Eat Random

The idea for this blog is to blog about everything I think about food and food culture. I'll tell you what I like to eat, where I like to eat it and if I thought it was good or if I thought it was crap. My thoughts about food could go anywhere. Hey if you don't like it go blog at

Random Dude Eats Random Food Indianapolis restaurants

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sweet Treat: Edy's Samoas Ice Cream

I confess and I'll own up to it right now.  I have a serious weakness for Samoa Girl Scout Cookies.  Whenever the time of the years rolls around when they're being sold I simply am compelled to buy some and consume them in short order.  That's why I was so intrigued when I looked in the freezer section while The Girlfriend and I were at the grocery store last night.  Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he had left Edy's Samoas Ice Cream in my grocer's freezer.  Being that it was also on sale I just had to pick some up.

Unfortunately I have to report that while I think Samoa ice cream is great in theory in practice it just wasn't a home run for me.  It should have been.  All the components are things I love: caramel ice cream, fudge, sizable chunks of Samoa cookie pieces.  However, it just didn't come together into something that I found that tasty.  The best part of it by far was the cookie pieces, but I could barely taste any caramel flavor at all from the ice cream.  Maybe it would be improved by a coconut ice cream base with actual ribbons of caramel running through it.  It's also true that perhaps my expectations were just a bit too high on this one.  Whatever the case may be the fact remains that when you try new things you win some and you lose some.  Next it's time to get my hands on Ben and Jerry's new Late Night Snack ice cream.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sweet Treat: Gummy Bears

Usually if I want something sweet one of the last things I seek out is candy.  Every once in a while I'll get the urge to have a candy bar, but sweets to me mostly fall into the baked goods or pastry category.  But to every rule there are some exceptions and my exception is gummy bears.  Ever since I was a little kid I have had a sweet spot for gummy candies of all kinds.  I like the traditional fruit flavored gummy bears, but I've been known to crave fruit snacks or sour gummy worms also.  I'm not really sure what the attraction is to that particular kind of candy, but I think it has a lot to do with the fact that they are usually not too sweet and the appealing texture.  They're also incredibly portable and don't melt like chocolate does.  Put them in a bag, take them to work and brighten your day.  Or if you're one of those Man vs. Food type people go ahead and order this 5lb monstrosity.

image courtesey

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

P.F. Changs

There are a lot of things in this world that are popular and I just don't understand why.  Nascar, Dancing With the Stars, and Charlie Sheen (seriously everyone should be over this guy by now) just to name a few.  After my recent dining experience at P.F. Chang's I believe that restaurant deserves to be placed in the same category.

As we walked into the restaurant and sat down you're immediately welcomed in by the nice warm interior of the restaurant, the attentive servers and the inviting look of the semi-open kitchen.  It all seems that these elements are the signature part of P.F. Chang's bait-and-switch mentality.  The menu is quite large with a lot of the same or similar to what you mind find on a typical Chinese take-out menu.  The difference is of course the price.  I ordered the Moo Goo Gai Pan at a menu price of $13.50 which included a side of white rice.  The portion size was quite large, and I may have not even been too disappointed if my dish had even been the least bit palatable.

My dish was pretty standard for what Moo Goo Gai Pan is supposed to be.  Chicken, shrimp and veggies in white sauce.  It looked quite delicious as it was sat in front of me, but unfortunately once I tasted it I had my hopes dashed more than a Kansas fan during March Madness.  The shrimp were cooked nicely, but that is really the only thing I can say positively about it.  The entire dish lacked any kind of flavor what so ever.  The chicken and vegetables tasted like they had been boiled in completely unseasoned water and then thrown on my plate.  The sauce was so awful I almost fail to come up with words to describe it other than to say it was somewhat thicker than water, twice as flavorless and almost made me not want to eat the shrimp (one of my favorite foods) out of the dish.  I tried to liven up my meal some by adding one of P.F. Chang's table sauces, but there was no saving it.  This was the first time I ever remember getting Chinese food and not finishing my meal not due to bad flavors.  Now, I will say that I tried some of the dishes of my dining companions and they weren't all that bad.  But those dishes were of the fried and put in a sweet sauce variety and those are hard to screw up.  Some might say I just ordered the wrong dish, but if you're a big national chain charging a premium for otherwise cheap food then I expect every dish on the menu to be executed equally.  Then again what the hell do I know?  We were there on a weekday night and the place was packed.

