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Lake Geneva Country Meats Review, Lake Geneva Wisconsin

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Lake Geneva Country Meats ReviewI have been known to take road trips in search of small producers of processed pork products, especially hams. Jumping off the interstates, traveling back roads, stopping in diners to inquire about local products. Never disappointed.

The other day, I had been to a “pick your own” tomato farm, had a bushel of the beautiful red fruit, stopped at a great bakery and scored a loaf of rustic bread, so I knew I needed one more thing, some bodacious bacon to make BLTs (I had lettuce in the garden at home).

And with great delight, I happened upon Lake Geneva Country Meats, on State Road 50, a few miles east of the beach in Lake Geneva, WI.

The establishment is a large store of meats butchered and processed on the spot (factory/store picture below), dozens of kinds of sausages, hams, chops, beef, as well as specialty grocery items. It’s a modern, spacious, sparkling store, with friendly and knowledgeable help.

I scored the bacon, as well as an outrageously good ham steak. Both products were nicely cured with seasoning and just the right amount ofLake Geneva Country Meats Review
smoke. The thick cut bacon had great flavor and was very meaty.

Products are a little bit on the spendy side, but I’m good with that, to get diligently prepared products that actually taste like the animal they come from. I’m a snob about that. So much of the mass produced pork product in groceries these days doesn’t resemble actual pork in either taste or texture.A real disappointment.

Lake Geneva Country Meats is open from 8 AM Monday through Saturday.

Most importantly, pay them a visit. If you can’t, follow them on FBTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+. They have regular specials with good discounts. They sell some house-made rubs and spices on their website as well and there are some good recipes.

Family owned since 1965. P.S. The char on the ham? No, I didn’t burn it. I like it that way!

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Prepared Bacon

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

 

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Reward! Ham & Eggs!!!

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

Store Front

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

State of the art plant

 

 

 

 

 

Lake Geneva Country Meats Review

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Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

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Rosie OHares ReviewBrittany (n.) a region in France; a region in England; one of the best restaurant servers in Chicagoland.

Yes, I’m going with the third meaning here. A friend and I rolled into Rosie O’Hare’s, an Irish themed eating and drinking establishment overlooking the Fox River in East Dundee, IL.

I must have driven by this place a thousand times and never given a thought to stopping by – thinking it more bar than restaurant, but my pal Tom (maker of fine streaming children’s videos, buy them here) suggested we give it a shot.

I’m glad we did. There are three elements that make or break any restaurant experience, food, ambiance, and service. We hit the trifecta at Rosie’s.

Our server, Brittany, is one of those (rare, these days) people who understand being “hospitable” is a big part of the hospitality  industry. She gave us a warm welcome like we had been lifelong customers and provided excellent service throughout our stay, with just the right amount of inquiries as to our needs during the meal.

I went with the black and blue burger, described as ½ lb of fresh  ground black Angus Beef with lettuce, tomato, and onion. It was cooked to my direction/satisfaction, and is served with chips and a handsome pickle spear. Tots or potato salad available for a small upcharge, and if you’re a regular reader, you know I’m a fiend for tots. Always.

You also know I take apart burgers on occasion to check out the components, and this hand-formed burger was flavorfulon its own and the vegetable condiments were ample and freshly cut.

The bun was bakery soft, fresh, but substantial enough to hold the toppings.

Tom went with the corned beef sandwich, which Brittany was good enough to explain when he inquired about it, that it wasn’t the usual thing with thin-sliced deli meat, but rather thick-ish slices of  brisket, with corned beef seasonings and slightly smoked.

It comes on grilled rye, with a side of horseradish, should you desire. It was spectacular. Sorry I didn’t get a pic of it.

There’s a big smoker out back, which they deftly use with frequency including their weekly Saturday nite special of prime rib.

Friday fish fry, or course, and Sunday brunch.

We sat outside, overlooking the river, tables are ample sized with large sun umbrellas, if that’s your thing.

Rounding out the menu are small plate appys, specialty burgers,salads, sandwiches, wraps and “Henny Penny Broasted” chicken.

Full bar, and extensive domestic, imported, and craft beer selections.

So, to recap? Great food, pleasant surroundings, and Brittany.

A perfect day.

Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

 

 

 

 

Rosie OHares Review East Dundee, IL

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Crack Barrel Review, Nationwide Chain

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Cracker Barrel ReviewI was reading about this couple the other day, 80 years old, who have visited every Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in the country, except one. Interesting goal.

According to Wikipedia, there are 640 outlets. The company started in 1969 with the first store located in Lebanon, TN.

The accent is on “country home cooking” and there is also a small attached general store, which sells retro home decor and food products.

They pride themselves on a number of their offerings being prepared in-house, all day long, like biscuits, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

Here’s the bottom line. I probably haven’t been in one of these in ten years. I think the prices have come down, making it a better value, but I think the quality has declined, as well.  I had chicken fried steak and eggs, and the steak tasted like it could have been from any food service supplier. I know it’s hard to get consistency, but I do like a good CFS prepared in house.

So, “it is what it is,” and I’ll see you again in ten years.

Crack Barrel Review

Chicken fried steak and eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full menu. Locations.
Cracker Barrel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Crack Barrel Review
Crack Barrel Review

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Kegels Inn Review – Milwaukee, WI

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MEXICO TRAVEL WARNING: The U.S. State Department is warning tourists going to Mexico about reports of tainted or substandard alcohol causing drinkers to become sick or pass out. Details: http://abc13.co/2v0CCKwIf you’re an occasional reader, you know that I’ve been disappointed in the past when I’ve gone to an establishment that’s had the title of “City’s favorite for XXX decades.”

Lots of those types rest on their laurels, or the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation think they “know better.” But I’ve been on a roll to NOT have that happen lately, and certainly Kegel’s Inn, Milwaukee’s oldest and premier restaurant celebrating Bavarian cuisine exceeded my expectations on every level.

We hit the door at dinner time on a Saturday nite, and the restaurant was busy, but we didn’t have to wait long. One gets the feeling that there are an awful lot of regulars (“…a place where everybody knows your name….”), but you’re only a stranger once.

The eatery is decorated like a fairly traditional German beer hall, with rough dark brown accent timbers and colorful murals.

The menu offers a strong list of appetizers, including traditional sausages, pork shank rolls, and onion rings.  There are daily soup choices, that always include chicken dumpling, French onion and one other. During my visit, the soup of the day was house-made mushroom, and it was superb, large chunks of hand cut ‘shrooms in a creamy preparation.  (Dinners include soup, salad, and bread).

The entrees run the gamut of German specialties including rouladen, goulash, sauerbraten,  hasenpfeffer and of course, wienerschnitzel. American Kegelsdishes, regional favorites, like walleyed pike, steak, fried shrimp, steaks, liver and chicken.

I opted for the schnitzel, which was superb, equal to any I’ve had in Europe, and my co-diner went with the hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew) and raved that it was “just like mom’s.”

A full range of both domestic and imported beers is available, as is a full bar.

I over ordered on the food. Took some home to enjoy the next day.

Excellent service, even at the busiest times.

Oktoberfest comes early at Kegels,  so check their calendar in early August for the exact dates.

Full dinner menu.  Friday fish fry menu.

Kegels Inn Review Milwaukee

Schnitzel Holstein Style

Kegel's Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kegels Inn Review
Kegels Inn Review

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Old Warsaw Buffet Review, Chicago, IL

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Old Warsaw Buffet Review

Old Warsaw Buffet Review

Chicago’s rich melting pot of immigrants makes for some really good eats, often time at a real value as well.

There are many, many Polish restaurants like the White Eagle, where food is served family style.  Check out Czech grub at the Czech Plaza. Whatever you like, whatever you’re curious about – Ukrainian, any kind of Chinese, Eastern European, Malay, Italian – you’re apt to find it in Chicago. Restaurants and grocers.

I was dropping off a friend at O’Hare, and we had time to kill, we stopped at Old Warsaw, a legendary Polish buffet. The spread was magnificent, and included hot and cold entrees, borscht, many salads, and desserts.  Sausages, blintzs, potato pancakes, rustic bread.

All in, around $12 per person and of course it’s all you can eat.  The restaurant has group space and has special menus on holidays at different pricing. Full bar. Distinctly Eastern European decor, which is a fun ambiance as well.

I was in Poland as it was just emerging from its decades of darkness.  This was much better food. LOL

On Harlem, just south of the Kennedy.

Old Warsaw Buffet Review

Plate #1 of many!

Old Warsaw Buffet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Old Warsaw Buffet Review

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Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review, St. Louis, MO

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Hodaks Restaurant and Bar ReviewGeez, I can count on about three fingers the times I have not been disappointed when I’ve tried a restaurant that is a perennial favorite in a given city. If it’s won “the best of” multiple times, for some reason, it won’t strike me the same way.

Much to my delight, Hodaks does not fall into that black hole, despite being voted “St. Louis Best Fried Chicken 25 Years in a Row.” I agree.

I was out looking for restaurants on the “Mother Road,” or at least the remnants of same, Route 66, the old main highway that ran from Chicago to St. Louis. In my neck of the woods, I’d had the pleasure of dining at several establishments on the Route, including Lou Mitchells, in downtown Chicago at the beginning of 66 (exceeded expectations), Del Rhea’s Chicken Basket, (meh, thanks for playing), Cozy Dog and Charlie Parkers, Springfield, IL, the Country Cup, a couple places in El Reno, OK, birthplace of the Onion Burger, the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff…..and others.

Ordinarily, fried chicken isn’t something I’d go out of my way for, tho I am fond of quality preparations. It wouldn’t be in my top 10 of things to order at a restaurant.

But here we are/were,  and it’s on Route 66, been around forever, so why not.  And besides, I needed a “good” St. Louis experience to make up for my last time there, trapped by a master con woman for three days initially, then sucker punched into spending 7 years together.

Hodaks was busy, it was Saturday lunch time, holiday weekend, but not so busy we couldn’t be seated straight away. I understand there are times when there is a substantial wait for a table.

Started with the traditional St. Louis appetizer, fried ravioli, deep-fried pasta pockets stuffed with meat and accompanied by a marinara dipping sauce.  My initial thought of just having a couple bites vanished….and did the entire plateful.  Oops.

Onto fried chicken, my choice, a pounded breast, with mashed, gravy, beans, slaw. Superb.  I mean it, superb in every aspect.

Would I go again?  You wouldn’t be able to stop me if I was passing through town. St Louis in the future will be forever two things to me, Hodak’s Chicken and Imo’s Pizza.

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Fried Ravioli

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Chicken fried chicken

Hodaks full menu.  They welcome your bulk order for events or catering, too.

Hodak's Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

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Fricks Ham Review, Missouri Processor

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Fricks Ham ReviewI love ham, and I’ve been fortunate to run into some great ones lately. Most recently the notable one was local, from All Grass Farms.

But I screwed up this week, didn’t do my research, and tho I was going to be close to a Missouri processor named Frick’s Meats, whose product I have enjoyed before, I completely spaced on it, missed an opportunity, other than to pick up a ham steak in a nearby grocer.

I had the ham once before, as a sliced half-ham product, and I liked that. I also had a Fricks product in Aldi’s braunschweiger.

Now I want more, and regularly.

The ham steak is a half inch thick, and charred up nicely in a cast iron skillet.  It’s smokey and salty with texture you’d expect from quality pork, and the flavors that remind you of a lengthy cure.

I’d buy it again, don’t usually see it in my local stores, but I’ll look again. If you can’t find Fricks in your store, they do sell a few products online.

Fricks Ham Review

Out of the package

Fricks Ham Review

5 mins each side

Fricks Ham Review

Washington, MO Factory

 

 

 

 

 

Fricks Ham Review

Fricks Ham Review

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Butcher on the Block Review – East Dundee, IL

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Butcher on the Block ReviewOpen since 2000, Butcher on the Block is a butcher and deli on West Algonquin Road in Lake in the Hills, IL.

This review isn’t about that operation tho, but rather their new food outlet at 112 Railroad Street in East Dundee, IL.

They’ve taken over the food concession offered by the city, and are housed in a restored caboose, off the street.

They offer a full menu of “Chicago-fare,”  burgers, hot dogs, Italian beef, with an emphasis on quality ingredients from local sources.

I went for the 1/3 pound burger (which is two patties) topped with smoked Gouda, plus lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. They offer a “signature sauce,” but I passed on that.

A combo, including a drink and fries or tots went for $8.95. Burger alone is $5.95. The menu touts the burgers as “grass fed sirloin,” and I have no reason to doubt the claim. It was a good burger.

I shall return.

Butcher on the Block Review

Cheeseburger and tots

Butcher on the Block Review
Butcher on the Block Review
Butcher on the Block Review

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Meijers Frozen Pizza Review – Grocery Store Brand

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Meijers Frozen Pizza ReviewMeijers is a regional hypermarket chain, with over 200 locations in the Upper Midwest, with the majority in Michigan. They claim to have invented the “supercenter” concept in 1962 (groceries and merch in one store).

For me, the stores are a little too big to navigate for a standard grocery run, but once and awhile I like to poke my head in and see if they have any new products other stores don’t, and occasionally, they do

I picked up their store label thin crust frozen pizza, “Sicilian Style” the other day, with a three cheese blend, and Italian sausage, salami, and capicola ham for toppings. This one weighs less than a pound and ran in the mid-range for frozen pizzas, at $5 +.

If you’re an occasional reader of this site, you know that I work hard to find something redeeming to say in every piece. I look for the good
at least.

Well, I’m gonna disappoint you this time. This pizza is awful, and a terrible value at the price. Skimpy on flavorless toppings, a crust that doesn’t crisp up, not enough cheese. This pie belongs in the value priced category, like Totino’s or Jack’s. Needs to be like 5/$10.

At least in my part of the Midwest, these pies are made for Meijer by Palermo, a Milwaukee brand, with plants in both Wisconsin and Chicago (pictured).

That makes sense, because the bottom end of the Palermo brand is pretty dreadful as well, but they do have some premium brands like “Screamin’ Sicilian” and “P’Mos” which are quite good. They also make “Urban Pie” and “Sasquatch.” I’ve reviewed about every line of Palermo’s here, skip to them by using the search box above.

Would I buy this again? Nope. I had three pieces and then did something I never, ever, do. Toss the rest.

This might be exactly what you’re looking for in a frozen pizza, it’s just not to my personal taste.

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the packaging

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

12 min – 450

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

Palermo Chicago Factory

 

 

 

 

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

Meijers Frozen Pizza Review

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Blue Gillys Review – Edgerton, WI

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Blue Gillys ReviewMy dad loved eating fish. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, couldn’t get enough. I brought him over to visit when I was working in Hong Kong and he was in seafood heaven. Geez, I craved a burger during that trip.

He wasn’t much of a sportsman himself, but his colleagues and employees made sure he was kept well supplied, dropping off quantities of trout, sunfish, crappies, pike and bluegills when they had good days.

Don’t think its genetic, but I’m a fish eater too, not anywhere compared to him. And here in the upper midwest, you’re likely to run into one restaurant or 200 that features a “fish fry” every Friday nite, offering you a choice of cod, walleye, perch, or shrimp, often on an AYCE basis.

I was surprised and delighted to run into a place called “Blue Gilly’s” in rural Wisconsin yesterday, a breakfast/lunch restaurant that prominently features bluegills on the menu.

I can’t imagine where they source them, I’d been under the impression for several years that “panfish” – the group of freshwater swimmers that bluegills fall into, were incapable of being farmed. So if they’re wild, they are most likely coming from pristine lakes in Northern Canada or Alaska.

So I had bluegills and eggs for breakfast. The fish is fried with a very, very light breading, and I’m no expert, but I’m gonna guess that they use rice flour for the breading. It has its own unique texture and taste, and of course, is gluten free.

The fish was delightful, and the standard serving (1/2 pound) was more than I could finish at a serving.

The restaurant is open seven days from 6:30 – 2:00PM, and features a full breakfast and lunch menu. Lotsa pancakes on hand, as well.

It’s much bigger inside than it appears outside, so even if the  parking lot would make you think its really crowded, there are probably
tables available.

If you’re traveling I-90 thru Wisconsin, the restaurant is just off exit 163, about an hour north of the Illinois border. Worth a stop.

 

Blue Gillys Review

Bluegills and eggs breakfast

Blue Gillys Review

A nice side dish in the Midwest –  LOL

Blue Gilly's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Blue Gillys Review

Blue Gillys Review

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