuego Bowl

Not pictured, but one of my top picks was the quesadilla with carne asada. I can't say this was healthy, or low carb, or low fat, but, you know what, who cares. It was good! And also totally worth the calories. No regrets.

I tried 3 of their sides, and out of all three, the guac and plantain chips were by far the winner. Mind you, all three were delicious...the corn tamale was cooked perfectly, texturized with pieces of corn, mildly sweet. The Barrio fruit was so fresh and flavorful from the lime with a hint of spicy. But the guac and chips were hands down my favorite. I loved the taste, the texture, and the pop of color from the sprinkle of pomegranate on top. Not to mention, for them to go that extra step and provide plantain chips rather than regular corn chips deserves some points right there. I would definitely order this again.

Guacamole and plantain chips

Guacamole and plantain chips

Barrio Fruit Bowl

Barrio Fruit Bowl

Sweet corn tamale

Sweet corn tamale

Dessert was also sublime, because well....just look at it! The Waffle ice cream sandwich is made with salted caramel ice cream in between two churro waffles and drizzled with chocolate sauce. Need I say more? But of course, its the chia seed pudding that catches my attention and earns major points because its gluten free and chia seeds are packed with protein. They don't have too much of a selection because, let's be real, I'm sure the people who are going there are the kind of people who prefer to skip dessert. But for the rest of us, they've got us covered ;)

Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich

Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich

Cinnamon Chia Pudding

Cinnamon Chia Pudding

To summarize, here are my top picks: arugula & honey lime salad, baja chipotle fish taco, cali green chicken tinga taco, quesadilla, guac with plantain chips, waffle ice cream sandwich. I give them all two thumbs up!

Hope this guide was helpful. Check out the video I made and let me know what you think. 

xoxo,

Nellie Christine

Flower Child, Santa Monica

There aren't too many places that can make you stop and say "wow." There also aren't a lot of places I would go back for a second time. With so many restaurants out there, I feel like life is too short to keep going back to places you've been to....unless they're that good. 

One of my indicators of liking a restaurant is a) would I spend my dollars there and b) do I like it enough to go back a second time. The answer to both of those questions with regards to Flower Child is yes and yes. 

At the very least, I know I'll bring the health nut in my life, my mom. She's always complaining how she can't find good restaurants serving high quality food. And she is not shy to express her disdain if you take her any where that doesn't meet her standards. Sometimes, I dare not recommend a spot out of fear that I will never hear the end of it. I will say though that I am willing to take that chance on Flower Child because I have a gut feeling she'll like it. 

Now as for the rest of us who are not related to satan...

Flower Child is the bomb! Its good for people who eat meat but want the whole farm raised, hormone free ish type meat, vegetarians, or vegans alike. The meal's are usually $10, add an additional $5 give or take to add meat. So for $15 or less, you're looking at a plate with high quality organic ingredients, decent proportions, and tasty as well.

Oh, that's another thing. For being a healthy spot, their food was actually really tasty!! I went with two other people, one of which who doesn't have as open as a palette for healthy food, and even she liked it. 

IMG_9525.JPG

Their curry was good, not my favorite dish, but still it was tasty. I would first try their other dishes before ordering this one. 

Mix and Match Plate

Mix and Match Plate

So for the mix and match, I got the gluten free mac and cheese, the steak, and Indian spiced cauliflower. I would do all three again and would recommend it to others.

Flying Avocado Wrap

Flying Avocado Wrap

For being just a turkey wrap, I thought it was a pretty darn good one and just done right. The wrap itself is house-made with whole wheat, flax, and chia seeds. Now, if you're stopping in for the first time, I'd say spend your money on the bowls, the more exotic, harder to prepare stuff. You might as well get something that is more unique to Flower Child. That's just how I roll, but if the other stuff scares you, then be boring and stick to a wrap. 

The Mother Earth

The Mother Earth

The Mother Earth plate is the MOTHER of all plates. Just look at it, I betchu can't even recognize some of the ingredients. I mean, there's just so much going on, so many components. From someone who cooks at home, I can appreciate how much time goes into making each of the items you see on the plate from the caramelized onion and shiitake mushrooms, to the chopped cucumber salad. But my FAVORITE component of all was the broccoli pesto. That was enough to win me over. One bite and I was like "wow!" I kid you not, I didn't even eat the meat on my plate, because I didn't need to. Everything else was so good on its own and I think we all know how hard it can be to make vegetables or just vegan food in general taste good. 

This plate would be my number 1 recommendation. OH, and one more must is the avocado hummus. Holy cow I think that was hands down my favorite hummus I've eaten.

IMG_9524.JPG

 

This place is near the 3rd street promenade so the next time you're out there, you should totally save your appetite and go here. If you've been, are planning on going,  or go based on my recommendation, let me know! I'd love to hear if you agree with me on the food. Till next time!

