Monthly Archives: June 2011

REVIEW: Sushi Republic – Greensboro

 

Sushi Republic is one of many locally owned sushi restaurants in Greensboro. It is located between UNC-Greensboro and Greensboro College on Tate Street near most of the UNC-Greensboro eateries. I used to live about a block away from the restaurant on Mendenhall when I first moved to Greensboro which is pretty much UNC-Greensboro off campus housing. I was living with my brother, Will, who is a bit of a sushi nut so we would walk down to Sushi Republic occasionally to grab a few rolls.

My brother got married last weekend so we went out to grab a bite to eat together and relax before the wedding . Since Sushi Republic is one of my brother’s favorite restaurants in Greensboro, we went there. I love sushi but I don’t like spending a whole lot of money on it. This was an exception since it was the last time that the two of us were going to be able to sit down together over dinner before he got hitched.

The interior of Sushi Republic is very dark which I find appealing. It wasn’t dark like a restaurant where it is hard to read the menu. It is dark in all areas except for the sushi bar and the tabletops so that the food being prepared and on the table is in the spotlight. I don’t think this would be the place that you would go to lunch to read a book unless it was a nice day and you were sitting out on their great patio that overlooks Tate Street. The patio is a great place to people watch when school is in session.

I had jumped on Yelp while we were deciding what to order and I saw someone had mentioned that their sake mojitos were incredible so we both ordered one. It was a very easy drinking cocktail that could easily catch up with you after one or two. It tasted like a drink that you would get at a Sonic Drive-Thru or something and was very refreshing.

We ordered them after the appetizer so they came out with the meal even though the paragraph placement in this blog post might imply otherwise.\Next time, I will order it right when I get there so I can sip on it while I look through the menu. It is great drink for a hot day especially if you are sitting on the patio at Sushi Republic.

Here is a recipe from Food & Wine Magazine for a sake mojito:

  • 6 mint leaves, plus 1 mint sprig
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 lime, cut into pieces
  • Ice
  • 5 ounces sake
  • 1 ounce chilled club soda

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the sugar and lime pieces. Add ice and the sake and shake well. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice, top with the club soda and garnish with the mint sprig.

 

We started out with an appetizer of shrimp sumai which are steamed shrimp dumplings served with a gyoza sauce. The dumplings are a little smaller than ping pong balls and served on a bed of shredded cabbage with carrot ribbons on the side. The gyoza dipping sauce had a nice flavor to it with a spicy flavor profile that didn’t rely too much on the soy sauce for taste. There are a few other appetizers that I want to try at Sushi Republic but I would be hard pressed not to order these again next time.

I am a sucker for dumplings. I even bought an Asian dumpling cookbook written by Andrea Nguyen because I love them so much. I am going to try to make shrimp sumai at home very soon and I hope they will taste just as good as Sushi Republic’s.

My brother’s favorite roll at Sushi Republic ($9.75) is the Rolls Royce. It is a California roll topped with diced tuna, tomato & radish sprout and then covered in a sweet ponzu sauce which is a citrus-based sauce commonly used in Japanese cuisine (via Wikipedia). While researching ponzu sauce on the Interwebs, I noticed that it tends to look more like soy sauce or gyoza sauce. Sushi Republic’s ponzu sauce is more soup-like which I think is a better pairing to the sushi because it meant that the roll wasn’t sitting in a bath of sodium. The chunks of raw tuna and tomato turns the Rolls Royce from a simple roll into an entire meal.

 

I ordered the Sushi Republic roll ($8.95) and my brother ordered the Kamikaze roll ($9.95) which they placed on a plate together. I really enjoyed the presentation of these two rolls together. The Sushi Republic roll is tempura fried tuna, asparagus and grab with yamagobo sauce with a spicy aioli. The Kamikaze roll is spicy yellowtail tuna, avocado, cucumber, asparagus  and crab that is tempura fried and then covered in eel sauce. We ended up trading pieces of each of the rolls so I got to try both of them. The Sushi Republic roll (yellow sauce) was my favorite of the two because it wasn’t so greasy. The tuna was the only thing tempura fried in the Sushi Republic roll and then rolled up versus the Kamikaze roll which was tempura fried whole after it was rolled together.

The slightly fuzzy picture above is the seafood yakisoba ($12.95) which is a stir-fried egg noodles with vegetables and mixed seafood laid on top of a banana leaf. I think it was a banana leaf but I am not well versed on my leaves.  The mixed seafood consisted of shrimp and calamari rings. I was impressed with the shrimp. They were de-shelled all the way down to the base of the tail while leaving the tail on which allows you to eat every bit of meat on the shrimp. The calamari rings were a little chewy for my liking and would have preferred scallops instead. I love Asian noodles and, for a little more than the price of a higher end specialty roll, I can get my fill of sushi and noodles for right around twenty bucks. I gave my brother a good amount of the noodles and seafood and still had plenty left over for myself.

Sushi Republic is one of my favorite places to go in Greensboro for sushi. It is a little pricey but that is sushi in general. I don’t think you will be disappointed in the selection of sushi items or sashimi. If you are looking for sushi in Greensboro, Sushi Republic should be your first stop.

Sushi Republic on Urbanspoon

Review: Worth It Cafe in Durham

Scientists, researchers and staffers alike are delighted that another lunch place has opened up in Durham about a year and a half ago, close to Research Triangle Park. Worth It Cafe features sandwiches, burgers and wraps that are made with wholesome ingredients, with an emphasis on serving local, family-owned farms and mainly use organic items. Just about everything at this cafe is homemade, including the wonderful root chips and the sweet potato fries and pasta salad. Even the dressing is homemade. As the farm-to-table revolution continues it is nice to know at least one restaurant adjacent to the Park has adopted this philosophy.

Worth It Cafe in Durham

It's great to have the option to eat outside on a nice day.

Many of us are trying to watch our weight, and want better choices when we dine out. Most of the dining options still include burgers and fries, hotdogs and sandwiches that are high in calories and carbs. Worth It Cafe tries to give people healthier choices while still serving items that are familiar to the lunch crowd.

Chef Chuck Hayworth and his wife, Aileen, own Worth It Cafe and Chef Hayworth’s passion to provide healthy foods to people shines. You can read his bio here. They also have catering services and if you are too busy to cook a meal at night, you can order a meal by 3pm and pick it up on your way home from work anytime from 4:30 – 7pm during the weekdays.

Inside the Worth It Cafe

You can see the homemade salad dressings and root chips in the display case.

The first time I tried this place, I ordered the lamb burger and sweet potato fries. I was served a big, juicy piece of ground lamb on a large wheat bun with roasted red peppers and a cucumber yogurt sauce, also known as tzatiki sauce.  The lamb was perfect and the portion was quite generous. The sweet potato fries had the right amount of saltiness to them and were warm and tasty, though a little soggy. I would have been more satisfied if they had some more crispiness, but in all fairness, we had our meals to go, and they may have gotten soggy on the ride back to the office. I was sorry I hadn’t brought my camera along so I could show you what the burger and fries looked like.

A couple of weeks later, I decided to try the cafe again and this time I came armed with the camera. I decided to try one of the specials of the day, which was summer squash (both summer and zucchini) in a pesto sauce stuffed in a hoagie bun. OK, Worth It Cafe called this Cuban bread, but we’ve already been through what constitutes Cuban bread (See my review on the Old Havana Cafe). I know the chef trained in Miami, but I’m sorry, this is still not what I would call Cuban bread.  The squash and pesto were warm and nestled snuggly in the middle of the bread. It was a perfect sandwich to have on a hot day. Today I tried the root chips, which were made of beets, sweet potatoes and probably turnips. They were great. I could feel better about eating these than some processed potato chips.

Summer squash pesto sandwich

This is the summer squash pesto sandwich and homemade root chips.

My friend had the balsamic chicken and artichoke sandwich. It was made with grilled chicken that had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and search with a sun-dried tomato pesto, provolone cheese and artichoke spread. Again the portion was quite generous and very delicious!

Worth It Cafe is located at the shopping center where the Sheetz gas station is located, on the corner of T.W. Alexander Drive and Miami Boulevard. Their address is 2945-122 S. Miami Boulevard.

 

ROAD TRIP: Chick’s Oyster Bar – Virginia Beach

Chick’s Oyster Bar is a dockside seafood restaurant on the Lynnhaven Inlet (by boat) or just off of Shore Drive on Vista Circle  (by car) in Virginia Beach. This restaurant is a Virginia Beach staple that both locals and tourists have been eating at since it first opened as a seafood shack many years ago (not sure how long ago but I heard that it has been there for a while). They have increased the size of the restaurant to allow seating more people and have a great Bloody Mary bar on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

I was  up in Virginia Beach for one of my best friends’ weddings about two months ago and he had planned the groomsman’s lunch  at Chick’s that Saturday before the wedding. The groomsmen all headed up there  for lunch and had a blast. It is a great place to get together with friends especially when one of them is about to get married. Grab some cocktails and some good seafood and sit back and take it all in.

They have over a dozen picnic tables out on various patios right on the water and plus inside seating (but come on…why would you sit inside? You’re at the beach!!!). The inlet that Chick’s backs up to is a pretty busy waterway with boats constantly going up and down which is a lot of fun to watch. You will see everything from speedboats to Grady-Whites to shrimping boats so you won’t be bored as you watch them pass alongside the restaurant as you read the names on the boats and see where they hail from.

I do want to note that because you are sitting outside on the water that insects like mosquitoes and flies are prevalent. The benefits of sitting outside on a nice day far outweigh the issue of dealing with a few bugs in the air. It is so worth it when you see an old school 80’s speedboat idle by that looks like it was pulled off the set of the original Miami Vice.

When I think of Virginia Beach, I think of two things: jet noise and Orange Crushes. Jet noise is prevalent around Virginia Beach due to F-18s flying out of Oceana Naval Air Station and flying low enough around the beach area to make noise. Locals are so used to it that they seem to like it and actually even have bumper stickers reading “I (Heart) Jet Noise” but it may be a little too much for visitors who aren’t used to it. I guess it is like getting used to living with crickets in the country and bright lights in the big city.

However, I am more fond of Orange Crushes than I am of jet noise. An Orange Crush is a alcoholic drink served at many restaurants on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach that consists of a freshly squeezed orange, vodka, triple sec and Sprite over crushed ice. There are few things better than sitting out on a patio in the sun with some friends drinking Orange Crushes all afternoon. It might be the simplest beach bar drinks that you can easily make from scratch at home.

Here is the recipe for an Orange Crush that I found from Waterman’s which is considered by some as the best place to go for Orange Crushes in Virginia Beach However, Chick’s is up there with one of the best crushes on the beach:

  • 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • 1 oz orange vodka
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • splash of Sprite
  • crushed ice

Combine and then pour all ingredients over the crushed ice and enjoy. I prefer using pebble or pellet ice instead of crushed ice which I have heard that you can pick up by the bag at Sonic Drive-Thru’s but that is only what I’ve heard..

The Beach Party Combo ($17.00) is the combination appetizer consisting of four Oysters Rockefeller, four Clams Casino and four fried butterflied shrimp. If you are looking for a taste of what Chicks has to offer.  Seventeen bucks is kind of pricey for these for 12 items but they were all delicious and were off the plate almost as quick as the waiter was able to put it down.

We also ordered the North Beach Nachos ($9.50) with blackened tuna bites (+ $4.00) for the table. This was probably the least impressive of the dishes that we ordered. The blackened tuna bites were pretty good but I prefer my tuna when it is cooked Pittsburgh rare. The tuna served on the nachos were well done and kind of chewy. The kitchen could also have layered the nachos a little bit better because once the top layer was eaten, the remaining chips were almost naked and very bland.

We also ordered the Fried Oyster Basket ($12.00) which as you can see was already half-eaten by the time I was able to get a picture of them. They are served with a house dipping sauce called Lava Sauce which is a creamy and spicy. I love the way that Chicks fries their oysters because they use a light breading that has both a hint of salt and a hint of spice to it but let the oyster provide most of the taste. These were a hit and we reordered them the second time.

 

I don’t know why I ordered the She-Crab Soup ($6.00) that day because it was pretty dang hot outside but I had read on Yelp that you don’t want to miss Chick’s She-Crab Soup. It came in a large bowl with saltines and oyster crackers. Even though it was a hot outside, the She-Crab Soup was on point. It had large chunks of crab and some onions. I couldn’t tell what thickening agent they used outside of heavy cream and the crab roe. This was a great soup and would be even better if the outside temperature was a little cooler and there a nice breeze. I would recommend getting it no matter the weather.

 

I ordered the Golden Fried Flounder “B.L.T” ($10.50) on recommendation of a few of the guys who had been there before. The sandwich was a bun-sized piece of fried flounder with two pieces of bacon, tomato and lettuce on a kaiser roll. I was so impressed with the fried flounder that  I actually ordered this both days that I went to Chick’s that weekend. However, the bun was less than impressive. It fell apart, both days, as I was eating it especially if it touched any of the cocktail sauce that they serve with the sandwich. I decided not to put as much cocktail sauce on it the second day. The first day, the bacon wasn’t cooked to a crisp as I think it should be on a sandwich but they made up for it the second day with some extra crispy strips. The lettuce was great both days but the tomato was sub-par and could have been a little more ripe.

The fries for both the flounder B.L.T. and the burger were fresh cut and fried perfectly. I actually kept the Lava Sauce that came with the oysters and used it for dipping the fries in. They don’t pile on the fries but they do give you enough for a meal.

