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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bella Vista, AR: Chicago-Style Pizza ... NOT!

Gusano's
19 Cunningham Corner
Bella Vista, AR 72714
Phone: (479) 876-6969
Website: gusanospizza.com
Prices: $$$$

Having lived in Chicago, and Naples, Italy, I am a bit spoiled and know good pizza when I shove it in my pie hole. I only had a beer and a calzone, so my experience was limited, but the "Chicago-style pizza" I saw looked nothing like any deep dish pizza I have ever had in Chicago and their prices are kinda high (see below).

A very noisy place, our waitress pounced on us for an order before we even had a chance to look at the menu or the mini 20-page flip chart with specials, happy hour deals, drinks, and appetizers listed. $1 off draft beer on Thursday night, I had a Sam Adams Octoberfest which was lukewarm. A good English ale should be room temperature, a Sam Adams should not.

The Fork Is Bigger Than Their $8 Pizza!
I refuse to pay nearly $13 for a ten inch pizza, so I was going to try their Italian roast beef sandwich, a Chicago tradition, but when I asked if it came with fries the server told me "we don't have French fries, only chips". Because you cannot eat an Italian roast beef without fries, I went with my third choice, a calzone. The calzone was ten bucks and nothing special. Not big by any stretch, there was too much sauce inside along with the sausage, pepperoni and mozzarella. It also came with ranch dressing (see photo above), an Italian staple ... NOT!

Our server never did come back to see if we needed anything else despite my attempts to catch her eye so I could get a different, possibly cold, beer. If this place rates 5 stars, Yelp needs to expand their rating system to 10 for real Chicago pizza joints like Pizano's and Pizzeria Uno. No bang-for-the-buck here folks.

CombatCritic Gives Gusano's 4 Bombs Out Of 10 ... That's 2 Stars On A 5-Star Scale ... More Bombs Are Better!




Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "Elite '14/'15"

TripAdvisor - "Top Contributor" 

Tabelog - "Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - "Super Foodie"

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!
Gusano'sGusano's













Gusano's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Title: Chicago-Style Pizza ... NOT!

Key Words: Gusano's, Chicago, Chicago-style, pizza, pizzeria, deep, dish, Bella Vista, AR, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation: "BOHICA" - Bend Over, Here It Comes Again

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bella Vista, AR: Muy Bueno ... OLÉ!

El Pueblito
1705 Forest Hills Boulevard
Bella Vista, AR 72715
Phone: (479) 855-2324
Prices: $$$$
A medium size place with booths and tables, El Pueblito was busy on a Friday night but they managed to make room for our party of 16 when we decided to change restaurants last minute while on a golf outing in Bella Vista.

The chips were nothing special, but the salsa was good, particularly the hot sauce which is, like at most Mexican restaurants, available upon request. I ordered a small guacamole ($1.99) which was as big as a $4-$5 order at many other restaurants. It was not the best I have had, but was good and a very good value.

They had 99 cent drafts and $4.99 16 ounce margaritas on special, so I went with the margarita, one on the rocks and one blended, both with the requisite salt. They were both good, but I preferred the blended variety.

For dinner, I chose the ala carte carne asada tacos ($1.99 each) and cheese and onion enchiladas (also $1.99 each). The tacos came wrapped individually in aluminum foil and the warm corn tortillas were filled with small strips of the marinated beef. Adding some of the guacamole I had ordered and  salsa, the only thing missing was some pico de gallo. The enchilada sauce was obviously homemade and delicious, the best I have had in recent memory, and there was plenty of cheese and onions. Both the tacos and enchiladas were an excellent value being $1-$2 less than ala carte items at many of the places I frequent in Kansas.

They even had a mariachi band that night, not the best I have heard, but a nice touch which added to the ambience of the experience. The food was very good although I did see a hard shell taco which looked like the pre-fab shells so many poor restaurants serve, but the food I had was excellent. After eating mediocre Mexican food in Lawrence for two years, El Pueblito was a breath of fresh air on our trip to northwestern Arkansas.

CombatCritic Gives El Pueblito 8 Out Of 10 Bombs For Good Food At Very Reasonable Prices ... More Bombs Are Better!




El Pueblito Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
El Pueblito














Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "Elite '14/'15"

TripAdvisor - "Top Contributor" 
El Pueblito
Tabelog - "Official Judge (Bronze)
Zomato - "Super Foodie"

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Muy Bueno ... OLÉ!

Key Words: El Pueblito, el, pueblito, Mexican, taco, Bella Vista, Arkansas, AR, margarita, enchilada, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation: "WTFO!" - What The F#&@ - Over!

