Riley’s 6th Street

We had eaten at Riley’s Downtown on our trip up to find a place to live. Now that we were settled it was time to try the Riley’s closer to our house.

MUCH different decor. This Riley’s is wide open, booths along the walls and tables in the center. More like a Denny’s or Perkins than the cramped space downtown. Old record albums border the walls and the restaurant has a nice bright feeling.

Service was dreadfully slow. It almost seemed as if servers waited on tables at random instead of assigned sections. I think best service would be had by sitting at the bar.

The Child went simple today and just ordered a Belgium waffle. It did come sprinkled with powdered sugar but for once she didn’t complain. She didn’t finish it but it must have been good. She ate a good half of it.

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The Wife went with an omelette. I don’t remember if she just went with a basic ham and cheese omelette or something more substantial like the Ultimate omelette. It was served with a good looking side of hash browns. I might have wanted them a little crispier if they were for me.

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Me? Oooooh. Look at this! Mardi Gras Eggs Benedict. Two English muffins, shrimp and sliced kielbasa, poached eggs. Covered in Hollandaise sauce with Cajun seasoning. It was fantastic. Only thing that could have made it better would have been andouille sausage instead of kielbasa. I also ordered a blueberry muffin for “dessert.” I had high hopes it would be like the dessert muffin I get at Perkins. It was close but without the sugar crust on top, it wasn’t quite as good.

 

We will definitely be returning for breakfast. Perhaps at the bar next time though.

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Pei’s

I mentioned before  how we’ve not been able to get good Mexican food in years. Chinese food was even worse. Everywhere around us Chinese food meant buffet. And buffet meant you  were risking your health with time-temperature abuse. I used to call the chicken on the buffet Petrified Chicken because it sat in the steam table so long. The restaurants were dirty, the service poor, the the food awful. And they were always busy.

We escaped during my daughter’s gymnastics practice for a “date” and went up the street to Pei’s. First thing I noticed was the decor. The place is old but the tables are more like an Applebee’s than what we are used to seeing. When you come in to the left is an area separated off by partitions. This is where the handful of teppanyaki tables are. To the right, behind the hostess station/cash register is an impressive looking sushi bar. Two sushi chefs were working and nearly ever bar stool was filled. Going into the main dining room there were large circle tables with lazy Susans on top. These are perfect tables for large parties. The lazy Susan works great for sharing plates. The only other time I’ve seen these types of tables was in Rome Georgia. But theirs were ancient black lacquered wood. These were a contemporary green Formica.

We went strictly Chinese, no sushi. We ordered the appetizer sampler platter. I’m disappointed in myself that I did not get a picture of it. It was impressive. Fried wontons, crab rangoons, fried shrimp, great egg rolls and pot stickers. I stopped eating egg rolls where we used to eat because they tasted so foul.

I ordered the Hot and Sour soup. Finally a good cup of hot and sour soup. The place we ate at in Murphy, it tasted like crap, literally. I was forced to start making my own because it was so hard to find any good hot and sour soup. This soup was different in that it also had shrimp and green peas. My wife is allergic to legumes so I got to take hers home for lunch the next day. Bonus!

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The Wife ordered Mu Shu Pork. I can’t tell you anything about Mu Shu Pork because I don’t eat it. She said it was really good. But she was surprised that it was served with Mexican style flour tortillas instead of the thinner Mandarin wrappers she was more accustomed to. Still excellent she said. Both of our dinners came with white steamed rice.

It was too easy to order something I knew and liked, like Mongolian beef. So I just went down the list until I found something I didn’t recognize. I ordered the Yu Shiang Pork. Mushrooms, water chestnuts, onions, and bell peppers with hot pepper pods. Lightly breaded pork. All in a garlic sauce. For the first time ever I didn’t pick the pepper pods out. I’ve always been afraid of them because I’ve been told they are raging inferno hot. They really weren’t but they were unpleasantly tough to eat. Very fibrous, like an oak tree leaf. The sauce was sweeter than I would have expected but everything was well balanced and it was good. I would order again. I was thrilled to have water chestnuts because I absolutely love them.

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Behind us one of the teppanyaki grills was having a raucous good time. We’ll have to remember that. There must have been quite the show given the cheers and applause we heard. The teppanyaki menu was cheaper than Osaka’s but to be fair the menu was much simpler.

When we were checking out I noticed the old picture hanging on the wall of a married middle aged Chinese couple. The wife looked incredibly like our server. I asked if they were the owners. “Yes, the original owners, long ago.” Looking behind the cashier I saw an elderly white haired Chinese woman rolling silverware. She would be 30-40 years older than the woman in the picture. Hmm… I said that woman looks a lot like the woman in the picture. The cashier turned around and looked and then grinned big,” that’s because that is her.” And that’s when it hit me why I struggle with going to an Asian restaurant and the hostess is a young blonde white girl and the teppanyaki chef is named Andreas. Or even going to a Mexican restaurant and the server is some white red neck. Unless I’m eating at a chain, I want a family restaurant experience! I love the Greek diner where everyone is family. Even my favorite coffee shop in Michigan, everyone who worked there was family until they needed to expand. And even then family was always present.

