Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Ok...I hate Williamsburg. Or at the very least, I realized this blog is wishful thinking that Williamsburg will actually have a good place to eat someday.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
I was looking forward to trying this restaurant for several reasons. I have driven by the ramshackle looking frame building way out on Route 60 past Toanao several times in the recent past noticing the overflowing parking lot and wood smoke belching from the cooker-both good signs. I had also read several positive reviews on the internet. I also love barbeque. And finally, it was my birthday celebration dinner with my sweetie.
Maybe because we had sat through the new Julie & Julia movie and were sated by digitally mastered French dishes. Or that maybe we had a little too much popcorn. But I wanted desperately to like this restaurant. I was even mentally planning to bring my British friends for an American-style pig out. But as you may predict by now, I did not have a great experience.
The restaurant bills its fare as: "Traditional smokehouse barbeque and authentic Creole cuisine." We tried the barbequed chicken, pulled pork, and brisket and ended up asking for a to-go box but not because the portions were too large. We left the seasoned plank fries behind.
Several Cajun/New Orleans specialities are featured on the menu and perhaps we may try them at some point. Fortunately for me, my son spent a year at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette-so I know something about Cajun food. But based on this one dinner, I would say the food was OK but the dim interior was oppressively uncomfortable. Service however, was both earnest and pleasant.
The best part of the meal was coming home to a Craig Claiborne recipe cheesecake made by my special birthday chef.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Bill O'Reilly would like the Backfin Restaurant. Keith Olbermann would not. I actually have no idea if either of these statements is true but I use the example to suggest that most people either love or hate this long time Williamsburg establishment. This assessment is partially based on internet reviews at Yahoo and TripAdvisor as well as informal interviews with area residents.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
For the canine gourmand, restaurant options in Williamsburg are limited to take-out. A shiny black and white coat will open a lot of doors, but you need a tie to get in the Williamsburg Inn. On a recent trip to Anderson's Corner Animal Hospital, Hungryman had the great fortune to sample the cuisine at Taco Mexicali, located at 6572 Richmond Road. As the name implies, their specialty is tacos. These are not your typical gringo-style wraps overflowing with watery iceberg lettuce and flavorless cheese, which are a nuisance to anyone with respectable jowels. Taco Mexicali tacos are the real thing. They are simple, delicious, and offered with several irresistible fillings — pastor, marinated roast pork; barbacoa, smoked and steamed beef; carnitas, braised pork butt; chorizo, spicy sausage to name just a few. At the condiment bar you will find green chili sauce, chipotle sauce, whole fire-roasted jalapenos, diced onion, cilantro, and other traditional toppings. The restaurant also makes very good guacamole and refreshing margaritas. Hungryman has not actually tried the margaritas, but his people say they are excellent. If you are a hungryman or hungrygirl and want delicious Mexican fare at bargain prices, leash up, pack some paper towels for excess drool, and have your chauffeur drive you to Taco Mexicali.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
If there is one place in Williamsburg made for contemplative types, then Chez Trinh is it. (I understand that live folk and gospel music is performed in the evenings, so extraverts rejoice!) Located in the remnants of a once thriving shopping center, this is Williamsburg's first and only Vietnamese Restaurant. The original owners were a Vietnemese family but the current owners are Korean. As a consequence, the menu is fairly broad and includes some traditional Vietnamese, Thai, and Korean dishes.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
I'm probably not the best judge for evaluating the experience of this local coffeehouse and eatery since I don't drink coffee. But I have found it is a convenient alternative to the fast paced rush of Starbucks as it has a touch of personal service. Located in a small shopping center off of Jamestown Road, the Coffee Beanery seems to have attracted a morning cadre of the area's retirees who take full advantage of the spacious layout for social contact. The young owner/manager of the restaurant seems to know many by name and quickly remembers their orders from previous visits.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Berret’s Seafood is located in the heart of Williamsburg’s Merchant’s Square…a quasi high-end shopping experience and community gathering place. The best thing about summer in this city is Berret’s open air Taphouse Grill. While it seems to mainly attract tourists, there are occasional locals who find there way to the bar stools. An abbreviated menu is available with burgers, crab cakes, and barbeque. There are a number of specials that rotate on a regular basis.
The greatest asset of the Taphouse Grill is that it's outside! Instead of a tropical water view, however, you overlook the adjacent parking lot where drivers circle endlessly to find available spaces. In spite of this, a real sense of energy is present amidst the Jimmy Buffet tunes and the perspiring tourists decked in Hawaiian shirts, madras shorts, and Topsiders.
There has been a growing attempt to include a number of good local and regional beers in addition to the tooty-fruity tropical drink list that might be found in a Duval Street dive. Tonight's $45 tab (+$10 tip) included a shared order of garlic sauteed blue crab clusters, a barbecue sandwich, with sides of corn and cole slaw and several beers. There are no OMG moments with any of the menu items (the crab clusters are a poor excuse for not serving whole steamed crabs and are a waste of time and money). The most memorable aspect of the experience was simply the experience!
Since the restaurant is primarily geared to the tourists, most of the servers are seasonal, college students who have an unusually wholesome countenance. No tatooes or piercings are seen which would indicate a more bohemian attitude that I feel is necessary for a truly committed food and beverage experience. In spite of the very conservative appearance of the staff and management, Berret’s is a great way to spend a warm, muggy evening in one of Williamsburg’s busiest parking lots.
Although a part of a national franchise, Rita's Italian Ice in the standalone building on Monticello Avenue is a must visit destination for cooling summer desserts. I wouldn't bother with anything but the Gelati...a mix of flavored ice and custard. Flavors change on a regular basis and on today's visit I had vanilla custard with the mango ice. Rita's isn't cheap but is very high quality. I used to order the large size but now I'm usually content with the small cup.
Friday, July 31, 2009
In nearby York County, at the corner of Route 17 and Denbigh Boulevard you can find Pop’s Hotdogs. I have no idea of how long they have been in business but I have been aware of them for a least 30 years. If you like no-frills, short-order food served in a rushed but highly competent fashion, then this is the place. The regulars who sometimes form a line out the door in the busy mornings are primarily tradesmen loading up on the carbs, grease, and cholesterol before a day full of installing aluminum siding, unclogging toilets, or rewiring breaker boxes. Some of the tables are communal-you may be rubbing elbows with someone named Sonny, Bubba, or Butch. They offer free morning papers and the informed local politician or CEO is often part of the crowd. You won’t see too many copies of the Wall Street Journal though.
Great eggs, great bacon, great sausage, great grits, great biscuits, and great pancakes make it a great place to eat. The food and servers contribute to a true authentic experience and the antithesis of Williamsburg’s plethora of Greek-run Pancake Houses or the inedible breakfast buffets. Pop’s is for the very adventurous tourist or suburbanite. If you are on your way to install a tile floor, you already know about Pops. Regardless of who you are, you will be welcomed and you can get out of there for less than $5! Be sure to tip these hard working waitresses well!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Starbuck’s is a late 20th-century phenomenom still going strong in 2009. Part coffee bar, part social club, and part diversion, Williamsburg now has at least a half dozen locations of this universal franchise. Since the appeal of Starbucks is its consistency of products, what difference does location make? In Williamsburg, incredible differences in demographics, service, and overall atmosphere can be found. For the record, I drink iced green tea with an occasional hot chocolate in the winter. I am not really qualified to understand the motivations of the coffee fiend…but I do enjoy observing them.
The Monticello Avenue Starbucks is located in the “new” part of town…the suburbs really. Williamburg’s power crowd can be found in the long line on any given morning—from soccer moms to contractors to young professionals. Ironically, this Starbucks has the smallest square footage of all the stores which may contribute to the feel of its high energy. In contrast, the Starbuck’s at the Kingsmill strip mall on Route 60 has a cavernous location that contributes to a very gloomy environment. It also has an interesting assortment of regulars..locals who take up residence in the overstuffed chairs throughout the day. Some are very chatty and will bend your ear while others are buried deep in newspapers. A new Starbuck's located near Mooretown Road has a drive thru. This is the most convenient location of I64/Route 199 travelers. Seems to draw a lot of introverted computer users/book readers. My personal choice is the strange Starbuck's outpost in the Farm Fresh on Merrimac Trail.
What Williamsburg needs is a Starbucks within the newly renovated Williamsburg Lodge, owned and operated by Colonial Williamsburg. Most conference goers expect a convenient access for their caffeine fix when traveling in strange cities. A Starbucks in the Lodge location would benefit the entire Colonial Williamsburg organization as well. The chance of this happening?? ZERO!
What defines an authentic local place? The list should include consistent food; oversight by a committed entrepreneur, and a loyal local following. Pierce’s has all of these in spades plus it attracts ravenous Interstate 64 travelers and tourists galore twelve months of the year. The staple order at Pierce's is the jumbo with slaw, order of crinkle-cut fries, and a self-serve fountain drink-but freshly brewed tea is the obvious choice. There are other things on the menu but I don’t think I have ever ordered anything else in 30+ years of eating here. And I have never had a bad experience…food, service, or otherwise.
Part of the secret to their success is the pit cooked pork barbeque fired on premises daily. Another element is the orange and yellow paint scheme which is slathered on the often expanded dinner room. While take home is an option, nothing tastes as good as on-site dining while contemplating the neon colors. I always bring my overseas visitors to sample the barbeque and their consequent facial expressions tell it all. Pierce’s is possibly the most democratic experience in the entire, overly conservative Williamsburg area…from celebrities to truck drivers to Camp Perry trainees to tattooed bikers…the totality of the experience is not too be missed.