SLACKWATER PIZZERIA & PUB

ADDRESS: 1895 Washington Boulevard, Ogden, UT 84401

After we finished gorging on the dozen donuts that we had bought from Madbrook Donut Company, Tina and I decided to head out and attempt to walk off those donuts on the Ogden River Parkway. The trail itself spanned over 17 miles, but we only tackled a small stretch that we picked up near their apartment. It also gave me the opportunity to break out the DSLR camera I had brought with me to capture some of the beautiful outdoor scenery in that area.

By the time that we finished our walk, it was pretty much getting close to lunchtime. We decided to stick to a nearby spot that both Tina and Mike had been to before: Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub. Pizza and beer, no matter where I’ve gone, always seems to be a winning combination.

Slackwater is situated in a pretty good location right by the main highway running through the town of Ogden, where it also borders the Ogden River Parkway trail that Tina and I had been on earlier. The restaurant has both an indoor and outdoor seating area; since the weather was really nice, we opted to sit outdoors, where you could also partially hear/see the river. I’m not sure if there was some initial confusion on who would be covering our table, since it seemed like a little while before anyone stopped by. But once our waitress came over and welcomed us, the service was smooth after that.

Naturally, one of this place’s specialties was their variety of pizzas, complete with creative names and intriguing ingredient combinations. We were hungry enough though that we decided to start off with their smoked pork nachos and follow that up with some pizzas. In an effort to manage my gout, I went with a vegetarian option and ordered the Piper Pesto, which consisted of a pesto cream sauce, roasted garlic, a mix of cheese, tomatoes, and pine nuts. They went with the Italian Job, loaded up with pepperoni, salami, capicola ham, and some pepperoncinis.

One of the unfortunate things that rather slipped my mind was to get a flight of beers to sample while at Slackwater. I usually like to try the variety, rather than commit myself to a whole pint if I hadn’t tried something yet. It wasn’t before long that our nachos arrived to get things started. A plate of tortilla chips topped with some house-smoked shredded pork, smoked poblano and Anaheim chilis, diced tomatillos, cilantro, a three-cheese blend, chimichurri, and pico de gallo, these nachos certainly pack on the flavor as well as the heat. You definitely get the smoky flavors coming on from a combination of the ingredients, and I think the tortilla chips were actually finished with a light sprinkle of paprika as well that complimented everything. It was certainly a good way to get the tastebuds going.

The kitchen was on top of cranking out the pizzas, because we didn’t actually get to finish all the nachos before they arrived at the table. The pizzas themselves were actually a relatively good size (even for a personal portion), about the same diameter as a large dinner plate. The aromas started to creep up from the pizzas; I didn’t need any more convincing to dive in for the first bite. The crust came out just the way I like it: a slight crisp on the outside with a chewy inside. I think they had the roasted garlic oil brushed on the pizza before they dropped the pesto cream sauce on there, because the way those flavors layered up was really nice. Even though the pine nuts provided a texture contrast to the rest of the pizza, I was a little ambivalent on having them added on there as a topping from a taste perspective. I did like that the feta cheese provided that flavor contrast from the rest of the ingredients as well.

With a nice, casual atmosphere and a wide selection of things to eat & drink, Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub is a great place to hit up whether you’re looking for a quick weeknight meal or relaxing on the weekend. I’m a person that definitely appreciates some crazy combinations when it comes to food, and quite a few of the other pizza options that were on Slackwater’s menu really sounded fascinating (I’m looking at you, Taste of Thai or Tikka Masala). The next time I come out to visit, a pizza sampler (coupled with a high amount of resulting leftover pizza) should definitely be on the agenda.

Let’s now take a look at the Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** Char-Tipped Smoked Pork Chili-Verde Nachos **
Shredded house-smoked pork, smoked poblano and Anaheim chilis, tomatillos, and cilantro over a plate of tortilla chips. Finished with a three-cheese blend, chimichurri, and pico de gallo.

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** Piper Pesto **
Pesto cream sauce and roasted garlic base, topped with a three-cheese blend, diced tomatoes, pine nuts, and feta cheese.

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** Italian Job **
Garlic infused olive oil and tomato sauce base with pepperoni, salami, capicola ham, and three-cheese blend, finished with pepperoncinis and a Parmesan herb vinaigrette drizzle.

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And finally, here are my rankings for Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub:

Food: 4.5 / 5

The plentiful selection of pizzas is sure to keep you occupied with eating through their menu for a while. On top of the wide range of options, the food tastes great as well.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

The feel of the place is slightly different between the indoor and outdoor seating, but not by much. I found the outdoor seating to be pretty refreshing to enjoy the beautiful weather. They also set up live music and events inside the dining area as well.

Service: 4.25 / 5

Even though the initial waitstaff confusion led to us sitting around and waiting to put our drink orders in, after our waitress realized the issue, she made a point to periodically stop by and see how we were doing. The food also cranked out of the kitchen at a rapid pace as well.

Price: 4.25 / 5

The appetizer pricing might have been a little on the steep side, but I think that the pizza pricing wasn’t too bad, considering the larger quantity of ingredients that they were using to assemble their pizzas.

Overall:
17.25 / 20
(86%)

MADBROOK DONUT COMPANY

ADDRESS: 540 E 1700 S, Clearfield, UT 84015

No trip out to see my friends Mike and Tina is complete without finding something to quell our sweet tooth cravings. Saturday morning rolled around and I tagged along with Tina while she had an appointment at a local shop in downtown Ogden. On the way back to the apartment, we decided to take a slight detour and hit up Madbrook Donut Company to bring back some breakfast.

Once we walked into the shop, Tina did my already-waning diet no favors by saying that we were going to grab a dozen donuts. There was a glass display case situated right when you get into line, showing off all the fresh batches made that morning. When a type of donut in the display case ran out, there were mobile racks filled with trays of additional donuts, ready to swap out in a moment’s notice.

Featuring a mix of cake and yeast donuts, Madbrook certainly had quite a variety to choose from. Their signature style appeared to be the triangular shape of their yeast donuts, which was also represented on the store’s logo. Tina and I split up the selection duties: she loaded up the box with a half dozen original glazed and one maple glazed, while I finished it with a chocolate glazed, two blueberry cake, a sour cream cake, and a chocolate peanut butter cake. It certainly made for a very diverse sampler of the flavors Madbrook had to offer.

The ride back to the apartment was rough, since the smell of the donuts wafted its way around the inside of the car. Once we got back into the apartment though, everyone went to town. I took a knife out and starting cutting up some smaller pieces to sample; boy, were those original glazed donuts pretty spot-on. The inside texture was light and fluffy, exactly how you would want a yeast donut to be, with a thin layer of glaze on the outside that gave it just enough sweetness.

I switched over to sample one of the blueberry cake donuts and while it was still very flavorful, the cake texture certainly felt a little more dense. Now, I’m normally more of a cake donut type of guy, but in Madbrook’s case I think I preferred the delicate nature that they were able to execute the yeast donuts and turn them into little “pillows of sugar.” Experience definitely guided Tina’s choice of loading up the box with six of the original glazed donuts, and I’m definitely glad that she did. I think by the time that we had finished the first round of attack, only a little over half the donuts remained standing.

Whether you’re looking for a breakfast fix or happen to get a donut craving in the middle of the afternoon, you can’t go wrong with stopping by the Madbrook Donut Company. With such a wide variety of donuts to choose from, they’ll certainly have something to fit your mood. But don’t take just my word for it: Madbrook made it onto Food Network chef Alton Brown’s list as one of his 14 favorite donut shops in the country.

Let’s now take a look at the Madbrook Donut Company Donut Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended donuts.

