Friday, June 26, 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


A good friend was in town visiting for the week so we thought we'd take him out for a nice dinner for his birthday after grabbing some apps at Marcella's. Originally we had planned to go to Mitchells but on our walk through the Short North we encountered Deepwood which I had recently read good reviews about from our friends and columbus foodies so we thought we'd try it out. It didn't hurt that it's location was convenient and reduced our walking time had we elected to continue on to Mitchell's. We walked in and the mood of the place was nice and fresh. I noted the menu prices were steep but the food descriptions sounded tasty so our expectations were high for this place which in the end was probably our downfall -- or it's downfall depending. We asked to be seated at a booth and were excited to try a new place with our good friend. (Cue the Jaws music) The bread came out and looked interesting.

3 breads wanted for crimes against gustation...

There were 3 kinds of bread. One was a sweet bread that had nuts and raisins in it; another was a thin wafer pita almost; and the third was a plain bread. It's difficult to mess up bread -- i mean you really have to go out of your way to mess up bread -- but the bread was chilly to the touch -- almost like it had been refrigerated and beyond that was dry -- and on top of that -- I didn't like it. I've never really encountered this experience dining out before -- definitely a unfortunate first that is. (Turn up the Jaws music) Then our meals came out and the plating looked spectacular. I had the filet and Betty had the pork tenderloin.

filet w/ natural jus + herb-roasted taters and bacon-tied haricots verts...

It sure looks good doesn't it? It was also cooked quasi-medium as I had requested but something was strange about it. I think it was the jus that was with it. It gave the meat a smoky taste that overrode the natural taste that one would appreciate in a good steak. I found that the natural jus was a big distractor from the taste and was bummed because I really wanted to enjoy it -- and the fact that it cost $32 didn't make the burn any better. Fortunately our good friend who ordered the same meal enjoyed his steak -- which was the most important aspect of the evening. As we were discussing the meal and my impressions of it -- he agreed with everything i noted above -- but in the end to him -- steak was steak and this steak was pretty good -- so take that into consideration for what it's worth.

Betty's meal on the other hand was pretty tasty.

pork tenderloin w/ white cheddar grits, wilted greens, and a plum sauce

Her meal had a great mesh of flavors. My only complaint was that it was too sweet for my tastes so I would have trouble eating it as a meal.

Overall I was pretty bummed about Deepwood. I even had to text my friends who recommended it to us with the following: "Deepwood=weaksauce". I am fortunate for now that I can afford to take friends and fam out to nice places but when you charge an arm and a leg -- you better deliver on the tastes, service and ambiance -- or at least some combination of the above. Though it's possible that I might attribute the above experience to a slight aberration in the force -- i have no wishes to go back there. I don't think I've ever been to a restaurant that got hit with a trifect whammy -- that is until we dined at Deepwood. Didn't like their cocktails which were too sweet...didn't like their bread which was unfresh and downright un-tasty...didn't like my meal with its confusing palette of tastes...and I'm sure not gonna like my credit card bill when it comes later on this month.

I think there's a lesson in all of this...don't take shortcuts. Mitchell's is worth the walk. And Deepwood=weaksauce.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Massachusetts Bear Colony Presents: Boston Blur

Betty and I returned from Boston Monday night tired but happy from our weekend trip. We were in-town for a friend's wedding. In 3.5 days we pawed our way through a very beautiful, pedestrian friendly town with so much rich history consuming as much local seafood and local grub as we could. We did our scouting homework thanks to some tips from a Bostonian couple we met on our Princess Cruise Misadventures and were eager to check out the sites, sounds and eats of Bear town...err...Bean Town.

Up first Regina Pizzeria. This is supposed to be Boston's Best pizza.

volcanic looking cheese pizza

similarly volcanic looking sausage pizza

Betty and I had to wait in line about 30 minutes to try the pies but it was worth it. Regina Pizzeria is in the genre of thin crust brick oven pizza. Our favorite pizza John's Pizzeria in NYC is of the thin crust coal oven genre. Regina's reminded me of a distant cousin of John's -- which meant that I loved it. As is all too common one person's GPOAT is another's person's weaksauce. Though I appreciate pizza in its many forms -- the thin crust genre is prolly my favorite. That being said - Adriaticos thick crust is my GPOAT. Regina's pizza was perfectly cooked served scorching hot and slightly burnt on the edges and crust. Greasy cheese and sweet tomato sauce go perfect with carbon. That's a tip that most pizza joints just don't get. We ordered a topping pizza and a purist plain -- a habit Betty got me into many years ago. This way you get to appreciate the classic ingredients of a pizza while also getting an idea of how the pizza flavors enhance and build from the combination of extra toppings. I loved both pizzas. Regina's homemade sausage was very much on point but at the end of the day -- Betty and I had to fight for the last slice of cheese -- though you can do no wrong with any topping selection I would fathom. I can't say for certain that Pizzeria Regina is the best pizza in Boston. Those folks who don't like thin crust may not fancy this pie. I will say that the next time we're in Boston I'm going to Pizzeria Regina -- and that any other pizza joint would be hard-pressed to top it's taste. We were advised to go to the original location at 11 1/2 Thacher Street -- as there are chains across the city -- and the dining environment was charming. Our first Boston mission was accomplished -- the only problem was that I kept wanting to go back and get more instead of branching out...

Not too far from Regina's was Mike's Pastry which had been mentioned to us as having good cannolis. We heard rumors of an $8 cannoli there but Betty and I settled in on the $4 chocolate cannoli. I don't know too much about cannoli's but this was easily the best one I had.

chocolate cannoli with some Boston shower sprinkles -- that's right we ate this in the rain outside and it still knocked us on our paws.

The next morning found us touristing around market square and we had to try some of the fresh seafood at one of the shops. The name escapes me but it's the place in Quincy market that has the shrimp salad displayed right next to it.

peel and eat shrimp round 1. $9.95 for 6 shrimp? ouch.

The ginormous shrimp were expensive but extremely tasty. Regular readers know I am a price hound and if your food costs mad loot it better taste real good or you got one mad bear blog on your hands. The exception to this rule is normally vacation but Betty and I were having so much fun on our Boston-whirl-wind-tour that going broke never felt so good.

Continuing our walking tour on the Freedom trail south west to Beacon Boston Common all the way back around to the Boston harbor worked up a tremendous appetite. We came across this strange trailer-esque building on the harbor marketing their lobster bisque called James Hook and Co. I was sold with the meer mention of lobster bisque and ventured in with Betty reluctantly following unsure of why I would want to enter this hole-in-the-wall.

When we walked into said strange trailer-esque building there were fresh lobsters and other sea creatures in the place with a small presentation/serving display. Though not ubear inviting I ordered a cup of the lobster bisque soup. Bear oh bear -- this soup was lobster-bliss. Sweet, creamy and lobstered out beyond tastes could describe. James Hook should have a TV show called Lobster My Soup cause this bisque is all about flavor.

sucky picture of lobster bisque -- we were sitting under a red umbrella...ella ella eh eh eh...

Between the shrimp in the morning and the lobster bisque for a snack Betty and I needed more sustenance so decided to check out the convenient Tia's Bar that was located not to far from our hotel. Surprise surprise...more sea food in the mix.

clam chowder bowl...they shouldn't even offer cups...

peel and eat shrimp vol. 2

This was some good straight up clam chowder creamy but with no suggestion or real hint of spice enhancement et al. The shrimp was fresh and delicious. I had no qualms ripping off the legs of the skrimp as Columbus Yogurt's girl calls them -- even for a domesticated bear like me.

Our last morning in Boston found Betty and I up early trekking out to Harvard and MIT -- hoping to take in the experience and aura of these prestigious universities and perhaps feeling enlightened in the process? No enlightenment was achieved in this case though it was fun to walk around both campuses. Nothing really caught our eye from a food perspective though most places were closed because we were on campus early -- plus I had failed to do my homework on what places to check out. As our hunger evolved we eventually decided to eat at Mass Avenue Restaurant somewhere in Cambridge on Massachusetts Avenue. Seemed like a hole in the wall diner but since their sign read Mexican food I was hoping for some good eats. I was already dreaming of devouring my refried beans and egg dish concoction only to discover that refried beans were not available until lunch. Weak Sauce. I disappointingly ordered the Mexican omlette -- which aside from salsa and sour cream had nothing that really made it Mexican per spices...oh well.

"mexican" omlette

The food was decent and you sure got a lot of food for $7.00 but my stomach wasn't that into it.

After concluding our AM walking/subway trek to Harvard and MIT it was time to check out of the hotel -- but I was not quite done with Boston just yet. Betty and I decided we'd do a quick pub crawl before heading to the airport. Our next stop was The Black Rose. If you open your Tourist Reader to page 1 you'll most likely read how this pub is one of the best pubs in Boston if not the whole country. That's a pretty bold statement considering Boston might as well be called Pubston with all the small bars we saw on our walking tour. This place was charming in the typical-pub-brick-interior-irish-flag-sorta-way that many Ohio pubs emulate -- but this place was the real deal. In addition we were excited to learn that the Black Rose had the limited edition Brick Red Sam Adams beer on draft. I had to roll with the clam chowder again which was very tasty. Where as Tia's chowder was straight up cream based -- the Black Rose's chowder had a more flavorful spice undercurrent that was predominantly dill as in dillicious.

dillicious clam chowder

I also had to roll with the house burger.

