Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tom+Chee - Kennesaw, Georgia

The Tom+Chee in the name of this place is for tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. A restaurant that specializes in grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup? Yes please! 

What better to do on a chilly, damp day than dive into a bowl of soup and a crispy, comforting, warm sandwich? Nothing better that's what. Faced with just such a day recently the Dining Companion and I stopped in at Tom+Chee.

The brightly colored red and yellow space is the perfect antidote for a drab day.

Hanging over the counter is a menu board that lists not only the dozens of grilled cheese options but also the soups, salads and grilled donuts(!) that are available. To the left is a chalkboard that shows all of the days specials. You order at the counter and the food is delivered to you at your table. Standard fast casual set-up.

There are so many choices that it can be a little overwhelming. The Dining Companion ordered the Tom+Chee and I ordered BBQ+Bacon with a Soup Dipper. The Dippers are small containers of soup to, you got it, dip your sandwich in. I love that.
diced tomato+garlic seasoning
+mozz+cheddar+hardy white bread
bbq potato chips+bacon+american+hardy white bread w/a creamy chicken soup dipper

The sandwiches were crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside. Just like you'd expect from a grilled cheese sandwich.

Oh, I also ordered the Grilled Donut of the day because of course I did. The donut this day was the Buckeye. A grilled donut topped with chocolate, peanut butter mascarpone, chocolate syrup and mozzarella cheese. I know!

This was the strangest thing I've eaten in a long time but man oh man, it was crazy good. Don't try to make sense of this insanity; just eat it.

(this is the first donut that's tempted me since my visit to Voodoo Doughnut last year)
The Buckeye - A grilled donut topped with chocolate, peanut butter mascarpone, chocolate syrup and mozzarella cheese
Everything we tried was good and there are enough bread and cheese choices, add-ins and variety that I'm sure we'll be back. I may or may not be plotting what my next donut is going to be. Maybe.

Happy dining!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Brandi's World Famous Hot Dogs - Marietta, Georgia

Photo from city-data.com
The Dining Companion and I recently had lunch at Brandi's World Famous Hot Dogs. Brandi's in Marietta is a small lunch place that's open 10am-3pm Monday through Friday.

When we arrived at lunch time there was a line at the door and the tiny dining room was standing room only. Luckily for us we were able to snag a seat with two older gentleman that were finishing up their lunch. They seemed a little bemused at my request to sit with them but they were polite and gracious and allowed us to share their table. We chatted briefly about the weather, like you do, they gave us a couple of recommendations for local places to eat and then said their goodbyes. By this time we had placed our order and sat looking around and waiting for our food.

There are a handful of tables in the dining room as well as a a two sided bar that surrounds the small kitchen. Every seat in the house was filled. Everyone from moms with kids, business men and law enforcement officers stopped in for lunch.

Finally lunch arrived.
Chili Slaw Dogs, Chili Burgers, Fries and Onion Rings
The chili dogs, one of the things Brandi's is known for, were really good. The burgers were okay but it was clear that the dogs were the star of the show. The onion rings were made with whole onion slices, as they should be and the fries were crinkle cut and fried crispy just like I prefer.

Brandi's is a simple place with a small dining room and a limited menu. It is also a beloved local institution. Having lunch with the locals, and people like ourselves who came here based on word of mouth, was fun. A room full of happy people sharing good food and a fun time. What could be better than that?

Happy dining!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Dixie

Once again our merry little band is hitting the road. The East Coast is beckoning once again.

We had a good time in Texas. All that barbecue, all those icehouses, all the great seafood and TexMex cuisine. (I sense a theme here!) We've often vacationed in Texas and with all of our new found knowledge those vacations will be more fun than ever.

But, for all that, there is something about the East Coast that keeps calling us back.

So off we go. Heading east along I10 and into the Atchafalaya Basin, crossing on the Atchafalaya Swamp Freeway and its 18 mile bridge. East through the cities of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. And finally north towards Georgia and the Carolinas. 

We took our time and stopped a few places on the way. The Blow Fly Inn in Gulfport, Mississippi had been on my radar for a while. Too many Diners, Drive-ins and Dives viewings I suspect. But in any case, I wanted to check it out and the Dining Companion was kind enough to indulge me.

There wasn't much of a crowd the day we stopped for lunch. We were warmly greeted and seated at a table by a window.
I spotted a favorite of mine on the menu, a pimento cheese burger, and just had to order it. The Dining Companion ordered a Gulf Coast staple; a shrimp po'boy. 
Pimento Cheese Burger

Shrimp Po'boy
Lunch was good but I honestly didn't see what all the fuss was about. Maybe this place lights up with a crowd? Hard to say. I'm glad we stopped and that I had the chance to cross if off my list.

It's strange and comforting to travel along roads both familiar and made new by the haze of a capricious memory. Was that place there before? Did we stop here on a previous trip? It seems known and unknown at once.

Which, in a way, is nice. We get to rediscover old friends and discover new to us places along the way. But travel can be like that. It can make the old and familiar seem new and the new seem like an old friend.

Happy travels y'all!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Sam Houston Boat Tour - Houston, Texas

On a recent, overcast day, the Dining Companion and I took a tour of the Houston Shipping Channel. The Port of Houston Authority offers a free 90 minute tour aboard the M/V Sam Houston. The tour embarks from the ports Sam Houston Pavilion.

The tour is free of charge and is boarded on a first come first served basis. The day we were there was rainy and overcast so the crowd was small.

We boarded and got under way.
We passed cargo ships from all over the world.
The orange craft at the back of the ship is an escape pod for the crew
Hundreds of tons of cargo pass in and out of the Houston shipping channel every year. Once the cargo arrives at the port is is off-loaded and distributed to destinations all over the country.

There are many cargo handling businesses and warehouses located all over the port.

I don't know about you, but I find the workings of places like this fascinating. It's interesting to get an up close look at how some of the goods we use everyday make their way to us. Several large retailers have warehouses located at the Port of Houston. From these locations they can distribute their inventory to stores located throughout America.

The inside of the ship is comfortable with plenty of seating. Nice on a rainy day like we had.

Large screens show the view from the front of the boat
There are interesting activities like this available to the public all over. Get out there and take advantage of the ones near you.

Happy travels!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar - League City, Texas

Image from Little Daddy's website
What do you call a two location restaurant with franchise opportunities available? It's not a chain yet but might grow up to be one someday. Whatever you call it the Dining Companion and I had lunch there recently, Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar.

The space is nice; decorated with quirky murals and art pieces. Our waitress mentioned that the murals were painted by a friend of the owner.

I liked the tin ceiling, exposed brick and the overall color scheme. It all works to give the dining room a comfortable feeling.

Little Daddy's serves beer and wine


The main feature of Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar is their Steam Kettles. These are used for their made to order gumbos and seafood items listed on the menu as "from the kettles".

Steam Kettles
We looked over the menu and made our selections. The menu features, besides just gumbos, also burgers and po'boys. I decided on the Seafood Platter and the Dining Companion ordered the Cioppino. We got to watch the Cioppino being made in one of the steam kettles.

The shrimp and oysters on my seafood platter were cooked perfectly, light and crispy. Sadly, the fish I was served was overcooked. A few minutes fewer in the fryer would have made all the difference.

Seafood Platter - shrimp, oysters and fish       

The Cioppino was really good. Clams, mussels, fish and shrimp all in a flavorful tomato based broth. Cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew that has its origins in California. Despite that it's right at home along side the Gulf coast staples on the menu.

We finished lunch with the house-made bread pudding. The rum sauce was the star of this dish. The bread pudding was just ok. It needed a little more...something. Maybe vanilla and cinnamon? Next time I'll try the Red Velvet Cake.

Overall Little Daddy's Gumbo Bar was good. In fact we plan to get back here again to try the gumbo. It's an interesting concept and a unique way to feature what is being called Gulf Coast comfort food.

If you're planning to visit the Gulf Coast region make sure to try the local seafood. Whether stuffed into a po'boy, cooked up in a gumbo or fried to perfection, you really can't go wrong.

Happy dining!