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Archive for the ‘Hot off the Grill’ Category

Coffee Pot Review – Kenosha, WI


Originally opened in the 1930s, the Coffee Pot has had different names, but remains at the original location serving the same delicious breakfast and lunch menu.

Although they can be very busy on the weekends, the table turnover seems to go quickly and within minutes you’ll be seated sipping fresh brewed coffee while pondering the lengthy and innovate menu.

We went with something new and something traditional. The “Reuben Omelet” is just what is sounds like, a fluffy three egg omelet wrapped around corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and even thousand island dressing if you want it. Or get it on the side for dipping.

I went with ham and eggs, a thick slice of ham “off the bone” ( a think in these parts), a nice little char from the grill on it, two perfectly cooked eggs over easy, crispy breakfast potatoes and house-baked toast.

The full menu offers some old favorites and new dishes at lunch time. Fresh made sandwiches, juicy burgers, crisp salads and even a veggie plate. They’re proud of their bloody marys and mimosas and have some craft beers and splits of wine on hand.

The Coffee Pot has recently added a couple of “hotel” rooms upstairs, if you’re inclined to explore the neighborhood for the weekend and have a couple great meals brought upstairs to you. Burgers in bed anyone? Yes please.


Coffee Pot Review Kenosha

Reuben Omelet

Coffee Pot Review Kenosha

Fried eggs and ham off the bone


Coffee Pot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Coffee Port Review
Coffee Port Review


Bonchon Review – Korean fried chicken in Schaumburg, IL


Bonchon Korean Chicken ReviewBonchon Review. Korean style fried chicken.  Starting in Korea in 2002, the Bonchon chain specializes in highly flavored chicken wings, strips, and fusion Korean dishes. They are presently on a tear spreading across the United States.

I had onion rings as a starter, pretty conventional prep, a heavier breading, not ultra crisp.

Moved into the strips, an order of six, which I requested “half and half”, that is half “Spicy” and half “Soy Garlic” for seasonings. There’s no “sauce on the side” option here, they come seasoned, period.

And they are delightful, super crispy, extremely flavorful, something really different, and juicy white tenders inside.

The Salmon Ball was a change for me, served chilled, it is a mix of avocado, crab, cucumber, wrapped in lightly seared salmon and topped with spicy mayo, unagi sauce and crunchy tempura bits. Very nice.

Bonchon has locations in New Jersey, California, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Texas, and Hawaii. But probably coming soon to a city near you. It’ll be worth the wait.

Table service. Casual atmosphere.  Locations and menus.

Bonchon Review

Salmon Ball.


Bonchon Review

Chicken Strips – 1/2 spicy, 1/2 soy garlic flavored





Bonchon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Bonchon Review

Bonchon Review


Da Catch Review – Rockford, IL


Da Catch Review RockfordDa Catch seems to be a franchise, I’ve seen them in other cities, but I couldn’t find any info on that. There are a few locations in Rockford, IL, which is where I bumped into them. Fried fish is the specialty of the house, the full menu is shown below.

They also feature wings, tenders, and Philly cheese steaks, as well as bulk orders on the fish and shrimp, and a few other fried sides choices.

I grabbed a catfish “meal” which comes with 3-4 fillets, french fries, and I got a side of fried okra for an additional charge.

I’m gonna guess the fish is dusted with lemon pepper, seems to be a thing around these parts.

The breading was seasoned corn meal and not overbearing. Fries were good, so was the okra. At under $10, it’s a good value. The restaurants are “simple trappings,” seems like they are more geared to drive thru/pick up service than dine in, but there are tables. There are multiple locations in Rockford.

Da Catch Review, Rockford IL

Catfish, fries and okra

Da Catch Review

Menu 1 Click to enlarge

Da Catch Review

Catch Fish & Chicken Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Da Catch Review

Da Catch Review


Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs Review – Lily Lake, IL


Pete's Famous Hot DogsLiterally in the middle of nowhere (no offense, Lily Lake, but you’re a highway intersection) – Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs may not actually be famous, but they deserve to be.

Open seven days from 7AM thru the dinner hour, this small eatery is manned by “Pete” and his daughter? Companion? Wife?

Pete is affable and the other is terribly competent cooking food to order as expeditiously as possible in terribly small confines.

And altho it will take a few minutes to get your food, (Pete tells you when he rings you up – “cheeseburger? Six minutes.” Or whatever) It’s well worth the wait. The food is fresh, hot and delicious.

Hand pattied burger, quality beef, and fresh cut fries. Too cold to eat outside the day I was there, but I could see lingering at the outdoor table on a hot summer day.

Pete’s is located at the intersections of Illinois highways 64 and 47, a few miles East of Sycamore, a few miles West of St. Charles, and a few miles North if I-88 (Reagan Memorial Tollway – the Chicago – Kansas City Expressway that stops a mere 370 miles short of Kansas City). (Oh well, maybe completing it will be part of Infrastructure Weed #4 coming up soon, probably).

Breakfast, burgers, dogs, pork chops, chicken and a few specialty entrees. Worth the drive.

Pete's Famous Hot Dogs Review

Cheeseburger and fresh cut fries


Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Breakfast menu


Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Lunch and dinner menu –  click to enlarge

Pete's Famous Hot Dogs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The Flying Fish Review – Little Rock, AR


With about a dozen locations, the Flying Fish is a fish and seafood-centric eatery, offering fried, grilled, broiled and steamed fish and seafood, as well as po-boys, gumbo, tacos, and appropriate side dishes. The full menu of the Little Rock location I visited is here. A few salads, chicken strips and a lonely hamburger round out the menu.

The Little Rock location is “counter service” – you order back by the kitchen, await your vibrating beeper to go off and then collect your food from another station. Tables at this location are at the front of the restaurant, facing President Clinton Avenue (which runs to the Clinton Presidential Library, within walking distance. This is also the “marketplace section” of downtown, so there are plenty of other distractions nearby.

I ordered the two filet catfish basket, which comes with fries and two hush puppies ($9.50). I would have liked some slaw, but lately restaurants seem to think coleslaw has some actual monetary value and charge the same price for it as they would for most any slide, and I object to that.

This location has beer, wine, frozen margaritas, and the usual soft drinks, lemonade, iced tea and coffee.

I pronounce the experience a success. I’ve been on a catfish jag lately, and this was great. Crispy, light breading, easy on the corn meal. Pretty ordinary fries, and I can take or leave hush puppies. Something else I’m not sure restaurants should charge for.

If you’re in one of the dozen cities Flying Fish has planted their flag, I recommend it. Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas only.

Flying Fish Review

Flying Fish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


The Flying Fish Review

The Flying Fish Review


Dog Haus Review – Nationwide Chain (Rockford, IL location)


The growing Dog Haus chain from the Los Angeles area says their fame and success is due to their signature dogs, sausages, and burgers. They’re served on grilled King’s Hawaiian Rolls, and a variety of craft beers are offered as well. First one opened in 2010.

My take: interesting concept, terrible execution. I visited the outlet in Rockford, IL, which is on the far eastern border of the city, off a frontage road. Open for lunch and dinner, I hit it a few minutes before noon on a weekday and was the only customer. You order at the counter (bar) and are giving a table topper number.

The menu has quite a few “specialty combinations” of toppings for their dogs and burgers. One example is the “Pineapple Express” a hot dog with bacon wrapped dog, bouillonnaise, sweet ginger glaze, pineapple, scallions, pickled jalapeños, crispy onions. There are some that are far more “complex” in their toppings. Of course you may order with your own preferences as well, but I personally think this “specialty” ones are far too sophisticated for the fast food/fast casual hot dog or burger eater.

As I was more or less “sampling” I went with a burger slider (angus beef, mayo, white american cheese, caramelized onions, but I skipped the onions) and a corn dog slider (all beef mini dog dipped in our haus made root beer batter ). A corn dog is something I’d never order anywhere, but I thought “root beer batter” sounded interesting. Turns out, only the kitchen knows it’s “root beer batter,” it’s not distinquishable as a unique taste. The corn batter is very corn ‘mealy.’

I don’t like King’s Hawaiian, either, offer an alternative. King’s are “sweet” and you’re putting that was savory innards on the sandwiches.

The burger was ordinary as well.

Final food “beef” – fries are extruded, also not a personal preference, but I know many people enjoy that style.

Despite being the only customer when I ordered, it took 20+ minutes to get the food.

Looking at the location, some are in secondary markets (like Rockford) so I assume they are franchisees, and undoubtedly some will not last.

They also have a fried chicken breast sandwich, and the line of “Impossible Foods” non meat burgers and sausage. (If you haven’t tried these, and you’re a bonafide ‘meat-a-vore’ – don’t bother, they are dreadful).

Dog Haus Review

Cross section slider corn dog and burger

Dog Haus Biergarten Rockford Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Dog Haus Review

Dog Haus Review


Vito and Nicks Pizza Review, Chicago, IL


Vito and Nicks Pizza ReviewArguably the oldest pizzeria in Chicago, Vito and Nicks started as a tavern only in the 30s, before adding pizza a few years later.

While most people in America associate “deep dish” pizza with Chicago, it didn’t really come along til a decade or more later. Til then, and even today, what we all “tavern style” pizza is the city’s favorite.

It’s a very thin “cracker” style crust, some would say “overcooked”, sliced into squares. If you’re lucky, you’ve landed at a place that is going to dot the top with fresh, mouth watering Italian sausage, like Vito and Nick’s does. It is really superb sausage. I wouldn’t mind bigger chunks, but it’s not a complaint.

I waited a long time to get there, and I planned an entire day in the city around the visit. Arrived at about 1:30P on a Saturday afternoon, and it was moderately busy, but there were still a few empty tables.

Not so by the time we left when the place was rocking and a crowd was crammed into a tiny space by the bar, waiting — overheard the waitress say it was an hour at the point – maybe 3 or 3:30.

Speaking of servers, we drew the lucky straw and get “Mary,” a veteran who greets you like you’re an old-timer, makes you feel like you’re the only customer even while she’s juggling a dozen tables. Noticing there was a set-up for a large group coming in, she suggested we get our order in pronto. Appreciated that.

Vito and Nicks Pizza Review

Large Sausage and Green Olive

I ordered a sausage and green olive, large pie, and it was perfect. I was delighted that the green olives were the kind I prefer on pizzas, I’ve heard proprietors refer to them as “Sicilian Style”, they are small, sliced, greens that have been marinating in a brine chock-a-block full of Italian style herbs. Some of them end up on the pie, of course, an additional layer of flavor.

Couldn’t finish it, of course. Ate some for dinner at night, and the rest was calling me at 3AM, and I polished it off while binging House of Cards on Netflix.

Vito and Nick’s is close to Midway Airport, a hike from downtown.  If you’re driving Route 66, it’s just a few miles south of Ogden, which is Route 66 out of the city, and it’s worth a detour.  PBR and Old Style on tap.

I shall return.

P.S. There are frozen Vito and Nick’s pizzas in area groceries. One of the best in the frozen segment.

Vito & Nick's Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Vito and Nicks Pizza Review
Vito and Nicks Pizza Review


Chilis Grill & Bar Review, Markham St, Little Rock, AR


Chilis Grill & Bar ReviewI rarely visit establishments in this segment – fast casual chains.  Just not my thing. However, I’ll go, if I’m invited and somebody is insistent.

In this case, when I asked the inviter why she chose this restaurant, she said “for the irony.”  I get it.  You probably don’t.

Anyway, this is a “new” location for Chili’s, in that they moved a bit west from a location they had occupied for decades. So in that regard, it isn’t “brand new,” personnel should be used to the menu, systems, customer service and such.

It’s too loud. If one of the restaurants goals is to get people to linger at the bar, they ain’t gonna, if they can’t carry on a conversation. It’s quite an extensive menu, offering appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers, entrees and some Tex-Mex.  I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest these types of restaurants, with this many items offered, aren’t cooking from scratch in-house.  Lots of ‘heat and eat’ going on, especially in the entree department.

There were three of us, we skipped the appetizers, tried some of their fancy pants cocktails (meh), and ordered.  One sandwich, one spicy burger, and my entree choice.

Fifteen minutes and a “manager” shows up and tells me they are out of my entree, but will get some in the following morning.  I offer to wait, but she doesn’t get it.  I’m forced to make a decision for a substitute within seconds.  I screw up and order a burger. (Incidentally, this is one of those places that doesn’t trust your judgment to order a burger at the doneness level you prefer).

Few minutes go by, the rest of the tables food arrives.  Not mine.  Tick tock tick tock.  Fifteen minutes.  Just a burger and fries, nothing special except the cost – 2-3x fast food. Fries have seasoned salt on them, which I don’t care for generally.  Cheese and bun were both cold. Not “not warmed,” but cold.  With the order confusion, I think they should have knocked something off the check. Nope.

They’ve joined the technology age in they have the tablets at the table where you can order, pay, or play games (for a fee).  The tablet completely freaked out trying to pay the bill. Saw this same unit (“Ziosk”) at another chain recently, also not working.

Despite this automation upgrade, four different servers called at our table, not out of a quest for excellent service, but rather out of confusion.

The entire experience reminded me of why I don’t like fast casual.  Also a segment which millenials are abandoning in droves, I’ve read. Expect some to fold.

Chilis Grill & Bar Review




Chili's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Chilis Grill & Bar Review
Chilis Grill & Bar Review


Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL


Petes Famous Hot Dogs ReviewI love “mom and pop” places that have survived and thrived over the years.

You’ll find a lot of these on the old, original highways of the US, like Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles, or US 61 which follows the Mississippi from New Orleans to near the Canadian border.

I’ve written a lot about these kind of places. I’ll almost always stop.

Just off the Lincoln Highway,  one of America’s earliest transcontinental routes, in Western Illinois, you’ll find Pete’s Famous Hot Dogs, an old-timey roadside stand, order at the counter, take it to go or eat at one of the dozen tables inside or outside.  I’ve driven by a dozen or more times, but it was never convenient to stop.  This trip, I made it a point to be there at meal time, and am glad I did.

There is an extensive menu of hot dogs, burgers, sandwiches and sides, with some creative combinations that change from time to time.  Example? “Salami Cajun Burger.”  Sounds intriguing, I didn’t ask, I’ll try it next time, no doubt.

No, I went with a standard cheeseburger, Pete’s even asks you how you want it done, and based on your reply, tells you how long prep will take.

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Famous your food amped up?

Medium? Four minutes.  It’s a hand-formed patty done on a flattop and is / was delicious. Juicy meat, crispy on the edges.

They do an “over the top” job on fresh cut fries.  Some of the best you’ll find.  They also offer “family sized” packs of food to go. Probably to your advantage to call ahead on those if you need them at a specific time.

Pete’s is 58 miles west of Chicago’s loop, just off I-88.  Exit number 113, and meander up (North) on Illinois 47 for a few miles to the junction of 47 and Illinois 64.   It’s less than 30 miles from my house.  I’ll do it again, hell yes.   Menus below. They make some of their own condiments and they are offered for sale.

Open 7AM – 5PM daily, breakfast til 10:30.  The restaurant is CASH ONLY.

Follow Pete’s on Facebook.


Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Cheeseburger and fries

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Burger close up


Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review

Click to enlarge


Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review


Pete's Hotdogs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL

Petes Famous Hot Dogs Review, Sycamore-Maple Park, IL


Teasia Tea and Coffees Review


Teasia Tea and Coffees ReviewAlthough only a few years old, Southern California’s “Teasia” have become known and praised for high quality teas,  coffees, and excellent customer service.

In the tea line, they specialize in K-cup products, with a variety of Oolong teas from Taiwan, and florals from around the globe.

I drink (literally) a bucket of coffee each day, from wake up to bedtime, and tho I have been able to partake in America’s favorite morning beverage on five continents, bought directly from growers, purchased green beans to roast at home, I honestly have never had coffee as superb as the line that Teasia puts out.

Concentrating on single origin,  small batch roasting, Teasia offers coffee from Africa, Asia, Central and South America. They always try their best to purchase Fair Trade beans.

The folks at Teasia sent me three different roasts to try: Guatemala Antigua, a Costa Rican, and Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. All three are medium roasts, single origin, whole bean.

Each were excellent in their own right, and I’m not sure I’d be able to pick a favorite. OK, I could, it is the Guatemalan. It’s very “bright” and you can detect the slightest hint of citrus and smoke. I ground it extra fine to use for espresso drinks, and it was the perfect.Teasia Tea and Coffees Review

I have not had Ethiopian coffee in the past. I’ve missed out. As a hot coffee, this one surprises you with a slight spice flavor and some floral. It’s very smooth, with no bitterness or acidic after taste.

In the summer, I’m all about iced coffee, nothing fancy, literally drip coffee on ice. Now that “cold brew” has come in to fashion, I can get the drink pretty much year around in a lot of outlets.

But I don’t always want to go on a hunt for it, so I’ve mastered it at home, and Teasia’s Costa Rican beans are perfect for it, and it’s so easy. Take a used liter water or soda bottle, rinse, put in a teaspoon of ground coffee for each six ounces of water. Fill it. Agitate. Place in the refrigerator overnight, at least. You can strain it into a new bottle through cheese cloth. I have a very fine mesh mini strainer, so I just pour out a cup or glass at a time. Costa Rican coffee may well be the smoothest you’ve ever had.

Teasia packs their coffee within 24 hours of their small batch roasting, and it is available in different sized airtight bags of whole beans. Their line is very competitively priced.

You can purchase teas and coffees online, directly from their Amazon store.

In the meantime, follow @teasiateas on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

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