Taste 1/10  Had the shrimp not been cooked just the way I like them I probably would have given a zero here.
Value 0/10  Yeah sorry.  I know they are going for the sit-down upscale casual vibe here, but even with the bells and whistles it's pretty damn hard to get me to accept paying double what I usually pay for Chinese and have what I ordered be practically inedible.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Weekend Preview

It's Friday Friday Friday gotta get down on...sorry couldn't help myself.  But as Rebecca Black so cleverly reminds us tomorrow is Saturday, and as per usual I will be prowling the city in search of good eats.  There is a chance that my parents may be coming down from the big city of Muncie to dine with The Girlfriend and I.  I've been racking my brain to try to think of a place we could try out that meets the following criteria.  1. It has to be in the Fishers/Noblesville/Carmel area.  If my parents are already driving 45 minutes I don't want to spend the additional time dragging them to Brip or downtown.  2.  I want it to be tasty but casual.  Come on let's be honest here.  I'm trying to get the rents to spring for dinner and if it's some place that's 30-40 bucks a plate they aren't gonna go for it.  3.  I want to go some place independent.  They already have nothing but chain restaurants up there in Funcie.  I'd like to show them something a little more unique without getting too adventurous for their tastes.  Any suggestions are welcome.  Also, sometime this weekend I'm going to try to pound out my P.F. Chang's review that I've had hanging over my head for a while now.  Hmm maybe I'm putting off writing it so I don't have to re-live the experience..uh oh maybe I've said too much.  Well, have a good weekend everyone.  If I'm not back posting by early next week at the latest just assume I suffered an OD on processed onion soup powder after cocktail time at a Sandra Lee dinner party. 

Sandra Lee image courtesy, Rebecca Black image courtesy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fast Food Memoriam: The Hardee's Big Cookie

Some of my fondest childhood memories stem from the days when my mother would take me over to my grandma's so she could babysit me while mom my worked.  Often times either on our way to my grandparents house or on the way home in the afternoon my mom would stop and get me a special treat.  That treat was the Big Cookie from Hardee's.  That oversized, soft, warm chocolate chip cookie never ceased to bring a smile to my face.  It is with great sadness that I lament its passing.  I hadn't thought much about it in years until it came in conversation today, and I was incredibly disappointed that you can no longer stop into your local Hardee's and pick one up.  All of the Hardee's locations in Muncie where I grew up are closed and gone and have been for years.  You can't even get a Hardee's burger where I grew up let alone my favorite childhood treat.  When Hardee's did their menu overhaul several years ago some things were bound to get lost in the shuffle for the sake of making an overall better menu.  It's just unfortunate that the Big Cookie had to be one of those casualties of the corporate battlefield.  What are some of your favorite no longer in existence fast food menu items?  I have a feeling there are several out there that might be worth blogging about.  Also, I wasn't able to find any pictures of the Big Cookie and the Big Cookie pouch that it came in so if anybody can find one on the googles or somewhere else let me know.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sweet Treat: St Patty's Day Cookies

Despite all the craziness and trendiness around cakes and cupcakes these days neither one really do that much for me.  They're okay, but if I really want to satisfy my sweet tooth I reach for a cookie.  Last week I was in luck because a co-worker of mine who is a fantastic baker and cake decorator sent several of us here in the office a little box of homemade St Patrick's Day themed sugar cookies.  I'm usually more of a chocolate chip kind of guy, but she totally nailed what a good sugar cookie is supposed to be.  They were soft and fluffy without being too heavy like some store brand sugar cookies.  Also, the icing that she put on them was fantastic.  Sweet and not too thick so it didn't dominate the cookie.  Some of the cookies also had green icing which had just a hint of mint flavor on the back end which I really enjoyed.  It's nice when the icing itself actually has flavor added instead of just food coloring.  Also, you have to admit that shamrock shaped cookies are pretty cool no matter what.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Carmel Burgers

Despite my desire to try new things and restaurants and write about them on this blog I sometimes find myself slipping into going to restaurants that I already know are good.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  If a place is good it makes sense I would become a frequent customer.  However, I have to remind myself that without trying new places I may never find that next great meal that will keep me coming back.  That's the reason the girlfriend and I decided to try Carmel Burgers (Hazel Dell and Main in Carmel).  I hadn't heard anything about this place.  No preconceptions.  Just a stop on the quest for a great local burger.

The menu at Carmel Burgers is pretty straight forward.  It pretty much consists of burgers of varying sizes, specialty burgers (mushroom, bacon, etc), hotdog, gyros, steakfries and onion rings.  Each burger comes standard with lettuce, tomato and pickle unless specified otherwise.  The girl and I both decided to get the 1/3lb cheeseburger, fries and Cokes.  She swapped out her steak fries for beer battered onion rings for an additional charge.  For both meals together it cost us about 18 bucks which is a little expensive for a burger from a fast-food style restaurant, but if it's a quality product I'm not going to complain too much.

When we got our burgers I thought they were a nice size.  Not overwhelmingly big, but stout enough that I was happy with a single patty.  I don't like veggies on my burger. My burger looks a little plain only being adorned with pickle slices.  If I was to make a tweak to the restaurant it would be adding some sort of special sauce or grilled onions and mushrooms as menu choices.  Luckily they had some very tasty bbq sauce available on the table for a condiment.  It was that great mix of sweet and spicy that tasted like it could have been house made.  The burger itself was a good but not great burger.  It was cooked a little more than I maybe would have preferred.  The meat also tasted unusually peppery for a burger which I somewhat enjoyed, but I'm not sure I'd be in the majority on that one.  The seasoning was quite strong.  The girlfriend agreed about the flavor of her burger and she said it even cut through the veggies and mayo that she elected as toppings.

On the basis of the burgers alone I could tell that this place has potential.  However, there were a couple of things that left me shaking my head.  First of all the side items.  I really tried to give them a chance, but I still detest steak fries.  As steak fries usually are these were heavy and mushy.  When I think of a great burger place great fries so often go hand in hand with that.  I want fries that are light and crispy while retaining that potato flavor.  These steak fries were just mediocre filler that weighed me down for the rest of the night.  Perhaps even the heavy fries wouldn't have been so bad without adding in the bun on which they decided to serve these burgers.  The buns were nicely toasted sesame seed buns, but they were way way too big.  The burger was fairly large, but it was dwarfed by the giant bun on which it was served.  If I'm eating a 1/3 lb burger and I can't see the meat when the bun is on that is a problem. The onion rings were actually quite tasty with quite a bit of beer flavor in them.  I was hoping they were hand battered and made in house, but after seeing food service posters for them by the counter on the way out I have to believe otherwise.

Aside from the food I found  a couple of other things a little bit strange about the restaurant.  Based on their website,, it seems like they want to be a cool hangout type place.  They tout their craft beers on sale and flat screen tvs.  While both of those items were present it still didn't contribute to that type of hangout atmosphere.  The music playing over the speakers was inordinately loud.  The televisions weren't even turned on to a particular channel, and the tables aren't really comfortable enough or laid out in such a way as to make it an easy place to drink with buddies and watch the game.

In conclusion maybe I didn't find that next great local burger place that will make me a regular customer, but I did find one that with some minor tweaks could be much better than average.  To put it in pop culture parlance if Carmel Burgers was a girl that someone brought back to the Jersey Shore house she wouldn't be a dime but I wouldn't be running to sound the grenade whistle either.  (lame pop culture reference!!!)

Taste 6.5/10  I wanted to give it a little bit better of a score, but there were enough little problems that dragged it down.

Value 3/10  I could have spent the same amount of cash at Five Guys or 96th Street Steakburgers and had a meal I enjoyed more.

Carmel Burgers on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Food TV Review: Chopped All-Stars Episode 2

The one thing I enjoy about as much as food is television.  I can't help it.  I'm a junkie.  Even when on this very blog I have somewhat bashed Food Network before I can't keep myself from coming back to it in all of its corny cheesy goodness.  My favorite show on FN is probably Chopped.  Crazy ingredients.  Stupid short time constraints for cooking.  A guaranteed elimination after each of the 3 rounds.  What's not to love?  To add a little more life to that concept they've decided to have several weeks with "celebrity" or "all-star" competitors playing for charity.  In true Food Network style it really just amounts to "people who have shows on or at some point have been on Food Network in some capacity".
The four competitors:  Robert Irvine (Dinner/Restaurant Impossible), Anne Burrell (Secrets of a Restaurant Chef/Worst Cooks), Claire Robinson (5 Ingredient Fix) and Duff "My Hipster Friends Really Do All of The Work For Me" Goldman (Ace of Cakes).  The ingredients are too numerous to list here in their entirety, but I'll just say that in the appetizer round the main ingredient they had to use was canned haggis.  If that doesn't show you what Chopped is all about I don't know what will.  I'm not going to go through a round by round recap of how the show went because you can probably guess.  There were 2 chefs (Burrell, Irvine) up against some stoner cake decorating guy and a pretty face.  Needless to say Burrell and Irvine wound up in the final round against each other, but while it seemed like they were making nice inventive dishes it is hard to be sure since the judges seemed to be more effusive with their praise than normal.  Of course the contestants dishes could have been some of the best ever made on the show, but you have to remember this is the same network that uses its hype machine to make people think Sandra Lee can actually cook.

Even with some of those thoughts lurking in the back of my mind I have to say this was a really enjoyable hour of television.  It was interesting to see competitors who are used to doing cooking shows instead of chefs who are cooking in a restaurant on a daily basis.  You could really see the focus and intensity on their faces as they scrambled to put dishes together.  No pre-done mise en place or pre-cooked "finished products" here.  I'd like to see more of this kind of programming from Food Network instead of crap like Cupcake Wars or watching Sandra Lee pour onion soup over a hamburger and call it a meal.  Maybe they will realize what actual good programming is like.  Wait, are you telling me they just premiered a whole show about people who do ice sculptures?  Shit.  Never mind.

Photos via,, and

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Donuts, is there anything they can't do?

I love a good donut.  I don't have them very often, but when I do it always feels like a special treat to me.  When I lived in Muncie one of my favorite places (and the best place) to get donuts was at the local bakery, Concannon's.  Donuts from grocery stores or convience stores can be okay, but there is nothing like a good fresh bakery donut.  I'm not sure where the best donuts are here in the north Indy suburbs.  It's definitely something I want to seek out.  I like to keep it simple.  No cream or jelly fillings for me.  If you have a recommendation I want to hear it. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dragon House Chinese Eatery

Getting Chinese food is one of my true pleasures in life.  Most of the time I like to get takeout, but I can enjoy it in all of its forms as long as it's tasty at a decent price.  The girlfriend and I have been looking for a good Chinese buffet in the area.  I have tried Super Chinese Buffet in Noblesville...not good.  I've also tried 8 Chinese Buffet in Castleton...okay but I don't always feel like driving down to Castleton.  We both decided that Dragon House Chinese Eatery in Fishers (116th and Allisonville) was worth a shot.  I had heard good things about their non-buffet menu items from Indy Restaurant Scene.  It was time to learn if they put the same quality into their buffet items.

