My first experience with Lazy Dog Cafe was when we moved to southern California, over a decade ago. Since then, the restaurant chain has more than evolved through the years in a very positive way. I am invited here to try the newly launched menu items, and am impressed by Lazy Dog’s dedication to keeping up with food trends, and guest expectations.
Order one of the beautiful cocktails, which aren’t only pretty to look at, but are very tasty as well. The use of of quality, fresh ingredients, means you’re receiving an all-around great experience when dining at Lazy Dog.
Gin + Elderflower Tonic ($9.95) uses Aviation gin and St-Germain, mixed with lime and soda. Edible flower petals swim in the glass, creating a picturesque visual that is oh so pretty to look at. The drink itself is refreshing, and tastes exactly as its image evokes — bright with floral hints.
My favorite is Carrot + Cucumber Tonic ($8.95) a tall glass with cucumber-infused Rain vodka, fresh carrot juice, turmeric, house-made sweet and sour, and soda. Your palate will think you’re drinking a healthful juice, but it’s very much an adult beverage.
One of the loveliest items we try is the Goat Cheese + Pepper Jelly ($9.95). Cypress Grove goat cheese is topped with a house-made pepper jelly and served with walnut flatbread crackers. The slightly spicy sauce is dotted with bits of jalapeno, and works ever so perfectly with the soft, spreadable cheese. This is exactly what you’d want to pair your cocktails with, so make sure you order it.
If you’re looking for a salad, I highly recommend Green Goddess Salad ($11.95). Speckled little gem lettuce leaves are not only pretty to look at, but also tasty. Add to that watermelon radish discs, candied almonds, and a crispy squash blossom from Fresh Origin Farms, stuffed with goat cheese, and the result is exceptionally pleasing.
In the last few years, my body isn’t processing red meat as well as it use to, so I’ve cut back on it, resorting to a majority plant-based diet. I’m not vegetarian by any means, and do indulge once in a while, but these days, I’m finding more and more vegetarian dishes deliciously satisfying. Black Bean Jackfruit Tostada ($13.95) is one of them. I’m sure you’ve heard about the versatility of jackfruit, and how its textures mimic that of meat. Here, black beans are mixed with jackfruit to form a “tostada”. It is topped with charred corn, avocado, feta, pickled jalapenos, tomatillo salsa, shredded cabbage, fresh radish, cilantro and spicy crema. It resembles a meat patty when you cut into it, but it is SO much healthier. I thoroughly enjoyed this, and would order it again.
Pork Belly BLT ($12.50) uses candied bacon, but also adds a layer of Beeler’s Family Farm pork belly to kick it up a notch. Little gem lettuce, tomato slices, and black pepper mayo, are all sandwiched between two slices of whole grain wheat bread to create one of the most delicious BLTs I’ve had in a while.
If you’re looking for something more entree-like, definitely order the Alaskan Halibut ($25.95). In this latest rendition, the parmesan and herb crusted fish sits atop a chilled salad comprising heirloom Zursun beans from Idaho, sweet peas, red onions, sweety drop peppers, fresh herbs, all tossed in a lemony vinaigrette. I couldn’t stop eating the incredibly buttery beans.
I’m not a dessert fan, so I ask my friend to choose something. My heart sinks a little when she chooses Vanilla Bean Custard ($7.50) because I’m not a fan of vanilla. However, I am SO happy she did because it is one of the best desserts I’ve had so far this year. The panna cotta-like vanilla bean and cream custard is stunning, creamy, and not stiff. I also like that it isn’t sweet, allowing the local hive honey to shine. Bee pollen and candied almonds add crunch, while the blueberries lend a hit of brightness to the palate.
I am absolutely impressed by this latest seasonal menu at Lazy Dog Restaurant, and look forward to seeing what it has in store for us next season!
Lazy Dog Restaurant
13290 Jamboree Road
Irvive, CA 92602