Monthly Archives: August 2011

Restaurant of the Month: Bar 145 Toledo


It’s that time of the month again! I love doing restaurant reviews. It’s a great way to check in on customers and see what’s new since we helped them launch their restaurant or their last purchase. We are forever indebted to all of our customers. If it wasn’t for your loyalty, we would not be listed in Inc. Magazine’s Top 5000 List.

Once again, it was Jeff Husser’s turn to select the restaurant of the month, so I eagerly awaited his nomination. When he sent over Bar 145, I was elated! Bar 145 is perhaps the most popular gastropub to ever hit Toledo’s restaurant scene.

When I walked in to Bar 145, I was impressed by the atmosphere and decor.  It’s very obvious they spared no expense when decorating the dining area. Wood and red painted panels adorned the walls and the ceiling is exposed and painted black. Standard tables and bar height tables with Bar 145 engraved stools and chairs are scattered around the restaurant and patio area.  On the far left side is a good size stage for Dueling Pianos and different bands from Port Clinton, Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, and Toledo. Classic of Mr. Ed’s in Put in Bay, the bar is in the middle of the restaurant and extends all the way to the middle of the outside patio. There are 8 big screen televisions around the bar showing various sporting events, however the volume was muted. The layout of the bar makes it easy for patrons to enjoy the outside patio without sacrificing bar service or hearing and watching the band on the opposite wall. It’s a great summertime feature. But, don’t worry because when winter comes around, an awning will enclose half of the patio so that the whole bar can be enjoyed in the cold Toledo months as well.

While Bar 145 opened on May 18, 2011 by Jeremy Fitzgerald, owner of Mr. Ed’s and Mist in Put in Bay, Ohio, the preparation for their grand opening took months to perfect. In past business dealings, Jeremy worked with Jameel Burkett, but after taking on the position of Vice President, Jeff Hauser was selected to work with Jeremy. Initally, Jeremy chose to purchase only a few key items from Burkett’s, but after meeting with Jeff, the decision was made that Burkett Restaurant Equipment would be the exclusive supplier of Bar 145. “Jeff is awesome. He came out just about every night to make sure things looked perfect.” Bar 145’s Executive Chef Robby added that Jeff’s experience in the kitchen as an accomplished chef and his knowledge of how the line works helped them properly set up their kitchen. “That kind of knowledge is invaluable.” Jeff Husser has 28 years kitchen experience, has worked in over 20 different kitchens, and knows how to maximize a commercial kitchen’s layout. He explains, “I’ve worked in all facets of restaurants, from truck stops to private clubs, with all different types of cuisine. I have an extensive background in catering, and have a year in front of the house management also.”

Everything was bought from Burkett’s, from the flatware and tables to the refrigerator and char broiler (note, there is no freezer at Bar 145- except an ice cream freezer- because everything is made fresh to order. Never frozen and thawed.) But Chef Robby’s favorite piece of equipment is his Waring 2.5 Qt  Food Processor. Nearly all of the 90 sauces they make are tomato or fruit based made from scratch and require pureeing to get the perfect consistency.

After talking with Jeremy and Chef Robby, I thought it would be only appropriate to grab a bite to eat before leaving. The menu at Bar 145 can be quite intimidating at first, so take your time when ordering. I took a friends advice and ordered the Pretzel Chips. This is definitely not your usual appetizer- to think about it, none of the food at Bar 145 is ordinary. Chef Robby has successfully taken every typical bar food to the next level (hence the gastropub). The dipping cheese is not the questionable bright yellow cheese mixture most bars offer. The appetizer is thick slices of pretzels with a melted Gouda cheese dip. Delicious!! Other appetizers include Fresh Cut Fries (tossed with white truffle oil, rosemary, and parmesan cheese served with red pepper aioli), the Baked Potato Waffle (baked potato pureed with cheddar cheese baked in a waffle iron and topped with sour cream and chives), and Fried Pickled Green Beans (green beans, pickled in house, battered in a spicy tempura served with a sweet chili sauce).

Time to order my entree. While Bar 145 offers salads, Chicken and Waffles, and The Po’Boy  I’m pretty sure it would be wrong to leave this place without trying what they are known for- a Burger cooked to a perfect 145 degree temperature. I decided to be creative and enjoy a “Stack Your Own Burger.” To begin, pick your protein. All the meat comes from Niman Ranch in California- one of the most socially responsible farms in America.  I chose the beef patty (chicken breast, veggie, salmon, and turkey burgers are other great choices). Then, select from one of their breads baked fresh daily from Strachn’s Bakery. I chose the Pretzel Roll (brioche, ciabatta, and onion roll is also available). Most of the artisan cheeses are purchased from Zingermanns Deli in Ann Arbor. While tempted to try the Detroit Brick, I took Jeremy’s advice and went with cream cheese. Next you pick your toppings and sauces. In the end here’s a breakdown of what I ordered: All Beef Patty on a Pretzel Roll with Cream Cheese, Bourbon Mustard, Arugula, Tomatoes, and Sauteed Sweet Onions (vegetables are purchased from local farmers in the Port Huron area). I’ve only got one word to describe it: MONSTER!! Well worth the $8! 

I really loved this place! The food, decor, and cool music vibe makes Bar 145 a true Toledo destination spot. It’s unique and people are positively talking about it. If you haven’t checked them out you really should do so soon. They’ve got a really big event coming up that Jeremy promises is going to be a great time. On September  17, join Bar 145 for Tailgate 145 Parking Lot Pig Roast Party. The roast starts at 11am, and the band Danger Brothers will take the stage at 3pm. Raffles will be available and proceeds will benefit Sals Pals Charity. They’ll also have a jumbo tron outside for the Ohio State vs. Miami game.

Learn more about Bar 145-

Have you been to Bar 145 yet? Share your thoughts with us!

GYB Trend: To Ban or Not to Ban

I can’t help but notice the changing face of restaurants today. The mentality that a restaurant was just an extension  of your kitchen table is no longer the case. Recently Rogue 24 in Washington, D.C. began requiring patrons to sign a 2-page reservation contract as well as submit a credit card number to make a reservation. The “Reservation Agreement,”states that cancellations made up to 72-hours before a reservation will result in guests being charged for half of the price of a meal, which can cost $175 per person. Any closer to dinner time and they are required to pay the full price. That’s not the only contract you’ll sign when eating at Rogue 24. Cell phone and PDA usage is also banned in the dining room (you can still use these devices at the bar or in the restroom). McDain’s Restaurant in Monroeville, PA went so far as banning all children under the age of 6 and Luigi Q, an Italian restaurant in Long Island, prohibits all kids under 14.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been guilty of all of these things. If my phone rings at a restaurant, even an upscale one, I answer it. The call is never a matter of life in death, and I know that, but I answer anyways. Occasionally I’ll take my young children to a restaurant on a Saturday night and even though I try to keep them quiet, I’m pretty sure they end up annoying the couple at the table behind us. Shamefully I’ll also admit that on the rare occasion, I’ll make a reservation to a restaurant and then not show up and not cancel my reservation.

So, does that mean I agree with the rules at McDain’s, Rogue 24 and Luigi’s? Yes and No. Ok, I know I got off easy by agreeing with both sides of the argument, but it’s not a clear cut issue. Let’s look at Rogue 24. If I’m dining out and will be paying nearly $400 for my and my significant other to eat out, I do not want to be distracted or annoyed by other patrons talking on their phone or tapping out a text message. As the owner of Rogue 24, multiple no show no call customers each night could seriously impact their profitability and potentially cause them to shut down. Now, the child thing is where it gets a little tricky. While it is preferable that parents just use their own discretion when dining out with children, they don’t always do so. What’s a restaurant left to do when they have a half a dozen screaming 4 year olds on a Saturday evening? However, my only argument is if your restaurant has a children’s menu, parents are going to bring children. Nix the children’s menu, especially in the evening and parents will eventually get the hint.

I want to hear from you! What’s your opinion on all these

Today is National Rum Day!

It’s National Rum Day! There really is no rhyme or reason for why August 16 is National Rum Day. I could research it for hours and come up with some sort of logic, but on a day like this why bother! It’s RUM DAY! Let’s not waste time arguing about the days origin. Instead, I’m going to leave you with a brief history of rum and then a tasty recipe.

To sum it up, rum is a sugarcane-based alcoholic beverage, aged in oak barrels. It is consumed as a straight or iced shot, blended in a mixed drink (Pina Colada, Mai Tai, and Daiquiris), and even used in a variety of desserts (rum cake, Bananas Foster, and rum balls).

Your customers will love this simple and delicious recipe for Bananas Foster!

Bananas Foster (Serves 4)

  • 4 Bananas
  • 1/2c Butter
  • 1/4c Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1/4c Rum
  • 4 Scoops French Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Cinnamon
  • 4 Chilled Plates

Directions:

  1. To chill plates, place in a Beverage Air Glass and Plate Chiller.
  2. Slice the bananas horizontally in halves.
  3. Saute bananas in the butter in a skillet for 3 minutes. Add brown sugar and mix well. Stir in the rum and cook for 1 minute or until reduced, stirring often.
  4. Place 1 scoop of ice cream in each of the 4 dessert bowls. Top each scoop with 2 banana halves and drizzle with sauce and top with cinnamon. Serve immediately.
  5. Feel adventurous? put on a show for your customers by flambéing their dessert table side!

Today is National Zucchini Day!

Zucchini is an often forgotten vegetable. It’s a close relative of cucumbers and melons- two very popular fruits and vegetables in the US. But, alas, the zucchini rarely makes it into American dishes. When was the last time you went to the supermarket and bought a few zucchinis? Does your restaurant use zucchinis in any dish?

In honor of the wonderful and versatile zucchini serve this delicious dish in your restaurant that is sure to please!

 

 

Zucchini Carpaccio (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 4 Small Zucchini
  • 1/3c Fresh Mint Leaves
  • 2T Olive Oil
  • 2t Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/4t Sea Salt
  • 1/4c Pine Nuts
  • 1/4c Capers
  • 6oz Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

  1. Cut zucchinis diagnolly into paper thin slices using a Mandoline Slicer
  2. Arrange overlapping slightly on four plates and sprinkle with mint leaves.
  3. Whisk together oil and lemon juice in a small bowl and drizzle over zucchinis
  4. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, capers, and pine nuts.
  5. Let stand 10 minutes to soften zucchinis and allow flavors to develop.
  6. Just before serving, use a cheese cutter to shave cheese over zucchini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today is National Oyster Day!

Okay, this one is definitely an acquired taste kind of day! The first time I tried oysters was in college. With a little squirt of lemon juice, tabasco, and a cracker and I was hooked! I generally try to pick a National Food day with a recipe that you can easily incorporate at your restaurant but my love for oysters compelled me to write this post regardless. Maybe it’ll motivate you to try this slimy seafood for the first time. While oysters are traditionally eaten raw, chefs are pushing the boundaries by incorporating it into all sorts of dishes. For example, in Vegas, Chef Sammy DeMarco’s oysters at First Food & Bar at the Palazzo, which are crisp oysters with seaweed salad, pickled ginger and wasabi mayo. I’ve never tried it but it sure sounds good!

The Delmonico is well-known for their Oysters Rockefeller appetizer and here is how they make it! Give it a try!!

Ingredients:

  1. 6 ounces spinach, stems removed and rinsed
  2. 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  3. 2 3/4 cups finely chopped yellow onions
  4. 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  5. 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  6. 2 tablespoons Herbsaint or other anise-flavored liqueur, such as Pernod or Pastis
  7. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  9. 1/2 cup cracker meal or cracker crumbs
  10. 5 drops green food coloring (optional)
Directions:
For the Rockefeller Sauce:
  1. Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the spinach and cook until very tender and the water is green, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander set over a large bowl and reserve 2 3/4 cups of the cooking liquid. Let the spinach sit until cool enough to handle, then finely chop, and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium pot over moderately high heat. When the butter is foamy, add the onions, celery and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the reserved spinach water, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped spinach, liqueur, salt and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reduces slightly, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cracker meal and food coloring, and stir well to combine. Cool completely before using.
Oyster Preparation:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Spread a 1/2-inch-thick layer of rock salt on a large baking sheet and across the bottoms of 6 large plates.
  2. Arrange the reserved oyster shells on the baking sheet. Put 1 oyster in each shell and top with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the sauce, spreading the sauce evenly out to the edge of the shell to completely cover the oyster. (Alternatively, transfer the sauce to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip and pipe the sauce over the oysters.)
  3. Bake until the sauce is lightly browned and the oysters begin to curl around the edges, about 20 minutes.Using tongs or a spatula, carefully transfer the hot shells to the salt-covered plates and serve immediately

August is National Peach Month

Juicy, fuzzy, and ever so sweet! Yes, I’m talking about the delicious peach! August is National Peach Month. Did you know that peaches date all the way back to 1000 b.c. China? Through the centuries it’s made its way to Persia, Greece, and Europe via the silk road. However, it was the Spaniards who brought peaches to the Americas where the fruit became immensely popular. Believe it or not, National Peach Month was proclaimed a national holiday in 1982 by President Ronald Reagan. Today peaches are versatilely used in a variety of dishes and drinks. To me, nothing says peaches better than Peach Pie so today I selected a delicious recipe for Georgia Peach Pie that can be served at your restaurant using many of ingredients you already have in your pantry.

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia Peach Pie

Ingredients:

CRUST

  1. 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 2 teaspoons sugar
  3. 3/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  5. 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) cold solid vegetable shortening
  6. 1/2 cup ice water

FILLING

  1. 8 large, ripe but firm peaches (3 1/2 pounds)
  2. 3/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  5. 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, thinly sliced
  6. Egg wash made with 1 egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons water
  7. Bourbon Whipped Cream, for serving*

Directions:

  1. PREPARE THE CRUST In a Waring 2 1/2 Qt Food Processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and sprinkle the ice water on top. Stir with a fork until a crumbly dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until the dough comes together. Cut the dough in half and form into 2 disks; wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Ease one of the rounds into a 9-inch glass pie plate and transfer the other round to a baking sheet. Refrigerate the dough.
  3. MAKE THE FILLING Preheat your Blodgett Double Decker Gas Oven to 400°. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and fill a large bowl with ice water. Using a sharp knife, mark a shallow X in the bottom of each peach. Blanch the peaches in the boiling water for about 1 minute, until the skins begin to loosen. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the peaches to the ice water to cool. Drain and peel the peaches and cut them into 3/4-inch wedges. Transfer the peaches to a large bowl. Add the sugar, lemon juice and flour, toss well and let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Pour the peaches and their juices into the chilled pie shell and scatter the butter slices on top. Brush the edge of the pie shell with the egg wash and lay the round of dough from the baking sheet on top. Press the edges of the pie shell together to seal and trim the overhang to a 1/2 inch. Fold the edge of the pie dough under itself and crimp decoratively. Brush the remaining egg wash on the top crust and cut a few slits for venting steam.
  5. Transfer the pie to the oven and place a baking sheet in the bottom to catch any drips. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°, cover the edge of the pie with foil and bake for about 40 minutes longer, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is deeply golden on the top and bottom. Transfer the pie to a rack to cool completely. Serve with Bourbon Whipped Cream.
  6. For evenly sliced pies, use an 8-slice pie marker.
* Bourbon Whipped Cream:

  1. 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  2. 1 tablespoon bourbon
  3. 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  4. 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Using an immersion mixer, beat all of the ingredients together in a large bowl until the cream is softly whipped. Serve.
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