Treadwell’s Travels – Harry And Eddies, A Second Serving, Lacking Service

As you read in my earlier blog about Harry And Eddie’s, in Hinsdale, Illinois, on my first visit a couple months back, the food was Fabulous, yet the service missed the mark completely. Sadly, the second visit was very similar.

On my second visit to Harry and Eddie’s, I wanted to create a similar situation for fair comparison, so I choose to go at the same time and sit in the same seat as before. The bartender from the previous visit was apparently not there, so I was greeted by a bartender mentioned during my first visit. (She) greeted me with “Welcome Back!” which instantly led me to believe that this visit was going to be different and with much better service than  the first experience. Unfortunately, this was not the case. While she crafted my cocktail, I selected appetizers not tried previously. Pei Mussels was my first selection and I was not disappointed. Fresh and plump sitting in a minimal broth that was flavored with cilantro and pieces of pork belly, the entire bowl topped with fries that were crisp and flavorful.

Some crusty bread to soak up the remainder of the broth would have been Fabulous, but unfortunately the bartender was no where to be found. Later when she returned, the bowl of leftover broth was cleared without an offer for more bread. The next item was a a bowl of Tomato Basil, and a bowl of French Onion soup (I like my soups). The Tomato Basil was good, although needed more seasoning to be rated as Fabulous. The consistency of the tomato was perfect, not to thick, not to creamy. I asked for freshly ground black pepper (why wasn’t if offered in the beginning?) hoping to spice up the Tomato Basil soup, it helped, although it continued to lack the balance of flavor.

 

The French Onion Soup – which was served classically served with a thick mound of melted cheese, slightly charred, was Fabulous from beginning to end. Everything was as expected from this classic soup, both in appearance with flavor, that was beyond Fabulous. The Onion Soup had the flavor of being been slow-cooked for hours, in house, by a chef who strived for excellence. It was Fabulous.

When I I asked about desserts the bartender presented the selections. I choose (2) separate desserts, Peanut Butter Pie, and Strawberry Shortcake.  The first dessert – the Peanut Butter Pie was whimsically presented in an old fashion, bell-top jar. The serving was small in size although enjoyed immensely. All of the traditional elements in the traditional presentation, yet served deconstructed.

The second dessert was Strawberry Shortcake With Burrata for topping, in place of the traditional whipped cream. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you already know my love of cheese for dessert, so the combination of berries and Burrata was delicious. In addition to being a cheese lover, real whipped cream gets my attention faster than one can say Fabulous. Whenever I order any dessert, regardless of the venue and regardless of the menu, I always request the server to add extra whipped cream, especially to something such as strawberry shortcake. My request is always the same – “I LOVE Whipped Cream, so make me look for it.” I don’t mind paying more for what I want, just give me what I want when requested. In most cases, servers are always eager to comply (think larger tip).

The bartender/server had confirmed that she would ask the chef to add plenty of whipped cream to the Shortcake. Unfortunately as beautifully as it was presented, the dessert came with little to no whipped cream at all. There may have been a slight amount added, but due to the deconstruction of the Burrata, the whipped cream must have dissipated, or disappeared. Again, searching for my server to ask why there was no extra whipped cream on my dessert, soon had become more trouble than my time was worth. Nearing the end of the dessert, the bartender came over and asked “How’d you like the whipped cream?” (?!?) “It was made in house”.  Apparently she never realized the additional whipped cream had never been added, even when she sat the dish in front of me?

The food at Harry And Eddie’s is both creative and delicious. However after two visits, you may have to settle for service that’s far from Fabulous.  When dining out, as with everything else in life, people remember the experience and how you made them feel, long after the memory of the food.

 

Stir Crazy, I headed to Oak Brook Center

I was a bit ‘stir crazy’ after a wellness visit to the doctors office on a hot summer morning. After my appointment and while driving away, I realized I had skipped breakfast, so I decided to turn my anxiety into something new and calming.  Stir Crazy, an Asian restaurant was only a short drive away. Located in the Oak Brook Center Mall, I decided that Stir Crazy was worth a try, and indeed it was Fabulous.

Walking into the restaurant with an austere decor, I noticed not only a small bar for spirits, in addition, there was also a bar for stir-fry selections. Everything was basic and functional, basic no-frills dining room, and traditional paper-wrapped, stainless cutlery. I was seated all the way at the opposite end of the entrance, on the back wall (?) The dining room was empty, most likely because I had arrived at least 30 minutes before lunch-time. Sitting and surveying, I noticed one odd decor that stood out: Light fixtures diminished by lights not working. I had hesitation, thinking if the management would allow patrons to see this neglect, what was going on behind closed (kitchen) doors? Deciding to stay and glad I did, the waitress appeared shortly with a friendly greeting. Young, tall, attractive and wise beyond her years. The first display of this old sole was her stance at the table every time she appeared. Always standing a distance, not to invade my personal space, which was impressive for her youth. Informing her that this was my first visit, she asked if I would like a tour of the menu. I politely declined, since I had already decided on the assortment of fresh cut veggies and meats on display, waiting to be stir-fried by the Chef, who was using large traditional woks located behind the counter.

I did ask for a bit of explanation regarding the different types and choices of preparation (there were many), and she explained everything perfectly. I had no confusion of how I wanted my meal prepared. She quickly returned with a a small, but deep, metal fry pan, and off I went to make my Epicurean selection. Filling my pan to bountiful proportions of crisp bright veggies, and fresh, ready-to-be-cooked protein, was Fabulous. My meal would be exactly what I had chosen from the veggie and protein bar, which included chunks of shrimp, beef, and chicken. After filling my plate, I knew it was time to select the sauce. I was impressed not only with the vegetables, but also ample selections of stir-fry sauces, which made it quick and easy to craft my lunch, exactly as I wanted it.

After choosing a creative mix of sauces and condiments to compliment my stir-fry selections, I placed my plate (pan) on the counter at the grill masters station and returned to my seat. The waitress brought me an additional iced tea without asking and I was impressed with her attentiveness. Only a short wait for the steaming creation and it was placed in front of me with the Brown Rice I had selected, as well as a few of the Whole Wheat Noodles that sounded too good to pass up. My stir-fry lunch was indeed Fabulous I had selected well and the stir fry master honored my selection with perfection of execution. When dining out at an Asian restaurant, brown rice is always my first choice, and it was a good choice at that. The Whole Wheat Noodles were also Fabulous. During my next visit – and I will return, next time I’ll change my tradition and order the Whole Wheat Noodles instead of rice.

Stir Crazy – located in the Oak Brook Center Mall, Oak Brook, Illinois, offers selection, value, service, and Fabulous food, in the most basic of decor. I will be returning there soon.

Treadwell’s Travels – The Brook Bar And Cafe’, Whole Foods Market

I usually shop at my local Whole Foods Market, near my home, in Hinsdale, Illinois. While running errands one recent afternoon and in another part of town, I remembered there was a Whole Foods in Willowbrook that was also on my way. Walking into the store, I quickly realized this Whole Foods was much larger than the Hinsdale location. I enjoyed roaming the spacious isles, discovering the Fabulous possibilities.

While perusing the last isle prior to checkout, I spot the wine and spirits section. Stopping to see the selection of Rye Whiskies, I quickly noticed a full figured, bearded gentleman, and I also overheard him coaching an employee. When he spotted me, he immediately asked if he could be of assistance? After a brief discussion of his recommendations of whiskey, my selection was complete. He then invited me to stop by “The Brook“, which is a separate cafe’ and bar, conveniently located inside the store, and only steps away from the spirits isle. The bearded gentleman also mentioned that rotating selections of beer and wine continued to keep (the bar and cafe) ‘interesting’ and that I should be sure to try it out during my next visit to the store. I thanked him for his recommendations and walking away I heard him return to his coaching.

 

Willing to get out of my comfort zone, several days later I decided to try The Brook – which as described above, is a casual restaurant located inside the Willowbrook Whole Foods. I’ve long been aware of grocery stores featuring their own cafes, however never at Whole Foods. Upon my return visit, I first did a bit of shopping, then soon after I stopped by The Brook (short for “Willowbrook”) near the wine and beer isle. I parked my cart by the entrance, walked in and claimed my usual spot, a seat near the end of the bar. After a short wait, an awkward although nice young man asked if he could help. I explained that this was my first visit and that I was referred here by the friendly, knowledgable, bearded store associate. The bartender winked, knowing exactly whom I was referring to. The daily special advertised on a large menu board, featured special pricing on selected brands of beer. I decided that an IPA (my beer of choice) would be most refreshing. Aside from beer specials, also offered were small plates to help hold off hunger. After all, one can easily work up quite an appetite while grocery shopping.

