Thursday, March 26, 2015

Porcellino's Craft Butcher

Porcellino's Craft Butcher
711 W Brookhaven Circle
(901) 762-6656


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Let me start by saying that I went to Porcellino's for dinner in February with a friend and was blown away by the awesomeness. I am a huge fan of Andy & Michael and love, love, love Hog & Hominy and Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen.

The cocktail list at Porcellino's is top notch.

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The menu itself features such delicacies as dumplings made with collard greens and pork belly.

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And in addition to that, just when you think you can't eat any more, a cart comes by with delicious daily specials.

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So, please keep all of that in mind when I say that when I took the monkeys (Satchel, 12, and Jiro, 10) to breakfast at Porcellino's over Spring Break it was a little blah.

We arrived at about 8:30am and it was pretty dead--maybe a table or two. I told the boys to look at the menu board and let me know what they wanted.

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Jiro went with a croissant and the biscuit of the day which featured maple sausage, egg and cheese. Satchel, who was claiming not to be hungry, just wanted a plain biscuit. Our friend, Pavel, ordered a chocolate croissant. I am a big fan of bruleed grapefruit and granola & yogurt, but decided to get the pimento cheese gougeres. And coffee.

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I placed the order and sent the boys to sit down. In terms of iced coffee I had a couple of options--a cold brew and something with nitrogen. Since I wanted to add milk, the waitress advised going with the cold brew.

Major thumbs up on the coffee.

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Our total was $28.95 plus tip.

The boys took a seat in the window, which I don't blame them, but I requested that we move to a table.

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We had a number and soon our food came out. That's when we realized we should have grabbed water and silverware from the nearby station.

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Satchel's biscuit was nice & fluffy.

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Jiro's was a little more exciting, but I was surprised by the teeny tiny sausage patty. We were in a butcher shop after all!

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I have seen numerous people post pictures of their biscuits on Facebook with comments like "OMGYUM," but I'd say ho hum.

Chocolate croissant looked like what you'd expect. Pavel asked for a second one so it must have been good.

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The gougeres were cheesy and nice. The kids wanted nothing to do with them.

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So yeah. It was ok. I hear the lunch is equally unexciting. Maybe they really want to focus on the butcher shop during the day? Or maybe they need all day to prep for the awesome dinner items? That's cool, albeit a little disappointing for the Andy/Michael empire. You heard it here: dinner is where it is at.

Porcellino's Craft Butcher on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar
948 Cooper Street
275-8986


Even though I live just a few blocks away from Strano, I never really wanted to go. Why? Because I hate the sign. It's just so ugly! And inside it is all white tablecloth and there's the curse and so on. After the CA's rave review, the Tuesday ladies and I went for happy hour and were thoroughly disappointed by the drinks and the apps. I really almost texted Jennifer Biggs and called her a liar.

When one of my Flyer assignments included a dish from Strano, I decided to take Jiro (age 10) and do a full on dinner. I was prepared to hate.

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We walked over from my apartment around 5:00pm on a Saturday night. There were several full tables and we were asked if we had a reservation. I replied, "Surely we don't need a reservation at 5:00pm?"

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We were seated next to the window at a two top, which pleased me very much. I love people watching. When Jiro sat down he said, "This place is fancy."

"A little," I replied.

Strano is a little weird in that way. I think it wants to be somewhere between casual and fancy, but the white tablecloths and the prices (which are higher than Bari) definitely make it seem fancy. However, I'd say the majority of diners dress casual.

Moving on, our very sweet waitress brought us some garlic bread and olive oil to snack on while we reviewed the menu.

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The garlic bread is not for amateurs. It features whole cloves of garlic. Lots of them. The bread was tasty but I am not a huge garlic fan so I shied away from eating too much.

Next we had Rosemary's Sicilain salad. It was delicious.

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The dressing was really sweet and tasty and Jiro, who is not usually a salad fan, was happy to help me eat it. He really liked the bacon and pecans. I thought the arugula could have been cleaned better--this is a major pet peeve of mine--but there were only a few spoiled bits.

We saw a lot of really nice meat and cheese plates coming out of the kitchen and were jealous. In fact, everything that came out looked great.

While we waited on the main courses we had lovely conversations about why my hair is so gray and why the Roo is so fun to ride. (Party bus!) We were going to the movies at Studio after dinner, but I couldn't convince Jiro to ride the Roo. (Once we got there and spent a half hour looking for parking, I regretted not insisting.)

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For dinner, Jiro ordered a "personal" Carne Classica pizza which has giant pepperoni, Italian sausage and bacon. I don't think 12" is the standard measure for a personal size pizza, but ok.

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It looked and tasted great. I absolutely would come for lunch and eat pizza or get one to go. Even at $17. Jiro could only eat about three slices and I had to have one, so we had a half a pizza left for later, which was just fine.

I ordered the ravioli of the day which featured goat cheese, pepperoni and basil inside and sundried tomato on top. There was also more garlic bread and extra garlic cloves in the sauce but they were easily avoided.

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It was DELICIOUS. Seriously. So, so good. I could only eat half and was happy to have it the next day!

Jiro wanted some key lime pie for dessert, so we got the closest thing--lemon sorbet. The presentation was a crowd pleaser.

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It was very good and quite refreshing.

We also had an order of Zappolies, which are usually served at brunch. They were very tasty too--like little beignets with hazelnut and Campari berry dipping sauce.

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We were both stuffed and happy, and we had lunch for the next day.

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Our total came to $70 plus tip, which was a little jarring. Like I said, the prices are high! Looking over my receipt I see that it specifies I had a FULL salad and a FULL ravioli, so I am guessing half orders are available at a lower price? Also a scan of the lunch menu shows much more reasonable prices. For example, the same "personal" size 12" pizza is $13 at lunch versus $17 at dinner.

