Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pasta Amore

Restaurant: Pasta Amore e Fantasia
Address: 11027 Prairie Brook Rd - In Rockbrook Plaza
Genres: Italian
Check Constraints: $1 less for half portions, $3 to split portions (no soup or salad)
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: No.


  • Tortellini w/ Bolognese sauce. ($10)
  • Cup of Minestrone Soup. (Included)
  • Panna Cotta. ($4)
Chamelaeon doesn't have the mental strength to start this one out today, so I guess I will. I ought to be the resident expert on authentic Italian food. My honeymoon was a tour of Italy, during which I ate a ton of amazing Italian food. Unfortunately, I don't remember a lot of the details. My mental picture of Italian has become Olive Garden. Even so, I could tell there were plenty of authentic things about this restaurant.

The restaurant itself is in the back of the Rockbrook Plaza. There isn't a ton of parking there, so I was a little surprised to see so few people in the restaurant. That actually changed quickly after we sat down. We probably came in just before the lunch rush. There was an older lady who greeted us at the door, and she sounded like she had a bit of an accent. She came by once in a while to refill our water and check on us in addition our regular waitress, who seemed to be fairly busy. The website and front door claim "true Italian" food exists inside, and I would tend to agree. The website also mentions that the master chef was trained in Italy.

First, the rolls. Rolls were everywhere in Italy. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The typical roll was a white bread that was nearly rock solid on the outside with a soft center. The rolls here were more of a wheat bread and had a lot softer crust. They were not exactly the same, but they were good nonetheless.

The minestrone was great. The vegetables were soft, and the noodles were not too soft. I actually expected them to be softer, but I'm guessing that's because I'm used to microwave-heated, canned soups. We only got a small cup with our meals, so it was gone fast. I could easily have a larger bowl of it as the main dish.

I tried some of Cham's red pepper appetizer stuff. It was quite different and felt fairly authentic. I don't remember what it was called, but it was a good sized portion of red pepper strips that were served cold with olive oil and some other seasonings. It was a strange slippery texture with a mild red pepper taste. It's probably not a dish for everyone. The garlic cheese bread was decent. It seemed like a smaller portion that was made for two. I didn't try the bruschetta.

The tortellini was pretty good. It was simply beef and pork in noodles with sauce on top. The bolognese sauce is red meat sauce. I thought some of the tortellini were a little dry on the inside. If most of them were, the sauce covered it up well. It was a reasonable portion for the price.

Panna Cotta is an Italian custard. I first heard of it in Italy, and I actually haven't seen it around since. It's not really an American-style dessert. It is heavier than whipped cream and lighter than ice cream. This one was served chilled with a little bit of berry sauce on top. I think it was blueberry, but it could have been mixed berries. There was also a think layer of something a little less opaque than the white custard. The panna cotta was really sweet and creamy, and I think it was close to what I remembered. It was actually very good. I was impressed to see it on the menu, and it did not disappoint.

As a closing note, both our regular waitress and the other lady seemed curious about who we were. The other lady wondered if one of us had a birthday. She said people don't usually order desserts at lunch. The waitress was curious as to where we worked. She seemed impressed that we "knew our food". Maybe we were just surprisingly good at our pronunciation? We must have been rather atypical customers for them.

  • Roasted Red Peppers ($6)
  • Spaghetti Carbonara, Traditional ($10)
    • Pasta Fagioli
  • Mixed Berry Cake ($4)
It's been a pretty trying week at work, so I was looking forward to relaxing a little and enjoying some Italian food. I got the latter, but if you're looking for the former, you probably should look elsewhere, because Pasta Amore looks upscale, and the clientèle there seemed to match. White tablecloths, a full place setting, and people in suits made my business-casual self feel a little under dressed.
Don't let that stop you from going, though. The food is fantastic, and they could charge a great deal more than they do for it. I imagine you could do a lot worse for a dinner date out than approximately $14 per plate (the dinner prices are $3-4 more than the lunch prices), and the aforementioned ambiance makes it seem like you're paying a lot more than you are. Every entree comes with soup or salad, and the non-pasta dishes come with vegetables as well, so it's certainly affordable and eminently delicious.

Really delicious. The red pepper appetizer was easily enough to split for two - there were likely two red peppers, roasted and then skinned, drizzled with olive oil, lemon, and garlic, then dusted with parsley. The strong oil and lemon flavors did well with the equally strong pepper taste, which was just slightly sweet in the way red peppers have. It's served with a lemon as garnish, and if you're not afraid of seeming a little gauche, make sure to squeeze that onto the peppers for the extra hit of flavor.

I think I was the only one who ate any of ND's bruschetta, so let me proffer my opinion - steer clear. It was by no means bad, but it was essentially chopped tomato and green olives on toast, and in the manner of such things was heaped high enough such that it was hard to actually get it into your mouth. It lacked much flavor other than "Why, hello, I am fresh tomato", which is not the best flavor for your dish to have when actual ripe tomatoes are way out of season. It may be better in the summer, but for this visit, the cheese bread was superior, and is priced at the same cost.

Pasta fagioli, which I had never had before, is a tomato-based bean soup, with (not shockingly) pasta. The pasta was nice and al dente, which as Moogle mentions is not really something you get often in canned soups. Traditionally I'm a strict minestrone fan, but this was excellent also.

The spaghetti carbonara is not on the menu per se - it's part of their "Pasta By Request", which lets you pair a pasta with one of their sauces. They offer two carbonaras - "American" and "Traditional". Traditional carbonara is a fairly simple recipe: garlic, cooked pancetta, parmesan, pepper, and raw eggs cracked into the hot pasta which cooks them. This it may sound a little disconcerting, but it is incredibly delicious. Pasta Amore adds peas to it, for color more than anything. American carbonara adds cream and less egg, which takes the sauce closer to an alfredo than anything.
It was an excellent dish, though it could have been improved by adding a touch more parmesan.
I didn't pick up much of that flavor in it, so when asked if I wanted cheese, I gladly assented. Where I was expecting fresh grated parmesan, though, I got a shaker full of pregrated. I try pretty hard not to be a snob about such things, but honestly, the single largest improvement they could have made on my meal was fresh parmesan. It would have taken my dish from excellent to somewhere over the top of the Platonic ideal of Delicious.

The mixed berry cake was pretty good, for all that the berries were in no way fresh. It was a short-rimmed pie crust, filled with cream and them topped with a sponge cake slice, which was topped with the berries, and then drizzled with what I assume was a mixed-berry sauce, since I couldn't isolate any one berry flavor. For $4, it's a way better investment than the overpriced monstrosities at the Firewater Grille.

