Roll out the barrel? More like roll US out of the barrel!

I was at my physical therapist (seeing because I hurt my back golfing!!) who by the way is awesome so far. TOP Physical Therapy – Total Orthopedic Performance – Ross Walker. They are at 15 & Ryan. Everyone is really nice and it seems to be helping. Getting old sucks. Anywho, I was there and we were chatting about the blog and they recommended we try Tap and Barrel at 23 & Old Van Dyke. I was told the food was surprisingly good and the beer selection ample.

Good beer and food? We will be the judge of that! On a Friday night when we were deciding where to go for dinner, whether we go somewhere familiar or somewhere new, we decided we wanted something new for fodder for the blog, so this seemed like the perfect place.

It is an easy drive from our house, and the restaurant looked new when we arrived. In fact, Brown Iron Brewhouse is down the street and when we went there, I do not remember this place so it must be fairly new. (Read the Brown Iron review HERE). The place inside did not disappoint. Clean, new, great ambiance and a great patio. It was a blazing 90 degrees that day and we had been in the pool all day so opted for some nice air conditioning.

The beer menu was indeed ample. They had a few porters that looked interesting, but heavy and too high apv for my tastes today. I always want to order an IPA but I am just not a fan. They always have the coolest names! They had an APA, Green Zebra which sounded fun and I so much wanted to try the Juice Bigalow Hop Gigalo, but no, I opted for a simple Alaskan Amber. Why can’t porters and ales have fun names too? Like Alaskan Moose Juice Amber? I digress. The Alaskan Amber is a nice light beer, but puncher than a standard ale. It is darker, rich and malty with just a hint of hop. APV is 5.3%. It is a well balanced easy sipping beer for summer.

My oh so handsome Omar jumped right into the Porters. Starting with Heavy Seas: Black Beards Breakfast, a whopping 10% apv, this porter is aged in bourbon barrels and brewed with Chesapeake Bay Dark Sumatra Coffee. Dark and strong. He had a second beer, a Ballast Point Victory at Sea. Bold with a hint of sweetness, this beer combined vanilla and coffee with caramel undertones. another 10% APV.

To eat, we felt it necessary to over order so we could give a good solid review. You are welcome. Omar ordered wings, with half honey-habanero and half their “famous” Faygo root beer maple. The wingers were large, cooked well, and good flavor. The honey-habanero had a sneaky kick that lingered. The Faygo root beer maple was good, not great. A bit sweet and hard to pull out the root beer or the maple flavors.

Per our waitress Kayla’s suggestion, I ordered the Reuban sandwich, fries and a side of French Onion Soup (yes I was sharing with Omar). The soup was interesting. Topped with what appeared to be stuffing mix, topped with cheese, fried onions and scallions. I thought it would not work, but you know, it did! The soup was boiling hot, steaming with onions, a good beefy broth and those weird toppings on top really paired well.

We split the sandwich, which was made with Wigley’s Corned Beef and you could really tell. The rye bread was crispy, it just needed a bit more thousand Island. The fries however, were a disappointment. They were the batter fried fries that as you all know I hate. They were called “house fries” but very average. I wish we opted for the “homemade onion rings”.

A near perfect experience, except for the fries, but I was too stuffed to eat them anyway. A great night out and a great suggestion! I was told to go back and try the chicken and waffles, and we probably will!

This Restaurant Almost Turned Me Into a River Crab!

While dining at Morton’s and the manager Matt talked us into purchasing the Landry’s Card (you can read all about HERE) he suggested one of the places we should try is the River Crab in Saint Clair. We were deciding what to do the next night and dining outside on the water sounded like a perfect idea. He raved about the food and said he and his wife frequent quite often. He even said “register your card now and use your welcome $25 off there tomorrow.” Well folks if you are going to do this, you have to register your card a full 24 hours in advance until the email goes out and your account is updated. We had to go the next night sans coupon!

The restaurant is quite far. A good almost hour drive up I-94. It is located on the Saint Clair River with great views of Canada and the occasional freighter. It was an unusually hot day for Michigan, in the high 90’s and lots of humidity. We were a bit disappointed to find out they closed the outdoor dining because it was too hot for the staff. They did however, find us a seat near a large picture window looking over the river. There was a table right next to the window, which we requested but they said they were bringing another group of 4 right down to sit there. We were disappointed to not only see no one being sat for a long time, but then a couple finally sat there. It was odd that we were told no. That was our first inkling that things were a bit off.

