Archive for ‘Restaurants’

October 4, 2011

Denver: Lucile’s Creole Cafe

Right before we left Denver to head up to Ft. Collins for a couple of days, we decided to stop in a Lucile’s Creole Cafe for a little brunch. Even though Lucile’s does have a Ft. Collins location, we decided that getting up early enough after a night of brewery hopping to drive back to Denver to catch out flight home wasn’t going to happen.

photo: /www.luciles.com

Lucile’s is on South Logan Street in Denver’s Platt Park which is lined with charming, renovated homes from the 1920’s. Their porch is charming and surrounded by the leaves hanging off the trees that line the street.

Lucile's Beignets

Time to get down on some true Creole grub. I knew, first off, that I had to have 2 things: a bloody and beignets. My mom, from Lafayette, Louisiana, (locals pronounce it “LAFE-i-yet no “la-fay-yet”), 2 hours west of New Orleans, used to make beignets at home from scratch. I had not had beignets in so long and was waiting all week for this pit stop. A tip: don’t inhale.

Lucile's Bloddy Mary

The bloody was the perfect morning cocktail that’s completely acceptable to drink before 9am. Lined with Lucile’s Original Seasonings on the rim, a huge stalk of celery acts as the carrier of an olive and creole seasoned shrimp. You can get Lucile’s Cajun Bloody Mary Mix online here.

Lucile's Biscut

Before our brunch came, we both got these huge biscuits. These things were like 5×5″. No joke. They were fluffy and light with a lot of little nooks and crannies to sop up the sauce on our to-come platters.

The portions were huge when we had already stuffed ourselves with biscuts and beignets. My other half got the Creole Omelet. Am omelet filled with spicy creole sausage and diced ham in creole sauce. Served with cajun potatoes and grits.

I had the Eggs Sardou, a local favorite. It came with a couple of piles of creamed spinach, topped with Gulf shrimp, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Served with cajun potoates and optional melted cheese.

Lucile’s was a perfect brunch spot that felt like being back at home near the Gulf Coast, eating some traditional Creole food. If you are ever in Denver, Ft. Collins or Boulder, this is a must eat place.

Lucile’s Creole Cafe

275 South Logan Street, Denver, CO
(303) 282-6258
7am-2pm Monday through Friday
8am-2pm Saturday and Sunday
http://www.luciles.com/
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September 27, 2011

The Perch: Brentwood Crepes and Tapas

Brentwood is really trying to revive its “downtown” area, and these are exactly the sort of establishments that will thrive – local, fresh, family friendly and casual. The Perch is a simple and rustic restaurant that looks small from the outside, but has plenty of room for a group and breakfast goers as you step back through the layers of cozy rooms, with white washed walls and dark mission style furniture.

The coffee is a must. It’s Leopard Forest Coffee, grown In Zimbabwae, a fair-trade & organic coffee. I had the Scottish Truffle. Leopard Forest isn’t just good coffee, it’s also supports over 90 families who work there, some for more than 30 years. The farm provides their employees with free housing, day care, education, health care and community.

The next decision you have to make at breakfast is crepe vs. omelet vs. special. If you chose crepe, you have another decision: savory vs. sweet. I went savory with the Turkey and Brie crepe.

When you order, you can see the crepes and omelets being made right there in front of you. The chef scoops out the crepe batter onto the griddle and squeegees it out into a thin layer. It quickly becomes a light and fluffy canvas for all things sweet and savory.

My savory crepe came to out little rustic cafe table with a slice of turkey and Brie, a sprig of arugula and a dried cranberry, a little hit as to what was inside. The creamy Brie melts out when I cut into it and it’s the perfect pairing with the moist turkey, sweet cranberries, peppery arugula and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette.

The other breakfast decision was on the Specials board: Gouda Shrimp and Grits. The Gouda. Ooooo the Gouda. It was rich and buttery and creamy. All the flavor was packed in those grits and the shrimp only needed a bit of salt and pepper. The only thing I would suggest is to order something like toast or a muffin to eat with it to help with the richness.

