Restaurant Review: Lucky’s Cafe, Tremont (Cleveland, Ohio)

Something’s missing…a picture, I know.  Sidebar: I have a really retarded “smart” phone these days that decided to delete all my contacts one day.  I found a back door way to get them back by downloading them and importing them into my Google account and then syncing Google to my phone (all because my loving carrier told me when I complained that my phone was a piece of junk that I really should just buy a new one because mine it “old”).  Pshhhhhh.  So that little import and sync trick worked for a couple days until my phone told me my data was full…it wasn’t.  It got to the point that I couldn’t open text messages so I decided to factory reset my phone.  I took out my memory card with all of my pictures, reset my phone and tada – phone was “fixed!”  Problem solved…until a couple days later when my phone started throwing errors when I wanted to answer phone calls and then decided to reformat my memory card FOR ME.  How nice.  NOT.  It deleted every single picture…even the cheesy ones that are supposed to be preloaded on the dumb thing.  And with it went my pictures from Lucky’s Cafe.  Sorry about all of our luck – you can’t see my crumby cell phone picture of my lunch.  I’m going to buy a new phone now…

All that said, I’ve been having a daily debate in my head…iPhone or Droid?  I won’t tell you what I have now (although, I’m sure you can guess), but I can’t decide what’s best for me.  Yes, I’m a software analyst during the day, but I’m really the worst IT person EVER.  I break technology like its my business and really couldn’t care less about computers outside of work.  Bottom line, you won’t see me developing apps in my spare time unless hell freezes over despite Branden’s pleading (there’s good money in app development, in case you didn’t know, especially as a side gig).

Okay, so the real reason I’m here today is to tell you about this AWESOME cafe that Branden took me too last week during a break from doctor’s appointments most likely because I was starting to get kind of whiney.  It happens to me when a certain amount of blood is extracted – whining and moping…I get crabby, too.  Its not pretty.  But this cafe is!!!

Branden travels a LOT for work (being a pilot and all) and has come to love FlavorTown USA as a resource for finding excellent local restaurants.  In case you’re wondering, YES, this is a complete listing of all the restaurants Guy Fieri has visited on his show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”  And that’s precisely how Branden found Lucky’s.  I’m a “lucky” girl!

This place is awesome!  They pride themselves on local food – so local that they have their own, rather large, garden behind the patio of the cafe that they harvest from.  While we were there, I watched an employee go out and pick Swiss Chard for their daily special.  YUM!  Their whole concept is that if they can’t get it local, they try their best to get the food from at most, 100 miles away.  It works, trust me it works.  They grow their own produce, bake their own bread, make their own dressings, sauces, CORNED BEEF!  Branden had the Reuben with their homemade bread, thousand island, and corned beef – honestly, they make it.  Check out this video clip!!

Is you mouth watering yet?!?  If not, take a trip with me to my lunch – baked mac and cheese with brie, cheddar, mozzarella, and parm – all topped with brioche bread crumbs.  Our waiter asked me if I wanted to add bacon.  BACON?  I looked him straight in the eye and asked “is that really an option?!?!”  It was, and I grabbed it by the horns!  Oh my goodness, this mac and cheese was probably the best I ever had – the combination of cheeses was incredible and they melded with the cream in this thick, creamy, gooey bowl of awesome…not to mention the salty, crunchy, thick bacon pieces!  The cheese sauce was thick, but not like glue – it was perfect.  The penne was perfectly cooked to al dente, too – which I find lots of restaurants struggle to do – I do NOT like mushy pasta!  Only downside, they made it to order and it literally came out boiling…and I burnt my tongue multiple times because I was so excited to eat it and didn’t let it cool enough.  If that’s the worst thing about Lucky’s, then I will be a repeat customer for sure!  Oh, oh, and one more thing, the side that came with my mac and cheese was homemade apple sauce (incredible, by the way!).  The waiter suggested I eat the mac and cheese mixed with the apple sauce…I’m really, really weird about my foods touching.  This was tough, but he suggested it, so I tried it.  I dipped my fork in the applesauce and then in the pasta…OH.  MY.  GOODNESS.  So weird, BUT soooooo good!  Think about it, we eat apples with cheese all the time, why is this any different from and apple with cheese and crackers?  Its not.  Embrace it, please!

