Themed Restaurants: Yay or Nay

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I love when blogs cross reference each other; I was reading on Eating L.A. about a hospital themed restaurant in Latvia featured on Boing Boing. The concept is pretty amazing:

“the food is served in syringes, flasks and operating-room dishes, and customers can be tied up in straight jackets”

I love that idea, one time my mom and I were both hungry and nothing sounded good to eat so after a lot of talking and driving in circles we somehow ended up at a hospital eating food. I don’t know why but somehow a plate of jello and coolwhip, ice chips, and bland food hit the spot. Crazy, I know, perhaps I should have eaten in a straight jacket.

But I have always like the idea of themed stuff, hell, I even wrote a business plan for a themed hotel.

There are a couple of themed restaurants and bars in LA that I know about and very few I have actually been to. There are Redwood Bar and Bigfoot Lodge (frequented both), then there are Jurassic, Medieval Times, Tam O’Shanter Inn, Royal/T, and the Indian Restaurant. I have heard of the first couple restaurants but have never been but Indian Restaurant I didn’t hear about until yesterday and now I am dying to go. First, I truly believe that the best food in the world is in the SGV. Also I know that ambiance plays a big roll in food enjoyment. There is just something about Taiwanese food served by waitresses dressed as Indians:

Low cut red halter top, black super mini skirt, black knee high boots, and a red feather in the hair.

I have to say it is pretty exciting. Plus I have been kicking myself for not frequenting maid cafes when I was in Tokyo last month. I was even reading about a place where the waitresses are crossed dressed as sexy butler men and when you walk in they say, “Hi honey, how was your day at work?” Anyway, this place sounds pretty fantastic. I think it may be easy to convince Josie with their $10 pitchers of beer and plus she was an Indian for Halloween so may feel some camaraderie. Although, I was a lady on safari/zookeeper for Halloween and I have no interest in going back to the Rainforest Cafe anytime soon.

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We’ll let you know, how the experience is, we promise. Please share if you know of any other themed restaurants or bars and if you approve or disapprove.

Here is a Novel idea….

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Josie and I love eating, drinking, and brainstorming with WiFi, whenever any question arises we simply say, “Ask Jeeves?”

Anyway, we have searched long and far for a working environment that can serve us food, alcohol, and free internet. After posing the question on yelp we decided to try Novel Cafe.

So far our dining experience has been a series of awkward turtle moments. In case you don’t know what that means you place one hand on top of the other and move your fingers in a circular motion and say, “awkward turtle”.

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These were the awkward turtle moments of the morning:

  • When Carina took a portion of the wall with her as she unplugged her laptop
  • When Josie got served chilly chilaquiles
  • When our waiter did not know how to split our bill on two cards
  • When Josie was served hot tap water
  • The waiting of two hours to get our food despite being the only patrons
  • Carina scratching her boob and brushing her hair at the table
  • When our waiter Israel frothed up and f-ed up Josie’s Stella and I said, “Make another move like that and we will have to call you Palestine.”
  • Josie and I screaming when we found a spider crawling on the bricks behind us. Josie then screamed and  made the announcement, “There is an animal, ahhhhhh!”

Despite the series of strangeness, uncouth moments, and awkward turtles I sort of feel like we fit in here. We like the communal library and the beer offerings at 10 am.
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UG Beta Party

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We had our first Uncouth Gourmands party last night, it was a beta version/test run, and it was a success! We were hoping to bring in people from very different social groups that didn’t know each other to see how they would interact and to see how the food would work if everyone brought in different ingredients. These were the perimeters we gave:

Hello friend and/or stranger,

As you may or may not know, we have begun to work extensively on a new business and want you to be the first to try it out. We will be conducting a test party for our new venture, the Uncouth Gourmands. We are a food club that values good food and good people over good manners and proper etiquette. The party we will be held next Saturday, January 17th, at 7:00pm and will be done at 10:30 pm sharp. It is imperative that each of you arrive alone with no guests and with 3 cooking items. One of the items should be a protein, the other a produce item, and the third is a wild card -it can be anything of your choosing. This will be an experiment and we are dying to see what can be created in this melting pot/potluck situation.

