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On my final day in Chicago a few months back I was able to stop by Big & Little’s Restaurant. This place was on Tripple D and I have been wanting to eat their food ever since. Big & Little’s is a interesting blend of a corner burger place and a high end bistro. I was extremely excited to try what they had to offer. When I arrived a only had to wait in line for a short time but that was only because I missed the rush. Only a few minutes later and I would have been in the line out the door so lucky me. I was also lucky that I had some cash on me since they do not take cards. I ordered right from the dishes on the show, I mean who could pass up on pork belly and foie gras?
I only had to wait a few minutes for my food to arrive and I used that time to charge my dying phone. Soon I was sitting in front of two awesome looking dishes. First on the menu was a pork belly po-boy. Overflowing on a bun were over a dozen pieces of pork belly perfectly cooked, fatty, and gloriously greasy. Each bite of pork was unbelievably flavorful and paired extremely well with the crunchy pickles. The lettuce below the pickles was also a good addition. Since the pork belly was decadent, as expected, the crisp lettuce helped to cut through the richness and allowed me to keep eating. Lastly, the bread was chewy and tied the entire sandwich together in a nice package. I think the best thing of this sandwich and the next dish was how generous they were with the expensive ingredients. With a pork belly po-boy I think I would have been happy with half the amount of pork they gave me but I’ll never turn down more.
Now if the richness of a pork belly po-boy was not enough, the next dish put me over the edge. I was literally sweating when I finished but it was so worth it to try the foie gras french fries. There were really only two ingredients in this dish but what a combo! Who would have thought that you could pair the decadence of goose liver with the humbleness of fried potatoes. Definitely a knife and fork kind of side dish. Basically, though the foie gras was served in large pieces, it made sense to smooth it out into some sort of a condiment for the fries. Ketchup just didn’t seem appropriate. The look of it after doing that was not picture worthy but it surely made the fries delicious! This was my second foray into foie gras and definitely a much better experience.
Big & Little’s Restaurant is an unassuming little place with some big bold flavors. One of my all time favorite meals and no service or ambiance to bump up the experience. They rest on their flavors and that is definitely not a bad thing. I was more than happy to spend upwards of $30 for my meal of rich and decadent items paired with street food favorites. I would stop by again without hesitation and try their other po-boys. The oyster po-boy especially. Next time you are in Chicago or if you are there right now run to Big & Little’s, you won’t be disappointed!
Overall Review: 9/10
Take a look at the Big menu for their Little place here
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On the way back to Chicago from a wedding my friends Renee, Gavin, and I stopped by Kopp’s to grap some burgers and frozen custard. Kopp’s is mostly a fast food place with upscale custard. When we arrived I was super excited to see that one of the specials was grasshopper fudge custard! We ordered our food and, once we received it, took up residence on a bench around the corner of the restaurant. I first ate the burger which was pretty good. It was a relatively standard with a thin patty with thick cut vegetables and a chewy bun. It tasted good but it was not the reason I came to Kopp’s.
After finishing the burger I dove into the custard. Grasshopper Fudge is everything I like in ice cream. Mint and chocolate custard with fudge swirled into the mix. This was the first time I ever had frozen custard and it will not be the last. The custard was an interesting combination thick and creamy. I could take the cup, turn it upside down, and the custard did not move at all. Yet when I took a bite it was probably the smoothest dessert I had aside from pudding. The mint sang through and balanced extremely well with the chocolate. Each spoonful also brought a little fudge to the table which added to the richness of the entire cup. I polished off my cup of custard without any hesitation and could have gone back for more.
I am glad that I finally made it to Kopp’s, the custard was everything it was made out to be. The burger was good but definitely not the star of the show. I imagine that is why it is not called Kopp’s Burgers and Custard. Next time you are in Wisconsin you should swing by and hope they have grasshopper fudge on the menu. You will not be disappointed!
Overall Review: 7/10
Check out all of Kopp’s custard options here
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After competing in the Hero Rush and knowing that I was moving away from LA in a few weeks, I decided to finally take the time to drive into the city and wait around until I could eat at this truck. I was not disappointed. I was able to time it just right and parked 2 blocks away only a few minutes before the truck opened it’s doors. This proved to be a very good thing because it the time it took me to order and get my food the line quadrupled. Since I had just run a race I figured that I could spoil myself and order both a dinner sandwich and a dessert sandwich…and some tater tots.
