The Five Stages of Accepting the Santa Anita Park's Turf Club Reboot

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David C. Mau
The grand dame of horse racing.

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

Generally, I try to keep my writing OC-focused, but, once in awhile, an out-of-county topic jumps onto my radar. One of my very first pieces here at Weekly was about Laguna's Frank Panza, the beyond-legendary bartender at Santa Anita's Turf Club. That stately room was a bastion of old school charm and hosted the best of the best since the 1930's. Almost every Hollywood blueblood or great musician has walked its hallowed floors at one time or another. The track itself is beyond spectacular, with a gilded Prussian Blue facade, stunning view of the San Gabriel mountains and enough art-deco chic to keep ones gaze enthralled for months.

The exclusive Turf Club has been a favorite of mine for longer than I care to think about and opening day (always December 26) is one of my most beloved of holiday traditions. In 2014, I couldn't get in; there was a fishy cover story about "all the tables being reserved." I didn't get a straight answer, so I bagged the idea. "Next year," I thought.


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In Search Of OC's Best Garlic Cheese Bread!

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David C. Mau
Stubrik's version.....

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

Awhile back and over a few beverages, I got into a lively discussion with some of my fellow peeps in The Biz about the merits of garlic cheese bread in all its variations and, most of all, where to find the good stuff. We all agreed North Woods Inn still had some of the best and there were quite a few standouts south of the 91 as well. From the tone of our conversation - it was quite profane and opinionated--you would have thought we were discussing sushi grade fish or the finer aspects of Chateaubriand. It seems my fellow Chefs and servers have strong feelings about this otherwise simple dish.

Granted, we're not talking about some over engineered gastropub bread with housemade brioche, Tasmanian shallots and three different aged, artisanal cheeses. We're talking the down-and-dirty, Yankee Doodle Dandy version, overflowing with garlic, seasoned salt (maybe some Worcestershire or anchovy paste) with well broiled cheese on a chunk of French, white or even sourdough bread that looks perfect nestled up to a slab of pot roast or a Salisbury Steak. What were our picks here in OC? Drumroll...

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Ristorante Genovese's Throwback Charm!

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David C Mau

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

You've probably whizzed past it southbound on Tustin Avenue heading to work/school/a nail appointment and barely given Ristorante Genovese so much as a glance. It seems a quaint aberration compared to the newer development nearby. It is noteworthy though and not just because of its legendary status.

I, generally, don't do restaurant reviews. Despite food dominating my professional life, I'm pleasantly out of touch with all the current coming and goings of the culinary world. Thank God for Facebook. But I do like digging into the quiet backstory of a restaurant's people/history. I think there is a karmic reason a shop is around and a tale to be told about how the doors opened. Orange's Ristorante Genovese is a more than worthy candidate for a nod. It's been in the family for decades. Al Genovese and his wife Margie currently own the joint and run it with the help of a few family members and an absolute host of fiercely loyal, longtime employees.


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OC To The High Sierra: Musings On Restaurant Hospitality

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David C. Mau
VVR Crew-1998

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

Tearing up the blistering blacktop of the 99 between the bottom of the Grapevine and Fresno isn't exactly my idea of fun but it does have something to look forward to as you blaze past Delano, Tulare and Selma. Hang a right at Fabulous Fresburg, saunter your way through the Sierra Foothills, power up what we call the "four lane" and you'll find yourself entering the Sierra National Forest and, well, quite a bit more than a little slice of paradise.


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A Bartender Explains How the Way You Pay for Drinks Says A Lot About You

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Photo by Ben N
Hello, Ladies!

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

Work in The Biz long enough and it's gonna ruin how you deal with the general public. (I'm not talking about the fact that you'll probably not want to deal with them at all if you don't have to.) Put in your time slinging drinks or running tables and you'll turn into a veritable Obi-Fucking-Wan-Kenobi when it comes to reading people. There's stuff you pick up on quick as a bartender--like who's already wasted/shouldn't be served, the couple on the awkward first Tinder hookup and the 50-something-year-old guy posted up at the bar, nervously looking around to see if anyone notices that the bombshell brunette he's with isn't his wife (who's probably at home calling a family law attorney anyway). I'm talking about more subtle behaviors, like which cocaine cowgirl really has all the blow in the building and who is creepy-hover guy trolling for some (any really) chick at the bar. Whether you realize it or not, how you pay for your booze on a night out also says a lot about who you are and what you do for a living. Inside scoop? Drumroll...


