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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, April 11, 2014 4:35 AM

Here is the great butter burger of Milwaukee, a city where burgers are a passion. It is a modest-sized patty of beef, cooked through, served on a bun quite literally bathed butter. Not margarine, not flavored oil: pure, dairy-rich, delicious butter. You can get a Super burger (2 patties, and a good idea; to us, a single one is overwhelmed by its bun) or a Super Special, which adds lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise to the mix (also a good idea), as well as cheeseburgers and burgers topped with mushrooms, onions, and Monterrey Jack cheese. The biggest of all burgers is the Cheesehead, which is a half pound of sirloin with Swiss and American cheese, stewed onions, raw onion, and mushrooms. It is virtually impossible to eat with one’s hands, but it’s fun to try!

There are a few other kinds of sandwiches on Solly’s menu, none of which we’ve tried, also omelets and fish fries, excellent crinkle-cut French fries, and made-here pie. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, we recommend you reserve it for a milk shake, which is Dairy State-rich and made in flavors that include chocolate, hot fudge, strawberry, pineapple, vanilla, and the superb fresh banana malt. Another confectionery alternative is a black cow made with Sprecher’s root beer. And, this being a city where ice cream is even more beloved than butter burgers, there is a full array of sundaes, too.

Seating is at two horseshoe-shaped counters with stools. The staff of uniformed waitresses go about their business with well-seasoned hash-house aplomb.
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Roadfood of the Day: Snook Inn - Marco Island, FL
Posted on Friday, April 11, 2014


These beauties were tasty to eat on top of toast that was dipped in the garlic juice.
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Posted on Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lithuanian Coffee Cake

A Claire's specialty now for decades, Lithuanian coffee cake is indeed great with coffee ... in the morning or for an afternoon break.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 9:27 AM

Back in 2013, the Wall Street Journal declared that the cupcake trend had peaked; cupcakes were no longer the fashionable pastry they were when New York's Magnolia Bakery became a media darling at the turn of the century because its cupcakes were featured on the TV show "Sex and the City"; one food writer even observed a "cupcake backlash" among consumers who realized it was all too easy to make their own.

Those of us who loved cupcakes before they were chic continue to love them even if their status among food oracles has sunk. And as for making our own, we know for sure we never will make ones as good as those turned out by The Cake Box of Ridgefield, Connecticut.

These are handsome cupcakes, expertly baked and artistically frosted, modest in size but large in flavor, ranging from utterly simple "Very Vanilla" and "Life by Chocolate" to such daily specials as Wednesday's "Almond Joy" (almond buttercream in a chocolate cupcake topped with toasted almonds and coconut), Friday's "Elvis" (banana cake filled with milk chocolate ganache with peanut butter frosting), and Saturday's "Peppermint Patty" (chocolate cake filled with mint buttercream). They are baked fresh every day, and they taste it: moist, buttery, made from ingredients of the highest quality.

In addition to cupcakes, the Cake Box makes wickedly good chocolate chip cookies, brownie bites, Italian macaroons, scones, muffins and cinnamon rolls. They also are known for elaborately decorated special-occasion cakes. While much business is take-out, you can sit down here in a comfy chair and enjoy pastries along with coffee or espresso.

Note that while there are a few gluten-free items available at the 1 Big Shop Lane location, proprietors Robert and Jordan also have a sister store, Swoon, completely devoted to gluten-free and nut-free pastries. It is located nearby in Ridgefield at 109 Danbury Road.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 3:58 AM


Green Vegetarian Restaurant is not merely vegetarian. It also is kosher, meaning closed Friday night and Saturday; several items on the menu are strictly vegan; some are gluten-free.

The sun was blazing when we stopped in, so it seemed only right to start with an icy smoothie that blended pineapple, mango, papaya and banana in a mix known as "tropical cooler." Refreshing? More than a bath in ice water.

The menu offers many options, including breakfast/slash/brunches that include sweet potato pancakes, huevos rancheros, migas and vegan tacos. Of course there are salads: Greek, raw beet, raw vegetables with raw pecan hummus and a taco salad that includes soy chili. Side dishes are listed on the menu "from healthiest to happiest" – kale salad to French fries and onion rings.
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Posted on Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Filberts (aka hazelnuts) are a true-Oregon crop. 99% of all the ones grown in the United States fall from trees in a patch of the Valley west of the Cascades and north of Eugene. The word "filbert" comes either from St. Philibert, whose nameday is August 22, when the English nut crop is ready to harvest, or possibly from the fact that the husk around an on-the-tree filbert's shell resembles a full beard, words that somehow morphed into filbert.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:09 AM

Well situated for an impatient appetite arriving at the Buffalo Airport, Charlie the Butcher’s is an essential stop for anyone who wants to sample the Nickel City’s unique sandwich, “beef on weck.” Slow-roasted beef, tender and pink, is sliced thin and piled on a hard roll that is crusted with pretzel salt and kummel (caraway seeds). The top half of the roll gets dipped briefly in beef juice. The sandwich is served with only a pickle spear as garnish, although many customers slather it with eye-opening horseradish from the Broadway Market (where Charlie Roesch’s grandfather started this beef dynasty in 1914).

It’s a no-frills restaurant. Place your order at the front window with its fabulous view of the carving block, then pay and find a seat at the low-low counter or a table topped with oilcloth. All seats provide a nice view of the kitchen, where you’ll see Charlie himself, with a large staff of accomplished helpmates, slicing cabbage, tending soups, and cutting beef to order. Sandwiches are served in cardboard boats; and it’s customary to bus your own table.

By the way, Charlie’s menu extends beyond beef on weck; and everything else we’ve sampled is first rate: Buffalo-made hot dogs and sausages grilled over coals, chicken spiedie (a boneless breast that is marinated and grilled), and such daily-special sandwiches as meat loaf (Tuesday), and double-smoked ham (Monday). The beverage list includes the local favorite, Loganberry, as well as Charlie’s personal favorite, Birch Beer.
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Posted on Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Huckleberry Carrot Cake

If you order one thing - make sure it is this unique dessert.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, April 7, 2014 4:46 AM

Classic Chicago Hot Dog

We owe a deep debt of gratitude to Glen Stepanovic, who wrote imploring us to visit Gene & Jude's. Somehow, this estimable hot dog stand just a few minutes the OTHER side of O'Hare had eluded our radar. It is hugely popular – Glen said it's the largest purveyor of Vienna hot dogs on earth – but it is a relatively small and extremely modest place. There are no tables or chairs at all; as is Chicago custom, the eatery offers a chest-high counter to which you may bring your meal, unwrap it, and eat standing up. When you're finished, use the wax paper in which the food was served to gather up any scraps and heave them in one of the large garbage cans provided in the corners of the room. We find this arrangement comfortable and eminently practical for eating extremely messy food; however, many customers choose to dine in their cars in the parking lot.

You get a hot dog or a double dog. The natural-casing, all-beef Vienna brand tube steaks are slim and snappy; they are inserted into soft buns and dressed with mustard, onions, piccalilli, or sport peppers as you request. Glen told us that some hot dog historians consider this the "original" Chicago style dog, before the more baroque garnishes of pickle spear, tomato slice, and celery salt.

A fine, fine hot dog … but wait, there's more! Whatever toppings are included, each dog gets heaped with a large fistful of French fries … some of the best French fries in Chicago. Fresh? Forget about it! As you wait for your hot dog to be prepared, you can watch the counter folks peel and cut whole potatoes, then fry them, drain them, and pile them onto waiting dogs. They spend a good long time in the bubbling oil, emerging a dark, dark brown with some pieces crunchy through-and-through, others thick and potato-creamy inside.

It's a great, true-Chicago meal.
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Posted on Monday, April 7, 2014

Joe's "Dreyfus Store" Restaurant

The strange name of this restaurant goes back to the 19th century, when a building on this spot was a dry goods store run by Theodore Dreyfus. When Joe and Diane Major made it into a restaurant in 1989, they kept the name as an homage to the old store.
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