Monday, October 31, 2011

Magnolia Cafe for breakfast

Magnolia Cafe on Lake Austin Boulevard is one of Austin's few 24 hour diners and they sling so good grub day in and day out.  My first experience was almost a decade ago.  It was brunch time and they were packed but I don't remember it taking too long to get a booth.  They had run out of Hollandaise sauce and the waitress kept apologizing. I don't think they have that on the menu anymore but it was really good Eggs Benedict or whatever they called it at the time.  I do remember it was good and I enjoyed the experience so I've been back many times.

About a year ago Steph and I stayed up late on a weekend and decided to grab a bite to eat in the wee hours of the morning.  Nothing better than seeing how silly people will act after a night at the club.  Steph just had to try their gingerbread pancakes and didn't stop talking about them for a week.  I had something off the breakfast menu though I'm not sure what it was now.  All I remember is gingerbread pancakes, two older guys talking local politics and a young couple that wouldn't stop giggling.  Again, I had a good time, the staff was great and we left happy.  They are setting the bar pretty high at this point.

Now it's a few days ago.  Steph wanted to try the Eggscape, probably because it reminded her of the band Journey and well she loves breakfast concoctions.  The Eggscape is a couple fried eggs sitting on a mound of fresh cut home fries that are nicely seasoned and mixed with a bunch of breakfast sausage.  Then they cover it with a blend of jack and cheddar cheese.  She didn't stop saying, "Mmmmmm" for the entire meal.  I'll say she liked it.  I had the jalapeno cheeseburger, medium rare.  It was cooked perfectly and the meat was nice and fresh.  The vegetables and bun were fresh and everything tasted great.  I had home fries for my side and they were nice and soft with just the right amount of seasoning.  I added a little ketchup but not too much, I still wanted to taste the seasoning.

The staff was nice and friendly and kept our drinks filled so once again everything went great on our outing to Magnolia Cafe.  It's just a solid little diner.

Have a good day!

Magnolia Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hut's brings back Happy Days before they jumped the shark

The Grumpy Fat man might be a bit old but I'm not old enough to remember malt shops and sock hops.  If you don't know what I'm talking about then you probably don't remember rotary phones or TVs without a remote.   I guess you could say Hut's is Austin's answer to a theme restaurant but without the silliness.  I like that they knew the perfect balance of kitsch without being tacky.  Yeah, I know that last sentence doesn't quite make sense but you know what I mean don't you?  Maybe I'm channeling my wife here.

The first thing I noticed in the menu is Hut's knows traditional hamburger dressing.  Mustard, pickle, onion is called the Mel's and lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise is the Big Bopper.  They also have a wide assortment of everything in between  like a classic hickory burger called the Alan Freed or a mushroom and cheddar called the Milner's.  Steph picked the Alan Freed and I went with the Hut's Favorite, it's a Big Bopper with bacon.  We both ordered medium rare.  It was a Saturday and they were a little busy so we had to wait a bit but it was worth it.

Both burgers came out cook perfectly.  Steph liked the hickory sauce and said it wasn't the cheap stuff.  I think that means it was more like a KC Masterpiece kind of sweet sauce like you would expect on a hickory burger.  My burger was just as good.  The fresh hamburger, the crispy bacon with the lettuce and tomato surrounded by a fresh bun with a little mayo.  Delicious.  For sides Steph had fries and I had onion rings.  I really liked the onion rings, they are sliced rather thick and have a good peppery coating. Steph liked their fries too, which isn't always a given so they must be better than average.  The menu doesn't say if they make them in-house but they were good.

Even though they were busy the staff buzz around like a swarm of bees taking orders, filling drinks and serving up the food with a smile.  Good times all around at Hut's.

Have a great weekend!

Hut's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Black Star Co Op Pub and Brewery really proves the coop model works

It was later in the evening and the place we wanted to try was closed.  The hours on their website were wrong.  That seems to be a problem with many restaurants in town.  Luckily for us Black Star Pub and Brewery was open and I'm happy to say I really loved this place.  Pub food, good beer, pleasant surroundings, did I mention good beer?

We started out trying a few of their beers an Elba and a darker beer which name escapes me.  Also tried a Hubris that night as it was new and the bartender kind of pushed it.  Steph liked the Elba.  It was light and crisp with just enough hops and a hint of citrus.  Very refreshing.  The dark beer was nice and malty with a strong hops.  I just love those beers that taste like a big glass of Roman Meal bread.  I didn't try the Hubris until after dinner but I'll mention it now.  The big deal about this beer is the way they hop it.  The hops are picked at a farm in Washington state and immediately shipping to Black Star where they add them to the waiting beer.  It adds several extra flavors to the beer and I'll have to say it was a really good pint.  So far I'm very impressed by Black Star but the real test will come when I get my old friend Chris down here again and have him do some tastings.

On to the food.  I had a burger and Steph had the pulled pork sandwich.  I'll tell you right now that both of these were awesome.  Totally.  They cooked the burger medium rare and it was nice, thick and juicy.  The meat was fresh and I may have heard it moo once just before I took the first bite.  It really tasted that fresh.  The fries were good too.  They had a nice seasoning on them and were also hot and fresh.  Steph loved the pulled pork sandwich, especially the sweet bun it came on.  Everything was just nice and balanced.  You could tell they put some thought and love into their food.  Steph didn't eat her slaw so I finished that off too.  It was a tangy slaw that would have gone very well with the pork but I ate it with the burger.  A little more vinegar than I'm used to but again it was supposed to be eaten with the pulled pork sandwich which makes perfect sense.

They have counter service to order and get beers but they'll bring out the food to your table.  And forget about leaving a tip, they won't take your money.  And they won't take it with a smile.  It's nice to see a place that keeps that part of the restaurant world real.  I've gotten so tired of the tip jar at the counter and bad service around this town but I'll always give credit where it's due and Black Star Coop does have great service along with great beer and great food.  Give them a try sometime and you might even invest in the company.


Black Star Co-Op Pub & Brewery on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Big Daddy's can't take honest criticism

Before I get to my review I noticed a couple of behaviors of the owner that I think need to be addressed.  On their facebook page they regularly cleanse the comments of less than glowing reviews.  When I asked them why they can't take honest criticism they told me they sent my comments straight to the owner.  When I asked them why they only deleted negative comments they just deleted my question.  As a veteran I believe in the Constitution and especially free speech.  Now sure, that just means the government can't arrest you for speaking your mind but Big Daddy's parent restaurant Nutty Brown held a Tea Party rally recently.  How can you support a movement that claims to love the Constitution and it's principles but still censor a veteran of his honest opinion of their food?  Just something to think about.  Let me know what you think about my view, I'd really like to know if you think it matters.  Now on to the show...

