Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (73) Hunan Delight

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

East Delight, 3329 Superior Lane
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 9/9/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

The dining room here is so small, I mistook East Delight for a takeout joint early last year, and so left it off my list of restaurants to review. Recently, I ran across a menu that said "Dine In," so I took another look. Oops.

So what does Hunan Delight have to offer? In many ways, pretty much the same thing as its competitor East Delight, a third of a mile away. At East Delight, I marveled at the cheap lunch options, ranging from $5.05 to $6.05. Hunan Delight does them one better, coming in from $4.55 to $5.25. And the food I tried (particularly the kung pao chicken) was probably slightly tastier.

Both times I visited, I called in my order ahead of time. The first time, despite it being before 11:30, I had about an eight-minute wait when it came time to pick up my food. I soon found out why -- the woman ahead of me had ordered $122 worth of food. That's impressive, when my meal was under $5 (with tax). The second time (closer to noon), I had the place to myself and my food was ready to go.

Having had a look at their kitchen, I decided to forgo their sushi options. There didn't seem to be any dedicated sushi preparation area, or sushi chef for that matter.

I was tempted to bump it up to 3 stars, because it is slightly better than East Delight. But I think the same principle applies here as it did at East Delight: "It's not the sort of place anyone would miss if it were gone -- you'd just head down the road a little bit."

So now I have seven reviews left to go.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (72) Chessie's Chesapeake Grille

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.
For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Chessie's Chesapeake Grille, 4500 Crain Hwy. (inside the Comfort Inn)
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 9/4/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: Not unless I ate breakfast there while staying at the Comfort Inn in 1996
Rating: 1/2 out of 5 stars

I said that Carolyn Quinn's is "what you'd expect of a home-cooked meal if you visited a friend's house who was a good cook." Chessie's is what I'd expect of a home-cooked meal if I visited a friend's house who wasn't a good cook, but I had to eat it anyway to be polite.

After I read the Gazette's article that talked about the dinner menu, I figured I would visit once for the lunch buffet and take Christina once for a nice dinner. After my visit to the lunch buffet with colleagues, I determined that Chessie's didn't deserve a separate dinner visit, and Christina didn't deserve to have to eat there.

The one good thing I can say about the buffet is that $6.99 is a low price for a buffet that includes a beverage. The day we visited, the surprisingly small selection was barbeque themed. The barbeque pork was somewhat tasty, but everything else just made me a little unhappy to eat. Maybe something you'd get in an institutional cafeteria.

When I went back for a second look (as dictated by my rules of reviewing), I was shocked to find the parking lot packed. The restaurant was equally busy. I did a quick web search to see if there was a big meeting that day (my high school actually had its ten-year reunion there), but instead I found that a lot of "lunch bunches" -- Masons, churches, firefighters and whatnot -- have outings to Chessie's on various days. Most of the patrons looked like they were on such outings, and they were disproportionately elderly. If thirty years on, I am with a group of retirees eating such uninspired food, I shall be very sad.

I just wanted to check the box of my second visit and skedaddle, but it took a lot of imploring from the wait staff to cough up my check.

In the end, I wavered between a half-star and one star. Nothing about the experience was awful. Just not good. But I return to my opening post on this project, "Rather than rating solely on quality and value, I am also going to judge how much the restaurant contributes to the Bowie restaurant landscape." As far as I can tell from my visits, Chessie's causes people to eat there rather than at some better establishment in or around Bowie. So half a star.

Bowie Restaurant News

Irie Cafe interior, September 1
I snapped the photo at right of the Irie Cafe while visiting the similarly-named Chesapeake Grille & Deli last weekend. They seem to be making good progress.

It turns out I was mistaken to say that Hunan Delight is takeout-only. They have a small dining area that I somehow missed the last time I was in there. I have to add them back on the list.

So I now am down to eight reviews to go. As I near the end of this project, I've started turning my eye to more restaurants outside of Bowie. (I also am looking to recommend places to co-workers who don't care whether something is in Bowie or just nearby.) In my continued quest for good Thai food, we visited the recently-opened Thai at Waugh Chapel. From one visit, I would say it was very good. Well-decorated, good service, tasty food. Not the best place for kids, but the staff was friendly to them. I would say it noses out Lemongrass in Crofton for best local Thai food. I may do a "Beyond Bowie" post there, if it holds up after subsequent visits.

I was sad to see that the Sly Horse Tavern in Crofton closed down. While I have only been there once in the past fifteen years, I thought it was nice for Croftonites (I once was one) to have a walkable dinner option.