Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chickie's and Pete's, Warrington, PA


Put the safety glasses and apron on because this could get ugly. We've passed by this place a few times since Chickie's and Pete's, a small, privately owned chain out of Philadelphia, took over this location from Ninety-Nine Restaurant. We tried to eat here a few of those times, but the place was packed and we didn't want to wait an hour to eat so we drove on. A packed house usually means good food so we kept it on our short list. Well, this time as we were passing we stopped and the place was nearly empty. Two other tables and us. 

We sat and were given the canned spiel by the waitress about how amazing their fries are, and that we should order some as an appetizer. We passed, ordered water, and looked over the menus. I decided on the bacon and blue cheese burger shown above and Teresa ordered a cheesesteak sandwich with fried onions. I thought about the cheesesteak with lobster, but thought again about how that odd combination might not be that good.  

Less than five minutes after we ordered the Cheesesteak arrived. It was a bit dry and had no side with it. As Teresa ate, the waitress came by and asked if it was okay. We inquired as to the whereabouts of my burger and she said, "Oh, I must have forgotten to tell you. We serve the food as it is done so it doesn't sit under the heat lamps." I've never heard of this before and I shook my head. What I told her, and if the owners are reading this please listen, is a radical method of ensuring fresh food delivery. It goes like this, when an order comes into the kitchen fire the item that takes the longest first, then fire the rest of the items according to the time needed. That way they all finish at the same time! Now, when you are extremely busy this may not work with an untrained and inexperienced staff, but when there are only three tables this should be easy.

You see, when two people go out to eat they want to eat at the same time. If one dish precedes the other by ten minutes what happens is that one person watches the other eat, and then the situation is reversed. It makes conversation difficult. I was glad I wasn't with a large group or we'd still be there waiting for an order. 

Now when the burger finally arrived it was a bit disappointing. I ordered medium and it was closer to well-done. On top of that, it had no fries, chips or anything that resembled a side. Well, two slices of pickle and a cherry pepper were on the plate, but I really don't think of them as sides. Yes, I did read the menu and it mentioned nothing about getting one, but I assumed there would be something, especially at $9.00. If I added fries it would have been over $14.00. Taste and quality (they claim it to be a half-pound ground sirloin, but I'd say it was frozen) was nowhere near the price point. At best it should have been six bucks, and I'd only consider it marginally good at that price point.

And lastly the waitress presented us with the bill. Unfortunately the bill was for another table (remember there were only two other tables). When I pointed it out to her, she said she never makes mistakes and apologized. Too bad it happened when a food critic was her table. As we passed a table on the way out I saw fries on their table. They looked like frozen fries with Old Bay seasoning on them. I was glad we didn't order them.

About a half-hour after we left I was hungry. The only thing that reminded me of the fact that I'd eaten was the greasy after-taste of the burger. Seriously, I went to a restaurant and I was hungry after I left? 

The bottom line? If I were in my twenties and out with a few of the guys to have a couple of beers and watch the game this might be an okay place. No not really, I'd find a better place, like the Brick House a few miles down the road. For a couple or a family this restaurant is overpriced, overrated and a must-miss. I'm thinking of doing a 'worst of 2012' and Chickie's and Pete's may win.

Chickie's and Pete's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Cascada Mexican Restaurant, Beacon, NY

Cascadas Mexican Restaurant is located at 424 Main Street in Beacon and we've been meaning to try them for some time now. Twice we went by and they were crowded and once we stopped on a night they were closed. Well, we finally got there and it was worth the effort.


Inside it is small, seating thirty or so including the bar, but there are tables outside. It is clean, uncluttered and has mexican music playing. After looking over the menu (not a huge menu) I got the shrimp tacos at $12.95 and Teresa had the enchiladas at $9.95. We stuck with water (there was no ice in it) and we were brought a bowl of nachos and salsa. The salsa was good with just the right amount of heat. You only get one round though, more costs extra.

My three shrimp tacos were quite good. The shrimp tasted fresh and there was ample fresh avocado on them. They were a bit dry until I added the delightful spicy avocado on the side (it might have been meant for the enchiladas) and that added just the right kick. 

The food was really good, the service so-so (our waitress seemed to be infected with a touch of ennui), the ambiance was okay and the prices were good. Overall quite nice and we will go back. They have a website for more information.


Cascadas Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 27, 2012

Yard House, West Nyack, NY

Before I start this I have to make a few things clear. First, this is not really a review since the restaurant won't open until the day after I post this. We were at a preview. Second, I was invited to this preview so it isn't like I went in for dinner and wrote about it. Last, they served mini versions of the food, samples. Everything served was on the menu, but the portions were smaller. Notice the photos which are not quite up to my standards, but they give you an idea. That said, the Yard House was quite good and we will be back again to eat in a few months. I've already chosen a few items to try. 

Yard House is in the Palisades Mall, on the fourth floor, and is very large. It is part of a chain that is opening a few more places in the future, one of which will be in North Carolina. Inside it is quite large and roomy with many televisions tuned to sports and the news, a very large bar with plenty of drat handles, clean bathrooms and a high ceiling. Wood, metal and ceramics working together to create a warm and inviting atmosphere.

As  food blogger I was treated as a media representative and we were given a reserved table. The first item I sampled was a burger. Well, it was a quarter of a slider but there was more than enough to convince me that they make a darn good burger. The meat was of good quality and cooked perfectly for my liking. I had another sample before we left and that was even better than the first.

 We looked through the massive menu, a large part of it given over to the beer and drink menus, and I decided on a Founder's Centennial, a bitters. Teresa ordered a mixed drink called a Limeade. While we waited I walked around the bar and looked at all of the draft handles. Hundreds of them fed by tubes from a cooler room containing the kegs. I'd hate to be the guy who has to clean them, but it makes for a huge selection of cold draft beers. 
There were many samples offered to us and we partook of most of them. The pizza was okay, the salad good, the Korean meat good, the tuna (shown above) amazing, the crab cakes delightful and the salmon (shown below) excellent. We liked the egg roll and there was some sort of cervice as well that was quite good. It must have been, I ate a few pieces. 
For my second beer I went for an Arrogant Bastard form Stone's in California (see below) partly because I like it, but mostly because I like to say that. Very good, but my next beverage was coffee because I had an hour drive home. Teresa ordered a different mixed drink that she didn't like as much as the first. 

Our server was a nice young man named Chris, but there were several people who waited on us as well. I must say that the staff seemed enthusiastic, pleasant and knowledgable. They must have hired well, and more importantly trained them well. 

Our overall impression was that Yard House is very good. Service excellent, food very good, beer selection amazing and nice ambiance. 

Here's the website for more information.


Yard House - West Nyack on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rye House, Union Square, NYC

We were down in the City for the day and met our son at Union Square where he works for one of the local farms, local to us that is. I left it up to Mark as to where to eat since he knows the area. I said I wanted a nice place, American Cuisine with a good beer selection. He led us a block down the street to The Rye House.

Inside the restaurant is full of wood and has a certain warmth to it. The front is dedicated to the bar and has some high-tops to sit at, that's where we sat. In the back is an ample dining room. The bar is well stocked and they have some quite nice Scotch whisky listed, as well as a fine selection of beers. Mark and I both got a pint of Ruination IPA.
We all got burgers. I added blue cheese and bacon to mine, Teresa got hers without cheese and Mark had bacon and cheddar. The base price is $12.00 and the additions drove the price of mine up to   $15.50. Bear in mind, this is Manhattan so the price is not at all unreasonable.

It was quite nice and it was the medium that I ordered. The meat was of good quality, the bacon crisp, the cheese melted just so, the bun fresh and the fries hot and crispy. The burger wasn't huge, I'd guess it to be about six ounces.

Overall, a nice place in the city for something to eat, or a drink. 


