Archive for the ‘Foody Review’ Category

Ok, I know, I know–why is a twenty-five-year-old man so concerned with College Park?

No, it’s not to scope out under-21’s and talk to them. I have OKCupid for that. Nor is it to speak on social media and, in turn, create memes out of my fellow Terps. They do that on their own. Since I live a literal hop, skip, and a jump away from UMD, I find myself in the area more often than I like to admit than not. I also still conduct a teeny bit of business in the area, therefore I’m invested in places where I can (cheaply) talk turkey. So, when I heard that a Denny’s was opening in the area, I was both cautious and enthusiastic. Growing up in Baltimore, the only Denny’s within a twelve-mile radius was this run-down spot near North Point Road that’s now a Sudsville laundromat near an almost deserted K-Mart.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger...but almost exactly the same. Think about it.

This area looks almost nothing like it did when I was younger…but almost exactly the same. Think about it. About five minutes from here resides the Gentleman’s Gold Club. It’s exactly what you think it is.

Suffice to say, I’d heard of it, knew what it was, but I’d never had it. But, I always wanted it. Like some slightly below average Holy Grail, I searched high and low for a Denny’s. Whenever I found one, there was always something a bit…better to do/eat. But, recently, I couldn’t avoid my cautious enthusiasm about the place any longer. So, after a long day at work, the family and I drove down Route One, past the Enclave, past the Taco Bell, to a little slice of Americana: the Denny’s of Greater College Park. While I didn’t expect five-star dining, what I got exceeded my lowest expectations in terms of “SMH.”

When we walked in, we were three of (including the staff) maybe twenty people in the restaurant. I chalked it up to finals, but it stuck out in my mind; the place just opened not too long ago. Ke$ha and Bruno Mars played from the sound system, so the idea of this being a slice of modern Americana was kept intact, albeit a bit glittered and puffed up. Our waiter, a young woman in her twenties, was pleasant but forgot the bare necessities (making sure your tables are properly equipped with silverware, keeping your menus accessible, keeping your order pad on your person, checking back on your customers, making sure your customers aren’t ready to torch the place because the service they’ve gotten has been below sub-par, etc). When we finally did get her to stop and get everything in order, she was quite apologetic for everything (that’s a plus to alleviate my negativity) and took our orders. I had the “Red White and Blue” French Toast. The family had kid-sized spaghetti and the Cheesesteak Omelet, respectively.

About forty minutes later (after a slew of “mishaps”), our food arrived. My “red white and blue” was replaced by butter pecan and cinnamon. My eggs were cold and my sausages were more mushy than my cats food. The omelet lacked, well, most of what it was supposed to have (you know, peppers, onions, taste–that sort of thing). And our beverages were…unique. We got flavored lemonades. The “mango lemonade” was some Minute Made that was (supposedly) squeezed fresh with a giant glob of mango syrup at the bottom. I stirred and I stirred, but they just don’t make water wet enough to dissolve the “mango” into the drink in any way. I’d understand if it’s puree; puree isn’t supposed to flat-out dissolve into things. But, it was literally half-a-cup full of syrup.

The only thing that came out remotely like expected was my kid’s spaghetti.

Upon paying my check, the cashier asked me how everything was.

“Uh, it was…cool…kind of different,” I hesitantly said, biting my tongue.

“Well, it wasn’t no Ruth’s Chris, was it,” the cashier cheekily asked me, sensing my disdain.

And in the back of my mind (and the front of it), I answered honestly.

“No. No, it wasn’t,” I retorted as I walked out, head-shaking family in tow.

Did I expect Ruth’s Chris? Heck no. But, I at least expected something better than what I got. Maybe it’s some post-open jitters that they’re still trying to work out. That’s entirely possible, just like Terrapin Turf before it (expect a part three of that series at some point, probably in the fall of ’14 with my old a**). Personally, I probably wouldn’t go back for a while, but if you’re in the mood to wait around and possibly get the wrong food, check it out.

At least the pancake puppies were divine. Even though by the time they brought us syrup, the puppies had gotten a bit cold.

Until next time, this is your (admittedly cynical) critic Speed on the Beat, the one who endures awkwardness and clusters so you don’t have to, signing off.

