Caruso’s in Angola, IN

2435 North 200 West
Angola, IN 46703-9147
(260) 833-261

Starving Auctioneers Rating: 3 1/2 Gavels out of 5

Northeast Indiana is not known for its culinary scene. It is however known for corn fields and a crippling economic depression brought on by the collapse of the Recreational Vehicle (RV) market. Who would have ever guessed that bottomless well of money would dry up. On the way back from the first ever joint Michigan State Auctioneers Association and Indiana Auctioneers Association Summer Conference which happened in the truly amazingly named town of Michigan City, Indiana, Tim Kruse and Peter Gehres surveyed the complete economic devastation and decided to stop for dinner and help the area out. Tim knew just the place. The only issue was that he also knew this eatery often closed early in response to Northeast Indiana’s increasing zombie, vampire and undead population. A call was made and through Tim’s vast network of political and business connections the fine folks at Caruso’s Italian and American Restaurant agreed to serve two truly Starving Auctioneers if they were seated by 8:45 PM. With a deadline to meet Peter put his mighty truck into high gear and the pair raced due east toward a date with destiny or at least butter soaked breadsticks.

Sliding into their booth just at 8:45 PM they were served by one of the lovely and talented Maggie who was also a Caruso family member and a talented musician on a musical sabbatical of some sort. She was very kind in that she tolerated all manner of inane questions and comments on the menu. A mighty feast of heavily Americanized Italian food was ordered and a frank discussion of all things auctioneering began. However much like the World War Two era poster, “Loose Lips Sink Ships,” the Staving Auctioneers were not alone in their conversation. The gentleman in the next booth could not help but overhear talk of auctions and as he finished his meal he politely interrupted the vigorous conversation to offer his classic automobile transport services. He shared the features, advantages and benefits of his service to transport autos from coast to coast. His information is located at the bottom of this review should you be in need of such services.

Dinner concluded with deserts and more frank though still irrelevant conversation on the state of politics, morality and Fort Wayne, Indiana media personalities. However it was at that very moment that a large party was seated exposing the vial corruption of ‘we stop serving at 8:45 story.’ The management was clearing looking for any excuse not to serve us. Given the cost of bread sticks that might have been a pretty wise move on their part.

Classic Car Mov'n by Jim Beam (419) 466-6063 - Tell him the Staving Auctioneers sent you!

Third & Hollywood in Columbus, Ohio

Third & Hollywood
Grandview Heights
1433 W 3rd Ave
Columbus, OH 43212

Starving Auctioneers Rating: 6 Gavels out of 5

(Note: This review was submitted by one of the newer members of the Starving Auctioneer team, Rich Kruse)

Gunshot Wound Prompts Dinner Out

At first glance, this might looks like it doesn’t fit into a Starving Auctioneer Blog but looks, as we all know, are deceiving.

The day started as they all do, with a list of people to call and list of things to review. By 10am the phone was ringing and not in a good way. CBS Channel 10 was reporting on a naked man crawling out of an abandoned apartment building with a gunshot wound. As luck would have it, the complex is one this writer is currently managing and double luck, the guy was only shot in the butt. The day began to look up, I guess, as I discovered he was robbed and bleeding but probably going to live to sue me for something.

How, you ask, does any of this have anything to do with being a Starving Auctioneer? It doesn’t. Not at all……Yet.

As the day progresses Melissa, my wife and business partner, decides that we need to go out for a good meal and relax after a very stressful day. Lo and behold she has a gift certificate for 2 free dinners (no booze included) from Third & Hollywood in Grandview Heights (Columbus) Ohio. And where did we get these gift certificates? From participating in a wine tasting and charity auction at the Columbus Zoo, of course!! Forgetting for a minute that the free dinners were part of the 6 pack of wine I accidentally bought for too many hundreds of dollars while paying more attention to my wine glass than the lot number I was bidding on, I agree that dinner out is the way to go.

Pulling up to the restaurant I see something that I absolutely love about going out, but rarely see in Columbus Ohio---the valet guy---and he is standing behind a sign that says “complimentary”. So far, so good. Upon entry at 6:30 on a Wednesday, I see that the place is surprisingly bumpin however getting a table took only a few short minutes even though we didn’t have a reservation. Still goin’ well. Very quickly we were approached by Jennifer who both looked like one of my high school friends little sisters and explained the menu and took our drink order. Still-sill goin’ well!!

For an appetizer we order 3 biscuits that ended up being the best darned biscuits I have ever tasted. Flakey, mixed with shredded cheese and chopped green onion, topped with garlic butter and served right out of the oven.

We quickly moved on to an artichoke that appeared to be steamed, then halved and grilled to give both grill marks and a smoke flavor; served after being lightly seasoned with sea salt and presented with a creamy Creole seasoned dip.

For the main course Melissa had a “hanger steak”, which we know as a skirt steak, cooked to a perfect medium and sided with red and yellow roasted peppers accented by warm goat cheese and black beans. For my main course, the establishment presented the meat special of the day which was absolutely one of the best southwestern (or otherwise flavored) rib eye steak I have ever encountered. The only drawback to the meal so far was the mashed potatoes. These were probably off the hook as well, but I tasted the steak first which made everything else a distant second in flavor.

The cocktail and wine list, while small, was also exceptional. Melissa and I chose a 2006 Powers Meritage from Columbia Valley, Washington. At $45 a bottle, this was an exceptional choice for the meal and was not your every day Meritage. It was more like a cab/shiraz blend from the region and, above all else was excellent. We took the bottle home so we could find a retailer and buy a case or two.

Desert for me was a cold Sambucca while Melissa enjoyed a chocolate and vanilla ice cream surprise with what appeared to be candied walnuts on top.

Without the dinner gift certificates, the bill would have been about $165.00 before tip however the meal and experience would have definitely have been worth paying full freight. From dropping off the car to the smiling wave goodbye as we exited the building, everything was excellent. I would definitely rather go to this local joint than most steakhouses I have experienced in my day, and I have been to quite a few.

I walked in a starving auctioneer in need of a relaxing dinner and walked out an absolutely content auctioneer who was ready for bed.

Gavels? 6 out of 5. No question.

Sakai Japanese Bistro in Troy, OH

Sakai Japanese Bistro
2303 W. Main Street
Troy, OH 45373
(937) 440-1302

Starving Auctioneers Rating (food): 3 1/2 Gavels out of 5
Starving Auctioneers Rating (service): 1/16 of a Gavel out of 5

A Tale of Two Boats

Miami County, Ohio is not a place for boats. Don’t let the name fool you. Miami County is as far from the ocean and ‘boat culture’ as one can get. But that didn’t stop Rich Kruse and Peter from having some boating adventures of a different kind. Both men were in the area to visit a perspective client about listing a property for sale. On the way back to the interstate Rich asked a simple question, “Did you see that?”

“See what?” Peter replied.

“Obviously you didn’t see that.” Rich stated and put the car into an immediate u-turn.

‘It’ was a handyman, do-it-yourself, nautical adventure (see picture). It was sitting partially in a barn in the middle of a typical Ohio corn field. We can all be thankful for that because if it had been in the water it would have been a Coast Guard rescue waiting to happen. Not being marine surveyors it is possible the boat was ok but it looked slightly out of proportion (top heavy) and as if one wave or wind would roll it over. It also looked plain funny sitting where it was and completely bizarre.

After enjoying the local attractions the dinner bell was calling we found an equally amazing place to eat: Sakai Japanese Bistro on the outskirts of the culinary capital that is Tory, Ohio. Some of you might have seen Troy, Ohio if you happened to look to your left or right at exactly the right moment as you sped down I-75. It is easy to miss in the unchanging landscape that stretches from south of Toledo to northern Cincinnati.

Helen of Troy was said to have a face that launched a thousand ships. On this day there was only one ship that Rich and Peter had in mind and it was a sushi boat. The food was surprisingly good for being a stone’s throw from a freshly harvested wheat field and the chief was very personable and friendly.

What was NOT good was the absolutely clueless server. Josh (names not changed) must have come from the family of boat builders up the road…at least we hope that explains it. He had as much clue about the menu as Rich and Peter had about landing on the moon. The notion of even having a server was ridiculous as both men sat at the sushi bar and watched the boat fill with piece after delectable piece. All Josh had to do was keep the ice tea coming and even at that he failed miserably. It was not even that Josh was bad just that he was completely clueless as the nature of the food being served at the restaurant, food service in general and his role in this transaction. Arriving well after the lunch rush Josh had all of 1 table to wait on. In his defense he is likely earning money for I-Tunes and living off tips in between trips to get more Silly-Bandz.

The service resulted in a Starving Auctioneer first: Split rating. It is shocker but shocking times call for shocking measures.

Shogun Legends in Wall, NJ

Shogun Legends
1969 Route 34
Wall, NJ 07719
(732) 449-6696

Starving Auctioneers Rating: 4 Gavels out of 5

Regional stereotypes are an unfortunate thing and often truly jade our mind. Therefore it was a pleasant surprise when Greg Belhorn and Peter ventured to the Jersey Shore to pick up pottery, glassware and antique items and failed to witness any of the lewd and ruckus behavior demonstrated on the myriad of cable TV programs that have made the Jersey Shore the subject of much national humor. Failed to witness until dinner that is…

After an afternoon of hard work loading a van full of items out of a basement for upcoming summer auctions the two ventured to Shogun Legends in Wall, New Jersey. In somewhat Ohio redneck fashion both changed out of their sweat soaked shirts in the dark parking lot but if in anything that was in an attempt to do the Buckeye State proud and not looking like a couple of farmers. Shogun Legends was an impressive looking place both inside and out and Greg had done some research before leaving on where a couple of Staving Auctioneers might be eat after a long day. The restaurant was packed and it was unfortunately full of walking Jersey Shore stereotypes much to Greg and Peter’s Midwestern amusement.

The somewhat befuddled waiter explained that Shogun’s was known for its New York sushi. That was fairly confusing as it is generally held that sushi originated in Japan but what do a couple of hicks from Ohio know? Greg ordered a selection of sushi, sashimi and rolls that helped contribute to overfishing in all the world’s oceans (by rule Starving Auctioneers are nothing if not equal opportunity consumers, primarily carnivores and environmental bandits) and when that massive sushi platter failed to completely fill the hold another round was ordered. The sushi was truly excellent and the in-restaurant debauchery of the locals was both entertaining and enlightening. New York Sushi turned out to be some of best reviewed to date and much better then Hilliard, Ohio sushi that is for sure.

Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery in San Antonio, TX

Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery
218 Produce Row
San Antonio, TX 78207-4554
(210) 225-1262

Starving Auctioneers Rating: 4 Gavels out of 5

(Note: This review was submitted by an original Starving Auctioneer, Tim Kruse)

On a rare, cold morning in San Antonio, Texas, two auctioneers and food connoisseurs found themselves deciding where to dine for breakfast before a long day of auction work. Tim Kruse was a foreigner of the two, and was driven by John Aguilard of Worldwide Auctioneers to get a taste of his native San Antonio's history and of course breakfast.

John's choice was Mi Tierra Cafe, a staple San Antonio restaurant which prides itself in never closing down. Literally. They never close. 24/7, 365. Inside, Mi Tierra offered an eclectic mixture of architecture and Mexican culture. From the stately barroom area reserved for night life, to the colorful breakfast room that reminded me of a morning cafe joint in the Midwest (except for the year-round Christmas lights). The whole place had a spirit of down-home distinction.

Founded in 1941 by the Cortez family, John regaled Tim with nostalgic stories from years ago of after school dance parties when the cafe was just a one room hole in the wall. If the old walls and shimmering streamers could tell tale after tale of memories and friendships made.

