I am an unabashed carnivore. I do eat vegetables, well a few.  I eat lots of fruit in season, but otherwise meat meat meat. When we lived in Georgia we used to visit Your Dekalb Farmers Market, aka Heaven On Earth, . This was always wonderful Daddy-Daughter bonding time. Our favorite sections were the fish and the meat departments. We used to load up on meat sticks, sausages from Patak Meats. The Child’s favorites were kabanos and landjaegers. Moving to Iowa, how were we going to replace these???

Perusing online, The Village Meat Market & Cafe looked like it might be the answer. Yesterday we didn’t go for the meat though, we went for dinner. We got there at 5:30pm and almost left because closing time was 6:00pm. I hate walking into a place at closing time. I’ve been on the grill when that party of four comes in at the last minute and wants an hour dinner. I hate it and don’t like doing it to others. But the guy working the kitchen said “No problem!”

There was so much to choose from on the menu. Even breakfast! As one would expect dining in the middle of Czech Village a good bit of the menu was Czech, but not everything. Immediately my eyes fell on the Goulash. I have not had goulash since a business trip to Germany at least ten years ago. I was excited to try a Czechoslovakian version. Plus a side of Cajun baked beans. The Wife went with The Butcher Loaf Sandwich, a Czech recipe meatloaf sandwich, with a side of potato salad.

Our food came out surprisingly quickly. I guess because we were the only ones eating. The meatloaf sandwich looked like a great cheeseburger to me. Humorously, in the description on the menu it stated, Nezapomen’te na kec’up (don’t forget the ketchup).” It came without ketchup! The Wife tends to be picky about potato salad and she said the potato salad was not extraordinary but good. She ate it all.

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This is an excellent example of why I dislike Yelp and Google+ type reviews. The goulash was very good, very well made. But I didn’t care for it. I’m glad I ordered it, but I wouldn’t order it again. The dumplings were good. I think the tomato sauce with wonderful chunks of meat would make a great spaghetti. It just wasn’t my thing. The beans were not good. Baked beans can be too thick and these were. Flavor was good but I couldn’t stand the texture. As my wife said, maybe they were good at lunch but not the end of the day when they’ve been forgotten about and completely cooked down. I will want to try them again. The thick cut piece of pumpernickel was awesome though. I didn’t even need my usual schmear of butter. See, just because I didn’t care for the food one time doesn’t mean a restaurant deserves a scathing review and one star. That has to happen at least three times in a row for me to be that critical. Or major ServSafe violations.

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After we paid we perused the meat counter. So much tasty goodness!!! The Child will definitely need to visit for the Bacon On a Stick. We were excited to see smoked pork chops. We used to eat them on a regular basis when we lived in South Georgia. Jones Country Meats had the best I’ve had. The pork chops at the Village Meat Market were huge! I can’t wait to try them. They had some type of meat stick for a dollar each. I bought five. They weren’t kabanos but I think they are going to be their replacement for us. The Child gave them a thumbs up and then asked for a second one. Win!



BBQ This!

One thing we left behind in the South is good barbecue. There weren’t a lot places surprisingly but there were enough to make it difficult to replace. Jim’s Smokin’ Que even had national press.  I thought it was only OK, but another place that has national notoriety is Col. Poole’s. And the NC BBQ Trail began by our old digs.

In searching the internet it seems that Caribbean Kitchen had the best ribs in Cedar Rapids but alas they are no more. Scouring with Google some more turned up BBQ This! I liked the idea of dry rubbed meat that you sauce yourself. I associate this with Texas and if it’s good barbecue I don’t even use sauce.

BBQ This ! is tucked in a small shopping plaza off Boyson Rd. It is another one of those “fast casual” establishments. You order under the big “Order Here” sign, one order at a time, and pay at the end of the line, exactly like Subway. Our order totaled $55 though so this is less casual than I would have thought. They aren’t using this model to keep prices low, that’s for sure.

We came here in search of good ribs. BBQ This! has baby back ribs rather than spare ribs. They cut each rib off the rack for you. I ordered a full rack for The Child thinking she would eat half and I would eat half. She also ordered mac n’ cheese and homemade chips. She went to town on the mac ‘n cheese but only had a rib or two. She didn’t care for them but didn’t have a real good reason as to why. But she did say she did not like the barbecue sauces. I did not care for the ribs either. I found them to be very dry. I would have liked them to be tender and juicy . The search continues.

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The Wife went with a two meat combo, pulled pork and sausage. For sides she got the potato salad and the cheesy potatoes which was like a hash brown casserole. All of the combos come with a side of sweet corn bread. She preferred the spicy barbecue sauce.

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I ordered the sliced beef brisket and sausage with sides of baked beans and apple crisp. I began seeking sausage out at barbecue places after all my trips in Texas. I call a brisket, pulled pork, sausage plate a Texas plate. BBQ This didn’t have a three meat combo to offer though. The brisket was good but I found it to be dry. It was good with both the mild and the sweet sauce. But truthfully, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two sauces. I love smoked sausage and it was quite good. I just poured one of the sauces over the sausage like I was in Texas.The baked beans were so-so, they had a vinegary flavor to them. Being a Yankee I prefer sweet corn bread to dry southern corn bread, but I need butter. The corn bread was slightly sweet, and tasted pretty good with the whipped spread I found, though I would have preferred real butter. The apple crisp was a winner. It was fresh from the oven and oh so good.

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Not really my kind of barbecue joint but the sausage was good enough to go back. Next time though I will probably try the smoked wings.