Archive for the tag “Cleveland”

My Favorite Dining Experiences of 2013…

I wrote about my favorite experiences of 2012 last year, and it has been fun to go back and revisit some of them periodically.  So…I thought I’d make another list for 2013 – the first full year of “She Ordered What?”.

First, let me say that 2013 has been a fantastic year!  I left a job that, to put it nicely, was un-fulfilling, moved to Milwaukee (a city that I am LOVING!), am working for a supervisor I respect – and like, and have coworkers I enjoy (so much so that we opted to spend time together after the holiday party this year).  I am living in downtown Milwaukee, and am thoroughly enjoying metropolitan living (as are my (now 13-year-old) dogs!). I am also traveling a bit more again, allowing for some interesting dining experiences.  For me, change has been very good!

So…I started compiling my top 5 choices of 2013, but the list quickly grew beyond five.  I’ll list my “top 5” and a few honorable mentions – which provided great memories with a bunch of friends and colleagues.

5) Melt Bar and Grilled: This is a bit of a cheat, as I actually posted this on December 28, 2012.  However, I think Melt deserves a mention since the sandwich was so very good!  Full of carbs and comfort, the “Mom’s Meatloaf” grilled cheese was excellent, and very filling!  I did end up having the second half of the sandwich for lunch the next day – and I ate it cold.  It was really delicious as a cold leftover!  I’d also like to thank Melt Bar and Grilled for posting a link to my blog on their website.  I really appreciate the additional traffic!  I’m looking forward to hitting up Melt when I make it back to Ohio next year.

Melt

4) AJ Bombers:  As I mentioned, I had been following AJ Bombers on Twitter ever since I read about their social media program a couple of years ago.  So…when I moved to Milwaukee, I was really excited to walk over and check the place out in person.  After all, the place promises “Happiness, with a side of burgers”.  Not only is the food far better than your average bar food (let’s face it, it’s NOT healthy!), but the Bloody Mary drinks are the best in town – I don’t care what WISN readers say!  Finally, the service is always outstanding – though I tend to favor being a customer of this girl.  😉

AJB

3) Braise: I was introduced to Braise through a local food blogger, Phi, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole dining experience with her and another food blogger, Shanon.  The atmosphere is so cool.  This used to be a bowling alley, and the owners repurposed a lot of the old elements to create a unique and inviting space.  But, the food…is SO good!  The menu is changed up regularly to incorporate the best ingredients, and it’s not an overwhelmingly large menu so one doesn’t have to feel pressure to sift through pages of options, hoping to make the right decision.  I’ve been to Braise several times now, and in my opinion, any decision is a good one!  Also, Braise just opened a second floor bar/lounge area.  I’ll need to check that out!

Braise

2) Bacon Bros. Public House: Another locally sourced restaurant makes the list!  I have Yelp! to thank for introducing my friends and me to this hidden gem.   While visiting South Carolina to see my Clemson Tigers beat Boston College, we stumbled upon Bacon BrosThe food:  the meat is locally sourced, and spectacular, and the side dishes have a definite southern flair to them, but with a new twist.  The service was fantastic.  And, their motto is “Powered by Bacon”!  What’s not to love about this place?

BaconBros

and…the top “She Ordered What?” dining experience of 2013 was…

1) The Publican:  The fact that I drove ~90 miles each way to and from Chicago on a Tuesday night (in traffic and weather) could not even put a damper on this meal!  Our server, whom I mentioned a few times in the post, was very good – and he was totally on board to surprise us that evening.  The food was expertly prepared.  Again, The Publican is a restaurant that sources its ingredients locally – must love that!  All in all, the atmosphere, the service, the food, and the company (Chanda!) were top-notch.  I loved this place that is off the beaten path, so to speak, but may be home to the best meal I’ve had in Chicago (and I’ve had some REALLY good meals there!).  I highly recommend The Publican if you’re looking for an excellent dining experience.  The menu changes up frequently here as well, but here is the selection from which we had to choose.

Publican

Honorable mentions:

I kicked the year off by celebrating a dear friend’s birthday in Detroit.  I was able to meet some of her other wonderful friends, and we just had a fantastic time enjoying a city that tends to be “off-limits” after work or late at night. Detroit does indeed have some safe and fun spots to enjoy “after hours”.

I also enjoyed celebrating my own birthday with friends – in Massachusetts.  My friends gave me a perfectly balanced weekend.  We had fun “out on the town”, enjoyed chilling at home, oh, and we ran a 10K in the middle of it all!  I’m looking forward to seeing this crazy crew when we meet up for our other friends’ wedding in Memphis this February.

Finally, categorize this under the “last, but not least” header… I had some fun times traveling with my new coworkers this year.  We had some really fruitful business trips, but always seemed to sneak in a good meal or two! There was the “first meal in Nola”, the “marathon trip”,  the “French food in Montreal”, the “mussels in Brussels”, and the “pork in Paris”.  We’ve had other dining adventures, but not all warrant a “She Ordered What?” post.

I will say this, I’m grateful for the way my colleagues have embraced me, and I find it refreshing to enjoy having a meal and/or a drink (or two!) with my coworkers. It certainly makes work more enjoyable!

“She Ordered What?”: 2013 by the numbers:

I wrote 22 posts to contribute to the overall number of 83 posts. The readers and I have posted 221 comments to the blog.  There are over 1,800 “She Ordered What?” followers who viewed the blog almost 17,000 times.  And, from all over the world…83 countries, actually (led by the US, Canada and Singapore)!

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Thank you again for your support and readership.  As I mentioned last year, if you would like to write a guest post, please let me know.  I enjoy sharing others’ experiences as well!

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2014!

Cheers!

Ker

What a (2/3 of a ) Year!

Earlier this week, several folks from the Marketing team at work went out for a holiday luncheon. During that lunch (about which, I will soon post),my former boss asked me if I planned on writing a “Top Ten of the Year” post. Honestly, I hadn’t considered writing a year-end post, but I did like the idea.

This post won’t cover a full calendar year, as this particular blog was launched on April 17, 2012. Nor will it be a “Top Ten”, but I think “Top Five” works!

In the eight months since I launched “She Ordered What?!?”, I’ve seen readership grow in numbers and expand across the globe. Additionally, the blog has become the topic of conversation wherever I go! So, first and foremost…THANK YOU ALL!!

I recognize that the fact that SOW is so focused may limit readership a bit, and the recent decline in my business travel has prevented me from writing as many interesting posts as I’d like to write. Yet, I’m thrilled to report that the blog currently has over 1,700 followers! As I mentioned in my interview with Brad Marley earlier this year, I would have been happy if just one or two of my friends took an interest!

Check out how far-reaching SOW has been! (the gray areas are areas of opportunity!)

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When I was in Singapore, I was shocked to find out that my friend Steve had been reading the blog. Not only had he been reading it, but he was incredibly complimentary toward me, and about me, as he explained to his friends why I was always taking pictures at meals. Thank you for your support, Steve.

So, beyond launching the blog, being interviewed for Brad’s blog, and taking a fabulous vacation to Singapore in 2012, I guess should share my favorite memories from the past eight months!

My personal favorites:

5) Chilli crab in Singapore – It was messy, at times frustrating, but thoroughly enjoyable! I really appreciate that Steve made sure we had Chilli crab while I was in Singapore. I also cannot say enough great things about the BEST asparagus – EVER! I mean…look at the photo in this post and tell me you can’t see just how very delicious it was!

2012-11-26 13.36.47

4) Der Braumeister in Cleveland – This dinner was for my uncle Jim’s 60th birthday, and we had excellent food, and an even better server that evening! Kelsey was an absolute trip, as you’ll see in the video I shot that night. If you’re in Cleveland, I recommend checking out Der Braumeister!

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3) The Koh San Road Mac ‘n Cheese in the Greater Detroit area – I still can’t believe someone came up with the idea for Pad Thai mac ‘n cheese! Yet, they did! And, it’s ah-mazing! Every time I see a Facebook update from The Mac Shack, I crave this dish. At some point, I’m pretty sure that I will be able to convince Dan and Lindsay to deliver me a plate, or to Fed Ex one over to me! I also fully anticipate posting a guest post from Dan in 2013! I didn’t pursue it much this year, but I plan to next year! 😉

The Mac Shack Mac n Cheese Surprise

2) It’s a Tria! Ker, Audra, and Alicia – in Dearborn, MI – I think the circumstances of that particular night just lined up such that I had a truly perfect evening just down the parking lot from where I live. The servers were super, and excited about choosing food and wine for me. They loved reading the post after the fact (and I’m told that The Henry Hotel actually included a link on their site for a while). The next time I came in, they continued to chat with me about the experience that night. It’s wonderful to have a great dining spot so close to home.