This was our second try at Big Daddy's Burgers and Bar and it hasn't gotten any better.  Our first experience was filled with overcooked burgers and grease soaked onion rings, this time it's over cooked burgers and over cooked fries.  And even a few of the fries were raw in the middle.  Don't even ask me how you overcook a fry and it's still raw.  Well actually I know.  They hand cut the fries at Big Daddy's but have absolutely no care for consistency so some are big, some are small, some are in between and none of them are done right.  And while we're on the subject of consistency let's discuss the waiters asking how I'd like my burger cooked.  Medium Rare doesn't mean a grey brown center with little juice.  That's called Well Done.  And you're batting 4 out of 4 on this one.  Steph and I have ordered 4 different burgers over two trips and all 4 were Well Done.  I even tried to make myself believe my Bad Boy Grilled Cheese Burger was just medium but Steph just wouldn't let me lie to myself.  It was overcooked and I was sad.  I ate it all though because it was still pretty good.  Not good enough for the prices you charge but pretty good nonetheless.  Honestly for the quality of the food coming out of the kitchen I'd say you charge twice as much as you're worth.  I also had a problem with your definition of 1/2 pound burger.  Looks more like a 1/3 pound to me or perhaps other burger places just make theirs bigger and fatter.  Just look at Steph's pic here and compare it to a burger from Bacon here. They both claim 1/2 pound on the menu but the difference is stunning.

Steph had the Meat Peeper Burger. She liked it to a degree but as we're realizing all the specialty burgers aren't well balanced in flavor.  They sound great on paper but the execution is certainly lacking.  The Meat Peeper Burger has crispy pork and duck confit with bacon and pepperoni too.  Steph said it was like eating a pork chop on top of a burger or "meat overload."  Now to be fair she orders burgers plain and dry so keep that in mind.  They did overcook the burger and it didn't look near 1/2 pound but I've already been over that.  She barely touched her fries so that was a waste.

Now for the good things about Big Daddy's.  The wait staff is excellent and helpful and even have a great sense of humor when they slip and drop a bunch of dishes on the floor.  Actually I don't remember what she said but we laughed with her.  They keep your drinks filled and really want you to have a good time.  Our second trip was on a Tuesday, I think, and they were playing a trivia game for prizes.  Ten random trivia questions one round, Ten 80's songs on the next round.  Steph and I really had fun trying to remember a few of those 80's songs.  See if you remember who sang Midnight Blue without hitting the internet.

Overall I'll still stick with overpriced and poorly cooked food but they do have a great atmosphere so there is hope.  Maybe we'll try them again if they offer another coupon to bring us back one more time.

BTW, Midnight Blue was by Lou Gramm of Foreigner fame.  What other bands did you like in the 80's?

Big Daddy's Burgers & Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arby's now says it's good mood food

I've always enjoyed the Arby's roast beef sandwich.  That thinly sliced handful of tasty beef just hit's the spot sometimes.  This was one of those days.  Steph had worked late and wanted to grab a quick bite so we headed over to the Arby's off I35 north of Parmer.  It's always clean and the staff is pleasant so we know we'll be in and out with little worry.  Today was no exception.

As we walked in Steph noticed they now have onion rings.  I didn't order any but that will be a nice side to go with the sandwich.  We both ordered Beef and Cheddar with curly fries and a Coke.  And while I'm thinking about it, when did they start putting the Arby Sauce on the sandwiches?  Being from Tulsa they never put sauce on the sandwich but in Austin they do.  I love the sauce but as you know Steph gets everything plain so she had a bad experience the first time she went to Arby's in Austin.

As we expected the sandwich was good.  The meat sliced thin and tender, hot, tasty and covered in cheese sauce.  The fries were hot and fresh out of the frier.  The Coke cold and oddly strong for a corporate place.

Well, I don't have much more to say about Arby's.  They've been consistently good all these years and I don't see that changing any time soon.

It's a short post kind of day.  See you tomorrow.

Arby's on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 24, 2011

Four Seasons Chinese has the dish I crave

I've found I eat more vegetables, and enjoy them, at Chinese restaurants.  Sure it's Americanized and not really "Chinese" but who cares about that as long as I eat more veggies!  Can I get a what what on that?  In fact I've actually been known to order vegetarian dishes at Chinese restaurants when I'm having a meatless day.  In fact I've cut meat out of one meal everyday for over a year now.  How's that for being healthy?  Now let's talk about Four Seasons Chinese, a little place right next door to It's Italian at the corner of  Bratton Lane and Merrittown Drive.

Four Seasons Chinese has to be one of the most inviting and pleasant restaurants in town.  At least for the places the Grumpy Fat Man goes.  They had more take out business than dine in so we were seated immediately and presented with a nice sized menu of dishes.  They have all the dishes you would expect for a Chinese place, including duck, but one dish jumped out at me.  Four Seasons Delight.  I've always loved that dish.  Well, the version I grew up on was called Triple Fragrance and #23 depending on where I was dining but this was the same dish.  They even added an extra protein, scallops, to make it even better.  This dish is probably an example of all the things wrong with America, it has beef, chicken, pork, shrimp and scallops in a medley of vegetables all covered in a nice spicy brown sauce.  I like the extra heat from the dish, the different flavors from each meat and then the crunch of the vegetables.  They all come together and each bite is just a bit different from the last all the way through the meal.  I just never get bored with this dish.  That must be why I like it.  Have you ever been eating a nice big well cooked steak and halfway through you just get tired of it?  Seems crazy but that happens to me more often than I'd like.  Not with the Four Seasons Delight.

Steph ordered her Chinese food staple, Sesame Chicken.  At first glance I was worried due to the color of the sauce but she really loved it.  The thing that stood out when I tried a bite was the coating on the chicken was nice and crunchy even near the end of the meal.  And it tasted more like Southern fried chicken coating than that panko crusted chicken we're used to.  I thought it was a nice touch.  The sauce had a nice sweet flavor to it though it wasn't the most rich sauce we've seen.  It did go well with the chicken and I'll say it was unique to the restaurant so I doubt you'll find that exact flavor with that exact frying technique anywhere else in town.  It's always nice to find a place that can differentiate themselves from the herd.

As I mentioned before the staff is warm and inviting.  They kept our glasses of tea filled and asked if we would like some extra rice or if we needed anything else so the service is excellent.  By the time we left I felt like we had made friends with the nicest family on the block.  That's just not something you can fake.

