Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Review Extravaganza!

Here's the deal, lunchboxes - I should be welcoming a little tiny eater in about T minus two weeks.  I have a metric shitload of reviews that need written. At this point, making separate entries for each one is NOT going to happen.  So, you're going to get a lot of quick, abridged reviews, without photos.  I'd be happy to provide photos and additional commentary if you're curious about a specific place or dish - just leave something in the comments section.  Loosen up your Sans-a-Belts, here we go!

Smashburger - Dayton, Ohio (UD)
Hadn't gotten around to trying this place or Five Guys, and there was a groupon-type thing available for around $12 worth of food.  Two burgers, one order of fries and one soda was $16.  DAMN!  A bit steep for what I consider fast food.  I can't seem to recall specifics, but their menu was a little limited and confusing - and the staff had no idea what their signature sauce was.  I do specifically recall that the restaurant was filthy.  The floors were so dirty and sticky that I lost my shoe to it three times.  EW, Smashburger.  The food itself wasn't bad, but certainly wasn't impressive.  Fries were so greasy, they were transparent.  I'd choose Tank's any day, for my money.  Hell, with the experience we had, I'd probably pick Hardee's over Smashburger.  
1 out of 5 sporks! 
Smashburger (Univ. of Dayton) on Urbanspoon

CJ Chan - Dayton, Ohio
Finally tried this place out for date night after hearing nothing but rave reviews.  Situated in a really odd spot, in a tiny shopping center just between the ass-end of Kettering and Walnut Hills, the place has very limited parking and seating (not to mention pulling into the lot at over 2mph can do some damage to your car).  We lucked out and gt their just before dinner rush and had a terrific meal.  Mr. FvF had sweet & sour pork and I had Mongolian beef - probably some of the best and most traditional I've ever had.  Fried pork dumplings were also excellent. Prices were right on point, service was tops and the menu is extensive and impressive.  Can't wait to go back.      
5 out of 5 sporks! 
CJ Chan on Urbanspoon

Rootbeer Stande - Kettering, Ohio
Exactly what you'd expect from a drive-in restaurant.  The girls don't wear roller skates, but otherwise it's just as old-timey as you'd expect.  Burgers, dogs, and lots of fair-fare (corn dogs, Texas tenderloins, funnel cakes), and nothing over $5, if memory serves.  More importantly, the rootbeer is super tasty, and heavy on the sasparilla, which is just the way I like it.  My bacon cheeseburger was nice & messy, loaded with toppings, and the Mister's tenderloin was mammoth and delicious. We also split the fried pickle spears and mini corn dogs, which I highly recommend.  FYI, they only take cash.               
5 out of 5 sporks! 
Root Beer Stande on Urbanspoon

Brunch Club - Dayton, Ohio
Another groupon-type deal. Hadn't been here in years, since it was The Breakfast Club.  We met another couple there for brunch and had an excellent meal.  Kind of made me wonder why I don't hear more about the place - but judging by the wait for a table, maybe it's the kind of place everyone tries to keep secret.  Mr. FvF and I were thrilled to see Chicken & Waffles on the specials board, and even more excited to see that it's on their everyday menu.  He couldn't resist ordering that, I had the meat lovers' omelette, and our brunch buds had the eggs benedict and breakfast burrito with sides of potato cakes.  Everything was spot-on.  I'm not usually a hash brown fan, but theirs were crispy, onion-y and not greasy at all - just perfect.  The omelette was fluffy and on par with my favorites from Golden Nugget.  Mr. FvF's dish was downright impressive.  The waffle was just a waffle like any other, but the super fresh, hot broasted chicken was out of this world.  The breakfast burrito was incredibly fresh-tasting for something that was covered in gravy, and I have to take someone else's word that the eggs benedict was very well done also. The service could have been better.  Our waitress was a bit slow (cutting her some slack b/c of the crowd), but incredibly clumsy and forgetful.  We had to ask for my husband's coffee three times, and she spilled water all over our table right out of the gate.   Also, when I ask for chocolate milk "with my meal," that's when I want it.  With my meal.  Few things irritate me more than letting milk sit for 5-10 minutes, getting warm while waiting for my food.  And when are eateries going to get hip to frosty glasses for milk?  Every place I order it, it's practically room temperature.  As far as price, serving sizes are commensurate with the cost.   Will definitely be heading here again.    
4 out of 5 sporks! 
Brunch Club Cafe on Urbanspoon

McCormick & Schmick's - Beavercreek, Ohio
Sadly, this is from Restaurant week, back in July.  Pitiful, I know.  We double-dated with another couple - the boys both ordered the cashew-crusted tilapia (regular menu)and sweet potato cous cous, and the gals both ordered off the RW menu - filet florentine, cucumber salad and flourless chocolate torte.  The main dishes and cous cous were pitch-perfect, but some of the sides and salads needed a little touching up.  The vinaigrette on the cucumber salad was far too tart.  A little sweetness would have gone a long way.  The boys' cous cous was amazing and finished with Jamaican rum butter, but the risotto that came with the RW specials was, well - nothing special.  One of the dessert choices was supposed to be chocolate silk pie with bourbon creme anglaise, but had been changed to the torte with raspberry sauce. It was very good, but could have used a few fresh raspberries to balance the dense sweetness.  Service was good, despite our wait for a table when I had reservations and partied of the same size who arrived after us were seated before us.  Price points were very fair on their regular menu - most entrees between $15 and $25.  I can definitely see us dining here again, perhaps for a special occasion, outside of Restaurant Week.                
4 out of 5 sporks! 
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

El Toro - Huber Heights, Ohio
Ew.  I won't even go into too much detail here, because it's not worth it.  Standard Mexican-fare menu, price points are about the same no matter where you go.  I ordered something with shredded beef, which was incredibly fatty and bland.  Service was so-so.  Again, EW.  Would not go back.  Giving them one point because my co-workers swear their food was good.                                      
1 out of 5 sporks!
El Toro on Urbanspoon

Blueberry Cafe - Bellbrook, Ohio
Best breakfast I've had that wasn't at my mama's house.  Excellent service, huge portions and the food was simply outstanding.  I went there because I had a hankering for French Toast, and I heard they do it right. Upon arrival, I realized that this place was truly sent to answer a pregnant girl's prayers.  On the specials?  Banana bread pudding french toast.  I almost wish I was making it up, because I want to eat it every day of my life.  I think there was unicorn blood in it.  Magical.  The leftovers - about half a slice, took more than one hand to hold, and Mr. FvF and I split the half piece for breakfast the next morning.  Two very small complaints - the goodness that oozed from my French toast got all under my potatoes and eggs, making them more sweet than savory.  Boo.  And again, with the milk.  I asked for it with my meal, and it came out 10 minutes ahead - not all that cold, and just getting warmer.  Blueberry Cafe seems to be renowned for their breakfasts, but their lunch menu also looks impressive, as do their Friday night dinner offerings.  The place is very tiny, so a wait is likely, but well worth it. They do take reservations for dinner, not sure about breakfast and lunch, though.  Price points might be considered on the higher end for breakfast and lunch, but the portions more than warrant it.
4.5 out of 5 sporks! 
The Blue Berry Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 11, 2011

McDonald's Premium Chicken Sandwiches

McD's has recently rolled out a new line of premium chicken sandwiches, and they want some FvF readers to try them out for free.  Available in original, Club or Ranch BLT, you can get the chicken either grilled or crispy on a new bakery-style bun.  Same drill as the last contest:  you send me a fan on FvF's Facebook page and you'll get a coupon in the mail for a freebie.  Make sure the friends you send let me know that you put them up to it! 