The address of the party is:

Carina’s apartment
(Hey crazy, I am not posting my address on the internet)
Pasadena, CA 91101

We hope you can make it and to find out more about the Uncouth Gourmands you can read our blog at https://uncouthgourmands.wordpress.com/, or you can read our About Us https://uncouthgourmands.wordpress.com/about/, or you can join our online community at http://uncouthgourmands.ning.com/

Again this is a new venture in the beta stage and your participation is greatly appreciated.

As we always say, “plunge. indUlGe. digest.”

Looking forward to seeing you,

Carina Ost and Josie Mora
Founders of the Uncouth Gourmands

So that was our idea and here is what actually happened, the party probably started at 8 and lasted until 1. We set up a UG poster, had Bourdain on mute, an iPod blasting, and had several different stations set up. We had all pantry basics (compiled from Jamie Oliver’s list) on display and for everyone to use, cookbooks on display, computer stations, cutting board and prep tables, and plenty of both white and red sangria for thirsty uncouth gourmands.

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We also had party instructions:
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Of course there were plenty of uncouth moments, like the first spilled drink of the night. Luckily, my most uncouth moment wasn’t caught as I was the genius behind the camera…but if you must know, I dropped a blue cheese knife into the red sangria bowl.

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Okay we are getting to the good stuff…the food. Josie and I introduced ourselves, explained our idea, and that this was an experiment in both psychology and food creation. Then we had everyone tell us their name, their 3 ingredients, and what their last meal would be. We headed to the kitchen and brainstormed, well Josie just started cutting, on how to incorporate all ingredients.

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Here is what was created:

  • Baked Brie with Raspberries and Apricot Preserves
  • Goat Cheese Chilaquiles
  • Italian Sausage, Mushroom, Pepper, and Shallot Rigatoni Bake
  • Pan Fried Broccoli, Bacon, and Shallots
  • Cheesy Bread
  • Fresh Salsa
  • Mint Vegetable Dip
  • Grilled Tofu with Maple Carrots
  • Roasted Sweet Potato Fries
  • Orange, Fried Leek, and Parmesan Salad

The food was delicious but perhaps the greatest contribution from our guests was the feedback and some business brainstorming after everyone filled out a survey.

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Anyway, thanks again to everyone who made it, you made a great meal, and a great party. If you were unable to attend, we still consider you uncouth gourmands and we’ll keep you updated on future events.

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UG on the GG

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Watching the Golden Globes and just saw the match up for Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy. Two of the nominees were In Bruges and Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Last year, Josie and I traveled to both Bruges and Barcelona and I also happened to see the two films and the winner was clearly correct.

I actually saw In Bruges with Josie before our trip and was curious why Colin Farrell continually dumped on Bruges it looked beautiful. Well, after visiting there for only three hours I completely understood. After arriving by train we hopped on a bus and decided to get off at the city center. We unknowingly passed the “city” center and our bus driver changed at a stop. Our new driver took us to the last stop and then said we had to get off because it was his break. We laughed as he worked a total of four minutes before needing a break. He said he would pick us back up in 15 minutes and we were stranded in a residential neighborhood. He returned and asked how we missed our stop, the city center, and we said, “you mean where the four shops were?” Anyway, I am glad that Colin Farrell won the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy or musical but the acting wasn’t that difficult Bruges is just that sleepy. Everyone was over 60 and they are all on tours following their flagged leader.

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Here is a picture I took while in Bruges.

Barcelona was a far superior city and is worthy of being an award winner. Barcelona did subject me to, one of the things I hate more than anything, a tongue in my ear. However, it also introduced me to one of the best dishes I ever had. At Noti, we tried the PEAR FAGOTTI (FRESH FILLED PASTA), PARMESAN CREAM AU GRATIN and it was A-MAZ-ING. I am a foodie who loves fruit and wants it almost every dish. Something about this pear filled pasta just did it for me, it was like a grown up macaroni and cheese and it rocked my world.

Here was my not so pleasant Barcelona moment and one of my favorite pictures.

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Fun, Food, and Friendship

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Those three things make up the core value set for the Uncouth Gourmands. However, a problem can arise when those things go against one another. Especially when you add in the fourth “F” which is free.

Whatever am I talking about? Well, it seems Burger King has embarked on a very clever marketing campaign for their new Angry Whopper that makes all the UGs of the world question their ethics. The question is: would you de-friend your friends and make them angry for a free angry whopper? Click here to read the accompanying article.

There are several questions to ask yourself before answering the question:

-How good of friends are these “friends” on Facebook? Do you even know these 10 people that you will be sacrificing?

-How much better does free food taste? (the answer is pretty f-ing great, I have endured the most god awful, sleep inducing, bores on dates for a free meal and I would do it all over again.)

-How much do you want to try an angry onion?

-Is a whopper, even an angry whopper, worth it?

To be honest I am not sure. If it was for a free 6-pack of boot shaped chicken nuggets with sweet & sour sauce I would kiss all friendships goodbye. But I am a McDonald’s girl.

If you put food above friendships we won’t judge. All you have to do is click here and add the application.

We get it…
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Homey Food

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Note: The title of this post is not “Homie” food. We will be discussing our love of taco trucks and doner kabobs in future posts but this isn’t it.

One of us (hint: not Carina) has developed an (unhealthy) obsession for Panda Express. It makes sense, Panda Express was born from Panda Inn which originated in Pasadena, home of the Uncouth Gourmands. The strange thing is that the one who grew up in Pasadena (hint: not Carina) waited over 20+ years to try it and now can’t be pulled from her pull apart wooden chopsticks. After 3 business meetings there I put my foot down and suggested we eat somewhere else tonight. We discussed trying a new restaurant but instead chose an oldie but goody, Green Street Restaurant. It is a Pasadena landmark for their famous “Dianne Salad” that I eat at least once a month. It is good, not phenomenal, but it feels like home and it never disappoints. It is my comfort salad and I love it. Anyway, I was just wondering what everyone else’s comfort food or salad is.

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Here are a couple of tips I want to leave you with:

Just because it says Home in the title doesn’t necessarily make it homey and you may think about Marley and Me in a whole new light:

Home Restaurant

Categories: Breakfast & Brunch, American (Traditional)
Neighborhood: Griffith Park/Los Feliz

4 star rating

3/19/2008

Home is kind of right, there is no place like it at least not in LA. I have always felt very comfortable here and it’s the kind of place that I like to take my mom to when she visits. However, I stopped going here for several months because of another costumer who got a little too comfortable. Home is a kind of restaurant were you sit outside under the trees and see attractive people walking by and can enjoy a nice cup of tea. All of that changed for me when the hunky man in the table next to me revealed that behind his copy of “Marley & Me” was his hand in his pants exposing himself to all of the happy people brunching. I just couldn’t enjoy an omelet there after that.

However, I just recently went back and realized that Home really has one of the best tuna melts and no bad experience with another customer can keep me away.

Just remember there are things you should do at home and then there are things you should do at Home, get it?

Also be careful of similar restaurant names. There may be several restaurant with the name Green or Verde in it but there is only one Green Street Restaurant

Cafe Verde

Categories: Spanish, American (New), Latin American, Breakfast & Brunch, Basque
Neighborhood: Pasadena

1 star rating

7/17/2008

This place was disgusting. I have tried many of the other Green establishments that I always get mixed up. There is Green Street Cafe, Green Street Restaurant, and Cafe Verde. When you are semi-bilingual like me you automatically read Verde as Green. Cafe Verde is by far the worst of the three.

I got an iced tea with a bug in it. The bug didn’t fly in and die, even though I was sitting outside. But rather I watched the waiter pour it in from the pitcher he brought out from the kitchen.

For my lunch I ordered the seafood salad and it was awful. The seafood was not at all fresh and the salad was watery and the raspberry vinaigrette was the worst I ever had.

I will not go back.

I was so disappointed by my lunch that I, a non eater of salad or greens, went to Green Street Restaurant for dinner and had the Dianne Salad to make up for my shiteous (stole that word from Perez) lunch.

In a town with so many Green restaurants think wisely and make another choice. Actually, as a matter of fact, I hate the color green. I am an orange girl so I say you try that new restaurant called Le Grande Orange Cafe. I will too. I’ll try to beat you to the review.

Enough silliness, I have news to report. Uncouth Gourmands are moving strong!
1. We now have an online network you can join: uncouthgourmands.ning.com/
2. We may be throwing an Uncouth Gourmands Beta Party this Saturday Night
3. I made Moroccan food for the first time last night. (Ok, personal feat but still a feat). By the way, I want an awesome Moroccan lentil soup recipe and I want raisins to be included. So work on that and attach it in the comments.

Happy Birthday Josie!

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You are a great business partner, friend, dining and drinking partner, and Uncouth Gourmand! I wish you a very happy year of shaking your chonies!