Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Head to Panera Bread tomorrow (1/28/09) for free coffee and samplings of their breakfast sandwiches and yogurt parfaits. It's all in efforts to get people excited for their new roast in coffee and their breakfast sandwich that has been around for a little while. Of all the quick breakfast stops, Panera does top the list in my eyes for breakfast sandwiches. They use a real egg and its not cooked in the microwave like other places (I'm looking at you WaWa and Einstein). They use a really sharp cheddar cheese and offer it with plain egg, bacon or sausage. They put all that yummy protein on a warm ciabatta bread. Yum. The only complaint is that you can't get the sandwich with turkey sausage. I don't get it because they offer turkey sausage in their egg souffles. Oh well.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Over the holiday season, Outback, Carrabas and Bonefish offered promotions of buying 100 dollars of gift certificates and getting $20 dollars in free gift cards. We bought a slew of gift cards for people so we ended up with a nice amount for ourselves to use. We decided to use some of the money from the cards for dinner last night.
We had to run some errands last night, including Costco which is down in Whitemarsh. So, we decided to travel an extra 15-20 minutes to go to Cheeseburger in Paradise in Glen Burnie which is a restaurant owned by the Outback Corporation. There is no CIP in the Bel Air area and its a great hamburger place. It is modeled after the well known Jimmy Buffet song and has an island feel with great libations. We got down there, and the place was dead. Very surprisingly dead. There were no football games to be watched so we expected a bit of a wait at 6:00 pm, but there was none. While we were surprised we were not too unhappy about it as we had the kids and we had a 40 minute ride home so a quick dinner was in order.
When we went to pay with our Outback gift card they would not accept it, as we found out, Outback is selling off the Cheeseburger in Paradise chain to another owner. Since Outback is not a publicly traded company we don;t have the information as to who is acquiring them..if anyone.
I hope this place does not go under. It is really good even if there is not one near us. It's the first place I've ever had fried pickles. A weird concept in an appetizer, but really yummy.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Last night was a kid free night at our favorite restaurant, Roy's. Roy's cuisine is Hawaiian Fusion. We have had the reservation for about a month and I am realizing now how timely it is we went this week with Obama's inauguration (since Hawaii is his home state). We were able to go out with free babysitting under our belt, as my parents came down to watch the kids and take them out for a more "kid friendly dinner". We also had a few gift cards, so it really was an economical evening.
We did not realize that Baltimore Restaurant Week started on Friday, so Roy's had a special 3 course dinner for 30.09. Nothing on that menu appealed to me, so I ordered my standard, Island Ahi. I could probably eat this meal 3-4 times a week for the rest of my life and never tire of it. It's a sashimi grade tuna fillet seared, served rare with a soy, mustard wasabi butter sauce which they serve with jasmine rice and baby bok choy. Total heaven. I started my dinner with lobster potstickers which were also excellent.
Brian opted for the special menu and his dinner included a spinach salad, braised short ribs and a white chocolate/raspberry mousse concoction.
Prior to dinner I ordered a cocktail which is rare for me. I'm not much of a drinker and since I'm always watching my calories (sometimes watching them go up and up..) I will always choose food over beverage. I ordered their Island Mai Tai which was ridiculously strong. The first few sips were "whoa"..and then it became much smoother and went down much easier. I found myself quite inebriated as I was eating my appetizer and was down right drunk during my entree. I sadly cannot report on my entree because I barely remember eating it. For dessert, Brian and I shared the famous Melting hot molten chocolate cake, which they serve with ice cream and raspberry sauce. Tip if you go..order this dessert when your dinner is served as it takes 25 minutes to prepare.
My alcohol induced condition did not last too long with the two cups of coffee with dessert and the few minutes of waiting in the 20 degree temps waiting for the valet to bring the car around. I sobered up quickly!
Friday, January 23, 2009
I just realized that I haven't blogged in a few days. I guess that means I have not been out to eat this week. As luck would have it, I did not feel like cooking tonight so we rounded up the kids and headed into Bel Air for a quick bite. I was hankering for Mexican so we ended up at Qdoba. I had only eaten there once before (at a different location) and the menu did not feel to be the same as I remembered. It now reminds me of Chipolte (which I ate at once and did not care for). Is there anyone who can confirm if they have changed their menu significantly? I guess I am still partial to Baja Fresh for my choice of casual Mexican dining.
The kids had quesadillas and Brian and I had burritos. I'm tyring to figure out where $24 was spent. Two kids meals, 2 burritos, a side of chips and no drinks. The burrito was pretty huge though and I could not finish it so it was a decent value. Looking forward to tomorrow's dinner. It's a date night which means, no kids meals, no macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets or hot dogs. Stay tuned for the re-cap!
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I had some friends over for the Eagles/Cardinals game today. Let's not discuss the outcome. I'm disgusted. Anyway, during the game my friends were telling me about a great website restaurant.com. You put your location in the search box and it shoots you back restaurants that participate in discounted gift certificates. So, in other words you can buy a $25 gift certificate for $10, or a $50 certificate for $25 or so on. There are a few stipulations such as you have a spend a certain amount to use the certificate and an 18% gratuity is added to certificate. I checked the list on the restaurants within 15 miles of my zip code and their are definately a few I can take advantage of!
I can't believe I did not know about this!
I can't believe I did not know about this!
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Head on over to Baskin-Robbins tomorrow (January 15) to claim a free scoop of ice cream. However, in order to get your freebie you have to show your gym membership card. It's all in their efforts to promote their Bright Choices Line. All the flavors have between 80-140 calories per serving and 0-7 grams of fat. The nutritional stats are for a 2.5 ounce scoop. Not a huge serving, but a healthy amount, and that's what it's all about, right? The new flavors include: Raspberry Chip, Milk Chocolate, Vanilla, Butter Almond Crunch, Pineapple Coconut, Fat free Vanilla and Strawberry Sorbet.
The only Baskin-Robbins in Harford County is in Bel Air at 18A Bel Air South Parkway, behind Bob Evans. If you are in the Whitemarsh area there is a stop on Honeygo Boulevard as well.
Yay for free things!
Monday, January 12, 2009
As a kid, growing up, when presented with the choice at summer parties "hamburger or hot dog?". I always went for the hot dog. Must be a maturity thing, as my kids pick the hot dog as well, as their 1st choice. Now a'days I can't pass on a really good hamburger. I know it is not the most nutritionally sound thing to eat, bur when a craving hits, who am I not to satisfy it? Fortunately I have a great hamburger well within 5 miles of my house. Lucky me..so here is my round up of my favorite burgers in the Bel Air area:
1. Chili's (Baltimore Pike, Bel Air)
Haven't been there in a while, but a really good burger. I always go with the "big mouth" original burger with lettuce, onion, ketchup and mustard. I pass on the mayo and tomato.
2. Bill Batemans (Baltimore Pike, Bel Air)
Great Bar food and great burgers. Go on Wednesday nights and all the burgers on their menu (with the exception of a few) are half price. A serious good deal. I always get the Fallston Burger which has cheddar cheese, sauteed onions and thousand island dressing. I skip the thousand island dressing and go with ketchup and mustard instead.
3. Cheeburger Cheeburger (Festival Shopping center, Bel Air)
I was so excited when this opened up in Bel Air. It has a 50's style atmosphere with great hamburger and tons of toppings to choose from. The burgers come in several sizes from a modest 4 ounce to a 1 lb. burger. If you can polish of a 1 pounder they take your picture and put it on their wall of shame..I mean fame. They also have awesome fries and onion rings and if you can't decide between what deep fried side you want you can get "frings" (a little bit of both). They also have shakes in as many flavors as they have toppings for burgers. Kids meals are so cute too..they come in a little cardboard car.
4. Five Guys (Harford Mall, Bel Air)
I saved the best for last. Oh, I am so happy these guys made it to Bel Air! They are expanding up and down the east coast and it is no wonder why. This is the best hamburger. If you are looking for a menu full of variety you won't find it at Five Guys. These guys take what they do best and give it their all. You have a choice of hamburgers and cheeseburgers. They also have hot and grilled cheese, but that's it. Killer french fires as well..fried in vats of peanut oil. So, if you have a nut allergy stay clear of this place..but you are seriously missing out. I used to get the regular hamburger which is basically 2 patties pressed together on a bun. I felt totally sick after finishing it. I now order smarter and get the little hamburger which is a single. Much better.
So, there is my list. Luckily, my gym is also less then 5 miles from the house as well!
In today's economy everyone is looking for a bargain. Even with a strong economy every parent likes a bargain. With two little kids, going out for dinner seems to cost us at least $40, no matter how we order. Our kids have decent appetites now so they need their own meal and don't like to share. We don't eat out very much during the week, but sometimes the days just get too busy to get a meal on the table. We are always on the lookout for restaurants that offer "kids eat free" nights. So far I only know of 3 in the Bel Air area.
Mountain Branch (Mountain Road, Fallston)
Stop by Mountain Branch on a Monday night and you can enjoy pasta night and your kids can eat free. The pasta night is salad, bread a "create your own" pasta dish and dessert. The kids can have anything off the kids menu or a kids pasta. In addition they also have "extreme entertainment" where an entertainer walks around and makes balloon creations for the kids. He is really good. While I'm a big fan of Mountain Branch's Sunday Brunch, I'm not such a big fan of the pasta night. It's just not that good. However, if you can put aside that the food is about as good as you can get at home, it is a good deal and fun for the kids.
Lone Star Steakhouse (Festival Shopping Center, Bel Air)
On Tuesdays, 2 kids can eat for free with the purchase of one adult entree at Lone Star Steakhouse. Lone Star is a family friendly steakhouse (I'd put it a notch under Outback), but definitely a great deal for the family.
Bill Batemans (Bel Air Road, Bel Air)
On Tuesdays Bill Batemans has a great deal. Kids eat for free and they have a great rib special for the grownups. For $11.99 you can get a full rack of ribs, fries, cole slaw and garlic bread. We have been there and my husband and I have split this deal (neither of us can eat the whole thing) and maybe get a salad to split and the kids eat for free. They always have crayons and fun sheets and the staff is really attentive to the kids with the exception of the service sometimes being a little slow. Batemans also has great other specials during the week.
If anyone knows of any other "kids eat free" places I'd love to hear about it. Variety is the spice of life!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Today we had to make a trek out to IKEA in Whitemarsh. My cookbook collection is growing out of its space and I needed a new bookshelf. The plan was to go to IKEA, drop of the kids in funland and have an hour to shop, kid free.
When we got everything in the car we looked at the clock and saw it was 6:15. I wanted to go to PF Changs but it was packed, we headed over to the Avenue to settle for Fridays (I haven't been to crazy about my past meals there) but we were able to see that there were a ton of people waiting in the lobby. I was perplexed. The Ravens were playing a 4:00 game and I assumed that everyone and their mother would be glued to a tv set somewhere. Apparently not.
So, we needed a place to eat where we would not have to wait and that the kids would eat. We drove down to Campbell Blvd and ended up at Noodles and Company. If you haven't been to Noodles it is casual dining that is in the same level as Panera, Pei Wei, Baja Fresh..etc. The restaurant focuses on noodle dishes created all different ways: American, Asian, Mediterranean and Italian. Brian and I got Asian noodle dishes (Japanese Udon Noddles and Indonesian Peanut Saute(very spicy!) and the kids got macaroni and cheese. The mac and cheese is about the best I've ever had..and Ive had my share of macaroni and cheese. They also serve up salads and soups to round out your meal.
I can totally picture this chain in the Bel Air area. It would clean up. I really should look into franchise information. I keep checking their future locations and Bel Air is not on the list. I guess for now I have to drive 15-20 minutes to satisfy my noodle craving.
Oh, and congratulations Ravens! I'm an Eagles fan first and foremost, but I do root for the Ravens. The only exception would be if the Ravens faced the Eagles in a Superbowl. I'm not that worried about that happening.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
So, I get an email from someone who is following my blog..who is not one of my friends or family members who I begged to read. Yipee! She asked me if I knew of any places in Harford County that is a good place to eat and write at the same time. Finding free wi-fi is tough now. Even McDonalds pulled their free wi-fi. Now you have to have their dumb Arch card or something like that. So, here are the places I know of that I have had a bite to eat (or a coffee to sip) while I worked, checked my email or updated my Facebook status.
Panera offers free wi-fi in a really comfortable environment with great food. (I'm a pushover for bread). I've often opt for Panera when I'm on the road for lunch to pick two" and write a few emails.
McShane's is located on Rt. 22, west of Harford Community College. McShane's is a coffee house with nice breakfast items and good salads and sandwiches. They also offer free wi-fi and I actually prefer this place the best when I have some time between appointments.
Coffee Coffee is located in the Festival Shopping Center and also boasts free Wi-Fi. Its a small place with a great selection of coffee drinks, pastries and chocolates! There is not too much room here to make your self comfortable for a while..only a few tables.
Here's a tip. Technically, the wi-fi is not free at Starbucks. However, if you have a Starbucks card you can get some free internet time. Register your card at www.starbucks.com and you can link to ATT (their internet provider). Having a registered Starbucks card entitles you to 2 free hours of internet time per day, as long as your card has been used in the last 30 days. Not a bad deal. Also, if you register your Starbucks card you also get syrup additions for free and free refills of regular coffee during the day.
So, there yo go. That's all I know about..if anyone knows of any other places drop me a line..and to Patricia...thanks for the idea for this post!
Monday, January 5, 2009
One of my favorite weeks is coming to brighten winter up. Restaurant Week is coming to Baltimore at the end of January. It runs for a week (January 23-February 1). This is an awesome deal. You pick a participating restaurant and you can choose a 3 course lunch for $20.09 or a 3 course dinner for $30.09. Over 90 restaurants participate in it. There are parking deals as well. Last year we went to Timothy Deans in Fells Point. It was really good, but I should have eaten dinner before hand. The portions were teeny tiny. This is usually not the case during Restaurant Week, so we were a little bummed. This year we booked our reservations at Louisiana in Fells Point. Louisiana is Cajun-French. We have been there a few years ago and it was really good.
Heed my warning..if you are interested in going make your reservations soon. Particularly if you want to go on a weekend. This event fills up fast! This deal is so good I may have to find a day in the week to go an additional time!
Sunday, January 4, 2009
I'm still sick. Ugh. I have not been sick for a long time (since April) and Friday threw me a curve ball with a wicked sore throat. So, this weekend has been a washout.
Today we are sitting around watching football. My two teams are playing. The Ravens(they won!)and the Eagles (at this post time they are winning). So it's a lazy day..going to order pizza from Italian Sensations in Fallston (2316 Belair Road). They have been around for as long as I've been down in Maryland in Bel Air (225 Brierhill Dr). They recently opened a second location in Fallston and have been doing really well. Fallston does not have many restaurants so if you have a good product you can do really well. The Scotto Family are the owners and are straight from Italy. They have a little girl that goes to daycare with my son. They also run the more upscale Italian restaurant Scotto's in the Festival Shopping Center.
Italian Sensations is a pizza place that also sells other Italian goods such as sandwiches, pasta dishes, calazones, stromboli. They do a great take-out business and they have tables that you can eat there as well. Tonight Brian and I are opting for a white pizza, a switch on our usual. I'm sure the kids won't eat that (because of the green stuff) so I think I have some leftover pizza in the freezer.
This pizza is insanely good. It is a white pizza (no tomato sauce) with garlic, plum tomatoes, spinach and ricotta. We ended up with 3 pieces left..looks like I got some lunch for myself this week.
Friday, January 2, 2009
Today was a day out with my 5 year old and myself. She heads back to school on Monday and she and her 3 year old brother have been home since Christmas Eve day. My little one's day care was open today so I decided to let him go there so that my daughter and I can go to the movies and out to lunch. My little guy still takes a nap and I knew he would not have the attention for a movie as well.
We ate a quick lunch at the Double-T Diner in Bel Air (543 Marketplace Drive). It was Sophie's choice as she wanted breakfast for lunch. I had not been there for a while and every time I go I wonder why I don;t go more often. The food is decent and the service is reliable. I had a turkey burger and my daughter had eggs. There are 6 other locations in the Baltimore area.
After lunch we headed to the movies. We ended up seeing Marley and Me. What a tearjerker. I don't think my 5 year old got the full extent of the emotional heartstrings that were pulled, and that's OK with me. I bawled my eyes out. I actually lost a contact lens. I won't give away the full plot, but if you have seen it, you are hugging your canine a little closer tonight.
No dinner for me tonight..I'm coming down with something and my throat is sore. Wish I had some chicken soup.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
I know that the purpose of this blog is to report on places I eat in the Baltimore area(specifically where I live, in Harford Country), but sometimes you just have to go out of state, ya know?
We spent our New Years with our friends in Cherry Hill, NJ (a suburb of Philly). On the way home we were discussing what we were going to have for dinner as we were really tired and I knew I did not feel like starting to cook a balanced dinner tonight. We decided to stop at Bobby Chez's for crab cakes. Before you start sending me hateful comments on how I can go outside of Maryland for crab cakes, let me explain.
Bobby Chez's has been around for about 10 years or so and started off in the neighborhood of our friends. They have several locations in South Jersey area and recently opened a few locations in Philly. I have heard from others what an amazing crab cake they had. Now that I am a Maryland resident, I also had reservations. How can a place outside of Maryland even know what to do with a crab cake? Bobby's crab cakes are big. Softball size and breaded and deep fried. Again, not the Maryland standard. I too thought I preferred a simple sauteed crab cake with minimal filler. These crab cakes are too die for. There is barely any filler, and the lumps of crab are as big as my thumb (I have some pretty big hands). While, deep frying isn't my first choice in the ultimate crab cake it compliments it perfectly. They also sell ones that you can throw under the broiler, but they are not as good in my opinion.
You can eat at Bobby's, but it is mostly a take out place. They do have tables to sit and eat in. We have always taken our crab cakes to go and they give simple directions for reheating at home. They also sell killer sides, including macaroni and cheese, fried clams, fried shrimp and killer lobster mashed potatoes (which will be accompaning my crab cakes tonight).
So, not the most healthful meal tonight. But do you really want to read a blog about me eating a plate of steamed vegtables?