My first vlog! And it’s about rats.

Don’t worry, I know about/am fine with the fact that i’m both embarrassing and weird.

Haters gon’ hate

To begin with a little background info: Steak N’ Shake is a 50s diner-themed fast food sit-down restaurant, offering typical diner fare of burgers, fries, malts, shakes, and sandwiches (For anyone who has been to Johnny Rockets before, the concept is relatively the same, though in my experience, Steak N Shake is cheaper). Most recently, Steak N Shake has opened a brand new location in the Fredericksburg area on route 1 south of UMW. Interestingly, this is the only Steak N Shake location in the entire mid-atlantic, with the majority of the restaurants concentrated in the mid-west and southeastern US

The food at Steak N Shake is sub-par to average at best. Everything is more or less dripping with grease (soggy, in some cases) and usually includes bacon (if a heart-attack on a plate doesn’t sound appealing to you, avoid Steak N Shake). However, the food is cheap, and portions are relatively large. Something else to keep in mind, is that the restaurant offers an extremely limited menu selection, with no entree-type vegetarian options (which I suppose can be expected of a restaurant specializing in hamburgers).

Being a chicken-tarian myself(I don’t eat beef or pork), I suppose my review carries less weight, since I’ve never actually tasted the burgers.
What I have ordered, are the cheese fries, a chocolate malt, and the chicken (chic-fil-a type) sandwich. For the cheese fries, expect an ample portion of shoestring cut fries, covered in nacho-style cheese (the kind that comes out of the pump at the movie theatre/carnival). You’re also provided vinegar/pepper sauce, which I would recommend  adding to the fries if you enjoy a spicy flavor. Otherwise, the dish is overpowered by a nacho-like flavor.

The malts are also subpar. For about $3 you do get a large glass/malt container full of shake/malt, but unfortunately, there’s nothing too impressive about the “Shake” portion of “Steak N’ Shake”. You may pay about a full dollar more for a milkshake at another restaurant, but I would argue that you’re likely also getting at least a standard quality shake. At Steak N’ Shake, your $3 will get you a comparatively subpar glass of disappointment.

Finally, I would say that the chicken sandwich is a brightspot on the non-burger portion of the menu that I have experience with. The fillet is breaded and fried, and the quality similar to a McDonalds or Wendy’s type chicken sandwich. The price is also comparable to that of other fastfood restaurants (except for Chic-Fil-A, which is slightly cheaper and in my opinion, considerably better).

Overall, I would encourage trying out Steak N Shake at least once, and to definitely try the burgers, since there’s a possibility they may be uncharacteristically outstanding. I would also admit that Steak N’ Shake is more or less an example of “you get what you pay for” (cheap prices=cheap quality food), and may be a good option for a greasy, cheap midnight snack with friends (open until 2AM).

 

With so much awesome new pop music coming at us in all directions from the likes of Lady Gaga, Chris Brown, and Britney Spears practically everyday for the past month, there’s one new artist from across the pond making an impressionable attempt at standing out from the rest of the crowd.
Her name is Jessie J, a producer-turned solo artist with the vocal pipes of Christina Aguilera, a penchant for creative uniqueness akin to Lady Gaga, and an affinity for mixing rock, pop, and dance sounds into their own subgenre, reminiscent of P!nk.

I’ll let the music/music video speak for itself here, but my personal opinion is that 1. Jessie J needs to come on tour in the USA and B., the rest of the the country should watch this soon-to-be rising star carefully. She’s already been featured on the today show, Ellen, and even the platform of NY’s Times Square subway station, but what she brings to the table is an impressive level of disctinctiveness and talent that could put her in the running with Ke$ha, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry for the title of Pop Princess.

Jessie J – Nobody’s Perfect

 

 

So I just realized after a closer reading of the instructions for this project that we were supposed to have a mid-project update on our progress. Sorry! I dropped the ball on that one. I will say that mid-project the biggest problem that I had was finding a middle ground between what I was capable of/what I wanted. I tried for most of the past couple weeks to mashup 2 songs, but I’m too inexperienced with garageband and audacity, and I couldn’t figure out how to remove the chorus from portions of one song so that I could overlay it with the other. Anyways, what I settled on was a video mashup, where I wanted to take the intro of a modern cartoon and substitute the theme music for the intro theme to a classic TV show. Ideally, this would give the modern cartoon a classic feel and make it indistinguishable as a contemporary cartoon.
I did a little experimentation with spongebob/1920s ragtime, but it wasn’t very cohesive. So what I did, was switch cartoons (settling on the Fairly Odd Parents from Nickelodeon) and replace the original audio for Fairly Odd Parents’ theme music with the music from Bewtiched (which I had to cut up and reorder to make it fit the video)

Here is the end result:

Sorry, this review is one from a while back that I just hadn’t finished yet and was sitting in the “drafts” section of my dashboard. I’m still planning on doing Steak N Shake as the next review, so don’t worry. This time I’ve chosen not to post on yelp, since the restaurant is part of a Chain that’s been around since the 90s (well established) in Northern Virginia. The restaurant is new to the UMW area though, and I recently visited the new location. What i’ll do, however, is provide a general overview of my experience eating at the chain as a whole, so you all can base your decision on whether or not you’ll try it from multiple years-worth of dining experiences!

Glory Days is chain sports bar and grill from Northern Virginia that’s just recently opened up their newest location here in Fredericksburg (Route 1 South from UMW in Cosner’s Corner Shopping center-on the left). The restaurant offers a variety of grill/bar food, ranging from steak and burgers to fish, pasta, or salads, and has recently expanded its menu to include less standard items such as pizza (at least in some NoVA locations) and chicken parmesan.

Having lived near a Glory Days for about a decade, I’ve tried nearly everything on their “classic” menu, but i’ve yet to order any of the newer items like the Italian fare (sorry. I stick to what I like). Since there’s far too many “classic” dishes that i’m used to ordering, I’ll try to suggest menu options that I feel would give the best sampling of the food to any first-timers.

What i’d highly recommend starting out with is the Cheese Fries. You can decide between either a half order (half a full plate) or a full order (a heaping mound that fills the plate) of regular-cut french fries covered in Monterey and Cheddar cheese and sprinkled with little pieces of bacon and slices of onion (though I always order mine without onions). Really, the cheese fries are a favorite for a reason. They’re cheesy, greasy, good, and filling (so don’t load up if this is just your appetizer).

Another good appetizer option is the boneless wings, which come in your choice of one of the 3 sauces available (“asian”, buffalo, and “glory”). My personal favorite are the buffalo, but the sauce is meant to have a kick, and has a vinegar-like flavor to it, so I’d recommend “glory” next, which is the restaurants’ original sauce (basically a standard bbq flavor). What’s really great about Glory Days though, is that in select locations, Wednesday nights are “Wing Night” where wings are reduced price. I know this special offer is available at the Reston and Sterling locations in NoVA for sure, but it’s unfortunately not offered in Fredericksburg (I asked).

For entrees, I’d stick with one of the restaurant’s burgers, specifically either the Cheeseburger Trifecta (Swiss, Cheddar, and Provologne) or the Swiss, Mushroom, Onion Burger. Burgers are some of the cheapest selections on the menu (around $8), and I consider them to be one of the strongest menu options (offered in an interesting variety of types/specialties at an above decent quality, for a good price).

If you prefer chicken and still want some greasy, filling, bar food, the chicken tenders platter is another one of my favorites entree-wise. At most locations (for some reason, the Fredericksburg Glory Days serves much smaller portions than the others), you’ll get 5ish good-sized fried tenders with a side of choice (vegetables, fries, sweet potato fries, etc.) that are great for dipping in the Glory Days bbq sauce.

Finally, for dessert, my FAVORITE dish is the fresh cobbler. The flavor of the cobbler will depend on availability, but when they have cherry, i’ll order it (i’m not so big on apple. blueberry is decent). Really, the cobbler at Glory Days is just as good as something you’d expect your southern great-aunt or grandma to make for dessert (an estimation i’m basing on speculation, since I don’t have any firsthand experience with cobbler made by relatives whatsoever). So I guess, it’s more or less what I’d imagine someone else’s great-grandmother would make.

Anyways, overall Glory Days is the type of place i’d expect to become a local hangout and a regular dining location if you find one opening in your neighborhood, and it’s certainly worth a try if you happen to be passing one on the road.

 

http://www.glorydaysgrill.com/#

Step 1: Obtain Double Stuf Golden Oreos (Or similar off-brand vanilla sandwich cookies)

Step 2: Get some Nutella or Peanutbutter

Step 3: Dip Golden Oreo in Nutella and/or Peanutbutter

Step 4: Realize your own awesomeness (unhealthychoice-yness?)

 

Ok, so not really cooking. And honestly, this is probably the closest i’ll ever get to becoming a good cook (so sad, isn’t it.) But that’s why they invented takeout, ramen, and all other manner of frozen/instant meals (I like the Indian frozen meals from Trader Joes).

http://www.cravefroyo.com/


Crave Review: This time i’ve got my own pictures! So much fancier right? Maybe for the next review i’ll do a short vlog and post that, so at least the reviews stay somewhat interesting with a varying format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the review:

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/crave-fredericksburg#hrid:EGDxi9afb2uxQew_PV6QqQ

And as usual, posted below:
Crave is a brand new frozen yogurt shop located near the Chic-Fil-A/Verizon store in Central Park. I know I said in one of my first reviews that I wouldn’t be focusing too heavily on the decor of the restaurance (something I strayed from only slightly in the last review, but the inside of Crave is pretty cool. First, the walls are painted in bright green, purple, and a contrasting black, with the ceiling covered in little white bulbs and larger bulb-shaped lamps. The furniture is all black and white, with the chairs made out of a translucent neon-green plastic and chrome. All of this gives the restaurant a futuristic, space-like feel, and I suppose the best way to describe the atmosphere is as being similar to being in the frozen yogurt store of a space station from the future. For any of you children of the 90s, the store is slightly reminiscent of Mondo Burger from the movie Good Burger.

The business model for Crave is one similar to the other Asian-influenced frozen yogurt chains. Just as a general background, the chains RedMango and Iceberry started in Korea as frozen yogurt shops that offered a handful of fruity flavors of frozen yogurt that could be topped with fresh fruit. Those chains have since expanded and influenced new startups in the American market, and we now have RedMango, an American Iceberry, Pinkberry, and YogenFruz (among others). While Iceberry and Yogenfruz can both be found in Northern Virginia at various locations, and places like Pinkberry are mainly in California, as far as I’m aware, Crave is the only (and newest) “Asian-concept” frozen yogurt store in the Fredericksburg Area.

What sets crave apart from its predecessors is the experience. Rather than picking your flavor/size  then being charged a flat price per topping/portion size, Crave is set up to allow complete customization of your frozen yogurt. Customers start at a wall full of frozen yogurt machines, where there’s a diverse variety of flavors (around 24 in all), ranging from pink lemonade to “birthday cake” (compared to the standard 3-5 that places like Iceberry and YogenFruz offer).

After picking your flavor, you’re encouraged to fill your (extremely large) cup as much as you want, then pick from an overabundance of toppings (these are separated between a fresh fruit topping bar, and a standard ice cream topping bar, which offers gummy bears, sprinkles, etc.). You can also go completely toppingless, as I did (see the pictures above). Be warned, though. The catch is that once you’ve assembled your ideal frozen yogurt sundae (which is a strange/original concept in itself), your cup will be weighed and charged by the ounce. A regular sized portion, comparable to the “medium” sizes at other similar frozen yogurt places will run you about $5 (which is pretty standard cost), but if you’re not careful with your toppings and yogurt serving, you’ll easily overshoot this price.

While variety and customizability are the clear strengths of crave, I found the yogurt itself to be decent, but not above average. The constistency of the yogurt seemed slightly watery, and was a lot closer to a sugary watery-based thickness, rather than the more cream/milk based consistency typical of most frozen yogurt. The difference was similar to the difference between sherbet (which seems more juice-based) and gelato (which tastes more cream-based). While this didn’t necessarily make the yogurt worse than that of other frozen yogurts, it was unexpected given that crave brands itself as “frozen yogurt”, and seems to follow such a similar model to Iceberry, Pinkberry, etc.

Overall, I suppose I was expecting something…well…more yogurt-ey. For this reason, I think i’d personally  prefer to spend my $5 at Iceberry or Yogenfruz for regular froyo consumption, but it might just be that I’m comparing Crave to what i’m used to (Iceberry-my favorite), rather than reviewing it stand-alone. In the end though, I would still definitely encourage anyone who hasn’t yet tried Crave to go, since the experience is unique, and this is more or less the only frozen yogurt place of its type in the area.

 

Next review: Steak N’ Shake