Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (BB6) Royal Kabab

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

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

Royal Kabab, 738 Rte. 3 N, Gambrills
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 11/17/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

With the not-much-lamented demise of The White Tiger, Bowie is without Indian food. Those looking for some Chicken Tikka Masala have to head up Route 3 to Gambrills, to a gas station of all places.

Now one of my rules is, "Don't eat in a gas station," so I hesitated going here. But I had heard such good things about this place that I decided to try it anyway.

My first impressions were not promising. I tried to end up the restaurant directly and startled somebody in a supply close. No, you have to go into the BP mart and then the space Royal Kabab shares with a Subway. (The combined space is not particularly large.)

On my first visit, I got the lunch buffet. The offerings had not been freshened recently, but were still quite good. The proprietor brought us some salad and enthusiastically encouraged me to come back for more once he had put out new food. I ate more than I planned to, and more than I should have, which is probably the strongest endorsement I can give this restaurant. My colleagues who got items off the menu were also quite happy.

The second time I visited, I had the chicken tikka kabab. I enjoyed it, but I was less thrilled. If the buffet is available, I don't think I will plan to get anything else.

I've had better Indian food, but not within 20 minutes of Bowie. If you're willing to drive half an hour, go to Tiffin along Route 193 in Takoma Park. That's a restaurant I could give 5 stars to. I'm hesitant to give 4 stars to a place with the ambiance of Royal Kabab, but as the only Indian option in the region, and a tasty one, it gets 4 stars.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (75) Pizza Hut (Superior Ln) & (76) Pizza Hut/Starbucks (Target) & (77) Pizza Hut (Pointer Ridge)

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

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

I am once again consolidating the reviews of several chain restaurants into one post.

Pizza Hut, 3319 Superior Ln
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 9/26/2012
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: Yes
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars

"We're out of dough." "What?" "We're out of dough."

That's not an auspicious way to start a visit to a restaurant that has "pizza" in its name. I soon clarified that they were out of the personal pan pizza dough, but that they had the dough to make the other pizzas. I declined an offer to pay more money for a larger pizza and decided to return the next day, after they got a delivery.

They didn't get the delivery, but the next time the woman behind the counter offered to make me a personal pan pizza with non-regulation dough, and I took her up on it. It was an adequate pizza.

I seem to recall that they had table service (or at least a lunch buffet) in the 1990s, when I last ate there. Now it's ordering at a counter.

Pizza Hut/Starbucks, 4600 Mitchellville Road
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 9/12/2012
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 1 out of 5 stars

I'm not sure why the Starbucks and Pizza Hut inside Target are considered part of the same restaurant. The Starbucks part doesn't really contribute to the restaurant-ness, though, so I ignored it.

They didn't have any pizza ready to go when I visited around 1pm, so I had to wait, which was kind of weird. They were really nice about bringing my pizza to me in the little seating area. The pizza was below Pizza Hut standards, but edible. I would compare this place to the 1-star Uno Express inside BJ's club. You don't have a lot of choices in the Gateway Shopping Center with Monterey closed, but honestly, head to Wendy's or Bob Evans before you head here.

Pizza Hut/Starbucks, 1290 Crain Hwy
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 11/3/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

This Pizza Hut is the only one in Bowie with wait service, and the southernmost restaurant in Bowie.

My rule for restaurants with wait service is that I have to have a dining companion for at least one visit. That way, I don't just get absorbed in reading stuff on my phone and ignore the quality of the service. The Pizza Hut was one of the harder sells from the list, and one of the reasons this review is towards the end of the Project. Nevertheless, I suggested that Ben and I stop by here on the way to the Redskins game last weekend for a pre-game meal.

He and I were debating partners in high school, and it was our tradition to find a different Pizza Hut after each debate tournament. I doubt we ever made it to this one. Sadly, Pizza Hut no longer carries birch beer, a staple of our 1980s visits.

Stuffed Pizza Rollers!
The wait service was really friendly. The focus clearly isn't on the dine-in experience, though. If you go to the web site to look at the menu, your two options are carryout and delivery. The pizza and appetizers were pretty good, and we got a lot of food (and sodas) for two people for around $20.

So I'm going to give this a surprisingly high 2-and-half star rating. Here's my reasoning. You can get a personal pan pizza there for $3.25. That's a cheap date. In other words, this Pizza Hut may be the cheapest place in Bowie to go and be waited on. For teenagers, that's important, since it introduces them to the art of dinner conversation with someone other than their family. So for an inexpensive place to go eat with your friends, and one of the few places in South Bowie, it gets 2-and-a-half stars. For the rest of us, go to Uno, or for takeout, Cetrone's, instead.

Five reviews to go! (Plus new restaurants as they open.)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Geocaching Update #1: Free State Mover #1 is almost home

In June, I posted the above image giving an overview of the journey of Free State Mover #1, my geocoin that had reappeared after four years of inactivity. Well, it's now back in Maryland and awaiting pickup.

It bounced around Massachusetts for a while, headed to West Virginia (not the close part), and then landed in a cache not too far from Rock Creek Trail in the North Chevy Chase area. I'll have to plan an expedition to retrieve.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Bowie Restaurant Project: (74) LongHorn Steakhouse

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

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

LongHorn Steakhouse, 4100 Town Center Blvd
Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 9/13/2013
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 2
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

If you want to have a steak in Bowie, LongHorn is a decent choice. I would probably prefer Outback, but I think that's a matter of personal preference, rather than quality. Also, LongHorn is open for lunch, so there's no competition there. I bet Old Bowie Town Grille does a pretty good steak, too. But for being right there in Bowie Town Center and being a decent chain, LongHorn earns 3 stars.

To make the trip more exciting, colleagues of mine and I headed to LongHorn via the BizBus, Bowie's new shuttle bus. The experience was nice enough. If I were heading to Bowie Town Center from Melford, there's not that much advantage to driving. On the other hand, the driver said that we were the first people he had ever picked up from that particular stop, so I think ridership has a way to go.

We all enjoyed our meals. The service was excellent, if not speedy, and the food was cooked as ordered. Prices were a bit high for lunch, but on the other hand, you get to eat steak, so that's not a surprise.

A return engagement for takeout food was slightly less successful, with my burger a little overcooked, and the fries somewhat disappointing.

A confession: I forgot that I hadn't written a review of LongHorn, and two months on, I struggled to remember much about the visit. On the one hand, that's a strike against it -- not memorable. On the other hand, it had no memorable deficiencies, so I think an "average" rating of 3 stars is appropriate.

Bowie Restaurant News

Olive Grove is opening next Wednesday, November 13. I'm planning to visit with co-workers the following week to check it out.

Not counting Olive Grove and other yet-to-open restaurants, I have eight restaurants left in Bowie that I have yet to review. Three of those are Pizza Huts. I have visited all three; they will be dispensed with in a single post coming up soon.

I visited Royal Kabab in Gambrills with some co-workers recently. It is hard to get past the fact that it is in a gas station. You really need to get past that, however. Not only is it the only Indian/South Asian restaurant in the area (after the demise of The White Tiger), it's good! I will probably add this to my "Beyond Bowie" series after another visit.