Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Oh Dr. Pepper, you are the most curious of beverages. It has a flavor you can't quite place, but most people either love it or hate it. Personally, I'm in the former camp having converted from the latter within the last year or so. It's even the one kind of pop that the manufacturer proudly claims that it "tastes more like regular Dr. Pepper". Or at least they used to anyway. Maybe one of the wizards at Dr. Pepper Snapple decided like I did that maybe their diet version doesn't have so much appeal after all. Hence the creation of Dr. Pepper Ten.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Even though Arby's specialty is their roast beef I've always thought their strongest offerings were their chicken items. During high school the Chicken Bacon Swiss was probably my favorite thing on any fast food menu. However, I've noticed in more recent years that Arby's chicken just doesn't seem quite as good as it used to back in the day. I can't put my finger on what it is or why, but the taste and texture is just different. That being said, since I had a coupon for a free fry and drink with purchase of the Smokin Chipotle Chicken Sandwich I figured it was worth a try.
First of all I have to say I'm glad I had the coupon. If I wouldn't have my regular sized combo would have been almost $9. Ouch. The sandwich was the basic Arby's fried chicken patty topped with the usual thickish "chipotle" bbq sauce, a slice of cheddar cheese, pepper bacon, diced jalapenos and lettuce and tomato which I decided to leave off of my sandwich. The first thing I have to say here is wholy S this was hot. I was expecting the usual mildly spicy fast food offering with the jalapenos being sparse and seedless. Not the case here. There were a ton of jalapenos on here and it just blew out any other flavors that were trying to come through. I pride myself on being someone who can take quite a bit of heat, but this was even too much for me. I had to scrape the jalapenos off just so I could taste a little bit of what else was going on. Turns out it wasn't much. The cheese was not even close to being melted which is a pet peeve of mine. The bbq sauce could as well have been BullsEye. I tasted no hint of chipotle whatsoever. The bacon was a least redeeming with it being on the crisp side for fast food bacon. There was also more of it than I expected on my sandwich which was a nice surprise.
Taste 2/10 Damn. I keep hoping for Arby's to recapture the magic of my high school days, but they just keep failing. If I want a chicken sandwich spicy or otherwise I'll go to Hardee's or Chick Fil A if there is one even remotely close by.
Value 0/10 This is where Arby's really sucks. I haven't been happy with the food the last 4 times I've ate there and I practically have to get an Obama bailout to afford it.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
This recipe was inspired by a recent craving I had for chicken salad. Not having any of the ingredients on hand, I ordered one at a local spot and was hit with that familiar "You know, I could totally make this better" feeling. So I did.
Monday, August 22, 2011
To maintain consistency between these BBQ reviews I try to basically get the same thing at each place I go. That being the pulled pork and coleslaw. Those two items just happen to be my two favorites that I could eat almost anytime anywhere so it works out. At GT South's I decided to go with the jumbo pulled pork sandwich with the standard chips on the side and a side of the coleslaw. The Girlfriend, who if she's getting sick of BBQ by now is hiding it well, decided to go with the smoked brisket sandwich and potato salad on the side. We both prefer the sauce served on the sandwich. The Girlfriend went with the sweet sauce and I went with the medium.
Before I talk about how the food/meal was I want to make a little rant here. If you run a Southern BBQ restaurant it should be reasonable to expect that some of your diners might want iced tea to drink with their bbq. As that is usually my preference I decided to order iced tea at GT South's. What I got was tea with ice in, but that alone doesn't make it iced tea. The fact of the matter is that the tea itself was setting at room temperature and wasn't the least bit cold before it was put into my glass. When it was brought to my table the ice had practically already melted and I ended up with a lukewarm watered down glass of something that may have once been tea. You claim Southern food as a specialty and you eff up the quintessential Southern drink? Get bent.
Anyway, on to the food that really wasn't much more impressive than the tea. When my jumbo pulled pork sandwich arrived I noticed that it was undoubtedly a healthy portion, but I was definitely disappointed that I paid a premium for a "jumbo" and got a sandwich that looked basically the same as the regular with the exception of a bigger bun. Lame. The pulled pork itself was some of the driest I've had anywhere. It required I add extra sauce which is something I rarely do. On the bright side I thought the sauce was pretty good and not too sweet. It outshined the meat for sure which really shouldn't happen. The potato chips were straight out of the bag and pretty worthless on the plate. To me it basically is a statement of "here's some cheap crap to fill up space next to the sandwich". When it comes to the coleslaw it was a lot like the bbq in that even when it's bad I still like it somewhat. This coleslaw was definitely not made in house. The pieces were all chopped perfectly into extremely small uniform cubes. There was also a small rotten piece of cabbage in my slaw which was a turn off. I also prefer my coleslaw more creamy and sweet than what this was. The Girlfriend's brisket was tender, but she was disappointed that it made her bun so soggy she couldn't really eat her sandwich by picking it up. The potato salad also tasted store bought and nothing to write home about.
Taste: 3.5/10 Like I said bbq that isn't so good is still ok, but I won't be going back to GT South's anytime soon. That is especially the case when comparing it to other bbq places on the North side. Also, I can't stop thinking about the small piece of rotten cabbage in my slaw even thought it was very minuscule.