Unfortunately, I haven't been to Italy like Moogle has, so I can't speak to the actual authenticity of the meal. I can, however, say that it delivers awesome flavor for a definitely reasonable price, and it's well worth trying out for a lunch, and quite probably a dinner. You might bring a tie, though.


  • Fettucini Alfredo w/ Chicken & Shrimp ($10 + $1 + $2)
  • Cup of Pasta Fagioli Soup. (Included)
  • Tiramisu. ($4)
  • Tomato Bruschetta ($3)
  • Cheese Garlic Bread ($3)
Okay, first off, I was almost sorta uncomfortable with the atmosphere in this place. It's WAY more upscale than I'm accustomed to, let alone comfortable in. The place is both formal and cozy at the same time, and unfortunately, the tables are a tad close together, so at lunch, it's pretty easy for one loud table to overwhelm the ones near it.

The tomato bruschetta wasn't really what I expected, but it was cheap, so I don't mind. I am not, however, someone who can actually manage to eat non-processed tomatoes, due to a tragic childhood "accident." I actually got it for the others, because it was my turn to buy appetizers. The cheese bread, on the other hand, was just a smidge short of the best I've ever had, coming in second only to the Brazen Head's heavenly choir cheese bread. For three bucks, I'd buy it every time I went, without fail.

I had never before had Pasta Fagioli, and had no idea what it contained, but I did know that I'm not a huge fan of minestrone, so I went for it instead of a salad. I'm pretty sure I didn't expect to get a bowl of bean soup with some noodles in it, but the flavor was actually not bad at all, and I can have salad any time I want, so I don't regret trying it.

The tiramisu was pre-made, but tasted very much like it was made on-site, rather than shipped in. I'm fairly certain that it was a new batch made that morning, in fact, and it tasted nicely of everything it was supposed to. Especially the alcohol, which was there just enough to make its presence known without overwhelming the other flavors. For four bucks, I honestly expected a smaller portion or lower quality, and I'm happy to say I got neither.

I made a big show about possibly wanting to try something that -wasn't- alfredo, but in the end, I couldn't really decide on anything else, especially after Mecha and Jay took the two main contenders. They don't specifically say that they're willing to do both chicken and shrimp, but I asked for it and they did it without remark, which makes me happy.

The shrimp was only three pieces, but those three pieces gave me a wonderful, wonderful flavor. The shrimp was clearly pan-fried, but was nice and firm, and the sides were seared just enough to add both crispiness and delicious browned flavor. The chicken was nothing special, but there was a LOT of it, and I can get behind that.

The alfredo itself had an excellent consistency, perfect both for covering the meat and for sticking to the pasta, and also for mopping up with bread. That's a very hard consistency to achieve. The flavor was just on the good side of bitter, and clearly favored the cream over the parmesan, which may or may not be authentic, but either way, isn't my preference. That would have been just fine with me if they'd had fresh shredded parmesan, which can easily balance out the overly creamy flavor, but the grated stuff would have turned the sauce very dry if I used enough of it to get the right flavor.

I'd like to say that the alfredo told me something about this place, but if it did, I'm really not sure what it was. It could be that the chef makes an excellent alfredo, but for various reasons, they're not able to serve proper parmesan with it, and he hasn't adjusted the recipe for it. The alfredo certainly wasn't BAD, and definitely was among the best I've had in a long time. There's a big void in my information here, where I don't know why they have grated parmesan instead of the good stuff. Everything else about the place seemed authentic enough that they'd go the last mile for the good cheese. It leaves me feeling puzzled. Even with all that, though, I'd still go back for more. Maybe to try Cham's traditional carbonara.


  • Penne Alfio. ($10)
  • Cup of Pasta Fagioli Soup. (Included)
Yes, yes, I'm late. My brain has been elsewhere. The atmosphere definitely hints at upscale, much like Jaipur did. But they didn't seem too bothered. Although as others mentioned, they certainly paid us some attention.

I tried the cheese bread, but there was enough food that I stayed away from the Bruschetta. It was solid cheese bread and 3 bucks is just fine for it. The only having a couple pieces, though, is a bit of a downer, but make it 6 bucks and get more! The peppers were really nice, but Cham mostly covered why. Really edible for red peppers, which might be a bit surprising to some people.

The soup I'd never had before. It had a lot of things with interesting and odd texture, but a good flavor. I wouldn't mind eating it again, but big chunks like some of those made things really, really inconsistent, which is something I'm becoming more sensitive to. It didn't make things bad, but it's a personal niggle.

The Penne Alfio, to copy from the website, is "Penne with grilled chicken strips, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil." The pasta and chicken made it a pretty filling dish on its own, but the flavors were very subtle/light. It was tough for me to identify the artichoke hearts in it, but the taste itself on the overall was consistent and pleasant. I don't have any complaints about the dish, but maybe I've just been having too much of things with a stronger taste that I feel like I wanted something a bit heavier in the taste department. And in the end, I was too full for dessert, so I couldn't try that out. Maybe another time.

As a note, the people are also nice and friendly even when we weren't paying them. ;) Apparently losing water bottles is not the only thing I do, and they were very understanding about me leaving my credit card there. Did I mention the mind being elsewhere thing? We have become fairly used to long lunches at this point, but the overall speed wasn't too bad. If it wasn't such a hike, we might have made an hour-thirty. But ultimately, it's a pretty good place, and as Cham said, it makes you feel like you're paying more than you are a bit. Which isn't a bad thing at all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Out Of Town: Waffle House, Rolla MO

Restaurant: Waffle House
Address: 1405 Martin Springs, Rolla, MO
Genres: home-style, american
Check Constraints: None.
Chain: Nationwide, but mostly in the southern half of the States.

  • Coffee ($1.19)
  • Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Texas Melt ($4.14)
  • Cheese Grits ($1.54)
  • Regular Hashbrowns ($4.29)
    • Scattered
    • Smothered
    • Covered
    • Chunked
    • Diced
    • Peppered
    • Capped
Waffle Houses are practically an American institution. They're everywhere, they all look exactly the same inside, and they all have a jukebox that is full of songs, oddly enough, about the Waffle House. My compatriots looked at me funny when I said I wanted to put the Waffle House on the blog - after all, it's not like we'd stoop so far as to blog a visit to McDonald's. But I insist that the Waffle House Experience, such as it is, is a valuable thing which deserves a space in our hearts, in our minds, and most importantly on this blog.

Waffle Houses have great coffee, for starters. And it's reasonably cheap, to boot. The single problem with the coffee is that they have absolutely zero artificial sweeteners, at least at this location. So plan ahead, if Splenda is your cancer of choice like mine is.
The sandwich was good. Almost all the food at a Waffle House is cooked to order, so instead of that yellow tasteless brick you'd get in a McMuffin, your sandwich comes with a real cooked egg, over hard and crispy around the edges. Mmm, just how I like it! They only use American cheese for anything, which is kind of a minus, but hey. The sandwich comes with standard bread, but I always bump up to their thicker "Texas" cuts, since it helps the sandwich hold together better.

The hash browns are another Waffle House must-have. You can get them with a fascinating array of toppings, designated by their short-order waitress callsigns from Back In The Day. If you get a bunch of them they add up, but the bulk from a set of hashbrowns taken all the way to the limit on toppings is almost a meal in and of itself. If you toss some Casa de Waffle Salsa on top, it's dang filling.

I've had Waffle House grits before, but this was the first time I'd had them with a slice of American cheese on top. After some vigorous stirring, it had melted in and suffused the grits with a cheesy ... something. I won't go so far as to say it was goodness, but it was definitely cheesy. The grits themselves are definitely not instant. You can tell this because they are clumped together, so if you're a fan of the smoother grits which kind of approach a Cream of Wheat consistency, stay away. This winds up being like a soupy polenta, which I think is perfectly delicious.

I don't know if I could have lived with myself not putting this up here. Waffle Houses, while being a chain, keep a part of America alive. Well, perhaps not quite alive - it's more like they have it in a jar of formaldehyde on the shelf, but at least you can look at it when you're eating and remember. That has to be better than Starbucks.

... right?


... right. I suppose, in the end, that I have to agree with Cham. While I didn't actually eat any food on THIS trip, there's a reason that Waffle House is our breakfast of choice on Saturday morning during trips to Rolla. Saturday is always a long day at a convention, and a large Waffle House breakfast really helps. I woke up with a killer headache and negative hunger level this saturday, though, so I contented myself with coffee and a large glass each of chocolate milk and orange juice.

Normally, though, I get a sausage, egg, and cheese breakfast burrito, plus hash browns covered and chunked(in other words, with ham and cheese). Cham is absolutely right about the hash browns, which are always nicely done, and are absolutely wonderful with the salt from the ham plus a bit of pepper. I keep coming back to the breakfast burrito because it's the one I model my homemade ones on. Decent pork sausage, eggs scrambled only barely to the point where they won't drip out of the tortilla anymore, and cheese everywhere. Oh, and for some reason, a couple hamburger pickles on the side. I've been a huge fan of pickles since I was a kid, though, so that's just a free bonus.

Also, Cham is entirely correct about the coffee being excellent. Screw Starbucks and their gourmet crap, when I woke up with a pounding head, Waffle House coffee and a mouth full of ibuprofen had me feeling human again in half an hour. That's quality.

  • Orange Juice ($?)
  • A waffle ($2.79?)
  • 2 Eggs, Toast, and normal Grits ($2.99?)
The website, not so great on the detailing of the menu. Sigh. I didn't see Cham note that the place is a diner type, although that's not a hard guess, but I'll note it anyway.

The place is always solid, and a nice waffle for less than 5 bucks (seriously!) is not as common as one might hope. As one of the few people that actually orders a damn waffle at the place, (also something I do not understand) I enjoy it every time. And will continue to waffle out at the waffle house, as I am a sucker for things with syrup on them.

However, I tend to shift around my ideas on what to eat as sides. I think I'm going to have to try hash browns next time, because bacon is inconsistent, sausage is bleh, and I didn't like the normal grits too much (this was my first time trying straight grits, though.) The eggs are eggs, the toast is toast, I don't have much to add there. Perhaps I should just go with two waffles, and screw 'balance' in the interest of 'solid deliciousness.'

Out Of Town: Alex's Pizza Palace, Rolla MO

Restaurant: Alex's Pizza Palace
Address: 122 W 8th St, Rolla, MO
Genres: pizza, greek (No, that's not a typo)
Check Constraints: None we could find.
Chain: No.

  • Toasted Ravioli ($5.99)
  • Small Gyro Pizza ($9.99)
    • Gyro Meat
    • Onions
    • Tomato
    • Green Peppers ($1.49)
    • Mushrooms ($1.49)
    • Artichoke Hearts ($1.49)
Combining the two food styles of both the Greek and the Roman people would seem like a horrible idea, at first. How would you reconcile the centuries of conflict? Of drama? The natural pride of the citizenry? Well, Alex's has taken these considerations under careful thought. And then chucked them out the window, ushering in a new age of yummy Mediterranean brotherhood which threatens to almost make me like the city it lives in. Seriously, who can't get behind the concept of souvlaki and pizza in the same delicious place? Crazy people, that's who.

Rolla is ostensibly a college town, and Alex's clearly caters to this aspect. They do both takeout and sit down, and the restaurant itself isn't much to look at, nor is it very bright, large, or well-laid-out. But man, if you're going for ambiance, hit a Pizza Hut, and then consider what you're doing with your life that you are willing to forgo excellent pizza in favor of a comfy booth and an overhead fluorescent bulb.

And the pizza is excellent. The dough is clearly made there, smelling perfectly of yeast and having both a bit of crunch and a bit of softness to it. They don't offer deep dish or "pan" pizza, but the hell with that, you don't need it here. The sauce is tasty but a background flavor, which is just as it should be. Their selection of custom pizzas makes good use of the unique toppings on their list - gyro meat and pepperoncini? Outstanding. Mecha and I split a small, and we (okay, I) loaded it up with enough toppings it was hard to discern individual flavors anymore. Which is fine, because it was still delicious.

The fried ravioli was not quite as good. Fairly standard ravioli is served with their meat sauce, which is much better than average and might be something I'd actually put on pasta and eat straight up (they do serve that, actually). While average, it certainly wasn't bad. There were other appetizers as well, but I'll leave it up to ND and Mecha to outline them.

In short, come here, enjoy the food, and don't pretend you're here for anything else.

  • Cheese Balls ($6.69)
  • Calzone (Gyro meat, Extra Cheese) (6.99)
  • Soft Drink ($1.79)
I couldn't give a damn about ambiance, but out waitress was a veteran, and funny as hell. Also, damn good at thinking on her feet, and nailed Cham good on the delivery thing.

A summary:
Cham: Wait, lemme see a menu again, I need the prices.
Waitress: Here, I'll get you a takeout menu.
Cham: Thanks.
Waitress: oh, and by the way, we deliver.
Cham: I bet you don't deliver to Omaha.
Waitress: Well... we ship!

I don't know if they DO actually ship, but it was quick thinking, and I can get behind that. Especially since she was clearly very accustomed to dealing with college students who are 95% brain dead after long days of thinking.

The Calzone was good stuff, with their very good pizza sauce blending into the taste of cheese, meat, cheese, cheese, meat, and that's it. Their dough is a work of art, too. There's just one problem. Their calzone is a small pizza folded over on itself, omelette style, like most calzones are. I am a large man, but I'm sort of a buffet lightweight anymore, and I am NOT capable of eating a small pizza by myself, not even when I haven't eaten since breakfast, and especially not after a round of appetizers passed around the table.

Cham's fried ravioli is exactly the same as the actual ravioli dish that they serve. The ravioli main dish costs 50 cents more, and you get texas garlic toast for that fifty cents. As far as I could tell, it's roughly the same fried ravioli you could get at Wal-Mart in the freezer section, so I wouldn't bother with it. Instead, get the cheese balls or Mecha's garlic feta pita stuff.

The cheese balls come with a small cup of ranch dip, and rather than the 7 pieces or so of ravioli that you get, it's a small bowl FULL of deep fried cheddar cheese curds. Allow me to be absolutely clear on tihs point, this bowl is heaping over, and even though it's a small bowl, if you do not enjoy the hell out of an extremely cheesy cheddar taste, do not order this. I am a huge fan of cheese in general, and cheddar curds as well, so I bogarted almost the whole bowl. I'd consider ordering it again even if it came with a live bobcat.

If you're alone and don't have a massive stomach capacity, stay away from the calzone or be prepared to take the leftovers home. They do have boxes, and it will probably taste pretty good the next day, unlike that ungodly Gino's East place in Chicago. Screw Chicago, Alex's has the good pizza.

  • Pita Chips w/Tzatziki Dip ($2.99)
  • Pizza w/Cham
Cham and I split that pizza, so.

The pita chips were a baked pita with feta on it. And combined with the tzatziki (gyro sauce) they were amazingly tasty. For 3 bucks, you just can't ask for more. I mean, they really were good. I had to share so I didn't get lots of them, but they were just plain good. I'm not even the biggest fan of feta. I didn't rave over the cheese balls like ND and Cham were, but they were solid, and there was a good amount of them. Nothing to be sad about. The Ravioli was definitely surprisingly standard, and coulda probably been gotten most anywhere.

The pizza was a very busy pizza and I'm not sure I'd rate it over Roman Coin (another place in Omaha), but it was definitely in the same class of good, and as Cham detailed above, there were certainly an interesting mix of ingredient options. The Calzones, though, are far more impressive (and delicious) beasts in my opinion. But you can't load them down quite as well with a lot of ingredients, so you take your chances there.

I don't think anyone really went straight greek, just more of the greek/italian fusion. That might be worth checking out another time. Also, I left my water bottle there by accident and they didn't throw it out or lose it when I went back to get it the next day, so hey, good people. We didn't really get to try dessert either, as ND pointed out, we got plenty of food beforehand. Well, we'll be back eventually.

Out Of Town: Leonna's Kitchen, Rolla MO

Restaurant: Leonna's Kitchen
Address: 704 N Pine St, Rolla, MO
Website: None.
Genres: home-style, american
Check Constraints: None.
Chain: Not a chance.

  • Diet Coke ($0.79)
  • Hushpuppies ($1.59)
  • Street Car Sandwich ($4.79)
  • Cup of Chili ($2.59)
Every year around this time, three of the four geeks who contribute to this edifice travel down to Rolla, Missouri, for a roleplaying shindig. Paper and pencil roleplaying, yes. No, we didn't name the blog "geeks.rate(food)" on a total whim - we really are geeks. Witness a six hour drive one way, from Omaha to Rolla (and that's with your pedal pretty close to the floor). We decided that nothing about the blog itself precluded us from rating restaurants across the country, wherever we happened to roam, and so this and the next two posts will all be about restaurants in the Rolla area. Then it's back to business as usual.

Leonna's isn't exactly a hole in the wall, but it was hardly hopping. We were the only customers for a late Friday lunch. A quick google search shows that Leonna's is a regular meeting place for various church groups, so we imagine that it gets a little more crowded on a Sunday post-church. There was certainly no reason for it to be that empty - the food was solid hearty Midwestern fare.

If, like me, you were not familiar with the Street Car sandwich, let me enlighten you. It is at heart a patty melt - a disc of ground beef, served on a hoagie bun with grilled onions and mushrooms, swiss cheese, and a dollop of Thousand Island dressing (it's not on the menu, but it was definitely on the sandwich). It is a hard sandwich to botch but also a hard one to master, and Leonna's was a pretty damn good patty melt. All it lacked was the rye bread, which is perfectly fine with me as I'm not the world's biggest fan of caraway seeds in the first place. They do serve a patty melt, which must be practically the same thing with the rye instead of the hoagie. The price was more or less the same.

None of the sandwiches came with fries or other sides, so you've got to buy those separately. Luckily, the one I had was worth the extra cost. Deep fried cornmeal... what's not to love? I couldn't tell you for sure if the hushpuppies were made on-site, but it really doesn't matter. They were delicious, and cooked so that the very middle was just the slightest bit doughy.

The cup of chili, which was sorely needed on the frigid Friday we ate there, was nothing spectacular. It wasn't bland, but it didn't dance on my tongue with ecstatic flavor vibes either. Beans, meat, cumin, etc. It's a decent chili, and a rather large definition of the word "cup", which made it worth the cost.


  • Hushpuppies ($1.59)
  • BBQ Pork Steak with Taters and Corn ($5.99)
I went with the special that day in that empty diner. It was a nice piece of cooked sauce-covered meat that came with some very blah potatoes (they're freaking potatoes) and delicious corn (I do enjoy corn.) Good for the value, especially compared to the above sandwich. The meat itself was soft and probably would have tasted good on its own. I don't know how often they do this special, though, so who knows if you'll ever find it again. They do 'other' BBQ things, so you might run into the sauce again (which is most likely out of a bottle, although I think it's fine.)

The hushpuppies were just plain good. Having never actually had them before (for reasons I explained to Cham at length), it was good to have them. So much cornbread deliciousness.

