Monday, April 30, 2007

Roanoke, VA, Billy's Ritz

We first went here in 1983 and then again in 2003 (seeing a pattern here?) and enjoyed this funky place each time. Well six of us returned in 2007 and must say the food is still good and service smack on.

Billy's Ritz, 102 Salem SE, Roanoke, ph: 540.342.3937

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2nd review

Rose's on Reed's Lake in East Grand Rapids. If you are in the city for a few days and looking for a place to have a great burger or delicious salad with a nice view overlooking this tiny lake, then Rose's is the place for you.

Ignore the fact that Grand Rapids actually hosted the younger and dumber President Bush on not one but three separate occasions and just focus on the food. Of course that's not much consolation is it?



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Grand Rapids, Michigan

This city in western Michigan is generally noted for its number of churches but is also home to a very large number of dining establishments as well. In fact, I've been told that Grand Rapids probably has more churches and restaurants per capita than nearly any other place in the US. It's just the most of the restaurants in the city aren't, well, very good.

One that is very good however is the Tuscan Grill on 28th st. in Cascade Township. Chef-owner Dan Chudik has been around the Michigan food scene for lots of years and has always been known for producing outstanding food.

We dined there recently with our friends Stan and Margaret and were surprised to find that Chef Dan had several dishes on the menu with fresh Porcini mushrooms. That's right fresh, not dried. And yes they were delicious.

One of the specials for the evening was pan-seared Walleye, which was so good my mother-in-law, not generally keen on fish, thought it one of the best things she's tasted in years! The Bolognese sauce was by far one of the richest, meatiest and authentic Bologna sauces I've tasted outside of Emilia-Romagna!

Prices are somewhat high: a 3-course dinner for two without wine or drinks could see 100 bucks slipping out of your wallet pretty fast. Service was very attentive and efficient even though they were quite busy throughout much of the evening (it is popular apparently).

Buon appetito!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Buffalo, New York

Well this was a quick one-night stand just outside of Buffalo, on our way to Michigan:

The Chang Garden: not terribly great Chinese food but filling and tending toward flavor. Skip the spring roll though and pass on the (jug) wine. The fried rice was tasty though. Service perfunctory.

Location: 938 Maple Rd, Williamsville, NY; ph: 716.689.3355. Get off I-290 at Millerpsort rd., exit 5B, turn right onto Millersport, first left at Flint and then first right at Maple rd.; restaurant is about a mile or so on the left.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Woodman's in Orono, Maine

Orono, ME -- Located just outside of Bangor, Maine, and less than three hours from New Brunswick, Canada, the small college town of Orono, Maine boasts few dining establishments.

However if you find yourself approaching the Atlantic time zone and need a bite to eat, one place you might consider is Woodman's Bar and Grill. Located in the old NOAA office building in "downtown" Orono (well downtown, uptown both rolled together here) Woodman's is not terribly large. And while they don't take reservations they do have a fine pool table (a buck a game) to while away your time waiting for a table. Also the burgers are reportedly the best around. The french fries are fresh and you can even substitute sweet potatoe fries! Take my word for it they are deeeeelicious!

Three of our group each had a cup of seafood chowder for starters and it was scrumptious! Packed with potatoes and lots of fish and shrimp pieces it was perfect for a cold winter evening (even though it was April).

I had a steak and baked potato, the later OK but the steak very good; two others had burgers and raved about them, while two had salmon, which they thought was overcooked and dry. The winelist is quite meager and not well put together for beef, but they do offer what wines they have by the glass or bottle.

Service was professional, pleasant and very good (Heather was our server). Although the food was a bit slow coming to the table my feeling is that anything good is worth waiting for, right? Parking is difficult but I'm told that's pretty much true around Orono anyway.

So stick with the beef and you can't go wrong!

Five adults ate there for about $125, which I thought a bit high, and did not include wine but did include before dinner drinks.

Woodman's Bar and Grill, 31 Main street, ph: 207.866.4040.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Vermont dining in April

Rutland, VT -- Food options in the tiny state of Vermont run the gamut from junk (McD's) and garbage (anything with family dining in the title) to very good and occasionally truly great.

Our latest trip was spent in Rutland, located near Killington Mountain, and not generally known for its diverse and tasty food. (Stay away from the croissants at the Coffee Exchange downtown: we thought they were probably old, but additional problems were margarine instead of butter and inadequate folding/kneading.)

Anyway if you find yourself in this part of the Green Mountain State check out the following two places:

Little Harry's -- pretty much a landmark downtown today Little Harry's is the offshoot of Harry's restaurant located near Mount Holly. Great food, adequate winelist, very friendly staff. Ask for Jack the co-owner/bartender/manager -- he's one of the nicest guys you'll meet in Rutland.

Countryman's Pleasure -- located just across from the Best Western motel on the road out of Rutland up the mountain. The specialty here is Austrian cuisine. The food is pretty good as is the service. While the wine list is not bad, with a small selection of Alsatian and German wines, the prices are quite high, particularly by the glass: Seven, eight or ten dollars for a glass of wine is, I think, outrageous.