Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour

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UncleVic
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/14 01:34:24 (permalink)
Wow Buddy... I thought this thread was about your tour... Just tuned back in here to see whats been happening... What awesome reports on the food travels! Wish ya had a camera with ya to document some of these fine finds... Awesome! And Welcome Back to Michigan!


tacchino
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/14 04:09:52 (permalink)
Dear Lord, that Sobelman's bloody mary looks like a complete meal!! Shrimp, vegetables, etc. on skewers?
How much does it cost?
I love it! with a bread basket, it would make a great brunch on its own!
jjjrfoodie
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/14 11:13:31 (permalink)
EDIT: Me and my big mouth. So sorry BR.
Alakazaam One, alakazaam two, alakazaam three, and POOF it's gone!
BTW, Pay no attention to the man beind the curtain....

BuddyRoadhouse
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/14 12:40:43 (permalink)
Uncle Vic,
Thanks for re-checking us out. I'm sorry you haven't been keeping up with these reports. Now you have a lot of catching up to do. Yes, there is some discussion of our experiences on these trips, but the primary focus was always meant to be the food reviews, bolstered by little essays on the interesting people we meet along the way.

Based on your post, I'm a little concerned that there are many others who are avoiding this thread, thinking it is just a blatant plug for our products. As you have read, nothing could be further from the truth.

tacchino,
That is one tasty looking Bloody Mary. We're going to be back in Milwaukee this Friday and Saturday (full details will be posted later today or early tomorrow). We're going to make a serious effort to check out two of those places that MilwFoodlovers was kind enough to recommend. That Bloody Mary makes Sobelman's a prime contender.

TripleJ,
That is, in fact, the place. I was tying to build dramatic tension; follow a story arc, leading up to our triumphal meal Saturday night. Now you're just going to have to wait for all the details. In fact, I'm so upset by the ruining of the surprise I may not write it up at all (relax, just kidding, we're cool).

Thanks to all for tuning in; there's plenty more fun to come. The summer's not even half over yet!

Buddy
BuddyRoadhouse
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/14 17:02:03 (permalink)
We're back up in Wisconsin for a pre-Father's Day tour. As in, "Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauces make excellent Father's Day stocking stuffers. Pick up a couple for Dad's Day and watch his eyes tear up with joy!" Okay, just between us, maybe that's a stretch, but that's the story we're going with, so c'mon out and pay us a visit.

Friday, June 16, 2006, Noon-7:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Piggly Wiggly; W. 61, N. 288 Washington Ave.; Cedarburg
BuddyRoadhouse: Piggly Wiggly; 835 E. Green Bay Ave.; Saukville

Saturday, June 17, 2006, Noon-6:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Sentry; 701 N. Meadowbrook Rd.; Waukesha
BuddyRoadhouse: Sentry; 3270 Golf Rd.; Delafield

After we wrap up each night, we'll be checking out one of MilwFoodlovers dinner suggestions. Man, that Sobelman's Bloody Mary looks tasty, don't it?

Full reports next week. Meanwhile, I've got to finish up the logs for last week's Michigan trip, including the answer to the suspenseful questions, "Will our intrepid Barbecue Heroes make it to 'Slows' for dinner? How long will they wait for a table? and "Can you really get good brisket and pulled pork in Detroit?" for the answers to these and so many other daunting queries, tune in tomorrow to "Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer Tour 2006"! (Cue the organ music)

Buddy
BuddyRoadhouse
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/14 17:06:46 (permalink)
J Cubed,
You are a good sport. Love the emerald green trim on the Wizard's photo! Now, everyone just pretend that you don't know that we wind up at Slows Bar-B-Q on Saturday night. Don't forget, act surprised!

Buddy
MilwFoodlovers
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/14 22:13:55 (permalink)
Just our luck that we'll be in Illinois when you visit Wisconsin. I know Jane and Michael mention Saukville Meat Market on Highway 33 1/4 Mile West of I-43 (262) 284-0898. I've never been there myself. Saukville isn't all that big so you may want to check out an Irish roadhouse owned by Dubliner Finbar McCarthy called McCarthy's Pub 3315 Highway I (just west of town off of Hwy 33 to the north) (262) 284-9808. If you meet him, you're in for a treat as he's a character from an island full of characters. Its certainly no place pre-built and sent to the states for an instant "Irish pub". Finbar is also a very good musician and his place is well worth a quick stop for a pint and some blarney.
BuddyRoadhouse
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/14 23:46:06 (permalink)
I dunno MFL, I've already got my tastebuds set on Sobeleman's Cheeseburgers and Bloody Marys. Does McCarthy's serve any grub or is it just booze?

Having spent considerable time in Irish pubs in Ireland, I would certainly welcome a bit of the craic (pronounced "crack", Gaelic for good conversation and/or entertainment). On the other hand, after seven or eight hours on my feet yacking at about a thousand customers, I just wanna plop down in a chair, soak up a cocktail and chow down.

McCarthy's Pub might be a better option sometime when I'll be less fatigued and more alert. Of course, if they serve food and it's any good, I might change my mind.

So what's the scoop?

Buddy

P.S. You'll have one more chance to catch us in Milwaukee, the weekend of June 30th-July 2nd. We'll be up in the Green Bay area July 13-16. Details will be posted as we approach those dates.

B.
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/15 01:56:08 (permalink)
Friday, June 8, 2006
As described yesterday, Royal Oak’s Main Street area is a lively commercial strip geared toward a young, single, hip crowd. As such, most of the eateries are loud, brightly colored, splashy affairs, with just as much emphasis on the booze as on the food.

Amidst the noise and hype sits Albano’s Café, 315 S. Main Street, (248) 399-4491, a small understated, peaceful oasis of European “homestyle cuisine”. Done up in tranquil off-white and beige tones, Albano’s subtle presence stands in contrast to the mad rush outside its door.

We were seated and served by a soft-spoken, lovely young woman who appeared to be a member of the Albanian family that owns and operates the store. The menu is a fascinating kaleidoscope of pan-European dishes, with Italy, Spain, France, and Greece represented, along with a selection of Stir Fry (!), Pita Wraps, Burgers and other American fare on the back page. The first thing that came to mind was, with all this diversity in the menu, maybe they don’t do any of it very well.

I mean, here we were, in a restaurant that was right in the heart of one of the busiest commercial strips in southeast Michigan, at 8:00 on a Friday night, and we were one of only three tables in the place. The other restaurants up and down Main Street were filled to overflowing with thirty minute wait lists; there must be some reason no one is coming in here. And then it occurred to me-the booze. Albano’s doesn’t serve liquor on a street whose very economic foundation is built on the bottle. We decided to stay and give it a shot.

