Category - Eat

1
The Coronado PHX
2
Four Friends Tea Room – Pearland, TX
3
Manhattan Steak and Seafood

The Coronado PHX

The Coronado PHX / Phoenix restaurant review / vegetarian eatery

The Coronado PHX / Phoenix restaurant review / vegetarian eatery

Nestled in a charming bungalow-style converted home off of 7th Street, is the Coronado PHX- a vegetarian eatery that also offers coffee drinks and alcoholic beverages. I had driven by that place often, and it wasn’t until early this month, that I finally stopped in to satisfy my culinary curiosities. The interior was quaint, with multiple small dining rooms, an outdoor patio, and the ordering area (bar and bakery case included). During my first dining experience, I tried the Monte Vista Torta and fries, while washing it down with a chai latte. Ok guys, I hate to admit, but after the first bite of that torta, I literally had a “When Harry Met Sally” moment. The masa battered zucchini, mixed with fresh tomato, romaine lettuce and vegan mayo, was just BURSTING with flavor! The hand cut fries that came with the torta had just the right amount of crispiness. I dipped them in the housemade ketchup, that also had a joyous amount of zest. The chai, which is sourced from Maya Tea in Tucson, was also delicious (and even had a subtle spicy kick to it).

Monte Vista Torta / fries / food / The Coronado PHX / Phoenix restaurant

During my second visit (of many to come), I had the pleasure of meeting the owner- Liam and his wife, Emily. I was able to sample a few of the restaurant’s best-selling dishes and also chat about Liam’s history in the culinary industry and how that transitioned to his current project, that is- the Coronado PHX.

LAFS: Tell me about how you got started in the culinary industry, as well as the vegetarian side of it?

Liam: I’ve been in food service for most of my adult life. I was a barista at Jobot, when a friend of mine, Dom Fasano, who was the chef at the time, suggested that I look into it; so I attended Le Courdon Bleu in Scottsdale while working at Jobot. Going to culinary school actually helped make me a vegetarian. In French cooking, they teach you to use every bit of the product in front of you to show respect to the person who worked to bring it to you, and also to the product itself. So, you save you onion skins for making stock, but that’s also why they make things like liver pate, sweetbreads, and so on. Something about being vegetarian always seemed right to me, I had been vegetarian on and off my whole life, but I never really had an understanding as to why I felt that way. I realized that if I could not eat the liver pate and such because I thought it was gross, then clearly I wasn’t respecting the effort someone put in to it, or the animal themselves. Around the same time, my brother got sick with Lymphoma, so I started wanting to try and be more healthy, it was kind of a perfect storm, and I’ve been vegetarian since then. Very quickly my wife, Emily, and I realized there weren’t very many vegetarian options, and started planning a restaurant with a friend. We opened Bragg’s Factory Diner, a full vegan/vegetarian diner, we busted our butts and even racked up a few awards in the short 2 1/2 years it was open, but it was an uphill battle from day one, and I guess just wasn’t meant to be. Around the time that closed (last year), I opened the Coronado PHX, and it’s back to busting our butts and trying to push ourselves and what we can do.

LAFS: What inspired the name the “Coronado PHX?”

Liam: When I first moved to downtown, the Coronado Cafe was in the spot that we are in now, and they had been for years. Downtown was just starting to really blossom. There weren’t a ton of funky restaurants in old houses and stuff, Coronado Cafe kind of blazed that trail, and stuck their neck out before anyone else really was. So when the opportunity came up to move in to this location I thought it seemed only appropriate to name it the Coronado PHX as a kind of shout-out to the previous owners and the city.

LAFS: Where do you source your fresh ingredients?

Liam: We try to focus on local at the Coronado, we get our bread from MJ breads, our coffee from local roaster Xanadu Coffee, we get veggies for our FarmYard Scramble from a local CSA called FarmYard who literally farm in peoples yards and then bring us a basket or 2 every week, we get our goat cheese from Crow’s Dairy in Buckeye, and our milk from Danzeisen. The list goes on and on. We carry local wines, liquors and beers, but those are on rotation to try and give everyone some love.

LAFS: What inspired the restaurant’s decor?

Liam: The space when we got there had been painted kind of monochromatic in shades of greenish-brown, the house itself is so beautiful, so we wanted to try and perk it up a bit. My good friend Liz Tavarez, from Grey House Designs, was working on building her portfolio, so she helped us out. Initially when she said to go black and white, I was hesitant, like it would be too plain and too easy to get dirty and maybe I was just a ball of stress at the time, but I eventually relented and I’m glad I did. The place is so inviting and warm, people assume all the time that we’ve been open for years because it just feels great, and not too “new”.

LAFS: What do you think sets the Coronado PHX apart from other vegetarian restaurants?

Liam: I think what sets us apart, is that we try to make sure we are set apart. I’ve tried to focus on creating a menu that isn’t on someone else’s menu. I want to make food that is representative of the southwest, and that is approachable, but I’m also an artist and musician, so I want to be as creative as possible with it. I don’t do much in the way of veganizing, I try to let the vegetables, fruits, grains, spices and so on do the work. All the time I hear “I hate cauliflower, but I LOVE those cauliflower tacos.” I also have a family, and so it’s REALLY important to me that our menu be affordable. I can’t tell you how many times (especially when I was in school) we would be excited to try something, then go home and eat more because we couldn’t afford a big meal out on our budget. We’re never gonna be the cheapest thing in the world, we’re not Taco Bell, but just because we’re making healthy food with fresh ingredients in house, doesn’t mean it can’t be affordable too.

Speaking of the Cauliflower Tacos, that was one dish I tried. It was definitely a hit in my book. I loved the flavor of the masa based beer batter that the cauliflower were fried in. “The Cauliflower Tacos are, hands down, our number one seller. we get our fresh tortillas from Ranch Market everyday. We pick them up warm. We use a masa based beer batter and fry the cauliflower and that goes with guacamole, organic spinach, pepitas, our creamy Avocado dressing and limes on the side. It gets compared a lot to a fish taco, without all that fishiness.”

Cauliflower Tacos / Coronado PHX / vegetarian eatery

The next dish was the Jalapeño Marmalade and Goat Cheese Quesadilla. You guys….I’m still dreaming about this dish. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, like, were the jalapeños going to be super hot, etc. Completely the opposite. It almost tasted like a mild green chili paste that also had some sweetness to it. The flavor of the goat cheese with the jalapeño marmalade really mixed well, without being too overpowering. I’ve had many quesadillas in my life, but these have risen to number one for my taste buds. Be prepared to bring something to wipe your hands with, as the marmalade gets a little sticky. But otherwise, be prepared to be WOWED. “It’s definitely not a traditional quesadilla. I actually made this as a special at another restaurant I worked at, but the owner didn’t go for it, so it’s been sitting in my back pocket for years waiting to see the light of day. We used Crow’s Dairy Goat Cheese and house made jalapeño marmalade, then dust it with a little smoked paprika and cilantro.”

Jalapeño marmalade and Goatcheese Quesadilla / Coronado PHX / vegetarian eatery

The last dish on the list was the Street Corn. I’m not a huge fan of the traditional street corn that is normally found at flea markets and such, but this dish was different. The corn-on-the-cob was fresh, while the vegan mayo, cayenne, cilantro, Cotija cheese, and lime mix felt light, and looked (and tasted) healthier. “The Street Corn we do is just a classic street corn. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Fire roasted corn, coated with Just Mayo (a pea based Vegan Mayo instead of a soy base), Cotija cheese, cayenne, cilantro, and lime. Hold the cheese and it’s vegan!”

Street Corn / Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

I also had a Funfetti Scone, which was so tasty, that it didn’t need butter or other dipping sauces; just the chai to finish off the desert.

Funfetti Scone / Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Chai Latte / Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Check out more behind-the-scenes…

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

Coronado PHX / Vegetarian eatery

The Coronado PHX is open: Sunday – Thursday: 6am – 10pm, Friday & Saturday: 6am – 11pm,
Happy Hour: 4pm – 7pm.

LOCATION:
2201 N 7th St
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Be sure to check out their WEBSITE and FACEBOOK for local happenings and such.

Liam: We love hosting community based events. Craft and Charity nights every third Friday of the month, where we pair a local brewery with a local charity. The brewery takes over all our beer taps and then a portion of the sales from the night go to the charity. We host an event called Vinyl Voices, which is part story telling, part DJ night. Participants bring in a vinyl record, tell a story of that record and then we’ll play a track. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s intense, or sad or whatever. Being a musician myself, it’s so fun to hear people’s relation to music and how it shapes significant moments in their lives. We also host a Simpson Trivia Night, poetry readings, acoustic music, board game nights, and anything we can think of, really.

NOTE: I was given complimentary food in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Four Friends Tea Room – Pearland, TX

Four Friends Tea Room

3816 E Broadway St.
Pearland, TX 77581
PH: (281) 485-6484
WEBSITE

Once upon a time (about 20 years ago), four friends started a tea room in a charming bungalow in the heart of Pearland’s historic downtown site. Fast forward to 2013, when homemaker Sherrill Kirby and her family went to the tea room to get some pumpkin bread (A.K.A. the “best pumpkin bread in Houston). Learning that the tearoom was up for sale, she realized that running the little tea room would be an outlet for her to help with paying for her children’s college, weddings and cars. This October (2015) will mark her two year anniversary at Four Friends. She kept everything, including the name (as it’s herself, her two sisters and her niece) and the pumpkin bread the same.

Nowadays, the tea room is open Monday thru Saturday from 11-3pm. Their signature dishes include: the spice tea, white chocolate bread pudding (“folks say it’s the best they’ve tasted in 50 years” and it’s featured at least once or twice a week), the tomato basil soup (they’ve had 50-100 people tell them it’s the best they’ve ever tasted. Plus it’s vegetarian and gluten-free) and the cranberry chicken salad. They present each meal on an eclectic mix of china that they’ve collected throughout the years. They scour antique stores, garage sales, thrift shops, estate sales and Craigslist in search of unique pieces. One sister once drove two hours to secure one of their best china sets. Sherrill also has relatives in Michigan that sends tableware in suitcases to her. She credits some of their teapots, which are worth $150-200; along with the ambiance, great service and being in a unique old house as being the top reasons that sets them apart from other tea rooms in the area.

I recently had the chance to visit the cute little tea room, for both a High Tea and a regular lunch. I got there right when they opened at 11am and entered at their main entrance in the back of the house. When you first walk in, you see the gift shop, complete with china sets, miscellaneous gifts and Downton Abbey teas. Then you get whisked away to a seat in one of the three dining rooms. Each room seems to have it’s own distinguishing characteristics; such as wall color, table settings and wall decor. When I was served the High Tea, it was served on their exclusive Royal Albert bone china tableware with the “Old Country Roses” pattern. I was given a choice of soup (broccoli cheese), pasta salad, egg and cucumber finger sandwiches, a scone with clotted cream and homemade jam and a sampling of a few desserts. As for the regular lunch, I had the “tea room sampler”- which included soup (tomato basil), pasta salad, three egg and cucumber finger sandwiches and a piece of pumpkin bread. All that for $10. Every meal includes a complimentary sample of the spice hot tea, which is without a doubt- pretty darn good. I also enjoyed a pot of the Sweet Texas Dreams tea for both meals. Everything is fresh and homemade, so obviously nothing disappointed!

Be sure to check out their Facebook page for featured desserts and soups, as well as other events (such as their Mother-Daughter Tea or Princess Parties). The tea room can also be booked for evening parties, weekday meetings or other events.

Manhattan Steak and Seafood

202 S. Main St.
Orange, CA 92868
PH: (714)978-6162
WEBSITE

I would like to thank the power of social media for introducing me to Manhattan OC restaurant. I had the pleasure of having lunch there during a recent weekday and I’m anxious to go back! My dining experience started off with being greeted by the lovely hostess- Rosa. Since my reservation was at 11:30 and I was somewhat early, she showed me to the lounge, where I was offered a table and something to drink while I waited until I got sat in the main room. The lounge was dimly lit, allowing for a more relaxed atmosphere for socializing, watching the game or catching the jazz bands that usually play on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. When the time came, Rosa showed me to my table in the bright main room. After I sat in the high-backed plush chair, she set a cloth napkin in my lap and proceeded to hand me their leather-bound menu. The menu featured a nice variety of appetizers, salads, sandwiches, main entrees, wild game, steak and seafood. The waiter who was taking care of me that afternoon was Steve and ever-so-polite. Need an explanation of any of the dishes on the menu? Done! What if I’m vegetarian? There wasn’t a big selection of veggie-friendly dishes, BUT he said that they could tweak most dishes on the menu for those of those with special dietary needs. Sold! I ended up choosing the Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli ($12) as an appetizer and the Grilled Vegtable Sandwich ($11) with fries as my main course. As I waited for the appetizer, a bread basket was brought out. The bread was served fresh and warm, under the cover of one of the cloth napkins and a separate small plate with two balls of butter. After a while, the butternut squash ravioli was brought out… There were three gigantic raviolis with the squash filling that sat in yummy brown butter sauce. It was garnished with parmesean cheese, honey-roasted pecans and sage. The raviolis were tender and just slid down the throat, bursting with flavor after. This could easily be a meal in itself, with maybe a side salad as well…depending on how hungry you are. But, I HIGHLY recommend this dish! When the main course arrived, I was thoroughly impressed on the portion. The sandwich was massive and the shoestring fries were garnished with basil. There was a side of ketchup in a small dish conveniently on the plate as well. I took a bite out of the sandwich and my tastebuds were overjoyed by the yummy grilled onions, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers and gooey brie that rested in between the grilled ciabatta bread. After boxing up the other half of the sandwich and some of the fries, I was offered the dessert menu. I was indeed full from the last two courses, but I somehow managed to find room for a little (recommended) Bananas Foster ($12). It came out warm…full of sliced bananas swimming in creme de banana and brandy sauce and topped with vanilla bean gelato. This could easily be enjoyed by two people. It. Was. Amazing! Like a party in my mouth. It was sweet, but not overpowering; and full of rich flavor. Even though I had told myself only a couple bites, then take the rest home…I just couldn’t put down my spoon. Each bite left me wanting more and more. So- are you guys anxious to check this place out yet?

Here are some other fun tidbits about the restaurant. Reservations are recommended. Come with a hearty appetite! There are six different themed rooms, I sat in the bright ‘Main Room’. There’s the ‘Lounge’ and ‘Window Room’- ideal for listening to the live entertainment and watching the game. Upstairs is the vibrant ‘Red Room’, with a hidden round plush booth and other table options decorated in red. I got a glimpse of the ‘Wine Cellar’ room, reminiscent to an old stone wine cellar deep in the heart of Tuscany… For all you Vodka fans, ManhattanOC boasts one of the largest selections of vodka in the OC. Interested in having your favorite wines handy when you come to the restaurant? Why not join the Wine Locker Club! In town for an event? ManhattanOC also offers FREE shuttle service anywhere in OC. Definitely check out the website for more information and to make reservations.

I want to thank the co-owners-Armond Khosrovian and Tom Gregory, manager-Michelle Ambrosio, Rosa, Steve and the rest of the staff for your impeccable hospitality!

Please Note: In exchange for reviewing the restaurant, my meal was on the house.

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