The restaurant looks unimposing.  It's just in an average strip mall next to a Kroger.  You go in and you can either order off the menu or order the buffet.  We both got the buffet and it includes drink for around 10 bucks a piece.  More than reasonable in my opinion.  I also noticed that based on how many phone calls were coming in the place must do a brisk carry out business.  I found that unusual for a restaurant with a buffet so I hope that boded well for the quality of the food.

The selection of items on the buffet is not large by any means.  A couple of soups,  a small selection of fried items like egg rolls and crab rangoons and a small salad bar and several hot dishes.  I was skeptical at first because I thought if 2 or 3 of the dishes are bad then that is pretty much going to be all there is to choose from.  However, it turned out I was quite wrong.

For my first selections I decided to try some staples along with some things that just looked tasty.  I decided to go with an egg roll, fried rice, sweet and sour pork, pork with mushrooms and a little bit of their own sliced bbq pork.  As soon as I looked at the food I knew that the small amount of items on the menu was an advantage and not a hindrance.  Everything was really fresh and really tasty.  Without having to worry about so many dishes it really lets them make food for a buffet that is the same quality you would get if you were eating takeout or a sit down meal. The egg roll was the best I've had on any buffet.  I love egg rolls, but on buffets they usually get soggy.  These were crisp and delicious.   There was also significant care put into the fried rice.  Instead of the usual neon yellow flavorless stuff this was fresh and you could actually tell that it started with quality white rice then flavored and turned into a fried rice dish.  The pork and mushrooms was okay, but really nothing to write home about.  Pork and mushrooms in a brown sauce.  You've had it before.  Likewise with the sweet and sour pork.  I thought the real star was the bbq pork.  It was sliced thin and had the traditional sweet glaze on the outside.  It was very tender and flavorful.  I've seen spare ribs on other menus, but they aren't like this.

For round two I decided to try out some of the potstickers along with some of the general tso's chicken.   The potstickers were good and had nice flavor, but I'm always going to be a fan of the thicker dough style dumplings and those just don't seem to show up on buffet menus.  The sauce that went with the potstickers cold have used a little more spice, but I know my tolerance for heat is higher than normal and they want to make it palatable to more people.  The same goes for the general tso's.  I will give them props for having it taste fresh and not like out of the bag frozen chicken nuggets.  Also, it had a flavor profile that was more savory than sweet.  In my opinion it shouldn't be just a second version of sesame chicken.  I could have used a little more heat, but overall I was happy.

As far as dessert goes it's usually just something I go ahead and skip at Chinese restaurants.  I find their desserts to usually be bland and without much sweetness.  That was the case here as well for most of the dessert items.  They were the usual straight-out-of-the-box cakes and cookies.  However, something original on the hot bar intrigued me.  Fried coco milk.  I'm a big fan of coconut and I know not everyone is, but regardless you need  to give this a try.  The outside is fried crisp like in a tempura style, but the inside is creamy almost like the consistency of a thick pudding or sugar cream pie.  The flavor is not overwhelming coconut, but it does have a nice subdued sweetness.  I'm going to go back just so I can end my meal with one of these.

Taste 8.5/10  Easily some of the best tasting/best quality food I've had at a buffet.
Value 9/10  If the girlfriend and I can go out and have a meal we liked this much for right around or under $20 then I'm a happy happy man.

Dragon House Chinese Eatery on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thank you and A look at the weekend ahead

I just wanted to make a quick post to say thanks to all my readers.  We've had one of our best weeks in terms of hits on this blog since its inception.  I think it's fun to write about food regardless of how many people read it or not, but it's nice feeling to see that people are reading my opinions and musings.  I also wanted to give you a brief look ahead at some thing I had in mind.  I have a double whammy of Chinese restaurant reviews that I hope to get put up on the blog this weekend or early next week.  One is buffet and one is a sit-down place so they both should be good additions to my previous discussion of take-out Chinese.  Also, I'm still going to be searching for the perfect cannoli so if anyone has any suggestions as to where I should be guided on my adventure let me know.  Also, I've been in the mood for bbq and Cajun food for some time now and I recently heard about 1 place of each here on the North side that sound worthy of a visit.  You'll know how those trips pan out shortly after I do.  All of you have a good weekend and happy eating!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sweet Treat: Marsh Cannoli

