Wrought Iron Grill- Father’s Day the Sequel

For Father’s Day 2009, Chris and I took my dad to the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso at which time I wrote a review and indicated we would certainly go back. And we did, this year for Father’s Day. Despite intentions, driving between Flint and Lansing scads of times, we never made it back in between. I went back to look at my review from ’09 and am sorely tempted to just re-use most of it. We ordered different things but the similarities were striking. Excerpts from 2009 are quote boxes.

We had a number of adventures this past weekend starting with a brief jaunt to Ft. Wayne for storm-chasing on Friday night. The night ended with me driving home through that horrible downpour/second great flood/electrical storm south of Lansing. Fun times!

In 2010, we had some adventures starting with a storm encounter on Friday night. This time, though, we went to Kalamazoo for pizza, stix with dill dip a wee bit o’ college flashback (for me) at Bilbo’s Pizza. Just as we arrived in K-zoo, a fierce storm came through with driving winds and flooding rains. After dinner, we drove around town a bit, tried to go to a movie and toured the storm damage that involved power outages and trees down. Fortunately, I was not behind the wheel for the drive back to Lansing. Even more fortunately, the worst of the storms were well ahead of us and missed our house. We did take a little wind damage to our tomato plants but no power was lost.

No particular adventures on Saturday this year, we spent our time figuring out how to make best use of some special Meijer coupons to buy a new tent, air mattress for camping and fire pit grill/grate. And I made those turkey meatballs…

On to Sunday:

My parents live in Flushing, just west of Flint. We live on the west side of Lansing. I didn’t really expect my dad to drive all the way to Lansing nor did I really want to drive all the way in to Flint considering I also had a paper to finish write from scratch for class, due before bedtime. …We arrived before my dad and, following the behest of our GPS, drove right past the place and around the block to come in from the side. The restaurant is located in an old factory building/warehouse and is surrounded by several other buildings of the same variety. This area is right near the train tracks and across from the grain co-op, apparently the commercial-industrial center of Owosso, in its heyday. We parked along the side and noticed the adjacent building is the (former?) home of the Owosso Casket Company.

No GPS to guide us this year but there is a detour so we had to go around via a few side streets and ended up coming in the same way. It looks pretty much the same as last year.

After a little confusion because the hostess wasn’t listening when we said we’d like to sit outside, we grabbed a table on the porch/patio. … The al fresco dining was perfect. The patio faces east so we didn’t have to worry about baking in the sun and it was neither too hot nor too humid.

We ate outside again. Earlier in the week, in discussing the plan with Chris, he said we should go later to avoid the sun and I said something along the lines of ‘doesn’t the patio face East?’ Guess I should have checked my own blog! The confusion came this year in that the server who told us it was okay to just pick a seat outside apparently failed to tell any other staff of our presence but a waitress did come by a minute or so later. Last year we got the mediciettes as an appetizer which were only okay in my opinion so this year I suggested the Lobster, Spinach and Artichoke Dip. We put that order in then made decisions on our entrees.

After our appetizer, we finally ordered our entrees. I went with the Seafood Risotto, Chris ordered the Wrought Iron Pizza and my dad had the salmon “burger.” … Its not uncommon for Chris to change his mind right when the server shows up to take orders so this could be significant.

In the interest of trying something new this year and not particularly feeling the pasta special, I decided to order the Duck & Wild Mushroom Pizza. Chris opted for the Pork Tenderloin: bacon wrapped and served with a Michigan cherry-jalapeno sauce, sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetable. Dad got the salmon burger again. He was pretty sure that he’d gone for the salmon entrée last year but now we know. I also ordered a glass of Starry Night Zinfandel.

I’ve never had this label before, I don’t know how since Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists and the name alone should have been enough to suck me in.

The Food

Right after we submitted our entrée orders, the appetizer came out. It was not at all what any of us were expecting. Dip implies that upon dunking the chip/vegetable/cracker/bread/finger in the container, something will stick. This Lobster, Spinach and Artichoke Dip did not stick. It was almost dry with very little cheese. We actually asked if this was normal and apparently it is. I don’t expect a cheese bonanza since I’m paying for lobster, spinach and artichokes too but you can go too far or in this case, not go far enough. That’s two poorly received appetizers in two visits for those of you keeping score at home.

About this time is also when the waitress returned to inform me that the kitchen was out of duck. And you can’t have Duck & Wild Mushroom Pizza without duck! She recommended the Wrought Iron Pizza instead but that didn’t really grab me. I vacillated between the Ahi tuna burger and the Seafood Risotto before I realized that there were actually two pork dishes so I ordered Berkshire Pork Chop with creamed leeks and roasted red skin potatoes. Despite the delay in having to re-order, the main dishes came out pretty quickly. The lack of fries with the burgers noted last year hasn’t changed but it was even more noticeable this time because my plate was half potatoes! Strange. I could not possibly eat all the potatoes and I love the starches. I opted to eat the ones with the crunchiest crusts. Tasty. The other half of the plate was dedicated to the pork chop on a bed of creamed leeks with brandied apples.

Brandied apples- reminds me that we have that apple brandy from Uncle John’s and I should use some more of it.

My dish was very good overall with the pork in particular being cooked well so as to remain juicy throughout.

I could tell right away that Chris was going to be somewhat disappointed in his dish. When I said seasonal vegetable up top, I bet you presumed asparagus. It is mid-June in Michigan after all; can’t get much more seasonal than that! But, no. The vegetable serving was skimpy and consisted of what appeared to be over-cooked steamed California Blend (cauliflower, broccoli, carrots and maybe onions). His pork was good although perhaps a touch dry on the end and he also enjoyed the cherry sauce. Later, he indicated that the sweet potatoes were not great either but was not specific on the issue. Today, I was checking something on the website and noticed a picture gallery that included several menu items. Although I can’t be 100% positive, the very first dish in the gallery appears to be what Chris ordered. Except it didn’t look anything like that dish aside from sweet potatoes on one end, vegetable on the other and pork in the middle.

On a follow-up call with my dad, he mentioned that he remembered the salmon differently the previous year. We think perhaps last year they served a fillet while this year was more like a burger, ground salmon formed in to a patty. Kind of implies pre-made, eh?

I didn’t order the risotto this year but let’s return to 2009, just because it’s risotto.

I love risotto. I still reminisce over the risotto at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham (MI) which I had at the wedding of my now ex-boyfriend’s sister six years ago. Good stuff. I make it a lot at home, look through the archives here and you’ll find the recipe for the mushroom version we like best.

I will be making risotto tonight. Its phase II in a reverse engineering project to re-create something Chris picked up last week.

The wrap-up

In 2009 I said we would have to go back to the Wrought Iron Grill soon because the waitress told us the menu changes seasonally. Of course, we don’t know how since we went again at the exact same time of year! I do have some additional motivation to return before June 2011 in that we purchased 2 gift certificates from Restaurant.com during a big May sale. We used one on Sunday to save $25 off the bill. One thing about these GCs: in some, the fine print indicates that an 18% gratuity will be automatically added on. The waitress was careful to point it out which I appreciated. That is within my normal range of tipping for restaurants of this type. I will say that slightly friendlier service would have probably earned her 20%. Not that the service was bad but I got the distinct feeling that she was slightly irritated to have to wait on us up until and through closing time. Also, she never came back after delivering the credit card receipt and I still had ½ glass of wine left.

My wine was good enough that I ordered a second glass.

It’s a pet peeve of mine, when waitstaff don’t return to fill water or non-alcoholic beverages after the bill’s been paid. We were not keeping anyone from going home as a table of diners arrived about 15 minutes before closing and it was only a few minutes past 8 when we settled the bill.

For this night, it was just nice to have a good meal and let Chris and my dad get to know each other better

Ditto again. This time we talked about my dad’s newly started consulting business and tried to figure out how we could all have a four-hour work week (google it).


After dinner, Chris decided he wanted to find a Twisty Treat type of place with his first choice being a Dairy Queen. DQ is top priority because of Warren Buffett*. Thanks to the handy-dandy Droid phone, I determined that the nearest DQ was not too close but by this time we had detoured to check out the local airport which actually appears to be quite popular with the single-engine guys. Airport-related detours are quite common in our life. I indulge it and sometimes even surprise him with directions that just ‘happen’ to go by an airfield; the gazetteer maps are awesome for this. Anyhow, after the airport drive-thru we used the phone, again, to find a local ice cream store. He got a twist dipped in chocolate and I had cookie-dough ice cream on a sugar cone. As per usual with these places, the child-size was a full scoop plus which means the single is really a double, etc. Good price though at less than $5 for both.

