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Sweetwater Tavern

23 Sep

On Saturday evening, we were invited to dinner with friends Amir and Tina.  Tina and Ed work together and Amir and I happen to work in the same type of field.  Talk about a coincidence.

We always enjoy going out with these two because they are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to great restaurants in the area.  Once again, they did not steer us wrong.

As usual, we managed to have our dinner out in Virginia at Sweetwater Tavern.  We really do eat at places in Maryland on occasion, but apparently, it hasn’t been a priority lately.  We’re branching out!

Dubbed a “Great American Restaurant”, Ed and I were both surprised and excited to find out that Sweetwater had it own brewery located inside the restaurant.  So, naturally and with no hesitation, I started my meal with the Naked River Light lager.

Naked River Light

It was light, golden and clean.  Just how I prefer it.

With our drinks, we also indulged in some of their beer bread or beer donuts to be more descriptive.  Made from beer from their brewery, these beautiful little creations could easily be mistaken for a dessert.  I may have encouraged a second bowl before our meals actually came.

Beer in bread…Genius.

Just saying.

For my meal, I chose the Hickory BBQ Burger since it sounded most appropriate with my drink of choice.  The burger was smothered in melting cheddar jack cheese and hickory BBQ sauce.

Hickory BBQ Burger with Sweet Potato Fries

I chose sweet potato fries as a substitute for the Great American fries because, well, you just can’t beat them.  The hickory BBQ sauce was sweet and tangy and matched the cheddar jack cheese very well.  I couldn’t manage to get it all down, but the flavor didn’t escape as leftovers for lunch the next day. 😉

Don’t you worry, you’re coming home with me.

Ed went with the traditional 25 oz. Black Angus Prime Rib and it cannot go unmentioned.

Traditional 25 oz. Black Angus Prime Rib

Sided with red skin mashed potatoes and homemade horseradish, Ed was in meat heaven.  Easily one of the restaurants most favorite dishes as I couldn’t help noticing it’s presence on every table around us.

This restaurant was definitely a favorite for Ed and I and is going on our list of restaurants to take our out of town visitors.

What is your favorite “Great American” restaurant?

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Harpoon Hanna’s and Ocean City Boardwalk

15 Sep

Ocean City brings back a lot of memories for me.  For years, my family would visit there for vacations and it was exciting to visit again and to bring my husband.

Before heading to the beach area, we stopped by a nearby restaurant for lunch to refuel from our morning bike trip.

Harpoon Hanna’s Restaurant and Tiki Bar

Actually located right outside Ocean City in Fenwick Island, Deleware, we visited Harpoon Hanna’s for lunch.  I had heard of this restaurant last summer from a co-worker who’s daughter worked there while out of college.  After reading the menu online, we decided to put it on the “to do list” for the day.

We opted for an outdoor table on the deck by the water.

It was scenic, peaceful and chilly!

While the sun was out, the wind was breezy near the water.  To warm our bellies, we ordered a bowl of Maryland Crab Soup to start.

This picture was taken post a bite or two 😉

The menu claimed the soup to be a local favorite, which always sparks my attention and it did not disappoint.  The broth was a spicy tomato vegetable filled with small lumps of crab meat.  I think the spice was paprika.  It was very tasty and we gobbled it all up in no time.

For my entree, I ordered the Crabby Sliders.  The sliders included lump crab balls topped with American cheese on mini potato buns.  The plate was garnished with lettuce, tomato and a special bistro sauce that Ed kept snagging to dip his flounder in.

Crabby Sliders

The only thing I would change the next time I ordered this dish would be to remove the American cheese.  I didn’t taste it and would not have missed it.  The crab meat stole the show!

Delicious!

We opted not to order dessert and saved room for a boardwalk treat to come.

When we left the restaurant, I cracked up when we walked to our car…

We were surrounded!

