Cedar River Landing

I’ve driven past Cedar River Landing several times and had been eager to try it. We went on a Monday evening. The place wasn’t too busy. A large group playing darts and several small trios around the bar. The place was open and the music was loud. We found a low four top off to the side and waited.

Eventually the waitress came over and took our drink orders and scurried off. As we waited we checked out the various TV screens and watched the people playing darts. By the time she came back we were ready with our order but she scurried off again.

So we waited some more and had fun catching up with each other. Finally our waitress came back and we placed our order. I was excited to order the Gator Fries and The Wife ordered the Breaded Mushrooms. For our entrees, The Child surprised me and ordered the Two Piece Dark Broasted Chicken Dinner instead of chicken tenders and fries, The Wife opted for breakfast and ordered a Bacon Egg and Cheese Sandwich with a side of fries. I think the only thing special about the sandwich was it is made with TWO eggs instead of one. For myself, I knew from the moment I opened the menu what I wanted. Jambalaya. And with our order in we waited.

And waited. Our drinks ran out and we called her over for refills. And we waited. And our drinks ran dry again and still we waited. Finally after what seemed and eternity our food arrived. I realize that people go to bars to hang out. So it makes sense for food not to come out at fast food speeds. But speed of service needs to be reasonable also. Over an hour for our food to arrive is excessive, especially when we were the only ones eating!

All of our food came out at once, appetizers with entrees. The mushrooms were good, as they seem to be everywhere we go. I loved the alligator tail. It was great as is and didn’t need their Cajun sauce that it comes with. The Child found the Broasted chicken to be acceptable but passed on the fries because they were seasoned. I heard no complaints on the BEC sandwich.

My Jambalaya looked different than any I have had before. But I was open minded. It was amazingly good. I get irritated with shrimp served with tails on but at least they were on top and easy to pick. The only complaint would be the slivered onions were stringy. I could only eat half of the plate and looked forward to leftovers.

There were a couple of things on the menu I’d like to try. And it looked like a great bar to just hang out.They had a live stage and so maybe some good acts come their way. But the service has to get better, A LOT better. I’m hoping it was just an off night and our next time will be great.

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.

2016-02-18 18.53.22

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.

2016-02-18 18.53.17

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!!!!

8403966_g

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.

2016-02-16 13.13.43

 

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 ☺

2015-12-28 18.26.56
Lil Stevey P sandwich with side of breaded onion rings

 

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.

2015-12-27 19.34.10
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.

2015-12-27 19.48.54
Indiana Iowa Breaded Tenderloin sandwich with fresh cut fries