All of the menu items we sampled at the preview party!
Have you been to Smashburger yet?? There are two locations: one in Gahanna and a new Smashburger opened up recently in Westerville. Valerie and I had the opportunity to attend a private preview party to sample of the food!
The first thing we got to do was actually make a Smashburger! Did you know that all of meat is delivered fresh and NOT frozen? When the meat is shipped frozen, all of the meat juices evaporates into steam when cooking instead of flavoring the burger. Valerie got the chance to roll some ground beef into a ball, add special seasonings and "smash" it onto the grill using their special meat patty press. The press also pokes several holes into the patty so the meat juices continue to flavor the burger. All items on the menu are made fresh to order too! Did you know that their chicken breasts are also smashed? They do not smash at the restaurant but they are delivered fresh and "pre-smashed" upon delivery to the restaurant. They figured out that smashing the chicken breasts on site was a lot of work for their employees to pound out the chicken. I personally loved the chicken sandwiches and because of flattened chicken patty: I found it easier to eat a "smaller bite" of a chicken rather than taking a larger bite of a traditional chicken breast sandwich. (They also offer salads too!)
During the preview party, we got to sample a variety of items that day from our tasting menu. (see pics below!) Valerie loved the Truffle Mushroom Swiss burger-she said she thought the truffle made it very "rich" tasting and she would order it when she comes back. I have to say two of my favorite sandwiches were the Classic Smash(TM)(American cheese, smash sauce, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion on an egg bun) and the Classic Chicken (lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion and mayo on a multi-grain bun). Why? It is because of the red onion and I LOVE red onions! If you don't like the sandwiches on the menu, you can also make your burger or chicken sandwich with any topping you want too! For vegetarians, there is Spicy Veggie Black Bean Burger. (Fresh jalapenos, guacamole, pepperjack, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle mayo on a multi-grain bun) I loved the fresh jalapenos because it gave the sandwich a spicy kick!
Not only were there main entrees delicious, we also got to sample some of their sides as well. We got to try the Smashfries (TM),Sweet potato fries, Haystack Onions and Veggie Frites. The Smashfries (TM) are unique because the fries tossed with olive oil and rosemary--not your traditional fries and they taste good on their own without any ketchup! The Veggie Frites are flash fried and I preferred the green beans over the carrots. (They weren't soggy either!) I thought it would also be a good way for your kids to eat more veggies! If you are looking to order "off the menu" there are fried banana pepper rings! Great alone or on top of a sandwich!
Finally, we ended our meal with some Haagen-Daaz (TM) shakes. We sampled the Chocolate Shake and the PB & J shake. Yes, it really tasted like PB and J sandwich and I think that kids would love this shake! I, of course, preferred the chocolate shake. Needless to say, both Valerie and I were pretty stuffed and enjoyed all of food that day! Prices for Smashburger entrees start from $5.99-$6.99 and the kids meals around $5.00. If you are a burger or chicken sandwich fan, head here for your next "fix!"
Click here to enter our $25 Smashburger gift card giveaway!
Full Disclosure: Social Moms Around Columbus attend the preview party event in exchange for a blog post-as always, opinions are our own!
Chicken Greek Sandwich and Spicy Crab and Rice Soup. Yum!
Have you heard of Zoup? It recently opened in Westerville and in the Huntington Center in Downtown Columbus. It is a chain that serves soups, salads and sandwiches. Since I am a HUGE fan of a soup/salad combo for lunch, I knew I had to try it! I have been here twice already for carryout only. The second time I went there I saw a sign that read that you can place your order online; need to try that option out the next time as all sandwiches and salads are made to order.
The location in Westerville is small (seats about 30) but it was busy both times I went to pick up my lunch. There are 2 separate lines: one to order and one to taste their 12 daily rotating soups. You taste as many soups as you want prior to ordering! (Love this option!) They put a soup sample in a small plastic cup with a spoon for you to taste the soup.
Zoup's menu is listed on the digital menu board and they also indicate which soups/salads/sandwiches are lower in in fat and calories with a "Light Bulb" picture next to the item. (The "light bulb" is part of their "Enlightened Menu") The Enlightened Menu does not list calories; just that they are low in calories or fat. (You have to go to the website to find out the calories) For our Gluten Free readers, there are items on the menu for you to eat too!
