Saturday, August 30, 2014

Guest Post: Road Trip: SangKee Asian Bistro — Greater Philadelphia Area

Sacha here! You might remember me from Erin's review of Pho 54. I am also known as @zigged.

Our 2014 family road trip took us east to visit my dad in New Jersey + enjoy adventures in Ocean City, MD, and New York City. The itinerary I planned included stops at restaurants that are reported to be culinary gems. This time: SangKee Asian Bistro.

To be honest, I didn't find this one on any list (although its website says it was voted Best in Philadelphia Magazine 2006). It was suggested by a college professor of mine that we planned to meet for lunch. Of the few choices he offered, this one looked the best.

The Huz, The Kid, and I all got the bento box lunch special ($13), which is a choice of three items. We all chose shrimp with fresh garlic sauce as the main item, which was fantastic. Tail-on shrimp, snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, and maybe a few other things all tossed with an umamilicious sauce.

He got jumbo lump crab cake and chicken hot & sour soup as his other two choices. The Huz is a big fan of hot & sour soup and he said this one was excellent.

She got pan-fried chicken dumplings and ginger & scallion noodles as her other choices. She liked them both but the dumplings more. I wish I had gotten a taste of them. I tasted the noodles and they were good but not like we expected—skinny and a little dry when we thought they would be more like lo mein noodles.

I got jumbo lump crab cake and veggie fried rice as my two other choices. The jumbo referred to the crab meat and not the crab cake, which was small but very delicious. Lots of lumps indeed. It was sitting in a little puddle of sweet chili sauce that was a good accompaniment. I was very happy with the fried rice, too.

The Honorary Kid got sweet and sour chicken with white rice on the side because she wanted to go with a known. The chicken was more tender + a bit crispier on the outside than standard take-out and came dressed with the sauce (as opposed to having it on the side), which was brighter and tangier than standard take-out. I didn't expect it to be delicious, just passable, but it was outstanding. She couldn't stop talking about how much she loved it. If you are an unadventurous eater of Chinese food, or have someone in your party who is, this is a solid choice.

Dr. B, who is apparently a regular, got what he called the house special soup. (I assumed the menu would be online for reference later and it's not, so I'm relying on what he said.) When I asked him what was in it he said, "Everything leftover from last night." <shrug> It looked delicious—veg, meatballs, dumplings, etc.—and he loved it, so there you go. It reminded us of phở in that it was a big bowl of broth with a treasure of things floating around in it. I'd give it a shot.

The restaurant is in a strip mall with an unassuming storefront but the décor and ambiance are very nice inside—clean, bright, modern. Dr. B said they recently expanded into the space next door so business must be doing well. Service was good. I liked that there was a specific, laminated menu for the bento box lunch specials that listed everything in words on one side and photos on the other. We all enjoyed the tricolor fortune cookies too.

If you find yourself in Philadelphia and you want authentic (read: mysterious) Chinese food then I suggest you take your chances in Chinatown. If you are in the suburbs, though, or near the University City location, then this is a good alternative, especially if you're not up for a risky culinary adventure. Days later we were still talking about how much we enjoyed this meal.

SangKee Asian Bistro
339 E.Lancaster Ave.
Wynnewood, PA 19096
610/658 0618

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bluebeard - Lunch -Revisit

I was celebrating my friend @wibia’s birthday with him and he chose Bluebeard for lunch (ok, I might have heartily suggested it as well). If you read my blog, you know I am a really big fan of Bluebeard—although lunches there have been a little more mixed for me than dinners.

We split a small roasted beet salad to start ($7). I have said it before, but I think Bluebeard has some of the best salads in town. They do just the right amount of various different ingredients with interesting dressings that are properly balanced and are tossed with the salad. This one had roasted beets, field greens, feta and really crispy fried shallots with a balsamic truffle vinaigrette. Just the right combo of things—and things I wouldn’t normally think of putting together that tasted really good.

I had the shrimp po boy sandwich ($10). I am often lured in by shrimp po boys and I figured Bluebeard would do a good one. They did. It was a nice soft roll that was filled with what they called tempura shrimp, but I’m not sure if I would have said they had the light batter of tempura. They were tasty though, perfectly cooked and tender. They had a nice crunch to them as well. The only thing I wished is that there were a couple more. I didn’t have any left by my last bite. It was topped in the classic po boy style with lettuce, tomato and onion and with a riff on remoulade—pickled red onion remoulade. I really liked the sauce and the sandwich. The potato salad wasn’t bad-it was chopped up fingerlings with a creamy mustard base.
Wibia had the salumi sandwich ($10)—a nice combination of flavors—several types of cured meats (cotto, capicola and mortadella) with a nice olive kick (also red onions and grilled romaine). There was an additional pop of flavor from grainy mustard and aioli. The bread was the denser bread you typically get from Bluebeard and the only thing that was a little weird to me was how charred it was. I have come to realize that the kitchen must do this char thing on purpose because it is very prevalent. It certainly adds a distinctive taste, but for me, is a little overpowering. This particular sandwich has pretty strong flavors so it can hold up ok though.

All in all, it was a very good lunch and Bluebeard remains one of my favorite places for its nuanced flavors. Dinner is a better way to experience those flavors I think, but get a salad and you can always have a great example of them.

653 Virginia Avenue
Indy, 46203

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Pint Room

The Pint Room is a new venture in Carmel following in the growing trend of restaurants having extensive beer lists. I can take or leave the whole giant beer thing, because I’m really just not a beer girl, but when I hear there is a potential for good food, you know I have to check it out. And I know a lot of you guys are really into the whole massive beer list thing—so if you are, you should check it out.

I met my friend Suzanne there and we ordered a couple of things to share. When a restaurant calls itself a “Burger Bar,” you have to order a burger right? And as soon as we read the description of the “Hangover” burger, ($12) we knew that’s what we wanted. Pint Room uses a blend of Kobe beef and US Prime chuck and I like that they cook it to order. The blend of beef they’re using makes for a very tender burger—it’s a fairly thick style, but because of the tenderness, it’s really good. The Hangover is topped with a slight runny fried egg (you can see how it lured me in), smoked cheddar, double smoked bacon, hash browns and tomato. The beef and the egg were great—the egg was just runny enough without being hugely messy. The bacon is pretty thick cut-tasty but a tad chewy. I’m not sure how I feel about the hash browns—just kind of filler I think. It’s a brioche bun and I liked it—soft but hearty enough to stand up to a lot of stuff. All in all, a very good burger. I also liked the seasoned fresh-cut fries—very flavorful and crisp.  We liked the regular ones better than the sweet potato fries that we ordered with our other sandwich.

The other sandwich we shared was the grilled chicken club ($11.50). This was also  good. The very buttery toasted bread was good and I liked the way the chicken was thin and not a giant hunk of breast meat the way many chicken sandwiches are. The chicken was tender and well-seasoned and there was melted white cheddar and Swiss as well as bacon, lettuce, tomato and onion stacked on top. Again, bacon is good tasting, but thick and a bit chewy. The tomato was a tad pasty, but I really enjoyed the sundried tomato mayo on it. I could have eaten even more of that. Again, not as big a fan of the sweet potato fries with the sweet dipping sauce (I’m not usually a fan of sweet stuff with my savory). It was good, but the burger was better.

This is a place with a huge beer list and solid food—I’d be curious to try some of the starters—if they are as good as the sandwiches, I bet they’re pretty tasty. The entrance is sort of weird, it almost doesn’t feel like an entrance and the booth we were seated in felt like it was built for a much larger person than me (table was very far away). Otherwise, the interior is
pretty much what you might imagine for a burger/beer place. It’s casual, with lots of wood. The service was friendly and efficient. On the whole, I think this is a good addition to downtown Carmel.

The Pint Room
110 West Main Street
Carmel, IN 46032
The Pint Room on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Guest Post: Road Trip: Red Egg — New York City, NY

Sacha here! You might remember me from Erin's review of Lucky Lou Seafood Restaurant. I am also known as @zigged.