** Chocolate glazed (top) **
** Chocolate peanut butter (top) **
** Original glazed (middle) **
** Blueberry (right) **
** Sour cream (middle right) **
** Maple glazed (bottom left) **

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And finally, here are my rankings for Madbrook Donut Company:

Food: 5 / 5

Those original glazed donuts are really the shining example of something so simple, but so good. With such a variety of donuts to choose from, you’ll be hard pressed to not find something that sounds delicious.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

The storefront is a pretty open space, with high ceilings and a big floor footprint behind the counter. The display cases are consistently stocked with donuts, with the back-up racks kept nearby for quick tray swap-outs. There’s also an adjacent storefront space that looks like it was re-purposed to become a small dining area.

Service: 4.5 / 5

The shop staff were very welcoming and patient with us as we were looking around the display case making our decisions. With some donuts flying off the shelf, the racks got replaced quickly, helping expedite the line.

Price: 4.75 / 5

If I remember correctly, you could get each donut for about $1.50 or less. Given the consistent quality of all the donuts that we had, I don’t think that’s a price you can argue with.

Overall:
18.5 / 20
(93%)

UMAMI RESTAURANT & SUSHI BAR

ADDRESS: 3042 West New Haven Avenue, West Melbourne, FL 32904

Ever since moving down to Florida back in December, I had been on the hunt to find some good sushi. That search initially brought me to Seito Sushi up in Orlando, where it was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment. After that, I decided to turn my search closer to home and stick within the Melbourne area to see what I could find. Umami Restaurant and Sushi Bar popped up on the radar, with some relatively good reviews and nice looking pictures of sushi rolls (some of which were identical to the ones from my visit to Seito). My friend Shyam said he wanted to take a break from eating pizza for 4 consecutive days, so we headed over to give Umami a shot.

Located inside the Metro West shopping plaza, Umami is a few storefronts down from the Subway (I actually drove right by it the first time searching the plaza for the place). The dining area is relatively smaller, probably able to accommodate 25 – 30 people total. There’s the option to either sit at tables or at the sushi bar, located all the way at the back of the restaurant. The feel of the dining area still stayed relatively on the casual side, although the lighting was dimmed down a little bit and added a slightly intimate vibe to the atmosphere. Darkened front windows helped to filter out any bright lights from the exterior as well, preserving that atmosphere throughout the restaurant. For a Saturday evening, the crowd was pretty light, with only a handful of tables occupied when we got there. The hostess led us over to a table and gave us the menus, where we began to ponder over the sushi roll selection.

Like I mentioned above, I was certainly surprised to find a couple of identical sushi rolls at Umami that I had seen up at Seito Sushi in Orlando: the Distinguished Gentleman and Corona were two that jumped out on the list. I’m not sure if those rolls are a regional specialty, since I hadn’t heard of either until coming out to this area. Shyam and I wanted to give several different rolls a try, so we each ordered two apiece. I went with the Distinguished Gentleman and Boba Fett, while he went with the Bang Dang and Corona.

It probably helped that there was a light number of people in the restaurant eating at the time, because the sushi chefs were pretty efficient about getting our food out to us fast. Shyam had gotten an order of edamame to help tide over his hunger, and it was just as we were finishing off the last few pieces when both plates of sushi came. Shyam’s plate had a more elegant look, with the Corona Roll arranged diagonally across the whole plate and the Bang Dang Roll split up on each side. On my plate, the Boba Fett Roll was the more interesting plating arrangement of the two: all pieces were placed in a circular pattern, with a large mound of crab salad dropped right on top and garnished with some scallions.

The Distinguished Gentleman Roll was one I had tried at Seito Sushi and, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really that impressed. It was my hope that Umami could redeem my impression of the roll, and I think that it was successful in that regard. In almost a mini-interpretation of a “surf-and-turf,” the Distinguished Gentleman features a combination of Maine lobster and seared rare beef, complimented by avocado, masago, and scallions, finished with jalapeño slices, truffle salt, and wasabi aioli on top. The flavors of the jalapeño and wasabi combined well to contrast with some of the more subtle flavors from the other ingredients. I do think, however, that the wasabi aioli might have been too overpowering that it drowned out the more subtle flavor of the lobster.

As for the other roll that I ordered, the Boba Fett, I think that I preferred that one over the Distinguished Gentleman. At the base, it was a California Roll wrapped in avocado, topped with crab salad, baked scallop chunks, masago, and finished with some eel sauce and scallions. What I liked about it though, was that the spicy and savory flavors of the crab salad accentuated the California Roll (avocado and crab stick) really well, with the eel sauce adding some sharper contrast from the other flavors. The sushi chefs were pretty generous with the crab salad when they were plating the roll, which definitely helped me to load it up when I was constructing each bite.

In the search for quality sushi in the Melbourne area, I was able to find a winner in Umami Restaurant and Sushi Bar. With a wide selection of signature rolls, eclectic flavor combinations, and reasonable prices, Umami checked all the boxes for what I was looking for when I set out on my sushi restaurant quest. Even though the restaurant might be tucked away in a sea of other storefronts in the shopping plaza, be sure not to miss it. I know I’m already looking forward to the next opportunity to stop by and try some more sushi rolls.

Let’s now take a look at the Umami Restaurant & Sushi Bar Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

** The Distinguished Gentleman — pictured left **
Maine lobster and avocado on the inside, layered with seared rare beef and jalapeño slices on top, finished with masago, truffle salt, and wasabi aioli

** The Boba Fett — pictured right **
California Roll wrapped with avocado and topped with crab salad, baked scallops, masago, and eel sauce

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** The Bang Dang — pictured left and right **
Tempura coconut shrimp, mango, and cream cheese on the inside, topped with tuna, blue crab salad, and eel sauce

The Corona — pictured middle
Grilled shrimp, tempura asparagus, and cucumber inside, wrapped with avocado and topped with blue crab, pico de gallo, and cilantro

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The Atkins
Tuna, salmon, white fish, yellowtail, and avocado, all wrapped with cucumber and served in a ponzu sauce

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** The Godfather — pictured top and bottom **
Fried lobster tail with cream cheese and asparagus on the inside, topped with salmon, tuna, masago, and garnished with eel sauce

** The Trinity — pictured middle **
Salmon, tuna, and yellowtail on the inside, topped with avocado and sliced lemon, garnished with puffed rice cracker, cilantro, and yuzu tobiko

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** The Cajun Salmon **
Spicy blue crab salad, avocado, and asparagus on the inside, topped with torched salmon, lemon dill aioli, and tobiko

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And finally, here are my rankings for Umami Restaurant & Sushi Bar:

Food: 5 / 5

Diversity in flavors is key here, as there are quite a few signature rolls to choose from. Each roll I tried brought a different flavor combination to the table, while still maintaining a fresh taste from all the ingredients.

Atmosphere: 4.25 / 5

Our waitress was pleasant and checked back with us frequently during the course of the meal. The sushi chefs didn’t keep us waiting too long either, with all four rolls arriving expeditiously.

Service: 4.25 / 5

With the smaller seating capacity and dimmed lighting, the dining area does seem to give off a semi-intimate feel. Black dining furniture tie in well with the light-colored walls and decorations.

Price: 4.5 / 5

I thought the price points for the various rolls was pretty reasonable, especially given some of the more premium ingredients used. For the quality of the rolls that I got, I’d certainly pay those prices again.

Overall:
18 / 20
(90%)

GEN KOREAN BBQ HOUSE

ADDRESS: 2721 Seaglass Way, Oxnard, CA 93036

Gen Korean BBQ House, Photo 1

Korean BBQ is something that I haven’t gotten to eat much since moving down to the southern Maryland area. For those that aren’t familiar, it’s a fun experience because a grill is embedded into your table, where you cook all your food for the meal. The waitstaff brings out any of the raw meats that you ordered and you’ll be in control of your culinary fate from there. When I worked at my last job up closer to D.C., my friends and I would frequent some local Korean BBQ houses in Annandale, which was an area hotspot for Korean food.

This past weekend marked the start of my family’s two week trip out to Hawaii. However, the first two days were spent on a pit stop to Ventura county (west of Los Angeles) to tag up with my brother Kevin living there, so we could get everyone together before flying out to the islands. Kevin suggested that we hit up the local Korean BBQ house; it had probably been at least a year since I had eaten that cuisine, so I was pretty stoked about it.

Our first night in California marked our first attempt to go there — the place, however, was packed with people. We were quoted about an hour and a half wait at 8 p.m., too long for our hungry stomachs to hold out. We decided to venture back to the BBQ house the following night, with much better luck. With a party of five (we picked up Kevin’s girlfriend Alina on the way), we were seated in about five minutes of arriving. We timed it well too, since the place started jamming up with a line out the door not long after we got there!

The design of the restaurant had a lot of modern aesthetics to it, featuring a blend of glass and wood elements. 10-foot tall glass windows at the front entrance gave a view inside the restaurant, with more glass panes dividing the dining room into different sections once inside. The front dining area was well-lit during the daytime, due to the proximity to the windows. Larger groups were sat further into the restaurant, with some of the higher capacity tables having two grills.

The concept of the restaurant was pretty easy: pay $20 per person and order as many of the 30+ items that they offer on their menu. They certainly had a wide selection available: pork belly, bulgogi (chicken, beef, or pork), shrimp, beef brisket, you name it. We ordered a ton of food during our first round, so when the waitstaff came around to drop off all the items, our table became so crowded that we needed to start putting the plates on the window counter next to us.

Gen Korean BBQ House, Photo 2

Gen Korean BBQ House, Photo 3

We loaded up the grill with everything we could, but even then we still had plates piled up with raw meats waiting to get cooked to deliciousness. From the raw meat perspective, I think that my favorites were all three of the bulgogi items and the pork belly. We also got two plates of their fried chicken (sweet & spicy and sesame), both of which were also tasty additions to the meal.

Gen Korean BBQ House, Photo 4

Gen Korean BBQ House, Photo 5

I was excited to try out Korean BBQ on the west coast, since I had heard much about its popularity on this side of the U.S. Overall, I think that Gen did satisfy my Korean BBQ craving, but did not exceed my expectations. I wouldn’t mind going back there again, but I’m not sure if I would wait out an extended period of time to get a table (like what seems to happen frequently).

Let’s now take a look at the Gen Korean BBQ House Dish Listing. This is done a bit differently from my traditional dish photos section, as there were a ton of items that I sampled. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.

Gen Signature Steak
Premium Chuck Rib Eye

Gen Chadol
Thinly Sliced Premium Beef Brisket

** Gen Beef Bulgogi **
Thinly Sliced and Marinated Sweet & Savory Beef

** Gen Pork Bulgogi **
Thinly Sliced and Marinated Sweet & Savory Pork

Woo Baesal
Premium Beef Belly

** Chicken Bulgogi **
Marinated Sweet & Savory Chicken

** Samgyubsal **
Premium Pork Belly

** Smoked Garlic Samgyubsal **
Marinated Pork Belly with Smoked Garlic

** Miso Samgyubsal **
Marinated Pork Belly with Miso

Cajun Shrimp
Marinated Shrimp with House Special Cajun Sauce

Garlic Calamari
Marinated Garlic Calamari

** Crispy Sesame Chicken **
Fried and Marinated Chicken

** K.F.C. (Korean Fried Chicken) **
Fried and Marinated Chicken with Sweet & Spicy Sauce

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And finally, here are my rankings for Gen Korean BBQ House:

Food: 4 / 5

While the selection was pretty extensive to cater to a variety of tastes people might have, I think that this might have been a case where quantity detracted from the quality. With over 30+ offerings, some of them missed the mark flavor-wise.

Atmosphere: 4.5 / 5

Like I mentioned above, I really enjoyed the modern feel that the glass and wood design elements brought to the overall ambiance. The consistent sizzling noises from neighboring tables, accompanied by the smells wafting over, made you even more anxious for your food to finish cooking.

Service: 3.25 / 5

My general impression from the waitstaff was that they were more interested in turning the table to get more people in the restaurant, rather than making you feel welcome dining at the restaurant. Our waitress always seemed like she was in a hurry and we had to consistently request to get our waters refilled. Spent plates piled up until we motioned for them to get taken away by other waitstaff in the area.

Price: 4.5 / 5

With a $20 / person price tag for dinner ($15 / person for lunch), the volume of food that you could consume just can’t be beat. Give me a few plates of the pork bulgogi, garlic pork belly, and the crispy sesame chicken and I’d be all set.

Overall:
16.25 / 20
(81%)

Gen Korean BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

BONEFISH GRILL

Address: 447 State Route 35, Middletown, NJ 07748

A few nights ago, my family decided to head over to the new Bonefish Grill that recently set up in the Whole Foods shopping plaza. I have been really excited about this place since my friend Bryan told me about it back in October, mostly because of the great things I have heard about Bonefish Grill locations in other parts of the country. When we were down in Sarasota, Florida, one time, we were going to try the Bonefish Grill down there, but the wait was about an hour and a half long. Needless to say, we moved on to find another place to eat that night; however, I’m really glad that a Bonefish Grill opened up so close to home.

When you first walk in (there is a huge revolving door, by the way), it is impressive how much the decor really sets the tone for the restaurant. Dim lighting, selectively-placed wall art, and the LED candle at every table complimented the sand/black color theme that had the place feeling a little more upscale. Make no mistake, the prices on the menu do reflect that upscale factor a bit more, but the quality of the food makes up for it in every way.

On the Wednesday night that we went there, they have $5 Bang Bang Shrimp special, which is a discounted price off their normally $8.80 appetizer, which is a lightly breaded shrimp tossed in a spicy pepper sauce. I have to say that that was one of the best shrimp appetizers that I’ve had in quite a long time. The perfect blend of crispiness, heat, and flavor that really starts off the meal in a great way; I could order two of those and call it a meal. As for their other main courses, they do offer a wide variety of seafood-based dishes, utilizing salmon, tilapia, lobster, tuna, mahi mahi, and shrimp, to name a few. They also do offer up a selection of meat-based dishes such as steaks and chicken marsala (which is extremely delicious as well). I went with the Lobster Thermidor Dorado, which was a grilled mahi mahi served with lobster, crab, Florida rock shrimp, and a sherry sauce. The plate also came with two sides of some garlic whipped potatoes and herbed Jasmine rice, both of which paired well with the seafood entree. I was very impressed with how well the flavor of the sauce complimented the grilled flavors on the seafood items; the chefs in the kitchen really hit that spot on.

This new addition to the Middletown dining scene deserves a try by any seafood-loving resident in the area. They have fantastic food, great service, and a nice atmosphere, all packaged into a nifty space designed into the corner of the shopping plaza.

Here are my rankings for Bonefish Grill:

Food: 5 / 5
The flavors were absolutely excellent, the seafood tasted fresh, and the selection of seafood items to choose from was also outstanding.

Atmosphere: 5 / 5
Even though the inside seemed a bit dark at times, I think that overall the decor really brought out a nice upscale feel to the meal.

Service: 5 / 5
Our waitress Stephanie was really fantastic. She was really nice, came back to check on our table very frequently, and was extremely knowledgeable about many of the items on the menu when we asked her what she recommended. Even though the waitstaff should be able to describe dishes to the guests, she was even meticulous in being able to describe how each dish was prepared.

Price: 4 / 5
The price of the food is going to make your wallet unhappy and the portion sizes are a little smaller for how much you are paying. I think, however, that the quality of the food matches up to what you’re paying for.

Overall: 19 / 20 (95%)

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