Sunday, May 22, 2011

Blue Water Grille

126 East State Street, High Point, N.C.
Two Thumbs Up

Jason's Take
Since we haven’t posted in quite a while, we decided to go all out for our next review.  While Jon and I have both drank the occasional cocktail at Blue Water Grille, we have yet to enjoy a meal at this High Point favorite.  Blue Water Grille is located off State Street and can be difficult to find.  As a result, the restaurant is rather intimate and a quiet dinner on the patio is possible.

When we entered the restaurant, the host greeted us and asked if we wanted to sit in the dining room, at the bar, or on the patio.  We chose the bar; the dining room is somewhat formal  and I was in shorts and sandals while the pollen was a little heavy outside.  When offered drink,  I opted for a greyhound (Pinnacle Vodka, $6.50). 

After perusing the appetizer list I settled on the lobster mac and cheese ($12).  Pete, our waiter, brought us this delicious multigrain bread and a mix of oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.  Some soft music was playing in the background and the tone was set for an enjoyable dining experience.  I was very impressed with my appetizer, the pasta was perfect, the blend of gruyere and cheddar creamy, and the lobster meat perfectly cooked and in large chunks.  The flavor and the large portion of lobster meat justified the 12-dollar price for this appetizer. 

I also ordered a Caesar salad ($7), and was impressed with the uniqueness this sometimes ordinary salad.  The lettuce had a nice amount of dressing and the salad came topped with real anchovies.  What makes the salad unique is the deep fried artichoke hearts that come on the plate, a unique and quite tasty replacement for croutons.  One can learn lots about a restaurant based on the quality of its Caesar salad.  This one was top notch and I would come back for the salad alone.

After learning about the night’s dinner special, I had to try it.  The special was a tuna steak, wrapped in prosciutto, deep-fried and served with baby spinach and fingerling potatoes.  The tuna was topped with a jumbo shrimp and served with a sauce of brie and bacon as well as a cherry, hazelnut compote ($28).  The rare tuna covered with the crispy prosciutto was a unique combination and the sauces went perfectly with the fish.  The only flaw I found in the dish is that the potatoes were slightly undercooked.  However, the spinach was great and the dish made me my stomach very happy.  I enjoyed a glass of A to Z Pinot Noir (2007, $9) with my dinner after tasting 3 wines recommended by Pete.

For dessert I had the crème brulee ($7.5) and a makers on the rocks ($9).  The crème brulee was good and topped with fresh berries.

What impressed me about Blue Water was the quality of service.  Pete, our waiter, was very knowledgeable about the menu and made sure we were well taken care of.  Pete allowed Jon and I to taste several wines before I chose the wine for my meal, and the ambiance of Blue Water is quite charming.  While I don’t normally spend $91 plus tip on dinner for one, if you need a great place to take a date place or important clients are in town, I highly recommend Blue Water Grille in High Point.  Blue Water is a true gem in the High Point dining scene and should be experienced by all that appreciate food.

Jon's Take
This out-of-the-way restaurant offers what's arguably the finest dining experience in High Point. I'll say right up front that you'll pay for that experience as well; bargain hunters won't be pleased but if you're really looking for a fine dining experience, Blue Water Grille won't disappoint. You've got three options upon entry: dining room, bar or patio. The dining room was a little formal for what we were doing, so we gravitated to the bar, which offers the same menu in a little bit more casual of an atmosphere.

There's a large beverage selection. Our waiter promised they make "killer drinks" but the Blue Water wasn't offering any drink specials. Most beers were $3.75 or $4 and I settled on the Highland Gaelic Ale. If you like the specialty stuff, there were 13 different types of Martinis on the menu ranging from $8.25 to $11.

The food menu isn't too extensive and everything on it looked interesting (which I actually prefer -- concentrate on some great items and don't make me wade through a million choices). I started off with the Crab Bisque, added a house salad (you pay separate for that) and went with Shrimp Linguini for the entree. The quality of the beer as well as the bread with oil and vinegar had me eagerly anticipating the arrival of our orders.

The crab bisque was great. It was really flavorful -- creamy with a good amount of crab and spices. This was also the cheapest appetizer on the menu for $6. The salad featured a great presentation. I usually don't go with a house salad because I find them uninteresting, but this one wasn't your typical lettuce with a few other vegetables on top. This house salad offered a few things like cheese, nuts and cranberries wrapped in thinly sliced cucumbers that held it all together.

