Bonchon – Ellicott City, MD – 05/24/20

Today was a really nice day. The weather was good, it was slightly overcast, and was perfect for me to go driving around for a couple of hours with my radio playing and my windows slightly down to let me breathe in the fresh air. While I was at one of my stops, I was trying to decide what I would be eating for lunch. I saw that there was a Bonchon (Chicken) close by, and decided to go there. I have passed by a couple of these in Maryland in the past, but never stopped in.

Bonchon Chicken is a South Korean fried chicken restaurant franchise. I plan on having a hamburger tomorrow, so I wanted something other than a sandwich for lunch. This sounded like a perfect opportunity. Since there is social distancing and no sitting in the restaurants, I just browsed the menu briefly and picked the first thing that sounded really good to me. I decided to go with half and half chicken strips, and I chose to have soy garlic and sweet sticky. I chose to have Cole slaw as my side.

I started with the Cole slaw. This was really good. It had a nice kick to it. I enjoyed the fresh taste of the ingredients – they were still crispy and not soggy. This was a really good Cole slaw, so I was also looking forward to the chicken.

The chicken strips were bigger than I expected. You can’t tell by the picture, but eating half the order still filled me up. The sweet sticky were very sweet. There was a nice crispy exterior, and the chicken was cooked to perfection on the inside. The soy garlic had the same texture, but the flavor was much better. I could smell it in my car on the drive home, and the flavor did not disappoint. I think these would have been better if I had eaten them in restaurant instead of 25 minutes later, but they were still good. I was wishing that I had more of the soy garlic sauce, since it was really good.

I like the packaging for this as well. Although the ventilation meant that the heat would escape, it also meant that it would not be steaming in a sealed container. There were a few people who just sat next to their car eating, and I understand why they did it. I decided to look up their menu on-line, and they have a lot of good options. This is a place that I will be trying again, and I’m sure I will have another great food experience!

Harvest Fried Chicken – Woodbine, MD

Yesterday, I decided to go to Harvest Fried Chicken for lunch. I used to go to a dentist’s office that was in the same shopping center, so I saw the place, but I always had morning appointments, so I was done before it opened. Even if it had been open, I tend to not want to eat some food right after my teeth are feeling really clean. I kept thinking about going over there, but never made my way. It’s been about a year and a half since I last went to the dentist, and it was an out of sight, out of mind thing.

When I was visiting Pittsburgh for my new job, I was talking with one of my co-workers. He was also a co-worker when I had a job in Baltimore, but he left a few years ago to be back in Pittsburgh and to work with a good company (our current employer). I was talking about how I enjoy trying different foods and like finding places to do during my travels. He brought up Harvest Fried Chicken. It’s about 30 miles west of Baltimore, and he mentioned how he used to really enjoy going there. I knew the place, and so the thought was in my head of taking the time to go there. Yesterday was the right time.

This is in the middle of a sort of strip mall setting, and if you blink you might miss it. When you walk in, they definitely have a chicken theme. I think it’s pretty neat to see all the figurines and pictures all over the place. I could have taken another 10 pictures and still not captured everything. I think this makes it a fun setting.

They had some nice looking hot sides, but I already knew what I was going to be ordering. I had checked out the menu on-line and saw they had corn fritters, so I knew I would be getting those. I also wanted a drumstick for the dark meat and a breast for the white meat. They list a House Recipe Cole Slaw, so I figured I would round out my meal with that.

The corn fritters were little bite sized nuggets. I had the option of having powdered sugar, and I said yes. Not something that I’m used to, but if they offer it up, it must be something they usually do, so I wanted to try it that way. Having them as bite sized nuggets is perfect. They had a perfect crunch on the outside, and the inside had the nice sweet corn creaminess. A nice balance of textures and flavors. The powdered sugar on the outside gave it an extra boost of sweetness.

The Cole slaw was really good. The flavor was sweet and tangy at the same time. It was chopped very fine as well. The chicken was also very good. Nice and crispy on the outside, and the seasoning blend on the skin was really good. The inside was tender and juicy. It also had some really nice flavor to it. The seasoning was all the way through to the meat, so you could still get those nice flavors even if you only ate the meat.

I got a haircut, got my taxes squared away, and got some really good food for lunch. Definitely a great, positive day!

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – Frederick, MD

Today, I wanted to do some shopping down in Clarksburg, with the goal of heading up to Cracker Barrel for lunch. I thought if I got there before noon, I would beat the big crowds. There have been TV spots running about the Country Fried Turkey meal which looked too good to pass up.

I finished up my errands a little after 11:00 AM, and made my way up to the Cracker Barrel. I got there around 11:45 AM. I like the outside of this store. The sign is iconic and all of the ones that I’ve seen have rocking chairs out front.

When you first walk in, you enter their Country Store. You can easily just come here for the shopping, since they have a lot of options. I enjoy the old time or hard to find sodas and the hard to find candy. They have books, clothes, candles, CDs, kids toys, and much more. I was there to eat, so I headed over to take a seat.

The seating area is really neat. They have some vintage items and pictures all over the place, which really fits in with the theme. I was ready to order my food, but they had already run out of the Country Fried Turkey. I was a bit bummed out about it, but my server recommended the Homestyle Chicken, which is cooked in a similar fashion. I got it with green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and one other side, for which I chose mashed potatoes and gravy.

They start you out with a buttermilk biscuit and corn muffin. They were both warm, which made it easier to melt the butter. The biscuit was nice and soft and did not crumble easily. Very good flavor and I would have asked for more if I wasn’t going to be eating a big lunch. The corn muffin was also good. The texture was more similar to corn bread, but it absorbed the butter quite well.

Next up was my lunch. I’ll start with the green bean casserole. It had quite a few thin sliced mushrooms in there. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of mushrooms. I ate as many green beans as I could. The flavor of this was really good, and I would probably have loved it if I was a fan of mushrooms.

The mashed potatoes and gravy were also good. Good consistency to the mashed potatoes, good flavor to the gravy. The cranberry sauce was very mild, but still had a nice flavor. Just not a lot of tartness. The chicken was the star of this dish. This is boneless chicken, which I prefer. The crispness and the flavor of the coating were tremendous and on point. The juiciness of the chicken was incredible. Biting into the chicken was almost like butter. It was very tender. There was no dryness to the chicken at all, and the combination of flavors from the breading to the chicken made for a perfect bite.

Even though I did not end up ordering what I was hoping, I was very happy with what I ended up eating. The chicken was fantastic. I would not mind going back again and ordering this, even if the Country Fried Turkey is still on the menu. My favorite from Cracker Barrel is usually the Country Fried Steak, but this chicken was really close. It’s easy to have a positive day when you are eating good food like this!