Cham's got the environment/tone down right, although it's worth noting that it's also a smoking resturant, clearly. They also had desserts that we didn't try, but I sorta wish we did. Well, maybe another day. Or maybe not. After all, it's forever the hell away.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Thai Pepper

Restaurant: Thai Pepper
Address: 631 N 114th St - Inside a strip mall
Website: (currently down)
Genres: thai
Check Constraints: Do not appear to do split checks.
Chain: Possibly. With the website down, it's hard to check.
More Omaha Locations: No.


  • Vegetarian Hot & Sour Soup ($3.50)
  • Red Chicken Curry ($8.25)
    • Red Chicken Curry
    • Cabbage Salad
    • Rice
    • Fried Won-ton
  • Fried Banana ($5.00)
  • Diet Coke ($1.50)
Deciding where to do lunch this week was not a fast process. Many suggestions were floated, but after all this bouncing about we've been doing, our ability to make snap decisions about food has been drastically overworked. Additionally, I have been far too preoccupied building my wall of Diet Mountain Dew bottles. After a prolonged period of silence, we came to the (perhaps) inevitable conclusion that we were hungry for something from the Eastern hemisphere this time. Because it's been a while since I've had my taste buds seared off, I suggested the Thai Pepper.

For a restaurant which has used the questionable interior design choice of inverted paper umbrellas all over the ceiling, the food was good. The service could have possibly been a little better, and the delay from the kitchen was rather remarkable for a restaurant that wasn't all that busy; it took us easily an hour and a half from sitting down to standing up. Granted, we had a three course meal.

Speaking of, on to the meal itself. The curry was delicious, with a good flavor and a decent heat behind it. Thai Pepper, like some other thai places I have been, allows you to customize the heat of your meal on a 1-5 star rating. I went with the 4-star curry, since I've never been here before, and people's ideas of "5 star heat" tend to vary. I broke into a light sweat, but the heat was easy to handle and complemented the taste rather than utterly overwhelmed it. I'm sure it dulled my enjoyment when I tried the other dishes on the table, but when you go in for the high heat, you kind of expect such things. The curry was served with a salad, made of sliced cabbage, carrots, green onions, and sunflower seeds. It came with a peanut vinaigrette, something I've not had before but would certainly eat again. It also came with rice, and something which may not have exactly been a fried triangle of won-ton, but was certainly very close.

The soup was a unique experience. Carrots, squash (I suspect it was zucchini), onions, and tomatoes are not things I usually expect to find in my hot & sour soup, but it was very good nonetheless. The broth had what I consider to be the "standard" flavor, and the addition of the vegetables transformed it into something like a ratatouille. For $3.50, you're better off getting this as a starter than one of the appetizers, as I am sure one of the guys below will tell you.

Generally, I'm a big fan of fried things, but the fried banana did not quite live up to expectations. The breading added almost no flavor, just a crunch and the slightly browned taste that comes with frying. If it had a taste, it was overwhelmed by the (blessedly au naturel banana). Serving something closer to a Bananas Foster would likely have gone over a little better with me.

All in all, it's solid thai food. Their lunch menu differs from their dinner menu largely in just size and cost, and it's my guess they serve their dinners in what I call family-style, with large helpings meant to be split, or eaten by one hungry person.

Next time, I ask if they'll take it up to 6 stars.


  • Chicken Pad Thai ($7.75)
  • Ice Cream & Sweet Rice ($5.00)
  • Iced Tea ($1.50)
  • Thai Iced Tea ($3.00)
I was barred from eating both soups and a quarter of the stuff on the menu, as I'm fairly allergic to mushrooms. The appetizers below, though, were both good, but not good enough for the price. The chicken skewers came with a very mild peanut sauce that can't really be described as "there". The deep fried coconut-breaded shrimp wasn't as coconutty as I expected, either, but was still decent. At seven and eight bucks, respectively, though, give them a pass.

The thai iced tea is -well- worth getting, and when I accidentally ordered something just over the top of my heat comfort zone, it made the meal palatable. It's a very strongly brewed tea over ice and sweet cream. They apparently do the same with coffee, and it might even taste better, but the tea was amazing. I could easily have gone through more than one of them.

The ice cream and sweet rice was a decent dessert. A generous scoop of good vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and cherries on a bed of warm sweet coconut rice. It was pretty good. Maybe not five dollars good, but judge that one for yourself.

The chicken pad thai was actually pretty good, once I got past the heat. My normal maximum of heat is at BWW's Spicy Garlic sauce, and this was right around there, and this was pretty close to my upper limit. Luckily for me, it wasn't a lingering heat like the damage-over-time rasta pasta in an earlier entry. I could have done without the large chunks of green onion in it, but otherwise, it was pretty good. The noodles were too tender and slippery to eat easily with chopsticks, though, so I had to resort to a fork. The accompanying fried wonton triangle was exactly as bland as it sounds, but the salad, exactly the same as Cham's, was very good. The taste ended up being somewhat reminiscent of a slaw, because of the cabbage and vinegar, and the mixture of that with peanut and sunflower seeds was a really nice finish to the pad thai.

I'm not opposed to going here again, but if we do, I need to remember to get something based on rice, rather than noodles. Also, people who take it up to six stars scare me. Insane, all of them.


  • Coconut Shrimp appetizer ($8.00)
  • Basil Rice with Chicken ($7.25)
  • Diet Coke ($1.50)
We got five butterflied coconut shrimp with a side dish of sauce. They were good, but there wasn't very much for the price. They had a good crunchy coconut coating, and the sauce went very well with them. To me, the chicken appetizer wasn't that interesting. The peanut sauce was pretty good, but I couldn't really taste the other one. It was also seemed on the expensive side at $7.00 for 5 skewers.

I was a little afraid that the basil rice would have an overpowering basil flavor, but I was pleased to find out that it didn't. It had a good flavor with bits of red and green peppers, tomato, and basil. You also get a good sized portion for your money. I ordered it with Medium spice (two stars), which was a good level for me. It got my nose running a tiny bit, but it wasn't hard to eat. I think my upper limit might be three or four stars, depending on the dish. The side salad was a different sort of salad, but good. The dressing made it a bit sweeter. I could have eaten more of it, but they only give you a handful.

The fried banana was interesting. Warm, soft banana with a crunchy shell and served with ice cream. I have had fried candy bars before, and the breading was a bit much on that. I was afraid that it would get in the way with the banana, but it didn't. In fact, the flavor you get is mostly banana, and the breading just gives it a crunch. I didn't try the rice dessert.


