by Joshua Maloni
Travel judges Mike Shubic and Brian Cox, better known as the "Road Bros," visited Lewiston this week to see if the 30-restaurant-village has what it takes to become "Best for Food" in the Rand McNally/USA Today "Best of the Road" contest.
Lewiston volunteers welcomed the "Road Bros" on Wednesday with a grand celebration at The Silo Restaurant. Then on Thursday, Mike and Brian spent all day touring local eateries. They stopped at the Orange Cat, Tom George's, the Brickyard, Apple Granny, Casa Antica, the Niagara Falls Country Club, Macri's, Hibbard's, DiCamillo's, Carmelo's and Water Street Landing.
The Travel Channel tagged along with the "Road Bros," filming segments for a special to air on July 25. Mike and Brian also were filming segments and taking pictures for their own travel blogs, www.mikesroadtrip.com and www.thetravelvlogger.com, respectively.
Question: What, if anything, did you guys know about Lewiston before you came here?
Mike: Pretty much nothing. The only thing that we really knew is that it was near Niagara Falls, which was a location that's always been on my bucket list. So, I was really excited to check it out.
Q: How would you say you've been treated since you've come into town?
Mike: It's been overwhelmingly unbelievable. I mean, yesterday we drove in; we had a police escort. The whole community, it seemed like, had gathered around and just treated us unbelievably well. It was just such a fun experience. I mean, the kids were asking for autographs and stuff, which was really cute. Some of them even wanted us to sign their cheeks and foreheads, and that was fine.
Q: What are some of the things that you guys are looking for in "Best for Food"?
Mike: Food encompasses, obviously, quality, taste, presentation, and, you know, it's just the overall look and feel of the restaurant. So, I think it encompasses a lot of that. And what kinds of ingredients are used, and the array, in the community, of different types of restaurants.
Q: How do you guys handle a full day of eating? What's the strategy?
Brian: Oh, wow. The strategy - I guess the reality is there is no strategy. We started off in Charlottesville (Va.), and our strategy at the time was if we liked it, we would eat more of it. And that was a bad strategy. The best way to go is to literally have one bite. If it's really good, maybe it gets a second or third. But when it comes to a sixth, or maybe even a 10th restaurant, there's no room. You kind of want there to be room, because people have made a big deal to serve and they want the reviews. To be fair, everyone gets at least one bite. If it's really good, we'll continue to pick at it. But, you really got to walk away from it.
Q: I'm sure you guys are well versed in everything culinary. But how does it feel to be filmed for television?
Brian: Being on television - it is definitely a new experience. I normally make travel video blogs, and generally I'm filming myself. I put the camera on a tripod and then just have it directed to me. I think most people think I'm crazy. So now, I guess, most people don't think I'm crazy anymore.
It was a little bit difficult the first few days, but now, I think, the best way to think about it is that you're not on camera. The editors (are) not going to make you look weird or show you picking your nose or anything like that. ... I hope not. I hope not editors!
The "Road Bros" have four more towns to visit before heading back home. Their cross-country trip will conclude in Seattle.