Nachos at Leo’s Spirits and Grub

I like Leo’s Spirits and Grub because, of the three Leo’s in the Lansing area, it’s the closest. It used to be Bennigan’s, and it was something else for a day and a half, but Leo’s has stuck around for a while.  It wasn’t busy on a Monday night, so I had my pick of seats. And I ended up moving because I chose poorly – one of the big antler chandeliers was blocking my view of the TV. (Now there is a problem you probably will not run into in a San Francisco restaurant.)

Being a nacho fan, I ordered the mini-nachos. Like the name suggests, they aren’t for big appetites. And I ordered them without black olives because olives on nachos are the work of the devil.

Leo's nachos

Leo's nachos

My verdict: I’m sticking with their burgers. The nachos weren’t terrible, especially at the price ($1 off on Monday nights), but they didn’t “wow” me. I think it was the bland beans because everything else tasted decent. Less beans and more meat would have gone a long way to improving the nachos. I did like the tomatoes and big chunks of white onions, though I’m not sure if my wife would have the same appreciation of the latter after I ate them.

But my favorite part of the meal was the $3 34 oz. beer. That’s a spectacular beer special, friends, Romans, countrymen, and it’s on Mondays. For some reason, Labatt is considered a domestic draught, maybe for the same reason we accept Canadian quarters.

I will return to Leo’s for sure – the beer special alone assures that. I will skip the nachos, instead going for the beautiful olive burger or Houghton Hancock burger.

Nachos at Bobarinos

Another night in Grand Rapids. After wandering around looking at some pieces from the upcoming Art Prize, I stopped into The B.O.B. for dinner at Bobarinos. Looking at metal fish and a giant praying mantis can really make a guy work up an appetite.

I had the nachos. I decided on the basic nachos (no meat), and also had the black olives left off, because black olives on nachos is nasty. So I was left with scallions, cheese, and pico del gallo on my chips. But you know, that was enough. I had an enormous pile of crispy, salty chips, and the pico tasted really good. Yes, I had to stop on the way home to hunt the street of Grand Rapids for the flesh of the living to satisfy my need for meat, but that was a minor issues.

Nachos at Bobarinos

Nachos at Bobarinos

And the beer. I tried an amber and an Octoberfest, both of which I enjoyed. I spent more on booze than on food, and that’s the way it should be. Man cannot live on nachos alone. Folks, except no substitute – drink craft beer.

Lou & Harry’s Sports Bar, East Lansing

Poor “The Small Planet” – I hardly knew you. It was there just a few months before, poof, it had disappeared from Chandler Crossing.

But poof, now we have Lou & Harry’s Sports Bar. Not the normal kind, but a cavernous place with an expanded menu. As I saw they had nachos, and I had purchased a Groupon, I decided it was time to pay them a visit.

First, there are TVs everywhere. Two huge ones on each side of the restaurant and dozens of smaller ones so you will not be anywhere (besides maybe the bathrooms) where you’ll be out of sight of a game. And maybe even the bathroom – I’m not sure, I didn’t go there.

As I mentioned, nachos were one of the reasons I made the arduous trip from Haslett to East Lansing. When I ordered, the waitress said they were her favorite thing on the menu. I hope she was just trying to be nice or increase her tip somehow, because they were not all that great.

But I’ll start with first impressions – lots and lots of nachos. You may be able to eat them all, but since I wasn’t planning to spend four hours eating nachos, there was no way I could finish them. The chips were piled high as were the toppings – beans, cheese, queso sauce, tomatoes, and onions. I added on beef for $1 extra, and it was OK.

Nachos!

Nachos!

The big flaw was the queso sauce. I wasn’t a fan of that – it wasn’t awful, but regular cheese goes much better on nachos. Queso may be fine for dipping, but that’s about it. Without the queso sauce, they would have been better, as that was the only major flaw I tasted.

Ending on a high note, sour cream, salsa, and guacamole were included. You almost never get guac included, so that was an added bonus. And it wasn’t sucky guac, which was even more surprising.

Also something I liked was the $3 23 oz. domestics they had on Monday nights. I do like beer specials and that is a pretty good one.

I would definitely go to Lou & Harry’s Sports Bar again – the environment for watching a game is great –  though I will forgo the nachos next time. But they had a lot of items to choose from, so I’ll bet I’ll get something I like  better the next time.

Let’s hear it for the hot dogs at Hot Doug’s

What would you say if I told you I dropped almost $30 for three hot dogs, an order of fries, and a Coke? And that I would absolutely do it again? Crazy, huh? And there was a line of people out the door for these dogs.

Hot Doug's

Hot Doug's

That would be Hot Doug’s in Chicago. Andrea and I had first heard about them on a Food Network or Travel Channel show, and the foie gras sounded intriguing, along with a bunch of other items.

