Ohio Trip – October 2012
It has taken me long enough to get around to writing this foodie capsule of our trip to Ohio in October, but better late than never. We were driving from Missouri to Ohio to pick up a car and do some visiting, and of course, eating and dining out is always on the schedule. Happy to report all our meals were great, except for the first one. In fact, it was dreadful. Glad it was not a portent of the rest of our trip:
Sunday 10/07 Troy, Ohio: Hothead Burritos – yuck, gross, and double yuck. Really not going into what we had, but when we looked at each other and declared Taco Bell would have been better, you know it’s bad (and we disdain Taco Bell, so you get my meaning).
Monday 10/08 –Had to return the rental car to the Toledo Airport, and I had always wanted to eat at Dale’s Bar and Grill in downtown Maumee, Ohio, so we had lunch there. Dale’s has been around since 1920, and therefore has lots of character. We love old bars, and this one fit the bill and did not disappoint. I had a combo of the Bob Uecker sandwich and side salad. The Bob Uecker is grilled turkey breast, sautéed mushrooms and onions, melted Swiss, lettuce and mayo on a multi-grain bun. Really quite tasty. Even the side salad was good for a bar and grill. DH had the Reuben “Hurricane” Carter and crinkle-cut fries, and we also shared a side of onion rings. Had a couple beers each: I had a Yuengling Traditional Amber Lager (America’s oldest brewery in Pottsville, PA, since 1829), and then a Great Lakes Nosferatu (an Imperial Red ale), and DH had a Beck’s and a Miller Lite.
Monday 10/08 – Dinner was at Carmie’s Grill and Bar in Tiffin, Ohio. Carmie’s is the restaurant at the Camden Falls Conference Center with the Hampton Inn. I had a combo of the Beef brisket sandwich and upgraded to the Chef’s Onion Soup for a $1 more. The brisket was slow-roasted and seasoned and topped with coleslaw, sliced pickles, and North Carolina (?) BBQ sauce on a French roll. The onion soup was the standout: caramelized onions simmered in rich burgundy white wine beef stock and topped with fresh-baked croutons and mozzarella cheese. Wow, very good. DH had Black and Bleu Burger and Steak fries. Burger was a 1/3 –lb. ground chuck, cooked perfectly medium, with special seasoning and blue cheese, and topped with fried onion straws. For drinks, DH had a Beefeater martini, up, with three olives, which he deemed very good, along with his trusty Miller Lite, and I had a Golden Margarita and a Hex beer (amber/red ale) from Magic Hat Brewing in South Burlington, VT. They really had a good bottled beer selection, and plenty choices on tap. Plus, had some live entertainment from a local guy playing guitar and singing covers. Great food and lively atmosphere for a Monday night.
Tuesday 10/09 – Breakfast at Berardi’s in Sandusky, Ohio. Okay, this is one of my favorite places to eat when I’m back in Ohio visiting, but have never had the good fortune to eat breakfast there. It was definitely a winner: hubby had the Country Scramble (???, and I had the Mile High Quiche (broccoli and cheese), which came with fresh fruit and a bran muffin. We also shared a side of corned beef hash, which was actually made from real corned beef hash. That quiche really was a mile high; had to be the lightest, most luscious and fluffy quiche I’d ever eaten. Berardi’s is always top of the line.
Tuesday 10/09 – Dinner at Old Bag o’ Nails in Mansfield, Ohio. This is a small chain in Ohio with just a few locations. It’s patterned after a cozy New England fish house, complete with a real burning fireplace in one dining room. Hubby had all you can eat fish and chips (fries) and he deemed the fish excellent. Have to say it did look very crispy and the fish was very mild and white. My cousin had the salmon and he said it was very dry, and to be honest, it did look dry. He also had the clam chowder which he said was the worst clam chowder he’d ever had because it was too thin and didn’t taste like clams. I had the Tuesday special of lobster roll, and considering it was in Mansfield, Ohio, it wasn’t bad, but I know a native New Englander may not have been satisfied. The standout was the appetizer we got of the mussels/shrimp in a yummy buttery garlic sauce. DH and I wanted to tip up the shallow bowl and lick every drop of that sauce, but we did the best we could do with the hard crusty bread they gave us to sop it up. Drinks were a couple of Beefeater martinis, and Irish coffee for dessert. They had a wonderful list of rotating beers/ales on top, and I tried two of them, but I can only remember the Ommegang ale; I think the other was some type of pumpkin beer which I love as a seasonal brew.
Wednesday 10/10 – Lunch at Coldwater Café in Tipp City, Ohio. This place is really excellent, housed in an old bank in downtown Tipp City. I had the quiche of the day, which was Swiss cheese, paired with fresh fruit and bread. DH had another special, which was pulled pork (not bbq) topped with a vinegar cole slaw. Even though it wasn’t barbecued, he thought it was yummy. He had a glass of Beajolais Nouveau and I had some type of light European beer, but darned if I can remember the name because it was not a familiar one to me. Believe it or not, it was almost like a Prosecco. I had to go for Coldwater Café’s signature dessert which is the English tea cake with warm butter sauce. I can see why it’s their signature dessert, it is beyond yummy.
Thursday 10/11 – long-awaited and much-anticipated visit to the world famous Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield, Ohio. Our friends who live in Hamilton, Ohio, have been dying to take us there, and we’ve been dying to go. All I can say is WOW! If you ever have a chance to go to Jungle Jim’s, don’t hesitate…it is a foodie/chowhound heaven. 200,000 square feet of all the foods and drinks you could ever think of from around the world. I swear there is nothing they don’t have, and it’s quite entertaining, too. Above the British Isles part of the store, they had wax figures of Robin Hood and his Merry Men suspended above the section, and Vikings above the Scandinavian section. Words cannot really describe this place. It was started in 1972 as a farmer’s market and has now grown to this size and scope. There’s even a small 20-seat theatre that continually shows the Jungle Jim story. The restrooms are a hoot, too, because the door looks like a porta-potty door on the outside, concealing a regular multi-stall restroom on the inside. DH looked so cute standing on the outside waiting until a gentleman told him it was just a regular door and was okay to open it. Our friends had told us about that the night before, but he didn’t remember. Jungle Jim’s just opened a second location in the area, but I can’t remember what town. I told our friends they are so spoiled and fortunate to have a place like this near them. And the prices are incredibly reasonable, too. Some of the things we got are: duck salami, truffled chicken liver mousse, dried anchovies, green onion and radish kimchee, Snow Beauty nigori sake, Jungle Jim’s bloody mary mix, hot sauce, pasta sauce, four different kinds of jerky (ostrich, wild boar, kangaroo, and alligator), an assortment of olives from their massive olive bar, lots of different varieties of Aidell’s chicken sausage that we can’t find at home, Seven Hills bean coffee from Cincinnati, Tasty Joy wasabi green peas, turnips, Noel chocolate truffles, Walker’s ketchup-flavored potato chips from England, and many other things too numerous to mention. Hubby even got a few cigars from their huge humidor. This was a dream come true to go to Jungle Jim’s, and we are fondly dreaming of the next trip there.
Thursday 10/11 – late lunch at The Golden Lamb in Lebanon, Ohio. This was another place I’d been wanting to go for a long time, ever since I read about it in Ohio Magazine. After going to Jungle Jim’s, and then eating at the Golden Lamb, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. The Golden Lamb is the oldest inn and restaurant in Ohio. Some of the building dates back to 1754. Now it houses a restaurant, tavern, hotel, and museum. If you are into early American history, this is the place for you. A stay at the hotel is expensive, but dining there is fairly priced. Our friends whom we visited in Hamilton took us out for lunch, and here is what we had: we started with the relish platter, which consisted of Pickard Farms egg salad, olive trio, sweet pickled peppers, marinated mozzarella, and garlic crostini. For mains, one of our friends had the Golden Lamb Signature Salad, which includes candied pecans, green apples, and smoked cheddar, and the Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque with pecorino romano cheese. The other had the Creamy Garlic Caesar Salad with herbed croutons. I had the grilled Sky Haven Farms ham and aged Widmer cheese sandwich on salted rye and horseradish Chantilly, and also the Northern bean soup. The ham and cheese sammich was fantastic, but the soup was pretty common. DH had the Pennsylvania Farms lamb burger with toasted fennel with boursin cheese and tomato chutney. Wow, he graciously let me have a bite, and it was melt-in-your mouth goodness. For drinks, he had the Dogfishead IPA and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (his favorite pale ale), and I tried the Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter (love me some porter), and a Rivertown Dunkel from Rivertown Brewery in Lockland, Ohio, near Cincinnati.
Last stop on way home to Missouri, Friday 10/12 – lunch at Firefly Grill in Effingham, IL. I had the Blue Point Oyster Poorboy with Cajun seasoning, Creole aioli, and chopped lettuce on a “Pretzilla” bun (I love pretzel rolls for sandwiches, and theirs was one of the best). I also had the butternut squash soup, and the apple cider martini to drink. DH had the hot ham, cheese and bacon sub (thin sliced ham, smoked Gouda and Swiss, Nueske’s bacon, and Swedish mustard) with garlic fries. When he found out they had Hendricks gin, he had to have a martini. If you’re ever passing through Illinois on I-70, stop in Effingham and reward yourself at Firefly Grill. You’ll be glad you did. It’s real easy to find behind the Nike outlet. It’s a great respite from the weary road traveling.
I’m embarrassed it’s taken me so long to get this together to post. I only wish I had paid more attention to some of the details on the drinks, but all in all, it was a great trip for dining in the Midwest, and specifically, Ohio. Hope it will give other travelers some dining ideas. Salud!