Groundhog Day Musical: A Show You’ll Want to See Again and Again and Again

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So I know this is a food blog, but I also happen to watch as many musicals and plays as I can and using the hashtag #AnanteaterTheater was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

MUSICAL: Groundhog Day

WHERE: August Wilson Theatre on Broadway (Closed on September 17th – but going on an 18-month US Tour in 2018)

THE DETAILS: I have had the opportunity to see quite a few Broadway Musicals and I have to say this show is definitely in my Top Five Favorite Musicals of All-Time list.

Based on the classic Bill Murray movie of the same name on the events of February 2nd every year in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Groundhog Day takes you through the day of Weatherman Phil Connors over and over and over again till he gets it right.

This musical will make you laugh and make you cry, taking you on a roller coaster of emotions that you expect from every great musical.

One of the most impressive parts of the musical is the use of technology and special effects. Most of the choreography is based on a multi-circle rotating platform in the center of the stage which allows seamless transitions from set to set. During the song “Hope” was one of the most impressive special effects I had ever seen on a stage. It was almost like magic how the main character Phil, who (spoiler?) is starting to get depressed living the same day over and over again and is waking up again in the same spot in his bed no matter how many times he commits suicide, literally would “kill himself” in one part of the stage and somehow, a second later, wake up in his bed in the middle of the stage. The choreography does such an artful job of keeping your eyes focused on certain aspects that it’s like you are watching a Hollywood movie and Phil is literally teleporting around the stage. Likewise, the song “Nobody Cares” had by far the most creative and funniest car-chase-scene I have ever seen on a stage. The creativity is off the charts.

Of course, I can’t talk about a musical without talking about the music. It’s a wonderful blend of Rock and Pop and classic Jazz and Broadway tunes all in one. The beginning “Overture” starts off with a tune you’re just going to wish kept going on and on. The harmonies are some of the best I’ve heard on Broadway and the lyrics, such as in the hilariously catchy song “Stuck” or (my favorite) “If I Had My Time Again”, are absolutely brilliant. For those who don’t listen to Broadway music often, I would say this soundtrack does such a great job of combining genres that it is a great first soundtrack to listen to if you want to get into listening to Broadway music.

Another great thing about this cast is how diverse it is. Broadway has a reputation for being very white, and it would have been easy for the show to mirror the cast of the original movie, but they chose not to do that. This article goes into much more detail on the show’s diversity, but in summary, the cast consists of a female-lead-of-color, an Indian actor, and Asian actor, and fuller figured performers.

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Speaking of the cast, they are all incredibly nice. Most of them came out to the Stage Door after the show to greet fans waiting for them – I don’t think I have ever gotten as many signatures at a stage door. They were all super friendly and I had a great short conversation with Vishal Vaidya about how he had once performed with the Hulabahoos, an a capella group at my University. I had a great conversation with lead Andy Karl about his hysterical interview on Side by Side with Susan Blackwell and lead Barrett Doss was incredibly grateful to meet all of us (making sure she got to spend some time with each and every person who was waiting). I witnessed several members of the cast being incredibly kind and patient in their conversations with some younger fans who were a bit shy to talk with them – speaks a lot to their great character.  By far one of my more memorable “Stage Dooring” experiences.

It’s unfortunate that this show ended its Broadway run so soon, especially before its first show on Groundhog Day. I feel like they didn’t really perform their most appealing/mainstream songs at the Tony Awards and in their Good Morning America performance, which were missed marketing opportunities in my eyes. It’s a shame, because I think this is a show that really will appeal to all audiences and has a real powerful lesson to teach.

But overall, the cast is incredibly talented, the story is emotional, the lessons learned are powerful, and the music provides some of the best harmonies on Broadway today. I definitely recommend watching this musical if you ever get a chance in London or on its tour – over and over and over again!

Best part is – I bought a shirt that I’m pretty much going to be wearing every February 2nd for the rest of my life.

The album is available on Spotify – definitely give it a listen!

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Honey Pig: Centreville Korean BBQ by the Dish

Honeypig Food

RESTAURANT:  Honey Pig Korean BBQ Centreville 

DATE OF VISIT: 7/2/17

ADDRESS: 13818-B Braddock Rd Centreville, VA 20121 (Four locations in the DMV area)

GENRE: Korean BBQ

VENUE: The restaurant is a lot larger than expected. Industrial feel and loud.

