My Favorite Burger Joint

I’ve lived in Roanoke on & off for 20 years.  In that time, we’ve gained some excellent restaurants (finally!).  Local Roots, River & Rail and Blue Apron (technically Salem) are three that come to mind as top tier places to dine.  They’re all very focused on local, sustainable offerings in a cool ‘hipster’ atmosphere.

 

But I don’t want to talk fine dining.  I want to talk about really really great burgers.  I have found the quintessential burger place in Roanoke.  It’s been around forever, and consistently wins Best of Roanoke awards.  It’s Burger in the Square, which used to actually be in the Square downtown, but is now in a little nondescript hole-in-the-wall place on Brambleton Ave.  They’re the bar I use to judge all other burgers.  Fresh ground beef, hand pattied daily, cooked on a flat grill,  locally made buns, lots of toppings and cool spreads.   Not much else on the menu.  They do use frozen fries, which is a mark against them, but their burgers are so darn good, it doesn’t really matter.

 

Friends have told me the new burger joint downtown is excellent too.  I’ve tried to eat there a couple times, but it’s tiny (maybe 20 seats) and always packed.  I’ll admit I haven’t tried all that hard to eat there.  BITS calls my name, loudly, when I’m craving a burger.   If you’re in Roanoke anytime soon, check it out!

How John Muir is Revolutionizing the Farm-to-Table Food Movement

I have long been a fan of Dan Barber, chef of New York’s pioneering farm-to-table restaurant Blue Hill.  He has long been a champion of the local, organic food movement. But now he thinks it’s time for the movement to grow up.  Read the article to gain an understanding of how our current food system came to be, and what we need to do to get it back on track.

The most meaningful paragraph in this article, for me is:

“So what is the role of the chef? It’s to help with the hitching. To show there is pleasure, good taste, and environmental sustainability in fostering connections. After all, that’s what cuisine is: the way a region’s unique ecological relationships, and place-specific advantages and challenges, become manifested through delicious food.”

Farmers Fishers Bakers

I had the opportunity to dine at FFB’s in DC this past week.  The setting is gorgeous-right on the Washington Harbour and Georgetown Waterfront.  The food was delicious as well.  Sort of the perfect combo for a great night out!

Some facts about the restaurant from their website.

  • It’s owned by American family farmers that belong to the North Dakota Farmers Union.

  • Their menu is “crafted on a foundation of seasonal ingredients from abundant and healthy sources, and the sushi bar is constantly adjusting its offerings to meet and exceed the standards of sustainable seafood”.

  • Their “interior is designed and enhanced by North American artisans – from individually handcrafted chairs to our interlocking wood ceiling hand-installed by Canadian woodworkers, to our one-of-a-kind American flag mural and welcome desk mural, installed onsite by regional artists.”

  • “ Above all, Farmers Fishers Bakers seeks to honor and respect the strong values of the farmers who grow our food and the folks that harvest it, while celebrating the independent spirit of craftspeople and artisans from across the country.”

I was very impressed by how many local items were featured, and how much of their menu is prepared in house.  Here’s what we enjoyed:

Brick Oven Pretzels with Pimento Cheese, BBQ Mustard, Sour Cream & Onion Dips

Pretzels & dips were excellent!  Pretzels came out still hot, crispy on the outside, tender & light on the inside.  The pimento cheese has a little kick from jalapeno, and the bbq mustard has a great horseradish bite to it.  And they made the onion dip right-starting with caramelizing the onions!

Authentic Field Tacos: Fried White Fish on a Sweet Corn Cake

Other options for the taco fillings include Chicken, Pork Belly, Marinated Steak, Pulled Pork, Beer Braised Beef & Plancha Tuna.  Tortilla choices included Fresh Masa Puffy Corn Taco or Griddled Flour Tortilla.  The taco was topped by dates, mango, radishes & peanut cider slaw.  Amazing flavor combo!

Shrimp Scampi, Gnocchi, Leafy Greens

‘Caroline White Shrimp’ with Potato Gnocchi in a rich, velvety Garlic Lemon Sauce…with enough Sautéed Spinach to make it seem like maybe what you were consuming is actually healthy.  Then there was the Grilled Bread to sop up the extra sauce.  It’s all about balance, right??

I highly recommend FFB!  Again, setting & food can’t be beat.  You feel good about having helped the environment & American family farmers after eating all the local/sustainable deliciousness.  And prices were the best I’ve seen anywhere in DC!  I was amazed at the quality & quantity of food for a very reasonable price!!!  Check it out!

Ramen at Foo Dogs

I had a fabulous dinner at Foo Dogs ramen bar in Richmond a couple weeks ago. The company was the best part (Chris Blain, the hot new chef at the governor’s mansion!). But the food was a close second!

We started with

BAO WOW (love the name!)

Two pork belly bao sliders with cilantro, red onion,

plum sauce drizzle and sprinkled with cashews 

Basically pork buns served taco style. The shell was the typical chinese pork bun dough. It was folded around perfectly tender, fatty & sweet pork belly. The accompaniments finished it off nicely!

FOO WINGS

Eight Wings tossed in a fiery Foo Dog signature

sauce, Korean BBQ Sauce or Malay Curry Sauce

We had the fiery Foo Dog signature sauce. It was delicious, but pretty much your typical hot wing sauce. Loved that the wings were small, really crispy & not breaded!

For out entrees, we shared two ramen dishes:

MALAYSIAN STYLE

Red miso & curry broth with Chicken breast, soft cooked egg, bean sprout and scallion

CHINESE STYLE

Stir fried with Chasu pork (Chinese flavored bbq pork), shitake mushroom

and green onion (no broth)

The broth on the Malasian ramen was incredible! Light, just enough sweetness & heat to know you were eating curry. The noodles were floating in the sauce, so they were soft & silky. The richness of the egg yolk just takes it over the top!

The Chinese ramen was by far my favorite dish of the evening! The Chasu (aka Char siu or Chashu) pork was salty, sticky & delicious! There was no broth, just the pork, vegetables & noodles stir fried. It was delicious on its own, but even better with a ladle of the curry broth from the Malasian ramen.

I highly recommend trying Foo Dog! It’s a great little place, right on Main Street in Richmond. Fairly new, but doing a booming business! You won’t be disappointed!!!