Company 7 BBQ - Englewood, Ohio

You all know how assy I can be about BBQ, having found very little to write home about either here in Ohio, or in our travels.  On our recent trips to Kentucky and Tennessee, I wasn't even interested in trying out an of the local barbecue joints, because it seemed it was always a disappointment. Dry brisket, fake smoke flavor, and shitty sides.

About a year ago, a business acquaintance of mine left his post at a prominent local company to start up a BBQ joint with his wife and her family in Englewood.  It would be called Company 7 BBQ, after the majority of family starting this venture, who are all fire and EMS workers.  I kept in touch for a while and kept promising to make it up there to try it, and letting loose that I had a secret life as a food blogger.  Life has a way with making things slip your mind, so come this summer, I still hadn't made it to Englewood to try Company 7.  One night that cooking at home sounded too labor intensive, we headed north to check it out, based on the recent recommendation of a friend.

I was hoping to see my friend, but I figured since he was one of the head honchos, it'd be tough to catch him on the floor. Wrong!  We hadn't been seated for two minutes before he popped behind the bar and started filling drinks.  Come to find out later, the guy who brought our food out and chatted Mr. FvF about Texas BBQ was another owner, his father-in-law.  You can tell that the presence of owners and management keeps this place running pretty smoothly.  They had live bands on one side, a room full of full bellies on the other, apparently a buffet in the back, a full bar and still a little room to grow.  I'm not familiar with the area, so I'm not sure what this place used to be, but the size of it certainly surprised me (insert "that's what she said" joke).

Perusing the menu and the table-toppers presented some info I was happy to see.  Something along the lines of "When we run out of a meat - that's it. We won't have any more until the next day, because we smoke it for 18 hours."  After deciding that neither of us wanted to pick just one meat, we both got a two-meat combo, which comes with two sides and a cheese muffin. I chose pulled pork and brisket, and the Mister got pulled pork and smoked sausage.  We also threw in a last minute order of smoked chicken wings, for little other reason than the price was right.  I don't normally care for wings at all, but...
I obviously had no problems polishing half of this order off.  They were super crispy, likely smoked then maybe flash fried - and not too greasy. They come naked, because C7 already has six of their signature sauces on the table (no sugar added and painfully hot sauces also made in-house are available for the asking). I didn't use the sauce on my wings, but tried them all via finger-lickin' method (very scientific) before our entrees arrived.  Chief Smokey and Lieutenant Tangy were definitely the front runners for me, though they were all pretty good.  I was hoping I wouldn't even need the sauces, though. You know the rules.  Good BBQ doesn't need sauce. 

Mr. FvF got mac & cheese and fries with his. I didn't sample the fries, but the mac was a lot like Stouffer's, which means it was excellent.  My current motherly state tells you that I'm already a fan of my husband's sausage (wakka wakka!), but I sampled this one, too.  I have some pretty major texture issues when it comes to food these days, so I had a hard time eating much more than one or two bites - but the flavor was spot on.  
He's really the expert here, so I'll defer to him for comment.  From the desk of Mr. FvF:
It's really good - very sweet & spicy.  Close to Kruez's, but not the same as Black's.

The pulled pork was probably some of the best I've had in a restaurant.
Tender, moist*, and wonderfully smoky without tasting overpowering or fake.  No Liquid Smoke at Company 7 - just the real deal. There were some beautiful pieces of bark on both of our plates, too.   The brisket was sliced, like it's supposed to be.  I don't know why some northern barbecue joints have taken to shredding their brisket, but it's not right. It's like serving pizza in squares.  The terrorists win!  
Anyhow, the brisket was top notch.  It had a really nice smoke ring, which I apologize for not getting a better photo of.  There were juices still flowing from both servings of meat when our food came to the table, which made for great dipping with the cheese muffin.  The cinnamon apples were delicious, but I only managed to eat about three slices before I had to tap out. Even maternity pants have their limits.  Speaking of limits, I'm convulsing at the thought of going back so I can try their ribs.  

Just over 12 bucks a plate for massive servings of  two meats and two sides, and the wings were under $5 - so the prices are definitely right.  Service was very good, and it's nice to see the brass working the floor like everyone else there to earn a living.  It's a bit of a hike for us to Clayton, but it's absolutely worth the drive back.  

5 out of 5 sporks! 

*Sorry, Lando!

Company 7 BBQ on Urbanspoon

Fair Food!!!

Everyone loves fair food, so there's no point in reviewing it.  But, I want to tell you about an old love...

...pork tenderloin twice the size of my face.

And a new love...

...deep fried Snickers.

It's probably best that I found myself too busy to attend more than one fair this summer, because otherwise - helloooooooooo, gestational diabetes.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ramsi's Cafe on the World - Louisville, KY

Forever ago, Mr. FvF and I were in Louisville for Derby City Con.  To be diplomatic, let's just say comic conventions aren't really my thing.  Good people watching and all, but not exactly boner magic for me.  So, I always try to find something to do or a buddy that lives nearby when we're in another city and he's hawking his wares.  My old friend Dan had lived in L-ville for a while, so I had him come pick me up and cart me around to all of the record stores and cool shops on Bardstown.  After we'd done our fair share of window shopping, he suggested we lunch at Ramsi's Cafe on the World.  Having lost the list I made of places we should eat in Louisville, I was still pretty sure this was on there.

I was glad Dan was driving and is highly skilled at parallel parking, because the parking sitch alone would have cause me to shy away from this place.  But, we got a close spot, walked in and were seated right away.  The restaurant was crowded and bustling, but not in an uncomfortable way.  We ordered drinks and Samosas (Indian dumplings with tamarind sauce, super tasty) while we perused the huuuuuge menu.
Since all sandwiches are made on locally-made gluten-free bread, that's the section of the men that my eyes honed in on.  It's not just anywhere that ol' angry guts can order a sandwich.  I was totally prepared to order the Isabelle Panini, which is basically a Cuban, until our server informed me it was served with SWEET pickles.  The hell?  Cuban sammiches should only have dill pickles.  Never relish, and never sweet.  Ew.
So, I opted for my back-up choice, the Panini Caprese.

