Archive for the tag “birthday dinner”

Odd Duck – An odd’s on favorite in Milwaukee

Last week, my parents were in town to help me with “elderly dog care” while I was booked from day til night with business meetings.  They spent the days in my apartment downtown, only venturing out a couple blocks or two (due to weather and because they were uber-productive at home!).  Mom cleaned my place from top to bottom (including all of the dogs’ toys) and finished all of my laundry for me.  I didn’t ask her to do so, but I was appreciative of her help.  And, dad took care of early morning dog duties as well as running errands.  Oh, and bankrolling our few meals out!  🙂

It wasn’t until later in the week that I would be able to spend quality time with my parents, and on Thursday evening I relied on Yelp! for a recommendation on Mexican food.  Let’s just say, it was a bust.  Not that the food was terrible, but it certainly wasn’t 4 or 5 star rating worthy.  So, when mom informed me that they wanted to take me out for an early birthday dinner (I gracefully age another year on March 17) on Friday, I wanted to make sure to have a good dinner.  I researched a bit that Thursday evening, but ultimately didn’t decide on a locale until Friday afternoon.

Way to go, Ker.  Not good for reservations!

I called Odd Duck, which has been an ongoing recommendation from a coworker and friend for months, and they had one 5PM reservation available.  Mom and dad were totally cool with that. It was 6PM their time, and they had been on a breakfast and dinner only schedule, so eating early was perfect.  Since I was quite under the weather, getting home early was actually appealing to me too!

So, off we went to see what Odd Duck was all about…Nestled in the lovely neighborhood known as Bay View, Odd Duck is a small restaurant overloaded with character.The menu was diverse and reasonably priced.

image_2

Odd Duck Kitchen

Odd Duck Kitchen

Our server, India, came over to greet us and to ask about our drink order. At this point, I told my parents “screw this cold, I’m having wine tonight!”.  When I advised India that I’d have her choose my meal and asked her to bring a glass of wine to complement it, she gave an affirmative nod of her head and simply asked if anything was off-limits.  Just the scallops (and later, i would determine that the maple vinaigrette would not have made my cut).  So, off India went.

India returned with a glass of Portuguese red wine for me, it was so new it isn’t even on the drink menu online.  She suggested that it is a very versatile wine and she thought it would complement her (still secret) entrée choice for me.  Then, wisely, India asked if we’d like to try one of Odd Duck‘s awesome cheese plates.  She and my dad collaborated on choosing five cheeses, including: Hook’s 5 Year Cheddar, Roth Kase Buttermilk Blue Affinee, and Izar-Gazta Raw Milk Idiazaba amongst a couple of others that escape me now but were delicious.  This was the perfect savory start to our meal – not too much food, but a variety of things to nibble on as we enjoyed the atmosphere.

image_3

As we finished up the cheese plate, my dad’s mushroom salad arrived.  It looked wonderful, and he devoured it so I think it’s safe to say it was a very good, earthy-flavored salad!

image_2

My parents were in awe of the crustini as well.  So thin and delicate!

Mom and I ordered another glass of wine (come on, that’s what we Kilbourne women do!) to be delivered with our entrées, which would be coming momentarily.

Mom had ordered a Korean BBQ style pork dish – which was a departure for her, for sure. Let me just tell you how that egg yolk perplexed her!  She finally gave in and broke the yolk to give the rice a better texture.  Aside from the bite of the Kimchi and the pickled pears, she thoroughly enjoyed it!  (mom doesn’t like spicy food) It had great flavor – we all shared bites of our dishes with each other.

image_1

 

Dad ordered the braised short rib beef stroganoff, which also looked and tasted exceptional!  And, the portions were not overwhelming.

image_4

And, India had chosen the “Duck times two” as I dubbed it.  In fact, it’s much more sophisticated than that by the restaurant’s description: seared duck breast over bread pudding with a cranberry gastrique and handmade (duck) sausage over confit. It was a simple dish, but expertly prepared and very flavorful, yet not “gamey”.  The seared duck and bread pudding were my favorite components of this dish.

duck

Again, the portions were just right, allowing us entertain the idea of having dessert.  As soon as India mentioned sorbet, I knew what my dad would be ordering.  Odd Duck was featuring Concord Grape sorbet – something I had never heard of before!  I opted for the lemon-ginger creme brûlée.  Mom insisted that she didn’t want dessert.

Funny, because that third spoon India brought “for sharing” sure was put to good use by Pamcakes!  She enjoyed the sorbet, but she could not get enough of the creme brûlée!  Both desserts hit the spot – for all of us.

image

From beginning to end, my family enjoyed our first experience at Odd Duck.  And, I’m pretty sure the wine mom and I had comprised half the bill!  It’s an affordable place with exquisite food that is not pretentious or intimidating.

As I gazed at the crowd as we were leaving, I saw a young demographic swaying more toward the hipsters’ scene than anything else.  Casual and comfortable sums up my experience.

To India, thank you for making my early birthday dinner delightful.  You know your stuff, and you are a really pleasant server.  Hope to see you and the Odd Duck gang again soon.

Cheers!

Ker

Ich Liebe Der Braumeister (Cleveland, OH)

As a little bit of background, my uncle Jim (mom’s brother) is ex-Air Force (God bless our military!), and was stationed in Germany for five years in the eighties.  I was fortunate enough to go over and visit him with my grandmother when I was a child, and I know that he really enjoyed a lot of things about Germany – especially the food!  Jim is tall and lean, but he sure can pack away some food!

So, earlier this week, when his sixtieth birthday came about, Jim came to Ohio to visit, and my parents made reservations at a local German restaurant to honor Jim as he entered into his sixth decade.  My parents, my brother, my mom’s/Jim’s cousin and her husband, and I were to feast on German fare on the west side of Cleveland.

As many of you have read in my tweets, my mom broke her leg earlier this week, so she wasn’t able to join us.  But, she insisted that we go out and celebrate properly with Jim. So…we did!

We arrived at Der Braumeister, a bar that is named top twenty in the nation by Men’s Health magazine, at 7PM on Friday night.

Der Braumeister – at the corner of Lorain Ave and 131st St.

It’s the best looking building in the neighborhood – which doesn’t actually say much, but it IS a charming place!

We met our cousins at the bar, and were promptly seated at a large table in the next room.  We perused the beer list and the menu, and I instantly knew that I would have our server choose for me.  Our server was Kelsey, and she was a firecracker, but more about her later!

(don’t worry…we all ADORED her!!)

From front left, clockwise: Adam (brother), Jim (uncle), Terry (dad), Mike (cousin), Sandy (cousin) – and, me behind the camera…my preferred position!

Shortly thereafter, I handed Kelsey a “She Ordered What?!?” card and asked her to surprise me.  She seemed a bit confused, but then went with it – until she didn’t!  😉

She came back a few minutes later and told me what she planned to serve me, and wanted to make sure it was okay.  After I joked with her that she had ruined the surprise, she quickly stepped up and said she would change the order and surprise me.

In the meantime, we shared appetizers…crab-stuffed mushroom caps and sauerkraut balls – both really delicious!  Along with amazingly light and fresh bread.

Appetizers (after I had already started digging in!)

Sauerkraut balls and crab-stuffed mushroom cap appetizers

Then, came soups and salads.  Now, the salads created quite the comedic theme throughout the night.  I’m hoping this isn’t a “you had to be there” anecdote, but it may be.  Uncle Jim (birthday “boy”) was asked what kind of dressing he’d like on his salad.

His response: honey mustard.

Kelsey’s response (without skipping a beat): we have poppy-seed.

WTH??  She said it as though poppy-seed were a close alternative to honey mustard – not so much, Kelsey!  She realized it later, and admitted to having felt pretty stupid about it. This was a joke that continued throughout the course of our evening. Mind you, Kelsey is very animated and has a killer sense of humor – I wished I had caught her on video throughout the night!

While my family ate their salads, I was served a cup of German potato soup.  It looked like apple sauce; it had that texture (small bites of potato, rather than large chunks), but it tasted like the bacon-y potato soup that it was.  It was quite tasty.

German Potato Soup

Then, for dinner, Kelsey had promised me she was ordering her personal favorite dish.  We all tried something different at the table, and unanimously agreed that the dinners were fantastic and very authentic. I was able to get through almost half of my plateful of Hungarian Style Goulash (tender pieces of beef simmered with green pepper and tomato in a thick gravy and served over spaetzle).  The meat fell apart on the fork – it was that tender!  The vegetables gave a great flavor and texture to the gravy, and the spaetzle were perfectly crispy and tender at the same time. I was more than happy to have the leftovers packaged up to go.

Hungarian Style Goulash

Initially, I wasn’t going to have dessert (because I was comfortably full), but Kelsey sold us on a few items.  My cousin’s husband had the Bavarian creme torte, she had the apple Strudel, my uncle tried the cherry Strudel, and I had Kelsey choose. She had earlier mentioned that the apple Strudel was her favorite, so we were all expecting her to bring me that. However, Kelsey pulled a fast one on me!  She brought me the MOST. DELICIOUS. GERMAN. CHOCOLATE. TORTE. EVER MADE!!!!!

The German Chocolate Torte

To me, the torte was very reminiscent of Tiramisu – a fave of mine (even though I typically loathe anything related to coffee!).  It had a mousse-like filling, and the cake part of it was very moist and light (like the delicious, but ick – espresso, did I mention I hate espresso – soaked lady-fingers in Tiramisu).  I had everyone take a bite (dad dutifully had 3 – one for him, one for Adam (gluten-intolerant, poor bro!), and one for mom (aforementioned hospital patient)), and then I finished the rest of the slice off.  It was THAT GOOD!  I also told my dad that we need to have Katie (from this post) learn how to make this – and ration it out to me so I can enjoy the cake, but ensure that I don’t gain 400 hundred pounds!

It was such a great evening, and my uncle thoroughly enjoyed his meal <– That was the most important part for all of us!

As we were wrapping up, my dad asked if I had explained my blog concept to Kelsey.  Aside from the “She Ordered What?!?” card, I had not.  So, he started to tell her about it, and this was her reaction:

As I mentioned earlier, our entire family ADORED Kelsey.  She rolled with the punches, and also punched right back!  An absolute delight of a server at Der Braumeister.  If you’re in Cleveland, and looking for a beer, a small front patio, fun (and good) service, and/or GREAT German food, please swing by.  We all really enjoyed our first experience there very much.  Sehr Gut!

Auf wiedersehen,

Ker

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: