Left at the Fork

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Category: Checking In At (page 1 of 3)

Checking in at: Bouchard’s, Cincinnati OH

The mother and son team of Renee and Jodi (Bouchard? Miller? We see them listed online both ways) arrived in Cincinnati, and then the Findlay Market, from West Virginia, in 2007. Their deal is fresh pastas, flat breads, and sauces, as well as baked goods like pies, cookies, brownies, and cobblers. Some is available to eat on the spot, all is available to finish off at home. Continue reading

Checking in at: Gramma Debbie’s Kitchen, Cincinnati OH

Gramma Debbie has been selling her somewhat odd combination of comfort food and sort-of-health food in the Findlay Market since 2010. Some of her food is ready to eat on the spot; much of it is ready for you to cook or heat at home, like marinated chicken breasts, stuffed peppers, and turkey burgers. Continue reading

Checking in at: Braxton Brewing Co., Covington KY

Evan Rouse began brewing beer in the family garage at the age of 16, creating a product he was not yet legally permitted to consume. His skills improved, his reputation spread, he gained experience in the local microbreweries and, eventually, in 2015, he opened Braxton, using a garage theme in homage to his teenage hobby. Continue reading

Checking in at: Hofbräuhaus Newport, Newport KY

The beer at Hofbräuhaus was a real blast from the past for us. Most of you are probably too young to remember the days before microbrewing. Believe it or not, there was once a pretty simple choice for budding beer drinkers: standard American bland lagers or, if you wanted something with flavor, imports, usually from Germany. Those German beers, like Beck’s and Lowenbrau, were good, but when microbrewing became a thing in America, we all left them in the dust for the fresher local beers, brewed in hundreds of different styles. Continue reading

Checking in at: Villa Barone, Robbinsville NJ

The place was absolutely mobbed Saturday night! Never seen it this busy. Villa Barone has a tendency to be a noisy restaurant — there’s no carpeting — but when it’s filled to the max, and there are people waiting for tables, it is absolutely deafening in here. They were running a bit behind — although we had a reservation we still had to wait almost half an hour for a table. We didn’t really care much about that — we’re pretty easygoing — and what can you do if folks linger? Continue reading

Checking in at: Rhinegeist Brewery, Cincinnati OH


Cincinnati has a long history as a brewing town. In the old German-settled neighborhood known as Over-the Rhine, at the turn of the 20th century, there were 38 breweries. The largest of them was Christian Moerlein Brewing. Eventually, they would all go out of business, leaving hulking manufacturing facilities and warehouses behind. Continue reading

Checking in at: Castle Danger Brewery, Two Harbors MN

There’s actually a place called Castle Danger — it’s a community about 10 miles up the shore from Two Harbors, and that’s where the brewery was founded in 2011. When they expanded, they moved to Two Harbors. Like Bent Paddle in Duluth, you see a lot of Castle Danger available in bars and restaurants around here. Continue reading

Checking in at: Hoops Brewing, Duluth MN

Hoops Brewing just opened this summer (2017). It’s on the ground floor of the Waterfront Plaza building in Canal Park, a former 19th-century warehouse that is now primarily a hotel. Hoops’ space was most recently the Timber Lodge steak house. You have to look carefully to even notice there’s a brewpub in the building, at least from South Lake Street. You enter the brewpub proper from the hallway inside the building. Continue reading

Checking in at: Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Duluth MN

There are many brewpubs and breweries in and around Duluth but, if you judge based on how often you see the beers in area restaurants, Bent Paddle would have to be the most popular. It’s everywhere around here. A big part of that is because Bent Paddle is not a brewpub but an actual production brewery, which cans, ships, and markets their beers. The taproom is just that: a small room off the brewery, with a few tables and a short bar, where you can enjoy their fresh brews right at the brewery. Continue reading

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

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