Monday, February 20, 2012


(Short Order – Nancy Silverton’s New Burger Joint)

My name is Ilona and I’m a burgerholic. 

If this were a perfect world, I’d eat one every day.  My perfect job would be to review cheeseburgers around the world… but the world (and life) is not perfect.  I’d be elephantine.  Don’t get me wrong, I love elephants – I just don’t want to ape them in weight.

But, I do get to review cheeseburgers for my own blog, and I found a new favorite right in my own back yard (well, really “over the hill” from the Valley to the city part of LA)…

Sometime ago I wrote about the burgers that Nancy Silverton, one of America’s premiere chefs, makes at home. I called them Nancy Burgers and told y’all about her perfect ground beef blend and how she recommends cooking them.

Well Nancy, in celebration of her love for burgers, along with her partner, restaurateur Bill Chait, recently opened up her first burger joint, Short Order, located in the famed Los Angeles Farmer’s Market.  And though the restaurant is named “Short Order” – it’s anything but fast food. These are real burgers from delicious ground beef cooked to perfection.

For my first visit, I took my friend Cindra, a fellow cheeseburgerholic.  We take each other out for lunch for our birthdays, and her choice this year was a Short Order birthday. 

The restaurant has a patio and "indoors" with sort of communal sitting downstairs

and a covered deck with separate tables and enclosed room w/ tables and a bar upstairs.   

We wanted to chat and catch up so we took a deuce on the upstairs deck.

Did I mention that Short Order has a full bar – not just wine and beer?  It does. 

So as is our birthday lunch custom, we ordered Bloody Marys.  Oops!  No Bloody Marys.  They don’t make them. They don’t have tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix.  Duh – what?!  OK, a big negative, and we were disappointed, but we were game, so Cindra decided to try one of Short Order’s “fancy” cocktails – Morning Glory Fizz, a drink consisting of scotch, lemon, sugar, egg white and absinthe.  It tasted pretty good – but really was just a variation of the scotch sour.  I opted for a vodka martini with olives.  Oops!  No olives.  They don’t have them  Duh – what?!  But, I could have my martini w/ a lemon peel.  OK, another negative, but we were there for the burgers.

We both decided on “Ida’s Old School Burger” (named after a 17 year old family friend).  Grass-fed beef, cheddar, pickles, tomato, griddled onion, iceberg lettuce and a secret sauce, all on a homemade bun… it was a “Dagwood” of cheeseburgers.  Burgers are cooked to a perfect medium rare, unless you specify otherwise. Cindra wanted hers more medium-well and I had it the way Nancy wanted me to have it… both of our burgers were just the way we liked them.  We ate. We ooh-ed. We ah-ed.  We loved every bite.

For our “side,” we went with the old school fries – shoestring style – crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Yum.

Our waitress, knowing we were disappointedly-deprived of our Bloody Mary’s, brought out a bottle of white wine the restaurant just ordered for its “wine cellar” and gave us a glass on the house.   

The wine was good, but the service she gave us and the acknowledgement of our disappointment was even better.

And, since this was a birthday lunch – dessert was in order and Cindra ordered “Nancy’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie” w/ TCHO chocolate.  It was delicious and big enough I could have put a candle in it.  I sang one bar of “Happy Birthday,” anyway.  And, it was a happy and satisfying birthday lunch.

Then it was my turn, birthday-wise.  Every year my friend Michael takes me to a fun diner or dive or food truck to indulge my “gourmet” comfort food cravings.  He’s also my cheeseburger enabler. A fan of Nancy’s, Richard joined us.  Again, I found myself on the upstairs deck, sipping water that’s served in Mason jars and perusing the menu.

I decided to have another martini (no I’m not trying to revive the martini lunch) with a lemon peel since they still had no tomato juice or olives.

The day was a perfect medium-warm and I decided that, this time, I would try Nancy’s Backyard Burger, made with her blend of dry-aged beef and topped with North Country Smokehouse applewood bacon, comte (cheese), avocado, heirloom tomatoes, onion, iceberg lettuce and spicy mayo.  I love all those things, but knew that this was going to be an even bigger “Dagwood” burger, so I asked for everything (but the cheese) on the side… besides I really wanted to taste this incredible grilled beef and cheddar w/ no frills.

