How many times have you taken a road trip to find yourself in the middle of a town that you know nothing about? Well, it happened to us on a recent road trip and being the foodie I am, I am always looking for a great place to eat. When checking into our hotel, they graciously gave us a list of local restaurants. After checking this list carefully, it looked to me to be a list that the hotel used to advertise various local restaurants, many of them large local chain restaurants. When we are visiting a new town, the last place I want to go is to a large chain restaurant. As a matter of fact, I don’t frequent large chain restaurants in our own home town. There are so many more interesting restaurants to find, I avoid those large chains at all costs.
So, back to my restaurant searching. First stop on the internet, Trip Advisor. This at least gives me a starting point in my search. Next search, best local restaurants. After a few searches, I happened to find Midwest Magazines list of best restaurants. There I found Corndance Tavern in the South Bend area. Hands down one the best restaurants I have visited in a very long time. Farm to table and a very creative menu. Our server, Herman Fritz, was extremely knowledgeable and shared detailed descriptions of the menu which I really appreciated. Did I also mention they have a wonderful wine cellar. Definitely worth a try if you are in the South Bend area.
Below are a few of the excellent dishes we tried.
Merguez Sausage Flatbread with baba ghanoush spread, crumbled merguez sausage, roasted patty pan squash, charred cherry tomatoes, feta, topped with cucumber salad.
Bison meatloaf, spinach, fontinella cheese, toast points, bourbon shallot demi-glace, grilled caeser salad, crispy shoestring tobacco onions
After a busy weekend in Atlanta, I would be remiss not to highlight some of my favorite food stops. After successfully securing a reservation at St. Cecilia, 3455 Peachtree Road in Buckhead we headed there for dinner on Friday night. It was a fantastic and memorable meal. The highlights of the night were the focaccia bread with the ricotta spread, crispy on the outside and pillow soft on the inside, one recipe that I am going to have to try to recreate. Follow that with raw oysters served with a diced apple, mignonette and harissa sauce. Sweet, hot with a slight vinegar zing, a must try for oyster lovers. A large Salami e Formaggi board with dried fruit, fruit mostarda,, and warm piadine (thin Italian flatbread) surrounded by gouda, mahon, casalingo, and lonza cheeses and a mound of paper thin sliced prosciutto. Nothing could be better with a bottle of pinot noir. We finished off with red wine braised beef short rib, parmigiana cream, and sage agnolotti. A delightful meal in a beautiful venue, what could be better?
The following day we stopped at Smokebelly BBQ, 128 E. Andrews Dr. NW in Buckhead for lunch. This is the best of southern BBQ and they serve a large assortment of sauces to try with your meal. After tasting many items on their menu, a few were definite standouts. The Mini Sausage Corn Dogs are served on skewers for dipping, One bite and the comment we all had was how incredible the dough was, like biting into a cloud only to find the perfect sausage bite in the middle. Served along side the corn dogs was a Carolina gold mustard sauce. Then came a plate of Blistered Peppadew Peppers served over goat cheese, roasted almonds, black pepper honey and house-made crackers. I could have stopped there. I would be remiss not to mention the Cherry Cola Ribs, Sweet Potato Souffle, Mac and Cheese and smoked meats. At that point we had to ask for take out boxes to pack the rest for take home. Absolutely everything was fantastic, I can’t wait to go back.
My final stop on Sunday was Café Jonah, 3188 Paces Ferry Northwest, Atlanta. A fixed price brunch on Sunday was incredible. It appeared that everything was made onsite with warm pots of oatmeal, grits, cheese strata ( the one I had was outstanding with sun-dried tomatoes), prosciutto wrapped melons, sweet bites, cinnamon twists and too many things to even try. Glorious to sit on their patio on a warm Georgia morning. I had to say farewell to Atlanta, can’t wait until my next visit.
After exploring the food scene of Philadelphia, I can definitely say it is a great town for foodies.
First stop, Steve’s for a cheesesteak. Leaving the Ritz Carlton we asked the bellman where he would recommend we go for a cheesesteak. He directed us to Steve’s. What a great tip. The sandwich was loaded with thinned sliced steak, perfectly grilled onions, and Cheese Wiz, all piled on a delicious bun. I would highly recommend their sandwich to anyone.
I immediately thought of how I could transform this experience into a fun entertaining experience. Serving cheesesteaks Philadelphia style would be a great entree and very fun to serve family and friends. Adjust amounts to the number of servings you are planning. For one sandwich I would sauté 1/2 cup chopped onions until they are carmelized, in a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat sauté 4 – 6 ounces thinly sliced lean beef seasoned with Montreal steak seasoning in 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Heat 1/2 cup of Cheez Wiz. Pile all of the above on a crusty roll, wrap in parchment and serve your guests your version of a Phildelphia cheesesteak. Thinking this would be perfect football viewing food. What fun!