(Chains are included under the area where I visited them.)
(The links here take you to the restaurants web site, if there is one; the links below the restaurant take you to my review.)
(I have included the day of the week, date, and meal because our family has found that restaurants have better food on certain nights [Thursday-Sunday], and if I gave a restaurant a bad taste review for a Tuesday night experience, that is not to say that their might not be better on Friday.)
(For restaurants that we frequent, I have included Overall reviews, and also reviews from specific dates that were out of the ordinary.)
Blacksburg, Virginia Area
Blacksburg Country Club Grille
Wednesday, August 25, 2004 (Dinner)
Friday, September 24, 2004 (Dinner)
Cinco de Mayo
Sunday, July 31, 2004 (Dinner)
Thursday, August 19, 2004 (Dinner)
Thursday, September 2, 2004 (Dinner)
Christiansburg, Virginia Area
Tuesday, June 16, 2004 (Dinner)
Monday, August 30, 2004 (Dinner)
Roanoke, Virginia Area
Friday, August 20, 2004 (Lunch)
Williamsburg, Virginia Area
Pauls Deli Restaurant
Saturday, October 2, 2004 (Lunch)
Nashua, New Hamshire Area
Saturday, July 17, 2004 (Dinner)
Sunday, July 18, 2004 (Lunch)
Monday, July 19, 2004 (Dinner)
Wednesday, July 21, 2004 (Dinner)
Providence, Rhode Island Area
Meeting Street Café
Friday, July 16, 2004 (Dinner)
Northern Massachusetts Area
Tuesday, July 20, 2004 (Dinner)
Angkor Kingdom Restaurant
Thursday, July 22, 2004 (Dinner)
Washington, D.C. Area
Wednesday, June 9, 2004 (Dinner)
Thursday, June 10, 2004 (Dinner)
Potbelly Sandwich Works
Friday, June 11, 2004 (Lunch)
bds Mongolian Barbecue
Saturday, June 12, 2004 (Dinner)
Chicken Out Rotisserie
Sunday, June 13, 2004 (Lunch)
Friday, June 11, 2004 (Dinner)
Saturday, July 24, 2004 (Dinner)
Sunday, July 25, 2004 (Lunch)
Mr. Js Bagels & Deli
Saturday, July 10, 2004 (Lunch)
Sunday, July 10, 2004 (Dinner)
Saturday, July 24, 2004 (Lunch)
QUEST FOR THE PERFECT SMOOTHIE
Etrusco Trattoria - 1606 20th St. NW, Washington, DC
This unassuming Italian restaurant is located near Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. We arrived a little before 6 for dinner, having seen it on a list of nearby restaurants from the Fairmont Hotel. Only one other party was in the dining area, and a few were at the small, dim bar. The ambiance was very nice, with mute lights on the walls, and either a small lamp or beautiful flowers on the table. There is a wide variety of pastas and meat dishes available. I ordered the Penne allArrabiata. Dad ordered a pasta with a mozzarella and tomato sauce and a side campo salad, and Mom ordered the Pork Chop. The bread came eventually, though not as soon as one may have hoped. And either way, it was not warm, and very crusty, with little substance in the middle. If you like that kind of bread, then this is for you, but I prefer soft, doughy bread. Dad received his salad soon after, which was as the description has said, field greens with a lemon and olive oil dressing. Weeds for $6.95, seems a little steep to me, but he seemed to enjoy it. Our dinners took a while to come, but once they did, it has been worth the wait. All of the dishes were piping hot. Mine was deliciously spicy. Moms pork chop was done to perfection and was deliciously tender. The portions also seemed to be reasonable, neither to small nor too large (though the pork chop was a little large, but the bone was in, so it was hard to judge size). Our entrees ranged from $15.95 to $19.95. The price for the amount of food seemed a little steep, but it was well worth the walk, wait and price.
Chevys - 3052 Gatehouse Plaza, Falls Church, Virginia
We went to a Chevys outside of Washington D.C. We just happened to wander across it, and everyone thought it sounded good. If you want small servings and traditional Tex-Mex, dont come here. Your meal begins with an abnormal salsa: theres not a speck of red in it. I loved it; it reminded me of a chutney that we would get at an indian restaurant. The salsa was somewhat spicy, and the chips were light and crisp. Because we said we had never been to a Chevys before, they sat us next to the tortilla maker. It was running through most of the meal, and though it didnt appear to work very well, it was fun to watch. I got the Chevys burrito with chicken, which came with a side order of black beans, rice, pico de gallo, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, and a sweet corn tomalito. I asked for the sour cream and guacamole on the side, and no cheese on top of my burrito. I didnt receive any sour cream or guacamole (which was fine with me, I dont like them that much anyway) and no cheese on or in my burrito (which was also fine with me, though was not what I had ordered). The plates were huge, and the portions just as generous, even without the guacamole and sour cream. The rice was not what I was used to getting at other Mexican restaurants: something with a red tint. Again, not red, but it was okay, though not my favorite. I really liked the black beans; as the menu promised, I could taste the nuances of bacon. The pico de gallo was spicy, just the way it should be, though I would have hoped for more onions and less tomatoes. The burrito sauce was good (I love red sauces), the chicken inside was spicy, and the refried beans also in it added necessary moisture without any cheese. It was a huge burrito, though, and I did not finish it, but certainly not because it was not good. My favorite part of the meal was the sweet corn tomalito. Its a little yellow ball, which I can best describe as a sweet, wet cornbread with corn kernels. It was delicious, and I ate it as my dessert. My dad ordered a two item combination with refried beans, and ate everything, but only labels it as okay (He prefers our local Mexican restaurant in Blacksburg, Virginia, Cinco de Mayo). My mother ordered a taco salad, which was huge, and she barely made a dent in it. She liked it, but said she preferred Don Pablos more for a similar cuisine. It was an overall good experience, though, and good quality for the cost of the dishes, most priced from $9 to $15.
Potbelly Sandwich Works - 726 7th Street, N.W., Washington, DC
It was raining, and I was hungry. We found ourselves on the outer edges of Chinatown, and we just started to wander. We quickly came across a Legal Seafood and a Ruby Tuesday, but I passed up these familiars to try something new for lunch. Potbelly is a sandwich shop much like a Quiznos, when the sandwiches are heated on a conveyer. The line was long, but it seemed to be moving quickly, so we took our place at the end. Our order was shouted to the sandwich maker over the heads of the people in front of us, which seemed rather strange. I ordered a turkey sandwich on wheat, with no cheese. It seemed simple enough to me. When I got the the other side of the heater, when a person puts toppings of the sandwich, mine was nowhere to be found. So they wrote down the order on a paper bag, including my toppings, and told us to go pay, it would be up shortly. My mothers sandwich was also missing, though my did made it through quickly with his ordered sandwich in-hand. No one else seemed to be having the same trouble as my mother and me. My mothers sandwich came up next, though it was on the wrong bread. My sandwich was apparently impossible to make. A woman had to come ask her for a second time what I had ordered. It took over five minutes to get my sandwich. I am assuming that did not happen often, because the woman offered us something to makeup for our wait, so I took a strawberry yogurt smoothie. My sandwich was great, once it had finally come. The smoothie way thick and delicious, though a little more yogurty that I tend to prefer. I nice touch was a little flower butter cookie placed over the straw, which really added something to the whole experience. Though I would probably pick a Quiznos next time, this was a fun, economical (The sandwiches were only $4), though comparatively timely, experiment.
