Monday, May 5, 2014

30th Year, 30 Restaurants

Well, today is my 31st birthday, and I felt like this might be a good day to ease back into the blogging world.

One of my ideas for my 30th year was to visit 30 new restaurants before my 31st birthday.  Well, I accomplished that goal!  I'm not sure if that's awesome or sad that I've gone out to eat that many times.

So, I have a lot more to say about what my 30th year has taught me, but for now, while I'm enjoying some birthday festivities and NOT being at the office, I bring you a rundown of the 30 restaurants I visited this year.  It's a little long, but if need some ideas on restaurants in my area (or... in Ireland, England, or Paris), I have some short reviews.

This place has become quite the hot spot in my community over the last couple of years.  The food is delish and the decor is... interesting, but cool.  My friends had a surprise 30th birthday party for me here.

A little underwhelming, I'll be honest.  I got a mini-pizza with some peppers on it, and it was way spicy.  I've heard good reviews of it though, so I'm not saying don't go.  The decor was lovely and it was clean, which gives it bonus points with me, no matter what.  It just wasn't anything spectacular.

This place is really interesting and they have a wide selection of GF, vegan and vegetarian options.  It's got a redneck style to it, and it's basically a BBQ joint, but with a twist.  It's a really funky place and I've been back quite a few times since I originally went there... I can't find any pictures from going there, though.

Of course, this place rocks, but I'll tell you what I really liked that I didn't actually order... their veggie burger!  My mom ordered it during our bi-annual outing with some of her girlfriends and I tried it.  I will be ordering that the next time I go.

5. The Red Fox Inn - Co. Kerry, Ireland 
We were at The Bog Village Museum during the Ireland portion of our European adventure and the Red Fox Inn served all the adults Irish Coffee!  Delish!  I really miss that place.  There were bog ponies and sheep, and big piles of peat that looked like poop.  It was a beautiful little inn and I'd really like to go back there someday... but maybe not on a hot bus.

6. Le Petit Pont - Paris, France
We ate here during our last night in Europe.  I just read some reviews of the place and they were not very complimentary.  Wow... in fact some were quite horrible.  I actually thought it was quite good and reasonably clean (for Paris).  It overlooked Notre Dame, which was nice.  I actually don't remember what I ate here... by this point in my trip I just wanted to get home, but I do remember ordering wine and toasting to a mostly successful trip.  

7. Lannigans Lounge - Killarney, Ireland 
This was a hotel restaurant where we ate and drank our first few days in Ireland.  It wasn't the most original place in the world, but outside in the hotel lobby our first night, I got to hear traditional Irish music and it really set the mood.  

8. Gourmet Burger Kitchen - Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland 
This place was a compromise with the annoying teenager we were saddled with during our day in Dublin.  All he wanted was McDonald's and he was royally pissing me off.  Poor Matt, he probably thought I was going to get arrested for pummeling that kid in the street.  We settled on a more upscale burger joint, and I ended up being pretty pleased.  I got a beet burger, actually, which sounds weird but was actually tasty.  

9. St. James Tavern - London, England
This was one of my favorite meals while in London (maybe of our whole trip).  Why?  Well, of course the fish and chips were just what I needed after a full day of site-seeing.  The pub itself was just lovely and it was so nice to hear all the English accents, and it was just a fun time to sit down and hang out with old and new friends.  This was the trip where I started thinking, "hm, teenagers aren't all bad."

10. Courtney's Bar - Killarney, Ireland
Yikes!  This is a truly awful photo of me, but this was the bar where I got my first Guinness in Ireland, thus it holds a special place in my heart.  They were playing live Irish music too.  Be still my heart!

11. The Scariff Inn - Co. Kerry
The food here was nothing special, but the view... oh the view!  I think the sign on the Scariff Inn was right when it said they had the best view of the Ring of Kerry in all of Ireland.  Look at it!

12. Laduree - Paris, France
We actually weren't allowed to take pictures here, so I pulled up a picture from Pinterest to show you.  It was really a beautiful place.  I pretty much despised most of Paris, but this place was great.  They had the best bathroom in all of Paris, probably in all of France... hands down.  Why?  It was actually clean and bigger than a broom closet.  Most importantly, this is the place where the macaron got started.  They are literally gorgeous to see all lined up in the case and they taste so yummy.  If they weren't so horribly expensive, I would have snacked on them all day.
Laduree, Paris - I cannot wait to visit you! Everything from their label, packaging, shop fitting, amazing cookbook - and who can forget their macaroons - is immaculate!

13. Taylor's Restaurant - Near Bray, Ireland
I'm not going to lie... this place was very underwhelming.  This was just one of our "group meal" places and other than the traditional veggie/carrot soup stuff we seemed to have with every meal in Ireland, I can't remember what we had.  The decor of this place was very "blah" and we sat at a long table smooshed up among a ton of other tourists.  It kind of felt like a cattle feeding.  I'm sure that's not always the way it is there, but I was unimpressed.

Madame did play the piano for us a bit before we left.  That was fun.

14. The Martello Bar - Bray, Ireland
This was a lovely sea-side restaurant in Co. Wicklow in Bray.  We were strolling along the beach one night and decided we needed to sit down.  We were all exhausted, so it was nice to get some coffee and listen to some live music for awhile.  I'm pretty sure this sea-side community was my favorite part of Ireland.

(my first experience with the world's smallest cup of coffee, as evidenced by Matthew's hand.)

15. Cafe LaFayette - Holyhead Ferry
Well, I count this as one of my restaurants, but considering it was basically a sandwich shop on a ferry during a time when we were all irritated, tired and a little sea-sick, I can't say much about it.  All I know is that once again I got one of the world's smallest and strongest cups of coffee, and basically spent the trip as a watchdog.  Apparently a lot of crime happens on these ferries.

16. Ye Ole Punch Bowl - Ireland
This is where I got to have real Gaelic Boxty and one of my many Guinnesses during our trip.  This might have been my favorite of the Irish meals, simply because of the boxty.  The drama that ensued between our tour guide and the teacher leading our trip, however, was not the kind of Irish entertainment I wanted.  Yikes!  Lack of sleep and too close of quarters really gets to some people.

17. Astoria - Lordon
He put away that entire calzone!  I was thoroughly impressed.

Best Pasta I've ever eaten.

Piccadilly Circus at night.  London is, I think, the most beautiful city in the world.

18. Anne Hathaway's Cottage - Stratford on Avon, England
This was another one of our group meals, but it was actually really good.  I loved the "cheek" of this place, and also the bucolic setting.  That really made it special for me.  I loved this sign!  Just my kind of humor.

19. The Scoreboard
To be honest with you, this place was not impressive.  The food was fine, but it was definitely a dive and nothing exciting.  This was my dad's recommendation, so I think his idea of a good restaurant is cheap.  That's was about the only impressive thing about it.

20. Juniper Grill
I actually went here twice forgetting that I had already been there once for this challenge.  The food and drinks are delicious here, if not a little pricey.  I went here with some girlfriends for a girls night and I got this blackberry margarita.  Mmmm!  My parents and I went here for Easter, too and I got short ribs which were melt-in-your mouth good.

21. Burgh'ers
Burgh'ers is a relatively new place in Zelienople, PA.  It's super small, but the burgers and mac n' cheese are A.MAZ.ING.  Just looking at this picture makes me want to go back.  Go there.  Now.

22. Reichhold's Cafe
This place doesn't have a website, but it's a place in Butler, PA that I can see being on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives.  It definitely seems divey, but the breakfast I had was very tasty!  It was a breakfast pizza on naan bread.

