Kobe Beef at the Second Street Restaurant

23 08 2010

Ever had a Kobe Beef burger?  Kobe beef is known for its delicate and well marbled texture and rich flavor. It comes from a from the black Tajima-ushi breed of Wagyu cattle, raised according to strict tradition in Japan. The cows are given daily massages with warm sake, and fed the highest quality grains.

Kobe Beef has been soaring in popularity in North America, and suppliers are having trouble meeting demand. This in turn has made the beef quite expensive. I decided to give it a try at the Second Street Restaurant in Williamsburg, VA. Most burgers on the menu were priced at around 8 or 9 bucks, but the Kobe beef burger cost about twice as much. You have to try everything once, even if it isn’t always as cheap. Here is what it looked like –

Second Street was apparently well known for their burgers, at least according to their own advertisements, so I thought I would take the opportunity to try the cream of the crop. I did not defile the burger with any sauces or condiments so I could zone in on the flavor of the beef. With each bite I noticed that the texture is indeed softer, richer, and juicier. After eating regular “pancake” burgers at fast food joints for so long, this was like a whole new world. Ground beef is mass produced on such a grand scale, and Americans have become jaded with how it is supposed to taste.  This burger was really a wake-up call, restoring my faith in the meat. So many people load up burgers with ketchup, mustard, relish, lettuce, tomato, onions, BBQ sauce, etc.. because the meat itself is usually so bland. Here was Second Street’s regular burger, which was also above average –

Was the Kobe Beef burger good? Yes. Was it worth $18? For my first time trying it, yes. I would not order it every time. Much like a filet mignon compares to cube steak, a Kobe beef burger is a delicacy that should be reserved for special occasions. I would recommend ordering one for yourself and coming to your own conclusions.

The Second Street Restaurant was a great place to eat. Quick and friendly service (I love waiters that make recommendations on what to order), an inviting atmosphere, and reasonable prices. I also tried a Black & Tan while I was there, which is half Guinness and half Bass combination beer, which was interesting. It seemed to be a popular drink further south.

Ever had Kobe beef? What did you think?


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Fractured Prune

12 08 2010

Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme may be the kings of fried, ring-shaped dough, but I found a donut shop that can give them a run for their money. It is known as the “Fractured Prune”, and the company has a few locations scattered around Maryland. The restaurant specialzies in gourmet donuts that are made to order, but they also serve the usual breakfast fare as well.

You know how when you go to most pizza places, you can order a pizza with any kind of crust, cheese, sauce, and toppings? If you go to a Fractured Prune, you can do that with donuts. They have tons of premade selections to choose from, but you can ask them to make anything your heart desires. Start out by choosing what kind of cake for the donut, if you want it dipped in chocolate or another sauce, and then any toppings such as marhmallows, chocolate chips, coconut, fruit, etc.. I decided on a chocolate mocha donut –

Ok so maybe it wasn’t the best shot. It slid a little bit.

It was basically a chocolate donut, dipped in a chocolate-mocha sauce, and then covered in oreo crumbles, and it was delicious. The best part of this donut is the hot chocolate coating, which makes the whole donut warm and moist. Since every donut is made to order, you won’t leave with a room temperature or cold donut that has been sitting on a rack. The price is a bit higher to compensate for this, but you end up with a superior product. I would prefer Dunkin Donuts for buying a dozen, but if all I want is a single warm donut/chocolate fix, the Fractured Prune delivers. If you are not a chocolate fan, they still have tons of toppings to choose from as well.

Gourmet cupcakes are good, but gourmet donuts are even better! More restaurants should offer them. Could you imagine a warm donut with a scoop of gourmet ice cream on top? They fit together so well; it was meant to be. Many restaurants make brownie sundaes, but I want to see more donut sundaes.

Fractured Prune gets a thumbs up from me. If you see one, stop in and make your own donut.





The Embers

3 08 2010

I am way behind on posting lately, but I have a ton of reviews lined up, all complete with photos. It seems like the summer months are just flying by, and I want to get in one more Ocean City review for anyone that is still planning a trip out there. This restaurant is perhaps the best buffet you will find in the area, and there are tons to choose from.

The Embers

The Embers Restaurant is conveniently located just off the coastal highway in OC. It has an attached mini-golf course and a large logo with a fish on it. As I walked inside, I first noticed the grand ceilings and marble floors in the lobby. The place is very large, seating several hundred people with ease. Usually this would be a red flag – large buffets that seat hundreds of people usually take a hit with the food quality. The old rule about buffets – “Quality over quantity”, still applies here, but the quality is high enough that the Embers shines amongst it’s buffet peers. After sitting down at the table, I ordered one of the restaurant’s famous “Tiffany” drinks to share, seen below.

Gloriously fruity. Ordering one of these drinks is a great start to a great meal if you are there with friends. There are blended and iced drinks in a variety of flavors. The Tiffany drinks start at $15, but they are huge, so you can easily split one with four people.

Now, on to the food. The Embers serves everything under the sun. The buffet stretches three long aisles, each about 50 feet in length. There you will find every kind of seafood, chicken, beef, pork, sausage, pasta, pizza, etc. All that stuff is filler though. There is one big reason to go to the Embers. Crab Legs!

Beautiful

The Embers serves giant clusters of glistening, hot crab legs with warm butter to dip them in. They don’t skimp on anything either, proudly serving you 2+ clusters every time you make a trip up to the buffet. They wont stop putting them on your plate until you take it away. These crab legs are very fresh, which is actually a side effect of maintaining such a large restaurant. With hundreds of hungry patrons wanting crab legs, The Embers churns out fresh batches of them every minute, right out of the steamer and on to your plate. If you are a crab lover, don’t miss out on this opportunity while vacationing in OC.

Have you been to one of the other buffets in OC? Do you have a favorite restaurant there? Let me know and post a comment!





ZERO Bar

26 07 2010

Here comes another candy review from our favorite guest blogger – Phil. The “Zero” bar is an older candy bar that has become a rarity today. If you happen to find one, is it worth a purchase?

Phil: This is one of those old candy bars that’s sort of hard to find, so it’s one of the few unique candy options Hershey’s carries at Chocolate World. Apparently Zero is not an original Hershey product, but rather one of the candies it absorbed when it bought some Finnish candy company in 1996. The bar has been around since 1920 and was created in Minnesota so you know it has a cult granny following. Unfortunately it’s not named Zero because it has no calories (duh), but because it’s supposed to be awesomely cool, like zero degrees cool, dude. So I cut my candy bar down the middle and tried it at room temperature and frozen for comparison purposes.

Zero Ingredients: White fudge outer layer, base of dark brown nougat with a few crushed peanut/almond pieces mixed in, layer of caramel over nougat

Room Temperature: Well I think this might be the first candy bar that I would rather have as a one of those fun size versions that you get at Halloween rather than full size. This sucker is sweet and rich. I ate half of a King Size (so a little smaller than a regular sized bar) and I was more than ok with not eating the full King Size bar. If it were a Fast Break, Take5, Butterfinger, or Milky Way you would have to get that angry lady from The Biggest Loser to force it out of my mouth. The best layer of the candy bar was probably the caramel (think caramel similar to Milky Way). The nougat wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t Three Musketeers or Milky Way good. I did like the peanut/almond pieces in the nougat. I never had that before in a candy bar and it provided a nice texture contrast. The white fudge is really the defining feature of the candy bar, and I wasn’t a fan of it. Instead of the chocolate being a nice semi-bitter compliment to the nougat/nuts/caramel, you get an all-around punch of sweet. Also, the white fudge is really soft and flaky so when you bite into the bar the caramel is really the only resistance. I didn’t really like that or the taste of the white fudge. It was just too darn sweet.

Frozen: I never eat frozen candy bars, so I stupidly bit into the bar once I took it out of the freezer. Ouch. After I let my teeth recover and the candy bar warm up for a minute I gave it another go. Definitely better frozen, because much of the sugar overload is taken away due to the temperature of the bar. The nougat and caramel stand out more when the bar is cold. After I finished though, I still felt like I just ate a giant stick of sugar.

Overall I think this is definitely a unique candy bar that you should try once if you are a candy lover. Definitely try it frozen, it’s actually better. The best thing it has going for it is the Zero aesthetic. It just looks fantastic, the retro packaging and the snow white bar itself. The metallic silver wrapper stands out amongst the brown, black, orange and yellow packages of most candy bars. It grabs your attention and once you read the ingredients it stands out even more. The adventurous will try it, the rest won’t. That’s probably a good thing since I don’t think this candy bar appeals to everyone, only those with a super sweet tooth. It’s a little too sweet for me, but give it a try if you see it in the grocery store check out line. Just don’t get the King Size…

Jamie: I never really was a fan of “white” chocolate. It tastes bad and it piggybacks on chocolate’s good name. This might be a good candy bar for those who avoid chocolate, but if you avoid chocolate you should probably avoid this too…

I will be posting another review this week, stay tuned.





Dogfish Head Brewpub

6 07 2010

One of the more memorable dining experiences while vacationing in Ocean City was my trip to the Dogfish Head brewpub in Rehoboth Beach. I have always liked Dogfish’s selection of beers, and having a chance to visit their actual point of origin was an exciting prospect. I had originally booked a tour of the actual brewery, but their location in Rehoboth had a restaurant built in – which meant tons of beer and food to sample.

Speaking of samples, I started off with the sampler –

A great selection overall. Most of these beers can be found in liquor stores in the Maryland area. Included in the sampler was everything from a lager to a stout, including one of my favorite India Pale Ales – Dogfish Head 60 min IPA.

Here were my initial thoughts on each beer –

  • Shelter Pale Ale – A decent, somewhat generic pale ale. Slightly hoppy, with a cool, bitter finish. Definitely palatable but I wouldn’t make an effort to search for it again.
  • Indian Brown Ale – I am not usually a fan of brown ales, and this wasn’t an exception.  Very earthly, chocolaty flavor that fills you up like a meal.
  • 60 min IPA – This is the little brother of my all-time favorite beer, 90 min IPA. It is a little milder than 90 min, and some may believe – more drinkable as well.  Beer drinkers used to Bud and Miller light should stay away, however. This beer packs a lot of hops and character. Highly recommended.
  • Raison D’Etre – This was the underdog of the bunch – the “Raison” in the name made me think of fruity beers, which I usually try to avoid. I was pleasantly surprised by my first taste – smooth, slightly hoppy, with a mild undertone of raisins and other complex flavors. The fruit essences were not overpowering in the least.
  • Chicory Stout – I am a stout lover on occasion, and this one was average. It had more of a round, malt flavor, with more taste than Guinness. This did come at the price of feeling slightly heavier going down. A decent beer if you are in the mood for a stout, but Dogfish brews better beers.

After sampling these beers, I was already pretty full (and feeling good). For my main course, I decided to go with a small bowl of chili. But not just any chili…

Duck Chili!

Duck is a meat that you don’t see quite as often as the run of the mill chicken, pork, and beef. Its a shame too, because this chili was delicious. The meat had the consistency of slow roasted, melt in your mouth dark meat chicken. The chili sauce was mildly spicy with a strong cinnamon base. Each bite of this chili made me want to have another drink of beer, and each drink of beer led to another bite of chili. They compliment each other well. Normally I would think a combination like Bud Light and Hormel canned chili would be gross, but there is something about the complex flavors of each Dogfish creation that makes it work perfectly.

If there is a lesson to be learned here – try new things! You never know what you might like. More OC meals to come, stay posted.





Thrasher’s Fries

29 06 2010

Its been awhile since my last post here on JCR – but I have been busy trying all new restaurants and other culinary experiences, and now I have plenty of material to share!

I recently came back from a vacation to Ocean City, MD. I ate at many different restaurants, some new and some familiar. When you think of the boardwalk in Ocean City, and you smell french fries, there is only one place to go…

Thrasher’s!

These fries are beautiful works of art in fried potato form. Thrasher’s is a famous site on the boardwalk, known far and wide for their amazing french fries. The company itself knows what they make is good, because they only offer three items on the menu – fries, soda, and water. The fries aren’t cheap either – expect to pay up to $9.00 for a large order (medium pictured above, the large is like a bucket). If you ever plan on visiting Ocean City, the price is well worth it for some of the best french fries you will ever taste.

Thrasher’s fries are meant to be eaten with two toppings – extra salt, and plenty of vinegar.  The combination of these ingredients with the natural flavor of the peanut oil results in a crave-able, salty, rich, and bitter taste that makes you want to reach for more with every bite. When biting into each french fry, I first noticed the saltiness, quickly followed by the warm, nutty french fry flavor, finished with a lingering bite from the apple cider vinegar. After doing some research, I found out that locals prefer to eat the fries in a flat box instead of a bucket, to more evenly distribute the salt and vinegar. Ketchup is completely out of the question with these fries – Thrasher’s frowns upon it and does not offer any in the belief that it ruins the natural flavor of the fries. I completely agree.

If anyone out there is planning a trip to Maryland or Ocean City – give Thrasher’s a try for some of the best fries you will ever taste. More Ocean City culinary adventures soon to follow!





Reese’s Dark Cups

2 06 2010

I visited Hershey Park over the weekend with some friends and caught chocolate fever. After taking a ride through “Chocolate World”, I bought a ton of Hershey candy in the huge gift shop. Given the occasion, it seemed like a great time to post the first candy review on JCR.

Reese’s Dark Cup

Reese’s cups have always been one of my favorite candies. I also prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate, which makes Reese’s Dark Cups a natural selection for me. Hershey’s chocolate is mass produced and not of the highest quality, but it is cheap and accessible. If you read this blog for just a minute or two, with all the value menus and fast food joints, you will know how much I value “cheap and accessible”.

After biting into this cup, I immediately noticed that the chocolate is more soft and chewy than Reese’s milk chocolate cup. I was hoping for a more solid and brittle texture. Nevertheless, the dark chocolate is very rich and buttery, slowly melting in your mouth if you manage to not swallow each morsel right away. This is a very rich candy – I could not handle more than two cups at a time.

One word of advice to those who want to try the Dark Cups – try putting them in the fridge first. They taste better cold, have a slightly firmer texture, and they don’t melt all over your hands.

Reese’s Dark Cups were good, but the low quality dark chocolate used here makes them inferior to the classic taste of the milk chocolate cup. Keep an eye out for more candy reviews coming soon!