Category: Restaurant Reviews

Off The Grid

Dolores Park

Long time no update! A lot has happened since my last post, one of the main things being that I moved to San Francisco. It’s been a crazy few months settling down and trying to find a job. One of the greatest things about this city is it’s diversity; the people, culture, and most importantly food…this city has everything.

I had the opportunity to visit Off The Grid on a Friday night recently and was really able to experience the melting pot that is San Francisco. To give a little bit of background, Off The Grid is a group that operates weekly public markets all throughout San Francisco. The markets are made up of various food trucks and local businesses. On Friday nights, Off The Grid can be found in Fort Mason with a ton of food trucks, great drinks, and live music.

Off The Grid @ Fort Mason

Off The Grid @ Fort Mason

Walking down the line of food trucks and vendors, I was excited to see so much variety. From Ethiopian to Vietnamese, there were so many different trucks and cuisines to choose from. My friends and I thought the best plan of action would be to share things from multiple trucks so we could really try everything.

One of my favorite trucks was The Chairman Truck. They specialized in one of my favorite foods; Taiwanese pork belly buns. I’m a sucker for the traditional soft, sweet outer steamed bun with fatty braised pork belly and crispy pickled turnip greens. I’ve even written about them before, in case you haven’t read.

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The Chairman Truck offered their version of the traditional pork belly bun and also had a few great creative spins of their own. On the left is their traditional bun. One of their special creations was the Coca-Cola Braised Pork with Savoy Cabbage and Preserved Yellow Mustard Seeds, pictured on the right above. Both pork buns were pretty amazing. The traditional pork belly bun came with pickled daikon radish and green shiso, a light herb that is often used in Japanese cooking.

I was definitely a fan of the contrast in textures between the succulent pork belly and the crunch of the crisp radishes. The Coca-Cola braised pork bun was also phenomenal. The preserved mustard seeds really added an interested level of flavor and complimented the sweet and savory Coca-Cola braised pork. The pork itself had was nice and crisp on the outside which would immediately melt in your mouth once you take a bite. Paired with the watery crunch of the savoy cabbage which was slightly pickled, the whole pork bun was truly incredible. Follow The Chairman Truck on Twitter to get updates on where they’ll be throughout the week!

Before I had even made a dent on the countless great food vendors at Off The Grid I was already full from only visiting 3. I will definitely be back and am hoping to share that experience with you guys as well. Be sure to check it out if you’re ever in the San Francisco Bay Area- you can visit Off The Grid’s website and follow them on Twitter or Facebook for more information.

Flo’s Place Restaurant and Bar

Flo's PlaceI’m finally venturing out of Durham for this restaurant review on Flo’s Place Restaurant and Bar in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. If you’re ever in Myrtle Beach or Pawley’s Island, I definitely recommend checking this place out.

A throwback to New Orleans and all things Mardi Gras, I consider Flo’s Place an eccentric and unique hidden gem in the middle of pretty much nowhere. Situated right alongside the marsh, Flo’s Place has both indoor and outdoor seating, all with a view of what a little imagination would call the South Carolinian bayou. That might be a stretch but Flo’s is a place where you can really have fun and let loose a bit.

The menu features a lot of exciting NOLA classics made with fresh and local seafood. From poboys of fried oysters, crab cakes, and fish, to gumbo, red beans and rice with sausage, and even shrimp creole, the menu was extensive to say the least. Our waiter was Mark, a really friendly guy who told us about that Flo’s was most famous for their shrimp balls, best enjoyed in a poboy. A few of my friends opted for that while I ordered the mahi mahi fish tacos.All of our food was excellent.

Fish Tacos

After finishing the first one…whoops..they’re just that good

My two fish tacos had a generous grilled mahi filet on a bed of lettuce and tomato, remoulade sauce, as well as some cole slaw on the side.  I am a sucker for fresh fish, especially when they’re presented in what I consider to be the most simplistic and perfect way to eat them; taco style. The problem I see with a lot of places and their fish tacos is that either the fish is fried, which can be done well, but usually isn’t, or the fillings don’t pair well with the fish themselves. Flo’s did it right. Their meaty fish was perfect on a bed of plain lettuce and tomato which was all brought together with the remoulade sauce. The freshness of the fish with the crisp lettuce and tang and sweetness from the tomatoes all married under the creamy red remoulade sauce that was slightly smoky. The cole slaw was a definite homage to a southern classic and I found theirs to be pretty good. Bigger pieces of cabbage and not too creamy with a sweetness that made the dish really well rounded; I was thoroughly impressed with this place! I devoured my first taco before I remembered I hadn’t taken a picture of it yet. I should really work on my food photo skills.

While I didn’t get to take a picture of my friends’ shrimp ball poboys, I did manage to get a bite and it did not disappoint. I don’t know exactly what the shrimp balls were but they tasted like a light and airy cornmeal hushpuppy with loads of roughly ground shrimp with a ton of flavor. They were friend perfectly, not too greasy and definitely fluffy. I would probably guess that the ratio of shrimp and batter is about 90-10, these things are definitely full of shrimp and that was probably the best part. Their poboys looked filling.

