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Red Velvet Cake?

Dutch process is getting more difficult, but my local grocer still has it. It looks to be available at amazon and at too.

Jul 07, 2011
woot4fun in General Topics

Red Velvet Cake?

It is probably that you haven't had a great piece of cake. For me the color is not such a big deal, but I really like the slightly tangy twist on a chocolate cake. I love Alton Brown's version on the food network website. Make one yourself. Decadent.. Delicious..

Jul 05, 2011
woot4fun in General Topics

Looking for excellent (better than just "good") BBQ ribs in the Herndon, Centreville, Chantilly area

I love Williards for the pulled pork and their side dishes, but the ribs are a bit of a disappointment to me. They tend to run a little dry and and they have the "over processed", packaged taste. Not sure I am describing it well. There is plenty to like, ribs are not it for me.. I used to eat here twice a week when I worked in chantilly.

Volt, Restaurant Eve, or???

I went to Volt Table 21 and it was really good but Table 21 is a really tough seat to get. For the money it is an amazing value too, but to get a friday with just 4 weeks to go will probably be impossible.

Within 10 minutes of Dulles are a few really nice restaurants (not of the Volt or Eve caliber) but excellent food for the money too. Both are "chains" but smaller chains. I would strongly recommend SweetWater Tavern in Sterling VA. They have a number of dishes that are just plain amazing. My favorites are the Crab Fritters, the Roasted Half Chicken, and the Bread Pudding. Excellent food, in a casual environment. They have a sister restaurant (part of the chain) called Jacksons in Reston. Also in Reston, again a casual place, but still world class would be Rio Grande Cafe.

For a real special event restaurant, easy to get to from Dulles you could also go to L'Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls (although again a Friday reservation might be tough).

Rio Grande Cafe
231 Rio Blvd, Gaithersburg, MD 20878

August Restaurant Week 2010

You nailed it.. $4 is too much for iced tea..

August Restaurant Week 2010

We went today to Art and Soul for the RW lunch. My biggest objection was the $4 fee for iced tea. Other than that lunch was really good. We had the Gazpacho (thin and loaded with garlic - nice lumps of crab meat) and the Ribs for the first course. The ribs were the best of these two. The ribs were very crunchy and the sauce was nice.

For the Main course I had the fried chicken with mashed potatoes and sausage gravy and yes it is that good. Moist and crunchy and full of flavor. Mashed potatoes were a little creamy for my taste but were full of butter and very yummy. Not too much gravy but it didn't need it. My daughter had the blackened cat fish. It was served with config fingerling potatoes, mushrooms and pickled beans. The catfish was spicy, cooked just right, nice and moist. I didn't really like the pickled wax beans with the potatoes.

Finally the dessert was small but good. We had the bread pudding and the cheesecake. Neither was "amazing" but they were both tasty.

Lunch was served with a big basket of light and fluffy corn muffins. Cudo's to the cook for not adding lots of sugar to them. I hate "candied" cornbread.

Art Smith himself had just arrived and was having lunch on the pooch patio. He was dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. We bugged him for a picture when he got up and he was very gracious and took one with us. He also didn't rush us away chatting for a few minutes. He took a pass through the restaurant between courses and stopped at a number of tables and chatted.
Other folks claimed that the service was a little anoying at times, we didn't have this issue. Our waitress did a great job.

I would go again for a special deal. I don't know if I would go for a regular priced meal. The lunch fried chicken is on the menu for $16.

With taxes, tags and tip it was a $64 lunch (yikes)..

Art and Soul
415 New Jersey Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20001

What's the best dish you've ever eaten at a chain? What surprised you most?

I am sure people will scream, but the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes at Cheesecake Factory are to die for. Simple corn cakes with salsa verde, an orange southwestern sauce, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, sour cream. yum yum..

I have made the copy cat recipelink and it comes pretty close, but it is a ton of work, so it is worth it just to buy them..

Jul 20, 2010
woot4fun in Chains

Best Food Finds at Costco Part 2 6/10

I just got the Cindy's Kitchen Mango Coconut & Pepper Sauce. I used it with some flash fried shrimp and it was very good. Just enough kick to offset the sweetness of the mango. Now that I have this huge bottle of the stuff I am trying to think of new ways to use it. I am going to marinate some chicken in it and serve it grilled over coconut rice later this week. Any other ideas?

And CindyJ is right, the boneless short ribs are phenomenal. Roll them in your favorite rub and place them on a skewer for instant kabob.. Approximately $5/lb for tender, fatty and flavorful beef. Be sure to read the label because they have hanger (or flap) steak similarly packaged. This is good too, but doesn't have the same fat content and will get real tough if you overcook it.

Jul 20, 2010
woot4fun in Chains

Wegmans in Germantown

There is a sign up on Ridge Road/27 now looking for new tenants to join Wegmans.

Red Velvet Cake at Los Feliz Costco

We purchased one of the monster cakes based on the early glowing reviews, and... It is a far cry from mine..

The serious deficiency (in my humble opinion) is that the icing is not true cream cheese frosting. Maybe they supplemented, as others have suggested with a little cream cheese, but to me it was a factory produced regular white frosting. My grandma always made it with cream cheese frosting, and so did my mom.. I am surprised because the frosting is so easy to make.

My wife loves red velvet cake and I thought this was going to be a short cut. Even with teenagers in the house we ended up throwing away half.

It's not bad, it just isn't what we normally expect from red velvet cake..

Apr 08, 2010
woot4fun in Chains

St. Augustine/Ponte Vedra area -- Restaurant suggestions????

Nineteen at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse was really really nice. You can get a certificate for $50 off of a $100 dinner for just $4 (today - and you must agree to a 20% tip on the total). The menu is a little on brief side, but dinner was beautiful and tasty. They have a higher end restaurant in the clubhouse called traditions, but it is not covered by the coupon.

Feb 24, 2010
woot4fun in Florida

Sterling/Route 7 Restaurants

Sweetwater Tavern is one of my favorite restaurants. See the post..

Great American Restaurants - Sweetwater Tavern

Sweetwater tavern is a branch of the amazing Great American Restaurant (GAR) chain. They have a brief menu and it is all good. I ate there again last night for my birthday and dinner was spectacular, again.

They make a half chicken with mashed potatoes and "brown butter sauce" that is to die for. The chicken has been cooked in a smoker and is juicy and tender, semi boneless. Then there is the brown butter sauce, be sure to ask for extra. It is nothing short of amazing. My kids will keep dipping their fingers into the sauce just to get a taste of it, after the chicken is long gone. Best part, this entree is only $13.

Other amazing dishes include anything with beef. The drunken rib eye is soaked in beer for a long time and then grilled to perfection. The taste is unique and great, the texture of the steak can be a little off after all that time in the beer, but it sure is good. At lunch, and usually only at lunch, they have fillet tips in tequila lime sauce over penne pasta. According to our server, as they hand trim the fillets for dinner they will have some leftover pieces and this was their answer about what to do with the pieces. It is heaven on a plate, great sauce, delicious beef flavor from the little bites of fillet. My boss, who only went there because I forced him (he hates "chain restaurants") said it was the best dish he had ever eaten.

They may be a chain, but they are an amazing chain. I highly recommend any of the GAR restaurant family (Carlyle Grand, Mikes American Grill, Coastal Flats, Sweetwater Tavern for sure). I have been going to Carlyle for 25+ years and was worried that expansion would hurt the quality, and if anything things just keep getting better. I just wish they would expand into Maryland.

Chains you wished you had in the USA

There was one that we frequented a lot when I was installing equipment in Germany called Nordsee. They are an upscale seafood counter with options from Salads, Soups, Baked and Fried fish.

Apr 10, 2009
woot4fun in Chains

Pulled Pork?

If you need a lot, make it yourself. A huge pork shoulder can be had for approximately $1.50/lb at either costco or sams. Coat liberally with yellow mustard, salt and pepper. Wrap loosely in foil, so some of the liquid can drain away and bake for hours at 225 degrees. I usually let it go until the internal temp is 180 with thermometer and remove/open the foil to get some burnt ends too. Then let it continue to cook until 205 degrees. It will be perfect and will fall apart.

Both Sams and Costco also sell bulk prepared pulled pork. Sams has one in the refrigerated section, but this has a vinegar sauce mixed in. Costco sells a frozen bulk pulled pork "Curly's" is the brand I believe.

Regional Fast-Food Chains

Menu Photo

Dec 08, 2008
woot4fun in Chains

Regional Fast-Food Chains

No, and I don't think it is on the menu now. You have to ask for it. Sort of a secret menu item.

Dec 08, 2008
woot4fun in Chains

Where are the Region's Best BBQ Ribs?

Don't bother with the ribs at Willard's. Their pulled pork is very very good. Their side dishes are also very good, but the ribs have been dry and have a funny after taste for me. I have been to willard's dozens of times, and the company I work for would cater their food in 3-4 times a year. In every single case when I tried the ribs they were a total let down.

Favorite Side Dishes: Dirty Rice, Spicy Green Beans, Mac and Cheese, Cole Slaw

Best food buys at Sam's club.

I am a member at both Costco and SAM's. in the last 12 months I think I was purchasing more of my groceries at SAM's than Costco. Costco has been moving in a trend to use a Kirkland brand of everything rather than using a name brand. Examples of this change are the pre-cooked bacon and the mexican cheese. Costco has gone to a house brand for both. Sam's uses Hormel Black Label for the bacon and Kraft (in smaller bags) for the shredded mexican cheese. Meats are about the same at both, but I feel the selection is a little better at Sam's and I think the prices are a little lower. The Sam's Club in Frederick MD, has a second brand of boneless skinless chicken, for example that is usually less than $2/lb. Sam's also has some items I don't usually find at costco, like bags of shredded cabbage for cole slaw, pre-pounded "even cook" frozen chicken breasts, they also have 20 oz Coke/Diet Coke in bottles.

Other favorites: Jimmy Dean Fresh Sausage rolls and patties
Canadian bacon (2lb roll)
Large bags (5lb) of pasta (pene, egg noodles)

That said I feel that Costco continues to come out with newer product so I find my self alternating now between the locations.

Finally, it's not a food buy, but we always get the box of POM toilet paper. Rolls are individually wrapped in paper not plastic and the box is much easier to store and stack, plus the box recycles.

Oct 15, 2008
woot4fun in Chains

Please...Crab help

It is a ways from Baltimore, but a pretty good deal. Liberty Road Seafood and Steak, in Libertytown (near Frederick) offers All You Can Eat Blue Crabs with fries, cole slaw, hush puppies and a tomato based crab soup for $25 per person (Sunday, Tues-Thursday).

I have had them twice this year and the crabs were fresh, meaty and perfectly cooked, easy to eat.

I believe that the special only runs through the end of October.


Yes it is a chain, Yes it is owned by Outback, but I think all that gives them is deep pockets.
I have eaten at the Roy's in Oahu (Hawaii Kai, Ko Olina and Waikiki Beach) and in Kauai. I am pretty sure that all the units in Hawaii are still managed by Roy himself. The menu in Hawaii has a number of "classics" like meatloaf and others. Some of the fish entrees are also offered in a half sizes which I have not seen on the mainland.

On the mainland I find you get some creatively prepared food. I think their non traditional sushi is some of the best you will ever have in a chain restaurant. Chain or not, the sushi was started in their Las Vegas location and the sushi chef there has trained many of the sushi chefs working in their locations.

Yes it is a chain but I think of it as a chain with a heart. I have had some bad nights when they were slammed (Baltimore for example) and the management has always made it right.

I think that it may not be the same as you get at the original locations in Hawaii, but it is really good for something I can get to without a 12 hour plane ride.

Oct 14, 2008
woot4fun in Chains

Banana Cream Pie

Emeril makes the most amazing banana cream pie for their new orleans fish restaurant in Vegas. They use graham cracker with mashed banana in it for the crust. It's $9/slice and worth every penny. When I worked on the strip I would have a bread, a bowl of lobster bisque and a slice of pie for a $20 dinner.

Recipe can be found on food network.

Sep 29, 2008
woot4fun in Home Cooking

Costco - Frozen USDA Prime Bone-In Rib Eye - $10/lb

My local Costco in Maryland is now stocking a vacuum packed pair of USDA Prime steaks for $9.99/lb. This is about half the price of many of the mail order steaks, and just a few dollars more than the fresh USDA Choice steaks in the meat case.

I have only tried them once, they were well trimmed and beautifully marbled. They were very tasty, even after being frozen. Anyone else tried them? What did you think?

Sep 23, 2008
woot4fun in Chains

Bean cramps


If you're bothered by gas when you eat beans, try this simple cure for your problem. Put the beans in a large pot and cover them with water. Bring them to a boil and take them off the heat. This breaks the capsules surrounding the beans and allows stachyose, verbascose and raffinose, the gas-causing sugars, to escape into the water. Stir a teaspoon or so of baking soda into the water (to make it more alkaline) and let the beans soak overnight. Drain the soaking water off the beans and rinse them several times. (If you eat the soaking liquid, you will cause unbelievable discomfort for yourself and those around you). Then proceed with your recipe to cook the beans.

--- Save your money on the beano. This works great and will tend to soften them up a little more.

Sep 23, 2008
woot4fun in General Topics

Outback Steakhouse **** out of ***** [DFW]

Any restaurant with 1300+ locations and serving $4B per year in meals is bound to make a mistake every now and then. People are a huge cog in the wheel that makes a restaurant work, and people have good days and bad days. That said Outback is my favorite restaurant "chain". I travel almost every week and can report remarkable consistency from location to location nationwide.

The recent introduction of the $9.99 meal deal was a pleasant and welcome surprise. If you haven't tried it, try the broccoli with lobster butter as one of your two sides (yum). Rich, add very bad for you, but better than the steak.

Sep 04, 2008
woot4fun in Chains

Best tea for ICE tea

I too purchase Luzianne Decaf Family sized. I use 3 for a half gallon pitcher. I also like to use water from the brita pitcher both the boiled water and the cold.

I sweeten with 1 tbsp of bulk sweet & low. I used to make both sugar and sweet & low for family events and the sweet & low always goes first.

Jun 20, 2008
woot4fun in Home Cooking

What can I add to a cold watermelon soup to make it more savory?

I usually allow the watermelon to loose some water by placing chunks of the fruit into a colander and salting it very lightly. Then let it sit and drain for a few hours before making the puree. It doesn't add to the savory but does help with the thin..

Jun 20, 2008
woot4fun in Home Cooking