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Katie Davis

@PopCultureCuisine

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Archive for the ‘Stuffed’ Category

Saturday, June 25, 2011 @ 07:06 AM

088With June almost gone, I’m feeling as if this summer is flying by without me getting to experience it like I’m used to. However, I am not going to complain because the sooner summer is over, the sooner I get to meet my little girl!  Still, it is my favorite time, because summer brings to mind a lot of different dishes to experience throughout the season. I think a lot of people associate summer with cook-outs, burgers & barbecue, which brings to point what I’m focusing on this week….the All-American…Summer Signifyin’….Good ‘Ol Grillin’Em Up Burger!

Throughout the life of PCC, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to distinguish what is a GREAT burger.  Anymore, it’s just gotten too cloudy. Now that is not to say I haven’t had some great ones along the way…, I just mean burgers can be so subjective and so versatile, it’s often hard once you’ve had a number of good ones to really tell the GREAT ones from the merely GOOD enough. You know….kinda like what they say about pizza.  Am I making any sense?

Let’s just say I have ranges when it comes to burgers and really I’ve hardly met many I won’t enjoy.  Maybe this doesn’t make me picky enough, but as I said, I have a range that can be from a White Castle slider on up to a gourmet burger….with many in between; and that being said, after seeing countless (and I mean COUNTLESS) of burger places featured around the country, I never seem to get sick of them….always willing to try another. 

And that is just what I did a few months back. Bub’s Burgers in Carmel, IN (outside of Indianapolis) opened in 2003 and prides itself on fresh ingredients, a fun family atmosphere, and their crazy “Big Ugly Challenge” (as featured on Travel Channel’s “Man vs. Food”).  What is a ‘Big Ugly’ you might ask?  It’s a one pounder cooked any way you like with any condiments you like. What makes it a challenge is you have to eat the whole thing and any sides you order in one sitting.  42,000 of these behemoth burgers have been ordered any many have been successful at finishing them, garnering their picture up on the wall; and while one pound sounds like a challenge enough, some have even taken on more with the full challenge record now sitting at 3, with 1 guy actually having eaten 4! Yes….this is gross and crazy all at the same time!  When Adam from “M v F” made a stop and tried to take on the challenge, see how he did…

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnsQKzQvhZw

 

Pretty nuts huh?  Well we just happened to be passing through Indianapolis on our way home from Cincinnati a few months back and figured this would be a perfect time to stop in for lunch.  Located on Main St. in Caramel, it’s hard not to feel at home when you step into this cute little shop.  I knew going in that there was NO WAY I was going to even attempt any ‘Big Ugly.’ Adam, on the other hand, wanted to order one just for the blogs sake….or so he says!…yeah right! Smile

 

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But in addition to their regular beef burgers, Bub’s also has elk burgers on their menu, which very much intrigued me.  So we got comfortable, enjoyed looking around at the thousands of pictures of successful ‘Big Ugly’ eaters that lined the wall and waited for our very own ‘Big Ugly’ and elk burger to arrive.

When they sat Adam’s burger down in front of him, it was almost comical. I have seen some big burgers in my day, but never one quite that large!  This thing was not only thick, it literally was the size of a salad plate in width…if not bigger…, pretty crazy in my opinion.  In addition to our burgers, Adam ordered some of their regular waffle fries, while I opted to try the sweet potato variety…, you know I can never turn down a sweet potato fry.

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I was very surprised when I bit into my elk burger at how juicy it was.  I haven’t had a lot of elk in my day so I don’t have much to compare it to, but this burger was flavorful and textured just like a beef burger, and just super juicy with just a hint of a flavor that I had never had, but o-so good!  Adam also enjoyed his burger and said how surprised he was at how juicy his was given how large of a patty it was…, because we’ve seen some BIG burgers that end up looking really dry in the end just so they can get them cooked through. But not this baby….ummmm juicy good!

Unfortunately Adam was unsuccessful and his bid for “Big Ugly” glory. However, I have to admit I am proud of him, because although he probably could have, he decided given that we had to drive a bit more it wasn’t worth stuffing himself.  Good boy…he’s learning!

SIGNATURE DISH: Burgers are their game (literally!), although they do have some other interesting items to try on their menu.  But being that they are known for the burger, we thought it best to stick with those. 

TASTE: We were both surprised at how flavorful and juicy both our burgers were, and I it was one of the better “burger joint” burgers I have had in a long time.  The waffle fries were amazingly good, but I have had better sweet potato fries.

AMBIANCE: What I really liked about Bub’s was the atmosphere. It’s location helps too. It really is a no frills sort of place with a tad of fancy flair.  What I mean is it was definitely laid back but not dirty and grimy like a lot of “joints” can be.  Rather, they have made a point to make it look and feel laid back while still being polished.  Also, it’s not a big place, so you will likely always encounter a crowd at peak times, even though it was all that chatter and buzz about the place that I enjoyed…. Just a lot of people hanging out on a Sunday enjoying a burger.

PRICE: While their “Big Ugly” is close to $15, I’m not sure you can argue with that price given just how large it is. We are talking about a pound of meat here!  The “Settle for Less Ugly” at around 1/4 pound (that I enjoyed) was around $5 which I felt was very reasonable.  Add in a couple of baskets of fries, you really are getting a good price; and while this is probably more than you would spend at McDonalds, again these are what I would call “fancier” burgers and you are paying for better quality.

SERVICE: All of the wait staff appeared to be pretty young. I would say high school and college aged kids. Still, they were all really up beat, very polite, attentive, and fun.  They all seemed to be enjoying themselves and were easy going, while still providing quick service.

This was a nice break in our journey back home and we really enjoyed our lunch stop in Caramel.  Bub’s also has an ice cream parlor at the front of the restaurant where anyone can come in and enjoy a scoop or two.  I wished I had saved enough room to try some, but maybe next time. Because I’ll definitely be back to Bub’s Burgers, so I am happy to give them 4 ½ ‘Little Piggies.’

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Monday, March 7, 2011 @ 08:03 AM

369Hi…I’m Katie and I’m an indecisive eater.  I know…an odd thing to admit, but I figure this information might help people understand how we actually choose a certain restaurant to review for PCC.  Well, most often we have a list in mind when we travel, and time and location will usually dictate our choice of restaurant at that moment.  However, if we are put in a spot where we have choices, be prepared for much anxiety mixed with hunger onset…often making the task all the more difficult.  It isn’t that I’m picky, I just have a really hard time verbalizing what it is I really want most of the time; and now that I am 13 weeks pregnant (SURPRISE! Open-mouthed smile), let’s just say the decisions aren’t coming any easier.  Rather, I seem to struggle more. 

So lucky for me, I have a husband who most of the time patiently tries to help me figure out what I want, which I’m sure most of you would find the whole scenario pretty comical I’m sure.  Most weekend mornings in our marriage start out like this, and trips with multiple lazy mornings are no exception…

Me: “I’m Hungry!”

Adam: “Me too, what are you hungry for?”

Me: “I don’t know…Food…”

Adam: “Ok, well let me know when you make a decision.”

Now this response from him isn’t meant to be mean, rather he just wants me to tell him what it is I am hungry for.  However, I will lay there for a moment, hoping that Adam will just suggest something first so I don’t have to make the decision.  Most people (or women) would be eternally grateful to have a husband that would let them pick the restaurant 99% of the time just so they would be happy.  I am not that woman.  I, on the other hand, freeze up!  His response and subsequent silence frustrates me…, I pout, and we go round and round until we finally agree on a place or what we are going to eat, usually an hour or so later than when we first said we were hungry.  You would think after 2+ years of marriage, I would know this and rather than ask, I would just say what I wanted and move on.  But as I said, I am in-decisive, and when given the ultimate option…I choke. 

I tell you all of this not just to blabber on and add a little comic relief (especially for you other married couples who I know do the same thing ), but rather to give a little background to today’s story, because this Saturday morning in Chicago was just like that.

It was the morning after our friends Jenn and Bob’s wedding and we were both enjoying sleeping in a little.  But without fail, my stomach started gnawing away and I knew I was going to need something to eat soon.  So I started to nudge Adam and get him moving, knowing the task that lie ahead with my uttering of those fateful weekend morning words…”I’m Hungry…”

I will spare you the details, but with us both being hungry, him waiting for me to tell him what I wanted, and us going through the infinite possible PCC worthy spots we could try in the Chicago-land area, let’s just say it took us a little while to get moving.  I was particularly hungry that morning so I knew something like a big sandwich would fit the bill, so we started doing a bit of research and stumbled upon just the place.

The Depot American Diner is certainly one of a kind and well worth the trip to the west side for their truly delicious home cooked meals.  They don’t try to be fancy, nor should they.  After all, this place used to be a speak easy and hide out for the notorious Al Capone.  Well, Chicagoans need not speak easy about this place any longer, cause now it the Depot’s food that is doing the talking, and it is saying good things; and I knew that when we saw a clip on Food Network’s “Diner’s, Drive-in’s and Dives” or their club sandwich that this is where we would be headed…

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veKW5QWRPew

 

That turkey dinner just looked mouthwatering, and knowing that same home style turkey was coming on that club, I knew I was in for a real treat. 

It didn’t take us long to pull up and park ourselves at the counter, which we were happy to do seeing as the Depot is a small place and there were no other seats available in the main dining area.  Nonetheless, food was the priority, so we began to peruse their menu.  Everything looked delicious and I truly love a diner that focuses on what they are good at and doesn’t cloud the menu with pages and pages of stuff just because it’s expected.

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After watching that clip earlier in the morning, we both already know what we wanted to order.  I had the club, while Adam chose a bowl of chicken noodle soup to start and the Pot Roast Sandwich; and to top it off, we ordered a batch of their famous donut holes for after our meal. 

The service was prompt, because before long I had a monstrosity of yumminess set down in front of me.  We both giggled a little when we saw our sandwiches, because I was trying to figure out just how I was going to take my first bite…

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I mean come on…right?  Let’s just say, neither of us were talking for awhile, we were both too immersed in our food; and for you regular readers of PCC, you know I’ve mentioned before my constant battle over tomatoes, but I decided to leave them on and see what I thought, considering that’s the way the cook intended.  You might be happy to know they totally added an extra level of flavor to this sandwich that was awesome!  Their sweetness really played well against all of the other rich flavors of the buttered bread, mayo, and heavy meat. 

At another seat at the counter, Adam was in heaven with that gravy rich pot roast.  I’m pretty sure that “mmm” and “oh my gosh,” were all I heard out of him for awhile.

Then…when we had sufficiently stuffed ourselves and boxed up the rest, we were presented with a lovely dish of holes.

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I have to say for that as good as they look…they fell a little flat in the taste department.  The donuts themselves just really lacked any kind of flavor and although the dipping sauce that came with them was good, I would hardly say it was the best thing I had ever tried.  Still, even though these were our last note, we still left singing the praises of The Depot and would willingly go back anytime!

SIGNATURE DISHAlthough they have some pretty standard home cooked staples, it would seem their open face sandwiches are what’s put them over the top when it comes to notoriety.  Chicago is a city where diners abound and you would be hard pressed not to find one on just about every corner, if not more.  That being said, there are very few that are putting out the level of food The Depot is; and with dishes that have so much love and flavor, it is not wonder that patrons are coming in droves to the west side to eat here.

TASTEI don’t typically order club sandwiches.  In fact, I think I have maybe only ordered 2 in my lifetime.  I typically have never found them to be that exciting…too much bread.  But this one stopped me short.  Something about the fact that it included their home style hot and fresh turkey, along with the other usual accoutrements that I could not pass up.  Adam and I were both wowed at just how good and upscale these dishes were coming from a tiny little west side diner kitchen.  I think it is safe to say that it is their attention to flavor and detail that is bringing their customers in droves.

AMBIANCEAlthough busy and buzzing that Sunday morning, it was not packed to the point of not being able to enjoy yourself, like some other PCC places we’ve been.  You could still easily move throughout and it just felt as if you were one of the gang their to enjoy your Sunday meal.  Sitting at the bar was a fun perspective and great to see the wait staff and owners interacting so lovingly with their customers.  And for being a diner, it did in no way have that old dingy or dirty feel, but rather was clean, nicely decorated, and classic.

SERVICESitting at the bar we were very well taken care of and in a prompt fashion.  Also, it seemed that everyone in the booths were being taken care of very well.  Everyone we encountered was super friendly and willing to chat, which I always enjoy.

PRICEBeing in Chicago, I didn’t think their prices were outrageous or unexpected by any means.  Many times places in the city with a lot of notoriety will up their prices because they can, but each of our sandwiches were $8.01 (you gotta love the quirkiness of the penny Winking smile).  You could easily pay for less food at Panera, so I thought it was well worth it.

Overall, we had a fabulous time at The Depot, and even though it may have taken us a little bit to research to ultimately wind up here, it turns out we made the right decision….a decision that led us to a great find and a place I hope to visit again someday.  So I am happy to give The Depot American Diner 4 1/2 ‘Little Piggies.’

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Monday, January 10, 2011 @ 09:01 AM

Well we are back from a wonderful weekend in Nashville celebrating my lil’ brother’s wedding.  Needless to say due to the business of all of that I apologize that this post is a little bit tardy.

Pop Culture Cuisine is officially a year old and we can hardly believe how fast time has flown!  Adam and I have loved incorporating all these wonderful culinary adventures into our travels, mostly because of the great memories it has made for us.  We have compiled a list of some of our favorite and not so favorite spots to share with you with links so you can read our reviews for yourself.  We love food and hope to continue to share lots of great finds with you all along the way.

SIGNATURE DISH

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1. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous’ “Ribs” – Memphis, TN

2. Round Rock Donuts’ “Round Rock Donut” – Round Rock, TX

3. Lucky’s Sandwich Co.’s “Stuffed Sandwich” – Chicago, IL

TASTE

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Louie’s – Dallas, TX

3. Twisted Root – Dallas, TX

AMBIANCE

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1. The Silver Palm – Chicago, IL

2. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

3. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

SERVICE

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1. Blue Ash ChiliAnna – Blue Ash, OH

2. PinkberryChristine – Orlando, FL

3. Avila’s – Dallas, TX

PRICE

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

3. Blue Ash Chili – Blue Ash, OH

OVERALL TOP 5

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1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Manny’s Delicatessen – Chicago, IL

3. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

4. Blue Ash Chili – Blue Ash, OH

5. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous – Memphis, TN

TOP 5 BIGGEST LET DOWNS…NOT WORTH THE HYPE!

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1. Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q – Memphis, TN

2. Willie Mae’s Scotch House – New Orleans, LA

3. Acme Oyster House – New Orleans, LA

4. Drago’s Seafood – New Orleans, LA

5. Juan in a Million – Austin, TX

BEST OF THE REST…HONORABLE MENTION

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Best Burger – Twisted Root – Dallas, TX

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Best Pizza – Giordano’s – Chicago, IL

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Best Sandwich – Lucky’s Sandwich Co. – Chicago, IL

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Best BBQ – The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

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Best Bar Food – J. Gilligan’s “Irish Nachos” – Arlington, TX

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Best Cocktail – Pat O’Brien’s “Hurricane” – New Orleans, LA

Three Little Piggies

Most Outrageous Dish – The Silver Palm’s “Three Little Pigs Sandwich” Chicago, IL