Saturday, February 26, 2011

Buca Di Beppo, Exton. PA

If you like Italian food, I mean really like good Italian food, then this is not the place to go. Chain Italian restaurants are rarely good, Mangiammo's being the exception and any place that advertises meatballs the size of your head should be questioned.

When you are escorted to your table you are taken on a path through part of the kitchen and the hostess asks if you want a tour. I said yes, so as we passed she pointed and said, "That's where the pizza is made, that's where the salads are made and that's where the cooks are." The most interesting points are the line cooks who looked like they'd rather be anyplace else, and the family of three seated at the kitchen table, a place that has to be reserved. I would think it punishment to have to sit there, but it must keep the cooks language in check.

When you reach the dining areas you will think the entry was tame. It is decorated in what can best be called an insult to most Italians as the photos and decorations exemplify the stereotypes Americans have of Italians. I could make some analogies, but someone may take insult.

We were given bread, undercooked and doughy, and water, the first and only glass I got. I ordered the small veal saltimbocca at $21.99. The menu, and the waitress said the small dishes serve two to three people. My wife and daughter ordered Penne San Remo at $18.95 and we ordered a large meatball at $5.95 for my grandson. None of these items come with a salad or a side. When the food came I looked at my veal and there three small, thin pieces of meat with a small piece of prosciutto covered in artichokes, capers and a lemon sauce. Barely enough for one person. The only flavor was that of the lemons and the capers. I tasted the meatball, okay, and the penne, bland and a bit dry.

My overall impression; overpriced mediocre food with lackluster service. If you want Italian, go to a local Italian restaurant.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Baba Ghannouj, Wilmington, NC

In the Independence Mall in Wilmington sits a fairly typical food court, with one exceptional gem. Baba Ganoushj. From what I understand, this is not a chain, but rather a locally owned restaurant that once was someplace else.

Liz Biro from the Star News raved about this place in an article. In it she said that it wasn't typical mall food and looking at the counter, I could see what she meant. The salads in the display looked so good I just wanted to take a fork to them all.

I was still quite full from an omelet at Sweet and Savory, but I just had to try this so I decided to order light. I had the gyro meat for four bucks, two stuffed grape leaves at fifty cents each and kalamata olives for seventy-five cents. Total was six dollars for what you see in the picture.

The gyro meat was very good, cut thick, and they'd grilled it. The grape leaves were tasty and came with a very nice taziki sauce, which came in handy for the meat as I didn't order a side of it. After I finished I went from slightly full to very full, but it was worth it. Stop by and give them a try sometime.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Reel Cafe, Wilmington, NC

We were looking for a nice place downtown that was a different, yet family friendly enough for eight adults and three children. My daughters suggested The Reel Cafe on Front Street so we walked down and looked at the menu in the window. I love it when a restaurant does this as we can decide whether they are what we are looking for or not.

In this case the menu looked good, as did the prices. Even better, kids eat free. One children's meal free with an adult meal. We went in and were seated immediately as it wasn't busy. I've been past here in the Summer and it is usually packed, especially at night.

We looked over our menus and made our choices. I have that soft spot for a burger with bacon and blue cheese, so that's what I ordered. I got the black and blue and added bacon which brought the price to ten bucks. I ordered it medium and it was closer to medium well, but still juicy and full of flavor. My son-n-law ordered the same burger, but well done. The beer special was White Wolf, an American Ale I believe, so I got one. It was okay, but for the second one I switched to a Fat Tire. That was much better.

The rest of our party ordered; a Black and Blue salad (blackened chicken over a salad with blue cheese), a fresh catch sandwich (grouper), a meatball sub, a crab sandwich, two chicken sandwiches, a kid's burger and two kid's chicken fingers. All were good and the total came to eighty bucks, plus tax and tip. The one drawback is the restrooms as they are on the second floor and were, shall we say in need of a cleaning. Definitely not handicapped accessible. Overall it was a good experience and we'll be back.

No website that I could find, but they do have a facebook page for more information, you'd have to friend them though.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet and Savory, Wilmington, NC

I have a long list of places to try in Wilmington, NC. I also have a short list of places I really want to see. One of them is, or rather was, Sweet and Savory. My daughter and my grandchildren have been raving about Sweet and Savory for some time now and we were going to try them last summer, but we never got the chance. This short trip down we decided this was a must visit and we went there on Sunday for dinner. I can see what she meant, this place was great and it is now on my list of favorites.