I know we didn’t leave the car this way. 🙂  This weekend just happened to also be Bike Weekend in Ocean City.  It was noisy and crowded to say the least and I’m pretty sure the motorcycle’s beat out the cars by the hundreds.  Apparently we missed the memo on “motorbikes” and not “road bikes” this weekend.

Once parked, we grabbed our bikes and headed to the Ocean City Boardwalk for some more riding.  While the morning gave a cool breeze, the sun was running full blast this afternoon.

We headed down to the pier and relaxed before grabbing and sharing an orange vanilla swirl ice-cream bowl.  The picture didn’t make it’s way to the blog.  We didn’t mess around.

Our pier view.

While much of the boardwalk has changed since I was younger, I was pleased to see some things have stayed the same too.

The “sandman” is still sculpting.

And Thrasher’s French Fries (nicknamed “Boardwalk Fries”) are still around every corner you turn.

THRASHER’S!

After our treats, we were on our way back home for the night.  I love being close enough to the ocean to visit in a day.  Maybe one day we’ll get even that much closer. 😉

What are your favorite family vacations from your childhood?

Some of my families favorite vacations include Disney World and Virginia Beach.  My parents still visit Virginia Beach on a yearly basis and Disney World holds so many great memories for all of us.  I personally loved our beach vacation to Myrtle Beach.  We camped in our camper on a great campground and enjoyed a lot of what it had to offer.  Including a lazy river at the pool.  Fantastic.

Pho Saigon 54

30 Aug

Today, a co-worker asked me to go out for lunch instead of my usual workout routine.  It took me all of 5 seconds to forget about the workout I planned to do today and say, “YES!”  I rarely go out for lunch on working days.  It’s one of my many ways to stay on budget, but it’s so nice to escape once in a while too.

I suggested someplace different that my co-worker had never heard of before.  I believe her reaction was pretty priceless at the mention of Pho.  “What?!?”  Was her reaction and take my word for it, it was priceless.  Maybe she thought I was cursing at her?

We headed to Pho Saigon 54 for our lunch outing and some traditional Vietnamese cuisine.  I had been here once before and was looking forward to the same smells and flavors that this Vietnamese dish had coming my way.

We both ordered the healthy white meat chicken pho dish.  The soup dish was delivered over a heaping bed of rice noodles garnished with green onions and fresh cilantro in a savory broth.  On the side, the waiter brought a healthy plate of crisp bean sprouts, sweet Thai basil, fresh jalapenos (I just skipped over these bad boys) and lime wedges.

“Ooooh…Pho”

I filled up my bowl with a good amount of bean sprouts and squeezed a large amount of lime juice into my bowl before digging in.  It was so yummy and also wallet friendly.  A small bowl (24 oz) was more than enough for me.  I even had some leftover to bring home for Ed.

Leftovers

Won’t he be thrilled 😉

This meal ended up being exactly what I needed before the long drive back to Ohio for holiday weekend festivities!

What are your plans for Labor Day weekend?

Date Night – Seasons 52

26 Aug

Last night, after we spent most of the day completing our assignments and cleaning, Ed and I got all dressed up and went out to a late dinner at Seasons 52 to get a head start on celebrating our first wedding anniversary this week.  We had a Darden gift card to use from a Christmas present from my aunt and uncle, so we were excited that it was good on a restaurant that we had not tried yet.  (They are not located where we are from in Ohio)  After I screwed up the original reservation (I made it for the restaurant in VA instead of MD), Ed saved the day and realized that the Virginia location is only 15 minutes or so past the Maryland location.

So, we hopped in the car for another Virginia night out.

We got to Tyson’s Corners a bit earlier then expected and browsed the mall inside.  Once seated, we were were introduced to our waiter who explained the menu to us.  We were in the Summer season menu and it was full of appetizers, entrees and drinks the were surely getting my summer taste buds ready.  The best part, every dish on their menu is said to be under 475 calories.  Now, once you read through this post, you and I will both know I probably went over that number.  Let’s just enjoy the fact that this number may have been possible if we weren’t celebrating.

