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