Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This edition of “Excited about Eating” takes us to the downtown district of Indianapolis, Indiana. Downtown Indianapolis is more modern than we expected, with professional sports teams, hotels in all price ranges, and restaurants featuring almost every cuisine. We chose three of our best experiences to be included in this edition. Dora here. Want to know the coolest part of Indy? An intricate maze of sky bridges and walkways that allowed us to wander through downtown without ever having to brave the wind and 30 degree temps! And, for Pete’s sake, there’s a four-story mall!
Our first evening we visited Rock Bottom. During our visit, a fire department instructors conference was taking place at the convention center so the restaurant was decked out in fire department paraphernalia.
Dora here. Imagine that. Isn’t that why we were in Indy? Lol. Even bursting with fire personnel, we didn’t wait long for a table, and our server was friendly and knowledgeable, even recommended a couple spots for ice cream later.
I chose the Chipotle Brisket Barbacoa Pizza with honey chipotle BBQ sauce, mozzarella and asiago cheeses, beef brisket and pineapple salsa.  The pizza was outstanding, and the sweet pineapple salsa took this dish to a new level. 
Chipotle Brisket Barbacoa Pizza

Dora here. I stole a piece of hubby’s pizza, and I totally agree! I opted for their famous Classic Mac’n Chicken, creamy spiral macaroni and cheese loaded with chunks of chicken and chased with a bit of a kick from Tabasco and Paprika. Awesome, and just the right portion size for me. Some of the best Mac’n cheese we’ve ever tasted. 

Classic Mac’n Chicken

 I would rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant that serves outstanding food.

Rock Bottom Brewery on Urbanspoon

For another dinner, we dined at Weber Grill, the first location outside of the metro Chicago area. One thing that makes this restaurant unique is that all cooking is done over authentic giant Weber Charcoal grills.
Weber Grill

Since there was so much on the menu that we wanted to try, we chose the three meat BBQ Combo with Hickory BBQ Ribs, Beef Brisket, and Black Angus Meatloaf served with a sweet and tangy Hickory BBQ sauce, Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Mac N’ Cheese. The ribs were BBQ competition quality, tender but not fall-off-the-bone. The brisket was tender and had deep smoke favor, and the meatloaf was smoky with great texture. The sides were equally good; the mashed potatoes full of favor and the mac n’ cheese firm and cheesy. Dora here. Only one word: yum!
I would rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

Weber Grill Restaurant on Urbanspoon

We’d read good things about Pearl Street Pizzeria in the Warehouse District and couldn’t wait to try it. This locally owned back-alley restaurant is in the heart of downtown and just a couple of blocks from Monument Circle, Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium.
Pearl Street Pizzeria
For dinner, we shared a twelve inch deep dish pizza, meatlovers on half with sausage, pepperoni, bacon, ham and mozzarella, and just pepperoni on the other half. This pizza would stand up to any deep dish pizza we have eaten in Chicago. The meatlovers side was full of meat and the entire pizza had just the right amount of cheese and sauce. The crust was firm and the pizza was not greasy. So tempting, we dug into it before taking a picture. Sorry. 

Dora here. Not a fan of real saucy pizzas or thin crusts, so whenever I can talk Ernie into deep dish, I’m all over it and this pizza was perfect! Just the way I love my pizza. Heads up, though. The place is small, and it was jammed and really loud. Get there early if you don’t want to wait to sit or order one to go. 🙂 

I would rate this restaurant 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

Pearl Street Pizza & Pub on Urbanspoon

Excited about Eating by Ernie Hiers

This adventure of Excited about Eating takes us to the Midwood area of Charlotte to Midwood Smokehouse. This restaurant is tucked into the edge of a building, but it’s bigger than it looks.

A Friday lunch was a 10 minute wait, but it probably took that long to snag a parking spot. Although the restaurant was jammed, service was attentive and prompt.

For starters we ordered the Fried Pickles, unique, in that they were sliced length-wise. They were coated in a spicy batter, crispy like I prefer, but I would’ve enjoyed them more with half the salt.

Fried Pickles

Since we expected to eat a hefty dinner that night, we shared the BBQ combo which included four meats: pork ribs, sausage, brisket (lean, fatty, combo), and chopped pork. We chose mac and cheese and creamed corn for the two sides.

The combo plate came with three dipping sauces: Midwood Signature (sweet, with just a hint of tang) for the ribs and brisket, Eastern NC Vinegar for the chopped pork, and South Carolina (spicy) Mustard for the sausage. The ribs had a wonderful smoky flavor and fall-off-the-bone meaty goodness, the star of the meats. Dora here, in blue. The ribs were finger-licking great, but Ernie’s home-smoked ribs are still better. 🙂

The sausage ranked second, mild with just the right amount of kick. I especially liked the dark bark in both the chopped pork and brisket. Ditto for Dora. And the corn had a firm consistency, not soft or mushy. The spiral pasta had a deep cheesy flavor, but it could’ve been a tad warmer for my liking.

I would rate this establishment 5 forks out of 5 for a family friendly restaurant serving outstanding food.

What’s your favorite BBQ spot around Charlotte?

Midwood Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Middle-of-the-line or Go-for-the-gusto? Which Will It Be?

So back in November, we spent a good chunk of change covering our deck. If you’d like to see the entire process, I blogged about it here.

This is what we started with

Nice, huh? I loved the view, but basically, the space was unusable in summer. We couldn’t sit out there without the sun baking us to death. So hubby and I finally decided to cover the deck, opting for a partial cover and no screening. Neither one of us wanted to venture out in twenty degrees to open the screen door for Bruiser to go outside. Brrr! After this frigid winter, I’m so glad we chose not to screen it in.

Here’s the deck with the new cover

Super sweet, right? 

In case you didn’t know, late fall isn’t necessarily the best time to remodel a deck. By the time the construction was complete, plastic Santa Claus’s, artificial Christmas trees, and twinkling lights had swooped in to replace the patio furniture in the home improvement stores. So much for finishing our deck.

Now that spring is almost here and warmer temperatures are teetering, we just ordered new patio furniture. I can hardly wait to spruce up our sparse deck. But, alas, we have a dilemma, one I hope you’ll weigh in on.

The last task is to replace our tired old grill. Although it was a hand-me-down from our parents (their house came with a snazzy built-in grill), it was an expensive grill. Over several years, we’ve replaced various parts and what not, but it’s time to buy a new one. 

When it comes to major purchases, I believe in two philosophies: one, buy cheap and replace more frequently. Or two, buy expensive and keep it longer. In most instances, both hubby and I hang out together in the first category~buy cheap and replace more often. But this grill purchase has us wavering. 

It takes us awhile to reach the buy stage, so we went looking last weekend. Last year’s middle-of-the-line model was marked $30 off, but rust was already evident on the rack. Really? After only a year? I don’t know how you feel about plunking down hard-earned cash for something that already has rust on it, but I find it extremely difficult to swallow. At this point, I don’t even care to pay $30 more for this year’s model. The reviews validate this. 

I have a hunch which way we’ll choose, but what would you do? 
Buy a middle-of-the-line grill and expect to replace it after a couple of years? Or go for the gusto, pay a couple hundred more, and hope it weathers better than the mid-priced grill?

And don’t even get me started on the grill covers…