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.

Jerseys Pub and Grub

Since we arrived in Cedar Rapids The Child had been bugging me every day to go back to Jerseys. She wants the fried cheese balls. A look at Google Maps surprised me by showing a Jerseys by our house! She had to wait a few days but I finally took her one night.

I really liked this place. Again, classic sports bar with all of the TVs. That seems to be our mainstay for eating out. Perhaps we are still rebelling from moving to a dry county in the Appalachian mountains years ago.

I actually ordered a beer. I rarely do if we are eating out as a family. And just one. It’s too easy for me to get carried away especially since I am a guzzler. If I remember correctly I  ordered a pilsner from Millstream Brewery, a local Iowa brewery. Very easy drinking. I was smart to have ordered the pint and not the 22oz. But Thursdays are 22 ounce $4 craft brews!!! I could have had six more ounces for the same price. Oh well. There will always be a next time now that we moved to Cedar Rapids!

We of course got the cheese balls. See my previous writing on Jerseys Downtown for my discussion of them. This time she ordered the chicken tenders for dinner, of course.

The Wife ordered the Breakfast Burger and homemade chips on the side. A colleague’s husband raved about it so now it was The Wife’s turn to be bold and adventurous. Remember what I said about adding an egg? She got the double which seemed to be the perfect size. She was nervous about the warm maple syrup on the side but became a convert after the first dip. The Wife not only raved about the Breakfast Burger but also the chips. Now I’m not foolish enough to believe that every restaurant serving “home made chips” is mandolining potatoes in the back. I know they are a food service product. But Jersey’s is doing something different with theirs, maybe brining? These chips had the perfect level of saltiness.

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I was tempted to get the Breakfast Burger myself, because? Fried egg! But instead went with the broasted chicken. When we lived in South Georgia we had plenty of choices for fantastic fried chicken. When we moved to North Georgia we had zero places to choose from for fried chicken. Ugh! I haven’t had any good fried chicken in almost 10 years! Iowa is the number one producer of eggs in the US. I suppose with that many chickens laying eggs in Iowa a fair number end up as fryers and that is why I see broasted chicken on so many menus around town.

By the way, broasted isn’t the same as deep frying. Broasting is also known as pressure frying. It’s kind of a combination of pressure cooking and deep frying. You need special equipment to safely cook with because the hot frying oil is under pressure. Broasting claims cooks faster and seals in the juices and flavor of whatever you are cooking.

The broasted chicken was wonderful. Best chicken I’ve had since Bainbridge. I had talked the waitress into getting me two thighs. I only like and only eat thighs. It didn’t have the cayenne kick like down south but the skin was wonderfully seasoned. The meat was juicy and flavorful the way dark meat should be. But the skin is my favorite part. I peel it off right away to let the meat cool down and set the skin to the side. When I’ve finished picking the thigh bones clean I roll the skin up and eat it in one or two bites. Jerseys didn’t disappoint.

The chicken was the highlight but I should discuss my sides. The broasted chicken comes with broasted potato wedges, a roll plus one side. I ordered the mac ‘n cheese. And thanks to the couple next to us I was inspired to add a side of onion rings after seeing their order come out. The onion rings were fantastic. They say beer battered on the menu but these were a dry crunchy coating, just like I like. There were more than The Wife and I could finish.

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I ordered the Mac ‘n Cheese for The Child thinking she would eat it with her chicken tenders. As usual I was wrong to guess what she might eat. I was impressed with the Mac ‘n Cheese. I don’t eat macaroni and cheese. I’m not originally from the South where it is considered a staple and counts as a vegetable. Jerseys macaroni and cheese is baked in individual ramekins. I think The Child was turned off by the bread crumbs on top. I enjoyed it but there may have been some nostalgia at play. Add tuna and peas and it would have been my mother’s tuna casserole we ate weekly growing up.

As for the obligatory sides, the roll was meh. Just your plain old white roll from the grocery. I love broasted potato wedges which are like the potato wedges you get as a side from KFC. Jerseys’ were bigger and better. Four quarter wedges from a baked potato, seasoned and broasted. Be careful, they stay hot for a long time.

Our server Megan was fantastic. She was extremely friendly and talkative with us. We will definitely be back and with the close proximity to our house may even become regulars.

 

Fieldhouse 1st Avenue

We went here because I had business next door at Scottrade. The restaurant was there, I knew it was there because we just had dinner at Osaka. And we needed to eat FAST because The Child was hangry!!!!

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I thought The Fieldhouse was the same as Louie’s Scoreboard. They have very similar menus. But I was wrong. Not the same, might not even be related. The Fieldhouse is a classic local sports themed bar and grill. In this case the theme is Iowa Hawkeyes sports. Plenty of TVs to watch the games on. We were lucky enough to watch a replay of Kentucky vs. Missouri women’s gymnastics.

We started with a round of Cheddar Nuggets, thinking they were the same as the white cheddar curds at Louie’s Scoreboard. They were not but they were good. And added bonus, they came with a side of crinkle cut fries! I love love LOVE crinkle cut fries. I don’t know why I find them better than all other forms of fries. Perhaps it is the increased surface area that holds more salt, seasoning, and/or ketchup. We were tempted to get the Cheesy Bacon Fries because The Child was excited they were made with waffle fries. But alas, all waffle fry servings at The Fieldhouse have been converted to crinkle cut fries. I for one am not complaining,.

