Back to the Breadbasket!

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wanderingjew
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Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 06/29/11 7:42 PM
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 Yes this is a continuation of my most recent trip report.

Although this is a physical continuation of this trip, in actuality this is a spiritual continuation of this trip.

Last year, I spent 2 ½ weeks heartlanding through the breadbasket. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to visit every place in the heartland. I barely scratched the surface in Oklahoma and completely ignored Western Iowa and Eastern/Central Nebraska. 
Well, although I didn’t return to Oklahoma, I did have the opportunity to make some amends.
 
Monday June 13
 
Leaving the outer echelon of the Southwestern Chicago Suburbs, I entered the land of Lincoln, Springfield IL. 

Arriving earlier than expected, it was too early to visit The Corner Pub. Receiving rave reviews on the web, The Corner Pub is one of the few places in Springfield to serve a Horseshoe with fresh cut fries. Since I had a huge drive ahead of me and they didn’t open until noon, I considered option number 2.
 

 
D & J Café
 
 
 I had to ask if they served fresh cut fries with their horseshoe, but knew the answer was “no” however they did tell me that their cheese sauce is homemade, OK, I’ll give. 
My Ham Horseshoe arrived. 
 
 

 
If there is one meal that I can pinpoint as a disappointment on this entire trip, its
this one. Don’t get me wrong- it wasn’t a bad meal, the cheese sauce was heads and shoulders above the nacho cheese goop served to me 5 years earlier at the Springfield family restaurant when everything was closed on Labor Day. However the blah frozen fries just put a damper on things.
Afterwards, I had one more stop before I headed out on the open roads in a North Westerly direction
 


Cozy Drive In 
Right on historic Route 66. I regret not getting any photos of the cool interior since my order was “to go” 
 


Why do I feel like a peeping Tom whenever I view this photo?
 

I ordered one cozy dog to go,
 

 
It was OK, however keep in mind I’ve never been a huge fan of corn dogs. I would go back though and stay just to soak in the really cool atmosphere.
 
While I was still in Chicago, BuddyRoadhouse begged, pleaded for me to go to Dr of BBQ's place- well, I'll be back in this neck of the woods over labor day week. I just decided to extend my trip one day and spend an entire day Roadfooding/exploring Springfield, I'll just make sure that I'm not there on Labor Day.

My long drive lasted through most of the afternoon. Entering Iowa and driving along I-80- this song came to mind.
 
I finally arrived at my dinner destination.
 

 
The Redwood Steakhouse
 


In Anita Iowa. Reviewed by Ayersian, I was looking forward to enjoying this classic steakhouse which seems to be lost in time.
 

 
 
Can anyone guess what I ordered?
 

 
 
Beginning with a “you just don’t see this anymore” relish try, I marveled that it even included herring! 
 

 
My Windsor Chop arrived.  All I can say is wow!This was one of the best chops I ever enjoyed. It literally screamed “oink” as soon as sunk my teeth into it. If Gene & Georgetti’s was the best meal of the trip, then the Redwood comes in second. 
 
 

 

Thanks Ayersian for a fine recommendation.
After checking into my hotel, in Council Bluffs, I drove across the bridge into Omaha. Now that it was later on in the evening, I thought I would get a night cap at the local brewpub in the Old Market. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Ted and Wally’s was still open this late in evening. Since I never turn down Ice Cream from Ted and Wally’s, I had to get some. Offering some really funky flavors, I went with Honey Sesame Peanut. It was fantabulous- like an entire Thai Meal in ice cream form. 
 

Unfortunately this is a cell phone photo which of course I had to send to Traveling Man in order to taunt. Regretting that he wasn’t in Omaha for the upcoming college worlds series later that week, I thought about really torturing Traveling Man by telling him that I was enjoying ice cream with “Warren” and we were discussing stocks, but that would have been too much .
Afterwards I walked around a little more, ended up enjoying that nightcap at the local brewpub, drove back to my hotel and called it a night. 
More to come, tomorrow, or the next day, or perhaps later in the weekend.

<message edited by wanderingjew on Mon, 07/11/11 10:03 AM>

ann peeples
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 06/29/11 7:48 PM
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Bob is in Springfield as we speak! Will e-mail him your suggestions!