So, a teeny, tiny part of me is glad that I had to spend a day at the doctor’s office because that meant quality time with the hubby trying out a really great restaurant.  Its worth it if you find yourself in Cleveland to check out Lucky’s and really the rest of Tremont (its an up and coming hipster-ish area with cute cafes and shops nestled into a neighborhood).


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Cast-Iron Corn Bread

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas- I know we did. We were able to spend time with both families which was is always a blessing!

So how about some classic cornbread made in a cast iron skillet greased with bacon fat?  Um, okay!  And put down that butter, you’re not going to need it since the pan is greased with awesome.

We always  have a jar of bacon fat hanging out in our fridge.  Its awesome for greasing our cast iron and makes the best popcorn ever!  So please don’t ever throw it away…


  • Bacon Fat (for greasing)
  • 1 c. Fine Grind Cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill works perfect)
  • 1/4 c. Butter, softened
  • 1 c. Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 TBS Sugar
  • 4 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 c. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I love King Arthur Flour)

Preheat that oven to 425º F.  Lightly grease a 12″ cast iron skillet with bacon fat or lard (bacon fat is going to give you the better flavor).

Sift dry ingredients together.  Stir in egg, milk, and butter until smooth (careful to not over beat).  Pour into prepared to skillet and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden and the sides begin to pull away from the edge of the pan.

Adapted slightly from Bob’s Red Mill

Categories: American, Breads, Recipes, Sides | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Restaurant Review: Omahoma Bob’s BBQ

When I was a kid, I hated BBQ sauce.  Seriously hated  it.  I don’t know why I had such a dislike for it (maybe it was because I had only had cheap stuff), but some time in my late teens, a switch flipped and I became nutty for quality BBQ.  And of course, when you have quality sauce, you need something to smother with it.  Which leads me to one of Branden and I’s favorite places to eat in downtown Wooster, Ohio: Omahoma Bob’s BBQ.

Branden and I love this place so much that we actually had them cater our backyard rehearsal dinner for our wedding last year and everyone loved it!  Bob smokes his meat with love and is usually hanging around the restaurant visiting with patrons.  Seriously, I go there at least once a month and he’s always there no matter what time of day I go.

Today’s picture is courtesy of Omahoma Bob’s and Groupon.  I had a Groupon worth $20, so Branden and I decided to go big or go home and splurge on the “Meat Sampler” for $17.99 (which by the way, is as huge as it looks).  I apologize for the poor image quality, I had to take this with my phone as I left my good camera at home.  Anywhosers, this picture shows a fine sample of the meaty goodness offered at Bob’s: (clockwise from top right) Pulled Pork, Smoked Sausage, Chicken Wings, Pork Ribs, Beef Brisket, and Smoked Pork Loin.  We also got hush puppies and fried okra as our sides (I’ve fallen in love with the fried okra, by the way).  The meat is consistently smoked to perfection (I usually get the two meat platter of pulled pork and beef brisket)- I’ve never been disappointed.

Is your mouth watering yet?  If not, something is wrong with you!  So support a local business (if you’re visiting NE Ohio) and check out Omahoma Bob’s!

Categories: American, Restaurants | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Restaurant Review: Melt Bar & Grilled

I have  a confession…I have no pictures from this wonderful slice of heaven because I got so excited about my meal when it was set down in front of me (and not to mention I was starving after a day in the sun at the pool and a drink or two at the bar while waiting for our table), that I dug right in and scarfed half the sandwich before I even knew what hit me.  So sorry, but you’re just going to have to the trip to Cleveland and experience Melt Bar & Grilled for yourself!

Anyways, I’ve been hearing about Melt Bar & Grilled for awhile now and as a lover of anything cheese, I knew I had to check this place out.  On a random Tuesday evening last week, a couple girl friends and I decided to make the hour trek up to Cleveland to experience the awesomeness that I’ve seen featured on The Food Network so many times.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  If you’re not a fan of cheese or are lactose intolerant…stay away (although they do have vegan cheese and vegetarian options if that’s your thing).

