Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Weber Grill, Chicago

If you’re a fan of Weber grills, and I certainly am, a must see place in Chicago is The Weber Grill Restaurant at 539 N. State Street. Even if you’re not a fan, you should go there anyway. You’ll know you’ve found it when you see he distinctive red kettle mounted above the door. When you go in, you’ll see a whole lot more grills since they have several very large grills behind the counter on which they cook your food. I like to sit in the front room so I can watch them cook. I like a place like that, nothing to hide and a little theater while you wait for your food.
I recommend going for lunch, as they have a nice menu at a lower price than the dinner menu, and it’s less crowded. Either way, you’re going to have a great meal, comparable I daresay to the expensive big name steak houses in town but for less money.
We were there twice, both times for lunch. We had the fire roasted artichoke and spinach dip, amazing, each time to start. One time I had the Wisconsin Burger, cheddar cheese and bacon, and the other time I had the Black and Blue Burger, blue cheese on an Angus burger. Both were outstanding and cost $11.50. They have a daily burger special for $10.50. My wife had the Barbeque chicken for $10.50 one time, I forget what she had the other time, but I remember she liked it.
They have a nice beer selection, but since you’re in Chicago I recommend the Honker’s Ale from Goose Island. It’s a nice English ale that goes well with steak, chicken, or burgers. They’ve also added Weber’s Backyard Barbeque Brew made for them by Goose Island since we were there. Ty it and let me know how it is. Oh, if you don’t want a beer try a Goose Island Cream Soda Float. Tastes just like a Creamsickle.
There’s also a good desert menu, but I don’t think you’ll have room for more after the portions you get.
Stop by and enjoy The Weber Grill. You won’t be disappointed. Check out their website for more info.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Andy's Burgers, Shakes, and Fries. Wilmington NC

Andy’s Burgers, Shakes and Fries is a neat chain of restaurants in the North Carolina area featuring a retro look, and a retro menu. Step inside and you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time to the fifties. There’s lots of chrome and Formica, and plenty of pictures of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. The menu is simple, burgers, fries, shakes, hot dogs, cheese steak sandwiches, and chicken.

The prices are good too. I had the cheeseburger, fries and a shake for $6.99 and added two Chubby Checker hot dogs, with chili and some sweet onions, for $1.59 each. All was good, and very filling. You can even add things, like peanut butter cups, to the shake at no extra charge.

They have an interesting challenge there called the Big A. It’s a six patty (50 ounces of meat) cheeseburger, large fries, and a large soda. If you eat it in a half-hour, it’s free. If you don’t finish, it’s $21.95. I wasn’t quite up to the challenge this time, but I’ll definitely try it some time and post the video here.

My daughter said that I needed to add that the bathrooms were very clean, and that's a huge point for people, especially those with children.

Stop in for a blast from the past. Check out the website for more information.

Front Street Brewery, Wilmington NC Revisited

When I find a restaurant I like, I go back often. In my travels I’ve come across a few that I’d like to visit more often, but I can’t. Such is the case with Front Street Brewery in Wilmington, NC. We paid our second visit there the other day and all I can say is that I’m even more impressed. The food was excellent, the service great, and the atmosphere fun.

You see, Front Street Brewery is one of those places that just isn’t pretentious, and if you’ve been following this blog at all, you know that I hate pretentious. I like simple food for regular people, and that’s what Front Street is all about. They aren’t trying to impress you with anything but the food and the beer, and even that’s understated.

We had a party of eleven, eight adults and three children. Five of us got there first and sat at the bar for a beer while waiting for the rest of our party. I met a nice man named Sam eating at the bar and we struck up a conversation, turns out he works there and we were discussing beer and Philadelphia where he was from. I also had a nice conversation with Maddie (I think that’s her name) the bartender. The people who work there are nice, friendly, and interesting.

When we were seated, Christy took care of us, after the first server left (I hope we didn’t scare him off) and she quickly corrected a mistake in the order. Food was great! Please note the picture above of my delightful Black and Blue Burger. I ordered it with sweet potato fries and that was the error that Christy corrected for me; I even got to keep the regular fries when she brought the sweet potato fries, probably the best I’ve had by the way.

We had a few appetizers; the fried green tomatoes, Buffalo Blue Sticks, and Buttermilk Breaded Onions, all half-price between four and six by the way.

I had a few beers. The Scottish Ale was delicious. The Vanilla Porter, the special that day, was interesting with a nice taste. I liked the California Common as well. It has a nice taste that starts off like a wheat beer and finished like an IPA, with a slight fruit flavor. They were out of my favorite, the Port City IPA.

Definitely stop by Front Street Brewery if you’re in Wilmington and tell them I sent you. Check out their website too.

Cape Fear Wines and Beer, Wilmington NC

A neat place in downtown Wilmington is Cape Fear Wines and Beer, at 139 Front Street. They claim to have over 300 beers available, and looking at the coolers, I’d say that’s about right. The selection can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s well worth the strain on the eyes. They also have a few beers on tap, and I chose the Old Speckled Hen. My daughter and her boyfriend got the 1825 Porter, an English brew patterned after a beer found on a shipwreck. Good beer.

Check them out when you’re in Wilmington, or visit their website.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Boombalatti's Ice Cream, Wilmington NC

Boombalatti's, a funny name for something that's neither a burger, nor a brew, but one amazing ice cream place. The address is 1127 Military Cutoff Road, Wilmington North Carolina. You'll find it across the street from the Mayfaire Mall.

They have a great selection of ice creams, and they say they are all made fresh daily. It took a while to decide. I had the two scoop sundae for only $3.75. My two scoops were Peanut butter cup and chocolate cream pie, with hot fudge, whipped cream and peanuts. Heaven in a plastic bowl.

