Chew On It
Blogs » Chew On It
By Andrew Kochirka GoErie.com staff blogger
Food has been an integral part of Andrew's life from a young age; from cooking with his mother and grandmother to creating recipes in his own kitchen. Now he scours the area's non-chain restaurant scene to find the best of the best of local food from chicken wings to French cuisine.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-878-2230

Archives

Posts categorized "Uncategorized"
Posted: April 15th, 2014

If you haven’t yet, be sure to “like” Chew On It: Beard vs. Food on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

I have been to The Brewerie many times and had burgers, sandwiches, and main entrees, but never a salad. Amanda and I went in for dinner on Monday night. We were seated in the Tap Room side due to a private party in the other half. After we were seated, we figured out what we wanted to eat rather quickly and then had to wait for a server to finally make their way over to us. They looked to be a little short staffed and the servers that I saw were bouncing from table to table. Our server, Aurora, took our order and returned shortly with our drinks. Amanda ordered the Buffalo Chicken Salad and I wanted to try the Southwest Steak Salad.

the-brewerie_buffalo-chicken-saladThe Buffalo Chicken Salad was a bed of romaine lettuce topped with a sliced chicken breast tossed in buffalo sauce. It came with carrot and celery sticks, bleu cheese crumbles, and two crispy pita wedges. The chicken was moist and had a great buffalo flavor, but the lettuce or the bleu cheese had an odd aftertaste (Amanda wasn’t quite sure which it was). Upon inspection, both looked to be okay, but sadly, the taste just didn’t match up. Bleu cheese with ranch dressing and tangy buffalo sauce is one of my favorite flavor combinations and the side of carrots and celery completed the “wing” experience. I just wish the rest of the salad would have contributed positively to the overall flavor of the dish.

the-brewerie_southwest-steak-saladMy Southwest Steak Salad was great. Mixed greens were topped with a black bean roasted corn relish, diced tomatoes, and medium cooked grilled steak. It was served with the Southwest ranch dressing and the same crispy pita wedges. The steak was cooked very well and stayed juicy and tender. The corn gave the salad hints of sweetness throughout each bite. The black beans still had a firm texture to them which added another component to the salad. The spiced dressing helped keep the dish together and gave a uniformed seasoning to everything. Both of our salads were served at just around room temperature which seemed weird since there were fresh vegetables on the plate, but it still tasted okay.

Thanks to everyone who helped with our dinner. The phone number of The Brewerie is (814) 454-2200 and the hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to Midnight.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite salads akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

The Brewerie at Union Station on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Salads
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 8th, 2014

If you haven’t yet, be sure to “like” Chew On It: Beard vs. Food on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

Saturday evening, Amanda and I had reservation at La Bella located at 802 West 18th Street. We have been in for dinner multiple times before, but had never ordered a salad. There was a table waiting with my name on it when we walked in the door and once we were seated, our server, Jill, came over to get our drink order and tell us about the nightly specials. To my dismay, after looking through the menu, I discovered that they no longer have entree salads available. The menu does state that if something is missing from the menu, ask the server if the kitchen can still make it, but I didn’t want to order something that wouldn’t be readily available if someone else came in to try it. Amanda and I each decided on a different dinner option that came with a small side salad. All of their dressings are made in-house and proved to be plenty to write about. Amanda tried the Caesar and I went with a house salad.

la-bella_caesar-saladThe Caesar salad was standard and delicious. Chopped romaine lettuce was lightly dressed in their flavorful and tangy Caesar dressing. The bold garlic with the bright citrus made all of the flavors pop. The cheesy croutons added some crunch as well as a bit of richness and buttery flavor. A light-handed sprinkle of Parmesan gave it just the right amount of salt. Overall, a great Caesar that wasn’t over dressed or heavy. My house salad was a mix of field greens with cucumbers and the same crunchy croutons. For my dressing, I like to mix the Creamy Onion Fred and the Chinese Ginger Soy. Jill reminded us that “Fred and Ginger do go well together” so it was bound to be a great pairing. The creamy onion dressing tasted like the best sour cream and onion potato chip I’d ever eaten. Sweet onions la-bella_house-saladwere blended with some vinegar, sugar, and mayonnaise to make am addictive dressing that would taste good on just about anything. The Chinese ginger soy dressing contained fresh garlic and ginger with soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, chili flakes, vinegar, and a few other spices. The minced garlic and ginger gave some little bits to chew on, popping with each bite. I would love to use this as a marinade on just about any protein. The bold soy sauce and spicy ginger create a flavor explosion that is only highlighted by the brightness of the citrus. The creamy onion mixed with the tangy ginger soy made for an incredible combination that I had to stop myself from just eating with a spoon once the lettuce was gone.

I am sure that salads will make an appearance again on the menu as specials, but currently, only the side salads are available. I do recommend heading in for dinner to try not only their incredible homemade dressings, but the remainder of the menu items as well. Thank you to the kitchen staff for such a delicious meal and to Jill for the friendly service. I cannot wait to come back again. The phone number for reservations is 814-456-2244. Their hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. They offer a variety of dishes that includes options for kids as well as a gluten free menu. They are also BYOB with a $1 corkage fee per person.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite salads akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Salads
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: April 1st, 2014

If you haven’t yet, be sure to “like” Chew On It: Beard vs. Food on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

Amanda and I were joined on Friday night by her parents, Louise and Alan Flick, her younger brother Alex, and his girlfriend Anne at Montana’s Rib and Chop House in Meadville . We had reservation shortly after seven and they were crowded when we arrived. We could see our waiting table from the door and once seated, our server Kellilynn, told us about the specials and took our drink orders. The menu is large without being overwhelming and offers food choices for just about everyone. The t-bone pork chop and cedar plank salmon are hard to pass up, not to mention their steaks, but we were there to try their salads. We were surprised to find out that there were a lot of salad choices with toppings such as grilled or crispy fried chicken, BBQ shrimp, tuna, and steak. Amanda ordered the Super Caesar Salad with seared tuna and I went with the Chop House Caesar.

montana-rib-and-chophouse_chop-house-caesarThe Super Caesar Salad was a rather standard Caesar salad. A large bowl of romaine lettuce was topped with fresh Parmesan cheese, croutons, and a sliced seared tuna filet (you can also choose chicken or fried/BBQ shrimp). Although it came to the table dressed, the lettuce had good crunch to it. The dressing was acidic and tangy like Caesar should be. The croutons added some texture as well as a beautifully toasty garlic flavor. Having tuna as the protein on this salad was a fantastic choice. The outside had a bit of color on it with the center still showing a touch of pink. It flaked apart beautifully and the Caesar dressing was delicious with it. The tuna was light enough to not bog the salad down. This would be an especially wonderful salad to enjoy out on the restaurant’s patio during the summer.

montana-rib-and-chophouse_super-caesarMy Chop House Caesar was on the opposite end of the Caesar spectrum. A similar bowl of romaine lettuce was piled with 6 oz. of medium rare sliced top sirloin with grilled onions, crisped bacon bits, croutons, Parmesan, and then drizzled in a balsamic reduction. At first, I didn’t think it was actually a Caesar salad. It wasn’t until a few bites in that I got the tang of the dressing. It really was a flavor explosion. The saltiness from the bacon and parm, the warm and juicy steak, the sweetness of the balsamic glaze with the grilled onions, wow. The steak on top made me forget about the pork and salmon entrees. This is a salad that I would gladly eat again and again.

Thank you to Kellilynn and the rest of the staff who made our meal great. I can’t wait to come back down to Montana’s Rib and Chop House again. The phone number for reservations and information is 814-333-2000. They are located directly across from the Movies at Meadville at 11142 Perry Highway. The restaurant opens daily at 11 AM and closes at 11PM every day except for Friday and Saturday when they close at midnight.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite salads akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Salads
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 26th, 2014

If you haven’t yet, be sure to “like” Chew On It: Beard vs. Food on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

Eating at the Summer House Café every day would be an easy thing for me to do. It doesn’t matter what meal of the day it is, I can always find something fantastic to eat. Last week, Amanda and I went in on our lunch break to try a couple of their salads. We were seated with Tammy as our server. Even though we were there for salads, we listened to the list of specials to see what other creative things were coming from the kitchen that day. There are many different salads to choose from, but Amanda went with the Grilled Caesar Salad and I got the Coconut Chicken Salad.

summerhouse-cafe_chicken-caesar-saladThe Grilled Caesar Salad isn’t your run-of-the-mill Caesar. A romaine heart was cut in half and grilled. Once the lettuce leaves get a little color and wilt a bit, it was plated, dressed with homemade, tangy Caesar dressing, and topped with shaved Parmesan and Asiago croutons. Amanda ordered hers with a grilled chicken breast. Grilling the lettuce really changed the overall texture of the entire salad. While the part that was on the grill became warm, it deepened in flavor and took away some of the bitterness of the inner leaves. The outer layer of leaves stayed cool and crispy. The different temperatures as well as the texture combined with the rich salty cheese, and the wonderful dressing made for a flavor explosion. The thin sliced chicken breast was juicy and perfectly seasoned. Caesar dressing is tough to get right, but when it is made well, it is amazing; and this version was made very, very well. This was a fantastic lunch.

summerhouse-cafe_coconut-chicken-saladMy Coconut Chicken Salad was visually stunning. A large bed of mixed field greens was topped with a julienne of Asian vegetables and a thinly cut chicken breast that was breaded with a light curry dredge and then tossed in coconut flakes and fried to a beautiful golden brown. Avocado, mandarin oranges, and toasted almonds were placed around the plate. It was served with a sesame-ginger vinaigrette. The chicken was packed with flavor. The curry coating was light, but still extremely flavorful. Cutting into the chicken and seeing the bright yellow inside was a nice surprise. The coconut was crunchy without being burnt and combined a little salty with some sweet flavor. The sliced avocado on top just added a touch of creaminess. The dressing was almost glaze-like and the small cup went a long way. After a light toss, everything was coated in the sweet and savory dressing that pulled all the elements together into one harmonious dish. The crunch of the almonds as well as the Asian vegetables gave it another textural component. The orange segments added pops of citrus-y brightness throughout the salad. It was a rather large salad but I was still sad when I got to the bottom of the dish; I could have easily eaten more.

Tammy proceeded to talk us into splitting a dessert that was delightful as usual. Thank you, everyone, for the excellent service and lunch. We both will be in again soon. It is just too hard for me to drive by The Summer House Cafe without stopping. Their hours are Sunday through Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Their phone number for reservations or information is 814-452-2500. They are also BYOB so remember that if you would like to bring some adult beverages to enjoy with your meal.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite salads akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

The Summer House Cafe on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Salads
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 18th, 2014

peninsula-grill_greek-saladIf you haven’t yet, be sure to “like” Chew On It: Beard vs. Food on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

Peninsula Gateway used to be one of my favorite stops during the summer months; a gyro, a slice of baklava, maybe some fries were the perfect way to end a long day at Presque Isle. I was disappointed when I found out they had closed, but my spirits were lifted when they reopened at 2767 West 12th Street as the Peninsula Grille.  I received an email recommending their salads so I tossed their name into the ring and the votes started pouring in. The votes climbed to over 100 and Amanda and I went in for dinner on Saturday night. The place was crowded with couples, families, and even a few large groups celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. As we sat and looked through the menu, I noticed that most of the salads were the same, just with a different protein. When our server returned with our drinks, I asked if I could have two smaller salads, each with a different meat. She informed me that the kitchen would just split the meat on a large salad without a problem. I got the house salad with half lamb and half chicken.

A large plate was filled with a mix of romaine and iceberg lettuce served with diced tomatoes, onions, a few kalamata olives, cucumbers, and deliciously creamy feta cheese. The left half was topped with the typical thin slices of lamb gyro meat. The right half was topped with the marinated chicken. Once again, the lamb was very tasty, but fresh sliced/shaved lamb would make it exponentially better as compared to the ready-to-cook stuff. The chicken was terrific. The juicy white meat had the flavorful marinade all the way through. The crispy sections added some texture and richness. The house Greek dressing was incredible. It was tangy and salty, but remained balanced. The feta pieces with some of the onion and the hearty meat covered in the dressing made for one of the best Greek salads I have found in the area.

Even though the salads don’t differ too much from option to option, the dressing and meats make them all delicious. Thanks for the friendly and quick service. I am excited that a summer favorite is now available year round. I will have to come back to try more of the sandwiches, specials, and the desserts. The phone number is (814) 520-8107 and the hours of operation are Tue. through Sat. from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm and Sun. from 7:00 am to 2:30 pm.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite salads akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Salads
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 11th, 2014

If you haven’t yet, be sure to “like” Chew On It: Beard vs. Food on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

Amanda and I decided to head into Bistro 26 early on Saturday evening. The parking lot was packed, but fortunately, we were seated as soon as we walked in. Our server, Jennifer, went over all of the nightly specials, the soups, and left to get our drinks. The menu has options for just about anyone. We each decided on a salad and I know I am a few weeks past soup, but after hearing what the soups were, we couldn’t pass up trying those too. Amanda ordered the Greek salad and I went with the Bistro Salmon.

Our cups of soup came out first. I tried the Butternut Squash soup. It was a combination of squash, sweet potatoes, and oven-roasted garlic. It was velvety with a ton of flavor. I was worried that the sweetness from the squash and potato mixed with the sugars brought out from roasting the garlic, but the final product was rich and savory. Everything balanced out for a delicious cup of soup. Amanda tried a cup of the Pasta e Fagioli. This tomato broth was loaded with ditalini pasta, red beans, tomatoes, chunks of carrot, some greens, and other herbs. A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top added just the right amount of salt. The pasta and beans were cooked perfectly giving the thick and hearty soup texture. Both soups were layered with flavor and started our meal perfectly

bistro26_greek-saladAmanda’s Greek salad started with a bed of Romaine lettuce, slices of red onion and cucumber, Kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, halved grape tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese, and a grilled chicken breast. Everything paired together well while everything still got to shine on its own. The onions and cucumbers kept the overall flavor fresh, the sweet red peppers rounded out the acidity of the tomatoes, and the briney olives and feta added some salty deliciousness. The chicken was moist and well-seasoned. Amanda just used some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pepper on the salad and that was really all it needed. While the salads were incredibly delicious, the slice of grilled bread on the side was probably the best part of both our meals. Only one side of the bread was buttered and grilled crispy and it makes for the perfect vehicle to sop up any dressing left in the bowl.

bistro26_bistro-salmon-saladMy Bistro Salmon salad was really fantastic. A mixture of spring greens was tossed with smalls chunks of brie cheese, crunchy candied walnuts, and then topped with a chargrilled salmon fillet and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. It came with the house vinaigrette which I honestly barely touched. The glaze on top of the salmon was almost enough “dressing” for the entire salad. The creamy, buttery cheese melted with each bite. The walnuts and the glaze gave everything a touch of sweetness which was balanced out by the salmon. The fish was cooked till it was flaky but still juicy. Just a little of the dressing helped coat everything evenly with an additional layer of flavor.

Thank you Jennifer for the great service and meal. I can’t wait to come back in. The address of Bistro 26 is 3557 W 26th St. in Erie and the number for information and reservations is 814.835.3553. They are open daily from 10:30 am to 9pm Monday through Thursday and till 9:30pm on Friday and Saturday.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite salads akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Bistro 26 on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Salads
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: March 4th, 2014

If you haven’t yet, be sure to “like” Chew On It: Beard vs. Food on Facebook and follow me on Twitter!

Amanda and I stopped into the U Pick 6 Tap House at 333 State Street for lunch last week. Most of the tables were occupied so we were seated at one of the high tables next to the entrance. We started with an order of their pizza muffins so while our server left to put in that order, we looked over the menu, which as a number of salads on it so we both needed a few minutes to choose. Amanda decided on the California crab cake salad and I got the spinach pear salad with chicken.

upick6-taphouse_crabcakesaladThree miniature crab cakes, slices of avocados, bell pepper strips, and cilantro were placed on a bed of leafy greens and served with a side of southwest ranch dressing. The first thing we noticed was the size of the salad. There just wasn’t a lot of anything on the plate. The crab cakes were small, oddly mushy, and just not very appetizing. The vegetables were okay, but again, more greens would have made for a better, more filling salad. The avocado gave the salad some creaminess while the peppers added a sweet crunch. The dressing was more of a Frank’s and ranch dressing combo instead of having a “southwest” flavor, but it still complemented the salad ingredients well.

upick6-taphouse_spinachpearsaladThe spinach and pear salad sounded fantastic as is, but when I found out that I could add chicken to it, it sealed the deal. Unlike the first salad, mine was massive. A large bowl was filled with spinach and topped with pieces of chicken, pear slices, whole red grapes, chopped bacon, candied walnuts, and goat cheese. This salad was served with the house-made balsamic vinaigrette. Upon tasting the salad, though, I realized I should have ordered it without the chicken. The chicken, like the crab cakes, had an odd texture. It seemed like it might have come from a microwave instead of a grill or oven. It wasn’t a good topper for an otherwise delicious salad. The rest of the salad was really tasty, though it might have been too sweet for some. The fruit and the vinaigrette added brightness to the combination of greens. The bite from the vinegar with the fresh fruit was a delicious combination. The bacon and the candied walnuts paired well together too, giving sweet and salty undertones to the dish. The goat cheese gave everything some needed creaminess as well as a tart, funky taste that makes goat cheese distinguishable.

Thank you for the great service on our lunch break. We were in and out in great time. The phone number for the Tap House is (814) 520-5419 and their hours of operation are Sunday through Wednesday from 11am til midnight and Thursday through Saturday from 11am til 1am.

Keep sending me your recommendations for local favorite salads to akochirka@goerie.com or to the Beard Vs. Food Facebook.  Remember to come back and vote as well.

Until next time,

Andrew – Beard vs. Food

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Salads
Posted in: Uncategorized

Switch to our mobile site