Archive for the tag “Comfort Food”

Joe’s Texas BBQ – A Little Slice of Hog Heaven!

Last week, a colleague and I drove up to Green Bay, WI for a business trip. I think that trip takes the cake for the furthest I’ve gone in Wisconsin since I moved to Milwaukee almost three years ago! Admittedly, I’m woefully bad at getting in the car and just driving to see all this state has to offer. It’s just so easy to stay downtown (walking distance) when you live in the heart of such a great city! However, I’m really glad we made the trip – not just for business, but also for the delicious lunch we had!

Now, it certainly would have been more fun if the trip were to see the Green Bay Packers play, but I did get to see Lambeau Field (that’s where the expo was being held).

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Once we finished the expo, rather than eat less-than-exciting catered food after the event, we decided to use Yelp! to find a local joint for lunch before making the two hour drive home. After a bit of back & forth, we settled on Joe’s Texas BBQ.

Please let it be known that having been educated in the south, I can be a bit particular about my barbecue. Okay, I can be a snob!

The minute we drove up to the small shack and walked in the door, we knew we were likely in for a real treat! The smell was heavenly! Like, stop in your tracks and just take in the aroma of barbecued meet and sauce!

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This is a no-frills place. A whiteboard menu hangs on a wall across from the door and items are erased when out of stock for the day .

Menu

A pleasant woman stands behind the counter waiting to take your order and then checks with the chef to ensure your items are still available. Tables with mismatched chairs adorn the dining room, and a table full of silverware, napkins and various sauces sits in the corner.

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After perusing the menu and considering brisket versus pork, I decided I couldn’t pass up the pulled pork plate and the jalapeno cornbread!

Instantly, the lovely woman walked to the whiteboard and erased “pulled pork” – I had ordered the last of it! Thank goodness nobody had snuck in line in front of me!

Pulled

My road trip partner, Tyler, ordered the brisket and our other colleague, Mark (who met us in GB) tried the rib tips. Both thoroughly enjoyed their meals, although according to my colleague Mark, the tips were a bit of work to avoid the bone! He said that the flavor was worth it though!

From my perspective, the meat was so tender and tasty! I tried both the mild and spicy sauces, and neither disappointed. Although the jalapeno cornbread was dense, it was also full of flavor and delicious! I cleaned that huge plate of food! No problem.

It’s no wonder Joe’s Texas BBQ makes this claim:

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And they have several awards to back up that claim!

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If I ever find myself back in Green Bay, Joe’s Texas BBQ is a stop I’d gladly make. I know for certain I will leave with a full belly!

From Soup to Nuts, errr…Dessert: The Noble, Walker’s Point, Milwaukee

A quick note: ICYMI (in case you missed it), Amanda S. was the randomly chosen winner of the Spreading WI Love Giveaway. She professes to be “obsessed with all things wine and chocolate”, and plans to try the “secret family recipe” I shared with her. Congratulations, Amanda!

Last week, “Stairwell Guy” (Jeff) and I decided to meet for dinner. I was heading to Memphis for friends’ wedding over the Valentine’s Day weekend, so we opted to have a nice dinner on the Tuesday night prior. I lost our Superbowl bet (thank you Denver Broncos for that!), so dinner was going to be my treat.

As a side note: “Stairwell Guy” is a man I literally met in a stairwell. I was walking over to Irish Fest last summer, and happened to hold open the door to a public parking garage that led down to the street that leads one on the way to Summer Fest grounds. He and I struck up a conversation as we walked ~15 minutes to the festival, and then he asked me for my number, or if he could give me his (so as not to appear too forward). Since then, we’ve met up a number of times to explore the greater Milwaukee area. I still refer to him as “Stairwell Guy”, both because it “stuck”, and because I know many Jeffs and this minimizes confusion. *end note*

I think “Stairwell Guy” is the only person I know that is more indecisive than I am; so when my friend Phi reminded me of her and her husband’s favorite restaurant in Milwaukee (The Noble), I texted Jeff and offered it up as a suggestion. He checked the website and thought it was a great option. So, we met at my apartment (in East Town) and drove a few miles down to Walker’s Point to enjoy our first dinner at The Noble.

The Noble is a small and unassuming joint, both inside and out. Phi had warned me that the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations and only has six or seven tables. For these reasons, I felt like heading over there on a chilly (okay, downright cold) Tuesday night was a wise choice.

We were greeted warmly by the staff and were seated right away. The tables, like the general atmosphere, were simple, yet inviting. Brown paper over white linens and silverware wrapped in paper napkins, but tied with sweet little bows.

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Jeff and I opted for hot tea as our beverages – we needed to warm up after the brief walk in the cold Milwaukee winter air. I didn’t even check the drink menu, but the bar in the restaurant gave me the impression that one could order some really delicious drinks if one wanted to do so.

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After perusing the small menu, which consisted of some wonderful appetizers and salads as well as nightly specials of the “Hunters” (meat dish), the “Gathers” (vegetarian), and the “Middle of the Road”, I decided I really couldn’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

Jeff decided to have the tomato and roasted red pepper soup to start. He then decided on “The Hunters” special, which was a NY Strip steak covered with crab meat and shrimp in a cream sauce for dinner.

Since I was so confident in the menu, I simply asked our server, Amanda, to choose her favorite dish for me. She was a bit startled (as was Jeff), but she quickly agreed to take good care of me.

Jeff’s soup came out quite quickly and was a large bowl of thick, creamy soup with wonderful flavor. (I failed to take a photo).

We chatted as we soaked in the eclectic atmosphere, and before we knew it, our entrees were served. Jeff’s was set down first, and it looked spectacular!

photo 1Amanda told me that she chose the “Middle of the Road” special, which was Beef Stroganoff, because “it’s the perfect meal on a cold winter night”. I definitely liked her reasoning, but honestly, after seeing Jeff’s plate, I was kind of wishing that I had gotten the NY Strip. That was…until I tasted the Stroganoff.

photo 2As you can see, it was served with rice, green beans and tomatoes. The sauce was creamy and light, but still very rich. It was a different take on Beef Stroganoff for me – mom had always made it over egg noodles and sans vegetables (well, veggies on the side, but not in the dish!).

I only managed to finish half of the dish, but was excited about the prospect of freezing the other half for dinner at a later date.

When Amanda asked if we were interested in hearing about the dessert specials, Jeff and I looked at each other awkwardly. Were we interested? After several seconds passed, I advised Amanda that we would like to hear the specials. I think Jeff probably let out a sigh of relief when I made that executive decision. 😉

I remember that there was a blackberry bread pudding special, and something else being offered up – but I cannot remember the details after hearing Amanda talk about an orange cake with chocolate ganache, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate shavings. Y’all, I will eat chocolate on the regular, but given the choice, I’ll pass it up for an orange flavored dessert almost every time. So, pairing the two? Genius!

Jeff actually spoke up and ordered that, knowing how much I like orange desserts (and, he has a massive sweet tooth that never quite seems satisfied).

photo 3It took us no time at all to dive into this delicious dessert, and only a few minutes to completely clean the plate! This may be a dessert I need to attempt at home. Or, perhaps I’ll have my friend Katie, of Katie’s Adventures in the Kitchen give it a whirl! It is BY FAR my favorite dessert in the past several years.

Both Jeff and I really enjoyed a casual night out for dinner with exceptional food (and so reasonably priced!). Walker’s Point has so many spots to check out that I’ve made the mental note to spend some time there when the weather warms up a bit (June? July? 🙂 )

I want to thank Phi for the recommendation to check out The Noble. I’m thinking we should go back and enjoy dinner together sometime!

To learn more about their ever-changing menu, please check out http://www.facebook.com/thenoblemke or on Twitter @thenoblemke

Cheers!

Ker

My Heart Melted at Melt Bar and Grilled, Mentor, OH

Ever since Melt Bar and Grilled opened up in my hometown of Mentor, OH, I’ve been wanting to visit the newest location.  After a morning of being pampered by my long-time hairdresser, Michael, at Ladies & Gentlemen Salon and Spa, and with my long-time girlfriend, Sharon, we headed out to meet another long-time girlfriend (36 years!), Megan, for lunch at Melt.

We arrived at ~11:50AM, and although Megan’s name had been on the list for 20 minutes or so, we still had ~30 minutes longer to wait.  Seriously, y’all…Melt is *that* good, IMO – but, it’s also new, and therefore a novelty for folks who are enjoying vacation time this week.

As with the other locations, Mentor’s Melt has a fun and energetic vibe to it. Here’s a snapshot of the some of the eclectic decor.

Melt Bar and Grilled, Mentor, OH

Melt Bar and Grilled, Mentor, OH

The menus are even quite unique – printed on the back side of old album covers.

The reverse side of my menu

We perused our menus, and as with my prior visit, I quickly became overwhelmed with the choices.  I mean…who wouldn’t be at a loss with all of these sandwiches (and this is just a sampling!)…

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My friends each ordered the “half combo”.  For $8.00, you’re served 1/2 of a Kindergarten sandwich, salad and a cup of soup.  It’s a lot of food!

I asked that Mackenzie, our server, choose her favorite sandwich and surprise me.  I loved that she didn’t hesitate!  Just a simple “okay”, and off she went.

We waited. And, waited.  And, waited some more, but finally, we were served our lunches!  (It probably didn’t help that our orders were likely input mere seconds after a party of nine that was seated near us.)

Here is what I was served…

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Mackenzie had chosen “Mom’s Meatloaf Dinner”, which consisted of homemade tender meatloaf, chipotle ketchup glaze, garlic mashed redskin potatoes, fried onion straws, muenster cheese, and was served with cole slaw (really good cole slaw – no mayo!) and French fries.  And, all of this was $11.00.  (also, there is an option for a vegetarian version)

As those of you who have followed this blog know,  part of the fun of allowing the server to order for me is that I’m often served something I would otherwise overlook.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have chosen a meatloaf sandwich (with mashed potatoes, etc on it) – ever.  However, I did really enjoy it!  Well, at least the 1/2 portion that I was able to scarf down during our late lunch.  I took half of the sandwich, and most of the slaw home with me.  I left the fries behind, reluctantly, thinking that they wouldn’t likely reheat all that well.  Luckily, another friend, Jenny was able to join us for the latter part of our meal, and noshed on a few fries as well.

Seriously, this sandwich was so tasty – and I’m thinking that it’s going to be just as good, if not better, as a leftover!  (do I enjoy it cold, or reheated?  dilemmas!)

I’ve heard people say that they think Melt Bar and Grilled is expensive, but I tend to think one gets a tremendous amount of very good “comfort food” for the price.  You have to go into Melt knowing that you’ll likely wait, but in my humble opinion, the food is worth the wait!  And, the extensive beer list can certainly help you pass the time!  🙂

If you’re in the greater Cleveland area and enjoy Gourmet Grilled Cheese sandwiches (or just want to try one), my suggestion is to MAKE SURE you stop by a Melt Bar and Grilled restaurant (in Mentor, Cleveland Heights (east side), Lakewood and Independence (west/south side)).

If you’ve been to a Melt, or a similar restaurant, what’s the best grilled cheese sandwich you’ve had?

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