Begin with chocolate and end with chocolate at the Hershey Grill

Connected to the Hershey Lodge is a high-quality, casual restaurant called the Hershey Grill. On a Sunday with many restaurants closed in the area, I thought that we would have to wait for a table, but we were seated right away. Fortunately, we were able to sit outside and fit our stroller with us at the table. The interior of the restaurant is a little fancier than the outside, but both areas are still casual and offer a children’s menu.

We started our meal with exceptional beverages. I had the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Martini and TK had Brewery at Hershey Chocolate Stout. He loved his beer because he loves stouts, but I didn’t dig it. However, I loved my martini. It was dusted with chocolate and peanut butter crumbs, and it was creamy and sweet. You could definitely taste the chocolate and the peanut butter. At the end of the drink, there was a melted Hershey Kiss in the glass, and you bet your bottom that I ate it! I thought the drink might be better as a dessert, but it was great with my meal.

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Martini

Before our appetizer came out, we received a bread basket. The pleasant surprise was that one of the butter tabs was actually chocolate butter. I could taste a little sweetness in the butter and a hint of chocolate, but it was enjoyable.

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Butter, Butter and Chocolate Butter

Then, our appetizer came and it was the Flash Fried Calamari. The calamari was crunchy and flavorful, but when I bit down on one of the other fried objects, I was surprised when I tasted the sourness of a lemon. It was a very interesting additive to the dish that I had never tried or seen before. The other fried option in the dish were the banana peppers, and I love those. Banana peppers are always tangy and delicious, but now I know what they taste like fried and they are still tangy, and tasty. The calamari also came with a Zesty Gazpacho Vinaigrette, and it was OK, but I didn’t care too much for it because I like marinara with calamari.

Flash Fried Calamari

Flash Fried Calamari

When our meals came, Jackson had Macaroni and Cheese, TK had the Texas Meatloaf and I had the Grilled Olive Brined Bone-In Pork Chop. TK doesn’t usually order meatloaf anywhere, so when I told him that people love it, he decided to give it a try and he was pleased. The pork chop that I ate was the best pork chop I had ever eaten. It was very juicy and seasoned perfectly. I loved it and I never order pork in a restaurant for fear that it will arrive very dry, as many do. The side dishes for the pork chop included a Fontina Macaroni and Cheese Cake and a Crispy Pancetta, Green Olive, Baby Arugula and Piquillo Pepper Salad. The salad was very crisp and fresh with a pungent bite from the arugula. The macaroni and cheese cake was amazing, so of course, I had to share a bite of it with TK so he could share in the culinary delight that was on my plate. Instead of the breadcrumb topping that you might be used to, there was a crunchy crust on the cake, and then the inside was warm and soft like the mac and cheese you know and love. I would take it as a side dish for every meal, if I could.

Even though we didn’t really have room, we were in the land of chocolate, so we had to order dessert. I had the Cookie Sundae and TK had the Peanut Butter Cup. I tried them both and enjoyed them both, but I couldn’t get too deep into them because I was full. The Peanut Butter Cup was better than the Cookie Sundae, but they both had their fair share of chocolate. If I could fix two things with the Cookie Sundae, I would swap out the chocolate sauce for hot fudge and serve the chocolate chip cookie warm instead of cold.

We were so pleased that we were able to eat at the Hershey Grill and hope to return to try their other seasonal menus at different points of the year. Oh, and eat more chocolate.

Hershey Grill, 325 University Drive, Hershey, PA, 717-534-8601

An Italian Feast at Via Napoli

Like I said in my last post, my family is in Walt Disney World enjoying meals at a few places on-site. The decided to try Via Napoli and said it was delicious. Via Napoli is in Italy in the World Showcase at Epcot. I’ve never eaten there, so of course, I am now jealous. Just look at these photos and tell me that you aren’t jealous too …

Via Napoli, 1510 Avenue of the Stars, Orlando, FL, 407-939-3463

Top Restaurant at the Top of the Contemporary: California Grill

We travel to Walt Disney World every other year and love it every time. This year, I wasn’t able to go (since I went in November 2013), but some of my family did and they had an enjoyable meal at the California Grill in the Contemporary Resort.

The California Grill is one of the best places to get sushi in Walt Disney World and it is a great place to watch the Wishes fireworks show, other than Main Street in Magic Kingdom, of course. The restaurant pipes the music from Wishes through every night so that you can watch and listen to the show from your table. They also have an extensive wine and cocktail list.

So, without further ado, here’s some food from the California Grill …

Now, my family will know that I am not fibbing when I tell them that the California Grill is delicious. They know for themselves, and so should you.

California Grill, 4600 North World Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 407-939-3463

The food was smokin’ at Smoked Bar and Grill

While in Hershey, we wanted to eat at a restaurant that was not a franchise and served unique menu items. We found it at Smoked Bar and Grill in Hummelstown, Penn. The restaurant is just about a year old and so is its website, which attracted me to it in the first place.

When we first walked in, it was late afternoon, so the restaurant wasn’t empty, but there was no wait. The hostess led us to a corner table so we could keep our son in his stroller while he napped, and we were very grateful. We ordered our beverages first and I got a lemonade and TK got an iced tea. He was annoyed that he didn’t order a root beer and I was annoyed that I didn’t order a limeade. We didn’t know that there would be more options than the norm, but there were. We even saw a chalkboard with all of the craft beers on tap and several of them were beers that we had never heard of. For beer snobs like us, that is the sign of a good beer menu.

We started with wings; six Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Wings and six Orange Siracha Wings. The wings were huge with lots of meat and covered in sauce, just the way I like them. The Orange Siracha Wings were tasty and the spice was delightfully subtle. The BBQ Wings were sweet and zesty. We didn’t leave one wing uneaten.

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BBQ Wings

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Orange Siracha Wings

For our entrees, I ordered a Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries and TK ordered a Patty Melt Burger with Dirty© Mesquite BBQ Chips­. My Pulled Pork Sandwich came with cole slaw on it and I added one of the BBQ sauces from the six that were already on the table. I chose the Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce because it is my favorite. The sandwich bountiful and was a nice combination of cold and hot, tangy and sweet, and crunchy and soft.

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Smoked Pulled Pork Sandwich and Sweet Potato Fries

TK loved his Patty Melt Burger. I took a bite of it and it was juicy, and the Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce added a delicious flavor to the burger. The mustard really came through.

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Patty Melt Burger and Chips

When we finished our delicious meal, we ordered Macaroni and Cheese for our sleeping child and got the check. After appetizers, sandwiches and a few beverages, the total was $38.79 before tip. This was the smallest bill we’ve seen in a long time and we were pleasantly surprised. Angela, our waitress, told us that everyone who visits enjoys their meal and she does not get many complaints. We totally believe her, so we thanked her and told her how much we loved the place, and we swore we would be back in the next year or so. And, I still need to try that limeade.

 

Smoked Bar and Grill, 1201 West Chocolate Avenue (Route 422), Hummelstown, PA, 717-298-7900

Modern Snack Bar is great for pie

While taking a leisurely drive out east on Long Island, we wanted to stop for lunch and remembered that the Modern Snack Bar had delicious pies, so we thought we would try the food. Modern Snack Bar is in Aquebogue, New York on Main Road. It is an old-timey diner with padded, rotating bar stools and Mashed Turnips on the menu.

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Modern Snack Bar

The Modern Snack Bar serves local Long Island wine and egg creams. I began my meal with a Boylan Diet Cherry Soda, but unfortunately, it was a little flat, so it lacked the crispness of a flavored soda. I’ve had Boylan Soda before and they are always so refreshing, so I was surprised that I didn’t love it. Maybe because it was diet? Hmmm …

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Boylan Diet Black Cherry Soda

We started with a couple bowls of soup. I had a Lobster Bisque and it tasted like something I’ve had before. It was creamy, but there were no spices or flavors that really stuck out. It was not anything special and I have really loved bowls of chowder or bisque.

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Seafood Bisque

After I finished my soup, I got the Deep Fried Fresh Flounder Sandwich and Fries. The sandwich came out with fresh lettuce and tomato, and a side of tartar sauce. The flounder was fresh and flaky, and the breading was crunchy. I thought the flounder lacked taste because the breading wasn’t seasoned all that well, but it was definitely fresh. The fries were typical diner fries and of course, they were transporting dollops of ketchup directly into my mouth.

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Deep Fried Fresh Flounder Sandwich

When we finished our not-so-w0nderful lunch, we made sure to visit the counter and bring home a pie. I chose the Chocolate Cream Pie for $16.95. I thought that was a little pricey, but when I finally got around to eating a slice at home, it was delicious. It had a flaky crust, sweet chocolate pudding and fluffy whipped cream. The whipped cream was my favorite part. There was a good inch of whipped cream on top of the pie, almost like a pie you’d want to throw at someone’s face, but definitely wouldn’t because it was too delicious and expensive.

Mostly, we were underwhelmed with the food from the Modern Snack Bar, but the pie really made us forget all about what we had for lunch.

Modern Snack Bar, 628 Main Road, Aquebogue, NY, 631-722-3655

A summertime favorite now for every season: Flo’s Luncheonette

Every Memorial Day, I would get really excited that Flo’s was about to open at Corey Beach in Blue Point, New York. However, Flo’s has expanded and there is another location that will be open all year in Patchogue. We have visited several times already and it is only the beginning of August. The staff is really friendly and have even played with my son from time to time, and Connor, the owner is very cool. In the Patchogue location, there are indoor and outdoor tables and an indoor bar that serves beer, wine and cider. I’ve taken TK, Jax, my parents, my colleagues and my friend Catherine and her son Joey to Flo’s to enjoy the fresh and extensive menu.

Each time I visit, I try to order something new. At this point, I’ve eaten the Baked Clams, Fried Calamari, the Big EZ Wrap, Fried Beer-Battered Shrimp, Fried Clams, Sweet Potato Fries, Regular Fries and Onion Rings. My father loved the Fish & Chips and the Clams on the Half Shell. My mother gets the Coconut Shrimp every time and Catherine enjoyed the Lobster Roll. I just don’t see how you can go wrong, especially washed down with a refreshing Summer Blend.

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Out of all of the delicious meals that I’ve eaten, I’ve liked the Big EZ Wrap and the Fried Calamari best. I’ve reviewed the Big EZ Wrap before in my post: Summertime Hangout. The Fried Calamari is so good because the squid is soft and not chewy, and the breading is crunchy and flavorful. With the marinara sauce, it is a great appetizer or meal. A side of their thick Onion Rings with zesty horseradish dipping sauce is also a great accompaniment to any sandwich, wrap or seafood option.

Now you can get Flo’s in two locations and even find them at local festivals with their Flo’s to Go food truck. The only negative to the Flo’s to Go truck is that they don’t serve their full menu, including the Summer Blend, which maybe you can tell is quite important to me, but everything is still delicious nonetheless.

Flo’s Luncheonette, 225 West Main Street, Patchogue, NY, 888-FLOS-TOGO.

 

A Sweet Treat: Stroopwafel

Recently, I took a walk around Sayville, New York and stopped into Sweet Gourmet. They sell all kinds of gourmet treats from candy to salsa, and they have a showcase of chocolates and treats. I saw the Stroopwafel next to the register, so I decided to buy it and try it.

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Stroopwafel Package, $1.69

 

The Stroopwafel is made of two thin Dutch waffles with caramel sandwiched between them. Two came in the package, so I shared it with friends. It was chewy and sweet, like a combination between a graham cracker and a Samoa Girl Scout cookie. I would purchase them again, even if for the sole purpose of creating an open face s’more with Nutella and marshmallows. Now, there’s a thought.

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Bitten Stroopwafel

Sweet Gourmet, 69 Main Street, Sayville, NY, 631-244-0993