The sandwich was very good, but I got this overwhelming feeling that I should have made a different choice.  It was just a bit too sweet for my taste and didn't really satisfy my savory hankering.  The potatoes were decent, but needed a fancy dipping sauce in my opinion. They were well-cooked, but the any effort at seasoning had pretty much been phoned in.  My buddy ordered the Southwestern Caesar and was very happy with his choice - but he had a leg up, as a resident.  You may balk at the ballpark of $10 per sandwich and side, but the portions are massive. MY Caprese was about the size of a personal pizza, and just as filling.  I tried taking the remains back to Mr. FvF at the con, but the goat cheese hadn't kept well on the hot ride to the convention center.

I wish I'd had room for dessert, since that part of the menu is just as diverse and worldly as the rest.  I dont want to hold it against Ramsi's too much that I didn't like my sandwich, because I feel like my choice was a bit too vanilla.  I probably would have been wowed if I ordered something more adventurous.

Service was good, the place was quite clean and the prices were commensurate with what you're getting.  I'll give them a solid 3.5 out of 5 sporks and be sure to give them another try when we go back  for DCC next year.

Ramsi's Cafe on the World on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Table Scraps: The Return

Howdy, my little lunchboxes!  A lot of people have been wondering if mommin' has me on hiatus from FvF, but not for another couple months.  The lack of posts has little to do with my parasite, and everything to do with err'day life and work.  I know, I know - it's hard to believe that this website doesn't have me wiping with dollar bills, but food samples an adoring fans still don't pay the mortgage - although I heartily appreciate both.  So, since there's a LOT to catch you up on and little time to do it, here's a recap and some upcoming fun stuffs.

  • Are the tomatoes from your own garden so good that you're disappointed when eating one in a restaurant?  Peter and Laurie at Figlio totally understand, so they're letting you bring in your OWN tomato this week to be used in their Caprese Salad.  "Bring Your Tomato to Figlio Week" started yesterday and runs through this Saturday, August 27. 
  • BEERS!  Not only is Dayton AleFest this weekend at Carillon Park, but it will also cap off Dayton Beer Week.  from their press release:                                                                                     "AleFest will be held from 2 to 6 pm on Saturday, August 27 at Carillon Historical Park.  Featuring an expanded selection of draft and cask ales, AleFest offers attendees a selection of over 300 different beers from over 140 different breweries. Many of the exact details for this year's event are still being finalized, but tickets are currently available at finer dining and food and beverage locations throughout the greater Dayton region for the advance price of $35 ($40 at the door).  As in the past, tickets get you entry to the event, a sampling guide, 20 craft beer samples and a commemorative sampling glass.                                                                      Dayton Beer Week, held August 19 - 26.  Dayton Beer Week officially kicks off with the "Beer Pride Parade" in the Oregon District on Sunday, August 21 and continues throughout the week with a series of unique events, tastings and dinners held at various locations throughout the greater Dayton region." 
  • Peeled Snacks will be doing some serious sampling of their dried fruit offerings at Costco stores across the nation tomorrow, 8/24.  The one in Dayton isn't open yet, but Columbus and Cleveland could get up on this.  I've always like dried fruit, but I was a little skeptical when I saw "Organic" and "no sugar added" on the freebies they sent me.  However, the stuff is delicious.  Will have a full-on product review coming your way soonly. 
  • Speaking of free food, I'll be giving away more freebies from McDonald's. You can call me a sell-out all you want, but I like giving people prizes, and the local indies aren't exactly chomping at the bit to give out coupons.  Hopefully, this one will go over better than the last, since it's a sandwich offering and not a salad.  I won't boast its low calorie content, because that will probably turn you all right off of it just like the salad.  Look out for another Facebook contest soon.  Unlike the last contest loot, I promise to get these prizes out in a timely fashion! 
  • I know you guy are probably all, "What the hell, Vizz?  You didn't post ANYthing during Restaurant week!"  Yeah, it's because I'm busy. Or lazy.  You decide.  Either way, we only had the time to go to McCormick & Schmick's, which was good, but not stellar.  Expect my review of that soon, along with the much-anticipated thoughts on Company 7 BBQ in Englewood*.                                         *According to Dre, always up to no good.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Simple Suppers: Penne alla Arribiatta

Because of my gluten allergy and lack of interest in finding good g/f pasta, the FvF blog has always been lacking in pasta recipes.  About six weeks into my pregnancy, I started having a serious aversion to most meats and was craving starch like a crazed person recovering from Adkins.  With my allergies, newfound pickiness, and Mr. FvF's selective palate, I had no idea what the hell we were going to eat for the next few months.  
We ate pasta a  few times, but it made me so sick that it was hardly worth it.  I remembered a friend telling me that the Ancient Grains quinoa blend pasta was so awesome that her kids and husband didn't know the difference when she used it.  After scouting all over God's creation for it, we finally ended up going to the Kroger by her house on Dayton-Yellow Springs Road to get a few boxes.  Note to Kroger:  this product would sell like stupid sunglasses at a Kanye West concert at ALL of your stores, so wise up and get your distro on.  I cooked just a smidge of it to check out the texture and loved it.  It's a quinoa-corn blend that cooks to a nice al-dente - but you have to make sure not to overcook it, or it will get pretty mushy.  The taste isn't any different than regular semolina pasta, nor is the texture when cooked right.  Now that I knew I could have pasta back in my life, I was really eager to get back to making my own sauces.  First up - penne a la arribiata! 

This is one of the simplest pasta sauces to make, and it doesn't require hours of stewing, like a bolognese. It has a super fresh taste, and is a perfect summer pasta dish.  Here's what you'll need (serves 2): 

Whole peeled plum tomatoes, San Marzano style*
2 oz pancetta, or 3-4 strips bacon, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1.5 C (dry) penne pasta
salt, pepper, olive oil to taste
Pecorino or romano cheese for garnish
*These are normally only available in large cans, so if you're cooking for two, you'll only need half. San Marzano style also already has basil leaves in with the tomatoes, but if you're using fresh tomatoes, feel free to ass your own freshly chopped basil.    

The sauce can basically be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta, so chop your bacon and mince your garlic while you're waiting on your pasta water to boil. Over medium heat, cook your bacon pieces until crisp, then remove them from the pan to drain on a paper towel and clean your saute pan (or just use another one). I like bacon fat just as much as the next gal, but we're not making carbonara here, that's another entry coming your way soon.  This dish should have a sassy, fresh flavor and you don't want it weighed down by fat.  

