I used to watch Food Network almost non-stop. I loved all of the cooking shows – Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Giada De Laurentiis. I picked up so many great hints and tips just by watching their shows on a Saturday morning. While I don’t really watch those shows too much anymore, I still enjoy some of the other, newer shows. One of them is Restaurant Impossible with Robert Irvine, sort of knock off on Kitchen Nightmares. I’ve gotten Jake to watch it a few times and he’s actually into the show now. When I told him that they had done an episode at a restaurant here in town, he was totally game for going and checking it out.
The restaurant in question is The Trails Neighborhood Eatery in La Mesa. I had never heard of the place before I saw it on the show. It’s in a pretty nondescript part of town, within an old strip mall in San Carlos/La Mesa. Driving by the strip mall, it really doesn’t look like much. There’s a CVS and a Keils food store which looks like one of the oldest stores ever.
Once you step inside though, you immediately see the homey, updated version of the restaurant. It has a really cozy feel with lovely colors and the images of the family throughout the restaurant give it a very welcoming feel.
We just happened to go the first time on a Sunday morning. When we watched in, they had the Food Network channel on which just happened to be playing their episode! We mused if it was a recording that the restaurant played, but the owner, Stacey, pipped up. “No, it just happens to be on right now,” she explained, with an embarrassed grin.
We ended up waiting over an hour for a table, no doubt because of that recent airing of the episode. I was determined to try it though even though maybe I hadn’t picked the best day/time to go.
[Cinnamon Roll Pancakes – Swirls of cinnamon roll filling and topped with cream cheese frosting – $6.99 / with bacon & eggs – $8.99]
On our first visit, Jake and T. shared an order of the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes. It’s covered in a rich cream cheese frosting which doesn’t require anything else to go on it – it’s quite sweet enough with that frosting!
The impressive cinnamon swirl is done right into the pancakes, giving it the classic cinnamon roll look and all of that cinnamon taste right in the pancake. The few bites I snagged from Jake were quite delicious. The pancakes were light and fluffy with a nice bit of cinnamon goo in them. This would have to be something to share in my opinion since it is rich and sweet – but very good.
[Eggs & Bacon]
Not much to say – but these were done well.
[Country Benedict – Grilled biscuit topped with sausage patties, scrambled eggs and country gravy – $8.99]
I ordered one of their specials – the Country Benedict. It came with home fries, but I asked to substitute for a fruit cup. But, they gave me the home fries on accident so I got to have both.
The Country Benedict has a split, grilled biscuit on the bottom. I’ve never had a grilled biscuit before so I was impressed with it – it had a nice golden crust and tasted divine with country gravy on top. The sausage patties are in the gravy and the eggs are under that, too. I wasn’t super excited about my eggs being topped off with gravy, but I did my best to get past it and ended up really liking it.
I also ended up really liking the home fries. Usually I don’t like home fries because they’re not crisp, they’re mushy and usually tasted like unseasoned potato cubes. The Trail’s home fries are a bit different and more akin to a chunkier hash brown. No extra things – no onions and peppers – just well seasoned potatoes with a nice outer crust and a softer inside.
[Cinnamon Roll – $2.99]
I also ordered us up a cinnamon roll, because well, I like cinnamon rolls. A lot. I also think they’re much better suited for sharing. I can’t eat a whole cinnamon roll by myself!
The first time we had the cinnamon roll, we entered into some kind of cinnamon roll nirvana. It was perfect. It looked like their wasn’t enough frosting, but that first time around, once we got inside the cinnamon roll it was perfect – moist and gooey with all of the cinnamon running through the whole roll. We deemed it the very best cinnamon roll we had ever had.
But then the second time… well. The second time dashed all of our hopes. It was dry. There wasn’t enough cinnamon goo. It wasn’t moist and flaky like the first time. It made us think twice.
[Pulled Pork Fries]
This is also from our second visit. Jake wanted to go back and try the country fried steak and I wanted to get more biscuits and gravy. He also wanted to try the above Pulled Pork Fries since we had since it on their specials menu the week before.
It was a little before Noon on a Sunday and our waitress broke the news to us that they had run out of country gravy.
You ran out of country gravy on a Sunday morning? How is that possible?! Jake was so disappointed that he didn’t want to order anything else and ended up just sharing these fries with T. He had to special request them from the waitress who put in a special order for them. They were just okay. The fries weren’t done that well (some crisp, some soggy) and the meat was just okay. Anti-climatic.
[San Diego Omelette – Bacon, avocado, onions, mushrooms and jack cheese – 9.29]
I was hankering an omelette for some reason. Omelettes are one of those “God-It-Sounds-Good-But-Isn’t-That-Great” items for me. This one wasn’t too bad. I substituted the tomatoes for onions – and boy, did they deliver on those onions. The inside ingredients are folded over an egg shell which is what I prefer. They forgot to include my avocado in my omelette, which made me think it was really a bummer, but I didn’t bother to complain because I was so hungry that I tried not to care (I still cared). The home fries also weren’t as good the second time around. Had some overcooked parts while I avoided and tried to stick to just the edible parts. Omelette wasn’t terrible, but not as good as I hyped it up in my head.
Our first visit was magical. Our second visit shattered our image of the place. The cinnamon roll wasn’t consistent and who runs out of country gravy on a Sunday morning? Is it really that hard to make more? Doesn’t seem like it to me, but maybe they’re too busy. It was kind of 50/50 – some items were good, some were not, but can we count on it to be consistent?
We haven’t wanted to go back and try again, but perhaps sometime in the future we’ll feel up to again and will finally try that chicken fried steak.
The Trails Neighborhood Eatery
7389 Jackson Drive
San Diego, CA 92119