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Friday, March 16, 2012

Towson Town Center's Restaurants

I was invited* to Towson Town Center to take a "tour" of some of their major eateries: TGIF's, P.F. Chang's, Stoney River and The Cheesecake Factory.  Below are some of my thoughts on each place.

Also, Towson Town Center has been having some special events this month, including one on Saturday March 24th from 1-3PM: Cooking Demo and Wine-Pairing Seminar

  • Local food and wine expert, Laurie Forster "The Wine Coach," will host a cooking demonstration and wine-pairing seminar.
  • Seminars will be held at 1PM, 2PM and 3PM in the Level 1 Grand Court
  • Seminars will include table-side sampling (SAMPLES!!!!!), fun raffles, giveaways and retailer offers.
Follow Towson Town on Facebook to keep up with more events.

P.F. Chang's
(Check out my last review of P.F.Chang's from 2009 here)

At P.F.Chang's we were given some items from their Happy Hour menu to try.  Their Happy Hour is Mon-Fri, 3-6pm.  The prices I have included in this section are from that menu.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps 

I hadn't been to a PFC in a while, so I have to admit that I was excited about trying the Chicken Lettuce Wraps ($6) again.  They are still so good.  The chicken concoction mixed with mushrooms and water chestnuts are good alone, but even better when made into a wrap with crisp lettuce.  Yes, of course you can make this at home, but if you're at the mall shopping - this is definitely a nice appetizer to order while sitting at the bar.

Talking about the bar, we tried two specialty cocktails, an Asian Pear Mojito ($6) and a PFX ($6).  The mojito tasted very similar to the regular, but with a slight hint of the pear.  It was nice and crisp.  The PFX is flavored with passionfruit and hardly tasted like there was any alcohol in it, though I am assuming that is a good and bad thing :)  It is supposed to be modeled after the cosmo.  I liked both!

 Crab Wontons

Dan was fan of their Crab Wontons ($5), which are made with a cream cheesy crab filling and served with a plus sauce.  He remarked on how much crab there was in the wontons, and how well they went with the sauce.  If you feel like something fried, and are tired of the ubiquitous eggroll, these might be the thing for you! 

Stoney River

Stoney River also introduced us to some items from their Happy Hour, which takes place from 4-7pm everyday.  There are some seriously good deals:

This menu is solid, especially because it  lasts until 7pm!  It would be so easy to come here for dinner and make a good meal out of these offerings, not to mention with some nice cheap cocktails!  For a drink, ask the bartender to make you a Lemon Iced Tea Cocktail, which is made with Bacardi Limon, lime, sour mix and some iced tea.  If you like Arnold Palmers, this is the drink for you. If you like tea (me), this is for you (me).

We tried and LOVED the Jack Daniel Whiskey Shrimp ($6).  It was so good and SO buttery.  The sauce is made with Jack Daniel's (obv.) and mustard and oh my the little slices of baguettes were just loaded with butter and the sauce and a jumbo shrimp.  Yes please!

We also tried the mountain of Bleu Cheese Chips ($6), and it really was a mountain (though it's hard to tell from this picture). Though blue cheese is not my favorite kind of cheese, once melted it has a mild flavor to it, so I surprisingly didn't mind this at all.  If you love blue cheese, it would be right up your alley, especially because the chips were perfectly crisp and salted. It would be nice if they had other flavors for the non blue cheese lovers.

The Crunchy Ahu Tuna Roll ($7) was also quite tasty, especially when dipped in the accompanying soy ginger sauce.  Sesame seeds and breadcrumbs give the roll its crunchiness.

TGI Friday's

Guinness Stout Milkshake from TGIF (sample size)

There are two new drinks for St. Patrick's Day: the Irish Rita (made with whiskey, sour apple, midori and margarita mix) and the Guinness Stout Milkshake (Guinness with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup).  Their Irish Rita was way too sour for my liking, but the Guinness Milkshake was surprisingly tasty, and I don't even like Guinness!

All in all, I am simply not a fan of this place.  The dishes were dirty, the food tasted unhealthy and it's really just not my kind of atmosphere for a restaurant.

Cheesecake Factory
(Check out my review of the Cheesecake Factory in 2008 here)

I am not going to lie, I tried bites of about 12-15 different types of cheesecakes.  This sounds amazing, but after a while I got a bit sick.  THAT'S A LOT OF DAIRY, YOU GUYS!!!!