I was already pretty satisfied by the time the entree arrived, which was good because I was a little underwhelmed by it. Don't get me wrong, this was really high quality and it was good, but I just wasn't blown away by the Shrimp Linguini. I lost track of my receipt but I think it was in the mid-$20s. The plump shrimp were plentiful but overall it was a little plain, the sauce was thin and didn't add a lot of flavor but maybe that's how they intended it. The dish really relied on the main ingredients and you got the flavor from that, it wasn't particularly spiced up or anything like that. It was solid but I was feeling pretty jealous of Jason's mac&cheese and his entree special. His choices definitely were the clear-cut winners.

I followed Jason's lead and had a Maker's Mark on the rocks after dinner, and had a taste of his crème brulee, both good calls. My tab initially came in at $51.72 because they forgot one of my Highland Ales, but to my chagrin they made the correction and it ended up a few dollars higher. Overall I thought this was a great overall dining experience, I wasn't blown away by my entree but I think I may have enjoyed some of the other menu items a little more. Due to the hefty prices, Blue Water Grille isn't a place I'll be frequenting, but I'd highly recommend it if you're looking to go all-out on a special dinner.

As an aside, I'm sorry to note that the first restaurant we reviewed on this blog -- DJ's -- has closed. From what I've heard it had to do with some investor issues and they are considering re-opening in a new location. And sorry about the major delay between reviews!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

US Sushi

2531 Eastchester Drive, High Point, N.C.
One Sideways Thumb, One Down (we need a new rating system)

Jon's Take
Upon entering US Sushi we were greeted with the usual Japanese decor. I've never been to Japan so I'm never really sure if it's authentic or the Japanese restaurants are just giving us what they think we want to see. It doesn't really matter to me anyway, I just want the food. For this particular review we had a few guests on hand who livened up the situation and offered their own opinions of the restaurant and life in general. They don't get to write in the blog though.

The relative thickness of my Sapporo can was my main source of entertainment until the food came. Seriously, you can't crush a Sapporo can like other beer cans. I forgot all about the can when the giant Mayflower boat of food showed up. I was definitely impressed with the size of this wooden raft heaped with different sashimi and a bunch of different types of rolls. Shortly after the Mayflower landed we received another roll, compliments of the house.

I'll first say that the food was all very tasty. Like most of my trips to sushi restaurants, I tried everything and ate quite a bit. But I have to be quick to note that the Mayflower was, at best, 50 percent raw fish, and that's where my main complaint lies: when I go to a sushi place and take part in a $70 sushi boat, I want it to have a lot of raw fish on it. The menu was mainly just a big listing of the names of the dishes, so there wasn't really any indication that there would be so much cooked fish and other stuff.

So I was satisfied with the food in general but disappointed with the relatively low proportion of raw fish. What was there -- salmon, tuna, white tuna and most of the other regulars -- was good. I just don't want all the rice and avocados and cooked fish when I'm expecting sushi. Plus there wasn't any Octopus, which is one of my favorites on a sushi boat. Maybe they are trying to make the meals more palatable for non-sushi eaters, but I really don't think it's necessary at a restaurant called US Sushi.

My thumb is down for the first time in the history of this blog. I would definitely eat at US Sushi again and I have no complaints about the quality of what was served, I will just be more careful when ordering next time and make sure I'm actually going to get ... Sushi.

Footnote: This blog is for restaurant reviews, but the movie Jumper is on FX right now. I've got to say it's terrible. Maybe I'll start a movie blog too.

Jason's Take
Some things just go together...peanut putter and jelly, chicken wings and beer, french fries and Texas Pete. Other food combinations really trip my trigger...but cream cheese and raw fish isn't on that list.  Cream cheese is a food group that enhances bagels and the icing on my mom's carrot cake.  Other than that, it has little use to me.  But I will get back to the topic of cream cheese in a few.  First let me begin my review of US Sushi.

If I hadn't grown up in High Point, I wouldn't have know that US Sushi is located at the old Ham's Restaurant. They have done a decent job decorating and you feel as if you are in an "asian" restaurant.  They have some nice ceiling treatments that give theplace a somewhat modern "Japanese fusion" atmosphere.  And when you get the menus, 1 for hibachi and the other for sushi, you know where you are.  Jon and I had a few guests with us so we ordered the May Flower (70.00) which is a chef's choice of sushi and sashimi that comes in a huge wooden boat, much like the Pilgrims, hence the name.  They also have the Love Boat (50.00), I am assuming this is for 2 diners, and the Titanic (100.00) which is for Leo and Kate.

I will start with the sashimi, which was, as you all might guess, Dank!  The thin slices of fresh fish consisting of tuna, white tuna, salmon, and red snapper were very fresh and very tasty.  Fresh fish is typically not slimy and not "fishy" smelling.  All the pieces of fish were fresh and tasty.

Next comes the rolls, that encompass the other 60-70 percent of the boat.  I was very disappointed in the fact that 80 percent of the rolls had cream cheese.  while I can tolerate the cream cheese, I dont prefer it.  Maybe if I had asked for no cream cheese in the rolls they would have complied, but that sort of defeats the purpose of chef's choice.

Of course I did have 1 large can of Sappporo to wash it all down.  I am always amazed at the can construction of this Japanese beer.  I don't think the world's strongest man could crush one of these.  All in all, I had a pleasant dining experience. If the sushi chef would leave the cream cheese in Philly, I would give the place a thumbs up.  Instead I have to give a neutral sideways gesture.  Next time, I will ask for rolls without the cream cheese.

Footnote:  Jumper isn't as bad as Jon thinks...but we are both looking forward to the return of Kenny Powers.

Mi Pueblo Mexican Restaurant

111 Northpoint Avenue, High Point, N.C.
(336) 887-5518
Two Thumbs Up

This post has been on the shelf for quite some time. We're really sorry about being away for the summer, but we'll get back to work now that the weather is cooling off.

Jon's Take
Mi Pueblo is a solid place to eat, especially if you are hungry. It smells great as soon as you walk in the door and your servers are prompt to bring you as much chips and salsa as you'd like. I like that they bring you multiple dishes for the salsa so you can double dip.

There's a couple of basic Italian dishes on the menu for anyone who doesn't like Mexican, but that's not why we're at Mi Pueblo. We're there for the extremely long menu filled with countless variations of Mexican cuisine. There's at least 50 different things on the menu, plus combo meals in which you can basically put together anything you want.

I got a Chimichanga for $7.95 and I wasn't really sure what it was going in. Turns out most Mexican dishes from places like this are pretty much the same. It was a rolled up meat filled thing that came with rice and refried beans -- all high quality. I also tasted Jason's dish and it was really distinct and excellent. I'd recommend whatever he got if you're at any of the Mi Pueblo locations in the Piedmont Triad.

Last but not least, they have huge Dos Equis drafts with lime for $3.00 which has to be one of the best beer deals in town. A huge amount of food plus several drafts came up to $28.94 including tax. It was a solid meal for the value and I'll be going back plenty in the future.

Jason's Take

photo.JPGI was pleasantly surprised when I saw the specialty section of the Mi Pueblo menu.  As far as decor, Mi Pueblo is much like any Mexican Restaurant, nothing to special.  They have tacos, burritos, and the numbered combination meals that are the same at every Mexican joint in the continental US.  They even have the 32oz. Dos Equis on draft that I have grown to love at every Mexican eatery.  What sets Mi Pueblo above all other places I have eaten are the many special dishes on the menu.

Jon and I started with Cheese dip with beef.  They take the normal cheese dip and add in some seasoned, grounded beef which enhances the flavor and makes it possible to get more of it on a chip.  As for the chips, well they are the same everywhere so that is all I will say about that.  The dip though, is excellent.

For my entrée, I settled on the Jerk Pork tenderloin (9.95).  The is a very unique dish, not one I typically see at a Mexican restaurant.  The plate has thin slices of Pork flavored with Jerk seasoning, topped with a pineapple, sour cream sauce with adds a little sweetness to the spice.  The dish is also served with rice, black beans, and grilled veggies (asparagus, squash, onion, bell pepper).  The perfect bite of this dish is a small slice of asparagus with some pork and the sauc
e, and of course the many rice grains that stick as you put the food on the fork.  This dish surpasses any "traditional" mexican dish on the menu i.e. burrito or enchilada.  The jerk pork tenderloin is definitely on of the highlights of this blog journey and I can't wait to eat it again.  If I were an octopus I would give this dish eight tentacles up!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

O'so Tavern

3800 Tinsley Drive, High Point, N.C.
(336) 884-3474
Two Thumbs Up

Jason's Take
O'so, which took over the space that used to house Aquaria, is by far the most upscale restaurant we have visited so early in this blog adventure and it was a great treat. The meal was destined for greatness from the moment Jon and I took our seats because the waiter said, "Would you guys like some wine? Tonight is half price wine night." We ordered a bottle of Layer Cake Shiraz, a nice choice considering the beef Jon and I would both eat and an awesome deal at 13.50 for the bottle.

As I sat sipping my wine I couldn't help but notice how well the decor complements the atmosphere. The decor is dark wood, fairly modern, and the place is dimly lit. However, there is adequate lighting at each table so you don't feel like you are trapped in a cave. The music isn't much of a factor because the chatter was very loud. However the loudness adds to the character of the restaurant. Because of the chatter and the walls around each booth you feel like you are isolated and a conversation at normal levels is very possible. The place is upscale yet you don't feel as if you can't be yourself and get funny stares if your group laughs too loud at a joke.

The food excellent both in taste and presentation. I started with an oyster salad, which can be substituted for the regular dinner or caesar salad for 3 bucks. This upgrade is well worth the expense. You get 3 fried oysters on a bed of greens with mushrooms, onion, tomato, and cucumber. The dressing is a very tasty bacon vinaigrette. The salad also comes with bleu cheese crumbles but since I enjoy eating bleu cheese about as much as I enjoy eating rancid tuna salad I asked for the salad without the bleu cheese. For my meal I got the special of the evening and it was special. It was sort of a layered dish including sliced beef tenderloin (mid-rare), crab cakes, potato cakes, and fried green tomatoes, all drizzled with a roasted red pepper aioli. This was, as best as I can put it, dank! The beef was tender and flavorful, the crab cake is excellent, almost all meat and the potato cakes are just amazing. The potato cakes at Oso are basically fried mashed potato pancakes and they are as good as they sound. Jon's meal looked equally amazing and because of the quantity of food, dessert was skipped...but the list looked excellent.

Guys, if you want to impress your lady, take her here. Anyone, if you want to have a great meal at what I will now consider one of the best restaurants in High Point, you must check out O'so. O'so combines great food in a casual atmosphere, and the prices aren't bank breaking. My meal, including wine was 30 bucks. If I were an octopus I would give this place 8 thumbs up.

Jon's Take
I don't usually drink wine, but how can you pass up half-priced anything? This is how my first trip to O'so Tavern began. The place was packed on a Wednesday night and it had a great active atmosphere. It was noisy, but not so noisy that you had to yell across the table or anything. We received friendly service from the start and, speaking for myself, I wasn't disappointed the rest of the way. This place has a nice bar, but it's only open until 10 p.m. so it's really a restaurant.

The menu has a wide variety, from Italian to beef to chicken to seafood and vegetarian. Everything seem to have its own twist. In addition, there were seven signature entres that were all very interesting. I went with one of those -- the Saucy Tips ($14.29). I got a side Caesar salad with the meal, but this was a big mistake after seeing the concoction that was delivered to Jason's side of the table. The Caesar was fine, but his oyster salad looked spectacular and I will definitely get that for the extra $3.00 next time.

I was slightly disgruntled about the salad, but I was very gruntled when my meal arrived. The steak tips came with peas, mushrooms and a tasty Marsala-style sauce (I'm not 100 percent sure if it was Marsala) over a generous portion of mashed potatoes. There was also a rich white topping over it, I'm not sure what it was but it was pretty good too. It was a great meal overall. I was very satisfied with both the quality and was the kind of meal that I used the last of the bread to sop up what was left on my plate.

This all went with the Layer Cake Shiraz, which I found very good but I'll be the first to admit I don't know much of anything about wine, except to tell if it's red or white (this was red). But if it's half price, I'll order it again on my next trip to O'so.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sir Pizza

1916 North Main Street, High Point, N.C.
(336) 841-6434
Two Thumbs Up

Jon's Take
Walking into Sir Pizza is like going into a time warp to the late 1970s or early 1980s. The place is very clean and nice, but the fixtures and furnishings are clearly from another era. The chandeliers, booths, carpets, suspended ceiling, all of it retro. The jukebox is one of those where you flip through the pages of CDs, a modern amenity compared to most of what's there. During our stay, someone kept playing early Beatles music ("I want to hold your hand," "She Loves You," Love Me Do," and so on) that would kick up the volume pretty high, then make it seem pretty quiet whenever there wasn't something playing. I was actually disappointed they didn't have the old school juke boxes on each table.

