Category Archives: restaurant review

Ladies Who Lunch: Frasca Caffe

Laura and I are aiming for more frequent lunches together this year, and we started off the year with lunch at the Frasca Caffe.  I did my research and it looked like they had lots of yummy options, but I was worried about the “small space” description on the website.  I thought maybe it was a tiny coffee shop with some food behind glass and 2 tables.  Sometimes on my lunch break, when I used to leave the house on a semi-daily basis, I would think it was a good idea to go to a coffee shop for lunch and 100% of the time I would look at pre-made sandwiches and salads behind a glass case and get really sad and indecisive.  Then I would end up getting coffee and a pastry and still eating whatever lame lunch I had brought and then needing a nap.   I was pretty sure that wouldn’t happen with Laura because she would either be able to talk me into something, or we would just leave and sensibly pick some other place.  But everything worked out beautifully, because although I could stand in the middle of the Frasca Caffe and touch all the walls if I had, like, 5 to 7 foot long arms, there were three tables not 2.  AND the food behind the glass looked really really good, and they made our sandwiches to order so it was not in any way sad.

I thought it was a little odd that there were three people working behind the counter, when it wasn’t really very busy, but maybe we were there early.  They were all very friendly and helpful and we appreciated the full disclosure, “Would you like a pickle with that for 30 cents extra?”  No one wants to be caught by surprise by a pickle surcharge.

So – what did we get?  I ordered the Toast Panini Caldi, which was basically a hot cheese and tomato sandwich.  The bread was delicious, and the cheese was delicious, but I kind of wished it was 100% melted.  The tomato was for texture, because it’s January.  I liked it.  Laura had the Verdure, which was mozzarella and grilled vegetables.  I didn’t order that because I had no idea how to pronounce it.  I think she liked it, I may have forgotten to ask.  I know there was one type of vegetable in there (we think eggplant) that was un-bite-through-able.   That’s not a good quality in a sandwich vegetable in my opinion.

But it was a very cute interior, and I do want to go back to try some of the breakfasty stuff and the pastries.  In an alternate universe, I’d bike there for a pastry and coffee before doing some shopping on Pearl Street or working on my latest volume of poetry.  This alternate universe may exist in the Spring, but it snowed here this week and it’s cold and I’m in one of those, I may never leave the house again moods.  Although, I do have plans for lunch with Laura again soon.

 

 

Beet It

Dave had the beet burger at the Kitchen Next Door this summer and said it was fantastic.  I am new to beets, and I don’t like hamburgers, so it wasn’t something I would think to order, but I did when my mom was in town this fall, mostly to freak her out.  Fantastic.  The beets are earthy, the goat cheese is strong, the arugula is perfect.  I am new to beets in the last 3 years, and the way I started to like them was roasted on a salad with goat cheese and pine nuts.  The beet burger is like that perfect salad, but you can eat it with your hands, it’s filling, satisfying, delicious.

When I say “I don’t like hamburgers”, I mean, well, let’s leave it at YUCK.  However, I do like the idea of hamburgers.  It would be nice to have a go to meal to order and 90% of all restaurants instead of always having to hem and haw and decide things.

So, imagine my excitement on Thursday when I saw a beet burger on the specials menu at the Southern Sun.  Beet! Burger!  Ok, I wasn’t that excited but I was intrigued.  Were they copying the Kitchen Next Door?  Was it an homage?  I asked the waiter if the beet burger was as good as the one at the Kitchen Next Door and he said I would have to tell him.  The beets didn’t have as strong of a flavor, but the sauce was really yummy.  Garlicky.  There appeared to be some pumpkin seeds in the beet burger, which I thought was interesting and added texture and flavor.  A decent amount of arugula.  The only thing I didn’t like was that when I took a bite, a bunch of chunks fell out in every direction.   But then I ate those pieces with a fork and cleaned my plate.  It was very good, a perfect size, delicious, filling.

I’m not sure which one was better, but I am excited to have the option of ordering beet burgers all over town.

 

 

Hot Nose!

We went to South Dakota for a long labor day weekend, and I was ecstatic to learn we’d be passing through Wheatland, Wyoming on the way there.  Years ago, possibly 10 years, I had an Italian cream soda at Terra Grano in Wheatland, Wyoming and it was fantastic.  (Terra Grano is Land Wheat in Italian.  Possibly.)  What better way to kick off a totally Americana trip to see giant heads in a rock, then by planning to have lunch where I once had a delicious drink a decade ago?

Dave was skeptical, and I have to admit, the cream soda didn’t change my life, like it did the first time.  But we did have an laugh so hard you cry experience that made it more than worthwhile.

We ordered cream sodas all around, and two pizzas.  Oh, and we got there after 1:00 pm, so we were all preeeeeetty hungry by the time the food arrived.  Luke took a bite of his pizza, the cheese sort of flipped up onto his nose, he started fanning his face and yelling, “HOT NOSE!! HOT NOSE!!”  Being the loving, nurturing, caring mother that I am, I started laughing.   Then, Luke followed up with a giant belch before he got up to get some more napkins.   Jack was laughing too, and he let out a world weary sigh and an, “Ooooh.  This is tooooo funny for me.”  The sort of thing your Great Aunt would say as she tittered and dabbed at her eye with a hankie.  That made me laugh a little harder, when Luke got back with the napkins, I had already almost shed a tear.  At that moment, Luke chose to say, “Excuse me” for the belch that happened so long ago, I had almost forgotten about it.  Then it was all over.  It was a laugh like the Big-Lebowski-quoting-coffee-spitting-great-partly-saying-wedding of 1998.  The one where I had to put my head under the table so I could focus long enough to chew and swallow my food in order to fully laugh without the very real fear of choking.

We laughed, cried, pulled ourselves together, made eye contact with each other, and started again.  Many times.

Hot Nose!  The new family vacation memory.

I WANT TO BE IN CHARGE OF THE CAKE

Jack yelled “I WANT TO BE IN CHARGE OF THE CAKE!”  during a fit yesterday.  I took a moment to savor the fact that I have reached the stage of my life where I am in charge of the cake.  It’s a good place to be.  Except when 3 year olds are freaking out about it.  But even then, life is good.

I shared the story with a co-worker and he reminded me of this gem, The God of Cake.

Dave’s birthday cake was The Strawberry Margarita Cake from Kim and Jakes.   It was either incredibly moist, or slightly undercooked.  (Dave votes for undercooked and he let me eat the last piece, so…)  The jury is still out, but didn’t concern ourselves with details.  It was very pretty, a little too bitter for me the first day, but it tasted better as the days went on.  Odd that it lasted so many days, I guess.

>Ladies Who Lunch: Dish

>Today was scheduled to be the much anticipated Cafe Aion, but the forces of darkness worked against me. The first problem was that I only blocked an hour off my calendar and ended up with meetings scheduled right up to noon and starting again at 1:00. Not enough time to speed across town, park, order, eat and get back. The second force of darkness was what we in the IT field call a TOTAL NIGHTMARE. That’s the technical term for when you finally get a bunch of users in your new system and everything crashes, and 50 people send you a message about it, and 49 of those messages say, “I am seeing the same problem, can you email me when it’s fixed?” If Bill Gates were to do one thing for humanity, it would be do remove the Reply All button from Microsoft Outlook.

Fortunately, I used my mad troubleshooting skillz to determine that the DATA disk group wasn’t mounted on RAC02, and it was operator error (not mine) and it was fixed around 12:15 (as my 11-12 meeting ended) at which point I sent an email that all was well and was shortly seen fleeing from the building.

What to do, what to do, when you have Cafe Aion on the brain and 30 minutes for lunch? Well, we just went to the next place on the illustrious list of places where Ladies want to Lunch.

Dish.

Of course, we didn’t decide that on the spot, I had plan B in my back pocket all along, and I instructed Laura to study the menu and plan ahead so as not to waste time in line. But I couldn’t decide what I wanted. The Piglet? Cute/horrifying name. BLAT? So predictable/delicious? Salad? Too diet friendly. I was a little amped up on caffeine and Laura suggested that maybe I needed a trip to the ladies room, but I insisted it was just stress and coffee that was making me so annoyingly jittery. I decided to get half an Italian sandwich, and made a spur of the moment decision to upgrade from chips to a side salad.

My sandwich was really good, especially the mozz and pepperoni part. The ambiance, on the other hand, was terrible. But that was probably because we went back to work and ate in the break room. Dish has a few places to sit, but we didn’t have time to linger, and if we did, people waiting for their to-go lunch would have been standing right by our table talking about RAC02, and being jittery. But we enjoyed eating together even when Randy Randoms walked through the break room and bugged us. I was a little worried because with 2 bites of my half sandwich to go, I was still starving. But by the time I finished my salad, I felt like I might live. Then I ate a random muffin from the break room leftover table, so I can’t say for sure if the lunch was filling enough.

Laura had the Bloody Good Salad, which looked good, if you are the type of person who likes hard boiled eggs, and an M&M cookie, which she said was gooey and had lots of sugar and almond extract, and was sooo good. I have to admit, I am sort of fantasizing about that cookie right now.