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Lost Dog Cafe

January 9, 2015

Lost Dog Cafe: Taking a bite out of the Bow Wow.

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Target: The Bow Wow Sandwich
Side: Dog Collars (Onion Rings)
Drink: Green Flash Soul IPA
Damage to Wallet: Affordable, around $15

Guest of Honor: Colleen

This write up was a long time coming. Both Colleen and I really enjoy eating at the Lost Dog Cafe, mainly because we have never had a bad meal there. The Lost Dog features an extensive menu, with over fifty types of specialty sandwiches and a diverse pizza and pasta menu.

Sometimes I find places with big menus difficult to order at, with the amount of options obscuring the correct choice. Seeing the metaphorical chip among the nachos, if you will. Lost Dog mitigates this anxiety quite a bit by simply having great food up and down the menu. I’ve enjoyed every type of sandwich I’ve ordered there, and I’m even confident that if I slipped on the sidewalk and mistakenly ordered a vegetarian sandwich in a concussion induced haze, it would be perfectly edible.*

The Lost Dog has a few locations, but the one I frequent the most is on Columbia Pike in Arlington, VA.

*I have turned soft. A Vegetable sandwich. A VEGETABLE SANDWICH!? That’s just a salad and breadsticks with an identity crisis.

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Target: The Bow Wow

This particular sandwich wasn’t listed as a ‘Lost Dog Favorite’ the last time I stopped in, but it is one of mine. Garlic infused chicken, bacon and lettuce form the core. Parmesan, Fontina and Mozzarella cheeses are melted on top. A house made red pepper vinaigrette hints at heat while accenting the other flavors perfectly. Served Toasted.

A great sandwich is a lot like a championship sports team. They feature balance and discipline. Stressing any one flavor robs the rest of the spotlight. The chunks of chicken and strips of bacon highlight the cheeses and visa versa. I’m grateful for the light touch of the vinaigrette, as it doesn’t cover up its teammates. Quite simply, this sandwich is greater than the sum of its delicious parts.

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Side: Dog Collars (Onion Rings)

Despite the least appetizing name for onion rings that I have ever encountered, these were good. The breading was light, some of the rings were very crisp, but some were a little soft. I preferred the crispier ones.

They came with two dipping sauces, horseradish and ranch. Both were excellent.

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Drink: Green Flash Soul IPA

Oh my, I seemed to have drifted out of my comfort zone and ordered a beer that might require a description. I always am tempted by IPAs on menus. They have cool names and fancy write ups. Whoever does the copy for them has me wrapped around their pinky. The only problem is that generally I don’t like IPAs. Bother.

I liked this one much more than experience should have led me to expect. It was on the lighter side, and it had a vague citrus taste in there somewhere.

Damage to Wallet: Around $15

The Lost Dog is pretty cheap for the area and realm of gourmet sandwiches. Worth it.

Verdict: Awesome sandwiches and pizzas, huge beer list, ridiculous dog names, reasonable prices. This place is great, I definitely recommend it.

I’ll include a picture of Colleen’s white pizza for kicks.

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Shake Shack

December 21, 2014

Shake Shack: Taking on the Shack Stack!

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Target: The Shack Stack
Side: Cheese Fries
Drink: Fountain Coke
Damage to Wallet: Around $15

Guests of Honor: An entire Flock of Oiselle runners.

It has been a long time since I updated this blog. My apologies, I am going to try and return to updating it regularly.

One of the advantages of being married to someone who honestly believes that there is a real difference between ‘easy’ and ‘hard’ ten mile runs is that I don’t have to spend my time perusing low fat, low calorie, no gluten menus. No offense intended. So when we were invited to a Holiday Cookie party by her running friends we naturally said we would come. When the group decided to head to Shake Shack after I knew just what I was getting.

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Target: Shack Stack
The Shack Stack is sort of a double cheeseburger. It is their regular cheeseburger with their vegetarian burger placed on top with lettuce, tomato and their propriety ShackSauce.

About the vegetarian burger (called the Shroom Burger). It is a portobello mushroom stuffed with muenster and cheddar cheese then deep fried. It is a vegetarian take on a juicy lucy. It is huge and delicious. And by the way why have vegetarians not been leading off with this!? The Shroom Burger needs to be shouted about from rooftops! This monster veggie patty is a star! This would be the equivalent of the first thing on Usain Bolt’s resume being that he used to dominate at Where in the World is Carmen San Diego back in the day. Sheesh.

The regular Shack Burger is cooked medium. It looks great and it tastes even better. The fact that you can taste this guy at all with that behemoth on top of it is a testimony to just how flavorful the regular Shack Burger patty is. There is a reason why in NYC this place needed a webcam so people could judge how long the waiting line was.

This burger is amazing.

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Side: Cheese Fries
Go big or go home. The crinkle cut fries are crisp enough to survive the cheese sauce. That is the key, nothing worse than ending up with some weird cheese and fry combination you can’t eat with your hands.

Drink: Fountain Coke
I was already looking at a very filling order, a shake was out of the question. The cups for the soda are small, but refills are free. If you are ordering takeout maybe pony up for the large.

Damage to Wallet: Around $15
You can definitely feed yourself here for less if you don’t order the most expensive burger on the menu. It’s worth it though.

Verdict: Shake Shack makes awesome burgers. Not really a shocking conclusion. The fact that they invented a vegetarian juicy lucy that I like as much as their awesome burgers sure shocked me. I say give the Shack a shot. I put it on my Burger Bucket List.

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Earl’s Sandwich

October 21, 2013

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Earl’s Sandwich

Target: Earl’s Turkey Club
Side: New Orleans Style Gumbo
Drink: Coca Cola in a can
Damage to Wallet: Under $15

Guest of Honor: Colleen

Things I cannot abide; Vibram 5 finger shoes, ‘Club Sandwiches’ that don’t have three slices of bread, and people who keep Ducks inside as pets. Earl’s Sandwich shop can’t help me with the two legged terrors or weird shoes but man can they put together a true Club Sandwich.

Target: Earl’s Turkey Club

This beauty tasted as good as it looked. Fresh roasted turkey and cranberry relish make up the top layer, while lettuce, mayonnaise and bacon adorn the bottom. I ordered this behemoth no tomato. I didn’t miss it. All of this supported by three lightly toasted slices of sourdough bread.

If I have to explain that cranberries and turkey go well together for you, I am sorry. It works as well here as on any Thanksgiving table. The lettuce, mayo and bacon layer added the required depth of flavor and sourdough was the perfect bread for this sandwich. Basically this is a Thanksgiving leftover sandwich on top of an amazing BLT. (Even though I left off the Tomato)

Side: New Orleans Style Gumbo

This homemade soup was excellent. The okra stole the show but the andouille sausage and the turkey kept my inner carnivore satisfied. I would get it again.

I included pictures of Colleen’s fries and grilled cheese. Don’t Panic.

Drink: Coca Cola in a can

It can take rust stains off kitchen floors, and it washed down this meal.

Damage to Wallet: Under $15

Awesome food for the money. And a lot of it.

Final Verdict: This place is awesome. I haven’t seen a sandwich served I wouldn’t eat.

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BGR: My Burger Joint

September 18, 2013
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BGR: My Burger Joint

Target: All-American Burger
Side: Parmesan Fries
Drink: Creamsicle Coke (See Below)
Damage to Wallet: Around $28 for Two

Guest of Honor: My FiancĂ©e Colleen – Note a ring theme

BGR is a chain of deluxe Burger restaurants that appear up and down the Eastern seaboard. They are known for producing above average burgers at reasonable prices. This one also had my favorite restroom signs of all time.

Target: All-American Burger

This Month’s specialty burger featured an all beef patty with cheddar cheese, bacon, an onion ring topped with BBQ sauce and mustard. This was an important burger in my life as I have actually never had one topped with an onion ring before. I ordered it medium.

Although it came out a little more done than ordered it was an excellent burger. The beef was able to stand up to the prominent flavors of the BBQ sauce and the mustard, both of which were excellent. The BBQ sauce was on the sweeter side and the mustard added a little bite. The bacon was crispy and the onion ring was an unsuspected treat. I usually don’t like onions on my burgers but in ring form it was tame enough that I enjoyed it. The bun was buttered and grilled and was substantial enough to hang tough despite the mountain of toppings.

Side: Parmesan Fries

Crisp fries with a fluffy center topped with Parmesan cheese. Really simple, really good.

Drink: Creamsicle Coke

So BGR has one of those fancy Coke machines that allows you to pick between around a hundred types of soda. So I mix seventy five percent Vanilla Coke and fill the rest with Orange Coke. It is sweeter than a bumble bees daydream and I love it.

Damage to Wallet: Around $28 for Two

Not a bad deal for two burgers, fries and two drinks.

Verdict: I say give BGR a shot. The burgers are a lot better than the average fare and they aren’t too expensive.

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Old Town: The Haunted Portland Pizzeria

July 1, 2013

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Old Town: The Haunted Portland Pizzeria

Target: Pepperoni Pizza, Sausage and Mushroom Pizza, Garlic Knots and Salad, Mac and Cheese
Drink: Old Town Brewery Irish Red
Damage to Wallet: Affordable (See Below)

Guest of Honor: Colleen

On a trip to Portland, Oregon we made a point to check out the most famous pizza place in town. Old Town Pizzeria and Brewery has an interesting history. Located in what was once a lobby of a hotel in Portland’s historic Chinatown District. Apparently people used to go missing in the area and taken through hidden tunnels eventually to be sold into slavery. A brave young woman attempted to escape and alert authorities. She was found at the bottom of an elevator shaft in the hotel. Haunted pizza, that is a new one for me.

Despite the grim backstory, Old Town pumps out some truly inspired food. We ended up going twice during our trip, and I thought I would include both trips in this post.

Target: Pepperoni Pizza, Sausage and Mushroom Pizza, Garlic Knots and Salad, Mac and Cheese

Old Town starts out with locally sourced flour and dough they make throughout the day. The result is a robust crust that is surprisingly light and chewy. The sauce is a little on the sweet side but compliments the hardy crust well.

The Pepperoni Pie comes out with the edges of the little pepperonis curled to the sky. Always a great sign in my book. With all of the low level pepperoni that gets delivered in boxes across the country, it is easy to forget why this topping became so popular. The first bite brought it all back for me. The little pepperonis had a touch of heat to them that instantly cut through the sweetness of the sauce. Awesome pie.

The Sausage and Mushroom pizza also brought the noise. Giant chunks of fennel infused sausage handle the sweet sauce with ease. Thin cut fresh mushrooms bring the flavors together in a fugue that I would retire to if it was possible.

The Garlic Knots are huge. Out of proportion huge. Good thing they were excellent. Doughy knots with a hint of garlic, when the quality of ingredients and preparation are at this level, there is no need to over complicate it. Think Joe Torre managing the 90’s Yankees saying twenty five words a game.

Salad was basic fresh greens served with a homemade dressing. I went with Blue Cheese. It was a little thin, with generous chunks of cheese. Overall excellent. Sad to report not a crouton to be had.

The Mac and Cheese was based on a penne like pasta with a cheddar sauce. They add some flavored breadcrumbs and toss it right in with the pizzas until it browns up. All of the food at Old Town was excellent, but I was most surprised by this dish. I don’t usually like Mac and Cheese served at restaurants. This time I couldn’t stop stealing noodles from Colleen. Creamy, cheesy and perfectly seasoned with the breadcrumbs it was an unexpected treat.

Drink: Old Town Brewery Irish Red

A local beer that has the familiar notes of an Irish Red, but not so overbearing so a beer wimp like me could enjoy it. Seriously when it comes to craft beer chops, I rank somewhere between the demographic for the magazine Tiger Beat and a Chia pet. And I still liked it.

I also posted the OTB Pilsner that Colleen ordered. Also good.

Damage to Wallet: Affordable

The Pizza’s were less than $14 each, the Garlic Knots were less than $6 and the Mac and Cheese was around $11. Beers were about $5. Salad came free. This paid for two full meals.

Final Verdict: Fun atmosphere, great food and drink, and an interesting sense of history. If you find yourself in Portland don’t be afraid to venture to Chinatown to grab some classic pizzeria fair.

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Five Guys: The Legend of Breakfast

June 29, 2013

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Five Guys: The Legend of Breakfast

Target: Bacon Egg and Cheese w/ Mushrooms
Drink: Sprite
Damage to Wallet: Around $8

Guest of Honor: Colleen

Breakfast in an airport is always a little touch and go. It’s usually expensive and often reheated. I was flying out of Reagan Airport in DC this week and stumbled into something that made me take a step back. A Five Guys was serving breakfast. My reality shattered, and if a photo existed of me at that exact moment it would look embarrassingly similar to Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat in the sky.

Five Guys serving breakfast actually makes a lot of sense. Flat top cooking, bacon experience, and they are already accustomed to customers watch them work their magic. Why it takes an airport for this to make sense to the five gentlemen I assume make corporate decisions is above my pay grade.

Target: Bacon Egg and Cheese w/ Mushrooms

Since I was afforded the luxury of watching the cooks make my sandwich I thought I would mention the process. They crack real eggs, yes from a chicken, into little round molds that shape the eggs into a patty on the flat top. From my understanding that’s how McDonald’s does the eggs on the Egg McMuffin.* The Five Guys cooks were doing the bacon on the same surface. They toasted the bun on the cooking surface simultaneously.

The egg met two slices of American cheese bacon and mushrooms on the toasted bun. It was as good as it sounds. Fresh eggs make a huge difference. All of the usual Five Guys topping are available. Next time I might opt for ketchup and hot sauce but regardless I was impressed by just how good this sandwich was.

Some people might frown on the hamburger bun but I actually liked it. They stuck to something they do well instead of going halfway with a crappy bagel.

* You can sub real eggs for free onto any of the red haired clown’s breakfast sandwiches by asking for ’round eggs’. No amount of explanation will make that sensible to me but it does make it so much better.

Drink: Sprite

I usually get Sprite with fast food breakfast sandwiches. I don’t know why. I ignored the advertising suggestion by forgoing the pickup basketball game. I can’t dunk anyways.

Damage to Wallet: Around $8

Expensive anywhere but in an airport. A bargain in the weird airport economy that never seemed to recover from the hyper inflation that plagued the Confederate Dollar.

Final Verdict:

Real Eggs! Free toppings like its going out of style. At an airport. Do it.

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Eggspectation

March 25, 2013
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Eggspectaion

Target: Bayou Benedict
Drink: Bloody Mary
Damage to Wallet: Around $25

Guest of Honor: Colleen

Colleen and I found ourselves near Chantily, Virgina one morning after she had competed in a 5k. We were hungry outside of our usual breakfast radius, and destined to find the unusually named Eggspectation.

Despite the name, which led me to an expectation of an egg only menu, you could order all kinds of breakfast and brunch fares. Still I decided on something a little outside of my usual comfort zone.

Target: The Bayou Benedict

Shrimp, Sausage, Grilled Chicken, and Poached Eggs piled on top of two Polenta triangles and covered in cheese and New Orleans Sauce. Served with Grilled Potatoes this was certainly a filling way to start the day.

The Polenta triangles were outstanding, especially since I wasn’t very confident in them when I ordered. The Chicken, Sausage and Shrimp all went very well with the dish. The Poached Eggs were cooked better than expected.*

What brought the plate together for me was the Sauce. The cajun spices gave a bit of a kick to the creamy hollandaise substitute. It was a different take on a familiar concept, and one that I immensely enjoyed.

*Don’t think I didn’t consider writing eggspected for way too long.

Drink: Bloody Mary

It wasn’t the spiciest Bloody Mary, but it was tasty and it came out quickly.

Damage to Wallet: Around $25

Verdict: This isn’t a bad deal for Brunch in Northern Virginia. I would go back and order the same thing, which is the highest of compliments.

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