Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Tailgate Bar and Grill

The Tailgate Bar and Grill
Wow. I have to say I may have outdone myself this time. I have in more than once instance been to a dive bar for dinner in my adventures on the road, but this one resembled the Double Deuce. If you don’t know that movie reference than there is no hope for you give up on life and move in to a van down by the river… That said, I probably could have guessed this based on the exterior signage and its accompaniment by a giant NASCAR. As I walked through the door I was greeted by the odors of fried food and body odor. The fried food a given, but the BO was no doubt due to the vast economic mix of redneckery inhabiting this particular freeway hell hole. I can only imagine that the inhabitants of this particular gin joint had eaten there for years, as their waste lines joined the vast and growing obesity epidemic in these United States. Given my previous comparison I would imagine that you get the idea; however, for those of you that have not seen Road House let me help you. The floors stuck to the bottom of my shoes, I felt after every step that I had been weighted to the floor. I feared that I had taken the wrong flight this morning and landed in Detroit.

Service: An extremely surly and annoyed killer whale of a human being manned the counter. Upon my asking what was good, he replied “just order something it’s all good.” His counter parts in the kitchen appeared to have showered sometime in 1965 and the smell accompanying the staff confirmed this assertion.

Chicken Wings: While I ate every last one they tasted as though they had been deep fried in the sweat of a thousand hobos. The smell of this particular “appetizer” was so rancid and vile that had I not been starving to death I would have caused to most noxious of gastronomical reactions. How one screw up a chicken wing I will never know, but these guys managed it.

Catfish: First it is clear that everything is bigger in Texas..(See Picture) I ordered 3 PIECES of catfish I was delivered 3 WHOLE cat fish. Given the ambiance I surprised they did not have heads. Here we have a meal that should have embodied all that is sacred in the genre of fried foods. Again I was sorely mistaken. These fish were likely caught in the ninth ward after Katrina… You could say with very little doubt that this was not the “Catch of the Day.” Freshness aside I am almost 100% certain that there are seagulls in the Gulf of Mexico that have ingested less toxic oil than I did in the last 12 minutes. I wonder if I will wake up tomorrow turned inside out…..

Overall: I guess you can judge based on my raving review that this place is not worth a stop by, but it was either eat at Denny’s or entertain myself.. It is likely however that I will not awake in the morning either from the salmonella that I likely contracted or the impending anomalies that are likely brewing in my lower intestine. If I were engulfed in flames and covered with angry killer bees I would not enter for help.

On Something Scale… 1

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cattlemens Steak House

Cattlemen’s Steak House is by the very frame work of the word a landmark. Having been in business for over 100 years operating both as a steak house and butcher shop their knowledge of steak is legendary.

The sign in front looks as though it belongs to a strip club and frankly the exterior décor would not lead you to believe much different. It is dank and darkly lit and sits in a part of Oklahoma City known as ‘Stock Yard Town.” As is customary to my experience I am alone and walking into the unknown; this time a steak house known best (recently) for serving our last president his favorite steak in Oklahoma. You could say that I was a touch out of my element.

Striking my eyes in this barrage of old world “cowboydom” was the bright red booths worn carpet and diner feel that embodies most every Denny’s I have ever frequented. It is at best a rundown family restaurant by the look of it, and I am already dreading what may come.

I was greeted by a creature who looks as if Barbara Streisand and Mothra mated and lead to the diner bar for my meal. I was then greeted by the second largest person I have ever laid eyes on… Clearly Oklahoma is not focused on fitness as both of the ladies I encountered outweighed my wife’s Hummer, AND by themselves AND handily.

As ambience is now clear lets focus on the food and drink.

Wine List: Extensive…I was impressed……
Merlot California
Shiraz Australia
White Zinfandel (Yes its on there)
Cabernet California


I was feeling like a connoisseur of all things bizarre having watched Andrew Zimmer for a bit in a slumber; I ordered the “Lamb Fries.” Sheep testicles are apparently a delicacy in Ok City and I was proud to join the ranks of those who had devoured them… They taste like chicken with the consistency of shrimp…They taste like nothing…and I mean NOTHING.

The steak hailed by our former president as one of his favorite on earth was in short over rated, and over cooked. It had the consistency of a IHOP breakfast steak. I have eaten better meals at Outback Steak House on a bad day. This unidentifiable cut of meat was possibly the most boring flavorless thing I have ever put in my mouth… The only thing that gave it any flavor was the Au Jous smothering it.

For the sake of time let me summarize. The waitresses should be consultants as to how one might get “marbling” into their cattle, as they are clearly subject matter experts. The food was boring and made no impression at all. The red wine (served chilled) was hilariously sad. The ambience was that of a truck stop in Nowheresville. The only redeeming qualities were the landmark status and the pleasant service. Do not bother.

Given Adam Richman of Man Vs. Food said this place was great as well makes me think that he is a mediocre hack who ought to hang out with Anthony Bourdain for as to learn about good food. I suppose it’s no wonder this man eats 1100 pound burgers for a living…

Something Scale:
This place is a joke I give it a 2.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ray's PeGe

I am here in the heart of Cajun Country, literally sitting diagonal to a swamp, anticipating what is touted as the best sandwich between Monroe and New Orleans.... Having ordered from the short order cook (a person I have come to recognize in most circles as a culinary master) I am literally giddy.

The red ripped booths, and stained tile floor set the stage for what is clearly a beloved establishment in the hearts of all who inhabit Monroe, LA.

The delivery of this gravy laden, 2000 calorie, meatwich brings tears to my eye... Misty and emotional I take the first bite.

Until today I was unaware that roast beef could suck the moisture out of ones soul, especially when covered in gravy.... The bread a slighlty more stale rendition of dick clarks libido. I could liken the gravy to milk of magnesia, as it had the same flavor and identical texture. I was impressed that the fries, the roastbeef, nor the gravy had a disernable flavor of anykind (Minus Milk of Magnesia.)

Clearly the people of Monroe, LA have either lost way or they are completely delusional.. Subway makes a better sandwich and it is closer to my hotel... Perhaps I should have reviewed my 5 dollar footlong from yesterday.

Essentailly I would rather devour rancid dolphin flesh at a PETA rally than ever eat here again.

On the something scale they score a 1...But only because they had the appearance of a worn local haunt that should serve amazing food....

Lets see what this evening brings...

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day One Chapter One

Deplaning today caught me a bit off guard. The palpable anxiety was nothing short of terrifying. This place holds some of my best memories, as well as my single worst.

For the next 2 days I will do battle with my psyche, scratching at every moment to hang on to that which is truly good. To say that my heart is anxious, or to articulate my love and hate in this place would be in a word “Impossible.”

Hopefully a cold beer will calm my nerves enough to reconcile the demons in my mind, and allow that most sought after quality. Peace.


Something Different

The next 2 days will be a bit more touchy feely and dive a little deeper in to my heart than the blog has seen in the past. My feelings in this place (Charlotte) are vast and incredibly diverse and I feel that its best to vent them to those you who want read it.

I may at times talk food, but this week will be mostly dedicated to heart.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Casa Bonita (Lakewood, CO)

This place is difficult to miss… The GIANT pink tower bearing its name stands as a beacon of Colorado Pride to those have spent their formative years in the Greater Denver Area. An institution if you will, one of the places in this world that locals know and keep hidden until you have lived here long enough to call Colorado home.

Ambiance: To say that Casa Bonita is an assault on the senses would be a bit of an understatement. Cliff divers, caves to explore, and poorly acted stage shows every 15 minutes, all back dropped by a cascading indoor waterfall, are just a few of the entertainment choices available in this pantheon of child hood playthings. It seems around every corner there is somewhere new to go, and something else to see.

Of all the attractions my favorite was Black Bart’s Cave. This is just "one of those things." Even as an adult Black Bart's Cave gets your imagination moving and gives you just a hint of excitement. Dark corners, tight turns and little bits of poor special effects give you the feeling of being a kid once again. I can only wonder what this was like for my brave little Kai. He would go through the cave only once, citing “that’s spooky daddy, I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Kai (our two year old) was thrilled and amazed with the stage shows. As he ate, Gorillas, Pirates, and Cliff Divers all came into view and preformed for his amusement. He clapped, smiled and paid little attention to the meal before him. He was in a word bewildered by the amazing spectacles in front of his young eyes. .

Food: Let’s talk price then quality.

Food price: The first thing one might notice is to gain entrance to Casa Bonita you MUST buy and entrée. The pricing is VICIOUS. For a KIDS plate of “Chicken” strips, a Taco/Enchilada Plate and a Pitcher of Margaritas we paid $44.99. To put that price in perspective, I have dined at 4 star restaurants for less per person.