I have recently been receiving comments on my Bolthouse Farms post about the validity of Bolthouse Farms’ health factor in relation to its “Natural Ingredients” label and the lack of transparency from its manufacturer’s when said ingredients are inquired upon. So I thought it would be good to inform everyone on my current position on Bolthouse Farms’ products and the current state of the U.S. food industry as a whole.

As stated to a previous commenter, my Bolthouse Farms post was originally published on April 26 of 2011. Since then, Campbell Soup Company has purchased Bolthouse Farms and I have severely limited my drinking of their beverages. This is partly due to the fact that Campbell Soup Company has been rumored to be using Genetically Modified Organisms (also known as GMO’s) in their food and carrying the listing of “Natural Flavors” which they reportedly won’t divulge upon request. With that said I think we must not simply single out Bolthouse Farms. We must have the broader conversation and discuss the state of the U.S. food industry as a whole. I’m willing to bet that about 95% of products distributed by major food corporations in America have “Natural Flavors” listed in their ingredients and I guarantee just about all of those manufacturers will not specify what those ingredients are if you were to call and ask.krogerkrazy.com

So, the only surefire ways to know that what you are ingesting is healthy and safe from GMO’s, pesticides or other toxic chemicals is to either grow and cook your own vegetables, meats, et cetera (extreme) or the less time-consuming and expensive option of researching ingredients and only purchasing organic, Non-GMO labeled foods that keep their ingredients transparent for their consumers (practical). This is why I like to shop at Whole Foods Market or the green/organic section of my local grocery store. They carry an extended variety of healthy, properly labeled foods like the aforementioned.

But, just to be clear, while knowing exactly what is in my food is important to me, I do indulge in the culinary pleasures  of a honey bun or fast food from time-to-time. I’m not totally anal about every single thing I eat or drink. The point is to educate ourselves and find a balance that works for us individually. So, I definitely believe we should educate ourselves on the pro’s and con’s of what is in our food so that at the bare minimum we at least know what we are eating. However, whether we decide to continue eating the bad stuff even after knowing it is bad for us is really up to the individual.

hmsdesign.com

The sad aspect of technology is that large corporations now have the means to manipulate products and term it food or throw around health jargon to trick us into thinking that what we are buying is actually good for us. So, just to reiterate, I think the most we can do next to growing our own food is just being smart consumers willing to invest time into researching what we eat and knowing what is good food versus bad food. I have been trying to eat healthier and be more conscious of what I put in my body. But, I must admit, it is a challenge with how the food industry is set up today. Like many consumers, I too feel that the governments lack of transparency when it comes to ingredients in our food is where the biggest of health problems stem from. If the USDA and the FDA weren’t so relaxed on these issues and controlled by the monetary influences of large corporations, the U.S. food industry would be held accountable for their unhealthy and dangerous practices. But, as long as we have concerned citizens willing to educate and spread the word about GMO’s and detrimental chemicals in the food we can teach those who are ignorant of what they put into their body just what is in their Cola or their McDonald’s chicken McNuggets.

With all of that said, true change begins with a conversation and education and is followed by an action. So, to those who feel passionate enough to leave lengthy comments on posts and attempt to educate readers and writers alike, take action! Do more than just talk about it. Find a way to create real change in the world. Having the conversation is great. But, without action the impact isn’t nearly as large. Just a thought! And thank you to everyone who read and commented on the original Bolthouse Farms post. I highly appreciate it.

2012-07-21-YO-Sushi-Union-Station-52After viewing Yo! Sushi’s television debut on Travel Channel’s Fast Foods Gone Global and discovering the chains first restaurant was coming to DC, I knew I had to try this place out upon its arrival. I recently visited the first Yo! Sushi in America located in none other than Union Station in the Nations Capital where I was greeted by a very modern decor and tapas like fare. So many things caught my eye I almost don’t know where to begin. I guess the first thing I noticed was…everything. It was almost like a sensory overload. There were brightly colored seats and wall panels, neon lights, a food conveyor belt (we’ll go into detail on that one later), wait staff dressed in Japanese-style garbs, and a color coded plate system like none other. The music was upbeat, the atmosphere was casual and the clientele was as diverse as the city of DC itself. This was an entirely new experience for me and I must admit I highly enjoyed it. I sat on a bar stool near the entrance of the restaurant. (Something I don’t normally do, but it wasn’t bad.) Although the restaurant was open and colorful, there was still a sense of privacy when speaking with my guest. I also noticed the manager attempted to optimize privacy by sporadically seating parties of two or more so no one would feel too crammed or uncomfortable. Bonus points for that one!

