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Evanston Organic Grocery?

That's great news, thanks! I look forward to visiting the store once it opens...

Oct 08, 2008
cruzich in Chicago Area

Evanston Organic Grocery?

Hi...we're moving to Evanston in a few weeks and I've been doing a bunch of reading here and elsewere, making notes for restaurants, markets and stores to visit once we're settled in.

While we were looking at houses in various places, we drove past a vacant store at Asbury & Oakton that had big COMING SOON! signs in the windows, advertising that it would be an organic (or at least "natural") grocery store. I was very excited when I saw this but a month later I was by there again and the building looked exactly the same, no closer to opening.

So I'm wondering if this store is actually coming soon, or if it's been "coming soon" for months and it's never actually going to open, or what.

Anybody have any info on it? Thanks!

Oct 08, 2008
cruzich in Chicago Area

Anything good in Harrisburg

Haydn's on Pine appears to be closed now. Magia Qui and Suba are the best restaurants in town, in my opinion -- Char's Bella Mundo is really coasting on its reputation at this point.

The restaurant that replaced Simoson's is called Bayou -- it does Creole/Cajun food and it is excellent. Jackie Blue is gone now, too, replaced by Blue Bistro, and the two times I've been there I've been disappointed.

Good, high-end spots in Hbg are still few and far between but there are now quite a few high quality mid-range spots.

Feb 12, 2008
cruzich in Pennsylvania

Barbeque and Beyond in Winston-Salem

Thanks for the feedback...I'm sure there was a bit of ketchup in Honey Monk's sauce, but as a Chicago native I'm used to a whole lot more.

You're right, Don's is not worth checking out. BTW, I got the Don's recommendation, and the implied distinction between Western style and Lexington style, from this Chowhound thread and a poster named "Lee":

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/136208

"Don's Barbeque is highly recommended as it is about the only Western Style BBQ restaurant in the area as opposed to all the Lexington style places."

Looks like I was passing on bad information...

Aug 28, 2007
cruzich in General South Archive

Barbeque and Beyond in Winston-Salem

I just spent two days in Winston-Salem, NC, with a seven-hour drive down I-81 from Harrisburg to get there and come back. I came prepared -- I scoured this board for recommendations both in W-S and on the highway, and was able to make informed dining decision for every meal. Here's my report, copied over from my blog, The Dilettante's Dilemma (www.cruzich.com/dd.html

)

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I'm down here for a few days on business, attending the South Atlantic Fire Exposition. This was a long drive for what is going to be, I expect, a pretty boring show, so I was not too excited about going. I got a little more excited, however, when I learned about something called the North Carolina Barbeque Society's Historic Barbeque Trail. When it became apparent that my path would be crossing the trail, I suddenly got a little more interested in my first-ever trip to the Tarheel State.

So I spent a little time poking around on Chowhound, looking for barbeque recommendations in W-S and the surrounding area. Also, since I would be driving for seven hours to get here, I looked for recommendations in the towns along I-81 and US-202, and I was not disappointed.

I stopped off for lunch in Staunton, VA, at Mrs. Rowe's. This restaurant has been around for 60 years, specializing in fried chicken. So of course that's what I had, along with some mac & cheese and greens. The restaurant itself felt like a Shoney's on the side of any highway anywhere in America, but don't be fooled -- the fried chicken is something special. Juicy and flavorful, with a light coating that didn't overpower the chicken. I wasn't particularly impressed with the sides, but the excellence of the chicken more than made up for that.

Once I arrived in W-S and checked into my hotel, my thoughts turned immediately to BARBEQUE. There are, of course, several difference schools of barbeque in America: Kansas City, Texas, Memphis, etc. I had no idea that North Carolina alone had three different styles, or that I was in the home of one (Lexington-style) that I had never heard of. Since I'm barbeque-agnostic (I love 'em all), I was excited to check out a new style, so I drove down to the city of Lexington to try the pork shoulder at Lexington Barbeque (aka Honey Monk's). This was, based on the reviews at Chowhound, the acknowledged leader in this particular style, which calls for smoked shoulder only, with a thin, vinegar-based sauce with no ketchup whatsoever.

The place was packed on a Thursday at 6:00, which seemed like a good sign. We sat down and ordered the basics: coarse-chopped outside brown, cole slaw, hush puppies, beans, and a sweet tea.

This was among the best barbeque I've ever had. It was a little surprising upon first bite to not be getting any ketchupy sweetness (and, truth be told, I do like KC-style the best), but the meat was perfect. Not so cooked that it was falling apart, it put up a bit of resistance as you chewed it but gave up terrific smoked flavor while doing so. Outside brown is totally the way to go -- the additional smokiness and slight caramelization was fantastic, and the thin sauce imparted a vinegary zip and just the slightest bit of heat from the red pepper flakes. The sides were also great; the cole slaw (vinegar-based, no mayo, just like DJo makes it) carried over the flavors of the sauce, the hush puppies were light & airy, and the beans were smoky & sweet and were improved by a spot of (Texas-style) barbeque sauce.

Given the preponderance of barbeque joints littered throughout Winston-Salem, I was skeptical of the need to drive 20 miles to go to a particular joint, but rest assured the additional effort was worth it. I think any time you're within 50 miles of Lexington you are required to make the drive to Honey Monk's. You will not be disappointed.

After a great meal at Lexington Barbeque on Thursday night, I was looking forward to trying a few other places. First up was lunch at Sweet Potatoes, a little bistro in the Arts District, which was, conveniently, only a block from the Convention Center. They were packed at lunchtime but I sat at the bar and had an absolutely fantastic steak sandwich, and the best. Sweet potato fries. Ever. Crispy and nicely salted on the outside, creamy on the inside. They were heavenly.

Unfortunately my second barbeque experience was totally different from the first. First of all my phone totally LIED TO ME and Don's Barbeque was nowhere near my hotel, as it had claimed. Not a big deal, it just meant I had to drive out to the edge of town. I actually welcomed the opportunity to explore a little bit more of the city, as otherwise I was pretty much seeing my hotel by the Interstate and the two blocks around the convention center.

Don's is apparently one of the only Western-style places in Winston-Salem, which is why I decided to give it a try. Alas, it wasn't that great, but I don't know if that's because I don't like Western-style (more ketchup in sauce, therefore sweeter & wetter) as much or if it just wasn't very good. Either way, it was a let-down, although I will point out that even "not very good" barbeque is still really really good, especially when consumed with an ice-cold mass-produced domestic beer.

On Saturday, after another fantastic lunch at Sweet Potatoes (summer sausage with fried onions & corn relish, cup of three-cheese bacon soup, and seriously you have to eat at this place any time you're anywhere near The Triad), I packed up the truck and headed home. First, though, I had to make one more barbeque stop, this time at Clark's in Kernersville. I got a pound of coarse chopped to bring home, since it had been made clear to me that I wouldn't be welcome back in my home without it.

I was so pleasantly full from my lunch that I didn't even break into it until I was home, and then it was just to have a couple of bites. But the next day we made ourselves some sandwiches with the 'que and the barbeque slaw, which was their vinegar-based cole slaw with some of their barbeque sauce mixed in.

Clark's was, in my opinion, even better than Lexington Barbeque. Their coarse-chopped was actually big chunks of shoulder, and the tenderness of the meat was perfectly matched to the tangyness of the sauce. The meat benefited from a night spent marinating, and once we had piled the barbeque slaw on top, it made for a perfect sandwich.

I didn't get a chance to try Little Richard's, and I did see a sign for an Eastern-style barbeque place, but I'll be back in W-S in January and both of those places (along with the upscale restaurant that the owners of Sweet Potatoes are apparently opening) and already on my "to eat" list.

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Sweet Potatoes
529 N Trade St, Winston Salem, NC 27101

Lexington Barbecue
W US Old Highway 64, Lexington, NC 27295

Mrs Rowe's
74 Rowe Rd, Staunton, VA 24401

Don's BBQ & Restaurant
Old Hollow Rd, Winston Salem, NC 27101

Clark's Barbecue
1331 Nc Highway 66 S, Kernersville, NC 27284

Aug 28, 2007
cruzich in General South Archive

Morimoto Report

It's been a few years since the original Morimoto report, so I thought I'd add mine here now...

Dinner at Morimoto was fantastic. We got there a little early so we went to the upstairs lounge, which is a small room on the second floor with a window that looks out over the dining room. I had my normal going-out drink (Ketel One martini, up, extra dry, olives), and the bartender made Daryl something fancy & non-alcoholic.

For dinner, we were seated along the edge of the room -- the dining room is a single, open room with a sushi bar at the back of it. The ceiling is light wood slats, and it isn't flat, it has a bit of an undulation in it. The walls are covered with what looks like cast fiberglass, also in a wave/abstract art pattern. All the lighting is recessed and/or behind the fiberglass panels, so it's all indirect. The tables (the 4- & 6-tops in the middle of the room) are separated by bluish-green lucite dividers with lights in them. The effect is one of being underwater, and the entire room is bathed in indirect light. Very nicely done.

After looking over the menu, I decided to go with the omokase, which is the chef's tasting menu. I decided on this over the Kobe & lobster surf & turf, and was really hoping that I'd end up getting a bit of Kobe beef in my meal. I was not disappointed.

My first course was a hamachi tartare, with bits of crunchy onion mixed into it, served with Osetra caviar,mirin, and wasabi, with a yamamomo (tiny red fruit). It was AMAZING. Definitely the best dish of the meal (though the rest of the meal was fantastic as well) -- creamy, a little crunchy, salty, sweet, a perfect combination. Daryl's first course was two perfectly-grilled pieces of unagi sushi and a bite of my hamachi.

Second course was, as the server said, "the hot oil course" -- sliced hamachi tossed with garlic and then "cooked" by pouring hot oil infused with basil over it. The fish was just slighty poached, nice & firm, and very tasty. Daryl's second course was tofu mixed with a bit of seasme sauce and chopped vegetables -- carrot, scallion, pine nuts & mushrooms. It was a *huge* portion, much larger than either of expected from a restaurant like this, it was very tasty, and it lasted her through my next three courses.

Next was Thai snapper on a bed of microgreens with shaved bonito flakes, ginger, and hot sesame pepper oil. This was really the only disappointing thing I had -- the sesame oil overpowered the fish a little bit. It was at this point, though, that my 3-shot Sake flight was delivered to the table (late, originally forgotten by our server, and therefore free) so my disappointment was short-lived.

Next was a palate cleanser of basil sorbet with cucumber, white pepper and sea salt. This was shocking -- it took me a second the get my mind around savory sorbet, but once I did I was amazed at how deeply basil-y it was. A nice touch in the middle of the meal.

Next up was black cod sauteed in white miso with red bell pepper and black beans. I'm not a huge fan of cod (or white miso, actually) but this was very well prepared, perfectly cooked, and the sides complemented the fish. The bell peppers seemed like they were lightly pickled, and the black beans were not the kind you usually get, but were large and very sweet. I looked them up online and it looks like they are called "kuromame," which is a traditional Japanese New Year's Day food.

At this point, Daryl got her third course. When we were looking at the menu, we saw a bowl of ramen for $10. I said I thought she had to get that, just to see what a $10 bowl of ramen tasted like (sort of like the Japanese equivalent of the $5 milkshake at Jack Rabbit Slim's in Pulp Fiction). It was totally worth $10 -- the broth was concentrated essence of chicken, perfectly clear but intensely flavorful, the noodles were perfectly cooked, and the chicken was tasty and had not had all its flavor wrung out into the broth. She said it tasted like "80 chickens had been cooked to get this one bowl of broth." Fantastic.

My next course was the piece de resistance - Kobe beef with a ginger teriyaki glaze over Japanese sweet potatoes. I can imagine this sort of dish being done poorly at a thousand Benihana restaurants across the contry, with a random piece of beef over-marinated and plopped on top of a soggy slice of sweet potato. This was, however, perfect: two tiny rolled piece of the beefiest beef I've ever had (it was like sliced deli roast beef in steak form), with a light brushing of teriyaki, on top of a perfectly cooked (still creamy on the inside) sweet potato slice. Two small bites of heaven.

I decided to get a glass of sake at this point, ordered it, and our server reached a new level of obsequiety telling me that was "a fantastic choice" because "the gentleman" had sushi coming next. Dude, you're getting a good tip, just relax, and drop the stupid fake "accent," whatever it is. I did have sushi next -- one piece each of sake, suzuki (sea bass, which I had never had), sockeye salmon, king toro, and Japanese jackfish. Very tasty.

At this point Daryl's main course arrived: a whole barramundi, fileted off the bone and served with asian pear salsa, baby beet salad, and mushrooms, with a white miso sauce. The presentation was great -- the fish was sort of wrapped in a circle like an ouroboros (though it was not eating its own tail), and appeared to have been lighty breaded and ever-so-slightly deep fried. I'm running out of adjectives at this point, but it was perfectly cooked (what a shock): very tasty, flaky, and succulent. The pear salsa was a perfect complement.

Finally, dessert ("would the lady like to order a dessert? The gentleman's is complementary."). I had a small chevre cheesecake with creme fraiche & a grape compote, and of course a glass of Taylor Fladgate port to go with it. The cheesecake was pleasantly goaty and had no hint of sweetness. The compote wid not add anything to it but didn't detract either. Daryl had three small scoops of sorbet: chocolate (with toasted almonds), passionfruit (with a tiny cookie), and ornage (with orange slices). Each one was intensely flavorful.

This was, without a doubt, one of the best dinners I've ever had. With one exception, every course was great, and the one that wasn't great was merely very good. A few courses (hamachi tartare, Kobe beef, and the ramen) were among the best dishes I've ever had. The ambiance was great, the occasion was spectacular. All in all, one of the best dining experiences of my life.

Sep 05, 2006
cruzich in Pennsylvania

Good Sushi and other restaurants in Harrisburg (Near Widener Law School)?

Try Mangia Qui and Suba, on the corner of North & 3rd. Mangia Qui is a really nice southern Italian restaurant and Suba is their newly-opened tapas restaurant. http://www.mangiaqui.com/

Also, a little further into Midtown is Jackie Blue, a cool bar/restaurant that serves excellent seafood and other stuff as well. www.jackiebluedeli.com/

Really good food in HBG is hard to come by -- these are the two best restaurants we've found in the year we've been here.

Aug 29, 2006
cruzich in Pennsylvania

Vietnamese in Harrisburg

I see there hasn't been a post to this thread in over two years. I moved to Harrisburg a year ago and I have to say I'm not surprised at the lack of posts...it's hard work finding good food in this town, and Vietnamese is one of the hardest!

Pho Pasteur, mentioned in this thread, closed a few weeks ago and burned down not long afterward. Pho Vietnam, the ONLY place I've found banh mi, got closed down by the health department last month!

That leaves two places that I know of -- Garden Vietnamese at 3rd & Reilly, which is decent but nothing special, and the place in the Broad Street Market which has good pho.

Any other places, especially ones that sell banh mi, would be greatly appreciated. I guess I got really spoiled living in the Bay Area for so long!

Jul 10, 2006
cruzich in Pennsylvania