Hot!Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs

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ScreamingChicken
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2014/05/14 20:05:22 (permalink)

Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs

Every year I go to Des Moines at the end of April for the Drake Relays and 2014 was no exception, although this year I left home a day earlier.
 
Wednesday morning, April 23
 
I got an early start because I was planning on breakfast at the M&M Cafe in Monticello, WI.

 
It's not a very big place, with room for 12 stools at the counter and 5 booths along the walls.

 
And everything's out in the open, too.

 
Oh, look.  Homemade pies.  When I was there one of the customers asked for strawberries for her waffles and the owner replied, "I think she used all of them making pie last night, but I'll check."

 
I wanted a good breakfast but not too large, as I had some driving ahead of me and didn't want to be uncomfortable.  The eggs and toast were perfectly fine but I thought the corned beef hash was outstanding, with mostly meat and potatoes and not overloaded with onions.

 
Small towns in Wisconsin usually have a few bars with outdated beer signs.  And yes, Lucky's was open at 8am.

 
Then it was back in the car, heading toward points west...
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2014/05/14 20:13:36
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/14 21:28:24 (permalink)
    After leaving Monticello I worked my way west to the small town of Potosi, which is apparently the "catfish capital" of Wisconsin.  I've also been through the "black bear capital" of Glidden so I wonder if there are any more animal capitals.

     
    My destination was the Potosi Brewing Company and National Brewery Museum, which were the reasons for extending the trip an extra day.  Mrs. Chicken doesn't care for beer and since I was traveling solo I figured it was a great opportunity to make the visit I'd been putting off for too long.
     
    I arrived before the brewery opened so I had time to check out the grounds.  A few years ago an events center was built and the conetop appears to be some kind of a shed.

     
    Reminds me of Friday nights in college.

     
    The main building and brewhouse, which now houses the museums, restaurant, and microbrewery.

     
    In the old days the beer went across the road to the bottling plant through overhead pipes.  Nowadays the building houses a winery and woodworking shop.

     
    I'm proud to say that I've tried to do my part, one sixer at a time.

     
    One of the ways money was and is raised is the sale of personalized bricks that form the walkway in the beer garden.  Ed Sedbrook bought 2.

     
    There's also a small museum devoted to the ways "good old Potosi" was moved in the old days.

     

     

     
    By this time it was after 11am and the restaurant was open.

     
    It's decorated as you might expect.

     
    And there's no shortage of neon!

     
    Remember that woodworking shop in the old bottling plant?  The owner built the restaurant bar by hand and it's fantastic!

     
    C'mon...what'd you expect?  Although I did start with a glass of the house-made Princess Potosa root beer, which was really good.

     
    The menu offered a lot of interesting choices and I finally settled on the brat burger and a cup of beer cheese soup.

     
    I would've liked the soup to have a little more worcestershire bite but it was still pretty good, and the brat burger was excellent.  Unlike the little patties sold in the stores this one checked in at 1/3 pound of well-seasoned, juicy sausage.

     
    After lunch I needed to do some walking and the brewery museum gave me the perfect venue.  Most of the displays are under glass and the lighting makes photos tough, so I put the camera away.

     
    All I can say is, what a neat place!  Most of the displays are loaned from personal collections and I saw some cans and other breweriana that I'd only read about and never thought I'd get to see in person.  Very highly recommended!
     
    After a few hours I was ready to check in at the Potosi Inn. It's basically a bar and when the current owners bought it 7 years ago they remodeled the 3 upstairs apartments and converted them to nightly/weekly rentals.

     

     

     
    I started dinner with a cup of chili very similar to my dad's, although his is a little more soupy.  It was very good and a good choice for the chilly, rainy night.

     
    Co-owner Rose was working the bar and kitchen and told me that the fried chicken is battered by hand, not taken out of a bag.  It was definitely some of the better chicken I've had and the hand-cut fries, while not super crisp, had some great starchy potato flavor.

     
    After dinner I relaxed in my room until it got dark, and then I went back to the brewery in hopes of getting a shot of the neon sign on the outside of the main building.  Unfortunately it wasn't working very well so I gave up and went back to the Inn, where I had a good night's sleep in preparation for a busy Thursday.
    #2
    mar52
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/14 21:34:38 (permalink)
    Neat!
    Cool trip and great pictures.
     
    (Your Dad started Wendy's?)
    #3
    leethebard
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/14 22:57:38 (permalink)
    Great start...but all those pictures, somehow made me thirsty...got to go get a beer!!!
    #4
    EdSails
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 01:10:09 (permalink)
    Looks like a good excuse for a days stop. Nice report!
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 08:52:53 (permalink)
    mar52

    (Your Dad started Wendy's?)
    The chili does kind of have that look, doesn't it!
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    brisketboy
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 09:04:16 (permalink)
    Thank you. I always look forward to your posts.
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 09:22:16 (permalink)
    Thursday morning, April 24
     
    I departed Potosi sometime after 8am and headed south to the Quad Cities.  I hadn't made any breakfast plans but when I passed through Dickeyville (home of the Grotto) the day before I noticed Katina's Kitchen, and as there was no way I could make it to 11 before eating I decided to check it out.

     
    The diner is has a counter side and a dining room side.

     

     
    Based on my planned QC stop I held back and picked only a half-order of biscuits and gravy with some bacon on the side.  The gravy was thick in both viscosity and amount of sausage, and didn't require any additional salt.  Good stuff!

     

     
    After leaving Dickeyville I set out on US-61 for Moline and the original location of Lagomarcino's.  Since I'm not much for sweets this was pretty much a stop for family and coworkers.

     
    It's a fairly small space and tightly packed with candy cases, a counter, and a few booths.

     

     
    On rare occasions I'll enjoy a chocolate malt but it was too early in the day so I went with a classic favorite: a chocolate phosphate, which has the flavor but not as much of the sweetness.

     
    After putting my purchases in the car I still had some time to kill so I went for a short walk in Moline's old downtown, which is undergoing a bit of renovation.  This church is visible for blocks and I learned that if you lay down on the sidewalk for a good angle the Moline police will slow down and give you a long look.

     
    Remember when it was common for jewelry stores and watchmakers to have a clock outside on the sidewalk?

     
    By now it was after 10:30 so it was time to leave Moline and head for Rock Island.
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2014/05/15 09:23:28
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    harriet1954
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 09:39:49 (permalink)
    Fantastic pictures, and, as always, ideas. I've actually never been in that part of the country before (except Route 70 straight across IN and IL into MO). Roadfood wasn't something I looked for way back then as a teenager. It's time to start making plans...
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    pnwchef
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 09:41:44 (permalink)
    Great report, I love the bar, it  looks like a lot of hard work and pride went into it. The bar stools were also made for today's arses.........looks like you ate well...........Thxs Bill
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    Davidsanders
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 09:51:42 (permalink)
    I've been to the Potosi Brewery a number of times, and they have a great burger.
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 09:55:43 (permalink)
    Thursday, April 24 (lunch)
     
    Earlier this year Ketteract posted about "Quad Cities style" pizza so my food goal for this year was to seek out and sample some.  Harris Pizza isn't the first but is one of the most well-known and for authenticity I decided to eat at the original location.  The building in the background also used to be a Harris restaurant but when the first one was remodeled in 2002 it was repurposed as a warehouse.

     
    The exterior and entryway may look 1960...

     
    ...but the dining room clearly doesn't.

     
    The main features of QC pizza are a thicker crust and loose sausage instead of slices or pieces.

     
    Despite its thickness the crust was crunchy on the bottom while the sides were softer and lighter than I expected.  I would've liked a little more fennel in the sausage but the slightly sweet sauce and cheese were very good.

     
    Kittycorner from Harris is Mulkey's Restaurant, which has apparently been around for just as long if not longer.  Does anyone know the story behind the Henny-Penny reference?  Was it some sort of franchise in the '50s and '60s?

