Category Archives: Food at Restaurants

New India

Aaron and I recently discovered another place in River City (that’s Richmond, VA) to get a great meal for not a lot of money. New India at 5516 Lakeside Ave. in Richmond is probably the best Indian food to be had in the city.  The lunch buffet is about $8 per person and is available every day except Wednesday. Aaron and I have gone on two different Sundays, and the buffet items have been different both times, with the exception of a few items like pakoras, chicken tikka masala, jasmine rice, warm naan, and a variety of chutneys and sauces (I like the tamarind chutney and raita). Last Sunday, this is what my plate looked like:

A Feast of Flavorful Indian Food!

A Feast of Flavorful Indian Food!

At the bottom left, you see the famous dish of home-made cheese and peas, mattar paneer. This was really spicy and the cheese was mild and lovely. Next to that, you see a dish of various vegetables, including green beans, carrots, and potatoes. This is vegetable korma. On the upper right are three crunchy little vegetable pakoras, which I happily dunked into sweet, tangy tamarind chutney. In the middle of the plate is my favorite (Aaron’s favorite, too) thing on this buffet – the chicken tikka masala. It’s pieces of the most tender chicken EVER in that delicious orangey-red sauce. At the very top is some jasmine rice, though it got a bit washed out in the picture, and on the left is a piece of fresh, warm naan bread. Aaron can’t get enough of that stuff – he uses it to sop up all the yummy sauces and gravies.

Everything on the buffet was piping hot, and the staff never let any of the buffet items run out. Service was excellent. The first time I went here, I went up to the counter to pay (that’s how they do it there) and totally forgot to put a tip on the receipt. And yes, I definitely tip around 10% on buffets, especially since on this occassion our server never let our ice water run out and offered us fresh naan with each buffet plate. Our server didn’t bat an eye. He smiled and said, “Thanks, have a great day.” I realized I’d forgotten the tip halfway through the door, whipped around, and added the tip, apologizing profusely. I was impressed with his ability to remain friendly in the face of what looked like a non-tipper. Personally, I would have been miffed.

If you’re ever in the northside of Richmond and need a tasty, affordable lunch – try this place. Just come pick me up first.

Brown Rice Sushi

On Thursday, I wanted a quick, light meal to eat before I went to work. Thursday was the first real day of my new job – last week was orientation. So I went to a local supermarket chain called Ukrop’s and started hunting for something suitable. I meandered over to their little sushi section and spotted inside-out sushi rolls with carrot, cucumber, and avocado that were made with short-grain brown rice.

brownricesushi1jpg

I usually prefer to eat brown rice over white rice because it contains nutrients that white rice does not, such as magnesium, fiber, and fatty acids. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_rice#White_rice_comparison) I also really like the nutty flavor and chewy texture. I’d often wondered whether sushi could be made with brown rice, but guessed that it wouldn’t stick together the way that white sushi rice does and assumed it wouldn’t work. So, I was very surprised to see this brown rice sushi! Twelve pieces for $5.49 seemed reasonable enough, so I bought the package and brought it home.

brownricesushi2

I know that supermarket sushi is probably a huge faux-pas for many foodies, but this tasted good! The brown rice was plenty sticky, and I liked its chewiness with the crunch of the vegetables and the butteriness of the avocado. The little black sesame seeds enhanced the nutty taste of the brown rice. The cool sushi calmed my first-day-of-work nerves. This was definitely a healthy tasty cheap lunch.

brownricesushicloseup

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill

On Saturday, Aaron’s family came from their hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia to visit us in Richmond – the occassion was that Aaron’s birthday is on Tuesday. After some goofing around at our apartment, we all went to Short Pump Town Center, which is an upscale shopping center in the west end of Richmond. It has a Williams-Sonoma. I went there and oohed and ahhed for a good while. I didn’t buy anything, though – keen observers will notice that the word “cheap” is in the title of my blog.

We ate lunch at a place called Firebirds Wood Fired Grill in the mall. I’ll go ahead and add a disclaimer that this meal was probably not the healthiest ever (it’s Aaron’s birthday, after all). But it was cheap, since it was a birthday thing for Aaron – it was free for both of us, in fact. And as I’ve said before, you can’t beat free. Thanks, Aaron’s mom and dad!

I actually forgot to bring my camera with me to the mall, so Aaron’s mum took these pictures with her fancy fancy camera. They turned out very nicely, especially considering that it was super dark in the restaurant. So, many thanks to our guest photographer!

Aaron’s mom ordered the baby back ribs, which came with fries, cider slaw, and a moist towelette.

Ribs, Slaw, and Fries

Ribs, Slaw, and Fries

Aaron and I both ordered the same thing. The turkey club came on jalapeno corn bread (not cornbread, but regular bread with corn and jalapenos!), smoked turkey, applewood bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and roasted red pepper mayonnaise. The fries were crisp on the outside and fluffy and hot on the inside. I asked for a little of the red pepper mayo on the side to dip my fries into. I believe Aaron’s mom described the fries as “worth falling off the wagon for.” I assume she means the healthy eating wagon, or perhaps the french fry abstinence wagon. Either way, I agree, although today I’m right back on again. 🙂

Those eager little hands clasped around the fork in the background belong to Aaron, who is probably thinking something like, "Please hurry up with the pictures and let me eat!"

Those eager little hands clasped around the fork in the background belong to Aaron, who is probably thinking something like, "Please hurry up with the pictures and let me eat!"

Aaron’s brother ordered the smokehouse chicken sandwich, which came with applewood bacon, barbeque sauce, shredded cheddar cheese, and red onions. He also got a nice pile of the yummy fries, of course. This is the only photo on this post that I took, since I was sitting next to the sandwich and its owner.

The Smokehouse Chicken Sandwich

The Smokehouse Chicken Sandwich

Aaron’s dad ordered the soup of the day (chicken tortilla with sour cream), and the Firebirds BLT salad, which came with roasted garlic ranch dressing. Aaron’s mom took this awesome action shot of our server grinding some fresh black pepper onto the salad. The service was excellent, by the way.

"Just say when!"

"Just say when!"

I think Aaron had a very tasty birthday lunch and a fun day at the fancypants mall. I know I did. 😀

Outer Banks Vacation Wrap-Up

I realized this afternoon that I still have a great deal of pictures I want to share on the blog, but I don’t really want to put them all into separate posts spanned out over the next week or so, since I plan to start cooking (and blogging about!) healthy tasty cheap things again this week. So, here are the remaining photos from my week in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Our first morning at the beach house, we had a giant breakfast of pancakes, sausage links, and bacon. The pancakes were from a mix I had never seen or used before. The dry Bisquick mix is in a plastic jug-shaped container, so all you need to do is add water, shake, and pour the pancake mix onto the griddle. This worked great since no one had been to the grocery store to buy eggs, milk, and so forth at this point, and they tasted good, too. All in all, a pretty nifty product.

I like syrup on everything in this picture!

I like syrup on everything in this picture!

On Tuesday night, we had dinner at the Colington Cafe. I already posted our appetizer and entrees, but I haven’t gotten around to the desserts yet – until now! Aaron’s dad ordered the “Tollhouse Cookie Pie”. I am not sure what this was doing at a French restaurant, but it looked mighty tasty. I suspect it was made from a recipe similar to this one.

It's got cookie AND pie AND ice cream.

It's got cookie AND pie AND ice cream.

Aaron and I felt like something a bit more French-ish, so we split a creme brulee. It was so, so good. I was pleased to see lots of little specks of vanilla bean in it. I’m not sure what the triangular cookie on top was, exactly, but it was chewy and sweet. We used it to scoop up the smooth custard.

creme brulee, moments before being cracked with my spoon.

Creme brulee, moments before being cracked with my spoon.

One night, Aaron, his brother, two of his cousins, and I played mini golf at a place called Lost Treasure Golf (their website is obnoxious, but I’ll link to it anyway!). While we were waiting to buy our game, we noticed this sign and were all pretty tickled by it.

"DO NOT COMB ROCKS"

"DO NOT COMB ROCKS" -we tried our best not to!

That same day, we ate at a place called Sooey’s BBQ in Corolla, NC (which is pronounced kuh-RAH-luh, by the way). Aaron ordered the pulled chicken barbeque sandwich, which came with one side dish. He picked baked beans. The barbeque was the delicious, vinegary North Carolina variety, my favorite! If this picture is a bit blurry, that’s because he was whining for me to hurry up and take the picture – he was very eager to eat this. 🙂

Aaron's Barbeque Chicken Sandwich

Sooey's Barbeque Chicken Sandwich

Aaron’s dad ordered the pulled pork barbeque platter, which came with two hushpuppies and two sides. He picked collard greens and macaroni and cheese. This plate reminded me a lot of the pork barbeque plate I got at the Virginia Diner. It looked really good, especially the hushpuppies.

Sooey's Pulled Pork BBQ Platter

Sooey's Pulled Pork Barbeque Platter

I love chicken salad, so even though this was primarily a barbeque restaurant, I couldn’t resist the smoked chicken salad sandwich. The smoky chicken was mixed with mayo, celery, and onion, and served on a bun with lettuce tomato and onion. I picked macaroni and cheese for my side. This was delicious – my only complaint is that sad little loop of onion. A would prefer a nice slice of onion to a thin ring.

Sooey's Smoked Chicken Salad Sandwich

Sooey's Smoked Chicken Salad Sandwich

A closer look at the chicken salad sandwich

A closer look at the chicken salad sandwich

One day we took a trip to the northern part of the Outer Banks. Once you reach a certain point, the paved road ends and you have to drive on the beach, so only four-wheel drive vehicles are allowed (and even then, some people still get stuck in the sand). Aaron’s dad drove us down the beach in his ginormous pickup truck. It was sort of drizzly that day, so the beach looked rather gray. Still, it was neat to get some pictures of the beach with no human beings in them.

Northern Outer Banks

Northern Outer Banks

Before coming to the Outer Banks, I had absolutely no idea that feral horses inhabit the islands. We drove around the unpaved sand-roads for a while and actually found a small group of the horses grazing by the side of the road. The horses are descended from Spanish mustangs that may have swum to shore after shipwrecks. Wikipedia has a very interesting article about the Banker Horses.

Feral Horses on the Outer Banks

Feral Horses on the Outer Banks

On another excursion (this time to Manteo, NC), we had lunch at a diner called Big Al’s. Since it was a diner, ordering the 1/2 pound bacon cheese burger with fries and a coke seemed like the thing to do. I was so full after eating this meal that when we got home half an hour later I immediately fell asleep and stayed that way for a good portion of the afternoon. Next time, I think I will order the 1/4 pound burger!

Big Al's Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries

Big Al's Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries

That’s pretty much it! I had a great time eating and playing in the Outer Banks. Can’t wait to go back.

The Colington Cafe

On Tuesday night, Aaron’s family and I went to the Colington Cafe in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina. The restaurant is actually a house, sort of set back in the woods, that was turned into a French restaurant.

The Colington Cafe

The Colington Cafe

For an appetizer, Aaron and I split an order of local scallops, which were wrapped in bacon and drizzled with a teriyaki sauce and sesame seeds. The scallops arrived very hot and absolutely delicious. The scallops were tender, the bacon was crispy, and the teriyaki was salty and sweet. I loved this dish!

Bacon-wrapped Scallops

Bacon-wrapped Scallops

For his entree, Aaron ordered crab cakes, which was listed on the menu as being served with “chef’s choice of accompaniments.” These turned out to be mashed potatoes and fresh, buttery veggies – green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots. Aaron loved the crab cakes and the horseradish caper sauce they were served with. I tried some, and they were very fresh and deliciously seasoned. Aaron thought the veggies were fantastic. He even ate the carrot, and he normally hates carrots! He mentioned that the mashed potatoes were a bit bland, but a sprinkle of salt helped them.

Crab Cakes with Horseradish-Caper Sauce

Crab Cakes with Horseradish-Caper Sauce

Aaron’s grandfather had a filet mignon with bearnaise sauce, which also came with mashed potatoes and vegetables. He said that the steak was perfectly cooked and seasoned. We had a lot of discussion about the difference between bearnaise and hollandaise. We eventually figured it out, with the help of an iPhone.

Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce

Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce

Aaron’s mom ordered a filet mignon with lump crab meat and bearnaise sauce. I had a bite of the steak – it was delicious!

Filet Mignon with Lump Crab and Bearnaise Sauce

Filet Mignon with Lump Crab and Bearnaise Sauce

I ordered the chef’s special: mahi-mahi with lump crab meat, hollandaise, broccolini, and a baby potato melange. I was excited to see that there were little baby blue potatoes in this dish – I had never had blue potatoes before, and I think they’re very pretty. 🙂 The mahi was light and delicate, and the crab meat was fantastic. I thought the sides were good, but maybe a little bit unoriginal. The blue potatoes were interesting to look at, but the baby potatoes tasted pretty much like plain boiled potatoes. Still, I enjoyed eating this very much, and I was happy with the portion size of the fish.

Mahi-mahi with Crab, Hollandaise Sauce, Broccolini, and Baby Potatoes

Mahi-mahi with Crab, Hollandaise Sauce, Broccolini, and Baby Potatoes

If you’re ever in the area, definitely check out the Colington Cafe. It was a bit pricey, but we loved the restaurant itself, we had great service, and we left feeling as if we had gotten what we paid for. It was a good feeling. 😀

Chipotle Burrito Bowl

One of the best, cheapest, quickest meals around is the Burrito Bowl from Chipotle Mexican Grill:

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl from Chipotle

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl from Chipotle

I refer to it as the “Burrito Trough” because it’s so darn huge. On this occasion, I got a vegetarian bowl with the cilantro-lime rice, black beans, grilled peppers and onions, red tomatillo salsa, corn, a touch of sour cream, guacamole, and lettuce.

PROTIP #1: At my Chipotle they charge $1.70 extra if you want guacamole. You definitely want guacamole – it’s the best I can get outside of my own kitchen, and even then it’s a very close second. However, if you order the vegetarian bowl, they don’t charge for the guac. Awesome.

PROTIP #2: Ordering the burrito bowl instead of a burrito in a tortilla saves you 290 calories, 9 grams of fat, and 3 grams of saturated fat (please see link to the Chipotle nutrition calculator, below). It is also a lot less messy to eat.

PROTIP #3: When I was a vegan, sometimes people would admonish me for eating at Chipotle because it was owned by McDonald’s, and McDonald’s isn’t the sort of thing a vegan should be supporting. According to wikipedia.org, “In the past, McDonald’s Corporation owned a majority interest in Chipotle. McDonald’s has since sold their entire stake in Chipotle; full divestment was completed in October 2006.” So, this is no longer a concern. In addition, the wikipedia article on the restaurant says, “All of Chipotle’s chicken and pork are naturally raised (i.e., open-range, antibiotic free, and with a vegetarian diet), as well as 50% of the beef. In 2009, Chipotle began purchasing beef, pork, and chicken products from Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm in Virginia, which was featured in the film Food, Inc. Also, approximately 30% of the beans are organically grown. The company pledges to use more local produce when possible.” That’s pretty cool. And no, I didn’t get any money from Chipotle for writing this. 😀

I love the guacamole, spicy red tomatillo salsa, and sweet corn together. Yum.

I love the guacamole, spicy red tomatillo salsa, and sweet corn together. Yum.

If you are lucky enough to have a Chipotle Mexican Grill in your area and are wondering about the nutrition information for your favorite meal, check out the Chipotle Nutrition Calculator. It doesn’t give you the information for vitamins and minerals, but calories, fat, fiber, sodium, and so forth are all there. My burrito bowl contains 100% of the daily intake for fiber. I’m impressed. And very full.

Dinner for One

This weekend I had planned to travel with the boyfriend to visit his parents in Lynchburg, Virginia. However, our cat had other plans. Poor little Pigeon got sick about an hour before we were scheduled to leave, and it did not seem wise to put her into her cat carrier and drive her around for three and a half hours, so I decided to stay here and tend to her. She is fine now, but I have got a serious case of the Lonelies. To cheer myself up a bit, I went to the Chinese takeout place down the street and picked up some chicken with broccoli.

Chinese Takeout: Chicken with Broccoli and Steamed White Rice

Chicken with Broccoli and Steamed Rice

This meal was definitely very tasty and comforting, and Chinese-American takeout is one of my favorite things to eat. The sauce had a savory, soy-saucy taste, the rice was soft and sticky, and the chicken was tender.  It was decidedly cheap – a pint with rice costs $5.35, and what you see on my plate was only half of the food I got. This was enough for two meals for me, which is great, because – call me strange if you want – I love having leftover takeout for breakfast the next day! Maybe you are wondering whether this meal really qualifies as “healthy.” Although chicken with broccoli might not be the healthiest thing in the world, you could do a whole lot worse at a Chinese restaurant. According to this website, one cup of chicken with broccoli has about 280 calories, and one cup of white rice has 150 calories, while a single eggroll has 300-350 calories. I suspect that if I ask for “half sauce” next time, it will be just as tasty and a little healthier.