Bentonville, Arkansas: Doe's? Don't!

Doe's Eat Place
2806 S Walton Blvd
Bentonville, AR 72712
Phone: (479) 254-8081
Website: doesnwa.com
Prices: $$$$
There are so many things wrong with Doe's, I am having difficulty finding any positives ...
Tamales and Chili - $10
1) The salad was soggy

2) The tamales were bland and overpriced ($10 for 6), the chili boring

3) You cannot order a steak under 1 1/2 to 2 pounds for one person unless you want to pay $33 for an 8 ounce filet mignon. I went without a steak because I could not eat 24 ounces of meat and refuse to pay $66 a pound for a steak. The smallest steak porterhouse, sirloin, or t-bone you can get is 1 1/2 to 2 pounds and they refuse to sell anything smaller. How many people can eat 24-32 ounces of meat in one sitting? 

4) The gumbo was disgusting. Tomatoes, okra, and hot dogs instead of andouille sausage ... barf!

5) $7 for a 14 ounce beer, $8 for a well drink ... in Arkansas ... really?

6) The menu is extremely limited. They have steak, shrimp, tamales, something they call gumbo and corn and crab bisque (which they are always out of apparently) ... that's it!
On the positive side, I tried some of the French fries and they were hot and decent. Our server was also friendly and efficient. Otherwise, I saw few redeeming qualities in this roadside dive in Walmart's hometown.

CombatCritic Gives Doe's Eating Place 2 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


UPDATE: After my review was posted on Yelp, the business owner, Matt Huson, left a very unprofessional public comment attacking me personally and defaming my character for my less than stellar review:
10/31/2015  Just to clarify a few things.  We are leaving this reply public so that you can decide for yourself of the validity of the review.
First and foremost we do sell only 100% USDA Prime Beef, but you are lying about the prices.  Our most expensive steak is $24 per lb. NOT $66 per lb..  Since you are blatantly lying about that I will allow readers to decide if they trust the rest of your scathing and shady review.  
And as a Gumbo connoisseur, I'm very surprised that you mistake andouille sausage as "hot dogs".
Maybe sizzler would be a more suiting place for your refined tongue.   We get that we are not for everyone, but to lie and make assumptions as you have is not disliking our food, it's ridiculous.
Owner/Management is always on staff and happy to answer any questions or concerns our customers may have.  If you were having a bad experience we are happy to help, as it is our job.
To which I replied:
Dear Matt,
First, in regard to your unprofessional and insulting comment:  
"Our most expensive steak is $24 per lb. NOT $66 per lb..  Since you are blatantly lying about that I will allow readers to decide if they trust the rest of your scathing and shady review",  
you need to brush up on your math Matt. Here's a word problem for you ...
Q: If an 8 ounce petite filet mignon costs $33 and there are 16 ounces in a pound, how much per pound is a petite filet?
A: $66 per pound
Am I a liar sir? Do the math if are able.
Second, in reply to your comment:
"and as a Gumbo connoisseur, I'm very surprised that you mistake andouille sausage as hot dogs", 
I apologize. Your "andouille sausage" merely looks and tastes like hot dogs as I and the rest of my party of 16 agreed. Our mistake. We still could not finish more than half of the disgusting concoction, "andouille sausage" or not.
Finally, about the "Sizzler" comment (yes, it is a proper noun and is capitalized), I have no response to such a absurd, vengeful, and unprofessional comment.
I am a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, combat Veteran, and disabled Veteran and I do not appreciate you or anybody else calling me a liar and insulting my character. My review was not a personal attack on you or your establishment, merely my opinion about my experience on one particular evening. I am sorry that you cannot accept constructive criticism well and must resort to vicious personal attacks on your customers when you receive a negative review. 
I am not new at this and have tens of thousands of faithful readers who enjoy my detailed and objective reviews here, on my blogs, and elsewhere. Think about incorporating feedback, positive and negative, into your business plan rather than biting the hand that feeds you my friend.
Respectfully,
Chris S aka CombatCritic
Matt Huson, obviously not the nicest or most intelligent guy in Bentonville (or the planet for that matter), then responded: 
"Now they will know you lie"
As the say, the proof is in the picture:


Petite Filet - $32 (Now $33) Per Half-Pound (8 Ounces Matt)
Here is a recent Yelp review on Doe's Eat Place from another customer:
"... there are a few things like the gumbo that a person might want to avoid. 
The gumbo was not much more than tomato soup with some okra and hot dogs cut up.  I showed our server several full bowls of gumbo that had hardly been touched and was told "some people like it, some don't." 
Tamales are pretty flat until you light them up with the chili sauce that is provided.  By the way - the chili will also light you up.
Service was okay - overall a bit pricey for what they deliver."
Rick H. 
Cape Girardeau, MO 
2 Star Rating (Out of 5) - 10/28/2015
I will not respond further to Matt's unprofessional and vengeful banter and will let you decide for yourself who is more credible ...