First up, I ordered my drink of choice.

Watermelon Refresher

The Watermelon Refresher had rum, muddled watermelon, lime juice and agave nectar.  While I like rum, mine was really kicked into high gear tonight.  Warm and refreshing to say the least 🙂

Ed and I opted for the Maryland Crab, Roasted Shrimp & Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms under Parmesan-panko crust for our appetizer.

Being “Marylanders” now, Ed and I can’t get away from always enjoying some good crab meat.  The Parmesan-panko crust stole the show though and was perfectly crusted across the whole dish giving each bite a taste.

Our entrees were difficult to pin down, but we eventually settled on one for each of us from different parts of the menu.

Ed’s Entree

Since we were in celebration mode, Ed chose the Piedmontese All-Natural Bone-in Strip Steak, 11 oz.  served with fresh string beans, cremini mushrooms and a side of rice.  I had a bite  (or two) of it myself.  Marinated in a tangy and white wine sauce, this steak had a perfect flavor.

My Entree

I chose my entree off the fish and seafood side of the menu and I was thrilled with the decision.  Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout served with parsley new potatoes, roasted rainbow carrots, broiled lemon and fresh string beans.  The trout literally melted in my mouth and I had no problem eating every last bit.  Ed couldn’t resist a few bites himself.  The vegetables were all super fresh and lightly seasoned.  The string beans were the winner overall and the potatoes a close, CLOSE second.

Dessert wasn’t far behind where their “dessert menu” includes bringing all of their mini-indulgences out to you in a nice table scape where you choose right there which one you would like to indulge in.  Ed commented on what a good business tactic this was.

“Seriously, how could you only choose one after seeing them all?”

Mini-Indulgences

We were both good and each chose one dessert for the end of a fabulous meal.

Ed chose Mocha Macchiato and I chose (no surprise) Key Lime Pie.  Naturally we both took a swig of the others and I will honestly say that Key Lime won!  Hands down, no contest.  But I’m biased.  Key Lime will always be my favorite.  These desserts were perfectly portioned and creamy.  I didn’t feel one bit guilty the whole evening.

We had a great meal to celebrate one year of wedded bliss and more to come.

Cheers to marriage!

Ladies’ Night – Cuba de Ayer

24 Aug

Girls night happened Thursday night in a fun and unexpected fashion and included a few special ladies.

My friend Kelly and her daughters, Cienna and Charlotte were in the area where I live (they only live about 35 minutes away, but in rush hour DC time, this is a rare occasion) and wanted to meet for dinner.  Of course, I worked 45 minutes late and was currently in my work parking lot when she called.

“Fail.”

But Kelly was persistent and it took a whole 30 seconds to convince me to meet her and the girls for dinner.  They’re currently having a “staycation” while most daycare’s are not in business being the week before school and dad is traveling for work.  Kelly wanted “Spanish like food” and I immediately thought of a great place, but I can never remember the name.  So, a quick Google search and text to another friend while sitting in traffic and I found I was only 10 minutes away from Cuba de Ayer.

Isn’t it such an eye sore from the outside?  I’ve been here twice before and it has DELICIOUS and authentic Cuban food.

We started the meal with Tostones Relleno which included stuffed green plantains with shredded beef.

Yummy!

Just so we’re clear, this was a nice place.  Our meals were not served in styrofoam trays…this was a post dinner shot of a Totstones Relleno which made it back home with me 🙂

Then we ordered our main dishes.  I ordered Ropa Vieja.  I had only ordered pork here before and the beef did not disappoint.  So, tasty! The sweet plantains and black beans were spot on too.  Rice…yeah…that went home in a box for my husband 🙂

The above is a photo of my dish from their website.  I couldn’t get a good shot before the food hit my mouth.

While dessert was tempting, we knew we would be back without kids to indulge in their homemade Rum Cake.

It.Is.Awesome.

The only down fall of this hole in the wall gem is the space.  While we were there on time and able to get a comfortable table, it gets crowded, fast!  There is no waiting area which means when you wait, you are standing right in someones dining area.  I’ve been on both sides.  Both are awkward.

As you may remember from my Simple Things A to Z post, Ed and I are local food restaurant snobs.  We love hole in the wall places and make it a point to avoid chain restaurants at all costs for date nights.  Our taste buds usually thank us.

Maryland Friends

Kelly became a fast friend when I first moved here.  Her, her husband, Jake, and two girls transferred to MD from Miami, FL the same time I did from Cleveland, Ohio in April 2011.

“Yes, there were some tense basketball conversations this past season.  Obviously, I lost.”

Jake and I worked for the same agency while Kelly also got a job at the time they were transferring (Talk about perfect timing!).  Kelly and I work on the same campus and were put in the same orientation class.  We quickly found we both shared a lot of the same tastes for fun and new experiences in life and have since spent lots of time planning events from tea parties to rock climbing.

Moulin de Paris Evening Tea – June 2012

We started experiencing Maryland/DC together.  She encouraged me to go back to school to finish my masters degree and has made it her goal to find a home for Ed and I closer to her house.

Elyse – “What about this house?”
Kelly – “Nope, to far from me.”

And that’s, that.

We’re planning a girls getaway to NYC to visit her sister, Elsa (Maria) in October.  We are SO excited!  It’s sure to be a weekend of crazy girl events, typical touristy attractions (Like maybe the Cake Boss store!) and very little sleep.

So, now I ask you…

“What would you do on a girls weekend to New York City?”

P.S. Did you know you can “Follow” my blog through through your email?  Take a look to the right of your screen and click the “Follow” button to keep up with more food reviews, recipes and workout routines!

Date Night – Pork Barrel BBQ

22 Jul

The hubby and I are big fans of hole in the wall, non-chain, gem restaurants.  We almost never eat at the same place twice.  When we moved from NE Ohio to Central Maryland, we were in a heaven of new eats to try from seafood to burgers to Ethiopian to Italian.  The list goes on forever.

While the summer has been full of beach Saturday’s this year, today was a rather rainy one, so we skipped out and stayed in…but the dreary day got the best of me…

“I needed to get out!”

So, we did a quick wardrobe change and headed to Old Town Alexandria, VA for dinner.

After watching one of our new favorite shows, Shark Tank, we were excited to go check out a local BBQ place that “struck a deal” to get their signature sauce out on the market and open their first restaurant.  After getting to know a bit of their story from the show, I knew we had to give it a try and the hubby is never one to pass on BBQ ribs.

After some rainy traffic, we made it to Pork Barrel BBQ around 6:30 pm and we were so excited to get things moving because our stomachs were now officially rumbling.  With a glance at the menu, we chose what we each wanted…and then decided to ditch that idea and go for the “The Big Feed”!

Holy Meat! 1/2 Rack of ribs, brisket, pulled pork, 2 sides and a couple others I know I’m forgetting.  Needless to say, we shared this and brought a good portion home for leftovers.

Review:  We we pleasantly surprised with the flavors of their sauces.  There were three to choose from.  Original, Sweet and Mustard.  We both agreed and made the Sweet our flavor of choice for the evening.  Our sides included Sweet BBQ Baked Beans (right) and Texas Caviar (left).  If there were to be a next time, I would order two orders of the Sweet Baked Beans. Yum!!

The ambiance of the restaurant was laid back, seat yourself with a busy bar scene to take advantage of.  My type of place 😉  Apparently everyone else thought so too, because at 7:00 pm on the dot…this sign went up.

Glad we got there when we did.

Overall, it was an relaxing evening out to a place we wanted to try and adventurous drive through rainy, DC traffic.   We got a peek at Old Town Alexandria and now I get to contemplate the workout routine for the morning to burn off those ribs 🙂

Pork Barrel BBQ – You didn’t disappoint!

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