Eat Here! St. Burch Tavern; Iowa City, IA

IMG_0243.JPGEver since hearing about the purchase of what was the former Atlas restaurant by the BIg Grove/Pullman group and the announcement of changing it to a fresh seafood bar I’ve been chomping at the bit to visit. Finally, I got to head to St. Burch on Friday night and I must say, my expectations were exceeded.

I did call and make reservations which was a good idea since the place was absolutely packed. We waited down in the den which has sweet vibe to it. A ton of cocktails to choose from and a beer list that included some Big Grove offerings. I kept it a beer night had a couple blood orange arms race although next time I might have to try a couple of cocktails as they looked mighty tasty. After a brief wait our table was ready and I must say, St. Burch’s menu is tough to order from just because of so many terrific sounding options. Fresh seafood, burgers, sandwiches, steaks, chops, etc. all available and all mouth watering. Click HERE for a link to their menu.

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We started off with the seafood tower, which you can see by the picture, I enjoyed a bit too much as I didn’t even get a picture of the food. There are 2 different “tower” options, one that feeds 2-3 and one that feeds 5-6. We got the 2-3 and it was excellent. Fresh oysters on the half shell, two different kinds I believe, salmon spread, shrimp cocktail, and tuna tartare. All excellent, the oysters didn’t stand a chance. Fresh and delicious. My table shared a bunch of entrees. We went with the Duroc pork chop, 2 orders of the lobster pot pie, and 3 fried oyster sliders. I enjoyed them all but the pork chop and the lobster pot pie were simply amazing. The pot pie is something you just have to order because it’s that awesome and you’ll regret not getting it if you don’t. The chop was cooked perfectly and served on a bed of cheddar cheese grits which were excellent as well.

So much good food to order. I did see someone order the short rib and it looked stunning, so I know for sure on my next trip I’ll be getting that and lobster pot pie and the seafood tower and a loose meat sandwich and a shit ton of oysters…… Two HUGE thumbs up to St. Burch, a restaurant that Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area needed. Cheers to Chef Smart and Cory Kent for handling a busy ass night shucking oysters and getting folks seated. Great time here, can’t wait to get back. Until then you guys need to eat here!

Restaurant Review: Hudson’s Southside Tap; Iowa City, IA

hudson'sA visit to a familiar area of Iowa City was in store for my wife and I as we were on our way to visit Hudson’s Southside Tap in Iowa City. We used to live in the Pentacrest Apartment complex downtown (very close to the bars….too close to the bars) and frequently visited the Pancheros on that side of town. Oh how I wish Hudson’s would have been there during that time!

IMG_2280.jpgWalking into the restaurant you are greeted with an inviting pub feel. Dark wood tables and a bar area that highlights the booze and taps. Very cozy, a place that I could spend hours in and feel right at home. I of course noticed the 40 tap handles on the back wall and was excited to dig into a few beers.

On the menu, I was expecting basic IMG_2282.jpgpub fare, but Hudson’s gives you more than that. An upscale pub fare if you will. When checking out new places I like to order multiple items, or I’m a fat ass who overeats, could be either of those…but anyway, I started with some basic chicken wings.

photo 2 (7)I’m a big fan of great chicken wings…not breaded (except for the Wig and Pen, love those), fried until crisp, with the perfect amount of sauce, and I must say, Hudson’s has some of the best wings I’ve had in some time. Their homemade blue cheese dressing and ranch where icing on the cake. Would go back to try their other sauces, but I would have no problem ordering the basic Frank’s sauce wings again.

photo 3 (2).JPGThere are also some slider options on the menu and I went with the pulled pork slider. Perfect amount of sauce, excellent pork with a touch of smokiness, very good slider. My wife had a short rib philly cheese steak with jalapeno cream photo 4 (5).JPGcheese. It was excellent, albeit a bit messy, but something we would order again. My main dish was the shrimp po’ boy. I’m a po’ boy junky, would eat them everyday and this one added it’s own touches to a traditional sandwich. A creole spiced may addition added to this sandwich. The shrimp were huge and cooked perfect and the bread was crunchy on the outside but nice and chewy in the middle.

photo 5 (2).JPGAll of these items, (I finished everything) were washed down with a Big Grove Brewery Que Sera and then a Boulevard Tank 7. For being relatively new they did a nice job getting Iowa beers on tap and I can see more Iowa tap handles as Hudson’s continues to get their feet wet.

There hadn’t been much of a reason for me to visit Iowa City’s south side anymore, but Hudson’s has now given me that reason. Looking forward to going again….oh yeah, we took our loud 1 year old daughter and wait staff couldn’t have been more friendly and playful with her. Highly recommend a visit to this local tap!

 

Pullman Bar and Diner Celebrating Local Craft Beer Week

pullmanPullman Bar and Diner in downtown Iowa City will be celebrating drinking local this upcoming week. Each day they will be adding two Iowa craft beers on tap as well as having representatives from each brewery talking about their beer. Here’s the official announcement from Pullman along with the beer lineup:

Just a little FYI for next week. Pullman along with some other fine establishments will be doing a local craft beer week. We will be doing a progressive tap takeover starting Monday at 3 pm. Each day we will add two new local craft beers. Matt O’Neil (local mason/artist and super talented) will be painting each brewery on our vestibule leading into the restaurant. Also, each day at 3-5 pm we will have representatives from each of these breweries here to talk about their beers. So, if you want some insight and meet the people behind the beer, here’s your chance! All of these beers will be discounted during our happy hour from 3-6 pm. Here are the beers along with schedule of who’s going to be here and when. Cheers!

Monday: Wilson’s Orchard – Hard Cider, Hoppy Hard Cider
Tuesday: Exile Brewery – Gigi (Gold Medal), Raspberry Bohemian
Wednesday: Turner Alley – Czech Pilsener, Woods Wheat
Thursday: Lion Bridge – Work Comp (Gold Medal),Sorachi Liberace (New saison)
Friday: Big Grove Brewery – Desperate Measures, and the coffee version of Richard the Whale.

Restaurant Review: The Jitney Wine Bar; Monticello, IA

jitney menu 1My wife and I are always up for trying new places to eat and drink in the Eastern jitney menu 2
Iowa area and luckily the head brewer at Big Grove Brewery, Bill Heinrich, recommend a place in Monticello called the Jitney Wine Bar. This was my first experience dining in Monticello so I wasn’t sure what to expect but as we walked into the Jitney, which is in downtown Monticello, the smell of smoked meats greeted me so I knew then I was in good hands!

The interior of the place is dimly light, which I love, and my eyes go right to the bar. I noticed the tap handles and was pleased to see Big Grove, Turner Alley, photo 2 (7)Founders, and at least 4 more taps of craft beer available. I went with the Big Grove IPA to start for my wife and I, and was pleasantly surprised photo 3 (6)to find out it was their latest double IPA, Dilly Dallying, on tap! SCORE! It was a family-friendly restaurant as we had our 1 year old with and sat outside on their patio. The menu was mouth watering so whatever my wife decided for an appetizer I was game with. So chose the Bacho Melt which is a Scandinavian style baked bacon and cheese with bacon jam served on a baguette……yep….it was fantastic!

IMG_1961After the apps, I needed another brew and went with Turner Alley’s Czech Pils, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite pilsner style beers out there. I’m a brisket guy, so as soon as I saw brisket on the menu that was an easy choice. I got 3 huge slabs of smoky brisket served with fried red potatoes and asparagus spears. It was melt in your mouth brisket with just the right amount of smoke and the potatoes had a perfect crunch on the outside but soft and tender in the middle. Excellent stuff…but…my wife’s meal stole the show. She went with the smoked chicken sandwich which is pulled chicken smoked gouda cheese sauce, caramelized onions, with gravy au jus on a Chicago style French roll. BEST….SANDWICH…..EVER!!!! Seriously folks, get this and a side of their asian slow and it will be one of those moments after taking a bite of food that you wouldn’t forget. So great! And a sandwich I will be craving constantly!

The thing with the Jitney is, I think they switch up their menu but I think they have some menu mainstays, and every one of them sounds terrific. The people next to us had the chicken nachos and they looked amazing. I highly recommend making the trip to Monticello to go to the Jitney, you won’t be disappointed! Check out their menus here:   thejitneywinebar.happytables.com 

Restaurant Review: Mosley’s Barbecue and Provisions; Iowa City, IA

photo 1 (4)A building that once held the bar responsible for many drunken college nights has now been transformed into a modern, inviting, illuminating barbecue joint. As soon as I walked towards the Vine the smell hit me in the face. No, not the smell of stale piss and vomit that one could get a whiff on a weekend, but the wonderful smell of smoked meats. Walking into Mosley’s, takes you back a bit to the Fitzpatricks days and the Old Capitol days but now we are greeted by families, couples, and friends sitting around happily shoveling wonderful BBQ into their faces. The bar looked immaculate
and the glistening taps get your attention right away. Definitely a kid friendly joint which is plus for us, my kids love que and now we have another place to take them.  But, oh, that smell! QUE THE SKYNRD!

Mosley’s is brought to you by Matt Swift and Corey Kent, both of whom have had big photo 4 (2)success in the area with Pullman Diner, Big Grove, Blackstone, 30hop, and of course Red’s Alehouse. Knowing the background of these two and their success it’s hard not to have extremely high expectations for a place, but man o man, they deliver!

photo 5Salivating as we get to our table I told my wife to do the ordering as I was up for anything on the menu. 1/2 slab of ribs and the Mosley sandwich which is a pulled pork butt with coleslaw, vinegar and their gold standard bbq sauce. Add a side of coleslaw, mac salad, and house made pickle slices, and wash it all down with a Big Grove Arms Race Pale Ale, we are set! Now the gold standard sauce is a carolina mustard sauce and it was my first experience photo 2 (4)having such a sauce. It went perfectly with the pulled pork! It was slightly sweet but not overly, great tang from the mustard and it paired well with the coleslaw. AWESOME SANDWICH! The ribs were terrific! Not mushy, completely off the bone. They hold to the bone just enough but once you sink your teeth in, they are tender with a little spice from their vinegar pepper sauce. The coleslaw was delicious and had a bit of sweetness to it. I missed out on the smoked sausage as they were out at that time but that is an item I plan on devouring the next time I visit. Our server was fast, friendly, and knowledgeable and the experience as a whole gets two thumbs up.

This was opening night at Mosley’s and my wife and I are already craving another trip back. The scary thing is that this place will keep getting better and better too which is going to make many BBQ fanatics in this area very happy indeed! Will be back sooner than later……hopefully this weekend again! Cheers!

Lunch at Pullman Bar and Diner; Iowa City, IA

pullmanThe latest venture from the folks at Reds Alehouse/Big Grove/30 Hop/Blackstone brings us a retro diner feel with an eclectic menu consisting of a burger to fried chicken to bone marrow. Add in a nice tap list of craft beers and the IC/CR area just got another gem of a restaurant to go to.

When any announcement that a group consisting of the Swifts are opening up a new restaurant, the excitement hits right away and your counting the days down to opening. That was the case with Pullman. My first experience was a Friday afternoon for lunch and luckily the only two seats open in the place were at the bar. Upon entering you get the feel of 50-60’s diner, from the old school stereo, the visibility of the chefs cooking up your meals, and some things on the menu with a new age twist.

photo (3)Usually when I go to a new restaurant I usually try a burger if it’s on the menu. I was recommended the burger here by a few folks on Twitter and that’s what I went with. My wife opted for the Quiche Lorraine and I was happy to see Big Grove Brewery arms race on tap. The burger was double patties with american cheese, house made bread and butter pickles and a “special sauce” which seemed like a garlic aioli. I’ve made many Top 5 lists in my day, Top 5 beers, top 5 books, top 5 movies, etc. Well, if I had a Top 5 burger from area, this Pullman Burger might be at the top, or at least close to it. Juicy burger, the sauce and cheese seem to melt together, and their hand cut fries were crisp on the outside and nice and soft in the middle. Paired with the arms race it was close to a perfect lunch. The Executive Chef is Benjamin Smart who is the chef at Big Grove Brewery so you know the meal is going to be of supreme taste and quality.

As we paid our bill I was very happy with my selection for lunch…….until I saw the fried chicken come out. My god! Two big pieces of chicken, fried until crispy as hell. I was tempted to sit back down and order but I’m trying to put a damper on my gluttony. I do know what I’m going to order next though. For all those folks waiting in line for 3 hours to get yourself some Popeyes, maybe take a trip to Iowa City and try Pullman’s fried chicken. I guarantee it will be 100 times better.

Overall, a wonderful addition to the downtown Iowa City area. The food was wonderfully prepared, beer selection was good, and the atmosphere makes you want to come back and bring friends and family next time. What’s next for this group of investors? I don’t know, but I can’t wait for the next announcement if there is one. Check out the menu items here: http://pullmandiner.com/

Restaurant Review: Iowa Chop House; Iowa City, IA

iowa chopIt’s always great when a new restaurant or bar with an exciting new concept opens up. I’ve been reading about the Chop House for a few weeks and finally had an opportunity to be around downtown Iowa City and decided to give it a go. It’s located right next to the Englert Theater, can’t miss it. Here’s the Iowa Chop House statement:

At the Iowa Chop House, we believe that great food starts with local, fresh ingredients. That’s why we source only the finest sustainable seasonal ingredients from hard working local farmers. Located in historic downtown Iowa City, we proudly carry on the tradition of culture and quality that is unique to our community.

photo 1The hostess offered us a quick tour before showing us our seats. She pointed out that the tables and part of the bar are from a refurbished barn. The “beer barn” was also made to look like a rustic old barn. More on the beer barn later, a terrific concept.

