Memphis & Kansas City: short BBQ tour

Here in NC we love our bbq, and are very proud of it, but, believe it or not, other parts of the country are known for ‘cue too. Two places that might come to mind first are Memphis and Kansas City. Lucky me recently traveled to both cities, so you know what I was going to be eating! Here’s what I managed to fit in during my brief trip:

Memphis:

Central BBQ – Based on the research I had done, my first choice was Payne’s, but they were closed on the Monday I was in town, so this was my fall back option. I ordered it to-go, but this place had the look and feel of a chain restaurant, which I wasn’t expecting. I ordered a pulled pork plate with beans and cole slaw, plus a large slice of coconut cake (made by a local bakery). The pork was really good, tender and smoky, and I thought the sauce was excellent. It had a unique quality that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. The beans were rather mushy and kind of bland The coleslaw was really coarsely (almost randomly) chopped, but tasted nice and creamy. The meal came with a throwaway dinner roll. I saved room for the cake, which was very good.

Kansas City:

Oklahoma Joe’s – This place is in a gas station, but operates like a more established restaurant, with plenty of tables and friendly staff coming to check on you and bring you some wet wipes when you’re done. I ordered a combo plate with pulled pork and ribs, plus creamy coleslaw (they also have the option of “spicy” coleslaw) and french fries. Here the pulled pork had good flavor and was exquisitely tender, but it had an unappealing sliminess. The ribs too were nothing to get excited about in my opinion. The sauce tasted very generic to me, like your standard jazzed up sweetened ketchup. The meal came with a huge paper bag of fries and one or two pieces of texas toast buried under the ribs. It was way too much food, and I didn’t come close to finishing it.

LC’s – This place restored my faith in Kansas City as a bbq mecca. Actually, it did more than that – this was probably the best ‘cue I’ve ever had. At LC’s they do it more of an Arthur Bryant’s style, with smoked sliced meats piled high between some regular old white bread. (I’d been to Bryant’s twice many years ago, and I recall it too being outstanding) The restaurant itself is a bit run-down, and it’s small inside, but it is worth the drive out to the SE corner of the city. Inside, there’s a large vault-like smoker chamber, all blackened and charred, behind the order counter, from which your meat emerges to be sliced to order. I opted for the pork (again!!). The sandwich, if you can really call it that – it’s virtually impossible to lift up and eat with your hands – was awesome. The meat comes out minimally sauced, and you can add more at the table (it’s good), but you hardly need to. The fries weren’t the greatest, so I briefly entertained the idea of ditching the fries and getting another sandwich, but that would have been a bit gluttonous, right? If I’m ever back near Kansas City, this is where I’m going.

Trip to Chicago

Last week I was in Chicago for some training for work.  My wife was able to come along for a few days, and we were really lucky to have nice warm weather and the chance to eat some great food:

Sunday brunch:
Nellcote – The dining room is heavily stylized in a borderline gaudy French/New Orleans/flamboyant kind of way.  Think plenty of chandeliers, elaborate wallpapers, and French bistro chairs, mixed with glossy white/orange bar stools, pop artwork, and maybe a sofa or two.  You wouldn’t expect them to have a mill in the basement that’s used to grind their own flour, but they do.  A plate of tiny accoutrements came out first (included with the prix fixe deal).  It included some breads (ok), cheeses (fine), poached figs (good), prosciutto (good, obviously).  House-made apple jam and butter were fine, but the lemon curd dip was excellent.  I ordered the pain perdu and my wife got the quiche lorraine.  Again, the plates were highly stylized.  My dish was three parallel rectangular blocks of fried bread, each with a hefty dollop of creme chantilly on top, plus a bunch of diced apples and some maple syrup.  There wasn’t enough syrup and the whole thing was actually rather bland.  I used the remnants of the lemon curd to liven up the dish.  My wife’s quiche was a super-thick individual pie, but it too was nothing to get excited about.  Overall: neat space, mediocre food.

Sunday dinner:
Giordano’s – “Chicago Classic” stuffed pizza, with pepperoni, green peppers, onions, and mushrooms.  Ridiculously thick and cheesy, decadent and delicious.

Monday breakfast:
Vanille Patisserie (French Market) – Two stuffed croissants: spinach/ricotta and sweet cream.  The latter was the clear winner here, but both were good thanks to the excellent flaky pastry.

Monday lunch:
Wishbone – Our training course instructor took us to this Southern soul food joint.  The cornbread to start off with had good flavor, but was a bit dense.  The beef brisket in my sandwich was superbly tender, but I kept having to add more and more of their dark red bbq sauce.  I didn’t care much for the vinegary coleslaw.

Monday dinner:
Avec – A small precious wooden cube of a restaurant.  Yes, the stools were uncomfortable and it was crowded and loud, but the food was top-notch.  Of course I had to get their signature dish – chorizo-stuffed bacon-wrapped dates with roasted piquillo pepper-tomato sauce.  These were incredible, with an impeccable balance of flavors.  The sausage stuffing was amazing.   We also got the “deluxe” focaccia, another of their standard items.  This was a large flatbread, kind of smoky and charred, filled with a soft creamy mixture of cheeses (taleggio, ricotta), plus truffle oil and herbs.  It was excellent.  Next, marinated chicken thighs, with rice, squash, and apples.  Again, very good, if not quite as exciting, but by this point we were getting a little full.  And finally, warm burrata with grilled eggplant, smoked salt, and lobster mushrooms.  This was not the way we would have chosen to end the meal, and we were really too full to eat much of it.  It was very good, but I wouldn’t order it again.  Still, overall it was an excellent dinner.

Tuesday dinner:
Frontera Grill – This topped Avec.  It was really stellar.  The chips and guacamole were simply exquisite.  My wife and I both thought that the chips were the best we’d had, and the two small accompanying salsas were also nice.  This appetizer is expensive at almost $10, but it was a lot of food for just the two of us.  The menu at Frontera is large and it was very very difficult for me to make a selection.  I went with the “street food trio”, which included potosinas, tlacoyos, and sopes.  The dish came out as three very artfully plated appetizer-sized portions.  I can’t recall all of the details, but they were all delicious.  My wife ordered the pork tacos al carbon.  This came with some outstanding tortillas.  The meat was bathed in a rich sauce that kept me coming back for more.  We also shared a side order of the stewed mushrooms, which come served in a tiny cast iron skillet.  These were creamy, spicy, and delicious.  Wow! – a great meal.

Wednesday dinner:
Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba – not my choice, but it was good.  I went with a large group from my training course, so we ordered a lot (!) of tapas.  Some of them were very good, like the steak with bleu cheese and homemade potato chips, the bacon-wrapped dates (again!!) with apples, the empanadas, the grilled octopus with roasted tomatoes, the tomato sauce/goat cheese dip (served with good crusty bread).  Others were not amazing but competently prepared: a potato/onion omelette/quiche-like thing, fried calamari, shrimp with lemon and garlic, short ribs and mashed potatoes.  The croquetas were too cheesy; they reminded me of a fried mozzarella stick.

Thursday breakfast:
Glazed and Infused – some of the best donuts I’ve ever had.  The maple-bacon long john (seemingly a new standard in the world of gourmet donuts) was great.  It was rivalled by a perfect old-fashioned pumpkin spice donut.  Finally, the salted caramel was also very good, but was covered in an overwhelming amount of chopped peanuts.

Thursday dinner:
Au Cheval – Another small, crowded restaurant, but with a very different feel than Avec.  This place was super dark and richly appointed – sort of a decadent swanky diner that features an unapologetically hedonistic menu.  It almost felt like a bar first, restaurant second, but the quality of the meal left little doubt that this place takes food preparation seriously.  I went with the fried bologna sandwich (pictured above, and which I had seen gloriously depicted on a magazine cover as the “best sandwich in Chicago”).  Did I want a fried egg piled on there too?  I demurred.  Nonetheless, the sandwich was huge – of course – and awesome.  Salty, fatty, cheesy, messy.  It was a very memorable sandwich, and one I’d like to eat often if it could be made about 1000 times healthier.  I also got to try the fried chicken, which incorporated honey to achieve a sesame-chicken kind of effect, and some grilled tomatoes, which had a nice sprinkling of coarse salt on top.

