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Friday, February 28, 2014

Eat At Joe's

I haven't been to Joe's for years, but some of my fondest memories are of French dip sandwiches and French fries ... I LOVE FRENCH FOOD ... with my family and friends during regular visits to Santa Barbara from LA.


Joe's has been in the same location on State Street since 1928 and, although redecorated, retains the bones and charm of a 1920's California diner, counter (now bar) and all.


Looking at the recent photos, the French dips have not changed with chunks of prime rib piled high on a French roll (did I tell you I LOVE FRENCH FOOD?) accompanied by crispy French fries, au jus, and a side salad. I can taste the sandwich even though I am 1,500 miles away ... YUM!


I have been to 39 countries since the first time I went to Joe's, INCLUDING FRANCE SEVERAL TIMES, and enjoyed some of the best cuisine the World has to offer, but sometimes it is the simple things in life that stand out as the finest moments. I have never eaten anything EXCEPT the FRENCH DIP at Joe's Cafe and even though I will likely return several more tines before I die, I will go with a smile on my face, having eaten nothing else at this Santa Barbara institution. GO TO JOE'S ... have a French dip and tell them CombatCritic sent you!


CombatCritic Gives Joe's Cafe 10 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GOOD! 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Manitou Springs, CO: Absence From Amanda's Fonda Does Not Make The Heart Grow Fonda

Amanda’s Fonda
3625 W Colorado Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80904
Phone: (719) 227-1975
Prices: $$$$

Map
Edit
An old haunt, had to try it again after. 6 years in the Midwest ... Tacos, enchiladas, you know the drill. 

It was only 4:30pm, but no hostess and just one server? We waited 10 minutes until she arrived, then she had 5-6 other tables to wait on, made the margaritas, and probably cooked the food. Hardly ever saw her.

The shredded beef tacos were OK, little meat or cheese. The cheese and onion enchilada was decent, but the sauce rather bland. Chips thin and tasty, salsa very good, the guacamole was a bit pricey for the size so we steered away.

Remembered the food being better ... Absence does not necessarily make the heart fonder! Ever been back to your high school? Disappointing, but you still have fond memories.


CombatCritic Gives Amanda's Fonda 6 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!





Amanda's Fonda on Urbanspoon


Six Bombs Equates To:


"Good To Go"

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Title: Manitou Springs, CO: Absence From Amanda's Fonda Does Not Make The Heart Grow Fonda

Key Words: Amanda's Fonda, Amanda, Fonda, fonder, taco, taco, enchilada, burrito, eat, food, restaurant, lunch, dinner, CombatCritic, Yelp, Foursquare, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dillon, CO: Adriano's Bistro: An Interesting Concept With a Few Rough Edges

Adriano's Bistro
240 Lake Dillon Drive
Dillon, CO 80435
Phone: (970) 468-6111
WebAdriano's Bistro Dillon.com
FacebookAdriano's Bistro Deli
Prices: $$$$$


NOT Dillon, Colorado
Asking for quality and value in a tourist area restaurant is probably asking for too much and Adriano's Bistro is not the exception. Looking more like a nightclub than a restaurant from the outside, the interior is somewhat dated with wood paneling, hard wood floors, and basic tables and chairs sans tablecloth.

We were seated quickly by a friend of my youngest son Nick, a Snowmaking Supervisor at Keystone Resort, by the name of Kaylee whom also turned out to be our server. Entrees run from $13.95 for pizza to $25 and up for specialties AND COME WITH APPETIZER, SOUP, AND SALAD INCLUDED. That is where the concept varies from other places, in a good way and bad.

The good news is that in a town full of hungry skiers and young resort workers, a hearty meal at a fair price would work quite well, but on a Thursday night in Dillon, you could almost shoot a cannon through Adriano's without hitting a soul. They idea was good, but the execution needs some work ...

The porchetta (pronounced por-ket-a - $19.95), a traditional Italian dish of rolled, stuffed pork slow-roasted over a wood spit or grill and served with roasted potatoes, but my dish did not resemble any porchetta I have ever seen. First, our appetizer arrived, half of a cocktail size meatball and a small piece of Italian sausage smothered in a red sauce and dwarfed by the bread plate they came on. I tried to make the meatball and sausage last for more than two bites, but failed miserably. The taste was "OK", but could have been out of the freezer and can from Sam's Club for all I know.

