Thursday, May 12, 2016

Beef Brothers Deli - Ellicott City, MD

Beef Brothers Deli just relocated to Ellicott City location. You may remember this crowd favorite at its old location on Charles Street in Baltimore.  My friend Jack and I recently checked it out.
 The moment I walked in I felt a sense of comfort: all the walls are covered with sports paraphernalia and five televisions illuminated the room. I could see this place as being a cool hangout spot for sports fans.

Jack and I ordering at the counter

I will admit, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the various menu items. They have all the classic deli staples like sandwiches, wraps, salads, subs, and pizza. I had a hard time making up my mind. The owner stated that the best dish was was their burgers, so Jack and I tried them.

 I selected the "how's your" burger with lettuce, tomato, onions, hot peppers, american cheese, green peppers, and mushrooms on a brioche bun with a side of regular sized fries. The most important aspect of the burger is the patty, so let's talk meat. The patty was just 6oz, but was juicy, succulent, and well cooked. All the toppings  blended in with one another and produced an overall diverse texture: the patty and tomato were soft, the lettuce created a crunchy texture, and the cheese produced a gooey feel. My only gripe with the burger was that the menu only had one size for burgers. I would have liked to ordered a larger size.

Jack decided to be original and ordered the same "how's your" burger and regular sized fries, except just american cheese and ketchup as toppings. Jack did concur with me about the portion size issue, but he dissented regarding the patty. Since his burger was less abundant in toppings, he thought that the patty was average because the flavor of the meat was too subtle for his liking. This isn't a problem for me because I loved how the subtleness was able to blend in and compliment the other many items on my burger.

Even though Jack and I have some differences about the food, we wholeheartedly agree on how amazing the fries are (so good that they have their own paragraph). Unlike the burger, the fries don't share the small portion issue. In fact, they're huge for a "regular" size. Each fry is thin, long, and crispy. If you still doubt me, just look at the picture. What do you see? Well I'll tell you: golden-brown goodness cooked to perfection. Boom!

Overall, Beef Brothers is a cool, new spot for anyone who loves the primarily meat-based cuisine of a deli. Jack and I are looking forward to coming back and trying other items. See you soon Beef Brothers!

- Thomas Regnante

The Beef Brothers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Jimmy John's $1 subs Nationwide - TODAY ONLY


Thursday, April 21
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Jimmy John's Sandwiches is thanking its fans by hosting a Nationwide Customer Appreciation Day.

For more about Jimmy John's check out our 2013 blog post here 

Offer applies to sandwiches #1 through #6, JJBLT and Slims only (see below)

$1 subs are limited to one per person at check out….BUT you can go through the line as many times as you want. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Seasons 52 - Columbia, Maryland

Seasons 52 prides itself on using farm-fresh food items that change each season. I was invited to Seasons 52 to sample some dishes from their new core spring menu, which debuted this week. Since I was able to bring a guest, I brought my mom.  I loved that the menu displayed the calories next to each dish. 

Seasons 52 has a unique ambience with dim lighting, wood paneled high ceilings, a piano placed inside a circular bar area, and a colossal water fountain at the entrance.  There are also giant trees with uplighting that created a natural and back-to-nature aesthetic that yet again emphasizes the theme.

Here's the menu of all the foods we sampled (most are new menu items for the spring but some are always on the menu)
Fresh fruit and vegetable display highlighting the seasonal menu choices (in the Napa room)

 The Napa room, one of the two private rooms (the other being the Sonoma room), can seat approximately 30 people - both rooms have a built in television screen.  There are no room rental fees for these rooms.   
Lobster and fresh mozzarella flatbread (left) and crispy prosciutto asparagus flatbread (right)
We were introduced to the new spring crispy prosciutto asparagus flatbread and the classic standard lobster and fresh mozzarella flatbread.  My favorite was the latter. While I liked camembert cheese, I wasn't crazy about the crispy prosciutto on the asparagus flatbread. However, my mother loved it. For her, the combination of these flavors was the clear winner. 

The chef's spring amuse bouche was presented to us in a garnish-filled spoon.   The taste was earthy and fresh for this cold vegetable soup (think leafy greens like asparagus and spinach) with chantly cream. We prefer hot soup, so it's not our kind of soup. That being said, if you like cold soup, you will really enjoy it.
Spinach salad 

The spinach salad, consisting of spring strawberries, pea tendrils, toasted pine nuts, gorgonzola cheese, and 15-year aged balsamic drizzles - was a home run for both my mom and me.  This is a massive salad with the freshest of ingredients. The incredibly sweet balsamic drizzle really made the entree stand out.  The balsamic sauce enhanced the saccharine strawberries and gorgonzola cheese in a perfectly complementary way.