I've got some restaurant reviews in the works, but I guess my sweet tooth has been making itself known lately. I love cannolis and I've been in the mood for one for weeks. Unfortunately they can be difficult to find at restaurants.  When I saw them at the Marsh bakery I decided to snap it up. 
I knew ahead of time that Marsh doesn't make any of their bakery items in house other than the bread. The quality of the cannoli obviously suffered because of this. The sweet marscapone and chocolate chips were tasty but definitely not fresh. The shell was most disappointing.  It was broken in the middle and lacked any sort of crispness whatsoever.  At a price of $2.29 per cannoli it just isn't worth it. It really only fueled my desire to get one from a real bakery.

Author's Note:  For those not from the Hoosier state Marsh is a local grocery store chain.

Brand/Off-Brand: Pop Tarts vs "Toaster Pastries"

One of the few things I like almost as much as good food is a good deal.  When I go to the grocery store sometimes this inclination leads me to buy the similar but cheaper grocery store knock-off brand rather than the name brands we all know.  To say the least I usually come out with mixed results.  I wanted to start a new semi-regular feature here on the blog where I explore some of these choices and how they turn out.  Let's kick things off with Blueberry Frosted Pop Tarts vs Blueberry Frosted Marsh Foodclub "Toaster Pastries".

The infamous "toaster pastry".
First off let me start by saying I know that either of these items shouldn't really be considered "good eats", but I'm often in a hurry in the mornings and God help me I like them so let's all agree to get past it.   The first thing I notice when comparing the two is that visually they look about the same.  The pastry of the generic might be a little lighter in color and the icing may not be spread as uniformly but otherwise so far so good.  When I take a bite of each one I notice the biggest difference.  The flavor of the filling is more or less the same, but there seems to be less of it in the "toaster pastry".  Also the pastry part itself is a lot more dry and crumbly.  It all adds up to an unpleasant texture that is really off putting.  The worst part of Pop Tarts are the corners where there isn't a lot of the filling and with the generic brand there seems to be a lot more of that sort of area in each pastry.

Until my food writing/blogging career takes off and I'm guest judging on Top Chef (no foams or gelees on my food please) I'm going to have to continue to save a buck here and there.  However tempting the "toaster pastries" may be at almost a buck less per package I've decided I'll go ahead and get Pop Tarts.  We can save the buck somewhere maybe on something my girlfriend likes...just kidding sweetheart.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sweet Treat: Panera Cobblestone Muffin

As you might have figured out already if you've been reading this blog I'm not really much for dessert, sweets or pastries.  To add a change of pace however I decided I'd do a few quick reviews in coming days of sweet treats of which I have partaken.  Yesterday I decided to kick things off with a cobblestone muffin from Panera. 

 If I had to describe what a cobblestone muffin is like I'd probably have to say it's almost like a bread pudding shaped into a muffin form crossed with a glazed apple fritter donut.  The size of the muffin is quite large at about the size of or a little bit larger than my very manly fist.  I thought the flavor was good with the most prominent flavor being the cinnamon/apple flavor.  I couldn't really taste the raisins in it at all.  My favorite part however was the very top of the muffin that had the hard glazed crust.  The inner softer didn't have nearly as good of a texture and it was so sticky it was somewhat hard to eat.

Overall, I think if you are in the mood for a pastry and are either really hungry or indifferent to heavy food I think you would probably enjoy the cobblestone muffin.  It is probably one of the more interesting sweets produced in the Panera bakery (which is much superior to the Cafe portion of the store btw).  I don't really want to give any sweets/desserts a rating on the Taste/Value scales because I think their aim is short term appeasement of cravings or indulgence and I want to evaluate them as such.  For me this one hit the mark for the most part, but as far as bakery items from Panera it's still yet to surpass the cinnamon crunch bagel or cheese danish.

Panera Bread on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I'm On The Twitters

I wanted to let you loyal readers know that I'm on Twitter @HoosierDaddyIU.  I don't always tweet about things food related, but I do sometimes along with tweeting about new posts.  Also, I think it's a great way to communicate new places to visit and try.

Buffalo Wild Wings: The worst chain on the planet

Ever since I moved to the Indianapolis area and even more so  in the last few months I have grown more and more to appreciate local independent restaurants.   When I lived in Muncie such places were in  short supply, but here  there are quite a few and sometimes I even forget about ones I want to try.  Tonight as the girlfriend and I were getting ready to go to dinner I let her decide where we would be dining.  When the word "Bdubs" came out of her mouth I audibly and visually cringed.  However since I shot down this same suggestion from her last week I felt that I had to relent this time.  Every time I go there, and it seems to be  the same at each location, I have the  worst service I've had at any restaurant since the last time I was there.  However, I justified my giving in by saying well at least the wings are usually pretty big and pretty tasty.  Tonight I realized how wrong I was.

When we came in to the already crowded restaurant full of noisy kids and all of the seizure inducing televisions and other junk on the walls I knew we were going to be in trouble.  We stood at the host's station for a good two minutes before anyone even realized we where there.  Finally when guy-in-10-year-old-baseball-cap finally noticed us he just handed us a buzzer and never told us how long the wait was or if we'd like to sit in the bar.  There was no way in hell I was waiting to eat chicken wings so I just decided to take initiative and grab a table in the bar area.  I thought things were going to be okay from there on out, but it took well over 20 minutes to get our wings.  Yes, we just got wings and only wings.  No sides. No special requests.  The one main thing that everybody gets and it still took them almost half an hour to get our food out to us.  When we finally got our wings the first thing I noticed was how small they were.  If I'm at a damn wing restaurant and I'm paying good money for wings they better be jumbo wings.  They where also completely overcooked and tough.  Pizza Hut serves better wings than  what we had tonight.  And finally when we were done and tired of sitting on their crappy uncomfortable stools and just wanting to get the hell out of their our waiter walks by us at least 10 times before even thinking of bringing our check (23 bucks w/tip for 24 wings and 1 Diet Coke ugh).

All of those things by themselves are each reason enough to be mad about the dining experience, but I think the thing that gets me the most is that the place was jammed full of people and showed no signs of slowing down.  Why?  The place is absolutely bringing nothing to the table to keep your business.   Truthfully it's quite the opposite.  Shrinking the size of the wings, raising the prices and tolerating  poor performing staff are all signs of an incredible arrogance on behalf of the Buffalo Wild Wings organization.  Until people decide to follow in my footsteps and never go back, to paraphrase the great Sam Cook, a change is not gonna come.

Buffalo Wild Wings on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 4, 2011

Arby's 3 Cheese Angus Sub

"I'm so hungry I could eat at Arby's"-Sherri and Terri from The Simpsons when stranded on a desert island.

For lunch today I decided to pass up several food choices that I knew would be delicious and opt for Arby's new Three Cheese Angus sub.  The first thing you should know going in is that the sandwich itself is 5 bucks.  In my opinion that is quite pricey for a fast food sandwich.  If you want a medium fries and drink with that (which I did) your total will come to $8.15.  Considering all the places I could have gone for lunch and what I could have purchased with my $8.15 the meal was going to have to be pretty damn good to make up for it.  It wasn't.

