Friday, January 5, 2018

Bonchon Chicken - Ellicott City, Maryland


Bonchon Chicken is a Korean restaurant known for its signature fried chicken items - wings, drums, and strips. The restaurant chain, with locations worldwide ranging from the Middle East to East Asia, also serves a variety of Korean dishes such as tteokbouki, bibimbap, and bulgolgi. 
The entrance




Sleek black booths and tables, flat screen televisions, and a high ceiling give the place a modern allure. I particularly liked where my friends and I sat, a big booth next to the window where we all had plenty of space.
 Wings: spicy (left), pickled radish (middle) and soy garlic (right)

Scott and Anthony


My friends and I decided to share two orders of 30 piece wings. The wings come in two flavors, soy garlic and spicy, and are served with a side of pickled radish. It's cool that you can customize the wing order - any combination that you like ranging from half and half to only soy garlic or spicy. We selected 25 soy garlic and 5 spicy wings.




The soy garlic wings tasted incredibly savory. We liked how the wings were distinctively crispy on the outside, which gave it a slight crunch when you bit into it. The wings have just the right amount of sauce glazed on the skin; it's a goldilocks state where it does not feel like the wings are too saucy nor barely tasty due to a lack of sauce. Simply put, these large wings were an exceptional entree for any chicken wing connoisseur.

The spicy wings are definitely a stark contrast to the soy garlic wings; these wings are on the complete opposite spectrum of the tangy soy garlic wings. Although the texture is the same as the aforementioned soy wings, these wings are packing heat. There is a delay between when you taste the zesty flavor and hotness after taking the initial bite. I tried two of these wings one right after the other and seriously underestimated the overall heat when it hit me. I'm not the biggest fan of hot wings, as I prefer either mild or sweet, but they are differently worth trying if you're up for the challenge.


Friends and I sitting in one of Bonchon's big booths

Overall, my friends and I were stuffed after eating a total of 60 delectable wings. Although pricey at a total bill of approximately $17 per person, I thought it was a fun experience with my friends that I would try again and recommend to other groups alike.



- Thomas Regnante

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Shake Shack - Columbia, Maryland


Today, I was invited to a complimentary preview meal at Shake Shack, the newest restaurant at the Mall in Columbia. Located in the corner space formerly occupied by Champs, Shake Shack officially opens on Wednesday, December 20 at 11 a.m.  

The American eatery, known for its burgers and shakes, held this private event to introduce their menu to the community and as a fundraiser for Howard County's Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center: a nonprofit organization that provides crisis and suicide intervention programs and shelter and assistance for the homeless.

I met Grassroots board members
Wanda King (middle) 
and Carol Ann Smith (right)

 festive holiday lights above the ordering station


Shake Shack started in New York City as a Madison Square Park hot dog cart. As news spread about the cart, its popularity grew. In 2004, the company opened a permanent kiosk in the park and continued to expand its presence and menu. Today, there are over 150 restaurants worldwide - including the Columbia location.

The first thing that caught my eye when I walked into the Columbia store was the clean, industrial feel. With its high ceilings, stainless steel signage and floor to ceiling windows, the restaurant has a hip and modern vibe.

Visitors can view the menu on oversized menu boards located perpendicular to the order counter. Expect to find traditional burger joint items - five burger choices including a vegetarian option (portobello mushroom), a chicken sandwich, three hot dog choices and an array of shakes and frozen custards treats.
High ceiling and open space 










I ordered the ShackStack burger (cheeseburger and a ’shroom burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and shacksauce), crinkle cut french fries, and the salted caramel milkshake.

My mom ordered a ShackBurger (cheeseburger topped with tomato, lettuce, and shacksauce) and the Pie Oh My (vanilla custard atop a seasonal pie).






Shack Stack 

The Shack Stackburger is a combo of the 'shroom burger (a crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses) and a cheeseburger.

This burger has a lot going on. You can see from the picture how the cheese oozes on the patty and, when in tandem with the melted cheese from the portobello mushroom, provides a distinct gooey ecstasy of flavor that we all crave in our cheeseburgers. Even though the burger was a little messy due to the cheeses (the wrapping helped assuage this), rest assured that this burger is not greasy.






ShackBurger



My mother ordered the restaurant's staple item - the ShackBurger (but without cheese). It is similar to the Shack Stack except less ingredients. This is a classic. The simple taste of 100% all natural angus beef patty with salt, pepper and shack sauce (a mix of pickle brine, tomato, and mayo that is similar to a chipotle mayo) is perfection. The shack sauce makes this burger for me.


Fries
The fries were a hit with me and mom. Moderately salted, incredibly soft on the inside with a slight (cannot stress how minute this is) crisp on the exterior, and cooked to golden brown. Best part, I can taste the natural potato flavor and not grease. These are the true epitome of fantastic fries; I might even come back just for fries.
Apple Pie Oh My with custard



The Pie Oh My dessert, a seasonal pie topped with vanilla custard, was suggested by the cashier. My mom loves apple pie but was not crazy about this one. It was way more dough than apple by a 3:1 ratio. To make matters worse, the dough was hard to break with a spoon. The custard, likewise, was thick but not heavy on the vanilla flavor.





Salted caramel shake







The salted caramel shake was a knockout with me and my mom. The flavor was intense, equal parts salty and caramel with hints of other spices that we couldn't figure out, but just made it fantastic.
Me with Shack Shack area director Jon Parsonnet

Shake Shack is a great addition to the Howard County restaurant scene. Anyone hankering for American comfort food, this is your place. In addition, the store location next to the AMC movie theatre makes it a great pre or post movie meal.

Bravo Shake Shack for partnering with Grassroots to help our community.


- Thomas





Saturday, June 10, 2017

Milkboy Arthouse - College Park, MD




What recently opened up a month ago in College Park, features live entertainment, and has an odd name? The answer to all three questions is two words: Milkboy Arthouse.





Featuring a performance venue as well as a craft bar in addition to the eatery, Milkboy Arthouse is not just a typical American type restaurant (an understatement to say the least).

The restaurants's two different sections are separated by floor. The second floor is where  MilkBoy arthouse hosts their back room live entertainment (some events may be restricted to individuals 18 years or older or 21 years and older). On the first floor, there is the restaurant and bar section - which I'll be describing for this review.
The bar in the back of the restaurant
Each table receives a bottle
for refills. I just love this
charming aspect! It reminded me
of the restaurant customs in Italy.
Right when I walked in, I was surprised with how spacious the lower eating area was (trust me, this picture is deceiving). Also, the restaurant is extremely cozy, especially on nice and warm summer days when you seek refuge from the blazing heat outside.






Although the current menu lacks a substantial list of options to chose from, keep in mind that the restaurant has just opened and that this is their tentative menu; they'll be expanding their menu throughout the summer and the fall. However, this doesn't mean that their existing items aren't worth your money (far from it). With that being said, Charles selected the turkey sandwich (as a more health conscious option) while I selected the hangover burger (definitely not a health conscious option).


turkey sandwich
 The turkey sandwich consisted of bourbon honey roasted turkey breast, lemon thyme aioli, anjou pears, cherry pepper relish, bacon, and baby greens as well as a side of fries (all sandwiches come with a side of fries). The bread was toasted, and moisted down with the lemon thyme aioli to perfect texture. The turkey combined with pears, and sweet relish packed a powerful punch of flavor. Soft turkey, crispy bacon, delectable greens, subtle pears, and light relish added up to one of the best turkey sandwiches I've ever had. On a side note, the fries were tasty but too brittle for my liking.


hangover burger









The hangover burger was comprised of brisket blend patty, fried egg, smoked bacon, pickled peppers, cheddar, and chili mayo. The first thing I noticed was incredibly soft the burger (as well as every ingredient) was. This burger literally melted in my mouth every time I took a bite. Plus, all the ingredients complimented each other to produce a taste - characterized as an almost tangy flavor - that is the epitome of delicious. What really completes this burger is the fried egg. I can ramble on about how the yolk only slightly oozes when you bite into it, how the fried egg is not too overpowering and doesn't detract from the overall flavor, and how the fried egg contributes to the texture of the burger as a whole. But, you have to actually try this burger to believe me. This is how a burger should be, bravo Milkboy Arthouse!

One happy dude who loves food

Overall, I am infatuated with Milkboy Arthouse! From the atmosphere to the food, I love it all. Caution to any college students in the area though, it is on the pricier side in the $10-$20 range. However, regardless of price, I highly recommend trying Milkboy Arthouse's entrees if you're in the area. Even if you're not in the area, you won't be disappointed if you decide to stop in. 

Also, if anyone decides to try Milkboy Arthouse in the future, let me know what new menu items they have. I would love to come back and give this place a second review!


- Thomas








Monday, May 29, 2017

Big Fish Grill 2.0



Yesterday, we returned to an old time 2 dudeswholovefood favorite, Big Fish Grill, located in Rehobeth Beach Delaware!


I ordered a delicous Alaskan
Pecan Crusted Halibut
topped with lemon cream
sauce with a side of regular mashers,
sweet mash potatoes and
tropical fruit salsa. This generous
piece of Halibut was tender,
savory, and overall scrumptious. In
contrast, the sweet mashed potatoes
as well as the tropical fruit salsa
were a little too sweet for my taste.


My dad ordered the Big Fish Combo, a mixture 
of scalloops, tender cod and stuffed shrimp, 
with a side of homemade tartar sauce. 
The cod was a bit overcooked 
but the scallops and stuffed shrimp
were both cooked to perfection. This 
plate was on the smaller side but my 
dad believes the tasty quality of the dish
made up for its size.




Thomas ordered the Scottish Salmon, grilled with dijon cream and a choice of two sides. The dish comes with two
sides (of which my brother ordered french fries and mushrooms). According to him, the delectable fries combined with mushrooms and tangy salmon were absolutely fanastic together. He would've preferred the dijon sauce to give the Salmon a little kick to the dish but the Salmon was rather tangy instead. 
Also, my brother was saddened to learn the restaurant doesn't offer shoe-string fries anymore.




My Mom ordered the carmelized Scottish
Salmon topped with parmesean cheese.
This dish came with an option of two sides
(of which) my mom selected the mashers
and creamed spinach. "One of the best
pieces of Salmon I've ever had"
- Mama Regnante. The Salmon was tender,
smooth and loaded with a perfect
balance of sweet yet savory
flavor. This set up complimented the thick
creamy spinach and rich buttery mashed
potateos.
  







Big Fish Spotted






Make sure if you eat seafood such as crabs, shrimp or lobster
to use Old Bay! If you live outside of Maryland, you get a pass.
Apparently every Wednesday is Lobster Night!



The 2 Dudes are back and bigger than ever, 

Charles 

Friday, October 14, 2016

The White House Kitchen Garden, Washington, D.C.


Charles and Thomas overlooking the South Lawn
Last week, Charles and I visited Mrs. Obama's White House Kitchen Garden.

As foodies and food bloggers, we have been following the Garden activities since its inception, which dates back to when I was in 5th grade. It was such an honor to see it up close.

                                                                                                       Come along as we share this
extraordinary experience          with you.  
After we passed through security, we walked up the steep South Lawn hill towards the East Wing of the White House. I soon realized that I seriously underestimated its size: the space between the White House and the nearest avenue resembles a park. 

Jacqueline Kennedy Garden
                                                                           


According to the White House Garden Tour book, the grounds were purposely designed that way - "molded into a series of hills that give the impression of a sprawling rural landscape".

Our walk to the Kitchen Garden took us passed the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden located between the First Family's residence and the East Wing. 

This is the stunning view from the South Portico. Look closely
- can you see the Jefferson Memorial dome?

Charles and Thomas in front of the Truman Balcony



















 



We continued our walk passed the South Portico where we enjoyed the sounds of a military band playing on the balcony. To the left of the South Portico sits the Rose Garden located just outside of the Oval Office.

President's podium 

Rose Garden and Oval Office


Adjacent to the Rose Garden, the Oval Office windows look out to the First Kid's play set. I wonder when they were younger if Malia and Sasha Obama ever knocked on the window to say "Hi" to their dad?

We continued walking, passed the Japanese Maple tree planted by President Cleveland and the fountain, then we saw it.


The White House Kitchen Garden!!!


The Garden is a symbol of Mrs. Obama's efforts to raise a new generation of healthier kids. Just days before our visit, Mrs. Obama unveiled new wooden, stone and steel features that will enable it to be a permanent fixture for future presidents.

Mrs. Obama established the four-season Kitchen Garden in 2009. It is believed to be the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II.


Last week Mrs. Obama unveiled this beautiful engraved stone
In its first nine months, the Kitchen Garden "yielded over a thousand pounds of produce," according to the tour book.  The harvest is used to feed the first family and guests at White House functions. A third of the garden's produce is donated to Miriam's Kitchen, a local organization that supports the homeless.




As you can see, the garden boosts an eclectic array of veggies, herbs and fruits. From the picture above, you can see the eggplant and tomato plants, but this is only about 10% of what the garden has to offer. There are over fifty varieties of seeds including many heirloom seeds.  


Although there are several raised beds, one in particular stood out. The raised bed named after President Thomas Jefferson contains seeds from his famous Monticello estate garden in Virginia, including lettuce, brussels sprouts, beets, kale and artichokes. 

                                                                                        

The best part about the Kitchen Garden is how Mrs. Obama designed it: an interactive, hands-on place to learn about food.

Every year, Mrs. Obama invites students from around the country to help plant seeds and harvest produce.

From its inception, former White House Chef Sam Kass and now Current White House Chef Cristeta Comerford have been instrumental in using the Kitchen Garden to teach kids about the benefits of gardening and eating whole foods.



Bee Hive - located near the Kitchen Garden





The Obama's aren't the only family who reside at 1600 Pennslyania Ave. A family of bees - approximately 35,000 -  also call the White House home.

First Beekeeper Charlie Brandt and former White House Chef Sam Kass brought the bee colony to the White House lawn in 2009. Since that time, the bees have helped pollinate the Kitchen Garden and provide honey for the Obama family and state dinners.


To learn more about the Bee Hive click on the video.









Just before we exited, we noticed these farm machines parked slightly out of view. A nod to the reality that keeping up all the White House gardens and grounds is an enormous job.


Our visit was an amazing experience. I'm still in awe that I got to see the White House Kitchen Garden! I hope Mrs. Obama's new garden features will enable it to be a permanent addition to the South Lawn, so that others will have the same opportunity, as we did, to visit and learn from it.

Growing up in an Italian-American household, eating fresh, whole foods is a daily part of our lives. It is the reason we started this food blog five years ago. This tradition allows our bodies to operate with more stamina and strengthen our immune system. We plan to continue this tradition when we have families of our own.

We see the difference Mrs. Obama and other health advocates are making to improve the health of the next generation. We see our friends making better food choices. The Kitchen Garden and other health programs like it are making an impact.

Much thanks to the First Family and Mrs. Obama's organization Let's Move for leading the charge.

Here's one more cool video I found that demonstrates how the White House utilizes the Kitchen Garden for State Dinners.

- Thomas