Tag Archive for chicken

The Cheese Steak Shop

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The Cheese Steak Shop is a Bay Area chain that’s been in operation since the early 1980s. They’ve done so well, they even have a couple franchises in the Philippines! I love a good Philly cheese steak, to the point that it was probably more than half the reason I visited Philly a few years back. The Cheese Steak Shop makes their sandwiches in that classic style, going so far as to ship in their ingredients from Philly-based vendors. I think that commitment has paid off.

At the Castro Valley store, chopped sirloin beef or chicken are the meat options. White American cheese comes with the standard sandwich, which you can get in 7-, 10-, or 15-inch sizes. They have plenty of variations, however, including provolone, meat tossed in barbecue sauce, mushrooms, and spinach. I’m partial to the green chiles and provolone cheese sandwich myself.

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That one is a 7-inch with chicken. The slightly saucy cheese is melted on the bottom.  The meat is juicy and nicely browned, and the bread is absolutely perfect—squishy Italian rolls that melt in your mouth along with the sandwich fillings. Grilled onions and hot and sweet cherry peppers topped off my roll. Subjectively, I prefer my grilled onions in slices rather than diced into nothingness, and the peppers were sautéed too long for my preferences. But I loved each and every bite of the meal. It successful made me marvel at the magnificence that is the greasy cheese steak.

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Maximillian’s Grill

Maximillian’s Grill
8314 Chapel Hill Road
Cary
Website
$19-$35

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Maximillian’s Grill, not to be confused with Maximillian’s Pizza Kitchen next door though I’m going out on a limb and saying they’re related, appeared this year on Greg Cox’s annual list of top 20 Triangle restaurants. It always flies under my radar; I keep forgetting people have recommended it, but the placement on Cox’s list stuck it firmly in mind this time.

The menu is manic, reaching into Asian, Mexican, Southern, and Nouveau American cuisines, sometimes all in the same dish. Spiciness in many forms is its main unifier. Usually the spice is conveyed through sauces with names like hellfire, demon, and voodoo. As a lover of all things fiery and kitsch, that is not a problem for me. Our waitress deserves bonus points for remembering the details of 2 appetizer specials, 6 entrée specials, and 2 dessert specials. This is not a restaurant that dreams small.

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With that sort of menu, I expected a bolder atmosphere, but Maximillian’s sticks with a cigar room and steakhouse feel. It’s pretty dark (standard apologies for the photos), and walnut wood paneled the walls. It’s also rather cold early evening, likely due to the floor-length windows and stone-tiled floor. But the place warmed up well enough when more people came in. By 7 pm, it was hopping. Contemporary pop played from hidden speakers.

The wine list underwhelmed, mainly because the cheapest glasses are $10. The cocktails are similarly priced, so I chose one of those instead, the Blood and Sand.

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It took an imaginative route toward a manhattan’s flavors by combining salty caramel vodka, Dewar’s scotch, vermouth, an orange twist, and a maraschino cherry. Pretty in the glass, and I was surprised by how the caramel’s sweetness imparted bourbon characteristics to the Scotch, thus invoking my impression of it as a roundabout manhattan. The caramel note lingered pleasantly.

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East Coast Chinese Food Express

East Coast Chinese Food Express
202 NC Hwy 54
Inside the Kroger, South Durham
Website
Open Mondays-Saturdays
11 am to 3 pm, 4 pm to 10 pm
$7 — $12

I’ve heard many good things about East Coast Chinese Food Express. They’ve been located inside the Kroger by the Highway 54 and Fayetteville intersection for quite some time. It’s a small café, mainly for to-go orders, but there are a few tables if you want to sit and eat in the grocery store. Everyone else ordering was a regular and on friendly terms with the owner at the register. Food is cooked to order, so it’ll take 10 to 20 minutes depending on how crowded it is. There are menus everywhere, so figuring out your options can seem a tad overwhelming. Make sure you take a look at them in addition to the printed English menu.

Slushies and bubble teas are available. Additionally, there is a Chinese menu with traditional Chinese dishes versus Americanized ones, and that’s what our readers have highly recommended—ask the woman at the register for it. I don’t speak or read Chinese, however, so I stuck with the regular menu full of Hunan, Szechuan, Cantonese, and Japanese preparations. And I can tell you that it blew my other options in South Durham out of the water.

The boneless spare ribs are definitely the best I’ve had. It’s a generous portion, and the pork is cut in thick slices. The sauce’s flavor is fantastic, and there’s plenty of it, so spoon that goodness over extra rice.
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