The Publican, Chicago

Looking for a decent meal in Chicago we decided to make a quick reservation at The Publican for dinner. We were definitely pleased with our decision! The interior has a huge communal table wrapping around the middle of the room with smaller tables along the sides, we were lucky enough to get a private table (not that we don’t like sharing!). The Publican of course is owned by the same people as Publican Quality Meats next door, and as such they offer some top notch cured meats.

We ordered the following:
House Pickles
Half Charcuterie – Head Cheese, Pork Pie
Beef Heart Tartare
Wild Chicken
Blood Pasta
Buttermilk Cake with Strawberry Icecream

All of the dishes were awesome! Although our favourites were definitely the head cheese and the beef heart tartare. Overall, they had great ambience, drinks, service and food! Instead of reading this you should just go check it out yourself!

The Publican
837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607

minilink The Publican, Chicago

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Blood Pasta

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Wild Chicken with Sausage and Fries

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Beef Heart Tartare

Posted: July 27th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Homebrews: Belgian Strong Brown Ale and Hopped Wheat Bock

I promised I would update the blog once my latest two creations were ready and here they are!

Belgian Strong Brown 579x1024 Homebrews: Belgian Strong Brown Ale and Hopped Wheat BockBelgian Strong Brown Ale

First is a Belgian Strong Brown Ale similar to a Rocheforte 8 or a Chimay Blue. I did not have high hopes for this one because of how docile it was in the fermentation tank (and because we left out 3.3 lbs of dry malt extract that the recipe called for). However, this one was a super star. Pronounced dark fruit (plums, cherries) flavours, interesting hoppiness and deceptively boozy like a good strong ale should be. Note also the explosive carbonation. I would be proud to put my label on this (as you can see, we try to peel the labels off the bottles we reuse).

Hopped Wheat Bock 579x1024 Homebrews: Belgian Strong Brown Ale and Hopped Wheat BockHopped Wheat Bock

Next is a hopped wheat bock, similar in vein to the hoppy Schneider Weisse Tap 5, but a bit darker in colour. This is due to the presence of a very darkly roasted “chocolate” wheat malt in the mash. While this wasn’t a total let-down, I did feel that the hop character completely overwrote most of the “wheatiness” that I think a wheat beer should have. It was also a bit tart and apple-y, which may been a result of the Bavarian Wheat Yeast we used. But I also suspect the fact that initial reaction of the yeast in the mash caused this beer to overflow out of the fermentation tank, possibly exposing it to airborne yeasts, may have had something to do with it.

Posted: July 26th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Vanessa’s Dumpling House, New York City

Having talked about Prosperity Dumpling already, we obviously have to mention Vanessa’s Dumpling House, their main (cleaner) competitor. Vanessa’s is just a few minutes walk away from the original Prosperity Dumpling location and has the same $1 deal for an order of pan-fried dumplings. However, Vanessa’s offers a more complete menu, selling a variety of noodle soups and Chinese sandwiches in addition to dumplings.

We would have to say that we prefer Vanessa’s to Prosperity Dumpling mainly just because they have a proper seating area and is kept slightly cleaner.

Vanessa’s Dumpling House
118 Eldridge St
New York, NY 10002

minilink Vanessas Dumpling House, New York City

IMG 33591 1024x768 Vanessas Dumpling House, New York City

Pan Fried Dumpling

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Sesame Pancake with Roast Duck

Posted: July 25th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Ramen Jiro, Meguro-ku, Nakameguro, Tokyo

Exterior to Ramen Jiro Nakameguro 1024x576 Ramen Jiro, Meguro ku, Nakameguro, TokyoExterior of Ramen Jiro Nakameguro

I spent 20 days in Japan and I still couldn’t begin to tell you how the address system works. So I’ll just say that to get to this place, you get off at Nakameguro station, you walk South-East on Yamate Dori (one of the few streets with a name!) for about 15 to 20 minutes and it’ll be the place on the right hand side of the road with a big line-up. The particular line-up in the picture above was on a crappy, rainy Sunday right before opening time at 6 pm.

What those good folks were lined up for was one of the branches (unfortunately, not the original) of one of Tokyo’s most revered chain of ramen noodle joints.

Interior to Ramen Jiro Nakameguro 1024x576 Ramen Jiro, Meguro ku, Nakameguro, TokyoInterior of Ramen Jiro Nakameguro

And joint it was! Definitely among the greasier-spooned of places during my 20 days in Japan. This place reminded me of a cramped version of the neighbourhood Souvlaki/Burger hut. Except this joint has manga magazines the size of phone books underneath the counters where you sit.

The menu was a vending machine that dispensed different coloured plastic chips. You took these chips, placed them on the counter and in exchange were served a big heaping bowl of noodles. Obviously since more is always better, we sprang for the most expensive bowl (¥900 or USD $8.85, cheaper than any place in the US or Canada). We were presented with an enormous bowl of thick, firm, house-made noodles; a pile of bean sprouts; and what felt like the entire loin of an innocent pig. All of which was sitting in a liter of broth with suspended pork fat and (roughly) a kilogram of garlic. It is impossible to understate how garlicy this concoction was.

We finished… most of it.

The Bowl 1024x576 Ramen Jiro, Meguro ku, Nakameguro, TokyoThe Bowl

The Broth 576x1024 Ramen Jiro, Meguro ku, Nakameguro, TokyoThe Broth

Posted: July 24th, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Goose Island Bourbon County Stout

For those that know me, I’m normally not a huuuge fan of stouts, however we were stopping by the Goose Island Brewery in Chicago and when they had the Bourbon County Stout I had to give it a try! I’ll try to give a rundown of the usual stuff that one finds in a beer review, the beer was served in a snifter glass and poured with limited head and was more or less black. On those nose I got some obvious malt and chocolate aromas. In terms of flavour, the beer was awesome, with all the great flavours of stouts (vanilla, chocolate, caramel) but all balanced nicely, and coming in at around 15% ABV you could definitely taste the alcohol in this one (not a bad thing). Definitely one of the best stouts I’ve had (along with the AleSmith Speedway Stout), and perhaps will entice me to try some more.

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Bourbon County Stout

Posted: July 23rd, 2014 | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only Cafe

 Crab Po Boy 1024x579 Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only CafeCrab Po’ Boy

I was looking for a place to eat dinner with some friends before heading to one of my favourite Toronto hangouts, The Only Cafe. The Only is a haven for quality Canadian beer, including carrying one of my favourite Canadian beers, Dieu du Ciel’s Péché Mortel (also the best beer in Canada according to Rate Beer). The Only is also apparently a hostel and as they have no on-site kitchen (strange, for a hostel, I think) they encourage you to bring in food from the outside!

According to the internet, the best place to enjoy an extremely competent meal, reasonably priced and made with seasonal ingredients is The Wren. Not surprisingly, The Wren is also no slouch when it comes to Canadian beers. However, the show-stoppers are clearly the food. On the first occasion, I had the Softshell Crab Po’ Boy (pictured above) with the side salad. This was a fantastic sandwich and featured an entire crab (or two?) topped with their pink pickled onions (used liberally in most dishes) and seaweed salad. I liked it so much that I came on a second occasion two or three weeks later, only to discover that my beloved sandwich was no longer on the menu! I went instead for one of their classics: a pulled pork chimichange (again with the side salad, I like to think I’m eating healthy). Moist insides, crispy outsides, delicious saucing throughout. For $15, it’s one of the best casual things you can sit down and eat with your friends in Toronto.

A word of caution: Danforth, East of Pape is a neighbourhood that is on the come-up… but isn’t quite there yet. It’s not uncommon to run into drunken individuals walking down the street before noon. That said, both of these establishments definitely make the journey worth the trip.

The Only Cafe
972 Danforth Ave
Toronto ON M4J1M1
minilink Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only Cafe

The Wren
1382 Danforth Ave
Toronto, ON M4J1M9
minilink Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only Cafe

Chimichanga 579x1024 Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only CafeChimichanga

Peche Mortal 579x1024 Night Out in East End Toronto: Dinner at The Wren, Drinks at The Only CafePeche Mortal on Tap at The Only Cafe

Posted: July 22nd, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Cafe Sushi, Cambridge

After having paid far too much money for mediocre sushi at Fuji on multiple occasions, we found Cafe Sushi. While the outside looks like your typical American sushi joint serving up teriyaki chicken and california rolls, we were pleasantly surprised when we entered to see what looked like a much more serious sushi joint. We plopped ourselves down at the bar in front of the sushi chef and ordered one of their sushi lunches and a couple of their fresh offerings (listed daily on a hand-written board), making sure of course to mention that we wanted to have a piece of the otoro!

Overall the sushi in the sushi lunch was above average, but the fresh pieces (ordered a la carte off the blackboard) were definitely the standouts. Unfortunately ordering the fresh pieces came at a premium, but was still definitely worth it. Cafe Sushi was definitely the best sushi joint we tried in Boston (other than O Ya), so check it out if you haven’t already!

Cafe Sushi
1105 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138

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Outside Cafe Sushi

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Fresh Sushi at Cafe Sushi

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Sashimi Lunch at Cafe Sushi

Posted: July 21st, 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »