Tag: restaurant reviews

That Year End Food Post: Best, Favorite, Worst & Most Annoying In 2018

Each year I go back through my photos and narrow my dining experiences down to my 10 (or so) favorites to create my “best of” lists. My favorite dishes aren’t necessarily the fanciest or the newest. They’re just my favorites. Here’s a run down of memorable dishes from the year.

The Best:

All of the cocktails and snack plate, Vikre Distillery, Duluth, MN: Most of the time I’m disappointed when I order a signature cocktail. Something’s usually off-balance and I wish I just ordered a classic. This has not happened here. Everything’s good, even when it sounds strange. The snack plate is a ridiculous deal for the price; it comes loaded with spreads, cheese, smoked fish and meats, candied nuts and the best pickled beets ever. It’s better than any cheese plate I’ve ever ordered, well, anywhere. The NA cocktails are also good! Post on Vikre here

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The Ten Best Things I Ate During 2014 (Plus Some Very Honorable Mentions)

At Jeni Eats, I proceed into 2015 without a list of New Years Resolutions, except for these three goals: To spend 2015 “doing strange things with weird people,” to keep food blogging fun, and remain delightfully imperfect. From our household to yours, we wish you good things in 2015 and thank you for joining us here.

family photo

We tried to take a family photo

I had a difficult time summarizing my eleven favorite recipes from 2014, but found choosing my favorite foods was even more challenging. Here’s my best attempt at selecting just ten, plus a handful of very honorable mentions.

Top 10 Favorite Foods:

Dining at a table set for 2,000 was truly a once in a lifetime experience. Chef James Baker’s menu of honey-ginger-soy chicken, beans and rice, and spicy Ethiopian vegetables was one of the freshest and most flavorful meals I ate all year. You can try recreating the chicken and vegetables yourself with these recipes published in the Star Tribune. I did, but Bakers’ was still better.

Meal Serving Collage

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When I work in Mitchell County, I like to check out the daily hot lunch specials served at the Mennonite-owned and operated Kountry Kupboard. Half of the store sells groceries like baking supplies, homemade nut butters, cheeses and other bulk-food items while the other half functions as a cafe. I was most excited about a Friday fried fish special. The coating was flavorful and super crispy while the fish was moist and flaky. Fried fish is one of my favorite treats and this was the best (or eat least tied with Ward 6).

Each meal comes with the softest and fluffiest butterhorn rolls. The meatloaf is also fantastic. It’s better than my meatloaf and I make really good meatloaf.

Peppermint Ice Cream Bar

Cristen chose the Bauder Pharmacy Peppermint Ice Cream Bar as her favorite Iowan food in Iowa Bloggers Speak: Favorite Hometown Restaurants. We finally got to try the peppermint bar and meet Cristen at our first visit to the Iowa State Fair. The bar is layered with the creamiest ice cream imaginable and somehow, the combination of ice cream, peppermint, and Oreos didn’t strike us as too sweet.

  • Pastry Chef Diane Yang’s Lemon Curd Mousse Dessert at Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Lemon Dessert wm

You may recognize this dessert because I just wrote about visiting Spoon and Stable over Christmas week. We liked the tart lemon flavor and fresh pineapple. Each bite brought a different texture and temperature. Basically, it was like magic.

Shrimp

My cousin Brian and his family live near Calumet Fisheries, a small seafood smokehouse at the edge of the 95th Street Bridge. The bridge was featured in The Blues Brothers movie, while the restaurant was featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. We tried two varieties of smoked fish and smoked shrimp, enjoying everything immensely. However, the shrimp stood out. They weren’t overly smoked and had a firm texture like lobster. They tasted especially good dunked in the mild hot sauce.

More Chicago posts: Part I (includes Calumet) and Part II

  • Whole Fried Fish With Three-Flavors Sauce from Bangkok Thai Deli, Saint Paul, Minnesota 

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Thai restaurants have come and gone in the Twin Cities since we moved to Fargo in 2010, but our favorite is still Bangkok Thai Deli. We visited them when they were located in the back of that small grocery store with a shiny, mosaic chimney and we continue to stop by now that they’ve relocated to the old Burger King. On Valentine’s Day, we shared this whole, fried fish served in three-flavor sauce.

The fish skin is crispy and the sauce tastes sweet, sour, savory, and spicy. Bangkok Thai Deli also makes Jake’s favorite version of Pad Thai.

pork signatures supper club

Signatures Supper Club catered a work event where they served grilled butterfly pork chops. They tasted so much more moist and flavorful than this phone picture depicts. Of all of the pork tenderloins I tried during 2014, this was my favorite.

Fried Pickles WM

As part of the Webster City Bloggers Tour, we ate lunch at Grid Iron Grill. Owner Burk Risetter treated us to fried pickle chips with [good] ranch, of course:) I kept going back for more. Risetter takes pride in the care his cooks take in hand-breading most of their appetizers instead of purchasing frozen, pre-made products. We tried a variety of appetizers and dishes and could tell the difference.

More Webster City posts: Part I & Part II. Part III coming soon. 

I stayed at Country Heritage as part of the Franklin County Harvest Bloggers Tour in the fall. Our hosts prepared a lovely soup supper complete with three different choices. Jake and I loved Lacey’s scratch-made beef and vegetable soup with garden green beans and tender beef. We were surprised to learn this was the first time she ever prepared it. We also enjoyed a memorably good beef soup at City Limits Eatery in St. Ansgar. Beef soups often bore me or taste like tinned stock, but City Limit’s one was also scratch-made and perfectly balanced. Their salad bar was also my favorite of the year.

Papa's

This sandwich surprised me by being so compelling. Normally I hate boneless skinless chicken breast, but my friend Amy was right-on with her recommendation. I liked the flavor of the Greek seasoning blend that coating the chicken and the Greek salad topping. The fries are crispy and the ranch is good, too. what can I say? Ranch like North Iowa’s second ketchup.

  • Jake’s Pick: Poc-Chuc Taco from the Taco Joint, Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois

Amazing Taco

When we visited Chicago in April 2014, the Poc-Chuc taco was the Taco Joint’s special Monday taco. The griddled, marinated pork loin, habanero salsa and crunchy radish made for an addicting combination. Jake liked it so much, he returned for more during a business trip. I no longer see the Poc-Chuc tacos listed on the Taco Shop’s current menu, so you’ll have to ask if it’s still available.

Honorable Mentions
Let’s be real. It’s impossible to stick with only ten favorite tastes. Plus, I already cheated by giving Jake a pick. Here are seven more very honorable mentions.

Red Pepper Hummus

The 1910 Grille is a restaurant we visit for special occasions or bring our families. It’s unique to dine in the only operating Frank Lloyd Wright hotel. When Jake’s family spent the day in Mason City, ordered their red pepper hummus as an appetizer. I was expecting it to taste like the typical versions I’ve eaten before, but their hummus was so much better. We liked the fried pita triangles and the dip’s garlicky and slightly spicy punch.

Hashbrowns, LD’s Filling Station, Mason City, Iowa 

LD's Collage.jpg

LD’s is the first Mason City restaurant where I found hashbrowns listed as side potato option. I’ve since found that hashbrowns are a common side in North Iowa. They’re served with any meal of the day and I’ve yet to find ones that aren’t served crispy. LD’s makes my favorite, crispiest version.

More reasons why I like LD’s.

Beth Snack mix

I’m going to make the bold claim that Beth’s snack mix is the best snack mix ever. Travel With Sara and I nibbled on it all the way to Springfield, Illinois, and, when she gave me a tin for Christmas, I squirreled it away so I could enjoy it without Jake’s interference. This occurred during the week he wanted to eliminate gluten from his diet, so I feel less bad about not offering him a taste. This snack mix is so addicting because it’s seasoned with dill and contains a big variety of snacks.

Butchers

Jake and I enjoyed our first pork tenderloin sandwiches at Butcher’s Steakhouse. What I enjoyed the most were their thin, hand-battered onion rings. These types of onion rings are all too rare and so very special. Of course, they were served with ranch.

  • Pasta Salad from Cafe Moxo, Springfield, Illinois

Cafe Moxo

Sara and I enjoyed a lot of memorable food in Springfield, Illinois, but one of our favorites was this pasta salad from Cafe Moxo. I ordered too many fried foods on this road trip, so this vegetarian sandwich tasted especially refreshing. This pasta salad was tossed in a light dressing and contained fresh slivers of cucumber and feta.

More Springfield posts: Springfield Ghost Walk, Road Food, Attractions

bbq

Val of Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids is one of the first Iowa bloggers I met. She’s also a talented cook who introduced me to my first ham ball. Her baked potato dip is silly good and her baked beans are the best I’ve ever tasted. I don’t state this lightly, as they really, truly are. We enjoyed them during the Harvest Bloggers Tour and hear they’re legendary in Franklin County. You can find the recipe on her blog. They contain a secret and surprising ingredient.

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I returned to The Burnsville Center, my childhood mall, for this taste of nostalgia. While I’m unsure if the ownership has changed since our last visit with my mom, the Philly Bomb tasted exactly the same. I had more fun writing this post reminiscing about the 90’s mall experience than any other. Sometimes the most satisfying posts are the ones we write for ourselves.

My Most Read Posts Written During 2014

1. Thoughts On Our First Naturebox Snacks

2. My Knoephla Soup Recipe: A Taste of North Dakota In Iowa

3. Ipsy Glam Bag Review, April 2014 (followed by March, February & January)

4. My First Membox: A Korean Tries Korean Beauty Products

5. Introducing The Every Bar In Mason City Quest

6. How To Make The Perfect Frozen Pizza

7. Iowa Bloggers Speak: Favorite Hometown Restaurants

What was one of the best things you ate during 2014? 

Springfield, Illinois Road Trip: Food Edition

We ate well in Springfield.

As I mentioned in my last post about chasing the Lincoln ghosts, I had the opportunity to join Sara of Travel With Sara on a road trip to Springfield, Illinois last week. The Springfield Illinois Convention and Visitors Bureau graciously invited Sara to visit and provided our lodging, activities, and restaurants.

This was our first time in Springfield, so we left the restaurant choices in the bureau’s hands.

Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery
This microbrewery and restaurant is located in renovated homes from Lincoln’s era. The original home owners were actually the Lincolns’ close friends.

The inside of the restaurant features elegant rooms decorated in various themes. It’s almost like Jay Gatsby opened a restaurant inside his mansion and charged affordable prices.

We saw people enjoying the outdoor seating whenever we passed by the brewery. There’s something about watching people enjoy food and libations al fresco that always makes me feel cheery.

Obed Collage.jpgFish and chips is one of my favorite treat meals. I ordered the single portion which included a decently-sized fillet on top of a big pile of battered fries. The fish was coated in a shatteringly-crisp beer batter that wasn’t too greasy. I doused everything in lots of malt vinegar. The side salad with balsamic dressing helped cut the fried foods.

For dessert, Sara shared her bread pudding with me. I lean towards salty flavors, so one bite of a dessert is typically enough, but I found myself finishing everything she left on her plate.

Cafe Moxo
Cafe Moxo is a popular downtown lunch spot. The line was long but moved quickly. If you arrive during a weekday lunch rush, try to decide what you want to order before you get in line. The line really does move that quickly! I didn’t want to hold up the line so I ended up blurting out Light As A Feather Heather, the first sandwich that came to mind.

“What kind of sandwich is that?” Sara asked.

“I have no idea,” I replied, and I really didn’t.

We easily found a table in the back room and it was peaceful in contrast to the busy front counter. The cafe must do a brisk take-out business for downtown employees. Our food quickly arrived quickly. We both chose the bag lunch option for $10 that included a whole sandwich, chips or pasta salad, beverage, and cookie.

Cafe Moxo

My sandwich was composed of salad greens, cucumber, tomato, shaved red onion, brie cheese, and creamy dill spread. I liked that the cheese and spread provided satisfying richness. The pasta salad was so light and refreshing that we schemed about how we could recreate it at home throughout the entire trip.

Cozy Dog Drive In
Sara and I got our kicks on Route 66 in the form of Cozy Dogs.

I’ve seen the western portion of Route 66 featured on many blogs and television shows, but did not know it began in Illinois. This drive in’s claims to fame are that it’s located on Route 66 and invented the corn dog. Cozy Dogs first appeared at the Illinois State Fair in 1946, and the Drive In was relocated to its current location in 1996. The interior looks like an old-fashioned diner, featuring festive, pink tabletops and memorabilia.

Sara and I ordered two Cozy Dogs, two small orders of fries, cheese sticks and a soda and were surprised when our order did not top $10.

Cozy Dog Collage.jpg

The server explained that their burgers are made from local beef and their fries are cut in-house each day.

Our freshly-dipped and fried corn dogs were a treat. The batter had an interesting seasoning that I couldn’t put my finger on. Too bad I was too full to go back for seconds.

Mary Todd Lincoln Loved Food
One my favorite pieces of knowledge I gleaned in Springfield was from a National Park Ranger at the Lincoln House who said, “Mary Lincoln thought of cooking as a hobby, not a chore.” She added that Mary was known for starting as a terrible cook but kept practicing until her skills became a source of pride.

Right before the Lincoln family moved to Washington upon Abraham’s inauguration, Mary had bought a new stove which is still displayed in their home. This model was the hottest model back in Mary’s time and our tour guide said she was sad to leave it behind.

Mary Kitchen Collage.jpg

The photo to the upper right shows Mary’s original cake platter. She often baked cakes for family and visitors and is especially known for her white cake made with ground, blanched almonds and egg whites.

I found this Mary Lincoln tea towel in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum & Library gift shop. If I hadn’t visited Springfield, I would never have known Mary Lincoln tea towels were a thing, nor how badly I needed one.

The only thing I regret about our Springfield food adventures in not having enough time to try more restaurants. We fit in as much as possible within 36 hours.

There’s so much to eat in Springfield. Next time I’ll try an iconic Horse Shoe Sandwich or pop into a chili parlor. For now, I’ll settle for baking Mary Lincoln’s cake and plotting my return.

Thanks again Springfield Illinois Convention and Visitors Bureau for hosting us!

Iowa Bloggers Speak: Favorite Home Town Restaurants

Connecting with other bloggers is my favorite part of blogging. I mention this often because it’s true.

Iowa Bloggers Speak.jpgI’ve always wanted to create a Q & A series featuring other bloggers. I’m often inspired by the creative questions posed by people on Chowhound or reader polls on Eater that illicit storytelling and restaurant recommendations. Hopefully, this will become a regular feature in which my blogging friends from Iowa and beyond tackle new questions.

I published a Q & A in 2012 where North Dakota bloggers shared food haunts that they tasted once and haven’t found since. This time, I wanted to feature bloggers from my newest home state. I asked them to share their favorite food find from their current home city and here’s what they said:

Monica ProfileJohnny & Kay’s Original Steak DeBurgo, Des Moines
Growing up in Des Moines in the late 60s/early 70s, especially if you were a south sider like I was, there is a good chance you probably ate at Johnny and Kay’s. The hallmark of long gone Hyatt House Hotel, Johnny and Kay Campiano were the king and queen of fine dining. Their signature dish, one often recreated, is their famous Steak DeBurgo. There is a lot of dispute around town as to the origin and recipe of this amazing creation, but Johnny and Kay’s is widely regarded as the true inventor. Succulent medallions of beef filet mignon, cooked to perfection and draped in the simplest of sauce- butter, garlic and basil, brings back so many wonderful memories of eating there as a child.

My mother worked there ages ago and often made this at home as well. Believe me, she KNEW the secrets of those amazing chefs in the tall white toques and starched jackets. The dish is still available in several local restaurants around Des Moines, but none are the same, and NONE are Johnny and Kay’s Original Steak DeBurgo.

