Last Thursday I went to Friendly's in Midland Park with my brother, Hubert (yes, that's his name, yes, that's his LJ, yes, he's an odd fellow, and yes, ladeez, he's single!), and his friend, Peter. We went to Friendly's at my request to relive a bit of my childhood, because you know...being 20 is freakin' old and Friendly's isn't exactly a hot destination for young adults. I'm not sure how often I ate at Friendly's as a kid, but their clam chowder and ice cream sundaes are one of my clearest memories, for better or worse.
Clowns are definitely not a part of my childhood I want to revisit.
We had to wait a while to get a seat. I was surprised by how popular it was, but I guess the restaurant is also pretty small for a place in NJ that mainly attracts families. I took a photo of the wall on the other side of the room to capture the...flair. Or. Something. The interior is decorated to look kind of like a house with an affinity for old glass bottles, things made of porcelain, random knick knacks and baskets of fake apples. I guess it feels homey and country-ish, like an overly sanitized farm cottage something-or-other. Maybe it looks like your house! HAHA, oh, the horror.
Seeing the crayons made me happy (funny how little colored wax sticks can do that to ya) and if I had anything to draw on, I would've used them. I guess I would've had to get a kid's menu...damn, maybe I should've. I HAVE NO SHAME.
For whatever reason, we all ended up getting Supermelts™ (yup, it's trademarked), which are super sandwiches made of grilled, thick sliced bread that bubble with melted cheese (their words, not mine). Sounds a wee bit like a health hazard.
I wouldn't say my sandwich bubbled in cheesy goodness, but it was otherwise very good. The kicker for me was the bread, which was grilled in some kind of fat (butter, oil, I DUNNO). resulting in me going, "Uh...why does this taste so good?". The bread was indeed thick, crispy on the outside, chewy and soft inside, and coated with an invisible layer of fatty deliciousness...invisible until your fingers shimmered with lipids, at least. The chicken was moist and crunchy, so nothing wrong there. Aside from the two slices of bread not being in perfect alignment, resulting in some excess bread in some parts and not enough in others, the sandwich was really good and something I'd considering eating again if it didn't make me feel so guilty.
Of course, on top of the grilled sandwich was a pile of fried potato sticks (that's how we do it in America, yesss). Mmmmm. They could've used a bit more salt (I guess that's what the salt shakers are for), but were great crispiness-wise. Fry those suckers—bring on the acrylamides.
The thing that I absolutely had to get at Friendly's was the clown sundae. It's on the kid's menu, so our waitress probably thought I was a weirdo for ordering it. But I am, so I guess that worked out.
Sadly, this sundae was not up to par with what I ate more than 10 years ago. Take a look at the sundae on Friendly's site and mine. What's wrong? REESE'S PIECES! WHERE ARE YE?! Not on my sundae, that's where. One of my clearest memories of this sundae, no matter how stupid it may be, was that at the bottom of the cup I'd be left with half-frozen wayward Reese's Pieces (they have a satisfying crunch) mixed with ice cream soup and semi-hardened chocolate syrup. First off, there weren't even any extra M&Ms in my sundae (maybe they instilled some policy to only use enough candies for the face) and there wasn't much excess syrup. One of my few fond memories of the early 90s has been defaced. AWESOME.
I should probably note that overall, it wasn't bad for $2.50. The ice cream was kind of tasteless, but it had a smooth, dense texture. They have a gazillion other tempting sundaes that I'd be interested to try now that I know the cone head isn't up to par. If you're wondering what to do with the cone (I noticed that the sundae is upside-down), I guess...you just eat it. I'm thinking that when I was little I may have just given the cone to my mum, but this time I smashed it with my spoon and mixed it with my ice cream. Hey, why not, it's still a topping.
Our waitress messed up my dessert order the first time, but she made the cone head quickly and was overall nice. My brother said that Friendly's is known for horribly slow service. I've had slower (which I'll get to later in this entry...which isn't exactly a contest I want to win. But I won! Woo!
Before my night of fattened sandwiching and nostalgial-killing sundae eating, I had lunch at Cafetasia with my coworkers, Tony, Cindy, and Jan. Upon entering the restaurant we were attacked by lots of wood paneling and floating electric candle things before being seated at a long, communal table with a seat that was a smidge too wide to comfortably maneuver oneself on (you can't just step over it; it was like climbing onto a vaulting horse), but had this insanely comfortable foamy cushion to plop your bum on. Really smooshy. If you've sat on it, you know what I mean.
Cafetasia's $7 lunch special covers an appetizer and a main course, which can be as meaty or tofu-y as you want. It's a good deal.
One person ordered the "petite cheese and crab stick rangoon", two ordered the "chicken and shrimp shumai", and I got the "oriental salad". Tastes like orientals? YES! I mean. No. I mean. Tastes like ginger carrot dressing and taro chips. If I didn't love taro chips, I would've found the sharp sticks to be a bit annoying, as their size and texture didn't mesh well with the rest of the salad (iit would've been better if f the sticks were broken up). There was also a hard boiled quail egg struck in there. For some reason, I love quail eggs. Maybe it's the small, cute size. Maybe I like the idea of eating an unborn quail. Or maybe they taste better to me than normal eggs.
I love basil and I love udon, but I've never had a combination of the two. UNTIL NOW! It's a good combination. It tasted a little overseasoned (with what, I don't know), but the noodles were just right for my tastes (not too soft, kind of springy and chewy) and the seasoning had just enough hotness for me to think, "Mm, spicy!" and not "Mm, gagging time!" I ordered beef with my noodles, which came in thin slices and I suppose weren't too bad or good or else I would've remembered then in one of those senses.
Here's the food that I didn't eat: Thai basil with egg, garlic medley greens, and green curry. Everyone seemed satisfied with their food.
The service was speedy and almost eerily efficient. I barely noticed when my empty bowl was removed. GHOSTS DID IT. Depending on my mood (if I happen to be craving noodles instead of sandwiches), I may return to Cafetasia for lunch in the future for a cheap eat.
Last Wednesday for dinner I went to Caffe Reggio wwtih Diana, James, Mary, and Brad. This was after roaming into my first choice, Doma, and discovering that it had turned into an alternate level of hell, as apparent to us by the blast of 80 degree heat, the lack of open seating, and the swarm of Apple notebook-toting yuppies (which contributed to the lack of open seating). HEEHEE! YUPS! (I love Doma, but I had never seen it so crowded before. Why were so many people eating/hanging out at 5:45? MRRH!)
The main thing at Caffe Reggio is the coffee, as apparent by this freakishly large metal tub of sugar. It's certainly more convenient than those weeny packets of sugar, which I need three of to sufficiently mask the bitterness of whatever I'm drinking (which may be why I mainly drink water).
We were seated near the espresso robot, apparently the first of it's kind when introduced in 1902 as an example of advanced espresso robotry. I guess it isn't used anymore, but its soul lives on in its laser-deflective shiny exterior and ability to
kill us all shoot out uber-pressurized coffee-d water.
Mary started off with this smokey tea. She asked me what I thought it smelled like.
Smells like burning. Also smells like buddhist temples in Taiwan since people like to burn things in them. I don't know about you, but I like my drinks to smell of un-burning.
I ordered a mozzerella, basil, tomato panini. Or panino, more like. It was alright, not the best I've had, but a good size in that I could eat the whole thing and not feel preggers. The sandwich tasted strangely salty, although not so salty that I couldn't eat the whole thing. I think it could've used more mozzerella and the dried tomatoes were a tad too dry, resulting in overly chewiness where I'd rather not have overly-chewiness. Know what I'm saying? Good.
I think I just got the wrong thing. Pictured here are James' penne alla genovese (pasta with homemade pesto sauce) and Mary's prosciutto and mozzerella sandwich. James finished the whole dish and said it was just the perfect amount to not make him feel like he over-carbed himself. Brad got a capri salad with a gazillion tomato slices and Diana got an omelet (I forgot what was in it) which she thought was awesome. She's more choosy about food than I am, so I'll take her word for it. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY SANDWICH? LORDY!
After we finished out food, we waited. A while. A really long while. It was hard to get anyone's attention despite that the place was sparsely inhabited by customers. At some point since it was most convenient for me to exit out of our corner table booth-ish spot, I walked over to the waitress to ask for some menus so that we could indulge in cream-based desserts. She cheerily got me a few menus, allowing me to victoriously return to the table with the coveted menus.
It wasn't really the worst thing in the world that the waiters seemed to have forgotten about us—we chatted and did that "socialization" thing all the kids are talking about—but we were kind of annoyed. I'll keep Caffe Reggio in mind if I want a comfortable place to go where no one will ever disturb me and I can hang out forever. Those places can be handy. Like if I'm comatose or something. Their website does say, "Caffe Reggio offers an abundance of art and leisure", so I can't disagree with them there.
I ordered a tartufo since, along with the cone head sundae, it's one of my childhood dessert memories. How it became one of my favorite desserts, I have no idea; I wouldn't say it's a phenomenal dessert, but it's pretty cool. Whenever people ask me what it is (because most people seem to be unaware of the dessert when I mention it, which surprises me since I'm not exactly well versed in Italian food), I just describe it as an ice cream ball—usually vanilla and chocolate around a maraschino cherry—covered in a chocolate shell. "Tartufo" is Italian for truffle, although if it were up to me I'd just call it "ice cream ball"...in Italian. I don't think I've ever had a great tartufo, as the ice cream is usually just okay, but it's better with whipped cream (because everything is better with whipped cream). Unfortunately, this tartufo was un-whipped creamed. Doh.
Diana's banana split turned into a non-appetizing bowl of ice cream goop. Besides that, I think she liked it. The whipped cream was oddly unsweetened, yet I kind of liked its purely dairy flavor. It tasted like what you'd put on coffee and not a banana split...maybe that explains it. I didn't try the ice cream, but I figure it was okay. Diana did eat most oif it, but the rate of melting speed was faster than Diana's "shove spoonfuls of ice cream into mouth" speed.
Overall, the food was decent for the price and the dark, cosy, woody, "lack of glaringly white Apple laptops" environment that felt like it hadn't changed in decades was comfortable to hang out in for...however long we were there (about 1.5 hours).
Part of the reason I stayed for dinner after work on Wednesday was to see Jason Lytle perform at Other Music, an event that I happened to be a smidge too late for. I guess I don't regret hanging out with my friends longer than I had planned to instead of seeing Jason perform, but...damn, that meal took a lot longer than it was supposed to. [shakes fist]
I mean. SOCIALIZATION FOR ROBYN = GOOD.
Yup. But Jason Lytle is pretty cool. He made a music video of himself riding around on a bike with a fake cat statue (the cat was fake, the statue was...real). Automatic cool.
Too lazy to use google? FINE!
random food related stuff
I meant to post this earlier. Check out Drew's Chinese Food Bong. hopefully never to materialize in real life.
HFCF sucks! Come on guys, you knew that already. Right? Right. Good boy! (pat pat) Even though HFCF is in a lot of stuff, it's also NOT in a lot of stuff. Oranges? Apples? Bread? Don't have em! I hope. Or else that's some sucky bread and weird-ass fruit.
In Paris, if you act poopily around Parisians, such as not greeting them or saying goodbye or putting your hands in your lap, you'll be BANNED FROM THE COUNTRY FOREVER.
Oh god, I'm doomed. However, I have no trouble complying with the "don't eat while walking or riding public transport" rule. I have trouble eating and walking at the same time and am rather perplexed when I see New Yorkers walking down the street while snarfing down a slice of pizza. Dude, digest!
Actually, this isn't food related, but if you live in NYC and don't know about the gazillion free River to River Festival concerts going on this summer, you should look over the schedule. I might be too lazy to go to anything, but I wouldn't mind seeing Super Furry Animals, Belle & Sebastian, Eels, Smoosh, Hot Chip, Josh Rouse...maybe other things...of course, I'll only go if I can arrange for some food before or after the show. [cough]