Saturday, April 12, 2014

Evil Czech Brewery and Public House

If you have followed the blog you know that we often visit bars, pubs, and breweries because the food is good, I'm sure our waiters/waitress' roll their eyes a little, but honestly we always get good service, and tonight was no exception. Our waiter, Brett, greeted us promptly and warmly with a small bag of what Evil Czech Brewery calls "hop"corn, and was quick to share with us that they had root beer to offer (it was delicious!!) since we passed up his explanation of their beers on tap. I have to say though, if you do like beer, this is a place for you, the vats they brew in are behind a glass wall in the main/family dining room so you can see everything that they are doing, and from there move to "glow tanks" until they hit your glass, meaning that their beer never touches air or the light of day until you order it. Evil Czech not only has an extensive beer list, but their menu is vast as well, in fact it was a little overwhelming with it's many delicious looking dishes. We began our meal, or should I say experience, with Pork Belly Corn Dogs, which was a large piece of rendered pork belly, with a crispy, sweet cornbread coating on a stick. This app was delicious, but I will warn that it is very rich between the fattiness of the pork belly and the deep fried crust, however it is served with a delicious whole grain mustard that works well to cut the richness of this dish.
My hubby was pretty quick to decide what he wanted, which was in part due to the fact that he has always wanted mac and cheese with jalapenos, but, I suspect, was also influenced by his desire to ask the waiter for Menage A Trois! Yes, that was the name of my hubby's mac and cheese that was chock full of braised pork belly, bacon, house made pastrami, pickled jalapenos, and topped with crushed pretzels, and despite the fact that he isn't a big fan of pretzels he thought they were a perfect topping for mac and cheese as it added a nice crunchiness.
As I said, the menu was a little overwhelming for me, normally my go to is fish and chips, but I didn't want something deep fried, I poured over pizzas with many unique toppings, salads served in pizza crust bowls (all made with the spent grains from the brewing process), loaded sandwiches and burgers, and even a couple dishes made with schnitzel, but still couldn't decide. When Brett came back to take our order I panicked and ordered the chicken fingers, to which he promptly asked me to step outside of my comfort zone, and I'm glad he did! I decided to order from their street taco section, and was greeted with two delicious chipotle red corn taco shells full of their house made pastrami and pork belly confit covered in a delicious hoison glaze. I ordered the spicy slaw on the side and when my hubby took a bite and declared "it's a good thing you ordered that on the side," I knew it was too spicy for this wimp and didn't even try it.

And while we are talking about this house made pastrami, I think it is important that you see exactly where it came from, as this is the sight that greeted us when we pulled in the parking lot, and the smell was intoxicating!
We opted to bring half our dinners home in favor of ordering dessert (thank goodness for roomy saddlebags!), as the dessert menu looked too delicious to pass up! Brett recommended Mamma's sour cream cake with fresh local blueberries or the bread pudding made with chocolate chips, pretzels and almonds, but the "Czech Mex Sundae" looked too delicious to pass up. We were not disappointed, the cold ice cream alongside fresh, hot churros covered in cinnamon and sugared then topped with chocolate and caramel was divine! It was served in a pizza crust bowl covered in cinnamon and sugar, which didn't really add or take away from the dish, but if I had it my way I would trade the bowl for a couple extra churros.
Whether you like beer or, like us, don't really drink, Evil Czech Brewery and Public House is a must try! Their food is delicious and locally sourced, their staff is incredibly friendly, you can go on a date or take the whole family, and if you are like my hubby, you will be totally fascinated with the brewing system. Oh, and when you go, make sure to ask to sit in Brett's section, he offers exceptional customer service that is pretty rare to see nowadays.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Doc Pierce's Restaurant

I am going to begin by asking you not to judge the amount of fried food you are going to see in this post! And now that we have that out of the way, I am going to tell you about some of the best onion rings I have found, thus beginning the talk of fried food! Doc Pierce's Restaurant has onion rings that are huge, and I'm not just talking kind of huge, I'm talking "I can wear this as a bracelet" huge, and the batter on them is just perfectly seasoned and crispy. We also ordered fried mushrooms, and all I have to say is "wow!" I truly have never seen mushrooms this big, let alone fried mushrooms, which, like the onion rings, were coated in a delicious, crispy batter.
 While the menu at Doc Pierce's is widely varied with steak, seafood, sandwiches, salads, and soups, I chose Doc's Double Dose, which is a plate of gulf shrimp and sirloin steak tips coated in their delicious batter and fried (Remember when I asked you not to judge? This is that point!). The gulf shrimp were delicious, they were big and sweet, and tasted just like the shrimp we would get from South Carolina when my brother was stationed there, you just don't often get shrimp like this in a state not on the ocean, especially Indiana. The fried steak was a new experience, and actually quite delicious, the batter on the steak got a little soggy on the bottom, but for the most part was still crispy and tasty. I also had a salad alongside my steak and shrimp, and while it was just an average, iceberg lettuce salad it was kicked up a notch with their croutons, which I am fairly certain were housemade, and very delicious.
My hubby and mother in law both had burgers; Hubby's was a traditional cheese burger with provolone and sauteed mushrooms and his momma got the black and bleu burger. Both liked their burgers, but felt that the actual hamburger could have used some seasoning to enhance it.
The atmosphere in Doc Pierce's Restaurant is a little dark, but gets a unique feel from the many stained glass windows and Tiffany lamps. Next time you are in the mood for good, comfort food head to downtown Mishawaka and enjoy a tasty meal at Doc Pierce's Restaurant.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Temper Grille

If you have never eaten tapas, you should, there is just something about a meal that includes small plates that you get to share, tasting a little of this and a little of that, for someone who prefers to "graze," it really is a dream meal. What is also a dream, is the food coming out of Chef Sean's kitchen at Temper Grille! The menu has a wide array of tapas with meat, seafood, and cheese plus delicious salads, soups, and veggies to eat alongside your small plates. We opted to share several small plates and each got a side dish/veggie, we started our meal with the steak bites, which were recommended by a friend, and were delicious! We got a plate of perfectly, medium rare bite size pieces of steak covered in a tasty remoulade sauce with pita wedges on the side, the steak was a little spicy for me (which means people without a completely wimpy palette will find these perfectly spiced), but with the pita bread to take some of the heat I was still able to nosh on these yummy bites.
What you should know about tapas, is that you will not get your food all at once, it will come out as the kitchen finishes cooking it, which, again, grazers dream come true! The next dish to come out was my creamed corn, which was described to be as "life changing," and frankly it definitely was a game changer in the veggie arena. I know some of you are turning your nose up at creamed corn, but this corn starts in a hot skillet with salt, pepper, and sugar to get it caramelized and then continues to cook in heavy cream as it reduces down to make this delicious sweet sauce, and then is finished with a red pepper sauce, it truly is a scrumptious and inventive way to serve up a side dish once only eaten in nursing homes.
Next my hubby's mac and cheese came out, he opted to eat it plain, but you can order it with pork belly, lobster knuckle meat, roasted peppers, and one other option we don't remember. He really liked the cavatappi pasta used in this dish, his only qualm was that the cheese sauce was in the bottom of the dish instead of coating all of the pasta, but he said it was a good and admitted that this is a popular way to make this dish.
The next dish that came out was one that we ordered without dispute, the pork belly, tasty, tasty morsels of the best part of the pig, smoked to perfection. If you have never tried pork belly, and I'm not just talking about bacon, you should know that it tends to be a little salty, and very rich, but when cooked properly, and it was, it is truly a food experience that you should have at least once in your life.
Our final dish to come out was the ceviche tostada, I wish I had a picture for you because this dish is as beautiful as it is delicious, but when it came out we started chatting with the chef and I forgot to snap a pic. If you like seafood and salsa, this is the perfect dish for you, it is very light and refreshing and was an ideal ending to our meal, well that and my hubby getting the chance to check out the chef's smoker. Temper Grille is a unique food experience and one you should definitely have!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Uptown Kitchen

My little brother is very conscientious of what he eats, he is a vegetarian who eats vegan as much as possible, so when he came home on leave a few years ago I knew that I HAD to take him to Uptown kitchen, and when he was given the option of where to go for his farewell dinner on his most recent visit home this was his choice. Uptown Kitchen at Heritage Square in Granger offers vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free meals in addition to many options for the omnivore, made from locally sourced, fresh ingredients. The kitchen is open to the dining room and as you look in you will notice that there is no microwave, deep fryer, or heat lamp, so when they tout fresh food, made from scratch they really mean it; in fact, when my grandpa tried to order bleu cheese dressing for his salad, the waitress informed him that it wasn't one of their dressings, and the chef promptly poked his head out of the office and told the waitress that he would make bleu cheese dressing, now that is service, fresh made dressing! My grandma, who also loves bleu cheese, tried the dressing and told our waitress that it should be added to the menu. We all were impressed with their from scratch, house made dressings, I had the balsamic vinaigrette which is one of their most popular and it was delicious, in addition to salads the meals also started with chicken tortilla soup, cream of mushroom soup, and from scratch applesauce all of which were proclaimed to be delicious, especially the applesauce full of chunks of apples. It is safe to say that everyone was impressed with their meals, I had the Kobe beef burger, which was absolutely scrumptious, I am normally one to salt a burger, but this one most definitely did not need it, the flavor was fantastic and was especially complemented by the sweetness of the grilled onions. My hubby ordered a salad for dinner, which is unlike him, but it was a salad nicoise, which is something he has long wanted to try and it did not disappoint, it was chock full of seared Ahi tuna, sardines, artichoke hearts, calamata olives (the only part of the salad he didn't care for), tomatoes, and garlic parsley dressing.
My grandma got the Cobb salad, which was a big bowl full of a little bit of everything like avocado, bacon, chopped eggs, tomatoes, bleu cheese, tomatoes, chicken breast, and a sweet Cobb vinaigrette, which, like Uptown's other dressings, was delicious.
Uptown serves breakfast any time of the day, (which is something I love even though I had a burger), so my mom had the house made corned beef hash and really loved it, and since they offered raspberry jelly for her toast she was an especially happy woman.

