The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

field trip to Rutt's Hut

My first visit to Rutt's Hut did not disappoint. Despite growing up about 15 minutes away, I never made the trip. With Callahan's 5 blocks from my parents' house, there was really no need. I mean, I didn't even visit Hiram's (directly across the street from Callahan's) until 2 or 3 years ago. When it came to deep fried Jersey dogs, I was set.

New Jersey loves hot dogs. This place is just big enough to seat all the hot dog lovers of the Garden State.

I normally steer clear of relish but the stuff at Rutt's had many things going for it. It was yellow, not green. It was homemade. It didn't look sticky. It was delicious.

We started off with six rippers: one for Jen, two for Dave, and 3 for DMR and I to split. We wound up ordering two more.

Disco fries, another Jersey staple, with gravy on the side. These were beautifully done.

Gravy, onion rings and chili. The onion rings were too much batter, not enough onions, but the chili was over the top!

Full spread.

We ate in the dining room, but there's a order and eat standing at the counter annex next door.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Smitty's Pit Bar-B-Q in El Paso, TX

Our last stop before Marfa was in El Paso, TX for some down home barbeque. Nothing says quality like a strip mall near the airport.

If restaurants were judged by their menu covers, then we were guaranteed a yummy meal. Dan may look like he's pontificating, but we all know he'll just be a copycat and order the same thing I do.

The beef sandwich lunch plate! With German fried potatoes, beans and cole slaw.

Close-up of the grill marks and smoke ring.

You could say we liked it! The beef was a hair on the dry side, but still incredibly delicious and flavorful. And nothing a little sauce couldn't fix. I loved the soft Portuguese roll-type bread the meat was tucked into. The beans were some of the best I've ever had, maybe even the best. They were smoky with just the right amount of saltiness and not too sweet. The cole slaw was super yum, too. All the components were chopped very finely and there were even bits of pineapple in the mix! The potatoes were essentially two huge wedges that were fried to extreme crispness on the outside but managed to remain soft and fluffy on the inside.

Yay Smitty's!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Taylor's Maid-Rites in Memphis

Even shipped from Iowa to Memphis frozen and re-heated for 45 seconds in a microwave (Maid Rite's instructions) they were delicious. They came plain with little baggies of finely chopped onions and thinly sliced pickles to put on if you wanted.

I had them plain and with onion/pickle/plain yellow mustard. It tasted great no matter what you did. If you remember from Sandwiches You Will Like, they double grind their own Iowa beef in the basement and then cook it upstairs. You'd think that it would taste like a sloppy joe minus the sauce, but it doesn't because the meat is so fine and they boil it instead of frying it up.

Photo and text courtesy of Hot Tub Eric of Memphis, TN.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

the rest of new mexico = mostly disappointing meals

We had a reservation at Cafe Pasquale's but wound up canceling it. I just wasn't in the mood to spend that much money. The prices seemed a little outrageous to me - a plate of garlic fries for $11, a filet mignon for $39. The cheapest option is a veggie Thai green curry for $21. So we headed to The Famous Plaza Cafe, which is basically a diner with a Southwestern twist. We stared with chips and a trio of salsas and the three bean house salad, which also came with carrots, beets and jicama.

Salsa verde, salsa rojas and pico de gallo.

Dan's steak and enchiladas. I think he liked the enchiladas ok, but the steak was pretty terrible. It was tough and chewy and mostly inedible.

My carnitas platon with chile slathered on Christmas-style. Also underwhelming. The pork tasted like it was marinated in ketchup. Our entrees came out moments after our starters and we were seated by an a/c vent so our food cooled off before we knew it.

These sopapillas were really good though. Hot fried dough rarely disappoints. Squirt bottles of honey were available at all tables and made for a great accompaniment.

On our way to Texas, we stopped at Pete's Cafe in Belen, NM. We had high, high hopes for this institution which turned out to be a big dud. Dan's chicken enchilada's were dry and lacking in flavor.

My queso was even worse. It tasted like Play-Doh. What a shame. Honestly, it might have been the worst I've ever had. It mostly went untouched and I never ever leave even a drop of queso behind.

After sliding down sand dunes at the White Sands Monument, we settled in at the very comfortable and charming Hacienda De Mi Madre bed and breakfast in Tularosa. Tularosa is one sleepy town and a place where the restaurants shut down at 8pm. This made for very limited dinner options. I won't even say where we ate, but it was a chain and one we've eaten at on an entirely different continent. The next morning, we had a big breakfast waiting for us: eggs, bacon, fresh fruit salad, apple pancakes and homemade biscuits. Yum. If you're ever in the area, this is a recommended place to stay. We had an ensuite room, with the biggest bathroom ever. No tv or internet, but it was only for a night. There was a small pot of homemade strawberry spice jam waiting for us on the nightstand and upon checkout, we got some kettle corn courtesy of the gift shop down the street.

After eating, we sat outside for a bit and saw a ton of hummingbirds. I couldn't stop staring at them. The B&B also had a fig tree in the backyard, this one I found especially cute.

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

i am not sold on ippudo. there, i said it.

Bar area at the front of the restaurant. It is stylish as hell, but certainly not even close to the best bowl of noodles I've ever had, much less in New York.

Bowl of Shiomaru ramen, hold the kikurage, please. Maybe I shouldn't have made that request, because the bowl looked a little pathetic and spare. The slices of berkshire pork were dry and the portion very stingy. For $13 I want succulent pieces that are thicker than a fruit roll-up. The broth wasn't anything to freak out over either. Maybe I should have gone with the thicker tonkotsu style Akamaru broth. To top it off, I think they lost our order because everyone seated around us was getting their food and our bowls took forever to appear. I couldn't flag down a server, so I didn't have a chance to inquire about the status but we easily ordered before some of the folks even sat down.

This photo isn't very good, but you can see DMR's short-lived summer stache.

I was very ready to love this place, but it fell way short of expectations. Will give it another try, but for the price, I'd much rather have a bowl at Momofuku Noodle Bar, where the pork practically melts in your mouth. The one plus was watching the guy make noodles in a little room downstairs by the bathrooms.

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