Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thursday Thanksgiving Thoughts

1. Happy Thanksgiving!

2. We will be celebrating the holiday at my parents' apartment, feasting on roast turkey, sausage stuffing, sauteed green beans and mushrooms, roasted Brussels sprouts, and cranberry relish.

3. We are in charge of making the cranberry relish, which SP made Tuesday evening.

4. We also are in charge of pie. My dad and SP LOVE pumpkin pie, so we made a pumpkin pie. I insisted on apple pie, so we made apple pie, too. Two pies. Four people. Sounds good to me.

5. TXSIL and her family have been staying with us, but they are celebrating the holiday at her husband's parents' home. It's a short visit, just 4 days, and they're headed home already Friday morning.

6. Sadly, they have all been sick. I've been trying to avoid germs and not get any sicker or pick up a new sickness. I was feeling better, but yesterday I started feeling sicker again. So frustrating. Today is my 12th day of being sick. Not happy. I'm starting to feel like the house is a giant germ factory.

7. It's a day of giving thanks. I might get grumpy at SP and despair over my health at times during the year and have my moments where everything is NOT awesome, but it's not just on Thanksgiving that I am thankful for SP, for my family, and for my health being as good as it is in spite of several issues.

8. That being said, I am most definitely not thankful for this stupid cold.

9. Hope you have a wonderful day, if and however you choose to celebrate.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BRGR (Mt. Lebanon)

Yesterday my mom and I went holiday gift shopping. It turned into me buying myself my holiday gifts for SP to give to me, but somehow I don't think he'll mind that he doesn't have to go to the mall. We got hungry around 11:30 am and since we were at the Galleria in Mt. Lebanon, we decided to try the recently opened BRGR. There are several other locations (and a food truck) but I had not tried any of the BRGR locations.

This one is on the third level. I think there used to be a Mexican restaurant in the space. Inside it's bright and spacious. Wood tables with placemats, wood beam walls, there is a patio that will be open in warmer weather, TVs placed around the space. Mom and I liked it - welcoming, not too loud, bright, and a nice amount of space between tables.

We were seated right away. There are a lot of items on the menu that I'd like to try. Fortunately, mom tried two of them, so I got to sample and taste. One was Crack Mac + Cheese - pasta with spicy homemade crack dip:
This was tasty. It definitely, for me, had a kick, and I would not be able to eat this myself. It tasted like a cheese and salsa mixture mixed with pasta and there were some beans as well.
Mom also ordered Pot Roast-n-Tots - slow braised pot roast over crispy tater tots, bacon lardons, beef gravy, smoked gouda cheese. Are tater tots becoming a "thing" or I have just been finding them lately? These were tasty! Mom really liked them, too - she ate all of these (but only half her mac n cheese). Definitely a good appetizer choice.
Many of the burgers sounded yummy. Many of the special burgers sounded yummy - like the bacon wrapped meatloaf with potato salad and onion straws. But I wasn't in a burger mood. I crafted my own burger, which was not a burger but instead was grilled chicken on brioche with smoked cheddar, bacon, mushrooms, and braised short ribs. I kind of wanted caramelized onions or onion straws and tomato and some greens as well but... well, no need to go crazy.
This was good. I love brioche, love squishy buns. Nicely cooked chicken (cooked through but not dried out). A nice helping of bacon and of short ribs. Delicious. I wanted to finish the entire sandwich, but I was getting kind of full and I don't like over-eating at lunch, so I brought half the sandwich home.

The hostesses were friendly, found a great table for the wheelchair and removed a chair without asking or needing to be asked. Our server was also friendly and explained he was training someone that day. He accidentally filled mom's Sprite with water and walked away, but he realized his mistake and returned a few moments later with apologies and a fresh soda. The manager was going around, checking on tables.

Will I be back? Definitely. Great service, tasty food, a parking lot (not street parking) plus several other items I want to try - Grilled Cheese Bites, Fried Pickles, Button Buster Burger plus the spiked shakes. I also really like the ability to create my own sandwich. And the desserts in mason jars sounded good, we were just too full. I can see some special burgers SP will be interested in (salmon patty, mahi mahi & shrimp patty) plus some toppings that will excite him (spicy mango slaw). I didn't realize it until after we left, but the burgers do not come with fries or chips, which seems odd, but since I'm not normally a fries/chips person, I don't mind the way someone else might mind.

