Hofbrauhaus – Newport

We were invited to celebrate with some awesome friends at the Hofbrauhaus a few weeks ago. It’s been quite a few years (maybe, 8 years?) since we’ve been there. Perfect opportunity to blog about German food things!

I would say that I don’t like german food but that’s not true – I like sauerkraut, goetta, pretzels and German style potato salad.  And, I really love to scream “WIENER SCHNITZEL!”. Does that count? So – I was willing to give Hofbrauhaus new foodie eyes.

We were on a super long wait – but, I think that has to do more with the beer than the food. ;)

I didn’t get beer – oddly enough, just not in the mood. We were just back from vacation and I had an evening full of margaritas while in Destin. Wasn’t quite ready to drink much of anything.

What do you do when you’re Americans in a German restaurant? Order Pretzels for an appetizer!


The pretzels were delicious (needed more salt but I say that about most things) and the bier cheese? So frickin’ yum!

The husband ordered the Wurstlplatte (I think that means a bunch of wienies on a plate) but got potato pancakes instead of mashed potatoes. I approved of his substitution.

Mett Platter

That potato pancake was awesome – super crispy outside but creamy on the inside. It did need a sauce (not ketchup).

I was having a hard time deciding on something. My mind just was constantly yelling, “Wiener Schnitzel” because my inner 5-year-old was on fire.

My brain shut down and I got my go to…A Reuben. Yes, I know. Branching out of my comfort zone.


Loved the swirl rye. The corned beef was okay. Fries were horrendous. Honestly, my Reuben at McGuire’s (in destin) was better than this one. And that one is made by the Irish! The husband had no issues polishing off the other half. We’re both suckers for 1000 island.

I suppose I don’t really dislike German food. I love some aspects of it. But I have a tendency to gravitate toward more bold flavors (hence, my love of Mexican) and german is a smidgen bland.

I had a great time with great friends and the Hofbrauhaus is always quite the experience. But, if the hubby and I are choosing a date night restaurant, this isn’t it.

Hofbrauhaus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato






White wine flight

Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

It’s that time of year again – the time that the husband and I celebrate our love and marriage…October!

Our typical anniversary restaurant is Eddie Merlot’s – it makes me so happy. But, the husband decided to go rogue this year and picked Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant

I had mixed feelings – while I love trying new restaurants (uh, hello, food blog!), I just wasn’t feeling it after looking at the menu. The menu wasn’t cohesive and I couldn’t get a grasp on what food they were known for. Yes, I get it’s a winery but they also have food. ;) But, because I’m willing to be flexible and because they had wine, I ignored my menu skepticism and booked a table.

The restaurant is beautiful – trendy but not pretentious.


The husband, even though he doesn’t drink, loved the big wine dispensers. He was trying to convince me to get a bottle of wine so we’d get this…

Wine dispensers

I prefer to be coherent while eating dinner so, I just went with a white wine flight –> so fun!

Landing pad

wine flight pad


White wine flight

Our server was awesome – I wish I could remember her name. But, I’m 40 so it’ll never come to me. But, she was definitely on top of it all night!

The menu – can you believe that up until I ordered, I still had NO idea what I was getting? It had me perplexed!


For an appetizer, we got the Asian Pork Belly Tostadas

Pork belly tostadas

Those were awesomely delicious – every little crunchy bite was filled with pork belly goodness. They disappeared rapidly.

Everyone gets bread – the pretzel variety!

Pretzel bread better

The husband loved it. I thought it needed some salt – I mean, it was a pretzel and all.

The husband got the Surf and Turf – Crab Cakes and Parmesan Crusted Filet Medallions with wasabi mashed potatoes. Like I get sucked into all things goat cheese, he gets sucked into all things wasabi.

Mike surf and turf

He loved it. I think he preferred the filet to the crab cakes but…he’s a guy so…

I started with a cup of Crab and Lobster Bisque ( I’m a senior citizen at heart and love soup)

Crab and Lobster bisque

I loved the first few bites but then the veggies got to be a little overwhelming. To be fair, it did have good crab and lobster consistency so I’ll consider it a soup win.

After much deliberation and I’m still not quite sure what my deciding factor was, I chose the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs. I think it was the onion straws that pushed me in that direction.

Braised short ribs

I hate saying this but it reminded me of pot roast. I wasn’t a fan of the grilled celery (that’s so wrong on so many levels). The sauce and the onions were awesome, however. Instead of mashed potatoes, I got Betty’s Potatoes (basically, hash brown casserole).

Potatoes Betty

Frickin’ yum. The husband kept stealing bites.

We were super full so we got dessert. ;) I knew, even though it was OUR anniversary, that I was never winning any dessert argument. He always wants chocolate. I don’t. But, since he wanted dessert more and I wanted wine more, he got to choose.

Cooper’s Hawk Chocolate Cake

cake better

Okay, so I don’t even love chocolate like my husband does but that was some damn good chocolate cake. It had this whippy mousse on top – so yum. I took 3 bites and then continued on with my wine.

Winemaker’s Barrel Reserve – Bordeaux

Red wine

I love red wine. I miss red wine. Have I mentioned that I’m slightly allergic to it? Yeah, it makes my nose get stuffy and my cheeks get flushed. But, it was so worth popping a benedryl for!

The night was perfect because I was with the love of my life. I really enjoyed the pork belly tostadas, the potatoes and the cake. Oh, and the wine! But, is this one of my new favorite restaurants? No.

Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato









Crab Rangoon

Oriental Wok – Hyde Park

Most everyone knows by now that I’m not a fan of Chinese food – I mean, it’s fine. But, I wouldn’t go out of my way to ever pick it.

It was my girl’s 19th birthday and she just wanted to go out to dinner with her mama (that’s me!) and her favorite food is…Chinese. I wanted to pick a nicer Chinese restaurant – you know, one that doesn’t involve a buffet. ;)

That’s how we landed on Oriental Wok in Hyde Park.

I’m going to be completely honest in that I was completely oblivious as to how to find the restaurant. I had NO clue that it was IN the hotel. I kept circling – the valet sign was pointing (in my mind) to the wrong location. Finally, got my head out of my ass and figured it out. We pulled up to the complimentary valet and waited…no one ever came so we just parked ourselves.

Super cute on the inside – I did notice that we were some of the youngest people there. Keep in mind that I’m 40.


Menus were fun, too – yep, easily amused, people.


Our server was a tad awkward – we couldn’t decide if he was new or if my daughter and I are just intimidatingly hot. ;) I think he was new.

We’re the typical Americans – we got some Crab Rangoon  and Pot Stickers for appetizers. I like few Chinese things – give me the fried pieces of yumminess!

Crab Rangoon

Best crab rangoon EVER. It was absolutely perfect. We could have scarfed on those all night.


I’m a fan of crispy dumplings – these just weren’t good. Too big – crispy on the one side, squishy on the other. We had a few left. :(

Oh, yeah – I was disappointed that we couldn’t get a pot of tea! I know I’m probably old school but I miss the days of the full on Chinese experience.

My daughter got the General Wong’s Chicken

Maddie chicken

She loved it!

I got the Mongolian Shrimp – I was going back and forth between that and the Moo Shu Pork.


I should have gone with my 2nd choice. It tasted bleh – just okay.

Fried Rice


Egg Roll – we split one between both of us. What’s Chinese without an egg roll?

Egg roll

We both hated the egg roll – we took one bite each and it just remained there. The whole peanut butter thing, NOT working for the egg roll. Puke.

And, of course…

Fortune cookie

That’s a fortune cookie not pac man.

It was sweet that they came out and sang for my daughter’s birthday – she even got to rub buddha’s belly for good luck.

Rubbing Buddha belly

I loved that Oriental Wok is family owned – everyone was super sweet and gave great service. I loved the crab rangoon – I might even be willing to give another entrée a try. But, food-wise, I was underwhelmed. But, my birthday girl loved it and that’s all that matters!
Oriental Wok Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato








Platter of food

Emanu – Pleasant Ridge

We were invited by some awesome people to go to an Ethiopian restaurant, Emanu,  a couple of months ago. It’s okay, I’ll make the joke before you do – I didn’t know that Ethiopia was known for food period. Apparently, I was wrong and I’m always up for a new food experience!

On a Friday night, our party of 14 was one of 3 tables in the restaurant. It had pretty bare minimum decor – tables were kind of low (or the booth seats were high), which I know is a weird comment but something that I notice.

Even though I menu stalked ahead of time, our host talked to the kitchen and got us a sampler type thing. Which, I was torn about – kind of wanted to wing it myself. ;) Plus, all that creeping on the menu went to waste!

This was our sampler platter for 4…

Platter of food

I know that it was lamb (which is what I was going to order!), chicken legs, some veggies (greens, lentils), hard-boiled eggs – which I later learned that you’re to smoosh and break and mix it in with everything. I liked the lamb the best – the sauce was super good. Everything else tasted the same.

This the bread, injera…sponge-like, a bit sour


Yes, it’s interesting. It had about 1000 layers – that one piece lasted my whole meal! I love being able to eat with my hands – tearing pieces of bread off, scooping up food and shoveling it in. Something very rustic and authentic about it that I enjoy. After the initial few bites, however, I was over the bread – without the food, it was pretty sour and had no other real flavor.

I was looking forward to coffee!


Nice and strong – beautiful and little.

And, dessert…

We were indecisive and my husband’s not a good sharer, so we got a piece of baklava and a honey cheesecake. I’m not sure if either of those are Ethiopian but, it didn’t really matter. ;)



Baklava was okay. Cheesecake didn’t have much honey flavor and it was still frozen. Don’t know that the restaurant anticipated such high volumes of people. They were kind of stingy with the coffee, too. Baby pots, divided between 10 people. Or maybe it’s just because I have American girl coffee issues.

I had a fun time – with awesome company, laughter and a new food experience. I thought the food was okay. It was kind of pricey for what it was, too – $50+ for 2 people. Would I have to go back? No.

Emanu East African Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Starbucks – Pumpkin Spice Latte

I get it. People like pumpkin. Mostly women under the age of 25 – they want pumpkin everything, apparently (cat litter, tampons, jeesh).

I enjoy pumpkin pie. Maybe a pumpkin bread or roll. That’s it. I don’t want to smell like pumpkin, I don’t need everything around me to be pumpkin scented and I certainly don’t need items that should NEVER be pumpkin (M&M’s), to be pumpkin. Get a grip, America.

I love coffee. Like, to the point that it’s a tad ridiculous. However, I don’t like coffee flavored things – ice cream, candy, ICED coffee, etc. Just HOT coffee – I don’t even particularly like many flavorings. (Hazelnut – puke). Mocha is the most I can handle. I like it sweet (splenda!) with cream. The end.

I realize I’m cranky- you should see me BEFORE coffee – BUT…I was, for a brief broken down moment, willing to give the Pumpkin Spice Latte (which has been termed PSL by those affected greatly by its return) a whirl.

I’m not crazy about Starbucks – I get it because it’s on the way to the grocery store. My coffee of choice will always be Dunkin – it’s just pure coffee perfection. Their donuts are crap but their coffee…that’s stuff that dreams are made of. I digress.

I wanted to know what all the PSL hoopla was about. Maybe I was being too strict on my coffee stance. Maybe I WAS missing out on something truly delicious?

My plan was to boot off any “extra” shakings or toppings they put on it – I hate nutmeg with a fiery, burning passion and that was my fear for the PSL spices.

Starbucks cup

Yes, it’s a Starbucks cup – those pretentious little bastards.

BTW – ordering, I felt like a predictable brainwashed pumpkin fool. Even the barista gave me the eye. She told me that she liked the old recipe better.

PSL better

It’s orange. Orange! On no planet should coffee ever be orange. I was dreading drinking it. My daughter kept asking me WHY I was doing this to myself. I wanted to be proven wrong!

Took a sip – thick, orange, warm pumpkin puke. Truly, it tasted like a warm overly pumpkin pie sliding down my throat. I was all done. In my mind, the drink would be coffee with a hint of pumpkin taste. Not just straight pumpkin sludge. My instincts were absolutely correct – it was horrendous.

I’ll leave the PSL to those that really have no interest in drinking coffee. Can you say Pumpkin Spice Blah-tte? I’ll stick to my normal, hot, bold coffee – sweet and creamy. I’m a simple girl – who goes coo coo for coffee.

Seriously – don’t talk to me before I’ve had some.


Blalocks triple fin done

Blalock Seafood Market – Destin 2015

We’re in Destin for 2 weeks – one of those days we visit a fish market and cook in our condo. I really love that meal and experience. I’ve been to a few fish markets, in Destin – I’ve loved them all. This year, we went to Blalock‘s (it was closest). I called ahead and got some big old shrimp peeled and deveined (only a couple bucks more – so worth it!). Blalock will also season and steam seafood for you. But, since we were taking on the cooking part, we let it go at the raw seafood.

I love the smell of the seafood market – I know, that probably makes me a freak but it just smells like the ocean and freshness!

After looking and looking and looking some more, we picked out our triple fin and tuna. Plus, some seasonings and gumbo. And, don’t forget we got shrimp too.

Triple Fin

Blalocks Triple Fin

Triple Fin Blackened and grilled

Blalocks triple fin done

Super flaky and mild – love the seasoning that I got. Spicy!

Tuna – look how pretty!

Blalocks tuna

Tuna – lightly seasoned and grilled. 

Blalocks tuna done

I think I might even have hit a decent temperature there!

Blalock Gumbo

Blalock's gumbo

You know – there was a sweet man from New Orleans chatting with us in Blalock’s. He was telling us how awesome and authentic the gumbo was. I’m always down with soup and/or gumbo so we bought some. I wasn’t in love. There were pretty many shells in it and it just lost me from there.

Shrimp – seasoned with slap yo mama seasoning!

Blalocks grilled shrimp

There is NOTHING like fresh shrimp. It’s tender and sweet. It makes me so sad, coming back to Cincinnati, that I won’t have fresh shrimp for a year. Doesn’t matter – once it’s frozen, it’s all done. :(

We enjoy dining out while vacationing in Destin but we REALLY enjoy our one night of experimenting and eating locally caught fish! It’s not cheap but not nearly as expensive as going out for a meal. (Plus, there’s no crowds!) Find a fish market and get grilling!

Vinny McGuire pizza

Vinny McGuire’s – Destin 2015

I look forward to Vinny McGuire’s every year. It’s pizza – got a problem with that? I eat seafood 12 out of the 14 days we’re there – a girl needs some pizza! I’m not defensive at all.

And, it’s not JUST pizza. It’s awesome pizza! Don’t let the Irish restaurant next door fool you. Vinny McGuire’s knows how to make some delicious pizza, too. (There’s a new mcguire’s sushi place too – haven’t tried that yet)

My only complaint is the red lighting again. You’d think in this social media day and age that McGuire’s would want some good looking food pictures! I can never do it justice because of that damn light.

Pizzas are HUGE! Like, crazy huge. My husband did some serious damage on his half. Me, not so much. (I’m the pepperoni and onion side)

Vinny McGuire pizza

Vinny McGuire's slice

Vinny McGuire’s has totally nailed the cheese. It’s super cheesy without being stringy or chewy. The sauce is perfect and the crust is thin(er) and flaky.

I love it. If you’re out during lunch time, hit up Vinny McGuire’s – you’ll thank me.

Stinky's pie

Stinky’s Fish Camp – Santa Rosa/Destin 2015

I can’t even pretend to be unbiased here. Stinky’s has my heart. I love that Stinky’s is fun and funky, has great service, is “woodsy” chic on the inside, their t-shirts are awesome (I might own 5) and that the food is out of this world. <–It’s trendy but delicious and the menu is small! Which I love.

