Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Trolley Stop - Ellicott City, MD

My friends Jack (left), me, and Ivan (right)

The Trolley Stop is a historic tavern in historic Ellicott City that has been in service since 1833 (one of  the oldest restaurant I've dined in).

You might ask why it is named the Trolley Stop? In 1889 through 1955, the trolley #14 and #9 cars stopped right outside the second floor of the building.

In this flyer above, you can see
how the trolley stopped on the second floor

My friend Ivan has been telling me about this place for the longest time. So Ivan, my friend Jack, and I decided to finally give the Trolley Stop a try for lunch.

Keep in mind this is an historic property and it feels like it has lots of stories to tell. Pictures and photos hanging on the walls document the timeline of the tavern. It's a cozy place with rustic feel. Noting fancy or new.

This picture doesn't come close to showing how big this platter was
For an appetizer, we all split the Trolley Chicken Wings. It really wasn't an appetizer, it was more like a full meal. The wings were savory and sweet and doused in a light honey bbq sauce (aka their "special wing sauce").

I was especially pleased with the generous amount of celery we were given since many restaurants don't give you enough in my opinion.

Classic Club 
The service was extra fast. In fact, as we were eating the last wings we were served our main courses.

Jack and I ordered the Classic Club with fries - turkey breast, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. The entree could barely fit on the plate (in the photo you can't even see the two large pickles that are hidden under the humongous sandwich and fries).

While the sandwich wasn't he best I've ever eaten, it was tasty and the large size made up for any shortcomings. However, the crisp bacon was absolutely perfect on this delicate stack. My friend Jack agreed, and added "the sandwich wasn't the best I've ever had, sometimes it fell apart, but the Tavern atmosphere more than made up for it."

Crab Melt 

Ivan selected the Crab Melt - crab cake topped with tomato, melted swiss cheese served on a fresh baguette.

This was another ginormous sandwich - and we are perpetually hungry teenagers saying this. He liked how the gooey texture of the cheese covered the slightly crisp and lumpy crab cakes. It was super tasty. However the potato salad, that looked great, was nothing special.

I'm definitively going to try the Crab Melt next time at The Trolley Stop.

Oh yeah, did I say how big the melt is?

Turkey Reuben
Later that day, my parents decided to go to The Trolley Stop  for lunch based on my recommendation. They split an order of the Turkey Reuben with fries - grilled with sauerkraut, swiss cheese,and 1,000 island dressing served on rye bread.

They also commented on the huge size of the sandwiches making it easy to spilt. It was packed with thinly sliced turkey and creamy Thousand Island sauce that wasn't spilling out like some dressing do in a melt. They really liked the bread. It was toasty, warm and crisp with a lovely buttery taste.

The large entrees at the Trolley Stop are enough to satiate a teenager's cravings.

The lunch and dinner menu has so many choices -  hot or cold sandwiches, wraps, salads, burgers, pastas, soups - really there's something for everyone. They also serve breakfast.

Just remember, whatever you order, that the portions are crazy big. In fact, I didn't even have breakfast the day I went to The Trolley Stop and I was full. My friends couldn't finish all their food and took some home.

- Thomas

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Monday, June 15, 2015

FREE Food alert - Nando's PERi-PERi Baltimore restaurants

Harbor East location just opened recently 

Nando's PERi-PERi restaurants -- famous for its Portuguese flame-grilled, butterfly‑cut chicken, which is marinated for 24-hours before being basted and cooked in Nando’s famous PERi-PERi sauce -- is hosting a
a #NandosDash on Wednesday, June 17 at it's Baltimore Street and Harbor East locations.

That means between 5 and 8 pm this Wednesday, June 17, Nando's is GIVING AWAY a 1/4 chicken, chicken sandwich, wrap, OR pita to each of their fans, on a first-come-first-served basis.

The deal is offered for eat-in only. DASH there early as there are only a limited number of seats available during the offer.

Harbor East 
Remember #NandosDash is ONLY available on June 17, 2015, between 5and 8pm at Nando's PERi-PERi Harbor East located at 1300 Fleet Street, Baltimore, MD, 21202, and Nando's PERi-PERi Baltimore Street located at 421 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD, 21201.

Bring money if you want to add any sides or drinks to your free chicken as they are not included in the give away promotion.

What are you waiting for? Get ready to #NandosDash for a free taste of Portuguese flame-grilled chicken.

- The 2 Dudes

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Nora's Kabob Mediterranean Grill - Ellicott City, MD

My classmate and friend Arman recommend that I try Nora's Kabob  because the food is similar to the Persian cuisine that he and his family make at home.

The restaurant is small, about four to five tables. I'd suggest you reserve a table or dine at a non-busy time to avoid a wait. Arman and I went on a Wednesday for dinner so we were fine.

I think its pretty cool that they have a banner that says "hello" in just about every language, way cool. 

For appetizers, Arman and I decided to split the "Coconut Shrimp" -  five jumbo coconut shrimps served with sweet & spicy sauce.

The shrimp was slightly crunchy on the outside but delicate to the bite. Be prepared for a potent coconut taste. I was surprised that I really enjoyed it in tandem with the sweet and spicy sauce.
I ordered the "Beef Shish Kabob" ($15.99), marinated chunks of filet mignon charbroiled over an open flame. For my complementary sides, I selected half of a greek salad and half basmati rice. The portions at Nora's are not large for a hungry teenager like me, but the quality of the food somewhat compensated for the small size entrees. There were only five filet mignon pieces on my skewer - all juicy, succulent, moist, and fork-tender - but I really wanted more for the price. Unfortunately, I left hungry.

The greek salad and rice were nothing outstanding. But I will say I liked the greek salad so much more than the rice, as the rice was bland. Next time, I will order just a full greek salad and not half rice and half salad.

Arman chose the "Nora's Soltani 1" ($17.99), which is a "Barg Kabob" (strips of filet mignon) and a "Khoobideh Kabob" (ground beef & lamb). He decided to have just basmati rice as his side and ordered an extra skewer of lamb ($8.99). He praised the grilled meat as well seasoned and tender. Also, he was enamored with the grilled vegetables that he likened to his mother's cooking. While there was more than enough food to satiate his hunger (in fact he took some home), Arman was displeased that the extra lamb skewer costs almost $9. On a previous visit, Arman ordered an extra skewer during the lunch service. He remembers the price being $3. Now, he knows the price is much higher at dinner. A lesson learned too late.

In the future, I would like to try Nora's Kabob at lunch time for their lunch specials ($9.25).

Let me know your favorite lunch dishes at Nora's.

- Thomas

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Friday, June 12, 2015

An Loi- Vietnamese Restaurant, Columbia MD

Last week my friend Drew and I were really in the mood for pho, authentic vietnamese soup made up of beef or chicken broth and rice noodles, so we decided to check out An Loi Vietnamese Restaurant for Lunch in Columbia, MD.
Drew surveying the Menu

The atmosphere of the restaurant was very nicely decorated.

We both ordered the Pho Gai- slices of chicken breast with rice noodles and other garnishes. Even though this soup tasted bland at first, it was bursting with flavor after we added the garnishes (basil leaves, limes, and vietnamese bean sprouts). The sour limes, combined with the sweet yet pungent flavor of the basil made a world of difference. The bean sprouts were just added for extra texture. On a different note, as we continued to eat, the garnishes seemed to soak into the soup and provide a richer taste with every bite. You might think it's only soup, but Pho definitely fills you up. For $7.95, you can get a a sizably large bowl of pho at a great price.  
Drew debating whether he likes pho or not
He liked it and is going back for more.

This is possibly the best pho I've ever had..........yet.

- Charles
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Sunday, June 7, 2015

We're Featured in Her Mind Magazine!

Her Mind Magazine

Story by Mary Lou Baker and Photography by Mary C.Gardella

Her Mind Magazine reports on the accomplishments, the celebrations and the challenges of Howard County Women. Their most recent issue featured an article called Veggie Tales and profiled our mom, Lisa Regnante. 
Mary Lou Baker praised her as food activist who emphasizes homemade communal meals and healthy eating. Sounds about right...Keep up the good work mom!

Check out how our mom played an important role in cultivating our love for food in this article of Her Mind Magazine .      

P.S. We also gave the magazine our "2Dudes Sports Shake" recipe so be sure to check that out as well. 

Here are some pictures from the article of us making one of our signature family meals: Pesto Pasta Primavera  served with Garlic Bread    

Thomas and I making homemade garlic bread

Adding Sun Dried Tomatoes to Pesto Pasta

Fresh Basil

A special thanks to Her Mind magazine for a fantastic article. You guys rock!

- The 2 Dudes

Friday, June 5, 2015

It's National Donut Day Today

Check out some great home donut recipes here at Chow.com

Chai Sufganiyot Donuts with Orange- Pumpkin Buttercream

Click here to learn how to get FREE donuts today for National Donut Day 2015

Find out how to get free donuts from Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme and more on National Donut Day 2015!

Donuts of National Donut Day from Kupcakes & Co.

They have baked extra cake donuts to celebrate! Kupcakes & Co offers a special today only- all donuts are $1.50 each. They will have chocolate Oreo, vanilla sprinkle, pancakes and bacon, chocolate sprinkle, strawberry, and vanilla Oreo. Don't they look mouthwatering!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Centre Park Grill - Ellicott City

Centre Park Grill is a new restaurant in Ellicott City, located in the old Café de Paris spot. I first learned about Centre Park Grill via a tweet from Bare Midriff’s

I decided to take my friend Arman with me to check it out.

                                                                                                                           On opening weekend, we arrived at the Centre Park Grill around 5:30 on a Friday to a fairly crowded and loud restaurant. Most people were at the bar, which is not in its own secluded spot, but is located in the middle of the restaurant.

expected a more formal atmosphere for a place that serves upscale cuisine. However, it had a cozy and lively feel. 

The service was amazing. Our waitress constantly refilled our water glasses and regularly asked us about our meals. Even the owner came by to check on us. 

Usually when I receive bread at restaurants, they offer me a slab or stick of butter. However, Center Park Grill does it right with creamy churned butter. The subtle difference is evident as this butter is easier to spread and just rich and whipped goodness. The bread had a nice sweetness, similar to Panettone bread (Italian fruitcake) but without the tiny fruit pieces.
For my entree, I selected the 14 oz prime New York strip (cooked medium) with truffle butter. For my two complementary sides, I choose the bourbon glazed sautéed mushrooms and the "lil butter n' cream" sweet mash potatoes. 

The presentation made my mouth water. I'm a sauteed mushroom fan and these mushrooms were out of this world - buttery, savory, and soft. I could have easily eaten two portions. 

The steak was equally as delicious. Easy to cut thanks to the largest steak knife I've ever seen. The slight crisp on the outside, coupled with the flavorings of the truffle butter on the moist, tender meat, made for a crazy good meal. 

The sweet mashed potatoes were also excellent. They were more of a puree than mashed potatoes, all smooth and no chunks. This side dish comes right out of the oven hot and ready (maybe a little too hot because I had to wait a while for it to cool down so I didn't burn my mouth). 

I also ordered the house salad with my meal. I liked the combination of arugula, red onions, carrots, and assorted greens. My mom makes salads with these ingredients all the time so this dish hit close to home. 

Arman ordered the 28-day-dry-aged ribeye with black truffle salt fries. He loved the large portion. As you can see above, this 16 oz steak nearly covered the entire plate. 

My friend thought that the ribeye flavor was more bland in comparison to the New York Strip and wasn't as juicy. He would have preferred truffle butter to enhance the flavor. Also, Arman stated that the delicate yet mildly crunchy fries were one of the best fries he has ever tasted. 

There are many more menu items that we'd like to try another time such as the Cubano and Salmon BLT sandwiches. There are also a variety of salads and burgers that look interesting.

Centre Park Grill has great potential.  Let me know if you try it.

- Thomas

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