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Saturday, March 25, 2017

San Antonio, TX: "Louie, Louie, Oh No, I Said" You "Gotta Go ... Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"

Louie Italian Restaurant
4979 NW Loop 410
San Antonio, TX 78229
Phone number: (210) 481-4360
Prices: $$$$


This place was at the top of Yelp's list when I searched for "Best Italian Restaurants" in San Antonio, Texas with 4.5 stars out of 207 reviews ... pretty impressive. We joined their e-newsletter list (promising coupons and 1/2 price bottles of wine to "members") and made a reservation for that evening.

The exterior is strange, looking more like a 22nd Century burger joint than an Italian restaurant, but the interior was much nicer. Not "Italian", but a bit on the "classy" side. We were quickly greeted and seated and our server, Adelina, promptly took our drink order. I asked about the 1/2 price bottles of wine, but she told me (pointing to a placard on the table) that they are only offered on Tuesday and Wednesday, apparently available to the general public, not just members of their e-newsletter club as advertised. We ordered two glasses of house cabernet ($5.50 each), but Adelina quickly returned telling us that they were "out of the house cabernet" and only had Chianti. Chianti it was.

Our dinners would come with a salad, so we ordered the garlic bread ($3.99 - bread does not come with your meal oddly enough). The salads were small, but fresh, with a spring mix, tomato and cucumber slice, and exactly four croutons along with dressing of choice. The garlic bread was a good size loaf cut in two and tasty.

My wife had the Tortellini Michelangelo ($10.99) with cheese filled pasta in a mushrooms cream sauce. The pasta and sauce were both good, but the sauce had a unique taste we could not quite put our fingers on and definitely not Italian

I ordered the Veal Marsala ($15.99), sautéed with fresh mushrooms in a sweet marsala wine sauce and served over spaghetti. The sauce was actually quite rich and good with just the right number of button mushrooms, but the veal was not very plentiful with just two small scallops sitting atop the pasta. For the price, the veal was not a bad value at all and I went away satiated, not hungry.

The 1/2 price bottle promotion to lure people into signing up for their newsletter was misleading and the lack of bread accompanying the meal was odd for an Italian restaurant. The service was excellent and Adelina, an MBA student from Kosovo (where I served at the NATO HQ during the war in late 1998 and early 1999), was as charming and efficient as could be. Not the best Italian I have had by far, but good food and portions at a reasonable price.

CombatCritic Gives Louie Italian Restaurant 8 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Eight Bombs Equates To:


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17 - 650,000+ Views A Year

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)


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Read Chris S.'s review of Louie Italian Restaurant on Yelp

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: San Antonio, TX: "Louie, Louie, Oh No, I Said" You "Gotta Go ... Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"

Key Words: Louie Italian Restaurant, Louie, Italian, pasta, veal, Italy, Loop 410, San Antonio, Texas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: "What-The-Fuck ... Over!"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Austin, TX: Downtown Grocery Selection And Prices Left Me A Little Blue

Royal Blue Grocery - Congress Avenue
609 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701
Phone number: (512) 469-5888
Website: royalbluegrocery.com
Prices: $$$$

If you are downtown and need a market, this is your only choice. The staff are friendly and helpful, but the inventory is severely lacking. 

You can buy a sandwich, a cookie, or other prepared meals, but the "grocery" sections are ridiculously understocked. The prices are a tad high, but considering the prime real estate this store occupies, they could be worse.

My wife needed something for breakfast, so we bought two cookies at $1.75 each. The cookies were big and tasty enough, but there was little else to choose from.

Trying to find a supermarket in central Austin is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, In 2+ days in Austin, we saw only one, a H-E-B on the northern outskirts as we drove into town, so choices are limited, especially downtown.

CombatCritic Gives Royal Blue Grocery 4 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Four Bombs Equates To:
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Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17 - 650,000+ Views A Year

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)


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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Read Chris S.'s review of Royal Blue Grocery - Congress Ave on Yelp

Title: Austin, TX: Downtown Grocery Selection And Prices Left Me A Little Blue

Key Words: Royal Blue Grocery, royal, blue, grocery, Austin, Texas, downtown, sandwiches, convenient, sandwich, expensive, convenience, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, business, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again"

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Lawrence, KS: As Roseanne Roseannadanna Used To Say ... It's Always Something, If It's Not One Thing It's Another

Mi Ranchito
707 W. 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone number (785) 749-5600
Website: miranchitokc.com
Prices: $$$$

OK, maybe I was a little too harsh last time, giving them one BOMB out of ten, but their attention to detail is severely lacking, margaritas weak, chips way too thin, and service spotty at best. Having nearly killed my wife by serving her tomatoes after telling them that "she's allergic to tomatoes" last time we were there, I swore we would never return, but alas, the other Mexican restaurants in town are shit, so there you have it.

For example, last night we were greeted, if you want to call it that, by a redheaded, ponytailed hostess who was extremely rude. She took us to a table, without a word, in the bar, so we asked for a booth in the restaurant instead. If I wanted to sit in the bar, I would have walked into the bar and grabbed a stool, but their drinks suck and I would never have done that. She snatched the menus off of the table, grunted, walked to a booth in the restaurant, tossed the menus down on the table, turned around and walked away talking into her wireless mic. No "welcome", "I'm sorry", "of course", "enjoy your meal" ... nothing. Maybe she was having a bad night, but this young woman has no business being in the hospitality business and does Mi Ranchito a great disservice by being the first and last face that people see when they enter and leave the restaurant. The manager standing beside her must either be blind or clueless because he watched it all happen without appearing to give a shit less.
The food is "OK" by Midwestern standards (very low standards), but the service, chips, and margaritas all leave a great deal to be desired. We are going to Texas soon and I cannot wait for some "real" Tex-Mex, not the crap they serve in Lawrence and the rest of the Midwest that many "self-proclaimed" food critics refer to as "Tex-Mex" ... what a joke ... get a clue folks ... there is not a single Tex-Mex in Lawrence, Mi Ranchito included.
CombatCritic Gives Mi Ranchito (Lawrence) 4 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!


Four Bombs Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17 - 650,000+ Views A Year

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)


Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie - Over  1,890,733 Review And Photo Views

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Read Chris S.'s review of Mi Ranchito on Yelp


Title: Lawrence, KS: As Roseanne Roseannadanna Used To Say ... It's Always Something, If It's Not One Thing It's Another

Key Words: Mi Ranchito, mi, ranchito, lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, Mexican, taco, tacos, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, business, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = "Bend Over, Here It Comes Again"

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Lawrence, KS: No "Tie" Here, Thai Diner Is The Clear Winner As Best Value In Town

Thai Diner
2223 Louisiana Street, Suite E
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone number: (785) 551-7528
Website: thaidinerks.com
Prices: $$$$

On this, our second visit, the food was just as good and the prices fair, but the service left something to be desired.
We were not greeted when we arrived, only told to find our own table. It took quite a while for our server to welcome us and bring our water even though the place was virtually empty on a Sunday night with two servers working. We ordered the Mini Steamed Buns ($5.95) with sweet pork sausage and dried shredded pork on wheat flour buns and the Crispy Spring Rolls ($4.25 - Regular/chicken). The server asked me if we wanted the chicken spring rolls even though I ordered the "regular" variety which, according to the menu, come with chicken. I said. "yes, of course".

After taking our order, our server indicated that "everything" would be out shortly, but if you know me, you know I detest entrees arriving before the appetisers have been finished. I asked her to please hold the entrees until we had finished our starters, to which she readily agreed. The steamed buns (3) were OK even though the steamed whole wheat buns were not even baked. They had an odd look and texture (like eating raw bread dough) and were too big for the tiny dipping cups, but the flavor was decent. Not something we would order again. The spring rolls were good and a decent value at $4.25. The dipping sauces came in teeny weeny cups, too small even for the fried spring rolls which were not that big to begin with.

As I mentioned, the entrees did not arrive until we had finished our appetisers, so once we were done with the starters we waited and waited and waited, and more than 10 minutes later our entrees were finally in front of us. 
My wife had the Yum-Tum Phad Thai ($9.95) which she raved about, a stir fry of rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, cabbage and lemon grass with tofu. She cleaned her plate and would have likely licked it clean (I'm joking of course) if we were not in public, stating "that was absolutely delicious". I decided to try the Yellow Curry with beef ($9.25), a good size portion of potato pieces, yellow onion, sliced carrots and thinly sliced beef in a deliciously sweet, savory and spicy curry that dazzled the senses. It was an excellent curry.

