Category Archives: Food

Does Ugly Bread rise above in Restaurant Reviews?

Alexis Barbour, Staff Writer

Typically, I would not find myself walking into a restaurant called Ugly Bread. But for the sake of my writing career I did. Ugly Bread Vietnamese Cafe is located at 1007 W Roosevelt Boulevard in Monroe, and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The name Ugly Bread comes from a type of bread loved by many that rises more than typical bread, giving the bread a wonderfully coarse texture. The name is obviously an intriguing one, but even the outside had me sketched out from the beginning.

I assume the name is a metaphor for how the owners want people to view their restaurant, a new and delicious meal! Vietnamese food seemed interesting in a “yeah maybe one day when I’m traveling and not broke” kind of way, but as I walked into Ugly Bread, I got a weird vibe.

A small, white concrete building with big red letters opened its caged-in windows and door to me with a cold greeting. “Hello, how are you” muttered a small voice from behind the counter. A quick nod and glance at the menu later, I decided on something I have never heard of before, which was not shocking since I didn’t know half the words on the menu.

I then sat down to await my food’s arrival. Once I received my food that was $13 (like everything else on the menu), I bit into it and was disappointed by what they call beef stir fry co’m.

This dish is typically strips of beef and sliced onions grilled and served with white rice, sliced carrots, sliced cucumbers and fish sauce, but the meat in my dish was extremely chewy. Besides the quality, however, the price is fair for the portions you get, even for a college student on a budget.

I looked around and noticed a 95.5 sanitation rating among the eccentrically designed walls and shiny tile floor. I also noticed that, within the time of my being in Ugly Bread, there were only 4 customers who came in. All of them, excluding one, were new customers from what I heard while eavesdropping, and each seemed hesitant about their dining choice that evening.

The employees were nice and did their jobs correctly, but from my own experience working in retail, you should be welcoming and speak above any background noise to new customers, which is not how I was spoken to.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best, I would give this restaurant a 3. I may seem harsh, but I love all kinds of food (especially bread), just not necessarily Ugly Bread.

Edited by Mason Teague and Ryan Mackintosh

Photo Credits Ugly Bread Facebook

Review: Takara presents a great touch to Asian restaurants in Monroe

Kendall Sienon, Staff Writer

MONROE, N.C. — You don’t have to go far to get exquisite Asian cuisine. Located on Highway 74 across the street from the Buick/GMC Car Dealership, Takara may be the new go-to place for all sushi, hibachi, and Asian fare lovers!

Nearly everyday of the week you’ll see the restaurant full of hungry guests. However, on Wednesday and Sunday it is extra busy when Takara offers half price sushi on their special rolls. However, the specials don’t stop there. On Thursdays, they have buy one hibachi get one half off.

Photo Source: Yelp

There are two dining options to choose from: Hibachi or regular dining. At hibachi, guests can choose anything from the menu including sushi and items from the kitchen. There, a chef will cook for the table right in front of you. He will roll out all the tricks, while putting on an entertaining show for diners.

The fried rice is immaculate and the seafood sauce is never ending. The chicken, steak, shrimp and veggies that accompany the extra large portions of fried rice are cooked to perfection.

Each hibachi dinner includes an option of soup or salad, fried rice, veggies and meat. If you’re not in the mood for something so heavy and just interested in the hand-made sushi, the regular dining option may be for you. There, it is like any typical dining experience with average servers.

There is one server there that always remembers me every time I went there with my order ready to be placed. She has since moved on and no server has stepped up to match her enthusiasm and amiability.

Although the service isn’t top-notch, it has not stopped me from enjoying some of the best sushi I’ve ever had. My go to is “White Christmas” but there are some other rolls that are just as incredible such as “Pop-Pop Girl” and “Godzilla”. I promise this sushi will not disappoint.

Takara offers consistent service with a consistent meal. The atmosphere is intimate and soothing while offering an Asian flair. It is a perfect place to go on a first date or with a group of friends. Half price sushi is a must and don’t be surprised if you find yourself there nearly every week enjoying the handmade sushi rolls.

Address: 2515 W Roosevelt Blvd, Monroe, NC 28110

Hours: M-F 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Sat 12 noon-8:30 p.m.; Sun 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

Busiest times: Wednesday/Sunday; 6:30-8:30 most days

Phone Number: (704) 289-1127

Dress: casual

Reservations: not necessary but recommended for large parties

Wheelchair access: Yes

Price: $/$$$ (however it can range depending on the day you go and the items you choose)

Overall Rating: ★★★★ (4 out of 5)

Edited by: Brea Childs

Review: El Aguacate adds to Mexican restaurant choices in Monroe

Maggie Smith, Staff Writer

In Monroe alone, there are approximately seven Mexican restaurants. New Mexican restaurants open in Monroe often. I personally am an Mexican food enthusiast, so naturally when there’s a new Mexican restaurant I want to try it out.

Photo Source: Yelp

Recently a new Mexican restaurant called El Aguacate opened up on E Roosevelt Blvd. and I decided to check it out.The restaurant has two separate entrances, the one on the right is for take out and the one on the left is for dine-in. The restaurant is pretty big on the inside, so there is a lot of room for sitting.

The business was very slow for a Sunday afternoon compared to other Mexican restaurants on Sunday afternoons when many people pile in after church for their Sunday fix.

It could be because it’s a new restaurant and business isn’t up to par yet, or it could be that it’s location is tucked away off of the Blvd. in a strip of stores connected to the Food Lion, which keeps it hidden.

So if you’re craving Mexican food on a Sunday afternoon and all the other Mexican restaurants have a long wait, El Aguacate will have a table available. Like many restaurants they bring you chips and salsa immediately when you’re seated, but what I really liked was that they also bring you a delicious complementary dip which is Queso mixed with refried beans.

Typically at Mexican restaurants I order a Pollo Con Crema or something similar to it, so I decided to also order it at El Aguacate to better compare it to other Mexican restaurants. The Pollo Con Crema is a plate that consists of marinated chicken strips covered with Queso and comes with a side of Rice and Refried Beans.

They also bring offer a choice of flour or corn tortilla shells with the meal so you can make your own burritos if you want, which I recommend. The mix of the Chicken, Rice, Beans, and Queso is the perfect mix.

The Pollo Con Crema at El Aguacate was $9.75, which is the average price at most Mexican restaurants. The overall pricing was average on the menu and they have different specials each day of the week.

On Sunday’s the special is the Burrito Acapulco, which is a burrito stuffed with Mexican rice, melted cheese, pinto beans, grilled mushrooms, and a creamy white sauce. On Monday’s, the specials are Enchildas, in which you get to choose an Enchilada from the menu for a discounted price. On Tuesday’s, the special is Chimichangas in which you choose the one you desire from the menu as well. Wednesday’s are taco nights. Thursday is fajita night. Friday’s special is the Pollo Con Crema, and Saturday is the Camarones Diabla, which is a garlic spice marinated with butter, grilled onions, and pepper.

It’s served with rice and salad. The menu also has a varied selection that is not limited to just Mexican food. El Aguacate also serves Seafood, Pork, Wings, and Pizza. They also have domestic and imported beers and tend to have specials on certain days for beer.

For instance, on Thursday’s along with the Fajita’s they also have $3.00 large beers. If you’re a sweet tea drinker and like your tea pretty sweet like I do, you’ll definitely like their tea. They also have other mixed drinks to choose from that run as specials certain days, they also serve smoothies, and of course Margarita’s.

The service was great and the owner even came over to check on us a couple of times as well. He was very nice and wanted to ensure that we had everything we needed.

El Aguacate is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday’s.

I was very pleased with this new restaurant and really recommend giving this place a shot.

Edited By: Brea Childs

Review: Hilltop brings culinary diversity and family fun to the Monroe-Wingate area

Jackson Kaplan, Staff Writer

MONROE, N.C. – – – When going out to eat for a meal, do you consistently struggle with deciding what to get on the menu? Spiro’s Hilltop Fish Fare and Steakhouse may very well present this challenge; however, any food item you choose is guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s taste buds.

Photo Source: The Knot website

Since 1930, Hilltop has provided quality American, Italian, Seafood, and Greek dishes to the Union/Mecklenburg county area. When a customer walks in through the front doors, you instantly smell the combination of a very diverse menu this restaurant has to offer. Hilltop has something for everyone during all times of day.

Hilltop features a family friendly, welcoming atmosphere with multiple sectors of the restaurant that appeals to every type of person who prefers a particular dining experience. If you walk through the entrance and turn left, this room provides a quiet, calm atmosphere for small to large parties.

When walking to the right of the hostess stand, Hilltop brings a first-class bar/buffett area which features multiple TVs and a large projector screen to watch sports or the local news. Walk further to the back and down a spiral staircase, you will experience a lively bar area for people who want to watch their favorite sports team in a fun atmosphere. Again, Hilltop has something to appeal to every customer.

First time at Hilltop and looking for its specialties? All you need to do is read the full title of the restaurant and it will provide a clear indication of its best dishes. For steak lovers, try Hilltop’s signature steaks like the bone-in ribeye or the prime filet mignon. The steaks are cooked to perfection and are highly recommended for first-time visitors.

Not a fan of steaks? Customers could never go wrong with a solid assortment of signature fishes including Chilean sea bass, halibut, mahi mahi and grouper. Don’t worry, there are many other different fried, blackened or grilled fishes to choose from if you aren’t a fan of either of the aforementioned options.

Hilltop offers the same menu at lunch and dinner time, but the lunch crowd can enjoy a variety of sandwiches, paninis, wraps, soups and salads. The possibilities and combinations of menu options are almost endless.

Hilltop is one of those unique establishments that has you covered for all three meals of the day, including a delicious breakfast. The lunch and dinner crowds are much more popular (especially on weekends), but Hilltops provides all of the classic breakfast time favorites. Pancakes, omelettes, french toast, waffles, eggs and biscuits.

There are also many unique offerings like country ham biscuits, chicken biscuits, country fried steak, country fried ham, toasted bagels, and many more. The food options for all three meals are too many to list, so it’s best to check out the menu yourself because chances are good that you’ll find everything you’re looking for.

Personally, there are very few negatives with Hilltop because of the many food choices, friendly service, family environment and the southern atmosphere. One downside is parking. If you decide to dine at Hilltop on a Friday or Saturday night and arrive at around 5:30-6:00 p.m., good luck finding a parking space. Sometimes customers get lucky and someone is leaving their space as they arrive,  but there is very little parking to accommodate everyone who comes to Hilltop.

However, the parking lot of nearby Southern States provides additional parking if the Hilltop lot fills up, but it’s quite a hike from there to the restaurant. Other than the bad parking options for vehicles, Hilltop is sure to be a satisfying experience for every customer looking for quality and southern fun.

Stars: 5

Reservations?: Yes. Reservations are required for parties greater than 15 people.

Atmosphere: A combination of noisy and quiet depending on what section of the restaurant you sit in.


Breakfast – 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. | Saturday and Sunday until noon.

Rest of the day – 12 noon to 11 p.m.

Prices: Low to high depending on the food item.

Busiest times?: 6 to 9 p.m.

Time spent: 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

Size: Very large

Edited by: Brea Childs

Is the Freshman 15 a Myth or a Reality?

Kendall Sienon, Staff Writer

Wingate, N.C. — Going into college, people are warned relentlessly about the potential of the dreaded freshman 15. During freshman orientation, they bring up the possibility of weight gain and how to combat it. All over social media, there are countless articles on tips on how to avoid gaining weight in college. But how prevalent is this claim?

Moving from your hometown into college is a big transition. You’re in a new environment with new people. The food is different and there is temptation to go out to eat with friends especially late at night. A lot of times exercise seems to be the last thing on the list to do.

Senior Lauren Register says the freshman 15 is normal. “The body has a difficult time adapting to the new living arrangements,” Lauren states. Lauren noticed significant weight gain her freshman year. “My eating choices weren’t the best and the food offered at school aren’t always the healthiest.” Throughout college, Lauren has learned to eat healthier and workout regularly to avoid any significant weight gain.

Although working out and being active may not be the only solution to avoid weight gain. Freshman Sierra Street on the Women’s Lacrosse Team noticed weight gain because of the heavy lifting and increased appetite. “I feel like I am in shape,” Street states, “being an athlete has helped me maintain weight but if you eat the right things, you’ll gain muscle mass and that’s not always a bad thing.”

However, males are equally as affected by this potential increased weight gain in the first year . Junior Chris Birozes noticed weight gain among his non-athlete, male friends here at school and from home.

Although he is an athlete and didn’t notice weight gain for himself, he believes there is strong correlation between weight gain and time management. “I think the freshman 15 comes when there is no balance between school, friends, working out, sleeping and extra curriculars,” said Birozes.

Die Reich, Director of Campus Recreation, suggests that students remain active throughout their college career. She strongly suggests taking advantage of the Campus Recreation’s programs and services and the new fitness center.

Furthermore, poor eating and portion size can definetly affect lots of students. “Portion size can be the biggest culprit in weight gain,” says Reich. She suggests writing down what you eat and if possible how much. By using fitness trackers like My Fitness Pal, it can give you nutritional information, calories, and other important information on fitness and healthy eating.

The dreaded freshman 15 may be prevalent on campuses all over the country but there are ways to combat it through healthy eating, exercise and being aware of the risk.

Photo source: Google images

Edited by: Brea Childs

Wegmans comes to North Carolina

Hope Rogers, Staff Writer

The popular family-owned New York based grocery store, Wegmans, has made plans to open its first store in North Carolina. Despite the growing competition between grocery chains such as Publix and Whole Foods, in 2015, Wegmans was ranked the top grocery store in the country according to the Consumer Reports’ annual survey of customers.

Wegmans, which was founded by brothers John and Walter Wegman, opened its first store in 1916. Since then, Wegmans has expanded to 88 stores, primarily in the north. According to The News Observer, Wegmans spokeswoman Jo Natalie said, “We have signed a letter of intent and are working through lease negotiations with Columbia Development Group, with hopes of reaching a final lease agreement sometime during the first quarter of 2016.” The first NC store will be located in Cary, across from the Cary Towne Center.

The 90-acre property will consist of much more than the grocery store; the primary development sketch plans included up to 600 apartments. The site is located directly off of Interstate 40 and is currently inhabited by an indoor shopping mall. However, its future does not look promising as large retailers such as Macy’s and Sears have closed down their stores.

Councilman Don Frantz described the location as a “gateway into Cary”, noting that, “It needs to be remarkable. It needs to be something that stands the test of time. It needs to be something that provides a lot of jobs, shopping, retail, restaurants and residential.” As Wegmans stores include a pharmacy, restaurants, a coffee shop, bakery, and more, the new store may be exactly what Mr. Frantz was hoping for.

Although the plans are not yet final for the new store, fans of Wegmans have already taken to social media to show their excitement. Ty Bates, a former Wingate student, exclaimed on Facebook, “I LOVE Wegmans!! It’s got great lighting and decorations that make you feel like your in little Italy. They sometimes even have live local singers come in and play for the people eating in their hot food section (which is to die for).” Also a Facebook page called “Bring Wegman’s to the NC Triangle Area – Please” was created last year and has over 500 likes.

According to the Wegmans website, four new stores are set to open this year. Nine other stores are currently listed on the site as future locations, two are set to open in 2017 and the others are to be determined. Cary is not included in the list, and Ms. Natalie could not disclose Wegmans’s future plans to open in other NC locations.

 Edited by Brea Childs and Shea Murray

Mixed Feelings for All Access Meal Plan

Written by: Øystein Fjeldberg

This fall Wingate University implemented a new system for meal plans. The All Access plan provides students with virtually unlimited meals over the course of the semester. There are some limits, but they do little to inhibit the students needs. Students have 999 meals that they can spend over the course of the semester, or an average of 62 meals a week.

At least 15 minutes has to pass between each meal, which means that a student can’t go to the Klondike and get six meals at once as an example. As a result, it is nearly impossible to run out of meals. Then why are some students complaining?

Up until last semester, students had a default option of 19 non-transferable meals a week that could be used at the school’s cafeteria or at the Klondike. Students had the option to switch over to a meal plan with fewer meals a week in return for more Bulldog Bucks (the school’s currency that can be used to buy food at campus restaurants such as Subway, Einstein Bros Bagels, and Pizza Hut).

With the All Access plan, however, this is no longer an option. Students that prefer getting their meals outside of the cafeteria and Klondike are left with a ton of meals that they will never use.

Student-athletes are perhaps those who have benefitted from the change the most. An unlimited supply of meals is an advantage for them, as they won’t have to worry about running out of meals prematurely in between practices and competitions. Wingate University is attended by many student-athletes compared to its small student population, and thus it makes sense to have a meal plan catered to this group.

As of November 12, Leif-Henning Klüver, a member of the men’s swimming team, had already spent 282 meals, which means that he has averaged 24 meals a week since the beginning of the semester. In other words, he has used more meals than there has been separate meals at the cafeteria.

It is not just athletes, however, that embrace the liberty provided by the new meal plan. “I won’t have to worry about when I go to the cafeteria during the week,” said student Johnny Rivera showing his support for the new meal plan . If he comes to the cafeteria and realizes that he is not that hungry, he can eat a quick meal, and then return later if he chooses to.

Even though there are benefits to the new meal plan it has left some students unhappy coming at the cost of their ability to choose alternative options for food. Maybe the best course of action would be to re-implement the possibility of choosing alternative meal plans, and leave the All Access Plan as one of the options for those who see it as beneficial to them.

Edited by: Danny Stueber and Meredith Lalor