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Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

Greek Islands Review, Lombard, IL


Greek Islands Review LombardGreeks began arriving in Chicago around the 1840s, mostly off ocean freighters where they worked as crew and captains.

Many originally settled in an area of the West Loop, and took up jobs operating food carts, until they saved or pooled their dough to open small cafes in the area now known as “Greektown.”

Around about 1971, the “Greek Islands” opened their Greektown location, and many credit the restaurant with introducing Saganaki (which at the time, my toddler called “cheese on fire”) and gyros to American diners.

The immense popularity of the Greek Islands (they import many of their ingredients from Greece) led them to open a second location, in the Western Suburb of Lombard, IL.

We hit it up the other night, were very well fed, very well taken care of by the waitstaff, and it was a great value –  four dinners with many appetizers and drinks for less than two C notes.

The restaurant has a lengthy appetizers menu, so I went all tapas for my dinner, and ordered a number of small plates (NOT TO SHARE, JUST FOR ME! LOL).

They were all great.  House made hummus, saganaki, the Greek pork sausage Loukaniko (which is made with a hint of citrus peel) and a plate of feta and olives. Accompanied by house baked fresh bread and/or pita.  Swell.  Other entrees at the table included the whole sea bass imported from Greece (server filets at the table), and the Mahi Mahi kabob.  Both were superb. Sides that come with the entrees could be improved a bit. The menu also gives you the option of “building your own combo” with two or more mains, which is nice.

Menu.  Greektown (Chicago) businesses and event calendar.

Greek Islands Review Lombard


Greek Islands Review Lombard

The Night’s Fresh Seafood Offerings

Greek Islands Review Lombard

Greek Pork Sausage

Greek Islands Review Lombard

Feta and Olive Plate

Greek Islands Review Lombard

Downtown Exterior

Greek Islands Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Greek Islands Review





Chicken Fried Steak Recipe – Weekend Breakfasts At My House

Chicken Fried Steak Recipe

Breaded steaks, ready to fry

When I was growing up, it was etched in stone  that the family had a big Saturday breakfast together; often my dad cooked the elaborate set-up, which might have been steak and eggs, pancakes or waffles, fruit turnovers, sausage or bacon.

It got so that friends of me and my siblings wanted to do sleepovers on Friday nites just for the morning repast.  Kids were placed in charge of beating batter, folding and stuffing turnovers, and most certainly, setting, clearing and washing.

I carried this on, when I had families. It was flexible tho, depending on people’s schedules, and would be either Saturday or Sunday. It is reportedly a fond memory of my daughters.

Even now, on my own, I continue the practice, but again, it’s not locked into a day.

Today I went with trying to perfect my chicken fried steak recipe, along with eggs and a home version of poutine.

For the steak, I used the flour/eggdip/crumb method, fried until the edges start to look a bit crispy – doesn’t take long!

Fare Buzz

My crumb mixture today was a combo of panko and crushed pretzels. I’ve tried all sorts of other combos – potato chips, saltines, corn chips. Most are probably too salty for most people.

For today’s poutine, I went with tator tots, brown gravy and feta. It was over the top satisfactory.

A couple poached eggs, and an everthing bagel. Ok, the bagel was a goof-up, cause I baked bread yesterday which I intended to use, and forgot I had put it in the icebox.

It was a good breakfast, large enough for two diners. Tried to share with the cat, but he would have nothing to do with it.

Chicken fried Steak recipe

Sunday breakfast











Chicken Fried Steak Recipe


O&H Bakery Racine, WI


My mother loved Kringles.  What are they?  A Scandinavian  confectionary pastry, multiple layers of thin, flaky baked dough, in a horseshoe shape, with layers separated by a wide variety of your choice of fillings/toppings like berry, almond, chocolate and the like.  More on the origin.  My mother, or parents, really, took delight in having certain things brought in that were either rare in our city, or banned outright.  For years, margarine was illegal in Minnesota, a supposed challenge to the dairy industry, so someone would run to Michigan and get a car load.  Our maple syrup came in massive quantities of one gallon cans, annually, direct from a producer in the Northeast.

And once a year, a Greek fisherman from Florida would come by and sell natural sponges.

And such was the case with “Kringles,” as everyone in the Upper Midwest believe the best ones come from O&H, a bakery in Racine, WI.  They make large variety of flavors year round, supplemented by seasonal favorites.  My mother thought these were “Christmas-y” and someone a number of them were transported to our house in time for the holiday season from a bakery 400 miles away. My mother preferred almond ones, my father, berry flavor.

Stopped by O&H’s newest outlet the other day, they are dealing with quite a crowd this time of year, and have plenty of goods, freshly baked, and read to go.  It’s a full service bakery, they also have nearly every kind of sweet roll, cookie, and loaf bread you can imagine, and all excellent.

If you’re inclined, order your own Kringles directly from them, online.  They even have a “Kringle of the Month” club.  You’ll also find the Kringles available at many Upper Midwest groceries.


O&H Bakery Review Kringles








O&H Bakery


Pub 72 Review, Gilberts, IL


I’ve been on a mission to have weekend breakfasts at rural locations in Illinois, and today we hit the Pub 72 Bar & Grill in Gilberts, IL. The “72” is after the number of the highway, and if memory serves me, is a rather new name. Not sure if the change also represented a change in ownership.

The place has a menu with “something for everything” whether you’re in the mood for plate dinners, sandwiches, appetizers, pizza, or adult beverage drink specials.

They serve a VERY economical breakfast (beginning at $2.99) on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 AM.

This is one of those joints were seemingly every employee took a course in what being in the hospitality business truly means. You’re almost always greeted by the owner when you walk in, a guy who doesn’t think so much of himself that it would be beneath him to walk around, refill coffees, inquire to customers satisfaction, and be observant enough to notice patrons that need attention.  Superb. Rare qualities in most smaller places these days.

Serving help was equally affable, smiles all around, diligent order taking, great follow-up.  By 9:30, the place was pretty busy with Sunday morning diners.

I had ham steak and eggs, great piece of ham with a nice grill char on it, just the way I like it.  And a slice of Texas toast. As is the fashion at small diners in Illinois, a bowl of butter pats grazes each table.  Eggs cooked precisely as ordered.

Hash browns are above average too.

I’ll be back.  You should check them out if you live in the area, or are tooling down I-90 some day.


Pub 72 Bar & Grill review

              Ham, Eggs, Texas Toast



Pub 72 Review


Holi Cannoli Review – Elkhorn, WI


Holi Cannoli ReviewSeems like lately I’ve been hitting “out of the way” pizza places like this one,  on US Highway 12, 6.5 miles north of Elkhorn, WI and the junction of 12 and I-43.   It’s about a 15 minute drive from the popular Lake Geneva recreation area in Southern Wisconsin.

I’ve driven by this place many times, when I’ve been out on my ‘touring America’ expeditions. My mistake for not stopping earlier.

US 12 is one of my favorite drives, running from the Pacific Ocean to Detroit. Starting in the West, you’ll leave the coast from Aberdeen, where I’ve had a great Salvadorean meal, and plenty of Washington oysters nearby.

You’ll wing your way through Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas, and Minnesota before rolling into Western Wisconsin. When you finally arrive at Elkhorn, you’d do well to time your drive to hit opening hours (from 5PM, Mon, Wed, and Thurs, and 4PM Fri, Sat, and Sun). Closed on Tuesdays.

Then menu (pictured below) features Italian appetizers and entrees, pizza, pasta, salads and more.  The paper thin crust pizzas are fired in a wood/coal oven, and emerge quickly with a nice char on the crust.

Specialty pies lean towards ‘gourmet’, with ultra fresh ingredients and combinations; we went for one with arugula, prosciutto, and shaved parmesan. We also shared the “Holi Cannoli” which features a rich topping for four cheeses.

Started the meal with the very generous antipasto plate, featuring Italian meats, cheese, olives, peppers, and salad.  Complimentary flat bread, foccacia and warm marinara grace every table.

You know I like thin crust, and this one is the epitome of thin.  Almost like matzoh. It provides for a very nice crispness, and the ultra fresh toppings make each pie seem light and refreshing, instead of feeling like an anvil in your tummy.  Lettuce isn’t something I would usually consider on a pie, but I’m sure glad I tried this one.  I’ll be back.

The restaurant was nearly empty when we filed in at 5 PM on a Friday, but within 30 minutes, it was SRO.  Despite the crowd, service was fast and professional, and the proprietors stopped by each table once or twice during the meal.  Nice touch.  They seemed willing and happy to accommodate most any request. Pizzas are one size only and will feed several comfortably.  I wish they had a personal sized pie, and I’d be inclined to ‘over-order’ and try the pastas, salads, and such.

If you’re motoring across Wisconsin, or are out for a drive from Madison, Milwaukee, or Chicago, hit Holi Cannoli, at least once!  Beer, wine and full bar available.

Holi Cannoli Revie

Arugula, prosciutto, parm pie

Holi Cannoli Revie

Antipasto Plate

Holi Cannoli Revie

Holi Cannoli Revie

Holi Cannoli Revie

Holi Cannoli Review

Holi Cannoli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Panera Breakfast Sandwich Review


20150817_090218Panera was founded in St. Louis, MO, where it operated (and still does in that area) at St. Louis Bread Company. The 1800 store chain is now owned by Au Bon Pain, which no longer operates Au Bon Pain (I liked those, for sure).

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a Panera before, thought I’ve had some of their sandwiches brought to me, and beyond the bread, they weren’t very impressive (not high quality ingredients or quantities of same).

Today I was looking for a new quick breakfast option, and did happen into Panera, where I ordered an Asiago Bacon Egg Cheese “pannini-ized” bagel sandwich, and a large coffee, which set me back the devilish amount of $6.66. No kidding.

The sandwich was prepared while I waited (except I don’t think the eggs were), it was hot, filling, and tasty.  Except for the cost, I might be a regular breakfast customer when I am out and about.

I found the store layout a mite confusing, there were four registers and two pick-up stations, I got sent from one to another, although there is no signage, some must be dedicated to one use or another;  they give you one of those vibrating hockey pucks to tell you when your order is ready.

Find one near you. Menu.

Panera Sandwich Review



Panera Sandwich Review


Panera Breakfast Sandwich Review


Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel Melt


Better Bakery Ham and Cheese PretzelNew from Better Bakery, the Southern California specialty bread and pretzel manufacturer, is the Ham and Cheese Pretzel Melt, deli sliced ham, cheese within an enclosed pretzel roll.  Oven or microwave prep is allowed, and I went with the former, 350 for 25 minutes, from a frozen solid state.  It’s good, fast, and cheap.  Salty pretzel roll, crispy exterior, and tasty fillings.  I got mine at Wal Mart, amidst the frozen sandwich section, generally next to the pizzas.  Highly recommended.

The USDA establishment number is M44128, which leads us to a Valencia, CA address. (pictured below).
Here is a little video the company had on YouTube.

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Wrap in foil prior to oven

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Out of the oven, crispy, melty

Better Bakery Ham and Cheese Pretzel

Valencia, CA HQ



Rigazzis Review – St. Louis

Rigazzis Review St Louis

Exterior of restaurant – from their own website

I think I have only been to two “traditional Italian” restaurants in my life, where I either went “wow” or returned multiple times; one was in London, the other Hong Kong. I stopped in an Olive Garden thirty some years ago shortly after they started, haven’t been back. I imagine their food would be a lot like Rigazzi’s.

I shouldn’t have been surprised at my reaction to the restaurant, I lived in St. Louis for a year and have been back several times, and with the exception of one very memorable evening decades ago, I’ve never had a good time in St. Louis, no matter the reason for being there or the person I had in tow.  I also can’t think of a time I’ve enjoyed a meal in any city where the locals insisted a joint was a “don’t miss.”  A lot of time I believe those endorsements come from a reputation earned years ago, but get passed down due more to tradition, than anything else.  Whatever.

Rigazzi’s is the oldest restaurant (60 some years) on “the Hill,” which is the “Italian neighborhood” of St. Louis.

It was a Wednesday night, and we were seated promptly. I had perused the menu online, in advance, so I had an idea of what I wanted.   The problem wouldn’t be finding something I would enjoy, but narrowing down my choice, as the menu was long and seemingly held lots of promise.

When you’re seated, you’re presented with a half loaf of bread, a cracker basket, and butter packets.  Drink orders are taken and rather promptly filled. Service is friendly.

I started with the antipasto plate, described as “for two,” with a combination of Italian meats, vegetables, olives, some oddly misplaced triangle wedges of American cheese slices, and a dollop of blue cheese.  It was a lot of food, and a really great value for the price.  I’d go with it again, and be even more enthusiastic if they offered a choice of platters, like all meat, or just meat and cheese, and so on.

