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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Swampwater Grill:




I nibbled away at the jalapeno popper with as much dignity as I could manage. After the first few bites, the pepper's heat had gone from tingly to exhilarating to whoops-maybe-I-chose-poorly.



I looked over at David, happily munching away on his popper and made a face at him. "What?" he asked incredulously when he saw my reluctance to take another bite of an otherwise delicious bacon wrapped, fried, cheese and chorizo stuffed pepper. "They’re not that spicy!"

I handed my popper over to David as proof. Still doubting, he took a large bite. I sat back, and waited.

"Oooohhhhh no. Ow. Ow. Ow. You got a hot one!"

Vindicated, I leaned forward to take a big drink of my swamp juice cocktail. "Told you so."

As anyone who's eaten their share of jalapenos knows, spicy levels can vary from pepper to pepper. A bunch of peppers may look the same, but one of them is sitting there, just waiting to go all Leeroy Jenkins on your taste buds.

Alright, time's up, let's do this

So we were off to a spicy start for our meal at Swampwater grill. No one seems to know where this place is right off the bat, but when we describe the location ("know where the school is on stilts past the Precinct? Turn left.") people seem to figure it out.

The inside of the restaurant is pretty spacious, though a little dark. The draft list is on the small side, but sports some solid brews, which are served in mason jars.


I opted for a cocktail called “Swamp Juice.” When I ordered it, our server looked at me and asked me one question. "Do you like rum?" To my answer in the affirmative, she replied, "good, because it's mostly rum."

Mostly Rum: Truth

Swamp juice is neon green and you get to keep the cup, both of which are the kind of kitschy things that I love. It indeed had a lot of rum. If you go to Swampwater, get the swamp juice and be prepared for a nap when you get home.

We ordered a variety of other things. Ribs and pulled pork (this was the child's size pulled pork sandwich), etouffee, red beans and rice, a fried oyster po boy, the poppers mentioned earlier, and grits. We also tried a small side of jambalaya.




Jambalaya

We enjoyed pretty much everything, but we had our preferences. We liked the red beans and rice over the etouffee. The oyster po boy was excellent.


meh-touffe

The ribs and pulled pork were alright, but it's tough when you're competing with Eli's BBQ just down the road. It's a high standard to beat. Swampwater’s grits, however, were some of the best we'd had. The jambalaya was my favorite of all of the sides.


There are weekly specials at Swampwater, from crawfish pies (which they were sadly out of) to smoked prime rib, that we’ll be back to try soon. I’ll just make sure to exercise caution with those poppers then next time we’re in.

SwampWater Grill & Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato