HenHouse Brunch. He had not visited the place yet, but he decided to use my visit as an excuse to get up there. I am a huge fan of brunch, so I had no problem with this. Located in downtown Spartanburg, it is in a small place across the street from the police station and at the corner of a pedestrian walkway. The dining area is small and might seat 25 people, but it's rustic and homy. Service is via counter service. There is a small counter (with a small kitchen behind it) where orders are taken. Orders are brought to the table when they have been prepared. They have some pretty good coffee, but I also had a glass of their Cucumber-Mint Limeade. Cucumber, Mint, and Lime, do not intuitively fit together, bu it did work. All of the flavors were obviously there and they actually worked together well. It had the vegetal flavor of cucumber that worked well with the mint, and the mint and lime moderated each other so the cucumber could be tasted well.
Frankenberry Cereal. I actually expected it to be sweeter than it was, though I was not disappointed that it was not more sweet. While the icing and the Frankenberries were sweet, it tasted as if it were made with a savory muffin recipe and was actually also a little salty.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Toki Underground. A look at their website proclaims it to be DC's first ramen house. This kind of blew my mind because their are many ramen shops in Chicago, including 5 within a 15 minute bike ride of where I live, so it was a place that I was going to have to visit. The neighborhood in which it is located could kindly be called "up and coming". It does have a run down look to it, but their are also indications that hipsters are starting to move in. While it's located on a major street, it wasn't obvious where it was located. This wasn't surprising to me considering the fact that it has "Underground" in the name. I expected to find it in a basement space. I was mistaken. It was actually located above a dive bar called The Pug, sharing the same entrance. The logo for Toki Underground was on the door, but it was admittedly a little confusing to go upstairs to a restaurant with underground in it's name. After the fact, I think the Underground could be ironic, it could mean not yet in the mainstream, or it could mean both. Walking up the stairs, I saw that it was a very small space (seating about 25) with an open kitchen. While there were a few tables, most of the seating was at the bar, at a counter in front of the kitchen, or a counter looking out the front windows. The restaurant seemed to employ the reduce-reuse-recycle aesthetic heavily. The rail/fence above the stairs was made up of skateboards that had been cut like a picket fence. The tails of the boards were used above the divider between the kitchen and the bar. There was a small dead tree used to hang Christmas lights. The walls had a street art design with both painting and stickers, and the bar top was uneven and resin covered with this found art sculpture embedded in it made up of nails and clips that kind of reminded me of a pinball machine. Their liquor selection, while not huge, did have a good selection, not just using the usual suspects when it came to whiskey, vodka, gin, rum, etc.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
La Tasca in Alexandria), my friend mentioned that we had one more stop to make. When asked where we might be going, he simply replied, "Doughnuts." I like doughnuts, but generally, for me, it seems to be a morning thing. It was a bit surprising, but I decided to go along with it thinking that these must be really good doughnuts. We left and yes, we went to a donut shop, the Sugar Shack. We walked in though, and stopped at the entrance. There was a chalkboard wall in front of us and a wooden wall with a small red and blue flag hanging to one side. I will come back to this in a minute, but first I want to talk about the doughnuts. The place is small and looks like a pretty good donut/coffee shop. Their donuts are mostly of the Yeast type (like Krispy Kreme) topped with a variety of glazes, but they also have a Fritter and some Old Fashioneds. They all looked very good and creative, but while we were standing in a donut shop, we did not actually come for donuts. We did stop for donuts a couple of days later and they were very good. I would compare them to Stan's Donuts, but back to the wall.
Captain Gregory's. It was a small space and very rustic space that probably seated 20 people. The walls were all wood, the bar looked handmade and a lot of the lighting was from candles and small white Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. There were a lot of nautical artifacts including a dory hanging upside down from the ceiling and a long and humorous story on one wall near the entrance telling how Captain Gregory had invented the doughnut (He was at the wheel during a storm, his doughy dinner was brought to him, but he couldn't immediately eat it, so he speared it on one of the hand holds on the wheel. His bread now had a hole in it and thus was the doughnut born.) They serve some creative small plates and cocktails in which they make everything from scratch, though since we had already eaten, we were just there for the very inventive drinks.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Denizens Brewing Co. Located on a hill, it had a two level brewing area, both of which had beer gardens outside. They also served food, but as we had just eaten at Right Proper, food was unnecessary for us. The place had an industrial vibe, especially the basement with one wall looking like it was made from ductwork aluminum. The upper interior taproom seemed smaller, so we ventured downstairs where we had to walk through barrel storage and by an entrance to the brewing area to get to the downstairs taproom. It was raining a little when we arrived, so we really had no desire to sit outside in either of the beer gardens (which did look like they would be nice if it hadn't been raining). The long bar in the basement was open behind it, so you could easily see the brewing area. Other than the bar, there were a variety of tables to sit at. They were black topped metal tables with metal chairs which looked more comfortable than the bar stools, so that's where we sat. There was art hanging throughout the taprooms, but the series that caught my eye was the hipster Presidents (and Hillary Clinton). There was John Kennedy, Barack Obama, George Washington, Hillary Clinton, Abe Lincoln, and Ronald Reagan. They all cracked me up, but I think I liked Washington in a track suit best. Denizens offered three set flights of four beers, although there was some overlap between the three. Their flights were labeled Malty, Hoppy, and Seasonal. While all had things that caught my eye, both the Malty and Seasonal flights had a Porter on the list and I wasn't terribly interested in a porter at that time, so I went with their Hoppy Flight. In their Hoppy Flight was Lowest Lord ESB, The Mack IPL, Trainspotting Pale Ale, and Southside Rye IPA. On the other flights were a couple of Tripels, a Red Ale, and the aforementioned Porter. All of the beers that I had were hoppy and they were all pretty good, but they were all pretty similar. There were differences and I did have a favorite, the Lowest Lord ESB, but my friend who is a home brewer suggsted that it looked as iff all beers were made using the same ingredients.
