Sunday, May 02, 2010

Bub's Burgers

This past Friday we took ourselves out to visit a place new to us, Bub's Burgers and Ice Cream in Carmel, Indiana. It's located in the heart of downtown Carmel, right along the Monon Trail. When we arrived the place was already busy and we had a wait of about 25 minutes, (a bit longer than we'd usually put up with). Being as we wanted to try the new place we sat down and enjoyed the view of all the people passing by.
After our wait was up we were seated inside the restaurant and ordered our food. I wanted to try their 1/4 lb. elk burger and I split a large order of onion rings with the kids. My wife had the same. I also ordered sweet tea which turned out to be a mistake. The food arrived in a decent time and was served on tin pans. Every burger comes with lettuce, tomato and onion on the side and the bun is buttered and grilled. I like that. Condiments are on the table. If you want sides, those are extra.

My medium rare elk burger was good and cooked just as I had ordered it. Tasty, with a nice char grilled flavour from the flames. Definitely one of the better burgers I've had in a while. The onion rings were a tad greasy, but tasted pretty good. I'm not the biggest fan of beer battered anything, but these rings weren't shabby. The kids certainly liked them well enough. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for their sweet iced tea. Whoever made that was afraid of using too much sugar so they erred on the side of too little. Next time I'll either bring my own sugar or order something else. All in all it was a good experience where the food was concerned.

One drawback to the inside dining area is that it is quite noisy. Be prepared for that. It's difficult to talk with people at your table without raising your voice and is pretty hard to hear any responses. If you can get past that (or eat outside) you'll likely enjoy your meal, I did and we'll likely return at some point in the future.

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

T-Balls Strikes Out

I love a good hot dog, so it was no surprise that I decided to take the kids out to visit T-Balls Hot Dogs in Noblesville for a hot dog dinner. I had heard a couple of folks say that their dogs were pretty good, so off we went. The kids got standard dogs with their usual condiments and fries. I decided to go with a chili cheese dog with onions to get a real feel for what T-Balls could do. I also chose a tamale from their appetiser menu and a sweet tea.
The dog did manage to tell me a great deal about T-Balls. It told me that they were very fond of food service canned goods and tasteless hot dogs. My chili cheese dog was unremarkable. A Vienna Beef hot dog that had been around for awhile. No snap and very little flavour. The chili was a non-remarkable canned hot dog chili with very little taste and no spice to speak of. The cheese...well, the cheese was a glob of canned cheese food product that covered the chili and added nothing to the experience but a mess.
I tried a few of the kids fries while I was at it and they were also unremarkable. Crunchy, but lacking much in the way of flavour. Typical frozen fries.
All in all I was really disappointed in T-Balls dogs and it is unlikely that we will return there. Too much of the experience rested on canned food service grade ingredients with no real quality in the equation. It's sad. I was expecting an experience at least as good as your standard cart dog and we received far less than that.

(Update: T-Balls is now out of business. Can't say I'm surprised.)

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Saying Goodbye To The Last Cannery

Tomorrow is the last day for the people who work at the Stinson Seafood Plant in Maine. The last sardine cannery in the country is being shut down for good by their owners. No more will people see the venerable Beach Cliff's sardine can in their grocers aisles and, if they do, the sardines will be sourced from other countries. A sad day indeed. Myself, I like to indulge in a nice sardine snack, now and again. I have fond memories of sharing them with my grandfather. A tin of sardines and a handful of saltines was all we needed to make an impromptu lunch. These days I tend to gravitate more towards smoked herring, than sardines and I guess that's one of the problems. Americans appetites have changed over the decades. We've moved away from the sardine and moved towards tuna and, perhaps, herring and other fish and abandoned that old staple, the sardine.

I sure will miss those Beach Cliff sardines and will likely go out tomorrow and buy a small stock of them to tide me over till I find a suitable replacement. It won't be Chinese sardines, that's for sure. Hopefully, Canada and Morocco will pick up the slack. In the meantime, I'll keep all those folks in Maine in my thoughts as they see their livelihood and local industry go to the grave.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Toasty Event

OK. It's not really toasty, more a "grilly" event that will be held in Los Angeles April 25th.
The 1st 7th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational will be held in downtown Los Angeles this year, organizers said Monday.

The cheese-lovers' Mecca will be held at Los Angeles State Historic Park (map) on Saturday, April 25.

The Grilled Cheese Invitational "is the largest, craziest, and most exciting grilled cheese cooking contest in the country and is the best thing to happen to sliced cheese since sliced bread," according to the event's website.

Doors open at noon, and admission is only $5.

However, if you think you got the chops to make a top-shelf grilled cheese, the competition fee is $10. The cook-off goes from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Competitors can register at grilledcheeseinvitational.com.
An event like this could almost make me want to go out to California to attend or compete. Almost. It sounds like a load of tasty fun! I can't help but wonder if we couldn't organise a like event in my area? Mmmm...grilled cheese.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Parting Shot

It looks like now ex-President George Bush gave a parting shot at the EU and American foodies. He increased the tariff on Roquefort cheese by 300%. That's rough. And it's a decision that will probably be allowed to stand by the incoming Obama regime.

ROQUEFORT, France (AFP) — People in the southern French district of Lozeyron are having a hard time swallowing US President George W. Bush's parting gift:a tripling to 300 percent in import duty on their world-famous Roquefort cheese.

"Tonnes of produce are going to go up in smoke," protested one of the seven local producers of the distinctive soft blue cheese. It was a hammer blow to the local region, he said.

The swingeing tariff increase, part of a longstanding trade row between the United States and the European Union, has effectively priced them out of the US market, say producers.

"The aim of the Americans is that there is not a gram of Roquefort sold in the United States," said Philippe le Guen, who handles sales at Papillon, one of the best-known brands of the cheese.

His mark alone accounts for nearly 10 percent of total production, exporting 50 tonnes of Roquefort to the United States of a total 1,700 tonnes produced.

And with the world economy in trouble this latest US move has raised the spectre of a trade war.

As a fan of Roquefort cheese I must say that I am dismayed by this blatant attack on the free market and free trade. I guess I'll just venture out and get a taste of the current stocks before they run out. It's a sad day in Foodville.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Eatin' Bad In The Neighbourhood

As my wife is wont to point out, "There are times when you have to eat at a restaurant just to remind yourself of why you don't eat there". This has never been proven more true than during the return journey from our recent vacation to the Outer Banks. We pulled off the road reasonably early in order to secure a nice room and relax after a long day of traveling and chose Beckley, West Virginia as our stopping point. We acquired our room and then went in search of dinner. Now, Beckley doesn't really have much to offer in the way of fine dining, or even mediocre dining for that matter. What they do have are lots of "off ramp" restaurants, like Outback, Cracker Barrel, Chili's and Applebee's. Unfortunately, we chose Applebee's, a place we had not graced with our presence in well over a decade.

Now, for those of you who have failed to see the many commercials for Applebee's, I'll clue you in on what they are doing. Currently, they are offering a menu based around the cuisine of celebrity Chef Tyler Florence. I imagine this is a lucrative side business for Chef Tyler. Unfortunately, the recipes leave a great deal to be desired. My wife and I both had "Tyler's New Yorker"- "A juicy strip steak with garlic butter and thick steakhouse-style onion rings served with a Hearts of Romaine appetizer salad."

We should have known what we were in for when the service started going bad and our waitron disappeared. After an interminable wait and multiple excuses our "food" did finally arrive and I wasn't overly impressed, to say the least. The salad was mediocre, at best. (Hint: Croutons should be crunchy, not hard.) Then came the moment of truth . The Select grade New York Strip Steaks arrived. While they were cooked close to the requested degree of doneness, the "aroma" which wafted from the food was a precursor of the horror to come.

The onion rings were not the best I have had by a long shot. They actually had a hard crust, rather than a crispy exterior. And having only 3 of them was a sure sign of stinginess on the part of the restaurant. The steak was slathered with a ball of "garlic butter" that managed to do to that steak what should never be done to meat. It changed the flavour completely from grilled beef to something that approximated a garlic sausage. The steaks literally tasted like a sausage. It was disgusting, to say the least. They were not finished, as they were nigh on inedible. I would be ashamed to serve such a dish to someone.

Applebee's and Chef Florence are pushing the envelope...of inedibility and bad service. Tyler Florence's recipe for a NY Strip steak leaves a great deal to be desired. Taking a mediocre Select grade steak and making it taste like sausage might be a great feat for some, Chef Florence and Applebee's do it with great ease. Frankly, I could have had a better tasting meal if we'd killed a cat and roasted it over a flaming turd. That's just how bad it was.

Perhaps, in another decade we will return to Applebee's to remind ourselves of what we haven't been missing. Then again, as bad as this meal was it's doubtful that the passage of ten years will suffice.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Sam And Omie's - Finest Kind

Just off the main drag in Nag's Head, North Carolina is a small joint called Sam and Omie's. It has a 70 year history in Nag's Head, so the folks there must be doing something right. We stopped in for a quick brunch on our way to Avon, in the Outer Banks and got there just in time for the beginning of lunch. Perfect timing, since it switched us from a breakfast mood to a lunch mode. The waitress was nice and friendly and was right on the spot when we needed her.

As is my usual M.O. when I get to eat out in the OBX I started with a cup of chowder. No disappointments here. That cup was brimming with clams, potatoes, carrot, onion and bacon. The broth was slightly salty, so it needed nothing other than a touch of pepper and it had an nice herbal flavour to it. Pretty yummy stuff and I'll be sure to get it again when I go back.

I treated myself to a combination seafood platter that had fried Shrimp, Scallops, Flounder, Onion Rings and Slaw. The Flounder and Shrimp were excellent and well seasoned. The Scallops were OK. Not great, just OK. A little too moist and the batter coating had no crunch to it. The Cole Slaw was not the best I've had (or made), but it wasn't the worst by any means. Sam and Omie's does have a decent Onion Ring, tho. That goes a long way. Their sauces (Tartar and Cocktail) are a wonder, too and have a nice homemade taste to them. If these are commercial I'd love to know the brand, they taste homemade.

The highlight of the meal was when I got a taste of my wife's Crab Cake. Folks, this may well be the best danged Crab Cake in America. The outside is crisp and the inside is a juicy, crab filled culinary wonder. Every bite is a delightful taste of crab goodness, with little interference from any filler that might be there. It's simply the best Crab Cake I can remember ever eating and I have yet to find another Crab Cake that is its equal. The only drawback to my meal was that their Sweet Tea wasn't quite strong enough or sweet enough for my taste and that's not reason enough to keep me from returning.
We will certainly make Sam and Omie's a stop on our future excursions to the Outer Banks and I highly recommend them to anyone who likes a good Crab Cake.

The rest of the family enjoyed their fare, as well. Club Sandwiches for the kids were a big hit and my wife's Flounder was also well received. Good eats all around!

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