Sunday, March 25, 2007

Northside Grill

I took Terrific Son for breakfast at the Northside Grill in Ann Arbor. Not bad at all, I say.

A friendly staff welcomed us and we chose to sit at the small counter rather than wait for a table or booth, though at noon on Sunday the wait would not have been more than ten minutes. I like that they give the waiting customers one of those little vibrating messangers to carry while they wait outside in the spring sun drinking coffee supplied outdoors by Northside.

I had a pancake with eggs OE, hash browns, a biscuit and bacon. High marks for the bacon - thin and crispy and clearly good quality. The hash browns were pretty good. Just potatoes, but very well cooked - crispy on the outside and soft inside. Eggs were fine, properly done with firmish whites and runny yolks and the yolk was filmed over nicely. The biscuit was just ok - a little on the heavy side. I have the opinion that biscuits are wonderful in the first five minutes after they come from the oven. After that, I would stick 'em in a barrel and sell the barrelful to the British Navy.

I ordered a single pancake because I like to make a pancake sandwich with my eggs. This single pancake could have made a meal by itself. I usually make buttermilk pancakes that are very light and fluffy. This buttermilk cake was thick and cakey and covered an entire dinner plate. It tasted fine, though I did not notice a buttermilk bite. It was not the ideal shape and texture for a egg sandwich, but I don't suppose I can fault Northside for that. For those looking for this style 'cake, Northside does a very decent job with these. If you're a light and fluffy sort, order eggs or something else here. Northside offers pure maple syrup for $1.45 extra, which seems reasonable to me.

Terrific Son had the corned beef hash. It was very nice, almost all meat, not greasy at all, and it had some spice to it. He enjoyed it.

I put Northside Grill on a par with Angelo's and The Broken Egg in Ann Arbor. All serve a tasty breakfast in different styles - tho it's easier to make a pancake sandwich at The Broken Egg.

Incidentally, Terrific Son graduates soon with a double major in film and communications. He has not yet selected a job and is still willing to listen to offers. You can contact hm through this blog if you're in need of a terrific filmer and communicator.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Leftovers night

Stopped at LeSoups in Ferndale for a lunch today. I had the crab/corn chowder with some bread. The chowder was pretty good with real pieces of crab in it. It was peppery, pretty potently peppery - I am kind of a wimp with spicy things, but this was peppery enough for a normal person, but not so peppery that I couldn't handle it. The bread was OK, French they said, and it had a crispy crust though the inside was insubstantial. Sadly, when I looked in the bag back at work I realized they put two containers of margarine in there. The bill was about $4.75 for a 10 oz. cup with bread and margarine and a nice bag to carry it back to work in. LeSoups is on the south side of Nine Mile, a couple blocks west of Woodward in downtown Ferndale.

Much of Metro Detroit believes that the Red Coat Tavern in Royal Oak serves the finest burger in the area, in the state! in the world! Knowing this, I stop in there every few years hoping that I will notice what seems so obvious to every one else. I did so again recently. I now believe that Red Coat makes a decent burger. The one I got was rare, though I ordered it medium rare, and the bottom of the bun was soggy. The fries were crisp and hot. Service was competent if not the friendliest. My bill for a cheeseburger, fries and iced tea, with tip, was $16.72. Red Coat Tavern is on the east side of Woodward Ave between 13 and 14 Mile Rds.

Here is one terrific meatloaf recipe I copied off

1/4 lb pancetta, diced
1 cup minced onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup 1/2 and 1/2
1-1/2 TBS worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp hot sauce
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3/4 pound ground veal, pork or turkey
3/4 lb 85% ground beef
shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook the pancetta in a skillet until the fat renders. Pour off most of the fat and saute the onions and garlic in the fat until they soften and the pancetta starts to crisp. Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl, add the onion mixture, and mix well with your hands. Form a loaf and place on a rack so it doesn't sit in grease while it cooks.
Cook 40 minutes of so until the internal temp is 155 degrees F.

Note: I used 1 lb of 80% chuck, 1/3 lb ground veal, 1/3 lb ground pork sausage.
Note also: I have one of those electronic thermometers with the long cable so I can watch the temperature rise outside of the oven. Take the meat out of the oven at 155F; if there's a little residual heat temperature rise, it's OK.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fish and Chips at Dick O'Dow's

Another adventure in fish and chip hunting in Metro Detroit, this time at Dick O'Dow's in downtown Birmingham.

(A confession of bias first: I am not a big fan of "Irish" bars. I am plenty Irish - of my 16 great-great-grandparents, 14 left Ireland during the 1840's famine and most of them were, in my mother's words, "peasant farmers." I don't really know what counts as authentic Irish, but I doubt any of my ancestors ate and drank in an establishment like Dick O'Dow's. I'm not really angry about places like this - I just don't see any of my ancestors' lives here.)

Anyway, onto the food. I liked the fish here. The fish quality seemed right up there to me and it was cooked perfectly. The coating is different from most F&C - very thin and not very crispy. The coating came, I'm guessing, from a very thin batter. They advertise Guinness in the batter but it was more subtle than my ravaged taste buds could identify. The serving is more than sufficient - I took the third piece home with me.

The fries exceeded any I have had for a while. Ordinarily, steak cut fries are not my first choice, but these were big, crunchy on the outside, pillowy inside and HOT - and by hot, I mean hot from the fryer, not from the heat lamp. Dandy fries, however they're cut.

The slaw was good, fresh, creamy with a bite of vinegar and a generous serving it was, as well.

The service was OK. The waiter was friendly and helpful; she was just overworked. To be fair, we were there at 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon, the first warm springlike Sunday of the year. I assume they wouldn't have a huge staff scheduled for that time of day. She had 5 or 6 tables going in the back room, which is a long way from the kitchen and the bar. So the service was slow, but she served our food hot from the fryer and grill (daughter's hamburger) - she got the essential work done right and of course I tipped accordingly.

Would I go back? Probably for a beer and some fries, probably not especially for the F&C.

Our meal was about $25, with tip and soft drinks. Dick O'Dow's serves alcohol; we just didn't have any.

Dick O'Dow's is on the north side of Maple, a half block west of Old Woodward in downtown Birmingham.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Thuy Trang

So, daughter is home for spring break and I'm in need of pho. She's never had Vietnamese food so this is a great day to try. Based on some area Chowhounders, we tried Thuy Trang for the first time. Located in a Madison Heights strip mall, between 12 and 13 mile road that includes Saigon Market, it's a busy and popular place. We were some of the few non-Vietnamese, a good sign.

Lots of specials on the wall, but lacked explanation in English for folks like us, occasional visitors. Interior is strictly utilitarian and isn't made for lingering.

I opted for the pho with beef and meatballs, daughter had the # 37 egg noodles --stir fried chicken and vegetables over crispy noodles. It's got an extensive menu, a lot beyond our experience, but had helpful descriptions.

Service is prompt, but a bit brisk. We started with spring rolls--very plump and generous in its pork, vermicelli, herbs, with a lovely dipping sauce with crisp carrot juilienne pieces and a bit of heat.

The huge steaming pho came in a lovely bowl. The broth was a bit oiler than those I've had other places--more like a chicken soup with "eye" of fat...not unappealing, not what I've previously had. Also the pho had an abundance of finelyy sliced veggies, onions, scallions cooked in the soup. The a generous plate of \ fresh herbs, bean sprouts and lime came promptly to add in. The broth was light, flavorful and totally satisfying. The noodles were very fine, abundant and fun and delicious to slup, with some extra hot sauce.

Daughter's dish had stir fry on a bed of ethereally light, fried thin noodles. Totally surprising in its crispiness, and lack of oil or additional oily flavor. The stirfry had a deep flavored sauce and nice chunks of very fresh peppers, straw mushrooms, baby corn, onion and carrots. Really excellent flavor and neat textural contrast.

Only quibble is we weren't offered tea, just water. Oh, and I knocked over my water all over the plate and floor.

This is a place you come to chow...not to hang. But if you want pho, and sometimes you just do, Thy Trang is fast, reasonably priced and will make your tastebuds happy.

Thuy Trang is located at 30491 John R in Madison Heights, MI