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Author Archives: Breakfast with Nick

Propaganda Donuts | Grand Rapids, MI

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Propaganda Donuts (Facebook / @PropagandaDonut)

117A S. Division Ave. (map it!)
Grand Rapids, MI 40503
Open Mon, Wed-Sun, 8a-12p; open Fri & Sat, 8p-12a
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/Y

Visited: Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 9:30a

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“Danger. Intrigue. Donuts.” That’s the tagline for Propaganda Donuts, a hip new donut shop set up just south of downtown Grand Rapids on Division Avenue. It sets up an air of mystery and curiosity, which is followed through with a location more like a film noir set than a traditional donut shop. The space itself is an old storefront – one I’ve never visited before – with an in-set tiled entryway, a wooden door, and big windows.

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The sandwich board out front gives you another clue that these donuts will be anything but traditional.

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The interior is one long room, the left wall all exposed brick. There’s a small counter, while the rest of the customer space is dedicated to a few seats for waiting and a desk.

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Even the counter itself is stacked with stuff like detective novels, an old wooden filing cabinet, a bottle of moonshine, binoculars.

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A small display case shows off the offerings for the day. It takes a moment or two to triangulate which sign goes with which donut.

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When we visited, 5-6 people were waiting for one of their daily specials – a French cruller – to be made. But we hopped right up to the counter, ordered, and were on our way.

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The old desk in the waiting area keeps up the detective theme, with books, a typewriter, newspapers (some real, some fictional), and photos.

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Propaganda is nailing the style, and it’s not without substance. We grabbed one of each of their daily offerings. These ranged from the standards of plain, powdered, and cinnamon sugar to more unique eats like honey roasted beets, vanilla bean buttermilk with chocolate and raspberry, and a bourbon caramel with mango, pineapple, passion fruit, and sprinkled with coconut. There wasn’t a bad donut in the bunch, although our preference was for the three more creative specials. Even the combinations that might seem too funky for some (honey roasted beets, for instance) worked quite well. And clearly they’re catching on, given the waiting crowd and the fact neighborhood folks were stopping in for coffee and a donut while walking their dogs (that’s always a good sign to me).

Downtown Grand Rapids is experiencing a bit of renaissance, with new restaurants, the new market opening, brewpubs, and more. So it’s fitting that it would get an interesting donut place, too, and I deduce (see what I did there?) Propaganda is filling the niche. With some fun flavor combinations, responsible sourcing of ingredients, and supreme dedication to their branding, they could be on track to becoming a destination like places like Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland.

Propaganda Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

Photos: North Market Coffee Roast 2014

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Yesterday North Market hosted the third Coffee Roast on a perfectly beautiful spring day. This year the event moved outdoors to the farmers market plaza (and the date was pushed back from March), with the roasters lined up in front of the market. Together as a family we beat most of the crowds by hitting up the event just as it started.

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We strolled up and down the lines, saying hello to some favorites and trying a couple new roasters. Like every good event – and every day, let’s be honest – we started with a stop at One Line Coffee. Mrs. Bfast w/Nick is there often enough that she knows the baristas by name; they were pulling delicious, delicious shots of espresso.

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Down on one end stood Das Kaffee Haus‘ table, complete with their modified ambulance (labeled the Emergency Kaffee Unit) parked nearby. DKH is located in Lithopolis, but their coffee can be found around Columbus at places like Milestone 229 and the Columbus Brewing Company Restaurant. Amy and Joe (aka Frau Burkhardt and Herr Joseph) told me their place is modeled on the European coffee shops they’ve encountered while traveling and serving abroad in the military.

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And of course we were on the lookout for Jason and Emily from Thunderkiss Coffee. They’re the coolest. Also, their coffee is great. Some of my favorite in town. Jason has a small but mighty roasting operation; you can find his beans at restaurants and on store shelves all around town.

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Strolling down the line we took in brews from Crimson Cup, Backroom Coffee Roasters

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…plus Silver Bridge and the newer Roaming Goat Coffee. The fun thing about this event is that everyone is excited to talk about coffee – and not just their coffee, but coffee in general. And you could witness nearly every type of coffee prep available.

