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Eleven Madison Park

22 Mar

A couple of weeks ago, we went to New York City for the weekend to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. Why NYC, you ask? Well, we wanted to be tourists for a change. Seeing as how we have friends and relatives around the area, we have never stayed in Manhattan, at a hotel, just the two of us. Instead of trying to make the last bus to Jersey or catching a late train back to Queens, we were on our own schedule, absorbing the sights and sounds of the Big Apple like we had never visited before. We saw a show on Broadway (Memphis – which was outstanding), walked the entire length of the High Line, and frolicked around Central Park… the whole nine yards.

And then of course, there was the food. I surprised Rachel that Saturday night with dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants – Eleven Madison Park. One of the toughest tables in NYC, their reservation system is very similar to that of Minibar: you can only make a reservation exactly 30 days to the date starting at 9am (Jose Andres’ phone line opens an hour later, but I digress).

However, Eleven Madison Park also takes reservations not only by phone but also via OpenTable, which made things a lot easier. While vigorously pressing the F5 key, I grabbed whatever slot was available. As soon as the clock struck 9, a 6:15pm table for two soon showed up. I clicked, and it was booked. Certainly beats hitting the redial button 100 times. Patting myself on the back, I had to keep our reservation a secret for an entire month.

Fast forward to March 3rd. We grab a cab from the hotel and make our way down towards Madison Square Park. Rachel still has no idea where we’re going, and when we arrive, she admits she has never heard of it before. Nonetheless, the friendly host greets us at the door, takes our coats, and congratulates us on our anniversary while showing us to our table.

The sommelier then comes over and hands me their wine list while providing Rachel a menu of “soft cocktails”. You see, Rachel is… well, you guessed it (surprise!), and I gave the restaurant a heads-up when I originally made the reservation. We were already wowed by the service with that gesture, and we hadn’t even ordered anything yet.

Then comes their fascinating menu concept – the meal is set up as a four-course tasting menu, but the menu lists 16 main ingredients arranged in four rows of four. Diners choose one main ingredient from each row which represents that course, and each dish revolves around said ingredient. For example, the first row had a choice of hamachi, octopus, fois gras, and sunchoke. Needless to say, but we have never seen anything like this before. No descriptions, just the name of the ingredient.

Black and White Cookie Box

And despite that the menu lists only four courses, the restaurant also provides an array of amuse bouches and small plates along the way. For instance, the meal started out with the kitchen’s take on a New York staple, the black and white cookie, served in a wrapped box. This rendition, however, was savory and comprised of parmesan and black truffle. From there on out, we knew we were in for a memorable evening.

Savory Black and White Cookie

We then received a cup of smoked apple-thyme tea accompanied with a sunny side up quail egg on toasted brioche with applewood smoked bacon.

Our next amuse bouche was a mackerel and scallop crudo. Unfortunately for Rachel, she was unable to have it since she obviously has to avoid raw fish, but the waitress was very accommodating and offered to bring her a cooked version of it. She returned with a new plate within a matter of minutes, leaving Rachel and I very much impressed by the outstanding service.

Mackerel and scallop crudo

Our fourth and final amuse was perhaps the most impressive – frozen Greek yogurt lollipops with curried lentils, as well as a plate of panisse (chickpea fritters) with yogurt. Yes you read that correctly, frozen Greek yogurt lollipops!

Frozen Greek yogurt lollipops with curried lentils, panisse (chickpea fritters) with yogurt

We were then served a pair of their croissant rolls, which were accompanied by fresh cow’s milk and goat’s milk butter. The goat’s milk butter was irresistible as we both kept spreading it across the warm, flaky rolls. They reminded us of the ones you can find at Fiola.

After a wonderful array of small plates, we then began our first course. Rachel ordered the octopus, which was poached and prepared with chorizo, onions, and lemon.

Octopus

I went with the hamachi, which was marinated with horseradish and peppercress. It was a lovely piece of yellowtail.