Not in the mood for anything resembling a normal hot dog, we went for three unusual choices. First, the “Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel”.  I had to have this one, since it was one of the reasons we made the trip beyond downtown Chicago. Once I heard foie gras on, basically, a hot dog, I knew Hot Doug’s was my kind of place. It was my first experience with foie gras, and I still can’t really describe it, other than to say it was amazingly tender, almost like butter. This was both Andrea and my favorite sausage, though it was a hard choice.

Hot Doug's hot dogs

Hot Doug's hot dogs

Item number 2 was the Game of the Week. Though it changes weekly (duh), our Game was yak sausage with smoked gouda cheese. Never had yak, either, and I didn’t know what to expect, but I’m a yak fan now. Thankfully, the yak was shaved before the sausage was ground up.

Game of the Week

Game of the Week

One final “hot dog” was “Smoked Portuguese Linguica with Saffron Rouille and Aged Iberico Cheese “. There are a lot of things in that sentence of which I’m completely clueless, but they were all amazing together. Mr. Doug is a hot dog genius.

There was ketchup on the table. I would guess it was for the fries, but for me, to put ketchup on the amazing duck fat fries would be a horrible injustice. Served only on Friday and Saturday, these fries were amazing. Don’t leave without trying them. Unless you’re not there on one of the days they’re not served – otherwise, that would be a very long wait.

Inside Hot Doug's

Inside Hot Doug's

Go to Hot Doug’s. Really.

Girl and the Goat, Chicago

While searching for new and exciting restaurants in Chicago, Andrea and I came across reviews for Girl and the Goat on TripAdvisor.  At the time of my search, it was the #2 rated restaurant in Chicago, and for a city with over 3,000 restaurants reviewed, that is quite impressive. So, with our Sunday night dinner plans set, we headed to The Windy City for food. Well, the real reason was so Andrea could be in the Chicago Triathlon, but food was important, too.

We had an aggressive taxi driver, and the trip from the Blackstone Hotel to the intersection of Halstead and Randolph, location of Girl and the Goat, took only a few minutes and $10. Better than walking. We had a 4:45 reservation, and the restaurant was almost full at that point, and was certainly full by the time we left two hours later.

Girl and the Goat, Chicago

Girl and the Goat, Chicago

Our waiter was very helpful in his recommendations. So many items on the menu looked great that it was hard to narrow it down. He suggested five items, as G and the G is a small plates restaurant, and this estimate was spot on. Four would have left us starving in the streets of Chicago, and six would have caused us to explode, coating the restaurant in all sorts of unpleasantness. So, well done, Mr. Waiter Guy.

After ordering, Mr. Waiter then went through the list of items  and set the order in which they would come out. That was pretty slick. He also recommended a bottle of wine, a 2005 Lonko Malbec that went well with everything. The red was served in wine glasses without stems – they looked like tumblers. I think the wine went down faster when coming out of those glasses – it seemed to mysteriously disappear. Maybe Andrea was drinking it all when I wasn’t looking, I’m not sure.

First out of the gates was the grilled baby octopus. Poor baby octopi – cut down in the prime of their lives and served with radishes and fava beans.  But they would be happy to know that they were delicious.

Octopus

Second were the goat empanadas. Luckily, they didn’t mix us up and serve us girl empanadas. (I’m sure she would have been great sautéed with butter, but I’m not much of a cannibal. Unless you add bacon, then all bets are off.) The crust was perfect and the goat was tender. I believe that was the first time I had ever eaten goat, but I can’t be sure, as I’ve been to Egypt and Morocco, so who knows what was actually in those meals.

Goat empanadas

Third was the roasted cauliflower, the only truly vegetable dish we had that night. Who knew that cauliflower could taste so good? Somebody picked some pickled peppers and put them on the cauliflower along with pine number which combined to make a rather bland vegetable actually taste excellent.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower

Fourth were the beef ribs. As hard as it was to pick a favorite plate, this was mine. The exterior was crispy and the interior was tender and all of it was delicious meatness.

Beef ribs

Beef ribs

Fifth came the ham frites, a fancy way of saying ham fries. Yes, they were French fries topped with bacon flakes.  And they were perhaps the best fries I’ve eaten, a great combination of crispiness, but not overly so.  They were served with two sauces, smoked tomato aioli  and cheddar beer sauce. Tough to choose a favorite sauce, but the edge goes to the beer sauce. I just like beer.

Ham frites

Ham frites

Time was dessert, and I wasn’t done with the meat, choosing the pork fat doughnuts. The doughnut holes were covered with sugar and served with a yogurt sauce.  Again, perfectly prepared an exactly as I would expect pork fat doughnuts to taste like. OK, I had no idea what they tasted like, but they were outstanding.

Dessert

If you are looking for an outstanding meal with unique dishes in Chicago, definitely add Girl and the Goat to your list of restaurants. As I mentioned, dinner took two hours, and the time flew by – it only seemed like an hour and forty five minutes. The great atmosphere added to the meal, as well as the excellent service. Go. Try. Eat goat.