Well, sometimes one of my “Death March” hikes goes according to plan. And sometimes, you’ve got to adjust the plan. In the case of Seattle, our initial plan was to hike through the SoDo neighborhood and cross over to Alki Beach, potentially ending at Sunfish. But like a lot of plans (especially those put together by folks not completely familiar with a metropolitan area), a few hitches arose: first, we got behind schedule. Looking at our watches, it was obvious that even if we hustled, we’d probably get to Alki beach right as most places were closing up shop. Second, most of the Marchers were getting tired, enough so that “hustle” wasn’t really in the vocabulary anymore. Third, the SoDo neighborhood, aside from having the rather cool ORB (Old Rainier Brewery) isn’t the most exciting neighbor. So, as we started to thread our way over to the bridge to Alki (which also isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly), a short stop at Burger King to use the restroom turned into more-or-less of an insurrection. A quick check of the map and Yelp indicated that SoDo isn’t exactly a food mecca, either. But then we noticed one place on the list that had a lot of good reviews: Schooner Exact Brewing. And the single mention of “beer” made it official, Schooner Exact, at approximately 21 miles into the route, became our new, official destination.
One of the many items we managed to tick off of our to-do list in New York City was finally getting a chance to see the Tenement Museum (we’ll go back, each tour only shows you a fraction of the building). But as the tour was wrapping up, we were hungry for a light lunch, and we realized that the location was quite convenient for us to hit up a favorite spot: Loreley.
A recent trip to Burlington, VT for a visit to the Mini dealer up there gave us an excuse for a long-overdue visit to a place that had been on our hit list for a while: Folino’s Wood-Fired Pizza. Folino’s is nestled in a small building across the street from the Shelburne Museum, and it shares the building with one of our favorite Vermont brewers (of many, the way the Vermont beer scene is these days): Fiddlehead Brewing. It’s a particularly good combination: beer and pizza are already a natural combination, and Folino’s adds to this by being a BYOB joint. So you order up your pizzas, head next door and buy a few growlers of beer, and head back over to Folino’s to settled back with some frosted glasses and enjoy your beer and salad while waiting for your pizzas to be ready. It’s quite the nice setup.
It’s turning out that 2013 is one of those “revisiting old favorites” sort of years, with my traveling back to well-loved institutions in several states. Often, I’ve been surprised that some of my favorite haunts from before I started blogging seemed to have gotten missed out, often since I’ve assumed when visiting these places that I had already written them up. The People’s Pint in Greenfield, MA, is one of those places; I’ve been going there for years (since 2002), and eaten dozens of great meals there, but never got around to writing them up.
Well, it was just a few weeks ago that I did my review of Worthy Kitchen, but already I’ve got a good reason to do a re-review. In short, Worthy Kitchen does brunch on weekends, and I thought a quick re-review was in order. Last weekend, Carol and I were feeling a bit too lazy to make breakfast, and wanted to head over in the vague direction of Norwich, and we decided that a minor detour to check out Worthy Kitchen’s brunch menu was in order. On weekends, they open at 10am, and in addition to their normal bar, they also serve up Bloody Marys, Mimosas, and all sorts of other breakfast cocktails, and have a pretty decent brunch menu ranging from the basics (eggs), to the inventive (house-made hash), to the lunch-end of the spectrum (they still offer up their fried chicken, although with a biscuit and cream gravy).
