Posted in Giving, Travel

Eat It

It’s no secret that quite a lot of my time spent in America is spent eating. It truly is the land of plenty – so much to choose from, but only 3 meals a day to fit it into. Creativity is required to fit everything in. Before we go over, usually Anne, my cousin, will ask us for a list of “must-eats”, so she can plan a loose schedule to take in as many of the spots on our wishlist as possible. Anne, like me, is a professional planner, we love a list, and we love to tick things off it!

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Skyline Chili is one of the must-do things in Cincinnati. The city is famous for its chili, but it’s not chili as you know it. It’s spiced with cinnamon, cloves and other strange things to give it a slightly sweet but definitely savoury taste. Some critics have described it as “quintessentially American”, others have called it “the worst regional American food” there is, but it’s a definite must-experience when you’re dining in Cincinnati. Traditionally for our family, it’s a lunchtime thing – we’ll meet Anne from work and have Skyline at the restaurant next to her office, and also it’s an on-the-way-to-the-airport snack to fortify you for a transatlantic flight.

 

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ihop, or International House Of Pancakes to give it its Sunday name, is another place frequently on our list. Who knew there were so many breakfast options? I particularly like breakfast in America as they are a) so accommodating with substitutions, no eggs, etc b) are quite happy for you to order a bunch of sides c) their bacon is just the best and d) you can have as many drinks refills as you like and then they’ll give you another drink in a cup to go at no extra charge.

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Mulled cider for breakfast? Aye, go on then. Start your day off with a festive swing. I usually have these chicken florentine crepes and they are just amazing, though not all that to look at.

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New to me this time – Frisch’s Big Boy:

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The tartare sauce is the thing here – it’s mighty tasty. A bit like Big Mac sauce but way better. Their onion rings were a solid 7/10.

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And of course, no trip to the States is complete without at least one visit to Five Guys, the best burgers there are. Their first Scottish location opened in Glasgow last week though, so now it may drop off the list, as we’ll be able to go whenever we like – yay! Not yet though, as apparently the queues are horrendous. I think it’s worth waiting for, they’re really delicious, good quality, well-cooked and I just like their ethos.

I’m probably not finished talking about food yet, but for now, I’ll leave it there. The Crafty Lass, you’re the winner of the Christmas giveaway!

Posted in Living

Burger Meats Bun

bmb

Last week, to celebrate Lee’s birthday, we went on a surprise trip into town (surprise for Lee, not me, obviously, I organised it) to the Good Spirits Co, for a bourbon tasting evening. More on that another time. Beforehand though, we went to the brand new Burger Meats Bun, just round the road on West Regent Street, for what the kids are calling the best burgers in town.

Lee and I are big burger fans, in both senses of the phrase, so I was pretty excited to read about this place and also pretty excited to share it with Lee, as I knew he hadn’t heard about it.  I was a bit worried about getting a table on a Friday evening but knew they didn’t take reservations for small parties, so took a chance and off we went.

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As you can see, I needn’t have worried. We arrived after 6, and there was only one other table seated!  We were shown to a small table at the back and given menus to peruse. I’d already studied the menu inside and out earlier in the week, of course.

menu

The menu is sparse. That’s fine though, as these guys are clearly going with what they know is good and that they can do well – specialisation. I like that. There were no specials on when we were in, or at least not that anyone told us about.

drinksmenu

Drinks are a bit more plentiful. On the expensive side, but more choice.

We made our choices, ordered and settled back to wait for our food with eager anticipation. The waitress came and plonked down a massive roll of kitchen paper on the table – I’d read about this online, so knew it was coming and what I needed it for, which is just as well as she didn’t offer any explanation. In fact, she didn’t offer much in the way of enthusiasm at all, unfortunately!

interior

The interior has a slight canteen in the Industrial Zone of the Crystal Maze feel to it. I am sure it’s meant to be quirky and all, and I usually like that sort of thing, but I don’t think it gels together, personally. In a restaurant this new, it just feels like they haven’t quite finished decorating yet and the twee motto on the wall is more in keeping with a chintzy tea room than a spartan burger joint. I did love the handmade tables though, nice touch, as well as the industrial lighting.

smokin

The food arrived pretty quickly – I got the Smokin Bacon burger and Lee had the Fiery. We also had a side of slaw and a side of Thai Chili Cheese Fries. The burgers are presented in paper, takeaway style – no plates here! The buns are tasty, slightly chewy but crisp brioche buns – perfect for these juicy burgers.

When I say juicy, I mean JUICY. That kitchen roll really comes in handy to mop up the torrent of meatiness that will gush all over your hands and down your arms. The burgers themselves, slightly pink, are delicious.

The slaw was pretty underwhelming, to be honest. At £3 for that little pot, I felt pretty ripped off. I’d want those vegetables to be sliced by Jesus at that price, but I have it from a reliable source that he was out of town that day. The chili cheese fries were zingy and crisp, I hear.

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Juicy and delicious. Oh, yeah.