My wife got the simple Grilled Cheese. It was the biggest damn grilled cheese I have ever seen!2016-02-16 13.13.36

She said it was fantastic.

I ordered the Breakfast Burger. How do you make a bacon cheeseburger better? Put a fried egg on top!!!! It was divine! The yolk was under cooked but not terribly runny, just enough to blend with the melted cheese and make a near sauce. And it came with crinkle cut fries! Was I in heaven? No, Iowa.

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Jerseys Downtown

After a long Sunday driving around the area looking at houses we decided that none of us wanted to get back into the car to go out to dinner. And it was late. Jerseys was a one block walk from out hotel so we set out with that as our destination.

Another sports bar. I can’t say the place was warm and inviting. It felt like a dive without looking like a dive. It may have just been an aura from being mostly empty late on a Sunday night. It may have been family members with a negative attitude. I don’t know.

The menu was much more appealing than what I had been eating for the past eight years but at the same time nothing quite moved me. Again, probably just a vibe in the air.

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House made Mozzarella Sticks and Cheddar Balls

Being starved we ordered two appetizers, Cheddar Balls and Mozzarella Sticks. I guess we were feeling cheese deficient. The cheddar balls were fantastic. They tasted just like deep fried cheese curds and for all I know that’s exactly what Sysco sells them as. I think part of what made them so good yet different than a cheese curd was their generous size. Back home, we have one mediocre restaurant that sells the absolute best cheese sticks. They are tempura battered in-house and dusted with Parmesan cheese. The homemade cheese sticks at Jerseys were equally as good, breaded instead of battered. Nice big planks, soft stretchy cheese. I’d order them every time I eat here in the future.

I don’t remember what the rest of my family ordered. I ordered the pork tenderloin sandwich, AKA IBT. Being of strong Hoosier stock, I know the IBT as Indiana Breaded Tenderloin. Of course in Cedar Rapids, the “I” is for Iowa not Indiana. Same sandwich, I don’t know who has more authentic claim. My sandwich was a little thicker than I was used to, but the menu description said it would be so it didn’t come as a surprise. It was fried to a rich chestnut brown. I found it to be a little dry. I don’t know if I committed blasphemy or not, but I asked for some mayo and that made the sandwich go down much easier. It was served with a side of fresh cut fries. Ordinarily I don’t like fresh cut fries. I find then usually too bland, too floppy, too greasy, too undercooked. These were amazingly good. I hope they are just as good next time.

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Indiana Iowa Breaded Tenderloin sandwich with fresh cut fries

First Dinner in Cedar Rapids*

*OK, really it was Marion.

 

We came up to Cedar Rapids in December looking for a place to live. February was fast approaching and we still didn’t have a rental property secured. Getting into the Linn-Mar school district was my first choice so we ended our day in Marion after looking at a few neighborhoods.

The downtown area is very nice. Our first choice for dinner had an hour long wait.  So we walked over a block and ended up at Louie’s Scoreboard Sports Bar and Grill. From the outside it looked rather sketchy, dark windows and an unmarked windowless door. However, once inside it proved to be quite nice. A nice bar large bar in the center with seating in open rooms on each side. Plenty of requisite TVs for sports viewing. I think it was seat yourself and we chose a round high top by the front window.

Service was a little slow at first. I fault the “seat yourself” model for this. It always seems like it takes a while for the servers to even notice you’ve sat at a table. Our waitress didn’t have the warmest personality but she wasn’t rude or indifferent either. Most importantly, she was attentive.

For me, the menu looked amazing. I need to buffer that statement by reminding you that I’ve been living in a town of 850 people for eight years and the nearest city to my house was 1600 people. Most of the restaurants between those two places had more or less the same menu choices. Not a lot of variety to say the least.

For an appetizer we went with the White Cheddar Curds. While cheese can be found in Appalachia, cheese curds are unheard of. Not to me though, I used to live in Wisconsin. I’m sure these were some food service frozen prepackaged appetizer and not freshly breaded back in the kitchen, but they were amazing. Lightly breaded, soft and melty, and they even squeaked! The side of ranch for dipping was superfluous, but none of us like ranch dressing anyway. The three of us could have eaten a second batch.

My wife ordered the Combo Pizza, my daughter ordered a Cheese Pizza. I ordered The Mayor stuffed burger. I didn’t try the combo pizza, zero interest and it had green peppers, blech. The cheese pizza was fabulous. Heavy on the cheese, all the way to the edge of the crust, which was not too thin, not too thick. A nice blend of cheese too.

The fries were meh. I ate maybe five. I loved the burger. It’s a unique,to me, approach to making a burger by putting ingredients inside. I’m guessing they use some type of press that makes a hollow that can be filled. For The Mayor, the burger is filled with pulled pork, Gouda cheese and caramelized onions. It works.

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The Mayor stuffed with pulled pork, Gouda cheese and caramelized onions
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Not the prettiest picture, but the caramelized onions are clearly seen in the middle of the burger.