Rye House on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Burgers for a Buck- Hardee's


Hardee's started in Greenville, North Carolina in the 60's and now has a little less than 2,000 restaurants. The one I went to was the one on College in Wilmington, NC, near UNCW. The burger shown above was $1.29 but I included it because they often have a 2 for $2.00 special on them. 



Bun- 4
Condiments- 5-Good pickles.
Meat- 4
Presentation- 3
Aftertaste- 5, no repeats
Overall taste- 23 It tasted like it was steamed before serving, not a bad thing in this case.

Total Score- 44 out of 50

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bojangle's, Ogden

Bojangle's chicken is my favorite. It's kind of like crack poultry. Every Sunday when I'm in Wilmington I get a family pack after church and I just can't get enough. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Marc's on Market, Wilmington, NC

I have heard good things about Marc's on Market, many good things, so we decided to stop by one Saturday evening at about 5:30. The restaurant sits in a strip mall in Ogden and is very simple outside. Inside it is simple, yet tastefully decorated in an unassuming manner. In fact everything about this place is unassuming which allows the amazing food to shine through.

We were greeted as we entered and asked if we had a reservation, to which we replied that we did not. The girl then said we could sit at a table in the bar area where it would be quieter anyway (there was no one at the bar) so we agreed and had that section to ourselves until a party of three arrived as we were finishing. We chose a table by the window, all the better to take food pictures, and were given water, menus and some really good bread. 
We looked over the menus, Marc's has a limited menu and as long as there are things I like on it that is a good thing since you know they are concentrating on doing a few things right instead of lots of things medicre. I decided to try a cup of the soup, a creamy tomato with truffle oil, and it was quite tasty. Light, yet flavorful.  
For her entree Teresa chose the pork tenderloin. She said it was delicious and I tasted a piece and agreed. Tender, moist and the perfect taste. It was sitting on a mixture of sweet and mashed potatoes (looking like a cream-sickle) and tasted sweet and creamy. She said it was one of the best tenderloins she'd had.
As for me, I debated between the Divers Scallops, the grouper and the short ribs. I decided on the grouper and I have to say that I made an excellent choice. I am certain that the scallops would have been delightful, but the grouper was magnificent. It was perfectly cooked with plenty of butter and oil and crusted in a spinach and Panko mixture. There are roasted cherry tomatoes and fingerling potatoes (both white and dark). 
Then we did something we do not ordinarily do, we ordered a desert. The espresso creme broulee shown above. It was light, yet sweet. Cold on the bottom and warm on the top, a perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Overall impressions? Ambiance good, service excellent (Sarah took very good care of us and was warm and friendly), food amazing, prices fair. Everything I'd heard about Marc's on Market was true and I am a new fan. Try them soon and you will be too. 


Marc's On Market on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 6, 2012

Osteria Cicchetti, Wilmington, NC

We were debating where to go for dinner Friday evening, we wanted to try someplace new, and we narrowed it down to two choices. One was the Kitchen, the renaissance of The Grand Union, and the other was Osteria Cicchetti in the same plaza, and both owned by the same people as Circa 1922, the Ash Aziz group.

Bread
We took a look at the menu of the Market and we walked down to Osteria. After looking over their menu we decided that it was the better choice for us that evening. We were more in the mood for Italian. There wasa twenty-five minute wait for a table inside, however we could be seated outside right away. The weather had cooled a bit so we took a table in front. 

Calamari

We were brought menus and Clay stopped by and introduced himself as our waiter while he poured ice water and left a bottle of it. He answered a few questions and gave us time to pontificate on what we wanted. He also brought us the magnificent bread shown above. We decided to start off with the calamari appetizer at $9.00. It was large and not greasy at all, but it was a bit salty in taste. It came with a marinara sauce that was a bit watery and a mayo sauce with a hint of horseradish. Not bad, but the calamari at Circa was better.
Veal Saltimboca
Teresa decided on the eggplant Entree at $14.00 after we saw a waitress deliver one to a table near us. The portion was large and it was served on a bed of spaggetti. I asked Teresa how it was and she replied, "okay." I sampled and I agreed. It was okay, but nothing really special. I thought it could have used some more seasoning. 