Our 2014 family road trip took us east to visit my dad in New Jersey + enjoy adventures in Ocean City, MD, and New York City. The itinerary I planned included stops at restaurants that are reported to be culinary gems. This time: Red Egg.

Way back in April I came across a post (via Twitter) on the best dim sum places in the country. It was no surprise to see a restaurant in Manhattan but HALF-PRICE DIM SUM? That spoke to this cheapo's heart. When The Kid asked to see a Broadway show, and The Huz wanted to see the 9/11 Memorial, my request was for a discount dinner. Do we know how to do a day in Manhattan or what?

Sui mai

There were six of us at the table, as two friends (whom I knew from Twitter but met that day for the first time) joined us. It allowed us to order quite a sampling of the goods. I wish I could be more specific but I forgot to take the receipt with me, which had an itemized listing of our order. I did snap a shot of the order form, though, so I can give you an idea.

Roast pork buns

We got the following (I think): pork & shrimp sui mai; seafood sui mai; fish balls; chicken & scallop buns; roast pork buns (for which they are supposedly famous); pork, shrimp, and peanut "fun gaw"; vegetable "fun gaw";  crispy seafood dumpling; chicken skewer; beef skewer; crispy shrimp roll; and garlic spare ribs. They ranged in price from (I think) $4.50 to $6.50.

Fish balls

They gave us two things to dip stuff in: a red paste that I think was made from hot peppers and a translucent orange sauce that was sweet. Not sure that anyone but The Huz tried the hot pepper one but all of us liked the other one, which we assumed to be a duck sauce of sorts. We are a (mostly) wimpy bunch, I guess. The skewers came with their own dipping sauce, a thick, brown one that tasted like a soy reduction. Others liked it but I didn't.

Spare ribs

Everything was fresh, flavorful, and cooked well. My favorites were probably the smoky, tender skewers, the chunky fish balls, and the crunchy spare ribs. The crispy shrimp roll was good, too. I wish I had gotten a taste of the crispy seafood dumplings but there were only three in the order and I  must've forgotten to get more in the next round.

Various steamed buns

The funniest thing was that I had essentially no idea how to start. I'm not sure how I became the dim sum sherpa in the crowd. We ordered a few things at first but it was clear when the food came to the table that we would need to order more. I tried asking the guys that were around for advice—more than one brought food, refilled water, and came when we looked confused, so it was hard to tell who was our server—but they were vague with suggestions. Finally, after we had filled another order card, a man who seemed to be the owner came over and said, "Let the expert help!" He then looked at our choices and said, "Too much food! I know you have money but this is too much!" Then he placed the order. Ha! We laughed as the food kept coming out and we kept eating, especially at the idea that I was over-ordering because I had money to burn. My friends begged me to title the review MAKE IT RAIN DIM SUM. In the end there were only three individual dumplings left on the table.

When the bill came we saw that we had ordered 19 dishes for little over a hundred bucks. Reasonable, right? But then I asked The Expert if that was happy hour pricing and he said he would check...and then came back with a bill for half the amount. I KNOW. Ridiculously cheap. Even for Indy, but we were in Chinatown in Manhattan. Crazy. We tipped on the pre-discount price. You know, because we had plenty of money.

I got the impression from the snazzy website that the place would be big and fancy. Um, not so. The outside is a small, painted black storefront with a black door and a neon sign in a window shaded by black blinds. The inside is somewhat American Hustle with a touch strip club. Think black and red with copious mirrored walls, spherical pendant lights, and booths and niches. In other words, perfect for half-price dim sum.

Red Egg
202 Centre Street
New York, NY 10013

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Union 50

Hubby and I had a date night and nothing specific planned, so we decided to check out the new Union 50. And then a week or so later, I ended up back there with girlfriends, so I had a chance to sample a fair amount of food. I have always enjoyed Chef Layton Roberts’ cooking (originally at Mesh and then at Meridian) so we were looking to see his spin here.