Hamachi

For our second course, Rachel ordered the lobster. The beautifully presented plate featured poached knuckle and claw meat with Meyer lemon beurre blanc and was accompanied with charred leek, leek puree, charred bay leaf, and dehydrated squid ink. The lobster was impeccably poached in the lemon sauce and each bite was heavenly. Amazingly, the charred bay leaf had the flavor of toasted bread.

Lobster

I, on the other hand, decided to be a little adventurous and opted with… a vegetable? Seeing as how I typically stick to proteins, I’m very much a fan of potatoes and felt that the kitchen could wow me with such a simple ingredient. The plate featured several smoked miniature potatoes on a bed of potato puree, topped with bacon crumbles and black truffle shavings. It was good, but I was definitely eyeing Rachel’s lobster for a good duration.

Potato

It was then onto our main course. Rachel ordered the rabbit, which was prepared two ways: loin wrapped in pancetta, and rabbit rillette. It was accompanied with mustard seed au jus, endive, and fried tapioca balls. Now Rachel isn’t one to normally order something like rabbit, but she thought she’d try something different, and it was certainly of the most unique dishes she had.

Rabbit

I ordered the beef, which turned out to be a 55-day dry aged rib eye. It was an exceptional piece of steak, prepared medium-rare and delightfully tender. Lightly drizzled with sorrel sauce and served with picked mushrooms, it wasn’t the largest cut of beef but it was satisfying nonetheless.

55-day dry aged rib eye

Just when it couldn’t get any better, our next course was the restaurant’s take on another New York classic — egg cream. Prepared tableside, our waitress mixed whole milk infused with cacao nibs, orange syrup, and seltzer poured from a classic soda siphon. We loved every second of it.

Egg cream

Then came the deconstructed New York cheesecake. Prepared with goat cheese and situated in a glass with blood orange sorbet while topped with vanilla “snow”, this dessert was simple divine. Oh, and we hadn’t even got to our actual dessert course yet.

Deconstructed New York cheesecake

Speaking of which, that came next. I ordered the chocolate dessert, which was a combination of sweet and salty. It featured crunchy mounds of chocolate atop of layer of crème, lightly drizzled with olive oil.

Chocolate Dessert

Rachel went with their renowned “milk and honey” dessert, which featured milk sorbet with a honey center, dehydrated milk foam, and milk snow.

Milk Dessert

Our waitress soon came by pouring me a glass of cognac, leaving the bottle at the table in case I wanted to refill it. Yeah, they left us alone with the entire bottle! The restaurant was probably fortunate in that I’m not a huge fan of cognac, so the bottle was left untouched, but still, that’s one incredible gesture. And of course they one-upped themselves by serving Rachel a glass of sparkling cider so she wouldn’t feel left out.

Cognac

And to top things off, the meal ultimately concluded with black and white cookies, but this time they were actually sweet, prepared with vanilla, chocolate, and lemon. A fitting end to a fabulous meal.

Sweet Black and White Cookies

Just when we thought we were done, they not only handed us a jar of granola to take home for breakfast, but also gave us a box of chocolates with a “Happy Anniversary” insert placed inside. Talk about leaving your customers with an everlasting impression. Chef Daniel Humm even stopped by our table to say hello. The staff at Eleven Madison Park went above and beyond and truly made our anniversary a memorable one. If you’re ever in the city for a special occasion, Eleven Madison Park is highly recommended.

Chocolate Box

Eleven Madison Park on Urbanspoon

Brunch at 9 Restaurant NYC

13 Mar

In early March, Brett and I had a wonderful weekend in New York City to celebrate our second wedding anniversary. We had some amazing food (more on that to come), but I thought I’d start our trip recap with one of the more casual and fun places that we went to. We were looking for a place to go for brunch on Saturday that was near our hotel, affordable, and had a good number of options to choose from. Our friends suggested 9 Restaurant NYC in Hell’s Kitchen, so off we went.

Upon checking in on FourSquare, Brett noticed a deal for a free glass of sangria (score!). Not a bad way to start our morning. Looking over the menu, several items sounded appealing, but the one I kept coming back to and couldn’t resist was dubbed The King French Toast. It was essentially a large piece of French toast topped with peanut butter, banana, maple syrup, and bacon. Just what Elvis would have ordered. I couldn’t resist trying it, partly out of curiosity and but also because I love the combination of peanut butter and bananas. Plus, bacon and maple syrup could only make it better!

The King French Toast

Well, let’s just say I made the right choice since Brett and our friends were eying my meal and looking rather envious that they hadn’t ordered it as well. When it arrived, the French toast looked more like a piece of cake than its traditional appearance as it was one very tall piece of bread. Also, the way the bacon was assembled on top made it look like a crown fit for a king. Once I broke into it and ate it all together, all the ingredients added up to a perfect bite.

Seared eggs and short rib mushroom hash

Brett ordered the seared eggs and short rib mushroom hash. While it wasn’t a bad dish, it could not hold a candle to the Wagyu corned beef hash he had at Bluestem in Kansas City last fall. 9′s rendition was more on the bland side and was lacking flavor. Again, if it wasn’t for Bluestem’s excellent preparation, he probably would have enjoyed this dish more.

Lobster Hot Dogs

While I admit that I was skeptical at first, The King French Toast at 9 is definitely an amazing dish that I would recommend the next time you’re in New York and looking for a good brunch spot. I was happy with my choice and it reminded me to be more adventurous when eating out and to not always go with standard eggs and potatoes fare. I’m fairly certain the “create your own omelet” would not have been nearly as fun as my breakfast that morning.

9 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Stardust Cafe Sparkles in West Virginia

14 Feb

A few months ago, my coworker told me about this great special at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia where, during the offseason, local residents can book a two-night stay for a fraction of the price of a regular visit. Brett and I hadn’t heard much about the resort, but we decided to go as a nice winter getaway for the weekend.

It was definitely a relaxing trip and we were glad we went, but we were a little disappointed in the dining options. Two of the restaurants at the Greenbrier were closed for winter cleaning, so that left us with a stuffy formal dining room, an extremely pricey steakhouse, or a mediocre comfort food restaurant (Draper’s). After a dinner at Draper’s, we decided that there had to be more options, so off we went to explore the nearest town of Lewisburg. We decided to try Stardust Café because of its universal praise on TripAdvisor as well as its eclectic menu. Needless to say, we made the right choice.

Sesame Ahi Tuna

I should mention that Lewisburg is this cute little town with one main street. You’ll know you are close when you see a sign that says: “Lewisburg, Voted America’s Coolest Small Town!” We had made reservations earlier in the day, although it clearly wasn’t necessary as there were very few people in the restaurant. Granted, this was also a Monday night in January. The place was small, romantic, and just what we were looking for. The staff was incredibly friendly and helpful, and everything on the menu sounded appealing. Their philosophy to only use local and sustainable ingredients was definitely apparent throughout the menu. They also had a great drink list as well, as I got their concoction of a “wine fizzy” while Brett ordered a Rogue Mocha Porter.

Trust Me Salad

After eating a heavy chicken pot pie the day before, my eyes lit up at the description of the “Trust Me Salad”: fresh greens with local spring mix, tomatoes, red onion, chevre goat cheese, sprinkled with crunchy grains, nuts, seeds, and topped with avocado. I added shrimp to top it off and it was the perfect dish. They were right, you really had to trust them on how the ingredients go together, but they really did. Between the creamy avocado, goat cheese, and the crunch of the grains, I was a happy camper.

Brett’s ordered the seared sesame ahi tuna to which he immediately fell in love with. There must have been at least two dozen pieces of center-cut filet on the plate, beautifully arranged and flawlessly cooked. When one thinks of excellent fish preparations, land-locked West Virginia typically doesn’t come to mind, but this was one of the best tuna dishes we have come across. The attention to detail was a nice touch as even the wasabi was formed into miniature leaves.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

We were full but couldn’t pass up dessert as they are all made by the Crazy Baker, aka the owner’s twin brother. We had to try the sticky toffee pudding as they claimed it was his signature item. In one word: wow. We were blown away by how simple the dish looked yet how wonderful it tasted. Essentially a date cake topped with hot caramel sauce, we were scraping every last bit off the plate.

Grass-fed beef burger

We loved the food and atmosphere so much that we actually decided to come back and have lunch before we made our way back to Maryland. Between the local grass-fed burger and the curry chicken tacos, Stardust once again did not disappoint.

Chicken Curry Tacos

Granted, this may not be a place you would drive four-plus hours out of your way to go to, but if you are ever in the Lewisburg area of West Virginia, we highly recommend the Stardust Cafe. It’s a great place to go for Valentine’s Day, or any day of the year!

Stardust Cafe on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Brennan’s

14 Dec

As you may have guessed from our Twitter posts over the last week or so, I was just in New Orleans for nine days for my company’s annual meeting. Our meetings are so large (20,000+ attendees) that we can only rotate between a handful of cities. Let’s just say that the years we go to New Orleans and Las Vegas are a little more anticipated than our conventions in Anaheim and Orlando.

Anyway, it’s become tradition that Brett has tagged along either in the beginning before things get too crazy or at the end after the storm has passed. We’ll get to some places that Brett and I went together later this week, but for me, I have to start at the end with one of the most decadent meals I had in NOLA. There are of course several places like this to choose from, but I decided to end my New Orleans week with the famous Breakfast at Brennan’s.

Oysters Benedict

Brennan’s on Royal Street has been home to gluttonous breakfasts and dinners since 1946. I went in with three other colleagues fully prepared to roll ourselves out, and that we did.

We each decided to go with the three-course prix fixe menu for $36, because, well, when in Rome, right? Everything sounded so good that it was difficult to choose. I started with the Creole Bloody Mary and decided to try the Southern Baked Apple with double cream as my appetizer.

Southern Baked Apple

I got the cream on the side just so it wouldn’t overpower the apple, and I have to say dipping the apple in the cream was a fun way to eat it. The apple was huge and tasted more like a dessert than a breakfast starter, but I was in heaven. If this was any indication of what was to come, then we were in for a treat.

For my entree, I ordered the quintessential New Orleans breakfast dish, Eggs Sardou. If you’re not familiar with the dish, it’s poached eggs on artichoke bottoms atop a bed of creamed spinach and covered with Hollandaise sauce. Again, I got my Hollandaise on the side, because I’m just not a big fan of Hollandaise. Other dishes ordered at the table were the the Oysters Benedict, Eggs Houssarde (another famous dish), and the Eggs Bayou.

Eggs Sardou

I was in love with the dish itself. The yolk of the poached eggs ran into the already creamy spinach and stacked with the artichoke, making for a perfect bite. The dish also came with a grilled tomato with Parmesan cheese, which we all enjoyed. The spinach wasn’t too heavy or overly creamy, and I had to resist finishing every bite in order to save room for dessert.

Ah yes, dessert. While there were many tasty options on the menu, it took five seconds to make the decision to order the Bananas Foster. One of the things Brennan’s is most famous for is the Bananas Foster as the dish was actually invented here.

Bananas Foster Table

Our waiter Ron was quite the ham and enjoyed putting on a show of flambéing the bananas and strawberries for the crepe dish. How did it taste? It was divine. The bananas were of course sautéed with butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and banana liqueur, and then served over vanilla ice cream. It was the perfect end to an incredibly decadent meal and a foodie’s dream week in New Orleans.

Brennan's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Primanti Brothers: A Pittsburgh Institution

21 Oct

I was recently in Pittsburgh for a few days for a conference and figured I should try to make the most of it by checking out some food establishments that are quintessential to the city. Based on the suggestions I received from friends as well as from the exposure from Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel, I knew the one place I had to check out was Primanti Brothers. It wound up being my last stop before the airport and definitely the most memorable.

Primanti Bros Turkey and Cheese Sandwich

There are several Primanti Brothers locations throughout the metropolitan area, with the original being in the Strip District. I went inside and sat myself after a friendly employee asked if I was expecting anyone else. Staring right at me was the famous menu. Each sandwich comes with lettuce, tomato, coleslaw, and French fries. That’s right, what you would normally find as sides on your plate are actually on the sandwich. I guess the thinking is that it saves time for a quick lunch break as well as not having to use a fork.

All items are cash only, with no sandwich costing more than $6.49. I opted for what I thought was the “healthiest” option and got the turkey and cheese sandwich. When it came, I was blown away by how quickly it arrived as well as the sheer size of it. It’s a shame my DMV Dining partner in crime wasn’t with me because he certainly would have enjoyed this experience.

Primanti Bros Menu

The thick white bread held the ingredients together without getting soggy. The turkey was smoked and had a nice char to it. I thought the fries would be too much but it actually wasn’t. Combining the melted cheese, turkey, fries, and vinegar-based coleslaw with lettuce and tomato led to one perfect bite. And then another. And another. I had to literally step away from the sandwich to avoid eating the whole thing.

I have to admit, I was a little skeptical if Primanti Brothers would live up to the hype. After trying one of their countless varieties of sandwiches I can say that it is definitely a must-visit in Pittsburgh, like Ben’s in DC or Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City. I don’t know when I’ll be back there, but when I do, it’ll definitely be on the list so I can revisit that delicious sandwich.

Primanti Brothers (Strip District) on Urbanspoon

Hawaiian Pizza at Paia Flatbread Company

30 Sep

When one thinks of Hawaiian pizza, ham and pineapple typically come to mind. But rest assured, Flatbread Company brings their own slice of authenticity to the island of Maui. In fact, it very well might be the best pizza on the island.

After a long day of driving the Road to Hana, we were downright exhausted. Having driven all the way to the Seven Sacred Pools, we headed back to town around 3:30pm. By the time we reached Paia, we were starving and looking for a casual place to eat. Flatbread Company fit the bill: pizza, beer, and plenty of seating.

Mopsy's Kalua Pork and Pa'ia Bay Ohana

I actually had no idea that Flatbread was a miniature chain as the restaurant has nine locations, all of which are located in New England for the exception of their Maui outpost. The company touts the use of local, organic ingredients and bakes their pizzas in a wood-fire, clay oven grill.

We started the meal off with their organic house salad as well as some local beer brewed by Maui Brewing Co. I had the Bikini Blonde Lager while Rachel got the CoCoNut Porter. Meanwhile the salad featured mesclun and sweet leaf lettuces from Kula, green papaya and carrots from Hale Akua, toasted sesame seeds, arame seaweed, and homemade pineapple vinaigrette.

Organic Salad

As for the pizzas, we were torn on what to get considering our patented indecisiveness, but thankfully Flatbread Company has a solution for that: they will let you split your order so you can enjoy two varieties on one pie. Problem solved!

We decided on the Mopsy’s Kalua Pork which featured smoked free-range pork shoulder, pineapple, red onions, goat cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, and mango BBQ sauce. It was exceptional to say the least. The smoked pork was tender while the tangy sauce perfectly complemented the rest of the ingredients, giving the flatbread a nice twist on traditional Hawaiian pizza.

The other half was the Pa’ia Bay Ohana and was topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms, mozzarella, parmesan, and tomato sauce. This half resembled more of a traditional pizza in respect to its components, but the quality was of a higher caliber given the quality of the local ingredients.

Paia Flatbread Company

Oh, and let’s not forget about the crust. Its thin, crispy texture practically transported me back to the east coast. Sliced into long pieces, it proved difficult to stop reaching for another slice. I really enjoyed both, but the pork/BBQ sauce combo made the Mopsy’s pie the clear winner in my eyes.

Overall, we had a great time at Flatbread Company. Our waitress was very helpful when we were deciding what to order and possessed that contagious, laid-back attitude that is so prominent in Hawaii. If Paia wasn’t so far from our hotel in Kaanapali, we would have come back at least a few more times. Next time we travel to New England, a stop at Flatbread Co. is a must.

