Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sullivan's Restaurant & Tavern

100 North Main Street  
Blackstone, VA 23824

            I know that Blackstone is not in the Tri-City area but the meal that I had there a couple of weeks ago was so good there was no way that I couldn’t do a post about it.

            Located on Main Street on the Second floor above a drug store, Sullivan’s Tavern has been serving up good food and good times since my dad was a boy. We were in Blackstone to see their Christmas parade and while the parade left a bit to be desired the meal was awesome. Practically hidden from the road and up a practically vertical flight of stairs Sullivan’s has the look and feel of an old time tavern, wooden everything and large bench seating at the tables. The place is not very big and the dining area probably can’t hold more than 30 people. Its menu is not very large and consists of sandwiches, burgers, BBQ and steaks. I ordered the prime rib sandwich and onion rings for $9.99.

            Because of a large group that came in right before us our food took FOREVER to come out but when it did all of my anguish quickly vanished.  Placed in front of me was a piece of prime rib that would cost at least $20.00 at any other steak house, on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and a side of au jus. Next to the sandwich and almost falling off the plate from lake of room were 5 huge onion rings.  Not only was the prime rib huge it was also incredibly delicious, perfectly cooked, so nice and bloody with just enough fat to make it flavorful.  Covered in au jus sauce that thing was awesome.  It melted in my mouth. The onion rings were also nothing that shake a stick out fried up nice and crispy with a soft and tender onion inside they were a perfect complement to the prime rib.

            To top it all off we ran into my dad’s best friend from grade school and went and had a few drinks in the tavern (a large room behind the restaurant). I would love to go into detail but I have been sworn to secrecy about the events that unfolded that night but needless to say I’ll never look at my dad the same way. Just playing.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo
635 Boulevard  
Colonial Heights, VA 23834

                I don’t really know much about Greek food and until just recently I really didn’t care for it but something clicked and I’ve really grown to enjoy it and not just hummus and Greek salads. 

                Amanda and I were looking for a place to eat one night after work  and being tired of the same old same old we decided to grab some Greek food at Venus d Milo right off of the Boulevard in Colonial Heights.  We walked and we literally were the only people in the place. Our waitress quickly greeted us and took our drink orders.  Amanda loves Melitzanosalata, a hummus like dip made with eggplant, so we started out with an order of that. It was very good with a much smoother and creamier consistency than hummus. As we munched on the dip and pita bread and browsed over the menus we realized that our waitress, while nice, did not know very much about Greek food and had to ask the chef for answers to the few questions we had.

                I decided on the Mixed Greek Plate which came with Mousaka, Pastichio, Dolmades, Spanikopita and a Greek salad for $12.95. Mousaka is a dish of layered ground beef, fried eggplant and potatoes topped with a creamy béchamel sauce. Pastichio is layered ground beef and greek noodles topped with a creamy béchamel sauce.  Dolmades are grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs.  Spanikopita is a spinach pie with a flakey crust.  I know that these things are sound weird but they were actually all extremely delicious and a whole lot for under $13.  The Mousaka and Pastichio were pretty similar and reminded me a lot of lasagna.  The Spanikopita was really out of this world with creamy spinach and cheese covered in a light and flakey crust it was probably my favorite thing on the plate.  The Dolmades were good but they’re not my favorite because they have a weird minty flavor that to me seems a little odd.  But over all this plate was freakin’ awesome, a lot of different flavors and textures that really gave a full experience of Greek cuisine.

                I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Venus de Milo. I think that it is a great restaurant, extremely clean and inviting and it serves some darn good Greek food for a great price. I wish that more people would go there because every time I eat there it is completely empty.   Please do yourself a favor, step out of your comfort zone, of burgers, pizza and fries and check out Venus de Milo; I guarantee that you will enjoy it.

Elephant Thai

The Crossings Center
5230 Oaklawn Boulevard
Hopewell, VA 23860
             When it comes to exotic food or heck even good food Hopewell is far from the first place to come to mind. But I recently went to a restaurant in Hopewell that fits into both of these categories, Elephant Thai in the Crossings Shopping Center.  It serves traditional Tai food and has a pretty wicked lunch buffet. 

Inside the place is really done up well and clean. It is very “themed” but is not really too gaudy.  It is decorated in the Taiwanese fashion which is a lot of red and gold and very intricate, not anything that you would expect in Hopewell.  The buffet area was not huge but it really packed in a lot of interesting Thai dishes of varying spiciness. Thai food is traditionally very spicy but also light and refreshing, so it is not for everyone.  I tried everything with the exception of a couple dishes that had three red peppers next to the name; I like to experiment but I’m no fool. 

Everything I had was actually very good and did not burn my tongue off. I cannot possibly begin to really explain the different dishes or their names but there was a great variety of Thai dishes as well as tradition Asian dishes that even the most cautious eater would enjoy.  The buffet cost under $8 and was a very good change of pace.  If you’re willing to try something different I would suggest checking out Elephant Thai in the Crossings Shopping Center.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sapori Ristorante Italiano

3513 Festival Park Plaza
Chester, VA 23831

             A couple of years ago the owners of Luca’s in Prince George sold Luca’s and started a new restaurant Sapori Ristorante Italiano in Chester.  While Luca’s is pretty good and serves time honored Italian fare, Sapori is a step above.

            Located in the Chester Village shopping area, Sapori is a large spacious restaurant with subdued décor and a very impressive menu. You can tell that it is trying to cater to a higher end clientele than when they ran Luca’s. While the still have the regular Italian dishes, they specialize in fancier, fresher and more exotic cuisine than your typical Italian restaurant.
            Wanted something light and simple, Amanda and I decided to split the La Vegetariana pizza. While not something that I would usually order, I was very pleasantly surprised with pizza. It came with fresh mushroom, red onion, roasted red peppers, sliced tomatoes, roasted garlic, and feta cheese and only cost $12.  Before our pizza came our waitress brought us a basket of freshly baked bread and a plate of olive oil and spices for dipping. While the olive oil concoction was not as good as what Amanda makes, it was pretty tasty and the piping hot rolls were awesome dipped in it.
It was not long before our pizza came out. This was not your run of the mill pizza that you will get at pizza hut of dominos. This thing was obviously handmade; the crust was freshly made and was nice and crispy. The cheese was perfectly melted and extremely flavorful.  The same went for the vegetables; all of them were fresh, not from a can, and perfectly cook.  The roasted garlic brought all of teh flavors together without being overpowering. Needless to say I was more than impressed.
            I highly recommend checking out Sapori. I know that there are a million Italian Restaurants but they are not all the same and I might have to say that Sapori is one of if not the best in the area. I will admit that the entrees are a little more expensive than other Italian places around but if they are anything like the pizza, I’m sure that they are well worth it.  So this Christmas Season take a break from your typical Italian restaurant and check out Sapori, but what out you might not want to ever go back to your old spot.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Huzzah BBQ Grill

113 Visitor Center Drive
Wiliamsburg, VA 23185

One would not expect to find any decent food in the Visitors Center of Colonial Williams, especially not a good BBQ restaurant.  Huzzah BBQ Grille may not be the greatest BBQ restaurant in the world but the food, sides and sauces were not half bad. Williamsburg is known for a lot of things but BBQ isn’t one of them, so I was happy to see a new BBQ joint try its hand in the Colonial Capitol.

Huzzah is literally in the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center complex, I don't mean Merchant's Square, I'm talking about the real tourist area where the buses go.  Admittedly, the place is built for tourists, everything about it screams fake and for show.  But with that being said, it was extremely clean, our waiter was extremely nice, and they even had some really good VA craft brews on tap.  The only thing that really threw me was that they brought out popcorn for us when we sat down. I felt that that was a little tacky.

I ordered ribs and my brother ordered beef brisket. Both came with corn bread and two sides. The corn bread was very good served with sweet butter. The cole slaw and succotash were actually pretty darn good. It was not very long before we received our food.  The meat was surprising smoky and honestly melted in my mouth, both the ribs and the brisket. The BBQ sauce on both was a thick, sweet tomato based sauce but they had 4 other types of sauces that were on the table, including a mustard style and vinegar based one.  The ribs were actually too tender to have been smoked; I actually ate half of a rib bone without knowing it.

Over all, although Huzzah BBQ Grille was a definitely tourist spot the food was not half bad and very reasonably priced.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Andy’s BBQ

5233 South Laburnum Avenue 
Richmond, VA 23231

            As you may or may not know there are 5 things that I am passionate about: My Fiancé, my dog, the Republican Party, clothes and BBQ. I try to check out and review every BBQ restaurant I can find; some have changed my life, some have almost turned me into a vegetarian but most are just plain ol’ delicious. Unfortunately, Andy’s is not one of them.

            Nestled in a crappy strip mall on Laburnum near the Airport Andy’s is one of those places that most people will never stop at. Inside the place is dimly lit and looks like your typical BBQ joint; walls covered in goofy signs and what not. We went on a Friday and they had a buffet going on but it was like $15 a person, your whole table had to get it and there was a minimum of four people. I’ve never heard of something so ridiculous in my life. After standing around for about 5 minutes until a rough German lady came from the back to bring us to our seat. We then waited for another 5 to 10 minutes waiting on someone to take our drink orders.

            We ordered chopped BBQ sandwiches for $3 each and an order of hushpiggies for $2.95.  We were planning on eating there but plans abruptly changed so we had to get them to go. Because we got them to go I could not use my buy one get one free coupon, even though nowhere on the coupon did it say that, but oh well.  I’ll never get the chance to use that coupon because I will never go back to Andy’s again. The chopped BBQ was more like mush than it was BBQ and the woman did not put any BBQ sauce in the bag or on the sandwiches, not that big of a deal because their standard sauce was NC vinegar style. 

            I was really banking on the hushpiggies to be its saving grace. They are hushpuppies filled with chopped BBQ and served with their rib BBQ sauce (a tangy tomato based sauce).  These things just sound awesome because hushpuppies are awesome and BBQ is usually awesome. But I guess sometimes two awesomes make something weird. This was one of those times. They were mushy, salty, and for some strange reason tasted like Chinese food. The sauce was not good enough to salvage the hushpiggies.

            Stay away from Andy’s BBQ travel and extra 10 minutes and go to Alamo, your taste buds with thank me. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hokkaibo Japanese Steak House

 4217 Crossings Blvd
Prince George, VA 23875

            A couple of months ago a new restaurant opened in the Crossings Shopping Center in Prince George. In an extremely ballsy move, Hokkaibo Japanese Steak House opened directly across from long time Japanese hibachi steakhouse, Kanpai.  Because of its location in the shopping center I really didn’t expect too much from Hokkaibo but stepping inside I was actually blown away. The place has been transformed into a very nice Japanese restaurant with Asian decor and beautiful wood walls.  It was extremely clean and welcoming.

Unlike Kanpai, Hokkaibo has an extensive sushi dishes and very reasonabll priced lunch and dinner entrees for times when you don’t feel like spending the time or money on a sit down hibachi “show”.  I believe that this is where Hokkaibo will make most of its money. Amanda and I decided to go with the bento box. For under $9 you get your choice of meat, sushi, fried rice, fried vegetables, soup and a salad.  What a deal. I chose teriyaki chicken with a tuna roll. 

As soon was we ordered we were brought our soup and salad. I’m not in love with miso soup but it was cold outside and it definitely warmed me up and it was actually pretty good for miso soup.  The salad, while simple, was very good mainly because of the delicious Japanese salad dressing on it.  Not long after we finished our soup and salad our bento boxes arrived. I had a good amount of chicken and rice, a couple fried vegetables and 2 pieces of sushi. I put the teriyaki chicken and mixed it up with the rice. The rice was very good, extremely fresh and flavorful. The chicken was cooked well but the teriyaki sauce was not my favorite in the world. I was not bad by any means it just did not have the flavor that other teriyaki sauces I’ve tried had.  Tempura fried vegetables are always delicious; there is nothing like a deep fried slice of sweet potato. The sushi was a little plain but I asked for some eel sauce and that really brought out the flavor.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hokkaibo. I don’t know how its hibachi compares to Kanpai, all I know is that their prices are very similar which means neither of them can hold a stick to Hibachi Ichiban in Chester (still one of the best restaurants I’ve reviewed).  I feel that where Hokkaibo shines is lunch. It is quick, decently priced and tasty.  It is very similar to Seol Fusion in Petersburg but it looks much cleaner and more inviting.

