Heather Visits Wahlburgers

2015-05-16 12.29.03

Mark and Donnie Wahlberg have managed to make a name for themselves both in the music and acting business – Donnie most recently with his work on CBS’s Blue Bloods and his ongoing participation in New Kids on the Block while Mark is of course a movie star (Boogie Nights, Shooter, Ted, The Oher Guys) and producer (Entourage, Boardwalk Empire) whose humble beginnings started in Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. The siblings have decided to further expand their empire by going into the restaurant business with their brother Paul for the burger joint Wahlburgers. The restaurant is also a subject of an A&E reality show by the same name. I watched a few episodes of the show out of curiosity and while reality TV really isn’t for me, it was mildly amusing. By reality show standards it’s pretty tame and it feels pretty staged, but the interaction between the brothers, their other siblings and their mother Alma is generally relatable and fun. It’s mindless entertainment, but it’s still entertainment. I don’t watch the show regularly, but if I happen to come across it while surfing the channels, I’ll stop and watch a few minutes before moving on to greener pastures. Both Mark and Donnie are consistently featured on the show – the latter more than the former – which was a little surprising, as I figured their presence would taper off over time. You’d think that neither of them would have a lot of time or interest in a reality show on A&E, but family loyalty (and brand recognition) runs deep with this crew.

My friend Staci have been discussing for a while making the road trip to visit Wahlburgers; while the restaurant has plans for a rapid expansion into various new locations, currently the only spot that is open (according to their website) is in Hingham, MA (the family hails from Dorchester). It seemed like a win-win for us: we’d get to spend some time together while Staci would get a little NKOTB fix and I’d get to try a new burger. I could pretty much live on burgers if that was permissible without ever getting sick of them, so the opportunity to have a burger with a side of some pop culture made the three hour drive to the restaurant seem like an excellent way to spend a day. We hit the road at 8 am on Saturday to get to Wahlburgers shortly after it opened for lunch; we had bundled a visit to a spa in Boston in as part of the road trip as well, so we weren’t just driving six hours roundtrip to go to a casual dining establishment (though I have done dumber things).

Wahlburgers is located in a small plaza that is the home to many other restaurants, a movie theater, a brewpub and some retail stores. It was a little cooler and more overcast than we would have liked, but I’m guessing on a warm Friday or Saturday night the plaza would have been really hoping. It would be a nice one-stop shop for dinner and a movie and the plaza is located near a dock filled with either large boats or small yachts (I am not a nautical person). It was overall a pretty location and while it’s hard to make a plaza feel very exciting, it wouldn’t be a bad place to spend some time.

2015-05-16 12.31.50

2015-05-16 12.34.31

Wahlburgers is located directly across from the family’s other restaurant, Alma Nove. We arrived shortly after 11 am, when they opened, and it was already fairly crowded. The restaurant was slightly bigger than I anticipated; one side was for “quick service” where customers order at the counter and pick the food up and the other side had wait staff that took care of individual tables. There is also outside seating with a fireplace. We opted for the full Wahlburgers experience and the hostess directed us to a high top to await our server. We were over by the bar and there were plenty of TVs to watch, though that early on a Saturday, there wasn’t much on other than soccer (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

2015-05-16 12.33.10

Since I wasn’t driving, I decided to go all out and have one of the restaurant’s adult frappes. I opted for the Fluffanuttah: vanilla ice cream, peanut butter, marshmallow vodka and crème de banana. It was a little pricey at $12, but since it’s not like I can go to Wahlburgers all the time I decided to go for it. I’m always a little wary of the dairy and alcohol combo – I still have PTSD from one too many Girl Scout cookie cocktails at a sorority formal in college – but the Fluffanuttah was pretty darn tasty. My only complaint was that there was a little bit of an alcohol after taste, so while the drink went down pretty smoothly, I was quickly reminded that this was not a frappe for kids. It was pretty filling as well, so one was more than enough, though I would have liked to try the s’more frappe as well.

2015-05-16 11.41.56

Though Wahlburgers is primarily a burger joint, the small menu does offer patrons plenty of options. In addition to the generic house burger, there are four specialty burgers on the menu as well as a burger of the month that rotates. The menu also has several sandwich and salads choices as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options. So while the menu isn’t extensive, they manage to offer meals that would appeal to most people. The burgers don’t come with any sides, but those can be added a la carte. It dawned on me during the ride to Wahlburgers that in the 20+ years that we’ve been friends, I wasn’t even sure that I’d ever seen Staci eat a burger. So it would have been kind of hysterical if we drove all the way to Hingham and she ordered a salad. It turns out that she doesn’t have a beef with burgers (ha!); Staci ordered the “Originally from Dorchester” burger (1/2 lb burger with homemade tomato jam, bacon, Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms) with a side of fires. I opted for “The Melt” burger (1/3 lb burger, served between thick-cut bread and grilled with government cheese, pickles caramelized onions, bacon and mustard sauce) with a side of sweet potato tots. Because reading comprehension is not always my strong suit, I completely skipped over the part of my burger’s description that discussed the bread, so I was super confused when my burger came out. It’s amazing that I did as well on the SATs as I did.

The Melt and Sweet Potato Tots

The Melt and Sweet Potato Tots

Fries and the OFD Burger

Fries and the OFD Burger

My main concern about Wahlburgers was that we would have driven all that way for a sub-par burger, which would have been a real drag. Thankfully, that was not the case; while my burger wasn’t the best that I’ve ever had (I love you In-N-Out), it wasn’t too shabby either. As confused as I was about the bread, it definitely added something to the burger; it was like having a burger inside a grilled cheese, which is not a bad thing in my book. My whole burger was tasty, but the pickles particularly stood out. They were just the right level of crispy and tangy. I’m a big fan of tater tots and my tots were also very good; I like my tots on the crispy side (rather than mushy) and these fit the bill. Staci enjoyed her meal as well, so it the trip was overall a success. We didn’t have any actual Wahlberg sightings, which I wasn’t really expecting anyway. Our timing probably didn’t help, since we were there so early; I’m guessing out likelihood of seeing at least Paul or Alma would have been better in the late afternoon or evening. Staci and I have both already met Donnie and it’s probably for the best that we didn’t run into Mark since I would have had to ask him for my money back for his movie Pain & Gain. Man, I really hated that movie. The staff that we did interact with were all nice and helpful; before we left we stopped by the counter to pick up some souvenirs – a Wahlburgers t-shirt for Staci and a Wahlburgers pint glass for me (because – of course).

All in all, it was a nice way to spend a Saturday, other than our close proximity to Fenway Park when we went into Boston for our spa visit on Newbury Street. I don’t know that I’d ever feel obligated to make a special trip to Wahlburgers again, but if I happened to be in the vicinity of the restaurant locations I would definitely stop in again. I wouldn’t put the Wahlburgers burger ahead of In-N-Out or Five Guys, but it’s way better than a lot of burgers that I’ve consumed in my travels. Good company and good food is not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

The full Wahlburgers menu is available at http://www.wahlburgersrestaurant.com. The Wahlburgers reality show has wrapped its third season on A&E.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Getting Old Edition

It’s my birthday this weekend, which is usually cause for celebration, at least in my eyes. Everyone else just kind of humors me. This year, however, I’m just not feeling it and am kind of dreading having to say that I am a year older. There is not legitimate reason for this apathy – it isn’t a “milestone” birthday or anything – and I know turning a year older beats the alternative, but I’m just not in a celebratory mood at all this year. Perhaps I’ve finally gotten over the excitement for my birthday that everyone else got over when they were a kid. Perhaps it is because this year a lot of people have yet to respond to my unofficial party or can’t come. Perhaps it is because I do so many awesome things throughout the year that I don’t really need this excuse to make a big deal out of one particular day. Whatever the reason, as Saturday approaches, instead of my usual giddiness, it’s being greeted with a shrug. I’m happy to see my friends, but that’s about it.

Pop culture, on the other hand, still makes me excited and I had a lot of fun compiling your biweekly roundup of all the pop culture goodness that you might have missed. I just kept finding all sort of cool things to include. So while I attempt to determine what exactly is bumming me out, kick back and enjoy:

  •  Congrats to Bob Newhart for winning his first Emmy! The full list of Creative Arts Emmy winners can be found here. The Primetime Emmys will air on September 22. There may be a live blog.
  • The West Wing fans – Allison Janney performed “The Jackal” last night on the newly revived The Arsenio Hall Show.

 

  • Everyone that I know that watched the Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Canelo Alvarez fight last weekend was disappointed. Snoop Dogg Lion, however, won over a pound of weed on that fight.
  • After a lackluster performance at the box office, the planned sequel to The Mortal Instruments has been delayed indefinitely.
  • A new season of Key and Peele debuts tonight:

 

  • Best. Parents. Ever.
  • Doctor Sleep, Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, will be released next Tuesday.
  • People keep making Breaking Bad musicals. Check out Walter White and the Mazing Blue Crystal Meth:

 

  • This is probably NOT a good sign: Pirates of the Caribbean 5 has been shut down indefinitely for script maintenance. Probably for the best; this movie is wholly unnecessary.
  • Eddie Murphy did a reggae song with Snoop Lion. I have no idea if this is supposed to be a joke or not:

