No Need to Hide From Hyde Park

If you are up to date on our blog, and I expect that you are, you will know that actual Valentines Day for us was spent playing trivia. If you are one of the few who didn’t read that post, you can enjoy HERE. We decided to celebrate a day of romance a few days later at Hyde Park in Birmingham. We first saw Hyde Park when we happened to be in Birmingham for other reasons. The place was intriguing, nestled in a strip, near the Birmingham Theater, boasting prime steaks and seafood. We checked out their online menu and although the menu didn’t have prices listed (your first sign that it is going to be a pricey night) we decided to splurge and try it out.

We made reservations in advance, for a very early dinner as we wanted to beat the dinner rush. We are finding more and more that we seem to be becoming those crotchety old people who want to eat early so they don’t have to deal with the masses of annoying people. We are enjoying the spoils of “early bird specials”. Those old people are on to something! I must say although we are eating like old people, we are still super young at heart and still pretty hot. LOL

We started our dining adventure with cocktails, Omar ordering his classic Tanqueray Martini, up, with 3 anchovy stuffed olives. I stuck with my classic Tanqueray and Tonic, with just the right squeeze of lime.

We were pleased to be offered a complimentary amuse bouche, which is a fancy french word that translates as “uber fancy food served very tiny.” Actually it translates as “mouth amuser”, designed as a small bite to show off the chef’s skill in blending and creating flavor profiles and is typically served before your order is taken. The manager brought a small sampling of their crispy tuna sushi roll, with an avocado crema. I am not a sushi lover and try to steer clear of raw fish, but this one bite was delicious.

As we haven’t been eating as much as before, we decided to split an entree and get some accompaniments. I ordered a Caesar Salad that I assumed I would be splitting with Omar and French Onion Soup. Omar ordered the calamari and our entree to split was the bone-in, 36 day, dry aged 26 oz behemoth bone in ribeye with boardwalk fries.

The Caesar Salad was ok. The lettuce was fresh, with nice shaved Parmesan but I felt the dressing lacked that certain tang that Caesar dressing needs. You can order anchovy on the side and as much as I hate anchovy, I need a tiny bit in my dressing that was missing if you didn’t request it.

The French Onion Soup was good, not great and definitely not the best I ever had. It wasn’t packed with flavor or onions, but was far from inedible, but far from delicious.

The calamari was excellent, light, not greasy, and surprising crispy even though it was in a Thai sweet hot chili sauce, along with cherry peppers, carrots, green onions and nuts.

The steak and fries arrived, a plate of which looked like a Fred Flintstone Brontosaurus Steak, and tiny fries, nestled carefully in a paper cone, salted to perfection. The aged steak, cooked a perfect medium rare, was tasty, but honestly I don’t see the difference with an aged steak or a brand spanking new steak. The flavors are supposed to deepen, the enzymes in the meat are supposed to break down fibers, making the steak more tender, but to me, it just tasted like an everyday steak. Good, but not blow me away amazing. Frankly, Omar and I get these massive Cowboy Ribeyes from Sams Club, grill them at home and they are just as good. The fries though, were amazing. They do fries right. Small Pomme Frites, cooked to perfection, salty with interesting aoilis to dip. We opted against desert, although they brought to a nearby table a stacked carrot cake that appeared to be at least 7 layers and looked so decadent and delicious.

The waitstaff was incredibly attentive, from the manager, to the waiter, to the person filling our water to the bus staff. A fine dining experience, with exceptional service. The ambiance is cozy, with white table clothes, wood and stone walls, deep rich paint colors and walls of aged bottles of wine.

We enjoyed our evening, felt very well taken care of by staff, but were simply not blown away with the food. Sometimes I feel we are getting too snobbish with our reviews, but we feel it is our duty to give people good, honest reviews. We would recommend Hyde Park, and would return, but probably wouldn’t splurge for the aged steak.

Ya Mon, Sandals, Drinks, Sand and Sun

Finally got around to posting about our Honeymoon. Omar and I spent a glorious week at the Sandals Royal Caribbean in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was a week of pure heaven. I feel compelled to write a real review about Sandals, the room, the food, the experience. Before we went, I spent tireless hours reading bad reviews, good reviews, and sometimes discouraging reviews. If I listened to the crack pots and endless barrage of reviews from people that simply cannot be satisfied with anything, we may have changed our reservations. I am glad we didn’t.

Let’s start from the very beginning. We opted to sign up for Club Mobay, both arriving and departing. Club Mobay in a nutshell is a concierge service that expedites you through customs, ensures your transport to the resort is smooth and offers a special Club Mobay lounge with free snacks, and cocktails. Picture our arrival: We get off the plane with a lovely woman holding a “Jen and Omar” sign, We felt like a celebrities! She whisks us through the airport, guiding us into the short (separate) Club Mobay line and we literally just breeze through everything. We are guided to the Club Mobay lounge where we have a rum punch handed to us, directed to the small buffet of island snacks, and we sit and enjoy our cocktail while our concierge sets up our transport.

We quickly head to the transport van and along with only one other couple are take to our destination. Our bus driver was more tour guide than bus driver and regaled us with stories of the island, the sites, and the history in our short 15 minute drive.

Upon our arrival, we are greeted with iced cold washcloths infused with lemongrass to cool down and start our week of pampering. We are escorted past the standard check in area to Club Sandals, a perk of your room level that allows an expedited, pampered check in with snacks and cocktails. We are told to sit and relax while they get us checked in, we sipped out cocktails and enjoyed the aroma of lemongrass that lingered in the air.

Our room was available hours before we expected which was an unexpected surprise. We were escorted to the Windsor Beachfront Walkout Club Level Room with Patio Tranquility Soaking Tub. This room literally walked right out into the sandy beach which led right into the ocean. Let me tell you, for us beach lovers, it was perfect. We could walk right out to our beach chairs, frolic in the water, soak up some sun, with the room only a few feet away. I heard a lot of false statements and bad reviews of the rooms. I will give you a totally honest review of our experience.

Our Room:
Although the pictures on the website make the rooms look like the largest, most extravagant rooms you can imagine. If you are expecting the rooms to look that picture perfect you will be disappointed. However, if you go in with an open mind, you will see the rooms, although not super updated, and not super glamorous, were clean, beds very comfy, stocked fridge and bar, large TV and a beautiful walk out, with a patio that had an outdoor soaker tub and small table. So nice to sit on the patio and watch the water.

The Food:
There is a variety of restaurants in the resort, and you have access to two other Sandals resorts, Montego Bay and the Sandals Inn, offering a different variety of food and activities. The Royal Caribbean offers a private island, that has the over-the-water villas, the Royal Thai Restaurant, as well as a nude beach. There is a small ferry, that looks like a Chinese dragon that ferries people back and forth all day.

The first place we ate was the Mariner Bar and Seaside Grill. They have a wide range of food from quesadillas, burgers, and Jamaican “Patties” stuffed with spicy beef or chicken. The food was good and really hit the spot. The fries good, everything cooked fresh to order and the view was amazing. We ate here quite often, laying by the pool, wanting a small bite to eat, or grab an ice cream cone. takes some getting used to, going to restaurants, eating whatever you want, helping your self to a self serve cone and paying nothing.

Here is a breakdown of our thoughts of the other restaurants (and we tried them all). We did NOT however, ever leave the resort. Our reviews will be limited to the Royal Caribbean alone.

The Royal Thai: This was on the private island. You have to take a ferry there and you have to make reservations. We went to the island earlier to explore and peek at the nudist beach. Yes we went there, no we did not disrobe and there was no one there that day (I think we were lucky?). The day we ate at the Royal Thai was a raining stormy day and as half the restaurant (maybe more) is outside, they were delayed in opening waiting for the rain to stop. The food was really good, but not the best Thai we ever had. The appetizer portions are small, as were entree portions, but I still got really full. We both had chicken Pad Thai, with Omar’s being tongue numbingly hot. The restaurant was romantic and the food really good.

The Regency: We went here for breakfast everyday, They have an extensive breakfast and lunch buffet, along with a menu selection for dinner. You dine overlooking the boat dock area, and the view spectacular. The breakfast buffet filled with fresh fruits, made to order omelets, smoked fish, local fare, breads, sweets, oatmeal and so much more. If you can’t find something to eat you have a problem! For lunch, we mostly ate at the Mariner, but ate at the Regency once to find a huge selection of local dishes, sandwiches, salad bar, soups, sweets and more. The dinner was romantic, but of all the restaurants, this was our least favorite.

Le Jardinier: The French restaurant is the most popular, and busiest. You need reservations here as well and expected to “dress” for the evening. When they say “dress” I saw people from evening dresses to white slacks to dress shorts. I think as long as you are not in a bikini and flip flops you are ok. This place was nice, with little crabs running through the flower beds, small wire bistro tables and classical music playing. The ceiling was the sky, with draped greenery and flowers. The food again, small portions, but filing. Omar and I found that we enjoyed the smaller portions, it allowed us to sample the appetizers, main course and dessert.

The Cricketers Pub: A fun place to hang, and really any activity after 10 p.m. happens here. It offers classic British Pub Fare, fish and chips, bangers and mash, and cottage pie. We had to go eat some fish and chips with malt vinegar! Lots of action here. If you want to eat, get there when they open. It really fills up quick and you will have a really long wait.

Elenors: An outdoor eating area just off the pool and games area. This was our favorite spot to eat and the only restaurant we ate at twice. Although one night, lets say I had a wee bit too much to drink all day, so didn’t really enjoy my fancy dinner (drunk me just wanted pizza or nachos!!) The waitstaff here were funny and friendly. The food was really enjoyable.

Bella Napoli: The stone-fired pizza joint next to the Mariner. Although it was no green lantern, it was a decent pizza and a nice change of pace for lunch but don’t expect a late night snack as they close at 6 p.m.

Lastly, the Jerk Shack on  the private island. Typically, you sit out on picnic tables, and order from what looks like a permanent food truck, but they day we ate there, the weather was a little temperamental so we sat inside the Thai restaurant (right next to the shack). Get the sampler to try everything. Didn’t care for the sweet potato, it was very under done and the bread was ok, but hey it’s free right? So you pretty much have to try it.

The Drinks:
Did someone say drinks included? Ya mon! Beer, mixed drinks, whatever your pleasure. I was making drinks up by the pool and soon became “that chick that makes the cool drinks” because they caught on so much. Omar was “Omar is here!!” “Hi Omar” I was the chick that makes the cool drinks. LOL. My favorites were frozen lemonade with Blue Curacao (pronounced Keer-a-sow, not Cur-ack-co as I always called it, who knew) or frozen lemonde with Apple Schnapps. Once day they had to go on an apple schnapps run since everyone in the pool was drinking it. Try the Ziggy Marley, a three layered concoction of deliciousness.

The Activities:
Lets face it, this is not Broadway, this is entertainment akin to bad cruise shows, with cheesy skits, silly audience participation, dancing and music. The person running bingo during the day might be your nightly crooner or dancer. It is what it is. It was silly, it was fun. They have karaoke at night, although we never made it, as much as we tried. The sun, the drinks, the fun during the day had us old folks in bed fairly early every night.

We played giant chess, took a snorkel cruise, which was cool, but as soon as we left the breakers area, the waves really had us lurching back and forth. I got a wee bit sea sick, which I don’t usually do. I tried getting in the water, thinking it would help, but the waves took you so high, then so low, you felt like you were flying and didn’t help my unexpected nausea. I stupidly didn’t take any water, thinking we would only be gone a short time. If you go, take a bottle of water!! We also tried kayaking. The tide and wind was strong and the kayak did not allow ample leg room, and was massively uncomfortable. Let’s just say it was the shortest kayak trip in Sandals history. Just repeat the mantra “at least it was free”! We were there over Halloween, and I joined and won a pumpkin carving contest, tie dyed some shirts and shopped at the vendor booths they set up on the beach. On the one dismal rainy day we had we even took a couples massage. It was Omar’s first and most definitely not our last. Do all you can!

The Pool:
We spent all morning at the beach but every afternoon at the pool. Go early, grab a chair. Chairs at the pool do fill up, we never had a problem finding somewhere to hang our hats. A couple times we had to bide our time until a couple chairs opened up, but mostly we got there early and staked our claim. We never had a problem getting a chair outside our room at any time. The pool was just teeming with action and activity. Drinks flowing, strangers becoming friends, volleyball games, bingo, dance lessons, trivia and more. There was always something to do and the vibe was so fun we made it the place to be.

The Vibe:
The entire experience at Sandals is that you feel so decadent. With the free food, free drinks and plenty of action, it is simply a week of heavenly peace or fun frivolity and it was our choice which we preferred that day. The people there many of them go back often so they all know each other. We met some great people and even met a couple that lived a few miles from us! Your experience can be whatever you make of it. Our days were always the same, and so perfect. Up early, breakfast overlooking the marina, sipping coffee and taking in the view, then a few hours swimming, laying on the floats or lying in a beach chair. Talking to the local boat vendors who paddle up to try and sell you statues and trinkets but really want to know if you want the “Bob Marley”, which your shouldn’t, there are security watching very carefully. Oh and Bob Marley is code for marijuana. Then we make our way to the pool to claim our spot, start our day drinking with cocktail after cocktail (and helpful hint: bring plenty of tums the acid in all the drinks is a killer), then a shower to get all purty, and dinner at one of the restaurants. Catch a show, enjoy a theme night (like the luau, or “white night chocolate party”) relax with some checkers, play some pool, watch a show, or relax in your private tub for two on your patio (get some lemongrass essential oils from the gifts shop and kick that bath up a notch!!) and just enjoy  the relaxation.

The Bottom Line:
We would recommend Sandals and would definitely go again. Not sure if we would like to try a different location or go back to Royal Caribbean. Sign up for Club Mobay, so worth it. Skip the butlers, seems like more trouble than they are worth. Lots of people complaining that they had to wait for them for one reason or another. We were always just free to go where ever we wanted and do whatever we wanted. Get a massage. Go to the private island and get naked.

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First there was UNO, then there was Due.

My baby, Allison, was starting Vet School in Illinois and had her “blue coat” ceremony, a ceremony to celebrate t he start of vet school and the students get their blue lab coats (yes, in vet school they are blue). As the ceremony was being held at the college, I decided to fly into Chicago and drive back with Jamie and Quinton (her now fiance’!)

Allison, her boyfriend Ashton and my niece Amber who also attends University of Illinois picked me up at the airport and we set out to enjoy a day in Chicago. We decided to maximize our day, and maximize what we could do, we opted for a bus tour of the city. It makes stops all over the city, you can get off at any stop and stay as long as you’d like, and simply just catch the next one. We made sure to stop at all the places that give out free gifts like Giradelli’s chocolates. For lunch, I wanted some traditional Chicago style pizza. I had heard of Pizzaria Uno, as everyone knows it is one of the landmark Chicago Pizza joints. (Not to be confused with Uno Pizza of Sterling Heights).

We knew the restaurant, which is fairly small surprisingly, would fill up quickly. We made our way over when it opened and snagged a cozy table on the small patio overlooking East Ohio Street.

We ordered a small deep dish, with spinach, onion and green pepper and a recommended side of garlic bread.  The bread was amazing, Warm, cheesy and had the best dipping sauce which was, I assumed, the pizza sauce, it was warm and full of flavor. After waiting patiently for our pizza (the deep dishes take some serious time to cook) it finally arrived. We were a bit worried that the 6 pieces would not be enough for the four of us, but as each piece was so thick, filled with so much cheese, we were more than stuffed.

Back on the bus and we enjoyed a day of strolling through the streets of Chicago, visiting the bean, walking to the fountain and window shopping. An overall great day, amazing weather and I was able to truly explore a city that I had previously only breezed through. The day was fun, great food, great company, great sites!

I would highly recommend a stop at Pizzaria Uno, or its new sister restaurant, right down the street, Pizzaria Due.

Took the Hooligans to Houlihan’s

Allison had her blue coat ceremony today, with Jamie, Quinton, Amber and myself in attendance. The ceremony was held at the I-Hotel and it only made sense to dine at the hotels restaurant, Houlihans. The restaurant, I assumed to be along the lines of of a Bennigan’s, Chili’s or other pedestrian style chain restaurant, I wasn’t setting my expectations high. The restaurant did have a lovely outdoor dining area, and as it was a beautiful August day, so that’s where we chose to sit. The menu was eclectic, and more “gourmet” than I expected.

We started our adventure with Parmesan Frites, and if you know me at all, you will know that tiny, crispy fries, with a variety of different aoilis are my weakness. The fries did not disappoint. Thin, crisp, covered in a buttery Parmesan, with chipotle aioli, tangy tomato & garlic parmesan dipping sauces. They were delicious.

We set in to order our entrees. I ordered Chipotle Chicken Nachos, Nachos with all the fixins and a chipotle-cheese sauce. Quinton chose the Korean chicken, with gochujang (a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented red chili sauce), charred pineapple brown rice, pineapple relish and garlic green beans. Amber ordered a chicken breast, stuffed with garlic-herb cream cheese, veggies, and a huge pile of mashed potatoes. Ashton opted for the Southern California Fish Tacos, which were panko-breaded North Atlantic cod, with a chipotle mayo, napa cabbage, honey cumin dressing, and sour cream. Allison, to whom we were celebrating, ordered a french dip along with more of those delicious french fries.

The food was really good, but a bit on the pricey side. Averaging about $12 an entree, it is a bit more expensive that local restaurants around here, but the food was good, and the service was exceptional. The most unusual thing we had was the pineapple infused brown rice that came with Quinton’s entree. The pineapple made the rice dish more sweet than savory, but still an interesting compliment of the spicy Korean Chicken. The ambiance of the patio was nice and we enjoyed a nice evening. I would recommend a stop if you are even in the area. Not sure why you may find yourself in the burbs of Champaign-Urbana in the shadow of the University of Illinois, but if you are, stop into Houlihans,

Went to the Dog House

Lunch was difficult in Chicago. I was so conflicted, being torn between Pizzaria Uno, which we opted for (and you can read HERE) and Portillo’s, Chicago’s famous hot dog joint. How excited was I that when we arrived back in Champaign-Urbana that they opened a new location right there in town!! Deep dish Chicago style pizza and Chicago style hot dogs all in the same day? Yes please!

The first Portillo’s opened as a hot dog stand known as “The Dog House”  in 1963 on North Avenue in Villa Park right in the heart of Chicago. Owner and founder Dick Portillo invested $1,100 into a 6′ x 12′ trailer without a bathroom or running water. To get the water he needed, he ran a 250 foot garden hose from a nearby building into the trailer.

In 1967 they renamed to “Portillos” and moved into their first building. 1983 they opened their first drive thru, and soon became known for their drive thru speed and efficiency. Now they boast over 50 locations all across the US.

All I know is I had to get me one of those dogs. The drive thru at this location was what looked to be a mile long, and the parking lot was packed. This location has become a favorite of the “fighting Ilini” and it is always packed with college students and families alike.

It is laid out sort of cafeteria style, where you place your order, move down the line, pick out your beverage, and move down to the cashier who gives you your “number”. You then proceed to patiently wait while order after order is carefully filled and delivered. Once I finally got my order, we sat down to enjoy our dogs. Chicago dogs are different than what we are used to here in Michigan. Get a Chicago-style hot dog with everything and it will includes mustard, relish, celery salt, freshly chopped onions, sliced red ripe tomatoes, kosher pickle and sport peppers piled onto a perfectly steamed poppy seed bun. Chicagoans call this “dragging the dog through the garden.”

The hot dog did not disappoint. It had everything a hot dog should. carefully steamed bun, crisp snap of the skin, and crunch of the pickle. Accompanying this masterpiece was krinkle cut fries, similar to Ore Ida, which I kinda have a weird love of. If you ever have gotten fries from White Castle, they are very similar.

All I can say is if you are in Chicago, visit Portillo’s. There is a location right in the heart of the city and if you opt for the tour bus like we did, it drops you off right in front. May I just say though, make sure you order everything you want the first time through. Going up later because you decided you wanted say, more fires, well that is a time consuming task. Get dog, get some fries. Get a second dog, because the lines get long. Enjoy and happy eating!

