Jul 27, 2016

A commoner dines (repeatedly) at Corky and Lenny’s Restaurant and Deli, Beachwood, Ohio

There are simply some dining experiences that are hard to find when you live in the heartland.  A classic Jewish delicatessan like Corky and Lenny’s Restaurant and Deli is one of them.

Before I headed to Cleveland earlier this year on a work assignment, I was determined to visit a “real” Jewish deli while I was there.  I knew Cleveland’s reputation for great deli food -- most notably Slyman’s Restaurant closer to downtown.  But I was staying out in the eastern suburbs of Greater Cleveland, and Corky and Lenny’s just happened to be nearby.  I tried it, and once I did, I felt like I didn’t need to go anywhere else.  In fact, I became a “repeat customer” throughout my time working in Cleveland.

I’ve struggled with how to present the greatness that is Corky and Lenny’s, but I think the best way may be to simply let the pictures do the talking … as amateurish as the photography may be.

Jul 20, 2016

A commoner dines at Starnes Barbecue, Paducah, Ky.

A lot of barbecue aficionados probably wouldn’t consider the Western Kentucky and Southern Illinois region of the United States as an area worthy of comparison to, say, the Carolina or Memphis barbecue styles.  But then again, they may not know what they’re missing.

Case in point:  Starnes Barbecue, a rather ordinary looking, mint green colored diner just outside of downtown Paducah, Ky., where U.S. 60 and U.S. 45 meet.

Jul 13, 2016

Diving into a slinger at the Eat Rite Diner, St. Louis

When it comes to places known for cheap comfort food, you have your diners, you have your greasy spoons, and then you have those places that, lovingly, look like a constant health code violation. As a supreme compliment, I’d qualify Eat Rite Diner among the latter in appearance. 

It really is quite charming from the road.
To be completely fair and transparent, though, despite its worn-around-the-edges appearance both inside and out, Eat Rite consistently gets “A” ratings on its health inspections. 

Still, while others may still look at a place like Eat Rite with trepidation to test their taste buds, if you’re like me, you can’t wait for the opportunity to try it out.  That opportunity had eluded me until last fall when I convinced Punky to go there for breakfast during one of our weekend trips to St. Louis.  The fact that their entire menu is available 24 hours a day helped seal the deal … sometimes after a night of fun you just want a cheeseburger.      

See?  Simply charming.

Jul 7, 2016

Things discussed at The Round Bar

As shocking as it may seem to my few faithful followers, more than a year has passed since I posted my last list of completely random topics discussed at the favorite watering hole for me and my friends.  A lot has changed since then.  The venerable Brewhaus has new owners, a new stage area, a “new” upstairs and a new makeshift bar expansion.  All of that, combined with an almost complete turnover in staff, and slowly the Brewhaus felt less and less like home. 

Thankfully, my friends and I all discovered George Rank’s.  Home away from home is now a little south of downtown Springfield, but we don’t mind.  The little round bar at the corner of 6th and Laurel is a little worn around the edges, the air conditioning can get overworked, the beer garden is little more than a fenced-in section of the parking lot and a port-a-potty, and occasionally an unwanted sewer smell from the basement surprises us all, but we love it all the same.  The owners, the staff and the clientele all feel like one big extended family.  It’s why Punky and I chose Ranks to host our wedding reception.

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...