Honeypig Meat on Grill

Meat on the grill — they will help cook it for you!

GENERAL:  Getting seated was an efficient process. Picked up a ticket and waited for my number to appear on the LED-screen. Only took a few minutes. At this Korean BBQ restaurant you order appetizers and meat by the plate and the servers will come and cook the meat for you on the grill.

AFFORDABILITY: This is a tough question. I am a big fan of Korean BBQ and often go to the all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ restaurants which often are around $25 to $30. I spent $25 here at Honey Pig and was definitely filled and the food was delicious. Some parts were definitely tastier than the all-you-can-eat restaurants, but I don’t know if that really justifies coming here and spending as much or more for less variety than the Korean BBQ buffets. Might be more worthwhile for larger groups of people who aren’t looking to get absolutely stuffed.

THE FOOD: We ordered Seafood Pancake and for our meat, my friend and I shared the boneless rib. We also both had rice, which is a little extra money.

Honeypig Banchan

Banchan

The meal comes with Banchan which are Korean side dishes that often are free at Korean BBQ joints. They vary per restaurant, but the ones here felt pretty standard for the area. The kimchi was definitely the best I have had! The salad, steamed egg, mashed potatoes, and sauces were also great.

Honeypig Seafood Pancake

Seafood Pancake

The Seafood Pancake was the size of a small pizza, definitely way bigger than expected. It tasted absolutely great; super filling and a great amount of seafood in the pancake. Crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Definitely will order again.

The meat tasted great too! It was cooked just right, not too chewy and not too tough.

ACCOMODATIONS: It is a Korean BBQ restaurant but there are vegetarian options for those who need them.

OVERALL: Enjoyed this restaurant a ton and do recommend! Many of the side dishes and the food was definitely high-quality; I probably enjoyed it more than some of the all-you-can-eat Korean barbecues.

Though with the comparable prices and the lack of variety, I don’t know if I can justify coming here too often unless I definitely know I do not want to eat a buffet. At least not without a large group of people. May return for that Seafood Pancake though, absolutely delicious!

I hear they give out Groupons a lot, so that definitely might make it worthwhile.

Chopt: Charlottesville Chopt Salad Yumminess

Kebab CobbRESTAURANT:  Chop’t Creative Salad Company

DATE OF VISIT: 8/15/17 (Second Day of Opening)

ADDRESS: Barracks Road Shopping Center (1117 Emmet Street, Charlottesville, VA 22903)

GENRE: Salad

AFFORDABILITY: Most of the entrees are around $10. I wouldn’t necessarily call it cheap, but the quantity is filling and the variety of options is really nice.

PARKING: Plenty of parking around Barracks Shopping Center

VENUE: Chop’t just had its grand opening a few days ago. If you’ve ever been to a Chopt in DC or NYC, the first thing you will notice is that this Charlottesville Chopt is MASSIVE. Definitely a different experience than you would have if you have been to one in a city. There is seating outside and inside there are several tables and booths as well. Everything is very clean and sleek and the fabric in the booths was really nice too. The only potentially confusing part is that a lot of people may enter from the side door and not the main entrance.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

GENERAL: The minute we walked in we were greeted by someone explaining how ordering works and the menu. Another employee also checked up on us while in line and the manager did twice: in line and also while we were dining. Multiple employees came by to pick up our finished dishes while we were dining or to ask if we wanted more free bread. Even while ordering, employees would always ask if we wanted more sauce or our salad chopped more finely. Everyone was super friendly and it was a great first impression to have of the restaurant.

chopt options

So many fresh options!

How it works is you can make your own salad or choose one of the many preset combinations. They will put the salad materials in a bowl and hand you a ticket (that you later hand to the cashier when you pay) and will then lead you to a chopping station.

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My Kebab Cobb, waiting to be “Chopt”

At the chopping station they slice-and-dice your salad however fine you would like it (don’t have to chop it if you don’t want) and add the dressing.

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Chop chop chop chop chop!!

At the cash register, at least that day, they were giving out free pieces of bread. Again, everyone was super friendly.

THE FOOD: I ordered the Kebab Cobb because I love Tzatziki and Pita Chips and Feta in my salads. I got it double chopped (in my opinion, the more chopped the better, I was just too excited to eat to get it even more chopped) and with extra Tzatziki. It was absolutely delicious. Mixed well you would get a little bit of every flavor in every bite, which is the advantage of the chopping. And the flavors were definitely strong. The rich Tazatziki balanced out the spicy peppers really well and the Pita Chips added a nice crunch – a much appreciated change in texture to the rest of the salad. I definitely 100% recommend. Especially if you love the “El Jefe” at Roots. Very different from the El Jefe, but it has the pita chips and feta which will remind you of it.

My friends also enjoyed their salads, the Smoky Santa Cruz and Spicy Santorini (pictures below)

ACCOMODATIONS: You can customize to your heart’s content. They have so many different add-ins and options. Just let them know you have food restrictions and they will work with you.

OVERALL: I always think when you get to watch your food being made, the experience is heightened. That mantra stayed true at this restaurant. Tasty food, decent price, decent portions, friendly employees. I couldn’t ask for much more.

A lot of local college students may be wondering “how does it compare to Roots?” I think they are both different. While they have some overlap in selling salad based food, I think the chopped salad experience and the options are just very different from what you find at Roots.

Be sure to follow me on instagram @ananteaterblog or subscribe to the blog’s email updates! Check me out on yelp too!

Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot: Sweetest Sensation in Historic Clifton

petersons.jpgRESTAURANT: Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot

DATE OF VISIT: 7/23/17

ADDRESS: 7150 Main St, Clifton, VA 20124

GENRE: Ice Cream

AFFORDABILITY: One of the more affordable ice cream places in my opinion and the scoops are quite large. Pro-tip: If you want to save some money, ask for two scoops and an extra cup – it’s fairly easy to move one scoop to another cup. I’ve seen many people do it successfully!

PARKING: There is a parking lot across the street and also street parking. Can get full at times, but usually you’ll be able to find some parking.

VENUE: On warm summer nights you will suddenly see masses huddle towards the side of a (seemingly random) house. This house is the wonderful Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot. You order from one window, pick-up from another. There is seating behind the house and towards the side along with a water jug with which you can wash the stickiness from your fingers if needed. The best word to describe it all is historic charm. Not sleek, not new, but that’s not why you come, you come for the charm and home-y-ness (and of course, the delicious ice cream).

GENERAL: Service it typically fast. You have local high-school students and college students often times working there, so on Yelp you’ll find the occasional complaint about a slip-up. But my experience was great; the people are super friendly. I’ve also had their ice cream at several events (through their catering service) and have always met friendly people and delicious ice cream, no complaint.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly. They have a restroom inside the building that can be accessed through the side door.

THE FOOD: Peterson’s has Ice Cream, Shakes & Malts, Gelato, Sorbet, Soft Serve, and even some food (Hot Dogs, Fries, and Sandwiches).

Many flavors also are not listed on their website – I ordered a scoop of the Happy Ending flavored ice cream and that definitely left me happy.

The texture is absolutely perfect – soft and easy to eat with some chewy bits that melted in my mouth. It wasn’t too sweet either. I have pretty high standards for ice cream, and honestly it was some of the best I have ever had.

OVERALL: You have to try Peterson’s at least one – if not for the ice cream then simply for the charm of Historic Clifton. Could not be happier with my experience. I am definitely going to come back every time I am in Clifton!

Be sure to follow me on instagram @ananteaterblog or subscribe to the blog’s email updates! Check me out on yelp too!

Iron Ice: “Edible Bubble Wrap” Waffle Ice Cream

IronIceRESTAURANT:  Iron Ice

ADDRESS: 13814-D Braddock Rd Centreville, VA 20121

GENRE: Ice Cream (Puffle Ice Cream)

AFFORDABILITY: The Puffle Ice Cream creations are $6.50 each, which sounds a bit pricey. But the scoops of ice cream are fairly large and the puffle cone is filling as well. It is a novelty item, but I wouldn’t say its ridiculously overpriced, especially when you start comparing it to Monster Roll, Snocream, Ben & Jerry’s, Coldstone’s, etc.

PARKING: Large shared parking lot in the shopping complex.

VENUE: Iron Ice has a cute venue. It’s not super large, but there is limited barstool and table seating. It’s white and sleek but also homey which gives it a nice atmosphere. At busy times it’ll definitely be tough to find a seat, which can be a bit frustrating.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

GENERAL: I think the main attraction is, other than trying ice cream in a puffle cone, is “ordering for the Instagram”. Iron Ice does a good job of making their product look good, which is really awesome. You can order from a list of preset creations or create your own. They also sometimes have special seasonal creations.

Iron Ice also sells chillers which are drinks in bags/puches – think like sweet fruit juices or capri suns – super popular among my friends and fairly tasty too.

What is a “puffle cone”? It is based off of a Hong Kong egg waffle. As the Washington Post put it, “Instead of a Belgian waffle’s grid, a bubble waffle, or egg waffle, consists of an interconnected hive of spheres. Think bubble wrap, but edible (and much less noisy).”

THE FOOD: I’m always a big fan of Fruity Pebbles on ice cream because they are colorful and add a great crunch.

It was a bit tricky to eat at first because the warm puffle starts melting the ice cream fast. Definitely eat the top of the ice cream quickly and then I would recommend taking out the whole puffle cone and eating it like a taco.

The puffle cone itself was soft, fluffy, and absorbed the ice cream drip well. Really enjoyed it.

The cookies & cream ice cream itself was pretty good too. I wouldn’t say it was amazing, but it was good enough quality. Maybe mine was a little bit icier than I would have liked or the texture, which was easy to scoop, was still a bit crispy. The strawberry ice cream was a little bit smoother, but again, that could have just been because I had a bite of that a little later.

I think the warm puffle made up for it and honestly it was really filling all together.

ACCOMODATIONS: Had options that didn’t contain either chocolates or fruit or nuts.

OVERALL: Overall I recommend trying Iron Ice, at least once! I could see myself coming back in the future because it was a tasty and filling dessert and a great place to bring friends who want to try something different. Just don’t expect to find room to sit inside the restaurant.

Be sure to follow me on instagram @ananteaterblog or subscribe to the blog’s email updates! Check me out on yelp too!

Monster Roll Ice Cream: Rolled Ice Cream Bliss that won’t Break the Bank

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RESTAURANT:  Monster Roll Ice Cream

DATE OF VISIT: 7/30/17 (Second Day of Opening)

ADDRESS: Fair Oaks Mall in Fair Lakes, Fairfax, VA – 2nd floor between Sears and Auntie Anne’s (Across Finish Line and Journey’s)

GENRE: Ice Cream (Thai Ice Cream/Rolled Ice Cream)

AFFORDABILITY: $5.95 per ice cream order with up to 3 toppings and unlimited drizzles. Sounds sort of pricey, but the quantity is good, and it really isn’t that much more expensive than Coldstone’s or Ben & Jerry’s. Also, it’s a little bit cheaper than what you would get from similar restaurants in New York City.

PARKING: Plenty of parking around the mall.

Monster Roll venue

One side of the venue

VENUE: Monster Roll just had its grand opening two days ago after two weeks of a soft opening. It’s a sleek grab’n’go ice cream place with a small bench on the side of the wall that can seat a few people. There are also three viewing stations to watch the employees make your rolled ice cream, which was cool (everyone had their phones out recording the experience). It was really sleek and new but I was slightly disappointed that the venue wasn’t bigger and there wasn’t more seating, as there isn’t immediate seating outside the venue either. I don’t think the layout was the most efficient use of space in terms of flow of purchasing, watching, waiting, and seating. Perhaps a bigger location would have been better. But it still worked out well enough!

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly.

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Rolled perfection!

GENERAL: Overall I was very impressed. It does take a few minutes for your ice cream to be made, but you get to watch it happen which is part of the experience you are paying for. Lines moved quickly and they had plenty of employees to make sure everything was running smoothly.

I think there can be some trickiness in terms of ordering the right toppings and drizzles. Some toppings and drizzles go better with some flavors than others. Flavors ranged from Smores and Oreos to fruitier ones like Strawberry to more Asian ones like Thai Tea, Green Tea/Matcha, and Lychee.

A lot of people are also going here for the Instagram picture. Because there really is no set formula to how the toppings and drizzle are added as there is so much variability to each order, the ice creams themselves may not have the most artistic appearance (something other Ice Cream stores like Iron Ice pride themselves on – I actually moved around the pocky sticks in my above picture to make the photo a little more interesting). Some orders may look empty and others messy. Not necessarily a drawback, but just something to keep in mind when ordering if you are doing it for the Instagram.

THE FOOD: I will admit I ordered something I thought would picture well, but it also happened to taste amazing which was a huge plus.

I ordered the Strawberry Lane ice cream (Strawberry-Blueberry ice cream) with Pocky Sticks, fresh strawberries, and fruity pebbles as my toppings and both strawberry drizzle and whipped cream as my drizzles.

 

 

It was super awesome to watch them make it, crushing fresh strawberries and blueberries, getting me more and more excited to eat it. When I took my first bite, I was genuinely surprised. It tasted really really good! First and foremost, it was fresh, which is a huge plus. I think the strawberry drizzle and fruity pebbles really paired well with the Strawberry Lane flavor – wasn’t too sweet but still hit the sweet spot. The ice cream wasn’t too hard and the texture was light and fairly fluffy, which was really nice. The fruity pebbles added a nice crunch that wasn’t too sweet either while another nice texture to the overall experience.

The Pocky sticks really didn’t add anything to the ice cream, but the Pocky along with the fruity pebbles made for a really colorful and dynamic picture.

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My Mom’s Cheesecake Flavor with Graham Crackers, Strawberries, Blueberries and Strawberry Drizzle

I also tried the Lychee and Cheesecake flavors. Both tasted good, not as good as the combo I described above, but definitely still good. The ice cream is high quality, which I really appreciated.

ACCOMODATIONS: Had options that didn’t contain either chocolates or fruit or nuts.

OVERALL: Fun experience to watch freshly made Thai Rolled Ice Cream made in front of you and tasted delicious too! Honestly couldn’t ask for much more than perhaps some closer seating. I definitely recommend trying it at least once!

I personally think the fruitier and more Asian flavors will be easier to match toppings and drizzles with, so if you are unsure, go with one of those flavors!

 

Four Sisters Grill: Best Pork I’ve Had

Four Sisters Grill

RESTAURANT:  Four Sisters Grill

DATE OF VISIT: 6/3/17

ADDRESS: 3035 Clarendon Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201 (right outside the Clarendon Metro Station, WMATA Orange/Blue/Silver line)

GENRE: Vietnamese Food

AFFORDABILITY: Entrees are under $10 and are filling!

PARKING: Limited paid street parking available on streets nearby.

VENUE: The restaurant itself is really nice. Great for casual lunch or something a little bit more formal. The interiors are well-done and there is outdoor eating space as well. You walk in and order your food, similar to a deli, and then have the option to take a seat at the table and have a server wait on you or just leave with your food.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly. Did not take note if there were gender neutral bathrooms.

GENERAL: Overall very impressed with the restaurant! When I ordered my Banh Mi, it was very nice of the cashier to double-check if I wanted jalapenos in my Banh Mi (as I bet a lot of people probably don’t want that spice). Although my friends all ordered our food to-go, we decided to sit outside. A server brought our “smoothies” outside which was really nice. There was a mishap with an order – accidentally brought out coconut water instead of a coconut smoothie with bubbles but they took care of it and resolved the problem super professionally and quickly. And a server came by and brought us sauces even though we weren’t officially “dining-in” which was very awesome.

THE FOOD: I ate the Bánh Mì Thịt Nướng (Grilled Pork Sandwhich) and a Large “Mango Smoothie with Bubbles”.

When I opened the Pork Banh Mi, it was so much larger than I expected and I appreciated that. It was by far the BEST BANH MI I have ever had. The pork had such a delectable flavor, I honestly can’t stop thinking about it. It. Was. So. Good. The onions were very fresh and the bread was moist. It was a great amalgamation of textures and flavors, I strongly recommend.

The “Mango Smoothie with Bubbles” was comparable to a Mango Slush bubble tea you could order elsewhere EXCEPT it was clear how fresh the mangos were. I like to think of myself as a bit of a mango aficionado and I could really tell the freshness and the quality of the mango used and I appreciated that. I ordered a large, which was 24 ounces for a really great price. Super refreshing. I only wished there were more bubbles.

I honestly feel like every time I go I would order the same thing, but maybe ask for more bubbles in the “smoothie”.

ACCOMODATIONS: Had Vegetarian and Gluten-Free options.

OVERALL: Wonderful experience. Parking nearby. Fresh and scrumptious food. Filling portions. Really well-kept venue. I plan on coming back and 100% recommend!