Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Chicken Cafe - Chicken, Alaska

All of downtown Chicken, Alaska - What more can I say? Chicken Café --- Chicken, Alaska The Chicken Café is not on your usual dining route; in fact it’s not on any route at all. That is to say unless you are deliberately setting out to go there, you won’t get there. Spartan but comfortable, the Chicken Cafe offers meals in the heart of the Alaska wilderness.It is off the Alaska Route 5, the Taylor Highway, where you begin an epic journey along the Top of the World Highway. You can also access it by small plane as there is a small local airstrip. Since the highway is not maintained from October – March the café is open for business mid March-early October. The café is on the main road, alongside the general store, bar and mercantile; the entire town site. Void of any frills or modern conveniences, it reminds you of a late 40s early 50s small diner. This café has been featured on several television specials, the kind of programs that show seldom visited and hard to get to attractions. The Chicken Café proudly boasts that acclaim and being the best food around as well. Since it’s the only food purveyor around I guess they can safely maintain that boast. Having spent the night at the Chicken R.V. campsite we were eager for a hot cup of coffee and one of The world famous, plate sized Chicken, Alaska cinnamon roll. their acclaimed plate-size cinnamon rolls. Linoleum covers the floors; several booths line the wall and the menu is a chalk board over the main counter. It’s late in the season and they were closing up soon so the day’s menu choices were limited. Otherwise, the hungry traveler had a wide choice of items to choose from and all are served trucker style, large portions. The coffee was hot and the cinnamon rolls warm and they indeed fill the plates. They were not oozing with that creamy white, sweet topping common to cinnamon rolls. The coffee was good, not great, but good and the rolls I found to be a bit much for a smaller appetite, but to a person with a large appetite they would certainly fill the bill. At another table, down the aisle from us, a couple was having ham and eggs and offered that they had been perfectly prepared. The owner, a rather The efficient and charmingly irascible cook of the Chicken Cafe.boastful lady, proudly proclaimed throughout our stay how impressive she and her establishment were. Her menu was modest but for the area quite adequate; Hamburgers with a choice of bacon, cheese or the 40 mile variety with a slab of ham; reindeer bratwurst, chili con carne, BLT, hot dogs to name a few. A small assortment of salads, including chicken and Greek, were offered. All the lunch plates were served with homemade potato salad or coleslaw and a pickle spear. Prices were within a reasonable range with hamburgers from $8.95 to $14.95, adding a dollar for cheese. Hot dog plate for $5.95; without salad was $2.95. Salads were $9.95 and a soup and sandwich combo for $6.95. To top off your lunch she makes homemade pies from frozen ingredients. Since she is not on the main trucking road all items are local, cold-storage or frozen The Chicken Cafe Menu - to avoid sticker shock, remember just how far out in the boonies they are.for long mileage transport from the nearby township. Nonetheless, from gossip supplied by locals, they are mighty tasty. It’s an experience you need to try, at least once, if ever you find yourself in that area. The nearest “big” town would be Tok Alaska. The next closest would be Fairbanks, Alaska so plan accordingly. You owe it to yourself to visit Chicken just to say you’ve been there and learn about the name. The Chicken Mercantile offering many unusual gift and souvenir items. It is heated by a wood burning barrel stove.The Chicken Mercantile offers souvenirs and other memento of your trip to the far reaches of the Alaskan frontier. The area around Chicken also features gold mining exhibits such as this restored dredge, The Pedro Dredge, an interesting tour. There are no hotels but the area does have a privately operated RV and camping A relic of Chicken's gold mining days, the restored Pedro Dredge; an interesting tour.ground.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sumisu - Pocatello, Idaho

Sumisu, an unassuming storefront store in oldtown Pocatello. Sumisu 309 E. Center Pocatello, Idaho 83201 Located in the historic old town section of Pocatello Sumisu occupies a small corner store front. The inside is minimum at best, dark gray colored walls, a few paper lanterns hang from the ceiling and a miss match of tables and chairs. There is a small prep area with about 2-3 stools and the kitchen is partially open, all in all I was not impressed with the atmosphere and quite frankly expected much more. We were greeted by friendly staff that seated us quickly and gave us our menu’s and almost as quickly returned asking if we were ready to Salt and pepper calamari. order. Sending her away she returned in a couple of minutes, so to give us breathing time I ordered an appetizer of salt and pepper calamari with hot tea for me and iced for my daughter. The order came back to us in less than 5 minutes with the hot and iced tea arriving a tad bit sooner and of course we were not yet ready to order. I do believe by this time our waitress understood that we actually wanted to read the menu and decide what we wanted instead of just jumping in and opting for the first item in view. We decided on the Godzilla roll ($12.00), a crab and spicy tuna, shrimp, tempura shrimp, avocado, cucumber, asparagus roll topped with seared tuna and finished with sweet soy and wasabi aioli and the 6 piece Sashimi ($9.00) which was the fish of the day or better, what was available. To our good fortune we got Salmon and Hamachi, which for the price was okay but not a Godzilla Roll.great value. Presentation was nice, served on a long oval white platter the roll was about 10” in length, with the tail of a tempura shrimp bringing in the end of roll, a cute arrangement. The aioli was drizzled in the platter and dollops of wasabi and ginger rounded out the dish. As one can imagine with all of the ingredients listed above the roll was quite large and taking the usual one bite per slice was a bit much. Even though I opted for the first one this way I cut the rest in two so I could chew and breathe at the same time. The flavors of the ingredients were fresh and artfully arranged and with the aioli it was an enjoyable taste. Let me not forget the salt and pepper Calamari which was tempura battered and fried to a golden brown and paired with the sweet chili sauce was absolutely suburb. Tea bags instead of loose are used and they offer iced green tea, the usual assortment of soft drinks and a children’s menu offering corn dogs, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and teriyaki cSix-piece sashimi plate.hicken are available. Prices range from $3.00 to $18.00 for the Sushi combo plate and they offer the usual rolls, sushi, nigiri sushi, and basic maki and combo platters. The mid-day diner can enjoy a bento lunch consisting of house soup, house salad, tempura vegetables, steamed rice, California/tuna/spicy/tuna roll until 4PM. Only when our meal was done did we notice a chalk board to the right of the door which offered several really nice specials one of which was a soft shell crab combo. Alas there was no mention of any specials to us or as we listened to the other diners, they do not offer beer, or wine. Rating: Food 8, atmosphere 3, service 6

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cedars of Lebanon

A nice glass of wine with dinner.Cedars of Lebanon
152 E. 200S
Salt lake City UT

A middle-eastern restaurant in down town Salt Lake offering lamb, beef, chicken and vegetarian dishes. Seating is at tables, booths and they have a private room with floor seating and you can arrange for private parties. This was my first time and my son’s second time and I looked forward to trying out the dishes.
Persian rugs adorn the walls and highly polished wooden floors give you the impression and feel of the Middle East. Sadly we dinned on Sunday and therefore missed the belly dancers who perform on Friday and Saturday only. The lunch menu offers American sandwiches, ham, pastrami, roast beef and the like. Also featured are Middle Eastern delights such as Kafta Kebab (Ron with a cold frosty glass.ground beef mixed with parsley, onion and spices, charbroiled and served on pita bread0, Cheese Burek (layered filo dough with melted cheese, baked and served with rice and vegetables) to name a few. The dinner menu offers appetizers of Tabbouleh, Falafel, Humus Dip, and Baba Ghanouj as well as many others.
You can pick your main entrée individually or for two which is a cost saver; we picked the lamb and chicken kebab for two which is served with basmati rice. It was a difficult choice since they offer such delicacies as lamb tagine (a slow-cooking lamb stew in a curry sauce flavored with a blend of aromatic spices such as turmeric, cumin, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon) or Pastilla (a Moroccan dish of chicken in a special sauce with spices and folded on filo dough). To start off our dining adventure we picked a bugler Lamb and chicken kebob for two.dish with tomatoes and cumin served with pita bread which I found to be extremely tasty.
The kebabs are marinated and charbroiled and served atop the basmati rice, I found the beef to be succulent and moist but the chicken was a little dry or perhaps a bit over cooked but still very tasty. The combination of the kebabs pairs well with the aromatic basmati rice and assorted vegetables. The potions are ample for large eaters and they offer to go boxes for your left overs. We paid $29.95 for our dual serving which is slightly less than if ordered separately.
If you have never eaten Middle-Eastern food you owe it to yourself to try out The Cedars of Lebanon or if you are an experienced diner then you are in for a memorable time. Top off the meal with a nice glass of wine and a good dinner companion; nothing could be better.

The dinner for two provides adequate servings even for a big appetite

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Top of the World Restaurant

The Top of the World Restaurant sits atop a very tall tower.
Top of the World Restaurant
Stratosphere Hotel and Casino
Las Vegas, Nevada

The Stratosphere Hotel and Casino is the tallest free standing observation tower in the United States. It is 1,149 feet tall. The Top of The World Restaurant, a rotating structure, is situated at 800 feet and boasts a 360 degree panoramic view of the metropolitan Las Vegas area. It makes a complete turn every 80 minutes. Diners ride a dual elevator to their destination at an astounding 1800 feet per second, or in simpler terms, 2-3 floors per second. Situated at the east end of the strip it’s the closest to the historic Fremont Street District.

Our reservations were for a table 0n the outside rim closest to the window and the view; one can also request the inner rim. The restaurant rotates so slowly you are unaware of its movement. An inner ring rotates clockwise with a cart showing samples of the lusciously decadent deserts offered. Once seated, we ordered a bottle of wine and sat back to take in the view and relax before ordering our entrees. The menu offers separate entrée ordering or you can opt for a tasting menu at a fixed price. We each ordered from the general menu so we could sample the various dishes.
You have several choices for salads and we chose Caesar’s all around; they had crisp greens, a lovely hint of anchovies and fresh grated cheese. I ordered the pheasant, Michael and Uncle Mark the rack of lamb, so I got to taste the lamb twice, goody for me. The pheasant was cooked to perfection with nice grill marks, it was moist and tender with a marvelous mild taste. The rack of lamb stole the show; it was tender, juicy with a mild taste absolutely a young scrumptious lamb.

The dining table with a view.You can order steaks, surf and turf, pork chops, free range chicken, duck breast, salmon, cod, prawns, lobster to name a few, there is something for everyone. Several savory sides such as Foire Gras tater tots with homemade ketchup, yam puree with brown butter and pan seared mushrooms with garlic to name a few. The menu’s change so you can experience something new each time you go. Items are ordered separately so you can eat as much or little as you like, serving sizes are adequate for a robust eater.

The dessert cart.Prices are $15.00 to $40.00 for appetizers, salads around $12.00, entrees from $40.00 to $80.00 with sides at about $10.00. The tasting menu with selected wines runs around $130.00 per person. Reservations are required and business casual attire is required. We devoured our meals with gusto and finished our wine wishing we could linger longer. Sadly, a mandatory engagement beckoned us to depart; perhaps that was better or I would have tried one of those sumptuous desserts.

Hotel and casino entrance Stratosphere and Top of the World Restaurant