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Posts Tagged ‘food’

White Duck for the win

Posted by eemilla on February 19, 2015

I enjoyed White Duck in the River Arts District, but their downtown Asheville location has been such a blessing.  The service is quick, and the food is cheap and tasty. Our family of three can eat a meal including a beer for my honey for about $30.  I enjoy the bahn mi taco as of the two or three vegetarian options it suits me; we tried the black bean for our daughter, but it was too spicy hot for her. They do have quesadillas, but the cost is about the same as a taco so she eats the bahn mi too. My husband enjoys the fish and jerk chicken, and he wasn’t impressed by their duck taco.  We’ve eaten there on Black Friday when lines and waits scared us away from plenty of other eateries, and they’ve been the spot before shows with their proximity to Diana Wortham and The Orange Peel. Even when the line is to the door it moves quickly. Their salsa trio with the chips varies wildly in heat and flavor, and their margaritas just aren’t as intoxicating or as tasty or as much of a bargain as The Lucky Otter’s (which frankly could describe plenty of margaritas).  I do wish I could tip with my credit card as I don’t carry cash, but I love having a downtown Duck.

White Duck Taco Shop on Urbanspoon

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Another local chain for South Asheville

Posted by eemilla on October 5, 2014

Since I live in South Asheville/Arden, I’m used to the only new restaurants being chains.  Our latest addition is Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack, and it comes just as my friend who has been begging someone to put a pub within walking distance is moving away.  Maybe if I move we’ll get greenways and better bus service.  We have been a few times to check it out, and we love that we can pretend we live in West Asheville by walking our dog to the park and stopping by with him to eat and drink on the patio.  The staff has been great to him, bringing him water when we forgot and giving him some kind words.  I love being able to order a pitcher and share it without a bit of worry about getting behind the wheel.  Being a vegetarian, there are a couple of things I can eat.  While they may have tons of sides that qualify, it’s all stuff I don’t prefer.  I do love french fries, and I was not pleased with the almost soggy ones I had.  They do make a fried green tomato appetizer special which has been on the menu the few times we’ve dined there; it runs $6.95 which isn’t expensive for an appetizer, but Tupelo Honey right down the road serves a superior fried green tomato appetizer with grits for $7.95 (and a delicious, complimentary biscuit).

Since we’ve brought the dog every time we’ve been, we have not eaten inside.  From our trips to the counter and the restroom, I was surprised at how large the interior is.  They’ve got a big TV for sports along with a great beer selection and a full liquor bar.  We’ve had at least one pitcher with each visit, and even taking out the alcohol the food tab is pretty high for a chicken shack.  The beer menu is good enough and fairly priced which is enough for us to keep stopping by.
Rockys Hot Chicken Shack on Urbanspoon

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The Local Joint

Posted by eemilla on September 3, 2014

A few months back I ventured to try The Local Joint as we’d begun to tire of our normal rotation of lunch spots.  After hearing lots of good noise about The Local Joint and Little Bee Thai (both of which are attached to gas stations), I decided we should have check it out.  We were disappointed to have to wait about thirty minutes for our table, but we were thankful for the nice weather as the waiting area consists of the parking lot.  Once we were seated we were greeted by our server and gave our drank orders, and we had all had time to decide on our orders during the wait so we were ready.  The restaurant is not very large and it was quite busy so there should have been enough noise to cover up the complaints of the wait staff, but it with our seats so close to the kitchen door we got to hear plenty of unpleasantness.

Overall the service was okay aside from drinks needing refills and a long wait to pay, but the food was enjoyable.  With the lack of a waiting area and the lack of staff privacy we haven’t been back, but I like to stick with a three strikes so I’ll give it another shot in hopes of a better experience.


The Local Joint on Urbanspoon

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Charleston Area Dining

Posted by eemilla on September 29, 2013

Much to my delight I had better dining options in the Charleston area than I had anticipated.  After Savannah, my expectations were pretty low, and I had some meals that were truly memorable.  Below I’ve given my quick thoughts.

Wasabai came into our sites after wondering around the College of Charleston’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and some of the King Street and East Bay Street shops.  The basil rolls were tasty as were the standard veg sushi offerings of cuke and avocado makis, and all of the portions were fine.  My vegetarian pad thai tasted less than vegetarian, and our service was a bit slow.  The restaurant overall is a bit dingy, and it just doesn’t look like it belongs in a busy downtown area (more like a strip mall that has lost its anchor store).  However, it does have a good selection of draft beer.
Wasabi Sushi & Asian Fusion on Urbanspoon

One night my honey joined a large contingent of my family to eat at The Wreck, LB and I decided to try Mustard Seed (which my honey and I had failed to check out last time we were in Mt Pleasant).  The service was exceedingly fast in all regards, but the food was not anything to write home about.  Both of our pasta dishes were super cheesy with generous portions and low cost.  The pecan pie in the dessert case looked as if it might be a science experiment, and the key lime pie was not to my liking with its sweetness.  However, the price was very reasonable if you are looking for vegetarian pasta dishes with lots of cheese.
Mustard Seed on Urbanspoon

For a weekday lunch LB and I found Lana Restaurant & Bar in the cute Radcliffeborough area; it reminded me of the Virginia Highlands of Atlanta and Montford of Asheville.  We shared some french fries and a wonderfully delicious puttanesca pasta, and our service was fine.  The portions and prices were in line with each other, and the atmosphere is upscale casual.
Lana Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Puree Organic is right beside Mustard Seed in Mount Pleasant, and it was a much better food experience.  The service was considerably slower (from taking the order to bringing the check) than Mustard Seed even though there are far fewer seats in Puree.  However, the food was leaps and bounds better.  The prices are overall higher, but they are in line with the quality increase.  The portions were generous, and they have kid sized smoothies on their kids menu in addition to the usual kids menu suspects of quesadillas, nut butter and fruit, and fried protein strips.  I loved my seitan chimichurry  wrap, and my honey’s veggie bahn mi was also delicious.

Puree Chimichurry wrap Puree bahn mi Puree kid black bean quesadilla

Puree Organic Cafe on Urbanspoon

My favorite drink deal was at Bacco; I enjoyed a huge $6 Tanqueray up with a twist, and I was rather tempted to have another.  The mixed olive appetizer was a hit with LB even though my husband and I grew tired of pitting olives.  My eggplant dish was just a bit less than both LB’s pizza and my honey’s sandwich combined, and it did not warrant the cost in either quality or quantity.  The pre-meal bread and the pizza crust were great.  Our service was fine, and overall the food was okay.

Bacco $6 Tanqueray Bacco Eggplant Bacco Margherita Bacco Salumi Panino

Bacco on Urbanspoon

Triangle Char and Bar was selected for proximity to our current location and a decent number of vegetarian selections.  Our food was fine even if the menu descriptions oversold it; the hummus beat the caprese salad by a mile.  The table was sticky and the open windows allowed flies unfettered access to one’s food.  Our service was prompt and attentive.  It is a bar, but one of the family friendly sort.

Triangle Char & Bar kid grilled cheese & fries Triangle Char & Bar side salad Triangle Char & Bar fish tacos Triangle Char & Bar hummus Triangle Char & Bar caprese

Triangle Char and Bar on Urbanspoon

My mom wanted to visit Fort Moultrie, and Taco Mamacita was right on the way.  Some other members of our party had recommended it although they seemed to favor another place at Folly Beach.  The service was slow, and the drinks were expensive and weak.  The food was fine, with the best value being the guacamole and salsa bowl appetizers.

Taco Mamacita Veg Jerk Taco Mamacita margarita

Taco Mamacita on Urbanspoon

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Avoid the lines at brunch and enjoy dinner

Posted by eemilla on September 17, 2013

After our return from Manhattan, we dined at a few favorite spots like Reza and Chai Pani.  We also decided to stop in and say hello to one of my honey’s former co-workers at Sunny Point Cafe.  My last visit was a few years back when we were a one car household and I drove my honey to his job on Sunday before 8am.  I figured surely so early on a cold winter morning the wait wouldn’t be that mad, but there were enough people to pretty much fill the restaurant as soon as they opened the doors.  The free coffee was pretty tasty, and the food was good too.  However, I hate waiting to eat so I never returned.

On my second visit we went for dinner so there wasn’t a wait, and they serve breakfast all day.  LB had carrot pancakes, and my honey enjoyed egg rolls and hush puppies.  I had a nice fresh salad with delicious rice cakes.  My visit reminded me how much I love a simple salad alongside dinner.  The patio was nicer than I recall it, and our service was good.  I loved the cute signs about the rules for the playground.

cut up carrot pancakes

fluffy biscuit

egg rolls

hush puppies

the rules

rice cakes with salad

Sunny Point Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

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Posted by eemilla on July 16, 2013

We purchased the City Pass thinking that we’d be able to get our money’s worth out of it so it meant we had passes to Top of the Rock and The Empire State Building.  Of the two I prefer Top of the Rock, and maybe only because we saw The Empire State Building on our last day after a manhunt shut down the four closest subway lines forcing us to walk several blocks while trying to figure out if the whole system was down or just every train near us.  The subway shutdown and our late start ate so much of our time we had to decide between seeing the MoMA and The Empire State Building, and as I had never seen the latter it is were we went.

Both skyscrapers had unbelievable amounts of velvet ropes, and I cannot imagine waiting in all of those lines.  It took over two hours to visit each building as it was, and at the top of each it was really crowded making it difficult to enjoy the views.  Again I cannot imagine going during peak times.  We went on a sunny day to Top of the Rock so our views were better, but the pictures didn’t work that well being behind plexiglass.  The Empire State Building also had a lengthy exit line for both the elevators and the stairs to catch the larger elevator on a lower floor, and it just seemed to add insult to injury considering the observation decks were smaller than at Top of the Rock.  With the City Pass I don’t know how admission compares, but Top of the Rock seemed to be managed more professionally and to be more tourist friendly.

Top of the Rock Top of the Rock


Pho 32 saved my crappy mood after we left The Empire State Building.  The food was tasty and plentiful with fast and friendly service, and as an added bonus it was a good deal (less than $35 before tip for at least two beers and two entrees).

IMG_2134 IMG_2135
Pho32 & Shabu on Urbanspoon

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A few more thoughts on our NYC dining experiences

Posted by eemilla on July 15, 2013

Living in the suburbs neither of us thought we would have to figure out the best way to change a diaper in a bathroom without a changing table, because every time it has happened before we’ve just gone to the car.  Riding the subway didn’t give us that option, but overall it was less terrible than I would’ve imagined it (not that I want to practice my skills anytime soon).  I believe the only changing tables we encountered were in the museums; I cannot think of a single restaurant we visited that had one.

Our second delivery was Polash Indian, and it was good and cheap (less than $40 before tip for the three of us) and greasy and filling.

Polash Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

AperiTIVO was were we grabbed some lunch after a morning of busy sightseeing.  The portions were good, and the pasta was delicious.  Our server was a bit overwhelmed as she seemed to be splitting the huge dining room and patio with one other server so it took a while to order and pay, but as we were outside under the bright red umbrellas LB was more distracted and thus cooperative.

eggplant parm seafood pasta spinach ravioli

Tivo Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon

On another day of sight seeing I wanted to go to a vegan sushi restaurant fairly close by, but it ended up not having any seating aside from barstools which wouldn’t work with a toddler so we ended up not wanting to put off lunch any longer and eating at Bravo’s Pizza, and it tasted just like the crappy pizza served in every single mall in America.

Bravo Pizza on Urbanspoon

Our worst experience was at John Dory Oyster Bar.  My honey has a love of oysters, and it was fairly close to some sight seeing that I wanted to do and a restaurant that I thought would be more suitable for vegetarian LB & me.  After one weak drink with enough ice for five more and a half dozen oysters, we were out $45 dollars.  The rolls that were ordered while LB and I walked downstairs for a diaper change (in a bathroom with plenty of space for a changing table or a counter but with neither) never appeared except briefly on the bill before they were removed at my husband’s request.

John Dory Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

After wasting almost an hour in John Dory’s LB was in no mood to find somewhere else and then sit and wait for food.  We treked back to the apartment only to discover that finding delivery food in Harlem on a Sunday night after 9:30 is harder than finding it our sleepy little mountain town.  The city that never sleeps my foot.

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Two Expensive Dinners

Posted by eemilla on July 13, 2013

For our nice dinner out my honey selected Candle Cafe, and we were on the westside.  Fortunately we didn’t really encounter any waits to be seated in any of the restaurants we dined at. With our toddler we have about an hour or so to eat in peace before LB is done being confined and quite.  The lighting is dim and evocative of the low light of a candle, and the tables are squeezed together.  Overall our food was enjoyable.  The one exception was LB’s pizza from the kid’s menu; it was over sauced, and the vegan cheese was wholly unappetizing.  The other downer of our meal was my dark and stormy which I only ordered after reading seeing their house made ginger ale; the drink was a hefty $13.75, and it tasted much too much like sour mix so that I hardly finished it.  I do concede that I made an amateur dining mistake as the waitress relayed that the bartender didn’t want to make this drink so I should’ve stuck with water.  Finally, it took too long for us to get our check and get out the door; otherwise our service was fine.  The appetizer, steamed dumplings, and the main courses, portobello steak and morel tofu, were good with fair portions and good execution.  Sadly, the negative details are sticking out more than the positive, so I cannot elaborate on what I enjoyed about our dinners.  We all three enjoyed the desserts, a chocolate peanut pie and three scoops of ice cream, but again I cannot recall the three flavors my honey selected.  Our before gratuity bill was over $100, which is what we expected for our nice dinner.
Candle Cafe West on Urbanspoon



For our second expensive meal, I don’t recall if my honey had picked out the restaurant or we were looking for something else when we decided to eat at Cilantro.  This was a much better dining out experience than the previous night as all of the food was great and the service was fast, and yes the drinks were expensive but absolutely fabulous too.  LB ordered a quesadilla of the kids menu, and I ordered the mushroom quesadilla off the appetizer menu.  We also had an order of guacamole and chips to between the three of us, and I left full.  My honey had a steak.  The room was loud and bright, and the seats were comfortable.  The tables were somewhat closer than I prefer, but definitely not uncomfortably close.  Our bill (before tip) was one margarita away from breaching the $100 mark, but after two I was toasty (and quite happy to be catching a train back to the apartment).
Cilantro on Urbanspoon

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Natural History Museum

Posted by eemilla on July 8, 2013

Unfortunately, we didn’t learn our lesson in Savannah about double checking for the pass before leaving the rental so we traveled down to 81st from 132nd St only to realize the passes were not with us.  Rather than use four train fares we decided my honey would go back while LB & I killed time in Central Park.  While watching the ducks and geese swim, I also spied a huge pile of puke or poop on the bench that LB really wanted to sit on.  Fortunately this was one of our few gross experiences in NYC.  I chased LB around while she burned off some energy, and I somewhat searched for a playground without wanting to venture too far from the Natural History Museum entrance.  When my honey returned with the City Passes we began our exploration of our second (and ultimately last museum) of the trip.

Our first floor tour began with the dioramas, and I wasn’t a big fan.  Once we moved on to the ancient civilization artifacts I began to enjoy it more.   We then covered lots of the same ground as we were lost in search of a restroom to change LB’s diaper which was déjà vu of the Met from earlier in the week.  Post diaper change, LB decided to take a nap in the stroller, and I felt both guilty and vindicated as my itinerary was based on her napping in the stroller; however, she didn’t look terribly comfortable, and she ended up taking a second nap that afternoon so the sleep must have been fairly poor.

The dinosaurs were really cool, and I hope we can return with an older and awake LB.  I also enjoyed the stones and gems much more than I expected too even though some of the large stones were underwhelming.  I was surprised at how different sulfur can look (the photos we tried to take didn’t really turn out).  We ended our visit at the butterfly conservatory after haggling with the attendant to allow us to trade our pass to the planetarium to admission to the butterflies.  While I would have loved to view the planetarium, we agreed that it wouldn’t be LB’s cup of tea plus we were all fairly hungry.

IMG_1944 IMG_1946 IMG_1958 IMG_1960 IMG_1964 IMG_1972 IMG_1981 IMG_1984 IMG_1992 DSC08674 IMG_2013 DSC08704 DSC08707 DSC08718

My honey landed on Raku II for our lunch spot, and it was one of the first restaurants that I’d been in that didn’t have a changing table for my wee one.  Trying to change a toddler’s diaper in a closet of a public bathroom is something I don’t want to do ever again, and I didn’t even catch a poopy diaper as we took turns changing them.  I guess with space at a premium it makes sense not to have a place to change the kid, but at many of the restaurants there was plenty of room just no thought. Raku II was a closet sized bathroom which was in proportion to the size of the restaurant.  The menu had plenty of vegetarian options, although I failed to write down what I ordered I do recall being pleased with the taste and price and portion.  Plus the staff made LB a makeshift sippy cup out of a storage container (she positively refuses to ever drink of her own sippy cup in every single restaurant in favor of drinking from my cup).
Raku - It's Japanese II! on Urbanspoon

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Mooncake Foods

Posted by eemilla on June 30, 2013

After pushing LB too hard to stay at the Met we beat a hasty retreat back to the apartment to finish off the leftover pizza and allow nap time to commence.  For dinner we wanted to try to eat something that we couldn’t eat at home, and I was hoping to track down another bahn xeo like at the Slanted Door.  Alas I am inept at searching restaurant menus online so I wasn’t able to locate a single restaurant in all of Manhattan that had one on the menu, and I wouldn’t impose to request one from a stranger.  I settled on Mooncake Foods Hell’s Kitchen location, and we were rewarded with great, cheap food and awesome service plus $9 pitchers of Sapporo.

LB and I shared the cold jicama rolls and pea shoot dumplings and a cold noodle salad while my honey had a really spicy sandwich.  The salad was okay, but the appetizers were delicious.  All of the portions were generous.  The restaurant appeared to be mostly delivery, and there may have been seven to ten tables with about the same at the bar.  Only one other table was set the whole time we were there, but the delivery orders kept going out.  The servers took good care of us, and they were sweet to LB.  It was so awesome to be able to enjoy the cheap beer because we didn’t need a designated driver; three cheers to the wonder of MTA!
Mooncake Foods on Urbanspoon

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