Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oklahoma City: Cattlemen's Steakhouse

My first stop after landing at OKC was Cattlemen's. Despite my many visits to Oklahoma, I had never been there. It is located in Stockyard City, one of the older parts of town. The interior is 50's style old fashioned and very well maintained, giving an air of comforting hominess. The white linen napkins are another sign of old style service.

I started with a salad. I usually don't get creamy sauces, but I really enjoyed this garlic sauce. The garlic was noticeable but well balanced by the mayonnaise base.

For my main course, I ordered the blue ribbon steak. It's a nightly special of USDA prime meat. Tonight, it was a ribeye, my favorite cut. The steak was simply wonderful: tender, rich, juicy, perfectly cooked. The first thing I noticed about it was that it had been carefully trimmed of fat. The fat you care about, of course, is the marbling. The fat around the edges just gets in the way. I always like mushrooms with my steaks, but these were perhaps the best mushrooms paired with steak I've ever had. Their own meatiness was combined with the meatiness of the steak; to top things off, they were buttery soft. The mixed vegetables were great, with just enough butter. I used the bread to soak up the juices of both the mushrooms and the steak.

Cattlemen's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Ben's Brown Bag

Ben's Brown Bag is located in the Westside district on Howell Mill Road. It's one of the new generation of high-quality fast food restaurants. It serves organic beef and other high quality ingredients. It goes a step further with the fast-food theme by having only outdoor seating, which is quite pleasant.

Today's special was the spicy version of their chicken sandwich. Everything about it was great. The chicken was fresh out of the frier and sported a perfectly crispy crust. The sauce had just the right amount of heat, balanced with some creamy smoothness. A very satisfying meal, overall.

Ben's Brown Bag on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 18, 2013

Rochester NY: Red Osier

On my way out of Rochester, I took my opportunity to grab a snack at the Red Osier stand at the airport. It's an outpost of a well-known Buffalo-area restaurant.

I had to try the Buffalo weck. The kummelweck bun is what really makes it---hearty bread topped with a little caraway and a healthy dose of kosher salt. The dense, rocky salt gives the roll not just taste but also texture. The beef was soft and juicy. It made a perfect treat to keep me going on the flight home.

Red Osier on Urbanspoon

Rochester NY: Jine's

My University of Rochester colleagues started our day with breakfast at Jine's. The neighborhood is very pretty; the restaurant has a lot of windows, which is particularly welcome in the morning.

I went for the buckwheat pancakes with strawberries, plus an egg on the side. Buckwheat pancakes are something you don't see every day. Their flavor is a little hard to describe---very distinct from white flour or whole wheat. The pancakes were thick and fluffy, just right. The strawberries were very fresh.

Jines on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rochester NY: Pane Vino

My friend Eby Friedman knew that I needed an Italian food fix, so he took me to Pane Vino. It's located in downtown Rochester in an old building that has been elegantly renovated and furnished. The atmosphere is great and the service is very gracious and generous.

We started with some great sautéed calamari. The tomato sauce included some olives that gave it a wonderful tang. The dish was light enough to make a perfect appetizer.

For my main course, I selected the veal saltimbocca, something I haven't had for awhile. It was also superb. The sauce was savory but light. The side vegetables were hearty and tender. Eby reported that his lobster in cream sauce was outstanding.

We also tried the pasta. It was light and had the perfect texture. The sauce was good but it didn't have quite the pizzaz of the other dishes.

For dessert, I selected the crème brulee, which was perfectly prepared with a crispy crust and an eggy, creamy center. Eby enjoyed the waiter's recommendation for the cream cheese pound cake as a dessert that wasn't overly sweet.

Pane Vino on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 14, 2013

Le Petit Marche

Le Petit Marche is in the Kirkwood neighborhood, a rapidly changing neighborhood. LPM is in one of the new apartment blocks. The decor is very inviting and the staff friendly, although I did find their decision to have the order desk and cash register at opposite ends of the restaurant to be a little confusing.

For lunch, I had the roast beef and brie sandwich, which was excellent. The roast beef was very tender. The brie was carefully spread on the bread so everything held together very well. In between the beef and brie was a nice healthy selection of greens. I ordered the slaw for my side, which was incredibly green. The strands were a little long, making it hard to neatly get into my mouth, but the taste was very refreshing.

Le Petit Marché on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 7, 2013

San Diego: Croce's

I happened upon Croce's in the Gaslamp District and had a very pleasant meal. The restaurant is owned by the family of singer/songwriter Jim Croce; yes, the title of their cookbook really is "Thyme in a Bottle." The service was what one would hope for in a family establishment: attentive and gracious but not overbearing.

I started off with a gazpacho soup that was very refreshing. It included a few chunks of avocado as well as tomato and other tidbits. A cold soup needs to be a little thick but not in a heavy way; this soup his the right balance of textures.

My main course was a wild salmon. The skin was seared very nicely; a few pieces of savory bacon garnished the top. It was surrounded with several types of beans and a broth that featured ginger. The salmon was very nicely cooked and the beans and broth were an outstanding accompaniment.

Croce's Restaurant and Jazz Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Montreal: Montreal Poutine

I simply had to try poutine on my visit to Montreal. Montreal Poutine, in Old Montreal, sounded like the place to go. The location is quite nice with outdoor seating on a quiet side street.

As you can see, poutine is a combination of three of the four major food groups: fries, brown sauce, and cheese. This rendition was quite tasty. I was brought up to eat my fries with ketchup, but the savory brown sauce really does add some character to the fries. The cheese curds give the brown sauce just enough body---a cheese sauce would be too heavy.

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