Remembering Our Beginning at Fillipis Wine Barrel

One of our first dates was at Filippa’s Wine Barrel in Shelby Township. Our first time there we cozied up in wrap around booth for 2, shared some appetizers, had a few drinks and had a really nice time. Not sure if it was the restaurant, or the great company we were sharing. Either way, we decided on a whim to go back again.

This day, July 2, 2017 was a warm beautiful summer day. We chose a table on the small patio out back. Now the patio is a much more casual setting than the white table clothed, candle lit tables inside. The tables are simple wrought iron mesh tables, and simple bistro style chairs. Simple umbrellas surrounded by lush greenery for privacy and an outdoor fully stocked bar.

We started our evening with a couple cocktails, enjoying conversation and the relaxing atmosphere of the patio. We both ordered the “house specialty” Prime Rib, along with Caesar salad and baked potato. The Caesar salad, was decent, lacking that extra tang from fresh anchovy and lemon, but good nonetheless. The prime rib was disappointing as both our meals were grossly overcooked. A prime rib cooked anymore than medium rare is simply a travesty. The baked potato was underwhelming as well, but in all seriousness, what do you expect from a baked potato with a bit of butter and dollop of sour cream.

When desert rolled around, as usual Omar and I were simply too full to order. At this point, a light rain started to fall. We decided to wrap up our dinner quickly before the sky opened up and soaked us.

Overall, Filippa’s Wine Barrel is a nice restaurant, the staff is always friendly and although our meal was overcooked that evening, we have had good food in the past.

If you have not visited this restaurant, it is worth a trip. Keep expectations at a minimum and enjoy the nice patio on a sunny summers day.

I Won’t Tease – Our Review of Eddie V’s

I must apologize, this is a very late review dating from the summer. Eddie V’s opened on Metro Parkway in June 2017 and right away became a hot spot. There is complimentary valet parking, but if you don’t feel like surrendering your car or tipping you better arrive early. Jen and I have gone there a few times, usually at happy hour and like to sit at the bar. The bar area opens up to the outside and there is ample seating around the large oval shaped bar. The happy hour menu is extensive but will add up quickly. Jen and I saw our favorite bartender, Colin who we met when he worked at Bonefish in Troy. Colin is a master mixologist whom we feel makes better drinks than the other bartenders at Eddie V’s. Its not that the others aren’t good, it is just that Colin’s concoctions are always very consistent.

I have ordered their oysters on the half shell a few times and they did not disappoint always tasting fresh and juicy with the right amount of briny goodness.  The lobster wonton which I understand is no longer on the menu was incredible. Now what’s not incredible is the Carpetbagger. This appetizer, is two fried oysters with seared tenderloin and blue cheese with bread crumbs. Dry, flavorless way too much breadcrumbs no wonder the South going thru the Reconstruction hated them, they were right. Sorry couldn’t resist it, you history geeks out there will get it. Now back to the good. The crab fried rice is an incredible side dish that is big enough to split and despite being a bit too salty (at least according to my beautiful Jen) bursts with buttery crab flavor that will tantalize seafood lovers and dare I say people who say they are not fans of shellfish.

I must say of the 5 or so times we have gone there, we have only eaten dinner entrees once. I had an Alaskan halibut dish which was very enjoyable but quite pricey at $36. Jen had the 8oz filet, tender and tasty but not worth the $40. Look, I understand eating out is expensive, but when I shell out a lot of cash, I want to be blown away by the food and frankly I wasn’t.  I was however, blown away by the dark chocolate s’mores dessert. Yes that is as good as it sounds.

I do recommend you try Eddie V’s but sit at the bar on a nice sunny day with the sun and light breeze at your back. Its expensive, but overall an enjoyable experience and tell Colin we said hello.

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.

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




I Did Not Shake My Shake!

Shake Chocolate Porter is brewed by the Boulder Beer Company. I had the pleasure to try this beer and will order out any chance I get.

This beer, with a fairly low 5.9% abv is dark and aromatic, with flavors of dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee and caramels.  This beer uses chocolate wheat as well as cacao nibs in their brewing process to make a very creamy smooth mouth feel.  This beer is brewed year round and has won the silver medal in the 2015 US Open Beer Championship  and the Gold metal in the 2014 World Beer Cup – Chocolate Beer category.