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Friday, October 20, 2017

Travel Tech: Defective Garmin Vivoactive - Welcome To The Wall Of Shame

If you travel as much as I do and are active (walking, hiking, golfing, swimming, etc.), a good activity monitor or smart watch is indispensable. I bought one from Amazon.com a little over a year ago and am I sorry I did.
The Garmin Vivoactive ($179) worked fine for about six months, monitoring sleep and the golf function worked OK. When walking (golf) or during travel (we walk a lot), it kept track of steps and was quite useful, but I use an elliptical trainer for much of my cardio and the Vivoactive was/is totally useless unless your arms are swinging.

After 5-6 months, it quit syncing sleep on a regular basis and a month or two later the golf function stopped working altogether. For golf, it give you basic yardages (front/center/back of green) and keeps score, but that's it. It has difficulty recognizing the golf course you have just arrived at, even with GPS, so you have to remember to sync it via Bluetooth with the Garmin Connect app on your phone, a real pain in the butt.

For the past several months the golf function, one of the primary reasons I bought it, quit working altogether. It can find the course, but when you click on the course you want to play, it starts "downloading data" and "transferring data", but then goes back to the main menu. Once on the course, it sometimes would start working, but FOR THE WRONG COURSE. The course I play has a short Par 4 2nd hole, but the Vivoactive lists the 2nd hole as a Par 5 and the yardage does not work at all.

This "smart" watch is a piece of junk. I wasted $179 for a digital watch when I could have paid $30 and gotten a better Casio with more functions than this thing has now. Garmin came out with the Vivoactive HR just weeks after I bought this garbage, but did not bother telling me that I could have bought an upgraded watch with a heart rate monitor for a little more if I waited a few days. I do not know if the Vivoactive HR is any better than the Vivoactive, but it could not be any worse.

The watch stopped working altogether in July 2017, dead as a doorknob. I will never buy a Garmin product again because of their lack of customer service and the junk they sell. DO NOT BUY A GARMIN VIVOACTIVE!

CombatCritic Gives Garmin and Their Vivoactive 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My "WALL OF SHAME" ... More Bombs Are Better!






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Title: Travel Tech: Defective Garmin Vivoactive - Welcome To The Wall Of Shame

Key Words: Garmin, Vivoactive, watch, GPS, smart watch, golf, steps, activity, monitor, active, Portland, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, business, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = "Fucked Up Beyond Any/All Repair"

Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Favorite Recipes: Steak And Onions ... And Risotto?

Not a big steak eater, occasionally I like a good cut of meat like Prime Rib, London Broil, Filet Mignon, or a nice T-Bone in this case. This is a simple one folks ...

Recipe:

1 - 1 to 1 1/4 Pound T-Bone Steaks (Marbled)
1 1/2 - Medium Yellow Onions
2 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Seasoned/Seasoning Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Onion Powder
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO)
1 1/2 Tbsp Canola Oil

Let the steaks rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Rub the steaks with EVO, topping with half the seasoning salt, garlic and onion powders, and fresh ground pepper. Flip the steaks and repeat, leaving a pinch or two of salt for the onions.

Heat a large (15") cast iron skillet over high heat, adding the canola oil once hot. Spread the oil, coating the bottom of the skillet. Turn the oven on to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the steaks to the skillet, frying on medium-high for four minutes on each side, flipping every two minutes (three times) and sliding around the bottom of the skillet to soak up the juices and extra spices. Once well browned, place the skillet in the pre-heated oven for:

0 Minute - Rare
3 Minutes -  Medium Rare
6 Minutes - Medium
9 Minutes - Medium Well
12 Minutes - Well Done

Remove from the oven, place the steaks on a plate or cutting board and let rest. Add the butter to the skillet and let melt on high heat. Add the sliced onions to the skillet with the rest of the seasoning salt and brown on medium heat until soft and tender, not burnt.

