Sunday, November 28, 2010

Angie's Firehouse Tavern

With a massive hangover in tow, we decided to check out Angie's Firehouse Tavern last weekend. I'd been meaning to try it since it re-opened in Belmont a while back, but it just became one of those things we never got around to.

We scored rock star parking and walked in to a practically empty scene around noon, seated ourselves (props for having a sign telling us so, so we didn't stand there like morons), and were greeted quickly by our server. I was pleased to see they had Diet Dr. Pepper until she informed me they just changed the tap, but they did have Diet Mt. Dew. Any place serving Pepsi products that doesn't have any other diet options will swiftly lose a $2 soda sale to a Diet Pepsi-hater like myself.

The menu wasn't exactly vast, but there were plenty of options. Still, we both leaned towards burgers. I decided on the Bad Lieutenant, regardless of the images it summoned of a full-frontal Harvey Keitel. BBQ sauce, cheddar and haystack onions? Don't mind if I do! I also opted for cole slaw with mine, and planned on stealing just a few of Mr. FvF's fries. When I asked about the slaw, the waitress told me it actually comes from the Mel-o-Dee Restaurant in New Carlisle, and was dairy-based. I'd heard tell of this legendary slaw from at least three people, so I figured I'd made the right choice. Mr FvF, with his simple tastes, chose a bacon cheeseburger with provolone.

Our food came out pretty quickly, just as the place started to fill up with Steelers fans, who made quite a commotion moving all available tables together and talking about their new-foundteam swag. I was glad we arrived and ordered when we did, otherwise we may have had a substantial wait to get our food - considering I only saw one waitress and one bartender.

I sampled the Mister's fries first - top shelf! They very well could have been frozen, but they had a well-seasoned batter on them and were the perfect crispy/tender combo. Next up, the cole slaw - not so impressed. I guess I can see what all the fuss is about, but daaaaaamn this slaw was sweet. Too sweet for me, without a doubt. I'm sure if Angie's was making their own, they could do 100% better than this. Good, traditional slaw is SO easy to make, it amazes me how easily it gets screwed up. My burger was aces, though. Not an overwhelming amount of bun; the bread to meat ratio was just right. I figured out quickly why our server put so many extra napkins on the table, because we went through every last one. It wasn't too greasy or dripping in the BBQ sauce (another perfect ratio), but it was simply juicy and messy, the way a good burger should be.
Scoring more points was the super crisp, garlicky pickle spear that came with all of the sandwiches. It may not be a big deal to everyone, but nothing puts a damper on my appetite more than a flaccid, neon green pickle. Even worse? No pickle at all. Just ask my sister, who got all in Pan(t)era's ass for forgetting her pickle twice in a row, resulting in two free meals. Score!

Basically, we really enjoyed our visit with one exception. I think it's weird that they outsource a lot of their sides and desserts to other places, albeit local institutions like Mehaffie's and the Mel-O-Dee. If you're going to outsource - by all means, please keep it local. But, for such a small operation, it seems like it would be much more cost-effective and appealing to customers if these items were actually house-made.

4.5 out of 5 sporks!

Angie's Firehouse Tavern on Urbanspoon

Simple Suppers - Peanut Beef Satay

I found this recipe on Yahoo a couple of weeks ago, and my husband and I were both stunned at how good it was (not to mention easy). Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 small yellow or white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
    1 lb beef sirloin, cut into 1-2" cubes
  • -------------------------------
  • 1/3 C chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp molasses
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
Once your sirloin is cut and trimmed of fat, put it all in an airtight container or zippy bag, leaving room for the marinade. Then, toss all of the remaining ingredients in a food processor and give it a few pulses until well blended. Pour the marinade over the beef, seal tightly and let it mingle for at least 4 hours, but over night is better.

Heat your oven to broil, thread the sirloin cubes onto skewers and place on a broiler pan prepped with a little baking spray. Broil close to the heat source for about 8 minutes total for a nice mid-well. You could also easily translate this to grilling, just use high heat and cook quickly.

For the sauce, combine the last 6 ingredients and heat in a saucepan until it's warmed through.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hawthorn Grill - Kettering, Ohio

For almost a month, I'd been holding on to a gift certificate to The Hawthorn Grill, which I scored for half price at Living Social. We decided to make good use of it one night when our cupboards were bare, before going Krogering. I'd heard great things about this place from people who actually know what food is supposed to taste like, so I sort of had my hopes up (editor's note: never a good idea). Besides, the price points are a bit steep for our budget ($15-25 per entree), so I was excited to be able to give it a whirl for a reasonable amount. I'd also perused their fall menu online, which had plenty of selections that weren't centered around a bread or pasta, plus plenty of familiar stuff for the, ahem - selective eater in the household. Having done that, I already had a good idea what each of us would be ordering.

We arrived at 7pm, expecting a packed dining room since we had to park in the back lot, but only about half the tables were full. We were greeted & seated quickly, and our server came to introduce herself and get our drink order. She was a very friendly young gal that had an air of experience serving in a higher-end environment, which is a compliment. The same can't be said of some high-dollar joints where your server can't pronounce the wines and can be found conspicuously texting between tables. Speaking of Madison Avenue, Hawthorn Grill had a very different atmosphere than what I had expected. Chef-owned restaurants are usually swank while still being easy-going and hip - like Meadowlark, for example. But, we found this to be more of a hip replacement crowd. We were the youngest folks there until a middle-aged couple brought their children with them. Ever get the feeling like everyone is looking at you like you don't belong, regardless of whether or not you actually do belong? Bingo. Welcome to The Hawthorn Grill, home of old Kettering money.

Mr. FvF went back & forth, but ended up going with the Chicken & Pasta (which is what I originally thought he'd order) - Ed Hill Chicken Breast, cheese tortellini, broccoli and Boursin cream sauce. Naturally, I went for the pig and ordered the White Wine Braised Pork, which was billed as pork shoulder, white wine gravy, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. I also ordered a glass of very forgettable red wine, which was reasonably priced at around $7. When I saw Layer Cake on their list, I was hoping they'd carry the primitivo, but no dice.

Let's start with the photos and go from there. I'll note that these photos are so bad they're barely worth posting. But, this is not the kind of place that one can get away with sneaking a photo, even though I'd brought my good camera. I had to use my phone cam, and the place was very dimly lit.

Below is Mr. FvF's Chicken & Pasta...or is it?
Do you see any tortellini? Broccoli? Cream sauce? You do see chicken and pasta, so they got that part right. There's also some truffle oil, squash, dates or figs (I'm convinced no one knows the difference) and maybe apple.
The problem is, which any woman can verify, that men will usually just start eating whatever you put in front of them, not usually asking questions or considering if their order was right. So, neither of us realized until we left the restaurant that they'd given him the wrong dish entirely. On the way to Kroger I said, "Wasn't that supposed to have tortellini?" My husband thought for a minute, then said, "Yeah. And Broccoli. And Boursin!" I looked at their online menu when I got back home and realized they'd probably given him the Pan Seared Chicken instead. That said, I will tell you that it was beautifully plated and had outstanding flavor. I only had one tiny bite, but tasting fresh pasta makes me curse the gods for my issues with gluten.

Now, on to my dish, and another horrible Sasquatch picture.

Uh, this really wasn't what I was expecting. The plating left a LOT to be desired. Mashed potatoes on the bottom, topped with the veggies, then the pork and gravy. Where have I seen this before? Oh, right! Bob Evans. For $10 less. Everything was so jammed together that it was difficult to taste anything individually. I couldn't tell if the potatoes were any good, or even if the veggies were fresh or frozen. The gravy seemed like your run-of-the-mill beef or pork gravy, devoid of even a hint of white wine. The pork was good. Not outstanding, but good. Kind of hard to mess that part up, though. It was basically pot roast, all tarted up with a steep price tag.

The verdict: The service was great, but the food was not on par with what they're charging and the vibe was downright stuffy. I hope they get some younger diners in there before people start mistaking it for a makeshift Medicare office.

2.5 out of 5 sporks!

Hawthorn Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Side Dishin' - Corn Pudding

Corn pudding is one of the greatest and most comforting Southern side dishes to ever grace a table. If you're hard up for sides, or tired of the ol' green bean casserole, toss this amazing dish into your Thanksgiving lineup next week. This particular recipe is adapted from Alton Brown's recipe. Basically, I just removed the (based on the end product, unnecessary) bread, and some of the fresh herbs (rosemary and thyme) because I didn't have them.
Here's what you'll need (serves 4-6):

1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 tbsp butter
1 14 oz can creamed corn
1 C heavy cream
2 eggs
1/2 C Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 C shredded colby jack cheese
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, saute onions and herbs in butter until the onions are translucent. In a large bowl, mix the onions with all the other ingredients and stir. Pour into a greased casserole dish, greased muffin tins, or ramekins. Bake the casserole for about 45 minutes or until golden and set. If you're using ramekins or muffin tins, start with 20 minutes and keep checking them until they're soft-set and golden brown on top.

Monday, November 15, 2010

P(f)arting is such sweet sorrow

It is with a heavy heart that I tell you Food vs Face will no longer be working with Man-B-Que. As hurt as I am over the ordeal, and as much as I'd like to take this opportunity to verbally spank them in front of all of their friends on the information super highway, I will not. I'll only say that they are a young and fledgling organization with a lot to learn about how to conduct affairs, and the pitfalls of doing business with friends. I wish them the best in their future endeavors, and hopefully the Man-B-Que tradition can still carry on here in Dayton, without my help.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thai Stir Fry Salad

Anytime I get an inkling of something new Mr. FvF discovers that he likes, I try to find a way I can create a meal around it. I can't remember how, but he realized he liked Asian-style sesame, dressing - so I figured I could make a spinach salad of it. But, just any regular spinach salad wouldn't do. Unlike lettuce, green leafies like cabbage and spinach are sometimes even better when they wilt under a bit of heat, so I thought I might try putting a chicken stir fry on top of a bed of it.

Here's what you'll need (serves 2):

2-3 tbsp oil
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1" chunks
1 zucchini, juilenned
1 carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped or julienned
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups fresh spinach, or cabbage if you prefer
crushed dry roasted peanuts
chopped cilantro

You could really use about any kind of stir-fry veggies that you dig, like baby corn, peppers or water chestnuts. This is just stuff that I know we both like.

Start the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet, and add the diced chicken. Cook it all the way through (til no longer pink), then add all of your veggies and pepper flakes, stir and cook about another 4-5 minutes until they're tender, but not thoroughly soft.

Serve over the spinach, then top with dressing (we used sesame ginger, but you any Asian-style dressing would do), peanuts and cilantro. As you can see, it plates beautifully - plus it's ridiculously healthy.

Here's my one big caveat, so you don't ruin the dish like I did. DO NOT eyeball the red pepper flakes. I'm pretty sure I ended up getting a lot closer to a full teaspoon on my dish, and it was so face-meltingly hot that I couldn't bare to finish it. You all know I'm a sissy about heat, but even my husband was sweating buckets and didn't finish his, either. Otherwise, this would have kicked some serious ass. I'll definitely be making it again with some different veggies (probably a mixed frozen bag, to be honest - julienning is for chumps) and a measured 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Pub - Beavercreek, Ohio

I love my friends SO much that I'll let them make me go to the same shitty place more than once. I like to think that placed in a similar situation, they would do the same for me. I've never decided to go to The Greene, Dayton's fancy outdoor walk-around mall, on my own. Aside from trekking out there to meet one of my favorite authors, my visits have always been at at least somewhat at another person's request or invite.

You see, the first time I went to the Greene, something weird, embarrassing, and life-alteringly shitty happened there. I'm not going to go into detail, but let's just say I think of it as my personal Vietnam. So naturally, I don't like the place too much. Besides, although I love commerce, places like this exemplify my hate part of our love/hate relationship. The food options are really not much more impressive than your regular indoor mall eating options, they're just far more overpriced. They all have $10+ appetizers and outdoor patios and verandas, and if you're a smoker, everyone looks at you like you're eating a live baby. It's all your standard fare of Brios and P.F. Chang's, occasionally a chain restaurant masquerading as an independent, but their decor and prices aren't fooling anyone. Then of course, there are your Fleming's and McCormick and Schmick's, where you don't even know if you're ordering up, because there aren't always prices on the menu. Oh, then there's this nest of turds called The Pub. Not to be confused with Dayton's original and independent Dublin Pub, which happens to have delicious food, stellar service and a staff who know a it's a dick move to review an Irish pub based on ordering the fucking filet. They have steak on the menu at Denny's, too - but that doesn't mean you should order it and base your opinion of their food as a whole on an item that's clearly not within their realm of expertise - but, I digress.

