Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday is Beer Brewing Day

Herkimer Pub & Brewery
2922 Lyndale Ave S.
Minneapolis
612.821.0101

Few good things smell as bad or as powerful as beer does when it's being made. Chocolate cake, for example, smells pretty darn good before it's done. Same for spaghetti sauce. Beer on the other hand definitely goes through a ripe and nasty stage. When it's beer in giant vats, it's even worse, and, so, good friends, eat at the Herkimer if you like, but whatever you do, don't go there for Sunday brunch, because Sunday is the day they brew the beer, and, by rights, they really shouldn't even be open. They should make a sign that says, "Closed due to Stinkiness", and we'd all be grateful for the warning.

As it was, we didn't know. We smelled something wretched as soon as we walked in the door, each of us, separately, making our own stinky face (except for Jimmy, who disappointed us by arriving last and without so much as a nose-wrinkle). Because it was late and we'd already gone to one restaurant that wasn't serving food, we chose to ride out the stink. Keep it in mind, though, because I think if you came on a Saturday, you might leave with a better opinion of the Herk for breakfast.

Fern and I both ordered steak and eggs. I got mine over-easy and medium rare. Hers were over-hard and medium. My eggs were over-a-little-too-easy, even for me, actually, since the whites as well as the yolks slimed my plate. The steak was boring. It benefited from ketchup, and I don't even like ketchup.

Judy and Rachael got mushroom and swiss burgers with sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries compared favorably with those at the Blank Grills (which Judy referred to as "limp-dick fries"), and Judy ate her entire burger, which is a pretty high form of praise (although she did stay up all night burning calories, so she was probably starving). Rachael gave it a B. She didn't love the fries, but maybe she's eaten them somewhere better in the past. I haven't, but I'm a Northern animal.

Jimmy had the BLT, and liked it. He didn't like his side salad which came with a sweet dressing, but it looked pretty good to me. Jimmy's the wrong guy to judge a salad with anything sweet in it.

Our average was around a C+. We definitely won't be back on a Sunday. It's questionable whether we need to go there for food at all, but once that beer is done, their beer is definitely worth the trip as long as it's not stinky Sunday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Meat's Kitchen

Pete's Kitchen
1962 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80206
303.321.3139

So here I am, alone in a wonderful city that happens to have an embarrassment of riches in the breakfast department. Do I sit all by myself and wallow in loneliness, never enjoying weekend breakfast because I am without my club members? Well, yeah, sometimes. But not all the time. Sometimes I go out and experience my new city, and I've even begun recruiting new members into the Western Chapter of TCBC. Rejoice in the new city!

After my first experience of breakfast in Denver, I decided the only prudent thing to do was to try a breakfast burrito in as many restaurants in Denver as is humanly possible over a two year span (you know, in case Fern decides to visit me). I was able to convince one of my new classmates, Cathy, to join me in the fun. Two people does not a breakfast club make, but it's a start and it is WAY better than the lonely, sad guy eating breakfast at the counter by himself.

We met up at Pete's Kitchen on Saturday morning. Pete's Kitchen is your prototypical diner. Small, lots of tables crammed together, and line out the door. I was worried as I waited for Cathy to arrive that we wouldn't be able to eat EVER. I was also a little disgruntled when I was informed that I would not be seated until my entire party had arrived. I relaxed a little when I saw the reason for this policy, a ridiculously fast turnaround. Pete's has the service thing down to a science. There was no lingering at the table over a cup of coffee. No, you sit down, you order food, you eat, and then you leave. Period, end of story. They are a finely tuned machine.

When Cathy finally arrived (late because of a biking wrong turn), we were able to get a table immediately, and on the patio no less. I ordered the breakfast burrito and Cathy the hunter's breakfast. I was extremely excited for my burrito because it contained, bacon, ham, chorizo, AND gyro meat. I was ready to experience some sort of meat nirvana. While it was very good and filling, I realized that it is possible to have too much meat in you breakfast burrito. I barely even tasted the gyro meat as it was overwhelmed by the other meats, especially the chorizo. It was good and ginormous however. I didn't eat for the rest of the day.

Cathy ordered the Hunter's Breakfast. It looked like the perfect meal to eat right before one went out into the woods and sat in a cold deer blind for the next 13 hours. Not only would it keep you warm all day, but you wouldn't be hungry until the following evening. It contained eggs and meat on top of what appeared to be 9 pounds of hash browns. Despite her valiant efforts, Cathy could not finish her meal.

Overall Pete's Kitchen received a B from both club members. The food was good and plentiful. Pete's was down graded for their Bun-o-matic coffee and a lack of refills on the coffee. They are open 24 hours and I suspect I will come back one night after bar close, I'm sure that is where Pete's Kitchen really shines.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Lardon means Bacon Fat!

Barbette revisited

So, I'm not the type of person, who could comfortably order my breakfast with a side of bacon fat. I am, however, exactly the type of person who enjoys feeling a nice hunk of perfectly browned bacon fat melt in my mouth. I like the way it gives to my teeth and fills my mouth with rich bacon-y flavor without all of that awkward chewing you have to do with the meaty section of the bacon. I confess that even though I know that for health reasons I should cut the fat from my meat, I do sometimes slip a bite of pure fat into my mouth when I'm eating pork chops, because no other animal can do fat quite as well as the pig. Still, it's hard to ask for something so gross and bad-for-you in a restaurant -- which is exactly why I was so pleased to discover a new word this morning at Barbette. "Lardon" means fatty bacon, but it sounds completely refined and socially acceptable.

My meal was salad greens with poached eggs and a red wine vinaigrette and sauteed mushrooms and good sized pieces of lardon. I played a private game called "move those salad greens out of the way so I can find the bacon fat", and before I knew it my plate was empty and my stomach was nearly full. All I needed to complete the meal was a side of hash browns, which arrived like an advertisement for grated potatoes browned in a pan for breakfast. They were crispy and fluffy at the same time. God, I love Barbette. At first, I was afraid to stray from my beloved eggs Florentine, but my fear was unfounded, because I discovered a whole new world: one where you can ask for bacon fat without sounding like a disgusting pig.