On a recent trip to North Carolina to visit my niece of her birthday, we did a lot of eating out. Not the kinds of places that I would necessarily go to, but then again, sometimes you are at the mercy of your host, you go where they like to eat. The first night we went to Red Bowl Bistro, a casual Chinese restaurant.
The restaurant has a large dining room and is family friendly.
We start off with the potstickers ($5.25) that come in pork or vegetable. We had the pork dumplings that were grilled. They were ok, nothing to write home about and lacked flavor.
I ordered the chicken lo mein ($9.75) that came with carrots, beansprouts and onions. Again, lacked flavor and was a little on the greasy side.
We ordered pork fried rice ($9.25) for the table that wasn’t bad.
The sweet and sour chicken ($9.95) came with the sauce on the side which I actually liked, that way you could control the sweetness.
The food here was just average, I’m not sure that I would be in a rush to go back.
Red Bowl Bistro
2020 Boulderstone Way, Cary, NC
As long as we were in the area, Leah and I went out to dinner after a book launch party at The Helmand. This place has been on my list for years, I first learned about it from my massage therapist Katie. The restaurant has two rooms, a large front dining area and a smaller back room where the tables are tight. The decor could use a little sprucing up, but the food is what brings people in. The restaurant was packed! It might be a good thing to make a reservation, we called ahead to see what the wait time was and really just lucked out.
I didn’t have any idea what to expect, I had never had Afghani food. Katie had mentioned the kaddo ($7.95) and how if I went, I HAD to try it. It is a pan fried, then baked baby pumpkin seasoned with sugar, served over a yogurt garlic sauce and topped with a ground beef sauce. I know what you’re thinking, pumpkin with a meat sauce? I know, sounds not so great, but let me tell you that this is THE most delicious meal that Leah and I have tried in a very long time. The pumpkin is just sweet enough, you can taste the brown sugar and the meat sauce is like a bolognese sauce, it works surprisingly well with the pumpkin. I could have eaten 10lbs of this, it was that good.
So how do you top that, you really can’t right? There are two kinds of rice at the Helmand, the Challow is rice boiled then drained of water, seasoned with canola oil, cumin seed and then baked. The Pallow is rice boiled then drained of water, seasoned with canola oil,cardomum, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin seed and black pepper and then baked. We had the challow, shown above.
We split the Kofta Challow ($16.95), Beef meatballs with Afghan seasonings sauteed with sun-dried tomato, hot peppers and green peas in a fresh tomato sauce, served with challow rice. These were delicious, I would certainly get this again.
To be honest, I can’t remember what this dish was, and it was a special, so I couldn’t look it up. Regardless, we both agreed that we weren’t fans of this dish…whatever it was.
For dessert we had the Bucklawa ($6.95), like baklava, layers of homemade thin pastry with walnuts, almonds, pistachios, spiced with cinnamon and cloves, then baked and finished with honey caramel. This was similar to baklava but was heavy on the clove spice which I’m not all that into in the first place. So this dessert didn’t do it for me. I can’t wait to go back and I am looking for suggestions!
What’s your favorite dish at The Helmand?
143 First Street, Cambridge, MA
Did you know that Pinkberry serves breakfast? I was pumped to try it out since Pinkberry is my favorite yogurt place.
I ordered the acai bowl with granola and raspberries and a Barrington coffee. The coffee prep was impressive, the girl behind the counter made if with a French press.
The acai bowl on the other hand was a little disappointing. I expected it to look as beautiful as it did in the pictures I had seen advertising the new breakfast, but it honestly looked unappetizing. I wasn’t sure what the consistency of the acai bowl was supposed to be, I thought it would be a little firmer, but it was more like a juice in a bowl – my granola was a little soggy and the berries sunk to the bottom.
So I ordered a smoothie to make up for the acai bowl, which ended up being pretty tasty, but again, I would have enjoyed a thicker consistency. Don’t worry Pinkberry, you are still my favorite place for yogurt!
Disclaimer: I was invited to visit Pinkberry for a complimentary coffee and power bowl. I paid for my smoothie. All opinions are my own.
49 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA
Portland might be one of my favorite places, not only for the views and the shops, but for the amount of delicious restaurants packed into a small area. It’s so hard to choose where to go each time, but this time we opted to check out the Honey Paw. It’s the sister restaurant to Hugo’s and Eventide Oyster next door. I love the decor here, from the honeycomb lamp shades to the bear artwork by the restroom. There is large communal table by the window and a U shaped counter that goes around the perimeter of the restaurant. They market themselves as a non denominational noodle bar, that serves up pasta from across the globe.
We started off with the Brussels sprouts ($9), I love the presentation.
They came piled high on the plate and topped with crispy onions.
Next we had the red braised spare ribs ($14), a special item that day, that came with a chili glaze, sesame and peanut. These were delicious, the meat was so tender.
For my main meal I had the Vietnamese chili lobster ($20) that was yellow noodles, 1/2 a lobster tail, littlenecks, and a pork meatball served with red sauce, salted cabbage and cilantro. This was like an asian fra diablo (with meatballs). It was really quite delicious and I loved the kick.
The Honey Paw
78 Middle Street, Portland, ME
The restaurant is outfitted with retro booths and had plenty of seating.
In addition to burgers they have a variety of other sandwiches, such as a grilled cheese, a roast beef, a crispy fried chicken and a house roasted turkey. You can get a hamburger or a WUBurger, which comes topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato and wusauce.
WUBurger has a variety of toppings that range from complimentary to $1 per topping:
Complimentary Toppings: Lettuce, Tomato, Raw Onion, Pickles, Relish, Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, BBQ Sauce, WuSauce
Regular Toppings ($0.50): Grilled Onions, Grilled Mushrooms, Jalapeno, American Cheese, Cheddar Cheese, Swiss Cheese
Premium Toppings ($1.00): Applewood Smoked Bacon, Blue Cheese, Fried Egg, Crispy Fried Onions, Homemade Chili
I had a cheeseburger with swiss cheese and a fried egg on the potato roll (they also offer a sesame seed bun). I really liked this burger and the egg was cooked perfectly, over easy, so the egg yolk broke and added some creamy goodness to the burger.
The sign out front says that they serve Mr. Charlie’s ice cream, which is really Richardson’s ice cream. Love it! I had the Tollhouse cookie ice cream with Reese’s Pieces. Waiting for them to get their new peanut butter warmer, because this girl loves her some peanut butter sauce on her ice cream!
How do you top your WUBurger?
880 Main Street, Woburn, MA
Donuts are my friend Lollie’s thing. We were talking about the best places to get them and she told me about Anna’s Hand Cut Donuts in West Roxbury. This hole in the wall place is open at 5am and are sold out by lunch. Old timers sit at the counter and chat while drinking coffee and eating breakfast. This place is cash only and doesn’t have a website or a Facebook page.
So here is the loot: I got 6 donuts, well, I cut them in half to share with my other taste tester, so that’s really only three donuts right?! So starting at the top right and moving clockwise: glazed, blackberry filled, chocolate crunch, butter crunch, lemon filled and sugar. My favorite by far was the glazed, simple and (not too) sweet it just melted away in my mouth. The sugar was a close second. The jam in the blackberry filled was delicious, but I wished that there was more of it. The lemon filled was a little sweet for my taste, but then again, I’m not really a lemon filled kind of gal (got that one for the other taste tester). The crunch donuts, butter and chocolate, we cake-y and light, but I wished that there was more crunch to the crunch. Overall some good donuts, plain, simple and old school.
Anna’s Hand Cut Donuts
2056 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA
We met my cousin Ruth at Hash House a Go Go at Mohegan Sun. It’s one of the only restaurants that is open for lunch. Not quite as charming as the one we went to in California, but it was still good. The portions are enormous and they have more options for hash than you’ll know what to do with. I always love a good old fashioned farm house scramble and they all come with your choice of griddled mashed or crispy potatoes, fruit and a biscuit.
