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Yuengling – America’s Oldest Brewery

I was up in Pottsville over the weekend and finally went on a tour at the Yuengling Brewery. Yes, people, it’s indeed America’s Oldest Brewery. They even went to court to prove it. Since 1829… whew, that’s old! It’s still privately owned and run by the Yuengling family, and thank goodness too, as I can’t imagine Yuengling being part of Coors or Anheuser-Busch, or any other nonsense like that. It’s the second largest American owned brewery to boot, right after the Sam Adams folks.

The tour is kinda funny, informative, and a bit creepy, as they take you to the caves where the beer kegs used to be stored. And it’s not a luxurious cave, it’s a straight up dark, dank, wet cave. The temperature stays 50 degrees there all the time, that’s why it was perfect to store the brew. It’s interesting to look at the old equipment, as it’s all defunct now. Now it’s all about ones and zeros and robots, as is with most manufacturing these days.

I love seeing stuff being made, and this is truly my favorite part, watching the bottles go round and round. These green glass beauties are washed, filled, capped, labelled, and boxed all in one fairly small room. There are multiple Yuengling breweries in the US, and this original one is clearly the smallest one. This is where the tour is, and they still do make beer here. The brewing starts at 2AM.

Look at all them lagers.  Yes, lagers. For those of you not from the eastern part of pennsylvania, when you order a Yuengling lager, no need to ask for Yuengling lager, just ask for lager. We all know what plain old lager means. Yuengling is the king of beers around these parts. Go enjoy a cold one! Special thanks to captain ill for the photos!

Raleigh – Busy Bee Cafe Open On Sundays!

busybeemenu

Whenever I travel, it’s an opportunity to eat somewhere new. So I research. What’s wrong with that? I had planned on eating at Lantern in Chapel Hill. But it was closed. It’s closed on sundays. So I decided to go to Poole’s instead. It’s closed too. Fins? Closed. Second Empire? Closed. Foundation? Closed. Bloomsbury Bistro? Closed. ARGH. I’d never really experienced this restaurant being closed on sundays phenomenon before. It was so alien to me. It literally took me a few hours to find a place open. And no, I refused to go to fast food or a chain. But finally, I ended up at Busy Bee Cafe.

What a friggin cool place.  First off, it gets kudos for being open every day, including sunday! It’s in downtown Raleigh too, which is also quite cool. There was nothing much going around in the neighborhood, but the busy bee was still kickin. The place is adorable. Exposed brick, exposed joists, exposed ductwork, cool flooring, cool art, just cool everything. Did I mention that they were actually open? When you first come in, it looks a bit like a coffee shop. Then there’s a big bar with a dizzying number of booze bottles and an impressive beer selection. There’s a bunch of tables in the bar area. Then there’s a surprise upstairs dining area. Who knew?
busybeegrits

So I didn’t plan on getting grits again. Really, I swear I didn’t. But I couldn’t help myself. I asked the tattoo sleeved and well ear gauged server too and he said they were really good. So yeah, I got the shrimp and grits. C’mon, look at this thing! Cheesy grits with big ass shrimps, andouille sausage, and bell pepper. Savory and zesty, with the juicy crunch of shrimp and sausage, and the soft mush of grits. It was so good, I could not help myself! I’ll probably never have many chances to eat grits again, so I’m just trying to satisfy my grits tooth while I’m here.

busybeemac

There’s kind of a mix of items on the menu, including sandwiches, burgers, some taco type stuff, salads, and a few entrees. Something that I particularly liked was that all sandwiches and burgers came with your choice of sides. And this even included mac & cheese. I saw someone else order this so I had to order a side of it. It was made with penne, which is different, and it was very cheesy. It was good, but not great. The penne was a bit too al dente. Al dente is fine when it’s in a pasta dish, but it’s a bit too hard when it’s mac & cheese. I think it would have also been better if it had been baked. It was clearly not baked at all, and instead was just pasta drenched in a thick cheesy sauce. It was a high quality cheese sauce, but mac & cheese, especially in a restaurant, should be baked!

Good food, very affordable, and friendly service. And open every day of the week. These are all wins in my book! And man alive, could the male restaurant staff be easier on the eyes? Ladies, and some gents, take heed! When in Raleigh and in need of good drink and good food and some good visuals, to boot, look no further than Busy Bee Cafe! On sundays or any day!

