Monday, April 13, 2015

Eastern Iowa Baking Co.

After several trips to the new bakery in town, I finally have the time to write out a delicious review!

   Eastern Iowa Baking Co. opened in February in the old floral shop building in downtown Eldridge (2nd & Franklin).  The building was originally constructed as a doctor's office in 1857.

photo from their FB

The bakery is cute and tiny with a small dine-in area.  The morning selection includes baked doughnuts, pastries, and sometimes quiche.  I had a horrible internship selling quiche one time.  *shudders*

I often see the owner, Rhonda Groh baking away as I run by at an ungodly hour of the morning.  She has been a certified pastry chef since 2003.  Her family has been selling her goods at the Freight House Farmer's Market for several years now and will continue to do so.   The tip jar at the bakery is always donated to a charitable cause.

Red has forgone the whole concept of breakfast and always heads straight for the baked goods they also sell daily.  She's had cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and a lemon bar.  There's no way this kid was switched at birth.

Unkempt blonde hair.  Brownie for breakfast.  Definitely mine.

"You mean people actually eat vegetables?"

Lemon bar is sort of a fruit

Richie usually chooses a big cinnamon roll and a medium roast coffee.  Every one raves about the coffee from here and by everyone I do mean several retirees who spend their days roaming around Eldridge.  They would know, dammit.

Although they receive a steady stream of business, we have never had a problem finding a place to sit.  The food is served on nice plates with real silverware.  I think they could use some jazzy music playing in the background.  Not because I like jazz, but because it seems like the right thing to do.

We've never had a bad dish at Eastern Iowa BC and we love the location.  Be sure to check it out sometime and then catch yourself some diabetes at Smilee's Ice Cream, right across the street.  The bakery is open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.  I'll have to update once we try lunch there!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mesa Pizza

By the time we made it to Mesa Pizza in Iowa City, we had already completed a long journey.  Richie, Red, Baby E, and I tiredly hustled our way through the streets of Iowa City searching for a quick bite to eat.  Irritated, we had dejectedly settled on Which Wich...which is delicious, but not what we were looking for.  Then I spotted a beacon in the distance, a small sign on a narrow storefront boasting the name Mesa Pizza.

Red walked in and took two steps back when she saw the murals on the walls.   There was a real Tremors vibe going on.

  Or maybe Beetlejuice?  Dune, anyone?

"I've been to Saturn! Sandworms, huh? Hate 'em!'"

  We continued on and found Kevin, I mean a bounty of pizza awaiting us.

Better than Kevin Bacon!

 This was no ordinary pizza.  These pizzas were loaded with colorful toppings.  And their were so many choices! U.S.A.!

 I could hardly contain my excitement when I saw a pizza slice with a french fry on it... a french fry!  I don't even like french fries!

 Red asked for 'just cheese." (Why do 3 year olds hate awesome food and restful sleep?)  Luckily, it's not terribly difficult to convince a toddler that mac and cheese pizza is he best food ever.

Since I follow a made up diet that allows me to eat only meats and sugar, I chose a slice that had the most meat on top.
Protein! No whey?!

Looking at the menu, I am not sure what I ate.  It was similar to the Triple Smoke, a barbecue pizza with smoked ham, bacon, and steak.  However, my slice clearly had large chunks of sausage and a tomato sauce. It even had part of a french fry!  French fry!

 After our slices were chosen, they were warmed up in a cute little oven.  This made the bottoms fairly black and crispy, so we ended up eating the tops off with our forks.  I thought the meats and cheeses tasted very good and were seasoned well.  I really liked the tomato sauce, it wasn't too sweet or spicy.  I would have liked more cheese, as it was just a thin layer of mozz.  Red also enjoyed her mac n cheese slice.  It did not have a tomato sauce, but a white sauce that was just a tad garlicky.  A good choice for picky kids...which is every kid, right?

Richie got two slices, a chili cheese fry and BBQ bacon cheeseburger.

"It's like food made into other food"- Red

At least that's what we determined them to be.  The man boy working behind the counter didn't seem to know or care.  College life.

 Richie said the pizza tasted good but was not filling.  The chili formed the sauce on the left slice, while BBQ covered the right.  Unlike us girls, he liked the crispy-framed chewy crust.  After hoofing it back to our car, he was still hungry, as was I, so we stopped for some candy on the way home.  Gas station snacks...

So overall, this is a bit of a mixed review.  Loved the inventive flavors but didn't love the thin crust or price (3.75). Our advice- add some more toppings- let's not be stingy.  And maybe hire a decorator who doesn't work with a spray can.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Barrel House 211

Bear with me as we review yet another drinking establishment without embibing...

Barrel House 211 is a shiny hole in the wall found in the Bucktown district of Davenport.  In researching the location, I found that the original building was constructed in 1880 and housed a furniture manufacturer, and later, a chemical supply company.  It's historic integrity has been well maintained as you can see in photos found on the Davenport Library's website.  The bricks in the Barrel House date to the 1920s.  I was hoping to find evidence of a gangster shoot out or grisly accident, but no dice.

Not everyone loves history, but everyone loves food, right?

The Barrel House menu contains bar food with an extra punch to the gut.  Several items will rain fire on your taste buds with boom boom sauce, sriracha, and wasabi.  Barrel House actually serves a fairly large menu for being primarily a bar.  So you don't have to pester your DD into a Taco Bell stop, they even have a whole page of tacos and quesadillas.  We started our date night with onions of all shapes and sizes.  Romantic.

and greasy

I deem that God himself created a sandwich on this menu, and it's called the Miami.  My favorite foods combined onto one heavenly sandwich...  pulled pork tucked under sliced ham and swiss cheese, drizzled with homemade mustard, and topped with a halo of fried pickle slices. Glory be.

take me home tonight

Richard found a burger to his liking, the Cowboy burger, yee-haw~! or whatever.  

While the food cooked, I divided my attention between football bloopers on ESPN and eavesdropping on a couple's first date at the next table over.  They were both cringe worthy.

My sandwich wasn't the savior I was hoping for, but it was still quite good.  The pork was a tad on the dry side.  I would have liked some bbq sauce or more mustard added to it.  The sweet potato fries were perfect.  Not too sweet, not too salty.  I guiltily ate the rest that night while standing at the fridge. (Sorry thighs!)  I think they were even better cold.

Richie's Cowboy burger was a double patty monstrosity saddled with Sweet Baby Ray's, cheddar cheese, and onion straws.  He described it as "fun."  A man of few words.  And a lot of onions.

so, so many onions

 Based on how fast he scarfed it down, I'm going to resolve that the burger was quite delicious.  Let's be honest, you can't go wrong with a coating of Sweet Baby Ray's.

Awkward couple didn't order food, but, despite the awkward hug, the date seemed to go okay...ish.

We both keep talking about returning to Barrel House, so given our current schedules, we hope to make it back within the next decade.  Don't you wait that long!  Good food, old bricks, and ESPN are waiting.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Barley and Rye

A week before we became a quaint little family of four, Richard and I went on our once a year date night.  Though Moline's Barley and Rye is not a greasy joint, we decided to head there for a nice quiet dinner.  After all, we are high brow people who enjoy visiting locally owned establishments.

 Barley and Rye's schtick...I mean concept, is that they are farm to table.  They use ingredients grown in a 200 miles radius from the Quad Cities.  The menu is for a sophisticated palate... one that my Taco Bell loving self does not possess.

"You told me we were going to Taco Bell!"

On this particular night, after dusk, we set out to satisfy a distinct craving...for meat !

Though not a fan of red meat, I found a hamburger oddly appealing. To appease my adorable werewolf-like blood lust, I ordered the burger with a maple chorizo and side of Boetje's green beans from the specials menu.  Because meat topped with more meat is just what the doctor ordered for a healthy pregnancy.

Richie must have been satisfying a carnal craving as well.  He chose the bone marrow starter and an order of pork belly dressed with apple butter and fennel.

After a fairly long wait, our dishes were paraded out, one at a time.  The bone marrow looked particularly skeletal and not unlike the marrow treats the corgis enjoy.

dem bones

 I could not muster the courage to try it, but no matter, Richie had it finished in about 60 seconds, which is really not that impressive when you consider the amount of edible food it contained.  He said the texture was off putting.


I did partake in the pork belly, which was similar to a soft bacon but with the apple, had an added sweetness to it.
belly for my belly

 I liked the texture and different tastes in this dish, but again, there wasn't much food there.

The burger was, as requested, well done.  The flavors from the chorizo infused the burger with some sweet and spicy flavor that cleared my sinuses, but the overall texture was a bit crumbly and dry.

I ate a vegetable.

The chorizo's maple flavor was strong and I finished feeling like I had just polished off a hearty breakfast.   I left with a strong case of acid reflux and I suspect Richie did too, after paying our bill...yikes.

What can I say?  We deviated from our normal food choices and took a chance on some unique dishes from Barley and Rye.  It wasn't our cup of (fifty dollar) tea, but it might be yours.  The menu changes with the seasons and availability of ingredients.  Be sure to check out the ever changing Chef's features and event nights on their FB page.

Friday, August 29, 2014

River House

 Looking for yet another solid burger joint, The River House in Moline (1510 River Dr) beckoned to us from across the Mississippi River.  We obliged, and found ourselves there for lunch one fine summer day.

There is a nice outdoor patio area, but ragweed is raging and my body revolting, so we headed inside and found a nice booth by the front window.

Our waitress was fast to greet us and get us drinks, but seemed a bit overwhelmed by the lunch rush.

Much of the menu looked appealing, but the fried pickles were recommended by friends who said they were amazing.

  That wasn't enough to please my pickled palate.  I also ordered the Cuban sandwich consisting of barbeque pork, ham, cheese, and pickles on toast.

Though several burgers looked pleasing, Richie went with his namesake, the Richie Rich.  This bitchin burger was made for him.  It seemed like the best deal, $10.99 for two patties (most of the single patty burgers were $9-10) AND it came with a drink.  The burger was layered with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and "special sauce," which may or may not be politically correct these days.

Pickles were plucked out of the fryer and promptly placed on our table.  I promptly proceeded to reduce my tongue to ashes.

 Lesson learned.  But were they amazing?

And out comes the "differently sauced" beast of a burger.  Richie was all...

And he did.  Though the burgers' flavor didn't quite cut it for him, he did finish his meal satisfied.

The Cuban was quite intimidating, but I stood my ground.  

The pork was great, the ham was a little tough.  Neither of us were impressed with the crinkle cut fries.  

The food was better than average, and portion sizes were generous.  Though not everything was a win, I think we will be back to conquer another Cuban... and a burger.  

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mama Compton's

Starting off this post in the nerdiest way possible- One Sunday, we headed to a comic con in downtown Rock Island at the Holiday Inn. After dodging R2D2 and a herd of other sweaty nerds, we scored some sweet comics and an Iceman action figure.  All that nerdiness left us famished.

Looking at toys is hard work guys. 

 We wandered back to our car and saw that Mama Compton's was just across the street. Being too lazy/hungry to walk any further, and despite it's artsy bohemian vibe, we decided to give it a try.

 We collapsed onto the first table we saw, directly in front of an old television playing The Rugrats movie. The other side of the table was a child's dream and a germaphobe's worst nightmare, a play area with a little kitchen and dozens of old toys. I was just stoked that there would be no wrestling match to keep Red in her booster seat.

"Thank you Jesus!"- Tired parents

 The menu tells a bit of the history, Betty "Mama" Compton inspired the recipes but passed away in 1995, several years before the restaurant opened. In 2008, they moved to their current location- 1725 2nd Avenue. They call it Arts Alley, because it's, ummm, artsy and in an alley.

This is art.

 The menu is available online here. I was able to find a few options for myself and eventually settled on the F-Troop Salad wrap. Which I proceeded to unwrap and eat as a salad anyway. It was very fresh and flavorful. A nice light lunch. (and then I had Ben & Jerry's as soon as we got home.)

I'm Healthy

 Richie gorged himself on the Haver Burger, topped with cheddar, bacon, honey mustard, and apples?!

I'm delicious.

 This might be the first time I ever saw him eat a fruit...yes, it's definitely the first time I have ever seen him eat a fruit. The burger was cooked perfectly and all the flavors melded well together. Screw vegetables.

 The kids get to pick 3 of anything, so Red chose chicken tenders, applesauce, and french toast. She has a refined palate for all things white. After I finished my food, I chased her around the toys shoving bites into her mouth.

 I actually enjoyed the restaurant's vibe, it was very kid-friendly and homey. Some guy was playing guitar on stage, but he wasn't too loud or awful. He was just mildly terrible.

 The staff were nice and chatty. Maybe too chatty. But the food was the highlight of our day. Several times since, Richie has craved a burger from Mama's. We will definitely be returning to Mama Compton's for a (relatively) peaceful meal.