Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pawley’s Front Porch (Columbia, SC)

827 Harden St, Columbia, SC 29205

Pawley’s Front Porch is a kind of sports bar with an odd porch on quite a busy street in the Five Points area of Columbia, South Carolina. It is famous for its burgers, which they serve in about 10 different and quite original varieties. Given its reputation, I have quite high expectations.

I get the Wadmalah ($10.75): chipotle BBQ sauce, fried pickle chips, and applewood smoked bacon (no cheddar) on an 8oz burger. While the burger was freshly prepared, it tasted dry and salty. The fries were soggy and undercooked and salty.

VERDICT: 72/100
Disappointing. Seems more an institution than a really good place to eat. Does get an extra point for having a food truck though.

Kim’s Donuts (Evans, GA)

4108 Evans to Locke Road, Evans, GA 30809

Kim’s Donuts is a small donut shop in a strip mall in a small town just outside of Augusta, Georgia. It only sells donuts, some 30 different varieties, mostly classics, including fritters.

I get two (ca. $2): one sugar and one cinnamon. The sugar donut is classic, but fresh and not too sweet. The cinnamon domut is denser and has a thick coating of cinnamon (and, I think, some cocos). It’s very tasty too.

VERDICT: 89/100
Good old-school donut shop

Villa Europa (Augusta, GA)

3044 Dean’s Bridge Road, Augusta, GA, USA

Villa Europa is a European-styled restaurant at the outskirts of Augusta, GA. From the outside it looks like a quite small (and closed) shack. Inside it is dark and kind of German. They have a varied menu with mostly German, but also Italian, French, and US dishes.

I get a Gypsy Schnitzel ($12), which is fresh and tender, covered in a paprika sauce with bell peppers and mushroom. Absolutely delicious with a little kick. The home fries are soft inside but with a bit of a crunch outside.

VERDICT: 90/100

Excellent German food!

Pouch Pies (Athens, GA)

151 E Broad Street, Athens, GA 30608, T: 706-395-6696

Pouch Pies opened up about a half year ago and has as its slogan “A Savory World of Pies.” It serves a broad variety of pies, by and large capturing different cuisines (e.g. English, Indian, Moroccan, Scottish). All pies are $5.50 and all sides are $2.50 - sides include regular thin French fries, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and thick “beer-battered sidewinder fries.” My friends tell me some pies are really good (particularly the Portuguese “Hot Chick”), some not so much.

Normally I have the grilled chicken sandwich, which is an everyday “special.” The chicken is thick and grilled quite juicy and comes with the home chipotle ranch dressing. Today I get the special South African Boerewors Burger (7.50), which comes with caramelized onions and sweet chili sauce (no cheese). The burger is tasty but too dry and salty. Unfortunately, the sauce and onions don't do much for the burger, while the bread is a fairly tasteless pre-baked baguette. Fortunately the side of thick crunchy sidewinder fries doesn't disappoint: crunchy on the outside, soft and potato-y on the inside.

VERDICT: 85/100
While Pouch gets kudos for being original, quality varies too much between options and days.

Sabine’s Coffee Haus & Grill (Lexington, GA)

210 W. Main Street, Lexington, GA 30648, T: 706-743-7777

I had read many good things about Sabine’s Coffee Haus and had tried to eat there earlier, only to find them closed. This time they were open, and completely empty. It took the owner/cook/waiter some 5 minutes to appear! It is a very small restaurant in an only slightly rebuild home. Billed as a German restaurant, I was disappointed to see only two really German items on the menu: Bratwurst and Potato Salad. They were out of the latter.

I got the Bratwurst and M. the Grilled Shrimp PoBoy (together $14). Both came with a small back of chips. Despite is being the only ones there, it took the guy (who lacked personality and service skills) easily 20 minutes to make our food. I saw that the tiny shrimp came straight out of a Kroger frozen foods bag. The buns were stale and had been grilled, which made them even drier. The “PoBoy” was absolutely tasteless. My sausage had a decently authentic taste, but was quite dry and came with mustard and non-German sauerkraut.

VERDICT: 65/100
Definitely one of the biggest disappointments in my Georgia experience.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

B&D Burgers (Savannah, GA)

209 W Congress St, Savannah, GA 31401, T: 912-238-8315

B&D Burgers is a local chain of burger restaurants with currently four locations in Savannah, Georgia. They have been elected “Best Burger in Savannah” since 2001! Their menu features the type of dishes you expect in a burger restaurant slash sports bar, i.e. burgers, salads, sandwiches. However, there are many special items (e.g. Spud Mountain, Wagyu Sliders) and special twists (e.g. habanero jack cheese, fried green tomatoes). In addition to several signature burgers (and sliders), you can also build your own burger. You have choice out of different patties (Angus beef, bison, turkey, elk, bean), buns (white, whole wheat, pretzel, and gluten free), toppings (incl. feta cheese, guacamole), and sides (e.g.  “fry of the week”, applesauce).

I start out with Alligator Fritters (Market Price), which are small crispy deep-fried balls of meat with a odd, soft consistency and not that much taste. The dip sauce has a nice kick to it though. I then build my own burger: 1/2lb Angus beef ($11.99), white bun, Fried Green Tomato (+$0.50), Fresh Jalapenos (+$0.50), Applewood Smoke Bacon (+$1), and Smokey BBQ Sauce (+$0.25). I get it medium and it comes out medium-well, which is not too bad. Overall the burger is really good. Full of taste! The side of B&D fries is quite good too: hand cut, relatively thin, potatoes with light seasoning. M. has The Ellis Square with Turkey ($12.49), which comes with habanero jack cheese, Applewood Smoke Bacon, provolone, and fresh avocado slices. She loves it and says the cheese has a strong kick to it. Her sides are Sweet Potato Fries, which are also good.

VERDICT: 90/100
B&D Burgers is an excellent local chain that serves overall very good, but quite pricey, food.

The Crab Shack (Tybee Island, GA)

40 Estill Hammock Rd, Tybee Island, GA 31328, T: 912-786-9857

The Crab Shack is a Tybee Island institution, so we also visited during a short vacation. It is a huge, mostly outdoors, restaurant with an extremely relaxed, kind of redneck, atmosphere –official motto: “Where the elite eat in their bare feet” (this evening there were some bare feet, but definitely no elite). They serve mostly all kind of crabs, shrimp, and barbeque. They also have a rescue baby alligator pond, which is a nice idea, but it was a bit sad to see the guests annoy the little gators with empty feeding sticks.

As I don’t like seafood, I am going for the BBQ Sandwich ($5.99) with sides of Slaw ($1.99), Sausage ($2.50), and Cup of Brunswick Stew ($3.99). The sandwich is tender pulled pork with their own sauce, which is quite vinegary: tasty. The slaw is very basic, as is the sausage (which the waitress herself says is Hillshire Farm), while the Brunswick Stew is watery with a bit fishy taste. M. had the Half & Half ($21.99), snow crab and shrimp, with sides of corn and slaw. She really liked it.

VERDICT: 85/100

I guess you go to The Crab Shack for the experience first and the crab second. Don’t go for the other food.