Big Beaver Tavern, get off at exit 69!

My beautiful hottie aka Jen and I were in the mood for bar food in a casual relaxed atmosphere. We found such a place, Big Beaver Tavern.  Its a place where anyone can feel welcome, families, couples, older folks as well as guys who want to watch the big game on any of there multiple televisions.  The menu has classic bar fare as well as a few upscale specials such as Mahi Mahi.  Our goal was that American classic burger, brews and some type of fries.

Our server came over very quickly and presented us with menus as well as a beer list.  You have to like any place where the first beer on tap mentioned is Atwater Vanilla Java Porter.  That’s all we needed to see, because that happens to be one of our favorites, so we ordered two.  The server was very knowledgeable, because when Jen asked  if the fries were battered, she replied yes they are. We said we’re glad you told us because we don’t like battered fries.   Finally, someone who understood what those are! I told her I would have the 4 alarm burger with onion rings and she replied,”You do know are onion rings are battered don’t you”? Love the sass, made me chuckle.   Jen ordered potato skins and a patty melt.

The skins came out first. Nothing fancy just potato, cheese and bacon with sour cream. Jens patty melt was big and looked like it was cooked to order. I tried it and I thought it was good.  Now my burger and onion rings came out with Jens entree.  The onion rings were good and crispy.  Now my 4 alarm burger, had pepper jack cheese, habanero sauce and sliced jalapenos. Sounds hot, but I wanted hotter.  I made Jen try it and she said it was too hot for her, but either way, it was a good burger.

In conclusion, Big Beaver Tavern isn’t a fancy eatery nor is it a corner dive.  It is exactly what it’s trying to be, a nice causal place for a simple meal and a good beer.  I don’t think you will be blown away by the food, but you certainly will not leave there disappointed either.  Jen and I will be back.

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Ruths Chris, a birthday wish

My beautiful Jen took me out last nite for a birthday dinner to Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Now I have never been there but always heard good things about it.  Jen made reservations for 7:15.  We arrived at 7:05 and were promptly seated.  The server, came over quickly and took our drink order. Jen ordered a Mojito and I ordered a chilled Martini with 3 anchovy stuffed olives.  When the drinks came they were exactly the way we liked them. My martini was strong yet smooth and the anchovy olives were chock full of salty goodness.  Now even though I do not like Mojitos, I tried Jens drink.  The mint was super fresh you could smell it from across the table, as if someone just picked it from a garden.

When it comes to ordering at an upscale steak house, one has to be careful because everything is usually a la carte. However, they had special three course dinner where you can order a starter, an entree, a side and dessert.  So we both ordered this. Jen and I both ordered Caesar salads to start with. Jen ordered a filet and mashed potatoes and I ordered a ribeye  with creamed spinach. The dessert that came with the meal was strawberry shortcake. But because it was my birthday, I would be allowed to upgrade my dessert free of charge.

The salad was quite large and very good indeed. The dressing was just a wee bit tangier than I like, but Jen thought it was perfect.  When the steaks came, the server, Christine said that the plates would be hot because the steaks are cooked at a temperature of 1800 degrees. 1800 degrees I said, that’s almost as hot as her as I pointed to Jen. The sides were plentiful enough to share. The potatoes were smooth and creamy with the right amount of garlic.  The creamed spinach was good but I felt could’ve used a little more salt. Jen disagreed with me, she thought they were perfect. The steaks were cooked exactly like we wanted with exceptional flavor and tenderness.

Surprisingly, Jen and I were both full and still had dessert coming. As I mentioned before, Jens meal came with strawberry shortcake but I upgraded mine to the chocolate duo.  This consisted of a chocolate lava cake and small side of chocolate mousse. As I confirmed my dessert order with Christine, I told her to make sure the chef makes my dessert as sweet as Jen.

My dessert was fabulous, so rich and decadent, just oozing chocolaty goodness.  And the presentation was equally whimsical,with happy birthday written on the plate with chocolate syrup.  To sum up, Ruth’s Chris may be pricey, as any fine dining establishment is but definitely well worth it.

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Green Lantern is indeed a super hero

Last night, to celebrate my Dad’s return back home after a lengthy stay in a rehabilitation unit (long story) we decided to take him to Green Lantern, as it is his favorite pizza joint (as it is most of ours).  I don’t really feel a blog is necessary, as everyone I know already knows and loves Green Lantern, as it is a local Madison Heights hangout, but as there may just be one person out there who hasn’t been there, this blog is for you.

Green Lantern, has clearly one of the best pizzas I have ever had. The crust is crispy and doughy, and the sauce is like none I have ever had.  The cheese and toppings are fresh and plentiful.  The pepperoni, are those special crispy round delights, that curl and allow pools of artery clogging grease to form.

Last night, we inadvertently ordered the deep dish, now mind you, I hate to veer from the norm as it is so good (which is just the regular round with pepperoni). The deep dish (I am told, I didn’t eat it) was delicious, and super filling.  My Dad managed to out-eat my brother and Omar!! I didn’t eat it because they ordered mushrooms on it, which I find appalling.

I however, ordered a personal sized BLT pizza.  Yes, this pizza had lettuce and mayonnaise on it, and bacon and tomatoes.  I think Green Lantern was one of the first to serve this pizza (at least the first I heard of it and that is the story I am sticking with). Sounds weird I know, but it is really delicious. Like an open faced sandwich on really good flat bread.

The new candied bacon they added to the menu comes out crispy, both sweet and spicy with a combination of brown sugar and cayenne. I know everyone lately has been on a bacon craze so we had to try it.  I didn’t think it would be as good as it was but it really is a must order.

Their antipasto salad is decent. Nothing super notable. It has fresh ingredients and comes with some simple but yummy garlic bread.  They put a hard-boiled egg on it, which is different and I like that addition, but yesterday sadly, my salad was lacking the egg. The mound of shaved onions on top is a bit much, but easy to remove.

Although I didn’t order one yesterday, which by the way is really unusual for me, I must take a sec to discuss their Italian sub.  The sub is Italian lunch meat on a great Grecian roll. They thing that knocks this simple sandwich out of the park is the amazing coleslaw.  It is vinegar based and adds a bite, both with a crunch and with acid to the sandwich. It is really good.

Lastly, I must add that Green Lantern has expanded their beer selection to include craft beers, which is great. Omar’s and my favorite? Mill Street Vanilla Porter.  Comes ice cold, with a frosted glass.  The beer is rich, robust with a thick, creamy head (out of context that sounds bad – LOL). Leaves that trail of painted off-white lace on the sides of the glass as you drink the beer down.  It is, as its name implies, vanilla-y and malty, with overtones of caramel and hint of chocolate. This beer is definitely creamier that other porters I have had and Yummy!!

To wrap this up, Green Lantern is good food, simply done.  The way food is supposed to be.

 

 

I dabbled in the occult and lost

No not really. I purchased what I thought was a Mexican beer called Oculto. Oculto is Spanish for hidden and each bottle had a hidden message and a cool looking skull on it.  And that my friends is where the fun ends.  The messages on the bottles are dumb and the pseudo tequila infusion is slight at best.  Now I like beer and I like Tequila and maybe this Mexican micro beer made with Blue Agave would be good.  Nope guess again.  The beer has an almost chemical taste to me and isn’t a Mexican beer at all, it’s made by Anhueser-Busch!  I feel like a dumb ass cuz I let myself be duped by cool packaging and an interesting name.  For all you craft beer lovers stay away, far away, from this debacle.  Or you can be like me and try one beer, then pour the rest down the drain.

More valleys than hills

I decided to try something different for dinner tonite. My beautiful hottie (Jen) and I went to Tre Monti in Troy.  Now I scoped it out on line and they had a cocktail hour from 5-7 Tuesday -Friday.  Now most places that tout some type of happy hour, have a  limited number of items and drinks on special. This place was no different. When Jen and I arrived, at 5 pm, it was clear that they just opened. The staff seemed confused as to where to seat us. I said, we are here for happy hour can we sit on the patio and we were told no because there was a wine tasting party later. So, we sat at the bar instead. Then just as someone handed us a menu, they said that we could sit outside after all. So we got up and were escorted to the patio.

