Tag Archives: 2012 Goals

productive goal-keeping, or eggspecting great things

21 Nov

Oh, hey!

How’s it going?

So, you know, it’s November, and I’m only a third of the way through my goal of trying 12 new restaurants and blogging about it. Well, the blogging part anyway. I think I’ve far exceeded the 12 new restaurants portion of this goal. Far exceeded. I just…usually don’t have my camera on me. Or…errmm….am too busy stuffing food in my face to pull out my phone and take a picture.

But Lo! A couple of weeks ago, before Swede and I headed out for a day of hiking at Starved Rock, we paid a visit to my Absolute. Favorite. Breakfast Spot. and loaded up on all sorts of protein (re: sausage patties) and good carbs (re: hashbrowns) before heading out for a hike (re: wandering through the woods thank God there was a path or I’d be lost). And THAT, my Interwebbing friends, is not a designation I hand out lightly.

I already sang the praises of the Publican as an enormously delicious brunch spot. And if you’re going upscale, I fully stand by my assessment. But if you just want an omelet the size of your head? Or some over-medium eggs? Or a skillet packed with hashbrowns? Hands down, if you’re in the Northwest Indiana area, I’m going to tell you to hit up The Scrambled.

Swede and I first dined here in the early part of this year. Actually, the very firs time we went, we walked in only to walk out a few minutes later due to a lengthy wait time and the onset of hangry emotions. But the next time we stopped in…

WHOA.

Game. Over.

My breakfast heart was claimed.

Restaurant #4 of 12: The Scrambled 

Pros:

The food. I’ve never had a bad meal there. My favorite is the “healthier skillet” (pictured above), packed with sautéed spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes, and eggs your way on top. All resting lovingly on a bed of vermicelli-thin hashbrowns that are crisp on the outside and soft—but not mushy—on the inside. Their omelets, as mentioned, are large and very much in charge of the plate, and could easily be split between two hearty eaters. Their ketchup, jams, and butters are homemade. Their sausage patties are homemade. Are you picking up what I’m laying down here?

The prices. Swede and I sometimes have to kick ourselves when we remember that this is Northwest Indiana, not DC or Chicago proper, and thus, yes, things are less expensive out this way. And that is magical. So much fresh food! For not so much tons of monies! It’s how breakfast is meant to be.

The space. The Scrambled is not a big place. At all. And I like that about it. I don’t want it to get bigger. If you have to get bigger, just open a second location somewhere else, because I like the smaller feel for brekkie spots, even if it does mean an often lengthy wait time, particularly on the weekends. But the small interior is sunny and open, with windows running almost the full length of two walls. Pictures of babies and small children line the walls, and I have no idea why. Maybe they are the owners’ children? Nieces? Nephews? I don’t much care, frankly, as I’m way too busy looking at my food and trying to engineer ways I can shovel it in my mouth faster.

Cons: 

Waiting. I love everything about it about this place, except that you typically will have to wait for a table, which will suck if you’re quite hungry. But you know what? The wait is worth it, and they give you free coffee while you wait, which makes Swede happy.

That one waitress. It was only the one gal, but she totally reprimanded Swede for not finishing his huge breakfast and not taking a to-go container for it, and told him he was wasting food. And that’s just uncalled for. (Thankfully I was not there for this episode, and thankfully it has never happened again, and we’ve had splendid waitstaff, because I would not have taken kindly to such a comment DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO WITH MY FOOD LADY.) (Sorry. The waitress within still gets quite riled up at the mere hint of poor customer service. What  a customer does or does not want to do with his or her leftovers is none of your damn business. Now let’s go back to the server station and pour ourselves our thoumillionth Diet Coke of the morning.)

On a scale of 1 to Go? Grab the Sunday paper and your eating pants and let’s go.

Four down, eight more to go. 

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productive goal-keeping, or, if you’d like fries with that

21 May

Swede and I spent a month in DC this winter, and the night before we were to head back to Chicago, we happened to be cruising up Connecticut Avenue, just short of my old ‘hood.

“Medium Rare,” I pointed out to him as we drove past a strip of restaurants. “I hear it’s supposed to be good.”

“Want to go?” Swede asked. “We can go for dinner tonight.”

You guys, it’s true. I DO have a type. I obviously have taken to dating geniuses.

And also, five bonus points for spontaneous dinner outings!

Amirite?

Is there anything better?

Maybe spontaneous popcorn popping and movie night.

It’s a toss up, really.

We called a couple of friends to meet us and our awesome friend The Republican responded with great enthusiasm, as it seems that Medium Rare is one of her new favorite restaurants.

And after our visit there, I can understand why.

Restaurant #2 of 12: Medium Rare 

Pros:

The Food. Now obviously, as I discussed with The Publican, I am wholly on board with meat. But unlike the Publican, Medium Rare specializes in one dish: Steak frites. And they do a superb job, simply superb. They butter you up with some crusty French bread, then serve up a lightly dressed mixed green salad, both of which are delicious, but then, then they get to the true highlight of the meal.

They’ll bring out your steak—cooked to order, of course—in two helpings, starting with one portion, drizzled with their secret sauce that is savory and smooth, slightly creamy, yes?, and essentially a tray of fries. (Which, of course, are made even better when dragged through the secret sauce.) And when you polish that off (And you will. It’s okay. Embrace it.) they bring you out the second portion of your steak. And then you can roll around in beefy ecstasy. (Again: you will. It’s okay. Embrace it.)

Whether or not you’ll be up for dessert, well, I can’t really say. We passed, but that’s not to say that the selection wasn’t tempting. I was just full of beef and didn’t want to ruin my steak high.

The Price. All that food I just mentioned? (Minus dessert.) $20. Yes, you read that correctly. Beverages not included. I’m not really sure you can find a better deal at such quality in DC.

Brick Walls. I’m a sucker for brick interior brick walls. There. I said it. And being that the restaurant is at ground level, the brick walls and open(ish) kitchen create an intimate environment.

Cons:

Seating. The tables themselves are fine (though a bit on top of each other). My con on this one is that they won’t let you sit until all members of your party are there, which I find incredibly annoying and off-putting. As a patron, it tells me that you either think I’m cheap and I’m going to sit there drinking water for an hour waiting for the final member of my party to arrive or you only want me to be in your restaurant for as little time as possible so you can turn as many tables as possible. Neither of these are feelings you want to blanket your patrons with, and both are insulting, leaving me feeling like more chattel rather than a welcomed diner.

Service. At least, our server, whose name I’ve forgotten. But what I remember is that he was mildly surly and had a vague air of annoyance any time he had to come over to our table.

Service can really make or break a restaurant for me, and if the food was not so scrumptious, I probably wouldn’t return to Medium Rare. But the food is that good, and well worth plunking down $30 (tax, tip, all that stuff), and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

On a scale of one to Go?

Go.

Right now, in fact.

You won’t be sorry.

Take me with you?

Or maybe I’ll just see you there.

being all productive and whatnot: going for the goal

4 May

So back in January, as I was putting together my goals for this year, I was looking at my list and realized quickly it was rather…lacking in the excitement department. Don’t get me wrong, I have some terrific goals set for myself this year, but they’re just so…responsible, like save money and be kind to spiders. I asked the Swede what was on his list and he immediately said jumping out of an airplane.

Jumping out of an airplane is WAY cooler than anything I came up with.

Though to be fair, the thought of skydiving makes me wet my pants when I have both feet on the ground, so believe me when I say I don’t think that’s going to be the pizazz added to my list.

So I thought and thought and hemmed and hawed and wrung my hands in an anxious manner for a month or so, until it came to me. A simple, yet fun goal to strive for in 2012, one that fit my personality to a T: Visit 12 new restaurants and blog about it.

And lo!, dear Interwebers! How I have attacked this goal with gusto! And of course have forgotten to bring my camera with me to half the places! But thankfully I’ve remembered on several occasions, and on others have at least had my phone with me to take a few semi-okay plate shots.

So join me, won’t you? For a recap of my first step toward achieving one of my 2012 goals as I pay a visit to: the Publican.

A few weeks ago, my sweet friend, whom I shall refer to as The U, and I made plans for brunch. I love brunch. It’s entirely possible that it is my favorite meal of the weekend. How can it not be? Have you ever BEEN to a brunch buffet? Two words for you: OMELET. STATION. Two more words for you: CARVING STATION.

If I ever die in public, I hope it’s at brunch. But not until I’ve had my share of sausage patties and/or links.

What?

Anyway.

Through a quick text exchange we decided to meet at the Publican, which we were both delighted about. I was surprised that The U suggested it, however, as the Publican’s big thing is being all about meat, in particular, pork. Sausages, pork belly, bacon, if it is on or comes from a pig, they want you to eat it. And The U? The U hasn’t eaten pork in about 15 years. But whatever, we happily made our way to the restaurant.

I won’t bore you with details, because that’s what serious restaurant critics are for. So here’s what you need to know about brunching at the Publican. (I can’t vouch for their dinner, but I can say that the menu looked like it would amazing your f-ing pants off.)

THE LOW DOWN:

Pros:

*The food. Holy pants, this was some delicious brunch. Particularly, as I mentioned, if you are a carnivore, and being a McPolish, I can’t help but be, amirite? I mean, I guess I could be anti-meat, but I don’t think that would suit me very well and besides you guys they have lamb sausage on the menu LAMB SAUSAGE ZOMG IT’S LIKE THE MOTHERSHIP IS CALLING TO ME I LOVE LAMB. So of course I had the maple-glazed pork shoulder, which was perfectly fall-apart tender, smoky and just a little salty, with a fried egg on top and all of that set upon a pile of grits and braised greens, with pickled onions as garnish.

To be fair, it was a very difficult decision between that and the lamb sausage dish, but in the end I had to go with my heart. The heart wants what it wants, after all. And my heart wants another trip to the Publican for brunch so I can fill my stomach with lamb sausage.

The U had quiche made with ramps, spring onions and gruyere with a salad, and a side of the most delicious hash browns I’ve had in a long time. They were flat and round and perfectly crispy and salty on the outside, but still potato-y on the inside.

*On a price scale, brunch was somewhere in the middle. It wasn’t cheap, but considering the fame and the “name” that is Publican, I was expecting it to be quite a few dollars more, and was happily surprised that it wasn’t.

*The service. Despite how busy it was, the staff seemed pretty upbeat and unruffled. As someone who was a waitress for 15 years, I totally respect that. I also totally respect our server for not slapping me, as I was That Girl who, in the span of 30 seconds, changed her damn order three damn times because she couldn’t damn well decide on what she wanted to eat, dammit. Sir who was waiting on us, I am so, so sorry. I promise I will never do that again.

The Cons:

*The wait. Fair warning: If you show up for brunch and you don’t have a reservation, expect to wait. Quite some time. Granted, they kindly usher you over to the standing bar so you can have a cocktail while you wait, but still, you’ll be on your feet for some time before you sit. That’s a bummer only because it’s that much more time that you’re watching heavenly plates of food trundle by you and it takes all the strength you have not to clothesline a server and steal whatever is in their hand, licking the plate clean before they come to.

What?

I didn’t actually do that, you guys.

I just….thought about it.

*The drinks. More specifically, the drink prices. The drinks themselves were delicious, I have no qualms about that. They just seemed ever-so-slightly overpriced, IMHO. I know they’re using buzzword-esque ingredients, but had they been a buck or two cheaper, I probably would have ordered a second one. I’ve been around the block (and by block I mean bars) enough times to know the sweet spot of price points, and the Publican is just slightly missing the mark.

*Errm….hmmm… To be honest, I’m trying to think of a third con to keep things even. But I really can’t. I guess maybe if you’re not a fan of communal tables, you probably wouldn’t like this joint? Because the majority of seating is at long, wooden communal tables. But I enjoyed that aspect, personally.

Overall, my rating, on a scale of One to Go?

Go.

One restaurant down, 11 more in the queue.