Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Hobbit's Tale

It was a cold, snowy winter day. We had traveled far and were hungry for something cozy and warming.  When we thought we could go no further, a hobbit hole appeared. It was warm and inviting and smelled of delicious vittles. The name of this establishment...Bilbo Baggins.

In downtown Alexandria, Bilbo Baggins is a little pub that looks like its straight out of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel.  Creaky hardwood floors, small and cozy, wood and stone walls, and good hearty food. Perfect for a cold winter's day.  Superking and I, along with our friend Tierney, were ready for a hobbit's adventure of a meal.

We started with some small plates.  A portobello mushroom cap marinated in pesto, topped with a round of breaded brie cheese and a tomato tapenade and drizzled with a balsamic glaze. Looks pretty elegant for pub food. It was pretty tasty too. Though whats not to like about fried, breaded cheese.

We also had Calamari Fritti...fried calamari served with Thai chili aioli and a papaya relish. The calamari was perfectly cooked, which is quite a feat. It can be tricky to not overcook calamari and not turn it into rubber bands. Who wants to eat rubber bands? Well, Bilbo Baggins did it just right.  The aioli was creamy and spicy. I was not particularly a fan of the papaya relish but it was bright and fresh.

Or how about some buttermilk fried oysters? I used to not really like any oysters, that is until I went to Charleston and some proper ones. I still won't eat the raw ones (its a texture thing...too slimy) but a good fried one or baked one with the right toppings, sure does hit the spot when you're looking for a hearty meal. These at Bilbo's were crispy and briny and served with a nice basil lime aioli.

We also had a taste of a Carolina pulled pork BBQ sandwich, and two kinds of fries. I forgot to take pictures of those, unfortunately. Yucca fries with a  mustard aioli sauce and spicy cilantro fries with a chipotle chili sauce. I'd never had yucca fries but they were thick and salty, and more starchy than regular fries.

After a brisk walk through the old town street shops, we hustled in to one of the old time ice cream parlors...Pops Old Fashioned Ice Cream to be exact.  Even on a cold wintery day, nothing beats a good chocolate peanut butter ice cream!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

One of our favorites things to do when we have time off is to go on food adventures, trying out unique restaurants and foods, and particularly if its a new place we are trying!

Pablo is ready for his adventure!

We've been wanting to hit Astro's Doughnuts and Fried Chicken for quite a while and on a whim at the last moment, we decided this was the place to go for brunch one Saturday morning. You see, we had slept in kinda late that morning which was perfect timing for Astro's since they don't start serving the chicken til after 11am and you can't go there and NOT get BOTH the chicken AND the donuts!

those 2 tables outside the restaurant were the only seating and they were full!

We lucked out and got easy parking right out front! This place is tiny! Literally only a counter with barely enough space on one side for customers and on the other side for employees. They also have a food truck in DC! We asked them "where do you cook the chicken and bake the donuts in this place??" Apparently they have a kitchen area in the basement of the building they're in and they use a dumb waiter to transport the food up to the counter! Pretty clever and unique!

*Pablo licks his lips in anticipation*

Their menu is short and simple...donuts, chicken, drinks.  But it is worth the trip! There's something to be said for keeping things simple and doing it really well and thats what they do here at Astro's.  For their chicken, you can get either tenders, 2pc white meat, 2 pc dark meat, or even a half or full chicken! Superking did the 2pc white meat and I went for the tenders which came with your choice of sauce. I chose buffalo. Tangy and spicy!

For their donuts, they have flavors like creme brûlée, maple bacon, passionfruit, and PB&J.  We opted for Vanilla Glaze and Nutella. They are light and yeasty, sweet but not too rich, and absolutely delicious!

"A" for Astro's...Vanilla Glaze


You might think chicken and donuts are a strange combination but its really not much different than chicken and waffles which is a Southern staple. Except this might be better! And it might sound weird but the combination of the vanilla donut and the chicken tender with buffalo sauce in the same bite was remarkably complementary!! Not the healthiest of breakfasts but completely delicious and satisfying none the less!

Because the only seating they had was full, we parked ourselves on the curb and had a picnic of sorts! Good thing this was a no parking zone and it wasn't super cold outside!

We had a lovely view of an old church across the street that reminded us it was still alive and well by ringing its bell very loudly! 

Even Pablo agreed that Astro's deserved at least 4 ants!!