Journey to the Land of Milk & Honey

This Saturday morning, I got up at 7:30 am in order to have breakfast/brunch at this quaint restaurant that my sister recommended.  It was worth the early rise.  This is not just any restaurant, it is literally the land of milk and honey……seriously, the restaurant’s name is Milk & Honey Cafe.

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Just as you can imagine, the land of Milk & Honey is hard to find, and can only be experienced by the most determined seekers.   It is sandwiched between other businesses in a strip mall area.  There is no signage over the door of the restaurant.  You just have to “know” where it is, and how to reach it.   Once inside, I got the feeling of being in someone’s home.   The seating is a comfortable mix of chairs and sofas surrounding various dining tables.  Pictures of the owner mingling with satisfied customers adorn the walls.

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I must say, Milk and Honey lives up to its name.  It is a wonderful blend of savory and sweet.  The air inside actually smells like honey.  Milk & Honey Cafe is owned by Chopped Champion, Sammy Davis.  I was excited to taste Chef Sammy’s Award Winning 1/2lb Shrimp & Grits.   But, I had to start with something sweet.  Strawberry Shortcake Deep Fried Biscuits hit the spot.  The presentation was marvelous.  The portion size was large with three big biscuits, strawberries, cream cheese glaze, and powdered sugar.  The biscuits were hot & crispy on the outside, yet buttery and moist on the inside.

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For the main dish, I had Chef Sammy’s Award winning 1/2lb Shrimp & Grits.  According to sis, I danced in my seat when the food arrived.   (I believe it, I dance when I have good satisfying food).  The dish was colorful and appetizing, and even included turkey sausage!  Just one bite let me know why Chef Sammy is The Food Network’s Chopped Champion.   The grits are amazing.  They genuinely taste like southern homemade cheese grits.  They are creamy, seasoned, and have just the right “grits” consistency.  They are not grainy at all, and form a nice accompaniment to the cajun cream sauce.  I am so happy to have discovered this dish.  I had almost given up on finding good southern grits in the Washington D.C. area.

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We washed it all down with orange and cranberry mimosas.  At $4 each, the mimosas are a refreshing enhancement to an already delicious breakfast.

I will absolutely return to the land of Milk and Honey.  I would recommend this restaurant to all of my friends.   Milk and Honey is one of the first restaurant’s I have visited where I want to taste EVERYTHING on the menu.  Until my next visit, I’ll stay sweet.

 

Busboys, Poets, and Me

Last weekend, I went to Busboys and Poets for the first time.  I already understand why everyone loves it so much.  Just take a look at what Busboys and Poets says about itself

Busboys and Poets is a community where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted…a place to take a deliberate pause and feed your mind, body and soul…a space for art, culture and politics to intentionally collide…we believe that by creating such a space we can inspire social change and begin to transform our community and the world.

Upon entering the restaurant, I notice the organic feeling of community.   Is it a bookstore?  Is it a restaurant?  Is it a coffee shop?  It is all of these in one.  The building is filled with eclectic decor, artwork, and paint.  There is a constant chatter from the diverse crowd.  Time seems suspended in this place.  What year is it?  It does not matter.  Just enjoy the relaxing vibe while you are there.

I ordered the Bacon and Cheddar Burger.  My burger tasted so fresh!  The fresh, not frozen, taste comes from beef burgers made with free-range, 100% grass-fed, local beef.  My side dish was the Sweet Potato fries.  The fries were really good.  They were naturally sweet and served solo, no dipping sauce.   If you would like sauce, I suggest drizzling honey over the fries.  The honey adds just the right boost of sweetness.  At the price point of $14, it was a good meal.

The beverage menu has something for everyone.  I ordered the Langston Cooler, which is a Busboy Classic made with Spiced Rum, Dark Rum, Peach Schnapps, and Fresh Orange Juice, with a splash of Cranberry.

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I really like Busboys and Poets, I can see myself going there often, having drinks, reading a good book, listening to music, or just having brunch with friends.

I will be back.  I see why they have so many regular customers.

 

RT or Reduced Taste

My Southern Comfort friends and I decided to participate in Alexandria’s restaurant week.  Somehow, RT was the restaurant of choice.    Let’s just say, the best feature of this restaurant is the free parking lot across the street.

Upon entering, I was surprised by the lack of splendor in the restaurant.  I was shocked that this restaurant participated in Restaurant week.   I had Chart House expectations, but was met with bare wooden tables and bad lighting.

