Wednesday, December 20, 2006

City-Wide Tell-All Published

We came home from picking up my number 1 daughter from college tonight and I was thrilled to find my Department of Public Works Resident Information Packet for 2007 hanging on our door. If you live in the City of Laurel, please be sure to find yours, read it carefully and save it away.

Maryland Science Center graduate students have found that the info packet will help you lose weight, increases your IQ by 25 points, improves your gas mileage and answers most of your deepest municipal questions. Think…Dr. Phil meets Bill Nye the Science Guy at City Hall.

It’s an extremely well done package. In it you will find answers to many of your municipal questions, including:

- Where is the big red button? Or what to do when the Mayor declares a city emergency?

- Do you live on an emergency route? (How to avoid the magic tow fairy.)

- When is your recycling, trash and bulk pick-up day? (Learn about our year-end special pick-up for unruly children, unemployed teens, and nagging spouses.)

- What to do with your used Christmas tree? (Please see the story of how the angel got on top of the tree.)

- Lawns, how high is too high? Or when you should cut your grass? (Code enforcement officer Pat Walsh gives you his thoughts on the challenges of meadow gardening in Laurel.)

- How to get rid of hazardous waste? (No, hauling it out to West Laurel is not encouraged.)

- Where to get rid of unused paint? (See above.)

- What to do about yard debris? (Hint – your neighbor’s yard is big and the night is dark and long.)

- Where to get a building permit? (Or how to re-build your deck to comply with city rules.)

- What to do to be prepared? (No joke here, being prepared for natural disasters is too important.)

All kidding aside, Mayor Moe, the City Council, City Administrator Kristie Mills, Emergency Manager Marty Flemion and the entire city team have created a wonderful info packet for us. It might not help you lose weight, but it could answer some of your questions.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Where Are Laurel's Best Christmas Lights?

Laurel's neighborhoods twinkle with Christmas lights. From Main Street to Montpelier, from West Laurel to North Laurel, homes are aglow with the Christmas spirit. Or at least the kind of glow that helps our good friends at BG&E earn large annual bonuses from our electricity use.

I'm not a real Christmas kind of guy. I do enjoy the family time but I can't understand some of the wacky traditions. Such as cutting down a tree, sticking it in your living room and watching it die a slow death. That seems unseasonably cruel to me.

And then there is Christmas caroling. A group of strangers encamp in your yard and then threaten to keep singing until you give them drinks and cookies. What else can you call it except Christian terrorism?

But I do enjoy all the lights. I'm sure many of you enjoy driving around town to see the Christmas lights as much as my family. The magnificent Kuckhuhn tree (shown in this bad photo) on Brooklyn Bridge Road is a long time Laurel tradition for us. My neighbors in the 400 block of Montgomery Street have set a new standard for awesome holiday displays, and this year with synchronized music.

So this is where we can help each other. Where are the best Christmas light displays in the Laurel area?

Please post your favorites in the comments section or send them directly to me at g.rick.wilson at and I'll post them to the blog as a convenient driving map. (Please replace the "at" with @ in my email address.)

Merry Christmas from the Laurel Connections Blog.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Whither The Mall?

Architecture student and local blogger Dan sent me a link to his story about an very interesting concept for redeveloping the Laurel Mall.
This drawing shows a Bowie-like Open Town Center. It comes from a Woodbine, Maryland based, Seth Harry and Associates, an urban planning firm.
The drawing carries a 2005 date. I have no idea if the concept is now... or if it ever was being seriously considered. It's a very interesting concept nonetheless.
Dan's Just-Up-The-Pike blog is worth a visit.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Where Laurel Eats

Fifty Laurelites voted for their favorite area restaurants in our recent survey.

Silver Diner and Something Special Coffee Shop are the hot spots in the morning. Don Pablos is our favorite place for Tex-Mex. Almost 3 out of 5 people list Pasta Plus as the winner for red sauce and wine. Bay & Surf lands the fish prize and Outback lassos the red meat ribbon.

Mandarin House is by far the best place for Asian food with 70% of the votes. And we voted Oliver's Main Street Saloon as our favorite watering hole for drinks after work. (see below for other suggestions).

Click here for the detailed survey results.

Below are write-in results for your favorite after work spots and top overall restaurant recomendations.

It's been a tough day at work. You decide to meet your friends for a couple of drinks and appetizers. Your favorite after work place in Laurel is:
1. Rams Head
2. Wild Buffalo
3. We avoid drinks and appetizers.
4. I haven't done that in 20 years!
5. Tampico's
6. Red Hot & Blue should be on this list!
7. Under Rt. 1 bridge
8. Red Hot & Blue
9. Nuzbacks

Everyone has a favorite place and a favorite meal.
When a friend or neighbor asks you for suggestions, where do you send them?
What is your all time best meal at a restaurant in Laurel.

1. Red Sky
2. c j ferrari's
3. Pasta Plus
4. Oliver's
5. Pasta Plus
6. Without any question, Pasta Plus has been the scene for our favorite meals in Laurel.
7. Tag's. It's no longer there. Had a geat chicken livers and pasta.
8. Red, Hot and Blue
9. I really enjoy Pasta Nostra - very family-friendly, as well as Shish Kabob. 5 guys in a nice addition - they've had a cult-like following in Northern Virginia. Trapeze, in Fulton near 216 and 29 is like a downtown restaurant right next door!
10. Oliver's and Red Hot Blue
11. Pasta Plus, always a good meal from a Chicken Dish to a Meatball Sub or White Pizza.
12. Pollo al Pesto, Pastra Nostra (you gotta love pesto, though!)
13. Wild Buffalo grill on wendsday nights. Chiken wings for $.20 each. They have hot, barbecue, honey barbecue, old bay, fried, very hot, etc...
14. We are still looking and longing for nourishing, heart-healthy, appetizing meals in Laurel. We prefer two Ethiopian places in Silver Spring: Addis Ababba and Langanos. We've had a few decent meals at India Gate. We like some of the fish specials and the seafood salad at Pasta Plus. We would love to get more green and other vegetables (unsauced/unbuttered) anywhere.
15. Our family is always looking for healthy, cheap food. I think that the best restaurants in Laurel are Pasta Plus, Mango's Grill and Chung King (love that Mongolian Buffet!) but we don't go there often because they are on the expensive side. For good cheap food we usually end up at Chipotle or at Ruby Tuesday for the soup and salad combo.
16. Pasta Plus! Is there any other place for a high quality meal with good service on a consistent basis for a reasonable price?
17. Longhorn peppered steak salad Bay N Surf - cream of crab soup with any entree
18. Mandarin House - special request entree - Roast pork Fried Rice, extra dark, no peas and carrots, extra bean sprouts. This is in the old-fashioned,"Boston-style" Cantonese manner - not usually available south of Boston, MA - but Mandarin House will do anything to please their customers. Anything on the menu is above average.
19. I love fajita night at Don Pablos.
20. We LOVE pasta plus!
21. Anything from Famous Dave's that has Devil's Spit on it! YeeHaah!
22. The Mango Grill for their grilled salmon with mango sauce
23. 3 brothers, I love veg.boat with a salad
24. Red Hot & Blue. If it's a light day: chicken Caesar salad and bread. If it feels like a good afternoon for angina: memphis drummies, fries, and a coke with a cherry. Ask for the magician.
25. pasta plus
26. Rams Head Fish & Chips
27. Red, Hot and Blue
28. 5 Guys burgers & fries
29. Stuffed flounder at Bay & Surf
30. We've had several memorable meals at India Gate and it's always high on my recommended list. Recently, we've had neighbors, who are Indian, tell us that Sapphire, on Route 197, is even better. We haven't checked it out yet, but its definitely on the list!
31. I always send them to Mango. They have great seafood, steaks and pupusas. My favorite meal is the Carne Asada with extra grilled onions and a side of guacamole.
32. Oliver's Coconut shrimp
33. Famous Dave's ribs (and a side sausage link). I still haven't forgiven them for taking that sausage off the menu as a main dish.
34. I send others to Pasta Plus. But my favorite is a cheesseburger, fries and chocolate shake at Big T on Route one.
35. Creamed chip beef on a biscuit, with home fries, large orange juice, and hot coffee at Silver Diner. Jane has left Silver Diner now, but she was the best waitress in Maryland. Many great mornings with Jane, hot breakfast and a newspaper at the diner.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dining in Laurel

Laurelites like to eat out. Over 70 people read the previous blog article and 32 people voted in the Laurel area restaurant survey . I've included the results so far below. The survey is still open for your voting. I'll post all the final results in the comments section of this post at the end of the week .

Silver Diner is the hand's down winner for breakfast with 10 votes. Tastee Diner and Ihop follow with 5 and 4 votes respectively. Something Special wins as the favorite coffee shop with 12 votes with Starbucks coming in second with 9 votes.

Based on 19 votes, the Mandarin House is the the top choice for Asian food. No place else got more than 2 votes.

Pasta Plus is the top vote getter in the Italian food category with 14 votes. Pasta Nostro came in a distant second with 6 votes.

Laurelites like Don Pablos for Tex Mex with 9 votes. Toucan Taco (Tippy's), Tampico and Mangos closing in with 6, 5, and 4 votes respectively.

Bay and Surf and Timbuktu are almost tied in the seafood category with 8 and 7 votes respectively.

The red meat category is a mixed grill with no clear favorite. Lone Star and Outback are tied at six votes each. Newcomers Red Sky and Long Horn show a growing interest.

For an after work gathering, Laurel's favorite by far is Oliver's with 11 votes.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

We Gotta Eat, Right?

Joanne and I have a thoroughly modern American marriage. This means that we share all of the tedious household duties. For example, we take turns cooking. When it's Joanne's turn to cook, she prepares nutritional, tasty and multi-course dinners.
Of course, when it's my turn to cook, I turn to one of the dozens of fine dining establishments in the Laurel area.
It's not like I'm picky about eating, as anyone who has met me knows immediately. I love to eat. I'll eat almost anything, (except possibly scrapple). I'm happy going to Tippy's for chili con queso, Red, Hot and Blue for a pulled pig sandwich or Tastee Freez for a Country Burger with fries and a shake. You can find me and my neighbor Eric at the Tastee Diner eating breakfast on most Saturday mornings.
We have so many choices in Laurel, it's hard to pick a restaurant. I thought it would be useful to offer a quick survey for you to vote for yours.
Help a guy out, It's my turn to cook on Monday and I'm looking for a new menu.
Please take a minute and let us know where to find you when it's your turn to "cook." I'll post the results to the blog.
To take the Laurel Connections restaurant survey, visit . SURVEY CLOSED 12/8/2006
Table cloths or paper plates, please visit the comments section to post a review of your favorite spot in Laurel.