Monday, April 28, 2008

FarmHousE Cafe & Bakery

Restaurant: FarmHousE Cafe & Bakery
Address: 3461 South 84th St - Right beside Mangelsen's
Genres: bakery, american
Check Constraints: Split checks for a group of any size is an automatic 18% gratuity.
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: No.

  • PotatoChip Chicken Fingers ($6.99)
  • Cup of Cheese Soup ($2.99)
  • Monterey Chicken Melt ($8.49)
    • Sun Stix
I had been curious about this place ever since my first visit to Mangelsen's, the arts & crafts store attached to this restaurant (or is it vice versa?). It's not every day you see a restaurant attached to a craft store, though I have to admit it's not the first time I've seen it. Regardless, it was a wet and chilly Thursday, and through a massive dose of apathy, I forced my decision on the group. I don't regret this course of action, though I do wish I'd gotten something else.

The cup of soup, to begin with, was adequate. The consistency was a lot closer to cheese pudding than I would have liked, but there were carrot strips and celery mixed in for texture, which made it feel a lot less like I was eating a bowl of melted Velveeta. The taste was good, but I'm pretty sure some of the soup is even now sitting in my aorta and chuckling malevolently.

The chicken fingers were better than the soup. The meat itself was cooked well and of better quality than I associate with frozen tenders, and the potato chip coating gave it some excellent flavor. The ranch it was served with didn't do much for it, but dipping it in ketchup proved adequate for when I needed something to dip it in at all. They were also served extremely hot, so consumers should beware. The other appetizer we got was their dip selection - are you tired of us reviewing dips? I'm tired of eating them - of which the cheese and chili dips were on the good side of passable, but the spinach-artichoke was tasteless and forgettable.

The sandwich was good, with a lot of flavor, good bread, and of a decent size for the price. The largest failing with it was that it was served with romaine lettuce strips - not uncommon for a sandwich, but the sandwich itself was so hot when put on the lettuce that by the time it arrived at the table, most of the lettuce had flat-out cooked in the heat and the rest was pretty wilted. With the high moisture content of the sandwich, this made the dang thing pretty messy and I ended up just pulling all the green off it. The "Sun Stix" - code name for sweet potato fries - were good. Not overly done or overladen with spice, but in fact totally devoid of all flavor but the sweet potato. Which is fine, really. The ones at the FireWater Grille were better, but these weren't any slouch in the goodness department.

In retrospect, I wish I'd had room to try a pie, or perhaps changed up my order for one of their breakfasts, which they claim is the "Best Breakfast in Omaha". I strive to find something to rave about in each review, but honestly everything I had here falls into the "average to good" category. Which, you know, is fine for a lunch or so, but I'm not very eager to give it another shot.

  • Patty Melt ($7.99)
    • Pasta Salad
The first thing I noticed (since it was the first thing I got) was that the water was fairly clean tasting. A lot of places, you'll get water that's slightly dusty or dirty tasting. The chicken strips were hefty chunks of meat, and pretty well done. They were good, but a bit too hot to eat right away. Like Cham said, the ranch wasn't really worth using. The chips and dip were reasonable. I liked the chili-style dip the best. The others were so-so. I actually didn't like the chips themselves very much. They were a sort of home-made tortilla chip, but they weren't very good on their own. I preferred to drown them in dip, but once the dip got cold, I abandoned the whole deal.

I had a taste of the cheese soup, and as someone who has overdosed on a Velveeta based dip before, I can say that the soup did not taste like Velveeta. It was a bit fluffier in consistency as well. I'd say the texture is bordering on a cheese foam, but that doesn't sound too appetizing. I didn't have enough of it to say if it was worth getting though.

The patty melt was a pretty large sandwich, but it was mostly patty. It came on some dark rye bread with a bit of onions and sauce. Half the time, the rest of the sandwich was drowned out by plain, ground-beef flavor. The sandwich wasn't bad, just, mostly beef. It also came with a half of a giant dill pickle. The pasta salad side was pretty decent, but there wasn't very much of it.

