El Barzon

>> Sunday, June 27, 2010

Caprese Salad juxtaposition with Chips & Salsa...just as the Mexican & Italian juxtapose on the menu. :)
Friday June 25th. El Barzon. http://198.171.52.19/
We are lonely today...no guest stars and no Thad! WTF? Poor Thad was just released from the hospital, having had a kidney stone too large to pass! Ouch. They had to go in and get it! Double ouch!
Well, Lulu and I decide to meet up before our 7:00 reservation and have drinks. I arrive at the restaurant to discover, no parking lot. We park on the street. The neighborhood, near mexicantown, offers lots of local culture. Lulu thinks the guys hanging out the window to yell at her are "nice boys". Just FYI, there is valet parking, but they park you on the street, literally two spots down from where you pull up to hand them your keys.
They do have a small bar area, Thank The Universe! Because our idea of hitting any other local bar first had only one prospect, a biker bar....with about 50 motorcycles parked out front. Not that Lulu and I wouldn't have enjoyed that, but we were not up for that much adventure this night.
Lulu orders Sangria, which the bartender tells us is made with fresh juices. It is OK, but a little weak...I prefer my sangria with a little brandy. I order the only pinot noir by the glass, which I forget the name...and it was OK, not spectacular. We also are given complimentary fresh homemade tortilla chips (yum) and two salsas. A green (i'm guessing tomatillo) and a red. The green is chocked full of cilantro. The red a little spicy (I'm a huge fan of spicy btw). Lulu and I were not overly enthused by either. We try mixing them together, to no avail. Lulu strikes up a conversation with Sherman at the bar, and he tells her she must have obtained her lovely ankles by not eating meat.
When The Greek shows, we take our table. Lulu is snobby about the use of paper tablecloths, yet linen napkins... why have linen napkins with paper? I see her point. We are not on our game tonight, as we do not inquire our servers name, nor does he give it. The menu is so interesting to me, with so many great choices! It's pretty much 50/50 Mexican & Italian. I knew the place was supposed to be a mix...the owner/chef is from Mexico, and worked at Il Posto for years...hence the Mex/Italian menu. We start with salads: Caprese and a zucchini shrimp salad. We did not read the menu so carefully therefore did not expect the shrimp, which Lulu and I both eschew. We make The Greek eat it. He says the shrimp are room temp, making him leery on how long they have been sitting out.
Lulu orders asparagus cream soup. From the homemade pasta menu, cavatelli (spelling?) with porcini mushroom cream sauce. I try both, and they are good. The cavatelli is al dente. The mushrooms are fresh. The sauce is a tad on the salty side. I have to wonder, are my taste buds becoming too sensitive to salt? See my last posting about Gaucho's. Lulu says her pasta was predictable...she is very hard to please lately!
I order the Mole Poblano, I have always loved a good mole sauce. I also order a single tamale ($1.75 each) because my next door neighbor (of the people's periogi collective! http://peoplespierogi.com/) told me they are especially known for their tamales. The only ones available tonight are jalapeno cheese... bring it on! The Mole sauce was rich, over two chicken breasts, served with mexican rice, black beans and choice of corn or flour tortillas. I make a few yummy soft tacos out of it. The tamale was very good. My meal was pretty good overall.
The Greek ordered pasta puttanesca. Another favorite of mine, when I can get it. He requests parmesan, of which he gets a generous portion. The chef/?owner, who is walking about, looks greatly concerned at the parmesan. He explains that everything he has put into that sauce is already balanced....oops. We note that there are no olives in the puttanesca. Shouldn't there be? Again, we are not really on our game tonight, as we did not take advantage of the opportunity to talk to the chef. We are feeling lazy I think. The Greek declares tonight that he is a hotter chick than Mayim Bialik. Not sure how we landed on that subject?
Desserts: Black forest cake and a wildberry cake (with pomegranate seeds). Both are rather bland. Lulu and I have cappuccino, which I thought was decent.
The total came to $95 plus tip, not including the first drinks at the bar. The total does include a couple more glasses of wine and some Crown & Cokes for The Greek. Not too pricey compared to what we have been spending lately.
out of 5
The Greek and Lulu give El Barzon one D. I also forgot to mention that the waiter brought the wrong drink, brought a dirty glass, spilled parmesan in Lulu's water glass, and forgot to bring bread until The Greek requested some. I wanted to be a tad more generous with my rating, but majority rules.
I have to mention, lastly, that I did miss Thad because this menu had unusual things I know he would have tried, therefore I would have tried: Goat Tacos. Fish ravioli (scallops, shrimp and cherry tomatoes in a white sauce with ravioli stuffed with imported sea bass....Thad, you know you love sea bass!). They also had a special tonight, Goat chops!! Seriously. In a merlot sauce. We really missed out!
I cannot believe I almost forgot to mention Andrews on the Corner. We decide to drive cross town to Andrews, yet again (see Rattlesnake post). Mike "The Ninja" Bartender, of course you remember us! More internet jukebox craziness ensues... We have a great time. We will be back again, I think we will be regulars. Mike tells me I better brush up on my music knowledge before I return. I will digging out my old CD's. Watch out.
Next week: Pippi barbecues in Ferndale.