 

  • The O.C.’s Sandy Cohen and Ryan Atwood (Peter Gallagher and Ben McKenzie in real life) reunited at Gallagher’s daughter’s concert.
From @petergallagher

From @petergallagher

  • The O.C. is getting a a remake – in Turkey.
  • I am a fan of both Metallica and bluegrass, so I really enjoyed this cover of “Enter Sandman:”

 

  • The first three hosts for SNL have been announced; Tina Fey kicks the season off, followed my Miley Cyrus and Bruce Willis.
  • Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video is greatly improved with the addition of Nicolas Cage:

 

  • Watch this guy do 13 Muppet impressions in a minute:

 

  • Speaking of Muppets, they did all sorts of great stuff since the last round up. Cookie Monster spoofed some movies:

 

  • Elmo (or a reasonable facsimile) hung out with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen:
@SirPatStew

@SirPatStew

  • Grover sang with Dave Matthews:

 

  • Cookie Monster also found some time to hang out with Loki:

 

  •  UC Irvine is offering a free online course on The Walking Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the show, but I may have to take this just for kicks. I’m thinking that could really spruce up my resume.
  • Ha! Watch Todd from Breaking Bad gun down Justin Bieber:

gif_300x355_f5681a

No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

No Biebers were harmed in the creation of this GIF

  • He’s still really good looking, but I’m not digging Joe Manganiello as much without his beard.
  • Eminem turned up during the Michigan/Notre Dame game. It was awkward, to say the least.

gif_300x355_fa666e

  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller recreated with LEGOs:

 

  • Britney Spears is rumored to be earning $15 million per year for her Vegas residency. Seems as good a reason as any to finally plan my first trip to Vegas.

 

  • This local sports anchor worked 41 Seinfeld references into his segment:

 

He also did a segment full of old school rap references and wrestling references. I think this guy and I could be fast friends.

  • Also announcing tours: Robin Thicke, Jay Z and Kanye (the latter who I am going to see in Madison Square Garden!)
  • Cecily Strong is joining the soon departing Seth Myers at the SNL Weekend Update desk. The last few people to sit at the desk (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon) have gone on to some pretty great things.
  • A writer at UPROXX wrote a tribute to one of the greatest episodes of It’s Always SunnyChardee MacDennis. I wholeheartedly concur.
  • The Ohio University marching band preformed a rendition of Ylvis’ viral sensation The Fox during their game against Marshall.

 

Haven’t see the video for The Fox yet? Here it is, in all it’s weirdness. Watch it now, thank me later.

  • Breaking Bad fans are the best. Los Pollos Hermanos now has its own Yelp page, full of reviews.
  • Fiona Apple covered “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka for a Chipotle ad:

 

Trailers! Get your trailers here:

  • Nicole Kidman in Grace of Monaco:

 

  • National Geographic’s Killing Kennedy, starring Rob Lowe and Ginnifer Goodwin:

 

  • Kill Your Darlings with Daniel Radcliffe and Michael C. Hall (that’s kind of a weird combo):

 

  • Will Forte and Bruce Dern star in Nebraska, the latest from director Alexander Payne:

 

  • James Franco and Jason Statham are in a movie together. Yes, I’m serious.

 

  • A photo of Justin Bieber holding a script for the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie almost broke the Internet.
@justinbieber

@justinbieber

No – he isn’t playing Robin.

As always, we end with the supercuts and mashups:

  • Who knew that Marty McFly was such a screamer?

 

  • A Billy Joel/Kanye mashup sounds way better than you would think:

 

  • Blurred Sanford mashes up Blurred Lines and the Sanford and Son theme song:

 

  • This supercut proves Bill Murray is an awkward kisser.

 

  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail gets a modern trailer remix:

 

  • Les Miserables…..with light sabers:

 

  • Good Will Batman (NSFW):

 

  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gets the Cheers opening credit treatment:

 

  • And finally……The Dukes of Heisenberg:

 

Have a great Wednesday!

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Back to School edition

In this part of country today is the first day of school, which has little direct impact on my except that I had to avoid school buses during my morning commute and that my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of my friends’ offspring heading off to their institutions of learning. It’s still weird to me to not have a first day of school anymore; when you are a student and teacher continuously from the age of 4 to 32, you get used to such things. I do miss back to school shopping. I may have to buy myself some highlighters and folders just for old time’s sake. Best of luck to all the kiddos and teachers out there for a productive and educational school year and congratulations to all the parents in weathering another summer (and a special shout out to those of you who now have all your children in school and no longer have to pay for day care – the nightmare is over!).

