Tag Archives: restaurant review

Shirley’s Country Kitchen

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My darling hubby drives by this little “mom and pop” a lot and so he decided that maybe we should try it.  We went for a late breakfast and all three of us were pretty hungry!  We left hungry too.  Well, maybe not the baby…she happily downed the cold pancake.

The atmosphere is friendly and the chairs are GREAT but they have no room to pull the lovely big chairs OUT.  They could actually benefit from removing about 6 tables.

I had, what they called a “Big Breakfast”.  There certainly could have been more home fries, my toast was so cold it was rubbery (the same goes for the pancake I mentioned earlier) and they, like so many others, don’t really know how to make a good over-easy egg.  The biggest beef I had (besides the cold toast & pancake) was that they used MARGARINE on my toast.  I absolutely HATE when people ruin my toast with margarine.  It should be a crime to do so unless they ask or it is written in the description (so I can tell them to use BUTTER)!!!  To make it look bigger it was served on what would NORMALLY be a household serving tray.  It was a pretty tray and our daughter kept trying to take it from me because she liked the butterflies on it but it sort of makes you feel a bit like a pig when your food comes on a TRAY rather than a plate!

The man whom I will NOT let pick places alone again, had corned beef hash and eggs.  He’s not usually picky about HOW his eggs come but when he saw how little there was, even HE asked if I thought they used small eggs as he scowled down at his plate!  He used to corned beef hash coming PILED on a plate.  His toast was cold, rubbery and made with margarine too.  Neither of us were completely upset but we weren’t exactly happy either.

We saw precious little of our waitress so she got precious little of a tip from us.  We are usually fairly big tippers too!

As SOON as we walked out the door we started discussing where to go to get something to fill the void that was still present after our meal.

 

 

FIREBIRDS Wood Fired Grill

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We went to go to a movie this afternoon and got sidetracked!  It happens a lot, actually.  We’re use to it.  SOOOO…instead of going to a movie we ended up going shopping.  Being lunchtime, we were both getting hungry and were discussing where to go THIS time when we started past a side of the mall that we don’t usually go by.  There, as big as life, was our answer…Firebirds!  Neither of us had ever been there and we came to our usual conclusion…how bad can it be?

We were VERY pleased when we walked in!  It was lovely.  It looks classy and clean but not in a stuffy way.  We didn’t feel, at all, uncomfortable sitting down to eat in clothes that were MEANT for a movie date, not a dinner.  Of course, knowing us, I try plan for these sort of things so I luckily had made him dress in a decently nice t-shirt instead of one of his MANY tye-dyed ones.  I had actually chosen to wear one of my best shirts.  I don’t know what possessed me to do this, it’s not normal for me to dress THAT nice for a movie!  I guess I just looked at it this morning and suddenly said to myself…I HAD said I bought it because I could wear it out on a “normal” basis (which I hadn’t done yet)!!!  Plus, it is long-sleeved so I wouldn’t need to wear my jacket into the theatre but my arms still wouldn’t get cold!

ANYWAY…..

Right off the bat, we we’re happy to see CLOTH napkins!!!  Nothing is worse than walking into a classy looking place and having flimsy little paper napkins.  I don’t mind if they have those REALLY nice paper napkins, the kind that make you look twice to make sure their paper…but I always prefer cloth.  It’s just says “classy”.  The salt and pepper shakers were even classy!  They were stone.  Not a stone “look”…actually STONE!  Okay, maybe they were heavy ceramic…I don’t know, I’m not an expert.  Whatever!  They were VERY cool.  And more importantly, they were the only thing on the table!  I really hate all the crap they pile on the tables nowadays.  If you need sugar, ketchup, A-1, etc…ASK FOR IT!!!  The wait-staff were all dressed “alike” too.  So there would never really be a question as to who worked there and who might be a customer.  The women were dressed in all black outfits and all had the same silver belts on.  The men were dressed in all black too (sans silver belt!).  Very nice!

The menu seemed small, at first, but they have different menus for dinner and supper.  Although it seemed small, was still fairly hard to choose what to try!  It all looked SO tasty!

This is what we had;

It was easy to pick an appetizer, we both zeroed in on the Ranch Rings!  Tagged as; Buttermilk-battered onion rings with panko bread crumbs and served with Roasted Garlic Ranch Dressing.  It sounded SO good but…it was even BETTER then it sounded!!!  It was one of those dishes that your head tells you there was a large amount but you almost cry when they’re gone!!!  The ranch ITSELF was so good, we held on to it “just in case” (a GOOD choice…keep reading!).

After reading the menu some more we asked our sweet little waitress for an opinion on some of the things.  Now…she could have lied and told us everything was great, but she earned major points for telling the truth.  She doesn’t eat red meat, so she couldn’t really help us on taste.  While this sort of thing is appalling to the two of us on certain levels, it’s a personal choice and we are NOT going to give her crap about working in a steakhouse…especially since she chose not to lie about it!

I ordered the Steak Sandwich with a side of Steak Fries (with no seasoning, please).  The waitress said it was NOT like those other places that make them with “those shredded steaks”, it was made with a Delmonico cut of steak.  Okay, sounded good to me!  I somehow still thought it would be CUT UP.  We are talking it was an actual STEAK on a bun!!!  I had my doubts that it could be eaten like this…then I took a bite.  It was SO tender and practically melted in your mouth!  But I did seem to have a problem keeping it on the bun.  So rather than offering up my good shirt to the “grease gods”, I took it off the bun and ate it like the buttery steak it was!!!  The bun by itself was still just as tasty, too.  The fries were freezer fries BUT…..they were the high quality kind that make you not care that you know they aren’t fresh!  WELL DONE, Firebirds, for making me eat every single freezer fry on my plate!!!

My darling had SAID he was going to get sirloin but then he ordered the A-1 Burger with a side of their Seasoned Steak Fries.  He was a little worried about it being “pepper crusted” but figured he could scrape it off if it was too much.  It wasn’t.  He said it was pretty peppery but not so much that it over-whelmed the taste of the burger.  He scraped off a bit so I could try a bite (I don’t care for pepper)…it was to DIE for!  So juicy and tender!  He, who hates freezer fries more than I do, ate every fry on his plate as well!!!

I mentioned that we were happy that we had saved the ranch from the rings.  We used it for dipping our fries in!  I think we might ASK for this ranch next time JUST so we can dip our fries in it!!!  The fries are decent enough to eat, sans sauce but with a dish of that wonderful ranch sitting there…we HAD to try it!

They had brought us a loaf of bread as well.  It turned out to be a light sour-dough type bread!  It was really good but VERY messy!!!  It left crumbs everywhere but we both agreed it was worth a little mess for a really good bread!

We would highly recommend this place to anyone!  There were several children there as well and even though we didn’t SEE them, when asked about high chairs, they said “of course”.  We wouldn’t hesitate going there again, even if we had our darling daughter with us!  The children’s menu is nicely varied too.

As for the bathrooms…

They will make you want to redecorate your bathroom!  They were GORGEOUS!!!  They even had REAL candles set into the walls (even in the stalls!).  The SINK was even awesome!  I’m pretty sure that if I take my mom there, she won’t be back for a while!  Heck, I wanted to sit there and enjoy it for longer than needed myself!!!  As sad as it sounds for my last thought…ladies, make sure you don’t miss the bathroom when you go!  Even if you don’t have to “go”, GO!!!    ;^)

 

Red Lobster

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Red Lobster is a fall back eatery for us.  The atmosphere is predictable, in a comfortable kind of way.  We like it, in general, but always have to ask for a table because the booths are crammed so tight neither of us feels like we can breathe, let alone EAT while in one.

We like the new wood grilling that they use now, it really does add a whole other level of flavor to the food even without any sauces or spices all over it.  They are also very good about children…even when other patrons are not.  More on that later.

This trip, we decided to take our sweet little daughter with us.  She is only 21 months old and she enjoys her voice…a LOT.  She is usually well-behaved but a little too loud, no matter where we are.  She laughs at anything, loudly, and she currently loves to point out colors and numbers on everything and she’s likes to sing and dance, even when she doesn’t know the song.  She can read quite a lot of words now so any time she sees one, she screams IT out as well.  We’re quite proud of her…but we need to work on her “inside voice”.

We chose lunch time since it is not as busy so it’s generally better for taking a small child.  Or having a quiet date…in case anyone is wondering.  It’s just a less rushed feel, all around, at lunch time.  We went for a late enough lunch so we got to order from the supper menu though, since I like it better than the lunch menu.  Not that there’s anything wrong with the lunch menu…I just prefer some of the items on the supper menu that aren’t available for lunch.

I’m still not very good at ordering from the children’s menu.  You might think this is weird but we have always just fed our sweetie whatever we are eating.  She was gnawing on steak and broccoli at 8 months old!  She has allergies that prevented us from feeding her jarred baby food (I was actually happy with this!) so she has not grown up with bland chicken fingers and boxed mac and cheese.  She’s grown up with homemade four-cheese baked macaroni and baked cheesy spiced chicken fingers and baked tilapia fish nuggets.  Choosing mac and cheese and chicken fingers (her favorite at home) is a dicey deal at a restaurant!!!

Our menus;

This is another place that I like Red Lobster.  On their children’s menu there are decent food items!  I ordered her a wood grilled chicken filet and mashed potatoes.  I asked a few questions about the smoothies (allergies again) then ordered her a strawberry smoothie as well.  I asked if the chicken was cut up and it was not.  This cuts into MY eating time but, whatever, it’s “my job”.

We each got the Shrimp Bruchetta, me without tomatoes…and YES they are accommodating enough to make bruchetta without TOMATOES!!!

I got the ultimate feast but changed it to suit me, they are SO good about making changes.  I changed the fried shrimp to grilled shrimp and the scampi to scallops (I don’t mind up charges for things that will obviously cost more!).  I got the caesar salad, the rice pilaf for my side and a glass of triple berry sangria to drink.  I didn’t care for the sangria but it’s not that it was actually BAD, it just wasn’t what I really wanted, I guess.  As I’ve said before, I’m just not a drinker and I’m picky when I do drink.  I switched to water with lemon after that.

My husband got the surf and turf deal, I actually can’t remember exactly what he had…I was busy with the baby!  I know he had a lobster tail and a steak, both of which he said were great!  I know he had broccoli too, because he gave it all to Rachel who woofed it down like she hadn’t seen it in a month (she has it about twice a week, on average!).  I really think that other than his caesar salad, that’s all he had.  He’s not home while I’m writing this…or I’d ask him!  I have to start taking a pen and notepad with us.  This would help with descriptions and weirder menu names and stuff like that too!  I’ve GOT to remember that!

If you’ve never been to a Red Lobster, you get cheesy garlic rolls.  If your waitress doesn’t bring them with your salad, ask for a different waitress because she’s not doing her job!!!  They are a basic!

I take FOREVER to eat, especially when you throw crab legs into the mix.  This doesn’t go well with an almost 2-year-old.  As luck would have it, she was in a really good mood and felt that she had a good audience.

I loved my food…all of it (except the sangria already mentioned).

Todd loved his food, except the broccoli that he foisted off on the baby!  They make a good steak there!

Rachel loved her chicken and Daddy’s broccoli but wasn’t sure about the smoothie at first (it was more like a strawberry milkshake and probably a disappointment next to the breakfast smoothie Mama always makes!) but she warmed up to it quickly enough.  The SECOND the waitress put her plate down she grabbed up a handful of potatoes and shoved them in her mouth.  She got a funny look and spit them out.  This distressed the waitress, for some reason (maybe she made them herself), I reached over and took a forkful myself.  They were plain…not even butter, salt and pepper.  I explained that she just wasn’t used to plain potatoes and they were fine.

Our waitress was sweet but not very good.  She was really good with our orders and even cut up the baby’s chicken while she was waiting for them to finish plating our dinners!  This earned her Bonus Points that actually got her the tip she got instead of the one she really “deserved”.  I even liked her enough to let it slide that I fished my extra lemon out of our waters!!!

The only thing that I REALLY mark as a downside to our visit was a few of the other patrons.

First, a guy asked to be moved as soon as we were seated.  When asked if there was a problem, he said he didn’t come to listen to babies cry through his meal.  They moved him but I was deeply offended!!!  She hadn’t even finished looking around enough to start talking loudly let alone CRY!!!

Then there was a couple who, when escorted our way, said they would prefer a “child-free” area!  Again, I was livid!!!  She was laughing and telling the waitress “OOOHH…Tank Oo” (Thank You), for bringing her smoothie!

We finally had a nice older gentleman (who smelled like moth balls but was really sweet) seated next to us.  He made faces at her and commented on her counting and reading and was just a wonderful man!  He didn’t order much and was gone fairly quickly though.

After that we had a lady and her daughter and they were very sweet and coo-ed over the “pretty little girl”, as most women will do.

So after being SO angry earlier…at least I got to have a nice calm end experience.  I just wish people would think before they say things so hurtful.  Or at least wait until it’s justified to ask to be moved!!!

 

 

Aoyama

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We LOVE Aoyama!  We love sushi, seafood, rice (especially fried rice) and steak so it stands to reason that we would love Aoyama.

The show alone makes the hibachi seating worth it but, no matter WHAT, food from the kitchen is never quite the same as food cook, expertly, right in front of you!  The feel of the heat on your face as the flames burst upwards…there’s nothing like it!!!  Granted, we’ve seen MANY children freak out and have to be escorted away to be soothed but if properly prepared, or if they are old enough, the look of shocked awe is SO fun to see!

As you may have guessed, we were seated along with three young ones that had never seen such a thing before.  They were thrilled and as cool as the boys tried to look, it was still evident on their faces.  The little girl had no qualms about showing how she felt!  After watching them through the “flame-up”, we settled in to watch our food being tossed about with amazing skill !!!

Down to our menu.

We both had the Seafood Deluxe(which includes lobster, shrimp and scallops) with a Filet Mignon add-on (it was only a dollar cheaper than surf and turf with a scallop add-on but HEY, that’s two bucks saved!).  I had double soup instead of a soup and a salad since I don’t care for their salad dressing.  I know from experience though that they will put the dressing on the side or even give you a plain salad if you happen to have a packet of your favorite dressing with you.  In case you’re wondering, YES, I have done that!  Don’t judge me, I’m actually very picky about my salad dressings!  If I can’t decide on a packet, I’ll pack up my own in a Tupperware kit cup.  After all, if I’m willing to take a bag full of containers somewhere because I KNOW I’ll have leftovers…why wouldn’t I take my own dressing?  My hubby is such a patient man.

I had the Oolong tea and Todd stuck to water (to help thin out the “sodium sweats” he so hates).  Everything comes with; the above mentioned soup and salad, mixed vegetables and rice (either fried or steamed).  We always choose fried rice, since we adore it.  This time, Todd ordered double rice…that’s how much HE loves it!

I had rice and a few shrimp left (I chose to leave shrimp left because I had a “leftover plan”, as my darling husband aptly calls it).  Todd had nothing but a few veggies left…which I packed up as well.

We knew that since we were going for lunch, we wouldn’t want a real supper but would still be peckish later on, so we ordered sushi to go.  I got the Super Roll (which is no longer on the menu but they will still make it if asked) with no red peppers please, and my darling had the Kimono Dragon roll.  They were both wonderful as well but, this time, they weren’t very well rolled so they tended to fall apart while we were eating them.  No big deal to us, we just used forks to support them instead of our chopsticks.

Speaking of chopsticks…that would be my only real complaint.  It probably wouldn’t be a problem for most but they switched chopsticks.  They now have the cheap crappy ones that are flat on the end and attached at the other end.  We prefer the ones that are separate and have the slightly pointy end, this makes it much easier to pick up small items such as a pea or other small vegetables.

We normally take our own from home but this time we were actually headed somewhere else and changed our minds at the last minute.  THIS is one reason, why I think we should keep a full set of utensils in the car.  Fork, spoon, knife AND chopsticks for each of us and a sharp knife to share.  We have run into situations where you are apparently expected to cut meat with a flimsy spork…so I think an emergency kit of utensils is called for…Todd doesn’t.  I will win the battle, in the end, because…well, I am a woman.  Plus, it’s my car and he has no idea what’s in it NOW, so he’ll never know if I add a fork or two.  ;^)

 

Our first review!

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Okay, here goes our first review.  This is a review of the restaurant that caused us to start a review blog in the first place.

Fox and Hound English Pub and Grille.

As SOON as we walked into the restaurant, we should have realized that this was NOT the place we thought it was.  The ONLY thing “English Pub” about the place was that the decor was mostly brown and wooden.  The music was too loud and NEW.  This place screamed yuppie and we were out-of-place right from the go.

Not to be turned away by merely not fitting in (since we’re use to that one!), we decided it might be nice to have some real English food for a change.  I, for one, was seriously hoping for some nice hearty stewed cheese or maybe even a rarebit!  Alas, there was NO proper English food on the ENTIRE menu!!!  We should have paid for our watery drinks and left right then!  We didn’t, and here’s the disaster that followed.

Our order was as follows;

– Top sirloin with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Crispy Onion Strings

– French Dip Sandwich with Au Jus and French Fries

– Pretzel Dunkers with Horseradish Mustard Dip and Queso Dip

– To drink, I ordered a Cherry Cola (real, not the canned crap) and my husband ordered a Jim Beam and Ginger Ale (his favorite)

While we waited, we thumb through the various menus that were propped up on the table.  This lead me to order a drink called a Cherry Cream Soda.

Okay, first came the Pretzel Dunkers.

They seemed to be cut up soft pretzel that were fried to the point of being almost burnt.  They were SO crunchy they were distracting and they had virtually NO flavor left after their harsh treatment.  The queso was…well, we’ll say, interesting.  Queso isn’t really either of our favorites anyway, but we both tried it.  The only redeemable part of our appetizer course was the Horseradish Mustard.  It was delicious and spicy without being overwhelming.

My Cherry Cream Soda came somewhere in between this and after both trying it…we pushed it aside never to be drunk!!!  It was tagged as having vanilla vodka, gernadine and a splash of soda.  It was a weird pink frothy cream soda.  ALL you could taste was the vanilla vodka and neither of us could tell it was supposed to have cherry in it at all.  When our waitress asked if I liked it and was told politely, NO I did not, I somehow expected her to take the offending beverage away.  Instead, it sat on the corner of the table for the rest of the meal…a dismal $6 reminder of why I rarely drink.

Then our food started towards us!!!  This is when we start to get excited, anticipating the lush food that we didn’t have to cook ourselves, for once!  Mind you, I’m particularly happy at this point because it’s been something like six weeks since I’ve gotten to go ANYWHERE without our darling 1 1/2-year-old daughter!!!

It was an immediate let down.

The food was just slapped on the plates with no care for presentation whatsoever!  My husband was quite upset at the fact that the sandwich was nowhere near as big as the waitress had indicated (she was asked specifically, after all) and there were hardly any fries (which are cheap enough to give at least double that amount)!!!  I was aghast at the lack of care put into my plate, altogether.  I think our daughter could have put the potatoes on the plate in less of a splattered mess and the onion strings (that looked so beautifully placed on the steak in the picture) were just thrown on top of the plate like they were hurled at it as it was carried out the door!

Oh well, you can’t judge a book by its cover, as they say.  Unfortunately, the cover indicated EVERYTHING in this case!!!

The first bite of my husband’s sandwich proved the meat to be stone cold and fairly tasteless, as was the same with the roll used.  So, as I got busy cutting my steak, he DIPPED the cold-cut sandwich into the thick, oniony, salty soup they were calling an Au Jus.  After balking at it, he made me try it and it turned out to be nothing more than french onion soup base and water (and NOT enough water).  He opted to smear the horseradish mustard (which we saved from the dunkers) on the sandwich instead of risking a spike in blood pressure from too much salt!  As for the fries…his LEAST favorite thing in the world…”freezer fries”, as he calls them.  You know them, the dried out, bland, cheap-crap fries that most places serve nowadays!  The ones you have to DROWN in ketchup just to get down and the number one reason we try not to order fries very often.  Even our dogs will only eat a few, and they are complete PIGS when it comes to potatoes (even stealing them RAW from the basket).

On to my poor plate.  The steak was tough around the edges but alright in the middle, although, someone in the kitchen needs to learn the difference between the medium RARE that I ordered and the medium (bordering on medium well) that I got.  Whatever, as long as it doesn’t moo at me…I’ll generally eat it (we both will).  But it, too, was cold and nothing more than a cheap, fairly tasteless steak.  I never ask for steak sauce until after I’ve tried my steak (I like to hope for the best) but after just three bites, I called for the A-1.  The potatoes barely tasted of garlic, which is typical of the boxed, instant kind smeared, unceremoniously, over that half of my plate.  The onion string were much the same, the type you can get in industrial packages and you flash-fry them back into their bland life.  I wouldn’t have minded the onion strings so much if the entire dinner hadn’t smacked of freezer meal.

That was the general assessment of both of us.  It was a cheap, freezer-made meal that we just paid through the nose for!  Overall, the price wouldn’t have been bad for a dinner for two with a couple of drinks…if it had been a REAL meal.

After such a disappointing meal, my husband ordered a second drink (which is rare) and the check, while I excused myself to the bathroom.

After sitting in the cold (did I mention how cold it was in there?  Half the women there still had their coats on.), dark, brown-toned room for so long it was QUITE a shock to walk into such a bright weird lime-greenish ladies room!  *shiver*  I’ll try to forget that color, but I’m afraid it may haunt my dreams!

Overall, we feel we wasted our precious time alone on crappy food and atmosphere.  We were hoping for real English fare and we got typical American lack-luster fare.  We aren’t massively picky, but COME ON !  At least CARE !!!