Friday, February 26, 2010

Bailey's Bar & Grille

Last night, during the snowstorm, we decided we were going to have Denny's for dinner. Pancakes just sounded good, and they now have unlimited pancakes (and french fries) with any entree that includes those items. Jonathan called Rob to see if he wanted in, and he told us he was on his way to Bailey's Bar & Grille for their Thursday night wing special. We decided to head that way.

It's in Levittown, in the area known as Five Points, as a ton of roads come together, and it's even worse than Confusion Corner in Stuart, FL. Not far from us, just one light past H-Mart and Walgreens, so maybe a 15-minute drive when there's no traffic and no snow.

Rob and his roommate, Jason, had a good table, and we were able to watch the Olympics (women's single figure skating and women's aerials, specifically) as we dined. The place is a dive bar in a strip mall, really. I probably would have overlooked it and never gone (particularly since they have no website), but it was a decent experience.

The place is really smoky, and we didn't even see any smokers, so the place just must be naturally smoky at this point. This is the only major downfall to the place, although I imagine that parking would become an issue on a major sports day or something. We also only saw two staff members the entire time, but perhaps the low number of patrons contributed to this. Otherwise, I imagine service would be very slow (it was average timing, but very friendly last night).

The wing special runs from 9-11pm on Thursday nights, and is 35-cent wings. Minimum order of 10, no maximum. 9 flavors, and you can choose bone-in or boneless. We went with 10 sweet and spicy bone-in and 10 garlic boneless. I was happy with the size of the wings, as sometimes boneless are pretty puny. I was anticipating to enjoy the garlic more, but my first bite soured that idea. In the end, I only ate two of those, as I thought they kinda tasted like a marinara with garlic. Luckily, Jonathan really liked the flavor, so he had the rest of those while I had the sweet and spicy. They're much more sweet (like honey), but the hint of heat was nice. Little gristle and excellent preparation made for good wings that could be picked clean.

Not sure how much the wings are normally, but I'd recommend the place on a Thursday night. We had twenty wings, ranch and celery, and a Sprite and paid $13 WITH tax and tip. Of course, this also requires waiting to eat until 9pm, so your mileage may vary. This worked out for us since Jonathan had a raquetball game at 8pm, and we almost always eat after the gym.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yardley Pizza and The Great American Diner & Pub

Don't have tons of things to say about either place, and since we ended up hitting them on the same day, I figured they'd make for one post.

We've been meaning to take in more local pizza. And we found a great place. After we went sledding in Lambertville, we came back along the river and ate at Yardley Pizza. Family-owned and operated, in downtown Yardley, and they take cash or check only. They also make a great pizza.

We ordered a medium pan pizza to share, with white sauce (olive oil and garlic instead of the traditional marinara) and pepperoni. Great flavor all around. Plus, leftovers! I can't wait to try more!
- - -

We went to see a high school production of Anything Goes with some friends, and afterward we stopped by The Great American Diner & Pub. I had the tiramisu, Jonathan went with a country-fried steak breakfast, and our friends had a pancake breakfast and the carrot cake, respectively. I thought the tiramisu was really good, although I would have been happier if it was $1 less. Emily reported that the carrot cake was good, but the icing was disappointing. Jonathan thought the steak was good, the gravy was different and kind of sweet, the potatoes were thick (much like the kind I had at the Maurice River Diner) and I didn't ask about the eggs.

It was our first time there, although Bryan and Emily had been there a few times before. It's an interesting place. There were way more cars in the parking lot than people in the place, but it was still busy for a Friday night. The bar area kept most people occupied though, and the service was pretty prompt. I don't know if we'll go back, but we have been meaning to try out more diners, so it's entirely possible.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Belle Mountain

Okay, so after being jealous of the teenagers sledding in fast vessels last time, as soon as we heard the snow was coming big time, I went on another search for a sled. The first time, I went to Target, Toys R Us, and Sports Authority, and that's how we ended up with the saucer. This time I went to 2 ski shops, Dick's, Home Depot, Kmart, and a hardware store before deciding just to buy what I had in mind online. I found it and it took a little longer to get here than I had hoped, but now we have it. A Polar Flyer.
Jonathan suggested we find new places to sled, since schools are in session on weekdays so we can't go to those. I spent some time online, searching discussion boards and the like, and came up with a list of potential places. One of which was Belle Mountain, an old ski area in Mercer County, NJ. They were big in the 1960s and 1970s, and ended up closing in 1997 after several winters with very little snow. It's a small area, hardly even a mountain. It had 7 routes and 4 lifts (although two were tow ropes), but the longest run was only 1100 feet, so it was popular mostly with locals. Well, people go there to sled now, and some people bring snowboards and such for practice.

We didn't know precisely where we were going (there's no mailing address, parking lot, etc.), but we found the area very easily. We parked in a muddy area, since that's all that was around, then stepped over a chain next to a "have fun at your own risk" sign. (this is completely legal, don't get the wrong idea. A field trip even showed up as we were leaving.) There was one other person on the "mountain" so we had no problems waiting or dodging people.We had the flyer and the saucer, but the snow wasn't packed enough for the saucer to work (it just kept sinking). We walked up to the very top of what we think was the main hill (another day we'll explore more), and took turns with the flyer. We had a good time, but with the snow's quality deteriorating we experienced a few pitfalls. It definitely has great potential, and with the next snow we'll be back (which should be next week!). There are even lights for night sledding (that presumably still work since many people online mention they still go at night), so we can go after Jonathan gets home from work if we want.

The only downfall is that there's no good parking, and we struggled to get out of the mud as we were leaving (and we parked in the driest spot possible!). Hopefully we'll find a better plan next time.

If you're curious as to where this is (or if you've been to the area in its heyday!), it's near Lambertville, NJ. From Washington's Crossing, go North on 29/River Road about 4 miles, pass Pleasant Valley, then take a right onto Valley Road. It's on the right, you can't miss it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Wing Wah Chinese Restaurant

There we were... we had just come out of the meat shop (not a butcher, just a meat shop, LoL), and had started the car. While Jonathan was looking at the GPS to plan a better route home (we were down New Falls), I noticed it. A Chinese restaurant across the street. But not just any Chinese restaurant... the sign read "Dim Sum Szechuan Cantonese" ... and before I knew it my arm was extended and pointing at the sign, as I said "Look! Dim Sum!" Our plans to head home were temporarily set aside as we quickly decided to dart across the street and check out Wing Wah.

The Dim Sum menu consisted of nine items and a combo platter. We ordered the platter to go, and Jonathan also tried the chicken egg drop soup. We waited about 15 minutes and then were headed home again. The menu also featured a bunch of regular dishes, and some unique things which we may go back to try at some point, especially if we're down in that area of Levittown.

We were quite excited about how good the food made the car smell (we also needed to stop at the liquor store on the way home, since I needed to pick up some sherry for a soup I was going to make the next night). When I opened the container in the kitchen, the mouth-watering aroma came pouring out all over again. I divvied up the goodies, and we each had plenty for just $7.25.

The shrimp dumplings were fantastic. The pork shu mei was very good. They fell apart a little bit, but that could have been because they sat in a closed box for twenty minutes so there was a bit of condensation build-up. The mini spring rolls were tasty considering their size and content. The flavor was more intense than many of the plain spring rolls most places serve. Lastly, the satay beef sticks were very large in portion. They had a great, sweet sauce lightly on glazed on them, and even I thought the beef was delicious. Jonathan said that the soup was "a little different" and "it had crunchy things in it," LoL.

If you're in Bucks County and want dim sum, this is the best place we've found. And for a great price, considering this isn't Chinatown! If you know of something better, please share the info!! :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Newtown Presbyterian Church

Yep. We're still searching for a church. But I won't lie, this is out first attempt in 2010. January went fast. And we spent some time out of town. But that doesn't really matter.

Newtown Presbyterian Church is about four miles away, so we can drive it in about ten minutes. They have three morning services, 8am, 9am, and 10:45am. We went to the 9 o'clock, and heard a great Transfiguration Sunday service. The church seems to have a great deal of ministry options, but no big Sunday School focus (bulletin didn't mention individual classes or locations or anything), which was interesting. They do have a nice focus on children though, between the children's sermon, boy and girl scout troops they sponsor, and a newly-formed middle school youth group. People of all ages were in the service, although it was not very ethnically diverse.

We arrived about ten minutes before the start of the service, but parking is down the street, so we squeaked in just before things started. The setup of the service was a typical PC-USA format, and the songs chosen for today were lovely. The prelude was "Rhosymedre," which is very different on the organ than it is in the orchestra. We also ended on a very upbeat hymn, "Every Time I Feel the Spirit," and although Jonathan and I both remember it being popular when we were children, it was nice to hear.

The pastor was extremely knowledgeable, and referenced multiple other verses in making the point of his sermon. Plus, he started with a lengthy and humorous opener, and I was practically on the floor laughing at the "iconic holiday that is Transfiguration Sunday," LoL. We are excited to try this church again, perhaps the 10:45, since Sunday School is during the 9am service.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Second Blizzard of 2010

Weekend before last was the first one, apparently. Four days later, we get another. Fun stuff, this North.

With at least a foot of snow on the ground already (probably closer to 15-16" or so), we get pounded with a true-blue blizzard. It came down HARD for pretty much a whole day, maybe a bit longer. The highways were closed. A State of Emergency was issued. Whiteout conditions were apparent. We enjoyed our leftovers from Snow Day (along with a frozen pizza), caught up on some movies and television, and had a great time.
We went outside several times when it was only lightly snowing and there wasn't much wind. It was so exciting to walk around in the peace and quiet. We trudged around the apartment complex and in the backyard. We checked the mail on the second night (yep, it really keeps coming!) around midnight and ran into several other people out and about. We witnessed the Bobcat plowing away. It was to my knees or above EVERYWHERE, sometimes a little higher. Here's a photo of the snow on our mail outbox, and another of me sitting on a plow-created snowbank. It's hard to tell, but my feet are dangling there, not on the ground.
On Thursday I got to have my first dig-out-the-car experience (Jonathan had done it previously). Snow is heavy, LoL. But it was fun. The cars were in pretty thick. Here's a pic of at least a foot of snow on the Corolla, and this wasn't even after it finished:
Some cars were much worse.We're really getting the hang of driving in "winter weather" conditions now, too. Our area has previously been very fortunate in that the roads are always well-plowed and salted. This time that wasn't the case. Some roads were fine, but others were slushy and icy (and I am talking semi-big roads... like Cashmere, Tharpe, or Dairy, to give some of our readers reference points). There was even leftover snow on some of the traffic lights!
Jonathan was able to work from home for two days (the storm was bad enough that they actually closed his work's campus on Wednesday, and apparently they never do that!), and after he finished up on Thursday we went outside with the intention of building a snowman.

Our other snows up to this point were too powdery to build with, so I was excited about how packed this snow was. Problem was, however, that there was a layer of ice on top of the snow, an inch or two thick. This meant you couldn't roll a ball and get it bigger that way. So we had to pack them by hand, which took much longer (over an hour), but we were warm and dry in our ski clothes, hehe. In the end, the head was misshapen... so we decided it would be a Snowduck instead. We carved out a beak, and Jonathan let him borrow a pair of boots. I loaned him a scarf, and we used miniature flashlights for the eyes. His name is Ervin Honker.

I tried to make a snow angel, but the snow was too stiff to move, so it turned out looking funky. Below that you can see the smooth snow, and then what became of the area we played in, LoL.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Brother's Pizza and Restaurant

We wanted to have pho. We drove to our normal pho place, Savor Saigon, but it was closed. We should have known better, since they get wimpy and close whenever it's snowy (we also tried there in December when we ended up at Cheeseburger in Paradise for the first time).

So, we went a couple doors down and tried Brother's Pizza and Restaurant. This is not the same Brother's Pizza that we had back in November, it's a completely different place (not a chain). It's a small little place, and a lot of people got the pizza ($2 a slice, either with tax or they're not charging tax, since many people just gave two singles). We were hankering for something else, so Jonathan got a cheesesteak and I got a chicken wrap with fries.

The cheesesteak was massive, packed full of meat and had the good, melty provolone. He liked it a lot. My chicken wrap also had provolone, and then boasted roasted peppers, tomatoes, and onions. The wrap was more like a pita than a tortilla, which was different. But good. My only complaint was that the grilled chicken was pretty dry, and I had to add ketchup. The fries were very dry and very plain, and I liked them that way. No grease, no soggies, no salt.

We got our order to go, and they were pretty quick, considering they had to cook it all. It was a good deal, and we'll be back (especially after seeing their pizzas!!).

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Primo Hoagies

Jonathan had heard great things about Primo Hoagies from work. We decided to give them a try the other night, and now also have great (and one negative) things to say.

