My close friend Michelle has been talking up Brazilian Steakhouses for a while now. Her economically comfortable parents had recent taken the whole family out, and all I heard was that the meat just kept coming! Based on this, my kids and I wanted to take my hubby out for Father's Day. Long story short, we ended up at P.F. Chang's instead, but the light at the end of the tunnel was my Father-In-Law. He's a classic meat and potatoes guy. So, when he came out for his birthday, we knew the time was right. I checked our credit limit, and my husband made reservations at Fogo De Chao in Bellevue. Did you know, in local sign language, Bellevue is a 'B' brushed up the nose? That's right! Even the Deaf community thinks you're stuck up. Love it!
I wasn't sure I wanted the "full experience" at first, hence my picture above. I took full advance of the "salad bar," so called Market Table. I got: hearts of palm, olives, roasted red pepper, watermelon, beets, soybeans, chicken salad, spinach, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, endives, and prosciutto. I then thought better, as did the rest of my table.
Mea Culpa! I was too photo shy to take a picture of the skewers of meat the gauchos bring out every five minutes. Needless to say, once I turned my card, and said I was ready for the full experience, the meat never ended. My son, who is squeamish about meat with the bone in, ate 4 pieces of lamb. Lamb! He ate a ton of baby animal... Every meat was perfect: chicken, bacon wrapped steak, lamb, and sausage. They also serve sides of delicious caramelized plantains, and creamy mashed potatoes.
The service was stellar, speedy, and they brought my Father-In-Law a birthday flan. I'm applying for a second job, but I will be back!
Disclaimer for those that know me personally, I did go to Wisconsin for work. I didn't take a solo vacation to the Mid-West. I know my food pictures and this post make it look glamorous. In reality, I was working 12-16 hour days without break. So, on the advice of a coworker I tried to make dinner a treat everyday.
Ah Wisconsin! Home to a strange and frighteningly large area of amusement attractions called The Dells. A land where every beer has a koozie, and the cheese is fried, and trust me, your going to need all that beer to keep things moving after all that cheese... I was fortunate enough to get to tour a few different areas of this beautiful, but beastly hot and humid state, and I made sure to take advantage of the local fare. I did not order seafood on principal. In hindsight, I could have ordered local fish, like trout, but I decided to stick to meats and cheeses. I think I made the right choice.
We'll start our journey in La Crosse, at (shocker) a Mongolian Grill. This shouldn't have happened, but one of the guys I ate with was skeeved out by the dive bar we started at. The "dive bar" that quickly filled with a middle-school baseball team. I'm sure it would have been great, but I aim to please. In all fairness, he did disclosed that he had plates in his face from a past bar fight. I guess I can't really relate.
Washington has plenty of Mongolian grill places, but I enjoyed HuHot Mongolian Grill for three reasons: 1. The three gentleman I was dining with had never had Mongolian Grill, and it was super enjoyable watching them figure it out, 2. Wisconsin has strange ingredients like peas and sausage, 3. I got to try this super tasty ale called Spotted Cow. Glarus Brewing Co. recommends pairing it with cheese curds, potato chips, and pork rinds. Love it!
The Hungry Peddlar is a La Crosse institution. By the time we left, there was a line, and every table was filled while we were there. This restaurant looked a bit sketchy, but the cute elderly couples everywhere told me in was a local favorite. The walls were all dark wood paneling, and we were seated by the bar, which was decorated with old beer cans. We're talking the steel, tin lined, kind you opened with a proper can opener.
I love that they bring you all of the carbs: bread sticks, crackers, rolls, and toasted garlic bread, as well as, radishes, pickles, and carrots. It's totally bizarre, but I'm not complaining. I ordered the lasagna, with a starter of french onion soup smothered in swiss (not pictured) because I'm a triathleat. I just coined that. That just happened. I want all the cheese, in the same way that some people want to climb all the mountains.
n'I think I may have left a bit of my heart at Moxie's. This is the bar & grill at the AmericInn in La Crosse. Clever name huh? See what they did there? Moxie's has daily specials, live entertainment, and you can hang out next to the fire-pit out back, order from the Tiki hut, and watch people play beach volleyball while the Black River flows by. Also, almost everything had cheese. Pictured top left, is the Moxie's tots. I call them totchos, because they're basically nachos with tater tots instead of chips. Napoleon Dynamite would be shook. Pictured top right, is a monstrous burger with not only thick cut bacon and cheese, but peanut butter as well, and I substituted fried cheese curds, because fries weren't artery clogging enough.
Next stop was Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, and a super hip college town ta-boot. For a list of the cheeses in this post's featured photo see the picture to the left. In Madison, I had my first, and only day off (I still had to attend a phone conference). It was a Sunday, and my new friend Ryan took me to brunch at Sardine, right on the shore of Lake Monona.
Sardine is straight out of Hollywood. It's where TV characters go for Sunday Funday. I almost ordered the duck salad, but thought better and had a proper plate of Wisconsin cheese. It was heavenly. The picture to the right, is the "Sconnie," a bacon, cheddar cheese burger, topped with a cheese curd skewer from the ever popular Cafe Hollander.
My final destination was Milwaukee. We had just picked up a colleague from the airport, and were headed to dinner at the top secret SafeHouse, when all traffic stopped. There was an accident in the middle of I-43, one car (blown tire), a woman crying, and a young boy hobbling around with a 2 year-old in his arms. I called 911 while my coworkers went to be heroes. Ryan held that little boy for over half an hour while EMS responded, and a family member showed to take the kids home. No one was wearing a seat-belt. Please wear a seat-belt, and make sure your children are buckled in too. The two-year-old was not in a car-seat even, and thankfully only had a fat-lip.
We went straight from the accident to dinner. None of us knew the password, so we were forced to do the Time Warp to prove we were secret agents in good standing. I ordered the License to Kill Mac and Cheese. Surprise, it was delicious! Although, I saw their burgers. I may need to go back... I've also since learned the passcode/password, but I'm not telling.
We're going to start moving quickly through these. I'm having a bit of good old-fashioned American guilt about my food intake this trip, and I'm sorry you have to read this much. Let's look at pretty pictures together. Above is Miss Katie's Diner. Many celebrities have eaten here, including Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton. I got the Hansen Plate, weird combo, but right up my alley: cottage cheese, steak, and fruit salad.
My final breakfast was at the Ambassador Hotel, at the newly opened restaurant, The Fitz. Those eggs are nestled on grilled slabs of cheese. That's right, slabs of cheese.
For my final meal, I went to the oldest family run restaurant in the U.S. Mader's was founded in 1902, and boasts a long list of celebrity guests, as well as, some tasty and traditional German treats. I had the Rheinischer Saurbraten, which is marinated for 10 days, and served with a ginger snap sauce, red cabbage, and spatzle. All in all, I worked a lot and ate a lot. It was a pretty good time.
I'm a not-for-profit worker that loves food, both healthy and indulgent. I've eaten the 12 egg omelette at Beth's Cafe: toast, hash browns, and all. Take that Adam Richman!