Porchetta - $19.95
Next came the soup, a cup of cream of vegetable that was thick, savory, and piping hot, probably one of the highlights of the night. The soft loaves of fresh, warm bread kept coming and were a nice accompaniment to the hot soup on a cold winter night. The small, side-salad was good, but minimal with a few fresh greens and shaved carrots topped with a light balsamic vinaigrette.

Fresh Baked Bread
Back to the entrees. As I said, my porchetta did not resemble the traditional variety, but was an interesting and creative approach with sliced pork (and not much at that), onions, and ground sausage in both red and bechamel sauces, supposedly on top of baked ziti (pasta). I found the dish a bit too salty and could not find the ziti which the chef apparently forget to add.

My oldest son had the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken ($21.95), a basic, simple dish of pasta, cream, and cheeses that is difficult to mess up. The pastas we did see did not look fresh or handmade, but straight out of the bag and I would not be surprised if the sauce came from a can or jar. I am not saying it was bad, only that it was unremarkable for the price.

Margherita Pizza - $13.95
Probably the best value of the night was my youngest son's Margherita Pizza (named after Queen Margarita of Italy - $13.95), a 12 inch, wood-fired, hand-tossed pizza reminiscent of Roman pizza, thin and crunchy (unlike traditional Neopolitan pizza which is soft and chewy). The sauce and cheese stopped well short of the edge, leaving a thicker-than-needed crust. The mozzarella could have been fresher, but the pizza was well put together and tasty ... BRAVO!

Fettuccine Alfredo - $21.95
Toward the end of the evening a large man with a Bronco hat arrived with a friend with a Dodger cap and, based on the attention they received, they were obviously affiliated with the recent Super Bowl losing Denver Broncos. The chef, manager/owner, servers, and other staff came out of the back to fawn over the celebrities, but did not say a word to the other guests, totaling about 7-8 by then, including us. The only one we spoke to all night was Kaylee, but she did a fine job and made up for her supervisor's lack of hospitality.

With a $22 bottle of wine and three people, the bill came to just under $100 (without tip), a bit much based on the quality and substance of the meal and probably $20 to $25 more than a similar meal would have cost in Denver or Colorado Springs.

CombatCritic Gives Adriano's Bistro 7 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Adriano's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Adriano's Bistro, Adriano, bistro, Italian, pizza, dinner, Dillon, Colorado, Keystone Resort, Silverthorne, Frisco, pasta, salad, appetizer, CombatCritic, TravelValue, combat, travel, value

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Silverthorne, CO: Mountain Lyon Cafe ... Best Breakfast in Summit County!

Piercing deep blue eyes the color of Arizona turquoise, a warm inviting smile on a winter's day, Brook, a native of St Louis, Missouri said "welcome to the Mountain Lyon, I'll be your server" within seconds of our sitting down in the booth by the front window. Serving only breakfast and lunch, the Mountain Lyon Café is a "locals" hang-out with stick-to-your-ribs, home cooked meals, and efficient, friendly service.

I feel like a local, having frequented this lively restaurant for many years, their breakfast is hard to beat in the Dillon/Silverthorne/Frisco area. I always seem to end up with the Ultimate Skillet ($8.95), an iron skillet loaded with home fried potatoes, 3 eggs any way you like them, tomatoes, green bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, bacon, ham, and sausage, all smothered with country gravy and melted cheddar cheese. A fluffy buttermilk biscuit (muffin or toast also available) accompanied my skillet and would only have been better had there been a dollup of country gravy on top.

Mountain Lyon Cafe has pretty much everything you could imagine available for breakfast and lunch, from French toast to French fries, omelets to burgers, pancakes to pickles, you get the picture. One thing I did not see on the menu that I was craving was a chili and cheese omelet, plain old chili with no beans and lots of shredded cheddar cheese encased in a fluffy three egg delight! But alas, there were none:(

The Mountain Lyon is as much an experience as it is a meal with hoards of interesting locals and a few odd tourists of every size and disposition imaginable, with stories as long and varied as the people telling them. I shall return again if for nothing else but to see Brook with those big blue eyes and have her say "Welcome back to the Mountain Lyon Chris!".

CombatCritic Gives Mountain Lyon Cafe 9 Out of 10 Bombs ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Mountain Lyon Cafe on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Mountain Lion Cafe, mountain, lion, lyon, cafe, Silverthorne, Colorado, Dillon, Frisco, breakfast, lunch, eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, CombatCritic, TravelValue, combat, travel, value

Monday, February 3, 2014

Colorado Springs, CO: Uwe's: Great, Filling German Food, Reasonable Prices ... NUFF SAID!

Uwe's German Restaurant

Category: German
31 Iowa Ave
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
(719) 475-1611

Price Range: $$$$$



I have been eating at Uwe's since the late 1980's and nothing has changed, not a single thing except the prices and they are still very fair!

Large portions, rich sauces, tender schnitzel, succulent bratwürst, homemade späetzel, fresh bread, delicious salads, frothy beer, and zesty goulash, everything you would expect from a German restaurant, all set the tone for authentic German dining right here in Colorado Springs.

My favorite is the wiener (veal) schnitzel cordon bleu, two breaded veal cutlets stuffed with ham and cheese then baked to gooey perfection, served with a side of Hunter's (mushroom) sauce, crispy home fries, and veggie of the day. Meals are preceded by fresh pumpernickel bread and an assortment of German potato salad, crisp greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers topped with a light vinaigrette dressing or soup.

The roulade is a traditional Bavarian stuffed cabbage with ground meat, rice, and spices enveloped with fresh cabbage leaves and topped with a light tomato sauce, accompanied by German potato dumplings (späetzel) and red cabbage.

For those with a zest for the spicy, the Hungarian Paprika Schnitzel ($14.25) is a good choice and the Jäegerschnitzel ($14.25), breaded pork cutlets covered with a thick mushroom sauce is always a hearty, filling, rib-sticking meal.

Uwe's has a nice selection of beer, domestic and import, with the Wärsteiner Dünkel, a dark, frothy, delight being my go-to beer for German meals. Desserts are traditional and inexpensive with apple strüdel ($3.50) and ice cream ($.50) taking center stage for those with voracious appetites and room leftover for a little sweetness.

The service is always good and, as you would expect in a German establishment, efficient with little small talk while remaining friendly and helpful.

CombatCritic Gives Uwe's German Restaurant 9 Bombs Out of 10 ... BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Uwe's German Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Uwe's, Uwe, German, restaurant, 80909, food, schnitzel, weiner, veal, wine, beer, Jäeger, Jäegermeister, Wärsteiner, dünkel, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Colorado Springs

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Colorado Springs, CO: Drifter's Is No IN AND OUT ... And That's OK!

When compared to California's In and Out Burger, a staple since my childhood growing up in L.A., you are bound to come-up short. My son, an In and Out novice, insisted on getting dinner from Drifter's on Super Bowl Eve, saying "they have the best burgers in The Springs, similar to In and Out" and boy I was glad he did!

With such a basic menu it is easy to see how they excel with simple, fresh ingredients, quality ground beef, and reasonable prices. Where they diverge from In and Out is in their consistency and presentation. Every In and Out hamburger looks identical to the last with fresh lettuce and thick, red tomato on a fresh, toasted bun wrapped in their classic white, red, and yellow sandwich paper. Each of the three burgers we ordered at Drifter's looked completely different than the others even though the ingredients were roughly the same. The makings were fresh and the food tasty, but they just do not have the process down as their California cousin has done so well for over 50 years.

The French fries were good and hot with just a little too much salt and just a bit too thin for my taste. The hamburgers were good and greasy as they should be with sautéed onions, melted American cheese, lettuce, and tomato. The only thing missing was pickle and bacon, which I understand is not an option at Drifter’s (bacon that is) … TOO BAD!

My recommendation is to FORGET IN AND OUT and focus on what Drifter’s does well and that is producing a quality burger and fries at a reasonable price. You are not In and Out, you never will be, so create and embrace your own identity … DRIFTER”S HAMBURGERS!

CombatCritic Gives Drifter's Hamburgers 8 Bombs Out of 10 for BURGER VALUE ... Bombs Are Good!

Drifter's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Drifter's Hamburgers, Drifter's, hamburger, burger, fries, cheese, lettuce, tomato, milk, shake, eat, food, 80907, Colorado Springs, CO, Colorado, CombatCritic, TravelValue, value, travel, combat

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