Friday, October 26, 2012

McDonald’s CBO (Cheddar, Bacon, Onion) Burger

                I really do not want to write this review because I hate saying anything good about McDonald’s but I have to give credit where credit is due. This burger is pretty freaking good. It is a 1/3lb. angus burger covered with a creamy mustard sauce, caramelized onions, hickory smoked bacon and white cheddar cheese. The flavors all meshed very well and it tasted like the old Hickory burger that I think was sold at Wendy’s.  The mustard sauce is delicious. The bacon really does have a smokiness to it that added a lot of flavor and surprisingly the onions really were caramelized and were sweet and delicious. The white cheddar was not amazing but the two slices, one on top one on the bottom were perfectly melted and made for cheesy goodness throughout. Honestly, I’ll probably not get it again only because it was almost $5 for just the burger and if I am going to McDonald’s I’m going to try to spend no more than $2.50.  But the burger really was delicious.

Wendy's Bacon Portabella Mushroom Melt

  I had a buy a burger and get free fries and a drink coupon so I decided to try it out on Wendy’s new Bacon Portabella Mushroom Melt. Typically, Wendy’s has a pretty decent Fast food burger because as you know they do not cut corners. It was extremely cheesy; I guess globs of cheese sauce does that. The mushrooms were not overly mushroomy or slimy like many you will typically find on a fast food burger. With that being said you could definitely tell that they were far from fresh.  The burger was hot and juicy and cheese cascaded with every bite. The bacon was hidden by all of the cheese and mushrooms. Overall this burger was pretty good but I don’t know if it was worth 4x the amount of a value menu burger, but I suggest you decide that for yourself.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Big Mike’s Burger Shoppe Too

3815 Jefferson Park Drive
Hopewell, VA 23860

                Big Mike’s Burger Shoppe on 460 must be doing pretty well because it has recently opened a new location Big Mike’s Burger Shoppe Too on the other side of Prince George. Located in the “cursed” location that formerly housed Mamasita’s Taco Shop, the Big Catch and Fish Fry to name a few many are hoping that Big Mike’s Too can break the “curse” and last for more than just a couple of months. It looks promising so far with the place being packed most weekdays at lunch. Last weekend Amanda and I decided to try it out last weekend.
                Inside the Original Big Mike’s and Big Mike’s Too could not be more different. While the original is dark, dank and had a very down home feel, Big Mike’s Too is bright, open and airy. If it didn’t have the same name and the exact same menu one would never guess that the two places are connected. Inside there are about a dozen or so tables with comfortable cushioned chairs and soft orange and teal walls. The place was exceptionally clean and well kept. 
Our waitress immediately met us at our table to fetch are drink orders. Since they only served bottled drinks and Amanda I and were both extremely thirsty we both ordered waters. Like I mentioned earlier the menu is the exact same as the Original Big Mike’s; burgers, Big burgers, Huge burgers and Monstrous Burgers along with the usual appetizers, a couple of chicken and fish dishes and assorted sandwiches. Everything sounded very appealing and I am sure is very good. Just like at the Original Big Mike’s I wish that they had creative burgers with different topping to go along with their huge burgers. If they offered a “Western” burger, a “South West” burger, ect. I don’t think that I could stay away. That is what will make Big Mike’s a game changer in the area because even though it is extremely cool I seriously doubt  very many if any people are interested in a $45.00 4Lb burger.
Since I was not very hungry and I had a burger when I visited Big Mike’s on 460 I opted for a hot dog with chili, cheese and slaw for $3.50. I know what kind of idiot get a hot dog at a place called Big Mike’s? Well this guy is that idiot but I’m the one laughing because that hot dog was out of this world.  It was thick and juicy and was covered in delicious chili and cheese and some of the best slaw that I have ever eaten.  Everything tasted homemade and was outstanding.  Sure I could’ve gotten a chili cheese dog for half the price at Valero or 7-11 but who knows what is in those hot dogs chili and if that orange stuff they serve is even really cheese. At Big Mike’s Burger Shoppe Too I knew that what I was eating was the real deal and tasted 10 times better then the junk they sell at a gas station (Timmy’s in Victoria, Virginia excluded).  To get a review of the burgers check out my review of the original Big Mike’s Burger Shoppe,
I was very impressed with Big Mike’s Burger Shoppe Too. Aesthetically it is much more appealing than its big brother and it serves the same great food. I do hope that they expand the topping choices in the future but even as it is Big Mike’s has the best locally owned burger place in the area and their hot dogs are damn good too.