Friday, March 10, 2017

Big Mac - The Sandwich with a Song

The Sandwich with a Song

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug - 5 stars
Chest bump - 4 stars
First bump - 3 stars
High five - 2 stars
Handshake - 1 star
Manly ass slap - 1/2 star
Fone and fone - 0 stars

Restaurant: McDonald’s
Location: 1420 Hampton

About a month ago McDonald’s came out and said they were giving away 10,000 bottles of Special Sauce at participating McDonald’s. And as a man with a healthy appetite and an even healthier love of Big Mac’s, I wanted one. So I downloaded their ridiculously pointless messaging app, found out where in St. Louis they were giving away the bottles, and then decided that it was too much effort to get in my car and go get one. Yes, I’m that lazy.

Now, the reason they were giving away the limited-edition bottles was because they were launching two new versions of the Big Mac - the Mac Jr. and the Grand Mac. And along with these new sandwiches came a campaign that declared “There’s a Big Mac for that.” And I decided to find out whether or not that was true.

To make sure everything was on the up-and-up, I create some rules to this journey and then followed said rules. First, I wanted to eat each of the Big Mac sandwiches, starting with the original to help level-set before trying the other two. I didn’t want to eat all of the sandwiches in one sitting, or even on the same day, because I have enough bowel issues in my life. But I wanted my experience with each to be as similar as possible, so I made sure to get each burger from the same McDonald’s at the same time each day. And I would do this for 3 consecutive days eating one version of The Mac each day. This scientific method was incredibly sound, and the only mistake I made was the McDonald’s that I chose. It’s the one on Hampton in St. Louis, between highways 40 and 44. And it is awful. And I mean truly fucking awful. Do you know what’s the only thing worse than eating at an awful McDonald’s? Doing it three days in a row.

As you’ll quickly learn I’ve had my fair share of Big Mac’s over the years, so I know what their potential is when they are prepared perfectly. And I know what their basement is when they’re slapped together without a care in the world. That’s why it was important for me to start with the classic and then eat the other two at the same McDonald’s each day. Because let’s say their Big Mac is a 6 out of 10. Well, I know that a Big Mac is usually a 12 out of 10, so by starting with the classic I’m able to calibrate all of my reviews accordingly. It’s like starting with some easy questions and then some over-the-top questions with a lie-detector test. By doing that you’re able to set the baseline. Like I said, I was super scientific with this shit.

DAY 1 - The Big Mac

Price: $5.50 for the Big Mac + Large Drink
Calories: 540
Fat: 28g
Protein: 25g
Glutens: GTFOH

When i was a kid I was a pretty picky eater. In fact, there were very few things I would eat. Cereal, hot dogs with only ketchup, cheese pizza, pickles, cookies, burgers, fries, and peanut butter and jelly. And that was pretty much it. Of course there were variations that I’d venture into, like having a bagel dog instead of a hot dog. But otherwise I didn’t veer off the path very much. And when I say “when I was a kid” I mean all the way until I got to college.

Now, while I was a picky eater there was one unexpected thing I would actually eat (and am pretty sure I’m the only person who has ever eaten it) - braunschweiger and Miracle Whip (not mayo) with pickles on a Chicago-style french roll. The point is, I would never, ever try anything new.

I remember one time when my mom tried to make me eat pizza with mushrooms on it and I had a panic attack and just started crying uncontrollably. Which didn’t stop my mom, of course. She made me take a bite anyway. And then I threw up. Another time she brought home a Big Mac to make me try it and once again I started crying. This time she knew better than to try and make me take a bite. Keep in mind that I think I was 16 when she brought home that Big Mac. Needless to say I didn’t date much in high school.

So it wasn’t until college when I actually tried a Big Mac, and I did it then only because the McDonald’s on campus at Mizzou had a Tuesday special where you could get 10 cheeseburgers for $10 or 2 Big Macs for $3. And not one to ever pass up a deal, I decided to finally try a Big Mac. And I fell in love immediately. It was just the best fucking sandwich I’d ever eaten. When you got it hot and the cheese was melting and the ingredients were perfectly balanced and the Special Sauce was oozing out of the sides, it was life-changing. Tuesday became my favorite day of the week. Again, I didn’t date much. You should also know that every Tuesday I would get 2 Big Macs and 10 cheeseburgers and would eat all of it in a sitting. I miss the days of having the metabolism of a 19 year old. As I grew up and matured I cut back on the cheeseburgers and would just get two large #1 Value Meals and a side of two cheeseburgers (for those not familiar with math, that’s 2 Big Macs, 2 large fries, 2 large sodas, and 2 cheeseburgers. And to be clear, there was one more #2 involved after eating all of that.).

But back to the Big Mac on this day. A Big Mac gives me comfort. Sure, it gives me joy and happiness and a full belly, but what I love most about it is the comfort it gives me. Because the Big Mac hasn’t changed since it was invented. How many other sandwiches out there have their very own song? (Spoiler alert: none that are worth a shit). So in this day and age where everything changes so quickly, technology advances daily, kids are growing up and are taking over my life, and our government is a disaster (IMO), sinking my teeth into a Big Mac can take me back to a simpler time, even if only for a minute.

But the Big Mac from the McDonald’s at 1420 Hampton Avenue didn’t exactly take me back. Because it was quite possibly the worst Big Mac I’ve ever had. Ever. That being said, it was still a Big Mac, which means it still had the Special Sauce, which means it still tasted pretty good, because the Special Sauce can pretty much make up for anything. You know that scene in The Sandlot when Smalls comes out and plays with them the first time and he is quite literally the worst baseball player ever? Well, that was this Big Mac. But then remember how Benny then sent him out to center and Benny hit a high pop-up that landed directly into Smalls’ glove, making up for just how bad the kid was and instantly turning a horrible baseball player into a legit 1-tool player? That’s Special Sauce. That’s what it’s capable of. It’s the “The Jet” of the condiment world.

Did this Big Mac have too much bun and not enough burger? Yes. Was the bun of this Big Mac stale and crispy in the worst possible ways maybe the worst hamburger bun I’ve ever eaten? No, but it was definitely in the top 5. Was the “100% all beef” patty hot? No. Was it warm? Not really. Was it so room temperature that the cheese never even melted? Yes. And really that’s all you need to know about a Big Mac. Take a look at the cheese as you open up that glorious cardboard box. If the cheese is still a perfect square sticking out of the sides and hasn’t softened at all, then prepare yourself for one gigantic turd burger.

Quick tangent: I know that this is McDonald’s, and that McDonald’s has been doing their shit the same way since a million years ago, but their patties are embarrassing. It’s like a thin piece of rubber that happens to be colored the same way my son’s undies are when he has the flu. Sometimes I forget about just how bad they are. Thank god this terrible McDonald’s was able to remind me. Needless to say, this three day exploration wasn’t off to the best start.

DAY 2 - The Mac Jr.

Price: $6 for two Mac Jr’s + Large Drink
Calories: 460 per sandwich (so 920 total)
Fat: 27g (54g total)
Protein: 21g (42g total - got totally ripped after eating this)
Glutens: Eat a D

Fuck this sandwich.

That should be my entire review. Years ago I worked for one of McDonald’s ad agencies. This was during the time when sliders were first becoming a thing, and the team pitched the idea of Big Mac sliders. You’d get two of them in a box, or maybe 3 depending how you made them and the size of the box. Anyway, they would have been great. The whole idea is it would have been exactly like a Big Mac, except a third in diameter. Or circumference. Or both. I’m not sure how the math works out. Either way, you’d open up the box and just see these tiny, adorable Big Macs, except they’d be called Mini Macs. But it was rejected because they said it would ruin the equity of the Big Mac or some shit. Make it feel less special. Then years go by and they decide to give it a shot and make a couple different sizes of the Big Mac and instead of adorable Mini Mac sliders we get this piece of shit called Mac Jr.

This thing was basically a cheeseburger with Big Mac toppings, and that’s me being kind. There was waaaaaay too much lettuce, not enough onions, not enough Special Sauce, and the sesame seed count was way off (just kidding). The point is, the proportions weren’t right and there’s only one patty. Honestly, it’s nothing like a Big Mac, which defeats the purpose. And one Jr. isn’t that filing, so then I had to eat the second one just to satisfy my appetite. Eating the second one was like the hate fuck of burgers. On the plus side the bun wasn’t stale. So there’s that.

DAY 3 - The Grand Mac

Price: $6.50 for the Grand Mac + Large Drink
Calories: 860
Fat: 52g (giant emoji eyes go here)
Protein: 41g
Glutens: I’m not sure, my heart literally exploded

As Jim Gordon famously said, “This is the Big Mac Gotham deserves.” Or something like that.

This was the perfect finish to my three day Mac-fest. The Grand Mac is made with 1/3 lb patties, which for McDonald’s doesn’t mean the patty is really any thicker, it just means it’s bigger around (let’s not get into the diameter/circumference discussion now, because I already opened up wikipedia and gave up). It really opened up my eyes to just how bad McDonald’s burger patties are. Other chains have figured out a way to make their burgers a little thicker or a little juicer, or both, but McD’s has someone gone backwards with theirs. They’re worse than ever.

