Saucy Focaccia

Many times I’ve been tempted to try Saucy Focaccia at NewBo City Market. But every time the pull of a gyro from Zaytoon’s has been stronger. Recently I learned that there was a second Saucy Focaccia restaurant on the Northeast side in a retail development called The Fountains. Taking the family there I didn’t have the distraction of Lebanese food to pull me away.

The restaurant is bright and airy. Not being a regular at NewBo we had to study the menu a little bit. You can build your own burger or order one of their gourmet combinations. They also have a variety of sandwiches. Saucy is a perennial winner of Best Burger in Cedar Rapids and Best Sandwich. So you can’t go wrong either way. The wife chose to build a burger, with house cut fries. The kiddo of course went with chicken tenders with a side of tater tots. And a chocolate shake. I was really tempted to order the Chicken Cordon Blue sandwich but decided I should have a burger for my first time. I went with the Baby Bella special. I got jalapeno poppers instead of fries because I’m just not a fan of fresh cut fries.

Saucy has the fast-casual model meaning you order at the register, take a seat at a table and they bring the food out to you. So no servers to wait on you. They do bus the tables though. I don’t think we spent any more on dinner than if we had gone to Hardees or Culvers. We didn’t partake but Saucy Focaccia also sells beer by the bottle. Our food came out astonishingly fast. Almost too fast for the mood I was in. It would definitely have been great for lunch but I was in the mood for a leisurely dinner.

As one might infer from the name, Saucy Focaccia’s shtick is burgers served with a cheese sauce on buns made of focaccia bread. The wife’s had a cheddar sauce. She claimed her sandwich to be good. My burger had a slice of Swiss cheese and a jalapeno garlic aioli. I love a mushroom Swiss burger and this one was fantastic. I craved a second one as soon as I was finished. My poppers were the standard green ones with cream cheese. However the raspberry jelly was a nice accompaniment, far better than ranch dressing.

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Chicken Tenders and Tots
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Cheddar Cheese Burger and House Cut Fries
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Baby Bella Burger and Jalapeno Poppers

I may not be able to resist the pull of Lebanese food at NewBo but would not hesitate to return to The Fountains location and try one of Saucy Focaccia’s many other burger combinations or even a try one of their highly rated sandwiches.

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Broken Spoke – A Different Kind of Biker Bar

Today we were headed to a painting project at a paint your own pottery place and needed to eat lunch first. Rather than try all the places on Collins Rd and hope for the best on Labor Day, I decided to just go across the street. My goal was The Broken Spoke but Riley’s was there next door as a back up just in case no one was interested in Spoke. Incidentally, Broken Spoke is opened by the same people that own Riley’s.

There is no doubt that Broken Spoke is a bar. A bicycle themed bar. Biking is popular on this side of town. There were a couple tables occupied by groups of riders. The left side of the restaurant is almost exclusively high tops. We found a lone low top on the right side of the restaurant, next to the pool table.

I was happy to see that the menu is not remotely like Riley’s. There were lots of intriguing items. We went with an order of pretzel sticks for an appetizer. I also wanted to order the jalapeno poppers. I love poppers. My all time favorite ones are red jalapenos with cream cheese served with pepper jelly. An ultra rare find. The menu described these poppers as being filled with red chili cream cheese. Oooooh! Something different!

The pretzel sticks were exactly the same as the ones served at Max & Erma’s in Ohio but served with a really good Monterrey Jack cheese sauce. The poppers were indeed different. Red peppers. Yay! There were pepper flakes in the crust. I found the chili cream cheese to be slightly sweet. The poppers had a good after heat but were not super hot like one might have expected. The side of ranch dressing added nothing.

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Lots of interesting things on the menu. My heart was drawn to the Chicago hot dog. God I love Chicago hot dogs. I miss my Gold Coast Dogs. And Broken Spoke’s was a foot long! Instead I went with the Speedway, a burger topped with a hot dog, sauerkraut, brown beer mustard and a cheese plank. I had them hold the sauerkraut. And of course my side was crinkle cut fries.

The basket looked really good. The fries were the less common skinny crinkle cuts. The burger was a good burger. It wasn’t great burger, it wasn’t memorable, I won’t be craving one, but it was good. Unfortunately the hot dog and cheese plank get lost. I couldn’t taste individual flavors. All together just made for a big bite. I’m glad I tried it but I will get something else next time. And there will be a next time. I really liked this place.

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Zaytoon Mediterranean Grill

I’ve eaten at Zaytoon Mediterranean Grill inside NewBo City Market many, many times. I always get a gyro. Always. I did have to ask one day what makes their gyro “Chicago-style?” She said they carve the meat off the spit instead of using the frozen food service strips. I just thought that made it real. Zaytoon’s gyros are excellent, though not as good as Parthenon’s in Madison, my gold standard (which is probably 90% sentimental).

Today I screwed up a lot of courage to try something new. Not out of fear, but because I love gyros so damn much. Lebanese food is my favorite of all foods and Zaytoon’s has quite a few appealing options. Sadly no kibbeh or fattoush. I had two choices for shish tawook, a plate and a wrap. I went with the wrap and a side of fries.

I guessing their chicken is not cooked on a skewer and that’s fine. It’s really the marinade that is most important. I watched her throw the chunks of chicken on to the flat top to reheat, chopping up a few of the larger pieces. Don’t be confused, a shish tawook wrap is not a chicken gyro. For starters it’s rolled in a twelve inch wrap I believe called a durum, not folded in a pita. The toppings are different, example grilled peppers. There is a yogurt sauce but I do not believe it is tzatziki. I think it is garlic based not cucumber. A shish tawook wrap is a lot less messy than a gyro, an important consideration. I made an excellent choice. It was fantastic. One important note, they don’t salt their fries, so I had to ask for some salt packets. It will be tough next time not to order a gyro, but I’m glad I tried the shish wrap and highly recommend.

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