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Dayton-based Boston Stoker has established their presence in Columbus with a shop near OSU’s campus. Like a couple other places, they displayed coffee beans for smelling or to reference the colors of the roasting process.

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Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, one of the mainstays of the Columbus coffee scene, was on hand with a tiny electric roaster. The portable setup roasts in small sample batches, allowing them to treat the same beans in different roasting lengths quickly.

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Rich the roaster showed me samples of his roast in progress. The machine roasts in 80 gram batches.

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The most unique offering of the day came – not surprisingly – from Cafe Brioso. They served two excellent hot brews – some of the standouts from the morning – but they also featured coffee sno-cones.

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Yes, coffee sno-cones. J. J. explained they used a rare Ethiopian Nekisse bean, cold-brewed, mixed with a dash of Ohio honey, and served over shaved ice. It was as delicious as you’d expect. I think we have a new definition of summer in Columbus.

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Further down the line – right next to Snowville Creamery with their samples of milk and yogurt – we found Actual Brewing‘s roastery crew in full swing.

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They make superb beer, really strong coffee roasts, and they’ve got some of the best beards in the biz.

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The event space indoors was dedicated to coffee education, with Brioso’s crew kicking off a demonstration of espresso preparation. On the other end of the room, baristas from a mix of shops made espresso drinks for customers.

We couldn’t have had a better day for the event. The move outdoors and to a Sunday (see photos from 2012 and 2013) offered more space and prevented longer lines. The one thing that confused me was the branding of it as a “brunch.” When I hear “brunch” I assume there will be food involved, but what that really meant was “you can go into the market to find food.” Many vendors had special $5 brunch bites, but the market opens at noon on Sundays (the Coffee Roast started at 10), so a majority of the stalls were closed during the first half of the event (although the newly moved and re-branded Taste of Belgium was hopping). I was also a little disappointed that attendees were given generic North Market mugs, and not the fun branded ones with colorful Clinton Reno artwork like years past. I know it’s gimmicky, but I like having a memento that references the specific event.

Aside from those details – it was a wonderful event that really featured Columbus’ great coffee roasters and brewers. We have much to be proud of, and our coffee keeps getting better and better.

Giveaway: Giant Eagle Market District coffee packs

GE coffee giveaway[UPDATE: The contest is now closed. Thanks all who entered!]

Who’s up for coffee? Giant Eagle has shared some Market District coffee packs with and my readers, and I’m spreading the coffee love! I’ve got two packs to give away. Each pack has a Market District mug, two 12-oz bags of coffee (Moka Java Blend and Hazelnut, both ground), plus a couple $1 gift certificates for more GE coffee!

To enter the random drawing for one of TWO coffee packs (yes, I’m giving away two!), comment on this post and share your favorite coffee or place to get coffee. What type of coffee is it or where do you get it, and why is it a favorite?

Comment on this post by midnight Eastern time on Sunday, April 13 to enter!

“How Do You Want Your Eggs?” Eleven Ways To Cook An Egg

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“How do you want your eggs?”

How many times have been asked that at a restaurant and not known exactly how to answer it? “What’s the way where it’s fried but the yolk is still runny?” “Aren’t sunny side up and over easy the same thing?” “What’s the difference between over easy and over medium?” “What the heck are basted eggs?”

Eggs really tie breakfast together. They’re great in so many ways: inexpensive, easy to prepare, cook quickly, and offer a solid source of protein.

So how do you answer the next time a server asks how you’d like your eggs? Here are 11 ways to cook an egg.

IMG_06041. Hard Boiled
A hard boiled egg is cooked in its shell in boiling water. The “hard” refers to the consistency of the egg white (or albumen) and the yolk. Making them is simple. Fill a pot with enough water to cover your eggs by about two inches. Bring it to a boil and carefully drop in the eggs and leave them for 10-12 minutes. For easier peeling, place the eggs immediately in an ice water bath after boiling, then gently tap and roll them on a counter. (There’s also the gimmick of adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the boiling water to help loosen the shells, cracking the shells off both ends, and blowing the egg out of its shell. Look it up on YouTube.) Bonus: you can hard boil a bunch of eggs at a time and refrigerate them. Eat them with a sprinkle of kosher salt, or chop onto salads.