Flatbread on Urbanspoon

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice

26 Sep

We knew that the one thing we had to try in Hawaii was shave ice. As we generally do when visiting somewhere new, the first thing we did was research TripAdvisor and Yelp to find tips on where to eat in Maui. To our surprise, the top ranking for the island wasn’t a fancy restaurant like Mama’s Fish House, but rather Ululani’s Shave Ice. Considering the number of shave ice establishments in Maui, we knew we had to check them out for ourselves.

If you are not familiar with shave ice, it is literally what it sounds like:  ice that is shaved from a block and then topped with flavored syrup. What makes it a completely decadent treat is when the ice is topped over a scoop of ice cream.

Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice

Ululani’s says it stands out by using pure cane sugar, purified filtered water, and flavors made from premium purees or extracts. They have countless flavors to choose from as well as several interesting toppings that range from homemade Azuki beans to fresh Mochi balls.

Needless to say, we were fairly overwhelmed by our choices and decided to go with a set combination of red velvet, root beer, and vanilla topped with a “snow cap”, all over a scoop of macadamia nut ice cream. A snow cap is a sweet cream mixture which makes the flavors meld together, and all in all, it was heavenly. We were fairly full from dinner so we ordered a mini size, which was perfect as it was still a substantial portion in our eyes.

From that point on, we definitely weren’t sure if any shave ice place could top Ululani’s. Not only was it excellent, but the staff was extremely helpful and friendly. The only one that was even comparable was the Wishing Well Shave Ice truck in Kauai, but we know we only scratched the surface in terms of shave ice delicacies throughout the islands of Hawaii.

Ululani's Hawaiian Shave Ice on Urbanspoon

Bluestem – Kansas City Brunch Done Right

6 Sep

During our travels in Kansas City, we didn’t just partake in barbecue. Shocking as it may seem, we put the ribs and brisket down for a day and instead went out for brunch.

Bluestem, located in the vibrant Westport neighborhood, is one of Kansas City’s top dining destinations. Similar to CityZen, Bluestem offers a prix fixe menu where diners have their choice of three, five or ten course dinners that range from $60 to $100.

On Sundays, however, Bluestem also offers an a la carte brunch that is very reasonable, and as we experienced, very delightful.

Mimosa

We started our morning off with an order of mimosas while looking over the menu. Being in Kansas City, I had to continue my infatuation with all things beef, so naturally I ordered the Wagyu corned beef hash. Rachel, opting instead for a slightly healthier meal, ordered the omelet of the day.

Corned Beef Hash

The corned beef hash was served with a thick, spicy tomato sauce along with a pair of sunny side up eggs. Between that and the tender, flavorful chunks of corned beef, I was in heaven. I love when corned beef hash has a kick to it as it gave a certain life to the dish as opposed to other places where it’s just missing something. This had all the elements I was looking for and I loved every bite.

Omelet with heirloom tomatoes, basil, oyster mushrooms, and goat cheese

As soon as Rachel heard the description of the omelet of the day, she knew she had to order it. Filled with heirloom tomatoes, basil, oyster mushrooms, and goat cheese, it was light and airy as she savored each forkful. The roasted potatoes and side salad rounded out the dish.

Overall, Bluestem is a gem and should not be missed if you are looking for an excellent brunch spot. Given how great our meal was, we might have to splurge for dinner next time we are in town.

Bluestem on Urbanspoon

Annie’s Bannanies – The Perfect Beach Treat

29 Jul

This past week, Brett and I shared a beach house with a few friends in Dewey Beach, Delaware. It was an ideal weekend of sun and sand, and of course, great food and drinks. Just a few weeks prior, I had traveled to Rehobeth Beach with some girlfriends, and it was then that I finally got my hands on my very first taste of Annie’s Banannies.

You may wonder, what exactly is Annie’s Banannies? Well, “Annie” is Ann Ketchum, the owner and founder who learned how to transform frozen bananas into an ice cream consistency from her parents and decided to honor their memories with a store of her own.

Mocha Nannie

Between my two visits, I can safely say that I have had Annie’s at least six times. It’s just that good. You can watch the employees push the frozen bananas through the Champion Juicer, and out comes thick swirls of “ice cream.” It’s healthy, vegan, and gluten-free, something that has become even more important as more people are diagnosed with Celiac Disease.

The banana base may be a little bland in itself, but that is when the fun toppings come in. You can choose from many concoctions like the Nutty Banannie (natural peanut butter and chopped peanuts), the Tropical Banannie (mango, pineapple, and coconut flakes), and the Banana Cream Pie (crushed graham crackers and whipped cream). You can also create your own from a variety of toppings. My personal favorite is anything blended with their natural peanut butter. Mix that peanut butter with chocolate syrup and some nuts for an indulgent dessert, or with strawberry puree for a taste just like peanut butter and jelly.

Snicker Nannie

You really can’t go wrong with any of the selections. I even got Brett hooked and it’s tough to lure people away from other boardwalk options such as Kohr Brothers! And for all you Weight Watchers out there, keep in mind that the Bannanie is simply a frozen banana, and if you add just fruit toppings, you have yourselves a Zero Points Plus treat.

And here’s the really good news: you don’t even have to trek out to Rehoboth to enjoy it. Annie’s has opened up a temporary location at the Inner Harbor Light Street Pavilion in downtown Baltimore! It’s slightly closer than Delaware, but we would be doing backflips if she opened up a shop in DC.

One thing to note is that apparently Chicken Out also serves a similar variation of Annie’s. I haven’t tried it yet so I can’t vouch for it, but if it’s anything close to Annie’s, it may have to do to feed my addiction before our next beach outing.

Annie's Banannies on Urbanspoon

A Taste of Boulder: Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery

22 Jun

Last week I had the pleasure of being in Colorado for a conference, and Brett and I went out a day early to check out Boulder before heading to Denver. We knew we wanted to hit up a brewery or two, and first on our list was Mountain Sun Pub and Brewery as it earned high marks on BeerAdvocate for both its food and beer selections.

We walked in and were seated right away in this welcoming brewpub. The walls were brightly covered with paintings for sale, and there were board games behind us if we wanted to play while we waited.

We immediately decided we would try the six beer sampler where we could choose any six of their selections for $10.50. We went with the Java Porter, Blackberry Wheat, Colorado Kind Ale, FYIPA, the Ginger Beer, and the Stout. They were all great but I think our favorites were the ginger, the porter, and the blackberry wheat.

Six beer sampler

We started our meal with a cup of their vegetarian black bean chili. It came with a side of corn chips and was not only delicious but also priced at a fantastic $2.95.

From there, we each tried one of their daily specials. I ordered the Beet Lover’s Salad, which came with roasted beets, fresh farm greens, Bermuda onions, and a goat cheese sauce. I added beer-baked tempeh to the salad, something I had only tried once before and was curious to have again. I wasn’t steered wrong, as it was a great, nutty addition to a nice summer salad. I’m a sucker for beets and goat cheese together, and this was filling but not overly heavy for a lunchtime meal.

Beet Lover's Salad

Brett got the Mountain Mi, a spin on a traditional banh mi sandwich. It featured marinated chicken breast, pickled carrots, dikon radish, sliced cucumbers, fresh jalapenos, cilantro, Thai basil, mint and sriracha mayonnaise, all served on ciabbatta bread. He clearly loved the sandwich after clearing his plate, and has been on a banh mi kick since.

At one point a server came by and thought we had ordered a separate order of fries. We said we didn’t since Brett’s sandwich came with them, but he just left them anyway with us and didn’t charge for them. We certainly lucked out there since these were fresh-cut fries and highly addictive.

Mountain Mi

We really loved this place, and not just for the food and beer but also for the great atmosphere, friendly people, and pleasant service. You could tell that this is a perfect venue in a college town, and we lamented that there wasn’t something even remotely close to this in College Park when we went there.

We would definitely recommend Mountain Sun to anyone who happens to be in Boulder. Considering that there was a line for a table way past the lunch hour, this was clearly one of the city’s top local hangouts.

Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery on Urbanspoon