Thursday, February 26, 2015

Tonic Restuarant

My friend Matt and I took a day trip to Washington D.C. to visit my friend Parth who attends George Washington University(GWU).

For lunch, Parth recommended that we eat at Tonic Restaurant at Quigley's Pharmacy. Located on the campus of GWU, Tonic Restasurant at Quigley's Pharmacy is a go-to place for GW students to watch sporting events and socialize. In fact, it is the official tater tot sponsor of GW athletics and the GWU Men's Basketball Team.
The bar area included a number of High-Def large screen TVs. 

Mac and Cheese
Parth ordered the Mac and Cheese: Elbow macaroni in a creamy bechamel sauce with pulled pork  and fried onions. The thick, creamy, macaroni joined with the crisp fried onions and tender pulled pork on the bottom made for a heavenly combined flavor. The restaurant gave a very generous portion size for $13 dollars. For the lunch menu, this entree is the best bang for your buck. 
Pan-Seared Salmon
The "Pan-Seared Salmon" caught my eye. This entree was an absolute delight: rich fresh salmon with beurre blanc sauce under tender sautéed spinach and buttery saffron rice. The moist
and tender salmon was cooked to perfection and topped with a savory white cream sauce. Altogether, the salmon with the soft rice, and delectable spinach made for one knockout dish. In this case, this entree wasn't exactly large but quality definitely triumphed quantity. 

Baja Veggie Burger 

Matt ordered the Baja Veggie Burger: veggie patty, grilled avocado, pico de gallo, pepper jack cheese, whole wheat kraiser.  The pico de gallo joined with the fresh avocado and velvety cheese made for a mild flavor. However, the burger itself was incredibly wholesome. The texture of the Baja was superb: crisp lettuce, savoury pico de gallo on a tender burger with a slice of cheese all encompassed in a soft bun. With regards to presentation, the burger would've looked better in a smaller dish. 

Overall, my friends and I had a quality dining experience. I'd recommend this to anyone looking for a great American restaurant in the D.C. area. 

We later went on to explore the American History Museum that day.
Star Spangled Banner Artwork 
Me posing as President

- Charles

Tonic at Quigley's Bar and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Yama Asian Fusion - Ellicott City, MD

Yama Asian Fusion is an new restaurant located in the new Forest Green shopping center on Route 40 across from the Double T Diner.

My mom Lisa and I tried it for lunch recently. 

Check out the ceiling design

It's clear that Yama put considerable thought into the decor that has a modern and futuristic feel reflected in the wall and ceiling art, furniture and lighting. I'd rank the restaurant as one of the coolest designs I've seen.

Bar area

99% of the time, I  order only water at a restaurant. However, when I saw a Virgin Pina Colada on the menu, I made an exception. The mix was thick and sweet with a strong coconut taste but easy to suck through the straw. The only problem I had was the "brain freeze" I got because I couldn't get enough of it and drank it too fast.

The menu has a combination of Chinese, Thai and Japanese dishes to choose from.

My mother ordered sushi - the Sexy Lady Roll,
shrimp tempura, cucumber, avocado, smoked salmon wrapped in soy paper topped with colorful tobiko sauce.

She LOVED the combination of sweet sauce, crunchy cucumber and tempura with the salty, smoked salmon. Like me, my mom loves salmon. Although she really enjoyed this dish, she said the salmon taste was very pronounced. So it may not be good for someone who doesn't love salmon.
I choose the lunch option "any two rolls" and selected the AAC and California Rolls.
It was my first time trying the ACC Roll - a vegetarian roll of asparagus, cucumber and avocado. Both rolls were packed with very fresh ingredients and tender to the bite.

We received complimentary candy after the meal

Between the miso soup (came with the lunch special), sushi rolls and Virgin Pina Colada, I walked out of Yama Asian Sushi stuffed and satisfied. 

My mom was pretty happy too after finding a new favorite sushi roll, Sexy Lady.  

Yama Asian Sushi was a big hit. We are planning on returning with my dad and brother Charles. 
Check out the outdoor seating area in the summer

- Thomas

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holiday Cookies for the Homeless 2014

Before 2015 ended, Charles and I participated in a favorite holiday program -  our 3rd annual holiday Cookies for the Homeless Drive.

Fellow Italian Club members next to the cookie collection box

The Holiday Cookies for the Homeless program is deigned to bring holiday cheer, in the form of homemade holiday cookies, to residents of the Day Resource Center - Grassroots program that provides meals, showers, limited laundry and social services to homeless individuals and families in Howard County, Maryland.

This year we donated 1,300 holiday cookies to individuals and families in our town. With the help of several student clubs - Red Cross, Salvation Army, It's Academic, National Honor Society, Model United Nations and Indian Dance - we were able to increase our donation count from last year and support more people during the holidays. 
Cookies for the Homeless drop off box

Charles and I first participated in the program back in 2011(click here ) when our Grandma Alberta introduced us to the program's founder Lisa Jablonover.

In 2012 and 2013, we got our high school Italian Club involved in the the program (see here) and challenged other school clubs to a bake-off competition.  The winner receives a pizza party courtesy of the Italian Club. (see more here)

This year, Charles and I decided to bake almond snowball cookies and used this recipe here.
Holiday Cookies for the Homeless is a great program. A big shout out to founder Lisa Jablonover - who created a way for our community to do something special for families in need during the holiday. And to our Grandma Alberta for introducing us to Mrs. Jablonover and for baking awesome cookie donations.
Cookie donations ready for delivery
If you or your school club would like to get involved with the 2015 holiday cookie program, let us know and we'll connect you with Mrs. Jablonover.  In the meantime, if you'd like to help Grassroots, contact them here.

- Thomas

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cafe Normandie - Downtown Annapolis, MD

My girlfriend Gracie suggested we eat at Cafe Normandie. Located in the historic area on Main Street, the restaurant is only blocks away from the Governor's mansion, State House and the Annapolis Waterfront. 

Maryland State House

holiday decorations
There was a glass-enclosed fireplace in the center of the restaurant. How cool is that?!

Gracie ordered the tomato mozzarella prosciutto sandwich on a baguette. It was a hit with Gracie.
The bread was incredibly soft and toasty. The prosciutto, tender, the mozzarella, thick and flavorful. The restaurant gave her a sizable (object may appear to be smaller in photo) lunch portion.
I ordered the Trout Almondine, trout garnished with sliced almonds and served with green beans and carrots. This was my first time trying an almondine fish dish and OHHH BOY was it delicious. The trout was buttered and seasoned to perfection. The moist and crispy trout combined with the delectable sliced almonds and fresh vegetables made for one knockout fish entree.  I'd recommend this dish to anyone who likes seafood or almondine dishes. 
For dessert, Gracie and I shared un crepe a la fraise. This crepe is filled with fresh-cut strawberries and whipped cream topped with strawberry sauce and MORE whipped cream! Everything tasted very fresh and wholesome. Gracie said this dish was "berry" GOOD. This dish really does taste as fantastic as it looks!
Gracie and I both ordered coffee 

Gracie is jubilant that she is getting a
refill of coffee


Our waiter Travis was awesome. He had a great sense of humor and offered several suggestions that turned out to be terrific.
The bathrooms were very stylish and I felt obliged to take a picture.


Cafe Normandie Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Johnny's Bistro on Main & Bean Hollow - Historic Ellicott City, MD

Located in the heart of Ellicott City's historic district, Johnny's Bistro on Main is a quaint eatery that serves traditional favorites with a creative twist.  

The restaurant, named after owner and managing partner Johnny Breidenbach, serves rustic sandwiches, paninis, tapas, innovative salads and gourmet pizza "with a creative touch."

I was joined by Gracie on this culinary adventure. We both decided to order a sandwich from "Between the Bread" selections listed on the menu that arrived with skinny fries and a pickle. 

The "It's a Wrap" caught my eye - a grilled Tuscan chicken, fresh mozzarella, sliced proscuitto, mescaline greens, roasted red peppers, herbs and garlic aioli ($9.99).  The saltiness of the proscuitto and seasoned, tender chicken combined with the fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers packed a nice a one-two punch of flavors in my mouth. The ingredients were extremely fresh. I would have preferred less garlic aioli but that's just my preference.  Next time I will ask for the spread on the side.
It's a Wrap 

California Dreaming
Gracie ordered the California Dreaming sandwich - roasted turkey with apple wood bacon, guacamole, lettuce and tomato served on rustic herbed ciabatta ($9.99). It was a hit with Gracie who decided to opt out of the bacon slices. I took a bite and agree. The bread was outrageously good. I could have eaten just the bread and been one happy Dude. 

Creme Brûlée 

For dessert, the "Freshly Made Creme Brûlée with Vanilla Bean" ($5.99) was calling our names from the "Sweet Temptations" menu. We gave it a shot.   Although it was a small portion and we were full from the sandwiches, it was so well made with fresh ingredients and so tasty that we didn't leave a morel.

We continued our evening in historic Ellicott City by walking around the downtown area admiring the antique stores and restaurants all dressed up in Christmas fashion. We stopped into a nearby coffee house (we both have a passion for coffee) called Bean Hollow Coffee and Connections - a cozy vegetarian and vegan coffeehouse/restaurant that serves a ridiculous variety of coffee all day long (up to 10 pm except on Sundays) along with a selection of food including desserts, sandwiches and salads (last order taken at 9:30 pm).

Gracie was filled with mucho happiness from her coffee 

Bean Hollow dressed in its holiday finery

Gracie ordered the Americano- a full-bodied espresso shot poured into a cup of hot water. This coffee keeps the integrity of the espresso taste without the strength of a regular, unadulterated espresso shot. I ordered the triple Americano (an americano with three espresso shots).

Bean Hollow was a terrific place to end our historic Ellicott City journey.

Before the night ended, we took a ride to the Christmas house in the near-by Beaverbrook neighborhood in Columbia, MD to visit the Christmas house at 5034 Durham Rd. 

It looked exactly how I remembered the house - just spectacular with what's reported to be over 200,000 lights.  I think Gracie was impressed too. 

Sadly, we learned from the people we met walking around the Christmas display that this is the LAST year the house will have a big show for the holiday. Read more about the house here  I highly recommend you visit this Christmas light display before it shines no more.

- Charles 

Johnny's Bistro on Main on Urbanspoon

Bean Hollow Roastery & Espresso on Urbanspoon