BRGR on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 24, 2014

Emporio

This past Saturday I felt well enough to go see White Christmas, our second show of the season, and to go to dinner at a new-to-us restaurant: Sienna Mercato Emporio. We walked over after the show, so we probably arrived a bit before 5 pm. We were seated right away. I spent the first few minutes removing winter weather accessories (scarf, gloves, ear muffs) and blowing my nose since the medicine had started to wear off. Finally I got to look around. Brick wall with logo on it, lots of wood tables, dimly lit, TVs showing various football games, a bar area. Cozy.
SP had busied himself looking over the Draft list. It's huge - I think we counted 15-20 beers on the draft list. I decided to stick with iced tea since as soon as we got home I planned to take a huge dose of medicine! We both ordered fresh brewed iced teas. A water bottle was left on the table so we also had waters. And SP chose Fathead's Up In Smoke, which he really liked.  
At first I thought the menu would be kind of limited - meatballs. Pick your meat and pick your sauce. But there were a lot of dishes that appealed to us so as usual, we over-ordered and shared.  
Pepperoni Fritters, parmesan, marinara, provolone. Eight balls of pepperoni goodness.
Inside the fritter. SP isn't a fan of pepperoni but he tried two and said they were good. I thought they were yummy and pepperoni is something I do not eat much of anymore, so these were a special treat. I ate four and took two home for lunch on Sunday.
More to SP's liking were the Crab Balls Romano, spicy cocktail sauce. Five balls withe horseradish cocktail sauce. We both enjoyed these and ate all five. Interior view:
We couldn't resist trying the Crispy Pickle Chips with bacon-ranch dip. SP is to blame. Ever since he introduced me to fried pickles, if they're on the menu, we have to try them. There were a lot of pickle chips: 
These were tasty and the dip was really good but we could only manage to eat about half of the bowl. The other half went home.
A side of Tater Tots. We had discussions and negotiations - tater tot poutine? Tater tots plain? With a sauce? We just couldn't seem to decide/agree so we went for plain and dipped them in our slider sauces. The tots are yummy - they have a great crispy exterior.
Our three meatballs, served as sliders. 
The Meatball of the Day - Thanksgiving Meatball. Ground turkey, stuffing, sage, cranberry in the meatball with gravy. It really did taste like Thanksgiving in a meatball!
Interior view of the Thanksgiving Meatball. Loaded with good stuff.
SP chose a Spicy Pork Meatball (chili pepper, herbs) with pork bolognese sauce. I didn't try the meatball because it was labeled spicy but I tried the bolognese sauce and it was delicious. I smelled and tasted a hint of a warm spice, like cinnamon, maybe? SP said the meatball was a little spicy but not too spicy and he loved the bolognese sauce.
I chose a Classic Beef Meatball with mushroom gravy. Interior shot:
The meatball was moist and flavorful, the gravy was yummy, but I was getting full so I ate half and took the other half home for lunch on Sunday.
As soon as we saw Warm Ricotta Doughnuts on the dessert menu, we knew we'd be ordering them. Five delicious balls of fried dough coated in powdered sugar and served with hot fudge sauce:
We managed to devour four but had to admit defeat and take the fifth home for a treat on Sunday.

We both really liked Emporio. Our server was friendly and checked with us on the timing of our dishes coming out (which ones should arrive first, etc). It's fun to imagine all the possibilities with 4 meatball options and 9 sauce options plus 4 serving options. It's definitely a place we'll go to again, if not for the first floor meatballs then maybe the second floor pizzas or top floor bar area.

Emporio: A Meatball Joint on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

  • I think my cold is getting worse. Even my mom said I sounded worse when she called this morning. Grrrr.
  • Thank goodness we are not hosting Thanksgiving this year. Thank goodness all we are responsible for is pie. I do not think my stuffy and drippy nose plus aches plus messed up from medicine stomach could handle a meal for 16 people like last year.
  • The clear sign I'm sick: lack of interest in dessert. Actually, in any food. I can't even muster enthusiasm for turkey devonshire or lasagna or braised lamb right now. 
  • We just changed our sheets, but we'll be changing at least the pillow cases again this weekend. Stuffed nose = mouth breathing = drool at night. Also, once the medicine wears off, my nose starts dripping. I woke up to drool and nose drip on my pillow today. Yep. I am quite a catch right now. SP is one lucky guy.
  • I just got the new Michael Connelly novel (The Burning Room) from the library. I've had it for 2 days and haven't started yet. Unheard of. I devour the Harry Bosch novels. I really want to start reading it, but every time I settle into my recliner and open the book, I fall asleep. I'm still on page 1, word 1.
  • I cannot wait for Shonda night tonight! For some reason, I thought last week was the fall finale of HTGAWM and I kept waiting and waiting to see who killed Sam but then... disappointment as I realized I was wrong and had to wait one more week. But tonight is the night!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In the Kitchen

I don't know if it's because I'm sick, or if I'm bored with the blog, or tired of lugging the camera around and photographing everything, or if it's that we have not gone anywhere/cooked anything new and exciting, but I have no food photos, nothing new to blog about. Here's where we've been eating and what we've been whipping up in the kitchen:
  • My birthday dinner, on my actual birthday, was at Park Bruges. I enjoyed my usual Sauteed Chicken and Tarte Flambee. SP had his usual mussels. 
  • This past weekend, my birthday dinner with SP's family was at Central Diner & Grille. This time I tried the Monte Cristo sandwich. It was HUGE. Delicious challah french toast with lots of ham & turkey and melted Swiss. I got a side of onion rings and for dessert, raspberry-almond cake. SP had a daily special, leg of lamb with roasted potatoes and a salad. We still really like this place. The food is good, huge portions, reasonable price, friendly owner and servers, and close to home.
  • It's meatloaf week! We made it on Sunday. We never follow a recipe for meatloaf. We never make it the same way twice. This time we used 1.25 lbs ground beef and 0.75 lbs ground pork with panko, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, diced onion, and chopped mushrooms. This is one of the tastier versions - it stayed moist and flavorful, probably because of the addition of onions and mushrooms. SP slathers his with ketchup and mustard. I add a little mustard on top. Alongside the meatloaf, we are having a frozen biscuit and steamed broccoli. I didn't take photos because it's dark out by the time we eat dinner and because I've found that meatloaf is one of those foods that never photographs well. 
  • Our other meal this week is Dirty Risotto, which we've made many times. We always add the pancetta now (we didn't the first few times) and we now buy Ricci's sweet sausage for the sausage. We also use way more red pepper and mushrooms than the recipe calls for. The arborio was a little crunchy the first night, but when I reheated it the second night, in a casserole with the lid on for 30-40 minutes, the crunchiness was gone.
  • Last week I asked for Turkey Devonshire as a birthday treat and SP agreed (while grumbling). We cooked a turkey breast then sliced it and added tomato to the sandwich. I think I might actually like this better than lasagna - toasted white bread, bacon, turkey, tomato, creamy cheese sauce, paprika - yum!
  • The other meal last week was Coq Au Vin. We are still using the Joy of Cooking version, with 3 cups of red wine. And, of course, extra mushrooms.
  • A couple of weeks ago we made baked chicken breasts seasoned with herbes de provence and a salad with carrot, cucumber, tomato, black & green olives, and goat cheese. The other meal that week was simply apple-ham-cheddar panini.
This coming weekend is going to be a 'no cook' weekend -- which is kind of exciting. Even though we both enjoy cooking, sometimes it seems like more of a chore than fun hobby. We don't need to cook on Sunday (we have some lasagna in the freezer that we'll eat for Sunday dinner) because on Monday, we'll be cooking with family in town from TX and we'll eat those leftovers on Tuesday for dinner. Wednesday we're having dinner at SP's parents' house and Thursday is Turkey Day at my parents' place. Mom told me she's sending us home with leftover turkey and stuffing for Friday.

Hopefully, my cold will be better by this weekend and we can try a new-to-us restaurant for dinner. I'm not counting on that, though. It's Day 4 of the cold and I'm actually feeling a bit worse than I felt yesterday - ?! Stupid cold.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Monday Blues

It's a gray, chilly, rainy, and possibly snowy Monday. Some people love winter and cold temperatures and snow. Some have no opinion. But others, like me, don't like any of it. I am a firm believer that it should not snow until mid-December. So this November snow of the past couple of years... yuck. This earlier, colder weather making my 2 broken hips and broken femur and other joints ache... ugh.

Colder, snowier weather means the return of cold season. From 1994 until 2004, my working years, I had the flu once, maybe 2-3 colds, and one bout of the stomach flu. Otherwise, I was pretty resistant to evil germs. Even though I rode the trolley to/from work, I managed to avoid germs.

But since 2004, since I broke my femur, since I've been in the wheelchair, since I've not been working, since I do not get out every day, I've lost my resistance. The tiniest, weakest germ makes me sick.

I was a good girl. I got my flu shot.

But guess what? I'm sick. For the third time in 2014. The arsenal of cold medicine is out. Good thing (?) we were so sick last March and bought all that medicine. I guess someone at Kohl's or the mall or at the doctor's office made me sick. I have a scratchy, sore throat. My nose is stuffed and also drippy. And I ache. Everywhere. I am so annoyed. By my count, I now get 2-3 colds a year. Mine last longer and are much worse than the ones SP catches.

So. Winter. Cold and snow season. Cold and flu season. I do not like it. I'm starting to wonder which warm weather year round office SP can transfer into ASAP.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Thoughts - Resolution!

1. After 3 months and 8 days, my billing issue with UPMC seems to be resolved. Finally.
  • Last week, I did end up paying the amount due in full because in the end, I'm too much of a goody-goody to let something go to collections.
  • After last week's Thursday Thoughts post, I spent another 2 hours on the phone (one call alone was 67 minutes). That same day, SP spent about 45 minutes trying to resolve this issue on my behalf.
  • Yesterday I got a call from UPMC and guess what? They're going to refund the payment because, guess what? The form I asked them to fax way back in September, the form that numerous reps told me was not the issue despite both my insurances insisting it was, THAT FORM WAS THE PROBLEM. The entire problem was in fact exactly what my insurers told me in September - the reps at UPMC just refused to accept that someone at UPMC messed up. The doctor's office may have never even had me sign it, or it got lost when it was sent to billing, or billing lost it/filled out the paper work incorrectly because, guess what? They CANNOT FIND ANY EVIDENCE OF THE FORM. There is no patient liability. They cannot bill me.
  • Coincidence or sexist? The issue got resolved only after SP's one and only call to the final UPMC rep we dealt with. I know I have a soft, quiet, young, little girl voice, but... I'm not a dummy. SP didn't say anything I hadn't already said. Or did he just get lucky and get the one and only capable rep?
  • Now I just have to make sure the refund actually shows up on my credit card.
2. Speaking of UPMC, I had an early morning doctor appointment today. I got my flu shot, so now my arm hurts. In the same arm I had blood sucked out, so that poor arm has lots of band-aids/bandages. My blood pressure is still good (thanks to the medicine). And, best news ever:

I LOST SOME WEIGHT!!!!!! So you know what that means?

NO GUILT OVER THIS:
 Apple Donut from Better Maid, AKA The Pink House.
We finally got home a little after 11 am (after an 8:45 am appt!) and I ate lunch and then I ate my donut treat. It was sooo good!

Also, no guilt over more birthday cake tonight.

3. My mom and I went shopping on Veterans Day. We first went to Kohl's and gosh was it a mad house. No parking. Lots of people. It was like Black Friday or the mall during the holidays. It was awful. We stood in the check-out line for 20 minutes. Then we went to the mall. That was only slightly better.

Thanks to time spent shopping, I am already sick of holiday stuff. It was a sunny 70 degree day, and yes, it was November, but the holiday music really got to me.

4. I read one of the 4 National Geographic magazines!

5. I was having some eye discomfort. Watery eyes all day long, possibly allergies. Lots of that eye gunk stuff. But also dry, tired eyes. So SP suggested eye drops. He has to put the drops in because I cannot do it. I hate having drops put in my eyes. It's kind of comical because I'm trying to keep my eye open, he's hovering over me, taking aim and preparing to drop a cannonball into my eye and telling me to not squirm but the prospect of that drop smashing into my eyeball has me squirming. The first couple of times, well, let's just say I had Visine running down my cheeks. We are slowly getting better at this.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Where We Ate: Geneva, NY

We haven't cooked/baked anything new & exciting, so I'm diving back into the vacation restaurants. After 2 days in Corning and 2 days in Ithaca, we headed north to Geneva. We arrived late on a Sunday and wanted somewhere near the hotel so we headed to The Crow's Nest. Supposedly it has a great view of the lake, but it was dark when we arrived for dinner. Here's what we ate:
SP tried the Manhattan Clam Chowder. He loves the Manhattan version.
Calamari. These were yummy, lightly dusted with a rice flour mix. All rings of calamari.
Poached Pear & Goat Cheese Salad. Mixed greens, red wine poached pears, goat cheese, candied walnuts, red onion, raspberry vinaigrette. This was another excellent salad.
We shared the Fisherman's Platter with shrimp, sea scallops, and haddock dusted with the rice flour, served with fries and cole slaw. I think we ordered sweet potato fries instead of regular fries, but we received regular fries. We didn't bother trying to fix it.  It looked prettier when it arrived - we started dismantling it and then I remembered I had not taken a photo, so we put it back together, sort of! It was good. Sadly, halfway through, I got my second sudden, awful nosebleed of the day. So I had to sit there with my head tipped back and tissues stuffed up my nose. That kind of killed my appetite, so SP ate the majority of it.
After stopping the nosebleed and relaxing a bit (it was a bad nosebleed - it took close to 20 minutes to stop) we decided to share Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

Our server was wonderful and friendly. She kept checking on me and offering tissues. I would like to go back for lunch, when we can enjoy the view of the lake.

The Crow's Nest on Urbanspoon



Our second night in Geneva, we also wanted a restaurant near the hotel. Parkers Grille & Tap House was within walking distance, but since it was windy, chilly, and threatening rain, we drove. It's a cozy pub atmosphere inside. We were seated near the front windows, which was nice. Here's what we ate:
I'm pretty sure this is the Spicy Zucchini Soup (with sausage) that SP ate.
Meanwhile, I nibbled at our basket of fried goodness: fried mozzarella, fried pickles, fried macaroni & cheese, plus chips & salsa served with a variety of dipping sauces.
We both ordered Hot Melts. I chose ham with the bacon, tomato, and cheddar with sweet potato fries on the side.
SP chose turkey for his Hot Melt and for his side, green beans.

It definitely wasn't a very healthy meal, but it was yummy and comforting, just what we needed on a chilly, sprinkly evening. I remember the sweet potato fries being really, really good. Service was fine. Our server kept our iced teas filled (SP also had a beer).

Parkers' Grille & Tap House on Urbanspoon

Both restaurants were fine - nothing really sticks out in my mind and nothing makes me think, hmmm, must return if in the area, but if we are in the area again and trying to figure out where to go, we'd return to both.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pumpkin Roll

A couple of weekends ago, we needed a quick and easy dessert. We were having guests for dinner, but we were also pretty darn busy and rapidly running out of weekend time. So I did what I always do: the Friday before, I wasted a few hours on the computer looking up dessert ideas. I ended up suggesting Pumpkin Roll to SP. He quickly agreed because he likes pumpkin and it's not too often that I suggest a non-chocolate dessert.
So I mentioned that I spent a lot of time trying to find a dessert idea. Once we agreed on Pumpkin Roll, I went back and spent more time looking for the perfect recipe. I found one, printed it, and we made the cake the morning of the dinner. And of course as soon as we pulled the sheet of sponge cake out of the oven, I remembered, hey, we have a delicious Pumpkin Roll recipe already in the recipe binder from TXSIL. Whoops. She's made it for us and she gave me her recipe. It's in my dessert binder. But I had completely forgotten about it.
Next time, we'll have to make her version. Meanwhile, this version was a big hit. Soft, spongy, light, pumpkin with spice flavored cake. Smooth cream cheese filling. A non-chocolate dessert I'd happily make again.

Recipe here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Birthday Thoughts

1. Today is my birthday. It feels like any other Saturday. I am lounging in my jammies. SP is out doing errands. I ate a banana for breakfast and an English muffin sandwich for lunch (like I do every day). Birthdays in your 40's are just not as exciting as those in your teens or 20's.

2. SP got me a birthday cake from Bethel Bakery. I wanted to slice into it after lunch, but he gave me a look so I'm not-so-patiently waiting for later tonight.

3. The birthday "festivities" actually started last Sunday when I used my Big Burrito Birthday Coupon at Casbah for brunch.
I changed it up a bit this time. Instead of my usual mimosa, I ordered a bellini. I ordered the usual arugula salad but for my entree, instead of the braised lamb on sourdough, I ordered the brioche French toast with bacon. It was fabulous. Cinnamon swirl brioche, apple compote, bacon, and fruit.

Of course I ordered dessert even though I was full. We shared the s'mores dessert: salted caramel ice cream, chocolate cake with marshmallow filling and graham cracker crumbs on the side, and a marshmallow on top. The most delicious dollop of a marshmallow ever - it seemed like it had a creme brulee sugar shell and there was a lovely crunch when we started divvying it up. Best marshmallow ever.

4. We ate so much last weekend at Grit & Grace and Casbah that all week we ate baked chicken breasts seasoned with herbes de provence and salad for dinner. I think 2 nights we had a healthy brown bread, rosemary ham, provolone, and apple panini. Dessert was a piece of the leftover Halloween candy (we had only 1 trick-or-treater).

5. We're trying to eat smaller meals during the week because from now until the end of the year, the weekends are filled with lots of dining out and holiday parties plus the holidays themselves - all the pies at Thanksgiving and cookies at Christmas.

6. Tonight I'll be over indulging at Park Bruges. Then there will be cake. And maybe leftover Halloween candy.

7. Then this week when I have my annual check up, they'll weigh me and I'll be horrified and I'll realize that in my 40's, it's much easier to gain weight and much harder to lose it than it was for me in my teens and 20's. And I will be sad. But that won't stop me from making SP stop at Better Maid for donuts.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

1. So many thoughts today, Most not appropriate for the blog.

2. UPMC still has not resolved my billing issue. They ignored a request (actually, they've ignored about 3 requests) from insurer #2 for additional information. They've been told they are violating contract terms by trying to collect payment form me. But now they're threatening to send the bill to collections if I don't pay.

I've spent 3 months trying to resolve this. It's impossible to resolve something when one party refuses to participate. Basically, UPMC doesn't care and is lazy and just wants money whether they correctly submitted a claim or not. No do-overs.

I guess my options are:

  • Pay it and be done with it.
  • Pay it and keep after them to submit the proper paperwork.
  • Don't pay it and let it go to collections and affect my credit rating. Which, honestly I am tempted to do. I do not need/want additional credit cards and as for the big items like a house and car, well, I no longer drive so I don't need a car and as for the house, well, I don't work so I'd never get a mortgage on my own anyway nor do I wish to live in a house on my own. SP's credit rating is amazing and that's all we need - I think. My only concern is this bill affecting his rating since we're married. I think it's my debt only, but...
3. I saw the "s" word in the weather forecast. Boo.

4. We watched Edge of Tomorrow this week. It was good, but I got confused at the end and had to have SP explain it to me. Even then I only half understood. 

5. Remember a long, long time ago when I wrote reading updates on Thursday Thoughts? And every week I would write that I still had a pile of National Geographic Magazines to read? Earlier this week when I glanced at the magazine bin by my recliner, it finally registered that, yes, I have not yet read those 4 National Geographic Magazines that are now over one year old. Oops.

6. This weekend, there will be cake. That makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Where We Ate: Ithaca

It's been almost a month since vacation and I still have not yet written about many of the places where we dined. We had some unexpectedly tasty meals in Ithaca at these places:


