Me and My Nine Iron

April 26, 2012

Umami Burger review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 10:06 am

I checked out this burger joint during grand opening week at its Costa Mesa location last month after validation from my sister, who recently tried it at an L.A. location. It’s located in the same plaza as The LAB Antimall on Bristol St. where there’s never any parking so I had to park a block away. (Sorry, Urban Outfitters.)

We went at 2p, and the groups waiting outside were still going strong. Fortunately, the turnover is quick so we waited about ten minutes for a table. It was cool they used an iPad to put our names down, and it’s something I’m surprised more restaurants don’t do. In the back where we ended up sitting, the tables are so close together you can’t avoid putting your ass or crotch in the adjacent table’s face when getting in or out. Lovely.

They have an appealing menu, as I got the Manly Burger ($11), which includes bacon, and Smushed Potatoes ($4.50) to dip into jalapeno ranch and dijon mustard sauces. The burger was deceptively small. Trust me, it’s not. Right off the first bite you can tell, in the words of Jules, “that is a tasty burger.” The unique sauces are something else, but at the same time, its downfall as I got full towards the end and got sick of the taste.

If you’re looking to spoil yourself with a good burger, I welcome its first O.C. location. But I would not pay $20 for a burger and a side; it’s one of those foods I just won’t pay that kind of money for.



April 25, 2012

Bruxie review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 9:57 am

I first heard of this place last year, an outdoor stand that sells everything in a Belgium waffle (in lieu of bread) next to Chapman University. I just went along with friends who wanted to try it out but thought it more a novelty than anything because I’m not crazy about American breakfast foods and the idea of a waffle sandwich.

I’ve been to this place four times now, including the recently-opened second location in downtown Brea. Both places are always poppin’ with college-age kids, and it’s a cool little fast food joint to have in the area.

Here are all the items that I’ve tried, in order of both visits and rank:

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle ($6.95) – their classic. A perfect, crispy chicken.
Hot Pastrami Bruxie ($7.95) – just as good as the chicken, and probably the heartiest.
Bacon, Egg & Cheddar ($6.50) – good but too mundane and light.
Green Eggs & Ham ($6.95) – the green coming from the arugula pesto. Tasty, but I wouldn’t recommend getting it over any of the other items on this list.

Surprisingly, I’ve had several friends not like the place. One said the rosemary on the fried chicken was overpowering, and the other found the waffle too sweet, which Bruxie prides its waffle on not being – and both problems I never had. I’ll write them off as having sensitive taste buds, which they probably wouldn’t deny.

I will say that the portion may be a little light so for over $7 to only leave you not feeling hungry, it’s kind of a pretentious fast food option. I’ll definitely be coming back though to try the rest from the Savory section.


April 20, 2012

BLD review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 12:28 pm

I decided to try this trendy restaurant in Los Angeles with a couple of friends. It was pretty poppin’ on Sunday morning, and during the short wait for our table, we lounged in the back on the nicest couches I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.

The decor is clean and modern, and it’s a very appealing casual eatery. (I would love to have one in my area.) The food was quality and fresh; I got the Fried Egg Sandwich with bacon and a side of potatoes ($13), which was hearty and delicious.

It’s a bit of a drive for me so I wouldn’t go back, but you could make a day of it and hang out at The Grove after like I did, which is only a half-mile away. And tell me how ‘L’ and ‘D’ are.


April 19, 2012

Anaheim White House review

Filed under: Food reviews — BJ @ 10:39 am

I got a gift certificate from thinking I had heard of this place so

My dish.

I checked it out with some friends. (Note: There are many restaurants with the words “White House” in them.) The outside is lavish. You drive up where you can only get valet parking and walk right over to the White House – complete with a smaller-scale replica of the building which you dine in, white Christmas lights on it and a dainty lawn that has the feel of a front yard. (Though, I am a bit of a gardener and can appreciate a well-groomed yard.)

It’s a two-story building with many rooms, and having gone back with my family, I’ve dined on both floors. They say on their website the average dinner is $35 per person, and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. I couldn’t get myself to pay over $20 for pasta so both times I got the Pollo Ripieno ~ Umbria Region – ham and Mozzarella cheese stuffed in a chicken breast. (Yes, I’m always about trying new things.)