Vegin Out: Vegan Meal Delivery Service

A couple weeks ago I received my first shipment of Vegin Out, a vegan meal delivery service. I know that it will take me quite some time before I get to a place where I can call myself vegan (if I ever do), but I believe in taking baby steps and doing the best we can. Right now I'm in my experimental phase where I'm trying different tactics to eat a majority plant based diet. I decided to see what's out there to aid me in maintaining a plant based diet. Naturally, having cooked food delivered straight to your door is by far probably the easiest way to go about it. The question remains is could I see myself eating like this and will it be easy on the wallet...

For starters, the basic meal plan at Vegin out is 3 main courses, 4 sides, 1 soup, and cookies, all precooked and delivered to your door. In my shipment came the following:

4 sides: Vegetables with vinaigrette, Greek roasted veggies, Cilantro lime jasmine rice, Kale with citrus vinaigrette.

3 entrees: Tofu Tikka Masala, Ethiopian Lentil Stew, Chickpea Bolognese

1 minestrone soup

1 package of snickerdoodles

Everything was tasty and there wasn't anything that I didn't like or wouldn't want to eat again. My favorite though has to be the Tofu Tikka Masala. I loved the fact that it came with fresh veggies, especially the Kale salad with had slivers of almond and golden raisins.

I would say that the entire meal lasted me the whole week. I mixed and matched it with other foods. I have to admit though, I did sometimes eat the meals with a side of meat/chicken/fish. When I could resist the temptation to add meat, I did find that it was hearty and I didn't quite miss the meat. 

The total cost of this package was $128, which might seem a little steep but I do want to mention that you can get anywhere from 3 to 4 servings of each entree. So the entire meal lasted me all week. I even had some leftovers that I ended up freezing because I didn't want them to go bad. 

My overall take is that I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to be vegan, especially if you are low on time and want to eat a healthy meal but don't necessarily have the time to cook. Even if you are not vegan, I still believe this can be a great option to supplement your meals so that at least you can cut back on the animal products you consume. Have you ever tried a meal delivery service before, specifically a vegan one? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

Market City Caffe - Summer Menu

Market City Caffe has recently been added to my repertoire of go to restaurants because the last few times that I have been there, it was such a great experience. This time is no different. I went in for their Summer Special and it blew me away. I have recently become obsessed with finding delicious salads and their two salads up to bat were absolutely perfect in every way.

Peach salad

Peach salad

The peach salad had fresh mixed greens, goat cheese, grilled peaches, and roasted hazelnut in a delicious vinaigrette. I usually save the best for last but this was by far my favorite.

Watermelon salad

Watermelon salad

Fried Cod with mango slaw

Fried Cod with mango slaw

Truffle and burrata pizza

Truffle and burrata pizza

You could smell the truffle on the pizza from far away as it made its way over to my table. And the burrata cheese, basically mozzarella on the outside, cream on the inside. This completes me. So fresh and light with a beautiful truffle finish.

Verdugo West Brewing Co. Beer

Verdugo West Brewing Co. Beer

Of course, the best part of lunch is the drinks. They paired their summer special with a flight of beer from Verdugo West Brewing Co., brewed locally in Burbank. Pizza and beer, need I say more? Summer special was amaze balls, here's to hoping they've got a winter special coming up! Check out my video below and to get a good look at Market City Caffe!

The Standing Room, Hermosa Beach

I had the pleasure of visiting an awesome spot in Hermosa Beach that is loved by all the locals. Reason being, its a no-nonsense kind of place. They are totally laid back and you can find people there that are coming straight from the beach or in professional attire straight from work. 

So here are the highlights, they've got an array of creative menu options to choose from, food that is thought driven, and most importantly tasty. It's not your average hamburger joint. I would consider these gourmet burgers. Overall, I found the food to be tasty, fresh, and anything but typical.

Currently, they've got a weekly live bands that play Thursday through Saturday, how cool is that?? AND, they've got 100+ bourbons, whiskey's and gin's to choose from...HELLO!  They're also very close to the beach, so to me, I believe this is the perfect place to go after visiting the beach one day and you wanna grab a drink and an extraordinary bite to eat. Totally worth it. 

Watch my video to get all the highlights of everything I ate and what i recommend. Please leave a comment and don't forget to subscribe! I appreciate all the support!!

 

Everytable, Santa Monica

I had the pleasure of visiting Everytable last weekend and fell in love with their mission, which is to bring healthy and nutritious food to low income areas and price it according to the location. I strongly support that cause and that's why I went out to see what they were all about. 

The style at Everytable is Grab-and-Go. You pick your pre-made bowl. If its a hot bowl you just throw it in one of their microwaves and you're out the door! It's perfect for a healthy bite on the go without any guilt of eating fast food.

I tried the chicken tinga, the bbq chicken, and the green goddess salad. I would totally go back and buy all three again. Can't go wrong with the BBQ chicken becuase it was very flavorful, had kale which I love, and best part, these little plantains. Deelish. Not your typical meal for that price and for the convenience. I would expect that to cost $13 at some hoity toity place, if not more. Definitely recommend and will maybe even stock up next time I go as lunch for the remainder of my busy week!