Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hot Chick Takeover (Columbus, OH)

Inside the MAFRE Stadium, One Black & Gold Blvd, Columbus, OH 43211

Hot Chicken Takeover is a restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, which also has a food cart, which frequents the Columbus Crew home games in the MAFRE Stadium. While the restaurant has a slightly broader range of options, the cart only has chicken wings and chicken sandwiches, in different levels of hotness.

I get the Holy Sandwich ($10), which is the hottest they offer. As few people order it, it is freshly made for me. It is two huge pieces of fried chicken, extra hot, with some slaw and pickles on four pieces of soft white bread. It is easily one of the best pieces of fried chicken I have ever eaten and one of the hottest, My face and fingers were still tingling minutes later.

VERDICT: 97/100
As far as food trucks go, this is the max!

First Watch (Charleston, WV)

164 Summer St, Charleston, WV 25301

In it’s own words, First Watch is a US chain serving breakfast, brunch or lunch. Founded in 1983 in California, it currently has over 100 restaurants in 13 states. It prides itself on freshness of the food and social consciousness of the business. It has many different types of omelets, pancakes, salads, etc. 

I am getting the special of the day, the BLT Benedict ($9.79): 2 poached eggs, bacon, avacado, lemon dressed arugola, remoulade, on a toasted ciabatta. It is very messy and very tasty. The bacon is thin and crispy, the eggs runny, the sauce not overpowering, and it all has a bit zesty kick of lemon. The potatoes were diced and baked with onion. A bit undercooked, but still good.

VERDICT: 88/100
An excellent breakfast/lunch chain that is many steps above the usual (IHOP, J. Christopher) and closer to a fresh family restaurant.

Le Diplomate (Washington, DC)

1601 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20009

Le Diplomate is a fairly posh French restaurant in downtown DC. It looks exactly as Americans think/want French restaurants to look like. It serves a typical French menu, but with a specialty of oysters.

As their Hamburger Americaine ($17) makes many lists of top burgers in DC, my friend JC and I came here to try it. It is a double patty with onion, pickles, sauce, on a huge, quite fresh, brioche bun. Overall very tasty, but extremely salty. The French Fries were shoestring fries, tasty, but also very salty. The mayo was quite bad.

VERDICT: 87/100
Definitely a very good burger, but far too salty and far too pricey.

Hot Dog Stand (Washington, DC)

23rd Street, NW, in front of Foggy Bottom-GWU Metro Station, Washington, DC

This is a generic hot dog stand on the square of the Foggy Bottom-George Washington University Metro Station. It is run by an older Asian woman and serves hot dogs and the usual variety of cold snacks and drinks.

I get a Hot Dog ($2.50) with Chili (+$0.50). The bun is generic, the sausage is generic, the mustard is generic, and the chili, which might be somewhat original, is decent.

VERDICT: 78/100
Generic and slightly overpriced, as was to be expected.

Black Shack - A Burger Joint (Manhattan, NY)

320 Lexington Ave (BTW 38th & 39th), New York, NY 10016

Black Shack is a small dark burger joint in Manhattan, close to Grand Central Terminal, which combines upscale burgers with gritty ambiance and ‘service’. It is an odd combination of old dive and new hipster. It serves a variety of burgers, also available as tofu burgers (which are famous), and chicken sandwiches as well as classic sides like chili, fries, (basic) salads, onion rings.

I get the “Holy Mole” Burger ($9.75): a small burger, a bit similar to Shake Shack, topped with fresh guacamole, crispy onion strings, and fresh jalapeños. Very tasty! I also get French Fries ($3) with Cajun seasoning (+$0.50) – thin crispy fries with salty seasoning that get cold quick – and Onion Rings ($3), which are small and crispy, but the batter has little taste. The Chipotle Mayo (+$0.50) works well with it though.

VERDICT: 89/100
The Black Shack is a good but expensive burger joint. Then again, it is Manhattan.

Rotisserie St-Hubert (Montreal, Canada)

Chemin de la Côte-Des-Neiges, Montreal, QC H3T 1Y1, Canada T: 514-385-5555
Rotisserie St-Hubert is a chain of chicken restaurants that has 117 locations in Canada, most notably in Quebec. It looks in everything like a chain, including the pictures of the food in the menus. Its specialty is rotisserie chicken, but they also serve ribs, pulled pork, salads.


I am not a big fan of chicken with bones, so in the end I made an odd choice: a pulled pork sandwich, which comes with fries and coleslaw (C$11.50), and a soda (C$3.00). The pulled pork sandwich was actually quite decent, particularly for outside of the Deep South, and the vinegar-based coleslaw wasn’t bad either, but the fries were completely tasteless.

VERDICT: 75/100
Perhaps the chicken is really good, but do stay away from the fries.

Kabab (Montreal, Canada)

5171 Chemin de la Côte-Des-Neiges, Montreal, QC, Canada, T: 514-739-1717

Kabab is a fairly big Middle Eastern restaurant close to the University of Montréal. It has a buffet style counter as well as (three) meat skewers and a grill. It serves Middle Eastern staples like shawarma, falafel, humus, etc.

I get a Sandwich Merguez (CDN$ 4.99) and a side of French Fries (CDN$2.29). The merguez sausage is a huge disappointment – where they are supposed to be very tasteful and spicy, here they were virtually tasteless. The fries were like thicker Burger King fries, i.e. airy, coated, and not very tasty.

VERDICT: 50/100
One of the worst shawarma places I ate at.

Le Gourmet Burger (Montreal, Canada)

1433 Rue Bishop, Montréal, QC H3G 2E4, Canada

(for some reason I cannot find my pictures)

Le Gourmet Burger is a very small burger place in downtown, only few seats inside. It is a do it yourself gourmet burger place. You choose your protein (options include bison and veggie), your toppings, your sauce, etcetera. They have both regular fries and sweet potato fries as well as a mix of the two. As you pay by item (mostly $1 or $2), it starts to add up quickly.

I get a beef burger with bacon, jalapeño, tomato, lettuce, caramelized onions, and chipotle mayo ($11). It is fresh and comes on a big bun. Overall an excellent burger! The fries are thin and solid potato, but too soggy.

VERDICT: 89/100
Excellent if expensive burgers, but fries leave a bit too be desired.

Just Wings of Georgia (Monroe, GA)

242 M.L.K. Jr Blvd, Monroe, GA 30655

Just Wings of Georgia is a tiny, dingy place that probably mostly does take out and catering. It has 45 different sauces for wings and a couple of other things: fries, fried fish, hotdogs (though they were out of them that day). When I entered there was only one other person in there, and yet it took them more than ten minutes to get my order out.

I get 10 wings: 5 with Defcon 3 and with 5 Hot Chipotle. I also get a portion of chips (together $11.96). The wings are pretty good. The Defcon 3 is clearly promising more than it offers. The chips are freshly made and tasty.

VERDICT: 86/100
Solid wings place, though better suited for take out.