Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve menu at Chez Vizz

I'm trying out two new recipes this evening. I've finally gotten my veggie-fearing fella, J, turned on to salads. Lettuce is his arch enemy, and I prefer spinach anyhow. So, a simple mix of baby spinach, julienne carrots, celery and hot house cucumbers in a red wine vinaigrette.

After that come the newbies: chicken breast stuffed with Italian sausage and breadcrumbs. And since I have a new set of ramekins I'm dying to experiment with, we'll be inviting my friend Billiam and his gal over to have dessert with us - molten spiced chocolate cabernet cakes.

I'm cutting a corner with the chicken - using pre-made bread crumbs instead of the stale sourdough it calls for. After all, I'm not spending $3 on a loaf of sourdough when I only need one slice. I'll post photos tomorrow once all of the holiday spirits are out of my system.

In the meantime, Happy New Year, eaters!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Lunch thief gets Kanye'd

Reposted from Serious Eats.

Who served the best heaping helping of BS?

DDN's Mark Fisher has published his "Best Dishes of 2009" list, and once again...pfffffffbbbbt.

I'm sure they're all very good restaurants, but they're also places most of us can't afford. So, why would your average Dayton resident care how great the food is there?
I'm sure you're waiting on me to offer up my thoughts on all of them. No, I couldn't. Really? Well, okay! If you insist.

China Cottage - This is probably the only one I partially agree with. Affordable and decent. But, North China just down the street on Far Hills in Kettering totally smokes them on food, service and value.

Meadowlark - I've been anxious to eat here since it opened, but it never seems sensible financially. A chopped salad is $11. There's no meat in that. Take note, local restaurantuers - this is what makes it hard for people to support local eateries.

L’Auberge - I honestly can't believe Dayton's economy can even sustain that place enough to keep the doors open.

Rue Dumaine - Not one entree under $20, save the occasional special.

El Meson - Sure, it's a great splurge. But suggesting the fajitas out of all of the other wonderful things on their menu?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New restaurants in ought-niner

Some webbernet friends and I decided to keep track of how many new restaurants we went to in 2009. The goal was to get to 25, but I was pleased as punch to reach 13. I may edit this post later with my full (read: very long-winded) reviews, but here's a quick re-cap.

1. Flavors Eatery in Centerville, Ohio - 4 out of 5 sporks
2. Pacchia in Dayton, Ohio (Oregon District, during Restaurant week) - 3 out of 5 sporks
3. Las Piramides - Huber Heights, Ohio - 4 out of 5 sporks
4. Barnsider in Old North Dayton - 4.5 out of 5 sporks
5. Corleone's Pizza - 4.5 out of 5 sporks
6. Blind Bob's in Dayton, Ohio (Oregon District) 2.5 - out of 5 sporks
7. The Winking Lizard in Columbus, Ohio - 4 out of 5 sporks
8. Salsa's in Dayton, Ohio (Airway Shopping Center) - 5 out of 5 sporks
9. Filling Station Sports Bar & Grill (with a game room!) in Dayton, Ohio - 4.5 out of 5 sporks
10. Mimi's Cafe in Beavercreek, Ohio (The Greene) - 1 out of 5 sporks
11. Palermo's in Kettering Ohio (Dixie Shopping Centers behind Wal-Mart) - 2 out of 5 sporks
12. Cheddars in Henryville, IN - 3 out of 5 sporks
13. Ertel's Winery and Bistro in Batesville, IN - 5 out of 5 sporks

As you can see, my ratings system is 1 through 5 scale, based equal parts on service, food and price. I will say, though, that usually terrible service will kill a score faster than so-so food will.

Flavors, for example, would have gotten a full five if it weren't for their piss-poor service. Come to think of it, same goes for Filling Station (fewer points deducted because they'd just opened) and Barnsider. I didn't have terrible service at either of the last two, but I wasn't impressed. The server at Filling Station didn't seem to know the menu at all, and seemed really put out when I asked that she bring me the pickle spear missing from my plate. Barnsider was quite crowded, icy weather had probably caused people to call off, and our server seemed to have some kind of personal crisis.

Flavors...well, I suppose this one is worth posting the full review.


I'd been wanting to try this place for a while, but I'm rarely that far south of town. Business is always a good excuse to go someplace a bit out of the way, so I met a friend there for lunch. She was actually trying to sell me on something for a change, so lunch was on her.

Bad start. It's 5° outside, the sign in the window says they open daily @ 11:30. The doors are still locked, and it's 11:35. The gal who came and opened the doors didn't act completely burdened, but she sure wasn't overly apologetic for making us stand out there when they should have been open, either.