My personal favorite from the Cheesecake Factory is the Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake, but of all the ones I tried from that day, I really enjoyed:
  • Vanilla Bean cheesecake (layers of vanilla bean cheesecake, vanilla mousse and whipped cream) 
    • I liked the simplicity of this, plus it felt light because of the mousse.
  • Godiva Chocolate cheesecake (Godiva chocolate cake + Godiva chocolate cheesecake + Chocolate mousse) 
    • The addition of cake and mousse in this cheesecake took away the usual heaviness from a chocolate cheesecake.  I loved the rich and dark taste of the chocolate.  
  • Dutch Caramel Apple Streusel Cheesecake, pictured (terribly) below (original cheesecake with a TON of baked apples and then topped with some delicious brown sugar walnut streusel topping)  
    • I loved this because it was so different.  It tasted more like an apple pie with a little layer of cheesecake.  There's a lot more filling than you would think, which is what really made this cheesecake stand out for me.

The problem is that to get a slice of cheesecake, you have to deal with the outrageous wait for a table because that place is packed ALL THE TIME.  What is up with that?

The mall is definitely not a place I visit very often, but it was fun to take a tour like this to see the food beyond the food court.  Overall, I loved Stoney River.  Their Happy Hour menu was fun, well-priced and enticing!  I would definitely go back there again! P.F. Chang's happy hour menu was also a great deal, and I especially liked their drinks.  There is no need for me to talk about the appeal of  The Cheesecake Factory, because it's already got that in spades.  TGI Fridays didn't do it for me at all, but you can't win them all!

Stoney River on Urbanspoon
P.F. Chang's China Bistro on Urbanspoon
The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

* I was invited by Towson Town Center, but I was not asked to review, nor was I told what to write.  All opinions are my own (and Dan's!)


Laura said...

Fridays is awful now. I can't eat anything they sell anymore.

I've not been to Stoney River, so thanks for that review. I frequently find myself flying solo on Fridays while the other half works at a bar, so I might give them a go sometime soon.

Oh hey, have you been to Taco Love in White Marsh?

Nakiya said...

I really was not a fan of Friday's. I only had a couple of bites of some of the food offerings, and even they were enough for me.

Stoney River's dinner menu is pretty expensive, but the happy hour is so great! I definitely think that if you're by yourself that it's a great place to sit at the bar and eat!

I haven't heard of Taco Love - tell me more!!!

Laura said...

I think Fridays is trying to make things as cheap as possible so they don't have to jack up the cost to the consumer. They're turning into Applebees (which I abhor).

Ya, I've heard their dinner menu is pricey but I eat so early that happy hour is perfect for me. :)

Their website is here. I'm heading there tonight for dinner, most likely. We have a huge lack of good Mexican food in this area. El Salto's is decent, but I'd like more than just them around, you know?

Oh, also, if you like food from the Philippines, Mama Rosa's is the only place I've come across with good sinigang. Haven't tried anything else from them, and their options change regularly, but they're worth trying if you're the adventurous sort. :)

Nakiya said...

Thanks for the heads up, Taco Love looks great. And I know what you mean, the more Mexican places in the area, the better! I am always so jealous of my sister since she lives in Austin and has the choice of a million different restaurants if she feels like tacos :) Talking about tacos, I still need to try R&R!

I hadn't heard of Mama Rosa's and I haven't tried Filipino food before, so this is exciting!!!!

Laura said...

A friend says Taco Love is fantastic. I'm really rather excited about trying them. :)

For Filipino food...some stuff is safe, and some is really intimidating for newbies. Stick with their sinigang. Theirs is a chicken version, so it's not as amazeballs as the pork version I'm used to, but it's still pretty darned good. Basically, it's a sour stew with vegetables, whole chunks of ginger, and chicken. They serve it as a soup but I love it over day-old rice. OM NOM NOM!

Laura said...

Short review of Taco Love Grill: TASTY. Got the 3 taco deal, had all the toppings available but cilantro, meat choices were marinated pork, beef, and chicken. Food was made to order, came out of the kitchen quickly and screaming hot. Tortillas were definitely homemade.

The only complaint I have is I wasn't aware it's a mostly takeout kind of place. Don't go here if you want to have a nice sit-down's a grab-and-go sort of place. Definitely worth the visit, though.

Nakiya said...

Thanks for telling me that - it looks like it's a sit down place from the pictures.

Also - I'm surprised they didn't have cilantro!?!? Or did you just choose not to get it.

YUM, I want some tacos!

Thanks for the review :)

Laura said...

Yeah, that one photo of the seating area makes it look like a normal sit-down place. I was a bit surprised, but I rolled with it. They have bar-style seating along the window and maybe a half dozen tables.

Oh, they have cilantro but I'm not a fan of the stuff as a garnish. I'd rather have it cooked into things.

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