Now, the patio was very spacious and resembled a courtyard with lots of flora including an abundance of Hydrangeas. We were the only ones out there. The waiter, David came over quickly and took our order. Jen and I wanted to stick with the cheaper happy hour menu. Jen asked for a Mojito but David said that they don’t make those. So she then switched to a Dewars and ginger ale. I asked for a chilled gin martini with 3 anchovy stuffed olives. Now, when the drinks came, we couldn’t wait to sample cuz as y’all know it was hot today. Jens cocktail tasted odd and looked watered down. My martini was equally disappointing. It bordered on a being a flavorless mixture of average hooch just thrown together. Certainly not the punch of the Bombay Sapphire Gin that was touted to be in it.

Now came our entrees/apps. We split a small Caesar salad that was served in a Parmesan bowl. I believe all you Italians call this Fricco. Its kind of a cheesy cracker. Now that was damn good, while the salad was tasty but not worth the 15 dollars.  Jen ordered  a meat ravioli in a Bolonese sauce,while I ordered the prime burger. Now I asked the server David, how big was the burger and he said 10 ounces. Of course I knew that a burger for 9 dollars on a happy hour menu wasnt going to be 10 oz. And when it came I was right, more like 4 oz. This prime burger came topped with spinach, pancetta and Gorgonzola all on a toasted bun. Sounds interesting right? It actually was a cacophony of dissonant flavors that didn’t work at all. The cheese over powered everything, couldn’t taste the meat much, and as we all know, the star of any burger should be the beef patty.

Jens ravioli was just okay. Now I am not Italian, but no way in hell Nona would let that leave her cucina. Less than enamored with our first cocktails we decided to switch to beer. So we ordered two Peronis, a good Italian pale lager. David took our order and then came back saying that they didn’t have any, even though he suggested it. We asked about any draft beers and he said they don’t serve any. He then suggested  a different Italian beer, Menabrea. This beer is similar to Peroni, beautiful Jen and I both agreed it was good.

In summary, the ambiance was wonderful,the beer was good and the service was excellent. The food was mediocre and even though we ordered off the limited happy hour menu, it doesn’t mean the taste has to be limited as well. I have been to plenty of places that have upscale happy hours and basically, they serve their same food just smaller portions at reduced prices. We probably wont be returning anytime soon, unless we feel compelled to drink beer and look at a nice garden. But I guess we can do that in our own backyard. Buona sera paisanos!

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I have tuned in to Penn Station!!

Penn Station Subs – where have you been all my life? I failed to pack a lunch today so ventured out to one of the local fast food establishments for lunch.  Typically, I would not feel compelled to blog about a fast food experience, c’mon, we all know they are just mediocre.  Or just bad. But the sub I got today was amazing. Really.  I ordered the steak and cheese, with melty ooey gooey provolone cheese, grilled onions and banana peppers.  The sub bun, more like home cooked French bread, was crispy on the outside and chewy inside, and still warm, just how bread was born to be.  The steak was tender, not gristly (which is one of my key indicators of a good cheesesteak sandwich) and the rest of the toppings all melted together in 8 inches of pure heaven. (Yes, I will do you ALL a favor and NOT add an Omar comment here!!)

Let’s talk about the French fries.  I am a French fry snob as some of you know.  I feel fries are only worth eating in one of three ways, fat, tender, crispy steak fries, skinny, salty shoestrings, or, and this is exactly how Penn Station’s fries were prepared, natural cut, a bit brown, and drizzled with malt vinegar.  In my opinion, any restaurant that has malt vinegar out next to the ketchup is doing it right. Five Guys Burgers is one who does it right with the fries.  Granite City used to have the world’s best skinny fries. Salty and served up in a small metal cup.  Our last venture there, we discovered the fries had changed, hopefully temporarily or I will cry.  The waiter at Granite City had no idea the fries had changed, nor do I think, he really cared.

Which brings me to my Frirade as I will call it.  That is a fry tirade.  I abhor the latest craze “crispy fries” or “battered fries”.  They are frankly an abomination and I simply cannot waste the calorie intake on them. When I go to a dining establishment, and deciding between a sandwich or salad, it is the fries that will determine which way I order. Unfortunately, most wait staff have NO idea what I am referring to when I ask “do you have those battered fries?” Most say, “No, we have AWESOME fries” and proceed to bring me the most NOT awesome battered fries, which really makes my belly sad.

I could go on and on with my Frirade all day.  Come on people, cut up a potato and drop it au naturel in some delicious boiling fat and throw some salty goodness on them.  That is the way they were intended to be prepared.

So, Penn Station, your subs rule, you do your fries right, and I think I love you.

Cake, Cookies? Oops, I mean Brownies on the Lake

Omar and I spent a much deserved day together on Saturday.  We decided to return to Brownies on the Lake.  Our last visit there, we just enjoyed a few cocktails and listened to the band on the Tiki Bar.  This time, we decided to try the food too, since everything coming out of the kitchen looked so good!

We arrived about 3:30, and were surprised to get a prime table again, just along the waters edge.  It was HOT though, although I hate to complain since the weather has been so questionable lately.  I started things off with a frozen rum runner.  Tasty, but sweet.  Too sweet to drink all day, but the cold frozen drink was so refreshing on this 90+ day.  Omar just stuck with a classic micro-brewed draft beer (Porters/Stouts limited here, but with seafood and hot day didn’t really matter).

We decided to split a couple appetizers, and split the fish taco entree, as everything sounded so good. I ordered peel and eat shrimp.  You can see from the picture they were large shrimp and plenty of them!  Seasoned perfectly, cooked in what they described as cooked in an “aromatic court-bullion” which is typically a rich and complex poaching liquid, with cilantro and lemon.  Very tasty!!

Omar got Ceviche.  I am not a fan, so I did not even try it. I did eat the tortilla chips, which were obviously hand made, came out warm, crispy with just the right amount of salt.  Omar said the Ceviche was refreshing, fresh with just the right balance of fruit and heat.

As for the fish taco entree, I am afraid I can’t discuss the rice, since I was simply too full to try it. The tacos however, although they were skimping a bit on the mahi mahi, had great flavor with a chipotle cole slaw, guacamole and a flavorful mango chili sauce. A nice combination of sweet and savory.

The band was pretty good.  A bit loud for the Tiki Bar area, as we had to yell to talk when the band was playing.  We met a lot of interesting characters along the way.  Our waitress Ashley (or was it Amanda, geeze I am horrible with names!!) was efficient, fun and very cheery. Even when it was sweltering!!  We must have stayed for about 4 or 5 hours.  We just couldn’t get enough of the view and atmosphere.  It is so nice watching the boats come in! I must say we ran up quite a tab, but we did have a great time.  Good food, good music and fun crowd.  Yes, we will most definitely be back!!

 

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Not so bad, just ok.

I had lunch with my niece and bro in law this afternoon. They were in the area so they wanted to eat at a local bbq joint that they enjoy. I have eaten here (Bad Brads) a few times as well. I will not claim to be a bbq expert, but I have learned a lot more since my beautiful Jen bought me a smoker. I have learned and continue to learn about the subtle nuances about cooking times and what gives the best flavor yet doesn’t overcook or dry out the meats.

My niece, being ten years old, ordered chicken tenders and mac ‘n cheese. My brother in law ordered a burger and homemade chips. Now I did not try his burger but it certainly looked cooked the way he ordered. But I did try the mac ‘n cheese and it tasted good. Homemade, creamy and some type of Panko like bread crumbs on top. I ordered 3 minis, which are like sliders. One pulled pork, one beef brisket and one smoked turkey. Each one was served on a mini brioche bun.

