Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Chicken Fried Steak at Harry's Coffee Shop: La Jolla, CA

I think you can't possibly like driving to the village of La Jolla unless you live there. Its not the easiest destination to get to in SD county, its always so congested and parking can be a bit tough to find when fighting for spots with tourists. Nevertheless, I still make my way down there to grab some breakfast and hang out at the cove or watch the seals at Children's Beach.

LH introduce us to this place a while back ago and it still stands as my most favorite place to get chicken fried steak. We usually wait till ML is in town and then head on down there but this particular weekend, EK and I had a monster craving so we made the trip down ourselves. The drive wasn't bad and parking was pretty good for a weekend- I got a spot in front of the shop!

There was however a wait as usual but it was short and we were seated promptly with menus when it was our time. Did we really need menus? We already knew what we were here for but we read the menu anyways. We both ordered chicken fried steak with hash browns, biscuits and gravy on the side. Only difference in our orders were the eggs- I like scrambled and EK usually gets easy over or sunny side up.

The chicken fried steak was almost everything I had hoped for as usual... moist, flavorful, crispy and crunchy on the outside yet tender on the inside. However, I feel that the portion size has been getting smaller every time I come back. The first time I came it was a gargantuan thing that dominated half the plate... kinda hard to see in the picture but now its like a third of the plate. Notice the gravy on the side- I like to cut up my chicken fried steak and biscuits and dip it into the gravy. Love the combination of textures- crispy, crunchy, tender, smooth and creamy! I think the chicken fried steak here is so tasty that it doesn't need the eggs, hash browns and biscuits as fillers if only it were slightly bigger but that's just me speaking.

The biscuits were very warm and buttery but a little on the soft side for me. I don't remember them being this soft before- maybe they were day old on this visit? I think next time I'll ask to get them toasted as I like it nice and crispy on the outside.

Harry's Coffee Shop
7545 Girard Ave.
La Jolla, CA 92037
6am-3pm daily

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chicken Fried Steak at Ramona Cafe: Ramona, CA

Currently in San Jose and today's weather is slightly gloomy but really not that bad for late May weather. I'm just really glad I wasn't here last weekend when it was an oven. I had initially intended on writing about 2 places to compare their chicken fried steak but it was getting kinda longish so I'll just give both places their respective posts. I've been sitting on this post for a while so here goes the first place.

The weather in San Diego has been rather funky... chilly and rainy one minute, warm and sunny the next. A while back ago, I was watching Food Network during my job hunting months. I rarely watch Food Network anymore as it has become filled with with Rachel Ray $40 A Day type shows. I really feel the quality of programs available on that network has gone down hill. I like the original Iron Chef where chefs actually had to use their creativity to make something awesome out of a main ingredient that was totally exotic like fish heads. New Iron Chef... blah! How hard is it to make something when the main ingredient is steak!

Funny thing is that I was watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives(one of those $40 A Day type shows) and they were featuring Ramona Cafe in Ramona in the episode I was watching. Turns out one the cafe's specialties is chicken fried steak which piqued my interest in giving the place a run. Who doesn't like chicken fried steak?!? Well seasoned, moist, tenderized cube steak breaded and fried like fried chicken with sausage gravy on the side to maximize the longevity of the crispiness and a side of home fries/ hash browns + biscuits. OMG! I don't eat this all the time or else you'd need to wheel me around in a wheel barrel but I do relish a well made chicken fried steak when I give into cravings.

So one weekend, EK, LH, ML and I packed in LH's Fit and we headed on out to the sleepy little town of Ramona. Upon arrival I thought service was a little rude. We weren't even handed menus!!! I saw several other tables receive menus shortly after being seated and eventually got fed up so I asked EK to grab us a few menus only 3 ft away from us. Even then it took some time for the waitress to come take our order.

So the orders were taken and the chicken fried steak arrived! I totally forgot to order the gravy on the side and regretted it as the crispiness of the breading soon went away. I found the chicken fried steak to just be ok... definitely not worthy of being mentioned on a nationally televised cable TV show. It was a little on the dry side- tasting like a not so juicy hamburger patty and I think lacking in flavor. Breading wasn't bad but uneventful after the dry meat. Gravy and home style potatoes weren't bad but my eggs weren't at all fluffy.

We spotted some cinnamon rolls that looked tasty and were also featured on the show but unfortunately arrived too late to claim them as two ladies at another table just finishing up their meal nabbed the last two. Maybe the cinnamon rolls are the real show stopper of the cafe?

Overall I felt kinda... blah about the visit. I definitely wouldn't go out of my way again to visit this place. Maybe if I was in Julian for some apple pie or randomly in the area. I think I felt more bad about dragging the group there. It's one thing to go out of the way and find a gem with other people another to find a dud.

Ramona Cafe
628 Main St.
Ramona, CA 92065
6am to 8pm daily

Ratings and Recommendations by outbrain