Stinky's bar

The only reason I could possibly dislike Stinky’s is because it’s always our last dinner in Destin. It signifies the end of paradise.

I could go on and on but I won’t – I’ll just give you some tasty pictures to drool over.

Spicy Bloody Mary

Stinky's bloody mary


Stinky's gumbo

Seafood Chowder

Stinky's chowder

Buffalo Frog Legs

Stinky's buffalo frog legs

Crab Legs

Stinky's crab legs

Stinky’s Stew (my husband’s fav!)

Stinky's stew

But, I think he really likes it because it comes with this delicious panini

Stinky's panini

Buffalo Shrimp

Stinky's buffalo shrimp


Stinky's steak

Fried Shrimp

Stinky's shrimp

Crawfish Pie – mine!

Stinky's pie

The most delicious thing ever. It’s a spicy crawfish pot pie. Comes out blazing hot so you need to break the crust as soon as it’s put in front of you. But, it buttery, creamy, spicy, tender baked crawfish, fried crawfish, vegetables – the best of all things. It is HUGE – so, if you want to share an item, pick this one! My husband finished with his food and tackled some of mine. I feel like I ate a ton but didn’t even make a dent in it.

Stinky’s isn’t IN Destin – it’s only about 22 minutes away, depending upon where you stay. GO! Also, it’s valet (free!) only. Which is AWESOME. Hey for a $5 tip, it’s worth not having to worry about parking. Another must – visiting the gift shop next door. Stinky’s shirts are fun (and, oh so, cute)

I love Stinky’s.

Lulu's fish sand

Lulu’s – Destin 2015

I only occasionally preface my posts and opinions but here it is – I was crabby heading into Lulu’s. I was sunburned. It was crazy hot. We needed to take our beach pictures that night and I was feeling ugly and frizzy (that would be the hair). I just wasn’t feeling it. It being anything.

Lulu's restaurant

In retrospect, we should have sat “inside” – not on the picnic tables on the deck. Even though it was shaded, it was still blazing ass hot.

Lulu's looking over the menu

The view was nice but…

Lulu's view

…all this “stuff” makes for a chaotic environment. Kids are running back and forth – playing and eating at the same time. Great that the kids are entertained. Bad that I wanted to throat punch their parents.

Please remember – bad attitude. ;)

First, I’ll address the service. We were greeted promptly. Our appetizer came out fast. Food, not so much. We waited a while. In the extreme heat. Got the food and we waited even longer to get our check and pay. Like 30 minutes longer. I was a server for a long time – newsflash, people want to pay and LEAVE. That’s the natural progression – you sit down, you eat, you pay, you leave.

Food – really, this is the first time that I was having difficulty figuring out what I wanted. I’m a menu stalker but nothing was really jumping out at me.

Lulu's cup

For an appetizer we got Nachos

Lulu's nachos

They were good because they had a LOT of melted, nacho-y cheese on them.

Fresh Gulf Red Snapper Sandwich

Lulu's fish sand

Mahi Tacos

Lulu's fish tacos

I didn’t order the fish tacos because they had the wrong items on them – cheese (wrong), black beans (wrong). My best friend liked them AFTER she asked for a side of the Lulu’s WoW sauce. However, you shouldn’t have to “fix” them.

Fried Crab Claws

Lulu's fried crab claws

Grilled Fish (of some sort – sorry!)

Lulu's grilled fish

The “Pa-menna” Cheeseburger

Lulu's burger

My son hated it. But, to be fair, he didn’t understand that it was going to come with pimento cheese and he wasn’t sitting next to me. ;) He grimaced the whole time and focused on his fries.


Also – sandwiches come with a bag of fries. Seriously? That’s such a pet peeve of mine. If I’m spending $14+ on a sandwich, you can give me some damn fries with it!

Hush puppies

Lulu's hush puppies

And, I got a Shrimp Quesadilla (I needed my mexican fix!)

Lulu's shrimp quesa

It was fine. It tasted like shrimp, cheese and grilled tortilla. I added hot sauce hoping that would help. Not really. I asked for a side of guacamole.

Lulu's guac

No – didn’t help either because the guac wasn’t good. I dislike tomatoes in guac. Remember, I’m cranky!

I DID ask everyone if they liked their food because I realize that I wasn’t in top form that night. Everyone (and that is everyone!) gave it an “eh”.

The ONE appealing thing about Lulu’s is their merchandise. Seriously, they have some cute things. We were the happiest at the gift shop – there were fans blowing, lots of fun items and at that point, we had been released from our hostage (waiting to pay) situation.

I’m unsure at this point, whether to give Lulu’s another shot. Truth be told, looking at their menu, there’s nothing that I “have” to have. So, we shall see in 2016.

Click to add a blog post for LuLu's Destin on Zomato








Hurricane crab cake poboy

Hurricane Oyster Bar – Grayton Beach/Destin 2015

Hurricane Oyster Bar is one of my favorite restaurants in the Destin(ish) area. It’s not on the ocean but it sits on a cute little pond in Grayton Beach. There’s also a cool alligator that lives there. It’s laid back. The menu is small but has some pretty innovative and original items on it. You can dine outside and it doesn’t get unbearably stuffy. And, they have the BEST soup in the whole world. That last one is totally true and everyone in my dining party is in complete agreement with it. We’re like senior citizens with our love of great soup.

Our service was awesome – I believe her name was Katie. I think. But, she was on top of things and cheerful. Even though she was serving in the extreme heat. I’d be a crybaby mess.

Oddly enough, none of us like oysters – so, yes, there’s other delicious food on the menu!

First – a couple of shots of the pond area

Hurricane lily pads

Hurricane alligator sign

Hurricane turtle

Nature is lovely ;)

Our food lineup…

Crab and Lobster Bisque

Hurricane soup

Perfect soup – all the adults ordered a cup. I was chatting with the server and she said that they made the soup a permanent fixture because too many people complained when they tried to order it and it wasn’t the soup of the day. Hey, if you’ve got a good thing, keep it on the menu. They did.

And, some drinks…yeah for happy hour! $1 amberbock!

Hurricane beers

And because I have a slight iced tea addiction

Hurricane iced tea

It was nice with our new “no lunches” eating plan. We just had a very light snack for lunch so we were all starving by dinner! Hence, the appetizers at most restaurants.

Hurricane Debris Nachos

Hurricane nachos

These are damn delicious nachos. The only thing missing is guacamole. But, I say that about most food items. ;)

Tuna Dip

Hurricane Tuna Salad wrong

Hold up! We accidentally got a tuna salad instead. It’s beautiful but not the…

Hurricane tuna dip

Tuna dip! I didn’t try it but our best friends really enjoyed it. I was too busy taking down the nachos.

Shrimp and Grits

Hurricane shrimp and grits

And, can you believe it? Not mine!

Crawfish Enchiladas

Hurricane enchiladas

Shrimp Tacos

Hurricane shrimp tacos

More shrimp tacos but altered a little

Hurricane tacos

Hush puppies

Hurricane hush puppies

What did I get since I didn’t get my usual shrimp and grits? I got the Crab Cake Po’boy!

Hurricane crab cake poboy

I loved the bread, I loved the brie and bacon. I even loved the fried green tomatoes. And, I really loved my side of grits. Personally though, I would have liked it better with shrimp versus the crab cake. The crab cake was kind of mushy – I needed something with a bite too it. I enjoyed it (especially the bites with the bacon) but next time I’ll see if I can swap out the crab cake for shrimp. My daughter, who ordered the po’boy too, felt the same way.

No matter where you go for dinner in Destin, chances are it’s going to take you 30 minutes to get there. Drive to Grayton Beach and try Hurricane Oyster Bar. It’s one of our favorites and I look forward to it every year!

BTW – it’s cash only (but there’s an ATM inside)