Archive for the category “Steak house”

Superior Service & Delicious Dining at Urban Farmer, Cleveland, OH

Over Labor Day weekend, I visited my family in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. As is our routine, my brother chose a few restaurants for me to pick from. Our family always enjoys a meal out when I visit. Lately, we’ve been trying to head into the city to try some new places (new to our family, anyhow).

This time, one of the restaurants on Adam’s list was Urban Farmer Steakhouse in downtown Cleveland. It only took me seeing that this is a farm-to-table concept restaurant to decide it was the one I was voting to check out. (You probably know of my love for farm-to-table, and specifically Braise here in Milwaukee.)

Urban Farmer

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We entered the rustic, yet elegant restaurant, adjacent to the Westin Hotel, and sat down in a cozy rounded booth. We were greeted by our server, Ashley. Now, I’m just going to say this right now: Ashley is quite possibly the most knowledgeable and impressive servers I have ever encountered. Absolutely top-notch. More on that later.

Ashley walked us through the concept described above – two kitchens (one for cooking, and one with a butchery and bakery), a below-level garden which supplies most of the herbs and vegetables for the restaurant, the relationships with local farms, etc. Then, she walked us through the different cuts of meat, the differences in how the cattle were raised and the impact of their diets on the flavors of the steaks, and the differences in how they are aged to affect tenderness and flavor. Ashley didn’t require any cheat sheets, and she made everyone feel comfortable (and impressed!). On top of her knowledge, she wasn’t the least bit stuffy or dry; she let her sense of humor come through as she inserted jokes and color commentary during her descriptions (“don’t mess with my meat” – she doesn’t believe in sauces or toppings).

When I gave her my card and advised her that she would be choosing my meal, she asked “seriously?”. Yes. “Okay, I know what I’m serving you!” – without hesitation. These are the types of meals I get really excited about because I know the server is going to choose really well.

We opted to get a few side dishes, which Ashley recommended sharing between two or three people. Ashley chose mine as well.

As it turns, out my entire dinner was shared. By far the best entree at our table; the vote was unanimous. That being said, everyone was very pleased with his/her meals.

So, what did Ashley choose, you ask? Wait no longer…

We started off with fresh baked bread (rolls and ah-mazing cast-iron cooked cornbread) and salted butter (which makes all the difference, in my opinion!). Ashley chose the special salad for me: yellow watermelon over Burrata and topped with olives, tomatoes, balsamic and served with two slices of prosciutto. It was light and flavorful – a nice change up to one of my other favorite watermelon salads (watermelon with goat cheese, balsamic and greens and herbs). We were off to a great start!

Next came the entree and side dish.

Wanting to share her favorite with me, Ashley chose the 14 ounce (FOURTEEN OUNCE!!) twenty-one day dry aged bone-in strip steak. It was perfection! Luckily, everyone at the table wanted to try this cut, so I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed or as though I’d have to try to finish it on my own. The plate was clean by the end of the meal though! The steak was really tender and had terrific flavor. It’s a spoiler for any other cut moving forward.

Ashley chose to bring foraged mushrooms as the side. A very nice compliment to the steak, and enough to feed at least four people! At the table we also ordered: potato puree (though my brother wouldn’t share!), asparagus (with cured farm egg yolk and chili), and twice-baked fingerling potato tart with bacon and aged cheddar. Everything was delicious!

Pro tip: you won’t go home hungry from Urban Farmer Steakhouse. Bring an appetite! 

Ashley asked if she should choose a dessert for me. Where to put it?!? Ultimately, since there was a gluten-free option for my brother and my uncle, my parents and I decided to share whatever Ashley decided to bring so we would all enjoy a bit of decadence.

My brother and uncle tried the lemon olive oil cake with kale ice cream (it’s much better than it sounds!), and pepper crisps.

If I were choosing my own, I’d have either gone for the lemon cake or the strawberry rhubarb cobbler with pistachio, buttermilk frozen yogurt and basil, because I generally like citrus or fruit desserts more than chocolate (but, not always!).

However, I was in the most capable hands, and I knew it! Ashley chose the butterscotch sundae with a warm brown butter blondie and toffee chip ice cream. AKA: heaven in a jar!

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Butterscotch sundae with warm brown butter blondie and toffee ice cream

My parents and I kept passing this jar around, taking one delicious bite at a time. The brownie and ice cream were melting into each other, combining incredible flavors together.

While we all walked out of Urban Farmer Steakhouse absolutely full, we walked out feeling like we had just had one of the best meals in a long time. And, we all agreed that Ashley set the bar for outstanding service! In fact, my uncle made it a point to seek her out so he could inform her that she was so impressive that she truly did elevate our experience that evening.

I definitely recommend a visit to Urban Farmer Steakhouse if you’re in Cleveland. I’d love to go back and take a tour of the kitchens and garden  (if the management allows it). Of course, I’d have to stay for dinner again! 🙂

What is your most memorable dining experience? Where were you? I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers!

Ker

Sweetphi’s Date Night at Jackson’s Grill, Milwaukee, WI

I am so excited to be guest posting here on Kerri’s wonderful blog. I’ve been such a fan of her blog and the unique concept behind She Ordered What (whenever I’m at a restaurant and can’t decide what to get, I always use Kerri’s fearless method and ask the server to choose for me…but obviously with less grace than when Kerri does it, because I just get weird looks, so big props to her!)

Ker here: I get weird looks too, Phi!  The card usually helps to explain more clearly than I can do in the moment!  

I met Kerri over a year ago and have truly loved getting to know her and spend time with her. You may have seen my name pop up on She Ordered What a few times (see here, here, and here), but for those of you that may not know me, my name is Philia (Phi for short) and I have a food blog called the Sweetphi blog where I share simple, sweet & savory recipes and love to share how delicious food doesn’t have to have a bazillion ingredients or take hours to make in order for it to be great!

Ker again: Phi’s blog is so aptly titled – she is the sweetest woman!  It was love at first bite!  (we met for dinner with another local food blogger last year).  ❤

But truth is, even though I love to cook, I love to dine out too! There’s something truly great about picking something off a menu, having it brought to you, and then when you’re done enjoying your food you can just leave (I mean, obviously you have to pay or there would be problems) and you leave the mess for someone else to clean up. That, in and of itself is enough to send me to a restaurant, especially since I’ve been so busy lately that my kitchen is looking neglected and like I have a reoccurring tornado staying with us.

And by ‘us’ I mean my hubby and I!

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So this week when he suggested going on a date night I whole heartedly agreed. We decided to go to Jackson’s Grill a lovely supper club in Milwaukee, about a mile away from Miller Park.

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I had heard of supper clubs being a ‘thing’ in Milwaukee, but had never been to one and wasn’t quite sure what they were, so I was happy when I heard the waitress telling a table over from us that they were a supper club and that meant the establishment only served supper…seems like a pretty cool concept if you ask me.

As soon as we entered, it felt like we were transported back in time. The beige décor, antique fixtures and the lingering smell of food, all made for a very welcoming environment, not to mention the gorgeous mahogany ‘old school’ bar one had to walk around to get to the restaurant portion. We were sat immediately, and our server mentioned that they had a wine list, but that they made a really good Old Fashioned.

Old Fashioneds happen to be one of my hubby’s favorite drinks, and not wanting to be left out, I ordered one as well. The server did not lie; they made a really good Old Fashioned. They were HUGE too!

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For starters we had a cheese plate.

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I just can’t resist a cheese plate, and this one did not disappoint. Besides the selection of cheeses, there were spiced pistachios and wonderful cherry compote.

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After our cheese plate arrived, we ordered. I told the server what I was doing (having her order for me) and she played along, just asking what doneness level I liked my meat.

Our meal came with soups or salad to start, and both my husband and I got soup. The server picked a seasonal butternut squash soup for me, and my husband got the seafood bisque. While I did enjoy the seasonality of the butternut squash soup (it had brown butter drizzled on top and slivered almonds) it was a bit heavy for my taste. My husband’s seafood bisque on the other hand…that I would order time and time again, it was absolutely delicious!

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We then received our dinners and I was happy to see that the server had chosen the same dinner for me as my husband had, just a smaller portion and a different side. My husband got the 10oz Black Angus Filet Mignon al a Portobello with garlic mashed potatoes, and I got the 6oz Black Angus Filet Mignon al a Portobello with mac and cheese.

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The steak…oh my goodness…the steak was so good, some of the best I’ve ever had! It was resting on the plate under a Portobello cap and with every bite luscious juices would ooze out (am I the only one that likes to dredge bread through the steak juices? You should try it…it’s so good!) As we ate, the chef came out and went around the entire dining room asking how everyone’s food was – I heard only glowing reviews from the other diners, and had one to add myself (although I did have a giant bite of food in my mouth so my response was just a nod.)

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We finished off our dinner with a dessert I’d never had: Bananas Foster. I’d go back to Jackson’s Grill for this dessert alone. Warm bananas in a caramel sauce topped with vanilla ice cream. My husband got a little glass of port that accompanied dessert. It was the perfect finish to our meal.

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I would also like to note that the entire meal: Cheese plate, soup, steak, dessert, took only an hour in its entirety. What a lovely little supper club that I’m sure I’ll be going to again!

After doing this I have 1 question for Kerri – how do you do it? How do you take pictures with such ease in dark restaurants and make them look good? So many props to you and your wonderful blog!

Ker again… Phi, my blogging / photo best friend has become Snapseed! Here’s the link to the iPhone and to Android app.  It’s so easy, even when I take photos without flash, to correct the images so they properly represent the food I’ve actually received (even in dark spots!).  

If you’d like to connect with me, you can find me on twitter (@sweetphi), Instagram (PhiliaKelnhofer), or on Facebook (SweetphiBlog).

Thanks for having me on your blog Kerri!

Thank YOU, Phi for sharing your wonderful and romantic (Nick is a gem of a guy!) experience in adventuresome dining!  I could NEVER pull off an incredible blog like yours, but I certainly can learn from it!  I’m flattered that you spent time offering to contribute to SOW.  Thank you so much!  

Cheers!

Ker

A weekend with Pops… 24 Grille, Detroit, MI

I’ve been sitting on the content for this post for a while.  Dad and I were going to co-write a post (he is an established writer, after all!), but we both dropped the ball.  As I was going through pictures from my recent trip to Singapore, I rediscovered some of the pictures from my night out with dad several weeks ago, and decided to bite the bullet and write this post.

During the last weekend in October, my mom was going on a road trip with her cousin for the weekend, so dad had free time.  The traveling Vietnam Wall (“The Wall that Heals”) was fortuitously coming to Dearborn, MI, and since my dad is a veteran of the war, I thought he might enjoy (a weekend with his daughter, and) the opportunity to see the wall.

Dad (“TK” to most of my friends), and Molly (my boys’ younger sis) came in midday Saturday.

Molly (on couch), Riley (left floor), and Seamus (right floor)

Molly (on couch), Riley (left floor), and Seamus (right floor)

We needed lunch, so we grabbed a burger at Miller’s Bar (a best in the nation burger <– read about just how “no frills” this join is!), and then headed over to The Henry Ford Museum.  TK LOVES museums, digs cars, gets caught up in history – and mom and I don’t.  That said, The Henry Ford is a cool museum, and I appreciate that Masco (my employer) provides us passes to visit the museum regularly.  I’m also very excited to check out the Lego exhibition that is currently at THF.

Dad, at The Henry Ford

TK, at The Henry Ford

After checking out the museum, we went over to the Ford World Headquarters building to check out The Wall that Heals.  I have to say that Dearborn did not do a tremendous justice to the wall, in that it was set up on sand bags, in the parking lot.  Despite the setup, it IS a moving tribute.  Dad and I located the name of his neighbor and friend, who passed away just past the height of the war, at the tender age of 20.  We talked with volunteers working the memorial and were advised that a permanent memorial is in the works, and that pictures would be appreciated.  We’re hoping someone in the family/friend network can find a picture of dad’s friend.

Dad, standing in front of the panel of The Wall that Heals on which his friend's name is etched.

Dad, standing in front of the panel of The Wall that Heals on which his friend’s name is etched.

After leaving the memorial, dad and I headed downtown to 24 Grille in the Westin.  I had originally wanted to dine at Roast, a Michael Symon restaurant (since he’s a big Cleveland chef and all), but even ten days in advance, I could not get a reservation for a table for two.

I have no regrets in taking the recommendation of a coworker of mine. She told me that 24 Grille is great dining, and less pretentious than Roast.  She made a very sound recommendation.  24 Grille is more of a bar-like atmosphere, which was perfect because we were there during game 3 of the (dreaded) World Series.

Prior to ordering dinner, I had ordered a glass of the 2009 Newton Cabernet (Although this was prior to my vacation, I think Singapore drove home the fact that 2009 Cabs are amongst my faves!), which was quite a nice glass of wine.

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Dad and I both perused the menu, and pretty quickly deduced that we would allow our server, Stephani, to choose our meal.  She was cool about it!  As my notes reflect, her response was “What?!? Okay! Any objection to seafood? A preference for short ribs over steak?”  She tipped her hand a bit, but it was all good to us.  Oh, and I did make one request…I wanted a side dish of the Brussel Sprouts. I know many people don’t like Brussel Sprouts, but both dad and I do really like them.

Shortly thereafter, we were served a basketful of warm deliciousness!  Asiago cheese bread that was incredibly delightful.

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Next came our delectable Brussel Sprouts (huge, flavorful and delicious!)…

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and our meals…

TK’s: Filet Mignon with green peppercorn & ruby red glace de veau, spinach, braised parissiene potato, and herbs.

2012-10-27 19.58.11And my dish: North Atlantic Swordfish with fall corn reduction, autumn relish, and a potato crisp crust.

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TK and I both thoroughly enjoyed our meals.  Thoroughly!  Such flavor in each of our dishes…we each got lost in our dinners.

We allegedly cleaned our plates. 🙂

2012-10-27 20.21.11And, then…dad ordered dessert!  Mind you, his preference for dessert is something light, and if possible, fruit-based.  No triple chocolate decadence for him! Although I might have ordered something different (had I been hungry enough), the trio of gelato he ordered was quite tasty. The plate contained scoops of lemon, chocolate, and peach (as seen below).  I was most partial to the peach, which surprised me!  I typically wouldn’t reach toward peach.  As I recall, TK was most partial to the lemon gelato.

Geez…what a wonderful finish to a spectacular day!

2012-10-27 20.32.46Stephani was sweet enough to take a picture of dad and me at dinner. (check out the caption, and feel free to chime in!)

He says I get my good looks from him...what do y'all think?

He says I get my good looks from him…what do y’all think?

After dinner, TK and I decided to walk downtown for a bit.  We were only approximately 1/2 mile from Comerica Park (a fantastic ballpark (that Detroiters call a stadium – grrr…it’s a ballpark, not a stadium!)), so we walked in that direction and checked out the incredible energy surrounding the Detroit Tigers in their quest to win an MLB title in 2012.  Dad was amazed at the number of people out in the streets, at the infrastructure in the city (the People Mover), and the bars/restaurants in the area.  Clearly, news of the “good stuff” in Detroit has still not made it outside of the city limits.

Dad’s words were something like “Why do people say Detroit has nothing to offer, this city has it all!”

In fact, we have giant Tigers!

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And, lighted baseballs… in Tigers’ mouths!

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Dad also dug the mounted police that were on duty during the World Series.  This poor woman had SO MANY pictures snapped!

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The next morning, we headed back downtown – toward the DIA district – to have breakfast at Good Girls Go To Paris (which I first chronicled here). My dad really enjoys breakfast, but I’m not sure he’d ever choose a crepe place.

To quote Taylor Swift – “like, EVER.”  When all was said and done, he really did enjoy the crepe – we both enjoyed our breakfasts!

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I’m so glad that my dad took the time to visit, share some history, personal experiences, and plain-ol’-simple-QT with me.  In my book, it was a great weekend.  I’m also thrilled that he, an architectural influencer, saw the current delights, as well as the potential, of Detroit.

I’m sorry it took weeks to write this post, because it truly was a lovely weekend with my Pops.

If you’re in Detroit, 24 Grille rates up there in my recommendations!

Cheers!

Ker

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