Dinner at Provenance

When I first started Sweet Potato Bites my main objective was to keep it real.  And while I don’t like writing posts like the one below, it’s important that I share all my food experiences – whether they are good or bad.  If you have read my blog for a while, you might remember the fact that I love Lucca Cafe.  So when we decided to have dinner at Provenance, Lucca’s new sister restaurant for my mom’s birthday, I was quite excited.

Provenance is a Napa-inspired restaurant that grows all their vegetables straight from the garden on the restaurant’s patio.  All the ingredients are fresh and seasonal, and I personally love the idea of knowing that the carrots on my plate came from a garden just a few steps away.  I took a sneak peek at the menu prior to our dinner at Provenance and was quite excited by the sound of a lot of the dishes.

While we were perusing the menu and enjoying some wine, we were presented with a lovely basket of freshly baked biscuits and butter (which were of course delicious).

Dinner at Provenance BiscuitsOur group decided to start the evening off with a few appetizers, the first being taro chips with guacamole.

dinner at provenance taro chipsI am a big fan of root vegetable chips so naturally I loved this.  The crispy taro chip paired with the guacamole was perfect.  I think I’ll have to try making my own taro chips one of these days.

The other dish we got to share was the Napa Cabbage with chives, cannelini beans, shallots and bacon.

Dinner at Provenance CabbageI’m not always the biggest cabbage fan but this was one of my favorite dishes of the night.  The warm and slightly salty cabbage paired with the bacon and the beans was perfect.  I could make a nice meal out of that alone.

A few people ordered the clipped garden lettuces as a starter and I managed to sneak a bite.

Dinner at Provenance Mixed lettucesThis was a collection of all the things growing in the garden at the moment – arugula, radishes, baby lettuce, french beans and butternut squash.  It was light and refreshing and I appreciated the use of seasonal ingredients.

After the amazing starters I was expecting the same for the entrees, which unfortunately weren’t quite as good.  First up was my jidori chicken with blistered brussels sprouts, potatoes, and carrots.

Dinner at ProvenanceThe crispy brussels sprouts and carrots were nice, as were the roasted potatoes.  My chicken came with a thigh and a drumstick, and while both were incredibly juicy, the drumstick was unfortunately pretty undercooked (to the point where there was blood on the plate).

We pointed out the issue to our waiter and he brought over the general manager who was nice enough to explain how the chicken was sous vide which was why it was so pink/red in color.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the manager’s explanation, and was even more confused that it was cooked sous vide when it said roasted on the menu, but there wasn’t much I could do about it right then and there.  I didn’t eat the bloody pieces of meat but still felt very uneasy (esp since the Englishman had taken a bite too).

The Englishman got the burger with the fried egg and bacon on top, but when it arrived there was no bacon to be found.

Dinner at Provenance BurgerOur waiter quickly rectified the situation and brought over a side of bacon but it wasn’t quite the same.  I tasted a few bites of the burger and thought the flavor was good, however the burger was definitely on the cold side.

My parents ordered the Pan-Fried New Zealand Sole and had nothing but rave reviews (Lucca is also known for delicious fish dishes).

Dinner at Provenance FishMy brother got a pork chop which I didn’t get to taste but his overall feedback was that it was quite good.

Dinner at Provenance PorkSince we were celebrating a birthday, we decided to get a variety of different desserts and share among the table, since sharing is caring.

I ordered a scoop of raspberry sorbet and homemade peanut butter ice cream.

Dinnera t provenance Ice craemI love when restaurants make their own ice cream and sorbet in-house and this did not disappoint.  The peanut butter ice cream was loaded with peanut flavor and wasn’t overly sugary, and the raspberry sorbet was the perfect palate cleanser

The homemade apple pie came in the cutest le cruset dish with a side of vanilla ice cream.

Dinnera t Provenance Apple PieI sampled a few bites of the pie and it was quite tasty.  But then again, when is apple pie not?

Lastly my brother and sister-in-law ordered a smores dessert that looked quite decadent and they both said it was amazing.

Dinner at provenance smoresUnfortunately this is where the happy part of the story ends as the Englishman, my dad and myself were knocked down hard the following day by what we can only assume is a bad case of food poisoning.

As a food blogger this is incredibly disappointing, especially since I have had so many wonderful dining experiences with Lucca in the past.  Just another reminder how important food safety is and if something doesn’t look right to you – SEND IT BACK.  I’d rather leave a restaurant hungry than experience what I just did.