23. Restaurant ECHO
This is a very fancy restaurant that my parents and I went to for my mom's birthday.  To be honest, I didn't really like these scallops that I got... I think I just thought I liked scallops and then realized I don't.  If you want a fancy night out, this is a lovely place to go, though.  It also has a casual section that looked pretty cool too.  I may go back and try that section and try something other than scallops.  It looks good, though, doesn't it?

24. Menchies
I live in a small town, so when we found out that we were getting one of those trendy fro-yo places, all my friends were kind of excited.  Yeah, it doesn't take much.  I didn't get a chance to go there for the first few months because I was involved with a musical.  At the close of our show, my best guy friend said he was taking me to Menchies to celebrate.  YAY!  It did not disappoint.  As you can see by the happy face he has, we were pretty pleased.

25. Hoffstots Cafe Monaco
Oh man, I actually don't have a photo for this one... I thought I did, but can't find one.  We went to this place for another one of our bi-annual lunches with my mom's friends.  It wasn't hoity-toity in any way, but it definitely seemed refined and old-school (in a good way).  It's a very beautiful restaurant and the food was delicious.  If you're in the Oakmont area of Pittsburgh, check it out.  Stop by the Oakmont Bakery afterwards.  OMG!

26. East End Food Co-Op
During my month of trying to be a vegan (which turned into a month of vegetarianism), my friend Julia took us to some of her favorite health food stores where she goes to buy a lot of her vegan items.  We stopped by the Co-Op and picked up some nutritional yeast and some lunch.  Um... yum?  Actually yes, it was yummy.  The place is just a store with a salad bar.  Like any other salad bar, it had its hot selections, but they were all vegan.  It really was tasty, but I can't make a lifestyle out of it.

27. Flood City Cafe - Johnstown, PA
My friend Abby and her hubby opened up this new cafe in downtown Johnstown a few months ago.  My friends and I desperately wanted to see it, so after Easter, we packed up and visited.  Oh my goodness, I may be partial, but if you live or are visiting the Johnstown area, you should definitely stop by, especially on Friday night for Open Mic Night.

My Coconut Frappe.  YUMMO!

Chicken, Bacon, Ranch Wrap.  Again, soooo yummy.

28. The Boulevard
My friend Abby and I have birthdays 3 days apart, so while we were in Johnstown, we decided to celebrate together.  Abby suggested the Boulevard Grill, which is this funky joint where the owners just keep buying the adjoining storefronts and adding on.  We wanted to eat in the new "Speakeasy" part, but the place was packed, so we sat in one of the "patio" spaces.  It was lovely.  
I had an Italian Surfer as my cocktail.  Yummy!  Amaretto, coconut rum, and some other stuff I can't remember.  

These pita chips, homemade guac, hummus and artichoke dip were FANTASTIC.  I could have kept eating them all night.

Abby got the biggest sandwich I've ever seen, I got a yummy sausage and mushroom pizza... and I can't remember what Dawn got.  Everything was fantastic, though.  If you are in Johnstown, definitely check this place out.  The parking is crazy though, so go early.

29. Noodles & Company
My parents took me out for my birthday a day early.  When we went to Juniper Grill in April, we saw this restaurant, which was closed that day.  Ever since, I have been jonesing to try it.  It did not disappoint.  It's a little casual place where you order at a counter like a fast food place, but they bring the food to your table and it was so tasty.  My parents both got the stroganoff and I got the Japanese Pan Noodles.  Both were delicious (I had to try everything).

30. The Carvery
It took me until exactly my 31st birthday to get all 30 restaurants in, and this was my last one.  My family usually goes to a casino once a year in May, in honor of my birthday, my dad's, Mother's Day and Father's Day for my grandparents.  So... I won't have a review of this one until tonight, but I will update if you're interested.

So, sorry for such a long post, but I felt like this goal deserved it.  If you made it through, congrats!
See you tomorrow, I think.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's a lot of eating out! :) Glad you met your goal! Looks like some great places to eat.


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