Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse in Davidson, NC

Flatiron is a steak place in Davidson, NC that we decided to try over the summer.  Such high hopes, because I love the town of Davidson.  Ultimately, this place just didn’t deliver.  While there were some high points to our meal, mostly our experience ranged from not great to not really memorable.

Flatiron calamari

We tried the Calamari Fries for an appetizer.  Ours came with a side dish of marinara sauce.  The calamari was tender, but the large mouthful of tender, almost flabby planks of squid actually put me off.  I prefer the rings, fried a little crispier.  I would definitely not get these again.

flatiron wedge

One of the better dishes was the Wedge Salad.  Hard to mess those up, but this one was exceptional with bacon, diced tomatoes, Gorgonzola cheese, red onion and topped with a yummy Buttermilk Ranch dressing.  Also, they served it a bit chopped and not in the traditional wedge shape, so it was much easier to cut.  Loved it!

flatiron goat cheese dip

Another pretty awesome dish is the Goat Cheese Bake.  They plop some goat cheese in a dish of marinara, bake it and serve with toast.  Simple and utterly delicious.

flat iron chicken fettucine

The Chicken Fettuccine Pasta dish was very good.  The chicken was tender, the sauce was flavorful.  The grilled bread atop was a nice touch.

flatiron filet mignon

The Filet Mignon was also a good dish.  It was cooked well, but the sauce was a little tangy.  I loved the brussels sprouts with the charred edges and the potato puree was creamy and seasoned well.

flatiron scallops with sweet potato risotto

The Seared Scallops were just fine.  They did have a nice sear, but were not seasoned as well as we’d like.  The sweet potato risotto that they were atop was delicious.  The grilled asparagus were nicely cooked.  The dish was fine, but not particularly memorable.

flatiron creme brule flatiron hot now donuts flatiron raspberry cheesecake

For dessert, they had quite a few offerings.  The Raspberry Cheesecake was probably the best thing our table sampled.  It was just sweet enough and very creamy.  The Creme Brulee is always a winner, and rarely have I had a bad one, this one was no disappointment.  The one dessert we sampled that was just inedible were the Hot Now Donuts.  They were like sugar coated bricks.  They are served in a paper bag, which is the best thing about them.  Maybe they were off that night, but I found them heavy and tough.  Never again.

The restaurant isn’t horrible.  There are simply better choices around.  A quick look around the menu shows me that they are trying to make some changes, so if I give it another try I will be sure and report my findings :)

Flatiron Kitchen + Taphouse on Urbanspoon

Good ‘ole Comfort Food

Sometimes I like fancy, and sometimes I like comfort.  Last night I was in the mood for sandwiches, but my husband wanted meatloaf.  Ugh.  No one else in the house likes it, but he pulled the “I’ve been working all day” card, so I acquiesced.  Turns out this meatloaf was pretty darn good, even though I made it under duress.

Here’s the Comfort Food Night Menu:

  • Glazed Meatloaf
  • Darn Good Mashed Potatoes
  • The Lady’s Macaroni and Cheese
  • Marie Callender’s Cornbread

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The Very Best Glazed Meatloaf

The Very Best Glazed Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb chuck (ground beef)
  • 1/2 lb veal (optional. Use half pork and beef if you can’t find ground veal or don’t buy veal)
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a skillet over moderate heat, add the oil. Heat the oil until hot, but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, mustard, and hot sauce together. Add marjoram, thyme, salt, and pepper.In a large mixing bowl, combine the meats, egg-milk mixture, bread crumbs, parsley, and the cooked onion mixture.
  4. In a small bowl stir together ketchup, sugar, and vinegar. Set aside.
  5. Form 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture into a small patty, add it to a small oiled skillet, and cook until no longer pink. Taste for seasoning and adjust.
  6. Transfer meat mixture to an oiled loaf pan.*.
  7. *NOTE: The best way to make the meatloaf is to use a baking sheet, lined with foil. Place a cooling rack on top. Cut a piece of foil to be larger than a the loaf– and shape the meat into a loaf. Using a metal skewer, poke holes along the foil — usually every other hole.
  8. Place the shaped loaf on top of the foil. I prefer this method, as the loaf is less likely to “steam” in a loaf pan. You can also glaze all around the meatloaf, which is even better!
  9. Brush meat with ketchup glaze.Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until glaze has set.
  10. Brush meat loaf with remaining glaze and bake for 15 minutes more; glaze again.
  11. My oven takes 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the desired doneness. Times do vary, so allow for that!
  12. Internal temperature of loaf should be 160 degrees F.

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Darn Good Mashed Potatoes

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Ingredients

  • 5 lbs baking potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup heavy cream

directions

  • Place the potatoes in a large Dutch oven, cover with water and add the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Bring the potatoes to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook until tender, (15-20 minutes). Drain well.

  • Place the drained potatoes in a large bowl, add butter and whip the potatoes with an electric mixer until there are no lumps. Pour in the cream and continue whipping until the potatoes are fluffy.

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Lady and Sons Mac and cheese photo TheLadysmacaroniandcheeseinzaarwaitingongame_zps4b32f522.jpg

The Lady’s Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 cups elbow macaroni, cooked & drained
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Once you have the macaroni cooked and drained, place in a large bowl and while still hot and add the cheddar.

In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add to the macaroni mixture.

Pour macaroni mixture into a casserole dish and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

Top with additional cheese if desired, and bake a few minutes more until cheese is melted.

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Marie Callender’s Cornbread

Marie Callendar's Cornbread

Marie Callendar’s Cornbread

  • 2 cups Bisquick baking mix
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup real butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease an 8×8″ pan on bottom and sides; set to the side.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until well blended.
  4. Add sugar, milk, melted butter and whisk thoroughly.
  5. Add Bisquick and cornmeal to egg mixture, and mix just enough to completely moisten dry ingredients and leave no lumps.
  6. Do not overmix.
  7. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in middle comes out dry and top is firm to touch.
  8. Doubles easily into 9×13″ pan; adjust baking time accordingly.

Pioneer Woman Recipes

I love love love Ree Drummond!  That sweet disposition, that beautiful smile, that fiery red hair.  She’s just a delight.  And it doesn’t hurt that she’s a heck of a cook.  Anyway, she is my hero, honey.

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This post is going to be all of the recipes of hers that I try.  You’ll love it.

First up: Simple Sesame Noodles.  You’ll love them.  We ate ours with teriyaki chicken.

To Try  PW Simple Sesame Noodles

You can find P Dub’s Recipe here:  Simple Sesame Noodles

 

Tenders in Cornelius

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Tenders is a popular fast-ish food joint in Cornelius, NC.  It is a on the corner of the beaten path, but you still have to know what you are looking for.  Hint: Follow the crowds, because this place is always jacked.

The food here is very fresh, and all of the ingredients are homemade.  Hand-breaded chicken tenders, not frozen and fried.  The fries are hand-cut and fried, not frozen.  In fact, they have NO freezers at all on premises.  The sauces are not processed bottled sauces, they whip them all up on site.  It’s a huge change from chains and you can taste the difference.

Another thing I love about this restaurant is that it is dine in, carry out or drive up.  Sometimes you just don’t want to get out of your car, you know?

OK, so by the name of the restaurant, you know you are getting some chicken fingers.  And you won’t be unhappy.  That’s what they do, and they do it well.  The chicken fingers are nuclear hot when they are delivered to you, and you get to choose your own sauce from about 8 homemade varieties.  You know I chose Ranch.  Delish!

Pics for your drooling pleasure…

Tenders Buffalo Chix Sammie Tenders Chicken Tender Basket

 

Tenders Fresh Food on Urbanspoon

The Cowfish

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Are you looking for an eclectic cuisine that fuses two well loved foods into one delicious dish? No? Nor was I. I just wanted to try food at a place called Cowfish. So glad we did!

We wanted both burgers and sushi, of course, so we opted to try the mini burgers of the week for our appetizers and each got a fancy sushi roll for lunch.

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The Burgers of the Week happened to be blue cheese burgers. Dustin was not a fan of blue cheese, but still managed to down two of them. They were cooked well, and very juicy. I loved them, but they were a little drippy (which all delicious burgers should be.) The Cowfish sauce was tangy sweet mayonnaise and the slaw was divine, even to someone like me who is usually pretty indifferent to slaw.

cowfishfiletroll

My sushi roll, The “Prime Time” Filet and Lobster Roll,  was one of the best things I’d ever had.  And clocking in at $22 for one roll, well it should be.  But, I’m telling you, one is all you will need.  It is very huge and quite filling.  The inside was comprised of buttery lobster and crisp, fresh cucumber matchsticks.  Atop this were rare (yet in my case, I asked for medium) strips of filet mignon and strips of smoky slices of portabello mushrooms that were panfried in the juices from the steak, then tossed in truffle oil.  This tasted like bacon!  Bacon veggies!  Brilliant!

cowfishspicytuna

Dustin chose the Blackened Tuna Roll.  Inside this is delicate lump crabmeat, gently mixed with cream cheese to make a delicious, light salad with a slight crunch from the tempura flakes. Topping this are strips of blackened tuna, a dollop of guacamole and a fresh sliver of jalapeno.  Talk about the perfect bite!  Everything was fresh and delicious.

cowfishapplewonton

For dessert (yes, we did) we shared an order of Apple Pie Wontons.  Holy Moly.  Homemade apple pie filling encased by a wonton wrapper and flash fried.  As if that wasn’t enough, they serve it with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream that is surprisingly light and airy and drizzled with a caramel sauce.  You can’t really go wrong with a fried wonton, but this one was so rich, with the crispy wrapper and the apple pie filling was sweet with just enough tart to balance.  It was plenty big enough to share.

The restaurant is much bigger than it appears from the outside.  We even sat on the patio and it had plenty of heaters out there to keep us warm.  Our service was amazing, we lacked nothing during our visit.  We will be back soon!

 

The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

Oak Steakhouse in Charleston, SC

We had the pleasure of visiting Charleston sans kids last week.  A business conference brought us there, so we didn’t have a lot of time to explore during the day, but we did get to eat dinner out most every night, and that was a treat in itself.

On our first night, we visited the Oak Steakhouse.  My husband recommended it to me  since he had visited with friends a few years ago.  I was unsure, because at the time Urbanspoon had only rated it at 80%, and there were so many other choices rated higher.  That was my first lesson in not always letting a few detracting reviews keep you away from a restaurant.  It was our favorite from the visit.

Odd because my favorite appetizer, entree and dessert all came from different restaurants.  Not so odd when you consider what I heard Tom Colicchio quote on Top Chef: “People go to restaurants for food and they return for hospitality.”  So truthful, at least in my case.  Good service and a warm ambiance are a huge part of the experience and Oak Steakhouse has that in spades.

When we first arrive, I am taken by the warm atmosphere and balcony overlooking the bar area down below.  Upstairs was even more beautiful, with the large picture windows looking down on the street below and the murals painted on the walls.  The curtains were heavy, sending me back to a Gone with the Wind kind of time.  It was really magical for me.  Our waiter came by and began what would be an amazing service for the rest of the night.  He was so knowledgeable and helped guide us in our choices that night.  He even brought us treats to sample from the chef. All were, of course, amazing.  I thought we were going to bust there was so much food.  And all so wonderful, you didn’t want to leave a scrap behind.

oakbread

Maybe it is silly, but the bread that was brought to our table at the beginning of our meal was so delicious, I have to mention it.  Soft, warm rolls topped by a salty, crunchy mixture of herbs and garlic and accompanied with a bit of real butter.  I KNEW better than to eat the whole thing, but I just couldn’t help it.  They were that good.

oakshrimp

Before our appetizers, the server brought an amuse-bouche (thanks, Top Chef for that vocab lesson!) for us to sample.  Dustin MAY have let it slip that I write a blog, so there’s the reason for that extra treat.  The treat was a pickled shrimp on a lavash cracker slathered with onion jam.  The shrimp was firm, fresh and chilled and just slightly pickled with fenugreek, coriander, mustard seed, bay leaf and white wine.  The jam was sweet with a hint of cinnamon.  Beautiful together!

oaktartare

First course for Dustin was the Steak Tartare.  This is a mound of chopped steak that is…gulp…raw!  On top is an over-easy fried quail egg, with and herb aioli and served with crostini.  I tried a tiny bite.  I tried to enjoy it.  But alas, the rawness I could not overcome.  I think he does this on purpose so he doesn’t have to share with me.  Whatever the case, he loved it.

oakoysters

When we passed by the kitchen on the way to our table, I was struck by two things: First, that it was so small and so many people were being served out of it and second, that the oysters looked amazing.  My research had me carefully selecting dishes to try, I even saved them in a Google Doc file so I wouldn’t forget…but sometimes you just have to make a decision on the fly.  That was the right call.  My first course was Oysters Rockefeller, and not only were they beautiful, but delicious as well.  The creamy and cheesy spinach sauce with a hint of bacon capped these perfectly cooked oysters and then finished with a few chives and a squeeze of fresh lemon.  It was the perfect bite.  If you go, do NOT miss these.  Another caveat:  You can order them in any number, I got 4.

oakscallops

While waiting for our main courses to arrive, the server brought us another treat from the chef.  This one was seared scallops and they were so blissful.  The scallops were perfectly seared with a crispy crust and tender inside.  They sat atop a bright green fresh pea puree’, roasted sweet baby carrots, jalapeno jam and roasted cauliflower.  There was also a sherry gastrique underneath that had an Asian flavor, tangy and sweet, that owned me.  My husband pronounced those the best scallops he’s ever had.

oakribeye

So, no way we could eat more, right?  Wrong.  Here come the steaks…Dustin opted for the dry aged Ribeye with chargrilled onions.  It was so flavorful with a crusty outside  and a tender interior, cooked perfectly.  Chargrilled flavor was very prominent and wonderful.

oakfilet

I chose the filet mignon.  I always get berated because there is not enough fat marbling to properly flavor the meat, but tonight this was no problem.  My steak was soft to the touch with a perfectly crusted exterior.  The chargrilled flavor was so delicious.

oakcrab

It’s not over yet.  The waiter told us that the King Crab was caught by the guys on the TV show.  Sold.  It was huge, spiky and worth every pinch trying to get it out.  So much sweet crab meat.  I can’t even.

oakmushrooms

So this was one of those fancy restaurants where the sides are purchased individually.  We each got one and shared.  My research told me to try the truffle fries, but my husband was dead set on the Macaroni and Cheese and I couldn’t see getting 2 starches.  So, I chose the roasted mushrooms.  I adore mushrooms, but you know…these were mushrooms.  They were great, but you could do the same at home.  If you go, and want 2 starches, don’t give in to guilt…just get them both!

oakmac

The bacon macaroni and cheese was so creamy and worth every calorie.   The bacon added a smokiness to the cheese and the noodles had just enough bite still in them to provide a bit of texture.  But not too much, no one wants crunchy macaroni and cheese.  If you dine here, one of you must get this dish.

This was our first night in this magical city and our best meal.  The food was amazing, the restaurant was beautiful but the service we received was so attentive, it made the night.  Dustin and I disagree what our server’s name was, so I looked on my receipt.  It stated he was “The Bruce.”  So if you decide to go, you know who to ask for!

Oak Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Paula Deen LIVE at the Blumenthal in Charlotte

Paula Deen came to Charlotte, ya’ll!  Her people reached out to me with fantastic tickets to see this wonderful show and to meet Paula!  What an amazing experience!  If you want to see her, here’s the link to check out her tour dates:  Paula Deen Live.  Our show was Wednesday, September 24 2014 at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Theater downtown.

When we first arrived, we were directed upstairs in this beautiful center to have some wine and snacks before going up to meet Paula.  As you might imagine, the food was amazing.  I wish I could show you pictures of the venue, but security was tight and they wouldn’t let us snap pictures inside the building.  My guess is we were too close to the Bank of America Building, and they thought we might be cat burglers.

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While we stood in line to wait on the Queen of Buttery Goodness, we spotted several famous folks.  Lee Greenwood was on hand to greet us in line, and we’d learn later he’d sing his hit song God Bless the USA during the show.  Stunning!  (not his best picture, but that is the fault of the photog, not Mr. Greenwood.)

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While we were in line to meet Paula, we were told that we could not have anyone take pictures of us (it would hold up the line) but that their photographer would get the shot and give us a link to download them.  I got that one today.  I think it came out great, even if the hubs has a death grip on Paula’s hand.  They seem like awesome people.    Paula certainly was.  Very warm and friendly :)

 

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Now, for the good stuff!  Paula’s sons were just out there strutting around, chit chatting with everyone, really working the room.  Handsome!  This might have been the highlight of my night ;)

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I didn’t take pictures of the event itself.  I was too wrapped up in listening to Paula talk!  We saw her prepare some yummy dishes, heard her telling her famous stories and anecdotes and even played some games!  It was a wonderful time, and not to be missed!

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