Mahogany Grill is on N. Aurora Street in the Ithaca Commons area, which is all torn up and under construction so we didn't spend too much time on a windy and very chilly day trying to navigate and explore through gravel and dirt and such.
Did I mention it was really windy & chilly that day?! I was pretty darn cold. We first tried to grab a quick lunch at Ithaca Ale House, which is across the street from Mahogany Grill, but all their tables are bar height and the regular tables are up a step. Ugh. Plus, it seemed kinda dingy and dive-like inside. So we ended up at Mahogany Grill. I was a little worried because of the ratings/comments on Yelp and Urbanspoon but I am so happy we ended up here because not only was the atmosphere much more to our liking than Ithaca Ale House but the brunch special that day turned out to be a terrific and delicious deal.
I found the interior to be cozy and inviting. Rich, dark colored wood. Interesting old artifacts on shelves on the wall. Lovely natural light shining in from the front windows.
Our server was terrific. SP settled on iced tea while I chose hot tea. Lots of points for serving what I find to be one of the better Earl Grey teas: Harney & Sons.
We both ordered the same thing, the brunch special of the day: Berkshire ham, potato pancakes with sour cream, 2 eggs any style (scrambled for me, fried for SP), biscuit, and fruit.
This was a huge plate of food! The ham was a huge, thick slab and so darn hammy delicious. My eggs were nicely scrambled, and I ate those first since I really don't like cold eggs. The potato pancakes were, in our opinion, amazing. Some potato pancakes are smooth like a breakfast pancake. Some are entirely made of shredded potato. These were like a blend. It was creamy and yet there were also tiny grated bits for a bit of texture. I'm not sure what, is any, seasoning was used in making these, but these were not bland potato pancakes like I've had at many other places (and even made myself).

This was just what we needed. SP managed to eat everything except a bit of biscuit. I got my biscuit and about 1/3 of my ham boxed up and ate it the next day for breakfast. We'd definitely go back for brunch - it looked like these same components were available on the regular menu in other brunch combinations (but maybe not this exact ham). It wasn't very crowded when we arrived without a reservation around 11:30, but by the time we left, it had filled up.

Mahogany Grill on Urbanspoon


Ithaca Bakery

Our Sunday morning in Ithaca was filled with a hike to the falls at Taughannock Falls. It was a beautiful, sunny, and warmish day, but the hike was all in the shade and by the time we finished the round trip, I was frozen. My fingers were so cold I couldn't even straighten them, or hold anything (like the camera). I was hungry and frozen!

We first tried to go to Carriage House Cafe, but there was a 45 minute wait plus it's street parking only and the area is very hilly and steep, which isn't good for the wheelchair. So we went to Ithaca Bakery instead. They have a parking lot but this place gets very busy on Sunday at lunch time and we had to wait/circle a bit to finally get a space. The menu is HUGE!
You order at a counter (there are several, depending on what you are ordering). Then you take a seat (if you can find one) and wait for your food. Since it was crowded, we snagged a table as soon as we saw a free one and parked me. SP used the bathroom while I used my phone to look at the menu and decide on a sandwich. Then he got in a line and used his phone to figure out what he wanted while he waited in line.

He chose Van Dorn's Vegan: house made hummus, roasted red peppers, tomato, sprouts, on oatmeal wheat bread. I think it sounds disgusting, but he thought it was delicious.
I chose The Parisian panini - roasted turkey, 3 fruit chutney, spinach, brie on toasted sourdough.
I got the chutney on the side just in case I didn't like it, but it was delicious. This hit the spot, just filling enough. We'd go back if we're in Ithaca again.

Ithaca Bakery on Urbanspoon



This isn't really Ithaca, but it was on our way from Cornell to Ithaca, in Elmira. It's not wheelchair accessible, so SP went in and got our food to go and we ate in the car.
We both chose lunch combos - soup and half a sandwich. I had high hopes for the soup. SP chose Chicken Noodle soup and he enjoyed it - but I don't think he's ever met a soup he didn't enjoy.
I chose Cream of Potato. At first, I really liked it even though it was not as creamy as I expected. There was a lot of dill. Sadly, by the third or fourth spoonful it was apparent there was waaaaay too much pepper in it. My mouth was tingling as if I was eating spicy food. SP tried it and also said it had way too much pepper. This did not get eaten. It got tossed. Yuck.
SP had half a turkey sandwich and it was OK. I had half a ham and cheese and it was OK.
I like that the ham was grilled, and the bread was, too, but this was not what I was expecting. I don't recall the menu saying grilled and I had been eating a lot of grilled cheese up to this point on vacation so I was disappointed. Since my soup was inedible and I had only half a sandwich, I ended up eating all the chips, and I don't like chips that much. I do not think we'd try this place again if we're in the area.

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