Fair Winds Brewing Company is located in a business park and doesn't seem to have any connection to the water, but all of their beers follow a sailing theme. As opposed to Denizens, the Fair Winds is located in a large single floor space with high ceilings that looks like it was a warehouse at one point. Part of the curved bar is located near the entrance, but it curves back into the room. Other than the bar, there are several large communal tables, one of which we sat at. They do not serve food, but it is BYOF and there was a food truck in the parking lot when we were there. The beers seem to have quite a variety in color and flavor both and flights consist of 4 - 5 oz pours of the drinkers choice. I went with Quayside Kolsch, Siren's Lure Saison, Sessions in the Abyss Session IPA, and Dank and Stormy Imperial IPA. Of these, I liked the kolsch and the IIPA best. The kolsch being light and crisp and a good summertime beer and the dank and stormy being big and very flavorful with a very definite dankness to it.
While I mentioned we decided not to go to Delaware, that does not precisely mean that we did not go to Dogfish Head. A few days after we did our brewery tour, we stopped at the Dogfish Head Ale House in Fairfax, Va. While they might not specifically brew here, it is owned by Dogfish Head and does feature their beers and did have food. We stopped for lunch on the way to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport. Located in a stand alone restaurant in front of a strip mall, it kind of reminded me of a Chili's (as far as location and heavy use of wood in the design). The food served was a bit more upscale than that served at Chili's. We had some very good starter's starting with Smoked Cucumber Cups which were hollowed Cucumber Cups filled with Goat Cheese and topped with Smoked Salmon and Dill. We also had Pop Pop Shrimp which were Popcorn Shrimp served with a Spicy Sauce over an Arugula Salad. Both of these were very fresh and flavorful, but I was a bit overwhelmed when my burger arrived. Called the Alehouse BBQ Burger, it was enormous and I was unsure at first how I was going to eat it. It consisted of two 4 oz Wood Grilled Hamburger Patties basted with BBQ Sauce, topped with Cheddar Cheese, Applewood Smoked Bacon, and Onion Rings and a Wood Grilled Bun brushed with BBQ Ranch Sauce. I did eat the onion rings separately which did make it somewhat smaller but I saw that I was going to be committed to eating it once I picked it up because there would be no easy way to put it down without it exploding. It was a very good burger even if it was enormous and hard to eat. As far as the beer was concerned, they had a set flight. Many of the beers I was interested in, but I might have chosen differently on others. It started with the Namaste Witbier, went to Dogfish Head standards, 60 Minute and 90 Minute IPA, the Indian Brown Ale, which is a combination of a Scotch Ale, a Brown Ale, and an IPA, Raison D'etre, their Belgian Ale made with Beet Sugar and Golden Raisins, and Romantic Chemistry IPA, their seasonal. Of their beers, I have liked all that I have tried. I knew that I liked their 90 Minute IPA more than the 60, and Raison D'Etre was a favorite. I had Namaste before and thought that while it is good, it isn't really that distinctive. The Indian Brown Ale, I had not had before and I was really surprised at how good it was. It had elements of all three beers that it was a hybrid off, but it was all its own as well. I was very interested in Romantic Chemistry, but it took a few drinks to impress me. It was the last one that I had so it may have taken a few drinks to clear my palate. It was an IPA made with Mango, Apricots, and Ginger. The apricots were obvious in the nose, but it took a few tastes to get the mango and the ginger finish. After several drinks, I was able to decide that it was a good beer.
The breweries that I tried in DC all had something to say for them, and it was a lot of fun exploring, though there were definitely a few that I would return to more readily than others.