Thursday, December 31, 2009

$125 in Gift Certificates = Free Dinner for the Family!

A few months back I won two separate contests online and ended up with $125 in gift certificates from McCormick & Schmicks! Being the foodie that I am - I was calculating how many free lunches I could have with these GCs...but then I remembered...the holidays are coming. So I decided to save them up and use them for a nice family dinner with me, Larry, Mom & sis!

M&S is a seafood restaurant. They have fresh catch every day and have special menu items based on that. This means their menu varies from day-to-day and from location-to-location - but you know it's fresh!

M&S is right across from Fountain Square and there is a huge line of carriages ready to take you around the downtown ($35 for 25 minutes). This was Coby - very pretty and a big boy! There was one carriage that looked just like Cinderella's...they also have big down blankets to keep everyone warm.

My sister - well - she'd been with family for a solid week now. She decided she needed a margarita - she is 21 now...

Now for the comedic portion of the meal - we told the waiter that Larry's allergic to eggs. We made sure what he ordered had no eggs...all good. Waiter brings out the salad ($3.95) in this lovely bowl. We all oooh and ahhh over it. Waiter leaves. 5 seconds later - waiter comes dashing back like OJ in a Hertz commercial to stop Larry from eating the salad. Turns out the "bowl" has eggs in it.

He said, "I didn't want to kill you right after Christmas!" What a good waiter.

We also got some bread...warm crispy rolls with soft butter. So delicious. These were very good!

And thank God we had them - since it took about 40 minutes for our entrees to arrive from the time the bread & salad came. I mean it was a busy night but 40 minutes is ridiculous. The server was seen running from table to table - would have been nice if he'd brought us more bread or something. This really put a damper on the experience. But...finally...sustenance arrives!

We were all trying to stay under $30 each for all food since we had $125 in GCs. I chose basically a "you pick 2" kind of option. For $19.99 you could choose from swordfish, crab cakes, tilapia, shrimp and salmon. You could also do 3 for $24.95.

I chose swordfish and crab cake - the dish came with a side of green beans. So how was it?

Swordfish - really great - it's a very "meaty" fish - almost like chicken. It was delicious - I wish I'd just gotten their Swordfish entree after tasting one bite. Loved it!

Crab cake - it was a very nice crab cake. M&S is a seafood restaurant after all. They provided tartar sauce - which seemed a bit odd - I'm used to a special crab cake sauce but the cake didn't need any sauce - it was good on its own.

Green Beans - meh - not quite cooked enough and no seasoning. The grilled tomato was a nice touch though...

Mom got the steak & shrimp combo with a 6 oz. filet for $29.95 (pushing her $30 limit already!). She raved about every bite. The shrimp are stuffed and were very good. The mashed potatoes were flavorful. The steak - well she didn't let me have a bite that night - but there was a bit leftover and I took it for lunch. Even cold - 2 days later - delish! Also - she got it medium rare and it was cooked perfectly!

Larry wanted to get steak. But me being the foodie and knowing this is a seafood restaurant - I made him get fish. Poor guy - can't even order on his own! He ended up with the special for the day - Atlantic Salmon stuffed with blue crab, bay shrimp & brie for $26.95. He didn't know what Brie was but I assured him he wouldn't mind it. It was an excellent dish - the beans were bland as with mine - but the fish was delicious. We really couldn't even taste any brie...so it must be a small amount in there. Either way - really great piece of fish. They do seafood very well!

Just another picture of his fish - I couldn't decide which looked better so you get both.

My sister - well she doesn't like fish. ???? She got Blackened Chicken Linguini for $13.95 and asked for it light on the spice. She loved it - ate most of it and gobbled up the leftovers the next day. It looked really great and I did try a bite of the chicken - juicy, tender - very good. She was far under budget - so we all got dessert!

Before we get to dessert - the you pick two that I got also allows you to add a side (since there's no "starch" with it) for $3.95. I chose the macaroni and cheese. I barely took a bite I was so full from the rest of the meal and tasting everybody else's I guess. I took it home and had it for lunch - even better heated up a couple days later!

Now for dessert. A few years back I went to an M&S in California and had an amazing White Chocolate Bread Pudding. I tweeted with M&S before this visit in hopes of having that again...but the recipe couldn't be found so no luck. But kudos to the M&S twitter for trying!

All the desserts were $4.95 - which is a good price. I got pineapple upside down cake with Graeters vanilla. It was good but not great. Wish the cake had been warm...then it would have been excellent. The plate was warm...thus the melting ice cream...but the cake wasn't.

Mom got carrot cake - I thought it was dry from my taste but the frosting made up for it. She loved it and thought the coconut was a fantastic addition.

Sis is a sucker for a big fat chocolate cupcake. We saw the dessert tray walk by earlier in the meal and she knew that's what she was getting. She liked it a lot and was surprised it wasn't dry - she was very pleased!

Every damn dessert has eggs - of course. Larry got lemon sorbet ($3.95) and man was it lemony! But he ate every last bite...so yeah for having something he could eat!

I'm going to recap here - overall the food was great. Nothing was amazing and OMG I must have that again...but it was all really great (except for those damn beans). The service - while attentive for the most part was slow. The wait time really dampened the overall experience and was what we remembered at the end of the night. Our 6pm reservation didn't get us out the door until 9pm. That's a long darned dinner.

I'm adding something from the Metromix reviews...Why Should You Go? They know how to do seafood - the catch is fresh and they do a great job. It's expensive but far more affordable and better tasting than the now-defunct Oceanaire. I know they have lunch specials under $10 - so I say - if nothing else - hit them up for lunch sometime! Their daily menu is also always online under the Cincinnati location.

So Happy New Year to all from the Food Hussy and her family - hope you all enjoy the New Year and I can't wait to share more culinary adventures with you for 2010!

McCormick & Schmick's Fresh Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Swordfish on Foodista

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sometimes you just wanna eat crap...Hello Sonic!

Sometimes I just get a hankering for junk food. Really really bad junk food. And then you throw a Cherry Limeade on top and I'm in heaven.

Welcome to Sonic Drive-In! It's like the old drive-in style - you pull up, order and then young hussies on roller skates (not roller blades - actual 4 wheeled skates!) bring your food with a smile!

When you pull up there is a massive menu board with all sorts of junk food to choose from. Combos, drinks, etc... It's cheap too...

The onion rings were just okay - there was an after taste that I think made me sick later...so I probably wouldn't get them again.

Corn dog - how I love thee! This was a good one - with a touch of sweetness to the batter. Made me wanna go buy some for home!

This tater tot - chili - cheese mess was delicious - although it could also be the culprit for my upset stomach later on. Larry said "That looks like a hot mess!" And yes it was!

He got a burger and I must say - it was damn good - especially for a fast food burger. I stole a couple of bites and it was HUGE! Like - holy cow this thing has got to weigh 2 pounds - huge!!!! Definitely on par (better if you ask me) than anything from McD or BK.

I love the Cherry Limeade - it's like Cherry juice and Sprite with lime - nothing fancy - but it's so good!

Any Sonic fans out there???

p.s. only giving 2.5 cuz I was sick to my stomach after a couple of hours...chili cheese tots or onion rings - had to be it. couldn't be my beloved corn dog!

Sonic Drive-in on Urbanspoon

Corn Dogs on Foodista

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The eternal debates rage on...

Everybody in Cincinnati has their favorite - what's yours? Gold Star or Skyline? I have to admit - I'm more in the Skyline camp but the boyfriend likes Gold Star...so sometimes you have to compromise...

Prepackaged vs. served in a bowl...ah I do love the bowl. But prepackaged and I don't eat them! Better for the caloric intake (cuz that matters???).

I'm typically more of a coney girl than a 3-way girl (that's what she said) and since I'm not as much a fan of Gold Star I decided to be different and get a chicken burrito - why not?

Grilled Chicken Burrito

Monday, December 28, 2009

Go Vikings! Beat the Bengals! Oh yeah - and we ate some bar food.

My future in-laws live in Florence and we had a date set up to watch the Bengals/Vikings game with them at a local watering hole about a block away from where they live. So off we headed to Stringtown Bar & Grill.

It's in a cute little nook of Florence near Turfway & Burlington Pike. It's on Main Street and there are a handful of businesses that line the streets - it's got a very quaint neighborhood feel out there. It's unique for Florence which mostly just seems like strip malls and chain restaurants...

Inside - they were decked out for the holidays and for football! We got there early to make sure to stake out good spots for the tvs. I'm a Vikings fan, Larry's a Colts fan and his dad is a Chiefs fan - but we're all Bengals fans too. This is the ONLY time I'll root against the Bengals...I've been a Vikings fan since birth - I just can't help it!

Ice cold dollar drafts - can't beat that with a stick!

The menu isn't online (website kinda sucks) but I got something akin to a patty melt. It was very very tasty. Chips are fine...I'm not a big fan but the burger was big and delish.

Then we got nachos. It was a little odd - they gave us a bowl of nacho stuff and then chips. So more of a dipping nacho then a covered nacho. The dip was good - pretty much chili with a bunch of nacho stuff on top. Not my favorite nachos by any means but we polished them off. Football makes a family hungry!

Ah yes - we had bets bets bets! Touchdowns were 10 pushups and field goals were five. He tried to drop quick and get his over with before I could snap a picture but he was too slow!!!!

There's my main man - Brett Favre!!!!!

And yes - the Bengals did score a field goal where I had to do a few push ups...but it's okay...in the end we won the game.

Stringtown is a great locally-owned bar & grill - great for football and families. They also have a breakfast menu - there was quite a crowd in there trying that out pre-game.

And now that the game is over - I look forward to a purple & orange SUPER BOWL!

Stringtown Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Up in Battle Creek...they sent me...PANCAKES!

So we have this client up in Battle Creek, MI... and I got to go visit them last week. Well we only really had time for one meal out and it was breakfast - so off to The Pancake House we went! It's attached to a hotel...and it's a funky old school place - I was definitely excited!

Good old advertising coffee mugs!

A latchhook rug - not something you see everyday!