I agree with the "average to good" rating, and it might be worth trying to find out what the favorites or specialties are. I'll note that as we walked in we were greeted with a wonderful cinnamon roll smell. I've also talked with someone who works there, and he mentions they use an awful lot of eggs. It might be good to stay on the bakery or breakfast side of things.

  • Chips & Dips ($5.99)
  • Bowl of Cheese Soup ($3.99)
  • Sausage & Cheese Quiche (Special, 5.99)
Okay, I think, for the record, that we're never going to get chips and dips again. Anywhere. Well, maybe at a mexican joint, but that's because it's practically obligatory there. I will say, for the record, that if you're going to get an appetizer here, you should stick to the potato chip fried chicken. The breading gets out of the way of the flavor, so what you really taste is pure chicken, and it's pretty good quality chicken, too.

The cheese soup really needed some potatoes. That would make it into essentially a duplicate of the Petrow's potato soup, but that stuff was amazing, so who cares? The carrots did nothing for the soup but add texture, and the celery may as well have not been there. What I did find, though, was that the soup was a better dip for the chicken than the ranch that came with them.

The quiche came with a big slab of pineapple and a couple strawberries. This was the best part about it. Allow me to be absolutely clear on this point: Do not, under any circumstances, get the quiche. This pie can barely be called a quiche at all. While the portion is generous, the pie crust itself was badly done, the cheese was somehow not melted, and the egg filling was so dense that it sat like a rock in your gut waiting to be digested. The sausage was nothing special, and worse, the sauce that they ladled so generously over the top was absolutely disgusting, tasting like nothing so much as concentrated Swanson's chicken base.

We have instituted a new set of protocols for dealing with bakery type restaurants. Instead of getting appetizers when we go to one like this, we're going to save our money for dessert, in order to sample what should be the strength of the place. The blueberry muffin I got with the quiche was quite good, so if you stick to the chicken and the bakery, you should be fine. Just, uh, stay away from the quiche. A LONG way away.

  • Chicken 'N Noodles ($8.25)
  • Cup of Cheese Soup ($2.99)
I have to go a step further and say the chips and dip was terrible. The chips tasted doughy and were chewy instead of crispy or crunchy. I couldn't get past the overpowering non-taste of the chips to evaluate any of the dips, so I'll have to leave that to the others. I am in agreeance that the Chicken Strips were delicious. I also much appreciated the Cheese Soup. I liked particularly the use of julienned carrots instead of chunks of broccoli. It gave it an extra little crunch without being too obvious about it. I regret not paying the extra dollar to get double the soup.

When they brought out my Chicken 'N Noodles ND asked a very compelling question: "Dude, did you get a plate of potato salad?" The sauce in the Chicken 'N Noodles was very thick, very sticky, very yellow, and very there. Looking at it, I couldn't see any of the chicken or the noodles. Chewing it, I couldn't feel any of the gumminess of good egg noodles. Tasting it, I couldn't make out anything but slightly sour chicken gravy. I didn't enjoy it at all. I ended up eating bites of the coleslaw that came with it (which was actually pretty good) to clear the taste out of my mouth and left half of my plate behind.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Han Kuk Kwan Korean Restaurant

Restaurant: Han Kuk Kwan Korean Restaurant
Address: 5032 S 108th St. (Left of Valentino's)
Website: None
Genres: Korean
Check Constraints: Unknown
Chain: No | More Omaha Locations: No

  • Gunmandu Appetizer (~$4.50?)
    • Unsure of the name. Fried beef dumplings.
  • Omletrice ($8.25)
This place was a small restaurant in a strip-mall. There only a few customers over the noon hour aside from us. They did have a bit of competition though, because there are several other Asian eateries, Valentino's, and a full compliment of fast food in the area. There was only one lady working. She did the waitressing, cooking, and cashiering. She had a pretty thick accent and was a bit hard to understand at times. They had several TVs going on different channels. The menu had a good number of options and some nice big pictures. If I've left anything important out, hopefully the others will fill in.