Details

Wrought Iron Grill Website with Menu
317 Elm Street Owosso, Mi 48867 989-472-9025
HOURS: Mon – closed Tu-Th 11a-10p Fr-Sa 11a-12a Sun-12n-8p


*Chris deeply admires Warren Buffett and he’s been studying up on his investment theories. He also points out every time we pass a company owned by Berkshire-Hathaway among other things. I would be willing to trade unlimited Dairy Queen runs in return for denying a regular request to name any of our (future) children Warren or Buffett** or Charlie or any other related name.

**Actually I may be willing to use Buffett as a middle name. Most people would probably assume we meant Jimmy since Chris is from the Florida Keys. But I fear they would pronounce it buffet and wonder what sort of freak, food blogger not withstanding, names her kid after a type of meal. This would only be a question in the minds of people who don’t know me well though. My foodie friends would be perfectly understanding if I named a child Wusthof or Forschner or ahem, Alton. Right?

Pork with Roasted Tomato Salsa

Basically, this recipe from Steamy Kitchen.

Differences, based on what I had handy:

2 butterflied boneless pork pieces (loin? chop? I forget) and spicy brown mustard instead of Dijon. One Roma and 3 Campari tomatoes (which are smaller than Romas). Added 1/2 cup of corn to the salsa.

Differences, because I was too lazy to go look at the recipe*:

My salsa was tomatoes, corn, 2 green onions (white parts and small bit of green) basil, salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne. I cooked the tomatoes in a saute pan with a bit of olive oil and garlic then took the tomatoes out and added the corn (which was cooked on the cob then cut off earlier in the week) to get a little garlic infusion.


We ate this with whole wheat rolls and some fingerling potatoes (not pictured/ leftovers). It was quite tasty, even if I missed half the ingredients in the salsa.

*This, if anything, would justify having an iPad. Why? Because my laptop is a 17 inch wide-screen monster. With an iPad, I could just slip it behind a plastic cookbook cover (for protection) and conserve counter space but actually follow the recipe.

Maple-Dijon Chicken and a bit of Buttermilk Chicken too

I don’t really have a recipe, per se, for this dish. And I don’t have any pictures because I was too tired to go get my camera and take pictures.

Maple-Dijon Glaze

 

Ingredients

chopped garlic
chopped shallots
dijon-type mustard (we used Grey Poupon)
real maple syrup
honey
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
olive oil

  

Directions

Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a small saucepan. Heat over medium. Add approximately 1 1/2-2 cloves chopped garlic and 1 chopped shallot (I used both from jars last night). Cook 60 seconds or so, until fragrant. Add 2-3 tablespoons of dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Whisk to combine. Add 1 cup broth and a 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of honey (optional- depends on your maple syrup). Bring to a boil and reduce to the thickness of your choice. 

 I can not stress enough how easy and versatile this one is!! Last night, I made this as a thin glaze. You could keep cooking it down to a thicker sauce. You could also make it a basting sauce for baking or grilling. I used it on sauteed chicken (seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper and Italian spices) and onions but you could also make this for pork or shellfish. I don’t think its strong enough to stand up to beef but it would also work on some fish, especially salmon.


Buttermilk Chicken

We have a new go-to in our house. The buttermilk marinated chicken from last week has made repeat appearances and even received rave reviews from outsiders.

Over the weekend we went up to St. Helen for some campfire action with some friends. Chris went out four-wheeling with the guys. He returned covered in dust and keenly aware of some muscles he didn’t even know he had. I went shopping at the outlet mall in West Branch and returned with new-found appreciation of the messenger bag-style purse I bought in Puerto Rico. (note: did not intend to shop like that but we had to go in to town for internet access so I could post my homework- all in the name of good grades!)

Before we left on Friday, I tossed a few things in a cooler that I knew we’d need to use up. One of those things was the remaining jug of buttermilk. I also mixed up the spices and salt in a plastic bag, guessing on amounts since I didn’t think I needed to be precise. Saturday morning, I mixed the marinade up and marinated the chicken from 11 AM to 7:30 PM. Here is what I have discovered: you can do this marinade for 30 minutes or 30 hours (or even 48 hours) and it will still come out perfect! No panko crumbs to be found at the West Branch Wally World so I used some Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the cupboard at the trouse (combo trailer-house, use your imagination). As a result, the breading was a little saltier than I prefer but everyone else loved it.

Top Ten Ever List Item

According to Chris, I “hit this one out of the park.” And its “on the top ten ever list.” And I “can make this again later this week.”

What did I make?

Just some pork n’ potatoes.

I used this potato recipe from Simply Recipes but with a few modifications:

Ingredients

* 3 Slices of thick style bacon
* 1/2 pound new purple potatoes sliced in half and then in small wedges
* 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
* 4 medium sized shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
* Olive oil
* Kosher Salt
* Freshly cracked pepper
* 1 pinch red pepper flakes
* 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
* 1 tablespoon chopped capers
* 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Method

1 In a small sauté pan heat one tablespoon of olive oil over a low heat. Add the sliced onions in one even layer, after five minutes add 1/2 tablespoon of butter, stir and add a pinch of kosher salt. While rendering your bacon and cooking your mushrooms in the next steps, make sure to stir the onions every few minutes and remove once they are evenly browned. This should take around 30 minutes, remove from heat when finished and reserve.

2 While the onions are slowly cooking slice the bacon in small batonettes (1/8-inch crosswise strips) on your cutting board. Heat up a larger sauté pan on medium and when your pan is hot add the sliced bacon. Slowly sauté the bacon until slightly crispy and remove from the pan on to a paper towel-lined plate, reserve for later.

3 Julienne the shiitake mushrooms and then add them to the pan which now has the rendered bacon fat. Add a pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper to the Shitake mushrooms, don’t shake the pan but let the mushrooms brown evenly on one side. Once browned, flip the mushrooms delicately and remove from pan onto a smaller plate, reserve.

My changes:

Used red skin potatoes instead of purple.

Used regular bacon instead of thick-cut (honestly, I think that thick-cut would have been better but at minimum, get decent center-cut bacon. More meat and less fat).

Used a 4 oz package of shiitake mushrooms which may or may not be equivalent to the original.

Used 1 tsp dried tarragon instead of fresh. Added the tarragon to the potatoes after the first flip during browning. Left out the capers as we don’t have any. For fresh green color, I tossed a little roughly chopped parsley (curly) on just before serving.


Pan-fried Pork with White Wine-Tarragon sauce:

Ingredients

2 medium-thick boneless pork chops or similar
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs seasoned with Italian seasonings
1/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend with parmesan)
1/4 cup Chardonnay
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 scant tablespoon Creole mustard (or other grainy-type)
up to 2 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper
olive oil

Directions

1. Combine bread crumbs and cheese in a shallow dish or plate. In second dish/plate, break the egg and whisk lightly to combine yolk and white. Season pork with salt & pepper, both sides.

2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in large skillet. When heated, dredge pork in egg then in bread crumb mixture. You can pat the bread crumbs on for better stick, if necessary.

3. Saute pork 3-4 minutes per side, until nicely browned and cooked through. Remove to plate, cover and keep warm.

4. Bring heat up to medium-high and add wine to pan, deglazing for any bits on the bottom. Add vegetable broth, tarragon and mustard. Bring to a boil.

5. Boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to just above low, add cold butter. Start with 1 tablespoon. Melt in to sauce then add second tablespoon if thicker sauce is desired.

Pork n’ Potatoes

Inspiration recipe: Baked Pork Chops at All Recipes.

Ingredients

2 Thick cut boneless pork chops
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
salt & pepper
garlic seasoning
1/4 cup flour
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 tblsp butter, divided
1/8 cup heavy cream

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°.  Put the flour on one plate and the bread crumbs on another.  Place a bowl with the beaten egg in the middle of the two places.

To prepare the pork chops, season with salt, pepper and garlic seasoning.  Dredge in flour then egg then dip in bread crumbs.  Heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat.  Add the pork chops to the pan, turning once, until the bread crumbs are browned (about 5-7 minutes total).

Transfer the pork chops to a baking dish, cover with foil and place in the oven.  Cook 15-20 minutes or until pork chops reach internal temperature of 155°. Remove from oven and let rest about five minutes before serving.

Add 1/2 tbsp butter to the pan you browned the pork in then add the mushrooms. Saute mushrooms for 5-7 minutes then add chicken broth.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low. Simmer until the pork is done. While the pork is resting, stir in the cream and 1/2 tbsp butter to thicken the sauce.

Notes

Temperature: The inspiration recipe used a temperature of 350. I used 400 because I was making Sweet Potato Fries (frozen) and that was the required oven setting.  350 is probably a better temperature as I really needed to watch the pork to avoid overcooking (not totally successful, good thing that sauce was creamy!).

Served with the aforementioned sweet potato fries and some mixed rice (Uncle Ben’s fast cook).