Friday lunch:
Grange Hall Burger Bar – Whereas Au Cheval captured the current fad for rich heavy food, Grange Hall aimed squarely for the bearded hipster vibe.  This place was all about vintage finds, rustic wooden tables, heavily tarnished silverware, flannel plaid shirts, cool music, and “down home, old fashioned” food and friendliness.  I mean, they’ve got hay bales out front to cordon off the small outdoor dining area.  Both restaurants had a studied and deliberate aesthetic, to be sure, but, thankfully, in both cases the food really worked.  I ordered a burger with white cheddar and caramelized onions.  Oddly, it came piled high with plenty of raw red onion as well (easily removed).  While not over-the-top great, it was spot on – juicy and very satisfying.  The fries were awesome – super extra crispy thin wedges of russet potatoes.  I also tried the onion rings, which were astonishingly light and feathery.  The desserts were certainly tempting (homemade pies and ice cream), but not so good.  The pie crusts were way too thick.  My slice of pumpkin pie was slightly chunky – clearly not made from canned pumpkin.  That’s a nice touch, but it didn’t make for a better pie.

I feel so fortunate to have experienced an awesome week of eating like a king in Chicago, both with my wife and with the nice folks I met in my training course.  I did a lot of research on the culinary scene of the city before I went, and my high hopes were fully realized.  Whatever pounds I packed on during the week were definitely worth it!

Oakleaf (Pittsboro, NC)

Oakleaf in Pittsboro has got to be one of the most beautiful restaurants in the Triangle area.  Located in historic Chatham Mill, this place has it all: aged wood floors, enormous windows, simple but elegant wooden tables and chairs, fabulous pendant lighting, classicly understated white dinnerware, stunning metalwork including a massive old sliding door…  I could go on and on, but the point is this: the entire aesthetic, down to the simply printed menu, has been executed in exquisite detail.  It makes for a lovely dining room, with tables not too close together, a gorgeous large centerpiece table, and a fine balance of formal and casual.

But does the food match the decor?  It certainly aims to.  We visited for brunch on a recent Saturday, and entree selection was exceedingly difficult – everything sounded just right.  The menu is what I’d call American-locavore-modern.  I went with the potatoes bravas/fried egg/chorizo gravy ($9) plus a biscuit ($2).  My wife opted for the “aged gruyere/sage/fried egg/extra cheese sauce” sandwich, which came with a side of fries ($9).  Another in our party ordered the challah french toast ($8, I believe).  We were pleasantly surprised when a small bowl of freshly fried beignets arrived at our table shortly thereafter.  These were soft and delicate, and just a touch underdone and undersweetened – but that’s pretty nitpicky – they were quite good.  The rest of our food took a very long time to arrive, even though we were one of the first customers of the day.  My plate was sort of an unattractive mess of potatoes covered in a spicy reddish brown gravy.  It was ok, but I wouldn’t order it again.  The biscuit was large and included a very small amount of herbs – not really even enough to taste; it was pretty average.  My wife’s sandwich, on the other hand, was very good.  I’ll also note that it was huge, featuring two very thick slices of bread.  “Dressed” in cheese sauce, it was most certainly a fork-and-knife affair.  Anything with that much cheese would probably be good, but the fresh sage brought a real vibrancy to it.  The fries were outstanding.  The challah french toast was actually a little plain, despite a (too) small amount of excellent peach-ginger compote accompaniment.  This dish was also enormous, with four very thick half slices of bread.  Like the sandwich, it probably could have been enough for two people.  The bacon on the side was fine.

So, though it wasn’t an exciting meal, it really was an exciting place to eat a meal.  The prices are terrific for brunch, considering the portion sizes.  Service was terribly slow in our case, but that wouldn’t stop me from coming back.  Heck, I’d come back again and again just to sit in that awesome space.

 

Backyard BBQ Pit (Durham, NC)

I know barbecue joints can be divey – you almost expect that – but it can add to the personality of the place in a positive way.  Not so with Backyard BBQ Pit, a small roadside restaurant in bustling Research Triangle Park.  This place, it must be said, is just kind of dumpy.  Below the food counter, where servers load up your plate from cafeteria style metal trays, the yellowed wall is scrawled all over with marker.  This feature bears an unfortunate resemblance to a gas station bathroom stall.  Combined with the dated decor, it gives an overall impression of neglect that is not very inviting.  In fact, I nearly turned around and walked out upon entering.  But I pressed ahead, in hopes that some good food would distract me from the ambiance.

The menu is straightforward in a classic bbq joint sort of way.  I ordered a chopped pork bbq plate ($6.49), which comes with two sides.  None of the sides looked particularly appealing, so I opted for mac&cheese (for my daughter’s sake) and green beans (to get some veggies in).  I think the mac&cheese has a different price than other side items (as the restaurant’s website claims), or else the coleslaw I also asked for raised the total price a little, but regardless it was definitely an inexpensive way to feed the two of us.

