Archive for the category “Beer”

Girls’ Night Out at La Masa – Empanadas and empathy!

After weeks of planning, and waiting, my girlfriend and I finally found time to catch up over dinner.¬†Shannon, you can tell your mom I called you my girlfriend – even though it doesn’t mean what she might think it means!

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Shannon writes a blog about the “fun” of dating in Milwaukee, and I LOVE reading it! Though I can’t relate to everything (mostly because I don’t date enough), some of her stories strike a big chord with me. Most just make me laugh and / or shake my head as I picture the scenarios Shannon describes.

Naturally, our conversation turned to the latest goings on in our personal lives, which made for a funny (and at times frustrating) couple of hours of conversation.

The biggest take-away, men: we just want to be a priority some of the time! It doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but it feels like it must be. ūüė¶

Anyhow, on to the dinner portion of this post.

La Masa is an empanadas bar on Brady Street. It’s casual, cute, and full of friendly service! Plus, we each had City Tin coasters, making it a perfect chance to try out a new place.

The menu is full of options. How does one choose?

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We started off with an appetizer of aji queso dip with apple slices, sliced red pepper,  jicama stick, and toasted bread. We could have eaten that all night long, but thankfully, we were wise enough to ask that it be removed from the table before we finished the pot! So delicious!

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Shannon then asked me if I was going to use one of my blog cards¬†or if I would actually order. Um…I pulled out a card, and Alicia was more than happy to choose my meal for me. I did give her a bit of guidance: I’d go with the La Masa Trio and I’d like smokey blue cheese sauce on the side, please.

I was delivered three very cutely branded empanadas along with jicama slaw. Alicia chose the black bean and chorizo (BB), the Wisco corn (W) and the mushroom truffle parmesan (M) empanadas. They were all very tasty, and the mushroom was a very close second, but the black bean and chorizo was my favorite of the trio.

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The jicama slaw was a refreshing side (though the serving was way too big for me!), and the sauces provided nice additional flavor.

I’m glad I purchased¬†City Tin coasters¬†because I’m not sure I would have stopped into La Masa without the prompt. It just wasn’t on my radar. However, I’d certainly go back. Shannon and I agreed that we wouldn’t wait ten months for another girls’ night out. Perhaps we’ll even have more positive and inspiring stories to exchange next time! Fingers crossed!

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Cheers!

Ker

 

Tapas, mom, not topless! Cafe Tu Tu Tango, Orlando, FL

I was traveling for work last week and found myself in Florida in February¬†– there are worse places to go at that time of year! ¬†My colleagues and I were staying at¬†The Grande Vista Marriott, the world’s largest Marriott property. ¬†At least that’s what the bell man told me as he drove me from the lobby to my hotel room!

After our fist full day at the ICE Convention in the Orange County Convention Center, nine of us went for a late dinner at Cafe Tu Tu Tango.  One of my colleagues, Lianne, had been there before and really enjoyed the tapas menu, the energetic vibe, and the local artistry on display in the cafe.

The wall behind our table...Campbell's soup artwork.

The wall behind our table…Campbell’s soup artwork.

Even the the silverware was a little work of art…

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Now, the reason for the name of this post is that my mom thought I said we went to a topless place for dinner when I told her it was tapas. ¬†Ahhh, Pamcakes…

Back to the evening… In addition to a bevy of cocktail, beer and wine options, we enjoyed a slew of small plates. ¬†Each of us ordered a couple of plates to share with the table. ¬†Here’s the list of delicious orders…

Guacamame (Edamame, chickpeas, avocado, salsa roja, chips) and Tuna Sashimi (Yuzu vinaigrette, cucumber salad, avocado, sesame seeds, jalape√Īo, micro cilantro):¬†
Guacamame and Ahi Tuna

Guacamame and Sashimi Tuna

Spiced Alligator Bites (Local florida wild gator, key lime mustard):

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Goat Cheese Timbale (Whipped goat cheese, arugula, nuts, parmesan baguettes, balsamic glaze):

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Dynamite Shrimp (Crispy shrimp, sweet chili aioli):

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Hazelnut Lemongrass Mahi Mahi: (I failed to take a photo of this beautifully plated dish!)

Blackened Fish Tacos (Citrus and cilantro marinated white fish, avocado coleslaw, fresno peppers, microgreens)

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Picadillo Empanadas (Chipotle spiced ground beef, manchego, cilantro sour cream):

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Southwest Chicken Flatbread (Chipotle spiced ground beef, manchego, cilantro sour cream):

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Cajun Chicken Egg Rolls (Blackened chicken, roasted corn, red onions, cheddar, goat cheese, creole mustard sauce):

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Mediterranean Flatbread Pizza (Ricotta, eggplant, tomatoes and basil):

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Pork Belly Reuben (Roasted pork belly, house-made sauerkraut, thousand island, pretzel bun ):

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Argentinian Chimichurri Steak (Tostones, marinated steak, garlic mojo):

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Jalapeno Mac & Cheese (Oven-charred tomatoes, crispy pancetta, caramelized onions,¬†jalape√Īo-horseradish mornay sauce):

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And…saving my favorite for last… the Short Rib Wraps (Kimchi, scallions, cilantro,¬†bibb lettuce wrap):¬†
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Such a light dish, but rich with flavor. ¬†Tender meat, the right amount of heat (I’ve loved Kimchi since I dated man of Korean descent in high school), and perfect flavors surrounding the dish.

While I enjoyed most of the dishes, my three¬†favorite would be: 1) the short rib wraps, 2) goat cheese timbale (I’m a cheese fanatic, so please take that into account), and 3) the Cajun chicken egg rolls.

I was not a huge fan of the pork belly reuben, and I found the spiced alligator bites to be a bit lackluster.  The other dishes were great, IMO.  I loved the guacamame as an appetizer, and the dynamite shrimp was another worthy plate!

Have you been to Cafe Tu Tu Tango? ¬†Do you have a favorite dish? ¬†Have you ever purchased artwork there (I had my eye on a Michael Jackson, circa “Beat it” days painting)?

In general, do you have a favorite tapas plate?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Cheers!

Ker

Ringing in the New Year – Out & About in Milwaukee with Good Friends!

Upon returning from Ohio in time to watch my Clemson Tigers beat Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl (yes, my priorities are a bit odd!), I found myself preparing for a visit from my dear friend Dana. Dana has been mentioned here (actually, she wrote that post!), here, and here. ¬†She was driving in from Michigan the morning after I arrived back home, and planned to spend a few days in Milwaukee over the New Year’s week.

Dana is a wonderful and curious traveler, so she suggested several local things to try. ¬†Before I get into how Dana and I ate our way through New Year’s week, I’ll share a few pictures of the other things we saw and did.

First, Dana needed her Bloody Mary from AJ Bombers!

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I’ve mentioned AJ’s before…

Then, on to the¬†Pabst Brewing Company…Not a traditional brewing process tour, but rich in history and quite interesting, in my opinion.

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IMG_1127[1]Though the tour doesn’t focus on the process of brewing beer, you still get to enjoy beer during the tour. ¬†Plus, this facility has a wonderful and intimate space in which to host weddings, parties and other celebrations.

Lakefront Brewery… My neighbor, and friend, Andrew also joined us for LFB and dinner later.

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(pro tip: The fried cheese curds are fantastic! The Beer Hall Wheat Ale batter is light and crispy…this is the only way I’ll eat cheese curds, and I’m not generally a big fan of fried foods!)

The Old German Beer Hall… Dana’s pick for dinner on the evening of her arrival.

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After all we had munched on at Lakefront Brewery, we were not as hungry as we thought we might be. Total bummer, because the German menu seemed to have real promise!

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We did polish off the Hofbräuhaus Brotzeitteller, which consisted of classic beer hall style bread, meat & cheese board, a 10oz pretzel, Rye bread & Obatzter with (local) Usinger deli meats, Swiss cheese, beer radish, and pickles. A great appetizer to pick at Рa lot of variety, and very good food!

We may have polished off a few beers as well. ¬†My choice… the¬†Hofbr√§u Delikator – ‚ÄúDopplebock‚ÄĚ – actually, that was our server’s choice, and it was quite tasty!

Now…on to the main culinary events!

New Year’s Eve at Kanpai Izakaya… I made reservations for the five course dinner special. ¬†$59 / person, for fresh sushi, sashimi, and wine/Saki pairing? ¬†Yes, please!

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Courses one and two: Lobster Miso Soup and House Salad. ¬†The addition of lobster meat to the soup…brilliant!

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Hamachi Ponzu appetizer (course three).

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Course 4: The “OMG” roll as it cooks. The roll has shrimp tempura, avocado, eel, shrimp, spicy and wasabi aiolis, and is served flaming under the fire of burning rum. ¬†The resulting taste is of a delicious grilled sushi roll.

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Everyone at the table enjoyed this roll immensely, as do I!

The Chef’s Choice sashimi plate was the final delivery. ¬†Please allow me to say that, OMG, this was amazing!!

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If I had a proper camera, this plate would have looked even better. ¬†However, even with a phone camera, I hope you see just how beautiful all of the seafood looks! ¬†This lovely plates hosts a party of Crab, White Tuna, Yellow Finned Tuna, Salmon, and Talapia (the chefs were advised that Scallops were off-limits for this gal). ¬†I’m not even kidding when I say that the fish melted in my mouth – and, the Yellow Finned¬†Tuna was my favorite, by far!

I’ve always enjoyed the food and service at Kanpai, but I think they managed to (somehow!) step up their game on NYE! And, Mary, thanks for wonderful service – always with a smile!

Kanpai was a great start to our NYE outing!  We then walked over to Cafe Benelux for a drink, and ultimately cabbed back to East Town to enjoy acoustic music (very good acoustic music!) at The County Clare.

The County Clare was busy, but not overly crowded.  Dana, Andrew and I had a great time just chatting, listening to the music, and watching folks (overly) enjoy their evenings.  We also thoroughly enjoyed the complimentary bottle of champagne The County Clare provided just prior to midnight! What a wonderful way to ring in 2015!

It was difficult to get a good photo with the lighting, but you see the "a hundred thousand welcomes" (céad míle fáilte)!

It was difficult to get a good photo with the lighting, but you see the “a hundred thousand welcomes” (c√©ad m√≠le f√°ilte)!

And…then came the After, After Party at GoodKind.

After having heard about GoodKind¬†from a colleague, and reading about it being one of the top 21 new restaurants in the US, I decided we should make reservations for the After, After Party Brunch on New Year’s Day. We had a lazy morning and then headed over to GoodKind¬†in Bay View with my friend Katie in tow as well. ¬† We walked into an inviting atmosphere, busy with other brunchers!

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This was the inaugural brunch at GoodKind, so nobody, including the staff, knew exactly what to expect!

After reviewing the day’s menu, I knew I couldn’t decide (except to eliminate the Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly served with a Maple Buttermilk Cake. ¬†I LOVE pork belly, but there is no way anyone will get me to eat anything maple-flavored!) ¬†Everything else was fair game.

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Our server, Caitlin, advised us that most tables had been ordering tapas style and sharing dishes, so we decided to do the same.  We took a few recommendations from Caitlin, and I asked her to choose an additional dish to surprise us.

We started by sharing a bottle of wine.  This Ramon Bilbao Rioja was rich in flavor and definitely improved as it sat.

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We then ordered:

Polenta Madame with hometown ham, goat cheese curds and fried egg.  What an extraordinary and savory delight!!

Polenta Madame

Polenta Madame

The Pork Cheek Donut – it’s just like it sounds…a sugary donut filled with tender pork cheek and served over a chocolate raspberry sauce. ¬†I LOVED the concept here, but I think the sweet overpowered the savory a bit. ¬†I would have loved to have a bit more pork in each bite. ¬†However, if you have a sweet tooth, this dish may be the one for you!

IMG_1144[1]The aforementioned Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake was highly recommended by our server, so we did order that dish,  After being assured by my friends that the pork did not have a maple flavor, I gave it a try.  As it should be, the meat was very tender, if a bit high in fat content.

Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake

Smoked Rotisserie Pork Belly with Maple Buttermilk Cake

And, Caitlin’s choice for us was the Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding with frisee, tarragon and lemon vinaigrette. ¬†I thoroughly enjoyed¬†this dish too! ¬†The crab meat was not overpowering, but what a rich flavor! ¬†I loved having a serving of savory bread pudding for brunch! ¬†And, the frisee with lemon vinaigrette…so light and fresh!

Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding

Dungeoness Crab Bread Pudding

As if my friends and I hadn’t tasted enough goodness at GoodKind, Dana made the executive decision to order each of the two desserts that were being offered that day! ¬†I don’t recall what GoodKind¬†named these desserts, but one was Door County¬†cherry tart with whipped cream and anise sprinkles, and the other was chocolate cake, topped with chocolate mousse and brittle bites.

Door County cherry tart

Door County cherry tart

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Chocolate mousse cake

We enjoyed both desserts, although the chocolate cake was deemed a bit too rich for my rookie friends!  (I, on the other hand, thought it was super tasty!).

I think the menu at GoodKind, being so unique, may seem a bit intimidating to some people. ¬†I encourage anyone who has the opportunity to take the leap of faith and to dine at GoodKind, knowing you’ll have great flavors served up!

GoodKind¬†will begin regular Sunday brunches this month, and I hope locals and visitors give it a try! ¬†If you’re into sushi, sashimi and the like, I really suggest Kanpai¬†in the Third Ward. ¬†Neither my guests nor I have ever been disappointed there. ¬†And, for¬† local fare that is not fancy, but is just good, AJ Bombers, the Old German Beer Hall, and Lakefront Brewery¬†are great local options.

I hope you enjoyed our tour of Milwaukee over the past few days!

Happy new year!

Cheers!

Ker

Tailgating Together: Welcome, Louisville. The ACC, and Clemson in particular, welcomes you!

While not a true “She Ordered What?” experience, I did have some terrific tailgate food on my trip to Clemson last weekend! But, let’s face it, I just want to take a little time to boast on my weekend in Clemson and show my pride for my Alma Mater!

For my first Clemson game of the season, my friends and I decided to join up for “family weekend” when the Louisville Cardinals visited Death Valley for the first time as ACC foes.

I want to commend the Cards fans for showing up in spades for the game.  There were a lot of red jerseys, shirts, etc, and a lot of Cardinals pride on campus last weekend.  We had some Cards fans in the lot in which we tailgated, and they were as lovely as Clemson fans are notoriously known to be!  Gracious and polite folks.

Speaking of gracious and polite, here is a photo of my friend and game weekend hostess, Cindy.

Pink Twins!

Pink Twins!

 

I took this shot on Friday night at my friends’ Cindy and Alan’s house. ¬†We were preparing some of the fixin’s for the next day.

 

BBQ and bourbon!  It's how tailgating is done in the south.

BBQ and bourbon! It’s how tailgating is done in the south.

 

I had offered up over Twitter to cook while Cindy led her “Gypsy Life” (commuting between Hilton Head (the job) and Spartanburg (the house and hubby)) and Alan recovered from preparing a home to sell. ¬†Our friend Dennis offered to pick up steaks to grill – and, a plan was hatched! ¬†Until, I bailed on my end. ¬†(sort of)

After Alan graciously picked me up at the airport, he and I stopped¬†at the market on the way back to the house.¬†I bought some pre-made salad (weak!), green beans (which we forgot to make!), Golden Delicious apples for my “favorite snack recipe“, baked potatoes, and a couple of other treats for the weekend (hello – jalapeno artichoke dip!!!).

Dennis had already arrived at the house by the time Alan and I were heading back.  When we got back, it was quickly decided that more booze just might be required Рnamely bourbon. Dennis is a bourbon aficionado (aka: polite snob), so I was happy to send the men to the liquor store while I took a nap!  And, they did well!  Woodford Reserve found its way back to the counter.

Our steak dinner on Friday night was fantastic! ¬†I was so wrapped up in enjoying time with my friends that I didn’t take any pictures – but, trust me, it was delicious!

And, on Saturday, we had a great time, beginning at ~8AM (may or may not have been a bit later than planned (read: was later than planned, but I will not publicly disclose why)). ¬†Our tailgate spot consisted of a tent, some chairs, a couple of tables, loads of food, and one really relaxed “Southern Gent”…

Alan is looking quite relaxed!

Alan is looking quite relaxed!

As evidenced above, Cindy had ensured we had Southern style pulled pork, brisket and Calabash chicken, which we shared with our tailgate neighbors.  SO GOOD!!  We also had a plethora of side dishes and snacks (again, I was remiss in taking photographs).

Then, came game time… My favorite college roommate, Bill, came by our tailgate area and offered up tickets to the West End Zone Club (catered suites with a private bar (which, after that game, I OWE HIM!!)).

 

This gives a perspective as to our vantage point during the game.

This gives a perspective as to our vantage point during the game.

West Zone Club

West Zone Club

 

In response to comments from Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino, Clemson fans were “#ClemsonLOUD” from start to finish. ¬†The atmosphere was incredible, as Clemson always is!

Pregame festivities.

Pregame festivities.

Though there were certainly some negatives to the day (losing our QB1 for several weeks, botched plays, etc), the positives far outweighed those negatives, and ultimately, the Tigers pulled off the win!  And, I would find myself without a voice for two days following that game!

Fans headed for the Gathering at the Paw - a Clemson post-game ritual.

Fans headed for the Gathering at the Paw – a Clemson post-game ritual.

Win or lose, Clemson fans have a tradition of “Gathering at the Paw” to sing the Alma Mater and show our Clemson pride!

Another wonderful weekend of fun, friends, and football in the books! ¬†And, to those friends with whom I wasn’t able to meet up, hopefully in November!

Cheers!

Ker

“Powered by Bacon” – Bacon Bros. Public House, Greenville, SC

It’s taken me a week to write this post, and it’s a shame, because this meal was one of the most wonderful surprises I’ve had in a long time! I was back in South Carolina to visit with friends and to see my Clemson Tigers win their sixth game of the season, and we decided to grab lunch in Greenville after I landed at GSP! It was my choice – uh oh! So, I turned directly to the Yelp! app on my iPhone.

I scrolled through the list a bit, and one name stuck out to me – Bacon Bros. Public House. I’m not going to lie…it stuck out because so many of my friends, and in particular the guys I was to be meeting up with the next day, are bacon fanatics! (hashtag #BACON)

I knew that the restaurant’s name alone would inflict a little pang of jealousy! Aside from that, this fairly new establishment averaged 4.5 stars and had some very positive reviews. My friend Cindy, who was my hostess, taxi driver, and friend extraordinaire, was all in for Bacon Bros., so we headed in that direction. We were meeting up with our friend Greg for lunch on Friday since we weren’t sure if we’d be able to meet up at our tailgate the next day (Greg is a reporter for Clemson and has a pesky job that gets in the way of tailgate fun). ūüėČ

We found Bacon Bros. Public House in a small strip mall. We would soon discover that this is a hidden gem on Pelham Road!

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We waited for a few minutes for an outside table, and for Greg to arrive. As we waited, I was able to check out a bit of the restaurant’s atmosphere. The meat locker immediately caught my eye.

Bacon Bros Meat Locker

Bacon Bros Meat Locker

It was nice to be able to see the (locally sourced!) pork, beef, etc that would be served up. Not that I’m generally suspicious of restaurants, but transparency like that really inspires confidence in my mind.

I’d also like to give shout-out to the beautiful sink in the ladies’ room. I didn’t take a picture, but it was a very nice sink/faucet.

When we sat down, we were warmly greeted by a gentleman who poured us water. His voice was so calm and sweet that I found myself (somewhat jokingly) asking him to sit down and join us! He politely declined, since he was at work, but he clearly had a good sense of humor about it.

We were then greeted by yet another gentleman (hey, this is the south, y’all!) who “threatened” to sit down and join Cindy and me if Greg didn’t show up soon.¬†Greg did show¬†up just moments later.

In the meantime, at my request, a third gentleman, in the form of our server, Tanner, chose a red beer for me. From start to finish, Tanner proved to be a really engaging and attentive server. He added to the overall experience in a very positive way.

Boont Amber Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co)

Boont Amber Ale (Anderson Valley Brewing Co)

He then chose my lunch. Tanner was very cool about the whole process – not a single flinch. It was clear that he and the other gentlemen that work at Bacon Bros. not only know the menu well, but are confident in the food that’s being served.

Tanner chose what he called the sandwich that “is becoming our signature sandwich” – the B.E.T., with a side of Farro Verde.

The B.E.T. and Farro Verde

The B.E.T. and Farro Verde

Y’all, this sandwich…maybe it should be called the O.M.G. instead of the B.E.T.! The sandwich consisted of pork belly pastrami, Swiss cheese, fried duck egg, green peppercorn mayo, arugula, and yellow tomato. A fantastic combination – and expertly prepared! Note: the sandwich can get a little messy due to the runny egg yolk, but it’s worth a little finger licking to clean up!

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A close up of the B.E.T. and Farro Verde

The side is definitely not one I would have picked out on my own since it’s centered around boiled peanuts – a snack I never really developed a taste for when I lived in SC. I’m here to tell you that when boiled peanuts are mixed with field peas, tomatoes, and hominy, they are DELICIOUS!

Cindy and Greg were more than happy with their respective choices as well. Cindy chose a burger and onion rings (perfectly battered), and Greg chose the Pulled Pork Shoulder (served with waffles that have country ham in the batter!).

And, I couldn’t resist taking a piece (or two – Bacon Bros.¬†recently increased their dessert portions – the one thing about this restaurant that I would change – revert back to smaller servings of sweets) of Orange Dreamsicle pound cake home.

Orange Dreamsicle Pound Cake (top), burger (left), Pulled Pork Shoulder (right)

Orange Dreamsicle Pound Cake (top), burger (left), Pulled Pork Shoulder (right)

I didn’t end up eating the pound cake until Sunday, and by then it was more dry than I would have liked. However, the flavor was very good – not too overwhelming with the citrus, but light and tasty.

So, in addition to being amongst great company, Bacon Bros. Public House offered fantastic service, a unique and comfortable atmosphere, and spectacular Southern style food. We all agreed that it’s a place to go back and visit.

Note to self: next time, I’m going to get one of those “Powered By Bacon” t-shirts! I should have picked one up last weekend.

And, through Twitter, I learned that my colleagues in the Greenville area had also recently discovered Bacon Bros. and frequently visit for lunch. They had been holding out on me!!!

Because this trip was planned around meeting up with good friends to see my Clemson Tigers play, here are a couple of pictures from campus.

L-R, CC: The guns!, beer and egg rolls, Shorter Porter (Frankly Good Beer Co), and my college roommate, Bill and me.

L-R, CC: The guns!, beer and egg rolls, Shorter Porter (Frankly Good Beer Co), and my college roommate, Bill and me.

It was a wonderful weekend – as time in South Carolina always is! If you’re in the Greenville area, I highly suggest finding time to make it to Bacon Bros. Public House. Have you been? What was your favorite Southern style dish?

Cheers!

Ker

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