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!

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

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!

Melt Shop: Meeting Grilled Cheesus

So this is my first review. I haven’t read many professional reviews nor do I know what these should even look like. I love to eat and always love trying new foods and always have lots of thoughts. So I thought it would be fun to start casually writing about them!

RESTAURANT:  Melt Shop

DATE OF VISIT: 5/16/17

ADDRESS: 877 8th Avenue New York, NY 10019 (Eight Locations Nationwide, mostly in New York)

GENRE: “Comfort Food” (Sandwiches, Tater Tots, Milkshakes, etc.)

AFFORDABILITY: A sandwich is $5-$10 which isn’t too bad for Manhattan. Decent portions that are fairly filling.  

VENUE: A short walk from Times Square in the Midtown West/Hell’s Kitchen area. The inside reminds me of the inside of a lot of new, trendy grab’n’go restaurants you find in cities like DC or NYC: sleek and modern. A few tables and high chairs for seating but you probably won’t find a seat during peak rushes.

From my experience and observations, the restaurant seemed LGBTQ+ and POC friendly. Had a single gender-neutral bathroom with an entry code given to customers (pretty standard for city restaurants like these).

GENERAL: If you are looking for sandwiches in NYC and don’t want to go to a random deli, this is definitely the place for you. A good variety of tasty options that can be taken on the go if need be. The staff was super friendly, patient, and worked fairly fast. The food was made fresh so that was really nice.  The restaurant itself was clean, nice, and sleek; a great place for tasty food after a long bus ride into the city.

THE FOOD: I ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich, Shop Tots, and a Chocolate Truffle Milkshake.

 The Fried Chicken Sandwich was absolutely scrumptious. My biggest concern when ordering it was that the chicken would be soggy, but it was nice and crispy. I’m also not usually a big fan of slaws, but the tangy red cabbage slaw and melt sauce went perfectly with the crispy, hot piece of fried chicken and sourdough bread. Great combination of contrasting flavors – I definitely do recommend!

I ordered the shop tots because how could you not order something called “shop tots” (it’s just so fun to say!). They were your standard tater tots. Not disappointed (but I wouldn’t say they were mind-blowing. if you like tater tots you most definitely will love these shop tots!)

I ordered the Chocolate Truffle Shake just because “Chocolate Truffle” sounded so good. The consistency of the shake was amazing: nice, thick, and creamy. It was too chocolatey for me, but at least the chocolate drizzle around the cup made it look really nice. 

I think next time I go, I would definitely order one of the other four shakes because I feel like there is less chance the flavor would be too strong. And I would definitely order cheesy tots or loaded tots – you can’t go wrong with “Tots covered with stuff”.

ACCOMODATIONS: Vegetarian options available and sandwiches can be substituted with Gluten-Free Bread.

OVERALL: Scrumptious meal with a decent serving size at a decent price (for Manhattan). I could see this being one of my favorite lunch places – I would definitely come back! I strongly recommend The Melt Shop if you’re watching a Broadway show or are visiting Times Square and want a filling meal with a variety of options!