My "salmon" dish.

and, the favorite dining experience (thus far!)…

1) Karu’s Indian Banana Leaf – I think it’s appropriate that Singapore provides the book-ends for the top five of 2012. At Karu’s, the company, the food, and the overall experience were all tremendous. Again, I wish I had the presence of mind, and the quick hands to take more pictures throughout the meal. It really was incredible! I’ve had Indian food many times before, but I had never been to a banana leaf restaurant. It’s now a vivid memory, and one that continues to make me grin every time I tell someone about it! Thank you to Steve, Lingam, Bong Tong, and the rest of the gang for treating to me this delightful new experience.

2012-11-23 19.13.38

More than an honorable mention…

I also have to mention the most read post that I didn’t write myself. I’ve had the extreme pleasure of having several guest posts from friends and family, but it’s this one, written by Jerod, out of Dallas, TX that sparked the most interest. You have no idea just how many people asked me about the folks involved in this post! I can’t blame anyone – they are two fantastic people, and it was an awesome story!

her-meal

I have a few goals for 2013, and I appreciate any and all input y’all are willing to provide.

1) I’d like to continue to expand readership. Please feel free to spread the word about “She Ordered What?!?”, “Like” the blog on Facebook, follow the pins on Pinterest, or follow tweets on Twitter (either at @kerkilbourne or @sheorderedwhat).

2) I’d like to engage the readers even more. Comments are not only welcome, but encouraged and requested! Or, even a simple “like” of any of the posts that you actually do like!

3) For anyone interested in guest-posting, please just reach out to me. I’d love to have posts from all over. Since I’m not traveling as much these days, I am absolutely open to hearing about restaurants and experiences from your local area or from the places to which you travel! You don’t have to be a “writer”.

Here’s a secret: most people don’t fancy themselves writers, but most write very well! And, I’m always willing to take the red pen to make edits (without changing the story itself) if you’re truly uncomfortable having your unedited work published.

Again, thank you so very much for your support in my blogging endeavor. I’m having a blast writing, and I hope you’re enjoying reading the posts!

Happy holidays all, and all my best in 2013!

Cheers!
Ker

The Ker-Bear Roll! A fun discovery during Girls’ Night Out.

I was hoping to add a post or two from outside of the greater Detroit area, but I really haven’t been traveling for work lately.  It’s kind of a bummer, and I miss traveling to see coworkers across the nation, but that’s the deal with respect to my current role.  Hopefully, I’ll still be able to get to South Carolina (CLEMSON!) and to Singapore (for fun) this fall!  At least then I can mix things up a bit!

In the meantime, if you’re interested in contributing to http://www.sheorderedwhat.com, please feel free to shoot me a note, tweet, Facebook post, etc.  I’m happy to oblige!

Now, onto the latest great meal I had out…

(No, all of my meals are not great – I’ve had people ask me that.  Two rather lackluster experiences were documented here and here)

A couple of weeks ago, the girls who were featured in my first post came into town for a visit.  Megan and Sharon (who was also featured in this post) have been really good friends of mine for many years.

 

We’ve had tons of dinners together – at each others’ homes, and out on the town.  In the picture above, counterclockwise: Sharon, Ker, Megan, and Dana (local friend).

That Saturday night, Sharon agreed to “take one for the team” to support Megan’s craving (pun intended) for sushi.  So, I made reservations at Crave Lounge in Dearborn.  Sharon has never been a fan of sushi, and in particular, the nori (seaweed) used in making maki (rolls).  She figured some of the small plates Crave offers would be just fine for dinner – trooper that she is!

We started off with one of my favorite appetizers, the Watermelon Napoleon (three time award winner + healthy choice award, consisting of seedless watermelon, French feta, toasted walnuts, Michigan tart cherries, organic Mediterranean olives, Mediterranean micro herbs, organic olive oil, and Balsamic vinaigrette).  I’ve made my own versions of this dish at home when I want a tasty, yet light meal.

We also munched on edamame (doesn’t everyone do that at a sushi joint?) while chatting, laughing, and giving our server, Phillip, a complex! When he came back to take our dinner order, we decided to try one roll with soy paper rather than nori, to see if Sharon would like it.  Our other friend, Dana, has an aversion to soy, so we had to balance things out.  Note: Phillip did not charge us for the first substitution, but soy paper is typically a $1 up charge per roll at Crave.

At Phillip’s recommendation, we ordered a couple of “off the menu” rolls.  To the left is the “Crave Roll” (made w/ traditional nori) and on the right is the “Care Bear Roll” (affectionately, renamed the “Ker Bear Roll” and made with mamenori (soy paper).  As you can see, I’m never quick enough to catch a photo before we dig right in!

The Crave Roll is basically a fried California Roll, with light seaweed on top, seared Ahi tuna , jalapeno, Wasabi aioli, and a sweet drizzle.  We all enjoyed the roll, including Sharon – who couldn’t taste the nori.  Great flavors, folks!

*Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that Sharon received “rookie chop sticks” from the owner – he made them for her on-the-spot! A total MacGyver move…the chop stick wrapper, a rubber band, and VOILA! She can use chop sticks!*

But, the big hit of the night was the “Ker Bear Roll” which was comprised of spicy tuna , shrimp tempura, asparagus, crunchy flakes and mango Albacore tuna aioli. Folks, it was tremendously flavorful! So much so that we ordered a second serving!  (see below)

 

While that was closing in on the end of our dinner, Sharon and I should have taken the hint that Megan and Dana had bigger plans in mind!  (Those two are mentioned in the post I referred to earlier)

Yup, folks.  Those are lemon drop shots in their hands (and their wine in the foreground!).  Just the start of the evening for these two crazy ladies! And, I love them for knowing that Sharon and I wouldn’t “hang”, so we were better off at home later that night, and into the next morning!

Finally, I have to post a picture of the fabulous man who was our server that night. Phillip was not only an incredible sport (y’all should have heard some of the conversation he overheard that night!), but he made great recommendations, AND, he was pretty nice eye-candy!  He’s preparing for a teaching career, and I can already see that he will be the most popular teacher in school!  🙂

 

I’m a fairly regular customer at Crave Lounge (though I don’t frequent it as much as I’d like to!), and I’ve never left disappointed.  This night, however, was particularly enjoyable because we tried some new rolls, we had a delightful server, we chatted with the management (great people!), and we were amongst dear friends.

If you’re in the area, and craving (pun intended, again!) sushi, I do recommend Crave Lounge.  The atmosphere is cool, the staff is great, and the food is delicious!  I’m also told that the menu has been changed up a bit over the past week.  New Carpaccio items, new appetizers, small plates and rolls.  And…anyone who’s known me for any period of time knows that my intel is rock-solid!  😉

Gochiso-sama,

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

Frank and Pauly’s, Mentor, OH – In the old Sawyer House building

It was a Sunday night, and I was in Ohio with my family. We decided to try a relatively new spot around the corner from my parents’ house – Frank and Pauly’s. The restaurant had opened in the old Sawyer House building – a building with tons of charm, and an eternally cool atmosphere. My words simply won’t do it justice. Just know this…The Sawyer House is on the National Register of Historic places as one of the only Stone Homes in Lake County. There are more pictures on their Facebook page.

The restaurant had only been open for a couple of months when we went there. It had a decent crowd – some larger tables eating family-style meals. Don’t think the hostess went unnoticed either. She was a beautiful girl, dressed fashionably, and with a bubbly personality – guys, trust me, you missed her personality, but she was quite welcoming. 😉

Because this was such a new place, I knew that I’d have trouble deciding what to order. I did decide that I couldn’t pass up a cup of the delicious Sawyer House Mushroom Bisque (a house favorite made with real cream, Kill buck Valley Wild mushrooms, Shallots and sherry, topped with brie cheese). I love that Frank and Pauly’s kept the Sawyer House name as a tribute too.

Sawyer House Mushroom Bisque

And, I have to give a huge “thank you” to Damion for sending me pictures of the food I experienced at Frank and Pauly’s – well after the fact. He was gracious enough to email me photos for this blog post. A true indication of the type of people we encountered at Frank and Pauly’s. Kind, generous, and accommodating!

Speaking of great people, our server, Jason, was very engaging and happy to walk us through the menu a bit. He got quite nervous when I asked him to simply choose a dish for me, and to surprise me. Seeing the fear in his face, my mom started trying to guide him (nothing too large, something kind of light, etc), and I had to interrupt her and impress upon him that the choice was 100% his.

Jason chose the Chicken Parmesan dinner for me. It was a huge dish – breaded center cut chicken breast, lightly fried topped with whole milk mozzarella and imported parmesan baked and served with our marinara sauce.

Frank and Pauly’s Chicken Parmesan

It was cooked beautifully, had wonderful flavor, and filled me up about 1/3 of the way through the dish! Several times, Jason came back to see if I enjoyed his recommendation – and I really did. He also told me that had this been a Saturday night and he had encountered a customer like me, he would have had a full-on panic attack! He really felt the pressure to deliver. And, he did, for both dinner and lunch the next day!

My family tried a variety of other salads and dishes, all very pleased with our meals, and with the service. We had a truly wonderful experience at Frank and Pauly’s. I’m looking forward to going back to try something else on the menu!

If you’re in Lake County, I suggest trying Frank and Pauly’s sometime. Delish!

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