RT’s website states that they have the “best Creole and Cajun food outside of Louisiana.”  That. Is. An. Untruth. Just dismiss all of your Cajun expectations.  The description of the items on RT’s special restaurant week menu looked really appetizing.  I began with the the Crawfish & Shrimp Beignets.    This was the best dish on the restaurant week menu, although, the dish was misnamed.   This is a beignet.  cafe-du-monde-beignet-mix.df7001e73e0fc40b5eca509086b70496

Yet, this is what I  was served.

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The remoulade sauce was good, although it did not taste homemade.  The “beignets” were hot out of the deep fryer.  It was a decent appetizer.  I would eat it again.   That’s where my praise must end.  I had such high hopes.  But, just like a summer rain interrupts a summer BBQ, the rest of the menu disrupted my taste buds.

I ordered the Shellfish Etouffee, which is Gulf Shrimp, Lump Crab & Crawfish smothered cajun style served with garlic-parsley rice.  Now, I like sauce.  It was served with plenty of sauce/gravy, but the dish itself was bland.  I don’t remember tasting crab nor shrimp.  The rice was decent, but I had to add salt to my dish before I could eat it.   Now,  I wished for more creole seasoning, but there was none to be found.

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My dinner companions ordered various dishes.  The fried catfish was another problematic dish.  The fish was fried properly, it just wasn’t seasoned.  Now, if you are on a strict diet and must avoid spices, salt, seasonings, etc, then this restaurant is for you.  But if you enjoy zest, zing, and flavor, RT will disappoint you.

The Shrimp and Grits looked really savory….that is until you notice that the grits are solidified into one big block, which can be lifted in its entirety, off of the plate with a fork.

I had the chocolate mousse for dessert.  It was lackluster at best.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either.   I had a craving for something sweet, this did not gratify my sweet tooth.

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I really dislike leaving negative reviews, however, I spent $50 at this restaurant, yet I left unsatisfied.   I feel the need to warn others more than I feel the need to be nice.  The food just isn’t good…and that’s Real Talk.

Carolina Kitchen, Just Like Home

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From the moment I entered The Carolina Kitchen, I felt as though I was visiting a familiar place.  The restaurant is extremely welcoming.  It smells like home cooked meals, the music is EVERYTHING.  I dance in my seat each time I visit.  I like each. Song. played. No DJ is needed.  Take a look at what Carolina Kitchen says about itself on its website:

The Carolina Kitchen is the most amazing and popular southern cuisine restaurant group; it has a unique charm that appeals to everyone. From the moment one enters, they are transported to another world designed to stimulate the soul and indulge the senses. It was created to offer its guest taste buds an amazing journey through the South.  Using only the freshest ingredients to our menu, we combine unique blends of Cajun and Creole spices with traditional and savory home-style cooking. Our customers are the heart and soul of what we do and why we do it. Welcome, Welcome, Welcome to the Carolina Kitchen.

The menu is wonderful.  There is so much food, that everyone in your party should be satisfied.  There is something for grandparents, grandchildren, and everyone else in between.  On my first visit, I knew I would return, because there are so many dishes I would like to try.

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Ultimately, I ordered the cornbread muffins as a starter, and catfish tenders appetizer.  The cornbread is literally dipped in honey!  Be careful not to get full off of cornbread!  Just have one….or two.  The catfish is seasoned, lighCarolinaKitchen3t, and crisp.  Add some hot sauce (which is conveniently located near the candles on each table.)

 

 

 

 

For the main course, I ordered the Homestyle meal, 3 piece Fried Chicken (breast, thigh, and drumstick) with a side of Macaroni & Cheese, and Collard Greens.  Y’all.  It was so good.  The fried chicken is seasoned well and is served hot and crispy.  The Macaroni and Cheese is baked in butter and cheese, and has earned my two thumbs up of approval.  It is just gooey goodness.  The Collard Greens stopped me in my tracks.  I was shocked.  I have never in my life tasted Collard Greens like this from a restaurant.  I consider myself an excellent cook.  After eating just one serving of the Collard Greens, I declared that I never need to cook Collard Greens again.  I can just go to The Carolina Kitchen in Hyattsville.  WOW.  They really are amazing.  They are seasoned well with pork, tender, cooked for the proper duration of time.  They are even a little spicy.

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Guess what?  The 3 Piece Fried Chicken dinner with two sides is only $14.  Yes, there is no typo.  All of that for $14.  well. worth. the. price.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed my dinner.  Of course I will be back.  I have already been there twice in two weeks!