I’m a foodie, wine lover, mother and grandmother transitioning from city life to country life, taking life with a sense of humor. I blog City Girl, Country Life & Rockin’ the Kitchen. You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

Sheryl Eat Play Des Moines ProfileSecond Saturday Dinner at Proof Restaurant, Des Moines
Every Second Saturday of the month, Proof Restaurant in downtown Des Moines hosts their aptly named, Second Saturday Dinner.  This isn’t an ordinary dinner though, it’s a 10 course, blind, shared (each meal must be shared with a partner) meal. So you have no idea what you’re going to eat beforehand, but it’s always out-of-this-world. This is a photo of a Second Saturday meal a few months back. The meal is priced at $100 per couple and we look forward to the second Saturday of each month for this meal!  During this particular dinner, the steak tartare was quite memorable as was a béarnaise-deviled egg at the following month that I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to replicate at home ever since!
Sheryl Eat Play Dine Des Moines Photo

Sheryl is the founder of Eat, Play, Love Des Moines.  Started in February of 2013, Sheryl blogs about where to eat, things to do and everything else that is Des Moines.  A Boston transplant, Sheryl started EPLDSM to show off all the great food and fun she found in Des Moines after living here for 8 years. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.

matt_and_lissahDella Dolce, Clive
Della Dolce has become a real favorite of ours since it opened late 2013. Every delicious pastry and sweet delight is made from scratch and served up with love in the beautifully posh, yet homey, shop. 
Catherine is a true owner/operator pleasantly greeting customers and helping them choose between all the fantastic options. Della Dolce is a true bakery with all kinds of pastries, cookies, and cupcakes.
Della Dolce, Iowa Food Blog
With so many great choices, its difficult to choose just one. 

Matt and Lissah Beglinger live in Waukee with their two young daughters. Lissah is an Iowa native while Matt is an Iowa captive, transplanted from California. Their adventures in Iowa food can be found at: http://iowafoodblog.com, Faceook & Twitter. 

cristenThe Bauder’s Pharmacy Peppermint Bar, Iowa State Fair
The most memorable time of the year for me is in August at the Iowa State Fair. At the Fair I get to exhibit baked goods, show hogs with my family, see friends I don’t see often and submerge myself in the pinnacle of Midwest festival food culture on a little less than 500 acres on the east side of Des Moines. I love the Fair, I’ve worked for the Fair, I’ve attended every single day of the Fair in the past 10 years, no lie.  Since the 1950’s my Grandparents have had the same camping spot there too. I obsess about the food quite a bit throughout the year and there is one specific Fair-time treat that never slips my mind.  It is “The Bauder’s Pharmacy Peppermint Bar.”

This year on a chilly February day I set out to make my own version of this rich yet refreshing treat, and I’m pleased to say it was spot on!  Making custard based ice cream from scratch and the addition of delicious peppermint candies was what put this confection over the top.  I hope you share this recipe with your family and make it to the Fair to enjoy this pretty-pink cold ‘sandwich’.  You’ll squeal!  (The Bauder’s Pharmacy Peppermint Bar is found at the Bauder’s Pharmacy Trailer outside the west end of the Agriculture building at the Iowa State Fair). 

Cristen Clark is a kitchen loving-contest cook Mom of two residing in the Midwest with her husband Mike and quite a few feisty pigs.  She has a love for all things ‘baked’ and a passion for reliving heritage food memories.  She blogs tales of her family’s agricultural life and outlines contest winning recipes at her blog Food & Swine. Connect with her via Facebook and Twitter as well.

Jenny HeadshotThe Coffee Corner, Washington
I chose to share a great coffee shop we have in Washington called The Coffee Corner.  Owners Gina and Mike are terrific and they brew and blend up great caffeinated drinks. I love their blended drinks. Gina always asks me what flavor I want and sometimes I tell her to surprise me. I am never disappointed!

