Chew On It
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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.
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Summer Foods 2

Places where the Beard ate Summer Foods 2
Posted: June 19th, 2012

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At the foot of State St. on Dobbins Landing is Smugglers Wharf. This restaurant is one of the few remaining options on the Erie Bayfront for having drinks and dining while enjoying a beautiful water view. Even though it was busy for a Monday, Amanda and I were able to sit outside on their summer-only patio and enjoy the nice weather. The patio allows diners to appreciate being just a stone’s throw away from the water, however on this visit, between the massive dust clouds coming from the construction up the road and the extremely noisy woman using her cell phone on speaker at the table next to us, eating inside with a view through the picture windows might have been a better option. Our server, Jessy Lynne, brought us drinks in some safe-for-outdoors plastic cups, told us about the catch-of-the-day marlin fillet, and left us to our menus. After a few minutes, Amanda decided on broiled sea scallops with a side salad and tomato basil rice, and I opted for the featured marlin fillet with a side of portabella mushrooms and stone ground mustard potato salad.

Amanda’s salad came out first. It was a wedge of Iceberg lettuce with shredded carrots, two slices of cucumber, a slice of tomato, and a scattering of croutons. The dressing for the salad, a sun dried tomato vinaigrette, was much thicker than a standard vinaigrette, but had good flavor.

After Amanda finished her salad, our entrees were served. Eight scallops filled Amanda’s plate. They were broiled in a combination of garlic butter, lemon, and white wine and were topped with seasoned breadcrumbs. A few of the scallops contained some grit which was a little off-putting, but didn’t ruin the entire dish. The wine used might have also been slightly old as the scallops had a very odd aftertaste. The scallops were cooked very well, but for $20, they could have been much improved with fresher ingredients. The tomato basil rice she’d ordered as her other side was a mix of wild and long grain rice served only slightly above room temperature. The rice was on the bland side as far as seasoning was concerned and had little taste of tomato or basil.

Marlin is a fish that I have never had before so I was looking forward to trying it. I had to decide between a blackened, baked, or grilled preparation for my fish and with the summer season just beginning, I chose to have it grilled. I wasn’t asked what temperature I would like the fish cooked to, so I assumed it was a fish that is simply cooked until it’s done. When it came to the table, the fillet had beautiful color on the outside from the seasoning and the grill, but it was severely overcooked. The flavors were delicious, but the fish was so dry, I had to drink water after each bite to get it down. One small pin bone was easily overlooked, but the dry fish was not. Again, for a $20 dinner, I expected a lot better quality. The two sides I ordered were the best part of my meal. The potato salad contained a good amount of mustard, (if you don’t really like stone ground mustard, skip this dish), as well as horseradish, which provided a surprising and welcome kick at the end of each forkful. The potatoes were cooked perfectly and there was a good balance of other ingredients and seasonings. The mushrooms were sliced, cooked, and very simply seasoned with garlic.  They were really delicious.

The outdoor dining space really is a fantastic way to experience the bayfront, but the food prices are obviously covering the atmosphere more than the food quality. Smugglers Wharf is a great place to have a drink on the patio while enjoying breathtaking Bayfront sunsets, but I’d recommend heading elsewhere for dinner. Thank you to Jessy Lynne for the timely, friendly service. The phone number for the restaurant is 814.459.4273. Their hours of operation are 11:30 to 10pm during the week, 11:30 to 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 – 9pm on Sunday. They have limited hours in the winter and the patio is open in the summer only.

Keep sending me your recommendation for summer food stops 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

Smugglers' Wharf Incorporated on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Summer Foods 2
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: June 26th, 2012

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

Last night, Amanda and I made the 40 mile trip to Bemus Point, NY to dine at The Italian Fisherman.  The restaurant sits right on the shore of beautiful Lake Chautauqua and offers two restaurants in one location, the fine dining Classico Gourmet upstairs, and the informal Al Fresco Water Grill downstairs. I decided that dining outside at the Water Grill was more fitting for my summer food tour, so we headed around the side of the restaurant to an outdoor patio with a floating bar. We were one of two parties seated on the patio when we arrived, so we had a completely unobstructed view of the breathtaking sunset sky and the lake. Though it was a breezy night, the peeking sun gave enough warmth for sitting waterside, but on chillier nights, large propane-powered heaters are provided. Heather was our server for the night and she was great. She gave us the rundown of the menu, told us about the specials, and offered some insight on diner favorites. After she brought us some drinks, I walked over to the outdoor kitchen and talked to the chef and a line cook to hear some of their favorites as well. Amanda had heard good things about the Italian Nacho appetizer so we started with that. For our entrees, Amanda decided on the Tacchino and, on a recommendation from the kitchen, I ordered the Baja Fish Tacos.

The nachos came out rather quickly and I was definitely surprised by what I saw. Heather warned us that they were big, but I still wasn’t prepared for the cheesy behemoth that was placed on our table. The square plate was piled close to a foot high not with tortilla chips, but with thin pasta dough that had been cut into chip-sized pieces and fried. The pasta dough made for surprisingly light and airy chips that weren’t at all lacking in crunch. The nachos were topped with Asiago cream cheese sauce as well as Italian sausage, Kalamata and black olives, green onions, banana peppers, and additional shredded cheese. They looked intimidating, but once we dug in, we discovered they were also really delicious. The filling nachos could have easily served as a meal for both of us. The rich cheese sauce was balanced well by the slight heat of the sausage and the tangy zip of the banana peppers. Each bite came with a different combination of ingredients and flavors, and the variety made this appetizer fantastic. While Amanda and I very much enjoyed the nachos and put forth a valiant effort, we still brought home two to-go containers of leftovers.

The rest of our meal came out shortly after we gave up on the nachos. Amanda’s Tacchino, which is Italian for turkey, was just that, an open-faced turkey sandwich. The menu made it sound amazing, but in person, it fell a bit short. A whole wheat pita had been split and one half of it was served inside-up. The pita was then layered with a mound of arugula, a few slices of honey baked turkey, sliced tomato and cucumber, an even bigger pile of sprouts, two slices of very thick Swiss cheese and then the entire stack was drizzled with ranch dressing. For starters, the turkey had a strange aftertaste. We weren’t sure if it was just the way it was prepared or if it was old. The portions of sprouts and arugula could have easily been cut in half and there still would have been too many sprouts. Nothing in the sandwich was cohesive and there definitely wasn’t anything to make it stand out. The ranch dressing drizzle topping the sandwich was also an odd choice. For a mostly healthy sandwich, thick-sliced cheese aside, the ranch dressing made it heavy and a bit greasy. A lighter vinaigrette or mustard would have been much more palatable with the rest of the ingredients. The Swiss cheese was the most mistreated ingredient in the entire sandwich. Because it wasn’t melted, as described on the menu, it wasn’t serving any purpose as a binder. I think it would have been better to place the cheese and turkey on the pita, heat the sandwich to melt the cheese and turkey together, and then add the rest of the toppings.

The Baja Fish Tacos that I ordered looked better than Amanda’s sandwich, so I was eager to give them a try. I prefer corn tortillas to flour tortillas in most all situations. I know that not everyone feels the same way, but for fish tacos, corn adds flavor and texture that you just don’t get with flour. These tacos were filled with grilled citrus tilapia, a handful of cilantro-vidalia onion slaw and, according to the menu, topped with a wasabi aioli. Served on the side were some lime wedges and a spicy salsa. The fish itself was grilled well and the flavor mild, but instead of a power-packed wasabi punch, which would have been awesome, the tacos had an overpowering Dijon mustard flavor which didn’t work at all with the rest of the taco. The cilantro-vidalia slaw gave some much needed brightness to the tacos and the lime juice gave additional tanginess. I really like tilapia so I found myself wishing that it had played a bigger role in the tacos than the pile of toppings.

Obviously I can’t say anything about the food from the fine dining side of The Italian Fisherman, but the food downstairs could really use some help, especially when you consider the price. I know that at a place like this, my money is going toward the view and location, but when I am paying $17 for nachos, and $15 each for two tacos and a turkey sandwich, I expect higher quality food. If we hadn’t ordered the nachos, we not only would have left more disappointed, we would have left hungry seeing as how neither plate came with sides. For a $50 meal, I could have eaten better in Erie and saved my car 80 miles in gas. This is another place I could see myself hanging out with some friends for a drink and a plate of nachos, but I wouldn’t make the drive for dinner again. Thanks to Heather for the friendly and attentive service.

Keep sending me your recommendation for summer food stops 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

Italian Fisherman on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Summer Foods 2
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 3rd, 2012

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

Located on scenic Route 6, Conneaut Lake is a popular destination year round, although the summer months are by far the busiest. From fishing and swimming to sunbathing and dining, there is something for everyone. Many of the water’s edge restaurants are seasonal, but last night, I got to eat at Mary O’s at Pelican Plaza which is open throughout the year. Friends Whitney and Justin Catalano joined us again for dinner around 7 o’clock. Though it is not on the lake, they have a great outdoor patio with a small pond and fountain for added ambiance. Our server, Teresa, took our drink and appetizer order and left us to our menus. When she returned, she told us about the daily specials and offered some suggestions from multiple areas of the menu. It is easiest to judge the quality of a restaurant chef based on how he cooks chicken, so Amanda decided to stay simple with the Marinated Grilled Chicken Salad. Theresa told me about one of the house signature dishes, the Pelican Pasta, so I ordered that on her recommendation.

For an appetizer, there was a Lobster Flatbread Pizza on special which sounded amazing. A twelve inch piece of flatbread was topped with chunks of lobster meat, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, olives, a sprinkling of cheese, and a balsamic vinegar reduction. After being placed under the broiler, the pizza was crispy and hot and absolutely delicious. The lobster was buttery and paired well with the sweet, chewy sundried tomatoes. The acid from both the artichokes and the vinegar made the overall taste of the dish very well balanced. I would have gladly ordered a full sized version of this for my entrée, had it been available.

Whitney and Justin ordered Bang Bang Shrimp as their appetizer. A plate of a dozen or more large, quickly fried shrimp was covered in their version of bang bang sauce as well as a drizzle of the same balsamic reduction that was on the lobster flatbread. Typically, the sauce combines sweet Thai chili sauce, Sriracha Sauce, vinegar, and mayonnaise. They left out the fatty mayo which kept the shrimp surprisingly light even though they’d also been fried. The shrimp started out with the sweetness from the sauce, but finished with the bold, flavorful heat of the Sriracha. Even the bed of mixed greens was a great with the bits of fried goodness and the leftover sauce.

Our entrees arrived at the table shortly after we finished our appetizers. Amanda’s Chicken Salad was pretty standard. A bowl was filled with a beautiful mix of greens, far beyond the usual iceberg, and sliced vegetables, topped with wedge-cut French fries and a large 8oz. marinated grilled chicken breast. The chicken was moist and loaded with flavor from the marinade. The fries, which you find on many salads in our region, not only added to the taste, but also to the texture. The warm chicken and fries were a great contract to the cool, crisp veggies.

My Pelican pasta dish was a combination of chicken breast and sweet sausage that was sautéed with mushrooms,tomatoes, red onion and garlic. It was served over linguine in a white wine sauce. Teresa came back to the table shortly after us placing our order to inform me that they happened to be out of sausage. She offered to substitute shrimp in the dish which I was more than okay with. An entire chicken breast as well as four large shrimp was more than filling. Everything was cooked to perfection and the flavors all played well off of each other. The dish was a little heavy on the red onion, but I personally didn’t mind. The white wine sauce was seasoned perfectly and provided just the right balance with the pasta and all of the toppings.

Unlike the last two weeks, we did not have a lakefront view, but the food more than made up for it. Fantastic food combined with great service on a beautiful July night, all for $40, was well worth the drive to Conneaut Lake. Thank you to Teresa and the kitchen staff for an enjoyable evening.

Keep sending me your recommendation for summer food stops 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 Summer Foods 2
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 10th, 2012

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

The Erie Seawolves Monday Buck Nights mean cheap baseball and even cheaper dinner, however, last night, Amanda and I stopped at Peninsula Gateway at 2860 West 6th Street for a bite before heading to enjoy a game. This small, diner-style restaurant offers a variety of Greek specialties as well as burgers hot dogs, and fries; they also offer large trays of food for parties. The inside of the restaurant has six or seven booths, but they also offer outdoor seating, which is fantastic on a breezy summer night. We took our time examining the menu board and talking to employees Stavros and Xavier about their favorites. There were three full tables of people inside when we arrived with more patrons seated outside, so we placed our order, grabbed a table, and waited for my name to be called.

A few minutes later, a delicious smelling tray of food appeared. Amanda decided to go the traditional route and try the standard Lamb Gyro. Served on a “plain” grilled pita, strips of lamb are topped with shredded lettuce, fresh tomato, sliced red onion, and their creamy, cool homemade tzatziki (sauce made from yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil). Although the gyro was tasty, I would have liked for them to use lamb fresh-cut from a rotisserie instead of the ready-to-grill strips. Not that the meat was bad by any means, I just think it would just elevate the entire sandwich to a new level and would really set this place apart from others in town.

I ordered the Pork Souvlaki Deluxe Gyro. Pork souvlaki is made of chunks of pork that have been marinated in oil, some sort of acid (vinegar or citrus juice), garlic, oregano, and other spices/seasonings. Traditionally served on a skewer, the pork for my gyro was grilled with the marinade until it was hot and tender. I could have easily eaten an entire bowl of just the souvlaki, it was so juicy and flavorful. The same type of pita used for Amanda’s gyro was grilled for mine as well, and the vegetables and tzatziki were used too, but the sandwich also included a small handful of French fries inside the pita that added a layer of crispy, fried goodness that was phenomenal. I think next time, I’d like to order an extra side of the tzatziki to use for dipping my gyro because their recipe is simply delectable.

In addition to our gyros, we ordered a piece of the homemade Spanakopita. Meaning spinach pie, this dish consists of a mixture of seasoned spinach, onion, and cheese wrapped and baked in buttery, flaky phyllo dough. We couldn’t get enough of this delightful pastry. The spinach mixture was very rich in flavor and when combined with the lightly crispy phyllo, it melted in my mouth.

For dessert, I’d heard that the Rizogalo (Greek rice pudding) was fantastic and Xavier suggested that I try the Strawberry Pasta Flora. The rice pudding can be served either warmed or chilled. Amanda prefers hers warm, I like it cold. The consistency stays thick when it’s served cold, so that might turn some people off. Either way, it is wonderfully creamy and fresh and when the ground cinnamon is added, it is transformed into a bowl of heaven. The pudding isn’t super sweet and makes for a very refreshing dessert on a warm day.

The Pasta Flora is a fruit tart made with strawberry or apricot jam. I opted for the strawberry based on Xavier’s recommendation, and it was a fantastic decision. The sweet, cookie-like shell was well-balanced with butter and citrus and paired perfectly with the sweet strawberry filling inside. The top was decorated with beautiful latticework that gave it a homey touch.

I have heard that some think the food at Peninsula Gateway is overpriced, but for $20, we got two delicious meals including drinks and desserts. Thank you to Stavros and Xavier for the friendly service, helpful suggestions, and incredible food. We will definitely be coming back to try more menu items soon. Peninsula Gateway is open every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. from May through September. Also, remember to stop at an ATM before your visit because they are a cash only establishment.

Keep sending me your recommendation for summer food stops 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 Summer Foods 2
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 18th, 2012

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


There are tons of ice cream stands in our area, however most of them serve hard packed Perry’s Ice Cream, Hershey’s Ice Cream, or soft serve that comes as a bagged mix. Not that I’m saying there’s anything wrong with that, but making ice cream from scratch is a beautiful and delicious art form and people who have mastered it are hard to find in this area. Last year on my summer food tour, I visited Casey’s Ice Cream and Candies in Meadville and Connie’s in Erie. This week, Amanda and I got to try samples from two more shops that specialize in locally created frozen treats. Monday night, we stopped by Romolo’s at 1525 West 8th Street in Erie to see what they had to offer. Although they do not make the ice cream on the premises, the chocolate, caramel, and other ingredients that make up Romolo’s delicious candies are sent to Marcie’s Homemade Ice Cream in Meadville, made into a variety of creamy confections, and then are sold at the Romolo Café. The freezer case has twelve flavors and a few really stood out to us. Amanda wanted to try a flavor called Trash Can and I decided on Frogs in Cream. Trash Can started with vanilla ice cream that was then mixed with fresh cookie dough chunks, rainbow jimmies, and a ribbon of Romolo’s chocolate throughout. The sweet vanilla base, when combined with the cookie dough and jimmies, made the ice cream taste a bit like funfetti cake. I would have loved more of the chocolate in it, but that’s just me being greedy because I love Romolo’s chocolate. The Frogs in Cream was based on the chocolate frogs they sell in the chocolate shop. The rich and creamy chocolate ice cream base was chock full of whole pecans, caramel, and the same fantastic chocolate found in the Trash Can ice cream. The pecans gave the ice cream great crunch and a hint of saltiness, and the Romolo caramel and chocolate made it perfectly gooey and messy. The caramel was easily pulled and a bit chewy. Marcie’s Ice Cream combined with Romolo’s ingredients makes for a delicious dessert that you’ve got to try. For $5, we got two single servings, but they were good sized and well worth the money.

The other place we checked out was the Boston Bean Café, located at 12 South Lake St. in North East. This cozy café offers fantastic choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, dessert. Eight or so tubs of ice cream sit in a freezer case just inside the door. All of the ice cream is made in house and it looked amazing. Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry seem to always be available, but they also make more unique flavors like Key Lime Pie, Salted Caramel, and Dill Pickle. We sampled a few other flavors- Peanut Butter and Raspberry Chocolate Torte- but Amanda settled on Banana Split and I ordered Fluffernutter. The Banana Split started with a creamy banana base and was filled with chocolate chunks, strawberry preserves, and chopped peanuts. It was sweet, slightly salty, a little crunchy, and extremely refreshing on such a hot day. The chunks of chocolate and peanuts added wonderful texture and gave the ice cream great contrast. My Fluffernutter was based from an item from the kid’s menu- bananas, peanut butter, and marshmallow fluff in a wrap. It had the same banana ice cream base with little pockets of creamy peanut butter throughout the entire scoop. Artfully woven throughout the ice cream was a sticky marshmallow ribbon that really brought me back to my childhood. The drive from Erie to The Boston Bean Cafe is well worth it for the quality of the ice cream. Bravo to you, the ice cream chefs at The Boston Bean. A single scoop in a cup or cone was only $1.50 and they are the perfect size for a cool after dinner treat.

Keep sending me your recommendation for summer food stops 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 Summer Foods 2
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 24th, 2012

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

This July has been sweltering and yesterday was no exception. When I arrived home from work, the temperature was still around 90 degrees, but that wasn’t going to stop me and Amanda from venturing out into the heat to try the next stop on my summer food tour. The trip along Route 5 from Erie into Ripley, NY is a gorgeous one. The view of the lake, miles of vineyards, and plenty of trees and grass makes for a fantastic summer drive, one that I recommend making even if you’re not going to stop for food. A quarter of a mile over the New York state line is Plummer’s Tavern. The small bar area was filled with regulars laughing and talking; it had a very “Cheers” feel to it. We were told to sit anywhere we desired, so we grabbed a seat in the sunroom and the bartender, Keith, brought us our menus and drinks. The menu is filled with standard bar food; burgers, sandwiches, fries, wings, and, because of its close proximity to the lake, fried fish platters. Shortly after we received our drinks, Carmen, who I later learned is the cook, came to take our order. Amanda decided the chicken tender sub sounded good and ordered it with lettuce, tomato, and a side of mayonnaise. One of the menu items, a Firecracker chicken sandwich (chicken tenders tossed in hot wing sauce), sounded delicious to me, but I didn’t want to order chicken because Amanda already had that base covered. I asked Carmen if it might be possible to get their “Super Burger” made in the style of the Firecracker sandwich and she told me that she would make my burger any way that I requested. I should mention that did not tell her that I was reviewing the restaurant for my blog, which leads me to believe the opportunity to create this custom burger would be available to any patron.

When our food arrived at the table, in short time I might add, we were impressed at the size of both plates of food. Amanda’s Chicken Tender Sandwich was huge. Three meaty chicken tenders were fried to a perfect golden brown and placed on a toasted hoagie roll with fresh lettuce and tomato. Although chicken tenders are tough to mess up, the sandwich was really good. The chicken was super moist, not greasy in the slightest, and the lettuce and tomato were crisp and flavorful. A thin spread of mayonnaise on the toasted roll added just the right touch of creaminess and tang the sandwich needed to be truly satisfying.

My Firecracker Super Burger was incredible. A juicy, half-pound burger was smothered in the house hot wing sauce and topped with both shredded cheddar and creamy bleu cheeses.The wing sauce had a fantastic vinegary bite with a hint of heat and added great flavor to the already tasty beef patty. The combination of wing sauce with bleu cheese really is a tough one to beat. The melted cheddar added some texture, but it was the bleu that added an awesome punch of flavor. I asked Keith if the burger patty was made of fresh ground beef or if it was brought in frozen and he informed me that it was frozen; however the burger was cooked so well and the toppings were so delicious, that it made very little difference to me.

Both sandwiches came with a choice of curly, straight, or waffle fries. We don’t have them often, so we each ordered waffle fries. Hot, crispy fries with ketchup and cool ranch made for a great side dish with both sandwiches.

If you’re looking for an upscale, fine dining establishment or food that’s easy on your waistline, Plummer’s doesn’t fit the bill. However, if you long for that hometown dive bar feel where everyone smiles and says hello when you walk in the door, and the menu is made up of no-frills, pub food favorites, head to Plummer’s. Many thanks to both Keith and Carmen for the friendly service, hospitality, and delicious food. The drive along Route 5 in the summer and autumn months is well worth it and ending your journey at Plummer’s is a great treat. Plummer’s Tavern is located at 10689 W. Lake Rd. in Ripley, NY and they can be reached by phone at (716) 736-2312. They open every day at 11 a.m. and close around midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on the weekends.

Keep sending me your recommendation for summer food stops 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

Plummer's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Summer Foods 2
Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: July 31st, 2012

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

After my experience last night, I’m left with only one big question- why The Frog Pond won the weekly poll by such a large margin. I was joined by Whitney and Justin Catalano at The Frog Pond in Canadohta Lake around 7:45 on Monday night. As I walked to the door, there was a group of patrons leaving the restaurant who strongly urged me not to order the stuffed pepper special because the ground beef inside it was raw. Needless to say, that wasn’t a great start to our meal. We were seated on the back deck with a beautiful view of the sunset over the lake; little did we know that this would be the single best part of our experience. Our server brought us some menus and our drinks, but didn’t return to take our orders for close to fifteen minutes. The house specialties on the menu are marked with a small frog, so we figured those were good options to try. Whitney decided on the seafood trio, a side salad, and a cup of seafood chowder. Justin ordered the seafood platter, mashed potatoes, and a cup of the same soup. He was informed by the waitress that they were out of mashed potatoes and that Whitney was going to get the last cup of chowder. He then asked for a baked potato and a Caesar salad, only to find out that they were also out of Romaine lettuce. Understandably frustrated by this point, he inquired about the coleslaw, which they did still have. I decided to steer clear of seafood so we didn’t all order the same thing and I chose the house favorite, Prime Rib. I ordered a baked sweet potato and cottage cheese as sides.

Our sides came to the table first, but we then waited another ten minutes to eat them because our server never brought silverware. While we were eating, the table next to us sent back a stuffed pepper special because the ground beef inside them was indeed raw. I’ve never been so glad to pass on a restaurant’s daily special. We each finished the salad, coleslaw, and cottage cheese, which were all pretty standard, and after another 40 minutes of waiting and watching other tables get their food, we noticed our waitress walking toward us sans food and sporting a slightly nervous expression. She informed us that the kitchen had decided not to serve the entrees ordered by my dining companions because the seafood was two weeks old and had gone rancid. This should have been our cue to say “thank you” and leave for the night, but our growling stomachs were not prepared to skip dinner. Whitney and Justin were asked to choose something else from the menu and with most of the seafood options out of the question, they both ended up with the house favorite Prime Rib as well. The steaks came out rather quickly after the orders were placed, which was very odd. All three cuts were served at room temperature or colder and were full of inedible, cold, white fat. The few pieces that we were actually able to eat were far from “prime” and weren’t worth the extremely long wait, or the $16 per dish price tag.

Obviously it’s safe to say that this meal was a disaster. Before our check came to the table, I asked to speak with a manager about our experience and was told that she wouldn’t be in until Tuesday. After a few minutes, however, the waitress returned and I was told that the manager would be out to talk to me shortly. She did eventually make an appearance, and I couldn’t help but notice that she was the same woman I’d seen earlier having a cigarette only a few feet from our table, so, apparently, she had been there the whole night. I told her what the kitchen staff revealed to us about the seafood we’d ordered and the poor quality of the prime rib. She disappeared into the kitchen for a few minutes and returned to the table with an apology and our check. She then proceeded to take my $50, the full cost of all three of our dinners. At that point, I felt even more strongly that we should have left when they told us that the seafood in the cooler was rancid. I did talk to a few other people I know who have been to this restaurant before and they said they’ve had decent food there, but that service is consistently slow. As for my experience, I honestly can’t say that I recommend The Frog Pond or that I will be back to give it another try.

Keep sending me your recommendation for summer food stops 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

Frog Pond Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Read more of Andrew's thoughts about Summer Foods 2
Posted in: Uncategorized

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