The dumplings were really good. They were quite juicy, packed full, and had subtle flavor. I don't remember what the menu called them, but they were item #2. Looking around on the web, I find that fried dumplings like this are called gunmandu in Korean. There were six on the plate. I'm not sure if they normally come with six or if we got that many because there were six of us at the table. The other appetizer was a little unremarkable, but good. It had kimchi in it, but I didn't really notice it. The flavor was definitely not anywhere near as strong as the cold kimchi we got later on.

The little bowls of additional food were interesting. The bean sprouts were pretty good with nothing unexpected. The green stuff was very green. It seemed like Swiss chard type green in a vinegary dressing. I thought that one was pretty good too. The cucumbers were pretty boring to me, but I'm not a big fan of "plain" cucumber. It wasn't exactly plain, but it tasted mostly plain. The cubed stuff was interesting. Crunchy and spicy. The kimchi was the stand-out, but mostly because it was a very strong flavor. It was a sort of sour-tart flavor that's hard to describe. I didn't think it was too bad, but I couldn't eat very much of it since it was so strong.

The omletrice was simply fried rice with beef and a hard-fried egg on top. It was pretty basic, but delicious. I want to call the rice "greasy", but I'm not sure if that is the word. It wasn't dry, however. It wasn't too hard to eat most of it with chopsticks either. I had to resort to the spoon near the end of the plate however.

Service was a bit slow, but I'm guessing that was because there was only one person working. The lady had a bit of trouble getting the checks to the right people, and since the checks were written in Korean, we couldn't help ourselves too easily. She had a bit of trouble with counting my change as well. Overall though, I was pleased with the meal.

  • Chicken & Potato Stew (15.95)
  • Omletrice ($8.25)
I did not intend to spend 25 dollars on this meal. I actually asked for a cup of soup, which is listed at two dollars on the menu, but was apparently misunderstood and received a large cast iron pot intended for two people to split.

I have very little good to say about this meal, sadly. The chicken and potato stew was so spicy that I couldn't actually taste the chicken, and it was so far beyond my heat level that I couldn't actually eat all of it. I passed it off to Cham, who enjoyed it quite a bit. The omletrice is also nothing special, and was rather heavier on the vegetable flavor than I prefer. It definitely wasn't worth eight bucks.

What I did like, quite a bit, in fact, were the two appetizers. The dumplings were like the age gyoza you can get at Sakurabana, but they weren't so thoroughly deep fried, and they were quite a bit better stuffed, and had a much more vibrant flavor. The other appetizer, whose name nobody can remember, was also quite good. It reminded me of potato pancakes, and having tasted the kimchi later, I couldn't tell there was kimchi in them at all.

Speaking of kimchi, I am willing to try almost anything once. Kimchi has had its try, and I am never going to touch it raw again.

  • Pork Bulgogi ($8.25)
  • Vegetable Sides (Free)
    • Kimchi (cold)
    • Pickled Bean Sprouts
    • Pickled Cucumber
    • Swiss Chard?
    • Pickled Kohlrabi?
When you decide to start an ethnic restaurant, there's a very tough choice to be made. Either you can migrate the dishes and flavors of the ethnicity towards the mainstream palate of the country - or more correctly city - that you're in, or you can decide to maintain the traditional dishes and hope the novelty is enough to draw in people with broad tastes. Most Chinese places in the U.S. fall into the former category, for instance. But I feel pretty confident in saying that Hun Kuk Kwan lands solidly in the traditional category.

Which isn't to say it's not worth a shot. The place is, while sparsely decorated, nice and outfitted with an optimistic number of tables. Its menu is fairly clear and mostly grammatically correct and, as Moogle notes, provides lots of pictures... it's quite obvious they've gone to some lengths to make a person walking in off the street feel comfortable. And yes, the conversation with our waitress had a little difficulty; I guess that didn't bug me enough to affect my impressions of the restaurant.

