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Monday, August 29, 2016

Lawrence, Kansas: Middle Of The Road Thai On Mass

Baan Thai

741 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 856-8424
Website: baanthaikansas.com/lawrence

With a love for Thai food, I had high expectations after reading the rave reviews, particularly by my friend Scott T. on Yelp who (normally) has very similar opinions as mine when it comes to food.
In the middle of downtown Mass Street (as residents of LFK call it), I had stopped by Baan Thai for a look once before and the menu seemed appetizing and reasonable, but the decor put me off as it did on this our first visit. With cement floors, orange plastic-backed chairs (which, by the way, possibly acrylic and not cheap), and little decor, the inside is not warm and inviting, at least to my taste.


Josh, our server, was very nice, efficient and professional, but the dishes came out one at a time. Josh said it was because they are "made to order", but are most decent restaurants making food to order, bringing appetizers out together and entrees all at the same time?
First, the Pot Stickers (6 for $4.95) came out. The pork, cabbage, and onion dumplings were deep-fried and served with a soy-based dipping sauce. They were good, but were more dumpling than filling. We waited for 10-15 minutes for our Chicken Satay (4 for $6.95) to arrive, so when Josh asked me a question about my entree, I inquired about our second appetizer. He scurried to the kitchen with little explanation and after another ten minutes, our satay finally arrived. The marinated skewers of charbroiled chicken were accompanied by the traditional peanut sauce and cucumber salad, and were also pretty good, but both were overpriced by about a buck and would have been much better together as I like to dip my pot stickers in the soy AND peanut sauce.
My wife's Pad See-Ew ($9.95) was next to arrive. The rice noodles were stir fried with egg and broccoli with enough spices to make the dish tasty without being too hot as my spouse cannot tolerate food that is too spicy, a pitfall of most Italians. She loved it and it was plentiful, but eggs, noodles, and broccoli are not a good combination in my book.
My Gang Massaman Curry ($11.75) arrived 5-7 minutes later. Massaman curry is one of my favorites and I have had it at many Thai restaurants. This was far from the best I have had although the curry was flavorful. The coconut milk based curry, traditionally simmered with beef, was not nearly as thick (a bit on the watery side) as any other I have had and the potatoes were not cooked quite enough. When Josh had come out to ask me about my entree earlier, he had asked if I minded having "sliced" beef rather than "boiled" beef, assuming that he meant that the beef had not been simmering for 60-90 minutes in the curry sauce as should be the case. Even though I agreed, the sliced beef was plentiful enough, but was a tad on the chewy side, not tough or grisly, but not as tender as it should have been. The yellow onions were tender, but the boiled peanuts were a also bit too raw.

My wife and I were both excessively thirsty later that evening and I had stomach cramps, a potential sign of MSG being used. I later checked their website and menu and there was not a claim of "No MSG" that I could find, so it you have a sensitivity to it, I would definitely ask in advance of ordering. I am not saying that they use MSG, but our symptoms were consistent with ingestion of the additive/flavor enhancer, so if they do not use it, they should say so on the menu.
Our meal was good, not great, the prices fair, the servings generous, and the service efficient, but compared to other Thai/Asian Fusion restaurants, including Zen Zero just up the street, this one was very "middle of the road".

CombatCritic Gives Baan Thai A Very Average 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

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Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Baan Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Lawrence, Kansas: Middle Of The Road Thai On Mass

Key Words: Baan Thai, baan, Thai, Thailand, curry, Lawrence, Kansas, Mass, Massachusetts, street, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = "Continue Mission"

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Gresham, OR: Relatively Hoppy With This Burger And Brew Experience

The Local Cow

336 N. Main Street
Gresham, OR 97030
Phone: (503) 489-5116
Website: thelocalcow.biz

The Hoppy Brewer

328 N. Main Street
Gresham, OR 97030
Phone: (503) 328-8474
Good burgers and fries with a brewhouse nextdoor. What more can you ask for? Sit on the patio between the two and have a Local Cow burger and fries and a couple craft beers from the Hoppy Brewer ... HOOAH!
I had a cheeseburger ($7.50) with bacon ($2) and sauteed onions ($1) for a total of $10.50. It came with fries which were paltry and uninspiring. My friends had a burger and Mount Hood Wedge ($9) and we got some beers from the adjacent Hoppy Brewer.
My burger was good, but at 1/3 pound, not particularly overwhelming and the fries were few and far between, closer to a garnish than a side. $9 for a wedge of iceberg lettuce with some cherry tomatoes, bacon bits, and balsamic vinaigrette was a tad excessive and would have been a much better value in the $5 range.
The Hoppy Brewer had some nice drafts, but the Porter from the fridge at less than $5 a pint was awesome and $5 well spent. They were knowledgable and helpful, delivering quality brews at reasonable prices. The brews from the Hoppy Brewer sealed the deal, otherwise this would have been a 5 or 6 bomb experience.
CombatCritic Gives The Local Cow And Hoppy Brewer 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Seven Bombs Equates To:
"Shits & Grins"

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

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The Local Cow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!
















Title: Gresham, OR: Relatively Hoppy With This Burger And Brew Experience

Key Words: Local Cow, local, cow, Hoppy Brewer, hoppy , brewer, beer, hamburger, Gresham, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: S&G = "Shits and Grins"





Saturday, August 13, 2016

Eureka, CA: Good, Authentic, Mexican Food In A Mall Food Court ... Go Figure

Los Gallos Taqueria

3300 Broadway Street, Suite 612
Bayshore Mall Foodcourt
Eureka, CA 95501
Phone: (707) 443-4631
Prices: $$$$

Good, authentic, reasonably priced  Mexican food in a mall food court. Go figure.

I had difficulty finding this place until I realized that it was in the Bayshore Mall food court. As you are looking at the front of the mall, the food court is inside the glassed-in area between the middle and left end of the mall. You will find Los Gallos immediately straight ahead on the right.
Wanting to sample a variety of Mexican staples, I ordered the guacamole and chips  ($3.75), a carne asada and a carnitas taco with cheese ($2.50 each), and a cheese and onion enchilada ($2.50) ala carte. The guacamole was fair at best, obviously from Sysco or cut with yogurt or sour cream and with too many tomatoes which are cheaper than avocados, a trick many restaurants use to same money.
The tacos were authentic and tasty with two medium size soft corn tortillas each, sliced grilled steak/pork, onion, cilantro, salsa and cheese (actually, cheese is not authentic on tacos, but I like it) with plenty of meat. The enchilada was also very good with a zesty red chili sauce, with plenty of cheese and diced onion.
For under $12, I ate very well and, with the exception of the guacamole, the food was good, not great, and plentiful. I am always amazed that most Mexican restaurants cannot seem to make a decent guacamole because it is very simple to make and at 50¢ to $1 per avocado, the profit margin is still 300-400% using only avocadoes and no fillers. See my post for an excellent guacamole recipe!

CombatCritic Gives Los Gallos Taqueria 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Los Gallos Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato









Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Eureka, CA: Good, Authentic, Mexican Food In A Mall Food Court ... Go Figure

Key Words: Los Gallos Taqueria, los, gallos, taqueria, taco, tacos, Bayshore, Eureka, California, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: S&G = "Shits & Grins"

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Eureka, CA: If You Are Hungry And Want Italian, Marcelli's Is The Place For You

Marcelli’s Ravioli & Sausage Factory

1323 5th Street
Eureka, CA 95501
Phone: (707) 442-1213
Prices: $$$$

If you are hungry, you will not be when you leave Marcelli's. The prices looked a bit high at first glance, but once the food started arriving, I understood why. My $15.95 Ravioli included not one, but FIVE courses: antipasto, soup, salad, entree with garlic bread, and dessert.

They have been in the same building for over 80 years, handed down from generation to generation. The interior has a classic 1950's diner look with a cheesy Italian flare. The place must have had a lunch counter originally because, although still there, it now serves as their bar.
My young server was very friendly and attentive, happily answering questions and ensuring my next course came out as soon as I was done with the last. As I mentioned, I had the Ravioli dinner with an equal mixture of beef, cheese, and spinach ravioli, 12 in all and handmade on-site.

But first, I was brought a small antipasto with two fried beef ravioli, two slices of salami, a Tuscan pepper, a baby carrot, and a slice of celery. It seemed rather sparse, but I still was not aware that there were four more courses to come, so that was probably a good thing. It seemed odd that a basket of bread did not accompany the appetizer, so I asked if I could get some bread. After a surprised look, as if nobody had ever asked for bread before, she asked if I wanted it toasted or not and went in the back. What she brought me was a slice of thick, white bread, the kind they make Texas toast with. All righty then!

Next came the soup, then the salad. The bowl of soup was actually quite big and tasty, not needing extra seasoning as is the case at most places. The salad came out of a bag (see recommendations below), but was fresh and the bleu cheese dressing was very good, homemade I was told, by one of the owners.
The ravioli were good, but on the small side with much more pasta than filling. The Bolognese sauce looked more like a meat gravy (it looked browner than it does in the photo above), but it was tasty nonetheless. The accompanying garlic bread came out of the same bag as my untoasted Texas toast, but it was also well done considering. The serving size would have been disappointing had I not had an appetizer, bowl of soup and a salad beforehand, but at $6.99 for the ala carte version, it would appear a little lean.
I was stuffed! Then my server asked me what kind of ice cream I wanted. Ice cream too? Yes, chocolate, vanilla, and spumoni as a matter of fact. I decided to go all in and ordered the spumoni, which was actually quite good, not tasting like it came out of a gallon container, which it likely did.

In all, I was somewhat hesitant at first after perusing the menu and seeing the prices as well as the noticeable lack of clientele, but I am glad I stuck around. Far from the best (or worst) Italian food I have had, my meal was pretty damn good and a good value.

Recommendations: 
  1. Serve a decent baguette-style bread, in a basket, with meals
  2. A very small serving of marinara sauce or dressing should accompany the appetizer as the fried ravioli were a bit dry
  3.  Put a door on the kitchen so guests cannot hear your conversations and see you taking the salad out of a bag
  4. Make the ravioli a little bigger, roll the dough a little thinner and increase the fillings a tad, even if you need to charge a little more
  5. Let people know on the menu that dinners also come with dessert and stress the fact that they will be getting a FIVE-COURSE meal
  6. Join the 21st Century and get a website, even a simple one, and a Facebook page at the very least. People these days want to see your menu, hours, and some photos before committing to a meal. And for God's sake, DO NOT use a Facebook page as your website like a lot of businesses do. It does not convey a professional image.
CombatCritic Gives Marcelli’s Ravioli & Sausage Factory 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Seven Bombs Equates To:
Menu







Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

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Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Eureka, CA: If You Are Hungry And Want Italian, Marcelli's Is The Place For You

Key Words: Marcelli’s Ravioli & Sausage Factory, Marcelli's, Marcelli, ravioli, sausage, factory, Eureka, CA< California, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians:  S&G = "Shits & Grins"

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Yachats, OR: Her Name May Be Swiss, But Heidi Can Cook Italian ... BRAVO!

Heidi’s Italian Dinners

84 Beach Street
Yachats, OR 97498
Phone: (541) 547-4409
Facebook Page: Heidi's Italian Dinners
Prices: $$$$

Not a rousing welcome to begin with, I'll spare you the details, but the evening rallied on and I was a fan by night's end. Heidi's is a cute, but somewhat nondescript building inside with a nice garden that happens to overlook the Yachats River Estuary, adjoining the massive and majestic Pacific Ocean.
I stopped by on Tuesday, but they were closed, seeing a woman I suspected was Heidi watering the plants, She was friendly and helpful, but obviously had better things to do than chat with me. I made a reservation for the following evening.
I had a table next to the window with a partial view of the estuary and ocean less than 100 yards away. Everyone was friendly enough, but matter of fact with little interaction. I ordered the Caesar Salad ($4) the Lasagna ($17), and a bottle of local IPA ($4.50).
The Caesar was proceeded by an array of garlic bread slices and grilled polenta on which to nosh. The salad was of medium size and well done with three croutons scattered about. I saved some of the polenta and garlic bread, utilizing it on the salad and adding a bit of texture to the dish once the croutons were toast.
The lasagna was the coup de grâce. Heidi obviously comes from Italian descent because this was as good as any homemade lasagna I have had, including my mom's (sorry mom) and my grandma's among several others. When there is no need to add grated parmigiana (parmesan to Americans) to a pasta dish, it is properly made. Not large for the $17 price tag by any stretch, even though delicious, it would have been a better value in the $10-$13 range (taking the location and view into account) or $14-$17 if the salad were included.

CombatCritic Gives Heidi's Italian Dinners 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... Mor eBombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:
Heidi's Italian Dinners
Heidi's Italian Dinners
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16

Tabelog - Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!





Title: Yachats, OR: Her Name May Be Swiss, But Heidi Can Cook Italian ... BRAVO!

Key Words: Heidi's Italian Dinners, Heidi, Heidi's, Italian, dinners, Yachats, OR, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, lasagna, pasta, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: S&G = "Shits & Grins"