Tasty Tuesday–Gerard’s 1907 Tavern

We were in Bowling Green, KY, for my birthday last month, a town with restaurants that are mostly unfamiliar to me. I knew I wanted to try something different, so after some Googling, I found Gerard’s 1907 Tavern, which is located in a historic building right by Fountain Square Park, and just down the hill from Western Kentucky University. It turned out to be a great choice!

Both the outside and the inside of the building look really cool. I love the exposed brick, the light fixtures, and the ceiling beams…but I especially love the sense of history in the place!

The food was excellent. Since it was my birthday, we splurged a bit. We tried an appetizer of fried pickles and jalapeños with a homemade buttermilk sauce. They were delicious, and some of the jalapeños were amazingly spicy (for me, anyway…Ryan was unfazed). We also got drinks. Ryan had an old-fashioned (he approved), and I had a Paloma, which was quite tasty. We both ordered sandwiches for our entrées. Ryan had the Cuban, which he said was prepared just right, and I had the GT burger, which was topped with Henry Bain sauce, gouda, slaw, and tobacco onions. The burger wasn’t as rare as I prefer (unless I’m at Seamus, it never is), but the meat was good, and I loved the combination of toppings. We both had the hand-cut fries on the side, and they came with a great roasted red pepper ketchup.

I’m really glad we had the opportunity to try someplace new, and were rewarded with a great meal in the process!

Tasty Tuesday–Three Broomsticks

For the first time ever, I’m reviewing a restaurant in a theme park! This is very unusual for me, mostly because we haven’t really gone to a theme park before this summer (unless you count Six Flags, which I don’t). But while we were at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, the Fab Five and I ate lunch at Three Broomsticks, which is in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade area of the park, and we enjoyed our meal so much, I thought it deserved to be shared!

The atmosphere, like everything else in both Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas, is perfect. You really feel like you’re in one of the books or movies, eating in a restaurant in an actual village called Hogsmeade. The place was crowded, and we did have to wait in line, but it moved efficiently, the staff was very friendly, and we had so much fun looking around, it made the time pass quickly.

On to the food. I had assumed that theme park food would be only ok, and the portions would be small, but I was wrong about both. The fish and chips, which Bunny and I both ordered, were excellent…among the best I’ve ever had, and they even had malt vinegar on the tables, which made it even better. Turkey ordered a smoked turkey leg, which he really enjoyed. Ladybug felt the same about the chicken legs she ordered from the children’s menu. And Moose and Chickadee both liked the mac ‘n’ cheese, and the serving was so generous, I could hardly believe it…I can’t think of another restaurant I’ve been to (aside from Red Robin and their bottomless mac ‘n’ cheese refills), that dishes out such a large portion…and there were grapes and applesauce to go with it! The butterbeer, a staple in Harry’s world, was pictured at the Leaky Cauldron, but is also available at Three Broomsticks, and was delicious. Very sweet, but also quite refreshing…we’ve already figured out how to make a copycat recipe at home!

I won’t lie…the prices were pretty high for us. But I don’t think they were unreasonable, given the experience, the quality of the meal, and the amount of food we received. If we ever find ourselves back at Universal, I would happily eat another meal at Three Broomsticks!

Tasty Tuesday–Beast Craft BBQ: The Hawaiian

You would think that by now, Beast Craft BBQ would have run out of new combinations with which to tempt me.

You’d be wrong.

On Saturday, Beast introduced a new sandwich: The Hawaiian. It included pulled pork, smoked pineapple, and a jalapeño, cilantro, onion, and lime slaw. It sounded so good. But I was strong, and let it pass me by.

Until the next day, when it was on the menu again, and my resolve crumbled.

This sandwich is amazing. It’s even better than I thought it would be, and my expectations, because I know Beast so well, were high. The pulled pork, which I’ve had before, was as delicious as always. The slaw was just the right amount of spicy. And the smoked pineapple added the perfect extra something to the sandwich. I can only hope it appears on the menu again, because it was delicious!

Tasty Tuesday–The Original Rainbow Cone

Over the last few years, we’ve introduced the children at a lot of Chicago’s culinary specialties while we were up north. This year, I decided we should indulge in the famous “Rainbow Cone,” a well-known treat that I had never even had myself! I was relieved to see that the prices weren’t too bad, and the ice cream was delicious. They also get bonus points for offering an allergy option, which replaces the pistachio and Palmer House flavors with something nut free, so Moose could enjoy one, too!

