Eat It, Damn It!

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Monthly Archives: July 2013

Hill Country Barbecue Market

Time for some brisket. Time for a trip to Hill Country Barbecue Market.

MG and I had a hankering for some barbecue. (Why am I spelling it with a “c” instead of a “q”? Cause that’s how they do it in their name.) We had not been to Hill Country since visiting DC over a year ago. Before that, we’d been to the NYC location a time or two before.

The format is very informal. Upon entering, a hostess hands each patron a card. You seat yourself at any table. The tables vary in size from long picnic style to small four-seater. There are two stations for food, one for meat, one for sides. Stroll up with your cards, make your order, and receive your food. Take your seat and dig in.

Tray O' Food
This is the tray that MG and I shared. The meat comes in the butcher paper pictured above. The brown things you see are what act as plates. I’m not sure what to call them: bowls, plates, containers, food rectangle holders?

White Corn Pudding
Hill Country’s White Corn Pudding (small, $4.75) is my favorite side dish out of all the barbecue side dishes I’ve tried in any establishment. A beautiful meld of sweet and savory, solid and mushy, it makes my eyes roll into the back of my head every time. I know it’s not the nicest thing to look at, but it sure does taste good.

Mashed Sweet Potato
When MG sees sweet potato, she’s gotta’ have it. If you like sweet potatoes, you’ll enjoy this dish. The menu describes it as Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash (small, $4.75). I didn’t taste much beyond sweet potato, but that was just fine by me. I don’t know if the bourbon is supposed to impart a smokey flavor or what. Don’t let my commentary dissuade you from ordering. It is a very nice side, I just didn’t notice much beyond the sweet potato.

Cucumber Salad
MG picked out this side. This is not something I would generally order. Don’t get me wrong, I usually like something green with my barbecue, but I would not have thought to order the Cool As A Cucumber Salad (small, $3.95). It’s cucumber with some flecks of onion. If the liquid addition was vinegar, it wasn’t terribly strong. There is a little tang to the dish, but it doesn’t overpower the clean taste of the cucumber. In other word, this definitely comes across as cucumber salad, not pickle salad. It almost works as a palate cleanser in between the other bold flavors, which brings us to the star of the show…

Brisket and Sausage
MEAT! GLORIOUS MEAT!

There are two kinds of brisket, lean and moist. Basically, the moist has more fat. Personally, I don’t mind the extra layer of fat, but MG abhors any appearance of fat on her meat. If you place a steak in front of her and the fat has not been trimmed off, expect to hear a comment by the end of the meal. As we were sharing this meal, we got the Lean Brisket ($21.50 per pound). Don’t take the description “lean” to mean “dry”, because it is most certainly not dry. The flavor is outstanding, and the texture is simply wonderful. It doesn’t quite melt in your mouth as there is just enough resistance to remind you that you are eating some good beef. I understand that some people want ribs when they order barbecue, but I think you would do yourself a great disservice by not ordering some form of brisket at Hill Country.

I was intrigued by the Jalapeno Cheese Sausage ($6.75) and had to try it out. The cheese is not overwhelming, which I enjoyed. If you are expecting a gooey center, this is not the sausage for you. There is just enough cheese and jalapeno to create a push-pull of creaminess and heat. The sausage is very nice, very meaty, but doesn’t have an especially smokey flavor (as compared to some other places I’ve tried). Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. I still enjoyed it. The casing may give some people pause. It is a little thicker casing that I’ve had in the past, one that is almost meaty in and of itself. It was not tough or rubbery, but I did notice the texture as I rolled it around my mouth while chewing.

As I mentioned before, customers go to serving stations to get their meat and side. Drink and desserts are provided by waitstaff that come to your table. On this occasion, someone dropped off two waters at the start of the meal, and we never saw another waiter/waitress again. An aberration? I hope so. The last couple times we dined here, we did not have any problem, but this time we did. The restaurant wasn’t especially crowded, and they did not appear to be understaffed. Let’s hope it was just a one-off incident.

Take a trip to Hill Country. Have the brisket with some corn pudding. You will leave very satisfied.

Hill Country Barbecue Market
30 W 26th Street
New York, NY 10010
212-255-4544
(Google Map)

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Plan B Burger

Plan B Storefront
Chi-Chi Fu-Fu (pronounced Shee-Shee Foo-Foo). I don’t know if that’s the correct spelling, but that’s what a former co-worker used to describe fancy places, the kind of place that will serve you Chocolate Asparagus braised with Duck Phartz.

I’m not advocating class warfare. I have nothing against fancy food fusion. Sitting at a place with great ambiance and experiencing a unique culinary creation crafted by a master food artisan is a great way to spend an evening.

…but does a burger need to be fancy?

Blue Cheese Chips
MG and I started off with the Blue Chips ($7.99). The menu lists it as “House Made Potato Chips topped with Tomatoes, Warm Blue Cheese Sauce, Bacon, Red Onion & Jalapenos”. MG is still sans dairy and gluten, so she ate around the cheese and sauce. The chips are great. They are crispy. The blue cheese sauce has a good balance between cream and funk. Flecks and chunks of bacon are dotted throughout the dish, and the jalapenos are freshly sliced, not pickled. I’ll give the scholarly answer and say it was “interesting”. I loved all the individual components, but not sure that I liked them together. Everything is fresh and tasty, but I don’t think blue cheese and chips are a perfect marriage. To be honest, I thought this when ordering the dish. However, I was curious. If you like the combination of blue cheese and crispy potato, definitely order this dish. If you are on the fence, there are other interesting options.

Bacon Cheeseburger with Disco Fries
The star of the show, I got a Bacon Cheeseburger and opted for Disco Fries ($13.78). The disco fries were superb. The fries were crispy and well salted. The gravy had an excellent beefy flavor that was wonderful with the soft, creamy, well-melted cheese that went on top. These fries would make a spectacular drunk snack. If you like disco fries at all, you must order these.

Bacon Cheeseburger Innards
Check out the inside. The cheese is plentiful, but not overwhelming. The bacon is tasty and crisp. The white stuff you see on there is garlic mayo. It’s a great addition if you like mayo, and the garlic flavor is not overpowering. The burger?

Short answer? The burger is good. If you need a burger and you go to Plan B, I don’t believe you will be disappointed. However, I have to add a few thoughts.

When you order a burger you have the option of “Some Pink” and “No Pink”. What was the matter with “Rare”, “Medium”, and “Well Done”? I went with Some Pink. What I got was a burger that was a little closer to medium than rare, but pretty near the rare side in the middle. For some people, that’s great. I usually like my burger a little past medium. Granted, I could have said that, but I just went with their system. Next time, I’ll specify what I want and see what they do, but I think their current system is just messing with a tried and true description system.

The bun is very nice. It holds up well to the loosely packed beef disc. It is not especially soft or crusty, but just nice.

Burger on Grass with Sweet Potato Fires
MG got a Bacon Burger on Grass with Sweet Potato Fries ($14.78). She has had it many times before and really enjoys the dish. She hates that they use iceberg lettuce. For the price, she may have a point. It might be nice if they served it on a few leaves of Romaine with a smattering of Arugula. Nevertheless, she likes this meal.

The sweet potato fries are pretty great. They are crisp and well salted. Thumbs up.

Furry Art
The walls are dotted with what I call “Furry Art”. I don’t know the proper name. It’s not a painting, is it? I mean, it’s not painted.

MG and I got pretty simple dishes. The menu is very extensive. You can get burgers with truffle oil, roasted tomato, jack cheese, pretzel buns, etc…

I’m not going to dismiss Plan B as a fancy-pants burger joint. They make a nice burger. I could nitpick and say that burger could have a better crust or could use more salt, but I think that would be unnecessarily critical. Their burger is good. They have some tasty appetizers and sides. An extensive beer and liquor list is not a bad thing. If you want a quick, fast-food style burger, Plan B is not the spot. They don’t make a life-changing burger, but their offering is very respectable. If you want to sit around, sip a few cocktails and enjoy some slightly higher end bar food, Plan B is ideal. They have a few locations, so see if one near you sparks your interest.

Plan B Burger Bar
1638 Boston Post Road
Milford, CT 06460
203-713-8700
(Google Map)

From the Seoul

On the road south from Cape Cod, a traveler can get a little weary. Sometimes, said traveler can also get hungry. Thank goodness for mobile phone technology and apps. One can search the virtual world of food review and find a option that may look tasty. Hopefully, this site has been added to your favorites list and you follow it like Gospel, hanging on my every word like manna from heaven.

“‘Manna from heaven’?”
“Go with it. I hope people understand that I’m joking.”
“I don’t know. You may come off as elitist.”
“‘Elitist’?”
“Yeah.”
“Oh well. I’ll just roll with it.”

MG and I stopped in Dartmouth for a bite. Through the magic of the interwebs, we found From the Seoul. In the past, MG and I have both been terribly underwhelmed by Korean food, but there were no other options that were jumping out at us. Furthermore, the generally consensus was that From the Seoul was fantastic. The reviews were almost unanimously raves. “Once more into the breach”… or some such rot.

Vegetable Jeon
We started with the Vegetable Jeon. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. It tastes very much like an omelette. The pancake has a decidedly eggy flavor and texture. That would be why MG wasn’t as fond of it as I. However, when she added some of the spicy dipping sauce, she found it more palatable. I used the sauce only sparingly. There was a sweet element to it that I thought detracted from the wonderful, egg-like, vegetable-filled goodness. Big thumbs up. Highly recommended.

Assortment of Additions
Here are the accoutrement that are brought out to accompany the main course. I recognize the kimchi. Something else had tofu. Something else was onion. Hell, I don’t know what everything is or what it was called. For me it was, “That stuff is good,” and “That stuff, not so much.”

Bulgogi
MG got the Bulgogi. It is a heaping, plentiful portion. There is certainly no skimping on meat. MG found it tasty. I thought it was nice as well. There is nothing about the flavor that stands out as particularly distinct, but it was simply good.

LA Galbi
I got the LA Galbi. It appears to be a cross section of beef rib. It was good, but fighting with the tendon around the bones was a pain in the backside. I believe it was seasoned in much the same was as the Bulgogi, albeit with a different cut of meat.

Overall impression? It was better than most Korean dining experiences that I’ve had. The portions were very generous, and the flavor, though not outstanding, was more rich than other offerings I’ve sampled in the past. If you need a quick bite for lunch, I would definitely recommend giving them a shot.

From the Seoul
127 Faunce Corner Road
Dartmouth, MA 02747
774-328-9344
(Google Map)

Guapo’s Tortilla Shack

Guapos Signage
Mexican food on Cape Cod? Yep. Remember, MG does not eat seafood. Enter Guapo’s Tortilla Shack. They offer a number of gluten-free and vegan options, so they have options for every type of diner.

Clipboard Menu
This is an interesting menu. I guess a clipboard means that you never have to print an entirely new menu for one or two changes. Only a new page or two would need to be added. Great idea.

Complimentary Chips and Salsa
What’s a Mexican restaurant without complimentary chips and salsa? The chips are forgettable. They could use a little more snap. The salsa is nice. It has a little kick without being overbearing.

Roxy
One very attractive feature of Guapo’s menu was the drink selection. MG got the Roxy ($9), “Muddled Strawberries, Cilantro and Lime Chilled with 1800 Silver Tequila and Agave Nectar Served on the Rocks”. It sounds very attractive and complex. However, the actual drink, while nice, is not the cacophony of flavors that I was expecting. They weren’t stingy with the booze, but I’m not sure there was enough of everything else.

Margarita
The La Casa Margarita ($7.50) was similarly afflicted. It was properly made, but tame.

Honey Habanero Wings
The Honey Habanera Shack Wings ($7.95 for six) were the standout of the meal. Though not necessarily jumbo wings, there was plenty of meat. The crust was well cooked, and as you can see, there was no shortage of sauce. While I’ve had honey barbeque wings before, I’ve never though of adding honey to habanero or hot sauce. It was excellent. The sweet mingled with the heat was very nice. It even worked when blue cheese was added. I might have to try making something like this on my own.

Carne Asada Bowl
MG, still working without the glories of gluten, got a Carne Asada Buro ($9.95) in a bowl. Well made, but boring.

Beef Burrito
I went with Guapo’s Burro ($8.95) with Ground Beef. I got the Well Dressed option ($3.95) which adds Crema, Guacamole, and Pico. Despite all these additions, it was similarly boring.

Both burritos were properly cooked, but just missing something. I don’t know if they needed additional seasonings or just a little more salt. A shame.

I would recommend Guapo’s for the wings and beer. Baseball was on the big screen when I arrived, so it might be a good place to watch a game and have some appetizers. However, I can’t tell you what the other appetizers taste like.

Guapo’s Tortilla Shack
136 Route 6A
Orleans, MA 02653
508-255-3338
(Google Map)

The Original Seafood Restaurant

Original Seafood Storefront
As you drive about Cape Cod, you may see a few outposts of the franchise Kreme N’ Kone. From what I could see of the history of The Original Seafood Restaurant, they were once within the fold. At some point, they became their own entity.

Large Clam Chowder
We start with the clam chowder. You can get New England Clam Chowder anyplace on Cape Cod. Heck, I think gas stations might even have it on the menu. There is nothing special about this particular one. It is not bad, but unless you desperately want some clam chowder, there are more interesting options elsewhere (like The Skipper).

Fish Sandwich and Rings
The Fish Sandwich, on the other hand, is exactly what a fish sandwich should be. It had a crispy tasty crust, was served on a fluffy roll, had just the right amount of tartar sauce, and it was beautiful. It was the fish sandwich against which I will measure all other fish sandwiches.

Close Up Crispy Haddock
Take a look at that beautiful crust. When ordering the fish sandwich, one can choose between cod and haddock. I went with the haddock. It was tender, but meaty. The crisp crust yielded to a tender inside with each bite. I was so pleased with this offering, I was able to overlook the onion rings.

The onion rings are forgettable. The flavor is nice, but the texture is mush. It was more like a pile of fried onion with random breading, more suitable for eating with a fork than fingers.

Lobster Roll
Another Cape Cod stable, the Lobster Roll was quite nice. Original Seafood offers a hot or cold roll. I went with the cold.

Toasted Lobster Roll Bun
Plenty of lobster meat fills the well toasted bun. They could have been a tad lighter on the mayo, but it did not detract too much from the overall experience. I’m not sure if it is paprika or Old Bay that is sprinkled on top. Either way, it added a little more complexity to the overall flavor.

Original Seafood is a wonderful place. I would gladly go there again. The restaurant itself is very casual, set up like a fast food joint. If you want a great, simple meal, head on over.

The Original Seafood Restaurant
527 Main Street / Rt. 28
Dennisport, MA 02639
508-394-1123
(Google Map)