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Friday, February 23, 2018

Tumwater, WA: Great Bread, Good Veal, Decent Prices, And Questionable Service

Pellegrino’s Italian Kitchen and Catering 
205 Cleveland Avenue SE
Tumwater, WA 98501
Phone number: (360) 709-9020
Prices: $$$$

Greeted by the aroma of garlic, tomatoes and herbs after 10+ hours on the road, this small restaurant in a quiet part of town and across the street from a cemetery was quite inviting to the senses as I entered. The pretty, young hostess was sweet and professional, greeting me warmly and like a fellow human being and seating me when I walked through the door, even clearing a table in the corner so I did not have to sit next to the door on a chilly and blustery late fall evening. Unfortunately, my server was not so sweet and accommodating.

She (shall remain nameless - I only name employees when bestowing kudos) did not introduce herself, barely said a word, and looked like she would rather be anywhere but there and/or serving me. I ordered an IPA ($4.25), but she failed to tell me about the daily dinner special(s) or the Thursday 25% Off Appetizers special. Less calories for me and smaller tip for her as a percentage of the total bill.

For my entree, I got the Veal Parmigiana ($17.99), asking for meat sauce (Bolognese) instead of marinara on my spaghetti. Looking at me like I had a dick growing out of my forehead at first, she then stated: "I think we can do that, but it will be an upcharge ($2-$2.50)" to which I agreed. She brought out two bread rolls and a small bowl of EVO and balsamic vinegar. The rolls were hot, looked homemade, and were quite delicious. Soup or salad were not included with my dinner.
When she brought my veal, it looked quite inviting, but the pasta sauce looked like marinara, having little if any visible "meat". I tried to get her attention for at least five minutes while she farted around with a new customer and doing things in the back. When she finally came over, I mentioned the problem with the supposed "meat sauce", so she leaned over and looked at the pasta, gave me the dickhead look again, and walked away toward the kitchen. She never did return with the correct sauce, extra sauce, or even an explanation, so I ate what was there before it got cold.

The veal was very good, tender and plentiful, and the sauce was very well done with a modestly sweet, yet not overpowering flavor. There was plenty of sauce and cheese on the veal, but the pasta was rather dry with not enough of whatever sauce I ended up getting on it, so I asked for some grated parmesan.
When the bill arrived, sure enough, there was the $2 upcharge for the "meat sauce" and still no explanation. If a customer complains about something, it should either be rectified immediately or removed from the bill, so I deducted the $2 from what would have been a 20%+ tip, my minimum for good service, which this was not. She probably should have received less, but she could have been having a bad day and I did not want to penalize her any more than I had to in order to get my point across.

You may think I was harsh, but being a Skinnerian, behaviorist, and former server, I know that if you reward bad behavior, the behavior will never improve and will likely remain the same if not get worse. So there you have it. If she is like most people, I doubt she learns from the experience (even after reading my review - I left my card), likely blaming me for being a cheapskate and poor tipper rather than accepting responsibility for her own failings. 
This is the kind of place I would love to have in my neighborhood if the service were better (a possible fluke in this case). Unfortunately, you can serve the best food in the most beautiful setting, but if the service sucks, the experience sucks. Too bad the kind, young hostess was not my server. So there you go, I know some may think me a "dickhead", but at least I tell it the way it is ... in my opinion.

CombatCritic Gives Pellegrino's Italian Kitchen 5 Bombs Out Of 10 With A Two Bomb Deduction For Service ... More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


"Continue Mission"

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 Pellegrino's Italian Kitchen and Catering on Yelp

View my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Tumwater, WA: Great Bread, Good Veal, Decent Prices, And Questionable Service

Key Words: Tumwater, WA, Washington, Pelligrino's, Pellegrino’s Italian Kitchen, kitchen, Italian, Catering, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Monday, February 19, 2018

"Flexibility" Is The Key To Air Power And A Charlotte House Core Value

Charlotte House Hotel
78 London Road
Peterborough PE2 9BP
United Kingdom
Phone number +44 1733 315870
Website: charlottehousehotel.com
Prices: ££££

Kudos to the owner/manager for her flexibility! Usually an expert and thorough logistician (after all, it was my military career field for 20 years), I somehow screwed the pooch on this reservation, booking this hotel for the day AFTER our scheduled arrival. I contacted the property that morning with my tail between my legs and, low and behold, they changed our reservation to that night without a cancellation (aka dumb ass) charge. 

We arrived late after visiting friends I had not seen in 20 years just 20 miles south in Huntingdon and left early the next morning, so we did not have time to enjoy the hotel. Parking is in the rear, so take the street immediately north of the hotel (Park Street), then left again on Woodbine Street behind the hotel. If arriving after dark, you might see the slightly obscured "Charlotte House Car Park" sign on the fence adjacent to the property if you look hard enough (see photos below).
Rear of Hotel

A two-story Victorian building on the outskirts of town and less than a mile from the impressive Peterborough Cathedral (burial place of Catherine of Aragon and former resting place of Mary Queen of Scots), the feel is eclectic and somewhat modern, but warm, inviting and slightly charming The room was a tad odd with three steps down into the room from the entry, but it was large with an en suite bathroom, TV with cable, kettle with coffee/tea/milk/sugar, a comfy full size bed, and decent Wi-Fi. We slept well.







At £49.50 ($70.40), we kept the price under my preferred $75 limit and it included a delicious full English breakfast ... now that is a definitie TravelValue ... HOOAH! 
CombatCritic Gives Charlotte House Hotel 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Read Chris S.'s review of Charlotte House Hotel on Yelp

Yelp - "Gold" Elite '14/'15/'16/'17/'18 
  • 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 CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: "Flexibility" Is The Key To Air Power And A Charlotte House Core Value

Key Words: Charlotte House Hotel, Charlotte, House, hotel, Peterborough, UK, England, Cambridgeshire, accommodation, room, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook

Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved

Windsor, England: In The Shadow Of Windsor Castle Is A Georgian Charmer Fit For A Queen

The Royal Adelaide Hotel
46 Kings Road
Windsor SL4 2AG
United Kingdom
Phone number: +44 175-386-3916
Website: royaladelaide.com
Prices: ££££

Built in the 1830s for its namesake, Queen Adelaide, this Georgian hotel is elegant, quite charming, and just a short walk away from and with great views of historic Windsor Castle. Honestly, for £75 ($105) I was not expecting such a nice hotel and with breakfast included no less! 


We parked in back in their private lot, but was told that parking would be an additional £10 when we checked-in. Once again, Booking.com did not clearly point out the extra fee for parking, so the front desk clerk apologized and upgraded us to a larger room with a view of Windsor Castle ... HOOAH!







The room was smallish, but nicely appointed with a comfy queen size bed and fast internet, something we had recently missed at some of the English hotels and inns we stayed at on this road trip. Then there was the view of Windsor Castle ... WOW!
Breakfast, which was included, was the best in recent memory with a choice of eggs Benedict, an omelette, or full English breakfast. I went with the eggs Benedict and my wife the omelette, both cooked to perfection. Juices, toast, coffee, tea and other selections (cereal, yogurt, etc) were also available.

When checking-out, the clerk told us that she would comp the parking because of Booking.com's oversight, saving us another $14.50. Now that's outstanding customer service and a great TravelValue ... OOH-RAH!
Fit For A Queen ... CombatCritic Gives The Royal Adelaide Hotel 9 Bombs Out Of 10 ... More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:

Translation for Civilians: "U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm"

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:
Read Chris S.'s review of The Royal Adelaide Hotel on Yelp


Yelp - "Gold" Elite '14/'15/'16/'17/'18 
  • 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 CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Windsor, England: In The Shadow Of Windsor Castle Is A Georgian Charmer Fit For A Queen

Key Words: Windsor, England, Windsor Castle, Georgian, Adelaide, castle, The Royal Adelaide Hotel, royal, hotel, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Google, Facebook


Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved

Camas, WA: Great Potential, Less Than Perfect Execution

K&M Drive-In
3414 NE 3rd Avenue
Camas, WA 98607
Phone number (360) 210-5803
Website: kmdrivein.com
Prices: $$$$

We recently moved to the area and had driven past K&M Drive-In on several occasions. It looked interesting and the Yelp reviews were very good (4.5 Stars - usually a good omen), so I decided to give them a try.
The interior dining area is small with just 5 or 6 tables (they also have a drive-up window) and the place clean. I was approached immediately and professionally by a man I assumed to be the manager, taking my order and telling me "your order will be out in 7-8 minutes".
I ordered two Grilled Onion and Mushroom Garlic Bacon Cheeseburgers ($6.79 each), one with an extra 1/4 pound beef patty ($1.50), a large side of Hand Cut French Fries ($3.69), and a House Made Chili ($3.49). I was asked how I wanted the bacon cooked (chewy, medium or crispy - I asked for medium) and if I wanted jalapeños on my chili (I have severe GERD, so I told him "no"). Then I waited and waited and waited ...
I figured that they were busy, but after about fifteen minutes I assumed there was some sort of problem, a fact verified by the look on the manager's face when he still saw me sitting there waiting for my take-away order. He came to me and explained that the order in-fact never made it to the kitchen because of a computer glitch, that my order would be remade and that I would have it in "7-8 minutes". They also gave me a coupon for a free "K&M Burger" ($5.69 value), a nice gesture. So, I waited and waited and waited ... it was like deja vu all over again!
After another 10-15 minutes, another gentleman (the owner I found out, the "K" in K&M) came out with two paper bags, claiming that my first order had in-fact been made, but given away to a drive-in customer by mistake. He apologized profusely, promising to do better next time. I gave him my card - CombatCritic Was In The House! - and proceeded home to sample the chow.
Comparable to Five Guys in taste, you get only 4 ounces of beef instead of the 6.6 ounces (two 3.3 ounce patties) you get at Five Guys for a similar price (I paid $8.29 for 8 ounces), so they are not cheap. The "medium" bacon was more on the "chewy" side, but the burgers were pretty damn good I have to admit.  The hand cut fries were hot and tasted OK, but were too mushy and greasy for my taste in addition to being a tad on the expensive side (nearly $4 for less than 50¢ worth of potatoes). When I opened the chili, there was an array of red and green jalapeños on top, just what the doctor (colonel in this case) HAD NOT ordered. I was expecting a thick, robust, beanless chili only because they offer chili cheese fries which routinely come with that type. What I got was a somewhat watery, tomato laden, acidic and not very tasty (but spicy, thanks to the hot peppers) variety with kidney beans, my least favorite bean in a chili (if there are any at all) due to their hard, pasty consistency.
I want to like this place mostly because of the lack of restaurants in the area and my desire to support locally owned, small businesses. This place has tons of potential and it seems as though they make a lot of their customers happy, but I was not very impressed due to the order SNAFUs (lost order, chewy bacon and jalapeños in my chili), their somewhat high prices, and the fries and chili which need, in my opinion, a new recipe or some quality control.

Maybe it was a bad night, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt and not hammer them as hard as I normally would for similar shortfalls, but time will tell the tale. So, for now, ...

CombatCritic Gives K&M Drive-In 5 Bombs Out Of 10 ... "Pretty Damn Average" ... More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


Translation for Civilians: "Continue Mission"

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp - "Gold" Elite '14/'15/'16/'17/'18 
  • 650,000+ Views A Year
Read Chris S.'s review of K & M DriveIn on Yelp






Tabelog - Official Judge - "Silver"

K&M Drive-In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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 and our sister channel, CombatCounselor Chronicleswith Over 1,250 Subscribers and 1,000,000 Video Views ... HOOAH!

View my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Camas, WA: Great Potential, Less Than Perfect Execution

Key Words: K&M Drive-In, K&M, 3rd Avenue, Camas, WA 98607, hamburger, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, drive, in, drive-in, review, Yelp, Zomato, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook

Copyright 2018 - 3rd Wave Media Group And CombatCritic ™ - All Rights Reserved

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