a guy and a bee

a collection of random thoughts and ideas from me, her, and sometimes us

Tag Archives: hoco

duck fat fries are for real at victoria gastro pub

last night after the circus, bee and i made it over to victoria gastro pub for the first time and it was fantastic. i am sure every other blogger in HoCo and the surrounding region has written a blog about the food so here’s my perspective.

we lucked out when we got their around 6 pm and didn’t have to wait which is unusual since the other few times we’ve tried to go the wait was more than 30 minutes. we ended up sitting out on the heated patio and had a nice time. it was actually warmer out there then it was inside the restaurant.

photo from foodspotting

we started out with the duck fat fries and as i’m sure you’ve heard, they are fantastic. they are rich and deep tasting and the roasted garlic aioli really makes them. not over garlic-y like some things can be. we tried them with ketchup as well and although they tasted good, stick with the aioli.

i got the black angus burger and removed the pickles. i only really like pickle spears, not the slices. normally, i am a ketchup and mustard kind of guy on my burger but just stuck with the aioli as it comes. it was juicy and delicious as all of the pieces worked together to make a great burger. the sweet paprika fries that i got were good, but weren’t as good as the duck fat fries and were slightly overcooked. i didn’t let it ruin my meal though. haha.

bee got the lobster grilled cheese with the spinach salad as her side. at one point in our relationship, we ate grilled cheese every friday night and enjoy a grilled cheese whenever possible. this was probably the fanciest grilled cheese she has had and from all accounts, it was fantastic. how much better can you get than brie and lobster to make a grilled cheese? apparently the spinach salad was also really good. she was a member of the clean plate club at the end of the dinner!

certainly check out VGP (for short) for yourselves, but we will definitely be going back as there were several other menu options that looked great as well as a large brunch menu on the weekends. you can see the menu for yourself on their website.

it was a place on my list of places to eat so not only did we get a great meal, we crossed off a place on the list that i (we) wanted to try. feel free to check out howchow’s articles about VGP too.

hocofood@@@

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mattress capital of the world?

has anyone else noticed recently that columbia seems to be the mattress capital of the world? i hadn’t really noticed this until lately when one mattress store left the columbia crossing shopping center and 2 days later there was another one. maybe the sign just changed and it caught my eye, but after that i started noticing more and more of the these places. there is basically a mattress store in every strip mall if you haven’t noticed. and if there isn’t a mattress store, there is a furniture store that sells mattresses.

is there a need for this many mattress stores and how do they stay in business in a down economy? i know i haven’t bought a mattress in several years and with the price tag on these things, people are more likely to continue to stretch their bucks and not replace an older mattress. am i missing something here and should get a new mattress? i count at least 9 on the yellow pages site and several more in laurel and other parts of the county. i know howard county is big, but i’d imagine there isn’t a need for this many mattress stores.

what am i missing here and why does it seem columbia is the mattress capital of the world?!

hocoblogs@@@

mental note: places to eat

this is my mental note on places to eat. most of them are in howard county but i do venture out of the area to try some places. most recently when we were in towson last month we tried the S&J crab ranch, which was very tasty. if you have any suggestions or feedback let me know. generally, i stick with american or italian food. i’m not really a big fan of spicy food or rice/beans so that ends up cutting out most mexican or asian cuisines. i am sure i will blog about them after i try them as well.

so here’s the list:
hickory ridge grill
victoria’s gastro pub
sonoma’s
2nd chance saloon
cafe de paris
aida bistro
pub dog
venegas prime filet
the corner stable

that’s all i have for now. maybe this will help us not go to the same places all the time!

what’s up with maple lawn?

maple lawn, off of rt. 29

anyone else notice that maple lawn doesn’t seem to be catching fire like expected? built in 2005 and publicized as a mixed use community, it seems like maple lawn hasn’t blossomed like many have expected. as the community grows and more and more move into the area, maybe it will thrive more but as of this point many years later it seems to be lackluster at best.

i recently heard that the AAA offices might be moving out of their location there and back to columbia off of snowden river parkway and route 32. if that happens, it will be another company in the long line of companies that tried to have a location there that have failed. granted, it’s not the greatest economy these days, but match that with it’s location, it doesn’t seem to be drawing many people who don’t live close by. trapeze (correction from wordbones, thanks!!) green turtle, maggie moo’s, a pizza place that i can’t recall the name, and several other restaurants have tried to make it over there and have closed. the latest to close up is pita and rye. although it is believed to be temporarily closed per their website, it isn’t drawing customers to the area. one the bright side, a new harris teeter location opened up awhile back and they added a fast food chain, which should do well because there aren’t many options like that in the area. ultimately, i like the area and hope it does well, but it doesn’t seem to be going that way. we haven’t been to the looney’s that replaced the green turtle yet and weren’t impressed with pita and rye so we’ll see what’s next. that end of the county needs more options in my opinion so when facci and kloby’s, at johns hopkins road, are too crowded there is somewhere else to go eat and shop.

do you visit maple lawn? is it too far from traditional columbia for you to visit? just don’t make it to that part of the county?

hocoblogs@@@

best burgers in HoCo?

if you follow my twitter feed or my check-ins on foursquare, you know i am one for a burger or pizza. easily my top two favorite foods. at lunch today, while sitting at five guys, i was thinking about the best burger in HoCo. we all know that five guys and wendy’s are my favorites for fast food. my love of burgers probably started when i got my head stuck between the rails in the line at the wendy’s on dobbin as a young kid and has continued since then. five guys makes a great burger and has a nice selection of toppings. i usually go with the little cheeseburger. sometimes with bacon, sometimes without. depends on the mood. of course, everyone knows about the bag full of french fries that you get as well.

wendy’s on the other hand has recently changed their burgers to be “hot ‘n juicy” (which they are if you haven’t been lately). i probably end up at wendy’s twice a week. sometimes for a regular meal and sometimes on the weekend for a jr. cheeseburger to go for lunch.

anyway, enough about regular fast food joints. who do you think has the best burger in HoCo? many people would say Victoria’s Gastro Pub, which unfortunately I haven’t been to yet. we’ve tried to go recently but the line was out the door, which isn’t convenient during winter! one of my favorite new burger places is the BGR joint. although it is not a family owned business, they do a make a great burger and have some interesting selections. they are a little pricey though compared to somewhere else you might go. try the sweet potato fries if you go!

(ps… the picture is from Abbey Burger Bistro in Federal Hill. not exactly HoCo, but they have a fantastic burger.)

bee’s first addition to the blog: not a huge burger fan, but with a “guy” who loves them, i have tried to get in the spirit of enjoying them.  my favorite “burger” comes in the form of the sliders at BGR.  perfect for a not burger lover and a lover of miniature foods.

so, what do you think the best burger in HoCo is?

addendum (also from bee):  the BEST side to any burger, in my humble opinion, is the milkshake.  cheeburger cheeburger (which also has great burgers) has the best milkshakes, hands down, in HoCo.  and, if you ask really nicely, they will also do custom orders on their milkshakes.  very nice people they are.

hocofood@@@

food review: always up for pizza

for the last couple of weeks, we’ve been trying to go to coal fire over off of 108. we have been several times and always enjoy it but the last few times we went over there, the wait was over 30 minutes so when we called last night and it was already 25 minutes at 615, we decided to pass. we had decided we were going to go to chicago uno and swing by LL Bean afterwards. bee’s coat got screwed up so she wanted to see if they would fix it. as we left the house, I suggested we try Luna Bella in the hickory ridge village center. we always see it when we go to that village center and hadn’t ever been so we figured now was the time.

luna bella (photo from yelp)

the restaurant is a small and intimate italian place that serves brick oven pizza. it was voted as one of howard county’s best in 2011 for pizza and italian so I was excited to try their brick oven style. after waiting more than the estimated 25 minutes, we finally got seated. I figured it was worth waiting to spend money at a local small business instead of a chain place and the place and line were packed. I saw someone from work who decided to not wait as several others did as well. there were also plenty of people getting carry out.

we started with the fried mozzarella which was a nice size appetizer. it could easily be for 3 or 4, but we just split it for ourselves. haha. bee got the eggplant parmesan and she enjoyed it. I, on the other hand, went for the main attraction, pizza. I’m always one for a meat pizza and went with the Pizza Carne. a nice blend of pepperoni, sausage, salami, and canadian bacon. the crust was a little thicker than I expected for brick oven pizza but it was crispy and held all the toppings nicely. they offer their pizzas in 10 or 12 inch and have several prepaid options as well as the choose your own toppings. the gourmet options as they refer to them had a nice variety and also looked tasty. our friend, steve, pointed out that the pizza finito is also real good. meanwhile, the build your own toppings seemed endless. anyway, the pizza and toppings on the pizza carne worked wonders together and i ate the whole thing!

howchow did a post on luna bella a few years ago and had different thoughts on the crust but my experience was that it held up well.

we certainly enjoyed it and will be back to try the other pizzas and menu options. afterwards, we stumbled over to the meadows original frozen custard. it’s a franchised ice cream place but the proprietor of this one is a fantastic guy. we walked in at 810 and they were actually closed, but “since they were there, they were open.” the frozen custard is made fresh daily and they only make select flavors each day so you know it will be good. we ended up getting a cookies and cream ice cream sandwich, which we split since it was pretty large for just $4. well worth it. we’ve been several times and have their club card. if you are looking for a new ice cream place, check it out!

hocofood@@@

no complaints

it’s funny how some days we complain about little things. last week I had a cold and it seems to be lingering a little. that’s neither here nor there as my point was as I was sitting in the Jerry’s Subs and Pizza in Owen Brown, a lady walked by me and I said “hi, how’s it going?” she said “hi, good” back, walked 2 steps turned around and asked if I really cared because she would sit down and tell me. since I tend to believe half the people I see are criminals, I politely declined and told her “maybe tomorrow.” haha. she hadn’t even met me for more than a split second and was all ready to lay her world of problems on me. a minor interaction that was more of a courtesy and a way being polite.

what did she really have to complain about? who knows and I wasn’t interested in finding out. it didn’t actually make a difference to me as we all have our problems but do we really to talk to complete strangers about them? I guess I won’t be asking random people “how it’s going” again. I know I don’t really have anything to complain about. I could complain that work has been slow but then again I am not unemployed so maybe it’s not bad after all. so since we aren’t complaining, I hope you are doing well. bee got a cold after I did so we are working on getting better and being happy with what we have. so why did I write a post about this or is it I am complaining about having no complaints? guess i’ll let someone else decide because i’m not really sure.

our week with lucy

image

for the last 10 days, we have been watching lucy, our friends dog. she is a cute beagle mix that is full of energy.

having never had a dog, bee was a little apprehensive and excited at the same time. i grew up with a sheltie so i’ve always been a fan of dogs and knew what to expect and how to handle it.

we got off to a little of a rough start because lucy hadn’t been away from her parents for an extended period of time and it took the better part of a day to get used to use and not being home. usually they had someone watch her at their house so it was a new environment for her. the first night, she was up and down most of the night and didn’t sleep much, but once she settled in, she was great. she followed us everywhere and wanted to play consistently like most little high energy dogs.

all in all, it was a great week and she can visit any time but i don’t see us getting a dog soon. maybe it was because it was a new place, but she liked to follow us around and get into everything, which didn’t bother us but after a certain point, it got a little old. haha. they were great napping partners while we were off all week. bee also didn’t seem to appreciate that dogs shed everywhere before we got her but she knows now! we are already doing loads of laundry because our blankets are covered in short hair.

all in all, we enjoyed taking care of her, but we were happy to have the house back to ourselves. it was new and different experience and we didn’t kill her so there is that! below are a few photos of her.

lucy and her floppy ear (one ear is always floppy)

playing on the couch

christmas presents

mission accomplished!

last week, bee and i went to to see mission impossible: ghost protocol. we ended up seeing it in IMAX at the AMC in Columbia. i always try to go to late morning or early afternoon movies to avoid large crowds so we found ourselves at the 12:30 showing. it was the first movie theatre visit for bee in at least 2 years and her first time ever at an IMAX showing. we both really enjoyed the movie although her feet didnt touch the floor while sitting all the way back in the chair. haha.

quick review: overall, it was a pretty good action movie and one of the better ones that i have seen lately. they worked in many of the things mission impossible has been known for over the years like face masks. if you are a fan of the series, like i am, you will be pleased with that part. tom cruise continued his role as ethan hunt and was good in this one as well. jeremy renner’s character, william brandt, was weaved into the plot line nicely and without making you question the prior movies or what he was doing there. the other member’s of ethan’s team worked out well and rounded out the story, as well as the bad guy. the story line and the bad guy’s attempt at destroying the world are something we can all see based on the world’s current events and wasn’t as far fetched as it could’ve been. i was a little worried about simon pegg, who played benji dunn, and was the goofy tech guy who couldn’t pass the field ops tests but eventually did after repeated tries. pegg is known more of his comedic value and although he did add a few good jokes every now and then, played the role in the movie well. one thing, i didn’t like was the intro into the movie. as the beginning credits rolled, you basically got to see small clips of the movie throughout intermingled with credits for the actors in the movie. it gave away a little too much of the movie in my opinion.

the movie in IMAX is the way to go if you have one near you and can afford it. we had some gift certificates that bee had gotten from work, so we paid the extra $10 for the IMAX viewing. the sound and the locations of the movie are really enhanced because of it, but i am sure it would look good in standard definition as well.

one hint for families or folks who don’t want to spend a lot on concessions, buy the kids pack. you’ll get a small soda, small popcorn, and fruit snacks for just $6.25 and if you use the bathroom before the start of the movie, you won’t have to get up part way through the film.

hocoblogs@@@

happy holidays!

merry christmas and happy holidays! i know this is a couple days late, but we hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and are ready for the new year. we had a very nice christmas and got to spend some nice time with my side of our family.

we’ve been dog sitting for some college friends of ours so it’s been a different way to spend the week running around playing with the dog. since we are both off all week it hasn’t been too bad to keep her entertained, but as you might expect, she follows us everywhere.

anyway, hope you all have had a great holiday season and preparing for a great 2012. maybe we’ll do a new years resolution blog sometime soon!

 

hocoblogs@@@

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