Turns out, this was a good call. Both entrees included a huge house salad served on a full sized dinner plate. The salad included attractive mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber. Our waitress also delivered a basket with a generous sized loaf of soft, fresh bread.

Dad tried the Chicken Piccata; nice big pieces of white meat chicken cooked with wine, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and garlic, served over linguine. The chicken was perfectly cooked, very tender and moist with a subtle flavor of garlic and wine. The artichoke hearts and mushrooms were a nice contrasting flavor in this good but not great dish.

I went for the Crepes a la Parisien(sic) which were billed as “Homemade phyllo dough, eggs and milk stuffed with stir fried chicken and veggies, then baked with heavy cream and mozzarella cheese". I think I was most intrigued by the notion of phyllo dough standing in for a traditional French crepe. That and the combination of eggs, milk, heavy cream, and mozzarella. Sometimes you just need to let your inner glutton come out to play.

Although I was disappointed to find a regular old crepe instead of phyllo dough, the crepe provided was very flavorful with a rich buttery taste and mouth feel. It was filled to bursting with tender chicken, and bite sized chunks of carrot, green beans, bell pepper, and zucchini. The sauce was as promised; rich heavy cream with milk and eggs covered by the cheese in a large chafing dish and then browned under the broiler to create a very satisfying crusty edge.

Albano's is putting out a very good, if not 100% “authentic” product that is clearly prepared with great care and pride. One wonders, why doesn’t this Albanian family offer any Albanian food on their over reaching menu?

Given the quiet dignity of Albano’s, this may be a poorly chosen location for the type of operation they are running. They’ve been open a little less than a year; I hope Albano’s makes it on Main Street. If you’re in the area, check them out and show a little love.

After dinner we walked up the street a bit and stopped in for a hefty serving of gelato. As we continued to walk, we passed Comet Burger, a 50’s style diner that has been tempting me since the first time I laid eyes on it ten years ago. The smells and the ambience have been calling out to me, but I just can’t seem to justify wrapping up a long day by sitting at a lunch counter and shoving a skinny little burger in my face. I want more.

But then I decided, seize the opportunity! Tomorrow night, we’re going to have dinner at Comet Burger. I locked my brain and my tastebuds around the concept as we headed back to the car.


Buddy

P.S. I met another guy today who recommended Slow’s Barbecue. This guy was also unsure of an exact address, “Somewhere near old Tiger’s Stadium,” he supposed. This is an intriguing mini trend. The thing is, we’re not going to be anywhere near downtown Detroit. I don’t want to drive all the way into town after a hard day’s working on my feet, and then find out that Slow’s is some little dive with nothing but a counter and a parking lot with nowhere to sit down.

Besides, the name sounds like a contrivance; “Slow’s”. Like they’re trying to create some phony persona; “Come on down to Slow’s and let Earl Slow fix you a big ol’ plate of Bobba-coo.” I make another mental note and hope that someday the right circumstances present themselves.

B.
MilwFoodlovers
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/15 06:48:17 (permalink)
McCarthy's building looks to be at least 100 years old and personifies the word roadhouse. It looks like it might have food worth traveling a great distance for but a quick look at its menu showed only standard bar food; at least when I first looked at it. I've never been hungry while stopping in so never pursued any eats.

We have a "Greek-type family restaurant on S. 27th St. called Benny's that actually is Albanian owned. They have just a sprinkling of Albanian dishes on their menu but what they call "quebobs" is really good. We had the owners son serving us and he was really pleased that we wanted to try his native food. I mentioned that these might taste excellent paired with eggs for breakfast also and saw on our next visit that they are no longer just a lunch and dinner item. Sort of a squat short sausage. they have a delicious taste to them that should prove popular if folks give them a try.

Your dinner of a Sobelman's Sobelman Burger and Bloody sound like just the antidote to a hard day on the road; hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
BuddyRoadhouse
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/16 01:37:38 (permalink)
Saturday, June 10, 2006
I woke up this morning with a hankering for Comet Burger. I was ready to face the day and whatever hurdles life might plop down in front of me in the race course of life, because tonight, no matter what, I was gonna be munching on a Comet Burger on Main Street in Royal Oak, Michigan! Yessiree, I will plop myself right down on that genuine 1950s stool, prop my elbows on that long Formica covered counter and I’ll holler, “Gimme a Comet Burger with everything and make it slide!” I have no idea what “make it slide” is supposed to mean, I just wanted to throw some genuine sounding diner lingo into the mix.

So, I dropped Dad off at his store, wished him luck and said, “See ya for Comet Burgers tonight!” I got to my store, and set up for work with visions of sugarplums and Comet Burgers dancing in my head. I imagined their juicy, greasy goodness complimented by a huge pile of steaming hot fries and a frosty thick chocolate milk shake made with real ice cream. Madge and Louise, the two imaginary waitresses in my head would saunter by occasionally and ask, “Everything alright here, Hon? Can I freshen up that glass of water for you?”

And then it happened. Just as I was about to get Louise’s phone number (let’s keep that just between you and me; not a word to Mrs. Roadhouse, please), a real live customer brought me back to reality with a discussion about local ‘Que.

“Listen man, you’ve got to try Slow’s down on Michigan.”

“Mmm-hmm, did you happen to hear the last two digits of Louise’s phone number just then?”

“What? No really, these guys do it right. Pulled Pork, Brisket, great Ribs; they've got it all.”

“Sounds good. What do you suppose that perfume was that she was wearing?”

“Perfume? What...? Listen if you want good ‘Que, this place has it. Excellent sides, good place to get a drink, too.

“Okay, whatever. Hey wait! Did you say Slow’s? You’re the third guy in three days to recommend Slow’s Barbecue. This is really good stuff? 14th and Michigan? Near old Tiger’s Stadium? Yeah, yeah, we’ll give it a try.”

Only this time I meant it! Sorry Comet Burger, you’re getting tossed into the back seat of that ’57 Chevy once again. Slow’s, here we come.

When I picked up Dad, before he could get out a word, I asked him, “Where do you think we’re going to dinner tonight?”

“I’m guessing not Comet Burger.”

“You are an excellent guesser,” I told him. “Get on the cell and call information. We want the number for Slow’s!”

The nice man at Slow’s talked us in like an air traffic controller bringing in a plane flown by the guy who knocked on the cockpit door and found the pilots in a drunken stupor. Hey, this was new territory for us. In ten years of doing business in Detroit, we’d never been to Detroit before!

The directions were spot on and in little time we found ourselves at the back door entrance of, not Slow’s Barbecue, but the apostrophe free Slows Bar-B-Q, 2138 Michigan, Detroit, (313) 962-9828. Slows, it turns out is not someone’s name, but rather a knowing reference to the “low and slow” method of cooking true barbecue.

We were clearly not in the best part of town, but as long as we kept our eyes on Slows’ building, we weren’t all that aware of our surroundings. Apparently the three owners of Slows, one of whom is the chef, bought this once dilapidated building for mere pennies, and sank a boat load of money into its renovation and restoration. It really shows!

The outside of the brick building has been sand blasted and all the wood trim and architectural details have been freshly painted. Inside they have done an excellent job of maintaining the original roughness of this warehouse space, mixing the heavy, hewn wood ceiling beams and exposed brick with large areas of dark wood paneling and lighter wood parquet. The ceiling itself is painted a deep reddish brown barbecue sauce color with dark wood trim creating a rectangular pattern. The bar wraps around from the front door entrance into the second dining room tying everything together. All these sophisticated design elements still manage to preserve the manly, rugged qualities that personify Barbecue.

Even the menus play their part in the ambience; each one is made up of two pieces of 10”x 8”, dark stained, 3/8” plywood, hinged together with the paper menus sandwiched in between. Just watching the waiters stack up and carry away a load of menus from a large table is quite a show!

Dad and I did our usual first time order for a new greasehouse, a plate of Pulled Pork and a plate of Brisket. Each meat came with two sides; we chose the Mac-n-Cheese, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, and Baked Beans.

The Pulled Pork was moist and smoky. Slows serves their Pork in big chunks, so you know you’re eating a real piece of meat, not a pile of finely chopped mush. There was an excellent ratio of chewy, well seasoned crust to moist tender inner meat. Dad even commented on their similarity to Kansas City Burnt Ends. This from a guy who hadn’t even tried Burnt Ends until he was well into his 70s. I guess I’ve been a positive influence on the old man.

The Brisket was thick sliced, about 3/8” to 1/2” thick and it was butter tender. Let's face it, anyone can slice a Brisket thin enough so that even the toughest, most over cooked piece of shoe leather will be easy to chew. When you can slice it this thick and still cut it with a fork, you know the pit-master has done his job. The pit-master at Slows also understands that Pork is far more forgiving of a heavy smoke flavor than Beef. An over-smoked Brisket can turn bitter and acrid. This Brisket was delicately flavored with just enough smoke to add a little richness to the meat.

All the side dishes were given a neat little twist on the usual preparation and presentation.

The Mac-n-Cheese, the best of the sides, was made with shell pasta and had a very creamy cheese sauce with a slight peppery edge. It was served in a chafing dish and broiled to a lovely, appetizing browned crust on top.

The Baked Beans were fairly typical, but served with a big spear of okra garnishing the dish.

The Cole Slaw was a fresh, coarse cut, creamy style version with a very distinct spice mix featuring garlic.

The Potato Salad was a tangier than most cream style offering.

Oh yeah, they had some sauces there too. I guess I should talk about those since that may be the one thing I’m actually qualified to discuss. Slows has five different table sauces.

The Sweet Slows is described on the menu as a “Kansas City style sauce”. I didn’t notice any strong similarities to the KC sauces I’ve had. It was a good sauce; thick and smooth, with a pleasant balance of sweet and savory. There was a distinct onion flavor which I enjoyed.

They’ve wisely avoided making the Slows Spicy just a hotter version of the sweet. This was not a sweat producing hot sauce by any means. There was just enough heat to compliment the flavor of the meat without overpowering it. It had a nice bite and a more savory than sweet taste with a strong presence of cayenne flavor.

The Mustard sauce was different from any version I’ve ever had. This seemed to be made with a brown mustard rather than yellow. There were also jalapenos, and onions in there, making it slightly sweet with medium heat and a very complex spice mixture

Slows is smart enough to include a North Carolina Vinegar sauce on the table. This was a classic version; water thin, bright red/orange from a simple mixture of vinegar, red pepper mash, and a pinch of salt. They may have thrown in a little sugar to make it more palatable to the locals. Excellent with the Pulled Pork.

The last sauce seems to be following a trend I’ve noticed in the sauce biz, an Apple Barbecue Sauce! This was the sweetest sauce on the table, although not too sweet. It was a very clean sweetness, not that high fructose corn syrup, sticky sweetness. A hint of cinnamon gave this sauce some nice character.

Overall, the food was excellent! Slows marks an overdue return to Detroit of good ‘Que. The last place we liked, Memphis Smoke (oddly enough, on Main Street in Royal Oak) was taken over by new owners about five years back. The last time we ate there, I took one bite of the brisket and called the waiter over.

“So, when did you change owners?” I asked.

Instead of denying it, he replied, “About three months ago.”

“So, how are they smoking the Brisket these days?”

“Oh, they slow simmer it in a beef base for about three hours and then finish it on the grill,” he said without a hint of shame or remorse.

"Wow, I didn't realize my Grandmother had gotten a job in your kitchen."

The waiter didn't get the joke and walked away. We choked down our meal and never returned.

We’ve made do with an occasional stop at a Red, Hot, & Blue franchise, but up until the arrival of Slows this town was seriously Barbecue deprived for a good few years. In fact, the locals know how sorely lacking they’ve been in the ‘Que arena. They have welcomed Slows in massive numbers. We waited almost an hour for a table. Folks who walked in after us were told the wait would be two to two and a half hours. And most of them stayed and waited!

For those considering a meal at Slows, you should know it is as much bar as it is restaurant, with a young, trendy clientele that appreciates a very hectic, noisy ambience. At present, Slows does not do carry-out. So, if you want to try this stuff, you’ll have to endure the decibel level.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s worth it!

Buddy
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/16 18:17:59 (permalink)
Do you mean I have to put on my scary don't-mess-with-the-Diva face and head to Detroit to get some decent Que????? Thanks for including the actual address in this forum, so I can find it for myself. I like macaroni & cheese but hope the okra was only a garnish, not an ingredient in the baked beans. Okra should be sliced & dipped in cornmeal then fried or not seen IMHO.

Maybe a daytime run...

Alice
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/17 01:02:45 (permalink)
Alice,

The okra was present only as a garnish. And yet, it was so much more. I think it had been brined or stewed, infusing it with some very good above and beyond okra flavor. Close your eyes and grit your teeth and give it a try. Kind of like the worm in the bottom of the tequila bottle.

As for your "scary don't-mess-with-the-Diva face", I'm thinking it won't be necessary. There were lots of happy suburbanites milling about, with no sign of any thugs or punks anywhere in the neighborhood.

If you go; the Pulled Pork was very good, but I'm pushing the Brisket--outstanding! In fact, I just checked their menu; they've got a "Big Three" combo plate-Pulled Pork, Pulled Chicken (highly recommended by someone waiting in line next to us), and Sliced Brisket. Comes with two sides to boot!

Lemme know what you think,

Buddy

P.S. A review of Sunday, June 11th's Detroit restaurant will be forthcoming. We're working up in Milwaukee all day Friday and Saturday; and Sunday is Father's Day. I'm a little busy, but I'll get it out there. Also reviews of the Milwaukee restaurants (we made it to Sobelman's (WOW) Friday and we're weighing our options for Saturday.

B.
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/18 01:51:56 (permalink)
Nope, fried okra or not at all... Shudder... Nasty slimy stuff gumming up perfectly nice vegetable soup. (go ahead Alice, tell us how you REALLY feel about it!) Also, I might not need the scary face for the restaurant itself, but I might for the drive there.

I tried out a new restaurant here in Ypsilanti today. It is called Brother's BBQ. No smoke aroma greeted me upon arrival, so I was already disappointed. Then I tried to get the BBQ chicken plate and was told they were out. BUT the day was not lost. I had some excellent fried chicken, lightly battered and fried just for me. It really tasted homemade with just a light flour and salt & pepper coating and fresh out of the fryer 15 minutes after ordering. The chicken was on the small side, but those are more tender when fried.
The cole slaw had a light dressing, possibly with cream rather than mayo, very refreshing on the first hot Saturday in June. Grilled French bread was tasty and a large helping of average but piping hot steak fries made up the meal. $6.99 for the 4 piece meal and a buck for a coke. Not too shabby.

They gave me a side of their BBQ sauce, and I think I'm glad I got the fried chicken. It was sweet and had lots of clove and cinnamon, more like a thin Chineese sweet and sour sauce than BBQ sauce in my world view. Even had that pinkish red color.

I am just willing to give them that they smoke their meats somewhere else because the restaurant was small, but didn't get a chance to ask because the lady who took my order left, and the other girl left on a delivery.

Can't wait to hear your latst adventures! Happy Father's Day to you and Daddy Roadhouse!

Alice
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/18 17:06:07 (permalink)
Thanks from both Dad and me on the Father's day wishes, Alice!

You know, it's funny about people's perceptions and expectations when encountering a restaurant with the letters "BBQ" as part of the joint's name. A reasonable person like you or myself, would expect some kind of smoked meat to be predominant on the menu.

Around certain parts of Chicago, the letters "BBQ" could mean anything from grilled Italian Sausages (Al's Italian Beef and BBQ, where we visited on the GCIBT, for instance), to deep fried catfish or chicken (As is the case at many of our city's south side neighborhood shacks), with the only connection to "BBQ" (thin as it may be) being the fact that they put "BBQ" sauce on everything that comes out of the kitchen.

Frequently, as was the case in your experience at Brother's BBQ, the worst part of the meal was the fact that this place might be misnamed. I'm not sure why restaurateurs insist on using the term "BBQ", "Bar-B-Q", "Barbecue", or any of the other handful of variations, when they do not in fact serve Barbecue.

As you said, you had a perfectly good fried chicken dinner for a very reasonable price; why isn't that good enough? Why hide behind those three little letters when you could just as easily bill yourself as a tasty fried chicken shack.

Sorry for the rambling. I'm glad you enjoyed your chicken. I hope you get back to check on the presence of actual Barbecue, I hope they have plenty of it, and mostly, I hope it is the real thing. We all have so many disappointments in life; bad or fake Barbecue should not be counted among our Earthly woes.

Thanks again for the Father's Day wishes. You were actually the first! I won't see my kids till we all meet at Mom & Dad's house around 5:00 CDST this evening. Hopefully they'll remember why we're all getting together and say something nice.

Buddy

P.S. I'll finish up my Detroit report on Monday, with succeeding logs on our outstanding Milwaukee experiences (Thanks MilwFoodlovers) on Tuesday and Wednesday. Then it's back to the Twin Cities for the second of our three trips there. A full schedule will appear here on Tuesday.

B.
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/19 12:58:00 (permalink)
Sunday, June 11, 2006
After last night’s climactic dinner at Slows, I wasn’t sure how we’d follow up tonight. I had called Alice, the pcdiva, and tentatively arranged to meet her again for dinner on our way out of town. I figured we could stop somewhere in Ann Arbor, grab a bite and get on the road. I left the decision up to her as to where we’d eat. I knew she had a favorite Mexican place in town and I thought that might be a good way to say goodbye to Detroit.

When I picked up Dad at the store where he was working, he was very stressed. He had talked to Mom earlier in the day and she had indicated she was having some health problems. Apparently, she had recently started taking some new meds and, either the dosage was wrong, or it may have been the wrong type of prescription altogether. Dad wanted to get home as quickly as possible. I called Alice and passed on our regrets.

So now, we were on our own. We needed something fast, but not fast food. Sometimes fate takes some funny twists. As it turns out, our original destination from last night, Comet Burger, 207 S. Main Street, Royal Oak, (248) 541-8888 was more or less on our way out of town.

Comet Burger is an archetypal 50s urban diner; long and narrow with an open grill and quilted stainless steel panels along one wall, a Formica counter with vinyl covered stools running the length of the store, and a row of small tables-for-two along the wall opposite the grill. I’m going to guess that Comet Burger hasn’t actually been around since the 50s, but they’ve done an excellent job of creating the illusion that it’s been there for a long, long time. Unfortunately, its appearance was the best thing about Comet Burger.

As we entered, the definitive, almost visible aroma of griddled burgers and onions wafted into our nostrils like we were living in a Hannah-Barbera cartoon, lifting us up off our feet and planting us on a pair of stools directly in front of the well seasoned grill. So far everything looked promising.

We glanced briefly at the menu, already knowing we were going to get burgers. There were two burger options; the Comet Burger, described as a “classic old fashioned slider hamburger”, and the Monster Hamburger; “Just like a Comet Burger, Only Bigger”. The menu claimed that the Monster Hamburger was 1/3 of a pound, pre-cooked weight. We decided to go with the Monster Hamburger based on price. The Comet Burger, described as a slider, was $1.50, while the Monster Hamburger was $3.50. I calculated that you’d need to get at least three Comet Burgers in order to equal one Monster Hamburger, bringing the cost to $4.50. I know it’s all very silly, but I was tired and hungry and I just wanted a big damn burger doggone it!

The grill cook was a youngish kid who handled himself with confidence and flair. If only he knew how poorly he was preparing our burgers, he might have showed a bit more humility. He was one of those guys who like to slap the meat and press it down while it’s on the griddle, squeezing out all the juices, leaving you with a dry cardboard patty. He also liked to poke the patty really hard with the corner of the spatula, creating a loud metallic ping on the surface of the griddle. If only all that showmanship added up to a better burger it would have been worth it.

As the meat fried and dried, he threw a few handfuls of raw onion on the griddle, generating a small glimmer of hope for the future of these rapidly shrinking discs of ground beef. Sadly, he even screwed that up, scraping away and discarding almost half of what he had originally tossed on to the griddle as he manhandled our food. The worst part was that the onion that got scraped into the grease trough was the best, most caramelized bits. He probably figured they were burnt and not worth serving. The boy’s got a bright future in tax accounting or bagging groceries, but he must not be allowed to work a grill ever again.

Finally, as the burgers and onions neared completion, he tossed the buns on top of the meat, grabbed a squirt bottle full of water and shot a stream of water onto the hot griddle creating a huge cloud of steam. He covered the burgers, onions, buns, and steam cloud with a large lid, containing the steam in an effort to warm the buns. What he ended up doing was turning the buns into a soggy mess.

By the time the burger was on the bun and plated, it had shrunk to such a point that I couldn’t help thinking about that 80s Wendy’s commercial with Clara Peller.

Lady #1: “Oh, what a big fluffy bun.”

Lady #2: “Yes it is a big fluffy bun isn’t it.”

Lady #1: “Oh my yes, very fluffy.”

Clara Peller: “Where’s the beef?!?”

Now here’s the kicker: after all that mishandling of our food, what could have been a third or even fourth rate burger, believe it or not, was only a second rate burger! Truly, this was a testament to the quality of the beef being used at Comet Burger. I mean, if it could stand up to that kind of abuse, it must have been a pretty good piece of meat before spatula boy got his hands on it.

There's also the possibility that the authentic decor and ambience were so powerful that they altered our perceptions of the food, making us believe it was actually better than it tasted.

We also had an order of very average fries, made slightly better by the fact that they were, at least, very fresh and very hot.

The best part of my meal was the double chocolate shake, made with Edy’s ice cream, served in an old fashioned shake glass, with a big glob of pretty good whipped cream on top, and the excess shake served alongside in a stainless steel blender cup. Of course, even that had its disappointing moment. I got up at the end of the meal to wash up in the men’s room, and while I was gone the waitress grabbed the 2/3 empty glass, thinking I had left, and tossed it.

So here’s the wrap up: If you’ve been out doing some serious drinking at one of Main Street’s other fine establishments, and you need some sustenance before you get in your car to drive home (not that I’m recommending that course of action), you could do worse than Comet Burger. If on the other hand you’re stone cold sober and you want a really good burger, go down the street to Albano’s Café and get the Crepes a la Parisien. It may not be a burger, but you’ll be way better off.

Buddy

P.S. We think Mom’s prescription problems have been diagnosed and we’re taking the proper course of action to correct the situation. While she’s not 100%, she is better than she was last Sunday night. In fact she had some genuine moments of happiness as we all got together for Father's Day.

B.
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/19 23:48:14 (permalink)
So glad you Mom is doing better. Those prescriptions are tricky things sometimes.

I now have a new favorite Mexican restaurant in Ypsi. Los Amigos on Michigan Ave. (Business U.S. 12) First Mexican restaurant I've found in MI that makes my favorite Guacamole salad. You'd think that something so simple as a scoop of guacamole on shredded lettuce with a tomato slice would be easy to find, but it's not. I guess it's something peculiar to the people who run Mexican restaurants in the Southern U.S. Then I had a beautiful plate with a chalupa, chicken burrito and chicken enchilada with a golden colored sauce that was spiced perfectly. I know it was slightly Americanized, but it tasted right to me. The balance of spices was just what I liked and it was fresh and had big chunks of chicken.
I was just sorry that my dinner was so filling that I couldn't try anything else tonight. Guess I'll just have to go back.


Alice (well anyone keeping up with this thread is learning all about Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor as well as all of the places you are trying )
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/20 00:49:48 (permalink)
Alice,

I used to make a very complex guacamole recipe that everyone complimented me on. In fact one of my Mexican friends said it was better than the guacamole his mom made. I was awful darn proud of that "guac". I made it for every picnic, barbecue, and family gathering. I was the king of guacamole!

Then one evening, while dining at one of Des Plaines' many Mexican restaurants, I tried the house guacamole and discovered it was much better than my own. I mean A LOT better! I kept tasting it, trying to put my finger on what made this guac so much better than my own.

Finally, I realized that the sheer simplicity of this recipe; the fact that it allowed the natural, rich flavors and buttery texture of the avocado to dominate, was what set it apart. I threw out my recipe and started over with just a few basic ingredients, Avocado, finely minced onion, coarsely diced tomato, maybe a few cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime juice and some salt and pepper, none of which is allowed to overwhelm the avocado.

I still get compliments and I'm much happier with the end result. The lesson for me was to keep it simple and to rely on the naturally good flavors of my basic ingredients.

We look forward to our next trip your way so we can join you for dinner at Los Amigos. Any chance we can get a Margarita there?

Buddy
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/20 15:38:42 (permalink)
Friday, June 16, 2006
This was the weekend of MilwFoodlovers. MFL was kind enough, and concerned enough for our culinary well-being, that he sent us a list of his favorite Milwaukee Roadfood joints (Page 5 of this thread, nine posts up from the bottom). We managed to get to two of his picks, and I’ve got to tell you, if the rest are as good as the first two we tried, there is no one on this site who is more aptly named than MilwFoodlovers!

Tonight we made it (just barely) over to Sobelman’s, 1900 W. St. Paul Avenue, Milwaukee, (414) 931-1919. I say “just barely” because the Wisconsin D.O.T. has been kind enough to dig up the spaghetti bowl where I-94, I-794, and I-43 all split off in different directions. In the process they have also closed off several adjacent bridges and surface streets that are crucial to easy access to Sobelman’s. There are detour signs, but the most critical one is half hidden inside a bus stop shelter, causing us to go in a big circle to get back to where we missed the turn in the first place.

Nevertheless, we did stumble our way down to St. Paul Avenue, a highly industrialized area and a surprising locale for Sobelman’s. Amid the well worn warehouses and factories lies this out of place oasis of tranquility, the beautifully restored and maintained Schlitz tavern that houses Sobelman’s. As we walked from the car to the front door, the sidewalk was loaded with outdoor diners, sitting at tiny tables, crammed into a very small space. We weaved through the crowd, staring at their plates, getting a glimpse of the wonderful food that waited within. In particular, I noticed a basket of onion rings that made my mind reel. These were giant, thick rings, the size and color of copper bracelets. I made a mental note to order the rings as we entered and found a table.

I ordered one of Sobelman’s famous Bloody Marys. Dad, as the designated driver, ordered a Virgin Mary. When the drinks arrived, it became obvious why they are so famous. Every pickled vegetable known to man was attached, via a complex toothpick lattice, to the Mason jar mugs containing the drinks. Along with the obligatory celery stalk, there was an asparagus spear, a cherry tomato, pearl onion, mushroom, peeled shrimp, sausage, dill pickle, green olives, a lemon wedge for squeezing into the drink, and a surprisingly good Brussels sprout (For a remarkably lifelike and accurate picture of the Bloody Mary, go to MilwFoodlovers’ post, like I said, on page 5 of this thread, nine posts north of the bottom of the page). The over the top garnish may be a gimmick, but it sure is a tasty gimmick! And the Bloody Mary was pretty good too. My full strength Bloody Mary was served with a beer chaser. Our waitress explained that this was the custom in Milwaukee. I’m not a big beer drinker, but I didn’t argue.

I ordered the one of a kind Sobelman’s Burger. This was a 1/3 pound, high quality patty served with three kinds of gooey, melted cheese, bacon, mild chiles, onions and pickles. There may have been some other ingredients in there but it was a bit too dark to tell. All the ingredients are stacked up on a beautiful brioche-like bun with a shiny egg wash baked on to (Got to phttp://www.milwaukeesbestburgers.com/ for a tantalizing and detailed peek at the burger). The real proof of Sobelman’s hamburger quality is the fact that, even with all that stuff piled up on top of it, the burger still tasted like a burger. All that beefy goodness dominated, allowing the other condimental components to compliment its flavor.

This was a burger that would not be “wolfed” down. It required time and patience. This burger said, “Savor me while you can, because this remarkable eating experience will be over all too soon, and you wouldn’t want to rush through all the wonderful flavors I have to offer.” At least that’s what I think it said. It was kind of noisy in there and I might have misheard.

Dad had the fried fish sandwich (they have a Friday Fish Fry platter, but Dad wasn’t that hungry) that looked pretty good. I didn’t even think to taste it; I was so focused on the amazing Sobelman’s Burger. About halfway through dinner, I realized I had forgotten to order the Onion Rings. Dang! That’s okay; between the Bloody Mary’s tower of garnishes and the sandwiches, we had plenty to eat. Anyway, this just gives us one more excuse to come back.

There was one other really neat thing; mounted perpendicular to the ceiling just over the kitchen door, is a large computer screen showing streaming live video of the kitchen. You can watch your order come into the kitchen and see the entire process of your burger cooking on the griddle. By golly, you know that kitchen is clean!

Tomorrow we try another one of MilwFoodlovers’ suggestions and hit another winner!

Buddy
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/20 16:16:44 (permalink)
I'll finish up my report on Milwaukee tomorrow before we leave for Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Below is that schedule.

Thursday June 22, 2006, Noon-7:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 3945 W. 50th St.; Edina
BuddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 6228 Penn Ave. South; Richfield

Friday June 23, 2006, Noon-7:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 1151 E. Wayzata Blvd.; Wayzata
BuddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 1450 W. Lake St.; Minneapolis

Saturday June 24, 2006, Noon-6:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 3455 Vicksburg Ln.; Plymouth
BuddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 11400 Hwy. 7; Minnetonka

Sunday June 25, 2006, Noon-6:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 5159 W. 98th St.; Bloomington
BuddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 2128 Ford Pkwy.; St. Paul

Hope we'll see a few Roadfooders on this trip; we know you're out there.

Buddy
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/21 16:04:13 (permalink)
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Giddy over last night’s brilliant burger and Bloody Mary at Sobelman’s we eagerly consulted MilwFoodlovers’ list for tonight’s options. There was Asian, European, and Soul Food to choose from. As any of you loyal readers know, we are not at all afraid of Asian cuisine. We have been to a Thai, Vietnamese, or Szechuan place in almost every city we’ve visited. Tonight though, I just wasn’t in the mood for anything from the east. So, Soul Food or European; what would it be.

I looked at the print out and pictures from the Roadfood review of Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant, and while the fried perch and turnip bottoms looked pretty darn good, I didn’t feel like eating off of partitioned, Styrofoam plates tonight. So, European it will be! Now we needed to narrow it down one more time; Wegner’s for German or Restaurant Balkan’s for Serbian. Suddenly I got a craving for Kassler Ripchen, sauerkraut, and fried potatoes. So, next stop, Wegner’s. Ah, but we’ve been burned so many times before by restaurants closed for vacation, remodeling, or just plain out of business. Thank goodness for Dad’s trusty cell phone.

We called the number and sure enough, they were closed for remodeling. We would not let negativity creep into the evening. We immediately called Restaurant Balkan’s and, hallelujah, amen, they are open for biz. Looking at the map, I had a rough idea where they were located, but some detailed directions from the proprietor would be very helpful. The ensuing conversation cannot be reproduced here. Not for a lack of propriety, but for a lack of clarity. The owners are apparently either very new to this country or very stubborn in hanging onto their native tongue. Either way, it makes no difference to me as long as the grub is good.

We could see on the map, generally where we wanted to go, so we decided to tough it out. Thanks to a combination of instinct and dumb luck, we found Restaurant Balkan’s, 7640 W. Forest Home Avenue, Greenfield, (414) 541-8280, with relative ease. We even spotted a Kopp’s Frozen Custard location along the route, thus locking in our dessert plans.

My initial impression of Restaurant Balkan’s (why the unnecessary apostrophe? They should think about selling the apostrophe to the folks at the apostrophe-less “Slows Bar-B-Q” in Detroit) was a flashback to the late lamented Dick Manhardt’s in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Like Dick’s, Restaurant Balkan’s is located in what was once a private residence. As we pulled up, we observed some happy al fresco diners relaxing on the front walk. It occurred to me that the owners of Restaurant Balkan’s have somehow managed to create a very bucolic setting amidst the confluence of two busy, noisy thoroughfares, a major shopping district, and a collection of high tension power lines, all of which amazingly become virtually silent and invisible once you are in sight of the restaurant.

We entered the front room of the house and were given a large table near the door. The air conditioning wasn’t working that night, so the burst of fresh air every time the door opened was appreciated. The dining room is light and airy and at the same time well packed with customers. The furniture, perhaps in homage to the style of cuisine, is heavy; it took all my strength to lift my chair and pull it out from the table before sitting down.

Before ordering, we were served a fresh loaf of white bread with two accompanying spreads; kajmak, a mix of butter and cream cheese, and ajvar, a pureed eggplant and red pepper “caviar” mixture. The kajmak was creamy, sweet and slightly salty; the ajvar was sharp and tangy. Both complimented the flavor of the dense bread.

We started with the Sopska Salad; toothsome chunks of cucumber, tomato, and onion, topped with finely crumbled feta cheese. As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not a big fan of cucumber, but these flavors worked very well together, minimizing the cuke and emphasizing the other three ingredients.

For dinner, we shared two entrees, the Teleca Gulas, described as “Veal Goulash” and the Karadjordjeva Snicla, otherwise known as Black George’s Schnitzel.

The Goulash was good, although a bit tough. Also, I’m thinking that maybe veal has a different definition in Serbia than it does here. This was obviously full grown steer meat with full grown steer flavor and chew. The dish wasn’t bad, mind you; it just wasn’t exactly as advertised. It was a large portion, served with a generous helping of fresh mashed potatoes.

The real star of the evening was the Karadjordjeva Snicla (the computer spellchecker just started weeping). The name of this entrée derives from the nickname of a Serbian national hero, Black George, who led an uprising against the Ottoman Turks in the 19th century. The dish is a thin pork cutlet rolled around what is described in the menu as “smoked meat” (I’m suspecting it was more pork), and kajmak. The long meat cylinder is then fried to a golden brown and served with a thin drizzle of mayonnaise running along its length. Thick, hot steak fries and sliced tomatoes surround the Snicla in a very attractive presentation. The three flavors worked wonderfully together.

The initial language barrier that we faced when seeking directions became non existent once we were face to face with the owners. They are lovely people, eager to serve and have you enjoy their native dishes. Hopefully, they will have their air conditioner fixed in time for the long hot summer.

Before getting back on the highway to go home, we stopped at the nearby Kopp’s Frozen Custard location, 7631 W. Layton Avenue, Greenfield, (414) 282-4312. I had the Grasshopper Fudge, bright green mint custard with huge chunks of fudge embedded throughout. Dad went with the Swiss Chocolate.

Without getting too deeply into this, the Kopp’s versus Ted Drewe’s debate continues within my soul. On the one hand, the actual custard at Ted Drewe’s is, in my mind superior to Kopp’s (or Leon’s for that matter). On the other hand, Kopp’s gets extra points for having a wider selection of flavors. Ted’s custard is only available in vanilla. All the extra flavors are created via the mix-ins the offer. Kopp’s has at least two regular flavors, vanilla and Swiss chocolate along with two rotating “Flavors of the Day”.

This will be an ongoing conflict that will not be easily resolved until we can find a way to sample both Ted Drewe’s out of St. Louis, and Kopp’s out of Milwaukee, fresh and side by side. I’m open to suggestions as to how we can accomplish that.

Ponder that while we travel to the Twin Cities. I’ll have more to report when we return.

Buddy
MilwFoodlovers
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/21 21:43:55 (permalink)
Nice report. I realize that you had a burger the night before but the Balkan's burger is not really related to any burger you may have had in the past. A quite large home made thin bun spread with kaymak and chopped onions is filled with a Serbian spiced patty that's outrageously delicious. The roasted pepper salad is fantastic, and if my mom made great soup it would have tasted like their veal soup. Saturday night they promise spanferkel and spit roasted lamb, neither of which we've yet tried.
Happy Trails to you, your Dad and your Mom!
Davydd
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/22 20:55:03 (permalink)
You are getting closer to my Lake Minnetonka area this time around.
quote:
Originally posted by BuddyRoadhouse

I'll finish up my report on Milwaukee tomorrow before we leave for Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota. Below is that schedule.

Thursday June 22, 2006, Noon-7:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 3945 W. 50th St.; Edina
BuddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 6228 Penn Ave. South; Richfield

Friday June 23, 2006, Noon-7:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 1151 E. Wayzata Blvd.; Wayzata
BuddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 1450 W. Lake St.; Minneapolis

Saturday June 24, 2006, Noon-6:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 3455 Vicksburg Ln.; Plymouth
BuddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 11400 Hwy. 7; Minnetonka

Sunday June 25, 2006, Noon-6:00pm
DaddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 5159 W. 98th St.; Bloomington
BuddyRoadhouse: Lund's; 2128 Ford Pkwy.; St. Paul

Hope we'll see a few Roadfooders on this trip; we know you're out there.

Buddy
pcdiva
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/22 23:11:24 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by BuddyRoadhouse

Alice,

I used to make a very complex guacamole recipe that everyone complimented me on. In fact one of my Mexican friends said it was better than the guacamole his mom made. I was awful darn proud of that "guac". I made it for every picnic, barbecue, and family gathering. I was the king of guacamole!

Then one evening, while dining at one of Des Plaines' many Mexican restaurants, I tried the house guacamole and discovered it was much better than my own. I mean A LOT better! I kept tasting it, trying to put my finger on what made this guac so much better than my own.

Finally, I realized that the sheer simplicity of this recipe; the fact that it allowed the natural, rich flavors and buttery texture of the avocado to dominate, was what set it apart. I threw out my recipe and started over with just a few basic ingredients, Avocado, finely minced onion, coarsely diced tomato, maybe a few cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime juice and some salt and pepper, none of which is allowed to overwhelm the avocado.

I still get compliments and I'm much happier with the end result. The lesson for me was to keep it simple and to rely on the naturally good flavors of my basic ingredients.

We look forward to our next trip your way so we can join you for dinner at Los Amigos. Any chance we can get a Margarita there?

Buddy


Margaritas are available. And my lunch there yesterday was just as delicious as my first dinner there. I wish I knew what was in the sauce they serve over the enchilada and burrito. I'm guessing lots of tumeric because of the color, but I didn't detect tomato. Maybe tomatillo instead. Whatever it is I like it! Could just be a spicy white sauce based on a roux.
They're open until 10 PM Su-Th and 11 PM Fr-Sa.

Maybe we can hook up when you make your Toledo run.
Davydd
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/23 20:57:05 (permalink)
Buddy,

I may make the Highway 7 Lunds tomorrow.

BTW, I just mentioned in the Driive-in thread the "Back to the 50s" classic auto show is this weekend. It might be worth a looksee. Classic cars may flood the Minnetonka Drive-in in Spring Park, my favorite Minnesota breaded pork tenderloin sandwich place. That should be an interesting nostalgia site.
abe_froeman
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/24 10:19:42 (permalink)
FYI, posting after Buddy's left to do the demos to tell him you'll come see him at the demo is pointless- he doesn't have internet access away from home. No laptop, no nuthin'. What can I say? He's a Luddite.
Davydd
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/25 11:24:59 (permalink)
Don't matter. We saw Buddy at the Country Village Lund's store. We now have more Roadhouse BBQ sauce than we know what to do with. So today it goes on our chicken dinner and I will probably experiment with the next home made breaded pork tenderloin sandwich batch. Lyon's Pub in Minneapolis serves their tenderloin with BBQ sauce.

Buddy talks faster than he types. We know where he has been and we now know where we will be going soon for BBQ. I will not divulge and will let him tell it.
BuddyRoadhouse
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/26 15:27:42 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by pcdiva

Maybe we can hook up when you make your Toledo run.
Alice,

Our Toledo trip was canceled. The sales rep who handles that market for our distributor, couldn't deliver the stores he had promised. Disappointing too; Toledo was one of our first trips when we started doing out-of-town demos back in 1995. It's been a while since we were last there.

We are currently trying to replace it with a different, Ohio based, trip. Details will be forthcoming.

Buddy
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/26 21:37:25 (permalink)
My daughter met BuddyRoadhouse in Minneapolis this weekend. She was charmed! I am looking forward to the Southwest Style sauce she is bringing when she comes home for a visit later in July. Buddy, my daughter said you have your salesmanship skills down to an art! She enjoyed the samples very much.
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RE: Roadhouse Bar-B-Que Sauce Summer 2006 Tour 2006/06/27 12:48:29 (permalink)
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
I’ll eliminate any suspense by saying right off that this trip wraps up a whole bunch better than it starts out. Our travel day was getting off to a miserable start. I was in the peak of a wretched summer cold, I was running hours later than I should have been, and we had just received word that our business partner’s mother had died this afternoon. Things were just stacked against us getting on the road in a timely manner.

We finally got rolling after 4:30 in the afternoon, just as Chicago’s highways were starting to clog up with rush hour traffic. I-90 heading northwest to Minneapolis has always been our easiest trip, taking the least amount of time to get out of the metro area. Until today. I was getting more and more depressed as we sat stalled in traffic for about 532 hours without moving more than a few inches. Or maybe that was just the post nasal drip effecting my perception of the situation.

The worst part was that I knew we were going to be extremely limited in our dinner choices as we crawled along. Based on the timing of the driving and growling in our bellies, I knew we would be stuck in some unknown void in the middle of Wisconsin, too far from a major city, and not close enough to any of the small towns we might be familiar enough with to get a decent meal. Talk about your self fulfilling prophecies. Dad decided he was getting hungry about ten minutes north of Madison. It was time to switch drivers anyway, so I looked for the next best exit.

I wish I could tell you exactly where The Pine Cone Restaurant is located. The best I can do is say that it is approximately eleven minutes north of Madison, Wisconsin; attached to a Shell gas station (or maybe it was a Mobil) across the street from a BP station. The hallucinatory state caused by my engorged sinuses, and the fact that they didn't have a carry out menu, leaves me with few other details regarding the Pine Cone’s specific place in the universe.

I walked in with low expectations and a bad attitude.

Okay, let’s take a quick break here so I can tell you upfront that you are wrong. I am not going to end this story on a triumphant high note, telling you how this deceptively simple looking café magically produced a grand gourmet feast, shattering all expectations. It was as good as an interstate gas station restaurant should have been, no more, no less. The food was edible, filling, and reasonably priced. But we will not be searching for that interstate exit again in a desperate search for the elusive Pine Cone Restaurant. The thing is, I made a commitment to you people at the beginning of this tour to write about all the places we eat in our summer travels. So, here we are. We could have done a lot better at a Culver’s and I wish I had held out a few more exits with the possibility of finding one.

Okay, back to the story.

We walked in to find a big bakery display case filled with oversize pastries designed to appeal to the highly developed sweet tooth of long distance motorists. Cream puffs piled high with (I swear I am not making this up) eight inches of swirled whipped cream stacked between two skinny little pastry shells, “elephant ears” that were so big, they were almost the size of...well you know, pecan rolls the size of a hubcap. Who knows if it tasted any good; the point made here was that big equals good.

Posted up on the wall behind the pastry case, was a marker board listing the evening’s specials. The one that particularly caught my eye was the Seafood Platter, consisting of shrimp, scallops, fish and clams; all of it deep fried. Why on Earth would anyone think it was a good idea to offer a seafood platter in south central Wisconsin? I mean, if it was walleye, or catfish, or perch I’d say, “Let’s go for it.” But what the heck kind of scallops are you going to get in a Shell station (despite their corporate logo)?

I went with the biscuits and gravy, hoping that would be a safe choice. The gravy, poured over a single split biscuit, was a bit salty, but it was thick and there was plenty of meat. Although the meat was a little too whitish, more like chicken or turkey than pork, it tasted alright.

As it turned out, these were better than the biscuits and gravy at the Dixie Truckers Home down on old Route 66. The Dixie’s B&G is awful; thin, watery gravy sorely lacking in sausage. As I have always maintained, any restaurant that has both the words “Dixie” and “Trucker” in its name had damned well better put out better biscuits and gravy than they do.

Dad chose the club sandwich and didn’t complain.

The real high point of the meal was our waitress. She was very enthusiastic and genuinely seemed to care about the quality of our food. This may have been haute cuisine in her world view. I wished she would drive eleven minutes south to Madison where she might put her talents to better use.

Okay, I guess a lot of the stuff above sounds a little snarky. I know this is Roadfood where we actually look for great restaurants in unassuming and unexpected places. And if the food, or any other part of this experience, had been any better, I would have been hurling hyperbole about this hidden gem. Unfortunately, The Pine Cone is not a hidden gem; it is merely a port in a storm, providing sustenance and not art to folks who are not all that concerned with either.

Plus, I’m still getting over that dang cold, so I’m in a lousy mood. Things will be better tomorrow.

Buddy
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