The Shil-Shul Diaries

The story begins in a cramped booth at the "faux" New York deli 'Noshville' in Nashville TN on a blustry day after thanksgiving November Friday day in 2008. In between my wife, Rachel, and my brother, Michael, I sat across from my "cooler than me" cousins Mark and Sarah, and Sarah's just as cool husband, Danny. Mark, who lives the awesome life being a lawyer living in San Francisco working for Facebook, with his only downfall being his SEVERE lactardation..which has never been medically or scientifically proven to exist in Mark.. Sarah and Danny are foodies from NYC who have tried every dive "chicken finger" hut and "curry on a stick" in the big city. Danny and Sarah had discussed that they were trying to go to as many places from Bobby Flay's 'Throwdown' show as they could, and that there was one in Nashville we had to try.....a place that I had never heard of in my 13 years of living there..I will get to that adventure later.

I got an idea from my cool cousins idea. An idea became a hobby. And the hobby became an obsession. And thus produced the list.....a world-famous spreadsheet...of every restaurant that has ever been featured on Food Network and Travel Channel....every restaurant from the famous shows like "Throwdown", "Man V. Food", "Man v. Food Nation", "Food Feuds", "Food Wars", "Best Thing I Ever Ate", and "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives" to the obscure "Best Food Ever", "Meat and Potatoes", and "101 Best Places to Chowdown", plus my additions of the restaurants of famous chefs and local places of legend. Names, cities, food they are famous for, and addresses. It was and still is an obsession. As of 9:24am on January 7th, 2015, THE LIST HAS 3,116 RESTAURANTS ON IT...WITH A FEW OVERLAPS HERE AND THERE. And then over Pastrami Eggs Benedict at Nate N' Al's Deli in Beverly Hills, Hannah and Andrew, our good friends, gave me the idea of the blog. Document every place I went. And thus, "The Shil-Shul Diaries" was born. I will log the places, the shows they are from, and what I had. So far, every place I have been has been amazing, except two, one being mediocre, and another being down right awful.

If there is a city you have been to, or are going to, or are from and want to know what from my list is in the city, send me a email at shilshuldiaries@gmail.com

Monday, January 26, 2015

HOMINY GRILL








207 Rutledge Ave, Charleston, SC 29403

FROM BEST SOUTHERN FOOD IN AMERICA, MAN VS. FOOD, BEST THING I EVER ATE, #86 ON BEST PLACES TO CHOWDOWN, FOOD PARADISE

THIS PLACE SCREAMED AND TOPPED MY CULINARY BUCKET LIST AND FOR A DAMN GOOD REASON.  WHEN MY FRIEND ASKED WHAT I WANTED TO DO IN CHARLESTON, HOMINY WAS IT.  ANYTHING ELSE WE DID WAS JUST DESSERT, SWEET AND WONDERFUL, BUT HOMINY GRILL WAS THE APPETIZER AND MAIN COURSE OF MY VISIT.

THIS PLACE WAS A MUST FOR ME!  LOOK HOW MANY TIMES IT HAS BEEN FEATURED!!!!!


THIS PLACE IS SOUTHERN FOOD PARADISE! GREAT SERVICE, AMAZING FOOD, AND AN AT HOME CULTURE AND FEEL.  THE RECIPES FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE GONE UNCHANGED FOR YEARS AND FOR DAMN GOOD REASON.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES FOR APPETIZER AND THE CHARLESTON NASTY BISCUIT WERE MY MEAL FOR THE DAY.  I LOVE FRIED GREEN TOMATOES SO MUCH, WITH A LITTLE AIOLI OR RANCH TO DIP IN.  HOLY SWEET TEA!  AND THE CHARLESTON NASTY BISCUIT IS A GUT BUSTER.  CHICKEN BISCUIT (WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM) WITH CHEDDAR CHEESE DRENCHED IN GRAVY.  THAT'S SOUTHERN FOR NYQUIL.  PUT YOU INTO A HAPPY SLEEP.  WASH IT ALL DOWN WITH SOME SWEET TEA.  YES MA'AM AND YES SIR!!!

THIS PLACE IS A INSTITUTION, A LANDMARK, A MECCA AND FOR DAMN GOOD REASON.  HOMINY GRILL, YOU DID NOT LET THIS SOUTHERN BOY ON THE WEST COAST DOWN!  

THE SHRIMP AND GRITS ARE SUPPOSED TO BE OUT OF THIS WORLD AND A MUST TRY, BUT TO BE HONEST, IM A TOMATO BASED SHRIMP AND GRITS FAN NOT A CHEESE BASED SHRIMP AND GRITS FAN.  ITS PERSON PREFERENCE.

IT'S PLACES LIKE THIS THAT MAKE EVERY PERSON LEAVE WITH A LITTLE DRAWL IN THEIR VOICE.  

BUTCHER AND THE BEE






654 King St, Charleston, SC 29403

http://butcherandbee.com/

FROM AMERICA'S BEST SANDWICH.

RANKED #1 IN THRILLIST BEST SANDWICH IN AMERICA.


"WHAT YOU'RE GETTING: Whatever's available
The only BYOB joint in Charleston also makes its finest sandwiches, which you can knock back in a dining room that feels like a friend’s place. Their menu, scrawled on a chalkboard, is constantly changing depending on the region’s local offerings, but always features innovative creations"

ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT THIS WAS HAND DOWN, NO QUESTIONS ASKED, EASILY, WITHOUT ANY FORM OF ARGUMENT OR DEBATE THE BEST LUNCH I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE.  MOST AMAZING SANDWICH, SIDES, AND DRINK.

OPEN FROM 11AM-3PM AND 11PM-3AM THIS PLACE IS OUTSTANDING IN EVERY WAY.

THIS PLACE IS INCREDIBLE.  TUCKED BEHIND A BOURBON DISTILLERY AND A COFFEE SHOP, THIS PLACE IS THE DEFINING EXAMPLE OF WHERE AMERICAN CULINARY GREATNESS IS HEADED.  INSANELY INVENTIVE AND INCREDIBLE FOOD SERVED IN AN INSANELY INVENTIVE AND INCREDIBLE WAY IN A CASUAL DINING EXPERIENCE

I GOT THE ROAST BEEF AND THE SALT FRIES.  MY WIFE GOT THE CAULIFLOWER GRILLED CHEESE.  FRIENDS GOT THE FRENCH TOAST AND THE BAHN MI.  INCREDIBLE FROM START TO FINISH.

THIS PLACE IS TRULY A MUST STOP FOR ANYONE IN THE AREA.  IT IS INCREDIBLE. IT IS OUTSTANDING.  IT IS FANTASTIC.  IT IS THE BEST I HAVE EVER HAD.

PS- THEY ARE OPENING UP ONE IN MY HOMETOWN OF NASHVILLE.  MY LITTLE TOWN IS GROWING UP SO FAST!

EVO






1075 E Montague Ave, North Charleston, SC 29405

http://www.evokitchenla.com/

BEST PIZZA IN AMERICA

MY NEW CULINARY DOCUMENTATION OBSESSION IS THE THRILLIST.  THE THRILLIST IS THIS AMAZING WEBSITE THAT KEEPS PEOPLE UP TO DATE ON ALL THE AWESOME THINGS TO DO, DRINK, EAT AND SEE IN A CITY.  FOR ME, MY OBSESSION FALLS ON THEIR WEEKLY "21 BEST (FILL IN FOOD) IN AMERICA".

BURGERS, BBQ, WINGS, STEAK, BURRITO, BRUNCH, DINER, AND IN THIS CASE PIZZA.

THE BIG ONES, THE POPULAR FOODS, THEY RE-DO EVERY YEAR.  LIKE PIZZA

EVO IN CHARLESTON IS THE ONLY PLACE TO BE FEATURED TWICE ON THE "21 BEST PIZZAS IN AMERICA" ARTICLE, FOR 2013 AND 2014.

IN A TOWN THAT IS FOCUSED ON TRADITION AND "HOW IT'S ALWAYS BEEN DONE", EVO BUCKS THIS TRADITION.  IN THE UP AND COMING NORTH CHARLESTON, EVO IS YOUR CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF CULINARY GREATNESS.  CASUAL,  AMAZING FOOD WITH AMAZING CRAFT BEER.

EVO'S TRIFECTA PIZZA IS THE BEST PIZZA I HAVE EVER HAD.  PERFECTLY COOKED CRUST, PERFECTLY PREPARED SAUCE, PERFECTLY MELTED CHEESE.  TOPPED WITH PEPPERONI, BACON, AND MY FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPING, TINY SAUSAGE CRUMBLES.  NOT GIANT PIECES OF SAUSAGE.  GIANT MEATBALL SIZE PIECES OF SAUSAGE.  I LIKE TINY TINY TINY CRUMBLES.  MR. GATTI'S STYLE (AND IF YOU GET THAT REFERENCE, PAT YOURSELF ON THE BACK).

EVO IS SIGNIFICANT TO THE CITY OF CHARLESTON AS IT SIGNIFIES THAT THE NEXT GENERATION OF CULINARY BRILLIANCE COMING TO THE CITY IS BOTH OVERWHELMINGLY STRONG IN TERMS OR CREATIVITY OF TASTE KEEPING THAT TRADITION ALIVE OF AMAZING FOOD IN THE CITY WHILE BUCKING THE TRADITION OF SNOBBY, 1% ONLY ALLOWED IN TERMS OF BEING ABLE TO ENJOY FINE DINING

Thursday, January 22, 2015

THE VEGAS BUFFET EDITION

THERE IS NO BETTER EXAMPLE OF PURE UNADULTERATED GOOD OLD FASHIONED AMERICAN GLUTTONY THAN A VEGAS BUFFET.

IT IS AN EXPERIENCE.

IT IS AN JOURNEY.

IT IS A GASTRONOMIC MARATHON OF GLORY.

IT IS INCREDIBLE.

IT IS AMAZING.

IT IS OUTSTANDING.

IT IS DISGUSTING TO THINK ABOUT AFTER.

IT IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE EXPERIENCED BY ALL…JUST ONCE.

TO ME, THE INCREDIBLY AMAZINGLY, FANTASTICALLY, OUTSTANDING EXPERIENCE AND JOURNEY OF THE GASTRONOMIC MARATHON OF GLORY KNOWN AS A VEGAS BUFFET CAN ONLY BE DESCRIBED AND DEFINED BY ONE OF MY FAVORITE TV CHARACTERS OF ALL TIME, TRACY JORDAN FROM 30 ROCK, WHO STATED "THERE NEEDS TO BE A GIANT SHRIMP MADE OUT OF SHRIMP DIVING INTO A BOWL OF SHRIMP THAT ARE ALL DROWNING IN A POOL OF COCKTAIL SAUCE!"
















THIS QUOTE AND PHOTO SAY IT ALL WHEN IT COMES TO A VEGAS BUFFET.  IF THERE ISNT THIS LEVEL OF INSANE DECADENCE AND OVER THE TOP-NESS WHEN IT COMES TO THE FOOD, THEN YOU AREN'T AT A TRUE AND LEGIT VEGAS BUFFET


I HAVE BEEN TO FOUR VEGAS BUFFETS, ALL AMAZING, ALL DIFFERENT, ALL WORTH A TRY.


AMATEUR MOVE IS TO JUMP RIGHT IN AT THE FIRST THING YOU SEE.  I ENCOURAGE YOU TO TAKE A COUPLE WALK AROUND AND PLAN OUT YOUR MEAL.  YOU HAVE (NORMALLY) TWO HOURS.  TAKE YOUR TIME AND GET YOUR $49.99 WORTH.


WYNN BUFFET
THE WYNN 3131 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
FROM BUFFET PARADISE





"Voted Best Buffet in Las Vegas"* Seafood Station: split Alaskan opilio crab legs with clarified butter, citrus & taragon glazed salmon fillet, jumbo black tiger shrimp with cocktail sauce and sushi rolls; black Angus prime rib and pizza. Dessert Station: candy apples, tres leches cake."


The best buffet I have ever been to in Vegas.  It is elegant, grand, and amazing.  The buffet is huge and is split among different types of cuisine, so you know what you are getting when you approach each station. You won't find pizza next to sushi at this place.  This place has so much variety yet they are very specific.  They don't have a dish just to have it.  One station may have 3 items only, but know that those three are there for a reason. The shellfish station is overwhelming with shrimp, crab, oysters, and crawfish.  This was my first buffet in Vegas, and I must say, it was the best one I have been to yet.



BACHANNAL BUFFET AT CEASAR'S PALACE
Caesars Palace, Caesars Palace Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89109




This place is a palace within a palace. This place is a monstrosity.  There is so much at this place, it is impossible to see everything they offer.  It goes on for miles and miles.  This place requires the most planning.  Do not get sidetracked with sliders and hot dogs and pizza.  Go straight for the stuff you cannot get at any normal restaurant in your hometown.  Go straight for the ultimate amounts of meats and shellfish.



BELLAGIO BUFFET
Bellagio, 3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109
#76 BEST PLACE TO CHOW DOWN AND FOOD PARADISE











"200 selections. suckling pig, Beef Wellington, sushi rolls, fish-smoked salmon roulade, Alaskan crab legs"


This will be short and to the point, just like the Bellagio buffet. The most straight forward, classic buffet in Vegas.  This is everything you want from a buffet.  Simply a delicious variety of amazing food.  Shellfish, meat, breads, fruits, sushi, it's all here. This place is exactly what you want when you say Vegas buffet. Bellagio buffet is wonderful and is even better for brunch.


WICKED SPOON AT THE COSMOPOLITAN
3708 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109









FROM BEST THING I EVER ATE AND BUFFET PARADISE


"Tasty and unusual selections served tapas-style in individual portions - Asian Station: sushi, egg drop soup, udon noodles, pork fried rice and "Thai Tofu" (crispy fried tofu with red Thai curry sauce topped with peanuts); slow-roasted lamb bone marrow, fiery fried chicken, Caribbean mojo sauce glazed rotisserie chicken, pork belly steamed bun with spicy mayo and pickled vegetables, "Angry Mac & Cheese" (spicy macaroni and cheese). Dessert Station: gelato bar (salted peanut butter and strawberry balasmic)."

The smallest of the buffets.  This place is very specific in their foods.  Maybe 50 food options as opposed to 200 at other places.  Everything is meant to be eaten in small portions.  At Wynn, Ceasars, and Bellagio, I couldn't see my plate after my first trip up because I have overloaded with meat, sushi, and shellfish.  This place limits what they give out.  Don't get me wrong it's all you can eat, but the amount they serve doesn't overwhelm you and limits you. Remember when I said that Vegas buffet can be summed up in Tracy Jordan's quote ""THERE NEEDS TO BE A GIANT SHRIMP MADE OUT OF SHRIMP DIVING INTO A BOWL OF SHRIMP THAT ARE ALL DROWNING IN A POOL OF COCKTAIL SAUCE!" This place serves each of its shrimp in individual shot glasses containing a tiny lemon and cocktail sauce. You could get as many shot glasses as you want, but you cant carry that many on a plate and they are tough to fish out. I want a plate full of shrimp and a bowl of cocktail sauce.


MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT

COMING SOON….
HOLMAN AND FINCH BURGER
HANDS DOWN, ACROSS EVERY FORM OF MEDIA, VOTED THE BEST BURGER IN AMERICA






Friday, January 16, 2015

GIRL AND THE GOAT









809 W. RANDOLPH, CHICAGO

http://girlandthegoat.com/

FROM BEST THING I EVER ATE

THIS IS ONE OF THE GREAT NEW AMERICAN CULINARY INSTITUTIONS.  THE BRAIN CHILD OF TOP CHEF WINNER STEPHANIE IZZARD, THIS PLACE SOLIDIFIED CHICAGO AS A CULINARY MECCA.

EVERYTHING IS FRESH, EVERYTHING IS  CAREFULLY THOUGHT OUT AND EXECUTED TO PERFECTION, EVERYTHING IS A WORK OF CULINARY GENIUS.

FROM THE FRESH BAKED BREAD AND SPREADS TO THE EPIC PIG FACE (PIG CHEEK) ENTREE THIS PLACE IS A WONDERFUL DINING EXPERIENCE.

MUCH LIKE ITS OTHER NEW AMERICAN CULINARY HUBS, IT IS BEST TO GO WITH A GROUP AND BE PREPARED TO SHARE A BUNCH OF ITEMS.  THE MORE YOU ARE ABLE TO TRY OFF THE MENU, THE BETTER.  THIS PLACE IS ALSO GREAT FOR VEGITARIANS OR FISH LOVERS.

GIRL AND THE GOAT IS A PURE DIAMOND IN A CITY BECOMING KNOWN FOR ITS CULINARY GEMS.  IF YOU CAN GET IN AND YOU CAN AFFORD IT, THIS PLACE IS A MUST IF YOU WORSHIP AND APPRECIATE THE NEW WAVE OF AMERICAN FOOD.

PS- THE FOLKS AT GIRL AND THE GOAT OPENED UP A MASTERPIECE OF A DINER ACROSS THE STREET CALLED "LITTLE GOAT".  THE SAME MINDS BEHIND THE PERFECTION OF CULINARY EXPERIENCES AT GIRL AND GOAT HAVE PUT THEIR IDEAS TO BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER, LATE NIGHT, AND BRUNCH.  ALSO SHOULD NOT BE MISSED FOR A BRUNCH OR LATE NIGHT.

http://littlegoatchicago.com/

AND THEN THIS HAPPENED

Remember that time when a simple and casual conversation about my restaurant list and food blog with the food critic from the Charleston Post & Courier turned into this......

http://www.postandcourier.com/…/blogger-following-in-food-n…

FAT SAL'S

THE FAT JERRY:
  THE BIG FAT FATTY CHALLENGE SANDWICH



1300 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90028

http://www.fatsalsdeli.com/

http://www.fatsalsdeli.com/Menu-Hollywood.aspx


From Sandwich Paradise, Diner's Drive-Ins, and Dives, and Best Sandwich in America

What they say: "Motto: "we're making sandwiches over here" Fat Sandwiches: "Fat Sal" (warm thin-sliced roast beef topped with mozzarella sticks, onion rings, fries, mayo, warms brown gravy on a garlic buttered 9-inch baguette); "Big Fat Fatty" (12-pound fat sandwich: 1 ½ of cheese steak meat, 5 cheeseburger patties, 1 ½ of pastrami, 10-strips of bacon, 5 fried eggs, 10 chicken fingers, onion rings, jalapeno poppers, chili, marina sauce, a basket of fires and may-based "fat sauce" on a 27-inch long garlic-buttered hero); "Fat Banh Mi-Ki" (competitive eater Miki Sudo's Bahn mi-inspired sandwich: Korean-scented barbecue hanger steak marinated with soy sauce, sesame oil and crushed red pepper, onion rings, tomatoes, jalapenos, Szechuan slaw, and pickled vegetables, topped with mayo, sriracha, and teriyaki glaze on a baguette)"

WARNING: DO NOT PROCEED WITH READING IF YOU HAVE A WEAK STOMACH OR WEAK HEART (MOM!!)


YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED (MOM!)!



STOP NOW IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE UNSETTLING IMAGES AND WORDS (SERIOUSLY MOM!!)...

When I started my list and this blog, both my food and restaurant bucket list were lengthy, places and foods that I wanted to go to before I was no longer able to.   While the restaurant bucket continues to grow as my list grows daily, I have been able to knock a good portion of items off my food bucket list thanks to various places on my journeys.  Bone Marrow, crawfish, oysters..and thanks to Fat Sal's, I was able to knock the fat sandwich off my list.

The fat sandwich is the product of the Grease Food trucks on College Avenue campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. "Fat Sandwiches", a sub roll containing a combination of ingredients such as burgers, cheese, chicken fingers, French fries, mozzarella sticks, gyro meat, bacon, etc.

Fat Sal's is the brain child of Sal, Josh, and Jerry (Ferrara of Entourage fame).  They brought the fat sandwich westward.  I have wanted to eat just one all my life, and one rainy LA afternoon, I got my chance.  I had studied the menu for weeks and narrowed it down to one. 


The Fat Jerry.


Philly cheesesteak, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, bacon, fried egg, fries, ketchup, salt, pepper, mayo on a freshly baked hero. Packed tight so no ingredient is lost in a bite.


Let that sink in and then let this sink in.


It was beyond words phenomenal.  Outstanding.  Mindblowing.  Incredible.  One of the best sandwiches I have ever had that I will never had again.  There was so much going on and so much working together for a perfect combination of deliciousness.


Fat Sal's is a late night greasy spoon paradise and mecca and should not be missed....even if its a once in a lifetime experience because you cant take enough Lipitor and your cholesterol level is the same as your SAT score after..Fat Sal's should not and cannot be missed for an outrageously incredible meal.


If you want a good laugh and a good gasp, check out the menu and see some of the insane gastronomic inventions they got going on there.  I have and will only have one, but I assure you and guarantee that anything that comes out of that kitchen will be over the top outrageous and incredible.


Also they have a eating challenge called the Big Fat Fatty....its too much...even for this place.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

PENINSULA GRILL





FROM THROWDOWN WITH BOBBY FLAY FOR COCONUT CAKE

Planter's Inn, 112 North Market Street, Charleston, SC 29401

https://www.peninsulagrill.com/

I came for the twelve-layer coconut cake, and nothing else….and that is a good thing because if I had gone for something other than the coconut cake, I would have had my hopes, dream, and expectations shattered.

This place is stuffy, everyone judges you based on who you are or aren't, what you are wearing or should be wearing.  I came to the staunch realization that this place is in a hotel, so they sadly serve overpriced hotel food. As I got through the meal, it tasted more and more like a meal I could have at a wedding. We started with oysters and a yellow fin tuna dish.  Simple yet good.  My oyster stew was fantastic.  The entrees were predictable, bland, and mediocre.  Simple as that.  The service is incredible though, so kudos to the entire staff. 

But the coconut cake.  My god the coconut cake.  Heaven.  Mecca.  Perfection.  Hands down, no questions asked, easily one of the best cakes and desserts I have ever had.  I am not a dessert guy.  One of the many things my wife and I bond over is that we prefer appetizers than dessert.  We are sweet people who love savory meals. But this was a cannot miss dessert.  And it cannot be missed.  Eat dinner somewhere else in Charleston, but stop by the Peninsula Grill for dessert.