Archive for the tag “surprise”

A lovely summer evening at Bosley on Brady

A couple of weekends ago, Stairwell Guy (Jeff) and I decided to head over to Brady Street for dinner.  After sending a tweet to my younger (and cooler) coworker, Alex, we decided to head over to Bosley on Brady on his recommendation.  If I recall correctly, we had played a little tennis earlier in the afternoon and found ourselves to be famished by 5PM!  Needless to say, we didn’t have to wait for a table and in fact had our pick of the outside seating.  It was a beautiful afternoon, so sitting outside was the obvious choice!

We were quickly and warmly greeted by Skip, our server.  He gave us a brief overview of the place, including highlighting that Bosley on Brady is essentially a Florida Keys-influenced restaurant.  The back story on their website explains a bit more about that.  Skip also proved to have a great sense of humor and was very personable throughout our dinner.

We perused the menu, and everything looked so delicious!  I decided to let Skip choose my dinner and a drink to go along with it.  He read my card, and quickly affirmed that he had great choices in mind.

Skip delivered “the mango tango” cocktail (in a bucket!) to me.  Although I typically don’t drink hard liquor, I put my trust in Skip (and also advised Jeff that he might have to carry me home!). It was refreshing on a warm evening!

Mango puree, rum, mango vodka, and orange juice.

Mango puree, rum, mango vodka, and orange juice.

Jeff and I decided to order an appetizer sampler (which we devoured before I thought to take a picture).  We also ordered the watermelon salad (a favorite of mine!).  How can one not enjoy watermelon covered in feta, mint, red onions, toasted almonds, cracked pepper, olive oil and blackened shrimp?

IMG_7802Although we certainly weren’t in a hurry that evening, I will say that we both though the food service was a bit slow.

Eventually, we received and enjoyed the salad, and then we moved on to our entrees.  Jeff chose the scallop dish (he knows I can’t have scallops, but that I think they’re fantastic! They are one of his favorite dishes as well).

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They were served on a delicious risotto and with Jeff’s other favorite: asparagus.  Needless to say, he enjoyed the meal.

Skip had decided to bring me the special of the evening: Cobia.  A solitary fish that feeds on other fish, giving it a really intense flavor.

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This too, was served over risotto and with a mango salsa.  The green beans had a wonderful caramelized bacon on them as well.  Very good combination of flavors, although I couldn’t finish my meal.  I mean, look back at how much we had already eaten!  Jeff decided to take my leftovers home, so they certainly didn’t go to waste!

There was no way we were going to try dessert after that gluttonous dinner!  However, I am certainly not opposed to going back to Bosley on Brady for a lighter dinner and possibly trying dessert.

If you’re looking for a leisurely dinner on the east side, I’d suggest heading over to Bosley on Brady.

Cheers!

Ker

Le Bistrot de Flandre, Compiègne, France

On Thursday evening last week, our global team took a brief tour of Compiègne (a charming city in Northern France) before heading out to have a nice team dinner.

Here’s a shot of City Hall, a beautiful illustration of the extraordinary architecture found throughout Europe.

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After walking around the city for a bit, we headed to Le Bistrot de Flandre for dinner.

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One of my colleagues, Benoit (who was not mentioned directly, but was one of the “thorns” in this post), led us into the restaurant and was met with a friendly and familiar greeting.  This must a spot he frequents in Compiegne.

Nicolas, the other “thorn” in the previously referenced post, and whom I’ve mentioned here and here, knows my dining out behavior quite well by now.  He graciously informed our server (a young and “all in” guy whose name I never caught) that I wanted him to choose my meal (and keep it a secret), based on what he thought was the best offering on the menu.  Upon listening to the request from Nicolas, he looked us each in the eye, nodded his head, and gave a big smile.

I liked this guy already!

It turns out he had chosen a three-course menu option for me, although I didn’t know that at this point.

The first course was gently seared salmon bites with pistachio and goat cheese over greens.  As I’ve mentioned before, salmon is not my favorite seafood, but this was fresh meat which was prepared beautifully. And, I do love goat cheese! This was a pretty large appetizer, but I managed to finish most of it. And, I enjoyed it!

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When the main course was served, there was a bit of confusion.  A different server delivered our table’s meals, and one of my colleagues was away from the table (taking a phone call), so we really weren’t sure where she should set one of the dishes!  After a minute or two, our server came back and cleared up the confusion.

I was presented with roasted duckling over vegetables.  I will say that the flavor was quite nice, but the duckling was a bit tough for my preference. I had to “saw” at the meat a bit in order to take my bites.  I may have been spoiled at Odd Duck (and other establishments).

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I also tend to like my vegetables on the crispy side, but surprisingly, I was more than okay with these “limp” vegetables. I liked them so much that I finished my veggies!

Following the entrée, I was provided new silverware (thank you France for swapping out utensils regularly!), indicating that I was going to be served dessert.

My teammates were all served desserts at the same time, and my place-setting remained empty.  And, remained empty.  And, empty still.  I’m not sure how long it was, but it felt like ~10 minutes, and Nicolas asked the manager and another server what was taking so long.

We started joking about “just how special this dessert must be”, and…SURE ENOUGH…When the dessert my server had chosen for me was delivered, it was quite simply – superb (and not part of the standard menu).

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Strawberries, cream, and flaky pastry – can a girl ask for more??

I loved that this dessert was as light and refreshing as the appetizer was. The appetizer and the dessert were delicious bookends to an “average” entrée.

While this doesn’t rank as my favorite meal since I started this blog, the dining experience was really enjoyable, and the server’s response to the request was awesome!  I do wish I had asked his name so I could give him proper credit for his superb attitude and solid recommendations (for me, the salmon and dessert trump the disappointment of the duckling).

I must thank my European colleagues for being extremely gracious hosts during our weeklong visit.  It’s hard work to be responsible for foreign visitors, and they never showed fatigue or irritation.  I feel truly lucky to work with these folks.

I hope you enjoyed these few posts from my recent trip.  If you’ve got recommendations or experiences you’d like to share from Europe, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

Delicious Dining at Restaurant Hôtel du Nord, Compiegne, France

In this post, I’m combining a couple of meals that we had in the restaurant in our hotel in Compiegne, Francethe Hôtel du Nord.  We arrived into France late on Tuesday evening and decided to have dinner at the hotel rather than going out.  It was a very good choice!  We also had lunch there on Thursday because we were meeting in the conference room at the hotel all day.

At dinner, we started with a les amuse-bouches (appetizer) of Brussel sprout mousse.  It sounds strange, and it was a bit peculiar, but it was also surprisingly tasty! But, then again, I love Brussel sprouts!

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Then, I had a traditional Filet Mignon with crispy polenta and mixed greens.  It was nothing fancy, but it was a good, solid, and well-prepared meal.

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I didn’t partake in any extra appetizers or dessert, but I thought I’d share pictures of my coworkers’ dishes, because they are so beautiful!

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Appetizers: vegetable torte on the left and avocado and green pea starter with a mint jelly base on the right.

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Dessert: Tiramisu

The French certainly do know how to innovate food with flavors and design!

For lunch, we had a set menu which was all a surprise to me because I don’t understand French!

We started with a layered carrot mousse with ginger cream.  Again, it’s an interesting flavor and texture, but we all agreed that we liked it.

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After the small plate (errr, shot glass!), we were served the classically French appetizer of Foie Gras.  We were all a bit surprised by the chocolate crust, and my French colleagues thought it was too sweet and overpowered the flavor of the Foie Gras.  They all ended up removing the crust and focused on enjoying the center.

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The dish was served cold and almost tasted like an ice cream to me.  I’m not sure I would order it on a regular basis, but I did enjoy trying a new appetizer.

Our main course was roasted cod, served over broccoli puree.  I truly enjoyed this dish.  The fish was light and flaky (and the knife the French serve with fish does a fantastic job of peeling the skin right off the meat), and the broccoli puree had a thick and somewhat chunky texture.  It felt like a substantial meal, but not overly filling – which is good since lunch in France is a four-course meal!

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The dessert we were served was not only beautiful (again!), but light and delicious!  I didn’t finish the dessert, but I did try each component and loved the flavors.

This was a coconut mousse served over a small muffin (almost banana-nut-like) with a crispy wafer over it.  Isn’t it lovely?

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To say that this lunch is way more fancy than I normally have would be an understatement.  It’s also more food than I would normally have!

I’m excited to share another great experience in Compiegne with you shortly.  I had a wonderful young server who was all-in on the surprise, much like Ralph was in Bocholt! Please stay tuned!

Cheers!

Ker

 

Germany May Have Defeated France in the World Cup, but…

Germany will only get me for a day and a half this coming week. France, on the other hand, has me for three and a half days.  France wins! (I think)

I’ll be flying out to Düsseldorf on Sunday, for a weeklong business trip in Europe.  One of the many perks of working for a French-based company is the “required travel to Europe”.  On Tuesday, I’ll fly from Düsseldorf to Paris and will be spending most of my time in Compiegne.

You may recall my visit to Brussels last fall, and then a short train ride over to Paris from there.  I had a couple of excellent meals during those trips, and I’m hopeful for more delicious dining adventures this time around.  My colleagues are aware of my approach to dining out (well, most of them are), so rather than being an awkward experience, it’s fun to grab meals with these guys.

I’ll be sure to post about my European adventures, so please keep an eye out!  And, if you have recommendations for any must-visit restaurants, please leave a comment!

Cheers!

Ker

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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

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