Archive for the tag “food”

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

The Lazy Blogger – Dinner at The Lazy Goat, Greenville, SC

I have not been making time to write my blog, and I’ve regretted not doing so. This is a form of therapy, and I do get feedback from readers that they enjoy the “She Ordered What?” concept. In some cases, I get feedback on the restaurants featured, the meals delivered, or suggestions on new places to visit.

I’m glad to be back!

Back in April, I made a visit to one of my favorite places, Greenville, SC, with some of my favorite colleagues. Two of my closest friends at work in the Midwest and I flew in early to have dinner at The Lazy Goat with two of the best people at our manufacturing plant in G’ville. Aside from really important business discussion, we had extraordinary small plates, a few cocktails, and lots of laughs!

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If I recall, and this was the first of a few cocktails, four months ago, this was the St. Germaine Cocktail.

To boot, we were overlooking the river, so the scenery was fantastic too.

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I love that our plant manager, Jamie, “orders” like I do. He encouraged our server to bring us dishes until we determined we were full. No plan, per se. “He Ordered What?”

 

Here’s what we were served!

 

As you can see, the food was full of flavor, influenced by Spanish, Moroccan, Italian, French, African and Middle Eastern recipes.

The Lazy Goat encourages diners to share plates, slow-down (it’s Southern, y’all), and take in the flavors. And, we did!

We shared a few desserts to end the dinner.

To sum it up, The Lazy Goat was a great spot for business and casual discussion, trying many new dishes, enjoying a lovely atmosphere, appreciating very good service, and even better company!

Being that I love Greenville so much (it’s my dream retirement spot!), I’m sure I’ll be back, and The Lazy Goat will be on my list of places to visit again.

To my Clemson followers, and everyone else, have you been? Was your experience as fun as mine was?

Cheers!
Ker

 

Eccezionale! Trevini Ristorante, Palm Beach, FL

Earlier this month, I was at a trade conference with two of my favorite travel companions (they’d better be since we spend an extraordinary amount of time on the road together!).

We tend to get silly together as well. 🙂

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We snuck away from our stay at the Breakers one evening to try a local Italian restaurant, Trevini Ristorante. Since one of my colleagues is old-school authentic south-side Chicago Italian, I suspected her choice would be a good one!

We made the short drive over to Trevini Ristorante and decided to sit on the quaint patio out front. The service was on-point, very upbeat, polite, and attentive. Gonzo, our server, shared the specials and delivered our beverages. We all perused the menu, and decided Avette had made a very good choice! When he returned to take our orders, Avette ordered Ossobucco Alla Milanese, Risotto Carnaroli Al Zafferano (braised petite veal ossobuco, and carnaroli saffron risotto) and Tyler ordered Tagliolini Al Limone, Granchio, Fave, Bottarga (tagliolini with lemon, crab meat, touch of cream, fava beans, and bottarga). I simply handed him my card, as is standard practice. He promptly advised that he was going to give the card to the chef and that chef would choose my meal! Our table let out a collective giggle as it seemed that Gonzo was both on-board, but a little hesitant.

When the meals were served, I was delivered the Scaloppine Di Vitello Valdostana (Veal Scaloppine Topped With Prosciutto and Fontina, Sage, Chardonnay Sauce, and Steamed Spinach). Though it looks like a lot of food, it was thin and light, yet full of flavor! Gonzo also advised that the chef really enjoyed reading the card and choosing my meal.

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We all finished all of our meals and collectively agreed that we would absolutely NOT pass on dessert here – and we were going to share! I knew that I wanted an authentic Tiramisu (coffee dipped lady fingers, mascarpone cream). Tyler wanted chocolate on chocolate so  he ordered the Salame al Cioccolato (chocolate, biscotti salame, and caramel ice cream), and Avette had her heart set on Crema Catalana (Creme Brulee).

Unfortunately, we were informed that the restaurant was out of Crema Catalana. Huge “boos” all around! Avette decided to go with the Torta di Ricotta (cheesecake with strawberry sauce) as “Plan B”.

The Tiramisu and ice cream were fantastic! The cheesecake was a bit dry and dense for my taste, but I’m certain others prefer that style to a creamier cheesecake. And, as we were a few bites into our desserts, the manager, George, delivered a Crema Catalana anyhow! It turns out the pastry chef wanted it to set a bit longer, but it was close enough to ready that George decided to buy one for our table. A lovely and unexpected gesture. And, it was delicious! “Hoorays” all around!

We didn’t leave much on the table, and our bellies were comfortably full.  Though I don’t have any specific plans to return to Palm Beach soon, if I do return, I will most assuredly dine at Trevini Ristorante again.

What are your favorite resort dining experiences?

Cheers!

Ker

 

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. 😦

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

 

“I know a guy who knows a guy…” – La Belle Ferronniere, Paris, France

That’s how the email started. “I know a guy who knows a guy that recommended a typical French Brasserie.”

My colleague was voted to be “party planner” (probably by me!), and he stepped right up to the challenge, as he always does. We had twelve colleagues who were ready to enjoy an evening outside of the Charles de Gaulle airport region, and wanted to spend some time in Paris proper. It’s not necessarily an easy feat to coordinate for twelve people, but what a fun evening we had!

It turns out that when you “know a guy who knows a guy (the owner of La Belle Ferronniere)”, you get treated very nicely! We had excellent service from start to finish.

I had requested a cheese plate, and man oh man did La Belle Ferronniere deliver! We devoured the various cheeses before I even thought to snap a photo. We did this while enjoying a few bottles of wine (I think there were twelve emptied in total – whoops!).

When it came time to order dinner, in typical fashion, I surrendered my order over to our server. He asked a few vague questions, but seemed right on board with surprising me.

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It was a simple dish of shrimp and vegetables – much needed vegetables at that point! It was not too heavy and full of flavor. Perhaps just a bit on the messy side! 🙂

None of my colleagues could pass up dessert either! I only ate half of my dish before passing on to another colleague to finish, but bourbon creme brulee with a Woodford Reserve on the side? Yes, please!

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We had such a good time, laughing and chatting (and being obnoxious Americans). It was much needed after travel overseas and a couple of looong days of meetings!

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As we were leaving, we were stopped at the bar to enjoy a shot “on the house”. Oh boy…

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We then walked a bit of the dinner off and enjoyed the typical sights of Paris.

It was a fantastic way to cap off a very busy week in the City of Lights / Love.

Next stop: Barcelona!

Cheers!

Ker

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