Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Cheesecake Factory- When will we get one in COS?

Every time we are at Park Meadows Mall I have to stop by The Cheesecake Factory. I know it is a chain restaurant and that the menu is thicker then the Bible. But, sign me up for a great slice of cheesecake any day. I am well aware that there are new restaurants at this mall that I have to try according to my husband; but I can’t bring myself to pass this place up.

My husband always orders the cool and refreshing mint iced green tea. Green tea is a beverage that has an almost cult like following and then there are those out there who just hate the stuff. Now I love green tea and this minty green tea does not disappoint an avid tea drinker.

I know sometimes people suffer from gallbladder attacks when eating high in fat foods but this next dish is well worth the pain. When ordering an appetizer don’t be shy; go crazy and order the fried macaroni and cheese balls. These alluring balls, no doubt from the food Gods themselves, are filled with gooey gourmet cheeses that engulf the soft penne rigate noodles; the outer shell is made of crispy parmesan crumbs. The macaroni balls are placed on top of a rich and creamy Mariana sauce then they are sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Oh they are simply superb.   

We also ordered from the small plate section fried zucchini which is sliced zucchini lightly breaded with a side of ranch. The zucchini I thought was sort of mushy and I would prefer crispy breading rather then something that falls of the zucchini.

My mother-in-law's dish was my favorite and I had no problem with stealing off of her plate. She had order the Chicken Di Pana which was enough to serve three adults. It is a lightly breaded chicken served over a rich white wine butter sauce with creamy garlic mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. The chicken was moist and mouthwatering tender cut that is thinly pounded and encrusted with a parmesan Italian herd breading from what I could taste. I really wished I had gotten this dish; I hate having regrets when ordering my meals.

My father-in-law order the spicy crispy chicken sandwich which is a crispy chicken covered in spicy buffalo sauce and covered with melted cheese. I usually order the spicy chicken anything that is on the menu so I know sometimes the buffalo sauces can be too potent or too vinegary. But this chicken was lightly bread in a crispy spicy buffalo layer and not drenched in sauce which was lovely.

My husband ordered the good old fashion burger which is your basic hamburger on a toasted brioche bun which my husband added cheddar cheese too. The burger was juicy and thick; you could tell by the savory flavor and no fat this was good quality beef that was well seasoned. See you can't go wrong with basic and simple for a meal.

I ordered the Najavo sandwich which is fry-bread stuffed with grilled chicken, avocado, lettuce, tomato, red onion and mayo. I could only take one or two bites; the sandwich was dripping in grease and far too oily for me to eat. I am a hearty girl and can handle my fatty foods but this sandwich was way too much for me. I did not care at all for the greasy soggy bread. Yet I did really enjoy the basic fresh and crispy french fries.

My husband and I shared the Godiva chocolate cheesecake...yummo! This is a flourless Godiva chocolate cake, Godiva chocolate cheesecake and chocolate mousse. So basically layer upon layer of rich and scrumptious chocolate is what makes up this delectable cheesecake. If you are a chocolate lover this cheesecake will be like heaven to you.

Now my in-laws finished their meals with a more seasonal cheesecake the Pina Colada. You have to love coconut in order to enjoy this summer on a beach inspired dessert. It was very light and refreshing but I am not a huge fan of the texture of shaved coconut.

I hope when you go to The Cheesecake Factory that you are able to at least save some room for cheesecake. I would suggest to bring a friend along so you can split and entrée so you know for sure you can try some yummy cheesecake. 
The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Stagecoach Inn

With the recent wildfires in our area our local economy has been hit hard since tourists have left the area and locals have sought refuge in friends/families' homes and shelters. After the evacuations were lifted in areas such as Manitou Springs; there seemed to still be something missing. The patrons of the small local shops and restaurants that line the main road, bringing commerce to the quaint town were long gone. After hearing they needed people to come into the area since the absence of tourists and locals were causing a negative impact to the local economy. I thought let’s get out up into the mountains we love and do what we do out!
I adore the Stagecoach Inn because of its old rustic western atmosphere which just screams Colorado. You can sit out front in the summer and watch all the interesting characters walking along the sidewalk or view the Harley's roaring up and down the street. They also have seating in the back deck facing the creek so you can listen to the trees blowing in the warm summer air and the babbling creek below. We decided to sit inside but still had a view of the street; I enjoy people watching.

Now I know that a portion of the restaurant was built in the late 1800's and the main part of the restaurant was built later in the early 1900's. This place has an at home western feel with the warm fireplace in the winter and creaky floor boards included.

They have an extensive menu but I always know exactly what I want when we come to this cozy restaurant. First we begin with their fried mushrooms and fried zucchini (why does everything taste so good fried?) The fried mushrooms are simple battered and deep fried it is crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. We also ordered the fried zucchini coins but these suckers weren’t“coins” but huge juicy slices of zucchini lightly battered to a nice crunch. The zucchini comes with a cucumber ranch sauce which is creamy and freshening.

The reason I love this restaurant is for the fried chicken which takes a long time to prepare since it isn’t frozen crap like other restaurants. Perhaps do what we did and order some appetizers or salads so you are not starving and about to eat your arm off before the chicken comes. Or even better you could order the biscuits. I always devour the warm and flaky biscuits every time we order them; they also come with a raspberry chutney which I enjoyed since it wasn’t too sweet.  

This is homemade fried chicken which has a perfectly crunchy light brown skin and juicy succulent meat inside. The dish is huge with four pieces; two dark meat and two white, mashed potatoes and green bean medley. I usually share with my husband since I can’t eat a whole plate by myself; but for a person with hearty appetite you won’t be disappointed in the portion. The meat is so tender and juicy not to mention the aromatic scent of fried chicken is divine! (If there was a fried chicken perfume I would totally wear it). I do enjoy the yellow and green beans which are lightly peppered and I thought the mashed potatoes were scrumptious. But my husband and my father-in-law do not care for the mashed potatoes because they find them too salty. I figure it is just a matter of preference so the boys usually order a baked potato on the side.  I am always extremely full and satisfied when I leave the Stagecoach Inn and sometimes a little sleepy probably because that is what any good comfort food will do to you.

So if you are in the mood for some good home cooking or if you want to show your support for the local area by making a small boost to the economy in Manitou Springs. Please try the Stagecoach Inn but be sure to have hearty appetite or bring along someone who you can share a good meal with.

Stagecoach Inn on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I have lost my appetite.

This is the view on Saturday when my husband and I drove back from the Castle Rock area. My heart was in my throat wondering what was going on in our town. I couldn't believe my eyes that a huge fire broke out in Waldo Canyon. And today the situation does not seem to be getting better which is just sickening. Our hearts are saddened by this
natural disaster and this fire affects a lot of our loved ones. Our prayers and thoughts are with those evacuees, firefighters and volunteers!!!

You can donate to help Waldo Canyon effort to the following charities:

(Once there, please specify Waldo Canyon Fire / Disaster Relief on the donation form.)

(Although the website states "Hyde Park Fire," their names and contact information will be referenced for the Waldo Canyon fire.)

(Donate items needed:  towels, shampoo, soap and food )

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My "Go To" Restaurant- Saltgrass

There is nothing more important in life then finding a darn good steak house in town! For years my husband and I were like the rest of Colorado Springs waiting 1-2 hours for a table at Texas Roadhouse thinking their cuts of meat are awesome (I do love their prime rib). But, little did I know there was another chain steakhouse in town that was going to blow my mind. Saltgrass!

This restaurant is quieter then Texas roadhouse, the atmosphere lacks the littered peanut shells on the floor or being pushed up against the wall waiting for a table. Yet, they still have the TVs on the wall on some random sports channel and they have a wide variety of adult beverages one of my favorites is the spiked sweet tea.
Saltgrass is my "go to" restaurant if I can’t think of somewhere new to go then I go to Saltgrass because  I am always going to be extremely satisfied with my meal. It is a chain restaurant owned by Landry's Inc. which owns restaurants, gaming and etc. Of course I am a Landry's select club member (Oh I sound like I am special) you pay $25 to get the membership and then your next meal you get $25 off; so if you go here often the card offers opportunity to gain points to receive discounts on your meals. Just so you know it is not just I who thinks these steaks are great. Now if you go to the Saltgrass website you will see numerous awards on the site; specifically first place, best food at the Taste (A Taste of Colorado).

My husband and I often go to Saltgrass for lunch and dinner so I have highlighted what we ate over a few visits at this restaurant once for lunch and twice for dinner.

Super sweet tea!

Like any good Texas steak house it offers a sweet tea which is so sugary it will rot your teeth...just the way I like it. Then each table is served a warm perfectly round loaf of their Shiner Bock beer bread with butter. Delicious!!!

For an appetizer we usually order the chuck wagon cheese fries which is a plate piled high fried potatoes that are topped with gooey melted jack and cheddar cheese, bacon, sour cream & chives. I usually 86 the chives and get the bacon on the side. My husband loves bacon but I don’t eat cute little piggies. But my favorite appetizer of all would have to be the fried mushrooms which I choose to have with the dill ranch. These little morsels are perfectly zesty, crispy on the outside and juicy & tender on the inside. The mushrooms are simple delectable! But be careful these suckers can be stove hot so don’t burn your tongue, you are going to need it for the main course.

Then I order a house salad with the dill ranch, shredded cheddar cheese, tomato, croutons and I add red onions. I love the salads because of the creamy dill ranch which tastes homemade and the perfectly buttery crotons.

For lunch I ordered the chicken fried chicken and my husband ordered the chicken fried steak. You can tell we were both on diets that day (joking).

My husband’s chicken fried steak was huge (Texas style everything is bigger) but it doesn’t always mean better. I believe the chicken was more scrumptious then the steak. Both the fried chicken and fried steak had a crispy lightly fried layer but the chicken was much more juicy and delicious taste then the steak. My husband ordered his meal with a basic baked potato with butter and I opted for the garlic mashed potatoes drowning in the white gravy.

Now to the really good stuff…DINNER!

