Where I Ate: Anchor Bar

*Full Disclosure:
Towards the end of November I was contacted by Anchor Bar on Twitter and asked to visit the restaurant, try the food and write an honest review of my experience. One of our dishes was comped and we were sent an appetizer on the house as well.

The original Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY claims to be the home of the ORIGINAL and BEST Buffalo Wings since 1964 and I recently paid a visit to the Hamilton location in Jackson Square to try out their other offerings.

The service at this place was really great, before our server Danielle knew we’d been invited to review the place she was friendly and attentive, accommodating us by cutting fresh lime slices when we asked to have the smaller decorative slices in our Vodka/Soda/Lime replaced with ones we could squeeze and taste in our drinks.

After our drinks arrived she took our order and then brought us a plate of their newest appetizer, Deep Fried Pickles. This dish has always fascinated me, I love pickles and I love deep fried things but in my experience they’ve been disappointing. I was surprised by how crisp this version was (not a soggy crumb to be found), they were the perfect temperature (hot enough to enjoy without burning the skin off the roof of my mouth) and had a great dill flavour.

Deep Fried Pickles at Anchor Bar

Deep Fried Pickle-liciousness – so good they barely survived long enough for me to snap a pic!

For our mains hubby ordered the Anchor Burger and I settled on the Meatball Sandwich. When they arrived we were surprised on both counts:

  1. The burger came with two patties!
  2. The meatball sandwich did not come with meatballs served in a skillet so I could build my own (as described on the menu)
Twin Patties!

Twin Patties!

Sandwich and salad

Meatball Sandwich and the DIVINE Salad

When I asked Danielle about the meatball discrepancy she gracefully explained that the menu was being reprinted after some testing.  Not a big deal :)

I don’t usually order burgers, mainly because I’ve had so many bad experiences, but when hubby let me taste his I was pleasantly surprised. Though the patties looked preformed/frozen they were actually tasty and unexpectedly juicy.

The meatball sandwich bun was perfectly toasted.  I am not ashamed to admit that I am a picky bitch when it comes to toast…I closely supervise the toasting of my Tim Hortons bagels and have been known to send toast back (sometimes multiple times) at diners…I have very specific feelings on the subject.  This hoagie bun was crispy and on the darker side of golden on the outside but still fluffy and slightly moist on the inside.
The meatballs were tender and sizeable if not exactly as flavourful as I would like and the plentiful cheese that topped the sandwich could have been melted more (ideally to a hot bubbling golden brown).

We both enjoyed the side of house salad that we chose to replace the french fries!  The Anchor Bar house salad was made up of fresh mixed greens, diced red and yellow peppers, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and rings of red onion splashed with an ample amount of a delicious and sweet dressing.  I ate the whole thing and some of my husbands as well :)

We decided against any sweet treats and after we were finished, the manager Kadi came out to talk with us about our experience.  He was friendly and chatted with us about the background of the food and suppliers and when I provided him with my feedback on the meatball sandwich he was grateful and promised to take care of that going forward.

All in all, I had a pleasant experience at the Anchor Bar and would definitely go back for the deep fried pickles and salad but I’d probably try a different main and I’d definitely plan to hit up Yuk Yuks afterward.

Catch up with them on Twitter!

Wishing you Yumminess,

Tara

 

 

Focus on the Yumminess

Before I publish my next food review I thought it would be a good time to share my food blog philosophy with you – Focus on the Yumminess.

Yumminess

Focus on the #Yumminess

I discovered it last year when I attended a number of management training sessions where I was given a ‘test’ to determine my ‘style’ in order to help me understand how to communicate with people who have different styles than I.  Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the DISC profile.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that I am an optimist who craves collaboration and aims to influence, gain consensus and avoid conflict at all costs. Unexpectedly this course helped me to crystallize my approach to food blogging and find my niche.

I am not interested in writing about my negative experiences and the things I didn’t like in my food travels – this feels like conflict to me.  I want to find the good in each experience (the yumminess), however small, and share that potential with anyone who stumbles across my blog.  I think of it as the ‘good news’ in the culinary world – there are plenty of critics who can do a good job of constructively (or perhaps not so constructively) criticizing the establishments they visit but I aim to appreciate the good that I find and Focus on the Yumminess.  Ideally my experiences will inspire and influence others to give these places a chance while encouraging the places I visit to keep on doing the good things I experienced.