bds Mongolian Barbecue - 7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland
I stumbled across this while looking on the internet for places to eat near Washington. Once I had read the description, a create-your-own-stir-fry, it occurred to me I had been to a place this like before: Fire and Ice in Boston. At the time, I hated it, but that was because I was 10 and only ate chicken fingers and spaghetti from the kids menu. Nothing like that can be found here. I spent the entire trip looking forward to our dining experience at bds. It was easy to find in pretty downtown Bethesda. We went in, and the first thing you are confronted with is the noise. This place is clamorous and rowdy. There is a gong that is periodically rung, to top it all off. We started out meal at the soup and salad bar; it was okay, but nothing spectacular. The amazing part was creating your own stir-fry. They had a separate stir-fry bar, with everything you could imagine. You take a bowl and begin your journey down the bar. Most people start with pasta, either spaghetti or corkscrew. Then theres the meat, which can be skipped if youre vegetarian (theres tofu further down). They have chicken, different types of beef, shrimp, salmon, scallops, even calimari. Then you load the bowl with vegetables and other additions: peppers, corn, broccoli, pineapple, bean sprouts, pea pods, onion; just add whatever your heart desires, it will all taste good in the end. Then comes the hard part: choosing the sauce and spices. They have some pre-made sauces and some recipes for flavors such as asian, mongolian, fajitas, barbecue, italian, and cajun. They tell you how much to add of what oil, sauce, and spice. Once you have topped your bowl, you head to the cooking area, which is a giant U-shapped bar, with a massive flat stove in the middle. There is where the wait can get a little long, especially if there is a long line waiting. Your bowl of food is poured on a straight line onto the round cooker. Men (and I suppose women could, too, though I saw none) move around the stove with giant sticks, continually mixing your serving to keep it cooking but not burning. Its hard to explain, so I guess youll have to try it. Once it is one, it is scooped onto a plate, and you are sent back to your table, where you find tortillas and rice. I tried a mongolian-flavored stir-fry. It was delicious. I had put a lot in my bowl, so one trip was enough for me, but I wished I had done a smaller serving so I could have gone back a second time to try another flavor. I liked my moms combination (she chose not to use a recipe, though it was part-Asian). I didnt like my dads barbecue (meaning it was only good, not as awesome as mine), but his fajita-flavored one really tasted like fajitas, even with the addition of teriyaki sauce. This was an incredible experience, and I would love to go back, but alas, there are only 23 in the country, not one remotely near me. Oh well. If you get the chance, this is a must!
Chicken Out Rotisserie - 1202 West Broad Street, Falls Church, Virginia
I love Boston Market. There arent any where I live, though. So when I go anywhere, I always plan a Boston Market stop. But in the Washington D.C. area, I found something that sounded even better: Chicken Out Rotisserie. I had surveyed the menu online ahead of time, and decided it sounded delicious. The atmosphere when we entered the restaurant was unexpected: It was fast food with flair. The tables were a shiny wood, the chairs were iron, cushioned and comfortable. We ordered our food (which was presented in a display case), paid, and took a seat at a table. Our food was brought to us just a minute later, complete with real silverware. I ordered the quarter chicken, stuffing, and mashed sweet potatoes. The chicken was good, but not the best I had ever had. The sides were the lucious part. The stuffing was warm and moist, topped with just the right amount of gravy. The mashed sweet potatoes, while stringy, had the perfect flavoring and consistency. My mom got the cranberry sauce, of which I partook of to moisten the not-quite-moist-enough chicken. Their sandwiches also came with an orzo salad, which was also very good. Though Boston Market chicken is better, the sides, with their variety, take the cake. Speaking of cake, while we were there, a 6-layer chocolate cake was being sliced. I cannot imagine how good it looked. The very nice server tried to convince us to buy a piece, but we pertinaciously said no. But by the end of the meal, I had given in. I was too full from the sapid meal, so we brought it home. Though it melted some on the five hour ride home, when we had it for dinner, it was still moist, delectable, and wonderful. The perfect end to a great vacation.
Bertuccis - 1218-1220 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Dupont Circle, Washington, DC
My feet were cold, my socks soaked, my arm drenched, and I needed some good food. My family and I walked 6 blocks through the pouring rain in Washington, D.C. to get to this restaurant. I used to go to a Bertuccis in Nashua, New Hampshire, and didnt have the fondest memories of it. But that was because I was 10 and only ate chicken fingers or spaghetti from the kids menu. Now at 16, I was willing to try many more kinds of foods. To my dismay, there were only two things that looked interesting or appealing: the pomodoro pasta, and the pork chops. The chicken didnt even sound appetizing. I didnt feel like working around the born in a chop, so I stuck with the pomodoro. My parents ordered their usual from long ago: Chicken and Tortellini. The bread came out quickly and was delicious and doughy, just the right amount of a fine, thin crust. It was served with a flavored olive oil, which I thought was great. I ordered the minestrone soup to go with my meal, to warm up my freezing feet. The soup was warm, but not the best minestrone I have ever had. Actually, I have had three, and this ranks third; Progresso Soup and Olive Garden Minestrone both exceed the Bertucci Minestrone. It was not a simple broth, which I tend to not like. There was also cheese in it, which seemed about the consistency of Kraft Parmesan Cheese (little granules). This was rather unappealing. The pasta came, and it was good and warm, and of course, there was too much of it. It was good enough, though, that I took it home. Both my parents liked their dish, though my dad didnt like the way the chicken was prepared, which was different than he remembered it. He didnt eat the chicken. To see my dad leave food on his plate was a shock. To sum up, I looked longingly at the Fuddruckers through Bertuccis window for the entire meal, and even after I was done.
**UPDATE: As I said, I took the remainder of my pasta home. It was delicious (cold; I love cold food)
Shakers - 1 East Main Street, Christiansburg, Virginia
Shakers is a local chain in western Virginia. We first ate there when they opened their third restaurant in Christiansburg, Virginia. The outside is a little ugly, with strange copper awnings, placed at different heights around the exterior. The inside is beautiful, though. The ceilings are high, and the tables are amazing, polished butcher blocks. The booths are oversized and very comfortable. The only problem we tend to encounter inside is with smoke; the bar is in the middle of the restaurant, with nothing separating it from the nonsmoking section. We always ask to be seated on the very outer edge, and usually have minimal problems there. The menu has a large selection of appetizers, dinner salads, chicken dinners, steak dinner, sandwiches and burgers, even fish and ribs. Our meal starts with with a warm loaf of bread, very much like that of the bread at Outback Steakhouse. I find it very good, but the server shoves the knife into the end of the loaf, compressing much of the precious bread inside the soft crust. I typically get either the Oriental Chicken Stir-fry or the Polynesian Chicken. The chicken is usually fairly low quality, but the dishes have so much flavor and other accompaniments that it doesnt matter that much. My dad almost always orders the Taco Salad. The shell is very greasy, but it is still good, and the salad inside is delicious. My mom switches between the Southern Fried Salad and Oriental Chicken Salad. She likes them well enough, but Shakers is not one of her first choices for a meal in the Christiansburg area. My father and I both enjoy Shakers, though.
Shakers - 1 East Main Street, Christiansburg, Virginia
The day was hot and humid, so we wanted out of our house. We decided a pleasantly air conditioned restaurant would be the perfect place for dinner. Instead, we ended up at freezing Shakers. It was just too cold. This experience was a little abnormal for Shakers: the food was not up to snuff. The bread, oddly enough, was better than normal. Usually, when cutting into it, it would be squished, no matter how skilled the cutter. But the bread was denser this time, and it was very good. I ordered the Polynesian Chicken with a sides of a baked potato and tavern rice. The chicken was of poorer quality than normal. The tavern rice seemed both burned and uncooked at the same time, and I deemed it inedible (I rarely leave food uneaten). My mom also felt her chicken was sub-average in quality. The crispy chow mien noodles atop her salad were anything but; I enjoyed playing with them, as they bent like Wiki Sticks. My baked potato was cooked to perfection, though, better than any restaurant baked potato I can remember. My dads taco salad was fine, and amazing detail in appearance was paid to my moms salad, with dressing drizzled in a star burst shape around the edge of the plate, decorated with sesame seeds (My mother had asked for extra sesame seeds). I rarely find that much attention paid to detail at chain restaurants. Though only a few things were wrong, having anything at all wrong at Shakers is strange. It might be a while before I return to Shakers, though.
Olive Garden - 1925 Valley View Boulevard N.W., Roanoke, Virginia
Olive Garden has excellent food for a chain restaurant. I often would pick Olive Garden over some of the local Italian restaurant, due to better selection and better food. The wait at the Roanoke location can often be long, even at 4:30 on a Saturday, but with the mall within walking distance, the wait is fast-passing and worthwhile. Both the tables and booths are comfortable. You are soon met by your waiter, who quickly takes your drink order. The menu has an excellent selection of chicken, meat, seafood, and pasta dishes. Even if they dont have quite what you want, the chef is happy to make a change just for you. Once you order, bread is brought to the table, along with either a communal table salad or soup. The bread is a plain, white breadstick with delicious flavoring on top. I like both the salad (watch out for the hot peppers) and the Minestrone Soup. I usually get the Chicken Giardino for dinner, which has a delicious sauce and lots of veggies. Unlike other restaurants, I find that Olive Garden consistently has high-quality and well-cooked chicken. My water glass is always kept full and the meal is very rarely disappointing. The only set back is that I have not found a dessert that I like at Olive Garden. Most restaurants have something chocolate-y on which I can indulge, but I like neither the Chocolate Lasagna nor the Black Tie Moose Cake. My parents have much different opinion, though. I love Olive Garden, and will continue to dine there.
- Chicken Giardino - The sauce is delicious and creamy, but not too heavy. There are a lot of veggies, and they are usually good quality. The chicken is always very good, and it is piping hot, so have no worry of cold food.
- Chicken Alfredo - I prefer my mothers alfredo sauce, but if I had to have another kind, this would be it. It is very heavy, but very good. A suggestion: add steamed broccoli to it. They charge more, but it is worth it.
- Minestrone Soup - Very good, lots of veggies and beans and noodles, and the broth isnt to salty.
Texas Roadhouse - 100 Bradley Drive N.W., Christiansburg, Virginia
I dont like steakhouses very much. I prefer to eat steak at home, where the portion sizes are more modest and the meat is of a better quality. So I look for something else on the menu, such as chicken, but usually, steakhouses are lacking in chicken dish selection and quality, or anything vegetarian. Let me explain why I like Texas Roadhouse so much. When you come in to the rowdy, raucous restaurant, with real country music blaring from the speakers, you are brought to either an oversized booth with uncomfortable backs, or a table with uncomfortable seats and backs. Your meal starts immediately with blisteringly hot, sweet bread and a bucket full of peanuts. There is another bucket in which to put the peanut shells, but if you look closely at the floor, youll notice they all end up there anyway, so dont worry too much about being neat. The glasses are huge, filled with ice-cold drinks. Why I like Texas Roadhouse so much is because of their Veg Plate menu offering. Its a meal of four of their delicious sides, which includes potatoes prepared numerous ways, beans, vegetables, starches, and salads. I always start with a house salad, which has more topping than average salads. Texas Roadhouse is always a family favorite where everyone can find something to enjoy.
- BBQ Chicken - The chicken isnt any good, and the barbecue sauce iss some of the worst I have ever had.
- Grilled Pork Chop - With one chop, this is the perfect amount of meat. It is juicy and tender, though the sauce is a little strange, but it is served on the side.
- Chicken Tenders - Not the typical type of fried, but still good. There is much more fried parts than chicken. They lose their crispiness fast, though.
- Baked Beans - Good flavoring, better than be barbecue sauce. The only problem is there are little hard flecks of something in it (bacon, I assume), which ruin the texture of the soft beans.
- Sweet Potato - It is always soft, tender, and delicious
- Chicken Caesar Salad - Very good. The chicken was very tender and juicy, and was also good quality. The only problem was that it came without crutons. A plate of lettuce and chicken doesnt look very appealing. I had to ask, and they brought some for me (fresh out of the oven). The crutons were hot and buttery.
Blacksburg Country Club Grille - 1064 Clubhouse Road,
Every time I dine at the Country Club, it is a new experience. There are two menus from which you can order, the grille menu, and the dinner menu. The dinner menu features changing dishes that are more expensive and classier than the grille menu. Those dishes have excellent attention paid to presentation. Each dinner is served with bread and a house salad or soup. I think that their side salad is one of the best that I have ever had; this is the only time I will eat raw mushrooms. The produce seems to be of excellent quality. There is usually at least one pasta dish, a seafood dish, a pork dish, steak, and chicken. The flavors usually do not appeal to me, so I typically order off of the grille menu. There are wraps, sandwiches, burgers, salads, and a few lower cost dinner, such as fried fish and a rack of ribs. I typically get the Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap. The grille menu items some with french fries, onion rings, pretzels, or a salad for a little extra money. Dinners at the Club take a while to come out, so be prepared for a long wait. There are tvs, though, for your entertainment (and theyre not always tuned to sports!). Oh, one other note of importance: You have to be a member of the Country Club to dine at their restaurant.
Backstreets - 207 South Main Street, Blacksburg, Virginia
- Pulled Pork Barbecue - A little chunkier and and not as smooth as I like my barbecue, but it has a good flavor.
- Chicken Caesar Salad Wrap - This wrap, while usually fully loaded at cheap fast food places, is usually skimpy with the lettuce, making this more of a wrap (just a plain one, not even flavored) with a little something in it, rather than a salad in a little bread.
- Pork Chop with Apple Chutney - The chop was tasty enough, but it was huge, and still had the bone. The chutney was delicious, and this is a great dish if you have a big appetite.
- The Hogan - This is a good quesadilla, with lots of melted cheese. It probably could have had a little more chicken.
It is a great combination of flavors with cheese and barbecue sauce.
Backstreets is a cozy little Italian restaurant located on Main Street, no longer on a backstreet. The cramped parking lot is barely navigable, but dont let that deter you. The interior holds more patrons than the parking lot may suggest, especially in the summer, when the patio is open. You often have to wait a minute before a host seats you, but be patient. A note of warning: the inside of the restaurant varies greatly in temperature, and can often be very cold. The booths are somewhat comfortable, though they are getting old. The chairs offer no comfort, so request a booth. No bread is immediately brought to the table. A waitperson takes the drink order. The menu has a wide selection of pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, seafood, chicken, and meat. Some of the meals are served with bread, but it is served with dinner, so ask for it sooner if you are hungry. There meals often take a while, especially the dishes with dough, but that is just a reassurance that everything is fresh and made-to-order. The kitchen staff is very accommodating to any requests. The food is always hot and delicious. This is a family favorite.
Cinco de Mayo - 3703 South Main Street, Blacksburg, Virginia
- Stromboli - Much like a calzone, this individual pizza is wrapped in dough with the choice of three toppings. The regular is very filling; dont even try to tackle a large. It is served with sauce on the side, because there is none inside. I ask for an extra side of sauce, because one little container is not enough. This is very good, though.
- Spagadi - This regular is bigger than the plate: dont worry about not having enough to eat. Even my dad couldnt finish it. This is delicious. It is a crust, stuffed with pasta, cheese, and some sauce. One drawback I found was that the sauce and cheese was not evenly distributed inside the dish. A large side of sauce accompanied the dish, though, so it wasnt a huge issue. This is very yummy.
- Deep Dish Merger Pizza - This pizza is incredible. The crust is huge and thick. It is piled high with toppings and is delicious. This takes extra time to prepare (over 30 minutes), so order a side salad.
- Side Salads - Though I suggest ordering them, the vegetables are of fairly low quality.
- Salsiccio Riso - This is a huge tomato and rice dish. I ask for it without the sausage, but I feel it doesnt take anything away. The shrimp isnt very good quality, but I eat those quickly so Im left with only the delicious rice. It is a very heavy rice with a spicy tomato sauce drenching it. Again, I have trouble finishing one of these in a single sitting, but the leftovers are just as good.
Cinco de Mayo is one of our favorite restaurants. The food is great, the service is good and fast, and the price is very reasonable. There is a bar with smoking, but it is separated from the restaurant fairly well. There is the main dining room, with large, roomy booths, and then the greenhouse-style room, with only not-so-comfortable tables. I do tend to feel that the restaurant is kept at too cold of a temperature. I spend much of my wait for my meal shivering. Your meal is started with chips and salsa. The salsa is different each time (varies in spice, texture, etc...), but is always good. Your drink orders are taken, and are always kept full. Just a note: most of the waiters speak fluent English, but a few still have some problems with my quickly-spoken English, so be sure to enunciate and speak clearly. This may be part of the reason that special requests are not always met, but usually are. The kitchen is speedy, and your hot dish arrives very quickly. The food is very cheesy, very greasy, and very good. Sometimes the chicken is good, sometimes it is hard and dry, but that seems to just be luck of the draw, and the rest of the dish will be so good, it wont matter. It sometimes takes awhile for the bill to come, but when it does, not only will your tummy be happy, but so will your wallet. Leave a tip at the table, and go pay at the register. Youll leave smiling from a great meal.
- Super Burrito - This is a huge burrito, filled with soft vegetables and a meat of your choice. The red sauce on top is delicious. It comes with a lot of extras, but I keep it simple with the rice, lettuce, and pico de gallo. The only drawback is that it is swimming in grease.
- Sincronazada - This is a chicken and cheese mixture inside of two tortillas. Sometimes there are large bits of vegetables inside, sometimes little chunks, sometimes none. It also comes with jalapenos, but I always order it without that. This also comes with a side, and a lot of extras, but I like it when it is just topped with lettuce. This is very good.
- Fajita Quesadilla - This is not like a quesadilla that you would get at a Tex-Mex restaurant. It is stuffed with vegetables, chicken, cheese, and grease. Sometimes the dish is fine, but other times I find it too greasy to even pick up to eat (Im not sure cutting this dish would work). It is good, but I have stopped ordering it because it is so unpredictable.
- Chicken Fajitas - This is a huge platter of food. The sizzling plate is piled high with chicken, peppers, onions, and tomatoes. The onions are incredibly sweet, and I cant stop eating them. It is served with a big bowl of refried beans, all the fixings, and tortillas. It is very good, but a lot of food.
- Mexican Rice - This can sometimes be very good, but it often hard or swimming in grease. I recommend the
- Refried Beans - There are great. Warning: you may need a GasX after this meal (highly recommended for all bean meals).
- Burritos Deluxe - I always get two chicken and beans. Its weird not having any sides served with this dish, only two burritos topped with lettuce, but it is enough food, and very good.
Beamers is a local restaurant named after the current coach of the Virginia Tech football team, the Hokies. He is not affiliated with the restaurant, though. It happens to be owned by our next-door neighbor. Just some tidbits of knowledge for you. The restaurant has a nice, upscale atmosphere. It is built around a love of sports, so there are numerous televisions, including a big screen tv, with a bar holding even more picture tubes. The the booths are large and roomy. The tables are giant butcher blocks, made from a deep, dark wood. They are adorned with a fresh red flower head. The lighting is dim, making this a better date restaurant that read-at-the-table restaurant. The meal starts with a basket of white, plain bread, which is dense and moist. Drink orders are taken. My glass is always kept full. The menu offers a large selection of fairly priced lunch sandwiches, along with number fish, beef, and chicken dinners. The portions are generous, so I would not advising adding a salad to your meal for an extra salad, but if youre really hungry, the salads are good. The portions being large raises the price, making this more of a special occasion restaurant. The deserts are also good, though there is no menu for them, only a tray of the daily offerings. Beamers is good for a once-in-a-while dinner treat.
- Havana Chicken - I really enjoy this dish. The rice pilaf is very good, the black beans are tastefully seasoned, the vegetables are softly sautéed and of good quality. The only problem with this chicken dish is the chicken. The chicken is dry, bland, and poor quality. I just simply remove it, eat some of the better parts, and leave the rest. The remaining food is more than enough to fill me up.
Mr. Js Bagels & Deli - Exit 247A
We got here around prime lunch time, and there were about a dozen people waiting, but we had just enough time to look over the menu of sandwiches, bagels, and breakfast items before our order was taken. I ordered a turkey sandwich on wheat, specifying my add-ons, Dad ordered a veggie, hold the onions, and mom ordered a ruben, though it was no where on the menu. I had just enough time to go to the bathroom before our dishes were ready. What I got was what I ordered: A turkey sandwich with mustard, lettuce, and onion on a wheat bagel. Though not what I expected, it was good. All of our requests had been met perfectly. We sat at one of the few, semi-clean, available tables and enjoyed our lunch.
Good Fellas - Exit 42
I hadnt eaten in over six hours. For those of you who dont know me, that leads to problems. So this review may be a little harsher than it would have been had I been not as famished. The parking is large, but the inside could never accommodate that many people. There is one small dining room. The chairs are rather uncomfortable, but the decoration is nice, the ambiance is at par, if not above, with an Olive Garden. We didnt have a reservation, but we were seated quickly. A reservation may be recommended, though, because by 7:30, every table was full. Someone once said that their memory of New Jersey was it was noisy and crowded, and that is the perfect way to describe the feel of the restaurant. Our drink orders were taken quickly. The place did not sell wine, and most people brought their own (just an interesting note). My mom had a hard time deciding what to order, and I dont blame her: The menu is six pages long. There are a number of soups, appetizers, and many different kinds of pasta sauces with a variety of pastas from which to choose. Veal, beef, chicken, and seafood dishes fill the menu, along with sandwiches and pizzas. I choose the Pomodoro sauce with Rigatoni. My dad ordered some chicken dish, and my mom requested the Chicken Caesar Salad. At this point we waited. A basket of bread (sesame seed [yuck]) was eventually brought to our table, though not in a timely fashion. For 30 minutes we waited for our meal. I saw our waitress numerous times, and she even caught my eye, but she would not come and fill my water glass. The water glass was small to begin with, and was filled with ice, so I has finished in about two sips. To wait 30 minutes for a drink refill is absurd. Our dishes finally came, and luckily, they were good. My dad really enjoyed his chicken dish with olives, mushrooms, and a sauce. The chicken was very tender. My sauce was very good. Now, I know that pasta should be cooked only to al dente, but much of my rigatoni was even tougher than that, which made the dish a little more hard to enjoy. My mom had a good caesar salad. The dressing was good, but spicy. There were many good looking desserts, but we had other places to go. The prices seemed a little high for the portion size (not huge) and the time it took, but it was mostly reasonable. I would not dine there again if I were actually hungry, though.
Meeting Street Café - 220 Meeting Street, Providence, Rhode Island
Providence is a city packed full with cafés and small restaurants. I chose this one of the recommendation of a Resident Advisor. There was only one other person in the café. I had been craving a Chicken Caesar Salad for some time, so that was what I ordered. I got it to-go, because I was meeting some friends for dinner somewhere else. I watched as the nice chef prepared my salad to-order. While he was preparing it, we had an interesting discussion about the different between bottled water and a water bottle. I asked for extra croutons, a little less cheese, and dressing on the side. It was prepared perfectly. The freshly cooked chicken was added last, which was hot and juicy. I dug in once I had reached our meeting place. The greens were good, as there wasnt just romaine lettuce. The croutons were scrumptious. I feel the croutons can make or break a salad. The parmesan cheese was a little salty, but good. I chose not to eat the dressing, because the salad was perfect as it was, and also, the dressing was a little spicy. It was a delicious meal.
Shortys - 328 Nashua Mall, Nashua, New Hampshire
When we lived in New Hampshire, Shortys was our most frequented restaurant. Its flavor is Tex-Mex with a homey atmosphere. The restaurant is tastefully decorated with memorabilia that the famed Shorty may have had and collected. The booths and the tables are comfortable, though the booths arent as roomy as at other restaurants. Shortys used to have an add on the radio that boasted swell food and perky servers. That is an apt description. Though the wait at Shortys is sometimes long, it is well worth it. You are seated and are presented with chips and salsa. We always order an appetizer of Espinaca con Queso, which is a cheese dip for chips. It is delicious and creamy. I always used to order Fajitas, but I have gotten over my fajita phase. I now really like burritos, so I was very excited to be back in New Hampshire to try a Shortys burrito. I had a hard time choosing which bean I wanted on the side. I finally opted for a Shredded Chicken Burrito with a red sauce and River City Beans. I could not have been more disappointed. I have been dreaming of this dinner for a year, and it was a disaster. The burrito was topped with tons of cheese and almost no sauce. Once the cheese had been scraped off, there was no sauce left, so I asked for some on the side. The inside of the burrito was only chicken and the occasional tiny red pepper bite. While waiting for my sauce, I tried the rice: it was okay, but very greasy. Then I tried the beans, which were a huge disappointment. There was bacon in it, which I had to pick around. What was left was a spicy sauce of which I wasnt even a huge fan, and a few pathetic beans. I finally got my sauce, but it wasnt as sweet as I expected, and did nothing for my dry chicken. My mom felt bad for me, so she gave me part of her Litchfield Mexican Club. It was incredible! I had to pick around the bacon in this chicken, tomato, lettuce, and bacon stuffed wrap, but that wasnt too hard. I was worried about the sauce, which was described as a a guacamole dressing (I dont like guacamole), but I loved it. It was a delicious wrap. My dad had a little of his taco salad left over, so he gave that to me, too. It was the part that almost no one likes: soggy, dressing-laden lettuce, and a soppy taco shell. Its my favorite part. This and the part of my moms sandwich made up for my dry burrito. Even though today was a bad experience, I will always love Shortys, and will continue to look forward to our dining there.
- Caribbean Way - I like ice-based smoothies a little more than juice-based smoothies, but this was just the right amount of creamy. It had a good taste, and the banana was not overpowering.
- Mango Madness - This was more watery than most smoothies I have had. The orange juice was a very overpowering flavor. The biggest problem was that it was pulpy and stringy; in a smoothie, I want smoothness. I would not be getting this again.
DAngelo - Pheasant Lane Mall, Nashua, New Hampshire
DAngelo is a northern, chain version of a Subway. Being more local, it always seemed a little superior to Subway. The bread it soft and cold, not like that of a Quiznos. There are a large variety of subs from which to choose. There is also the option of putting the filling into a pita pocket or a wrap. I recently went to one in a mall. Food court quality is never as good as a stand-alone. The service was rather quick, though. Again unlike Subway, the sandwich is not made in front of the customer. I ordered a Chicken Stir Fry DLite. I watched them cook my vegetables (hold the mushrooms). The bread was a little chewy, not nearly as good as Subways. The stir fry itself was good, but with no cheese or sauce offered in the DLite version, it was rather dry. I would stick to a plain turkey next time, so possibly go to Subway and get a Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, which is very saucy.
Lui Lui - 259 Daniel Webster Highway, Nashua, New Hampshire
I used to hate Lui Lui. I would always get plain corkscrew pasta with a butter sauce. I also enjoyed the bread animal that would come with a childrens meal, that had a chocolate chip as an eye. Now, with a more matured taste, I was excited to try a real dish. Lui Lui is a large, nonsmoking restaurant. The room is open, though, so there is not much privacy. The meal starts with a basket of warm, crusty rolls and Lui Luis flavored, olive oil dipping sauce. My parents usually order a pitcher of lemonade, and share it with the table. I stick with my water. I started perusing the menu. I was surprised with the limited selection of dishes, compared to other Italian restaurants. Lui Luis main focus seems to be pizza. There is only one other main dish section, labeled Pasta. Chicken, meat, veal, and pork are all under one category. I decided to try the Lui Lui, with a chicken broth sauce. After enjoying a roll and a half of the good bread, my dinner was served (no salad or soup is included). It was a big bowl of rigatoni pasta with broccoli, chicken and a garlic-intense sauce. (Caution: the yellow disc on the pasta is a lemon slice, not zucchini) Although the sauce was a little watery, and didnt cling well to the pasta, it was very good. The broccoli was perfectly steamed, and the chicken wasnt just grilled, but had an interesting crust on it. I was very happy with my dish. Even once all the pasta was gone, I continued to scrape out the garlic chunks from the sauce and eat them. I wish there was a Lui Lui closer to me where I could dine more frequently.
