Tag: dining (Page 1 of 2)

Best German Restaurants in the US

Bjorn Koch: Best German Restaurants in the US (1)

You don’t have to visit Germany in order to enjoy a delicious German meal. In the United States, you’ll find many German restaurants that celebrate German cuisine. Even if you don’t have German ancestors, you should make a point to visit one of the below restaurants. You won’t regret it!

Old Europe – Washington, DC

Old Europe has been serving delectable German food since 1948. Inside the restaurant, servers dress in traditional German attire to transport you in time to old Europe. The Schnitzel Old Europe is a popular choice for first-time diners. Throughout the year the restaurant features special menus for different holidays. For example, there’s a sausage week, and, of course, Oktoberfest. Take a look at these pictures to get an idea of the restaurant’s ambiance.

Bavarian Grill – Plano, TX

Bavarian Grill has been voted the best German restaurant in America on multiple occasions. It has also received numerous other awards since its opening in 1993. The restaurant features an extensive beer and wine menu in addition to its German cuisine. Although German food has a reputation for being meat heavy, at Bavarian Grill you’ll find a vegetarian menu as well as a gluten-free menu.

Prime Meats – Brooklyn, NY

Prime Meats opened in 2009. The restaurant focuses on serving farm to table alpine inspired fare. While the menu doesn’t feature an extensive beer list like most other German restaurants, it does feature a lot of wine. One of the best items on the menu is the house-made sausage. If you have trouble picking a sausage you can make things easier by ordering the sausage tasting board. Visit the Prime Meats website to learn more about this cozy restaurant.

Suppenküche – San Francisco, CA

Suppenküche is located in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, not far from the Civic Center. If you visit with a party that’s less than six, you won’t be able to make a reservation. The restaurant opens at 5:00 every day. Arrive at 5:00 if you don’t want to wait—the restaurant fills up quickly, and there aren’t many seats at the bar where you can wait until your table is ready. On the menu, you’ll find imported beers from Germany, Belgium, and Austria. If you really want a challenge, order one of the beers that are served in a glass boot! The dinner menu changes often, yet you’ll find tasty traditional German fare including pretzels and sauerkraut.

Tech Is Improving Our Dining Experience

We live in the epicenter of the information age. With cellphones in all of our pockets, tablets and laptops in our bags and a bluetooth headset in our ears, virtually unlimited levels of information and communication are at our fingertips no matter where we are. With the seemingly ubiquitous nature of technological innovation, it’s only natural that the tech space has found its way to our dinner tables.

While the cliche of telemarketers only calling you when you’re sitting around the dinner table with your family may be on its way out due in part to technology, the reaches of new tech have extended past your dinner table and into communal ones.

 

Improving Speed and Accuracy

You’ve placed your order with the waiter, made some specific–though not egregious or cumbersome–requests and adjustments to your order, and now you’re waiting. As you grow hungrier and hungrier, you notice your waiter bringing out your food on a silver platter. Finally.

Swirling some of the linguini onto your fork, you notice something.

It’s a mushroom.

You requested no mushrooms.

Mistakes like these have become issues in restaurants–accuracy for orders is paramount to the success of a restaurant and the experience of its patrons. Technology, though, is helping to improve this first step as much as possible.

In stark contrast to hand-written tickets, no longer can an order become missed, a “no mushrooms” note be misread, or an added note ignored. With kitchen-facing tablets and computer screens, placing orders and ensuring accuracy has never been as fast or as easy as it is now.

 

Tracking Made Easy

Utilizing platforms like OpenTable, restaurants are more easily able to track what’s going on in the restaurant before them. Reservations are easier to manage and schedule, open tables are quickly and efficiently tracked and the experience for potential diners is improved tenfold.

Past just tracking tables and orders, tech has made it easier for restaurants to track their own inventory of items–now you’ll know ahead of time what is and what is not available for ordering.

 

Convenience

Though you probably won’t be paying with your phone at an upscale establishment just yet, many eateries do allow services like Android Pay or Apple Pay to be utilized for speed and convenience when placing orders. Similarly, small businesses have turned to hardware like Square to accommodate the ever-changing landscape of paying for your meals.  

Why Your New Years Resolution Should be Food-Based

Bjorn koch food new years

 

Saturday evening, people across the world gathered to celebrate the ringing in of a new year, allowing 2017 into their lives in warm embrace. With a new year, of course, comes a long list of resolutions that you may or may not have already given up on–eating healthier, going to the gym, spending less, saving more–the list goes on.

But there’s one resolution that is Bjorn Koch approved that I highly recommend that you and everyone else takes under their wing for 2017.

Diversify your cuisine this year.

 

Cooking at Home

If you, like most households around the country, cook most of your meals at home, this resolution can be easily fulfilled. If you have kids it might become a bit more difficult, but also presents a wonderful opportunity to open their eyes (and mouths) to tastes of other cultures.

In lieu of cooking pasta with sauce from a jar twice a week in the name of a quick and relatively cheap meal, opt to attempt to make an international dish a few times a week. Not every dish has to be expensive–eating oysters, lobster and truffles every night would be bad for both your digestive tract and your wallet. But exploring the cuisine of new cultures and cooking up some classic international dishes is an effective means of both broadening your cultural horizons and learning to cook up some fantastically delicious meals from across the world!

 

Dining Out

 

Admittedly, cooking meals at home 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year is difficult. Sometimes you have to let someone else take over and order out.

Dining out is often viewed as an expensive, unhealthy endeavor, due largely to the preconceived notion that eating out is automatically a trip to McDonalds, Burger King or Chick-Fil-A. But it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be.

This year, try expanding your dining horizons by visiting a different location every week (or every other, if that’s how often you eat out). Use something like Google Maps or Trip Advisor to find a restaurant that you’ve never been to, or that serves food from a culture you’ve never tried before. More often than not even picky eaters will be able to find something on the menu that they find they enjoy–and the more adventurous among us can point to a dish and try something new.

Five Mistakes to Avoid When Dining Upscale

 

For most people, high-class dining is not something they do on a regular basis. It may happen once every so often, or you may be thrown into a professional situation that entails fine dining and you’re nervous about what the exact etiquette is. Maybe you’re meeting a significant other’s family for the first time at a high-class restaurant and you want to make sure you don’t make a serious mistake. In this post, I’ll list some of the most common mistakes to avoid when dining at a high-end restaurant.

Misplacing and misusing your napkin and utensils

 

It’s common to have various plates, glassware, and utensils when dining at a high-class restaurant. You can look up diagrams that show where different wine glasses or plates will be located at your place setting. A simple tip is to work from the outside in when using utensils. When you’re done eating, place your utensils on your plate, which you should also do if you pause eating; don’t set them back down on the table. The same goes with your napkin; keep it placed on your lap and when you’re done with your meal, set it to the left side of your plate. Also remember to dab, not wipe, your mouth.

 

Dressing inappropriately

 

While the normal view is that anything goes as far as attire is concerned, this concept does not apply to business or formal dinners. Most, if not all, high class restaurants have a specific dress code, which usually requires suits, or at least dress shirts, for men and a dress or suit for women. A good rule to follow for what to wear to a high class restaurant is to not wear anything you wouldn’t wear for a job interview.

 

Placing items on the table

 

Again, with the current culture, people always carry cell phones and various other items that they’re connected to constantly. In a more casual restaurant, this behavior may be acceptable (though it’s generally a good rule to not use your phone at all when you’re eating with other people), it’s definitely not acceptable at a high class restaurant. Keep your purse, wallet, keys, phone, glasses, and whatever else off of the table. It’s distracting and looks untidy.

 

Not planning payment

 

This mistake is especially important to be aware of if you’re the hostess. Usually, etiquette dictates that the person who invited everyone else pays for the meal, though you may choose to split the checks. At particularly high class restaurants, you’ll be expected to provide your credit card beforehand, so be aware of this detail, especially if you’re paying for the entire meal. It helps to avoid any post-dinner awkwardness.

 

Food mistakes

 

Common etiquette rules to remember are: chew with your mouth closed, eat slowly, and don’t put too much food in your mouth. It’s also important to wait to begin eating until everyone else is served and to know how to eat the food in front of you. It’s a good idea to plan ahead what you’d like to order and make sure you’re comfortable with the food, such as having to crack a crab’s shell or a meal with different garnishes. It’s also completely acceptable to send back food if it isn’t cooked properly, but remember not to be gracious toward the waiter and not make a scene.

Nine Foods To Try Once in your Life

Mouthwatering food exists all over the world, but there are also certain foods that you have to try at least once in your life. While many of them can be found in various locations, some are specific to the area of the world they originated in, because that place just does them the best. So get ready to plan your next trip around the fantastic food you’ll be able to find somewhere!

Escargot in France

Many people might be grossed out by the thought of eating snails, but these are truly a delicacy. The snails are killed, removed from their shells, and then prepared with butter, garlic, and other seasonings, before being placed back into the shell and served. The texture and flavor is incredible and the snail is incredibly tender.

Macarons in France

Macarons can be found all over the world now, but nothing beats real French macarons. These sweet treats come in various flavors and are the perfect size for a quick snack. They’re light and delicious, with an amazing ganache or buttercream filling.

Lobster Roll

Lobster rolls are truly masterpieces, which few people realize. The sandwich is filled with lobster meat and usually soaked in butter. Find a place that uses lots of lobster and great bread and you’ll be sure to enjoy this dish.

Shrimp and Grits

People in the North may turn their nose up at grits, but those in the South know what they’re doing when it comes to this food. This dish is normally had at breakfast time and can be sweet or savory. It’s rich in butter, but worth it.

Gelato in Italy

No place can do gelato like Italy (France comes a close second). Gelato is an amazing combination of milk, sugar, and cream, often flavored with various fruits or nuts. Italian gelato shops are known for serving their gelato in fancy shapes, such as a flower, and it immediately melts in your mouth.

Steak Tartare

Even though this dish is raw meat, which might not appeal to some people, it’s definitely worth overcoming your squeamishness. The meat is prepared with onions and seasonings for a delicious flavor. When stored and prepared properly, it’s unlikely that any bacteria is present, so you can enjoy this dish with peace of mind.

Sushi in Japan

It’s possible to find great sushi in lots of places, but none of it can compare to the sushi of Japan. If raw fish is completely repulsive to you, try some cooked sushi. Sashimi is also a great type of sushi to try, where the fish is laid over a serving of rice and can easily be eaten in one or two bites.

Real Ramen

Ramen is frequently associated with college students who need to make food quickly and on a budget, but ramen cuisine is much more impressive than this image. Real ramen is fresh noodles with either chicken or beef in a warm broth. It’s very much like a kind of soup and is a great dish to warm you up.

Tamales

Tamales are a Mesoamerican dish that originated sometime between 8000 and 5000 BC, which is incredible. This delicious food is masa dough mixed with various foods and then wrapped in a cornhusk. You unwrap the dough before eating and then can dig into this scrumptious delight.

Best Countries for Upscale Dining

Bjorn Koch upscale dining

On this website you’ve seen me write time and time again about foods you need to try from various countries, eatiers that you should visit in your city, state or country, and the authentic dishes you should try around the world.

This might be the end all and be all of cultural fine dining blog posts on BjornKoch.net. It won’t, of course, be the end of the blog posts on here, you can expect me to write about dining whenever I can moving forward–but this might be the most all-encompassing piece I write on international cuisine.

Here are the five countries with the best food around the world.

India

1.2 billion people cannot possibly be wrong. India’s food is unique in its composition and overall makeup, combining a wide variety of flavors to appease all audiences. Tandoori chicken, butter chicken, and curries are some of the most popular dishes from India, which is also famous for its fantastic vegetarian dishes given the fact that many Indians do not eat meat.

USA

It’s hard to name a top ten foods list without mentioning the USA. Notable, the USA is the only country on this list that isn’t necessarily widely regarded for its original food, but for its spins on other countries’ cuisines.

The USA is famous for its multicultural makeup, which has allowed it to blend a wide range of international foods into one cultural epicenter. Perhaps more interestingly, the USA has put its own spin on international foods (think pizza, tacos, hamburgers), taking hugely famous international food and Americanizing it.

France

Dining upscale has a few almost mandatory aspects to it; when we think of an upscale dinner party we often think about wine and cheese. It just so happens, then, that wine and cheese are two of the edibles that France is most famous for. On top of them, the croissants, macarons, fine breads and a widely ranging spread of chicken and beef dishes make French cuisine one of the best in the world.

Mexico

Often lambasted for being the same ingredients (tortilla, meat, cheese) spread out across a number of dishes, eating authentic Mexican is incredibly hard to beat. Despite that notion, there is quite a bit of variety found in real Mexican food, from the sauces that go into each dish to the preparation and presentation, each of which intensely modifies the dishes’ overall flavors.

You might bump Mexican to number one if you’re a fan of spicy foods, as most of the world’s chilis come from Mexico, particularly the very spicy ones. Worked into a number of dishes, sometimes the pain of stuffing a few jalapenos or habaneros into your mouth is worth it for the flavor compliments.

Italy

When you think of Italian food you probably think of freshness. Italian food is often not overly complicated or difficult to prepare, but one taste of an authentic Italian dish will show you how little that matters in the grand scheme of things, Fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and breads are staples of Italian cuisine. The food is so wide ranging–from marinara to alfredo, from pizza to gelato–that it’s difficult to cover it all and not drool on my keyboard.

Five States and Their Defining Foods

Traveling and food are an intertwined, intersecting pair of interests of mine that I often find myself experiencing at the same time. When I travel, I sample the local cuisine regardless of how exotic it is or is not. There’s nothing like visiting the heart and birthplace of a dish and tasting an authentic version yourself. It always–always–blows imitations out of the water.

Regardless of where I’m headed–across the ocean, across the state or across the country, food will continue to be a huge part of traveling for me. And it should be the same way for you.

Within the United States are, of course, 50 states. Most everyone knows that, but what not everyone knows is that within each state is a signature dish, sandwich or local delicacy that you’re best off trying on your next visit. Here are five states with the most recognizable and most delicious foods that you should indulge in on your next visit.

Louisiana–Gumbo

If you’ve been to Louisianna before, you know that the state is known for its cajun creole inspired seafood dishes. In New Orleans you’ll likely find a good bit of jambalaya, but statewide, gumbo is a must-try. The base vegetables of celery, onions and peppers with stock, a meat or seafood and a variety of seasonings, spices and other ingredients combine to form a fantastic southern dish.

Maryland–Crabs/Crab cakes

The popularity of Maryland crabs comes from the method in which they’re cooked. Instead of simply boiling blue crabs with little to no spice, Maryland has made famous the method of utilizing Old Bay and a variety of spices to bring out the flavor of the crabs. If cracking is too much work for you, Maryland crab cakes are a fantastic substitute in Maryland.

Illinois–Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

You’ve probably tried deep dish pizza before, but unless you’ve been to Chicago, you haven’t really tried deep dish pizza. The chunky tomato sauce, the heaps of cheese and the perfectly cooked crust makes eating authentic Chicago-style deep dish an experience that every human on earth should try at least once in their life.

Pennsylvania–Philly Cheesesteak

A classic example of something that you can get just about anywhere in the world, but probably shouldn’t. Visiting just about any pizza place in America, you’ll find a menu item that will likely read “Philadelphia cheesesteak.” If you want a real Philly cheesesteak, avoid this. Philly cheesesteaks should be eaten in Philly. Avoid tourist-based spots like Pats and Genos, and opt instead for Dalessandros or Steve’s. My final recommendation: cheese whiz and onions. Not exactly upscale, but certainly delicious.

Massachusetts/New England– Clam Chowder

You had to have seen this coming. As a Boston resident, filling up with a bowl of clam chowder, particularly on a chilly evening, is hard to beat. Thicker than most other chowders because of its creamy base, New England clam chowder is a must-try when you’re in the area. And, by the way, to the locals it’s chowda’.

 

Fast Food is Getting a Make Over

It’s a rare occurrence that fine dining and fast food are mentioned in the same sentence. There isn’t much that the two share. One is offered via a drive-through, made as quickly as possible by people who aren’t trained cooks, it’s cheap and it’s usually a last-minute option for hungry people on the go.

But recently, fast food has been changing. Perhaps evolving is the right word. The dining experience usually associated with cheap, nonnutritious food is getting a makeover, and it’s not the one I wrote about in this blog post.

In response to the emergence and huge surge in popularity of places like Chipotle–fast casual restaurants–many fast food establishments are introducing faux-upscale menus to compete. Taco Bell introduced its Cantina Bell menu, chef inspired entrees that use higher-quality ingredients to push a more “cultured” view of the restaurant. In the name of innovation, Taco Bell is gearing it’s menu to try to capture parts of the market that would normally flock to the likes of other, less “casual” eateries.

And Taco Bell certainly isn’t the only fast-food restaurant attempting to make the shift. McDonalds has been slowly transitioning its establishments all over the world into “McCafes,” which serve fancier coffees and give off an air of Starbucks culture to the building.

Recently, the Golden Arches have also been experimenting with some menu transitions that would, in an ideal world, help drive them into the world of nice food on a similarly nice budget. Recently, the chain has been experimenting with a Pesto Mozzarella Melt. In similar vein, Wendy’s has been experimenting with the addition of truffle to its menu with truffle bacon cheeseburgers and truffle fries.

The issue with these two menu additions might not be in terms of taste, style or speed, it could be in the clientele. Those swinging through the drive through of a McDonalds or Wendys at midnight are often not seeking delicious truffle cheeseburgers, they’re seeking a $1 McDouble that will satisfy them until they get home.

In all, fast-food is going to remain fast food. Places like McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys, Taco Bell and Arby’s have built a reputation over their existence. They’re the kings of fast-food for a reason–that’s what they branded themselves as. They’re fast, they’re affordable, they’re on-the-go, and they’re everywhere. To begin to try to separate your business from those traits while maintaining the same brand is a difficult move, and one that may or may not prove to be successful. It is safe to say, however, that places like Daniel’s likely don’t have to worry too much about McDonalds stealing their customers.

The New Face of Fast Food

In recent years, the fast food market has changed dramatically. Today, there’s a focus on healthier options, better quality of products, and an effort to serve food in environmentally friendly ways.

While the fast food industry may appear to be making positive changes, the negative aspects of still outweigh the good. For example, a standard fast-food restaurant delivers on average more than 1,500 calories per meal. It’s no wonder that obesity is now considered a national health crisis.

 

Could affordable salads be the secret to America’s health?

An easier solution must exist. How can we make fast food healthy and affordable? The secret may have already have been discovered. Drive-thru salad chains.

The genius behind this solution is that it delivers what the market wants (healthy food) yet remains efficient and affordable. The unfortunate lure of fast-food is not the quality but the convenience. If we build healthy meccas that offer nutritious options, we could solve one of the leading health challenges in America today.

 

Leading the way

The future may have already arrived–and chances are–you’ve heard of them: Chipotle, SaladWorks, Panera. While not all of these chains exclusively offer salads, they do impress a healthier image to their consumers. At Panera, a customer can choose from a wide range of nutritious meals, including meat that’s free of antibiotics.

And there’s one chain that’s making a big impression. Salad and Go. This newer model hopes to break into the big leagues by offering fresh and affordable salads and meals, exclusively. With 8 locations across the midwest, the menu at Salad and Go offers salads, burritos, and smoothies made with whole, natural, and organic ingredients. The company’s goal? According to their website, living life in the fast lane doesn’t require sacrificing flavor or nutrition.  

The question remains whether these new chains have the potential to attract the consumers. We know that the market exists and thrives today. According to a Gallup study, 1 in 3 children eat fast food at least once a day.

It’s far easier to consider exchanging the type of food in this American diet staple than trying to reinvent a way for Americans to consume food affordably and on-the-go.

 

Bjorn Koch fast food placePerhaps the biggest obstacle facing these chains is the cultural association we keep with the industry. For 50+ years, the phrase fast food has conjured a very specific type of experience. Today, we have the opportunity to change that. But to achieve that goal, we first must shift our mindset: there’s no rule that the items at a fast-food restaurant have to be fried.

 

 

How Are Restaurants Handling Food Allergies?

It was the worst nightmare of anyone with a severe dietary restriction or food allergy. In late July, a restaurant patron was hospitalized–and almost killed–when he was served a dish containing salmon, which he is deathly allergic to. After a hospitalization and a recovery, the waiter who served the dish was arrested and could be charged with criminal negligence in the near future. Apparently, the customer had mentioned numerous times that he had a severe allergy, but the waiter served him a dish containing fish, hospitalizing him.

 

While this occurrence was more than likely life-changing (and nearly life-ending) for the customer at the restaurant in Quebec, it is something that happens almost regularly, as the dining industry is often unable to guarantee that some combination of cross contamination, miscommunication or simple switching of orders won’t result in an allergic reaction.

 

So what can a restaurant–and its patrons–do to avoid scenarios like these in the future?

 

Well, it’s difficult for basically everyone involved. Most restaurants feature footnotes at the bottom of the menu that warns those with food allergies to proceed with caution. Typically, the warnings say, to some extent, that cross-contamination is always possible, and the risk of an allergic reaction is always present, even when precautions are taken. They are similar to the warnings that you may see on the back of packaged goods purchased from a grocery store, essentially warning the eater that the food is produced in a facility that also handles common allergens like peanuts, tree nuts or eggs.

 

A portion of the blame for some allergic reactions that occur within restaurant walls can be laid on the shoulders of miscommunication. While allergies to ingredients such as peanuts or gluten are very real and very dangerous, some allergies are misconstrued as simple intolerances or diets. With the trend of avoiding gluten in meals when possible emerging in recent years, serving gluten to someone on a diet is significantly less harmful than serving it to someone with an allergy. Unfortunately, the line between diet, intolerance and allergy can occasionally be muddled and miscommunicated in the restaurant business.

 

Proper labeling and a knowledgeable staff can help avoid both mixups and negligence when it comes to allergies. Restaurants are required by law to disclose ingredients to dishes when asked, even if the ingredients are a part of a “secret recipe” in order to keep customers safe. This requires not only compliance by the restaurant, but knowledgeable and well-trained staff. There have been numerous instances of waiters and waitresses simply neglecting to properly warn a customer of allergens in a food because they were unaware, as was the case in a cheesecake-related incident. With a wait staff that is not only knowledgeable about the menu offered, but properly trained in food allergy awareness, many mistakes can be avoided.

 

Part of the caution, however, should also fall on the shoulders of the diner. It’s important not only to disclose your allergy to the waiter, but to closely check the menu before ordering and, perhaps most importantly, exercise caution! Understand that there will almost always be a chance of something being miscommunicated, misconstrued, misheard or forgotten about when you’re dining out. It’s much, much better to be safe than to go into anaphylaxis.

 

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