The CHOW Blog rss

Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Forget Patty, Here’s Susiecakes

Calling itself an “all-American home-style bake shop,” Susiecakes has finally opened its doors in Brentwood. First impression: Locals are looking forward to eating their way through the menu. A major feature is their special frosting-filled cupcakes–bocarw reports that orange creamsicle cupcake is rich and creamy, and the orange flavor stands up and asserts itself. Mocha cupcake is also intensely flavored.

Banana pudding is the best in town, raves Lipps, who also loved the moon pie and coconut cupcake. (The menu lists whoopee pie, but not moon pie.) Butterscotch-toffee pudding is delicious, though maybe not for purists.

There’s also a variety of traditional layer cakes, ice box cakes, cheesecakes, pies, and cookies.

Susiecakes [Wealthy Westlands]
11708 San Vicente, at Barrington, Los Angeles
310-442-2253 (CAKE)
Map

Board Links: SUSIE CAKES IS OPEN
Susie Cakes in Brentwood open

Chino’s Hidden Gem

“Owen’s Bistro is the first, real, professional, grown-up restaurant we have found in Chino, and is a standout of the Inland Empire,” declares ChinoWayne, whose stomping grounds are notably lacking in good restaurants.

You can start with the likes of spinach salad with goat cheese and pine nuts, or mixed field greens with wasabi dressing, and tuna tartare in a fried wonton “cup.” The flavors here tend to be subtle to a fault, though–the wasabi is pretty much undetectable.

Rack of lamb is impressively presented, charred outside and perfectly medium rare, tender and juicy inside. A truffle oil-infused pan sauce lies under the meat. Vegetables are done really well here, cooked till crisp-tender and no more. The rack comes with French green beans and risotto, while beef filet comes with asparagus and mashed potatoes. Portions aren’t huge–you won’t be stuffed, but you’ll be satisfied.

Service is helpful and professional. The wife of chef James Kelly, Denise, runs the front of the house and puts folks at ease. The restaurant is in a century-old brick building in the heart of Chino’s original downtown, which the city has made efforts to redevelop in the last few years.

Three-course dinner for two runs $135 before tip.

Owens American Bistro [Inland of LA]
5210 D St., at 6th St., Chino
909-628-0452
Map

Board Links: Owen’s Bistro: The Hidden Gem Of Chino (Photos)

Brand New Source for Fine Shanghai Xiao Long Bao

Shanghai Delight is brand spankin’ new restaurant, just opened in June. There’s a huge menu, but the highlight of hhc’s initial foray was xiao long bao, a.k.a. juicy soup dumplings. They are listed merely as “dumplings”; one order comes with eight good-sized dumplings, filled with pork and soupiness, with a nicely thin wrapper. They are very juicy, and very tasty.

The other items he tried–fish filet in spicy red sauce, curry chicken lunch special–were only OK. Many other patrons seemed to be getting noodle soup dishes. The menu includes Shanghai chicken, lion’s head meatball in claypot, Shanghai noodles, and seafood. Supposedly their Shanghai wontons are very good.

Get there early for lunch. It’s packed by 11:50 a.m. on weekdays.

Cash only, open from 10:30 a.m.

Shanghai Delight [South Bay]
218 Barber Ct., in Milpitas Square, Milpitas
408-434-6888
Map

Board Links: Shanghai Delight, Milpitas Grand Opening, good xlb

Grass Fed Lamb, $5 a Pound

Queen of Sheba has excellent grass-fed halal lamb, for the unheard of price of $4.99 a pound. Meatball took some home, rubbed it in spices and seared it, and found it utterly delicious–very full of flavor, to the point some folks might deem gamy.

Queen Of Sheba [Van Ness Corridor]
1100 Sutter St., near Pho Kien Giang, San Francisco
415-567-4322
Map

Board Links: Delicious grass-fed lamb at Queen of Sheba market.

Is Biodynamics the New Organic?

Animal skulls as compost aside, the goal of biodynamics with wine is to have a vineyard that naturally deters pests and combats disease through its own strength and diverse ecosystem. READ MORE

How to Prepare for the Meal of Your Life

How to Prepare for the Meal of Your Life

Six months ago you nabbed a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town. Now the meal of your life is two days away. You have to be prepared. You have to be psyched. You have to make the most of it. But how? READ MORE

Don’t Get Your Mother Angry

A cross between sourdough starter and the living, breathing terror of a horror film, mother is both a thing of gelatinous, gastronomic beauty and really repulsive. READ MORE

If You Ate 11.3 Pounds of Food, Would You Gain 11.3 Pounds in Weight?

If You Ate 11.3 Pounds of Food, Would You Gain 11.3 Pounds in Weight?

What you need to know before attempting 24 Big Macs in a row. READ MORE

You Can Get a Bad Meal in Rome

You Can Get a Bad Meal in Rome

Here's what we're looking for: charm, authenticity, local ingredients, moderate prices. And while most Roman restaurants look perfect from the outside, watch out for these telltale signs. READ MORE

Ribera’s the New Red

Ribera’s the New Red

While Rioja still commands respect among the retired, and Priorat makes wines that only rock stars can afford, Ribera del Duero is fast becoming the new darling of Spain’s red wine world. READ MORE