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Never ones to let a dessert opportunity pass by, we ordered one of each of the two desserts on the menu. The burger and shake was a neat idea, a milkshake that tasted like melted ice cream and a macaron “burger”. The doughnuts were a bit stodgy and needed the bitter chocolate dipping sauce to give them some flavour.

So, overall, a few low points. I’d read up about this place before we went, and read several reviews, and all of the things I read reiterated how this was a real passion project for the chef/owner and how enthusiastic they were about local produce, etc. This enthusiasm really needs to be urgently communicated to the waiting staff.

The girl who initially served us could not have been less interested in us if she’d tried. She didn’t tell us about the place, despite it being a mere week old, she didn’t direct us to any of the information about the idea behind BMB, nor did she make any recommendations or tell us about the specials (there may or may not have been specials on, but from the BMB Facebook page, they seem to regularly have these now). When she wasn’t serving us or the other table, she mooched around, eyeing us up and generally made us feel pretty uncomfortable. I’ve worked as a waitress, I know it’s hard to look busy when you’re waiting for customers and it’s a bit quiet. There’s a fine line between being attentive and handy if the diners need help and hovering like an annoying wasp at a picnic though and she was sadly on the wrong side of that line.

They actually seemed to be a bit over-staffed at the time we were there, so perhaps they’d been expecting to be a bit busier earlier in the evening too. It did start to pick up a bit as we left, though. I think the service itself was fine, in that our food arrived quickly and they were polite, but it was lacklustre and I’d expected more from such a destination dining place.

Anyway, aside from that, my other main gripe is price. It’s expensive, there’s no two ways about that. As a small business owner, I know that there are many hidden overheads to try and squeeze in to your price point and I appreciate that. I don’t have too many qualms with paying for a good quality burger – you get what you pay for when it comes to meat and I am fine with that. However, I personally feel that some items are overpriced and not in any way good value, ie the slaw.

The menu is limited and as I said earlier, that’s great as they are clearly specialising. But it does limit somewhat the chances of the casual diner returning. They’re going to need to up the specials and expand the menu a little to get repeat business. They’re not Five Guys, they don’t have the fast food vibe going, and neither are they on the beaten track, so they are going to need to pull people away from Glasgow’s main thoroughfares with something more than a £7.50 entry point for burgers. I worry about their longevity (so they don’t have to, I’m nice like that).

It was also hotter than Hades down in their wee basement! It is unfortunate that they’ve opened in heatwave conditions but dude, get a fan in. It was utterly sweltering, I could feel my make up sliding down my face as we ate. Attractive.

One thing that did get me thinking was the amount of wastage they must have on kitchen roll, if they give everyone a fresh roll. I checked with BMB though, and they said that they use the roll ends in the kitchen and in the staff room and then recycle the tubes. Good for them!

On the plus side – deliciousness. The burgers really were realllllly good (I still prefer Five Guys though, sorry). I preferred them to the burgers at Meat Market in London by a fairly large margin and was happy to pay a bit more for them. And deliciousness is what counts, right?

I’d return to Burger Meats Bun, but probably not in a great hurry. I really, really wanted to love this place but with the service and the heat at the moment, I’ll wait a bit before I go back. Let me know if you try it out!

Posted in Living

Food Glorious Food

We were in America last month, visiting family, shopping, touring around Tennessee and generally having a whale of a time. I always love the food in America, the land where anything can be deep fried and served in a bun (and I say that in admiration, as a Scottish person).

We ate so many amazing things and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably have been licking your screen for the whole time we were away, as I posted loads of food porn photos.

Here’s a selection of our eats from our trip:

breakfastburrito

Mmm, breakfast burrito from the hotel on the day we left – so good.

icecreamsundae

Massive big ice cream sundae from Graeters in Cincinnati – an ice cream institution! It’s a must-have on every trip. This had cookie dough and some other gooey delights in it.

izzys

Corned beef sandwich and potato pancake at Izzy’s, Cincinnati. A Man V Food restaurant! But we didn’t take the challenge.

skyline

Skyline chili with just a little bit of cheese! Cincinnati chili goes back to the 1940s and is a special recipe with cinnamon and other stuff in it that’s unusual. It’s served over spaghetti with a massive handful of cheese on top for a 3-way. Add onions and/or beans for a 4- or 5-way. I like the 4-way with onions, easy on the cheese.

cheesecakefactory

Oh, Cheesecake Factory, I love you but my thighs do not. Cookie dough cheesecake – OH YEAH.

loveless

Breakfast at the Loveless Cafe, Nashville. Oh, MY. The biscuits (scones to you and I) are like little clouds, I think I ate about 87 of them. And that thing in the pot is hash brown casserole. I’m drooling. I think I need to come back and write about Loveless a bit more at some point.

5guys

Basically, if you haven’t had a Five Guys burger, you lose at life. They are, quite simply, the best burgers, ever.

bbq

Aww, MAN. The barbecue we had in Pigeon Forge, TN will go down in Brown family history. LEGENDARY. Also we stayed in a Christmas-themed hotel there and ate ice cream in the hot tub by the Christmas tree, but that’s a story for another day. As is the tale of our best meal in Cincinnati. Now I have to go find breakfast. Pronto.

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