Fresh Friday – Foodie/Wander Edition (Traverse City Food Stops)

To continue with the Traverse City recap, I’m sharing some of the places we stopped for food in the and around the city.  Of course, being northwest mitt-Michigan, you can expect lots of cherries featured on the menus. Some of my favorite things I tried was special-made cherry chipotle humus and cherry barbecue sauce.

House of Doggs140607 - TC House of Doggs

Website

120 S Union St, Traverse City, MI 49684
(231) 922-1348

***UPDATE (1/3/16) The only location for House of Doggs is now in the Mall.  Here’s the address: 3200 S. Airport Rd., Traverse City, Michigan***

Now, if you want to talk about chili dogs, you talk about Cincinnati. That’s a firm statement and fact. I don’t even know why I bothered getting a Cincy-style chili dog outside of Cincinnati, but they did only alright. I’ll share that my companions LOVED their dogs, though. Matt’s mom heard that this place was on one of those foodie TV shows and so, it was our first stop the very day we got there. It was very good, and I enjoyed the theme of the joint – all dogs have their own quirky regional name, like: Be-Bop, Grand Funk, Disco, James Brown, etc. The brother in law got a real strange one, I think it was the HOD Fusion, which included crushed potato chips.

The Underground Cheesecake Factory140608 - TC cheesecakes

Website

1375 Yellow Drive, Traverse City MI 49684
231-929-4418

The Huz and I stopped in here because, hello, it’s cheesecake! We were in the area called The Village, which includes the renovated Old State Hospital grounds (apartments, shops, restaurants) for the annual Traverse Colantha Walker Dairy Festival. Naturally, they are incredible for their cheesecakes, but they also serve soups and sandwiches. We got our cheesecake to go but ate our lunch outside. So good!

Higher Grounds Trading Co

Website

806 Red Dr, Suite 150, Traverse City, MI 49684
877.825.2262

It was a little chilly on the day of the Traverse Colantha Walker Dairy Festival. Of course, Michigan is a little further north than southwest Ohio, so we should have been prepared. We welcomed a stop into this coffee shop, which is just around the corner from Underground Cheesecake Factory.  This place has all the earmarks of a great local coffee shop, which I love! One super-cool thing is that they gave us our coffee in real ceramic mugs. The catch? We could bring them back when we were done and they’d be cleaned and reused, or we could take them if we really wanted. We returned ours, but mine had a Santa on it, which was fun. The mugs are donated to them and it would definitely reduce the waste from the shop. I’m pretty sure I saw that they offer the used grinds to small-garden farmers. Here’s the description they post on their website about who they are:

Higher Grounds Trading Co. roasts fair trade and organic coffee from around the world. We stick to high standards not only for ethical and environmental reasons, but also because we’re obsessed with quality: we believe these standards produce the best-quality coffees around. Our close relationships with farmers help us bring delicious coffee from the field to your cup.

Millie’s on Main – Mackinac Island140609 - Millies on Main

Website (couldn’t find a true website, so this is their Yelp page)

7294 Main St, Mackinac Island, MI 49757
906.847.9901

If I’ve been walking a lot before eating (which is all you really do on Mackinac Island), I am not usually up for a big meal. So, yes, I did go to a nice restaurant on Mackinac and only got chicken tenders and fries. But they were so good! Also, the special chipotle lime bbq sauce was amazing!! I loved it. I don’t think I would’ve thought to put lime in a bbq sauce, but I’m so glad THEY did because I could have probably drank it and been just fine. I can’t remember much else about the place, though, except that I had to take a pic of the bathroom. There were paintings in them by a guy with the same name as one of my friends, which was funny to me. Anywho, check them out. There isn’t a huge variety of food options on the Island, but this was probably one of the better options minus the Hotel.

North Country Grill and Pub140611 - suttons bay cherry chipotle humus

Website

420 N Saint Joseph St, Suttons Bay, MI 49682
231.271.5000

I’m jumping around, but I had to put this place in here. We stopped here for lunch one day on our way up to Fishtown (back from? I can’t remember which came first) and, again, we had been doing a lot of walking, so I went light on my meal. I snagged the Cherry Chipotle Humus. If you know anything about Michigan, it’s that it’s Cherry country. They did not disappoint. It was fruity, spicy – everything they promised. The inside of the place is amazing too; lots of beautiful wood, fireplace, giant bar. It was gorgeous.

The Cherry Hut

140613 - TC cherry hut 03Website

211 N. Michigan Ave. (US 31), Beulah, MI 49617
(231) 882-4431

I was told to stop here by a customer. The Cherry Hut was also featured on a reality foodie show, so we figured we had to check it out. They are, as the name would imply, all things cherry. The Huz had a burger with cherries mixed into the meat. I had a regular burger with cherry barbecue sauce – soooo good. The father-in-law ordered a “Complete Dinner” which came with just about everything on the menu. It was unreal how much food he had, and he loved every bit of it. They have a store of take-home treats that is very comprehensive. I bought some chocolate-covered cherries and gummy cherries to bring back to the office. They were gone within a few days. I would highly recommend a visit here for lunch or for dinner. The decor is real sweet too, like a 50’s dinner with cherries!

Moomer’s Ice Cream

Website

140608 - TC moomers

7263 N. Long Lake Rd., Traverse City, MI 49685
231.941.4122

There are a few different spots where you can find Moomer’s Ice Cream. We stumbled upon it at The Village in the downstairs of the State Hospital (don’t let that scare you) and also at their main store, which sits next to a dairy farm. I love local flavor and you don’t get much more local than ice cream from local dairy farms and other local ingredients. If you like Moose Tracks ice cream, you will love their Cow Tracks blend (pictured to the right).

Union Cantina

Website

UClogo

127 South Union Street · Traverse City, Michigan · 49684
(231) 941-5038

This is a great little Mexican bar in downtown Traverse City. My biggest takeaway was that I could actually order a DR. PEPPER and it came FROM THE TAP! Yeah! it is so hard to go through northern states sometimes. I must live right on the line where Dr Pepper stops being a thing in the north. The food was pretty good, but seriously, I can only remember the Dr Pepper. 😀 Oh, and there’s a crazy massive antique mall on the same block.

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Getting Married: 38 Weeks – Road Trip

I met up with some friends last year in Indianapolis and it was my first time to explore the city. I loved it! (You can find my posts about THAT trip here. Sorry Erik, I still don’t have a review up of your seminars.) Matt and I both had Labor Day off work, so we took off early Monday morning and drove over to Indy for a fun day trip.

It was a rainy start, but we made our way straight over to The Children’s Museum. I went there on my last trip and their big exhibit was something on Barbie. My friend Audrey and I were not compelled at all to go check it out. This time, the special exhibit was “Hot Wheels for Real!”

Matt was so super excited about this exhibit. I had seen that it would be there ahead of time, but Matt didn’t know. He must have said 10 times that his brothers would LOVE to see all of it too.

Pretty Green Camaro…that’s all I’ve got. Oh, and something about the chrome being tinted, instead of it actually being paint.

I’m pretty sure this kid is livin’ the dream – a super cape and a hot wheels track.

There were quite a few boys running around with super-capes tacked onto their shirts. I hold to The Incredibles’ theory on capes though…they sure look impressive, but then they get sucked into an airplane engine and where does that leave you? Not very pretty.

The dino dome really impresses me. I used to love dinosaurs until I saw Jurassic Park and it gave me nightmares until…last week. Just kidding! (I might not be…)

Oh look! There’s Barbie, afterall…

*sings* I am a paaaaa-leon-tooooo-logist.

We may have been distracted here for a full 5 minutes when we got to the hands-on discovery center…and then again on our way out.

Mirror Maze!

After the museum, we drove over to one of my favorite shopping districts. If you’ve never been to Indy, then you should go to Massachussetts Avenue. If you have been to Indy, but haven’t been to Mass Ave, consider this your invitation. It’s much like Hillsboro Village in Nashville and just a lot of fun. There weren’t nearly as many shops open as the last time I was there. Something about it being a holiday… The toy store was open and we found some really fun things in there. The owners were running the registers and commented that they realize just how much they need their regular cashiers. I guess they decided to open that day on a whim and were really pleased with the amount of business they were getting. I asked the wife where we should get our lunch and she recommended Bru Burger Bar across the street. We were starving so off we went.

In the last few years, I have really come to appreciate signature burgers from different restaurants. I never was a burger gal, but I’ve crossed over and was so excited to try one of Bru’s Chef Burgers. I went for the basic called “The Beginning.”

They call it The Beginning. I call it Delectable.

It quite literally melted in my mouth. What would take me back to Bru’s, though, is the ketchup – or what they call ketchup. It’s an amazing mix of ketchup, brown sugar, minced onion, and crushed red pepper. I think Matt and I both ran out of the stuff before we were done with our fries. The waitress said she thinks the restaurant was built around the ketchup because you’re always looking for something else to put in it.

Pensive face over how amazing his blackened mahi-mahi sandwich is.

After we stuffed ourselves and decided to move on, we walked over to one of my favorite shops, “Silver in the City/At Home in the City.” It’s actually two shops in one and is full of some incredibly witty, sarcastic, and sometimes irreverent material. Here are a couple of things we found:

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me

Have you ever seen Marcel the Shell with Shoes On? No? You must!  Go here and then here. We were *thiiiiiiis* close to buying one. He talked about the many large monuments in his hometown (hint, they’re athletics trophies) and what his breadroom is like. Yes, his breadroom. If you’re still confused, then go back to where I said “here” and “then here” and go there. Seriously, why are you still waiting?

Reading is Sexy and Knitting is Knotty.

The only thing that kept me from buying one of these is that they’re plastic. Other than that, we thought these were hilarious and very fitting…for me. 🙂

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I’m getting married to my, you guessed it, best friend on June 1st, 2013! Matt and I are super-excited and since we have quite a bit of time to plan this thing, I decided it’d be fun to blog about it. Well, maybe not always fun, but at least informative and it might give me a welcome distraction. You can find all the posts by clicking the “Getting Married” tab on the right of this page, or by clicking here. Thanks for stopping by!

My Pinterest Wedding Board

Our Wedding Website on WeddingWire.com

Review: Massachusetts Avenue, Indianapolis

This is part of a series of reviews from my time in Indianapolis this past weekend.  There’s nothing so fun as a quirky, hipster, neo-boho shopping district in a big city.  Nashville has its Hillsboro Village, but in Indy, why keep the joy to just a couple of blocks?  Massachusetts Avenue stretches, at 45 degrees, across 7 intersections – fully walkable and chock-full of great shops!

Here are the specs:

Massachusetts Avenue
Entrance to the South begins at the corner of Delaware St and New York St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317.637.8996 ext.202 – Riley Area Development Corp.
Facebook

There are too many shops to see in one visit or to write about in a blog (I count 71 listed on the map), so I’m going to only put up the places I visited with a short description. First up!:

Stouts Footwear
318 Mass Ave – 317.632.7818
Oldest, coolest shoe store in the nation, holding fast to personal service, quality shoes, and tradition.

This place is pretty fab.  It’s basically the first shop you encounter if you choose the Japanese route of going up the left side of the street first.  We only went inside because of the cool sign out front telling us that it is, in fact, the oldest shoe store in the nation.  You can see why when you go in.  The shoes they sell are great quality, and they built their reputation on custom fitting shoes from the manufacturer for their customers.  But this isn’t the only cool thing about the place.  First, there’s a parrot who is semi-friendly.  It let me pet it until it apparently had had enough and didn’t want any more.  Second, there is a pulley and basket contraption that spreads from a crows nest in the center of the shop to various spots in the rest of the store.  The floor staff puts the shoes in the basket, pull a cord, the basket lifts up to the top, they pull the cord again, and the basket flies off to the crows nest.  There, another attendant carefully removes the shoes from their box, checks everything out and, I only assume, wraps it up to send it back down, the same way, to the cashier.

At Home in the City/Silver in the City
434 Mass Ave – 317.955.9925 – Website | Facebook
Jewelry, gifts and home decor. Voted Indy’s Best 2006-2008.

I went to Silver in the City/At Home in the City some years ago when they still had a store in Lafayette, IN. This place is a great combo of jewelry, Eco-friendly home furnishings, and the ridiculous novelty items. They carry one of my favorite silly/awesome brands, KnockKnock. They also have Jesus Bandaids, which feel like they work faster than other brands. There’s just a plethora of items; I highly recommend a stop through bc its next to impossible to really describe all of it. BTW, this is their only store now. I’m not really sure how Lafayette is surviving without them.

Global Gifts (Fair Trade Shop)
446 Mass Ave – 317.423.3148 – Website | Facebook | Twitter
Fair Trade store providing hope and opportunity for artisans from 35 countries.

This shop is excellent. Tons of artsy and unique home furnishings and they are, wait for it…fair trade! I was told that a lot of the work comes from rescued victims of human trafficking. They have all sorts of goodies – home decor, fashion, chocolate, etc. Everything is priced very reasonably, so be sure to stop in.

Best Chocolate in Town
880 Mass Ave – 317.636.2800 – Website | Facebook | Twitter
Hand-made chocolates, specializing in truffles and locally made gelato.

Ok, so I definitely pulled an Elf with this one. We walked in and all I wanted to do was say, Congratulations! Indy’s best chocolate! But then I saw them. Sitting there, in perfect little rows, hundreds of them. Truffles. Gobs of them. And the Cinnamon ones were calling my name. After having a great discussion on the health benefits of cinnamon with the two staff members, I went ahead and bought one. It was $2+ for one, but it was so worth it. It took 4 bites to finish, partly because I was trying to savor the amazingness of it. It’s a definite top on my list.

Aesop’s Tables
600 Mass Ave – 317.631.0055 – Website
Mediterranean restaurant. Fifteen years on the avenue.

We had just been saying how we wanted to find a good Mediterranean restaurant for dinner and our answer was Aesop’s Tables. Unfortunately, by the time we got back to the restaurant, we weren’t all that hungry. We stuck with some appetizers, and sorry, I didn’t catch any pics of the food. The service was lacking though. The place wasn’t packed, so I’m unsure what his issue was. The food was pretty good, but not the best I’ve had. I would recommend it though if you’re in the area. There are other restaurants too, though, so be sure to check the map (view online or get one from any of the Mass Ave stores).

Market

We also managed to get there while an Artist/Food Market was going on. Lots of different items: bath products, hair and fashion accessories, organic teas, jewelry, and, my personal fave, worm poop. Check out on the website for any other cool events that might be happening.

Here’s the breakdown:

The Street:  Very fun. Lots to check out. The website lists a lot of the events going on.  There are also some comedy clubs and such there, and restaurants have offer live music too.
For kids: There’s a toy store.  Enough said.
For pets: There are some doggie/pet specific shops on the street as well.  If you are curious, go to the website and check out all the shops on the list. You’ll be amazed at what they’ve come up with.
The cost:  Moderate to high-priced.  If you’re going to shop, you’ll spend a good amount.  Window shopping is fun too though.
The food: Tons of restaurants there, running the gamut of styles and tastes.
The help:  Most of the places we stopped into, the staff was helpful and accommodating.  They would usually tell us of another shop up the street where we could find such and such and was run by a friend of theirs.  They really put a lot into the community-feel of the place.
The parking: There is parking along the street and on adjoining streets.  If you’re like me and enjoy walking, you can park somewhere downtown and walk all the way there.  Just a few blocks away and it’s all flat.
The accommodations: There’s a B&B right on the street!  I so want to stay there some time.  Like most B&B’s expect to pay more than you would for a hotel, but it looks totally worth it.
Returnability:  This is definitely on my Favorite Places list (which I guess I should post at some point on here) and whenever I’m in Indy, or even passing through, I know I will try to get in there for a quick walk and peruse.