The menu is extensive and they have plenty of specials. On Sunday one of them was all bar sandwiches for five dollars with the purchase of a drink or soup. I looked at the beer menu and noticed they had Scotch Ale from Front Street Brewery, so that was a no-brainer. I ordered a pint and got the English Burger, a very nicely done burger with grilled onions (sweet and red, I think wine was involved in the cooking), cheese and bacon on a toasted English muffin. Oh, and lettuce and tomato with chips on the side. It was excellent, tasty and fresh.

Teresa had the Carolina Burger with slaw and BBQ sauce, it looked as good as mine, and she had a seafood soup with it that tasted just fine. Mike had the Gyro, and Sarah had a wrap, both of them had black bean soup. The three kids had chicken nuggets with fries. The whole order came to fifty bucks, tax included. They are definitely family friendly with the prices.

Service was great. Taylor was attentive and caring. She apologized for the wait, but I thought everything came out fast. My youngest granddaughter dropped her pickle and one of the servers brought her two more to keep her happy. By the way, the bathrooms are clean, at least the men’s room was as that’s the only one I saw.

They have a website for more information.
Photos in order are; Gyro, Chicken nuggets, Carolina Burger and the English Burger.

We are headed back for breakfast soon to sample either an omelet or eggs benedict. I'll be posting that soon.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

National Hotel, Montgomery NY

When I was young, a very long time ago, The National Hotel was a dive bar that looked like it was just waiting to burn down. We frequented it anyway. Well, it did burn a few years ago and was rebuilt into a nice establishment under a new name. The name changed over the years and it's now called the National Hotel. Outside it is bright and white with the feel of an old fashioned hotel and restaurant from colonial times. Inside it has a darker feel and resembles a more continental look. Probably because it was reopened as an Italian restaurant. As I recall, it was a fairly good Italian restaurant at that.

My wife had been there a while ago for happy hour and she said the menu was pretty god, and reasonable so we decided to give it a try. It had snowed that day and it was cold out. When we went in the place was empty. Well, we were there and there was a waiter and I assumed someone must be in the kitchen too. We were told we had our choice of seats and we took a table. By the way, it was cold in there. The waiter brought the menu and it was very limited, bar food only. I decided on the cheeseburger, medium, with onion rings. Teresa had a sandwich.

The food took a while to come, but it looked good. Unfortunately it didn't taste all that good. Her sandwich was okay, my burger was less than mediocre. My medium was much closer to well and it had that burnt grease taste that only comes from being cooked in the broiler at too high of a heat. You know, when the grease comes to the top and gets burned into a char (please note the picture and the blackened edges of the burger) on the meat before any of it can run off. Personally, I don't like that taste. The roll was good and the onions rings were okay, what few there were of them.

We asked the waiter why the menu had been reduced and he replied that the cook had left so they had to limit it. I found out from someone else that the cook left months before. I don't know who prepared the meal then. I'd recommend caution going here. It is cheap enough, but there are better places within walking distance.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Ruby Tuesday Triple Prime Burger

A while back I wrote about Ruby Tuesday and I said I'd go back and report on the Triple Prime Burger, so here it is.

First of all, this is one of the last places to get a decent salad bar, please note my creation to the left which has both blue cheese crumbles and blue cheese dressing. The cost of the salad bar is 2.99 with a meal or burger. I don't always get it, but it is worth it even for a single trip. I love to watch people at the salad bar either piling the plate to the ceiling or creating a masterpiece.

Now let's get to that burger, as shown to the left. In my opinion the Triple Prime Burger from Ruby Tuesday is one of the best you can get at a casual dining chain restaurant. The meat has a nice flavor to it. The company claims it is a mixture of filet, ribeye and sirloin and it does make for a good tasting burger. I got it with cheddar cheese so the price was $10.99, but it does come with endless fries. I didn't get a second round of fries as I'd eaten the salad before and wasn't starved.

Overall, it is worth the higher price and well worth a try.