Thursday, January 3, 2013

Boca Cafe

A new place called Boca Cafe opened last month in the College Hill area, across from the Burger Stand. When I first walked in, what caught my eye was the local art on the wall and the cheese grater lamps hanging form the ceiling. There are various tables and chairs and booths around the room with a counter to order at.  The menu consists of artisanal sandwiches and salads, a soup of the day and three vegetarian options. There are also breakfast menu items available as well. Although it may seem simple the menu items each have a special twist and tons of flavor.
            The first salad I tried was called the Drunken salad with marinated tomatoes, sliced artichokes and brandy-soaked mozzarella tossed in mixed greens. The dressing is a simple balsamic vinaigrette that compliments the ingredients nicely. The sun-dried tomatoes seem to be made on-site as well as the croutons that are made out of their focaccia bread.  I like their croutons because they aren’t hard like pre-bought croutons. They are crispy on the outside and spongy on the inside and soak up the dressing just enough so they aren’t soggy, and at the same time, they aren’t so crispy they cut your mouth. It’s called the drunken salad because the mozzarella is soaked in E&J brandy and when eating the salad the taste of brandy is there, but not overpowering, either.
For lunch, the salad came with a small cup of their soup of the day. That day, (and the second day I came back, actually,) it was tomato-basil. It was thick and bright red, with a hint of basil. I was impressed with the soup and salad so I decided to come back for more.
            I am very happy I decided to come back. On my second visit, I ordered the special of the day, a Monte Cristo sandwich. This sandwich had sauerkraut, which I personally don’t like but kept it on there, smoked turkey and provolone cheese. I also chose to have it made on focaccia bread – if you don’t like focaccia bread, they have several kinds to choose from. The best part is the raspberry jam, spread on the bread, but I also like to have it on the side for dipping. I ended up liking the combination with the sauerkraut so I am glad I forgot to ask for none – some things are just meant to be, and I really think the sauerkraut is one of those things. It pairs nicely with the sweetness of the raspberry jam and the smokiness of the turkey. No one flavor overpowered the other, they blended well together to make a perfectly balanced sandwich.
            The other sandwiches offered include a Cuban sandwich, which consists of pork, mustard, sweet pickles and provolone cheese; the B.L.A.T., which is like a BLT only with avocado, herb aioli, lettuce, tomato and a choice of prosciutto or bacon; and the Affamato with smoked ham, salami, pepperoni, mozzarella and sun-dried tomato marinara. For sides the café offers the soup of the day, rice chips, chickpea chips or a salad. There are many other choices on the menu than what are listed here and in the next week there will be a breakfast menu featuring waffles and waffle sandwiches. Also, in six months, the menu will be changed completely.
            I highly recommend checking this place out. My husband and I really enjoyed this place and plan to go back many times in the future. I want to return and try their waffles and other breakfast items because I hear they are just as amazing as the rest of the food.

Ok, so the address is 1414 SW 16th Street, here in Topeka. I can't get the Google map to generate the correct map. In the future when it works, I will post it. And here's their Facebook page:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Red Red Robin

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I finally ate at Red Robin. I think there’s been one in Topeka for at least six years but I never had a reason to try it out. My sister gave my husband and I a gift card for Christmas so we couldn’t let that go to waste.
            Upon entering, the restaurant looked like a sit-down restaurant and was decorated in an American-like theme – sort of like a fancy drive-thru. I didn’t notice any particular theme in the décor, some were photos of classic American movies and next to where we sat was a life-size carousel horse, which I thought was creepy. The servers were friendly and I enjoyed their prompt service.
            We started off with an appetizer, of course, the Game Day Nachos. I thought the Towering Onion Rings looked pretty cool because they stack them up to look like a tower, clever, but I didn’t want a fried appetizer on top of a greasy burger and fries – good ole’ Weight Watchers. Anyway, that came pretty fast and with a whole heaping gob of guacamole on the top, which was much appreciated. The nachos come with hamburger queso, black beans, pico da gallo, cilantro, sour cream and fresh jalepenos all on tri-colored tortilla chips. This was pretty tasty and the guacamole was zesty and the perfect touch.
            The burgers came next. I decided to order something other than the plain cheeseburger this time and went for one with more avocado because I love it so much. So I of course ordered the Guacamole Bacon Burger with fries and my husband ordered the Burnin’ Love Burger, both cooked medium. The menu actually has a lot more to offer than just burger, as I originally thought the case. They have an entrée section, which I only glanced at, it includes seafood options like fish and chips and a chicken pasta. There is a section of chicken sandwiches, salads and wraps. You can check out their menu on their website, There you can see a huge photo of the burger or entrée and get a full description.
            The burger I got was cooked medium like I asked for and had more of the guac on it that I enjoyed in my appetizer, so that was cool. I took off some of the bacon because I am trying to eat healthier than I used to, but I left about half of it on there. It also had melted Swiss cheese, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise. It was a little messy but I didn’t mind because it was so good. The only thing that would have been better is if I wasn’t on a diet and could have gotten refills on my steak fries. That’s another cool thing – if you order a burger you get bottomless steak fries with your meal. It wasn’t a big deal for me because I don’t really like steak fries, and these ones were ok because they weren’t huge like some. These were pretty small so the inside wasn’t so fluffy, I don’t really like that, I prefer crispy French fries.
            At that point I was incredibly full and ready for the check but they do have a good selection of shakes, smoothies and desserts. The one dessert that stood out to me was the Mile-High Mud Pie which looks like it could be shared with two to three people and gets its name from the fact that it’s so tall. You can go look at their menu and they have photos uploaded from guests who’ve taken photos with their smart phones.  
            Overall I was happy with my experience at Red Robin, but I think I would rather go to Burger Stand if I had to choose between the two. There wasn’t anything memorable or that stood out about Red Robin, at least not to me. It seemed like just another chain restaurant and will probably not be going back soon.