Mmm… Johnny Cakes

Omar and I decided to grab a quick breakfast before jumping into another home project.  It seems that’s all we have had a chance to do lately! We decided to try Johnny Cakes Cafe’, in Troy on John R just South of Long Lake.  I had read reviews quite some time ago about the great breakfast, but this was the first chance we had to check it out.

The menu has an eclectic offering of really different breakfasts.  And if your name is Johnny Cakes, you assume they have a large selection of pancakes, which they did not disappoint. Yes I know Johnny Cakes are cornbread, but “cakes” make you think pancakes, so…. ranging from Lucky Charms pancakes (the special of the day) to red velvet, oreo, futopia and more! An interesting collection of Eggs Benedict, “shillets” and crepes, this place was a foodies wonderland.

Our waitress, Vickie was friendly, attentive and offered great suggestions. I ordered the Huevos Rancheros, to which Vickie suggested I put the Ranchero sauce on the side because it was hot – and let me tell you, Vickie did not lie!! Wooo Baby that was spicy!  Crispy hash browns, topped with oozy cheddar cheese, topped with freshly grilled corn tortillas, more melted cheese, all topped with two perfectly cooked over easy eggs. You cut into the eggs and the warm yolks just pour onto the crispy tortilla, and with the hash browns, a touch (just a touch!) of the Ranchero Sauce, and a bit of the sour cream and guacamole, gives a bite brimming with savory deliciousness. It was truly  a symphony of flavors.

Omar ordered the “2 and 2”. 2 eggs any style and 2 pancakes, any flavor AND hashbrowns.  Omar decided to try the peanut butter and nutella (pictured below) and the Resee’s Peanut Butter Cup. What he didn’t know were the pancakes were the size of  your head, we expected two small side pancakes, we didn’t expect the works of art that was brought to the table.  Vickie apologized that the chef accidentally made the peanut butter and nutella as pecan and nutella, she profusely apologized as our actual order would take a bit longer and asked that we take the “mistake” so it didn’t go to waste, humm OK, twist our arms!!

I am not kidding when I said the pancakes were a work of art, and delicious too. They were a bit of a sweet overload for breakfast. Almost seemed like desert pancakes if there is such a thing!

We also had to order the “homemade corned beef hash” on the side. Don’t judge our piggishness. Omar and I are corned beef hash snobs, and after making our own for so long have a hard time finding anything more than canned dog food out, but I digress. This corned beef hash was most definitely homemade. Tasty, but in our opinion needed more corned beef, and maybe some onions. But definitely in the running for best corned beef from a restaurant.

Look at that pancake below! Swirls of peanut butter and nutella in an edible masterpiece!

Our suggestion – go to Johnny Cakes. TODAY. OMG you won’t be disappointed.  The meals are a bit expensive but well worth it.  Our bill for two was about $30 but we feasted. And had leftovers.

  

 

It’s Nacho Average BBQ Joint

We spent a work birthday lunch at Lockhart’s BBQ. I know I post a lot about my “work lunches”. Don’t judge, or be jealous, I work for a great place that celebrates everyone’s achievements, even if it is just the anniversary of being born.

Lockhart’s BBQ is typical of Royal Oak businesses with the industrial open ceilings, but has quaint wood tables, just the right amount of required neon and relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.

They always have a plethora of on-tap beers. Local breweries as well as others.  We were discussing our love for the new Sanders bumpy cake beer, brewed by Old Nation Brewing Company, when lo and behold we see it on their extensive menu. They had about 10 beers I would have loved to try, and many more (IPA’s) I did not care to, but as it was a work day and my company isn’t THAT forgiving, I stuck with water.

I have had their BBQ in the past, and although it is pretty good, I still prefer Clarkston Woodshop. Lockhart’s is nice for its location, and food is ok, but if I need to pursue amazing BBQ I head to Clarkston.  I do like Lockhart’s serve pickled and spicy onions, peppers and of course pickles on the tables, which are good with a zing and a kick.  This day, I decided to try something different and order the Smoked Pork Nachos. They make their own chips by flash frying flour tortillas and top with smoked chopped pork, cheddar and monterey jack cheese, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos all drizzled with BBQ sauce. They had me until the BBQ sauce, which I ordered without. Good choice, although the nacho’s needed something as they were very dry. By ordering the sauce on the side, I was able to try a variety of their sauces that they have readily available on the tables, which include the vinegary Carolina Gold, the Sweet, blended with root beer and grapes, the Traditional with tangy molasses and the Fire on the Red, cranked up with cayenne, chipotle and habanero.  The “flash fried” chips, when you use the flour tortillas just seem to have a powdery, dry flavor. Although crisp and light, they lacked that corny goodness you get with a real corn tortilla chip. I actually enjoyed the BBQ sauce on the nachos. I didn’t think I would, but it worked.

I would definitely go to Lockhart’s again, but I don’t think I would order the nachos. Not a fan of flour tortilla chips, and to me really brought the toppings down. Stick with the meat and the sides, order a tasty beer and tell them Jen & Omar sent you. They will have no idea who we are, but you will kind of feel like a big shot by saying it.

I Must Be a Coco-Nut?

beerI saw this beer while shopping the other day, and as the gloom of a Michigan winter was weighing heavy on my soul, I needed something to remind me of summer. To remind me of what sunshine felt like, the sweet smells of coconut sun lotion and the taste of a cool frozen cocktail by the pool.

Porter Rico beer is brewed by the Arcadia Brewing Company right here in our wonderful state of Michigan. I would like to say some poetic description of how the beer fuses the tastes of Cacao and Coconut into a liquid exotic tropical island adventure, but in reality to me, it was like a good chocolaty porter and coconut sun tan oil had a baby. A weird, disturbing baby.

I tried to like this beer but could get over the taste of what I can only imagine coconut sun tan oil tastes like. Yes, it did take me back to my wild impetuous youth, where we would coat ourselves in Hawaiian Tropic and lay out on a bed of aluminum foil, but even with the fond memories I just couldn’t love this beer.

I think you either like this beer, or don’t. I was one of the don’ters.  I did not meet anyone as of yet who has LOVED it, although my most likely inevitable son-in-law, Quinton liked it.

This beer has 5.5% alcohol by volume, and is brewed with real coconut, bittersweet malt and chocolate. It is one of Arcadia’s seasonal beers for 2017 so get it while you can. I say try it, you might like it. I however, am sad to say I won’t be buying again.

Had Some Cake by the Ocean 3030

During my business trip to Fort Lauderdale, staying at the Marriott’s Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, we went to dinner at one of the hotel restaurants – Ocean 3030.

The restaurant is nestled within the hotel, and does not really offer many views of the water, which is a bit disappointing. Dining out on the terrace, overlooking the ocean would have been nice, but not so.

This restaurant calls itself “casual chic” bistro style , serving american cuisine specializing in seafood. I think less casual, I would refer to this more as “pretentious chic”.

The menu is very limited, offering a selection of well though out, well prepared dishes, but limited nonetheless.  A small sampling from the raw bar, minimal starters and a very few specialized dishes.

We ordered a variety of dishes from the specials and the standard menu. The meals were all beautifully plated, interestingly paired and tasty.  With entrees averaging $36 though, the meals lived up their pretentiousness.

All in all, a relaxing meal, in a nice restaurant, with friendly, knowledgeable staff. I am not sure I would visit again intentionally, but if staying at the Marriott again, I would certainly consider it!

Sand and Snoozing at the Harbor Beach Marriott

During my January 2017 business trip to sunny Florida, we stayed at the Harbor Beach Marriott and Spa. The Marriott is a beautiful hotel, located right on the ocean, with amazing views and great amenities.

The staff is friendly and attentive, greeting you with fruit infused water and a smile. The hotel is easy to navigate, and offers a beautiful pool (one which I thoroughly enjoyed on a January day when it was subarctic in Michigan).

The rooms were ample sized, with comfortable bedding and nice glass enclosed shower. I was disappointed the room did not have a mini fridge, but that was my only complaint!

Omar got “stuck” an extra day due to the Delta debacle that shut down a bunch of flights due to an apparent computer crash. On Monday, while I was working the booth at the conference, he was tanning and swimming by the beautiful pool, munching on a crab salad from the poolside restaurant, “Sea Level”.  The bartenders here were fun and flirty, and the outdoor cafe boosts comfortable ocean al fresco seating.

We got some sun time too, no worries on Tuesday, when we had a break from the booth for a while so enjoyed some sun and cocktails by the vast pool.

I would most definitely recommend this hotel. The ambiance, cleanliness, amenities, all top notch.

Asian Fusion, Asian Fusion, Asian Fusion at Echo

So, did you get the title? It’s an echo. Right? Ugg I guess if you have to explain it, it doesn’t work.

So during my Florida trip with my main squeeze, after our day at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Beach and the Aruba Beach Cafe, we rested a bit, the headed out to Palm Beach for an evening of highfalutin fun! We went to the Breakers hotel, a historical icon in the Palm Beach area. Founded in 1896, as a grand hotel that brought in dignitaries, tycoons and those of “higher social stature”. The hotel was named after the breakers near the shore, where waves crashed and sprayed and delighted guests.

The hotel suffered from fires in both 1903 and 1925 but the hotel emerged more decadent and opulent each time. Rumor has it the guest registry reads like a who’s who of society. Rockefellers, Vanderbuilts, Andrew Carnegie, JP Morgan, US Presidents and European nobility all stayed at this luxury hotel. Today the hotel still boasts luxury, seaside views and world-class service.  One feels wealthy just being on the premises.

The hotel has a variety of dining options, all located on the vast estate. Steakhouses, Seafood, Asian Fusion, Italian, there is literally something for everyone.

After strolling around the beautiful hotel, and taking in the breathtaking views, we took a shuttle over to Echo, an Asian Fusion restaurant. We sat at the bar enjoying some Cosmo martini’s and sake, before being seated on the front terrace next to the fire.

The evening was filled with food, drink and laughter, with waves of sushi, Peking duck, sweet and sour halibut, won ton soup and more crashing into our table as well as our palates. The food was great, ambiance great. The fireside table was a great feature.

The waitstaff was friendly and patient, as we “oopsie” spilled a martini – I know it is a sacrilege. I highly recommend you spend an evening strolling around the property at the Breakers, and take in one of their many dining experiences. You won’t be disappointed!

Chillin’ at the Aruba Beach Cafe’

A beautiful day enjoying the sunshine in Sunny Florida. I was there for a business trip, but extended a few days earlier, brought my honey with me and we stayed a few days with my sister. Saturday we took a trip during the day to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Beach and the Aruba Beach Cafe. This restaurant, nestled in a small quaint shopping area, boasts beautiful views of the bay, right next to the Anglin’s Fishing Pier, which one must take a walk out on.

The restaurant is a stand-by we always seem to go to when I am in town. The food is good, views are amazing and atmosphere is awesome, especially when you can catch a steel drum musician playing out on the patio.

We decided to split a bunch of food since everything sounded so good. Oysters on the half shell, fish tacos, seafood quesadillas and of course, a loaf of their famous Bimini Bread with Aruba glaze. Warm chewy delicious bread with whipped honey butter. Pair that with some fruity boozy deliciousness and you are hooked up. Light breezes weaved its way through an opened patio, overlooking palm trees and the white sands of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

We ended our meal and headed out to the pier, stopping at Anglin’s Beach Cafe to grab yet another fruit and booze filled drink before heading out for the great views off the pier.  Here I met a lovely pelican, who was quite friendly.

A great day and a great restaurant! Don’t miss this great spot if in the Lauderdale area!!

Felt Like a Whale After the Whale’s Rib

Took a trip to Florida recently for a business trip and Omar and I decided to extend our visit a bit and spend some time with my sister and her family. My sister has a great house in Coconut Creek, and treated us like royalty, even giving up her spa like bedroom. So gracious! The first night, after a long day of traveling and fighting rush hour we decided to head into Deerfield Beach and eat near the pier.  We chose the Whale’s Rib Raw Bar – a quaint hole in the wall – even featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. As Guy likes to joke – No, you don’t actually get to eat Whale here, but they do have some of the freshest and best selection of seafood in the area.

The restaurant has been around for 30 years and is a South Florida staple for seafood. It is a simple, paper on the table, plastic basket kind of joint, that has expanded to include a great outdoor patio area with beer and wine to help us get through the wait.

We were told about a 30 minute wait and surprisingly, for a Friday night we were seated and water coming within 15 minutes.

We didn’t know what to order, so in a hungry glutinous fashion, we all start ordering food to “share”.  We started with Whale Fries with “Whale Juice” which is essentially home made hand cut chips with a sauce that essentially consisted of honey mustard and vinegar.

We then opted for a variety of seafood including peel and eat shrimp, Stone Crabs which happened to be in season, oysters, conch fritters and I ordered a side salad.  Wow, the food was amazing, so fresh, tasty and plentiful! Just skip the salad next time. It was boring as a plate of bagged greens with some pungent onions and mediocre ranch dressing.

It seemed like they just brought basket after basket of food and hot chips.  We all truly felt like whales upon leaving the place. If you find yourself in the Deerfield Beach area, make sure you stop at the Whales Rib.  Well worth the drive and the wait!!

Our incredibly stuffed bellies didn’t stop us from meandering to the local ice cream shoppe called Sprinkles & Scoops.  I do believe I had the most delicious decadent ice cream cone while I was there. They had a ton of candy and treats along with a huge selection of ice cream flavors.  Make sure you complete your Whales Rib experience with a short walk down the block to Sprinkles. It is well worth it.

We uber’d back to their house and crashed early as we know the following day held a wealth of decadent culinary sensations and we needed our rest!

0135991_01_stone-crabs_s4x3-jpg-rend-hgtvcom-231-231 08a2aebd4d4fa0ab9080d6a61dab9692 chips

Out on the Town Tavern

Went to the Town Tavern in Royal Oak for a company lunch. I know what you are all thinking, that I eat out for lunch a lot. Yes I do, what of it!? LOL. How else am I going to get fodder for the blog?

The Town Tavern has great ambiance. A modern take on a 1930’s tavern, this restaurant opened in 2007, although this is the first I heard of it. With the appealing vista of dark mahogany, and rich red tones, the restaurant has an immediate visual appeal.

Although many standard tavern fare items can be found on this menu, it is far from ordinary. From omelettes of the day to Ray’s ice cream, this place has a lot to offer. We somehow told them we had less than actually showed up. They were busy, but accommodated our extra guests by bringing chairs, and the folks next to us were kind enough to move down. When you bring parties of 18 or more to an establishment at a busy lunch hour, it truly shows the management of a restaurant. In this case, they excelled.

They have an array of interesting appetizers from Lobster nachos to Parmesan Truffle fries. Today’s special however was “gouda fries” which sounded really gouda. Ugg sorry. Their soups include venison chili, and salads have unusual ingredients such as Burrata (which I learned is a fancy mozzarella), Pomegranate reductions, The uber popular Kale, butternut squash, and blood oranges.

They have mac and cheeses, fish and chips, burgers, sandwiches, and even entrees consisting of fish, enchiladas and more. Oh and that popular “omelette of the day”.

I opted for the Short Rib Grilled Cheese sandwich, with a side of gouda fries. The Short Rib Grilled cheese had a pile of tender short rib, with pickled carrots and onions, melted havarti cheese, and a spicy horseradish aioli. The meat was a but dry, but the aioli did a nice job moistening the sandwich with its spicy deliciousness. The gouda fries came as tiny pomme frittes, sliced thin just like I like them, hot and salty with a wave of melted gouda cheese sauce. The sauce was creamy with an infusion of smokiness from the gouda. The fries were amazing.

My co-worker sitting next to me ordered the buffalo mac and cheese. It came in a small crock, baked with a buttery bread crumb topping, hot and oozing with spicy cheese. She gave me a small taste, for the blog of course, and the dish was delicious.

Others ordered the special, which was Italian sausage, which was fairly underwhelming. A sausage served in a bun, it always fairly pedestrian, is it not?

But it came with GOUDA FRIES did I mention how yummy they were?

All in all, I would definitely go back again. In Royal Oak, many restaurants are not super busy for lunch. I went to Mongolian Barbecue the other day and basically had the place to myself. This place is hopping, alive with people and conversation, which is indicative of a superior lunch spot. Check it out and let me know if you enjoyed it!

Would You Like Samoa Pie?

pie

So you may have saw the recipe going around Facebook for the Girl Scout Samoa Pie. If you haven’t, I have attached a picture (left) and the link here. Basically, it is a creamy, caramely, gooey pic covered with caramel, coconut and chocolate. I was finally having my mom over to celebrate Christmas, yes, don’t judge, we have been crazy busy.  I needed a dessert, so thought I would attempt a Facebook recipe.  Now I made the recipe according to the directions, but I must say, the creamy pie portion just didn’t firm up as expected.  The dessert resulted in, although tasty, a gooey mess.

Fast forward to the next week, I decided to change up the recipe and create my own Samoa Pie.  Here is how I changed it:

I bought a store bought chocolate pie crust (this one was Oreo).  To that, I added a layer of cream cheese mixture (4 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 c cream cheese and about 4 oz. cool whip.) beat these together and spread on bottom of pie. Anyone ever making the Oreo pie, or similar will recognize this step.

Then I added a layer of caramel sauce, drizzled, not too think (I used Ghiradelli’s, you can find by ice cream or in baking).

Next layer, a layer of instant Jello brand caramel pudding.

Let firm up in fridge for a bit, then add your cool whip topping, layer of coconut/caramel mix (1 C coconut mixed with 1/2 C caramel sauce).

Drizzle with melted chocolate and viola! Same great tastes, perhaps even more complex, but none of that gooey mess I had before.

I even had extra layer mixes, so in order to accommodate more people than pie, I made these adorable mini deserts.

I think adding chopped pecans would have just vaulted this recipe into the stratosphere, but alas, I did not have any.

Here is what my desserts looked like! Happy Eating!

img_3629 img_3630