Value 4/10 Below average here as well. Not that it was expensive because it wasn't, but it wasn't really any cheaper than other much better bbq restaurants.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Over the years of bringing my lunch to work I've learned that the secret to making Hot Pockets/Lean Pockets is to put them in the microwave for a little less time than what the package actually recommends. As long as your cooking with a badass microwave you should be fine to go a minute and 30 seconds instead of the full two minutes. The product will come out a lot softer and take less time to cool off from being nuclear hot. As usual my prescribed cooking method worked just fine with the breakfast Lean Pocket, but it just turned out to be one of the most bland breakfast items I've ever had. Now I'm not comparing microwaved Lean Pockets to really good breakfasts I've got elsewhere. I'm just comparing to the other Jimmy Dean and Aunt Jemima frozen breakfast sandwiches I've had in the past. The Lean Pockets just don't stack up. There was no sweetness or spiciness to the sausage either of which would have helped. The cheese was the best part. The eggs were like any other frozen sandwich...forgettable. Considering that Lean Pockets does season the bread of some of their other sandwiches they should adopt that here as well.
Taste 2/10 I cannot and will not recommend these whatsoever. Too many other frozen breakfast sandwich choices.
Value 2/10 I didn't buy these, The Girlfriend did, so I don't know how much they cost, but assuming they cost the same as other Lean Pockets they aren't too expensive, but given that they generally suck your money is much better spent on other breakfast items where you will get more sandwiches that taste a lot better.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
It has been a while since our last sweet treat review here at the Random Dude Eats Random Food blog, and since Pillbury's PR firm mailed me 2 of their new flavors of brownie bites I decided it was a good time for a review.
Value 6.5/10 Like I said at the start I did not pay for these, but the MSRP per bag is $3.19. I don't think that is great, but it's definitely comparable to other snacks you can buy in the grocery store and probably a little cheaper than other brand name "premium" desserts.
With a printed online coupon admission to the fair on each Tuesday was only 2 bucks and many of the food vendors were offering $2 food and drink specials. As you well know fair food can be quite expensive and overpriced so the $2 specials provided a really good opportunity to taste some different things. I hope it's a tradition the state fair keeps up in the coming years. I took advantange of this particular offer to purchase the standard combo of corndog and lemon shakeup. Seeing as those are pretty standard offerings I decided to avoid discussion of them here and simply tell you they were delicious. I did want to mention though a couple more items I had never ate at a fair before.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
In this particular episode Bourdain was in Spain with his friend and celebrated chef, Jose Andres. The goal was not just to travel the Spanish countryside however. The goal was to allow Bourdain and Andres to sit down to their final meal at elBulli. The restaurant, considered by many to be the best in the world, serves incredibly interesting, creative and intricate cuisine typically served in 35-55 small courses. During this episode Bourdain puts on the chef whites and steps into the kitchen, and we as viewers get an up close look at just a little bit of the crazy stuff they were doing in the kitchen. It turns out that was just a glimpse into the genius of the restaurant's owner and executive chef, Ferran Adria.
|The kitchen at elBulli. Courtesy of Wikipedia.|
As Bourdain and Andres sit down for dinner at the restaurant with Adria the full measure of his brilliance is on display. Some might call it "molecular gastronomy", but this is much more than just using some liquid nitrogen. This was food that both looked delicious, and not only stepped outside of the box but destroyed it all together. Obviously, I didn't get to taste the food so I can't comment too much in that regard, but I can comment about how fascinating it was to watch Adria comment on his own food and way of thinking. The episode was especially poignant given that the restaurant is now closed. I think the episode provided a good sendoff. If you see a rerun on the Travel Channel I implore you to watch. You'll probably find yourself as engrossed in food you'll never taste and people you'll never meet as I was.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Making a choice of what to order was more than a little difficult. I've heard a lot of good things about the wings at the Ale Emporium and the Hermanaki wings in particular. However, I remembered one of my friends trying their pan pizza a while back and being extremely jealous when it came to the table. Relying on those memories The Girlfriend and I decided to split a 14" pan pizza with sausage and bacon. It would be a mistake to call this a "Chicago style" or "deep dish" as I understand it. That style is generally seen as having the toppings and cheese underneath and the sauce (a lot of it) on top. That's not the case here. This is very thick Midwest style pan pizza. The toppings were plentiful and the amount of cheese was insane in a totally fantastic way. I'm telling you there were so much cheese here someone who was lactose intolerant would have a hard time even looking at it. The sausage tasted fresh, and the bacon definitely brought a nice smoky flavor although it wasn't terribly crisp. The sauce was there, but it almost seemed like an afterthought compared to the mozzarella. Maybe this style of pizza wouldn't be everybody's preference, but I absolutely freakin loved it. Bars usually come nowhere close to putting out something like that. It's to be commended in a big way. One last note: The 14" pan pizza here is enormous. It would easily serve 4 or 5 people. I was thinking more Pizza King 14" when I ordered this I guess. We had leftover pizza for days.
Taste: 9/10 If the bacon was a little crispier and with a little more sauce this would be a 10
Value: 7/10 This is not a cheap pizza. This is pizza with substance, and you can expect the price to match that accordingly. On the bright side it will feed several people.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a good new bbq place on 96th called Benders. I loved the food, but lamented that it was too small for anything but carryout. As I went there today for lunch I found out that was changing. I was disappointed I couldn't get bbq today, but I was glad to see they were in the process of moving the restaurant a couple doors down into a bigger more prominent space. The ability to have dine in customers and be visible from the road has to be a plus. They reopen tomorrow, and I'm hoping to get a sandwich and a peak at the new digs.
Monday, August 1, 2011
I'm not someone who is really into sweets, candy and chocolate specifically, but I did take a break from savory reviews a while back to give my thoughts on the new Hershey's Air Delights bar. That got me thinking about what candy bars I do really enjoy from time to time, allbeit seldomly. It fluctuates, but for a while my favorite has been the regular Twix bar. I love the chocolate, caramel and cookie combo. In second place is probably the regular Hershey bar. Simple and delicious. I also wish they would bring back Butterfinger BBs. Great Butterfinger taste without getting stuck in your teeth. Let me know what your favorites are or if there are any defunct candies they should bring back.