The server was very helpful and attentive to our first visit, and everyone’s dish was really good. They were very big on presentation, and most of us got a wall made of crackers to accompany our entree. Unfortunately the second time, the service was very poor, and being in a room with bad service means not even seeing a waiter for over ten minutes. So I’d say it’s hit or miss, and the second dining experience was of course, not a good one.

But the food was consistently good, and if you’re looking to have a bit of an event in a somewhat fancy place, it’s worth checking out.


April 18, 2012

The Five-Year Engagement review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 11:40 am

Seen at a pre-release screening in Los Angeles:

For full disclosure, I find it impossible to be impartial because of my love for Jason Segel‘s creative work so I honestly can’t tell if I’m being overly critical of the not-so-funny parts or if they truly stalled the film a bit. From the team that brought us Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I’d say this one is not as good but still holds its own. A lot of similar scenes as FSM, naturally, as well as Bridesmaids, which means plenty of laughs and smiles throughout.

Also with a running time of about two hours, I felt like director Nicholas Stoller lost his comedic timing in when to cut away from a scene. Plus, a lot of characters somewhat bothered me; they really made a point to make so many characters weird. Lastly, all of Emily Blunt‘s work scenes were a bit of a drag. I know they were vital to their relationship, but I was kind of bummed every time we had to re-visit this side of the story. So not laugh-out-loud throughout like the other two, but another quality Judd Apatow film with a heartfelt story.

Even though 21 Jump Street is the better comedy, I can’t help but lean towards FYE if I were to watch one again due to the lovable cast and the extended story arc similar to Bridesmaids. I can also appreciate how Segel manages to make a comedy appealing to both sexes, which is a tough juggling act. One of my most anticipated comedies of the year, I had a great time, but hoping that This is 40 is better.

Looks like Segel and Stoller, who co-produced The Muppets, will start working on a Muppets sequel.

The Five-Year Engagement opens in theaters on April 27.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: n/a
What it should be: 7.0



April 17, 2012

Hit & Run review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 10:35 am

Seen at a pre-release screening in Los Angeles:

Written, co-directed and starring Dax Shepard, this action adventure comedy has a quality cast and good pacing that keeps the indie feel away enough for it to be a fun movie. Co-starring his real-life fiance, Kristen Bell, as his high-minded girlfriend, Tom Arnold as his bumbling Witness Protection agent, Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville) as Bell’s protective ex-boyfriend and Bradley Cooper as the cornrowed, tracksuit-wearing ex-gang mate, they all go on a wild California chase after the couple with enough car chases to get a boot.

The story was simple yet so good, and Cooper and Rosenbaum were awesome in their eccentric roles. If you’re looking for a solid low-key movie, check it out. It doesn’t have any fireworks, but it’s a fun time with a few giggles.

Side note: Shepard and Bell, who have a height difference of 13 inches, have been engaged for over two years. Looks like they’re on their way to a five-year engagement.

Hit & Run opens in theaters on August 24.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: n/a
What it should be: 7.0



April 16, 2012

Lockout review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 1:12 pm

Seen at a pre-release screening in Santa Monica:

Guy Pearce, in the Q&A with Maggie Grace after the showing, called it just a popcorn movie, but I thought that was a disservice to this solid sci-fi action movie. It’s a fun ride with tons of one-liners from the lovable protagonist played by Pearce, whose witty banter with Grace makes the unassuming sexual tension one to eat up.

Written by Luc Besson, writer and producer of the Taken and Transporter franchises, this was, well, a fun popcorn movie. Okay, so Pearce was right, but only in a huge compliment sort-of-way. Rotten Tomatoes, however, called it “too derivative and shallow.” Shallow? What does that even mean? Saving the President’s daughter seems like a pretty fucking big deal, and there are more layers and twists than other shitty action movies. Simply, I didn’t dislike anything about it.

Pearce gets yolked for this role and could every bit hold his own against the likes of Mark Wahlberg, who I saw the resemblance to throughout his performance. He’s too good not to get bigger roles and maybe, at the age of 44, can finally get a little more recognition with four movies this year, including the much-anticipated Prometheus.

Afterwards, the two stars chatted with Access Hollywood’s movie critic for about 20 minutes, and Grace, who I think is one of the top 5 most beautiful actresses, is tall (5’9″ before heels), skinny and absolutely stunning. Pearce was looking quite the middle-aged man with glasses and a scarf but was hilarious throughout. Loved the part when an orthodox Jew with a yamaka stood up and told Pearce, “You were horrible in (this one movie).” Pearce took it in stride, thanking him, and the asshole got up and left right after.

