iPhood: Smashburger my 5,000 calorie lunch of dreams

Some of the girls in the office were talking about burgers and an event...I was half listening/half trying not eavesdrop, but then something lured me into the conversation... something about "butter and smashing the burger" and "crispy fried butter burger." My ears perked up, my mouth started to salivate...

They were chatting about the new Smashburger that opened the night before at Hazard Center. Then the magical words "We're going back for lunch today - wanna come?" I replied that they had me at "crispy butter burger."



I got the basic All American burger. Smashed and fried to perfection, this was a greasy delicious mess of a burger - just how I like them. I know the trend is towards "grass fed" beef, but those burgers lose that juicy ooze when you bite into them.

This burger was spot-on for me. It didn't fall apart after one bite, but you still shoveled it in your mouth as fast as possible for fear of disintegration or just because it tastes so freaking good. 

Seriously had a Fat Bastard moment where I wanted to look at the burger and scream at the top of my lungs: "GET IN MA BELL-AY!"

It was so good, I forgot to take a picture of it until I was almost half-way done. 

 Pickle me this...

I've talked about pickle fries before. While I love me some fried potatoes, there is something almost sinful about deep frying pickles. They've (unfortunately for my thighs) become one of those items that when I see on a menu I must order. 

Hey, I did it for you guys! (sure...)

While not as amazing at the pickle fries from Corvette Diner, these babies were crispy and crunchy and a great side to the burger.








Shake it up baby, now.

And just because the butter smashed fried burger and deep fried pickles were not enough to make me unbutton the top of my pants, I topped this entire, decadent meal off with a Lime Milkshake. 


Before you squeal and declare my taste-buds deformed, think of a key lime pie in a glass. Creamy, sweet and tart, I may go back to Smashburger for this shake alone. 






 Maybe it was the sugar high. Blame it on the deep fried overload. But heading back to work I noticed 2 little heads peeking up from the top of the dumpster in back of the office. Much to the HORROR of my co-workers Carrie and Jennifer, I reached in and rescued from dumpster despair two of the creepiest, crazy little Mexican Mariachi statues and gave them a new home in the back of the office.

My contract may be up at the end of the month, but my legacy will live on...


iPhood: Chef Rich Sweeney's R Gang Eatery

A few months ago at the San Diego Influence Awards, a few of us from the San Diego "Momfia" totally accosted the cutest guy in the room and tried to talk him into letting us adopt him and make him an honorary Mommy Blogger. Theresa from Rock on Mommies and I then spent the next few months internet stalking Aaron Hier (or @AHizz as he's known by his adoring fans), like a bunch of 12 year old's would stalk Justin Bieber. Yes. It was kind of pathetic. But our efforts paid off in the end... and a few weeks ago we got the invitation we were waiting for.

One of Aaron's best friend's is Chef Rich Sweeney (of Top Chef Season 5 fame), and just last month Chef Rich opened his new restaurant, R Gang Eatery, in Hillcrest. Being the Top Chef uber-fan that I am, I was THRILLED when Aaron invited us to dinner at San Diego's hot new restaurant and got downright giddy over the propect of meeting Chef Rich in person. 



Drinks and Apps

We began the evening with R Gang's signature cocktail, the "Prickly Pear Margarita". With habanero-infused vodka and pear lemonade, this drink was definitely "prickly" - and that chili flavor hits you in the back of the mouth as you swallow. Of course, it didn't stop me from DOWNING mine. For the appetizer, Aaron ordered us the portabello fries. Now, I'm not a huge mushroom fan, but I am a huge fan of fries, so I gave them a whirl. And politely had to stop myself from scarfing up the rest of the plate and leaving none for my dinner-mates. 


While both Theresa and Aaron had the fab looking burger with TATER TOTS on the side (yes, TOTs, which almost swayed my decision) I decided to go with something a little different. I had a hard time deciding between the Mac n' Cheese and the Chicken Curry Pot Pie, but thanks to the suggestion from our totally a-dorable waiter Terence, I went with the Chicken Curry Pot Pie. And I was SO HAPPY I did! While apparently the burgers at R Gang are good enough to turn a vegetarian into a meat-loving sinner, the pot pie was more unique in its flavors and was very well seasoned. Oy, how Tom Colicchio of me to say...


Now, if you are as obsessive about Top Chef as we are around here, you may remember Chef Rich's shining moment - when he was asked to pack his knives and go for making S'Mores for the Foo Fighters. And as a nod to his last night with Padma, you better believe that there are delish S'Mores for dessert at R Gang... along with banana pudding with homemade Nilla wafers covered in chocolate, and strawberry rhubarb cobbler. And yes, we did order all three. NOMNOMNOM.


The food, the drinks, the adorable waiters all put this restaurant high on my list. But really, I was a bit star-struck and could not get over how amazingly gracious Chef Rich was. When things slowed down a bit, he took the time to hang out with us and talk to us about his Top Chef experience. Being the TV whore that I am, I was practically squirming with excitement. 

First thing, the thing I know you all want to know. Yes, it's not just your television: Padma is smoking hot. Rich said there was something about her...she is fabulous in every way. He also said that Gail has the most amazing palate he's ever met. He said you could put a pinch of something in your dish and she would catch it. Tom was hilarious and had a great personality, and Toby Young, who can come across as the harshest of the Top Chef judges, was actually a really great guy. Chef Rich also had nothing by praise for his fellow contestants, and told us that they are kinda like a fraternity; only people that have been on Top Chef can truly understand the experience.

Rich answered our questions about where they went after they packed their knives ("Elimination Island", a secret location where the eliminated chefs are sequestered until the regular season wraps up shooting) and talked about how hard it was not to be able to tell your friends and family where you went off to for 5-6 weeks - even after coming home. 

Chef Rich was honestly one of the nicest people I've met in a long time. He was open, sincere and the type of guy you would want to sit back and have a few drinks with. We talked about his love of bacon, and I tried to impress him with my Bacon Cupcake/Bacon Toffee achievement, which he immediately topped by hinting at the BACON MADNESS that he's perfecting for his new brunch menu, along with chicken n' waffles and his build your own Bloody Mary/Maria option. Drool.

The evening was a blast, and while in the beginning Theresa and I may have wanted to adopt Aaron, now we are just hoping he and Rich will adopt us!

 R Gang Eatery

3683 Fifth Avenue - Hillcrest

Dinner Tues-Sat 5-11PM & Brunch Fri-Sun 9A-3PM

iPhood; Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant

Lately there has been a lot of buzz in San Diego about good restaurants that serve good food, for less an $20 a plate. Sparked by the recession and people not being able (or being too embarrassed) to go out and drop $300 on dinner, a lot of restaurants have changed up their menus - offering delicious food, just at a lower price point. Banker's Hill Bar and Restaurant is one of these new "lower priced" spots from Carl Schroeder, chef and co-owner of Market in Del Mar. And while other, maybe more "professional" reviewers seemed to be less than thrilled with their experience, I actually really loved this new establishment. 

First Up: Deviled Eggs

Whhaaa? You mean the dish that your random aunt always brought to BBQ's and your mom told you not to eat because they ended up sitting in the sun all afternoon?

Yes. But these 'aint your aunt's deviled eggs.

Flavored with BACON and capers and served over an arugula salad with fresh parmesan and a side of shoestring potato fries, these made my mouth so very happy

I will say that I may be quite biased, as this little plate managed to put 4 out of 5 of my favorite flavors on one plate. It did remind me of my favorite egg salad sandwich from Le Papagayo in Leucadia, and this isn't a bad thing; it wasn't a new flavor - but a good one. 

 Main Course: Burger and truffle fries and crispy pork tacos 

I love hamburgers. I love skinny fries/pom frites. I love truffle fries. So, it was very easy to assume that I was in heaven. Nothing amazing. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a very well cooked, delicious burger and there isn't anything wrong with that in my book. 

The crispy pork tacos were a little different - they actually had cubed pieces of avocado inside the shell and an interesting sauce. They were definitely something you needed to eat in two bites - just like a street taco. I thought they were flavorful and really enjoyed them. 


If given a choice between dessert and a bowl of chips or cheese and crackers, I would almost always choose the chips - but this dessert may be one of the exceptions. Simple and amazing. Butterscotch pudding with Butterfinger crumbles. Simple but done really right. 

Its one thing to exclaim "Oh YUM" upon first bite of something... it's another thing when you are still exclaiming its loveliness 4 bites into it. 

All in all, I really enjoyed my meal at Banker's Hill Bar & Restaurant (although, they really could have used some help in the naming department). If you want to be amazed by unique meals - this isn't really the place to go. If you want a solid dinner with good, satisyfing food, this is the spot.