Let’s start with the bar.  You’re probably going to get the chance to experience the bar because the wait is forever!  Even on a Tuesday evening, we waited over an hour for a table.  So what are a couple of cute girls to do?  Bottoms up!  The beer list is extensive and since I really can’t seem to acquire the taste of beer, I was pleasantly surprised to see Wyder’s Pear Cider and a local hard cider both on tap.  I was also intrigued by their reasonably priced mixed drinks and settled on a Lavender Mojito for $4.75.  YUM!  This traditional mojito had lavendar buds muddled in with the mint and sugar which made for a summery twist.  I will be trying this one at home soon!

And for the grand finale…the reason I neglected to take any pictures!  I ordered the July special: Firecracker Chicken.  This delicious calorie-bomb consisted of blackened chicken with 3-pepper blackening rub, fresh avocado, grilled pineapple, and pepper jack cheese crammed between two thick slices of homemade bread, smothered in butter, and toasted to melty, gooey perfection (yes, my mouth is watering as I write this).  Seriously, the flavor combination here was unbeatable with the spicy chicken and cheese, cool avocados, and sweet grilled pineapple.  A grilled cheese lover’s dream come true.  And as if it can’t get any better, every sandwich comes with a heaping pile of fresh cut fries and homemade slaw.

So if you’re up in Cleveland, Ohio, look at Melt Bar & Grilled- it was worth every second of my two-hour round trip to experience it!

Categories: American, Restaurants | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Restaurant Review: The Weber Grill, Chicago

I’ve been neglecting my restaurant reviews from our recent trip to Chicago for some reason (I have one other one that I’d like to call out…its just waiting in my queue to be completed).  Anyways, here comes an interesting one for you…

Branden had seen The Weber Grill (no, not the physical grill, but the brand’s own restaurant) featured on the Food Network awhile back and was thrilled when we happened upon it while out for a walk.  I have to admit, I was kind of drawn by the smell of charcoal grills myself (as any carnivore would be).  It was decided, this was our dinner spot…Branden couldn’t look away from the giant weber grills so this was the only way to appease him.  Terrible, I know!

I always love a good burger, so I chose “The Farm” Kettleburger which was a half pound of ground beef and lamb, charcoal-seared and topped with applewood bacon, oven-roasted tomatoes and goat cheese.  Delicious!  The french fries were nothing to write home about, just your standard deep fried potatoes, but the burger was perfectly cooked and extra juicy.  Of course, I appreciate a quality bun as well.

My entire family’s experience here was good; everyone enjoyed their food.  Overall, while I really enjoyed my meal, when I find myself in Chicago again, I’ll be trying some different places although I might be singing a different tune if I had gone with a giant steak!  You can’t beat meat hot off a charcoal grill!  Looking for a quality, American restaurant?  This is the place for you!

Categories: American, Restaurants | Tags: | 1 Comment

Restaurant Roundup: Eating in the San Francisco Financial District

During my time in the Financial District each day, I often was in search of a decent, quick meal that wasn’t from a traditional fast food restaurant.  I’ve compiled this brief list of a few places I tried that didn’t necessarily need an entire post, but could be helpful to someone traveling for business in San Francisco.

Rotee Express

I really enjoy some good Indian food, so when my class’ instructor told me that Rotee Express had good Indian takeout, I was intrigued.  For around $10, you get your choice of two entrees (the selections change daily), rice, and naan bread.  Not too bad for San Francisco where the prices for a meal can be a bit steep.  I was more than happy with with the food quality and the flavors were more than you would expect for Indian takeout (a foreign concept where I come from).


These little bakeries are all over the city and tout fresh baked goods sold through the windows on the street.  Everything here is incredibly fresh and delicious.  I had a breakfast egg sandwich here one morning that was excellent and made to order.  I also sampled a few of their cookies including a dark chocolate cookie with white chocolate chunks and a oatmeal, buckwheat, and chocolate chip cookie, both which were warm and delicious.  I’ve heard that you have to eat the cookies while they’re fresh or they turn rock solid due to the lower than usual fat content.  Specialty’s is worth checking out if you’re looking for quick baked goods on the go.

Seller’s Markets Artisan Kitchen

Seller’s Markets are a chain of local restaurants and stands spread throughout the Financial District in San Fran.  The whole premise is that its a restaurant that uses local food and practices sustainability.  Obviously, the food is organic and its made to order.  I had a turkey sandwich on sourdough with arugula, Havarti cheese, and avocados that was paired with a fresh bowl of tomato bisque, perfect for a chilly, rainy day.  If you’re looking for a quick, healthy lunch, you’ll find it at Seller’s Markets.

Out the Door (The Slanted Door takeout)

The famed Vietnamese restaurant called The Slanted Door that is located in the Ferry Building on the bay has a takeout version that’s also located in the Ferry Building.  Out the Door features daily specials like Lemongrass Chicken over Vermicelli.  The regular menu includes fresh and fried spring rolls, steamed buns, fresh salads, and a selected of Boba teas.  Very yummy, healthy, and most of all fresh!

Cafe Madeleine’s

We found this French bakery one morning while walking to our training and decided we had to stop based on the gorgeous display of French pastries in the display case.  Since breakfast time probably wasn’t the most appropriate time to have a chocolate-laden pastry, I settled on a ham and cheese croissant and a latte.  I have to say, my croissant was pretty close to those I enjoyed while actually in France, soCafe Madeleine’s was a nice, unexpected trip down memory lane for me.  Get there early, as the breakfast pastries tend to get picked over rather quickly!

Categories: American, French, Indian, Restaurants, Thai | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Restaurant Review: Boudin Bistro, Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a total carboholic, so it should come as no surprise that I deemed it a necessity to seek out the famous San Francisco sour dough bread.  And boy am I glad I did!  Upon entering the bakery/museum/café/bistro/gift shop at Fisherman’s Wharf, I was immediately hit with the smell of delicious fresh bread.  Heaven.  There was fresh bread everywhere: on shelves, in displays, in baskets moving along a conveyor belt, on people’s plates.  We decided this would be a good place to check out for dinner, you know, since the bread smell pretty much made it impossible to leave.

For dinner, we chose the Bistro over the Café which served a more dinner-like menu while the café mostly offered up soups, salads, and sandwiches.  The Bistro was on the second floor of the building and offered up a beautiful view of the bay and Alcatraz.  The restaurant aesthetics were decent- high ceilings, exposed iron beams, wood fixtures.  The service was okay, kind of slow (it took forever for our basket of sour dough goodness to be delivered to our table after we were seated- it came out only minutes before our appetizer did).

For an appetizer, I selected the baked goat cheese which consisted of garlic-roasted tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil pesto that was layer in a personal baking dish and baked until warm.  It was served with garlic toasted sour dough bread slices.  Honestly, I should have made a meal out of just this appetizer, it was just that yummy.  The spread had awesome flavors that weren’t overdone (or the contrary, too bland) and of course I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that it was served with more sour dough bread!

For my entrée, I chose the Dungeness crab fish tacos served in homemade sour dough tortillas.  Dungeness crab is my favorite type of crab and there appeared to be an abundance of it in San Francisco.  Again, heaven.  The tacos held up to my expectations, but the sour dough tortillas were a little different; not bad different, just different.  They had good flavor, but were a little tougher than their regular flour counter part.

Overall review of Boudin’s: It is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for some awesome, fresh San Francisco sour dough bread.  The restaurant was decent, but I had a sandwich from the café part later in my trip and was just as happy.  My biggest suggestion: try the bread and purchase a loaf or two to take home (I am proud to say, I definitely brought some back with me on the plane and its doing just fine).  Boudin also ships all across the country, so if your mouth is now salivating, hop on over to their website!

Categories: American, Restaurants | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Restaurant Review: Ghirardelli Café, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco

Chocolate.  Ghirardelli has to be some of my favorite chocolate, both for snacking and for baking- its incredibly smooth and rich and melts like a dream.  I was super excited to visit Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco and stop by the café for some hot chocolate, especially since the San Francisco winds can get a tad chilly while out walking around.