I order the Maudeen’s center cut filet which is a tender, juicy, succulent 6oz or 9oz filet that is topped with garlic butter and onion straws. My husband usually orders the grilled gulf shrimp with his filet and I will order the cognac pepper sauce but not the pepper crusted. Also we go all out and order the sautéed mushrooms to top the filet. Now this steak would be perfectly delicious solo, but if you add the sauce and mushrooms your taste buds will go into overload. This steak is luscious... and never have my filets been fatty or chewy like so many other steak houses but always perfection. This filet is mouthwateringly delicious.

The rich and decadent cognac pepper sauce.

I order the mac and cheese with my steak showing off my refined palate. The mac and cheese is dripping in cheddar and smoked Gouda cheese which is rich and I enjoy the smoked flavor thats adds a nice twist to a classic side dish. I find the cheesy, ooey, gooey, smoky-ness of this side dish to be sublime.

My husband for dinner ordered the grilled chicken breast & gulf shrimp combo that is a moist marinated grilled chicken breast and grilled marinated gulf shrimp with a melted butter to dip those suckers in. My husband always goes on and on how fresh the shrimp are but I am too much of a picky eater to try seafood. Of course my husband ordered the baked potato which was dripping with an overload of melting butter.


But there is more….we ended up coming back another night and tried the beef ravioli, something different. The ravioli is simply exquisite; it is made with tender slow roasted beef ravioli topped with sautéed mushrooms & sun dries tomatoes that add a bit of tanginess to the savory taste of the creamy cognac sauce. This is pasta bliss!

Oh now I have to go back after wiriting this....I am drooling! Saltgrass is my go to restaurant when I want a good steak or good meal!

Saltgrass Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Colorado Mountain Brewery

I should have known better to check my urban spoon app for the rating on Colorado Mountain Brewery before waiting for a table at a restaurant that can be best described as mediocre. And that is being polite….I hate a bad meal. It was so dreadful that we ended up going to Burger King afterwards so my husband could get the horrid taste out of his mouth.

Now where do I begin….the décor was attractive giving the customer a false sense of possibly having a good meal to come. But little did we know how the night would end. We order our drinks which were a lemon drop martini and a pale ale called the Hefeweissen. The lemon drop was tart and I could tell the vodka was not top shelf but that was my fault for not saying something to our waiter beforehand. The pale ale was a wild boutique of fruity undertones which was actually quiet overwhelming. Needless to say my husband was not a fan.

 We perused the menu while asking our waiter for suggestions and then we eye-balled other tables’ meals to determine what we should order for our meals. While reviewing the menu I noticed something interesting in the ingredients; not one item on the meal was simple it was all an overindulgence in fusion recipes. Fusion recipes can be exciting and interesting for your taste buds if executed properly i.e. don’t go overboard with herbs and spices.

We started our meal with a cup of the three cheese beer soup that had parmesan croutons and freshly chopped jalapeños for a little kick. The soup was creamy and spicy; I really enjoyed the combination.

Hence I was looking forward to the main course. I had chosen the herb & gorgonzola crusted beef tenderloin; normally this meal comes with Brussels sprouts with bacon but I had a rather lengthy conversation with the waiter that I don't eat pork so I substituted the asparagus and put the gorgonzola sauce on the side.  The meal also came with a twice baked potato which I thought didn’t have bacon in it. Well, my meal came and guess what happened…. the potato had bacon in it. At this point the manager happened to come over to our table and I discussed with her that I was frustrated that on the menu bacon wasn't described in the potato. She seemed flustered because she kept interrupting me by repeating "I am sorry"; rather then listening to my concern. It seems that poor customer service is an issue at this local spot since many other patrons on Urban Spoon describe the same poor quality service. A solution was finally met and garlic mashed potatoes were brought out instead. I thought the garlic potatoes were smooth and creamy and all in all delightful and the asparagus was lightly grilled just how I like it.

But the beef tenderloin was horrid. Beef tenderloin is usually tender, lean and juicy; but what I received was chewy and fatty. The paste of herbs on top of the meat  really didn’t taste anything more than tomato paste out of the can and the gorgonzola dressing was even worse tasting, like sour cream that had gone bad. Let's just say I didn't finish it.

My husband ordered the seared Ahi Tuna Steak which was crusted with spices served with a Thai peanut sauce, wasabi mashed potatoes and veggies. The tuna was so over seasoned with spices you couldn’t even taste the fish and the spices were extremely overwhelming and way too hot. What was even worse was the wasabi mashed potatoes tasted like raw horseradish. I don’t know about you but eating raw horseradish as a side dish is not at all appealing to me. (FYI “Wasabi” in the US is usually horseradish paste mixed with maybe a little bit of real wasabi if you are lucky and then they add food coloring to make it appear nice and green). Needless to say my husand did't finish his meal.

We were originally going to have a dessert but decided not to push our luck at this restaurant and just asked for the check. Please note that this restaurant is too pricey for such low quality food and beer that is just okay. If you are looking for a good brewery in town then try out the Phantom Canyon.

Colorado Mountain Brewery on Urbanspoon