But the burger did live up to the name. The moment you open the box you can definitely tell the difference in size from a regular Big Mac. It’s not, “Holy shit, how am I going to eat all of that” big, but more, “Damn, that’s definitely a Grand Mac” big. If you ask me, the Grand Mac should become the new standard size of the Big Mac. All the ingredients were proportioned out correctly, and with it’s size what you really get is more burger, more bun, and more Special Sauce. Which are the three heroes of the Big Mac. They don’t try and add on a bunch of extra lettuce or onions or pickles to get in the way. After eating the lettuce-laden Mac Jr. I was worried they’d find a way to screw up the Grand Mac as well, but I’m happy to report they didn’t.

f I have one complaint it’s that there was actually a little too much bun. By the time I got to the end of the burger portion of the meal I still had about an 1/8th or so of the bun left over, which is too much. To me it seems like the best solution would be to use 1/2 lb patties instead to compensate for the size of the bun. The Granddaddy Mac.

But you know what the Grand Mac did have? Cheese that was melted. It’s really all I want from my cheese on a burger. And it took three days for me to get it.

So if you’re keeping score at home, my rankings go like this:

Grand Mac (at this terrible McDonald’s): Chest bump - which likely equates to a half handshake, half chest-bump hug, with a manly ass slap for good measure, at a good McDonald’s.

Big Mac (at this terrible McDonald’s): First bump with a manly ass slap, which probably equates to a chest bump and manly ass slap good McDonald’s.

Mac Jr. (at this terrible McDonald’s): Fone and Fone, and as far as I’m concerned, there’s no saving this god forsaken burger.

But wait, there’s more!

DAY 4 - The Big (Delicious) Mac

Price: No idea, but I’m sure I could break out the cost detail from the grocery shopping if I wasn’t so lazy.
Calories: My best estimation based on the lean meat, mayo I chose, and buns we used (warning: I didn’t use sesame seed buns) is 655 calories.
Fat: Don’t care
Protein: Ditto
Glutens: This joke that I thought was funny got old two sandwiches ago

This all started with a discussion I was having with my friend Steve at the airport in Austin. We were waxing poetic on our love of the Big Mac, but neither of us had tried the two new sizes. So I promised him I would and then write all about it.

But, what he also revealed to me is that he had recently made his own Big Mac, since the ingredients and prep work is easily found online these days. So after having 3 straight days of Big Macs I decided that one more day was needed.

For the Special Sauce recipe, I used a tutorial from one of McDonald’s head chefs (which you can find using something called Google and/or Youtube). Now, while he shares with you the ingredients, he doesn’t specify proportions, so you have to guess a little bit. I was really happy how mine turned out, but I admittedly had too much mustard in the mix. What I did learn is that making a Big Mac at home is really easy, and really worth it.

Mine turned out great (duh), and because I made the patties normal burger size and not McDonald’s plastic puck size, the Big (Delicious) Mac was extra juicy and extra filling. And for my wife I actually ended up making her a Mac Jr, since she didn’t want to deal with the massive stack of double patties and the extra bun in the middle. And it was perfect. Even better than mine. Just the exact right balance of all the ingredients, and you didn’t have to deal with trying to eat a massive Big (Delicious) Mac before it fell apart in your hands.

So there you have it. 4 days. 5 total Big Macs. 2,975 calories. 134+ grams of fat. One overworked toilet. And one extremely happy man.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Restaurant: Massa’s
Location: 4120 N. Lindbergh

Since moving back down to the Lou I’ve been asked one question over and over and over and over again. And that question has always been asked by the same person - Neuman. And that question? “Have you been to Massa’s yet?”

That’s right, Massa’s (Of Course!). See, Neuman loves Massa’s. And I mean loves. It’s his favorite place to eat in the greater St. Louis area, and he’s from here, so his opinion is sorta relevant. And as a loyal BTF follower, he’s insisted that I check it out. But, in order to be able to give it a fair and balanced opinion I wanted to make sure I went to the Massa’s that he knows and loves (the dump by the airport). As you might recall from Operation: Heart Attack I’ve actually tried to go to Massa’s once for lunch, but they’re only open for dinner, and I could never see any conceivable way that I’d be anywhere near the airport for dinner. Ever.

Well, that all changed last week. Neuman was in town for work, and he wanted to grab dinner. Guess where he wanted to go?

So I was finally able to satisfy his yearlong (and then some) wish.

Driving there again, this time in the cover of night, I was even more surprised by just what a pile of turds this place is on the outside. Located on Lindberg just off St. Chuck Rock Road, Massa’s looks more like a Rub ‘n’ Tug. Or a restaurant that was once called Massa’s but has since been condemned. But on the inside, it couldn’t be more of pleasant surprise. Not because it’s nice or fancy, but because it seems like the kind of shady lounge that hasn’t changed in 30 years, and I like those types of places. It looked like something out of Carlito’s Way. And I mean that as a compliment. I think.

Speaking of Carlito’s Way, Tony joined us for dinner, so the three of us (after I was 20 minutes late) bellied up to the table in the corner, giving us perfect sightlines to enjoy the other (how shall I put it nicely) characters who were also having dinner that night.

We started the meal off right with a round of Michelob Lights, which seem hard to find these days. After that we couldn’t resist the Artichoke & Spinach Bake. In fact, Tony and I have never been able to resist any form of Spinach and Artichoke dip. I honestly can’t remember the last time we went to a place together that had it and didn’t order it. In fact, I don’t think it’s ever happened. So why break tradition now? Especially since I’ve never met a cheese dip I didn’t like.

Until now. I did not like the Artichoke & Spinach Bake. I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of it. In fact, I almost ordered a second one. It was that good. Just the perfect balance of cheese and garlic and plants and bakedness. If I had a complaint it’s that it’s served with crostini, and I prefer fried things, like chips, to dip into a dip. But again, I’m looking for something to complain about, as this thing was pretty much perfect. As my buddy Geoff would say, “The Artichoke & Spinach Bake don’t lie.”

Next, we got a large Italian Salad (greens, artichoke hearts, red onions, red pepper) with some salami added in, and had it tossed in the House dressing (Italian Style Ranch Dressing). Really enjoyed it. There was a little too much artichoke, and not enough salami (which was delicious), but otherwise it was thoroughly enjoyable. If you’re looking for something to hold you over between your appetizer and dinner, this isn’t a bad way to go.

But the big story here is the pizza. Is it better than anything else on the entrée menu? I have no idea. I didn’t try anything else on the entree menu. Neuman insisted on pizza, so we got pizza. Again, I’ve been hearing about this pizza for a year and a half. According to Neuman it’s not just the best pizza in town, it’s the best meal in town (then again, in this town that’s not saying much). Well, I was about to find out if that was really true.

We decided to get two pizzas, so we could try a couple different things. The first one was, of course, Bill’s Special. Why do I say “of course” (and why am I asking so many questions?)? Because Neuman hasn’t shut up about the Bill’s Special for over a year. For example, here’s just one part of an email from him. Keep in mind this was just kind of thrown in at the end of the email, almost like a P.S.:

“Don't forget about my pizza/salad recommendation at Massa's (Italian salad with House dressing and the Bill's Special Pizza).”

And believe me, I would get something like that every couple of weeks when I first moved down here, and then at least once a month until this moment. (Quick tangent: I thought the emails would stop, but instead I’ve gotten a couple “why haven’t you Tweeted/reviewed Massa’s yet?”)

Bill’s Special (definitely the better of the two pizzas we ordered) has hamburger, pepperoni, onion, and black olives. For our second pizza we decided to go with Jack’s Special, which was Italian sausage, mushroom, green pepper, and onions. And as we were finalizing the order with the waitress, Neuman asked, “Should we get one of them with mozzarella?” Oh crap. “I know how you hate St. Louis style pizza.” Son of a bitch. “Yes? No?” Goddamnit.

“You’ve been talking about this pizza forever,” I finally responded, “so I want to enjoy it as you most enjoy it.” And with that, I willingly agreed to eat a St. Louis style pizza. And guess what? It still sucks.

And it’s no longer an opinion, it’s a fact. And here’s why. Everything about Massa’s pizza was really, really, really good. The ingredients were plentiful and tasted fresh (or as fresh as ingredients can taste after they’ve been cooked at 300+ degrees), it had almost the perfect amount of sauce (could have used a dab more, but I’m just being picky), and it had the perfect crust. And I mean perfect for a thin crust pizza (because we all know a big chewy dough is where it’s at). It was so incredibly crisp, but not in anyway burnt, that I was half tempted to ask for a tour of the kitchen to watch how the cooking is done. I was truly amazed. Not soggy. Not burnt. With every bite just the perfect amount of crunch.

Yet all that was wasted because of the Provel. Provel on pizza isn’t good. It never was good. It never will be good. People from St. Louis claim they like it because it’s a St. Louis thing, not because they actually like it. And I’m OK with that. I think you should support anything “St. Louis style” or anything unique to St. Louis if you’re from here. It’s like rooting for local sports teams. It’s what you should do. I’m a Cubs fan even though they’ve embarrassed me for 32 years (and the city for more than 100). Do I secretly know they suck? Yes. But I’ll argue to the death about how they are actually good. And that’s how St. Louis people are about their pizza. They argue to the death that it’s good, but deep down they know it’s a joke.

So, I will go back to Massa’s (Of, Course!). I enjoyed the atmosphere, the service, and the Artichoke & Spinach Bake. And next time I hope to enjoy the pizza, assuming they’ve got plenty of mozzarella on hand.

Fist bump with a manly ass slap (with the potential to be a chest bump with a manly ass slap on my next mozzarella-filled visit).

Monday, June 15, 2009

The New Born to Fork is Up and Running

I finally got the new and (maybe) improved Born to Fork up and running. You can check it out by clicking here.

And let me remind you that this will likely be the last post on this blog for a while.

I might try to update it every now and then, but don't hold your breath. Unless you hate breathing. Then go ahead and hold it.

Thanks again for your support (both of you) and taking the time to read the ridiculousness that I've posted over the years. It's much appreciated.

Friday, June 12, 2009

St. Louis Is A Joke

Well, I've decided to create a new blog. You can check it out here

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Times, They Are a Changin'

So, here's what's going down at BTF. I'm taking the restaurant review thing to Twitter. If you haven't heard of Twitter, please take a deep breath and remind yourself that it's 2009. I fought Twitter for a long time, but now it makes sense. Here's why: I'm going to revamp BTF a little bit, and my goal is to write a book and post it on the site, posting one chapter at a time (ideally once a week, but let's be honest, it'll probably be once every other week most of the time). Now, because of my busy and awesome life, I know the book will not "flow" perfectly, have a ton of editing errors, and things that I'll look back on in a couple months and say, "I want to change every word", but that's life. I enjoy writing, and this is about putting words to paper (or virtual paper, I guess).

BUT, I don't want to totally abandon giving people updates on what I'm eating, how much of it I'm eating, and if I enjoyed it. So Twitter seems to make the most sense. I can give you quick, frequent updates, mostly from my phone. I'd like to think of it as the best of both worlds. We'll see if you feel the same way.

So from this moment forward you can follow Born To Fork the restaurant reviews at

And you can check back at (or here, I guess) in a couple weeks for Chapter 1 of the BTF book.

I just want to thank you both again for your continued support.

The Big Delicious

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Operation: Heat Attack

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Well, as I said last time (which is like a month ago now), my cholesterol is through the roof. My wife is concerned, and insisted that I go on a diet to try and lower it. I had no choice. I had to agree. But, before I did, I went on one last binge to see if I could induce a heart attack as a way of getting out of the diet.

Restaurant: CHUCK A BURGER
Location: 9025 St. Charles Rock Road

Operation: Heart Attack started at Chuck A Burger. Never heard of it? Neither had I, until I ate there one fateful Friday. Since moving to this godforsaken city my buddy Neuman has been insisting that I go to Massas and to get the Bills’ Special pizza and the Italian salad with house dressing. He claims it’s his favorite pizza in the city, and one of his favorite places to eat in general. The problem is that the location isn’t exactly convenient, located right off of Lindberg near the airport. It isn’t very often I make my way up that direction. But on this day I finally decided to head there for lunch. And guess what, they’re not open for lunch (and by the looks of the place, I’m not sure how they’re open, period.). Great. You’re now dead to me Massas. Sorry Neuman, but I will never make a trip up there for dinner, so I, and the rest of the world, will just have to take your word for it.

The real problem here is that I dragged Jeff and Kelly along with me, so now not only was I missing out on lunch, but they were too. So we had to find an alternative between Massas and the office. I started driving down St. Charles Rock Road and was looking for a little place called Taqueria el Jalapeno. I had read some good things about it awhile back and figured this would be a good time to check it out. I finally saw it on my left, and was getting ready to turn in, but Jeff and Kelly were less than thrilled about the idea, so we kept going. And just down the road, there it was, Chuck A Burger. Jeff vouched for it and said he hadn’t been in years. And it looked like an old-school drive in, total dive, nothing-sanitary-about-it burger place. So of course I had to check it out.

There are apparently two locations (the one we went to, and one out in St. Charles), and back in the day there were like eight scattered around town. When you pull in you have the choice of the drive-in lanes, where you can park the car and get serviced right there in the parking lot (and before you get excited about getting “serviced” in the parking lot, let me be clear, the servers aren’t remotely attractive. At least not on that day.), or you can park your car and head into the diner, which is what we did.

The place feels like it hasn’t changed since the 50’s, it’s decorated in classic 50’s and 60’s imagery, and even has a photo of the St. Louis Hawks (yep, that’s right, there used to be an NBA team in St. Louis, and in their 13 seasons here they won more titles than the Blues have won in their 40+ seasons here, which, for some reason, makes me smile). This was my kind of place. Knowing that I was on a mission to attempt to induce death, I tried to get the unhealthiest things on the menu. For starters, I got the cheese cubes (which are just fried cheddar cheese), and Jeff and I shared the Frito Pie (Fritos, cheese, chili, and jalapeños). Both were delicious, but I’d have to give the edge to the cheese cubes. Fried perfectly, and that perfect kind of sharp cheddar that’s got a little bit of bite to it, but not overpowering.

For my entrée I went with the Double Hollywood Chuck. It’s two burger patties, cheese, other toppings, and Thousand Island dressing. I didn’t know what to expect from the burgers. For some reason I was expecting thick and juicy, but they’re pretty similar to a Carl’s burger or Steak-N-Shake burger. But here’s the thing – this was way better than Carl’s. And I like Carl’s. These burger patties had a spice and flavor to them that Carl’s lacks. Every single bite was fantastic. In fact, I’d argue that the Thousand Island actually hurt the burger, because it took away from the flavor of the meat. Every bite made me more and more embarrassed that I’d never heard of Chuck A Burger before. Hell, I’ve lived in St. Louis twice now, and this is the first time I’d heard of it, let alone been to it. People go on and on about Carl’s, but I think it’s because they don’t know about Chuck. But after reading this, they will. Well, at least four or five more people will. Baby steps, baby steps.

As a side I got the Cajun Cheese Fries, and they were as good as they sound (assuming they sound good to you). And too wash it all down I got a Cherry Coke from the fountain. Diet, of course.

Chuck A Burger was the perfect start to Operation: Heart Attack. And the perfect start to a one-hour bowel movement I had later that day. Half handshake, half chest-bump hug.

Restaurant: Fortel’s Pizza Den
Location: 7932 Mackenzie Road

When we lived in South City back in the day pizza was a Sunday staple for us. And we’d either order Papa John’s (mostly for the breadsticks) or Fortel’s. Since moving back we hadn’t been, but Operation: Heart Attack seemed like the right time to make a triumphant return.

I ordered a large pepperoni and pepperoncini pizza, garlic breadsticks, and a small side salad (mostly to taste the “famous” house salad, and so my wife could pretend she was being healthy).

The breadsticks were better than I remember, and maybe that’s because we never ordered them before. I forget what we used to get from here, but you’d think I’d remember these things. Perfectly hot and soft and garlicky and buttery all at once. My only complaint is that an order only comes with three, which left me with only two, and my wife with one. I could have used two more for myself, if not more.

The salad tasted like salad, only not as good. And frankly I’m not sure why their “famous” house dressing is so “famous”. I had one bite and moved back to the breadsticks.

But, we’re not here to talk about breadsticks and salad. We’re here to talk about pizza. Delicious, unhealthy pizza. I forgot how much I love Fortel’s. It’s like Herm Edwards walked into an Imo’s (or Cecil Whittaker’s, or any other STL style pizza place), saw the thin crust cut into squares and yelled out, “We can build on this!!!” Fortel’s took the things that are acceptable about STL pizza (thin, so you can eat a lot, cut into squares so you can make pizza sandwiches), and got rid of the things that are unacceptable (Provel cheese). And the result is a really good pizza. Fortel’s has some assortment of spices on top of their pizza that gives it a little kick that really puts it over the top. It’s not so “hot” that it’s unenjoyable, but it’s just enough to add a little bit of flavor and make it different from the other pizzas in the city. Add some pepperoni and pepperoncinis on top of that and you have a world of spiciness that limited my wife’s consumption, increasing mine. I love it when a plan comes together.

I think I can say that Fortel’s is my 4th favorite pizza in St. Louis, right behind Katie’s, Cicero’s, and Pointer’s. Chest Bump.

Restaurant: Boardwalk Cafe
Location: 600 East Lockwood

Our nanny called in sick one day, so I had to stay home for the morning to take care of my son. With no real idea on how to be a parent or how you’re supposed to entertain a kid for a couple hours it seemed like a good time to check out Boardwalk Café. It would kill several birds with one stone. We’d get in a walk on the way there, get some food, see some trucks driving up and down the street (you’d be amazed how long a kid will stare and shout at trucks), and then get in another walk on the way home.

Boardwalk Café boasts that they have the “Best Breakfast in Town” and the “Best Pancakes and French Toast in Town”. I love when restaurants or companies make broad general claims that can’t be technically disproved so they can legally say it even though it’s most likely not really true. I believe it’s because you can’t really define what the word “best” means. Like I could say, “The Cubs are the Best Team in the World”, and you could argue that I’m wrong, because they haven’t won a World Series in a couple of years. But I’d argue I’m right because to me “best” doesn’t simply mean winning or losing, it takes into account the fans, ballpark, experience, hot dogs, players, etc… So yeah, I don’t put a lot of faith into anyplace that says they are the “best”. I put all that faith into me. I decide who’s the best.

I was in the mood for a Country Skillet Breakfast, so I ordered the Arch Skillet. It comes with hash browns topped with sausage, onion, pepper, tomato, jalapeno, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese, and two eggs. As far as Operation: Heart Attack was concerned, this thing fit the bill. However, I wasn’t real happy when it was brought to the table. It didn’t even come in a skillet. That’s the whole point of a skillet breakfast – you get to eat out of a skillet. But they took it from the skillet and served it on a plate. Booooooo. Lucky for them it was still really good. Just a nice mix of ingredients. Nothing fancy, just good, home cookin’. You really couldn’t have asked for anything more, other than more of it. While I love when people fancy-up dishes (like Bongo Room does with pancakes, for example), there’s something to be said for a dish that delivers at the most basic level, and this one does. I just need to convince them to serve it in the skillet.

I also ordered the blueberry pancakes for my son. He didn’t take a bite. Meaning that either they weren’t the best in town, or that he wasn’t hungry. As his father, you’d think I know which one it was, but I didn’t. So I had a bite myself. Not the “Best in Town”. Not terrible, but far from the “best”.

I will be making some return trips in the future, once I get this whole cholesterol thing fixed. Fist bump with a manly ass slap.

Restaurant: Five Guys
Location: 1070 Town and Country Crossing

If you haven’t heard of Five Guys than you’re either living under a rock, or in another country. Or both. It’s a burger joint that makes burgers, more burgers, and allegedly the most delicious fries you’re tongue will ever taste. I first heard of Five Guys about a year ago when one opened up in Lincoln Park. A friend told me I “had to check it out”, even though I had just moved to St. Louis and you’d have to be serving hard-core porn on a bun for me to make that drive. Then other friends kept bringing up Five Guys and claimed it was absolutely amazing. Two opened out in Chesterfield not too long ago and more people were harping on me to check it out. But again, it was in Chesterfield, and the aforementioned porn burger would have to be available for me to make that drive (BTW, I think if I opened a restaurant I would actually create a porn burger. I think it would be a open-faced tuna steak, topped with roast beef, then slathered with enough mayo to make it incredibly sloppy.).

Lucky for Five Guys I ended up having a meeting out in Chesterfield, so I stopped by for lunch first.

I ordered the cheeseburger (which comes with two patties), a hot dog, and both the Cajun fries and regular fries.

Now people have been literally barking in my ear about how good the burgers and fries were, and that the experience would make me finish in my pants, and that Five Guys had possibly the best burgers around.

Kind of wrong, totally wrong, completely wrong.

Maybe it was the hype and maybe my expectations were too high, but Five Guys certainly didn’t live up to the billing. It was good, and if it wasn’t such a hike I’d go back, but it wasn’t great or amazing.

The burger was tasty, but I was expecting a nice, juicy, fat, mouth-watering, heart-attack-inducing burger. Instead I got a pretty typical fast food burger. Sure it was made fresh, and you could definitely taste the difference, but there really wasn’t anything more to it than that. The customizable toppings were nice, but again, nothing to blow my socks off (probably because I wasn’t wearing socks). It really is just a good fast food burger, and nothing more than that.

And the fries are pretty good. As long as they’re hot. The moment they cool off a bit they are very, very average.

I won’t even talk about the hot dog, which was one of the worst hot dogs I’ve ever had. But I will talk about the service, which was phenomenal. Just the nicest, friendliest people who will talk you through the order and encourage you to take your time, even if there are 20 people waiting to order behind you.

So yeah, I think I was expecting some unique, amazing burger joint, and really it’s just a good fast food place without the drive thru. Fist bump.

Restaurant: Highway 61 Roadhouse
Location: 34 S. Old Orchard Ave.

I’m not gonna lie, it’s taken me like four weeks to write this because of work, traveling, being married with a kid, the NBA playoffs, laziness, and other reasons I don’t care to mention, so in order to just get this done, I’m gonna keep this short and sweet.

I loved Roadhouse. The outdoor patio is great. They have live music almost every night. The food is good old-fashion comfort food. And there’s plenty of beer.

The shrimp kabobs were good, because they were wrapped in a bacon-like substance. But it only came with like 6 shrimp, which wasn’t nearly enough for an appetizer.

I had the shrimp Po’ Boy, which was huge and spicy and delicious. And the waffle fries, which are pretty hard to screw up. We also ordered the mac and cheese (average) and the cream corn soufflé (which had the same effect on me as finding out Bruce Willis was dead at the end of 6th Sense).

A chest bump, and nearly a manly ass slap thrown in there, but had to deduct for the mac and cheese and kabobs.

So, when it was all said and done Operation: Heart Attack was a huge success. I discovered some great new places, confirmed some over hyping of other places, and was able to stop my heart twice. Not too shabby.

To recap:

Chuck A Burger: Half handshake, half chest-bump hug
Fortel’s Pizza Den: Chest Bump
Boardwalk Café: Fist bump with a manly ass slap
Five Guys: Fist bump
Roadhouse: Chest bump

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pointersaurus Challenge

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Restaurant: Pointer’s Delivery
Location: 1023 S. Big Bend

I come to you today humbled. I come to you today embarrassed. I come to you today less of a man.

I come to you today as a failure.

Yesterday, Jeff and I attempted the Pointersaurus Challenge at Pointer’s Delivery. And we failed. Miserably.

Here were some key takeaways before I tell you the whole story:

- Bacon actually doesn’t make everything better
- Our eyes, confidence, and appetites were much bigger than our actual stomachs
- The challenge is much, much, much harder than expected
- This was our first attempt, but it won’t be our last (at least not for me)

Before I even get into the who, what, when, where, why, and how let’s take a moment to look back at a couple of my other eating competitions (these two examples do not include me falling half a piece shy of finishing a large stuffed pizza at Pi last year for $20):

So, clearly the precedent is that I never fair all that well with these things. But that didn’t stop me from trying.


Pointer’s has been doing the Pointersaurus Challenge since 2001. The rules are pretty simple. Eat a Pointersaurus in 60 minutes or less. The challenge starts at 3 o’clock every day, and only one team is allowed to compete per day. You can’t puke or use the restroom until after the 60 minutes is over. You have to choose at least two meat toppings, or four veggie toppings. You can’t leave the restaurant area for any reason during the competition. The clock starts on the first bite of pizza. No crusts left behind. No blotting grease with your napkin. And you have to pay for the pizza before you start ($50). And that’s about it. Pretty simple.


$500. Plus your original $50 back, plus your name on the website. Plus the glory of finishing. Oh, and free soda or water while you eat.


28”. 12 lbs. Enough said.


I’ve always wanted to do the Pointersaurus Challenge. Even years ago when I first heard about it, but finding someone to do it with me was always the real challenge. At work several weeks ago I was talking about it, and Jean said, “Jeff (her husband) will do it with you. He looooooves pizza.” Before I was even able to officially ask him my phone rang, and when I picked up all I heard was, “Whatever you have to do to set up a pizza eating contest, set that shit up.” Needless to say, he was in. So now that we had the players, we had to set up the event.


Before deciding on the time and place, we first had to decide on the toppings. To do so we journeyed over there for dinner one night. We got two different pizzas – a ham and bacon and a pepperoni and sausage. We couldn’t come to terms on four veggies (as we both don’t enjoy mushrooms or olives), so meat was our only option. We both ate the pizzas with ease, giving us the confidence we needed moving forward. And neither of us liked the sausage, and we were both way into the ham and bacon, so we decided right then and there that it was the way we were gonna go. We told the guy we wanted to do the competition the following Friday, and he said, “The earliest opening I got is the 21st.” Wow. They were booked solid for two weeks, and there wasn’t a Friday open for weeks after that. So Tuesday the 21st it would be.

In the two weeks leading up I ate a ton of pizza, and big meals in general. Jeff did the same. In the days leading up I was drinking a gallon of water in 30 minutes about four times a day to stretch my stomach. I was peeing more than a pregnant chick. Or my dad. I wanted no excuse for not finishing, other than “I’m a pussy.”

The day of the event I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a small salad around 11, and another gallon of water to curb my hunger until 3, and to keep the stomach nice and big. And the water would be out of my stomach by the time the eating commenced.

At 2:30 I headed over to meet my destiny.


Jeff was already there with Jean and the kids. He had a big smile on his face. Not a worry in the world. I too was feeling pretty good at this point after spending a couple days convinced that I wouldn’t be able to hold up my end of the bargain. We said, “We’re here to destroy the Pointersauras.” “You’d be second guys to do it this week,” he told us. Turns out two doctors did it that Monday, so now the pressure was really on.

We ordered the pizza, paid, and sat patiently.

And after about 12 minutes, the pizza came out of the oven and onto our table. Jeff and I took one look at it, and then our eyes met. We didn’t even have to say anything. We both knew what the other was thinking; we got this.

“No problem,” he said.
“We’ll be done in 30 minutes, if not sooner. It’s almost too easy,” I responded.

(keep in mind I wear a size 13)

The guys behind the counter advised that we wait about 10 minutes for the pizza to cool a bit, since the clock didn’t start until we took our first bite. But Jeff was antsy. After waiting about five minutes we decided it was time to dig in.

I took a deep breath, reminded myself to just eat at my normal pace, and posed for the camera.

Then we both took a bite, and it was on.

Things were going really well. After about 10 minutes we each were on a pretty good pace, and if we were able to keep it up we’d have the thing finished in around 40 minutes. But keeping it up was the problem (and I swear I’ve never had an issue keeping it up. Except one time, but I’ll spare my wife the embarrassment and not share the story here.).

I can’t tell you how bad I was sweating. I took my shirt off five minutes into this thing and went with the tank top. If it wasn’t for the health department I think I would have gone shirtless. They keep the place at 110°, adding just one more obstacle to the challenge.

The pizza definitely had a lot more of the toppings than expected. When we did our test run they had just little itty-bitty pieces of bacon and ham, and there weren’t a ton of them. But on this thing they were cut a little bigger, and piled much, much higher. As Jeff said, these weren’t pieces of ham and bacon scattered on top, they were ham sandwiches and BLT’s on every piece of pizza.

And they were salty.

By the 15-minute mark I was struggling. The saltiness of the bacon just became more and more overwhelming. Every bite became a chore. By the 20-minute mark I was pretty much done, and at that point I was eating just to see how much more I could eat, and trying to at least match what Jeff was doing. But by the 25-minute mark he was pretty much cooked as well. As we both attempted to power along, we both had the same thought; “I don’t wanna puke.”

We then came to find out that the two guys the day before did puke. In fact, the one guy puked 6 seconds after the timer went off. All over the floor. So not only did the guys behind the counter have to dish out $500, plus a refund on the pizza, they had to also clean up a pile of pizza puke sitting in front of their counter. That, my friends, is what you call adding insult to injury.

The most enjoyable part of the challenge was hearing the stories of other competitors. Joey Chestnut (the hot dog eating champ) took the pizza down (with the help of his wife, supposedly) in 17 minutes, setting a record. And they said he ate at least ¾ of the pizza himself. Pretty impressive. And Eater X has also completed the challenge. Before the two doctors the day before us, the last pair to finish was a couple of ladies. Apparently their Mizzou football-playing boyfriends drove down and threw their hat in the ring, and failed miserably. And after properly taunting their boyfriends, they stopped by the next day and took the thing down themselves. Apparently they were a couple of “110 lb girls”, but the same guy who said that also said the doctors were skinny like me. So I’ll go out on a limb here and say the girls were probably more in the 150 lb range.

By the 40-minute mark it was officially over. Sure, we’d attempt a bite here or there, but it was futile. The size of the pizza, combined with the saltiness of the ham and bacon, were too much for us to overcome. The weird thing is I wasn’t stuffed, and if someone brought in a McDonald’s cheeseburger or an ice cream cone, I could have eaten it no problem. But I couldn’t eat any more of the pizza. Can’t explain it, that’s just the way it was.

When the bell rang we had completed just over half. Barely. The guys behind the counter were nice enough to tell us we did better than a lot of people, which made me feel a little better. Not much, but a little.

What did make me feel better was the fact that they said they have someone attempt it every single day, and that they’ve had 1,800 pairs attempt it, and only 17 have completed it.

So needless to say, this thing is no easy feat. I’ve run the Chicago Marathon the past two years in pretty hot weather, with a guy dying two years ago, and my buddy Cromie nearly dying this past year. And I can say for certain that I think the Pointersaraus Challenge is harder than a marathon.


There’s not much else to talk about. I’m ashamed. Jeff is ashamed. We thought we’d do better. Much better. The fact that we failed isn’t what pains us, the fact that we only finished half does. We thought we’d come up like seven or eight pieces short. Not twenty. Just a sad, sad display of manliness.

By the way, I really like the pizza at Pointer’s. I’d get it again (and will) outside of doing the challenge. Love their sauce. Love the cheese. Love everything except the sausage (and now the bacon).

Will I attempt the challenge again? Absolutely. Will Jeff? Yes, I think he will. Not with the expectation of finishing, but with the goal of doing better. Next time we won’t get the bacon, and might go with something like pepperoni and ham. I don’t know. We need to reflect, and regroup.

Pointersaurus, we’ll see you again in a couple months. And this time we’ll be ready.

Ready to fail.

But ready to fail a little bit less.

Pointer’s Pizza – Chest Bump

Pointersaurus Challenge - Half handshake, half chest-bump hug

Oh, and I just got some blood work back from the doctor, and apparently my cholesterol is through the roof. I'm assuming this isn't going to help.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wild Flower

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Restaurant: Wild Flower
Location: 4590 Laclede Avenue

Folks, we have a winner! And by winner, I mean loser. I have finally found my least favorite restaurant in St. Louis (well, least favorite so far). I could tell you what I think, but why not let Wild Flower tell you a little something about themselves first:

“It's been said many times, the Wild Flower is the Midwest's answer to a Greenwich Village hot spot.”

That is a direct quote from their website, and easily the funniest thing I’ve read in the last five years. I’m curious as to who has said this many times? That’s like saying, “It’s been said many times, J.J. Redick is the NBA’s answer to stopping LeBron James.”

I think that the only redeeming quality of the place is the outdoor patio, and it was a little too cold for us to even enjoy it when we went. I started my meal off with the Lobster Bisque, as did Jen, who was sitting to my left. She took one bite, nearly vomited (maybe I’m exaggerating), and pushed it to the middle of the table. She couldn’t eat another bite. I asked, “What’s the problem?” And she said, “I hate cheese.” So I said, “But it’s Lobster Bisque, I don’t think it has cheese.” And she said, “Taste it.” So I said, “OK.” And I did. And it was Rotelle dip. The only thing missing was some tortilla chips and maybe a little chorizo. It was the worst Lobster Bisque I’d ever had. However, as cheese soup goes, it wasn’t terrible. And the waitress was not happy about Jen taking only one bite, which made it that much more enjoyable.

Next I got a side of the Gorgonzola Mashed and the Truffled Mac-n-Cheese. Both were disappointing. The Gorgonzola was very Gorgonzolaey, which I can’t kill them for. It was just a bit too much for me. But, if you LOVE Gorgonzola, then you’d probably love this dish. I was hoping for more of a hint of the Gorgonzola, not just Gorgonzola, but again, my fault, as it’s pretty clear on the menu what I was getting. And my expectations were probably too high on the Mac-n-Cheese. I figured the combination of Mac-n-Cheese and truffles would put this dish over-the-top, possibly in the best of the best category. But it didn’t. I was a little better than “just OK”, but not quite “above average”. Put it this way, if I was stuck eating here again and someone ordered it, I might sneak a bite, but I wouldn’t order it on my own again.

For dinner I went with the Bison Hanger Steak. This was one of those weird dishes where the first bite you take is really good, but by the last bite you’re pretty under whelmed and kind of wish you’d gotten something else. It’s kind of like the first time you get an HJ and you’re pretty excited and think it’s awesome because it’s the first time a girl (or guy, if that’s your thing, or your camp councilor, depending on what a creep your camp councilor was) has touched you down there. But by the 8th or 9th time she’s doing it you’re bored and concentrating to just keep it up and all you can think about is the fact that you could do this to yourself in the comfort of your own shower, except it would be ten times better, and you just wish she’d stop or make a move down there with her mouth. And now I think I’ve said too much. Anyway, the Bison Hanger Steak was kind of like that. I did like the mashed potatoes it came with, but the green beans were way undercooked (which is probably how they’re supposed to be cooked, but I hate them that way).

Here are some of the other comments that were flying around the table of 12:

“Anybody want a taste of the tomato paste they piled on top of my pasta?”
“The fish is good, but that wheat pasta tastes like cardboard.”
“If you’re into freezer burn then you should try a bite of the ice cream.”
“My sex is on fire.”
“I hate your friends.”
“Um, we’ve been here for over an hour, when do you think she’ll take our order.”
“I wonder what she looks like naked.”

And the final “I hate this pace” kicker? The bill for Amy and I was $120 with tip. Yikes. I’m not saying $120 is expensive, as I’m happy to pay it for a decent meal. But for what we just ate, I would have felt ripped off if I was paying $50. Lucky for them the whole dinner was for charity, so I was happy to pay the $120 knowing it was going to a good cause (assuming they passed the money along, of course).

Wild Flower, I hope our paths never, ever, ever cross again.

Fone and fone.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

St. Louis Randomness: Part 2

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

St. Louis Randomness: Part 2

Restaurant: Revival
Location: 3800 Chouteau

Revival is the old King Louie spot. I bring this up only because we had told at least five different people we were going to Revival, and every one of them had the same reaction: “What’s that?” But once you said, “It’s the new restaurant in the old King Louie spot”, they knew what you were talking about. So somehow everyone knew about King Louie’s, but nobody knew about Revival. And somehow I knew about Revival, but had never heard of King Louie’s. And right now you’re saying, “I still don’t know why you bring this up.” And I don’t really have an answer for that.

I love the building, inside and out. Very cozy and rustic, with a great outdoor patio. Although from what I understand it looks exactly as it did when it was King Louie’s. It sounds like the only thing that has really changed is the menu.

I was excited to try it out because I had heard a lot of good things from a bunch of different friends. But in the end, I thought it was just OK.

We started things off with the pulled pork sliders, the calamari, and the braised ribs. The pork was OK. Was disappointed that it was really just two normal-size pulled pork sandwiches, so we had to cut them in half for everyone to get a sample. Nothing special about them either, and definitely better options on the menu. Same goes for the calamari. Again, not bad, just typical calamari, but the dipping sauce had a nice spice to it. The real winner was the braised ribs. It was a huge rack of them, so plenty for everyone at the table to enjoy. Great rub on them, meat just falling off the bone. Not much else you could ask for.

For dinner I got the chorizo-stuffed pork tenderloin. You couldn’t taste the chorizo, and the pork was a tad over-cooked. Loved the sauce on the dish, but otherwise it was pretty underwhelming. My wife got the meatloaf, which was pretty good. Not sure I’d ever get it as my entrée, but I like being able to sneak a couple bites of it off someone else’s plate. Also got a side of hush puppies, which were delicious. They’re no Long John Silver’s, but still pretty good.

And for dessert we got a slice of the Dr. Pepper chocolate cake, and a couple pieces of the CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON!!!!!! Everyone looked at me like I was crazy for ordering the CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON, and then they looked disgusted as I ate it. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that bacon makes everything better. Even chocolate. They actually tasted a lot like chocolate covered pretzels, but worse for you. After everyone had a bite they all agreed that I wasn’t crazy, and that they were pretty tasty.

Three other things I wanted to mention. 1) The whole place smelled like smoke. And there were only two people in the whole restaurant smoking. That’s the problem with smoke, once it’s soaked into the woodwork it never leaves. And by the smell of it, it’s been soaked in for about 30 year. On the plus side the smoke covered up the smell of ass in the bathroom. 2) They kept coming by to grab empty plates, and more than once took my wife’s fork before she was done using it. Very awkward. 3) It was expensive for what it was. I’m all for good comfort food, but it should also be priced appropriately. The apps are priced right, and same with the desserts. It’s just the entrees that are over-priced (except for the burger, which is $8). We spent $90 (with tip) a couple and did order a $30 bottle of wine (and way too many apps), but even if you didn’t drink, I still feel like the whole experience was $15 - $20 too expensive. Maybe $10 if you ordered like a normal person.

Restaurant: Winslow’s
Location: 7213 Delmar

When we were living in U-City this was one of my favorite places to visit. Just a great, down-to-earth feel for an over-priced neighborhood convenience store. No matter what you need, whether it’s a shovel, toys, books, candy, bread, milk, butter, rubber ducks, or whatever you can think of, this place somehow seems to have it. And the little walk up kitchen in the back is best described as “cute”. The menu has just a couple things to choose from for each meal, but you can somehow still find something that you want. And there’s pastries and baked goods as well. I’ve always enjoyed everything I’ve eaten here, even if I think it’s a couple bucks more than it should be. But in the summer, you can’t beat sitting on the large front patio on Delmar drinking a coffee or beer (depending on the time of day) and noshing on whatever it is they have on the menu that day.

Restaurant: Nacho Mammas
Location: 9574 Indian Meadows Dr.

It’s good fast-food Mexican and Tex-Mex food. But, it’s also really expensive fast-food Mexican and Tex-Mex food. Tony and I went there for a lunch date and I spent $25 for the two of us. And there were no beers or margaritas involved.

I got the Tex-Mex sample platter, which has a taco, an enchilada, and a hard-shell taco type of thing. And some beans. It was fine, and I really liked the hard-shell thing, but I still can’t get over the price. I shouldn’t be spending that kind of money on a place with a drive-thru. And if I am spending that much, I shouldn’t be able to walk afterwards. I was so un-full that we went to Baskin-Robbins and killed some ice cream (the York Peppermint Patty Mint is really good).

So I can’t say that I’d go back. For that kind of money I can go someplace and sit down and have a waiter, and enjoy the same (or, most likely, better) quality of food.

Revival: Fist bump
Winslow’s: Chest bump
Nacho Mama’s: High five with a manly ass slap

St. Louis Randomness: Part 1

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

St. Louis Randomness: Part 1

I’ve got a lot of catching up to do, so rather than spend a couple hours trying to spit out one crappily written review, I’m going to spend a couple hours spitting out several crappily written reviews. And again, I’m pretty far behind, so I’m splitting this up into two parts. Ratings for each are at the very end of the review. Enjoy. Or don’t. I don’t give an F either way.

Restaurant: Racanelli’s
Location: 6655 Delmar (U City) and 8161 Big Bend (Webster)

I actually have two different reviews here, because there’s the newly opened Racanelli’s Cucina next to where I work, and the classic Racanelli’s that’s a couple blocks from my house.

When the new Cucina opened up on Delmar I was excited. It had a lot going for it: newly renovated and relatively nice inside restaurant that would be great for client meetings, a bar with flat screen TVs that would be perfect for March Madness, outdoor seating that would be great for the summer, and they still had the classic walk up window where you could get a typical NY slice or calzone.

The whole idea behind the Cucina was that it would be more of a full menu with pastas and wood oven pizzas (or coal, or something) that were a little different from their NY style at the takeout window. The first time I went there I loved it. They have a lunch special where for only $9 you can get a pizza (they only offer once size) and a salad. And the pizza is incredibly big and filling. Classic pizza crust with mozzarella, not some crappy 6” thin crust that just makes you made you didn’t get lunch someplace else. And it was good. But the next two times I went weren’t so good, and in fact, one of the pizzas actually made me sick in more ways than one. And I’ve got an iron stomach, so the normal human being doesn’t stand a chance.

Luckily I’ve never had that problem at the normal Racanelli’s in Webster. Since moving my wife and I have eaten there just about every week. It’s become a bit of a Friday night staple because it’s close and we like the taste. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t the best NY-style pizza joint in the world (or even St. Louis, which I would award to La Pizza). It’s too greasy, a little too heavy (which I know doesn’t make sense, but it’s the best way I can think to describe what it is I think I mean), and the service is a little too suspect. But it’s close, the slices are big, and you know what your getting when you go there. And their calzones aren’t too bad either. Can’t say the same about their terrible salads.

Restaurant: Joey B’s (On the Hill)
Location: 2524 Hampton

I could tell you all about how Joey B’s is a pretty good place to watch a sporting event. I could tell you about the good-looking waitstaff and bartender who will make you question all the decisions you’ve made in your life. I could tell you about the spinach and artichoke dip that had just the right amount of garlic. I could even tell you about the bacon and salami covered St. Louis-style pizza that I somehow didn’t hate even though I hate St. Louis-style pizza.

But I won’t waste your time with any of that. Instead, I want to tell you about the pretzel bites. These were little round balls of the most deliciousness you’ll ever eat. First, they come in a bowl, not on a plate. This is important because the bites are COVERED (yes, ALL CAPS COVERED) in butter. So much so, in fact, the bottom of the bowl has a pool of it that continues to coat the bites as they sit in front of you. And they are so soft and chewy, yet have just the slightest amount of crispiness when you bite into them. They are perfect. I can only describe them as pretzel-flavored donuts. And I haven’t even mentioned the cheese sauce that comes with it. We had five orders of it while watching the Mizzou game last week. And frankly, I’m mad we only got five. If Joey B’s wanted to improve their pizza they would just cover it with these pretzel bites and cheese.

Restaurant: Robust
Location: 227 W Lockwood

Went there a couple of weeks ago with some friends, and overall I really enjoy this place. The atmosphere is laid back, and there’s like three sections of the place. There’s the wine store part, where you can buy bottles and glasses and other wine-related stuff. And the tables near this section actually feel like tasting tables in a wine shop rather than part of a wine bar. Then there’s the bar section, with the actual bar and all the tables that surround it. And then there’s kind of a back room that is walled off from the bar area. We sat in this last section, which is nice with a large group of people because it’s a little quieter and makes it easier to talk. But, it’s also missing that charm that the other two sections have. The back room is quiet and kinda boring, while the front of the place is packed with people, loud, and feels like there’s some action going on. And that’s the kind of thing that I prefer. What I’m taking way too long to say is, sit in the front, not the back (which might be the only time I ever prefer the front over the back).

The food is just so-so. The flatbreads and soup were really good, but everything else was just very average, if not below it. And I feel like everything tries to sound fancier than it really is. For example, they have this artichoke dish with some special cheese and what not, but it’s just spinach and artichoke dip, except served on a plate instead of a bowl. And it’s not all that good. I did get a bowl of the Robust chowder, which was the soup special, and it was probably the best thing I ate. Not enough to fill you up, but that, combined with a flatbread, and you’d be making the best of the menu. And again, the food is more of a tasting-menu-and-share-with-friends type of thing – and that’s never going to be my cup of tea. So take this with a grain of salt. Or an entire shaker.

But the wine is great. The waiter did a great job of up selling us from a $30 bottle of Malbec to a $70 bottle. But it was one of the best wines I’d ever had. So good, in fact, that we ordered a second bottle. It was the Catena Alta, from Mendoza, vintage 2004 (I know what none of that means, but it translates to “really fucking tasty and you walk out nice and tipsy”).

I’d go back for drinks in a heartbeat, but when I’m looking for a good dinner, I’ll be heading somewhere else. However, the food is pretty reasonably priced, so if you’re just looking for an inviting place to have good drinks and enjoy nice service, and food is just something you’ll nibble on so you don’t pass out at the table, then Robust is your place.

Restaurant: Dickey’s
Location: 9200 Olive

Um, do you like crappy BBQ that you can barely stomach? Then Dickey’s is the place for you! Beef brisket that tastes like roast beef that will give you food poisoning? They got it! Mac and cheese that tastes like water yet is somehow 600 calories? Step right up! Do you like free ice cream cones? Yeah, me too, actually. But other than that, BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Racanelli’s Cucina: Hand shake with a manly ass slap
Racanelli’s: Fist bump
Joey B’s: Chest bump
Robust: Fist bump
Dickey’s: Fone and fone

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Stratton's Cafe

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Restaurant: Stratton’s Cafe
Location: 8103 Big Bend

My co-worker Kelly knows I love breakfast. And she’s been bored to tears listening to me talk about all the great breakfast/brunch places in Chicago. She finally reached her breaking point and told me I had to at least check out Stratton’s before poo-pooing the awful breakfast/brunch options here in the Lou.

But here’s the problem: Kelly has terrible taste buds. She was the one who implored me to check out Niche and Agave, and both were very overrated. And those are just two examples out of about 50 that I have in my repertoire of Kelly and her horrible opinions (and I mean that in the nicest possible way). So when she said that Stratton’s was her favorite breakfast spot in the city, I was more than a little skeptical.

We recently moved about three blocks away, so I was out of excuses. And just to make sure I gave it a fair shake, I’ve been there four times in the past three weeks. I’ve tried a wide variety of menu items, including an egg sandwich, two different kinds of pancakes, French toast, and biscuits and gravy. So I think I’m finally ready to make an educated decision on Stratton’s. And while I could make you wait to the end, I’ll spare you the suspense. According to my wife, it’s just OK, and according to me, it’s solid but nothing special.

The pancakes are probably my favorite things that I’ve gotten. The classic buttermilk are fluffy and sweet. You don’t even need syrup if you don’t want (but who wouldn’t want syrup). My son loves them, and typically devours one by himself (they’re pretty big, so that’s actually impressive, considering his age). And the chocolate chip pancakes are even better. But, my wife said the buckwheat aren’t all that good, and she even added syrup to them.

The egg sandwich was the next best thing on the menu. There really wasn’t anything special about it, but it was tasty. But it doesn’t come with any side items. You have to order them separately. They’re already charging almost four bucks for the sandwich, so they should go ahead and charge an extra buck and give you the choice of hash browns or toast or fruit or something. Because you don’t really think about a side item when you order, and then when you’re sandwich comes out you’re like, “No hash browns or fruit? FML.” And then you have to go back up and order. You’ve been warned, so just keep that in mind.

The biscuits and gravy are pretty good. Not too thick, not too watery, and plenty of gravy. My only complaint is that it doesn’t taste that much different than gravy out of a can. And it’s probably homemade; it’s just that it doesn’t have that delicious homemade taste I was looking for.

The French toast was terrible, but I’ll take the blame for that. Under the French toast section I saw “Banana” and had my wife order it for me. But when it came out I knew I was in trouble. It was covered in yogurt and granola. I had a bite, and immediately went up and ordered pancakes instead. Here’s the problem, I hate yogurt. And after looking at the menu again it clearly read “Banana, Yogurt & Fresh Granola”. For some reason I thought that meant they had two different kinds of specialty French toast, with one being banana, and the other being Yogurt & Granola. But it’s not. It’s just one big load of crap. Oh well. Lesson learned.

The atmosphere is cozy, but sometimes you feel rushed to eat and get out to open up a table for people waiting. At least the coffee is good. I still think it’s just a tad pricey for what it is, but it’s not ridiculous or anything.

So, Kelly wasn’t wrong. But she wasn’t right either. Fist bump.

The Shaved Duck

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Restaurant: The Shaved Duck
Location: 2900 Virginia

The Shaved Duck recently retooled their menu to focus on their American (primarily BBQ) offerings. I have no idea what the menu was before, but from what I gather it was more upscale European and American combo offerings. People seemed to like it, from everything I’ve read, so I’m not sure why they changed things. But in the end, I’m glad they did, because it seems like everything on the menu is now smoked.

Amy and I went there on a Saturday night at 8 p.m. with Brandon, Lisa, Gina, and Bob. The wait was just over 45 minutes. This really isn’t that big of a surprise when you factor in the fact that the place has a really small dining room (about 10 tables), and two tables up by the bar. So if you go there between 6:30 and 8:30 on the weekend, expect to wait. The question is, was it worth the wait?

Let’s start with the name, The Shaved Duck. Where does it come from and what does it mean? The answer is that I have no idea. But it sounds like a strip club, or a porn movie, or a cool new sex move I haven’t learned about yet. And I think that’s what really intrigued me about the place. I didn’t care what kind of food it had, or how many menus they’ve retooled, with a name like Shaved Duck I was going to check it out.

The atmosphere is great. Very small and intimate (translation: crowded and loud), with a diverse crowd that seems very local. Our waitress was very friendly and attentive, but Lisa would like it noted that the hostess (or waitress or bartender, I can’t remember which) was very rude when they first arrived. Apparently Lisa was trying to get out of the way (again, large crowd crammed in a very small bar/waiting area) and allegedly backed into a corner that also happened to be near a table or something, and the waitress/hostess/bartender came up and said something to the extent of an “I don’t think so, honey.” While I’m butchering the story, the point is Lisa wasn’t happy about it. And she’ll hold a grudge like nobody’s business, so it would be in the best interest of The Shaved Duck to issue an apology.

We started things off by ordering some apps for the table, including the Duck Fat Frites, Duck Confit Flatbread, and some dish that had smoked pulled pork served over an apple. I’ll start with the Frites. After we’d decided where we were going for dinner I went and checked out the menu online and was nearly touching myself over the fact that they had Duck Fat Frites. When we got to Shaved Duck I couldn’t stop talking about them. I loved the duck fat fries at Hot Doug’s (in Chicago, of course), and I was thinking these would be just as good. And I think I made everyone else believe they’d be that good as well. But instead they’re just plain terrible. I think the problem is they’re truly Frites, which is French for really fucking skinny potato strings. Nobody at the table liked them, and I lost a ton of credibility because of it. And it’s not like I’m working with a bunch of cred to begin with, so I really wasn’t happy. Luckily the other apps more than compensated. The flatbread was really, really good. The bread was a little thinner and crispier than I’m used to, but it didn’t affect the dish as a whole. The duck was sparse, which made it taste that much better. You really savored and appreciated the few bites of it there were. And the sauce they had on top of it really added to the dish. I was really happy about it. And the smoked pork on the apple was amazing. The apple was just whatever, but the pork is what made it. Just perfect. We decided that anytime you smoke something, it takes it to another lever. And this pork was no exception.

After the apps I got my meal started with one of the four chilis on the menu. And I couldn’t help but get the Smoked Tomato & Smoked Peppers dish. To my surprise it literally was only tomatoes and peppers. No beans. No meat. No nothing. Just tomatoes and peppers. But they were smoked. And they were delicious. It honestly was one of the best chilis I’ve ever had. Now, whether or not you really consider it chili is another story. And I’m not in the mood to debate it here.

For dinner I went with the Loaded Baked Potato. Now, it may not sound like much, but here is how it read on the menu: “Couple hours smoked, four hours in the pit, loaded with pulled pork & white cheddar.” Sounded like the kind of thing I couldn’t pass up. I also got a side of the mac and cheese, which came highly recommended by the waitress. The potato was huge, which I guess makes sense because it is an entrée. And it was smoked, so I was pretty sure there’s no way this thing could go wrong. And of course, I was wrong. It was really dry, and I was expecting the potato to be cooked alone, and then the pork and cheese loaded up on top before it came out to the table. But there really wasn’t that much pork or cheese, and it felt like it was all cooked together for four hours. The cheese was hard and crusty. I didn’t finish the whole thing, if that tells you anything, and I needed a ton of the homemade BBQ sauce (which was good) to finish what I did. And I know I’m not crazy, because Brandon also ordered it and he had the exact same review. In fact, I stole my review from him. But the mac and cheese more than made up for it. Vermont cheddar and cream. Just divine (I can’t believe I just wrote that either). Not too cheesy, not too creamy, just perfect. I demand everyone who goes here get it.

Other bites of food that I stole from others at the table were the Jalapeno Cream Corn (amazing), pulled pork sandwich (just OK), and Baked Beans (really good). But the best thing I ate the entire meal was the cornbread. Lisa ordered it as part of her meal and it was too die for. Cooked and served in a skillet, soft, warm, and great butter smeared all over it. I think I could make a meal out of the chili, mac and cheese, and cornbread. Lisa also said the Duck was really good, so I’ll take her word for it.

And then there was dessert. Supposedly handmade by one of the cook’s moms. The gooey butter cake brownie was the tits. And the apple crisp was worth the calories as well. The peanut butter pie was actually too rich, but then again, being too rich is something I rarely complain about.

And when the bill came, it was $60 per couple. Read that again. That includes all the food we had, and all the drinks. We actually checked the bill because we couldn’t believe it. I was so happy I tipped the waitress $20 (which forced everyone else to do the same thing, which I’m sure they were really happy about). But again, $80 for Amy and I. You can’t beat that for good food.

And there you have it. A lot of stuff is smoked. Smoked stuff is delicious (usually). The cornbread and mac and cheese will make you finish in your pants (as will the chili, but that’s only if you’re into that sort of thing, which some people aren’t, but everyone is into cornbread and mac and cheese). And don’t eff with Lisa.

Fist bump with a manly ass slap. I was waffling on the rating, and wanted to give it just a little more, but the baked potato really hurt The Shaved Duck. But, just to be clear, I love eating Shaved Duck. I could eat it every day. I can’t wait until the next time I get to eat Shaved Duck.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Restaurant: Cicero’s
Location: 6691 Delmar

Back before I gave myself the nickname The Big Delicious, I was given another nickname by my best bud Mike. After I started dating my wife, Amy, he called me Zima. Why? Because he claimed that I had become a water-downed version of my original self. And it stuck.

Now, you’re probably saying, “I don’t believe it. There’s nothing watered down about you.” (At least I’d like to think you’re saying that) But I have proof. When I first lived in St. Louis after college Amy and I discovered that we looooooooved the thick-crust pizza at Cicero’s. I specify thick crust because they also offer the horrible St. Louis-style pizza, which is disgusting and I don’t even like to admit they offer it. But the thick crust is the goods. Huge doughy fluffiness topped with a delicious tomato sauce, and then covered with heaping portions of mozzarella (and only mozzarella). But Amy lived in Columbia, MO and I lived in the LOU, so we only got to enjoy Cicero’s when she came and visited. You’d assume that would be often, but I lived with four other guys, and my room was in the flooding basement, so her visits were few and far between. One Valentine’s Day I wanted to do something special, but also something affordable, so I went to Cicero’s and asked them if I could buy all the ingredients for the pizza so that I could bake it fresh for Amy in Columbia. Surprisingly they were happy to do it. They filled up a canister of dough, a container of their sauce, their special spice, tons of their cheese, and some pepperoni. And I took those ingredients with me all the way to Columbia, put them together on a pizza stone, and made the best god damn Cicero’s pizza I could. That is a great example of how much I liked Cicero’s, and why I earned the nickname Zima.

So, since moving back I had only been to Cicero’s twice (mind you I work about twenty steps away), but for some reason I found myself there three times in the past week. Seemed like a good time to give you my thoughts about the place as a whole.

I don’t need to elaborate much on the pizza. It’s delicious, and probably my second favorite pizza in St. Louis (behind Katie’s). It’s thick and amazing and filling (that’s what she said). But don’t confuse it for Chicago-style. It’s just thick, not stuffed. The best one is the Sicilian followed by the Super Pig, for what it’s worth.

Before I recap what I ordered there the past week, let me also say I’ve had a couple of the pastas there and they are very typical, and very satisfying. Are they “great” or “unique”? No. But they are tasty and filling. And really, pasta all tastes the same, unless it’s done really, really well.

On my first visit this past week I got the Cicero’s Special Salad with the fat-free raspberry vinaigrette. The salad comes with all the things you’d expect, along with pepperoni, ham, salami, and egg. It’s not huge, but all the meats make it really filling, so the size actually is perfect. I’m sure the dressing just comes out of a giant can and isn’t different from anything else 100 other St. Louis restaurants serve, but the meats are a great combo that compliment each other well. The price tag is $7.99, which I think is about $1 too much. Why $1? I don’t know, but as it stands, it’s the same price as their wraps, and that doesn’t seem right.

Speaking of the wraps, that’s what I ordered the third time I went. Specifically, the Chicken Teriyaki Wrap. They say it has lots of vegetables, and they weren’t lying. Not that I’m a big vegetable guy, but the fact that this thing is like 50% chicken and 50% veggies is a great balance. It makes it filling, but also more flavorful. The sauce is actually really good as well. It does taste like it’s somewhat fresh and not out of a can (which it could be, for all I know), and the wrap is grilled and is piping hot, which is nice. But what’s weird is that the sum is not greater than the parts (or however that saying goes). Something about it just makes it “OK”. But it does come with fries (or onion rings, if your heart so desires), so that helps.

And on my middle visit I was suffering from a hangover and needed something greasy, so I chose one of their half-pound burgers. I was waffling between the Cicero’s burger and the Patty Melt, and opted for the Patty Melt. The fact that it was served on marble rye made my decision for me. And all I can say is “eh”. Not great, not terrible. It’s a burger. Nothing really worth talking about it. At $8.59 (with fries) it’s definitely a better value than the salad, but again, just an average burger. The only other thing worth mentioning is that Aaron got his burger on garlic bread, and the bun is sub shaped, so the patty is also formed sub shaped to fit the bun. Just thought it was funny. But also shows that the patties are made fresh to order, which is a good feeling.

So, after sampling just about everything on the menu, I think it’s safe to say you can come for the beer (over 100 available), and stay for the thick-crust pizza. Everything else is just very, very, very average.

As a whole Cicero’s doesn’t deserve a chest bump, but that’s exactly what I’m going to give it because that’s how much I like the pizza.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Restaurant: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse
Location: Every major metropolitan area in the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and around the world.

I was in the Whale’s Vagina last week (that’s San Diego, in case you didn’t know. And if you didn’t, then you’re a poor excuse for a human being.) for work, and after a long day of meetings we were looking for someplace to eat. Unfortunately we weren’t staying in the heart of San Diego, but more like the ‘burbs of San Diego (near Del Mar). It’s a beautiful area, and I’m sure everyone there loves living in the Chesterfield/Naperville of southern Cal. That being said, your choices become a little more limited when staying in the ‘burbs versus in the city. So, after spending 10 minutes talking to the concierge for a dinner reco, we ended up just going the two blocks down to Ruth’s Chris.

Have you ever noticed that concierges never give you good recos? They always just tell you the places they think you’ll like because you’re a visitor/tourist, rather than just tell you the really good, insider places that said city has. If you want a good reco, you have to corner a waitress or local and get the real scoop. So annoying. I mean this guy was mentioning Ruth’s Chris as if we’d never heard of it before and it was the greatest steakhouse in the greater Saint Diego region. Quick question: when I say “so annoying” did I sound like a 14 year old girl or am I crazy?

Anywho, Ruth’s became the choice because we were tired of listening to the concierge talk, it was easy/close, and I’d actually never been (because I hate chain sit-down restaurants, and with roughly 1 billion Ruth’s Chris joints around the globe, it’s definitely a chain). And steak actually sounded really, really good. And you know what? It was.

Walking in, the place embodied everything I hate. Pretentious, snooty, and cold (and I’m not talking temperature cold, which would have been fine, because we might have seen a waitress or two nipping out). Not to mention the building itself had no character. Ruth’s Chris is a classic example of one of those things that I hate, but that 95% of America loves (kind of like Bud Light commercials). But, the service was pretty good. Friendly hostess, and our waitress was super nice, very attentive (but not annoying), and helpful.

After looking over the menu for a bit, it was clear there was only one choice for me – The Porterhouse for Two, although I demanded it be renamed to The Porterhouse for Two for One. The waitress said it was a 40 oz. cut of meat, which is child’s play, if you ask me. And, quite frankly, it’s an appetizer compared to the 64 oz. Porterhouse I demolished at Chicago Chop House a couple years back. And I might have shied away from the $80 price tag normally, but the choice was made a bit easier once I remembered I was ballin’ on an expense account.

Once I knew what I was going to go with for an entrée, I then had to work backwards to see what else I might want to complement it. I decided not to waste my time with a salad, because they brought out some bread to hold me over. And it was really good. Not that there was anything special about it, other than the fact it was fresh out of the oven (or microwave) and piping hot. Tough to beat warm bread, though the hot buns in Tijuana might have given it a run for it’s money. Especially when it’s smothered in butter (the bread, not the buns. But come to think of it…). And I was able to sneak a bite of Jeff’s Vine Ripe Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella Salad. Really good.

So, knowing I wasn’t getting an app or a salad, I decided to go with some garlic mashed potatoes for my side item. We actually ordered them for the table, along with some onion rings. I was off fried food for the week, so I had to stick to my guns and didn’t get to sample the o-rings, but they looked f-ing delicious. Lucky for me the mashed potatoes were mouth-watering. Soaked in butter, with just a hint of garlic, they were as smooth as a totally waxed 18 year old (and yes, that’s a good thing).

But you don’t want to hear about side items and salads. You want to hear about the steak. And I’m happy to tell you about it. As I mentioned before, it was a 40 oz. cut of steak. And it was thick. I’m talkin’ Sally Struthers thick. Before they deliver the steak to your table they top it with about a pound of butter to help keep it hot and make it extra juicy. And it works. Not only that, they also cut the steak for you. Granted, the pieces are cut so big they’d choke Linda Lovelace, but it still makes it a little easier. And when it comes down to it, the steak was really good. I can’t emphasize enough how much I hate chain restaurants, but this was still one of the better steaks I’ve had. I liked it better than Chicago Chop House, or Keefer’s, for example. Now, it’s no Citizen Kane’s, but it’s still pretty enjoyable. The secret is the butter, though adding butter to anything makes it taste better, so I’m not sure how big a secret it really is. At one point I had to back away from the table and go for a quick walk to bathroom just to get stuff moving around. And once I did finishing the last couple bites was a snap. I’m not gonna lie, I’m really proud of myself. And incredibly disgusted with myself. But of course I’d do it again in a heartbeat, if my heart still beats after these kinds of meals. Assuming I wasn’t paying for it, of course.

So, reluctantly, I have no choice but to give Ruth’s Chris a chest bump.

And you’ll be happy to know we had a nice little chat with our cocktail waitress back at the hotel bar after dinner, and she was able to give us actual insight into some places to check out next time we’re in from out of town. Needless to say, I’m almost looking forward to going back to the Waukegan of San Diego.