Monday, November 23, 2009

Ham Shoppe

Just a couple more North Carolina joints and then we shall switch back to QC.
We decided to grab sandwiches at this place called the Ham Shoppe that we drove by multiple times. It always seemed busy, which is a good sign. However, not so good is when they are so busy that it takes forever to get your food.

There is a process involved in ordering. Instead of telling the workers what you want, they give you like a freaking scantron test and you mark off the boxes with ingredients you want.

We quickly filled ours out and turned them in. I ordered a smoked turkey sandwich on sourdough with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and pickles. Apparently the whole ordering process befuddled me, because I did not get my pickles or mustard! Also got a side of pasta salad.

Richie got roast beef on sourdough with a side of beans.

It seriously took about 30 minutes to get these sandwiches. Sure there were people in front of us, but come on... it's a sandwich. You slap it together and go.

The never ending pick up line

We got the order to go, so we hiked down this steep as hell hill and watched the rapids while we ate.

I was so hungry, I ate the sandwich in like 2 minutes, so I can't even really remember how it tasted, just that it was nothing special and a lot smaller than I expected.

Wolfin it down.

What a hobo...eating beans on a rock.

Roast beast

I don't know why this place was so busy. I mean, sure it's better than Subway, but what isn't? At least the scenery was nice?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin Parlor

You can't go to North Carolina and not eat good barbecue. Because our last bbq place was just O.K., we tried Woodlands Barbecue and Pickin Parlor in Blowing Rock. The smoke rising from the roof was a good sign of things to come.

The decor of the restaurant attempts to give off a woodsy feel, and I suppose it succeeds. Normally I hate any place that tacks a bunch of random signs to the walls, but I did find this pig stained glass window to be whimsical.

We were escorted to the lower level and found ourselves a picnic table. Luckily, the table was just big enough for us, so we didn't have to sit with any strangers like we did at the Hampton store. I'm not sure what it is about barbecue that lends itself to sitting with strangers, but with our social skills, it's nearly unbearable.

Woodlands serves traditional barbecue as well Mexican fare. I think it makes sense, because you're starting with a nice moist hunk of meat that could be spiced just any way. However, we all chose bbq. CLICK HERE FOR MENU
It should be no surprise that I chose chopped chicken. Once again, sauce is on the side, so I added just a tiny bit because I wanted to get the smoky taste of the meat. It was very pleasant and juicy. Pickles were awesome and chips were meh. The whole deal cost just $4.50

Richie got a sliced pork plate with corn, fries, and cornbread. I hate cornbread so much, just looking at this picture makes me shudder.

He also thoroughly enjoyed his pork but was a little thrown off by the meat being in slices instead of shreds. He liked the cornbread but said the fries needed more seasoning. His blood pressure disagreed.

We were in and out of there pretty fast, which was fine for lunch, but sometimes I just like to sit and relax at a restaurant. Seems like a place that is almost always hopping with people. I noticed that they will smoke ANY meat you bring into them. I would try just about anything smoked.
This was definitely the best barbecue I have had in a long time, and now I'm salivating just thinking about it. I'll have to try RJ Boars in Rock Island soon.

Cook Out

After a trip to the Boone "Mall," we headed to this place called Cookout. One might say it looked a little "ghetto" because it was obviously a Wendy's that had the dining room removed and buzzing neon lights tacked on the roof, but it looked intriguing.

Similar to Sonic drive-ins, customers must either walk up or use the drive thru. It was a nice night, so we walked up and got our first glimpse of the huge heavenly menu. I say huge because they offer 36 varieties of shakes and heavenly because you can order just about anything as a side for your meal! Who wouldn't want to order a chicken sandwich with a side of chicken nuggets anda corn dog? Wash it down with peach cobbler or Hi-C punch milkshake. Oh- everything on the menu is less than $3.50.

The beverage choices also excited us because they have fountain Cheerwine. For those who don't know, it's a cherry pop found predominantly in the south and is usually sold in glass bottles.

While I ate a healthy dinner of fro-yo from Marble Slab and some Entenmann's cake, Richie ordered a chargrilled burger "cookout-style" with chili, coleslaw, mustard, and onions. (Similar burgers can be found on many menus down there.) For his side, he ordered fries with cajun seasoning.

The whole rest of the trip, he kept commenting on wanting to go back there, but we had to hit up other places and never made it back. I was disappointed as well because I really wanted to try a caramel cheesecake shake. Reportedly, they actually take a whole slice of cheesecake and shove it in the blender. Awesome.

When we got back to Iowa, I looked up info to see if it was a chain, and lo and behold, it is. Cook-Out started in Charlotte NC in 1990, supposedly by a disgruntled Wendy's employee. There are now 30 restaurants across NC. Not much else is known about the chain. CLICK HERE or on the menu sign picture for the glorious food details.

Almost World Famous Cheeseburgers Grille

After a loooong hike through the North Carolina woods, Richie was ready for a challenge a la Man Vs. Food. It was time to stop by Pat's Almost World Famous Cheeseburgers Grille in Blowing Rock. Apparently they used to be Cheeseburgers in Paradise, but Jimmy Buffet said "enough of that."
The restaurant is located in a far corner of a Tanger Outlet Center. It was the only place to eat besides a chocolate shop. The menu was pretty basic, what you might expect from a place with such a long, telling name.
(If you can't figure it out, the menu is linked in the red up there)

The decor is blah... here are some outlet mall regulars and a famished me looking mysteriously sexy.

So I ordered a chicken salad. I cannot get this underline to go away now.
It was pretty basic, so forget it.

Now here is the beast Richie came to conquer. It's actually only one pound, and because he has eaten two Monster burgers from Hardee's in one sitting, it didn't really seem like much of a challenge to me. However, our waitress was thrilled and exclaimed "You are getting the pounder!" in her southern drawl. Her eyes got wide and she explained about the wall of fame. It is worth noting that the burger actually weighs 18 oz before cooking, and does in fact, weigh one pound after.

we somewhat cheated, I ate the two olives.

And so it begins....

and continues without much effort...

like 3 minutes later...

And the last bite was in.

So no one watched, or timed him, but it's not like he got any prize or fame. He still isn't up on their website. But he came, saw, and conquered the pounder. According to him and his dad, the burgers were really good- fresh and well seasoned. I'm pretty sure Richie ate another burger that night...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Coyote Kitchen

We hit up The Coyote Kitchen one night in Boone. I sort of snuck it in there and kept the fact that it was organic and vegan-friendly from Richie. I looked up the menu in the phone book and decided it had enough meat to satiate him.

It ended up being a very small place located in a strip mall that was otherwise closed.

The inside looked sort of Mexican or Tuscan. The clientele was very odd and our waitress was a hippie with a stoner laugh. This lady in this picture took down her hair later, and it was PAST HER BUTT. freaking GROSS. She was also wearing shiny bright blue leggings.

The food took a long time to come out of the kitchen. I imagine it was my pasta, cause it takes a while to boil water. Or it's just the way things are done down south, because pretty much everywhere we ate took FOREVER.

In the meantime, Richie enjoyed his 'natural' root beer.

And here was his feast, kobe beef with chipotle cream cheese, sliced lettuce, romas, caramelized onion, roasted corn, pico de gallo and jack cheese...

And my parmesan covered tortellini. There was also some chicken chunks in there. I wasn't very hungry so I started by picking those out and eating them, but then the tortellini was so good, I kept going and going. I brought my leftovers home and ate them the next day.

So the food turned out to be really good and every one thoroughly enjoyed it. And we all got our meat in for the day. It was one of the few meals in which someone did not eat a hamburger.

We didn't eat until like 8 p.m. so no good outdoor pics of the place, but you can kind of make out the coyote...

Old Hampton Store BBQ

Down in North Carolina, there are many general stores which have been around for decades. I'm not talking Casey's "General Stores," but real stores that sell a little bit of everything, from food to tools to clothing. These are necessary because there isn't a decent mall anywhere near Boone.

We visited the Old Hampton Store because they also serve BBQ. The place was packed with stuff and people.

Most days they have musical entertainment. I guess I would describe this trio as Blue Grass. They were pretty dry, but the music was catchy enough to get stuck in my head.

I was itching to try Brunswick stew made from squirrel, but instead I went the safe route with smoked chicken. (You could say I "chickened out" harhar) They also offered many different BBQ sandwiches and sides such as coleslaw, baked beans, and veggies.

Despite it being so busy, service was pretty fast. My chicken was a little on the dry side, but the sauce helped. The sourdough bread was nice and soft and the green beans were fantastic, but that's not hard to screw up. Macaroni and Cheese was lacking something...I think they needed some sharp cheddar or other flavorful cheese to kick it up a notch. But what do I know? I looove Velveeta Shells n Cheese.

Richie got the BBQ pork sandwich with a side of slaw. The BBQ in North Carolina is made with a dry rub and smoker, sauce on the side. The traditional sauce is vinegar based, runnier and tangier than what you would find in the Midwest.

They are also big on sarsaparilla, ginger ale, and root beer served in glass bottles.

Richie enjoyed his sandwich, but left the slaw. Was not a fan, I guess. We found that most places down there put the slaw directly on the sandwich.
I think we were both slightly disappointed in the flavor of our first North Carolina style barbecue. Nonetheless, it tasted better and had a funner atmosphere than our Quad-Cities options of Dickie's and Famous Dave's.