Thursday, December 21, 2017

Benny's Big Time Pizzeria- Wilmington, NC

Benny's Big Time Pizzeria is the brainchild of Vivian Howard and Ben Knight, you may know them from the PBS show A Chef's Life, and it is their third restaurant, the other two being in Kinston. We decided to stop by and see what all the hype was. 

The restaurant sits in an old factory in a section of the city that is up and coming, and should be a good draw to the area. 

Inside it is well appointed with a modern design, an open kitchen, and a bar where you can sit and eat (a plus for single diners). The staff is friendly and for a place that's only been open a week, they have their act together. 

There were three of us so we decided to sample a range of items. Of course one was a pizza, the Margherita, and it was excellent.  We had the chicken fried parm, quite possibly the best fried chicken I have ever had and my mission now is to duplicate it at home. And we had the Risotto a la vodka, also excellent. Add in two beers, they have a nice draft selection including some local breweries, and the tab came to about $55. Not bad for an upscale restaurant.

Benny's Big Time Pizzeria is a place you have to visit sometime, but get there early as it started to get crowded at about 5:30 on a Thursday. Check out their website for more information.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

East Branch Brewing- Downingtown, PA

Stopped by the East Branch Brewing in Downingtown today and it is a really neat place. Friendly people, excellent beers, and nice atmosphere. I tried the double IPA and it had a nice clean taste.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Saint Stan's Polish Festival- Castle Hayne, NC

We recently moved to Wilmington, North Carolina after our retirements. Okay, we have been coming down for close to nine years as we have children and grandchildren here, but this is our new home. One thing that was important to us was finding a new church home and we have found one in Saint Stanislaus Catholic Church in Castle Hayne, about three mile from the house. 

Now this church has an amazing event once a year that is their major fundraiser and that is the Polish Festival. About five-thousand people descend on this little parish and I am amazed at how well it is run. 

The number of volunteers from the parish is astounding, and the help from local law enforcement is great. 

Front Street Brewery, a favorite of mine, brews a special Saint Stan's Baltic Porter for the event. 

The food is excellent and there is no admission charge, nor parking charge. 

Okay, if you are reading this now you missed it for this year, but definitely go next year. 

I decided to focus on the people who volunteered their time to make this event come together.

These are the faces of my new brothers and sisters in Christ at Saint Stan's.

As you can see, we are blessed. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Greek Gourmet- Monkey Junction

The Greeks moved from downtown Wilmington to a spot in a strip mall by WalMart in Monkey Junction a while ago. We have gone to the old location, but hadn't been to the new one yet. Today they were featured in the local paper and we headed there for lunch.

Excellent decision as the food was amazing. Perhaps on of, if not the best, gyros this guy has eaten, and I have had quite a few. Teresa got the chicken latter, also excellent.  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Catch the Food Truck- Wilmington, NC

Wilmington has experienced an explosion of new micro-breweries in the past three years. I have eleven of them within ten miles of my house, and a few more are in the works. Add in the neat bottle shops and we are becoming a destination for good beer. 

Pairing with that growth is a multitude of food trucks and on any evening, or weekend day, one can find one of these food trucks parked at  brewery and I have sampled a few. I caught Catch the Food Truck (pun intended) at the third anniversary of Flytrap Brewing. Catch is the regular truck there. 

I had the crispy fish taco for eight bucks and it was excellent. My daughter and son-in-law had beef tacos and they were also excellent. 

I think I will be visiting their restaurant soon.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sour Barn- Wilmington, NC

Running down the list of breweries in the area we stopped by the Sour Barn on Market Street today. The layout is nice, and the design has a nice clean and bright feel to it with a neat beer garden in the back. 

This is part of the Broomtail Brewing enterprise and they feature mostly Broomtail products with a decent selection of sour beers. I like a moderate sour, not too tart, with some sweetness to balance it out. I had the Galloping Gose and it was a nice beer. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Watermans Brewing Company- Wilmington, NC

I have the pleasure of living within ten miles of eleven breweries, with another three coming. One of the newer ones that I finally got to is Watermans Brewing on Pavilion, just shy of Wrightsville Beach. I stopped by with my wife, daughter and son-in-law, and our granddaughter early on a Thursday night and we sat on the spacious porch. 

I did go in to wash up and was impressed with the layout and design. The place was bright, clean, and orderly. The concept is to honor people who make their living and their fun with the sea. Quite tastefully done. 

I decided on a flight of five for eight bucks and was quite pleased with the offerings. The one that impressed me the most, and I will stop by for a growler soon, was the Bar Pilot IPA at 7.1%. 

I ordered the burger at just under ten bucks and it was very good. I had a choice of sides and went with the homemade chips with a ranch dressing. My son-in-law had a tuna sandwich that he said was excellent. Natalie had the children's chicken fingers and the rest had a burger. Everyone left full and happy.

The service was excellent and friendly. When I asked for a sticker, I collect them from all of the places I visit, the waitress said they were out and went to her car to get one of her own for me. 

Check out Watermans Brewing and see what I mean. I might run into you there. 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Wrightsville Beach Brewery- Wilmington, NC

Now here is a brewery that was long in the making, and that wait was well worth it as this place was well thought out and planned. I have been meaning to go to Wrightsville Beach Brewing for some time now and the opportunity arises when my daughter said she wanted to go for her birthday. Fifteen of us showed up and they were very accommodating what with joining tables, splitting bills, and taking care of people from 2 to 65 years old. 

Someone spent some serious time, and some serious cash, designing this place. The layout is quite nice, clean, open, and warm, and the most amazing part is the acoustics. You can actually carry on a conversation with people at your table at a normal voice and not be drowned out. 

The beer selection was quite good with seventeen Wrightsville Beach Brews being offered. well, the waitress said they were out of three, but that still left fourteen. I went with a flight of four for eight bucks to get an idea of their offerings, The two porters were okay, probably would be even better in November in cooler weather. The Ginger beer was good. The Belgian Triple was excellent and warranted a ten ounce pour to follow. The real surprise for me was that I ordered a Kolsch after tasting my daughter's beer. This was the finest Kolsch I have ever had. 

I ordered the shrimp and grits at $14 and I was quite impressed, it had more of a cajun feel than a low country.  The shrimp tasted fresh, the grits were perfectly cooked, and there was just the right amount of a cajun heat to the dish. I am going to try to replicate this at home. 

The rest of our party had pizzas, salads, and crab cake sliders. 

Definitely a place you should check out sometime, I know I'll be back soon and often. Check out their website for more information and directions. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Zoe's Kitchen- Wilmington, NC

We were in the mood for something light and my daughter suggested Zoe's in Mayfaire so we all popped in. I had the steak kabobs with a side salad and pasta salad for about twelve bucks. I was quite pleased with it. The steak was perfectly seasoned and cooked, the salad fresh, and the dressing very good. Definitely a good place. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Brooklyn Pizza Co- Wilmington, NC

I've heard some good things about Brooklyn Pizza Co on Market so we popped in for a quick dinner.  I decided on a veal park hero and it was quite good. The veal was nice and tender, cooked perfectly, with a tasty sauce. Teresa got the eggplant parmigiana, also quite food. My daughter had a meatball hero and I tasted one of the meat balls, again good. My granddaughter had a slice and I had a tiny piece, once again good. We took home a chicken focaccia sandwich for our son-in-law. 

Overall, quite good and we'll be back again. Try them sometime. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

New Anthem Beer Project- Wilmington, NC

My new hometown, Wilmington, NC, has experienced a boom in the craft beer industry and the number of small breweries is into the double digits with more to come. Being retired now, I have plenty of time to explore the new offerings and one of the first was New Anthem Brewing Project on Dock Street. 

The brewery has a nice layout inside using the existing brick and wood and giving it a warm and friendly feel with plenty of space. 

I had an Imperial Stout at about 9% that was really quite smooth and would probably sneak right up on you. I followed with an IPA which had a nice crisp taste with just a hint of fruitiness. 

I have a feeling I'll be back a few more times to sample the wares. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Equilibrium Grille and Taproom- Middletown, NY

I've heard some good things about this new brewery in Middletown and we decided to pop in and see what it was all about on a Saturday afternoon. 

The design is nice, taking an old factory or warehouse and utilizing the exposed brick and wood. There are two levels, a bar on the first floor and the dining area, with its own bar, on the second. Good idea as the first level could be a bit louder and the dining are is quieter. 

It was quite a bit crowded, but we only had to wait ten minutes or so for a table. I started with a flight of four for eleven bucks, a bit pricey but the best way to get a feel for the offerings. 

They had six brews listed, but one had just kicked. I list in order of my preference. The Photon, their signature IPA at4.8%, which had a nice clean, and ever so slightly fruity taste. Next was the Mmm...Osa which is the Photon with oranges added. Nice fruity taste without being overpowering. The third was the MC2 which is the Photo ramped up to 8% as an Imperial IPA. The best was the Optimization, a double at 8% which had the hint of a sour taste to it. 

The food was excellent. We both ordered blue cheese burgers (twelve bucks) and mine was cooked to a perfect medium while Teresa's came the perfect medium-well that she ordered. She had a side salad while I opted for the fries, which were crispy on the outside with a soft inside and seasoned properly. 

Overall, a nice experience and I think they will do quite well. Stop by and check them out sometime. 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Saigon Pho- Wappingers Falls, NY

Saigon Pho is a restaurant we have passed by for years mainly because of the strip mall location. Friends have been raving about it so we finally stopped by for lunch and now I wish I had done so sooner, I've been missing out on some really good Vietnamese food. 

We started with the Spring Roll at five bucks with a peanut sauce. Excellent! We both had Pho, mine was the three meat special and Teresa had the rib eye variety. Again, both were excellent. Total bill was just over twenty-five bucks. 

Stop by sometime and see what I mean. Excellent food and service, clean and bright decor. They have a website for more information. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Guacamole Grill Mexican Restaurant- Wallkill, NY

Friends of ours have been raving about Guacamole Grill Mexican Restaurant in the Hamlet of Wallkill, NY for some time now so when we saw they had a burger special we decided to stop in. 

Located on the main drag it looks nice on the outside, and even nicer inside with a fresh, bright look and Mexican music on the stereo. We looked over the menus and decided to have a beef empanada (two bucks) and a fish taco (two-fifty) to start with as we decided what to order. Both were excellent.

I went with the Sweet Bacon Burger and it was great. Fresh tasting beef, perfectly cooked, on a fresh bun with bacon, ranch dressing, fried tortillas, jalapeƱos, and onions. Nice flavor combination and some crispy fries on the side. Teresa had the chicken enchiladas verde and it was excellent as well. 

All of the above was only twenty-six bucks. The service was excellent as well. Stop by sometime and see for yourself. They have a website for more information.