Category Archives: Harrisonburg

Goodbye Harrisonburg

Well, I’ve received my diploma and now it’s back to Yorktown. I’m so happy that I started my food blog while I was in the Shenandoah Valley. It didn’t take me long to realize how lucky I was to go to school in such an amazing place.

With the countless farms and many delicious restaurants, I was glad I could share some of my experiences with my readers.  And of course I’ll be making some trips back up to the ‘burg and indulging in all the delicious food that my hometown for four years had to offer.

Although this is goodbye to Harrisonburg, it’s a hello to many new places — and many new restaurants. I hope you’ll keep reading.

First stop? Disneyworld.

Get ready…

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Zynodoa

I think it took my parents and I about 10 minutes to actually say the name of this restaurant correctly. If it helps, think Shenandoah. Don’t get caught up on the name for too long though. Instead, focus on the delicious local food that this Staunton, VA restaurant has to offer.

I found out about Zynodoa by simply typing in “restaurant in Staunton, VA.” Of course, the name caught my eye and as I researched the place a little more I quickly realized I had to visit. Why? Not only do they get some of their food from Polyface Farm, they also have an extremely impressive chef.

Michael Lund’s resume includes six years at five-star The Inn at Little Washington (rated best restaurant in the world by Travel & Leisure Magazine) and has also cooked at Obama’s first state dinner. At first, when reading these credentials I couldn’t help but wonder why such an educated chef would want to come to Staunton. Now, after reading Omnivore’s Dilemma and watching Food Inc. I can see exactly why chefs would venture to the Shenandoah area. Lund incorporates so many farms into the menu and proudly advertises it right in the restaurant through a giant sign.

The atmosphere is very chic with light green walls, simple lights and a glowing bar.You can also see into some of the kitchen while sitting at many of the tables. My mom ordered a Manhattan from the bar ($10) and said it was one of the best she’s ever had. After travelling to pretty much every major city, I never would have thought that my mom’s favorite drink would come from Staunton.

With the delicious chive rolls with honey butter to start, I knew that my dad’s asparagus soup and my mom’s fennel salad were going to be just as good.

There was a lemon chive cream and croutons in the soup that complimented the fresh and light taste of the asparagus. My mom’s salad had feta cheese and a cabernet vinaigrette dressing. I’ve never seen a salad with such perfect lettuce. Every piece was so green and crispy. Perfect.

At this point, I was anxiously awaiting my surf and turf entree. When it arrived, I was anxiously awaiting to dig my fork in. It takes a lot of self-resistance in order to snap these pics for my blog. You’re welcome!

I got my meat done medium and of course it was cooked to perfection. I really do find it so annoying when meat isn’t cooked correctly whether it’s rare, medium, well-done etc. When you get a chef like Lund in the kitchen, you’re guaranteed perfection.

The diver scallops were the biggest ones I have ever seen. There were more of the in-season asparagus underneath. Also, the light lemony tarragon sauce (that’s a guess) was great mixed togther with the flank steak and pureed potatoes. Every bite was so flavorful and because it was all local, it was all so fresh.

My mom got the Polyface Pork Loin. I went to Polyface a week ago and visited the happy pigs at the famous farm. I couldn’t help but think about them when I saw my mom’s plate. But eh, I got over it and reached across the table to get a bite.

Zynodoa’s “Inspired Southern Cuisine” (as their menu puts it) means it’s almost a given that grits would be on the menu. A warm bacon vinaigrette was underneath.  After my bite, I can now see why Polyface’s practices with their animals are so highly regarded. It makes for amazing food.

The fresh food continued with dessert. My mom got a cheese platter with three different type of cheese including goat with pepper lining the eges.My dad got a delicous chocolate tort that was so dense when cutting it with a fork. Yet, when eating it it seemed so light.

The second I saw brioche french toast on the menu I knew I had to order it. With a black pepper blackberry syrup and a maple ice cream it really was a great ending to a delicious night.

Zynodoa proved to be one of the those restaurants that’ll you’ll never forget. With only two weeks left in the Valley it was nice to be reminded how lucky I am to have lived in the area for four years. Local food has made an impact on me because of living here and Zynodoa made me realize just how amazing local can be.

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Jack Brown’s Freestyle

Still trying to get all my burgers in at JBs. Every Saturday is freestyle and yesterday’s was the Hawaiian. Fresh ham, pepperjack cheese and two slices of pineapple. Didn’t think I would like it, but as always Jack Brown’s proved me wrong.

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Xenia

Staying true to my hypothesis about good food in shopping centers, I went to Xenia the other night to test it out. I love a good gyro (I’m glad I don’t have to worry about pronunciation when writing a blog) and I heard Xenia has one of the best in the ‘burg.

My friend and I started out with an appetizer of the garlic pita. Cut into slices, the pita had olive oil and garlic brushed on top. Even better, we got to pick two sauces to go along with it.We had the zesty lime cilantro and the Mediterranean Special Sauce. I liked the latter better, but to be honest the pita was best when just eaten by itself. It was crispy but soft on the inside. In other words it was Greek’s version of garlic bread. And it was better.

One thing I found strange about Xenia was their selling of Boardwalk Fries. They really push the whole authentic Mediterranean feel, but staring at light-up sign reading “Boardwalk Fries” makes it hard to become lost in the authenticity. That being said…I went ahead and ordered an authentic gyro: Steak and Cheese with fries.

Yeah, there’s a gyro under all those fries. I managed to dig through the fries and finally find my somewhat Greek gyro. I would have liked a little more meat and a little less tzatzki sauce. I would have also liked a little less dill in the sauce. One of the things that really stood out in this meal was the pita. It was really fresh and light.

My friend actually did go the authentic route and ordered the Madrid.Chicken with rice, black beans and a spicy hot sauce all for $6.95. Every time she goes to Xenia she says she’s always going back to this exact dish and I can see why. The chicken was marinated with Spanish seasonings and all the flavors worked really well together.

I’m sad that it took me so long to get to Xenia and I feel stupid that I haven’t been listening to the good reviews from friends. I’d recommend stearing clear from the fries (they were still delicious) if you want some of the real food that Xenia has to offer.

Oh, and in case you were wondering Xenia is the Greek “concept of hospitality”. I’ve been curious about that since the place first went up. And yes, the place fits their name perfectly.

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Sushi Jako

I have kept meaning to put this post up for awhile now. Whenever my friend is craving sushi, which is pretty often, she always insists on going to Sushi Jako.

My first time visiting I’ll admit I was going in with low standards. I was used to the sushi at Beyond downtown and to go elsewhere just seemed plain wrong. Plus Jako is in a shopping center and that to me never seems like a tempting place for food. Although as I am typing this I am beginning to realize how some of my favorite restaurants are in shopping centers. Hmm, perhaps when I’m extremely bored I’ll look into that some more.

When you walk into the place there is not much to write home about. A fake croaking frog acts as their bell to sound when customers enter and a sign reads “Please Watch Your Step.” The floor is completely level so I’m still confused about that one.

There are a few tables to sit at or you can take a seat at the sushi bar and watch your food be made right in front of you. My friend and I went for a table during both of our visits. We didn’t want to have to deal with any awkward small talk like one may have to do with a bartender. “So, uhh how long have you been rolling sushi?” Silence —frog croak — silence.

The wall of Jako’s is a giant beach mural with a few real seashells super-glued randomly throughout. Much like the frog and the sign, I’m not getting a connection with this decoration.

After enjoying the beach scenery, I decided to start out with the salad. During both visits my friend ordered the miso soup. And both times (with different waiters) I was given miso soup as well. I don’t know why this is, but lucky for them I never wanted to make the correction. The soup is delicious, whether you order it or not.

I absolutely love asian salads, mostly because of the gingery salad dressing. The size of the salad doesn’t hurt either.

Jako has plenty of Japanese and Korean food to offer other than sushi. If sushi is not what you’re looking for they also offer tempura, noodles, and teriyaki dishes. But sushi is what I was looking for and that’s what I checked off. Yes, checked off. Like most sushi places, you can pick your sushi and quantity simply by taking a given piece of paper and checking off what you want. Interactive dining!

I chose the crunchy spicy California roll and the Washington Roll (top of picture).

While the Washington roll was good, with cucumber, masago and crab, I found myself wanting more of the spicy California. Plus, I have to say sometimes having the fish eggs, which were on the Washington, can make  me a little uneasy. The spicy sushi, with crab, avocado and masago also had what seemed like bread crumbs rolled around the outside of it. Even better, this sushi was never to spicy.

Jako has made me a fan and I know I will be going back for some more sushi — and miso soup if my friend orders it.

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JB’s

Well, I can check off another burger at Jack Brown’s. On Sunday I went with some friends and got the burger of the day, the Chiflet. I don’t understand the name but I do understand why JBs (abbreviation makes it hip!) serves it. It comes with cheese, egg and bacon on top their quality beef. Adding the secret dipping sauce to the burger was a good addition too.

When I took my first bite the aroma of the egg, bacon and cheese reminded me of a breakfast sandwich. The menu says this is the burger to cure what “ales” you.  Crazy Saturday nights!

While the burger was great, I still am going to have to say my favorite as of yet is Friday’s Greg Brady. Let’s not count out the other four quite yet….

TO BE CONTINUED….

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Tacos El Primo

Every time I drive to class and prior to experiencing the frustration of looking for a parking spot, I always pass the giant blue taco truck. When I lived in NYC this past summer I noticed it was the norm to order food from a truck. I saw cupcake trucks (delicious), schnitzel trucks,  and rice ball trucks throughout the city and the prices were always a steal compared to the other dining places around. But, it seems as though plenty of JMU students are a bit wary when it comes to ordering tacos from a truck in Harrisonburg.

I went with my two friends who were willing to experience the truck. This one has only been in the area for about a year while their other taco truck has been in the area for a few years.

The menu is pretty simple at Tacos El Primo, as is there method of payment: cash only. Maybe not that simple is their hours. The sign says 10 am-10pm seven days a week, yet when I drove by at 8 pm the truck had closed up shop. Go during lunch or dinner time and you should be fine.  You have the selection of tacos, quesadilla, burras (note: when you google image this you get donkeys. I’m not fluent in Spanish but I’m going to say they’re burritos), and tortas. The torta is a Mexican sub with your choice of meat. I went with a steak taco and chicken quesadilla.

With both the taco and quesadilla a cup of a spicy sauce came along. I was happy that I ordered a bottle of water. The soft taco with cilantro was delicious and was the perfect amount for the dollar price tag. While we sat and ate our tacos the nicest lady ever continued to cook up our quesadillas. It was getting windy outside but we battled the weather and sat out at one of the two tables. When our quesadillas were ready I set mine down on the plastic table to get a quick snap shot for my faithful blog readers! Within two seconds my entire plate blew up into the wind and suddenly my dinner was laying on the pavement. I felt horrible, but then out of nowhere I heard the nice taco lady utter the words, “I’ll make you another one.” Could she be nicer? YES. She brought the food to my car. Curbside!

The chicken quesadilla was delicious and cheesy. It was much bigger than I thought it would be for $3. My friends were surprised that when they asked for sour cream it was an extra 50 cents, but the grand total for all the food was really nothing to complain about. My meal plus the water was $5.

New York City is a long way from Harrisonburg, but even here, truck food is delicously cheap.

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