  • Chicken Satay ($7.00)
  • Chicken Coconut Soup ($4.50)
  • Thai Pasta with Chicken Curry ($9.00)
    • Red Chicken Curry + Noodles
    • Cabbage Salad
    • Rice
    • Fried Won-ton
The Chicken Satay had a yellow curry on it, and came with a peanut sauce (mmmm) and a sort of cool cucumber/something watery dip or dressing. The satay was pretty slender, but tasty. I have to agree that it's not much for 7 bucks. The coconut shrimp was tasty but, again, 8 bucks. I'm a sucker for peanut sauces, though. Mmm. Ahem.

The Chicken Coconut Soup was almost curry soup, and it was fantastic. Hints of lemongrass and curry and a number of vegetables and chicken and really just delicious. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

The pasta with curry was very good. I got it at 2 stars, which was the minimum for that dish (all the curries minimumed at 2.) It wasn't overly hot, as curries are good at having warmth without burning lasting pain, but it was spicy and pleasant. Comparing to ND's dish, it seems that curries are a bit lighter than non-curries straight out. The mini-salad had a lot of good contrasts, and the dressing it came with was delicious. The leaf underneath even made the possibility of wrapping the salad up and eating it like a leaf wrap.

The deserts were more or less as described. The ice cream and sweet rice was very coconuty, and the banana was strong tasty banana, hot too. Not really my thing so much for desert, but not bad. ND's drink was indeed very good. It felt like a sweet coffee drink without the coffee, which I'm very pro.

From an ambiance PoV, it was okay. My largest complaint was that it was surprisingly slow service, and the restaurant really wasn't that busy for that. Also, it's worth noting that they do different costs and portions for dinner, and keep odd hours. Still, it's pleasant and I might consider hitting there for a nice dinner.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Paradise Cafe

Restaurant: Paradise Bakery & Cafe
Address: 120 Regency Parkway - Inside the Regency Court Mall
Genres: bakery, cafe
Check Constraints: None. (Short order)
Chain: Yes. | More Omaha Locations: Yes.

  • Chicken Artichoke Panini (whole, $6.95)
  • New England Clam Chowder (bowl, $4.95)
  • Small drink ($1.60)
  • 1 Dozen Cookies (assorted: Ginger Molasses, Snickerdoodle, Sugar, Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, $7.80)
It snowed today in Omaha. With that in mind, and wallets smarting from the slightly more expensive lunches we've had in the past couple of weeks, we decided to head somewhere new, with good word of mouth, and with hearty fare, but without breaking the bank. We also decided that soup sounded like a good idea. But Panera was out, because most of us had been there before. Luckily, another such place exists, tucked away from the weather inside the rather high-ceilinged Regency Court mall (I'm fairly sure they'd be upset if they actually heard me call it a mall, though).

The Paradise Cafe is a lot like Panera Bread. It's a bakery and sandwich place, which also provides soups and salads. Unlike Panera, however, it's not as large a chain, and so the store itself projects quite a bit more ambience. The almost cafeteria-style serving style is slightly annoying when all you require is food from the very end of it but are forced to wait (by courtesy if nothing else) for the people who need food from the middle stations, but honestly it's livable. Due to the aforementioned snow and the large amount of office buildings down Regency, the place filled up quickly and the line got long, but at least it was decently fast.

The panini was nothing extraordinary. I am a huge fan of brined artichokes, and they went well with the chicken, which was essentially sliced deli meat. The panini was warm and properly squished, and I'm certain they made it fresh, since I had to take a little tag to wait for it. That was not the case with all the sandwiches, as ND and Moogle will attest later. But all in all, it was a decent sandwich. The sandwich comes with a cookie, which I'll get to in a bit.

The soup, on the other hand, had clearly had a lot of time and attention lavished on it. A bowl of clam chowder wherein you can detect actual lumps of clam meat is not something that's often found for under $5, unless you are lucky enough to live directly on the Atlantic shoreline. The cream base was rich and hearty, and though it needed a bit of pepper for my taste, Paradise thoughtfully provides actual pepper grinders at each table. That's definitely rare outside of steakhouses. I considered getting it in a bread bowl, and I though I think it would have been good, I'm glad I got it in a bowl this time.

Paradise Cafe's slogan appears to be "Famous for our Cookies", which I can certainly see to be true. Their chocolate chip cookies go out with each sandwich and possibly each entree, which means that there is a constant stream of them emitting from their ovens during the lunch rush - and that's awesome. It means the cookie arrives on your plate warm, and even if you eat a bit slowly, it's still at a pleasant temperature by the time you get around to it. Assuming you're making your mother proud and eating dessert last, anyhow. The chocolate chip was quite nearly transcendent, as ND will assert later. The others were all delicious in their way, but were not as fresh, which detracted slightly. Still, they were all baked to a very good level of done-ness, with the right amount of toothsome chewy in the centers. The only real complaint I would have is that the snickerdoodle was practically indistinguishable from the sugar cookie. Since the sugar cookie was not bad, this wasn't a critical failing, but I'm really likely to just skip the paltry dusting of cinnamon next time and just get twice the sugar cookies.

In addition to the soup, sandwiches, and cookies (oh, the cookies), Paradise Cafe offers both salads, pastas, and an array of breakfast fare. None of us tried any of these, but they looked fairly good. If we visit again, I'm fairly sure I'm going to try the salads along with the soup instead of the sandwiches; intuition and the immense size of their salad bowls says that's going to be a bigger bang for your buck.

  • Paradise Club (whole, $6.75)
  • Roast Turkey Noodle Soup (bread bowl,~ $5.95)
  • Small drink ($1.60)
I've never been to Panera, so I can't really compare the ambiance, but I -have- smelled it, and Panera smells more like a bakery than a cafe, while Paradise smells more like a cafe than a bakery. As far as the sandwich goes, it was a standard club sandwich on a large and puffy croissant, but we arrived just before the lunch rush started, and the sandwich had been sitting too long, so the croissant was difficult to eat. It was getting on towards rock hard at the edges and was mushy from the mayo in the center. If we went back, I'd go with a salad or a panini, as both are made fresh before your eyes, unless I wanted a sandwich that they didn't have pre-made.

The bread bowl was a very nice sourdough that was a touch light on the whole "sour" thing, but it was nice and moist on the inside, and really, if I was feeling like bread, I could have just eaten it with some butter and no soup at all. The soup inside it was another matter. I've had worse turkey noodle, but not by much. The turkey was difficult to taste, there wasn't quite enough carrot, and worst of all, the noodles were so thoroughly overdone that there may as well not have been noodle at all. As soon as they went into your mouth they disintegrated. There is nothing that makes me hate a soup worse than overdone noodles. Cham tried a bit of broth on a bit of bread, and noted that it was at least nicely peppered, but that's because I added a generous measure of coarsely ground pepper off the aformentioned grinders. It seems that the under-spicing the soups is the tendency, here.

And then there were the cookies. I ate the chocolate chip cookie that came with the sandwich. It was excellent. Just a bit short of crispy at the edges, and not-quite-cooked in the center, and the chips at just the right consistency. Then Cham went and bought a dozen cookies, and we split those. I can see why their cookies made them famous. The low points were the snickerdoodles and ginger snaps, though it should be noted that if you eat the snickerdoodles upside down, like nature intended, the sugar-cookie base is hard to notice. The oatmeal rasin cookies could have done with more cinnamon, but other than that, were excellent (and thick) examples of the type.

The ginger cookies were slightly past excellent, being nice and chewy, tasting of just the right amount of ginger, and generally being worth going back for. And then we ended with another chocolate chip cookie each. I chose wisely, and ate my cookie properly, saving the thickest part for last, and I was rewarded. The last bite of the last cookie consisted of a perfect blend of slightly-uncooked dough, molten chocolate chips, and, at the very center, enlightenment.

That's right, I enlightened. If it weren't such a drive for me, I'd go back just for a dozen of these chocolate chip cookies, with a side of ginger cookies. I'd recommend against trying any soup with noodles in, and against sandwiches in general, but other than that, it's good.

  • Paradise Club (half, $?)
  • Chili (bowl, $?)
  • Small drink ($1.60)
I attempted to order a soup and sandwich combo, which I think comes with half a sandwich and a cup of soup. I ended up with a bowl instead, which is fine with me. That just means that I'm not 100% on the prices for what I ordered. The total for the half sandwich, bowl and soft drink came to $9.04 though. I didn't get a receipt so I couldn't check the individual numbers.

The sandwich wasn't spectacular, but it was still good. It was, indeed, pre-made. I noticed a line up of sandwiches after I ordered, but most were actually gone. They were in the process of filling in some empty spots as I waited for the line to move. The club was various deli meats, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo on a large croissant. The bacon was a bit extra crispy and a little hard to eat. The sandwich had a tendency to fall apart, including the croissant flaking to pieces. My croissant wasn't nearly as bad as ND's sounds. I didn't try his though.

The chili was really good. It was a pretty standard chili, from what I could tell, with meat and beans. It wasn't as spicy as most other chilies I've had, and could have used some red pepper flakes or something. It came with a dash of cheese on top, which I couldn't taste. Still, I enjoyed it. It would probably be worth trying in a bread bowl as the main dish.

The cookies were awesome. The sandwich came with a lone chocolate-chip, but Cham bought a dozen more. They were all soft and moist, except the oatmeal raisin. Those were a bit drier/crunchier. My favorite out of the bunch had to be the ginger molasses. I got mostly sugar-cookie flavor out of the snickerdoodles. The actual sugar cookies were a bit much after the snickerdoodles, but they were still good. The chocolate chip were impressive, and the chips were still gooey. I wish I hadn't let the cleaning guy take my drink cup before all these came.

  • Thai Chicken Wrap (half, $?)
  • Roasted Tomato Soup (cup, $?)
  • Also the cookie that comes with
  • Small drink ($1.60)
I'm in more or less the same situation as Jay on ticket. at about the same cost. If I run into the ticket later I'll let you know.

This place was my recommendation, as people from work have been here before, and I figured it was worth giving it the full geeks.rate. I got what I always have gotten so far, which is the Thai Chicken Wrap. It's a chicken wrap in a green tortilla-like, with rice, some things that texturewise feel like nuts, lettuce, etc. It comes pre-prepared and cold, but I think that's okay for this. It also comes with a peanut sauce I enjoy. The texture's also nice. I can be very boring sometimes. I do think I will try something else next time, though, just because.

The tomato soup is basically their signature soup, and it is very very good, and a little pepper doesn't hurt it, but I don't see it as necessary either. With caution, I will add that Cham noted that it had the same flavor profile as Chef Boyardee. That doesn't mean it's the same awful gloop, but you may find a certain reminiscence. As I hate Chef Boyardee junk, and do like this, I suggest you try it anyway. I really need to stop getting it in the 'platter' type setup and instead get a full bowl or bread bowl of my own of it at some point. I imagine, given the signature nature, that the tomato soup in a bread bowl is where it's at.

The chocolate chip cookie that comes with fell apart on me during my search for a table, because it's that soft, and it was still good. All of the others were fine to me, and I honestly have no idea what the difference between a snickerdoodle and a sugar cookie is anyway, except that the snickerdoodle looked like it had cinnamon on it which I couldn't really taste. The ginger cookie was awesome.

I think at this place that the speed of the cycling is a huge factor in the taste of everything. This makes going at the times the food will be best a bit of a pain, as that's when the line will be longest, but I think that's also the most worth it from a sandwich PoV. The salad idea that Cham has is a good one, and definitely worth trying. It's also worth noting that this particular location does breakfast, and looked like it had some good breakfast options, but none of us live quite close enough to make that jump, except maybe Cham or I on a weekend.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ozark Smoked Meat Co.

Restaurant: Ozark Smoked Meat Company
Address: 114th and W. Center Road
Genres: BBQ
Check Constraints: None (short order)
Chain: No | More Omaha Locations: Yes

  • BBQ Sandwich Platter, Pork ($6.59)
  • Coleslaw, Ozark Spicy Wedges (as part of above)
  • Drink ($1.40, we calculated)
I'd driven past the huge "BBQ" sign near the I-680 and Center interchange a lot of times prior to this lunch, and my mind had idly piqued with curiosity about the sort and quality of barbecue offered within. I grew up in Indiana, but experience, televisionresearch, and some travel have taught me a lot about the process and what it should taste like. Barbecue, the real stuff, always involves smoke, seasoning, and a long, slow cooking process. Yes, that means that "BBQ Chicken Sandwich" you had for lunch the other day doesn't really count. It doesn't stop it from being delicious, but I sincerely doubt it was smoked beforehand. This attitude makes me something of a barbecue "purist", I suppose, but what the hell. It has only led me to delicious places, where the smoky taste of the ribs melded gently with the flavor of the rub, and the sauce was tangy but not, you know. Ketchup.

Luckily for all of us, the Ozark Smoked Meat Co. did not disappoint. It's a short-order joint, so don't go expecting a huge rack of ribs in an elegant environment. If you do go with this in mind, the statue of a pig in an apron by the front door should disabuse you of the notion fairly quickly. Do expect a good plate of food for a reasonable price, and a reasonably comfortable environment with places to sit.

The sandwich was good; pork meat on a standard sesame sub bun. The pork was slathered in BBQ sauce to the point where the pork flavor was fairly minimal, but it wasn't a bad sauce so this was not a critical failing. Personally I prefer my sandwiches dryer, or at best absent of sauce so I can add my own. The sauce was tangy, and almost too sweet. Experimenting with the bottles of sauce available at the condiment counter led me to realize that I much prefer their "spicy" BBQ sauce (which was nothing of the sort, but definitely less sweet). Still, it was a satisfying sandwich, and as with a lot of pulled pork sandwiches, the jalapeños they offered as condiments greatly improved my enjoyment since they both added heat and helped to cut the sweetness.

The Ozark Spicy Wedges weren't much to write home about. Fried potato wedges - fairly hefty ones - fried in a light batter. "Spice" was not on the order of the day, here, but it's hard to screw up fried potatoes, and they were warm and potato-y, if not precisely fresh (they were sitting on the counter under a heat lamp). The coleslaw was also middlin' quality, and unnecessary in this context; I usually use the slaw with my BBQ to cut the spice and zing of the BBQ sauce with something creamy and sweet. Since the sauce itself was pretty sweet, the slaw was overkill. Were I to choose again, I would have gone for the beans or perhaps the macaroni salad.

I tasted some of Mecha's ribs and ND's brisket and really, the place has got a good smoke going for it. Both these dishes came without initial sauce, letting me taste the meat directly. The ribs were meaty and flavored pretty well, without much evidence of a rub, but they almost didn't need one. The brisket was also tasty, but a little chewy. I think the single worst aspect of the sandwich I had was that they killed any of that good smoke flavoring that may have existed on the pork with too much sauce. Serving it dry would have been a much better option.

There are free drink refills, and plenty of napkins. It's certainly the best barbecue I've had in a while. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the place is that they sell smoked meat by the pound - I may have to try this and toy around with my own sauces at some point. They will also do custom smoking, which is interesting though perhaps more important if you're big into deer and turkey hunting.

  • Brisket Dinner($10.99)
  • Potato Salad, Ozark Spicy Wedges (as part of above)
  • Drink ($1.40, we calculated)
  • Giant cookie. ($1.00)
I'm not a BBQ "purist" in any sense of the word. What I am, however, is a big fan of meat, and for the money, I did get a very large chunk of meat. Be warned, those who are weak of heart, they butter their texas toast with real butter. Not that it's likely enough to do anything to someone who actually pays attention to their health, mind, but I've met people who are absolutely phobic about butter.

The potatoes were a different spice mix than you usually get around omaha, leaning more towards the cayenne look than the herbs and spices look that you get at, say, BWW. They were pretty average, as far as potatoes go, but did go well with both the BBQ sauces they had at the table.

The potato salad is the midwest standard potato salad, which the rest of the country probably knows as mustard potato salad. I didn't even know there WAS another kind until I went to college. They skimped a lot on the mustard, but the basic flavor was still there, and the potatoes were just right, so it wasn't a total loss. Still, given the rest of the dinner, if we go back, I'm asking if I can get a couple more slices of buttered toast instead.

The brisket was sliced nice and thin, and had an easily visible smoke line on every side. Very nice, from what I know of smoking. I wonder about the custom smoking, though. I'd love to buy a brick of sharp cheddar and have it heavily smoked, and maybe I could get them to do that. Anyway, back to the brisket. It was done to almost the worst level a brisket can be. A little less done and it would be bloody, a little more done and it would be tender. Instead, it was on the chewy border between the two. The slices were a little awkward to eat, and I found it was easiest to literally roll a slice up with my fingers, dip it in sauce, and pop it in my mouth. Eaten that way, it was a decent combination of lots of meat with a bit of sauce, and that's about all it really takes to make me happy.

I also indulged in a cookie, which is obtained sealed from Sysco, under some random brand. It was an excellent cookie, especially for Sysco, nice and tender even at the edges, and very much unlike the usual bricks.

I didn't walk away hungry, and it was good food for the price. I'd order differently if I went again, but I am willing to go again.

  • BBQ Sandwich Platter, Brisket ($6.59)
  • Corn on the Cob, Onion Potatoes (as part of above)
  • Drink ($1.40, we calculated)
I ordered a Brisket Sandwich combo with corn and onion potatoes. The amount of food was just about right for the price. It was also pretty reasonable BBQ. The sandwich was simple, being brisket on a bun with sauce. The sauce was fairly sweet and does hide the meat's flavor as was said earlier. I tried the "hot BBQ sauce" also, which had enough spice to not be "sweet BBQ sauce" but not much more. The onion potatoes were soft potato quarters/eighths cooked in butter and onions. I thought they were pretty good and a good potato alternative to fries. I tried a fry also, and the seasoning on those were good too. It was a different sort of seasoning as ND said above. The corn was a pretty standard 3" chunk of corn on the cob.

Overall, I didn't think it was amazing, but it's really solid BBQ for a reasonable price. I liked the place and would go back.

  • Pork Back Half-rack of Ribs Dinner($11.49)
  • Baked Beans, Ozark Spicy Wedges (as part of above)
  • Drink ($1.40, we calculated)
Cham really hit the nail on the head with the smoke comment. The ribs came slightly separated, fell off the bone easily, and had no real sauce on them, allowing you to taste the meat. And the smoke. And they tasted good for it. I ate the entire half-rack with no sauce, because I enjoy meat and smoke. Mmm. Restaurants should deliver food as it is to be eaten, and this place did it. I probably would have eaten a whole rack with no sauce, too. This was gotten at lunchtime, so it's good to know that they get their smoking done early and have the ribs available all day.

The potatoes tasted fine. They were potatoes, for crying out loud. Better than boring french fries. The baked beans, which I wasn't a huge fan of when I was a child, have grown on me, and these were good beans, tastes of brown sugar and such. A place that does that much slow cooking, that doesn't much surprise me. I'm more surprised that I'm the only one who got them. Coleslaw lovers. Sheesh.

This is pretty standard going rate for ribs, maybe a bit expensive, but these are excellent simply made ribs, and they came out pretty fast. I'd be willing to pay that little bit extra now and again for the simple pleasure of the taste of good smoked pork. Maybe next time I'll bother trying the sauces. Or maybe not.