On the Road Eats: Kansas City

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I have been to Kansas City so many times for work and almost always have a great food experience.  And there is one restaurant that will remain on my favorites list!

Oklahoma Joe’s
My favorite spot – I can visit the original location at a gas station, eat great barbeque and be in and out within 30 minutes.  Pulled pork and coleslaw on a sandwich – AWESOME!!!

Gram & Dun
It’s been a few years since I have been here but the food is always good, it’s an easy walk from the hotels on the plaza and they are on OpenTable.  After a crazy rain storm that forced allowed me to get some work done at the hotel, I walked to the restaurant with iPad in hand and got a high top table in the bar.  A glass of wine with the double cut breaded pork chop, creamed brussels sprouts with house-smoked bacon – my happy dance took place on the way home!

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Tavernonna
I admit, I didn’t love this restaurant but I think they had an off day.  I had the lunch special – salad and pasta (and added a meatball ).  The caesar salad needed to be chilled – it was as if they plated it and left it sitting on the line while they waited for the hot items.  As for the pasta, should have been cooked a minute or so longer to be perfect.  The flavors were good and I would return but there are too many other great spots to try.

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Residence Inn Kansas City Country Club Plaza
I stay here quite often IF I cannot get a room at The Raphael Hotel.  It’s super convenient to walk to many of my appointments and a block off the plaza.  It’s quiet and clean and they have a good amount of parking.  One night, Marriott points…all is good.

 

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On the Road Eats: Cincinnati, Ohio

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I got lucky.  I was able to fly into Cincinnati rather than Dayton for my recent business trip which saved me over 40 minutes in commute time.  Of course I went to Chowhound to get recommendations for dining and booked a stay at the newer Renaissance in the city.

Senate
Yup, Triple D filmed here but that was not why I wanted to visit.  I like the OTR area and they had poutine on the menu.  So of course, I started with the short rib poutine and had a pork belly grilled cheese.  Super rich food so I didn’t finish all of it but a great spot to try. They are known for their hot dogs so I guess that will be next time!
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Jean-Robert’s Table
I was told that this was one of the better restaurants in town and they were right….the atmosphere was casual and it was a short walk from the hotel.  I was dining with a colleague that is great to do the foodie thing with(he was with me in Austin for a trip last year).  We decided to share the two appetizers – escargot prepared in a classic style and the Foie Gras with peach(both specials for the night).  Both were delicious.  For my meal I ordered the skate wing the keep things a little lighter rather than the lamb or steak special. We both enjoyed the meal and decided to skip dessert and head to Graeter’s!

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Graeter’s
There was a line out the door and my colleague had never been.  Last time I was here I tasted the Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip so I recommended he try that…after all, it is their most popular flavor.  I had to try the Salted Caramel.  The weather in Cincinnati was super comfortable compared to Texas and it was the perfect way to end a long day of travel and meetings.

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Green Papaya
We had a meeting northeast of the city and I wanted to eat somewhere close by rather than have to walk and deal with downtown parking.  I asked at the Renaissance for a recommendation and Green Papaya was mentioned.  Great Thai food…I’m in.  It was not as good as Cafe Thai in Southfield, MI but it was just as good if not better than some spots I visit here in Dallas.  Another great meal in Cincinnati!

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Frida 602
Flights were delayed.  And now I had two hours to do, hmm, eat.  I had already driven to the airport once to drop my colleague and decided to stop in Covington for dinner, just on the other side of the river from Cincinnati.  I had done a little homework and saw that Bouquet was written up as one of the best restaurants in the Cincinnati area.  But I walked by and decided last-minute to try something brand new.  I wanted tacos, I guess I missed being home.  I arrived at Frida 602 with colorful picnic benches, artwork and tables.  I was one of three tables to be there early but the place started filling up and I know why.  The food was great.  I started with the Al Pastor tacos and the amazing server was great to order me a single brussel sprout taco, the highlight of the whole night.  Brussel sprouts, chickpeas, peanuts all on a taco…..fantastic!  I ended with the Tres Leches dessert with toasted marshmallow and headed to the airport happy.

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Renaissance Downtown Cincinnati
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Out of all the Marriott brands(excluding Ritz), I love Renaissance.  They just feel more like me.  The interior of the hotel makes me a little happier and the boutique feel is not like a standard chain hotel.  From this hotel, I was able to walk to both of my client appointments, dinner, ice cream and I felt safe.  I will be back the next time I am in town!

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On the Road Eats: Detroit and Beyond

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For 6 years I have been traveling to Detroit once or twice a year.  I have seen a lot of changes in the downtown area and have always received great recommendations for dining.  This trip was no exception – four great meals during two days in Detroit, Southfield, Royal Oak and Fenton.

Republic
LOVED
my lunch here!  They have a few lunch specials and I took advantage.  The Ploughman Lunch – pick 1 small plate and 1 sandwich – served in 20 minutes and the cost is $20.  I chose the Cheese Board as my starter – burrata and pimento cheese with toast points.  I ran out of toast and rather than asking for more, I just ate the rest with a fork – delicious!  Then I ordered the Duck Pastrami Dip, served medium rare with horseradish mayo, duck jus, horseradish cheddar and caramelized onion on a hoagie roll with housemade seasoned chips.  Loved it!  Guess I need to push dinner back as I won’t be hungry for a while!
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Bistro 82
imageThis was my first time in Royal Oak and I look forward to returning.   It’s got a lively downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants and I read in the Detroit Free Press that Bistro 82 was chosen as the number 2 best new restaurant in Detroit.  Royal Oak was only a 15 minute drive from my hotel and after I found a parking spot, I walked over and found a spot at the bar.  Their entire menu is presented via iPad.  I had my heart set on the scallops before I walked in but based on the bartender’s recommendation I went with the Sweetbread Tortellini with sausage, carrots and a Dijon bordelaise.  Perfect meal to end my day!

Cafe Thai
imageI have been coming to this tiny restaurant in Southfield for years.  It is my must stop restaurant in this area, whether I get to have just a few bites after a client dinner or if I get to eat an entire meal for lunch. There is something very unique about their Pad Thai – served with a lemon and yes, it is yellow in color.  My absolute favorite place for this dish.  Too bad I have to travel so far to enjoy it!

The Laundry
Of course I posted to Chowhound to ask where to eat on the way to Flint(my departure city) so big thank you to “coneywitheverything”.  I stopped by The Laundry on the way to the airport, sat outside in the beautiful weather(20 plus degrees cooler than Texas) and enjoyed a meal before my flight.  What did I get?  There were so many good choices but I settled on a very simple dish that can be super fantastic depending on how it is made – Chilaquiles.  They served their dish in a cast iron skillet, covered in cheese and my perfectly cooked fried egg.  On the inside was smoked pork, cilantro-lime crema, housemade salsa, black beans, tortillas and more cheese.  I wish I could get this dish in Dallas as they prepared it – it was that good!  As I paid I noticed a small bakeshop in the back and bought an oatmeal cookie on the way out for my flight(s) home.

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Marriott Southfield
Let me start with the good.  The hotel is in the process of a renovation.  The lobby is nice and new and they are upgrading the elevators.   The bad- the rooms are old(but being renovated in the future) and well, I had to have a chat with the very nice manager due to cleanliness issues.  Let’s leave it at that.  There are things the hotel cannot control like the roadwork being done that makes this hotel super inconvenient to get to right now(August 2015) but they can definitely set the standards on the level of cleanliness which they missed the mark on during my visit.  Yes, I’ll get points due to that conversation but I left completely grossed out with plans to stay at the SpringHill up the road or the Baronette Renaissance in Novi(an awesome hotel) during my next visit.

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On the Road Eats: Chicago

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- I Love Chicago!  I started the trip in the suburbs to visit a client so I found a small spot for lunch, then took the train downtown for the rest of my trip.  I stopped by an old favorite and then tried something new.  I also reconnected with a friend from college that I haven’t seen in over 15 years…..how wonderful to visit with her after all this time has passed!

Francesco’s Hole In The Wall
I was north of the city and figured I could find a great little Italian spot.  I searched online and found something on Yelp and a few other sites on to place called “Hole in the Wall”. With that name, it had to be good.  When I arrived, I was not 100% sold but the minute you walk in, you know it will be an enjoyable experience.  I was told they didn’t have a menu – all was posted on the whiteboard shown below and if I wanted something I didn’t see, just ask.  I really wanted the Veal and Eggplant Parmigiana but was convinced to go with the lobster ravioli with vodka sauce.  The recommendation was good and the next time I am in town, I will return to try something new!

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drumBAR at the Raffaello Hotel
I met a college friend for a bite/drinks after my meetings and she suggested the drumBAR at the Raffaello Hotel.  You take the elevator to the top floor and find a mellow atmosphere, perfect for after a long day of travel.  The bartender offered a special house cocktail but instead I requested a non-fruity Vodka with lime.  Freshly squeezed and not sweet, it was perfect to end my day and visit with my friend.  We also shared a couple small plates – the hummus and the burrata.  I was told the views from the terrace are wonderful but it was just too cold me for me to explore!

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Eataly
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I have wanted to try Eataly for a while but every time I walk in, I get a bit overwhelmed and am unable to make any decisions. This time I knew I wanted pasta. Something hearty(Chicago was cold) yet simple. I headed upstairs after making my way past the gelato and pastries, ordered the lasagna and enjoyed my dinner with a good book on my Kindle. Simple, great flavors and the perfect amount of food. I will be back!

The Purple Pig
image image imageI I had to go back. My first visit was so great that I had to go back. What did I have? Pig ears and grilled octopus. May not sound so appetizing to you but it was delicious. And at 11:30a, the place was already full.  Let me elaborate.  The pig’s ear, served with crispy kale, pickled cherry peppers & a fried egg on top.  You cut into it, mix it up and it is FANTASTIC.  The Octopus…not so out there and if you like calamari, try the octopus. It’s served with Green Beans, Fingerling Potatoes & Salsa Verde.  Great flavors and the perfect size for sharing(too bad I had no lunch date that day!).

Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel
As a past and present Marriott elite, I have been staying at this hotel for years and it’s one of my favorites in Chicago(If you are loyal to Hilton, the wit and the Conrad are great!).  It’s more modern like the rest of the Renaissance brand and the service is fantastic.  And even though it is on South Michigan, it is still easy to get everywhere and the views are fantastic!

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Chicago is the perfect city for the work life balance….I get to spend time face to face with my clients, try lots of great restaurant, reconnect with some friends and get a great night of sleep.  After a couple of days, I go home to my family feeling re-energized!

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