David B.

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Recent reviews by David B. - Page 1 of 2
Restaurant Name City
Rating
House of Emperor Ashburn, VA
I'd take the earlier comment further -- all the way to bland. It's very Americanized versions of mostly southeast Chinese dishes. Very light on spices, boring presentation, and often soggy or limp vegetables. "Szechwan" dishes were flat and tasteless -- limp carrots lightly disguised in way too much oyster sauce. <br> Disappointing.
The Melting Pot Reston, VA
It's expensive, but a lot of fun. <br> Basic experience is a heated surface is built into all the tables, and guests are served various bread and dippable veggies/meats that can be cooked by dipping into melted cheese or differing types of sauces. <br> Quality of the food is excellent, and the wait staff seems well trained and responsive. Dinner is a *production* of orchestrated courses, and the taste and smell of the end product is well worth the trip. <br> The down side is that there's only one heated surface per table, so if you have special diet requirements (kosher, vegan), EVERYONE has to agree to the lowest common denominator (ie, only one type of main course fondue can be selected for the whole table). The wait staff are good at making this clear, and are also very good about providing extra veggies and goodies for non-meat eaters. <br> Dessert fondue is fabulous... diabetics will go into shock just sitting in the booth next to it, though. Death by chocolate a dozen times over. <br> Last comment: official policy aside, reservations are pretty much *required* if you want a seat, and definitely required if you need space for more than two people.
Silver Diner Reston, VA
Average food quality really makes this a iffy pick. It's good for families with small children (you can get the mac'n cheese or hot dogs they crave), but everything is bland and somewhat greasy. <br> There's usually a 15-20 minute wait at busy times, and there've been several cases where a wait person has gone off shift and pretty much left us sitting there for someone to pick up. Refills on drinks are slow in coming, and tend to be watery. <br> Not recommended unless you're desperate for some comfort food.
On the Border Mexican Cafe Reston, VA
Predictable and bland. Best picks tend to be the combo plates (select your own gets you the best choices), and the make-your-own burrito card gives some options. <br> Salsa tends to be heavy on cilantro, so those who are sensitive to cilantro should go easy on it. <br> Tends to be noisy on Thursday and Friday nights.
Chicken Out Rotisserie Reston, VA
Good solid food, if a bit over-priced for what you get. <br> Chicken is pretty much the order of the day (surprise), but the ham is also very good. The different kinds of chicken salad are interesting (my fave is still the basic chicken salad, but the mediterranean salad is intriguing, as is the Mandarin oriental version). <br> Side orders are made on-site, and are generally better-than-average, particularly the mac and cheese (real cheese, no Velveeta), and the vegetables. <br> Portions tend to be a little small for the price, though. $8 for 3 slices of turkey and two small mounds of corn and squash is a bit steep.
Banjara Ashburn, VA
There's a real break between lunch and dinner at Banjara. <br> The lunch buffet is a real bargain ($8 for all you can eat is a great deal), and the food quality is excellent -- usually two curries, several vegetable dishes, and fresh fruit for dessert makes a great lunch place. It's very popular with the tech crowd from MCI and others in the area, so lunchtime tends to be very busy. Excellent naan -- go early for hot bread and leftovers from catering orders. <br> Dinner is a lot different. It's ala carte, and (IMHO) pricy for what you get. Food quality is still exceptional, but as another reviewer mentioned, the portioning tends to nickel-and-dime for rice and pappadums. <br> We were *really* glad when it opened -- Ashburn is surprisingly "white-bread" given the distribution of ethnic groups -- and it's been a very reliable lunch place. Recommended for lunch; dinner -- well, it's the only Indian restaurant in Ashburn, so you don't have much choice.
Logan's Roadhouse Restaurant Sterling, VA
The best thing about Logan's is the free peanuts. <br> Meat is consistently over or undercooked, and often charcoaled if you order medium-well. Vegetables are often raw or undercooked. <br> Service is poor and slow. Refills on drinks can take 30 min and several requests. <br> Not recommended.
The Big Mango Sterling, VA
Stumbled across Big Mango on the way to the landromat, and was happily surprised. <br> Exceptionally good tasting food -- very good balance of spices and ingredients, and the ambiance of the restaurant is excellent: quiet flute music, great art. Perfect place to take a first date that you actually want to talk to. <br> Service is attentive w/o being obnoxious, but does have a small language barrier, so patiently pointing to what you want will win every time (some French or Vietnamese will help if you know it). <br> Biggest downside: portions are sized for small Thai people. It's beautiful presentation, but a little more volume would be a welcome addition.
Casa De Oro Moscow, ID
Pretty good food, with good service and reliable spices. The enchiladas are above average, with a nice chili sauce that goes well with beers. They have a good selection of dishes, and will make kid-size portions of different things to give the kids a chance to try without having to do a whole entree.
Upsides are the diversity of food and good fresh beef dishes (they get meat from a local butcher). Downsides are usually crowded parking -- downtown Moscow really doesn't have much parking available, and it gets quite busy during the day.
King Gyros Mishawaka, IN
Probably the best of the King Gyros chain in Mishawaka/South Bend. Very large portions, and they aren't afraid of olives, garlic, or feta cheese. The Greek salad is exceptionally good, as are the BBQ ribs and gyros. The baklava is also very good.
My least favorite thing is their fries. For some reason, they always have a slightly fishy taste, but you can ask for Greek salad instead and they're pretty cooperative.
Hanayori of Japan Mishawaka, IN
It's the only Japanese restaurant in town, so you pretty much have to take it as it comes or die of terminal boredom covered in egg noodles and beef tips. The menu is pretty standard teppanyaki fare, shrimp, chicken, and beef with assorted veggies thrown in. Their chefs attempt to do a routine with the knives and some comedy that you see at other teppanyaki places like Benihana, but don't have the polish or practice that the more upscale restaurants have, so it's usually more comical than impressive.
The food is reasonably well cooked, although the seafood is average, and obviously thawed from a frozen state in most cases. This is forgivable for most things, but not sushi, which is flat and tasteless. Chicken and beef dishes have good garlic/ginger/soy marinades, and are tender, but sprouts and veggies can be a bit gritty if you go early in the evening.
All in all, at least it's interesting to eat here. It's not spectacular, but hey, it's Indiana, what did you expect?
Mandarin House Chinese Rstrnt South Bend, IN
Good lunch specials, and if you insist, they will use garlic and hot peppers to jazz the meals up. Their egg rolls are well-made, lots of chicken and veggies, but tend to be a bit bland.
Thursday nights appear to have a different chef, who tends to believe a bit more in spices and peppers. Ordering the same dish on Thursday will get you a substantially hotter version, which is correspondingly more tasty.
Avoid the seafood here -- it's just too far to the ocean for it to be really good. It can get very crowded at lunchtime due to the ND crowd, and sound damping is very poor here, so it's not a good business restaurant at lunch (dinner is fine).
Cougar Country Drive-In Pullman, WA
Pullman may be the middle of nowhere, but I doubt I've ever had a better hamburger than at Cougar Country. The burgers are big -- 1/4th pound is a "small", and they're handmade. No plastic burgers here -- real beef, real cheese, real buns. Grease and salt -- tasty.
Fries are as good as it gets -- real lard, onion rings, etc. The only real down side is that the place is often very crowded, particularly on weekends. Lots of families, good place to go when you need comfort food.
Old European Waffles Cakes Pullman, WA
It's the only pancake house in Pullman, but it's worth it. Breakfast is the meal of choice here, particularly the goulash and the various types of pancakes (buckwheat, the usual Bisquick kind, etc, etc, etc). Lots of various kinds of fruit toppings, and decadent sweet rolls on weekends.
The goulash is fun by itself -- it's kind of a stiffer omlette with loads of ham, onions, bell peppers, and whatever else looks good at the time the cook makes it.
Warning: be hungry when you go here. Portions are *huge*. You also want to allow plenty of time, particularly on weekends, as there tend to be long lines, and there's a relatively small staff.
Rancho Viejo Pullman, WA
It's right in the middle of town -- you can't miss it on the way to WSU. Mexican food's a bit rare in this part of the world, so you kind of have to take what you can get.
Rancho Viejo has decent renditions of all the Mexican standards; burritos, enchiladas, etc. The food seems fresh, and well-made, if a bit bland. It's a mixture of Mexican Mexican, New Mexico Mexican, and an occasional Tex-Mex blend for flavoring.
Downsides: Like everything else in Pullman, it's built on a hill. It's a bit awkward for handicapped access, and can be quite loud on weekends, as there is a lot of tile and nothing to damp sound. I also have problems with the amount of cayenne pepper in the hot sauce -- it's a bit rough on the system, and would be just as tasty by using an alternative spice or more cilantro.
Hilltop Restaurant Pullman, WA
Food is pretty average to greasy. The all-you-can-eat taco night has a lot to say for it when you're a broke student type, but other than atmosphere, it's not got a lot to recommend it.
Overpriced alcohol ($8 for a beer?) is a real drawback.
Princetonian Diner Princeton, NJ
The Princtonian is another classic NJ diner that's popular with students and other late-night types. The Princeton police dept commonly does their paperwork over coffee here.
The best dishes here are the typical diner fare; grilled cheese, fries, lots of heavy substantial food. As far as I've seen, their salad and ligher offerings are pretty much limited to salad and... well, salad.
Good stuff: Reuben sandwich -- excellent sauerkraut, fresh crunchy pickles, Friday fish dish of the day.
Not so good stuff: desserts (tend to be small and somewhat soggy). Recent changes in hours have reduced the amount of late night traffic -- it's not 24 hours any more, so you're probably better off going down the road a bit.
On the whole, it's good. Reliable, but not outrageously so.
Bubba's Place Eugene, OR
Sometimes you just have to have a good burger -- not the low-fat, low-cal veggie kind, but the real high-carb, grease-laden, add the triple cheese and tomatoes kind of burger. That's what Bubba's is -- a place for when you're tired of being healthy and want something that's genuinely decadent and you want to feel full of good ol' American beef.
Bubba's menu is primarily the high-starch, high-carb comfort American food. It's a common hangout for students and the more eclectic sort (very near UO campus), and the menu reflects the crowd's assumption that they're still young and relatively immortal. Burgers are the star of the show here, with single, double and triple burgers with the works (ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and anything else that appears handy, as far as I can tell). Fries come in large, jumbo, and a bowl about the size of two people's heads -- it's possible to order them with/without spices, cheese, or cheese and chili. The chili fries (called "wet" fries by cognoscenti) are an entree by themselves -- no Diet Coke or canola oil weenies here, this is serious grease and fat; yes, folks, bona fide lard fries, the way God meant them to be.
For the lightweights and the vegetarians, Bubba's does have a few chicken and salad things, but they're notable only for the generous size of portions. Their fried chicken plate varies -- go on Saturday nights for the best chicken, and maybe some greens and sweet potatoes to go with them.
Avoid the chili by itself if you're sensitive to cayenne pepper -- it seems to give me and most of my friends a hard time, although the fries offset it enough to be edible (and tasty).
Desserts are pretty dull here -- ice cream is the top of the lot, mostly. If Fall Creek Bakery has good stuff that day, the desserts come from there, so check the window at Fall Creek to see what's on tap.
Bubba's tends to be crowded at all hours. It's loud, and occasionally quite boisterous, so it's probably not a good first date restaurant. Good for friends, though.
Excelsior Inn Eugene, OR
The Excelsior is one of the nicest restaurants in town. It's quiet and elegant, with an excellent wine cellar, and adjoining inn. It's quite popular with the UO faculty, and it's not uncommon to find UO administrators and guests dining there for lunch or dinner.
The Excelsior is a short walk from the west side of the UO campus, about 4 blocks. The menu is generally upscale French or Italian food, with occasional German specialties. The wienerschnitzel is peerless -- it's my favorite dish there, and I have it whenever I visit. It comes with beets, a smoked mushroom sauce that I can't quite figure out the ingredients to, and superb fluffy potatoes. Others I've eaten there with like the pate fois gras (home-made, I'm told), and the excellent range of breads and soups. The atmosphere is romantic and quiet -- a good place to relax.
The down side is that the Excelsior tends to be on the expensive side. This is a place to take serious business guests, your significant other on a VERY special occasion, or your parents when they want to take you out and give you a break from dorm food -- ie, when someone else is paying.
Glenwood Restaurant Eugene, OR
The original Glenwood is a funky holistic restaurant on the edge of the UO campus. The entrees are all healthy stuff -- no steaks or non-politically correct stuff here. Lots of fruit, sprouts, and whole grains on the menu. Late night, the coffee is strong, good herb teas, and pastries bake late to be fresh.
Breakfast is (IMHO) the best meal of the day here. The selection of pancakes, fruit, bacon, ham, and omlettes are unbelievably good (and filling!). Lunch can be a bit dull -- soup is usually your best bet here, with the house tomato soup being highly recommended. There's also usually a "house pot" of leftovers from the night before that makes a very hearty lunch; add some fresh bread or a 9-grain bun and you've got something that will stick around until dinner time.
There's a large dining room upstairs that often doubles as study space. The Glenwood tends to have a lot of Greeks in it, so you may want to go elsewhere if you're not into the frat/sorority scene (the hormone levels can be quite obnoxious).