I only had to wait about 10 minutes for my food which is not a bad wait at all. I proceeded to take the food over to my car and made a spread in the trunk. It took me a few years to finally get to this point and I had been hearing about these grilled sandwiches for a long time and therefore I wasted no time before digging in to sandwich number one.
The most well known grilled cheese offered by the Grilled Cheese Truck is the Cheesy Mac and Rib on basic white bread. This sandwich combined some of my favorite things; cheese, grilled onions, succulent pulled pork, and mac n cheese. With those ingredients you really can’t go wrong as long as the bread gets nice and crispy. While the crispy cheese on the outside of the grilled cheese from the Bacon Mania truck was incredible, it was the ingredients on the inside of this sandwich that stole the show. The onions were grilled to perfection and the pulled pork just melted in your mouth. Adding in the macaroni was brilliant because it help the bread maintain some texture inside the sandwich. Cheese, savory, and succulent, this sandwich was all they said it would be. In addition, the bread was grilled just right, nice a brown and a little burnt on the edges. Just how I like it. Definitely one of the best to date.
Next I moved on to the S’more melt, another one of my favorite things. This time sandwiched between two pieces of white bread were toasted marshmallows, graham cracker crumbles, and instead of chocolate, Nutella. While this dessert melt was good, it couldn’t compare to the Mac and Rib that came first. You definitely could get the different flavors from inside and the hazelnut from the Nutella added a bit of depth to the flavor. It is possible that I may start making S’mores with it from now on. It will be easier to heat up than regular chocolate bars. I think that my main complaint about this sandwich was that there did not seem to be enough filling on the inside so the grilled bread overwhelmed the rest of the ingredients. I frequently pontificate about the need for bread and filling balance and while the Mac and Rib struck that balance the S’mores melt surly did not. Additionally the combination of bread and graham crackers made the melt somewhat dry. On my next visit I will try the Mom’s Apple Pie instead. The apples may and walnuts may stand up to the bread a bit more.
Overall this was a very good trip to LA and the Grilled Cheese Truck surely lived up to the hype. The Cheesy Mac and Rib was one of the best sandwiches I have had, grilled cheese or not. The addition of the macaroni and pork made pushed it from ordinary to extraordinary. Next time we are in Los Angeles and the truck is around, I will be back to try some of their other offerings.
Overall Review: 8/10
Take a look and their cheesy menu and travel stops here
While in Pittsburgh for a family wedding we managed to swing by the original Primanti Bros which was a stop by Adam Richman on Man vs Food. This place is known for it’s sandwiches stuffed with french fries and coleslaw just like the fat sandwiches from my college days. It is not known for it’s ambiance, so let’s get that out of the way and talk about the food. Primanti Bros has grown into a chain but I imagine all the stores look similar. It is a wood table and chair place with a nice old school looking bar. The menu is plastered all over the walls and you can only pay with cash. We grabbed a seat in the second section of the restaurant and waited to place our order.
After a few minutes our waiter came by and we ordered. I decided to check out their #2 best seller, the Pitts-Burgher Cheese Steak, and a cup of their almost famous chili. Everything came out together and ready to eat. The chili was a seriously tomato based with a smattering of beans and meat throughout. I love chili and I love tomato soup and in my opinion this was a very good tomato soup. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good soup but in the end I am privy to the texas style chili with heavy amounts of spicy peppers and a lot more meat.
My sandwich was also pretty good, some serious after drinking food. The bread was nice and thick which held up pretty well to the wet slaw and cheese. So here is when I admit my failure to read menus carefully. I thought that this would be a real cheese steak but I neglected to recognized the play on words in the name Pitts-Burgher. Instead of thinly shaved meat I actually got a burger on this sandwich. I was not expecting that and honestly didn’t want it so my review is a little skewed. While the sandwich tasted good I was thrown off by the burger texture with the cole slaw and the non bun bread. The burger was also cooked all the way through which is not to my liking, as I am a rare kind of guy. I found myself wishing I had read more carefully and ordered the pastrami because this sandwich was not for me. Next time we are back in town I will try it again and order the meat I really like and judge it more fairly. I will say though that I have and always will love adding cole slaw and french fries to my sandwiches!
In the end this was a good restaurant with a strong following and I can see why. Cheap and sizable sandwiches for people going on or off shift or stumbling in after a long night of drinking. Pretty much the same reason why the grease trucks at Rutgers do so well but I will take my Fat Darryl over the Pitts-Burgher every time.
