Saturday, June 11, 2016

Frida 602:






If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed a trend with some of my tweet content over the past year. It started innocently enough with me running a 5K race last spring.

After running inside on a treadmill all winter, I started to take my workouts to the road--and the races. I started upping my mileage during the week, getting more competitive, and on May 1st this year, ran the Flying Pig Half Marathon.

The Flying Pig has one of the earliest starts of the races I’ve run. To his credit, David got up at 5 a.m. on a Sunday without complaint to watch the race start at 6:30 and wait for me to finish about an hour and 45ish minutes later.

At most races, once you cross the finish line, there are usually volunteers with water, free bananas or other small snacks. I usually take the water, but skip the other goodies. Because when I finish a race, there are usually three things I really want, listed below.

1. A hug from David
2. Nachos
3. Margaritas

yaaaaaass

To fulfill that wish list, sometimes we head north to Chuy’s in Kenwood, to Mercado downtown, or take a short trip across the river to Frida 602.



Interestingly enough, Frida 602 is also owned by the same people that own Otto’s, the subject of my previous post. You’ll notice some similarities--the pairs of salt and pepper shakers, some quirky decor, and a menu that doesn’t disappoint.

Frida 602 not only has a nice selection of tequila, they also specialize in mezcal, which is a spirit that is growing in prominence in the past few years. The selection of mezcal at the Party Source has been steadily expanding, and now takes up several shelves as opposed to a few bottles.


The good mezcal (not that caramel colored stuff with the worm in the bottom) can get pricey, so if you want to learn more about it, this bar is an excellent place to start, as they have flights you can try. Flights are also a good idea because mezcal itself can vary so wildly.  Some are smoky and bold like Scotch, while others are delicate and vegetal like a more nuanced tequila.


A copita, or traditional tasting cup for mezcal.

The cheese dip at Frida 602 is excellent, and the thicker (almost too thick in my opinion) chips are up to the task of scooping out the melty cheese with a nice broiled crust. Don’t be scared of the peppers--they look spicy but are very mild.


Don't be skeered

I like the nacho assembly particularly. While digging around in a pile of chips and delicious toppings for that perfect combination of beans, cheese and whatever else you’ve ordered on your nachos has its charms, the nachos at Frida 602 come out on a plate already assembled and loaded with beans, cheese, chicken, cilantro and crema.

Individually assembled for your snacking pleasure


The real star of the “antojitos” menu is the empanada. If you go to Frida 602, do not skip it. The perfectly deep fried pastry is filled with juicy, braised short rib in a slightly spicy sauce and served with chimichurri and crema. Hands down, it’s one of our favorite things on the menu.

Get you some

We’ve also eaten all the tacos on the menu. In one sitting. Don't look at me like that!

Our favorites were the fried fish and the fried chicken, as well as the braised beef. The brussel sprout taco is also surprisingly good for what appears to be the token vegan dish on the menu. The only miss was the chicken taco, which was a bit dry.

These are substantial tacos, so we recommend either getting them with the flour tortilla (best with the fried stuff) or requesting a double wrapped corn tortilla so they don’t fall apart halfway through.

goat taco

Structural integrity holding...for now
Too many tacos
Only God can judge me

Drinks are excellent as well. Everything is fresh, vibrant, and housemade. No retail mystery mixes were spotted.

If you want to go traditional, there’s a solid house margarita. The passion-fruit punch, which is a delightful pink color, is so tasty I’d recommend a pitcher for a group--because you definitely won’t want to share an individual order.

Passionfruit punch
Oaxacan mule
Frida Margarita
Sangria

We’ve tried two desserts, the key lime pie and the tres leches cake. The pie has great flavor with real lime zest, and the cake is some of the best we’ve ever had. The torched marshmallow at the top really takes it up a notch. This is another thing not to skip at Frida 602.

One of the best parts of indulging post-race is I get to eat the whole thing without any guilt

Monday, February 22, 2016

Otto's:





Some songs are happy songs. It’s practically impossible to not crack a smile or nod your head and sing along.

Take for instance, Africa, by Toto. The song seems to have become more popular recently for some reason, which I’m totally on board with. David, not so much, because when it comes on I start grinning and dancing like an idiot in public.


Along those same lines there are some restaurants that are happy places. Otto’s in Covington is one of those places.

Otto’s is open for brunch on Saturday and Sundays. We prefer the less busy Saturdays, and have been in for brunch five times now. We’ve tried pretty much the entire menu.

Brunch cocktails include a variety of mimosas and Bloody Mary. David and I usually start with one of those.

Now David usually only gets a Bloody Mary once or twice a year, but the ones at Otto’s are so good he hasn’t been able to pass them up. They have two types on the menu, distinguished by your preferred vodka infusion: garlic jalapeño or cucumber.  The garlic jalapeño is punchy without being overwhelming, while the cucumber is restrained and refreshing. The tomato base has clean fresh flavor and hasn't been over salted (like most premixes are). A splash of ale rounds out the recipe, to produce a superbly drinkable cocktail.



David is a huge fan of Benedict, so we started our first visit with that for him and the B.L.F.G.T., (bacon, lettuce, egg, fried green tomato, cheese and mayo) served on a toasted croissant, for me. For a side, there’s a tough decision between a nice thick and crispy slice of goetta, a fruit cup, or a phenomenal, fluffy potato pancake.



David's Benedict dance

The Benedict stays inside usual bounds for expected ingredients (poached egg, country ham, dill hollandaise), but adds its own signatures of cherry tomatoes and kale, all on a superbly crunchy grit cake. Again, like the Bloody Mary, all of the flavors are balanced perfectly.

Hurry boy, she's waiting there for you



Our next visit, David opted for the lox and bagel with a hard boiled egg, cream cheese, onion and caper. I couldn’t resist the pull of the biscuits and sausage gravy.



It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do

The portion size for the biscuits and gravy is perfect, and the ratio of sausage to gravy and biscuit are excellent. I’ve gotten this dish twice so far. The eggs on all of the dishes we’ve gotten from Otto’s have been expertly poached, and this was no exception.

Our third visit, I once again went for the sausage (insert that’s what he/she said here) and grit bowl. David selected the breakfast casserole. I really enjoyed the fresh, bright flavor from the sauteed cherry tomatoes, and David’s casserole had plenty of melted cheese, sausage, potatoes and other tasty vegetables.





The following Saturday, we decided to order the lemon buttermilk pancakes we’d been eyeing, in addition to the crab hash. Dear Lord, those pancakes. Served with a tangy berry compote, sweet whipped cream and butter, these are as good or better than the ones we loved at Red Feather.

I bless the rains pancakes down in Africa  at Otto's Cafe



It’s not just the food that’s great at Otto’s. They have excellent iced tea, and if you ask nicely, make a kick-ass John Daly. Service has always been pleasant. The restaurant has a variety of quirky signs, lively abstract art, and adorable sets of salt and pepper shakers for each table and tiny bikes that hold sugar packets. It is, as I mentioned, a very happy place to spend a Saturday morning.


The biggest problem we run into at Otto’s is that everything on the brunch menu is just so damn good that it’s hard to choose a favorite dish. It’s a good problem to have. Throw in that it’s just a mile walk from downtown and I think we have a new favorite brunch spot.


Gonna take some time to do the things we never had...like go back to Otto's for lunch and dinner.




Otto's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Red Feather:

After placing our order at Red Feather for brunch, our server returned with complimentary beignets from the kitchen--and a game plan.

We're gonna need a bigger table



“Well...since you ordered so many things, I think we’re going to have to stagger the dishes so they can all fit.”


David and I smiled sheepishly and agreed that even though it can be challenging to play two-top table tetris with hot plates of benedict and pancakes, it was the wisest choice of action.

feeling very pleased with ourselves after ordering most of the brunch menu at Red Feather

To be fair, we had warned our server that we would be ordering a lot of things off the menu. At a place like Red Feather, it’s hard not to.

After intense negotiation between the two of us, we decided on benedict for David, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, a croque madame, and goetta.

The beignets apparently are a brunch amuse bouche, and they set our expectations very high for the rest of brunch. Light, crispy, impossibly puffy and dusted with powdered sugar, David and I both savored each bite and wondered at how the kitchen pulled such a thing off.

Mind = Blown

The biscuits were a smaller plate than expected, but I actually preferred that--it meant I had more room to steal some of David’s pancakes and also work on my croque madame, which was massive. More on the sandwich later.



The biscuits were also very well made, and the sausage had a little spice to it.

David had insisted on ordering the pancakes, and I was very glad he did. Pancake texture can be tough to nail down, but these were perfect. They absorbed the syrup without losing the nice cake structure and were browned without being burnt.


And you get a pancake! And you get a pancake! And you get a pancake!

David’s favorite brunch item is benedict, and Red Feather excelled at making this as well. Tangy, creamy hollandaise, tasty savory-sweet ham and nicely poached eggs rested atop an english muffin, with a side of crispy breakfast potatoes, also delicious.



Which brings us to the croque madame. I added an egg to the croque monsieur on the menu, turning the sandwich into its similar counterpart.

That's no moon

The bread for the sandwich was a nice eggy brioche, which I liked, though the slices were pretty thick. The gruyere used was excellent, as was the ham. In my opinion, the only improvement to this sandwich would be serving it with something a little sweeter to balance out the ham and gruyere. I’d advocate for a spicy raspberry jam.


To cap off our brunch, I asked about a cocktail I had seen previously, the firefly. David is familiar with my penchant for drinks that are lit on fire, so he wisely did not protest when I ordered it.


When I mentioned it to our server, his response that “I think I can make that happen” make me do a little happy dance (which was really more of a wiggle as I was full of pancakes at that point) in my chair.

The firefly is prepped with a liquor soaked orange which is lit on fire, and then sugar and spices are dusted over the orange to create little sparks. I’m sure it’s more impressive at night time, but I would order this again--the combo of toasted spices, cinnamon and orange reminded me of fall.

So much better than the pumpkin spice latte 85% of the public at large seems to lose their minds about

We’ll definitely be back to Red Feather. Word’s out about the brunch and it was consistently busy while we were there, so I’d recommend a reservation if you have a large group.

Red Feather Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato