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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Product Review: Dr. Pepper Ten

Pretty much since the very invention of diet soda beverage companies have been trying everything they can possibly frickin think of to make that very thing they invented taste more like the stuff they were already selling.  Frankly, I don't get it.  When I drink pop I prefer diet.  Not really so much for it's "diet" properties, but I like it simply because I prefer the less sweet taste that accompanies it.  Call me crazy, but it's what my parents drank when I was growing up and it's what I'm used to.  However, typically for me this usually just applies to Coke vs Diet Coke.  Diet Coke has it's own distinct flavor and isn't trying to be something it isn't.  Unfortunately, the same can't really be said for other "diet" beverages like Coke Zero, Diet Mt Dew and Diet Dr. Pepper. 

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. 

Dr. Pepper Ten was so new that when I bought it at the gas station it wasn't even entered as a product into the cash register yet, but the premise behind the drink is an old one.  People like regular Dr. Pepper.  People are trying to cut calories.  People don't like Diet Dr. Pepper.  Compromise and give them a Dr. Pepper with some but not zero calories.  In this case the caloric count is 10 per serving or 20 per bottle.  I had my hopes up for something a little less cloyingly sweet than regular, but a little less unappealing aftertaste than diet.  After drinking the whole bottle I honestly have to say the results are a little inconclusive.  I will say definitively that it really doesn't taste like regular Dr. Pepper, but more importantly I couldn't really discern what makes it different than the diet version already on the market.  It tasted no sweeter and hand no different or stronger flavors.  A swing and a miss here.  Chalk it up as just another marketing ploy to sell more of what is basically their already existing Diet Dr. Pepper formula.  Try it out yourself and let me know if you agree or disagree.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Weekend Food Preview

I haven't done one of these posts in a while, but I thought it was time.  This week has been really long and kind of rough honestly.  I need some good eats this weekend to make up for it.  Not to give too much away, but I was definitely thinking of having at least one more meal on the Random Dude Eats Random Food Summer of BBQ Love Tour.  If you have any non BBQ suggestions please let me know, specifically on the NW side of town.  The Girlfriend got a new job over there, and I planned on showing her the best/quickest way for her to get to work so she doesn't have to go by the GPS' crappy routes.  Also, are there any new grocery products or fast food items on the market that would be worth trying?  Also, let me know if you go or plan to go to anyplace cool this weekend.  Happy eatings!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fast Food Review: Arby's Smokin Chipotle Chicken Sandwich

Writing reviews of new or even "new" fast food items is really something I enjoy even if I don't always enjoy the food.  I think it has something to do with possibly finding a new all-time favorite like the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, but when it comes to new menu items as of late I haven't really been so lucky.  The Beefy Melt Burrito and the last Arby's 3 Cheese Bacon Angus offerings were both big strikeouts.  Going into this review I was seriously hoping Arby's could redeem themselves with this latest offering.

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

Guest Blog: Homemade Chicken Salad Courtesy of The Daily Claire

If you've never checked out any of the links on my blogroll before one I encourage you to check out is a fun lifestyleish blog of a friend and co-worker of mine, The Daily Claire.  I'm not a big recipe or cook at home guy and since some of you are undoubtedly into that I decided to let Claire have a little showcase here for her chicken salad recipe.  It actually seems simple enough that I might try it out myself.  Enjoy.

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.

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad 

4 Cups Cooked Chicken-Cubed
1/2 cup Sour Cream ( I used light)
1/2 cup Mayo (I used light w/Olive Oil)
4 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon juice
A couple good shakes of garlic powder
A couple good shakes of paprika
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Cup Finely Chopped Celery
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Red Onion
1 Cup Toasted Pecans, Chopped
1 1/2 Cups Crasins (sweetened dried cranberries)
Mix together sour cream, mayo, mustard, lemon juice, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.  Stir in remaining ingredients and you're done.  Enjoy it on a wrap, in a sandwich or with a fork.  
Editors Note:  Claire informed me to get maximum flavor out of this recipe it's probably best enjoyed the day after preparation to let the flavors meld and intensify a bit.

Monday, August 22, 2011

BBQ Review: GT South's Rib House

Oh hell yeah!  The Random Dude Eats Random Food Summer of Love for BBQ Tour 2011 marches on, and this time the tour is marching into GT South's on 71st St. just West of Binford Blvd.  As we leave dozens of sauce crazy groupies who just love the pork in our wake we have come to GT South's to find out if our experience is going to be The Boss at the Garden in '87 or  a Loverboy coverband in 2011at the local AmVet (shudders).

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.

G.T. South's Rib House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Product Review: Lean Pockets Sausage Egg & Cheese

I know some of you probably saw Lean Pockets in the title and rolled your eyes immediately.  Personally, I'm a fan of some of the lines that are being put out under the Lean Pockets brand these days.  Maybe I'll do product reviews on them in the future, but trust me the Lean Pockets Chicken Bacon Dijon and Pepperoni Pizza with the new crust are not to be missed.  However, today was the first time I tried the breakfast version of either Hot Pockets or Lean Pockets and the results weren't quite so positive.

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

Sweet Treat/Product Review: Pillsbury Sweet Moments Bite-size Brownies

Full Disclosure:  This product was provided to me free of charge.

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. 

The enclosed promotional materials state the following: "Pillsbury Sweet Moments are small bites of decadent pleasure made just for you.  Each ready-to-eat brownie bite is layered with a luxurious filling, enrobed in a cocoa-kissed shell and finished off with a delicate cocoa drizzle.  Found in the refrigerated section, Pillsbury Sweet Moments are best served cool to accentuate each decadent layer and to magnify each distinct texture for the ultimate indulgent bite."  Damn I haven't heard that much overselling since the last time I saw fat Mike Golic hawking NutriSystem.  Anyway, the two new flavors I tried are the Caramel Brownie Cheesecake and Raspberry Brownie Cheesecake.  Being that cheesecake and brownies are two of my favorite desserts I feel like I would be a good judge here.  Let's get to my findings.


When the brownie bites were shipped to me they were included with a cold pack, but being that they had been sitting in the box for quite a while they really weren't very cold when I opened them.  Since they are supposed to be cold to get the full experience according to Pillsbury I decided to refrigerate them for a bit before I tried them out.  My favorite of the two was the Raspberry Cheesecake Brownie.  The raspberry flavor was really assertive and you could pick it out over the chocolate brownie.  In the case of the Caramel Brownie Cheesecake I could taste only the brownie.  If I wouldn't have seen the cheesecake layer and caramel with my own eyes I'm not sure I would have believed they were even there.  Truthfully I had a hard time picking out cheesecake flavor in both cases.  Cheesecake is one of my favorite things so I was undoubtedly a little disappointed it added little else than a nice texture contrast.  The chocolate coating on the outside was quite good and held up nicely without melting too quickly.  I also thought they bites were a nice size.  They are actually big enough to eat in 2 bites if you wish.  There were also more bites in each package than I expected. 

Taste 6.5/10  These taste good and are a good snack, but they really mostly just taste like a brownie or a brownie with a raspberry filling with the cheesecake there in name only.  Nothing revolutionary flavor-wise at all, but little popable brownies could get addictive.
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.

My Adventures At The Indiana State Fair

Every August in Indiana brings a Summer tradition with it.  A tradition full of somewhat dangerous looking carnival rides, crooked games and deep fried everything.  Yes I'm talking about a trip to the Indiana State Fair.  With my being sick recently (sorry for the lack of blogging) and with The Girlfriend's work schedule I wasn't sure I would be able to make it to the fair this year, but on Tuesday the fair's $2 promotion was too good to pass up.

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.

I was looking for a substantial dinner item, and when I saw the man infront of me purchase a cheesesteak I knew I had to have one.  As you can see from the picture it looks damn appetizing.  However, I should definitely be more careful in making sure my eyes do not deceive me because it honestly was probably one of the worst cheesesteaks I've ever had along with being one of the most expensive.  The meat was dry and flavorless.  The mushrooms looked good, but they added nothing.  The cheese sauce was watery and messy, and truthfull the bread was soft but still wasn't that good.  What a disappointing choice.  The fact that it cost 7 bucks stung a little bit more.  That was 7 dollars I could have used for something else that was significantly more interesting and tasty.  However, with any good culinary journey there are peaks after every valley most often when you least expect them.

Yes, it is quite a fair cliche to deep fry anything and everything.  Most of these sound pretty gimmicky.  Take a sweet childhood favorite, batter it and toss it in the fryer.  I've been disappointed when I've tried stuff like that in the past, but let me tell you something folks the deep fried Twinkie is the real deal.  It still had that classic Twinkie taste, but it was also warm and the cream inside had melted and it just brought it to a new level.  The powdered sugar on top was a perfect compliment.  I could eat my weight in these freakin things except that it would ultimately cause my weight to expand which would only result in eating more fried Twinkies until I exploded.  If you're going to the fair, and you want to indulge yourself try this one out.  FYI just remove the stick.  It's completely unecessary.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Reservations Hits A Homerun With elBulli Episode

The other day as I was flipping around channels on my TV I decided to stop for a second on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel.  It's hard to explain how I feel about this show.  I really like Anthony Bourdain as his blending of both the eloquent and profane is something of pure majesty.  I really like shows about travel/food.  I really like the concept of a show that promotes enjoying street food as well as more fine dining offerings.  However, even though No Reservations is about all of those things every episode doesn't necessarily click for me.  Some episodes I just find endlessly boring.  That was not the case with the episode I watched the other night.

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

Ale Emporium Revisit Review

The last time I wrote about the Ale Emporium on this blog I  was forced to take one of my favorite bar/eateries to task for a pulled pork sandwich that was an embarrassment to everything that real BBQ is about.  As we were looking for a place to have some food and drink one night I thought it would be a good idea to give the food at the Ale Emporium another chance.  I determined that this time I would order something more in their wheelhouse.  I was not disappointed.

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.

Ale Emporium on Urbanspoon

Fast Food Review: Chick Fil A Spicy Chicken Sandwich

The Spicy Chicken Sandwich really isn't that new of a menu item, but I had been really in the mood for a Chick Fil A chicken sandwich as of late but I wanted to try something just a little bit different.  I thought it might be good to write about it here incase any of you have been thinking about stepping outside the box a little bit too, or maybe just want to dip your toe into spicy food waters.

The sandwich was exactly what I expected given my past experiences at Chick Fil A.  It was delicious.  Chick Fil A can be kind of a quirky place, but damn they have the breaded chicken sandwich down to a science.  The piece of meat that I got tasted fresh, juicy and not overly breaded.  Just about perfect.  I was worried at first that the addition of the spicy element might just be too much.  I didn't want it to throw my awesome sandwich out of balance.  Luckily, it actually added another great element in my opinion.  The spicy flavors were subtle enough as to not overpower a great sandwich.  It was that kind of heat that is just a little extra on the back end (Sir Mix-a-lot style?).  If you're not a huge fan of spicy food this is one I suggest you give a try if you want to be a little adventurous.  You might be pleasantly surprised.  I know it's going to be my go-to choice from now on when I pay a visit to Chick Fil A.

Taste 10/10  If I'm comparing it to other fast food and their chicken sandwiches specifically none can hold a candle what Chick Fil A is putting out.

Value 7/10  Combo prices are more or less in line with other fast food offerings.  With the quality is being good here they deserve a better than average score.

P.S.  I've ranted on this blog about places not giving you enough sauces before, but look at how Chick Fil A hooked me up.  Note:  I did not ask for extra sauces or have any extra food orders I didn't mention.  They just gave me a handful of what I asked for like places should.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bender's BBQ Pit Location Update

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

Favorite Candy At The Moment

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.