We were shown to our seats, people were starting to filter in for lunch so I’m glad we got there right at opening. The menu had everything from burgers to steaks with some great sounding apps as well. Here’s a link to the menu:http://theiowachophouse.com/iowachophouse_menu.pdf I thought the prices were very fair and I believe the food is locally sourced and then I was told about “The Beer Barn”! The Beer Barn is such a refreshing idea, especially for a craft beer lover as I am. If you want to order from the Beer Barn wall you are given an electronic wrist band. The wall had about 8 Iowa-only beers on tap, a fephoto 3w of which I’ve never had. The band gives you a max of 28 oz of beer. You have several glass sizes to choose from so you are not stuck with a 12 oz pour of something you didn’t care for. You put your band over the electronic sign for the beer you want, get a blue/green light, and start pouring your beer. You can use the 28 oz on whatever beers are on the wall. A fantastic concept! I got to try Firetrucker brewery (http://www.firetrucker.com/)for the first time, they had Exile beers (http://exilebrewing.com/) as well and finished with a Lion Bridge saison (http://www.lionbridgebrewing.com/) and Big Grove arms race http://www.biggrovebrewery.com/)!

photo 2The good news is if you want more than 28 oz you can get your band reset as well and if you don’t want what’s on the Beer Barn wall they have a huge selection of bottles and more tap lines. The barn was just a great interactive way for people to talk beer and get to try some new brews as well.

Onto the food! The burger was great! One of the more flavorful burgers I’ve had in a while and went well with the Firetrucker porter. I got to talk to the manager for a while and he was very friendly and he did say that they photo 5are pretty much booked up for the next few weekends, so if you want to get there to check it out, head for lunch or make an online reservation. Overall, a place I will be heading to when I find myself downtown and want to escape what can be the madness of college bars and shitty beer or escape the unoriginality of fried chicken fingers and ground beef nachos. Check it out, keep these new places going!

Restaurant Review: Brix Cheese Shop and Wine Bar; Iowa City, IA

brixI’ve told my wife if I could open up any type of restaurant or bar it would be a charcuterie, cheese and beer store. Food and beer go hand in hand and at Brix Cheese Shop and Wine Bar in Iowa City, (209 N. Linn St.) they have a huge selection of great cheese and meat pairings. Obviously, as the name of the restaurant implies, they have a massive selection of fine wines. Unfortunately, the Baron doesn’t really know a damn thing about wine, (I enjoy it, just don’t know much), but I did notice that they had 6 craft taps. After talking to the waiter, who was wonderfully patient with me and knowledgeable, he said they always carry a Toppling Goliath brew and are constantly rotating their taps. I went for a Destihl Brewing stout and on the recommendation of the waiter, ordered the Monger’s Choice which ended up being half a sheeps milk and half a goat’s milk halved with some sort of ash consistency that paired great with my beer. Along with some strips of pancetta and crunchy, chewy bread, I was in heaven.

brix1Along with the great meat and cheese selections they had a huge menu full of sandwiches as well. This is going to be a stop I make frequently when in that area of Iowa City. Very impressed with the staff and selection and even if you don’t know much about wine, they have some excellent beers on tap as well. I can’t wait to get back! Cheers!

Founders Brewing Night @ Blackstone Nov. 21st!!!

foundersCome one come all! Blackstone restaurant in Iowa City, IAwill be having a Founders Brewing tap takeover on Thursday, November 21st. The list of beers available is very impressive. The event begins @ 4:00 and they are tapping a KBS keg at 5!!! Hope to see everyone there, below is the announcement, thanks to Sam @Blackstone!

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List of beers:

1.       Dirty Bastard

2.       Harvest Ale

3.       Centennial

4.       All Day

5.       Red’s Rye

6.       Backwoods Bastard

7.       Breakfast Stout

8.       Curmudgeon

9.       Nitro Pale Ale

10.   Kentucky Breakfast Stout (WOOOO HOOOO!!!!)

It took some work on our reps part but she secured us 1 KBS!

Here are the details:

Thursday, Nov 21.

All will be tapped by 4:00, except KBS which we plan to tap at 5:00.

It is all open to the public, both dining room and bar sides.

Reps from Fleck and Founders will be here passing out beer schwag.

We will feature some sort of entree special as well that our kitchen is working up.