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TIPS: How to cook a Fried Egg!

I am not the best egg cooker.

I’ll just get that out of the way right now.

Continue reading “TIPS: How to cook a Fried Egg!”

$20 OR LESS : MIAMISBURG , Scrambler Marie’s

Sundays.

A day for rest, relaxation, and BRUNCH.

Woke up this morning daydreaming about eggs.

And mimosas.

Lots of mimosas.

There are certainly places in the Miami Valley with mimosas for brunch, but bottomless drinks I have yet to encounter (If you know of a place with bottomless mimosas for Sunday brunch, please let me know!).

But countless places for eggs. And the words appeared in my head like a cloud: “Scrambler Marie’s.”

A view from my table
A view from my table

I still hadn’t been there yet, and decided today was the day.

If you haven’t been yet, it’s in Miamisburg diagonally across the street from Lexis Nexis headquarters in the strip called “The Exchange.”

Situated on the corner of one of the strip mall facets of “The Exchange” next to an Indian food restaurant (Namaste India, a great one I’ll add), and a nail salon, you can’t miss it when you’re driving up 741 towards Austin Landing from the Dayton Mall.

The atmosphere:

The view from my table.
The view from my table.


When you walk in, you’ll immediately notice how bright it is. With windows surrounding the front walls of the restaurant, along with the brightly painted colors of the walls along with artwork lining those walls, its atmosphere is warm and inviting. There are tables of many different sizes all over the restaurant. It made me think of a puzzle, with different sections bound together by an oasis of bright colored planters at the top of these sections. I was seated in the far back corner of the restaurant. I had gotten there in the early afternoon, and I noticed empty tables in my section covered with remnants of what appeared to be families who had eaten there. The waitstaff eventually cleaned those tables up. Pleasant classical music played on the speakers above. The table I sat at was really big (seated 6), and had a cute little plant on it at the end, along with the typical diner accommodations (jelly/salt/pepper/sugar). There were also creamers in a little dish on the table, including french vanilla!

 

What I ate/drank: Regular coffee with French vanilla creamer & a South of the Border omelette (Chorizo sausage, green chilies, onions, salsa & cheese, topped with sour cream and chives), hash browns, biscuit & butter.

Price: 

Coffee – $2.29

South of the Border meal – $8.79

Total plus tax – $11.88

My thoughts:

A few minutes after I sat down, I was quickly greeted by a friendly server who immediately asked if I wanted coffee.

Any place that serves you coffee and water in an individual coffee pot / caraf like this, gets automatic points in my book.

photo 2(1) photo 1(2)Never had to worry about asking for refills during my time there, as you had it right in front of you. The coffee pot gets you about 3.5-4 cups, which is perfect for an individual or for two (I definitely drank my entire coffee pot).

Glancing over the menu, I knew I wanted eggs but couldn’t pinpoint what to get. If this ever happens to you, ask your server what they recommend. I had wanted an omelette, and my server recommended the South of the Border omelette to me. I’m so glad I listened to her.

South of the Border omelette with hash browns & biscuit.  $8.79
South of the Border omelette with hash browns & biscuit.
$8.79

Not too long after I ordered, this beautiful plate came to my table.

Two top criteria for a good omelette in my eyes are the eggs (are they moist/fluffy or flat/dry), and flavor (is it flavorful or bland).

This omelette is what an omelette should be.

The eggs were moist and fluffy, and not too oily/greasy. Each bite was PACKED with flavor, especially when you had the spicy, yet earthy kick of the chorizo sausage. Huge chunks of sausage in each bite, along with the massive, gooey blend of the cheeses on top and in the middle of the omelette.

I was introduced to salsa and eggs several years ago at a Waffle House. My dad and I were taking a road trip from Myrtle Beach, S.C. back to Long Island, and stopped at a Waffle House. I found myself pouring salsa and/or hot sauce on my eggs and grits there, as it was conveniently on the table. I’ve been doing it (for the most part) since.

The big chunks of tomato in the salsa along with the onions and herbs mixed together well with the rest of the flavors. And the sour cream and chives on top of the omelette were like the icing to a cake: magic.

The hash browns at first glance looked similar to those of the homefries at Friendly’s. They were alright, some had a little crisp to them, some didn’t. They weren’t greasy, but I added pepper and ketchup to them for extra flavor.

My biscuit was good, especially with the butter. If you order a biscuit from its “bread pantry” (when you order omelettes you pick something from its “bread pantry” along with a “Scrambler Side”), it comes with a little packet of honey. I opted out of using honey, thought that would be too sweet. It wasn’t super flaky, but for what it’s worth, it was good.

Why you should go:
You need to go for the eggs. Hands down. Fluffy and packed with flavor. You also need to come if you’re a coffee lover and would like your own little pot of coffee to start your day. The atmosphere is relaxed, and you’ll find people of all ages and groups big or small inside this bright, airy establishment. There’s also the option of sitting outside, which I was tempted to do on this nice cool day. It’s a no frills breakfast/brunch/lunch place with good food at good prices. There’s options for your eggs: from omelettes to skillets to “benny’s” (eggs benedict), and if you order a full order of pancakes or waffles it comes on a “bottomless” plate. There’s also a selection of burgers/sandwiches if you’re looking for lunch. With locations not only in the area but in other parts of Ohio, it’s convenient too!

Location/Hours:

Scrambler Marie’s

9600 Springboro Pike (RT 741)
Miamisburg, Ohio 45342
(937) 439-2685

6:30 a.m. to  3 p.m. daily

DAYTON: #grocerystoreobsessionsMay21

I love grocery stores.

I’m fascinated by them.

Ever since I was younger, I’ve always loved to browse the aisles for unique items.

I’ve done this with friends, I’ve done this flying solo (i.e. the 24 hour Wegman’s in Syracuse, and here, the 24 hour Kroger‘s).

As I’ve said before on this blog, for the most part I like to eat cheap, and eat out of convenience.

Sometimes that can get tough when you feel the need to jump on the healthy train.

But I’m on my latest healthy kick, and I’ll tell you, I have found some guilt-free items at the grocery store I am full on OBSESSING over! And if you tried them, I think you would too.

Without further ado, here they are:

1) SKINNYPOP – Ultra Lite White Cheddar flavor

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POPCORN. It’s the movie time staple we all know. But when doused in a ton of movie theater butter (I’m guilty of this, trust me), calories can add up. But this popcorn is a guilt-free gold mine. If you love cheese, this is the popcorn for you. It’s just enough of a cheesy taste to fulfill a craving, but it doesn’t overdo it (and you won’t get orange or white powder on your hands!). According to its website, the ultra lite white cheddar has a serving size of 3.5 cups, which is generous! And at only 160 calories, 9 grams of fat and 95 mg of sodium per serving size , guilt-free is definitely the word. And as it says there’s “no artificial anything,” as well as zero trans fat and a good source of fiber, I say DIG IN and bring this to your movies (or try it as a snack anytime).

2) Green Giant Seasoned Steamers: Brussels Sprouts with Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper

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These are something that if you offered it to me as a kid, I would’ve said no. Brussels sprouts! The ultimate healthy green vegetable that you either like, or pass on. I grew into liking these green morsels in recent years, and came across these frozen ones at Kroger recently. Very easy to make, just microwave and when you open the bag they’re hot, steamy, and perfectly seasoned with the salt and pepper. The serving size is 3/4 cup at 3 grams of fat. The only thing to watch would be the sodium (at 250 mg).  But according to whfoods.com, brussels sprouts have special cholesterol-lowering benefits, and is also a great cancer protector!

3) KIND Bars

photo 1Have you ever had a protein bar? I’ve tried different kinds, from PowerBars to CLIF, and while not all of these are “protein” bars, they’re amazing for breakfast or as a dessert to resist eating sweets (and I’m a chocoholic, I love sweets!). In fact, it says on the bars’ packaging that “A recent study conducted by the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center found that two KIND bars a day can curb appetite and even help prevent weight gain.” The company is all about using ingredients you can actually pronounce, i.e. nuts. But many have nuts in them, so if you don’t like nuts or are allergic, be cautious at the store. There are so many sweet/savory combinations to choose from, but two of my favorites right now are Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants and Dark Chocolate Chili Almond. 

4) Brad’s Raw Crunchy Kale Chips, Vampire Killer flavor:

photo 4Friends, these kale chips are mind-blowing.

Mind-blowing.

So much so that as soon as I finished the first pack I bought a few days ago, I went out and bought another one tonight at Kroger. Right now they’re situated near the vegetable section.

Now you’re probably thinking, Vampire Killer?!What’s up with that!

I’m a huge garlic lover, and that’s exactly what Brad set out to do in this chip, bring out the garlic and cheese with a good crunch.

Here’s what makes up Vampire Killer chips, according to its website:

“Coated with red bell pepper, cashews, sunflower seeds, lemon juice, scallions, chickpea miso, garlic, and Himalayan sea salt, these kale chips may kill vampires, but they liven up your taste buds!”

Its website also points out that all flavors of Brad’s Raw Crunchy Kale is dehydrated, to preserve the nutrients that “enhance digestion and dramatically increase energy levels.”

Woohoo!If you’re looking for something fun to munch and crunch on guilt-free, this is IT. And to give you an idea of the fat content, serving size is 1 ounce, 7 grams of fat and 116 mg of sodium.And Brad’s story on the website is inspiring in itself, please check it out. Brad, if you read this, I give you MAJOR kudos to an awesome chip. —What are your current #grocerystoreobsessions?Comment below or tweet at me, @kathleenhessman!

HAMILTON: WG Kitchen & Bar

Sometimes, you just have to let the restaurant find you.

This was the case for me, today.

On a mission to find another new brunch place to try, I first found myself in downtown Miamisburg. I was walking the streets, looking for this one place, but I ended up not finding it.

But everything happens for a reason.

Walking around, I came across a noticeable line for a little food stand right in the middle of downtown: Hamburger Wagon.

People in line for Hamburger Wagon
People in line for Hamburger Wagon
I thought this was adorable. #HamburgerWagon
I thought this was adorable. #HamburgerWagon

Each time I walked by, the line got bigger, and from what it looked like, these burgers took time to make.

But as much as I thought about trying Hamburger Wagon, my gut was telling me to hold off.

Across the parking lot my car was in, was the beautiful recreation trail I’ve come across many times now since being here: the Great Miami River Trail, which stretches VERY far.

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There was a bridge going across this big river, and a huge hill, and as curiosity struck me, I decided to drive up.

I ended up making my way to route 725. I ended up driving through several towns, including passing through Germantown (not the downtown, but passing through). I then eventually made my way into downtown Middletown, where I decided to get back on I-75 south.

I got off the exit where Cincinnati Children’s Hospital is a landmark, and started driving up route 129  (which is another highway), and came across this beautiful looking shopping plaza in Hamilton.

A restaurant’s name caught my eye, “WG Kitchen & Bar.”

I had this feeling about it, that I needed to check it out, but I at first passed it on the highway. I turned around and came back to it, and lo and behold, what do I see outside the restaurant? This sign.

IMG_0634BRUNCH!

Score.

The atmosphere:  When I walked in, I was greeted by someone in a chef’s outfit, who seated me. As I found out a few minutes later, that guy wasn’t actually supposed to seat me (and the host and I giggled), but it shows the friendliness of the place. Everyone I encountered there was accommodating.  As you walk in, you’ll find yourself surrounded by bottles and bottles of wine. The bar is huge, and as I found from its menu, you can do wine flights. The three words that came to my mind to describe the inside : classy, rustic, industrial. I loved the details of the restaurant’s interior, from the old school light bulbs hanging above you, to the open ceilings, to the exposed brick wall in one part of the restaurant. Paintings and funky murals line the walls, and there’s even a more enclosed room off to the side that I assume could be used for parties. A lot of natural light was flowing into the restaurant. The music was very light and soothing, from jazz music to Billy Joel’s “Summer, Highland Falls.” The tables and place settings were beautiful; wooden tables that had a very rustic feel. At times I felt like I was inside someone’s home, having a meal.

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What I ate/drank: Warm pita bread with sun dried tomato/basil cream cheese, 2 mimosas, chef’s omelet special of the day which came with roasted red potatoes & fresh fruit.

Price:
Mimosa’s – $7 each

Chef’s omelet – $10.99

With tax the total was $26.61, with tip it was brought to $31.61.

IMG_0635

My thoughts: Because the guy from the kitchen sat me, I didn’t actually get the physical brunch menu until I had asked the host about it. As I saw the brunch cocktails were $7, I jumped on the mimosa train. I’m glad I did. The mimosas were fresh (it tasted like fresh squeezed orange juice mixed with the champagne), it tasted like Orangina in a cup (which to me makes a good mimosa, as the taste is balanced). The waitress informed me of the chef’s brunch specials today, and I decided to try to the omelet. While I waited, she brought out the warm pita bread with the sundried tomato basil cream cheese.

Warm pita bread with sun dried tomato basil cream cheese.
Warm pita bread with sun dried tomato basil cream cheese.

It was a great way to start off the brunch experience, the little warm pita bread triangles with the savory yet sweet cream cheese made me think of having a bagel without actually having a bagel. A nice little appetizer.

Chef's omelette special with roasted red potatoes and fresh fruit. $10.99
Chef’s omelette special with roasted red potatoes and fresh fruit. $10.99

The omelet’s presentation was nice. I loved the cheese on top (I believe it was mozzarella on top?), as well as the cheese inside it. Inside the omelet was fresh spinach, mushrooms, caramelized onions, asparagus and feta cheese. The vegetables inside were cooked perfectly: not soggy yet not crunchy, as well as being flavorful. The omelet itself was cooked great as well, light and airy but not runny. I loved the combination of flavors inside the omelet. The flavors that stuck out were the feta and the caramelized onions. The roasted red potatoes were good, not super greasy, and had a nice balance of flavor from the red onions to the herbs mixed in. What excited me was the inclusion of fresh fruit on the plate. That was my palate cleanser between every few bites. As feta cheese is very strong, it was nice to clean my palate before going back to the potatoes, for instance. While I do think the prices are a little higher on the scale of pricey-ness, I thought it was a nice brunch.

Mimosa. $7
Mimosa. $7

Why you should go: I noticed families eating there when I had went this afternoon, but I definitely envision this restaurant as a romantic evening for a date, or a fun girls night out doing wine flights and eating good food. It was a classy but friendly place where you could go in and have a good meal, and a good cocktail. Besides having many choices of wine (where you can also buy bottles), you can go for dinner as well, with its choices of small plates and comfort food dinners such as meatloaf and chicken marsala. There were good choices on the menu regardless of age. The prices were a little high, but the quality of food was great. It had a great open atmosphere and I would definitely go to try the wine flights and more of the food.

Location/Hours:

W.G. Kitchen & Bar
Bridgewater Falls
Lifestyle Shopping Center

3371 Princeton Rd., Unit F105
Hamilton, OH 45011
513 – 887 – 9463

Monday-Thursday : 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.

Friday-Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.

Sunday: 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

www.wgkitchen.com

DAYTON: Tank’s Bar & Grill

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“Stories in these walls.”

As I sat on a cushy, wide bar stool at Tank’s Bar & Grill in Dayton, that’s the phrase I kept thinking of.

There are stories about the items hung on their walls. There must be. And I left this afternoon with many questions as to the stories behind all of it.

It’s Sunday.

And Sunday means one of two things: Sunday brunch, or Sunday dinner.

A fun favorite of my friends and I is to get brunch. Living on Long Island/Connecticut/Syracuse it was all about the diners and breakfast places. But when visiting a few of my friends in Manhattan ( and now Queens where these ladies live), we would partake in a brunch on Sunday, and yes, some booze would be involved.

Living in Dayton, I haven’t found that go-to “diner” yet. In fact, I haven’t seen a 24-hour diner here at all (if you know of one, please! let me know).

But today’s mission was to find a brunch that not only had good food, but a good breakfast beverage to go with it.

Which brings me to Tank’s. I’ve been here in Dayton officially 9 months now, and while I’m good at directions, I definitely had to use the GPS on this one. I had no idea where I was when I pulled into the neighborhood where Tank’s is situated. All I knew was, I was somewhere in Dayton, but nowhere near downtown.

I’ve read many reviews about Tank’s, on Urbanspoon, Yelp and Google, many praising its breakfast and staff, “best bar food ever”, a “watering hole”, “dive bar,” , and others saying its prices are “getting out of control” and one going out on a limb saying “you might break your legs leaving the place because of the stairs!”

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Clearly, there’s a lot of hype about the place, and today I wanted to see what the fuss is about.

The entrance
The entrance way.

The atmosphere:  RELAXED. The entrance is on the side, not the front, so you want to make sure you park on the side road next to Tank’s or actually on the side street parallel parking (that’s what I did). On weekends it definitely gets crowded. I walked in and you have to walk down this interesting set of stairs to enter (you’ll see what I mean in the picture), it felt like I was about to enter another world. I walked in to a crowd of people sitting at tables in an open atmosphere. I didn’t see a host. So I went straight to the bar and found a seat right on the end. It’s definitely not a new place whatsoever.

IMG_9849 IMG_9853 IMG_9848 IMG_9847

Tank’s has been in business since 1987, and there was a lot of wooden decor to go around, including the wooden bar and the big cushy bar seats to sit at. There was a TON on the walls and at the bar alone to look at.  In one corner, on the ceiling, a working traffic light. In front of me, a stained glass sign that says “Tank’s Whine Bar” and a picture of a wine glass. The staff was VERY nice, I felt welcomed flying solo at the place. They were very friendly. On the speakers, an eclectic mix, from Bob Dylan, Mumford and Sons, to James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing”, which really stuck in my mind sitting there. There was a wooden card catalog on the bar, and right in front of me, a glass-enclosed cabinet, one shelf having bobbleheads in it (one looking like a Dayton Dragons one? possibly?). Above me, hanging plants lining the bar, as well as lining the restaurant’s walls. All of this left me thinking what it all symbolized and why it was put there, it made me think.

What I ate/drank: 1 mimosa, and the Country Gentlemen meal (three eggs, choice of ham, bacon or sausage, toast and hash browns) with scrambled eggs, sausage links, whole wheat toast and hash browns with cheese.

Price: For both plus tax, $15.54.

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Mimosa, $5.25.

My thoughts: The mimosa was perfection. It tasted like Orangina in a glass, which to me says they know how to make a perfectly balanced mimosa, those pros! My waitress was telling the guy next to me that they can customize it to your liking too (i.e. adding strawberries, a splash of cranberry, etc.). The drink was excellent, and a big mimosa at that. I noticed they used Cook’s Spumante little bottles as the champagne of choice, which is a good, cheap option. I had only wished it was a little less than $5.25 per glass.

Country Gentlemen plate (L-R: Hash browns with cheese, toast, scrambled eggs and sausage links)
Country Gentlemen plate (L-R: Hash browns with cheese, toast, scrambled eggs and sausage links)

The food came very fast, which was great. The first thing I noticed was the toast had a piece of char on it (which I took off), and that it wasn’t buttered, which surprised me. If you’re at the bar, however, there are little cups with butter packets near you that you can grab, as well as a syrup bottle and other condiments. The bread itself was good, but it could’ve been toasted more. The plate was a good size: not too big, not too small. The portion of hash browns with cheese was huge, and delicious: not overly greasy and the cheese added a nice kick of flavor. The sausage links were BLAND. I even added my trusty syrup on them, and it didn’t help.

What really impressed me the most were the eggs.

Oh my god, the EGGS!

The eggs were fluffy, soft, airy, but not super buttery. It reminded me of how my mom makes them, which for eggs, I haven’t had in awhile.

Overall my breakfast was good,  but not super amazing. Was it on the higher end of the price scale for breakfast? I think so. $8.79 for the plate plus an extra $.80 for cheese.

Breakfast menu. There's also a lunch & dinner menu (separate from this)
Breakfast menu. There’s also a lunch & dinner menu (separate from this)

What else is on the menu:  Tank’s has breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here are the highlights: for breakfast it has omelets with toast for $9.99 (any combination of green peppers, banana peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, salsa, ham, bacon, sausage, American, Cheddar, Provolone, Swiss, Pepper Jack), or you can get a “girlie size” omelet for $5.99 (another unanswered question for me leaving the place, why is there even such a thing as “girlie” size on the menu?).

There’s more choices of combinations of eggs/hash browns/toast/pancakes, and then there’s a Biscuits and “Bull Dog” gravy option for $5.99 (Girlie Size $3.99), which is two homemade biscuits in homemade sausage gravy, and then goes to say “Grandma’s original recipe, except we use Oakwood Possum” (I’m assuming that’s a joke…). There’s also French toast, waffles, and “Road Kill” chili. Breakfast is 7 days a week, anytime, so if you want breakfast anytime, you’re in luck.

For lunch & dinner, there’s an array of food from burgers to overstuffed sandwiches. A few highlights: for $7.49 you can get the Tankburger, which is a half pound of ground Chuck on an Onion, Kaiser or Wheat roll. The “My Way” Grilled Cheese for $6.49 includes Swiss, Cheddar, Provolone, American, lettuce, tomato, banana peppers, mustard, mayo and horseradish on dark rye. You can get chips & a dill pickle spear with its burgers and sandwiches, and for $.99 cents more you can add a side of onion dip (which I noticed people talking about a lot in reviews, good things!). On the overstuffed sandwiches menu I also noticed you can get a peanut butter & jelly club as well as a plain PB&J.  In the “other stuff” part of the menu I noticed there’s one thing called “Couch Potatoes” which is essentially chili cheese fries. The Batter Fried Shrooms I noticed people talking good things about in reviews too. There’s also daily specials on its menu too.

Why you should go: This place is so relaxed that you could go with friends, family, or by yourself. Its exactly what I witnessed today: group of friends, families, older people, younger people. It was a gathering place. A place where I bet if you go frequently, they would know you by name, and know your order. I definitely think it’s a good place to have a “boozy brunch” with people on a Sunday afternoon. Would I frequent every week? No. The prices are definitely a little too high in my eyes. Is it worth the hype? For the decor and for the atmosphere, yes. For the drinks? Yes. For the food, definitely the eggs and hash browns, but I’d have to try some of the other food to give a full thumbs up.

Location/Hours:

2033 Wayne Ave.

Dayton, OH 45410

937-252-2249

Bar: 7 AM to 2:30 AM daily

7 days a week

Kitchen: 7am to 2:00 AM

Breakfast served any time

DAYTON: Guess Who Dined At Butter?

There’s just something so compelling, so moving about “Adia.”

I remember watching this video constantly as a child. I’m fascinated by music videos. To this day, whenever I watch the “Adia” one I analyze it. The singing-in-slow-motion-as-the-rest-of-the-world-moves-quicker. She’s one of my favorite singers (and the tally count is now six seven times I have listened to the song via YouTube as I write this).

Earlier today, Dayton Daily News reported Ms. McLachlan dined at a breakfast spot in Dayton: Butter Cafe.

In fact, according to the Dayton Daily News, she liked Butter so much, she visited twice in her short stay in Dayton. She had visited to perform in a benefit concert with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra for the Kettering Health Network at the Schuster Center.

And here’s what she had, according to Dayton Daily News:

Saturday: Southwest scramble, one cappuccino

Sunday: Two cappuccinos, yogurt, side of sausage, oatmeal with chopped pecans, bananas & strawberries.

Also, according to Butter’s owner, Amy Beaver, McLachlan and her companion who went with her to the restaurant also shared “an omelette and bacon” together, as well as its French Toast Kabobs (which look and sound AMAZING: two pieces of French toast skewered with grilled strawberries and pineapple, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with toasted coconut, served over a strawberry puree. $7.95, and only available until 11:30 a.m.!). Sarah made excellent choices.

I’ve been to Butter Cafe several times since moving here to Dayton.

It’s situated in the U.D. district, on Brown St. You can’t miss it, with it’s bright, cheery yellow hue, and sign with indeed, a stick of butter on it.

When you walk inside, the first word that comes to my head is “cute.” There are white tables and chairs scattered through the main floor, and a stairway up to more tables in the back. Artwork lines the walls. One in particular that strikes me each time I’ve been is a skyline, which I believe is Dayton’s. To the left as you walk in, a case filled with house-made baked goods, that according to its website, are changed daily. And a chalkboard with the “wait list” to get in.

On weekends, it DEFINITELY packs a big crowd, so if you want brunch, get there early. The times I went, I got there earlier in the morning, and it wasn’t so crowded, but when I left, started to get a bit of a line.

The water comes in mason jars.

The wait staff, friendly.

And breakfast is served all day at Butter.

Yes.

All. Day.

Here’s some pictures from when I visited last month for the first time:

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Spring Omelette (minus sprouts). $9
Coffee. $2
Banana Nut Pancakes. $6.75
Banana Nut Pancakes. $6.75

Its omelettes are full of flavor: light, airy and fluffy eggs, and utilize a smart choice of ingredients. The spring omelette has chevre cheese, tomatoes, turkey, lemon creme fraische and sprouts. I opted out on the sprouts, which I did not miss. The creme fraische on top balances the omelette, it’s a touch sweet, with herbs for a fresh texture. The seasoned house potatoes are different from any potatoes at a breakfast place I’ve ever had. If those weren’t Yukon Gold’s I’m not sure what they were, because they sure looked and tasted like fresh Yukon Gold’s, with herbs and spices. Not greasy at all.  And the banana nut pancakes were fluffy and chock full of fresh bananas and pecans. If you’re a coffee drinker, its coffee is delicious; a nice strong roast.

One thing I recommend as well is to try the make-your-own-omelette. You can add in a slew of ingredients, such as turkey sausage, avocado, and goat cheese.

The prices are right too: you’d probably spend about $20 for two people for breakfast.

If you’re looking to do brunch in the Dayton, I definitely recommend Butter. No doubt about it. Love the food, the atmosphere, the staff and decor.

And Sarah McLachlan likes it too!

Butter Cafe

1106 Brown Street

Dayton, OH

937-985-9917

buttercafedayton.com

Cool Article of the Week – 9/30-10/8

Photo Credit: Starbucks U.K.’s Facebook page.

This cool article of the week comes from Eater.

As soon as I saw this, I thought to myself: “Duffin? What’s that? I must read on.”

The article is called “Starbucks UK’s Sad Take on the Hybrid Pastry: The Duffin.”

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t agree with what my cool article of the week is saying, which ironically, is why I picked it. I don’t think the duffin is a “sad take” on the hybrid pastry at all.

I actually think it’s really cool that the U.K. is experimenting with pastries, just like chefs like Dominique Ansel are with his cronut here in the U.S.  Right on.

So to cut to the chase, what is a duffin?

Starbucks U.K. recently released this pastry, which is a mix between a donut and a muffin. It has raspberry jam inside of it. To me, it actually sounds really cool, like you’re getting the donut with the jelly inside, but a little bigger, that’s all.

Its website says: “Our Duffin is filled with a raspberry jam; we’ve added just a hint of nutmeg to our buttermilk base and then covered it in sugar once baked.”

So the floor’s open to you all, would you try a duffin?

Enjoy!

FOODventures in CLEVELAND

One of my very good friends lives in Cleveland. Over the weekend, I road tripped up to #CLE to visit her and her boyfriend!

#FIRSTTIMEINCLEVELAND !

My friend has been telling me about all the amazing #CLE food, and the week prior to me coming, she even sent me an awesome link to a garlic festival. Garlic rules. We did drive by it, and not only was there a HUGE blow up garlic in the park, there was a guy dressed up in a garlic costume walking around.

In preps of visiting this dear city of Cleveland, who loves The Drew Carey Show? Me!

In my head I cue this song (which I played via my phone in my friends apartment Sunday to figure out what buildings I recognized this weekend):

There is SO much energy and pride for this city going on in #cle. Huge crowds headed to Indians games, people of all ages bustling around all of the cool neighborhoods, people grabbing drinks with their friends at the cute outdoor beer garden restaurants. Just a gorgeous place.

Here are some of the foodie places my friend took me to:

1) Tommys Restaurant

1824 Coventry Road
Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
216-321-7757

Hours:   Sunday – Thursday:  9am – 9pm
Friday:                       9am – 10pm
Saturday:                  7:30am-10pm

What I ate: Veggie Burger with cheese:  Brown rice, scallions, carrots, garlic, parsley, onions, adzuki beans, shaped like patties and fried. Served on a wheat bun. $8.75.

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My thoughts: Now THIS, my friends, is what I call a burger. By first glance, would you think this is all veggie? Me, no (well, maybe the sprouts would make me think it, but really, no). This burger is HUGE, and it will fill you up. The patty itself did taste very “meaty,” and had great a great flavor combination. I normally don’t like sprouts, but all the veggies piled together, along with the big wheat bun, made for a fantastic sandwich. It’s one of those stretch-your-jaw ones. What brought it over the top for me was the brown mustard sauce that came on the side, giving it the extra kick. The sandwich as a whole was not dry by no means: it was moist and juicy.

Why you should go: Now yes, I ate a veggie burger, but Tommy’s isn’t just a vegetarian place. There are lots of meat options. For breakfast, you can get items such as omelets or breakfast egg sandwiches (including the Elsie Combo, which has two fried eggs, two strips of bacon, Mayo, American cheese and peanut butter made into a triple decker sandwich (choice of toast). My friend told me the breakfast at Tommy’s is really, really good, but if you want to get that, you will have to come at the right time (we unfortunately missed it by 15 minutes). For lunch and dinner, there are plenty of beef-filled burgers, tuna sandwiches (such as the A.D. which has tuna, mushrooms, falafel, tomato and cheese), falafel sandwiches (such as the D.C. my friend got which has falafel, veggies, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, sesame sauce, cheese, pictured below), hummus, etc. Tommy’s is also known for its milkshakes, with flavors of Vanilla, Chocolate, Cherry, Peach, Strawberry, Coffee, Mocha, Mint Chocolate Chip, Root Beer, Black Cherry, Cookies & Cream, Cookie Dough, Moosetracks and Black Raspberry Chip. Pumpkin Pie & Peppermint Stick are its seasonal flavors. Tommy’s has also had visit from the likes of famous celebs such as Al Roker, Drew Carey, Heather Graham, Molly Shannon and Sheryl Crow’s band (yes, her band. One of our favorite parts of reading this on its menu). You can check out all of the celebs that have been to Tommy’s here.

2) Melt Bar and Grilled (several locations, I went to Lakewood)

14718 Detroit Ave.
Lakewood, OH 44107
216.226.3699

Monday-Thursday: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:00am – 12:00 midnight
Sunday: 11:00am – 11:00pm
Bar open till 2:00am every night.

What I ate: Monte Cristo: honey ham, smoked turkey, Swiss, American, crispy battered & deep fried, mixed berry preserves $11.50 .

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My thoughts: One of the best grilled cheese sandwiches EVER. HANDS DOWN. I’ve had a Monte Cristo at Bennigan’s before, but this blows Bennigan’s sandwich wayyy out of the water.I wasn’t sure which sandwich to choose at first. All of the grilled cheeses (the restaurants specialty) on its menu were mouthwatering. I narrowed it down between that one, The Dude Abides (homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella wedges, rich marinara, provolone & romano) and the Parmageddon (potato & onion pierogi, fresh napa vodka kraut, sautéed onions, sharp cheddar). I originally didn’t want the Monte Cristo, but when I saw the guy next to me get it, AND the waitress said its the restaurant’s signature sandwich, and with my friend saying I should try it, I got it, and woah. This is a balanced nirvana sandwich: there’s the savory of the honey ham, smoked turkey and two cheeses, then with the sandwich being battered and deep fried, AND with the sweet powdered sugar on top, AND having the tangy mixed berry sauce to dip in on the side, it was like this beautiful fried dough cheesy goodness. I was hungry, and devoured the entire plate. The hand cut fries were great too. A great bang for your buck too.

Why you should go: The experience itself is even more reason to go. There will be a bit of a wait depending on the time you head there, but instead of being given the standard beeper or just name calling when your table’s ready, this restaurant steps it up a notch with labels. But not just any name labels. Mine said something along the lines of “Garfield 1232-3”. My friend and I had absolutely no idea what that meant, but that’s okay. It’s all part of the awesome fun. And hey while you’re waiting, check out all of the cool decor around the room, as well as throughout the restaurant.  As you head to your table, the host will explain the label’s meaning to you. Apparently the one I wore was a phrase from a jingle from a roofing company commercial. Tons more funky phrases like that on the labels. The #1 reason: its grilled cheeses are to die for. And if you’re vegetarian, there are plenty of options too (even though the menu has a lot of meat filled ones). Just check the menu for V (vegetarian), VA (vegetarian option available), and VG (vegan available). Truthfully, as it’s a grilled cheese place, I’m not really sure why people would get anything else on the menu, but I will say, the other stuff on the menu, such as burgers, desserts and appetizers, look great too. But yes, when you go to Cleveland, you need to head to Melt. ASAP.

3) Big Al’s Diner

12600 Larchmere Blvd Cleveland OH 44120

What I ate: The dish that landed this mom & pop dining spot on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” show, its corned beef hash, along with some scrambled eggs and wheat toast.

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My thoughts: Chef Michael Symon named the corned beef hash the “best thing he ever ate,” on that show, also saying it “magic on a plate.” I definitely thought it was delicious: I liked how the corned beef was salty with the mix of the green peppers and the potatoes that were cut up and looked like unfried French fries. The eggs were fluffy and moist. I just felt like it needed a sauce on top. Just to make it a little more moist, and to add a creamy texture to the mix. I’ll admit, I added hot sauce and pepper on top to give it that extra oomph. So while Michael, I do not agree with you this time, you definitely have a contender.

Why you should go: It’s definitely that hole-in-the-wall diner in the neighborhood that people flock to, and I could see why. Prices are pretty cheap, the food is good, and you can get breakfast, lunch or dinner. A small forewarning though, something we learned while there: you have to seat yourself. We waited for a little bit and then noticed how people were seating themselves in tables as soon as a party upped and left, so we followed suit. Also, be prepared to wait a little while for your food, as they say they cook each dish to order. We did wait a little while for the food. But overall, we thought it was a decent place.

Now something I also learned from my friend while in Cleveland is that this city is full of amazing BEERS! Some places we checked out/walked by that I recommend: Market Garden, Nano Brew, Great Lakes Brewery, and Tremont Taphouse.

At several of these places we witnessed outdoor beer garden seating (I LOVED the outdoor seating at Market Garden at Tremont Taphouse: both had places to sit outdoors with beautiful hanging bulb lights).

I personally love the fruity beers myself, so here’s my list of what to find in #CLE that’s fruity and delicious:

IMG_4773ACE Pear Cider (pictured left): Got this at Melt Bar and Grilled. Essentially tasted like a cold sparkling glass of pear juice. It wasn’t overly sweet, but it wasn’t too bitter either. My friend agreed, saying she thought it tasted like pear juice.

Southern Tier Pumking (pictured right): My friend had this at Melt Bar and Grilled. A spice-filled, warm, cozy tasting beer.

ACE Pumpkin Cider (not pictured): Got that at Market Garden. My friend and I both agreed it tasted like Pumpkin Pie in a glass.

 

There are so many neighborhoods, so many foodie places to check out in Cleveland. The next time I visit, I want to venture into its Little Italy neighborhood, and check out the bar devoted to chocolate.

Next time you head to Cleveland, or if you are from there, please let me know where you go to eat/drink, or please let me know where I should go next!

Enjoy.

Midnight Snack: ABO Balls

Ever since I recently wrote about the PBNO Balls I made, I haven’t stopped eating nut butters since.

(Nut butters meaning peanut and almond butter.)

After I wrote that post, I made my way to Trader Joe’s one night after work. My mission was clear: find some amazing almond butter to bring home.

I found myself in the nut butter part of one of its aisles staring at all of the different kinds of nut butters. I was fascinated. There were all kinds of varieties of not only nuts, but creamy or chunky choices too. I was then approached by a very friendly employee who guided me in my search. We spoke for several minutes about which almond butter I should choose: creamy, chunky, sea salt, no sea salt.

After showing me the several types the store had, I ended up choosing the creamy one with sea salt in it (see picture).

If you asked me if I prefer creamy or chunky nut butter, honestly I have no preference. I love both just the same.

I’ll admit, I was curious about the salt content in the butters while standing there speaking to the employee. However, the man assured me that there wasn’t a ton of salt in the salted almond butter if you’re watching your salt (if you’re curious now too, it has 60 mg of salt in a 2 tbsp serving, not bad!), and the non-salted one doesn’t have that same flavor the salty one has.

The night I bought it, I opened the jar and mixed it for awhile with a spoon (as the oil of the natural butter can separate). I haven’t had almond butter in a long time, and to take that first taste was magical. A very grainy texture, with a hint of that sweet-salt taste, but not overly sweet.

Rich.

Thick.

Delicious.

So now, I’ve been alternating these past few weeks, between having a spoonful of almond butter on occasion, or having a spoonful of peanut butter with an oreo placed in the middle of the spoon on another occasion.

Which brings me to tonight’s midnight craving. My love of chocolate was calling my name, and I immediately started thinking about the almond butter and how I could combine the two to make ABO Balls.

My next thought: “Hey, I can put these in the freezer to harden them up a bit!”

And here’s what resulted:

ABO Balls.

ABO Balls (a sister to PBNO Balls):

-1 heaping tablespoon of almond butter of your choice (I chose Trader Joe’s creamy almond butter with sea salt)

-2 chocolate sandwich cookies (I chose some Oreo Double Stuf’s. Oh, yes.)

-chocolate syrup (for decor)

Method:

1. Crush the chocolate sandwich cookies onto a plate.

2. Spoon the almond butter on top of the cookies.

3. Roll almond butter and oreo’s together to make two ABO Balls.

4. Place ABO Balls in freezer (covered in plastic wrap) for 20-30 minutes (you can even let them sit for longer if you want them a little crunchier).

5. Take ABO Balls out of freezer and spritz a little chocolate sauce on top for decor.

6. Enjoy!

These balls, like the PBNO Balls, had a great texture and a great balance of sweet and savory. Because this nut butter in particular was grainy and thicker than a regular store-bought nut-butter, it thickened up quickly and very well in the freezer. It had a good consistency to pick up in your hands and not get too messy.

You’ll still want that mug-o-milk to wash it all down!

A fun, quick, easy snack to make in the middle of the night, or any time of day.

Enjoy!

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