Union 50 is kind of more of a bar first I think, and then a restaurant. As for the food, I liked it. Hubby and I started with an order of the salmon lox ($10) and a small order of the hand-cut fries ($5). You can get the fries with several different flavors, and you also get to choose two dipping sauces. We had the duck fat and rosemary fries (how can you say no to duck fat?) and the truffle aioli and beer cheese sauces (incidentally we ordered the exact same combo with the girls). The fries were spectacular. Hand cut and super crisp with the extra richness from the duck fat and a touch of woodiness from the rosemary. They looked almost overcooked but were great. I preferred the truffle aioli to the beer cheese, just because the beer cheese was a little thin. I was a little bummed on girls night that the fries were less crisp and a little limp, but everyone else loved them and the sauces. I look forward to trying the poutine as well.

I liked the salmon lox dish more than hubby—it was an interesting blend of a potato salad flavor underneath the salmon (the potatoes were sliced thin and in a mustardy vinaigrette type sauce. The lovely salmon topped that and there was also some cucumber and pickled onions. I really liked the horseradish sauce on the side to mix with it. Hubby isn’t a huge fan of horseradish sauces and I think that’s where this dish lost him because I think it was important to the overall flavor profile.

We then shared a bistro sized (their medium) plate of wood fired roasted mushrooms ($14). There was a heaping helping of mushrooms that had in fact been roasted, although some of the larger ones were a bit too firm and could have used a little more time in the oven (or to have been cut down a bit). The star of this dish was the potato bacon terrine. Wow. That was pure genius layering bacon into what were essentially super delicious au gratin potatoes. They’d do well to serve this as a side dish. There is also a drizzle of Romesco sauce on the plate—which is a roasted pepper sauce. There was also a bit of balsamic. A good dish made even better by that potato terrine.

Finally, with hubby, we had the beef trio ($26) because, duh, tartare. And I am happy to report it is similar to the tartare Chef Roberts did at Meridian—nicely acidic with those wonderful fried chickpeas. The bone marrow was excellent as well—loved it with the warm bread (really good little mini loaves of bread). It was well seasoned and I liked the lightly dressed pea shoots with it. The only disappointment was the chilled ribeye cap—slices of perfectly cooked meat that had little to no seasoning. At least some sauce with it would be good (horseradish maybe?).

With my girlfriends, we shared a cheese board. They did a nice job with it—you get to pick your own cheeses. My only complaint was the “warm Manchego” might have been warmed a little too much and was a little dried out. I like the grainy mustard and cornichons they served along with. Would love to see a sweet set of accompaniments as an option in case you wanted to make it a dessert (fruit, nuts and honey perhaps?) We also tried the mussels with spicy white wine sauce and chorizo (a “bistro” size at $14).  There were a lot of fingerling potatoes in the broth as well. The mussels were good and the broth was spicy. The last thing that I tried was a special salmon dish for the evening. Loved the very citrusy flavors and the artichokes with it. The fish also had a nice crisp sear on it—I just wish it had been cooked a little less.

All in all, Union 50 is a very good addition food-wise. But I do feel like the feel of the place is a little confusing. Like maybe the food is more sophisticated than the atmosphere. There are also some service and usability issues in my mind. Our service was spotty and our experiences with the host/hostesses both times were a little off.  I’m going to write this off to new restaurant growing pains though, As far as usability though, the entrance is on the side of the building instead of in what seems like the obvious front (is this a Cunningham thing? Bru Burger is the same). The food is almost all also served as more of sharable plates, which is fine, but the tables are a bit small for more than 1-2 of the plates at a time (at least the tables for two and the bar tables). Our food hung off the edge. The round cushy bar stools are comfortable, but if they are all full (as they were on our first visit), there is no way to approach the bar between them. I also appreciate the uniqueness of the menu, although it is interesting how the young staff deals with it. Our server warned us that “lox” is not cooked but didn’t mention anything about the tartare.  There is table shuffleboard and skee ball as well as live music later in the evenings further making me wonder exactly what their goal with the space was. It’s pretty though, and the food is good, so we will certainly return.

Union 50
620 North East Street
Indy 46202

Union 50 on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 18, 2014

George's Neighborhood Grill- Revisit

After a recent back to school event the family and I decided to hit George’s again. It’s in our neighborhood and it had been awhile. I appreciate having a large family style restaurant that is independently owned, even though it isn’t a place I frequent on a regular basis.

Luckily, it was a nice night and we had decided to sit outside (they have a nice patio) because when I walked in to get a table, there was a band playing in the bar and it was pretty darn loud. Even in the non-bar part of the restaurant, conversation would have been a bit difficult.

We were all arguing over which appetizer to share and couldn’t agree so we splurged and got a sampler platter (not cheap at $15.99 but basically three different things for the price of two apps). I appreciate that you can choose pretty much any of the appetizer choices. As it turns out, they basically give you three full sized apps, so it is a good deal, although a more appropriate choice size-wise for a larger group. We had quesadillas (daughter’s choice), onion straws (son) and fried mushrooms (me and hubby). I have had their fried mushrooms before and really enjoyed them. I am pretty sure they are making them in house and they have a nice crunchy exterior and I like the horseradish dipping sauce. Last time I had them they were much smaller though, which I preferred, making them easy to pop in your mouth. These had to be cut making the crunchy exterior fall off a bit. Quesadillas were surprisingly good—the tortillas nice and crisp. The onion straws were food service I’m guessing and were pretty much what you would expect. We had a lot of these left over.

So we had had the pork tenderloin sandwich ($8.49) in the past and enjoyed it—so hubby and I agreed to share it (he ordered it) and I would try something new—the fish tacos ($8.99). They’re soft tacos filled with grilled tilapia, a cabbage slaw, pico, jack cheese and an avocado cream sauce (so says the menu).The thing I really didn’t like about the tacos was the pico. I was expecting a classic pico with tomatoes and onions and this was full of cucumber. Not a fan. To be fair, it was on the “healthy option” part of the menu, but these were just not that good. I even tried to squeeze some lime and improve them, but it didn’t really help.

The tenderloin was as good as always—really crispy fried with a fair amount of seasoning. There was a nicely toasted bun, slightly undersized for the meat, but that’s classic right?

The kids both had burgers—one of them really liked it and the other one didn’t. Hubby (whose opinion I trust more) thought they were quite good. They asked how they wanted them cooked (medium) and they were nice and slightly pink.

All in all, as I suspected, I’m still thinking George’s is a place to stick with the basics—the fried stuff that is made in house is well done. Venturing beyond that can be more questionable. The menu is quite large too, so it’s easy to get curious about other things. Although if you have a favorite non-fried item, I would love to hear about it!

George’s Neighborhood Grill
6935 Lake Crossing, Suite B-12-15
Indy 46220

George's Neighborhood Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 14, 2014

JS Garden

One or two of you guys told me about JS Garden awhile back and I’ve had it on the list ever since. I love the sort of strange location (it’s in a little strip mall behind Rally’s off 54th and Keystone). So I rounded up a couple of friends to give it a try. The restaurant bills itself as “teriyaki and Asian food” which seems to encompass a lot of things. I’d say the menu is heavy on Chinese items, with several other things mixed in from different regions of Asia (from curries to teriyaki).

I was surprised at how, well, nice the interior was. I mean it’s new, but I’ve sort of come to expect a stark interior at little places like this. They made an attempt to make this feel a bit nicer with darker colors and nicer tables and chairs. Also, the lady who greeted us and served us was very, very friendly and accommodating. If you go for lunch, take a moment to check out the specials board on your way in though. That’s the only place you can see them (otherwise you just get one of their carry out menus to look at). The lunch specials are around $5-6 and come with rice and a spring roll.

We started with an order of tempura veggies ($3.49—mainly because when I asked our server what veggies it included, she mentioned broccoli, which is my favorite tempura’ed veg. Unfortunately, while including many of my favorite other items as well (mushrooms and cauliflower), I didn’t really care for the crust—I think of tempura as a poofy batter and this was more of a grainy type breading. The veggies were the right tenderness, but the batter wasn’t good. They were also served with a sweet and sour type sauce rather than a tempura sauce, which is what I prefer.