Michael Hoffman
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 06/29/11 8:02 PM
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That is one glorious looking pork chop.

ces1948
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 06/29/11 8:40 PM
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Yes that is a nice looking chop. Any idea what the weight was?

blizzardstormus
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 06/29/11 9:03 PM
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According to Redwoods, 13 oz.

Sundancer7
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 06/29/11 9:18 PM
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WJ always does interesting trips.  The pork chop looked outstanding.  I have been in Omaha many many times and that area of the USA always has good pork and steaks.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

ces1948
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 06/29/11 9:42 PM
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That relish tray looked good also. I don't think I've been to a place in years that served a relish tray.

DirtDude
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 7:37 AM
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I miss finding hash browns like those, you just can't beat them.

joerogo
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 7:53 AM
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Nothing says welcome to my restaurant like a relish tray.  Ant that is one of the best I have ever seen.

agnesrob
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 8:08 AM
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That pork chop!!

ScreamingChicken
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 9:08 AM
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I'm not familiar with the term "Windsor chop" but a little online digging has me thinking it's a bone-in loin chop that may or may not have been smoked.  WJ, did it have any smoke flavor?  It certainly looks delicious!
 
Brad

Mosca
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 10:33 AM
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Day-um.

MiamiDon
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 10:45 AM
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ScreamingChicken


I'm not familiar with the term "Windsor chop" but a little online digging has me thinking it's a bone-in loin chop that may or may not have been smoked.  WJ, did it have any smoke flavor?  It certainly looks delicious!

Brad

I looked around, too.  It seems to be the pork equivalent of a t-bone or porterhouse steak.

mayor al
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 11:55 AM
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Usingers Meat Packers in Milwaukee has a Smoked version of chops that look just like that.  They are beautiful, but I must confess that, while I love all things BBQ'd and Smoked, in this case give me the unsmoked version, seared over high heat and done 'medium'. The fresh pork flavor beats the smoked choice in my book.
Here they are before visiting my grill !!!


ChiTownDiner
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 1:01 PM
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That is one nice mix on the relish tray...was that liver sausage?

tcrouzer
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 4:37 PM
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That relish tray is way more substantial than I've ever seen! Love your trip reports, WJ! Outstanding reporting! Thanks so much!
Teresa

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 6:15 PM
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Screaming Chicken
 
I don't think that  chop was smoked, I've had a smoked chop once, last year at Riefe's Restaurant in Davenport IA. The smoke flavor at Riefe's was obvious. The Chop at the Redwood had more of a porcine taste vs an enhanced smoked taste. 
 
Chi Town Diner
 
Yes, I do believe that was liver sausage.
 
Everyone else, yes that amazing chop was just as good as it looked. 
 
 

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 7:40 PM
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Tuesday June 14
 
After experimenting with a couple of new coffee houses (13th street Coffee Company) in the old Market and Benson Grind- in a really cool urban neighborhood, I found both places to be OK but nothing special, I do look forward to going back to a tried and true favorite later in the week.

I was going to spend most of the day meandering around Western Iowa.
First stop was a a visit to an old Standby.
 

 
The Farmer’s Kitchen 

In Atlantic IA
I contacted  Blizzardstormus in advance and told him that since I was in the area (Chicago???!!!) I decided to come on down. 

This time around I ordered The Hot Beef and it truly didn’t disappoint.
 

 
Fork Tender Beef, real mashed potatoes and savory gravy. If this truly doesn’t
define comfort food then I don’t know what does 
Topping my meal off with Charlene’s famously sinful sour cream raisin pie could not make a better ending to a fine lunch. 
Here is the “moneyshot” of Charlene’s masterpiece. 
 
 

 
(of course "real time" photos were immediately sent to Buffetbuster and Chi Town Diner)
Since Blizzardstormus and I were going to meet for dinner later on, I had the rest of the day to explore Western Iowa. .
My first stop was the Hitchcock House in Lewis.
 

 
Owned by a minister and his wife in the mid 1800's this house was one of the stops on the “underground railroad” which led north to Canada.  Obviously not a railroad of course, many escaped slaves made it to these safe havens simply by merely relying on the stars. 
Here is the upstairs, where the minister and his wife lived.
 

 

 
 

 
 
And here is the basement, where the slaves stayed (under cover)
 

 

 
 
My next stop was Walnut, the antique capital of Western Iowa. Walnut’s main 
street is lined with Antique Shops, although I could have spent all day rummaging around some of the shops, it appeared that some were effected by the economy and were either going out of business or already out of business.
 
My final stop of the afternoon was Elkhorn IA, home of the Danish Windmill. Elkhorn has a big Danish population
 

 
(as you can see)
 
and one entrepeneur of Danish descent thought it would be cool to find a windmill in Denmark, deconstruct it , ship it across the Atlantic and reconstruct it right here in Elkhorn. Here is the result.
 


For a couple of bucks, I could enter inside the windmill and climb all the way to the top.  Where you can see the inner workings of the windmill.
 

 
Since I was going to have dinner right here in Elkhorn, I had a few minutes to kill before meeting Blizzardstormus and walked right by Larsen’s Pub, winner of several breaded pork tenderloin contests. 
 

 
 
Dinner was at the
 

 
Danish Inn.
 
I met up with Blizzardstormus and his younger brother too. Although I’m usually not a fan of buffets, the Danish Inn is an exception. Serving homemade danish delicasies including frickadeller (meatballs) stuffed pork “morbrad” and sausage “medisterpolse”.
 

 
The restaurant also offered a classic full salad bar . More midwestern than Danish, again, all well prepared homemade items.  
 

 

 
 
 

As we were enjoying our meals, Blizzardstormus and his brother were talking "shop" with the owner, Jeremy who was also a fantastic host. The three of us also shared “smorrebrod" or Danish open faced sandwiches. 
The first two were roast beef., one I believe had remoulade sauce and I believe the other was horseradish 
 

 
 


This sandwich I believe was frickadeller 
 

 
 
and this one was Rollepose
 

 
Finally for dessert we all shared the following:
 


Danish Cake.
 
 

Lemon Tort
 
 

 
Rice Pudding 
 
 

 
and of course my favorite.Kringle
 
in fact here is a whole packaged Kringle (no I didn’t buy it) 
 
 


Again usually shying away from buffets, I can truly say this was a meal that exceeded my expectations. 
Unfortunately I had to cut out a little early, since I would be exploring Central Nebraska the next day. I had a big drive ahead of me. After nearly fours hours of driving  (speed limit 75mph!) , I found myself in Kearney NE. I checked into my hotel for a well deserved good night’s sleep.

leethebard
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 06/30/11 9:20 PM
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I'll agree. I wouldn't shy away from that buffet either. Looked different and I'd want to try at least one of everything!!!

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/1/11 8:31 AM
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Lee
One thing I discovered is that salad bars in the heartland are like no other in the rest of the country (similar to the veggie selections at the meat n' threes throughout the south) . I went to one more restaurant (reviewed in one of the older roadfood books)  which offered what seemed to be  a fine buffet, however I ended up eating off their menu. Believe it or not, their salad bar actually trumped this one!

buffetbuster
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/1/11 8:40 AM
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Is it even necessary to tell you how incredibly jealous I am over that sour cream raisin pie?  No doubt it is 10x better than anything we had on our trip.  The hot beef at Farmer's Kitchen looks sensational, too.
 
Really enjoying the report, keep it going!

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/1/11 11:44 AM
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Buffetbuster,
 
Unfortunately this would be the only opportunity for Sour Cream Raisin Pie (although enjoying just one opportunity for Sour Cream Raisin Pie at The Farmer's Kitchen makes up for any disappointment of not finding it elsewhere), I tried three other times and failed (and that included one place that actually advertised that they had sour cream raisin  pie on their website) but we'll get into that later on in the trip report.

Sundancer7
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/1/11 12:03 PM
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wanderingjew


Buffetbuster,

Unfortunately this would be the only opportunity for Sour Cream Raisin Pie (although enjoying just one opportunity for Sour Cream Raisin Pie at The Farmer's Kitchen makes up for any disappointment of not finding it elsewhere), I tried three other times and failed (and that included one place that actually advertised that they had sour cream raisin  pie on their website) but we'll get into that later on in the trip report.

 
I have never tried or had the opportunity to try the raisan pie.  Perhaps it is not a East TN thing?  Your pics have made me very curious.  I certainly enjoy the hobbies of BB and WJ and even the Mayor when he does it.  I wish I was not getting so old that long drives or flights sorta wear me out before I even start.  I have to make a pit stop about every 100 miles.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN


ynotryme
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/1/11 2:38 PM
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Great report and there is nothing that I would rather eat than a hot roast beef sandwich. It's hard to find a great one tho with tender beef, real mashed potatos and especially great gravy

mar52
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/1/11 3:07 PM
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I'm also coveting your hot roast beef sandwich.  Great report as always.
 

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/1/11 6:41 PM
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The Farmers Kitchen's Hot Beef is definitely one of the better hot beef's I've had. 
 
Mar
 
I just realized you were doing a trip report too. It looks like you started it while I was still on vacation which is probably why I haven't picked up on it- I'll check it out soon, I've just been incredibly busy since over the past two weeks since I got home. 
 
Everyone- I still have 3 more chapters, although I'm staying local this holiday weekend, I'll be busy, so I'll continue the trip report within the next few days.

DirtDude
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/1/11 8:07 PM
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I haven't had dinner yet tonight, and this post is KILLING ME.

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Tue, 07/5/11 6:04 PM
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Wednesday June 15
 

Waking up early   I had another 100 miles or so to go, mostly on 2 lane highways before hitting my first spot of the day.
 
 
 

 
Sehnert's Bakery
 
in beautiful downtown McCook NE. This bakery has been around since the 1950's 
 

 
and it has an adjoining café called the Bieroc Café and there’s even live entertainment there in the evenings.
 

 
 

Today is the first day that I’m going to have a formal breakfast (if you can call it that)
 
Although I was extremely tempted to tear into this beauty of a cinnamon roll in the glass display case...
 

 
I was a man on a mission  and the first reason is, you have to ensure an early arrival so that they don’t run out of their Peanut Butter Rolls.
 

 
 Like a cinnamon roll but with peanut butter icing instead and yes it was worth the drive. Of course I also came here for one of their famous cabbage burgers. They were still in the oven when I arrived. The young blonde farm girl behind the counter asked if I wanted mine with or without cheese, I advised no cheese, I was also given the option of “kraut” or cabbage. I asked which was more traditional, and she replied kraut. Ok, I’ll go with that. As I waited, I also ordered probably one of the best iced coffees I ever had and also went to town on my peanut butter roll.
Finally my kraut burger arrived,
 

and it was everything I dreamed of. It was nothing like the nightmare I had at the Homemade Hell sandwich shop in Ogallalla 3 years earlier. Kraut n Beef encased in a steamed bakery fresh bun, pure heaven, mustard and ketchup packets were provided, I didn't need either.
 


It was now off to lunch # 2- Heading back east towards Omaha to
 

 
 
Back Alley Bakery
 

 
 
in Hastings NE. I had reviewed their website prior to visiting and noticed that they occasionally offered cabbage burgers (bierocks) as specials on their lunch menu. I e-mailed proprietor, Charlotte Hamburger prior to visiting and she assured me they would be on the menu on the day I arrived.
When I arrived, I introduced myself to Charlotte who advised me that her daughter was up early, cooking the cabbage and the bierocks were ready to go..  I ordered the Cabbage Burger with a side salad..
 

 
Another winner. The cabbage was soft, limp and soulful, similar to cabbage you might find at a southern meat n three and the meat comparable to what one might find in an Iowa maid rite- pebbly and spiced. The bun was “breadier” than that at Sehnert’s, but was still soft and bakery fresh.
 

 
Leaving, I lamented  after seeing  the carrot cake in the glass display case. It  looked amazing (and I didn’t get a photo), unfortunately I had to save room for dinner. Three hours later I arrived back in Omaha and had some time to kill before dinner. 
One thing I promised myself is that when I got to Omaha, I would hit at least two steakhouses- one "tried and true" and one "new" (The Redwood doesn’t count since it was still in Pork Country) I thought about visiting Warren Buffet’s old haunt., Gorat’s but even though Warren loves the place, apparently most people on Yelp and Urbanspoon don’t..One “old school” steak joint that surprisingly got rave reviews was
 
 

 
 
Farmer Brown’s Steakhouse
 
 
in Rural Waterloo Nebraska about 18 miles west of downtown Omaha. Arriving just as they opened, there were others also waiting to get in as well.. Classic “old school” atmosphere,
 
 

 

 
and there was even an old fashioned phone to go along with it!
 

 
I started out with a salad,and went with the house dressing and roquefort crumbles.
 

