Left at the Fork

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Category: Checking In At (page 1 of 2)

Checking in at: Fitger’s Brewhouse, Duluth, MN

Fitger’s is a modern microbrewery but its spiritual and physical roots go back as far as 1857. That’s when the Duluth brewery that would eventually become Fitger’s Brewing Company was opened. It moved to the current site of Fitger’s Brewhouse in 1881. Like most regional brewers of the mid-to-late 20th century, Fitger’s couldn’t compete with the brewing giants. It folded in 1972. Continue reading

Checking in at: Thirsty Pagan Brewing, Superior WI

Duluth, Minnesota is one half of what is known as the Twin Ports, the largest freshwater port in the world. The “other” port, across St. Louis Bay, where the St. Louis River meets Lake Superior, is Superior, Wisconsin, a more blue-collar city with a decidedly lower tourist profile. If you like brewpubs, stopping in to Thirsty Pagan Brewing is a great way to see, closeup, the difference between the two cities. Continue reading

Checking in at: Canal Park Brewing Company, Duluth MN

Canal Park, the entertainment district of the city of Duluth, is a little peninsula that juts out into the bay, where old waterside warehouses have been converted to restaurants, brewpubs, bars, and hotels. Canal Park Brewing is one of the most popular spots in the area, especially with those staying at the nearby, walkable hotels. Continue reading

Checking in at: Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub, Minneapolis MN

Northbound Smokehouse is not a barbecue restaurant. The idea here is that almost everything on the menu includes some element that’s been smoked in-house. There’s a dip made with smoked artichokes, poutine built on smoked cheese curds, a salad that incorporates smoked beets… as well as more traditional items like smoked fish, beef, and even some pulled pork. Continue reading

Checking in at: These Guys Brewing Company, Norwich CT

These Guys Brewing opened in Norwich in late 2015 and have since earned a reputation for their dining, an unusual accomplishment for a brewpub. We weren’t there to eat, however. We enjoyed a Gen Pop (“hazy, cloudy New England style IPA all Mosaic, easy drinking w/ delightful bitterness”) and a Queen B’s Pale Ale (” deep golden American Pale Ale brewed w/ honey malt & 3 hop varietals”), both well-made, amber-to-orange colored brews. Continue reading

Checking In at: Greasy Nick’s, New Rochelle NY

What a massive blunder! Greasy Nick’s somehow neglected to renew their liquor license! How could that have happened? Cheap beer is so intrinsic to the Greasy Nick’s experience that there’s barely a reason for the clam bar’s existence without it. We showed up early on a Friday evening and found the joint almost empty. Our waiter confirmed that business has been way down. We hear efforts to correct the situation are underway but will take some time. We’d learned about the beer situation before heading up, so we arrived with Playmate cooler in hand, loaded with Genny Cream and Budweiser (microbrews and Nick’s just don’t mix). Continue reading

Checking In at: Demolition Coffee, Petersburg VA

Demolition Coffee opened in the Old Towne section of Petersburg, Virginia in 2010. As the Historic District name suggests, this is the oldest part of Petersburg, with many buildings remaining from the 18th and 19th centuries. Today’s Old Towne features boutiques and restaurants and is populated with young adults residing in warehouses-turned-lofts. The building Demolition sits in was built in 1879 for Southern Railway Express. The owner/developer has left much of the old brick exposed, lending the coffee house that classic urban adaptive reuse vibe. Continue reading

Checking In at: Port City Brewing Co., Alexandria VA

Port City in Alexandria, Virginia served as our rest stop on a drive from Petersburg, VA to Glen Burnie, MD. It’s a brewery, not a brewpub, located along a commercial stretch of light industry. As we parked and strolled in we expected a typical, sleepy little tasting room. We were confronted by a packed, loud party of twenty-somethings. For a moment we thought we must have entered a private party (one where we could blend in and score some free beer!). In actuality, this was just a popular spot for imbibing. Port City was recently voted Best Local Brewery in a Washington City Paper poll. Continue reading

Checking In at: Trap Rock Restaurant & Brewery, Berkeley Heights NJ

On April 11th, a fermenter over-pressurized overnight and exploded, rupturing a gas line and blowing through the wall to the outside of the restaurant. Thankfully nobody was injured, and the fire department arrived in time to shut off the gas before it had a chance to ignite. Trap Rock managed to reopen for dinner that night but they have not been able to brew beer since. Repairs to the brewing system are ongoing. This was our first visit to Trap Rock since the accident, and everything seemed as it always was. Continue reading

Checking In at: Woodside Farm Creamery, Hockessin DE

The scenario: two flavors in one cup (or on one cone). The question: is it important to coordinate the flavors? That was the discussion between Sue and Bruce as we exchanged spoonfuls of our cup of lemon coconut topped with peanut butter and jelly. The lemon in the lemon coconut was gentle, evoking the light lemon flavor of lemon cake rather than the tart lemon of, say, lemonade. The jelly in the peanut butter and jelly was strawberry, a better choice than grape, even if it evokes the sandwich less accurately. Continue reading

Checking In at: Cocoa Bakery, Jersey City NJ

For some unfathomable reason we neglected to take any pictures at Cocoa Bakery, or any photos of the cake we brought to a friend’s place, but we do want to put in a good word, because Cocoa Bakery is far from your run-of-the-mill neighborhood bakery. The owner and pastry chef, Jessica Isaacs, was once head pastry chef at Nobu. Continue reading

Checking In at: Lou’s Steak Shop, Norristown PA

The Chris half of ayersian and Bruce are sitting at the counter, waiting for their cheesesteak and zep, when an elderly gentleman approaches the register. Says the woman at the register, loud enough for half the place to hear: “Next time you decide to use the ladies room, put the seat down!” It sounds meaner on the page than it really was. They obviously have a history. That’s life at Lou’s. There’s no such thing as anonymity. Unlike at that Italian chain, when you’re here, you really are treated like family! Continue reading

Checking In at: Daphne’s Diner, Robbinsville NJ

Our late breakfast at Daphne’s on Saturday was such a hit with our houseguests that we returned on Sunday, again for breakfast and even later. C’mon isn’t that one of the great things about America? Breakfast all day! Continue reading

Checking In at: Triumph Brewing Company, Princeton NJ

Triumph’s beer is pretty good but the food is best left untouched. Add to that the fact that one of us does not enjoy the culinary wasteland of Princeton, NJ and the result is we don’t visit Triumph Brewing very often. But we found ourselves in town, at the art museum, with visitors from NYC, so here we were, sitting at the bar, beers in hand, plate of sloppy, so-so nachos in front of us. Continue reading

Checking In at: Daphne’s Diner, Robbinsville NJ

We rolled into Daphne’s well into lunchtime but, of course, this is a diner, and breakfast is served all day. Both the breakfast and lunch menus arrived with long specials menus, where Daphne really stretches beyond the bounds of typical diner cuisine. Unlike at most diners, it’s OK to explore the outer regions here. Continue reading

Checking In at: Donuts Time Cafe, Hamilton NJ

For our return visit to Donuts Time we brought our friend with the inestimably discerning palate, Chris Ayers. We all agreed that these yeast-raised donuts are denser and chewier than those from other shops, and that we consider that a compliment. There’s an element of real substance to these pastries – the dough is not simply an airy vehicle for transporting sweet toppings to the mouth. We recognize others may disagree with us on the subject of light-textured donuts. Continue reading

Checking in at: Harold’s NY Deli, Edison NJ

Harold’s is our favorite New York deli, and has been for years. But we were struck during this meal by just how much corned beef and pastrami can vary at almost all good Jewish delis from visit to visit. When you go to Katz’s in New York, the counterman gives you a piece to taste when he begins to carve your sandwich. Sure, he does this because it’s tradition, and it encourages tips, but the idea is for you to decide if you like that particular piece of meat. The implication, of course, is that they vary enough to make a difference. Continue reading

Checking in at: Donuts Time Cafe, Hamilton NJ

A new donut shop opened near us, run by a woman named Rebecca who attended the Culinary Institute of America. Her tagline: “Home of handcrafted donuts.” All the donuts are of the yeast-raised variety. The filled donuts are sliced open, not injected. These are clearly superior to chain donuts, but we do have a few issues with them. The filled donuts could use a little more filling. They appear well-filled but all the filling is loaded in the front, open half of the donut. We like the cream filling, which tastes like marshmallow and is particularly light and fluffy, far superior to the greasy filling in chain donuts. Continue reading

Checking in at: Trap Rock Restaurant & Brewery, Berkeley Heights NJ

Captain Dunkin’s Scottish Ale is the polar opposite of an IPA: a little sweet, very malty, low hops, and supremely delicious on a frigid evening. One of us also tried a gin and tonic made with gin they make (season) right here. Interesting touch of rosemary. All the food was good or better; Trap Rock is becoming one of our favorite New Jersey restaurants. Continue reading

Checking in at: Villa Barone, Robbinsville NJ

New Year’s Eve Eve – why is this restaurant so packed? These must be the people (like us) whose plans involve staying home or hosting on New Year’s Eve. Continue reading

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