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Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse aka SALTY's

>> Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 18th. http://www.gauchosteakhouse.com/

We had a guest star, our returning Mrs. L.
I have never been to a Brazilian steakhouse before, so this was interesting. If you don't know, basically the servers walk around with large skewers of multiple meats and slice it onto your plate....all you can eat. At Gaucho's, there is no menu. You help yourself to the salad bar, and the servers walk around with the meat, $44 per person. You can opt for the salad bar only....for around $28, which is what Lulu does, of course.
Our server tonight was Michael, and I give him a shout out...he was so funny. Quite entertaining. Thank you Michael for great service!
We started with drinks, of course, and I ordered a caipirinha, which I have enjoyed elsewhere...love those! Mrs. L and Thad also enjoy these. Here they come regular style with the muddled limes, or you can have a strawberry or mango version. I wanted strawberry AND lime... Michael calls me high maintenance, HM. Thad orders a Brazilian black beer, Xingu, and I love it! He does not finish it...but I thought it was excellent. It's as dark as guinness but not at all heavy or bitter.
The salad bar has good variety, and we all were pretty pleased with it. Different salads, veggies, tortellini, soup, meats/cheeses and a mushroom risotto to die for! Everything on the salad bar was a winner to me. We are served a bread basket, with odd little rolls that Thad deems "pudding croissants". But Lulu and I agree they are more like popovers/Yorkshire pudding type of thingies. We are also served fried bananas (yum), garlic mashed potatoes, black beans, and white rice for the table. The black beans are too "porky" for vegetarian Lulu, which is disappointing as she loves black beans so! The garlic mash look scary to me...they are very shiny, almost shellacked. They taste "ok", Lulu thinks they come from a box. Lulu and Mrs. L especially loved the spinach salad with hearts of palm from the salad bar.
OK, here comes the meat! You get a little card that you flip to "yes please" or "no thank you" depending on if your ready for more meat, but you will come to realize that it does not really matter....you are offered more meat regardless, which is just fine. There are 15 different types of meat, and you have a little brochure to guide you if need be. One thing all the meats have in common....Salt. Salt. Now, i'm not saying that the meats were not tasty, they are, but they were all so salty to me. Mrs. L thinks that it depends on if you are getting an outside slice vs an inside piece, which may be true. I truly could not eat more than a few tastes of the meats before it was all too much. Thad, on the other hand, was having a meat-fest. He even loved the chicken, putting it above the filet. He also went nuts over the sausage. The sausage was super salty-garlicky. The Greek, of course, has lots of lamb.
Lulu wants to know why the servers wear "pirate pants" and Michael explains that the gauchos are worn by Brazilian cowboys. Mrs. L requests that they all line up and dance to "Can't Touch This". Michael thinks she is kidding.... The Greek concludes "No gaucho is any match for a Spartan!"
We order the house special after-dinner digestif, Licor 43. Now, I have been using Licor 43 for years at home to make cocktails at "the best bar in Ferndale", which is my basement. However, I never knew it was touted as a digestive aid after eating so much food? This is per Michael, but i'm still skeptical. Anywho... I love how they serve it from a block of ice frozen with fruit, and in chocolate cup shot glasses! We love it so much we order a second round! And guess what, it instantly makes Thad ready to order "more meat"! What a digestive miracle! Michael impresses me with his use of "miniscus" when referring to the bubble curve of the liqueur over the rim of my chocolate cup. I now forgive you for the blonde jokes...lol.
Michael and Licor 43
Desserts: we order a variety: chocolate lava cake, strawberry cheesecake, key lime pie, strawberry ice cream. All good. I order a Spanish coffee...yum. Mrs. L and The Greek have something called carneval coffee, which they like.
Drumroll on our tab...."the Rattler" is no longer the most expensive dinner!.....$495. But wait, that includes 20% gratuity....whew. We didn't know that at first!
We decide to split our ratings...giving Gaucho 3.5 D's for food, but DDDDD thats 5 D's for service. Thanks again Michael, but unfortunately, Thad is still talking about Laurel from Rattlesnake even a month later. Ugh.
We create a concept this night: progressive roulette dining. With no plan in sight, randomly stop at Detroit restaurants, a different one for each course... Hmmm? Maybe sometime in the upcoming weeks...
Next week: El Barzon.