Eggplant

I chose the Veal Satimboca at $17.50, one of my favorites. I've had this dish at over twenty restaurants and I have seen twenty different interpretations of it. What most of the variations are is in the sauce used. Here they used a red wine/balsamic vinegar reduction that would be better served with Osco Busco or another hearty meat. In a delicate veal dish (yes, I am aware that Osco usually uses veal shank) it tends to add to much acidity and overpowers the meat. I found it good, and I finished it, but a bit too much acidity and the flavor notes were overpowering. So much so that I wanted to brush my teeth after eating. Saltimboca means 'leaps to your mouth' and the dish should do just that. I have had many interpretations of this dish that I wanted to savor the flavor of that last bite as long as possible, but not so here.

The service was excellent. The food was good, not stellar. The atmosphere was okay outside, but it looked nice when I went in to use the very clean men's room. Prices were moderate. Would we go back? Yes. Would we rush back? No. I think Terrazzo Trattoria is better. 

Osteria Cicchetti on Urbanspoon

Burgers for a Buck- Cookout


Cookout is a privately owned chain of about a hundred restaurants mostly in NC, SC, Tennessee and Virginia. It is usually found as a double drive through. 

This one almost didn't make it as I saw the price of a hamburger on the menu listed at $1.19, which would disqualify them from the competition. I ordered two anyway, along with a small soda and when I read the receipt the burgers were billed at $.99 each. 

Bun- 5
Condiments- 5- you choose what you want and I ordered mine with ketchup, mustard and pickles. Good pickles.
Meat- 5- Fresh, not frozen. Char grilled like your own backyard.
Presentation- 4 I ordered two and photographed the less photogenic of the two
Aftertaste- 3 It repeated later.
Overall taste- 25

Total Score- 47 out of 50

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Flaming Amy's


I just liked this picture and wanted to share it. Best burrito place anywhere!

Burgers for a Buck- Wendy's

Wendy's started in Ohio and has close to 7,000 locations. It usually sits at number three in the fast food burger realm. The one I went to for this burger was in Poughkeepsie, NY on Rt 9.

Bun- 3- a bit stale
Condiments- 3
Meat- 2- overcooked hockey puck
Presentation- 4
Aftertaste- 3- it repeated 
Overall taste- 15

Score- 30 out of 50


Monday, July 2, 2012

Burgers for a Buck- Checkers


There are 815 Checkers and Rally Restaurants in the United States. It is primarily a Drive-through place, but there is a walk-up window and most of them have some tables outside to eat at. The one I went to is on Oleander in Wilmington, NC. For a buck you can get the basic cheeseburger and I had two of them. 

Bun- 5 points- Fresh with sesame seeds
Condiments- 4 points- Plenty of pickles, a tad too much ketchup
Meat- 5 Points
Presentation- 4 points
Aftertaste- 5 points- There was no greasy after taste 
Overall taste- 20 points

Total points- 43 out of fifty

Best Burger for a Buck- The Ground Round Rules


This summer I will be doing two burger competitions so cheap burger posts will be interspaced with my regular restaurant reviews. 

The first is “Best Burger for a Buck” and will feature one-dollar burgers at fast food chains. The only rule is that it has to be a buck before tax.

The ratings are as follows:

Bun- five points
Condiments- five points
Burger- five points
Presentation- five points
Overall taste- twenty-five points
Aftertaste- five points (The higher the number means less aftertaste)

This adds up to fifty points and the winner will be the burger with the highest rating. The burgers will come from fast food chains such as the Clown, The King, The Redhead and regional chains. It will be a truly random sampling and they have one shot to be perfect. No pressure. 

The second competition will be burgers under five bucks. Oh the sacrifices I make for my readers.