The first time I ordered the Spicy Chicken Santa Fe Chili (tomato base, chicken, beans and spices) and the Asian Chicken Salad (Romaine, chow mein noodles, Asian noodles, toasted almonds, grilled chicken, scallions & sesame seeds. Served with sesame dressing) This is referred to as the Try Two Combo. Also, with the Try Two Combo you are offered your choice of a side of bread: French, sourdough and multi-grain. The side breads are individually wrapped in a bag too!
Now, I am sure you are wondering how the food tasted: Spicy Chicken Santa Fe Chili was spicy and flavorful and the Asian salad had a few noodles on top which was a tasty alternative to the typical Asian salads that I have had in the past.
The second time I went, I ordered the Tomato Soup with Spinach and Brown Rice and the Loco Burrito salad (Romaine, seasoned grilled chicken with lime, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, fresco corn salsa, guacamole & tortilla strips. Served with chipotle ranch dressing.) I was a fan of this salad and the spicy dressing! (Soup was delish too!) My friend Amber ordered the Chicken Greek Sandwich (Grilled chicken, feta cheese, tomatoes, black olives, red onions, sliced pepperoncini & cucumber/dill tzatziki sauce. Toasted on multigrain flatbread wrap) and the Spicy Crab and Rice Soup (Lightly creamed spicy soup with jalapeno, carrots, celery, onions, rice, fresh parsley, cilantro & crab.) She loved both the sandwich and the soup but she did have a problem with the French Bread. She thought it tasted bland and should have a hard crust-it's French bread, right? I thought it had a flour taste to it. Other than that, I would recommend this place. The food is fresh and I already have my loyalty card!
Loco Burrito Salad and Tomato Soup with Spinach and Brown Rice!
Huge Beaded chandelier!
It's been awhile since Valerie and I have gone out to lunch but we ventured to the Short North and decided to try the Surly Girl Saloon! My friend Kelly raved about this place many times so we off we went on a Sunday afternoon.
This place is quite eclectic with it's giant beaded chandelier and lighted peppermint pink cupcake! The walls are adorned with wacky artwork. ( i.e. zombie picture frames) It was busy and we managed to snag the last table. It is a dim, casual atmosphere and it is definitely a place where you would want to hang out and have a beer! They offer 24 beers on tap and you can sample the beers as well.
Pink Peppermint lighted cupcake!
Valerie ordered the Bell's Two Hearted Ale (an Indian Pale Ale) beer. I sampled a few beers and settled on the a beer that had a hint of raspberry flavor to it (it was not listed on the menu). After our beers arrived, it was time to order some grub! The menu includes, pizza, burgers, salads, pasta, wraps, sandwiches and cupcakes! (We will have to try the cupcakes next time!)
I asked the waiter what most people ordered and he said "pizza and grilled cheese sandwich/tomato soup combos." Valerie decided on the Chuck Wagon Pizza (Bacon, egg, potatoes, ranchero sauce, cheddar and monterey jack cheeses, topped with sour cream and green onions) and I decided on the Chorizo and Portobello Grilled Cheese with tomato soup (Chorizo and chili-marinated portobellos on wheat with a 6-cheese blend).
Another view of Surly Girl Saloon!
Then our food arrived and we started to eat. My grilled cheese sandwich was good (thick hearty wheat bread with gooey cheese) but I had a hard time tasting any chorizo. There should have been more chorizo in the sandwich! Valerie wanted to taste my soup and declared "This tastes like Campbell's Creamy Tomato Soup!" So then, I tried it myself and I had to agree! As a result, I did not finish my soup. (I want to believe that it really wasn't soup from a can)
On the other hand, Val's Chuck Wagon Pizza was delicious but it could have used more ranchero sauce. (ask for a side for extra dipping) Now the Chuck Wagon Pizza and beer are worth heading to the Surly Girl Saloon! So for now, I think that we would have to try this place one more time before I can say "yay" or "nay"..
Had the opportunity a few weeks ago to go down to the Gateway University area by Ohio State with my good friend and SMAC Blogger, Valerie and try a relatively new place, Gooeyz. We both thought it sounded good and for me, I have to say, the name of the place sure painted a picture in my mind....because I am a cheese addict. The idea of a specialty grilled cheese place really speaks to me. We arrived to find it rather empty (it was over the holidays so most students were gone) but clean and pretty cool atmosphere. You walk in to the counter, place your order, get your soda and sit down and they bring your food to you. The menu is concise and to the point; you come here for a grilled sandwich of some sort with cheese. We debated back and forth as to what to split so we could get a good feel for it and settled on the Veggie Gooeyz and the Baba Gooeyz which are part of their Signature sandwiches vs. their Value sandwiches which are more basic. They have a few sides; fries regular and loaded, fries with pepperjack cheese, sides salad, tomato soup (appropriate), and chili in the winter months. They serve Pepsi products and also have a full bar.
