Thursday, December 09, 2010
A look at some recent Roanoke Times reviews of New River Valley restaurants.
The Roanoke Times
File November The menu at Chu-Cho's in Blacksburg includes spinach and mushroom quesadillas.
The Roanoke Times
File October Sweet crepes are a popular breakfast item at Our Daily Bread.
Recent Roanoke Times reviews
- Menu at Mikie;s 7th should delight locavores
- Southern delights on menu and buffet at Anna;s
- Restaurant review archive
Friends & Family Restaurant
100 Woodland Drive, Pearisburg
Some of the menu items set the mood for our meal before we had even ordered. The hand-battered, deep-fried bacon did not sound unreasonable to me, and a grilled honeybun topped with ice cream seemed only slightly bizarre. I personally drew the line with the sweet-tooth burger -- a quarter pound of beef, topped with a slice of American cheese served atop a grilled glazed doughnut.
Nonetheless, the menu at Friends & Family Restaurant is one of the most extensive I have ever seen. Nearly every type of American food is offered; beef, ham, pork chops, chicken, sandwiches, burgers and a whole slew of sides. The restaurant serves breakfast all day, with a buffet on Sunday.
The service was extremely accommodating -- and did honestly treat my family as one of their own -- and the prices were amazingly low. With an appetizer, two entrees, a kids meal, two slices of pie and two cups of coffee, our total bill was about $25, with tax.
I know that many people in the NRV would very much enjoy what the restaurant has to offer. Also, because the Appalachian Trail runs through Pearisburg, the restaurant offers an excellent choice for breakfast for through-hikers.
-- David Gray
400 Turner St., Blacksburg
Chu-Cho's is the newest Mexican restaurant to open in Blacksburg, in the former home of Bud Foster's in Collegiate Square.
One of Chu-Cho's specialties is guacamole en vivo, in which the guacamole is prepared tableside under the watchful eye of the diners.
I liked the queso dip, obviously freshly made without chemical additives to keep it liquid. The pineapple pork is very tender and reminiscent of barbecued pork. The flavor of the chicken and chorizo in the Chu-chorizo dish is intense, very bright, fresh and extremely easy to eat.
The staff was eager and accommodating. Prices are slightly higher than at most Mexican restaurants in town, but the portion size and quality of the food more than justify the added expense.
I have heard some argue that Chu-Cho's is simply Bud Foster's with a new coat of paint. Honestly, with my lips tingling from a jalapeno margarita and my stomach singing the praises of slow-fried pork, I wouldn't have noticed if Bud himself had sat down next to me.
Chu-Cho's is geared for success and sits in a location perfectly suited for its clientele. If you are in town for a game, or have business on the northeast end of campus, do yourself a favor and stop in for a great meal at Chu-Cho's.
Our Daily Bread
1329 South Main St., Blacksburg
While I am a fan of the bakery's lunch offerings, I had not yet tried its breakfast menu.
Our Daily Bread has a fairly wide breakfast menu selection, from a la carte eggs to French-style selections to Americanized dishes. The bakery recently changed ownership, and the new owners are French, so there was no way I was going to leave without sampling a French (or Americanized French) dish. I chose to eat a savory crepe. My wife ordered a breakfast croissant.
The crepe was very good -- a thick slab of ham, melted cheese and an egg (to order) inside a nutty-brown, paper-thin crepe. While the croissant was very good in and of itself, it did not seem to hold up very well to the eggs and bacon.
I was a bit let down by the lack of body in the coffee, and downright saddened that instead of a pitcher of half and half, I was asked to use those little packets of chemical "creamer." But the hot chocolate was breathtaking!
I can imagine few things so pleasant as a chilly morning spent sipping a French hot chocolate while nibbling a warm croissant in the crisp fall air in front of Our Daily Bread.
Green's Grill and Sushi Bar
109 College Ave., Blacksburg
On my first visit to the restaurant, I was a little disappointed. Many of my trusted acquaintances had raved about Green's, so I had high expectations.
After the joy that was the chicken skewer plate appetizer, I was anxious to taste the entrees. But although the flavors of the crusted salmon fillet sub were individually pleasing, there was an imbalance of ingredients. The Green's salad was pleasant to the eye, but lacked body on the tongue.
For my second visit, at the recommendation of my friends, I decided to order from the sushi menu rather than the grill menu. I was very pleased with the presentation of the dragon roll at Green's, and the volcano roll was quite good as well.
My advice would be to try items from the menu that sound unique, and to keep an eye on a restaurant that will certainly allow for the creation of some new and wonderful dishes.
Real estate downtown is scarce, so there is not an overabundance of seating inside the restaurant -- only a handful of tables and a small row of seats at the bar. I recommend hitting the restaurant on Monday or Wednesday for the free sushi upgrade.
212 Draper Road N.W., Blacksburg
Old-timers in Blacksburg will remember perusing shelves of books and bins of records in what could arguably be remembered as the best bookstore ever. But times change.
What once was a place to kill time and experience a great college town atmosphere still is -- but now you enjoy great bar food while watching a half-dozen televisions tuned to sports. You munch on your big burger as you either tap your foot to the music or gaze in awe of that impossible catch at the wall or the interception that changed the game.
Burgers are served with your choice of toppings, cheese and buns and come with a big portion of chips, fries or crispy tater tots. Appetizers are generous, sandwiches are just right. There are salads to please the light eater, and tacos are tasty. Nothing on the menu is more than $6.
It's not elegant, it's fun. It's not pretentious, it's a college bar.
-- Christi Wayne and Charlie Whitescarver
Kalbee Korean Restaurant
609 Snidow St., Pembroke
All of the kimchi dishes were extremely tasty and very distinct from one another. Each of us tried to pick a favorite from the selection as we gobbled them up, but they were all too tasty.
Before we could stuff ourselves on what we had determined was our appetizer, we received our dishes -- bibimbap, ojingo bokum and Korean-style chicken fried rice.
The bibimbap consisted of a rich variety of vegetables and steak served over a bed of rice topped with a raw egg yolk (you may order the egg cooked if you wish). The ojingo bokum is not for the faint of heart -- large shrimp and hefty pieces of squid mixed with vegetables and covered with a blazing sauce that was just shy of eye-watering. Both the shrimp and the squid were cooked perfectly in that neither was even slightly chewy, but were tender and lent their individual flavors to complete the bouquet of the whole dish. The Korean-style fried rice featured large pieces of chicken breast on a bed of rice dotted with exquisitely flavored beans.
Kalbee sits in a cozy building just off of the main drag in Pembroke and would make for a great pit stop after a hike up to the Cascades or a day at the river. It provides a great culinary reward for the slightly adventurous of spirit.