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.


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.

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

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,