Katie and I planned to do the cute couple thing this weekend and take a trip to Long Grove, IL to see what all the old-person hub bub was about, but the weather cut that short. What we did see of Long Grove is exactly as one would think. Although based on how many times I’ve had to explain what Long Grove is to people, there doesn’t seem to be too many people thinking about it at all. It’s full of small stores (two Irish-based!), small boutiques and old-school ice cream stores. The sidewalks are cobblestone and horrible uneven, and under any other circumstances we would have stuck around, but the snow made the cobblestone nice and slippery. We decided that a guy with balance problems was not the target audience for Long Grove that day.
What we did get to try before we left was the Long Grove Confectionary, a chocolate lover’s wet dream. Free samples of their dark chocolate peppermint bark greeted us, and after some hemming and hawing we decided we couldn’t leave without trying the thing for which the city is known. We tried their jalapeño and sea salt chocolate, the peanut butter, and the fudge cup. Being a PB & Chocolate whore the cup won hands down as far as I’m concerned, but the salted caramel with a jalapeño kick was a close runner up. You didn’t get the heat until you swallowed and it hit the back of your throat.
Instead we had lunch at The Ram, which I wrote about the other day. The second trip was fairly similar to the first trip. The service was slightly slow, but the food was good. I tried their fish and chips for this second visit. You only get one piece of fish, but it’s a large piece. It was nice to not be disgustingly full as some fish and chips dishes can do to you. It’s a heavy, hearty meal and when a
restaurant tosses three pieces of battered goodness at you, you don’t always walk away feeling good about yourself.
I tried their beer sampler as well. I didn’t feel as bad ordering my own, since the first trip I was sipping off my sister-in-law’s 3 oz pints. I think I’ve discussed my complete naivety when it comes to beer. I know nothing about hops and malts and wheats and ryes. I go in with a “if it tastes good, awesome” mentality. Through the very scientific process of “Try Everything” I’ve learned I like lighter, crisper beer, with stouts being the one exception. My favorite seems to be European drafts, especially something like an Italian Rye. So, I said bring on the sampler!
Turns out that my initial beer instincts stayed true. The Big Horn Blonde, Hefeweizen and the Buttface Amber Ale were the clear favorites, with Buttface probably being favorite. It went well with the fish and chips and never had a bitter taste to it. The blonde was a great before food drink, but didn’t necessarily pair up with the food very well. And the Hefeweizen was nice, if a bit too tangy (is that a beer term) for me.
The rest of the beers were sampled but just sat there. Sorry Big Red Ale and Total Disorder Porter.
Sunday we tried going to Little Goat since three of our friends got in with no wait. Of course we got there to find out there was over an hour wait. So we went to Haymarket Pub & Brewery instead. We weren’t disappointed.
The vegan burger was surprisingly good, especially since one of the main ingredients was beets. I do no like beets, so kudos to them making a delicious beet burger. The mac and cheese was awesomely smoky. And Katie loved her “Morning Riot” burger, which was italian sausage, mozzarella, BBQ pulled pork and an egg for good measure. She ate it as a personal dare to herself. She seldom eats the unhealthiest thing on the menu but the “Morning Riot” called to her. It didn’t last long.
We tried a couple of their beers, since you know, that’s what they’re about and stuff. I went with the White Chapel Wit, a Belgian white ale. It was exactly the kind of thing I like: light, crisp, and went well with my food. Katie tried the Nothing Rhymes With Purple Spiced Belgian Oatmeal Stout. Having just had a New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout a few days ago, I thought Haymarket’s was a much smoother stout, but still not something I’d order off the menu if I had a choice.
Readers of this blog will notice we actually avoided dessert at both of these restaurants. Sure, we replaced the calories with beer, but we almost felt like we were eating healthier, if you can count Italian sausage smothered in BBQ Pork and an egg healthier. But you have to start somewhere. Maybe next time we won’t order drinks, and be REALLY good.
But probably not.
Why cut out all the fun?