Oh, before I forget.   The drinks are good too.  Sweet Tea, Lemonade, Arnold Palmer.  Sweet tangy, and delicious.  The alcoholic drinks are equally as good.  A pitcher of Rum Punch is only $25.  It is well worth it.

If you are celebrating a birthday, this is the spot for you.  The staff will clap and sing “Happy Birthday”, not just any Happy Birthday, but Stevie Wonder’s version of Happy Birthday.

For more information or to reserve a table, visit www.thecarolinakitchen.com

To read more of my reviews and to follow me on my journey through food, visit me at www.baconandbellini.com

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Big Night D.C. New Year’s Eve Extravaganza 2018

The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center was the scene for this over the top New Year’s Eve Experience.  My cousins and I had VIP tickets to this event. VIP tickets were an excellent investment.   First, I love food.  Anytime food is involved, the event is that much better.  There were two VIP buffet areas!  The dinner was served buffet style, complete with seared Crab Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Aioli and Braised Beef with Cabernet Reduction and Mashed Potatoes.  These entrees were served was Chopped Salad with a delicious Vinaigrette dressing, along with seasonal Squash.    There was an assortment of desserts including, Mini-Cheesecakes, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Raspberry Mousse, Brownies, and more!

Of course the drinks were top shelf and unlimited.  By top shelf, I mean Irish Jameson, Grey Goose, Johnny Walker Black, 1800 Silver, Crown Royal, Bombay Gin just to name a few of the brands.

Upon entering the Gaylord, we were ushered upstairs to get in line for check in.   We arrived about 10:00 pm, so that line was moderately long, but while waiting, we witnessed a couple getting engaged under the gazebo!

Everyone was dressed to impress wearing gowns, tuxedos, rhinestone bodysuits, and sequins rompers.

Now to the entertainment.  There were two huge ballrooms.  One ballroom had a live bands including: “Go Go Gadjet” and “Jump Off Band” with DJ Rene band breaks.

The other large ballroom had DJ Ri5s, and Chris Styles.  The multiple party rooms provided something for everyone.  There was a Decades Room, Retro Zone, UFC Gym Band Zone, EDM room, Karaoke, International, Video DJ, Country, and Silent Disco.   Additionally, there was a VIP club with DJ Big C and a VIP Acoustic with Billy “T” Wilde.

One of my favorite things about VIP access was guaranteed seating!   Of course I wore my cute shoes for New Year’s Eve, so I was grateful for the ample VIP seating areas.

The drinks were strong and flowing.  The trick is to know when to get a drink.  There was a Champagne toast at Midnight.   With the wall of windows and balcony access of the Gaylord, we had a personal view of the New Year’s Eve Midnight Fireworks over the Potomac.  The view was so beautiful, it overshadowed the cold weather (almost).

The only big issue was with the complimentary coat check.  The Gaylord ran out of hangers for coats, and they ran out of coat storage space.  But, because it is the Gaylord, they solved the problem quickly.   If you go next year, buy VIP tickets.  There is also a VIP coat check.

While waiting in line for coat check at the end of the evening, I noticed signs for a $6  medium pizza!  Yes!  I didn’t get a pizza.  I was still full from the five crab cakes I ate!  Overall, there was plenty of food, plenty of drinks, plenty of bottled water, plenty of people, and plenty of fun!  I would definitely go back.  There’s no place in the DMV area like the Gaylord National Hotel & Resort for New Year’s Eve.  Until then, Happy New Year!

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Christmas Before Midnight

To Kick-off the Holiday season, I went to the Anthem to see Fantasia: Christmas After Midnight.  It was a wonderful show, and was held on the perfect evening, the first snowfall of the season.  As I walked along The Wharf, the snow was falling, people were ice skating, the Christmas tree was twinkling, Christmas cheer was in the air.  What a wonderful evening for a Christmas concert.

The Anthem is the newest theater in Washington, D.C. It is located on the waterfront at the Wharf.  Though it has just opened, The Anthem has already hosted great musical talents such as Erykah Badu.

The Anthem is very spacious.  There’s plenty of room to walk around on all three floors.  The stairway is wide.  The restrooms are large, Chandeliers are striking, and the views of the Wharf are spectacular.

The theater itself is both classical and modern.  What appears to be draped curtains from a distance are really LED lights in the shape of draped curtains.  It makes for a really nice scene when only the stage lights are on.

There not a bad seat in the theater.  There is a clear view of the stage, from every angle.  There is plenty of leg room at each seat.

Now to the food.  Yes, food.  The Anthem sells much more than popcorn and hot dogs.  The popcorn flavor choices include Old Bay and Garlic Parmesan.  The Anthem serves “The Wharfle”, which is a fresh warm Belgian Liege waffle with Full Monty Chocolate Sauce for $8.00.  The waffles are hot and fresh.  If you need more meat, order the Shrimp tray (yes, shrimp)!

The Anthem has a full bar on both sides of the theater and on each floor.  This makes for short lines.  What’s more, the Anthem offers gourmet Hot Chocolate and Coffee!  Those who do not drink liquor will be ecstatic to learn this!  The Hot Chocolate is made fresh right before your eyes.

The stage was decorated with Christmas Trees, poinsettias, and lots of twinkling lights.  The acoustics are great, which make this an ideal location for a concert.

Demetria McKinney opened the show and shocked the crowd by singing classic songs recorded by Patti LaBelle and Whitney Houston.  I must say, Demetria was really good.  I am now a fan.  I would definitely go to a Demetria McKinney concert.

Fantasia walked onto stage wearing a White Satin Pantsuit and just looked like the moon on the breast of the new fallen snow.  She gave the luster of mid-day to concert goers below.  Fantasia’s voice echoed off the walls and ceiling.  She sang a medley of Christmas songs and Fantasia hits, while also recalling her family holiday traditions.  Fantasia has evolved since her days on American Idol.  I was so proud of Fantasia’s growth… as proud as I would be if she were a family member of mine.  Bravo Fantasia!  Bravo!

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my first visit to the Anthem.  The spaciousness, acoustics, and snack options make the Anthem one of my new favorite venues.   I look forward to attending many more events here!

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Thanksgiving in the City

I am accustomed to having a hometown family Thanksgiving.  A Thanksgiving complete with Fried Turkey, Smoked Turkey, Baked Turkey (yes, 3 turkeys).  Cornbread dressing, Macaroni and Cheese, Green beans, Sweet potato Casserole with marshmallow topping, carrot cake, caramel cake, chocolate cake, pound cake, pecan pie, apple pie, egg custard pie, and well, you get it.

This would be a Washington, D.C. Thanksgiving, because I did not go home to Mississippi for Thanksgiving this year.  My cousins made reservations at one of my new favorite brunch restaurants, Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown.  Though skeptical, I thought, well, just try something new.  There is always room for new traditions.

Upon entering the restaurant, I noticed that it was full of people.  Everyone was dressed in the “Thanksgiving Best” outfit, ready to mingle and eat.  We were seated in a 5 person booth facing the ice skating rink outside.  Lovely view!

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Today’s menu was a special Thanksgiving menu.

Brioche Rolls and Traditional Skillet Cornbread, with honey butter and cranberry jam for the table.  The cornbread had actual pieces of corn in it!  Yum!

First course:  Choice of Butternut Squash Soup or Fried Brussels Sprout Salad

I chose the fried brussels sprout salad.   It was good, although, it was a regular iceberg lettuce salad, topped with fried brussels sprouts.  The Butternut Squash Soup had  a nice peppery taste and was surprisingly sweet.

Main Course Choices: Roasted Turkey,  Apricot Ginger Sorghum Glazed Ham, Honey Pot Fried Chicken, Rock Salted Crusted Prime Rib, Mushroom Almond Crusted Royal Seabass, Crackling Pork Shank, Many vegetable Mushroom Loaf.

All of the main courses were accompanied by: Double whipped mashed potatoes, Cranberry Relish, Sweet Potatoes with sticky Pecan Dried Fig Streusel, Green Beans with Herb Butter, Maple-Orange Roasted Autumn Vegetables, Cornbread Stuffing

Doesn’t that sound wonderful?  Well, it was!  I chose the Honey Pot Fried Chicken.  Their chicken is always a hit!  It was great! Crispy, juicy, crunchy, and moist!   My cousin (a vegetarian) ordered the Many vegetable loaf.  It was very good, and really tasty.  It is reminiscent of mushroom dressing.

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Dessert Course Choices:

Apple Pie with vanilla bean ice cream, Pumpkin pie, Carrot Cake, Pecan Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie.  As you can see from this line up, there is no bad choice!   I ordered the Pecan Pie.  It looked great, but was lacking sugar.  Usually, pecan pies are too sweet.

I am convinced the chef grew tired of eating “too sweet” pecan pie as a child as decided to remove all sugar from this dish.  I will not order it again.   Instead, I will order the carrot cake.  Now the carrot cake was delicious.  It had just the right balance of spice, carrots, and cream cheese.  The apple pie was also delicious.  Vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect pair for this pie.

Wine Selections:

Bubbly: Perrier-Jouet-Brut

White: Imagery Chardonnay, Black Cottage Sauvignon Blanc

Red: Adelsheim Pinot Noir, Etude Pinot Noir, Imagery Cabernet Sauvignon

The Thanksgiving menu was my favorite part.   The vibe in the restaurant was one big family meal.   I felt as though I was having Thanksgiving dinner with everyone in the restaurant.  If you are looking for a hearty flavorful Thanksgiving dinner, Farmers Fishers Bakers is an excellent choice!  What’s more, it is only $39 per person.  Save time, enjoy your family, and leave the cooking to Farmers Fishers Bakers.

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Delicious Delight

Imagine this. It’s a day of celebration for you.  You and a group of your best friends go to a new restaurant for dinner.  You peruse the menu, although you already know what to order.  You have been dreaming about tasting this dish for the past 3 weeks!  You place your order and wait.  The drinks arrive first.  Oh, this doesn’t look like a Mai Tai, is your first thought.  The drink is weak and watered down.  “I’ll just have a Sweet Tea.” you tell the waiter.  The Sweet Tea arrives, but it is not sweet at all.  “Oh well, looks like I’ll drink a Sprite for the rest of dinner, because it is impossible to mess up a Sprite.” you say to yourself.  Waiter, just bring me a Sprite, please.

Hopefully, the food will be better.  You see the waiter approaching your table.  You are filled with excited anticipation.  Then the crash.  The letdown.  The feeling of ‘not enough butter over too much bread.’ The waiter places the plate in front of you.  “This looks nothing like the picture on the website!”  “I thought I would get more Shrimp than this.”  “Where is the cheese?” “I know they aren’t gonna charge me $35 for rice and gravy”  These are phrases you say to yourself.  Then you taste the food.  It tastes worse than it looks!  “Where is the seasoning?”  “What kind of restaurant serves bland, unseasoned chicken?” “You call this a Creole dish?  How?”  “This is not enough sauce!”  These are more phrases you say to yourself, before you give up, send the dish back, and request chicken tenders and fries, because every restaurant should have decent chicken tenders and fries.

This miserable food experience has just overshadowed all of the wonderful news your friend just shared.  Oh that’s right, you went there to celebrate, remember. However, all you can think about is the undelectable disappointment and disgust from this subpar food.

Now, Imagine This.  It’s a day of celebration for you.  You and a group of your best friends go to your favorite restaurant for dinner.  You peruse the menu, although you already know what to order.  You have been dreaming about tasting this dish for the past 3 weeks!  This is not quite Deja Vu, keep reading. You place your order and wait.  The drinks arrive first.   Ah, tasty, this is a good day for the bartender, because she made your Mai Tai just the way you like it, with the perfect combination of alcohol and fruit juice….as if she knew it was a special day for you.   You sip on your drink, and laugh and talk with friends.  Celebrate the good news.  This is the life.  Does it get better than this?  Of course it does, remember, you are waiting for the main event….your food.

Suddenly, you see your waiter walking towards you with a tray full of food. Your eyes grow larger, the food looks delicious!  Oh, I hope it is for our table.  The waiter stops at your table, YES!  Everyone’s dish looks so appetizing.  The waiter places a plate right in front of you.  Oh, the food is calling, you don’t know what to bite into first.  You can still see the steam, the colors are vibrant, the cheese is stringy, the sauce is ample, the tea is sweet, the butter is honey, the bread is fresh, the macaroni is baked, while the potato is twice-baked and filled with butter, Bacon, and Cheddar.  Oh, Hallelujah, they just hit a homerun with your dish.  You take the first bite and OMG, this food tastes better than you imagined.  It is perfectly seasoned, perfect temperature. (There really are only two perfect temperatures, piping hot or perfectly chilled.)

To me, that is a feeling of pure joy.  When my food arrives and is this perfect, I am filled with joy.  I am delighted.  I am not thinking about any problems or worries or stress or drama.  For that moment, I am consumed with happiness.  It is a happiness that only good food can bring.  I believe this feeling of delicious delight is what we are truly seeking when we go “out to eat”. Dining at a restaurant, especially with friends, family, or other good company is the one time during the day, when we are filled joy with experience true delight.

I have just given you a glimpse of my feelings towards food.  The quality of the food will either make or break and event or dinner.   Delicious food is extremely important.  It is my mission to discover the best (and sometimes the worst) restaurants.  I hope that you follow me on this journey from undelectable disappointment to delicious delight as I travel to different restaurants in search of the best Drink and Food the Earth has to offer.

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