McCormick and Schmick’s Revisited

One of my first posts in 2015 was about McCormick and Schmick’s in Troy. I wasn’t too enamored with the place, and for the price did not feel like I had a worthy experience. You can read the previous review HERE. I recently have been going to McCormick and Schmick’s for a recurring business development group meeting. Although I am abstaining from eating during the meetings, the food ordered by others looked really good and the happy hour prices can’t be beat. The great appeal is that the happy hour menu is available all week – even on the weekends from 4-6:30. Saturday night we found ourselves looking for somewhere different to go, so we headed up to M&S. The happy hour menu is available anywhere in the bar area, and it is first come first serve. There are high top tables, low table or cozy booths for your dining pleasure. Happy hour is pretty busy. On a Saturday at like 5 p.m., the place was already jumping. We were lucky to grab a couple seats at the bar.

There were two bartenders that night, Ariana and Andrew. Although both took good care of us, Ariana had the better personality of the two. Andrew was a bit stoic for a bartender, and too serious for my taste. A very “get down to business” sort of guy. Now the happy hour menu is not super extensive as most happy hour menus are, but they had a large offering of drinks, which is unusual for happy hour.

I started the evening (and ended it too) with my new favorite drink. Tito’s and soda, with a splash of cranberry and a slice of lime. Omar stuck with his traditional Tanqueray martini, up, with three anchovy stuffed (gag) olives.

The food ranges from $3 snacks, like hummus or bruschetta, to $9 “bites” like shrimp cocktail. They have weekly specials like Tuesday’s Titos and Tacos (yumm!) Wednesday has $1 shrimp & suck with $1 oysters and shrimp and Thursday’s boast Oyster Rockefeller day just $2.50 each.

I think the best deals on the menu are the $5 fish tacos, or the $5 burger and fries. We ordered what seemed like a gluttonous amount of food. I ordered shrimp cocktail with the fish tacos, grilled, not fried. The “jumbo” shrimp cocktail was far from jumbo, more like “average” shrimp cocktail, but shrimp was fresh, and cocktail sauce full of horseradishy goodness. The fish tacos however, were spectacular. Fresh grilled fish (of unknown origin, most likely a whitefish or flounder) with a spicy jicama slaw, roasted corn salsa and a cilantro ranch sauce. The combination of flavors just explodes in your mouth.

Omar ordered the Spice Seared Ahi Tuna and a plate full of oysters. I am not a fan of raw, or even slightly seared fish, nor am I a fan of oysters. The Ahi Tuna had great flavors, with picked lip stick peppers adorning the plate and a yuzu aioli. (Yuzu is a Korean type of citrus fruit) but I simply just can’t get over the texture. Omar said the oysters were amazing. So much so, he ordered extra oysters and more Tuna! What began as a cheap happy hour jaunt turned into quite an expensive date, with the multiple drinks and food.

We did not order the burger and fries but sure wanted to. The burger was massive, looked juicy and the fries looked like my perfect fry. Not batter fried, skin on, and cooked perfectly. You can even order with drizzled truffle oil and Parmesan. I know the burgers looked good because everyone around us ordered one.

Long story short. the bar is a totally different atmosphere than the main restaurant. Relaxed, laid back, great prices, great food. Throw in some fun bartenders like our buddy Colin who is now at Eddie Vs and you have the makings of a perfect hangout. I know I suggested in 2015 that you stay away from this place, but I have changed my mind – just sit in the bar from 4:00-6:30!

Spent a Night at Tina’s Country House

Omar and I joined our friends Erich and Pam for dinner at The Tavern at Tina’s Country House. The Tavern is located at the corner of North Ave. and 23 Mile Rd. A bit of a hike for us, but we were excited to try somewhere new.
Upon first glance, the Tavern is unassuming and has the appearance of every other dive bar. Located on the same site as Tina’s County House and Gardens, a reception venue for weddings and other special occasions, the Tavern looks quite underwhelming in comparison to its sister venue. I had my expectations low more and expected fairly pedestrian bar food.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the Tavern was rather nice inside and the packed house was a sign that the food must be good. Things were looking up! We had made reservations, luckily, and avoided the long line to get a table. We were sat right by where the band was to set up later, and we had great seats.
The menu was far more extensive and upscale than I imagined. Food ranging from pizza, flatbreads, panini’s, burgers, pasta and salads.

Our first waitress was friendly, but she left for the night so we got a second waitress to take our table over. She was sassy and really funny. We had a lot of fun with her waiting on us. Super nice, and you could tell just happy to be there. So refreshing.

We started our night with some drinks. Omar and I chose the Milk Shake Stout. It was so cold, so good and just hit the spot. I know we have reviewed Milk Shake Stout before, but in case you want the specifics again: brewed by Rochester Mills, it is brewed with a proprietary blend of 7 malts, has a very low hop level creating a deep dark beer featuring rich, sweet roasted flavors of coffee, chocolate, caramel and vanilla. 5.0% apv.

Erich got a Moscow Mule and asked that I let you all know that the drinks were really good. They were not shy with the Tito’s!

I had a second *gasp* cheat day this week, and I justified as Friday I had a cheat meal rather than a cheat DAY, and I did have a good workout, so I opted for the Tavern Nachos. I had just been craving nachos and they sounded so good! I must say, they were delicious! Made with a a homemade queso, which I typically do not like, it was cheesy and flavorful. The guacamole was spot on, rich, creamy, with tomatoes and cilantro. The jalapenos offered just the right amount of heat, and the chicken was still moist and tasty. As usual, I was only able to tackle about half of the, but they were quite satisfying.

Omar, being good and trying to stay healthier, opted for the antipasto salad. The salad was fresh, with ample meats and cheeses. Served with a nice french roll. Pam ordered the Cobb Salad, and also was fresh, with fresh avocado, crispy bacon and plenty of toppings.

Erich ordered the whitefish reuben, which he was a bit disappointed it was served fried. He assumed grilled, but we didn’t clarify and that was totally on us. The sandwich was grilled on nice french bread, and served with obvious homemade potato chips. Crispy and salty with the right amount of “overdoneness”.

We hung out talking and catching up, waiting for the 2 piece band to start. I was glad the band was acoustic, which would allow us to continue our conversation. The band, Aspersions, was a two-piece band, drums and acoustic guitar, playing classic tunes from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. They were really good and were dynamo’s, playing song after song, without even a small break in between. Classic songs including the Beatles, The Monkees, some Motown, Chicago, Guess, Who and the Lovin’ Spoonful. A huge repertoire of tunes. A really nice surprise. Although we only caught the first set, it was a great show.

While we watched the band, the boys ordered their “desert” second dinner. Wanting a “snack” while watching the band, they ordered the Tuscan Flatbread, while was just piled high with chicken, artichoke, spinach, tomato, mushroom and feta. Besides the mushrooms, it looked fantastic, but after my nacho endeavor there was no way I could even try a bite. The rest of the table said the flatbread was amazing, and I had to agree it sure looked like it. This place does NOT skimp on ingredients, that’s for sure.

This place was a true hidden gem. Great food, great staff, great music. We will definitely go again, even if it is a bit of a hike. Our only regret is that it is not closer! They even have trivia on Monday nights! Take a trip out to the Tavern at Tina’s Country House. Check out their website and see if the Aspersions are playing – you will be guaranteed a great night.