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Union Street

>> Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 9th. Union Street: http://unionstreetdetroit.com/04/ No guest stars this evening. We put Lulu in the corner. Thad, aka Flash (because he is so fast in the shower), wears short socks with pants? So does the Greek. Is this a new fashion trend for men?

Our server is Juan. We like him, he is very friendly and has a cute laugh. He smiles and laughs a lot. We order appetizers: roasted garlic bulb with goat cheese, roasted red pepper and wine-braised portobello mushrooms....so good! Also the spinach artichoke dip, which is also good, but predictable.
Both Lulu and The Greek order the Gee-Gee, gourmet grilled cheese. Lulu gets black bean soup, The Greek orders tomato basil asiago soup. These sandwiches are great! I eat about a quarter of Lulu's GG. It is english windsor, red port wine/brandy cheese, swiss and provolone. The port & brandy cheese gives the gooey inside a pink hue, unusual for a grilled cheese. It is toasted on jalapeno-cheddar bread. The black bean soup is the best Lulu and I have ever tasted. The tomato basil is also good. The Greek also orders the french cream potatoes as a side, just to try them. We all agree, we do not like them. Definitely a thumbs down, and it is usually pretty hard to fuck up a potato, am I right?
Thad orders the shrimp & lobster casino: 1/2 dozen black tiger shrimp sauteed with lobster claw & tailmeat, garlic, shitake mushrooms, tomato, spinach, white wine, vermicelli pasta and roasted red pepper herb butter. He actually loves it. Thad actually orders something he likes! To quote the Life commercial, "He likes it, he likes it!"
I order the famous Dragon Eggs, which I have enjoyed before:
Dragon Eggs
They are basically chicken breast formed into balls and deep fried, with a gooey center of melted gorgonzola. These are drenched in rasta hot sauce and served over caesar salad with mandarin oranges. When you cut into one, the cheese oozes out. This dish is fantastic. The sauce is really hot, so you have to love spicy food to enjoy these!
Dessert: Strawberry amaretto cake and raspberry cheesecake, both very good, neither tastes like its store bought.
When I return from the restroom, Lulu has wrote in my notebook "If you marry me I will not look at another horse". Wtf? Is that a proposal? Oh, and that is not a stolen roll of toilet paper in my purse, but there is tissue in Lulu's "loaded bra". Don't ask. But I am out of toilet paper at home....
The total for the bill will be posted asap, as Lulu paid the bill and I do not remember!
Addendum: Total bill: $103 plus tip. I didn't mention my Ketel One martini and small glass of pinot grigio. Thad also had some sort of Czechoslovakian beer. Lulu and The Greek drank only lemonade....
Overall, I give Union Street DDDDD. Five D's. But I am biased as it is one of my favorite joints.
Next time: Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse in Northville. The website promises it to be the most exciting restaurant experience you have EVER had....

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Lulu cooks vegetarian...

>> Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Date: Friday, May 28th. The Place: Pippi's house in Ferndale.

Lulu and Thad arrive at my house while I'm still at work. Lulu slaves in the kitchen...she banishes Thad to the basement. The menu: Artichoke Bisque, Spring onion risotto croquettes with asparagus pesto cream sauce, Brie with spicy apple chutney and balsamic glaze. Yum. The Greek brings 4 bottles of red wine. We have a guest star this evening, Mrs L. She is to bring dessert, yet doesn't....promises to take us out for dessert instead!
I have to say, I loved this menu. My favorite was the Brie, which Lulu has made on other occasions for us, she knows we all love it. Especially The Greek, he wanted to just place the whole dish in front of himself. Can't blame him. My second favorite was the risotto croquettes, with a surprise center of gooey gouda cheese! The bisque was good, served with toasted bread topped with butter and a lemon/sea salt gremolata. The saltiness of the bread was a perfect combination with the bisque.
Thad, on the other hand, had a difficult time understanding the vegetarian concept. He added to the menu Old Bay Spice Blackened Prawns, which he grilled on my new "commercial" char-broil grill. I call them blackened, because like me, he did not expect my new grill to be as hot as the friggin sun. But it is, and he singed his arm hair. Thad did not really care for any other part of the menu. He tried. He doesn't like "complicated" food, or things combined together. Remember, Thad really doesn't like anything. But he tries everything.
Spring onion risotto croquettes with asparagus pesto cream sauce
We also have salad with a homemade fig vinaigrette. I mess up the salad by adding too much bleu cheese, which I thought would be a good combination with the fig, but it is not. The salad overall does not go over very well.
Toasted bread with butter and lemon sea salt gremolata.

Spring Onion Risotto Croquettes

Servings: 6

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 ½ c. Arborio rice (or quinoa)

2 spring onions (or green onion, asparagus, mushrooms, etc.)

6 cups vegetable stock

2 eggs

8 oz. gouda cheese, cubed

2 c. bread crumbs

Directions:

Separate green and white part of onion. Mince white part, set aside green part for later. In sauce pot, sauté olive oil and Arborio rice for 5 minutes. Add white spring onion. Gradually ladel in stock, 1 cup at at time, stirring often. Watch for each cup to mostly absorb before adding the next. Cool and add egg, mix well. Chill risotto for easier handeling. Once it’s cooled form into 12 portions. Stuff a cheese cube inside and roll into bread crumbs. Sauté in canola oil until golden brown. Top with frissee.

Note: Risotto should be creamy and the stove top prep assures this. When making croquettes the creaminess is not necessary so you may prepare it in the oven. Combine the risotto and broth in pan, cover and bake 20 minutes at 350. Makes for easier/faster prep.

Frissee:

Slice reserved green part of spring onion into long thin strips. Sauté in canola oil for 2-3 minutes. Drain. Use to garnish croquettes.

Spicy Apple Chutney (Common Grill Recipe)

1 T. veg. oil

1/4 very small red onion, diced

1/4 red pepper, diced

1/4 t. dry mustard

1/4 t. salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 jalapeno, minced

1 lb. Granny Smith Apples, peeled, diced

1/8 t. All Spice

1 T. golden raisins (I didn't add these)

3 T. Brown Sugar

2 T. Red Wine Vinegar

1/8 t. Ground Ginger (I didn't add this either)

Heat oil in saute pan, add onion, red pepper, mustard and salt. Cook until translucent about 5 minutes Add garlic, jalapeno, spices, apples; continue cooking for about 1 minute. Add raisins,brown sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil. Refrigerate until ready to use.

I serve this over Brie. At our dinner I also put reduced balsamic vinegar on the brie.

After dinner, we drink wine in the backyard for a while. The Greek and Lulu insist I watch youtube, Kelly/Shoes.... hilarious: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCF3ywukQYA.

Also, do you know why Top Gun is gay? youtube can tell you.

We decide to go to Inyo for dessert, which is only a couple blocks from my house. We LOVE tempura fried ice cream! http://www.inyorestaurant.com/

Thad, having starved to death at my house, orders some sort of "hot rock" dish, with raw fish and meats you cook yourself on a very VERY hot rock. Finally he gets to eat!! The rest of us share two ice creams....I must tell you, if you ever have the tempura fried ice cream at Inyo and like it, you MUST go to Godaiko in Novi and have it there. They fry, in tempura, golden pound cake slices, tempura fry the ice cream and a cinnamon-y sauce. The Greek, Lulu and I devoured this like ravenous wolves...Thad did not even get a single bite, there was no getting in to our huddle as we scraped every last morsel. That day, Lulu stated that the tempura-fried ice cream at Godaiko is the best food on the planet. http://www.mygodaiko.com/.

Oh, let me give a shout out to Matt and Andrew, two adorable & funny-as-hell barely-legal gay boys Lulu picked up at Inyo. Call us, boys, we want to hang out with you again! We promise Thad will wear his same blue shirt.

Next Post: Tonight, we are going to Union Street. I love dragon eggs!! Can't wait.

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one more thing...

>> Sunday, June 6, 2010

And a Happy Birthday to Thad today!!

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Rattlesnack Club & inital introduction

The Players: Lulu, vegetarian, and the cutest girl in all the land. The Greek. Thad. Pippi, thats me, the strongest girl in all the land, according to Wikipedia.

This posting is going to date back to May 20th, the Rattlesnake club, on the Detroit waterfront. http://www.rattlesnakeclub.com/
This was declared by the end of the evening, the most expensive dinner thus far, and we have barely begun! Also, figure in the cost that Thad had to shop for a new outfit for the occasion.
Having read some reviews online prior, I was not so sure what to expect service-wise. I read horrible reviews! But our service was great. Laurel, our waitress, was declared by Thad to be the "hottest waitress in the world". Thanks Laurel for your service and hotness!
We had a Guest Star this evening, Mr. P. He has also been called I.P.A. (international pale anonymous). He is very pale.
Drinks: Mr. P said his Bombay Sapphire and tonic was weak, I had to agree. I had the strawberry infused martini and it was delicious. The Greek, he orders a bottle of wine per Laurel's recommendation, without asking a price, we tease him it will be $300, and he sweats just a bit. It is the 2007 Patton Valley Pinot Noir, and we enjoyed it very much. $80.
The Menu works something like this. 3 price choices: $37, $47 or $57 for two, three or four courses respectively. Courses are starters, salad, entree, dessert and a cheese course. Portion sizes are not huge, but are actually appropriate sizes for what us average Americans should be consuming!
fried artichokes with parmesan and lemon-garic aioli.
Mr. P orders: Crispy Calamari starter and sea scallop entree. He enjoy them both. He states the calamari with the garlic aioli is "excellent".
Lulu orders the heirloom tomato salad and the sunchoke linguine. We share, like always, and the salad was really great, loved it. The sunchoke linguine....has a taste of horseradish, which I did not like, but Lulu loved it. The Greek orders, of course, lamb. Pistachio encrusted rack of lamb (Thad orders the same). He loves it. His starter, which we both thought was awesome, (because again, we all share bites) was the crispy fried artichokes with parmesan, almonds and lemon-garlic aioli. Really really great. He gets a side of garlic mashed potatoes, which Lulu declares the best potatoes she has ever had!
Tellicherry dusted Foie with dried cherries and caramelized onions
Thad orders the tellicherry dusted foie (a whole goose liver). What everyone needs to know about Thad, is he likes almost nothing. He can often tell the server "I know i won't like this but...." then proceed with his order. Also, he will usually order the most exotic or strange sounding thing on the menu - which is why I love dining with him. I will always get the chance to try something new. The foie, to me, tastes exactly like fried fat. Like the bit of brown fat left on a pork chop bone! It has a buttery texture. He also orders the cheese course, which is actually served to the whole table. Brie, bleu, warm honey and nuts. A few cheese I couldn't actually remember or pronounce. We devour it. The Greek fights "like a spartan" for the remainders of the cheese.
Thad entertains us with a story of his "goose hunting" days, ending with him cornering a goose and swinging it around by its neck...wtf? I am calling bullshit on that one... I order the seared tuna starter, which was just "ok". Asparagus linguine, which has long "shavings" of asparagus, pasta and a cream sauce. I really enjoyed it, but Lulu states it is "predictable" compared to her "surprising" sunchoke pasta.
We always share our desserts, like everything else. Mr. P orders something called Brulo, which I believe had mojito flavored ice cream? He stated it was awesome. I do not recall, because the wildberry slump was so delicious Lulu and I were blocking out all else. The Greek ordered the "popcorn flavored ice cream", it was interesting. We tried to order the white chocolate ravioli, but Laurel thankfully gave a no-no on that one, and brought it out anyway so we could sample it. She was right, not worthy of a full dessert, was more like a chocolate candy.
Total bill: $460 plus tip. We liked it, but for the price, we were not blown away, maybe we are all spoiled food snobs?
Our rating: DDDD That means 4 English D's out of 5! If anyone wants to help me find a font for old English D's, please help me!!
After-Dinner drinks: Andrews pub, http://andrewsonthecorner.com/. We had SO much fun, at least Lulu and I did fo sho. Mike "the ninja" bartender was the most entertainment we had in a long time! We played internet jukebox karaoke and discussed who would win in a fight, Axl Rose or Vince Neil...You know the answer to that! We will be back for more! The kitchen staff from "the Rattler" joined us, and we discussed the menu with super chef "Cheffy Jeff". Good times. Next Posting: Lulu cooks a vegetarian meal for us in Ferndale.

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