All of that said, I hope I can help people enjoy the food scene in #HamOnt (and perhaps beyond someday) and bring some more positivity to the world.  Join me won’t you?

Wishing you yumminess!

Tara

Where I Ate: Saltlick Smokehouse

Image

 

A couple of weeks ago Hubby and I headed out to stroll around James St. and see what was happening.  Strangely enough we didn’t have any plans to eat (or drink for that matter) but thankfully fate intervened…

Guess who’s got a liquor license yo!

While I was pumped to finally get my tastebuds on some tasty smoked pork and beef, I had to deal with first things first – BEER.  We each ordered and thoroughly enjoyed a pint of THB pale ale which made me very happy as I’d prefer to support local business and when I can support them and really enjoy their product its a win-win!

Side note:  I had the pleasure of meeting Warren from THB at Because Beer and he shared the story behind this awesome local brewery :)

Saltlick and THB

Now onto the main event.

We weren’t planning to eat and weren’t overly hungry but I can pretty much always eat something.  We decided to share a 1/2 rack of ribs, 2 southern fried chicken drumsticks and the Mac & Cheese with brisket for $18.  $18!!!  It was so yummy, super filling and such an amazing deal!

Fried chicken, mac & cheese, ribs

From left to right:
The best fried chicken ever, the mac & cheese of my dreams, the smokiest ribs in town

As I always do, I went for the starch on the table first.  The Mac & Cheese was creamy, flavourful, served at the perfect temperature and it wasn’t even mushy!  Score :)  The bits of brisket added more substance and just a hint of smokiness, I’d eat that as a main dish any day of the week.

Next I dove into the ribs which were very tender and just saucy enough and even though they were a bit too smokey for my taste my Hubby LOVED them.

The southern fried chicken drumstick was absolute perfection – I mean I didn’t even know it could be that way!  It was crispy, not soggy or flabby, well seasoned and the meat was moist and yummy.  The chicken came with a sauce that was kind of like a spicy plum sauce and initially I was skeptical about combining it with the chicken but it just added to the heavenliness.

I will definitely be back for the southern fried chicken and the mac & cheese.  And the BEER!

Saltlick #BeerFace

Saltlick #BeerFace

Check them out on Twitter @SaltlickSmoke and Facebook for their daily menu.

Wishing you Yumminess,

Tara

Where I Ate: Charred Chicken

 

Early in May, when Hubby and I were on our way home from the GO Station neither of us had the energy to make dinner and we had the perfect excuse to finally hit up Saltlick Smokehouse.  Things were looking pretty good and the server was explaining the menu but as soon as we learned there would be no beer (they didn’t yet have a license) we beat a hasty retreat :)  Saltlick would have to wait for another day.

We set off down James St in search of food and beer and came across Charred, which was also on my list to try out.  Normally I consider chicken and salad to be my nemesis, my sworn mortal enemy.  It’s everywhere, on so many menus constantly trying to thwart my plans to eat something rich, decadent and oh-so-bad for me.  Ask anyone who knows me and they’d have a hard time believing I’d choose that combination for dinner but…I’ve recently made a deal with myself to retry things I “don’t like” or “don’t think I’ll like” because, well…you never know right?

I am SO glad I did.

What we ate:

It took only moments for me to choose my meal (after I’d ordered my beer of course) and I went with the Charred sandwich and house salad.

The bun was so fresh and fluffy, loaded with pulled charred chicken, peppers, onions, topped with a sharp aged cheddar and dressed with homemade piri piri mayo and cilantro (BTW I <3 Cilantro BIG TIME).  The sandwich was so tasty that I demolished half in record time (which is actually saying alot…you should see how I can hoover down a meal). I (miraculously) decided to save some for lunch the next day and since I’d tried the medium piri piri but found it wasn’t spicy enough, I went all out and asked for some the hot sauce to go.