Normally I make my own risotto, but I will not tell a lie. I was tired and lazy, so I opened a bag of Trader Joe's Mushroom Risotto on this occasion and followed directions, adding 1 Tbsp of grated parmesan before serving. Hey, it's actually pretty damn good!
Slice the steak off the bone into two to three pieces. The small side of the T-bone is called "filet mignon" by the way. Cut the hunks o' meat against the grain into 1/2 inch slices, place on a large plate, top with grilled onions and add a scoop of risotto on the side. Serve and ...

Mangia e stati zitto ... Shut up and eat!

CombatCritic

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Title: Favorite Recipes: Steak And Onions ... And Risotto?

Key Words: CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, recipe, recipes, favorite, world, famous, Steak And Onions And Risotto, steak, onions, risotto, T-bone, grilled, menu, Yelp, Trader Joe's

Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Portland Golf Courses: Not Cheap, This Is A Great Layout In Less Than Ideal Condition

Heron Lakes Golf Club 
3500 N. Victory Blvd
Portland, OR 97217
Phone number (503) 289-1818
Website: heronlakesgolf.com
Prices: $$$$

For a Robert Trent Jones, Jr. design the "Great Blue" is obviously a great layout with loads of bunkers, water, and big, undulating greens. Unfortunately, the conditions do not do justice to Mr. Jones creation.
The fairways remain rough (pun intended), very tightly mowed and dead in many areas. With all of the water (Heron "Lakes") we have been getting, you would think that they would have filled out, but it appears they do not overseed and the fairways remain a problem (many dead spots - Great Blue). The greens were aerated recently and are obviously less than perfect, but the animals that play here obviously do not understand golf etiquette and refuse to repair divots (fairway) and ball marks (greens), contributing to the problems. Thanks a**holes!
Unlike many golf courses, the staff in the pro shop are friendly and helpful, but the snack bar is a different story. The staff are indifferent, rude, and/or lazy. They act like they are doing you a favor by taking your money and do not even bother greeting you much less returning a friendly "hello". Their beer prices are higher than they should be ($5.50/pint) and there is no such thing as Happy Hour. Maybe those are a few of the reasons why the place is normally empty.
We finished our round at 6:30 PM last night, at least 30 minutes before dark, and wanted a post-round beer to kill some time and let the I-5 log jam disperse before hitting the road. We stood at the bar for five minutes until, finally, the guy cleaning the grill in the back yelled at us through the serving window "we're closed". Closed, really? There are still people on the course, you have living, breathing customers waiting to spend money and only want a beer, but you cannot take the time to serve them? I get the impression that these self-reported "contractors" do just the minimum and get the hell out of there ASAP. Could be part of the reason that you cannot find any sign of the food concession on their website. BOOAH!
My original rating was based on the $30 green fee special, but their "standard"prices are out of line for a city course not in great shape. Ranging from $33 (shoulder season/walking/weekday) to $56 (riding/weekend, it is not exactly a bargain, especially in its current condition. Unfortunately, they reportedly are not extending their "Centennial Card" program and do not offer an annual membership, but their MultiPlay Rewards Card ($949/48 rounds) brings the price down to just under $20 (not including cart) if you can play that much. For comparison, I paid $1100 for 100 rounds ($11/round for the mathematically challenged) at my previous home course (Eagle Bend) in Lawrence, Kansas, a much better course and in immaculate condition. Heron Lakes has rare "Hot Deals" through GolfNow ($17/Greenback and $19/Great Blue), but do not expect any discounts unless the temperature is forecasted to exceed 100 degrees or rain is expected.
CombatCritic Downgrades Heron Lakes From 7 Bombs Out Of 10 To 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Five Bombs Equates To:

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Read Chris S.'s review of Heron Lakes Golf Club on Yelp

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Portland Golf Courses: Not Cheap, This Is A Great Layout In Less Than Ideal Condition

Key Words: Heron Lakes Golf Club, Heron lakes, Heron, lakes, golf, club, course, public, POrtland, OR, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, business, review, Yelp, Zomato

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


Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved

Monday, October 16, 2017

Vancouver, WA: "I Know Nothing" Except That Sergeant Schultz MIght Even Like Gustav's

Gustav’s Pub & Grill
1705 SE 164th Avenue
Vancouver, WA 98683
Phone number: (360) 883-0222
Website: gustavs.net
Prices: $$$$

With three locations in the Portland area (two in Oregon and one in Vancouver, Washington), I had no idea that the cuisine was Hungarian/German from the name until we gave them a try. They places look modern and nondescript from the outside, but have warm wood tones and German decor inside. This one is more "German" than the Tigard location with high, beamed ceilings, German state flags, even a mini German street scene in the back of the entry as you walk in.




With Happy Hour, a Portland tradition, Monday through Saturday from 2 to 6 PM and 9 PM to closing and all day Sunday in the bar, two can eat and drink quite well for under $30. They have a nice selection of eats from $4.75 (e.g. potato pancakes or Bavarian pretzels) to $7.75 (e.g. cheeseburgers or schnitzel clubs). Two German biers (Paulaner Oktoberfest and Warsteiner Dunkel) are $4.75 for a .5 liter stein and all other draughts are $1 off.

HAPPY HOUR (See Translations Below If You Don't Sprechen Deutsch)
"Original" Fondue $6.75 ... Sehr Gut! (Best value in the place)
- Decent size cast iron pot (bowl) full of hot, creamy cheese served with plenty o' cubes of pumpernickel and other breads.

Bavarian Pretzel $4.75 ... Gut 
Soft and hot with spicy mustard. $5 is the standard price at most places for similar pretzels, so not a super Happy Hour value - make it $3.75.
Sausage of Your Choice $5.75 (Nürnberger Brat) ... SoSo (Tasty, but very small for price)
- Thinner than a hot dog, but longer, this sausage tasted good but was unsubstantial for almost $6. $4.75 should be the max price for this weiner.
Potato Pancakes (3) $4.75 ... Sehr Gut!
- Thin, crisp and yummy, served with small sides of apple sauce and sour cream.
Shepherd's Pie $6.75 ... SoSo
- An English staple, not German, this atypical dish is small with cubes of beef in a goulasch-style sauce then covered with mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese (?) and baked.
Cabbage Roll (2) $6.75 ... Gut
- Cabbage stuffed with ground meat, rice and spices, then baked in a savory sauce with chunks of tomato, carrot and onion.

MEALS

Hungarian Veal Jäger ($18.95) ... Gut, but not a stupendous value
- Could be served with a salad, cup of soup, sauerkraut and/or red cabbage for this price and be perceived as a much better value. The veal scallops were small and the mashed potatoes underneath almost imperceptible. The sauce was delicious and topped with an abundance of fresh sauteed mushrooms.
Pork St. Moritz ($15.25) ... Sehr Gut!
Kinda like cordon bleu, but with the ham and cheese on top instead of inside. The two large, pounded and breaded pork scallops were sauteed then topped with Emmentaler cheese and Black Forest ham, served in a delicious Madeira sauce with creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables. A good value, adding a house or Caesar salad for an additional $3.95 makes it a meal at just over $19.

1. Sehr Gut! = Very Good
2. Gut = Good
3. SoSo - So-So
4. Nicht Gut = Not Good
5. Scheisse = Shit
We have tried both the Tigard and Vancouver locations. The buildings and decor are slightly different, but the menus and food seem identical. The service has been friendly and efficient on all three visits thus far.
My sole complaint was the Oktoberfest I ordered last night (above) that came looking like someone had taken a huge gulp out of it with well over an inch missing from the top of the mug. German (and English) bartenders take pride in filling glasses to the brim, either with beer or a head rising to the rim. This one had either been sitting for quite a while (so the head disappeared) or was a short pour. In any event, it should have been repoured or at least topped-off before being served.

CombatCritic Gives Gustav's 7 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:
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Read Chris S.'s review of Gustav's Pub & Grill on Yelp

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Title: Vancouver, WA: "I Know Nothing" Except That Sergeant Schultz MIght Even Like Gustav's

Key Words: Gustav's Pub and Grill, Gustav's, Gustav, pub, German, Hungarian, Portland, Oregon, Vancouver, WA, OR, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato

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


Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC and CombatCritic - All Rights Reserved

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Omaha, Nebraska: "Le Bouillon" Translates To "Salty Food" ... BOOAH!

Le Bouillon
1017 Howard Street
Omaha, NE 68102
Old Market, Downtown
Phone number: (402) 502-6816
Prices: $$$$

Not good. How this place averages four stars with 170+ reviews on Yelp is beyond me.
As I always say before a review of a French restaurant, "I love French food", but I did not even like Le Bouillon.
We came with a party of 12 from a conference at UNO as well as 2 last minute add-ons, but staff refused to add an extra table at first, making us squeeze into four small tables pushed together with just two small baskets of bread for 14 very cramped people. They told us that they were "fully booked", but less than half the tables were occupied all evening and a glass walled room with two giant tables sat empty next to the entrance. They finally got a clue and brought an extra table jusr before the first course arrived.
The server asked immediately what we wanted to drink, but there was just one, very extensive (at least 20 pages of small print - hundreds of options), wine/drink list for 14 people on the table. There were only a couple of wine options offered by the glass starting in the $9-$10 range and most bottles were well over $100 a pop with several approaching $1000. Feeling perplexed by the poor start, we stuck with water.
The server then dropped a rather heavy butter knife on my arm as she was setting the table for the first course. Things were spiraling downhill fast. They had no moules (mussels) or escargots (snails), focusing their menu on the Raw Bar instead (no thanks - I do not eat un/undercooked animal flesh), so we passed on appetizers. 

"Where's the beef?"
Beside a couple of $9-$13 soups and salads, everything had meat/fish (my wife prefers to eat vegetarian whenever possible), so the only options to her liking were the Le Bouillon Burger ($14) and the Croques Monsieur ($16). The only things that peaked my interest were the Wagyu Hangar Steak ($26) and the Cassoulet ($21), so she went with the croques monsieur and I the cassoulet. Hers came with a bit of salad and mine with nothing, so we both, unfortunately, ordered a side of Frites (fries) with Aioli ($6).
The croques monsieur had two huge, thick slices of egg battered toast, but barely a hint of ham and cheese. It was so salty that my wife could barely finish half. My cassoulet came out with the top burnt, so I mixed it up only to find mostly white beans and a couple of small pieces of ham and bacon. There were no noticeable "garlic sausage" or "duck" as advertized on the menu and it was also very salty, so I gave up after trying to eat half of my $21 white bean casserole. The fries looked very nice, but were very thin and crispy (almost burnt), hard to eat with fork or fingers, and EXTREMELY SALTY. All other attendees had similar complaints of salty food and fries.
When they cleared the table, nobody wondered why so much food remained on all of our plates, so I mentioned to the server how salty the food was, especially the fries, so they removed them (just the fries) from the checks. At $42+ for water, half of a salty sandwich, and half a bowl of salty bean soup (minus the soup), this was one of the poorest values in recent memory.

CombatCritic Gives Le Bouillon 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME ... BOOAH LE BOUILLON!







One Bomb Equates To:

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Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)

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Le Bouillon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read Chris S.'s review of Le Bouillon on Yelp

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Omaha, Nebraska: Le Bouillon Translates To "Salty Food" ... BOOAH!

Key Words: Le Bouillon, le, bouillon, French, restaurant, Old Market, old, market, menu, Omaha, NE, Nebraska, Portland, Yelp, YouTube, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair"

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