Wednesday, December 14, 2016

With the Holidays around the corner, folks are looking for stocking stuffers, impressive small gifts, and making gift baskets. One of the common things you will find when it comes to that, is chocolates. There are a dazzling array of chocolatiers and small batch candy makers vying for your attention. One that I found in my local Wegmans was this brand, Chuao, and they have a lot of interesting flavors that you're not going to find everywhere.

This particular bar, is a milk chocolate bar that has cinnamon toast crunch style cereal in it. Much like the candy bars with the rice krispy bits in it, there is a delightful crunch with these, only it has a bit of sweetened cinnamon. I would think that it might be a slightly more bitter chocolate, but this bar is a good mix of milk and slightly more bitter dark chocolate. It is smooth at the beginning with a slightly stronger finish. With most chocolates, the cinnamon would be used so much more as a spice to add bite, but it's so different with the cereal pieces.

This is a nice little bar for someone who wants to be somewhat adventurous with their tastes but not step out there too far.

Rating: 3/5

Sunday, December 11, 2016

 Shopping in Safeway I saw a tidy little display of this Granola product in the front of the store in the area where I rarely shop unless I'm trying to find something they don't have on the shelf. I was drawn in by some Planter's nut mix but I was drawn to this nice and neat little pouch. There were three flavors I saw, Cookies and Dreams, Peanut Butter Graham Slam, and my choice, Jammin' Strawberry Shortbread.

So I decided on the Strawberry Shortbread flavor because it was different, yet not too out there where I thought I might not like the flavors. Also, I wasn't in the mood for the chocolate cream cookies and reading the package, it seemed as if these fit the bill and idea behind the brand. Looking at the idea of it being a softer granola that my daughter who is currently in braces might want to try also was a strong reason for me to try these. I gave her some but she didn't actually want to taste it, it was fine I almost devoured the entire thing by myself anyway.

Woats Granola is indeed, soft baked which I like. I'm a fan of soft baked cookies for instance and the problem I have with a lot of granola is that it is time consuming to

chew and it's hard and tiring. I was hopeful that this wouldn't be too chewy where it becomes work. It wasn't. This is some of the easiest granola to snack on, which could be to your detriment when looking at serving sizes, and possibly your bank account. There aren't too many of any one portion from what i tried, good balance of berries, granola, and yes shortbread pieces. The one thing I think it could use however, is a sprinkle of salt for contrast. The berries do provide bursts of flavor at times, but maybe there could be a few smaller pieces sprinkle in as well.

I feel like this is a specific product that not everyone will like because it is intentionally made soft. However for me that is the great appeal. It retains it's fresh taste and has a great consistency while not giving your jaw a work out. This is a product that I will be buying in the future I just enjoy it so much.

Rating: 5/5

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

If you don't know anything else from the things I post on this blog about what I like to eat, you would learn that I just love BBQ. The smoke, the charcoal, the beef, the sauce, all of it. Andy Nelson's is one of the most lauded places in the Baltimore area to get some Q. Always on the list, I finally had a reason to be in the area to stop in and get a taste of it.

So Andy Nelson's is a quaint place with an outdoor shed set up that was bustling in the nice fall air that existed in the morning, an indoor seating area near where you order, a drive through - which my daughter and I were impressed by, and a separate area for catering orders. It's obvious that it's a popular spot. The decor is quaint and southern roadside, not what you would expect to find in this area at all. In comparison Mission BBQ is a corporate version of that style while Urban BBQ is a hipster version of the same concept. This is the real deal. They sell their sauces and some other items inside and ordering was quick and easy. The staff was warm and the food came out quickly.

Now in order to provide a comparison between all of these places, I try to make sure I order the same or at least similar items. So today it was a brisket sandwich for me with greens and Macaroni and cheese. I also ordered a half pound of rib tips. my daughter had the pulled pork sandwich with macaroni and potato salad. I am glad I got some sauce on the side because it's not on the sandwich, nor given on the side unless you grab it.

For my food, the brisket on the sandwich was from the lean part of the brisket, which is the worst part to give-on it's own. I have come to believe that if you don't ask me which part I would like it from, you should be giving me a mixture of both because you need some fat for tenderness. The rib tips were pretty good. Some pieces were more tender than others, but it also felt like it wasn't quite as slow cooked or smoked. it was marinated well and the flavor was well infused, but it didn't have a rub or anything on it. I did dip it in some of the classic red Andy Nelson's sauce, which was fine. It wasn't overly sweet or overly tangy. It was a good balance of flavors.