Those impressions being favorable. A meal at this kind of place can be a little dangerous, from the standpoint of things like heat levels or ... "interesting" flavors, so I was prepared for some disappointment, but the pork bulgogi - which is a hot and spicy pork stir-fried with onions and green onions - was rather delicious. There was some element to the flavor which took me a minute to adapt to; I don't think I could pick it out of a line-up, but pretty soon I was plowing through the meal, and the only criticism I have for it is that the portions were perhaps a little small for $8.25. It does come with rice, which helps a little.

As Moogle notes, you get five little side dishes, which I've listed for completeness up top. I'm pretty sure the "cubed stuff" he talks about was kohlrabi, but honestly that's just a guess. It could easily have been a root vegetable or something similar. I'm also pretty sure they're supposed to be mixed into the food for flavoring, but this visit I was trying to taste everything separately to get an idea of what would taste good later. I think ND and Moogle have covered the appetizers pretty well, so onward.

The soup ND passed off to me was delicious, and probably pretty spicy if you're not a regular capsaicin junkie. The bulgogi, for what it's worth, was not what I call "thai-level" spicy, and the soup came in above that. Additionally, the cucumbers, kohlrabi, and kimchi all had some heat to them. None of that's mentioned in the menu, though, so the place is basically a capsaicin minefield if you're not careful. But back to the soup - it really seemed to only have chicken, potatoes, a base, and spices in it, but was flavorful and filling. The bowl's pretty large, too, so I can see why it's meant for two.

I'm kind of eager to go back, if only to try some of the things I skipped over. Oh, a note; since there was only one person running the place, the food took a while to start coming out, and though it came out steadily, it took a little bit for everything to get cooked, plated and delivered. My advice is to go for dinner when there are more people manning the place, or alternatively to have multiple people in your group order the same thing - that will probably speed things up.

So in short; definitely give it a try if you're feeling experimental. A little effort will almost surely find you something you like.

  • Bibimbab ($8.25)
Much has already been said about the appetizers, but I'll repeat anyway: they were spectactular. I found the sides very interesting. Before this, I'd never had kimchi in any form. I took a rather large mouthful and I could feel it bubbling on my tongue. At first I was put off, but in retrospect I think it's something I could learn to enjoy. The pickled cucumbers were delicious. They tasted almost like bread & butter pickles but with a nice kick. The pickled bean sprouts and pickled green leafy was unremarkable, but not bad. The pickled kholrabi (?) had a nice crunch and the punch of an onion afterward.

For my entree I ordered the Bibimbab. I was advised before coming that I should try "that thing that comes in a stone bowl." After picking up the menu and saying the name quietly to myself a couple of times and chuckling after each, I noticed that this dish was the one suggested. I ordered and waited. What came was a metal bowl of rice with veggies (mostly julienned cucumber from what I recall), a small amount of beef, and a whole fried egg on top. I mixed it up as Kirby advised and started eating. It didn't exactly taste how you might expect. The egg and beef were pretty much nonfactors and dominated by the rice and cucumbers. If you ignore the fact that there was egg and beef in the bowl, I suppose you could say it tasted about how you would expect--like rice and cucumbers mixed in a bowl. The whole draw of the dish, from what I was told, was that it was served in a searing hot stone bowl. The bowl would crunchify the rice resting against it and give the whole thing a nice texture. I looked for the wikipedia article to verify that I did, indeed, order "that thing that comes in a stone bowl" and I found out that not only was I shortchanged a whole hot stone bowl, the mixture was supposed to be topped with gochujang (chili pepper paste)! The bibimbab was definitely hurting for the bit of flavor the gochujang would have supplied. I ended up having to pour on a decent amount of soy sauce to compensate.

I half suspect that the lack of gochujang was an oversight by our harried hostess, but that thought doesn't assuage my sore disappointment. I will most likely return (the gyoza was just too good not too) and I will most likely try the bibimbab again, but this time I will be more forward about my stone bowl and gochujang and I will probably come at dinner time, when hopefully there will be more staff onhand.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hector's Mexican Restaurant

Restaurant: Hector's Mexican Restaurant
Address: 3007 S 83rd Plz - Behind the Goodwill
Website: None known.
Genres: mexican, baja
Check Constraints: No split checks, 18% gratuity for parties of 6 or more (though we got hit for it with only 5 people).
Chain: No. | More Omaha Locations: Yes.

  • Iced Tea ($1.90)
  • Appetizer Sampler ($13.50)
    • Cheese quesadilla
    • 3 Chicken Taquito Bites
    • 3 Shredded Beef Taquito Bites
    • Queso Fundido (with chorizo)
    • Bean Dip
    • Salsa Picada
  • Queso Fundido (with chorizo) ($5.95 $6.45)
  • Carne Adovada Taco ($3.90)
  • Chili Verde Burrito ($8.40)
Hector's is tucked back among some other stores in what amounts to a mini-mall, which is itself tucked back away from 84th street, along which it resides. It's slightly difficult to find the first time, especially if you're just looking from the road. That's not, however, to say that it's a hidden treasure; it's been in Omaha a long time, and has a second location out west. This is the original, though, and to say it gets crowded at lunch is only not an understatement compared to how crowded it gets during dinner. We got there at 11:40 or so, and only just beat the lunch rush.

It's possible that the exceptionally slow service we got was a result of the lunch rush, but you'd think a restaurant with that much traffic would have figured out how to account for it at some point. Mecha and I have eaten there for dinner before, and while the service was a little better, it wasn't what I would call attentive. But then, you probably don't come here to hear us rant about the service, right? Just the food.

Costs at Hector's are a little on the high side, especially when compared with places like Jonesy's and their gigantic portions. Still, the food is generally worth it. Baja cuisine comes from the Baja peninsula of California, and is predominately concerned with seafood and going light on the spices. There's not much used besides salt, garlic, and chilies, plus fairly generous helpings of tomato, onion, and cilantro. In fact, the carne adovada taco wasn't much more than chile-flavored pork cubes with some pico de gallo and a ton of cilantro on a corn tortilla. That made it a little dry, but it was a delicious if interesting taste.

The burrito was, perhaps, a little humdrum. The tortilla was filled with pork cubes, tomatillos, and chiles, and covered with their chili verde sauce and some cheese. It tasted alright enough, but there wasn't much that stood out flavorwise. It had a mild (keep in mind I like my food blistering hot) heat to it which was pleasant, but had no real chile, lime, or cilantro taste to it. Still, it was a solid choice and it wasn't like I was dissatisfied with it.

The appetizers were okay. The taquito bites were remarkably tiny and almost not worth commenting about; the queso fundido was delicious until it congealed as melted cheese is wont to do. The dips were average - they come served in corn tortilla bowls, and the best out of the three was the bean dip, while the worst was probably the bland guacamole. Finally, the quesadilla was again pretty average. I get the feeling that a lot of the "obligatory" Mexican there is going to be on the average side of things, while venturing into the cilantro-and-fish realm will net you some of their better dishes.

A small note to cap my part of the review; either their menu is off, or their server was way further into the weeds than he should have been, since several of the prices on the actual bill varied from what we thought they were going to be. I'd recommend going for a very late lunch or early dinner when they're not so rushed or hurried.

  • Iced Tea ($1.90)
  • #10 Combo (Ground Beef Taco, Shredded Beef Enchilada, Chicken Burrito)($10.50)
While Cham is apparently in love with this place, I'm somewhat less so. I'm a big fan of their chorizo and cheese spread. Two cheeses, excellent sausage. It tastes a little of Worchestershire sauce, but I love that taste, so it's all good. The bean dip I don't think is as good as Senor Matias or Jonesey's, but it was servicable. The salsa was actually the type I like, slightly hot and not at all chunky, which is pretty uncommon, and the chicken taquitos that came on the combo platter were quite good, as well.

What wasn't so good were the ground beef and the shredded beef. The shredded beef was overly dry and extremely hard to cut through to get a clean bite. All the moisture seemed to have migrated to the ground beef, which dripped vigorously with every bite. There's nothing special about the ground beef taco at all. You could get practically the same from Taco Bell. Also worthy of note is that unlike both other Mexican restaurants we've gone to, this one sees fit to put the cheese -inside- the tortilla, instead of layering it generously over the top. This makes it easier to take bites, but also results in MUCH less cheese.

On the other hand, I can forgive most of this for the chicken. The chicken burrito was a wonder. Spiced perfectly, just juicy enough to bring wonderful flavor without drenching the plate in juices when you cut into it. I have it on good authority that the chicken is just as good in the enchilada and taco.

Overall, I have to say I wouldn't put this place ahead of Senor Matias or Jonesey's, but it's not a bad diversion. And I imagine that the fishier dishes are probably better, but they're way more expensive. Too expensive for me.

  • Soda Pop ($1.90)
  • #10 Combo (Chicken Taco, Ground Beef Chicken Enchilada, Shredded Beef Burrito)($10.50)
I generally agree with ND. I enjoyed the fundi with chorizo (if you get it, you should get the chorizo added on. It wouldn't have been nearly as good otherwise), though you need to be sure to eat it before it congeals into a bowl-shaped block of cheese. The most notable part of the sampler platter was the extra helping of fundi with chorizo. The bean dip was gritty, there weren't enough chicken taquito bites, and the salsa picada and guacamole were unremarkable.

I'm actually very glad that they messed up my order. By some provenance of the gods, they replaced the Ground Beef Enchilada that I ordered with a Chicken Enchilada. If you're going to get any assortment of burritos, enchiladas, or tacos from the combo menu, get chicken. The chicken was juicy and spiced just right. The Chicken Taco was the highlight of my meal and, because they didn't smear cheese and sauce over everything on my plate, it wasn't too messy to eat. On the other hand, the shredded beef was terribly dry and tough. To worsen matters, I got the shredded beef burrito, so I had the flour tortilla soaking up what remained of my saliva after the filling had had its go.

Overall, I don't expect I'll advocate returning to Hector's. It wasn't terrible--it just wasn't good enough for the price and I didn't appreciate the mangling of the bill or the forced gratuity for 5 people.

  • Carne Adovada Taco ($3.90)
  • Seafood Enchilada ($4.20)
The queso fundido appetizer was interesting and delicious. It turned out to be very greasy, and the tortilla could not contain it completely. Within seconds, the thing was soaked through. The appetizer sampler didn't impress me too much, and it was pretty expensive. The dips were not terribly impressive. I didn't try the quesadilla. The taquito was a little dry, but good. They also serve chips and salsa at every table. They say the chips and salsa are made fresh daily. They were pretty good. The salsa was fairly mild, but it had a decent, strong taste. It wasn't tomatoey, so it was probably more peppery.

I tried the enchilada first, which was quite different. It was slathered in cheese and a sort of cream sauce. It came with shrimp, scallops, crab meat, and that same cream sauce inside. There was no mistaking it for something other than seafood, but it was still really good. It was nearly twice the price of the basic enchiladas, however.

The taco was also something unique. Being seasoned with cilantro, it was a very different experience. It comes packed with meat and toppings and is not a bad size. The meat didn't have much of a strong flavor though, and it was a bit dry. What I tasted most was cilantro and corn tortilla. The texture was mostly tortilla also. If you get it, just know that it's not going to be your average taco experience. To me, it was worth trying once at least.

Overall, it was some very different tasting Mexican food. The stuff I had seemed fairly lightweight. I felt like I needed a little more food afterward, but it did hold me over. As the others have said, seafood or chicken is likely the way to go, and I'll confirm that the enchilada was quite tasty.

  • Tortilla Soup ($4.25)
  • #12 (Grande Burrito (I chose Carne Asada for the meat) w/rice and beans) ($9.45 $9.95)
I thought the place was okay last I went, but this time I was less impressed, which is a shame. Also, similarly, note the slight bill-to-menu discrepancy there.

