I had friends in town over the New Years holiday and I managed to sample some new and old favorites.
We started the visit at the Nook. I had my first Jucy Lucy (I know, I know - but I had a now dead aversion to hamburgers). Wow - that's a good burger. The meat was juicy and tender. The cheese was molten, but I avoided a burned tongue. Most of my cheese managed to leak out of my burger, but it fell on my fries which I considered to be a bonus (Look! Cheese Fries!). My friend, Susan, had the wrist technique down and kept her cheese inside. One of us ordered onion rings and we split an order of cheese curds, too. I'd order both of those again. The onion rings were thick cut, crispy, and the onions were cooked through inside (a requirement for me). The cheese curds were not quite up to state fair standards, but they were really close and will make an acceptable substitute when the fair is not in town. Everything was washed down with Summit beer (except my pregnant friend, who enjoyed the 1919 root beer on tap).
We had late reservations at 112, and had to restrain ourselves from gorging since we were still pretty full. We split the sweetbreads, crostini w/anchovy and avocado, and cauliflower fritters and called it a night.
I finally made it to Kopplin's. I did not have this place as high on my list since I'm a very infrequent coffee drinker. But hearing about the hot chocolate with Rouge Chocolatier chocolate, I knew I needed to get there. What an amazing experience. I got the hot chocolate, someone else got a regular mocha, and the third got the specialty mocha with single source beans and chocolate. Everything is served at the perfect temperature to begin drinking immediately. The hot chocolate was deep and complex, like a really good whiskey. And the difference in the two mochas was stunning. The regular mocha was excellent. But when you tasted the specialty mocha, I swear, the rest of the world disappeared for a moment and you could only concentrate on the flavors on your tongue. It was more complex and perfectly balanced than any other beverage I've had. Just Wow.
We had breakfast at Day by Day cafe (which, in addition to being yummy, is really close to my house). Just a heads up that they are making their hollandaise sauce in house now. It got a thumbs up from the two who ordered Eggs Benedict. And if the cinnamon french toast shows up on the specials board, get it. There were huge swirls of cinnamon throughout the thick-cut bread.
We also ate at Hells Kitchen. Man, I love that place. I'm a fan of their bloody marys (an acquired taste apparently. No one else wanted one). I had my very own cup of the mahnomin porridge (after which I am guaranteed to have a good day). And someone else got the lemon ricotta pancakes, freeing me up to try something new. Since we were there on a Monday, we ordered from their lunch menu rather the brunch menu. I had the Ham and Pear Crisp - Wowza! Sweet, salty, smoky, melty, crisp perfection.
We raided El Burrito Mercado for our dinner one night and bought a roast chicken and carnitas and other taco fixings. My house smelled soooo good. The carnitas were especially lip-smacking.
We ended the trip with dim sum from Jun Bo and were joined by some friendly local chowhounds. I can't say that anything blew me away, but it was tasty and service was certainly prompt. I tried my first jellyfish, which was not what I was expecting (I thought it would be more jelly-like). I think my favorite was either the squash pancakes or the fried taro shrimp puff.
All in all a wonderful chow holiday.