My first choice of an IPA was as close to Fabulous as possible in this setting, as well as a different IPA for ’round two’. For my third libation, I choose a red wine accompanied by the cheese plate. The cabernet was surprisingly inexpensive, with a liberal pour and worth considering for purchase, and adding it to the home wine cooler. The Cheese Plate was another pleasant surprise, and of generous proportion. Tasty selections, and at a very modest price. A few days later and again needing groceries, I decided to give The Brook yet a second try.

It was Friday, and with specially priced whiskey being the daily offering, I was already convinced I had made yet another good decision. Again, the same nice, awkward young man offered his help. Selecting a rye whiskey and pairing it with a cheesy Gnocchi with Red Sauce, was a Fabulous choice. After deciding on a final glass of wine at -what I thought would be the end of my meal, the nice young man asked – “Would you also like the cheese tray with your wine as you did last time?” Very impressed with his memory and his attempt at Fabulous service, I said yes! Again the cheese tray was consistent in presentation and quality, yet one of the cheese selections in particular, was especially outstanding. So much in fact, I wanted to know the name of this Fabulous cheese so I could purchase it at check out. This was a Whole Foods Cafe after all, so there was no doubt that practically everything offered on the menu, was also available in the store itself. My assumption was correct, and directly beside the cafe, the friendly cheese monger pointed me directly to the cheese I had at the bar. Definitely a home run.

A grocery store cafe and bar with quirky, yet courteous service, was indeed an anomaly, and on so many levels. However with that thought, I most likely will try The Brook again, of course for the most comprehensive of quality control measures.

 

Treadwell’s Fabulous Find

June is Gay Pride month. I am thankful, and forever grateful to those who stood up to oppression June 28, 1969 at the Stonewall Inn, in New York City.

The rainbow has become a silent symbol of the gay pride movement and a way for us to proudly wear our true colors.

Burberry, did a runway show for The Trevor Project and although there were several items from this collection that I would enjoy owning, there was one item in particular, that I knew was a must have. I like the plaid – which is Burberry’s Trademark and namesake, and of course I like the colors and message of the rainbow. Burberry’s combination of these two iconic symbols, is Fabulous.

Of their recent Rainbow Collection, my most favorite are the shoes. The sneakers are the familiar Burberry plaid, perfectly matched, creating a perfect, comfortable, shoe. As if perfection of plaid matching and comfort was not enough, a rainbow adorned these must-have sneakers.

The rainbow paired with Burberry’s iconic plaid is subtle, and it may take a second look, before realizing the rainbow adorns these Fabulous sneakers. I have received many compliments on them – with the ‘foot note’ of “Oh I just noticed the rainbow”. These sneakers are not only comfortable, they have become one of my favorite pair of shoes (and I own many pairs). I have great respect for a company like Burberry that has the strength to do a runway presentation for The Trevor Project. In addition, they labeled their signature plaid with the rainbow, proudly honoring those that have proceeded me in the struggle for human rights both in memory and in present time.

In this month of Pride and for the continuing fight for LGBTQ Equality, stand up for what you are proud of and display your symbol of strength to help those that will follow. Not just for Pride Month, but for all other days as well.

Treadwell’s Travels – Davanti Enoteca – Western Springs, IL

 

Wanting to try a place that I have not tried before, became the inspiration for trying Davanti Enoteca, an Italian Restaurant, located in Western Springs, Illinois.

Walking in, right away I liked the energy and look of comfort of the dining room and bar. Seeing that my favorite position at the bar (I always choose a seat at the bar closest to the far end) was available, I immediately felt this was the place to be. A single bartender for the bar and the large bar area seating, made me wonder how the service would be?

The bartender was very efficient, and she seemed always in motion, although spread way to thin to offer Fabulous service, had she been capable of doing so. In fact, her personality seemed as though she wasn’t capable of offering Fabulous, personalized service, even if I had been the only person in the restaurant. After perusing the wine list and ordering my first glass, she returned serving the smallest pour of wine I have ever seen in my entire life of dining out.

I’m assuming she is beyond efficient at saving money for the company, since she obviously could squeeze more glasses of wine out of one bottle, than I ever thought possible. The wine list was good, pricey, especially for the pour, although enjoyable. I began with a Cheese and Meat Board that matched the continuing theme, pricy and scarce, especially the cheese offerings. I have never seen 3 pieces of cheese cut so small for a cheese board? On the other hand, the amount of Prosciutto was far more than adequate. The selections were all good, just not enough for the price, especially for the pricier “large” cheese board, as opposed to the lower priced one.  Maybe I should have requested less meat, and more cheese?

The Burrata was very good although not Fabulous. The Cauliflower Steak, was grilled to perfection, flavorful, and Fabulous. However, the Brussel Sprouts, topped with an over-easy egg, gave the Cauliflower some stiff completion for best dish.

A salad of Peas And Fava Beans was an excellent addition to a Fabulous Fare. One redeeming gesture from the barmaid, was a complimentary glass of Lemonchello at the end of the meal, although it appeared to be a homemade imitation that was a waste of calories.

Davanti Enoteca is a place I would like to return, since the food was Fabulous. Although there is a pause of concern regarding the service.

Treadwell’s Travels: A Flat Tire, a Cat, and White Castle Burgers

On a recent road trip returning to Illinois from Florida, I made an unexpected stop in Florence, KY at TireDiscounters. While driving north on Highway 75, I hit a pothole that tore a hole in my tire, causing an immediate flat. While thankful for a Fabulous car that allowed me to remain in control so I could navigate to the shoulder, and having roadside assistance to change the tire even with the hour wait, I was concerned since I was traveling with my cat Halston. When roadside help arrived, they asked if I had a ‘donut’ or full size tire? Since the car was new, and since I’ve never changed a tire in my life (they’re people for that), upon opening the trunk, I learned my car had a full size spare, so I (assumed) that I could continue my trip with no additional delays. After road-side assistance installed the spare tire on the car, he informed me that the spare tire had a ‘bubble’ and that he would not recommend driving too far without the purchase of a new tire.

Here I sat, on the side of the interstate, with my cat Halston in the car, now needing a new tire. Google to the rescue! I was able to locate a tire store about 15 miles away and so I called to check if they had a tire that would fit. “No”, was the answer, although they did say they would call the next tire store north on Interstate 75, to see if they had a tire that would fit my car. Success! That store had the exact same tire. Off we went, to what I *thought* was the correct destination, about 30 miles away, programed into navigation. Finding the store, I discovered they did not have the tire I needed. I asked the gentleman at that particular TireDiscounters location (second location) what he recommended? Though they did have tires that would fit my vehicle, they were not exactly the same. After making some phone calls, he found that the location of yet another TireDiscounters – one exit away, had the exact match to the tires that are on my car.

Off I go to the third location to learn that not only did they have the tire I needed to matches the others, they had no problem with me bringing Halston, my cat, into their lobby for the 2 hour wait. Halston is the perfect traveling cat and relished in the attention he received during our wait. The staff could not have been nicer, commenting on how well mannered Halston was, and welcoming him back at any time. After 2 hours, (4) White Castle Hamburgers (White Castle was conveniently located across the street) and a bottle of water later, we were on our way, safely home.

All three experiences with TireDiscounters during a short time were exceptional, and for that I am appreciative, especially being nice to Halston. He survived, and so did Yours Truly.

Treadwell’s Travels – Destination: Sammy’s, Vero Beach

Sammy’s Mediterranean Cafe, Vero Beach Florida

 

Running errands and approaching lunch time, the decision of where to go that I had not been before? I remembered that a friend mentioned Sammy’s. I confessed that I’d never heard of it?

Walking into Sammy’s Mediterranean Cafe, the first impression is basic and efficient in appearance. When the server came to the table, it was immediately confirmed the staff was also efficient. The server was nice, polite, young, and apparently unexperienced. She did keep the water and iced tea glasses full and the table clear. Efficiency in motion, although she had not yet developed a strong personality which can be helpful in the service industry. Starting with Kalamata Olive Humus and Grilled Eggplant, both were Fabulous choices. Both were presented more like a white table cloth restaurant, in a simple, non-pretentious, very casual cafe.

The true test for Fabulous is flavor, and neither disappointed. The humus rich and creamy, drizzled with tasty olive oil and accompanied with pita for dipping. The grilled eggplant slices topped with sliced tomatoes were crisp and flavorful. Both are appetizers that I would definitely order again.

 

 

For my main course, I selected a dish described perfectly and one I had tried previously, so it was an easy decision. My dish was Lentils Over Brown Rice topped with grilled onions. Fabulous perfection on a plate! The onions had been cooked to cartelized (dried) perfection, and topping the lentils that were still firm, yet completely cooked sitting on top of the fluffy brown rice. The seasoning was spot on, making this dish a must have upon my return to Vero Beach. The most unexpected pleasant surprise so far on my visit is Sammy’s. Do not expect tablecloths. Although the light fixtures are Fabulous, they need to decide what color bulbs to use, cool or warm, since they distracted from the beautiful and unexpected lighting in this otherwise plain decor.  In short, Sammy’s is plain, simple service, yet Fabulous Food.

Sammy’s Mediterranean Cafe – 1130 20th Pl, Vero Beach, FL 32960 /  (772) 217-3897

Treadwell’s Travels – Destination Vero Beach – Tea and Chi

Tea and Chi, Vero Beach Florida

 

After a walk on the beach, I wanted lunch so we headed for Tea and Chi, in downtown Vero Beach Florida.  Tea and Chi  just a short drive from the beach to it’s 14th Street location, and well worth the drive. I truly enjoy tea more than coffee which is why I start my morning with hot tea, rather than the traditional java. Tea and Chi is the most eclectic shop I have visited in a long time. To focus on a single item can be a challenge, as there are many items to capture your attention like a twinkling star in the night sky. The limited menu is hand written on a board above the check out stand. Soups and sandwiches predominate with sprinklings of other offerings. I selected one of the soups, split pea and ham with a humus pita. To drink I asked for an iced tea.

My traditional black tea, freshly brewed arrived in about 5 minuets and was Fabulous. The soup and sandwich arrived shortly there after. The soup was Fabulous, thick and rich, seasoned to perfection. The humus pita, a sandwich I had not experienced previously, was also Fabulous. The humus was creamy and flavorful and generously sprinkled with veggies giving the crunch as well as the mouth feel of the rich humus. I would return on any day when offerings include these Fabulous delights. About half way thru my lunch one of the owners walked in the door and without hesitation said “Good to see you! Welcome back!” Now that’s how you build a business, Fabulous products and a Fabulous memory, especially since I had not been back to Vero Beach and Tea and Chi, for nearly 2 years.

Wanting a bite of something sweet, I selected the baclava and a pecan delight, both decadent and Fabulous. The perfect ending to a perfect lunch. My only disappointment was they were no longer offering the best scones on the planet and the best scone mix on the planet. The owner said she was no longer able to get the only flour she uses for both and would not compromise her standard of perfection.

Prior to departure I could not resist purchasing pounds of the loose tea to take home for a taste of Tea and Chi during my morning ritual. Another must visit when I return to Vero Beach.

Guess What I Found?

 

Harry And Eddies, Hinsdale, Illinois – (Part One)

 

I recently found a Fabulous new restaurant in Hinsdale, IL.  Harry and Eddie’s is a restaurant that wants to compete with it’s neighbor just a couple of doors down and it has done a Fabulous job for just 2 days open. I enjoy eating at the bar to evaluate a restaurant and tonight was no exception. Sitting at the bar you can hear things you would be oblivious to, rather than at a comfy table. Dressed in blue, the bar seats were comfortable, however I think too many bar stools crowded the overall bar experience. The stools were literally crammed together. When dining out, it’s always about the experience, as Fabulous service will bring me back faster than Fabulous food. I can easily find Fabulous food, even at home, although finding Fabulous service is more of a challenge.

With two bartenders and less than 6 people at the bar, during my 2 hour epicurean adventure I thought the service would be flawless. Unfortunately the service was lacking, and should have been worked out at their soft opening during the previous Saturday. The gentleman bartender said (the bar) was ‘his baby’, that he was in charge, and had created the (somewhat limited) craft cocktail menu. The bartender (bar manager-?) had a ready smile, and personality to match the Champaign he served, bubbly and sparkling.

My only concern to Fabulous, was his lack of attention to every detail. No glass should ever be empty, and offers of more food when the appetizer plates were empty is a must for Fabulous. Even when he removed the finished plates, no suggestions of something more were tendered. Empty plates and empty glasses should always be acknowledged with suggestions of corrections. Four appetizers and a main dish were served with beautiful attention to detail and generous in portions. Although when complete, not even a suggestion of dessert. The food was Fabulous in every way. The look, the portion, the attention to detail – all were Fabulous.

The Zucchini Bites were crispy and lightly tempura fried to perfection, appearing to be fresh cut, rather than frozen. The Tomato, Basil and Cheese was Fabulous. Large, thick cuts of heirloom tomatoes were tasty, crisp, and fresh with summer flavor. The Avocado Toast, the best I have ever had. A large portion on freshly toasted bread and creamy avocado topped with peppery arugula. The contrast of flavors and textures created a Fabulous appetizer. In fact someone had actually asked me what the dish was, later when I was leaving. I told them it was the best and they should try it, and assured them they would not be disappointed. The final of the four was a creamy blend of Cheese and Honey served in a pot with a spoon to generously slather on the warm crusty bread, along with the honey and comb provided to compliment the dish.

The main dish was there nightly special of Shrimp and Grits. Being a southern boy, I have had my share of grits. The best of memory was the grits served many decades ago at the Regency Hyatt House on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, until I tried the chefs creation for his nightly offering. The grits were decadently delicious, creamy to perfection and seasoned to Fabulous. The shrimp were cooked tenderly, accompanied by Andouille sausage bites giving an additional hint of spice.

The general manager asked how the Shrimp and Grits were as the chef wanted to know, since it was the first of the nightly special served. I told him it was a much different Shrimp and Grits, however I also replied that the dish was Fabulous, and asked the GM to please give the chef my accolades. The general manager was nice although automated. It did give me a feeling that there was concern for my experience. The food experience was Fabulous and I hope the service catches up to the food. Although not overpriced for portions and quality, it was not economy fare. I will try it again and would be willing order the same selection again, although I do want to try some of the other offerings, while hoping the service has been polished to perfection.

Starting a culinary tour soon, so look for a review, that might be from your neighborhood.

John Treadwell  772-453-4137  john@fabulousface.com

www.fabulousface.com   www.didyoudressinthedark.com

 

Treadwell’s Travels: Destination The Patio, Vero Beach Florida

 

I have been going to The Patio since 1993, through closings and multiple owners. So far, nothing has achieved the original including my most recent visit. It was a Wednesday night in Vero Beach, Florida, and where do people go for entertainment? The Patio and Open Mic. I sat at the bar in an ideal seat for a view of the entertainment and I use the word entertainment with poetic license. The band supported all that came up to the mic to share their talents. It is a fun night both listening to the talented and the not so talented. I swear I could hear my cat Halston howling only a couple of miles away.

The gentleman behind the bar was nice with a pleasant smile, although not engaging. He did pour a full glass and for that I was appreciative. After listening to a couple of people singing while having my first relaxation drink, I ordered appetizers. The Tempura Fried Asparagus was Fabulous except for the woody ends of the asparagus stems, that should have been be cut off and discarded. The Mussels were plentiful in the bowl and after I took the first bite I knew why, they wanted to get rid of the Mussels as they were obviously far less than fresh. These Mussels had not felt the water in weeks and should not have been served. In fact many of them had not opened after steaming, a sure sign they were bad.

When they cleared the dishes, no one asked why I did not finish my order of Mussels. This must be common place that no one wants to know. A credit to the tab should have been issued but no suggestion of that, just ignoring the issue of the obvious.

The last thing I ordered was Baked Brie, one of my favorites to finish off a meal. This presentation was not made in house and should have been left at the wholesaler. A small portion of brie was encapsulated in flaky pastry and baked to golden brown. Sliced apples were served to compliment the cheese, however the apples and cheese were not enough to save this dish. The entire presentation was lavishly drizzled with a store bought (Kraft-?) caramel sauce, of sickening sweetness.

In conclusion: Do no go for the food, and do not go for the entertainment, unless you like to witness a collection of mature hipsters in their costumes of youth. The only reason to go, would be for a good drink of generous pour.