Time for a Break, But Not Really!!

      Comments Off on Time for a Break, But Not Really!!

As you can see by the date of the last post I’ve been on a break.  I should have posted this a few months ago, but that break is because there is a new addition to our Food and Brews family!   I’ll be taking an extended break from directly blogging on this site, however, there are still many ways in which I’m sharing my passion for food and beer via social media on a daily basis.

1. Follow me on Twitter @CleFoodandBrews.  I’m constantly posting about food, beer and supporting Cleveland!

2. Join the Cleveland Craft Beer Community Page on Facebook.  Here you can post and read about beer, and learn about just how great we have it here in Cleveland in terms of high quality, award winning craft beer!

3. Follow me on Instagram.  As you can guess, I post pictures of tasty food and beers!

Between these three social media outlets you’ll be able to hear from me and communicate with me way more often than I would ever be able to do on this site!

Thanks for all of your support!
Cheers!

All About Beer: World Beer Fest 2013 Review

      No Comments on All About Beer: World Beer Fest 2013 Review

On Saturday, July 13th, I had the chance to attend the All About Beer: World Beer Fest.  For my review I’m going to break down the positive and negative aspects of the event.  I will also offer some suggestions for improvement.

The Positive Side
The Ohio Brewers had their own tent outside which allowed people to enjoy the sunshine and the cool lake breeze while trying some tasty brews.  The Ohio breweries represented about 40% of the breweries in attendance. I was happy to see many of the actual brew masters in attendance.  I’ve had most of the beers offered in this tent before, but there were a few new ones that I had the chance to try.  Cornerstone had a coffee infused Milk Stout called Rocket Cow, and Brew Kettle had a Hefewizen called Der Sommer Weizen that were both very tasty.  There was also a cask ale section in the back of the Great Lakes tent.  This allowed people a chance to try some fun cask ales such as the Brew Kettle 4Cs with Citra and the Oskar Blues Sterling Dry Hopped Blackberry Dales Pale Ale.

In order to try any non-Ohio beers, attendees had to walk inside a large metal warehouse where the rest of the breweries were set up.  The brewery representation inside was good, not great, but I was very happy to see Victory Brewing bring a rare beer to the event.  Victory Brewing tapped Liberty Bell Ringer, a massive Double IPA that was brewed with Mosaic and experimental hop #483!  This beer is so rare that this will be the only keg that the Cleveland market will see, and only 3 total kegs made it to the state of Ohio.  A few other inside highlights were the Grand Imperial Stout by Elevator (only offered in the VIP section), and the Waterloo Pilsner (which is not yet sold in Cuyahoga County.)

Beer wise this festival was average for me, however there were a good number of beers at the event for people who are new to craft beer.   Good news for them is that most of the beers at the event are available at your local pub and on your local beer store shelves right now.

The Not So Positive Side
The event took place behind Cleveland Browns stadium.  The weather couldn’t have been better, and we all know Clevelanders love being outside on a beautiful sunny day.   However, 60% of the breweries and the VIP section were inside a closed warehouse that honestly was dirty and dingy.   The massive doors to the warehouse couldn’t open which would have at least let the attendees have a view of the lake a bit of a breeze.   Sure the warehouse provided shade, but by 1 p.m. the massive steel building became an oven. Here are a few pictures that will better show what I am talking about.

