Restaurant Review: Lala’s Hungarian Pastry & Restaurant (Manchester, NH)

Restaurant: Lala’s Hungarian Pastry & Restaurant (Manchester, NH)

Type of Food: Hungarian meals and pastries

Location: 836 Elm St; Manchester, NH 03101

Phone: ‎(603)-647-7100

Website: http://www.lalashungarianpastryandrestaurant.com/

Date Visited: Sept. 29, 2010

Food: Lala’s Hungarian Restaurant serves excellent Hungarian meals along with a large variety of unusual and delicious pastries. I ordered the viennese schnitzel, which was served with rice pilaf, carrots, peas, potatoes, and waxed beans. The pork was very good, and the vegetables were particularly well-seasoned. My husband ordered the zucchini and meatballs, an unusual dish including shredded zucchini in cream sauce (think along the lines of creamed spinach) and very flavorful meatballs, served with carrots, potatoes, and beets. Everything was tasty, and portion sizes were generous.

As far as desserts go, we tried two unusual pastries, along with the homemade ice cream. The poppy roll consisted of pastry rolled around a filling chock full of poppy seeds. The dobos torte was a layered cake made of 8 layers of almond-flavored sponge cake, filled with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramelized sugar. The crunchy caramel top was surprising but a neat addition. Perhaps best of all, Lala’s makes their own ice cream, and the chocolate was especially tasty. My toddler requested it, so we ordered some for him, but my husband and I kept sneaking bites from him because it was so rich and tasty.

Atmosphere: When you walk in, the first thing to catch your eye are the two pastry cases loaded with lots of beautiful pastries. Lala’s may appear to be just a small pastry shop on first glance, but this local restaurant also serves a full menu of authentic Hungarian cuisine. When you step off into the restaurant area to the right of the pastry cases, you’ll notice the walls are decorated with embroidered Hungarian clothing and other hand-crafted items. When we sat down to eat, the music changed from eighties music to Hungarian folk music. The waitstaff were very friendly, and their service was excellent.

Kid Friendliness: The staff at Lala’s welcomed our little ones. They even had a bead maze toy for our older son to play with. Our toddler liked the flavorful, yet straightforward food. He especially liked the homemade chocolate ice cream for dessert.

Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 5:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Treat Review: Just Like Mom’s Pastries (Weare, NH)

Restaurant: Just Like Mom’s Pastries (Weare, NH)

Type of Treat: Pastries & breads (specializing in Whoopie Pies!)

Location: 353 Riverdale Rd; Weare, NH 03281

Website: http://justlikemomspastries.com/

Phone: 603-529-6667

Date Visited: Sept. 28, 2010

Food: The Whoopie pies are the best treat we tried at this local bakery. The original — a chocolate, cake-like cookie filled with a light, airy cream — was to die for. Apparently Yankee magazine named Just Like Mom’s Whoopie pies the best in New England. There are other varieties of Whoopies available at different times. We tried the almond Whoopie (almond cake/cookie with vanilla cream) and the lemon-coconut raspberry Whoopie (lemon-coconut cake/cookie with raspberry buttercream). Both were very tasty, but not as memorable as the original chocolate-vanilla combination.

Other tasty treats that we tried at Just like Mom’s include the cinnamon rolls (with a cream cheese icing on top… mmmm!), the chocolate croissants (very tasty, creamy chocolate filling), and the cinnamon-almond sticks (crunchy and very almond-y).

Just like Mom’s serves Green Mountain coffee, which my husband said was pretty good. Their hot tea selection is just the run-of-the-mill teabag variety; there were no whole-leaf varieties that I saw.

Atmosphere: The seating area in Just like Mom’s is very pleasant — lots of windows to enjoy the sunlight with clean natural wood tables. There seemed to be some locals stopping in the bakery periodically and a few hanging out there. You could feel the small town camaraderie.

Kid Friendliness: Kids and baked goods are fast friends, so Just like Mom’s is a good place to bring the little ones. My two-year-old son picked out some sugar cookies shaped like fall leaves that were decorated with fall-colored sprinkles. He liked the looks of them, but not the taste. He was a bigger fan of the cinnamon rolls, though. The old decorative wagon out front was fun for him too.

Published in: on October 15, 2010 at 1:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

Restaurant Review: Lone Star Barbeque (Santee, SC)

Restaurant: Lone Star Barbeque (Santee, SC)

Type of Food: Southern comfort food, including some Lowland specialties (fried chicken & barbeque, seasoned vegetables, casseroles, and homemade desserts)

Location: 2212 State Park Road; Santee, SC 29142 (Get off of I-95 at exit 98 and head west on S Carolina 6 W toward Santee. After about 1.4 miles, take a right on State Park Rd. (There’ll be a sign for the state park just before you turn.) The restaurant will be on your left shortly after you turn.)

Phone: ‎(803) 854-2000

Website: http://www.lonestarbbq.net/

Date Visited: September 3, 2010

Food: The Lone Star serves up a tasty buffet of Southern comfort foods every night. Some of the dishes are Lowland specialties, like the barbeque hash with rice and the catfish stew. The sides and vegetables are all well-seasoned and hard to turn down. One stand-out dish is the tomato pie. It’s creamy, cheesy, and delicious.

Entree dishes include fried chicken, pork barbecue, and bbq hash with rice. Side dishes include seasonal vegetables, macaroni (not the standard box variety… this is a homemade casserole with different types of cheeses), and, if you’re lucky, tomato pie. There is a small salad bar with cole slaw, apple salad, and tossed salad ingredients. For dessert, there’s usually a cobbler (made with a seasonal fruit) and homemade banana pudding.

Atmosphere: Lone Star BBQ is housed in four vintage buildings that served as general stores and farm commissaries from the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. They were purchased and moved to the present site, where they sit side by side, connected by walkways between the buildings. You enter at the old mercantile to the far left, which still sells a few gifts, glass bottle soft drinks, and candy. The main attraction lies at the back of this building where the modest food buffet lies.

The buffet set-up may look unassuming, but the talents of the in-house chef (a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America) shine through in each dish. You pay at the cash register, get in line for the buffet, and then walk through the walkway to the next building where you find a seat. Waitresses take your drink order as you go and deliver them to your table. You eat at large oil cloth covered tables, surrounded by shelves of antique everyday goods that the mercantile used to sell — everything from ancient bottles of Listerine to vintage boxes of Zero candy bars (just the boxes, not the candy bars).

If you spend some time walking around the two buildings where guests sit and eat, you’ll not only see household goods on old shelving, but also old-timey cash registers, local artifacts, and the preserved post office counter.

Out back, there’s an old smokehouse, a whiskey still, and an outhouse.

Lone Star often hosts local blue grass artists out front if the weather is nice or inside if it’s not. Check their website for events.

Kid Friendliness: Lone Star BBQ is a great place to take the kids. The fried chicken, homemade macaroni, and uncommonly good banana pudding fit the kid palate well. Checking out the old buildings and all of the interesting collectibles is a good way to entertain a restless kid while the rest of the party is finishing dinner. The bluegrass music gives kids an opportunity to dance and get some energy out.

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Treat Review: Britt’s Donuts (Carolina Beach, NC)

Restaurant: Britt’s Donuts (Carolina Beach, NC)

Type of Treat: Hot glazed donuts

Location: Carolina Beach boardwalk; 315 Cape Fear Blvd; Carolina Beach, NC 28428

Phone: (910) 458-5783‎ (Call before you go. Britt’s is open from 8:30 am to 10:30 pm 7 days a week during the summertime. In the off season, Britt’s is only open on the weekends — Fri, 4:30 pm -10:30 pm, Sat & Sun 8:30 am – 10:30 pm.)

Date Visited: Many times! (most recently July 17, 2010)

I’ve been visiting Britt’s donuts on summertime beach trips since I was a kid. I’m now bringing my own kids to this little boardwalk donut bakery, and I’m still fascinated as I watch the donut-making process. I still fall into sugar-induced forgetfulness when it comes to how many of these tasty treats I’ve consumed.

Food: Britt’s is a little boardwalk eatery with a simple menu: donuts (glazed, served hot), milk, water, or coffee. That’s it. They’re good at making donuts and they feel no need to branch out. When you grab a stool at their simple “donut bar” and reach into that white paper bag of piping hot treats, you’ll know why this place has been around so long.

Donuts are made from scratch. You can watch the process while you eat — dough is rolled out, donuts are cut, placed in a large pot of grease, and then attached to wooden hooks on the wall. Then glaze is poured over them and they are placed on a tray. They go straight from the tray to the white paper bag where they’re served to you.

Compared to the “Hot Now” donuts at Krispy Kreme, Britt’s donuts are slightly less sweet and slightly crispier around the edges. Yum — it’s a great combination. This is not the place to go if you’re on a diet. It’s hard to stop eating these melt-in-your-mouth treats!

Atmosphere: Britt’s has looked the same since I was a kid — a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant along the main alleyway of the Carolina Beach “boardwalk area.” A long bar lined with cushioned stools faces the kitchen area, which is mostly open so customers can see the donuts being made. An ancient cash register completes the gone-back-in-time feel of the place.

Kid Friendliness: Most kids have never met a donut they didn’t like, so Britt’s is a hit food-wise with the little ones. Kids (and the kid inside of the rest of us) also like to watch the donuts being made. The whole Carolina Beach boardwalk atmosphere attracts kids with its carnival rides, arcade, and bumper cars. Britt’s is just the icing on the donut!

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 9:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

Restaurant Review: Meadow Village Restaurant (Meadow, NC)

Restaurant: Meadow Village Restaurant (Meadow, NC)

Type of Food: Southern comfort food (fried chicken & seafood, seasoned vegetables, and homemade desserts)

Location: 7400 N.C. Hwy 50 S; Meadow, NC 27504 (I-40 exit 334) Take NC 96 S for 1 mi., then turn left onto NC 50. The restaurant will be on your right just after you turn.

Phone: (919) 894-5430‎

Date Visited: Many times! (most recently July 15, 2010)

The Meadow Village Restaurant is the main attraction in a little crossroads town called Meadow, NC just off I-40 close to Benson, NC. Locals call the town Meh-duh. The Meadow Village Restaurant seems to be popular with both locals and passers-by (those who have heard about it anyway). It’s not visible from the interstate and doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the country comfort food is great, and the waitresses (the kind that call you “Honey”) are friendly.

Food: Food is served buffet-style, with freshly fried chicken and seafood, a variety of other meats and main dishes like country-style steak and spaghetti, and well-seasoned vegetables. We’ve seen collard greens or mustard greens, black-eyed peas, greens beans, cabbage, fried apples, and corn. There’s a basic salad bar, plus some prepared items like carrot-and-raisin salad.

Meadow is only 90 minutes from the coast of North Carolina, and seafood lovers enjoy the fresh fried seafood. You’ll find Calabash-style fried fish, popcorn shrimp, peeled boiled shrimp, stuffed crab, and sometimes fried oysters.

But the real reason for going to Meadow is the dessert buffet. A hodge-podge of homemade cakes, pies, and puddings awaits you, along with 6-8 flavors of scoop-your-own ice cream. I always joke that someone’s grandma must work in the back, baking all day, because all of the pies and cakes are so tasty. The chocolate pie with a mile-high meringue is one of the best, especially if you can catch it when they bring one out still hot from the oven. The coconut and strawberry cakes are great too.

Atmosphere: The ambience is very simple and a bit dated, but the food more than makes up for it. They also decorate for each season. On our most recent visit, wreaths and garlands covered with flowers and butterflies festooned the walls. The place has an old-fashioned, homey feel, from the pitchers of water and tea on the tables to the sink for washing your hands right in the middle of the waiting room.

Kid Friendliness: The Meadow Village Restaurant is a great place to bring children. It’s not super quiet, so kids can make noise and not be a bother. Kids also like the desserts, especially the scoop your own ice cream with rainbow sprinkles and gummy bears to top it off. Individually packaged animal crackers at the ice cream bar area are another hit with kids.

Published in: on July 17, 2010 at 9:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Treat Review: Blenheim’s Ginger Ale (Hamer, SC)

Treat: Blenheim’s spicy ginger ale

Location: Interstate 95, Hamer, SC. You can buy Blenheim’s at Pedro’s Pantry, a convenience store at South of the Border, the tourist trap just south of the NC/SC border on I-95.

Website: http://www.blenheimgingerale.com/

Review: Blenheim’s ginger ale is spicy! Your first sip is almost guaranteed to be met with a cough. This local soft drink is available in Regular (gold cap), Extra Spicy (pink cap), and Diet (white cap). Pay attention to those caps because otherwise they look identical. You can pick up a six pack (mix and match flavors if you choose) at the Pedro’s Pantry convenience store at South of the Border in Hamer, SC.

I’m not a big fan of spicy things, but I love ginger. Blenheim’s will not disappoint if you’re looking for natural spicy ginger flavor. The regular (gold cap) variety is right at the threshold of what I can comfortably drink. My husband and mother-in-law like the extra spicy ones, but usually opt for the diet for the sake of calories. Diet Blenheim’s are sweetened with Splenda.

Kid Friendliness: Because of its spiciness, Blenheim’s is probably not going to be a hit with little ones. Teenagers may appreciate it more.

Published in: on April 7, 2010 at 2:36 pm  Comments (2)  

Restaurant Review: Red Bone Alley (Florence, SC)

Restaurant: Red Bone Alley (Florence, SC)

Type of Food: General American dishes with some Low Country Southern specialties

Location: 1903 W. Palmetto St.; Florence, SC 29501 (I-95 exit 157) This restaurant is about 5-10 min off the interstate in a strip mall near a Piggly Wiggly grocery store. It’s worth the drive!

Website: http://www.redbonealley.com/

Phone: 843-673-0035

Date Visited: March 30, 2010

Food: My husband and I tried similar dishes at Red Bone Alley on our first visit. He got the shrimp and grits, which came with a house salad, and I had a house salad with a side of cheese grits. The salad was very fresh, and we would both recommend the hot bacon dressing. According to our waitress, all of their dressings are homemade. The cheese grits were very rich and creamy — definitely not low fat, but a comfort food treat. The shrimp was tasty, but spicy according to my husband.

Atmosphere: The ambience at Red Bone Alley can be a bit overwhelming at first. When you walk in the door, it’s like walking into a street in Charleston. The hostess station is right by a lamp post, and beyond it, you see the facades of colorful “Rainbow Row” type buildings.

There are different seating sections in the restaurant. Some look like outdoor cafes. There’s also a “fenced in” family section with lots of fun stuff for kids. The upstairs includes a game room with some vintage token games and a pool table.

The other side of the place being a bit overwhelming is that it’s also fascinating. You’ll spend a good bit of your first visit looking around and noticing all the interesting decor, like the starlit sky above the family area.

Kid Friendliness: One neat perk for kids at Red Bone Alley is the ice cream truck conveniently parked in the family area of the restaurant. Kids can visit the ice cream truck, play around, pretend to drive it, and then pick out a popsicle or ice cream bar from the little freezer inside. Our son thought this was great!

Another neat plus of the family section of the restaurant is a fenced in toy area with lots of toys and a little car kids can sit in. The game room upstairs is probably a hit with older kids.

Published in: on April 2, 2010 at 9:26 pm  Comments (2)