Between this and The Cabin in the Woods, two of Friday’s new releases, I would recommend the latter. But you’ll definitely have a good time with this movie as well.

Lockout opened in theaters Friday.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 6.9
What it should be: 7.4



April 13, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 8:43 pm

Seen at a pre-release screening in Los Angeles:

It’s been a long time coming for this horror movie, as MGM battled bankruptcy in 2010. I almost passed on this movie, dismissing it as a cheesy slasher film with an unknown cast but thought twice about it after seeing its high IMDb rating pre-release. One of the taglines for this movie is “You think you know the story,” and while that seems like marketing fodder, it couldn’t be more true.

It’s really hard to discuss this movie–yes, the entire premise is a twist–except to say it’s nothing you’d possibly expect. Stop watching the previews, as some of them give away the secrets of the movie, and I will offer you this. A lot of comedy involved, hardly any horror, but enough frights and a mind-blowing twist to make this an absolutely enjoyable movie.

Some good eye candy, headlined by Kristen Connolly, and Richard Jenkins (Step Brothers) has a hilarious role. Co-written and co-produced by Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed The Avengers.

There’s talk of this movie challenging The Hunger Games at the box office this weekend, and while I don’t see that happening, I would recommend this movie to watch over THG.

The Cabin in the Woods opens in theaters today.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 7.7
What it should be: 7.7



April 12, 2012

The Raid: Redemption review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 10:41 am

I’ve only seen print ads for this movie, and boy, am I glad I found it. Hailed as one of the best action movies in years by numerous critics and already a Top 20 action movie all-time per IMDb, I couldn’t agree more. You simply don’t get the hand-to-hand combat in American movies, and no, Jason Statham‘s hardly qualifies. Oh yeah, this is an Indonesian film.

Directed by a Welsh who makes movies on the Indonesian martial art of Silat, it has a succinct setup of only a couple minutes before it gets right into non-stop action. Tons of cool kills and lengthy fight scenes – all in an apartment building. Roger Ebert should be shot for giving this one star, and he lost all credibility if he even had any left.

Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park co-wrote the score for the American theaters, which had 55 minutes of instrumentals. They’re looking to make a trilogy out of this, but disappointingly, an American remake as well.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 8.4
What it should be: 8.4



April 11, 2012

The Hunger Games review

Filed under: Movie reviews — BJ @ 11:28 am

I had high expectations for this movie based on its critical and commercial success, and I can’t say that they were entirely met. It was nothing special, and if you take out the existence of a book, you’ve got none of that hysteria – just a good movie with a unique story. But I’ll still defend the internet nonsense about Rue being black or the shaky camera. Get over yourselves. I didn’t think twice about either of those while watching it.

The movie ran a lengthy two hours and 22 minutes, and that might be the biggest issue I had with the movie. Not that it was a bore or slowly paced, I certainly didn’t expect 50% of the movie, or the first 65 minutes to be about the preparation for the games. I don’t care how big the sponsors were a part of the book, but that was too much time spent on too little of a payoff. Yes, those parachutes were important, but I don’t think it needed a substantial amount of time and many scenes spent on such a small part of the games.

For those that thought Kristen Wiig‘s character in Bridesmaids was a bitch, Jennifer Lawrence‘s character was a major bitch leading up to the game, and I wanted to punch her in the nose sometimes. The game itself was so PG-13, and I wasn’t crazy about how it all played out, although we all see it coming.

If I ever were in a cave with Suzanne Collins and our deaths were certain and imminent, I would ask her if she truly never heard of Battle Royale before writing the novel because I’m torn between those that say the story is way too unique for it to be a coincidence and studio heads who have honestly heard every wildly imaginable idea a hundred times.

The big news now is Gary Ross–who received a writing credit with Collins and directed it–bowing out of directing the sequel due to Fox’s priority scheduling with Lawrence on the X-Men sequel, allowing just four months to finish pre-production and without a script. Catching Fire, the second of the four films, already has a release date of November 2013.

THG is a cinematic version of Battle Royale with a fuller story, but it tries to be so profound and so much more than it really is. If you’re looking for a good popcorn movie that gets down to business and provides better entertainment, I’d recommend the latter.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

IMDb rating: 7.7
What it should be: 7.2



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