What began as a night for us to have a great Italian meal in Temecula, morphed into finding a surprise hidden gem at Burgers and Beer just nearby. One of my recent discoveries . . . well not really that recent, is the discovery of what the mediocre American is really looking for when dining out.
It was decided that my wife and I were to take her sister and husband out for a birthday dinner on us, wherever he wanted to go. He said he liked Italian and we suggested Gourmet Italia in Temecula; a very good place. He gladly agreed. Two days later the decision was made between the wife and her sister that my brother in law had changed his mind, and would rather go to Burgers and Beer. My wife and I had previously been there but only for a brief cocktail and a quick bite. At that time we had brushed it off without regard as just another sports-bar grill. And it wasn’t until tonight we had found it to be so much more.
While the food at Burgers and Beer is just what mediocre America wants, with voluminous quantities of televisions and good sounds of the big game everywhere, we found two things that stood out amongst the average. With the large portioned burgers, fries, onion rings and copious amounts of Mechaca, Burgers and Beer seemed to be just what was wanted at our table; and a couple of menu items had me search further. And they must have a decent size kitchen because they have a pretty extensive menu, but a menu that seems to make good use of only a handful of ingredients. Their Mechaca on the Mexican side of the menu was one of them. Either the Mechaca, chicken or shrimp were used all over the rest of the menu’s opportunity for the good old American burger, dog or sandwich.
I found the Cucumber Chalupas that were as much as a ceviche as you can get, just with a nice fresh crunch of the cucumber boat each was served upon. I said I discovered two things . . . this was one of them. I have decided that I will somehow incorporate cucumber into my ceviche somehow. The boat itself may not be what I want to do with the cucumber; but perhaps adding diced cucumber to my mix will be it. I liked the idea of being able to use it as a scoop, but I might have to play with that one. I don’t know why the Calexico, CA born Burgers and Beer doesn’t call it a ceviche. I thought it to be quite similar to many shrimp ceviches on several menus I have seen, but with a flavor profile characteristic of my own since they had Serrano chili, that is similar to mine, but had ruined it with a garnishing of chili powder sprinkled over the top. The plate was also served with lemon wedges, combined with the fresh crunchiness of the cucumber gave this dish a nice twist. I think it’s slopily plated but at the $13 price point gave the six members at our table something worth trying, all with great remarks. It was light and fresh. We also ordered the nachos that had the Mechaca on them adding to the definition of mediocre.
The other discovery was our server Steve. I had guessed that he was one of the local U.S. Marines possibly moonlighting on his own time. Steve was a very calm and not overly “serverish” guy that really provided excellent service and didn’t seem to miss a thing. Steve had a good service with our party that had now grown to eight, quickly finding the guest’s food that had ordered over the phone on the drive in, and immediately served them upon their seating with us. There was a small attention to detail at this restaurant that seems to point to their ownership expansion of several restaurants, similar to the BJ’s California market and expansion. Not a bad place, and I will probably be returning, but not for the menu.
So the reason behind the restaurant at the beginning of this evening caught my wife and I by surprise, well not really a surprise, since the birthday boy was a huge American sports fan; and I had looked up the schedule for the Major League Baseball playoffs and found one of his teams playing that night. We also figured everything into the equation when the time for dinner that night had moved up to 5pm vice 6pm to more coincide with the start of that game. After that, we had found Burgers and Beer to be where we were to reside now for a while to watch his team lose that night. Oh well, there’s always the casino nearby to help cheer him back up.