Saturday, July 25, 2015

Center Cut Steakhouse by Gourmet San Diego

534 Broadway in Chula Vista
(619) 508-4814
There's nothing like having brunch with your girls, especially if you haven't seen them for awhile.  I got to do just that with some of my BFs recently at Center Cut Steak House by Gourmet San Diego, located in west Chula Vista. Chef and Owner, Ramon Gomez, formerly of Rockin' Baja Lobster restaurants (if you have lived in San Diego for awhile then you know what I'm talking about) manages the kitchen/back of the house and Co-owner Rebeca Rodriguez-Beltran, runs the front of the house. Right when we entered we were greeted by Rebeca. Her energy and humor were contagious from the start.

The restaurant is spacious yet quaint, just right for an intimate dinner for two or even a family celebration!  There is this cool waterfall by the front window that provides a tranquil setting. Out on the patio, tables were set for a group to come in and have some sort of meeting.  Rebecca let us know that she has hosted baby showers, birthday parties, group meetings, business mixers, etc.. at the restaurant.  

Sunday Brunch is $9.99.  Kids 3 - 10 are $7.99.  Bloody Marys, Mimosas, and Sangria are $3.00.  
I'm not much of a drinker, but Rebecca sold me on the Sangria. You know what, she was right. 
It was out of this world!
Time for the buffet! 
Salad is offered with your choice of dressing. One of my buffet rules is to eat things I can't eat at home, so I usually....skip the salad. 

Cinnamon French Toast was made fresh and was very delectable, just the right amount of sweetness!

We all know that for Sunday Brunch it is the hot food that really counts.  There were no less than ten chafing dishes set out.   Here are your breakfast meat staples: sausage and bacon. Sausage was really good,
I should have asked more about it, I have a feeling they might make this in house, being a steakhouse. 
Next were Spanish rice and Chicken Colorado.  I didn't get to try these two, but my friends gave the Chicken two thumbs up! Rebecca shared that half of the items for the buffet change every week depending on what Chef Ramon has ordered for catering. I liked the idea because  when you visit again, there's something new to try. 
Also on the buffet line were chicharrones and chorizo con huevos.  Chorizo is one of my favorite Mexican dishes and this wrapped up in a warm corn tortilla did not disappoint!
For some of the "lunch" part of brunch, steak and mushrooms and mashed potatoes were offered. 
The steak was really yummy! Tender and flavorful.

Also a  seafood dish of Fish Almondine and veggies were also part of the selections. Something that impressed me was that Chef Ramon himself came out to survey and inventory what dishes needed replenishing. It showed quality control and his care in the food that he was serving.
Menudo with corn or flour tortillas is also offered on Saturdays and Sundays as part of the brunch but you have to request it, as it is not out in the open. Salsa we had to request too, which surprised me.  I thought that would be something made available as part of the line. I am kind of a menudo snob. I don't like it too watery and I like lots of hominy and goodies in it.  I loved Center Cut's menudo! The tripe was soft, not chewy and the flavor was on point.

Dessert offerings included arroz con leche and gelatin and fresh fruit.  I was looking for flan and something chocolaty.  Hopefully they can offer a combination dessert, chocoflan - chocolate cake with flan in the near future.  

I must have been too busy eating, because I took notes on everything I saw, but I don't have pictures of the following items:  Pasta Alfredo, Veggie Pasta, Chilaquiles (how could I forget the chilaquiles!) and Refried beans.  Living in South San Diego, I grew up on Mexican food and probably eat it at least once every two weeks. So  much to my own surprise, what I went back for at the buffet was the Veggie Pasta...melt in your mouth! 

 Seems like there's no cuisine out of Chef Ramon's reach. Do you like BBQ? Center Cut Steakhouse has a special BBQ night on Wednesdays for $14.99, choice of 2 main dishes and 2 sides!  Sometimes you just want to dig into a good rib!  I can't wait to try it!  
Just because we saw this on their separate dessert menu (and I wanted something chocolaty remember?), we had to order the Lalin ice cream cake, named after it's creator Lalo, who works in the kitchen.  OMG, this ice cream oreo crust concoction is $10 and large enough to feed at least four people. Good thing I was with my BFs, otherwise I might have devoured it all on my own!  I would come back just to eat this dessert! The soft whipped cream and crunch of the macadamia nuts gave this a great texture with every bite. So good!!!