 
If the rest of the meal is half as good as this salad, I’d be satisfied. Even the fresh warm bread that followed was quite good
 

 
 
Everyone on the internet raved about the prime rib at Farmer Brown’s, so that’s what I went with. The meal comes with hash browns and yes, a side of spaghetti- apparently this is traditional at many of the steakhouses in the Omaha area. 
Anyway, more about the meal, the hash browns were perfectly crispy and the Prime Rib was perfect- just the way I ordered it medium, even the spaghetti was good served with a rich, thick almost sweet tomato sauce.
 

 
 

 

 
 
 
If Gene and Judes was my best meal on the trip and the Redwood Steakhouse was #2, then Farmer Brown’s definitely takes third place. It certainly exceeded my expectations. 
 
 

It was now time for my last ballgame of the trip. The Omaha Royals used to play at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. Well, the Royals are now the Omaha Stormchasers and they just moved into their new stadium, Werner Park,
 

 
 

 

 
 
 

 
about 10 miles away in suburban Papillion, and wow, what a disappointment. This generic stadium looks like it was plopped into (you name that town in suburbia) There is nothing unique about this ballpark that screams (or even whimpers) Omaha and there is every tacky contest imaginable in between each and every inning. Ok, let’s get to the game, the Storm Chasers were playing the Iowa Cubs. It was a pretty quick game with the Stormchasers winning, until the 8th inning when the Stormchaser’s pitcher tanked, and let’s just say at that poiint, I left, I simply couldnt take the torture of sitting there anymore. I found out the Cubs beat the Stormchasers 8-5. 
 

 

 


Overall, I think somehow, some way the Stormchasers (IE the Royals) should have worked something out with a a downscaled renovation of Rosenblatt Stadium, but hence Rosenblatt stadium will become part of the Omaha Zoo.
 
I have one more anticipated baseball place to visit before the end of the trip, however this is the last of my professional ballpark visits for this trip.

After the game, I stopped at a surprisingly decent brewpub, the Nebraska Brewing Company, housed in an upscale shopping mall in Papillion. Afterwards I headed back to my hotel for the evening. 
 
The two final chapters to come before the end of the week.
<message edited by wanderingjew on Tue, 07/5/11 6:42 PM>

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 7:59 AM
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BUMP (Because it deserves one!)

MiamiDon
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 8:34 AM
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Thanks for bumping it up, wj.  I'd missed the latest installment.  Man, I'd love to try those cabbage burgers, and that prime rib and hash browns look perfect.

hatteras04
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 9:27 AM
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wanderingjew


BUMP (Because it deserves one!)


Agree!  Great report.

ScreamingChicken
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 10:20 AM
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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

The Travelin Man
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 11:19 AM
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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.

Nancypalooza
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 11:45 AM
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Oh geez, now I really want a peanut butter roll.  I should probably go to lunch. :)

ces1948
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 12:29 PM
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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.



Ivyhouse
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 12:34 PM
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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

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 12:48 PM
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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

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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 6:24 PM
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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.






Sundancer7
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 6:42 PM
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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

MiamiDon
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 6:45 PM
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Lemon peal in a martini?  For shame! 

ann peeples
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 8:56 PM
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You have had wonderful trips this summer, Dale! So much fun to tag along with you!

blizzardstormus
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Wed, 07/6/11 9:11 PM
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Stella's! Yum!!

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 8:21 AM
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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!

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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 9:45 AM
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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.

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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 9:47 AM
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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.

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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 10:15 AM
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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. :)

The Travelin Man
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 10:16 AM
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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!
<message edited by The Travelin Man on Thu, 07/7/11 10:17 AM>

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 5:43 PM
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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. 

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 6:09 PM
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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.
 
<message edited by wanderingjew on Thu, 07/7/11 8:47 PM>

joerogo
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 6:48 PM
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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?)

Sundancer7
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 7:50 PM
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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

i95
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 8:10 PM
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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!! 

 

 


ann peeples
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 8:19 PM
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Again, WJ, fine, fine report.I have enjoyed every bit of it.
I-95, you never disappoint!LOL!!

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 8:41 PM
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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



The Travelin Man
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Thu, 07/7/11 10:37 PM
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wanderingjew

I95

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


Nahhh....they'd be closed.

mr chips
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/8/11 3:27 AM
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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.

MiamiDon
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/8/11 7:54 AM
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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?

buffetbuster
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/8/11 8:59 AM
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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!

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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Fri, 07/8/11 9:30 AM
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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

wanderingjew
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Re:Back to the Breadbasket! - Mon, 07/11/11 10:02 AM
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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!
 
 

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