Missouri: Eats and Treats

Prime 1000 Steakhouse
St. Louis

While staying at the Magnolia Hotel we’d asked at the concierge desk for a recommendation for dinner. We were told that if we walked up and down nearby Washington Avenue we would find every type of restaurant you could possibly wish for. We did not find that to be the case. We ended up at Prime 1000 after walking quite far and circling back to it after having put it as a “maybe” when we originally passed it.

It turned out to be a wonderful stop in. We had some very amazing steaks with great sides. I only remembered to take pictures of the salads because we were enjoying the meal and each other’s company so much. But I highly recommend stopping in if you are ever in St. Louis. You will not regret it.

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The Brewhouse
St. Louis

After visiting the Gateway Arch we stopped into the Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar at the Hyatt for lunch. At the recommendation of Sriram’s eye doctor we ordered up some St. Louis Toasted Ravioli – a local specialty. It was quite tasty, but I didn’t find it any more or less interesting than any other toasted ravioli I’d ever had. We also ordered the chili which came with delicious cornbread. It was a good stop, but the most noteworthy thing about our lunch at the Brewhouse is that it was where Sriram lost his favorite hat. A total bummer, and when we called to see if anyone had turned it in, no one had. Farewell great hat. I hope whoever wears you now loves you just as much.

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54th Street
St. Louis

In need of a snack before hitting the road we stopped into the 54th Street Grill. We ordered the fried pickles. These were tasty enough (deep fried anything usually equals tasty), but I can never rave about spears. I’ll never understand why anyone makes fried pickle spears when chips are so superior. Pickle-fryers of the world take note.

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Kauffman Stadium Hot Dog Stand
Kansas City

On our walkabout around the stadium we checked out the various concession stands to determine what we’d grab before heading back to our seats and the specialty hotdog stand definitely won out. I got the Royal Bacon Blue Dog, because I can pretty much never resist anything with blue cheese and bacon (the dog came with red onions, too), while Sriram got the All Star BBQ Dog (topped with pulled pork, cole slaw, pickles and BBQ sauce). They were both delicious (if not a little messy to eat). Definitely a big step up from the traditional ballpark frank.

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Arthur Bryant BBQ
Kansas City

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Our trip to Arthur Bryant’s was quite comical. Throughout the day, as we had driven around the Kansas City area, a wall claiming “World Famous” BBQ loomed over us. We had joked about it more than once. If we asked the Queen of England about this BBQ joint, would she have heard? How about the Pope? The fifth Beatle? Our guess was no. So when we left Kauffman Stadium in search of some Kansas City BBQ we couldn’t help but laugh when (with the help of our GPS) we landed under that giant sign heralding that World Famous BBQ. To its credit, it turned out to be pretty famous, at least among politicos and celebrities. Photos lined the walls of President Obama’s visits, as well as John McCain and Sarah Palin’s stop on the campaign trail. Even President Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter dined there. You can add the likes of Steven Spielberg and Jack Nicholson to the list.

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We got in line (it’s cafeteria style) and ordered a basic pulled pork plate. The food was so good that we found ourselves wishing that we hadn’t already eaten (though really no regrets about those hotdogs), as we only had room for a snack. There were three sauces available, but nothing beat the Original.

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It may not look like much, but believe me, if you ever find yourself nearby, Arthur Bryant’s is 100% worth the trip!

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From August 12 – October 15, 2014 my husband and I traveled the northern United States in my Honda Civic. Cross Country Civic was started (and will eventually be completed) to document our cross country adventure. All comments and questions welcome.

Illinois: Eats and Treats

Our time in Illinois was limited. All said, we only spent about 24 hours there. Still, we managed to get in two noteworthy meals, though for two entirely different reasons.

American Harvest Eatery
Springfield

We have often used Open Table on our trip to find interesting places to eat. American Harvest Eatery turned out to be quite the gem. The “about” info on Open Table began with, “Our goal at American Harvest Eatery is to offer our guests a dining experience that uses only the freshest ingredients, sourced from local farmers right here in Illinois.” That was enough for us to want to give it a try, and it did not disappoint.

Sadly, I did not take a photo of the menu, and as it changes frequently (sometimes daily), I can’t do much to describe most of these dishes, as my memory is not that good and the menu is completely different now. I’ll simply let the photos speak for themselves and tell you that the food was absolutely as good as it looks, and that the menu was so wonderful we ordered quite a bit. I will also note that we did indeed begin and end the meal with cheese – starting with the seasonal “cheese pot” and ending with an artisan cheese plate.

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It was definitely a wonderful dinner, and one of the highlight meals of the trip.

The next day, after touring the Lincoln Museum and visiting the cemetery, we couldn’t resist a stop at a Route 66 classic before heading out of town.

Cozy Dog Drive-In
Springfield

We didn’t need Open Table to find this gem as it was listed in our faithful travel companion, Road Trip USA. Home of the original corn dog, the Cozy Dog Drive-In certainly didn’t look like much from the outside:

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A Rte 66 marker greeted us at the door, and the restaurant was full of fun memorabilia (though to our great disappointment, no cozy dog bumper sticker for our roof box).

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We settled on a a couple of dogs and a basket of onion rings. Not exactly gourmet food, but it was a fun and tasty lunch stop. We’re off to St. Louis now. See you again soon.

Iowa: Eats and Treats

Our stay in Iowa was a short one – despite the many blog posts and the length of time it took me to write them, we were only there for one full day. A quick breakfast in the morning at a diner and then lots to do. There wasn’t so much worth blogging about as far as food goes, but for the sake of consistency I thought I would include a brief posting. So, to quote a fun movie, “without any ado what-so-ever…”

Murphy’s Bar and Grill
Riverside

Our stop into Murphy’s was more for curiosity sake than any real desire to have a meal there (you can read more about our stop in Riverside in my previous post). Still, since it was a rainy, miserable night, we were more than content with the greasy bar fare.

Our dinner consisted of a trio of appetizers: jalapeno poppers, wings and rings!

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Our deep-fried dinner certainly was not our healthiest roadtrip meal, but it was fine and served it’s purpose. Thanks Murphy’s!

Stay tuned as the blog finally moves on to some new states.

Minnesota: Eats and Treats

Northern Lights Restaurant
Two Harbors

When we first checked into the Two Harbors Lighthouse B&B, Rose gave us a stack of restaurant menus to look through for the area and a few suggestions based on her knowledge of the choices. After reading through the menus we decided on a place just a ways down the road. Northern Lights. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but had a wonderful view of Lake Superior and a lovely garden out back.

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We perused the menu while Oldies (real oldies – 50’s and 60’s) played on the radio. Oldies always make me smile and sing along. I ordered the creamy wild rice soup and the Swedish meatballs. Sriram ordered the Hunter’s Pie (This delicious Northern Lights Chef’s version of English Sheppard’s Pie consists of Elk, slow cooked in a special broth featuring rich brown ale. The Elk is then incorporated into a rich gravy including Peas, Carrots, Onions, Wild Rice, and Mushrooms, then served in a bed of our Homemade Irish Baked Potatoes, covered with Shredded Monterey Jack/Cheddar Cheese and baked til bubbly golden and topped off with a sprig of Rosemary and two Garlic-Herbed Breadsticks).

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The soup was very good (they take their wild rice very seriously here in Minnesota), as was the rest of my meal. Sriram’s Hunter’s Pie was outstanding. For dessert, we had the Norwegian Fruit Soup (served with a slice of Lefse – Made from dried fruits, fresh citrus, spiced with Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves and Brown Sugar). It was unexpectedly wonderful. Northern Lights is definitely worth stopping in. Good down-home type cooking in a lovely atmosphere. Definitely four thumbs up!

Voyagaire Lodge
Crane Lake

After we came back into port with our houseboat in Voyageurs National Park, we stopped in at the Voyagaire Lodge for lunch before moving on to other sight-seeing activities. We decided to give cheese curds a second try (after a disappointing first attempt back in Wisconsin), ordering the Jalapeno Cheese Curd appetizer. These definitely lived up to the reputation. They were lighter and cheesier than our last attempt, and the addition of jalapeno inside certainly didn’t hurt. They were served with a side of ranch and were quite tasty.

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For lunch, Sriram ordered the Walleye Fingers and I ordered the Pulled Pork sandwich.

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The pulled pork was as tangy and delicious as it looks, and I got it with the fruit cup instead of fries, to minimize the impact of the cheese curds. The walleye fingers (which I gave a try) weren’t half bad either. Not a bad stop for our first meal on land in a couple days.

Porter and Frye, Hotel Ivy
Minneapolis

Over our three days at Hotel Ivy, Porter and Frye became a quick favorite. We dined there on our first evening in town and then had each of our breakfasts there as that was what was included in our stay. Each meal was wonderful (and the staff were fantastic), but our first dinner was simply amazing.

For appetizers, Sriram ordered the Scorpian Shrimp (Cumcumber sour cream, hot pickles and sweet corn relish), while I ordered the Tomato Basil Soup (with mini grilled goat cheese sandwich). Sriram very much enjoyed the Scorpian Shrimp, and my tomato soup was light and frothy, and definitely hit the spot. The small grilled cheese was delicious, and the goat cheese added just the right flare (I’m a late-in-life convert to goat cheese, but now it ranks right up there with my favorites).

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Our dinners were equally lovely. Looking for something a bit on the lighter side, Sriram ordered the Hidden Streams Pork Shoulder Ramen (Yellow Miso, White Soy, Ginger, Lemongrass, Jalapeno, Cilantro, Tomato, Avocado and Rice Noodles), while I ordered the Hidden Streams Pork Chop (Chargrilled Black Peppercorn, Jalapeno Cheddar Grits, and Sweet Corn). Sriram thought his Ramen was excellent, but in need of hot sauce (which is the case 90% of the time). My pork chop was really big, but delicious. It was perfectly cooked and the grits were so creamy you could mistake them for mashed potatoes. And while it seems a funny thing to rave about, the corn was phenomenal. I don’t know what it was tossed in but it added a wonderful flavor to the entire dish. Well done, Porter and Frye.

Hell’s Kitchen
Minneapolis

We wandered over to Hell’s Kitchen the afternoon that housekeeping subtly booted us from our room at the Hotel Ivy (they were surprising us with a welcome package on our first city trip in weeks). Sriram had been to Hell’s Kitchen before and recommended it as a fun place for snacks. They have fun with the Hell jokes, in much the same way the Hoover Dam has fun with the Dam jokes (Move down the hall and get on the Dam Elevator, which will take you down into the Dam Exhibits, etc.)

I immediately liked Hell’s Kitchen. From the decor (dark, underground, lots of reds and blacks) to the unique menu descriptions, this was definitely my kind of place. A few of my menu favorites:

Hell’s take on the Juicy Lucy

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And Hell’s take on the Bloody Mary

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I was also amused by the Fromage-a-Trois (a variety of artisan cheeses with toasted baguette slices, and our [highly-addictive] Maple Bacon Chutney). In retrospect, I can’t for the life of me figure out why we didn’t order that. Oh well, perhaps next time. So what did we order? Junk! Delicious junk. Round three of cheese curds (State Fair Cheese Curds) and Buffalo Tots (tater tots tossed in buffalo sauce and served with blue cheese dressing).

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The snacks hit the spot, but I’d have to say that Voyagaire is still our favorite curd supplier. Still, Hell’s Kitchen is a fun stop.

Red Wing Brewery
Red Wing

The Red Wing Brewery was recommended to us as a really great place to get pizza so we decided to give it a shot. We had trouble finding it at first, but when we finally did, we were certainly glad we stopped in.

We ordered up breadsticks and the pizza that was on special that day, the Barbecue Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza (Pizza drizzled with Buchanan’s Sizzlin’ BBQ Sauce, cheddar cheese, crumbled beef, bacon and onions). Sriram also got a beer sampler, while I got Red Wing’s own rootbeer.

The pizza was fantastic (as were the drinks). We were actually surprised at how good the pizza was.

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But for me, it was the breadsticks that stood out. With apologies to the RWB (as some may not consider this a compliment), I’ll say they were as close as I’ve ever tasted to the original Pizza Hut bread stick. The Pizza Hut breadstick as it existed when I was in high school, which tastes nothing like the breadstick they serve today.

Everything about the breadsticks, from the flavor of the stick itself, to the dipping sauce, brought me back in time. Back to when Pizza Hut was a routine trip for me and my friends Jenn and Stacie for pepperoni pizza, salad bar, and breadsticks. Oh how I have missed those breadsticks. So thanks Red Wing! Misplaced nostalgia aside, if you ever find yourself in Red Wing, the Red Wing Brewery is a must.

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That’s it for the latest edition of “Eats and Treats” – we’re on our way to Iowa next! Ever been? Let me know if there’s someplace we should check out.

Two Harbors Light

Connecting our journey between National Parks (Apostle Islands and the upcoming Voyageurs) was a quick stop-over at the Two Harbors Lighthouse B&B in Minnesota.

The Two Harbors Light Station is the oldest operating lighthouse in the state of Minnesota, dating back to 1892. The B&B opened in 1999 to help fund the maintenance and upkeep of the buildings and grounds. They also run a small gift shop on the grounds to help funding as well.

In addition to the light tower, which has exhibits chronicling the history of the lighthouse, there are also exhibits in the Assistant Lightkeeper’s house, which has been restored to look as it would have in the late 1800’s, and in the Steamship Frontenac’s pilot house, which sits on the lawn, overlooking the lake. The Frontenac ran aground in 1979 on Pellet Island after encountering a sudden snow squall in Lake Superior, ending its career after 56 years in operation.

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We arrived shortly before 5pm and were greeted by our hostess, Rose. We were given a tour of the house, including our cozy room.

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Rose then gave us all the information we needed for our stay, and was on her way until morning. We explored the house a bit more on our own. In the main parlor New Kids on the Block crooned “Please Don’t Go Girl,” out of an old fashioned radio playing the American Top 40 from the late 1980’s. A mystery.

After settling in, we walked around the grounds for a bit, checking out the information in the lighthouse itself as well as the pilot house. The gift shop was closed, and it was getting late, so we headed down the road for dinner. By the end of our meal a lightning storm was starting in the distance. No rain or thunder yet, but large bolts of lightning. We decided it was time to head back.

Upon our return to the property 7 deer greeted us. They observed us as we passed, but otherwise paid us no mind. With the storm still raging on the horizon, we slipped down to the pilot house overlooking the lake. Though it never did rain, and we never heard a single boom of thunder, the storm put on quite the light show. We came back in and sat in the main parlor where we enjoyed cheese (from Benoit Cheese Company) and wine (from Trius Winery) before retiring for the evening.

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Breakfast the next morning was wonderful. It consisted of wild rice quiche (wild rice is apparently a local specialty), a frosted raspberry muffin, sausage, sugared grapes, and fruit salad (plus juice and coffee).

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Two other couples joined us. A couple we’d spoken to briefly the night before and another couple we were just meeting for the first time. The second couple (Stephanie and Ron, I think) were such fans of the B&B that they usually came each year on each of their birthdays, and sometimes on Valentine’s Day as well. High praise.

We all chatted over breakfast about our travels and Rose told some ghost tales about the B&B (there’s a journal in the living room where people have apparently written about various “incidents” – I opted not to read it).

At the end of the meal there were plenty of leftovers. Rose said we were welcome to take anything we wanted, and as we were heading to 3 days on a traveling houseboat, we opted to take her up on it. Loaded up with a bunch of muffins and some quiche, we checked out of the B&B to make our way to Voyageurs National Park. What a fun place to stay.

Wisconsin: Eats and Treats

We weren’t in Wisconsin very long. Less than 48 hours, but we managed to get in a few note-worthy treats anyway.

Hotel Chequamegon – Molly Cooper’s Restaurant
Ashland

We headed to the Hotel Chequamegon in Ashland for lunch on our one full day in Wisconsin. We had read about it in our faithful travel companion, Road Trip, USA and decided to give it a whirl. Patio seating was a must, as the view was too beautiful to pass on.

Before we could order, the dark clouds on the horizon began to get darker and we decided that it was possible we wouldn’t make it through the meal without being rained on, so we moved inside. After a review of the menu we ordered up some deep fried cheese curds. A local specialty always requires a try.

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I wasn’t very impressed. It was mostly just batter with just a touch of the curd inside. The batter was good, but with how these things are raved about (even our waitress went on and on about them), I expected more.

For lunch, I ordered the soup and salad combo – tomato soup with grilled ham and cheese. Sriram had the Northern Chowder – essentially clam chowder with rice. Both of our meals were good, but nothing fantastic. I’d rate it probably not worth the stop.

Benoit Cheese
Benoit

The best thing to happen at the Hotel Chequamegon was that as we were leaving a brochure for a cheese store happened to catch my eye. Since it was (sort of) on our way to our next location, we decided to make the detour. From the outside, the Benoit Cheese Shop doesn’t look like much. From the direction we came in, it didn’t seem to be near much else either. It was definitely an out of the way place that we never would have happened upon if not for the brochure.

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It was busy inside. There were 5 others in the small shop when we arrived. A couple was at the counter having a tasting and another group was waiting to make a purchase or two. Since we’d be waiting a bit, we decided to check out all the cheeses in the various cases. They had a very impressive collection of cheeses, as well as some other local products (honeys, candles, brick-a-brack, etc.). I loved this particular collection.

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We patiently waited and let a few people who had come in after us jump ahead of us since we’d be lingering and not just purchasing. It was worth the wait. When we finally had the chance to sample some of the cheeses, we were very impressed. Pam, who was super sweet and friendly, helped us out with the tasting. Not only did she offer some favorites, but asked about all of our preferences (another group did the tasting with us) in order to pull out other cheeses we might like.

There was really good variety. We started with a series of Goudas. As cheeses go, Gouda doesn’t necessarily top my list – still, they were quite tasty. We tried a few spicy varieties that were quite good. Sriram even tried the Ghost cheese. When I looked to him to see if I should give it a whirl, he merely shook his head. I passed. Our favorite ended up being a BellaVitano Raspberry. It was so delicious we purchased some before leaving. We also picked up some of their cheddar. It will definitely make for very nice snack over the next week. What a wonderful stop. And the best part? They have an online shop so I can order from home.

The Pickled Herring
Bayfield

Our final Wisconsin meal was at the Pickled Herring after our Apostle Islands Cruise. It was chosen predominantly because it was open and nearby when we docked. We were both rather hungry by then. We shared the “Appetizer Special” (Jalapeno Potato Bites served with Buffalo Cheese Sauce), which was quite tasty.

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Then I actually decided to go for it and get some fish – sort of. I ordered the Buffalo Fish Wrap (Fresh Bayfield Fish topped with Romaine Lettuce, Tomato and our Buffalo Relish – Crumbled Blue Cheese, Chopped Red Onion, Celery and Bacon) Wrapped in a Flour Tortilla with Buffalo Hot Sauce). I figured with all of that stuff in there, I’d barely be able to tell it was fish. That pretty much turned out to be true. It was quite good, with the “relish” bordering on outstanding.

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Sriram also ordered fish, and found his a little too fishy, but that’s apparently true of trout. So, not really the fault of the restaurant. Overall, it was a very good meal and the service was good. I’d definitely recommend a stop in.

Feel free to ask questions. And tell us about your great meals on the road.

Michigan: Eats and Treats

Including our time on Isle Royale, we spent 8 days in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We had some fantastic food, some average food, and a few meals not worth talking about at all. I decided that I’d only include some of the best. So here are my favorite eats and treats from our extended stay in Michigan.

The Galley
St. Ignace

The Galley was recommended to us by the desk clerk at our hotel as the restaurant in town to go to. Since it was a special occasion (we’d arrived in St. Ignace on our anniversary), we figured we’d give it a try. The parking lot was pretty deserted when we arrived, but it was on the later side so we didn’t necessarily take that as a bad sign. Inside wasn’t much to look at either, but we were tired, hungry, and ready for whatever their menu offered.

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Sriram ordered the pasty, a local specialty, while I opted for the prime rib. I didn’t have much hope for it, but I was told it was the best in town. My salad arrived. It was a basic side salad – nothing special. I was hungry and was hoping the prime rib would at least be passable. When it arrived it looked good. And smelled good. It came with horseradish sauce, which I opted to get on the side (horseradish is a flavor I like, but it can easily overwhelm food).

My prime rib was, in a word…perfect. Easily the best prime rib I’ve ever had. And the horseradish sauce (which is made in-house by the chef) was sublime. It was mild enough to not be overwhelming, but flavorful enough to be great. I opted to mostly not use it on my steak, as I felt the steak did not require assistance. But I stirred it into my baked potato and found it delightful. I liked it so much I was sure to tell the waitress to send my regards to the chef.

A great meal to welcome us to Michigan.

Joann’s Fudge
Mackinac Island

A stroll around an island definitely begs for an ice cream cone, so shortly after arriving on Mackinac Island, we stopped into Joann’s Fudge shop. After checking out my choices, I went with something a little different than my usual ice-cream preferences. For some reason, the Mint Chocolate Chip was calling my name. I ordered one up in a waffle cone (a treat, as I usually go for a kiddie cup). It was delicious, and enough to share. Mint chocolate chip may become a new favorite.

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Mary’s Bistro
Mackinac Island

After exploring the area, and with time to spare before the ferry, we opted to get dinner on the Island, choosing Mary’s Bistro for it’s proximity to the ferry dock and it’s outdoor seating on the lake. The outdoor seating turned out to be full, so we were seated indoors, but still had a nice enough view. We started with the housemade kettle chips and blue cheese dip (which seems to be a thing in this area – I’ve seen it on a few different menus). The kettle chips were pretty basic – not much on their own. But the blue cheese dip was outstanding. If you’re a fan of blue cheese, this would quickly become a favorite.

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Between the afternoon ice cream and the chips, we weren’t too hungry. We ordered one additional small dish from the appetizer menu (a delicious italian “eggroll” that was like a mini-calzone roll). A nice finish to our island adventure.

Jose’s Cantina
St. Ignace

Best. Tacos. Ever. I could leave it at that, but I won’t.

We had driven past Jose’s Cantina on our way into town and finally decided to stop in.

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The decor inside was bright and cheerful, and as is the way in all Mexican restaurants, we were given a basket of tortilla chips and salsa upon being seated. They were good – the usual. Sriram had a nice margarita while I stuck with water.

I checked out the menu and, having noticed a sign out front congratulating head chef, Robert Gallo on being voted “Best Tacos in Northern Michigan and the U.P.” – and being #5 in the state (I might have to try the other 4 sometime), decided to see if they lived up to the fuss ordered the Mango Habanero Chicken Tacos. The waitress said (and I quote), “Are you sure?” I laughed and said I was pretty sure, and asked if there was some reason I shouldn’t be. She told me they were quite hot. I told her that we hear that a lot (and it’s hardly ever true) but asked her to bring me a side of sour cream, just in case. Sriram ordered the vegetarian sampler.

Our food arrived. My tacos came in crispy shells that were made from soft tortillas. I have to admit, I expected Tortega. What a pleasant surprise. Easily the best taco shells I’ve ever tasted. I dug right in. They had some heat, but not too much. I later told the waitress that I thought they were the perfect level of heat for me, but that Sriram would have definitely added hot sauce. She laughed. Sriram’s veggie platter was so big it mostly became lunch the next day.

Our waitress was a little flakey, but when it comes to the food, I could not recommend it highly enough. Do yourself a favor – if you ever make it, order the tacos!

Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore
Munising

We stopped in the Falling Rock Cafe on our way to set up camp in Christmas. Falling Rock is a multi-purpose stop, serving sandwiches, salads, ice-cream and coffee. They also house an impressive array of new and used books, have free WiFi, and enough space to settle in for a bit if you’d like. After placing your order at the counter, you can find a seat at any number of charmingly mismatched tables to wait.

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I ordered up a sandwich and was disappointed to learn that they were out of the kale salad side that had caught my eye. They told me they’d have more later (or tomorrow), and that if I was so inclined, it was worth coming back for. I told them that I just might, and a couple days later, I did. It was. If you order it, be sure to get it with the goat cheese sprinkled on top.


The Ambassador

Houghton

At the recommendation of our ferry seat-mates Alex and Ian, we stopped over to the Ambassador Restaurant on the evening of our return from Isle Royale. The decor was fun, with large murals of celebrating-gnomes covering the walls and big green lanterns dangling from the ceiling. With a couple of pool tables thrown in for fun, it was easy to see why it was popular with the college crowd, though there was a good mix of patrons there upon our visit.

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Opting for our usual fare of pizza and wings when in a pub-type environment, we ordered our favorite “make-your-own” pizza – cheese with red onions, garlic and jalapenos. It turned out to be pretty good. Definitely hit the spot.

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Suomi Home Bakery and Restaurant
Hancock

While we were at the Finnish American Heritage Center, we had asked Jim for a recommendation for a Finnish restaurant. He said there weren’t really any good authentic options, but that the Suomi Restaurant came closest to at least having some Finnish influence. That was good enough for us, so we stopped in for breakfast. Sriram ordered the Pannukakku – a cross between a pancake and a custard.

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I opted for the Finnish French Toast. What makes it “Finnish” is the use of Nisu bread, a Finnish bread that is sweeter than other breads. I didn’t find it to be all that different than regular French toast, but enjoyed it very much.

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So, those were the best treats from Michigan. And since there were far more hits than misses, I’d say it was definitely a culinary success.

Ontario: Eats and Treats

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
Niagara Falls

Between our day time Niagara Falls viewing and the fireworks over the Falls we stopped into Ruth’s Chris for dinner. While on the road we don’t usually choose places we could dine in at home, but after not finding seating at a couple other places we wandered in and found bar seating. The design of the restaurant was actually very different from any other Ruth’s Chris I’ve ever been in. In the evening there would be live music and the bar area would essentially turn into a night club. A woman was walking around selling roses to diners. The ladies room had an attendant (which I always find strange), a shoe shining stand and a large variety of perfumes to choose from. It was all a bit bizarre.

We skipped our typical steakhouse fare in favor of salads (the Ruth’s Chris Chopped Salad for Sriram and the Harvest Salad for me), which both turned out to be terrific. For dessert, I ordered my favorite – the Berries and Cream. It’s definitely my go-to dessert.

The staff at the bar was great, and were the ones to give us the tip for the Trius Winery, so it was definitely worth the stop.

Niagara on the Lake Golf Club
Niagara on the Lake

In the morning we grabbed a couple of muffins at Tim Horton’s for a quick bite before heading to Niagara on the Lake where we eventually had lunch at the Niagara on the Lake Golf Club. We lucked out and got there just slightly ahead of the crowd so were seated at a nice patio table with a wonderful view of Lake Huron. The tables were same as the tables at one of my old favorite places, Cafe Shannon – which made me smile.

We ordered drinks. I got the special, which was a Mango Smoothie. It was ridiculously fresh and delicious.

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After reading through the menu, I decided I had to get the Baked Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese with Tortilla Chips. It was a warm dip and extremely good. It was different from any other warm cheese dip I’d had. Better, too. The cranberry added just enough tang, the walnuts added crunch, and the goat cheese was as wonderful as you’d expect goat cheese to be.

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For lunch Sriram got the fish and chips and I got a spinach sausage sandwich which must have been a special, as I can’t find it on their menu. My meal was amazing, and not only for the discovery that Canadians put bacon in their Caesar salads (brilliant – why do we not do this, America?).

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The service was a little slow, but they had seated the entire patio within 15 minutes of our arrival, so that was to be expected. Besides, when you are sitting someplace so beautiful, there is no hurry. We simply enjoyed the sailboats going by and the view of the fort over in the U.S.

Shipwrecked Lee’s
Tobermory

In Tobermory, after our tour boat adventure, we wandered over to Shipwrecked Lee’s. It seemed like an appropriate place to stop in. It looked like a lot of fun from the outside, and how could I resist a place advertising a beer called “Flying Monkeys” – even if I don’t drink.

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The atmosphere in the outside dining room was fun and festive. The staff were super friendly, some dressed in the restaurant’s pirate theme. Locals and tourists alike filled the picnic tables, staying out of the rain under the awning.

We ordered a strange array of items – Pepperoni pizza sticks (just because we kept seeing them on menus and decided to give them a whirl – they were a miss), mini vegetarian samosas (which were quite tasty), a jerk chicken dish (that was good, but the sauce was not quite as good as others we’ve had), some spicy corn on the cob (delicious), and poutine fries. The portions were really big, so we ended up with a bunch of leftovers that we packed into the cooler for a later date. I’d say a successful outing.

The Sweet Shop
Tobermory

After dinner we strolled over to the Sweet Shop. The shop was filled with the usual fare – fudge, brittles, candies of all sort. There was also a pretty extensive ice cream bar. We checked out the menu and noticed an item called a “Boston Cooler.” Intrigued I went to the counter and asked what it was. I was told it was ice cream and pop blended. Once my brain translated “pop” to “soda” I realized it was like a float, but put through the blender like a Frappe (or a milkshake for those not from the Boston area). Interesting. I asked why it was called a Boston Cooler, as after 41 years in Boston, I’d never heard of one, but no one in the shop knew. Sriram was intrigued enough to get one, while I opted for a cone. I ordered a creamsicle (orange sherbet swirled with vanilla ice cream) in a cone. It came in a wafer cone. A pointed wafer cone. In Boston wafer cones come with a flat bottom, only sugar cones come with a point. Fun and delicious.

Cafeteria
Chi-Cheemaun Ferry

Our final day in Tobermory started with some toast at the motel’s continental breakfast. Lunch was on the Chi-Cheemaun Ferry. The ferry has a pretty big cafeteria. The options were basic, but still more plentiful than any ferry I’ve ever been on. My last ferry ride was on the Provincetown II. I was riding it last January in the Virgin Islands, where it winters. I had a hotdog. I’m pretty sure the hotdog had made the trip south with the ferry. On the Chi-Cheemaun we each got a salad for lunch, and then after seeing the size of the bowl, split a bowl of chili. Our expectations for the chili were not high, but it turned out to be pretty good.

Tim Horton’s
On the Road

Before heading to the border, we stopped for one final treat on the road. Just as we had headed out of Massachusetts with a Boston Crème Donut, we thought it only appropriate to leave Canada with a Canadian Maple Donut from Tim Horton’s.

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Farewell Ontario!

Night at the Roxy’s Campground

Roxy’s Gas, Variety, Cabins & Tent Sites – scene of our second night of camping. May seem like an odd place to set up shop, but Roxy’s turned out to be a pretty great campground. We knew the campsites in the National Park in Tobermory were full for the night, but Roxy’s was only a short drive from our final destination, and they had tent spots available (their cabins were all sold out).

The owner Craig, and the store employee Alex, were super friendly and helpful. While Sriram picked out a site with Craig, Alex set me up with some firewood and kindling. Once the firewood was loaded in the car, I headed into the store for basic groceries and camping needs. I picked up a few supplies, and headed down to our spot.

Unlike our spot at Glimmerglass, Roxy’s wasn’t gravel, so that was certainly a plus for my feet. However, the sandy quality of the ground there made our tent not hold as taut, so that was a bit of a downside (the one problem with the style of our tent is the stakes aren’t just to keep the tent from blowing away, but are also key in the structural integrity). Still, we got the tent up, and then set out our camp chairs and began work on the fire.

One problem at Roxy’s (if you can consider natural things in nature a problem), while setting up I did notice an unusual number of spiders (well, daddy long legs, actually, which I realize aren’t technically spiders). Enough to be creepy. I found myself hearing Rupert Grint’s voice in my head as I worked. “Why spiders? Why couldn’t it be ‘follow the butterflies’?”

Once camp was set up we pulled out our camp stove to make dinner. Our dinner was pretty basic – a can of beans, a chopped onion, and a diced up potato, all made up in one pot. For seasoning we used Ms. Peppa’s Jerk Sauce, which is a crazy-authentic sauce that a friend of mine makes. She’s from Barbados. It’s legit. So, thank you Ms. Peppa for a great dinner.

Rather than dirtying up dishes just for dinner, we put the pot on a makeshift table between us in front of the fire and ate right out of the pot. Later, we sat by the “fire” for a while, but neither Sriram nor I have truly mastered the art of making a fire, so we eventually retreated out of the wind and into the tent. It was another chilly night under the stars, so we bundled up.

Our morning started rather abruptly the next day. We’d planned to reheat our leftovers from camp dinner as breakfast and spend some time reorganizing our camp stuff. Incoming thunderstorms put a quick stop to those plans and we broke camp as quickly as we could, finishing the last few items and packing up any way we could just before the rain set in.

Before heading out, we took advantage of the camp’s showers. I haven’t been to a ton of campgrounds, but enough to know that hot water is not usually an option. In my experience, it’s a good day when you have water bordering on luke warm. The showers at Roxy’s were hot, fairly clean, and had a really good set up (in fact, the National Park campgrounds don’t have showers, and send people down to Roxy’s – we only just beat the rush). The only downside was 2 minutes would cost you a Twooney. But, even though it was quick, it was a well spent $4.

If you’re ever in the area and need a place to stay, I’d definitely recommend Roxy’s.

New York: Eats and Treats

With our crossover into Ontario, we finally left New York behind. We’ve seen quite a bit already, and had some great food. I figured I’d post some highlights for those of you that might care about such things.

Depot Deli and Lakefront Restaurant
Cooperstown, New York

I previously mentioned the delicious sandwich I had at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival the first night. The next day in Cooperstown we started the day at the Depot Deli. We ordered bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches on Texas toast. They were a good start for the day – just a quick meal to get us going before our tour.

For lunch, at the suggestion of Jackie from the BHOF, we dined at the Lakefront Restaurant, at a table with a lovely view overlooking Otswego Lake. After looking over the menu, we decided we had to give their Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers a try. They are typically drizzled with a crab based sauce, but as I have a mild sensitivity, we got that on the side. Sriram said it was delicious. I enjoyed the peppers on their own.

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After the appetizer, I had the Cranberry Waldorf Chicken Salad Croissant (chicken salad with apples, cranberries, and walnuts served with lettuce, tomato, a side of potato chips and a pickle), and Sriram had the Roasted Beet Salad (spinach and kale with apple, cranberries, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and a fresh orange vinaigrette). They were both delicious. If you’re in the area, I would definitely recommend stopping in.

Dinosaur BBQ
Syracuse

The highlight of the day was certainly dinner. Our stop in Syracuse (on our way to Buffalo) was specifically to go to Dinosaur BBQ. The wait for seating was more than an hour (the place was packed), but we were told there were tables around back in the “Boneyard” which was essentially an outdoor bar with some shared picnic tables. We lucked out in getting a shared high top table to ourselves and looked over the menu. We decided on a combo plate to share. While waiting for the food to arrive, I checked out the variety of sauces – knowing I’d likely try them all. The choices were Wango Tango, Devil’s Duel, Garlic Chipotle Pepper Sauce, and Sensuous Slathering.

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When our order arrived it all looked fantastic. The combo consisted of pulled pork, smoked hot-link sausage, mac and cheese, black beans, and corn bread. We split the platter between us and each had a ridiculous amount of food.

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Everything was absolutely delicious, and as predicted, I tried all four sauces. Wango Tango was good, while Devil’s Duel and Garlic Chipotle Pepper Sauce had the most heat. The Sensuous Slathering was OK – it was sweeter than the others. My favorite turned out to be the Devil’s Duel.

It was a great stop, and easily the best BBQ I’ve ever had.


Top of the Falls

Niagara Falls

As mentioned in the Niagara post we lunched at the Top of the Falls restaurant. We got off to a good start with the loaded fries appetizer. Alison and I were both intrigued by the Barreled Over Burger. The menu’s description read, “Be adventurous! Gorge yourself with our signature burger hand-stuffed with WNY favorites! Angus Beef, Yancey’s Fancy Buffalo Wing Cheddar Cheese, Candied Bacon, Sweet NY State Apples, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Brioche Roll.” Despite it’s description turned out to be a bit of a dud – it mostly tasted like a plain burger, the “stuffing” was so limited. And despite the claim that it came with a free souvenir photo, we were never offered one, and forgot about it until it was too late. Sriram had the Beef on Weck and said it was quite good. But, despite it not being the best meal, the view was wonderful, and as that was mostly the point of eating there, I’d still recommend it to a friend.

The Anchor Bar
Buffalo

For dinner we journeyed back to Buffalo and The Anchor Bar – home of the original Buffalo Wing. I wasn’t sure if I was amused or frightened by our “greeter.” Probably both.

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As it was really crowded with an extended wait for tables, we opted to hang out in the bar with it’s fun and chaotic design and hoped for seats. We lucked out pretty quickly and settled in. We were intrigued enough by the Spicy Hot Chicken Wing Soup to each order a cup. It was really good, though more mild in flavor than the description implied. Still, it was hearty, and after a long, cold, damp day at the Falls it was a great way to warm up, so it definitely hit the spot.

After soup we shared a large order of wings (hot) and onion rings.

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The rings were very good, a little thicker than I prefer, but crispy and tasty with a nice dipping sauce. The wings more than lived up to their reputation. The heat was just right and they had perfect crisp. We agreed that they were indeed the best buffalo wings we’ve ever had.

If you like wings, it is more than worth the stop.

Duff’s Famous Wings

Buffalo

The next day we were up for more wings at Duff’s simply because we were there. I got my wings boneless this time round, and based on this warning, I ordered the medium.

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The sauce seemed a little tangier than the Anchor Bar, but it’s impossible for me to make a 1:1 comparison between Duff’s and the Anchor Bar because I got boneless wings at Duff’s, and it’s just not the same. Still, they were delicious, but despite the warning, I was very quickly asking for a side of the medium hot for more heat. But my tolerance is probably higher than most, so Duff’s probably has it right.

Sriram opted for the fried bologna sandwich and noted that it tasted like bologna, so I guess they got that right.

Other than some delicious Saranac Sodas (a creamsicle and a rootbeer) that we picked up at Dinosaur BBQ for the road, that was it for New York. Stay tuned for more sites and adventures and the next “Eats and Treats” installment.