We really enjoyed the food that Chef de Cuisine Ramon and his staff created.  The only suggestions I have, I mentioned already and some that are really not even food related are the following. I would suggest wrapping the handles of the chafing dishes with linen napkins, as they can be pretty hot to the touch.  And perhaps using separate holders for each serving utensil so that the serving spoons don't get accidentally used for two different dishes, and maybe a sign on each table that you have to request the menudo, tortillas, and salsa. Other than these minor things, the brunch is still a great value. 

Center Cut Steakhouse by Gourmet San Diego is open Wednesday - Sunday.  In addition to their Sunday Brunch and AYCE Pasta Bar on Wednesdays, all lunch entrees are under $10.  When the different steaks (New York, Rib Eye,  Filet Mignon, etc..)  are portioned, the trimmings are blended together for their hamburger patties. Fresh not frozen, handmade hamburger patties created from choice cuts of meat!  Where else are you going to find that?! You'll find it at Center Cut!

Chef Ramon, Rebeca and their team at Center Cut Steakhouse by Gourmet San Diego will make you feel like guests in their own home.   If you are looking for great food at a great price, this is a hidden gem of a place in the South Bay. Bring your family and friends to eat and consider making this your next event spot.  For $9.99 it's worth a try.  If you see Chef Ramon or Rebeca, tell them I sent you, maybe you'll get something extra for visiting!

Center Cut Steakhouse by Gourmet San Diego also does full catering, for any size event.  Let them take care of providing excellent food for you and your guests!

Disclosure: My girlfriends and I enjoyed complimentary meals. All opinions are my own.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Apple Youth Camp 2015

As a parent of an elementary school kid, when summertime comes, I always have to rack my brain as to what activities my son can participate in.  He loves gaming and he and his iPad are like Charlie Brown's Linus with his blanket.  I came across information regarding our local Apple store's Apple Youth Camp for kids 8 - 12 and signed up my son immediately!  It was an hour and a half  "camp" for three days where Apple staff would teach kids about iMovie and Garageband.  Best of all, it was free!

After registering online, I received a confirmation phone call and email about a week before the camp. Apple asked campers to bring in headphones and a digital recording device, but if you didn't have anything, they provided equipment to use in the store. On the first day all the kids received Apple Camp t-shirts to wear and let them begin exploring iMovie and Garageband.  

The staff (Apple Genius people?)  taught the campers about transforming a concept onto a storyboard, recording footage, editing, adding music and captions to create a 2-4 minute video.  On the second day, the campers worked on their projects and each camper received a flash drive "bracelet" (retail unknown) and earbuds (retail $28) - SCORE! I mentioned this was a free activity already right?

On the third day, the campers participated in a Camp Showcase where everyone shared their finished products. EJ created a tutorial video on "How to Get Skins To Minecraft Pocket Edition."  I know what Minecraft is, but "skins" and "pocket edition" are foreign words to me in the video game world. You'll have to ask my son about his video!

At the very end, each camper also received a certificate. 

Overall, the value of the Apple Youth Camp was fantastic! Fun, Creative, Engaging, and Free!  If you are still looking for summer ideas for your kid, consider the Apple Youth Camp at your local Apple Store and sign up today!  In addition to iMovies, Apple also offers youth camps centered around creating iBooks! Check out the different sessions offered here.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Oceana Coastal Kitchen Shines Bright Along the Bay!

Out of town guests usually want to experience the sun, sand, and cuisine of sensational San Diego.  I recently discovered the perfect place to showcase our gem of a city. If you want to impress your guests, take them to dine at the waterfront Oceana Coastal Kitchen at the Catamaran Resort in Mission Bay! Myself and a group of blogger friends recently dined here!

The Catamaran Resort recently completed a $2 million renovation and the new upscale eatery, Oceana Coastal Kitchen opened it's doors on February 1, 2015. When you first enter the Catamaran Resort, the Colonial Hawaiian decor emits an island vibe that sets in a relaxed atmosphere. Then when you arrive at Oceana Coastal Kitchen, the smiling sushi chefs manning the cold bar greet you into their home to feed you! The warm inviting atmosphere set by the staff really makes you feel like ohana.

The restaurant's centerpiece is the jellyfish aquarium.  The graceful movements of these iridescent sea animals can mesmerize even the fussiest of babies to a state of serenity. These beautiful creatures seem to be the mascot of the restaurant, beautifully embossed on the restaurant's coasters and daily printed menu.

The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating, with the outdoor seating literally steps from the sand. At Oceana Coastal Kitchen, there is also a private dining room available that seats up to fourteen complete with a Dale Chihuly-style chandelier reminiscent of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, California Glam at its fines

We dined outside and probably had the best seats in the house! The picturesque view included the bay and people strolling, bicycling, swimming, surfing and stand up paddle boarding.  

Live music is provided a couple of nights a week, its a great place to people watch.  If you time your dining reservation just right you can watch the nightly Summer Nights fireworks show at Sea World light up the sky. Jamie was one of our servers and she impressed me with her easy banter regarding suggestions from the menu. A number of servers actually floated around and checked on us throughout the meal. Service was top notch! I started off my meal with the passion fruit margarita. Sitting there looking at the water, sipping my drink,  I easily went to a happy place. 

From the cold bar we were served this amazing, tantalizing seafood tower.What a way to start our seafood extravaganza!

 We also had the Oceana House Roll, a sushi roll made with eel, tempura shrimp, crab and unagi sauce.
Then, straight from the oven came a selection of bread. Out of all the breads to choose from, all of us wanted to taste the orange-scented biscuits! Oh my, biscuits, butter and honey! We could have eaten those all night! Dallas, one of our servers, obliged us with a second round!  I would pay a pretty penny to take a dozen of these home!
My entree was the California White Seabass.  This was served over farro with kale, orange, beets and ancho chili. This was my first time having farro! It was so delicious, nutty with some bright tones, and the fish was meaty and flavorful.
My friends enjoyed their entrees as well.  This is the Sea of Cortez Shrimp Pappardelle, tossed with olive oil braised broccolini, mexican dried chile, and house-made meyer lemon ricotta. Shrimp, lemon and ricotta, a perfect California flavor profile!
Twoin our group, Lysabeth and Raquel opted for the Duck Risotto, a duck breast with risotto of braised leg confit, with Japanese pumpkin.  Lysabeth liked it so much she was hesitant to share, hahaha! Please check out her review too. Risotto is one of those dishes that on expert can execute, otherwise it can easily turn out gummy.  Raquel (and baby) also enjoyed the dish. Read her experience here. I'm not a duck person so I didn't taste the protein, but the risotto was cooked perfectly!
Another blogger friend, Deborah feasted on the Filet Mignon served with au gratin potatoes, roasted carrots and white raisins in a red wine sauce with blue cheese butter. See her blog here.  You know its a fancy, schmancy place when blue cheese tops your steak! Everyone agreed the mignon and especially the potatoes were very tasty!
Another star of the night was the 12 oz. Grilled Harris Ranch Ribeye served with mashed potatoes infused with roasted garlic and brussel sprouts.  Blogger friend, Ferchil, let me taste the steak and it just melted in my mouth! I think this is what I would order for my next visit! Read about his take on Oceana here.

Our group tasted each other's entrees and EVERYTHING WAS DELICIOUS!  After the starters and entrees, I was already convinced that the food and view combined here at the Ocean Coastal Kitchen was worth its weight in gold!  Then came the sampler of desserts! First up, a warm skillet brownie with vanilla ice cream. Next, warm chocolate-creme-filled doughnuts with vanilla dipping sauce and Trudy's Black Velvet Cake. 

We also tasted the New School Banana Pudding with vanilla cookie crumble. Out of all of the desserts, the brownie kept me coming for more!

The Catamaran Spa is right next door to Oceana Coastal Kitchen.  Amenities are included with hotel stays and guests can also pay a day rate to enjoy the spa.  There is an outdoor jacuzzi to enjoy and numerous machines to burn off Executive Chef Steven Riemer's creations consumed.

The Catamaran also hosts sunset luaus, Tuesdays and Fridays, now until Labor Day. Come see for yourself and bring your family and friends!

I want to personally thank Julia Geis, PR Manager for the Catamaran Resort,  Boryana, Oceana Coastal Kitchen's Restaurant Manager, and Mike Staples, General Manager of the Catamaran Resort for a wonderful evening. They made it possible for our group, the San Diego Filipino Blogger Network, to enjoy the beauty and bounty of Oceana Coastal Kitchen. Oceana Coastal Kitchen truly is a gem that shines bright along Mission Bay!  

Disclosure:  I was treated to a complimentary meal. All opinions are my own.
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