Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bone-In BBQ Buffet

Everyone's favorite local BBQ truck, Bone-In, has started a glorious weekly event: Thursday lunch buffets.  Yes that's right.  All of your Bone-In favorites in one meal for a measly $12.  Including dessert.  As soon as I heard about this, I started making plans to get there.  I rounded up a few friends and headed to the Big Apple to see what kind of delectable food I could stuff in my face.

Not a bad looking menu
This was only half of the buffet.
And the other half of the buffet.  Look at that plate of pork!
My plate and G's plate.  We could each only fit half of the food on each plate, so we had to go back for seconds to try out the rest of the food.
Overall, it was awesome.  I particularly enjoyed the brussels sprouts and the mac & cheese.  Odd, because brussels sprouts have never been on my list of foods that I enjoy eating.  But these were spectacular.  I really can't wait to try them again.

It's hard for me to go out for lunch during work, but I'm pretty sure this is going to become a monthly event for me.  As far as I know, this is a weekly event for Bone-In.  I suggest that y'all head that way this Thursday or the next Thursday so that we help make sure this is a weekly thing.  The Big Apple is at the corner of Park and Hampton Streets downtown, right behind the Main Branch of the Public Library.  No word set if the menu will change weekly, but knowing the geniuses behind Bone-In, I wouldn't be surprised.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey for me and Turkey for you...

I may have mentioned once or twice or 17 times how awesome my family is.  What I haven't mentioned nearly enough is that my friends rival my family in their awesomeness.  Maybe it's because I'm exceptionally lucky to count my friends as family.  When you live 700 miles away from your closest relative, an adoptive family becomes almost vital.  So this Thanksgiving season (and yes, it should be a season.  Why does Christmas get all the love starting in October?  I hereby declare November to be the "Thanksgiving Season."), I'm extra thankful for my second family. And for their concept of Friendsgiving, a fabulous evening that brought us all together for an amazing potluck style Thanksgiving dinner. Huge thanks to R, A, and baby E for hosting us, and huge thanks to everyone else for making some divinely inspired dishes.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Wine + Tapas = Fabulous downtown happy hour

Believe it or not, I am still trying to use up all of my gift cards from the restaurant week contest I won back in January.  You wouldn't think that it would be so hard to use up 27 gift cards, would you?  At any rate, I'm down to about 8 or 9 more places now, since L & I finally used my gift card to Gervais & Vine last Friday.

We met up after work, had a couple of glasses of wine, and split some food.  Very chill, relaxing happy hour to end the week.  The vibe in G&V is pretty laid back - simple, colorful, and comfortable.  As soon as the holidays are over (read: as soon as I have a discretionary income again), I want to make G&V a regular happy hour spot.

I may have forgotten to write down what kind of wine we were each drinking, but it was very good.  I had a pinot noir that was incredible.  It was exactly what I wanted, and tasted great with everything we ordered.  L had a cabernet that I didn't like as much, but it certainly wasn't bad.  I wish I could remember what kinds they were...

But let's move on to the part you really care about: the food.  G&V's menu doesn't seem huge, but good luck deciding what you want.  Everything sounded great, and it took us awhile to actually decide.  We ended up deciding to split a couple of tapas items and them to share the pizza of the day.  We figured that we could always order more if we were still hungry.

We ordered the garlic-parmesan fries with spicy aioli and the she crab spread to start.  The fries were incredibly well seasoned, and the spicy aioli lived up to its name.  It wasn't over the top, but there was a nice little kick to it.  I wouldn't have minded if the fries had been a little crispier, but that's just because I like crunchy fries.  They were certainly cooked well and covered in grated parmesan and garlic.  I would very strongly recommend these to anyone who goes to G&V.

You can actually see the parmesan that was sprinkled all over.
I don't think I really have words to describe the she crab spread.  Made with a mixture of crab, crab roe, garlic, sherry, cream cheese, and parmesan, it was so good, that both L & I contemplated licking the inside of the ramekin just to make sure we didn't miss anything.  It was creamy and seafood-y and served with crisp crackers and crusty bread.  As a nice complement, there were also red grapes and baby pickles alongside.  I will be hard pressed to order something other than this spread the next time I go to G&V.

Check out the bubbly crusty top of this spread.  So so good.
Finally, we ordered the pizza of the day.  On the day in question, the pizza (cooked in a stone pizza oven) had chicken, pesto, tomatoes, olives, and feta.  We devoured this thing.  The crust was crispy, but not burnt, and the ingredients were fresh.  The tomatoes were divine.  Like everything else we had that night, I would order this again in a heartbeat.

Look at the color on those tomatoes!
Because G&V's seating is so intimate, we also got the opportunity to see what everyone around us was ordering and eating.  The asparagus is definitely on my list of things to try.  I will be raving about G&V for weeks.  It was so good, so filling, and so comfortable.  I can't wait to go back again, and maybe sit at the bar this time so that I can watch all of the awesome food being prepared.

Final Rating

You can find Gervais & Vine on Facebook, Twitter, or on the web

Gervais & Vine on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Help Save our Food Trucks!

My support for Columbia's food truck scene is well-documented.  I think that the 5 trucks we have - Bone-In BBQ, Alfresco Mobilista, 2 Fat 2 Fly Wings, Pawley's Mobile Eats, and NY's Famous Hot Dogs - have been a tremendous addition to Columbia's food scene.

The emergence of these trucks has caused some serious anxiety among Columbia's "brick & mortar" (their words, not mine) restaurant owners.  In an absolutely absurd move, the Columbia Restaurant Association is requesting that City Council tightens the regulations on food trucks.  You can read the proposed amendments to the existing law here.  But just in case you don't have the time, here are the highlights...or lowlights, depending on your viewpoint. There are a few items that I excluded, as I don't think they're nearly as asinine as these few (my comments in italics):
  • Food trucks may not locate within 1,500 feet of a lawfully established eating place selling the same or similar menu items.  How do you determine that?  Who determines that?  And how specific are you going to get?  If a truck sells sandwiches, does that mean they can't park near other places that serve sandwiches?  Or is it only for a specific type of sandwich?  What about drinks?  If a truck sells sweet tea, they pretty much can't park in Columbia, given the fact that every restaurant in town sells sweet tea. See the problem here?
  • If more than three (3) food trucks locate on the same property within 1,000 feet of each other, the following are required:
    • Each food truck will be required to have all of the appropriate licenses and zoning permits;
    • A minimum of one (1) portable toilet facility or access to toilet facilities for the public;
    • A minimum of three (3) picnic tables or something similar to accommodate at least eighteen (18) people.
This particular proposal is the one that irritates me.  The point of a food truck is to be highly mobile. It's food on the go.  They aren't designed for people to congregate, use the bathroom, or hang out.  While I fully support the option to have picnic tables or other seating, it shouldn't be required.  The people who patronize food trucks know and understand this.
  • Food truck vendors shall keep sidewalks, roadways, and other spaces in the immediate area clean and free from paper, peelings, and refuse of any kind, and shall provide a container for litter that shall be maintained and emptied when full. Public trash receptacles shall not be used forcompliance with this section. Food truck must obtain written permission or the use of any public or privately maintained trash receptacles and/or dumpsters and have that on the food truck.  Again, food trucks are mobile.  They are designed for on-the-go food.  Most patrons don't stick around long enough to actually eat and then find a place to dispose of their trash.  They take it with them because it is to-go food.
Things like this really make me wonder if the people protesting food trucks have ever eaten at one.  It's a really cool option for a quick bite to eat, but I doubt that trucks will ever replace traditional restaurants.  Trucks just bring in a bit of competition, and frankly, the Columbia Restaurant Association just needs to get over it.  You can't lobby to make the lives of fellow small-business owners miserable, just because they're creating competition for your business.  Rather, you should be supporting locally-owned and operated establishments because they are part of your community.  And sometimes they even bring publicity to our small city.  Bone-In was recently featured on Eat Street, a show on the Cooking Channel.  How many people are going to come to Columbia, check out some awesome BBQ for lunch, and then head to someplace a little more traditional for dinner?  Think about it.  Impeding the process of food trucks is a detriment to our city, our economy, and our competitiveness in the national food scene.  If the Columbia Restaurant Association wants to keep pace with major food cities, like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and, more locally, Charleston and Atlanta, they need to support the food truck scene.  If Columbia City Council wants to keep our city as a "Famously Hot" location, they would be wise to vote down these amendments, and support something that keeps our city unique.

More information can be found in today's issue of The State, The Free Times, and this particularly well-written blog. Columbia City Council meets tonight (11/15) at 6 p.m. to vote on this issue.  If you can't attend the meeting, contact information for the council members can be found here. Please email if you can't attend.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Team Carnivore! Or really, just a trip to Cowboy.

My birthday was a few weeks ago.  So was my friend G's.  In fact, our birthdays are a day apart, though he's a year older than I am.  We've been celebrating together for about eight years.  This year, as G's birthday fell on a Thursday, which in Hungry Lady land means Game Night with my group of friends, we decided that we would all go out for dinner.  There's a newish Brazilian Steak House in town, so we figured that two birthdays were a great reason to splurge and put ourselves into a meat coma.  G's wife made a reservation for 10 for 7:30 on a Thursday night at Cowboy.  I'm pretty sure we were all super excited about this as a) we love meat and b) all-you-can-eat meat makes it even better.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Guest Review - Contest Winner and Henry's

Remember back in September when I sponsored a contest?  Well, the prize was a $50 gift card to the winner's restaurant of choice.  The winner, after much Facebook voting, was Polly, who also writes the blog La Cucina di Paulina. Her winning entry was a very tasty looking summer salad.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try it before all of the awesome summer fruits and veggies went out of season, but it's on my radar for next year.
Doesn't that look awesome?
After she won, Polly asked that the gift card be to Henry's on Devine Street.  I ran down there during lunch one day to pick up her prize, and to be honest, almost spent it while I was there.  Some of the food coming out of the kitchen looked incredible.  I'll have to get back there soon when I actually have time to eat.  I asked Polly if she would mind recapping her meal for us, and she happily obliged.

My parents and I along with one of our best friends had a fabulous time. As ALWAYS Henry's delivered super fast, super fresh and delicious food. My Mom and our friend Lynn each had the amazing BLT, I had half of a Bacon Burger with bleu cheese and my Dad played it "holy" with a grilled chicken sandwich (no cheese no bacon, why bother?). As always, he stole half my fries. If you haven't eaten at Henry's, do yourself the favor, the food is wonderful, affordable and the service is terrific. And oh, have the fries, and the bacon!

This is my kind of bacon cheeseburger.
Even with nothing on it, that chicken sandwich looks good to me.
These look like some well-satisfied customers.

Thanks Polly for sharing your experience with us!  I've heard some marvelous things about Henry's, so I'll be checking it out soon!

You can find Henry's on Facebook or on the web

Henry's on Urbanspoon