Monday, July 27, 2015

Buddy's Burgers, Breasts, and Fries- Exton. Pa


Buddy's Burgers, Breasts, and Fries has four locations, West Chester, Media, Kennet Square, and the one in Exton that we went to. 

I ordered the 'Olive the way you move' burger at $6.75 which was a double patty burger on a Martin's bun. It had taziki sauce, cucumbers, lettuce, tomato, onions, and olives. The overall taste was burger meets gyro, and it worked quite well. My only complaint is the aluminum foil presentation. While this keeps in the heat and prevents a mess in the bag for take-away orders, it also allows the moisture to saturate the bun making for a messy burger even when eaten in. That said, it was a very good burger.

The hand cut fries were excellent, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. They have malt vinegar, as well as about a dozen different hot sauces. 


I would try them again. They have a website for more information. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

South Beach Grill- Wrightsville Beach


South Beach Grill sits in one of the busiest sections of Wrightsville Beach in a former bank building. They have been there for 17 years and their cuisine is Southern beach casual. We went after church and found a parking spot in their small private lot. There was a nice breeze, so we opted for dining on the patio. 

After looking through the menu I went with the Rueben at nine bucks, even though the shrimp and grits looked interesting. It was a darn good Rueben. There was just the right balance of lean meat, cheese, sauerkraut, and dressing on a wonderfully toasted (read that as having lots of butter on it) bread. 

Teresa got the Makers Mark salad at nine bucks. It was spinach, blue cheese, apples, and pecans. She was quite pleased with it. 


Nice place, friendly service, good food, and reasonable prices. I can see what they have been around for so long. Stop by sometime when you are on Wrightsville Beach. They have a website for more information. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Wilmington Brewing Company


Next stop on the Wilmington Beer Trail was a visit to Wilmington Brewing Company on Kerr Ave. They started out as a small homebrew shop a few years ago and have grown to a 11,800 square foot facility. They still have a large homebrew supply section, and a nice bar area with a whole lot of beers on tap. 


They do not offer flights, but they are happy to let you sample any beer you want, so I tried three. First up was Blair's Breakfast Stout which weighed in at 7%. It was one of the finest Breakfast Stouts I have tasted and I took some home. Next up was the Jalapeño IPA. Nice and clean with a touch of heat. Last I tried the Sneaky Goose, a double IPA weighing in at 9.6%. I stopped there because I was driving, even though the samples were small. They do offer a short glass for about three bucks and that would be the best way to sample a few as the small samples don't really reveal the full flavor of the beer. 


So I opted for a crowler (can/growler) of the Blair's Breakfast stout. Now the crowler is something new, and cool. It is a 32 ounce can that they fill from the tap and pop a top  on. Next it goes onto the machine shown below where it is spun (you can see that in the photo) and sealed. A quick wipe off and it is labeled. Since the crowler is two pints, they just charge you for two pints of beer, in this case twelve bucks. 


I don't know what the shelf life is, but that didn't matter in this case as I popped the top as soon as I got back to the house. It has a nice taste, a hint of smokiness, and holds up well. Again, one of the finest breakfast stouts this writer has sampled. Next time I am going with an IPA, and maybe a few others.


They have a website for more information. Check them out, I know I will be there a few more times.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Bento Box- Wilmington, NC


Bento Box is in the Forum on Military Cutoff. We stopped by on a Thursday evening and while the interior is nice and well appointed, we decided to sit outside. 

After perusing the menu I decided on the Vietnamese ginger beef at sixteen bucks. It was quite good with nice flavor notes. Teresa went with the Bun Vietnamese noodle salad at eleven bucks and it was also excellent. Our daughter and son-in-law had the vegetable tempura and Japanese fried chicken and they were pleased as well. 


I would go again. They have a website for more information. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Michael's Seafood Restaurant- Carolina Beach, NC


Coming back from Carolina Beach to run an errand I stopped off at Michael's Seafood restaurant for a quick bite. It is a nice place with friendly service and reasonable prices. I went with the fried oyster Po'Boy at nine bucks. It was quite good. My son-in-law had a tuna melt that he said was good as well. 

