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Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

The Nos Gotta Go   Leave a comment

ludivine sign

Usually, it’s the company shared while dining that makes the meal. Food is the magnet, and should be more than just sustenance, but good conversation can hide numerous food/service flaws. This was the case at Ludivine in Oklahoma City. The chow wasn’t bad, but couldn’t compete with the camaraderie.

Also, we were told “No!” a lot.

ludivine drink

The restaurant prides itself on farm fresh, or at least locally-procured, ingredients. It’s a small menu with intriguing cocktails, most had references to The Beatles. For example, the Fixing the Hole: Rye whiskey, lemon, egg white, club soda and ice fill a glass, which contains a smaller empty glass into which blackberry-thyme shrub is poured. It’s fun and tasty. A request for gin instead of rye generated the first No, as in no-can-do – or more aptly, no-won’t-do.

In addition to a regular bill of fare, which apparently frequently changes, a chef’s tasting menu is offered. The most enticing course was gnocchi. I hoped to have corn chowder, not on the tasting menu, with the potato dumplings. Nope. Again.

ludivine marrow

There were a few other negative responses from our server, but we had some positive elements on the plates we did order. The roasted bone marrow was as fatty and decadent as one could want and served with plenty of crostini.

ludivine soup.jpg

Besides the drink, the creamy corn chowder was my favorite. For the money, the Waygu steak disappointed. Thankfully, chimichurri saved the meat.

ludivine waygu

Ultimately, the meal was enjoyable thanks to my friends.

Ludivine
Three Plates
805 N. Hudson Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK

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Mas Que Tacos II   Leave a comment

Among the surprises during a recent visit to Mexico City was the variety of food. I should have known that cosmopolitan Cuidad de Mexico (CDMX) would be well-represented by cuisines from around the world.

Pizzas Nosferatu has virtually no inside seating, but it’s fun to sit outside with an unobstructed view of the gourmet pies being made. The joven who took our order was friendly and, indeed, young. The thin-crusted pizzas are served on round slabs of wood. The beers available next door were astounding in the quality and variety. We enjoyed the namesake Nosferatu with spinach, ricotta, herbs and fresh ginger. The Henry with pepperoni, onion and tomato was also tasty.

cervesa

Pulled pork and smoked brisket are not foods I associate with Mexico. Now I know better. I can’t wait to return to Porco Rosso Roma. The different spins on beans (spicy frijoles) and onion rings were a treat. Sorry no photos. Next time, though.

We enjoyed breakfast at trendy Delirio Monica Patino. Here the traditional molletes (thick slices of toast topped with melted cheese and beans) had a twist: Greek olive tapanade rather than a tomato-based salsa.


My pesto at Trattoria Giocovanni was a lighter version than what I had in Italy, but the lasagna was pure Italiano.

mexicocityfish

White, mild fish, at Contramar, was exceptional both in its presentation and flavor. Half was coated with a red dried chili rub and the other half with a parsley rub. The tuna tostados and the desserts rivaled the entrees.

mexicocitydesserts

 

 

Mas que Tacos Part I   Leave a comment

It might be a cliché, or at least an exaggeration, but it seems as if there’s a taco stand on every corner in Mexico City. While the made-on-the spot, hand-held typical street food is fresh and tasty, there’s much more to the cuisine than what you’d expect. Nonetheless, this post will focus on what comes to mind when thinking of Mexican food – beyond tacos.

Cabrera mole

Mole is one of my favorites and I had it twice. Both were the dark, Oaxacan versions that were rich, smooth and blended the sweet with the savory. However, my preference was for Cabera 7’s rendition. Although, it was beautifully plated, the chicken arrived cold and had to be sent back to the kitchen. When it did arrive with the proper temperature, it was exceptional. House-made, fresh corn tortillas and white rice helped absorb some of the sauce so none of it went uneaten.

cabrera music

The other mole was at Sanborn’s. This ubiquitous chain has everything: clothing, accessories, a pharmacy, shoes, a restaurant and more. The mole here was too sweet; it lacked the balance that’s the hallmark of the dish. It’s a department store, afterall.

Burritos are less common in Mexico than you might think, but Ensalada y Burritos Gourmet demonstrated what many fast-food burrito chains lack: an abundance of flavor. My thick burrito was packed with pibil, a colorful, more savory-than-spicy version of pulled pork, with rice and black beans.

We did venture away from the standards, but that’s for another post.

Cabrera 7
Plaza Luis Cabrera 7, Cuauhtémoc, Roma Norte,
06700 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexico

Ensalada y Burritos Gourmet
Coahuila 125,Roma Nte.,
06700 Ciudad de México, D.F.,México, Mexico

No Buttermilk Biscuits Here   Leave a comment

crisp interior

One of my middle son’s favorite foods is fried chicken; I’ve jumped on that band wagon with him. It started with my introduction to Bouchon’s buttermilk rendition. It soon evolved to include waffles. But, for now, I’ll stick to the hens.

When Food and Wine magazine listed the best places in the country to find the crispy comfort food it was like finding a treasure map. The timing was perfect as I was making a trip to Chicago, which boasts three of the 33 on the list. We only had time to try one: Crisp.

crisp chicken

When we wandered into the small, unimpressive order-at-the-counter eatery I was surprised. The preparation here is not what’s served with mashed potatoes and peas. This was Korean fried chicken, which sent my taste buds in a completely different direction than they’d traveled before.