IMG_87952. Soft Boiled
Soft boiled eggs follow the same process as hard boiled eggs, but you cut the cooking time roughly in half. This gets the egg white cooked while leaving the yolk runny. Our preferred method is the “six minute egg,” which sounds way fancy. (“This is a pile of breadcrumbs and a six minute egg.” “Ooooooo!”) The six minute is just like it sounds: bring your water to a boil, gently lower in the eggs, set a timer for six minutes, then remove the eggs and drop them in an ice bath.

Sometimes soft boiled eggs are eaten in the shell, stood upright in little egg cups. You can then daintily tap the top of the egg with a spoon and scoop out the insides. They’re great on toast, sprinkled with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. We also love dropping a couple on a thick black bean soup.

IMG_36313. Hard Scrambled
The almighty scrambled eggs. When they’re done right, they’re my favorite preparation. I like that scrambled eggs can be made by accident: “Oops, I dropped these eggs. I guess I’ll just mix them up over some heat.” Scrambled technically means that the whites and yolks are broken and mixed together. Hard scrambled eggs are cooked all the through. This is the default preparation for scrambled eggs at most restaurants, and while they’re good, they border dangerously on dry.

IMG_82284. Soft Scrambled
That’s why I prefer soft scrambled eggs, sometimes referred to as “wet.” The texture is 10x better, and they play more nicely with other ingredients. The difference between soft and hard scrambled eggs is cooking time. If you want soft scrambled eggs, you need to keep in mind that eggs. cook. quickly. You can’t walk away from them. Whip your eggs (I add a little milk) in a separate bowl. Heat your pan no higher than medium, grease it, pour the eggs in, then stay close with a spatula. Turn and fold them repeatedly while they cook. Use the spatula to prevent them from spreading out, especially up the sides of the pan; when they spread too thin, they’ll over-cook quickly. I usually fold them until they no longer look runny, but still look wet (i.e. light is reflecting in them). Have your plate ready so you can remove them from heat immediately. They’re perfect on buttered toast with salt and pepper; try adding slices of cheese or sauteed kale.

perfecteggsc4a. “Perfect” Scrambled Eggs
If you want super creamy soft scrambled eggs, you can use the method we learned from Gordon Ramsay (watch it here). Drop eggs into a pan over medium-high heat, along with one, thin pat of butter for each egg. Then start stirring with a spatula. Break the yolks, let them mix with the butter and whites. And keep stirring. If the pan gets too hot, lift it off the heat briefly. And keep stirring. Do this for about 4-5 minutes, until the eggs start coming together. Right before you take them off the heat, add a dash of milk, sour cream, or creme fraiche. Stir that in, then ladle the eggs onto toast and sprinkle with herbs (chive, dill, green onion) or salt and pepper. The result is some of the creamiest, softest eggs you’ve ever tasted.

IMG_48704b. Omelets & Frittatas
Scrambled eggs can be manipulated in many ways. Ordering plain scrambled eggs means they’ll be mixed and moved in the pan, whereas an omelet or frittata indicates that the scrambled eggs are cooked until they’ve stabilized into a usable form and topped with other ingredients: cheeses, meats, vegetables, anything. A frittata is typically open-faced, whereas an omelet is folded over in half onto the additions. But the egg base remains the same (except in egg white omelets, where yolks are separated out).

IMG_62804c. Scrambles & Hashes
These preparations are pretty simple, as far as eggs go. A scramble usually means other ingredients are scrambled in the pan with the eggs. This could include meats, cheese, sauteed veggies, or diced potatoes (or, yes, hot dogs). Good if you’re a fan of scrambled eggs and, well, everything else breakfast has to offer.