An added bonus to the bar seating areas is that they each have a personal water faucet, bottle of soy sauce and wasabi. The individual faucets definitely come in handy when you’ve realized you were overambitious with the spicy wasabi. My guest and I were greeted by our server for the evening. She explained the color coded plate system. (There is a varying cost associated with different colored plates.) Watching the food revolve around the food conveyor belt – a sort of automatic mini airport walkway for Japanese treats – in front of us only made us more hungry so after we placed an order for a couple of hot dishes we began grabbing the tastiest looking few off the belt and started to go to town on a variety of sushi and sashimi. Although the sushi was good. The most memorable dishes were the fried calamari and the chicken teriyaki. Pardon my American palette. The calamari was lightly battered and yet still crunchy. While the chicken teriyaki was hot and flavorful. (I am a sucker for anything teriyaki by the way, so my tastebuds may be a little bias.) They both went well with my Yuengling, which only costs $3.50 during their 4pm-7pm Happy Hour. (What a steal?!) The cordial wait staff combined with the delectable dishes, the vast variety of hot and cold food options, the inviting atmosphere and the great happy hour prices are what make the Yo! Sushi experience memorable and it is definitely an experience I shall have again. So if you’re ever in DC, go to Union Station and experience it for yourself. Check out this YouTube photo sequence below for a better look at the first Yo! Sushi in the United States.

 

If you live in the DC Metropolitan area, consider yourself a foodie and have not yet heard of Hot N Juicy Crawfish, you might want to rethink your self – proclaimed title. This place is a genuine seafood sensation. Until I visited, I had never tasted crawfish. I always thought they looked like little insects of the sea. Sorry for the creepy image. But, after dining at Hot n Juicy Crawfish, it definitely made me a fan of those little meaty crustaceans. But, surprisingly it isn’t the seafood that is the crown jewel of this dive resembling restaurant. It is their special combination of spices, seasonings and cooking methods that have allowed this place to expand to five locations throughout the United States, building a name for itself one major city at a time.

HotNJuicy1While there, I enjoyed one “experience” selection – one pound of crawfish, one pound of shrimp and one pound of Andouille sausage with two half corn cobs and two medium potatoes with Hot N Juicy Special seasoning and mild spice; one bag of mussels boiled in their mild Hot N Juicy Special Seasoning, and one bag of shrimp boiled in their mild Hot N Juicy Special seasoning. All of it was amazing. The seasoning is so good that it is almost hard to formulate words that express the level of flavorful excellence they have executed within every bag. The food was so good, it made Bud Light – a beer I am not a fan of – the perfect liquid companion for this culinary quest. The combination of spicy seafood and savory sausage with the bubbly Bud Light was hot and juicy and refreshing all at once. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my Sunday. In between shucking shells into the tin bucket they give you and devouring morsels of shrimp and crawfish, I enjoyed great conversation and even better aromatics from the kitchen. All while unconsciously keeping my clothes clean thanks to the bibs our server gave us. The only downside to the Hot N Juicy Crawfish experience is that at some point you get full, but you still want to try everything else on the menu.

A few words of advice to the first timer: Be cautious of the spice level! Every level packs a punch. When only boiled with mussels, even the mild spice can cause watering from the eyes. I was glad I did not venture into spicier territory. I would have surely been overwhelmed. Needless to say, if you want a great dining experience with great food and cordial wait staff, Hot N Juicy Crawfish is the way to go. And if you attend on a Sunday afternoon, be sure to order two drinks at a time because the waiters can get pretty busy running around fulfilling every diner’s request. I’m curious about whether the other locations are just as good or better than the DC one. I guess I’ll just have to travel to Vegas, Florida, or California and find out for myself. In the meantime, check out a few other reviews of Hot N Juicy Crawfish here: Yelp!, FourSquare, TripAdvisor, and Zagat. AND check out their Unique Eats special below!

