Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2010

I finally got a chance to try out The Pig.  Lucky for me, I got to avoid the downtown madness and head north of town, in an area I don’t visit much.  There’s a wonderful park up there, Cedar Falls, right across the street, but other than a couple other shops it’s mostly residential around there.  At least it’s somewhat easy to spot, if you look up the hill a bit.

The exterior looked nice, new, and big.  So I was surprised when we went inside and it looked like a 20-year-old diner with crappy little tables and chairs, a solid wood bench for seating and ugly bathrooms.  I was so confused, how could such a newish looking building have such an unkempt interior?  But I guess BBQ restaurants aren’t known for being fancy, so I wasn’t exactly expecting white tablecloths either.

I was a bit confused at first about whether we were supposed to sit, wait for a hostess, or order first.  Apparently you’re supposed to order and pay first, then chose a table, and they bring the food out to you once it’s done.  I guess the good thing is you don’t have to tip, because there’s no real table service.

After surveying the options, we asked what the difference was between the BBQ trays and the BBQ plates, besides that the plates were $3 more expensive each.  The guy explained that they originally just offered the trays, but so many people wanted to exchange the sides that they offered the plates to be able to accommodate that.  I figured that the slaw, pickles and hush puppies sounded like perfectly good sides so I just ordered the small tray.  My husband got the large BBQ tray.  The difference between the two was the weight of the meat, one is 1/3 lb. of BBQ, and the other is 1/2 lb. of BBQ.  When they came out I couldn’t really tell the difference though.  Eh, for only a dollar more, I suppose the difference might not be too obvious.  I also ordered the chess pie for dessert.

Small Tray

At first I couldn’t find out what all the orange stuff was on the slaw.  After tasting it I realized it was carrots.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such a carroty coleslaw.  It wasn’t really to my liking, it wasn’t as vinegary as I would have liked.

The hushpuppies were fantastic.  They were really fluffy, like little cornbready donuts.  I’m not sure if that’s what hushpuppies were supposed to taste like, but they were still very good.

Large Tray

The pickles were fresh pickles, not like the ones that have been sitting in a jar or can for 6 months.  They tasted like the ones I make, and I imagine they were probably made about the same way: sliced, then put in a bowl with vinegar, sugar, salt and spices for just a day or less before being served.

The BBQ was really amazing.  I think it was the best pig I’ve eaten since moving to North Carolina.  There’s 3 sauces you can use with it, ketchup, vinegar sauce and hot sauce.  I found the vinegar sauce to be the best, and I used plenty of that, and just a dash of the hot sauce.

Side By Side Comparision

The chess pie tasted more like a brownie than anything else.  Near the outside it was a bit dry, but towards the middle it was very rich and moist.  It wasn’t really what I was expecting, but it was good all the same.

Chocolate Chess Pie

I think next time I’ll probably avoid the slaw, and try one of the other sides like the fried green tomatoes.  The prices are pretty decent here, as a lot of the entrees with sides are $10 or less.  Chapel Hill is a little far for me to bring home take out, but certainly if I lived closer, I would rather eat in the comfort of my own home than in this restaurant.  But man, I’ll keep dreaming about that BBQ for weeks.

The Pig on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

We stopped by Benetis on Sunday for lunch.  It’s in Greenwood Commons on Hwy. 55 near a bunch of other restaurants, so if you show up and decide not to eat there, there’s plenty of other places to go.  I’m always on the lookout for a good breakfast-serving restaurant, because that means my son will actually order and eat something off the menu.  Despite the big sign outside that said “LUNCH BUFFET”, there was no buffet on Sunday.  That’s fine though, I generally don’t like to get buffets.  What made me really hesitant was the menu posted next to the door that didn’t show any breakfast items.  But when I asked the hostess if they had pancakes, she said yes.  The menu we received at the table was very different than the one next to the door.

Kid's Pancakes

The menu featured typical breakfast diner food, with pancakes, waffles, french toast, eggs Benedict, sandwiches, salads and other American entrees.  I didn’t see anything on the menu that would suggest it was Greek.  Maybe they serve a completely different menu for dinner.

I got the waffle with spiced apple topping, my son got the kid’s pancakes that comes with 2 strips of bacon and scrambled eggs, and my husband got the Broadway skillet which was potatoes, eggs, bacon, ham and miscellaneous other foods cooked up in a skillet, and an English muffin.

My son got a huge gob of butter on his pancakes, which is great because he loves butter.  He didn’t like the eggs and bacon touching his pancakes though, so we quickly removed them.  He at nearly both pancakes, and I tried some of the leftovers and they were pretty good.

Waffle with Spiced Apples

My waffle was as good as waffles get, and the spiced apple topping went perfectly with it.  I was a bit disappointed though, I didn’t get a big gob of melty butter on my waffle.  I guess next time that’s going to be something I have to ask for.  I thought the Broadway skillet looked pretty gross, but my husband thought it tasted great.

For 3 entrees and 3 drinks it was about $25, which is pretty decently priced.  I had no complaints with the service until we were done eating, and then our waitress was no where to be found.  I waited 20 minutes for the bill before going up to the cashier and asking for it.  I know, it’s a petty complaint, but if you’re going to make people wait for their bill that long at least refill drinks our drinks or something.

Broadway Skillet

I really can’t judge the rest of the food they might serve here at other times.  Maybe the buffet and Greek food are super awesome too.  All I know is, the breakfast foods were great and I’d definitely take this place over IHOP.
Benetis Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

I’ve been to Outbacks in Wisconsin, Illinois, California, and most recently to this one in Cary and the one in Durham, and they’ve all had very consistently good service and food.  Even though the restaurant doesn’t have the best food, it’s one of those chains that I can reliably count on to get a decent meal.

Free Bread!

This location is a bit hard to spot from Kildaire Farm Rd.  It’s behind a McDonald’s and not really visible from the street, but if you go down High Meadow Drive you’ll see it on the left.  The parking lot usually fills up fast so you’ll probably have to park in one of the less crowded areas of the strip mall.

Many Outbacks aren’t open for lunch.  The location in Cary does have lunch on Sundays, but I would advise checking Outback’s website for a particular location when in doubt.  Dinner time can often be extremely crowded, with waits of 45 minutes or more.

Caesar Salad

Outback doesn’t take reservations, but you can call ahead to get your name on a list.  We often get to Outback before 5pm just to avoid the waits.  We got there at about 5:15pm on Saturday and didn’t have to wait, but by the time we left there was about 25 people gathered along the outside of the building waiting for a table.

We didn’t order an appetizer on this visit, but if we do, we usually get the Alice Springs Chicken Quesadilla.  They’re really good, so good that I make them at home quite a bit.  They’re too filling for an appetizer though, I think it could easily be someone’s entire meal.  Outback also brings out small loaves of dark colored bread that is always soft, warm and sweet.  If you get take-out make sure to ask for a loaf or two with your meal.  I’ve gotten the Bloomin’ Onion before but it’s way too much for just 2 people, and I’ve found their Aussie Fries to be disgustingly gluttonous, again too big for 2 people.

Alice Springs Chicken

For the entrees, I got the 8 oz. prime rib (medium rare) with fries and a Caesar salad, and my husband got the Alice Springs Chicken with fries.  He’s pretty predicable and gets that every time, and it’s always been good.  I like the prime rib well enough, but I think they serve it at too cool of a temperature.  If they heat the plate, and serve the steak at at least 130 degrees, and the au jus at about 150 degrees, I think the meal would turn out a lot better.  It just gets cold before you’re halfway done eating…  I’ve also gotten the Teriyaki Marinated Sirloin in the past, which is pretty good.  Their non-steak options like the ribs or lamb never seem to be as good.

Prime Rib

Outback used to have a French Onion Soup as one of their side options, but they removed it from their menu about a year back.  I think that’s one of the reason’s we don’t stop by Outback much anymore, I think that French Onion Soup was my favorite part.

My son, picky eater as he is, won’t eat any of the food here besides bread, so usually we feed him a meal before arriving.  He was willing to try the Spotted Dog Sundae, which was nicely priced at only $1.95 for a big mound of vanilla ice cream with hot fudge and Oreo bits.  He ate nearly the whole thing.

Spotted Dog Sundae

The nice thing about this Cary location is if you’ve gotten there late and have a long wait for your table, there’s an awesome science store and a specialty wine store in the same strip mall.  It makes it a lot easier to pass the time, and sometimes we come to this location specifically because we do intend to go shopping before or after.
Outback Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Yeah, I used a box cupcake mix and premade frosting again.  It’s been another busy week and I just wanted something good for Halloween.  I’ve been addicted to those dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s and just wanted to incorporate them into some other kind of dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of dark chocolate fudge cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 bin dark chocolate peanut butter cups from Trader Joe’s

I mix the eggs, butter and peanut butter together first.  Then I add the milk and mix according to the directions on the package.  The cake batter can be spread out to approximately 36 or more cupcakes, because the peanut butter cup in the middle will take up some space.  Only fill the tin about 1/2 full.  Then unwrap the peanut butter cup and place it in the center, pushing down only enough so that it sticks in the middle.  If you push the peanut butter cup down too far into the batter it will end up just making a mess at the bottom of the cupcake.

Bake approximately 21-22 minutes at 350 degrees.  The peanut butter cup will sink while baking.  By the time it’s done baking, the peanut butter cup should be completely hidden inside the cupcake.

After the cupcakes are cool, frost with a rich, dark chocolate or fudge frosting.  Then enjoy!

 

Read Full Post »

I went to Bella Monica today for lunch.  Though there’s a large parking lot, it seems to be full of people who don’t know how to park.  So many spots get wasted by people parking over lines.  Something about this mall area, I don’t know.  Bella Monica doesn’t have a sign above it, but there is a small sign that says “Pizza” and you’ll see a lot of people sitting outside on the sidewalk eating.

Half-eaten bread (we were hungry)

 

I only get an hour break for lunch, so I usually try to pick something close by with fast service.  From other reviews I read I got the impression that the place was busy, but I didn’t think I would have to wait for a table at lunch time.  I was wrong.  There were just 2 bar seats left, and I was told I might have to wait as long as 30 minutes for a table to open up, and even that would have probably been outside on the tiny sidewalk with cars passing a few feet away.  I ended up just taking the seats at the bar.

Caesar Salad

I wanted to get out in a reasonable amount of time, so I ordered my entree pretty quickly.  I got the Veal Bolognese and my husband ordered the Stromboli with mushrooms, pepperoni and sausage.  At $17.99 for my dish and $10.99 for his, it was a bit more than I usually spend for lunch, but I had heard that the quality was good and the portion size would be huge.

For a free appetizer they bring out 2 slices of focaccia bread in olive oil.  One of the slices was more burnty than the other, and I’m not sure if they did that on purpose or not.  It seemed from seeing others brought out that they all looked like that.  I preferred the less burnt one.

Veal Bolognese

My entree came with a salad, either garden or Caesar.  When it first came out I noticed an overwhelming fishy smell like someone used way too many anchovies, but oddly that went away when I started eating it.  I was surprised to see bell peppers on the salad, I love bell peppers.  The croutons were made there, you could tell, because they still had a crispy outside and a tender inside.  There just weren’t nearly enough croutons.

The wait for the rest of the food was pretty long.  I think it was 30 minutes or more from when we ordered until we got our entrees, and that’s pretty long when you only have an hour for lunch.  My veal bolognese was really good, but $18 good?  I’m not sure.  I tried some of my husband’s stromboli and it was so much better than my dish!  I was jealous.  It was like fatty, decadent heaven wrapped in a flaky pastry crust.  Next time I might get the stromboli too.

Stromboli

I had intended on ordering a creme brulee, but unfortunately my time had run out.  I got the rest of our food boxed for tonight’s dinner, and paid the bill.  The service was very friendly so I tipped well, though I was disappointed that I had so little time to enjoy my food.

For next time I think I’ll skip the lunch crowd, since I’d just end up late or too rushed, and try for dinner.  We usually eat dinner early anyway, and I think with more time I’ll have a better experience.   It seemed like there were a lot of other tasty things yet to try, especially for desserts.

Bella Monica on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

I had heard that 35 was an authentic Chinese restaurant that wasn’t “fusion”, buffet or Americanized.  I do like places like PF Chang’s and Lantern, but I think sometimes it’s important to get the authentic experience.  Honestly I don’t think I had ever really had “real” Chinese food, just the typical orange chicken, General Tso’s, beef n’ broccoli, ect.  So in the spirit of adventure, we decided to try out 35.

35 was almost as difficult to find as Udupi.  There’s no signs for it on the street, but the building is on the east side of Kildaire Farm Rd, between Executive Dr. and the CVS Pharmacy.  My best advice is as you’re driving north on Kildaire Farm Rd, turn right one driveway past Executive Dr.  It’s unmarked but you’ll see a parking garage back there, just park and get out.  You’ll find a little hollow with a sign that says “Restaurant”, and that’s 35.

The decor is pleasant, with 2 fish-filled aquariums and a waterfall with rocks and turtles.  If you have small children along they’re sure to be amused by the turtles.  There are mirror-lined walls, bright, cheerful lighting, red lanterns hanging from the ceiling and Chinese art on the walls.  The tables and booths are a bit out of date with some cracking in the vinyl seats, and there are paper tablecloths on the tables, so it doesn’t really have a high-class appeal.

We were offered two sets of menus, one Americanized one, and the other was authentic Chinese.  We both ordered off the Chinese one; I got the Crispy Duck with special garlic sauce and my husband got the Fried Shredded Lamb.  Both dishes were just 1 pepper out of 3.  I wanted to be adventurous but I haven’t yet gotten to the point where I’ll eat things like organs and tendons… Maybe some other day.  My husband also ordered the Hot and Sour Soup off the Americanized menu.

Fried Shredded Lamb

The soup came out pretty quickly.  My husband said it was the best Hot and Sour Soup he’s ever had, and he’s had a lot of Hot and Sour soups.  I tried a bit, and it was quite good.  Really spicy with almost an orange flavor to it.

My husband’s fried shredded lamb came out next.  I know some people don’t like it if the entrees don’t all come out together, but we were going to share anyway.  The lamb meat was very tender and moist, and had some lovely spices that I can’t identify.  It was just spicy enough to be considered spicy, but not spicy enough to hurt.  The lamb meat was served with an awful lot of cilantro stems.  I didn’t even know people used the stems in cooking, I had always discarded them when using cilantro.  I think all the stems were a bit much.  My husband ended up throwing most of the stems away when he ate leftovers the next day.

Crispy Duck

My crispy duck came out a few minutes later.  When I went to spoon a few pieces onto my plate, I found a huge black hair in the dish.  I understand sometimes this happens even at the best restaurants, and I don’t really freak out at hairs.  I do, however, care how the staff reacts.  The waiter was very apologetic and got the manager.  The manager apologized as well and took 10% off the bill.  I think the staff dealt with the situation very well and I don’t fault them at all for it.  It happens.

As for the food itself, it was very good.  The duck had a spicy, strong garlic sauce that was rich and delicious.  It was served with some spinach underneath it, and I’m not a huge spinach fan, but the sauce made the spinach edible.  The duck meat was as soft and silky as duck meat can be, and the skin was crispy as promised.

The prices were about average for a Chinese restaurant.  The soup was a very inexpensive $1.95 and the entrees were both $14.95 each.  There are a lot of new dishes yet to try here and the Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables sounded like something I’ll probably be trying next time.  The sweet and sour jellyfish and fried intestines will probably be a few years off for me, but I’ll make it there eventually.
35 on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

I went to Buffalo Wings and Rings yesterday evening to meet up with some colleagues.  I ordered a chicken tenders dinner basket, which came with 3 chicken strips and 2 sides.  I chose the fries and cole slaw.  I thought the chicken tenders were very good with the honey mustard sauce, the fries were decent, and the coleslaw wasn’t my favorite but certainly edible.  The price was $8.99 in the menu but I was charged $9.49 on the check.  I didn’t want to argue it since I was in a group, but I think they charged me the 50 cents just for the honey mustard sauce.  It wasn’t itemized on the bill.  Probably something to look out for in the future.  The food was more than enough for one person though, so the portion sizes are great for sharing.

The prices on the rest of the food seemed decent enough.  But I did notice another charge of $1.00 on the bill for bleu cheese dip that someone got with their poppers.  Do they not include any sauces with their food?  Who wants to eat chicken strips and poppers dry?  Seems they like to nickel and dime over every little thing.

They sell beer by the “tube” here instead of by the pitcher, which was decently priced at $19 a tube for Hoppyum IPA.  The beer selection they had their was very limited, with mostly the typical Bud/Miller/Coors, but I think we lucked out with a decent beer on tap.  If you’re looking for a good place to get beer, I think I would choose Tyler’s or Carolina Ale House over Buffalo Wings and Rings.

The single serving drinks were a lot more expensive than the tube.  They charged $3 each for bottles of Bud and Miller, and $5.50 each for shots of Cuervo.

I thought the atmosphere was a little cramped.  It’s like they wanted a Sports-bar type atmosphere but no standing room, and the tables were very tiny.  We had arranged for the “yellow room” for our group, but while we were waiting for others to arrive they had filled the room with others so that we lost our space.

I liked my food, it was good for pub food.  The beer was great too, but I think that was luck, there are no good beers on the menu.   The prices for single drinks were steep and I don’t like the idea of having to pay for the sauce to dip your food in.  I don’t think I’d come back again for lunch or dinner or anything, but it would be a good place for groups if they’d actually save the room they were supposed to instead of filling it up before everyone arrives.

Buffalo Wings & Rings on Urbanspoon

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »