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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

 

Fry’s Spring Station: UVA Gem on JPA

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RESTAURANT: Fry’s Spring Station

DATE OF VISIT: 5/1/17 and 5/12/17

ADDRESS: 2115 Jefferson Park Avenue (corner of JPA and Alderman, near the Jefferson Scholars’ Foundation Building) right on the Inner/Outer Loops

GENRE: “Industrial-styled” Pizza and Italian Eats

AFFORDABILITY: For the amount and quality of food, it definitely is on the affordable end for college students looking for a great sit down restaurant to bring family, friends, dates, etc. Entrees in the $10 to $15 range with a great amount of food.

PARKING: Free parking along parts of JPA and also across the street at the other shopping complexes.

VENUE: Casual, great for families, but can also be fancy. Does offer a fine drink selection with wine and beer for those interested and fancier options.

GENERAL: Fry’s Spring Station is definitely one of those gems near grounds that I think is super underrated. I had always heard amazing things about their brunch, but was super excited to go for dinner there twice in early May. A fire station turned restaurant definitely gives the restaurant a cool look. It was pouring rain both times I went, so I couldn’t eat outside, but they open the “garage” doors when the weather is nice giving the restaurant a cool indoor/outdoor feel. The staff is super friendly and both times the food arrived fairly quickly. Also cool that they have some high tables with board games making it for a fun time with friends depending on what you are looking for.

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

THE FOOD: For Appetizer, I strongly recommend the Angry Grandma. Cheese curds (or wings) smothered in a sauce, topped with radishes, cilantro, scallions, fried chili crisps, and a great ranch dipping sauce. Cheese curds are absolutely delicious and were a great way to start the meal (how can you go wrong with fried cheese?) The radishes provided the perfect complement with a great sour taste that somehow my friends and I could not get enough of.

The first time I went I ordered the Funghitown pizza (Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, White Sauce, House Mozzarella, Arugula) and the second time I ordered a Margherita (Housemade Mozzarella, Crushed Tomato, Basil, Olive Oil).

The Funghitown was definitely delicious. I had to take a little less than half home because it was so filling. There is a lot of Arugula on top, but easy to pick-off if you are not a fan. The caramelized onions provided the perfect balance of sweet with the savory of the scrumptious white sauce. The mushrooms were a flavorful addition that definitely helped make it a filling meal.

The Margherita was a lot sweeter than I expected, but was definitely a solid gourmet pizza and I would eat it again. The homemade mozzarella was super fresh and the olive oil was not too overbearing.  Don’t expect to take leftovers because it is a lot less dense, which was a little bit disappointing after having eaten such a filling Funghitown the week before (I love leftovers!), but still a tasty option that I would eat again.

For dessert both times I ordered the Fried Pizza Dough. Essentially glazed strips of donuts made from pizza dough (definitely have a taste difference from donuts though so don’t think you’re just ordering classic Krispy Kreme’s or something like that); they were absolutely delicious. Warm and fresh from the fryer, they came with a silky mocha-nutella dipping sauce that complemented it super well. Honestly, I think I’m probably just going to order the Fried Pizza Dough to-go whenever I want a sweet bite because it is so good.

I think next time I go, I definitely want to check out their drink selection. What’s cool is, even though they have a ton of alcoholic drinks, they have a fairly sizable and somewhat-unique non-alcoholic beverage section. I’m looking forward to trying some of those out! Also I hear a lot about their brunch selection, so I definitely want to check that out as well.

OVERALL: You’ll most definitely find something you’ll want to eat and leave with both your stomach and wallet happy. Again, a well-kept, versatile place to just eat a decent meal at a decent price with friends or loved ones. Super close to grounds and honestly a much better ambiance than many places on the corner (also probably easier to find free parking nearby).

The Kati Roll Company: A Taste of the Streets of India in NYC

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RESTAURANT:  The Kati Roll Company

DATE OF VISIT: 5/15/17

ADDRESS: 49 West 39th Street New York, NY 10018 (Four locations in Manhattan)

GENRE: Indian Food

AFFORDABILITY: I personally think the tastiest roll is the most affordable, so it worked out well for me. Can get a little bit pricey, but eating two or three rolls plus a drink would be very filling and come out to a good price for Manhattan.

VENUE: The restaurant itself is your standard New York eatery. Definitely makes you feel like you are in a more rustic, South Asian place with themed murals on the wall, etc. There is some seating if you want to stay and eat, but it’s also super easy to grab some rolls to go.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly. There was a gender neutral restroom.

GENERAL: A group of friends I was with kept saying we had to go here. What is a Kati Roll? In India you’ll find Kati Rolls as street food. They are basically flatbread wraps with an egg (“Anda” or spelled at this restaurant “Unda”) covering and with various fillings. They are sort of comparable to tacos or burritos. At the Kati Roll Company the egg is not included unless mentioned. All the rolls are made with Paratha (a flatbread cooked with ghee i.e. clarified butter) unless you request Roti (normal flatbread). The former in my opinion is much tastier, but both are great.

The service was decently fast. There were a lot of orders coming in so there was a bit of a wait, but definitely couldn’t have been more than seven or ten minutes. The parathas were made fresh, which you could watch happening, so that was very cool. I did not try any of the drinks, but the lassis (think milkshakes but made with a yogurt base instead of milk) looked super fresh and they also had chai (Indian tea), among beer and other beverages.

THE FOOD: I ordered two rolls: The Aloo Masala Roll and the Chicken Tikka Roll.

The Aloo Masala Roll was absolutely delicious. Essentially a roll with potatoes and spices. Reminded me a lot of the type of potatoes you would get ordering a Masala Dosa at an Indian Restaurant. The roll didn’t fall apart and the potatoes were spiced just right – honestly I could just keep eating those. The paratha was nice and crispy and I definitely appreciated that. I will be ordering lots of these in the future.

The Chicken Tikka Roll was a bit of a disappointment. I am definitely a bit harsher when it comes to critiquing Indian food since I grew up in a household with such great Indian cooking, but I just was not as impressed with this roll as I was with the Aloo Masala Roll. The Chicken Tikka Roll kept falling apart and the chicken itself, although the flavor was evident, was not anything too special. I think the size of the pieces and especially the texture and consistency of the chicken also hurt the overall experience with this roll. Though I did save half the roll for the next morning and it did still taste flavorful for breakfast.

ACCOMODATIONS: Has several excellent vegetarian options. Also very cool how you have the option between Paratha and Roti for your bread. I’m sure you could request some other changes if needed.

OVERALL: Definitely do recommend checking this place out! Two to three rolls are affordable, and I strongly recommend making at least one of them an Aloo Masala Roll! I do plan to come back soon!

K-Bap: Little Piece of Korea by Trump Tower

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RESTAURANT:  K-Bap Korean Cuisine

DATE OF VISIT: 5/17/17

ADDRESS: 62 W 56th St New York, NY 10019 (A block from Trump Tower and a few blocks away from Central Park)

GENRE: Korean Food

AFFORDABILITY: Most dishes are around $10

VENUE: It was a cute little Korean eatery with a nice ambience. Mostly a grab’n’go but had some sit down spaces.

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

GENERAL: I was just walking around New York looking for a quick lunch in between obligations and this place looked appealing. It was a nice little eatery with a variety of Korean food options. There was a decent amount of seating for a restaurant of its small size and it seemed to have free miso soup as well which was pretty cool. If you don’t choose the to-go option like I did, there is really nice dishware.

THE FOOD: I ordered a Dumpling Ramyun. I’m not sure why I did, since there were so many other great Korean options and it was really hot that day. It was on the spicy side, and tasted fine for Ramen, but it was literally just Ramen. I don’t think there was really anything special about it except for the vegetables included (and I guess the broth had lots of flavor). The dumplings were tasty, but a lot larger than expected.

I think next time I visit I would order a Bento Box or Bibimbap or Dukbokki. I really do think the food is pretty good here, just that the Ramen was just nothing special in my opinion. Or just a really bad thing to crave on such a hot day (probably perfect for a cold winter day).

ACCOMMODATIONS: Does have vegetarian options.

OVERALL: Decent portions and has some of the more affordable prices for Manhattan. I wasn’t particularly blown away with the Ramen but I think a lot of the other dishes I mentioned above have more potential (other people looked like they had very tasty dishes). Definitely not a bad option and worth a visit!