Monday, April 23, 2012

Burger King Frappes and Smoothies

A couple of weeks ago I received a packet of coupons from Burger King in the mail. It included a coupon for one free small frappe and one free small Real Fruit Smoothie. Before work one morning I stopped by Burger King and used my free frappe coupon.  I had a choice of caramel or mocha; I chose caramel.  It was slightly frozen but smooth enough to flow easily through my straw. It honestly looked a lot like the commercials covered in whipped cream and drizzled with caramel.  The frappe tasted awesome extremely caramelly with just the faintest hint of coffee. By the time I reached my bottom my straw was barely usable because it had become so clogged with caramel.  While the frappe was really delicious I doubt that I will be ordering it anytime soon because $2.29 for a small is a little pricey for me.
                At lunch the next day I decided to try out one of the new Real Fruit Smoothies. After my great experience with the frappe I figured that it was going to be awesome.  There is a strawberry banana smoothie and a tropical mango one. I chose the tropical mango. While it had a good mango flavor it did not have the smooth texture and consistency that I was hoping for. The small shards of ice throughout took awhile from the overall experience. My co-worker liked that it was more icy than creamy. Again the drink was on a little expensive and if I do splurge on a smoothie I will get one that is more creamy than icy. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Rosa’s Italian Restaurant

4098 Oaklawn Boulevard  Hopewell, VA 23860
(804) 458-8744

           Last week I went out to dinner with Amanda and her family to celebrate her Grandmother’s 79th birthday at Rosa’s Italian Restaurant in Hopewell.  I had wanted to review Rosa’s for quite a while and this afforded me the opportunity to do so. Even though it is in Hopewell, Rosa’s has always been one of the nicer Italian restaurants in the area and the only one that serves breakfast.  In the past I remember the food being quite good. So I went in with extremely high hopes.
                Inside Rosa’s is decorated nicely. Of course it has an Italian theme; but it is not nearly as tacky as Pino’s nor is it as dark and dreary as Leone’s.  It is bright and colorful and has a pretty nice layout.  Amanda and I were a little late so as soon as we sat down we had to pour through the menu. While the décor was better than most other Italian places its menu was not.  The menu was dominated by pizza, which If I had wanted pizza would have been awesome. There were many different types and styles with any different assortment of topping you could ask for. They were not as unusual or as artistic as Dante’s but they sounded good. That was the highlight of the menu. The rest of it contained the usual pastas and subs and for some reason a large amount of non-Italian entrees.  I was in the mood for a savory unique pasta dish. There was none to be found on the menu. They had pasta but it was your typical spaghetti and meatballs type stuff. The subs and the rest of the menu was also pretty typical Italian fare. There was not even a seafood alfredo dish on the menu. I was so turned off by the menu selections I ended up ordering the appetizer sampler as my meal; not the best idea.
                It took a while for our food to be prepared which was no problem because it gave us plenty of time to converse. After about 15 or 20 minutes our food was served. My plate contained, chicken wings, fried zucchini, fried cheese balls and jalapeño poppers. Everything except for the chicken wings was fried. It all tasted good, not amazing but good. The only exceptions were the cheese balls and the fried zucchini.  The cheese balls were tiny and were a lot more fried dough then cheese and the cheese that was there was weird tasting cheddar. The fried zucchini on the other hand was very good. The outside was crispy and crunchy and the inside and soft and tender. 
                Overall, Rosa’s is neither extremely great no it is bad. If you’re in the mood for Italian style pizza, not what you find at Pizza Hut or Papa John’s, this is the place to go. But if you are looking for something out of the ordinary I would try elsewhere.  I  am not dying to go back to Rosa’s anytime soon but I will not be upset if I do; but next time I will skip the sampler and stick with the pizza.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Hawk's BBQ Extreme

10449 Midlothian Tpke
N Chesterfield, VA 23235

 As you may know, I LOVE BBQ! It is by far my favorite food. When done right, it is like a slice of heaven in your mouth and when done wrong, it is still better than any salad. I have made it my mission to eat at every BBQ restaurant in the Richmond/Central Virginia area. My latest BBQ experience was at Hawk’s BBQ on Midlothian Turnpike. It is a tiny little hole in the wall shoved in the corner of a non-descript strip mall off of Midlothian Turnpike. It is almost impossible to find; even while actively searching for I had a hard time finding it.

Pulling into the parking lot, the Hawk’s BBQ looked quite sketchy. The outside windows were covered in airbrushed paintings which only added to its trashiness. The inside matched the outside with a lot of airbrushed paintings on the walls and on the large menu hanging above the counter. It looked like a Mexican gang hangout.  While the place called itself a BBQ restaurant they were barely any BBQ on the menu, only a BBQ sandwich and a BBQ platter. The rest of the menu consisted of mainly fried fish and a few other southern foods.  On the walls hung pictures and newspaper clippings, including an obituary, of Mr. Hawk, the gentleman who founded Hawk’s BBQ. From the pictures and the clippings I got the feeling that the Hawk’s name had slid downhill since his death.

Feeling cheap and extremely unappetized, I ordered the BBQ sandwich which cost over $4. Within a minute I received my sandwich. I small little thing on a soggy bun already soaked in BBQ sauce and covered with cole slaw. The sandwich tasted like it could have come from a Lloyd’s BBQ container bought at Food Lion. It did not contain a single note of the smokiness or home cooked “love” mentioned in the paper clippings.  The cole slaw was extremely sweet, finely chopped and watery.  It was as generic as a BBQ sandwich can be. I really hate to be mean but it was by far the worst BBQ I’ve had on my many excursions. It was edible; but that’s the best thing I can say about it. 

Needless to say, I will not be going back to Hawk’s BBQ. The restaurant is a little on the trashy side and the food, well the BBQ at least, is lackluster and devoid of any slow cooked smokiness that I love in good BBQ.  I will drive the extra mile down Midlothian Turnpike and eat at Famous Dave’s.  Heck, I’ll even drive down the road and buy some BBQ at Food Lion before I eat at Hawk’s again.

Bamboo Garden

4002 Prince George Dr
Prince George, VA 23875
                The other day Amanda and I wanted something quick and easy for dinner; so we decided to just run across the street and order Chinese from Bamboo Garden.  In my opinion, most Chinese restaurants are identical. They usually have the same atmosphere and décor, offer the same food, and sell it for close to the same price. Bamboo Garden followed this same structure. While it can get a little boring with all Chinese restaurants being the exact same, it is nice knowing what you’re getting no matter what Chinese place you’re at especially when the workers speak broken English at best. 
                Inside Bamboo Garden there was only one other patron waiting on his order.  On one wall was a large Chinese style painting and on the other hung a huge mirror. Black tables lined the walls leaving a large space in the middle of the restaurant.  In one corner, there was a television blaring a rerun of “River Monsters” in the others were long neglected plants thirsting for water and attention.  Behind the counter sat a young Asian woman taking orders and pudgy little boy pretending to do homework but actually playing on a Gameboy and hidden in the kitchen were three Asian chefs who apparently spoke very little English but know their way around an eggroll.  The counter was covered in menus, chop sticks and a variety of sauces and above it on the wall were brightly lit pictures of menu items completely void of any words explaining what they were.
                Amanda and I do not stray too far when ordering Chinese. As usual we ordered General Tso’s Chicken with fried rice, an order of white rice, and 2 egg rolls. Amanda had called the order in so I only had to wait about five minutes to pick up our food. I then strolled back across the street to our house. All of the food looked, smelled, and tasted good and just like it does at just about every other Chinese restaurant. The portions were the same as you would find at Tops China, Dragon Place, No. 1 Chinese ect. and it cost the same too.  Everything was cooked to order and cooked well.  Bamboo Garden was and is in every way exactly like every other Chinese takeout restaurant. It was not anything special like Red House or Chen’s but it was not bad; it was good, typical Chinese food.
                Bamboo Garden does not break any new food barriers; I didn’t expect it to.  It offers good, reliable Chinese food not any better or any worse that any of the hundreds of other Chinese restaurants. I will definitely go back because it is extremely close and it would be dumb to drive anywhere else and get the same stuff for the same price when I can just walk across the road. My advice in terms of Chinese restaurants is simple, go to the one closest to where you live.