Have a good evening.

You can read Steph's review of Four Seasons Chinese here. And she has pictures too!

Four Seasons Chinese on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tony C's Coal Fired Pizza is most improved

Tony C's is my new pick for most improved restaurant this month.  Steph and I went when they were first opened and didn't really like the experience.  The waitress played the hard sell and basically told us we ordered wrong when we turned down her appetizer suggestion and built our own pizza.  It took over a year before we decided to try them again.  Well, over a year to forget and a nice coupon.  I'm glad to say they have raised the bar on service and their food quality is very high as well.

We were greeted at the door and seated right away.  The place is kind of small, oddly shaped and the tables are very close together but somehow they make it work.  We sat at a table right by the pass so I thought we were in for a night of loud waiters and people standing over us while we ate but I was wrong.  The manager seemed to notice and quieted the area down.  I appreciated that.  If there was one gripe about staff for the night it would be that while we were eating about a half dozen kids came in and all congregated by the POS / drink station.  They all had cups and were filling them with soda and talking.  Seems they were there for a staff meeting.  It seemed a bit inappropriate for them to walk in off the street and use the drink gun without first washing their hands and such.  It's a nit but there's a reason they have wash your hands signs in restaurants.  I'm writing this post the following day of our visit so no harm done as Steph and I are still alive and well.

Our waiter came over after a few minutes and took our drink order and asked if we had any questions.  He was pleasant and did a good job throughout the evening.  We ordered a couple Cokes and decided on our pizza.  Double pepperoni with roasted garlic.  Large.  I ordered a 1/2 house salad with Italian dressing.  The salad was served within minutes.  I really loved the tangy and herbed flavor of their dressing.  It was a little stronger in flavor than most.  The salad was full of different greens, roasted peppers, onions, garbanzo beans, pepperoncini, cherry tomatoes and a little sprinkling of mozzarella.  It was probably big enough for two so that was nice.  The only thing I didn't like, and this wasn't too big a deal, were the big fibrous veins in the lettuce.  They should have cut them up a little more is all as it made it hard to eat.  Yeah I know and no my mommy doesn't cut up my steak anymore either.  I admit it's a nit but these were really big veins.

Our pizza came out as soon as I finished my salad.  It was a nice New York style thin crust and more than piping hot.  The pepperonis had a little burn on them, like we want, and the crust was nice an crispy.  I really enjoyed the sauce.  It tasted fresh and wasn't overly seasoned which complimented the pepperonis very well.  They put the sauce on the bottom so the crust gets a nice chew to it with a crispy bottom.  By the end of the meal it's more chew than crisp but still very enjoyable.  There was plenty of cheese but not too much.  Steph said she felt it was a very balanced flavor between all the components.  And they have real roasted garlic!  The big pieces that just melt in your mouth.  Some places say they have roasted garlic and then just put some minced garlic on and call it a day.  Tony C's has the real deal and that alone will make us come back for more.

What a pleasant experience we had at Tony C's.  I'm glad we went back and tried it again.  They are a little more than most pizza places but given the area I wouldn't say they are overpriced and the quality is certainly fitting.  Three different people said Goodbye and Thanks as we left so they certainly appreciate their customers.

Check out Steph's view of Tony C's with pictures by clicking here.

Caio! And have a great weekend.

Tony C's Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cheko's Mexican Restaurant is fun and happy on the cheap

Don't worry if there isn't any parking in the front just drive around and park in the back.  That was our first experience at Cheko's Mexican Restaurant.  They sit next door to a lavandaria and share a little parking lot in front so it can get a little crowded in the lot but not in the restaurant.  We parked and walked through the little alleyway that takes you back to Cheko's.  No big deal, everything is well lit and with all the people around it just felt busy.  As we entered the restaurant there was a group of guys kicked back watching the game on TV, a group of girls getting a little silly on Tacate while they celebrated a birthday and a eclectic group of couples and singles enjoying their food and relaxing from a long day at work.  It was like walking into the living room of a happy home in a way.

We sat for a few minutes before the waitress came over but they were a bit busy so I didn't think much of it.  They sat a basket of chips and some salsa down, handed us the menus and asked for our drink order.  The menu is full of what I consider traditional Mexican dishes.  As I've said before I'm not an expert here since I'm partial to Tex-Mex but I do know good food so as I always say, take it for what it's worth.  The chips were nice and fresh and the salsa was chunky and had a little kick to it.  That was a nice way to start the meal.  Our drinks came a little later and we ordered.  One Tampiquena Beef Skirt Steak Dinner for me and the Huevos con Machacado for Steph.  We continued to snack on the chips, talk about our day, and laugh at the girls trying to get their waiter to play a Mexican version of the happy birthday song once again.  Apparently they were over their limit in juke box credits.  Which reminds me, they have a juke box at Cheko's.  I can't say for sure but I bet they sometimes push back the tables and do some dancing on a Saturday night.  When I was in my early twenties I had a gig cleaning up a dance hall / bingo hall.  They played bingo during the week and on the weekends a Mexican group would rent the space to have dances.  They'd bring in live bands and DJ's from all over. It was a pretty big deal from what I understand.  I'm not sure where I'm going with that aside from I had that same feeling of "people have fun here" while I was in Cheko's.  It has good vibes.

Our food came and we went to work on it.  The steak was like a big meat blanket covering the two cheese enchiladas, rice and beans under it.  It was one of those steaks pounded flat and fried in a pan.  Very flavorful and tender for skirt steak.  I poured a little extra salsa on it to kick up the flavor a bit.  The cheese enchiladas weren't all that big but they did have a good cheesy flavor.  I loved the refried beans.  They had an extra flavor in them that made them stand out from other places.  Maybe a little beef stock or chili powder.  I can't say but I finished them off and I don't usually do that. The rice was good too but not to the next level.  By the end my plate was cleaned and I considered licking up whatever was left but Steph would have kicked me in the shin.

Steph didn't enjoy her meal quite as much but to be fair she hadn't tried Machacado so it was her first time.  The plate came out with a big serving of eggs with dried beef mixed in like a scramble.  The beef tasted like I would expect it, kinda like beef jerky but chopped into little bits.  Steph had a whole different thought on what it would taste like.  She ate on it for a while but just never took to it.  I tried it and thought it was pretty good but I'll have to say I probably wouldn't order it.  I'm guessing it's one of those things people crave when they grow up on it.  Whatever the reason, I thought it was cooked well but just wasn't to our tastes.  That happens sometimes when you try new things.  At least Steph is trying new things so a tip of the hat to her.

The staff was friendly and helpful so we didn't haven't any incident to share.  I felt like they appreciated our business and wanted us to come back.  I'm sure we will.


Cheko's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mongolian Grille needs to raise the bar

My first experience with the concept of the Mongolian style, load up a bowl with meat and vegetables and then hand it off to be cooked on a huge round flat top, restaurant was quite exciting. Big chunks of fresh meat and vegetables. A huge selection of sauces to create your own symphony of flavor. It was more than I could take in at once so I went back again and again. But that was when I lived in Dallas. Steph wanted to try the Mongolian Grille for quite a while but we never seemed to get around to it. We finally did and well, the word lackluster comes to mind.

The restaurant is located off 183 between Spicewood Springs and Oak Knoll.  In the same complex as BB Rover's.  We parked right in front of the entrance since they weren't very busy and walked in.  The girl up front greeted us in a mousey sort of way and started messing with some papers for a little while.  We stood there not knowing what to do.  Actually I'm still not sure what to do.  She then asked if we'd been there before and since we hadn't she started explaining the concept.  Now pay attention here because it gets confusing.  She said something about "all you can eat" but that meant in a single bowl.  If you want more it costs extra.  So what she really meant was you get one bowl for the price but you can have as much as you can load into it.  Not really "all you can eat."  I'm not complaining about the policy but rather upset that they seem to lawyer ball you from the start.  Don't say it's "all you can eat" when it clearly isn't.  You might think The Grumpy Fat Man would load up on a buffet but truth be told I don't.  The waitress walked us to the counter where we picked up a bowl and started filling it with all sorts of vegetables and meat.  To be honest it didn't look all that fresh.  The broccoli was a little wilted and the meat selection we covered with ice crystals as they hadn't completely thawed from their frozen state.  Certainly not what I remembered being crazy about in Dallas.

We finished filling our bowls and walked up to the sauce station.  Steph went with a sweet teriyaki style on her bowl of beef and mushrooms and I tried my own concoction of salty, citrus and heat.  I guess I was going for some kind of Jamaican flavor.  Then we handed our bowls off to the cook to be well, cooked.  It only takes a few minutes since the grill is said to be something like 800 degrees.  Then the cook sat the bowl down not in front of us but off to one side so we had to go pick it up.  I wasn't sure why he did that since we were the only ones standing there.  It must be a game he plays.  We then went to find our table.

While we were getting our food the waitress had set up our table with our drink order and the complimentary sides that come with the meal.  Some pocket bread, a soup and something else that escapes me right now.  I remember liking the bread.  We ate our fill and one bowl was plenty so again, no big deal on the all you can eat thing.  We did notice little signs all over the dining area explaining that even though you heard all you can eat it really wasn't.  That's when I realized that the restaurant owner either meant to deceive or just wasn't trying to explain the concept.  In either case it just didn't sit well with me.

I just wish it was better.  Perhaps going at lunch time will bring better results?  Let me know!

See you tomorrow.

Mongolian Grille on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mandola's Italian Market has a little of everything I like

It's hard for me to describe Mandola's Italian Market because it's really three or four different things.  Let's call it an Italian Foods Department Store.  You have your dry goods; your baked goods; your sweets; your wines; and my favorite the restaurant itself.  This just gives you many reasons to make that drive.  Perhaps you want some good olive oil?  Or maybe you just crave a nice cold gelato?  That perfect wine for dinner?  Even dinner.  Really the only thing they don't offer is a quiet, romantic evening.  You'll know that as soon as you walk in and see the "adult" and "kids" tables throughout the dining room.  Well that and it's well lit.  Like operating room bright which makes sense if you're going to be looking at cheese or having then slice up some salumie.  I think the best thing about Mandola's Italian Market is it's run by a happy family.  All the kids were running around keeping the tables cleared and clean, all the cooks were cooking and the counter help was cheerful and pleasant.  I've been to a few Italian restaurants that more resemble the TV show Jersey Shore with the yelling at staff and generally unpleasant feel.  Thank you Mandola's for not following that crowd.

Tonight I ordered the Diavola pizza and Steph had the Tortellini Moda Mia.  Normally we would have picked a wine but tonight we just wanted sodas.  It's just been so hot and dry that I don't think about wine as much.  Perhaps when the weather cools off.  And they do have a large selection.  It didn't take long for the food to arrive and they were pretty busy when we walked in so I was a bit surprised.  Their pizza isn't very big but it doesn't cost that much either so we'll call it a personal fat man pizza or perfect for two skinny girls. The kind that are about the size of my leg.  Honestly if you had three people then two pizzas would probably be perfect.  I think it's just an Italian mother thing to make sure we had enough.  The pizza comes out on a cutting board sliced in blocks.  They use a thin cracker crust with a marinara sauce, not too much, and then pile on capicola, tangy cherry peppers, plenty of red pepper flake, caramelized onions and a few other things then give it a light but adequate sprinkling of mozzarella and Romano cheese.  I love this pizza for it's distinctive tangy bite.  Those cherry peppers take me back to a sandwich shop I used to like long ago and I've never lost that taste for them.  The crust is nice a crispy and the sauce makes itself known but doesn't overpower.  Really, this would be a more balanced pizza without those cherry peppers.  We'll call them the star of the stage.  They just can't be overlooked.

Steph had the Tortellini Moda Mia.  It comes in a large bowl with plenty of everything.  The tortellinis are filled with chicken, pork, mortadella, ricotta and Parmigiano cheese and then a big ladle of cream sauce is poured over them along with some peas and mushrooms.  I didn't get a play by play on this dish aside from hearing her say, Mmmmmm every now and then as the bowl slowly emptied one fork at a time.  She did say later that she loved the dish and it was as rich as it looked.  Look for her take on it at She's Fed Up In Austin when she gets around to writing about it. Should be in the next week or two.

As I mentioned before they have a whole section of baked goods and gelato for dessert.  We were full from the meal so we didn't try anything but I can guarantee we'll hit it on the next trip.

Mandola's Italian Market on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 17, 2011

Friar Tuck's Pantry and Romper Room

When Steph said she was taking me to a British tea house I thought, well that's like taking a bull to a china shop.  Little did I know how correct I would be.  Though it wasn't me playing the bull.  We hit the road and drove up to Round Rock, TX.  Friar Tuck's is right next door to the Louisiana Longhorn Cafe on Main Street.  Just take the 620 exit on I35 and head east.  You'll see it on the left just after the second stop sign, look for the Union Jack.