I’ll try to get some more pics up, but I just don’t have them right now.  Enjoy the review anyway!

Review: Taz Mediterranean Restaurant – Cincinnati, OH

Taz Mediterranean Restaurant

8950 Governors Way
Cincinnati, OH 45249
513 774 7600

Website
Facebook

When I tell people that I like to use Groupons, the reactions run in a few directions.  Many people haven’t even heard of Groupons and think it’s a cool idea.  If the person is a regular Groupon user, the reaction is usually enthusiastic.  For businees owners, though, I think the reaction is becoming very mixed.  The heat comes when the users become just that, Users.  They abuse the system for their own personal gain.  I think the original intent was to provide a way for local and smaller businesses to get the word out about what they have to offer to a large group of people in order to have a new stream of loyal customers.  However, it’s a catch-22.  Many who now use Groupon are the modern-day coupon chasers, missing only the curlers, horn-rimmed glasses and bright red lipstick smashed beyond the lips.  Ok, ok, that’s a harsh image.  But in reality, businesses are re-thinking the use of Groupons to drive in new business.  It becomes a “hit and run” for the customers and then they’re gone, on to the next deal.

This ugly picture is just to clarify that it is not what I do, nor what I think my friends do.  We don’t sit around and wait for a Groupon to come available from our already-favorite restaurant and then stock up on the deal.  I love to find a new place on Groupon in my area (and sometimes beyond it) so that I can explore and try out a new thing – with the hope that I can add the new place to my favorite places list.

My friend  recently bought a Groupon for a local Mediterranean restaurant called, Taz.  Ever since I went to Cairo, I’ve been wanting some good Med- cuisine.  So, she invited me to head over to Taz.  It has a pretty good reputation for having wonderful Med- food.  Several friends said that we would not be disappointed and, in regards to the food, we weren’t.  I don’t like writing reviews that may be bad, but there are some things you should know.

When we walked in, there was a “Now Hiring” sign on the door.  I’m hoping this explains the slow service.  If I’m remembering correctly, there was something blocking our way into the building – like a bucket and mop.  We had to step over it, or go out of our way to step around it.  It was awkward.  The exterior (which I don’t usually judge) gave no indication of “good food” being inside, but I don’t want to hold that against them.

We were seated pretty quickly, given menus and brought our waters fairly quick.  But that was where the speed stopped.  There were only two other groups of 4 in the restaurant when we sat down.  A couple more came in by the time we received our food.  We didn’t know if we were supposed to wait for her to come back, or if we went up to the counter to order our food.  The waitress (the only waitress) was nowhere to be found, so I asked a guy who was standing in line what we were supposed to do.  He said that she would come to us.  At this point (maybe 15-20 minutes after sitting down with menus), we were talking about how the food would probably be amazing and stay our growing hunger.

By the time she did get over to us to place our order, she was not very courteous – but, again, I’m hoping it was because they had just lost another employee and she was doing her best.  We waited for a long time again.  We ordered appetizers of yalanjie (stuffed grape leaves) and falafel.  They were delicious and we thoroughly enjoyed them.  It took a long time for them to come to us and they were quickly followed by our main dishes.

I’m sorry that I can’t remember what my friend ordered, but she loved it.  I ordered a Kofta Kabab Sandwich.  I didn’t realize how much would be pickled though, so on my part, I was able to enjoy as much of my food as I could have (I’m allergic to vinegar).  But, it did taste really good and we were really glad of that.  However, with the wait, and the cost, it wasn’t worth much more than the Groupon, in our opinions.  We will continue our search for a favorite Med- restaurant.  There are a few in the area that we’re excited to try out too (Sultans, Aladdins).

So, here’s the breakdown:

The food: Very good.  Not as good as some other Med-cuisine I’ve had, but still, I can see why it has the reputation it has.
The help: Our waitress was the only one in the restaurant.  I believe I saw someone in the kitchen, but really, there was no other visible life besides the other customers.  The “Now Hiring” sign suggests that they are aware they are understaffed and are working towards fixing that, but still, be prepared to wait.
The parking: They have their own parking lot.
The accommodations:  The interior was really lovely.  They had one sections, which we weren’t seated in, with couches and curtained off sections.  I think i read that they also have sheesha pipes available, but I didn’t see any out.
The price: Kind of pricy.  The Groupon really helped.
Returnability: Probably not.  If I have a group of friends who really want to go there, then I’ll probably go again, but there are other restaurants that have a little better reputation and image than this one.  I’d give it a 35%.

Find more reviews and promos by clicking on the links to the right.  Go ‘head, you know you want to.

Review: Teak Thai Cuisine – Mt Adams, Cincinnati, OH

Teak Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar

1049-51 St. Gregory Street
Mt. Adams, Cincinnati, OH 45202
513.665.9800

Website
Facebook

For my bff’s 26th birthday, a group of us went down for some dinner at Teak Thai in Mt. Adams.  Mt. Adams is like the college/young adult/cool place to go in Cincinnati.  I really like the area whenever I am down there (both day and night).  It’s up on a big hill in Cincinnati, so fairly close to whatever’s going on downtown.  It’s also a mishmash of residential condos/apartments/homes and small businesses with a bunch of restaurants and bars – yes, the bars are what really makes Mt. Adams.  The only one I’ve gone into down there is The Blind Lemon, which I love!  And I only ever get a virgin something or other, usually a piña colada, or when I’m really adventurous – a coffee.  Yep. I know, I know. I’m one wild child.  They also have some fun live music each night.

But this is not a review on The Blind Lemon, or Mt Adams, no matter how fabulous I think they are!  This review is on Teak -yummy, spicy, lovely Teak.  Despite much discussion and debate, this WAS my first time at Teak.  I enjoy Thai food, although it isn’t my favorite East Asian cuisine.  I believe I only got one picture of my food, but I’ll go right into it.

Matt and Lanna (birthday girl!) of BeardedLadyPics, got an appetizer of Gyoza, er, Dumplings, which were delicious.  As were the crab puffs (rangoon) that Amy got.  My lovely dish to your right is Yellow Pork Curry, with a spicy level of 4.  The levels here are 3-10 (I know, I was a chicken that night) and I have no idea what happened to 1 and 2. I feel kind of sad for them.

My food was very good. The rice came with the meal and they even gave me chop sticks to eat with, so I was happy.

The food: excellent (all around, people said they loved their food)
The help: Our waitress had an accent, but she was very understandable, if that’s a turn-off for you.  She was very helpful and remembered what we ordered even if we didn’t.
The parking: They have a parking lot across the street and down the hill a little.  There isn’t a ton of parking that I could see, so we parked on the street as usual.  You may have to drive up and down the hill a couple of times to find a spot if you’re not into parking garages (which there is one nearby).
The accommodations:  Lots of tables inside.  There are two stories and I think the downstairs is more of a bar area.  There’s also outdoor seating which is open during the warm seasons.
The price: Average.  I think my meal (and water) came to about $15 with tip.  I can’t eat sushi, so I can’t account for the cost there. Sorry.
Returnability: Again, Thai’s not my favorite East Asian food, but if I’m basing it just on service, comfort, cost and quality, I would give it an 80% rate.  (It’s also a bit of a drive for me (~ 30 minutes) so that’s a factor as well.)

Find more reviews and promos by clicking on the links to the right.  Go ‘head, you know you want to.

Review: Virgils Café – Bellevue, KY

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710 Fairfield Ave
Bellevue, KY 41073
859.491.3287

Website
Facebook
Twitter

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Per Cincinnati Magazine:

Virgils feels too fancy to qualify as a burger joint.  Clean and crisp black linen tablecloths covered with butcher paper and overly polite waiters just don’t scream out “Burger time!”  But don’t let that fool you: the modestly named “beef hamburger” – grilled, succulent beef topped with sautéed mushrooms and caramalized onions on a multigrain kaiser roll – equals hamburger heaven.  And do not miss out on their sweet potato fries with a side of ancho-mayo.

Why not hit two birds with one stone?  Christmas Eve Eve, I got to hang out with my bff, the lady half of Bearded Lady Pics, AND check out another restaurant in the greater Cincinnati area.  We snagged my Burger Edition of Cincinnati Magazine and flipped through until we settled on Virgils.  Being on the Kentucky-side of the Ohio River, it was one that I was looking forward to visiting and meeting up with Lans was a perfect excuse.  We called the restaurant around 6:15 to make our reservation, arrived at 6:30 and were seated immediately.  I understand that it was a Thursday night and Christmas Eve Eve, so I’m not sure if that makes a difference in the speediness of their reservations/seatings. I was majorly pleased.  FYI: Parking is on the street, but it’s in historic Bellevue which is just about the cutest place on earth.

I cannot vouch for the hamburger that is mentioned above, but I will say that the descriptions match the dishes we ordered to a T.  Our starter was, in fact, the sweet potato fries with ancho chile mayonnaise.  I was never a fan of sweet potato until living in Japan (they have a way with potato and squashes) and I have only seen sweet potato fries in the last two years.  I LOVE them and these were no disappointment.  I do not usually eat mayo, but the ancho was irresistible.

As CM’s review says, the restaurant does feel fancy but it’s still comfortable and intimate.  The lights are dimmed and there are so many nooks and crannies that you feel you can be off by yourself.  We were seated to the right of the entrance, on a platform featuring the bar and the entrance to the kitchen – where the magic takes place.  There was a lot of activity around us, being so close to the kitchen, but we didn’t mind it at all.  I’m sure that the other end of the restaurant is more subdued, but we enjoyed being close to the action.  Our waiter was Ben, who I found out later (through Twitter) was tending the bar for the first time that night.  He did a great job of keeping tabs on us and the one other table as well as holding his post behind the counter.  His back-up/co-waiter was Darius and between the two of them, our glasses were kept full of drink, our plates full of food and our mouths with laughter. (This isn’t a hard thing for me and Lans, but it helps to have really fun waiters) The other thing I’d like to note is that there is a whole hip-vibe in the place, but it’s not so trendy as to exclude a princess coloring book on the counter next to our table.  We enjoyed that touch.

Our meals were the Fresh Pasta – with seasonal veggies, beurre blanc, and chicken and the Étouffée – chicken, homemade andouille sausage, dirty rice and garlic bread.

I know my étouffée looks awful, just blame it on my you-, I mean, camera.

This was my first time eating étouffée and I loved it. The sauce was a mix of sweet and spicy and the sausage had a lot of kick to it.  Rice is always a winner for me and the chicken broke apart when I began to cut into it.  The only negative I have about this dish was the overly-crunchy garlic bread.  I managed two bites into the center of it and then had to discard the rest, but I’m chalking this to personal preference.

There is no dessert menu and the options are sort of limited…but if you hear your server say the three most beautiful words – Chocolate Bourbon Torte – place your order right away.  Lans and I shared a slice of it and, though I missed the proper “before” shot, I’m sure this one gives you an idea of the deliciousness.

It was like a rich waterfall of burning ice and decadence cascading down your throat. (how’s that for descriptive?)

This is definitely on my list of top fave restaurants now.  I think what I like the most about it is what I learned after eating there.  On their website the owner, Matt Buschle, talks about how they seek out locally-grown ingredients and work to build relationships with local farmers.  Most of their furniture, equipment and a plethora of other items are reclaimed from other places and forgotten warehouses.

The food: excellent
The help: awesome (in the words of our waiter)
The parking: on the street, but there’s a ton that you can find.  It’s a really nice area.
The accommodations:  I’m not sure I would go there with a group of more than 6.  It’s intimate and cozy.
The price: Between the two of us, the meal was close to $50 (sans tip).  That was with one starter, one dessert, and two entrées, oh, and one Coke.
Returnability: For special occasions – 100%. For casual “I’m hungry tonight” dining – maybe 35%.

Find more reviews and promos by clicking on the links to the right.  Go ‘head, you know you want to.

Review: Gabby’s Café – Wyoming, OH

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515 Wyoming Ave.,
Wyoming, OH

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Per Cincinnati Magazine:

Wyoming is known for good schools, good housing stock, and now, good burgers.  Gabby’s Angus beef burger is a smoky half-pounder made sweeter with a buttery bun that’s neither too soft nor too hard.  Savor the fresh pickles, lettuce, and tomato on this tender monument to meat.

Well, I am not starting off so well on this if I’m only writing this two weeks after the fact!  But, here, without more delay is the gist of the trip to Gabby’s.

Cincinnati Magazine rated Gabby’s Angus Beef Burger to be the #13 best burger in the city.  Why did I start with the 13th?  Well, it was on my way to an event at the Underground Railroad Freedom Museum that day, and I thought it’d be fun.  Plus, I’m not really going to the restaurants in the list for their burgers.  I’m not really a burger person myself, so I was super-glad that Gabby’s is a good ole Italian (mi familia!) restaurant with many other Café-ish type foods.  Yum!

So, me and two of my girlfriends from church went over for an early lunch and were thoroughly pleased with our meal.  But first things first. 

I love Wyoming, OH.  It is a pretty cute and beautiful part of the city.  My dad lived there for a while and I have fond memories of getting on my bicycle and riding down to the library for a book…and making a pit stop at Le Cezanne, which, sadly, has not been there for several years.  I also was in a summer orchestra camp there one year and, although being entirely intimidating, the Wyoming Fine Arts building is beautiful and I was much too young to fully appreciate being there.  That said, beyond the Larosas around the corner and the live Nativity down the street at Christmas, I didn’t explore much more of the town and I wish I had.

The picture above is what we saw once we parked the car (there’s a great lot across the street and so long as it isn’t Tuesday, or some odd deal, you can park there for free).  And our noses were assaulted by the glorious smells from the Wyoming Meat Market.

The smells totally playing on our already famished stomachs, we clamored our way to the door of the restaurant.  Once seated we had a dickens of a time getting through the menu because there were so many good options to choose from. 

I really enjoyed the interior…I felt like I was in Chicago for some reason.  The waitress came over to get our orders and tell us the soup of the day – lamb and chickpeas.  Here’s what our order was:

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Me:  Meatball Hoagie – Homemade meatballs topped with marinara and cheese blend on a toasted hoagie bun.

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.     B:  Wyoming Club Sandwich
      – A double-decker
      sandwich stacked with
      turkey, bacon, lettuce,
      tomato and mayonnaise on
      toasted white bread

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and C: Lamb Gyro – This was a special, so I don’t have any specs on it.  Sorry…but my friend loved it!

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We were so stuffed from our lunch that we had no room for dessert.  Plus, we were on our way here for the Unbound Movement Fair Trade Expo.

I will have more reviews coming up, so stay tuned.  Also, I’ll try to keep tabs on my “as Vagabondess” page of what review is coming up next.  I hope you all enjoy! 🙂

 – Sarah ><>

Find more reviews and promos by clicking on the links to the right.  Go ‘head, you know you want to.