Overall Review: 6/10
Find one of the many locations of Primanti Bros here
While in Phoenix for the NASPA conference I decided to try a Man vs Food restaurant with our friends Michelle and Keith. Alice Cooperstown makes no attempt to be anything besides it’s namesake. This is a place that is all about music, beer, and bar food across from a stadium. We arrived and sat outside while we waited to order. I decided to go all out and order the “Adam Richman’s” Bases Loaded Big Unit hot dog. This rediculous hot dog was a 22inch Vienna Beef dog loaded up with their “nightmare” chili, bacon, cheese sauce, sauerkraut, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, relish, cheddar cheese, and a boatload of fries. A short while later the unreasonalby large dish arrived at our table. This is what I was had gotten myself into.
Yes, this hotdog is as insane as it looks, and this is a true foodventure statement. I do not like hot dogs. But for the love of eating and the spirit of the list, I dove right in. I will say that this was a hot dog made with good meat though after 4 bites I was pretty much over it. The toppings were intense, it was really just everything possible piled high on the dog. As you obviously determined this was a knife and fork affair and it took some time. About half way through I hit something I had never hit before, the dreaded food wall. It was time to buckle down and make this happen. It took everything I had to go bite by bite but with the cheers of Keith and Michelle, I reached my final bites. After what I would say was a half hour I downed the final bite and stood up victorious!
Our time at Alice Cooperstown was fun and stomach busting but not necessarily a place I would frequent if I lived in Phoenix. Michelle, Virginia, and Keith said that their food wasn’t bad either. I was so full yet everything I ate was beyond greasy so I needed to balance things out. To the victor go the spoils!
P.S – I ran 12 miles the next morning so all was well with my waistline.
Overall Review: 5/10
Check out Alice Cooperstown and their “Big Unit” here
I’m finally starting to post after almost a month away and it is time to catch up with reviews from the NASPA conference in Phoenix. I traveled to Phoenix only a few days away from the LA marathon in March and was determined to start carbo loading early. My first stop was Matt’s Big Breakfast, a place I had patroned back in 2010. That time I ordered the item that Guy tried on triple D and it was really good. He ordered the chop and the chick which was a pork chop and two fried eggs. It was delicious, with a great pesto topping, I only wished I could have had more pesto but they may have given it to me if I had asked.
The restaurant is small usually with a 10 minute wait even for one person. I didn’t mind and hung out with the locals for a little bit before I was able to sit at the bar. The decor and ambiance is not much different than most other small breakfast spots but it is clean and welcoming. The staff was nice and took my order quickly and it was only a short while before my order of the hog and the chick was in front of me. Placed at my spot of the counter was beautifully cooked think cut peppered bacon, crispy hashbrowns, and two perfectly cooked over medium eggs. Everything on the plate was cooked really well and was a perfect breakfast. The eggs were right under medium which is where I like them and the hashbrowns were crunchy and crispy on the outside while still creamy on the inside. Somewhat like a potato latke, just without all the onion. By far the star on the plate was the think cut bacon. Sometimes when a restaurant says that the bacon is think cut it really isn’t and other times it is so thick that it comes out uncooked. Matt’s got it just right and peppered right to the edge of too much. Just where I like it. I could have eaten platefuls of this stuff, if only they were in LA at the end of the marathon.
The last thing in my order was the real reason I returned to Matt’s. Each breakfast arrives with a side of bread of which you have a few options. Bread aside, the start was the strawberry jam they served on the side. The jam is without a doubt the best thing in the restaurant. It is super sweet with chunks of fruit inside. It has so much flavor in such a simple concoction, I could eat a jar of it. Too bad they only give you about two ounces. I wonder if they bottle and sell it because I would buy.
All in all Matt’s Big Breakfast is a really solid breakfast joint in downtown Phoenix. No wonder it always has a wait. The peppered bacon was delicious and the rest of the meal was nothing to scoff at but, in the end, I would come here every time I visit Phoenix just for the strawberry jam. Check out Matt’s Big Breakfast the next time you are in town and let me know what you think.
Overall Review: 7/10
Check out Matt’s Big Breakfast and their peppered bacon here
Take a look at my first Spago review here
After my first review of Spago, the general manager called me and asked for us to come back for another chance. We decided to give it another try especially when they sent me a $150 gift certificate in the mail. Now, I understand that they were really focused on us during the meal and some of the extras were unique to this one experience but overall it was a much improved night.