Food Quality: I should also tell you that indigestion is on the menu as a side item.

The quality of food is nothing less than atrocious.
Enchilada = Flour tortilla covered in melted cheese wiz
Taco = Old El Paso taco seasoning, grade D beef, and a hint of salmonella

I am reasonably certain the beans and rice are made with remaindered food supplies from taco bell.

If you have the mature palate of a two year old you will enjoy yourself tremendously. The “chicken” tenders and French fries were hailed as “good dinner” and given an enthusiastic thumb up.

Service: Expect NOTHING. Upon entry we were greeted by a Troll whose job it was to force me into buying a meal. My wife has Celiac Disease, which for lack of a better term is a wheat allergy. When I explained that she could not have the items on the menu, the troll began to enlighten us. Apparently my wife could have FLOUR tortillas, and the BREADED fried chicken. When I retorted that those items are made with flour and not suitable for this special diet, the troll retorted saying “I thought flour was made of just flour, I will check with my manager.” 5 minutes later we were allowed to pass without a meal purchase.

Our “server” was nice, and delivered the items in his charge quickly. Those items were the pitcher of margaritas, and sopa pillas. I was a little surprised that the ticket requested a tip.

Overall: I don’t know that I could rate this establishment on the “Something” scale, as it stands as a landmark and local treasure. I have never heard anything good about the food, and for good reason. I believe that eating Casa Bonita fare stands as a rite of passage in the Denver area, and having now done so I feel one step closer to being a native Coloradan. If you're planning a trip to Casa Bonita I will give only 2 pieces of advice.

1. Eat before you go and consider the meal your admission price
2. Let go and give your inner child a tour of Black Bart’s Cave

Consider this the worlds first Mexican Chucky Cheese, and have a blast. Totally worth the trip.

Happy Eating

Nick Pollard

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tavern on the Water, Boston, MA (Charlestown Navy Yard)

Rarely do I take time to review a restaurant twice, but hey the food was good so I went back. The format will be a touch different given 2 dishes being reviewed.

Atmosphere: the Tavern on the Water has what is possibly the single best view of Boston I could have imagined. At dusk as the sun sets, and the buildings glow as if the whole city is located on the sun. As darkness falls the city lights reveal a city alive with people at work and at play. Boston is a beautiful city, and for the purpose of gazing into its heart and vibrancy there is no better location than Tavern on the Water.

Night One Table Service: My waitress for the evening was less than enthusiastic about her role in the world. I would imagine she would a better match as a DMV Clerk. Emotionless, and unexciting in every way. When I asked “what is the best thing on the menu?” She answered with “Dunno, I don’t eat here…” Not a resounding endorsement especially coming from the only waitress in the place. I did not reveal her destiny as a public servant at the time, as I thought the calling was best discovered in her own way.

Night 2 Bar Service: The bartender was very pleasant and helpful. Not the best service I have ever had, but certainly not the public servant I encountered the evening before.


Appetizer: Calamari is pretty much calamari where ever you go. It was good but a little chewier than I enjoy.

Fish and Chips: Jesus might work in the kitchen as a fry cook. I kid you not the fish were celestial… Flakey, with a STRONG crunch on the outside, I am seriously salivating thinking about it now… What was most impressive was the whole made tartar sauce. The flavor was unlike any I had tasted before, salty, but sweet, I am in a way perplexed as I am unable to connect the flavors in a discernable sentence. If you find yourself in the Charlestown Navy Yard, and you're hungry…Go eat this. I Dub the meal “The Fish and Chips Holy Grail” on this side of the pond…

Eric Pratt Concerning Fish and Chips: Jesus did not make the fish and chips but the meal “met expectations.”

Drunken Lobster and Shrimp with Red Sauce: Good, but mostly pasta. I will say that will a touch of Tabasco and a lot of salt this is not a bad meal, but I certainly would not spent the $16.95 again. Somehow they missed the mark on this, but nailed the fish and chips…

Overall: Great place to go. Sit at the bar unless you enjoy the service you receive while renewing your driver’s license. Order the fish and chips and you maybe securing your place in heaven. On the “something scale” I would give this one a 6, points mostly for celestial fish and incredible views.
Happy Eating!