The decor is simple and basic, but tasteful, but I would recommend not sitting anywhere near the double front doors on a cold and/or windy night because our napkins flew and the chill was breathtaking every time someone entered or left, some several times, including one couple who did not know the difference between Thai and sushi, having missed their mark by several hundred feet and leaving as quickly as they had entered.
Even though the service was suspect on this occasion, a plus was that I found out that you can "BYOB" (meaning wine I believe), because they advertise "no cork (corkage) fee". The minuses, they insist on "tipping your server appropriately" (better left unsaid as common sense tells you that if they provide the glasses and uncork the wine, then you should tip accordingly) and that you must leave any unconsumed alcohol behind (which is likely state law).

CombatCritic Gives Thai Diner 8 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!



Eight Bombs Equates To:
MENUS





Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!

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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17 - 650,000+ Views A Year

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)


Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie - Over  1,890,733 Review And Photo Views

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Read Chris S.'s review of Thai Diner on Yelp 


Title: Lawrence, KS: No "Tie" Here, Thai Diner Is The Clear Winner As Best Value In Town

Key Words: Thai Diner, Thai, diner, Lawrence, Kansas, KS, 23rd, curry, Phad, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, business, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! = "What-The-Fuck ... Over!"

Friday, March 3, 2017

Lawrence, KS: Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Crappy Attitude ... Papa John's

Papa John’s Pizza

918 Mississippi Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone number: (785) 865-5775
Website: papajohns.com
Prices: $$$$

There are no photos, sorry, you know what Papa John's and their pizzas look like and this review has nothing to do with pizza. 

If Nathan, the manager, is any indication of quality at this location, they are in deep kimchi and their far less than "stellar" 2.5/5 rating on Yelp seems to indicate that fact. If I were the owner of this location, I would be very, very concerned, but then again, they churn out pizzas for KU's famished and undiscerning student body whether or not their quality standards and customer service are terrible, which they are.

This was the second time we have ordered online for pickup at this location and it will be the last. Their website sucks. They text me their "specials" EVERY FRIDAY, but I usually delete them and wish I had this time as well. I followed the link, chose the crust, size, sauce, and toppings for each pizza, only to be told, after going through this with two pizzas, that the promo code (PJ40) they texted me was "INVALID". I tried again and received the same message, so I went to their "Specials" page where I found a two topping extra large (16") pizza at $9.99 each ... BINGO! But when I clicked on the link that came up advertising that special, I was told "this page doesn't exist", so I tried again with the same absurd outcome.

I finally ordered a couple large pizzas for pickup because by this time we were famished and went to the store with order in hand. I tried to tell Nathan, the manager, about the difficulties that I had with the website and ordering what we wanted, but he refused to listen to what I was saying, insisting that I had received the "PJ40" promo code discount when, in-fact, I had ordered the large (14") two topping pizza specials ($7.99 each). I continued to try to explain the situation and the problems I had with the website, but Nathan obviously was not listening ... "uh huh, yea, uh huh", so I said "you really don't give a shit do you?". He told me there was a Help Line I could call if I was not happy, pointing to a decal on the side of the pizza display case.

Then, when he went to retrieve my order, even though I had arrived 30 minutes after ordering (the email I received said they would be ready in 15-25 minutes), our pizzas had not even been made yet. He lied, telling me they were in the oven, then ignored me other than telling me to "get out of the way" when the next customer arrived. Seriously? Get out of the way? Is that any way to talk to a customer? You know the answer to that question. After another 10-12 minutes, our pizzas were finally ready and I departed, giving Nathan my card and telling him to read my review on my popular blog and on Yelp.

The taste or quality of the pizza is irrelevant at this point, being the same mass produced pies you can get at any Papa John's in the U.S.A. It is the nerve and unprofessionalism I have now experienced on two occasions at this same location and from the same person if I am not mistaken. Nathan should be counseled and put on double secret probation if not fired. He gives this location specifically and Papa John's in general a bad name, leaving a bad taste in my mouth ... literally.

CombatCritic Gives Papa John's And Nathan The Manager 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My "WALL OF SHAME" ... More Bombs Are Better!


One Bomb Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - Elite '14/'15/'16/'17 - 650,000+ Views A Year

Tabelog - Official Judge (Silver)


Zomato - #1 Ranked "Verified" Foodie - Over  1,890,733 Review And Photo Views

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!

Papa John's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read Chris S.'s review of Papa John's Pizza on Yelp

Title: Lawrence, KS: Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Crappy Attitude ... Papa John's

Key Words: Lawrence, KS, Better Ingredients, Better Pizza, Papa John's, papa, John's, John, pizza, Mississippi, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato

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

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