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Archive for the ‘salads’ Tag

Stop When Passing Through   Leave a comment

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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.

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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.

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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

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A Bit ‘O the Blarney   Leave a comment

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The menu at McGinty’s Wood Oven Pub identifies the restaurant as “A Touch of Ireland in Colorado!” This is no delicate light-handed touch, though. It’s as if every day was meant to celebrate St. Paddy. The odd thing is that it works.

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Nearly every menu item is a spin on something Irish: from appetizers heavy on cheese, the color green and stout to the entrees, including the pizzas, also known as “Patty Cakes.” But first, back to the appetizers. We ordered the Brick Oven Brie served warm, but not gooey, so it spread easily over pieces of flatbread, slices of pears and apple. The star of the plate was the fig jam which complemented the smooth, creamy brie. We were amused, but not tempted, by the Hun Lee O’Connor: egg rolls filled with corned beef and cabbage.

Since it was lunch I didn’t want anything very heavy, the Fields of Anthenry Salad seemed a nice fit. The large plate of field greens was difficult to eat; and maybe having a second dish with brie was not the best choice, but the honey mustard vinaigrette provided a nice zip. The salad was an impressive combination of flavors and textures.

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The menu also features an array of sandwiches, several soups, the aforementioned pizza, as well as pizza pot pies.

Although we weren’t there on St. Patrick’s Day, it was close enough so we ordered Guinness with Chambord. The combination, while sublime, transported us, but not necessarily to the Emerald Isle.

McGinty’s Wood Oven Pub
Three-and-a-half Plates
11115 W. Highway 24
Divide, CO

Il Vicino Pizza   Leave a comment

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Typically, I have plenty of time to study the menu on the wall at Il Vicino. That’s because the line is long enough that I can read through the descriptions of pizzas and other offerings while waiting to place my order at the counter. Recently, however, there was no line, so even though there was no pressure to make a quick decision, I felt uneasy. I worried that people aren’t frequenting this gourmet pizza place like they should.

The small eatery offers more than dozen types of pizza, several calzones and Panini, salads and a few pasta dishes. From a traditional Margherita to pies with roasted chicken, tuna, even spicy shrimp. It’s often difficult to decide. Even with no one in line behind us I was torn.

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We eventually settled on two salad/pizza combinations. The Pizza al Pesto is embellished with fresh pesto, sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, pine nuts and mozzarella. The bread-like crust was thick with wood-smoked flavor. The Spinach Salad was the perfect complement with a fresh pesto dressing, roasted red peppers, red onions, pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese over a bed of spinach. The other combination included the Campagnola: a traditional marinara, sausage, mushrooms, and, instead of goat cheese, Asiago cheese. The sausage stood out in the crowd of ingredients. The beautifully-plated Insalata Il Vicino was a rift on a Cobb Salad with rows of chopped roasted chicken, diced egg, Gorgonzola, artichoke hearts and walnuts.

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While leaving, the line in front of the menu board began to back up. Whew!

Il Vicino
Four Plates
11 S. Tejon St.
Colorado Springs, CO

Ambiance and More   Leave a comment

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Creekside dining at The Wines of Colorado provides a relaxing location; the fact that it was once a convenience store somehow adds to the experience.

One of my friends joked that The Wines should get an award for the best re-use of a 7-Eleven; she’s right. It takes a strong memory, or good imagination, to envision the space as a one-time Slurpee dispenser. The several additions – including a deck and the creekside patio – hide the past well. The restaurant is part wine shop featuring Colorado wines, what else? Since I didn’t have any, I’ll keep my opinion about that to myself.

The food, though, is inventive and surprising. I ordered a portabella stuffed with spinach, diced tomato, feta, herbs, and served with hummus and pita bread on the side. Feta isn’t one of my favorite cheeses, but its slight tanginess and gooey consistency when melted provided a palette-pleasing contrast to the mushroom’s texture. It’s hard to go wrong with smooth, earthy hummus, although I did run out of pita.

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My friends ordered the salmon Cesar and the ravioli salads. The smoky, flakey salmon made the Romaine appear superfluous. The latter salad featured large raviolis on a bed of greens, which was a successful combination.

Since it was such a pleasant setting after a hot morning hike, we shared the Carrot Cake for Four. Chock-full of nuts, raisins and flecks of carrots, the rich, thick frosting was like a blanket no one needed.

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Oh thank heaven for, well, Wines of Colorado.

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The Wines of Colorado
Three-and-half Plates
8045 W. Highway 24
Cascade, Colo.

Midday Repast   Leave a comment

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It’s been a while since I’ve written about dinner The Margarita at Pine Creek, one of my all-time favorite restaurants. Recently, I was there for lunch, when the choices are fewer and lighter, just right for a summer day. (Dinners are served as three or five course options.) Some things such as service, ambiance and the food are remarkable no matter when you’re there.

A good friend suggested it as the place to celebrate my birthday. He is an accomplished chef and connoisseur of fine foods. I am always happy to dine with him, not just for his good company, but also to get his take on the cuisine.

 

The lunch menu is strong on salads, with a few other selections, but I was immediately drawn to the Sesame Chicken Salad. My host was torn between that and the Duck Confit Salad, so he asked to substitute the duck for the chicken. Even though I was very pleased with my choice, I almost wish I had done the same.

A small loaf of fresh whole wheat bread with a ramekin of pimento cheese arrived at the table. Pimento-spimento you might say. Go ahead because then I could have the creamy, slightly tangy red-flecked spread all to myself.

The salads were large and overloaded with ingredients to augment the greens and roasted chicken/duck confit: fresh vegetables and a lightly-flavored sesame dressing.

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A pecan crumb topping coffee cake was served as dessert. Although it was very good, it’s better suited to breakfast or brunch, something I’ll look forward to.

The Margarita at Pine Creek
Four-and-a-half Plates
7350 Pine Creek Rd.
Colorado Springs, CO

Lunch Time   1 comment

A good salad is more than lettuce on a plate, and a good sandwich is more
than two slices of bread pressed together. This is evident at Terrazza Grill
where ordinary midday basics, like salads and sandwiches, exceed expecta-
tions in creativity and taste. Terrazza Grill focuses on fresh, mostly grilled,
cuisine with a Mediterranean influence. The menu features a lengthy list of
sandwiches, ranging from burgers to grilled cheese, but these are far more
intriguing than they might appear at first glance. For example, Grilled Formaggio
sounds better with its half Italian name, especially when considering its des-
cription: grilled sourdough bread with cheddar, provolone and Swiss. Ham
and tomato can be added to further raise the bar.

I ordered the Grilled Chicken Panini. The menu says the chicken is marinated.
The marinade is lost to the tangy aioli, melted provolone and roasted peppers
on focaccia with lettuce, red onion, and tomato. This thick, gooey combination
makes the word sandwich seem like an understatement.

My friend’s Grilled Pesce Insalata featured blackened tuna on mixed greens with
cucumber, tomato, avocado, dried apricots and Craisins. Initially, the tuna was
undercooked. Medium rare here is nearly still breathing, but the server happily
took it back for a little more grill time. The salad was beautifully plated with
balsamic vinaigrette on the side. It was apparently very good since no offer for
me to taste it was made, and I wasn’t quick enough to pull a look-behind-you-trick
to sneak a bite on my own.

Terrazza Grill
Four Plates
1005 West Colorado Ave. Colorado Springs, CO