We all had a bowl of hot and sour soup ($1.99 for me, $1.25 if you add it to a lunch special). It wasn’t bad. Pretty thick and dark—more of a sesame oil flavor to it than most—and kind of following with the theme of the rest of the food-not  a lot of “hot” in it as far as spiciness goes. It was pretty hearty with lots of the typical hot and sour ingredients—tofu, mushrooms and egg. They also give you a nice plate of crunchy wontons to put in, which I always appreciate.

I ordered from the regular menu and decided to try the chicken Pad Thai because I was just sort of in the mood and our server recommended it. It wasn’t one of the lunch specials but on all of their dishes, they offer small and large sizes. I like that because I often feel over served with Asian food. I got the small ($5.79) and it was still more than I could eat. It was only ok though. It mainly consisted of noodles and not a lot else—I was looking for more of the fresh stuff (bean sprouts and green onions) to give it a bit of that fresh crunch. I had a hard time finding the bean sprouts. I also had to search a bit to find the pieces of chicken. The “sweet and sour tamarind sauce” was pretty darn sweet. There wasn’t the balance of spicy, sweet and sour that I typically like with Pad Thai. (She had asked me how spicy I wanted and I told her medium.) There was a little sprinkling of crushed peanuts on top but that was about the only thing that varied the texture or flavor of the dish.

My friends both had the General Tso’s chicken lunch special. I had a bit and preferred it t mine because it was pretty large hunks of chicken that were not overly fried the way General Tso’s can be and it also wasn’t drenched in sweet sticky sauce the way it can be as well. There were veggies (mostly broccoli and carrots) and rice and a small spring roll.

I always enjoy trying to find a new little jewel around. Sadly, while I appreciated the reasonable prices, the friendly people working there, and the clean and modern interior, I didn’t eat anything that I loved. I would go back and see about trying something else. Anyone else been there?

JS Garden
5425 N. Keystone Ave # 500
Indianapolis, IN 46220

JS Garden on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 11, 2014

Guest Post: Road Trip: Schmidt's Sausage Haus — Columbus, OH

Sacha here! You might remember me from Erin's review of Spice Nation. I am also known as @zigged.

Our 2014 family road trip took us east to visit my dad in New Jersey + enjoy adventures in Ocean City, MD, and New York City. The itinerary I planned included stops at restaurants that are reported to be culinary gems. This time: Schmidt's Sausage Haus.

Generally, when driving to/from the East Coast to visit my family & friends, we don't take meal breaks. We pack sandwiches and fruit and other snacks to nibble on in the car and, other than requisite stops for gas and bathroom breaks, we GO GO GO. On the way there it's because we're excited to start our vacation. On the way back it's because we're anxious to get home. You know what I mean? But this time we squeezed in a Hershey's chocolate factory tour the morning we left and dinner on the road.

I found this place when I looked up best restaurants in Columbus and then narrowed my choices to places near I-70. I put a call out on Twitter and Tracey @BergFulton confirmed it was a good place to go. The Huz loves German cuisine so I figured it would be an easy sell after a long time in the car. It was.

The place was bustling on a Sunday evening. I was told 2535 minutes when I put our name in at 5:40 PM but we were seated within 15 minutes. It's a very old-country restaurant in German Village that has a little candy shop across the street where you can see fresh fudge being made. (The Girls got samples. "It was still warm!") The weather was pleasant and people were milling about, waiting for tables and taking photos.

I got the haus saurbraten und gravy ($13.75). This was marinated lean beef covered in gingersnap gravy served over German spätzle noodles, and a double order of potato pancakes on the side. (I shared one order with The Kid.) It may be a German classic but it was a stretch for me—I don't normally do gravy. The meat was tender, the gravy was savory and gingery, and the spätzle was buttery and chewy, so it all went well together. The potato pancakes were the size of silver dollars, seasoned and cooked perfectly, and served with a chunky, delicious applesauce that I suspect was made in house.

The Huz got a Bahama burger special ($9). This was a thick slice of grilled Bahama Mama patty (hickory-smoked beef & pork sausage with secret seasoning) served on a toasted pretzel bun with Swiss cheese, red onion, tomato, and a pickle + German potato salad on the side. He added some of the grainy mustard that was in a jar on the table. He thought the sandwich and potato salad were wunderbar.

The Kid got a chicken spätzle salad with Parmesan peppercorn dressing on the side ($11.50). This was grilled chicken served on authentic German pasta over mixed lettuce with fresh vegetables. The chicken was grilled well, tender and flavorful. I thought the addition of spätzle on salad was interesting. She enjoyed it.

The Honorary Kid got Alpine chicken spätzle ($12.75). This was a sliced grilled chicken breast served on German spätzle noodles with onions, peppers, and mushrooms, topped with creamy garlic-basil sauce, plus applesauce and redskin smashed potatoes on the side. Again, the chicken was cooked well. The sauce had a good flavor and the spätzle was as good as everyone else's. The amount of veg surprised us all, though, including her, and she declared it too many to eat. There was a ton of peppers, onions, and mushrooms under that sauce! She did enjoy the potatoes and applesauce.

Schmidt's also has a buffet option. We were seated in the pub area and couldn't see it but The Huz noticed patrons walking around with plates of food. He would have had a very hard time controlling his portions were we to choose the buffet, given his preference for this cuisine. Speaking of which, The Girls and I were wide-eyed at the humongous cream puffs in the pastry case.

I can see why this is a popular place. The quality of the food is high. German is not my favorite so I don't know that I'm an excellent judge of flavor. I did like our meal and our experience (including our Welsh waiter) although I can't be sure that it wasn't influenced by the chance to be out of the car for a while.

Schmidt's Sausage Haus
240 East Kossuth Street
Columbus, OH, 43206

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Dig In Ticket Giveaway!

Hey Everyone!

I know I've been a bit absent lately (look for a new post from me next week) but I am happy to be a gastronaut again this year at Dig IN (it's on August 17th)! I have been given a couple of general admission tickets to give away again this year. I've included the 2014 food and restaurant line up below--leave me a comment telling me what you can't wait to try and you'll be entered in a random drawing for the tickets! I will announce the winner Friday afternoon around 4:00.*

If you don't win, or would like to buy early admission tickets (to get in at 11:00 instead of 12:00), they are available here.

And if you're interested in reading more about Dig IN, check out my posts from years past.


Valley Kitchen and Bar
Sweet and Spicy Chicken Tacos
Trader’s Point Creamery
Candied Pork Belly with Indiana melon and fresh cheese curd
Wyndham West
Hibiscus Shrub
Omni Severin
Crispy Pork Taco with pickled jalepeno, napa cabbage slaw and queso fresco.
Terrine of Rabbit with apples and hazelnut
Indigo Duck
Turkey Trio
Bee Coffee Roasters
Cherry Coffee Zing
Indiana Heirloom Tomato Panzanella Salad
Chicken poached in smoked shrimp broth
Circle City Sweets
Indiana Fruit Streusel Tart with wildflower ridge honey
Circle City Soups
Beer Can Chicken Nacho
J Ford’s Black Angus
Yankee Style Pot Roast
Artisan Foodworks
Duck Duck Goat! (Cheese)
Meridian Restaurant
Lamb belly sausage, caramelized onions and spicy cherry mostarda
Fermenti Artisan
Cheese and Pickle plate
Lamb in an Afghan
Shrimp Ceviche
Union 50
Kimichi Meatloaf
Duck Confit Short Rib
Joseph Decuis
Wagyu Beef Brisket Empanadas with pine nuts, raisins and hot pepper
One World Catering
Puerco Pibil with poblano polenta and patron pickles
Oakley’s Bistro
Duck “Meatball” with corn crust and  pickled blueberry freezer jam
800 Degrees
Wood Fired Sausage Pizza
18 on the Square
Southern Indiana smoked summer succotash
The Local Eatery
Brad Gates Catering
Salad with Smoking Goose bacon and goat cheese
Barn Brasserie
Pork Shoulder
Second Helpings
Roasted chicken with greens
Goose the Market
Elk in a Blanket
Goat Birria Tacos
Northside Kitchen
Caja China Roasted Pork
Shoefly Public House
Smoked trout on greens
Just Rennies
Gourmet cookies
Natural Born Juicers
Zen and Cherries
Spice Box
Lam Bam!
Pork loin, Yucca-mushroom hash, blackberry mole and pickled blackberries
Honey, lavender and rosemary shortbread
Nicey Treat
Raspberry frozen pop
Citizen Hash
Smoking Goose chorizo and Citizen’s Garden cachapa
Caveman Truck
Smoking Goose bacon hash
Libertine (VIP)
PLT – Pork, lettuce, tomato
R Bistro (VIP)
Thai-style marinated duck with an herb salad
Recess (VIP)
Beef Shank Tacos
Bluebeard (VIP)
Pork belly rillettes with smoked sweet corn jam, pickled peppers, cumin-scented ricotta and francese.