Being a family restaurant made me love this experience even more. We will definitely be going back, probably as regulars. I am so happy to finally have a sit down, non-buffet, Chinese restaurant I can depend on for a great meal.

 

 

Daisy’s Garage

I discovered Daisy’s first on the internet by searching for all you can eat crab legs. I didn’t find AYCE crab legs but I did find a restaurant that served crab legs. And they have mudbugs!

Parking. Is a bitch. Let’s just say it is tight and limited behind the restaurant. I didn’t feel like parking on the street. We had to circle around a few times before a spot opened up. When we got inside it was a 30 minute wait.

The ambiance is perfect. Old garage decor of course. Staff uniform seems to be jeans and a flannel shirt. Tattoos and piercings are the norm here. The place is loud and full of energy. Every table seemed to be having a great time.

We wanted to order the corn bread loaf as an appetizer but it was sold out. I’m fortunate, or unfortunate if you consider the expense, that my kid loves crab legs. She can eat a pound or two by herself. I was tempted to get the steam pot and let her have the crab legs and I eat the rest. But she wanted her own with a side of mac and cheese. The Wife ordered the Fish and Chips. We both love fried fish fillets but they need to be cod or preferably haddock. She said they were delicious.

I was here for the crawfish though. God I love crawfish. I just said give me two pounds! Truthfully I can eat four. I used to when we’d go down to Tallahassee for dinner. And under eight bucks was a steal. They could have used a little more zing but they were still good. I’ll be coming back again and again for these.

We had a GREAT experience. and will definitely be coming back.

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Mikhael’s

BREAKFAST. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I love BIG breakfasts too. The kind I can eat and not eat again until dinner. I don’t care if it’s American, English, Mexican, French, German or Korean as long as it’s BIG.

Sunday has been traditionally a family breakfast outing for us because we are not church goers. <gasp> So getting a table at 10:30-11am at one of the three choices of restaurants worked for us. I had a place in mind to hit up Sunday morning, and it was packed when we got there. At least a 30 minute wait. Mikhael’s was my fall back choice. Maybe it should have been my first choice.

Mikhael’s in tiny. But we were able to get a seat just inside by the register. This is a classic Greek family diner. I asked and everyone working that morning was related. The older ones with thick European accents. My kind of place!

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The Child ordered the kid’s pancakes with bacon. Given the damage she inflicted on her plate I’d say she enjoyed it, especially the bacon. The Wife ordered… I think it was called The Lumberjack? It came with ham, sausage, bacon, potatoes. She ordered the eggs scrambled. The highlight was three rounds of cinnamon French toast.

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I’m sick of biscuits and gravy. Just plain tired of it. I love omelettes and they have been scarce in my life the that last few years. I was so excited to see more than three choices in omelettes. I had a hard time deciding at Mikhael’s there so many good choices. I decided to go Greek and ordered the Greek Omelette, minus tomatoes. Gyro meat, feta cheese, onions. Wonderfulness. I think they call the fried potatoes  American potatoes. They were excellent. My highlight was the toast. I like rye toast. Mikhael’s rye wasn’t just rye toast it was pumpernickel rye! I also like it buttered for me. The kitchen always does a better job than I do, brushing it on when the toast is hot. Our server said she did an extra special job buttering my toast. I could feel the love.

This is going to be a regular breakfast stop that I won’t be tired of soon. And there’s lunch to explore too!

Los Compadres

We haven’t had good Mexican food since we left Michigan. You would think that in Georgia with a high Mexican population you’d be able to find good Mexican food every where. You’d be wrong. Sure, around the Atlanta area there is great Mexican food but not so in North Georgia. Strangely, all of the Mexican restaurants in the area had nearly the same menu.If you ordered by number you could use the same number everywhere you go. Our daughter HATED getting Mexican. She kicks, screams and pouts if we pull into a Mexican restaurant. And even I reached the point where I no longer wanted to eat it. So we were excited about the seemingly uncountable options for Mexican dining in Cedar Rapids.

I told The Child it was time, time to try a new Mexican restaurant. Odds were good we would find something in Cedar Rapids she would like. But we had to start with a first attempt for that to happen.  We went to Los Compadres because it was close by and we had driven by it so many times we knew where it was.

There was a line!!! A half hour wait. Sure it was Friday night but never before, at least not since I lived in Chicago, have I had to wait to be seated at a Mexican restaurant. And the wait wasn’t because this place was a rinky dink little restaurant.

Salsa and chips were quickly delivered. I deemed it good. I prefer chips that have a little salt crust on them. Freshly made even better. These were neither but still good. I liked the salsa. I’ve been tired of eating salsa that didn’t have any more personality than ketchup. And I do mean “eat.” I don’t dip, I scoop. I don’t have to have a chunky salsa but it has to have more body than… again ketchup. This salsa had personality. I like a good amount of heat. This salsa wasn’t hot. I wouldn’t even call it medium, but there was something there. As for the most controversial ingredient, cilantro, this salsa used it well. Though I could have used a little more.

