Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
COFFEE HOUSE FOR SALE. Turn Key Coffee House business for SALE. This beautiful, spacious, 2 year old coffee house is ripe for a new enthusiastic, sales focused owner. This coffee cafe is located on a busy route, at a light in a prime location for thousands of travelers to pass everyday. . . . This coffee house is beautifully decorated with large windows that allows customers to enjoy memorable sun rises and sunsets. . . . For a $229,000 investment, the new owner can simply turn the key and begin a new venture in the coffee business. . . .
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Monday, December 28, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Beth sent me an email yesterday about stopping at Pasta Blitz on Johns Hopkins Road to discover people building a wood-fired pizza oven and planning a January name change to Facci Ristorante:
Pasta Blitz is a big deal around here, although it hasn't been a regular place for me. So I broke my "no reporting for the blog" rule and called the Clarksville Pasta Blitz where Esposito was happy to talk about the new Facci Ristorante.
I stopped in at my local Pasta Blitz today to get a gift certificate today and the owner (Mr. Gino Palma-Esposito-per his business card) told me that the name and menu are changing January 6th. It will be Facci- ristorante-wood fire pizza-winebar. The fire hearth was being built as I stood there.
He assured me that the gift certificate will be good at the new place and that they will make anything from the current menu that's not on the new menu. Great for my elderly neighbor who loves the place.
The Pasta Blitz on Johns Hopkins Road will be changing to Facci and going for a "city feeling," according to Esposito. They're going to have a bar and full service. He says they're trying to keep prices down, but they sound like they're aiming to compete with casual dining places like La Palapa Too, Victoria Gastropub, etc. They're aiming for a private, soft opening on January 6 and a public opening around January 11.
Facci's wood-fired pizza oven could be spectacular. Esposito is from Naples, and he is importing tomato, cheese and flour for an authentic taste that he says require Italian ingredients. Think $10 for a personal margherita pizza. As I have written before, I know it is hard to deliver reliable, great food. But I'm a fan of Coal Fire on Rte 108 even when it isn't perfect, and Johns Hopkins Road is close enough that I could walk there in the next blizzard if the pizza is good enough.
Again, Facci is only replacing the Pasta Blitz next to the JHU Applied Physics Lab. Officially, it's Laurel, but it is really caught between Columbia and Fulton. If Facci is a hit, Facci said he might change the Clarksville location, but that's in the future. First, we'll need a review of Facci by the Pizzablogger.
Facci Ristorante (as of January 2010)
7530 Montpelier Road
Laurel, MD 20723-6014
NEAR: This is on Johns Hopkins Road just west of Rte 29. It is a shopping center that includes La Palapa Too and Kloby's Smokehouse. This is just south of Columbia and just north of Fulton.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Last winter, I got two pick-up loads of leaves and mixed in a dozen or more boxes of old vegetables over the course of the winter -- turning the pile every week or two and adding more vegetables when nothing recognizable remained. By spring, I had spectacular compost to start my own vegetable garden and a few thousand worms happily crawling through the pile.
Of course, this is a review. All trash is not created equal -- at least, it isn't packaged equally. First, Roots has a salad bar, so half of the trash is trimmings and cutting that break down fast. Second, Roots stores its trash in plastic bags. I'm super-grateful to MOM's for giving me their stuff, but it's often in open-slat produce boxes, which have leaked liquid in my car. Not a crisis, but you want to put down plastic to catch the liquid.
No matter where you get the vegetables, you can break up any whole fruit by either stamping on it or cutting it with the edge of a shovel. Apples, squash, and cucumbers all compost faster if you bust them up and expose their inner flesh to the worms and bacteria that do your composting work.
If you're going to get old vegetables, call ahead in the morning, and the produce folks will generally set aside a few bags/boxes for you. They like you to pick up in the afternoon.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
(Update: I posted again about Columbia's Victoria Gastro Pub in 2010.)
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Bistro Blanc? The name of the wine shop and restaurant in rural, wealthy Glenelg comes as a bit of a surprise when I make the establishment's acquaintance. Everywhere I look, I see dark evidence to the contrary: red wines, burnt-orange walls, amber lighting and servers in black uniforms.