Richard ordered the same burger, but with everything piled on top the way Nancy intended.

Michael opted for Ida’s burger – the one I had on my first visit.

Biting into my Nancy burger, with the beef juicy-ily medium-rare and the cheddar melted to perfection, I soared into burger heaven.

This time we ordered the Short Order Spuds which are small potatoes, cooked, crushed, then deep-fried so they’re soft and crunch all in the same bite.  Loved them! 

Michael ordered a vanilla malt which was too thick, it was like eating Hagen Daas vanilla ice cream and not drinking a malt.

Other choices on the menu are delicious-sounding pork, lamb, turkey, and tuna burgers, along with a double-double vegetarian chick pea patty burger, with yogurt sauce, harissa, cucumbers and iceberg lettuce for non-meat eating crowd.

Or you can get a grilled cheese, patty melt, tuna melt, corn pups (miniature corn dogs) or a mac ‘n’ cheese raft to name just a few selections.  And, yes, even a salad or two.

What can I say, the full bar may not serve a full menu of cocktails – and the overly sweet, way too thick malt needs a rethinking, but…

Short Order is very long on great burgers.

Short Order
6333 W. 3rd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90036

No reservations.  First come, first serve

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine Gift to Me!

Written by a writer for the Studio City, Calif. Patch, an online local newspaper owned by Huffington Post.  The perfect Valentine's present to me!  ;o)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Freeze Frame -- my book

Just wanted to let all my readers know that my 'suspense-thriller-mystery' John Grisham meets Sue Grafton book is finally available to buy online.  Alert the media!!!! 

It's on Amazon - see link below in the email I C&P'd from Create Space.


However (I love "howevers") - If you want to buy it  (and I hope you do), you can go directly to the Amazon's publishing arm I used, Create Space, and order it there (at double the royalties to me - love that ) for the same price.  Here's the link:

If you do buy it (hell, buy dozens and give them out to family and friends ), I hope you'll have a good time reading it.  And please feel free to spread the word.  Words spread is always a good thing. ;o)

I hope you'll click in, be intrigued and, perhaps, but a copy....

Below is the email I got from Create Space and the pic of my cover, bio, book description, yada, yada, yada...-

Your CreateSpace eStore is currently available. An easy way to find your 
CreateSpace eStore is to simply enter your Title ID number after  The URL to your eStore is:

Your detail page will build in stages over five to seven business 
days. You'll see parts of it appear over time, rather than all at once. This is 
part of the process of making your title live on Amazon, and it's Amazon's 
standard detail page construction procedure. Our records show that Amazon began 
building your detail page on February 8. Please check periodically to 
verify the status of your title's listing. Although your Amazon detail page is 
not yet available, the link to this page will be: 

Below is part of my page on Create Space which has a pic of the book's cover and my bio.  Click on my URL link about for Create Space and you'll be able to see it all.


Freeze Frame

List Price: $10.99

Add to Cart
About the author:
Ilona Saari is a freelance writer who's worked in many genres, from television/film to essayist to rock 'n' roll press to political campaigns. She was a Presidential Deputy Press Secretary and press liaison for two national Presidential conventions and has written many speeches for celebrities stumping for presidential candidates and women's issues. Her essays have been published in newspapers such as the NY Daily News and others across the country. "Freeze Frame" is her first novel. Though a native New Yorker, Ilona currently lives with her husband in Studio City, California.