They have a wide variety of baked goods to go with your tea.  We had a short cake cookie and a muffin spiced with cinnamon and some citrus flavor.  I thought it was lemon.  We ate them with a 1/2 pot of Hawaiian roast coffee in a french press.  The coffee was wonderful.  Not a hint of bitterness to be found.  It was a little lighter than I normally drink but I would certainly get it again.  The short cake cookie was nice and crisp with plenty of butter and sugar to let you know this is a place that will serve you a rich and wonderful compliment to the extraordinary coffee.  Who knew I'd enjoy an Americanized version of tea and crumpets.  At least I didn't start talking in that Monty Python British woman voice. Though I would have thought it funny.

We also ordered some breakfast and it was equally delicious.  I had a sausage roll and a scrambled egg while Steph had a bacon buttie and a scrambled egg.  The sausage roll was more than tasty with it's puff pastry exterior surrounding the sausage.  I don't know how they did it but the pastry wasn't grease soaked at all and kept it's flaky texture throughout the meal.  The sausage was different from the breakfast sausage I'm used to with the sage and such. This had a nice sweet flavor with just hints of spice.  I'll be going back for more of those sausage rolls I assure you.  Steph's bacon buttie was also wonderful and the toasted and buttered bread was the star of that show.  They don't make the bread inhouse but we were told it is made from the owner's recipe.  The bread had a good sturdy quality to it like when you knead the dough a little bit longer to get it just a little chewy and dense.  The bacon was good quality but we didn't really notice anything out of the ordinary about it.  Truly this dish was all about that beautiful, chewy, crunchy, flavorful bread.  And I can't finish up without mentioning the eggs.  They make their scrambled eggs with a light fluffy texture and cook them in plenty of butter.  It reminded me a little of how my dad would make an egg.  That perfect combination of fluffy egg and butter is a real treat.

I thought the service was good at Friar Tuck's though we did have to ask for flatware to eat our eggs.  The waitress was very helpful and told us about all the baked goods they had that day and helped Steph pick out the coffee so I'd say they try hard to please.

Unfortunately there is a slight down side to all this wonderful food.  Friar Tuck's is very children friendly so if you go at the wrong time you might want to take some earplugs.  We were fortunate enough to go while there weren't any families so Steph and I had a nice, quiet Saturday morning breakfast but that soon changed as we were about to leave.  Several armloads of children arrived and I can tell you they have nothing on the walls or floors to stop the echo when they all start shrieking at the same time.  It went from quiet and pleasant to romper room in a matter of minutes.  Some people won't care but some people will so just keep this in mind if you're looking for a nice quiet afternoon tea. It might not turn out that way.

Have a great day!

You can get Steph's perspective on Friar Tuck's Pantry here. And she has pictures too!

Friar Tuck’s Pantry on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rudy's BBQ and the Great Wine Taste Test

I like to do little experiments to reinforce what I read about food.  It was Saturday evening and we were getting hungry so I ran out to get some BBQ.  Brisket to be exact.  Half moist and half lean to be even more exact.  Now I know this will be received by the foodies with disdain but I like Rudy's BBQ.  They are consistent, fast, friendly and they have that good Red Flash soda pop.  I skipped the soda since I was taking it home.  The whole trip took about 20 minutes.  Now for some fun.

Steph told me about a thread she was reading where foodies were arguing over which wine went best with BBQ.  It sounded like they decided on Zinfindel and Prosecco.  I immediately thought of a wine we loved to drink with steak called Wrongo Dongo.  It's made from the Monastrell grape in Spain.  Back then it was marketed as the only bottling of wine using only the Monastrell grape.  Until that time the Monastrell grape was always used in blends.  The vintage that hooked us was 2004.  We happened to have a 2006 and a 2008 in the cabinet so it was decided we'd do a side by side taste test of the same wine from different years.  Let the games begin!

The biggest difference I noticed was the 2006 was considerably lighter in color, it's peaks were weaker and overall it's taste was less bold over the 2008.  They both had that dark fruits, dark cherries palate and were a bit on the acid side.  What jumped out at me was how the 2006, while it was thinner, played better with the smoky meat flavor of that Rudy's brisket.  And after two glasses I think I'll stand on that statement.  My understanding is a wine is more apt to be thin, or watery, when there is more rainfall than usual.  This makes the grapes plump and in the end "waters down" the wine.  That makes sense but it's usually said in a negative tone.  Given the thinner Wrongo Dongo actually tasted better with the brisket I now understand a little more about wine.  And I have no idea how a Sommelier can remember all those little facts.  On to the brisket.

If you've ever tried Rudy's brisket, and who hasn't?, then you know their flavor.  It's smoky, the bark is full of black pepper and it's not too juicy.  Some people complain about their brisket being dry but I guess I'm the opposite.  If I get a brisket that's too juicy and reminds me of roast beef then I'm not as happy.  That's just personal taste.  One thing that I knew but hadn't thought about in a while is the difference in flavors between lean and moist cuts of brisket.  Rudy's lets you choose and I always get lean.  I'm the guy that cuts all that "good fat" off my steak while I'm eating it and leaves it behind.  I take it home to my dog so it doesn't go to waste.  I just felt a few people cringe.  My aunt used to tell me I was a "lazy eater" because I wouldn't eat the fat.  Maybe you should call me Jack Sprat.  OK, back to the brisket.  This is what I'd forgotten, the moist brisket with all that juicy fat in between the meat really holds in the smoky flavors.  It's just an extra level of flavor I was used to missing but I can see why people like it.  So my suggestion here is to get a little of both.  And some jalapeno sausage.  And some potato salad and cream corn.  And don't forget a big cup of red soda.

Steph also blogged about Rudy's.  She her take and pictures too.  Click Here to go to

See ya tomorrow.

Rudy's Country Store & Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shady Grove and just sit back and relax

The Shady Grove is another place I consider an Austin original.  Their outside seating is probably twice that of the inside variety plus the stage for live music is outside too.  This has been a particularly hot summer so I'll just ignore that for a minute and remember how fun Shady Grove was on most any day of the year.  Living in Austin has made me miss the seasonal changes but love that I don't have to worry about the extremes.  Too bad that seems to be over for a while with all the record temperatures we've been seeing all across the country.  Let's agree that eating outside in 110 degree heat isn't something I'll ever enjoy though I do love outdoor living down into the 50's.  Just put on a jacket and annoy people by asking if they're warm enough on this brisk and refreshing day.  Which reminds me to check and see if I still own any socks.  The grumpy fat man has lived in Austin too long.  Let's get to the food.

I've ordered several things at the Shady Grove but this day found me wanting for that kids staple, the chili dog.  They offer a regular size and a foot long version.  I took the foot long version and was I in for a treat.  This thing was a full half pound.  It almost dwarfed the bun that cradled it's massive girth and was then covered in mustard, chili and onions.  This is another example of a knife and fork dog.  I've gone on and on about Tulsa coneys so I'll save you that rant.  If you're new and want to catch up just read my take on Texas vs. Tulsa dogs here. Even though this dog clearly goes against my coney views they do call it a chili dog and well it is the size of Texas.  I enjoyed every single bite of my chili dog.  The frank was nice and juicy and cooked on the grill so it had that smoky backyard barbeque flavor to it and the chili was nice and meaty.  The dish as a whole was as well balanced as a foot long chili dog can be.  Plus is was a nice day as we sat leisurely among the trees.  Life was good that day.

Steph had their Bacon Cheeseburger. It's a big 1/2 pound burger.  And as always she had it plain and dry.  They cook them to order so she had it cooked medium rare.  It came out cooked correctly and she said she liked it.  The meat was nice and juicy but not too fatty and the bacon was better than the usual with a little extra flavor in it. The cheese just brought it all together.  We both had fresh cut fries for our side.

The staff has always been great at Shady Grove.  They are just too busy to have anything but the best.  At peak times it might take a little longer to get a table and then your food but what would you expect at a very busy restaurant.  That's why it's nice to go there.  To sit in the shade, relax and well, as Steph tells me to do, stop and smell the metaphorical roses.

Sniff, sniff roses.  Sniff, sniff...

Shady Grove on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hula Hut brings TexMex with a Hawaiian twist

I've been to Hula Hut at least a dozen times, mostly for lunch but occasionally on a Saturday afternoon.  They're always busy but the staff keeps everything light and fun so it's great no matter when you go.  They have the typical palm tree, tiki torches, Polynesian god and Gilligan's Island thatched roof theme so give the place some character not to mention they sit right by the dam on Lake Austin so you can drive or boat your way to a full belly.

I was in the mood for Tex Mex so I ordered the steak tubular tacos platter.  It's a big baked burrito stuffed with grilled beef fajita meat, corn and mushrooms, plus a fair amount of cheeses.  The meat has always been tender though I can remember a few times when it was a bit dry.  I just add extra salsa when that happens.  The corn and mushrooms give the dish a different flavor than your traditional Tex Mex but it works well and who doesn't love that gooey cheese surrounding everything in a blanket of creamy goodness.  They sauce it up with a Hatch green chile sauce and serve it to you with the standard rice and refrieds.  It's a pretty big plate so you'll be full but not overly stuffed.  Who wants to take a to go box back to work from lunch anyway.  The frig is always disgusting no matter where you work.

Steph had their Hula Hut burger.  It's a giant 1/2 pound patty and comes on focaccia bread. Steph order it plain and dry but added cheese and bacon.  She's all about the flavor of the meat when she gets a burger.  The burger is char grilled and comes out with that nice smoky flavor like you would find at a backyard barbeque.  I don't remember if they cooked it to order, in which case she would have gotten medium rare, but the burger looked a little more on the medium side.  She didn't complain or say it was dry so I'll assume it was just right.  They serve the burger with a mound of french fries as you would expect.

We had some room for dessert so we ordered some flan.  Steph was a bit embarrassed when I said we'd like some Flan Dresher and proceeded to laugh in that annoying Queens accent of hers.  We later laughed about it and still use the joke on occasion.  Just not in public.  It was a nicely made custard, not too sweet, and finished off he meal with a happy note.

The staff is always helpful and happy at Hula Hut so you don't have to worry about service.  In fact, I can't think of a bad time in my many trips.  Even riding that little tram cart thing from the overflow parking is fun.  Or I'm just easily amused.  Whatever the case I've always had a good time at Hula Hut.


Hula Hut on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cherrywood Coffeehouse is the land of wifi and coffee

It was a late Tuesday and Steph wasn't too hungry so we headed down to Cherrywood Coffeehouse for some sandwiches, dessert and a little coffee. It's not hard to find, just head east from I35 on 38 1/2 street and you'll see it on the left about 1/4 mile.  They have a fairly large area to hang both inside and out with some couches and what looked like comfy chairs in a separate room.  Everyone had their heads buried in a laptop which I found amusing at first.  It initially appeared that all the patrons congregated to this place and then jumped online to talk to other people at other coffee shops.  In the end quite a few people actually talked to each other, live, face to face.  Like the grumpy fat man did in the old days before the interwebby thing.  I then found myself chuckling at how guys meet other guys to make friends.  In my circles we just start talking to each other like we've always been friends.  It's no big deal, you're just making conversation.  What I noticed about these college kids is they were kind of timid when introducing themselves.  Perhaps I'm just old and don't care what people think about me anymore.  I guess I had my awkward social moments twenty years ago.  It was just that, "I don't want to be rejected," vibe that struck me as odd.  Perhaps there was more going on there than I realized.  It was interesting all the same.

Let's get to the food.  I had their Gyro sandwich and a cup of iced mint tea.  The Gyro sandwich comes on toasted french bread with a generous portion of gyro meat.  It has that cucumber dressing on it with cucumber and tomato slices, baby spinach, onions and a little layer of hummus.  I think it was supposed to have feta cheese on it but I didn't notice it on the sandwich.  They served corn chips and a nice slightly spicy hot salsa on the plate.  I thought the gyro meat was good.  It had that same standard flavor you would find in any Greek restaurant.  Just a little bit salty and full of flavor.  The bread held up through the whole meal so that was a plus.  You just never know if you'll be eating the last few bites of a sandwich with a fork at some of these places.  They did a good job on that.

Steph ordered some breakfast tacos.  She's been on a breakfast taco kick for some time now.  They were full of eggs and sausage and she said she enjoyed the flavors.  They looked good though I didn't try it.  We also shared a basket of french fries.  They hand cut them so Steph had to try them out.  You may not believe this but she has an extensive list of restaurants that details how they do their fries.  Just the fries.  I'll have to get her to do a whole week on the french fry.  That would be a fun read.

The service at Cherrywood Coffeehouse was good.  They are friendly, helpful and bring your food out to you when it's ready.  There were a couple times when the line to order backed up a bit but it's a coffeehouse and things are a little more laid back so I didn't think much of it.  We're all there to relax.

Speaking of relaxing, after dinner Steph ordered a slice of some kind of date and nut cake and I had a Cuban coffee.  The cake was nice and moist and full of dates and nuts as you would expect in a date and nut cake.  I suppose that's why they call it a date and nut cake.  I'm not sure how to describe it.  Steph said it reminded her of the flavors of fall and I agree with that but it was a bit more unique because it didn't have those cinnamon or pumpkin pie flavors.  I'm going to guess it was more of a Mediterranean recipe.  My coffee came out piping hot and strong as it should be for a Cuban.  Can't say much more about that.

That's it for now kids.  See you tomorrow.

Cherrywood Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hoody's knocks sandwiches out of the park

Sometimes I just want a good cold cut sandwich and that was my mission for the day when we stopped by Hoody's. They're on 620 in that shopping center just before you hit I35. There's an Indian and Mexican restaurant in there too. Hoody's is back in the corner.

You'll walk in to a couple rows of booths built from 2x4. It's a style I haven't seen before but it works. They have a TV tuned to sports on all the time and pictures of the local sports talent all over the walls. You can tell they support the local high school teams. Everyone was watching a little league game on the TV and actually cheering a bit as Aruba scored their first run of the game against Chinese Taipei. We didn't care who won, it was just fun to watch.

I had a "Special" which is basically an Italian sub. They dressed it all the way with lettuce, tomatoes, sweet peppers and a nice vinaigrette that looked like it was from red wine vinegar. They pile on the meat and make the sandwich a bit different than most. It starts with a couple slices of cheese, then the veggies, then they kind of wrap the meat around the veggies. It really works to bring out all the flavors in harmony.

Steph ( She's Fed Up in Austin ) had the Philly Cheese Steak.  She wasn't as impressed.  Now she's had the "Special" and raved about it so I know she likes the place, but the Philly fell short of a home run.  The cheese was a couple slices and one the bottom, the meat was more like chopped brisket and it didn't look all that moist though she didn't say it was dry.  Mainly Steph was disappointed by the portion of meat as it was less than she expected and the cheese wasn't really in the game to play.  Oh well, a 1-1 season isn't all that bad.

We always get the fountain IBC root beer at Hoody's. The guy that takes your orders talked us into it one day and we've been hooked ever since. The creamy nature of the root beer goes well with the sandwich. And it kind of makes you feel a kid again which I always like. No pickles to throw on the windows though. We'll save that for a different restaurant.

They also have a wide variety of chips. Zapp's, Lay's and some other good ones are available but you must remember to save room for a TastyCake. They are those little cakes, sort of like a Hostess cup cake or Zinger in taste but square like a brownie. Makes the meal that much more special.

That's it.

Hoody's Subs on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 7, 2011

Plucker's should be better

Every time Steph and I get in the mood for chicken we think, "Mmm, Plucker's..." And every time we leave Plucker's we think, "That should have been better."  I don't know if it's the young staff or maybe the cooks aren't very well trained but they always manage to do something that knocks them from yum to ho-hum.  This evening it was serving us tepid chicken.  And skimping on the toss sauce.  The service was good this time so they are getting better in that category.  Let's review.

Both of us ordered the boneless chicken platter.  Steph has the bbq sauce and mac-n-cheese as her side.  The chicken came out like it was freshly cooked but since the sauce was ice cold it took all the heat from the chicken. Thus a plate of cold chicken.  Certainly not worth the nine bucks they charge.  The mac-n-cheese was hot and fresh and we decided it was made to order as the noodles didn't taste like they were sitting around in water all night.  And that might explain the cold chicken.  Perhaps the cooks need to learn proper timing to get the food out hot and fresh, we're certainly paying for them to do it right.

I had the standard buffalo medium sauce and waffle fries for my side.  The whole plate was cold and they barely put enough sauce on the chicken to heat it up with spice.  A few years ago those chicken pieces would be dripping with sauce and quite honestly they would have been a bit bigger.  We've noticed over time that the portions are getting smaller and that's probably why we don't go back as often.  At least they stopped training the wait staff to give us the eye roll when Steph asks for water and we don't order an appetizer.  Now they try to make you feel like you're not worthy if you don't sign up, and pay, for the Plucker's club.  It gets you a little discount and if you ate there once a week it might be worth it.  Still, they really need to let up on the you're not good customers if you don't spend a load of money here attitude because it's just not going to work for us.  Maybe that's why they send out our food cold?  I'm not joining the club to find out.  And as usual it will be a few months before I forget all of this and we go back.  Too bad there's not another chicken place in town.  Oh wait...

Sorry for grumpin' it up today but it just needs to be said.  Have a good weekend!

Pluckers Wing Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Saccone's has great pizza but that Jersey attitude can go

Steph and I love Saccone's Pizza.  We've been eating it since they were off 183 in that little complex that caught fire.  The problem we've always had is they only bring it about 85%.  There's just something that disappoints every time.  Once they ran out of pepperoni, another time they were out of soda, just those little things that don't kill the deal but make me stay away for a while.  I guess my point is we'd eat there more often if they brought that number above 90% but I don't see that happening.  We've also noticed a certain negative attitude not only from the staff but from the customers too.  Steph called it unwelcoming and sterile while I thought it felt like anger.  Whatever it is they need to get rid of it.  This last time we ate there some jackass put a huge door ding on the passenger side door of my car.  And it wasn't just a little scrape, it was that down in the paint and dented in kind.  They knew they did it and really they had to try to make that much damage.  I'm not blaming this on Saccone's but it does go to the general feel we always get when eating there.  I wish I could fix it because they have some of the best pizza in town.  So let's talk about that.

They only offer one size pizza and it's pretty big.  Should feed four people easily.  Their crust is that thin style you would expect from a New Jersey style place with a big bready bone to dip into a little cup of marinara if you like that kind of thing.  They've stuck to their recipe and portions all through the recession so that deserves a tip of the hat.  We always get the Cody's Special which has their sweet sauce, sausage, pepperoni, meatball and garlic.  The ingredients complement each other nicely and create a little symphony of flavor.  Not too much bread, not too much sauce, not too much meat and plenty of cheese.  I just love that pizza.

We also ordered a new item on the menu this time, pepperoni rolls, for an appetizer.  They were also some of the best rolls I've had in Austin and would have been a great appetizer but true to form they came out after they served us the pizza.  Again, we were disappointed but the food is so good we will give them another chance as soon as we start to forget the last experience.

I really wanted to be more positive about Saccone's but that's just how the grumpy fat man sees it.  Great $#@%*& pizza but you might be disappointed in the service and atmosphere.


Saccone's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Opie's Barbecue is the best place for baby back ribs. PERIOD.

I've been to barbeque joints all over central and north Texas and Opie's has, by far, the best baby back ribs I've every tried.  And I don't even like baby back ribs.  Steph is the baby back lover in the family but Opie's may very well convert me to the ways of pork.

We woke up a little early for a Saturday, jumped in the car and headed west.  Our destination, Spicewood, Texas; our mission, to eat some barbeque.  Little did I know I would have a barbeque revelation.  Opie's is located on Highway 71 at the 191 Spur.  It's less than an hour out of town so really not far enough to call it a day trip though Steph did notice those "antique" and "what not" shops on the way.  We were hungry so those are left for another day as the belly takes precedence.

The parking was ample but a little haphazard.  We ended up in the back and walked up to the front door.  As I rounded the corner the wind blew that heavenly smell of bbq smoke into our noses.  Steph said, "Yum!" and I knew we were in for a treat.  As you walk in you're greeted by the meat cutter standing next to a big pit of everything you would expect at a barbeque joint.  Brisket, different kinds of sausage, baby backs, pork ribs and probably other meats that I just didn't see from the mountain of beef and pork before me.  We had a coupon so we ordered more than we needed. A little lean and a little moist brisket, jalapeno sausage and baby backs.  The guy threw it all on a tray and passed us off to the girl that sliced and weighed it.  Then we had to make several more decisions.  They had about a dozen homemade sides to choose from, both hot and cold.  I grabbed some coleslaw and Steph ordered some cheesy tator tot casserole.  We also had about a dozen homemade desserts to admire.  Steph made me pick so I chose the Coke Cake.  We even took a giant brownie to go with all the leftover meat.  We had big plans to eat it with a bottle of 2008 Black Fox Cab we've been saving for a while but after the feast we had at lunch we didn't get hungry again that day.

Opie's is a pretty big place with those tables and chairs made from what I call firewood.  The kind that looks like you just cut down a post oak, cut it into the right length sections and nailed it together to make a chair.  Then spray a bunch of sealer over the whole thing.  They're big, tough and heavy so I know they'll never wear out.  And they'll hold the grumpy fat man so that's a plus.  You'd be surprised at some of these little boutique places that make the grumpy fat man sit in a child's seat.  They must think people don't get bigger than five foot two. But not at Opie's, they are prepared for the biggest of appetites.

Opie's offers a big island full of condiments such as warm barbeque sauce, pinto beans, white bread, pickles, onions, hot sauce, jalapenos and probably a few things I've forgotten.  That stuff is all free with your order.

I noticed several things about the staff and setup at Opie's that made me feel happy about being there.  Aside from being greeted at the door and welcomed by the lady at the register they came around and asked if we were happy or needed anything.  They also pointed out where to get extra foil and bags to take home all the left overs.  The thing that stood out about the layout was they had four different exits.  That told me they trusted their customers and just wanted them to enjoy some fine barbeque.  And I commend them for that.

Obviously I had a good time at Opie's and will be back.  What are your favorite barbeque joints around the Austin area?

Take it easy and I'll see you tomorrow.

If you want to see pics and get a different perspective on Opie's BBQ just visit Steph's blog: Opie's BBQ Spicewood TX

Opie's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cabo Bob's cranks out fresh tortillas and cane sugar soda goodness

Cabo Bob's is down on 290 a little east of I35.  Near the Wal-Mart.  They have several things that differentiate themselves from the competition.  They cook your tortilla when you order, and I mean cook it not just steam it a bit, and they have a nice variety of cane sugar sodas.  No high fructose corn syrup here.  And you know what they say about high fructose corn syrup.  I loved that SNL sketch.

We walked up to the counter and Steph order the cheddar tortilla and I ordered the ancho chile tortilla.  The guy turned and grabbed two balls of dough from a large rack and placed them, one a a time, into the press.  Then threw them on a big spinning grill to cook.  It looked a little like a smaller version of that Mongolian Grill cook top.  After a minute or two the tortillas are ready to go.  You can order anything you like or you can pick from about a dozen suggestions on the wall.  Steph made her own with their beef fajita meat that's smoked in a Big Green Egg smoker with extra cheese, pinto beans and brown rice.  I didn't catch which sauce she ordered.  I had a taste and the meat was tender and smokey and played well with the other ingredients.  I had the #6 which is shredded brisket, pinto beans, cheese, grilled onions and other veg with a "66 sauce."  The sauce was nice and spicy with a hint that it was meant to be a BBQ sauce.  They did a good job fusing TexMex and BBQ flavors together.  My meat was also tender and flavorful.  Overall it was filling and well seasoned.

The staff at Cabo Bob's has been friendly and welcoming both times we've gone.  They are happy to answer questions about the flavors and ingredients of all the items on the line and will help you if you are having a hard time deciding.  The last time we went a girl was holding up the line kind of being a pain but the manager was right up there and kept things rolling so the line wouldn't get backed up.  And all of that with a smile.  He should be commended for his leadership in that situation.  I certainly appreciated it given I would have been the grumpy fat man in that situation. Actually I was, I asked her to stop holding up the line.  Was that too much?  I said it nicely.

Until tomorrow stay grumpy my friends.

Cabo Bob's Burritos on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 3, 2011

McAlister's Deli and home of the Big Nasty

Normally I like an Italian sub if I'm eating a deli sandwich. I love that combination of spicy cold cuts, crunchy lettuce, flavorful sweet peppers and the tangy bite of oil and vinegar. Or if it's the other half of the year I'll get excited about a good Reuben. That's not what I love about McAlister's Deli. When I walk into their Southern themed, hospitality is number one, restaurant it's all about the Big Nasty.

The Big Nasty is 1/3 pound of rare, thinly sliced, roast beef laid down on a bed of French baguette and covered in a delicious brown gravy. They even top it off with a mix of grated cheese and a side of your choice. I selected potato salad. It was just plain wonderful. The brown gravy had plenty of flavor and stood up to the roast beef well. The roast beef was tender and moist and even the bread was fresh. You can't get a better knife and fork sandwich than this. Well you probably can but this one is really good too.

You order at the counter but after that the friendly staff takes care of you by bringing out your order, getting you refills on your drinks and making sure everything is perfect. They even gave us a couple of free cookies. I can't say why but it was closing time and maybe they were going to throw them out. It's a good thing Steph and I were there to save those cookies from such a fate. We both had chocolate chip and they were big, full of chips and on the moist side. No crumbly, dry cookies here.

I really couldn't get over how friendly the staff was. They really made us feel at home and if you've been reading my blogs for a while you know that goes a long way for me. Needless to say I'll be back for another Big Nasty in the future.

Until tomorrow ya'll take care now...