I knew I wanted my plate to be loaded with meat for the entree, so I ordered meat filled ravioli, in meat sauce, with a meatball, and  with a side of Italian sausage.

There is crumbled, unidentifiable meat in the sauce and the ravioli (pic below);  the pasta was cooked far past the point of oblivion (which seems to be a common complaint in many online reviews), meaning attempting to pick it up with a fork made the pasta pillows disintegrate; it’s a dish you end up scooping instead of stabbing.

The sauce was thick with not much unique flavor.  The meatball was in the “it’s OK” category, and the sausage was a finely ground, fairly unseasoned Italian –  I prefer mine “hot” as they are labeled from manufacturers, which doesn’t usually refer to a ‘heat from seasonings’ designation, but usually from a dose of fennel and Italian herbs.  I use a lot of fennel in my Italian dishes at home.

I didn’t get a pizza, which I had fully intended on trying.

Would I go again?  Doubtful, but I think the food and service are just right for the palates and temperaments  of most American diners.  It’d also be a good place for groups, as I imagine one could “under-order” (say, 2 entrees for every three people) and leave happy.

The restaurant’s prices are fairly modest.  They have that going for them.

On second thought, I might return for meals of bread, sauce, and sausage/meatballs, skipping the pasta.  I’d be OK with that.  But it wasn’t an experience like I had in London or Hong Kong!

Rigazzis Review St Louis

Meat ravioli, dissected


Rigazzis Review St Louis

Italian sausage

Rigazzi's on Urbanspoon
Rigazzis Review


Superior Seafood Review – New Orleans


Superior Seafood is on the St. Charles Streetcar line, a quick ride from the Quarter.  Superior’s  menu incorporates the best of local seafood,  po boys, plates, and fresh catch, with beef, chicken and pasta available for those who partake in those edibles.  It’s moderately priced ($10 – $25), is happy to toss you a loaf of Leidenheimer’s to start with, is open for lunch and dinner seven days, with brunch service Sunday mornings.

My companion is a local, as local as you can get, her family having arrived in 1750, and she had a hankering for a shrimp po-boy and said Superior was the one for her.  I ordered a half with fries, she ordered a whole one and said I’d regret my diminutive order. Which I did. She said she’d share, but she lied.

It’s one delicious sandwich, and they had outstanding coffee as well.

Classic cocktails run $8-$12, and they have a happy hour daily from 4:00 – 6:30, the highlight of which is 50 cent raw oysters, a bargain these days. Wine list is respectable and value-priced.

They do catering, including crawfish boils.

Superior Seafood Review New Orleans

Shrimp Po Boy

Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon


Superior Seafood Review


New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Recipe



Yeah, most people know dat in New Orleans, the dish “BBQ Shrimp” gots nothings to do with yer momma and dem’s  backyard grill.

At most establishments, it is a savory dish, huge whole (headless) shrimp in a bowl of butter/oil/herbs.   That’s the way you’ll find it at the New Orleans  restaurant that purportedly created the dish, Pascale’s Manale (previous review).

Some establishments insist on screwing conceptually with the recipe.  That Cajun wannabe, Emeril, serves a version that is sweet, not savory.  Not appealing.

Last trip revisiting my former home, I dined at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House (previous review),  and really liked their treatment of the dish.  A recipe card the restaurant gives out is shown below, and differences in their, and other recipes, may well be the addition of the beer and Cajun seasoning.  The difference between this recipe and the one I make at home is theirs specifies 1 C + 1 T butter. I use a pound with 1/4 C EVOO tossed in.

Serve the shrimp in bowls filled with the sauce, finish the shrimp, mop up the sauce with bread.

In any case, Bourbon House’s version is my new favorite.  It can be yours, as well, whenever you visit NOLA, or if you make it at home.  Get a nice crusty baguette to accompany the meal.  In New Orleans, most everybody gets theirs from Leidenheimer, and there isn’t another loaf in town that compares.

Make reservations for Bourbon House online, ahead of your arrival.

Bourbon House BBQ Shrimp Recipe

Bourbon House BBQ Shrimp Recipe









New Orleans BBQ Shrimp Recipe

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