Freeze Frame

Authored by Ilona Joy Saari

A U.S. Senator is shot on New York's Circle Line Ferry and his body disappears into the East River. The next day, Lorna Raven, a young videographer, is taping the contents of a Beekman Place townhouse for insurance purposes when she captures a shadowy image of a a man on the glass covering a painting. Her brother, an ex-reporter and her business partner, thinks that shadow looks like the "dead" Senator. She laughs it off. Naively, she has a passionate fling with a man who claims to be a New York policeman investigating the Senator's murder, and that's only one of his lies. Soon after, someone tries to kill her brother, putting him in a coma. Suddenly, nothing's funny anymore, and when someone tries to kill her she's forced to go on the run. Unable to trust anyone, she finds herself sucked into an intricate plot that leads to the highest level of American intelligence.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Two Fishermen

OK, let’s be real, dining at a strip mall isn’t my idea of fine dining.  It’s not that I’m a food snob (well, I kind of am) – I love funky clam shacks, diners, dives and hot dog stands.  I’d eat cheeseburgers and corned beef on rye w/ Swiss everyday if this were a perfect world… but going to a restaurant in a strip mall just doesn’t ring my bell, tickle my toes or float my boat…  but life is full of surprises, and Two Fisherman was definitely a surprise.

First, I’ve never been to Santa Ana, but we were meeting up with our friend Roger who suggested the restaurant for lunch.  Santa Ana is miles from my home in Studio City and to get there it’s miles of driving on construction riddled freeways.  Not an auspicious beginning… but I’m always up for a fresh fish food adventure… so Richard and I braved the cranes and traffic and arrived just in time to join the lunch crowd at Two Fishermen.

Owned by Don Kim and Chase Oh (hence the “Two” Fishermen)

Chase Oh

the little restaurant is bright (lots of window) w/ a simple, modern cafeteria-style design

 with a wall-sized mural of – what else?  A fish. (Well, there is that chef and lovely pier, but the fish rules.) 

Chase is one of the chefs, along with the restaurant’s manager, Daniel Cahauntzi. 

Chase Oh

Daniel Cahauntzi
Together with their sous chefs, they offer a variety of starters, salads, power “bowls” tacos, burrito wraps, gyros, special rolls (ie: Calif. roll, spicy tuna roll, etc.) and “fryer” dishes (served w/ pita bread and 2 sides) and grill entrees (served w/ pita bread, 2 sides, various sauce choices or tarragon garlic butter).

There are ahi tuna, Mahi Mahi, salmon, tilapia, catfish, haddock, shrimp, wahoo, crab, and calamari dishes – and for the non-fish lovers there are also chicken, lamb, tofu, and even Korean barbeque selections.  And don’t forget the “sides” which include a mint peanut slaw, a hummus veggie dip, grilled veggies, French and sweet potato fries.

What to order?  Roger helped us navigate the menu.  Richard zeroed in on the crab cakes…

Roger the salmon gyro… and I opted for the grilled shrimp gyro (it was lunch, after all, and I love “sandwiches” at lunch)…

We chose the sweet potato fries and the mint peanut slaw as our sides.

We got our number and grabbed a table.

The food arrived and, of course, I had to taste Richard and Roger’s choices, then I dove into mine… The crab cakes were served with a chipotle aioli sauce – soooo good!  The sweet potato fries were crisp on the outside and yummy soft on the inside. The gyros were filled with perfectly cooked, “just off the boat” fresh fish, crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, cucumber, olives, red onion, feta cheese, with a citrus creamy sauce (or a fat free yogurt sauce) on a sweet wheat bun (or you can choose a white bun) -- all, and I mean ALL, of my prejudices against eating in a strip mall vanished – well, at least at Two Fishermen.

The food was so good we had to try one more thing… deep fried shrimp, coated in panko.  Another winner.

Of course, no meal is complete without dessert… and Chase’s tiramisu was the perfect choice to end a perfect lunch.

So, if you’re in the Santa Ana ‘hood and are in the mood for some delicious fresh fish fare, have your car speed over to the Two Fishermen mini-mall – you won’t be disappointed.  And, it’s kind to the pocketbook, too.  I didn’t see one thing priced over $12.95 – and most dishes were in the $7 - $10 range.

If you go for dinner, be warned, the restaurant doesn’t serve wine, beer or hard liquor.  But don’t let that let that stop you.  Have a nightcap when you get home.

Two Fishermen Grill & Rolls
2321 East 4 St. Suite G
Santa Ana, California 92705