Black Rose Burger - topped with Irish bacon, caramelized onions, sauteed crimini shrooms

The burger was a'ight. It wasn't cooked to my preferred temperature of medium so it was difficult for me to appreciate it. In the end I just ate the burger and left the bun for better or for worse. I was surprised that there was nothing particularly magical about the Irish bacon, crimini shrooms and onions combo. Oh well -- the ambiance and beer were good and Betty and I were off to hit up a couple of more pubs.

Boston is a great city with a rich history. I think i said that already. More importantly for us on this trip -- we had a blast at the wedding and meeting up with our dear friends. The city was very easy to walk about to see all the sites and sounds. As for the eats however -- Betty and I barely scraped the surface of the cuisine and food that we smelled in the streets and drooled as we walked all over town. We look forward to visiting again and getting more time to eat and perhaps less time touristing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

now I've...had...the tacos of my life...and I owe it all to...

Cazuelas...Met up with some colleagues at Cazuelas for lunch which is a rare thing since I'm a notorious lunch packer. Hearing so much about all the wonderful taco trucks around Columbus -- i thought I would try some of the meats that have been mentioned in other foodie blogs. I ordered a trio of tacos with birria, al pastor and I'm pretty sure it was fish -- though my memory is failing me now. All of the meats except for the fish were mystery meats to me but a quick wikipedia search revealed birria to be a combo of lamb and goat -- and al pastor a pork delicacy.

These tacos were the best tacos I've ever had in my adult bear life. The flavor of each taco was not watered down by excessive lettuce or cheese -- and each meat was allowed to have it's unique tastes and textures showcase itself. I'm definitely a hard shell taco bear that prefers to make them at home rather then purchasing them out...but this meal might have me changing my mind. Bring on the taco trucks!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

the more you know...the more you potato...

Columbus Yogurt made the best potato salad I've ever had in my life. Unfortunately he freestyled his recipe and doesn't quite remember what was in it. No worries -- I recalled he used 3 different kinds of pickles and that was good enough for me to finally venture out on my own. Pictured below is my homemade potato salad, grilled chicken croissant sandwich, and left over black bean dip.

Crucial to my potato salad were:

1) diced pickles + pickle juice
2) heavy cream
3) real mayo
4) yellow mustard
5) smathering of seasonings.

Taste: off the charts.

tater salad, chicken croissant, black bean dip

Monday, June 8, 2009

big surprise...chicken nachos again...

In true boring fashion -- I decided to make some chicken nachos. Still remixed as far I'm concerned. In this case -- I used chicken breast seasoned with a buckeye grill seasoning that I purchased from Hills market. The nachos were covered with a layer of pinto beans and corn, habanero cheddar cheese, and topped with sliced jalapeno peppers and diced green onions. El Yucateco duplex in the back with Cholula. Don Pablo's hot salsa in the middle. Muy sabrosa you know it ain't no joke-a.

chicken nachos.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

John Hughes and Cholesterol King present Breakfast Club Brunch

Betty and I finally decided to implement our Breakfast Club Brunch get together. The idea -- we make brunch and watch the movie Breakfast Club. Nothing too original but it's one of my favorite movies coupled with my favorite meal. On the menu for the day:

scrambled eggs, home fries, bacon topped with green onions, tomatoes, served with a croissant and a fruit salad; El Yucateco duplex in the back; Stauf's house blend in the mug

butter braid bread purchased from Betty's co-worker: a chocolate eclair-esque bread with a Boston cream

A meal that Claire, John, Brian, Andrew, Allison, Betty and I all found nutritious and delicious.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

resistance is cost efficient...

While at the Columbus Arts Festival I really wanted to purchase a Schmidt's bahama mama with sauerkraut -- but having settled for the chili cheese fries and corn dog we ended up showing some restraint -- that is until we hit the grocery store and purchase some hot Italian sausages from Giant Eagle. Much cheaper and yummity in my tummity.

spicy Italian sausages topped with shredded extra sharp cheddar, diced onions, yellow mustard, dijon mustard with kettle chips and dill pickles

columbus eats festival...

While Betty was volunteering at the Arts Festival we got our fair grub grind on with a corn dog and chili cheese fries. Simple. Junky. Delicious.