Thursday, July 25, 2013

Crystal City VA: Legal Sea Foods

I discovered the Crystal City location of Legal on my last trip to the Beltway. I've enjoyed Legal for decades, starting in Boston, and I consider it a mainstay for seafood.

This is my grilled salmon. I usually don't eat the skin, but this skin was charred and delicious. The seaweed salad is wet and cool, making a great complement to the salmon in taste, texture, and temperature.

I treated myself to Legal's famous ice cream bon-bons. One of my friends one ate six plates of these puppies. Tonight, three was just right and the perfect way to top off the meal.

Legal Sea Foods on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mountain View CA: Hobee's

I haven't been in Hobee's for years but I have always enjoyed their breakfasts. Hobee's is a Penninsula mainstay and famous for their California-style breakfasts.

I went for the honey whole wheat pancakes and an egg on the side. My scrambled was wonderfully eggy---I don't know what they did but I really enjoyed it. The pancakes were good and comforting. I must admit that I thought the lacked a little zing, but they were still pretty good. Unfortunately, I couldn't make room for their famous blueberry coffee cake...

Hobee's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Berkeley CA: Chaat Cafe

I had lunch today at the Chaat Café on University Avenue. The restaurant seems tiny from the outside but is in fact deceptively large and airy. The chef works at the tandoori oven from behind a kitchen window. As seems to be commonplace in Berkeley, you order at the counter and then sit down. The service was very friendly.

This is my saag paneer dinner. As you can see, it was quite generous. The spinach in the paneer was soft and tender but not overly oily, unlike some paneers I've had. Likewise, the dal had some great spices in it, in contrast to the bland dals that one often finds. The vegetable mix was a mix of cauliflower and potato, all with a nice curry that gave good flavor without hiding the taste of the vegetables. I left very satisfied in both flavor and quantity.

Chaat Cafe on Urbanspoon

Berkeley CA: Pizza Moda

Alex and Patrick introduced me to Pizza Moda on University Ave. in Berkeley. The room is stylish and modern. Several huge Italian movie posters hang on the wall, highly appropriate to the menu, although Alex tells me that they are survivors from a previous restaurant at this location.

Alex and I went for the Calabrian chili pizza. The chili added just occasional touches of heat to contrast with the rest of the ingredients. The cheese was quite good. The crust was the right combination of crunchy and chewy, with a satisfying wheaty taste. Patrick went for a pasta dish that looked huge.

For dessert, I had the flourless chocolate tart. It was a good complement to the dinner, providing sweetness and bitterness of chocolate without too much sweetness. Alex had the fruit tart, which he made to disappear without complaint.

Pizza Moda on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 19, 2013

Nashville: Hog Heaven

When I figured out how close Hog Heaven is to Vanderbilt, it instantly became my dinner destination. It's on the edge of Centennial Park in a low-key location, right behind McDonald's. I ate at a picnic table underneath a shady roof.

The meat on my ribs came off the bone with the slightest touch of my lips---my breath was almost enough. It had a distinct but not overwhelming smoke note at the beginning, followed by the wonderful taste of pork. My black-eyed peas were great. The greens were tender and flavorful; I used the optional vinegar sauce which I really liked. Not many BBQ places make their own bread, so the cornbread cake was a special treat.

Hog Heaven on Urbanspoon

Bell Street Burritos

Dimitrios and I stopped by Bell Street Burritos for a quick dinner. We were both impressed. The atmosphere is simple but bright and cheery.

Despite the "Burritos" in the name, I decided to try the pork tacos. The meat was very nicely cooked, tender and just the right amount of juiciness. The corn tacos were soft and delicious---each taco was double-wrapped.

Bell Street Burritos on Urbanspoon

Bell Street Burritos

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Sotto Sotto

Dimitrios and I went to Sotto Sotto to discuss some research ideas. I had been there once before, but it's been awhile. The restaurant is very lively. Both of us noticed the many groups of women---it seems to be the go-to place for a girls' night out.

I forgot to snap a photo of the carpaccio. It was very delicate, just wisps of beef, but still flavorful.

I was interested in a change of pace, so I ordered the seafood risotto. It was spiked with all manner of seafood, ranging from a little tiny octopus to mussels and shrimp. The seafood was all perfectly cooked. The risotto was very creamy and rich.

This is Dimitrios's pasta. The shape is called "priest strangler." I've seen this shape before, but never knew the name. He reported that it tasted great despite the connotations.

Sotto Sotto on Urbanspoon

Sotto Sotto

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bantam and Biddy

Dimitrios served as my perfect excuse to try Bantam Biddy for breakfast. Their location is bright and sunny.

I had to try the chicken and waffles, a classic dish. I was a little disappointed to find chicken tenders on top---I had my heart set on bone-in chicken---but the crust was great and the chicken was tender. The waffle was excellent with a great buttermilk flavor. It was topped with a dollop of vanilla applesauce---the vanilla gives it an unexpected wow factor.

Dimitrios tried a full-bore Southern breakfast. He liked everything but raved about the bacon, which looked luscious.

Bantam & Biddy on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Montgomery County PA: Main Street Pizzeria and Grille

Before I moved to Atlanta, I was a regular at Main Street Pizzeria for awhile. I had a chance to revisit. The décor has been refreshed---very nice.

I forgot to snap a photo of my slice; let's just say I was hungry. It didn't disappoint. I have always considered Main Street to be a very reliable pizza in the neighborhood tradition. I also ordered their house salad for the first itme. It was very big and garnished with a good selection of sliced peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, and croutons.

Main Street Pizzeria & Grille on Urbanspoon

Hatboro PA: Hatboro Dish

My student Jason came to town to work on a paper. We started our deliberations at the Hatboro Dish. It's located on the main street of Hatboro, a typical, nice, sleepy Pennsylvania town. The restaurant's décor is fresh, new, and bright. Our service was spot on: attentive and nice.

I started with the blueberry pancakes, which I greatly enjoyed. The blueberries were fresh. The pancakes were fluffy with a nice eggy flavor.

I ordered a short stack so that I oculd also try the mom and pop potatoes. They were great: cheese, bacon, and green onions all mixed into little chunks of potato.

Jason opted for the South of the Border, which he reported to be very good. I forgot to ask how spicy his dish was.

Hatboro Dish on Urbanspoon

Princeton NJ: Camillo's Cafe

During my visit to Princeton, my friend, colleague, and culinary mentor Bede took me to Camillo's. It's located in the Stanford Shopping Center, which has over time become a center of restaurant activity in Princeton. The décor is upscale casual; the service was very pleasant.

I was in the mood for something different, so I tried the penne pesto with chicken. The pesto was a summer treat: basil, cheese, just a little pine nut. The pesto was al dente.

Camillos Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Duluth: Sun and Moon Cafe

A trip to Fry's is my usual excuse for a stop in Duluth's Koreaville. Fry's yielded a very useful cable. I celebrated with a trip to Sun and Moon Café. The interior is very heavily decorated. The menu has English translations but many of the signs stick to Korean.

This is my rice cake with spicy vegetables. It is very different from what I expected but interesting. The base of the dish is rice noodles in a thick, spicy and slightly sweet sauce. Some vegetables and tofu are mixed in, though not too many. The cylinders are rice starch. This was one heavy dish. The fish stock soup was a good way for me to cut through the noodles' sauce.

Sun and Moon Cafe on Urbanspoon