By the time we were all done, none of us wanted to leave. It was a combination of the awesome atmosphere (perfect weather for outdoor seating) along with the beautiful view of the marshlands, and of course, we were all stuffed from all of the generous portions. Although I’m not sure Pawley’s Island or Murrells Inlet is a common vacation destination or tourist spot, I’d have to say that Flo’s Place Restaurant and Bar is a definite must-see/must-eat establishment. Whether you’re driving through or staying for the long haul, make sure you check this place out for some great food and a really fun experience. 

Check out their Facebook page! Remember to follow me on Twitter and let me know what you think!

Harvest 18 Restaurant

 

Red Pea Hummus

I should really work on my food picture taking skills…

Recently checked out a relatively new restaurant in Durham, Harvest 18. It’s actually very close to Rise Biscuits and Donuts, the last place I wrote a review about. I’m always up for trying new things and eating at new places so I figured I’d give this place a shot.

Harvest 18 is a pretty cool farm to table restaurant that offers a daily menu that features Southern food made with really fresh ingredients.  It’s always interesting to me when restaurants here in North Carolina self promote being “locally sourced” or “farm to table”. This state has some of the freshest and best produce around…shouldn’t restaurants automatically source locally?

Anyways, the overall layout of the restaurant was pretty nice. I was really impressed with the outdoor seating, which had a really classic Southern feel to it with lights hanging across beams, wooden tables, and metal chairs. All of the light posts were mounted in boxes with herbs like rosemary and mint which I thought was pretty cool. Even though the restaurant is in the middle of a shopping center with Target and Michaels, the outdoor seating was a nice implant of another world. I liked it.

The menu, which was dated to prove that they’re changed daily, had a lot of great choices. As an appetizer, we ordered the red pea hummus, which was pretty amazing. The hummus was garnished with some pickled vegetables so there was a nice contrast between tangy and creamy, crunchy and smooth, and salty and sweet. The whole wheat pita bread they used is also from one of my favorite places so that was a huge plus. (shoutout to Neomonde!)

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Mahi Mahi with mustard greens, sweet potato, and farro

I got the pan seared mahi mahi which was served with sautéed sweet potatoes and mustard greens all on top of some farro with a kind of balsamic sauce. You can never really go wrong with me with a dish like this. It was truly a simple but yet powerful dish; each element really spoke out on it’s own and was nicely balanced with each other. There was no heavy sauce or onslaught of herbs and spices which allows for the fresh components to be truly enjoyed. The most “complex” flavor on that plate was probably the balsamic…dressing? It was actually a pretty weird sauce that seemed a little out of balance with the rest of the dish BUT I do see why that it was meant to be a nice acidic contrast to everything else. Overall, the dish was pretty nicely done. I’ve always been a fan of fresh, local produce so I wasn’t surprised that I enjoyed my dish.

All in all, I really enjoyed my lunch experience at Harvest 18. I am definitely a fan of their concept and hope to go back for dinner one day.

Check out their Twitter! They post their daily menu on their Facebook page too so check it out!

Rise Biscuits and Donuts

Yesterday I had breakfast with my mom at Rise Biscuits and Donuts in Durham, NC. I heard this place had really good biscuits so I thought I’d give it a try. Love for food runs in the family so my mom was happy to try the place out as well.

Walking in, the small store actually had a really cool vibe to it. The layout is similar to any other bakery, clerks at the front and a window display of some beautiful donuts. I should have taken a picture of them but I also didn’t anticipate blogging about the place. There was a small bar type seating area to the side along with a beverage station that had a really cool bookshelf next to it complete with what looked like vintage cookbooks.

The menu at Rise is pretty simple, the name says it all; biscuits and donuts are their specialty. I decided to go with a bacon and egg biscuit while my mom went with a plain biscuit.

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Alright I know I don’t have the best photography skills and I have to say, my picture really does the biscuit no justice. My bacon and egg biscuit was one of the best biscuits I have ever had. The bacon was great. As a bacon connoisseur, I love bacon that isn’t crispy like a cracker but also isn’t too soft either. This bacon had a perfect balance between salty and sweet and had was really cooked perfectly. The egg was also great and matched well with the bacon.

The biscuit itself was also amazing. I am not a fan of doughy biscuits. You know the kind that seem to not be cooked enough and are really mushy in the center so you end up with swallowing a huge ball of buttery dough..well the biscuits at Rise are far from that. They’re nice and fluffy and not so oily that your hands end up with a layer of grease on them. Our biscuits were baked perfectly, a light crust on the outside that was a nice contrast to the soft inside. I really have no complaints about the biscuits at Rise.

If you’re ever in the Raleigh/Durham area, make sure you check out Rise! I know I’ll be going back sometime to check out their donuts and have some more of their amazing biscuits. Also be sure to follow them on Twitter!

Have a great day guys!