BIRTHDAY BINGE

                November  12, 2013

THE HUNGER JAMES OFFICIAL RATING:

Instead of writing eleven different posts about all the food I consumed this past weekend, I figured I would consolidate and write one post about all of my birthday meals! 27 never looked so full.

Outback Steakhouse

Thursday, November 7

November 7th is my actual birthday and there is no other place I would want to go celebrate than The Outback Steakhouse. OBSH is probably my all-time favorite restaurant. My parents taught me to enjoy the finer things in life. I know what you’re thinking: I was a spoiled kid growing up.

 

Whenever my family and I celebrated “a mile stone” we would always go to the Outback and have a “nice meal.” It was about a thirty minute drive from my house, so whenever we would go, it felt like we were driving to Disney! Although, we would always have to make the reservations for like 5pm because it always got super crowded. And my parents can’t drive at night.

 

I kept this tradition since moving to New York City, and every time there is a celebration – job promotions, engagements, or a Wednesday, you can find me and my group of friends at the only place in the city where there are no rules and everything is just right.

 

So, clearly where I would be eating my birthday meal was a no brainer.

 

We started our meal off on the right foot and ordered the Aussie Cheese Fries. The fries are topped with melted cheese and bacon and served with a spicy ranch dressing for dipping. It is the perfect way to begin any meal. People always say to me, “It’s just cheese and fries, they can’t be that good.” Oh, but they are. Our waitress was pretty fun and adorable, too. As she was writing down the appetizer order, she looks up at me and says, “They come with bacon. Is that ok?”

 

“IS THAT OKAY!?” I screamed at Diandra, “It’s extremely okay.” And then I proceeded to show her a picture of me from Halloween where I was dressed in a bacon costume.

 

For my entrée, I got the Outback Special, which is a 9oz steak – cooked medium rare – with a loaded baked potato and a side salad. Diandra was so sweet that she surprised me with a brownie sundae and an extra shot of tequila to ensure I enjoyed my dinner.

 

THE HUNGER JAMES OFFICIAL RATING:

Hillsone

Friday, November 8

The following night I had yet another birthday dinner. Going out for free food is the best thing in the world. Seriously, I love aging.

 

The dinner was at Hillstone, a fancy steakhouse located on Park Avenue. I had been to a Houston’s before, but never to a Hillstone. Apparently, it’s the same thing.

 

We got to the restaurant at 9:15 and the hostess kindly told us that the wait would be 70 minutes. That’s the first half of Titanic right there! We decided to wait since it was, after all, a Friday night. (My friend DID make a reservation…but at another location).

 

The atmosphere was really comfortable and cozy. You didn’t even realize you were standing around a crowded bar like cattle for an hour waiting to eat beef (ah, irony…or something literary like that).


Another thing I noticed and thought added an extra bit of elegance was the lack of pagers or buzzers when it was time to be sat. When your table was ready, a hostess walked directly up to you and said, “[name] your table is ready.”

 

I told my friend that there had to be some sort of a system. “There are over 100 people in this bar, they cannot remember each person’s name and face!” I then deduced that they must write a little note on the card describing the person so they are easy to find (i.e. red scarf, green jacket, etc.) When the hostess finally came up to us and said “Your table is ready” I desperately wanted to see what the paper said about me! “Was it my blue eyes? Was it my perfect smile?” I thought to myself.

Nope. All the paper read was, “James. Party of 2. Bald.”

 

Once we were sat, we took no time to order our meals. We actually didn’t even look at the menu for longer than 11 seconds – we were starving. I ended up ordering the 19$ Hillstone burger and a glass of red wine. I normally would never pay for a 19$ cheeseburger, but I wasn’t paying.  “Make it a double!” I shouted the waitress walking away.

 

It was the BEST burger I have ever had in my life.

 

The lettuce, onions, and tomatoes were all chopped up and then mixed with the mayonnaise and sat on top of a burger. Genius!

THE HUNGER JAMES OFFICIAL RATING:

Carmines 

Saturday, November 9

On Saturday, my birthday still continued and a bunch of friends and I went down to Atlantic City for the weekend! I had never been and was so excited to see the boardwalk, gamble in a casino, and most importantly, eat my face off.

 

And I did.

 

For dinner, we went to Carmines located in the Tropicana resort. Carmines is a family-style Italian restaurant and is perfect for a large group of people who like to eat. We all shared the Stuffed Mushrooms, Carmines Salad, Penne ala Vodka, and Chicken Parmesan.

The mushrooms were stuffed to perfection with cheese, sausage and marinara sauce and the salad…well, I don’t know, I skipped that course. The penne ala vodka was so creamy and the chicken parmesan was cut so thin and topped with delicious mozzarella. The chicken was definitely my favorite dish of the entire night.

 

For dessert, I was surprised with a generous helping of delicious New York style cheesecake – so rich and so creamy – I didn’t want to share. So I didn’t.

 

THE HUNGER JAMES OFFICIAL RATING:

Sultan's Feast 

Sunday, November 10

Don’t let the name fool ya on this one.

 

So, picture this: It’s 10am. A group of extremely hung-over people, dazed and confused in Atlantic City, are in search of the ultimate breakfast experience. They walk the boardwalk until they see the huge and alluring sign for the Trump Taj Mahal. They all look at each other and say, “let’s see what they got.” Upon entering the hotel, they see probably the best word you can ever see when you are hung-over and starving at a hotel: Buffet.

 

I love buffets. Love them. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, salad, dessert. You name it! There is something very comforting about picking up a large orange tray, grabbing a plate on one of those springy dispensers and walking through an unorganized line of every food you can imagine. Buffets remind me of every vacation I went on when I was younger. And, as I told you earlier, I was spoiled as a kid.

 

We entered the Sultans Feast (rated negative stars on Yelp!) with our stomachs grumbling and our expectations low.

I was the first to “check it out” and see exactly what they considered food. I came back to our table with my plate fully occupied – filled with scrambled eggs (with cheddar cheese NOT melted in them), cold biscuits, limp bacon, stale muffins, 2 waffles and 4 hash browns. I ate the entire plate in record-time, mostly because of just how hungry I was. Everyone else pretty much played it safe. One got a fruit bowl. Another got cereal and a muffin. And one person at the table actually came back with a piece of salmon. I don’t need to tell you how that was.

 

So yeah, the food wasn’t good. But, it was actually a pretty fun experience. The best part was this older lady standing in the buffet line waving her plate, shouting, “It’s been 15 minutes and there is no bacon! What the hell is going on?” I feel that if we had met earlier, we would have been pretty close friends.

 

As you can tell, my birthday was chock-full of food, fun, and friends! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my age (and waistline) increasing! Until next time…