Here's the good stuff - blueberry pancakes!!!!! They came with the blueberry goo stuff but I asked them to keep that stuff - YUCK! I like good old syrup on my cakes. And these were excellent pancakes!!!! Lots of blueberries and they were big!

Plus - a side of bacon - slightly undercooked is how I asked for it. I could have had it even more undercooked - I'm weird like that - but it was good.

What else did I get in BC? SNOW! First glimpse of snow for 2009 - and I have only one thing to say - THANK GOD I DON'T LIVE THERE!

If you're in Battle Creek and you need breakfast - definitely stop at The Pancake House! And they have those giant coloring books for like $7 - you know - the ones that are bigger than your kid - it's a great take-home from an otherwise uneventful business trip!

Pancake House on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jersey Mike's - heard about it...finally got there

I've heard many people argue about the best place to get a sub - is it Penn Station? Subway? Quiznos? Jimmy Johns? Jersey Mikes? Others? Well - I've been to most (still haven't been to Jimmy Johns - am I missing out?) - but finally checked another one off my list - Jersey Mikes!

We stopped at the Newport location - it's in the same strip mall sort of thing as my favorite Mexican place - Rio Grande (get the fajita taco salad - review to come)!

I don't know if it's the menu or the way you order or what - but something is a bit different than Quiznos or Subway. I always feel pressured when I'm ordering - like there are too many options and I just can't figure out what I want. I was definitely in the mood for a hot sub - so I zeroed in on that portion of the menu.

I chose #43 - Chipotle Cheese Steak. Grilled onions, peppers, chipotle mayo – Wow! You gotta have one! (their words not mine)

As you can see - it's a lot of food and kinda messy. It didn't seem as "put together" as maybe a sub from Quiznos - a bit sloppier. BUT it was tasty - and the excess that was pouring out from the sandwich tasted great on the chips. :-)

I can't say it's my favorite - it was a nice change of pace - and they have Diet Mt Dew which is always a find!

The chipotle mayo wasn't quite as spicy as I'd hoped but I could taste it.

So - Jersey Mikes - well - I'd say better than Subway, not as good as Quiznos and DEFINITELY not as good as Penn Station. Now - I gotta find time to get to Jimmy John's!

Jersey Mike's Submarines on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 21, 2009

Pizza and Coach Outlet - what more could a girl want?

Last week I headed out to the Coach Outlet store in Monroe with my good friend Jen - it was her birthday shopping night! Whee!!!! Before we could handle all that is the Coach Outlet - we needed food - stat!

Cassano's is right on the way on Main St almost to downtown Monroe. We figured it would be quick and easy and it was!

I've seen the sign for Cassano's around town many times but never had a chance to stop. This location is mostly for pick-up but there are ten tables or so. Not much atmosphere but hey - we were just needing a quick bite before the shopping frenzy!

Jen's a vegetarian so we opted for the veggie combo - banana peppers, green peppers, olives, mushrooms and more. It's a thin-crust pizza (duh - you can all see that) and it was good. I'd like more cheese on mine - but I am a bit cheese-obsessed. There's not a lot of sauce either...so if you like a low sauce, low cheese pizza - you should try it. Otherwise you might want to ask for extra as a topping...

All in all a good pizza night - something I'd definitely have again - very crispy! And - the leftovers reheated well later that night. Plus the meat-eater that ate them didn't mind that it was veggie - so it must have been good!

Side note - they cut the pieces into squares - but like - little teeny tiny squares. It was kind of funny - two bites per square...maybe three.

Cassano's Pizza & Subs on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Making my way through every lunch place in Covington!

The bf and I often times head over the river to Covington for lunch - he's picking me up and I hate parking downtown - so to the Suspension Bridge we go!

But we've gone nearly everywhere - so we think - so this time we circled the courthouse area and found a new deli we hadn't yet ventured to: Madison's Cafe & Deli.
Cute place, next to Skyline for those of you that know the area...

Everybody that works there is uber-friendly! It's sort of a "we already know you - so get your butt in here and eat!" kind of feeling if that makes sense. The menu is on the big wall behind them...

They had free sushi to try. It's someone local that's delivering fresh sushi every day. A full tray (same size as ones you see here 12-15 pieces if I could count right) is $6.95 I think. I tried the sushi - don't like it. It's just not fresh - tastes like the stuff at the Chinese buffets...that's not sushi!
Lar got the philly and a side of bacon potato salad. The philly he didn't like much - thought the meat tasted funny and he doesn't like peppers and onions much either. He also thought the bread was too hard and crusty. (He's turning into a food critic before my very eyes!) I tasted the meat and didn't think it was too bad...but it was only a very very small taste.

The potato salad was really really great. I definitely loved that although I couldn't eat the whole scoop - it's pretty rich. But that was definitely the star... (you can get it to go for your holiday get-togethers).

I got the Reuben panini...didn't much care for it. The meat didn't taste that great and I think the panini-ing of the sandwich just took a lot away. I'm more a fan of the Izzy's thick and juicy rather than smushed and crusty.

Overall - it's probably not a spot I'll go back to. The place is cute and the staff is very friendly - but we just didn't love our sandwiches.

The potato salad rocked though...

Madison's Cafe & Deli on Urbanspoon