So overall, I give it the thumbs up. The service was excellent. I'd say the prices should be adjusted a bit, but considering the place was packed an hour later when we went to the movies, I guess people don't mind paying them.

Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Robata Ramen & Yakitori Bar

Robata Ramen & Yakitori Bar
2116 Madison
901-410-8290


First off, Robata is adorable.

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The inside is very cozy and would be a great place to go on a date or even sit at the bar.

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We were super excited about it opening, so I really have no idea why it took us so long to try it. Last week, on snow day #3, I thought it might be nice to get Warren and the monkeys (Satchel, 12, and Jiro, 10) out of Warren's house. (I'd been going to work all week so I was not suffering from cabin fever.)

It smelled great and was packed. We were able to be seated right away though. Our waiter came right over and we ordered drinks--waters all around and happy hour sake for Warren. The water pitcher was a re-purposed St. Germaine bottle. (Robata is Project Green Fork certified, so I am guessing this is one of their extra steps.)

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We studied the menu trying to make up our minds. I had even looked online before inviting the boys and I was still unsure. Jiro actually settled pretty quickly on a rice bowl with fried chicken -- kara-age don. I tried to talk Satchel into the build your own ramen bowl, but he resisted. He decided on the bbq pork don, which is a rice bowl with, you guessed it, bbq pork. Warren also opted for a rice dish--the takana yaki meshi. I decided to get a few appetizers to share. They were out of gyoza, so the waiter recommended shumai. I also ordered the Robata wings and the tuna poke.

The monkeys' rice bowls came out almost immediately and they dug right in.

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A few minutes later, Warren's came out. He was surprised to see that it was more like fried rice than the kids' rice bowls.

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Next up were the chicken wings.

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Satchel, our resident chicken wing fiend turned his nose up at them because of the sesame seeds. The rest of us ate them and thought they were just ok.

The tuna poke had a nice presentation--the women next to us even asked me what it was.

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There was actually quite a bit of tuna packed in the martini glass. Overall, again, I thought it was just ok. I didn't like the sauce and it was generally bland.

The waiter came to check on us and I let him know we were still waiting on the shumai. It eventually came out and the monkeys and I each grabbed one and took a big bite.

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Unfortunately the inside was cold and they were not at all appetizing. I let the waiter know and he got us a new order that came out hot. They tasted much better! But now knowing they are a pre-ordered frozen item, I doubt I'll get them again. I can probably buy them myself at the Asian market.

So, we were all done eating and I was unsatisfied. I felt like we ordered all wrong. I mean they don't call it a ramen and yakitori bar for nothing! So I ordered a customized ramen with pork and tofu for everyone to share.

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Soon the table was filled with happy slurping sounds and cries of, "Why didn't we get ramen in the first place!?"

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We'll be back. And we'll start with the ramen.

Warren wants to go on a weekend so he can try the Japanese curry.

Robata Ramen and Yakitori Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 09, 2015

Maui Brick Oven

Ed. Note: Maui Brick Oven is now open Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Maui Brick Oven
7850 Poplar
Germantown, TN 38138
505-2525


I have been trying to get to Maui Brick Oven for weeks. It's best known as the gluten free pizza place, but I have been wanting to try one of the grain bowls.

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It's right by my mom's house in Germantown, but it's closed on Sunday, which is when I am usually out that way. I had a reason to head east on Saturday, so the monkeys (Satchel 12, and Jiro, 10) and I had a really late lunch/early dinner there. At 3:00pm we basically had the place to ourselves, which was fine by me.

The inside is very cute and "tropical."

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It's an order at the counter and take a number place.

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The cashier was sweet and gave us menus and said we could sit down and look them over, since we had never been in before. Unlike Belly Acres, the menu was in a normal sized font and easy to read, but I really appreciated the fact that they had a magnifying glass available. (Yes, I'm a memaw.)

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Here's a better look at it.

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I knew right away that I wanted the pollo bowl ($12) and Jiro wanted a pizza ($13). He decided to get crazy and add bacon to his usual pepperoni order. Satchel insisted he wasn't hungry and just wanted chicken tenders ($7). I really tried to get him to order something more exciting (coconut shrimp, maybe?, but he was insistent.

I went back to the counter to order and the monkeys followed since they had seen these on the way in.

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Our total was $40.61 plus tip. We took our number and went back to the booth. (Satchel was really excited.)

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After just a few minutes, my grain bowl came out. I was starved so I went ahead and started eating it. I was very pleased by how it looked.

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I liked it even better once I mixed it up. (I didn't add any dressing--it didn't need it.)

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It was really, really tasty. It made me wish Maui Brick Oven was in Midtown.

Satchel's chicken tenders came out next and they were massive.

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He let Jiro and I sample them and the fries--both were very good.

Next up was Jiro's pizza.

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He gave the pizza the thumbs up and said it was crispy like Memphis Pizza Cafe. I had a slice and it didn't remind me of the Pizza Cafe, but I thought it was really good.

Neither of the monkeys really knows what gluten free is and neither realized that their food was any different than at any other restaurant. I consider that a good thing.

Throughout the meal, people came to check on us, fill our water, bring to go boxes, etc. (They are not Project Green Fork certified but the to go boxes were paper, not styro.)

Maui Brick Oven is a chain, but as of now there is one in Maui, Hawaii and one in Germantown, TN. One of the local owners has a wife and two children who are celiacs. They live in Midtown and I really, really hope they open another one of these in town.

Maui Brick Oven on Urbanspoon
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