Friday, August 2, 2013

Ford's Fish Shack, Ashburn VA

I'm BACK!!!!  I think it's time to revive this blog since little J is 16 months and he can start on the food adventure with us.  We've been to some nice places lately, but the one that sparked my pallets and interest was Ford's Fish Shack located in Ashburn Virginia.  I've been wanting to try out this place for a while, but given a toddler's schedule and the long drive, we never got around to it.  On a Sunday after church, I found out the place is only 20 minutes from church and we quickly hopped in the car (yes we strapped J to his car seat before hopping away) and came to Ford's Fish Shack!

Having abandoned this blog for a while, I forgot to take pictures of the restaurant and the decorations.  Can you blame me?  We had to chase little J around!  Nevertheless, the restaurant looked surprisingly elegant and I LOVED the blue theme throughout the restaurant.  The lovely hostess greeted us with a big smile and seated us right away in the corner by the window with the *fake* seaside view (good enough for me!)

We took a quick glance at the menu and decided on the following items: kids meal with fried shrimp and sweet potato fries, lobster bisque (soup of the day), fish and chips (a must as I'm told), and Connecticut style lobster roll.

Lobster bisque

Fish and chips (fries in this case)

Connecticut style lobster roll (and more fries!)

kids meal (meh.....)

So to sum up the meal, the lobster roll is probably my favorite in the DC area.  Luke's has the next descent one but being Asian, we like our food hot (or is it just me?) and the Connecticut style sauteed lobster meat WINS big time.  Fish and chips are A+, fresh cod fillet perfectly fried to golden brown.  Just a side note, make sure you substitute some side items  if you're sharing the meals, so you don't end up with a lot of fries to toss away, like us.  Neither J or us liked the kids meal though, the sweet potato fries were way too salty, and shrimps were a bit under cooked (kids obviously don't like semi-transparent shrimps).  I would suggest staying away from these if you can......  Oh, we didn't enjoy the lobster bisque much, way too much alcohol in the soup early in the morning.

Overall, service was A+, our waiter went out of his way to make us and J comfortable; food was a solid A, I think we definitely going to pay another visit when we're in the mood for good lobster rolls!

FoodiePop's rating: 4/5

Ford's Fish Shack
44260 Ice Rink Plz
Ste 101
Ashburn, VA 20147

Thursday, September 13, 2012

La Canela, Rockville Town Center, MD

Wow, it's been a long while since I updated this's revival time!  I have a lot of restaurant pictures from the beginning of the year, hopefully I can finish updating the blog.  Then, even though we won't be dining out as much, I'll try my best to 'keep the blog alive'!

For our last girls night out before my big life changing event, my girl friend recommended La Canela in Rockville Town Center.  I always love trying new places in Rockville town center because parking is usually a breeze there and it's free on weekends.  Then again, we're talking Rockville, don't know why anybody would think about charging patrons parking if we're not in DC..

La Canela Menu

The place is cute and cozy, with dimmed lights for a romantic atmosphere.  I didn't bother taking pictures of the interior since the lights were so dim, but it's definitely a good choice for a first date (maybe?).  What do I know?  My first date was more than a decade

complimentary appetizer

After we placed our orders, our waitress delivered this mysterious complimentary appetizer.  I think it had some type of seafood ceviche inside?  I vaguely remember I wasn't allowed to eat it.....The girls said it was okay, not anything exceptional.  But being that it was free, they didn't mind it at all.

Fried Calamari

I remember the fried calamari was quite good. The breading was just enough, air and fluffy.  This wasn't a good picture though, I accidentally focused on the fries instead, oops.

complimentary bread basket

This was surprisingly good!  I was on low carb diet so I only had a few bites, but I love it when restaurants serve warm bread, two thumbs up!

Seafood Paella

This was my friend's seafood paella dish, it looked good and she liked it.  I snuck in a taste and thought it was pretty good too.  The portion was big as well, I think she ended up taking some home.

shrimp ceviche

Beautifully plated shrimp ceviche.  This was pretty good as well, I especially love the presentation and the cute little decorations (is that potato ball?).

chicken entree

Since I was on low carb diet, I picked an entree with only chicken and vegetables.  It was descent, but the chicken a bit dry inside.  The sauce, on the other hand, was excellent.

dessert menu

Here's a sneak at the dessert menu.  I think we were all too full for dessert, so we just took a look at the menu.  Nothing jumped out at me though, so we skipped dessert...

Overall, I enjoyed the La Canela experience.  I even said to bring the hubby back for a romantic evening out, apparently we got really really busy after April so I never got the

FoodiePop's rating: 4/5

La Canela
141 Gibbs St
Ste D
Rockville, MD 20850

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pacifica Cafe, Gaithersburg MD

Wow, it has been a while since my last post.  My friends obviously know I've been busy for the past two months or so, now that things are 'settled' a bit, it's time to revive this blog!

I've been to Pacifica Cafe many times since they opened, except for their special seasonal dishes like 糯米八寶鴨 duck stuffed with sticky rice or 什錦鍋 special hot pot, I haven't found other dishes that are worth mentioning.  On a Friday, my sister and I decided to stop by Pacifica Cafe for a quick lunch.  I was pleasantly surprised because their lunch specials are cheap and delicious!

You can order two dishes with rice for a lunch special price of $6.99.  I ordered the fish sauce egg plant and basil chicken, they were both freshly prepared and delicious!  Also, the portions were pretty big for a lunch special, they give you the dishes on separate plates as well so they don't all taste the same.  Pacifica Cafe definitely won me over with the lunch specials!

egg plant

basil chicken

My sister ordered their pan-fried udon, which was delicious as well.  It was also a generous portion so she got to take some home for the kids.

fried udon

In short, Pacifica Cafe is now my go-to lunch place for weekday Chinese lunch.  Can't wait to go back again!

FoodiePop's rating for lunch special: 4/5

Pacifica Cafe
621 Center Point Way
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cafe Deluxe, Gaithersburg MD

Cafe Deluxe opened in my neighborhood at Washingtonian center a few months ago.  On a gorgeous spring-like weeknight, we took the dog out to the lake for a nice stroll, and decided to try the new establishment.  I called ahead to make sure they allow dogs at the patio area, and they seem very accommodating to small dogs.  Many other restaurants in the area are not dog friendly at all, for example Red Canyon does not allow dogs in their patio area, CPK allows dogs but they need to be 'outside the fence', which I did not like.  Guapos has a similar policy with the fence but they are really not that strict once you get there as long as you're not a disturbance to other patrons.  On the other hand, Nando is another dog friendly restaurant if you're interested in taking your pooch, but always call ahead to make sure!

from patio area

The patio area is spacious and has plenty of seating, so we were seated right away.  The location, of course, is lakefront so it's great for chilling and people watching (or paddle boat watching).  We even saw a huge fish jumped out of the water!  The place looks great for a happy hour because they have an outdoor bar with great ambiance, I might come back to try!  It will be nice in spring and fall to sit by the lake and enjoy happy hour specials and drinks!

Cafe Deluxe menu

I ordered a turkey burger in an attempt to be healthy, he ordered the beef short ribs from the entrees.  We chatted and people watched for a while before the food came, but it didn't take unreasonably long.  I'd say about 15 to 20 minutes tops.

turkey burger

The turkey burger was good!  It was moist and the buns were toasted buttery delicious, the sauce was a great compliment to the burger as well.  His short rib was okay, a little dry to my liking but it made the C+/B- passing grade.  

beef short rib

Overall, the new restaurant wins with their excellent bar ambiance and nicely setup outdoor dining area.  Their food is up to par, but nothing knocked us out of our shoes.  They do have a descent brunch menu though, we might have to come back for a Sunday brunch sometime!  (with a stroller and the pooch?)

FoodiePop's rating: 3.9/5

Cafe Deluxe
9811 Washingtonian Blvd
Gaithersburg, MD 20878

Monday, March 26, 2012

Season 52, North Bethesda MD

I've wanted to try Season 52 since it opened couple months ago since it's in a new development area and I'd like to see what the hype is about.  So on a misty Saturday night, the hubby and I drove down to Rockville for a late dinner date.  As soon as we walked in, we took immediate liking to the whole ambiance.  The interior decor of Season 52 grill is gorgeous, up-scale, yet cozy.  They have a lobby area with gas fire place while you're waiting, and their bar area is also beautifully furnished with ample open seating and a nice round bar in the middle.  On Saturday nights, they even have live piano performance where the piano is situated right in the center of the bar.  I was immediately attracted by the beautiful sound of the piano and singing, so luckily we found an open booth at the bar and we got to enjoy the dinner and the show for the whole night!

Front entrance

They have a fairly simple but healthy menu.  Most of the yelpers recommended flat bread for appetizer, so we proceeded to do so.  We ordered the steak and cremini flat bread with blue cheese.  The flat bread came fairly quickly, maybe within 8 minutes or so, it was thinner and crispier than I expected but I enjoyed the extra crunchiness.  If you're not a big fan of blue cheese though, you probably want to opt for another flavor.

season 52 menu

steak and cremini flat bread

We order two main entrees, the pork tenderloin and the BBQ chicken salad.  The pork tenderloin was descent, not the best we've had but was on-par.  On the plus side, the pork tenderloins were served with a herb polenta which  I enjoyed more than the usual boring mashed potato as a side, and the broccoli was fresh.  Nothing too special or memorable though.  My BBQ chicken salad was pretty good, the chicken was tender and full of flavor, and the sun flower seeds added the perfect crunch factor.  I finished the salad in no time.

pork tenderloin

BBQ chicken salad

Since I had a pretty healthy main course, I was ready to order dessert!  They have these mini desserts in cute shot glasses that are the perfect portion for someone who's health conscious and just want a bite.  Instead of a traditional dessert menu, they bring you the whole display of mini desserts and you pick whatever you like!  How good does this look?

mini shot glass desserts

I was being semi-good and "only" picked 3 of them.  Well, originally I was just going to get two for taste, but they all looked so good!  Whoever came up with this idea instead of a traditional menu must be a genius!  We picked the key lime pie, mango cheesecake, and mocha macchiato.  Key lime pie was actually my favorite, I did wish it was a little bit more tart for my liking though.  The other two were pretty good as well.

At the end of night, we probably spent about $50 for party of two, which is honestly pretty descent for such an upscale restaurant.  On top of that, we were thoroughly entertained and enjoyed the live piano performance throughout the whole night, it was a date night success with perfect ambiance and good food!

FoodiePop's rating: 4.2/5
(I added 0.3 for the live performance and ambiance, I can be such a girl sometimes :)

Season 52
11414 Rockville Pike
North Bethesda, MD 20852

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sichuan Jin River (formerly Sichuan Pavilion), Rockville MD

Rockville houses some of the best Chinese restaurants in the area, last year Sichuan Jin River 八山蜀水 opened up and added itself to this list as one of the top authentic Sichuan cuisine.  I used to go to Peking Palace in Germantown for Sichuan cuisine, but since Sichuan Jin River opened last year, we've visited this restaurant more since it looks cleaner and the dishes usually do not disappoint.  Peking palace is still one of my favorite places, except for the fact they really really need an interior decor makeover!

They have two types of menu, an authentic Chinese cuisine menu and an 'American version'.  Of course we always stick to the authentic Chinese cuisine, it has all kinds of dishes that I have yet to try.  Additionally, the chopsticks prepared looked clean and sanitized (according to casing), so that immediately won me over!

authentic chinese style menu

re-usable but clean chopsticks (so it says)

We ordered an appetizer and three dishes since it's the beginning of the week and we can always use some leftover for the rest of the week.  For the appetizer, we ordered the meat dumpling in Chili oil 紅油炒手.  I think it's simply the best in the area!  I've tried the same appetizer in several other restaurants and only A&J is up to par with Sichuan Jin River.  I know it's a simple dish, but Pacifiica Cafe in Kentland definitely fails the category because their meat dumpling was soaked in peanut butter sauce rather than chili oil...

Meat dumpling in chili oil 紅油炒手 

For the dishes, we ordered Sichuan Soft Tofu 四川豆花, cumin chicken 關公然雞片, and steamed taro with fatty pork 南乳芋頭燉肉.  The tofu dish was mediocre but was what I expected, it was also priced cheaper at $6.25.  Cumin chicken was above average, except the seasoning was not distributed evenly.  We had to do some mixing of our own to avoid eating a super salty piece.  Peking palace definitely has better cumin chicken dish in comparison, good flavor and less salty.  The steamed taro pork was excellent, even though it took a good 20 minutes before it hit the table.  We were pretty much done with dinner by the time it came out, so I only had a few bites.  Nonetheless, it was delicious and the hubby loved it!

Sichuan Soft Tofu 四川豆花

Cumin Chicken 關公然雞片

Steamed Taro with Fatty Pork 南乳芋頭燉肉

When comparing the only two authentic Sichuan restaurants around the area (that I know of), I'd probably still pick Peking palace if judging by food only.  As far as overall dining experience, Sichuan Jin River is much cleaner and it also serves excellent delicious food.  A word of warning though, this restaurant apparently is VERY popular on Saturday nights.  We waited at least 30 minutes for takeout last Saturday because the restaurant was jammed packed with at least 45 min to an hour wait!  If you don't like waiting for a table, try the place on a weeknight.

FoodiePop's rating: 4.3/5

Sichuan Jin River
410 Hungerford Dr
Rockville, MD 20850

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pho Nom Nom, Rockville MD

We finally made it to Pho Nom Nom to try their food this past Saturday for lunch!  Pho Nom Nom (I know, funny name) replaced Bale Vietnamese Pho restaurant, situated across from Wintergreen plaza in Rockville.  The restaurant is small, but they did manage to put in more tables by moving the cashier back and they did a wonderful job renovating the place to make it feel more open and new.

The menu looks clean and elegant, has a lot of varieties including specialty noodles and rice.  We placed order for a grilled shrimp garden rolls for appetizer.  It was delivered rather quickly but just tasted okay.  The only difference was the shrimp was grilled instead of 'cocktailed', but there weren't enough shrimp for you to taste the difference anyway.  On the other hand, I do love all their white plates and bowls though, they make the food seem more sophisticated.

Pho Nom Nom Menu

grilled shrimp garden roll appetizer

Then we proceeded to order our noodles soups.  They have 3 sizes for pho, regular, large, and super large.  He was not hungry enough to venture to the super large size, so he merely ordered a large.  Now I wonder how big the super large will look like...  I order the regular sized special spicy beef with noodles.


large pho, usual #1 with everything

spicy beef noodle soup

The verdict is in, the pho was just okay.  It is probably comparable to pho 95 in terms of flavor or lack there-of.  But it definitely tasted more healthy than Pho Nam (less MSG?).  So if you're opting for a healthier version, this wouldn't be a bad choice.  Pho Nam still wins in the volume of toppings and meats as well though.  In addition, I think Saigon Deli in Germantown makes better and more flavorful spicy beef noodles (S4 on their menu) than Pho Nom Nom.  Again, maybe this is the 'healthy' light salt version, but I'd definitely pick Saigon Deli over Pho Nom Nom if spicy beef noodle soup is what I'm going for.

So overall, Pho Nom Nom wins in cleanliness, service, and overall elegance in decor.  But as far as the food goes, it's merely just mediocre....and it will end up to be a bit more pricey than Pho Nam for sure.

FoodiePop's rating: 3/5

Pho Nom Nom
842 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852