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Developer Douchebags Score Again!

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

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David C. Mau
Going

Dave Alvin's seminal album Blue Boulevard features "Dry River", a song of longing and loss, redemption and hope. When I saw him perform it live at Bogart's in Seal Beach back in 1991 it brought me to tears and still chokes me up a bit. One verse recalls his SoCal youth growing up near an orange grove:

"I played in the orange groves, 'til they bulldozed all the trees"
"Still, I'd stand up on the dead stumps and smell blossoms on the leaves"
"Someday it's gonna' rain, someday it's gonna' pour"
"Someday all those dead trees, well, they won't be dead anymore"

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In Search Of The Great American Cheeseburger!

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David C. Mau
"Merica...

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

Fourth of July weekend means different thing to different people depending on where you live. Here in the OC it's beach city riots, drunken F-Town hijinks and hopefully we can all stay in town no matter what and stay off the 91. In middle America it's small town parades, tractor shows and cricket spittin' along with the usual fare including what I call the "Midwest Burger".

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Seven Ways Working Food and Beverage Will Ruin Your Life

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Medieval Times, 1989 (That's me on the far left hair and all)

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

It's no secret. I'm a big fan of working in food and beverage despite all its pitfalls and pratfalls. It's not an easy life but every time I get too bummed out about it I thank God I'm not chained to a desk in a dark cubicle somewhere, dealing with an endless line of people while working at the DMV or stocking shelves at Big Lots. But, like any other industry, The Biz has its shortcomings and they are generally in the lifestyle department. The money is usually pretty decent, it's fun, and there are a lot of perks but the bad stuff is enough to make a real dent in your personal life (and maybe make you pull your hair out.) Here are my picks for the seven worst ways F & B will ruin your life.


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Long Live The Tonga Room's San Francisco Tiki Chic!

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The Tonga Room way back when

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

San Francisco's Tonga Room is hardly a secret (especially since Tony Bourdain shined his spotlight on it awhile back) but it is off the grid for most uninitiated travelers, especially in a city awash in great restaurants. In fact, The City has 39.3 eateries for every 10,000 households which crushes the number two spot, (Fairfield County, Connecticut of all places) with nearly twice the number of shops by that measure. Simply put San Francisco is a perfect place to find some exceptional grub, almost the point of it being a cliche, and if you wanna see the phenomena at it's worst take a leisurely stroll down a sidewalk in Noe Valley and tell me what you think.

But there are some great, old spots like John's Grill, Tad's Steaks, The Savoy Tivoli and a few others holding court among all the newbie madness. TheTonga Room is an apt addition to this list and most definitely ranks among the finest of classic tiki joints.

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Inside the Foodie Matrix, Or: Why Food PR People Are Worthless

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David C. Mau
This is how restaurant people spend their days....

Twice a month, legendary bartender/chef/restaurant insider Dave Mau pops by Stick A Fork In It to chime in about a random OC food or drink musing of his choice. Enjoy!!

Winter here in the OC may lack the simple charms of a New England one but it does have its advantages. We don't get many snowball fights, sleigh rides or other such trappings but we are granted a great time to surf. When the water warms up just a tad and that wind turns around with just the right swell, truth be told, I'll trade all the mittens and hot cocoa in the world for that. Awhile back one of those perfect days materialized and suddenly it was like mid-July at The Cliffs in HB and I found myself in the company of a couple other chefs along with one pal from outside the industry getting ready for a weekday paddle out. It was a rare, random gathering with a couple buddies who cut fish, a long-time server, one who works the line at a high-end steak joint and another that owns his own hipster restaurant in central OC. My non-industry friend was stoked to tag along. He's a desk jockey but considers himself a bit of a "foodie" and was excited to hang with us and pick our brains.


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