Touring Lancaster! (Guest Post)
(Editor’s Note: She’s back! In her 2nd part of a 3 story series, Lisa, Along Comes Mary’s guest contributor, tells us more about touring The Boulevard in Lancaster, California, and how she fared being adventurous with mushrooms and squid ink! 😉 Visit Lisa at Lisa’s Hodge Podge. xo, Mary)
By Lisa Altschuler
I have worked in Lancaster for going on 4 years, and this is the first time I actually got to experience what Lancaster has to offer. We got a tour of The Boulevard, the up and coming shopping and dining area in downtown Lancaster. I have heard of The Boulevard but never took the time to go and explore it. I am sorry I never did. There are so many little shops, amazing restaurants and great salons and spas.
The Boulevard itself looks as if it were taken from a small beach community and put right on the outskirts of the Mojave Desert. There are many Mom and Pop restaurants and small boutiques that sell everything from wedding dresses to comic books. We got to sample two of the restaurants along The Boulevard: Giannini Bistro and Grill and The Lemon Leaf.
Giannini Bistro and Grill is a small Italian restaurant. It has been on The Blvd for 7 years and the owners Nick and Sharon Giannini were very nice and informative. They treated us to a feast of their best dishes. Our first dish was a Portobello ravioli with red pepper in a creamy sauce. I am not a fan of mushrooms and tend to avoid them if I can. But, I wanted to be courteous and so I ate a bite. It was actually very good. I needed to mentally prepare myself, but once I did, I really enjoyed the dish. Next, was a cup of their Zuppa Toscana. This is a sausage soup with spinach. I finished the whole cup. It was too good to just have a taste. Then, we had a bacon wrapped tri-tip. It was so flavorful and juicy. I am getting hungry just writing about it. After that, we had more tri-tip and baby bake ribs in their homemade BBQ sauce. The sauce was smoky and not too sweet. It was a perfect paring to the tri-tip. And (No, I’m not done), we finished the savory foods with shrimp skewers with their homemade cocktail sauce. I was stuffed at this point, and then they bring out dessert. We had a plate of deep-fried cheesecake bites. I can never turn down dessert, so of course I had a couple of them. They were delicious, not too oily and not too rich.
Apart from the food, the atmosphere was very nice. They decorate their restaurant three times a year. In the spring, it is decked out in Alice in Wonderland! In October, they have it Pirates of the Caribbean themed and during Christmas, they go all out! I want to come back not only for the food, but to see this place get transformed!
After that wonderful meal, we wandered down the street to the restaurant and bar called Bex. This place is for the younger crowd. At night, it turns into a nightclub, and they have an underground bowling alley. I want to explore this place on my next trip up here!
For dinner, we wondered into the Lemon Leaf Café. We met the owner, Maria Elena Grado who told us this place has been here for 10 years. I can’t believe I’ve missed this place! She prepared our menu for us. We started with a Turkey Cranberry Cobb Salad. This was just what we needed after a day of bacon! It was very refreshing and I was planning on eating more, when she brought out her Salmon with Squid Ink Pasta. I was afraid, but felt adventurous and took a bite. The squid ink added a bit of salt but no extra flavor. The salmon was prepared perfectly. I thought this dish was amazing! She then came out with Gorgonzola Bread and some read sauce for dipping. It was really good! I could have eaten the whole thing if I wasn’t so full. We also sampled Spicy pasta with chicken. It was not terribly spicy and very flavorful. We ended the day with dessert, a lemon tart and their signature Orange cake with Coffee icing. These desserts were amazing!! I already have plans to come back to this place. I can’t wait to try more.
Lancaster is more than just that place in the desert. They are growing into a tourist destination! Visit www.destinationlancasterca.org for more details.
(Disclosure: Along Comes Mary was invited on a weekend tour of Lancaster. All opinions are author’s own.)