Tag Archives: happy hour

New Summer Tastes at Paul Martin’s American Grill

Last month I had the opportunity to try the new summer brunch menu at Paul Martin’s American Grill in Irvine and absolutely loved it (I’m still dreaming about the French Toast).  So when the restaurant so kindly invited me to come in and try their new summer menu items for dinner, I knew I was in for something good.

Paul Martin’s recently updated their “Taste of Paul Martin’s” menu which is a special happy hour menu that is available from 3-7 pm daily.  Not only does their happy hour run longer and later than many other restaurants, you can also enjoy the happy hour on the weekends which I love.  All plates and drinks on the Taste of Paul Martin’s menu range from $4-$14 in price.

When the Englishman and I arrived at Paul Martin’s we decided that we would try a few summer items from the Taste of Paul Martin’s menu, then go on to the summer entrees, and last but not least, dessert.  Armed with that game plan, I decided to start the evening off on a right note by ordering their new summer drink which was the Lillet Blanc California Cocktail made with Lillet Blanc, muddled orange and a splash of soda.

I always order the three olive martini from Paul Martin’s, so it was fun to try something different for a change.  And I loved this drink.  It was light, refreshing, and tasted almost like a white wine sangria.  If you are looking for a new drink with citrus flavor, I definitely recommend this.

Then it was time for the food.  We decided to start with the summer menu items first: Flatbreads (steak with onion marmalade and Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese and burrata, arugula and crispy prosciutto) and the Stuffed Grilled Zucchini with Goat Cheese on burrata tomato toast.  Both of these items are $12 on the Taste of Paul Martin’s menu.

First up was the flatbread with the steak and onion marmalade.  We were only planing on having a few pieces of the flatbread but it was so good that we devoured the entire thing.  I loved the slight sweetness from the onion marmalade mixed with the savory blue cheese and then finished off with the steak on top.  The steak was cooked to perfection and all the ingredients in this dish balanced each other nicely.  I really hope Paul Martin’s adds this to their menu year-round because it is that good.

The arugula, burrata and crispy prosciutto flatbread was also quite good and had a nice citrus undertone thanks to the lemon dressing on the arugula.  I thought this flatbread was not as heavy as the steak one, and is a perfect summer appetizer.  Naturally this was demolished as well.

The Grilled Zucchini with goat cheese was another one of my favorites of the evening, especially since I’m a huge fan of goat cheese.  The tomato toast underneath had a nice crunch and paired nicely with the zucchini.  Even the Englishman liked it, and he is not a fan of goat cheese.

In addition to the summer selections from the Taste of Paul Martin’s menu, we also ordered the Smoked Chicken and Wings ($4) that comes with homemade slaw.  I’m usually not a fan of chicken wings, but there’s something special about these wings.  The smoky flavor really can’t be beat, and we always order the wings when we are at Paul Martin’s during happy hour.

There was also a side of Sweet Potato Fries ($6) that were ordered, but would you expect anything else on Sweet Potato Bites?

After eating all the delicious Taste of Paul Martin’s dishes, we decided to keep it light on the entrée front and ordered a new summer item – the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Local Burrata cheese ($13).

The tomatoes in this salad were some of the best I have tasted in a long time – so juicy and fresh and just a little bit sweet.  And the creamy burrata cheese was the perfect complement to the dish.  Our waiter (who was awesome by the way – if you go to Paul Martin’s ask for Steve) told us that the tomatoes came from the Ventura area, which made me happy to know that we were enjoying some quality California Grown produce.

By this point we weren’t sure if we would have room for dessert, but when Steve told us about their ice cream that was made in-house, we knew we couldn’t pass that up.  We ordered the Vanilla, Chocolate and Mocha Chip Ice Cream with Homemade Shortbread ($6).  The mocha chip was definitely the favorite flavor of the night and I loved the crunchy sugar crystals on the shortbread.

Thank you again Paul Martin’s for hosting us and serving yet another outstanding meal!  I’m already planning my next visit to try some of the summer entrée items.  Until then, I’ll have visions of steak and blue cheese flatbread dancing in my head.

Houston’s: Where “happy” hour lasts longer than actual dinner hour

Houston’s is part of the Hillstone Group (Bandera, R+D Kitchen) and has been a staple around Southern California and surrounding states for years.  When it came time to celebrate the Englishman’s birthday, it only seemed appropriate to take him to a SoCal staple that has hosted many business lunches and happy hours alike.

We called to make reservations at the Irvine location on a Saturday evening for a party of 5 but they were booked up.  No worries, we thought.  We’d just get to the restaurant a little early then our intended time to eat and have a “happy hour” of sorts while we waited for a table.

At 6:30 on the dot we arrived at Houston’s where they promptly told us it would be an hour wait.  No problem – to the bar it was!  We ordered some drinks for the table and sat down and relaxed and chatted.  I had a vodka martini with blue cheese olives that was quite delicious but oh was it strong.

An hour soon passed and we were getting quite hungry.  We debated ordering more drinks/appetizers but the waitress reassured us that we were going to be seated next.  7:5.  8:00.  8:15.  Nearly 2 hours after we arrived at the restaurant we were finally seated and promptly brought a spinach artichoke dip as the restaurant’s apology for the excessive wait.  By that point everyone was so hungry that we all ordered some sort of burger or another and devoured them as they arrived at the table.  The burger was good, but between being so hungry/slightly drunk I think I need to go back for a second, unbiased opinion.  Houston’s sure knows what they are doing when they serve you drinks!

Since it was a birthday celebration and all, the Englishman was delivered a monster ice cream sundae.  This picture does not do it justice.

This was also the only picture of the night due to my martini buzz and hunger pains.  Blogger fail.

By the time we had finished dinner and left it was 9:00pm, which means our meal took half the time to eat than it did to wait for it!  While I do like Houston’s, next time I think I’ll just stick to happy hour rather than dinner hour – at least then I know I ‘ll have a delicious martini waiting for me with my name all over it.


2991 Michelson Dr
Irvine, CA 92612