Brunch at Searsucker

This past weekend I had my bachelorette party in San Diego.  Drinks were consumed, shenanigans ensued, and by Sunday morning there was nothing I was looking forward to more than a delicious brunch at Searsucker in the Gaslamp district.

Brunch at Searsucker EatSearsucker is Top Chef Season 3 finalist Brian Malarkey’s restaurant and focuses on New American Classic dishes with a twist.  When I first had a look at the whimsical brunch menu, I knew I needed to eat there.  I emailed my Maid of Honor and asked her to make a reservation and before I knew it we were set for brunch at Searsucker.

Since I didn’t bring my Canon Rebel to my bachelorette festivities, all of my brunch photos were taken with my point and shoot camera and don’t really do the food justice.  Just trust me when I say it was delicious and I can’t wait to return to Searsucker again soon!

I’m also very fortunate to have friends that love food as much as I do and who were game for trying a lot of different things off the menu.  The minute we all saw One Foot in the Grave on the menu we knew we had to order it.

Brunch at Searsucker One Foot in the GraveOne Foot in the Grave is a fried potato dish topped with sour cream, bacon, cheese, and crispy onions.  Of course with a name like that I was expecting this dish to be incredibly over the top.  While it was on the decadent side, I found the dish to be quite flavorful and not overly greasy.

We also ordered one of the homemade sticky buns to share among the group.

Brunch at Searsucker Sticky bunNow this was decadent.  I almost found it to be too sweet, but I did really love the cinnamon glaze on top of the soft sticky bun.  I haven’t had a sticky bun in ages so this was a nice treat.

For my main brunch entrée I went with the Boring, which is just scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon and toast.

Brunch at Searsucker BoringThe name might be boring but this dish was delicious.  I was craving bacon in a bad way so this definitely hit the spot.  Sometimes there’s nothing better for breakfast than some good ol’ fashioned bacon and eggs.

A couple of the girls got the Sunday Bloody Sunday which was poached eggs with bacon and grits.

Brunch at Searsucker Sunday Bloody SundayI didn’t get to taste this dish because of the corn, but I heard nothing but rave reviews from my two lovely friends.

My maid of honor got the McPuffin (sans sausage) which I had to steal a bite of.

Brunch at Searsucker McPuffinThe McPuffin biscuit was super light and flaky and I loved the melted cheese and fried egg underneath.  I am most definitely a carnivore so I would’ve ordered it with meat, but this is a great meatless dish if you are vegetarian.

Another friend ordered the Green Eggs and Ham that came with pork belly and brioche.

Brunch at Searsucker green eggs and hamI love pork belly and her dish looked (and smelled divine).  Next time I go to Searsucker I am definitely ordering that.

Brunch at Searsucker Truffle EggsThe final dish that was brought to the table was an egg white scramble with truffle, Parmesan and mushrooms.  I didn’t get to taste this one either but my friend had nothing but great things to say.

At the end of brunch our sweet waitress brought out a lemon tart as a congratulations for my upcoming wedding.  Well played, Searsucker!

Brunch at Searsucker Lemon tartAnd for the record, the lemon tart was delicious.  If I hadn’t been so full from all the other brunch food I would’ve devoured it.

I’m already planning my next brunch at Searsucker (and lunch and dinner).  Now if only I can convince them to open an outpost in Orange County next!

What’s your favorite brunch food?  Sweet or savory?

Homemade Antipasto Salad

Ever since I had that fantastic antipasto salad at Trattoria Grappolo, I’ve been dying to recreate it at home.  Finally the stars aligned and I was able to make a homemade antipasto salad that was almost as good as Grappolo’s version.

Homemade Antipasto Salad SpreadIn my opinion homemade antipasto salad needs to have three key ingredients: good selection of meats, quality cheese, and a wide array of vegetables.  Thankfully Orange County has a wide variety of cheese shops so the Englishman and I were able to procure some creamy goat cheese, a delightful camembert, some English cheddar and provolone.  For this homemade antipasto we decided to skip the traditional mozzarella, but next time I think I may add it in.

homemade antipasto salad cheeseOn the meat front we gathered salami, ham, prosciutto and turkey.  I have yet to find a deli I love in OC so we got our meat from Sprouts, but if any locals have suggestions please share in the comments!

Homemade Antipasto Salad VegetablesLast but not least was the veggies.  I roasted some eggplant, broccoli, red peppers and zucchini and then had some olives, cucumbers, and tomatoes on the side.

Homemade Antipasto Salad SpreadAdd some rose, some homemade bread and olive oil and you have yourself a nice homemade antipasto salad!  I loved how easy it was to throw this together – this is definitely a great meal when you are short on time and want a way to sneak some extra vegetables in.

What’s your favorite antipasto salad ingredient?

Tommy Bahama Fish Fridays

The last time I dined at Tommy Bahama’s Island Grille was for a work Christmas party and I spent most of the meal waxing poetic about their freshly baked bread and honey butter.  I felt it had been far too long since I had eaten at Tommy Bahama’s, so when I was invited to come in and try the Tommy Bahama Fish Fridays menu, I jumped at the chance.

tommy bahama fish fridays menu The idea behind Tommy Bahama Fish Fridays was to create a more extensive seafood menu for patrons during the Lenten season.  This special Fish Friday menu includes an updated version of Fish N’ Chips (battered in Stone IPA no less), Blackened Fish Tacos, Teriyaki Grilled Salmon and New Zealand Mussels.

For our meal, the Englishman and I decided to order a couple of dishes off the Fish Fridays menu as well as some seafood dishes from their regular menu since Tommy Bahama prides itself on offering sustainable dishes from local resources.

We started the evening with some drinks, including the Spring Fling Cocktail, which was one of the specials on the Tommy Bahama Fish Fridays menu.

tommy bahama fish fridays menuThe spring fling is made with gin, aperol, grapefruit, simple syrup, lime and rosemary and is a delight.  I don’t normally gravitate towards gin-based cocktails but this was light and refreshing.  The rosemary sprig was an excellent touch.

While we waited for our starters to arrive we were presented with the famous bread and honey butter.

tommy bahama fish friday menu breadAnd yes, it was just as delicious as I remembered and I had to restrain myself from eating the entire loaf once again.  Seriously best bread and butter in town.

Our first appetizer was the Seared Ahi and Kale Salad.  I had notified Tommy Bahama of my allergies beforehand, so this was prepared without the corn and the dressing on the side which I appreciated.

tommy bahama fish fridays ahi saladThe tuna was seared to perfection and paired nicely with the kale.  I don’t normally order seared ahi at restaurants because it is generally overcooked, but this was done perfectly.  If you are looking for a lighter dish, definitely go for this one.

Next was the Kobe Beef and Scallop Sliders with crispy fried onions.

tommy bahama scallop slidersYou can’t really go wrong with Kobe beef so this was of course delicious.  I also liked that the scallop slider contained two fresh scallops so the Englishman and I could share.

For entrees, we had to order the Stone IPA Battered Fish N’ Chips.

tommy bahama fish n chipsThis dish was probably my least favorite of the evening only because I felt that the fish was almost dredged in too much batter.  The batter was incredibly flavorful, but it seemed to overpower the fish too much, and I found myself eating mouthfuls of batter and not much fish.

Next up was the Blackened Fish Tacos with crispy plantains.

tommy bahama fish fridays fish tacosI loved this dish – the fish was nice and crispy and the chipotle aioli had just the right amount of spice.  I didn’t eat the tortillas due to my allergies but I enjoyed the fish and slaw instead.  If you are looking for delicious fish tacos, Tommy Bahama’s version definitely hits the spot.  Plus you can’t go wrong with the crispy (cinnamon!) plantains served on the side.

Last but not least was the Peri Peri Dusted Halibut with fingerling potatoes and brown sugar glazed carrots which was my favorite dish of the night.

tommy bahama halibutThe halibut was light and flaky and paired nicely with the carrots and potatoes.  This dish is served with a hearty piece of fish but not too big so you feel overstuffed after.  The good news is that this dish part of Tommy Bahama’s regular menu so you can enjoy it all year round!

We somehow managed to find room for dessert so we ordered the Pineapple Creme Brulee and the Malted Chocolate Pie.

tommy bahama creme bruleeThe creme brulee was to die for.  It was served inside a fresh pineapple and the vanilla bean brulee had chunks of pineapple inside of it.  I will definitely order this dessert again when I return to Tommy Bahama’s.

tommy bahama malted pieI didn’t get a chance to tasted the Malted Chocolate Pie but the Englishman had nothing but wonderful things to say about the dessert.  And since we both licked our dessert plates clean, I think it’s safe to say it was a resounding success.

Thank you Tommy Bahama for hosting us and letting us try your Fish Fridays menu!  Everything was delicious and just reinforced the fact that I need to go to Tommy Bahama’s more often.  I also have to give a shout out to our waiter Emerlito – he went above and beyond to make sure everything was perfect and steered us in the right direction when we were deciding what to order.  If you have dinner at Tommy Bahama’s, be sure to ask for him.

The Tommy Bahama Fish Fridays menu is available now through Easter.