Santiago’s Grilled Chicken (Part 2)

Over the past couple years Sunset Drive has positioned itself as the new food-lovers destination in Waukesha.  From long tenured places like Michael’s Italian-American Restaurant, Le Caffe Bistro, and Murph’s to newcomers like Pat’s Rib Place, La Estrella Bakery, The Spot, Panos Grocery Store, and Santiago’s Grilled Chicken, Sunset Drive truly has something for everyone.

I dad a chance to stop by Santiago’s Grilled Chicken this weekend.   The new restaurant is located at 131 W Sunset Drive  in the place formerly occupied by Big Apple Bagels.  When you walk in you’ll notice the unmistakable smell of chicken being cooked over an open fire.  Santiago’s menu is pretty limited.  There are several chicken options ranging from 1/4 chicken plates to whole chicken meals.  There are also carne asada tacos and steak burritos.  I was there on a Sunday and I think there was a sign that they served Menudo soup on Sundays.

I opted for the 1/4 chicken meal and one asada taco.  The chicken was very good.  There was a very light spice mixture on the chicken, which was perfectly grilled resulting in a crispy skin and moist, tender meat. I didn’t specify white or dark meat so I got white.  Next  time I’ll be sure to ask for dark meat. Anyone can grill chicken at home for much cheaper so why would you eat it at Santiago’s? Because of the sides and sauces.  The chicken is served with really good refried pinto beans, rice, and an excellent cole slaw salad with corn mixed in.  The chicken is served with squeeze bottles of 3 very tasty sauces; a green chile sauce, a spicy red chile sauce made from (and I am guessing here) dried chili de arbol, and a cold southwest ranch dressing-like sauce.  You can drizzle the sauce on your chicken or peel off some of the meat, place it in the warmed tortillas (served with your meal) and drizzle the sauce into it.   The cool white sauce provided a nice contrast to the spicier red and green sauces.

I was a  tad disappointed in the size as the carne asada taco, as it was made form a very small tortilla (maybe 3 inches across).   The taco itself was pretty standard; meat, onions, and cilantro with a lime wedge.  It was pretty good but didn’t differentiate itself from carne asada tacos you can get elsewhere in the City (and was not as good as the Tacos de Lomo at La Estacion).  What made the size of the tortilla even more perplexing was that the tortillas served with the grilled chicken plate were the larger, standard sized corn tortillas.  Not that $1.99 is expensive or anything but increasing the size of the taco would be a nice gesture.

Santiago’s limited menu and lack of Margaritas and beer (at this time) may not endear them to the typical person going out for Mexican in Waukesha but the tasty, chicken, attentive service, and casual atmosphere should suit them well.

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Santiago’s Grilled Chicken

I noticed this place (still under construction inside) on the way home from Panos the other night.  It’s in the strip mall at the southwest corner of East Avenue and Sunset.  Anybody have any information on what it’s all about? When they are opening? What will they be serving?

Seems like Sunset is starting to attract some more (and interesting) restaurants.  From the stellar Pat’s Rib Place to the LaEstrella Bakery (also in the mall pictured above), Sunset is becoming a destination for Waukesha food lovers.

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Waukesha Restaurant News & Notes

Redstone has closed.  I never did make it in there.  We tried going once and there was a 45 minute wait, which would lead you to believe that the restaurant was doing well.  I guess not.  They are kind of off the beaten path so I think its more of a challenge to get people in there (though the Rochester Deli manages to do well).  I don’t know what will go in there next but a small upscale sports bar (like Fanatics in Milwaukee) would be kind of a cool thing to have downtown. 

The short-lived Lumber Inn 2, which was in the former Hardees/Lucky’s space on Sunset Drive, has closed and been replaced with a new restaurant called “The Spot.”  Sounds like someplace the Saved By The Bell gang would have hung out at.  Local blogger and EatWaukesha contributor, Mitch Jurisch, tried their Muffaletta Panini and raves about it. He said he’ll be reviewing the place for EatWaukesha soon.   I can’t wait to get over there and try one for myself.

With the smoking ban in place I am kind of excited to visit some places that I have avoided because of the smoke.  Number one on the list is Fuzzy’s on Main.  The smoke was never so bad for breakfast but if you wanted one of their awesome burgers for lunch of dinner you practically needed an oxygen mask.  Showering after eating at Fuzzy’s will no longer be required either.   I enjoyed an ice cold High Life over at the Golden Gate Chinese restaurant bar while waiting for take-out last week. This is another place that used to get really smokey.  For those who have never been in the bar at Golden Gate, you should check it out.  Golden Gate used to be a Supper Club and while the menu has changed to Chinese, the bar still feels like one you’d find at a Supper Club.  Its filled with regulars from the surrounding neighborhood who are watching sports, chatting, and enjoying cocktails, beer, or one of their signature Tropical Drinks.

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What to do with garlic scapes

Garlic scapes made an appearance at a minimum of three farmers’ market vendor booths a couple of weeks ago.  The scapes (pictured above)  are just the tops of the garlic that stick above the ground. They are a bit mellower than garlic and have a nice crunch, similar to a green onion.

I purchased some garlic scapes and broccoli from Roots Down Farm, one of my favorite vendors at the market. Roots Down is located in Milton, Wisconsin.  You can follow them on Facebook here.  Make sure to visit their booth when tomato season hits.  Their selection of heirloom tomatos is incredible.

Anyhow, I decided to blanch the broccoli and make a garlic scape vinaigrette.  I chopped the scapes and mixed them with some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice (I make my vinaigrettes, especially ones with citrus as the acid, at a 4:1 ratio of oil to juice).  The broccoli was blanched for about 2 minutes then shocked with cold water.  They were semi-soft but still retained their bright color and their crunch.  The scape vinaigrette brightened the flavor and added some more texture to the side dish.

I served this with a flat iron steak, which was not from the farmers’ market.  No matter what kind of meat you are making, I’ll share a killer technique I learned from Adam Perry Lang’s “Serious Barbecue” cookbook (he details the technique here under the “final thoughts” section).  The tip works well for all meats but is probably best for meat that you are slicing like a flat-iron, skirt, or flank steak, tenderloin, racks of lamb or prime rib. What you do is take some herbs and garlic or shallots (I used more of the scapes) and chop them up on the cutting board you plan on slicing your meat on. Drizzle the board with some olive oil and maybe even some balsamic vinegar or citrus juice (I used some lemon leftover from the vinaigrette).  Crack some black pepper and some sea salt on the board as well.  Then when you take your meat off the grill, set it atop the herbs and oil on  the cutting board.  Let it rest for a while (5 min for steak, 10 for tenderloin) and then slice.  Drag each piece through the cutting board mixture, which now has been infused with the juice of the meat.  This adds a while other layer of flavor.  When you are done drain the remaining juice/herb mixture into a bowl and drizzle over the meat.  You’ll be impressed at how much flavor this technique yields.
 

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Cooking Demonstrations at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books at UW-Waukesha

Just a heads up that the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books is being held this weekend (June 18-19, 2010) at the UW-Waukesha campus.  As part of the event there will be an outdoor cooking stage on Saturday. Here is the schedule of cooking events:

10:00am – 10:50am
Cooking Stage German Milwaukee: Its History, Its Recipes – Trudy Paredis
11:00am – 11:50
Cooking Stage Eating Locally: Making the Most of Fresh Wisconsin Veggies – Danielle Pacha
1:00pm – 1:50pm
Cooking Stage Using and Preserving Summer Herbs – Lori Fredrich
2:00pm – 2:50pm
Cooking Stage Thai Appetizers – Somchintana Thongthew
3:00pm – 3:50pm
Cooking Stage Smart 4 Your Heart – Margaret Pfiefer
4:00pm – 4:50pm
Cooking Stage Treat Your Pooch – Kate Bauman

For those who follow food blogs, Lori Fredrich (who is doing the Summer Herb demo) is the co-author of the always impressive Burp! Where Food Happens blog.

The Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books is a free community-wide event organized by the UW-Waukesha Foundation in cooperation with community groups that include the Waukesha County Federated Library System, the Waukesha Public Library, the Literacy Council of Greater Waukesha and Martha Merrell’s Bookstore.  

For more information, click here or read the Freeman article about the event.

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Waukesha One Bite at a Time: Carnitas from Panos

One of my favorite things about Panos two Waukesha grocery stores is their deli counter where you can get all kinds of things from Tacos and Sopes to Pozole and Menudo.  Some days you get lucky and you can get deep-fried chicharon (pork rinds) with the belly meat still attached.  One bite and you’ll never go back to the crappy snack bad rinds. 

However, one of my favorite things to get is their carnitas.  They sell the succulent braised pork in large chunks by the pound (or if you want they’ll make you some tacos or gorditas stuffed with it).  While it lacks the crispness you associate with carnitas, they make up in flavor.  Heck, you could probably crisp them up under a broiler if you wanted to but they are great just as they are.  Just pick up as much as you need along with some cilantro, onions, and soft corn tortillas and you have a quick Mexican meal that is sure to satisfy.  If pork’s not y0ur thing, the shredded beef is equally impressive.

Looking across the street from the Sunset Drive Panos parking lot at the Taco Bell with a line of cars queued up at the drive through, I cannot help but be kind of bummed that so many people don’t realize that just across the street is something far more authentic and flavorful. 

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Bike To Work Day Events in Waukesha

Sonia Dubielzig and Ron Stawicki, two local bicyclists and bloggers, have organized Bike To Work Day events in downtown Waukesha this Friday. Sonia and Ron both blog over at the new Bike Waukesha  and Ron has his own great blog, Ronsa, which documents rides and post ride meals at Waukesha restaurants.  According to the Freeman the events on Friday include free coffee and food from Cafe de Arts from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. with goodie bags and available mechanics from Cyclesmith.  After work from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., there will be raffles and socializing time at Cafe de Arts.  While you are downtown be sure to check out the Friday Night Live stages downtown.

 

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Recipe Idea For Early Season Vegetables & Mushrooms

I’ll confess that I am addicted to food magazines.  I currently receive Bon Appetit, Saveur, and Food and Wine.  I also had subscribed to Gourmet for years until its demise in 2009.   Every once in a while I’ll page through an issue and be amazed by how many recipes look so good that I just have to make them.  The June 2010 issue of Bon Appetit is one of those issues. 

One recipe in particular caught my eye.  It was a recipe for Grilled Asian Chicken, Bok Choy, Shiitake Mushrooms, and Radishes.  The idea was that you make this Mango Sesame dressing and you use it as a marinade and serving sauce for the dish.  You also can use it as a salad dressing later in the week or (my idea, not Bon Appetit’s) as a dipping sauce for vegetables.  

Here are links to the recipes

MANGO SESAME DRESSING

GRILLED ASIAN CHICKEN & VEGETABLES

ASIAN CHICKEN NOODLE SALAD WITH SUGAR SNAP PEAS

I had some zucchini in the fridge so I used that instead of the peppers.  The rest of  the stuff I gathered up at the Waukesha Farmers’ market.  A nice size bundle of Bok Choy set me back $1, same with the green onions I added to the recipe.  A bunch of radishes were only $2 (I think).  The most costly element were the Shitakes.  I had expected to go to the grocery store to procure them, or used the dehydrated ones in my pantry.  I was excited when I found a vendor that was selling fresh, Wisconsin grown Shitakes.  I grabbed the last carton of them for $5.  I also spotted the first sugar snap peas of the season, perfect for dipping into the extra sauce or making the salad suggested by Bon Appetit.

I should have snapped a picture because all of the grilled vegetables and chicken looked awesome piled atop a heap of Basmati rice.  It tasted even better than it looked.  If you like grilling and love Asian flavors combining sweet, salty, and a tad spicy (depending on how much crushed red pepper you add), I think you’ll find this is the perfect recipe for your early season farmers’ market purchases.

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The bagel gap

It’s the weekend. You wake up in the morning, look around at the fam and ask “you guys hungry?” They are. Nobody seems to feel like cooking, though. Besides, the fridge is looking a little bare, as your weekly grocery shopping trip is scheduled for later that same afternoon. That’s when it hits you: I’ll run out for a dozen bagels! You throw on a baseball cap to hide your bedhead and hop in the car. Your local bagel establishment is only minutes away and satisfaction will soon be yours.

That is, unless you live in Waukesha. There’s no bagel shops here.

It’s true that bagels can be found at any grocery store. But those aren’t the fresh, chewy, often still-warm bagels that you get at a shop which specializes in them. And even though the local cafe might have one or two sitting in their bakery case, it’s not the same and you know it.

Since the closing of Big Apple Bagels on Sunset Drive, what we have here my fellow Waukeshonians is a bagel gap. Brookfield, New Berlin, Hales Corners and Wauwatosa all have bagel shops–sometimes more than one–and Milwaukee itself is simply stupid with them. Even Oconomowoc has a Brueger’s. It’s embarrassing.

You’d think that with all the wonderful eating opportunities brought about by the recent downtown renaissance you’d be able to get a dozen fresh-baked bagels on a Saturday morning. But no.

What’s up with that?

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Weekend Happenings in Downtown Waukesha

Some of you may not venture down to the far West End (of Main Street) as much as other parts of downtown but if you don’t you are missing out, especially this weekend. That that area is starting to see even more reinvestment from recent projects like the Maple & Main building, which houses Katydids and two incredible (and available) condos that I was able to finally see last weekend, to the recent expansion of Magellan’s (M2) which is serving pizza some are calling some of the best in Waukesha.  Well you can add two more businesses at the West End to the mix.
First up is the Waukesha Tattoo Company @ Galleria Edge also check out their blog at http://koolfooltattoo.blogspot.com/) located at 463 West Main Street, who will hold its grand opening and ribbon cutting on Saturday May 22.  The place will open at 10 with the ribbon cutting at 10:30.  The open house is from 10am to 5pm and the opening reception, featuring the Katie & Andy Show, an art exhibit opening featuring local artists Katie Musloff and Andy Fletcher. The show will run from 5-22 to 6-26.  The Waukesha Tattoo Company @ Galleria Edge had the incredible Flux Design do their interior, which I think is a first for Waukesha. Crazy Train beef and dogs will also be out in the parking lot all day.  The serve up some Chicago-style dogs, gut-busting beef sandwiches slathered in Nacho Cheese and some awesome fried pickle wedges.
Next up is the Moxie Beauty Lounge which is a salon and spa also located at the West End of Main Street. They will also be having a grand opening on Saturday from 12pm to 8pm. They’ll be having food, drinks, and specials on services and products with a cook-out from 5pm-8pm.
Also its Week 3 of the great Waukesha Farmers’ Market!
The weather will be great so get out and enjoy downtown Waukesha this weekend.

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