Back to my original point that one of my best gals craves the curry fries at The Pub. I'd never had them, or even seen them - but I assumed they must be worth the trip. This day was all about her, and I made sure to eat a decent lunch so that I wouldn't order much there. I ordered the Cheese Bollocks, large balls of mozzarella, beer battered and deep fried.

Of course I want to say they were terrible, but they really weren't. The batter was on the bland side, but it's still beer batter, filled with melty cheese. Gin got the fries and their soup of the day, corn chowder, which she just said "tasted weird."

I started to post a photo of her curry fries, but frankly, it's not even worth the effort. They're frozen, Oreida-variety, bland, dusted with sea salt and served with red and yellow curry. Granted, the curry is tasty - but by no means worth spending two hours in this place. Why did eating some side items take two hours, you ask? Well, if you're not a dude looking at drool over some almost-bare ass, the waitresses treat you as such. They assume if you're not DTF, you'll be a shitty tipper, so they don't really waste their time. Getting drink refills and putting our orders in took embarrassingly long, and getting our checks felt like it took longer than waiting for the results of your AIDS test. Not only have I done my friend duty by going to this place twice, but I'm going to learn how to make the curry sauces so she never has to waste her money in there again, either.

1 out of 5 sporks
Pub on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Simple Suppers: Chicken & Noodles

A while back, Mr. FvF and I stopped into Bob Evan's for lunch and he went on all day about how great the chicken and noodles were. I'd had it before, and it was no match for my mom's chicken and noodles, so I realized I was going to have to whip up a batch soon for him to realize Bob's wasn't all that. This will feed a small army, is fairly inexpensive and WAY easy. Here's what you'll need:

4-6 chicken breasts
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup sliced/coined carrots
2-3 stalks celery, chopped
1 32 oz carton chicken broth
1 bag Reames egg noodles (frozen)
salt/pepper (duh)

Blanch your chicken before you start on anything, which will help you multi-task later. Just toss is into some salted boiling water, with a bay leaf, if you like. You can use bone-in or boneless breasts, it really doesn't matter. Usually takes about 25 minutes, depending on thickness, or until it reaches an internal temp of 165. Remove & cool on a cutting board.

Combine the broth and all of your cleaned & cut veggies in a medium stock pot, throw in some salt & pepper, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes. While it's simmerin', chop up your cooled chicken and set aside. Add the entire bag of frozen egg noodles to the pot and simmer another 30 minutes. This is a good time to check your seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed. Add all of the chicken and cook another 30 minutes and check seasonings once more. Boom. Done.

This type of noodle is *very* thirsty and will suck up all the extra broth once you put it away, so be sure to have extra chicken broth on hand for your leftovers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Simple Suppers: Dorito Dogs

Danger, danger - high voltage! By voltage, I mean cholesterol. For the most part, I try to cook healthier meals here at Chez FvF. But, once in a while I see something so sinful that I simply must recreate it here at home. Enter: Dorito Dogs. While not nearly the arterial Hoover Dam that BBDs are, these still aren't anywhere near good for you. But, your husband and kids will treat you like you've just cured cancer for at least 6 hours after serving them. Well, my husband is always that nice and we have no children to please, so why do I still make shit like this? Because I can. As the great Roseanne Rosannadanna once explained, "It's always something. If food doesn't kill me, I'll get hit by a bus!"

This is adapted from a Pillsbury recipe (hence the crescent dough), and after making them, I've thought of all kinds of variations that can be made - like andouille sausages and fancy cheeses, and using panko for breading. But, for the basic version, you'll need (serves 4):

4 all beef hot dogs
1 can crescent dough (seamless is easiest to work with)
4 slices American Cheese
1/4 C milk
1 small bag or 1 cup crushed Doritos

Roll the dough out and cut into 4 rectangles. If you bought the perforated stuff, make sure you press into the perfs, so that they seal back up. Place a slice of cheese on each rectangle, then your hot dog. Roll them up like you're rolling a burrito or egg roll, tucking the sides in so there's no leakage.
Once they're snug, brush them with milk, then roll them in the crushed Doritos. Bake for about 20 minutes at 375, until golden brown.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Brunch at the Barnsider

A few weekends ago, before the great plague fell upon our house, Mr. FvF and I decided to take a trip out to Wasserstrom Restaurant Supply. I'd always wanted to go, and now had an excuse because I needed some pro gear for my Swedish Chef costume. Long story short, the trip was a bust - they didn't have what I needed and everything was ridiculously pricey.

Just before we'd left the house, Dayton Dining posted on their Facebook page that Barnsider was serving a brunch buffet on Saturdays and Sundays from 9a-2p for only $7.99. That's not just a hell of a deal for brunch, that's a hell of a deal for a place like Barnsider - which is normally more of a special occasion restaurant for me. They were still serving, so we drove up the road another mile or two and dropped in to fuel up for the massive day of errands ahead of us.

We were greeted and seated quickly, and had our drink orders taken. The hostess and server were both as sweet as could be, and attentive without being annoying. After all, it IS a buffet, so you only need so much tending to. On par with everything else I've had at Barnsider, their brunch did not disappoint.
Clockwise from top to center:
Pepper, onion & bacon quiche
French Toast Casserole
Double chocolate muffin
Maple sausage links
Scrambled eggs
Amish Casserole
Hashbrown Casserole

Other things they had that I couldn't fit on my plate were DIY omelets, coffee cake, fresh fruit, biscuits & gravy, french toast wedges, hash browns, waffles and cinnamon apple pancakes.
The only part that was a slight let down were the scrambled eggs. They simply weren't well seasoned and were a bit overcooked. But, with all of the other dishes available, it's hard to see that as a valid complaint. Baked in a quiche is better than scrambled any day. The casseroles were tops, especially the French toast casserole. I would probably succumb to diabetes for this stuff. It took every bit of willpower in me not to fill up an entire second plate with it. To put it simply, it's the French toast version of bread pudding, with candied pecans on top. The bacon was some of the better tasting I've had in my time (which is saying a LOT), but a bit on the greasy side. As for savories, the Amish casserole was tops, made up of eggs, sweet onion, shredded potatoes and tons of cheese.

I really hope Barnsider keeps this deal going as a permanent fixture, because I can see making a monthly venture out of this, and it's a great excuse to meet friends for brunch on a weekend morning, when schedules are less hectic. Oh, and for those of you with kids - the buffet is only $4.95 for the little ones!

5 out of 5 sporks!
Barnsider on Urbanspoon

BFD: Cheesy Ham & Egg Bake

Another installment of Breakfast for Dinner! It's also great for brunch, or of course - just regular breakfast. This is one of Mr. FvF's absolute favorites, mostly because it's heavy on the bread and the epitome of comfort food. It's also great with some veggies in it, like onions, peppers or broccoli, but greens in breakfast food doesn't fly at my house. The awesome part is, it's stuff mostly things that you'll always have in the fridge. Here's what you'll need.

2 eggs, one yolks (or you could use 1 white)
2/3 C milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne (or hot sauce)
1/2 C diced ham (sausage crumbles or bacon would work, too)
3/4 C shredded sharp cheddar
4 biscuits (canned or frozen & thawed), cut into quarters

Mix all of the liquids and seasonings, then add the cheese and ham to that mixture.
In a loaf pan prepped with baking spray, place all of the cut-up biscuits along the bottom, then pour the egg mixture over top of it. Bake at 375 for about 35 minutes or until set in the center.
So easy to whip up, and everyone will go apeshit over it. In theory, it serves 4, but we usually end up eating the whole thing between the two of us pretty easily.