My wife loves guacamole, especially fresh made-at-the-table guacamole. And this place does it! We always had to go to On the Border in Kennesaw to get such a thing. So of course we ordered it. It was quite good. It probably could have used a little more jalapeno. Maybe a little more lime. But it was my wife’s treat not mine. Technically, you’re supposed to eat guacamole fresh at fresh made room temperature. I cut against the grain and prefer my guacamole out of the refrigerator and ice cold.

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Other than a margarita, I don’t remember what The Wife ordered. The Kid Unit ordered… you guessed it chicken tenders and fries. But she LIKED it! That’s a first at a Mexican restaurant. I ordered the El Molcajetaso and my head exploded when it arrived. I have never sen anything like it!  The description was “chunks of pork, steak, chicken, chorizo and nopales, with our special salsa and fresh Mexican cheese. Served with rice and beans.” What came out was not at all what I expected.

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El Molcajetaso

Just look at that awesomeness!!! My favorite part was the grilled green onions. They were amazing. I would have liked a little sour cream to go with my rolled tortillas. Next time. I ended up taking half home. My wife and I each got two meals out of this dinner. Another first for us for Mexican dining.

Back to the margarita. I don’t drink them. My wife is a connoisseur. At Los Compadres, servers carry a chilled bottle of white tequila around and top off drinks. Free. And they pour shots. Just tilt your head back and open your mouth. They’ll fill it up. FREE! No wonder this place was so popular and there appeared to be many regulars. Well and the food was outstanding. The service was top notch too. Our waitress, Jennifer, was in tune with Rose so that was a plus. We hit a home run on this outing. Even The Child said she’d go back.

I’m Now Jonesin’ For Joensy’s

In our first week in Iowa one of our priorities was get get Iowa drivers licenses as soon as possible. I have to say the Iowa DOT office on Edgewood is the nicest, friendliest license renewal office I have ever visited. I’ve had to get drivers licenses in six different states in my lifetime and this is the best one yet. It took an hour but in that time The Wife searched on MapQuest for a lunch option and said we should go to Joensy’s up the street. Good, because we were all starving!

I think Joensy’s began in Center Point but we were at the Cedar Rapids location, Joensy’s was a little better than a hole in the wall. You had to look for it or you’d miss it.You order at the counter and seat yourself wherever you can find a table. Drinks are self serve and a neat thing I had never seen before was the ability to add a flavor to your drink. For example, I could add a splash of cherry to my Diet Mountain Dew. So Cool! Daily specials are written on a whiteboard. The Child immediately saw Cheddar Nuggets and requested them to go with her chicken tender basket. The Wife followed and ordered the Fried Mushrooms. The Wife said Joensy’s was reknowned for it’s IBT. If you aren’t familiar with the IBT visit my post about Jerseys Downtown. That may be true, but the entire menu looked fantastic!  Both of us ordered IBTs, though she ordered hers all the way, mine was unadorned.

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Cheddar Nuggets
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Fried Mushrooms
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IBT and Waffle Fries

How can you not love this place! The appetizer ordered were HUGE! We ended up taking home half of the Cheddar Nuggets. I regretted not getting my IBT with lettuce and tomato, or at least a pickle but some mayonnaise did the trick. The pork was tender and juicy under the crust. It was so good that picky eater Kiddo ate a quarter of my pork rather than eat her chicken tenders. And while they weren’t crinkle cut fries, the waffle fries were really good making them  a close second.

On our way out, The Wife ordered a butter pecan milk shake. WOW! If you like butter pecan ice cream this thing was amazing. I might have to get one myself next time.

Nostalgic Foods

Cedar Rapids Eats isn’t just about restaurants, it’s about eating in and around Cedar Rapids. With that said here are two glorious finds since we moved here.

2016-02-19 21.03.55Cheese filled hot dogs!!! Not only are these a throwback to childhood but I loved them as an adult charred on the grill. The last I remember eating these was maybe around 2010. And then they disappeared! Online research revealed a very regional sales map for these. For some reason they were no longer available nationwide but scaled back to the Midwest. So I was thrilled to see them on the shelf at Hy-Vee. I bought them. Now I just need to get a grill to cook them on.

2016-02-19 22.12.21And this throw back to my college days!!! Oh did I love Mickey’s Big Mouths. Back then they had the grenade tops which I liked so much better.  But you know, change in the name of safety and all that. (The internet talks about Mickey’s being called green grenades because of the bottle shape. WRONG. Before they went to screw-on caps they had a unique pull tab with a ring like a hand grenade. You pulled the ring up and the cap would split into three sections). G. Heileman Brewing Company no longer exists, shed a tear, but it looks like their beer line up has been resurrected by Miller. I saw several of the line up at HyVee.