The menu was simple but comprehensive with “regular” breakfast choices as well as original Mexican morning dishes. Tim ordered the Mexican plate—the Chilaquiles Famosos covered in ranchero sauce with thick, crispy bacon and refried beans on the side. Chilaquiles is simply scrambled eggs with tortilla chips mixed in for a yummy, crunchy combination. John opted for the Mi Tierra Special with over-medium eggs and shredded carne de puerco (pork). John suggested that breakfast would not be complete without a also having a Barbacoa Taco—and he was right. The sweet, juicy, steamed beef had great flavor and melted like a chocolate bar in my mouth. Tim indulged in a cup of Mexican Chocolate. Drinking the classic Mi Tierra beverage gave a nice, warm finish to rather large breakfast.

Back-room Deals

Apparently, the place is infamous as a hang out for local politicians. While getting a tour by John, the point was proven when we walked into the back meeting room and found ourselves interrupting an important looking meeting of important looking people. Before leaving the room, though, I got a good look at the giant murals of Selena, Santana and other famous people covering the walls.

The Bakery

Following the scrumptious feast, things had only just begun... We made our way back out to the lobby area where a twenty-foot long, glass showcase displayed a wide array of Mexican pastries, cookies, breads, desserts, and doughnuts that would make any auctioneer(even a full one) salivate. So with the excuse of feeding the office staff we bought a giant box filled to the rim with delectable goodies, plus an extra bag for my giant Creme Puff which made a great post auction snack!

The next time you're in the Alamo City stop by Mi Tierra(meaning My Land). It's a tourist hot spot and a fantastic place to have a fun, tasty and unique eating experience any time day or night all year through... oh yeah, the auction went well, too.

Evergreen Chinese Buffet in Washington, PA

Evergreen Chinese Buffet - Map
125 Murtland Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 299-7008

Starving Auctioneers Rating: 2 1/2 Gavels out of 5

Nothing says Belhorn Auction Service Road Trip like a steaming cauldron of unnaturally bright red sweet and sour sauce. When Greg Belhorn is at the wheel of the magical mystery pottery mobile (an unmarked, white E-250 van) and the dinner bell rings it is time to stop at the nearest Chinese buffet. Greg and Peter were returning from a pick up in New Jersey and not even the lack luster reviews online could discourage their mighty hunger. As aside all the reviews they found could describe almost any Chinese Buffet and they were not going to let online negatively dissuade them. The large polished sign out front beckoned as they exited I-70 in Washington, PA.

Arriving after the lunch rush most of the staff was eerily engrossed in watching Texas vs TCU in College World Series Super Regional. It was pretty entertaining to watch a group of young Asian waitresses watch the Texas pitcher work his way out of a jam. It was true moment of Americana. Immigrants watching college baseball live in a buffet in Western Pennsylvania. What a country!

As unbelievable as it may seem each Chinese Buffet is different. Greg, being an expert on really only two things: American Art Pottery and Chinese Buffets, clarified what made this buffet different from all the rest. This buffet he explained had an unusually large selection of appetizer items and relatively few true entrées. Greg then went off into a diatribe on how this reflected the socio-economic differences between Washington, PA and other towns that have fallen victim to this review. You were fortunate to have missed it.

An anthropological aside to the dining experience was when your two reviews exited off the interstate at Belle Vernon, PA fifteen minutes earlier in search of what turned out to be a nonexistent Chinese Buffet (thanks Garmin!) and found a most unusual occurrence. There crossing the street appeared to be two primordial dwarfs. Having seen a number of TLC specials on the subject it very interesting to see someone with this condition in person and to see them crossing the street in town that the worlds seems to have forgotten was even more amazing. One would hope that TLC doesn’t catch wind of this blog and start following your reviewer around.

Don’s Pomeroy House in Strongsville, OH

Don’s Pomeroy House - Map
13664 Pearl Road,
Strongsville, OH 44149
(440) 572-1111

Starving Auctioneers Rating: 5 Gavels out of 5

Fine dining is not something that Starving Auctioneers do nearly enough. There are number of reasons for this including past restraining orders, lack of class and capital and most of all the simple lack of time. It is hard to fit in a multiple course meal when you are running from one auction to another and even harder to stop talking long enough to eat it.