We walked in and took a look at the menu, a large board above the counter. There were a lot of details about the ingredients in each sandwich, but no prices whatsoever. Eventually we decided that there must be a flat rate for each of the three sizes (small, primo, and whole... primo is footlong, and that's what we each ordered). After we finally ordered and got the receipt, we were made aware that there were different prices. But no place in the store except the takeout menu features prices, so it's kinda hit-or-miss and crappy in that respect. This is the one negative thing.

We waited less than ten minutes and were were out the door with our fresh hoagies. I ordered the Whacked Chicken, which is a breaded cutlet with sharp provolone, pesto, and bruschetta. The bread was toasted with sesame seeds. The combination of pesto and bruschetta was really good, making for a tasty overall sandwich. I think that $9 might have been a tad steep, but it was really good, and I was able to make it two meals, so maybe. Jonathan went traditional with the Italian , which included prosciutto, provolone, hot cappy, and genoa salami. His also came with all the typical trimmings - lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, oil & vinegar, salt & pepper. He liked it a lot, and even I thought it tasted good! His was only $7, and he swears it was worth every penny. It also served him as a second meal.

One of the interesting things about the place was their "primo sides" that they had in a refrigerated deli case along the wall. Everything from potato salad and macaroni salad to pepperoni bites and marinated mozzarella balls was available. Cole slaw, olives, pepper shooters, stuffed olives, pasta salad, fruit salad, and I'm sure I'm missing some. And these were all very competitively priced to a grocery store around here.

End note: miiight get them again. But, they're kinda far, like almost 20 minutes away. Far + pricey = bad news in my book. Jonathan wants to try at least two more of their hoagies tho, so who knows...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow Day Cooking!

We got a major snowstorm this past weekend. This is kinda funny, just because each of the times it has snowed so far have taken place over a weekend. It snowed for about 18 hours, and we got 18 or 20 inches. So, we pretty much committed Saturday to cooking.

I started off with a turkey breast in the crockpot. I had gotten a free 7.5 pound turkey breast from the grocery store in November, and it has been sitting in the freezer until this past week. It was a pretty easy recipe (as most for the crockpot are, LoL), and was done in about 7 hours. I was surprised with how juicy it turned out, and we'll have TONS of delightful leftovers this week. (I couldn't wait to try some and take a pic, so as soon as there was enough on the plate to photograph, I did, haha)After the turkey was in, I made mashed potatoes because they needed to cool to room temperature to go in the potato bread. Meanwhile, Jonathan started in on the chicken wings. He did most of them regular buffalo flavor, but he made nine breaded ones with cajun seasoning for me, and they were awesome! He liked his, too.Then, I got to use my mandoline to slice up potatoes for chips and french fries. The potato chips (which managed to elude a photo) turned out delicious as always (cajun flavor), and the french fries (onion flavor) were just okay. It was our first try at them, and even though I used the thickest setting, they were very thin and floppy after they were fried. Maybe if we try fries again, we'll do them like wedges instead.The bread machine whipped up some really good potato bread in about three hours. It turned out to be great that night, but it dried out a lot sooner than the other breads I've made so far (I did a french bread and an Italian cheese bread last month), which is good to know.
We almost forgot to do the beef wontons! I was a little skeptical, since it wasn't our normal wonton wrapping (but then again, we haven't done wontons in at least a year, so they might have just discontinued/updated our "usual" wrapping), but they turned out really well. I think it was because Jonathan used steak seasoning this time instead of adobo.I have to hand it to him... when he wants to be creative, Jonathan can come up with the neatest ideas. He thought it would be cool to make sno-cones out of real snow. So, he came up with a way to collect clean snow, and then we went on a hunt at two grocery stores to find something that would work as syrup (we went with that frozen juice concentrate, in the fruit punch flavor). For dessert, we mixed it up and had an Italian ice-style snack... yum.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Old Country Buffet

So we're not really buffet people. You might have guessed that, based on how I haven't reviewed one until now. In Florida, you're forced to have Chinese buffet because there's not good dim sum restaurants in most of the state (if you actually know of ANY dim sum place in FL, let us know!), but otherwise we don't have buffet much there, either.

This is with the exception of Golden Corral, which is pretty good most of the time. Anyway, there's this place called Old Country Buffet (same company as Ryan's) that we pass all the time. It's probably about three miles from our apartment, maybe even less. We finally decided to go this past Sunday, since we worked most of the day and needed a break.

I didn't care for the beginning part... you don't have an option not to pay for a soft drink or hot beverage since it's included in the price. Nobody shows you to a seat. There are no trays in the place, so you are limited to just one plate at a time. But you do get a green slip of paper to "hold your table" while your group is up at the buffet.

Overall, there's not a lot of selection. Hot, carved meats included turkey breast, roast beef, ham, and pork ribs. The ham was a little fatty, but good. Ribs were dry. Starch sides included creamy but bland mashed potatoes, rice, very good macaroni and cheese, and blase penne alfredo. The fried chicken had delicious skin but was too greasy on the inside. The taco bar has simple options, nothing fancy. No refried beans option. The salad bar was boring, and the pre-made salad options were scarce. Potato salad was mustardy yet strange. The seafood salad was shells with mayo... I had a tiny piece of krab in a large scoop of salad. The rolls were delicious. We didn't try the pizza or the spaghetti... nor the french fries or corn-on-the-cob. Jonathan thought the green beans were average. Corn chowder and chicken noodle soup were the soups of the day, but we didn't try either. There was rotisserie chicken, baked fish, and some good fried butterfly shrimp.

Jonathan went with the lemon meringue pie (pretty good), the fudge (good), and vanilla frozen yogurt with chocolate chips (good). I had a great brownie, rubbery hot sundae cake, a hard snickerdoodle, a non-descriptive sugar-free chocolate chip cookie, and some great chocolate mousse (but don't eat the crust). The apple crisp was sticky and rind-y. The white chocolate caramel and french vanilla cappuccinos were out of order, so I had a very good hot chocolate with dessert, and Jonathan had decent coffee.

Final thoughts: it took us twenty minutes to find water. We both ended up with Sprite on round 1 because there's only one small spigot for water, and the container probably holds less than three gallons. It's a pricey buffet, as over $12/person. Nothing was notable enough to go back for seconds on. We even got a buy-one-get-one coupon for another time, but I doubt we'll use it, except maybe for a breakfast. Stay away.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Amy's Birthday: Thai for Dinner

We found a great little Thai place for my *real* birthday dinner. I discovered it by searching Yelp for pad thai in our area. Two good reviews came back from Concerto Fusion in Morrisville (which is pretty much the same place as Yardley... the boundary is impossible to locate), and the menu looked good on their website, so we went for it.

We ended up not arriving until almost eight o'clock, and despite the fact that it was open until 10pm, we had the restaurant to ourselves after the first ten minutes or so. The ambiance is absolutely beautiful, and I'd definitely recommend wandering in just to see the lighting, waterfalls, glass, fish, and everything. The tables were very nice, but the height is a bit awkward -- there was probably only an inch of space between our legs and the bottom of the table, making the smallest gesture like putting a napkin in your lap rather difficult.

We started with a red dragon roll, which is eel, cucumber, and avocado, topped with tuna and tobiko. It was pretty good, but the eel was actually too fresh for me (aka it was still warm from having just been cooked). There are a lot of sushi specials, and we're planning to go back some Thursday when they run sushi specials during happy hour.

I went with the pad thai, of course. Prawns with no peanuts and extra lime (but I still could have had more lime than the extra I was given). I was slightly concerned initially since it had the spiciest indication on the entire menu, but it was the same as usual pad thai, so nothing to worry about. It was delicious, definitely in the top 3 pad thai dishes I've ever had. A great mix of sweet and spice, and even the tofu had good flavor. Jonathan ordered the General Tso's Chicken with brown rice. It was a perfect flavor, plentiful in portion, and came with really green broccoli. Jonathan finished his meal, but I had a great lunch the next day with the leftovers. I really can't emphasize enough how wonderful the meals were... I can't wait to go back and try other dishes there... and the whole thing was just so pretty!To finish off my birthday, we shared a piece of Dollar Cake from SuperFresh. I call it that because there's a refrigerated case at one of the local grocery stores that sells day-old slabs of sheet cake for $1 a piece. There's different flavors and fillings, and the pieces are generally about 4 inches x 3 inches, so you get a lot for your dollar. It was yummy (yellow cake with vanilla whipped cream frosting).