For lunch and dinner they have other items on the menu like sandwiches, salads, burgers and that famous fried chicken.Like all things at this casino, either go big or go home!
Hash House A Go Go
Mohegan Sun Casino, 1 Mohegan Sun Boulevard, Montville, CT
We love Stowe and since I was a kid, we had been going in the winter time – even though we don’t ski. And then, one day about 5 years ago, we decided to go in June. Vermont is like a whole different place! There is so much greenery and there are so many other things Vermont has to offer besides skiing.
We used to head up to Trapp Family Lodge in the winter, but now we stay at the Stowe Mountain Lodge. There’s something great that happens when you turn into the driveway and this hotel. I think my favorite part of the resort is the valet guys. I say it over and over again – they are the first people you see when you enter the hotel – they are friendly and courteous, just some really excellent customer service.
The lobby is beautiful. You can see the mountain out the windows in the back. They bring the outside in by using birch branches – he whole lodge is rustic chic.
All the rooms are different. This year we stayed in a two bedroom suite. The main room had the kitchen, the dining area and the living space.
There was a separate room that you could close off from the main room with two beds.
We were on the first floor and looked out onto the street on the backside of the hotel.
Here’s a look at the breakfast/dining nook.
The bedroom in the main room had a king sized bed and a bathroom with a shower and a tub.
They are currently going through a renovation that will include an adventure center. They have already added some new shops and restaurants on the property.
They have a great heated swim in swim out pool. You can hang out and order lunch and have it poolside or cool off and have an ice cream sandwich. They have a game room for the kids along with a zip line on the property. They are affiliated with the golf course next door so if golf is your thing, you should definitely check out the course, it’s beautiful. Not in the mood to play a full round? Take a lesson with the resident golf pro on site. They also have a spa on site that is excellent. I love the relaxation room, it overlooks the pool and you can see the mountain in the background.
Are you more of the outdoorsy type? They have a great bike/walking trail that runs down the mountain and into town. This part of the trail was near Topnotch.
Vermont is known for their covered bridges.
If you’re lucky you can catch a glimpse of some of the horses out in the fields along the trail. Trapp Family Lodge also has a bunch of animals: Highland cattle, chickens and horses.
For more information about Stowe, check out the GoStowe website.
If you go out of the hotel driveway and take a right, there is this crazy winding road that has some places to turn off and you can go hiking. They have a lot of beautiful waterfalls along the way.
Stowe Mountain Lodge
7412 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT
Check out their website here.
And check out my other reviews about Stowe here.
They have two great spaces, the room in front is light and open with a long bar for guests to grab casual bite. They also offer a back patio, which will be great in the warm weather, but is equally great in the colder months as it is covered and heated.
We start off with the p.e.i. mussels ($15) with roasted carrot and almond romesco, green onion and cava. The sauce was so delicious – the carrot was so subtle. This was a welcome change from the typical mussels in white wine.
Next we had the Vermont burrata ($20) that was wonderfully creamy and had a nice bite to it with the peppers. The toast that it came with was a bit too crispy for our taste – but they brought us fresh bread which was not only great with this dish but also great for getting al that sauce from the mussels.
We shared the dressed Maine lobster ($29) that came simply dressed and served cold. The dish went a little heavy on the lime juice and olive oil so you missed the sweetness of the lobster.
Select Oyster Bar
50 Gloucester Street, Boston, MA
We headed over to the Chestnut Hill mall to get some gelato at Morano Gelato. Morano is a New England based company that makes gelato in small batches.
There’s a large window where, if you’re lucky, you can catch a glimpse of them making the gelato.
What is gelato? It’s Italian ice cream that has much lower butterfat than American ice cream (making the flavors bolder), is denser than American ice cream (making it a higher quality product) and is served at a warmer temperature (to ensure maximum creamy texture and bold flavor).
The prices are a bit on the pricey side, but the quality and flavor selection make it totally worth the trip!
What’s your favorite flavor of gelato??
199 Boylston Street, Chestnut Hill, MA