The wife has been bothering me for a couple of days now about where I would like to go for dinner on my birthday. It wasn’t until hard-pressed for an answer the day before my birthday that I hadn’t recently thought about trying out The Wooden Spoon.
“It’s 8:30 at night and I’m not going to f’ with it now”.
Tuesday night while letting the dogs out I noticed the lights were not on at the front of the house. “Damn it”. That now means I need to investigate the possibility of my large freezer in the garage may not be on. It has been a problem for years where the driveway electrical circuit is part of the garage Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) circuit. It has repeatedly tripped over the years . . . and the front landscaping lighting has always been my indicator to go check the freezer. It was poorly designed as it should have been its own circuit.
So Tuesday night I just eliminate the freezer after a few swift trouble shooting moves, like disconnecting everything in the circuit I could quickly think about, and relocating the freezer to the garage door opener circuit. “I’m going to bed”. The next day was to be my 55th birthday and the wife and I had just begun our dinner plans, texting the kids, for me (family tradition that the birthday person gets to choose where they would like to eat). Yes, sometimes it gets expensive, but it’s usually just five of us, and now a Grandbaby.
Wednesday was to be a great day because it was my birthday . . . and the Wednesday just before Thanksgiving this year. Off to work knowing that my government workplace will probably have some kind of early release. That turned out to be some well afforded time as I sprinted off home onto the already crowded freeways to get back to trouble shooting the electrical circuit, knowing that I really only have “today” to figure out what I need from Home Depot strategically nearby The Wooden Spoon in Escondido, Ca.
I had seen The Wooden Spoon before, usually in the morning hours while I would visit the Veterans Administration (VA) clinic just behind them a block away. They were always closed but I had previously looked them up on the internet to find them to only serve during the lunch and dinner hours.
Having now identified that the short in my electrical system was in fact along the driveway circuit, I had made the decision to isolate and repurpose a dedicated circuit for the cause. And I was tired of having my freezer in jeopardy. But this day was my birthday . . . the day before Thanksgiving . . . the day before the day before BLACK FRIDAY. Hell that means I have to hit Home Depot today . . . after my dinner, and before I go home. Quick figure out where to eat, that’s nearby a Home Depot, cause I already know The Home Depot has my specific parts because I’ve bought them there before. “Honey, I want to go to The Wooden Spoon”, now having to explain to her everything I know about it; blah blah “near the VA” . . . blah blah. We both had an opportunity to begin with their website and observe the menu (perfectly up-to-date and accurate). I also noticed that the Chef was a graduate from the Los Angeles campus of the same culinary school as I. So now I had a desire to see what he had learned along the way. This was to be the second Art Institute (AI) culinary graduate’s cuisine in public I have tried. The first was great cuisine, but had since failed as a business.
Well now you know why I was at The Wooden Spoon and how I spent my birthday, . . . and most of Thanksgiving day, . . . and Black Friday, after needing to return a part that didn’t work out. I still look back at my week and think about the great week of food, having enjoyed The Wooden Spoon’s creative seasonal menu and the following day eating belly busting quantities for Thanksgiving . . . that we didn’t have to cook.
The Wooden Spoon started us off with immediate attention at the door since the inside was already full estimating about only 12 seats inside the very small diner. The remainder of the building is basically dedicated kitchen but the outside has a large patio area with plenty of heaters to keep the atmosphere along the very busy front of Valley Parkway. I just remembered now that my wife and I used to cruise Valley Parkway when we were dating 35 years ago. That is also something to say about The Wooden Spoon’s location being further off of Escondido’s culinary hot spot of Grand Avenue that has it’s own Cruising Grand that happens every Friday night throughout the summer. Wow, memories.
Now seated and warm from the staff redirecting heaters to every arriving party on this Wednesday night as I watched most of the patio area begin to swiftly fill up. Since the seasonal menu here is small, it was easy to taste a lot of the menu without missing much. We started off with Toast. Hey, take it easy Nacho Libre. I don’t know what was on the Toast of the night, because I wasn’t listening to my son order. All I was thinking about was the Flat Iron Steak, remembering back to my days in the AI kitchen, that he better not screw up the steak.
Guess what, he screwed up the steak. Either it wasn’t seasoned at all, or not enough; relying on the sauces of Blackberry Mustard and Pickled Mustard Seeds which seemed too rich for me and left me desiring just a fine piece of meat to enjoy.
There were plenty of other sauces on the other artful and tasty plates and things to have kept my steak flavorfully enjoyable, but the menu is so diverse, that I couldn’t find anything else that seemed to compliment the steak like just some old fashioned salt and pepper. In my humble opinion, nothing leaves the kitchen without seasoning. As for the other dishes of Grilled Jidori Chicken with perfectly steamed rice, Roasted Chicken Gravy, deep fried brussel sprouts and a 63° Egg. This was a very good dish, The egg provided just the right amount of sauce for the pre-sliced airline breast, and gave you a chance to soak it in the rice.
. . . and the brussel sprouts were very different as explained by my son who absolutely hates brussel sprouts; calls them, “little balls of death” and had mistakenly ate them this evening and said they tasted like air . . . there was nothing there. I enjoyed them only after eating about 5 of them at a time. Think about that; how can you eat 5 brussel sprout halves in one bite? They were very light. Eating the first single had a burnt taste, but a whole mouthful was delectably wonderful. A solid dish.
A couple other things we ordered included the Spoon Burger with Arugula, house made Baconion Jam, house made Smoked Blue Cheese, house made Tomato Aioli and you guessed it, house-made House Fries. A lot of very complex flavors going on with this very good burger.
My wife can’t go without her beets, so here goes. As fully explained by the server, the Autumn Beets are slow roasted beets with House Preserved Madarin Oranges, Hazelnuts and some Balsamic Caviar (gastro-spherified balsamic vinegar).
As stuff was showing up, everyone at my table was quick to grab and I had only moments to take pictures as the Grandbaby already snagged a beet.
Ok, so the Wooden Spoon was hailed that night from one of our most discerning family members as having a menu that is worth returning for. The driveway lights are now working correctly and I didn’t loose any food from a defrosting freezer; so I give them a whole crap-load of wooden spoons. If you’re Italian, you’re gonna break a couple smacking the Grandkids, and you figure out the rest. They were pretty darn good.