Monday, July 11, 2011

Past Dining Adventures Pt.1

“Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels. There is no point in going to them if one intends to keep one’s belt buckled.” - Frederic Raphael

I just found that quote and I love it! Now I don't condone brothels of any sort...but the mouth brothel reference works for me. I love to eat and be healthy, but if you're going to make a trip out for a dining experience...well you gotta dive in! Bare with me as this is my first real foodie post, but lets hope for some great stories of food, love, and travels!

Binkley's Restaurant - Cave Creek, AZ

Binkley's in Cave Creek was one of the most entertaining dining experiences I've ever had. There are many compliments to the chef in the press, including Zagat referring to Chef Kevin Binkley as the "Gary Danko of the Desert." Cave Creek is definitely a small Cowboy town...but hidden within is this little gem that should honestly be Michelin Star rated.

I wanted to celebrate my mom's birthday last October with of course...a great and unique meal. After looking at endless lists of restaurants in Arizona, it came down to Noca and Binkley's.

Since my parents nor myself and my lover had such a dining experience Binkley's it was. They were very excited to help make the event special. We were able to get flowers delivered to our table and also have a personalized menu for the occasion.

We opted to do the 5 course tasting for our dinner. It came with a hot appetizer, cold appetizer, meat, fish, and dessert or cheese. Granted tasting menu's can often leave one hungry, they brought out several amuse-bouche plates (French translation - mouth amuser).

They were playful and delicious hors d'oeuvres. Some of the amuse-bouche that stick out in my mind are the mini sloppy joes and frozen berry pearls served in large white spoons. If you notice the mini french oven in the photo, it was filled with rich duck pate. The waiter also had a sense of humor...or actually he thought I had a sense of humor:
Jamie -"Do you use mini utensils to make these?"
Waiter -"We also have keebler elves in the back preparing the dishes."

Granted I was being serious...I'm glad it came out playful. We know the real answer is no. To wrap up this post, this meal was artistically stunning and divine. It comes at a price...but the experience was definitely worth it. Next Arizona adventure? Noca!
Source: Binkley's Ad Photo taken from Binkley's Restaurant Facebook Page

Fat Cats - Termont, OH

Fat Cats has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants! Granted I've only had the pleasure of dining there once on a recent visit to Ohio, it was A-MA-ZING! What makes it so amazing?
  1. The FOOD. The menu was unique, well priced, and unexpectedly delicious.
  2. The interior was cozy and eclectic.
  3. It was voted by Bon Apetit Magazine as one of their favorite neighborhood restaurants.
  4. Last but not least our company, great company makes anything better, but great company paired with great food is just perfect.
Appetizers: This happened to be my favorite part of our meal!
Chilled Asparagus - Parmesan and Lemon 
Pizza- grape jam, gorgonzola, duck confit, woolf farm apple, spiced walnutsVeal Sweetbreads - Proscuitto, Shiitake, Garlic, Sherry, Tomato
(For those of you who have never tried sweetbreads...try it. I've always seen them served on television on my favorite culinary shows, but do not often see them offered on a menu. When I noticed the quality of the restaurant and the menu option, I didn't hesitate to order! They were perfectly prepared. If you do not know what sweetbreads are...but consider yourself and adventurous diner, give this delicacy a shot!)

Sea Scallops - Due to a recent sea scallop obsession phase...this is what I ordered. It was tasty, but I wish I would've tried something different. The bouillabaisse Laura ordered was awesome!
Bouillabaisse- Shrimps, Clams, Fish of Kitchen, Spicy Seafood Tomato Broth, Frittes, House Aioli
BBQ Ribs- Korean Style, Napa Cabbage, Frittes, Spicy Soy Barbecue Sauce
Fish Tacos- My lover got the tacos...because he loves anything with a Mexican flair but I'll admit they were delicious.
Daily Specials- My sister and her husband both ordered specials and had no complaints about their choices.

Since I forgot to photo document this experience from April, all I can say was that it was the perfect finish. Several times we've been to great restaurants just to be left with a "blah" taste upon dessert. I'm happy to report that everyone enjoyed every last bite!

I wish I had more pictures to share...but while enjoying our meal the camera forgot to make its appearance. If you happen to be in the Cleveland area, don't forget to pay a visit to Fat Cats!

Melt Bar - Cleveland,OH

Another dining adventure on our Cleveland trip included a visit to Melt Bar and Grilled.  They serve gourmet grilled cheese that typically cost under $10. They make funky creations and offer some great adult beverages including the mean bloody mary's my sister and I ordered. Luckily for me, when it came time to order everyone at the table picked a different sandwich.
  1. The Corny Beast - Yes I totally went there!
  2. Big Popper - A giant jalapeno popper grilled cheese filled with berry preserves and cream cheese
  3. Chorizo and Potato - Always a favorite in our house
  4. Smokey Russian - Made with smoked turkey and vodka sauerkraut...YUMM-O!

Pictured to the right is the glorious corny beast. As the name states it was basically a giant corn dog grilled cheese. Funny story...when the waiter brought this to the table he attempted to hand the sandwich to one of the boys. I had to correct him and wave him my way, I wasn't scared! If you were curious about my success with this meal, I ate and ate this sandwich, shared with anyone I could find and yet I was defeated. Not to be left out, the bloody mary in the photo was made with bacon infused vodka, horseradish, and plenty of pepper, mixed in with a dash of love from the bartender. Overall it was a delicious and reasonably priced meal that left us rolling out of the restaurant and laying around with food coma for the balance of the day. If you're in Cleveland and want a fun place to go with friends and family be sure to check out Melt! One last tip, if you want to receive 25% off for the rest of your life all you have to do is get a grilled cheese tattoo! How easy is that? I personally will probably just pay the tab and visit on my occasional trips to Ohio. 

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