The turkey one tasted the best, with the  right amount of smoke for me. The brisket and pulled pork had a lot more smoky flavor but couldve in my opinion used more seasoning. Now I like smoke flavor, however, it is mostly a vehicle to cook the food. It should not be a substitute for a killer rub that enhances the low and slow method of cooking.

In conclusion, Bad Brads isn’t bad ass nor is it lousy. Its just ok. But hey just my opinion and maybe I’m jaded, because I think some of the best BBQ I’ve ever tasted is at the Union Woodshop in Clarkston, or at my house or at Michael Kidd’s.

I never take anything for Granite

So, my gorgeous hot Jen and I went to Granite city last nite. We decided to split some appetizers and each order a flight of beers. When our beers came, the waiter seemed confused as to which sample was what and then told us that they had to substitute one for another but couldn’t describe what it was. Now the beer samples were flavorful and definitely not watered down like I have experienced at some other breweries. However, it wasn’t very cold. I like my beer cold, not somewhat cold.

Our food came rather quickly which was nice cuz we were hungry. We ordered prosciutto olive flat bread, vodka steamed mussels and Idaho nachos. The flat bread as always was crisp and salty just the way it should be. The mussels were great as always cooked in a spicy vodka infused sauce. Now, Jen didn’t try them because she doesn’t like mussels, well except mine of course. LOL.

The Idaho nachos we have had before and always liked them. Just picture if you will a pile of waffle cut fries with melted cheese, sour cream, scallions and bacon bits. It’s like a loaded baked potato that you could get in a Mexican restaurant. It was tasty but the toppings were sparse. And when the manager came by and asked us what we thought of our meal we told her. She was very friendly and seemed amenable to our suggestions,especially to have the beer colder. Overall, Jen and I had a relaxing meal and for beer snobs like us we recommend that you try Granite city.

See Food Anyone?

My sister has been in town visiting, and she, my brother and I stepped out for a (what we thought) would be a quick dinner. We went to a seafood restaurant near Somerset Mall, let’s call it SchMormicks and Micks. The place was pretty empty for a Saturday night. We arrived at I think about 6:30 so I expected a full house with a wait. We requested a more private booth off to the side, as we were discussing some pressing issues, and were told that they were “all reserved” and we were unable to be seated there. She put us in a booth right near the hostess stand. I guess we looked like trouble!!

It seemed forever until our waitress even came. After we ordered our drinks, we proceeded to wait probably another 15-20 minutes for them just to arrive. My Mojito (yes another Mojito, it is summer after all) was very good, made with both dark and light rum.

The waitress at that point was kind of all over the place. Didn’t know the menu, did not know what different types of oysters were, or what sides came with what meals. When asked, she merely pointed out entries on the menu and read them to us verbatim. Thanks, I really do know how to read.

My sister ordered Surf and Turf (with Beef Medallions), my brother stuffed flounder, and I got the filet Oscar style. We were told these dishes came with no starches, so we ordered lobster mashed potatoes on the side.

My sisters meal came with red skinned potatoes after all, turns out we didn’t need the lobster mash, but it was interesting and really good. The food was ok. I am not going to rave about it, but not going to gush over it either. My sister’s Medallions and lobster were good, red skins really delicious. My brother’s stuffed flounder although good, was a bit small for a man sized appetite. My filet was seasoned well, but a wee bit overcooked.

The meal with drinks was crazy expensive. The experience would have been much better with a more personable, knowledgeable waitress. Ours was just a bit odd. (When my sister ordered a second Cosmo the waitress just said “yeah, good for you!!” We didn’t know if that meant she was going to bring one or not!!

Overall experience: Very expensive, but didn’t have that pampered meal feel. We had an upscale meal with a waitress best suited for a diner. Limited beer selection, limited side dish selection. Fish and oysters fresh.

Oh, and when we left the restaurant was just as empty as when we arrived, which really made me mad since we couldn’t sit in the special “reserved” seats!!