Did you enjoy a short stack & help a good cause yesterday?

Who doesn’t love pancakes and helping a good cause? Yesterday, February 28th  was National Pancake Day, and IHOP celebrates every year by offering a FREE short stack to customers. They just prefer that you donate what you can to the Children’s Miracle Network.

I went with friends and our wait wasn’t long at all either for FREE pancakes! As you can see from the picture above, I devoured delicious chocolate chip pancakes. My bill came to a total of $2.35 and of course I tipped very well, because the waiters have to put up with customers all day. I also made sure I donated before I left. I already am a big fan of IHOP so I couldn’t complain.

FYI be on the look out for deals & specials at restaurants on food holidays, you never know, maybe you can get an entree for free or a buy one get one deal! Check out my Twitter feed for up to date food deal tweets @smchickbigdeals!

Happy Eating & in this case donating!!!

- Small Chick :)

Get a great meal for a great deal at Artisan’s in Toms River!

As a Jersey shore native I have to review some places down the shore, especially since that’s usually where I am if I am not in NYC or North Jersey. I spent the weekend with my boyfriend Jason and instead of going to the usual or having dinner at home we decided to check out Artisan’s and little did we know we were in for a great, filling meal!

Artisan’s Brewery & Italian Grill (1171 Hooper Avenue, Toms River, NJ 08753)

Here’s what I thought of it:

Customer Service: 4.5 — We went in around 1:30/40 so it was kind of an off time to come. It was slow at times but you also have to keep in mind it was Sunday afternoon. Other than that it was excellent. The service was quick and our bartender knew our drinks orders well and was very informative. The staff was also very friendly too.

Atmosphere: 5– I loved the atmosphere, it made you feel right at home and had a traditional italian style to it. It works very well with the kind of restaurant it is. There is also a lounge/bar area & a dining hall which can be used for receptions.

Food/Drink Quality: 5– The food was excellent and unique. We got the calamari with the spicy balsamic glaze on the side and it was wonderful and unlike any calamari sauce I’ve had. I definitely want to get it again. There special was half off any pizza, which comes to about $5 and change. The pizza was huge but didn’t disappoint. I even had leftovers. A couple ordered a burger while we there so Jason got the Artisan’s famous burger. He loved it, I even snuck in a bite and it was great. The way they season the meat is delicious. We were both filled to the brim between our drinks and food and I haven’t been that full in a while.

Price: $– Depending on what you get it can get a bit pricey. But they have specials almost every night and the pizza for $5 was great. Get a pizza and two beers and you have a cute little date. They also have beer & a brew night on Tuesday which I want to go to. You get a burger & a brew for $8.95 which is perfect for a date night too.

Final Score: 14.5/15 — Over all, I had a great experience at Artisan’s. You can have a great meal for a great price if you choose. The staff is attentive and the food is unique. It’s nestled right near the Ocean County Mall so it’s a great place for movie & mall-goers to go and grab a bite! I definitely want to come back for Burger & a brew night!

Holding my sample of their light beer from the brewery inside Artisan’s

The delicious homemade pizza I ate!

Happy Eating everybody!

- Small Chick :)

Sushi lovers should head to Sushi Lounge!

This afternoon I was out with my friend Hope, but before we went shopping we decided to grab lunch in Morristown. Our new thing is getting sushi together, so we decided we’d go to sushi lounge for some mid-afternoon sushi & drinks.

Sushi LoungeMorristown (12 Schuyler Place, Morristown, NJ 07960)

Here’s what I thought of it:

Customer Service: 4– We went around 2 p.m. so the restaurant was not very crowded. Our waitress was good and attentive but would kind of drift off sometimes due to it not being crowded. We waited for her to come and take our orders a little longer than I expected for a place that wasn’t crowded since it was in between lunch & dinner.

Atmosphere/Cleanliness: 5– I love the atmosphere and definitely would love to come for dinner one night. Especially since they have happy hour & drink specials almost every night. I love the atmosphere!

Food/Drink Quality: 4 — Well, first off warning, sushi lounge makes very strong drinks. Hope and I got the Champagne Dream expecting a nice delicious fruity lunch drink. Yes, it was fruity & delicious but it was much stronger than we’d like especially since we were going shopping afterwards. I was a tad bit disappointed with the Miso Soup because the broth had no flavor whatsoever. But I loved the shrimp shumai appetizer Hope and I had. Also, the shrimp tempura bento box I got was awesome and came served with a choice of a california roll or cucumber avocado roll, I got the california roll. It also came with a choice of shrimp or crab shumai, I tried the crab shumai for fun, it was good but shrimp shumai will always be my favorite. Oh yeah, I’m not done, it also came with rice. The meal was amazing and in my stomach within seconds with only some tempura veggies left on the plate. Hope loved the rolls she got– shrimp tempura & spicy tuna rolls.