Over the last month, I’ve spent a week in and around South Bend, Indiana. While I hadn’t found a lot of great culinary destinations, I did find two places my first visit that were both good, Fiddler’s Hearth (fish wrapped in newspaper), and Bare Hands Brewery (a great brewpub). But I was still searching for some other great places to eat, and while I kept finding some places that were good, most of them weren’t really anything to write about. For example, Hacienda didn’t exactly excite me with their Tex-Mex menu, but the beer I had there, a Lucky Dog from Evil Czech Brewing, was quite good, so I decided to look up where else I could find it. Turns out that the folks that own Evil Czech also own a restaurant in Mishawaka, called Corndance Tavern, so I decided to give it a try (their web site looked interesting, and they had some pretty interesting beer specials). With my coworker Cal in tow, we decided to drive over to Mishawaka and check it out.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t usually do bar reviews on Offbeat Eats, but as I mentioned in my review of Soho last year, every once in a while I find a place that’s offbeat enough that it’s worth at least a mention. In this case, it’s Bare Hands Brewery, in Granger, IN (unless you are from the Michiana area, that in itself likely has you going “Where?”). It’s offbeat nature starts with a description of how you get there. From South Bend or Mishawaka, you take Highway 23 until you hit the edge of the suburbs and things start to thin out. Right before the highway turns north and crosses into Michigan, turn left on Princess Way. You’ll go past an odd little Italian restaurant, and then past a KOA campground. Behind the KOA is a small and nondescript industrial park, and at the entrance of the park, a small 8.5″x11″ sign directs you to the “Brewery”. And sure enough, one of the suites in the industrial park is Bare Hands Brewery. Without the internet, you’d probably never stumble onto this place unless you got lost at the KOA.
It seems that most of the restaurant openings around here happen when I’m out of town. In this case, while we were in Belgium, Worthy Kitchen, the sister restaurant to Worthy Burger, opened up in Woodstock. While Worthy Burger had some startup issues like most any restaurant, they hid their stride and have been wildly successful (sometimes to the point of being a victim of that success, with my personally experiencing 20 minute lines just to check out, and having them stop taking orders long before closing because the kitchen was backed up. Oh well, there are worse problems a starting business can have). So I wasn’t surprised to hear a few months ago that the Worthy Burger were looking at opening new locations, and then hearing that they had a specific spot picked out in Woodstock. Located on the east side of town, Worthy Kitchen is in a slightly odd spot sharing a building with a physical therapist (who must be thrilled with the arrangement) in a restaurant location I had previously considered cursed since it’s had several failed restaurants in it in my 13 years of living in the area (remember the EastEnder or the Lemongrass Cafe? Apparently nobody did.). But basically, they’ve done up a similar concept: the interior is focused upon the bar, with an impressive list of taps, and then they’ve got a chalkboard menu (like Worthy Burger, some of the items are constant, and others rotate in and out).
Despite being one of the smaller European countries, Belgium has a rather extensive beer brewing and drinking culture that goes back centuries. As a result Belgium is rather famous as one of the world’s top beer countries, and the Belgian beer styles are getting increasingly popular in other countries as well. With several hundred Belgian brews available, you are never far from a beer bar most anywhere in a Belgian city, and in Brussels, our rental flat was just down the street from one of the more regarded ones, À la Mort Subite. It was our first destination upon arriving in Brussels (after a short walking tour), and, on our last evening in Belgium, it was also one of our last, since we all decided another trip to À la Mort Subite was in order.
After a very pleasant and successful visit to Burlington, it was time to head back down I-89 to New Hampshire, which gave us a good excuse to stop by and check out Prohibition Pig. Like my previous review of Church and Main, Prohibition Pig is a joint that rose of out the ashes of another well-regarded restaurant. In this case, Prohibition Pig replaced the well-loved Alchemist Brewpub, which after the damages of Hurricane Irene, decided to close the brewpub and focus on their nearby brewery/cannery (which produces the well-regarded Heady Topper). The Brewpub was sold, and thus Prohibition Pig was born. Prohibition Pig keeps much of the same focus on beer that The Alchemist did, instead bringing in beers primarily from nearby breweries… and doing a good job at it. Choices during our visit included beers from Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Hill Farmstead, both top-notch VT brewers, and even some Peche Mortel from one of my favorite Quebec brewers, Dieu du Ciel. But the motto of Prohibition Pig is “Smoked Meat and Libations”, and they pair their excellent bar with a menu focusing on local meats, primarily with smoking and curing. The result is that the restaurant’s new incarnation still packs people in, and we even found the place fully busy during what I call the “lupper” period (the doldrums between lunch and supper service).