Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chen Garden

A quote on the RocWiki page for Chen Garden sums up my thoughts about the Chinese restaurant: "Can't believe we have been driving by this place for years and never tried it." Somehow, I only recently found out how good the restaurant really is. Better late then never, though -- after dinner there last week, we'll definitely return.

On a Saturday night, Chen Garden was moderately crowded. We were led through the bar -- with its TV tuned to a college football game -- to the dimly lit dining room with leather booths, dark wood, and an upscale feel.

One of the first things I noticed about the menu -- besides the helpful color photos of many of the dishes -- was that Chen Garden is serious about drinks. And soup. Until our dinner there, I had never been to a restaurant that boasted 25 soup choices. And if you're in the mood for any sort of beverage, you're likely to find it, from beer and wine to appletinis and smoothies. There's also a page of Thai dishes. (Although if you're at a Chinese restaurant, why not stick to Chinese?)

The end of the menu features several selections for kids as well as desserts -- almond cookies and green tea ice cream. As a vegetarian, I was happy to see many veg options, and I picked a slightly spicy tofu dish along with scallion pancakes for an appetizer.

Service was fast and friendly, our food was excellent, and the price was nice, too -- about $30 for the two of us (with tax, before tip). That doesn't include drinks, though; we stuck with the always-welcome free hot tea.

TIP: They deliver!

NEARBY: If you can still manage dessert after enjoying the generous portions at Chen Garden, Abbott's is nearby.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The State Fair (Syracuse)

(more photos)

Ah, the State Fair. Where else can you...

... witness a parade that includes a pink John Deere, a bunch of PT Cruisers, a band playing "Louie Louie," and a Cub Scout float?

... watch part of a horse show and then play a couple of games of skeeball?

... join a big group of people crowding around a counter to buy a plastic cup full of milk -- plain or chocolate -- for 25 cents?

... find so many men willing to either flatter or insult you by guessing your weight or height?

... eat things you never knew existed, such as maple cotton candy and deep-fried PB&J sandwiches?

... supposedly get a glimpse of a "monkey with a human face," "giant nuclear radiation beetle," or a horse "smaller than a bale of hay"?

... admire a sand sculpture, butter sculpture, and art created by a man with a chainsaw?