Saturday, November 5, 2011

Admit it

You’ve had those days. You have spent a full morning doing errands (used book store, Trader Joe’s, Dollar Tree, PetSmart) and you want food fast. You’re not looking for gourmet food. Just adequate tasting sustenance. That’s when it is helpful to know of a few quick but acceptable alternatives. And this blog talks about two in the Santee, CA, area.

First, we visit Daphne’s California Greek. What is California Greek? According to the Daphne’s web site, it is
“Flavorful, Healthy Food,” “Hip Look and Feel,” “Sus-tainable, Eco-Friendly”, and “Community at our Core.” But enough of the mission statement. Is California Greek edible? Well, yes it is.

Daphne’s has outlets in Colorado and Arizona with the majority located in California and the Santee outlet appears to be a noontime favorite for people working at the Trolley Square Shopping Center. The menu includes the usual suspects. There are combo platters with your choice of two from gyros, chicken kabobs, steak kabobs, vegetable kabobs, and falafel. For sandwiches there are pitas with gyro meat, chicken, vegetables, or falafel. You can order a pita burger with ground beef, chicken, or veggie burger. Sides include fire-roasted vegetables, tabouli, rice pilaf, fries, Greek salad, multigrain pita chips, or hummus (original, roasted red pepper, or pesto).

We started with an order of original hummus and pita. Yes, the portion is small. But so was the price--$1.45.

Chuck chose the gyro pita and this was a decent version of the beef and lamb specialty found on most fast food Greek restaurants. The pita contained a good amount of meat along with Roma tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, and tzatziki sauce. At $5.99, it was good value for the money. With the pita, he also ordered a side of good--not great, but good--fries.

Living dangerous-ly, I chose the falafel pita with a side of roasted vegetables. I have learned one thing about falafel. I prefer the ones shaped like a large golf ball rather than the mini-patties served here. I can’t explain why. I just do. Along with the falafel patties, the sandwich contained all of the accoutrements that graced Chuck’s sandwich. Were it not for the woody carrots, the roasted veggies would have been quite good.

Your basic 2.5 Addie lunch.

You Didn’t Think We Would Leave San Diego Without Pizza, Did You? And that brings us to Oggi’s Pizza and Brewing Company--a Southern California chain with one outlet in Glendale, AZ.

Our first visit was to the Point Loma venue for a somewhat late lunch. Both of us went in somewhat unusual directions. Unusual since a Margherita-style pizza has been our recent pizza of choice.

Chuck chose the eight-inch sausage and cheese on the restaurant’s regular crust. We quickly decided that the crust was too thick, the cheese was too much, and the red sauce was too intensely seasoned. But the sausage with its mild fennel flavor was quite good.

I chose the eight-inch thin crust mushroom. In this instance, the crust was almost cracker like and the pie was blanketed with good mushrooms. Again, too much cheese.

A week or so later, we were returning to Santee late one afternoon and decided to make a quick stop for dinner. This time it would be at the Santee Oggi's which, like the Point Loma place, is part restaurant and part sports bar.

This time we reverted to normal and ordered the Margherita Classico, a thin crust pizza with garlic olive oil sauce, fresh basil, Roma tomatoes, and fresh garlic.

This proved to be a better choice than our earlier two, although I do wish restaurants wouldn’t use garlic from a jar and call it fresh garlic. There is no mistaking that somewhat earthy musty taste.

Again, not great but good enough to earn 3.0 Addies.

And, finally, believing you can’t get too much of a good thing, we made one final visit to Gaglione Brothers for a Philadelphia cheesesteak.

Of course, and ever the traditionalist, Chuck ordered the twelve-inch cheesesteak sans onions. Mine was the same except with onions.
What made this trip different? As I went to the peppers bar for some hot cherry peppers I made a discovery. Holy Mother of Condiments! I never noticed the giardiniera (Italian mélange of carrots, celery, cauliflower, and hot peppers) before. Since this is a vital element of the Chicago Hot Italian Roast Beef Sandwich, why shouldn’t it work on a cheesesteak? Work it did. The simple addition of Gaglione’s relish with pickled jalapenos, carrots, tomatoes, and celery in olive oil elevated this simple sandwich to epicurean heaven.

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