Several coffee clubs meet there daily. When the coffee clubs have left for the morning it’s a nice place to sit, sip a little java and read a magazine. If you don’t need a jolt of java they also serve up great fruit smoothies, too. Here is my nod to their great icy blended drink.

In kitchen with Jenny smoothieJenny R. Unternahrer is a stay at home mom of two girls. She’s been married to her husband for over 21 years.  She loves to cook and share recipes! Check out her recipes at www.inthekitchenwithjenny.com or Facebook.

Kelli headshotZoey’s Pizza, Marion
Zoey’s Pizza, located on the corner of 7th Avenue and 10th Street in Marion, IA, is a must-visit, classic pizza joint in the heart of Marion’s Uptown District. The atmosphere is that of a retro diner, and the pizza, appetizers, and famous “Zookie” are out of this world. Beware: the pizza is not for the faint of heart. They are loaded down with cheese and toppings (and therefore, calories!), and it’s recommended to order conservatively.

Seating is very limited inside Zoey’s, and on a Friday or Saturday you won’t find a seat anywhere. In fact, calling in a pizza to-go on a weekend might require at least a 90 minute wait. However, arriving early – around 5 p.m. – might earn you a seat or a to-go order within 30 minutes. City Square Park is just across the street, and many times we’ve ordered a pizza to go and enjoyed it in the park.

kelli pizza photo Our favorite pizza to order is a small New York Thin Crust half pepperoni and pineapple, half beef and green olives. Plus a side of cheesy garlic bread with marinara on the side.

Kelli is a city homesteader who blogs about she and her husband’s self-sufficiency pursuits, gardening, cooking {mostly} from scratch, and urban agriculture at The Sustainable Couple. Find her on Facebook.

Coffee Cat

Coffee Cat, Mason City
If forced to choose an absolute favorite place in Mason City, I’d choose Coffee Cat. I never get tired of sharing why it’s my favorite coffee shop. For one thing, it’s an independent coffee shop attached to a bookstore owned by one of the most sincerely nice people in the city. 

Coffee Cat sells homemade Chai tea and I order a cup each visit. It’s more like the Chai at Verdant Tea in Minneapolis, MN than those cloying powdered mixes or liquid concentrates. They’ll offer to sweeten it with honey or vanilla since it’s got a spicy kick. Although they don’t serve savory foods, they make their own baked goods and frosting from scratch. I’ve seen Guinness chocolate cake around Saint Patrick’s day and even vegan bars.

The Coffee Cat’s music could be my soundtrack. Cat schedules a lot of live music and their background music is perfect for writing. I knew I was in the right place when I heard the Alabama Shakes.

Do you have any burning questions you’d like us to answer next? Feel free to leave a comment below. 

Not Friday Favorites: North Iowa Food Finds

I enjoy everyone’s Friday Favorites posts. It may not be Friday, but here are some of my favorites:

LOCAL FOOD

We’re charmed by LD’s. It’s tucked away in what looks like a warehouse and is motor vehicle-themed. The restaurant’s vibe reminds me of a tiki bar even though it isn’t tiki-themed. I think it’s because the atmosphere is laid back and the servers are so friendly. They may call you “honey” or “sweetie” and this always makes me happy.

We like LD’s shredded hashbrowns. They are so crisp on the outside and non-greasy that I can’t think of any restaurant that’s made them better. LD’s serves them all day and you can order them as your choice of potato. 

LD's Collage.jpg

LD’s is crazy affordable and friends have spoken well of their Saturday breakfast buffet. You will notice their full bar, but don’t go making a fool of yourself (like me) by trying to order a martini. Stick with domestic beer or a gin and tonic if you are feeling especially fancy. 

In Mason City, Happy Hour specials may or may not also be known as Early Bird specials. Prime and Wine offers an early Bird menu every evening between 4:30-6:30pm and a date night menu on Thursday evenings where couples can select an appetizer, two entrees, dessert, plus complimentary salad and texas toast for $32.

These specials are popular, so if you want to go on a Thursday or Saturday evening without a reservation, arrive early in case there’s a wait.

IMG_1592On both visits, Jake ordered steak which arrived cooked as requested (medium-rare) and sat in a pool of flavorful pan juices. The side salads included thoughtful touches like bell pepper rings, hand-cut carrot coins, and hard boiled egg halves. Diners also receive a complimentary basket of garlic Texas Toast that we used to soak up all of the steak juices.

Jake’s kryptonite is saganaki (not on date night menu) that the servers flame tableside.

Prime and Wine’s early bird/date night specials are amiable option if you want to enjoy the full experience of an upscale, sit-down meal at a more affordable price. The kitchen doesn’t seem to cut corners and the staff is polished.

Working part-time in Osage has given me the opportunity to explore Mitchell County. With a population of around 3,300, Osage fosters a vibrant main street with very few vacant store fronts. For lunch, I enjoy ordering the daily lunch specials from Kountry Kupboard and Teluwat.

The Mennonite-owned and operated Kountry Kupboard is divided between a small grocery store and cafe. One day, I’ll try their peanut and almond butters they grind on location. Daily lunch specials feature comfort food like pot roast and mashed potatoes or this meatloaf meal that came with glazed carrot coins, “sweet salad,” and pillowy-soft butterhorn rolls.

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I am very proud of my homemade meatloaf but admit theirs might be better than mine. A full lunch costs around $8, but is enough to last me for two meals and sustains me through a long work day.

Teluwat’s Osage location is faithful about posting their daily lunch specials on Facebook. I typically choose from their chalkboard lunch combination specials. The best deal is probably their 1/2 club + choice of soup or salad for $4.99. I received a huge half sandwich filled with thick slices of ham and turkey, cheese (not American), lettuce, tomato and mayo on hearty wheat bread and a generous cup of wild rice and chicken soup. It’s not the most exciting sandwich you’ll ever eat, but it’s much better than it has to be and the price is unbeatable for the quality of food.

Last week, my fish sandwich came with these waffle fries.

Teluwat Fries

They look like boring, old waffle fries, but their delightfully crisp bite and addicting seasoning salt made them stand out from any other. I’d love to bring Jake here to eat dinner here sometime and branch out from the lunch menu.

One of our favorite date night spots is Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant. We feel like we should branch out and try some of the other Mexican restaurants in town, but Las Palmas is comforting to us. I’m not sure it’s possible to find foods like posole or tortas in our community, but we like how Las Palmas offers items that vary more than typical burritos and enchiladas. Sometimes we branch out and sometimes we don’t.

las palmas favorites.jpg

Best of all, the service is friendly. We always sit in the bar area and the bartender always remembers us and never forgets our favorite beverages.

ODDS & ENDS

    • I have a House of Cards problem. I felt bored during the first two episodes and then it was like what the heck happened? It’s 1:30 am and I just watched seven episodes in a row! As I write this post, I have three episodes left in Season Two. It’s bittersweet as I’ll be unwillingly left at a cliffhanger until Season Three is released, but I’m relieved that I can do some other things with my time.

CheeseWhen I was a student in Wartburg College, I occasionally bought this jarred queso produced in Iowa City. For, I’ve tried an embarrassing number of jarred queso dips and this is still the best tasting and spiciest I’ve found.

It’s located in Hyvee’s refrigerated section which implies it’s made out of real cheese, or at least ingredients that will decompose. New Pioneer Co-op sells it and they are very picky about the products they carry. It’s not cheap. A jar will run about $6.39 but it’s as good as I remember it since graduating seven years ago (yikes!). We enjoy it mixed with salsa and heated until warm.

Brenda Langton’s recipe for Baby Lima Beans With Polenta is one of my favorites. I add a hot pepper to make it spicy and serve with organic chicken sausage.

On the evening I made this meal, I served the polenta as a creamy porridge and, on the second evening, cut slices of the the leftover polenta and seared them. Definitely add the [optional[ parmesan cheese to the polenta for extra flavor.

Some of my other favorite recipes include the sesame, white balsamic and caesar salad dressings, whole wheat bread and lamb Spoonburger.

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