*If I don't get a response from the winner within 24 hours, I will pick a new winner.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Guest Post: Road Trip: Gralehaus--Louisville, KY

by: wibia

In my opinion, Sunday brunch is one of the best meals of the week. It is your hall pass to eat whatever kind of food that you want.  Prime Rib at 11:00, no problem.   A drink, why not?! 
I looked at this list for places to go and it seemed generally creditable.  Off the list, I choose Gralehaus.   This place is tiny.  It is in a restored house that has a few tables out front, and a garden with tables in the back.   There was a line inside to order at the counter and then you get a number and they bring it to you.   Total hipster hangout and it was packed.  We ordered a maple latte on ice ($5) and a ginger basil lemonade ($3)   I enjoyed the maple latte, but would’ve liked a little more maple.  The Ginger basil lemonade was a bit of a letdown and I prefer the one at Scratch Truck. 

For breakfast, I tried the biscuit with duck gravy ($9) and the lamb sausage & grits ($9).   We sat at a counter that is overlooking the kitchen.  I could literally reach out and make my breakfast we were that close.  I am not sure why, but I love watching crepes being made.  Mostly because I think that I can do it with my eyes closed, but imagine that it takes a little bit of practice. 

We waited and waited and waited….  I usually never complain about brunch because I have nothing else to do, but good grief.  Our meal arrived and as you can see, it looks good.  Mine was served luke-warm and I am not sure if this was the intent.  I could see the kitchen, so I know that it wasn’t sitting.  Knowing that we didn’t have table service and it took so long, I didn’t send it back, but in retrospect, I should’ve.  I enjoyed the taste quite a bit, but missed the maple syrup and duck cracklin' that I thought made this look interesting.  The duck in the gravy was softer than what we would typically find in a pork sausage that was fried a little harder.  Maybe my palate is going to the dogs, but I highly doubt that.  To continue complaining, note on the pic where there is a biscuit, not biscuits and duck gravy.  I know that my appetite is more than the average bear, so I am not sure if you should trust me on this.  Another half of a biscuit could go a long way here, just saying. 

My wife’s lamb sausage and grits was the winner of the two.  The lamb was formed into a patty (crepinette) and tasted different than any other breakfast sausage that I have had.  I really liked the spice that came from the ras el hanout and I can’t say that I have ever had this mixture before.  I thought that I tasted some sage in the lamb, but I might be wrong. Either way, flavorful as all get out and a great dish.  

With all of my complaints, I liked the Gralehaus.  I am not sure if I like it for Sunday brunch since it was insanely busy and is usually want something pretty quickly to cure whatever I did to myself on Saturday night.  If you want to get back at it, they had a wild beer selection where I didn’t even know 70% of the beers in the case.  We need more places like this in Indy.  A small menu, superior quality and something different.  With 14 other places that look good on that list, Gralehaus is not on my “must go back to” list in Louisville, but it was a fun experience.

1001 Baxter Ave
Louisville, KY 40204