When I first saw my tray with the wrapped sandwich on it I had to say I was optimistic.  It looked like it had serious heft and would be quite a meal.  I was duped.  The amount of paper wrapping was enormous and only concealed an average to below average sized sub inside.  While the "angus" roast beef on the sandwich looked somewhat thicker than the see-through stuff Arby's usually serves up there could have been a little more of it.  The 3 cheese were barely detectable.  I got a couple slices of some sort of white cheese that wasn't really that melted, a few barely noticeable shards of some sort of shredded yellow cheese and a parmesan ranch SAUCE...yes somehow sauce counts as cheese according to Arby's.  Needless to say visually this was doing nothing for me, but maybe the flavor was where it was at.  Wrong.  The beef certainly tasted different than their regular roast beef, but truthfully I found it way way over seasoned.  That along with the sauce completely over powered the couple slices of bacon on the sandwich to the point where I almost forgot they were even there.  You're doing something wrong if the bacon flavor is buried.  Pretty much a swing and a miss in every category.

Taste 2/10 The parmesan ranch sauce was kind of ok.  I wouldn't mind seeing it available in another form.  As a sandwich I thought this just plain sucked.
Value 0/10  Horrible sandwich and pricey (for fast food).  I would have rather spent my 8 bucks on almost any other lunch item anywhere else.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I was just watching Topchef tonight, and in addition to being the best cooking comptetion on tv it also tends to remind me of foods I want to try. One of the "cheftestants" tonight mentioned how braised oxtail was a food that was often cooked as part of their family tradition. While I've seen people make this dish on TV many times I don't remember seeing it on a menu of any restaurant I've been to.  It always looks so tender and flavorful with all kinds of meaty goodness. Does anyone know of anywhere near central Indiana where I can order this dish?

96th Street Steakburgers

Most of you from the Indy's North side who are reading this might already be aware of the local phenomenon that is 96th Street Steakburgers.  For those of you who are not I will tell you that it's one of those new kinds of restaurants that tries to be a fast food restaurant with a stripped down menu serving a higher quality product than you get at a big chain.  I've heard lots of things about it including comparisons to Five Guys and In And Out on the West coast.  I decided this last weekend to try it out myself.

The first thing you notice when you pull up is the design of the building.  It's small with not a lot of seating on the inside.  It screams old school hamburger stand to me kind of the way Rally's does, but with the twist of letting you eat there if you wish.  In that same vein is the menu.  You have burgers, fries, shakes, sodas and that is about it.  You can customize your burger with toppings (some include an upcharge) but you're not going to find a salad or a fish sandwich here.  It's all about doing a few things and doing them well.

I decided to go with the triple cheeseburger combo including fries and a medium soda for a about $7.50.  The burgers are the smashed style with crispy edges which usually isn't my preferred kind, but this were fresh and juicy and quite delicious.  I decided to forgo the lettuce and tomato on my burger and keep the pickles and special sauce.  While the meat of the burger was tasty I was a little disappointed that I couldn't really taste the sauce at all on my burger.  Next time I might forgo the triple and just get a double so the meat flavor isn't as overwhelming. I would also add some additional toppings like grilled onions to liven things up a bit.  The bun was toasted but still soft which I appreciated also.  I would say the fries were good, but not exceptional.  They had a nice crispiness, but since they were done in a smaller shoe string style I thought they were a little harder to dip in my ketchup and eat.  I did not have a shake.  They had several signs up about how acclaimed their milkshakes were so I might have to try one on a revisit.

Taste: 8.5/10  Overall I thought this was pretty darn good.  It makes me happy to know also that this is a local place with 3 locations, but all within the Indy area.  I think it's a better burger and fries than you'll get at almost any big fast food chain.  I would still rank them a shade behind Five Guys in the taste of both their burgers and fries.  I've never had In and Out of which 96th Street is allegedly a copy so I can't do a comparison there.
Value:  9/10  This is where 96th Street beats Five Guys in my opinion.  If I go into Five Guys I can't walk out of there with a burger, fries and a Coke for under 10 bucks mostly due to the fact that they don't have a serving of fries for a single person.  I like the idea of the combo meals at 96th Street where I can get everything I want for under 8 bucks.  It may not be quite as tasty, but it's close and you can go there by yourself without needing someone to split the fries with you.

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