September 28, 2012

Cafe Berlin

I'm in complete denial that summer is over. At least, Oktoberfest is a nice way to ease in fall. I can drown my sorrows if need be. Our brief visit to Germany this spring has left us with intrigued with it's food. We've long loved its beer and I've grown up with several dishes (Sauerbraten, Jägerschnitzel and spaetzle ) but this year we have developed new found love for currywurst. It's the ultimate street food, pork sausage served with a ketchup curry sauce. There is a fantastic place in Hollywood called Berlin Currywurst. It left us wishful for a comparable place near home.

I heard about Cafe Berlin on the west side near Decatur/215. We recently stopped in for dinner. We were warmly greeted and led to a table for two. My husband had currywurst with potato salad and I could resist the comfort of Jägerschnitzel and spaetzle. Food was served timely. The currywurst wasn't appealing to the eye, but I couldn't wait to dig into the schnitzel.

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The schnitzel was delicious. Better then Cafe Heidelberg and world's better than Hofbräuhaus. Tender pork, crisp breading, creamy mushroom sauce. It could've only been better washed down with a full stein. Hopefully, they'll get their liquor license soon.

Now, the currywurst, on the other hand, wasn't up to par. The sauce itself was quite good, but the sausage? It was terribly fatty. The texture was very unpleasant. After a few bites we could eat no more. Fortunately, the schnitzel was enough for two.

We were bummed we came up empty on the currywurst, but it was nice to find a well prepared schnitzel.

Cafe Berlin on Urbanspoon

September 24, 2012

Photo a Day: Week 38

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September 16, 2012 ~ Follow this car for fun.

September 17, 2012 ~ How Frank likes his hot Italian sausage: smothered in hot giardiniera.

September 18, 2012 ~ Not a fan. Fruity beers aren't for me.

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September 19, 2012 ~ Oops! No photo. Instead, another look at tomorrow's sunrise.

September 20, 2012 ~ Sunrise on my way into work.

September 21, 2012 ~ "Bases Loaded" at Angels stadium gets you all you can eat.

September 22, 2012 ~ A potato mountain or better known as a knish from Langer's Deli.

September 18, 2012

Staycation: Aria

A few weeks back we booked an awesome deal at Aria, strip upgrade, reasonable nightly rate and $100 resort credit. We had seen the rooms at Aria before but this was our first stay.

Check in was horrendous. Sunday afternoon and the lobby looked more like Disney or Great America with an endless queue snaking back and forth. We were pleased when it was finally our turn, we asked for a mountain view on a high floor rather than the strip view. We thought our request was honored but when we got to our room it was on floor twenty-something with a view of the Cosmo pools directly across from us. They were having a pool party so the music was bumping. The windows quaked with every thump. In addition, the room stunk like mildew. I'm extremely sensitive to mold so we called the front desk to have our room moved.

They still could not give us a mountain view, but we did get a room on a high floor. We could see Sunrise mountain in the distance and the airport to the right. The accomodations are very comfortable and I love the technological features. You can open or close the drapes with a touch of a button. You can also adjust the room temperature and lighting from the remote. The neatest feature is that you can set an alarm for sleep or wake and the drapes will open or close accordingly. I never wanted to leave the bed it felt like my own personal cloud. I just loved it.

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Eventually, we pulled ourselves away and had dinner at Jean-Georges. We've dined once before and felt the $100 resort credit was the perfect excuse to return. We had a fantastic meal with tuna and french onion soup as starters. Whole snapper and short rib for entrees. Sides were truffle mashed potatoes and jalapeno creamed corn. All delicious.

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We skipped dessert and instead saved room for beers at Monte Carlo's Pub. Sundays are awesome for locals, we get 50% off all beers. We stayed until last call. Chatting up the manager about different microbrews and such. We got an invite to special dinner with beer pairings, but we never did attend due to a schedule conflict.

We returned to find the room completely in order. It was the most thorough turn down service we've ever received. Clothes were folded, items were straightened, towels replaced, the bed was turned down, lights dimmed and chocolates were left on the nightstands. We slept soundly and morning came much too soon. Unfortunately, duty called and we were off to work, but it was fun while it lasted. We really enjoyed our time at Aria. Love the hotel, still hate the casino. I look forward to another deal that entices us to stay.

September 17, 2012

Photo a Day: Week 37

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September 9, 2012 ~ Huge tires! 32" Never seen anything like it.

September 10, 2012 ~ His and hers.

September 11, 2012 ~ Floods continue. Enough rain already.

September 12, 2012 ~ Cooler weather means new blooms.

September 13, 2012 ~ Disaster area.

September 14, 2012 ~ Dinner.

September 15, 2012 ~ Our baby comes home with a rebuilt tranny.

September 13, 2012

Restaurant Week: D.O.C.G.

Our last Restaurant Week meal was at D.O.C.G. We really enjoyed the meal there last year and look forward to trying it again. It was packed and bustling on Friday at seven o'clock. In fact our table for three was the only one open when we were seated.

Our waitress was very friendly and it seemed every dish I ordered was her personal favorite. Other staff made for certain our water glass was never empty.

We got started with Fried Calamari; Spicy Tomato Sauce, Beef Carpaccio; Caper Aioli, Baked Ricotta Salata and Fried Artichoke; Lemon & Thyme.

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Both the calamari and carpaccio were winning appetizers. The artichoke was overly fried. It was mostly inedible. Once the layers of char were peeled away, there was the tiniest bite of tender artichoke to be had.

Entrees came next, Maccheroni; Polpettine & Home Style Sugo, Tuscan Fried Chicken, Summer Vegetables and Braised Short Rib; Polenta, Summer Vegetables.

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The chicken was the weak link. Decent, but difficult to eat. The pasta was fantastic. I'm in love with Scott Conant's pastas. They are always the perfect al dente. The meatballs weren't particularly notable, but those noodles? Yum! The short rib was fork tender and really wonderful.

We ended with dessert a Caramel Budino; Salted Caramel Sauce and Marscarpone Cheesecake; Amaretti, Candied Kumquats. The Budino is luscious, sweet, but not overly so. The cheesecake was fantastic, light and creamy. A perfect end to a delicous meal.

D.O.C.G. on Urbanspoon

September 12, 2012

Restaurant Week: Comme Ca

Our fourth Restaurant Week meal was at Comme Ca inside the Cosmo. The restaurant was fairly busy Thursday evening about 7 o'clock. Our waiter was very attentive. Too attentive actually. The breads to get you started are fresh and warm.

For starters we had Roasted bone marrow and tarte flambe; smoked bacon, caramelized onion.

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The tarte flambe was tasty; baked crisp and full of tang from the cheese, smoke from the bacon and sweetness from the onion.

I've never had bone marrow, nor oxtail jam. I was excited to try it especially after all the raves I've seen about this particular dish. It's $18 on the regular menu and I didn't see a single complaint about the price so I figured it must be good.

I have nothing to compare it to, but I didn't appreciate it. The oxtail jam taste like pot roast and the bone marrow had no distictive flavor. I couldn't say if I liked it or not, I couldn't taste it. All I could think was that it looked like the big bones we'd get in a doggy bag when I'd dine out with my parents as a kid. Our pups loved to chew on bones. So, yes, I'm saying this dish seemed like dog treat.

Entrees were steamed mussels; spicy tomato, andouille sausage and simple risotto with wild mushrooms.

The risotto was good, but not great. It was a bit grainy and we've been spoiled by truffles. The steamed mussels were very good, tender and in a nice broth. I really liked the meaty spicy andouille that accompanied the mussels.

Dessert was decadent and wonderful the salted caramel mousse; dark chocolate ice cream, cocoa nib crumble did not disappoint.

I was terribly disappointed with desserts at Comme Ca on a previous visit. Judging by this restaurant week dessert, they have really stepped up their game and that first visit has been long forgotten.

Comme Ça  on Urbanspoon

Photo a Day: Week 36

September 2, 2012 ~ My favorite boy torturing petting a kitten.

September 3, 2012 ~ The smile of a Sox fan.

September 4, 2012 ~ My beautiful sister.

September 5, 2012 ~ Fun at the Plush Horse.

September 6, 2012 ~ Breakfast.

September 7, 2012 ~ No points for presentation.

September 8, 2012 ~ Me, after a summer of fun, adventure and gluttony. Now, it's time to get back to eating right and exercising.

September 10, 2012

Photo a Day: Week 35

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August 26, 2012 ~ Sunday funday in La Jolla.

August 27, 2012 ~ Somehow Mondays are less fun.

August 28, 2012 ~ Christmas stuff, already? Really?

August 29, 2012 ~ Moonlit skies over NYNY.

August 30, 2012 ~ Good night, Las Vegas!

August 31, 2012 ~ Good morning, Las Vegas!

September 1, 2012 ~ Another Vegas sunrise... Windy City, I'm on my way.