I could smell Ghirardelli Square and the café the closer I got to it and began to get even more excited.  Inside, I was overwhelmed by all the varieties of chocolate and their extensive menu of chocolaty treats.  I settled on the “Drinking Chocolate” served with pistachio biscotti (which I later discovered was basically liquid gold).  Words can not even begin to describe the rich, chocolate flavor of this dark chocolate drink.  The best way I can put it is that I felt like I was drinking and liquefied version of their 65% dark chocolate bar. My co-worker actually prefers milk chocolate over dark chocolate and still really enjoyed this drink as well.  It was served in a small cup, but I honestly couldn’t have drunk anymore because it was so rich.  Whoever decided that it needed to be served with biscotti was a genius because it helped to cut the richness of the chocolate.

If you ever find yourself in San Francisco and don’t mind fighting the other chocolate-crazed tourists, the Ghirardelli Café should be a stop on your list of foodie places.  I’m not normally a huge fan of tourist-ravaged food places (I much prefer to dine with the locals), but this place is worth it if you love chocolate.  Besides, the Ghirardelli gift shop is right next door…

Categories: American, Restaurants | Tags: | 2 Comments

Restaurant Review: Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop

While visiting my in-laws this weekend, my mother-in-law and I made our second trip ever to Michael Alberini’s in Boardman, Ohio.  The first time we went a few months ago, the food was amazing but of course I hadn’t started my blog yet.  Because of the awesome experience I had the first time there, I was really excited when my mother-in-law, Jocelyn, suggested we go there again for dinner.

It was a girls night out so we went big.  For an appetizer, we had the New Zealand Lollipops which the menu describes as “The  finest, most tender lamb chops char   grilled.  Served with homemade horseradish sauce.”  Holy cow, these things are amazing and we were glad our husbands weren’t with us because then we didn’t have to share with them.  These are some of the best lamb chops I’ve ever had and both times I’ve ordered them, they were cooked consistently to perfection.  The cool horseradish sauce is an awesome compliment and completes the flavor profile.  I highly suggest this appetizer should you ever find yourself at Michael Alberini’s.

Next was the salad.  I had the caesar salad which was incredible.  It was obvious that the dressing was fresh and the parmesan crisps doubled as cheese and croutons, something unexpected but surprisingly nice as they offered both textural and visual appeal.  Salad was served with hot rolls and butter- yummy, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Just wasted space in my stomach that could be reserved for the rest of the meal.

Now for the entrée.  Unfortunately, my entrée was a daily special so I can’t retrieve the description and I’m not sure that it can be ordered on a regular basis (so I’ll try not to gloat too much about how wonderful it was).  That being said, I chose the Surf and Turf special.  Wow.  Instead of your standard chunk of beef, I was served tender flank steak that had been marinated in some sort of Asian marinade.  The citrusy notes perfectly complimented the side of citrus risotto that was cooked to perfection.  I might have to try and recreate the citrus risotto at a later date because I think it could be the perfect starch side for some summer meals.  The “surf” part of the meal was one of the most incredible pieces of halibut I’ve ever had in a restaurant.  It was lightly seasoned and perfectly seared, locking in all the moisture.  The fish completely fell apart but in the best way possible; it was so tender and juicy!  The final component was a toasted garlic crostini that was seasoned with dried parsley and a surprising dusting of chili powder.  This was one of those meals that left me completely depressed when it was all gone.  Yes, it was that good.

And what type of wine do you drink with this type of meal, you may be asking?  Michael Alberini’s suggested Harmony Chardonnay that the restaurant described as having “tropical aromas and flavors with a vein of vanilla in the mid-palate from the oak aging, then light citrus to accent the finish – outstanding work with this varietal.”  And I honestly can’t add much to the description- they accurately described it.  Looking for an excellent, light Chardonnay for the summer?  This is it.

Bottom line: if you find yourself in the Youngstown, Ohio area, Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop is worth checking out!

Stay tuned for some more restaurant review coming up.  I’ll be in San Francisco for a week soon and fully intend on staking out some local joints!!

Categories: American, Restaurants, Wine | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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