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Chef Vola's Atlantic City

It's our favorite restaurant anywhere, but I absolutely see claustrophobia and body contact with the folks at the next table being a turn-off for some (for us it's part of the charm).

They definitely aren't getting a "pass" on the fire code--for starters, the front door is NOT the only exit.

Neither claustrophobia nor fear for your safety should be allowed to detract from what should be a great dining experience. If you still have concerns, ask for porch seating when you make your reservation and fuggedaboutit.

May 24, 2013
tubman in New Jersey

Bread baking adjustment suggestions?

I have followed this challah recipe a few times a few times to the letter. The interior of the finished loaves is fine--the resulting crust is too dark and hard for my preference. How should I adjust? Reduce time and/or temperature? Adjust the egg wash? TIA.

Sep 26, 2012
tubman in Home Cooking

BBQ--looking for the best

If you're a food truck fan, definitely recommend Carnivore BBQ (I can only speak for the brisket, haven't tried the pork). Follow their two trucks on Twitter for their ever-changing locations around the downtown area on weekdays.!/carnbbq Coupon usually available on LivingSocial instant deals.

2 different prices on the check - cash or credit card

One of our favorite places (Greek diner type of place) has a big handwritten sign at the register--10% discount for cash. It's been there for years, and they give it as a discount, off the menu prices of their handwritten checks.

I get that CC fees might be 3% and maybe it's worth a point or two more for them not to have to deal with the hassle of CCs. But 10% seems like putting a big "Kick Me" sign on the seat of your own pants for the IRS. Maybe the INS as well given my suspicions about the legal status of some of the help.

Feb 24, 2012
tubman in Not About Food

Adapting bread machine recipes for stand mixer

I have a number of recipes taken from bread machine cookbooks and have been very pleased with the results from using the machine's 90-minute dough cycle and then oven-baking.

My bread machine recently died and I have added a KitchenAid mixer to my arsenal. I realize there are a number of actions I now need to time manually vs. having the machine do the work--but is there any reason why I would want/need to alter quantities of any of the ingredients from the bread machine recipe? TIA.

Feb 24, 2012
tubman in Home Cooking

Chef Vola

Tough question to answer. I've easily been 20 times and there's never been a time that, regardless of the dish ordered, I (and others we've been with) haven't felt that what was served wasn't the best (you fill it in here) they've ever had.

I'm not partial to seafood, but a few seafood dishes that have gotten major raves and repeat requests at our table were Chilean sea bass and snapper. One is in a champagne/cognac cream sauce, the other is macadamia-nut encrusted (I forget which is which). Also shrimp francaise and the crab cakes.

For the landlubber, I love the chicken florentine and the veal chop. I've never had the filet mignon (it's a large one, I think around 12 ounces), but our dining companions haven't been disappointed.

All of these are "specials" they'll read to you, although they seem to have most of them at each visit. The regular menu is less expensive standard Italian fare and the few times anyone I've been with has ordered from there, they were equally satisfied with the basic pastas and sauces. The side order of sauteed spinach with garlic is amazing--but if you go with the chicken florentine, you'll get a ton of it with your entree and the side order is unnecessary.

Desserts--again, it will depend on your preference, and you'll probably leave feeling that if you order XYZ, it will be the best XYZ you've had anywhere. For me, it's either the semi-frozen banana cream or peanut butter pies.

Dress--For the guys (you'll need to figure out the female equivalent), khakis or nice jeans and a collared shirt are fairly standard--you will see an occasional jacket here and there, especially among the more senior patrons. While there is no formal dress code, you may feel underdressed in shorts and a novelty T-shirt.

It is our favorite restaurant anywhere and our 4-hour trips to AC are scheduled around when we can snag a reservation. Fully understand why some don't care for the antiquated table reservation techniques and atmosphere (tables on top of each other, loud) but it works for us. Even among those who find it uncomfortable, there's little argument about the quality of the product served.

May 21, 2010
tubman in New Jersey

Child-friendly dinner near W. 50th & 9th?

Thanks all for your suggestions. Vynl was perfect!

Dec 28, 2009
tubman in Manhattan

Child-friendly dinner near W. 50th & 9th?

Looking for something casual and maybe even fun for a 7- and 10-year-old in advance of a 7 p.m. show.

My only ask is that it's got some breathing room, i.e. seat backs from neighboring tables aren't up against ours.

Dec 18, 2009
tubman in Manhattan

Menu prices: No dollar signs (or worse, words)

Am I the only one who finds this trend incredibly annoying?

Jun 10, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Lahmahcun and pide at Pizza Tempo (Rockville, Kensington)

Fill 'er up!

In spite of living near and driving by the Rockville location daily for a few years, I never heard any word-of-mouth on Pizza Tempo and on that basis wondered how a no-name pizza place sharing a no-name gas station could be any good. In need of some carryout pizza and a fillup, my curiosity got the best of me and I finally stopped in last week to give it a try.

After seeing the menu and Googling the place, it seems to survive on word-of-mouth of the halal community. From a non-halal perspective, I will say that the pizza was as good as any other NYC-style thin crust I've had in the Rockville/Bethesda area and they've been added to my speed-dial on that basis alone.

Looking forward to sampling the rest of the menu based on your recommendation. Thanks for posting.

Potlucks [moved from General Topics]

I too dislike potlucks for the "fear factor" of the unknown, and my office finds an excuse to have them for 200 people perhaps monthly. So I instituted a policy that every dish is accompanied by a 3x5" card with the key ingredients and the chef's name to help accomodate those with religious, dietary or allergy issues (or who are picky like me). And having the name steers compliments to the right person and allows for follow-up questions.

Apr 03, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

What's the deal with Ledo's pizza?

The original Ledo is actually in Adelphi, although it's invariably described as being in College Park or Hyattsville. The word "Pizza" taken from the signage as resolution of a contract dispute with the franchisees, the official name is now Tommy Marcos' Ledo Restaurant. There is no connection between the original and the franchises, other than occasional wrangling by lawyers years after the original agreement from which the franchise organization was born.

Last week, I happened onto a franchise pie at a friend's house, knowing I'd be going to the original a few days later for my annual visit and with this thread in mind. So I made a few mental notes.

After visiting the original, I think the biggest difference is the crust--both are fairly thin, but at the original it has a pastry-like consistency and holds up far better to the toppings, at the franchise it's more like a thin sponge soaking up the sauce and grease. The sauce--slightly sweeter at the original, and more of it on top. Cheese was fairly similar. The pepperoni at the original (mentioned by another poster) is sliced fairly thickly and doesn't curl up, and must be leaner as there is just a drop of grease in the center of each slice. A great pizza, certainly better than the franchise version, which really isn't all that bad on its own merits.

In addition to the pizza, nothing else has changed...the numerous photos of local sports teams through the years hanging on the wall, the mature career serving staff, the dark paneling, the bathrooms with the original 1950s fixtures all add to the atmosphere.

I think it's fair to say that the success of the franchises is based on a customer base who remember the original Ledo as an institution and the shape of the product, if not the exact taste of the pie 20 years out of college. But even if the franchise pie is only half as good as the original--and it is, in my book--I still find it to be an acceptable product.

What's the deal with Ledo's pizza?

I don't think there is any prepared food item that can be judged less objectively than pizza, given that everyone seems to have sentiment for the pies of their past. The Ledo franchises, Syscoized as they are, will always do well because of the sentimental UM alumni in their market in spite of the inferiority of their product to the Adelphi original..

Everyone insists the pizza from their past was the best ever. My wife was part of the Dewey summer group-house crowd for years and still insists on Grotto Pizza whenever we're at the beach; I wasn't part of that crowd and find it decent, but nothing special. But it does hold up well sitting on a counter unrefrigerated overnight.

It is difficult if not impossible to find an ex-pat NYer or Chicagoan who will admit that a pie from anywhere else could be as satisfying. Don't even try to convince them there's a good pizza to be found locally or you'll get an earful.

My own personal sentiment-over-taste-buds gulity pleasure: the Ellio's frozen pizza rectangles that were a staple in MoCo public schools in the '70s.

Coupons with conditions

I'd be horrified if any mention of an expected gratuity ever came out of a server's mouth. But it is worth noting that more and more often, I'm seeing autograts of 18-20% of pre-discounted price included as terms on the coupons themselves, both in Pennysaver-type publications and on

Mar 23, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Coupons with conditions

"If...the server had the nerve to give me 'info' in the form of an admonishment to tip on the full amount..."

Whenever I use a coupon, the servers seem to handwrite the total before discount (with a notation stating such) next to the computerized adjusted total when delivering the check.

While it's obvious why (s)he does this--does this reach the level of an admonishment? Just curious.

Mar 23, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Reading at the table? [moved from Boston board]

I can't see a problem so long as you aren't so into your book that you're oblivious to any waiting patrons (and your server) with the amount of time you're taking. Taking one bite between chapters would boil my blood if I were waiting and waiting on a two-top.

And even if nobody seems to be waiting, I'd tip very well if you're spending substantially more time than you normally would.

Mar 23, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Chinese in Silver Spring

There are some good ethnic dining options in downtown Silver Spring, but Chinese isn't one of them.

Get in the car and drive 10 minutes up Georgia Avenue to Wheaton, where you'll find a good selection of Chinese. My favorite is Hollywood East.

What's the deal with Ledo's pizza?

Reality is that they need to appeal to the masses living throughout a huge viewing area, and mom-and-pops with one location aren't readily accessible to most of their audience. But most of their viewing area is within 10 minutes of a Ledo or Armand's.

That's just the way it is. Washingtonian Magazine's "Best Of" lists are far more realistic for those willing to travel an hour or more for a really good mom-and-pop pizza or burger.

Looking for good BBQ or subs for 200

"If you plan it right, you'll spend about 30% less than buying them in a restaurant."

That's way low. Just buying the sandwich platters from Costco (or BJ's or Sam's if they have them as well) will easily save you 40% vs. a restaurant. Making them yourself, more like 60%.

If you make your own, you're also saving 6% sales tax you'd be paying for pre-made sandwiches.

For 200 people, main course subs are doable for $400 if you make your own with ingredients from a wholesale club. You'll be paying no less than $1000 + tax for pre-made subs from a decent sandwich place, or bulk BBQ (pulled pork, chicken, brisket) and buns from a place like RH&B.

Credit card security on receipts?

"Visa and MC mandate that the whole number is not on EITHER copy. "

Somehow this mandate DH cites by the world's two largest credit card processors, affecting hundreds of millions of daily transactions with nearly every business in the U.S., has managed to escape the attention of the entire worldwide web.

So here are the facts as I leave this thread. I welcome DH or anyone else to provide a link to an official source that refutes any or all of these:

Credit card truncation of the *merchant copy* is not required by VISA/MC.

Credit card truncation of the *merchant copy* is not required by FTC regulation.

Credit card truncation of the *customer copy* is required by FTC regulation.

Credit card truncation of the merchant copy is currently required by law in California, Colorado and Tennessee--and as of July 1, 2009, Alaska. But that is a function of *state law*, not FTC or VISA/MC regulation.

Thank you--don't forget to tip your server.

Mar 19, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Credit card security on receipts?

>>BTW- Even the merchant's copy is to be truncated as they are not in compliance with FTC.<<

By all means show me where the law has been changed since 12/1/06.

Otherwise, here's another FTC release

"Several details of the law are worth noting: It applies only to electronically printed receipts, not to handwritten or imprinted ones. And it applies only to receipts you give your customer at point of sale, not to any transaction record you retain. Be aware, however, that when you keep your customers’ personal information — including account data — you have an obligation to keep it safe."

Mar 19, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Credit card security on receipts?

It is federal law that the number be truncated on the customer copy, but it doesn't have to be on the merchant copy.

Just curious for those who scratch out the number on the merchant copy--why do you think you have the right to do this? What is the merchant supposed to do in the event of a data crash if this info needs to be manually reconstructed, or is challenged to provide a receipt in case of a chargeback ?

By this logic, you should be scratching out the routing information and account numbers that appear on the bottom of every check you write. Anybody handling the check can just as easily see the routing and account information (not to mention what your signature looks like) and wreak a lot more havoc on your finances than stealing your credit card number.

The same law that requires the merchant to truncate the customer copy requires them to take appropriate safeguards to protect the data on their copy. If you don't like the law, encourage your lawmakers to change it rather than resorting to vigilantism. If you think a merchant isn't taking the appropriate safeguards or employing dishonest people, either don't patronize them or pay in cash.

Mar 19, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Restaurant Delivery Service in Woodbridge/Dale City?

Does anyone know of a Takeout Taxi-type of operation in that area (one that handles multiple restaurants)?

TT doesn't operate there.


Quick: Need Pizza Screen

J&B on Nebel St. Promotion 80% Discount

Same way they afford to give 2-for-1's and do other couponing promotion. It makes for a very thin profit margin--or even a loss--on your specific visit, but it opens up the possibility that you'll become a regular (without a coupon) or tell a friend or two about your experience.

Restaurants find this better than traditional couponing for several reasons:

Free marketing--I believe lists the restaurant on their website in exchange for keeping everything customers pay for the coupon. And being web-based, there's no printing/distribution costs for anything, unlike traditional Money Mailer 2-for-1 type promotions. The customer pays for paper and ink.

Also, unlike traditional mass couponing which, if successful, might have a 1% response rate, it's a fairly safe bet that every coupon recipient will actually show up to use it since he's paid something for it. Unlike a mass couponing campaign, the restaurant can limit the amount of comps with the specific number of coupons they authorize to sell.

The requirements of the coupon, whether it forces you to use it on a slower night or spend a minimum amount, also are good for overall business.

Mar 04, 2009
tubman in Not About Food Promotion 80% Discount

suburban DC

Mar 02, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Substituting yellow onions for red

Thanks--it's all being sauteed for lunch an hour from now.

Just thinking there might be an extra spice to throw in to compensate, not sure what I might be missing with cooked red vs. yellow onions.

Feb 27, 2009
tubman in Home Cooking

Substituting yellow onions for red

My grocer is out of red onions called for in a recipe and I don't have time to go to another.

I bought some yellow onions instead--any recipe modifications you can suggest to account for the switch? Or just let it ride? TIA.

Feb 27, 2009
tubman in Home Cooking Promotion 80% Discount

Not trying to rain on anybody's parade here--but this isn't the first time they've been 80% off, and my guess is it won't be the last. discounts are typically greater later in the month, EVERY month. This gives them a better shot at selling the maximum # of coupons they've contracted for with each of the restaurants listed. I suspect in this economy, you'll see 80% off at the end of every month for the forseeable future.

Unfortunately, coupons for the more desirable restaurants with the least-onerous restrictions get sold out early in the month when discounts aren't as good. I wouldn't touch any of the coupon offers currently available in my area with a ten-foot fork.

Feb 27, 2009
tubman in Not About Food

Is it possible to have good crabs in the Winter?


Is your issue that they're coming from out of the area, or specifically from Texas?

So long as the Chesapeake crab population remains at historic lows--even in season--establishments providing out-of-town blues are among the "good guys" in the long-range effort to save our local crabs.

And, so long as a blue is cooked live, you should find no discernible difference between a blue caught locally vs. one imported from the South..