Boston Market - 40 Drum Hill Road, Chelmsford, Massachusetts
Boston Market offers great, home style cooking. From chicken on the bone with skin and cornbread to a range of sides, the food makes one think of home. The great thing about Boston Market is that you can see what food you are getting. The chicken is roasted in front of your eyes, and all the sides are inside a clear case, so you can see exactly what you are ordering. The sides are put immediately on the plate, and very soon after, the meat of you choice is put on the plate. The tables are nicer than that of a Wendys, but the silverware is still plastic. The chicken was very succulent. I have tried many of the sides at other locations. My favorite os the tortelili salad, but that is hard to find. The dill potatoes are good. The stuffing is moist and full of crunchy celery and onions. The butternut squash is sweet, the perfect amount. At this particular Boston Market, I tried the sweet potatoes for the first time. I felt it was way too sweet, and much prefer my homemade sweet potato casserole. The cornbread was barely warm and slightly hard. Although this was not a great experience, I will continue to miss having one in Virginia.
Bella Italia - 22 Pondview Place, Tyngsboro, Massachussets
My favorite Italian restaurant is Bella Italia. It is a small restaurant at the back of a bombed-out parking lot. It you can make it around the pot holes, you can eventually enter the one, main dining room of Bella Italia. There are candles on the table, and there is a nice ambiance, but the dress code is not above casual, even though I enjoy dressing up to go there. The meal starts with a basket of warm bread, and the drink orders are taken. (Just a note: I have always disliked Bella Italia water, but I will suffer through that to get to my main meal.) The menu, though I rarely look at it, is full of pasta, chicken, and meat dishes. I want to try many of them, but my regular is so incredible, I never waver from it. Pasta Purses (a tiny Borsellini) are small squares of pasta filled with six cheeses, then pinched off at the top to form, well, purses. They are topped with a tomato or bolognese sauce. The garden salad is that comes with a meal is good with parmesan peppercorn dressing, but I prefer to incur the extra charge to get the caesar salad. As I have said before, croutons make the salad, and while the garden salad has none, the caesar salad is loaded with bite size delicacies of hard bread. Once the salad is gone, I sit and wait for my dinner. The service was rather slow on this particular visit; the restaurant was packed. But I didnt mind any wait. My meal arrived. I popped into my mouth the first fresh Pasta Purse I had had in a year. I could have believe that I had died and gone to heaven. Each purse is the perfect size, and has just the right amount of the creamiest, cheesiest filling. The cheese is not melted, but more of a consistency of softened cream cheese. I savor each bite. I only ate half of the dish, because it is too filling to finish. I am bringing the rest home, to enjoy in six months, but it will not be the same. Bella Italia, I love you, and I miss you.
Angkor Kingdom Restaurant - 602 Merrimack Street, Lowell, Massachusetts
I wanted to go to a Thai restaurant, but the person with whom we were dining suggested some other places. Lowell apparently has the second largest Cambodian population in America, so we decided to experiment and try a Cambodian restaurant for the first time. It was one of the hottest days of the summer, and the interior of the restaurant offered no relief. It was warm and humid inside. The restaurant was deserted at 6:30. The entire meal, only one other party entered. The menu was long and complicated. There were descriptions, but there were so many options that it was overwhelming. We were given a picture menu, which displayed a few of the items, but actually, most of the pictures turned me away from those dishes. Im afraid I dont remember any of the dishes names, but I will try to describe them. My parents started with an avocado shake, which came highly recommended. It was okay, but too sweet for me. My friend tried a honeydew melon bubble tea drink. It tasted exactly like honeydew melon, which is something I have decided that I do not like to drink. The bubbles at the bottom are disgusting in taste and texture. I had to spit them out. We also ordered some appetizers: Beef of sticks with pickled vegetables, summer rolls, and egg rolls. The beef sticks were tasty, but I kept hitting large chunks of fat. I loved the pickled vegetables, even the jalapeños. The summer rolls were also very recommended, and were great. They were light and cold, which was a relief in such a hot restaurant. Our dishes took a while to prepare, and my water glass was empty for a long time. We had spent about 15 minutes choosing our meals. I picked SM06, a chicken dish served in a pineapple. The chicken was poorly trimmed and fatty, and the fried noodle sticks were unappealing because of the humidity, but the rest of the dish was very sweet and tasty. The extra sauce was good poured over the white rice that came with our dishes. My mom got a pork and ginger dish with a one pepper hotness rating, but I did not like the taste, and did not find it very spicy. My dad ordered SM04, chicken and vegetables. I liked that, though it was a little bland. There was a seafood dish served in a coconut milk sauce (and it appeared to be topped with grass clippings), but I didnt like its taste at all. There was a lamb dish served over some yellow noodles. The noodles were okay, but nothing that I would order again. The last dish was a seafood medley served over friend noodles. I did not like this either. Next time, I will certainly pick Thai.
Reins - Exit 65, Vernon, Connecticut
Reins is a family tradition. On any driving trip that takes us on route 84, we will undoubtedly stop at Reins. Reins is also a local favorite, and is always packed. The delicatessen and restaurant are full and leave one begging for breathing space. The offerings include every kind of meat and salad imaginable. We endure the wait, though, and begin our meal with pickles. The pickles are part of the experience. They are fun to eat, but are not the tastiest that I have ever had. I ordered a turkey sandwich on wheat with lettuce and onions. It came out fairly quickly, considering how full the restaurant was, but I think theyre used to it. I was rather unhappy with my sandwich. First of all, the meat and onions were in a heap on the very middle of the bread, so that 50% of the bites taken would have had only bread. I had to take the sandwich apart and reassemble it myself, which is not one of my to-do items for most other restaurants. The turkey was dry. I consider Boars Head meat from out local Kroger much better, moister, and tastier. The meal was so discouraging that I got a cinnamon raisin bagel to-go. It was delicious and chewy, though it could have had more raisins and cinnamon. Even with this not-so-great experience, though, I know I will be returning to Reins some day.
Dr. Davis -
- Strawberry Xtreme - More like Xtremely strawberry-deprived. The taste of banana was overpowering. I chose not to consume it, and passed it along to my dad, who said he could not taste the strawberry at all.
- Peach - I wanted strawberry, but they were out of the flavor. So I had the peach. It was very sweet, but good. This was an ice-based smoothie, which are my favorite kind. And for once, the serving size was reasonable, and not more akin to a meal replacement. I really enjoyed it on the hot summer day.
Ruby Tuesday - Exit 47, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
After eight hours of driving, I was ready for some good food, but not something too heavy. So we picked Ruby Tuesday because of their salad bar. I was worried about a wait, it being a Saturday at 6:30, but 10 minutes wasnt too much to handle. We were seated in a booth that was extremely uncomfortable. The curve for your back was in the wrong place. Our waiter was friendly, and took our drink orders. An interesting thing about Ruby Tuesday is that they have the nutritional information for all their dishes printed right on the menu. I ordered a salad bar and baked potato combo, my dad the sirloin tips, and my mom a fried chicken salad. I dove right in. I kept running into two problems, though: Our booth was a trapped area. The main pathway was always blocked by servers, and the longer route was filled with tables and chairs and other diners. The line at the salad bar was also a little long, but I snaked my way through eventually. I started with a salad topped with all kinds of fresh vegetables and delicious pumpernickel (maybe) croutons. Next I got a bunch of fresh fruit, which was very good for a chain restaurant. On my next trip, I loaded my plate with more croutons tried a bunch of their pasta and potato salads. I didnt like the potato salad (It seemed too sweet), but the pasta salads were very good. My baked potato came with my parents dinner. It was hot and fluffy, not hard like many restaurant potatoes. My mom liked her salad, though it was huge, and my dad liked his sirloin tips. It was a great meal to end a long day.
Chilis - Exit 222, Staunton, Virginia
There is no Chilis near where I Iive, and I miss it. It isnt quite like an Applebees, or a Ruby Tuesday, or a TGIFridays. It is in its own league. We stopped here after a few hours of driving. But first we had to get there. We called the restaurant for directions from exit 222. They had a sign on the highway, so we figured it would be easy to find. The first woman with whom we spoke knew nothing about intestates. She passed us off to the manage, who told us to turn right after exiting, but could not be sure if the road on which they were located also went by the number 250 (It was). After all the incompetence, we made it there. It being lunch, I only wanted a sandwich, so I looked over their collection of Guiltless Grills, which are lower-fat entrees. The Chicken Pita looked very good, so I ordered it. My mom ordered the Chicken Caesar Pita, and my dad a chicken sandwich with friend onions. With no appetizers, salads, or bread, I waited anxiously for my meal. The pita was served in a cute stand, with a side of black beans. I had to spread out my pita filling; it was all clumped in the middle. The pita was a little tough to chew at times, but it was very good, as very my black beans. My mother didnt finish her pita, so I polished it off. It, too, was very delicious. My dad liked his sandwich, though by the end he had to resort to using a fork and knife to eat it. I tried one of my moms french fries, which was hot, fully, and deliciously seasoned. What a great meal.
Macados - 922 University City Boulevard, Blacksburg, Virginia
Macados is a local chain in Southwestern Virginia and Eastern West Virginia. Each restaurant is decorated with tons of memorabilia. For instance, the Blacksburg restaurant features a huge Godzilla, a dinosaur, a flying dinosaur, the cover of what seems to be every entertainment magazine, a life size Marilyn Monroe, and more. The seating is marginally comfortable. The Blacksburg location is a huge, two-story restaurant with a bar and and ice cream shop. The bar can lead to problems, though, as the restaurant is very open. We always have problems with the air being smokey, no matter where we sit. We opt to dine at Macados at obscure times, when fewer people will be clouding the air. The menu is as equally large as the restaurant. This is mainly a deli, with tons of interestingly-named sandwiches predesigned for your enjoyment. You can always make your own sandwich, though. There are also lots of tasty appetizers, quesadilla, salads, and a few entrees to try. The food is usually good quality, and fairly quickly prepared, and the price is food for the food. Macados is a fun restaurant, if you can stand the air.
- Southwestern Taco Salad: This can we topped with chicken or chili: I always pick the chili. I feel a taco salad is weird without beans. With a choice of picante (salsa) or dressing, I opt for the more Mexican picante. I also hold the sour cream, guacamole, and olives. The remainder of the salad is delicious. As soon as it comes, I like to mix the greens and vegetables inside of the taco shell so everything gets coated. This taco shell isnt overly greasy, and is delicious to eat, especially if it has absorbed some of the chili juice. Im not sure who would need tortilla chips on the side, so I just pass those to my dad. Isnt a taco shell just a huge tortilla chip?
Nerv - 221 Progress Street NE, Blacksburg, Virginia
This is considered a hip date restaurant in Blacksburg. We ended up there one Saturday because the Country Club was closed, but we were dressed up, so we decided to try Nerv, based on one of my friends leftovers at lunch. She had gotten the Thai Shrimp and Chicken Stir-Fry. We asked to sit outside, as it was finally not blazingly hot outside. The inside looked very chic, comfortable, and romantic. The deck chairs weren't the most comfortable, but at least they weren't plastic. We ordered out drinks, and also an appetizer, which is a rarity for us. I thought the Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps sounded good. Little did I know that we would have to have them ourselves. When one is dressed up, one does not want to roll strips of chicken and vegetables in lettuce. The taste was overall only okay. At least the chicken was good quality. Soon our own personal pan of cornbread came (included at every table). It was hot and had a good texture, but was too salty for me. I ordered the Stir-Fry, my dad, the Pasta Luigi, and my mom, the Grilled Chicken Alfredo. The food was beautifully presented, with extreme attention paid to detail. I was overly disappointed in my dish, though. I cant pinpoint what I didnt like about it, but I just didnt. I ate the veggies, which were softly sautéed. The chicken was good, but the shrimp was poorly prepared. It was all served on a bed to linguini, but I liked the sauce so little, that I chose to not eat them. That was all that came with my dish, and my meal came to an abrupt end. The alfredo was very good. It was served with a crusty garlic bread. Again, the chicken was juicy and tender. I did not like my dads pasta, which seemed too greasy, but he enjoyed it. My parents seemed to enjoy the dinner well enough, but I am not in a hurry to return.
Vincents - 1200 South Main Street, Blacksburg, Virginia
Vincents was the first place we ate after moving to Blacksburg. The closing for our house had finally finished, but we had neither food nor furniture in our home. So we went out, looking for a place to eat, and stumbled across Vincents. This is one of the nicer restaurants in Blacksburg, which expects reservations. As a tradition, we now go there once, and only once, a year, on August 19th. The food isnt that great. The meal starts with crusty bread. I got the soup of the day, a three bean and tomato. It was spicy and hot, and had a taste similar to minestrone, which I would have preferred. I decided to try the Pasta Primavera. There was very little sauce, but the vegetable were soft and tender. The pasta was perfectly al dente. It was good food, just not something of which I liked the taste. My mother tried one of the specials of the day, chicken and veal with a fig and date sauce. The sauce was sweet, and not something I would ever order for myself. Her meal also came with a side of spaghetti and tomato sauce and roasted vegetables. The vegetables were good, but the pasta left much to be desired. The sauce was watered-down and disgusting. My dad ordered the Cappellini de Pomodoro. It was much less saucy than any other pomodoro sauce I have had. There wasnt enough sauce for the amount of pasta served. Tradition isnt the only reason we only dine here once a year.
Chick-fil-A - 4805 Valley View Boulevard, NW, Roanoke, Virginia
About three years before we moved from New Hampshire, we finally got a Chick-fil-A. My dad had grown up with them in the south, and sorely missed them. The food quality at the mall store front was superb. We came to Virginia, and found we had been spoiled. The food quality at this Roanoke Chick-fil-A is sub-par. We went there for lunch because I had a coupon for a free Southwestern Chicken Salad. My chicken was cold. The bean and corn salad was weird and spicy. The tomatoes were disgusting. The rest of the vegetables were good quality, though. It came with tortilla strips which were a mix between stale tortilla chips and stale Fritos. My dad liked his fried chicken sandwich well enough, but it certainly wasnt as good as the ones at other Chick-fil-As. My mom got the Chicken Caesar Wrap. It is beyond my why is comes without the dressing on it, which is very annoying. It is stuffed with not enough filling and too much dry parmesan cheese. This was a disappointing meal, and in the future, I will chose to dine elsewhere. It was a good value for the money: the meal of three entrees, three drinks, and a brownie cost just over $12 (with a coupon).
Blacksburg Country Club Grille -1064 Clubhouse Road,
Every Wednesday, the Country Club has a buffet. The buffet is small, and reservations are requested. Each week has a theme, such as The Lone Star State or The Orient Express. This weeks menu was a sampling of Texan cuisine (I am not familiar with this cuisine; I am not a Texan). There is always a simple garden salad and rolls. This week the soup was vegetable beef. It was a lot like Minestrone, which I would have preferred. The three entrées were Chili, Herb Chicken and BBQ Pork. The chili had chunks of meat and very few beans (The true make-up of chili is widely debated; I like mine with fine, ground beef [if any] and LOTS of beans). This one was spicy, but it was the wrong kind of spice and I did not like it. I did not even finish the small bowl that I had poured - I passed it on to my father. I opted to try the chicken, because I am picky about my BBQ Sauce, and the odor of the stuff on the pork was not appealing. Nor was the chicken, though. There were only pieces of bone-in chicken, to which I am not accustomed. The flavoring was spread on a fatty layer of skin. As I do not eat the skin, I pulled it off and ate the chicken underneath, which had less than no flavor. At least it wasnt dry. Because it was so bland, I opted to try the piece of the skin. It was chewy and tasteless. The sides were rice and green beans and ham. I dont like green beans or ham, so I opted for the rice. It was unevenly heated, certain parts being cool, and this too had no flavor. Dessert was no pick-me-up. There is always a collection of 3 Sara Lee-looking cakes. This week offered a pecan pie (I only eat my mothers), a banana chocolate cake (Who cant bananas for dessert?), and something that looked lemony and meringue-y. I chose to not try the Lemon Meringue Pie, as the rest of the dinner had been a complete disaster. At least the rolls were soft, warm and chewy.
Red Lobster - 75 Peppers Ferry Road, Christiansburg, Virginia
I am not that particular of seafood. I went through a brief shrimp-loving phase, but that has passed. What I love is the Cheddar Bay Biscuits at Red Lobster. So I go there every so often to enjoy one. My dad used to always get the swordfish, until its mercury levels started being too high. Red Lobster stopped serving any swordfish dishes. So then my dad switched to tuna. I have also had tuna, and can bear it. It is the chicken of the sea. It has a mild, non-fishy flavor, so I like it more than other seafood. We went into the Red Lobster this visit and opened our menus. Now the tuna had disappeard. The waited said it was something about levels of something, I dont know. But now tuna if off the Red Lobster menu. After spending a few minutes decided if we were going to stay, we opted to do so, and go for the gusto. I have always wanted to try lobster, but I dont want a whole one to myself, in case I dont like it. They also cost a lot of money. I was going to try broiled flounder (I didnt occur to me until later that I was eating Ariels friend), my dad, the fried flounder. My mother was the experimental one, at my urging. She ordered the Ultimate Feast: Broiled Maine lobster tial, Snow Crab legs, shrimp scampi, and fried scallops (substitued for fried shrimp for $2). The bread came and was delicious. The bread is soft and chewy and herby and flavorful. We all had side salads with our meal. The vegetables are of fairly high quality for a chain restaurant. Soon, our meals came. My broiled flounder was pale and floppy and tasteless, but with some added ketchup, it was pretty not bad. I tried the lobster. I liked the first bite, but not the second, so I dont know what to think. It wasnt fishy, and was very soft and chewy. The crab legs I did particularly like. I had to crack them, and pull the meat out with a pick. It was a lot of work for not a lot of food. The meat was sweet, though, which surprised me. Ill stick to chicken next time, though. So the meal wasnt a total bust. It wasnt the best meal ever, but I got my bread and can now say that I have tried lobster.
El Guadalupes - 1410 South Main Street, Blacksburg, Virginia
El Guadalupes is a local favorite. It has a convenient location and a nice atmosphere. The menu is huge. There are so many options, it is hard to choose only one. The meal starts with tortilla chips and delicious, spicy, chuncky salsa. It took a while for our order to be taken, and I was starving. I ordered a chicken burrito and a chicken taco. The burrito filling was a very tasty shredded chicken, but nothing else. The sauce was not the best that I have had, but it was okay. The taco was in a hard shell, so we asked for some extra soft tortilla, which were brought promptly. I transfered the filling to the tortilla, and it was delicious. The refried beans were very good, not too runny. The rice was not too greasy, nor hard and undercooked. But it all looked rather slopped together. All of the food was running together. It seemed to be approaching fast food instead of a sit down restaurant. The bill also took a while to come, and we were in a hurry. Though the food was good, we will stick to Cinco de Mayo.
Blacksburg Country Club Grille -1064 Clubhouse Road,
I think this may have been the best meal I have had at the Club. It started with a beautiful night. We wanted to eat somewhere outside, so we headed to the club. Though there was a man smoking, and we were downwind from him, it couldnt ruin the food. We started with salads. This is the only time I will eat mushrooms, and I actually like them. We expressed happiness over the crutons and had our salads loaded with them. The salad ingredients are always great quality. Our meals also came with some bread. It was like nothing I had ever had, but it was delicious. I ordered one of the chefs specials, the Pork Stirfry. My one complaint was that there was too much meat. The pork was delicious; the broccoli, celery, and pea pods were tender; the rice was a little buttery, but was cooked to perfection. The ginger glaze over everything was the perfect binder for everything and tasted marvelous. Our waitress kept my water glass full and brought ice for my dad when she noticed that the ice in his lemonade had melted. It was a great meal, great service, and except for the smoke, a great night.
Pauls Deli Restaurant - 761 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, Virginia
My Uncle Joe went to The College of William and Mary about 30 years ago. He invited my family and me to come to W&M for a football game and to show us around campus. Part of the tour included a lunch stop at one of his favorites from when he was in college. He described it as greasy, fatty, and good. Pauls is a small, crowded deli located right next to campus. Ordering was the first challenge. Orders are placed and picked up at the same location, and it was very chaotic. After standing in front of the counter for about five minutes, someone finally took our order. We returned to the cashier and told them what we had purchased. We went and sat with my uncle and Fred at an uncomfortable table and watched the Virginia Tech game on television. I ordered the Charbroiled Chicken on Pita (I have recently become obsessed with pitas). Both my parents ordered a Bar-B-Que on a Kaiser Bun. Though they forgot one of the bar-b-ques, it was quickly replaced. My pita was good, greasy and hot. I ended up eating half of my moms bar-b-que, which was spicier than most, but very good. It was a finely shredded bar-b-que, not the chunky crap. It came with a side of cole slaw. This is only the second cole slaw I have every liked. It had mustard in it, which most cole slaws normally dont have. I could feel it clogging my arteries as it went down, but it was delicious. Though I probably wouldnt frequent it if I went to William and Mary, I would recommend it.