Welcome to Road Warrior Dining!
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.
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.
Fratelli’s Italian & Seafood
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.
Kotobuki Japanese Restaurant
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.
Firestone’s Culinary Tavern
Frederick Maryland’s old town has a thriving restaurant scene. Part of this restaurant scene is Firestone’s Culinary Tavern. The best way to describe Firestone’s is that they are an eclectic mix of culinary experiences. My first impression was they are a fine dining restaurant, but after being seated I wasn’t sure. The service was excellent, but the meal was a roller coaster.
After ordering our food and wine, the waiter brought out a Smoked Bacon and Polenta Starter. This little bite was quite good. My first thought this meal is starting off promising. My appraisal was enhance by their excellent selection of wines by the glass. My Riesling was a nice balance, not to sweet, not to dry. Their Pinot Grigio was not dry, pleasantly balanced.
The challenge of Firestone’s is when it came to the main course. My dinner guest had ordered Steamed Mussels and I ordered their Wagyu Sirloin. If you have been following my blog, you know how I feel about having to add salt to food, to bring out it’s flavor. The Steamed Mussels were bland. One of the pleasures of eating Steamed Mussels is lapping up the sauce with the Grilled Baguette. Unfortunately even salt could not help this sauce. I don’t know if our waiter said anything to the Chef, but he needed to know a patron was adding salt to his dish.
Now to flip the script, the Wagyu Sirloin was excellent. From my first bite to my last, I thoroughly enjoyed the Wagyu Sirloin. Cooked to a medium rare and seasoned to perfection. The Wagyu Sirloin was served over a Potato Pave, Haricot Vests, Roasted Carrots, and Cipolinni Onions. To top this off, they drizzled a Port Wine Demi. Besides being cooked to perfection, the Wagyu beef was tender and had it’s unique flavor. This was the first time trying this steak. The steak lover in me could not get enough of this steak.
To finish off the meal we went with Firestone’s Salted Date Bread Pudding. The bread pudding was good, but it wasn’t as advertised. I couldn’t taste the Rum Butter Sauce and I’m not sure if there were dates in my bread pudding. The Vanilla ice cream was very good. The problem was the dish did not live up to my expectations.
Firestone’s Culinary Tavern is not a place I will be returning to anytime soon. I’m not saying people should not try it, it’s just that there are too many restaurants in Frederick MD to try. Plus I want consistency in my meal. Have you been to Firestone’s? Do you have a favorite fine dining restaurant I should try? Leave a comment below.
The Bagel Baker
Another list and another opportunity to see what someone believes to be the best. On this particular occasion I read a story on Microsoft Bing, that highlighted the best breakfast sandwich in every state. Once again, the restaurant or in this case the Bagel Bakery was within a short drive. So the Road Warrior in me, said lets’ check out The Bagel Baker in Virginia Beach VA and see what is so special about their breakfast sandwich. It was promising walking in the door. Not that I like standing in a line; but with most of the tables full and a line of people ordering, you would think the food was going to be good.
The BB on Broadway was said to be the Best Breakfast Sandwich in Virginia. After trying it, I’m questioning the author’s judgement. The BB on Broadway comes with American Cheese, your choice of meat, a hash brown, and of course your choice of bagel. I decided to go with the Sesame Bagel and Italian sausage. I have no complaints about the bagel, you would expect a bagel shop to have good bagels. Where it starts to go bad, is that the sausage was over microwaved, and the hash brown was not close to being crispy. The sandwich was ho-hum at best.
The Avocado Toast Everything Bagel was a tasteless mess. It is a shame when you have to add salt to food to bring out any flavor. Some people may enjoy a salad for breakfast, but this was supposed to be a sandwich. What made it worst, was they did not think to provide a fork or have forks available.
Once again, I’m left to wondering what was the criteria used to call the BB on Broadway the best Breakfast Sandwich in Virginia. I can honestly say that I will never return. It’s just not worth the drive. Now there was a lot of young families eating there. So you may want to judge The Bagel Baker for yourself.
Have you been to The Bagel Baker? What is your favorite breakfast sandwich? Leave your comments below.
When my mind wanders at work, at times I will cruise the internet and see what catches my eye. There was an article on the Best Pizza Restaurant in each of the 50 States. According to the article, the best pizza in Pennsylvania was just 9 miles from me; Tommy’s Pizza in Gettysburg. So of course, I had to try it. When I visited Tommy’s it was hopping, talk about busy. You place your order at the counter when you walk in and then find a seat. One of the things I appreciated is their menu is fairly simple. A lot of places try to do too much, but not at Tommy’s. They serve Pizza, Subs, Gyro, Stromboli, Salads, Wings, and they have your usual side orders. When it comes to pizza, they serve one style, thin crust, with about 30 different topping options. If you don’t feel like creating your own, they do have their Specialty Pizza’s, which include, Veggie, White, Greek, Supreme, Meat Lovers, and Gluten Free. I’m certain they can satisfy most of the pizza lovers amongst us.
I decided to go with my standard order, Pepperoni and Italian Sausage Pizza. This pizza was cooked exactly how I like my pizza cooked. The crust was slightly crunchy. The cheese along the edge was starting to caramelize. Just looking at the pizza you can see how generous they are with the toppings.
The first bite of Tommy’s Pizza did not disappoint. There is a balance of cheese, sauce, and meat toppings. Some pizzas out there leave you wanting more of something, whether it be sauce, cheese, or meat. Not at Tommy’s.
I can see why this article listed Tommy’s Pizza as the best pizza in Pennsylvania. But, I would like to know what their criteria for making this selection was. There are so many good pizza restaurants in Pennsylvania. Not that there is anything wrong with Tommy’s pizza or the restaurant I don’t think they are the best; I have what I believe is the best pizza in the area a block from my house, which is La Bella Italia . Chiefly the difference is they have three different styles of pizza, my favorite being the Stuffed Pizza. My other reason is I like the sauce at La Bella Italia and Gallo Pizza and Italian Restaurant better.
Any time I can check to see what someone else calls the best, I will. If you are in Gettysburg and looking for pizza, check out Tommy’s. There is a reason they have been in business since 1973. Knowing how expensive it is to eat out, Tommy’s Pizza is a good place to take your family. Have you been to Tommy’s or have a favorite pizza restaurant you want to share, leave your comments below.
Roost Uncommon Kitchen
Martin Luther King Jr day gave me an opportunity to go to York PA for the first time. I purposely planned to go to York and find a place to eat lunch. The problem was I arrived downtown too early, most of the restaurant weren’t open yet. Walking down Market St, I came across Roost Uncommon Kitchen. At Roost it is all about brunch. They are open Wednesday through Monday from 8am to 2pm. How could I not try Roost with menu items such as, The Garbage Biscuit, The Flower Pot, and what I finally settled for, Dry Aged Brunch Burger. While I was waiting for my order, the one thing that was killing me, was the smell of food from the table next to me. Man, it smelt good! Scanning the restaurant I saw several dishes I would love to come back and try.
My first bite of the Dry Aged Brunch burger was over the top fantastic. It was like an explosion of flavor. I could taste every layer of the burger. The Dry Aged Brunch Burger starts with a 6oz Ribeye and Brisket Blend. Then the burger is topped with Cooper Cheese, House-Made Bacon Jam, a Fried Egg and a Hollandaise Drizzle on a Brioche bun. Every bite of this burger was as good as the first bite. I was hungry when I sat down, I definitely left full. What can be said about curly fries that hadn’t been said. I don’t know what I was thinking, I should have tried their hash browns. Especially since this is the first restaurant I have been to in PA that serves hash browns. To top off the meal, the coffee was really good. Roost on their website claims everything on the menu is made from scratch. After eating the Dry Aged Brunch Burger, I believe them.
I don’t think there is any question as to whether I recommend visiting the Roost Uncommon Kitchen. If you are in the York area and you are looking for brunch or better yet, good food, try Roost. Have you been to Roost? Leave your comments below.
Now that I no longer live in Virginia, I always make a point of heading back to the Corner Cafe, in Portsmouth Virginia for breakfast, whenever I’m in town. America needs more Cafe’s like the Corner Cafe. When I lived in Portsmouth, my Saturday morning routine consisted of walking to the Corner Cafe for breakfast and good conversation. There is more to the Corner Cafe than good breakfast. Their menu is full of comfort food classics. Not to mention their daily specials. When I say America needs more Cafe’s like the Corner Cafe, I base this on the sense of community built by enjoying comfort food with people from every walk of life.
What is so special about the Corner Cafe’s breakfast? Their three-egg omelette is a good example of why people return to the Corner Cafe. The eggs are light and fluffy. They don’t skimp on fillings such as cheese, vegetables, mushrooms, and meats such as country ham, bacon, or sausage. Nothing disappoints me more than when I don’t get a choice of cheese. This is never the case when it comes to the Corner Cafe. Another aspect of what makes the Corner Cafe worth a visit is they listen to how you want your meal prepared. I was not let down when I ordered crispy hash browns. The hash browns were served golden brown on the outside and fluffy on the inside. It may be a small thing; I also appreciate that I can order my English muffin grilled. The English muffin becomes saturated with butter, yum. If you haven’t tried an English muffin grilled you should.
Chain restaurants offer good breakfast choices. I’m not about to criticize a Denny’s or Perkins; but we need more community diners such as the Corner Cafe. Community diners are like family. A place you know you will get a good home cooked meal, served by people you consider your friends. Do you have a favorite community diner? Have you been to the Corner Cafe? Leave your comments below.
Aki Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi
I’m very particular when it comes to Japanese food and tend to shy away from chain restaurants. For more than a year I have been driving past Aki Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi restaurant, saying to myself, you need to see if they are any good. My dilemma is that they are really good, but they are also a chain restaurant. Where I normally do not review chain restaurants, Aki is worth reviewing and better yet visiting.
Have you ever asked yourself what is the purpose of appetizers? They say that an appetizer is supposed to whet your appetite. Appetizers can also build anticipation of the pending meal. From the first bite of Aki’s Tempura Shrimp, Every bite had me anticipating my next bite, the Tempura Shrimp was really good. The tempura batter did not overpower the shrimp. You actually got shrimp with every bite. I would recommend sharing due to the pieces are large. Needless to say; I couldn’t wait for my meal.
To start with, there is a lot to be said about Aki’s presentation. I’m always impressed when a restaurant takes the extra steps to set their meals apart from their competition. I have reviewed Katsu Chicken in the past. One of the differences with Aki’s Katsu Chicken vise other places I have reviewed is the size of the portion. I was not expecting two large chicken breast patties. The patties generously covered with the panko breadcrumbs and deep fried to a golden brown. I did find the patties a little dry and I felt with such large patties, they should have been a little more generous with the Katsu Sauce. They didn’t have any problems bringing me more sauce.
Overall this was a very good meal. If anything, I was disappointed in myself for not leaving room for dessert. I saw on their menu they serve deep fried ice cream. I will definitely come back so I can try their Teriyaki Steak. if you are looking for dinner and a show, they do offer Hibachi Dinners prepared in front of you and your guest.
If I had done a little research in advance, I would have known that Aki Steakhouse and Sushi restaurant is a chain, with roots back to Japan. I don’t usually research, it defeats the purpose of discovery. I recommend Aki if you are looking for a good Japanese restaurant. Have you been to Aki or do you have a favorite Japanese restaurant’ leave your comments below.