Monthly Archives: October 2008

Susan’s Travel Journal Day 6 – Brick Alley Pub and Restaurant

Susan says…

(Note:  I had to skip Day 5- I’ll post the review of Noah’s Fine Food in Stonington, CT soon…after I get the photos off Ron’s iPhone.)

West Virginians, we have so many thngs to be thankful for in the Mountain State…one of them is our liquor laws.  I used to complain about having to wait until 1:00 in Sunday to buy alcohol at Kroger since I was already there to get lunch meat, milk and several bundles of asparagus.  I won’t complain about that anymore (let’s keep it real: at least for a few weeks) now that I have experienced first-hand the oppressive liquor laws of New England.

In Connecticut and Rhode Island, you have to go to an actual “package” store.  Ron wonders why convenience stores even exist if you can’t buy beer there…obviously the only reason he ever crosses the threshold of such an establishment.  In Connecticut, you can’t buy alcohol at all on Sunday, except in a restaurant or bar. 

Noting on our first day that beer prices in Mystic were just as high as Virginia Beach ($4 – $4.50), Ron asked me to pick up some beer on Sunday while he was in his first class so he could enjoy an icy cold one when his session concluded.  I, like the dutiful fiancee I am only some of the time, drove about 10 miles into Rhode Island in search of the elixer.

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Clock ‘Em With a Calendar – Griffs

Griff’s – Riverwalk Plaza, South Charleston, WV

Dan says…

I have been to Griff’s a grand total of three times since I moved to WV in 1998.  All my experiences have been similar so at least they’re consistent.  The taco salad I got the first time was just ok and the service was slow.  During the second visit I only drank beer to celebrate the going away party for a former boss.  I had a pint of New Castle and it was slightly warm.  This last visit with the five was memorable to say the least.

After searching for a parking space in the far corner of the Riverwalk Plaza parking lot we seated ourselves on the deck to enjoy the last day of outdoor dining for the season.  Tip:  There is a parking lot behind Kroger and you can pull right up to Griff’s deck.  That will save you a few minutes and believe me you’ll need it.  After reviewing the menu our orders were taken in an acceptable time period.  We placed our food and drink orders at the same time to speed the process. At this point the lunch marathon started. Continue reading

You Don’t Always Get a Side of Good Service With Your Fettucini – Olive Garden

Note:  Susan’s daughters are guest reviewers on this post.  Hannah is 10 and Hope is 8.

Susan says…

Much to Daniel’s dismay, I not only patronize chain restaurants, I actually LIKE some of them.  (And now I am writing another review of a chain.  He might have a coronary.)  One of my favorite chain joints is the Olive Garden.   I don’t place it on the same plane as south hills market & café, Blossom Deli or Sitar of India, but it has its place in my culinary life and I am not ashamed to admit I like it every now and then.

I just plain think it tastes good.  I realize a chef isn’t making the sauces, dressings and desserts under the same roof as my table – but if it tastes yummy, sometimes I don’t really care that a lot of the food was made elsewhere and shipped to this location. 

That’s the beauty of a chain, right?  Consistency.  I can go to an Olive Garden in Arkansas and get the same delicious garlic chicken with broccoli that I enjoy in Barboursville, WV, right?  One of my other favorite chains, The Cheesecake Factory, was the best meal Ron & I had on a recent trip to Orlando, Florida.  Not every city has an awesome restaurant review blog like Fork You to help diners decide where to eat.  We were so downhearted about the poor food with the large price tags we were relieved to see a “familiar face” where we knew what to expect.

Even though the food usually tastes the same in all the locations, the service is another animal.  The little girls and I went to the Barboursville Olive Garden on Columbus Day to celebrate Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America by partaking of some Italian cuisine.  

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Susan’s Travel Journal, Day 4 – Rice Spice Noodles

Susan says…

Drunken Vegetable Soup

Given the rainy forecast for tomorrow, today I decide to wander around the streets of Mystic, shopping and snapping photographs. 

The outing begins at noon with a meal at Rice Spice Noodles, a contemporary Thai restaurant just outside the Main Street shopping area.

Sparse inside and out, it evokes a minimalist calmness.  The “screen” door is covered in a dark gray fabric which surprised my fingertips when I grasped it.  The open dining room is full of small black tables, each one adorned with a single brightly-colored gerbera daisy in a small vase.

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Susan’s Travel Journal, Day 3, Mystic, CT – Azu Restaurant

Susan says…

Walking up and down West Main Street in historic Mystic, Connecticut was making us even hungrier.  I haven’t yet made it to the grocery store for snacks and drinks to keep in our room, so we did not eat any sort of breakfast.

There are several restaurants in the historic section and my tourist map pointed out many of them and I announced them to Ron, as if I was a professional tour guide, as we drove around looking for public parking.  I also noted that I will have to come back to historic Mystic for some serious shopping while Ron is in his classes this week – there is an array of intriguing specialty shops. 

One of many storefronts in the historic buildings that lined the street, Azu Restaurant caught our eye.  It looked like it would be small, quaint, and charmingly old inside.  Looks can be deceiving. 

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Susan’s Travel Journal – Day 2

Susan says…

Today we are meeting friends that moved to the Philly suburbs from Charleston, WV.  The designated location is Chef Alan’s American Bistro in Reading.  I tried my best to talk everyone into Indian food, but no-go.  (I have already found an Indian place in Mystic, on-line, so even if I have to go alone…I will have nan this week!)

Chef Alan’s list two Reading locations on the website, but it looks suspiciously like a chain.  Ron is criticizing me as soon as we sit down at the large booth.  “Why did you bring me to a place with a palm tree when we are in New England?” he whined.  “I want to eat clam chowder.”  I explained to him that we were not yet in New England, we were in Pennsylvania and that several places were not open for lunch on Saturdays.  Oh yeah, and I asked him to shut up and eat.

Our friends were impresssed by the variety of the menu – salads, sandwiches (inlcuding an impressive array of burgers), pasta, and chicken.  They both ordered cobb salads.  Large cobb salads.

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Susan’s Travel Journal, Reading PA – The Ugly Oyster Drafthaus

Susan says…

Friday, October 24, 2008

View of Reading from our room at The Abraham Lincoln

On Day 1 of our Connecticut trip, we travel to Reading, Pennsylvania for an overnighter.  With friends only about a half hour away, Reading was a great midway point on our trek eastward to New England.

I did quite a bit of internet research, looking for a nice hotel and, of course, a couple great places to chow down.

An historic hotel in the heart of Reading, The Abraham Lincoln is a vintage high-rise full of charm and modern conveniences.  We are staying on the 16th floor in a well-appointed room with mini refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and free wifi- the internet connection being extremely important if you are internet-addicted like us.

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