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hatteras04
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 09:27:11 (permalink)
wanderingjew

BUMP (Because it deserves one!)


Agree!  Great report.
#31
ScreamingChicken
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 10:20:59 (permalink)
Is Werner Park also the new home of the College World Series?  Or is that a different park, meaning that there are 2 new facilities in Omaha?
 
The prime rib looks really good (I like it medium-rare or rarer) but I'd never heard of spaghetti as a side dish.  I wonder how it started...do you know if Farmer Brown's offers it with all entrees or just certain ones?
 
Brad
#32
The Travelin Man
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 11:19:38 (permalink)
Werner Park is the exclusive home of the Omaha NotRoyals.  One of the problems that the O-Royals had was that they played in an almost-empty every night ball park.  Sharing the new park with the College World Series doesn't solve that problem.  The solution - the CWS moved to new downtown digs, and the O-Royals moved out to the 'burbs....and EVERYONE lost Rosenblatt.
 
FWIW, If Rosenblatt Stadium was a MAJOR league ball park, it would have been the third-oldest in the league - behind Wrigley and Fenway (the data on minor league parks is tougher to find, but I think it was in the Top 10 for oldest minor league park).  It's a shame what was allowed to happen in Omaha.
#33
Nancypalooza
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 11:45:06 (permalink)
Oh geez, now I really want a peanut butter roll.  I should probably go to lunch. :)
#34
ces1948
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 12:29:18 (permalink)
I saw that the new park in Omaha where the college world series is played called TD/Ameritrade has no minor league baseball. The Creighton University Blue Jays play their games there according to the web page.  So there is no baseball except for special events during the summer.
 
 
The Travelin Man

Werner Park is the exclusive home of the Omaha NotRoyals.  One of the problems that the O-Royals had was that they played in an almost-empty every night ball park.  Sharing the new park with the College World Series doesn't solve that problem.  The solution - the CWS moved to new downtown digs, and the O-Royals moved out to the 'burbs....and EVERYONE lost Rosenblatt.

FWIW, If Rosenblatt Stadium was a MAJOR league ball park, it would have been the third-oldest in the league - behind Wrigley and Fenway (the data on minor league parks is tougher to find, but I think it was in the Top 10 for oldest minor league park).  It's a shame what was allowed to happen in Omaha.


#35
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 12:34:35 (permalink)
WJ,
Looks like you were in Omaha a week prior to me!  I was there from June 22-26 for a wedding.  I had a few Roadfood opportunities, some panned out, some didn't:
 
- I was looking forward to a Runza, but I was disappointed this time.  It tasted much too salty to me.  The bierocks you got look great.
- Some friends and I had planned to go to the Surfside Club, but by then they were closed because of the flooding.
- I went to Bob Mama's Kitchen (http://www.bigmamaskitchen.com/page/1h0l9/Home.html )for lunch.  Got the smothered pork chops, fried okra, sweet potato pudding and cornbread, with smoked featherbones for an appetizer.  Chops, sweet potatoes and cornbread were good, okra seemed to be from frozen and the featherbones were dry.  Overall ok, I would try it again, but be prepared to wait for your food.  They cook everything to order and it took us about 40 minutes to get served.
- Went to La Casa (http://www.lacasapizzaria.net/ordereze/Default.aspx ) for dinner one night.  They have been in business for decades and there is a large local following for their pizza.  I had never had it before, but I wanted to try it.  They offer pizzas with mozzarella, or Romano cheese, or both, which I thought was interesting.  My friend got her favorite with the Romano only.  I got a meat combo with mozzarella.  It has a very thin crust, the sauce was tasty -- overall, I liked it.
- In addition to Runzas, my other favorite guilty pleasure food in Omaha is the fried croissant at Baker's.  Baker's is a local grocery chain, and one of their specialities is fried croissants.  It is a croissant that is fried (like a donut) instead of baked, and then dipped into a confectioner's sugar glaze.  Their other donuts are good, too, but ooohh that fried croissant!!
- Got a very good hamburger and fries at Upstream Brewing Company (http://www.upstreambrewing.com/ ) in the Old Market.
 
I have never been to Farmer Brown's.  From the looks of the place and the food it reminds of The Pink Poodle (http://www.pinkpoodlesteakhouse.com/pgsv2/main.htm) in Crescent, Ia.  They are known for their prime rib, portions are huge and it is delicious.  Did not get a chance to go there this time.
 
Thanks for your great report -- as always you paint a vivid picture of the areas you visit.
 
Ivyhouse
#36
wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 12:48:07 (permalink)
Hatteras & Miami Don
 
I was being facetious, I didn't want the trip report to get lost in the shuffle because I hate when the fina chapters get muddled together. I used to note when a report is updated in the header- I'll probably do that again so people know.
 
Screaming Brad
 
TTM answered the first half your question, I'll try to answer the second. Most of the old school steakhouses in the Omaha area were originally owned by Italian immigrants, therefore they included spaghetti as part of the meal. I believe Spaghetti does come with just about every meal at Farmer Brown's
 
Here is their website
http://www.farmerbrowns.com/
 
Ivyhouse
 
I went to Upstream Brewing twice, I was more impressed with their beer this time around than I was last time. They had a decent Scotch Ale and a Rye Beer on their revolving tap that was even better. It seems that it's only on a rare  occasion that I can find a rye beer anymore.

I tried Runza twice, back in 1998 and it was probably one time too many- my sentiments exactly- too salty. 
 
Nancy
 
If only I knew I would have taunted you with a photo like I did Chi Town Diner, TTM and Buffetbuster
#37
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 18:24:05 (permalink)
Thursday June 16
 
I started out the day by visiting an old fave, Blue Line Coffee Roasters in Warren Buffet’s Dundee neighborhood. The place hasn’t changed a bit since I last visited 3 years ago, it still serves a fine cup of java and it is still one of the dumpiest looking coffee houses I ever visited.

Since I’ve been to Omaha on three prior occasions, I was concentrating on stuff off the beaten path this time around.

Since my first Lunch stop would be in Sarpy County, I decided to stop first at the Sarpy County Museum.
 

 
 
With some cool historical artifacts from pioneer days
 

 
 
 

 

 
 
and an adjacent historical train depot,
 

 
 

 

 
what caught my attention was of course this stuffed Buffalo Head. If you remember my Rocky Mountain Highs and Big Skies trip report from 2 years ago you will recall that I’m obsessed with these things
 

 

Also I’m wondering how today’s teachers would fare with these set of rules circa 1872.
 

 

After enjoying the museum, I stopped by this old log cabin which apparently was built back in 1835.
 

 

I was now getting hungry for lunch (Atkins bars can do that to you)
Of course since I was in Bellevue, I had to visit an old standby.
 

 

Stella’s Hamburgers

Stella’s now has a sign, they didn't when they  had just completed renovations when Travelin Man and I visited 3 years ago.
 
I looked at the limited menu (and having a limited menu here is just oh so appropriate!)
 

 
 I ordered my burger with cheddar and grilled onions I also asked for a half order of their home made potato chips, they forgot and gave me a full order but still only charged me a buck.
 

 
 

All I can say is wow, Stella’s is even better than I remembered. The burger was absolutely spectacular, juicy, and flavorful without having to fight for competition with it’s accompaniements.
 

 
 
 The home made potato chips were also just as good as they looked.
Revisiting Stella’s has reaffirmed my position that Omaha is definitely the burger capital of the nation.
No visit to Stella’s would be complete without a return visit to Ted and Wally’s in the Old Market in Omaha. 
 
 

 
You can even watch how  the ice cream being made 
 
 

Hoping that their famous “French Toast Ice Cream would be on the menu (it wasn’t) I had to "settle" for Cranberries and Cream (poor me!!)  Although it’s not as funky as french toast, or for that matter Sesame Peanut, it was still a fine choice- pure cream and real  fruit- 
 
 

 

After my snack, I drove up to the Mormon Trail Center.
 

 

 
A museum and cemetery. Apparently the mormons briefly stayed in Omaha prior to settling in Salt Lake City
 

 
 

 

 
 (I wonder if they took I-80?)

My final historical stop of the day was
 

 
 

Boy’s Town. For those who were around for the movie (I wouldn’t even be a thought for nearly another 20 years) when it first came out, Father Flannagan, a priest and Irish Immigrant, established an orphanage for wayward youths in the 19teens. 
 
Their hall of history provides a very detailed history of Boys Town.
 

 

 

 
 

As it turned out Boys Town is also the only time on this trip that I got proverbially “Travelin Manned”. Hoping to visit Father Flanagan’s home, when I arrived it was closed.
 

 
Oh well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
Hoping to find some sour cream raisin pie right here in Omaha, I ended up at the Farmhouse Café and Bakery, just about a mile from my hotel. As I entered I observed a plethora of pies in the display case, unfortunately they did not have sour cream raisin pie. The caramel apple pie looked good, however I really had my heart set on sour cream raisin.
 
 I opted for a burger instead. Finding rave reviews on yelp and urbanspoon about
 

 
 
 Burger Star
 
a relative newcomer to Omaha’s burger culture scene, I was wondering if this was the real deal or just hype.. In a strip mall, the decor was actually kind of cool.
 

 
Somewhat “chainish” in a “Hard Rock Café” kind of way, I can assure you that this is no chain. I did get a kick out of the cow hide booths though.
 
 

 
Upon entering, you fill out this score card with the options you want on your burger, you hand it in, get a number and take a seat. 
 
 

As you can see by my score card, I ordered the “star style burger”
 

 
 It actually delivered quite well, it was a superior“fast food” style burger, probably one of the better ones that I've ever had, but overall, although the burger may be a "Star"- it  fell short of Stella’s, she still reigns as the burger queen here in Omaha.
After relaxing for a few hours back at my hotel (I did a lot of walking today) I ended up at my dinner stop.
 

 

Any visit to Omaha would not be complete without a visit to Johnny’s Café, a classic steakhouse and Roadfood favorite right in the center of Omaha’s old stockyards.
 
This was my opportunity to order a Gin Martini- Beefeater of course!
 

The meal begins with Johnny’s complimentary cottage cheese spread. Like  my previous visit I ordered my salad with blue cheese dressing and blue cheese crumbles.
 

 
As much as I enjoy blue cheese, I realized after I ordered that it’s probably going to be overkill and I probably should have asked for the house dressing with blue cheese crumbles instead- it was still a good salad.
 
One thing I realized is that when something is good you stick with it. Well, I ordered the Omaha Strip, however this time I asked for Au Gratin Potatoes since I wanted to try something a little different.
 

My steak, served medium as requested, was absolutely  impeccable. Unfortunately the Au Gratin Potatoes were not, they tasted “watery” and worse the complimentary onion ring was cold, stale and as hard as a rock. Ok I should have ordered the Hash Browns instead, however there was no excuse for the poor quality of the onion rings. Overall I should still be satisfied with Johnny’s. Although the steak was nothing short of perfect, the accompanyments this time around were disappointing (save the salad).
After dinner, I headed back to my hotel for the evening. I have a big travel day to look forward too.

The final chapter, tomorrow.





#38
Sundancer7
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 18:42:29 (permalink)
WJ:  I have been to Omaha dozen's of times and I have visited all those places you visited.  I started two business locations there and I have been there during all seasons.
 
Omaha is known for their steaks and I agree that Johnny's has good steaks but it seems that their sides may have gone downhill?
 
Enjoyed your pics
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
#39
MiamiDon
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 18:45:02 (permalink)
Lemon peal in a martini?  For shame! 
#40
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 20:56:03 (permalink)
You have had wonderful trips this summer, Dale! So much fun to tag along with you!
#41
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/06 21:11:25 (permalink)
Stella's! Yum!!
#42
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 08:21:34 (permalink)
Paul
 
I've heard previous complaints about the sides and the onion ring at Johnny's Cafe . If I recall, Pigiron had the same issueI believe that when some one buys the onion ring appetizer they are cooked to order but the complimentary ones which accompany the steaks have been probably been sitting around. I have a feeling if I ordered the hash browns (like I should have) I wouldn't have had any complaints.
 
Don
It's Omaha- what do they know!
#43
Nancypalooza
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 09:45:37 (permalink)
I have two nonfood related comments.  Does anybody know if it's Johnny's or Farmer Brown's that makes the appearance in 'About Schmidt'?  And the museum makes me think of 'Angels in America'--the HBO version at least.
#44
buffetbuster
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 09:47:55 (permalink)
Nancy-
It was definitely Johnny's Cafe in About Schmidt.  I had one of those, "Hey, I've been there", moments in the movie theater.
#45
Nancypalooza
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 10:15:29 (permalink)
The food looked familiar in those pictures, but the dining room at Farmer Brown's threw me off.  I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that stuff at the movies. :)
#46
The Travelin Man
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 10:16:20 (permalink)
I guess I am now too used to Facebook....I wanted to "Like" BB's comment above.
 
One of the things that I really like about visiting Johnny's Cafe is the interaction with the on-site owner (Sally?).  I don't think I have ever been there when she wasn't there.  Since I have always been in Omaha at the peak of their busiest tourist season (the College World Series), she has always asked what else we planned on doing while in town.  She is a great ambassador for the city - even offering encouraging tips on where else to eat while in town, and fun things to do around the city.
 
As has been discussed, I wouldn't even think of making a stop in Omaha without going to Johnny's....but, I would order the hash browns!  :-)
 
Nancy - you should have been with me when I watched "Up in the Air" in the theater.  My friend kept elbowing me when I would point out inaccuracies in the airport scenes!
post edited by The Travelin Man - 2011/07/07 10:17:30
#47
wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 17:43:17 (permalink)
I just saw About Schmidt  for the first time ever on TV a few weeks ago.  I knew about the scene at Johnnys' Cafe
 
I met the owner of Johnny's Cafe when I was there with TTM three years ago, unfortunately the owner wasn't there on my last visit. 
#48
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 18:09:20 (permalink)
Friday June 17
 

My last day in Omaha began with another good cuppa java at Blue Line. Today I promise I’m really going to have a full breakfast (well not really) Yes, it’s a full meal, no it’s not really breakfast, but I did have it at breakfast time. 
I missed out on trying a local Eastern Nebraska specialty,   the cheese frenchee during my last visit to Omaha. I thought about going to Don and Millies but they got slammed in reviews on the internet and apparently also on a subsequent  Roadfood review too.
 
Prior to visiting, I did some careful research and found wonderful praises about
 
 

 
Shirley’s Diner,
 
in the outer western suburbs of Omaha in a area called Millard.. Cheese Frenchies would normally not be considered a breakfast meal, therefore I called Shirley’s in advance and they assured me that it would be available for breakfast.
Arriving at Shirley’s Diner, I was surprised that it was housed in a strip mall. I was expecting a free standing building. Once again, the decor inside makes up for the generic exterior setting.
 

 

 
 

Well, I can truly say that some of my meals were truly decadent to the point of overkill on this trip.When you consider a grilled cheese sandwich, slathered in butter, battered , rolled in cornflakes and then deep fried, I believe this joins the ranks.
 

 
This was sooo good, that  it was bad, but I really, really liked it, and it was served with crispy hash browns to boot. On the way out I chatted briefly, with the owner, Doug and also told him about Roadfood and the website. I don’t know what the rest of the food is like at Shirley’s Diner, but if it’s anything close to the cheese frenchee that was served to me,  then I totally recommend Shirley's Diner.
Finally checking out of my hotel, I began the long 600 mile drive (including out of the way detours) back to the City of Big Shoulders.
 

My first stop  for lunch was a 35 mile round trip detour to The Chatterbox Café in Audobon IA, reviewed by Ayersian.My GPS failed me for the second and last time on this trip, although this time it only took me to the other side of the street, I glanced and saw the the Chatterbox Café sign in my peripheral vision.
 
 

 

When I walked in, I found the place to be very spartan, basic although there were a few cool signs on the wall.
 
 

 

 
 
Well, you didn’t think I would leave Iowa without a breaded pork tenderloin, did you? I wouldn’t want to see that look of disappointment on Davydd’s face. My sandwich arrived and it was certainly no slouch in the annals of BPT sandwiches,
 

 
however it was not the best I ever  had, that honor still goes to TC’s Point After in Dewitt IA. The dessert choices were somewhat  bizarre, TWO kinds of apple pie and a peanut butter bar-
 

 
No Sour Cream Raisin PIE? . I asked the waitress why there were two different apple pies available and she said something to the effect that the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing. 
I ordered the apple crumb pie versus the apple pie,
 

 
and I certainly made the right choice.....There’s no doubt in my mind why Iowa is a big pie state.
 
I headed back on the road. Entering the Des Moines area I veered north. As I noted previously, I had one more baseball stop to make. I’ve been wanting to come here for years, and finally arriving I had a sense of Deja Vu, hell I’ve seen the movie so many times so that’s no surprise.
 

 

 
 
 
 The Field of Dreams Movie Site in Dyersville IA. Everything appears exactly “as is” as it was in the movie. With temps in the mid 80's, slightly muggy, and buggy, it even felt like I was there with Ray Kinsella, Terry Mann and Shoeless Joe Jackson.
 

 
It would have been great if I had the opportunity to bring a bat and ball and knock a few out but I really didn’t think of it.
 

 

 

 
At this point I was about 20 miles from my final meal of the trip. Passing through
rolling hills I didn’t know that North Eastern Iowa coud be so scenic.
 

 
Written up in both editions of Eat Your Way across the USA, the oldest restaurant in Iowa suffered not one but two total fire losses within the last 5 years. I’m glad I finally had the opportunity to visit
 
 

 
Breitbach’s Country Dining.
 

 
In Balltown IA. Apparently when the owner rebuilt, they tried to duplicate the original building as accurately as possible.
 

 
 
Entering the restaurant this places SCREAMS Roadfood. 
 

 

 

On Friday nights, Breitbach’s offers a buffet, however I called in advance and confirmed that I have the option of ordering off the menu. I thought the salad bar at the Danish Inn was impressive, all I can say is wow, this is probably the best heartland salad bar I’ve been too.
 

 
Pasta Salads, Egg and Cheese Salads, Three Bean Salad, Marinated Carrot Salad (which was out of this world) even cheese spread, ham salad and braunschweiger.
 

 
The beef vegetable soup the weakest part of the entire meal was pretty good too.
 

 

My main course, two small but thick cut and juicy Iowa Chops wrapped in bacon, were full of double bovine bliss  porcine pleasure and the crispy hashbrowns topped with cheese and onions did not disappoint.
 

 

 
 And although I had a fine cherry Pie to complete this classic heartland meal,
 

 
I was once again disappointed when the waitress recited the list of pies available and once again NO SOUR CREAM RAISIN PIE??? 
 
The meal at Breitbach's Country Dining ties for third place with Farmer Brown’s Steakhouse.
 
It was a long 200 mile drive back to the Windy City. First on mostly two lane highways into Rockford IL, then construction from Rockford towards the beginning of the Chicago Metro area (Elgin)  and then of course typical traffic in the Chicago Metro area. 

Finally arriving at my hotel a little after 9pm, I flew out on an early flight on Saturday morning and was back home by 11 AM.
 
post edited by wanderingjew - 2011/07/07 20:47:29
#49
joerogo
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 18:48:57 (permalink)
WJ, Aggressive trip to say the least.  Great report!
 
The Iowa Chops wrapped in bacon, looks like pork?
 
(How did you get your hands on my camera for some of those pics?)
#50
Sundancer7
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 19:50:38 (permalink)
WJ:  Great report and great pics and your expensive travels makes me very envious.
 
Just a question?  Was it bovine bliss or porcine chops?
 
Thanks
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
#51
i95
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 20:10:41 (permalink)
wanderingjew 


 

 
 
OH, MY GOD !!
On that shelf! That's the very hatchet-
wielding clown that, for the last 17 years, has
been trying to kill The Travelin Man!! 
 
 
#52
ann peeples
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 20:19:45 (permalink)
Again, WJ, fine, fine report.I have enjoyed every bit of it.
I-95, you never disappoint!LOL!!
#53
wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 20:41:32 (permalink)
Paul
 
Yes, I was trying to figure out what joerogo
meant, thanks for clearing that up for me- it was porcine paradise- I'm going to edit that right now
 
I95
 
One day, The Travelin Man will walk into Shirley's Diner and then......." />
 
ann
 
Thanks, I'm going to try to make it to the annual Roadfood Bus Tour this year- I can never get tired of Chicago or Milwaukee


#54
The Travelin Man
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/07 22:37:47 (permalink)
wanderingjew
I95

One day, The Travelin Man will walk into Shirley's Diner and then......." />


Nahhh....they'd be closed.
#55
mr chips
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/08 03:27:45 (permalink)
Once again, a superb report WJ.  Your food finds are superb and your side excursions are always interesting. As always, thanks for sharing your adventures with us.
#56
MiamiDon
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/08 07:54:20 (permalink)
Bacon-wrapped pork chops with cheese-smothered hash-browns.  Wow.
 
Did you eat the cheesee frenchee thing with a fork-and-knife or by hand?
#57
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/08 08:59:28 (permalink)
Excellent job on this report WJBreitbach's has been a place on my hit list for years and it is great to read that it is still very much Roadfood-worthy.  Don't they pride themselves as being the only restaurant to have both Jesse James and Brooke Shields dine there?  Most likely, not together, though.
 
And thanks for not inundating us with photos of great looking sour cream raisin pies.  I don't think I could have taken it!
#58
ScreamingChicken
Sirloin
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/08 09:30:46 (permalink)
Excellent report, WJ.  You did a fine job of capturing a lot of what makes the Midwest (although the Dakotas are technically in the Plains) what it is.
 
I wonder if sour cream raisin pie is more common in western Iowa.  I generally don't pay much attention to the dessert section of a menu but I don't recall ever seeing it listed at restaurants I've visited in the eastern half.
 
Is there a story about why "Shirley's Diner" is owned by a guy named Doug?
 
Brad
#59
wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! 2011/07/11 10:02:31 (permalink)
Was out of town this weekend with NO internet access. Got back late last night and just now have seen the new posts from Friday.
 
 TTM
You're right, they probably would be closed, however I'm sure the killer clown will be waiting for you outside.
 
Mr. Chips-
Thanks
 
Miami Don
 
I can't tell you how anyone else would eat the cheese frenchee, but it was definitely a knife and fork meal for me.
 
Buffetbuster
 
I totally recommend Breitbach's, It should definitely be on your hit list the next time you're in the area. Truly a Roadfood treasure.
 
Screaming Brad
 
It seems that Sour Cream Raisin Pie is not a constant menu item on most menus in any of the states where you can find it. When I was in Minnesota last year, I was told its more of a winter menu item. I would think it would be more common in Eastern Iowa because it's closer to Wisconsin
Several restaurants in Eastern Iowa offer it:
The now defunct White Way Cafe in Durant had it on their menu regularly.
 
Last year I enjoyed it at Chuckwagon Dining in Cedar Falls
 
Another place I had researched , The Homestead Restaurant
in Independence lists it on their menu on the internet.
 
And Breitbach's does offer it- just not on the day I was there.
 
The irony about Shirley's Diner is that the Co Owner, Doug's wife is named Denise!
 
 
#60
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