July 26, 2007
Cuisine: American (New), Southern
31752 Los Rios St
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Cinnamon Apple Beignets ($6)
Mac n’ Cheese with Smoked Veggies and Lemon Gremolada ($16)
Southern Fried Chicken Salad with Corn Bread, Cranberries and Pumpkin Seed Buttermilk Dressing ($14)
Strawberry Basil Pain Perdu ($12)
Not wanting to leave America without seeing one of my best friends, The Astronomer and I drove to San Jaun Capistrano to lunch with Esme on my final day in the states. She lives in Pasadena while I reside in San Diego, so we met exactly half way in the city of San Jaun Capistrano.
While researching restaurants midway between San Diego and Pasadena, I checked out eateries in Dana Point, Laguna Beach, and San Clemente, but they all seemed a bit too hoity-toity. Even though San Jaun Capistrano is technically located in the OC, it thankfully feels more rustic than silicone. The restaurant’s website provides further insight:
The Ramos House Café is situated in the heart of the Los Rios Historical District in San Juan Capistrano. It is the oldest remaining residential street in California, Los Rios dates back to 1794 when about 40 adobe structures were constructed to house soldiers and workers overseeing construction of the Mission.
The historical district was incredibly charming and a treat to walk up and down while waiting for Esme to arrive. When my friend finally came, we were seated promptly by the host. All dining at Ramos House is alfresco due to the abundance of sunshine year round.
The Astronomer insisted that we begin our meal with Cinnamon Apple Beignets because they are his weakness. The beignet batter contained tiny pieces of Granny Smith apples, which were deliciously tart and the cream fraiche and caramel sauces added another layer of sweetness. Perhaps a bit too decadent for a starter, but I’m not complaining.
For my entrée, I decided to have another dessert in disguise and ordered the Strawberry Basil Pain Perdu. An impressive mountain of freshly dipped and fried baguette rounds in a pool of strawberry puree topped with whipped cream appeared before me. It tasted as wonderful as it looked, but was much too big for one, so Esme and The Astronomer had to help me kill it. God, it was so good.
The Astronomer enjoyed the Ramos rendition of macaroni and cheese. The extra-large pasta and the roasted vegetables took this American classic to a delicious new level. His only complaint was the wimpy portion size. Esme really liked the cornbread in her salad, but found the chicken too spicy.