They have a website for information, menus, and directions. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

La Costa- Wilmington, NC


La Costa has a few location in the Wilmington area, we stopped by the one on Market Street in Porter's Neck. I was truly impressed as it was more authentic, and delicious, Mexican food at really good prices.

I had the shrimp tacos, under ten bucks, that came loaded with fresh shrimp. My wife had a combination platter, and my daughter got the fajita special. All three came to thirty bucks and all three were excellent. Service was good too. Stop by and see what I mean.


Monday, July 13, 2015

Good Hops Brewing- Carolina Beach, NC


There has been an explosion of micro-brewers in the Wilmington area over the past year or so and visiting them all looked like a nice little summer project. First stop on the beer trail was Good Hops Brewing on Dow Road in Carolina Beach with my son-in-law Allen. 

They have been around for about a year now, longer if you count their affiliation with Lookout Brewing in Western NC. When we stopped by on a Monday afternoon they had four of their own beers on tap, as well as three guest taps. 


We sampled all four of their brews and they were all quite good. The smoked ale had a nice taste that almost reminded me of a hint of bacon. I was assured that there was no bacon in it though. The Boardwalk Brown was one of the best brown ales I have tasted. The Pleasure Island Pilsner, and I am not a pilsner fan, was excellent and could make me a convert. It had a nice crisp taste. The Golden Ale was also good.  


After introducing myself, and telling them that I was going to write an article, we got a private tour of the facility. I was quite impressed. It was clean and had room for expansion, something they need to do as they are having trouble keeping up with the demand from local restaurants. 


The brewery does not sell food, so that allows them to be dog friendly and they are family friendly too. Don't worry, you can bring your own food with you and people have even had a pizza delivery come for them. No distracting televisions here, but they do have board games, a nice outdoor area, and friendly people. 


There are even plans to take the back area and turn it into a hall for parties and weddings. 


We decided to take home some beer and each bought a quart. I went with the Pilsner and Allen with the Smoked Ale. What they do is charge you for the two pints and add a buck for the mason jar. Cheap since the plisner was only three bucks a pint. 


Okay, first stop on the beer trail was a winner. Go there and see for yourself. They have a website for directions and information.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fork n Cork- Wilmington, NC


Fork n Cork sits on Market Street, near the Dixie Grill. It is a small place and is well appointed with  plenty of wood and brick. We got there on a Saturday night and they were packed. The hostess took our name and phone number and said she would call us when a table became available. In less than fifteen minutes we got a call and headed back to be seated at the bar. 

I had heard that their burgers are quite good so I decided on the Hot Mess which had bacon, jalapeños, grilled onions, blue cheese, cheddar, lettuce and tomato on a brioche bun for eleven bucks. It came with house cut fries. I decided to pair it with a Dirty Bastard from Founders. The burger was excellent and all of the ingredients married perfectly.


Teresa went with the special burger, the MoRockStar, at fourteen bucks. It was a turkey burger with mint, cumin, coriander, paprika, cheddar, cherry-olive chutney, mustard green, and sweet potato fries. She switched out the regular fries for a side salad for an extra two bucks. I had a taste and it was amazingly good. 

Overall, a cute place with very good food and service. We'd go back and I suggest you try them sometime. They have a website for more information. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Halligan's Public House- Wilmington, NC


Halligan's has two locations. One is on the Masonboro Loop and the other, the one we went to, is in Lumina Station on the way to the beach. The main reason we decided to go was that my wife did some research for a cheap place to take a bunch of people. She found that they offer half-priced burgers on Monday. That was enough for me to make the decision. 

The restaurant is nice inside, big and open with a huge bar. It was a perfect day so we ate outside. The service was excellent. 

I decided on the black and blue, cajun seasoned and topped with blue cheese. It came out on a nice fresh kaiser roll with some of the best fries I have had in the area. At the regular price of ten bucks it was a darn fine burger. At the five bucks I paid it was an amazing burger.

The rest of our orders were equally good. It was the same price to get the kids a regular burger as it would have been for a kids meal. Five adults and two kids ate for under $45. 


We will defiantly be headed back, and you should try them. They have a website for more information. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Greenwich Wine + Food Festival 2015 Lineup Announced


GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES HONORED CHEFS AND MUSICAL TALENT FOR SERENDIPITY MAGAZINE’S FIFTH ANNUAL MOST INNOVATIVE CHEFS GALA 

Thirteen Local Chefs to Be Honored; Legendary Reggae Band The Wailers to Perform

Tickets Now On Sale for Entire Weekend of Festivities

Greenwich, CT – The fifth annual GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL, presented by Serendipity magazine (www.greenwichwineandfood.com) and benefitting Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp and The Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation, has announced the thirteen local chefs to be honored on Friday, September 24th at the Most Innovative Chefs Gala at the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn.  The Serendipity 2015 Most Innovative Chefs will be celebrated as they prepare their signature dishes and inventive fare for guests. 

This year’s list includes:

Alison Awerbuch, Abigail Kirsch at The Loading Dock, Stamford, Conn.

Beck Bolender, One Twenty One, North Salem, New York

Francesco Casu, Golden View Firenze, Greenwich, Conn.

Renato Donzelli, Basso Café, Norwalk, Conn.

Nick DiBona, Madison Kitchen, Larchmont, New York

Erik Erlichson, Bistro Versailles, Greenwich, Conn.

Stephen Lewandowski, Harlan Social, Stamford, Conn.

Brian Lewis, Darien, Conn.

Pat Pascarella, Bar Sugo, Norwalk, Conn.

Matt Storch, The Chelsea, Fairfield, Conn. and Match, Norwalk, Conn.

David Raymer, Strada 18, Norwalk, Conn.

Luke Venner, Elm, New Canaan, Conn.

David White, Vespa, Westport, Conn.

“We are so lucky to have such extraordinary culinary talent in our local community,” said Suni Unger, Founder & CEO of Unger Publishing, Serendipity magazine and the GREENWICH WINE+FOOD Festival.  “The creativity of our honored chefs, as well as all of the foodie talent in our area, has made dining out in this region a fun and unique experience, whether it’s for an elegant evening out with friends, a romantic meal for two, or for a family dinner on a Sunday night.”

In addition to a Silent Auction to raise money for the selected charities, the evening will also feature a performance by The Wailers, the legendary reggae band formed by the late Bob Marley in 1969, which has sold over 250 million albums worldwide.

The Festival Most Innovative Chefs Gala is just one event in a blockbuster weekend lineup; the first Champagne Dinner Under the Stars event will take place on Thursday evening to kick off the festivities, and on Saturday, the Culinary Village, the center of the entire GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL, will offer tastings and demonstrations, celebrity chef book signings, the fourth annual Burger Battle, the second annual Top Bartender’s Showdown, Barbecue & Bluegrass, and a live musical performance by Grammy and CMA award-winning country superstars Little Big Town. 

Tickets are now on sale through www.greenwichwineandfood.com or by calling 203.588.1363.  The event’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GreenwichFoodWineFestival, will be announcing restaurant participants and schedule updates, as available.

All events will be held rain or shine, and anyone under 21, including infants or strollers, will not be admitted.  Animals are also not permitted.

GREENWICH 2015 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL

The GREENWICH 2015 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL is a three-day event that benefits The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a nationwide organization dedicated to providing healing to children and their families coping with cancer, sickle cell anemia and other serious illnesses, as well as The Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation. The festival is hosted by Serendipity magazine, in conjunction with other event sponsors.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ten Upscale Burger Chains Compared

Over the past decade or so new types of burger restaurants, more upscale than the Clown, the King and the Redhead, have popped up in an attempt to elevate America's meal. They sit somewhere between fast food and casual dining and I call this style 'Nouveau Burger Cuisine'. Please feel free to use this term, just give me credit for coining it. Some are more upscale than the others, and most claim to use healthier ingredients. I have ranked them in the order of my preference and you may disagree with me. Don't take it too seriously, what follows is simply my opinions and very little separates them. Please note that not all of the new chains are listed, just the ones I have been to. Please feel free to leave a comment, just no spam or links.

Smashburger
Smashburger was started by Tom Ryan in Colorado in 2007 and now has over 300 locations in 32 states and five countries. They have regional favorites to match local tastes, and some darn good shakes. The fries are good, as are the sweet potato fries, and they make a nice side salad as well. Two can eat well for under twenty bucks. Smash is my favorite overall on this list for taste, and consistency. I have been to the Ramsey and Paramus locations.  

Zinburger
Zinburger is more upscale than the rest, and pricier too, but well worth every penny of the eleven bucks for the burger shown above. They are also the smallest of nine with only eleven locations. The burger is cooked to order and they gave me a perfect medium. They have a very nice wine selection, as well as craft beers and they have excellent table service. I went to the Paramus location. 

Habit Burger
The Habit Burger, better known as The Habit, started in 1969 in Irvine California and has grown to over a hundred locations, with some rapid expansion going on right now. They are publicly traded on NASDAQ under the name HABT. They also got the number one in Consumer Reports last year. Their signature burger is the Charburger. I went to the Fair Lawn, NJ location. 

Elevation Burger

Elevation Burger was founded by Hans Hess in California in 2005. They have grown to fifty locations here in the States and the Middle East and offer The beef is grass fed, and free range and the fries are cooked in olive oil, giving them a wonderful crispy taste. Two can eat well here for under twenty bucks. I went to the Willow Grove, Pa location. 


Jake's Wayback
Jake's Wayback Burgers started in Newark, Delaware way back in 1991 as Jake's Hambugers and they have grown to just under a hundred locations. They have a burger of the month, and a shake of the month so I like to try them when I go. Some locations also offer tap beer. I have been to the Thorndale, Pa location and the Monroe, NY one. 


Fuddruckers started in 1979 in Texas and has about 180 locations. It was started by Phillip Romano who went on to start Romano's Macaroni Grill. There are a few unique things about the. One of the coolest things  is the fixings bar where you can add pretty much anything you want, as well as melted cheese for your fries. The other cool thing is the availability of elk, bison, and Wild Boar, and I have tried them all. On the beef burgers you can choose 1/3, 1/2, or 2/3 pound patties. The buns are fresh-baked in house. I have been to four locations, two in Jersey, one in Middletown, NY, and in Myrtle Beach. I find some inconsistency between the restaurants and I feel that the one in Parsippany is the best. 

Shake Shack
Shake Shack was started in 2000 by Danny Myer in NYC and has grown to over 60 locations. They have also gone public so you buy stock in the company. They have a cult following and I so want to love them, but I find them a bit bland. I will give them another try and add some toppings to see if they improve the flavor. They do make killer shakes. I have been to Stamford, King of Prussia, and Ramsey. 


Burger Fi
Burger Fi has close to sixty locationsm, close to half of them are in Florida. They have a prime burger that looks interesting, and hot dogs too. I went to the one in Poughkeepsie, NY, right near Vassar College. They have a very nice craft beer selection there.

BGR
BGR- The Burger Joint, has 21 locations. They feature dry aged beef cooked to order over an open flame. While the burger looks rather pedestrian in the picture, it was good quality meat, properly seasoned, and close to the medium I ordered. Overall, it was quite flavorful. I was at the Danbury, Ct location.

Five Guys
Five Guys Burgers and Fries is the biggest, with well over a thousand locations, and one of the oldest, having been founded by Jerry Murrell in Virginia in 1986. It remains a family owned and run operation with Jerry's five sons, the five guys, involved in the business. They have a long list of toppings available for your single or double burger and you can even skip the meat and get a grilled cheese. The fries (regular or cajun) are very good and they give you a copious amount. I recommend sharing an order and they have malt vinegar to dip. 

If Zinburger is the most upscale, Five Guys is the closest to fast food. I don't mean that in a bad way, I do like them, even though I put them last on the list. They are way better than any of the big chains. The presentation is more rustic, read that as being served in aluminum foil to retain the heat. I've been to dozens of locations in New York, North Carolina, Virginia, and Connecticut and have find them to be consistent.   







Saturday, June 13, 2015

Elevation Burger- Willow Grove, Pa


Elevation Burger was started about a decade ago in Falls Church, Virginia and now has over fifty locations. Most of them are on the East Coast with a few in the Middle East. The founder, Hans Hess, came up with the idea of serving higher quality, grass-fed, meats and it was a novel concept at the time. They are what I like to call nouveau burger cuisine, those new slightly upscale burgers chains that have been popping up over the past few years. 

I had the Nyack location on my short list, but found there was one on the way down to our daughter's house so we stopped by the Willow Grove, Pennsylvania location to see what it was all about. Inside it has that modern burger place look, clean and neat. The menu is simple and easy to read and the service was friendly and helpful. 


I ordered the Elevation Burger, a double patty, with cheddar cheese and original toppings, lettuce, pickles, Elevation sauce, and tomato at $6.50. Teresa ordered a single burger with the same toppings and added caramelized onions at $4.50. We shared a regular fries at $3.25 and a drink at $2.25. Just a shade over eighteen dollars, comparable to the competition.   

So, how do they stack up to the competition in taste? The shoestring fries (fried in olive oil) were nice and crispy with good flavor. I like the fact that they have malt vinegar and Old Bay seasoning available. The burgers were quite good, equal to Habit Burger, Jake's Burger Fi and better than Shake Shake and Five Guys, but a bit below Smashburger. I would go again.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Billy Joe's Ribworks- Newburgh, NY


Billy Joe's Ribworks sits on the waterfront in Newburgh and I have been there a few times for happy hour on a Friday when they put out free appetizers. I thought it only right to stop by and have a meal so today being a gorgeous day we stopped by for lunch.

We sat outside to enjoy the view and looked over the menus. I was thinking of the Carolina burger, but I decided on the Brueben, a take on a Rueben, at twelve bucks. It was smoked brisket with cole slaw, melted provolone, and a BBQ mayonnaise on Texas Toast. It was quite good, the brisket was nice and tender, and came with some nice fries. 

Teresa went with the cilantro chicken sandwich, also twelve bucks. She opted for the sweet potato fries which were okay, but the regular fries were better. She said the chicken was good, but the portion was a bit small. 


Overall, a nice place with good service and good food. The view is excellent too. We'll go back again sometime. They have a website for more information. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Cafe AIM- Newburgh, NY


I have passed by this place thousands of times over the years, but never at the right time to stop. About a year ago it changed hands and the new sign intrigued me enough to put it on my list. Well, today was the day and I must say that I have been missing out by not going sooner. 

Outside it looks small, but like a TARDIS it is bigger on the inside. It is clean and nicely decorated with the friendly and welcoming staff wearing black t-shirts adorned with the restaurant's logo. I was told to sit wherever I wanted and the waitress brought a menu. For a small place the menu is extensive and interesting, but I wanted a nice burger so I went with a bacon cheeseburger with chips for $6.79.

The burger was excellent. Nicely charred on the outside and close to the medium I'd ordered. The meat was seasoned nicely with salt, pepper, and I think I detected a hint of garlic powder. There was plenty of crispy bacon on it and the cheese melted to perfection. All of this sat on a fresh, toasted kaiser bun with lettuce, tomato, and red onions. 

Overall, a nice little restaurant with good food, at reasonable prices, and friendly service. I will be back again. I couldn't find a website, but they do have a Facebook page for more information.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Mr. Sushi & Grill- Middletown, NY. My favorite sushi restaurant.


Mr. Sushi is my favorite sushi restaurant. We've been there a few times and each visit was amazing. This time I went away from a roll and ordered the cerviche at twelve bucks. It was an appetizer, yet there was plenty of amazing fish, fruit and so much more. With it I ordered uni sashimi and snapper sashimi at four bucks each, also both amazing. Teresa went with chicken pad Thai for fifteen bucks that she loved.