The sides were only so-so to me. I was told the potato salad was a bit salty, I didn't try it myself unfortunately. The Greens that I had weren't bad. They were seasoned alright but some more salt might have been good. They pale in comparison to those from Urban BBQ though which are some of the best you can get from a restaurant period. The macaroni and cheese was realer than say Boston Market, but also when compared to the BBQ places in the area which are chains of some kind, it doesn't keep up. Mission BBQ and Urban are way better with more love and time spent on their Mac and Cheese sides.

Andy Nelson's may have been crowned by the local media and magazines but it doesn't make it for me. While the place itself is a character, the food lacks the same charm. it's a bit sparse and bare and when I see these kinds of accolades given to a place I expect the flavors to stand out a little more and be bolder and stronger. I can't give Andy Nelson's the same accolades as others, it's alright to me but I wouldn't rush out to try it again.

Rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, November 17, 2016

So Foundry Row is bustling and new shops are opening up every week. Searching for a bite to eat after a long day at work I figured something familiar yet good was in order so i rolled into Bagby Pizza Company, expecting to drop in order our normal pies and roll out. Lo and Behold I was surprised to see that apparently, Bagby is two different concepts under one umbrella, which could work but is definitely confusing.

So I normally get a bbq chicken pizza but as I ordered, i noticed that not only this version of the restaurant has pizzas, but also sandwiches and pasta. If that were the difference, that one is slightly larger and has an expanded menu I could understand it even if I thought it wasn't a good idea. However, there are also multiple pizza sizes, Small and Regular to choose from and if you look closely, some minor menu differences that could make a difference if you are really particular.

My wife and son are plain pizza types, so I got a pizza split with cheese and half with pineapples added. The crust is pretty good, I still think the other location seemed a bit better however. They also drop circles of mozzarella which is fine but when trying to eat the pizza and pull it apart, the cheese didn't separate on the slices like i felt that it should. The pineapple also wasn't actually cooked onto the pizza, just placed there afterwards which my wife wasn't feeling as much.

My daughter's BBQ chicken pizza was a little different but the chicken wasn't bad. It just seemed to be missing something. I ordered a Turkey and Bacon sandwich. I thought that it would be a warm sandwich for some reason but it's a cold sandwich on ciabatta bread. The turkey is good and the garlic aioli is superb. The bacon is salty and mixed with everything it is definitely good. I really like this, if it is a big more than I would expect in price. This is a decent addition to the menu.

The service was fine, the young men working were prepared and got the dining area cleaned quickly after customers left. The food came out fast as well. The one thing, I live maybe 5 minutes away and by the time I got into my door, the pizza was lukewarm. 

I don't pretend to be a restauranteur but I do think that there are a couple of issues with how Bagby is doing things. It's not really the food, because it is still solid, if not what I have expected and that's solely based on the operation. Because it is so close to the "Bagby Pizza" location there is bound to be confusion as to what is different and what is the same at each place. I can appreciate the addition of sandwiches and pasta, but the main draw is the pizza and they should be the same at both locations. At least the same recipes would be nice so there would be symmetry. I'm willing to give them more chances, and try some sandwiches but just the confusion I got was a bit unnerving.

Rating: 2.5/5

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

So I'm definitely looking at interesting companies who are innovating with Donuts these days because, why not? I mean Dunkin Donuts exists as do all of the local markets in the area. The quality is pretty much iffy all of the time and none of them are really noteworthy. I tried B Doughnut earlier this year and there are a couple more Baltimore area places I would like to try, but DC is bubbling with the things. One of the companies I was interested in trying at the Emporiyum was Duck Donuts.

Duck Donuts is a company that makes cake donuts sort of like The Fractured Prune. While they didn't bring a full set up, they do something similar with toppings and flavors. We got some to go, Vanilla, Cinnamon and sugar, chocolate frosted. The ingredients are definitely of good quality and pretty fresh, even two days later when I got around to the chocolate. The cake batter itself is just good, and when heated up the cinnamon and sugar was really good. They are worth checking out.

Now BooQoo Beignets was one of the first things we checked out. I will admit, I have always wanted to have some beignets and never have had the opportunity to find a place that has them. These were good, a cross between funnel cake and a doughnut with a layering of powdered sugar on the top. We ordered the Creole Vanilla Caramel as well. Now my wife was not a fan because the caramel has a hint of pepper to it, but I loved it. The little bit of of a kick that it gives is really good and interesting. With the beignets, it works very well.

I finished up with Eggloo, a waffle dessert shop that makes a bubbly waffle with ice cream, some condensed milk, fruity pebbles and pocky. The waffles themselves were good. The texture was chewy, soft, and had a good texture and bite to it. It didn't fall apart and had a nice moisture to it. The ice cream was good and taken with the waffle it was a nice dessert. While using the pocky to taste the ice cream, the chocolate gave a nice contrast to the strawberry ice cream we chose. Overall it was a nice treat, if a bit over valued, but at this kind of event it's fine at that price.

These three places were really good and a great example of the kind of things you can find at The Emporiyum. High quality ingredients and a nice twist on what you may be used to make it worth checking out. Also, I would look for one of these spots if I was in the area and recommend others go and check them out if they are looking for a new place and an excursion on a weekend. FYI you can also order the caramel sauces from the BooQoo Beignets website.

BooQoo Beignets  4/5
Duck Donuts 3.5/5
Eggloo 3.5/5

Sunday, November 13, 2016

If you're into food and the latest trends in what's hot, you probably have seen the original Ramen Burger, a beef patty with sauce and some greens between two patties made up of ramen noodles. Now like any successful fad, there are copycats and you can find them in a few more places as other chefs of course pick up on it and remake it. That's life, but as far as I know, there is no where near me that actually sells a similar burger unless you go to DC and catch the original Ramen burger at a pop up shop.

This weekend, at the Emporiyum in DC I had my opportunity and you cold tell it was a hot commodity. There was a nice long line for the Ramen burger, but it moved quickly as the process is well oiled by now. Grilled burgers and pre-made ramen buns are prepped assembly style for your consumption.

The bun is just regular ramen, but the thing is, it can be hard to eat because ramen isn't prone to sticking to anything. When you add in the generous slathering of a teriyaki/soy sauce combination that isn't too wild or far out there. It is actually much more tame than I was expecting honestly. The beef patty is just that. It wasn't the best one I have ever had and I guess I expected the entire thing to have some sort of new or slick innovation. I sort of imagine a Five guys patty being much better in it's place and adding a little depth to it.

Overall I can say that I have experienced the Ramen Burger. Was it worth it? Sure why not, you only live once. Would I run to go and find one now if they were popping up again? I doubt it. It just didn't taste that good in order to justify it for me. It's an interesting thing to do but it wasn't wowing in the way I expected. Some of that is my own fault for build-up for sure, but at the end of the day it was just a decent burger...on ramen noodles.

Rating: 2.5/5

The second Emporiyum festival/event was held this past weekend at the Union Kitchen in DC. Once again, it was a definite showcase for some local restauranteurs, artisans, and food creatives to display their independent brands and build awareness. The first Emporiyum was really eye opening with the array of vendors that were there building new interesting food businesses.

The location of the DC Emporiyum was really tight and compared to the Baltimore event was severely lacking in parking space. I get it, all areas are not built the same and hopefully for Union Kitchen, some of the new construction going on in the area will have some parking but it doesn't seem that way. Maybe a normal weekend isn't that bad but for us, it was a bit of an issue, although we did get lucky and find a 'spot' there was a fear of getting towed possibly. The signage in the area was definitely confusing.

Inside the event, the first area which was outside in a tent was a bit condensed, with tables for sitting and eating at either end but crammed together. The crowd I would say wasn't as overwhelming, but I will say that the crowd itself was one where people either were not aware of their surroundings or didn't care. Being bumped into or crossed in front of rudely was the norm, now it's not the fault of the Emporiyum and it's organizers itself but it's worth noting it took away from the experience
a bit.

The selection of vendors wasn't bad, there were several I was looking forward to seeing such as Ramen Burger and Jeni's Ice Cream. I also was glad to get to try out Prescription Chicken, Bushwick Kitchen, and an official slice of the infamous "crack pie" from Momofuku Milk Bar. I also ended up being surprised by the Crab roll from Luke's Lobster which was smaller than I expected, but damn good and tasty. It was so good my wife went back for a second helping.

I have a lot of people who say I should have let them know about it and next time I will put out the APB before I get my tickets. The Emporiyum events have been great to attend even though this second one wasn't as exciting as the first, and maybe it was the drive and parking situation, or the fact it wasn't brand new anymore, but I still had a good time and will be going to the next one to see what gems can be unearthed.

My next post will be more specific about some of the food that I tried, but the small bites I had from Route 11 chips - I will be looking for them in stores locally. They had a great crunch and good flavor to the varieties that I tried. Bushwick kitchen has a unique set of honey and syrups that they make. The honey is exceptionally fresh and has subtle hints of flavor in it. I'm looking to order some of their items to try them out further. They would probably be great on some wings.

Be sure to check out the Emporiyum page for their next event.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

One of the things I am working on is eating better and when snacking, incorporating more whole grains and protein. Cookies are one of the areas where a lot of companies feel they can slide in some extra nutrition along with the goodies that we crave. Why not, just a few small ingredient changes and you can have something that is a treat and is good for you at the same time.

So I was in the store and I decided to give these Chocolatey Chip Cookie Bites flavor of Granola Bundles from Revolution Foods.  It seemed like it had potential, I like soft baked items and it has no artificial flavors, 17g of whole grains and it says it has the natural ingredients that will help provide your body with energy over a long day when used as a snack. Now I don't consider this a red bull or coffee replacement, bust something to supplement the potential hunger pains in the afternoon.

First thing is these cookies are pretty small. I know a normal chips ahoy type cookie isn't very large but these were a little surprising, considering the size of the box. I felt like it would be a little more substantial. Now it is a soft cookie, but also as the name states a granola bar as well. It does have that distinct taste that these type of products have, and it's a 'lack of artificial ingredients' taste. It's not bad, but it does take getting used to if you aren't someone who regularly eats this type of product. The chocolate drizzle on the top is good tasting but at the end of the day, the cookie is the main thing and we have to get used to it to enjoy these.

Of all of the organic, "clean" new products that combine both health and a treat, this one isn't bad. The taste at the beginning takes a little bit of getting used to but almost immediately, the other flavors bring it sort of out of the healthy realm. The other positive is that though small, the two cookies do provide a decent amount of protein and benefits to be a good snack for even adults along with their lunch. Kids would benefit from these immensely with their smaller stomachs, as long as you get them to actually eat them.

Rating: 2.5/5

So I am late to the Keurig thing. It was laziness and a lack of counter space coupled with this feeling I wasn't getting full value from buying the pods. I was given a machine and I am sort of converted because in general you can get a cup of coffee for under a buck which I guess is good if you are used to buying Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks a couple of times a day and spending at least 2 bucks a cup you are getting some value out of it. What has gotten me extra interested is the wide variety of specialty flavors. Today I want to talk about two of the more interesting ones I saw that grabbed my eye recently by the Donut Shop, Boston Cream Donut and Vanilla Cream Puff.

When it comes to coffee, I tend to like bold varieties, typically medium, but I can enjoy the dark roasts as well. Both of these are advertised as medium roasts and I'm no expert, but they really didn't seem the same as some of the other roasts I have tried from say Peet's Coffee (which I will be reviewing as well). The Vanilla Cream I expected to be a little bit light for the flavors to come through and it wasn't the boldest roast. The thing is with both of these kinds of coffee is the flavoring to make them really reflect the labels is off. The artificial flavoring is indeed a bit off-putting. Especially with this variety.

The Boston Cream Donut is a bit better than the Cream Puff if only because the chocolate and cream filling that exists in a donut allow a couple of extra layers in the cup. I really could taste the chocolate and cream flavors but the fact that both of them were there probably doubled up on the effect of artificialness and made the coffee difficult to drink. I get it, these flavors are more difficult to create naturally but they could do something possibly with one or more of the elements to make it blend together a little better. Maybe using a more natural ingredient for the chocolate flavoring would make it better.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend either of these coffee flavors. Even if you like something that is a little bit different and fun, these kinds of coffee don't really fit the bill. It's a decent idea but the execution needs work.

Rating: 1.5/5

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It seems a little bit odd with some of the trends in yogurt that a company would advertise happily that they are using whole milk in their yogurt products. It wouldn't seem to be as healthy and marketable in today's climate, however, maybe they are going with the idea of what is natural and maybe not the lowest in calories but what can be pronounced.

