Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Flying Pig

13560 Waterford Pl
Midlothian, VA 23112

                The Flying Pig is a new BBQ restaurant that recently opened in Midlothian.  Hidden in an unassuming shopping center off of Genito Road, the Flying Pig offers very good BBQ albeit in too clean of an environment.  Inside the Flying Pig could literally be any generic restaurant that it wants to be. Unlike 99.999% of BBQ joints in Virginia there were no signs of pigs around, other than on their logo Some people may like this but I want to see a plethora of pig d├ęcor when in a BBQ restaurant. But that’s just me.  But honestly, the place looked very nice, was extremely clean, and orderly with a lot of seating and a large bar area. 

                As I walked in, I was warmly greeted and brought directly to my seat which, since I was dining alone, had a perfect view of a large screen TV.   My waitress came out quickly with a menu and to take my drink order.  On the table sat a six pack of different homemade bbq sauces, Vinegar, spicy, sweet tomato, mustard based, white mayo based, and a buffalo ranch sauce.  All of them were delicious and just to have some many kinds of sauce is extremely impressive. The menu was decent sized but it didn’t stray too far from its bbq roots.  There is pulled pork, brisket, ribs and chicken, along with sandwiches and a number of delicious sounding sides and appetizers. I had already looked at the menu online and I ordered the lunch bbq sandwich special which came with honey pineapple cole slaw, 1 side and a drink.  I was extremely torn between the jalapeno coconut black beans and the bacon and blue potato salad but I went with the beans based on a recommendation of my waitress. 

                Before I could even take a sip of my drink, my waitress brought out my meal.   I’m not even lying; it was crazy stupid fast.    For $8, the sandwich was very large and loaded with pork.  The cole slaw was served on the side, I assume for Yankees who don’t like it on their sandwiches.  And there was a large bowl of jalapeno coconut beans.   The pork was obviously smoked and has a nice smoky flavor and was juicy and tender.  The cole slaw was different than any I’d ever had before.  It was thick and chunky with a sweet honey and pineapple finish.  With each bite I took I tried a different bbq sauce. I honestly loved each one except for maybe the vinegar based sauce but that’s just because I really don’t care for that type of sauce. 

While the sandwich was delicious, the beans really stole the show.  These things were out of this world, I practically licked the bowl clean.  The coconut flavor added sweetness to the beans that took them to another level.  It might be one of the greatest sides I’ve ever eaten.  I’m sure that the potato salad is great to but if you go you MUST order the beans.

Overall, the Flying Pig is a pretty good BBQ restaurant with some great unusual flavor combination that set it apart from your typical bbq joint.   The meat’s not be best in town but its sides and sauces make it a place your definitely need to check out if you like bbq. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cesare's Ristorante & Pizzeria

13127 Rivers Bend Blvd
Chester, VA 23836


            Amanda’s grandmother loves Cesare’s; so whenever someone is in town or there is a special occasion we go there for dinner. It is located off of Rt. 10 in the River’s Bend Shopping Center in the Enon area of Chesterfield. Cesare’s is quite large and has a big room in the back where people can hold banquets or parties. It is decorated in your typical generic Italian theme, nothing fancy but also not too cheesy like many other Italian places fall victim to. Its staff is very friendly and the service is also excellent.

            Amanda’s Uncle Keith came down from New York not too long ago so Amanda’s grandmother took us all out to Caesar’s to celebrate.  As always the staff greeted us warmly provided excellent service but unlike other times I was adventurous and ordered off of the Chef’s special menu, Crescent Butternut Squash Ravioli.  While I was hesitant to try it Amanda kept insisted that I did. As always, I am very glad that I listened to her.

            While everything at Caesar’s is very good, it is honestly not all that much different than the linty of other Italian Restaurants in the Tri-City area.  It has pizza, subs, burgers, and your typical pasta dishes but nothing that really jumps off your plate as insanely amazing or something that other places don’t also have on their menus.  The butternut squash ravioli IS that difference. 

            After about 15 minutes of talking and joking around and a round of salads and bread, our food was served.  My plate contained about 10 crescent shaped raviolis in a light orange sweet smelling sauce. As I bit into the first ravioli I knew that I had something special. It had a sweet but nutty flavor with what tasted like pumpkin pie spices, nutmeg and cinnamon.  I’ve never had a pasta dish like it before, both sweet and savory with a strong earthiness to it.  It was absolutely delicious and unlike anything I’ve ever seen or tasted at another Italian restaurant. It had a coy subtle sweetness to it that made for a rich and savory taste.  The texture of the ravioli and its inside was smooth and creamy.

            I loved this dish but I have to say that not everyone will. It is so different from the spaghetti and meatball or pizza that a lot of people will probably not get the Italian fix that they are looking for. Don’t worry Caesar’s also has you covered there with numerous delectable entrees, pizzas, and sandwiches. But for those more adventurous types, the butternut squash ravioli is superb and will not disappoint just don’t expect a gargantuan sized portion that you might be accustom to from Olive Garden.

            Over all Caesar’s is a very good Italian Restaurant but the Butternut Squash Ravioli is GREAT!


The BBQ Battle on Oaklawn Boulevard

Ribs Gone Wild  VS.  Another Bite BBQ
Not many people think about BBQ when you mention the intersection of Jefferson Park Road and Oaklawn Boulevard in Hopewell. But over the past year smoke has filled the air in that intersection each weekend as two mobile BBQ stands waged war against one another for BBQ supremacy and so far neither has admitted defeat. 
In the Valero parking lot in a red wooden barn like trailer sits Another Bite BBQ and across the street in the Shell parking lot in a large white food truck with a large smoker sits Ribs Gone Wild.   On any given weekend there are lines of customers at each place waiting for a variety of BBQ, from ribs and brisket to pulled pork and chicken wings.
Because it is easier to get to I tried Another Bite BBQ first. Served by a rotund redneck guy with a big white beard, Another Bite BBQ serves up ribs, brisket, chopped pork, chicken and a variety of sides.  While not on the menu, I asked him to fix me a sampler plate with chopped pork, ribs and brisket which he gladly did for $20.   In about 5 minutes I had a Styrofoam container loaded with smoked meats and a tomato based bbq sauce.   While the meat was smoked it tasted like it had been sitting on the grill for quite awhile and was a little dry. The sauce was good and had a nice tangy finish to it.  The meat was ok it was not great.
On my birthday I decided to try Ribs Gone Wild for lunch.  I was extremely impressed because my birthday was on Easter Sunday and it was raining but the Ribs Gone Wild crew was still out there smoking away and serving up huge slabs of Ribs and smoked chicken. The racks of ribs they were serving were huge and so was their price - $28 per rack.  While I know that ribs are expensive, $28 a rack seems pretty high.   They come coated in a deliciously tangy tomato BBQ and the meat was practically falling off of the bones; these ribs were amazing.   I was blown away by the smoky sweet flavor that was complemented perfectly by the tangy sauce.  And honestly 1 rack could feed 3 people easily so $28 really wasn’t too bad of a deal.
With that all being said the Winner of the BBQ Battle on Oaklawn Boulevard is…
While Another Bite BBQ does offer a little more of a selection like brisket and chopped pork the ribs at Ribs Gone Wild are practically untouchable even at close to $30 a rack.