A couple of months ago I visited a restaurant my manager suggested called Adega Wine Cellars & Cafe. Although it is located in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland, Adega is one of those off the beaten path spots that could easily be overlooked at first glance. And I must say I honestly prejudged it the first time I randomly walked by it a year or so ago. From the menu and the clientele it seemed like it would be “uppity” or bourgeois and not very casual attire friendly. But, after receiving a recent recommendation from my boss, I decided to stop by and try it out one evening after work. I ordered The Jerk Wrap which consisted of “grilled jerk chicken breast meat, romaine hearts, avocados, mangoes, roasted red peppers and mango vinaigrette wrapped in a chipotle tortilla.” [Source] When I say the wrap accompanied by potato chips, a dill pickle and a beer was one of the best eats I’ve had on a hot summer day, I am not embellishing. That was one of the best wraps I have ever eaten. And trust me – as a college student who frequented the campus diner quite often – I have had a lot of wraps. So on Father’s Day, after we left the movie theater, I decided to take my dad and sister to eat and have a few drinks at Adega.

Adega2Initially they were a bit apprehensive. It was a restaurant they never heard of, let alone visited before. So I totally understood. But, I told them to trust me and take a chance and they ended the evening pleasantly surprised. One of the beauties of Adega is that it is half beer and wine store and half restaurant. What this means is that if you want to pick up a cold “sixer” of Corona or another preferred brew of your choice after work and take it home, you can. Or, if you spend $10 or more on food there you can actually purchase that same six pack of beer and drink it in the restaurant with your meal. Obviously the cost benefit of the latter is significant when we’re talking about prices of single pints ranging anywhere from $3.50 to $8.00 at a given restaurant.

Needless to say, we purchased a variety six pack of Saranac’s Adirondack Trail Mix and a pint of Fox Barrel Orange Unfiltered Pear Cider to drink. My dad ordered the Calamari (“Fried calamari, breaded and seasoned with Adega’s own recipe. Served with chipotle mustard mayo.”) as a shareable appetizer and for our entrees my dad and I ordered the Smokin’ Turkey Reuben (Grilled Panini-style sandwich with oven-roasted turkey, havarti cheese, white wine-reduced sauerkraut, and Asian pear cranberry chutney on rustic bread) while my sister ordered The Big Jerk (Grilled Jerk chicken breast, fresh mango slices, caramelized red onions, green leaf lettuce, roasted bell peppers, and cumin pepper-mayo spread served on a French baguette).

Adega1All of the food turned out amazing. My turkey Reuben was like no other Reuben I had ever tasted before. The cheese, turkey, and saurkraut helped bring out the savory profile while the Asian pear cranberry chutney brought out the sweetness of the sandwich. All of that combined with the crunchy toasted bread and the pear cider to wash it all down created a great juxtaposition of flavors and textures. I would highly recommend Adega to anyone. Not simply for the delectable cuisine and the affordable drinks, but the service there is up to par and the servers seem very knowledgeable of the food and beverages they are serving. Adega does good food at an affordable price with an atmosphere that isn’t too stuffy or too open and I highly appreciate that experience. Check out their menu and I’m sure you’ll find something you’d like.

Beer Flight

Four 4 oz. beer sampler at Pizzeria Paradiso

First off let me say that there are a lot of great pizza places in the DC Metropolitan area. You’ve got The Original Ledo Restaurant in College Park, Maryland serving up great rectangular-shaped cheesy goodness. There’s Ella’s near Chinatown in DC baking up Neapolitan style deliciousness. Even franchise restaurants like Flippin’ Pizza and Vapiano do pizza justice (It’s all in the dough). But, just having great pizza does not equate to a great dining experience. Here’s where Pizzeria Paradiso Birreria has dominated the game. Pizzeria Paradiso has three locations in the DC Metropolitan area. I recently visited their Dupont Circle location at 2003 P Street NW, Washington DC and was pleasantly surprised. Upon arrival my date and I noticed just how busy the restaurant was. One sign that the place has great food is that even on a Monday there was a wait. Once the restaurant pager given to us by the host began to flash we were whisked away to our seats. During the short walk from the front door to our table, I noticed a busy bar to the right of the entrance and something quite rare, a bar without tv’s. This intrigued me because it made me think about all of the bar talk that probably started out of a necessity for engagement. To me this was somewhat refreshing. We were seated by a cordial hostess who brought us to our table and within a couple of minutes were pleasantly greeted by our server. Initially I was going to stay away from beer for the evening, but after viewing their extensive beer menu, I – being the beer connoisseur – had to try their four 4 ounce samplers for $12. I ordered a sampler of Anchor Porter , DC Brau Time & Place, Mikkeller It’s Alive, and De Dochter van de Korenaar L’Enfant Terrible to drink. The variety of brews and olives that were placed on the table upon our arrival pleased my palate and prepped me for the delectable entrée that would ensue.

"Di Mare" Pizza from Pizzeria Paradiso

“Di Mare” Pizza from Pizzeria Paradiso

For my entrée, I ordered an eight inch “Di Mare” pizza which consisted of Paradiso tomatoes, minced garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese and mussels to top it off. When I say this is one of the best pizzas I have ever tasted, I truly mean that from the bottom of my belly. The crust from the brick, oven-baked dough was so crispy and flavorful and the toppings – ohhh those toppings – just blended so well together. I mean it’s mussels on a pizza. What is not to love about that? The combination of the pizza, the beer sampler and the “Pane” – homemade bread and roasted elephant garlic appetizer – made for a memorable meal. The delicious food coupled with the cozy atmosphere and spectacular hospitality of the wait staff – who seemed to stay on top of things at our table the whole night  – made for a great dining experience and I will definitely be returning for dinner, if not for brunch next time. I highly recommend Pizzeria Paradiso to foodies and non-foodies alike and its Birreria to all of my drinking crowd. With great pizza, vast beer variety, inviting staff, cozy atmosphere and a convenient location, I have definitely found a dining gem in the district. For info on other great pizza places located around the DC Metro area check out About.com and WashingtonPost.com.

To add an extra level of heat to your meal try your meal with this spicy sauce I created.

Ingredients

  1. Ranch Dressing
  2. Cayenne Pepper
  3. Black Pepper
  4. Hot Sauce (Preferably Louisiana Style Crystal Hot Sauce)
  5. Garlic Powder
  6. Onion Powder
  7. Salsa (Diced Green Peppers, Diced White onions, tomato sauce or paste)

To increase or decrease the heat in this sauce, simply increase or decrease amounts of each ingredient at your leisure. You can also add hotter peppers to intensify the level of heat in this sauce.

Recently, after enjoying the greatness that is Burger King I started to think about some reasons why BK is better than the golden arches. Now that list of reasons can be read and viewed by all. These are the eight reasons, in no particular order of importance as to why McDonald’s is not the greatest of all the fast food restaurants. Enjoy!

Filet O Fish

8. FILET O FISH = TOO PRICEY! Here is my plight with McDonald’s on the Filet O Fish sandwich. In recent years the level of quality in its taste and presentation have decreased significantly. As a boy, the Filet O fish was always one of my favorite items on the menu. But as of recently, it has been slowly but surely losing its once great flavor. Not only is its taste suffering, but the portion size of the actual filet has decreased as well. And let’s not forget the fact they are cutting back on the amount of cheese you get on the sandwich now. Who the hell wants a half of a slice of cheese on their sandwich? Needless to say, I feel that their $3+ dollar price tag per sandwich is too much. I think that the filet o fish should be on the dollar menu. Once or twice a year they allow the filet o fish to sell for a dollar. I think they should keep it a dollar all year ’round. Then I wouldn’t feel so cheated after every filet o fish purchase.

7. THEY DON’T HAVE A DELIVERY SERVICE! As unhealthy as McDonalds food is for an ever-expanding morbidly obese population, I feel that you can not be the king of fast food restaurants without providing something that other fast food restaurants don’t already have. And that of course is the ground breaking fast food delivery service. Of course, I pity any person who would end up having that s%&##! job. I can just imagine being asked what I do for a living and having to respond with a  disappointing, “McDonald’s delivery man.” But hey, someone would want or for lack of a greater opportunity, need to do it. Come on McDonalds! You need to sustain us McNugget lovers  by driving to our homes and providing us with those delectable crispidy, crunchety morsels of cluck cluck goodness in 20 minutes or less at any time of the day. Just imagine what wonders it would do for your average 2am pot smoker.

French Fries

6. SUPER SALTY FRIES! As much as we spoiled Americans crave sodium (Side note: My boss actually adds salt to his McDonald’s Fries. Yeah, he’s practically begging death to come for him like a cast member of Final Destination.) I for one do not appreciate the barrel of salt they dump on my Mickey D’s french fries. That s%&# is enough to give a newborn high blood pressure. (Extra Side note: Never drink Hi-C orange while eating McDonald’s french fries. Your taste buds will not only be confused, they will separate themselves from your tongue, leap out of your mouth and curse you out as they exit.) On many occasions, I have watched in horror as the McDonald’s employee grabs the industrial sized salt shaker and begins their assault on those precious spuds and I almost want to jump over the counter and commence the whalin’ on that unsuspecting french fry Nazi. Yes, I despise the level of sodium those golden brown’s endure after that salt shower. Come on McDonald’s! Just put the salt down and no one will get hurt.

5. CALORIE COUNTER MENU! As much as I am pro-anything that enlightens people of the repercussions of their actions and choices, I do not like the empirical evidence of the pre-meditated damage that is going to be done to my body within the ten to fifteen minutes it will take me to devour my 2600 calorie combo. Nor do I like feeling like a fat ass when I decide to add a 250 calorie apple pie or a 1200 calorie shake to that meal. And the amount of time it takes other people in line to decide what to order so that they don’t appear to look like fat asses is truly slowing down the fast food process. I think I speak for us all when I say that if we have made the choice to eat at McDonald’s in the first place, we could care less about the onslaught of calories we are going to ingest as a result of our visit. Just give me my 10 pack of nuggets with one of those four new dipping sauces without notifying me in advance that I am eating over a quarter of the required daily calories and let me live in nugget bliss.

Hash Browns

4. $1 GETS YOU ONE HASH BROWN! Okay this one has bugged me ever since I first started getting McDonald’s breakfast after work. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought that Mickey-D’s hash browns used to be packaged in a two for $1 deal like those ultra delicious apple pies of theirs. When did some bright person get the idea to give us less for the same price? Argh! The plight of the breakfast enthusiast and hash brown connoisseur. The day McDonald’s returns the 2 for $1 hash brown deal will be the day I buy 4 for $2. Come on golden arches, you know you want that extra buck.

3. EMPLOYEES NO LONGER SPEAK ENGLISH! Okay, before I go into what may seem like a racial rant, I would like to inform you that this is nothing of the such. I love my United nations members. With that said, I hate how none of the current McDonald’s employees speak English as their first language. As much as I like puzzles (Side Note: I once took an art of Africa course where the professor spoke with a super strong German accent and if I recall correctly I didn’t do so well in that class. College Woes! Argh!) I do not like having to decipher what the person responsible for my food is saying to me. What happened to the days when you would get to the drive thru box and actually be able to communicate with the person on the other end? McDonald’s you must institute an English-speaking policy. I don’t like realizing my order is messed up once I get all the way down the road because rather than extra queso on my sandwich there is extra lechuga. Ay yay yay!

McGriddles

2. THE MCGRIDDLE! First of all let me start by saying that whoever thought it would be a good idea to put salty, greasy sausage between two fluffy, sweet, syrup filled pancake like pieces of bread is truly a sodium and glucose craving fat ass. As much as I like sweet and salty things, I cringe at the site and taste of a McGriddle. While it may be a big person’s fantasy, I just don’t see the beauty in it. I think it was created by “The Man” as a weapon to give us all high blood pressure and diabetes, better known as population control. But you didn’t hear that from me.

1. W-T-F IS THE MCDOUBLE? Double Cheeseburger= Yes! McDouble=WTF? Whose idea was it to give us half a slice of cheese between two beef patties, giving it an entirely new name and replacing the double cheeseburger with it? Probably the same money hungry mammoth who thought it was a great idea to charge $1 for one hash brown. Seriously McDonald’s just add the extra 1.5 pieces of cheese back to the McDouble, re-name it back to the Double Cheeseburger, stamp the dollar price tag back on it and good times will be had by all.

Snack – Insomnia Cookies

insomnia-cookies2Before my fiance and I embarked on our New York City Spring Break, I took the liberty of checking out the surrounding businesses of the Park79 Hotel and discovered that there was a cookie place right around the corner from there. After reading a lot of positive reviews, I knew we just had to get some cookies from Insomnia Cookies located on Amsterdam Avenue of the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Because we were so full from dinner the night before, we decided to grab some cookies on the day of our departure from NYC. So we left the hotel loaded down with bags in each hand and decided to get in line at Insomnia and see what the rave was all about.

insomnia-cookiesAs we waited in line behind a large group of kids (who should have been in school at the time), I looked at the overhead menu and tried to make a swift, decisive choice of cookie. After finding out they were all out of oatmeal raisin (my favorite cookie), I decided to go for chocolate chip which the cashier pulled fresh out of the oven below the cash register. That initial bite sent my taste-buds into a state of bliss that led to what can only be described as a chocolate supernova (no relation to Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova” by the way). The chocolate morsels literally melted in my mouth as we walked to the subway station. It’s ooey gooey goodness had my tongue begging for an ice cold glass of milk to wash it down. Lucky for me, the cookie was so chewy and soft it didn’t really require any additives for the experience. Insomnia Cookies made our exit from NYC a good one and made me wish they would expand to the DMV (DC, MD, & VA. area). But hey, at least I got to enjoy it while I was there. (Official website of Insomnia Cookies: Insomnia Cookies)

BreakfastManhattan Diner

The next morning we were on another mission to find somewhere to eat. As we walked around NYC we stumbled upon this place called Manhattan Diner. Initially I was a little apprehensive about eating there. Up to that point my experiences with diners hadn’t been a good one and I wasn’t too sure about chancing my dining experience on another run-of-the-mill “Diner.” But lucky for me, I decided to throw caution to the wind and eat there and had a great experience. The Manhattan Diner is located in a ritzy area of the Upper West Side of NYC. Just to give you an idea of how ritzy the area is, about one block down the street from the diner there are condo’s selling in excess of $1.5 million dollars. And now that I look back at it, I should have known a run-down diner would not have been able to stay in that area for eleven years if the food was less than amazing. So there we were, seated at this restaurant that has all the features of your basic diner. There are bar stools situated in front of a large wrap-around kitchen counter top in the main area of the restaurant, tiled walls,  tables for two and four guests and large windows for viewing the busy NYC streets.

After we are greeted by our server and given menus, we look through the extensive list of dishes that all look and sound great. I loved the wide variety of food options. I could get breakfast, lunch, or dinner and me being the omelet connoisseur  that I am, the sound of feta cheese, fresh spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms was too enticing to pass up. So I ordered what they refer to as the “Athenian Omelet” with a side of home fries. Now you have to trust me when I tell you, it was one of the best, if not thee best omelet I have ever had. It wasn’t overcooked or undercooked. The feta cheese melted well into the omelet and the mushrooms, tomatoes, and spinach gave me the flavorful, veggie filler that every healthy breakfast needs. The dish went well with the two slices of toast that accompanied it. I only finished one slice of the toast. I was so full and the orange juice on the side put me over the top from full to borderline stuffed.

Who would’ve known that on the corner of Broadway and 77th Street sat a gem of a diner. But, don’t get too overjoyed my fellow foodies. If you were to go to that same very spot today you won’t see the booming Manhattan Diner that I speak of in this post. Its land, like many parts of other major cities, was apparently bought up by a big developer and it is currently being converted into a large high rise. But, with that said, there is some good news for all of you diner lovers. Manhattan Diner did not go out of business. It still exists. They simply moved to 2532 Broadway between (94th & 95th street). So as a satisfied customer, I am advising you to experience the Manhattan Diner at least once in your lifetime. And whether you live within a mile, or a hundred miles of it, mark my words when I say, “the trip will be well worth it!”

Manhattan Diner Official Website: Manhattan Diner

My NYC Spring Break To Be Continued in Part 2.3: The Insomnia Cookie Experience