Thursday, July 9, 2015

Second time's the 'Charm'- Actually the first time was too!

Okay, so it isn't our "first time at the rodeo", or in this case, Marlborough Pizza on Rte 66 in Marlborough, CT. Just past the center of town. We 'fell upon it" when we'd wanted to take a drive and eat
1. some place new
2. someplace out of the way and
3. someplace different.

We started off on Rte 2 east and got to about Marlborough when we decided not to spend the day getting to someplace we weren't sure where we were heading to. Neither of us have a smart phone, so no googling in the car and we didn't look online at home. We were just plain hungry.

I hadn't written a review in a while, but thought I should. We'd had a really good grinder the last time (FULL of meat and so REASONABLE- $6.50 for 8"... yeah, that's right EIGHT INCHES!!! and I had had the Seafood stuffed sole for $16.95, but the stuffing was AMAZING!
Seafood Stuffed Sole-- Stuffed with homemade seafood stuffing (baby shrimp, Crab meat, ritz crackers and mozzarella cheese).  I brought half my dinner home the portions were HUGE! I enjoyed it TWICE, since I had it the next day) Okay, enough about the LAST time we were there.

Because the food was so good and was a great deal for your meal, I wanted a place to go to 'celebrate' us beginning our life as empty-nesters! We went after the 6:30pm news was over, so we probably got there at 7:20pm or so....pretty empty and nice and quiet.

My husband thought he'd get a grinder, so he could have half of it for tomorrow, but when we saw some of the meals on the menu, our thoughts turned to pure ... Aaahhh.

Since I'm losing weight and knew I wouldn't eat a lot, but I planned on taking some home, so the calories would be divided to a few days.
I really felt bad for one of the girls bringing my tea spilled the tray so it spilled over her hand, but 'thankfully (?)' it wasn't boiling hot (really girls, it SHOULD have been boiling in order to steep my teabag). She didn't get burned. For THAT, I'm glad she didn't have it hot. Our waitress, Amanda, was the best! She was so attentive without being 'in our face', and was super helpful, getting us just what we needed when we needed it, ... making suggestions, warning us of the portion sizes, LOL. Even her suggestion of the sausage soup made us decide to order a bowl to take home. I'll add that review on the end of this once we have it.

Bread was nice a fresh Italian bread with four 'packets' of butter. I almost had two pieces, then thought better of it. I remembered they served large portions. I brought it home.

We had an inkling of the portion size when we got the salad. It WAS pretty big! They bring the dressings on the side and you can have more if you need it. The salad itself was 'about average', mixed iceberg (maybe there was a little romaine and mixed greens, with a few grape tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots, red onions. I would have loved to have crumbled feta, or croutons, or something... but I liked it. I missed taking a photo of it before I ate it, but this was what I took home (I probably ate 2/3 of it)

I ordered the  "Baked Scrod Italiano -- Fresh baked boston scrod, topped with sliced tomatoes, spinach, fresh mozzarella, bread crumbs, in our lemon white wine and butter Sauce" ... and OHHH the butter sauce! I cut off a section that was probably 2" long and that was probably a quarter of it. It was tender and flavorful. Cooked just right. I had a baked potato (which I had 1/3 of) with butter and sour cream on the side (saved that for take home), and roasted spring veggies, carrots, squash, cauliflower, brocolli, (I only ate half of that). So I'm sure you see I planned on having it for two more meals... maybe? This is what I took home... (I decided after I'd cut into it, that maybe it's worthy of a blog post. Oh, yeah, it was)

(this is what I brought home....)

My hubby ordered  "Chicken Parmagiana--Breaded boneless chicken breast baked with our marinara sauce and Topped with mozzarella (with spaghetti)". It looked really good and as hard as he tried, he couldn't eat all of it either. Neither one of us could finish the meal. Amanda even asked if we wanted to take some of their cannoli's home (to which I said I don't really like cannoli's. She said she didn't either until she had these....) hmmm. maybe next time.

This is what he took home....

My only suggestion...Since you had three tvs going (muted), and nice music playing, you might want to think of putting closed caption on the tvs, so for those watching it, can see what they are saying. (It actually had an interesting show on about the Chicago cubs playing a game in which a fan, Steve Bartman, caught a ball that was still in play - well, the player on the field could have really caught it and it would have changed the game. Instead, Mr Bartman REALLY put a hurt on the team's mental play and eventually the hampered the results of the game. Would have been interesting to hear what they were saying about it). 

Can't wait to go again!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Carrabba's Italian Grill -on Purpose

When: Aug 10, 2013

Where: Near Buckland Cinemas, Manchester, CT

Circumstances: In the past, Carrabba's has been dined at, because we planned to go somewhere else and it was too long a wait. This time, however, we were invited to go 'wherever you'd like', by my mom. We CHOSE Carrabba's. Even if I've been there before, I try something different, especially if I plan to 'blog about it'. I also, usually CHOOSE to stay anonymous when I blog (although, can you if you're taking photos of the dinners?), But when the waiter, Peter, said we'd looked familiar, I'd told him my mom has never been there, but my husband and I have come twice before (and it slipped that I'd blogged about them before). I prefer to stay anonymous when I'm there as I get to see the 'real' service, but since I know this is a great restaurant with great food, I wasn't ready to leave because I'd blown my cover ahead of time.

We went at a really good time of day...4:45pm. A little early I know, but they open at 4pm and we thought, since they are right next to Buckland Cinemas, it may get busier closer to the movie times. It was perfect timing. Peter, our waiter, couldn't have been more helpful. He asked if he could 'go over the menu' (which we had him do since mom was a 'newbie'). While very thorough, he suggested some things that sounded great. Checked on us just the right amount of times without being intrusive. Even the new manager, Greg (from NH) came over to greet us. (I thought it may have been because my cover was blown, but I saw him talking to other tables. Whew!... Kudos to you, Greg. Nice touch.)

Okay, ... on to the dinners.

My husband easily chose one, his favorite of theirs, Pork Chops Marsala with garlic mashed potato. I tried some of his and it truly is divine! So moist and tender (and HE doesn't even like mushrooms and nothing was left on his plate, but the bones!)

All the dinners came with a choice of soup or salad, but I love a colorful salad and I remembered their's was a great combination of vegetables. I don't usually like onions in my salad, but I decided I'd try it... (I ate it all)
 I only have squeezed lemon as a dressing, but I decided to have their vinaigrette (on the side) to taste it. I was informed at a cooking lesson once, that your salad dressing should "kiss' the salad, not "make out with it", so I like tossing a kiss to mine. Seeing what was in their dressing, was great. You can even see the bits of garlic in it. It was yummy!

 They serve crushed herbs (rosemary, basil, etc) and swirl the oil over it for bread dipping. I thought their salad dressing was so good that I'd dip in that, too! I'm sure they used extra virgin olive oil, but I LOVE the properties of grapeseed oil. Much lighter and less of the 'bad stuff'. Just an aside.

There were some interesting dinner choices, as they have a Trio D'Italia, where you get three different categories with three meals in each one. You pick one from each category and I really wanted to try one as the price $15.50 was just about the price of my other choice. I was only concerned there might be TOO MUCH FOOD! (There was just the right amount).
These were my three...
Sirloin Marsala* Wood-grilled and topped with mushrooms, prosciutto
and their house made Lombardo Marsala wine sauce
Mezzaluna Half moon ravioli with chicken, ricotta, parmigiana-Reggiano
and spinach in their house made tomato cream sauce
Fettuccine Alfredo Fresh fettuccine tossed in house made
Alfredo sauce and Romano cheese

I didn't think about it until I cut into my steak, but no one asked how I wanted it cooked when it was ordered, and it came to me- perfect! The Marsala sauce has just the faintest hint of lemon, but a robust, smooth and savory flavor.

The ravioli was filled nicely with chicken and cheese, but just a hint of spinach. Was flavorful. The only complaint in the whole meal, was that I REALLY like my food hot. Not lukewarm... which is what I thought the fettuccine was. Not a lot of flavor in it either, and while it was 'warm-ish', I tend to eat the food on my plate that will cool off the fastest, first! That went first although I'd never order the fettuccine by itself in the future.

Mom chose this...Chicken Bryan, one of their most famous dishes. This signature dish consists of some of their favorite ingredients and grilling techniques passed down in the Carrabba family. This is a uniquely delicious combination of wood-grilled chicken topped with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and their hand-prepared basil lemon butter sauce (yummy). I tried this and although I was sceptical because of the goat cheese (never had it), it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious! I know my mom didn't care for the sun-dried tomatoes (as she pushed them to the side)-- actually she didn't remember that's what they were! LOL (Hey, she's 85 yrs old and started to forget things rather quickly).

 This was the unexpected 'nice touch' of the night. A complimentary dessert for the table.
Sogno Di Cioccolata “Chocolate Dream”, truly a chocolate lover’s dream. A rich fudge brownie topped with chocolate mousse, fresh whipped cream and homemade chocolate sauce. They make  the chocolate mousse and whipped cream in-house, which makes for an irresistibly fresh combination in this dreamy dessert. It was just the right touch for the end of the meal, perfectly split between the three of us. (No one really had room for dessert.....  .....yeah, right....

All in all, for a $64 check (plus $15 tip) for the three of us, it was a nice evening out for our family. Our compliments to the chef.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chez Ben

When: July 2013

Where: Center Street, Manchester, CT

This French Canadian diner is just down the street from us and we decided to try it for breakfast. We've been there before so it wasn't like it was new to us, but we decided to 'post' it this time.

Since it was so busy on this Sunday morning, we grabbed two seats at the counter. After a quick look at the menu, I knew I wanted to try the Almond Joy French toast (with some crisp bacon). After inspecting the french toast when it came, I think they must dip the toast in the egg wash, press it into the coconut, cook it, drizzle chocolate sauce over it, sprinkle it with chopped almonds, and a dollop of whipped cream....OMG!! This is IT!!! To die for. And the bacon with the right crispiness, too.

This is a gross photo of it, but I wanted you to see the coconut as it surrounded the bread. Just tasted devine!
Of course, my hubby had a Western Omelet (his usual) with homefries and hash. It was cooked PERFECTLY!
Good Job, Chez Ben!

The Tilted Kilt

When:Thurs, July 25, 2013

Where:  1151 Silas Deane Hwy
              Wethersfield, CT 6109
              860- 257-8458
Thursday wasn't a good day for my mom, who's 85 and me. My cousin had just died and although it was expected (he had ALS for 2 yrs), here we were, going to the wake. To avoid the highway traffic at 5pm during the week, we turned off I-91 and skirted down Silas Deane Cromwell. I passed a restaurant called The Tilted Kilt and, being of Scottish descent, I thought we'd hit it on the way home for dinner.

Okay, so here's the deal.
I hadn't planned on going here for those of you who know what was in store for us... I kind of had an idea that maybe it was gonna be that kind of pub, if you know what I mean, when I saw the scantily clad girls (IN KILTS, mind you) painted on the doors. And hey, it's a pub. Didn't think it would be so noisy, but ... that's a pub!

Our hostess/waitress came up and offered to seat us. Yes, she had on a plaid kilt. Very short. Complete with a sporron. Yes, it matched the top, kind of...The top was really a plaid bathing suit top with a white short sleeved top over it, but not buttoned. It was tied, in just the right way to have her cleavage showing (some were showing more than others). They had kilt hose with garter flashes  and scottish dancing shoes. Great uniform!  But I must say, the waitresses were very good. It made me think of a Scottish "Hooters"... My mom was a little surprised and giggled, but was polite when they came to take our order.

Okay.... now for the food. I was hoping to see more Scottish fare, but I did see fish and chips (which I ordered), and mom had a hot turkey club sandwich with sweet potato fries (very good). I only ordered it because I saw a bottle of Gourmet Malt Vinegar on the table. Can't have the chips without it!! I must say our waitress, Carrie AND our food was VERY good.
The cole slaw was 'ok', but not my favorite (I'm not sure I HAVE a favorite), and the fish was so flaky and tender. Done Excellently!

She even came and told us how nice it was to see some ladies in the establishment for a change. They get a few, but not many. She asked us if we knew it was gonna be "this kind of place", sweeping her hands across the short kilt. "No, not until we got to the doors, but we still came in"...

All and all, we had a nice dinner, except for the noise level. Hard to talk to each other, but hey,... they did have the Scottish flag up above us. Made me feel better.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sweet Frog - Manchester

Where: Sweet Frog
1500 Pleasant Valley road
Manchester, CT

When: This must be at least my 10th trip since they opened on Mother's day, 2013.

Okay, I must admit I call it Sweet FrogS (with an S), and it's wrong, but it's just me. I was first introduced to Sweet Frog on Facebook, by my family who went to another store in Tolland. THEY were the ones who said Manchester would soon have one coming and since it's closer, I'm in!

 I have to say I've never seen anyone in here without a smile, at least not once they have their cup of fabulousness! It's bright a cheery and 'fun' inside. FUN. That's the word. It's a place I'd love to work in. You make people happy with what you do. AND they donate back to the community, too! What more could you ask for?

 Tracy, the manager in Manchester, has always been so pleasant and helpful. If you've never been in and want to sample one of the 16 flavors, ask. They have those small paper cups (the kind you get ketchup and tartar sauce squirted into at the beach) that you can use to just release a dab and taste. Not your flavor? Try another. They really only want to see you happy. (How is that for a concept?)
This is one of their new flavors (which can change every week). Orange Burst and Strawberry lemonade. Push the lever on the left, get one flavor. Push the one on the right, get the other. Push the one in the get a TWIST of both! Yummy....

 Okay, so I have my choices...cocnut on the very bottom (you can't really see it), a twist of orange burst and strawberry lemonade, and a plop of mint and coffee (yeah, know... but that what makes it really unique! YOU get to choose the conbinations--or be a purist-- and figure out it your 'combo' works or doesn't). I must admit I may not do the mint again (I don't even like mint ice cream, so I'm not sure why I chose that one).

 Anyway, here are the toppings.... over 50 of them (actually, Manchester has 60). All are labeled on the spoons and, yes if you want to try one of the more unsual ones, ask (poppers were my test--they passed!)
 There are so many choices of fruit (think of it as healthy)....
 and the 'textured' section... crushed up candy bars, nuts, granolas. All the stuff that will add texture to ice cream.

 And then there is the 'sauce' area....and the sprinkles (for fun)
And what place that serves anything this cold and yummy doesn't have hot fudge and caramel? Oh, yeah.....Be careful, though. You pay by the ounce. Mine cost $5.47. But well worth it.
 I must say I don't add too much, no whipped cream.....but doesn't it look yummy????
It WAS! oh. And that card? It's called a loyalty card. When you purchase 10 cupfuls, you get one free. And yes, mine is almost ready for another free one (you can use it on the heaviest one, since you pay by the ounce). My SECOND loyalty card, mind you....

Oh, this place is heaven. Really.......

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Catsup & Mustard- Unintended Yumminess!!

Where: Catsup & Mustard, 623 Main St, Manchester, CT

When: July 2, 2013

The title of this post is, because we had intended to go have lunch at a new restaurant on Main St in Manchester, CT. (I'm not naming it, because it has nothing to do with this review), which was closed on Tuesday.

We've eaten at Catsup & Mustard before, but I really was looking for something new. I decided that Lee and I would try something new on the menu instead.

I love to look at what other people are eating, especially if it's just delivered to the table. I inquired about a few tables that we passed and two looked especially good!!

I had the C&W Burger Lettuce Wraps from the "Appies" menu. Four mini burgers (grilled to perfection!), served beautifully with four slices of tomato, four large lettuce leaves, crisp fried onion rings (thin!), shredded cheddar cheese and Whiskey steak sauce and blue cheese dressing ($9.75) on a large rectangle plate. We had side plates so we could 'share', I suppose (I used mine to 'build' my lettuce wrap on).

After tasting the whiskey sauce, which was a sweet, smokey deliciousness, I dabbed the slightest amount of the whiskey sauce on my creation and a small amount of blue cheese dressing. I had a hard time, after the first bite, not to slide into, ...heaven. I think it was heaven I entered...OMG! It was amazing!! I must admit it was also a tad messy (no bun, you see). Yes, I could have cut mine with a knife and eaten it with a fork, but sometimes you need to immerse yourself into the atmosphere, and isn't a wrap supposed to be picked up and eaten?


My 'date' (dear hubby) had the Chopped Brisket Cheese Waffle Fries ($8), also from the Appetizers list. I must say it looks like a heart attack on a plate. Although, pretty darn delicious! Waffle fries, topped with BBQ chopped brisket, covered in melted cheddar cheese, sprinkled with chopped scallions with a light drizzle of sour cream...Almost looked like dessert! The fries were crisp and delicious and the BBQ sauce that the brisket was luxuriating in, tasted like the Whiskey steak sauce that I had. So yummy! REALLY yummy! REALLY....

Neither one of us could finish what we had, which is a plus. For the price we paid, we had lunch and now have dinner for tonight (these are my leftovers). I must say I've never been disappointed in this pub. If I can say anything to the owner, Corey Wry.... don't change a thing! You've really got a treasure here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Farmer's Kitchen (Food Truck)

When: April 30, 2013
Where: 11601 John Tyler Memorial Hwy, Charles City, VA
This was purely by accident that we fell upon this little food truck. We had headed for Jamestown, via Surrey, VA, but then got distracted by a few plantations along the river. After being at Shirley Plantation (the oldest in VA), we headed to Jamestown again, but ventured via Rte 5. Knowing that we had to get something to eat (it was almost 2pm), and cruising down a road (to nowhere), we were pleasantly surprised to see a big BBQ sign by the road and see a lot of VA license plates in the turnoff (that's always a good sign when the locals are there).
You almost don't even notice it, but I've never been afraid to take a sudden turn for a new adventure.
 Of course, you have to have a good southern BBQ pulled pork or ribs when you venture south and us Northerners needed to taste the difference (actually, my other half was born in MD, so he's 'almost' a southerner).

We both got the pulled pork sandwich (WITH coleslaw, and it was nice to see they put in ON the sandwich, vs. along side of it). They gave you a choice of Original (vinegar), or Sweet-red (more of the northern BBQ sauce style-think Sweet Baby Ray's). We both took the vinegar, although now I wish we had had one of each so I could've told you the difference. Oh well. Next time.

 We'd had a pulled pork sandwich in Richmond the day before, so it was a real test of the two place (other place being Buzz & Neds).

The one thing I can tell you is,,,,this. is. the. best BBQ. I've EVER had in VA!! Now I know that may not be saying anything if you realize I've only had a few in VA, but this sandwich made you close your eyes for a moment to savour the flavor when you took that first bite.....mmmmm.

There was just enough 'juice' in it to start to roll down your thumb, but not sloppy enough to get to your elbows or squish out the other side and lose the stuff inside. oh. my .God! This was the BEST!!

And the nice thing for my other half, was HE got to have limeade! Now I'm not a limeade connoisseur, so my personal opinion was it was not as 'lime-y' as I expected it to be...I expected it to be much more tart. Good, but too sweet for me.

The place had a few tables and umbrellas for the sun out front by the road, and although it was an overcast, drizzley, dreary kind of day, we sat out and enjoyed the food. A lot!
 My only regret is that we live up north, and I didn't have room for a few other things on the menu.