The food was just so-so.  The barbecue was good enough, but pretty unexciting.  It was pretty coarsely chopped, which I like, but it wasn’t terribly smoky, though they reportedly cook over wood.  There are a variety of sauces you can add if you choose.  I was not a fan of the bland, super-finely chopped coleslaw.  The hushpuppies (it came with three) were large and sweet but had likely been under a heat lamp for a while.  The macaroni and cheese was cheesy and and a little greasy.  I let my daughter eat most of that; she certainly had no problem with it.  The green beans actually would have been quite good if they hadn’t been heavily oversalted.

So yeah, I crossed it off my list of local bbq places to try, but I really doubt that I’d go back.  If I did I might try the ribs – a lot of people seemed to be ordering those.  One thing is for sure: I would insist on getting take-out.

Kindred – Kickstarter Campaign

My wife, the inimitable Michelle Smith, is helping establish Kindred, a boutique and retail incubator in downtown Raleigh that will feature the work of emerging North Carolina designers.  It’s going to be awesome, and Michelle has been working super hard at it, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.  Michelle has a vision for a beautiful store, and, to achieve that, Kindred is raising money through a new Kickstarter campaign for the upfit of the space.  With your help, the space will feature really cool modular shelving, nice lighting (to replace the low-hanging fluorescents), and lovely signage.  So check out the link to the campaign at the right and help bring something really cool to the Triangle. The goal is to be able to open the store by the end of October.

As this is a food blog, note that one of the rewards for your donation of a certain amount is a sampler pack of 3 nut butters from Big Spoon Roasters.  Let me tell you, their stuff is delicious!

AND, on another food related note, on Friday October 5th, from 6pm-9pm, there will be a cool event at Kindred featuring some local products for sale, including Sweet Water Ice, Slingshot Coffee, and, last but not least, 100 free donuts from Rise Biscuits & Donuts!!

Enrigo Italian Bistro (Cary, NC)

Cary’s updated Waverly Place shopping center has a lot of nice features – lovely fountains, movies and concerts on the lawn, a small children’s playground, a Whole Foods outpost that is not insanely crowded like Raleigh’s Wade Ave. branch – but it’s a work in progress, and it what it really needs are some great tenants to bring excitement (and people) to the area.  A few decent restaurants and shopping options would help the developers realize their purported goal of emulating the success of Raleigh’s North Hills.

One of the first handful of tenants that is in place is Enrigo Italian Bistro.  It occupies one of the prime spots in the shopping center, with a flowing, expansive, indoor-outdoor setting that allows diners a pleasant view of the courtyard’s grassy field and fountains.  Large glass panel doors that almost always remain wide open mean that the restaurant is really half inside, half out.  The decor is semi-upscale, and the waiters wear all black, but it’s more of a family restaurant than a romantic date spot.

The menu features Italian classics with few, if any, suprises: pastas, pizzas, and panini.  Prices are on the high side, especially for appetizers (for example, fried calamari/shrimp for $12.99).  My wife and I recently split a margherita pizza ($10.99) and a spinach salad ($5.99).  First, there was house-made bread to start off with.  It had a great crumb and was nice and soft, but could have used a touch more salt.  The accompanying olive oil/balsamic vinegar dip was insipid.  The spinach salad was disappointing.  It featured thinly sliced red onions, roasted red peppers (just a few thin strips), and “shaved” parmesan.  The cheese was plentiful, but it was more like little crumbs and tidbits.  The whole thing was brought down by a watery, flavorless balsamic vinaigrette dressing.  The pizza was big, probably around 14″ in diameter, and very thin.  It would be too much food for one person, but not quite enough for two.  The crust was sort of a feathery light crackery-crisp affair that was pleasant enough, but the rest of the ingredients were nothing to get excited about.  The cheese reminded me more of the pre-shredded variety than delicate fresh mozzarella, and the amount of basil on the pie could not have added up to even one leaf.  My wife says the pizza has changed dramatically since Enrigo first opened a few months ago; then, she was thrilled by it, but not this time.

I’d be willing to give Enrigo another shot, because it offers such a pleasant setting, and to try one of their pasta dishes.  And for sure I’ll be back to Waverly Place, especially if they can attract some more good businesses and restaurants.

The Cookery – Front Room Grand Opening

On September 15th, from 12pm – 3pm, The Cookery will be celebrating the grand opening of it’s new event space called The Front Room.  Having had a chance to check out the building – which is directly attached to the Cookery’s kitchen – a couple of months ago (while under construction), I”m sure it’s going to be a lovely space and an awesome addition to the Triangle food scene.

The idea of the Front Room is to host pop-up restaurants, specialty food events, culinary workshops, and private parties, among other things.  It can accommodate up to 200 people, and includes a mezzanine and outdoor patio, as well as a full bar, audio/visual equipment, and, of course, access to the kitchen facility.  This will allows chefs, caterers, and others to create all manner of fantastic food events.

Members of the Cookery who will be at the opening serving up food will include Chirba Chirba, Monuts Donuts, Pie Pushers, Sympathy for the Deli, Triangle Raw Foods, and The Parlour.  There will also be wine and beer tastings, live music, and more.

Best of all, the grand opening is also serving as a fundraiser for the Durham Crisis Response Center’s Emergency Shelter.  Proceeds from food sales at the event will go towards remodeling the shelter’s kitchen.

I hope to see you there!

La Farm Bakery & Cafe (Cary, NC)

croissant image courtesy of flickr

La Farm is one of the Triangle’s premier bakeries, and one of only a very few that make good artisanal loaves of bread (Loaf, Rue Cler’s Bakery, Guglhupf, and Chicken Bridge Bakery are a few others that come to mind).  So this is one of the best places to come – and folks throughout the Triangle  do – to get a good baguette, a loaf of crusty ciabatta, or a croissant.  Or, of course, for one of many delightful treats.

Despite the linguistically hybridized name, this is a thoroughly French boulangerie.  And, though it’s set in a typical Cary strip mall (seemingly far from everything), it actually manages to evoke that small Parisian cafe feel.  It’s charming inside, with delicious looking baked goods all around, and a recently expanded cafe section that spills over onto the narrow sidewalk out front.  Even if the bread wasn’t worth the trip, you’d want to come back.

But enough about the bread for now.  The cafe is tempting in its own right, with breakfast and light lunch/dinner fare on offer.  The menu features a number of sandwiches, salads, and egg dishes – nothing unexpected really, but solid choices, and a superb value for most selections.  You can get a large sandwich with a side of chips for just $6.95, and kids meals are just $2.25.  I’ve had several of the sandwiches, and, it must be said, while the bread is great, the sandwiches are merely average.  I recently had one with smoked turkey/homemade creamy slaw/peach-chipotle bbq sauce (one of this summer’s special menu additions) that was rather boring.  There just wasn’t much flavor.  My wife was similarly underwhelmed with her “Mediterraneo” (fresh mozzeralla/roasted tomatoes/basil/balsamic vinaigrette (+added chicken, $1.95) on foccacia).  Sandwiches are served with a side of homemade hearth-baked potato chips, which are crunchy but a bit lifeless; they are greatly improved by dipping in the accompanying buttermilk ranch dressing.

I’ve yet to try the egg-based or breakfast dishes, but many of them sound appealing.  Then again, if I were here for breakfast, I might just choose a buttery croissant or one of their outstanding white chocolate-cinnamon scones (I’m not a fan of the triple berry variety).  Speaking of white chocolate, everyone seems to love La Farm’s white chocolate mini-baguette, and I am no exception.  So even if you’re a little disappointed by your meal, pick up a pastry or loaf to go, and you won’t be let down.

Note that La Farm also sells at the Raleigh farmer’s market on the weekends.

Reliable Cheese Class: Cheese 101

I love eating cheese, but I consume it mostly in ignorance; I hardly know anything about it.  As with wine, coffee, or chocolate, jumping in to the world of cheese can be intimidating – there are just so many different kinds.  How does one know what’s good?  Where does one even begin?  A great starting place would be at Reliable Cheese Co., a small cheese shop in downtown Durham.  The area’s only European-style cheese counter, this place features a great selection of products, an uber-knowledgeable and friendly cheesemonger (Patrick Coleff), and, for the novice or the aficionado, cheese classes.  

These are not cheese-making classes, which might entail hours of just standing around waiting, but cheese enjoyment classes, where you can learn about the basics, or about cheeses from certain countries, or about pairing cheese with other ingredients.  You get a healthy dose of in-depth knowledge of the products and yeah, you get to eat a bunch of cheese.   Sounds like a fun time to me!

As neophytes, we recently attended Reliable’s most popular class, Cheese 101.  I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was great.  There was a group of about a dozen of us, seated around some wooden tables at the back of the shop.  The tables were set simply with carafes of water, baskets of sliced fresh crusty bread, and, for each person, a small plate of 6 different cheeses, artfully arranged.  Patrick lectured professorially for a while about the process of cheese-making, including a good deal of scientific detail, and then, as the tasting began, we discussed the various types of cheeses and their qualities.  We tried:

  • Fresh chevre (Vermont) – soft, pillowy, and buttery
  • Crottin (North Carolina) – lighty aged goat cheese with a bit more punch
  • Grayson (Virginia) – a “smelly” soft cheese similar to Taleggio
  • Roncal (Spain) – kind of like manchego or pecorino romano
  • VintageVan Gogh (Wisconsin) – an aged gouda
  • Valdeon (Spain) – delicate, complex blue cheese

I really tried to pace myself with the bread and cheese (as we were planning on going to eat afterwards), and felt a little bad for not finishing all of it, but, if I had gone for it all, it would have almost been enough for a light supper.  

Finally, Patrick talked about storing and serving cheese before concluding and offering us 10% off of anything in the store.  I spotted some good-looking buffalo mozzarella and some gourmet meats that I hope to come back for.  And I’ll have to return, because, after learning a bit about cheese, and trying some of the good stuff, I think I’m ready for Cheese 201!

Foster’s Market (Durham, NC)

image courtesy of mapandmenu.com

If Bull Street Gourmet is the promising young rookie of market/cafes, Foster’s Market is certainly the steady old veteran.  Established in 1990, Foster’s remains a fixture in the Triangle’s dining scene.  The Durham location is fairly sprawling and expansive, with loads of outdoor seating on the shaded porches and picnic tables.  Inside, it has the feel of a giant coffee shop.  I wouldn’t say it’s cozy, but it’s very casual, and it’s the kind of place where you could easily linger with a group of friends for a few hours.  Indeed, it almost seems deliberately designed as the ideal meeting spot for a university study group.

Navigating your experience at Foster’s can be a little bewildering the first time.  Entering the space, you pass by the cash registers to find shelves and racks of pantry items, gourmet groceries, and such.  Turn around, and you are confronted by their enormous menus overhead as well as display cases of prepared foods and baked goods (of which there are many).  Menu additions and daily specials are posted in various spots; it’s hard to know where to look.  The staff is friendly but not especially helpful in figuring out the ordering process.  You won’t be able to see everything from where you stand (there are just so many options), so it’s probably best to browse around a bit first.  Anyway, once you figure what you want, they’ll record it on a little notepad, and you can go find a seat.  They’ll bring your food out to you, and you bring your receipt (along with any groceries) up to the register to pay when you’re finished.

The menu is extensive and covers all manner of breakfast and lunch options (soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, entrees, and even pizzas at the Chapel Hill location).  It’s hard to conceive of how they can reliably keep that many ingredients on hand, but, amazingly, everything generally tastes fresh.  I ordered a BBQ turkey sandwich (pulled turkey breast with Foster’s West Tennessee BBQ Sauce, Carolina cole slaw, house-made bread & butter pickles on a brioche bun,  $7.95).  I enjoyed it well enough, but there was no contrast in the dish.  The cole slaw did not offset the meat (they were sauced similarly, a la Lexington style BBQ), and together with the lackluster bread (which resembled a supermarket potato bun), the whole thing tasted of a plain generic one-ness.  My wife ordered “The Cubano” (pulled mojo pork, ham, Swiss, pickles, lettuce, mayo and yellow mustard on grilled soft baguette, $8.95).  Again, I was unimpressed with the bread, but this was the better sandwich.  The pork had good flavor and was well seasoned, and there was just the right amount of the bright mustard.  For side dishes, we had a a summer succotash (corn, lima beans, cherry tomatoes, priced by the pound) that was lovely with a delicate vinaigrette.  A side of lime-marinated raw veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, squash, red onion, grated carrot) was fine if uninspiring.  Resisting the baked goods is nearly impossible, as there is such a variety, and they all look delicious.  I took home a large piece of what I thought was coconut cake ($4.50 if I recall correctly), which turned out to be a key lime cake.  It wasn’t bad, but it was too sweet, and I definitely could not eat all of the frosting.

To sum it up, Foster’s Market is a good place for a relaxing meal with friends or to pick up a quick baked goodie.   They also offer pre-made dinners to go and catering services.  It might not dazzle you, but it’s unlikely to really disappoint you either.  So I’m sure Foster’s will be around for years to come, regardless of whatever newcomers join the scene.