I just want to start this post by thanking all my wonderful readers for still being here. I’m telling you life is something else. I am currently in Toronto (Canada) spending some time with my family here. Except for the accident I got into on my first full day here, it’s been great. The weather is lovely and the food is good. I’ll post a picture of my Gracie (after the accident) at the end of this post (I named my Jeep Grace, so Gracie is what I usually call her) (Please don’t laugh at my naming her(yes, it’s a her)). Anywhoos, this post is a review! I don’t know how many of you watch shows like Man Vs Food (Travel Channel) or Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (Food Network) but I loveeeee both of those shows. I’m always tuning in to see where’s worth eating at if I make it to particular places. On Thursday, I drove 11 hours from Northern VA to Toronto and Buffalo was one of the cities I had to pass through. When I thought of where I should eat once I stopped there to rest a while, Anchor Bar came to mind. I remember them from being on Guy Fieri’s show as being the place where Buffalo wings originated and since those things are practically an addiction for me, I HAD to visit the place.
The first time, I went to Jackson 20 in Alexandria, VA, in April this year, all I kept thinking was “Why did I take this long to come here?!” The service was great, the food was even greater and the drinks seemed to be the greatest I had had in a long time. This all sounds glorious right? Well, that first time it truly was. So much so that my husband fell in love with the place and begged me to leave our Memorial weekend getaway in Richmond, VA (earlier than we had planned) to head to Alexandria, VA just so he could take in some of Jackson’s 20 food and drinks. That second time was, what I’m convinced to be (and if I have my way, WILL BE), our last visit there.
Now, that I’m down in Georgia (for Thanksgiving), thoughts of one of my most recent visits come to mind. It was my PIC’s birthday and I wanted to take him somewhere really nice. I wanted to wow him in such a way that he would never forget that particular birthday. So you can only imagine the pressure of picking the right restaurant. I lived in New York at that time. New York, I know. Georgia, I visit occasionally but not enough to know what restaurant would go above and beyond my or my PIC’s expectations. Finally, I just left it up to chance but not before asking my PIC what dessert he felt like eating on his birthday. When he said cheesecake, I used Yelp to find restaurants in Atlanta and I searched every menu of the over 40 restaurants that came up to see which one had cheesecake (along with a decent entrée menu). In the end, I picked Davio’s for no other reason that how they worded their menu items. To this day, it is still one of the best decisions of my dining life!
I am not the biggest fan of restaurant chains like Olive Garden, Applebee’s, Red Lobster etc. In fact, I am not a fan at all. When I was in college many years ago, I learned that the food from several franchise restaurants were pre-made. It (the food) is mass produced, cooked and bagged far away so that each place gets the same poor quality as each other. In kitchen of each restaurant, they unwrap the food, heat it up and present it. So naturally when I discovered this I was hurt. *Do not laugh* I felt betrayed *I said no laughing*. No wonder, no matter where you went, as long as you’re having food from that particular restaurant, it always tasted the same. They thrive on being consistent. I was not having it. I like my food cooked fresh and preferably within the hour of me ordering it. And so began my boycott of places like these. Now, to be honest, if a friend invited me to one of these joints, I would go out of respect and consideration for their taste but I would never choose one of these joints as a first choice.
Anywhoos, recently it would seem as if I have gotten over myself (a little). I mean these places still would never be first choice but when in need of casual, economical dining, my PIC (Partner In Crime) and I sometimes head to one. So on Veteran’s Day, as many of these restaurants were offering goodies to former and active duty military personnel, I suggested that we take advantage. After trying Chili’s, which had an hour wait, we ended up at T.G.I Friday’s. The last time I was at any T.G.I Fridays was on summer break in 2004, so I was somewhat curious to see if much had change. Uh….not much. To be honest, I couldn’t remember what their menu was like 7 years ago so I cannot comment on if much has changed on that end but I’ll tell you this much: the burgers are still gross!
If it’s about FOOD, then Tia is there, whether I cook it or someone else’s does, I will partake. As much as I love cooking, I also revel in dining out so I always make time to try a new restaurant or new type of cuisine. Recently, I went out on a lunch date to a restaurant in Alexandria, VA called La Bergerie. We had made no reservations and when I called them at 2pm inquiring if they would take us, given that their establishment was scheduled to close at 230, they were very kind and encouraged me to come on in, and told me they will keep the kitchen open just for me. Yes, I did feel special because the kitchen was scheduled to close at 2pm. Slow day perhaps? Well, at least I wouldn’t have to compete with other guests for the staff’s attention.
Today, I woke up with thoughts of the past; the somewhat recent past. Like, where was I a year ago? No, not mentally or emotionally or even financially but simply physically. What did I spend my day doing? What did I spend my day eating? Well the answer is that one year ago today, I spent the better part of an afternoon in Gaby. “Where or What is Gaby?”, you ask. Well, Gaby is my favorite French restaurant in NYC.
I remember being invited here for lunch one Spring afternoon several years ago and totally falling in love with the chic and modern decor, the impeccable, hospitable service and mostly the delightfully delicious food. It was at Gaby that I had my first crème brûlée but I promise not to strike up the band on how much I love crème brûlée AGAIN. The truth about Gaby is…….wait for it……that it is a hotel restaurant. It is Sofitel’s onsite restaurant in Midtown, Manhattan. But if you’ve ever stayed at a Sofitel hotel and you’ve experience the luxury they offer, you’ll believe me when I say their principles and standards shine through when it comes down to even their food. Two words: TOP CLASS.