Restaurants Worth the Visit

Big John’s Texas Barbecue, Page, AZ

Posted on November 26, 2015. Filed under: American Southwest, Restaurants Worth the Visit | Tags: , , , , |

Arizona, Page, Bill @ Big John'sWe wandered into Page, Arizona recently for the Antelope Canyon slot canyons and Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge, Horseshoe Bend, whew!  There is a lot going on in this little corner of Arizona.  The food scene, however, left much to be desired.  We drove past this place several times and noticed the smokers out in front of what looked like an old gas station.  Big John’s Texas Barbecue, 153 S Lake Powell Blvd, Page, AZ 86040, proved to be a delicious find!

Both the beef brisket and the pork were smoky and tender and loaded with flavor.  The barbecue sauce was exceptional and complimented the meat perfectly.  A one-pound serving fed two of us and even provided leftovers.  The coleslaw was a surprise too.  It was really good, obviously fresh house-made.  We were so impressed we got another order to go for the next days lunch on Lake Powell.

The remodeled old gas station provided a cool, retro vibe to the place.  We knew it would be great by this alone!  Service was friendly and excellent.  We were wisely counseled out of 2 orders of the meat as it would have been too much (how refreshing, this has only ever happened to us in Italy).  The only mistake we made was going to the Mexican restaurant down the road for our next dinner which was horrible.  I could have eaten at Big John’s every night as it was real food cooked with real care.  If you get to Page, Arizona go there!

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The Toasted Frog

Posted on October 27, 2013. Filed under: Restaurants Worth the Visit, Travel | Tags: , , , , , |

Restaurants - Toasted Frog 1         Restaurants - Toasted Frog 2

If you find yourself in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I highly recommend The Toasted Frog for dinner.  This place is comfortable, with a friendly, happy staff, a great wine list, but most impressively for a small town on the prairie – great food.  When you order your food will not be coming out in 5 minutes.  You can tell nothing is reheated in a microwave!  The open kitchen shows you the chefs working diligently to hand-prepare your dinner just for you.

Restaurants - Toasted Frog 3         Restaurants - Toasted Frog 4

I was so hungry this first night in town I took a bite of my mahi-mahi before remembering to take a picture!  That’s grilled mahi-mahi with fresh green beans and their killer sweet potato fries which was one of many great potato options.  Bill tried the walleye fingers with the sweet potato fries.  When we returned last night I found out I could have the same meal without any coating on the fish and the veg was broccolini which was even better.  Yep, I had the same meal with some tweaks.  Bill had the mahi-mahi tacos with such good grilled fish he didn’t even want the tortillas.  He just enjoyed the fish mixed with the mango salsa and lovely homemade coleslaw.  He also got their excellent garlic mashed potatoes on the side.  The waitress saw me hesitating about whether to order the fish tacos and thoughtfully included some of the mango salsa on my plate which was a great condiment with my fish.  When we got to the car another waiter ran out with my favorite gloves I had left behind!

We come to Grand Forks once a year for work and we eagerly anticipate our meal the whole day we are driving across Wisconsin and Minnesota to get here.  And then we return at least once in the trip because we haven’t found any place close to The Frog in the area that is nearly as good.

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Timmer’s on Big Cedar Lake, Wisconsin

Posted on June 3, 2013. Filed under: Restaurants Worth the Visit | Tags: , , , , |

Restaurants - Timmer's 1     Restaurants - Timmer's 4     Restaurants - Timmer's 5

Sunday brunch at Timmer’s Resort on Big Cedar Lake, Wisconsin about 30 miles north of Milwaukee is well worth the visit.  The entire 1800s resort is being rebuilt in the manner of the old lake cottages and gathering hall of old.  The restaurant, although all new, almost exactly replicated the old building which was crumbling, but the original massive fireplace was preserved.  It’s a treat just to be in this gorgeous, historical place right on the big old beautiful lake.  The sailboats were going when we were there.

Restaurants - Timmer's 2          Restaurants - Timmer's 3

It’s nice, though, that in addition to a beautiful setting and attentive service the food was excellent.  My sampler plate include smoked salmon, fresh blueberry pancakes, tilapia, sausage popovers, scalloped potatoes, an unusual, delicious waldorf-type salad and sautéed vegetables with roast beef.  The desserts were also excellent with dark, fudgy chocolate cake, a pecan pie bar cookie, coconut cake and raspberry-topped cream cheese cake.  The best was the coconut cake believe it or not.  In addition to my selections there was a made-to-order omelet station and a vast array of additional pastries from which to choose.

We look forward to returning when summer is in full swing to sit out on the patio with views of the lake!

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Peruvian Restaurant Chef Paz

Posted on June 2, 2013. Filed under: Restaurants Worth the Visit | Tags: , , , |

Food - Chef Paz 1          Food - Chef Paz 2

We found the most fabulous restaurant last night in West Allis, Wisconsin, right outside of Milwaukee.  If you get anywhere near Milwaukee I would recommend getting here for a meal.  Chef Paz is the brainchild of chef Maritza Paz and you can tell it’s her baby.  The food is luscious, everything tantalizingly spiced and sauced and gorgeously plated.  For a little corner place, only in business 10 months, it’s quite a find.

 Food - Chef Paz 3          Food - Chef Paz 5

Here is the mussels appetizer loaded with corn kernels, chopped fresh tomato, red onion, lime juice and chopped cilantro on a bed of lettuce.  The lettuce was the surprise of the whole plate as it had soaked up all the juices of everything above and I didn’t let one leaf go back to the kitchen once I tried it!  My meal was tilapia lightly breaded and fried with a mass of sautéed tomatoes and red onion on top with a side of deep fried sweet potato.  It was so good I felt like I melted into the plate!

Food - Chef Paz 4           Food - Chef Paz 6

Bill’s came with a pyramid of spiced rice, super-tender beef in a great sauce and a fried egg on top with sautéed veggies on the left.  He loved it all.  Steph got the steak in their signature Peruvian huancaina sauce, a surprising very light cheese sauce.  I don’t usually go for cheese sauces because they always seem to smother and take over whatever they are on, but this one was so light I could see where it truly complimented the tender steak.  We all shared her steamed broccoli which became magical when dipped in the very special cilantro sauce served to compliment anything you wanted to use it with.

Food - Chef Paz 7We also had fried yucca as a side.  I had never had yucca before and it was really good, again, especially when dipped into the cilantro sauce.  The texture was very different from anything I’d had before, drier in a good way.

We finished off with lucuma and guanábana (soursop) mousses and lemon pie.  The Lucuma was off-the-charts good with its carmely, creamy taste/texture.  The guanábana was also excellent and very intensely fruity flavored.  The lemon pie was the only slight disappointment as the meringue was tough and there was so little lemon pie filling in the bottom it was hard to find the taste of lemon.  Lesson learned, stick with the things this chef really understands which is virtually everything else on the menu!  The service was excellent, attentive and very helpful with ipads in the hands of each server to show you pictures of each dish with thoughtful explanations as needed.  We were so pleased and we will definitely return.  I hope you get the opportunity to experience this wonderful restaurant!

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French Food Mindset

Posted on May 30, 2013. Filed under: Food Made Simple, France, Health, Philosophy, Restaurants Worth the Visit |

Food - Lake Park Bistro 2We went to Lake Park Bistro in Milwaukee for lunch yesterday.  This is truly fine dining at its best.  Here is Bill’s:

Rillette de Saumon – Poached and smoked salmon salad with lemon-mayonaise, cucumber, bibb lettuce and preserved tomatoes.

Look at how that paper-thin slice of cucumber wraps the salmon stack.  It was beautiful and delicious.

Food - Lake Park Bistro 1Mine was the:

Thon a la Nicoise – Traditional salad from Southern France of tuna in olive oil with egg, peppers, olives and capers.

It was just gorgeous and also very luscious with just a little potato and green beans included.

Food - Lake Park Bistro 3Stephanie, Bill’s cousin had:

Steak Tartare – Chopped raw filet mignon with caper, Dijon mustard, egg yolk, red onion. Served with a petite salad and pomme frite.

She couldn’t stop saying, “Mmmmm.”

Nothing we had was a very large portion.  In fact, compared to American standards these were tiny.  The desserts were miniscule, but so rich only a few bites was really enough.  The French food mindset is so great because you are eating such enjoyable food.  Every morsel is exquisite and you are satisfied with much less.  They don’t avoid fat, in fact, they include only the fullest versions with all the delectable flavor intact, and therefore, when you eat this way you truly don’t need much.  We all left feeling well fed, but not even close to stuffed, just comfortable and satisfied.  The French have this perfectly right.

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