My brother chose one of the vegetarian options for his dinner, a potpie full of root veggies, like carrots, parsnips, and potatoes covered in a flaky crust.
The deliciousness didn't stop at the soup, the salad, or even the entree it continued right into dessert where we were all impressed with the many choices offered, and even more impressed when we started eating. My grandma promptly ordered a slice of coconut cake and with a look of euphoria on her face, proclaimed it to be "ridiculous" on the first bite.
The chocolate ganache cake and a slice of cheesecake were ordered, bites were shared, and each was declared heavenly, the cheesecake might just be some of the smoothest that I have ever had. At the advice of the hostess my brother and I ordered Reese's truffles which were delectable.
In fact, I looked over and caught my brother licking his plate...yes! It was that good!!
My brother had ordered an extra Reese's truffle, I asked him why he didn't order a different truffle to try, as they had may different varieties like oreo, lemon, and snickers, but my question was answered as we walked out and he gave the little boxed truffle to the hostess who recommended the tasty treat. Upon leaving handshakes were shared, appreciation given, and prayers of safety offered, as my dad had added to our reservation that this was my brother's farewell dinner and each employee seemed to have found this out. You might pay a little more for dinner at Uptown Kitchen than you will at an average restaurant, but you are guaranteed above average food, with exceptional ingredients, and extraordinary customer service.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Moringa Tree

As a general rule when you think of eating in Elkhart County images of fried chicken, noodles, and pie are conjured, not organic, natural, vegetarian meals, but on Jackson street in Downtown Elkhart is a little restaurant that is serving up those type of meals for you nutrition minded food lovers. We stopped at The Moringa Tree for lunch as a treat for my vegetarian brother who likes to eat vegan when he can, and even us carnivores were impressed with our meals! The fresh juices and smoothies looked incredibly appealing with their fresh ingredients, but because they are fresh ingredients they were on the pricey side, and since it was a hot day we stuck with a pitcher of water passed around the table several times. My brother did order a smoothie to go and he loved it, I think that he would have ordered one of everything on the menu, but at the Vegan waitress' recommendation he got the bean burger topped with guacamole and a side of the soup du jour. He really liked the flavor of his burger and the soup, not to mention he loved the whole restaurant/store with all of their natural and health minded products, and was especially thankful when the protein powder in his smoothie wasn't soy based.
My mom was really impressed with her grilled cheese sandwich that was made with two types of raw cheese on sprouted bread topped off with pesto; I am pretty sure the word "amazing" was thrown out after the first bite. She got bruschetta and broccoli slaw on the side which she said were good, but could have used a little more seasoning.
I ate the greatest version of a PB&J I have ever had, it was nut butter with fresh berries and cinnamon and honey on sprouted bread. I have heard of sprouted bread and was nervous imagining bread with bean sprouts, but it was delicious (and did not have any sprouts in it!), I loved the heartiness and crunch that it had, and the tartness of the fresh berries against the nut butter and sweetness of the honey made for an incredible sandwich. I also got an organic fruit cup on the side and was so happy to see something other than melon and bananas, it was full of apples, oranges, berries, grapes, and all were so good.
My hubby joined us late and wasn't really hungry, but I ordered the guacamole for him anyway, and I am so glad I did! I got the first taste, and I have to say it is some of the best I have ever had, my son was literally eating it by the spoonful! And the salsa that came on the side was delicious, too, a little spicy, but delicious nonetheless.
Whether you are a health minded eater, need a place to find natural products like aluminum free deodorant or pink Himalayan salt, or just want a delicious meal, The Moringa Tree is a must try in downtown Elkhart!!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Noa Noa Wood Grill & Sushi Bar

For the most part I love the area I live in, the major problem I have, however, is that there just aren't enough local seafood places, which isn't surprising considering we aren't anywhere near any body of water that offers good seafood, but nonetheless, I love seafood and don't want to have to go to Red Lobster to get it. So you can imagine my surprise when a colleague suggested Noa Noa Wood Grill & Sushi Bar in Warsaw, a restaurant that serves fresh seafood and sushi, and fortunately for me, Warsaw happens to be the halfway meeting point for my best friend and I! The first thing that you should know about Noa Noa is that unless you make a reservation you will be sitting at either the bar or the sushi bar, and since my best friend and I met up to catch up sitting side by side wasn't our first choice, but the bar tender was friendly and took good care of us. Second thing you should know about Noa Noa is that the menu is huge, I'm talking 5 or 6 pages huge, and has a wide variety of food from small plates and sandwiches that will cost you around $10 to market price lobster tail to a wood fired rib eye for $29 all the way up to a mixed meat and seafood paella for two to share for $47, so you can find something for every budget, but if you really want to try some of their seafood, plan on spending around $20 for your meal. We both started with side salads that include onion, tomatoes, and croutons, and were allured with a wide variety of house made dressings including a Vietnamese dressing and a raspberry orange vinaigrette, my friend chose a Greek inspired dressing, feta olive vinaigrette, and I got a delicious, tart tamarind lime dressing. The salad really wasn't anything fancy, but the dressing is was made it.
With 5 pages of tempting food, dinner was a difficult choice, but I found the Noa Noa Island Grill which had a good variety to try, including grilled shrimp, coconut shrimp, an egg roll, crab Rangoon, plantains, a chef's creation called "coco nanas" which is chunks of banana with the same coating as their coconut shrimp, plus a whole mess of grilled fruit! The wood fired teriyaki shrimp was perfectly seasoned with a little kick and really well cooked/grilled, the coconut shrimp was large and delicious, I really liked the pork and shrimp egg roll, and the grilled mango that came in the mix of fruit was outstanding, in fact, we will probably be grilling mango this summer at home! I am not a big Rangoon eater, so I skipped this, I have been anxious to try plantains, but didn't love it, the texture was a little mushy for me, I thought the coco nanas were pretty good, but I am not a banana lover, so I can imagine if you like banans you will love this coconut crusted variety.
Although I didn't get a picture, my friend had the Bacon Wrapped Blue Salmon, which was a large salmon filet, wrapped in bacon, and topped with blue cheese, and while the bacon was a little wimpy and limp, the salmon still took on the smokey flavor of the bacon and was really tasty! I was very pleasantly surprised to find such a delicious seafood meal in an area that isn't close to any real seafood source. Warsaw, Indiana might not be the first place you expect to find delicious seafood, but it is truly one of the only places in the Northern Indiana area that I have found with a nice variety and freshness! I am anxious to get back to try their sushi, as every roll that went past us looked beautiful and delicious, but next time I know to make a reservation!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Rolling Scones Part II

The name "Rolling Scones," can be a bit deceiving, it can evoke images of delicious pastries, which they DO serve, but that isn't all they do. On the first and third Saturdays of every month Rolling Scones in the basement of The Old Bag Factory in Goshen serves up a Puerto Rican feast, on top of their regular delicious menu full of tempting breakfast options, soups, sandwiches, and salads. We started our meal with a shrimp ceviche, which was as beautiful as it was tasty...chock full of shrimp, lime juice, and typical salsa veggies! And if you aren't familiar with ceviche it is raw seafood that is marinated in citrus juice and served with tortilla chips for dipping.
My hubby and I decided to partake of the Puerto Rican feast which included pork and chicken (you can choose one or the other, but we wanted both), organic greens and dressing, rice and beans, and a slice of bread. The pork and chicken were unbelievably moist, generally in a restaurant meat has a tendency to be dry, but that is not the case here, and the flavor was delicious, very natural and perfectly seasoned. The dressing on the salad may actually be one of my favorite dressings, it is a light vinaigrette type, and is perfect next to the hardiness of the rice and beans, which were full of sweet potatoes, green olives, and ham; and my hubby who isn't a fan of any of those things really liked this side dish.
My mother in law ordered the "Pita Carnita" and really liked it, she was also surprised at how moist the Puerto Rican chicken in her pita was, it was complimented with Swiss cheese, fresh avocado (a staple for my hubby's California family), green olives, dill pickles, and mayo.
Whether you are looking for delicious scones to take to the office, soup and a sandwich for lunch, or a traditional Puerto Rican meal, Rolling Scones is a must try!