IMG_87315. Sunny Side Up
Sunny side up means your egg yolk looks like a bright morning sun. To make: crack an egg directly into your greased frying device. Then fry it until the edges brown, WITHOUT flipping. Flipping your sunny side up egg turns it into an over easy egg. The yolk is runny, and depending on how long you fry it, the albumen is completely or partially set. We refer to these as runny or “dipping” eggs. The runny yolk is great for dipping toast into.

IMG_87336. Over Easy
Eggs over easy and sunny side up are often using interchangeably, but they are different. You go from sunny side up to over easy by simply flipping your egg when the edges are brown. The “easy” doesn’t refer to the simplicity of turning over an egg, but the state of your yolk. “Over easy” means the egg is flipped and cooked just long enough to make a film on the top of the yolk. When served, the yolk – and some of the whites – are still runny.

IMG_05977. Over Medium
Over medium is the next step after easy: they’re fried, flipped, and fried a little longer, enough to cook the whites through and brown the edges slightly. You’ll develop a thicker film on your yolk, but the inside is still runny. Good for those like the dipping quality without a watery egg white.

Diptic8. Over Hard
And over hard is the final step. Over hard is fried, flipped, and fried again – usually with the yolk broken – until both the white and the yolk are completely cooked. Just tap the edge of your spatula into the yolk or poke it with a folk before turning it over. Be careful not to dribble the yolk when flipping.

IMG_62039. Poached
Poaching ties with soft scrambled as my favorite preparation. It’s like boiling but without the shell, or like over medium that skips contact with the pan. These means you’re avoiding any hard edges. The white is cooked through and the yolk is warm and runny. Just imagine it mixing with a bright hollandaise on an eggs benedict.

Methods for poaching vary. Restaurants looking to poach in bulk will often immerse ramekins with raw eggs into boiling water, sometimes a whole tray full at a time. If you’re just poaching at home, it’s actually much easier than you may think. I haven’t perfected my personal method, but the two that have worked for me are:

1.) The Whirlpool. Heat your water just shy of a rolling point. Add a dash of vinegar (some recipes call for a 1/2 cup, but that’s always too much for me. I don’t like my eggs tasting like acetic acid). Crack the egg into a tiny bowl. Swirl the water in your pan to create a whirlpool, then carefully drop the egg into the center. The swirling pulls whites altogether in the center. Leave it in the water for about five minutes, then lift out with a slotted spoon.

2.) The Strainer. Heat water. Add vinegar. Crack the egg into a mesh strainer to let the most watery portion of the whites (it’s not much) drip out – this prevents danglers. Carefully decant the egg from the strainer into the water. Cook for about five minutes. Retrieve with slotted spoon.

And if you make a mistake… well, just look up some recipes for egg drop soup.

IMG_595610. Baked or Shirred
Baked eggs are cracked and baked in a dish. “Shirred” refers to the flat-bottomed dish in which they’re frequently cooked. They’re almost always mixed with other ingredients. The white mixes in and gets cooked through, while the yolk is left runny. For example: a tomato provencal dish (pictured from Pistacia Vera), with eggs cooked into a bed of cream, tomatoes, cheese, and herbs. Or the North African/Mediterranean dish shakshouka (like at Mazah). The benefit of this preparation is that the egg really blends into the ingredients.

IMG_058711. Basted
I’ve come across some some eggs on restaurant menus that are labeled as basted but are clearly poached. Generally basted means liquid or steam is used to thoroughly cook the egg white without flipping. For instance, while frying an egg in butter, you repeatedly scoop and pour the extra butter on top of the egg. This cooks the yolk and top whites without forcing you to flip it. Alternatively, you can also squirt some water into the pan and then cover the egg with a lid, to steam the whites. If you do this quickly, you can cook the whole egg before the edges start to brown, which seems to be the appeal of basted eggs (much like poached eggs).

Okay, so that was actually fourteen ways to prepare eggs. But you get the point: eggs are versatile, even in the different textures and flavors they offer through different cooking methods. And there’s so much you can do with eggs once they’re cooked: fold scrambled eggs in a burrito, layer a fried egg on a burger, chop a hard boiled egg in a salad, or put poached eggs on everything. Regardless of how you use them, they enhance any breakfast dish and they stand perfectly fine on their own.

Brandywine (Lake Drive) | Grand Rapids, MI

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Brandywine
1345 Lake Dr. SE (map it!)
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
(616) 774-8641
Open Mon-Sat, 7a-8p; Sun, 8a-8p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited
: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.

In my hometown of Grand Rapids, the general rule is that whenever possible, you go to breakfast. Business meeting, catching up with friends, class discussion? Go to breakfast. In most cities you find breakfast and brunch joints busiest on the weekends, but in GR they’re busy every morning. So when we wanted to meet up with some good friends, we naturally went to breakfast, and we picked a spot we haven’t visited for years. Brandywine is a long-established restaurant in GR’s Eastown district, home to a string of old bookstores, gift shops, coffee shops, pubs, classic eateries like Yesterdog or newer additions like Terra GR (formerly Trillium Haven). I’m not sure when Brandywine opened, but I always remember it being there, and it being a favorite of many friends. The last time I visited, however, was back in college.

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Brandywine’s exterior is easily identifiable by the bright orange and purple coloring. Parking can be a challenge if you don’t know right where to look. There’s a little on-street parking nearby and a few small lots next to the building, but you have to watch the signs to make sure you’re not parking in another business’ spots.

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The interior is a long, carpeted room with a low ceiling and walls filled with photos and paintings. Both sides are lined with booths, a row of four-tops cuts through the center, and there’s even a small counter with stools and the cashier in the back corner. In many ways, Brandywine is set up like a diner, complete with the sassy servers who consistently top off your coffee; but in other ways it’s very un-diner-ish, like the general color palette or the carpet. Even the name implies something a little fancier.

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Brandywine also steps up their game with an expansive and often creative breakfast menu. It ranges from benedicts to pancakes (including sweet potato pancakes) to French toast to sandwiches to scrambles to omelets. Our group eyed the specialties, like the country benedict with buttermilk biscuits, sausage patties, poached eggs, and sausage gravy. Served with a slab – that’s the only way I can describe it – of browned potatoes. It’s the best of both worlds: biscuits & gravy + eggs benedict.

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I quickly spied out the Eggs Timothy, a benedict adaptation with two over easy eggs on corned beef hash, hollandaise, toast, and potatoes. Almost all of it lined up the way I’d like: the eggs, a pretty lemony hollandaise, crispy hash browns. The one downside was the canned corned beef hash. I’m not a fan of it; it’s ground too thin and tastes too much of the can. Even if a restaurant doesn’t want to go so far as brining their own beef, they could still get it from any deli and chop it themselves.

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Amongst the toast choices was the rare English muffin toast. This ended up meaning toast made in a similar style, with big pockets from the bubbles created by the yeast. Like a light, white toast.

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The real winner of our breakfast was the Smoked Chicken and Black Bean Hash. Seriously, I need to eat more breakfasts like this. The base has was made from black beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted red peppers, and diced chunks of a (sightly dry) smoked chicken. It was topped with two poached eggs and served with a side of rye toast and fruit. The hash was generously seasoned – lots of cumin – and blended together nicely.

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Clearly we liked it.

Brandywine is a funny hybrid, like a colorful, creative, carpeted diner. Our server was very fun and friendly, the food several notches above diner standards (aside from the canned corned beef hash), and the overall atmosphere cozy enough to explain why the place is packed with regulars on a weekday.

Brandywine Restaurant on Urbanspoon

HoneyDip Donuts & Diner | Columbus, OH

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Honey Dip Donuts & Diner (Facebook)
4480 Kenny Rd. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43220
(614) 459-0812
Open Mon-Sat, 6:30a-2p; Sun, 7a-2p
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 12:30pm

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Who’s up for a big breakfast of donuts and donut sandwiches? Apparently, me! It’s been a while since I’ve been to Honey Dip. The first visit was when they only served donuts, and the second was a quick peek at the new renovations that added the “and Diner” to the name.

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Well, now it’s time to get a good look at how the donut shop has remade itself as a diner. Judging by the decently busy Saturday afternoon, they’re doing quite well.

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Fans of the original version of Honey Dip will still recognize the space and the feel. The long, low counter, the red tile floor, the pink donut shelves. More seats have been added, and the old donut prep area is now a small dining area with eight tables.

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Donuts are still the feature; upon entering you’re greeted with a sight of the classic shelves.

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And a glass case full of the extra special goods like longjohns, cinnamon rolls, and apple fritters.

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The purpose of this exploratory visit: to sample a donut sandwich. Honey Dip offers three: the breakfast sandwich, the BLT, and the burger.

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We found a small table and looked through the one-page breakfast menu. It has all the basics covered: eggs, omelets, pancakes, sandwiches. Even some specialties like eggs benedict and a breakfast burrito.

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My son wanted something simple: the two eggs, home fries, and toast. As with any basic breakfast, you can customize it: eggs, choice of toast, sausage patties or links (or bacon), home fries or hash browns. All of it was nicely done. The eggs were scrambled without being dry, the sausage patty was basic but seasoned well. The hash browns could have been a little crispier, but they came in a generous portion. All in all: a very filling and likable diner breakfast.

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We were hungry, so we also split the biscuits and gravy, a small but rich bowl of thick sausage gravy along with two soft biscuits. The gravy was thick to the point of being a little gummy, but it was chunky and peppery.

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And now on to the main show: the donut breakfast sandwich. When I posted a picture of this on instagram, I couldn’t help but exclaim, “What am I doing with my life?!” And that’s the honest question you have to ask yourself after you’ve ordered one of these. What has led you to this point?

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The construction is simple and really, it seems so obvious. You take a breakfast sandwich (a fried egg, a sausage patty, a slice of cheese) and you grill two donuts instead of bread. It’s the perfect marriage of sweet + salty. The warm donuts collapse under the pressure into two solid layers of sugar. But I have to be honest about two things:

1.) This sandwich was delicious. I mean, seriously: it’s a breakfast sandwich made with donuts. The only failing point is that you mostly just taste the donuts. Sure, there’s a hint of sausage, a soupcon of cheese, a waft of eggs, but for the most part you’re tasting two warm, soft honey dip donuts.

2.) This sandwich also sat with me for a long time. A long time. I honestly wasn’t hungry until the next day.

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You also can’t walk out of a donut shop without some donuts (and I’m wondering why I was still full the next day?), so we snagged a half dozen of a couple custard-filled donuts, two longjohns, and a pair of their signature glazed yeast donuts. Honey Dip has long been a favorite donut shop of many, and they’re still riding on that strength.

Well, now you know about breakfast at Honey Dip in all its glory. If a full-blown donut sandwich isn’t your thing, you can always settle for a donut and a cup of coffee, or a small plate of eggs and toast. Overall, Honey Dip seems to have successfully transitioned over the years from a favorite donut shop to a favorite donut shop and diner.

Honey Dip Donuts & Coffee on Urbanspoon

Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe | Hilliard, OH

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Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe (Facebook)
4920 Scioto Darby Rd. (map it!)
Hilliard, OH 43026
(614) 319-4035
Open Tues-Thurs, 9a-9:30p; Fri & Sat, 9a-10p; Sun, 9a-4p
Accepts cash & debit/credit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid-friendly? Y

Visited: Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 12:30p

Just like the Explorer’s Club, Jerry’s Galaxy Cafe is bit of Columbus restaurant history come to life. While that piece of history that pre-dates my time in Columbus, I can still be excited to see the addition of more good eats, especially on the west side of town. Jerry’s covers much of the same territory as Starliner Diner (Jerry started the diner years ago), and some of his same collaborators of old opened Explorer’s Club. So now Jerry’s going his own way by doing what he does best.

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The cafe opened in a fairly nondescript, beige-sided building. The only signage is the restaurant name scrawled in white chalk paint across one of the doors. We nearly drove by it on our first trip.

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But then the interior is surprisingly bright. Black and white checkered ceiling. Bright yellow walls. Colorful posters.

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One wall – all brick with a fireplace in the center – is lined with shelves full of knick-knacks like trains, porcelain cartoon characters, trucks, old cans. Our two boys were of course fascinated with these.

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The Bangin’ Breakfast menu isn’t huge, but it covers all the bases. The mainstays are Cuban/Mexican/southwestern-themed, while a list of omelets and buttermilk pancakes complete the line-up.

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We started with coffee, a basic diner brew served in smaller mugs. I usually like small mugs; they help the coffee cool more quickly.

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We mixed a little breakfast and lunch (someone should come up with a name for that). The appetizer was fried plantains – soft, starchy, and sweet – served with a creamy house salsa that was a little too heavy on the onion.

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Next was the always-loveable Cuban French toast, which means Cuban bread diced, battered, and fried. They’re like mini donuts dusted in powdered sugar.

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I knew before walking in that I’d be ordering the chiliquiles. They’re one of my favorite breakfast dishes – a savory and spicy mix of beans, vegetables, eggs, cheese, and tortillas – and they’re my benchmark for restaurants offering southwestern fare. Jerry’s version measured up pretty well, although I wanted more seasoning.

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Same with the chorizo burrito, a flour tortilla generously filled with eggs, cheese, beans, and chorizo. It’s a tasty burrito, as far as they go, but I wanted more spice!

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From the lunch menu we sampled the Galaxy steak sandwich at the suggestion of our server (who was a little forgetful but very sweet and friendly). Nicely done steak on a toasted bun, good seasoning, a sprinkling of herbs, still a little heavy on the onions.

Jerry and his crew may be working out some kinks still, but he’s sporting a creative menu, many types of dishes I love, and a cozy location that could easily become a hidden gem for Columbus breakfasters. I suggest making the trek to Hilliard to support his latest endeavor!

OTHER LINKS:
-> read more about my visit to Jerry’s on the Daily Crave blog

Jerry's Galaxy Cafe on Urbanspoon

Giveaway: Penn Station gift certificates!

Snap Advertising-Four Penn Station Subs[UPDATE: The contest is now closed!]

The kind folks from Penn Station East Coast Subs have provided a $20 gift certificate for my readers, so I’m giving it away today! Penn Station has about a dozen locations in the greater Columbus area.

I’m a fan of sandwiches in any form and at any time of day, although obviously my heart lies with breakfast sandwiches. To enter the random drawing, comment on this post and share your favorite sandwich. What type of sandwich is it, where to you get it, and why do you love it?

Comment by midnight Eastern time tonight to enter!

Beyond Breakfast: Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips | Columbus, OH

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Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips
(Facebook)

1216 W. Fifth Ave. (map it!)
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 481-8428
Open Mon-Fri, 10:30a-9p; Sat, 11a-9p (all you can eat served 4-7p Mon-Fri, all day Sat)
Accepts cash & credit/debit

Visited: Tuesday, February 4, 2014 at 5:30p

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On a recent cold, weekday night, we found ourselves wanting to go out. We were thinking about supporting a local restaurant after seeing a post from Donnie Austin at House Wine. He had encouraged everyone to hit up a local restaurant, bar, or shop to everyone recover from rough winter sales. So we found ourselves cruising down Fifth Avenue heading into Grandview. As we came down Fifth, the yellow signage of Marino’s Seafood – a place we had never visited – caught me eye, and before we knew it, we were pulling into the parking lot.

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I didn’t eat a lot of seafood growing up, although I’m certainly trying to make up for lost time in adulthood. So I don’t have a history with any seafood spots (I think we had Long John Silvers and Red Lobster nearby growing up), but I do recognize the old-schoolness of fast food places. Take, for instance, the big bendy microphone at the ordering counter. This makes me think of a Burger King near our house growing up; I always found it funny how anyone could keep things organized with orders simply being called out over a scratchy loudspeaker.

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Although the big, yellow-lettered menu boards confused me at first (so many options!), I found a handful of picture menus and whiteboards helpfully suggesting specials or favorite combos.

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I’ll be honest: in places like this, I look for the word “platter.” If I can’t find it, the word “dinner” will suffice. That usually signifies a bulked up plate of nearly everything. I love me a big fried plate of everything.

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Let’s start small: sides of macaroni salad and slaw. Both simple but very likable. Slaw is the on sweet side.

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And then the baskets of golden fried goodness began arriving, starting with my seafood platter. The platter (technically a basket) included fish, shrimp, scallops, chips, and hush puppies. All of these pictures look a little yellow-ish. That’s in part from the batter, but more so from the yellow glass lanterns hanging around the restaurant.

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Then there’s Mrs. Bfast w/Nick’s clam platter, loaded with fried clams, chips, and hush puppies.

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Plus a couple crab cakes to boot.

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We ordered from the child combos for our boys. These combos include one piece of fish, chicken, or a battered hot dog, plus chips and a hush puppy. We picked one with fish…

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…and one with chicken.

Every piece we ate was fried well. Not too greasy or too heavily salted. Just right.

Does it taste good? Absolutely. Marino’s meals are baskets piled high with crispy fried seafood. Now, this isn’t fancy fish and chips. And this isn’t the completely fresh-off-the-boat type of stuff you find on the east coast (at places like this). The fish is simple whitefish (even the scallops are disk-shaped whitefish). The shrimp and clams are the best seasoned of the lot. The chips and hush puppies are crunchy without being dry.

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I have gladly added Marino’s to my list of easy comfort foods. I could honestly go for a big plate of their fried goods any time (and if you’re really hungry, visit during their all-you-can-eat hours!). On top of that, it’s all older, family-run business that deserves your patronage. If you’re out cruising for cheap eats, consider Marino’s instead of another fast food stop.

Marino's Seafood Fish & Chip on Urbanspoon

Photos: Brewing Beer at North High Brewing

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Where does a craft beer enthusiast go for his birthday? He brews some beer with friends! A couple weeks ago I gathered with a group of friends at North High Brewing to make our own batch. North High is Columbus’ first brew-on-premises shop, which means you can brew, ferment, and bottle beer under the guidance of experienced brewers.

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I’ve been to North High a number of times already – their bar has some great history behind it, which you can learn about on Columbus Brew Adventures downtown tour – but this was the first I’ve brewed there. The brewhouse is a separate room from the bar, with eight brew kettles centered around a chandelier with 21 bulbs symbolizing the 21st Amendment (the repeal of Prohibition).

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The process took about three hours total. We began by copying down the recipe, then heading into the brewhouse to be begin boiling water. North High lets you brew in 15 gallon batches; their system uses steam to heat the kettles, which speeds up the process.

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Another streamlining step is the use of extracts in brewing. Extracts are concentrated syrups that save on boiling time. North High uses primarily extracts, but not exclusively. We added about three pounds each of caramel malts and peat smoked malts.

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These were measured out…

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…and then milled right there are the brewery.

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We loaded the grains into muslin bags.

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And then these were steeped in the hot liquor (aka the hot water), much like tea.

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Then the extracts go in. On the right are the thirty pounds of amber malt extract. On the left is the five pounds of Ohio honey. The honey helps round out the big, malty body of the wee heavy. It gives the yeast something feed on during fermentation, and it just plain tastes good.

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Honey and extract into the tank!

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Throughout the boil we added pelletized Fuggle hops in small, calculated amounts. Fuggle is a sweeter English hop – appropriate for a Scottish style like the wee heavy.

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While you’re brewing, there’s down-time to check out the bar and order some food or drink.

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North High usually has about 10 of their beers on tap, plus a good selection of other breweries. They also run special brews like this one: their wee heavy on firkin with vanilla bean, cocoa nib, and bourbon-soaked oak chips.

By that point, brewing was done. The beer just had to cool and get filtered into the fermentation container. We’ll be coming back soon to bottle it.

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But the fun didn’t stop there! As it was dinner time, we hit up Marino’s Seafood Fish & Chips in Grandview (look for a separate post on that soon). It was lots of fried goodness.

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And then we rounded out the evening by hitting up Zauber Brewing just down the road. All in all, a great birthday celebration – especially getting to hang out with friends and make something together.

North High Brewing on Urbanspoon

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