The Blue Star
1645 S. Tejon St., 632-1086, thebluestar.net
Recently, we wrote about Black Forest's Corner Post Meats, the purveyor of truly pasture-raised and grass-fed products that's seeking to tie strongly into the community. Since it has a relationship with the Blue Star Group restaurants, I later headed to the flagship for lunch, finding a CPM sample in the Mediterranean-style pork gyro ($10.95) with feta, cucumbers, fresh spinach, ranch and harissa dressings for zest and a bit of spice. The perky pork strips receive a noticeable cinnamon-clove and herb treatment for extra character, on a fluffy, toasted, open-face pita. It folds up full next to nice salted-and-peppered fries and ketchup.
CPM's lamb also informs a house burger that my vegetarian guest had to pass up for a humble white-bread mushroom grilled cheese ($8.95) of Swiss, caramelized onion jam, and a finishing smear of a house-made, cream-cheese-like herb-mushroom spread. Again, side of fries for the win. — Matthew Schniper
402 W. Fillmore St., 635-0112, luckydragonmenu.com
Next time it's raining — if it ever stops long enough to start again — go find a bowl of wonton soup, like the one served with every lunch at Lucky Dragon. During my recent visit, a few firm wontons floated around in the crystal clear broth, its oily sheen translating into a buttery finish. So satisfying. The scallops with black bean sauce ($6.95) were also great, offering plump bivalves and a deeply meaty brown sauce.
On the other hand, the Peking pork ($6.95) yielded fried, dried-out hunks of bone-in pork whose watery sauce tasted vaguely of maple syrup. Those pieces were partially resuscitated at home, but no remedy was available for the service. Our waitress was brusque and indifferent; food arrived at substantially separate times, the new arrival growing cold waiting for the next; and the plates were slapped down on the tables. A trailing "enjoy" was floated at the table as she wandered off. — Bryce Crawford
Sacred Grounds Café & Wine Bar
1801 Cheyenne Blvd., 475-0888, sacredgroundsbroadmoor.com
The menu calls it honey cake ($5.50) but another name is medovik, the Russian name for the multi-layered dessert that's rumored to have been a favorite of Catherine the Great. Sacred Grounds' version is beautifully symmetrical, with four layers of golden dulce de leche gluing together four layers of an incredibly soft and rich dough punctuated with crumbs. It's a creamy, complex taste — a little stand-offish — and there's never really a searing sweet note, a fact I highly enjoyed.
A large Toasted Tuscan Chicken sandwich ($9.50) starts with the soft crunch of ciabatta before giving way to a gooey center, thick with a pesto-mayonnaise and supported by grilled chicken and red peppers. The Veggie Panini ($7) makes similar noises, with its pesto and red-pepper center, but a thick slice of fresh mozzarella, and crisp side salad, provide the difference. Either is a can't-miss lunch. — Bryce Crawford