Monday, September 28, 2009

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Poughkeepsie NY




I know, I said I don't usually do a Zagat rated restaurant, but this place is different. Five Guys Burgers and Fries has won accolades all over and I'm about to add mine.

This chain started in the DC area a few years back and it is growing fast. It isn't a typical fast food joint as many locations are in an office building, as well as the free-standing ones. They have a successful business model. Do one thing, do it right, and be consistent. They have burgers, dogs, soda and fries. That's it. Nothing complicated, nothing fancy. Just good food served right.

A regular hamburger has two patties and the little hamburger has one. They are all cooked well done for safety reasons, and to make the operation simpler. This way when the order is placed it's simply a matter of how many patties they have to make. Then you can add any of fifteen toppings, ketchup, mustard, peppers, onions (grilled or raw), etc, plus the cheese and bacon if you ordered that. Sodas are large and regular, as are the fries. The fries come or Five Guys Style, or Cajun. Regular or large. Regular size is plenty enough for two people to share.

We've been to the Poughkeepsie location twice now, and found it to be great both times. You place the order and they tell you your order number (it's on the receipt too) and the approximate wait time, and have a seat. On the way you can pick up some roasted peanuts in the shell to pass the time. Five minutes or so later, and they call your number. Each order is cooked fresh. I usually get the little burger as I'd rather have two of them than a single regular burger. The burger is good too.

Stop by at your local Five Guys for a nice burger. Check out the website to find one.

Update 12/19/08- I went here with seven people who have never been to a Five Guys before and they were impressed. We had all been at a party, and ate there, but we managed to chow down pretty well. I ate two burgers and even though I was stuffed, I could have had another. These are probably the best 'fast food' burgers out there.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Red Lobster, Middletown

My Mother-in-law was over and we, my wife and I that is, decided we should go out to eat. Mom loves shrimp, and Red Lobster has that never-ending-shrimp special going on so . . . well there we were.

First I have to tell you that the staff was great. We were seated right away and our waitress took good care of us. We decided on the never-ending shrimp (I was actually considering getting a lobster tail and a steak, but changed my mind). Well our waitress kept coming back to refill our water, and our shrimp.

The shrimp comes several ways, and you start with two, and refill with any choice. I tried them all. In order of favorite:
1. Cajun on rice pilaf
2. Scampi swimming in butter
3. Fried
4. Teriyaki
5. Coconut

None of them are truly stellar, the food is good, hot and prepared right, but Red Lobster isn't a great seafood place. It's a good seafood place. We did eat our fill however and left quite a few spent shrimp tails on the bread plates. Maybe next time I will get the tail, or try the new grilled menu.


Red Lobster on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 24, 2009

MacDonald's, Chicago



At the intersection of Clark and Ontario Streets in Chicago sits the biggest Mac shack I've ever seen, and one of the best. It's actually a museum as well with some interesting pictures and memorabilia all over. On the first floor is the regular food area and there is a second floor where they serve gelato. Gelato at a Mac Donald's is pretty cool. Almost as cool as getting a beer in the London locations. The view from the second floor is good. Check it out when you're in town.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Billy Goat Tavern and Grill, Chicago



Okay, remember that old Saturday Night Live skit with Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi in the diner saying, "Cheezborger, cheezeborger, Pepsi, Pepsi. Cheeps, no fries"? Well, this is the place that inspired that skit. The Billy Goat is also famous for the curse on the Cubs causing the drought in World Series appearances. Those two thing are enough to make a visit to one of their locations a 'must' when you're in Chicago.

There are a few locations. Stay away from the one on Navy Pier, they jacked up the prices for the tourists. Stay away from the one on Michigan too. They play up the Saturday Night Live skit a bit too much and get obnoxious about it. Maybe some of you like to be insulted at restaurants, but I don't. It doesn't add any charm. The one to go to is the one by the Opera House on West Washington, or the one over on South Wells. Going in is like stepping into the 1940's. Bar, grill, atmosphere. You may feel like a newspaper reporter taking a quick lunch between stories.

Food is somewhere between okay and good. Every day they have a special, like double burgers, or triple burgers, and they have a nice supply of pickles to put on your burger. The fries are good too, and they have a few other choices.

It's not great, but it can be fun (of course this may bring a curse on me, but I'm not seeking a pennant). Check out their website for more info.


Billy Goat Tavern on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder


One time when we were visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Chicago we were watching the Food Network and Rachel Ray was doing her Tasty Travels in Chicago. One of the restaurants featured was the Chicago Oven Grinder on Clark Street. It looked interesting, so we decided to give it a try. Plus there was the draw of the building being across from the site of the Valentine's Day massacre, with the building the restaurant is in having been a lookout. That appealed to the historian in me. Once we got there it was apparent the whole city saw the episode and thought the same thing.

Brian and I dropped of Teresa and Nicole and went out to find a place to park. we got one a few blocks away and when we got back Teresa said the wait was about an hour and a half. After discussion, we decided that by the time we went to get the car, decided where to go, and drove there we'd have to wait someplace else. We stayed. Now they didn't take our name, the man at the door just looked at my wife's face and said he'd remember her. He did. We were called in right after the people who got there before us, and right before the people who came after. Interesting.

Once inside the smell of the food, make even stronger by the wait, was amazing. It was also small, so I can see why there was a wait. We ordered the pizzas and a couple of oven grinders. The pizzas were different. Kind of like a Chicago deep dish pizza served upside down in a bowl, with the crust on top. Think pizza pot pie and you have the visual. We shared the one pounder, and a half-pounder. The oven grinders are baked heros, subs, grinders, hoagie, or whatever you call them where you live. Very good, and very filling. We split the Italian combo on this one.

An interesting side story here. If you note on the right of this blog I have some books featured. I write a mystery series called the Maria Hart Mysteries. I have an image of what she looks like, as well as her husband. While standing in line for the bathroom (they have a one-hole men's room) I was behind a man who was exactly what I thought Dan Hart should look and sound like. I looked over at his table later and his wife wasn't Maria though. Too bad.

Anyway, the food was great and well worth the wait. Check them out sometime and visit their website for more information.


Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co. on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 18, 2009

Aladdin’s Eatery, Chicago


In Lincoln Park, at 614 W Diversey Pkwy, there is a really good Middle Eastern place called Aladdin’s Eatery. They have locations all over Ohio, parts of Maryland, and Western Pennsylvania, but only one in Chicago. They specialize in vegetarian, but there are lamb and chicken dishes.

My favorites? Start with the Falaffel Salad, which is four Falaffel patties on a bed of mixed greens with cucumbers, scallions, and sliced tomato and feta cheese with Tahini on the side. Then have the Shwarma, lightly seasoned beef and lamb strips, greens, tomato, onion, turnips, pickles, and parsley topped with Tahini Yogurt dressing, rolled in a pita. I also like to add a side of grape leaves to fill it out. Another favorite is the Baba Pocket which is Baba layered with mixed greens, sliced tomato, cucumber, scallions, and alfalfa sprouts served in a whole pita with choice of dressing.


  • Stop Aladdin's sometime for a nice change of pace. The food is good, the prices are right, and the service is good. Check out their website for more info.


Flat Top Grill, Chicago

One of my favorite restaurants in Chicago is the Flat Top Grill over in Lakeview at 3200 Southport Avenue. They have a few other locations, but I’ve been to this one a few times and enjoyed it every time. It’s an interesting ‘create your own’ stir-fry restaurant.

What you do is this; take a wooden stick from your table and write your name on it, then bring it to the food line with you. Take a bowl and put in your veggies, ladle in the sauce you want, add meats, stick in colored sticks for additional add-ons, like shrimp, stab your stick with your name on it, and put the bowl by the large flat top (hence the name) grill. They’ll stir-fry it and bring it to your table. Can’t figure out what you want to create? Well, they have recipes posted giving the ingredients and portions on the wall above the food. Oh, and you can keep going back for more to try different combinations. They also have a full bar.

Give Flat Top a visit and I think you’ll like it. Check out their website for more info.


Flat Top Stir-Fry Grill on Urbanspoon