Our food arrived pretty quickly and we prepared to dig in. Each sandwich has a cube of fried cheese skewered into the top, which is a clever and fun touch. The Veggie Gooeyz was grilled eggplant, sauteed zucchini, red, green and yellow peppers, mushrooms artichokes, pepperjack and a 'Pezto' spread which was sundried tomatoes and roasted red peppers all on Texas toast. The first bite was good...it was tasty. As we got more into the sandwich we realized that the veggies were rather limited, the pepperjack was a bit overpowering and the pesto was just overkill. It was like there were just TOO many things going on with it; it was the grilled cheese that tried too hard and sometimes less is more when it comes to spices, marinades and herbs. Probably would not order this one again.
The Baba Gooeyz had a Greek feel to it with seasoned lamb, cheddar and feta with lettuce, onion, tomato and tzaziki all together on Texas toast; this we decided, was the one we really liked. We did end up pulling some of the excessive raw red onion off, but the meat was tasty, the cheese combo good and the tzaziki pulled it all together. It was very tasty and satisfying.
Overall, I think I was a little disappointed that there wasn't MORE cheese. I guess I was expecting a Gooeyz to be really GOOEY. Makes sense to me. I read a review on Yelp and one mom said that she ordered the kids grilled cheese for her child and there were 2 slices of cheese on it. Really? Kinda makes ya ask "Where's the cheese?". All in all it was a tasty adventure, but I am not sure I would trek down there specifically to go there when there are SOOO many other places to choose from. The Veggie was eh, and the Baba was good, so I say its an ok place to go, kid and family friendly, so if you are in the neighborhood, check it out. Sara, FoodieGirl
Val and I ventured out to the nearest McDonald's to try the various McCafe "Hot" drinks and oatmeals offered for breakfast! Listed below are our thoughts of each item (with pictures!):
McCafe Caramel Mocha
If you love caramel, then you will love this drink! This drink contains espresso, milk, caramel and chocolate syrup-it is topped with whipping cream with and caramel drizzle. This drink is sweet and you can definitely taste the caramel. It was hard to taste the mocha because of the caramel but it was delicious! Small drink: 250 calories.
This drink has espresso with your choice of whole or nonfat milk and your choice of flavored syrups. We decided to get it nonfat with no syrup. Val is a regular latte drinker and did prefer the taste of the Starbucks latte. Both of us agree that the espresso is stronger at Starbucks than the McDonald's. Cost wise, the McCafe latte is about 50 cents cheaper than Starbucks latte. Small drink: 150 calories.
McCafe Peppermint Hot Chocolate
In time for the holidays, is the Peppermint Hot Chocolate! You can smell and taste the peppermint in this drink-if you like the taste of peppermint, you will not be disappointed! This drink contains, chocolate syrup with peppermint flavor and you can choose it with whole or nonfat milk. Small drink: 260 calories.
McCafe Frappe Chocolate Chip
Now if you are a chocolate lover and want a serious indulgence, this is the drink to get on menu! The Frappe Chocolate Chip has mocha, sweet caramel, a hint of coffee and is blended with chocolate chips. It is then topped with whipped cream plus a double drizzle of chocolate and caramel. You can taste the bits of chocolate chips when you are drinking it! Both Val and I thought that this was the best drink on the menu! Small drink: 530 calories (and worth every sip!)
Apple Cinnamon Walnut Oatmeal
With our McCafe drinks, we tried the Apple Cinnamon oatmeal. It contains whole grain oats, apples, cinnamon and oatmeal. It was hard to taste the cinnamon and the oatmeal was a bit runny. It is a good alternative if don't want a breakfast sandwich at McDonald's. Calories: 270.
Fruit and Maple Oatmeal
This oatmeal contains whole grain oatmeal, touch of cream, red and green apples, two kinds of raisins and cranberries. Val and I liked the taste of this oatmeal- probably because of the dried fruit. If I wanted oatmeal, I would order the Fruit and Maple over the Apple Cinnamon Walnut. Calories: 290.
What about you? Which is your favorite McCafe drink or oatmeal?
*Full Disclosure: Social Moms Around Columbus was compensated for the food/drinks in exchange for a review.
Have you tried the smoothies or chiller drinks at McDonald's lately? Val and I recently had an opportunity to review them and we even had our kids participate in our taste test! Read on the find out who thought which drink was the best!
Mango Pineapple Smoothie
You could really taste the mango and pineapple in this smoothie (mixed with lowfat yogurt and ice). If you are a fan of mangos, then you will not be disappointed with this smoothie! It wasn't too sweet and very refreshing! My 8 year old and I both agreed that this was our favorite drink!
Strawberry Banana Smoothie
The thick consistency of the banana and sweetness of the strawberry made this a delictable treat (mixed with lowfat yogurt and ice). This would be a drink that I would drink for breakfast or lunch because it is quite filling. My 4 year old thought that this was the best drink she tasted. (good for little kids!)
Wild Berry Smoothie
This is mix of blackberries, blueberries and strawberries mixed with low fat yogurt/ice . On the website, it is called a Wild Berry Smoothie but I believe we drank the Wild Berry Chiller. Our drink did not have the yogurt consistency. Again, this drink was tasty and not overly sweet. My 10 year old said that this was his favorite drink.
Cherry Berry Chiller
This chiller drink was a mix of cherry and raspberry with ice. This is perfect for someone with a serious sweet tooth-it was way too sweet for any of us!
Strawberry Frozen Lemonade
I thought this was the most exciting drink on the menu! Once you drink it, it has the sweetness of the strawberry and the tartness of a lemon. I loved the combonation of the sweet n' sour! Valerie and her 10 year old daughter said that this was their favorite drink!
Another bonus about all of the 12 oz. drinks is that they are all around 200 calories! Have you tried the chiller or smoothie drinks? Which one is your favorite??
Full Disclosure: Social Moms Around Columbus was compensated for the drinks in exchange for a review.
King's Hawaiian Pork & Slaw
AHHHH, the life of a blogger. Tweet, FB, check emails... well wouldn't you know that checking my emails paid off when I read that Firehouse Subs on Polaris Pkwy wanted to team up again with SMAC for a review and AWESOME giveaway! (Giveaway details on the homepage and the winner will be drawn Friday Aug 17th! http://smacolumbus.weebly.com/ ) SMAC was asked to come in and try the King's Hawaiian Pork & Slaw Sandwich and also enter a YouTube video for a chance to win a trip trip to Hawaii. SIGN ME UP!! Mona and I ventured over to Firehouse Subs on Polaris Pkwy during the busy lunch hour and it was packed. Seriously people in this town love their FiREHOUSE. The bun is king's Hawaiian Sweet Bread and its piled high with smoked pulled pork and Hawaiian Slaw. The slaw had a sweet and salty quality which I really enjoyed. Mona and I agreed the new item was delicious and we agreed to get another sandwich to go and film our masterpiece YouTube video entry (we are NOT film artists!).
The owner, Julian and the manager, Courtney were jumping in and helping their crew with the lunch time rush and I just want to say 100% if you are in the food business you have to bust it and work just like everyone else! Great job Julian and Courtney. Thanks for having us out to enjoy another great lunch deal! SMAC Approved!
Full Disclosure: Social Moms Around Columbus meal was compensated in exchange for a review-as always, opinions are our own.
Street sign in front of the store.
Have you heard of RR Burger Works? It is a Red Robin fast service restaurant located on High Street at the Ohio State University. Val and I headed down to OSU campus about 2 weeks ago. Parking is a lot easier to find than when I went to OSU-there was a parking garage on 11th Avenue which charges $1 an hour. Campus is a lot nicer than when I went to school-they have outdoor seating at restaurants, bars and clothing stores as you walk along High Street.
RR Burger Works is located near 12th Avenue. RR Burger Works offers a limited menu compared to the Red Robin full service restaurant. They offer 4 signature burgers-Whisky River BBQ, 5 Alarm, Royal and Banzai. You can select these burgers, build your own burger or chicken sandwich. If you choose to build your own, you can choose some free items such as Thai Chili Ketchup, fresh jalapenos, or beer mustard onions. Fancy items (or items that you will be charged extra) include guacamole, bacon or a fried egg!
Order counter and menu at RR Burger Works.
