Peking-a-Boo House

Peking House is our go to restaurant when our company goes out and we are hankering Asian food. We have even catered it in for a few events. Peking House has been suffering recently with the addition of a new parking structure just North of the restaurant. It has been a mess for months, making the restaurant hard to access and parking a pain. I have heard rumors they may close, albeit temporarily while they are under fire.

The restaurant is kind of nice, with a lazy susan style table, where food can be shared and passed easily. Meals start with Chinese crackers and a sweet, sour and spicy dip, which is pretty decent. Eggs rolls are ok, not my favorite, and usually brought with spilled (and very hot) Asian mustard. The wonton soup is good, but comparable to most Chinese restaurants in the area. Good, but nothing special.  I personally find their food just, well, meh. My coworkers rave about the chicken with string beans and black beam sauce, but I have not tried.  The dishes I have tried fall into the mediocre category.

Peking House is one of those places you will go to, may go again, but won’t rave about nor will you feel compelled to tell all your friends. Go there if you are nearby, but don;t go out of your way for.

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Back to Sedona

Ah, back a Sedona Taphouse. I already told you about  the ambiance, the taps, the beer, the menu. Read HERE.

Did I mention That your sides are blues or greens? I had to ask what that was. Your choices are blue corn chips, or a green mixed side salad. OK, so that makes sense!!

I met up with a friend of mine, Mary, and Sedona Taphouse was a nice mid point to meet, and Mary had never been. You have to watch this place those, the menu is odd. The food is on the front page of the menu, and the back page looks like just wine and cocktails, but look carefully, and there is also more food in the bottom corner.  Under the martinis and dessert, lies small plates and sandwiches. That is where I found what I would be ordering that night. I opted for the Prime Rib Sandwich. Typically, I shy away from french dips, or steak sandwiches of any kind because they are usually tough and gristly. This sandwich however did not disappoint. Ordered sans mushrooms, the sandwich came with caramelized onions, fontina cheese, horseradish sauce on an artisan roll and served with natural au jus. Choice of blues or greens, I got greens. I think my only complaint here is the lack of fries, or dare I say tots? LOL. The food is good, ambiance pleasant and waitstaff friendly and efficient.

My flight:

Innis & Gunn Irish Whiskey Stout Scotland – Irish Whiskey Barrel Aged Stout, abv 7.4% – This English Stout is dark, very dark and complex with hints of oak, chocolate and vanilla. Feel is light for a stout beer.

Evil Twin Imperial Biscotti Brew – NY Imperial Stout – abv 11.5% – An American Double/Imperial Stout. The commercial description is “The Roman Empire had a certain “je ne sais quoi” – festive food culture, extravagant architecture, and spectacular live entertainment. Some might argue the Emperors were brutal, mad, and hungry for power, and the people vain when taking baths and working out all day. Listen – that’s still all part of the secret Imperial ingredient – keep it cool, clean, confident, arrogant, and flamboyant. Forza Imperiale.” This beer is strong, with overtones of almond, strong coffee and dark chocolate. Has a boozy edge to it, with a whiskey like kick. A good sipping beer but to heavy and too boozy to drink to much of.

Greenbush Brewing Company Jeeze O’ Petes – MI – Dry Irish Stout abv 10.5% – Another chocolaty yummy beer (do you sense a trend?) with a smooth texture and minimal carbonation. Dark and drinkable. Like a good after dinner Irish Coffee.

Paw Paw Rye Anna – MI Barrel Aged Chocolate Stout** abv 7% – Stone Brewing Company’s Milk/Sweet Stout. The “Rye” barrel aging didn’t really come through on this beer, and had some cherry undertones I did not care for. Yep, definitely too much cherry for me.

**this beer is now retired

 

 

 

Hanging with the Ladies and Johnny Black

Met some old friends at Johnny Blacks Public House in Sterling Heights. Well, my friends weren’t old, well not older than I am (ugg). We all used to be neighbors what seems like a million years ago. It’s funny how you meet up with people you haven’t seen in a long time, and it seems like time never passed.

Johnny Blacks has a feel of an upscale sports type bar, with many TV’s, high top tables and an upscale menu. They even have a small outdoors area you can sit weather permitting.

The menu has a large selection of small plates, sliders, salads, appetizers (including loaded tots, my new favorite) and a full entree selection.

I ordered the sliders with fries and was a bit disappointed when the fries turned out to be those darn battered fries. At least these were seasoned. The sliders were fairly good, on mini bricohe buns. A bit dry though.

They had a fairly large beer selection. I opted for my go to Atwater Vanilla Java Porter, which I already told you all about, many times.  🙂

Overall atmosphere is cheery, friendly and efficient service.  I would definitely go back again, and try something different. Like the loaded tots! A stand by local hangout to make one on your stops.

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.

  

 

Sedona is a Beautiful Place This Time of Year!

Sedona Tap House opened on Big Beaver in Troy.  The place sounded great, promising a large variety of craft beers as well as cocktails and wine.  The beer list did not disappoint. Hundreds of beers available for the tasting, and tasting we did! We sat at the bar, and the restaurant offered a cheerful murmur and casual ambiance. The wall was lined with beer taps, and a large variety available by bottle. The menu was rather eclectic, with offerings such as goat cheese and tomato jam bruschetta.

We started the meal with Desert Fire Jalapenos, 4 halved jalapenos, stuffed with Stuffed with 4 different cheeses, wrapped in bacon wrapped with a chilled lime cilantro sauce. They were pretty good, but as with these “fancy” restaurants seemed scant on the plate.

Omar continued just with appetizers, opting for the Prince Edward Island Mussels which are prepared with Tomatoes, red onions, garlic and a lemon basil sauce. He said they were very good, and I would just have to take his word for it – blecch.

I ordered the Salmon Asparagus Salad which the menu describes as broiled Atlantic Salmon, organic greens, asparagus, feta, walnuts, tomatoes, dried cranberries. House made lemon balsamic vinaigrette. The salad was good, and plentiful enough. Salmon cooked well, and not fishy. An overall nice salad. But what really matters is the beer!

Beers on our flights included:

Ellison Tiramisu Coffee Stout 8% apv – a dark brown creamy stout, with aroma of vanilla, coffee, caramel, chocolate a bit of coconut and dark roasted malts. Very drinkable, not too heavy and overall very good.

Osker Blues Breckenridge Bourbon Barrel Aged Ted-Fidy 12.9% abv : Rich chocolates and vanilla, lots of malt. Oak and bourbon very dominant. Very full bodied with great “barrel” feel.

Cake Walk Vanilla Cream – Right Brain 3.8% abv – A light cream ale infused with vanilla bean. A very light, drinkable beer, similar to cream soda.

Saugatuk Barrel Aged Blueberry Maple 6% abv – Notes of berry and maple in this lighter stout beer. Blueberry takes a back seat to the maple, which isn’t my favorite. A very sweet beer.

Crankers Aphrodisiac Chocolate Pomegranate Stout 8.4% apv – very dark, overtones of chocolate and a hint of fruit. A nice contrast of flavors and overall good beer.

Perrin Damil in Distress 10% apv – Looks similar to root beer, this Roggenbier style beer has sour smell, but overtones of malt and rum (as it is a rum barrel beer) easy drinking.

Odd Side Ales Mango IPA 6% apv – ok, an IPA and you know I wouldn’t normally order this, but sounded intriguing with the mango. A sweet start to the beer, has a bitter aftertaste that is indicative of an IPA. Not my favorite, and wouldn’t order again.

The Brewery So Happens it’s Tuesday 14% apv – an American Double/Imperial Stout – dark and tasty, with hints of bourbon, molasses, vanilla, oak, chocolate and malt. Very boozy with the highest abv of the day.

Overall a great experience and would go again! Just use the app to make reservations, which gave is a table in no time, otherwise prepare for a long wait!

It Was Our Destihl-y

Allison had her onsite visit and interview at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Science. We stayed overnight at the TownPlace Suites by Marriott. The hotel was nice and very accommodating. Parking was a bit difficult, you have to pull into a nearby parking structure and call by pressing a button on the ticket stand.  We rang and rang with no answer and wound up actually having to call the hotel to buzz us in.  Once we got the hang of the “system” it was much easier. After her interview for potential entrance into the Fall semester we visited Deshtihl Brewery with my niece Amber who already attends University of Illinois.  Deshtihl was recommended by the hotel staff who said the food was great and beer plentiful.  They tout themselves a Gastropub, They are an interesting place to visit. They are trying to be “fancy” but seem to be one of those pretentious restaurants where ingredients are randomly added to food to make it sound more “gourmet”.

Dishes include such items as Chorizo stuffed dates, fennel sausage and date pizza (they use a lot of dates. Dates must be fancy) and Weissenheimer Chicken. Now that’s a mouthful. Nothing on the menu really jumped out at me. I ordered the Ancho Chicken Salad sans blue cheese. The salad had lettuce, ancho spiced chicken, avocado, black beans, white cheddar, red onion, diced tomatoes roasted corn with a ancho lime ranch dressing.  The salad was ok. Toppings rather sparse, dressing good, but the salad itself was not huge.

Amber ordered the BBQ pulled pork two ways. It came on a plank, with pork a couple of ways, pulled and ribs. Served with lemon corn muffins and a chipotle coleslaw. She said the dish was good, not great. She didn’t eat much of it, so I think it wasn’t spectacular.

Allison ordered a spicy squash and cashew cream dish served over squash noodles.  The dish started out ok, with some interesting flavors of coconut milk, basil and a “cashew cream sauce”. It was very spicy and not an easy dish to finish.

They had quite a few beer choices, and some interesting fruited beers. Amber, not yet 21 didn’t drink and I ordered a simple red beer. It was again, an ok beer. I think OK is my ultimate review of Deshtihl.  I don’t know if I would ever even go there again.  As Allison has since been accepted into the fall program, I am sure I will find myself in Urbana-Champaign again, but may not revisit Deshtihl.

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!

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!

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