Overall, it’s priced reasonable, it has a great atmosphere and is something that’s not Starbucks. This is definitely going to be our new breakfast spot. Especially when we have friends and family visiting.

Nutella & Banana Crepe | The Perch

Update: I went back to The Perch the following week and made the opposite decision: Sweet. This (above) is the Nutella crepe. I added banana’s and they douse it in chocolate syrup. Decadent!

The Perch
17A Franklin Road
Brentwood, TN 37027

(615) 661-9008
Open Weekdays 6:30am-5pm; Sat 8am-4pm
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September 15, 2011

Denver Restaurants: The Lobby

After a hectic cab ride to the Enterprise in a construction ridden, sketchy looking area, our car wasn’t ready. Yay. So, we asked if there was anywhere around to eat. The tap room (Great Divide) we wanted to stop at and have a drink didn’t open until 2 and it was 1pm. They pointed us to The Lobby.

It’s located in Denver’s Ballpark Neighborhood, only blocks away from Coors Field, LoDo, and Downtown Denver and the Enterprise. 🙂

From The Lobby website: “Located in what was once the lobby of this historic building, The Lobby, an “Inspired American Grille,” has kept some of the original Victorian feel while infusing modern comfort with stately character. Original exposed brick work and hardwood floors blend beautifully with modern tile and lighting. The Lobby’s large patio sits in a European-style garden courtyard. ”

This was a really cool place. The patio was awesome and we had a server with a wonderful personality. She told us that they think the building actually used to be a brothel. And that the place is seriously haunted, specifically the area where they keep their liquor.

After getting her suggestions and confirmation of what’s good on the menu, I ordered the Maple Grilled Ham Sandwich. This sandwich is not for wuzzes. It’s not just a ham sandwich.

It came with 2 massively thick maple cured pieces of ham, topped with sliced Granny Smith apples, melted Brie and caramelized onions on a light and soft sourdough hoggie bun. Their house made fries were perfect with their also house-made ranch dressing.

My husband got The Rachel sandwich. It came with a huge cheese omelet that enclosed oozing Cheddar cheese, topped with peppery bacon and aioli on a sourdough hoggie with a side of tater tots.
We paired our sandwiches with Great Divide Pale Ale- hoppy & crisp and Great Divide Wheat – a lemony summer brew.

There was some other great looking stuff on their menu too. Their burgers are supposed to be great and the grilled Brie cheese for an app looked pretty sweet. Overall, it’s a really chill and laid back place to enjoy a sunny Denver afternoon. Check them out.

The Lobby
2191 Arapahoe Street
Denver, CO 80205
(303) 997-9911
Open Weekdays 11am-10pm;
Sat 11am-11:30pm; Sun 10pm-11:30pm
http://www.thelobbydenver.com/
September 7, 2011

Charlotte: Dish

The Dish, in Charlotte, NC is a little slice of southern heaven. It’s on the southeast side of town, about 2 miles outside downtown. I asked the server what to order and she mentioned that we (my bff, who lives in Charlotte, and I) should split a couple of items: The salmon patties and chicken & dumplings. It’s exactly what Diners Drive-Ins and Dives showed on their episode, so I was skeptical.

But it was good! My mom used to make salmon patties. Sorry mom, but not like this. They clean the fresh salmon each time they make these. Eggs, whole grain mustard, mayo, celery, lemon juice and zest, dill, Worcestershire sauce and buttered white bread crumbs are mixed together, they form the patties, coat in panko and throw it on the flat top. Served with Honey Orange Butter – this is a must on the salmon patties. Delish. They were moist and full of salmon without too much bread filer.

The Chicken and Dumplings have simple flavors with a thick, peppery White and dark shredded roasted chicken and tender scratch made dumplings with a peppery finish.

Our sides were turnip greens, mac & cheese and squash casserole. All wonderful, specifically the casserole. Their biscuits should have been featured on Triple D. I asked for a half dozen to take home with me to my husband. Light and fluffy, moist and great with some butter and raspberry jam.

If you are ever in Charlotte, you’ve gotta go to Dish and don’t feel silly ordering what was on tv – it’s worth it.

Dish
1220 Thomas Avenue
Charlotte, NC 28205-5044
(704) 344-0343
Open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm;
Fri-Sat 11am-11pm
eatatdish.com/
August 30, 2011

Osteria Marco

This lunch may go down as the best meal I have ever had. If it’s not the top, it’s in the top 10 for sure. If you are familiar with Denver restaurants, you know about Frank Bonanno and his 5 restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining, Mizuna and Luca D’Italia being the most well know.

We were taking a stroll through Laimer Square, the “restaurant district” of downtown Denver when we saw a chalkboard sign with “Fresh Seasonal Bruchetta” scribbled with the rest of the specials. Being that tomatoes were in their best seasonal quality, we had to stop and grab lunch.

Osteria Marco is named for Frank Bonanno’s youngest son. Osteria means a humble restaurant where friends gather to casually enjoy their wine and food. It has a quaint patio shaded by large blue umbrellas. We walk downstairs to the main dining room – it’s causal with dark wood tables and booths, has an artisan feel, with white cotton napkins and a low key atmosphere. But, don’t let the fool you. It’s got all the stuff of a fine dining restaurant with impeccable service.

I ordered a glass of the Bella Costa Prosecco. It was crisp and fruity and extra dry with lemony citrus of pear and apple.

My husband ordered a glass of 2010 Castlelefeder Chardonnay. It was fruity with apple and pear notes. It’s somewhat spicy and a full-bodied wine.

We learned that they craft their own cheese, cure their own meat and make their own breads with an artisan approach. Even better. Let’s eat.

The bruchetta – it was wonderful. The tartness of the tomatoes balanced with a sweet and syrupy balsamic reduction. Every cheese, meat, dough, you name it, is house made at Osteria Marco. The tomatoes and balsamic sat on top of melty house-made ricotta and toasted chibatta bread with hunks of garlic throughout.

We followed with a mixed green salad with pickled red onions, house-made goat cheese, candied walnuts & strawberries.

Our sweet and salty Fig and Crispy Prosciutto Pizza was last, made as a northern Italian style pizza. The prosciutto, crisp and crumbled all over the top was just the beginning. You could smell the truffle oil mixed with house-made goat cheese, oregano and sliced sweet figs dotted all around.

Basically, 2 hours later and 3 glasses of Prosecco later, we were stuffed and in complete disbelief that we stumbled on this amazing lunch. If you are ever in Denver, you have to check this place out.

Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer Street
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 534-5855
Open Mon-Thu,Sun 11am-10pm;
Fri-Sat 11am-11pm
www.osteriamarco.com
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August 24, 2011

Denver: Marlowe’s

 

The Tuesday that we got into Denver, we were starving. I was visiting the Mile High City with my husband as a reward trip with his company. We promptly dropped off our bags and went to the conference “hospitality desk” and asked for local restaurants nearby. They pointed us to the Hard Rock Cafe and  J.Alexanders. Hm. We were on our own.

So, we headed down to the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall on our quest. We ended up at Marlowe’s on the corner of 16th Street and Glenarm Place, mainly out if desperation and starvation.  I’ll keep this one short and sweet because I don’t think there is much to this place, but my sandwich was interestingly good and so was the people watching.

I ordered the Sliced Pork Loin Sandwich. Sounds suspectedly pedestrian. Pardon the pun (since we were at the pedestrian mall). But, I read the description, and it sounds amazing: cherry & ancho pepper rub, Moroccan cheddar, spicy mustard-herb aioli, arugula & Fresno pepper jelly relish on a semolina bun, severed with kettle chips.

It sounds like a hot mess of crazy flavors, but the blend of all things sweet and spicy was amazing. The sliced pork was tender and flavorful with the sweet cherry and spicy ancho pepper rub – a perfect base for all the other yumminess. The pepper jelly is what you taste first, sticky and sweet. Then, it’s the spicy mustard-herb aioli giving it a little kick, the cheddar oozes out with the pepper jelly and the peppery arugula lingers a bit.

We both enjoyed a nice cool Big Nosed Brewery beer – the wheat and the red, respectively. I plan on doing a beer list/review of our entire brewery-hopping jaunt.

I have so much more to share from Denver soon!

Marlowe’s
501 16th Street
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 595-3700
Open Mon-Thu 11am-1am; Fri 11am-2am;
Sat 12pm-2am; Sun 12pm-1am
www.marlowesdenver.com/
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August 22, 2011

Nashville’s Best Hole in the Wall BBQ: Hog Heaven

There’s a little place tucked into the corner of Centennial Park, next to people doing yoga, folks hanging out, skateboarding, right behind McDonald’s. You’d drive right past it if you weren’t looking. It’s literally just a small building with a screened in porch, 2 picnic tables and a walk up order window. You know the BBQ is good just by looking at this little shack. Hog Heaven BBQ has just the basics: pulled pork, pulled brisket, pulled turkey & ribs.

I went for the pulled brisket, sides of turnip greens & baked beans. It comes with a cornbread pancake and sliced dill pickles. Ever had sliced brisket? This was pulled. And the only way you can do that is to cook the crap out of it. The pulled brisket is smoked for 20 hours. It was moist and tender. I went for their regular, mild sauce, which has a pretty good kick to it. I didn’t know that Hog Heaven is known for their white BBQ sauce until afterwards ( I now realize that I must have been living under a rock). It’s supposed to out of this world.

The turnip greens come with a spicy vinegar dressing, which I recommend to add more flavor. The baked beans were nice and spicy too.

The hubs opted for the pulled pork plate, which we fought over who would get what. I gave in and let him get the pork. It was seriously yummy too. Tender and moist and smothered in their hot BBQ sauce. Their hot sauce is H.O.T. You’ve been warned.

He had sides of baked beans and cole slaw. The cole slaw was really great-crisp, tangy and not too sweet. I don’t like cole slaw with too much sugar, or really any at all.

Head over to the Parthenon and check out Hog Heaven. It’s some of the best BBQ in town.

Hog Heaven BBQ
115 27th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37203-1410
Open Mon-Sat 10am-7pm
(615) 329-1234
www.hogheavenbbq.com/
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August 9, 2011

Restaurant Review – South Nashville: Sopapillas

Sopapilla’s is not your typical Mexican style restaurant. It’s not even Mexican. It’s New Mexican (like New Mexico) Southwestern cuisine. Located at the corner of Moores Lane and Franklin Road, it’s near a new condo development, the new Mack and Kate’s and a coming soon Cajun restaurant. I realize we have (like any other city in America) a thousand Mexican restaurants. This one isn’t any less greesy, it’s just a little different. Haute (New) Mexican, if you will.

It opened about a year ago in a small and quaint dining room with a great patio. It got so popular that it expanded to the space next to them with a huge bar and more dining room seating.

The food is good, not it’s great. And you won’t forget the best thing on the menu that is complementary. Not the margaritas, unfortunately. It’s the Sopapilla’s. A lot like a beignets, these are fluffy and hollow, sweet and yummy, served with a drizzling of honey. Traditionally, sopapilla’s are served as bread at your meal, but in the South and in America, they served as a dessert.

complementary sopapillas

We’ve frequented Sopapilla’s often. The first time was with my in-laws. My MIL had found this spot and insisted we join. She is always finding cool little places. She’s the one who introduced us to the Forest Hills Farmers Market too.

Some of the items we have tried: Blue Corn Chicken Enchiladas and the Blue Corn Chicken Tacos, Green Chilie Flautas, Mexico City Street Tacos, Chile Relleno, Chicken Buritto and the Street Tacos. I’d had all and they are all very good.

Sopapilla's Table Side Guacamole

Their guacamole is served table side. Super fresh with “avocado, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime
and our signature spice blend prepared table side.” I am a picky guac eater, so it’s got to be good for me. It’s 10 bucks, but it’s worth it.

Sopapilla's Tamale and Shrimp Taco

My husband got the Green Corn Tamale and Chipotle Shrimp Taco. It was really spicy. Like 3 or 4 napkins spicy. I got the Chile Relleno Combo with “a Hatch green chile rellano filled with melted monterey jack and a shredded beef taco, served with rice and beans.” The Chile Relleno was great. Huge and fresh and stuffed with cheese. Who wouldn’t like that? The beef taco – not so good. Dry and flavorless.

Sopapilla's Chili Relleno

Sopapilla’s
1109 Davenport Blvd.
Franklin, TN 37064
615-794-9989

Open 7 Days a Week, Bar is open late!

Sunday-Thursday
11 AM – 9 PM

Friday-Saturday
11 AM – 10:30 PM

Intersection of Moores Lane and Franklin Road

http://www.sopapillas.net/

July 28, 2011

South Nashville: Puckett’s Grocery

Puckett’s Grocery is a mainstay from Leipers Fork, TN. Most everyone has heard of it and/or eaten there. I just visited for the first time a few weeks ago at their downtown Franklin location. The nostalgic country theme of this restaurant takes you back in time. It reminds me of my grandfather’s old country convenience store, where he had a deli with fresh butchered meat, pulled pork sandwiches and his famous potato logs. Maybe that is where i get my passion for food??? Memories… It was like that up until about 1995 or so when he sold it to some Indian oil company who turned it into a Shell station with a Subway or something. I digress…

Puckett’s is freaking good. It was slammed with a wait at 2 in the afternoon, but it was Saturday, so we used he open seating at the bar. I had the Pulled Pork Quesidilla’s with onion rings. Seriously had to slap my husband’s hand way from a bite. The pulled pork was amazing with jack cheese and Puckett’s own “spicy” BBQ sauce (it wasn’t really that spicy to me, but I really like spicy food).

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with live music on Tuesday-Saturday evenings at their Franklin location and a pretty good wine and beer list. I plan on taking my best friend in August when she comes to visit from North Carolina with her 6 month old. After, we’ll take a stroll in downtown Franklin.

Puckett’s Grocery

3 locations:
Franklin – 120 Fourth Avenue South – Franklin – (615)794-5527
Nashville- 500 Church Street – Nashville – (615) 770 2772
Leiper’s Fork – 4142 Old Hillsboro Road – Leiper’s Fork – (615)794-1308
http://www.puckettsgrocery.com/
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July 26, 2011

New Nashville Restaurant: First Watch

Fresh Watch Daytime Cafe is a new restaurant chain in the Nashville area. It’s concept boasts fresh and healthy food. You can even order cholesterol free eggs. Based out of Bradenton, FL (which explains the aesthetic), plans on opening 3-5 other locations in Cool Springs, Green Hills, Belle Meade and West End, in addition to its Brentwood location, located in the Harris Teeter shopping center. It’s the fast-growing and largest daytime only restaurant in the U.S.

photo: First Watch's Facebook page

Let’s get to the food. I was greeted with a fresh pot, not just a cup, of coffee and a pretty large menu, full of choices ranging from health nut selections, to pancakes, griddles, salads, sandwiches and burgers. I had the Fresh Fruit Crepes for this late breakfast. They were a part of the healthy section of the menu.

Fresh Fruit Crepes - photo: First Watch's Facebook page

A crepe filled with bananas and strawberries, topped with low fat strawberry yogart and a few more pieces of fruit. The crepe was a little tough and chewy, but I am hoping it was because they are still trying to figure out the menu. They’ve only been open about a week, and I can’t even make a good crepe. On the side came a delicious blueberry muffin and granola.

Other breakfast items that looked appetizing:

Killer Cajun: cajun spiced white chicken breast with mushrooms, Monterey Jack cheese and onions with salsa.

Turkey Dill Crepegg: Crepe with whipped eggs, turkey, mushrooms, spinach, onions, jack cheese. Topped with diced tomatoes, hollandaise and dill with English muffins.

Overall, it was a pretty good and light breakfast. It’s definitely not your hip and trendy Nashville spot, definitely a chain, but would be a great place to take your in-laws for a Saturday breakfast. And I may even go back to try something different and use the free wi-fi. It’d be great for kids too.

First Watch
210 Franklin Road
Brentwood, TN 37027
7 days a week; 7:00am-2:30pm
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