Upon entry, we headed to the order counter to place our order. Valerie and I decided to split a burger, chicken sandwich and some fries! We ordered the 5 Alarm Burger (fresh jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, fire-roasted salsa, chipotle mayo, crisp lettuce and tomatoes), a chicken sandwich with beer mustard onions and lettuce and finally a 3-For-All (french fries, sweet potato fries and onion straws). After placing our order, we were then given a number to place at our table. While we were waiting for our order, we decided to get our drinks from the self-serve soda machine-Val liked the fact that it was clean and that there was 2 soda machines. (So that way if they get busy, people arent' waiting in line to get soda!) Condiments, plasticware, and lids were also available next to the soda machine BUT where were the napkins!! We figured that since it was campus, that they must keep the napkins under "lock and key" and only deliver it to patrons when their meal arrives. Shortly after, our meal arrived (with napkins)!
The 5 Alarm Burger delivered-spicy and juicy! The beer mustard onions were also delicious on the chicken sandwich-only complaint was that the chicken was a little salty! 3-For-All: devoured the sweet potato fries, onion straws-would have preferred the Red Robin onion rings, and the fries-I missed the thick Red Robin french fries! We had the 3-For-All served with Thai chili ketchup (wish they bottled this stuff!) and the chipotle mayo (another fave)!
RR Burger Works also offers a limited kids' menu, beer, wine, shakes, and a sundae too! RR Burger Works is a great place you can take your family if you are around OSU-after a football game or just visiting the campus area!
http://rrburgerworks.com/Full Disclosure: Social Moms Around Columbus was compensated for the meal-opinions are always our own.
It was a bright sunny day and we all had our own ideas of where to go of lunch, but my husband said lets take a drive over to that one restaurant over on Hoover. Yes, that's how we referred to this location "that restaurant". I knew it had changed hands over the years, but we never had much luck at "that location". What the heck we thought and drove over to Sunbury Road. GORGEOUS DAY on the water. Little Joe asked if were at the ocean! NO, just Hoover Reservoir. "The restaurant" was now called Bel Lago. We were surprised that Sunday was a brunch buffet. We asked to be seated out on the balcony overlooking the water. It was breath taking. I have always thought the location was a gem. I was excited to order a mimosa and then we got to the buffet. All kinds of choices; eggs, waffles, bacon, meatballs, salmon, desserts, cheese, olives, broccoli salad, ratatouille, chicken, biscuits... JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING! The server was very attentive and I loved that the enclosed patio had the windows cracked open to enjoy the cool breeze. Surprisingly my favorite thing on the buffet was the RATATOUILLE. I had never had this dish before and it was just as I imagined it, fresh vegetable flavors with a simple tomato sauce. After our bellies were full we drove further down Sunbury to the Hoover Damn area and walked around, it was the most pleasant Sunday our family has had in a long time.
TRY BEL LAGO! SMAC Approved!
What a SURPRISE to be contacted by Firehouse Subs on Polaris Parkway about my mediocre review. Firehouse Subs was very kind to invite both Mona and myself back to Firehouse for a second try and to sample their top 3 subs! I think it is so refreshing for businesses to take reviews seriously and to try to work with their customers to make improvements to quality and service! Mona and I accepted the invitation from the Franchisee/Owner, Julian Goodman. Mona and I visited Firehouse on Tuesday during the busy lunch hour. I was glad that the staff greeted us and knew who we were and promptly prepared our samples. Mona and I took our cups over to Mega COKE Drink Machine and the machine was CLEAN this time. I was not getting any heebie geebies from greasy fingerprints. Julian came out and greeted Mona and asked us a little about our blog and he was friendly and was also jumping in taking orders and running the register. Way to go Julian! Three subs were delivered to our table; Hook & Ladder Sub, Italian and Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket. We were told the #1 Sub is the Hook & Ladder. We sampled this one first. It was good but nothing was making me want to go for second bite. Next up Italian; better than Hook & Ladder in my opinion, possibly from the zing of Italian dressing. Third up was the Smokehouse.....WOWZERS! This sub was full of flavor! I asked if they sold the sauce in a bottle. Guess what? They DON'T SELL IT, but THEY SHOULD! I could have eaten the whole Smokehouse myself, but I shared with Mona (this time). We let Julian and his staff know that everything was great and we loved the Smokehouse Sub! THANK YOU JULIAN for inviting SMAC back to FIREHOUSE SUBS POLARIS!
CHECK OUT THE FIREHOUSE SUBS RAFFLE ON THE HOMEPAGE! WINNER WILL BE DRAWN THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 6, 2012 AT NOON!