On Friday, I blogged about looking for a new fish fry.
While awaiting some brilliant suggestions from you, dear readers, the nearby Blue Tomato Cafe, 2215 E. North Ave., dropped off some lunch treats and Lai Lida Cookies from Glendale dished up dessert. Both were unexpected and delicious surprises.
Blue Tomato -- I know some of the owners, I have to disclose, and their child from my child's school and day care, though I don't know them well -- brought over two kinds of chili and some "Euro Pockets."
Someone snatched up the meat chili, but I had the vegan. Although my wife looked at it and said, "that looks hot" -- and I agreed -- it wasn't searing at all. It was, however, tangy and tasty and I plan to go get some for lunch soon, despite the fact that I'm not a huge chili fan.
I also tried two of the flat filo dough sandwiches they call "Euro Pockets." I liked the "Savory Greek" with feta, but I really enjoyed the "Popeye," with spinach, pine nuts and cheese.
When I heard that Blue Tomato has breakfast to go, I was especially pleased. That solves a recurring problem for Andy Tarnoff and me around here. Where to get a good, fast breakfast to take away.
Afterward, I tried the unbelievable Red Velvet Badger Bite cookies that Lai Lida brought. These chunky cookies are soft and moist and the ones with the vanilla chips are to die for. The butterscotch chip version (called Dragon Bites) are nearly as good and, though I didn't get to try the peanut butter chip ones, my co-workers who did manage to nab those, were also well pleased.
Later, Meg McKenna at the Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce tweeted a suggestion to check out INNovation, the restaurant at the Crowne Plaza Hotel on the corner of Watertown Plank and Mayfair Roads. I'd seen the sign often and was curious, so I took the kids over for dinner with dad.
We got there early, right when it opened at 4:30 -- did I mention I had the kids? -- and we were among the first three groups to be seated.
Folks were friendly and the dining room, although not especially large, is comfortable and clean and we got a table with a great view of the fire raging on the patio fireplace.
The cod fish fry is $10.95 for all you care to eat and includes a soup and salad bar and fries or potato pancakes. The salad bar isn't huge, but I really enjoyed the chunky New England clam chowder and the cheese and crackers kept the kids happy until their meals came.
The cod was flaky and nicely battered and I'd go back for it. The potato pancakes were, I have to admit, disappointing: thin, flat and fairly flavorless. Next time, I'd get the fries.
However, our server (I wish I remembered his name) was great. He was attentive and eager to keep the kids happy, bringing us numerous refills of applesauce and encouraging me to use my salad bar access to get them cheese and crackers. When I ordered one kids meal for them to split -- neither seemed all that hungry -- he brought two and charged me for one.
Although I usually weigh my rankings heavily on the potato pancakes, the staff and the experience -- including the value -- at INNovation was so good that I'm willing to give them a pass on the pancakes.
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