Jihye Chang

“Good Eats in Southern U.S.A.”

Ike and Jane, Athens, GA

Ike and Jane, where you can get an “Elvis Presley Donut” – yeast donut with peanut butter glaze, banana slices and a piece of bacon. It sounds strange, but it’s quite a great combination! (Although I can let go of the bacon part.)

Ike and Jane is a cute and charming bakery-cafe in Athens, Georgia, where one can get a cup of decent coffee along with their fun variations of donuts, cupcakes, breakfast items, and really good freshly squeezed orange juice. I stumbled upon this place while I was in Athens for a rehearsal, and a concert a few weeks later. Their sign was so cute that I had to go inside and check it out.

Breakfast biscuit was delicious, and the cappuccino was decent enough.Pistachio-caramel glazed yeast donut was also yummy!

Atmosphere: Casual charming. Fun to look at the showcase!

Service: Friendly and apt

Website: www.ikeandjane.com

Hours: Monday-Friday, 6:30am-5pm/ Saturday-Sunday, 8am-2pm

Address/ Phone#: 1307 Prince Avenue/ 706-850-1580

Tip: Parking can be pretty hard! And it seems always crowded. It might be easier for the driver to stay in the car, and take a to-go order during the busy hours.

They also have quite large lunch options, but I have not tried it yet. A good reason to go back to Athens, I suppose!

Liam’s Thomasville – Tallahassee’s Best Restaurant..!

Technically, Liam’s Restaurant is in Georgia. But it’s pretty close to Tallahassee, and it’s on the Thomasville Road, which connects from Tallahassee to Thomasville. I wish this restaurant was in Tally, not in Thomasville, though, as 30 minute drive can be too much when one’s very hungry.

I found out about this restaurant from a bartender at the Fermentation Lounge during during my first week living in Tallahassee. He said his family has been living in Tallahassee and Thomasville area for many generations, and Liam’s was his favorite restaurant along with Jonah’s, also in Thomasville. I visited Liam’s the very next week for lunch, and it was awesome.

We ordered a hamburger, tomato basil soup, and sashimi tuna salad. Not pretentious or overly creative, but food made with fresh and good ingredients, prepared with care. And the price for lunch was pretty good, too.

Tomato basil soup – simple and good. Perfect for a summer lunch.

Miso tuna salad – I liked the dressing and salad components. Tuna was a little bit overcooked, but it was still good.

But we never got to go back until the end of our second year in Tallahassee. We went a few times for dinner with close friends, and then once for brunch. I think their brunch and lunch are much better deal than the dinner. Still, it feels pretty good to make a reservation and drive up the road and eat for a long time with your good friends. This place has enough charm and goodness that I can let go of a few minor things.

Food: I like their lunch and brunch better than the dinner (priced better/ not as loud or crowded/ more selections). Dinner may seem a little bit over-priced, but I love trying their cheese selection (price varies by selection) and talking to Rhonda, the owner and cheese-person at Liam’s who is so enthusiastic and welcoming. Also good is the American charcuterie plate ($16). I wish they would serve baguette or rustic Italian bread with these, though. (They serve thick slices of cheese flavored bread.) One day I shall try their $100 cheese course!

Charcuterie plate is yummy! It’d be nice if it came with a bit more condiment/ toasted breads or cracker, but still the selection is good. I love the lardon – the white stuff at the right bottom corner.

Sugar Beet Salad: house-pickled sugar beets, blue cheese, walnuts, chive oil – this was interesting. Beet was very hard and crunchy..! I liked the flavor and the texture, but I could not eat a lot of it. Probably would be better to share among friends, rather than having it as a salad for yourself.

Tomato Basil Blue Crab Bisque: heavy cream, fresh tomatoes & hand-picked blue crab $6 – yummy! Rich but not too much, and generous amount and good flavor of blue crab. Loved it.

One of the best things I ate at Liam’s was this Farmer’s Toast dish: grilled & buttered crostini, forest mushrooms, truffle cream sauce, organic fried egg, $12 – such a simple thing, but so yummy!

Roasted quail with nocchi, and mushroom cream sauce $28 – my husband loved it. I got to taste it, and it was a little too much for me. Too much game meat, too much cream, ,,, just too intense. But the quail was tender and juicy. The gnoccchi would be good just with the mushroom sauce without the quail, I thought.

Hanger steak $28 – this was the only thing that was a little disappointing. The meat was a bit tough, and the sauce was too thick/ salty. I could not get the character of this dish. Nothing special or delicious compared to the other dishes I had here.

For dessert, I have had the Banana Foster ice cream ($8), sorbet selection, and coconut cream cake. They were fine, but nothing special or great, considering the price. Coconut cake was fine, but the torched coconut flakes tasted funny. Banana foster sauce was good, but the presentation and ice cream selection can be better. Sorbet tasted too sweet and the texture was a bit coarse. As a person with a serious sweet tooth, I wish Liam’s had a bit more creative or diverse selection of desserts.. !

Atmosphere: It’s not a haute-cuisine type place to experience modern techniques or impeccable plating. Nor it is a place for super-chic servers and shiny chandeliers. It’s a family run business that serves food made with good ingredients in a simple way, but with good care. Overall a bit dark, with beautiful photographs and dark-wood tables and shelves. It gets really noisy during dinner time, which is my least favorite thing about this place. But I am willing to let go of the loudness at Liam’s and at Kool Beanz.

Service: Things can get slow sometimes, but the servers are professional and friendly.

Address/Phone#: 113 East Jackson Street, Thomasville, GA 31792/ 229.226.9944 (Reservation for dinner is a must!)

Hours: Another strange operation hours.

CLOSED Sunday and Monday; Tuesday and Wednesday, LUNCH ONLY from 11am-2pm

Thursday – Friday, lunch from 11am to 2pm AND dinner from 5:30-closing; Saturday, brunch from 9am to 1pm AND dinner from 5:30- closing.

Website: www.liamsthomasville.com

In Tallahassee, Kool Beanz comes close to Liam’s, but Liam’s is a bit more sophisticated. (and a little less noisy and less casual) Mozaik tries to be modern, creative and chic, but sometimes their food comes across strangely unbalanced. Cypress was OK, but somehow I never wanted to go back.. so I will probably drive 30-4o minutes to Liam’s as much as I can whenever I long for a fine dining experience.

Tallahassee Eats, Tasty Beer Garden

Want to eat a bowl of Pho in Tallahassee? The only option, in my opinion, is the Tasty Beer Garden. The unfortunate thing is that they serve it only on Fridays.

I like their Pho – it’s simple, the noodle’s not too thick, broth is tasty (I like a little deeper flavor, but TBG’s Pho is not too salty or MSG loaded), and it comes with bean sprouts+basil leaves+lime wedge. I prefer this bowl to the other Phos in town.

Tasty Beer Garden opened in the fall of 2011. It’s a cute little place in the Railroad Park. It doesn’t claim to be a Vietnamese restaurant, although it’s run by Vietnamese people. As the restaurant’s name suggests, they have a decent beer list and a nice patio area. Also they serve some of the American dishes such as meatloaf. I like some of the Vietnamese dishes (well enough to make occasional visits, even when it’s not Friday), and my husband likes the Affligem beer.

Some of the dishes I like are:

* Fresh spring rolls (Goi Cuon) – FAR from the best I have had, but this is the best option in town. Elsewhere it’s too expensive or not good enough for various reasons. (noodles too thick, weird crab stick or funny tasting ham slice involved, etc.) Personally I wish TBG’s rolls had more herbs and less noodles, but still I sometimes crave these little snacks so much that I don’t mind the flaws.

* Bahn Mi – Again, not the best I have had.. but good enough. I like the pork sandwich better than the beef one. The spicy mayo seems to come from a bottle, and it’s a bit too sweet for my taste. Meat seems to be in-house cooked, and is tasty.

* Rice combination – My favorite things to order in good Vietnamese restaurants are Goi cuon, rice combination, Pho dak biet, and noodle salad. But at Tasty Beer Garden, I don’t order the noodle salad any more as the noodles are a bit overcooked and the pickles seem too watery and not pickled enough.  The rice combination is fun to order, and it’s good for the price.

The biggest let-down, at least for me, of this place is that every utensils and plates they use are plastic disposable, except the Pho bowls. I really wish they would at least use real forks and spoons. It makes me feel so guilty eating there. But as long as this is the only pho option in Tally, I will probably go back there every now and then.

Tallahassee Eats;-Root Cellar on Mikosoukee

It’s been a year and a half since I moved to Tallahassee. Although I feel that the restaurant selection is rather limited in Tally, I have found a few places that I frequent besides the ones I wrote last year.

One of the newly discovered places is the Root Cellar on Miccosukee. It’s been open for just over a year as I am writing this on New Year’s Day 2013. It has some things to improve upon but I do love the concept of this place and what the owner/chef are trying to do.

Concept – Farm to Table, Local and Organic, Made from scratch

This I like very much. I think there should be more restaurants like this in any city. A small business trying to work together with other local business. The Root Cellar works with several farms and producers near Tallahassee, including Sweet Grass Dairy, Orchard Pond Farm (organic veggies and grass fed beef), Turkey Hill Farm, Thompson Farms, and so on.

Menu – Seasonal, with one or two daily specials. Somewhat limited and not too often changed

Their menu is not big. They have a fish special that changes often, and some special vegetable and cheese choices. But after three visits I was already a little bit bored with the options.  I especially wish they would have more options for appetizers and vegetable plates/side dishes.

Atmosphere and service – Casual, a bit noisy, friendly, and unpretentious. Could be slow but it’s the kind of ambiance that invites waiting around and lounging.  I personally think this kind of restaurant should make you feel good – good to eat sustainably produced food, to support local business, and to be in a friendly space for a relaxed time.

Food – I like their “Picnic Basket” with cheese, charcuterie, and in-house made pickles. It seems a little pricey, but I do like what they put on the little chopping block. (Although it would be so nice if they could provide more toasted points or crackers to accompany..!)

Among the regular menu items, our favorite is the meatloaf. Very simple and straight forward, but always moist and well prepared. The tangy sauce (with some beer mixed in) comes along with it is very tasty, too.  We also enjoy the salads and anything with hand-picked crab meat. The dessert selection is also limited, but I like the buttermilk pound cake. Yum! Some of the main dishes and soup can be hit or miss (for example, the jambalaya in my photo gallery was a little too watery and chicken-heavy/ squash soup was too heavily spiced for my taste, etc.), but overall it’s a place that I would go back to. I and my husband always felt well treated after eating there.

Overall, given the presentation and short-ish menu, the price point is a little on the high side.  However, this is the kind of restaurant and enterprise that makes Tallahassee a better place, and I feel good about supporting their creativity and commitment to sustainable practices. And hey – it’s same for a lot of the other decent restaurants in Tally. Even a Thai restaurant can charge you over $25 for an entree (which I never experienced in any other Thai restaurants in the states)!

Address: 1311 Miccosukee Road (at Magnolia Crossing)

Phone: 850-597-7419

Hours: Tuesday till Saturday, 5pm till around 9-10pm, maybe a bit longer on weekends (depends on the crowd, I think)/ No reservations accepted

* Website: http://miccosukeerootcellar.com – This is more like a blog run by the owner, Ruben. I hope they will add more updates on menus and specials soon!

* A lot of people on Google/ Yelp review seem to have had some bad service experience – but I had none upon my three visits. Things can be a bit slow, but I am OK with that.

Tallahassee favorites #1

After living in Alabama, North Dakota and Minnesota, I am now living in northern Florida – Tallahassee, to be exact. I have many friends who lived in Tally for a few years or who currently live here, and they all had their favorite places to eat. So I started exploring those places first – Kool Beanz, Food Glorious Food, Clusters and Hops, and so on.

After spending 4 months in Tally, the restaurant I and my husband frequent the most is…Kool Beanz. It’s usually very packed and noisy, and service can be slow. But this restaurant has a charm and flavor that appeal to me. I also like the fact that they try to use local, seasonal, and organic ingredients. They change the menu daily, but some items do come back. Here are a few things that I like: coconut cream cake (very sweet but so smooth and delicious!), any fried fish (a lot of their main dishes are fried or deeply sauteed, and they are usually yummy), crab cakes (when Steve is in the kitchen – other times they were not as good). My husband likes their fried chicken (not drumstick or bone-in, but a big piece of chicken breast!) and flank steak with gorgonzola herb butter. The price is not too expensive, although some people might feel it is bit pricey considering the atmosphere. To me this restaurant feels like a fun place to try out a lot of southern style or southern inspired food.

