Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cheeseboy - Boston, MA

I traveled to Boston recently to participate in the Harvard Model United Nations conference with my school team. During the conference, my roommates and I explored the Prudential Center where we found Cheeseboy, a small eatery known for its grilled cheese sandwiches.

True to its name, Cheeseboy serves up fresh grilled cheese sandwiches such as the Chipolte Chicken and Roast Chief along with soups, mac and cheese and breakfast sandwiches. 

They're known for quick service, affordable prices and natural ingredients that includes breads made without the use of any artificial preservatives, flavorings or dough conditioners. 

I ordered the Turkey Clubhouse - all-natural turkey, thick-cut hickory bacon, muenster cheese, and dill pickles on all-natural artisan white bread. It was a healthy portion of turkey, savory bacon, velvety  cheese, and succulent dills. 

Service was super-quick and friendly and you basically watch the employees prepare your sandwich right in front of you!

Cheeseboy is so popular it has already expanded to locations in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

 Check out their story in the video below.

- Charles

Cheeseboy on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Petit Louis Bistro (Le Comptoir) - Columbia, Maryland

We've followed all the hype about Petit Louis Bistro, celebrity chef Cindy Wolf and Tony Foreman's new restaurant in Columbia. Authentic French cuisine and a lake front location makes it the right combination for the title of new Howard County sensation.  Since our travels to Quebec, Montreal and Paris, we have developed an appreciation for french foods. Therefore, we were eager to try this new restaurant.

On a recent Saturday morning, my family arrived at the restaurant close to 10 a.m. where we learned the restaurant doesn't open until 10:30 a.m.. So we wandered around the lakefront for 30 minutes. It was really cold outside and we did consider eating at Clyde's since it was open and didn't look busy, but we held out and returned to Petit Louis at 10:30 am - where we waited another 5 minutes in the cold for them to open the doors.

We ate in the little cafe called Le Comptoir that is attached to the main restaurant. It has huge glass windows that makes it easy for people to see in and employees to see out of.  We weren't happy that the employees could see us freezing outside and didn't bother to let us in until 10:35 am. It would have been nice if they let us in, even if they weren't exactly ready for us.

We didn't get a warm welcome once we were inside either. It was like attending a funeral. The place was dead silent. If you made one sound it resonated throughout the whole place which is tiny to begin with. It would have been nice to have french music playing.

Equally as awkward, Charles and I weren't sure how to order our food. Should we sit down and wait to be served or order at the counter?  We had to ask the people behind the counter who were busy preparing things. We learned we order at the counter, find a seat and then come back to the counter to get our food and drinks when it's ready.

Brioche a la Cannelle and Pain Au Chocolate 
So, what to order? We were hoping to see a huge display of French pastries like the ones we remembered from our trip to France or Quebec or even at french pastry shops in Washington, DC like Paul's. Although there was a small
  selection, they were nicely displayed.
Quiche Lorraine and Quiche Aux Legumes 

Charles and I each ordered one chocolate croissant ($3.25 each) and shared a brioche ($3.75). No drinks, just water. Both pastries were small portions, yet good but not outstanding.

My mom ordered a Cafe Au Lait ($5.50) and a Quiche Lorraine ($9.50) to share with my dad. He ordered a regular American coffee. She loved the Cafe Au Lait but said it was a small portion. Alternatively, the quiche was on the larger side. When ordering it, the counter person told my mom that she could not make the quiche hot "or it would ruin the consistency of the object."

But she would warm the quiche slightly in a microwave, but only upon request, which she requested. Unfortunately, it was a very thick quiche so the middle was cold while the outside was a little warm.  Although it was tasty, she probably wouldn't order it again. My dad's American coffee wasn't very strong, but the counter person did warn him about this.

We were still hungry after our pastries so we each ordered a Jambon ($8.75 each) - a buttered baguette with ham and cornichons (pickles). Again, the portion was small. Then, if that wasn't enough the baguette was very chewy. We had to tug with our teeth several times to take bites out of this sandwich.

So, here's our summary. We wanted to LOVE this place, really LOVE it, but we couldn't. Everything was small in this cafe - the tables, the selection, the portions, the service. The only thing that was large was the quiche and the prices. After spending about $47 for breakfast, we went home still hungry. Our parents were not happy about that.

To be fair, we will need to try the main restaurant for a better assessment. However, our initial outing to the cafe doesn't make us want to run back. For now, sadly, au revoir Petit Louis.

- Thomas

Petit Louis Bistro & Comptoir on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 3, 2014

Bean & Burgundy Bread - Ellicott City

My family (minus Thomas who was away on a school trip) ate breakfast on a Saturday morning at the new Bean &Burgundy Bread Restaurant in Ellicott City.  The first thing that struck me was the enormous open feel of the place  - high ceilings, various seating (booths, tables, single window seats) and an open kitchen with a floor to ceiling glass wall. 

When we entered, we noticed a hostess stand (next to a giant knight in shinning armor). There was no one there (the hostess arrived later) so we were a little confused about where to go first.  But we figured it out by walking passed two enormous dessert glass cases to the ordering counter. There we viewed the breakfast menu posted on wall mounted flat screen monitors.

The only thing that wasn't posted on the menu monitors were the drinks. That was posted on menu boards behind the dessert counter. There were a huge variety of hot and cold drink combinations to choose from.

After we placed our order and found a table, I checked out what was happening in the open kitchen. I thought they must be proud of their kitchen if they're willing to showcase it to their customers. It was very cool that I could watch my meal being prepared.

Before I got back to my table, my dad's coffee and my mom's tea arrived in big oversized cups. My dad said it was one of the best cups of coffee he's had in a while. My mom liked her herbal tea too.

Then our breakfast arrived at our table. 

My mom ordered the Signature Omelette - bulgogi beef, zucchini, mushroom, spinach, eggplant, carrot, and provolone. She normally doesn't order meat with an omelette but since the bulgogi is featured prominently on their lunch menu, she decided to try it. She LOVED it. The Asian spices in the thinly sliced beef and vegeatbles created a nice balance with the egg.  The omelette was accompanied by average homefries (needed more oil, butter or onions) and toasted bread but we had to ask our server for butter. 
BBB Signature Omelette 

In heaven eating BBB French Toast 
I ordered the french toast.  It's not on the menu. I saw it posted on Instagram and asked if it was available.

It was an experience in itself. The presentation of the french toast topped with fresh raspberries, a little spearmint, and the custard sauce was mouthwatering. The moist, soft, and rich texture of the bread coupled with the sweet custard sauce provided for one of the best french toast dishes I've ever had. 

The only negative (and I mean ONLY) is this dish is on the smaller size.  I could have easily eaten two orders.

sunrise bacon sandwich 

My dad got the sunrise sausage breakfast sandwich - egg, american cheese and whole grain bread.

In addition to the french toast (I was really hungry), I ordered the sunrise bacon
breakfast sandwich- american cheese, egg, and bacon.

Both were good but could've used more flavor.
sunrise sausage sandwich
I think a bit of butter and seasonings would have made this sandwich moist and flavorful.

Overall, this restaurant is awesome.

The space alone makes it a really cool place to hang out in. We thought some of our dishes were home runs while others were just good. We will definitely come back to try lunch and dinner.

- Charles

Bean & Burgundy on Urbanspoon

Bean & Burgundy Bread
9469 Baltimore National Pike
Ellicott City, MD 21042

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We're in Catonsville Life Magazine

Catonsville Life Magazine 

Check out our review of Grilled Cheese & Company in Catonsville Life Magazine.  

The magazine asked us to review more Catonsville restaurants.  So, we'll be visiting more restaurants and eateries there.  

Let us know if you have any favorite Catonsville spots for us to visit.  

- Thomas 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Brio tuscan grille - Baltimore

Brio written on their plates. Very cool!
Located near Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Brio tuscan grille is an Italian restaurant that has great water views. I first stumbled upon this restaurant when I spent a weekend at the Johns Hopkins Model United Nations Conference in Baltimore. With approximately 1,600 students from around the world attending the conference, we ate at various places in the downtown area.

Upon first glance, the restaurant seemed somewhat upscale but it still maintained a cozy feeling with its wooden tables, oversize booths, a high ceiling, and well lit rooms.

The first food that came to our table was complimentary bread  - a basket of average Italian bread and a tray of seasoned flat bread. The flat bread was tasty enough by itself but was even more sublime when I stroked it with butter.

Next, our main entrees arrived. I ordered the crab and shrimp cakes lunch with 2 cakes.  You can order a third cake but it costs more.  I usually only order crab cakes, so the shrimp and crab combo was an interesting twist - moderately moist and well seasoned with herbs and spices.

The dish was paired with side of roasted vegetables and crispy potatoes. The medley consisted of roasted broccoli, carrots, red bell peppers and squash.  The only downside about this dish is its relatively small portion, so if your starving, I wouldn't recommend eating this dish.

My lunch was $16 which is more than I normally spend for lunch. However, all of the restaurants around the Inner Harbor are more pricey that a neighborhood joint.

My Model UN friends ordered dishes like the chipotle chicken and bacon panini with tuscan fries and the ravioli di bello. My friend who ordered the panini said his dish was "huge and I don't think I can finish it."

I would definitely eat at Brio again but would try a different meal - most likely a panini.


Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 31, 2014

Improving School Food - Cafeteria Connection

Howard County student leaders meeting 

Thomas attended a meeting recently where school officials asked a group of student leaders their opinions about the school food program.

There was no shortage of opinions about what students want to eat in the school cafeteria. Among the top suggestions were adding more healthy foods, grab-and-go options (to avoid long food lines) and vegetarian selections.

We agree with these suggestions and have a few more of our own.

Thomas speaking at the meeting 
So, when we heard about the White House Student Film Festival we thought, why not make a film about how we can improve the school lunch for every student, not just students in our county.

The White House Film Festival theme is technology - how it is currently being used in schools and how it can aid education in the future.  Our film focuses on technology in the cafeteria and how it can be used so students can practice the nutrition education they learn in class.

So, here's our White House short film, Cafeteria Connection

If you have any ideas on how to improve school lunch or breakfast, let us know.

- Charles