Reduce heat to mid-low, add a little olive to the pan and simmer your garlic (and onion if you prefer - but it's verboten in our house), then crush the tomatoes by hand over the pan, adding them as you do.  Add the red pepper flakes, re-introduce your bacon and salt & pepper to taste.  Sometimes I like to add a little nip of sugar, too, if I'm using canned tomatoes.  Bring it down to a simmer and let it hang out for a few more minutes while your pasta finishes cooking.  I know, I didn't tell you to do that - but come ON, you guys.  I'm not your mammy.  I can't do everything for you. 

Drain and rinse your pasta, then add the pasta to the sauce and toss it around until it's all coated in spicy tomato-y goodness.  Serve with a big heapin' helpin' of shredded romano or pecorino.  Parmesan works, too, but spend the extra few bucks on a brick and shred it yourself - not the stuff in the big green Kraft canister, you hillbilly.  

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Amici's Place - Kettering, Ohio

So, there's a new deal website akin to Groupon and LivingSocial called Seize the Deal.  The first email offer I got from them after signing up was for a joint called Amici's Place in Kettering on Dorothy Lane, where the old Barbie's Bistro used to be.  I didn't even know there was a new restaurant there, but apparently Seize the Deal made a bold move and offered the $20 for $10 gift certificate just as the place was opening.  Clever, because nothing will hurry me into a new eatery like a nearly-free meal.

It was a bit too hot to dine al fresco, but they do have a nice patio.  I'm actually already looking forward to next summer when I'm not making another human and can enjoy one of their signature Limoncellos on that sunny deck. We sat inside, where the tables are seemingly far fewer than outside.  I think there were maybe three or four tables and bar seating, which would accommodate half a dozen comfortably.  It's small in stature, but big on everything else important, as we soon found out.

I'd already perused the menu online, but once Mr. FvF got to check it out, we decided to get two 8" pizzas - since we never agree about what to get on a pie.  The small pizzas are $9 for a specialty and $7 for a build-your-own with three toppings.  The front house manager came and greeted us first, asking if this was our first time in, explaining their special bevvies and asking if we had any questions - then another nice fella came to take our order as he brought our drinks.  The Mister picked the Buffalo Chicken sans onions, and I opted for the Chicken Pesto, adding bacon (duh).  I also asked for one of their craft root beers, which was almost red in color and super tasty.

The food came out quite a bit faster than expected, considering the craft that goes into making a pizza like this, and looked absolutely amazing - not to mention massive.  When I think 8 inches in my mind - well, I won't tell you what that really brings to mind - but in terms of pizza, I was certainly thinking more along the lines of one of those crappy Pizza Hut personal pans.
If this pizza was only 8", I'll lick my own elbow.  There were eight solid slices, and I could barely finish three.  I seriously considered continuing to eat and just making myself ill with it, and I almost had to stage an intervention with Mr. FvF when he was eyeballing his sixth slice.  All of the ingredients were super fresh - the kind of fresh that you can actually taste.  Crispy bacon, bright tomatoes and long stretches of cheese.  Also, not the kind of fresh that gets skimped on just because they advertise fresh and locally grown ingredients that happen to cost more.  There was no shortage of toppings on these whatsoever.
The Mister's Buffalo Chicken Pizza didn't look like much, but was pretty killer, even to a gal who doesn't like hot sauce.  Heavy on the cheese (including bleu) with a sassy kick and super tender chicken.
The star of the pizzas at Amici's, though, is the crust.  Think along the lines of Dewey's, but then imagine if Dewey's had their asses handed to them by someone else.  Bubbled and raised perfectly, but not too thick or chewy.

As we boxed up our extra slices and paid our bill, the owner came over and asked how we liked everything.  I commended him on the excellent staff and food, and in an uncommon turn of events, actually told him I was a food blogger and would be giving his new venture a rave review. I don't think I've ever done that, but it was very thoughtful for him to come chat with his customers, and I feel that certain compliments deserve better than anonymous internet delivery.

So, stellar service and top-notch food - must be expensive, right?  Couldn't be further from the truth.  The price points are so spot on, that I'm hoping and praying they'll bring the kind of crowd Amici's need to stay put.  I've dined at nearly every eatery that's graced that spot in the last 8 years, and they were all overpriced and unimpressive.  I think the steepest thing on their spanking-new menu is a family spaghetti dinner for around $17.  They deliver, you can get carry-out, they have a great looking sandwich and salad menu, and they even have breakfast!  Still not enough for you?  They also host a farmer's market in the adjacent lot on Saturday mornings.

After several months of duds in the Gem City, I'm super pumped to give Amici's Place
5 out of 5 sporks!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

McDonald's brings back the Asian Salad - Facebook Contest!!!

Some of you might remember last year (maybe the year before), McDonald's added the Asian salad to their menu.  When I was on the hardcore dieting wagon, I was eating these things like someone was going to take them away.  360 calories including the chicken and dressing!  Then BOOM - they did take them away.  I had no idea they were seasonal.  Lucky for me, they're back.  Lucky for YOU, McD's sent me some freebie coupons to let me eaters try them out.

Here's how I'm going to do this:
The next five people to send me one or more new fans on Facebook get the coupons. Easiest way to accomplish this is by clicking "Share" on the bottom left menu when you go to the FvF Facebook page.  Make sure you tell your pals to post on the FvF wall that you sent'em (or you won't win, dummy)!

You may be wondering how to participate if you're not a fan of FvF on Facebook.  In that event, I might be wondering what the hell your problem is.  Not on Facebook at all?  You probably have an abacus or water wheel to tend to, so don't even worry about these delicious salads.  There's no better venue for the giveaway than ol' Facebook, considering this page is what likely prompted them to bring it back in the first place.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dragon King's Daughter - Louisville, KY

I figured it's high time I post this review since we ate there almost three damn months ago, and are headed back to the L-ville area soon for Derby City Con.  After some digging on UrbanSpoon, I couldn't wait to try this place.  After GPS-ing it and realizing it was so far off the beaten path, we almost opted for fast food instead because we wanted to get home so badly.  But, we persevered, got turned around a time or two, but eventually found it. It's in a little area that reminds me a lot of what the UD strip used to be like before it got all fancy-fied.  Just this side of seedy, but fine on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon.  Walking towards the place, we noticed all the windows open and Beck creeping out of the speakers as we got closer. We were quickly greeted and served by who I assume was the only server, and he took our drink orders and answered questions about the menu.  After I looked over the photos I took, I realized one side of the restaurant...

                         ...looked completely different than the other side, where we were sitting.
The decor didn't necessarily match the culinary vibe, but it also didn't seem freakishly out of place, as this place is probably brimming with hipsters on any other given day.

For starters, we got the Chorizo Yaki Onigiri  - a pan-fried rice ball laced with Mexican chorizo sausage & cilantro and drizzled with wasabi mayo.  The rice was a tad dry, but the wasabi drizzle helped in that area.  
  I ordered the Korean BBQ beef (aka bulgogi) tacos.  All tacos come in soft corn shells (though you can sub a bed of rice) with three toppings and one sauce. They all pretty much have a sauce assigned to them, but you can switch it out if something else looks better to you.  I chose spring mix, cilantro, avocado and wasabi mayo. The marinade on the ribeye was wonderfully sweet and the meat was super tender.  The avocados were actually ripe, which is a stretch for a lot of restaurants, and the spring mix that our server suggested added a nice crunchy element.  
The Mister opted for the Tilapia Tempura Tacos with avocado and mango salsa.  When asked how he felt about his meal, he replied with a muffled "This is fucking awesome!"  Good enough for me.

The priciest thing on their menu is around $14 - and our bill came out to around $20 before tax and tip, so the price is right on.  The menu is so expansive and interesting, it was brutal deciding what to order.  I'm very anxious to go back and try some of their "cooked sushi,"  with ingredients like chicken katsu and asparagus tempura.  Scoff if you will at the idea of cooked sushi, but being a food blogger doesn't mean I like everything, or am even interested in trying everything.  I'm not as refined as the judges on Iron Chef - and that's okay by me, because it means I'll never have to eat trout ice cream.  So, putting something other than uncooked fish and tasteless veggies into sushi widens my opportunities.  I'm really hoping we'll make it back there when we're in town for the con next month, so I suppose you'll have to wait and see what this cooked sushi is all about.  Unless of course, you make it there before me - which I highly recommend.  Great food, friendly service and a unique atmosphere.  I'd eat at DKD on the regular if I were a Louisville resident.  

5 out of 5 sporks!  

Dragon King's Daughter on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This is just a test: Tim Horton's New Panini Sandwiches

In case you guys didn't know, Dayton is one of the most revered test markets in the US.  We have such a smattering of cultures and tax brackets that we get to try almost every damn thing that food companies want guinea pigs for.   The shitty part about that is, if it doesn't do well enough, it doesn't launch and we never see it again.

I remember the torrid affair I had with Taco Bell's Border Fries in the summer of 2004 (Or was it 2003?).  Every night that I stumbled out of Walnut Hills, I simply did a u-turn out of their lot and stopped for Border Fries.  My day job was very manual and outdoors, so I didn't have to worry about the calories - just the awesome.  One night toward the end of the summer, I rolled up to the drive-thru only to find that they'd been replaced with some other unappealing, short-lived side item.  If you're sensing some resentment, it's probably because I'm still seething over it like a scorned lover.  You never even said goodbye, Border Fries!  We could have had something special!!  Basically, imagine you were banging Sofia Vergara for an entire summer, then she just gives you the vapors but leaves you Fergie's number - that's how I feel about it.

But, I digress.  What I was trying to get around to are Tim Horton's new Panini sandwiches.  Not only are they being test marketed right here in the Gem City, they're ONLY being tested marketed here in Dayton.

I think these launched sometime in April, or maybe early May.  Either way, it's a safe bet that it was cold and rainy here, which combined with my aversion to most meat, led me here to purchase a grilled ham & cheese.  I'm pretty sure all the paninis ring it just over $4, and you can choose from Tuscan Chicken, Pesto Chicken, Chipotle Turkey, Smoked Ham & Cheese and Tomato & Cheese.  The first one I ordered was the Pesto Chicken, which was really tasty, but also WAY messy.  Not a sandwich that should be eaten in the car, even if the car is not moving.  Nice pieces of white meat chicken, and I didn't sense much of the rib-meat filler that most placed use in chopped chicken.  The pesto and cheese blended together in a warm, ooey-gooeyness that made it a perfect rainy day lunch.  

When I ordered a week or so later, what I asked for was the smoked ham & cheese with tomato, but they chose to ignore that last part.  Regardless, it was still a damn tasty sandwich - except for the mayo that was apparently applied with a spackle knife.  You can order your 'wich on white or whole grain, and the whole grain is really, really good bread for fast food caliber.  It crisps up nicely and it sturdy enough not to give under heavy, melty contents.  I have yet to finish one of these paninis, even with the ravenous hunger I've been prone to lately.  Considering most sub-par fast food sandwiches will run you at least $4, T-Ho's new paninis are a hell of a value.  They lose half a point for not following my order and overdoing the mayo. I would take off another point for switching from Coke to Pepsi products, but that has zero to do with the sandwich.  

4.5 out of 5 sporks! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Got Apps! - Pesto Pinwheels

I know I still haven't finished my reviews from our Nashville trip in April, but I'm pretty damn tired of writing restaurant reviews right now.  Please click here for further explanation of my feelings on this matter.

Instead, I'm going to tell you about some delicious appetizers that I made for Mr. FvF's birthday dinner.  Appetizers are one of my favorite categories of foods to eat, but one of my least favorite to make.  Basically the concept is taking something that's great in its regular-sized form, then making 100 tiny ones. Pain in the ass, cue sad trombone.  You almost have it made, however, when you can basically still make a giant version and just cut it up into smaller pieces.

Enter crescent dough!  I always use the Pillsbury Recipe Creations dough, specifically to avoid pressing out all of those funky perforations.  This is one of the easiest, quickest, cheapest apps I've ever made, and it could be tarted up in any manner of different ways.  Here's what you'll need (makes about 24 pieces):

1 can crescent dough
1/4 C+ basil pesto
4 slices of prosciutto, chopped into bits (salami or very thin ham will do, too)
1/4 C hard Italian cheese, shredded (I used Romano)

Cut the dough into four rectangles, spread each with about a tablespoon of pesto, then sprinkle evenly with prosciutto and cheese.  Roll each dough sheet up lengthwise, so that you could cut 6 small slices out of each.  But wait, hoss - don't cut yet!  All the oily pesto + the butter in the dough + the heat of your fat little paws makes it impossible to slice.  Keep the rolls on a cutting board and toss them in the freezer for a few minutes, then get them back out and slice into 6 pieces per roll.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jack's BBQ - Nashville, Tennessee

The day after the atrocity of Rippy's BBQ, we planned on filling up at on Jack's for an early lunch.  We must have hit right at the magical hour, where there were only about 5 people in line in front of us, because they sure as hell piled in behind us.  The biggest difference between Jack's an Rippy's besides the food is the atmosphere.  Jack's is a bit beat up, wood as far as the eye can see, cafeteria style.  In my opinion, the way BBQ should be served if at all possible.  You wait in line, tell the guy with the cleaver what kind of meat you want (but don't dilly dally, he doesn't have time for your shit) - and if you're not a dick, you can probably get wishes granted like middle piece, end piece, charred or lots of bark. Then you tell the next employee on the line which sides you want, then another gal rings you up.  The cashier also does not have time for your shit - but not because she has a newly developed line of 15+ people to feed, but she's busy taking a personal call. 
You'll also need a keen Spidey sense to get a table.  If you have someone with you and know what you want, one of you can order and the other can grab a table if one is open. There are only about a dozen or fewer tables in the main room, and more upstairs on the roof.   

