Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cirque Special: The Singing Dog Cafe

This week, the Cirque team took a break from our normal routine to visit the home of Michael Pickett, a renowned Cincinnati chef. Michael was kind enough to invite us into his backyard to sample one of the best burgers Cincinnati has to offer. Unfortunately for all of you, it's not on any menu. Fortunately for us, the meal didn't stop with the burgers. Adult beverages, amazing side dishes, and chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert—we were in Heaven. And just when we thought things couldn't get any better, Michael's dog, Nora, sang for us. Not kidding. Watch the video. We decided not to score Michael's burger since our readers can't partake, but we are officially giving The Singing Dog Cafe an Honorary Olivia for their outstanding burger! (Yes, that is the trophy we gave Michael.) Thanks, Michael and Nora, for a wonderful Sunday afternoon!

I have a new master plan/dream. Chef Michael Pickett combines powers with Sous Chef/marketing genius Leah Wise and together they open up a new lil' spot in Reading, Ohio. Spending a sunny afternoon in Michael's oasis-like backyard is a magical experience not unlike stepping thru the wardrobe and into Narnia. Throw in amazing side dishes sprinkled with pounds of the thickest bacon ever, sweet and savory cocktails, good friends, and Nora the singing dog.... I could've died a happy, lucky man that day. And that was before he pulled out the crab cake burgers and chocolate-covered strawberries.

Michael has perfected the backyard burger. Only Michael's adorable, singing dog outshined his delicious, juicy, and flavorful burger. The side dishes, including potato salad and warm cole slaw, added to the casual, relaxing ambiance. But, the champagne cocktail and chocolate-covered strawberry dessert added a touch of sophistication that surely makes his cozy backyard the envy of his neighbors.

I love Michael. I love anything he cooks. It was one of the most incredible eating experiences I have ever had. Ever.

If you told me I would have one of the best eating experiences of my life in Reading, Ohio, I probably would have called you a moron. My apologies. Holy smokes...what an experience. We started the adventure with DIY Bloodys and some fruity concoction that basically floored two of our members. Meanwhile Michael was popping in and out, spinning some great beats in the clubhouse while orchestrating what can only be described as baconlightenment. Hot slaw, a Bacon cheeseburger, and a Crab cake burger topped with moonbeam-nectar sauce (I made that name up) were on the plate. Thank you Michael. If you need anything done around the compound, let me know. I accept payment of slab bacon and moonbeam-nectar.

This week's stop was my new friend Michael's house. I will never be the same. He proceeded to get me tipsy right out of the gate with some berry Champagne goodness. From there he took my taste buds where they've never gone before. His burgers and sides were unbeatable. If this was a regular burger stop, we would officially be done. There isn't a better burger out there. I'm convinced. Thank you, Michael. Thank you for changing my burger view.

You had me at Peach Schnapps Champagne with floating berries (which I now call Cirquepagne). Follow that up with a delicious burger, amazing sides, and chocolate-covered strawberries, and yippee ki-yi-yay, mofo, it was a helluva day!

I'm sad for all citizens of Cincinnati that don't know Michael Pickett. That means that you probably haven't been invited to his house for the most amazing food the city has to offer. Michael, a classically trained chef, has figured out how to make regular everyday dishes the most delectable treats to hit your mouth. I think he has the best burger in the city, and maybe... just maybe... if we beg him, he'll think about opening a restaurant so that everyone can experience them.

The food was fantastic. The company was even better. Michael's backyard is a virtual Eden with everything you want at your beck and call, including Grand Marnier. Loved the herb test. Can't wait to be invited back again!

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