You are driving down the highway, hungry, looking for a good place to eat. Do you stop at the first diner or restaurant you come to or do you continue down the highway looking for a familiar chain restaurant? Driving through small-town America, are you willing to stop at a restaurant you see off the main road?
It has been said there is not a Dive out there that I’m not willing to try and regret later. If trying different restaurants was a baseball game, I’m batting 400. How do you know if a restaurant is a hidden gem if you don’t stop and give it a try? Firehouse Grill is one such place. If I had not ventured in, I would never learned that it is a hidden gem.
It is my mission to share the hidden gems I have found and steer people away from the places I swear I will never go back to. The Road Warriors amongst us know of places that they are willing to take a drive to go back to. Whether you stumble on a good place to eat while traveling or go to a restaurant because of word of mouth, these are the places that need be shared. The adventure is rolling the dice and trying new places.
I don’t know how many times I have driven by the Pork & Bean Store, of Westminster Md. If it wasn’t for a recommendation by the President of Ridge Engineering, I may have never stopped. This would have been my loss.
If you have been reading my articles, you know that I’m always searching for the best Reuben sandwich. When I was told they make the best Reuben sandwich around, this was enough for me to drive to the Pork & Bean Store and put this recommendation to the test. Let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed.
It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. My picture does not adequately show how big this sandwich actually is. Pork & Beans Store Reuben Sandwich is a meal. I had lunch for two days.
What makes a good Reuben sandwich? To start with you must have quality ingredients. Next is the proportion of the ingredients. You don’t want the sandwich to be one note. Finally, how the sandwich is prepared.
In the case of the Pork & Beans Store’s Reuben sandwich they use a quality corn beef that is thinly sliced. They start with two thick slices of toasted marble rye. They have a unique way of assembling the sandwich. They start with a layer of corned beef, then a layer of sauerkraut, then a layer of corn beef. They finish the sandwich with Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese. If I was to change one thing, I would use a thinner slice of Swiss Cheese and ensure it is melted.
The Pork & Beans Store’s Reuben sandwich may be good, but their Turkey Club is killer. What makes a sandwich killer? It’s when you bite into the sandwich and it’s definitely not one note. You taste all the flavors in not just the first bite, but in every bite. Now when I’m in the mood for a Turkey Club, I have a new favorite place to go. The turkey was fresh and juicy and the bacon, oh my! I don’t think it would have made much of a difference; but you are given a choice of bread, I selected the marble rye. Just as in the case of the Reuben sandwich, the Turkey Club is a meal. I have to admit I didn’t save half the sandwich. It was just that good. This sandwich alone is worth the drive.
I haven’t tried their breakfast selections yet, but I will be back whenever I’m in the mood for a good sandwich. There is so much more to the Pork and Beans Store. They sell Artisan coffees, Hahn’s high-quality meats, and a wide selection of BBQ sauces and rubs. They sell unique items that you will be hard pressed to find in a grocery store. I walked out of the store with 3lbs of the Hahn’s bacon they use in their sandwiches.
Have you been to Pork and Beans Store in Westminster Md? Leave a comment below. Do you have a favorite sandwich shop, let me know.
On my most recent trip to Rochester NY, I was looking forward to trying Tavern 19. The last trip I made to Rochester, I had a choice between Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta and Tavern 19. Fortunately, I selected Veneto’s. This trip I was determined to go to Tavern 19. I was hoping I would strike gold on two trips in a row.
Usually, the week prior to my trips to Rochester, the Production Team from Rochester and I discuss on our conference call where I am going to eat this trip. Of course, I ask for recommendations. I have to say the Production Team in Rochester is fairly good at picking restaurants for me. On this occasion they couldn’t have been more wrong.
I went to Tavern 19 on a Wednesday night. The place was empty for the most part. There was one other couple in the dining room and a group of people in the bar. So my expectation was good service and good food. It turns out I was expecting too much. My waitress was nice. She was very attentive. My only fault with her was that she couldn’t describe all the food items on the menu. After going through the menu, I settled on Steak Au Poirve.
The description of their Steak Au Poirve sounded good. It was a little on the pricey side, but I felt like splurging for a good steak. Their interpretation of Steak Au Poirve was a 20 ounce cut of steak, Wine based Demi-glaze , with peppercorns and garlic. Sounded appetizing. I had a choice of sides, so I chose mashed potatoes.
When my meal arrived, the first thing I tried was the mashed potatoes. They were borderline cold and lumpy. In that first bite I picked up some of the Demi-glaze sauce. It was sweet, certainly not what I was expecting. So, I cut myself a bite of steak and soon discovered is was mostly gristle. I was not about to eat gristle, so I politely spit it out. Strike two was having at least a third of the steak comprised of gristle. I was already not happy with the sweet flavor of the sauce; strike three came when biting into the crunchy burnt pepper corns, very unappealing. This steak was horrible. I only ate half of what remained after cutting away the gristle.
There should be no question as to whether I will ever return to Tavern 19 or recommend them. Have you been to Tavern 19 and had a better experience or have a favorite Steak House in the Rochester NY area, please leave a comment.
Usually when I travel to Mt. Airy MD, it’s a quick there and back trip. On these trips I have to admit, I don’t have time to sit down for a meal. So, BK it is. This last week, I had a little time to kill while waiting for my appointment, so I started looking at dining options. I did not realize Mt. Airy has an old town section with a number of excellent restaurant choices. The restaurant that stood out to me was Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe.
I’m not certain how I would classify Laurienzo’s. They serve gourmet pizzas. They have a nice selection of pasta’s. But, when you review their entree’s, you
I’m not certain how I would classify Laurienzo’s. I don’t know that I would call them an Italian restaurant. They serve gourmet pizzas, with a nice selection of pastas. But, when you review their entree’s, you see dishes such as French Onion Pork Chops, Sesame Ginger Mahi Mahi, and a dish I settled on, Chicken Evelyn.
The interior of Laurienzo’s is perfect for an intimate dinner for two. At the same time, they have Family Style tables, with a menu section titled Family Style. This is perfect for Business Team Meetings or an outing with the family.
The first night I went to Laurienzo’s was with a singular purpose. I was interested in trying their Wood Fired Pizza.
Hands down, this is the best pizza in the region. Maybe in the entire state of Maryland. Given that this is not my first Rodeo when it comes to dining on Wood Fired Pizza’s, I expected the crust to appear well done. Laurienzo’s even has a note on their menu stating the nature of Wood Fired Pizza’s. The edges usually appear dark.
I ordered their Carnivore Pizza, my first bite sent my taste buds into overdrive. So many flavors melting together. My first thought was they do not skimp on the quantity or the quality of their toppings. The sauce is not an afterthought. Laurienzo’s actually uses spices in their sauce. Having said this, the spices are not overwhelming. This is one outstanding pizza.
It is a rare occasion that I will return to a restaurant two days in a row. Especially when it’s an hour drive, but I went back for lunch the next day. I had to try their entrees.
When it comes to soup, one of my passions is Corn Chowder. Seeing Corn Chowder on the menu I had to try it. In their description of the ingredients, they call out spiced cream, sherry, fresh corn. Once again, I can’t say enough about the flavor of this soup. You first taste the corn flavor in the broth, then you get hit with a little heat. If you don’t like spicy food, not to worry, the spice is subtle, but definitely makes this a unique interpretation of Corn Chowder. I could go back just for this soup. When they say fresh corn, I saw someone carrying in ears of corn.
So far, I’m batting a thousand. With the Carnivore Pizza fresh in my mind and having finished the Corn Chowder, could they go three for three. Once again Laurienzo’s prepared a dish, I cannot say enough about; Chicken Evelyn.
Chicken Evelyn is a chicken breast that is stuffed with prosciutto, that is served with garlic mashed potatoes, wilted spinach, goat cheese, and a lemon dill sauce. Every component of the dish could stand on it’s on. Together it makes a fantastic bite. Not one aspect overpowers the other. I’m not one to eat spinach on its own, but when combined with the chicken gives you a pleasant tart after taste. I’m a huge fan of lemon dill sauce. Not to overuse the term balanced, every component of this dish works together. The portion is large enough to where you should plan on a doggy bag.
Good food worth driving for is the motto of this site. Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe, fills this bill perfectly. The next time I’m in the mood for a good meal, I will make the trek to Mt. Airy.
As you gathered, I am highly recommending Laurienzo Brick Oven Cafe. Have you been to Laurienzo or do you have a favorite restaurant that features Wood Fired Foods.
Food 101 is a Foodie destination in Gettysburg, PA. They have taken comfort food classics and injected them with flavor. For months now, I have been wanting to try Food 101. They come highly recommended and now I understand why.
If you are a people watcher, you will like Food 101’s location. Sitting on the corner of Chambersburg and North Washington, you have huge windows to look out and see the tourist walk by. Inside Food 101 you will fine a clean smartly decorated restaurant.
Food 101’s menu screams, you have sampled our lunch, come back for dinner. Served after 4:00 P.M, they have selections like, Norway Lobster Pappardelle, Basil Chicken Ratatouille, and for me, the eye-catching Pork Ribeye. Intriguing on their lunch menu was the Tuna Burger, la Cubana, and my selection, the Club 101. If you are a vegetarian, they have a Vegetable Powerhouse sandwich.
Looking for something light and tasty, I decided upon the Club 101. The Club 101 has house roasted, hand carved turkey breast, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, chipotle mayo, on wheat berry bread. I chose to complete my meal with house made chips. For a little extra, I could have tried the Truffle Fries.
Food 101 knows how to carve turkey. The Turkey was sliced thicker than what you find on your typical deli sandwich. Biting into the Club sandwich the first thing I noticed was how good the turkey tasted. You would think this was coming from your Thanksgiving leftovers. Except for the Turkey was tender and juicy. You can’t go wrong with avocado on a club sandwich. The Turkey was the star, but a close second was the chipotle mayo. It added just enough spice, but not to much too distract from the sandwich.
Food 101 does not bake their desserts in house. But they do have a personal baker that makes all of their desserts. Unfortunately, they only keep limited quantities, so the only thing they had left when I went to order was the Chocolate Strawberry Tart. It tasted as good as it looked. I’m not a fan of Chocolate desserts, but if I was in a mood for a dessert, I would order this again.
Food 101 is definitely a place I will go back to. Looking at the menu, I see several trips in my future. I will make sure I am there after 4:00, so I can indulge in the Chef’s Selections.
Needless to say I recommend Food 101 on your next trip to Gettysburg. Have you been to Food 101 or have a favorite Gettysburg restaurant, leave a comment below.
Truthfully, if Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta in Rochester NY, had not been recommended to me, I’m not sure I would have stopped. The old saying is, don’t judge a book by its cover. Veneto is a must visit Italian restaurant. There is a lot to be said about a restaurant where the food is made fresh in a kitchen where you can watch your food being prepared.
One of the things that struck me was that Veneto was packed on a Wednesday night. I was lucky enough to find an open table. They have live music on Wednesday nights, but I’m certain that it was the food that was drawing in the crowd.
Veneto is not your standard pizza joint. The menu reads as if you are eating at a finer dining Italian restaurant with selections such as Pasta con Funghi and Prosciutto with Peas Alfredo. I’m not sure if Lasagna is something you would expect to be served in a fine dining Italian restaurant, but it’s definitely not on the menu at Veneto. It took me a while, but I finally settled on the Veal Piccata special.
The Veal Piccata at Veneto is not a menu item. Fortunately for me it was one of the specials on the night I visited. Veal Piccata is simple, yet a complex dish. The thinly slice veal, is breaded and cooked to a golden brown, then laid over pasta. They finish the dish by coating the veal with a buttery, tangy lemon sauce with capers. In Veneto’s rendition of Veal Piccata, they have added spinach. This was a perfectly balanced dish. The veal was cooked to perfection and I could not get enough of the sauce. Veneto makes Bucatini pasta in house. With the center of the Bucatini pasta being hollow, allowing the sauce to penetrate the pasta. This makes for an exceptional bite.
My only complaint was that I ate a full-sized salad and was not able to finish my Veal Piccata. While waiting for my food, I was watching some of the other dishes being served. There are a lot of meals I want to try. At the top of my list is their Wood Fired Pizza. Pizza was the reason I went to Veneto in the first place.
I highly recommend Veneto Wood Fired Pizza and Pasta in Rochester NY. If you are in the Rochester area check them out. Have you been to Veneto? Do you have a favorite Italian Restaurant in the Rochester NY area? Please leave your comments below.
There is no doubt when You walk into Bushwaller’s in Frederick MD, You are walking into an Irish Pub. Most Irish Pubs I have been to here in the States seem to be more a restaurant than a pub. Of course they have a bar area and they serve traditional Irish fare, but there primary focus is being a restaurant.
When we walked into Bushwaller’s on a Wednesday night, it was obvious this is an Irish pub. The bar is a prominent feature. Everything about Bushwaller’s screams Irish pub, down to the dart tournament that was going on in the back. Of course, the real reason we went to Bushwaller’s was to try their food.
Bushwaller’s serves one of my favorite appetizers of all time, Reuben Egg Rolls. Imagine taking an egg roll wrapper and stuffing it with corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss Cheese, then deep frying it. Of course it wouldn’t be a Reuben without the 1000 Island dipping sauce. I’m of the school any thing deep fried is good, but Bushwaller’s Egg Rolls are over the top. I would recommend sharing, the Reuben Egg Rolls are close to being an entree by themselves. It is a shame more Irish Pubs don’t serve them.
If you are looking for a hearty meal, you can’t go wrong with Bushwaller’s Corned Beef and Cabbage. When the Corned Beef and Cabbage was served, it was served in a bowl. This is definitely different, in that I usually see the dish served on a plate, with the Corned Beef served over the Cabbage. Bushwaller’s is more like a stew. The meal was seasoned just right, no need to add salt here. In fact, the flavors were balanced. If you are a Corned Beef and Cabbage fan, you have to try this dish.
You might say a Reuben Sandwich is a Reuben Sandwich, given this is one of my favorite comfort foods, not all Reuben Sandwiches are equal. I believe I found my new favorite. What makes this sandwich different; is the bread. I could not believe how good this bread tasted. One of the other things that made this sandwich stand out was the balance of the ingredients. When you take a bite, not one ingredient overpowers the rest. You taste the sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing. All of this is supported by the thick sliced toasted Rye bread. Bushwaller’s Reuben is worth the trip.
As a point of disclosure, this blog actually encompasses two trips to Bushwaller’s. In writing the article, I saw they had the Reuben Egg Rolls on their menu and had to go back and try them. On the second trip, I also sampled their Irish Farmhouse burger. Having a burger that is served with a fried egg on it is an experience. This is a taste sensation. To me it is a little strange having the egg yolk saturate the burger after you bite into it. But this is something I will have again.
I believe you can tell when ever I’m back in Frederick, MD and I’m craving an Irish pub dining experience I will be back to Bushwaller’s. Have you been to Bushwaller’s or is there an Irish pub you would like me to review, leave a comment below.
You’re hungry, looking for a place to eat, how can you not try a place that has a sign on the window that says, “Fresh Fun Food.” Molli’s Cafe in Westminster Maryland has to be on your list of cafe’s to try.
If you are looking for a burger and fries, Molli’s is not for you. What you will find at Molli’s is predominantly breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Looking at their menu, it might be a good idea to know what you want before walking in. I was drawn to Molli’s by a picture of their Waffle Breakfast sandwich I saw on Molli’s Facebook Page. Scanning their menu once inside the cafe, I went in another direction and settled on their Meatball Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
I heard a couple sitting behind me, raving about their waffles. When you look at the menu, you will see that Molli’s incorporates waffles into both breakfast and lunch items. From your typical waffles with fresh fruit, to Turkey Club on Waffles. If you like Waffles, you have more reason to try Molli’s.
Combining two of my favorite sandwiches, Meatball and Grilled Cheese, is something I might have tried at home, with not near the success. What’s not to like, tasty meatballs, a sauce that actually isn’t just boring tomato sauce, and of course the grill cheese. As you can see in the picture, they didn’t just slap two pieces of white bread together and throw in on the grilled. The bread is actually seasoned. This is one of those sandwiches that is a taste experience.
With all this talk of Waffles, I didn’t know when I be back to Westminster, so I decided to order a Molli’s Waffle Breakfast sandwich to go. I order Molli’s Waffle Breakfast sandwich with sausage, egg, and cheese. I didn’t pay attention when they put the sandwich in a bag for me to take home. I was surprised in the morning to find this sandwich is a meal in itself. In saying this, the sandwich was bigger than I expected. I understand why my fellow patrons were raving about the waffles; they are good. They are slightly sweet, no need to ad syrup. The sausage was good, very tasty. This is one of those sandwiches that is good to the last bite.
Molli’s Cafe is definitely one of those places I will visit again. With so many items on the menu I want to try, I will have to study the menu on-line before my next visit. Then again, if it is time for breakfast, the Waffle Breakfast Sandwich will be an easy choice.
Have you been to Molli’s or know of a cafe you would like me to review. Leave a comment below.
I’m always on the search for new pizza restaurants to try. In the case of Rad Pies, My doctor recommended them. When she said try Rad Pies, my brain said this is the same woman who just said I need more exercise and cut back on the carbs, so she peaked my curiosity and I had to try them. Williamsport is not exactly close to me, so this was definitely going to be a destination drive.
A few things struck me when looking for Rad Pies, first of all they are not off a main drive, if you weren’t looking for them, there is probably not a chance you will stumble on them. Secondly, they are located in an industrial park. Finally, Rad Pies is co-located in the Cushwa Brewing Co.
Walking in the door, I was struck by how sterile everything was. There is a bar to order your beers, but ordering your pizza and other food takes place at a kiosk. There is no wait staff, you receive a text when you food is ready and you pick it up at the counter. I hope this is not a trend of the future.
Let’s talk pizza! Rad Pies’ Detroit style pizza has to be the tastiest pizza in the region. I mean, Man! this is good pizza. The pizza seasoning blend is killer and it’s not only in the sauce. The thick crust is seasoned with the same Italian seasoning blend. I instantly took a liking to the caramelized cheese acting as a crust. The toppings and cheese are spread over the crust and the sauce is drizzled across the top. I chose to build my own pizza, I selected Italian sausage, bacon, and pepperoni. If I have a bone to pick with them, it would be this: great tasting pizza but where are the toppings. I’m not a fan of ground up sausage and they seemed to go a little lite on the pepperoni. Even with the toppings being lite, this is a very good pizza.
Rad Pies is not what I call a family friendly restaurant, unless you are ready to put out a good deal of cash. I was surprised by the size of the pizza and how much it cost. The pizza was four slices and more than $30.00. Cushwa Brewing Co. is good place to meet up with friends. Just bring your wallet, the beer cost almost what the pizza cost.
If you are in the Williamsport area and want a good pizza, give Rad Pies a try. I will not be making the 53 mile drive anytime soon, but given the opportunity I would like to try their thin crust pizza as well. Have you been to Rad Pies or have a favorite pizza restaurant you think I should try, leave a comment below.
There are a lot of good Italian restaurants in this country. So, what sets them apart? To start with customer service. Fratelli’s Italian & Seafood restaurant in Hampstead MD has customer service you would expect in a fine dining establishment. At Fratelli’s the staff is over the top in their customer service. I can’t remember the last time I ate at a restaurant and my table stayed so clean. When I finished eating there wasn’t even a crumb left on the table. Customer service means nothing if the food is bad; not an issue at Fratelli’s. The couple that recommended them to me was spot on. They told me they serve the best Lasagna around. I whole heartily agree.
Out of politeness, I let the waitress run through the specials, but I knew my order before walking in the door. I wanted to see what my friends considered the best Lasagna around. To start with the portion was good sized. In my first bite I noticed the sauce had a perfectly balanced spice level. My biggest complaint when I eat Italian food is when the sauce has a strong tomato taste and not much else. This was not the case with Fratelli’s Lasagna. The next thing I noticed the ricotta cheese was not overpowering. The ricotta cheese was perfectly proportioned. My final observation was even the ground beef was season just right. After eating Fratelli’s Lasagna, I’m looking forward to telling my friends they are right; I can’t think of a better Lasagna served anywhere?
The Cesar Salad at Fratelli’s is good, but if I have one complaint, I would serve it with shaved parmigiana cheese instead of shredded parmigiana. I realize this is a preference, but most fine dining restaurants used shaved parmigiana. I do like that the salad was tossed. It drives me crazy to have the dressing served on the side. Score another one for Fratelli’s.
Hampstead MD is home to an Italian restaurant that is fine dining, without the fine dining prices. I will definitely be returning the next time I’m in the mood for Italian food.
Have you been to Fratelli’s or do you have a favorite Italian restaurant. Leave your comments below.
How far are you willing to walk for your favorite dish? As a young Marine I was willing to walk a mile and a half across the base in Japan for one of my favorite Japanese meals, Tonkatsu Curry. I have only been to two Japanese restaurants in the states that serve Tonkatsu Curry. One being Maru Sushi in San Francisco and the other, Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant, in Norfolk Virginia. Every time I eat at Kotobuki, I am transported back to Japan. Kotobuki is a Japanese family restaurant, that has been in business for 24 years. One of the draws of Kotobuki is that you feel like you are visiting family. How many restaurants do you know where you walk in the door and the owner gives you a hug and asks how you have been.
Fortunately, everyone that walks through the door of Kotobuki benefits from the flavors of Japan that the owner Machismo brought from her homeland, Okinawa, Japan. At Kotobuki, you can expect the freshest ingredients prepared in such a way that you feel like you are dining in Japan.
Tonkatsu Curry is a perfect wintertime dish. After finishing this dish, you will have a feeling of being full and warm. Tonkatsu Curry is a deep-fried panko crusted pork patty, that is sliced and laid to rest over rice and then smothered by a rich spicy curry sauce. The curry sauce is bursting with flavor. In some ways Tonkatsu Curry is reminiscent of a hearty stew with its potatoes, carrots, and onions. Not taking anything away from Indian Curries, Japanese Curry is by far my favorite. If Curry is not your thing, Kotobuki has a Sushi bar and a menu of dishes straight from Japan. If you have a favorite Japanese meal, I’m certain they serve it. Of course the Sushi lovers will not be disappointed.
Kotobuki has been recognized for its selection of dishes that can be made vegan. They actually have a full Vegan menu. This is one restaurant where everyone in your party can enjoy a freshly prepared Japanese meal.
My only disappointment was I didn’t save room for dessert. How can you refuse Tempura Cheesecake or Tempura Ice Cream. If you are looking for something truly special and uniquely Japanese, try their Daifuku Mochi, Dorayaki, or Yukan.
If I didn’t know better, I would say Machismo carried Kotobuki from Japan in her luggage. I would definitely say one of the best Japanese restaurants on the East Coast. Have you been to Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant in Norfolk VA? If you have or have another favorite Japanese restaurant, leave your comments below.