 

Someone ordered the Jimmy’s Ultimate Crab Topped Burger ($11.50) which was your average cheeseburger topped with an abundance of backfin crab meat. Both the cheese and the burger looked great but I didn’t get to try it. It seemed to be a winner. It is definitely a little pricey for a burger but anything gets expensive when you put crab meat on it. You will be spending anywhere from $8.00 to $11.50 depending on what type of burger you order.

Chick’s is considered one of the gems of Virginia Beach but it hasn’t been getting the best reviews on social media sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon. Most of the negative comments have been about the food or wait staff. I went twice over the weekend and received great service plus the food was fantastic. I don’t know if this place is hit or miss but it hit both times that I went. You should check out this place if you are in Virginia Beach on a beautiful day and let us know what you think.

Chick’s Oyster Bar only has valet parking, which is free, so make sure that you have a couple of bucks to tip the valets. I don’t believe there is an option to self-park. This seems to be pretty common in Virginia Beach due to parking limitations in the area. You will probably see some $200,000 plus exotic cars there so take a camera if you are a car lover.

Chick's Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

 

REVIEW: Chubby’s Tacos – Durham/Raleigh

 

Photo Credit: Tom B. on Yelp

I work at a nonprofit organization in RTP that is filled with postdocs, and grad students who are on a tight budget, and everyone has been telling me about Chubby’s Tacos. Recently, my husband bought a Groupon for Chubby’s, so I took the Groupon with me to work and decided to check it out. You can eat as cheaply as you’d like here. Tacos start at about $2 and the most expensive meal is about $10. In this day and age of recession, high gas prices and general tightening of the belt, this is a welcome surprise.

Chubby’s has several locations in Raleigh and Durham, but the one I ate at is off of Miami Boulevard near RTP, a mere 2.5 miles from where I work. When you first walk in, you see a large menu board and there’s a line you enter to order your food at the counter, much like a fast food restaurant. There are ample places to sit after you have ordered.

Actually, I had been to Chubby’s once before a few months ago and had the fish tacos. They were very inexpensive, but small, so I was left still feeling hungry. This time, I ordered the tofu and veggie burrito meal and was given a burrito that seemed like it could feed a small village! I could barely finish 1/2 of it! The wonderful surprise was that they used some decent vegetables in the burrito, including cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce and carrots along with a very generous portion of Mexican rice and nice, large pieces of tofu. The burrito was $6 with an added $2 for the meal, which included a side of Mexican rice, black beans and homemade tortilla chips. I was surprised by the great quality of the burrito and never expected to get freshly steamed vegetables in the burrito. Most of the time when you order a veggie burrito at a typical Mexican restaurant, you get refried beans, which are not at all healthy for you.  Using my $10 Groupon the meal was free and I actually had a little bit of money to spare.

tofu burrito at Chubbys

This is just half of a tofu and veggie burrito from Chubby's

My friend, Katherine, also ordered a burrito, but she got one with chicken. The burrito was filled with chicken that has been slowly cooked and very tender. It was soaked in some kind of enchilada sauce. She said it was really tasty and very filling. She only finished a third of her burrito.

chubbys burrito meal

This is my "to go" burrito meal from Chubby's. Definitely enough for two meals!

Chubby’s has a great salsa bar, with several different types of salsa. I tried two of the medium spicy ones.  One was made with guacamole and had onions and just the right about of heat to make it interesting. The other was a great chunky salsa. I like to see the bits of onion, cilantro and tomato in my salsa, but it’s all about what you like. Chubby’s choices ranged from a more mild red salsa to a very hot habanero sauce.

The menu touts many of the Mexican favorites including tacos, burritos, quesadillas,  nachos, taco salads, gorditas and tortas. Don’t expect many frills here, but the food is decent and as I’ve said, easy on the pocketbook. I look forward to going again soon to try a taco salad or a quesadilla.

Chubby's Tacos on Urbanspoon

Chubby’s is located at 2806 S Miami Blvd in Durham. They also have locations at 748 Ninth Street in Durham, 4711 Hope Valley Road in Durham, 10511 Shadowlawn Dr. in Raleigh and 2444 Wycliff Road in Raleigh. Maybe someday soon they will open a location in Chapel Hill as well? Many students and starving artists hope they will do so!

REVIEW: Osteria Cicchetti – Wilmington

 

Osteria Cicchetti, known to locals at The O.C., is one of Wilmington’s best known Italian restaurants. The menu isn’t extremely large which is sometimes a good thing because the kitchen can focus on perfecting the smaller amount of items on the menu. They serve a variety of pasta dishes, pizza, salads, antipasti and cold dishes (brushchette, spreads, cicchetti, formaggi & sallumi.

The interior of the restaurant looks like a Venice sidewalk at night which is dimly lit by scattered street lamps throughout the dining room. It has that old world Italian feel that gives it a sense of romanticism. I tried to get a few shots of the interior but it was a little too dark for my camera to get anything worthwhile to post. We were in town for an engagement party so I went out with a few of my friends (Will, Jordan, Elliot, Ashley and Dan) to get a nice dinner before the party.

We ordered calimari ($8.75) which came with marinari and pepperocini aioli dipping sauces. It was a great appetizer.  The squid was flash-fried and covered in a salty, spicy breading which was only complimented when dipped in the pepperocini aioli. They fried them perfectly so that the exterior was crispy and the interior was tender and not chewy.

Osteria Cicchetti serves some delectable, complimentary bread up with olive oil and spices for dipping. They served two different types of bread: one was a pane carasau (flat bread) and the other was a hardened Italian loaf. I love complimentary bread and would actually go back just for drinks and appetizers so I could get some of this bread again.

Elliot ordered the Meatballs Napoli ($6.00) which is two baseball sized meatballs covered in melted mozzarella and then served in a bowl full of Napoli sauce which is basically a chunkier version of marinara sauce. I got a few bites of these and would definitely order them again the next time I go. I almost ordered the spaghetti and meatballs for dinner but figured I would try something else since I was planning on reviewing it for the blog.

I ordered the Rigate Melanzane which is shell-shaped pasta with eggplant and fontina & mozzarella in a pomodoro sauce. It was good but, in hindsight, I would have gotten something with a little bit more substance (read as: seafood, chicken, steak). It is an good vegetarian selection with a lot of flavor. The portion was massive. My one issue with the dish was that it seemed like it was a little oily but that didn’t stop me from almost finishing it. My apologies for the bad picture. I took a few and none of them turned out very well.

I would definitely go back to Osteria Cicchetti the next time that I am craving Italian food when I am down in Wilmington. It was a great experience and very reasonable priced for such a nice restaurant. This is definitely a great spot for a family get together or a date. Check it out. I think you will like it.

Osteria Cicchetti on Urbanspoon

 

REVIEW: Brown-Gardiner Drugstore – Greensboro

Brown-Gardiner is one of those places that hasn’t changed much since it first opened in Greensboro. It is one of the few remaining family-owned pharmacies with a lunch counter that I have come across during my food adventures.  For me, Brown-Gardiner is a place that I just can fathom how I haven’t been there before. A few years ago, I drove by it hundreds and hundreds of times going back and forth from my apartment and my office without ever realizing that it was a restaurant.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I finally found out about Brown-Gardiner and decided to head up there for lunch one day. I went up there with my friend, Elliot, and one of his buddies for a quick bite to eat. Elliot’s girlfriend, Ashley, grew up in Greensboro and told me that it was a place I need to review for Eat It, North Carolina. I am glad she told me about it because I don’t think I would have ever made it there if she didn’t say anything about it.

Brown-Gardiner is a gathering place for many different people in Greensboro ranging from local high school students to some of the most influential politicians in Greensboro. It is more than just a place where people eat lunch. People go to Brown-Gardiner to be a part of the Greensboro community and to spend time with each other. It is a very family-oriented place that is the local hot spot for grabbing a quick bite to eat with friends.

Elliot went with a cheeseburger combo with lettuce & tomato which came with a size of large crispy crinkle-cut fries. The lettuce and tomato were both fresh and looked great. The burger itself is pretty small and similar in size to a value cheeseburger from McDonald’s or Wendy’s.  They cook the patties on a flat top grill that has been there for ages. Elliot saw one of the burgers come out and decided to get an additional hot dog. He said the additional hot dog was a good idea because he didn’t think the burger combo would have filled him up. He said the hot dog was pretty good albeit a little sloppy.

 

I asked the waitress what I should order and she said, without hesitation, that I needed to try the Nanny Special. This is the signature sandwich which is named after Imogene “Nanny” Sells, who ran the soda fountain for 23 years until she recently passed away in 2008. The sandwich actually sounds a little sketchy on the menu and I was a little hesitant about ordering it. The description for the sandwich is “Steak’um, grilled onions, Swiss cheese, special sauce on a hoagie.”

It doesn’t sound very appealing and didn’t actually look that good when it came to the table either. Frankly, I was a little disappointed at both myself and the waitress who suggested it. I guess I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because although this sandwich looked sketchy, it had an awesome taste  to it.  Nanny Special would have just been an ordinary steak sandwich if it wasn’t for the special sauce which was like a hybrid barbecue sauce/ketchup that was interesting for the first bit or two and then just turned extremely delicious for the rest of the sandwich. I wish they would get away from Steak’um and use some real meat for the sandwich but, for what its worth, it was still pretty good.

I would consider Brown-Gardiner Drug Store more of a food experience at a historically relevant place in Greensboro as opposed to a must-go place because of the food. They have delicious hand-squeezed orangeade served over pebble ice which is a must if you go. Brown-Gardiner is one of those places that you should go to take in the community & fun and enjoy a fairly inexpensive, lunch counter. It won’t be the best lunch that you’ve ever eaten but I have the feeling you will have a good experience up there!

Brown Gardiner Fountain on Urbanspoon

Review: Worth It Cafe – Durham

Scientists, researchers and staffers alike are delighted that another lunch place has opened up in Durham about a year and a half ago, close to Research Triangle Park. Worth It Cafe features sandwiches, burgers and wraps that are made with wholesome ingredients, with an emphasis on serving local, family-owned farms and mainly use organic items. Just about everything at this cafe is homemade, including the wonderful root chips and the sweet potato fries and pasta salad. Even the dressing is homemade. As the farm-to-table revolution continues it is nice to know at least one restaurant adjacent to the Park has adopted this philosophy.

Worth It Cafe in Durham

It's great to have the option to eat outside on a nice day.

Many of us are trying to watch our weight, and want better choices when we dine out. Most of the dining options still include burgers and fries, hotdogs and sandwiches that are high in calories and carbs. Worth It Cafe tries to give people healthier choices while still serving items that are familiar to the lunch crowd.

Chef Chuck Hayworth and his wife, Aileen, own Worth It Cafe and Chef Hayworth’s passion to provide healthy foods to people shines. You can read his bio here. They also have catering services and if you are too busy to cook a meal at night, you can order a meal by 3pm and pick it up on your way home from work anytime from 4:30 – 7pm during the weekdays.

inside the Worth It Cafe

You can see the homemade dressings and chips in the display cases.

The first time I tried this place, I ordered the lamb burger and sweet potato fries. I was served a big, juicy piece of ground lamb on a large wheat bun with roasted red peppers and a cucumber yogurt sauce, also known as tzatiki sauce.  The lamb was perfect and the portion was quite generous. The sweet potato fries had the right amount of saltiness to them and were warm and tasty, though a little soggy. I would have been more satisfied if they had some more crispiness, but in all fairness, we had our meals to go, and they may have gotten soggy on the ride back to the office. I was sorry I hadn’t brought my camera along so I could show you what the burger and fries looked like.

A couple of weeks later, I decided to try the cafe again and this time I came armed with the camera. I decided to try one of the specials of the day, which was summer squash (both summer and zucchini) in a pesto sauce stuffed in a hoagie bun. OK, Worth It Cafe called this Cuban bread, but we’ve already been through what constitutes Cuban bread (See my review on the Old Havana Cafe). I know the chef trained in Miami, but I’m sorry, this is still not what I would call Cuban bread.  The squash and pesto were warm and nestled snuggly in the middle of the bread. It was a perfect sandwich to have on a hot day. Today I tried the root chips, which were made of beets, sweet potatoes and probably turnips. They were great. I could feel better about eating these than some processed potato chips.

Summer squash and pesto sandwich

This is the summer squash pesto sandwich and homemade root chips.

My friend had the balsamic chicken and artichoke sandwich. It was made with grilled chicken that had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and search with a sun-dried tomato pesto, provolone cheese and artichoke spread. Again the portion was quite generous and very delicious!

Worth It Cafe is located at the shopping center where the Sheetz gas station is located, on the corner of T.W. Alexander Drive and Miami Boulevard. Their address is 2945-122 S. Miami Boulevard.

Worth It Cafe on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Donut World – Greensboro

In the land of Krispy Kreme, opening a donut shop would be considered foolish to many. However, Lean Ly and her family moved here from California with the drive to open up Greensboro’s best donut shop and a surefire recipe for the best donuts that you have had. Ly and her family opened up the first Donut World location sometime back in January or February of 2010 on West Market Street. They opened a second location a few months ago on Battleground Avenue.

The interior of Donut World isn’t anything fancy. They have a large donut display case, a few tables, a coffee station and a drink cooler. The donuts are made in the back and fresh ones are constantly being brought up front. Donut World is very minimal which another reason why I love this place. They rely on the quality of the product that they are selling instead of the frills that come with it and this is why I think Donut World works in the land of Krispy Kreme.

Donut World offers a huge selection of donuts: French crullers, bear claws, maple bars, old fashions, glazed, buttermilks, blueberry, jelly donuts, cinnamon rolls, donut holes, sugar raised, twists and apple fritters. When I used to buy them for the office, I would always have trouble trying to figure out which types I wanted to get in my dozen. I think I have tried at least one of every donut from Donut World and haven’t had a bad one yet. Their donuts all have some body so they are great to eat alongside a hot cup of coffee.

I know that some people will always stay true to the wispy, sugar-coated doughnuts from Kripy Kreme. It is turn down the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign when it is lit up outside the store. Those things just melt in your mouth. I grew up on them and still love them. I don’t eat donuts very much but, when I do, I have been by-passing Krispy Kreme for Donut World and I am happy with my decision each time that I do it.

If I were to pick a favorite item that I get from Donut World, it would have to be their apple fritter. These things are pure goodness although they might actually take a year off of your life a la Paula Deen with the amount of butter and sugar that each one has. They also have fresh apples so you can sell that fact to your guilty conscience while you take it down. The picture above doesn’t do it justice so make sure you get one if you go to Donut World. It will be the best $1.45 that you have ever spent.

Donut World’s coffee station looks a little weak at first glance but they actually have good coffee there. It isn’t fancy like a Starbucks or Port City Java type of coffee. Don’t try to order your non-fat soy milk latte because they just have regular coffee that is brewed right each time. However, their coffee cups aren’t the greatest (styrofoam with the old school foldback tab) which doesn’t really make it very friendly on the drive into work in the morning.

Get outside of the Krispy Kreme box and give Donut World a try. I promise that you won’t be disappointed and I have the feeling that you will become a fan. The original Donut World location is in the same shopping center as the DMV on West Market Street so you might be able to kill two birds with one stone if you need to renew your driver’s license.

Donut World on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Bill’s Hot Dogs – Washington, NC

If you ask anyone from Washington, NC what the best hot dog in North Carolina is, there is a 99% chance that they will tell you that it is Bill’s Hot Dog down by the waterfront. If they tell you about another hot dog, they might be lying about being from Little Washington (a nickname that many people have given the town). I went to college less than an hour away there in Greenville. I drove down to Washington occasionally when I was in school but I never went to Bill’s back then even with as many people from there who told me about their hometown favorite.

Bill’s Hot Dogs is located on Gladden Street in downtown Washington near the historic waterfront. When you walk through the front door, you enter in a small room that has a brief standing area right before the counter. Their specialty is hot dogs and they only like to serve them one way. The staff at Bill’s Hot Dogs isn’t the most welcoming bunch and tend to be a little bit abrasive especially if you don’t know what you want. You tend to find this at restaurants that have gained statewide notoriety. Bill’s Hot Dogs are cheap eating, too, as each hot dog is only $0.98.

 

A lot of people enjoy cruising on their boats to the waterfront on a nice day, tying their boat off on the community dock and then heading up to Bill’s to grab a couple of hot dogs with friends. If you don’t have a boat, you can still grab a parking spot down near the waterfront and walk up. My dad and I were on the way through eastern North Carolina and decided to take a detour through Washington to give Bill’s Hot Dogs a try. It was a pretty windy & chilly day but we still decided to sit out a bench on the waterfront and eat our hot dogs. It was very relaxing sitting out by the water.

The hot dogs at Bill’s are the nuclear red dog that is fried in a vat of grease and then dropped in a steamed bun. Their “all-the-way” dog is served with chopped raw onions, mustard and their signature chili which is a meatless, white pepper chili. The toppings are placed on the bun before the wiener is added so you can’t really see them in the picture (above).The mustard is the everyday yellow stuff and the onions are pretty pungent which is what I like. The thing that sets Bill’s hot dogs apart from the rest is the signature chili. They call it a chili but is actually more of a gravy. It is laced with pepper and has a pretty strong kick to it. It is definitely different than any hot dog that I have ever tried.

I am not sure if it was a bad day at Bill’s or not but my dad & I didn’t enjoy our hot dogs. I usually have a stomach of steel and can eat pretty much anything but these Bill’s Hot Dogs crushed me. I took me about three or four hours until I started feeling somewhat decent. It was brutal and has me not wanting to go back to Bill’s anytime soon. My dad said he felt as awful as I did, too. Here is a supposed recipe for Bill’s signature chili which has been a secret for many years although there have been some replicas produced like at Warren’s Hot Dogs in Greenville.

POSSIBLE RECIPE FOR BILL’S HOT DOGS SIGNATURE CHILI

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 onion
  • 4 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/2 tsp of texas pete
  • 1/2 tsp of tabasco sauce
  • dash of red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Cut up onion,add water,bring to a boil and add all ingredients,except flour. Cook 5 mins and add flour

— via user, cmidgettec, on RoadFood.com

Even though I had a bad experience at Bill’s Hot dogs, I still suggest that you stop by and try it out for yourself. I may stop by there again when I am in the area and give it another try just because of the large amount of good friends that have told me how much they enjoy those dogs. I don’t want to write it off yet.

Bill's Hotdogs on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Grammy’s Restaurant – Cedar Mountain

After spending a long, fun weekend hiking through the North Carolina mountains and exploring all the trails through the beautiful wilderness that our state has to offer, the one thing that most people look for is a delicious, local restaurant where they can get a hot cup of coffee and a filling breakfast. If you are hiking around Cedar Mountain, NC, you should make Grammy’s Restaurant that place when you get off the trail after spending the weekend eating out of your pack.

I had spent the weekend running around a former YMCA camp in the area with a bunch of friends for a wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony that had the backdrop of North Carolina’s beautiful mountain ranges while they exchanged vows. They served a lot of delicious food or beer with a whole pig plus sides catered by ED Boudreaux’s Bayou Bar-B-Que in downtown Asheville and kegs from Highland Brewery (Gaelic Ale, Kashmir IPA) and Pisgah Brewing (Pale Ale, IPA) so we were all eating & drinking like kings!

We woke up on Sunday craving a hearty breakfast so Taylor, Maria, Jackie & I decided to head down to Grammy’s where Taylor had gone the day before. He said it was a great homestyle breakfast place and that the biscuits were awesome. The wedding couple provided a continental breakfast that morning but we were all feeling something  a little more so we decided to do a bigger brunch at Grammy’s.

Grammy’s Restaurant is located on NC 276 (also known as Greenville Highway) in Cedar Mountain right near the border of North Carolina and South Carolina. NC 276 is a  two-lane road winding through the mountains with some pretty sharp curves. It is a beautiful drive passing by local stores and gorgeous farmland that is only made better by rolling the windows down and listening to some awesome tunes.

The great thing about brunch is that you can get a little bit of something from the breakfast menu and a little bit of something from the lunch menu. The corn fritters were something that stood out to us off of the lunch menu so we decided to start with those as an appetizer. They were a real Southern treat with fresh, sweet corn packed inside a crispy, fried exterior. It tasted almost like they might have used creamed corn in these. Either way, they were delicious and I’m pretty sure that the whole table was glad that we ordered them. Here is a delicious-looking recipe for corn fritters that I found on a cool blog called The Pioneer Woman. I think I am going to have to make these at home sometime soon!

Taylor ordered the Cedar Mountain Big Breakfast which consists of 2 eggs (cooked any way), 2 pieces of bacon, 2 sausage patties and your choice of either 2 pancakes or French toast or one order of biscuits & gravy. This thing was massive and I sadly was only able to get a picture of the biscuits & gravy which Taylor gave me a bite so I could try it. It had large chunks of sausage and the gravy was very rich with a nice spice to it. The biscuits are homemade and are perfect for being covered in their homemade gravy.  The slice of watermelon made the plate look a little healthier although it might have been better if it was placed on the main plate so that it didn’t touch the gravy.

The picture that I took of the whole Cedar Mountain Big Breakfast  just didn’t turn out very well. Taylor was hoping that they would have hand-pattied the sausage but it turned out to be freezer sausage which was a little disappointing. The eggs were cooked exactly how Taylor ordered and looked like fresh, local eggs. I would definitely get the Cedar Mountain Big Breakfast the next time that I was there but it was just a little bit too much food for me to handle that morning.

I ended up ordering the country ham biscuit with egg and cheese. The country ham was exactly what I was hoping for when I ordered it with a sweet, salty crust and tender ham on the biscuit. I have the feeling that the country ham was either cured in house or by someone locally. They pan seared the ham before they folded it onto the biscuit which helped pull out a lot of the taste from when it was cured. The egg are cooked like a filling-less omelette and then served and the biscuit as well as a slice of cheese melted on it. The waitress gave me an unusual look when I ordered the cheese but I have found that a slice of melted cheese can hold together a crumbling biscuit.

The home fries were served sliced and cooked to a crisp. They weren’t greasy and tasted great dipped in a mix of the ketchup and the locally sponsored hot sauce (Stew’s Heating & Cooling, Inc’s Affinity Hot Heat Pump Sauce). I usually prefer a hash browns or cubed home fries but these were pretty good. However, I don’t think they were sliced fresh but I could be wrong. They were pretty much thicker versions of homemade potato chips.

If you are in the area, you definitely need to stop by Grammy’s for a good home-cooked breakfast. The staff is extremely friendly and you won’t be disappointed in the food and you definitely get your money’s worth.

Grammy's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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