The 5th Quarter: Little Chute, Wisconsin

(Him)  Let’s talk about the good stuff first, and that is pizza sauce even though we didn’t indulge on pizza for this visit.  I will say this was the saving grace of our recent visit, and its use this time was as a condiment for greasy cheese curds.  Whatever they do to the sauce to make it so thick and delicious and flavorful, they need to keep doing it.  This sauce is probably the best I’ve tasted in the valley.  We arrived thrust into the tradition of the Friday night fish fry and it appeared that there was only one waitress working about 35 tables so needless to say that the service was painfully slow.  We ordered curds as an appetizer and even though I said they were greasy they were a tasty treat.  These curds were a nice departure from the standard frozen off-the-Sysco-truck fare that most places serve.  I ordered a turkey bacon club sandwich that bordered on inedible.  The “toast” was as crunchy as a crouton on the top and as soggy and wet like a pancake on the bottom.  It’s hard to eat such a bipolar sandwich.  The cheese on the sandwich was so thin that you could actually see through it.  Even if the sandwich was tasty, I would have felt the lack of ingredients was not reflected in the price. On a side note, the crowd enjoyed the Brewers game and made it fun to watch so I would suggest this place if you want to watch a sporting event and eat greasy curds.  I’ve eaten here two times and the standard seems to be good apps, bad entrees.

Sauce…..10 out of 9   Television per human ratio………pretty darn good    returnability…….4.75

(Her) The 5th quarter is close to our home and I was so sick of our “where do you wanna go? I don’t know where do you wanna go?” argument that I chose it out of exasperation. I was sort of hoping to get pizza here since my darling hubby gave up pizza for lent and I subsequently have not had it either.  It’s funny how someone can rave about pizza sauce and then order a turkey club and be disappointed. I immediately helped myself to some popcorn from the Valley Popcorn machine so I wasn’t all that worried about how slow the service was because I f@#$ing  LOVE Valley Popcorn.  I wasn’t too fond of the limp and greasy cheese curds and actually thought that for a moment they had brought clam strips out. They do come on a bed of fries to help soak up the grease though so you feel like you are getting a good deal on those curds.  I ordered a perch sandwich and a cup of clam chowder.  The perch was great, I had the option to have it breaded or beer battered.  I should have skipped the sandwich and the clam chowder was unique and more of a rich bisque therefore, some of the best I’ve had in the valley. I liked the fact that there were multiple side options including veggies and dip.  I wish more places did this.   I did feel bad for the poor waitress who was trying to keep up and even though the service was slow, she did manage to bring us plenty of drink refills.  What restaurant doesn’t know that they should have extra help on a Friday night?  I will say that watching the Brewer game here was fun.  The crowd was a bit older and really intensely focused on this game and it reminded me of what sports was like before my husband killed that too.  Alas, I will probably never be back to taste their pizza and watch their many televisions. Perhaps I will have to take a friend.
Value….6.99 for a perch sandwich with two butterflies of perch and that included a cup of soup. I’d say that’s pretty darn good on a Friday night.  Service….Understandably slow, but you could tell the poor girl was trying.  Popcorn…..TEN

5th Quarter on Urbanspoon

Masa: Minneapolis, Minnesota

(Him) Well this was a unexpected choice of restaurant while visiting the big city but I sure are glad we ended up here. Being country mice and all, I would have never have figured we’d plop our tails into this fancy establishment. I’m sure the wife will give you the full lowdown on how we got here but I’ll just jump into the review……
Figuring the location in downtown Minneapolis you’d figure they would have made this more of a recognizable or memorable storefront as I’m sure they have hella rent to pay. But alas poor Yorick, if you blink you might miss it despite it’s many picture windows. We did not have reservations and they were needed, however since we got there early enough and looking like dazed eyes tourists they welcomed us into the fold…or perhaps they saw my stomach of some girth and decided it would be huge sale day and welcomed us with open arms. It was fancy schmancy, well as hoity toity as faux Mexican restaurant can get I suppose. ( Are you impressed that I busted out fancy schmancy and hoity toity in the same sentence yo! ?)
I never realize or pay attention to décor but this place was white. Like the pearly gates white, everywhere was white so if you are a spiller you will be outed here for sure. Evidence of your clumsiness will show, so be especially careful while eating here. I started off with a girly drink drunk…some beverage called a Bellini. I only ordered it because I am a sucker for all things Blood Orange which this contained in spades. At 8 American dollars I should have been appalled at the price however this concoction of Champaign and blood orange puree went down smooth. So smooth that I ordered a second one for good measure.  They offered free chips and salsa which was unexpected for such a high class joint. The green salsa tasted green and fresh but I’m not sure I’m into green and fresh, so I can’t give it high marks. The red salsa was probably some chipotle concoction and that was freakin outstanding. MORE PLEASE! So I ate a lot of that.
I am not sure of the name of the entre that I ordered but it was mostly awesome. It was a filet of slow roasted pork shoulder covered in a mole sauce. I’m not sure which was better, the perfectly cooked pork or that sauce….that sauce…….oh that sauce. In hindsight it was probably the sauce. It was cooked or served? on a banana husk or some type of husk. I have no opinion on that or if it was a presentation thing or what.  The dish also had fried pineapples that were a perfect compliment to the pork. The only complaint I had was the refried black beans were inedible. They were cold and bland. Oh well, no one is perfect.
We also shared 3 deserts here….Tres Leches cake, Buttery caramel crepes and churros with Mexican chocolate. WOW! Each bite better than the next. This was a food orgasm for sure and pretty sure I was making an O face while eating them. I cannot highly recommend these items enough. All in all I would go back to this place in a heartbeat.
Value…..6.2……I suppose for downtown Minneapolis dinner for 4 at $150 with tip is decent but I have nothing to base it on. Food…….8.38 (this could have been higher if I would have entered on a good bean day)  The caution factor 2.71……Lose the white, It’s hard to enjoy the eats while you be worried about the white.

Midwest Mexican Food Roundup: Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota

That’s right folks, we are finally back.  Seems like the common thread these days is that when we do want to go out to eat it’s usually for Mexican food, and it seems to be a trend that isn’t going away.  Ultimately, I don’t like to pay for food that I could cook at home, but Mexican food remains a mystery to me.  Even if I could figure it out, most of the recipes have been in the family forever, they are complex and require many simmering hours on the stove.  Who has time like that for the off chance that it might taste somewhat similar to what you had? We thought we should share our opinions with you even if you didn’t ask.  You know, before there was a food duo I don’t think the hubby ever even had Mexican food.  He claims he didn’t even like Taco Bell.  Anyway, here’s our list of tops and flops–our entire relationship using Mexican food as the context.

Taco Burrito Mexico: Green Bay, Wisconsin

(Her) My first foray into authentic Mexican food that wasn’t a chain restaurant.  Just a little shack making the biggest burritos ever and all made to order.  The entire menu was a la cart and the fact that I’d bring some back with me to the UW for later eating probably contributed to my freshman 15.

(Him) Perfectly fine Mexican joint as long as you go to the one on Webster Avenue.  Everything else gets a solid “meh”.  I wouldn’t complain if I had to go here again. If this restaurant were a Monopoly property it would be St. James place and the West location would be Vermont Avenue because they charged us for chips and salsa.

El Patron: Downtown Appleton, Wisconsin

(Her) A greek place that couldn’t make it trying to be a greek/Mexican place and not doing either of the traditions well.  Just give up already.

(Him) So they are on the Ave…I’m sure the rent is high however so should expectations on the quality of food. A miserable fail, I can’t help but be harsh as in my years of eating I’ve noticed that Mexican food is hard to screw up. If it’s average then make it fast. This spacious eatery offered neither deliciousness or speedy service on a mundane afternoon. The prices were way too high for what you got. No reason to drop two twenties on a lunch in Appleton unless you are getting a 4 course or something.

Some random food truck : Denver, Colorado.

If you stumble off your plane, through your hotel, and into a waiting limo and then find yourself in the hub of Denver’s mall and think “sure I’ll have the tamale from this food truck and yes, I’ll have the green sauce” DONT. Even though we think of Coloradons as  a bunch of beer drinking hippies, they are truly southwestern and their green sauce is not the mild tomatillo sauce I know and love.  It is a green chili sauce with a pension for heat and no amount of sour cream can save you.

Mr. Taco: Downtown Appleton, Wisconsin

(Her) This was reminiscent of my beloved Taco Burrito Mexico, but without the quality or seasoning.

(Him) A 9 PM visit on a Saturday night and we were the only ones there. It was a little place with counter seating and a very limited menu. The owner was  friendly enough, but all the meats had onions so the menu was further constricted. I had about the worst quesadilla I’ve ever done had. The bean dip was blah. I do not recommend.

