Tag Archive: restaurant review

Brunch and shopping

Last week I barely held the family’s meals together without menu planning or a real shopping trip.  As a result, we went to all. the. stores. on Saturday.  And while it wasn’t pleasant, it was fine by me because the first part of the day was STELLAR.  The food part, that is.

New things on the Pushkin’s Restaurant menu!

Now that P is able to eat out, it’s fun to spend weekends with all of us together dining at restaurants.  Because we can!  I can’t wait to explore more of Sac.  That said, it’s really hard to go anywhere else besides Pushkin’s because it’s SUCH GOOD FOOD.  And kid friendly.  And reasonably priced.  And gluten free.  And dairy free.  Like, how could we not go here all the time?

We way over-ordered but I do that on purpose because I like taking leftovers home because then I have yummy eats for later breakfasts.

I got the kids the bacon pressed waffles (L) and the two egg plate with hashbrowns and bacon (R) to share.  I was planning on swooping on some of their food, but then my vegan parfait arrived.

GUYS.  I will never order anything else again.  I know it’s hard to fathom – a parfait shouldn’t be as life changing as something else more exotic like chicken and waffles, but it was literally the best breakfast food I’ve eaten in I can’t even tell you how long.  Words will not do it justice.  Because I got the vegan parfait, it uses coconut yogurt and brown sugar instead of honey.  The yogurt was THE thickest and richest and creamiest, without being at all sweet yet still not tangy.  Gahhhh.  So good.  I wish you all could try it.

The granola was awesome too, packed with nuts and seeds and quinoa and highly clustered 🙂

I also got a roll on the side because I was having issues when I was ordering and was worried I wasn’t getting enough carbs.  I ended up polishing off the parfait and saving everything else for later.  I couldn’t stop eating the yogurt and granola!  Dreamy dish.

Kyle got the chicken and waffles.  Thumbs up all around.

After the kids biked to the park with Kyle, they came home asking to bake, so we went for it.

I don’t care that that one of us looking at each other is blurry because of how sweet I think it is.  Man do I love her.

These “cupcakes” had pumpkin, chickpeas, dates, chia seeds, coconut flour and almond flour.

We winged it as far as recipes go and they turned out okay.  I kept them vegan by using the aquafaba from the chickpeas instead of eggs and they are pretty mushy and crumbly, but they seemed to do just fine when eating them.

I treated myself to a prepared salad from Nugget for lunch.  That was store number 1.

I remembered liking this salad when my sister got it for me over the summer when she helped out while V had a broken leg.  I also remembered the salad dressing being amazing.  Spicy in a way that’s juuuust right.  I’m a pansy with spice, and this pushed my limits just a touch more than I’d usually like, but is balanced out with the cool veggies.

It turns out they sell their dressings…so I bought this and added extra to my salad, along with half an avo, and carrots.

Mmmmm…

Sadly I finished off the rest of the baby carrots, so I had to close out my meal with pickled ones instead.

It did the trick, but I definitely needed to get to Costco stat because a house without baby carrots is no place I want to call home.

Dinner prep!  Kyle went to play golf so I took the down time of naps to make dinner, like I always do.

I wanted to make short ribs in the instant pot, and felt pretty confident that I could get it right because even though Danielle Walker’s recipe was written for a slow cooker, I had already made short ribs in the IP and knew the timing.

I had everything on hand except an onion, so I just subbed in green onions.

Set them to cook and didn’t bother with anything else until dinnertime.  Well, aside from making rice in the rice cooker.

That afternoon we hit up Costco and TJs and by the time we got home it was dark and we were pooped and ready for food!

I needed to make a veg, still, so I just threw broccoli into the IP for 3 minutes.  Done!

Whoaaaaa buddy.

This recipe is a W.I.N.N.E.R.  The curry is an umami explosion of heaven and the tender short ribs completely fall apart with the slightest touch of the fork.  I wasn’t sure how the kids would like the curry, but you better believe they ate it right up.

My kids are so spoiled with their meals, and they don’t even know it.  Like I hardly feel comfortable spending the $$$ for short ribs on myself and they finish off their bowls are are like “more beef please?”

I saved the leftover curry sauce because it seemed way too good to waste, so maybe I can make another dish with it?  Just add a new protein and veggie and it’s reinvented!

