Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Out of State but Still In Love: Rosebud on Rush

Chicago, IL

Let’s be clear. If you are hungry in chicago, your solution is far from easy. I was overwhelmed with the choices just blocks away from me. Take my advice: Just walk. Once you smell it you’ll know where to plant your tuckus and order. I planted myself at Rosebud on Rush. Sitting outside near the sidewalk I felt whimsical in my choice of dish that night: Sea Bass. My first ever experience with this fish. The server recommended it so why the hell not? 

10oz of sea bass on top of a bed of cooked spinach in a cream almond sauce. Everything in this dish made sense. Everything had a purpose and spoke to one another with incandescently clear notes. The fish itself was cooked in such a way that I envied whomever prepared it. Moist but flaky, juicy but with the perfect amount of sear. I have never tasted a fish that actually tasted milky and almost cream like. Tender soft and seemingly melting in my mouth. Once again what comes to my mind is milky, cream-like, luscious fish. With a small amount of acidity afterwards that went well with the spinach below it. The spinach doused in this sauce was natural. Although it was true as spinach could be, very earthy, however it was light at the same time. Again with a small amount of acidity that spinach offers went to and fro with the delectable comfort of the fish. However, without the almonds, nothing would have made sense. Due to its nutty and wood like taste, the almonds were the connecting thread throughout every element of this dish. Bringing that woody earth like tone, the almonds were the perfect note upon this tasteful melody. Being mostly apart of the sauce, which again was creamy but light. Although everything should have weighed me down and filled my stomach with luscious heavy comfort, it did not. This dish was simple well refined and attention to flavors were paid. Just by adding simple ingredients with staple flavors, the wood of the almonds the milkiness of the fish, this dish was comforting and sent waves of pleasure to my taste buds. 
To top off the entire evening, and maybe in a lovers euphoria due to my dish, I ordered the tiramisu. Please be advised, this is a huge ass piece of tiramisu, which I gladly dived into. All in all it is just that: tiramisu, the lady fingers however were particularly moist, oozing with rum and cocoa, which I prefer. Along with a cappuccino the night was gluttonous feast of edible pleasure. 

I could go on and on about the seating. The wonderful tea lit atmosphere the patio has to offer, that would liken to any Lady and The Tramp remake. Or our wonderful server who was as rambunctious and eager as ever to please our stomachs content. With the flowing glasses of wine and jolly atmosphere, I could go on. But it is about the food that will make me come back, and create a sigh in my heart each time I walk past this establishment. As if longing of a past lover that you never quiet got over. Rosebud has enveloped me in their warm cooking arms only to stuff me with pleasure and send me on my way. Craving their sweet embrace again. Oh we will meet again I am sure, if only in a dream. 
Rosebud on Rush on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 26, 2012

I have Joined the Masses

Encouraged by a stranger, I have started up this project again, but with a little more flare. Follow The Can on Twitter! @thecanreviews Where I will be tweeting random thoughts concerns and even current gobblings of food. Hope you're still eating out there, a new post is sure to come, keep an ear out.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hot Bagel Co: They Make it Good.

One early Saturday morning after a visit to the farmers market, my Fiance and I decided to take a visit to Hot Bagel Co.

This is a fairly simple sized bagel shop with alot of personality. With the huge chalk boards with scribbled bagel sandwiches and a giant board with all the bagel to choose from. Frankly I was overwhelmed. But In a good way. I love bagels, all shapes sizes and kinds especially with various cream cheeses. Luckily a woman upfront walked over and helped us out, she gave us a run down of how the bagel sandwhiches worked. She also told us of how the bagels were made, where the deli meats come from and how the owners started up, but lets get to the real reason I am writing here: The Food.

I ordered a turkey melt with swiss (with a few extra veggies) on an everything bagel, while my fiance ordered a salami melt (with some veggies) on an everything bagel.

Damn were these things good. You really have to appreciate a bagel more when it comes served to you soft and warm and wrapped in wax paper! I have never had an everything bagel with so much aroma to it, to the garlic on the bagel to the smoked turkey and swiss, my mouth was watering as soon as I set my bagel on the table.

To be frank: It was a damn good bagel, simple and sweet. It had a nice tug on the outside which I enjoy, but inside it was fluffy and warm. Even within the bagel could I taste the flavors of kosher salt, poppy seeds and garlic. It was enjoyable to eat, to smell and even to look at. The Turkey wasn't dry nor overly moist or salty (like most deli meats are when they're ordered from Sysco) I was informed that the owners specifically order their meats from a shop up in Jersey. Personally I really do respect anyone that gives attention towards the quality of their products and ingredients. The veggies on both of the sandwhiches were veggies, nothing to write home to. But the meats were delicious, my fiance's salami melt tasted like an intalian sub due to the infused garlic flavor throughout. I am not sure how our breath was afterwards but both of us really did not care. It was a satisfying meal and both of us had trouble even finishing all of our bagel-wiches.

Hot Bagel Co. is a true gem to Oak Ridge. It really humbles me to know that I can easily get an amazing and fulfilling bagel down the street. A bagel that was made with care and intention to be the best damn bagel you will ever have. The owners are a married couple from all around, they're truly obsessed with rowing (as you can tell from the copious amounts of row gear, flags and photos on their store walls) But as soon as you step into Hot Bagel Co. Its obvious: This is an everyday mans business. The man in the back making the damn bagels? The owner, the husband. This is their livelihood, and with that comes extreme focus on the quality of their product along with the reflection of care in their food. Their bagels truly show their work ethic: Make it right, make it good.

Hot Bagel on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cafe 4: Doesn't ring a bell.

So while downtown during the street paintings for the Dog Wood Festival, I decided to stop by Cafe 4 for a quick lunch.

For an app, my fiance and I ordered their Truffle Fries. Tasty but nothing to really talk about. Fries were good nothing more. The truffle sauce that came with it was tasty but got old after a few bites. My fiance then ordered the 'Tennessee Melt' and I ordered two mini crab cakes with a side of spring mix. Again nothing really inspiring came out. The food was good, but wasn't great. The crab cakes were OK, although I am not a fan of having corn kernels in my crab cake batter. They were nicely sized but came on a plain bun with lettuce tomato and the same 'truffle' sauce the fries came with. My fiances melt was also OK, the meat was a bit dry and made us yearn for Niro's Gyros instead. The cheese was the same consistency as gas station nacho spread. The vegetables were cooked okay, but the flavors were bland and there was really not taste to the sandwich at all. My spring-mix was alright, the vinaigrette was really nice but there's only so much you can really enjoy out of leaves and dressing.

The whole entire time I was attempting to eat my meal I kept thinking 'Did I order the right thing? Am I missing out? Why are so many people here when the food is plain Jane?' It is a mystery to me. To be honest, I have to resort to talking about the service, that is HOW BORING the food was.
Our waitress was great, she had an awesome attitude and although the food was sub-par we really did appreciate her efforts. We sat outside and the tables were extremely small and it was very cramped.

Frankly this place is not worth it, I feel that it is all covered in hype and the only reason people really come here is to look nice sitting outside sipping at their wine and eating their seemingly 'high-end' dish. If you want to be seen for the sake of being seen, I suggest you eat here, however if you are actually concerned with what you are eating, or actually want a decent meal this isn't the 'Cafe' for you.
Cafe 4? Doesn't ring a bell. Move on.

Cafe 4 on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 29, 2011

Remember to bring quarters.

I live in Oak Ridge, TN. Yup the 'secret' city. Well if any of you know anything about this tiny area, you would know that it offers next to nothing when it comes to food. Sure we have our Mc D's, Royalty Burger man, and some fireman sub joint. There is however one little place that I had the extreme pleasure of finding: Magic Wok.

Let me just be clear, this was not my idea. My fiance had been BUGGING me to go there for weeks. So finally I decided to humor him when both of us hopped in the car to go to 'Magic Wok' for lunch. This place was literally hidden, for those that do not know what you're looking for, most likely you'll drive past it a couple of times, but if you are lucky enough to be guided by a 'local' you'll see it spot on. Magic Wok is located behind some laundry facility in a very tiny shack-like building. As soon as you step into this place you think 'damn this is small' and it is. Probably the size of your first dorm room, or possibly first shared-bathroom from college. Anyway: As soon as we walked in we were greeted with a very cheerful face: Miss Betty. Her first question of the day "What I cook for you? What I cook for you?" Do not be shy, Miss Betty is harmless and actually very curious about her customers. But lets get to the food first....

My fiance suggested the Cashew Chicken to split so I obliged. Miss Betty then threw something in the fryer and scraped something out of a wok (Oh yes they actually used woks here unlike that fickle chain that keeps popping up in this area) once something was done in the fryer, Miss  Betty plopped it all into a to go container with triumph and handed me a fork.

Oh this dish was wonderful, full of flavor and growing heat from the hidden spices in the sauce. The rice was fried but sticky, the cashews carried this amazing smoky-like flavor throughout the whole meal. The chicken was juicy and that sauce, oh god that sauce. The portions were huge, enough for me and my man-sized-fiance to share. All for under FIVE DOLLARS. We also ordered an egg roll which was fried right there for us. (If you wait around you can see Miss Betty prep a whole mess of these bad boys by hand.) But the meal was simple and delicious, no bells and whistles, no menu explaining the Wok's culture or some stupid Chinese proverb about the spirit of cooking. Just a woman making a living cooking up food she knows best.

While we were eating Miss Betty took interest into us, asking questions like 'Oh you two together eh? You two take care of each other?' My fiance replied that we recently got engaged and Miss Betty had a fit. 'Ohhh you two!! So cute, she is very pretty very pretty for you!' Then Miss Betty decided to show us her quarter collection. Why yes I said quarter collection. Turns out Miss Betty has been teaching herself English, geography and history by keeping up with this strange hobby. "Oh look at Colorado very ugly ya? Idaho too, it has stupid bird, it should have potato ya?' So we sat there, me gobbling up my egg roll, sauce running down my eager face, while my Fiance and Miss Betty pick out quarters from her stash.

This place is friendly, small, and sometimes questionable to health codes. But it has a heart, and it is obvious in the food that Miss Betty gives you. Yes I said give. Even though I paid for my meal I still felt humbled that this woman made my food for me, grateful even. To get such care from an eating establishment is well, unheard of. Anyone will tell you, if you go to Magic Wok you will always leave happy and certainly full. And you will always be reminded to bring quarters. Miss Betty said so.

Magic Wok Enterprises on Urbanspoon

Oodles Uncorked: A pleasant but comforting surprise.

So after a very long 21st birthday weekend, I smothered up the courage to go to 'Oodles Uncorked'. I say this because my impressions of the place have always been tethered to the thought of 'oh no I cannot go in there, that's a fru-fru wine and dine.' Turns out I was very very wrong.

Lets skip the ambiance, lets skip the service and get right down to the food.

First Dish: Duck Confit Marsala

 I hate to say this but the dish was amazing!! The duck was just so tender and had the texture of pulled pork but so many earthy and comforting flavors. The mushrooms were cooked perfectly and to be honest could stand well on their own. In the Marsala sauce there was a mix of pine nuts. PINE NUTS! My favorite most delicate thing to eat in the world. To be honest this dish sent me over the edge into pure unbelievable bliss. The noodles were cooked correctly (al dente). And the whole dish was already tossed in the Marsala sauce, leaving no noodle unturned with delicious earthy flavors. If I were eating this at home, I would have happily licked the bowl.