Busy Bee Cafe on Urbanspoon

Percy Street Barbecue

Y’all know I’m not known for going to brand new restaurants right away. I like others to experience them early on while they’re still working out the kinks, so I can enjoy them later, once they’ve got their act together. But in an effort to enjoy a nice Christopher Columbus outing, we dared visit Percy Street Barbecue during their first week of business. I was intrigued by this place due to the central texas style bbq that they promise. I went to grad school in Austin, so I ate my fair share of bbq while I was there. I don’t claim to be an expert on bbq, or let alone food, but I do have plenty of experience in this field. And the bbq options in philly aren’t all that great. There certainly aren’t texas style bbq places around here. So I was hooked. Plus, I had watched this video of their trip to bbq mecca and I was optimistic that they would really be able to pull this off.
The space is pretty gorgeous and big. The menu is simple, and you can even see it written on these giant chalkboards by the kitchen. But this is a nice restaurant. Unlike the genuine bbq joints in texas, you won’t see brown paper strewn across tables. But you will get rolls of paper towels to use as napkins. So it’s a mix of modern design aesthetic and down home grubbing. Bottles of water in vinegar bottles are set on each table and you can even get 1/2 gallons or gallons of beer. These come in big brown glass jugs. It’s a lot of beer people, a lot. Please be warned. Meats are sold by the 1/2 lb and sides come small or large. The waitress recommended that for each person, 1/2 lb of meat and two small sides should suffice. We got large mashed potatoes, large german potato salad, two large mac and cheeses, small green beans, and small collard greens. Ok, so the number one gripe with this place is the paltry portions of the side dishes. Mac and cheese only comes in large, and this large is perhaps an elf’s definition of large. These are way too small, and the mac and cheese is way too good to be served this small. Please, this needs to be fixed.

The mashed potatoes seemed whipped, but were not completely smooth, so you know it was made from genuine potatoes. I liked them. The large portion was a genuine large portion. The potato salad was good too, but the large wasn’t quite large. The green beans were good, and the small portion seemed right. The collard greens were ok, and like the green beans, its small portion sizing seemed spot on. The collard greens could have been cooked down more and probably should be cut up into smaller pieces. It was a bit hard to maneuver the big hunks of green.Ok, onto the meats! We got everything but the sausage. Everything comes out in a tray and is served with white bread, pickles, and sliced raw onion. The accompaniments are pure central texas through and through, so I was impressed. There were 10 people in our party. We got 8 slices of bread. I’m pretty good at math but that simply does not add up. Are we supposed to cut this bread into pieces and share? Each person should get at least two pieces of bread(or more) on their own. This is how it should be done. There should be no sharing of bread. It’s white bread. I think you guys can swing it!

The ribs were ok. As you can see they are pretty big, but ribs are ribs. These are not baby back ribs where the meat falls of the bone. These require work, and it was just a bit too much work for me. But they tasted fine. Now the pork belly on the other hand, the pork belly was AMAZING. Yes, so amazing that I capitalized it all. This pork belly was some of the best bbq I’ve ever had in my life, but also some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life. No joke. I could eat this day and night, despite what my arteries may have to say about it. This is the best thing on the menu here. Heed my word. Forget everything else, it’s all about the pork belly here!

The brisket was ok. There are three options – moist, lean, and extra lean. We opted for the lean, but even the lean had a bit thick hunk of fat on top. The brisket was good, but it was too charred on the outside. The char is definitely not adding to the flavor. My favorite bbq in general is brisket (or at least it was until I had the pork belly here!) and whenever I’ve had it in texas, it never had char on the outside. It’s supposed to have a nice red ring around the edges due to the smoke, but there should be no char.

Everyone was disappointed with the chicken. R wanted the chicken to taste like oven roasted chicken or rotisserie chicken. She also felt the chicken was dry. No one else thought the chicken was dry. In fact, we found it quite moist and juicy, but it was bland. It was so, so, so boring and bland. It had absolutely no flavor at all. We told the manager none of us liked the chicken and he was shocked. He said the chicken was his favorite thing on the menu. Egads. If plain, flavorless, bland chicken is your thing, then go for the chicken here. If not, then avoid it at all costs. But if you do get it, be sure to bring some kind of sauce for it.

One other issue is the bbq sauce they have here. They only have one kind, and I assume they make it in-house, but it’s spicy. I like spice in pretty much everything, so I was fine with it. But for those that don’t like spice or can’t handle spice, be warned. This stuff has kick. And you don’t really get an option to have bbq without kick.

No one wanted any dessert, except for R. She wanted the chocolate layer cake. Man, was this thing disappointing. We thought the chicken couldn’t be topped, but this sure beat it. This cake was dry, dry like the freakin Sahara, and it tasted like yellow cake mix from the grocery store. And not even Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker, I’m thinking generic no-frills yellow cake mix. We passed this around and after everyone took a bite, everyone had to drink. Cakes should be moist. What a cake fail! But we did end the evening on a high note. We didn’t order the pecan pie, but it showed up. I think it helped that we spent a whole crapload of money in their first week in business and that we gave them some honest constructive feedback. This pie was awesome! It wasn’t freakishly sweet like some pecan pies I’ve had before, this was just sweet enough. I wholeheartedly recommend this pie.

So the service needs some work. The amount of time it took for our drinks to come out was not really acceptable. We were just sitting there wondering where our drinks were, for a very long time. This desperately needs to be improved. But the food came out pretty quick, so we were impressed with that. And the servers are nice and friendly. So basically, there were definitely hits and misses with the food here. The pork belly and the brisket are hits, as are the sides, and the pecan pie, but the portions of the sides, the chicken, and the chocolate layer cake are severe misses. But would I eat here again? Hell yeah, as I’ve been dreaming about the pork belly ever since!
Percy Street Barbecue on Urbanspoon

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