I tried a new thing for P’s dairy dose and gave him some greek yogurt as a special treat.  It’s actually nice for me too because it’s less volume and therefore takes him wayyyy less time to consume.  He is crazy slow in taking his milk dose, which is 1/2 cup whole milk, and constantly needs to be reminded to “DRINK!”  He has to finish the dose within a 10 minute time span, which seems easy enough, but ugh.  Anyway, the 1/2 cup whole milk is equivalent to 4 grams of protein, so technically we are allowed to give him whatever form of dairy we want as long as it has 4 grams of protein.  I tried whole milk yogurt once but that took even longer…then I realized that greek yogurt has way more protein.  This whole container had 12 grams or protein, so I used our kitchen scale and weighed out 50 grams of yogurt (1/3 the amount in the container) and gave that to him.  I think he was iffy at first, since he’s never had greek yogurt before and it’s definitely a unique flavor, but seemed to like it more and more as he kept eating.  But the best part of all was that he didn’t have to eat that much to get his full dose in.  Cool!

I totally stuck our Costco list except for ONE item.  Those barnana bites!  They are so good and I had forgotten about them.  This is what happens when you wander down aisles you don’t need to go down.  At least I didn’t buy the chocolate covered macadamia nut clusters that I really wanted.

All in all, a solid Saturday.

We ate out at a restaurant!

As a FOURSOME!  Meaning all four of us ordered from the menu and ate the food that was prepared in a restaurant kitchen and I didn’t pack up ANYTHING to bring!! Weeee! It was a big moment.

We went to Pushkin’s Restaurant (again) because it’s entirely gluten and dairy free, and remains one of the best brunches we’ve ever had.  They have a vegan menu too, although P wanted bacon and eggs so we didn’t regard that menu this time.

They don’t even have (cow) butter on the premises!  They make everything – hollandaise, baked goods, etc. – ALL with vegan butter!!  Basically this restaurant is my dietary dream.

Kyle got a BLT.

V got waffles.

I got avocado toast.

P got two eggs, with hashbrowns, greens, and bacon.

We also got a side of eggs and bacon for the rest of us to share.

I let him order his own meal, which he loved.  He said “I want the bacon one with no peanuts or cow milk”.  Ha.  I clarified his order, but as you can see, his priority was the bacon.

For the record, the night before, we told him we were going to the restaurant and I was asking him if he knew what he wanted.  He thought about it for a bit and then later said “mama, let’s get a plan before we go to the restaurant tomorrow”.  I asked if he wanted to look at the menu in advance to see what they had and he immediately nodded and said “yeah, let’s look at the menu and you can read me all the options and I can pick out what I want…do they have bacon?”.  HE IS SOOOOO MY CHILD!!!

The waffles were sooo good.  I stole a few bites from V and I think they were the best thing any of us got.  They came with maple syrup and vegan butter.  Delish.

Kyle’s BLT came with fries, which he managed to leave alone.  It WAS 8:30 am after all.  He said is was awesome.  And we both still think it’s maybe the best brunch in town.

I swiped some eggs too because they were cooked perrrrrfectly.

Here’s what I got!  It was a huge portion – each of those halves are like mini baguettes.  I ate half and saved the rest for later…I didn’t want to push my stomach since I was still recovering from my GI bug and I was also stealing bites of the bacon and egg sides we got.

Buddies.

I gave him his dose after the meal and then we packed up the leftovers to bring home.  I also got a strawberry rosemary scone to take home…because why not??

Leftovers for lunch.  I offered the fries to the kids but P didn’t want any (?!?!).  V, however, was thrilled at the offer and ate every last one.

LA LA land, day 8

Last day of fun in the LA sun…started with a run on the beach.

Followed by a cold shower (again!! gah!!) and a trip to Gjusta.

The hype is for a reason.  The place is drool inducing and the people are all super friendly and nice and even though you feel pretentious for being there, there’s somehow the most laid back feel at the same time.  Everyone seemed to know everyone’s names and regulars were talking to the baristas, and they were super helpful EVEN THOUGH THEY DON’T SERVE DECAF.

They also had an oven that was broken so they were limited in the bread options.  Lucky for me they had the one I wanted.

I spied this rye seed thing in the case and immediately asked what it was and if I could have it on my lox breakfast plate. He said sure! It also comes with labneh, lox (I let him pick which he wanted to give me) and all those yummy capers and pickled things.  I put it in the back of the car for safe keeping since it was my lunch on the road. Kyle got a hummus and turkey sando for his lunch.

We ordered breakfast too naturally.

I got a biscuit with jam and asked for a fried egg too, so they just threw it on the side for me.

Exactly what I wanted.

Kyle got a bagel egg and bacon sammie thing.

We took it to a park in Westwood so the kids could play while we ate…we were hoping to get them a little exercise before trapping them in the car for hours and hours.  They had already eaten at the rental house before we left so they were perfectly content to collect sticks and climb while we noshed.

My biscuit was so good.  I don’t know what made it unique, but it wasn’t like any other biscuit I’ve had.  It was more whole grain like or something?  But not “healthy” tasting.  But not buttery tasting either.  And the jam had a zing to it – maybe cranberries?  Sadlt the egg was cold, but that wasn’t the fault of Gjusta.  That would be due to the heinous staff at Starbucks who lost my order.  And after waiting 20 minutes I finally was like hellooooooo??? And they were like, hmmmmm.  And the kids in the car were like LK^(%$JDBFO*S&^)*$Y%RLFHI. So that was a real lose lose.  Starbucks can’t figure out a decaf order for the life of them.  What is so complicated!?!?

Finally we hit the i-5.

Lunch break!  Kyle took over driving so then it was my turn to dig in.

SO GOOD!

Miracle of miracles we only stopped ONCE on the whole drive home!?  Crazy right?  It was long, but V slept for 2 hours so that was awesome.  P only slept for 45 minutes, but he can listen to the same 7 books on cd on repeat and still think it’s a treat, so he’s easy to keep entertained.

And now we are home sweet home.

LA LA land, day 7

Spring breakin’ like no other.

I started the day in the most LA way I could.  With a spin class and then moon juice.  I couldn’t help but sip the kool aid.  It tastes like bee pollen and silver and alkaline water.  He he.  Kidding.

I mostly took the spin class because our rental house’s hot water was out and I was really wanting a decent shower.  YAS was around the corner and I had such a good class earlier in the week so I went on their site and discovered a service called zenrez.  It’s like class pass but for yoga type classes.  They had a deal for $20 for the class so I went for it.  Normally you have to buy a membership or a bunch of classes at YAS, but not with zenrez.  The class was good, but I liked my Saturday one more.  Still, it was a nice sweat, followed by an even nicer (warm!) shower.

I walked to get moon juice after (and bought a bunch to take back to Davis with me because I couldn’t pick just one!) and then walked back to meet up with Kyle and the kids.  We drove to Santa Monica for a donut breakfast at Sidecar.  Errrr doughnuts…I guess they use the proper spelling because they so fancy.

We got an apple fritter and a maple bacon glazed doughnut to share. They had a GF one, but it didn’t sound very good.  It was blackberry or something like that.

I only wanted a few bites, because I went next door to Juice Served Here.  I tried a few and they were all so good, but I eventually chose the S (Brotein shake).

It had macadamia nut mylk, which is what totally sold me.  As well as bananas, dates, vegan protein powder, almond butter, and cacao.  I mean how amazing does that sound!?!?!

Yes, LA has one thing down and that is food that makes you feel virtuous.

We spent the morning at the park and Kyle and I just hung out while they played.  It felt super relaxed.  We needed a few things from the store (diapers and wipes stat!), so we swung into WF on the way home.  We ended up getting lunch there too because they had a kale Caesar that was calling to us both.

I jazzed mine up with extra dressing (Follow Your Heart’s vegan dressings are all open at the WF hot bar which makes me SO JEALOUS because I can’t even find them in any local stores anymore).

Added salt and pepper chips to make my salty cravings happy.

ZZZZZ.

Another afternoon, another park.

Vacations are different with kids, but if the point is taking it easy, we were so winning.

As you can see, we had no real plates to speak of…which is why I got a little klepto at the WF salad bar.

The above is a sausage, broccoli, potato hash for the kids’ dinners and oatmeal prepped for them the next morning (last one in LA).  I had been bringing their food to the restaurants with us for breakfasts during the trip, but I wanted to feed them earlier on our last day so they could have some AM park time before the long drive.  Anyway, we grabbed burgers for our last night in town.

I’d read a few great reviews for Pono Burger (the mission and the food), and their Venice location was right near all the other places we’d been frequenting in our rental neighb, so it was easy peasy to swing in and get our food to go.

Kyle hemmed and hawed over a couple of different items on the menu, but ultimately chose the burger with fig jam and brie.  Crazy good reviews from him.

With a side of fries and some seasoned mayo that I used for my burger.

I got the Asian themed one with slaw and avo and a sesame sauce that sounded amazing.  It was good, but a little dry.  I think they may have left off one of the sauces?  it was still good, because I used a bunch of Kyle’s mayo.

Honorable mention goes to the farmer’s market salad that took the runner up spot and I’d probably order it next time.  They also have a quinoa burger that was calling my name and an Asian salad that I almost ordered.  Such a great menu…next time!?

Local beer from the brewery across the street. Not bad, but no Saint Archer.

And THAT’S how you end a trip in LA LA Land.

LA LA land, day 6

Flashback to the day before driving as distracted as ever on Autopia.  V was super into, can’t you tell?!?!  HA.  We thought the kids would sleep in since they were up so much longer and later the day before soaking in all the Disney mania, but no.  Up and at em before the sun.  Eesh.

I went on a run and showered, while Kyle went on a run with V.  We timed everything out so that they met us at breakfast on the way back from their run.

I’m already missing this place.  The Hive is quintessentially LA, but not pretentious about it.  They have soooo many delicious vegan, gluten free, paleo, whatever treats.

I ordered a chai tea (they don’t have decaf coffee – boo) with soy milk while waiting for Kyle to arrive.

It was hard to pick, but I did the “build your own” bowl thing with chia pudding, almond butter, cacao, maca, blueberries, strawberries, pecans and GF granola.  I KNOW RIGHT!?!?!

Kyle got the Bee’s Knees smoothie with added hemp protein, which he was nice enough to share with little miss thang.

I gave her some of my blueberries.  😀

Mr. P had pancakes, and I offered him some of my maple syrup on the side, which delighted him.

I felt full when we left, but in a healthy way.  Kyle and I had fish and chips for dinner at Disneyland, so we were desperate for something wholesome. Off to the park!  Kyle and I wanted to sip on the rest of our drinks and be lazy.

The laws of gravity defy this one.

Eventually we made it home to change into bathing suits.  It was so warm out! The plan for the day was beach.  Valley girl’s plan for the day was popcorn. P was too busy building sand castles, but V made sure to take care of him and deliver bites right into his mouth every once in a while.

The sun felt so so good.

Before naps, we drive to Santa Monica for lunch at one of our old favorites, Huckleberry.

We got a few things to-go that we intended to share.

But Kyle ended up eating the quiche and meatballs and I ended up eating the salad and carrots.

And then we shared the bread and white bean puree.  The white bean dip used to be my idea of heaven on Earth, but sadly, it was a little different this time.  Still good, but not to die for good.

The carrots were the star of the order.  They were SO good!

The kids ended up napping for-eh-VERRRRR (and then woke up super grumpy – the nerve!!) so we didn’t have time to head back to the beach that evening.  Instead we drove to the Promenade for some shopping.  Davis is pretty limited in terms of clothing stores, so we decided to take advantage of being in a mega fashion area.

I bribed them with Jamba Juice.  It’s SUCH a treat to them and is nice for me because it’s a trustworthy place to prepare them something packed with real whole foods.

They split a smoothie I created – almond milk, bananas, strawberries, no ice (it’s too cold for them).  And they both finished their own!!

We didn’t have much luck shopping, but it was nice to be out and about anyway.  I did get a nice bathing suit, so that was good.  This will be my first summer in SO LONG that I’m not nursing or pregnant!!  You can probs read between the lines on why I needed the new suit…  😉

Back home we fed the littles before getting our own dinner scene going.

Kyle and I wanted very different things so we just figured we should go to get take out from two different places and appease both our palates.  The beauty in Venice (and Abbot Kinney) is that it’s quite easy to do that.  I got raw vegan fare from Cafe Gratitude (again) and he got pizza from GTA (again).

His pizza smelled like the best thing ever.  It had bacon and cheese though, so duh.  I was regretting my order the whole ride home, until I opened the bag and saw my beautiful pile of kelp noodles with nut pesto and the extra dressing that Kyle knew to ask for.  I re-doused my already drenched meal in the extra sauce and had a feast.

Cafe Gratitude has had bad press in Nor Cal (and has since shuttered) but I have nothing but stellar things to saw about their food.  Glad I got to try both the things I had been wanting on the menu.

I had a field day with my bag of treats from Disneyland after the kids were in bed.

Like, I legit couldn’t decide where to start so I just nibbled bits and pieces of everything.

The winner of everything was the almond covered toffee below.  HOLY MICKEY!

So glad Kyle spent the $$$$ when I was hemming and hawing about it in the store.  He’s always right.  Don’t tell him I said that.