Posts Tagged ‘Restaurants’

Wade’s Cafe, Colorado Springs, CO

11 February 2011

Wade's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Yesterday I needed some lunch, and I like diners, so I found Wade’s via Google Maps and went to check it out. I got there about 1200, and it was packed! I waited for a table about three minutes, and the place stayed full the entire time I was there. I got out around 1300.

I ordered a chicken fried steak on the recommendation of my server. She asked if I wanted it breakfast style or lunch style; I chose breakfast. It came with a bunch of hash browns and two eggs. The hash browns and eggs were both good and done right. The CFS was not as good as I would have liked; I rated it a six out of ten. The thing was pretty large (about 4×6″), but the flavor just wasn’t there. The gravy (of which there was not enough…) was pretty good.

My check was $9.00.

Legal C Bar, Dedham, MA (AKA Legal Sea Foods)

18 December 2010

Legal C Bar - Legacy Place on Urbanspoon

On Wednesday, a couple co-workers wanted to get some seafood while we were in the Boston area, and the desk clerk at the hotel pointed us to Legal C Bar, which is apparently a subsidiary of Legal Sea Foods. It was a mile or so from the hotel, so we headed over.

We got there around 1800, and were seated immediately. There are a mix of tables – traditional booths and tables. We were seated at a high table with bar-height seating. The place was very crowded, about 80% full, and was completely full when we left.

OK – if you are not terribly interested in seafood, this really isn’t your place. There were only two non seafood items – a beef tips (I saw one on a nearby table, and it looked like it was more brown gravy with small chunks of presumably beef over a lot of rice), and a chicken dish.

I went with the flow and got fish and chips. I started out with clam chowder. It was really good, but a bit expensive at $6.50. The fish and chips – I was really disappointed. I’ve had fish and chips in England, right off the street, and found it really, really good. This was OK at best. The fish I expected was a fillet of cod, and what I got was chunks of what I suspect was not cod. The fish was, well, fishy, and left a not-too-pleasant aftertaste in my mouth. The cole slaw and fries and onion straws were OK. But the chunks of fish were just not impressive.

The tea was good, but it ran out often, so that was kind of a drag. My check ended up being $27.72, which just does not seem like good value for the money. Yes, I *know* that LSF is famous, and so is more expensive, but the seafood was simply not outstanding. We talked about this on the drive back to the hotel, and we speculated that we saw a less desirable species of fish due to overfishing.

My friend Clark got hot tea. This came with the single coolest teabag I’ve seen – a long pyramid. I thought about taking it back home to show Raegan.

That cup, BTW was $3.50. When I think about an entire box of Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast Tea, which is $3 for 80 bags, that works out to about $0.04 per bag. That leads to believe that the hot water at LCB is extremely expensive, or the markup at LCB is just hideous. Somehow, I think the markup is the problem.

They did have very cool bathrooms. The “sinks” were glass panels tilted forward at you at a 45deg angle, the water splashes off the panels and runs down and back toward a tradition basin.

We left about 1930. I don’t think I will ever go back.

Jose Cuervo Tequileria, Tampa International Airport, Tampa, FL

14 December 2010

I had dinner in this restaurant inside Terminal A this evening. I got there about 1720, and the place was about half full. When I left around 1800, it was about 75% full.

I got chicken enchiladas verdes. The meal came with rice and black beans. My server told me that the rice was really a rice/pinto beans mix, so I got a double of that instead. The rice/beans mix was excellent! Tasty stuff. The enchiladas were also very, very good. They had salsa verde on the top of them, and it had been added before baking, so the stuff had soaked into the tortillas and added a great flavor to the chicken. The meal was not huge, and so was a good size before a 3-hour flight.

I got iced tea, and it was fresh brewed and good. Service was excellent, which means fast and attentive in an airport, which is built around deadlines.

My check was $14.43, a bit expensive if you are not at an airport.

The menu was, I suspect, a subset of the “outside the airport” menu. I look forward to trying one of these again.

Rockwell’s Corner Pub, Largo, FL

14 December 2010

A couple coworkers and I ate lunch here today. A good meal. We got there around 1205, and left at 1250. The restaurant was mainly empty while we were there.

I got a bowl of their homemade chili. It was pretty good. It had a couple varieties of beans (kidney and at least one other). There was good flavor, but no heat at all. I found one piece of green bell pepper in it. One too many, but easily fished out. I also got an order of honey BBQ wings; they were good, the BBQ tangy and not too sweet. All wings scarfed down (I did offer them to my coworkers, but they didn’t take me up on the offer).

The iced tea was good and kept refilled. Service was personal and good. My check was $12.19. A good, fast lunch.

Hometown Family Restaurant, Seminole, FL

14 December 2010

Hometown Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After work today, my two coworkers and I were driving back to the hotel, and drove past this place and decided to try it. We got there around 1900, and left around 1950. There was no karaoke.

I ordered roast beef. The meal came with a salad that was pretty good, and had decent ranch dressing. The roast beef was pretty tough. It was mostly flavored with Worcestershire sauce (did I spell that right, I wonder?). It took some serious chewing to get it down. There was quite a bit of it, being two largish slices. The meal also came with mixed veg (OK) and mashers (OK) with brown gravy (OK).

The iced tea was good, and service was good, and quick. I got a slice of chocolate cake for dessert – it was HUGE. Too much to eat, it came back to the hotel with me, and was consumed later this evening with some milk from the CVS just down the road.

My check was $16.22. You could do worse than eat here, I guess.

Bella Italia Pizzeria & Deli, Largo, FL

13 December 2010

Bella Italia Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

I have been here for lunch several times over the years. A group of us went here for lunch today, it was excellent! We got there around 1145, and left around 1240.

We got toasted garlic bread with the lunch, and some marinara to dip it in. The bread was perfect, and the marinara was excellent.

I got the lunch special of chicken parmesean. It was a single chicken breast, breaded and covered with cheese, and was very tasty. It was also the perfect size for lunch. It came with some spaghetti and more of that excellent marinara.

I got iced tea to drink. Service was perfect. My check was only $8.40. This place is highly recommended.

Charly’s Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

13 December 2010

Charly's on Urbanspoon

We decided to try Charly’s Saturday evening. It’s fairly near our house. We had been headed for the IHOP at 122nd and I-35, but did a real-time change.

We had eaten at Charly’s quite some time ago, just after it opened. The verdict then had been: “it’s OK”. Not good, not bad, just OK.

So we got there about 1900. There were a number of cars in the lot, but only two tables occupied. I quickly figured out why – there is a separate smoking room that is not very well sealed.

We ordered quickly. Ian and I I got T-bone steaks. Both steaks were overcooked, and mine had some very tough places. The steak was not overly flavored. I got hash browns and green beans with mine, Ian got fries and green beans. Erin got a taco salad. It wasn’t bad, there was a LOT of it. She asked for salsa, and all they had was New Mexico green chili sauce; she had wanted a baked potato, but they were out, and wouldn’t have any for 30 minutes. Raegan got the fried catfish, a baked potato (she asked them to micro-nuke it, which they did), and green beans. She reported the catfish to be good to OK (which I note is not a ringing endorsement).

The salad and ranch dressing was good. I got vegetable beef soup with mine, and like it a lot. In fact, I think it was the best part of the meal. The tea was good, although it wasn’t refilled quite as quickly as I like.

Overall, the meal was “OK-“. Between the quality of the food, and the persistent smoke smell in the main part of the restaurant, it’s unlikely we will be back. Too bad. I would really like to have a good home-cooking place near our house.

We left at 1950. Our check was $46.31.

Sun & Sand Restaurant, Santa Rosa, NM

13 December 2010

Sun & Sand Restaurant on Urbanspoon

OK, I don’t know if Sun & Sand is the real name of this place. The sign on top says: Restaurant. [19 Dec update: I found the receipt in my bag, it is Sun and Sand Restaurant!] We stopped here around 2000 on a Saturday evening returning from Pagosa Springs on the way to Amarillo and Oklahoma City. The outside sign was off, and the hours on the door said they closed at 2100, but they let us in, so that was a good thing.

The menu has a lot of items on it. New Mexican, gringo, Italian. I got a pair of enchiladas, one beef and one chicken. GREAT stuff! I ate every scrap on the plate. Raegan got the soup of the day and liked it. Ian got chicken strips IIRC, and Erin got an appetizer only (not very hungry). We were out of there in about 45 minutes. The check was $35.48. I seem to remember thinking that the meal was a really good value.

I think that this place is as good as Josephs. Service is a lot better also.

Boss Hoggs, Pagosa Springs, CO

13 December 2010

This is one of two catch-up posts. My very cute and detail-oriented roommate pointed out that I had not written a review of her favorite restaurant in Pagosa Springs, Boss Hoggs.

We went there for lunch on an extended leaving-town sequence back on Saturday, 27 Nov. We had visited a couple shops after checking out of High Country Lodge, and it was past noon. We got there around 1230 and were immediately seated.

There are a LOT of dead animals on the walls there.

We got our drinks (the tea was excellent) and ordered. I got a chicken fried steak. One work for it – excellent. Great flavor, perfect breading, good gravy. Raegan got a dinner salad. She liked it. Ian got the rib plate. Those were some decent ribs. I tried part of one and thought that it had potential. Erin got a frito chili pie (it was huge!). It was good, but a bit too spicy for her.

We all got salad and soup from the salad bar. The ranch dressing I got was excellent. The soup – I can’t remember what the stuff was, but it was unusual, and it was great! Perfectly spicy and tasty.

We all got dessert – R2 and I got chocolate cream pie, and the kids got ice cream. The pie was great stuff.

So R2 likes Boss Hoggs better than Junction. I would have to say from this meal that they certainly give Junction a run for the money. We will try Hoggs again the next time we are in Pagosa. We left at 1325. Our check was $56.34. Service was great – very attentive.

Largo Family Restaurant, Largo, FL

13 December 2010

Largo Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I am pretty sure that I ate at this restaurant a number of years ago. The place has quite the varied menu. It’s only a couple blocks north of my hotel here in Largo. I went there with a couple work associates this evening. We got there around 1715, and were immediately seated, the restaurant was only about 15% full.

Ron got the fish platter (mainly fried stuff, it looked like), and Tom got turkey. Both said their meal was good.

I got roast chicken. The meal came with a salad that was loaded with stuff. I got ranch dressing that was really good. The chicken was of variable quality. There were parts that were very good, but more that was not, either stringy, or way dried out. I think that I only ate about half of that half chicken. The meal came with some dressing (not to my taste), mashers (good) and green beans (good), and poultry gravy (excellent). I think I would get something else next time, like the turkey.

I got tapioca for dessert, and it was small but very good. The tea was good (although our server kept bringing me sweet tea after the first unsweetened).

We left around 1755, the restaurant was probably more than half full. Service was pretty good. My check was $9.96.

One thing – Sunday evenings around 1745 is karaoke night!

Farmhouse Cafe, Omaha, NE

4 December 2010

Farm House Cafe on Urbanspoon

After work last night, I needed to find a place to eat, so I fired up Google Maps on my Blackberry and searched for “cafe”. Farmhouse popped up as #3 on the list, and I liked the reviews, so I headed over there.

I got there around 1800. The place was only about 20% full, and I was seated immediately.

I looked at the menu, it is full of comfort food. I ordered a cup of chili, and the three-piece chicken, all white, with iced tea to drink.

The chili showed immediately. It was OK, but only OK. It was probably 20% big chunks of tomato. There were also tons of beans and unidentifiable stuff. There was little meat. There was no heat (spice) to it at all. The flavor was OK.

The chicken arrived while I was still eating the chili, very quickly. The usual “all white” order would be a breast, thigh, and wing, but this was three large breasts. I barely got all that chicken down. It was pretty good. I think that it was baked instead of fried, since the skin wasn’t very crispy. The chicken was fairly moist and not dried out, and had good flavor.

The chicken came with mashers and green beans. Kind of unusual – the mashers were dumped on top of the green beans, then gravy was dumped on top of the mashers. Bad aim on the part of whoever assembled the plate? I dug out all of the green beans and ate them (not bad), and ate most of the mashers (couldn’t get them all, too much chicken).

I had asked for some extra gravy up front. The gravy was… odd. It had a definite taste of cream. I couldn’t taste any flour or grease or anything like that. I think it was a plain roux. Now that I think about it, this “gravy” reminds me quite a bit of the cream sauce that Raegan makes when we have red-skinned potatoes.

The meal came with a muffin; I wanted blueberry, but got cranberry. My server went and got a blueberry, and let me keep the cranberry. I had a nibble off of each, pretty good. They will become breakfast.

I left around 1900. The meal was OK. The service was also. The tea was good. The bakery stuff there looked really good. My check was $19.04.

Stella’s Bar and Grill, Bellevue, NE

3 December 2010

This is about the “new” Stella’s. The “old” Stella’s was a rathole by any standard, but made darn fine cheeseburgers. The old building was torn down, and another built in it’s place. The burgers are just as good.

We got there today around 1215. We had to shoehorn three of us around a two-top, since the place was about 95% full. We got our orders in pretty quick, though.

I got iced tea, a double cheeseburger, and a bowl of chili. The tea was good, the burger outstanding. It has wonderful beef flavor, and was hotter than heck right off the grill. Not to greasy, but nice and juicy. The chili was OK. No heat, and a lot of kidney beans and bits and pieces of non-meat. Good flavor, though.

We left around 1300. My check was $13.11. Service was good in spite of the large number of people. Great cheeseburgers!

Swine Dining, Bellevue, NE

3 December 2010

Swine Dining BBQ on Urbanspoon

This place has real potential. The history I got is that they used to sell their BBQ out of a truck at various locations in Bellevue, mainly along Galvin Road. They recently opened up in a newish building just east of downtown on Highway 370.

A couple friends and I went there for lunch today. We got there around 1230. The place was about empty.

The ordering concept is a bit odd. There is a paper menu and a bunch of pencils, and you check off what you want. It looks like pretty much sandwiches only for lunch, and I think you can get dinners in the evening.

I got “The Whole Hog”, or something like that. It’s a hoagy roll with a fair amount of chopped everything they have, including sausage. That was some pretty darn good meat! I didn’t have much of the bread, there was so much meat. I tried both the mild and hot sauce. The mild was OK, little taste or heat. The hot had some good flavor enhancement and wasn’t too spicy at all.

It came with two sides; I got baked beans (decent), and cole slaw (creamy, also decent). The tea was self serve and good.

We left about 1310. My check was $7.10. I look forward to going back, that’s some of the best BBQ I have had in Omaha.

Karray’s Cafe, Bellevue, NE

3 December 2010

This place is just a block away from my favorite hotel in the Bellevue area. It’s open 0630-1400 everyday but Sunday. I dropped in there for lunch yesterday since I had a longer-than-normal lunch.

I got there around 1145, and was seated immediately. There were about five tables occupied out of about 25. I ordered iced tea, and the lunch special – shepard’s pie!

The tea got there quickly. It was not that good, but it wasn’t so bad that I sent it back. I think it was a concentrate like Gold Coast, which is highly variable.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Restaurants ought to brew their iced tea (in dedicated containers) instead of buying concentrate or using instant (which is a dining crime, in my opinion). It has to be less expensive, and it tastes better.

Moving on. The shepard’s pie arrived shortly. It was pretty good. I think they made some of the filling by using ground beef and a spice and seasoning mix, mixed in some corn, then topped it with clumps of mashers, and stuck it in the over for a couple minutes to crisp up the mashers.

it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t true shepard’s pie. It should have had carrots and peas in it, and it should have been completely covered with mashers and then baked until hotter than heck and with a crust on the mashers.

But I would get it again! I ended the meal with an excellent piece of chocolate pie.

I left around 1245; the restaurant was about 40% full. My check was $11.70. Service wasn’t bad. I’d like to try Karray’s for breakfast.

Junction Restaurant, Pagosa Springs, CO

24 November 2010

Junction Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I have been to Pagosa Springs many, many times, starting with my good friends Jamie and David back in 1985. We drove into town right past the Junction. They had a sign out front, and on a portable sign under that one had the words “Taxidermy”. We laughed a lot at that, and then stopped for an excellent dinner. I’ve eaten at the Junction every time I have been in Pagosa since, with one exception (we came through around 1000 a couple of years ago coming home from a TDY/Vacation, and kept going).

So we got into Pagosa late this afternoon, and stopped there after we had picked up our rental skis. It was pretty darn good, as always.

Raegan was not terribly hungry, so she got a bowl of chicken noodle soup and said it was good.

Ian got a cheeseburger. I tried it, and while it was very good, I wish he would get other things.

Erin got a grilled cheese, and ate every scrap.

I got a chopped sirloin with sauteed onions and mushrooms on top. It came with a baked potato that could have spent a touch longer in the oven. The chop was perfect, medium well just like I asked.

The tea was plentiful and kept refilled. Raegan and I also got peach cobbler, but the server couldn’t seem to get it heated up in spite of us asking about three times.

We got there around 1800, and there were two other tables occupied – both of those left within minutes of our arrival (I don’t think there was a cause and effect 🙂 ). We left around 1915. Our check was $41.26. Service was OK.

We plan on keeping going here.

Tortilla Flats, Santa Fe, NM

24 November 2010

Tortilla Flats on Urbanspoon

We picked this place pretty much at random. We had just been at the Wal-Mart down the road to buy some ski stuff. We were hungry, and wanted some local flavor, so we turned into Tortilla Flats.

We got there around 1200 and were seated immediately. We didn’t get a drink order taken for about 5 min, and didn’t get a visit from a server for about another 10 minutes. Recurring theme warning: service here was not very timely. Nothing was messed up, it just took a while to get stuff. The restaurant was about 50% full when we got there.

We got some chips and salsa to start. Chips were a bit thick but were tasty. The salsa – that stuff was stout! We got two decent sized cups of the stuff. I ate one by myself, both with chips and on my burrito. I was sweating in short order. It was some of the hottest salsa I have had.

When we finally got to order, I got a ground beef burrito. It came with some lettuce on the side, and two (2) cubes of tomato. I asked for a side order of pinto beans, and dumped them on. This came with red and green chili on the side. I tried the red – it was smooth and tasty and wasn’t very spicy (nothing at all like the salsa), but the green was another thing altogether. You could have powered the space shuttle with that stuff. It was so hot that a little staying on the tongue burning for a couple minutes. Tea didn’t help, but some food did (I suppose it scraped the oils away). That burrito was excellent.

Raegan got a pair of chicken enchiladas. They were really good. They came with stuff like beans and rice. Why the the burrito didn’t come with beans and rice, I don’t know.

Erin got a beef taco plate that came with three tacos. She got two of them down, and I ate the last.

Ian got chicken fajitas. They were OK. The chicken had a slight citrus/lime taste that I think can be very good with fajitas.

We were given some huge sopapillas for dessert. We ate three of them and brought two with us.

Every single thing we asked for resulted in a charge – the pintos (understandable), but some extra jack cheese, some sour cream, and something else.

The tea was good, but mine ran out three times. It took about 10 min to get our check, then another 10 min to get the credit card receipt back. Slow.

We left about 1330. The place was only about 10% full. Our check was $54.36. The food was good, but the service was slooooow overall.

Colby’s Grill, Edmond, OK

12 November 2010

Colby's Grill on Urbanspoon

I was cruising up Broadway Extension yesterday and starting to get hungry. I drove past Colby’s and decided to give it a try. They are open for breakfast and lunch only, until 1430. I know they are open Monday-Friday, but don’t remember about Saturday and Sunday.

There were a few people there at 1330. The iced tea was excellent.

I got a chicken fried steak. It was breaded in a very fine breading, like mainly flour. The need was 100% fork tender. It was not the most flavorful need I have had, but it also far from tasteless. I rated it an 8.5 out of 10. The CFS came with kernal corn (average), green beans (with bacon, very good), and mashers (also very good, and clearly hastily made from baked potatoes). The gravy was average, and there was not much of it since it was near the end of the work day.

I also got some vegetable need stew. That was some very tasty stew. The broth was wonderful. It did need a bit more beef in it. The potatoes and carrots were great.

Service was great. All-in-all, a good cafe experience. My check was $9.68.

Boulevard Cafeteria, Oklahoma City, OK

8 November 2010

Last Sunday afternoon, we were in downtown for Ballet Oklahoma. We got our tickets from the Will Call, and needed lunch.

We sort of randomly drove up Walker, found a couple places closed, and then though we would hit the Irma’s there. But… in back of Irma’s was Boulevard Cafeteria. Raegan said that someone had told her it was good, so we gave it a try.

There wasn’t any line when we showed at 1300. One thing that struck both of us, Boulevard is straight out of the late 60s and 70s. The decor, the mode of service, the types of food, all transported right out of our childhood.

Raegan and Erin both got baked salmon with some sides, and both liked it a lot. Ian got fried chicken, but didn’t like it. Raegan and I both tried a piece and thought it was good. He ate all the chicken, and some of her salmon, and all the veg he selected, though. I got beef tips over rice, and it was darn good! I had some decent green beans and corn also.

I topped the meal off with a slice of custard pie. The iced tea was good, and the service was surprisingly good.

I cannot find our check, but I think it was on the order of $45. You could do a lot worse than hit this place.

Boulevard Cafeteria on Urbanspoon

Diner, Norman, OK

6 November 2010

Diner on Urbanspoon


I had this place recommended by a friend some time ago, but I don’t get to Norman very often. Yes, it is called “Diner”, not “The Diner” or anything like that. It as been on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” also. It’s right in downtown Norman.

I got there about 1300 today. Every table was full, but I sat at the counter immediately. This was cool as I could watch the cooks do their thing. There were some really, really, really good looking burgers cooking there; my nose was driving me crazy, they smelled so good! On the same grill, there were pancakes, hash browns, skin-on red potatoes, eggs, bacon, and sausage, and… tamales cooking (I’m just about drooling just thinking about that again). (Wipes laptop LCD and keyboard down)

I ordered tea and a bowl of chili. The tea was OK. The chili was fairly fine, no big chunks of things, but all meat! No beans there. There was a taste of onion, and maybe just a bit of black pepper, and of course chili pepper. The chili left a fine bead of sweat on my forehead, but it didn’t set the tongue on fire or anything like that. It was hot as it could be from the pot, though.

Damn, those burgers smelled good. I need to go back there.

I left at about 1330. My check was $8.23. Be warned – they do not take credit cards! They close at 1400 most days, closed all day Sunday. I could really like this place.

Charleston’s, Edmond, OK

6 November 2010

Charleston's (Edmond) on Urbanspoon

Charleston’s used to be one of our favorite restaurants, especially after the Interurban restaurants started getting weird. There was a location on NWX just west of MacArthur that we spend a lot of money at. They have the best creamy garlic salad dressing I have every had. They also used to make on the best ribeyes around, but stopped having them on the menu (no explanation ever given). The cost of the meal also went up quite a bit, so we don’t often go.

We did go last Thursday. We got there around 1715, and left around 1900.

R2 got soup and salad. It was good, but there was a LOT of salad. The baked potato soup was excellent. Ian got chicken fingers. They were OK, he didn’t leave any. Erin got mac and cheese (a side note, she was kind of surprised that they were long noodles and not what comes out of the Kraft box). I got a roast chicken (a 1/2 bird) that was excellent. The tea was really good, and the service was also.

Our check was $65.47. That’s kind of high, I think, even with a bowl of soup. The food was good, though. We will go back every once in a while.

Logan’s Roadhouse, Midwest City, OK

6 November 2010

Logan's Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

One of the first Logan’s opened in Edmond back in 1995 or so. It was pretty darn good, I thought. It was always crowded. But after a couple years, the name changed to Santa Fe Steakhouse, and they took away the very good caesar salad and the ribeye (at a steakhouse?). The quality also dropped. After a couple years, a couple other Santa Fe Steakhouses opened. The story we got was that the Logan’s franchise holder sold those rights, bought the buildings, and opened the Santa Fes.

Anyway, the Logan’s in Midwest City opened a couple months ago. I’ve wanted to try it.

Last Tuesday, for various reasons, I wanted soup. I remembered that Logan’s had had good soup, so I decided to try. I got in and got seated immediately, and ordered a bowl of baked potato soup and tea. Some white rolls were also served, they were pretty good. The soup was excellent! Hot, and had just a bit of pepper in it, and perfectly cooked potatoes, some bacon, and all in a heavy cream. The tea was also good. Service was outstanding. My check… $4.30. I was also in and out in less than 25 minutes, so I could get back to work.

Last night, I offered up Logan’s as an option for the family to have dinner out, and off we headed.

Ian got the cheeseburger. It was an excellent cheeseburger, with a good crust and great flavor. Raegan got a half rack of baby back ribs. They tasted like they had actually had some smoking done, a good thing. She couldn’t eat but half, so gave the rest to Ian, who wolfed them down. Erin got the mac and cheese, and ate every bite. I ordered a 16 oz ribeye with sides of mac and cheese and sauteed mushrooms. The sides were good, but the steak was the star. I got it medium as usual, and that’s the way it came. Very little charring. That steak was mostly fork tender and had a lot of flavor. There was not a hint of peppering or other flavor enhancers. An excellent meal overall. The tea was good, and all the drinks were kept refilled.

We got there around 1900 and had about a 15 minute wait for a table. Service was pretty good given that the place was packed. We left around 2015. Our check was $58.11, which I think is tremendous value. I will gladly go back.

Bandana Red’s Grill, Choctaw, OK

6 November 2010

OK, after the election “ack” as worn off, back to blogging in catch-up mode.

Yesterday, a work friend recommended Red’s for lunch. It was about a 15 minute drive from Tinker. It is on 29th two miles east of Anderson Road. We got there about 1150 and were seated after a couple minutes. There were five of us. The restaurant was about 1/3 full, but all the tables that could seat all five of us were taken so they opened up the back room.

One of the reasons we went there was the reputation of the fried catfish. Mr. Ron got it and declared it excellent.

I ordered a chicken fried steak, which comes with *three* sides. I got mashers, corn, and pinto beans. The sides were all very good. The start of the show was the CFS! It was pretty large, clearly hand breaded right there, and deep fried. The breading was good, not too sweet, and not burned. The beef was really good, tender (fork tender, even, for the vast majority), and had really good flavor. It was not of uniform thickness, which again tells me that it’s not machine made. The gravy was not the best I have had, but it was also far from the worst. That CFS was about a 9.5 out of 10. The iced tea was great, and was kept refilled.

We left about 1245. Service was outstanding. My check was $10.74. I would go back anytime.

In-N-Out Burgers, Or Really, Cheeseburgers

26 October 2010

I love cheeseburgers. A good cheeseburger is a meal unto itself. I like them to have thick meat and thin buns, and I don’t like a lot of veggies piled up. The meat needs to be juicy without being greasy or dripping. It needs to be medium well, and it needs to have a nice crust from being grilled. You don’t usually get a good cheeseburger from one of the flat stainless steel cooking surfaces (I think they have to be turned up pretty high). I like a bit of mayo or mustard on my burgers; ketchup just does not cut it (which attitude drives my son nuts, since ketchup is what makes his life worth living sometimes… 🙂 ). I like some dill pickles every once in a while. Lettuce is good, too. I like the shredded type best. I half pounder is best. The beef you use also has a lot to do with it.

The Sonic chain used to have very good burgers, but over the past three or so years, the quality has dropped off. As an example, the location that used to be at Kelley and 63rd in OKC used to make outstanding burgers. The location moved to MLK just south of the big theater there, but the quality of the burgers dropped significantly, to the point I will not eat there any more.

Braums used to have uniformly very good burgers, but many locations are not very good any more. There is one on 71st and Elm in Broken Arrow that is outstanding. The 63rd and Bryant location in OKC is also very good, as is the location at May and 61st.

The Ron’s chainlet in OKC is also excellent.

I do not usually consider the big chains. I won’t usually eat at a McDonalds anymore except when I need a quick breakfast. There are some decent ones. The over-I-44 location near Vinita, OK is excellent. BK is terrible uniformly. The Five Guys chainlet is excellent.

All that being said, I have heard that In-N-Out is simply the best burgers around. My very cute but not fully cheeseburger appreciating roommate says that we ate at an In-N-Out sometime in the past couple years, but I can’t remember where. So this evening, I decided that since I was not terribly hungry, I would try one. I chose the location at I-5 and Damon Avenue in Pacific Beach, CA (a suburb of San Diego) simply because it was the closest location to my hotel in La Jolla.

I got there around 1820, and the place was hopping! There were lots of people going through the drive-through, and standing in the parking lot, and sitting at the tables outside. The inside was about 70% full. I ordered a Double-Double (double meat and double cheese, reported on the web to be four ounces, or a quarter-pound). The burger came with “spread”, which was a variety of Thousand Island dressing. I was asked if I wanted onions, I said no, but there were also tomatoes, pickles, and a leaf of lettuce.

The burger and bun and veggies were pretty darn good. The meat had a good crust, and was very juicy without being greasy. It seemed small, if it was a quarter pound, it must have cooked down a LOT.

The fries were good, crispy and light. The tea was fresh brewed, but tasted a bit funny. I don’t know what brand of iced tea they brew from, but it had an odd taste. There is also a self-serve soda.

I left around 1910. My check was $6.69. The burger? It was pretty darn good. I would choose it over any of the other burger chains like BK, or even Sonic. It was pretty darn close to Five Guys, and pretty darn close to Ron’s. The price was pretty good, too.

I’m looking forward to my next one!

Palominos Mexican and Seafood Restaurant, San Diego, CA

26 October 2010

Palominos Mexican & Sea Food on Urbanspoon

A coworker and I chose this restaurant for lunch more or less at random as we drove by today. We got there around 1145, and left around 1220. The restaurant was about 75% full the entire time.

I ordered the #2, which was two enchiladas (cheese, chicken, or beef), and a drink. It also happens to be the Monday special. I ordered my enchiladas as one chicken and one beef, although they came as both beef.

The enchiladas were… OK at best. They came in corn tortillas, which were pretty tough, and dry. The beef didn’t have a lot of taste. The plate also had a bunch of chunked-up tomatoes and onions and lettuce, and then there were refried beans and rice on the plate. It was quite a lot of food, and made for a heck of a mess on the plate. There were free chips and a number of salsas on a serve yourself.

There was no tea, but they had serve yourself soda.

My check was $8.16. I don’t know that I would go back.

Dick Clark’s Bandstand, Salt Lake City Airport, Salt Lake City, UT

25 October 2010

Dick Clark's American Bandstand Grill on Urbanspoon

I had a 3.5 hour layover at SLC Sunday morning, and needed breakfast. My coworker Mark and I selected this place mainly because you could sit down for a while. We got there at 0815, and left about 0905. The Bandstand serves the full menu in addition to the breakfast items. There are a lot of photos on the walls from the Bandstand TV show (one of the best was the young Osmonds (except Marie, too bad!) in wild costumes).

Not a good start – the tea was concentrate, and was terrible. I switched to water.

I got a sirloin steak with eggs and potatoes. The steak was very small, about four oz. It was cooked a good medium, but it could have been more tender. The steak had good flavor, and wasn’t peppered up like a lot of places do to add “flavor”. The eggs were over easy as requested, and the potatoes were pretty standard. You also get a couple half slices of toast. All was good enough that I didn’t leave a scrap.

My check was $14.32. For the amount of food, and the quality, and the fact that it’s in an airport, not bad. Except for the (alleged) iced tea. Service was OK, could have been better.

Chicken Pie Diner, Poway, CA

25 October 2010

Chicken Pie Diner on Urbanspoon

After my Iron Mountain hike, I was hungry! I missed my turn onto Ted Williams Parkway, and cut back on Pomerado since I knew it crossed TW. I happened to notice the bright yellow sign for the Chicken Pie Diner, so had to check it out. The Diner is in a strip shopping center, in a small area. There are no more than 15 tables, and a counter. I got there about 1815; there were six tables occupied.

I got the house specialty, the chicken pie, as an ala carte item. It was about 4-5 in in diameter. The interior is chicken and gravy, and there are some carrots and peas on top of the pie, with some more gravy. The pie shell was good and flaky. The peas on top were what I call “big green industrial peas”, were kind of a lurid green, and were not fully cooked. The carrots were OK. The gravy was good. The chicken in the pie was kind of stringy and just a bit tough. Overall, the pie was… OK.

I also got a side chili. The chili was about 50% beef and 50% beans. The flavor was OK, but there was zero heat in the chili.

I had tea, and it was good, although it was served in a metal milkshake shaker.

The service was pretty good. I would not mind eating here again, but I would try something else. I left at 1900, and there were four other tables occupied. My check was $11.39.

Pappasito’s Cantina, Richardson, TX

14 October 2010

Pappasito's Cantina on Urbanspoon

I have eaten at this restaurant numerous times, but not in five or so years. We decided to go here for lunch today, in a group of nine.

We were seated in about five minutes (they needed to push a couple tables together) when we arrived around 1135.

We had our drink orders taken quickly and the drinks arrived quickly (and were kept refilled). I ordered two chili con queso with some beef added. They were a bit small, but were good. The chips were also good, very thin and hot.

I ordered a three-enchilada combo, two with beef and one with chicken. These were pretty darn good; the chicken was best, it had a great flavor. It was a lot of food, and I should have had the two-enchilada combo.

We left at 1300. My check was $31.55 (yes, expensive, but the two quesos I bought for the group was $13.80 of that). Service was excellent.

Scotty P’s, Plano, TX

14 October 2010

Scotty P's Hamburgers (Plano) on Urbanspoon

We had Scotty P’s recommended to us as an excellent cheeseburger place, so three of us went there after work this evening. We went to the location on Parker.

I got a Harrington (apparently, the different locations name certain burgers differently, probably reflecting local flavor). The Harrington is a cheeseburger, with mayo, lettuce and tomato. It’s a third pound. I got a double meat, so it was a 2/3 pound, which was frankly too much cheeseburger; the burger was not overflowing with beef flavor. The burger was a bit too dry, being cooked more well done instead of the default medium well. It came as a platter, with some OK fries.

You can ask to have the cheese pre-melted here for the burger. Interesting concept.

The iced tea was OK, and serve yourself. My buddy Ron bought dinner before I could, but my meal was about $10. I would eat here again, but I would ask them to be sure not to overcook the burger.

Austin’s Grill, Holiday Inn, Richardson, TX

13 October 2010

This restaurant is in the Holiday Inn in Richardson, TX. I have eaten in Austin’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner many times over the past 20 years, but not for the last 10 or so. This evening a couple co-workers and I decided to have dinner here.

I got a New York strip. The steak had pretty darn good flavor, but it was a touch overcooked. I had asked for it medium, but it came to the table right on the edge of medium well – there was little pink or light color in the steak. It came with two sides, and I got a double order of roasted potatoes. These were OK, if bland. The potatoes needed some onion or herbs of some sort. They were also a touch overcooked. I got iced tea, and it was good.

Service was… OK. One thing that I remember over the years is that service has not been a priority here, and it wasn’t again this evening. We had a longish wait for drinks, and then another for the order to be taken. I ran out of tea twice. In this entire restaurant, there were four tables occupied at the peak time. The food arrived in a timely manner.

We arrived at 1800, and left at 1900. My check was $21.11. We will see how they do for breakfast tomorrow morning.

Billy Sims BBQ, Edmond, OK

12 October 2010

This was a great BBQ place! I had heard of this restaurant in the Oklahoma Gazette, and it showed up on Google Maps, so we gave it a try. We ate there last Saturday.

Ian ordered a half rack of pork ribs – real short ribs. I looked at them, and upgraded his order a a full rack. They were GREAT! I think these were some of the best ribs I have had this side of JTs. I graded them 9.5 on a scale of 1 to JTs. They didn’t have the same full, smoke flavor that JTs ribs have, but they had a nice red-brown crust, and they were tender and just juicy enough. They were also well populated with meat. Great stuff!

Raegan got a chicken caesar salad. It came with a packet of Ken’s caesor dressing, which was pretty good. The smoked chicken on top of it was excellent.

Erin got a frito chili pie. The chili was very good, even with a couple beans in it.

I got a two-meat dinner with chicken and brisket. The chicken was perfect, juicy (not dry in the slightest), and tasty. The brisket was moist and tender, and had a lot of beef flavor. My sides were BBQ beans (good) and green beans (OK).

The manager came around and asked if all was OK. We told him it was, and when he found out it was our first time, he recommended getting turkey the next time, and brought us a slice. It was also excellent – and will be ordered next time. Great stuff.

Tea was good and refill-yourself.

We got there around 1820, and two tables were occupied. We left around 1920, and three tables were occupied. This was a superior BBQ experience, I recommend it. Our check was $47.99.

As a side note, we were driving through Midwest City Sunday morning, and drove past another Billy Sims BBQ! It was either just opened (south of 15th on Air Depot) or is close to opening. This location is way too close to the office!

Sir Vesa’s Mexican Grill, El Dorado Hills, CA

12 October 2010

Sir Vesa Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

A couple of us went here for dinner after a day of meetings nearby. We had previously eaten in this restaurant when it was a different name several years ago.

We got there around 1745 and were immediately seated. The place had maybe three tables occupied.

The chips and salsa were both good, the chips thin and crunchy, and the salsa medium hot and not too thin. I got a two-enchilada dinner, with rice and beans. The enchiladas were one ground beef and one chicken, both covered with chili con carne. It was a good pair of enchiladas, and they were hot from the oven. I got iced tea and it was good, if a little slow in getting refilled.

We left around 1850, and the place was almost empty. Service was spotty. My check was $13.22, I would eat here again, as long as I was not in a hurry.

FWIW, I made this blog post from a car traveling down I-35, via my Blackberry, which was tethered to the computer via USB. Pretty coo.

Fat’s Asia Bistro, Folsom, CA

12 October 2010

Fat's Asian Bistro and Dim Sum Bar on Urbanspoon

Fat’s was recommended to us by one of the employees of the company we were working at in El Dorado Hills. We went there for dinner last Thursday evening. We got there around 1750, and left around 2000. The place was uncrowded when we got there, and when we left.

Fat’s is sort of family style. You order your meal, and it all gets put on a Lazy Susan to be shared.

I got Genghis Beef, which is sort of like broccoli beef, with some onions and green peppers thrown in (which I had removed when I ordered). There were other meals with jalapenos in them (which I do not believe are grown in China, or for that matter anywhere in Asia). I “upgraded” my rice to chicken fried rice (from either white or brown), and was glad – it was good, but it was $9 (!). Kind of expensive for $0.75 of ingredients.

The iced tea was OK, and one of the two problems here was that the restaurant ran out at some point and had to make some more; the other was that the tea was slightly fruity tasting.

My check was $29.31 – pretty expensive. The service was so-so. The meal was tasty if not terribly large portions. I’d go back again, but only with a group.

Nomad II, Oklahoma City, OK

12 October 2010

Nomad II on Urbanspoon

Raegan and I ate at the Nomad a long time ago after we had just met. I don’t remember anything about the food one way or the other. We’ve driven past this restaurant on May avenue approximately 1 billion times since.

So Friday, after we dropped Erin off for a craft party, she and I and Ian decided to try it. Rather, Raegan and I decided, with a cranky Ian in tow.

We got there around 1800 and the place was already about 75% full.

Ian ordered fried chicken. It came with veg a salad. He got a Caesar salad, and thought it had an odd taste, which it did, but it was not a bad taste. He didn’t like the chicken. It came with a bowl of gravy that was excellent. Raegan and I both tried the chicken and gravy, and it was good stuff, as good at the chicken I had at Jim’s a couple weeks ago.

Raegan got chicken parmesan and liked it, so did I. The marinara was very good.

I got chicken marsala, and would get it again, it was very good. I had a side of spaghetti and marinara, and it complemented the meal well.

The iced tea was good, and the service decent.

We left around 1900, and the place was about 90% full. Our check was $63.83. A little on the expensive side for three, but probably on the list to visit again.

Jim’s Fried Chicken, Spencer, OK

29 September 2010

Jim's Fried Chicken on Urbanspoon

I love to eat fried chicken. Relatively few restaurants serve it, and fewer do a great job of it.

I had heard of Jim’s occasionally over the years. They are open odd hours: 1000 to 2100 Monday- Thursday, and are in Spencer on 23rd St.

I suggested Jim’s for lunch today to a co-worker, and by the time we were done we had ten people going.

We got there about 1130, and there was one table occupied. We left at 1215, and there were two tables occupied.

I ordered the three-piece lunch meal, all light. They brought me a mixed meal, and quickly brought another breast piece without my having to ask.

The chicken wa perfect, with a thin skin that was golden and just the right amount of crunchy. There was no grease, yet the chicken was juicy and had great flavor.

The meal came with a smallish mashers and gravy – the gravy was poultry gravy! Both were good. It also came with cole slaw. It was creamy, and had just a little bite that another co-worker identified as horseradish. That might be the first time I can identify food and horseradish as “good” at the same time.

I got an iced tea that had just a touch of bitter flavor to it. I think it was cheap tea rather than coffee flavor left behind.

We were able to order quickly, and got the food quickly. It was excellent fried chicken. My check was $8.19, which I think was very reasonable. Jim’s will be added to the lunch rotation, even though it is a bit of a drive from work.

Roma’s Italian Restaurant, Guthrie, OK

26 September 2010

Roma's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

This is a catch-up post for me. A couple weeks ago, we picked up Erin after a Girl Scout HAT adventure that ended up at the wakeboarding place just off I-35 south of Guthrie. We took a little driving tour of Guthrie, and ran across Roma’s.

It was very good! I had chicken marsala. It was good, but a little… different, in a way I couldn’t quite pin down. Raegan had chicken parmesan, and it was excellent! Ian had fettucine alfredo, and again it was excellent. Erin got a cheese pizza, that was HUGE. She couldn’t begin to finish it.

We got there on a Sunday afternoon around 1400, there was one other table occupied. We left around 1500, and there were two other tables occupied. The iced tea was good, and service was pretty frequent.

I can’t find the receipt, but I think our check was around $45. This was a good experience, and I would eat there again.

Mom’s Cafe, Plattsmouth, NE

25 September 2010

Mom's Cafe & Catering on Urbanspoon

A friend and I were driving back to Oklahoma City after a weeks work in the Omaha area, and it was lunch time, so we picked Mom’s out from a billboard on US-75. Mom’s is in downtown Plattsmouth.

We got there about 1130; the place was about 25% full, We left about 1230; the place was about 2/3 full. It took a couple minutes to get first service.

It was not a good start, my iced tea tasted terrible. I switched to Coke, which was OK.

I ordered the chicken fried steak, which the menu said was their most popular item. It came with mashers and a veg, green beans in this case. The CFS was pretty darn good – it was clearly hand breaded, the breading was not too thick, and it was not too sweet. The meat had good beef flavor, and was mostly tender (there were a couple places I had to use the knife). The veg (green beans) and mashers were pretty good, and the gravy was REALLY good.

Ron got the fish special for the day, and said that it was really good, but there was a LOT of it.

We both decided that we would have no problems at all eating here again. My check was $10 .14. They do not have wifi.

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, Richardson, TX

24 September 2010

Fuzzy's Taco Shop on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here yesterday with two friends, as it is near their company. We got there around 1150, and it was almost full.

I got a Combo Plate, which is one taco (soft or hard shell) and an enchilada. I got ground beef for both of mine, and soft for the taco. The plate came with two sides, I got refried beans and “Latin Fried Potatoes”, which seemed a lot like my Gringo Fried Potatoes. I liked the enchilada, which was kind of small. The beans and potatoes were good also. I was not a big fan of the soft taco – there was something missing there, it seemed dry or something, even when I added queso and salsa to it.

Speaking of which – I ordered queso and chips and salsa for appetizers. Clark also got chips and salsa. The amounts were HUGE, it was far more than the three of us could eat. The chips were dusted with a red powder (I think paprika), and the queso had pico de gallo spooned in. The queso was more white cheese than yellow. Both were good, but I think one order of both/each for a group of four would be fine. The salsa was a bit spicier than most places, and so was very good.

We left around 1240, and it was packed! Fuzzy’s is loud inside when there are lots of people there. My check was $10.14.

We were at the Richardson, TX location. I did not know, but realized when I looked at their website just now, that Fuzzy’s is a chainlet around the MetroPlex, and that they are opening stores in north Texas, Norman, and… Madison, WI (kind of a leap, I think). I would not mind going back again.

Mama Roja Mexican Kitchen, Oklahoma City, OK

11 September 2010

Mama Roja on Urbanspoon

This is one of the newer restaurants on the Lake Hefner waterfront east shore. Our good friend Jackie suggested it, and it was a darn good idea.

We got there this evening at 1730, and were immediately seated. I was surprised that we were seated so quickly, as we had seven, and the place was pretty crowded!

We had read reviews of Mama Rojas on the way over, and one review complained that queso was not served free with the meal. Not so for us, we had small bowls of queso and salsa for each seat. And it was GREAT! I think it was the best queso I have had, at a minimum, in the top five. There was a taste of something in there, a smoky flavor that I found irresistible. The salsa was pretty darn good also. It was a little thicker than a lot of restaurant salsa, and had just the right heat. I mixed a good spoonful of the salsa into the queso, wonderful! The chips were really good also, thin and fresh fried, with a slight sprinkling of salt. Great starters.

I got two enchiladas, one with chicken and one with ground beef, both covered with chili con carne. It came with some spanish rice and some pinto beans that had small ground sausage cooked in, pretty good (you can also get plain pintos or refried). The enchiladas were very good, as good as you could get at any good Tex-Mex place.

Raegan liked her sour cream chicken enchiladas, but they were too big for her appetite.

Jackie and Jack shared ground beef nachos, and like them.

Ian had chicken quesadillas and didn’t complain about them, so I guess they were good.

Livy had a hard taco and Erin had a soft taco. Both disappeared in less time than it takes to type this sentence, it seems.

The tea and Coke were good, although the tea started off a bit weak.

I think the prices were comparable to other place around town, although I think the entree portions were a bit smaller than, say, Ted’s.

When we left at 1825, the place was full and rocking! This was good, and the prices were reasonable, so I think we ought to eat there more. Of course, I could get addicted to that queso! Service was pretty good in spite of how busy the place was.

Saturn Grill, Nichols Hills, OK

28 August 2010

Saturn Grill on Urbanspoon

We’ve heard good things about Saturn Grill for years, and last night, we were in the area so we decided to check it out.

We got there around 1800, and left about 1850. The place was about 25% full when we got there, and about 80% full when we left.

Erin got a cheese pizza. She ate all of it but the crust, and said it was good. The kids pizza included a fruit or cookie, but they forgot to give it so Erin got it later.

Raegan got a West Coast Club, with turkey. It was good, but she brought half home. The meal came with home-made dill pickles that she liked (I tried one of mine, it was OK, but I’m not a huge pickle person).

I got a Spicy Steak Sandwich. The ingredients were posted on the menu and included meat and onions. The sandwich came with a bonus: chopped bell peppers! Yuck. They were biggish pieces, and I fished them out (one comment to restaurant people: if you put something on a sandwich, you need to disclose it up front so that customers can ask that it be not included with the meal). The sandwich was pretty spicy, from what I think was black pepper. The sandwich was on flatbread, kind of a puffy pita bread.

The tea was China Mist. I am not liking China Mist as time goes on. It has a funny taste.

We all got cookies. The peanut butter cookies I got were OK, but didn’t have a lot of flavor.

Our check was $30.73.

Trosper Park Golf Course Snack Bar, Oklahoma City, OK

28 August 2010

Trosper Park Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I got the chance to eat at this snack bar yesterday before playing golf. I ordered at 1137 and got it at 1155.

I got a double-meat cheeseburger and a large iced tea (free refills!). The burger was perfect, with great flavor and an excellent crust on the meat, and just juicy enough to require a napkin between bites. The bun was even good! These come with lettuce and tomato (which I asked not be added), and then you add your dressing from a nearby area (I put on some real mayo). I didn’t get fries, which was good since they would have been too much.

The tea was a bit coffee-flavored, which I let the staff know about. I ended up putting about a half packet of sugar in and that masked the coffee flavor mostly.

So this was a good burger, and fast, and far better than anything you would get at McD. The cost was $7.04 (might seem high, but it was a double). Great stuff.

Austin Grill, Washington, DC

25 August 2010

Austin Grill on Urbanspoon

This is another I-found-the-receipt-in-my-bag so it’s sort of late posts…

It was 07 July. We had visited the National Archives and were looking for a place to eat. We literally walked past Austin Grill and decided to try it.

We got there about 1815, and the place was only 15% full.

We got chips and salsa at the start of the meal. It was tasty, not spicy, and very thin. We ordered a bowl of queso, and none of us liked it. It was some sort of melted velveeta. We also got some nachos, and they were terrible. They were covered in the queso, and had embedded jalapenos and some other unidentifiable stuff. Not good at all.

I got steak carne asada. I had never had carne asada, but I liked it. It was applied to a skirt steak (like you would use for fajitas), and it was pretty good, with a good spice heat to it.

Ian got chicken fajitas, without bell peppers or onions. The chicken was very good, and if he had included the onions, it would have been outstanding. Darn teenagers.

Erin got cheese quesadillas and liked them very much. Hard to go wrong with cheese and tortillas.

Raegan got chicken quesadilla and they were good also. I know this since I had some!

We all ended up getting some desserts. Ian and I got vanilla bean ice cream, Raegan had cake, and Erin had a brownie.

We left about 1930. Our check was $85.17. Kind of expensive, but it was DC, after all. Was it worth it? If I were in OKC, I’d say no way. Being that it was DC, I’d have to say it was OK. Not getting the crummy appetizers would have knocked $12 off the bill, and the desserts added about $25, that would have priced the meal at about $50, which would have been reasonable.

Richard’s, Fresno, CA

25 August 2010

Richard's Prime Rib and Seafood on Urbanspoon

Last Thursday, I headed back in to meet my buddy James for dinner in Fresno after spending the day hiking in King’s Canyon National Park. He suggested Richard’s. We got there about 1915.

The meal started with iced tea that was good and kept refilled. The salad was good, and the ranch dressing was excellent. The meal also comes with a shrimp cocktail appetizer; I didn’t like it very much as the shrimp was really fishy tasting.

I ordered a ribeye (this must have been by reflex, since I wanted a t-bone!). The steak came with some sauteed mushrooms that were very good, and that steak was cooked a perfect medium. It was fork tender, and had great flavor. Not a scrap was left. The steak also came with a baked potato which was a bit small, but the steak made up for it.

We left about 2045. My check was $27.35.

Max and Erma’s, Dublin, OH

25 August 2010

Max & Erma's on Urbanspoon

In summary: Meh.

This is a catch-up post since I found the receipt in the depths of my travel bag a couple days ago.

We had visited the Columbus area to see a kiwi at the Columbus Zoo. I was dreading the drive on to Pittsburgh, and saw an Embassy Suites, and while arranging to spend the night there, decided to eat at the Max and Erma’s, which was right down the street.

We got there around 1920. The place was not even 20% full. I got fajitas that were, OK. The chicken was charred, and there were a lot more onions than chicken. Ian got chicken strips and Erin got a pizza. I do not remember what Raegan got.

The tea was not good, it had strong coffee taste. I switched to Coke.

The meal was, obviously, forgettable. We left at 2035. Our check was $66.21. Service was good.

Relish Burger Bar, El Dorado Hills, CA

25 August 2010

Relish Burger Bar on Urbanspoon

We broke for lunch after a morning of meetings at a nearby business, and were looking for a fairly quick meal, so I remembered Relish from driving past it a bunch of times. A group of six of us ate here 18 Aug.

The main inside part of the restaurant was fairly crowded, so we were seated around a table that had a couple big market umbrellas over it. The temperature was not too hot, and there was a bit of breeze, so it was comfortable.

I got the Angus 1/2 lb burger, medium well, with American cheese. The burger came with a horseradish-based sauce (that the server volunteered came on the burger, but I got it on the side), I tasted it and it was, well, horrible, but I am not a fan of horseradish. The burger came with lettuce and pickles and stuff on the side. I gave the tomatoes away and put the rest of the stuff on the burger. The burger was OK. The beef did not have much taste to it, good or bad. The bun was good, for white bread. The meal came with fries that were not very good. I saw some onion rings (on the way OUT…) that looked very good, and will get those next time, if there is one.

I got iced tea, and it was a little weak. It was also not easy to keep filled up.

We got there about 1230 and left about 1320. My check was $11.59. I don’t know that it was worth it.

The County Line, San Antonio, TX

25 August 2010

The County Line BBQ on Urbanspoon

I started off this evening not terribly hungry, and very sweaty after my hike. A quick shower left me hungry, so I drove out to find something close and fast.

I drove past The County Line and thought I would check it out. It’s decor is an old saloon. Now, there is a County Line in Oklahoma City, and I thought from the different decor that they were not related. After checking the website, turns out they are the same place. Another location that I have eaten in is at Austin, with friends Jamie and Jim.

So since I had BBQ for lunch yesterday, I thought I would get a steak. I settled on a chicken fried steak. It was excellent! The basic CFS is $9.99, and the large is $12.99 (the large is TWO of the basic CFSs!). The CFS was mostly fork tender, but I had to cut through a couple tough places. There were also a couple voids in the breading, but not too big. The breading was not too sweet like it is a lot. I did have to ask for extra gravy. The gravy was interesting. It had some garlic in it, but you could also taste the flour, so it was made locally.

The meal came with two sides. I got mac and cheese, and it was cheesy and yummy, Erin would have approved. I also got pinto beans, and they were pretty basic. One thing about the sides – they were in a big soup cup.

I got iced tea – it came in a big plastic glass and was kept aggressively refilled.

I got there about 1810 and left about 1848. They have wifi (it’s WPA, the key is “Barbeque”). Service was good. The place was probably 50% filled the entire time I was there. My check was $12.95.

Taqueria Mexico, San Antonio, TX

25 August 2010

Taqueria Mexico on Urbanspoon

One funny thing. I looked this restaurant up on Google, and got a hit for the website; it belongs to a place in Waltham, MA.

We ate here for lunch on the recommendation of the local folks that we were meeting with. It was good! We were recommended to get one of the lunch specials. I didn’t see any of those that are one of my regular tex-mex meals, except for chicken fajitas, so instead I got flautas. I’ve never had those before. They are corn tortillas wrapped around (in this case) ground beef (chicken is also available). They were OK, but were a little crunchy on the ends. I asked for some chili con carne to dump on them, and the server said “you mean gravy?”. HOT DAMN, I could say YES with confidence, and sure enough, I got some chili gravy shortly thereafter, which I promptly dumped all over the flautas. The meal came with a bed of lettuce and tomato chunks (yes, R2, I ate all of them), beans, and orange rice. It was all very good, and was not a huge amount of food.

The meal started with a salsa that was hot. Literally heated up and steaming. It was fairly spicy as well. It was a bit thinner than I like, but the taste was great. The chips were pretty standard. I got iced tea, and it was good and strong and kept refilled.

Service was excellent. We had a group of eight, and got 15% force-added for a tip. The service was good, though, and I left some extra. My check was $8.62, a good value for the taste and portion size. We got there about 1115 and were out at 1215.

Jacala Mexican Restaurant, San Antonio, TX

24 August 2010

Jacala Mexican on Urbanspoon

A co-worker mentioned several times over the past couple years how much she enjoyed “chili gravy”. Now, that’s a combination of two of my favorite words, so I of course asked what it was, and was informed it was kind of a heavy chili con carne.

Well, I’m in San Antonio, so I have to try chili gravy. I did a little research, and found that Jacala has the finest in the city (note this is not a universal sentiment, but there was a lot of commentary about Jacala, and it was close to the hotel).

Started off with salsa and chili con queso. The salsa was thin and had decent spice heat. The queso wasn’t very spicy, and seemed to be velveeta. The tea was good and refilled often.

I got the Mexican Meal (I think it was #24), which is three cheese enchaladas and a puffy beef taco, with beans (I have seen references to “puffy tacos” on marquees all over town). I upgraded the enchaladas to chicken enchaladas for $0.20 each. The puffy taco was a smallish tortilla that has been cooked up to be sort of air filled and fluffy, and then had beef, lettuce, and tomato. The enchaladas were covered in… chili gravy! They were pretty darn good also. The beans were pretty standard.

Overall, this was a good meal. I would not recommend getting the queso, but the rest was good. I was there with a coworker. We got there about 1745 and left about 1915. The restaurant was not crowded. My check was $16.75, of which $5 was the queso I would not recommend. Service was good.

Grady’s Bar-B-Que, San Antonio, TX

23 August 2010

Grady's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

This is a real-time post!

I’m visiting the San Antonio area. I ate at Grady’s a number of years ago, and liked it, but I had to explore around a bit to find it. I’m at the location north of the airport on Nakoma.

I got a two meat dinner with brisket and light chicken. The brisket is just a bit tough but has great flavor. It has a bit of “regular” sauce that I would normally call mild.
The chicken is wonderful! Moist and full of smoky flavor, just great. The sauce really brings out the flavor.

The standard sides are potato salad and pinto beans. The beans are plain and simple. The potato salad is great! Creamy mayo and just a hint of mustard, no big nasty chunks of celery or anything like that.

The iced tea is serve youself, and strong and good.

I got here at 1155 and the place was pretty much empty. My check was $10.39.

I would not mind eating here again.

Ingrid’s Kitchen, Oklahoma City, OK

18 August 2010

Ingrid's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Last Saturday we were at a St. John’s work day. Lunch came late, and Ingrid’s was suggested to us.

We got there around 1300. We opened the door to the sound of live music! There was a five-piece band playing standards and dance music (as in waltzes), and there were about 40 people out on a small dance floor. Very cool.

You order from a line and then your food is delivered to your table. We ordered wienershnitzel (very good, a little tough), chicken noodle soup (excellent), and some other stuff. Everybody liked their food, even though I don’t remember what the rest of us had.

The tea was good, and serve yourself. The place was crowded!

Ingrid’s has a bakery as well, and we left loaded down with cookies. The peanut butter cookies were especially good. I think our check was around $40.

Lassen Mineral Lodge Restaurant, Mineral, CA

18 August 2010

Mineral Lodge on Urbanspoon

I stopped here to eat last Monday evening after a day hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I got there at 1955, they close at 2000. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger (it came without bacon), that was on a big sourdough bun. The beef was pretty good. They brought it with pickles and mayo and stuff on the side. I got baken beans on the side; they were basically Campbells.

The tea was concentrate, but was not terribly bad.

Service was a bit lacking, they were busy closing. I left at 2030, my check was $11.13.

Black Bear Diner, Willows, CA

18 August 2010

Black Bear Diner on Urbanspoon

I was cruising up I-5 yesterday on the way to Lassen Volcanic National Park, and I saw the sign for Black Bear on the side of the road, so I stopped in to get some lunch.

When I was seated, I had the thought form in the back of my mind that I had been in the place before. I looked up the locations, and it turns out that I had eaten in the Black Bear Diner in Colorado Springs, CO, several years ago. I think I liked it.

It wasn’t a very good start. While the host brought me iced tea, I was not seen by my server for almost 15 minutes. At best, she was curt. Not unfriendly, but never stopping at the table for more than a few seconds. My iced tea ran out twice, and it took a bit to get my check. It was probably just her.

They serve breakfast all day, so I got the chicken fried steak and eggs. The CFS was really good, breaded on site, and the beef was nice and fork tender and tasty. The eggs were good. The “hash browns” were really shaved, thin strips of potato. They needed to be cooked a little more, and could have used some onion or something for some more flavor. The gravy helped! It was really good. The meal came with an ENORMOUS biscuit. The biscuit was pretty dry and a bit hard, but was clearly baked on site.

I got there around 1220, and left at 1320. My check was $12.10. I liked the food and would eat at another Black Bear.

La Hacienda Ranch, Dallas, TX

12 August 2010

I picked this place at random as I was driving in Dallas. As I walked up, it smelled good.

I got iced tea and some queso. The iced tea was good, and the queso was hotter than the hinges (not spicy, rather from the stovel the spiciness was just perfect).

I ordered mixed fajitas. I started working on my USA Today crossword, got about three answers, and here came dinner. Literally 2-3 minutes. The chicken was well cooked, the steak medium, but the onions really could have used a bit more time before showing at the table. I moved the onions around a lot to try to get them cooked a bit more.

The fajitas were tasty, though. I made three with tortillas and ate the rest off of the plate. The steak was just a touch on the tough side.

I got there around 1840 and left around 1915. The place was only about 40% full the entire time. Service was excellent, I never ran out of tea. My check was $22.59. Good stuff!

Silver Diner, Tyson’s Corner, VA

12 August 2010

Silver Diner on Urbanspoon

Update, 23 Aug 2010: I found the check from this meal, and this is an update based on that.

It occurred to me this evening at dinner that we had eaten here during our trip to DC, but I had forgotton to write about it. Raegan and the kids and I had been to Great Falls National Park, and came through Tyson’s on the way out of the DC area, and stopped at Silver Diner in Tyson’s Corner.

I had eaten at the Diner several times over the years. It was really good, then there were a couple times it, to be frank, sucked. This visit was good!

A couple of us started with milk shakes. My vanilla shake was excellent. The iced tea was also.

I got a cheeseburger that I really liked. Well cooked, a good size, and good beef. Ian and Erin both got a chicken fried steak and it was outstanding! The gravy was good. Ian ate all of his, but Erins was way too much for her. Raegan got a “Choose Two” soup and salad, with a crab soup and a Club sandwich; she liked them both.

We all got milkshakes as well. There were a couple vanilla and one chocolate. They were cold, and large, and great!

Our check was around $55.45, and I thought it was good value for all we got. They have wifi. The service was pretty good. Recommended.

Falcone’s, Midwest City, OK

8 August 2010

Falcone's Pizzeria & Deli on Urbanspoon

We ate at the Falcone’s on May a couple years ago. We like pizza and Italian a lot, but we were underwhelmed by Falcone’s. It was expensive and not very good.

I noticed another branch in Midwest City a year or so ago, and Thursday decided to try it since I was in a bit of a hurry.

I got two slices of pepperoni pizza and a large drink. This set me back $7.81.

The tea was good. The pizza was OK. The crust was a thin style, but towards the wide end started getting fairly tough. There was not all that much pepperoni, and I thought there was not enough sauce.

The place was about 1/4 full at 1135 and about 1/2 full when I left at 1205.

The pizza was OK. I think the next time, I will stay on base and hit Anthony’s. It is better pizza, and less expensive.

Falcone’s has wifi, though.

Chicken Country, Jacksonville, AR

6 August 2010

Chicken Country on Urbanspoon

I left this draft post in my BlackBerry and thought I ought to finish it.

We ran across Chicken Country after visiting nearby Little Rock Air Force Base. It wa quick and good.

We got there around 1400 and left around 1445.

All of us got fried chicken except Ian, who got chicken strips. I’ve had better fried chicken, but not very much, and lots worse.

All of the sides we got (green beans, masher, and corn) were good. The rolls were plain white bread.

They have good fill-yourself iced tea.

We were there on a Sunday afternoon (11 July). The place was almost empty when we got there, and pretty much the same when we left.

Good place. Our check was around $25, not bad.

Monroe’s Grill, Midwest City, OK

3 August 2010

Monroe's Grill on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here this afternoon after visiting the tag agent next door.

I got there shortly after 1205 and left at 1230. The place had three tables occupied out of about 15.

I ordered a double meat cheeseburger with fries and iced tea. The burger was odd tasting, not much flavor. The fries were the same way, not much flavor. The iced tea was ok.

I don’t think I would get another burger here. There is a lotof other stuff, including Asian food and Tex-Mex.

My check was $9.15. Service was good.

Granny’s Chicken Ranch, Bonner Springs, Kansas Speedway, KS

27 July 2010

Granny's Chicken Ranch on Urbanspoon

I think that this was a near-perfect eating experience.

We had stopped at Cabela’s yesterday while coming home from Omaha to buy a backpack for Erin. We were hungry, and saw Granny’s from across the road, and said let’s try it. We got there about 1730; the place was less than 10% full.

The iced tea was great, perfect flavor, and served in a big glass. Great start.

Raegan and I got salads. These were simple green salads with some croutons, served family style. The ranch dressing was excellent! I could have taken some home (they sell it by the pint, if you ask). I asked who made the dressing, and our server said it is made right there in the restaurant using buttermilk and stuff.

Raegan got fried chicken, the signature dish. It was pan-fried and perfect, crispy skinned and not overly greasy, and really, really tasty. Great stuff. They do the breading the frying right there.

I ordered the pot roast, and it was a perfect example of a food I should NOT know how to cook well. I would gorge myself on it until I exploded. The roast was tender, great beef flavor, and had cubed red-skinned potatoes and carrots cooked in. If there was onion, I couldn’t taste or see it. I might suggest that some onion be added. The roast was in a brown gravy that had the roast flavor, and was excellent.

Ian ordered a chicken fried steak. I rated it a 10! It was tender, had great beef and breading flavor, was breaded right there in the restaurant, and had a generous helping of really good gravy. Pretty much a perfect CFS.

Our three meals were served with extra gravy, roughly mashed red-skinned potatoes, and green beans, all family style in big bowls. The only thing here – the green beans had little flavor. They were long beans. I like the cut beans better, I think they cook better, but that is an opinion.

Erin got a bowl of potato soup, and we all agreed it was excellent.

I think that the food here was PERFECT. I wouldn’t mind eating at Granny’s often (the five-hour one-way commute for food is a bit hardcore even for me, but I do go to Omaha often, and it’s not that far out of the way 🙂 !

We left around 1830. Our check was around $50 (I can’t find the receipt).

I talked to the manager on the way out. The owners daughter was our server. The service was perfect. The food was excellent, and the price was reasonable. The interior was nice and not too noisy. The selection was vast. the iced tea excellent. This was simply the best restaurant experience that I have had in months. I hope that Granny’s survives, and does not change.

That Cabela’s, by the way, is amazing. It’s HUGE. There is a Great Wolf Lodge in the area as well. We might have to set up a weekend trip…

The Chatty Squirrel Cafe and Bakery, Omaha, NE

27 July 2010

The Chatty Squirrel Cafe & Bakery on Urbanspoon

We were cruising along Center Street in west Omaha last Saturday afternoon looking for someplace to eat. When we drove past the Chatty Squirrel, we said with a name like that, we just had to try it.

It turns out that the Squirrel had been open in this location since Monday! They had been on Giles in Papillion and had move here for more business.

The Chatty Squirrel has a pretty healthy menu. It is largely sandwiches and soup.

Raegan and I got turkey sandwiches on wheat. It was good, except that the sandwich was served on a roll instead of wheat bread. Good turkey, though. We also got some mushroom and potato soup, it was good.

Erin and Ian got grilled cheese sandwiches. Ian also got a smoothie that he really liked.

Raegan and I got iced tea. It was a little weak, but not bad.

The adult meals come with a sweet. Raegan got a butterscotch brownie, and I got a cake brownie. Both were really good!

So overall, the food was good, if a smaller serving size than you get at most places. That, of course, is not a bad thing on several levels.

So I can recommend the Chatty Squirrel. It’s family owned and operated. The staff is friendly. The cost is reasonable (our check was $31.51). There were three tables out of about ten occupied when we got there around 1230, and five out of ten when we left about 45 min later.

Ciro’s Italian Eatery, Elkton, VA

15 July 2010

Ciro's Pizza on Urbanspoon

This was a jewel of a restaurant! We had come out of Shenandoah National Park, and were looking for dinner. We just missed the country home cooking place that closed at 2000, as it was 1955. We decided that Italian was just the thing for us.

The restaurant was about 75% full when we got there; we were seated immediately. My iced tea had just a touch of coffee flavor, but I put in 1/4 packet of sugar to mask it, and the refills after that were good, with no aftertaste.

We started off with some cheese garlic bread. It was good but pretty standard. Raegan and I got salads with ours, they were OK.

I got the chicken parmesan. Excellent! Came with some spaghetti with meat sauce, also excellent! Nothing left. Erin got fettucine alfredo. Excellent! Ian got a meatball sub. He didn’t eat the bread for the most part (he’s weird about that), but the meatballs were completely gone.

Raegan got manicotti. Her standard thing for two manicotti is to get one with with alfredo and one with marinara. Our server (who was very good) was a bit taken aback by this, and so was the cook apparently. They were concerned that the alfredo and marinara would… touch! When asked about this, Raegan said, sure, let them! They still came to the table on two plates. Kind of funny. She ate it all.

We were done about 2100. The place was still 75% full. Our check was $46.79. Service was excellent.

Turns out that the people that own Ciro’s also own the Tex-mex place in town. If it’s like Ciro’s, it might be pretty good.

Pizzeria Paradiso, Washington, DC

15 July 2010

Pizzeria Paradiso (Dupont Circle) on Urbanspoon

After Raegan and the kids had an almost day-long visit to the National History Museum, and then all of us visiting the Air and Space Museum, we wanted pizza. I did a Google Maps search, and saw this place had good reviews, so we took a change and hopped on the Metro. We went to the Dupont Circle location.

When we got there around 1915, there were enough people waiting that it was a 40 min wait. But… we could be seated outside immediately. It was about 90F outside, but not terribly humid, and we were in shade with a breeze, so it wasn’t that bad.

The tea was GOOD, not least because it had been hot (100F) all day, and we had been walking outside for a while.

Now, Paradiso isn’t Pizza Hut. It’s arty pizza to be sure. You get an 8″ or 12″ pizza, so the encouragement is get it personal.

All of the crusts are thin and kind of crunchy. We all got 8″ pies. Erin got a white pizza with a bit of ham on it. Raegan got a Bosco, which was Mushrooms, Spinach, Red Onion, Mozzarella, and she got had the onion removed. Ian got a sausage pizza, and I got pepperoni and sausage. The sausage was shaved (like our pizza in Philly) instead of crumbled. All of the pizzas had chunks of tomato, and little pizza sauce. It was all very good. Was it the best I’ve ever had? No. I am significantly biased towards loaded pizza like Hideaway. But I really liked it. I think that the price was reasonable.

As busy as Paradiso was, I was surprised that the servers kept up. We all had water and another drink (it was hot!), but they were kept full. We left about 2040. Out check was $61.44.

Blue Coast Burrito, Nashville, TN

15 July 2010

Blue Coast Burrito on Urbanspoon

We had a short driving tour of Nashville, and were looking for chow. We ran across the Blue Coast Burrito, and decided that some Tex-Mex would fit the bill.

This place has a motif of surfing. Why? Beats the heck out of me.

Blue Coast is kind of like a Qdoba or Chipolte Grill. You select a meat, other stuffings, it’s rolled into a burrito, and you eat.

One thing – we got an order of queso dip. It was not good at all, not recommended.

We got a steak burrito, a couple chicken burritos, and a taco. They were… OK. The salsa was not terribly hot.

Our check was $32.91. If I had a choice, I would go to Chipolte. If I didn’t, Blue Coast would be OK.

Bojangles, Blacksburg, VA

15 July 2010

Bojangles' Famous Chicken on Urbanspoon

We were headed out of Blacksburg last Sunday after touring the campus and part of the town, we were hungry, and it was lunch. We had sort of wanted some fried chicken, and as we gassed up on the edge of town, the station had a Bojangles co-located.

We got a bunch of chicken, both light and dark. It was pretty darn good, just basic fried chicken. We got green beans, mac and cheese, fries, mashers, and biscuits.

You sure could do worse than get chicken here.

Philly’s Gourmet Cafe, Philadelphia, PA

6 July 2010

Philly's Gourmet Cafe on Urbanspoon

This place is a quick and dirty place to get lunch. It’s in The Bourse at Independence Mall, which is a largish food court. One advantage – it’s air conditioned, since it was hottish outside.

You can order grill items (like I did), or it has a takeaway section with various oriental food items.

I got a cheesesteak. I ordered mine essentially wit wiz, and it came witout and provolone. *Sigh* I still ate it. It was OK, hotter than heck. The meat had good flavor, and the roll was tasty. They were supposed to have iced tea, but it was out, so I got Coke. Refills are not free, they are $1, which is of course a ripoff since the material used to make it probably costs a nickel. You get fries with the meal, they were OK.

You could do worse than a cheesesteak from here. It’s not a Geno’s, but I’ve had far worse. My check was $8.63.

Pinocchio’s Pizza, Media, PA

6 July 2010

Pinocchio's on Urbanspoon

We were tooling along towards the hotel after visiting Valley Forge, and we ran through media. I saw Pinocchio’s on Blackberry Maps, and a guy in the gas station we were at mentioned it as being good.

So we headed over there and got there around 1730. The place was full, and there were about four groups ahead of us, but a number of people went out in short order and so we were seated in less than five minutes.

Three of us got iced tea (excellent, BTW) and one water. I also got a glass of Copper Ridge White Zinfandel, which was really good, perhaps the best wine I have had.

I started by ordering chicken parmesan. It was excellent, moist and firm and thinly breaded, tasty. The marinara that it was covered in was excellent, some of the best I have had. The side was spaghetti with meat sauce. That sauce was thick and chunky. It was OK. I would rather have had the same marinara that was on the chicken.

Ian ordered a medium sausage pizza – it was the size of a large most anywhere else. It was fairly tasty, with shaved sausage and a thin crust.

Erin ordered a mini white pizza, and ate it before we noticed, so it must have been really good.

Raegan got meat lasagne. She said it was “OK”, and I agreed. I thought it was bland.

We left about 1855, the place was still full. Our check was $55.11. Service was OK given how many people were there.

This is not just an Italian place. They have cheesesteaks and other sandwiches. In fact, most of the menu is hand food, and fairly little of it is plate food. What I saw around me looked good.

Valley Forge Canteen, Valley Forge National Historic Park, PA

6 July 2010

We ate lunch here for two reasons: (1) it would have taken more than an hour to drive into town and find something to eat, then return, and (2) Ian swore the hot dogs were the best he had ever smelled, and he would likely wither without being able to eat there.

So we all got hot dogs and drinks. They had no buns, so the dogs were on hamburger buns. We also each got an ice cream treat.

Total cost: about $15. They take plastic, and you eat outside on picnic tables, which are shaded.

A fun and quick lunch.

Gino’s Italian Delite, Easton, PA

4 July 2010

Gino's Pizza on Urbanspoon

After visiting the Crayola Museum in Easton, we needed lunch. Gino’s was right across the street, so we decided to give it a try. We got there around 1340. There are only about 10 tables, and three were filled.

There is a list of menu items on a sign on the wall, but after we sat down we discovered a menu with a LOT more stuff on it, including sandwiches and pasta dishes. Oh well. We had already ordered a pizza-by-the-slice of alfredo pizza for Erin, and a large 1/2 ham and mushroom, and 1/2 pepperoni and sausage.

They have a limited number of drinks, mostly bottles of stuff like Coke and water. No iced tea.

The pizza was pretty good. Erin scarfed down the alfredo slice before we knew it. The big pizza was pretty good, the mushrooms were fresh, and the pepperonis just the right temperature. Ian looked on the sausage with concern, since it was thinly sliced sausage instead of the finely chopped he was used to, but he put it all away.

We left around 1445; the check was $23.59.

One best thing – these guys recycle plastic containers like soda bottles. I approve!

Max and Leroys Family Restaurant, Zanesville, OH

3 July 2010

We were crusing through OH yesterday, and decided to stop at Zanesville for lunch. The first place we tried didn’t open until 1700, the second was closed permanently, and so we cruised through town until we ran across Max and Leroy’s. They had a big sign “Best Home Cooking In Town”, and so we had to try them.

We got there around 1215, and the place was about 20% full. The iced tea was excellent, and in largish glasses.

Ian got the breaded and fried chicken sandwich, twice. He decided the first one was so good, and not quite large enough, so he got a second one (without the fries).

Raegan got a fish tail sandwich, as opposed to the fish sandwich. The difference? The fish tail is about twice the size, and comes on a hoagie roll instead of a bun. She liked it.

Erin got a pizza burger, which was a short haogie roll with canadian bacon, pepperoni, pizza sauce, and cheese. It was really good!

I got a baked cube steak, which is a lightly breaded cube steak, baked. It came with really good mashers, and a light brown gravy. Bland, but good.

They have great pies there. We got three slices: custard, banana split, and chocolate and peanut butter. All were really good.

We left at 1330. Our check was $48.34.

We liked Max and Leroy’s, and would recommend it, except that tomorrow (03 July) is the last day for the place for the foreseeable future. The owners want to take some time to rest and reassess, and may or may not re-open. I hope they do.

Ed’s Steakhouse, Bedford, PA

3 July 2010

Ed's Steak House on Urbanspoon

We were cruising along the Pennsylvania Turnpike yesterday and getting hungry. We hopped off the Turnpike at Bedford, and basically picked this place at random.

We got there around 1720 and were seated immediately. The place was about 80% full. It took a bit to get our drinks ordered.

I observed to Raegan that I had eaten in restaurants like Ed’s about 500 times in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas while growing up. It struck me as a place from before the age of the ubiquitous chain restaurants.

The iced tea was good. Raegan also got a hot tea; they only had Lipton, so you ought to bring your own.

Raegan ordered a seafood alfredo and liked it. Erin got a kids meal with fried shrimp and ate it in record time. Ian got a fettucine alfredo and ate all of it. I got a rib steak (really, a sirloin), it was cooked medium and was pretty good.

We ended up with three desserts: a mini key lime pie on a cookie wafer, chocolate mousse, and a double chocolate ice cream

We left about 1830. Ed’s was pretty much full. Our check was $63.06. Service was pretty good considering how crowded the place was. Ed’s was a pretty good value, I think, and you could certainly do worse if you are in Bedford.

Ranch Steakhouse, Oklahoma City, OK

27 June 2010

Ranch Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

This is a very difficult post to write, because this meal was soooo expensive.

Raegan got a $100 gift certificate to Ranch Steakhouse from a students family, and we decided that this evening was a good time to use it. So we invited her parents, made a reservation, and met them there.

The four of us ate at Ranch maybe four years ago. It was pretty good, as I recall. I think we went on an evening in the middle of the week, and were there close to opening, and the restaurant was mostly empty while we were there.

No so tonight. We were probably the third group in there this evening, and by the time we left about 1930 the place was pretty much full.

We got there and perused menus and ordered a bunch of stuff. I started off with iced tea and a glass of White Zinfandel, both were good, and only the tea had free refills. My personal limit is one beer or glass of wine.

For appetizers, we got two shrimp cocktails and some of the “1051 Onion Rings” (at least, I think it was 1051, it was some four-digit number). This was a good start. The shrimp cocktails were really good, and the onion rings were excellent – perfectly breaded, slightly sweet onions, and huge! We were brought some ranch dressing to dip them in. Really liked these.

I’m going to run down what each of us got. One thing to bear in mind is that each of these items are ala carte, so even a baked sweet potato is $7, on top of the main course.

Raegan’s mom got the “pork two”, which was a thick pork chop and a couple spare ribs. They looked pretty good. Her Dad got beef medallions. Those were thinly sliced and looked pretty good also. They had no comments one way or the other.

Erin got a small lobster. This was the single most expensive item at $55. She had some, and all of the rest of us had at least one bite. I am no lobster expert, but the meat tasted like shrimp I have had before. Raegan’s parents have have lobster many times; her dad pronounced it “terrible”. I’ll take his word for it. She also got a cup of the baked potato soup, but she did not care for it. I ate most of it, and thought it was pretty darn good, there was a smoked bacon flavor.

Raegan got an appetizer for a meal, the smoked salmon, with a baked sweet potato to go with it. She said it was pretty good.

Ian got a 14 oz sirloin, with sides of steamed broccoli and creamed corn. I recommended he get his medium well after reading the description on the menu as “hot pink center”. The server recommended butterflying it, and I agreed. It came not butterflied, but it was also what I could say was medium well per the menu. Ian thought it was OK. He also said the creamed corn was too sweet, so Erin ate most of it. He said the broc needed some more steam time – I tried a piece and agreed.

I got a 14 oz New York strip, and also ordered it medium well based on the menu description. I asked for the Yukon Gold mashers (and got some pushback, why not get the garlic mashers?), but I held out for the Yukons. They were good. I also got the creamed corn and liked it. My steak arrived medium well per the menu (which I would have called medium), but the darn thing kept cooking, and ended up almost well done. There was some charring on it. I ate all of it, but it was not the most tender or flavorful steak I have had.

Overall, I was disappointed by this visit. When you visit a fairly classy place, and frankly, if the strip steak is $38, you expect perfection in all things. The more I think about it, the more I think I should have complained or sent some food back. I really feel that the quality we experienced this evening was about what I would expect from a Logan’s Roadhouse or a Cheddar’s. Those places make a decent steak, and that’s what I got tonight, a decent steak. Those places have good service, and that’s what we got tonight, good service.

One thing that I think might be indicative. One of the specials tonight was a bone-in strip, 16 oz. It was $58. I asked “That’s dry aged beef, right?”, and the answer was, surprising me, no. She said it was wet aged. Now, I eat a lot of steak, most of it strips, or porterhouse/t-bones, and in general, when you get into a price range north of $35/$40, you are talking dry aged beef. Certainly I would expect my steak to have NO charring on it.

So I do not recommend Ranch Steakhouse, in spite of our good first experience with it. If we had another gift card, we would probably eat there and keep the cost under the card amount, or give it to one of our single friends.

Given all that, the four adults, teenager, and pre-teen, ran up a tab of $287.06. That is the single most expensive family meal I have ever had. $55 lobster tails and $13 shrimp cocktails add up fast! The tip for this meal was more than what we spend at a typical family dinner for four. Even with the gift certificate, this is the most expensive family meal we’ve ever had.

I just do not think it was worth it. I was really disappointed with the quality of the food. And it was not just me. Raegan’s Dad and his comments on the lobster back up my thoughts on the steak. Can we afford to eat there? Yes. Will be eat there again? I doubt it. I would choose a consistent, flavorful steak at someplace like Longhorn Steakhouse first – we could eat six meals as a family there for the same price as Ranch, and the quality would be better.

If you go to Ranch Steakhouse, i would recommend ordering your steak one “level” less than you usually get. You can always send it back! Or maybe go in the middle of the week.

McAlister’s Deli, Shawnee, OK

26 June 2010

McAlister's Deli on Urbanspoon

Raegan and I ate at a McAlister’s back in September 2008 in Stillwater, OK. We had gone up there by ourselves for a long weekend at the town and University where we met, and McAlister’s was one of the places we tried. We had basic sandwiches and such and liked them, and put McAlister’s on our list of eating places, but never had an opportunity again until today (there are no McAlister’s along our usual routes of travel around the OKC area).

We were returning from getting Ian from summer camp and we stopped in Shawnee to have lunch. We chose McAlister’s driven basically by a combination of indecisiveness on the part of certain adults, with the basic limitation of no fast food. We got there around noon, and had a two-minute wait to get to a register. The place was about 1/3 full.

We started off with an “appetizer” of Cheese Chili Dip and Chips. Appetizer? It could have been a meal by itself. A 14″ platter with a crock of queso and chili con carne surrounded by a sea of tortilla chips. The four of us managed to eat all the dip, but only about 2/3rds of the very good chips.

Raegan got a Choose Two of a half McAlister’s Club and broccoli and cheddar soup. She pronounced it “OK”, so that’s good.

Ian got a bowl of chili con carne. He spent more time watching pretty girls and eating crackers and drinking Coke than eating, but he ended up eating most of it.

Erin got something new for her, a French Dip with au jus. I tried some of the roast beef and au jus, not bad, very lean. She got mac and cheese for her side, and enjoyed it.

I got something called The Big Nasty. I is essentially an open-faced roast beef sandwich, with melted cheddar, and McAlister’s “Come Back” gravy. I don’t know about that stuff, it might be that is comes back to haunt you later. The sandwich was really, really peppery with black pepper. That’s why I compared my roast beef to Erin’s French Dip: same meat, different flavor. I didn’t finish my lunch partly because it was HUGE and party because of how strongly peppered the thing was. I have to believe that it was the gravy. My side was a cup of chili con carne – it was OK, zero heat to it at all. The flavor was OK, and it had no beans in it.

We all had a cookie or a brownie, and they were good. My peanut butter cookie was very doughy and positively oozed PB.

We left about 1300, stuffed to the gills (which we were trying to avoid, as we are having dinner at an upscale restaurant this evening). Our tab was $47.62, great value considering how frigging much chow we got. The place stayed about 1/4 – 1/3 full while we where there.

I think it was a good meal – even given the highly peppered nature of my Big Nasty.

Almost forgot – the cups that McAlister’s uses are #1 recyclable. Most places use #5 which we can’t recycle here, but a couple, to include Panera Bread, use #1s, and that’s another good reason to eat there.

Ken’s Steaks & Ribs, Amber, OK

26 June 2010

Ken's Steak and Ribs on Urbanspoon

I have heard about Ken’s for a number of years. Last Fall, Raegan and I stopped by there on the way to a Girl Scout training camp near Marlow, but we found that Ken’s was cash only, and the only ATM in town didn’t work, so we headed on to Chickasha (I had this spelled Chickasaw in the original post, but I got corrected by someone who apparently has no good manners at all).

We were picking up Erin from summer Scout camp this afternoon, so we decided to give Ken’s another try. It’s about 10 minutes north of Chickasha. We stopped in Chickasha and got some cash this time.

We got to Ken’s about 1730. I had some concerns about a possible wait, but we were seated immediately. The place was not even 1/3 full.

A surprise: Each person at the table gets a smoked rib! I have to say, they were some darn fine ribs. The flavor was really good, the crust was a nice touch. They were not the most tender ribs I’ve had, but I rated them a 9 on a scale of 1 to JTs. They were not terribly warm. I found out later that the slabs are brought in and tossed on the grill to warm them up before they are served. They needed to be on the grill a little longer.

There is no printed menu – the servers tell you what they have, usually rapid fire. The menu is: Sirloin 8 or 12 oz, prime rib (BIG pieces, look 16 oz), three or five ribs, or chicken.

I ordered the big sirloin, Erin got three ribs (well, really, Dad did, and Erin just wanted the baked potato), and Raegan got the smoked chicken.

Everyone get the salad bar. There isn’t much to it – iceberg lettuce, grated carrots, and a couple other things I didn’t usually get on salads. Three or four dressings. I got ranch. It was too sweet, a little went a long way. The salad bar has bowls for you to get pinto beans (pretty darn good!) or fried okra (also pretty darn good, could have been just a bit crispier).

My steak was really good. It was thick, more than 1″, and perfectly cooked. There was quite a lot of black pepper on it. It could have been a bit more tender, but it was a thick cut; I ended up cutting along the grain like you would brisket, and got a little less chewing workout. There was a good amount of beef flavor there.

One comment – sirloin is OK, but if Ken’s is serious about steak, they need to include New York Strip or a Ribeye on the menu.

Raegan’s chicken was variable. The dark part was a bit moister, and a small part of the breast, but the rest (most of the chicken) was very dry. It had a good smoky flavor, but was dried out.

The ribs that Erin got were as good as the appetizers. They were again not very warm. In fact, they had cooled way too much after only about five minutes. I think that Ken’s ought to invest in a steam or under-grill warmer for the ribs. They were GOOD ribs!

We all got baked potatoes for the starch side. They were nice and tender, but there was not much in the way of dress-up; some butter and sour cream on the table.

There was a small amount of BBQ sauce on the table. It was thin and had grains of pepper and chili seasoning in it. There was little heat. I get the feeling that Ken’s would rather the BBQ be enjoyed without sauce. The sauce reminded me very much of the BBQ sauce used in the Sierra Nevada region for their tri-tip, which they call BBQ but is really roasted.

The tea was really good and in a decent sized glass, and kept full fairly well. Service was pretty good overall.

The rib and chicken dinners, it turns out, were $13 each, and the big steak $16. Our total check was $51.49. We left about 1830.

Overall, the meal was… pretty good. Is it worth driving fairly far out of your way, especially not accepting credit cards, having a limited choice of entrees, and at least one of those not very good for us (the chicken, and it could be an anomaly)? Given all this, I would say no. I have a bit of a bias against places that don’t take credit cards – it’s almost like saying “the heck with you, we have enough business”, and I’m generally all for avoiding those places. If you were taking the scenic route from Chickasha to Tuttle and were hungry, you could do worse than Ken’s (be advised – it’s only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 1630 to maybe 2100).

Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe, Oklahoma City, OK

24 June 2010

Camille's Sidewalk Cafe on Urbanspoon

Raegan and I were out running errands this afternoon, she is on summer vacation, and I was taking some well-deserved leave (especially well-deserved, I might add).

We had looked at Camille’s a month or so back, and chose Classen Grill instead.

We got there around 1340 this afternoon, and left about 1430. The place was pretty much empty the entire time.

Raegan got a pick two lunch, and chose the potato cheese soup and a 1/2 a turkey deluxe sandwich. She ate it all, so it was good. I had some of the soup, and I liked it.

I got a chicken caesar wrap. The first couple bites were OK but boring. The rest of it was pretty good. I surmise the dressing had all flowed down to the interior of the sandwich. I got a bag of Fritos also.

Both of the meals came with a small tub of salsa and some multi-colored tortilla chips. That salsa was some of the best I have ever had! It was just a touch spicier than Pace mild, but it was so flavorful! The only thing – it was a little thin and had a time staying on the tortilla chips. Great stuff.

We each got a cookie. Raegan got oatmeal raisin and I got peanut butter, both were excellent!

The iced tea was OK, a little weak. They had a soda machine, and it would flavor the soda with stuff like vanilla. Pretty cool.

Our check was $20.52.

Spencer’s Smokehouse and BBQ, Oklahoma City, OK

24 June 2010

Spencer's Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

First, off, I don’t really know if Spencer’s is in Oklahoma City or Midwest City or Nicoma Park. Go to 23rd and Post Road, and you are there.

I had a meal at Spencer’s a couple years ago for a coworkers going-away lunch. I think that I had a buffet that time. It clearly didn’t make much impression one way or the other.

So yesterday, Spencer’s was mentioned in the office, and I thought – BBQ! So a coworker and I went off to have lunch.

We got there about 1130. A crowd surged in immediately thereafter, but the restaurant was not nearly full.

I got a two-meat lunch. Now, at most places, you get about the same volume of meat, but with two items. Not here, it was a quarter chicken and a HUGE pile of brisket! The chicken was perfect, smoked and juicy and tasty. The brisket… it was odd. It came with mild sauce like the chicken, but something about it made me pucker like licking a lemon would do. It was really sweet (not the sauce). I liked it once I got past the pucker part, but it wasn’t a huge like. I am not sure I would get the brisket again. The chicken, sure!

They have self serve iced tea (both sweet and unsweetened), I got the un and it was good! Three big glasses worth.

We left around 1210. My check was $20.42.

Frateli’s Italian Restaurant, Shawnee, OK

24 June 2010

Frateli's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I picked this place more or less at random this evening. We were heading out to Seminole and needed dinner. This place had good reviews.

We got there around 1915, and left around 2000. The place was pretty much empty the whole time.

We started with Caesar salads. They were good, but dressing was a little tart. The tea I got was really good, in a big glass, and kept refilled.

Raegan ordered seafood risotto. It was kind of spicier than she had anticipated, but most of the spice was in the rice, not the seafood. It was good, she said.

I ordered fettuccine and chicken alfredo. It was pretty good. The alfredo was good, and there was a LOT of chicken diced up. I also ordered a childs plate of spaghetti with meat sauce. I thought that the meat sauce was a little skimpy for the amount of noodles, but I also thought that the sauce was way too sweat, and didn’t taste terribly meaty.

Overall, this was a decent meal. I would ask for the chicken in the fettuccine alfredo to be sauteed instead of grilled. Our check was $32.44.

Rudy’s, Norman, OK

22 June 2010

Rudy's "Country Store" and Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Raegan and the kids and I ate at this Rudy’s a couple years ago. We didn’t even know it was there, and we decided to eat there while in Norman to visit the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History (a really, really cool museum, by the way). I seem to remember that Rudy’s was pretty good. I’ve seen Rudy’s in a number of places since then, and my good friend Jamie and her husband are fans.

I was taking Ian to summer camp and decided to take State Highway 9, which runs through Norman and then to Seminole; the camp is right off 9. So that was a good excuse ^H^H^H^H^H^H reason to hit Rudy’s again.

We got there at 1400. We had to wait 20 min to get served, as they had one register open, and the lady being served was getting a BOX of BBQ, and service was serial only. After about 15 min, they opened up two more registers, and the line started moving again.

Ian ordered the pork [spare] ribs, a bag of chips, and a drink. I got the pork ribs, a half pound of “wet” brisket, some Rudy’s beans (pintos), and tea.

The ribs were not bad. They were fairly tender, but they didn’t have a lot of flavor to them. I think they needed to be smoked just a little longer. They were also kind of short, but they had enough meat on them.

The brisket was excellent! Tender, juicy, and with a lot of flavor. Easily the best part of them meal.

The beans were pretty good, hot and with pieces of brisket cooked in.

There were two bottles of sauce on the table: “Sissy” and “Original”. The Sissy was very bland. The Original had a bit of spice and taste to it, but was not at all hot. I mixed the two 50/50 and they were pretty good.

The tea was good, in big cups, and serve yourself.

This was a good visit. I am going to always have the “wet” brisket with future meals, and try some of the pulled pork and other stuff. We left about 1445. Our check was $26.52 for the two of us. Kind of expensive. All the stuff there is ala cart – you order meat, and then if you want a side, they are extra. Good BBQ, though.

The Delta Cafe, Edmond, OK

19 June 2010

We wanted to eat somewhere that had vegetables this evening after some time in Dallas without them. We had not been at the Delta Cafe in a long time (probably 10 years).

Ian and I got iced tea, and Raegan got milk. The tea was excellent, the milk cold.

Ian ordered a chicken fried steak, with applesauce and corn. I had a bite of it. It was great! It was fork-tender and very flavorsome. Really tasty, better than the last couple I have had. The gravy was also excellent.

Raegan got a small portion of breaded and fried catfish. She liked it. She got applesauce and green beans with it. One thing she said was that she really appreciated the fact that most of the meals had smaller portions available.

I got pot roast. It was really good! I had applesauce, mac and cheese, and the veg of the day, fried potatoes and onions. Although the mac and cheese was kind of thin sauce-wise, the entire meal was excellent. I really liked the roast and beef gravy and the fried potatoes.

We decided to have dessert. Ian had a brownie, and Raegan and I split peach cobbler with ice cream.

All in all, this was an excellent meal, and we decided that we would go back again. Our check was $41.51. Service was excellent.

Prairie Kitchen, Ardmore, OK

16 June 2010

Prairie Kitchen on Urbanspoon

We stopped her for lunch on the way to Dallas for a short visit.

We got here at 1145; the place was about 20% full.

Service was quick. I had iced tea, it was good.

I got a chicken fried steak. It was hand breaded. The breading had a bit of garlic in it. The steak was thin and pretty tough. I was not impressed. The gravy was OK. The mashed potatoes were not good; they tasted like they were reconstituted. I didn’t finish either. The green beans were OK.

Raegan got a BLT and said it was OK.

Ian got chicken strips and liked them. His came with okra and kernal corn.

We left about 1235, the place was about 1/3 full. Our check was $28.22. I don’t think I will stop here again. Two Frogs across the street is *much* better.

This is my second real-time blog post for a restaurant. The first was Two Frogs. I was using my laptop for that one, and a hotel Wi-Fi link. This one is via the WordPress for BlackBerry app.

Tabeguache Steakhouse, Woodland Park, CO

14 June 2010

Tabeguache Steak House & Winebar on Urbanspoon

After a hard but very satisfying hike in Green Mountain Falls, I headed up the road to Woodland Park for dinner. I was a little disappointed by the choices, but I decided to try Tabeguache Steakhouse. What does “Tabeguache” mean? According to Wikipedia, it is a translation from Ute for “place where the snow melts first”. It is also the name of one of Colorado’s 14ers that are along the Arkansas River headwaters.

I got there around 2000; the restaurant was about 1/3 full. I started off with iced tea. It was not bad. I had a little trouble keeping it full during the meal.

I started off with some sauteed mushrooms. I sort of didn’t like them. They were sauteed in balsamic vinegar and old. The BV was really strong and overwhelmed the taste of the mushrooms. They were also large mushrooms, and some of the larger pieces were not cooked all the way through, so some of they were kind of fibrous.

I got a soup instead of salad. It was a chicken, rice, and veg soup that was quite thick. It had a nice taste to it.

The main course was a 16 oz ribeye. That steak was cooked and tasted like I cooked it on my backyard grill – it was darned good! A perfect medium, and mostly fork tender. Not a scrap was left! I got some OK rice with it, and it had a mixed steamed veg medley.

Overall, a good meal. The beef was excellent and cooked completely to order. When I left at 2115, the place was still about 1/3 full. My check was $41.30. Good place!

Red Barn Restaurant, Montrose, CO

7 June 2010

Red Barn Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I don’t think I’ve ever done this (except maybe for the specific Lee’s Sandwiches in OKC), but I do not recommend this restaurant.

We had been up in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, and got some advice from the staff there. We were heading east towards Colorado Springs, and didn’t really want to drive the 12 miles or so back west into Montrose. The staff said the next town (Cimmaron, about 10 miles east) was just a wide spot (but when we drove through there, there were a couple cafes and a restaurant open), and we didn’t think we wanted to wait the 40 minutes or so to get to Gunnison. So we went to the Red Barn.

Let me note up front that we also had an Italian recommendation for Garlic Bobs, and that was actually our first try, but they don’t open until 1700.

My summary is that most of the food wasn’t bad, but it sure wasn’t good either, and the cost was pretty high, so I don’t think it was a good value.

We got there about 1615. There was no one else in the place.

The first good thing: the tea was excellent! I was dried out from hiking in Black Canyon, and downed a lot of tea during the meal.

Erin ordered cheese sticks. They were all consumed. Everybody except me got Caesar salads; they were good.

I ordered a chicken fried steak. The host said that it was breaded there, but I just don’t think that was the case. The CFS was a uniform oval, and uniformly breaded. It looked mass produced. It tasted OK. The gravy was really good. It came with a medley of veg that included red and green bell peppers that screwed up the taste of the veg significantly. NOTE TO RESTAURANTS: Bell peppers are not repeat not a vegetable, they are a fruit, and they do not go well with mixed veg!!!! I got a cup of the three alarm chili. It was more like a single-match temperature. It had a good taste, but no spiciness, and also had a ton of kidney beans in it.

I ended up trading my CFS for Erin’s meal. I encouraged her to try something new, specifically the chicken stir fry. It came pretty much as expected, except… it was full of red and green bell peppers. Not a usual stir fry item (did they get the bell peppers on a special good deal?). She didn’t like it at all, so I let her finish the CFS while I fished peppers out, and ate most of the stir-fry and rice. It was OK.

Ian got baby back ribs. I am not a fan of baby backs, and had recommended he get the spare ribs, but he didn’t hear. They were tender enough, but had little flavor.

Raegan got talapia. I know, why get fish in landlocked Colorado. She said it was OK at best, and very bland.

We finished about 1710. Our check was $80.31. It seemed way high to me. However, the CFS was $13, the tilapia clocked in at $17, the baby backs (a half order) at $14, the cheese sticks were $7. All pretty high dollar. The service was OK.

I just came out of there with the feeling that I got ripped off, in a quality/cost perspective. Maybe it’s because they are in the middle of the state, maybe they are just high dollar. I just would not recommend eating there.

Ruby’s Inn Restaurant, Bryce Canyon, UT

6 June 2010

Ruby's Inn on Urbanspoon

Ruby’s is right outside the entrance of the National Park. It’s a large complex, a hotel, store, gas station, etc. One hint – today, the gas across the street (a Sinclar’s, IIRC) was $0.30 less a gallon. We got there around 1245. The place was immensely crowded with tourists. There was a babble of language around us – French, German, British, Spanish, and American. There were even some Asian languages, but I couldn’t pick any out easily.

The restaurant part has a buffet for lunch, or order from menu.

Ian and Raegan ordered from the menu. He got (surprise!) a cheeseburger. It was pretty good, even if he was horrified it came on a Kaiser Roll. Fries came with it. Raegan got a Chef’s Salad with ranch. It was huge. She ate about 50% of it, and I ate most of the rest.

Erin and I got the buffet. It had some fried fish, roasted chicken, some chicken nugget-looking things, some beef rib ends, and some veg and bread and stuff. At best, it was OK.

Service was OK in sptie of the fact it was super crowded. Our check was $47.91.

I would not recommend the buffet. I do not think it was a good value.

Bryce Canyon Lodge Restaurant, Bryce Canyon National Park, UT

6 June 2010

Bryce Canyon Lodge on Urbanspoon

We got to Bryce Canyon towards dinner last evening, and although it was kind of early, the front desk advised that they were three tour buses inbound (nice of them!), and so we had an early dinner. We got there around 1700.

The restaurant is open and large. It is NOT air conditioned. The outside temp was around 85, but we were not uncomfortable.

I ordered iced tea. I went through two glasses very quickly, and our server brought us a medium carafe after that.

I started with the white chicken chili, and Ian got a Caesar salad with his. The chili was pretty tasty, but had almost no spicy flavor to it. It didn’t have much chicken either. The Caesar was nice, the dressing had just the right amount of bite to it.

Raegan ordered the salmon and said it was very good. It came with rice. Erin ordered the kids pasta alfredo and liked it. I tried it, and it was good. It had an unusual taste to it, kind of an aftertaste, that was not unpleasant, but not standard alfredo either.

Ian ordered prime rib on my recommendation (he had been on the Cheeseburger Diet, and we wanted him to vary). I ordered it medium, but it came well done. That’s really not that bad an idea for a kid (teenager), and it was still tasty and pretty tender. He got fries with it (sigh). I ordered a ribeye (12oz). It was cooked medium as I liked, and was pretty tender. I’ve had worse beef. Mine came with some very good rice.

Service ended up being fairly slow. I was doing a slow burn to begin with since we had left Las Vegas way too late, and were late getting to the park, and I wanted to drive out to the south end, so the delay in getting our check cleared was annoying. In fairness, our server had a couple other tables, including a party of about 10 that took a lot of her time, but…

Our check ended up at $99.31. About what I would expect for a fairly big ticket meal in a National Park. We left at 1820, and had a glorious drive to the end of the park.

Ray’s Tavern, Green River, UT

6 June 2010

Ray's Tavern on Urbanspoon

After a long drive from south central to central Utah, we connected with I-70 and headed towards Grand Junction. The next town was Green River, and since we were all hungry, we stopped there for dinner. We got there around 1730.

The place looks like a rathole from the outside. Inside there are a couple pool tables that are free.

I got iced tea, and it was excellent! Just what I needed.

I ordered a ribeye steak. I wanted it medium, and it came just shy of that. However, it was tender and very, very tasty, one of the better steaks I have had recently. It came with a baked potato with butter and sour cream.

Ian got a cheeseburger. It was 1/2 pound, and really good. The fries were pretty standard.

Raegan and Erin both got loaded baked potatoes, and both were good, they said.

We left about 1845. The service was not terribly attentive, but I only ran out of iced tea once. Our check was $42.73, and was good value, I suppose. You could do far worse for a steak in central Utah.

Blueberry Hill Family Restaurant, Las Vegas, NV

3 June 2010

Blueberry Hill Family on Urbanspoon

We first ran across the Blueberry Hill chainlet during a visit a couple years ago. We liked it.

So this evening, we were looking for a place to eat, and ran across this location on Flamingo, near I-215. We got there around 1830, the place had maybe five tables occupied.

I ordered tea to start, it had a coffee aftertaste that was quite strong. I asked for another one, and that one didn’t have the extra taste.

I ordered fried chicken, with a cup of chicken noodle soup for a started. The soup was tasty, but calling it “chicken” noodle was almost a stretch of Truth In Advertising. The noodles were sort of spaghetti noodles instead of the egg noodles I would have expected. The chicken was good, with a thick breading, but tasty chicken. The mashers were excellent; the gravy was outstanding! (But, not nearly as good at Raegan can make)

Erin got a meatball sandwich but didn’t eat much of it; I don’t think she was as hungry as she thought.

Ian got chicken fingers and ate all of them. The fries were pretty good.

Raegan got orange roughy and said it was good. It was too much to finish, so Ian ate the rest of it.

We all got desserts (they come with the meal). I got chocolate cake and had it in the hotel room later, with some milk we bought when we got to town. It was a tiny bit dry, but tasty.

The service was attentive and prompt. Our check was $54.49. We left 1930.

Johnny Rockets, Las Vegas, NV

2 June 2010

Johnny Rockets on Urbanspoon

I first ate at a Johnny Rockets a couple years ago in Kent, WA. It was pretty good. The family and I ate at the Johnny Rockets in Las Vegas (4480 Paradise Road) a couple years ago since it was only a block or so away from the hotel. We are back this year, and the kids and I walked back down to the same place for lunch today.

I got a Rocket Double, and it was easily one of the best cheeseburgers I have had. The beef was tasty and had a nice crust on it, giving it a great texture. The meat was quite juicy, and that caused the only “problem” – the bottom part of the bun started to disintegrate. That just meant I needed to be a bit more creative in holding it together (kind of like life, huh?).

Ian got a cheeseburger also and really scarfed it down.

Erin got the three mini chili cheese hot dogs. Again, the beef hot dogs were really tasty (not bland at all), and were well cooked. The chili was really good also – all meat, no beans. She managed to eat one of the three, and I had the other two.

We all got fries – this was a bit much. We managed to eat, between the three of us, about 1.25 orders of the three. The fries are ala cart, and so kicked up the cost of the meal ($8+), for little value.

I got iced tea, which was good if a little weak. Ian got Coke that was pretty good. Erin got an excellent milkshake, which was too much for her, so I had to finish the rest of it 🙂

The meal ended up being $41.81 for the three of us. The fries were a big part of that, and the shake. It was good, though.

Calico’s Restaurant, Kingman, AZ

2 June 2010

Calico's on Urbanspoon

Several years ago, we passed Calico’s on the way to (or from, it’s been a while) Las Vegas. We did a driving tour of the city, stopped to play on a locomotive in a park, and at some point, ran across Calico’s. We really enjoyed it then, and have stopped by several times since.

We stopped at Calico’s yesterday on the way from the Sedona and Prescott area.

We started with the soup and salad bar. The salad bar is basic and comprehensive. There are always two soups out. Yesterday it was chicken florentine (which is chicken in a thick cream, with chopped up spinach) and vegetable beef soup. Both were excellent. I’ve at chili there also, and like it – limited beans and thick and meaty. Erin and Raegan had the chicken, I had the veg beef. Mine was so good, I had a second cup for dessert. The veg beef had just a hint of red chili in it.

I got a chicken fried steak. It was not as good as it has been, but it was an 8.5 out of 10. The beef didn’t have the flavor that it has had in the past. The breading was decent, and the steak as a whole was fork tender all the way through. Ian had one also. The mashers were good if a bit bland.

Raegan and Erin were not terrribly hungry, so they split a grilled cheese, and got the soup and salad bar.

The tea was excellent. The service was OK. Our check was $44.89.

Calico’s, I realized while we were there, reminds me a lot of the typical restaurants my family would eat in while I was growing up.

Booga Reds, Springerville, AZ

1 June 2010

Booga Red's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

We were in northeast Arizona yesterday afternoon and all four of us were hungry. We passed Booga Reds and it had more cars in front of it than any other place in town, so we stopped there for dinner.

We started off with chips and salsa. Chips were standard. The salsa was excellent. Just the right consistency (I don’t like it really thin), and a bit spicier than most. I liked it a lot.

Raegan and I both got chimichungas (mine with shredded beef, hers with chicken). Both were excellent. Raegan’s was too big for her to finish, so I did. The chicken was a little dry but not too bad. If I get back here again, I will ask if I can get mine with ground beef. Both, BTW, were HUGE.

Ian got a cheeseburger. It was a bit small, but the burger meat and cooking were really good. The burger had a nice crust. The fries were OK. He said the CB was one of the best he had ever had.

Erin got a beef soft taco and devoured it. ‘Nuff said.

The tea was good. The service was a bit slow but attentive. Our check was $43.42. Strange name, but good food.

Chelino’s Mexican Restaurant, Oklahoma City, OK

24 May 2010

Chelino's Mexican on Urbanspoon

This evening, after we finished a Girl Scout project at St. John’s, we went to Chelino’s on Jackie’s suggestion. It was a great suggestion, and a very pleasant surprise.

We got there about 1920 this evening. The seven of us were seated immediately.

The salsa was OK, it had a heavy tomato flavor. The queso was really mild and kind of thin. The chips were pretty standard.

I ordered the enchiladas, one beef and one chicken. The beef enchilada was good, but the chicken was excellent. One of the best I have ever had, the flavor was outstanding. The meal came with beans and rice; the rice was good; it was kind of light colored.

Raegan had a taco salad. It was pretty good, since it was too big for her I ate part of it.

Ian got two chicken enchiladas, when he thought he was ordering chicken quesadillas. Gripe gripe gripe.

Jackie got the Mexican Dinner. I had a byte of her tamale, and it was really good also.

Erin got chicken quesadilla and ate all of it. Jack and Olivia both got a beef soft taco. Everybody pretty much ate everything.

The meal came with some light and fluffy sopapillas.

The tea was good, in a large container, and refilled often.

It was our turn to buy, and we got out with a check of $65.81. This was very reasonable, I think.

While I want to try the fajitas and maybe a burrito, I think that Chelino’s is very good and a good value.

We ate at the location on May Avenue in Oklahoma City.

Bayside Landing, BWI, MD

23 May 2010

Bayside Landing on Urbanspoon

I had the opportunity to eat here on the way back from a business trip last week. I generally do not find a lot of good airport restaurants, but this was OK.

I ordered iced tea to start. It was a concentrate, but not horrible.

I got the BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich and fries. The sandwich was pulled pork that probably wasn’t smoked, rather slowish cooked. It had OK taste and was tender enough. It was post-drenched in a very mild BBQ-like sauce. The that came with the sandwich were very narrow and kind of crunchy, almost potato sticks.

Service was pretty good. My check was $10.06. I got in there around 1730 and out around 1810.

Texas Ribs and BBQ, Waldorf, MD

21 May 2010

Texas Ribs and BBQ on Urbanspoon

I was in the mood for some BBQ after a really nice hike, so I went here.

I started off with some chili. It was not very good. A LOT of beans, of different types, and little meat.

I got there about 1930. I ordered iced tea and a sampler that consisted of three meats. I chose pulled pork, ribs, and chicken. The ribs were tender, and were mostly smoked. I think they needed just a touch longer in the smoker. The pulled pork was outstanding – really nice flavor and tender. I really enjoyed the pulled pork best. The chicken was a total waste. It was dry and there was no amount of tea drinking would fix it. The BBQ sauce was no help either. That was some lousy chicken.

The BBQ sauce was odd. I tried both the mild and the hot, and really tasted no difference. The hot had a definate jalapeno flavor, but no heat. The mild… it was thin and had an odd taste to it. It did not really enhance the flavor of the meat. I stopped using the sauce.

The meal came with two sides. I asked about the cole slaw, and the server told me it was vinegar based. so I got baked beans and potato salad. The potato salad was OK. The baked beans were very boring. They were fairly undercooked to begin with, and the sauce they were in was very tomato-y.

One thing: this sampler platter was a LOT of food. I bet three people could have eaten this meal. I could not come close to finishing it. The check was $20.33.

Bare Bones, Ellicot, MD

20 May 2010

Bare Bones Grill & Brewery on Urbanspoon

I was crusing for lunch after arriving at BWI, and Bare Bones looked pretty good. I got there around 1345.

I ordered iced tea to start. Not a good start, the stuff had such a strong coffee taste that no amount of sugar would eradicate it. I asked for another glass, and that one had a lot less coffee taste, even though it still had some.

I got a cup of white chicken chili for an appetizer. It was good, no spicy to it at all.

I ordered the lunch-sized Perdue chicken. This chicken had been roasted or rotisseried, then finished off with a bit of grilling with some BBQ sauce. The end result was pretty good. The chicken was tender and juicy. The BBQ made no difference to the basic taste since the chicken had already been cooked, but when chicken pieces were dipped in the sauce, that was pretty good!

The meal came with applesauce and corn fritters. The fritters were each 5-6 sweet corn kernals breaded and deep fried. Not bad.

The place did not have wifi. I left about 1445. Service was pretty good. My check was $16.41. I would go back again.

The American Cafe, Herndon, VA

20 May 2010

American Cafe on Urbanspoon

I have eaten at this restaurant a couple times in the past few years. It was pretty good, not excellent, but certainly not bad.

This evening I got there about 1800. I was immediately seated, the Cafe was about 40% full. I ordered iced tea – it was strong and very good.

I ordered the pot roast. The pot roast was not the best I have ever had, but it was also far from the worst. It was tender and wasn’t dry. It was not overly flavorful. It could have used something like an onion-flavor au jus. It seemed to be roasted with carrot slices, which would not have imparted much flavor.

The meal came with good mashers and a mixed steamed veg mixture. The mashers were hotter than heck and had a lot of flavor.

I got a bowl of potato cheese soup; it was OK, and was mostly cheese.

After the meal, I got a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, yum.

The service was excellent. I left about 1930, my check was $18.87. The Cafe was about 70% full. The place has wifi.

Classen Grill, Oklahoma City, OK

8 May 2010

Classen Grill on Urbanspoon

Classen Grill has been around forever. It used to be on Classen Circle, which got replaced with a much less interesting interchange.

My very cute and kidney-annoyed roommate and I were headed to her doctor appointment and decided to try Classen Grill.

We got there around 1230, the place was less than 10% full. We got a booth. I ordered iced tea, it was good.

Raegan ordered cheese sticks for an appetizer. After a bit, the server said they were out of cheese sticks, so we got chips and queso instead. That was some darn fine queso, it had a rich flavor and just a minimal touch of spice. The chips were good also.

Raegan got a club sandwich. She liked it, but was only able to eat part of it (the rest became dinner this evening). The meal came with “Classen Potatoes”, which were potato wedges and were very good.

I got a chicken fried steak. It was pretty darn good. The gravy was smooth and not peppery. I would rate that CFS as a 9 out of 10. The breading was tasty and not sweet. I’d gladly eat another one. I got mashed potatoes, they were kind of bland, but still got eaten.

The CFS came with a garden salad, the ranch dressing was EXCELLENT.

This was a delicious meal. Raegan wants to come back for a breakfast, and our good friend Jackie also told us later that the breakfasts there were wonderful. So that’s a mission!

Our check was just under $20. We left at 1335, and the place was pretty much empty (they close at 1400 M-W, then at 1500 the other days).

Sugar Pine Cafe, Mariposa, CA

3 May 2010

This was an excellent meal! After a quick visit to Yosemite, we were all hungry, and Dave had expressed a desire for steak. Fortunately, Sugar Pine Cafe fit the bill.

We got there about 2010. We had looked at menus in several other restaurants in Mariposa, and Sugar Pine fit the bill. There were maybe two tables occupied when we got there, and they left shortly after we arrived (no cause-and-effect, I’m sure).

The special was a new york steak. It came with herb butter and deep-fried shallots. All five of us got it. I got mine medium. That was a PERFECT steak. It was tender, had wonderful flavor, was a perfect medium with just the right amount of pink inside (no red). The herb butter was delicate and brought the flavor of the meat out. The shallots were a pleasant surprise, not too strong.

The steaks came with a side and asparagus. The asparagus was steamed and had a little butter on them. I ate every bit down to the stalks.

Everybody got some really good sourdough rolls, which were tasty.

They have real Coke, with real sugar, in bottles. I had one, and it was great! My main drink was iced tea, and it was made right there and was ice cold and tasty.

Overall, this was probably the best meal that I had on my week-long trip to the Sacramento area. I would recommend the Sugar Pine any time.

We left around 2115 and headed back to El Dorado Hills (conveniently, CA 49 goes right through Mariposa, and leads almost right back to EDH). My check was $23.98, which I think was an excellent value given the quality of the food we ate. The staff was all super nice, also.

Jimboy’s Tacos, Martell, CA

3 May 2010

A group of us were on the way to Yosemite, and needed to find something fairly fast. We drove by Jimboy’s and decided to give it a try.

I got one each chicken and ground beef Big Gordo. These were basically big-a burritos. They were really good. I got tea, and it was good. My check was $9.91.

The other four got a variety of things like enchiladas, and all said they were very good. The service was a little slow, but we didn’t lose too much time.

Buddy’s BBQ, Knoxville, TN

3 May 2010

Buddy's BBQ on Urbanspoon

I was supposed to fly into Nashville this afternoon for a conference, but horrible weather got me diverted to Knoxville. Before I got there, I did a bit of Googling from DFW and found some good references to Buddy’s. I went to the location on West End Avenue.

I got there about 2050, and the place was empty. I ordered the Combination, which is three meats. The three I got were pulled pork, chicken, and ribs.

It was an excellent meal! The pork was tender and had great smoke flavor. The first of the small ribs was a bit tough, but the other two were tender and fell off the bone (these were only about 3-4 inches long). The chicken was the best part. It was a full breast and wing. It had been roasted and and basted in BBQ. It was tender and juicy and excellent.

The BBQ sauce was interesting. The hot had no flavor, and wasn’t all that hot. The mild was based on mustard, I think. It reminded me of a BBQ sauce that I had at a place in O’Fallon, IL. It was a bit thin but had nice flavor.

The sides were both good – I got green beans and baked beans. The meal came with hush puppies (yes, I thought “what the heck?” also).

The tea was good – they had both unsweetened and sweetened.

I left at 2115 full and very happy. My check was $12.00, more than reasonable. I would recommend Buddy’s, it was great, and had great value!

Sienna Restaurant, El Dorado Hills, CA

29 April 2010

Sienna Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After our meetings were over for the day, I used Google Maps to find Sienna. It had good reviews and it was close.

A group of six work friends got there about 1730. The place was virtually empty.

Siennas is really nice inside. The wood was really pretty.

The menu was actually kind of limited, but had a variety of things that were kind of unusual, like pork T-Bone.

I ordered the wood-oven baked pepperoni pizza. It was excellent, and the perfect size for a single person. When I asked for Parmesan Cheese, it came grated, and was wonderful.

The iced tea was good if a bit weaker than I lke. The server kept it full, and that’s a Good Thing.

Gayle got the Skirt Steak and mashed potatos. I mention this because she and Clark didn’t finish it, so I did. It was excellent! The steak was very tender (almost easily fork tender) even though it was almost an inch thick. Really good taste. The mashers were really good also, obviously real potatoes that had been boiled. The way mashers should be made.

We left around 1830. Siennas was about 70% full. My check was $16.13 (and Gayle and Clark didn’t let me pay for the part of their food I ate).

Siennas has wifi (two channels, one open and one WPA), but the open channel wouldn’t connect. I mentioned it to our server and the hostess, but no one seemed able to reset it. I normally wouldn’t have cared, but the T-Mobile cell service was really bad – 3 bars outside the restaurant, NONE inside. So I really wanted to have my Blackberry VoIP over the wifi connection in case one of the other people tried to call. Everyone got there just fine, though.

Mama Ann’s Deli & Bakery, El Dorado Hills, CA

28 April 2010

Mama Ann's Deli & Bakery on Urbanspoon

Monday, I ate lunch here for the second time (the last time was a couple years ago). Mamas has great sandwiches. We got there around 1100, and the place was basically empty.

I ordered a chicken parmesan sandwich from the hot sandwich menu. It was really good, and just a bit messy (as it should be). I got some Miss Vickies sea salt chips and a large drink, which was great iced tea.

When we left around 1215, there were only two tables occupied, although a much larger number of people had been in to get take-away food. My check was $9.03.

On the way out, I got a refill, switching to Dr. Pepper (Mamas is a Pepsi location).

Strings Italian Cafe, El Dorado Hills, CA

28 April 2010

Strings Italian Cafe on Urbanspoon

I first ate at Strings a couple years ago since it was near my hotel. It was good and I have been back several times since. This evening after work, a big group of us (14) ate here after work.

We got there about 1730 and I think two tables were occupied. We left at 1900 and two tables were occupied.

The meal was started with a salad served family style. It was tossed with a creamy Italian dressing that was very good, sharp without being tart.

I ordered the Chicken Marsala. It was excellent! The chicken was hammered fairly flat and sauteed. The marsala wine was enhanced with a sort of alfredo sauce. It went really well together.

The meal came by default with some roast potatoes and asparagus. I asked for fetticine alfredo instead, and got a bunch of it. It was also excellent, with a generous helping of noodles and copious alfredo.

After the meal I got vanilla ice cream for dessert – yum.

Service was great, just fast enough. My iced tea ran out once, and was refilled in less then a minute. My check was $20.56. This place is recommended.

I’ve had spaghetti with meat sauce, chicken fettucine alfredo, and chicken parmesan here in the past. I keep coming back, so they were all good.

While looking for restaurants before we go there, I noted that there are numerous Strings locations in the Sacramento area.

Mark’s Sports Bar and Grill, Folsom, CA

26 April 2010

Mark's Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

I had a need for food after a fun round of golf yesterday afternoon. Mark’s is across the parking lot from my hotel, so off I went.

I got there around 2000, and left at 2055. The place had a couple in the corner when I got there, they left after about five minutes, and it was empty until I left.

I got iced tea to start. It was a concentrate I think. I switched to Coke for the rest of the meal.

I ordered the (according to the menu) famous Mark’s cheeseburger. It was served quickly. The burger was a little soft on the inside, and had an odd taste that I have tasted before, but didn’t recognize. It was not entirely pleasant, but it was not horrible either. The meat was only about 2/3 the size of the bun. The curger came with tomato and onion and pickle and such.

The fries were OK. They had paprika and seasoned salt on them.

The servers were really friendly. My check was $11.24.

The next time, I will likely try the chicken strips or one of the other menu items.

Brother Sebastion’s, Omaha, NE

23 April 2010

Brother Sebastian's Steak House on Urbanspoon

I ate at this place maybe 10 years or more ago. I think I was not impressed one way or the other.

We got here with a group of co-workers around 2000. The place was largely empty.

I ordered some fried mushrooms for the table. The breading was kind of thick and tasteless, while the shrooms were OK.

I ordered a T-Bone. Overall, it was good. The beef had good flavor, and was cooked medium like I asked. The strip side was not as tender as it could have been, borderline chewy in a number of places. The filet side was very good, tender and flavorful.

The meal came with two sides. I chose a double order of pasta, which was fettucine alfredo. It was not good. The noodles were decent enough, but the alfredo was not good at all. It has some odd taste, almost like seafood, and I did not like it.

The meal came with a salad bar that was kind of small, but what was there was good. The ranch dressing was excellent.

The iced tea was good and kept refilled.

We left about 2200. My check was $57.75, which included an $8.85 (~15%) forced tip. My views on these are already discussed, so I will likely not be back to this place ever again. The server would have had a bigger tip from me if it were not for the extorted tip.