Matt Huson - "Owner" of Doe's Eat Place
Or ...



Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "Elite '14/'15"

TripAdvisor - "Top Contributor" 

Tabelog - "Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - "Super Foodie"

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!



Doe's Eat Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Doe's Eat PlaceDoe's Eat Place
Title: Doe's? Don't!

Key Words: Doe's Eating Place, Doe's, doe, does, eating, place, steak, shrimp, bar, dive, Bentonville, AR, Arkansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation: "Tango-Uniform" - Tits Up (Dead)

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Omaha, NE: Father Flanagan's Boys Town: Still Helping Wayward Boys ... And Girls

Boys Town
14100 Crawford St.
Boys Town, NE 68010
Phone: (402) 498-1300 or  (800) 625-1400
Email: info@boystown.org
Website: BoyTown.org
Prices: $$$$ (Free)
"There's a square mile in the Heartland of America where miracles happen. Despair and darkness are conquered by the promise of a bright future. Kids are saved and families are healed in our Village."
Boys Town hosts over 100,000 visitors from all over the world each year and subsists strictly on donations and the trust that Father Flanagan setup many years ago. Boys Town has also served girls since the 1970s, so the name is somewhat misleading in this day and age, but it is understandable why such an iconic the name has not been changed.

After entering the property, the first street on your left (follow the signs toward "Visitors Center") will take you to the Visitors Center and Gift Shop where you can get a map or CD audio guide to explore the village on your own or a Boys Town resident can give you a personal tour for a small fee ($4). 

Co-located with the Visitors Center is the Leon Myers Stamp Center where you will find the largest ball of stamps in the world as verified by Ripley's Believe It Or Not, a great collection of 1950s baseball cards, and buckets of stamps to rummage through to select your favorites for the small sum of one cent each.

Do not forget to add a donation to your transaction because 100% of donations go toward programs that benefit the residents and Boys Town operates solely by private donations. Head back out to Village Drive and turn left toward the Garden of the Bible, Hall of History, and Dowd Memorial Chapel, all near each other on the second roundabout you come to. 

The Hall of History is a great place to start by getting some background and history of Boys Town. After watching the free 15-minute video introducing you to Father Flanagan and Boys Town, explore the fabulous exhibits which include Spencer Tracy's  “Oscar” for his role in the movie "Boys Town",  and many of the other free and extremely well done exhibits.

The Garden of the Bible is a nice place to sit quietly for a few minutes if the weather is nice, then you can head across the street to Dowd Chapel where Father Flanagan's tomb is located and where masses are held each day for residents, employees, and visitors. The tomb is impressive with blue and green stained glass, giving the perception of being beneath the sea, and Father Flanagan's bronze sarcophagus sitting prominently in the middle.

A short drive further up the road is the Father Flanagan House, a beautifully restored two story home with period furniture and decor in addition to some of Father Flanagan's personal belongings. Like all of the exhibits, entry is free and it is well worth a visit.

We did not think much about Boys Town and only made the trip across town because we had a couple hours to spare before heading south to Villisca, Iowa (Villisca Axe Murder House) and St Joseph for a night at the Whiskey Mansion B&B. We were very impressed with the people and facilities and ended up spending more time than we had planned. After your visit you can even upload your photos to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #BoysTownVillage.

CombatCritic Gives Boys Town 10 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Spot On CombatCritic's "Wall Of Fame" ... Bombs Are Good!


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "Elite '14/'15"

TripAdvisor - "Top Contributor" 

Tabelog - "Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - "Super Foodie"

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Father Flanagan's Boys Town: Still Helping Wayward Boys ... And Girls

Key Words: Father Flanagan, Boys Town, boys, town, girls, school, orphan, orphans, youth, Omaha, NE, Nebraska, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Omaha, NE: Average Room, Bad Breakfast, And High Price Equals Poor Value

Comfort Inn - Omaha
330 N 30th Street
Omaha, NE 68131
Phone: (402) 345-2222
Website: choicehotels.com/ComfortInn
Prices: $$$$


On the outskirts of downtown Omaha, the location was convenient, but a car is necessary if you want to eat or do any sightseeing. The hotel is your basic five-story box, there is a gym, but there is no pool or hot tub. 