To see if that is really an edge, I compared the Dannon to my normal Yoplait and the Dannon is thicker and creamier. It kind of reminds me of a slight step to the Greek yogurt style that has become popular and maybe that is one of the things that Dannon was thinking. Looking at their new campaign, that is what the idea is, to go back to the idea of natural. The flavor is fine, I can say that one of the reasons I eat Yoplait in general is that I wasn't a fan of Dannon's flavor and texture. This does resolve some of those concerns.

It's never going to be a great change in my opinion. It's mass processed yogurt. What do you expect? However I can say this new whole milk Dannon is now more of an option for me when doing my shopping and that has to be a plus for them.

Rating: 3/5

I have stuff just sitting around to post and this one is a place that has such a legend behind it at this point, and a great chef backing that it might be somewhat controversial at the end. Shake Shack is a public company now, with huge fanfare and a very strategic growth plan. While the fast casual upscale burger business is booming, no one has the reputation that the Shack has at this point. So during Baltimore Comic con weekend, the family made a trip to the Baltimore Inner Harbor location to see what the hype was about.

There is no shortage of burger spots in the area and a new one Smashburger is opening soon around the corner from my home and there is a heavy presence of Five Guys. Being that one of the big things that was being hailed was the chicken sandwich, I decided to go with that and step outside of the burger box to see what some are comparing to the infamous Chick-fil-a sandwich in a favorable manner. My wife went with the grilled hot dog smothered in cheese, while the kids both had the shack burgers with sauce on the side.

The chicken sandwich was good, but it didn't break any ground. I wouldn't wait in line for it if there was a chick-fil-a close by is what I'm saying. It has shredded lettuce and Buttermilk herb mayo which was cool to me. It just wasn't crazy good. I had a lemonade to drink which was excellent however.

The kids were less than impressed with their burgers, although my son did tell me that it was better once the shack sauce was on the burger, which he tried after tasting it without. They also had milkshakes which just felt like Mcdonalds to my taste buds. My daughter openly said she preferred the Five Guys burgers. My wife said the hot dog was as expected.

Overall, I was not terribly impressed, given all of the hype surrounding the chain. It wasn't bad but it didn't make me want to rush back when there are other versions of this concept that taste better and are more affordable.

Rating: 2.5/5

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I love Barbecue and it was suggested that I try this place out which is in the business center in Woodlawn between Security Boulevard and Liberty Road. It is a breakfast and lunch place, set up to be able to accommodate the local area business center employees and the federal employees located not too far away. The first thing about this place is that it is hidden away in the cut in a nondescript building. Even once entering the building itself, it's easy to get thrown off because you walk into a lobby and the eatery is off to the side. It is jarring.

The decor is nice and friendly but the space seems to have been an old cafeteria the way you are herded around. The new thing is chalkboards and I don't have a problem with it. I'm not a breakfast guy although Gebs does sell breakfast food all the hours they are opened, I went to try some Q! There was also an odd smell like the mop water wasn't fresh.

I ordered a brisket sandwich and fries and my daughter had a grilled chicken sandwich. The food didn't take long to come out and the staff was friendly. For my daughter's sandwich, she said the chicken was a little dry however the sauce on it was really good and made up for it. The fries smelled great the entire ride home and they weren't overly seasoned but not exactly what I was expecting when I finally got a chance to check them out and taste them.

My brisket sandwich had potential but ultimately didn't deliver. The roll was classic and tasty. The barbecue sauce is pretty good as well, no complaints with it and it was the best part of the meal. The brisket, while it had flavor, was too tough for my liking. When I get brisket it should come apart easily not fight me and that was a real downer.

Geb's seems like it could be a good place to eat but I wasn't feeling it. Maybe it was a bad day, and maybe as some reviews say, it is better for breakfast than the barbecue. I wanted to really enjoy it but I felt let down by the brisket.

Rating: 2/5

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sides can make or break a meal and when you're making a quick meal, fries often become the default from someone like Ore-Ida. I've never been one to try frozen mashed potatoes but in the past I have tried and tossed out the refrigerated ones because they didn't taste right. So when I saw these guys, I thought that they might have potential to be a different kind of snack/ side dish for sloppy joes or cheese steaks.

I chose to get the original butter flavor to eat with our meal. The directions are simple, toss on a baking sheet in the oven for the appointed time, flip in the middle and voila. The bites were smaller than I thought. I honestly expected something larger, more akin to the smiles that Ore Ida makes. These were more like the size of a dime. As they cooked they got crispy but just didn't look appealing at all.

The taste wasn't there for me either. I think the fake butter flavor disturbed it the most, but along with the size being so small, I didn't get the fluffiness that normally comes with mashed potatoes and was pretty disappointed with the flavor and texture. Ore-Ida normally comes through with products but these were a huge disappointment.

Rating: 1.5/5

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The world kitchen that is Noodles and Company is good for some decent variety in the fast casual segment, especially when you're tired of the average burger, salad from panera, or Tex-Mex, all of which are huge players in the game. Since Ramen bowls have picked up steam elsewhere so it makes sense that a chain which is natural picked up on the trend.

The Spicy Korean Beef Noodle Bowl even has it's own suggested "pairings" from Coca-Cola while you sit and wait if you get a drink using the freestyle machine. Maybe my bowl was a little skimpy, but it didn't seem to be as much as the normal Noodles serving. The noodles were good and the sauce was excellent with a good balance of sweetness and spice. I could have used way more noodles personally because the sauce is so good with the noodles.

The beef was less memorable and it is interesting because I would think they are using the same beef with the japanese pan noodles as with this dish but maybe it isn't. The beef here wasn't as tender as I am used to getting from noodles and company and didn't hold onto the flavor as well. The vegetable were cooked perfectly so no problems there.

For me I have a fondness for Noodles and Company and I definitely see where this new dish can be a big winner for them. I'm not sure if it was this time and this location, but there was a little bit lacking for me although the potential is there for this to be a home run all of the time. The sauce was out of this world and I could use more of it with the noodles.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, July 3, 2016

So I know I've been gone for a minute but work. But I did manage to get something new squeezed in courtesy of my wife who made us reservations at a restaurant I wanted to try called the Iron Rooster. Some of you between Baltimore and Annapolis probably have an idea and may have heard of it as they have been making a name through some nice new food selections and a great social media presence. Their instagram page looks great! So anyway, we made it on a nice Saturday afternoon to the Baltimore location which I guess is technically in Brewer's Hill.

The atmosphere, is something out of a food network set to me. The location is bright and airy with a new "modern country" style to it. White washed wood, pale but bright colors, designed to look slightly worn. For instance, they serve water out of a large 'canning' jar at the table. The booth we sat in was absolutely huge.

We absolutely went in part because at The Emporiyum my wife and I had candied bacon, which we thought was a regular menu item but it was actually something that they did special. We ordered the Orange Marmalade BBQ pork belly that was on the menu and it wasn't bad, but it wasn't the candied bacon either. The sauce that was on it had a nice flavor, though the bacon itself was more fatty than I tend to like but my son destroyed it. Now let's talk about the service here because it's important. After getting into our entrees my wife was still wishing she could have the candied bacon. Our server asked his manager about it who came over to our table, explained that it was a special thing they did, but then said he would get the chef on duty to try and make us some with no charge just because it was apparent we had been really looking forward to it. We got the bacon a few minutes later and I definitely think that that is the kind of above and beyond service that has to be highlighted.

Now to our meal, I ended up getting the chicken and waffles, my son, a short stack of pancakes, my daughter, the cakes on cakes, and my wife got the french toast. Now cakes on cakes has crab cakes set on top of fried green tomatoes and cornmeal pancakes with asparagus and a chipotle hollandaise. I tasted her crab cakes and they were very fresh, it is three small cakes but they have little binder or filler. I don't eat tomatoes so I can't tell you about those, but the cornmeal cake was fine. The french toast that my wife had was good on it's own and it wasn't too soggy or dry. It had a good bite to it and was cooked just right. She ordered strawberries on the side but didn't really think they were needed.

Now I didn't think the pancakes were great, but they weren't bad either. They just were...pancakes. However, the Bourbon Brown Butter that they served with the pancakes and french toast was superb. It had the right amount of flavor and richness. It was almost like it could be used for ice cream or as a dessert itself. I had the chicken and waffles, and while it's not a large breast piece of chicken it is served well by it's size. The chicken was very flavorful and moist at the same time, it was the perfect size. It was just damn good. It also came with white gravy which I felt needed a little bit more salt and probably should have had on the chicken instead of on the side where it cooled really fast. it was a tad under seasoned for my tastes but it wasn't far off. The home fries are different because they are shaved more than anything else and they were nice and crispy. Some folks might have found them a little bit over but I like mine just in that way so I enjoyed them.

We had the nerve to get dessert, with us sharing the red velvet waffle ice cream sandwich. The waffle was nice, warm, not too thick and paired well with the ice cream and chocolate chips, although they were kind of large. We also had a drunken apple which is an apple baked in Cabernet syrup with ice cream and cinnamon-sugar biscuit waffle. Both desserts were large enough to share and the waffles done to perfection.

Overall this was a good trip. I would try the iron rooster again, although they have a somewhat simple menu there are a couple of other things that I personally will want to try including the waffle burger. The prices were reasonable for what we ordered and it was fulfilling. I do feel like there could be a little more in terms of salt and pepper with some of the food but it's a minor quibble. Extra points just based off of the manager and staff and taking care of us. The atmosphere was nice and the place is spacious. I try not to get people too excited over food places because expectations can ruin an experience but I would say if you want a nice brunch the Iron rooster is worth a visit and I could see it being worth the try for the evening hours as well, even if you're not a breakfast fan like the other members of my family. I saw a pot pie that looked great too. (edit-my wife made me update my ratings)

Service: 5/5
Food: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Monday, June 13, 2016


The latest in limited edition flavor innovation from the Keebler Elf comes in the form of their Fudge Stripe cookies with another decidedly non-fudge flavor. They have done the Red Velvet flavor which was alright but not the greatest and now they bring us a new flavor in the form of Birthday Cake.

The cookie itself is pretty much a plain vanilla cookie with sprinkles in it. It is covered with white icing and I didn't taste anything that was fudge or fudgy about it, just as an fyi. It is vanilla icing and it's fine, but nothing spectacular. Mainly, these cookies will sell based on the trend of having birthday cake and sprinkles. The cookie does have a slightly different taste but it is kind of one note. Fudge stripes work because the chocolate and shortbread go up against, yet compliment one another. It's hard to replicate with some of the other flavors they have rolled out. These have a slight aftertaste to them but it isn't anything major. Opinions differed a bit here, my daughter made a face and thought that the taste was strong after. I noticed it, but didn't think that it was major. My mother said they taste great. so there is that to consider. Are they worth a try, yes. Will they blow your mind, I'm not so sure about that.

Rating: 3/5

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Kelloggs and their Pop Tarts brand is trying really hard to keep expanding the brand and gain an extra sale here or there. They have a really aggressive flavor program to bring something unique out regularly to your breakfast or snack time. For this week we tried a couple of varieties, Pink Lemonade, A&W Root Beer, and Orange Crush Creamsicle.

I don't drink root beer so it wasn't the one for me to try but we are always a little skeptical when companies try to incorporate soda flavors into other items. It never seems to come out right because I just think a soda mix is a delicate balance that you can't always put into to something else.

The Pink Lemonade isn't bad. It does take some getting used to however. It's not as citrus as lemonade can be or lemony, it's a good balance, but mainly a little bit on the sweet side. Now my favorite way to eat a pop tart is straight out of the pack these are alright, but a warmed up one has a bit mellower and more unified flavor than room temperature. It kind of seems odd for a summery flavor.

The Orange Crush was not one that my son cared for. He ate the first one but then set it down. Now I tried them and they aren't bad at all. The orange flavor isn't bad although it is quite strong when uncooked. The sweetness can be overpowering, for a pop tart that's saying something but the Orange isn't the normal artificial taste that you get (that's not to say that it's natural) so it's edible. It's just an odd sort of flavor to me overall.

My family seemed to think that the Root Beer tastes decent, but my daughter wasn't fond of the after taste. Both said that it tastes just like concentrated soda syrup.

There are a lot of flavors you could try in a pastry like pop tarts. I never would have picked these three myself, but they all work somewhat. Each of them has a decent flavor but they don't seem natural for Pop Tarts. Even just having one pack I don't see us really eating them. If you have a family or friends with young children over you could get a box and use them as a treat over the weekend and that might be the best idea and use for these. Crack them out while you wait for the food to come off of the grill and enjoy.

Rating: 2.5/5