Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in Philadelphia PA

Cheese bread, meatballs, and turkey spread

My selections from the salad bar

Sirloin: One of the many cuts served

Vanilla ice cream with hot bananas

Restaurant Week in Philly ends this Friday, and started last week. Chima is only participating in the dinner discount, which is $35 per person for any choice of courses the restaurant offers. Chima offers a limited riodizio for $35, and a complete riodizio with premium cuts for over $50. The limited option was quite enough, and my family and I went with that.

I've been to other riodizios, and Chima falls under the fancier end of the spectrum. The interior design is a little overwhelming, but once you are seated and settled in, you can appreciate the contemporary decor-- good for business or pleasure. The salad bar is almond shaped and placed in the middle of the main dining room, and one can actually make a meal from it. I loved my selections of black quinoa with edamame, endives with walnuts, roasted peppers with fresh mozzarella, and seafood salad with plump pieces of shrimp, scallops, and squid. This represented just a tenth of the offerings, so you can imagine the rest. The cuts I tried were parmesan encrusted pork, sirloin and flank steaks, and I skipped the chicken and the fish. Everything was prepared very nicely, and the gauchos were entertaining as usual.

As pleasant as it was, I did notice the service was quite slow, which may be due to it being Restaurant Week. When it gets like this, be sure to get the cuts you like when it comes or ask for them specifically, lest you want to be left hanging. The limited selection of rodizio also fell a little flat for me. When a place is this nice and gives itself top billing, diners tends to expect more, which is why I'm not giving Chima a standing ovation.

Chima Brazilian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Moo Hope in New Hope PA

It was such a treat to go to Moo Hope! Upon seeing its sign as we passed it on our way to lunch, I knew I had to come right back for a midday dessert. So many flavors to try and such a bright and happy place to be in! I chatted with the server, who may well be the manager/owner, who told us about the planned developments and extensions to the place. They may be closed for the winter, but in a couple of years, there's a plan for outdoor and riverview seating, along with a savory menu.

Between my friend and myself, we picked three flavors, and all were so delicious. The highlight was when I asked for the Elvis flavor on top... which came out as "I'd like Elvis on top," and elicited a lot of laughter. This flavor is a combination of chocolate and banana ice creams with peanut butter swirls. We also got a Cappuccino Crunch, with coffee ice cream and chocolate covered espresso beans, and good old Cookie Dough.

A regular sized cup, the smallest for adults, can be split into two flavors. It was a good size for me, but if I'm to get through the entire list of flavors, I may have to upsize next time!

P.S. I recommended this place to Urbanspoon to get link below!

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Martine's Riverhouse in New Hope PA

Brought some friends, visiting from NYC, to New Hope PA. It's a happy place that I like to go to whenever possible. Bridge over the river, shops and restaurants on a bustling Main Street, mostly small, local, and artisanal. Even without finding a place ahead of time, I knew we'd find a place we'd like for lunch. We had just a couple of criteria: good food and waterfront seating. I had eaten at the Landing before, and the next place that met our criteria was Martine's Riverhouse. The dining room inside was charming and eclectic, with old pine floors and wooden beams in the ceiling. We made our way directly to the outside, to sit with our water view and for my friends to sit in the sun.

The menu was varied enough for everyone to find what they wanted, without being too large and overwhelming. Two in our party had burgers, one friend ordered a chicken wrap, and I ordered stuffed chicken with rice-- assuming it was gluten free. It was a bit on the bland side, but I prefer that over being too salty. I actually finished the entire plate without feeling too stuffed. The fries I picked off other plates were good, and everyone liked their order. It was too early in the day for drinks, but I'm sure a glass of beer or wine would've been nice.

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Park Place Diner & Restaurant in Denver PA

Drove 100 miles to get to the VF Outlet Center, so I decided to see what else the area offered. The Amish restaurants were closed by the time I was ready, but luckily there was at least one antique mall open until 7:30 on Sundays. Across the way from Lancaster County Antique Center was Park Place... another place open late in the area.

The prices were awfully good for the food they served. My daughter got a cheeseburger, my husband got a breakfast plate, and I got the salad pictured, and our total was less than $25. Service was pleasant even though they seemed short-staffed. This is a place I'd return to, along with the antique mall!

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Mehek in Princeton NJ

My selections from the lunch buffet

I've been to Mehek a few times over the years since moving to NJ in 2007. The ambiance and decor has certainly changed over time. What seemed more like a homey atmosphere with window air conditioners back then, is now a more elegant space akin to typical Indian establishments with richly colored fabrics and gold trim. You can still have a casual meal here, if you are local to the area, and while the small space still isn't good for large groups, now you can also celebrate a special occasion here-- complete with photo ops and delicious food.

Anyway, the price probably went up for the lunch buffet, but I don't remember what it used to be. It was $10.99 when I went, and offered many different courses, all arranged colorfully and beautifully. You can mix and match the salad to your liking, or dive right into the viands, which I usually do. There was chicken tandoor, vegetable fritters, corn saag, chick pea masala, chicken tikka masala, and a few other dishes. A basket of fresh naan arrives at your table from the kitchen, and dessert is available at the buffet. It was rice pudding that day.

Mehek has a reputation for being one of the best Indian restaurants in Princeton, but I also dare say it is one of the best in the areas surrounding it. While its decor grown from humble to chic, the food has consistently been good and has never disappointed.

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Fusion Buffet in Toms River NJ

My husband wanted to go to a motorcycle shop, and I saw Fusion Buffet on the way there. I had seen some seafood joints and realized this would be a good area to have seafood with its proximity to the ocean. We hadn't had buffet in a while, so after he got his kicks seeing the bike of his dreams, we headed back to Fusion for dinner. Their kid price is good for up to age 12, older than other places, which was a bargain for my 11 year old who can eat as much seafood as I can. Aside from that, it's cheaper than other buffets in general. A couple of weeks later, I went back with my sister and her kids before going school shopping at the outlets.

I liked a lot of things about Fusion. The space is huge and clean. There are many buffet stations, and you can build your own dish at the grill if you don't like any of the prepared foods. There is a sushi station, and again they can create a roll to your specifications if you don't like the prepared ones. There was something for everyone, and even my 14 year old nephew declared that this is the best buffet he's ever been to.

My favorite? Fusion offers at least 8 flavors of ice cream, one of which is green tea!

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The Shrimp Boat in Ocean City MD

Pound of shrimp

Been here twice, once inside with my husband and daughter, and outside at the picnic tables with friends. They couldn't fit us inside because they were full, but we had lots of kids in the group and sitting outside was probably better anyway. I got to meet Captain Joe and we sat next to the ice shack where they sold fresh seafood. It's a fun casual joint to hit up on your way to or from Assateague Island, that is far away from the buzz on the boardwalk.

Diners are served a sample of shrimp upon seating, which is a good way to bide the time while perusing the menu and also to sell their namesake item. The first time my daughter tried it, she declared it the best shrimp she's ever had, compared to other places we tried in Ocean City. I think this is due to the heads still being on the shrimp-- might make some people squeamish to have their food "looking" at them-- but this helped retained the juiciness and flavor. Aside from this, they have fish of the day specials, lobster rolls, softshell and regular crabs, and other types of seafood-- which my group sampled and liked a lot. There's also a decent land lover's menu, and well priced kids' menu.

I missed the special both times, but there's $1.50 crabs during certain hours. Next time, I'm definitely going to get the full crab-smashing paper tablecloth experience!

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Phillips Crab House in Ocean City MD

I came to Phillips Crab House for one thing, and one thing only: CRABS!

This place is so popular that even during the end of the season, there was still a line down the steps and out the door. It's one of the pricier buffets, and they don't provide coupons (aside from an early bird discount), but still people keep on coming to this place. I went with a large group of 16 people, that included friends and our children, and we were seated at two tables of 8 next to each other.

There's plenty of food for non-seafood eaters like my husband. And plenty more seafood for seafood lovers like me. I did sample a little bit of everything: clams, mussels, crawfish, and crab legs, but what I was most patient with was the Maryland blue crabs. Everything was cooked well. Salted just right, steamed just right.

If you are considering a buffet, and questioning the price difference between this place and the others, I do have to say that the food is worth the extra $5-10pp. The decor and atmosphere, however, are just on par with other places: dark, crowded, and loud!

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Tom's Restaurant in Amherst NY

Souvlaki with eggs, home fries, and pita

Pancakes with eggs and bacon

Driving to Canada very late at night, and needing a place to eat that's open very late or 24 hours-- my brother brought us to Tom's to get supper and to reminisce about his days at SUNY Buffalo. Breakfast is served all day at Tom's, and the breakfast menu has about as much food as the dinner items, but for much less money, so just about everyone in our group had breakfast for dinner.

The kids enjoyed traditional American fare, while us adults tried the Greek menu, as Tom's is also known as the "Home of the Souvlaki". Unfortunately, it may have been too late in the night to try something different as my dad complained the meat had a funny taste to it.

Aside from the food, there's typical diner atmosphere to enjoy along with quirky waitstaff. Our server was an older lady who chatted our ear off while also scaring my nephew into eating his dinner!

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