Our waiter, which was the biggest issue last time, was awesome. Ben was very attentive, explained everything very well, and checked up on us regularly. We didn’t want for anything the entire night. During the meal I paid attention to our waiter with other tables and somehow even though he was slammed, each table received just as much attention as we did. The ambiance was great and since we sat outside there was no issue with temperature. The music also seemed like it was selected just for me; I swear that I heard 75% of the music on my Pandora that day. It was a beautiful night and one worthy of our last meal in LA before moving away.
Within five minutes of our arrival the manager was out with champagne welcoming us back to Spago, what a nice touch. We were waiting for menus but he told us that before they allowed us to order he had a few surprises in store. Little did I know that it would be an hour before we actually ordered. First he brought out ahi tuna wrapped in a cone with sesame seeds. Delicious! Next, he brought us a blini (Mini savory pancake) with creme fraishe, smoked salmon, an salmon roe. Sometimes I am thankful that Virginia doesn’t eat seafood because this was awesome. It tasted like Judaism on a plate! The last bite he brought out was by far the best. It was a bacon, yes bacon confit inside a savory puff pastry. Too bad Virginia eats bacon, I could have eaten dozens of those. It was an explosion of bacon flavor in a tiny individual bite.
After about an hour we ordered and just like the last time our food was amazing, but that is not surprising for a Michelin star restaurant. The menu had changed completely since the last time and the new options were incredible. As an appetizer I ordered the Maryland crab cake which was one of the best I’ve ever had. And I’ve had crab cakes in Maryland. The presentation was masterful with what tasted like basil puree (But maybe pea) in tiny balls along the edge of the plate and a small salad on top of the cake. The star of this dish was the crab, as it should be. There was almost no filler, just enough to keep it together and that was great. Surprisingly, what made it so good was the spice. The crab cake was spicy! The saddest part of this dish was that I only got one but I definitely needed to save room for the rest of the meal. As a side note, Virginia ordered the agnolotti appetizer and the manager took the liberty of shaving summer truffles on top at no charge. I was worried because Virginia hates mushrooms but these truffles were light and she loved them!
For dinner I ordered the Cantonese style roasted duck with lo-mien noodles and Shiitake mushrooms. It was beyond ridiculous. The waiter told me that Wolfgang himself orders this dish when he eats at Spago and I see why. The duck was beautifully cooked and super crispy and the 5-spice rub made the flavors pop. Paired as the main contributor to the sauce were mandarin oranges. Sweet and cooked down well they transported me to a traditional but elevated Chinese restaurant. You wouldn’t think that this dish would be presented at Spago but it definitely was. The entree was so good that I could resist picking up the legs to get every little morsel off the bone. I’m sure I embarrassed Virginia but it was worth it. The lo-mien on the side was just as good but nothing could compare to what was on the main plate. Sorry noodles.
For dessert I ordered a raspberry souffle with raspberry ice cream and chocolate sauce. This was possibly the best souffle I have ever eaten. It was cooked perfectly, I don’t think it would have collapsed if I just stared at it for an hour but I could not resist. I dug in and took my first bite. It was so rich and sweet from the chocolate but the tartness of the raspberries surely shined through. For an additional chocolate note they served a sauce to be poured on top. Ben warned me not to pour it all in but I’m rebellious and ignored him. I am so glad I did. The sauce was unbelievable, thick, chocolaty, and sweet it added a whole other level to the souffle. And when it became too rich, you could go in for some raspberry sorbet and cold whole raspberries. Despite the massive amount of food I had eaten I almost licked the plate clean. If I was at home or alone, I probably would have licked it but alas Virginia makes me act like an adult. Sadly, I did not get a good picture because it was dark out but you get the idea.
Overall a much better experience that the first trip and though we can not get back the night after my first marathon, this went a long way towards making up for it. Based on this night I would go back when we are in town. It didn’t hurt that though we ate so much, with the comped items and the gift certificate our final bill was only $73 and our bottle of wine cost $50. Not a bad cost for a five star meal. Something else really cool that I appreciate about Spago is that their menu changes constantly so every time you go you can have a completely different eating experience. For some restaurants this wont work but Spago puts effort into the menu changes and it shows. While this trip to Spago was without a doubt a 10/10, my final rating reflects an average of my two dinners
Overall Rating: 8/10
Check out their ever changing menu here
Virginia and I headed in to Los Angeles to pick up some skirt steaks from the farmer’s market and swung by Father’s Office for the office burger among other things. Father’s Office is a gastropub that is extremely busy for dinner and since you have to seat yourself and order at the bar, it was a good thing we came for lunch. From what I understand it is a battle for seats and food in the evenings. This would be a nice hangout if it wasn’t so pricy and in LA. The layout is clean and modern with a lot of space both inside and out. We grabbed some menus took a look and ordered some food. I also ordered a tasty craft beer from their enormous selection of mid to ridiculously expensive varieties.
Our appetizers came out first, sweet potato fries with a garlic and blue cheese aioli and some fancy bone marrow. The fries were dusted with salt and some herbs; a smart move meant to connect the sweetness of the fries with the savory notes in the aioli. The fries were cooked well albeit a little greasy but this was the first time I enjoyed dipping sweet potatoes into a non sweet condiment. I also liked the way they were served. It looked like the fry basket they were cooked in, very clever.
Next, I moved on to my roasted bone marrow. The dish was two pieces of bone with a few toast points on top of a parsley salad. On the side was a small pile of sel gris (grey sea salt) meant to add onto the marrow once it was out of the bone. This was a tasty appetizer, well roasted marrow and perfectly toasted bread. The salad was a throw away and I believe just meant for color but the salt did draw out the richness of the marrow. My comment on this dish is that for the price I would have liked the bones sawed in half. I don’t particularly like digging inside bone at a restaurant, if they had cut the bone lengthwise after roasting it would have looked nicer and would have been easier to scoop out onto the toast. A successful dish but not for the feint of heart because marrow has both a unique texture and a strong beef flavor. You have to be a true carnivore to enjoy marrow, good thing I am.
As we finished up out appetizers my burger arrived. The highly talked about Office Burger. This burger was some non nondescript meat on a bun with some unique toppings. It was the toppings that made the burger but at least the meat wasn’t a cheap base. I go on rants from time to time about using good meat for burgers and hot dogs so I am glad they didn’t choose to skimp on the beef. The toppings were inventive and all things that I like. Caramelized onions for sweetness, bacon for, well, bacon. Two kind of cheese, Maytag blue and Gruyere. The cheese was what made this burger special. Both added saltiness to the burger but then diverged a bit. The blue cheese was sharp and crumbly while the Gruyere was a little sweet and creamy. Combined they created a depth of flavor that made the burger memorable. The last topping and the smartest was the addition of arugula. This bold, mustardy, peppery green cut through all the rich flavors on the burger and allowed you too keep coming back for more. Any other green would not have stood up to the cheese, onions, and bacon. Smart move by the chef. All in all this was a solid burger and well worth the $12 price tag.
While I would not go out of my way to come back, Father’s Office is a good local haunt and one I would frequent if I lived in the area. Solid food and solid beer but a tad overpriced. I wonder what it really looks like on a Saturday night but since I don’t deal well in a packed environment, I will just take other people’s word for it.
Overall Review: 7/10
Check out their menu and beer options here p.s their website is somewhat annoying
After cleaning up and changing after the LA Marathon we headed over to Spago for a post race dinner adventure. We arrived a few minutes early and had to wait in the corner until it was time to seat us. This was a very nice restaurant with an open kitchen and some nice art. They had some issues with the temperature during our meal so it was either freezing or burning hot which was strange for such an expensive restaurant. After about fifteen minutes we were at our table and ready to eat.
I’m going to try not to make comparisons to Scarpetta because they are different genres of food but I will do it for the service. While Scarpetta was expensive they created an experience through their service that allowed you to forget the prices of the food. Spago was the complete opposite. Maybe they could smell the middle class on us but I felt out of place and completely unwelcome throughout the entire meal. When we walked in we were barely acknowledged while “regulars” got a grand welcome. We were sent to a table with two chairs so I had to stand, no one came over to help us all sit together let alone ask if we wanted drinks. I was even wearing my marathon finishers medal and not one person even looked at me let alone acknowledge the marathon. Our waiter seemed disinterested in us and we waited a while to order because they served the people they knew first. The person who paid the most attention to us was the bread guy so I am thankful for that at least. With such a cold and uncaring service it was hard to appreciate the food that we ate. At Scarpetta we didn’t want to leave but at Spago all I could think about was how late it would be when we got home. Kind of sad for what would end up being a $300 meal.
We ordered our food and then experienced the weirdest bread service. They had a guy whose sole job was to serve us bread one piece at a time. After each finished piece he would come back with his tray of bread and serve you another of your choosing. I’m not sure I understand that but whatever the strange part was that while the bread was served fancy it was in no way fancy itself. In addition the butter may as well have been supermarket brand. It was not spruced up in any way and did not seem to fit with the way the bread was served. Anyway, I ate like eight pieces of bread so I made our guy earn his paycheck that night.
After a little while and in a dining room that had become twenty degrees hotter since we arrived, our appetizers appeared. I ordered the risotto with Maine lobster, stone crab, lemon, garlic, and basil. This was a very well done risotto, creamy and full of flavor. The lobster and crab were cooked to perfection and made the dish extremely rich. While you would think creamy seafood risotto would be very heavy the lemon and herbs kept it tasting fresh and light. This was a very good combination of flavors and a well thought out dish. I polished it off pretty quickly partly because it was delicious and partly because I was really hungry from the race.
Next came the entrees accompanied by intense cold now that they turned on the air conditioning. My dish was the seared Maine diver scallops. Now this entree was inspired, I have to give props where they are due. First of all, they gave me four full scallops which made me feel OK about the $39 price tag. Usually for that price and for diver scallops, you would get two, maybe three, so the size of this entree made me happy.
The presentation was gorgeous and obviously prepared with a deft hand. Layered on top of whole peas, a pea puree, and a balsamic reduction, these scallops were perfectly seared and delicious. The most impressive part of the whole dish was the foam lying on top of the scallops themselves. While it did not add a huge amount of discernible flavor to the dish it just looked so cool on top and as you can see made the picture frame worthy. Mixed together the flavor profile was unique and made me want to come back for each bite until only sauce and some greens were left. The peas, in my opinion, were what made this dish. Whole and pureed they tied everything together and added a fresh taste to the seafood. Just like the cauliflower they day before, these peas were the shocking superstar of the night. No what I would have thought with diver scallops on top but a reality nonetheless. The sad thing is that the menu changed since we ate at Spago so the scallop recipe calls for a different supporting cast so this may have been the one and only time I ate this dish. Sad but better than never getting it at all.
Though I was pretty full my list item was dessert so I had to press on. Kaiserschmarren is impossible to pronounce and was Wolfgang Pucks favorite as a child. That is why it is on the menu at a restaurant next to deconstructed this and foam that. I am not a huge dessert or pancake fan and this was a combo of the two but surprisingly enough I liked the Kaiserschmarren.With a chunky strawberry sauce on the bottom, the pancake looking dessert was anything but. The outside was fried, fluffy, and soft but when you got inside you discover what makes it a great dessert. The recipe calls for creme fraiche in the batter and then a soft meringue mixed in. This made the inside of the cakes, complete mush in a very good way. Impressively sweet, right on the edge of too much this was a great dish and a perfect way to end the meal. Mixed with the strawberries it really felt like breakfast but so much better. I would order this again and with the recipe, I can try to make it at home.
I am really torn with my review of Spago. The food was very good and I really can’t complain about the meal but the service was pretentious and somewhat upsetting. If I am going to come to a fancy restaurant I expect to be treated like their favorite customer every time. I just did not get that feeling in any way at Spago, to be honest I felt like they did not want us there from the start. With that coupled by the weird bread service, the disengagement from our waiter, and the huge temperature shifts, I cannot give Spago a great rating because it just was not fun. Eating out should be an experience, if I wanted to shovel in food and go home I would go get fast food at a drive through. If I am going to spend my entire month’s food budget on one meal, I expect to be treated like I belong to be in the room. It is for this reason that I won’t be back even though the food was undeniably delicious. Thankfully I won’t miss the sea scallops because the menu has already changed.
Overall Rating: 5/10
You can find the ever changing Spago menu here
Virginia and I went to Slater’s 50/50 a while back and though it was my second time there, I had yet to write a review. With two trips that were both awesome, I felt like it was time. Slater’s is a bacon lovers paradise no question, but it also has a lot of other things to offer. It is a bar and grill and it is huge so the wait time is not terrible and they have a huge selection of beer. Almost a selection as large as Yardhouse but with ten times better food. They also have Delerium Tremens which is one of my favorite beers which I first tasted at a sampling at BGSU.
After a ten minute wait, which was not so bad on a football weekend, we sat down and got to ordering. The first thing I went for was a bacon bloody mary, it was brunch time so I felt like this was appropriate. I love bloody marys and was excited by the addition of bacon. It arrived after a few minutes and did not disappoint. They had put together a nice combination of spirits (Bacon infused vodka), bloody mary mix, and spice. It had a good balance of flavor and a perfectly coated rim with bacon salt. The great treat at the end was the slice of thick cut bacon in the drink. A fun bite after a few sips of the drink that still had a hint of bloody mary on the back end. This was a nice start to a meal that would make me want to go for a very long run.
Next on the agenda was appetizers. I knew what to order from the first time around and did not hesitate to go for the sweet potato fries with their ridiculously awesome pumpkin aioli. I can not say enough about this aioli, it is by far the best dipping sauce I have ever seen paired with sweet potato fries. Honestly, you could put this on a shoe and I would eat it. It is that good. The sweetness is just right with what I think is brown sugar and the pumpkin flavor definitely shines through. Both times, I ended up digging out the last bits with my finger despite the awkward and dirty looks from my friends and Virginia respectively. It would just be unacceptable to leave even one drop in that small container. The fries, though cooked perfectly, were just support staff for the sauce. If you don’t order these, you should and will regret that choice. One other awesome appetizer to try would be the vampire dip, aptly named for the intense garlic flavor with the cheese and artichokes. Served in a bread bowl and paired with toasted pita chips you can’t go wrong with that choice either.
At Slater’s their namesake is the 50/50 burger. A bacon lovers dream, 50% ground beef and 50% ground mixed together into a marvelous patty. Once you hear what it is, you think what a simple idea why isn’t everyone doing that? I don’t know the answer to that but I do know that Slater’s does and it is glorious. Through their design it menu, you can make a custom burger with dozens of different sauces and toppings including baconaise, thick cut bacon, and vampire dip. My first trip I went that route but this time I went with the list item, the 50/50 burger. This dish has their bacon burger, topped with a sunny side up egg, avocado mash, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo, all on a huge and fluffy brioche bun. Just take a look at the size of this burger, the only thing missing was more bacon!
I cut into it and was super excited to try and figure out how to eat this thing. The egg was a little overcooked as you can see, I wish it was a little runny but oh well. All that pink you see in the burger is bacon, delicious bacon. Super flavorful and with a great balance between the bacon and beef in the patty. This made me very happy because you know by my older posts, a burger is only as good as the patty it is built upon. You can’t mask a bad patty, you can only compliment it’s flavor. Slater’s did this very well with the toppings they added. The egg gave it a bit of richness which was perfect for a brunch meal. The avocado mash was good and I liked that fact that it was a mash since I always have issues keeping avocado slices on the burger. The chipotle mayo added a nice kick to the burger which I always like paired with the flavor of eggs. They also made a great choice adding a flavorful cheese to this combination, pepper jack really held up against all the other flavors and brought a great taste to the party. Lastly, the bun was a perfect choice, thick and fluffy, and as you can see, a great size as compared to the patty itself. All together this burger was well thought out and one that I would order again and insist on a medium egg no matter how many times it takes them to get it right.
The last thing I ordered was dessert. Did I need it, absolutely not but who can resist a maple vanilla bacon milkshake! I ordered this the first time I visited Slater’s and I will say that it was much better the first time. That time the milkshake to bacon ration was much more reasonable and though this is the only time you will have see me write this, the second time there was way to much bacon. Why do I say this you ask? Because it is a milkshake so you need to be able to drink it with a straw. There was so much bacon in this that I had a very hard time eating it without a spoon, the straw kept getting clogged. Also, the milkshake part was gone quickly leaving me with half a cup of ground up bacon. For dessert it was not all that appetizing to eat spoonfuls of chewy wet bacon so I quit pretty quickly. I would recommend that they dial back the bacon and make it a supporting character to the vanilla maple milkshake itself.
Slater’s is a really fun place to visit and an awesome bar and grill to watch a ton of sports. I only wish they had one in Riverside so I wouldn’t have to drive forty minutes to get my bacon fix. I would recommend this place to anyone bacon lover or not. It is also a great place to go after spending a long day with your kids at Disney which is right down the street.
Overall Review: 8/10
Check out Slater’s bacon heavy menu here