Hickory has blessed few real “fancy” restaurants (when compared to Charlotte) so I was so excited to finally try Youssef 242 last night. I’ve had it on my list forever, and somehow never got to it. I made reservations in the middle of the night (thanks Open Table!) and like that we were in.
We arrived on a back street near Hickory High School, and I was truly amazed at the cool little spot, tucked away from prying eyes on Hwy. 127. This was gonna be good, I could feel it. As we approached the entrance, we saw the outdoor seating area with the fireplace. So welcoming! Unfortunately, too hot for this gal, so inside we went.
We were greeted promptly and kindly, and given our choice of a table or a booth. I appreciated the choice, one of our diners is a tall man, so sometimes a booth isn’t a great option. We were seated and approached by the server quickly.
We ordered appetizers and those were brought quickly. Some were better than others. I got the escargot. They were served in small puff pastry cups and pan sautéed with garlic and parsley. The flavor was fine, but the temperature was too cool. My other criticism is that the shells tasted of the freezer. Next time I’d get another dish.
My husband got the Fried Blue Oyster Mushrooms. They were amazing! The batter was light and crispy, perfectly fried and not at all greasy. They sat atop a Dijon mustard sauce which was a perfect pairing. Very tangy! It balanced the sweet and rich bite of mushroom.
Our friend got the crab cake, which was served atop a fried green tomato with vegetable slaw and a sriracha sauce. He said it was in need of salt and a little bland, but cooked perfectly. He wasn’t wild about the fried green tomato with it.
Two of us got the filet mignon. It was atop cheddar mashed potatoes and finished with a demi glace. My filet was cooked perfectly, but it lacked seasoning and had an overly smoked flavor that I did not like. The potatoes were creamy, but I didn’t see or detect any cheddar in them. There was even some discussion at the table that they might be fake potatoes? I don’t believe that to be true, but we were underwhelmed for the prices Youseff charges.
My husband got the NY Strip. It was slightly better, but the real show stopper for me was the fried onion strips on top. They were fried delicately and perfectly. These folks really seem to know how to fry. Nothing was soggy, everything crispy and perfectly seasoned.
My other friend got the Mixed Green salad with Chicken. She loved it, but said that the chicken was dry. The salad had garbanzo beans, quinoa, carrots, pickled onions, cucumbers and tomatoes with a vinaigrette dressing. It was dressed well.
We chose 2 desserts for the table. Robert and Jeri got the Vanilla Brulee, which was reported to be fine, but nothing special. It did come with a quarter of a cookie which was a nice decoration, but really just a tease.
The other dessert was a Pineapple Upside Down cake. This was the star of the show. It was topped with a delicious vanilla bean ice cream and caramel sauce. Out of this world fresh and good. It was served warm, too.
Did we like this place? Sure, it was ok. But, for the price, there are so many better choices out there, even better choices in Hickory. The meals were hit or miss, and for half the price, I’d recommend it. Alas, I cannot.
You want to know where the best pizza is in Hickory? It’s at Tony’s, in a little strip mall near Target. It stays wrapped up, so you know it is good. We like New York style pizza, thin and bendy. This pizza is perfect for that, with a crispy crust perfect for crunching.
Another awesome fact about Tony’s is that they sell pizza by the slice, just like in NYC! I always go with the fam, so we just get a whole pie, but you know, the option’s there. I can’t really speak on any of the other items on the menu, because I never stray from the pizza. Never.
We went to Cool Park today in Hickory and had such a blast! We have usually made the first visit here by now, but we took that trip to Disney right after school let out, so we delayed our first visit to almost July…unheard of in the Zick house!
To get here, take StarTown Road all the way to Spings Rd. in Hickory. Take a right on Springs and a left on Kool Park Rd. Take a right at the first red light (by the church) and you’ll see the sign for Cool Park on the right. You can thank me later.
Some stats: It costs $12 for adults, $8 for kids, bring a picnic as there are plenty of picnic tables. No glass bottles, no alcohol. The lifeguards are quite lax and you can do pretty much what you want.
Cool Park is open daily from 10-6 pm. During the week you can go at 3pm and get in for 1/2 price. 3 hours of swimming is usually plenty for us. Going at this time also ensures that all of the daycare kids are gone by that time.
Even Realtors have to take a day off. My kids were steaming mad at me because I’ve been going going going every single day for a while. I turned the phone on low today and took them to the Catawba Science Center to get some brownie points and a little education.
Catawba Science Center is located in Hickory, NC on the Salt Block. We’ve been several times before but this time the exhibit is about deep space and also sea creatures! We saw a program about Black Holes in the planetarium that was like an IMAX lite experience. My 11 year old loved it!! More geared toward my 4 year old, we also went over to touch nurse sharks, sting rays, starfish, horseshoe crabs, sea anemone and the like. We even saw Nemo and Dory! They had a blast. If you’ve never been up there, but have young kids, you must go. You can sneak in a little learning and they won’t even know it!