My friend and I ordered the exact same thing - open-faced chicken, artichoke and spinach sandwich with a diet coke. I ordered this because it sounded totally delicious, but honestly - I couldn't read the ridiculously small print on the menu hanging above the register. Our drinks came out and I couldn't decide if I was happy or pissed. Cute little tumblers with orange slices in them...and a CAN of Diet Coke. Love the tumblers, hate the lack of free refills.

Our food arrived and looked delicious. My friend had asked if each of us could have a extra house sauce when we placed our order, which did not arrive with our food. When she asked for it again, she was met with, "Uhhh, ok - but it's already on the chips and the sandwich." This gal pal of mine is pretty demanding, and said "I didn't ask you what it was already on, I asked if I could have extra. That implies I know it's already on the sandwich."

Another negative - the staff yells really loudly to regulars when they leave. For those of you who haven't been, Flavors is set up kind of like a fancy/trendy deli or diner. You order & pay at the counter, someone brings your food out to you. So, the register and all the staff are about 5 feet tops, from anyone who is seated and eating. So, it makes conversation difficult. To boot, we stayed for quite a while - between 1-2 hours, and they looked none to happy that we took up a small table for that long.

The big win is, the food was effing delicious. I'll definitely go back, because I can see myself craving that particular dish - but there's a good chance I may be getting take out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oh, you mean Shenanigan's?

You know, the place with the mozzarella sticks and all the shit on the walls?

I'm actually referring to (cr)Applebee's, which is where my fella, J and I dined tonight. I use the term "dine" VERY loosely.
I know, I know - no self-respecting foodie would be caught dead eating at Applebee's, but 'tis the season of blindly giving gift cards. We have enough that we'll be eating there at least once for lunch and once for dinner. So, I figured it was a good a time as any to burn through the first half since we have zero food in the house and it's right in front of Kroger.

My first beef with Applebee's is that they serve Pepsi. I can't have much sugar, and that leaves me with Diet Pepsi, which appeals to my palate somewhere on the scale between sweat and horse urine.

I don't think Applebee's has ever gotten my order correct. If they've managed to get it correct, they haven't gotten it right.

Sounds like I've been there a lot, right? Unfortunately, that's spot on. Being a savvy business gal, I "do lunch" relatively often with my boss. She's vegetarian and frankly, a bit limited on her dining choices in her own mind. I've gone to Olive Garden and Applebee's more times than I care to admit. And while I don't understand the appeal of a meatless rueben, I'm always relieved when she chooses Max & Erma's.

Anyhow, this would be a good time to mention that I'm an avid low-carber. It started off as a weight loss regime and ended up more of a health matter, having discovered I'm a bit intolerant of gluten and starch.

We opted for the 2 for $20 deal, as J and I were both starving, so we could get an appetizer. He got the bacon cheddar burger with fries and I ordered the sirloin with 2 servings of veggie medley instead of veggies and a starch. I order medium, as opposed to my normal mid-rare order, assuming the people they pay to microwave food there could find some middle ground between blue and cremated.
The steak was the tiniest little cut of beef I've ever seen, but cooked to a decent medium and well-seasoned. Upon seeing the teeny sirloin, I was glad I ordered up all the filling veggies - until I realized the "cooks" at Applebee's have no concept of "fork-tender." The veggies were slightly warm, very dry and as solid as the day they were picked. I put on my big-girl pants and ate everything but the carrots.

I really expected nothing more and nothing less from my neighborhood bar & grill.
Speaking of the bar part, here's a nice bonus. I ordered one of their pomegranate margaritas, which was actually pretty heavy-handed on the booze - but most importantly, they leave you with the shaker. So, you can usually squeeze two more drinks out of it after you've killed your first one. And when you're on your way to Kroger in Dayton on a snowy night, you'll need to be as liquored-up as possible.

Hello, eater!

Welcome to Food vs. Face!

This blog will follow my adventures (and misadventures) in my own kitchen and eateries all over the place - but focusing on my awesome hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

I decided to start this blog for a number of reasons.

1. Nearly every time I read a food blog, especially local (that goes double for the Leadbelly Boys), I cringe. So many things irk me - incredulous bias, warped ideas of what "affordable" means, trend-followers, or just plain not knowing what good food is.

2. Most food blogs seem to either be focused on restaurants OR your home kitchen, never both. I love to cook, and my fiance and I eat at home an average of 6 days out of the week. However, when we do go out and spend our heard-earned money in a restaurant, I tend to be pretty opinionated about my experience.

3. I've been talking about doing this for a few months, but now Santa has brought me a great new camera, which just happens to have a setting that is specifically for photographing food.

4. I've been writing for years for magazines and television, and I seem to have lost my spark. Hollywood gossip bores me, technical writing is monotonous enough to make me wander out into traffic, and I feel a bit stale about the state of music and I'm certainly tired of reviewing albums.
Without fail, the one thing that always gets me excited is food.

So, join me on a heartwarming journey into the belly of the beast. By beast, I mostly mean me.