Monday, September 29, 2014

United States Air Force Academy ... Enough Said!

After having worked at USAFA as an assistant professor and counselor, and being a retired Air Force officer, I must admit that I am a bit biased. BUT ... the Academy IS THE BOMB!

The most majestic location of any of our service academies (sorry West Point and Annapolis), the scenery is awe inspiring. The iconic Cadet Chapel with its towering spires and modern design is the centerpiece, but there is so much more to see.

The Eisenhower Golf Courses (Blue and Silver) are top-notch, abutting the Rampart Range and challenging even the best golfers, particularly the Robert Trent Jones designed 7,200+ yard Blue Course. I have seen a 12-point buck (deer) and his harem standing next to the tee munching on an early morning breakfast of grass and, just the other day, a group of wild turkeys foraging through the thickets surrounding the par 5 5th hole (Blue).

Enter through the North Gate off of I-25 and follow the signs to the Visitor's Center where you can see many exhibits and take a short walk to the overlook and an up close view of the Cadet Chapel and "The Terrazo" where you can view cadets marching to and from classes, lunch, and appointments during the school year.

CombatCritic Gives the United States Air Force Academy 10 Bombs Out of 10



Key Words: USAFA, United States Air Force Academy, US, air, force, Air Force, academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Springs, military, service, cadet, cadets, Eisenhower, golf, course, Robert Trent Jones, CombatCritic

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Arceo's: Good, Consistent, Authentic Mexican Food at Reasonable Prices

Arceo's
4608 Rusina Rd Colorado Springs, CO 

Phone: (719) 264-0143
$$$$$







The exterior leaves quite a bit to be desired, cracked cement sidewalks, poorly maintained landscaping, and a building in need of some TLC, but once inside a rainbow of color hits you like Dorothy experienced when exiting her house for there first time in the Land of Oz.

At $2.75, the guacamole is excellent and a terrific value when compared to similar portions in Kansas and Missouri (and Amanda's Fonda) going for $5 to $7. The chips and salsa are made in house, complimenting the guacamole well. Their margaritas are not great, lacking flavor (and alcohol) and at $5 for a small house margarita, not a good value.

The Enchilada Tapatia, a rolled flour tortilla filled with chicken, onions and green peppers, cheese, and refried beans, then topped with enchilada sauce, melted cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole ($7.00), was massive and filling.

The Number One (#1 - $7.75), three crispy tacos with choice of ground beef, chicken, or shredded beef and lettuce, shredded cheese, and tomato chunks comes with rice and beans. I ordered the shredded beef variety and was disappointed by not only the taste of the beef, but also because the meat had not been drained well and by the time I got to my second taco they were soggy and falling apart. I do not enjoy eating tacos with a fork, but had no other choice. When I told the server about my disappointing experience, she said "sorry" and walked off.

The cheese and onion enchilada combination plate ($8.50) comes with three enchiladas stuffed with cheddar cheese and topped with sliced onion and a choice of red or green chili sauce, accompanied by rice and beans. These are some of the best enchiladas in Colorado Springs and eastward to Missouri.

Having eaten at this and Arceo's South Nevada Avenue location on numerous occasions over the years, I have to say that this was not the best experience we have had. But everybody has a bad day now and then and Arceo's has been consistently good in quality and value in a state not well known for great Mexican food.

CombatCritic Gives Arceo's 7 Bombs Out of 10 ... BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!





Arceo's Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Title: Arceo's: Good, Consistent, Authentic Mexican Food at Reasonable Prices
Key Words: Arceo's, Arceo, Mexican, restaurant, menu, food, taco, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, chips, salsa, margarita, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Rusina, CombatCritic, TravelValue

CNN Says Obama's "Latte" Salute Is Not An Issue ... I DISAGREE!

On September 25, 2014, several CNN reporters alluded that President Obama's "latte" salute released by the White House a day earlier was not an issue deserving much attention. I watched initial footage of the "salute" (and I use that term loosely), was appalled (not surprised) and still am. If you have not seen it, here it is ...



The President of the United States is Commander-In-Chief of the United States Armed Forces and we in the military swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America and, ultimately, our commander-in-chief when we enlist for service. Those two United States Marines you saw smartly and professionally saluting our president as he disembarked Marine One are the "best of the best", likely highly decorated combat veterans and deserving much more respect than President Obama was apparently willing to provide that day.

I have seen Obama's half-assed attempts at saluting my comrades in arms on numerous occasions, but the latte salute was a new low, even for him. If he truly respected our men and women in uniform, he would take his obligation more seriously and dispose of garbage before boarding or departing Air Force One or Marine One. 

How difficult would it be to remember his duty to salute his brave and dedicated subordinates every time he gets on or off the plane or, in this case, the helicopter dedicated to his safe transport. Could one of those in his massive entourage not hold his coffee for two minutes while he performs his official duties and pays respect to these young men and women whom risk their lives every day to ensure his protection? The very least he could do is give them the smart, professional salute they so richly deserve.

CombaCritic Gives President Obama A Dismal 1 Bomb Out of 10 for Poor Leadership and His Lack of Support for Our Military and Veterans ... More Bombs Are Better!

Key Words: Obama, CNN, Don Lemon, Don, lemon, president, commander-in-chief, commander, Marine, one, Air Force, TV, United States, Marines, PresiYdent Obama, salute, latte, coffee

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jill's Kitchen: Not Cheap, Fair Breakfast Fare

Biscuits and Gravy - $4
Jill's Kitchen
2416 E Boulder StreetColorado Springs, CO 
(719) 475-2621

A bit of a hole-in-the-wall, the place needs some updating, but appeared clean. The staff are friendly and attentive.

Kitchen Scramble - $8.29
We shared the biscuits and gravy (full order - $4; half - $2), a large portion on 4 biscuit halves smothered with white (country) gravy with chunks of sausage. The biscuits were fresh and the gravy was decent, lacking flavor and needing some added salt and pepper. My mom also ordered a rash (side) of bacon ($3.79), seeming a bit overpriced for just four pieces of bacon.

Side of Bacon - $3.79
I ordered the Kitchen Scramble (full order - $8.29), scrambled eggs, onion, home fried potatoes, and cheese topped with two pieces of bacon. There was plenty of food, but it was mostly potato chunks (home fries) that had an earthy (root vegetable) taste. The potatoes could have used some seasoning. I have had scrambles at many breakfast restaurants and this one was subpar when compared to some of the better eateries.

The menu is not as "cheap" as other reviewers indicated, but the food was decent, hot, and served quickly. Not one of the greatest or least expensive breakfasts I have ever had, but a fair value.

CombatCritic Gives Jill's Kitchen 5 Bombs Out of 10 ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!








Jills Kitchen on Urbanspoon






Key Words: Jill's Kitchen, Jill's, kitchen, Jill, breakfast, lunch, eggs, bacon, food, eat, menu, restaurant, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Boulder, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"I remember this place being better" - CombatCritic (About Trivelli's)

Trivelli's Hoagies
2819 N Nevada Avenue 
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
"I remember this place being better" - C.T. Sorrentino - aka CombatCritic

The sandwiches are "OK", not as good as they once were. We had the "meatball" sandwich, which oddly enough does not come with cheese (unless you ask for it - costs extra) and the "cheesesteak". Because the original owner is supposedly from Philadelphia, the cheesesteak should be a no brainer. Or should it?

The meatball (6 inch - $5.70) was tasty enough, but neither very big nor loaded with meat as I remember and the tomato sauce flavorful, not too sweet or spicy. The bread was good, not too soft or hard (old). The cheesesteak ($11.78 for a 12 incher), which came on a similar "hoagie" roll, was loaded with meat and a bit greasy even for my taste (read my review of Dempsey's in Lawrence, Kansas). I added a side order of french fries ($2.15) which was rather small for the price and cold by the time our meal arrived.

My son, a vegan, asked the young lady on the phone before ordering if they could accommodate his dietary restrictions, including no meat, eggs, cheese, or oils (a personal preference), and she indicated that they could (after checking with her  manager/chef). Having confirmed that the pasta was not made with eggs and that the tomato sauce had no meat or added oil, he ordered the spaghetti and meatballs (minus the meatballs - $6.89). He was also told that his meal "comes with a salad" and that our entire order would come to a little over $28.

Side Salad - $6.89?
When he arrived to pick up our order, my son was told that the pasta sauce was cooked with the meatballs (vegan?) and that there was oil in the sauce after all, so he could not eat the spaghetti and meatballs. They appeared perturbed over his dietary restrictions and removed the spaghetti and meatballs (but did not deduct the price), leaving him with what he thought was a "large side salad full of veggies" (it was in a large container which he did not open before leaving). However, when he arrived home and opened the container, there was a pile of shredded, brownish iceberg lettuce and a few chunks of tomato and even fewer slices of onion (see photo). They charged us nearly $7 for a pile of lettuce and a few veggies that probably cost them less than fifty cents!

The food alone would get 3 out of 5 stars (5-6 out of 10 "bombs") based on quality, quantity, and "value", but the $7 side salad and their anti-vegan attitude forced me to deduct a "star" (two bombs). Therefore ...


CombatCritic Gives Trivelli's Hoagies (Nevada Ave) 5 Out of 10 Bombs ... MORE BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Trivelli's Hoagies on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Trivelli's Hoagies, Trivelli's, Trivelli, travelli, hoagies, hoagie, sub, sandwich, cheesesteak, meatball, salad, fries, menu, CombatCritic, TravelValue, Colorado, Springs

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fool Me Once, Shame On You ... Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

Genovese
941 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 

(785) 842-8300
In my initial review of Genovese, I gave them a lackluster 5 Out Of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD … but looking back, I may have been too generous.


Bruschetta
We had bought a Genovese Groupon for $58 which included two appetizers and four entrees because we had planned to go with some friends, but our dinner plans fell through and after our first paltry experience, we were in no hurry to return. With the Groupon promotion lapsed, the “face value” of the Groupon “will still be honored” (according to Groupon’s website and disclaimer) and not wanting to waste $58, we decided to use it when my sons came to town for a visit from Colorado.

Insalata Caprese
Because I was using the “cash value” of the Groupon, not the promotion, I decided to utilize the “buy one entrée and two drinks, get one entrée for half off” offer advertised recently in the Lawrence Journal World (LJW). However, when it came time to pay the bill, the server told us that the manager would not honor the LJW offer. I asked to speak with him, explaining that the “cash value” of the Groupon was no longer a promotion, but if he wanted to honor it (even though it had expired) and give us the two appetizers and four entrees in exchange, that would be great! Otherwise, we were using no other “promotion” and I asked him to please honor the LJW coupon. He refused, not quite able to grasp the complexity of the situation or the meaning of “customer service”.

       Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Ravioli
Our meal, being bland, overpriced, with too much sauce on the pasta, was unremarkable and because it was overshadowed by the manager’s poor attitude, I will not waste too much time here explaining it. Leave it to say that the bruschetta ($6.50 - pronounced “brew-sket-ah”, not “brew-shet-a”) was three small pieces of white bread from the supermarket with a little cheese melted on top (bruschetta in never served with cheese), a little olive oil, and topped by three small grape tomatoes cut in halves. The Caprese salad (insalata), a favorite of mine, at $9.50 was equally as disappointing, being sprinkled with balsamic vinegar, another culinary faux pas, a few small slices of yellow tomato, thin pieces of mozzarella cheese, and a couple grape tomato halves in the middle. My wife's wild mushroom and asparagus ravioli was supposed to come in a broth, but there was little broth visible, the pasta were dry, and their filling almost non-existent. 

Being a former baseball player, it normally takes three strikes to be “out”, but in the case of Genovese, two strikes shall suffice …

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Genovese will not be getting another chance in my book, mostly because of the manager's unprofessional attitude, but also because of the poorly executed, overpriced food and …

CombatCritic Now Gives Genovese a Paltry 2 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!






 Genovese on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Genovese, Italian, restaurant, Massachusetts, street, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, Groupon, pasta, pizza, TripAdvisor, antipasti, Yelp, sausage, wine, UrbanSpoon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Papa KENO'S Is A GAMBLE When It Comes To Timely Delivery And Customer Service

My son ordered over the phone because we could find no way to order online as advertised on their Yelp page but the employee told him "we'll have it out when we have it out". We live just 3 blocks away, but after 45 minutes there was still no sign of our pizza. It finally arrived nearly an hour after we placed our order, so I guess the guy on the phone was right after all.

Poor customer service aside, the pizza, although not cheap at $18 for a one-topping 18 inch cheese pizza, was not bad. We had the salami pizza and two order of breadsticks and the tab came to a little over $31 before tip. Not cheap. As far as I could tell, they do not offer specials online so what you se is what you get.

Decent pizza, not so decent value, and poor customer service means ...

CombatCritic Gives Papa Keno's (Lawrence) Only 4 Bombs Out of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!








Papa Kenos Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Papa Keno's, papa, keno's, keno, pizza, parlor, food, Italian, menu, review, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, street, downtown, delivery, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value