I ordered a blood orange bullet sour, their own version. I had some hopes it would be similar to a whiskey sour, I dared not hope it would be close to the one at Eddie Vs. The drink was odd, It was very cirtusy as I probably should have expected, less sour than it should be but then what was that odd taste making my drink taste like Christmas? It was an odd addition of cinnamon in a drink it clearly didn’t belong.

Omar ordered a “New Fashioned” which was their take on a Old Fashioned. Omar said it was pretty good. A far better drink than my weird Christmas Sour. My second drink I ordered just a whiskey sour and asked them to not add any spices. It was better, but still lacking that world class cocktail taste we have grown so accustomed to at Eddie V’s. We really are getting spoiled.

For dinner, Omar ordered an “East Meets West” appetizer consisting of Seared Ahi Tuna and a Tuna Tartare, with a crispy slaw and wasabi cream. The appetizer was delicious and fresh. The flavors worked well together and it was just the right proportion. The bread is fantastic. Warm poppy rolls and flat multi grain crackers. They bring you butter and a really yummy salmon pate for dipping. Frankly I could have just ate bread all night. Omar also got the New England Clam Chowder. He actually ordered Manhattan, but they brought the wrong soup out and he just ate it anyway. The soup was flavorful and ample amount of clams. Besides my weird drinks, the night was going pretty well but that when the main course happened (insert ominous music here)…

Omar ordered Surf and Turf, A 6oz filet, lobster tail; maître d’ butter, smashed redskin potatoes, asparagus. His filet was over cooked. He asked for rare –  even mooing and it came medium rare. The way I like it! The lobster was overcooked, but had good flavor. The potatoes were ok, nothing special at all. Needed more punch of something, maybe fresh chives? The asparagus was way overcooked. Limp and tasteless.

I ordered a filet Oscar Style (with a Bernaise sauce and lump crab) along with the smashed potatoes, mixed veggies and a Ceasar salad. The salad was ok, ample in size but lacking that punch I like in a cesar and no hint whatsoever of anchovy. It was fairly bland, but fresh. My filet was also very overcooked. More like a medium well. Way too done for my liking. The bernaise sauce was not good at all. It had a very odd flavor. The crab was clearly canned crab, not very flavorful. The bernaise was not good. Perhaps too much tarragon? It was a huge disappointment. The potatoes I talked about and the mixed veggies had green beans where the stems were still left on. Gordon Ramsey would be appalled!

We skipped dessert and any other drinks. Overall, we liked the ambiance, and wanted so much to like the food. The entrees disappointed us, but the apps and bread were amazing. We would go again, but only if we are in the area. I don’t think we would drive an hour to go again. If you are in  the area, you can try it for yourself, just be wary about making an hour drive to go there.


O solo meal-no

Cantoro is a name I had heard often. Everyone who goes to their location in Plymouth swears that their Italian food is some of the best. Jen and I went to the new Troy location last night. We were able to secure a reservation and sat outside. Now this is the old Tremonti restaurant behind the San Marino club. The ambiance and atmosphere is very nice here. It is upscale and fancy but honestly not too pricey.

Their menu is limited, which for me is fine because this is the type of Italian food I like, You know, not Olive Garden. However, for my beautiful wife, a menu where lots of the items have octopus, calamari, mushrooms and veal is not gonna work for her. I however, love all those things.  So lets go over our experience step by step.

I ordered a martini with 3 anchovy stuffed olives. I got a martini with 5. Not gonna complain about that. Jen however, asked the waiter if they could make a raspberry Mojito, he said yes. He brought her nothing of the kind. First there was no raspberry in it at all. Heck, not even red or pink but appeared to be a regular Mojito. Jen said that it tasted like Rum with a splash of Sprite and a mint leaf tossed in. This is not a Mojito! The mint leaves should be muddled with either simple syrup or real cane sugar. One would think that the waiter would have said we cant do raspberry but will a regular Mojito do?

We heard the portions were large so we ordered a few apps while we waited for Jens pasta dish. I ordered the carpaccio which I loved but alas Jen would not try. I also ordered the spicy octopus in tomato sauce appetizer which I also really liked. Jen and I split the calamari salad. I asked for the calamari to be grilled instead of fried. Jen said she would just eat around the squid. I never had grilled calamari before, I had always either had fried or sauteed. Although it was a bit salty, I loved it. the actually salad itself was a let down. The greens on it were very wilted as if it had been dressed hours before and the dressing lacked a certain punch.  Jen makes grilled salmon atop her homemade dressed salad often and not only doesn’t it wilt, it tastes infinitely better.

Jens pasta dish was Strozzapretti alla Barese which is basically a rotini like pasta with ground Italian sausage and rapini. Not really too exciting, but the waiter in all fairness told her that it really wouldn’t be. I should also mention, that the bread served was very good but Jen would have preferred it served warm. The pasta entree was large and we took half of it home and ate it for breakfast this morning.

Overall, I would like to go back and sit outside again and have some calamari and a couple drinks. It will be a hard sell to get my wife to join me though, because she had such high hopes that came crashing down rather quickly.

Don’t bet the farm!

Jen and I were at Eastern Market last week looking around like we frequently do in the summer. We were hungry for breakfast so we decided to try the Farmers Restaurant. We were encouraged, because their sign said that were famous for their corned beef. Also, the place was packed which is usually a good sign.

Jen and I wanted to split a meal because we had heard that the portion sizes were large, so we ordered the homemade corned beef hash which came with toast and 3 eggs any style.  The server was prompt so we quickly ordered the hash with rye toast and poached eggs. Now I personally love cutting into a poached egg that is sitting on top of a pile of savory corned beef hash. I love the way the creamy yolk spills all over the hash.

At least thats the way it should be, but not what we got. Jen and I tend to make our own corned beef hash so we are definitely snobs when it comes to this breakfast treat. What we were served was very disappointing. First, the toast was cold. Second,the poached eggs were so overcooked that they were hard as bullets. No creamy yolks for me. Lastly, the corned beef hash, albeit a very large portion had several flaws. The onions in the hash were under cooked and greasy, while the corned beef was plentiful, the potatoes were not. The corned beef looked like grilled sliced lunch meat that was very fatty. It just seemed like a thrown together greasy mess. Underwhelming does not even begin to describe how we felt considering Wigleys corned beef is located down the road.

Look, maybe other things on the menu are good, don’t know but our breakfast was not! If you do go here do not get the hash, but better yet walk down to Vivios and have a bloody mary and a corned beef sandwich.

Happy Hour – Well, Happy Hour and a Half

Omar and I decided to try Morton’s this week for their happy hour, just to shake things up a bit. They have their “power hour” from 5-6:30 p.m. They have a variety of well cocktails and beers at reduced prices and a selection of bar bites. The place was not very busy. Unlike Eddie V’s that has their bar packed on most nights, and lots of action, Morton’s seemed very slow. We were there until probably 7, and the main restaurant didn’t even fill up. A huge difference from Eddie V’s. I wonder if the competition down that strip is affecting business, or if it just happened to be a slow night, or the fact the entire parking lot is a construction zone?

Omar started with his classic gin martini, up, with 3 anchovy stuffed olives and I with my standard Cosmo. Omar was disappointed with his Martini, just because the happy hour gin was not to his liking. I was unhappy because they served my Cosmo in a weird glass that reminded Omar and I of a pudding cup. I like a nice martini glass, and an iced cold Cosmo.

We decided to split some things off the menu, Omar starting with his oysters on the half shell (good, but he likes Eddie V’s better), and we split a chopped salad, Parmesan Matchstick fries and a filet trio. The salad was great. Fresh, with bacon, avocado, tomato and other tasty things all tossed in a light Dijon dressing. The bartender was nice enough to ask ingredient by ingredient if I wanted anything omitted as she said “there is a lot of stuff in here”. The filet trio was 3 small filets atop toast points paired with three toppings, blue cheese, which I made Omar eat, A spiced peppercorn which was tasty but very peppery and a Bearnaise which I enjoyed the most of the three. The bartender forgot our fries, and I had to remind her. They came out last, but where crispy, hot and did not disappoint. She also brought out some of Morton’s bread, which is basically like a ginormous onion roll. Omar loves the bread. Me, meh, I could take it or leave it.

The manager Matt, came over and introduced us to both the Landry’s select club and their famous State Street Manhattan. The Landry’s club is cool. Costs $25 to join, but you immediately get a $25 coupon off another visit, and you get $25 for every $250 you spend. Let me tell you its pretty easy to do that, even during happy hour. You also get $25 off for your birthday.

The State Street Manhattan is famous at Mortons. It’s made with Redwood Empire Whiskey and Carpano Antica Vermouth, infused with maraschino cherries and orange peel, and placed in a cold brew distiller to deepen the flavor. Topped with a slice of New York strip, glazed with sugar and spices (served cold). It takes over an hour to brew a batch, so thankfully they have some ready to go as a new batch is brewing. I have to admit, it was the best Manhattan I have ever had, but still too boozy for me to drink a whole one. As much as I like whiskey, that drink would do me in!!

Overall, we give Mortons a thumbs up. We enjoyed the food, and the staff, but it just didn’t have the happening vibe that Eddie V’s does. We will go back, we have coupons to use after all!!