I was not the only one who was displeased by the setting.  I spoke to many of the people who were in attendance and they too wished the entire event would have taken place outside the warehouse.  Also, many breweries that were inside voiced their displeasure with the set up. They voiced that they would have rather set up outside either in the sun or with their own pop up tent.   I understand using the warehouse if the weather was poor, but it would have been great to take advantage of the beautiful day outside.
Why not set up some of the breweries out here?
This event was about craft beer.  I see no reason why this vendor was even allowed in the door to sell these shirts.  Drunk 1, Drunk Bitch 1…Really!!  How about setting up a table and selling brewery shirts instead!  This would help enhance the new craft beer drinkers experience rather than making them think the fest was all about getting drunk.
The VIP tickets were $75 each.  For $75 you got in 1 hour early, some buffet style food, access to 7 extra beers, and a glass to take home.   Also, as I mentioned above, the VIP section was inside the warehouse, and that just can’t happen!  In my opinion these extra beers and “perks” were nowhere close to being worth the extra $35 per ticket.
Ways to Improve
If the World Beer Fest comes back to Cleveland next year, they are going to have to improve some aspects of the event in order to compete with our other local beer events like Winter Warmer, Brewzilla, Blues and Brews, Fat Head’s Brewer’s Brawl and IPA Fest…just to name a few.
1. Improve the setting of the event.  I loved the location choice, just didn’t enjoy the set up of the event at all.
2. Improve the beer list, especially the VIP section.  For an extra $35 the VIP section should have at least 10 unique brews, by unique I mean we can’t easily go and find them at our local beer store.  Breweries should be encouraged to bring at least one beer that is somewhat unique.  This picture sums up some of my frustration.  Sierra Nevada only brought cans of Summer Fest and Torpedo, which are two very common brews.  Simply adding a beer like Hoptimum or Narwhal Imperial Stout would have made this table a much better destination for both newbies and for craft beer snobs.
3. Invite more Food Trucks.  Do away with the buffet and let VIP ticket holders get a choice of 1 item from a food truck.  By having more food trucks, they also will not get overwhelmed and they will be able to serve everyone at the event including the general admission folks.
To me, the World Beer Fest got off to a rocky start here in Cleveland.  Sure there were some highlights to the event, but there were aspects of the event which need to improve when the event comes back to Cleveland next year and expects the support of the local craft beer lovers here in Cleveland, from newbie to beer snob.
Disclosure: I was granted media passes to attend this event.  These thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 

All About Beer: World Beer Fest Cleveland Info and Giveaway

First, where have I been?   To keep a long story short, the past 4 months have been simply crazy.  My wife and I were in the process of selling our house and madly looking for a new one.  During this time, we decided to save as much money as we could, so going out for dinner and drinks as often as we were had to end!  Although we have not yet found our next home,  I’m hoping to get back to writing more this summer since we’ll have a bit more free time, so look for some tasty food and craft beer posts on this site!

So, it looks like All About Beer Magazine is coming to town July 13th with their World Beer Fest.  This is the first year of this festival here in Cleveland, so it will be very interesting to see what this outside event has to offer to our outstanding craft beer community. To help with your decision making check out the events beer and brewery list.

Like other beer fests, World Beer Fest will have two sessions. Here is a quick run down of what you’ll get at each session.

General Admission 1-5pm: $40

  • Tasting glass and forty taste tickets for 2oz samples from over 200 of the finest craft beers!
  • Access to the Art of Beer Village for food & beer pairings, educational seminars & cask ale
VIP Admission 12-5pm: $75
  • VIP preview hour 12-1pm
  • Tasting glass and forty taste tickets for 2oz samples from over 200 of the finest craft beers!
  • Access to the Art of Beer Village for food & beer pairings, educational seminars & cask ale
  • Festival commemorative glass
  • Private hospitality area and bathroom area
  • Bonus selection of beers not available to general admission
  • Upscale food buffet
The 4-hour general tasting event will feature over 200 beers from over 70 local, national and international breweries, all serving their finest beers. Enjoy beer exhibits, seminars, live music & more!
The Art of Beer Village sponsored by Great Lakes Brewing Company, will focus on Great Lakes’ Urban Farming Initiative, educating festival attendees on how to pair food with beer and create recipes from their own garden.  The Art of Beer Village provides a patron experience that not only showcases this initiative but also moving farm to table through chef demonstrations.Demonstrations will be held at 2 and 4pm, while food and beer samplings will take place throughout the entire festival.
The Art of Beer Village will also include a learning station that focuses on the element of beer making while allowing patrons to sample local ingredients and cask ale from local breweries as well as sit in on educational seminars given by some of the finest in the beer industry.

I’ve been asked by All About Beer Magazine to help spread the word for this event and they have given me two general admission tickets to giveaway to one lucky reader.

The lucky winner is Doug with comment #7!  Congrats and Cheers!
There are 3 ways to Enter The Giveaway
1. Leave one comment on this post telling me who you are and what beer from the list you are most looking forward to trying. 
 
2. Share this post on Facebook by posting this link: http://hops.me/5mja
Then come back here and post a comment with your Facebook link.  You can only do this once, and it counts as one entry.
 
3. Share this on Twitter
I love #CraftBeer & want to win 2 tickets to the World Beer Fest from @CleFoodandBrews & @AllAboutBeer http://hops.me/5mja

Then come back here and post a comment with your Twitter link. This will count as one entry. You can do this every single day.  Just make sure to leave a comment each time you tweet!
Rules:
–You have until Friday, July 5th 2013 at 9:00am EST to enter.
–Comments that do not include a way to identify the poster will not be eligible , examples–Unknown and Anonymous entries do not count.
–The winner will be picked at random using Random.org.   
–Only comments  with links left on this post will count.  If you tweet, facebook or enter in any other way be sure to leave a comment here telling me you did it with the link to that post.  
–You must leave a SEPARATE comment for each Entry, otherwise your entry will only count once.  
–Winner has 24 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 

Disclosure: I’ve been granted 2 GA Tickets to giveaway and media access to cover the event and all thoughts and opinions expressed are 100% my own. 

Cleveland Indians Opening Day 2013

      No Comments on Cleveland Indians Opening Day 2013

With the Indians home opener coming up on April 8th, I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite food and brew places around the Jake!  Yes, I still call it the Jake even though it is technically “Progressive Field.”

Here are six of my favorite places to get a tasty bite to eat and a refreshing craft beer before the game!

  • Greenhouse Tavern–My snack of choice before heading to the game has to be the frites!  The good news is they come in three different ways.  First, the standard Pommes Frites have raw garlic, rosemary & garlic aioli. If you want to step it up a notch they also have the Gravy Frites.  These are pommes frites with mozzarella cheese curd and brown gravy.  For the ultimate experience they also have the Animal Frites.  These pommes frites come topped with bacon, two fried eggs, whole grain mustard, mozzarella cheese curd and brown gravy.  To wash all that down, don’t worry, Greenhouse Tavern has plenty of craft beer. They always have two drafts that they brewed in collaboration with Victory Brewing on tap, plus and plenty of bottled and canned craft beer favorites.
  • The Winking Lizard–My personal favorite from the menu at the Winking Lizard is the Buffalo Chicken Wrap.  This wrap comes with slices of chicken breast covered in the Winking Lizards hot sauce and rolled up in soft tortilla with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese. The Winking Lizard is one of the best places to get a quality craft beer anywhere in Cleveland.  For the most up to date list of what is on tap, check out the monthly placemat which lists every draft beer they have on tap. (Rotating Draft selections change monthly.)
  • Winks Bar and Grille–Wink’s is a new Winking Lizard concept that opened in late 2012.  Here you’ll find a craft beer list that is Ohio heavy, with 33 different brews on tap. They also have a wonderful Beer Cheese Dip that hits the spot before watching the Tribe!  The Beer Cheese Dip is a spicy hop cheese dip that is made with a local IPA, spicy seasonings, and red pepper.  It is finished with aged white cheddar and cream cheese and is served with garlic crostinis.
  • Noodle Cat–If you are looking for some tasty Japanese-American food look no further.  My favorite food choice would have to be the Steam Buns.  With so many choices it is hard to pick just one flavor, but don’t worry, you can mix and match!  Beer wise, Noodle Cat does a nice job carrying various cans and drafts.  You’ll want to check out the menu before hand to see what they have.
  • Great Lakes Brewing–The best part about going to Great Lakes Brewing before a Tribe game is they will shuttle you to and from the game. The shuttle is only $1 per person and runs continuously runs 45 minutes before and after the game, except on Sunday’s. (Offer is only valid with additional Brewpub, Bar and/or Gift Shop purchase).  While you are there get an order of the fish and chips, which is Alaskan cod fried in Edmund Fitzgerald Porter batter with a side of pub fries.  Beer wise, be sure to check out what they have on tap as pub only exclusives, you don’t want to miss these!
  • Tremont Tap House-This one is not within walking distance, but the great food and huge draft beer selection make this worth the 5-10 minute drive!  I love the Buttermilk Blue Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon Burger paired with any of the fresh hoppy IPAs they have on tap.
No matter where you decide to go and eat and drink before an Indians game, remember to always be safe and GO TRIBE!!!

Chinato in Downtown Cleveland

      No Comments on Chinato in Downtown Cleveland
With some free time over the last few days of our Winter Break, my wife and I decided to finally have dinner at a restaurant we have both been dying to eat at, Chinato.  With the click of a button the night before, we had a 6pm reservation set up thanks Open Table.  When we arrived, we were kindly greeted and seated immediately.

Food
After looking over the menu offerings we were a little bit overwhelmed on what to order, everything sounded so good.  To start, we decided to share a small portion of the gnocchi with tomato, basil, toasted garlic, butter and Parmesan   Simply put, the gnocchi was some of the best gnocchi we have ever tried.  The texture was light, yet it still had the density in which you expect in gnocchi.  Top that with some basil, toasted garlic, and fresh Parmesan and you have yourself a perfect dish.  When I go back there is a good chance I’ll get the larger portion they offer as my entree.

For an entree, my wife went with the chicken legs “saltimbocca” style.  The chicken legs were deboned and then stuffed with prosciutto and cheese. The chicken was cooked perfectly, but the prosciutto used was extra fatty and took away from the overall flavor of the dish.   The polenta was smooth and creamy, while the kale added a nice spicy contrast.
For my entree I went with sea scallops sauteed with peperoncini, escarole, and garlic oil roasted potatoes.  I really enjoyed everything about my dish.  The scallops were cooked perfectly with just a hint of the spicy peperoncini present.  The escarole was sauteed with lemon and bits of peperoncini flakes.  Finally, the potatoes were simply amazing.  Soft, tender, and full of flavor were the three very large garlic roasted potatoes.
Drinks
I can tell you that from looking over the drink menu, even a craft beer lover will be pleased with the selection. Dogfish Head, Bells, and Great Lakes all were on the tap list, in addition to a decent selection of craft bottles.  Prices ranged from $5-9 per pint, and per bottle.   Of course if you are looking for wine, Chinato has a very extensive wine list that can range in price from $10 a glass to over $100 a bottle.
Service and Atmosphere
The service throughout the night was prompt, informative and friendly, everything you would expect at a restaurant the caliber of Chinato. The menu is a little overwhelming to read but our server explained and answered any questions we had beautifully.  Chinato also has a wonderful vibe to it.  We both found the interior of the restaurant to feel very homey, but still very modern.

With tasty food, a good drink list, and great service we would highly recommend dinner at Chinato!

Sunday Supper: Flank Steak Carnitas

      No Comments on Sunday Supper: Flank Steak Carnitas

Recently my wife mentioned going back to Momocho where we had a great meal about a year ago.  That got me thinking, why not try to make something Momocho like at home?   We had all day Sunday to cook, so why not utilize the slow cooker too.  Here is what we came up with: A take on Carnitas, which are traditionally made with Pork, but instead we used Flank Steak.

The Ingredients:
1.5 lb Flank Steak
1 yellow onion finely chopped
1 green pepper finely chopped
1 red pepper finely  chopped
1 jalapeno finely chopped with seeds mostly removed
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (use more if you like spicy!)
1 tsp fresh ground sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
A package of fresh corn tortillas
1 avocado
Fresh chopped cilantro
1 lime

Directions

Mix the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and black pepper in a small bowl.  Then rub your spice mix all over your flank steak. Then, place the steak at the bottom of the crock pot. Cover the steak with the chopped onions, bell peppers, and jalapeno pepper. Turn heat on LOW and cook for 8 hours.  Don’t try to rush this by using high for a shorter amount of time, all good things come to those who wait! After 8 hours, shred the meat with a fork. It should be incredibly easy to shred.  You can feel free to eat it right away, or leave the shredded meat in the pot for another 30 minutes if you’d like. To serve, heat your corn tortillas in a skillet on the stove. Then, spoon some carnitas on a tortilla and top with avocado, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime.#

I have to say this was a winning recipe. The meat alone was amazing, but paired with rich avocado and a bit of lime, they were outstanding.  I didn’t want to stop eating them!  If you like this style of food I highly suggest you try this recipe   As a note, be sure to get good quality tortillas because the meat will be very juicy, and will easily soak through lesser tortillas.   Also, the 1.5lb steak would be enough to serve 3-4 people without having left overs. Since it was just the two of us, we used our left overs the next day in a salad topped with avocado, chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime, which was also very tasty!  Cheers!

Biga Wood Fired Pizzeria in Kirtland

      No Comments on Biga Wood Fired Pizzeria in Kirtland
Neither my wife or I particularly enjoy cooking on a Friday evening so, we decided to finally make our way out to Kirtland to visit Biga Wood Fired Pizzeria.  What intrigued me most about Biga was their style of pizza.  To give you a little more background here is what Biga has to say: “Biga Wood Fired Pizzeria specializes in the authentic Naples-style (“Napoletana”) pizza pie prepared and cooked just as it was 168 years ago in a wood-fired hearth oven at over 900° F. Our mission is to provide our guests authentic Napoletana pizza, house-made seasonal tasting dishes, fresh salads, and unique desserts using only the finest fresh ingredients, cooked using time-honored traditions and served in a warm, inviting atmosphere.”

As we walked in at 6:00 pm on a Friday evening we walked into a half full restaurant. The only problem was that we were told those tables were reserved and we couldn’t get seated until 7:45 pm! One of the owners came up to the front of the small restaurant and asked how we were doing.  I said we didn’t have a reservation and she immediately jumped into action and moved a few tables to make room for us.  The customer service was already off to a great start.  That being said, be sure to secure a reservation because from what we heard, Biga is pretty busy all of the time!

Food
To start our meal we decided to split one of the special salads for the evening.  It consisted of pickled carrots, pickled onions, pistachios, beets, blue cheese and a light vinaigrette. As you can see in the picture, the salad portion was gigantic, clearly enough for two people who plan to eat pizza too!  We loved everything about this salad, especially the balance of the light dressing and equal amounts of ingredients to go with the great amount of lettuce.  I really liked how they incorporated two different kinds of beets in the salad because they each gave a different textural element to go along with the crunchy pistachios and the soft carrots and onions.
Pizza wise you have your work cut out for you making a choice of what to eat!  They had 13 different pizzas on the menu, all of which sounded fantastic.  We compromised on the Sweet Sausage Pizza, $15.  It came topped with freshly crafted-in-house sweet sausage, locally grown oregano, tomato, and fresh mozzarella cheese.  The crust on this pie was cooked to perfection.  The crispy, but not overcooked crust held up wonderfully to the ingredients on top. Speaking of those ingredients, the sweet sausage was also outstanding. Every bite that we had with it was well balanced and delicious.  The light spread of sauce and the incorporation of the fresh mozzarella didn’t overpower the flavor of the crust or the sausage.  If we had one small complaint about this tasty pizza, we both were looking for a bit more seasoning with sea salt.  If you didn’t get a bite of sausage and/or mozzarella, the presence of seasoning was somewhat lacking.
Something we didn’t know until the end of our meal is that Biga has one heck of a dessert offering!  If you like fresh homemade cakes and pies (who doesn’t?), save some room because what we saw was big and looked delicious!
Drinks
Biga is a BYOB establishment, so your wine and beer choices are unlimited.  Just know they do charge a $2.00 glass fee.
Atmosphere and Service
Biga is a very small restaurant with a cozy but vibrant atmosphere.  From every seat in the house you have a view of kitchen and the wood fire stove. From start to finish, we had wonderful service.  The owner, who seated us and then said a friendly goodbye, should be commended.  Keeping customers happy should be the #1 goal of the front of the house, and she clearly understands that!  Our waitress was also very friendly and helpful when we had some questions about the specials and pizzas. Overall, we have to give Biga a thumbs up.  We will surely be back with a few craft beers and to try a few more pizzas.

Sunday Supper: Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter Braised Short Ribs

A few weeks ago, my wife and I attended the Willoughby Brewing Company Cask Ale Night during Cleveland Beer Week.  Before we left, we snagged a growler (64oz) of a very special version of the ever popular Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter.  This version was cask conditioned with the addition of cocoa nibs! The cask condition version of the beer was outstanding, and instantly gave me an idea.  Cask condition ales are not really meant to go home in a growler with you to drink, but we figured we could still use this amazing beer to braise some short ribs. The cost for a growler of Willoughby Brewing Company beer ranges from $13-16 if you own a growler and only $3 more if you need to buy a new growler.  In this post today, I’ll share what I did and how it tasted, Cheers!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs bone-in short ribs
  • Kosher salt and/or fresh ground sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 whole cloves of garlic
  • 1 large yellow onions, sliced in 1/2″ thick half rings
  • 4 carrot, chopped into 1/2″ pieces (You can use more or less depending on how much you love carrots
  • 24oz of Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter from Willoughby Brewing
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 2 bay leaves

Season ribs at least 24 hours in advance with salt and pepper, then refrigerate until you are ready to start.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Pour the olive oil into a dutch oven. Heat over medium-high heat. Brown short ribs, Cook for 3-4 minutes per side until nicely browned. Set the ribs off to the side on a plate and then return the pan to medium heat.   Add in the onions, garlic and carrots and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are just softened and beginning to caramelize.  This took about 4-6 minutes.

 

Add the beer into the pot and bring to a boil. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pot to dislodge any remaining food aka, the good stuff. Pour in the beef stock and bring liquid to a boil again (this shouldn’t take long).  Reduce heat to a simmer and place ribs in the pot. Pour any juices released from the ribs that remain on the plate into the pot. Toss in the rosemary sprig and bay leaf between the short ribs. Check the liquid level of the pot to make sure the ribs are all mostly submerged in the liquid. If necessary, add more beer but you should still be able to see the tops!!

Put on the lip and place your pot in the oven and cook maintaining a simmer for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until ribs are fork tender.  The slower you cook them the better! While braising, gently turn the ribs with tongs, as not to tear up the meat, every 45-60 minutes until done.

When the ribs have finished braising, carefully remove the meat and vegetables from the pot. Tilt the dutch oven to the side to gather juices in one end and skim off as much surface fat as possible with a big spoon. Either in the dutch oven or a saucepan, reduce the remaining liquid by simmering strongly for 10-15 minutes. Reduced sauce should be syrupy. Taste sauce and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Once you have your sauce, feel free to dig in and enjoy by spreading the sauce on and around the ribs and vegetables.  Also, don’t forget your glass of Peanut Butter Coffee Porter to go with your meal, you should have 20oz left out of your growler!

First, the good.  The meat and vegetables were super tender and packed with flavor.   You could definitely taste the roasty porter backbone. The reduction, although it took 20 minutes, was worth every second.  The peanut butter coffee flavor came back to life and really completed the dish. Do not skip this step, but a word of advice is you really only need about 6oz of the liquid to get a good reduction.  If you would try to reduce all of the remaining liquid you would be waiting about an hour!  Now, the not so good.  The rosemary really overpowered everything.  1 rosemary sprig was too much, and if I had to do it again I would use way less, or probably even none at all.  All of the other flavors in the dish worked so well together the rosemary actually seemed out of place.  Although the rosemary was a misstep, the dish was a home run and we look forward to making it again.   For my next attempt I might even go sweeter, with some maple syrup and/or even some brown sugar.  I think these ingredients would complement any porter or stout you use to braise with.

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading about this dish as much as I liked cooking and eating it!  I encourage you to try making it with Willoughby Brewing’s Peanut Butter Cup Coffee Porter or even their regular Gutterpup Porter, but really any porter or stout will do.  If you end up making this dish, post a comment on here and let me know what you thought, Cheers!

Chops Grille and Tap House in Geneva

      No Comments on Chops Grille and Tap House in Geneva

Recently, my wife and I met two of our good friends for dinner at Chops Grille and Tap House in Geneva.  We picked this restaurant because it was halfway between where we live and where our friends live in Erie, PA.    If you look at the menu online, you will see that they have a very large menu with all different types of food, but from what my friend and I heard Chops is known for their good BBQ.

Food
To start our meal our table was served a basket of rolls along with creamy butter and cinnamon butter.  We all agreed that we could have eaten a basket of bread each with the cinnamon butter, it was delicious.

Our meals also each came with a house salad.  The Italian dressing that I got was underwhelming in terms of flavor and tasted mostly of white vinegar. Thank goodness my wife shared some of her balsamic dressing with me, it was much better in terms of flavor and consistency.
For entrees, both my friend and I picked the Smoked Beef Brisket. The menu described it as “Tender smoked brisket of beef served with a light Carolina BBQ sauce.”  For my side I opted for a sweet potato.  As soon as our plates arrived my friend and I both commented on how thin, and sloppy, the brisket was sliced, and the fact that it just didn’t look that appetizing.   Looks are one thing, but in the end it is always how the food tastes that really matters.  I wish I had some good news to say about the flavor of our dish, but both my friend and I agreed that we were not fans for several reasons.  First, the brisket was sliced way too thin and was very fatty. I’m all for loving fat, but this was just too much.  Second, there was entirely too much BBQ sauce on the brisket.  The overly sweet sauce totally over powered the dish and made it impossible to even taste what should have been the star of the dish, the brisket.   If there was one positive on my plate it was the sweet potato with the delicious cinnamon butter!  .
As disappointed as I was with my dinner, my wife had a very different experience with hers.  She ordered a Top Sirloin steak cooked to a medium temperature.  What she got was a perfectly cooked and seasoned steak that tasted amazing.   The green beans were also cooked and seasoned perfectly.   Needless to say, I was kicking myself that I didn’t order her dish.  The steak was a very good size and she shared some of it with me.   If we went back to Chops, I would order this steak over and over again.
Drinks
The drink menu at Chops does offer a few craft beer choices in addition to having what you would normally find (Bud, Miller, Coors).  There were two Dogfish beers on tap, 60min IPA and Punkin.  We all selected Punkin which was very fresh and tasted great.  They also had Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Coors Batch 19, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, and Great Lakes Dortmunder on
tap.  I wouldn’t call this Tap House a craft beer bar by any means, but I was happy they at least offered some craft options.
Service and Atmosphere
The restaurant had two main areas, a sports bar area, and a dining room area.  The sports bar area was very loud and we had to almost scream to talk to each other.  I’m glad we just got one drink there while we waited for our table.  Dinner in that area just would not have been fun, unless we wanted to watch some sort of sporting event together.   The dining room area was much quieter and made for a nice dinner experience.  Our waitress was very friendly and made sure my wife’s steak was cooked properly. (She mentioned that she checked the temperature right before she brought it out to us.)  I’d had to say our service for the night was good.
Overall, it is hard for me to really judge Chops.  On one had my entree was simply not enjoyable, yet my wife’s steak was excellent.  The waitress clearly made an effort to make sure my wife’s dish was excellent, did she do the same for mine, or is that just how they do brisket at Chops?   I guess I’ll have to head back to Chops for dinner again to see…

Sunday Supper: Spaghetti Squash and Kale

      No Comments on Sunday Supper: Spaghetti Squash and Kale
This Sunday Supper was cooked and written by my lovely wife, Enjoy!!
Sunday suppers have seemed to disappear since last fall, but I promise you we have still been eating!  Wedding planning took over most of our time and creativity in the kitchen. Tonight I was looking to make spaghetti squash as a healthier alternative to pasta. The meal came together as I looked into our fridge for ingredients I could incorporate with the spaghetti squash. I am always looking for different ways to cook kale so I thought, why not try to add this? As the meal came together, I thought this would be a good dish to share!   Here are the ingredients I used:
  • 1 seeded spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/3 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup of grape tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp of salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp of pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/8 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and seed the squash. Spread melted butter and 1 clove of diced garlic on the inside of the spaghetti squash. Bake squash rind side up for about 30 minutes. While squash is baking, sauté 1 tablespoon of olive oil, chicken stock, salt, pepper and sliced onions. Once the onions become soft, add garlic. Add chopped kale, sliced grape tomatoes, and chopped basil to the onions.  Use a fork to scrape and scoop out the spaghetti squash. Add the squash to the sauté pan. Add remaining olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste and mix. Finish off with parmesan cheese.
Modifications- if you do not like garlic heavy meals, you can exclude the garlic on the squash or add the garlic earlier when sautéing the onion to let the flavor fade more. I also think adding salt and pepper on the spaghetti squash before baking it would add more flavor.