Archive for March, 2011

100 Year Old Beans

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

We were driving in circles. Keller’s Bar-B-Q kept popping up on our GPS radar, but it seemed that it was hidden amongst road construction and storefronts. We were ready to give up and go to Chilis, which would have been useless for this blog, since everyone and their mother has been to Chilis. We parked at Chilis, and walked around to the other side to the entrance. Then, like Avalon rising from the mist, Kellers BBQ appeared before us. It was hiding at the end of a strip-mall. We abandoned our Chilis and trekked across the dirty parking lot toward our barbecued fate.

The front of the restaurant was a typical all-over window, with beer signs and specials listed in neon lights. We were seated quickly in a comfy table against the wall. The tablecloths were covered in adorably gaudy cow-print plastic tablecloths, giving the place a general “grandma’s been decoratin'” look.

It was pleasantly silly, with the smokehouse facade and the hand-painted cows. I ordered a bottle of Michelob Ultra for a whopping $1.50. I was surprised and pleased when the very friendly waitress brought me a chilled glass to go with my ice cold beer. It’s those small touches that make restaurants great.

We ordered the fried okra as an appetizer. The corn crust was crisp, and they were hot as green molten lava. It burned flavor into our taste buds. I spotted the fried catfish on the menu and signed off on it right away. There’s just something wonderful about fried catfish in a bbq restaurant. Especially when its done well, and they did it very well. The fish was both crisp and tender. The texas toast was classic and thick. The cole slaw was cold and crisp, although a little too sweet. The baked beans…let me tell you about these baked beans. They were amazing. The menu touted that their recipe was over a hundred years old. If that’s how long it takes to get a great bean recipe, it’s worth the wait. They were sweet, smoky, tender, rich with spices and the perfect thickness. I smeared some on toast and took a big bite- heaven!

We left with lots of leftovers in big styrofoam containers, big full bellies and a ton of satisfaction. Sorry Chilis, Kellers wins the restaurant war today.

Meat Sampler!

Sunday, March 20th, 2011

Hello there,

I would start this blog off by telling you the tale of how we found Kellers, but Applecheeks already told ya. What’s that? You’re from America and you read left to right and top to bottom? Crap. Well it’s over there, check it out.

The outside of the place was reminiscent of a bar. Tinting on the windows, beer advertisements and whatnot. For a BBQ joint, I’m totally down with beer adverts. Likely means cheaper beer. We went there on a Saturday afternoon and there appeared to be only 3 people in the entire place. When I say entire place, It could only have had 50 seats. It didn’t feel small when you were sitting and walking around in there, but it totally was.

The lady who sat us was very friendly and sat us immediately. She told us of the specials and gave us time to look through and decide our drinks. Applecheeks went with a beer and I, (being in a BBQ joint) had an iced tea.

We decided to get some fried okra as an appetizer. I figured hey, how often do I eat okra, either by design or happenstance. It’s the kinda appetizer you could get anywhere but it was well put together served with a spicy ranch and with a generous amount of fried okra nuggets.

For the main event I got the three meat combo which contained, beef and pork and your choice of chicken or ribs. For sides I got the baked beans which boasted a 100 year old recipe. I was so impressed with the taste that I believe the boast. I went with sliced beef brisket, pulled pork and the ribs which were also pork. …  I am fond of pork.

The price was very reasonable for some good country cookin’. Considering how long it takes to cook some of those meats.

The pulled pork was everything I hoped for, with sweet BBQ sauce and a smokey flavor. The beef brisket wasn’t as up my alley but still quite good. The ribs were great and yes, I licked my fingers.

After food I walked around to observe the really interesting decor. What appeared to be colored political cartoons from the 1900’s were put in frames. There was a wall with iconic ‘kellers bbq’ on the wall, set out in a country scene. When you walk in, they have a log cabin facade in front of a window to the kitchen.

Over all I really enjoyed our trip to Kellers. Everyone was very nice including the cool chick who was cleaning up, she had tattoo’s and super cool hair! Anyway, if you’re in the area or don’t mind a bit of a trip for some good BBQ I’d definitely recommend this place.

Not to be confused with a fish’s bones.

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Fish Bones!

When you walk in you’re greeted with the surroundings of a ship. Between the fishing nets, poles, reels and bobbers, I feel like I could have caught us dinner.

You become a little disoriented when you don’t smell the ocean breeze but rather a deep smokey aroma. This is emanating from a huge grill, set directly in line of sight. It makes for a very theatrical entrance.

We were brought near the back to a sort of dining ‘hall’. It was filled with 2 tops and a few booths. Before, I get to the next sentence I feel I need to point something out.  I know, that the following is most likely not true. That being said, it felt very much like they were shuffling us to the back where we wouldn’t be seen.

It didn’t help my theory when we sat for a full 4 and a half minutes before being seen by any server. As it turns out the woman who came to give us our drinks was not to be our server. A few minutes later we were introduced to our pleasant and informative waiter. I don’t remember much about him for reasons you will soon understand.

I ordered the lamb with roasted red potatoes. The meat was seasoned to perfection. It was cooked to a lovely medium rare and was everything I hoped for in lamb chops. I don’t recall exactly but to drink I had some sort of flavored unsweetened iced tea.

Applecheeks ordered some sort of duck glazed in orange marmalade. The bit she fed me tasted quite nice. That’s when the fun started. Of course by fun, I mean loosing our server for at least a full 30 mins. THIRTY FREAKING MINUTES!!! You see, when our food was brought to us by our server he exclaimed that Applecheeks was in for – wait for it – a sticky situation! Ha! We weren’t sure where the bathrooms were but I had decided after about 10 minutes, that we were going to be strong. I figured the longer we had to wait; the more abashed the server would become when he realized his mistake.

Another five minutes passed and I noticed a few server ladies doing silverware and gossiping. Well, that’s not fair, They could have been talking shop for all I know. Anyway we sat for ten more minutes, the entire time I would turn back and look at them. Hoping that at some point their hospitality instinct would kick in and they would come over to help. No Dice.

They were continuing their talking and busy work for another ten minutes, sometimes looking at us sometimes not, Applecheeks, sitting there getting increasingly more sticky with cold marmalade. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore and stalked over to them loudly proclaiming “Our server has apparently fallen ill and gone missing and NO ONE (using deep man voice and glaring at them both) has come by to assist us. My date has been covered in orange marmalade for the past half hour and we need some assistance.”  Doing a John Wayne impression, I moseyed back to the table.

A few moments later we were lavished upon with a wet hot towel. The object of desire we had been promised a half hour ago.

All in all, the food was delicious but, three out of four representatives of the restaurant were completely unacceptable.

I’m sure on a good night with better employee’s it would be a fine place. However with the price I’m not sure I’d take the risk again.

The Sticky Situation

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

As far as spontaneous restaurants go, Fish Bones was a pleasant surprise. We ventured up and down Sand Lake road (the bad part, not Restaurant Row.) Looking for a bite to eat, and stumbled across Fish Bones. The restaurant decision was originally made based on the idea that we thought it was the Bonefish Grill, which we had heard about from a friend, but our misfortune soon turned to delight.

The low-lit dining area was an awkward surprise. I’m beginning to despise garish, brightly lit rooms with all sorts of “crazy s**t on the walls”. While the wall decorations were still slightly gauche, the ill-lit quality of the walls fortold only tales of dim photos of poorly painted fish leaping from bodies of water. That with the addtion of actual fishing tackle pasted to the walls, the darkness seemed an attempt to hide some bad decorating decisions. All decorum aside, it was a nearly pleasant atmosphere with the colorful lamps.

So, we ordered our meals. Man-biscuit can tell you about his, but I’ve got stories about my own. I started with a house salad, which while looking a little ominous and monochromatic, turned out to be a pure delight. Fresh vegetables, sharp cheese and just the right amount of dressing.

Since we were in a fish restaurant, you would think we would order some fish, but this time around we were on a budget (as usual,) and ordered accordingly. I was surprised to find that the Florida Orange Duck (a half duck with florida orange marmalade,) was only around $12. I ordered that and awaited my delights.

The duck arrived in good time and I dug in. The duck was perfectly cooked, moist and delicious. The marmalade would have been overly sweet if not for the bit of zest in it, so it balanced well. The skin was crisp and flavorful and the salt of the meat played well with the sweet coating. I completely ignored the lifeless veggies that came with it. Well, not completely – I ate a piece and gave up. It was uninspiring. However, the duck was quite good.

Now comes the bad part. Marmalade = sticky.

When our server had brought the half-bird, I surveyed the plate and knew immediately of my sticky fate. So, I asked our mildly pleasant watier what I would do when I was all sticky. He replied smugly that he would return with hot wet towels to wipe away my gooey misery. That sounded wonderful, so I dug in, all hands on duck.

Some time later, when I had eaten my fill, I was quite sticky. My hands, fingers, elbows, forearms and many parts of my face had been treated with wandering marmalade. Now, I could have gotten up and made my way to the restroom, but unfortunately there was a fancy cloth napkin on my lap, and I would have liked to bring my purse. So, I sat there, hands splayed out, awaiting my hot, moist towel. 30 minutes later, I was still waiting. Our waiter had abandoned me to my sticky fate. Man-biscuit was parcehd, and his drink remained empty. I was trapped in marmalade hell.

The rest of the wait staff was miserable. Their backs sagged like they were hefting invisible boulders. They huddled in refugee groups, not quite under cover behind the server station, and eyed us as if waiting for the inevitable whistle or beckoning finger. When I did prop a questioning eyebrow in their directoin, they froze like deer in headlights. I added an “excuse me?” to the mix and they remained frozen.

Then, they scattered. Heading off in varying directions, I assumed they were off to find my moist hot towels. They never were seen nor heard from again. Finally, our waiter sped by the table, and I imagined sticking my tacky hand to his pant-leg. I wanted to so much that my fingers clenched to keep them from this act. Instead, man-biscuit rose from his seat to give them what-for. Finally, they shambled off to bring back our towels and check.

He returned in a few minutes with the promised towels, and I de-stickified myself. We left in a huff. This was a sticky situation. While the decorations, lighting, wati-staff and everything was decideldly unacceptable, the food was delicious. So, my suggestion is to ask for a take-out menu.