This was a welcome treat on a hot day, and I think we might have to go back in the future, because everybody loved it!

Tasty Tuesday–Spinach-Artichoke Pasta

I wanted to make pasta on Mother’s Day, and I wanted that pasta to include artichokes somehow. This is what I came up with, and to my great surprise, it was a huge hit! You could also add some cooked, shredded chicken to the sauce if you want a heartier meal.

  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 10 oz. fresh spinach
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • 8 oz. sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan
  • 2 14 oz. cans quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 2 oz. capers, drained
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • Juice and zest of one lemon
  • 16 oz penne pasta with 1 cup reserved pasta cooking liquid
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water to desired doneness.  Reserve 1 cup of the water and drain pasta.
In a large pot, melt 2 Tbsp. butter over medium heat. Once hot, add spinach and stir until slightly wilted. Transfer wilted spinach to a colander and drain.
Add 4 Tbsp. butter to the same pot along with 4 oz cream cheese, 8 oz. sour cream, and 1 cup parmesan and stir until everything melts and starts to bubble. Add minced garlic.
Stir in drained artichokes and capers and cook an additional 1-2 minutes, then add drained spinach, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Cook until hot then toss in the cooked, drained pasta. Stir in reserved pasta water to thin sauce if desired. Serve with additional shredded parmesan.

Tasty Tuesday–Schnitzel and Spätzle and Strudel…Oh My!

It seemed like we waited over 400 years for the Belleville Hofbräuhaus to open, but they are finally fully operational. Of course, we had anxiously anticipated eating at this restaurant since the day we heard they were going to build it, and now we’ve been there twice in two weeks! That was kind of an anomaly, because of a birthday celebration, so I think it will be awhile before we go back, but I’m excited to share our experience(s)!

First of all, the restaurant is HUGE. It is billed as the largest Hofbräuhaus in America (30,000 square feet!!!), but you don’t really get just how big it is from driving by…you really have to go inside to  understand its grand scale!

In addition to seating for 450 in the restaurant (and that doesn’t even count the banquet room), there’s also an outdoor biergarten that can seat over 200, and the weather is finally nice enough for diners to enjoy it!

Both times we went, there was live music. Since they bring musicians in from Europe every month, we got to see two different bands (one in April and one in May), and both were great…I think we heard all of our German favorites, including “Edelweiss,” “Mein Hut, der hat drei Ecken,” and “Roll out the Barrel.” We also enjoyed the sounds of the alphorn the first time we visited.

The brewery is a big part of the operation, and they are always brewing several varieties of beer (according to the Reinheitsgebot), including a seasonal selection.

Of course, the main attraction is the food (ok, depending on who you ask, because some people are there for the beer!), and the menu is quite extensive:

We tried two different appetizers…Bayerischer Raditeller (shaved radishes and rye bread) and a jumbo pretzel with Obatzda cheese, sweet mustard, and onion mustard. Both were excellent!

We tried quite a few main courses over our two visits, as well. Pictured here is Schnitzel Wiener Art, Kartoffelpuffer, the special “sausage tower,” Sauerbraten, Schweinebraten, Bavarian potato salad, and my personal favorite, Paniertes Jägerschnitzel (with spätzle, of course!). Ryan said it’s the best schnitzel he’s had outside of Vienna!

We tried three beers over the two visits, as well…Märzen, Dunkel, and Maibock:

We even had a dessert, and let me tell you, the Apfelstrudel is AMAZING!!!

Did I mention that the servers wear German national dress?

There’s even a small gift shop, where they have a variety of beer glasses, imported candy, and other German novelties:

After waiting so long for the Hofbräuhaus to open, I was a little worried it might not live up to the hype, but in my opinion at least, it really does. It feels just like I imagine a real German bierhall does, and the atmosphere, with the music, the lederhosen, and the enthusiastic diners just reinforces that feeling. It’s a great experience, and I’m already looking forward to whenever we might get to go back!

Tasty Tuesday–Bow-tie Pasta with Sausage and Tomatoes in a Cream Sauce

  • 1 12 oz. box bow-tie pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 lbs. ground pork sausage
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water  until al dente; drain.

While pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Cook sausage and pepper flakes until sausage is evenly brown. Stir in onion and garlic, and cook until onion is tender. Deglaze pan with white wine. Stir in tomatoes, cream, Italian seasoning, and salt. Simmer until mixture thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.Stir cooked pasta into sauce, and heat through.