Reservoir

Health Check: Reservoir (Montreal, QC)

Back in 2013, I did a brief review of one of my favorite Montreal beer bars: Reservoir. Since then, I’ve had half a dozen revisits there, ranging from just stopping in for a pint, having dinner, and, well, everything in-between. On our recent trip to Quebec, we needed a light “fill in” meal to tide us over to a feast the next day at Au Pied de Cochon’s Cabane a Sucre, and this turned out to be the perfect opportunity to stop in and do a follow-up review of reservoir, including some of their mid-day menu.

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Parker Pie

The Parker Pie Company (West Glover, VT)

Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is very pleasant to visit: nice, rolling, forested hills and meadows, with some very nice views of the White Mountains to the east, the Green Mountains to the West, and a few smaller peaks scattered across the landscape. It’s also rather rural at times, so there’s not always a lot of good dining options. But there are some real gems hiding in some of the smaller towns and villages across the Northeast Kingdom’s landscape. One such spot is located in the village of West Glover, VT. Going behind the Lake Parker Country Store, you find yourself at the entrance of a pizza place: Parker Pie.

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Oak and Grain

Oak and Grain (New London, NH)

In a recent celebration of the 20th anniversary of our first date, Carol and I decided it was a nice opportunity to check out a local restaurant that has been perennially near the top of our hit list: Oak and Grain. Oak and Grain is the in-house restaurant at The Inn at Pleasant Lake, a small lakefront hotel overlooking Pleasant Lake that specializes in weekend getaways and appears to have quite the nice barn rental for weddings as well.

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Barrio Cafe (Phoenix Airport)

If there’s one place in Phoenix that friends are consistently telling me I should visit, it’s Barrio Cafe. Opened back in 2002, Barrio showcases the work of chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, who has gotten quite a following for doing upscale Mexican-American cuisine. Well, I still haven’t made it to Barrio, but I have made it to a close cousin: there’s an offshoot of Barrio Cafe in Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. A combination of weather and equipment issues had me with first a very-delayed, and then a canceled, flight, so I had more than a few hours to wander over to Barrio Cafe in Concourse D (the newest one at PHX, which has substantially more space dedicated to food than the other concourses), so I sit back and had a nice dinner at Barrio Cafe, Airport Edition.

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FnB (Scottsdale, AZ)

On my second night in Arizona, I met up with my old friend Allyson. She wanted to try out a place in Scottsdale recommended by her friends, FnB. Opening back in 2009, FnB has gotten quite a bit of press in recent years, up to and including the head chef Charleen Badman winning the 2019 James Beard award for Best Chef of the Southwest. FnB is primarily known for doing farm-to-table cuisine with local ingredients (including the wine list; FnB has quite the list of Arizona winemakers in their cellar), serving up gastropub food in a modest restaurant space located off of Craftsman Court in Old Town Scottsdale.

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Health Check: Haji Baba Middle Eastern Market (Tempe, AZ)

Despite doing most of my growing up in Arizona, once I graduated from high school I pretty much immediately moved across the country for school, and haven’t lived there in almost 30 years. However, I still have a small stable of favorite restaurants from my years living there that I like to revisit on occasion. Many of those places I used to love are now gone (like Apache Junction’s The Mining Camp, which closed after a fire back in 2015), or some of even sadly morphed into poorer versions of themselves, but there’s a good number of places like The Chuck Box that manage to soldier on, even as the neighborhood around them changes (the Box, for example, is now dwarfed by high rise buildings built by ASU). Every once in a while it’s nice for me to do a followup on old favorites, revisiting them and make sure that they are staying in form. With that in mind, when I was passing through town on a recent business trip, meeting up with my friend Karla for another trip to Haji Baba was in order.

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The Famous Steak House (Colorado Springs, CO)

Colorado Springs has a lot of the old, classic “Out West” vibe going strong, and one place that really stands out is in the selection of fine dining restaurants: Colorado Springs has quite a few high-end steakhouses right in town: Saltgrass, Mckenzie’s Chop House, Peppertree, and the Famous, just to list ones easily walkable from my hotel. After several long days of work, we decided that it was worth going out and celebrating, and since I had wandered by The Famous a few times, we decided to drop in and give it a try.

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Denver Biscuit Co. (Colorado Springs, CO)

If there’s one culinary topics I’ve railed on a lot here at Offbeat Eats, it’s the basic concept of biscuits. I love a good biscuit, one that’s delicate, flaky and rich, with a nice buttermilk flavor to it, and a nice caramel browning on top. They are great with sweet or savory filling, and oh so enjoyable. Alas, with a few exceptions (like, for example, Montpelier’s Downhome), most everyplace in New England makes biscuits, that, quite frankly, suck. So when I’m traveling, particularly in the South, I like to search out good biscuits. So when I find a regional chain that’s reliably able to produce some tasty biscuits, I figure it is worth a shoutout. That takes us to the Denver Biscuit Company.

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Phantom Canyon Brewing Company (Colorado Springs, CO)

I find it a bit interesting that in my travels as an engineer that I’ll go years without traveling even close to a region, and then get several trips to that area back-to-back, even for completely different clients. In this particular case, Colorado Springs. I hadn’t been to Colorado for work for 8 years, but this year had me visiting Colorado Springs three times (so far) for business. While a bit sprawling, and being one of those cities with two distinct downtowns (“Downtown” and “Old Colorado City”, the latter originally being a distinct city that was annexed), it has some nice charms: the downtown is rather walkable, has a nice private college (Colorado College) with a nice campus and art museum, and a decent selection of dining establishments. Like much of Colorado, it actually reminds me a lot of a younger, less-sprawling, and more temperate Phoenix area. On my first trip this year, we arrived rather late in the evening, and looking for a light dinner near our hotel led us right to Phantom Canyon Brewing Company.

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Campo Enoteca (Manchester, NH)

Like many trips, upon arriving mid-day back in New Hampshire from our trip to Detroit, we used it as an opportunity to stop in Manchester on the way home for a light dinner. Depending on time of day and mood, there are a lot of good options on Manchester’s Elm Street or nearby, including some great authentic Mexican at El Rincon, funky fusion fare at Mint, or, one of my favorites, light bistro fare at Republic. However, I realized it had been a while since I had been to another bistro on Elm, Campo Enoteca.

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