One good note is that the chips (made on-site, says ND) and the salsa are actually very flavorful. No heat, but lots of fruit, as it were. A definite plus. The appetizers were okay fare, and they fill the stomach.

The Tortilla Soup was actually fairly enjoyable, with large chunks of avocado and tortillas, however, was not really a 'chunky' soup. I ate it all and could go for it again.

However, I wouldn't say the same about the Grande Burrito. I expected cheese of some sort, or something, on the inside or outside. Instead, I got a very large burrito which consisted of 90% Guacamole and Pico de Gallo, and 10% Carne Asada. The meat was actually very good, when I could find it, but there's only so much of that vegetable mass I could stand. The rice was standard and fine, and the beans similarly, but... I wanted a Grande Burrito, even if my appetite has been substandard recently. And that means lots of meat and cheese and stuff. I mean, Chipotle has just as grande burritos, and are far less stingy on the stuff inside them. And Jonsey's was a very pure and good meat, cheese, and tortilla. So yeah.

On the overall, it seems like the place has a lot of hit and miss to it, and the price isn't in the cheapness range one generally expects from mexican food. I wouldn't mind going back, using the knowledge we all gained. The place also, as is typical for mexican places, was big on getting some alcohol (which also looked sorta expensive), and we avoided that due to the lunch hour. Maybe it's just better on the boozamahol.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

PepperJax Grill

Restaurant: PepperJax Grill
Address: 1040 South 74th Plaza
Genres: phillies
Check Constraints: None
Chain: Yes | More Omaha Locations: Several, and a pair of KS locations

  • Steak Philly ($5.69)
  • Fries ($1.89)
  • Soft Drink ($1.69)
My wife and I ate here this afternoon, and I wanted to make a quick note about something that changed. I decided to put up a full review for it, however. The place calls themselves "quick casual", and this means that food is prepared in front of you at the counter with no wait staff, which makes it a lot like Subway. They have a very narrow selection of menu items. In fact, they all fit on a 2' x 2' square diamond shaped menu that hangs on the wall where you wait in line. Your options are philly, wrap, rice bowl or salad with chicken or beef (or shrimp for non-phillies). There are options for toppings and such as well. You order at the counter. The guy cooks it on the grill there. You move on down the counter, pay at the register there, and then go find a seat with your stuff.

The building is decorated in faux-brick and many photos of early 1900's Omaha. The ceiling is open girders and vents painted black with hanging track lighting. This wouldn't be too bad, but the contrast with the light from the huge front windows makes it seem darker inside. A few TV's hang in the corners.

The thing I mentioned above that changed are the available sauces. They seem to be trying to save money by having their own PepperJax (PJax) branded sauces. Since I last went, they have taken away the bottles of Heinz 57 and A1 sauces and replace them with big pumps full of three different PJax steak sauces. This is ok, except for the fact that I look forward to eating my fries with 57 sauce, since you rarely see it around. They also have a few PJax branded things on the table. I didn't like the smell or taste of any of those. The ketchup on the table was Hunt's, which, to my wife, is a sin. She grew up in Pittsburgh, which is of course the home of Heinz. (Hunt's happens to be a ConAgra brand.) I was a bit disappointed, but the fries are decent without sauce.

The philly itself is pretty good. You get a good sized sandwich and a big basket of fries. The sandwich is pretty juicy and ends up soaking the bottom of the bread. I have been here a few times, but have only gotten the steak philly since the variety is so low. The other options don't interest me much. It's a pretty decent sized meal for the price, but it borders on the expensive side in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

It's A Geek! Pass out the cigars!

Hello. No, this isn't a food post, we've got an announcement. The four geeks wish to welcome a fifth reviewer to their number; MapleSyrup, who will undoubtedly be a stunning addition to our already well-talented lineup of lunchtime companions. Look for his first review this Thursday.

We're not sure what we're eating yet, but we're thinking Mexican.