Stop in and visit them when you're in town. You'll be glad you did. Better than Cold Stone, and a whole lot cheaper.

Update- April 2, 2010

We went back the other day and it was every bit as good as the last time. Excellent ice cream at good prices. If you live near them, patronize them and keep them going. If you don't live near them, take a road trip.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sonic, Wilmington NC

Living in the North, Sonic is kind of new and exciting. They opened one in New Jersey and traffic backed up on route 17 for about a mile, plus I think someone got run over there. Now I've been to Sonic before, once in Tennessee, and once in Mississippi, so it wasn't all that new. It is however, interesting.

I don't eat in the car, it's too new yet, so I like to pull into the spot and take advantage of the tables in front. There's a nice big menu there and you can look at it as long as you want before ordering. When you decide, and there's quite a bit to choose from, push the button and order, You can pay with the credit card right there. Sit down and relax and pretty soon a waitress on roller skates comes out with your order. Pretty cool.

This visit I had the special, a cheeseburger and a shake (chocolate) for $2.99. Add a chicken finger sandwich off the dollar menu (yeah, it's one dollar and it's good) and I'm stuffed for four buck plus tax. The burger is good too, and the shake is nice and thick. Overall, a nice cheap eat, and a cool fast food experience.

Cook Out, Wilmington NC

August 2011- I wrote the review below two years ago and it has become one of the most read articles I've done. As such, I wanted to clarify a few things.

First, this is a good hamburger. I would rank it near the top in the fast-food category. Second, I still do not like the menu board. It is hard to read and this last visit I wound up parking the car and walking to the front window to get a closer look at the menu. I discovered they had bacon available. Third, they make mistakes. As you read below they made a mistake on the order and it happened another time here as well. I was at one of their restaurants in Virginia and they put the order for the car behind us in our bag as well as our order (no charge for it, but we didn't want what they ordered, and we didn't know we had it until we were a few miles down the road). Fourth, it is a good burger and cheap. How cheap I don't really know because I can't read the menu!, but the total is always low.

August 2009- Cook Out is a small restaurant chain that started in 1989 in Greensboro North Carolina and grew to over sixty locations. They recently opened one in Wilmington, right next door to UNC and it looked interesting, so we decided to give it a try.

The place is drive up and walk up only, but if you want to walk up to the window you’d better have walked there because there’s no place to park more then three cars, and if you do park you’ll never get the car out of the parking lot since there is at least a ten car line for the drive through at all times. The drive through is fast though, and they have one line on each side of the restaurant so you’ll be at the order menu before you know it, and that’s where the problem hits. The menu is small, in funky fonts of different colors, and there are a lot of cars behind you. If you don’t know what you want ahead of time, you’ll feel like you’re caught in the Soup Nazi episode on Seinfeld.

We ordered three burgers, three cheeseburgers, and three fries. We got three cheeseburgers and three fries. The burgers we got were good; they seemed to be fresh meat. The fries were good too. We weren’t charged for the three burgers we didn’t get, but we could have used them. Also, with cars pushing you along, there’s no way to check what you got without feeling like you’re holding everyone up, I'd recommend going online and getting your order ready ahead of time, but I don't think the company has a website of it's own. At least I couldn't find one anyway. There is, however, a very useful independent web site, which posts the menu and even has a picture of the menu board I was talking about.

What I recommend that Cook Out do is to place a larger menu someplace else so that you can read it while waiting in line. They may have a ton of regulars, especially from the college, but new customers need to know what they have.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Bacchus, New Paltz

Okay, in New Paltz there is a place called Bacchus, named after the Roman god of wine, where they claim to have 400 beers available. Naturally I had to try it.

I had the Bacchus Burger at $6.95. Add .75 for cheese, and a buck for bacon, and at $8.70 it’s a good price for a nice burger. When the bill came, my burger was a lunch special at $2.95, a steal for a great burger. It was a nice piece of meat on a fresh Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomatoes, and your choice of steak fries, onion rings, or curly fries. I got the onion rings. It was a very good burger. By the way, the picture on the masthead is the burger I had. My buddy Steve got the grilled chicken sandwich with avocado, pepper jack, bacon and guacamole for $9.95, and he said that was good too.

Two lunches, four beers, and a tip was $43.00.

Now, about those four beers. With such an extensive selection, it took a long time to decide and I told the waitress I liked IPA. She suggested the Hurricane Kitty from Keenan brewery in Kingston, a local brewery. It was so good that instead of switching it up for the second round, I had another. Steve had a German Pilsner and a Belgian Pilsner. Mine was better.

Overall, it was a very good experience. Food was great. Service was great. Beer selection was great. Check them out, I’m certainly headed back.

For more information, check out their website.

Update: I went back on September 19th and was just as pleased with the burger. This is one of the best burger places I've been to.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fudruckers, Parsippany NJ

Like they say, it’s a funny name, but it’s a fun place to get a good burger. We stopped off at the Parsippany, New Jersey store on the way home from the road trip to get a bite. We’d been there once before, and liked it.
I had the black and blue burger, a nice half-pound Angus burger with blue cheese and caramelized onions. It came cooked perfectly at medium and was served on a fresh bun with seasoned fries. What I like most about Fudruckers is the toppings bar. There are pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, and relishes. They also have cheese to put on the fries, regular and jalapeno, plus they have the sauce that goes on onions. Oh, by the way, the fries are endless, so I got a second order right away.
The prices are reasonable, the food is good, and the name sounds cool. For more information, check out their website.