Caramelized grilled sea scallops with lemon risotto
Meyer lemon ricotta ravioli 
For our third course, we were served the caramelized grilled sea scallops with lemon risotto. The scallops were nicely seared and fork tender. The pairing with the slightly sweet lemon risotto with fresh spring vegetables was phenomenal. This dish personified the flavors of spring.

We tried the Meyer lemon ricotta ravioli with brown butter, roasted peppers, and English peas as our fourth dish. I learned that this particular lemon is a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon.  I didn't necessarily like the greens on top, as they brought out a sharp taste.   My mother would have preferred a little less dough on the ravioli (then again, we are Italian ravioli connosseiurs - check out our homemade ravioli blog post ).

Asian-glazed Chilean sea bass
The Asian-glazed Chilean sea bass was my favorite meal. Organic black rice, snow peas, and shiitake mushrooms (my favorite mushrooms) are displayed beneath the sea bass in the picture. What makes this dish is the glaze, which tastes like teriyaki and plum sauce. The glaze adds a new depth of flavor to such a unique entree. Not to mention that the dish was just so aesthetically pleasing even before I tasted its untapped glory.

Wood-grilled rack of lambs complete with spring vegetables, yukon gold mash, and shallot jus
What I love about this dish is that the lamb had a secret rub and was cooked in a wood oven. I had a great lamb dish in Greece a few years ago. This dish reminded me of it. The char and seasoning was heaven. Coupled with the tender, spring vegetables and shallot jus... a winner for sure. 

For dessert we had the opportunity to sample six of their "mini indulgences". The presentation of each of the small deserts was eye candy and I couldn't wait to dig into it!

The amaretto soaked vanilla cake "mini indulgence" was my mother's favorite dessert. It even came with a small pipette of amaretto. We both thought it was so clever and innovative.
The cannoli creme, chocolate, and raspberry sauce "mini indulgence" was my favorites dessert. It was filled to the brim with thick cannoli creme and evened out with the raspberry sauce. I especially liked how there was a mini cannoli on top.  I dunked it into the glass to fill it with creme.
Seasons 52 has a beautiful outside that is great for the spring

My mother loved that she was offered a different type of wine to accompany every dish. Seasons 52 has over 100 bottles of wine to choose from. So, if there are any wine connoisseurs out there, they got you covered. 

For Easter,  Seasons 52 will debut a special Easter brunch. Stay tuned, they may even continue the weekend brunch after the holiday.

Our experience at Seasons 52 - the farm fresh food, attentive staff, the unique atmosphere - was really terrific. I was so impressed that I plan to go back for my birthday in May. 

-Thomas Regnante

Seasons 52 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cafe Bonaparte - Georgetown, Washington D.C.

Cafe Bonaparte is a quaint cafe located on Wisconsion Avenue in Georgetown. It is known for its fabulous french items such as crepes, french toast and croque monsieurs. Click here to check out their menus for brunch (on weekends), breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
Georgetown D.C.
This place offers high-quality food at reasonable prices. For brunch, I ordered the Belvedere, 2 eggs (any style) and french toast. This was a phenomenal dish all-around. The eggs were fluffy and delectable with a little bit of herbs added on top. Meanwhile, the french toast amazed me with its moist, soft, sugary goodness. It was a match made in heaven which only costed $12 (which is pretty reasonable for food in D.C.)

Cafe Bonaparte was so incredible for brunch that I had to go back for dinner. This time, I ordered the Marseille Crepe. Usually when I hear the word, crepe, I think of something sweet and jam-packed with nutella or strawberries. However, this dish reminded me that crepes can be savory too and equally delicious. Tender chicken, crispy red peppers, luscious sour cream and extra thick red peppers sauce on top created a lethal combination of flavor. Had I not been a financially struggling college student, I would've definelty ordered a second round of this dish.

(Above left) At night, they have a lighted eiffel tower sculpture in front of the window. For all you young people out there, this just shows you that Cafe Bonaparte is always lit. French food + friends + dining out = fun = Cafe Bonaparte.

Make sure you wake your way out to Cafe Bonaparte for fantastic crepes, french toast, sandwiches, and much more!

- Charles

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Happy Hour - Chef Geoff's New Mexico Ave, DC

Did you know about Chef Geoff's happy hour special menu available all day Monday and Tuesday and from 3pm-7pm Wednesday thru Sunday?  You should because it is the happy hour deal of a lifetime. Also, for those attending American University, it's only 2 blocks from SIS!

School of International Service, AU

On the happy hour menu, Chef Geoff's serves up a great deal on appetizers, burgers, pizza, and beer (for those of you over 21). It really is a great buy considering many of these dishes are half off, around the $5-$8 range, or more. However, you have to sit in the bar area to receive the special. Click here for their happy hour menu. (FYI it is really hard to find a table or a spot at the bar with more than 3 people. Thus, I recommend going with 3 people or less for happy hour)

Below is a picture of my utmost favorite happy hour special: the Chef Geoff's Burger

This burger is topped with cheddar, bacon, pickles, tomato, and red onion all inside of a soft bun. It comes with a choice of fries or balsamic greens as a side. But let's focus on the burger, shall we? I appreciated the luscious cheddar cheese melted on top of the meat and the soft yet not too crunchy delectable bacon. I also appreciated the tenderness and the heavenly taste of the meat itself. With this said, this is one of the best burgers I've ever had. 

I asked if I could take a picture of someone
else's beer just for show. 

So make you way out to Chef Geoff's for great deals on delicous pizza, BURGERS, appetizers, small plates, beer, and more!


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Guest Writer - Superintendent's Corner Blog

This week, I had a great honor I wanted to share with you. 

Superintendent Dr. Renee Foose of the Howard County Public School System, invited me to be a guest writer on her blog, the Superintendent's Corner. She read my recent 2 Dudes blog post about  Petit Louis (the restaurant hosted 200 students from my high school's French classes for a culinary adventure -read it here) and asked me to write about it on her blog. 

Here's a sneak peak below but you can check out the entire blog post here

Big shout out and thank you to my French teacher Madame Doff for taking us students on the Petit Louis field trip and Superintendent Foose for inviting me to be a guest writer. 

- Thomas 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Insomnia Cookies - Johns Hopkins University Baltimore

             Insomnia Cookies is a cool store that offers warm cookies and desserts - eat-in or delivered - until 3 a.m. Their locatation right outside the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore makes it a very popular place with students.

In fact, the company was founded in 2003 by University of Pennsylvania student Seth Berkowitz. When baking cookies out of his dorm room and delivering them to students late at night turned into a very successful endeavor, he knew that he was onto something.

In 2004, Seth took the cookie delivery idea and opened his first Insomnia Cookies retail store in Syracuse, New York. Fast forward to today and the cookie store has expanded to 80 stores nationwide with big expansion plans. The Baltimore manager told me that more IC locations will be coming soon to Fells Point and Towson. 

The Insomnia Cookie selection varies from traditional favorites such as Chocolate Chunk, Sugar, Double Chocolate Mint, M & M, Oatmeal Raisin, White Chocolate Macadamia Nut, to deluxe flavors like Triple Chocolate Chunk and S'mores and limited addition cookies. 

I was invited to try their limited time only red velvet cookies just in time for Valentine's Day. This newest addition to the Insomnia Cookies lineup offers the flavors of traditional red velvet cake with bits of soft cream cheese.

Soft and warm on the inside with a little crunch on the exterior, it was a beautiful thing. The cookie really did taste like a red velvet cake with cream cheese  frosting. I washed it down with a cold container of Cloverland Farms Dairy milk complete with its very own insomnia cookies cold sleeve protector. Yum. 

Insomnia also offers Cookie Cakes that can be personalized with messages such as Congrats and Happy Birthday and eight ice cream scoop flavors available in cups or larger to-go containers.

Two things I really liked about this cookie shop:
 whether it's only 1 cookie or a dozen cookies (which was on special for $12 when I visited) - you can get it delivered for only $2. 

Baltimore supervisor Chanelle, me and long-time delivery man Terry
Second, every time an email or delivery request comes in through the computer, the store's speaker system blares Cookie Monster's voice over the speakers saying "Coooookie, num, num, num [...]".

Cookie Monster is right, who doesn't love a warm buttery and sugary delight - especially late at night? And it seems he's not the only one screaming for cookies. I think insomnia cookies will continue to be popular with both the college crowd and late nighters.

If you go to the Baltimore location, tell Chanelle and Terry I sent you. They were both very nice.

- Thomas