Tag Archives: Beef

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What’s growing in your greenhouse?

Posted from Cleveland, Ohio, United States.

I quizzed the local coworkers on the best dining options in downtown Cleveland, and second after Lola was The Greenhouse, a modern-eclectic gastropub. It has two floors of drinking, generous patio seating for nice warm summer nights, and a dark interior decked out with reclaimed wood and stacks of HVS tapes, and a fleet of hipster bicycles hanging from the ceiling.

After an extravagant culinary orgy of bacon two weeks ago, I’m still wary of pork, but I’m glad I ventured into the territory. I started with “Devils on Horseback”: Soft bacon-wrapped dates are lusciously stuffed with bittersweet chocolate. Salty and sweet and rich all at the same time. As if it could get more interesting, it’s served with a rich light onion sauce and a smokey red pepper paste. Overall it paired amazingly well with my single-malt.
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For the main course, a small, but thick cut ribeye steak. Perfectly brined and cooked, it has a rich pan-drippings sauce am served on a bed of the most amazing creamy smooth mash potatoes that taste exactly like pirogues, which are a polish potato dumpling commonly found in the area. This being the land of meat and potatoes, there’s also a generous helping of fries and a tangy house-made mayo. With a mayo like this, I can actually enjoy it on frites without feeling disgusted, which I don’t think I have ever enjoyed before.

20140731-201520-72920812.jpgFor desert, a luxurious corn-flavored custard, topped with a light fresh caramel and just a sprinkle of sea salt to enhance the flavors.

20140731-201521-72921314.jpgSo if you ever find yourself in Cleveland, check out The Greenhouse for a popular bar scene and great food.

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SLO down for a quick bite

Posted from San Luis Obispo, California, United States.

Last time I visited Firestone Grill was the night of the farmers market, and so it was overcrowded and rushed. Tonight, a Monday night after the spring semester is over leaves San Luis Obispo quieter and more relaxed. A cool summer evening for a perfect outdoor setting.

As well as they can handle crowds, Firestone is even better on a quiet night. Tender, juicy tri-tip piled on a buttered flame-toasted roll and a sweet BBQ sauce has just the right balance of soft savory glaciers that make for an excellent example of this Central Coast specialty. With a side of huge hot onion rings, this is a great stop for a quick casual dinner, or am afternoon of watching sports. Either way a win.20140609-191657-69417921.jpg

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Quick flavorful fast food

Posted from Chicago, Illinois, United States.

Quick junk food, Portillo’s is setup like a food court. This Chicago Classic is spreading locations across the country, selling quintessential Chicago dogs and Italian food. While people may dispute the quality, there’s no doubting the heavenly aroma when you walk through the doors.

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A Chicago dog with everything on it… onions, pickles, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers but no ketchup! Not a special dog, but pile high like this makes it amazing.

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Of course the dog wasn’t enough, so I also got the Italian beef with sweet peppers. Delicious, juicy, flavorful an light years better than the giant McDonalds across the street.

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No nonsense noodles

Posted from San Francisco, California, United States.

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I made it through TSA security with only 20 minutes until boarding. Normally this would mean a sad sandwich packaged the previous night for $15. Luckily I’m at SFO and for a small airport the food options look surprisingly good. I pass up the packaged sandwiches, gourmet picnic foods, as well as the specialty pizza and hot sandwiches, choosing instead the sushi and noodle counter, Wakaba. Mesmerized by videos of Mt. Fuji, I quickly get a bowl of beef udon and a cold bottle of Sapporo while keeping track of my flight out of the corner of my eye. (Since when does TSA allow glass inside the security point?)

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The broth is light, slightly sweet and very hot. The noodles and seaweed are nicely al dente. The beef is flavorful, but over cooked and not as tender as it should be. And after a long day of meetings, the Sapporo really hits the spot. Alas, I have to rush, and don’t get to finish the broth or last few sips of beer.

Does it hold up to a great noodle house? No. But it’s 40 feet from my gate. Besides, what’s being served inside your airport?

chandelier in Grand Central Terminal

Steaks, Trains, and Basketball?

Posted from New York, New York, United States.

Another business trip, this time to Manhattan. My in-laws really wanted to meet me for dinner, an apparently my father in law has been talking about trying Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse for over a decade. Located inside of Grand Central Terminal, this picturesque location occupies the balcony opposite of the Apple Store.

Being a steakhouse, it has a fairly simple menu. 10 steak offerings, 5 of which are bone-in, a couple of basic chicken, fish, and pasta offerings. Naturally we skipped most of these and targeted the steak. My father-in-law and I both went for the Filet Mignon. I was looking for a smaller cut as I’m overeating on these business dinners. The steak was cooked absolutely perfectly at medium rare, although I think it had cooled off some while waiting on the other dishes. The filet had a beautiful thick crust of cracked pepper and just the right amount of salt, a simple preparation that really let the natural beef flavor shine through. The portion was much smaller than I expected though. Even though filets are smaller than other cuts, this seemed to be in the 5-6 ounce territory.  The pepper was especially pungent, spicier than I can recall having on a steak, but not overpowering. On the side, we had sweet potato fries (soft and cool) with a horseradish sauce (no spice) and sautéed brocoli. I would skip the fries, but the broccoli was unusual with a slight crisp and a really nice buttery smokey flavor.

filet mignon filet mignon

As I mentioned, the food was on the cold side, and service was really slow, perhaps partially because my mother-in-law ordered the rack of lamb. If I had known what would come out of the kitchen, I probably would have gone for this instead. A 4 rib rack, roasted, cut in half and then pan-finished, the result was basically 2 double-thick bone-in lamb rib chops. This dish dwarfed the filets, and was served on a bed of asparagus. Lamb’s usual gamey flavor was downplayed, and the low-temperature roasting meant that the fats had nicely broken down, leaving extremely flavorful and tender meat.

single chop from rack of lamb

Overall, the prices were reasonable, the service extremely slow, and the food slightly sub-par for what a steakhouse like this should be delivering. The waitstaff seemed like tired typical New Yorkers, and it looked like the manager (or concierge, not sure which) took off promptly at 9pm. The saving grace for this place is the location, and if you can get a seat at the edge of the balcony, you can use your extra time people-watching over nightly commuters.