A free "hot breakfast" is advertised and, although true, the hot food consisted of powdered scrambled eggs, bright orange potatoes (potatoes should not be orange unless they are sweet potatoes), and what I assume were breakfast sausage links that likely have a shelf life somewhere into 2035. I have had MREs that tasted better and fresher than Comfort Inn's hot breakfast. There was a sign above the eggs saying: "due to avian flu, locally sourced egg products will not be available for the foreseeable future" or something along those lines. Delightful ... appetizing!

Our room was decent, your typical chain hotel room, with a king size bed, TV/cable, desk and chair, and a small sofa. The wi-fi was very difficult to access and when I asked the woman at the front desk what the problem was, she told me "I don't know, that's the right password, that's all I know". When I asked why the log-in screen would not display so I could enter the password, all I got was a shoulder shrug. Very professional. Considering that our phone's signals were so weak (all over Omaha, including the hotel) that it made it impossible to access the internet or make even a phone call, decent wi-fi at our $100 per night hotel would have been very helpful. Why a city the size of Omaha has such a weak cellular (T-Mobile) signal is beyond me, particularly so close to downtown. Bizarre.

The biggest drawbacks were the leaky toilet in our room that refilled itself (very loudly) every 90 seconds - night and day, the poor wi-fi access, the crappy breakfast, and the front desk woman with a chip on her shoulder. Otherwise, Comfort Inn - Omaha was mediocre at close to $100 per night. A basic room like ours in a budget hotel with no pool in Omaha, Nebraska should cost no more than $70, closer to $49 would have actually been more appropriate.

CombatCritic Gives Comfort Inn - Omaha 4 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "Elite '14/'15"

TripAdvisor - "Top Contributor" 

Tabelog - "Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - "Super Foodie"

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!




Title: Average Room, Bad Breakfast, And High Price Equals Poor Value

Key Words: Comfort Inn, comfort, Inn, Omaha, NE, Nebraska, hotel, breakfast, wi-fi, gym, pool, 30th, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

St Joseph, MO: Patee House: An Eclectic Menagerie Of Missouri Memorabilia

Patee House
1202 Penn Street
St. Joseph, MO 64503
Phone number (816) 232-8206
Prices: $$$$

Patee House is St. Joseph, Missouri's only National Historic Landmark and was listed in True West magazine as "one of America's Top 10 Western Museums" in 2008 and "one of 1,000 Places to See in the U.S.A. & Canada Before You Die".

Built in 1858 as a luxury hotel, Patee House served as the Pony Express headquarters from 1860 to 1861 and during the Civil War, the Union Army occupied the building, using it as their Provost Marshal's office and holding war trials in the ballroom.  Adjacent to the home of the infamous outlaw Jesse James whom was shot and killed there by Bob Ford, the James family stayed and were interviewed in the hotel after his death.

The Patee House Museum features two full floors of exhibits where you can climb aboard an 1860 train, ride the vintage "Wild Thing" carousel, or explore an 1877 railroad depot, stagecoach, cars, trucks, fire trucks, wagons, buggies and carriages, Jeeps, horse-drawn hearses and a real gallows among much, much more. Entry for adults is a fair $6, considering the abundance of historical artifacts and memorabilia. You should allow 1-2 hours depending on how much detail you want to get into.

The collection and exhibits are eclectic to say the least. There is junk and there are treasures. Historic American battle flags sit next to stuffed animals and a full-size locomotive. The woman at the front desk was unfriendly and when I asked if they had a "military discount", she looked at me like I had a penis growing out of my forehead. Patriotism! The young woman at the back entrance was much nicer and informative, telling me the history of the carousel and how they got the locomotive in the building.
Patte House is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself stuck in St Joe, needing a couple hours to kill. The Jesse James house sits right outside the backdoor, but other than the bullet hole in the wall from Jesse James' murder, nothing is apparently original and the bullet hole is even questionable. The house is very small, so if you want to spend $4 for a 3-minute tour, knock yourself out.

CombatCritic Gives Patee House 6 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better! 



Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "Elite '14/'15"

TripAdvisor - "Top Contributor" 

Tabelog - "Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato - "Super Foodie"

... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!
















Title: Historic Patee House: An Eclectic Menagerie Of Missouri Memorabilia 

Key Words: Patee House, patee, house, museum, hotel, Pony Express, civil, war, landmark, national, historic, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

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