     
    As an aside, when I was heading west on IL-92 between Moline and Rock Island I passed Mary Lee's Cafe and the sandwich board on the sidewalk mentioned chicken and waffles.  If only I'd had the time...
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2014/05/16 08:59:01
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 09:58:58 (permalink)
    harriet1954

    Fantastic pictures, and, as always, ideas. I've actually never been in that part of the country before (except Route 70 straight across IN and IL into MO). Roadfood wasn't something I looked for way back then as a teenager. It's time to start making plans...
    Thanks!
     
    I've never been to your part of the country, either.  Maybe the people behind the TV show "Wife Swap" can do something similar but based on food!
    #13
    TnTinCT
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 11:36:01 (permalink)
    Very interesting area, I love those small towns and all the roadfood opportunities!!
     
    #14
    HollyDolly
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 11:37:53 (permalink)
    Not sure on the Henny Penny.Now there is a company named Henny Penny who makes restaurant equipment.I also found a place in aUSTRALIA WITH THAT NAME THAT DOES CATERING,,,,,PLUS A POULTRY SUPPLIER(sorry caps key got stuck).Just might have to dig a little deeper.
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    ChicagoIrish
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 11:54:47 (permalink)
    Henny Penny was a pressure frying system, similar to Broasted, if I remember correctly (which seems to be less and less). So I would assume you missed out on fried chicken twice. Have been to Harris Pizza but never even noticed Mulkey's...next time I'm out that way I'll have to try and stop.
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    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 12:22:57 (permalink)
    Once again a terrific job. And that bratburger looks outstanding. I want one just like it.
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    mlm
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 13:01:51 (permalink)
    I can just imagine the look the police officers gave you! Did they speak to you or did you wave or something to show you were all right? You're a brave man to take that posture but it is a lovely picture and I do appreciate it.
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 13:45:57 (permalink)
    He slowed down and gave me a look just as I was starting to get up, and when he saw the camera he continued driving.  Perhaps it's not the first time someone's chosen that unusual angle!
     
    I'd started out a little farther back, in a vacant lot behind the sidewalk, but I didn't realize the adjacent building was being worked on until some debris came out of a window and landed a few feet away.  At that point I decided I should be a little closer.
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    joerogo
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 13:57:58 (permalink)
    ScreaminBrad, I didn't even know you were a runner, let alone hurdles!
     
    Very nice trip report....throw in a little Italian food, and it would be perfect! 
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    JRPfeff
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/15 14:21:50 (permalink)
    SC - You are our authority for all chicken matters. How did you not know of Henny Penny?

    Seems like Henny Penny, Chicken in the Rough, and the Broaster Co. were all in the same poultry niche at one time. Broasters ended up winning that battle.

    Great report, thanks for sharing.

    Jim
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/16 09:16:12 (permalink)
    Chicken authority?  I'm more of a guru: general understanding, relatively useless.
     
    Thursday, April 24 - I brake for barbecue!
     
    I like to find different routes for my annual trips so this time I decided to cross Iowa south of the I-80 corridor on highway 92.  Google Maps told me that in the vicinity of the small town of Ainsworth, about 30 minutes or so south of Iowa City on US-218, is John's Shamrock BBQ and even though I'd just eaten pizza a stop was absolutely in order.

     
    I was happy to see this.

     
    Whatever the building's original purpose was it required a fair amount of room and John's puts it to good use.

     
    I just didn't have the space for a big meal so I reluctantly passed on the sides and settled for a brisket sandwich, which had a nice beef flavor with noticeable smoke.  It was a little on the chewy side but it wasn't tough, so to me that's not a negative and I'd order it again.

     
    John also makes his own sauces (there were 2 more on the other side of the caddy) and I found that I preferred a mix of the spicy and sweet.

     
    Then it was back on the road to Des Moines.
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2014/05/16 09:17:33
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/16 10:06:32 (permalink)
    Wish you had more to say about John's Shamrock BBQ.  From its appearance, it looks like the perfect Greasehouse; a low slung shack with a gravel parking lot, sitting in the middle of farm lands, complete with grain storage in the background.  I can practically smell the hickory.
     
    Nice smoke ring on the brisket.  Sorry you weren't hungry enough to get a full meal.  Where's buffetbuster and ChiTownDiner when you need 'em?
     
    EDIT #1: BTW, seems like you may have missed the best part of John's menu.  A little interwebs research revealed they serve something called "Toad Bellies".  Lots of photos and praise for them on Yelp and urbanspoon, etc., but no one gives an actual description of what they are.  Photos depict something that looks similar to Hush Puppies, but no confirmation on that.  Any ideas?
     
    EDIT #2: I waited a whole minute and a half for an answer and couldn't stand it anymore, so I called John's Shamrock BBQ for more information.  Turns out "Toad Bellies" are sortakinda their local version of a Hush Puppy.  But where a Hush Puppy starts out in a more batter-like state, Toad Bellies begin as a sweet bread dough with a garlicky kick, deep fried into little dumplings.  John's owner describes them as their interpretation of Garlic Bread.  Dude, I don't care if you'd just finished ten pizzas; how did you not order that?

    Buddy
    post edited by BuddyRoadhouse - 2014/05/16 10:32:48
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/16 10:32:51 (permalink)
    Toad bellies?  Ya got me...I basically glossed over that part of the menu and don't even recall seeing them.
     
    I wish I'd had more in me (less, actually) at John's because I would've liked to explore the menu a little more.  When I travel alone it's great because I can do pretty much whatever I want, but having a companion or 2 along really expands the dining possibilities.
     
    If my friend Nick in Iowa City has a July 4 party this year and I'm able to attend I'll see about a return visit.  The Fourth is a Friday and I'm sure he'd let me crash on his couch for a night or 2.
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    eruby
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/16 11:05:59 (permalink)
    This report is just one gigantic smile ScreamingChicken!
     
    Excellent writing, fantastic pictures and some good memories jogged (Schmidt's, Blatz).
     
    VERY well done!!!
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/16 12:03:58 (permalink)
    Thanks!  And not only to you but to everyone else!  It was an excellent long weekend and I'm enjoying revisiting it.
     
    This'll be my longest report to date and I still have Thursday night, Friday, and Sunday to do.
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/16 12:53:56 (permalink)
    Thursday evening, April 24
     
    I made it to Des Moines late in the afternoon and had a couple of hours to unwind before getting together with friends for our traditional pizza dinner at Felix & Oscar's.  I've mentioned it here several times before but I think it's been a couple of years since I've provided any visual aids.

     
    One of our two "cheese topper" Chicago-style deep pizzas; this one had tomato sauce.

     
    And my favorite, a cheese topper with alfredo instead of tomato sauce, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives.  Sure, it's very non-traditional but it's also very good!

     

     
    That did it - I was down for the culinary count for the rest of the night!
     
     
    Friday, April 25
     
    Some of the others typically spend Friday at the track but I like to use it as an opportunity to check out some Des Moines places.  The day didn't start off very well as we attempted to order tamales from Tamales Industry, but wound up getting Travelin' Manned in a very odd way.  The restaurant was in the process of moving from its location on 2nd Avenue to the Merle Hay Mall, but the website not only still listed the old address but accepted our online order as well.  Since it was my idea I volunteered to pick them up and was quite surprised to find that the restaurant was closed, and then things got even stranger when the person who placed the order received a confirmation email some 90 minutes later!  Really, really odd...
     
    That meant that I needed to come up with an alternate plan and our hostess suggested several places including Cactus Bob's BBQ, which became my lunch destination.  It's located in a strip mall in Johnston, which is just north of Des Moines.

     
    But even though Bob's specializes in barbecue Cathy and Jeff (our hosts) both pointed out that the BPT is also pretty darn good, and since the current score was Barbecue 1, BPT 0 I opted to even things up.

     
    The difference here is that the B stands for Battered and not Breaded, and while that isn't the typical method the sandwich is still very good.  The pork was nicely seasoned and tender, and it wasn't at all greasy.  I keep forgetting to bring along a caliper to measure the thickness!

     
    Bob's also makes pit beans that have a nice smoky flavor, a decent amount of meat, and a little bit of heat.  The BPT comes with a house-made (I think) zesty mustard that really pairs well, and fries.  Although I don't think the mustard was quite as vivid as depicted here; I guess it really liked the flash.

     
    Cathy had warned me that Bob's gets busy at lunch and she wasn't kidding!  The line was almost out the door when I got there and it was longer when I left, but the operation's pretty efficient and I didn't have to wait very long to either place my order or eat.
     
    As I was leaving I turned the wrong way in the parking lot and this proved to be fortuitous as it brought me face-to-face with Van Dee's, which has been a Johnston institution since at least 1958.  If I'm correctly remembering what I was told the 5th and current owners bought it last year; the original owners had it until 1971, there was a 2nd owner for a short time, and then the 3rd and 4th owners split about 40 years.  Or something like that.  Anyhow, the bottom line is that it's been around for 55+ years.

     
    Enough to boggle any kid's mind!

     
    There are a few tables and stools but the focus is obviously on eating outside.

     
    Van Dee's (no, I will not abbreviate it to "VD's"!) is also active in the community through things like summer reading programs for kids (read some books, get some treats), partial sponsorship of an annual community bike ride, and some others I've since forgotten.  The new owners are very enthusiastic and I wish them well; this is the kind of place Johnston needs to remind it of its roots as a small town as it goes through the 21st century as a bustling, growing suburb.
     
    Dinner was kind of a last-minute deal at a local Urbandale Mexican restaurant; it was pretty good but nothing extraordinary outside of the fact that the hot and spicy dishes were actually hot and spicy!
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    eruby
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/19 07:26:35 (permalink)
    If it is possible to gain weight from reading a trip report, I did.
     
    The excellence of your report continues!!
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/19 08:34:34 (permalink)
    Saturday, April 26
     
    ...was pretty much a Roadfood-free day as most of it was spent at the Relays.  Our seats are near the high jump and the finish line.

     

     
    Fortunately concessions aren't limited to what's sold at the stadium, as the adjacent parking lot is set up for vendors.

     
    I had a corn dog for lunch but the skewers at Beattie's BBQ looked pretty good.  AFAIK there's no Beattie's restaurant in the Des Moines area and I couldn't find anything online, so my guess is that it's a catering business or perhaps a competition team.

     
    Jeff's become friends with a local restaurateur who has spam musubi on the menu and who used to sell it at the Relays, but no longer brings it because it apparently takes too much time to prepare a significant quantity.  However, just about every year he manages to convince her to bring a very small batch just for our group.

     
    After a nice afternoon at the track we all headed back to the house to wrap up the festivities with an evening cookout.
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2014/05/21 11:56:16
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Breakfast, Beer, Barbecue, BPT, Beans and Bulldogs 2014/05/20 14:21:45 (permalink)
    OK, time to wrap things up.
     
    Sunday, April 27
     
    Even though we played euchre into the wee hours I was still up and on the road by 8:30am.  I had only one stop in mind: Frank's Pizza/Club Napoli in Silvis, IL.  There's also a Frank's in Bettendorf, IA, but like my visit to Harris Pizza 3 days prior I wanted to hit the original location.

    It looks like some exterior remodeling was done at some point.
     
    The inside is pretty spartan and definitely has a '50s look to it; it reminded me of a few long-ago visits to some ethnic-type social clubs in Rockford and without windows could've easily been mistaken for a basement.

     
    Frank's pizza is very similar to Harris' with the edges being a puffy and the bottom crust crisp, but Frank's had a little less rise and a little more chew.

     
    I would've again liked a stronger fennel flavor but notwithstanding this was another good pizza with plenty of cheese and a sauce that wasn't overly sweet.

     
    If Iowa is the home of the loose meat sandwich then the Quad Cities are the home of the loose meat pizza.  I had to use either silverware or 2 hands to eat each slice as trying to eat it 1-handed would invariably result in the end drooping and spilling sausage all over.

     
    After a quick fuel stop I was back on the interminably boring stretches of I-88 and I-39 to head for home.  Thanks for riding along!
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