Antojitos Mexicanos: Downtown Appleton

(Her) The  current winner of my affection.  You’ll find flavors here that you won’t find at any other restaurant. Antojitos serves  authentic street food  as well as recognizable fare but with  multiple sauces and salsas to choose from and all are done well. Seems to be that many parts of Mexico are represented here. This is one of the few places around town authentic enough to serve Barbacoa and lengua tacos, gorditas (that don’t look anything like they are from Taco Bell), and Tortas.  The pickled vegetables with cactus in them are amazing. They will make amazing guacamole at your table if that kind of thing impresses you.  If so, you should get out more or cook more.  The restaurant is cozy and small and with it’s location off of College Avenue, I’m still confused as to why it’s not always packed.  Definitely a hidden gem.

(Him) Small cozy joint that we almost overlooked.  A pork and pineapple quesadilla doesn’t sound all that exciting, but their spin on it takes it to a whole new level of culinary masterpiece.  High praise, high praise indeed.  I’m at a loss for words because of its greatness.

El Azteca:Darboy

(Him) Our friends the Hs love this place…I’m not sure why. This is a super fast place I’ll give it that. They have good Iced Tea. so they have that going for them. The food is just so-so. Refills come slowly. Good luck getting seconds on chips and salsa even with a big group. They are conveniently located next to the movie theatre so if you are date nighting it up, you could do worse. No reason to go unless you are in a hurry to eat subpar food.

Taco Loco #2:Beloit

(Her) see previous blog.  Still a contender with high ranks.

El Rey:Milwaukee
(Her) see previous blog dedicated to this place.  This is still one of my favorite due to the authenticity of the surroundings.

(Him) I was impressed with this Mexican supermart and taqueria upon entry. The produce section was bar none and had so many items you can’t find around here. The meat section has meats sliced so thin you can read your comic books through it. How can you not like a place that has all the tripe your heart desires? The taqueria is the old school equivalent to an old Kmart eatery from the 70s.  The servers speak very limited English, and trying to engage her in a conversation about onions was futile.  I pointed to the flautas on the menu and she brought me Fajitas, but to her credit there were no onions. It was ok.

Masa:Minneapolis

(Her) We only went here because the hubby had won a gift certificate.  I really wished the food would have matched the upscale atmosphere, but in retrospect I should have ordered something different than tacos. We ordered three different desserts, and the crepes with goat’s milk caramel and pecans was orgasmic. We ended up dipping everything in the amazing chocolate sauce from the churros.  The tweens we brought along were a little overwhelmed by the fancy atmosphere, but we didn’t feel uncomfortable having them there.  They really liked the fancy bathroom with an infinity sink, and thought it was funny when the servers would rush and pick up their napkins when they left the table.  I guess we are all just a bunch of Wisconsin hicks!  They perked up during the dessert course.

(Him) Good time, free food is always great.  I had some amazing slow roasted pork shoulder in banana leaf served in all its glory; without all the garnishes and what not. Could not have been happier, feeling like a high falootin’ Minneapolite.  My drink of blood orange juice was so good I ordered two.  So glad they accommodated us since we didn’t have reservations.  Definitely the Park Place of Mexican joints. Perhaps Pennsylvania Avenue if I hadn’t been drinking.

The list definitely goes on with Mexican places that we have eaten at and then never returned for one reason or another.  (Mostly onions) But honestly if these places would have been good, I would have pushed to go back.  like Chinese food, I often get the impression that Mexican food has been dumbed down for our American tastes.  I sometimes feel that other ethnicities are laughing at us going ape shit over fresh and local trends since it is what they have always done.  The places we seem to enjoy are the ones who give the finger to the Americans and serve what they want to eat. We felt that Masa deserves a review all it’s own (especially since the hubby has such a good draft of one waiting in the wings) so we’ll post that separately.

What we put in our mouth down South. Haikus by Him.

We are about to embark on a mini whirlwind vacation to the Twin Cities and as we start our food adventure it reminded me that we have not blogged in such a long time.  I found this gem in the draft pile.  These were written by my infrequently contributing husband and I think it’s a fun read without my interpretations, but I did add some pictures.  P.s The trip was a long driving trip as usual but this time our dog joined us.

(Him)

We recently went down south. The food was fair to great. Here are a few Haikus on the eating experiences there.

Taqueria Los Comales     East Chicago Indiana
order two tacos
qué fat man must mean five
five tacos so good

Steak and Shake (chain) Clarksville IN
OlDSCN4480d Friend I miss You
Tasty Steakburger Oh Yeah!
Come Back up North please

Moby Dick   Bardstown KY
Fried Bologna Samwich
greasy artery clogger
I’d do it again

Kennys Corner Somewhere on the KY/TN Border

DSCN4550Boiled Peanuts yuck
yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck
grow on you they do

American Legion Post 17 Gallatin TN

Best Pit Pork Ever
goes up for seconds here here
Best Pit Pork ever

Loveless Cafe   Nashville TNDSCN4596

Good not great biscuits
reputation proceeds them
DSCN4587Elvis ate here once

Jacks Bar-B-Que On Broadway Nashville TN

DSCN4670

Darn tasty fixins
Lots of bark when asked Awesome
upper echelon

Pucketts Grocery and Restaurant

DSCN4699

Way overated
so so burger but friendly
loose dog fights my dog

Hagy’s Catfish Hotel Shiloh TN

DSCN4736No Haiku on this place, my ham was too salty
but the Caramel Pie here was the greatest  thing I’ve ever tasted in my life
no exaggeration
Just seek it out for nirvana

Firehouse Subs (Chain) Chattanooga TN

Nothing special here
warm subs for south sub lovers
a means to an end

Nana and Pa’s Drive In  Fall Creek Falls TN

wanted to like it
food did not hold up its end
tiny roadside hut

DSCN4921

Butcher Block Meats & Cheese: Part 2-The Results are in.

**Meats and cheeses update:  opened the beef sticks in the car and they were really kinda juicy which I do not prefer at all….put them on a drying rack at home for about 6 hours and they were just perfect.

I cut up some meats and cheeses while the dog was upstairs asleep and she did not come running until I opened the St. Jeanne cheese. It was fun to watch her try to figure out where that funky aroma was coming from and it was so strong that I immediately cut off the rind and gave her some and threw out the rest of the rind.  I think she really wanted to roll in it.  I’m sure I broke some sort of cutting the cheese etiquette, but I have to say, this cheese is pretty funky and I don’t think I would seek it out again.

I enjoyed the goats milk cheddar and ate it plain and melted over the top of my Mexican lasagna…..I think I actually enjoyed it better with food than on it’s own.

The highlight of the meats was the Bolzano salami. The hubby wasn’t fond of anything I got from Butcher Block but he did say that the salami was the best he’s ever had “in his life”.  High praise from such a picky eater.

If you like bologna you’ll most likely love Mortadella.  It’s not really a snack meat so much as it would be better on a sandwich served on focaccia the way I’ve seen it suggested.  With it’s big chunks of fat, it’s got a weird melt-in-you-mouth texture that may creep some people out.

Finally, the hot Coppa was ok.  I have to admit that I’ve been addicted to Capicola ham that I’ve been buying at Festival foods that is in no way authentic, but I actually prefer it over the real stuff.  I would have preferred Butcher Block’s even hotter.  Textures don’t usually freak me out, but I prefer the ham like texture on the fake stuff to the stringy neck meat chunks of the authentic stuff.  I eat the fake stuff on crackers with cheese, and again I think I’d prefer the authentic stuff on a sandwich where it’s texture can be better masked (er, complimented)….I’m also thinking it may be more awesome heated up and crispy topped with cheese, olive oil and basil.

Mercado El Rey/Taco Loco: Milwaukee, WI

FlagLogo(Her)  I ventured out on  a solo trip and  decided to check out what is considered one of the best Mexican restaurants in Milwaukee.  It just happens to be a taqueria called Taco Loco located inside Super Mercado El Rey.  I am specifically mentioning this because this wasn’t immediately obvious to me or my GPS.  Anyway, to those of you who read our blogs, I may have solved the mystery as to why the Taco Loco we love to visit in Beloit, Wi is actually called “Taco Loco #2.” Continue reading

Butcher Block Meats & Cheese: Oshkosh, WI

bbmac(Her) Just walked in the door with my bag of cheese and charcuterie after finally stopping at Butcher Block Meats & Cheese in Oshkosh and was more than happily greeted by the dog who must have thought she hit the jackpot.  As I munched on a beef stick on the way home, I decided I’d help a brother out and blog about the experience. Continue reading