Price: $-$$ — Sushi Lounge can be a bit pricey, my lunch meal was $16 bucks, but it came with a lot and if I wasn’t so hungry, I’d definitely have leftovers. I really wanna come back because as I mentioned they have special happy hour deals & specials every night. I already want to go back and think its definitely worth the money!

Final Score: 13/15 — Take out the flavor-less Miso soup and  the drinks being a bit unexpectedly strong, which really wasn’t so bad– I was just unprepared. I’d recommend going to Sushi Lounge. If you’re like me and in a college budget lunch is the best priced but as I mentioned they have specials all the time for dinner, happy hour, drinks, etc! Oh yeah and they also have local FREE delivery, which is great! So next time you’re craving sushi and driving through Morristown, go to Sushi Lounge!

Happy Eating!

- Small Chick :)

Contests & Giveaways can be a ‘Big Deal’!

Now we all know times are tough which is part of the reason why I began Small Chick Big Deals. But regardless whether it’s food or not I’m always on the look out for contests and you should be too! For a quick background, I’ve grown up living with a family that has always been fond of entering contests, especially my Grandma. She has not only entered 700+ but has one most of them, from concerts to baking a cake at The Waldorf in NYC my Grandma has won them all! So as a kid I always encouraged to enter them and have won a few myself, which I should probably keep a record of.

But since this is a food blog and who doesn’t like to eat for free, I’ll tell you about some recent food contests I’ve won and why you should try them too. Have Twitter? Well here’s just one of the many reasons why you should get one, especially if you like contests and giveaways. Just recently I’ve won 2 contests on Twitter which definitely help out the wallet a bit. I won a $50 gift card from Restaurant.com and a $25 gift card to Joe’s Crab Shack.

Sometimes you contests on Twitter can be as simple as Retweeting a Tweet and if you are the first one to Retweet you win and sometimes they even select people at random at the end of the day and pick a winner. That’s how the Restaurant.com contest worked, all you have to do is press the Retweet button & done! Restaurant.com is a great site to get gift cards for practically nothing usually $5 tops if you sign up for their email newsletter then save tons while you’re at a restaurant. I love the fact that have these Twitter contests and help people save more! I know I’m looking forward to using my gift card and I have plenty of options of where to use it! Look out for a post just on Restaurant.com in the near future. It’s a great money saver. But in the mean time look out for their Twitter contests and promotions.

Some restaurants have trivia, for example Joe’s Crab Shack question was what are the Mardi Gras colors and what their meaning is and whoever was the first to tweet back wins. If you don’t the answer you can always google it and you may learn something along the way. It takes two seconds and it’s so easy. I’ve been dying to go to Joe’s since the restaurant opened near my hometown and the gift card will definitely help! Looks like I’ll be having a date with my boyfriend at Joe’s soon!

Regardless, whether its trivia or as as simple as a RT (Retweet) you never know what you can win. I love Twitter because it’s such an easy for companies to get in touch with their audience from questions, specials, contests, and giveaways it’s definitely a must for any business. I know when I started I didn’t really get the importance of Twitter but almost 2 years later I use it constantly and know I will most likely forever.

Speaking of Twitter, for the most update specials in the NY/NJ metro area– look out for Retweets and some quoted tweets especially when it comes to contests, follow me @smchickbigdeals! I’d love to hear from you!

PS: I also recommend entering contests on websites as long as you know they are legitimate. They can be harder to win but you never know you may just be picked the winner!

Happy Eating & Tweeting! Who knows you may win a gift card yourself :)

- Small Chick :)

Don’t ‘Overlook’ the Overlook!

Overlook Lounge (225 East 44th Street  New York, NY 10017)

I love the food, I love the city, especially Midtown East. If you’ve read my past blogs it’s pretty obvious. This past week I was fortunate enough to find my way to a taping of The Rachael Ray Show again, but this time with my mother and Aunt. After enjoying the taping and smelling food the entire time, we were pretty hungry. As I mentioned in previous posts, I tried to go almost everywhere that sounded good and wasn’t too far of a walking distance from my internship last semester. But there was one place, I overlooked. It was actually across the street and one of the closest places I could’ve gone and it was Overlook Lounge. So since I hadn’t been there, we gave it a try, here’s what I thought:

Customer Service: 5 — Our waitress was friendly and let us take our time deciding what we wanted, she brought our second round of drinks pretty quick. Questions about the food were answered right away as well.

Atmosphere: 4.5– It’s relatively small but when I went inside it was definitely different then I imagined. It seems like such a small place from the outside looking in. The bar is pretty big for the space it is too.

Food/Drink Quality: 4.5– The drinks were great, I usually get a Malibu Bay Breeze and it was made perfectly. My mom and aunt were impressed with their drinks as well. I got the steak bites which is basically 3 skirt steak sliders with cheese. I got them cooked medium well and probably should’ve had it cooked medium because it was a little darker than I had wanted but it still tasted delicious, and I love skirt steak. My mom and aunt were both very impressed with their choices as well. We all shared their “pommes frites” which they serve rather than fries and I loved them. They come served with a chipotle dipping sauce and it’s like a whirlwind of flavor in your mouth!

Price: $$ — It’s not the cheapest joint but you can definitely get a delicious lunch with a drink for about $15. Yeah you’re probably thinking that’s not a great deal but they have two for one drinks during there happy hour every Monday-Friday from 2-6 pm and drink specials after 6 as well. Now I’d say that is a deal!

Final Score: 14/15– The drinks were made to perfection, service was on key, and it was bustlin’ when we first arrived for lunch. The pomme frites are a great snack to go with a drink too. I’d highly recommend going to the Overlook Lounge next time you’re in the city, you won’t be disappointed! I know I’ll be heading there for happy hour  sometime!

- Small Chick :)

Another legend gone…

I know this is a bit out of context since it’s a food blog, but I had to take a break and honor the death of a fellow Jersey girl this past weekend, Whitney Houston.

Growing up I remember hearing Whitney Houston constantly and loving her music. Her voice was angelic and the music had a great beat to it.  She may have made bad decisions but we can only learn from her bad decisions and not do the same. The fact that she passed away this weekend still has me in shock. She was also a Jersey girl like me, grew up really close to where I am now. She was so blessed with talent. It was great seeing her tribute during the Grammy’s.

My favorite song by her will always be, “When You Believe” featuring Mariah Carey.

“I decided long ago never to walk in anyone’s shadow; if I fail, or if I succeed at least I did as I believe.” -Whitney Houston

RIP Whitney Houston

Go out and make a difference with 3 Square Deals

To all my Jersey readers, especially from Monmouth and Ocean County I have a little treat for you. This treat is a new program called, 3 Square deals!

3SquareDeals.com is a new and very unique Deals program launching this week by Deborah Smith, Owner and Executive Editor of JerseyBites.com. Since its inception, JerseyBites has worked with New Jersey’s food banks on several occasions to help spread the word about the need for donations including the “Blogging Out Hunger” campaign spearheaded by Ms. Smith in 2008. “When I heard the statistics on how much the demand for assistance has grown in New Jersey over the past five years, I wanted to do more. A deals program that marries my knowledge of online marketing, social media marketing and food, seemed like the perfect solution,” explains Smith.

3SquareDeals.com represents the next generation of Deal sites which not only saves consumers money and drives new traffic and revenue to merchants, but also gives back to charitable programs. In today’s highly competitive Deals market, a new program has to do something different. “The response to this new concept has been extremely positive. The average consumer is bombarded with so many offers, every day.  We need to give the consumer more reasons than just a good deal. Saving and sharing at the same time, does it get any better than that?” asked Deborah.

Another factor that sets 3SquareDeals apart from other known deals programs is that the focus will be exclusively on food deals: Restaurants, Gourmet Food Stores, Wine and Beer and Culinary Experiences. First deals will include The Mill in Spring Lake Heights, LongBoard Grill in Point Pleasant Beach and The Wine Loft in Long Branch.

The website prominently displays the logos of the three overarching hunger relief organizations that 3SquareDeals will be raising funds for, including The Community FoodBank of New Jersey, the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and the Food Bank of South Jersey.  The site also plans to hold special “Deal Weeks” for local, smaller organizations where a Deal a Day will be offered featuring local merchants and all donations will be earmarked for the particular organization. Each organization will also receive a dedicated story on JerseyBites.com.

In Monmouth and Ocean Counties alone the need for hunger relief has risen 80% over the past 5 years. For children it has risen 150% according to Linda Keenan, Director of Development for the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Monetary donations are exceptionally valuable given the food bank’s purchasing power which allows them to stretch $1 into 3 meals. Using this equation, 3SquareDeals will be keeping a running tally on the site of the meals the deal purchases have been able to provide.

3SquareDeals is a place everyone can feel good about. You will save money while supporting  neighbors in need and learn more about all of the amazing programs the Food Banks of New Jersey provide. It’s a win, win, win for everyone. As their tag line professes, it’s Where Deals Make a Difference.

Now what could be better than that? Helping the world and getting a great meal at great price! Make sure you check out 3 Square Deals today! You can also follow them @3squaredeals!

- Small Chick :)

Food for the soul with a healthy twist– HLS Restaurant

This past Thursday I had the pleasure of going to HLS Restaurant (387 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042). Like many of the places I go, you go to up to the front (where you are greeted warmly might I add) to order your food then they give you a number and bring out your meal once its ready. HLS better known as the Health, Love, and Soul Juice Bar & restaurant specializes in bringing you fresh food with great flavor without putting your health at risk. They carry both meat and vegetarian options and even have brown rice dishes. Now for the review:

Customer Service: 4.8 — The service was great, when I first came in there was person taking care of everyone at the counter. if I had any questions they were ready, prepared and willing to answer.

Atmosphere: 5 — It’s a big space and has plenty of room for all different parties. The music is relaxing, its a great place to just relax and enjoy your meal.

Food/Drink Quality: 5— I got the Thai Chicken Wrap which is hormone-free grilled chicken with carrots and greens with peanut ginger dressing on a garlic herb wrap. It was one of the freshest wraps I’ve ever had. You could taste how fresh the carrots and the greens were and the chicken was marinated just enough that dressing didn’t overpower it. There was also extra dressing on the side if you wanted more. I also got the Pineapple Mango Tango smoothie to drink and that was just as fresh tasting. I recommend any of the wraps and the drinks. Next time i go I do want to try the soy citrus spareribs over brown rice.

Price: $ – My wrap was $6.50 and the smoothie was $3.95 so it came to about $11 bucks with tax. It’s affordable to anyone and if you like organic food you’re getting a bang for your buck!

Final Score: 14.8/15 –I really enjoyed my lunch at HLS and would tell anyone to go there. You’re getting fresh organic food for a good price. The service is great and everyone is friendly. Might I add they also have another location in Maplewood, NJ (1859 Springfield Ave) if thats closer to you! Not only will you get great quality food but the presentation matches the taste!

Happy Eating and don’t forget to to feed your Health, Love, and Soul at HLS Restaurant!

 

- Small Chick :)

Grilled Cheese Factory: Motown’s new joint for lunch, dinner, or a late night snack!

I had the pleasure of going to The Grilled Cheese Factory (28 Morris St, Morristown, NJ 07960) in Morristown for dinner last night and I was very impressed. The Grilled Cheese Factory opened in early December in Morristown, NJ by a FDU alumni. I love comfort food and sure as anything love grilled cheese so the idea of this place is already wonderful to me. You see the last time I had grilled cheese out it was at a diner down the shore and I was very disappointed to say the least. Going into The Grilled Cheese Factory last night I was ready to be knocked off my feet and that I was!

When you come in there is a menu on the wall, which actually needs to be updated because they have added more sandwiches but you can see them on the paper menu on the counter. You have a choice of 19 different grilled cheese varieties and the option to make your own. They also have soups and salads you can choose from as well. It was actually pretty hard for me to choose what to get but I went with the BCT – Bacon, Tomato, and Cheddar it came with a pickle and all sandwiches come with chips. They have a variety of bottled drinks in a refrigerator so I got a Nestea. Now for my rating:

Customer Service: 4.8 — The service was great, the food came out orderly, everyone was kind and friendly but I wasn’t asked how my food was while I was eating which I was used to. There are only 3 people working so I give the benefit of the doubt but I was looking to forward to having someone come by and ask, thats why I only took .2 off. But other than that factor, the service was wonderful. When you get there you go up to the front order your food and they will bring it out to you when its ready.

Atmosphere: 5 — It’s comfortable and very home-like, there are plenty of chairs but it’s a bit tight. It’s very friendly to all kinds of audiences. I felt right at home as I waited for my food to come out.

Food Quality: 5– I am very picky about my grilled cheese, I don’t know about you but I love mine to be golden brown on the outside and the cheese melted in the inside. And if I get it with bacon & tomato, one of those can’t take over more than the other. So as I waited for my grilled cheese I couldn’t wait to see how it would come out. I forgot to mention how everything is made HOMEMADE and fresh as you order. My BCT was great and made to perfection. I could eat one of those like everyday of the week!

Price: $ — The Grilled Cheese Factory is affordable to anyone. The menu ranges from  $4.95- $7.95, which pretty good for the quality of food you get! Its friendly to any budget whether you are a college student, parent, etc!

Final Score: 14.8/15 — My best score overall. Yes I was very impressed and so do more and more of the locals. As I left there was a family in there and while I ate the EMS squad had stopped by for a bite. Next time I come I’m pretty sure i’ll get one to eat and one for the road and cup of soup! I highly recommend the BCT which I ate but the varieties or endless and I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them.

DEAL ALERT: This deal is exclusive to FDU, College at Florham students only. If you come to the Grilled Cheese Factory this Thursday February 9th from 6pm-close and show your FDU ID you can get 50% off anything on the menu. RSVP here: FDU Night at The Grilled Cheese Factory in Morristown!

If you plan on heading to Morristown anytime soon make sure you go to The Grilled Cheese Factory. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

If you go in let me know if you were as satisfied as I was, I love feedback!

- Small Chick :)

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