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.



Bricks Bar & Grill

On the Monday we were in Cedar Rapids we holed up in our hotel. We had signed a lease on Sunday and it was snowing pretty hard. We had no reason to go out and the hotel had an indoor pool. For dinner we wanted to stay in walking distance. I had noticed the first time I visited Cedar Rapids that a restaurant opened up into the back of the parking garage. The parking garage was linked to the hotel by a sky walk so we really wouldn’t even have to go outside to get there. Of course we trudged through the snow instead.

Bricks Bar & Grill. To me this is a real bar. Long and narrow with lots of glass, mirrors, and polished wood and brass. They may have a kitchen, the food may even be good, but it’s primary purpose is to serve alcohol, mainly beer. I think this place might have the most taps in town, over forty if I remember correctly. We sat down in a half booth, half table right behind the bar stools. It was happy hour which meant Two for One beers on tap. Whoo hoo! We didn’t drive. I got two Bell’s Two Hearted Ales. It was a wonderful thing.

Our server wasn’t too friendly at first but after I asked her about her Yankees tattoo she warmed up fast. She said she’d worked there for 11 years I think. It used to be a brick oven pizza place. She left for two years and came back and they had taken out the brick oven and replaced it with a smoker. I guess that explains the name.

I don’t remember what the wife ordered. The daughter ordered plain wings, all drums. They were pretty good, but nothing amazing. I ordered the Burnt Ends as an appetizer. I’m so glad I did. They were fabulous! I don’t know if they were true Kansas City burnt ends, but they were tender juicy morsels of smoked pork covered in a really good barbecue sauce. I’m ordering these every time.

I followed the burnt ends with The Lil Stevey P sandwich with a side of onion rings. I’m am very very picky about onion rings. I don’t like them battered. They must be breaded. My first choice is breaded in crushed seasoned crackers. Most servers don’t know the difference between breading and battering so I usually pass. These were excellent! A wonderful dry breading, fully seasoned. Glad I took the risk.

The Stevey P is smoked sausage sliced lengthwise, grilled and topped with red onions, pepper jack cheese and bacon. Served on grilled Texas toast. This is a great sandwich. The first bite I thought it was missing something, maybe salt. Then the pepper jack cheese kicked in and I forgot what was missing. I’m not a big fan of caramelized red onions, they are too sweet, but here they balanced perfectly with the smoke and heat of the sandwich. The bacon seemed more of a textural player than a flavor contributor. Wonderful sandwich. But be sure to orient it correctly when eating. If you bit into it with the sausage running parallel to your teeth you end up pulling out a whole sausage. Bite crosswise ☺

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Lil Stevey P sandwich with side of breaded onion rings