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Dining Out with Pete Tittl

It's not really news when Eureka comes out with a new menu -- the chain vowed from the day it opened in Bakersfield to keep things fresh -- but we noticed on a recent visit that a few tempting items have been added.

They haven't ditched some of my personal favorites, such as the fish tacos appetizer or entree. The blackened, sauteed (not fried) "seasonal" white fish comes with a magnificent avocado aioli, cilantro, mango and shredded cabbage. I love it because sometimes you want an alternative to fried fish in your tacos, and the aioli is lighter than the typical Baja sauce. (My waitress on a recent visit said the slow-roasted, hand-pulled chicken tacos are even better; I'll put those on my list.)

Alluring new choices include beer- braised duck ($12.95): charcoal-broiled, bacon-infused duck sausage braised in Hanger 24 Orange Wheat beer and orange juice, served with cheddar cheese, spicy porter mustard and caramelized onions on a brioche roll; and what looks like salmon done a new way. The pan-seared wild (not farmed) salmon is prepared with sauvignon blanc, drizzled with lemon vinaigrette and presented with a medley of charbroiled vegetables that includes carrots, roasted beets, zucchini, corn, onions and asparagus. That will definitely be on our must-try list. The price on that is $17.95.

Still available are many of the old favorites like the osso buco riblets, naked chicken saltimbocca, the pulled-pork sandwich, the braised short ribs, the balsamic steak salad wrap, the Manila clam steamers that a friend swears are amazing, truffle fries, lollipop corn dogs and most of the burgers. Especially the Cowboy burger.

Parents will be excited to know that Boss Pizza downtown has a School's Out special. Through the month of June, from 2 to 5 p.m. daily, children 12 and under will receive one free one-topping pizza for each regular priced pizza purchase. The child must be present, and extra toppings may be available for the person with the "best Alice Cooper impression." Wendy's has come out with a beef brisket cheeseburger made with a cornbread bun with cheddar cheese, onion strings and sliced beef on top of a burger patty. It's currently available in Florida, and may be rolled out nationwide later ... Popeye's has brought back a successful limited promotion from the past: chicken waffle tenders (three white-meat strips coated in waffle batter before frying and served with a honey maple dipping sauce), available until the end of the month for $4.99 (three tenders, fries and a biscuit) ... Subway's two specials this month feature avocado: oven-roasted chicken with avocado and turkey and bacon avocado ... Marie Callender's has added BBQ Turkey sliders, $9.99 with fries and a slice of pie. As they continue to promote their barbecue specials, they offer a build-your-own platter for $15.99, with a choice of two proteins from a list of six ... El Pollo Loco has four new "decadent desserts": Tres leches cake, cheesecake chimichangas, chocolate chip brownie and churros. The tres leches is not close to the marvelous version found at Moo Creamery, but the cheesecake chimichangas are amazing, with a chocolate and cream cheese stuffing inside a crispy, sweet tortilla ... Arby's is offering cheddar-filled pretzel nuggets and a pecan chicken salad in either sandwich or wrap form ... Wienerschnitzel has brought out for summer a new barbecue bacon hot dog with onion strings as well as caramel-dipped cones and chocolate caramel double-dipped cone with Tastee Freez soft serve ...

Cupcakes-N-Crema closes

Sad news posted on Facebook recently: Sharon Clem Brandon, owner of the Rosedale cupcake bakery, said she was forced to close her restaurant located near the intersection of Coffee and Hageman. "The overhead was just too high for only selling cupcakes and cookies," she wrote. "I knew that Bakersfield could not support a cupcakes-only bakery. I didn't want to make wedding or birthday cakes. So I chose to be a bakery/cafe. ... Unfortunately it worked against me in the long run, because I became exactly what I never intended to be."

Business had spiked last spring, she noted, but crashed when the summer slowdown hit. "I have no regrets about pursuing my dream," she said.

Online review blackmail

A disturbing story ran in Nation's Restaurant News about restaurant owners in Britain claiming that customers who wrote reviews for Trip Advisor were threatening the eateries with negative reviews unless the meals were comped or upgrades were offered. It became so rampant that the British Hospitality Association put its members on alert about the threat. Trip Advisor is asking establishments to report any such threats with date and time of the incident and, if possible, the email addresses and/or name of the offenders. Policing the issue could be tough as the website gets a new review every second.