Archive for the tag “GNO”

Answering the question: What were your favorite dining experiences?

I started this blog back in April, and I’ve had many people provide support and feedback along the way.  I wrote a post about that early on, and since then, I’ve received even more encouragement!

Recently, a former coworker of mine, who is a super picky eater, told me that he has taken the baby step of allowing barkeeps far and wide to choose his drinks for him, ala this post. A small step toward surrendering dinner plans to his server!

I’ve also had many people ask me about my favorite “She Ordered What?!?” experiences.  I must admit that I haven’t had too many lackluster experiences using the “let the server choose my meal for me” method.  I have had some rather spectacular outcomes though!  I’ve tried dishes I probably would have overlooked otherwise.  Not necessarily because they were “exotic” or “daring”, but more so that I would just default to other options.

Some of my favorite experiences include:

This one which was actually the meal that catapulted me into this blogosphere.  Seriously, the looks on everyone’s faces when I turned my order over to the server were classic.  And, the interest when my dish arrived…from a highly invested group of individuals.  This blog wasn’t even a thought in my mind at that particular dinner, so I didn’t take pictures, and thus, it wasn’t amongst the first posts.  The restaurant was fantastic enough to send me pictures of my dinner – even though I wasn’t a blip on the food circuit radar!

Another favorite? This one!  I recently revisited Tria at The Henry, and met up with Audra again.  We both shared such great memories of that night!  The staff had such fun choosing my every taste that evening,  and I had a wonderful time experiencing food and wine through their recommendations.

A third favorite? Right now, I’ll say this one: An incredible server really makes the dining experience.  Kelsey was that incredible server! On top of that…the food was amazing! Der Braumeister is a must-stop in Cleveland, OH, IMO.  And, please check out the video of Kelsey at the end…she’s got personality and spunk!

Special mentions go to:  Zingerman’s RoadhouseGood Girls, Crave Lounge, as they all provided fabulous experiences as well.  As did The Mac Shack – not once, but twice!

I’m also in love with all of my guest posts.  This is one that created the most intrigue: did they? or didn’t they? (have a second date) <– yes, they did! But, don’t forget these posts:  Hom, Fondue, and Bistro 70.

I’ve got some travel coming up next month (thank goodness!), as well as another guest post or two to come.  I’m looking forward to sharing more “She (He) Ordered What?!?” adventures.

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

My first two nights in NYC – I let my friends choose for me.

I’m in New York for a conference this week, so I know I won’t have much time to explore or enjoy the extensive culinary options that Manhattan boasts. It’s kind of a bummer – even our networking dinners always seem to be at a high-end chain restaurant. Never a local gem. And, while these aren’t true “She Ordered What?!?” posts, I’m posting them as such since my friends ordered for me, and I really didn’t know what I was in for!

After what felt like an epic journey to get here (which had me ranting on Facebook and Twitter – ignorant mom with your mobile phone stuck to your ear while your children disrupted every last passenger on the plane, I’m talking to you! American Airlines, I’m also talking to you for boarding, de-planing, re-boarding, de-planing again, canceling, all the while lapsing in customer service and forcing passengers to carry their own bags up and down rickety stairs while in dresses, carrying other personal items, babies, etc, and up again, and down again – and then finally getting us to NYC. – post-script: same bologna on the way home!), I decided to take the advice of my friend Daniel. He tweeted me and advised me to grab chicken and rice with the “crack” sauce (the white sauce I would surely get addicted to) from a street food vendor on the corner of 53rd and 6th called Halal’s. He also advised me that their would likely be a line, indicative of just how good the food was!

It was about a ten minute walk from my hotel, and it was a gorgeous night. The line was 6-7 people deep at 8PM. That was a good sign!
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I spent $6.00, plus a $2.00 tip, and carried home enough food to feed four people! I spent more than twice that on a glass of wine from the hotel bar!!

But, Daniel was correct. It was really good food, and the “crack sauce” was yummy. Not spicy like I thought it would be, given Daniel’s addiction to Sriracha sauce, but that’s why I was also given a tiny tub of red spicy sauce along with the white sauce. To spice it up!
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I was only able to eat about 1/4 – 1/3 of the portion, and I wish I had a fridge in the room to save the rest. But, alas, most of it went to waste. 😦

I think that food gave me some good energy too! Monday morning, I woke up early and went for a run through the city. I knew I was motoring way faster than I used to when I was a regular runner…and map my run (while getting a bit confused amongst the skyscrapers) seemed to agree. I covered some pretty good ground in about 18 min. And, I broke a nice sweat. I was glad to get a workout in, because I knew I was meeting a dear, dear friend for dinner that night. Beth lived in the city for 12 years before she and her husband bought a home in New Jersey last year. My original plan was to go visit them Sunday, but as I mentioned, that didn’t happen.

So, after a day of fruitful meetings, I set out on foot to meet Beth at Inakaya – at 40th and 8th. Again, a short walk, but nice to get out for a bit!

After her long day, and the rough start to my trip (did I mention that my brother called that morning to tell me my mom had broken her leg and was in the hospital?), we decided to split a bottle of wine along with sushi, sashimi, egg custard, and maki.
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Round two – we had already finished off the sashimi and sushi platters (I forgot to take pictures because we just dug right in!).

I let Beth order everything, since she knows me as well as I know myself! We caught up (it had been a year since we’d seen each other) and enjoyed really fine food. The lone “eh” piece was the mackerel. Fishy and not up to snuff with the other pieces.

It was a great night though…how can you go wrong with a good friend, good wine, good food, and in an amazing city?!?

A bit later, another friend messaged me and asked if I wanted to join him for dinner. I told him I’d keep him company and watch him eat…so that’s what I did. I kid you not, Jeff polished off this whole platter of chicken parmesan before we went on to meet up his colleagues and business contacts of mine. I had to throw this photo in for good measure!
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While I wish I had time to spend walking the city like I do on personal trips to Manhattan, I simply don’t. I am grateful to have had two nights to dine as I like to, without forced networking that comes with conference attendance! Tonight, it’s about networking (and turning back into that shy girl I was so many years ago!). Wish me luck!

Shish Garden, Woodhaven, MI

After months of procrastinating, my girlfriends and I finally managed to grab dinner together.  Two of the women were friends of a friend, and when we met last year, I immediately took a liking to them both. Wendy, is genuinely interested in people, candid, and has incredible wit, sprinkling several “quotes of the night” throughout our 2 1/2 hour conversation. And, Brandi has a quiet, unassuming genuine charm to her that makes her instantly trustworthy and truly pleasant to be around.  Both exceptional ladies – I’m not doing them justice with just a sentence apiece.  And, then there’s Dana, my coworker and friend.  A fireball of personality and quick-witted humor.  We make for a really fun dynamic at the dinner table.  And, to the men of the greater Detroit area – we’re all single women! 😉

We met close to their homes at Shish Garden in Woodhaven.

Shish Garden Menu

It’s a Middle Eastern fare restaurant, and though I’ve had a few ME meals since I moved to Michigan (ethnic food is abundant here!), I don’t necessarily feel comfortable choosing my meal. Hommous aside!

Hommous and fresh baked pitas.

I asked Mariesa, our waitress, to choose my dinner for me.  She gave me a slightly odd look, but then said okay and went off to place our orders. She came back a few minutes later to see if I had a preference for chicken, beef, or lamb – to which I replied “nope!”.  So, off she went again.  My friends all ordered perfectly portioned sandwiches and they knew I was getting a full entrée when Mariesa brought me a Fattoosh salad to start the evening.  It was a really delicious salad – lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, tossed in herb dressing and covered with toasted pita chips.  It was also big enough to be my entire meal!  Indeed, I needed a box to take most of it home.

Fattoosh Salad

After the salad, when my friends were served their small sandwiches, I was served a heaping plate of seasoned chicken, grilled vegetables, and rice.  I was told it was the Classic Ghallaba plate, with chicken and rice.

Ghallaba with chicken and rice.

The flavors were tremendous!  It was a wonderful choice by Mariesa.  I also needed a big box to take leftovers home.  I’m guessing I have at least three more meals to go before I come close to finishing this one!  But, it’s so tasty, I don’t think I’ll have trouble eating leftovers (typically not my favorite thing).

My friends were so supportive as we talked about this blog, and they all read (and LOVED!!) Jerod’s story while at the table. They also admitted to being indecisive at times too, and I think they might be inspired to give their servers a chance to surprise them sometime in the future – even if it’s only making a choice amongst two or three dishes.  Baby steps!

No waiting another six months or so for a lovely girls’ night out!

Bistro 70, Painesville, OH

Although I live in Dearborn, MI, I still own a home in Painesville, OH.  I only lived in it for 2 1/2 years, but I loved living there.  One of the perks was being just up the road from one of my favorite spots: Bistro 70.

Inside Bistro 70 (photo courtesy of Bistro 70 Facebook page)

I had become friends with Keith, the owner and head chef through frequent visits.  For a while, I even served on the wait staff there.  I had also introduced my family, now weekly regulars, to the Bistro.

Keith changes the menu up regularly (quarterly or so?), but there are always great options!  So, frequently, I am unable to decide exactly what I want, and ask the servers to choose for me.  I’ll usually give them 2-3 options that I’m considering, and have them surprise me with their choice.  Over the years, I’ve had nightly specials – seafood, steak, and other delicious recipes Keith and his staff whip up.

I’ve also had wonderful dishes off the standard menu.  Some favorites: Seared Ahi Tuna Steak, Fettucini Rustica, Grilled Flat Iron Steak, and Maryland Crab Cakes.

The Seared Ahi (photo courtesy of Bistro 70 Facebook page)

There are others that are not on the current menu: some Asian fare, other pasta dishes, as well as more seafood.  And, don’t pass up the desserts!  They’re divine!

One of the many delicious pasta dishes (photo courtesy of Bistro 70 Facebook page)

And, I can’t lie…my friends and I have spent many a night hanging at the bar with Joe, the greatest bartender!

The bar at Bistro 70 (photo courtesy of Bistro 70 Facebook page)

In fact, I had my farewell party here when I left OH for CA.  Good times!

And, happy anniversary Keith and company!  Eight years, this week!  🙂

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