I got the brisket plate and Mr. FvF got the smoked sausage plate.  I got hooked up with the brisket, because dude took a new slab out of the cabinet instead of giving me what was left of the one he'd been working off of.  To boot, he asked if I wanted middle or end since I was getting first pick.  Pile on the bark, please!!
When I sat down with my plate, another couple actually admired my brisket (I get that a lot), mentioning that it looked much better than what they'd been sliced off just a few minutes earlier.  I picked cucumber salad and baked apples for my sides; the Mister got corn and mac & cheese, and we both had cornbread.  

I failed to get awesome pictures of the food, but you get the idea. I do wish I could have gotten better light on the brisket, because you could see the smoke ring a mile away. It was so beautiful I almost wept, and it tasted just as good.  The perfect amount of seasoning, smoke and moisture.  A lot of other places couldn't get away with serving their brisket with nothing but styrofoam plates and flimsy plastic forks (Hickory River, I'm looking in your direction), but Jack's manages to achieve even plastic-fork-tenderness.  I think they had 3 sauces - mustard-based, traditional and hot.  I think I tried some of the gold sauce and liked it, but for the most part, sauce wasn't required.  

I wasn't nuts about the cucumber salad, but I can't remember why (yet another reason to not get two months behind on entries).  The apples were super tasty, but it was pretty damn hot out, so it felt a bit too heavy to finish them.  But, the brisket portion was more than enough to fill my belly, and I still ended up giving some to the Mister.  

Mr. FvF was probably happier with this smoked sausage than anyplace he's ordered it outside of Texas.  We traded bites and it was *super* tasty.  It wasn't greasy at all, and the skin had that crispiness to it that snapped when you bit into it, which is what sells me on it.  The inside was perfectly tender and well-cooked and it had a nice, strong smoke flavor without being too salty or overpowering.  He said the corn was really sweet and memorable, the mac & cheese not so much.  Cornbread was so-so - a bit mealy for my taste, but not really dry or lacking in flavor.  

For about $9 each, this was a lot of food for a fair price.  I'm not sure either of us fully finished ours.  the couple that commented on my plate was proof positive that an ill-timed visit to Jack's may not yield as perfect results, but we certainly lucked out.  They were just prepping for their lunch rush, and nothing had been sitting around for that long.  As always, I base my reviews on MY experience, not what someone else has seeded in my head about the place.  Service is a bit inapplicable, but if you're looking for bubbly and jovial, you're in the wrong place.  Know what you want when you get to the counter.  Other than that, be prepared for a short wait in line, getting creative to find seating and some kick ass BBQ.  

5 out of 5 sporks! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rippy's Smokin' Bar & Grill - Nashville, TN

Yeah, remember how I went to Nashville six weeks ago?  Well, I'm finally getting around to telling you about it.  I'd gone a few years ago and remembered really liking Jack's BBQ, but not bothering with Rippy's BBQ.  A good friend of ours went about a year ago and insisted that Rippy's was 100 times better than Jack's.  Despite the piss-poor reviews of Rippy's on Yelp! and UrbanSpoon, I wanted to go back and try both, just to settle the debate.

We got into the 'ville just before dinnertime, so we freshened up and promptly hit the town.  Our (shitty) hotel was practically in Printer's Alley, so we were within a close walk of almost anyplace downtown.  There was a hockey game happening, so the streets and shops on Broadway were getting crowded fast.  I decided we'd try Rippy's the first night because I didn't want to end the trip on a sour note in case it sucked. Good thinking on my part.  

It took a while for us to be greeted, and regardless of the fact that we asked for a booth, the waitress sat us at a high-top table right in front of the window.  As long as we sat waiting for beverages, we put our order in right away in fear of how long it might take.  We both opted for the pulled pork basket with different sides.  

 The pork was okay - just okay.  they sprinkle some kind of "proprietary seasoning" over top of it that perhaps is supposed to make me think it's been dry-rubbed.  All it makes me think is, "I wonder if Longhorn is pissed that Rippy's stole their patented Prairie Dust?"  Our friend had also raved about the sauce, which I tried in spite of my better judgement.  We've been over this, eaters - good barbecue does not. Need. Sauce. I'm willing to try and give a sauce kudos to complimenting the meat when warranted, but this was not one of those times.  It had a decent spice to it, but was a vinegary disaster.  The Mister didn't care for his baked beans because they had big chunks of onions mixed in. That doesn't mean they were bad, just not for him.  Fries were decent, but likely of the frozen persuasion.
My onion rings were mighty tasty, but didn't make up for the sub-par pulled pork, or the diabetes-inducing sugar-laden cole slaw.  I'm a big fan of a sweet, dairy based slaw, but this bordered on unrecognizable. Plus it was hot inside and out, and I don't think the slaw had been well refrigerated.  Regardless of where it's from - if the slaw's not cold, I ain't the kind of gal to eat it.

Service is to Rippy's what a pleasant experience is to your local bargain theater.  They're not mutually exclusive.  The water glasses were mostly left empty and our server never asked if we wanted refills on our cocktails.  Our buddy had asked us to bring him back a bottle of their  barf amazing sauce, which we asked for twice and never got.

2 out of 5 sporks! 

Rippy's Smokin' Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 9, 2011

Food vs Face-Off: Gluten-free Waffle Thunderdome

In order to get my warm weather figure back on track, I decided I had to start eating breakfast again to get my metabolism going in the morning.  I'm not the world's biggest yogurt fan, have teeth too sensitive for cold cereal in the morning, and refuse to leave myself time to make a proper breakfast.  Pile that on top of my body's general disdain for wheat products, and I'm a bit short on options.  A few weeks ago when I was passing over the crunchy hippie in Kroger - y'know, that small area between produce and the bakery where you assume nothing tastes good - I noticed more than one option of gluten-free frozen waffles.  Van's has bold, clever packaging and caught my eye right away.  I'd always known Van's products to be superb to most frozen varietals from my dieting days, so I was amped to try it. And the magic word - SALE.  Kroger has pretty much consistently had these waffles on sale for over one month - 2 for $5.   I picked up a box of the Van's g/f Blueberry Waffles and decided to give them a whirl.

The next morning, I recalled from leaner times (not with weight, just with money) that frozen waffles never really get warm enough in the middle from toasting alone, so I nuked it for about 10 seconds first.  A little butter and some maple sizzurp and you've got yourself a fine breakfast, even for the tenderest bellies.  These waffles not only have blueberries in them, but are also sweetened with fruit juice, so it is actually apparent that you're consuming a blueberry product.  As for the texture, a gluten-eater wouldn't know it from an Eggo.  It's crisp on the outside, soft and chewy inside.   In the following weeks I also tried the plain (too plain for this gal, even dressed up) and the apple cinnamon, but neither won my heart like the blueberry.

The photos below aren't mine - I had to steal them from the interwebs because the last thing I'm thinking of in the morning is taking photos of my food for you guys.  I need that time to saddle up these sweater monkeys and clean my shotgun.  More importantly, I'm pointing out the source because this philistine put peanut butter on a blueberry waffle.

The following week, I was equally tempted by the sales price of another brand - Kinnikinnick.  You have no idea how long it took me to type that shit.  I grabbed a box of their Brown Sugar & Cinnamon G/F Waffles for just under $3.  Out of the box, they were visibly wimpier than the Van's, but I was willing to let that go if they had the flavor and texture on lock.  Prepped one the exact same way as the others, nuking it just slightly beforehand, then toasting.  Buttered, sizzurped, and dove in expecting a whirlwind of rich cinnamon & brown sugar flavor.

No dice.  The hint of flavor was just that - and the texture was all wrong.  Was I sleepwalking at Kroger again and picked up some kind of fancy dog food waffles?  These were rubbery and spongy, nothing like my beloved, buttery, crispy Van's.  That's what you get for buying Canadian, kids.

G/F Waffle Thunderdome:  Van's is victorious! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

El Mazatlan - Cave City, KY

 Finally got a chance to put my UrbanSpoon app for Droid to great use.  Starving, and in an area of Kentucky that's only known for Dinosaur World and Stucky's, I locked in on a price point and shook my phone furiously until it provided a result that sounded good to both Mr. FvF and I. We whipped around the corner to El Mazatlan, which wasn't packed, save for a late lunch crowd.

We were greeted, seated, and had our drink orders taken right away.  They had a pretty decent looking menu, and the Mister was thrilled to see Huevos con Chorizo on the menu.  I didn't see anything out of the ordinary that really jumped out at me, so I stuck with the old standby - flautas.  I know, I know - but I'm a sucker for giant taquitos.  We had no more than each smoked a cigarette (Kentucky can be awesome!) before our orders came a'sizzlin' to the table.  As usual, I sampled Mr. FvF's and kept all of mine for myself - so I can attest that they were both really flavorful.
 Maybe Los Reyes in Kettering can find out where they get their chorizo, considering it actually tastes like something. My flautas were crispy and juice, but not greasy - plenty of well-seasoned meat and I think just a hint of melty cheese in there, too.
Beans and rice were...well, beans and rice.  I probably haven't had better, and I've certainly had worse.  Large draft beers were only $2, which was cheaper than a soda.  Yeah, I know it was just shy of 2 p.m., but I was on vacation, you Puritans.  Service was fast, friendly and we got out of there for under $20.

5 out of 5 sporks! 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Michael O'Toole's - Columbus, Ohio

I'll start off by saying that I added and removed the tag "Irish pub" from this post at least six times before just leaving it there. No matter how drunk I was when I got there, this place was no more Irish than my Uncle Mario. The most Irish thing about Michael O'Toole's is the name itself, which is a complete misnomer. I have a feeling that the person who came up with the concept feels that serving pasta and ribs is as authentic to Ireland as clover tattoos on St. Patrick's Day and Celtic tattoos on fat, pasty white folks.  If you're a dirty mick, people just deduce your heritage when you spit on cab drivers or your husband openly mocks your drinking problem.  At least that's what I hear.  At any rate, you don't have to go advertising it, and false advertising is even worse.

That said, they had a good looking beer list, and a decent, yet incoherent menu.  We ordered an appetizer sampler, but nothing was really memorable. My entree, the prosciutto and Gorgonzola stuffed chicken was tasty, but small.  When I read "whole airline chicken breast" I was expecting a fair amount of bird, but what arrived on my plate was somewhere under six ounces.  They left the skin on, which I think is great.  There are several different opinions about this, but in fancier-pants cooking, skin-on is the way to go.  It retains all of the moisture and a fair amount more seasoning than boneless-skinless.  The bird was well-seasoned and you could actually tell what it'd been stuffed with, without having read the menu description. 
I didn't get much scoop on the food that the other gents ordered.  You see, as much as I always detested Seinfeld, there was a lot to George Costanza's theory about worlds colliding.  It's a bit of a push for me to report on dining I did on business trips, but I'm certainly not going to ask my co-workers how their dinner hits their palate.  FvF world must stay completely separated from regular work world, as well as in-law world. 

Service was okay - just okay.  Nothing to write home about, and he wasn't very knowledgeable about their wines or top shelf bar items.  The price points, in my opinion, are a little steep, considering portion sizes.  The part of the menu that almost made me stroke out was the side orders.  Mac & cheese, cole slaw, fries, wild rice, any of them - $5 each.  Yeah, American dollars.   Shut the front door!  Do they have a special decoder ring in them?  Are they gemmed with gold bullion?  Will they be spoon-fed to me by an oiled-up immigrant?  Chewed up by my server and spit back into my mouth like I'm a baby bird?   If the answer to any or all of those questions is no, then I can see that we're quite finished here. 

3.5 out of 5 sporks!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Char Bar - Columbus, Ohio

Plans of rummaging all over the Cap City for the greatest food were marred by the late March snow we got both days I was in Columbus for work.  At least I was prepared for it, though I can't say as much for my Texan co-worker.  The first day of the convention it wasn't too terribly cold, but started snowing just as we left for lunch.  I hadn't brought a hat, so I opted for the closest place open for lunch - Char Bar.  I really wanted to go to Martini, which was equally close - but not open for lunch.  What the hell, Columbus.  Arena District eateries - you could have made a stone-cold fortune during this convention, but hardly any of you were open for lunch.

The menu had a fair amount of choices as far as salads, burgers, sandwiches and wraps, and even some fork & knife options.  One thing I wasn't expecting was the handful of Hungarian menu items, and I made a snap decision to order the Chicken Paprikash.  The food took a little longer than I'd have liked to come out, but it gave us time to get our shop talk out of the way. 

The menu didn't note what my dish came with, aside from Texas toast - so I just hoped and prayed that the little dumplings served with the chicken were gnocchi and not wheat pasta dumplings.  Either way, I was eating them, because the chicken was gnarly.  It had a consistency somewhere between chicken thighs and the overly-processed, mechanically-separated stuff that comprises the "grilled chicken breasts with rib meat" that you find in the freezer section.  The sauce was decent, but not on par with other similar Hungarian sauces I've had.  I'd love to show you a photo, but blogger is STILL being a dick and only the top third of the photo will upload. 

Service was decent enough, but price points were a little out of range for the food you're getting - mostly due in part to the area you're in and your lack of options.  Next year, I'll just eat at one of the 20 places *inside* the Columbus Convention Center. 

2.5 out of 5 sporks!

Char Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

First Watch - Fairborn, Ohio

Before a day of people-watching at Gem City Comic Con, my sister and I decided to grab some brunch and take in some retail therapy to make sure we had enough regular people smell on us that the nerds didn't think we were one of them.  I love eggs, so brunch and BFD are basically just excuses for me to order omelettes at non-agreed upon times of day. 

First Watch has perturbed me on a few occasions - from their $2/ea a la carte eggs, to their unexplained removal of chorizo items from certain area restaurants, to their comination of chicken into omelettes (one life stage at a time there, folks).  Luckily for me, they did offer the mexican sausage-laden options at the Fairborn location.  Unlucky for them, they did a shit job of them. 

I ordered the Acapulco Express omelette, and Skillz ordered the Grilled Turkey Sandwich.   She remarked that her sandwich was damn tasty, but she didn't care a ton for the marinated side salad, due to all of the cucumbers (one of her mortal enemies).  But, that's alright, I took care of that for her.


As for my sides - fruit is fruit and if you're seen one English muffin, you've seen them all. I can't say that my omelette was bad - it had a sufficient amount of veggies and cheese, but even upon opening it up like a cadaver, I could only find about a dime's worth of chorizo. 

If I wanted a vegetarian omelette, that's what I would've ordered, assfaces. 

Price points here are almost in proportion with the menu, which is great if you get what you ordered.  But, when you pay almost $9 for a meatless omelette it seems pretty skewed.  Service was good, but not outstanding. The wait (even for 1pm on a Sunday) was a bit much, especially considering there is no place for hungry diners to wait, no pagers and no loudspeaker.  You just have to meander around in the cold (or heat, depending on time of year) close to the door and hope you hear when your name is called.  

Not that I was counting on First Watch to make the cut, but I'm still on the hunt for good, reasonably-priced brunch spots around D-town.

2.5 out of 5 sporks!

First Watch on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Los Reyes - Kettering, Ohio

Mr. Fvf and I have been going out for dinner much more often than we should lately. My longer hours and more grueling days at work make for a lousy housewife, but also mean finances are fast and loose, and we can basically dine out whenever we please. So - more reviews for you, but bigger front-butts for us. Can't win'em all. One of the many Fridays that I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to look at and dismiss anything in our cupboards, we decided to check out Los Reyes. It's always been hard for us to make it to a meal there. We either completely forget about it, or get pulled in by the tractor beam of Christopher's Restaurant a few doors down. I'd heard quite a few good things and not a single bad thing about Los Reyes, so I figured it was high time to get around to it.

The hostesses were very friendly, but also very in violation of child labor laws. I would be shocked if they were a day over 13. Regardless, we were seated quickly and had our drink orders taken right away. The place was nearly packed, just as much as any other place would be on Friday evening during dinner rush. I obviously wasn't the only one that had either discovered or was hoping for a diamond in the rough.

Their menu did lack a little bit in the "entrees not involving flour tortilla" department, so I stuck with my usual suspects, the flautas (two beef, two chicken).

Mr. FvF went straight for the entree containing the most of his favorite sausage, Pollo con Chorizo.

You'll have to excuse blogger for being a total dickweed today and not letting me align or justify much of anything at all.  Due to that, I'm really tired of monkeying with this entry and I'll just give you a very forward opinion.  Wasn't impressed. My flautas didn't even come with beans or rice.  Almost everything needed more salt, or more seasoning. Must have been the blandest chorizo I've ever tasted, and I'm almost certain that they used flour tortillas for my flautas regardless of what the menu stated.  The price was right and the service was good, but the food just wasn't impressive.  It wasn't bad, but it certainly wasn't great.  We'll probably stick with our old favorites next time when it comes to Mexican food. 

3 out of 5 sporks!

Los Reyes on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bunkers Bar & Grill - Vandalia, OH

I'm shamefully behind on posts right now.  So behind, in fact, that I made Hamburger Helper for dinner just so I'd have time to hammer a few out.  Don't weep for me, you guys.  And don't front like you never show some 'Helper who's boss.  Over the last couple of weeks, I've eaten my way through at least three different cities.  But, before that, I tried out plenty of places in Dayton that I haven't gotten around to telling you about.  After the boys fell in love with some wing sauce from a local restaurant that they bought at Dot's Market, we decided we had to go right to the source and check out Bunker's Bar & Grill for ourselves.

It was dark outside when we arrived, but not much brighter inside the place.  We looked around waiting for someone to seat us, but everyone mostly just stared, so we seated ourselves.  Our very put-out waitress got three of our drink orders, and just walked away and left the fourth person hanging.  Seriously.  We had finished our huge tumblers of soda before she ever came back around for our food orders.

Despite the under $10 shrimp dinner, Mr. FvF decided for boneless wings in their Firecracker sauce, which is a pretty damn spicy Thai chili flavor.  I went with boneless wings as well, but in the much sissier spicy garlic sauce. We also ordered the Po'Anna and JalapeƱo Bottlecaps to share for apps.  It took forever to get out food, and our drinks were never refilled while we waited on the grub.
This was the Po'Anna - shredded potatoes, deep fried and covered in melted cheddar, bacon bits, ranch dressing and chives.  Much like Tanya Harding's teen years, this was a white trash party in your mouth.  The fried shredded spuds were less like a big mess of hash browns and more like those Tater Sticks that come in a can.

The photo of the chicken chunks is just obligatory - you've seen one, you've seen'em all.  I do wish I'd gotten a pic of the real wings, because they were pretty massive in size.  The Firecracker sauce was still right up the boys' alley, but still way too spicy for this ol' gal.  My "spicy garlic" sauce was slightly above par for the salty disaster that usually awaits me when I order anything garlic.  It wasn't spicy, but it was fairly garlicky.  Not too shabby.  The Sweet & Mild sauce, however, was really interesting.  It was very, VERY sweet - like the Cinnabon of wing sauces.  I can't say it wasn't damn tasty, though.   I always have a soft spot for house-made sauces, but they have a little work to do if their customers want more of a variety than sweet, salty, and balls-out hot.

The price points were so right on, I almost felt like I was stealing...then I realized the service had not only not improved, but slowly gotten more and more non-existent.  I considered chalking this up to us being newbs  - this looking like the kind of place where they have a lot of regulars.  But, then we overheard a table of regulars bemoaning the same server.  Overall - decent food, decent beer menu, good prices.  But, you all know that a bad service experience will sour me on a place in a hurry.  As far of a hike as this was (clear out on 40 in Vandalia), I think I'll just keep buying their Firecracker sauce at Dot's for Mr. FvF and selectively forgetting that Bunker's is a place you can visit.

2.5 out of 5 sporks!

Bunkers Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon