Saturday, March 10, 2012

Restaurant Review - Firehouse Grill

Last Friday some of my family decided to meet up for dinner at the Firehouse grill in Blue Ash...we live all over the place in Cincinnati so this was kind of a central spot for everyone... Upon first impression it was your regular suburban restaurant...gigantic with a giant bar in the middle and very loud. One of my aunt's asked nicely if we could be moved somewhere a little quieter and they let us take over the private room for the night so we could hear each other at the table...we very much appreciated that :)

I really wanted some fried pickles, so I asked the waitress if I could by any chance order a half order of the appetizer and let me! They looked delicious when they came out, but unfortunately the pickle was sliced so thin you couldn't even really taste basically just tasted like fried breading...but I will say the ranch they gave to dip it in was I probably wouldn't recommend these...

I ordered the crispy fish tacos and they came with a spicy chipotle cole slaw that was good and had some heat. Again, the tacos looked fantastic, but they were just really bland....they were definitely not bad and I thought the fish was cooked nicely, but it was just missing something....I ended up asking for some hot sauce just to give it a little flavor. I wish they were as good as they looked! I will say it was a great portion for 9.99.

CRISPY FISH TACOS: Cajun cornmeal crusted tilapia, shredded lettuce, fresh pico 
de gallo, cilantro lime sour cream, chipotle slaw 9.99 
Rob ordered the Back Draft burger....check out the generous amount of guacamole on this! I hate it when something says it comes with avocado and has one thin little brown piece of avocado on it...if you say it has guacamole...give me some guacamole! This had a very nice kick and both my dad and Rob really liked it.
THE BACK DRAFT: Jalapenos, hot chili sauce, melted monterey jack, house made guacamole 10.50
Here are a few pictures of other dishes around the table including the fish and chips special that was going on for Lent that came with fries and cole slaw:

And my cousin got this mashed potato pizza... this is something I would never even think to order but she let me have a bite and it was like potato skins on a pizza....with the whole bacon/sour cream thing...sooo..not exactly what I would consider my thing but if you like potato skins and you like will most likely like this :)

So all in all this is about your standard pub fare. Some interesting menu items, but not executed fantastically.

The Firehouse Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Product Review- Alexia Spicy Sweet Potato Fries

Last week the kind people at Alexia sent me a cute little gift basket along with a coupon to try any of their frozen products as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program.  I was really excited, because I've been meaning to try their stuff for a while now, but just usually make my potatoes, etc from well...potatoes. I try to eat as much real food as possible...not a ton of preservatives and almost everything fresh...but when I checked out their website, I saw how natural all of their food was and was excited to give it a try..

When we were at the store choosing something (at our Kroger it's in the natural food section)- it was hard to decide...seriously everything looked So good....we settled on the Spicy Sweet Potato Julienne Fries.

Nice ingredient list:

We make sweet potato fries at home from sweet potatoes paretty often. Like a 2-3x a week often. They are delicious. And they take 40-45 minutes, which is usually totally fine...except those nights when it's not fine and you come home late and are so hungry that 45 minutes sounds like a lifetime..... so we were excited to see how these would cook up in 20-25 minutes.

First, I'm trying to control portions, so the first couple of times I eat something I usually weigh or count whatever it is so I can get a good grasp of what a "serving" of that particular food looks like...This bag said it had 30 pieces per serving and 7 servings per container...that part I am a little confused about bc I literally counted out 60 pieces for 2 servings and that left about 2 servings in a bag, for a total of only 4 servings.. so not sure what that's all about....but let's chat about the fries...
*EDIT: I emailed the company to ask about the serving size situation and turns out it was a misprint and a serving size is actually only 12 pieces as opposed to 30!  I guess when something seems too good to be true it usually is. I'm also bummed that I was eating three servings per sitting when I thought I was only eating one. They are fixing the issue.

YUM. They are crispy on the outside and soft in the center with just the right amount of spice. I dipped a couple in one of my favorite ranch dressings and was pretty much in sweet potato heaven. Sweet potato fries from home don't get this same kind of crunch on them...

I would definitely buy these again, and if you look on their website right now they have a $1 off coupon that I have already printed out for my next shopping trip..

Vote on facebook to help Alexia decide their next fry... I had a hard time deciding between the Classic Dill Julienne fries and the Herbes Du Provence Sweet Potato Fries (I sure am a sucker for a sweet potata)
Vote here:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Restaurant Review - Smoq

A couple of weekends ago (the Sunday night before Presidents' Day to be exact) Rob and I decided we wanted to try Eli's bbq. We texted our friends Wall & Suzi to join, and five minutes later they were in our driveway. We headed over there with our byo in hand ready for some bbq....except when we got there...they turned us away....they were out of food! This was ridiculously sad, it smelled like a little piece of heaven in there and now we were all set on eating some good Wall convinced us to head northwest to his favorite bbq joint, Walt's. We rode the (longer than sold to us) ride to Walt's and got out excitedly ready for some food...when we walked in the door the place looked like a tornado had hit it and the waitress said, "hi! just so you know we are out of ribs, chicken, brisket, french fries, etc etc" Down trodden we headed back to the car and immediately fired up our iphones for a bbq search. We found smoq and called them only to find out they were out of ribs and some chicken, but decided to make the trek North to head there anyway...

To make a (very) long story is the review of Smoq...

We were hungry when we left the house so at this point we were REALLY hungry... we ordered drinks and the waiter gave us the long list of all of the things we were out of... I am assuming this is what was going on at other tables too because people were ANGRY... I mean like absolutely LIVID. I heard a lot of attitude being given to the wait staff when they heard what they were sold out of. I heard someone ask for the manager and then after they talked to the table we could actually hear him in the back SCREAMING at someone. I have no idea if he was the owner or manager or what but it was one of the most unprofessional things I have ever experienced. 

The restaurant was not totally like I expected it to look like...kind of one of those things where you can tell a restaurant moved into another restaurant's space without changing too much. 

Anyway, on to the food. First they brought out these cornbread muffins which honestly didn't seem to promising alongside the single serve "whipped spread"....why? why? why not some real butter in a cup...why this fake butter in single serve containers??? But fake butter aside, the cornbread was really moist and tasty..almost like dessert.. it could have had something to do the fact that I was starving at this point, but it was a very good cornbread muffin....

The table had a variety of their barbeque sauces on it including Carolina Hot, Kansas City smoke and Memphis Mild... I am not a huge fan of the fake smoke flavor, so I stuck with the first two. They had nice flavor but were SOOO runny. I am not sure if this is a memphis type of sauce but I love dipping my house made chips in bbq sauce and that was NOT going to happen with this sauce...that wasn't a problem with the sandwiches or brisket though, and the flavors were nice.

I was really in the mood for ribs, but they were out so I ordered the chicken sandwich and was actually pretty impressed! It was juicy and not overcooked and had a nice toasted bun. There was a generous portion of chips that had nice flavor on them also.

Smoq'd chicken, bbq sauce, cheddar and bacon $7.99
 Wall ordered the brisket plate that included a giant pile of brisket and two sides... I can't say too much for these because I didn't taste them, but thought I would share some pictures....
Brisket Plate with Two Sides $14.59
 Rob had the brisket sandwich with mustard slaw...
brisket sandwich topped with mustard slaw $7.99
All in all I was happy with my meal at Smoq... My main issues were the manager that was loudly screaming at someone during our meal and the multiple tables that sat unbussed when we were there. I think the reason everyone was so busy was that none of the restaurants were accounting for the fact that the next day was a holiday...although that must happen every who knows...

Anyway, for us, it won't be worth the drive to head up there specifically to eat here anytime soon, but might be worth a visit if you are up that way!

smoQ on Urbanspoon