The house salad, like the salad at Bar On Locke, was a pleasant surprise.  The slightly bitter mixed greens nicely coated in house made aged balsamic dressing, with sweet julienned carrots was good enough that I wish it would keep as well as the sandwich so I could have enjoyed it all over again!  I swear I’m not really a salad person but when I find a good one I’m all about it – and this one didn’t even have cheese or avocado or nuts in it (usually a prerequisite for me).

Chicken & Salad

Heaven. That’s right I just said that…about chicken and salad.

When I packed my lunch bag the next day I couldn’t get that chicken sandwich out of my mind.  I considered eating it on the GO Train at 8am but managed to hold off.  In the end, I couldn’t wait for lunch and devoured it before 11am – COLD – standing at my desk.  It was even more delicious after the juices and flavours had settled into the bun and didn’t even make it soggy!!!

I recently learned that Charred delivers all the way to my side of the city!!!!  I haven’t ordered yet because I feel guilty ordering a sandwich and salad for one and having them drive all the way across town…but someday soon I’ll gather the courage :)

You should try this sandwich.  Follow Charred on Twitter @CharredChicken and Facebook.

Wishing you Yumminess,

Tara

Where I Ate: The Aberdeen Tavern

 

Birthday Week always kicks off on my actual birthday and runs for the next seven days (spolied right?) so Hubby knew that there would be much dining out and that whenever possible I’d be eating pasta (I am addicted to Italian cuisine).  Last year we went up the mountain and hit up La Spaghett for my actual birthday dinner which was AMAZING but this year I had only one thing on my mind. POMODORO.

Hubby and I visited The Aberdeen for dinner with a girlfriend from out of town in November last year and the place was packed.  I thought it was a nice place with great energy and atmo and then…POMODORO.  That is really the only food I remember eating that night…I know there were appetizers and beer but (say it with me) POMODORO.

When Hubby asked me where I wanted to go I looked around at other places and menus (trying to cross another one off #TheList) but nothing else would cure my craving so reservations were made and the anticipation began.

When we arrived shortly after 7 I was surprised to see only 5 or 6 tables were taken considering how jam packed it was on a cold Thursday in November but I have a feeling it had been busy earlier that day/evening.

Though Creemore Springs Lager is my beer of choice a close second is Beau’s Lug Tread and I was more than a little happy to see that on the menu.  Nothing starts an evening off right like a tasty, cold pint of beer!

#BeerFace

Birthday #BeerFace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this but I’d spent a lot of time reviewing the menu before the actual day, planning exactly what I’d eat for my birthday dinner (I mean besides POMODORO) and I’d settled on the Buffalo Mozzarella Crostini to start and Creme Brûlée for dessert.

Turns out they’d run out of the crostini and after some further menu consultation we went with the Fried Calamari and Truffle Frites.

Fried Calamari at The Aberdeen Tavern

The ranch, grilled jalapeno & lime crema was so fresh and delightful

The calamari was tender, flavourful and crispy and the cheesecloth wrapped lemon was a nice touch but the real standout for me was the ranch jalapeño crema served for dipping.  It was substantial enough to feel like a real part of the dish but also light and fresh.

 

 

 

 

 

Truffle Frites at The Aberdeen Tavern

Nicely presented with fresh parm and chives in a cast iron skillet

I liked the presentation of the frites but were a bit less crispy than I like (there are those pesky texture issues again).  The parmesan and chive added something special but I think I’ve been ruined by the frites from my recent (somewhat hellish) experience in Montreal.  Damn you Queue De Cheval!!!!! *shakes fist*

 

 

 

 

 

Up next was the main event and it did not disappoint.  There are almost no words…

Angel Hair Pomodoro at The Aberdeen Tavern

A pomodoro so good it haunts my dreams

The angel hair pasta was done perfectly, did not stick together and it soaked up the sauce beautifully.  The tomato was slightly acidic, the basil fragrant and abundant, the buffalo mozzarella creamy an smooth and the butter bread crumbs added just enough buttery goodness and crunchy texture to make this a nearly orgasmic experience.  It took all of my willpower to save some to take for lunch the next day and I actually ended up eating it for breakfast because it was like torture being so close to that pasta without tasting it.  POMODORO = all of the yes.

When I excitedly ordered dessert I learned that they’d sold out of vanilla Creme Brûlée but luckily they did have chocolate!  I’d never have ordered it but my tastebuds had already geared up for a crisp sugar crust and they were not to be denied.  It was smooth and delicious, like a decadent chocolate pudding with sugary crystals all throughout.

Overall, an amazing birthday meal and my craving was cured…temporarily.  If you haven’t been for a meal at The Aberdeenwhat are you waiting for?

You can keep up with all the happenings via Twitter @AberdeenTavern and Facebook.

Wishing you Yumminess,

Tara

Where I Ate: Bar On Locke #HamOnt

 

I’m working my way through a backlog of dining experiences from #TheList in #HamOnt…early on I was too excited about the food to remember to snap photos so I’ll try to do this one justice with my words.

Bar On Locke #HamOnt

On a FREEZING cold Saturday night in March (I know lonnnnnnnnng overdue post) Hubby and I finally stopped in for dinner at Bar On Locke after having eyeballed it a number of times on our visits to Locke Street.  I ended up kicking myself for waiting so long!

The interior is beautiful and the atmosphere is relaxed; the seats are SUPER comfortable and the service is top notch.

They don’t take reservations but luckily we happened to time our arrival almost perfectly.  We took a seat at the bar for 10 mins and enjoyed a drink and a chat with the owner until we were whisked away to our super cozy booth for 2 (did I mention that the seats are REALLY comfortable?).

By 8:30 the place was packed and for good reason!

What we ate:

Crab cakes – I’m picky when it comes to crab cakes and texture is paramount for me.  These arrived with a beautiful crust and were tender and flavourful on the inside, served with a well spiced mayonnaise.

Spring rolls – Again with the texture (I have texture issues…) these crispy, light and flaky delights were served at the perfect temperature with a delicious sweet and spicy dipping sauce.  I could taste the full-flavour and didn’t have to sacrifice a single tastebud to a molten lava-like filling which I find all too common with spring rolls at most places.

Green salad – With earthy and perfectly dressed mixed greens, carrots julienne, red pepper, alfalfa sprouts, red cabbage and balsamic dressing, this is the kind of salad that makes me want to hit a farmers market and try to recreate it.

Pinot Noir – I can’t recall which we chose from the menu but it was light and slightly spicy and delicious with our meal.

You should eat here.  You can keep up to date on their specials via Twitter @BarOnLocke and Facebook.

Wishing you Yumminess,

Tara

 

Rib Steak with a Side of Sexism

I last visited Le Queue de Cheval 15 years ago and enjoyed it so much that it was the first restaurant that came to mind when Montreal was mentioned.  After my most recent visit…not so much.

I have two major issues with my experience at Le Queue de Cheval:

1.  Sexism
2.  Steakism

Sexism & Steakism

“Ladies Steak Knife”
“Steak Cooked Medium”
“Mens Steak Knife”
“Meh-sparagus”

The “Ladies Steak Knife” 

Yes, you read that right.  After a presentation about the various cuts of steak we excitedly placed our order.  We started with Caesar salad made table side (so very damn delicious, especially with the anchovies), followed by the 30 oz Big Lou’s Cut Rib Steak to share (more on this is in the next section), steak frites (the best french fries I have EVER had in my life.  No exaggeration.) and grilled asparagus (meh-sparagus).

When our utensils were placed on the table I was presented with a “ladies steak knife” (he actually called it that). It would do the job but was a far cry from the magnificent tool provided to my husband and the feminist inside me would not stand for that.  Imagine my surprise when the response to my request for the same knife was  “the manager won’t allow that”.  They would LITERALLY NOT GIVE ME THE SAME KNIFE AS A MAN.  Hubby traded knives with me just to spite them.

After the amazing salad I was so looking forward to the steak…so we carried on.

“Montreal medium = Rare?”

Once our steak arrived we immediately knew I wouldn’t be able to eat or enjoy it.  We’d ordered it done medium but what arrived was definitely rare, just slightly above blue. I realize that due to the size of the steak, cooking it to the medium I expected may impact the outer portion of the steak, however as it was served sliced I was fairly confident they’d be able to get it where I’d expect it to be if they put it back on the grill for a bit.  We nicely asked them to cook it a bit longer, explaining our definition of medium and it came back slightly more cooked on the outside but still rare in centre.  Not wanting to cause too much more of a fuss, I did my best to eat around the rare centre and was disappointed to find the steak wasn’t terribly flavourful.

After the meal, Hubby spoke with the manager about the way the steak was cooked but stopped the discussion after he asked us where we were from…

A few things you should know about me:

  1. I am a rib steak girl (don’t even try to make me order anything else)
  2. I am originally from Alberta (Caesar’s, Mercato, Hy’s…also Alberta AAA and Prime cuts aplenty)
  3. I spent 15 years living in Toronto (Harbour Sixty anyone? Barberians?)

Basically I’m confident in saying that I know my steak.  And that steak was not worth the price.

I won’t be back. The flavour just wasn’t there, also sexism.

 

Wishing you Yumminess,

Tara

The List (where to eat)

I moved to #HamOnt 18 months ago and I LOVE to eat.  If I could go out for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and snacks every single day I would!  This is the first time I’ve ever lived in a city where I do not also work and sadly it has been a challenge to figure out where to go and what to eat without plentiful co-worker recommendations. But then…Twitter.

I was dinking around on the internet, remembering I had a Twitter account when I realized it would make sense to find local Hamiltonians with similar interests (duh).  Within minutes I was learning from some of the best, had followed every restaurant I could find and The List was born.

I’ll be sharing what I like about of the places I visit and will update as I add new destinations to The List.

Is The List missing an amazing local eatery?  Tell me #wheretoeat on Twitter @BringingOrder

The List

Where to Eat #HamOnt

 

 

 

Let’s Try This Again…

So, it’s been nearly two-years since my last post.  I have been seriously remiss in finding the time to indulge my passion, organizing the hell outta everything.

Since last we caught up, I’ve moved to another city, into a larger but very similar home.  We had to redo the electrical through the house, getting rid of knob & tube wiring which entails punching holes in every wall and ceiling in the house as well as ripping out the ceilings in the basement.  Repainting and decorating all the rooms in a 2.5 storey century home has proven to be a challenge, in part because my job is demanding and in part because of the extra commute time involved.  I’m also very bad at documenting the before & after state of my projects.

I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with Pinterest in 2015 and not only am I looking at larger scale decorating projects but also simple tweaks to organizing that I can definitely use.  I went from a bungalow to a 2.5 storey home and feel like I’m already bursting at the seams!

On my list to tackle/finish before spring hits:

1. Spare Room/TV Room

2. Dressing Room

3. Craft/Sewing/Wrapping Room

I’ll start with the Craft/Sewing/Wrapping Room and will post before shots next week, along with my plans.

Stay organized!

Until next time,

Tara

Time Flies When You’re Working Every Waking Hour…

Wow.  Has it been that long since my last post?

As you may already know, I LOVE my job…perhaps too much…in fact we’d developed an unhealthy relationship over the last 2 months.

Until *very* recently I was working more hours than I was not working and that left me no time to think about blogging, let alone time to sit down and compose a post.  But it isn’t just blogging that suffered, I’ve not been on top of the laundry, the groceries or housekeeping; I’ve not been cooking dinner and preparing lunches for myself; I haven’t spent time on myself (mani/pedi’s, blowouts, organizing my lovely spring clothes/shoes/handbags).

burning-the-candle-at-both-ends

Bad habits…they’re bad.

So I bit the bullet and had the chat with my leader about burning the candle at both ends and guess what?  She was AMAZING about it.  I mean she’s been amazing about everything but she now asks me (every morning) if I worked the night before.  If my answer is yes, I need to justify why!

The funny thing is that it only makes me love this place more and want to work harder…but I’ll save that energy for when it’s really necessary instead of making it an everyday practice.

I heart Kobo.

Until next time,

Tara