Sir Pizza really reminds me of how the Papa Gino's in Gardner, Mass., looked when I was a kid. It turns out this is a national chain (I had never seen one until I moved to High Point, and there are a few locations around the area). So maybe Sir Pizza and Papa Gino's have more in common than I realized.

I ordered a medium pizza with mushrooms and hamburger and the unlimited salad. They give you a nice big plate, so one trip to the salad bar is enough anyway. They have all the basics at the salad bar -- veggies, cheese, diced hard boiled eggs, bacon bits, ham and more -- and a total of five dressing options, though no low-fat options. You don't have to stress about your drink options. All they have is the basic sodas, iced tea, and for beer they had Miller Lite and Ice House on draft (no bottled drinks).

The pizza was interesting and unique as advertised. It was very thin crust and the diced toppings were plentiful. The sauce was distinct, almost a sweet taste. It was high quality for sure. They cut it into a bunch of small squares, which I don't prefer because I never can figure out how to hold it. I prefer regular triangle slices. But that's pretty minor, the pizza was very good overall and there was plenty to take home for dinner tomorrow.

I didn't keep track of the individual prices of what I ordered, but my medium two-topping pizza, unlimited salad bar and half a pitcher of Miller Light came up to $18.15 including tax, which I thought was very reasonable for the quality and quantity. I'll definitely be back in the future.

Jason's Take
Sir Pizza has been a High Point favorite for many years. Although I thought it was a local joint, I found out that it is actually a franchise and that many locations exist around the country. I have been eating at Sir Pizza all my life and the only change that I have seen is their recent change of letting people use credit and debit cards to pay for their meal. For as long as I can remember, it was cash or check only. Their lack of change includes the decor. The stained glass light fixtures that hang over each table are most likely the same fixtures that lit my parents' dinners when they were in high school. I know that they have been there for my 26 years. There is a jukebox in the dining room and wood paneled walls cover the interior. Sir Pizza has no fancy decorations or gimmicks. None are needed because the pizza is consistently good.

But before I get to the pizza I will talk about the salad bar, the most consistently consistent feature of Sir Pizza. The salad bar is simple, yet always good. There is a big metal bowl of shredded iceburg lettuce, ham, cheese, brocolli, onion, carrots, diced egg, imitation bacon bits, pickle spears, potato salad, and 5 dressings. There is nothing fancy here, but you get a huge platter and it's all you can eat for $3.49. So I piled my plate high and doused it with the French dressing, more Catalina than French but the dipper says French, and then got a handful of the captains wafers that always sit in the basket on top of the salad bar.

Next comes the beverages. There is not a large selection, just water, tea, coke, sprite, diet coke, Mr. Pibb, Icehouse, and Miller Lite. Fountain drinks and draft beer. It can't get simpler than that. Jon and I got a pitcher of Miller Lite, 9.95 and we each got about 3 12oz. glasses. The beer was really cold and the mugs were frosted...a big plus.

You all know what is coming next. The pizza is Dank. There are no fancy stuffed crusts or dipping sauces. Sir Pizza has thin crust with toppings to the edge. The toppings are all diced so you get a little of each in every bite. The sauce must have a pinch of sugar because it has a slight sweetness that makes the pizza very unique. I ordered a medium 3 topping, about 12 bucks, with ham, hamburger, and onion on my half, and ham, hamburger, and pepperoni on the half I was taking home to my girlfriend...she doesn't like onion. After the huge salad I had I could only eat 5 squares so I took home 3/4 of a pizza. Now comes the exciting news. Sir Pizza is the best cold pizza I have ever tasted. I woke up today and had a few squares for breakfast. Yum.

Sir Pizza has been around for years and they haven't had to change anything to make them stay around. In 30 more years the same stained glass light fixtures will be there. The pizza is that tasty. Of course, a little remodel can never hurt. That is the only advise I could give this place.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thai Chiang Mai

2209 North Main Street
High Point, NC 27262-7703
(336) 869-0908
This place has no website!
Two Thumbs Up

Jason's Take
Thai Chiang Mai has been around in High Point for the past 13 years and if they continue to provide such great food they will be around for many more years. Many Asian restaurants are mediocre at best. The food at Thai Chiang Mai is fresh and flavorful. I had an order of crispy spring rolls as an appetizer ($3.00). These are vegetable rolls deep fried and served with a sweet dipping sauce. There is a nice crunch with the deep fried rice paper and the veggies in the middle have a nice flavor. Despite being deep fried they are not too greasy. For my entree I had the traditional Thai dish, Chicken Pad Thai ($9.99). At Thai Chiang Mai you can order food mild, medium, hot, or Thai hot. I ordered it hot. I received a generous portion of the noodle dish and when they say hot, they mean hot. The peppers they use to heat up their food give the lips and mouth region a nice controlled burn which is accented by the few drops of sweat on my brow. However a sip of Singha, the Thai Beer ($4.00), the heat is temporarily washed away. They bring you a spice rack and I added a little dried, ground, Thai chili pepper to my food which added to the flavor. The great thing about spicy Asian food in general is that while the heat know it because you can't feel your lips, the flavors do not go away because of the heat. The flavors of peanut and chicken and whatever else they use to season their dish still pop in your mouth despite the heat. To sum it up, the Pad Thai is Dank.

A perfect end to any great meal is dessert. Thai Chiang Mai features a very uniques dessert. Homemade coconut icecream (2.99). This is the perfect ending to the meal as it quiets the burning sensation of my lips. The icecream has a nice texture. I can definitely tell it is homemade and flavored with real coconut because the coconut flakes are very evident in the texture of the icecream. There are no frills in this dessert. It is a large scoop of icecream in a glass dish with a spoon. Simple yet tasty and very cooling of the mouth and esophagus.

Thai Chiang Mai is a very unique restaurant when compared to other Asian restaurants I have been to. It is family owned and they treat everyone like family. Much of their business is repeat business and they seem to know and cherish their regulars. Another aspect that makes the place unique is the decor. I am no interior designer and I know nothing of authentic Asian decor, but either this place is filled with authentic decorations or they have decorated it in a fashion that will make Americans think it is authentic. All I know is that the statues, pictures, and "twirly things" hanging from the ceilings make it seem authentic.

Another aspect adding to the color of the restaurant is the stage. There are a few guitars hanging on the wall and a microphone and a few speakers. The restaurant often has live music, a man or woman singing and playing a guitar, on Friday nights. While I didn't get to experience this I overheard the owner speaking with a regular about musical acts that frequented the place over the past 13 years.

Thai Chiang Mai was a great experience. They have a friendly staff, and the food speaks for itself. One day I am gonna be brave and order my food Thai Hot. If I live to tell about it, I will let you know.

Jon's Take
Sorry for the long delay between posts...this is mostly my fault. But in the busy life of High Point, North Carolina, we did get out to Thai Chiang Mai last week for a review. It won't be the last time I go to Thai Chiang Mai – this place has really tasty food, a comfortable atmosphere and reasonable prices for the quality and quantity.

Starting off, there's a huge selection on the menu. I'm not a veteran Thai food eater, so I had a hard time making decisions on the order. Jason ordered Crispy Spring Rolls and I ordered Chian Mai Wings to buy some time while deciding on an entree. The spring rolls were good and very light for fried food. The best part was the sauce that came with them (sweet 'n sour sauce?), because it had an interesting but not overpowering flavor. Most times when you put a sauce like that on food, the sauce takes over. The wings were pretty good too...not really necessary because the entrees showed up before we could get through all the appetizers.

For my entree I decided on Mai Thai with Beef, which is a noodle dish with vegetables and (obviously) beef. It was good and I had a good meal out of it, but I think I probably would have enjoyed other menu items more. The noodles were thin and light, not really what I was expecting but they were OK. I liked the mushrooms. The restaurant provided an array of spices and sauces which definitely added to the experience. I experimented with the crushed chili peppers and Tuong ot Sriracha sauce, and both were very good. I'll definitely order my food hot next time.

The wings, sauces I used on my entree, as well as trying Jason's hot entree definitely had my mouth on fire a few times, but the Singha Thai beer was a perfect remedy. It's light and tasty at the same time, a great compliment to the flavors offered.

I'm definitely looking forward to heading back to Thai Chiang Mai and trying some different things on the menu.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Big Ed's Chicken Pit

105 West Peachtree Drive, High Point, N.C.
This place has no web site!
Note: Cash only
Two Thumbs Up

Jon's Take
This is what I thought it would be like when I moved below the Mason-Dixon line. First, it's called Big Ed's Chicken Pit. Second, it lives up to the name.

Big Ed's Chicken Pit has a homey atmosphere and great food, and it's a great value. There are no frills here. The outside is pretty plain. The inside is all wooden and brick (real wood and brick, not paneling) and it's decorated with antique farming equipment, old photos, license plates, neon beer signs, and -- for good measure -- there's a stuffed rooster and a stuffed boar on the wall. There's also a covered deck but nobody was using it in the rainy weather.

To start with the value factor, I just have to say that Big Ed's offers $1.50 Miller High Lifes every night. Other domestics are just $2.25 and imports are $3.25...also a deal, but let's face it, why would anyone be ordering those when they could be livin' the high life for $1.50? By the way, this is not a bar at all. They only serve beverages with food orders. We started off the food order with Chili Cheese Fries ($5.49) and they were pretty solid.

Now let's get to the meal. This is probably the best barbecue I've ever had. I didn't grow up in the south, but I can't think of any barbecue I've had that was better than this. I ordered the half chicken with a roll and two sides for $7.79. There are few places, if any, in town that can match the quality and quantity for this price.

When I ordered, I thought I was just getting 'barbecue'. In the north it's just barbecue and I think it's usually just sauce out of a bottle from the supermarket. I wasn't prepared for the choices...first I faced "barbecue, buffalo or teriyaki?" I've never had the option of getting a half a chicken buffalo style. I ordered barbecue. Then another three choices: "mild, medium or hot?" I didn't know there would be any difference. I ordered hot. There was also a wide variety of sides; I ordered potato salad and hot chips. Another interlude from being a chips are so fantastic, why don't restaurants in the north make these? They are so great and just about every restaurant in North Carolina offers them. I also got a side of ranch for the chips (an extra $0.60, but the portion is diesel).

I found out what "hot" barbecue sauce was when I took my first bite of chicken. It's not hot like buffalo style, the only way I can think to explain it is that it has bite. If I had a stuffed up nose, I wouldn't have had it by the time I finished. The chicken was excellent and the potato salad and chips were also very high quality. The portions of each were very good. The best part of it, I paid for the appetizer and was still out of there for just 20 bucks. This is my kind of place.

The wait staff all works together, so the service is very fast and friendly. We were able to flag down one employee and asked a few questions. It turns out the Big Ed is just a mythical just was the right type of name for a barbecue chicken place. They do have a chicken pit in the back though.

Jason's Take
Big Ed's Chicken Pit is nestled in a gravel parking lot in a nondescript building near the bowling alley on North Main Street.  Because it doesn't have any road frontage, there is a security company blocking the view of Main Street, it is what I consider on of the best kept secrets in High Point.  When you walk into the place you  enter an atmosphere that is best described as a mix between Cracker Barrel (because of all the stuff adorning the walls) or the kitchen of the family farm (with a few tables added).  The place is decorated with farm equipment and old pictures, as well as 2 neon beer signs and most importantly 3 magazine articles that the Chicken Pit has been featured in.  I don't read Southern Living or Our State Magazine but I know people who do.  If a restaurant is featured in this magazine, there is a good chance that restaurant has some good food.

The food at Big Ed's isn't just good.  It is dank!  Since I have been here quite a few times over the years I thought I would order something a little different in addition to the wings which I love.  So, along with the10 hot barbecue style wings (7.49), I ordered 1 hot dog all the way (1.99), and an ice cold Miller High Life (1.50).  The wings are cooked to order and always come hot.  Everyone has buffalo wings but no one on the planet has the sweet but spicy flavor of the sauce Big Ed's puts on its barbecue style wings.  The hot dog, my first at Big Ed's, was equally delicious.  The slaw was homemade and had a hint of celery seed just like mom's.  The weenie was all beef and was topped off with homemade chili, red onion, and mustard in addition to the slaw.  If the wings weren't so good I might just go to Ed's for the hot dog alone, which says a lot because I am a hot dog connoisseur.  After eating all of that I had no room for dessert.  But for the sake of review, I ordered a slice of cinnabun cake (4.50).  A slice is a huge understatement which is why the cake comes in a to-go box.  It was still a little warm when I got it and the slice is HUGE...probably a 5" by 5" piece of cake that is 3" tall...3/8" of that icing.  It is yellow cake with cinnamon swirls, iced with a thick glaze of cinnamon bun icing...this cake is good but I wasn't hungry so I took a bite and brought the rest home.

Big Ed's is family owned, has a family environment, "NO BEER SERVED WITHOUT FOOD" is clearly stated on the menu, and leaves you with a fully belly and the feeling that you just ate with a friend.  Big Ed's is dank food at a good value.  It's won't break the bank but you might break a toothpick or two getting the chicken out from between your teeth.  I highly recommend this hidden gem of High Point dining.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

D.J.'s Restaurant

3800 Sutton Way, High Point, N.C.
Two Thumbs Up

We decided to start this blog while eating at D.J.'s Restaurant near the corner of Eastchester and Wendover in High Point, North Carolina. D.J.'s opened relatively recently. In fact, the web site doesn't appear to list the High Point location yet.

Jon's Take
This is a quality restaurant with good food and a good atmosphere. It's a very clean place with nice furnishings and decor. It has a dining room, bar room and patio. Needless to say, we sat in the bar room. They have both the MLB and NFL networks, so it could be a solid option for watching a game. This place gets extra points for having my beloved Red Sox and Celtics on simultaneously on side-by-side flat screen TVs (without me asking).

Since it was the first time we were looking at the menu, I ordered the Spinach Dip ($6.95) to give us more time. The dip comes with tortilla and pita chips and it was all average to above average compared to other spinach dips I've had. For my meal, I got the Chicken Madera ($13.95), which is a chicken breast over linguini with a fancy wine sauce and mushrooms. The portion was huge and it was very good. I can eat a lot, but I didn't finish this. I got a side Caesar Salad, which was an extra $0.95...I found that out when I got my half of the bill. Jason has a similar story. A pint of Stella Artois was $3.75.

One complaint I had was the eclectic music selection. "Eclectic" is a nice way of putting was assorted elevator music with other things randomly thrown in. At one point it went from "Fly" by Sugar Ray to John Legend to Lady Antebellum to 'N Sync (thanks for the info Shazam!). There may have been a Ricky Martin song in there somewhere too. That was a head-scratcher and took away from the overall experience, but they could easily correct this.

Overall I think this is a good restaurant, I'd go back.

Jason's Take
At first I questioned the originality of the name but when I discovered DJ's is the second location I realized they had no choice concerning the name. The restaurant occupies the building where Uno's was, near Skeet Club and Eastchester. The menu has a decent variety of food but there is clearly an Italian and Greek influence in the menu.

There was a decent draft beer selection and I got a pint of Natty Greene's Buckshot (3.75). The beer was fresh but wasn't as cold as I prefer. I like my beer in a frosted mug. Heck, I don’t care if a little ice forms when I first get it, as long as it's cold. I ordered the Chicken Souvlaki Platter(12.50) with mixed veggies instead of fries. I thought I was making a healthy choice with the veggies. Instead I got veggie scampi, some nice mixed veggies on a side dish sitting in a pool of butter and oil. They were so greasy they slid down my throat like a raw oyster sucked from its shell. The souvlaki was ok. It is hard to mess up some grilled chicken chunks on pita bread with some lettuce, tomato, and onion. The house dressing on the side salad wasn’t spicy enough for me...basically just some olive oil. It could use a little more spice...of course you will learn that I like the spice. The tzatziki sauce was good and coming from a guy who doesn’t normally like the stuff, a redeeming factor for DJ’s.

I will now dedicate a whole paragraph on dessert. The canoli ($3.25) is absolutely, positively, dank. Keep in mind that in my section of this blog, dank is the highest honor I can possibly give a food. The menu says that the baking is done on site and this isn't a lie. The canoli was nicely presented and the crust had a little crunch but also a little softness. It definitely had not been sitting in the cooler for three weeks acquiring some moisture. The filling was rich and creamy, a nice consistency. There are other homemade desserts here including 5 flavors of cheesecake...I would love to try them all...but I can't afford bigger pants.

The restaurant was clean, but shouldn't that be expected of any restaurant, especially one only open for a few weeks? The crowd was older but there were daily drink specials that college students would really enjoy. I don’t see many 50 year olds buying jager bombs with their Souvlaki. The staff was friendly. The prices were a little too high for what you get and there were extra charges that I would have like to have known about, like the $1.75 I paid for adding some feta to my souvlaki platter. That was a little irritating but since I got the check after the canoli, I couldn't complain. The souvlaki should be about 8 or 9 bucks, but I would give my right little toe for the canoli if it were the last one on earth. All in all my meal was $26.80 and I left a 5 buck tip. This place didn't break the bank, but I think it was slightly over-priced. I wish I had ordered what Jon did.

I give DJ's a thumbs up for the canoli and its potential to be a great place to hang out. When you try DJ's, get 2 canolis and pass on the Souvlaki.