Second Dish: Shrimp and Grits

I ordered this dish upon my second visit to Oodles during their brunch on Sunday. My was this dish tasty!! Caution if you do not like grits (for some odd reason) then please do not order this. In a deep dish bowl there was a good portion of grits in the middle covered in a smoky Cajun sauce with 6-7 large grilled shrimp surrounded by half cut cherry tomatoes. Everything on this plate was edible and enjoyable. The cherry tomatoes were juicy and fell apart in your mouth. The grits was smooth but not creamy nor runny. The sauce, which surrounded everything was just perfect. At first I thought it was some sort of ranch sauce, once I tasted it however, I was completely mistaken. This sauce does offer some heat, but nothing to scare away a lover of spice. The shrimp was cooked perfectly. Personally I am very picky about shrimp, growing up in the south, an over cooked shrimp is almost the same as a nasty insult. There was nothing chewy or dry about these shrimp, no sir-ee. Instead these shrimp were soft with a nice char from the grill. The spices throughout the dish echoed a lot in those 6 pieces of shrimp. Again I ate all of my dish and I was very tempted to lick my bowl. No disappointments here.

So my resolve on Oodles? Go. Do not be put off by the snooty wine drinkers, or the long list of wine Oodles offer. Sit inside, possibly in the kitchen, and pick something tasty off the menu, preferable at dinner time. Their pasta dishes are perfect. It is obvious that a lot of attention has been given in these dishes; To the simple flavors and respect to the ingredients. Verdict? Just go. Yes the menu may be a bit pricey (I did pay $15 for my shrimp and grits) But trust me it is worth EVERY dollar and dime.

To be honest, I am very surprised that my first review is for the better. Oodles Uncorked always read to me as the 'snooty patio everyone sits in and buys bottles and bottles of wine'. But inside there doors there is a sense of comfort and wonder. To the open court yard, to the cozy kitchen, and extremely laid back attitude at the bar. This place has no pretense, no facade of elitism. Inside, it is about the food, the taste, the flavor, everything that a restaurant should stand for. I encourage anyone to go to Oodles and really branch out, ask the servers or even the chef (if you get that pesky kitchen seating) trust those who cook your food, because Oodles Uncorked really does prove that attention has been paid.

Oodles Uncorked on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 8, 2011

Coming soon....?

Just to warn all those who are reading (Hi mom..), this is NOT my first review. No, no, instead I merely intend to reiterating my purpose of this blog.

But first, may I just talk about the city I intend to comb through? Knoxville, Tennessee. K-town. Residing itself in East Tennessee. Yup. The Bible belt. The south. To my friends up north, this place has an awful reputation. To my family at home, it is a simple pit stop on the way to whatever town we move to next. Although Knoxville does sit itself primarily in the 'red' part of the country, do not be fooled. When downtown towards the more 'city like' part of Knoxville, you will find some surprises. Vegetarian restaurants, strange homeless men reading poetry, hipster children scattered across parks playing a variety of instruments. There's a breath of fresh air from the stereotype of Knoxville, it exists I swear.

Now back to where I started, the reason why I set up this whole shiva. Well frankly everybody, I got tired of googling. Seriously, it's a huge pain, and honestly an embarrassment to type into a search engine, "local hole in the wall restaurants" And sure I got some results. Some places popped up, but when I looked further into these supposed 'foodie-favorites' all I found was an ugly face. People reviewing restaurants like they knew what they were talking about. People telling me that I MUST go to some Italian joint that it was TRUELY authentic, when come to find out all I could find was a plate of ketchup and overcooked noodles. (Any affectionate lover of Italian cuisine would know that CHEESE STICKS are not authentic to Italy.) So I got tired of it, I said 'screw it' to all those out there telling me where to eat. Instead I am finding out myself.

Yes I realize this is huge task to suddenly dive into, and yes I realize I may offend those who read this, but like I said, I am tired of it.

So here it is, my take and say on the local joints of Knoxville, TN. I will NOT be reviewing anything that I cannot afford. As stated in my description, you will NOT find reviews of the latest wine and tapas bar here. If my wallet cannot do it, then I will not eat it. Simple as that. Instead I plan to find the places that really leave a hand print on this city. Joints that are covered in old hippies, stoners and haggard business men alike. Places that attract a variety of sorts for one solid reason: The Food. Because quiet frankly, it is about The Food. Plain. Simple. Enjoyable.