Tasty Tuesday–Sugarfire 64: The Cuban Reuben

My love of Beast Craft BBQ is well-documented, and I never thought I’d have a need for any other BBQ, but ever since Sugarfire Smoke House opened a location in the Metro East, Sugarfire 64, I knew I would have to try it out eventually. Sunday was that day.

Why Sunday, you may wonder? Well, Sugarfire recently took first place at the 2018 Sandwich World Championship. And on Sunday, they offered the World’s Best Sandwich, the Cuban Reuben, at the O’Fallon location. Not only did I want to try out the best sandwich in the world, I’m a sucker for a reuben, so it was the perfect opportunity.

The sandwich had three types of meat…pit ham, pastrami, and pulled pork…all were delicious. That was topped with Swiss cheese, horseradish mustard, and pickles. And if all that wasn’t enough, the “bun” was actually two grilled cheese sandwiches, which had both provolone and white American cheese and sourdough bread. I added some of Sugarfire’s white BBQ sauce, too.

When they say “World’s Best Sandwich,” they’re not exaggerating, at least not by much. It was the perfect combination of ingredients for lovers of both Cuban sandwiches and Reubens. The BBQ sauce was good, too (Ryan thinks Beast’s is still the best, and I tend to agree, although I’m not a connoisseur of BBQ sauce like he is), and the portions were beyond generous….splitting it was definitely not a problem! I also tried the brisket au gratin potatoes for my side, and if that isn’t comfort food right there, I don’t know what is.

Beast will always be my first BBQ love, but I wouldn’t mind going back to Sugarfire 64 and trying some of their other offerings, because their food is excellent!

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–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–Shogun

Last week I took Turkey out for an early birthday dinner at a restaurant he’s really been wanting to eat at…Shogun!

Shogun is a Japanese restaurant that has a traditional dining room, a sushi bar, and a teppanyaki menu. The interior of the restaurant looked exactly like I hoped it would, with lots of cherry blossoms, bamboo, and even a fountain:

We started off with a sashimi plate, and all of the varieties of fish on it were excellent. I liked the salmon best, and Turkey liked the white fish (we’re not entirely sure what it was) the most, but they were all so good!

Our dinners came with soup and salad, and while I don’t know exactly what kind of soup it was, or what variety of salad dressing we were served, I know that they were both delicious. So was the drink I tried (the Buddha)…it was very tropical!

The best part of the experience was watching the chef prepare our meal. Not only was he a great cook, he was also funny, and a great showman. He even tried to flip pieces of food into Turkey’s mouth while he was cooking!

Turkey ordered the filet and lobster tail, and I had the filet and scallops. We both also got vegetables, fried rice, and shrimp with our meals. It was a lot of food! Everything was cooked just right, and seasoned well.

Even though we were full, and had to get takeout boxes to bring home part of our dinners, we had to try the mochi ice cream for dessert. Turkey had the green tea variety, and I had the red bean. They were both fantastic!

This was a really fun, unique, and delicious experience, and a great way to celebrate Turkey’s birthday!

Tasty Tuesday–The Best of Beast!

I’m still super excited that Beast Craft BBQ made the top 20 of Ian Froeb’s “STL 100” restaurant list, and was named the “best barbecue restaurant in the St. Louis area” on that list! I thought today, it would be fun to take a look back at all of the amazing meals I’ve had at Beast over the last three-plus years:

Some of the items pictured are from when Beast was just starting out, and don’t really appear on the menu anymore. Some are rather new addition’s to Beast’s menu, and are available regularly. And a few have been there from the beginning, and are such favorites that they’re menu staples. They all have one thing in common, though, and that’s how delicious they are!

Tasty Tuesday–Beast Craft BBQ: Wagyu Beef Eater

Last Saturday morning, I woke up to discover that the St. Louis-Post Dispatch had published Ian Froeb’s “STL 100” restaurant list online, a day ahead of the print version coming out in the paper. I always look forward to this list, because I like to see what food in St. Louis is good. In general, the top spots are taken up by fancy restaurants that I just can’t afford to eat at. This year, however, I can actually say that I’ve eaten at a “Top 20” restaurant…frequently!!!…because Beast Craft BBQ right here in Belleville made the cut, and was also named the “best barbecue restaurant in the St. Louis area!” This of course came as no surprise to me, because I’ve know about Beast’s awesomeness for over three years now, but it’s still exciting every time they receive another accolade!

Anyway, in honor of that, Ryan decided that I should try something new from Beast for lunch that day. I’ve heard so much good buzz about the Wagyu beef that I knew I had to try the Wagyu Beef Eater, which almost seems like it was custom-made for me, because it has all my favorites: beer braised beef, grilled onions, horsey sauce, and Swiss cheese, all served on Beast’s amazing Texas toast:

I am not exaggerating when I say the beef just melted in my mouth…Wagyu definitely lives up to the hype! The sauce was perfect, and gave the sandwich just the right kick. And of course, grilled onions and Swiss always make a beef-based sandwich even more delicious!

I also tried the loaded fries (I know…I’m just as shocked as you are that I didn’t get the fried Brussel sprouts, because they’re my favorite, but I wanted to try something new!). Beast makes great fries, and these were topped with sauced pork, white cheddar jalapeño cheese, and green onions. This, too, was delicious, and the cheese was just the right amount of spicy.

On a side note, you currently have the opportunity to reserve your Easter ham from Beast…a beautiful, Compart Family Farms Duroc cherry-smoked ham at that. They’re 8-9 pounds (bone-in) and they look amazing. If you’re looking for something new for your Easter table, you can’t go wrong with Beast!

Tasty Tuesday–Flip’s

Chicago has a lot of great food, and the best kind of restaurant is one that has a wide selection of favorites like gyros, Italian beef and/or sausage, patty melts, and hamburgers. Flip’s in Glen Ellyn, IL, is just such a place.

Now, I know that when I lived in Wheaton, I drove by Flip’s on Roosevelt Road countless times. I don’t think I actually ate there back then, though. That all changed when we were up in the Chicago area for Frosty Faustings, and I’m glad I finally had a chance to try it out!

The interior is just what you would expect…small! Small and friendly, with a good menu, and fun vintage details:

The food was excellent. I went with my personal favorite, gyros, and they were prepared just right. Turkey was ambitious and ordered a gyro burger, and he loved it. Among other things, members of our group also tried the tuna melt (delicious) and the saganaki (also delicious).

There are many places like Flip’s all throughout Chicagoland, and if you’re visiting, you should pick one and try some of Chicago’s (delicious) native foods!

 

Tasty Tuesday–Schnitzel Platz

When we were in Chicago recently, we had the opportunity to go to dinner at Schnitzel Platz in Glendale Heights. For those of us anxiously awaiting the opening of the Hofbräuhaus downstate here in Belleville, an authentic German meal was very welcome!

The inside is just what you’d expect in a German restaurant, and I loved it! It also smelled like a German restaurant (so pretty much like beer, sauerkraut and pork), even before we walked in the front door!

The menu is amazing. One look at the extensive selection of schnitzels was all I needed to know that I would be able to find something fantastic!

I tried to photograph all of the German foods at our table, from the pre-dinner pretzels to the soup and salad selections, and of course the main courses! I personally enjoyed the liver dumpling soup, which is something I had never tried before and is way out of my comfort zone, but I shouldn’t have worried…it was delicious! I also had my favorite preparation of schnitzel…the Jäger Schnitzel, which has a nice mushroom sauce. In addition, I chose Spätzle (of course!), and sauerkraut to complete my meal. I had a Spatenbräu with my dinner, and some of the children enjoyed Sprecher root beer (they loved that it was served in a mini stein!). Also pictured are the German salad plate, which had beets, red cabbage, and cucumber and carrot salads, Wiener schnitzel with Spätzle and red cabbage, Panierte Schweine Koteletten (fried pork chops), with red cabbage and a dumpling, Goulash, and Käse Spätzle from the children’s menu.

We especially enjoyed the live accordion music that accompanied our meal:

There was also a lovely dessert selection…unfortunately, we were all too full from dinner to try anything, but it sure was nice to look at!

Our meal was amazing. Everything tasted just right, and the portions were quite generous. The only downside was how busy it was on a Saturday night. Even though we had a reservation, we had to wait to be seated, and we waited even longer for our food to be prepared. But between the live music and the great energy in the restaurant (various diners were singing and/or dancing most of the time we were there!), even that wasn’t too big of a deal, and I’d definitely go back if I had the chance…just maybe on a week night next time!

Updating with some pictures from our second visit to the Schnitzel Platz in May 2018, where I had the chance to celebrate my 1st 39th birthday a few weeks early. We tried some appetizers this time: Baked Camambert with raspberry sauce and potato pancakes. Turkey tried the cream of mushroom soup before his meal, and for dinner, he had the sauerbraten, while Ladybug had the bratwurst and I had Rahm Schnitzel. I even tried a dessert…hazelnut cake (with a birthday candle), enjoyed to the tune of “Happy Birthday” played on cowbells. The Amazing Mike also played flute, trumpets (two at once!), guitar, banjo, and bottles! It was a completely different, and completely fun experience!