Both my husband and I need to eat super hot Thai food every now and then. We tried every Thai restaurant in town and decided to go to Reang Thai when we have that Thai-hot craving. Reang Thai’s price is a few dollars more than one would expect from a Thai restaurant, but this was common in other Thai restaurants in Tallahassee as well.

Good facts at Reang Thai: vegetables and other ingredients are fresh and well prepared. Thai-hot dishes are quite fiery and flavored with Thai chili peppers, not with some chili sauce or hot sauce. Crispy duck, Larb, and Green curry with tofu.

Not so good facts: Like I mentioned, more expensive than what one expects from a Thai restaurants. Some common dishes (Pad Thai, Pad See Yu, Khao Pad) are not as good as what I am used to, and a little different. (For example, the chef might not put egg in the noodles unless you specifically ask for it/ curries are not as sweet or thick as some of the other Thai restaurants I tried) Some stir-fried dishes can be very sweet.

For Pad see wu, Pad Thai, Tom yum and Thai fried rice, I go to Siam Sushi on Monroe.

Oh, and I am happy that there is a locally owned French style bakery in town – Au Peche Mignon! I try to go there when the croissants and brioches just come out of the oven, which is around 10:15am. The brioches are nice with soft texture and yeasty flavor. (I like their brioches more than the croissants.) APM’s croissants are fine when they are warm, but I prefer the Patisserie 46 style with a bit sweeter and crusty exterior. But still their croissants are folded by hands and have buttery, soft flavor. I also like a few of their pastries – mocha tart with chocolate casing, coffee flavored butter cream, and almond flavored tart/ hazelnut merringue/ tiramisu. Their chocolate truffles are also fine. I am not a big fan of their cakes and macarons, though. (I like Japanese style soft cakes with delicate decoration and macarons with finer texture and more inventive fillings.)

Other things we liked so far:

* Mac and Cheese with collard greens and tasso at Food Glorious Food – this is quite yummy!

* Trufle Mac and Cheese from Cluster and Hops.

I have yet to try out and find some good pizza places, Italian restaurants, seafood and BBQ joints, and Cajun restaurants in town. I hope I will find many more good places to blog about in and around Tally!

P.S. I will write about Liam’s and in Thomasville later.

George’s, real charmer in Alys Beach

George’s is charming and precious. I just don’t know how else to describe this little white restaurant on the Alys Beach.

georges

One of my dear friend – a beautiful Southern lady, who enjoys playing tennis and doing all kinds of volunteer work – introduced this restaurant to me when I was visiting her in Rosemary Beach, FL. One of the owners of this restaurant (Ann Hartley) loves frogs for some reason, so the restaurant is full of frog-themed objects. The menu is simple enough – burger, fish taco, BL(green)T, and some fried seafood plates and salad items. The service can be a bit slow as it’s always packed with people. But it’s just so …charming! If this restaurant was in downtown somewhere, I don’t think it’d be the same. It just works beautifully with the pristine beach, friendly owner who’s mostly there unless she’s traveling to Paris, and fresh seafood.

The food is really great. I have had their grouper sandwich (“misbehaved”, meaning fried), fish taco, vegetarian soba salad, and a few desserts. They always use great ingredients, and whatever you get is not too salty, but always very flavorful.

Some people complain that it’s overpriced, but I don’t feel that way. It’s on a beach that’s a vacation place. And the food and the charm make you happy. I would be OK paying $12-15 (or $20 with a dessert) for my little happiness.

georges2

Below was a pecan crust tart with local berries and honey. So yummy! (and big.)

georges5

This restaurant opened only about 3 years ago (in 2008), but has many loyal followers. If you are ever in 30-A area, visiting Rosemary Beach or Seaside, make sure you go visit George’s. You may have to wait for your table and it may get very warm and noisy inside, but that’s part of the charm. 🙂

My Favorite Restaurants in Montgomery, AL

I lived in Montgomery, AL, for about a year (2006 -7 ) and visited quite a few times after moving up north. It’s not a huge city but has enough good restaurants to feed a hungry visitor.

La Jolla – located in the East Chase shopping center. This is a huge restaurant with modern deco and sophisticated menus. Their lunch is better than the dinner. Ahi-Tuna salad with Asian vegetables and seaweed was my favorite, and their dessert is also very good. Whenever you see something “Southern” on the menu, grab that! (6854 East Chase Parkway/ 334-356-2600/ www.lajollamontgomery.com)

City Grill -I ate here only twice, as this is one of the most expensive places to eat in Montgomery (along with the Olive Room and ) but I really liked what I had. It’s a quiet and elegant place. (8147 Vaughn Rd./ 333-244-0960)

Olive Room – located downtown. A huge place with elegant deco, good service, and good menu. Probably a good place to take out-of-towners or first-time-visitors. (121 Montgomery Ave/ 334-262-2763)

Michael’s Table is also cute and nice. Some things are Tapas-inspired, and they use good ingredients. Creative (sometimes a bit pretentious) menu, and friendly staff. Some inconsistency in the dishes, but I think it’s worth a visit.(2960-A Zelda Place/ www.michaelstable.net/ 334-272-2500)

Cafe M at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts has a beautiful view and big windows, and their chicken salad is good. It’s a lovely space with lovely staff, if not the best food in town. And I love the Shakespeare park! (One museum road/ 334-240-4338)

Derek’s Fillet and Vine sells fried chicken, vegetable sides, and selection of soup. I love their seafood gumbo, although it’s not made everyday. (431 Cloverdale Road/ www.filletandvine.com/ 334-262-8463)

Oh, and if you have a friend who has a membership to the Wynnlake Country Club, their food is excellent. (Better than the Montgomery Country Club, in my opinion)

Montgomery has quite a few Korean restaurants (thanks to the Hyundai plant), Japanese, Thai and Chinese restaurants and an Indian restaurant plus a Vietnamese restaurant.

Indian Palace is pretty good. I have a friend who lives in Troy, AL (45 minutes drive) who drives frequently to Montgomery just to eat their food! (3007 McGee Road/ 334-281-1200)

Among the Thai places, I think Ala Thai is the safest choice. It has three locations, and my favorite location is the one on the railroad. Good Pad Thai, spicy and tasty Num-Ttok, and spicy basil stir-fry dishes. Some people preferred Lek’s, which also serves sushi items.

Arirang – their kitchen does not seem to be too clean, but this restaurant serves BBQ on the table grills (and the BBQ items are better than other items on the menu). Try the Galbi or Spicy pork. Their dishes tend to be salty, but it’s a little better than the other Korean restaurants in Montgomery. (1633 Eastern Blvd./ 334-215-3251)

There is no good Chinese restaurant in Montgomery, though. Everything is like fast food Chinese or sad buffet. Emperor’s Garden on McGhee Road was the only place I and my husband would go when it was absolutely necessary.

For sushi rolls, I liked Miyako the best. (I would not order any nigiri or anything fancy like Uni in any small cities in America. Just rolls or other cooked Japanese dishes.) I like the Lobster roll (although it has a lot of mayonnaise) and spicy tuna rolls. Miyako also makes “Hoe-Dup-Bap,” if you special-order it! It’s a Korean style sashimi dish with rice that comes with a lot of raw fish, lots of thinly sliced vegetables, and spicy sweet and sour Gochujang. (8173 Vaughn Rd/ 334-215-2275)

Montgomery did not have a good bakery or a coffee shop that served good espresso. Cafe Louisa or Cool Beans downtown are the closest thing you will find. (Their espresso drinks are far from being excellent, but the best in Montgomery.)

Cool Beans – It’s in downtown. A good place for a quick lunch and coffee. I loved their morning orchard muffins! (115 Montgomery Street/ 334-269-6200)

Cafe Louisa – walking distance from the Huntingdon college. This place has nice smoothies (a bit expensive, but made with real fruit and yogurt) and great bread pudding. Their sausage-cheese biscuit is excellent, too. This place uses Higher Ground organic coffee beans, but their beans tend to be a bit over-roasted and give burned flavor. (1034 E. Fairview Ave/ www.cafelouisa.com/ 334-264-4241)

Tomatino next door to the Cafe Louisa has nice pizzas. (www.tomatinos.com/ 334-264-4241)

P.S. I used to like Nancy Paterson’s Bistro, but it appears that they have closed the restaurant. That’s too bad.. I will miss the mocha cake!

P.P.S. I also never ate at any of the BBQ joints or a true Southern places with meat and two..but people seem to like Dreamland. Also there is a popular seafood restaurant called Jubilee in Old Cloverdale. Straight-forward fresh seafood, and fun staff.

My favorite restaurants in Fargo-Moorhead area

Tuna Appetizer at Monk's Pub

Tuna Appetizer at Monk’s Pub

I have lived in Fargo-Moorhead area for about 1.65 years, and there are a few really good places for dining and having fun. One of my favorite restaurant is Sushi Time, and I found this place through someone’s blog. So I thought I would share my thoughts so that someone else can visit a great place in this area.

Silver Moon on Robert St – very well executed fine dining experience. It’s been open for less than a year (today is April 10 2009), but it seems to be thriving. Dessert menu was a bit disappointing but the duck dish (with campari infused sweet potato) my husband ordered was amazing. Great salad, great atmosphere, and great service. A bit loud, though. (no section or walls inside the restaurant, high ceiling, live performance. Hence lots of noise)

Update (January 25, 2010) – visited a few more times after posting this, including tonight. Still wonderful, some dishes are a bit too salty. My husband’s braised sort rib with gnocchi was wonderful. Still not happy with their dessert..

Update (April 2016) – Closed a while ago, and has been successfully turned over as “Mezzluna.” My friends (especially the Fargo Moorhead Symphony friends) seem to like it very much, and I would love to visit it sometime soon.

Stella’s (formerly Isabella’s)  – my favorite Italian place in town. Their food has a lot of garlic and a lot of tomato so some people may find it a bit strong, but I love it! Their appetizer tray, lasagna, seafood spaghetti, zuppa di pesce, and grilled sausages with peppers are fantastic. I also like their bread, especially when it comes fresh and warm from the oven. Nothing special, but good basic loaf to soak up oil, vinegar and lots of sauce from your plate. Nice chocolate cake and cheesecake for desserts. (Their tiramisu is a bit heavy on the alcohol side.) Service can be slow. Toscana is also an OK Italian restaurant in downtown, but they have very weird hours and their food tend to be really salty. I like their gnocchi and pea and ham spaghetti for a quick lunch. (Lunch pasta dishes are usually $7-8)

Update (April 2016): CLOSED! 

Usher’s/ Monk’s Bar – Best sashimi-grade tuna dish in town. (I tried sashimi tuna dishes in all the restaurants that I visited in this area.) They serve Tuna napoleon as an appetizer, and it’s $16 -But it comes with 6 big chunks of really good-quality tuna, slightly seared, with some spicy aioli and fried wonton wrappers. It’s better to order it from the Monk’s bar, not from Usher’s. You can have it as a main dish and add a soup or something, instead of ordering a main dish.  Good beer selection. Good atmosphere. Other dishes are OK. I love the atmosphere in the Usher’s dining room – nice wood interior with big windows.

Update: Monk’s Bar has Happy Hour from 3-6pm, and all the appetizers are half price. The garnish and presentation was different during this summer from the winter, but still delicious.

Maxwell’s – the best Creme Brulee in town. (And one of the bests I have had – creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts!) Main dish can be on the salty side. But they have great service and atmosphere. Special occasion pre-fix menu is fun, but maybe not that special. (And good things run out – we could not get the fried banana dessert on Valentine’s day.) Nice to place to try/ very good wine list.

John Alexander’s on Main Ave., Moorhead – right next door to the Juano’s. Nice atmosphere, nicely written menu. Their best meal and best deal is Sunday Brunch, not their lunch or dinner. (Hamburger and fish & chips are good, but other items may bring you a big disappointment.) I always have hard time deciding what to eat for brunch, and buffet is a bit too much for me. Here you can choose one from yogurt, granola and fruit sort of thing and then select your main dishes such as omelet and pancake.

HoDo – this place has a really nice feel to it, but their food is not my favorite. (It always seems to be trying too hard to be cool and the flavor of dishes is always off a little bit or lacking something.) I like their mini-desserts because of their fun size. Sorbet is the best choice. (Meyer Lemon sorbet was good.) Cool place to hang out and drink, although the bar area is a bit too loud for my taste.

Sarello’s in Moorhead, near the mall – I have been there only once, but it seemed to be popular and it was good. To me this restaurant was a bit over-priced, but the service was really nice and food was very well prepared. I had a seabass with cornmeal crust which was nice enough but not memorable like some of the dishes I had at the Silver Moon. I don’t even remember what my husband ordered here..! Nice bread and butter. It feels a bit boxy and crowded. (Probably because the space used to be an office.)

When you want to have good ribs or rotisserie chicken, Spitfire is a very nice place to visit. It’s locally owned and has a very pleasant, sporty, and comfortable atmosphere. Very good ribs and good desserts. Salad greens sometimes appear very sad and not-fresh, though. Doolittle is also nice for rotisserie stuff or other simple burgers and salads (Tuna nicoise salad is very good.) It’s spacious, friendly, and clean. Best of all, Doolittle’s kitchen is open until 11pm, which is rare in this area.

I also like Nichole’s pastry shop on 8th St. (off the Main Ave.) very much. It has really nice croissants and scones. Lunch sandwiches and salad are also reasonably priced and tasty. Nice tea selection and gelatos as well as beautiful chocolates (cocoa truffles!), but I don’t like their coffee too much. (They serve French pressed coffee. So it’s almost always fresh, but it’s just not my favorite type of coffee. Their espresso drinks are OK.) Their fruit pie during the spring-summer season is also nice. During the winter, check out the banana-cream pie and chocolate-sea salt-caramel tart -they are so yummy! Chocolate feuillentine is very good as well as chocolate caramel torte. I don’t like their cakes (vanilla cake, carrot cake, lemon curd cake, black forest cake are all OK but not great) or cookies that much, though. But it’s still one of the places in Fargo-Moorhead area that makes me happy. Very nice clerks, too.

Update (January 25. 2010) – Nichole’s is expanding!

One sad thing about being so far away from the ocean is that it’s really hard to get good sushi. Yuki Hana seems to be popular, but it is a mediocre place (or below mediocre) with overpriced items. Ingredients do not seem fresh (especially the teriyaki stuff – both meat and veggies) After a few visits, my husband and I decided not to go back.

Update (March 10, 2010): Yuki Hana has been closed for a while, but it will be open soon again. (Chef Sheng from Sushi Time got a job offer there.) Newly open Kobe’s is very popular, but I don’t like their sushi. It seems that the sushi rice quality is very poor, and the rolls are covered with too much sweet tasting sauce/ not enough fish in the rolls. My husband never wanted to go back after the first try, and I dragged him 3-4 more times. But now I know that I will probably not go back ever again.)

Another sad thing is that there is no decent Chinese restaurant in town, and there is no Korean restaurant. For Chinese food-cravings, I go to Little Szechuan in St. Paul. (My husband and I would make an excuse to go there!)

For Thai food, Leela on the 25th Ave. is nice, although it can be too sweet sometimes. Black and white slices are good as well as angel wings (pretty spicy). My husband’s favorite is their mango-duck curry and my favorite is basil stir-fry with tofu and eggplant. Fresh spring rolls and Pad Thai are better at Thai Orchid in Moorhead. I also like their Spicy Catfish, House Special Noodles and Thai fried rice.

Update (December 2009): Thai Orchid has changed their recipes for a lot of things. I like the old flavors of the Tom Yum and Yum Nua better. Also the fresh chili sauce is a lot more spicy. Still the Spicy Catfish is good as well as the fresh spring rolls are good.

I find it interesting that there are not many McDonalds or Wendy’s in town and there is no donut joint.  (Krispy Kreme went out of business last year!) But I suppose that’s a good thing.

I just wish someone will open a nice Korean restaurant or a noodle shop soon! The best location would be the Bison Block on the 12th..