NEAR: Frisco Grille is off Dobbin Road south of Rte 175 in a shopping center with Pub Dog. From the north, take Rte 175 and turn south on Dobbin Road at the intersection with a Chik-fil-A and a Kmart. The shopping center is on the left after the second light. From the south, take Snowden River Parkway and turn left on McGaw Road at the light with Apple Ford. Turn right at the light with Dobbin, then look for the shopping center on the right.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Mexican Everyday (and the accompanying PBS series) was Bayless' chance for accessible recipes. It is worth buying just for the straight-forward tomatillo salsas-- one fresh and one roasted. Tomatillos are available year-round at Lily's Mexican Market or any of the Asian grocery stores, and they still firm a long time in the crisper. The fresh salsa is basically a puree of tomatillos, garlic, chilis and cilantro, and Bayless' instructions have made countless weeknight meals where the salsa is the main flavor with tortillas, cheese and some chicken or beans. That is the entry-level drug that will soon have you trying your hand at jalapeno-baked fish, chipotle shrimp, and a fresh lime sorbet that were all clear and successful.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
You can also check out the list on the Web. Howard County makes the list, but not well. No. 57 (Image 44) is to check out the Super H or Lotte in Catonsville. No. 64 (Image 47) is to eat pit beef from anywhere without a door -- but the photo is Uncle Grube's in Elkridge. There must be some Howard County gems to replace a few stops on the Sun's tour of "Old World delis."
Definitely check out the Dining @ Large post where Large asked for people's ideas. Inspired by Large's original post, I took a shot in October at a Top 20 "Food Experiences" for Howard County. What else do you suggest?
I'm a Coal Fire fan, although people should both peruse the mixed feedback from people who love or hate the crisp coal-oven crust and read the PizzaBlogger's observation that the pizza quality depends on who cooks your pie. I wrote last month about the difficulty of creating consistently great dishes.
I'm doubly impressed that Coal Fire's pizza survived a drive back to Thomas' home. Based on the WPost's abandonment of Howard County, I assume she drove a long way. Long ago, Columbia was so important that the WPost sent interns to cover the regular staff's vacation. (I drove three-hours roundtrip from Virginia for two weeks, and they were too cheap to cover even a penny of mileage.) But I gave up on the WPost covering anything around here. Last time I checked, the Going Out Guide editors hadn't found a single restaurant to recommend in Howard County -- except for Great Sage that they think is in "nothern Montgomery County."
Thanks to emkenton for alterting me to the review. Although the Going Out Guide ignores us, the WPost Food section has, if anything, improved even as newspapers suffer. I read it religiously until the WPost removed its machines from the Laurel MARC station.
If you want to comment about Coal Fire Pizza, please do it on the original post with all the other comments.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
(Update: The BBG says in a comment below that Frisco is taking over a tailor next door.)
Monday, November 30, 2009
The email sent to Large says the restarant -- owned by the folks who own Diamondback Tavern -- had a soft open last weekend and an official grand opening scheduled for December 11-13.
(Update II: The comments below are really from Lee Biars. He also wrote a post that I called "Thoughts From The Other Side Of The Check.")
Second, in relation to the late Jordan's you mentioned the fact that many of the staff have been hired by Bistro Blanc. In theory this was to rectify the many service complaints reported both here and elsewhere. However, given the time the new staff will explain this to you and explain how much better they are. My main problem with Jordan's was it's pretentiousness over performance. These new waiters only bring that impression to Bistro Blanc. . . . I've said before that Bistro Blanc's food is my favorite in the county but I don't know that this is such an improvement.
Third, I visited the Azul 17 the other day and I have to say how underwhelmed I was. While the decor is appalling I was hopeful for the food and drinks. I love the movement to using agave nectar and fresh lime juice in margaritas vs. that premade sour mix garbage but Agave and Diablita are both doing this in the city at $2-$3 less. I resent being charged $4 for indiffernt chips and salsa at lunch plus $2 more to taste the habanero salsa that seems to have come out of an El Yucatan bottle. . . .
- Like TripKlaus, other folks have talked about Azul 17, including Wordbones and dzoey who reported about their meals. But Josh K loved the chicken mole and would go back in a heartbeat.
- In the same way, people echoed RDA Doc's report on Sidamo Coffee & Tea, and Bets reported that the Ethiopian coffee ceremony performed at Sidamo was also available on Sunday afternoons at Sorretti's (formerly the Oromia Cafe) in Burtonsville.
- If you stop at Sidamo, Buck1313 reported that im Wine has offered discounts if you come there with a receipt from the new Maple Lawn coffee shop. Buck1313 loves im Wine, although K8teebug and Renfield commented that they're not great fans. Speaking of beer, Alexander D Mitchell commented about the Ellicott Mills Brewing Company and my question about why beer lovers seem to focus on the Judge's Bench across the street.
- The Pizzablogger echoed my post about how hard it is to create great food with his recent review of Coal Fire Pizza. He loves the place, but he says his last three visits have been disappointing. We both hope that the new oven crew gets up to speed soon.
- A comment on a Union Jacks post sparked the question about good delis in Howard County -- maybe a place for a kick-ass reuben. I still haven't found a great deli, but a bunch of people made their suggestions -- including the reuben at Kelsey's by popcornface and the corned beef at the NY Deli by Morty Abzug.
- Commenting on my post about the ramune soft drinks, Dzoey reported that Sushi King and most other Japanese restaurants sell the fizzy drinks with the marble in the bottle.
- Ann's House of Nuts moved from Jessup to Columbia, and a bunch of people -- including HowICook, Sarah and Anonymous --- reported about what they buy at the retail nut place.
- Dzoey also reported on his meals at Cazabe and Diamondback Tavern. He seemed to like Cazabe's Dominican food, although he, Renfield and Jeremy wrote mixed reports about their Diamondback meals.
- In contrast, people seem to be hot for the R&R Deli -- the new taco and Mexican place in the Shell station at U.S. 1 and Rte 175. Sean also had tacos and milkshakes and talks up the tacos enchilados and al pastor. Southern Skies Coffee Roasters went for al pastor and liked the mole as well.
- If you want more to read, HowICook talked up Daedalus -- the book outlet in Columbia where he says he often finds cookbook bargains.
- And if you're inspired to try new food, check out Agussman's tip about restaurant.com -- that you don't have to buy for a single restaurant, but instead can buy a gift certificate that you can use at almost any restaurant.
We just returned from a meal at Donna's (on Snowden River Parkway, in the same shopping center as Victoria Gastro Pub), and I just had to e-mail you. I haven't seen too many reviews for Donna's on your blog, so I was wondering if you had any insights that we aren't aware of. Anyway, here it is:
Donna's -- our final assessment is... WOW (but not in a good way).
We had only been to Donna's twice in the last 4 years prior to today. Each of those times, we had either drinks or dessert and coffee (all of which we weren't too enamored of, since it seemed we were paying way too much for what we were getting, quantity- and quality-wise). Today, we decided we should try Donna's for lunch to make sure our previous judgments hadn't been to hasty.
We arrived around 12:30 PM and were presented with a brunch menu and a specials list that had more brunch items and two sandwiches (fish and veggie). My husband was disappointed, since he had hoped for more sandwich options. I ended up ordering the "Omelet with Portobello Mushrooms" (included sun-dried tomatoes and goat cheese in the omelet, with a side of roasted potatoes). It sounded delicious and looked decent, but the plate was a complete disaster. The omelet was very dry, and not moist like you would expect an omelet to be. It tasted like it had layers -- like someone had made a fried egg, folded it in half, and thrown pre-cooked veggies inside with some cheese.. The mushrooms were overcooked. The sun-dried tomatoes were sort of chewy (like the kind you have to "rehydrate" instead of the kind stored in a jar of oil). The potatoes were even worse -- they looked good, like they had been roasted for a while. But when I bit into them, they were dry and rubbery, like they had been pre-roasted hours (days?) ago and then microwaved to put on my plate. A quick toss in the deep fryer would have made them taste a lot better.
My husband ordered the breakfast pizza, which was... weird. It was layered as well. On the bottom: pizza crust (no sauce, as far as we knew). Then, a layer of onions and rounds of sliced tomatoes, topped with fried egg(s) covered with mozzarella cheese. The taste was just okay, but it didn't seem like a pizza due to the layering business -- mix it all up, why don'tcha?
It appears that the chef has good ideas on what flavors go well together, but the execution was sorely lacking. I did say something to the waitress about my dry dish, and was credited about 50% of the entree on our check. Unfortunately, we won't be returning, as we haven't been too impressed the three times we went. Hard to believe that place has been there for so long with the food they serve.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Two Youngs is a great stop if you're stopping to shop at H Mart. If you're there, definitely check out the other places in that center, including Mangoberry and and Golden Krust for Jamaican takeout down the row. Also check out Hunan Taste, which is getting great reviews on Chowhound (1, 2) for authentic Hunan Chinese food.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I took the family to Venegas Prime Filet tonight, Sunday (11/22/09). Sadly, the tree that was the trademark of Oz is gone and replaced by a modern oversized light. Being a beer guy, they have 4 drafts available with 2 from clipper city which was nice considering Ranazul (owner’s other restaurant just across the street) has none. Beware the price of a draft beer is a bit steep. They served 4 different complimentary breads with honey butter which were all good.
The menu has a nice variety of fish, meat and prime beef. The prime beef appears to be reasonably priced. We ordered the cheese plate (2 out of 3 were special) and 5 entrees (monkfish, rockfish, prime flat iron steak (wow!) with truffle butter (too subtle), citrus pasta & French short rib). All the dishes were nice presentations with nice garnishes. Additionally we ordered the reasonably priced accessories, cauliflower gratin (a really nice puree), mashed potatoes (still not serving the roasted garlic variety) and the brussel sprouts (wow
The standouts were the monkfish, flat iron steak and the short rib (actually a bit too fatty but wonderful beefy taste with nice fried shallots, and ‘to die for’ gnocchi). For dessert, we all got a taste of the unbelievable decadent golden chocolate dome. It too was ‘to die for’. The service was very good and almost too attentive. Finally, I asked the waiter about the chefs and the sous chef showed up at our table. She asked about our meal details (commented on the beef short rib dish being hers from beginning to end) and showed real interest in our comments.
This is a place where you need to savor the details. It’s not the overall great experience they’re striving for yet but if you look close, the details add up to a good experience. Trying to keep costs reasonable, we didn’t try any of the appetizers, soups or salads. Next time, I want to sit in the bar area and order these especially the interesting appetizers. They remind me of Ranazul.
We tried Venegas tonight (Sat 21st.) Since I was familiar with the layout of Oz, I requested a table that was not near the kitchen on our Open Table reservation Thus, we were seated a table away from the kitchen. Perhaps Open Table does not forward our comments? It wasn't too bad, though.
They were out of an entree and side dish we wanted (chicken, and garlic mash (but they had regular mashed potatoes?) This was an early evening reservation, so not sure why they were out of these common items. Bread was good, and the honey on top of the butter was a nice touch. Atmosphere was decent, more modern casual than romantic. Staff was very pleasant, but I would have expected the owner to visit the tables on it's opening weekend. No personal touch.
Overall, it was an average experience, and there are not enough items on the menu that I personally liked, and nothing really special to make me want to go back. Still looking for a restaurant in Maple Lawn that I want to frequent!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
- The Baltimore Snacker -- one of the originals, a great mix of restaurants and recipes, and the spectacular project of snackin' at every exit of the Baltimore Beltway.
- Black Coffee and a Donut -- two sisters who fled Howard County, but not so far away. They beat HowChow in the Mobbies, so respect must be paid. Plus, you have to respect them because they eat lobsters as big as a dog.
- Baltimore Beer Guy -- the source for craft beers from DC to Baltimore. The BBG introduced me to Frisco Grille.
- Cupcake RN -- restaurant reviews, cooking stories, and updates about adventures with Steve. She just started a tour of sushi restaurants.
- Kevin and Ann Eat Everything -- the funniest writing that you're going to get about food around here. Read now before Kevin either explodes from eating beef or gets in trouble for leaving his son at Larriland Farm.
- The Pizzablogger -- great source for pizza. The PB reviews local places, and he is tapped into a network of artisans who make spectacular pies from here to New Haven.
- Fred Foodie -- the blog about dining in Frederick, another place with more good food than people to write about it -- and Volt! Check it out if you're driving west to go eat.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
8874 McGaw Rd
Columbia, MD 21045
NEAR: McGaw Road is the light where Apple Ford sits on Snowden River. From Rte 175, turn right on McGaw. From Broken Land Parkway, turn left on McGaw. The shopping center with India Delight -- along with Cha Ya Thai, The Greene Turtle and Cheeburger, Cheeburger -- is on the right before the intersection with Dobbin Road.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Now, you can count on the tacos at the R&R deli in Elkridge -- a new takeout spot for breakfast and Mexican food at Rte 175. R&R serves great tacos. I tried the barbacoa, the carnitas and the carne asada on Monday, and they're spectacular. Heaped meat, good tortillas, a nice salsa. R&R is near the Shell Station where Rte 175 hits U.S. 1.
(Update: You should ask for a huarache -- a Mexico City dish with a masa base, cheese, meat and avocado. You should also try R&R's ceviche special, which offers marinated fish and vegetables on top of a crisp tostada.)
(Update: Mrs. HowChow approves.)