a guy and a bee

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

Tag Archives: howard county

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@@@

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@@@

where to eat

I don’t know about y’all but it feels like lately we have been eating out more than usual and it is usually the same old haunts every time. This is probably a result of my back injury and my wife being out of town on a semi regular basis for the last few months. It is also partially my fault because I mainly eat American and Italian foods and it’s easy to stick with what you know. I am not a fan of beans or rice really and try to stay away from spicy foods so it eliminates alot of options.

So to try to help spice things up, I am looking for something different than my regular haunts. Any suggestions out there? Preferably in Howard County, but anywhere in the close proximity would be fine. If you follow my blog on its somewhat regular basis, you will know that I am certainly a fan of pizza!

hocofood@@@

no, i wasn’t texting while driving

has anyone noticed that everyone is still texting while driving? last year, maryland took the first steps into the giving out fines for texting while driving, but it was a secondary offense so no one really cared. now this year, back in october, the new texting law went into affect and yet everyone is still texting while driving.

on a daily basis, i see lots of people texting while driving (myself included on occasion). the most interesting person i’ve notice that are texting while driving is the police. all levels of police, local, state, auxiliary, etc. and all the time. i guess no one, including law enforcement, still cares about the new texting while driving law in maryland.

per the baltimore sun politics blog on sept 30th:

Drivers who are ticketed can still choose to accept guilt and pay a $70 fine (plus one point on their license). If the texting leads to an accident, accepting guilt means an automatic $110 fine and three points.
Drivers who contest the tickets and lose in court will be guilty of a misdemeanor and have to pay the full $500.

guess everyone will just plead guilty and not care about the fine/point if they get caught? i’ll pass. not worth the point or the fine.

oh yeah, and don’t forget to watch out for new speed cameras in Howard County! locations are listed on the police website and it’s a $40 fine if caught.

 

hocoblogs@@@

old friends

It’s interesting living in the same community that you grew up in. Although I grew up in Ellicott City and now live in Columbia, we all visit the same places because it’s essentially one in the same in Howard County.

Lately, I’ve seen alot of the people I grew up with. I ran into an old high school friend at Bagel Bin two weeks ago when I was grabbing breakfast randomly on my day off. Then this past Saturday I saw another old friend at the Columbia Mall and we were reminiscing about when we came to the mall as kids and it was the cool thing to do. Now it sometimes seems more like a chore. Interesting how things have changed. She also has 3 kids so things have really changed from when we middle schoolers riding the bus to school.

My mom even went to a baby shower for an old friend of mine whose wife is having their first child next month. All of our close friends’ moms were there updating everyone on each others kids so in less than 2 weeks, I’ve gotten updates on half of the kids I grew up with. With that and my lifelong best friend living in DC, it is a small world.

Unfortunately our 10 year high school reunion got cancelled so I will just have to see all those other kids around town instead.

hocoblogs@@@

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