Mike Brandly, Peter Gehres and their partners in both business and life, Lisa Mantle and Paige Gehres respectively, stopped auctioning long enough to dine at the legendary Pomeroy House in Strongsville, Ohio. Lisa and Paige are extraordinary auction clerks besides being extraordinary people and are the power behind the legends (legends used very lightly here). It is no ordinary clerk that can understand the pure gibberish that Mike and Peter spout each auction and turn that into something the normal people can read and thus pay for when it comes time to settle up. Both women were over due for a good meal. They typically have to settle for hot dogs and nacho’s from the food truck at the auctions.

Don’s Pomeroy House is set in a very old building and serves tried and true meals in an upclass format. Everything at the Don's Pomeroy House was excellent and there is little chance to go wrong on the menu. Of special note was the Chip and Dip appetizer. It does not sound like much but it was outstanding and you are making a big mistake to pass it up.

Desert was a different story however. After a finely prepared and served dinner an equally fine desert is in order… that is except for Mike. Mike has this issue with Vanilla Ice Cream. The issue is he eats mountains of it. Mike’s dietary food pyramid sports a good quarter for Vanilla Ice Cream. Of course at a place like the Pomeroy House they have such a thing but why would you order that given the other outstanding options…why? Well Mike did and the waitress felt the need to repeatedly reassure Mike that it was really good and that he would not disappointed … because it was the LAMEST thing on the menu and he would most certainly have desert envy.

Despite poor desert choices on the part of some Don’s Pomeroy House is always a good choice and it should be your choice if you find yourself starving south of Cleveland.

Casa de Kruse in Lewis Center, OH

Casa de Kruse
Somewhere in Suburbia
Lewis Center, OH

Starving Auctioneers Rating: 5 Gavels out of 5

There are a number of reasons to attend your state auctioneer’s association gatherings. Networking, education, speakers, competitions, the list goes on. However under pain of torture most auctioneers will admit their attendance is really to have dinner with their fellow auctioneers and see whom they can impress the most with the amount of business they are doing or claim to be doing and to show off their shiny new Auctioneer Championship jewelry.

Robert Mayo graced the Ohio Auctioneers Association's Summer Seminar with his wit and wisdom last week and it would have been improper to not treat him to some Columbus hospitality (which means I-270 traffic jams, road construction and suburban sprawl). Peter magnanimously volunteered Rich Kruse to do all the cooking and hosting. Michael Hoffman offered his services as a valet and social secretary which left Peter with little to do but talk and eat which happens to be right in his wheel house.

Rich Kruse has never appeared in this review before and it is unlikely he will do so regularly. He does not appear to eat or at least consume calories in a fashion that is of this Earth. Rather he relies on a concoction of confrontation and coffee to fuel his Martian power cells. Peter has been working with Rich since the first of the year and in all their travels and auctions Rich has yet to offer to stop long enough to eat or even get a bottle of water. In many ways Rich is either the best Starving Auctioneer or worst…everyone around him is always starving.

Dinner at the Kruse’s suburban paradise consisted of a plate stacked with grilled steaks sufficient to feed most of the 4th Infantry Division, portabella mushrooms with crab cakes and some potato concoction prepared by Rich’s smarter, more attractive and all around better half, Melissa Kruse. Melissa knows well that potatoes are ALWAYS enhanced by generous amounts of cheese, heat and Campbell’s soup.

The conversation was tougher to follow then a chicken on LSD and thus attempting to recount it here would be a challenge. Every attempt was made to avoid talking about politics or religion or the third rail of auctioneer talk: ONLINE AUCTIONS. In that regard the dinner was a total failure. The only respite was Robert’s tales of a young capitalist in Las Vegas or Peter’s quasi lecture on the Amish as a truly modern society. Suffice to say everyone agreed that Robert Mayo needs to visit the Buckeye state more often.