First, diners choose between wings or boneless strips. Then there’s a choice of sauces. These range from plain, slightly sweet, a smoky spicy and a Buffalo spicy. I went with the sweet. Honey, ginger, garlic and soy were the obvious flavors coating crispy pieces of chicken that had been flash-fried twice. They were sticky, thanks to the honey, but not at all greasy.

crisp chickens

Crisp also serve sandwiches, Buddha bowls and Korean burritos. Sides include brown rice, onion rings, greens, kimchee (sic) and shoestring potatoes.

I have my go-to places for traditional fried chicken. Nonetheless, I don’t mind continuing the quest for perfect poultry, especially when I find such different spins like Crisp’s.

crisp inside

Crisp
Four Plates
2910 N. Broadway
Chicago, Ill.

Museum Kitchen Artistry   Leave a comment

 

museum moose

It’s not unusual for museums to have exceptional gift shops and restaurants. The National Museum of Wildlife Art earns kudos for both. The aptly named Palate offers a creative menu and expansive views of the National Elk Refuge just north of Jackson, Wyo.

Several bronze sculptures are visible from U.S. Highway 191, but the collection is more impressive in the museum’s parking lot and lobby. Still, it’s the food that recently garnered our attention.

Salads, pasta, soup and sandwiches comprise the menu. An extensive wine list also available.

We opted to share three plates: the Pork Belly BLT, Bison Gyro and Roasted Green Beans.

palate blt

The BLT had several spins, besides the fact that it featured pork belly. With arrugula and tomato jam, the sandwich was further elevated thanks to lemon caper aioli and sunflower pesto. The works were served on ciabatta making this no ordinary diner mainstay. House-made chips completed the plating.

The gyro was, perhaps, my least favorite. This may have been only because the BLT was so exceptional. Shredded meat with creamy, whipped feta, pickled onion and cucumbers were served on Indian frybread. It was also accompanied by chips.

palate green beans
Almond vinaigrette and thin crispy slices of onion covering the roasted green beans. These were hard to share.

palatedessert

Harder to share was the Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar not only because it was delicious, but it was difficult to cut. The rich peanut butter mouse on a pretzel crust topped with chocolate was like an upscale Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Palate
Four Plates
National Museum of Wildlife Art
2820 Rungius Rd.
Jackson, Wyo

Stop When Passing Through   Leave a comment

chillgrill1

For most, Rock Springs, Wyo., isn’t exactly a destination spot, but if traveling in either direction on Interstate-80 or heading north to Jackson Hole, it’s good to know there’s at least one spot to grab a quick, and tasty, meal. Besides, it’s hard to pass up a place called Chill Grill.

This is mostly a burger and fountain joint, without a counter. The space is small and decorated with 45s, and 33s on the wall. There’s a tribute to Elvis on one side and Marilyn Monroe on the other. Chill Grill evoke memories of the Fonz and Happy Days even without carhop service.

chillgrill2

The menu offers sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and salads, along with multiple pages of ice cream treats.

The juicy cheeseburger came with fresh-cut French fries. A “burger bar” lets diners add their own basic extras like pickles and onions.

chillgrill3

Crispy chicken caught my eye; it’s available as an entrée or on top of salads. I had the latter. Sliced chicken breast served on a bed of greens with tomatoes and honey mustard dressing. I wasn’t a fan of the dressing, but the chicken was indeed crispy and I let myself believe I was having a healthy meal.

I was tempted to have a strawberry shake, but resisted only to succumb to a chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream cone so large I couldn’t finish it. The hot fudge sundae featured the real stuff, although the topping wasn’t hot enough to even threaten melting the vanilla ice cream.

Chill Grill
Four Plates
1758 Elk St.
Rock Springs, Wyo

A Non-Taxing Experience   3 comments


Full disclosure: I have known the executive chef at Income Tax since he was in first grade; his line cook all his life: he’s my youngest son. Although I had nothing to do with Ryan Henderson’s rise to his role, I will take a little credit for Andrew’s interest in food and cooking.
It might be better if I had no knowledge or familiarity with the kitchen staff since it could be perceived that my judgement is clouded. It is. Nonetheless, the meal ranks high among my most deliciously memorable.


Income Tax, located in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago, and Ryan have garnered numerous accolades since its opening December. All are well deserved and the result of careful planning by the owners and Ryan. The concept is a wine bar with food designed to pair with wines representing Spain, Germany, France and Italy. Rest assured wines of other countries are also available. The contemporary vibe and wonderful service complete the dining experience.


I was especially impressed with the elements of creativity. Among the appetizers is a house-made pretzel served with a savory and sweet cherry mustard. That’s  right, cherry mustard. Scallops are paired with chorizo for a lively blend of flavors. A house made bratwurst features strawberry relish. A soup made with ringlets of caraway crepe adds lamb bacon (made in-house). The list goes on.


Of course, no meal is complete without dessert: rich chocolate caneles, port ice cream and chocolate mousse are the ideal way to end a perfect meal.

Excellent work, kitchen crew — even if our ties are long standing!

Income Tax
Five Plates
5959 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL