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DAYTON: Half Price Sushi Wednesdays at Sima

I love a good sale.

And when I went to Sima in Kettering tonight and discovered it was half price sushi night, I couldn’t resist.

Owners Mr. and Mrs. Kim are all about having high quality, fresh ingredients in their menu items.

And with many creative sushi rolls to choose from (that the owners and staff come up with), some of those being on the special rolls menu (which at normal price, can get expensive), trying rolls like this at half price is a great deal.

Sima has a very friendly staff where if you go, they will remember who you are. Depending on the server/staff, they will also remember things you like on the menu.

The restaurant has a sushi bar, as well as booths, tables, an area for Korean BBQ (grills and all), as well as a separate room that can be used for parties.

If you order off the sushi menu on half price Wednesdays, the staff gives you a sheet of paper and pencil where it lists the rolls in play that night. You can mark off which ones you want and how much you want, as well as a listing of their prices including the discount.

Here are the rolls I had:

1) Monkey Brains (not actual monkey brains, and a special dish that’s listed on the wall above the sushi bar. One of the owners came up with this dish, which is actually deep fried mushrooms stuffed with spicy crab and cream cheese, topped with masago and sauce). Loved the mix of the creaminess and meatiness of the mushrooms/cream cheese along with the crunch from the outer coating, as well as the nice kick from the sauce on top.

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2) Playboy roll (on special menu, its a roll that’s set on fire and gives off a nice grilled taste, along with a tanginess from the sauces on top.)

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3) Left: Shrimp Crunch roll (on special menu, a deep fried tempura roll with shrimp, cream cheese, etc., great flavors with the shrimp and a little crunch from the veggies inside and the coating outside along with the creaminess inside of the cream cheese), Right: golden California roll (deep fried California roll. Melt in your mouth. Amazing.) Loved the sauce on top (what appeared to be a spicy mayo sauce).

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If you’re looking for a good deal mid week whether it be with friends, or going solo, Sima half price sushi Wednesdays equals good food and good times.

Sima Restaurant

1771 Woodman Dr

Kettering, OH 45420

Mon – Thu: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 2:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 2:30 pm – 10:30 pm
Sat: 12:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Sun: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm

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.

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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

TOLEDO: Real Seafood Company

 

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TOP PHOTO: Toledo skyline BOTTOM PHOTO: The Docks, Toledo.

There’s something magical about the water. The salty air, the breeze that sweeps your face, and when the sun shines on it, how that water glistens.

I really wanted to be near the water this past weekend. Living in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey growing up, I remember from being a little kid up until now always connecting with water, whether it be a beach, lake, pond, etc.

This past week I was really craving that experience. Cincinnati and Columbus are both cities I’ve been to here in Ohio that are on the water, but as I love to explore and venture to new cities, I decided to travel north to Toledo.

When traveling to any new city, a great guide to check out before you go is the city’s tourism (CVB) website. In this case, I was browsing Destination Toledo for my “plan.”

Perusing the restaurant section, I read about this place near the water called “The Docks,” in which the website described it as the following:

“Discover acclaimed waterfront dining at The Docks, a restaurant complex on the banks of the Maumee River. Savor daily fresh catches from Real Seafood Co., which also features a raw oyster bar. ”

I immediately knew I needed to check this out. After driving through the downtown area (which reminded me of the city of Dayton except Toledo on a huge body of water), I drove over to The Docks, which is directly across the Toledo skyline (see picture above, great photo opportunities here!)

I got there in the afternoon, so it was perfect timing for lunch. I had a choice to make, there were choices such as  Zia’s, an Italian restaurant, Real Seafood Company with its fresh seafood, El Vaquero at The Docks, Mexican food.

Of those three, I next consulted with the app Urbanspoon for user reviews of these restaurants.

After reading them, ultimately, my gut was saying, “I WANT SEAFOOD!”

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I’m SO glad I made that choice. Here’s why:

Lobster!
Lobster!

The atmosphere: Immediately walking into the restaurant, I was impressed by the decor, and the friendly waitstaff. Right off the bat the staff were very kind and as the hostess escorted me to my table, I had told her how it was my first time to Toledo. The waiter I had overheard this, and later in the meal, chatted with me about Toledo, as well as Dayton (he used to come to the Gem City to visit). Two words to sum up the decor: classy and bold. There are details in the walls, from the nautical paintings that were painted on the walls, to the words above the open kitchen listing the fish the restaurant serves, to the colorful display on the wall that’s near the restrooms, to one part of the restaurant with the beautiful mesh covering a section of booths. This restaurant is HUGE,  an open floor plan that has different levels, including a big glass fireplace in the middle of the restaurant you can be seated next to. There’s a hanging lobster from the ceiling (see picture above!). The seating itself was comfortable, tables and chairs as well as booths (I sat in a booth). And with it being right on the water, there were great views of the Toledo skyline that you can sit and look at. Another thing I loved, love songs were playing throughout the restaurant (i.e. “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal).

What I ate/drank: Rolls, bleu cheese cole slaw, Parmesan Encrusted George’s Bank Lemon Sole with skillet fried hash brown potatoes , chocolate decadence cake, diet coke.

Price: The Parmesan encrusted sole was $14.95, which came with the homemade rolls and bleu cheese cole slaw, on top of the side dish of the hash browns.

With the cake, diet cokes, and tip, I paid a total of  $31.90.

My thoughts: When I first got there, I had asked the waiter to break down for me the popular dishes. He explained how the fish is fresh caught and fresh delivered to the restaurant each morning. He took me through the lunch menu and which fresh fish I should look out for, the featured specials (which change frequently), but it was when he got excited about the Parmesan encrusted sole in the lemon sauce, I got excited and was sold on that. The service was a good pace: I wasn’t rushed yet the food came out at a reasonable time. The waiter first brought out warm homemade rolls with perfectly cut triangles of butter.

House made rolls. These came with my lunch entree.
House made rolls. These came with my lunch entree.

The fact these were served warm really made them amazing. When you cut these open, there’s fresh garlic inside, on top of the poppy and sesame seeds you see on the top there. They were light and not overly dough-y. Delicious.

Homemade bleu cheese coleslaw vinaigrette
Homemade bleu cheese coleslaw vinaigrette

The waiter then brought a small dish of its homemade bleu cheese cole slaw. It wasn’t the creamy kind, which I loved. The cole slaw was light, the vegetables were crunchy, not soggy, and the blend of the big chunks of bleu cheese and the fresh black pepper I had the waiter put on was a great “appetizer” before the main event.

PARMESAN ENCRUSTED GEORGE’S BANK LEMON SOLE.
PARMESAN ENCRUSTED GEORGE’S BANK LEMON SOLE with skillet fried hash brown potatoes, $14.95 (LUNCH PORTION)

The main event was incredible. I’ve had a fair share of seafood in my life thus far, and this was really some of the best I’ve had. The crust and the lemon sauce really brought it over the top, along with the scallion garnish. The sole itself was cooked great (moist, not dry, bright white inside). The crust was crisp but not super greasy. The lemon sauce, paired with the Parmesan from the crust was a nice sweet/savory blend I enjoyed. And the waiter recommended I get the hash browns crispy, which I’m glad I did, because those were great too, not greasy, but with a great crunch.

Homemade decadence chocolate cake.
Homemade decadence chocolate cake.

My sweet tooth couldn’t resist the also homemade chocolate decadence cake: a flourless chocolate cake in a tart berry sauce. It was magic. Creamy, chocolate filled bites of heaven.

Why you should go:  The seafood was some of the best I’ve ever had. The atmosphere is beautiful: you can take in views of the city of Toledo on the water while enjoying VERY fresh seafood. The restaurant is a 2014 Diners Choice winner from the popular online reservation site OpenTable, and if you go on a busy night or weekend, especially now that its getting warmer, I recommend making a reservation either on that website or by phone. If you go in the afternoon however, you won’t have trouble getting a table. The restaurant also has a six-foot raw bar with clams, mussels, and other fresh catches. The restaurant is so big it can accommodate big parties as well.  And if you don’t love seafood,  not to worry. The menu also has chicken and steak entrees as well as a variety of sandwiches and burgers. There’s something for everyone. As I flat out said on my personal Facebook page, RUN, don’t walk to Real Seafood Company!

Location/Hours:
22 Main St.
Toledo, OH 43605

Reservations at:
(888) 456-3463 (DINE)

Hours of Operation
Mon-Thursday 11:00am-10:00pm
Friday 11:00am-11:00pm
Saturday 11:30am-11:00pm
Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm

Happy Hours
Sunday-Friday 4:00pm-Close (drink specials end at 9:00pm)
(Bar & lounge area only)

realseafoodcotoledo.com

Cool Article of the Week – 3/2-3/8

An example of a really good wine, that smells and tastes good. Barefoot White Zinfandel
An example of a really good wine, that smells and tastes good.
Barefoot White Zinfandel

Have you ever drank a glass of wine that smelled downright awful?

And then when you actually tried it either tasted alright, or just like what you were thinking of?

I definitely have.

Before moving to Ohio I lived on Long Island, and many a weekend one of my best friends and I would do what I called vineyard-hopping. There are so many vineyards on the East End of Long Island (check out this site for the full list). If you’re there, it’s a great activity that won’t break the bank. Trying different wines for a small amount of money.

And doing wine tastings for us is not just for the love of wine, it’s for the learning experience, and for really what to look (and not to look) out for.

One thing I noticed at some of the tasting rooms was the aroma of some of the wines were just plain gross. Like smelled like dirt, rotting things, the S word.

And honestly I didn’t understand why.

I’ve been to places (i.e. festivals) where the wine sat out too long and it gets aerated (another reason for it possibly tasting gross), but some of the vineyards I went to, there would be a wine where I’d smell it and just be grossed out by the aroma.

Which brings me to my cool article of the week, which explains some of what I’ve thought about.

According to an article I got in my email from The Daily Sip, it’s “complex chemistry” making each wine smell, or not smell.

Before you read the entire article, here are a couple of the scents, decoded:

wetdog
Photo credit: bottlenotes.com

Wet dog
Found in a wine that has been contaminated by TCA, a compound that can be found in wine corks and contaminates the whole bottle of wine. Also sometimes described as wet cardboard or dank basement.

Barnyard or Bandaid
Comes from a microbe called brettanomyces. At low levels, it can be considered beneficial to the complexity of the wine, but it easily grows out of control and spoils the wine.

Dairy (butter, cheese, cream)
Found in New World chardonnays. The aroma comes from the compound diacytl, the same compound used to make margarine taste like butter. Diacytl forms when a second fermentation, called malolactic fermentation, takes place.

Have you ever had a weird wine aroma experience ? Let me know!

MIAMI VALLEY: Miami Valley Restaurant Week EXTENDED!

Photo credit: dineoutdayton.com
Photo credit: dineoutdayton.com

One of the amazing things about restaurants, and the love of food, not only just here in Dayton, but every place I’ve lived thus far in life, is RESTAURANT WEEKS.

It’s the bang for your buck, and an amazing way to explore your (for me in Dayton, still fairly new) city, and try new foods.

Three or four course meals, for a great price.

Last week, was Miami Valley Restaurant Association’s Winter Restaurant Week. Many restaurants across the Miami Valley joined forces for a week of three course meals for price points of $20.14 , $25.14 and $30.14 .

And by participating, you’d be paying it forward, as a dollar from each meal goes towards local charities, according to MVRA’s website.

Well tonight, I have some great news for all of you Miami Valley foodies out there.

Its been EXTENDED until Saturday the 8th!

Here’s the list of restaurants still participating:

Amber Rose

Wellington Grille

If you click on this link, you can check out each one’s restaurant week menus.

Enjoy, bon appetit, and please let me know if you try some new restaurants!

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.

SWEET TREATS: Buckeye Brownies

One of the first things I heard about when I moved here to Ohio was this:

Buckeyes.

I knew of the sports team, but what I didn’t discover until I was physically here in Ohio   were the chocolatey peanut butter desserts sold here.

Here’s an instance of a Buckeye foodie discovery I had while out and about.

I go to one of the local supermarkets here (Dorothy Lane Market), and am browsing around one of the cases of desserts. I’m seeing all of these Killer Brownies it makes (that could be a whole other post by the way: these are these thick, moist brownies with gooey delicious layers in the middle), and then lo and behind I see a Buckeye.

Thinking about it now, here’s something coincidental about this.

The size of the buckeye I tried there, at least circumference wise, is the size of an O you form with your hand. O for Ohio! Eyyy! 🙂

If you haven’t tried a Buckeye before, it’s a peanut butter ball covered in chocolate just enough so the peanut butter is still sticking out.

It looks just like the nut that comes off of a Buckeye tree.

The other night I was thinking about something I could bake (and surprise!) for a dear coworker whose last day was Monday. She is moving away from Ohio, and so I went to Pinterest for some inspiration.

I love baking brownies. While browsing for brownie ideas, I by chance came across this recipe.: (thank you My Patchwork Quilt!)

Buckeye Brownies

19 1/2 oz. pkg. brownie mix
2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. plus 6 T. butter, softened and divided
8 oz. jar creamy peanut butter
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Prepare and bake brownie mix in greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan according to pkg. directions. Let cool.

Mix powdered sugar, 1/2 c. butter, and peanut butter in a bowl.

Mix well (I used electric mixer) and spread over cooled brownies.

Chill for 1 hour.

Melt together chocolate chips and remaining butter in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally.

Spread over brownies.

Let cool; cut into squares.

Makes 2-3 dozen.

I modified the recipe just a tad: I used a brownie box mix that wasn’t 19 1/2 oz (honestly, I couldn’t find one that big!), so I used an 18 oz box.

Another thing I did that’s different from the recipe: the brownie box I got didn’t have the cooking time for the brownie pan that was required in the recipe (9 x 13), so I played with the timing with my trick below.

With any brownie or cake, what you want to do to tell it is done is to stick something in the middle of it (normally I’d go for toothpicks, but since I don’t have any right now, I used a fork). If it comes out clean, your baked good is done, if it comes out with dough stuck to it, you need to cook it some more. This is when you keep a close eye on the oven, these final minutes.

IMG_3803 IMG_3800

Another modification I did was I added more chocolate chips instead of just 6 ounces (because I ran out when it was just 6 ounces), and added some more butter in when I added the extra chocolate.

A good trick for melting ANY chocolate (and thank you Culinary Arts class in high school for this tip), is to melt it in a double boiler (pictures above), not just in the saucepan alone. That way, there is no chance of your chocolate burning. A double boiler is when you boil a pot of water (or in this case, I put it to medium heat), and put a bowl on top with the chocolate in it, and melt it / stir it up that way.

Another thing I did was I chilled the brownies overnight in the fridge after putting the melted chocolate on top.

Pouring the melted chocolate on the brownies!
Pouring the melted chocolate on the brownies!

Now I’ll admit, it was a little hard to cut them today, but I will tell you, these brownies are SUPER delicious, chocolatey, fudgy and moist. I especially loved the chocolate with the fluffy peanut butter frosting/filling concoction in the middle. My now former coworker enjoyed them too, which I am so glad about :). I made them especially to remind her of home before she leaves for another coast :).

I officially really really really love Buckeyes :).

Enjoy!

DAYTON: Dixie Dairy Dreem

IMG_3792 IMG_3790This afternoon I took a nature walk/hike at one of Dayton’s MetroParks. And afterwards, my mind, being the sweet tooth that I am, went to wanting some ice cream.

My first thought on where to go?

The Dixie Dairy Dreem.

My co-workers have been raving about it to me ever since I started my new job out here. I’ve been wanting to try it since, but just hadn’t gotten to this Dayton establishment yet. But here I am this afternoon, with the perfect opportunity.

The atmosphere:  IMG_3791This purple and off-white walk-up counter you can spot from down the road. It makes me think of candy, and the Willy Wonka chocolate factory from glancing at it. The Dixie Dairy Dreem has been around for 50, yes, 50 years, in Moraine, a suburb of Dayton. There’s parking on both sides of the building, and two counters to order ice cream (or food) from the outside. When I left, I also realized there’s a side entrance where you can eat inside (I didn’t go inside, so I cannot give my opinion on the inside, but the outside is awesome!). On a summer day like this, why not eat outside?

What I ate: A twist soft-serve ice cream cone in a waffle cone.

Price: $2.75 (according to its website).

My thoughts: It’s no wonder people love this place. The soft serve ice cream was light and airy, but had the perfect amount of thickness at the same time. The vanilla and chocolate tasted authentic and not overly sweet, it did NOT taste artificial. The waffle cone was delicious too, a nice crunch. With the ice cream in it, it didn’t get soggy. The only thing I would note is you’ll have to peel that paper wrapper off the waffle cone, and be careful of pieces of paper sticking to the cone (I didn’t eat all of my cone because of that, but I enjoyed it nonetheless).

What else is on the menu:  I’ll start with the frozen first. Besides chocolate, vanilla and twist soft serves (the “traditional” flavors, there are 24 additional flavors of soft serve and frozen yogurt to pick and choose from, including Amaretto, Butter Pecan, Peanut Butter, Kahlua, Key Lime, Cheesecake, and more. If you don’t want a cone, there are slushies, milkshakes, malts, freezes, ice cream sodas, sundaes and Arctic Swirls (like Dairy Queen’s Blizzards). If you want to eat some savory, regular food, there’s an assortment of hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches, appetizers (such as broccoli cheese bites, chicken fingers, fried mushrooms), and sides of french fries, onion rings, potato chips and cole slaw.

Why you should go: The first reason and foremost, the ice cream. On a summer day, you want some of that creamy goodness, and at those prices, you’ll be back again. Second, you have the choice of dining in or eating outside (although I didn’t eat in, on a summer day you’d want to eat outside). Third, the place itself is full of nostalgia where you can drive up and get your food. It’s a locally owned store, not a chain.

Location/Hours:

4542 S. Dixie Drive

Dayton

937-293-2479

Summer Hours

Memorial Day – Labor Day
Mon-Sat
11:00am to 10pm
Sun
Noon to 10pm
Spring & Fall Hours
Mon-Sat
11:00am to 9pm
Sun
Noon to 9pm

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