Archive for August, 2010

Brasa is a Brazilian Steakhouse in Brier Creek.  I don’t know how authentic it is, but it was much like the other rodizio grill we’ve been to before, Chamas Churrascaria.  They’ve got the hot and cold buffet, and the meats come out on huge swords.

Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Balsamic Mushrooms and Shrimp Croquette

The pricing is pretty steep.  For just the dinner buffet (no meat) the price is $27.  For the buffet and meats, the price is $37.  And for the buffet, meats and a lobster tail, you can get up to $55.  I suppose someone might say that unlimited meat for $37 is a great deal, but I find it very challenging to eat $37 worth of meat.  And I wouldn’t advise coming at all if you’re a vegetarian, since $27 would be a high price to pay for a buffet that’s really not aiming to be a complete meal.

Assortment of Meats

My husband and I both ordered the “Gold” dinner for $37.  We were instructed to help ourselves to the buffet, and turn over our stone to the green side once we were ready to start on the meat.  I looked over the buffet and it was really quite impressive.  The cold dishes were really beautifully arranged, and everything looked delicious.  I didn’t want to fill myself up on salad at a Brazilian steakhouse though, so I limited myself to just a few things.  The shrimp croquette was fantastic, and this is coming from someone who normally doesn’t even eat shrimp.  The balsamic mushrooms were okay, but probably would have been better as a compliment to meat and not on their own.  The potatoes were good but the onion chunks were too much.  And the sweet potatoes with maple syrup, walnuts and raisins was delicious, but too much like a dessert for this time in the meal.  I should have had it after the meats.

More Meats

I turned my stone to green and the swords with meats started to get paraded out.  I passed on the chicken ones, I’m not a big chicken fan.  I also requested that my meats should be medium-rare, and the server did his best to accommodate my request.  My husband ordered medium-well and we both were usually able to get a decent sampling out of each swordful of meat.  Some of the meats, like the lamb and the ribs, were a bit dry for my taste, but the majority were very, very good.  I especially loved the filet mignon, I think it was the most perfectly cooked filet mignon I’ve ever had.

Fruit Salad with Coconut

I had to pass on the last few swordfuls; I got too full to try all the meats.  Then at the end they bring out a pineapple on a sword to help aid with digestion.  I also got a couple of chocolate covered strawberries and some of the coconut-covered fruit salad from the cold buffet to finish off the meal.

I loved the decor of the restaurant, inside and out.  It really made a nice, pleasant atmosphere for enjoying the experience.  But the price is pretty steep, and I think that this kind of gluttony should only be allowed about once a year or so.  I was so full after all that, and I stayed full for hours and hours.  I think I probably ate more food that evening than a third world village eats in a week.  I think it’s a nice special occasion restaurant, maybe for birthdays or celebrations where you can let yourself go.

Indoor Fountain

Cold Buffet

Brasa on Urbanspoon

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We happened to go to Chick-Fil-A in Apex on the night they were having an elementary school fundraiser, so the place was insanely busy.  I’m not going to count the crowds or lines against them, I’m sure they’re normally very quick and easy for getting food.  I’m sorry I didn’t get an exterior picture, but it was a very stormy day out as well.  This Chick-Fil-A is across the street from Lowes and Target, near other restaurants like Chili’s, TGIFridays and IHOP.

Chargrilled Chicken Club Sandwich

My husband ordered the Chargrilled Chicken Club Sandwich meal, which came with their waffle fries and a Coke for $7.  $7 seemed expensive to me, I remember when value meals used to cost $3.  Guess I’m old and don’t go to fast food places much.  I tried one of the waffle fries.  It was decent, but I think I prefer regular stick-shaped fries.  My husband really liked them though, he said they were the best fast food fries he’s ever had.   They taste very much like real potatoes.  The chicken club wasn’t as good though.  He said the bacon was good, the chicken not so much.

Chicken Nuggets

My son got the 4-piece chicken nugget kids meal with a fruit cup and chocolate milk.  I figured as far as kid’s meals goes, it wasn’t too bad.  It even came with a toy, a small timer.  The price was $2.95, which I guess is normal for kid’s meals these days.  He drank all his chocolate milk, but wouldn’t touch the fruit cup.  I ended up eating the fruit cup later, I thought it was good.  It had bite sized pieces of apple, mandarin orange, grapes and strawberries.  He did eat 2 chicken nuggets, but he fought me quite a bit on those 2.  I thought they were good quality though, they appeared to be real chicken meat as opposed to ground chicken bits.

Chicken Tenders and Fruit Cup

I got an order of 3 chicken tenders and a side of medium coleslaw.  The chicken tenders were real white meat chicken breast, which was nice.  But they seemed very greasy and had a lot of stringy bits in them, like they hadn’t trimmed off that one big vein that goes down a chicken breast.  I dipped it in their honey mustard sauce, which unfortunately isn’t nearly as good as my own honey mustard or the honey mustard I get with Tyler’s chicken tenders.  The coleslaw was edible but certainly not my favorite coleslaw.  It had a lot of creamy sauce and sugar in it, whereas I prefer mine more vinegary.   But at least they don’t put a ton of pepper on it like some places in the South.  The chicken strips were fairly priced at $3.05 and the medium coleslaw was $1.65, so it was a nice cheap meal.

Waffle Potato Fries

As I said, I forgive the restaurant for being overly busy on this night, and I certainly won’t judge them on that.  The restaurant was decently kept up considering the hundreds they were serving tonight, and they did get out the food as fresh and hot as possible.  I think the main problem is, I just don’t really love chicken all that much.  I really prefer beef, pork or lamb if I’m going to be eating meat.  I didn’t love the fries all that much either, I prefer steak fries with no skin on them.  But my husband sure did love them.  And I like that my son can eat real white meat chicken instead of the usual ground chicken pulp, but unfortunately he didn’t appreciate the chicken nuggets for this fact.  If I’m ever on the road and had to stop in for food, I would probably pick Chick-Fil-A over a Wendy’s or Burger King, but I don’t think I’ll probably be visiting this place again on purpose, with there being so many nicer restaurants in the area (especially IHOP next door, my son’s favorite).

Chick-Fil-a on Urbanspoon

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Bavarian Brathaus is in a strip mall just south of Hwy. 1/64 along SE Cary Parkway.  The strip mall isn’t particularly appealing but I’ve found a lot of the best Triangle restaurants happen to be in cheap-looking strip mall settings.  The building does have some unique architecture with a beautiful outdoor seating area, and they’ve really done a lot to the interior to make it like a traditional German Rathskeller.

Inside there’s cuckoo clocks on the walls, German cups and saucers, stone walls and fireplace, beer steins, and other German-themed decor.  The restaurant was pretty dark but there were small lights along the wall in each booth, which really helped when taking pictures of the food.

We got a food menu, drink menu, and kids menu.  For drinks I got a water and half liter of Franziskaner Weissbier, my husband got a Sprite and my son got an orange juice.  I asked about Berliner Weiss, just in case they might have it, and they didn’t.  It was worth a shot…  the Franziskaner was very good in any case, the typical girly beer that I like so much.

The kid’s menu seemed a bit expensive to me, and didn’t offer a lot of selections that would be appealing to the typical kid.  I would think if a kid is willing to order something like a Munchner Sauerbraten then they could just order off the regular menu and have leftovers.  The prices were $3.99 for the very cheapest dish (Kasespatzel/Cheese noodles) and the rest were $4.99-$7.99.  My son didn’t want anything on the menu, so he ended up just eating bread and some of the dessert.

Franziskaner Weissbier

The bread basket came out pretty quickly, and was very good.  The rolls were a little hard to cut, but the insides were soft and warm and tasted great with their honey butter.

My husband ordered a soup as well, and it came out just before the bread.  It was a goulash soup, and was basically just small chunks of beef in a paprika gravy.  It came with 2 small pieces of garlic bread.  I tasted both the bread and the soup and they were terrific.

Goulash Soup with Garlic Bread

The entrees came out before I was even done with my first roll, it was incredibly fast service.  I had ordered the Jagermeister Schnitzel that comes with mushrooms in a Jagermeister and demi-glace reduction.  Schnitzel is like the European version of tonkatsu, a thin pork cutlet breaded and fried.  It comes with spatzel (thick noodles), red cabbage, and Vienna salad (tomato slices with sweet vinegar sauce).   The portions were huge, and I ended up taking half of it home with me.  The schnitzel was great and had a delicious sauce, though it didn’t taste much like Jagermeister to me.  The spatzel were rather heavy and lacking in flavor, but complemented the schnitzel well.  Normally I like red cabbage, and I ate it a lot in Germany, but for some reason the red cabbage here was rather “heavy”, as if it were in a fatty sauce of some sort.  I’m not sure what it was, but it didn’t really taste like plain red cabbage.  I loved the Vienna salad though, the tomatoes and vinegar were terrific together.  The main dish was also topped with a slice of candied apple, which had some fantastic spices in it.

Jagermeister Schnitzel

My husband got the Blauer Engle Schnitzel, which had ham and muenster cheese on top.

He thought his was better than mine, though he didn’t eat any of his tomatoes or red cabbage.  Even he couldn’t finish it all though, the plates were just too filling.

Vienna Salad

I actually remember “Die Blaue Engle” film I wrote about as part of my German senior seminar.  I’m not sure what it had to do with this dish though, the movie featured a woman cheating on her husband, not ham and cheese.

For dessert we had the peach cheesecake strudel.  My son wanted to eat all the ice cream, so he enjoyed it pretty well.  I’m not sure what the pink sprinkles were, but the peaches were in slices just under the crust.  It was like a chunk of cheesecake with slices of peaches on top, baked up in a thin pastry.  It was good, but I think I’d like to try the black forest cake next.

Blauer Engel Schnitzel

The restaurant was pretty pricey, but comparable to Klara’s.  We spent about $70 total, plus tip.  But the atmosphere is very cool, and you can get food and drinks here you really can’t get elsewhere (though the cuisine is very similar to Klara’s in downtown Cary).   I’d like to try the wurst next time to see if it’s good, and their beer list will take a while to go through.

Peach Cheesecake Strudel

Bavarian Brathaus on Urbanspoon

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I still haven’t had an opportunity to eat at Guglhupf’s cafe so I can’t review the meals at all.  But I’ve been to the bakery many, many times.  The pastries at Guglhupf are the best in the Triangle, maybe even the best in North Carolina.  It’s quite a drive for me now from Cary, but still so worth it.

The parking lot for Guglhupf and the surrounding stores is always completely packed.  Many times you’ll need to park on the other side of the building, or even along the road or in the next lot.  Guglhupf’s bakery and cafe is on a lower level, down some stairs next to a waterfall.  The landscaping and atmosphere here is really beautiful and serene.  The outdoor seating was packed even though it was already 85 degrees out.  The bakery entrance is directly to the right as you go down the stairs.  Sometimes during an especially crowded time, the line for the bakery will be out the door.

Guglhupf has 3 bakery cases.  The first one on the left has savory pastries such as their delicious ham and cheese croissants.  I got 2 of these, as I know my husband loves them and I can’t find them anywhere else in the area.

The middle bakery case is chilled.  They have cream puffs (my son’s favorite), tarts, cheesecake, cakes, cookies, and mousse.

The bakery case on the left is sweet pastries.  On this particular day the selection included chocolate croissants, elephant ears, cherry cheese danishes, apple turnovers, bismarks, and danish curls.  I usually get some of their fruit pastries and turnovers.

In total I got 2 ham and cheese croissants, chocolate dipped elephant ear, cream puff, apple turnover, chocolate croissant, and cherry cheese danish.  Most of the items cost approximately $2, and the total for these 7 pastries was just over $16.  It’s a lot more than the dozen donuts I used to be able to get at Sweet Traditions for $7, but the quality of these pastries are superb.

The bakery area also has breads and coffees, but I’ve only tried the pastries so far.  Some day I’ll have to eat at the cafe, but I think I’ll wait until the weather is cooler so I can enjoy their outdoor seating more.

Guglhupf Pastries

Guglhupf Bakery on Urbanspoon

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I stopped by Sweet Traditions Bakery in Cary today and the store appears to be closed. The door was locked up, the interior looks stripped, and there were no signs indicating it was under construction or closed. If anyone knows if this is permanently closed please leave a comment. This was my favorite local donut shop and I’m very sad to see it go.

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We went to the Carolina Ale House in Cary by Crossroads.  It was Tax Free weekend so the place may have been abnormally busy, as I’ve never been there before I’m not sure if it’s usually that crowded.  By the time we left there were people waiting in the entry, and out the door.  Since we got there just after 5pm though we were lucky enough to get a seat without waiting.

Caesar Salad

After checking out the specials, I ordered the golden fried tilapia with coleslaw and fries for $8.99.   It also came with a Caesar salad, which was not mentioned on the menu and was not even necessary as I was to find the fish, chips and coleslaw was more than enough to eat.  It was a good salad though, my husband said it was better than Outback’s and he loves their Caesar salad.   They also had some beer specials, I got the $3 Blue Moon.  The beer was big and cheap, and tasted pretty good with the meal.  I ended up ordering another one toward the end of the meal.

Golden Tilapia with Fries and Coleslaw

The tilapia was very large, but very tasty.  It tasted really good with the lemon and tartar sauce.   The fries were also pretty good.  I didn’t like the coleslaw as much, and there wasn’t nearly enough of it.  I love coleslaw so only getting a tiny cup was unsatisfying.  But there was more than enough of the other food, so I certainly didn’t have to worry about not getting enough to eat.

My son ordered the “Bobby Burgers”, which are 2 very small, plain cheeseburgers with a side.  He got applesauce, he always eats that.  But he didn’t eat his burgers.  He tried one bite at our insistence, but claimed he didn’t like it.  I’m sure the cheeseburgers were fine, he’s just terribly picky.  They were only $3.99 anyhow, not too much of a loss.

My husband got the Cuban Panini Burger.  He was thrilled to find a Cuban sandwich in burger form.  It’s basically a burger on a kaiser roll with ham, provolone, spicy mustard and pickles on it.  The bread looked almost like Cuban bread to me, but the menu said it was a kaiser bun.  He was really impressed at how good it tasted.  His burger came with fries as well, but no salad.  That was fine, all the portions were huge anyway.  All for $7.95.

Bobby Burgers with Applesauce

The restaurant can’t help but be compared with Tyler’s.  With a large beer selection, similar menu, and similar interior, they surely must compete for the same customers.  The main difference is that Carolina Ale House has a much better food selection, and Tyler’s has a much better beer selection.  Carolina Ale House also has a more sports-bar type of atmosphere, with TVs all over the place showing different games, and more local sports-themed clippings on the wall.

Cuban Panini Burger with Fries

I think my husband’s going to have us coming here a lot in the future, because he raves about that Cuban burger.  I don’t mind, I think for pub food it was pretty good.  I just wish they had the exotic, rare beers I can find at Tyler’s.
Carolina Ale House on Urbanspoon

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I got the Friday night VIP ticket for $55 which included a beer glass, T-shirt and food ticket.  Parking was $10, but I got dropped off at the entrance.  They didn’t oversell for the event so the lines weren’t too long to get in.

When you first arrive, you’ll get your ID checked, then get your name checked against a list.  I think if you didn’t pre-order your ticket you’re going to be SOL for this event.  You get a ticket that tears off into 3 pieces, depending upon what you’ve ordered.  One piece is for your glass when you come in.  It’s like a large shot glass that holds 4 oz.  The next piece is for your T-shirt, which comes in many sizes.  It’s just a plain white T-shirt with a black phrase on the front and black logo on the back.  The last chunk of your ticket is for your food.  I recommend looking at several different BBQ booths before you choose where to eat. Some of them even offered drinks, snacks or other cool things with the meal.

I picked Big Al’s randomly, not knowing that you can only get food once for the ticket.  I thought it was unlimited food…  The dish came with BBQ pork, beans, coleslaw and 2 pieces of white bread.  I opted for no bread.  The BBQ was good but had a few gristly bits in it.  The beans went really well with the BBQ.  The coleslaw had a bit too much pepper for my taste, but I ate most of it anyway.  Afterward I browsed through some of the other food booths and saw one with sweet corn and sweet potatoes, I think that one might have been better.

There was an impressive beer selection there.  I tried to try what I could, but I don’t think it’s possible for a single human to try them all in one day.  Each booth has at least 2 different varieties of beer, and there were so many booths.  Of course they had bourbon there too, all different kinds of bourbon.  But I’m not much of a bourbon person, all I tried was one of the honey bourbons and it was a bit tough for me.  But they had a lot more too!  Sweet tea vodkas, other vodkas, boxed margaritas, rum and mixers, Jager bombs, and others I didn’t get around to.

About halfway through the evening they brought out a large pig for everyone to eat off of.  It was near the front by the live music.  It wasn’t the greatest entertainment, but people were here for the booze, not the entertainment.

There were also booths with other things like drawings, ice cream, cigars, barrel moonshine kits, clothes, jewelry, and many other non-beer related things.

I think it was a really well-organized, well-controlled event.  The lines were all really short, and I don’t think I waited in a line more than 5 people long for any beer.  I think it was a really good time and I look forward to going again next year.


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I stopped at Sushi-Thai in Raleigh with a collegue.  The place was pretty busy and we had to wait to be seated, and we were told in advance that the service was going to be slow.  Having already been to the Sushi-Thai in Cary, I wasn’t expecting them to make my custom rolls, but I figured I’d just get a few things off the menu and deal.

I ordered the Special Yellowtail Roll, some tamago and some yellowtail sushi, with a miso soup.  My colleague ordered some rolls and some sushi, I didn’t catch what but I think 2 pieces were whitefish, and a salad.  The sushi came out served on one big platter, and we were each given a tiny round plate and small soy sauce dish.

The sushi wasn’t the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  The tempura covered rolls looked especially odd.  My yellowtail rolls had cucumber, salmon, and eel inside, with yellowtail on the top covered in kimchee sauce.  The kimchee sauce wasn’t too spicy, and gave it a pretty distinct flavor.  I liked the yellowtail and tamago sushi as well, they were pretty good.

The guy I was with liked his rolls ok, but he didn’t eat the rice under most of his sushi.  He said he didn’t like the rice, and probably should have ordered sashimi instead.  I didn’t think the sushi rice was too bad, but it did seem a bit undercooked and plain (not vinegarred).

Overall it wasn’t a bad meal, I liked my food well enough.  But I really like being able to order custom rolls, and I don’t like having to wait for a seat at lunch time.  I guess it’s a pretty popular place.

Sushi-Thai on Urbanspoon

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2009 Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay

I purchased this Layer Cake Virgin Chardonnay at my local Kroger the other day.  It was decently priced, and since I had just gotten done making a chocolate cake, the label grabbed my attention.  I read the back and found that they use no oak.  I don’t know why making wine in oak barrels is still so popular.  I don’t think it adds anything positive to the flavor of the wine to store it in wood.  Other than the Turner & Cole Lot 3 Chardonnay it’s been really hard to find others like this.

I went to uncork it and it was a screw-off cap!  No cork!   That’s usually not a good sign, but since I paid a reasonable price for it, it shouldn’t be too bad.

This wine is actually really, really good!  Because it has no oak, it’s even more delicious with other foods like my cheesecake, cranberries, or plain ol’ Fromager d’Affinois.  Honestly I think it would go well with just about anything.  This is a fantastic wine for hot weather, all clean and fresh and crisp like a lemonade on a hot summer’s day.

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Piel de Sapo Melon

The latest melon I’ve tried is called a Piel de Sapo.  It looks kind of like an egg-shaped watermelon, but it’s smaller than a watermelon and closer to a honeydew in size.  I had no idea if it was ripe, so I just trusted the store to put out ripe ones ready to eat.

I sliced it open and the color was white with a bit of greenish tinge near the rind.  From the looks of the seed area it looked to be a bit overripe.  The taste was fine though, it was perfectly ripe for eating.  Because it was so fleshy I could use the larger sized melon baller and the job went by quickly.  The melon balls came out smooth and round.  It’s similar in color and texture to a lot of the other new melons I’ve been trying, but the taste of this one was really good, almost as good as the Galia melon.

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