In honor of the first day of school, allow me to educate you on all the pop culture stories that you might have missed while you were looking for the school prescribed type of scissors or haggling over first day of school outfits. Kick back and enjoy the beginning of Fall with your biweekly pop culture roundup:

  • Someone at HBO has been listening to me – next season of True Blood will be the series’ last. They are proving to be smarter than the books.
  • The new cast of Dancing with the Stars was revealed. I knew it was only a matter of time until Snookie turned up, though I wouldn’t have predicted Bill Nye the Science Guy,

 

  • Official Comedy looks at what would happen if Mark Wahlberg got his wish and became Iron Man:

 

  • Clint Eastwood and his wife have separated (I called this when she got her own reality show).
  • This dude made a homemade version of KITT from Knight Rider:

 

  • Here’s a photo of Peter Dinklage hula-hooping at a gay bar in Canada. If this doesn’t make you smile, you have no heart:

dinklage-hula

He was joined by his Game of Throne’s sister Lena Headey. Say what you will about the Lannisters – these people know how to have a good time.

  • This parody site offers suggestions for Robin Thicke for “what rhymes with hug me.”
  • This weekend we had a debate about what kind of tattoos we would get (neither of us got tatted up in college with all our friends). I’ve considered a lot of options, but somehow a Minion tattoo never crossed my mind.
  • Michelle Williams (the actress, not the Destiny’s Child singer) will make her Broadway debut in Cabaret. In other news, someone needs to get me tickets to Cabaret.
  • Aaron Paul continues his general tour of awesomeness with this napkin that he left for a server that he found out was a Breaking Bad fan:

tumblr_msk7ckUuwO1qjhttjo1_500

  • Watch a trailer for the 4th season of Downton Abbey:

 

  • Also on Thursday, Fiona Apple stormed off stage. Seriously – was there a full moon?
  • David Schwimmer angered his neighbors by tearing down a townhouse in NYC that was one year away from receiving landmark status. Their passive aggressive response is outstanding:
Did anyone think he was?

Did anyone think he was?

  • Jay Pharoah does a fantastic Kanye impersonation in his parody of West’s “I Am A God” (NSFW):

 

  • This is ONLY A RUMOR, but Benedict Cumberbatch may join the cast of the new Star Wars film.
  • The director of the Academy Award winning animated short Paperman has left Disney. Best of luck to him in his future endeavors – I loved his film.
  • Internet sensations Grumpy Cat and Lil Bub met for the first time at the Internet Cat Festival in Minneapolis. Yeah – you read that last part correctly.
  • The role of Daario Naharis on Game of Thrones has been recast. Because it isn’t hard enough already to keep all those characters straight when they are played continuously by the same actor.
  • Speaking of parent/child switcheroos, this tweet made me literally laugh out loud:

funnytweeter.com

 

  • This guy definitely sounds like a legit doctor – a dentist who bought John Lennon’s molar at an auction wants to use it to clone the Beatle. Yup – that’s not at all creepy.
  • Damn you to hell, Chase Utley. I have been perfectly content to hate you and your stupid hair since 2009 and then you had to go and do something relatively awesome like answer Mac’s fan letter from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

 

b05fabf92609c00204cf6f6fb14b3fc6

  • Kyle Chandler isn’t particularly interested in a Friday Night Lights movie (based on the TV show, obviously, since there already is a Friday Night Lights movie in existence). I still need to get around to watching season 5.
  • Muhammad Ali and Liberace once performed together. No, seriously:

 

  • I love this video of a guy dressed up as Spiderman, schooling people on the basketball court:

That was twice as entertaining as The Amazing Spiderman.

  • Further proof that Charlie Hunnam will do just fine in the Fifty Shades of Grey lead – he already basically played the other lead role on Queer as Folk.
  • According to Entertainment Weekly the greatest boy band of all time is……The Backstreet Boys.
  • Someone figured out how to play “Get Lucky” on Mario Paint:

 

  • Simon Pegg and Nick Frost actually do a decent cover of the song as well:

 

As always, we end with the mashups and shupercuts

  • A supercut of near kisses in movies:

 

  • People on The Newsroom sure like to shout:

 

  • Every time Leonardo DiCaprio says “old sport” in The Great Gatsby:

 

  • The new season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia starts tonight on FXX. Watch clips from the show re-cut as a trailer for a psychological thriller:

 

  • Kill Him – the supercut:

 

  •  I was forced to watch a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine while babysitting a dreadful little boy while I was in grad school, so I took particular joy in this mash-up:

 

  • And finally, a fan already cut together a trailer for Man of Steel 2, adding the rumored Brian Cranston as Lex Luthor for good measure: