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We can’t be everywhere, obviously, but we’re sure interested in everywhere.   We welcome your contributions, reviews, raves, pans, and pix.   Send us a pic of your food, the place, the menu if you can, along with your pithy comments about your experience.  Tell us whether you want to publish it with your real name or alias (and tell us what that would be).  While the focus has been hamburgers, hot dogs, and pizza, you’ll note that many different types of cuisines have been discussed here, and will continue to be.  Join us!  Here’s where to send your dope.

Chicago Suburban Theater Chain – Classic Cinemas

What am I doing reviewing a chain of movie theaters?   Just letting you know how impressed I was  with this operation.  For first run movies, value pricing, clean facilities, enthusiastic employees, reasonable concessions, this family owned chain of theaters in suburban Chicago is just the ticket for your night out.  Classic Cinemas 13 theaters are strategically located across Chicagoland, and the company has been around since starting with one theater in 1978.

A first run movie will cost your $5 all day Tuesday,any day matinees, if you’re a kid or over 60.   Most other times it’s just a couple bucks more.  Here’s the rub.  Ready? Wait for it.  Free refills on popcorn and soda.  Wow.

I’ve been out to a movie in other cities and the evening has cost me over $50, each.  Today, first run movie, soda, corn,  less than $20.  The movie?  Bill Murray in St. Vincent.  Superb.

Classic Cinemas Review

Theater Locations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.classiccinemas.com/

Home Cookin’ – DiGiorno Frozen Pizza Review, Pizzeria Style (new product)

Busman’s holiday. A funny phrase. It means I’m taking time off from my job as a write to write this, which is supposed to be a hoppy, but has turned into a second job. No rest for the wicked, as they say.

Developed originally by Kraft, the DiGiorno frozen pizza line now calls Switzerland based Nestle “momma”, and markets their pies under the DiGiorno name in the United States, and under the Delissio label.  No idea why the split.

DiGiorno has long used the advertising tag line “it’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” as a reference to there being a frozen pizza product that is every bit as good as a pizza delivered from a shop.

They have a host of types of pizza products and configurations; from classic thin crust, to flat bread – garlic bread pizza and rising crust. One of their more interesting products is the “pizza and sides” concept, emulating the offerings of the budget delivery chains, from DiGiorno you can get a frozen pizza and boneless chicken “Wyngz” in one box. A little sauce as well. Or pizza and breadsticks.

Nestle’s latest offering is “Pizzeria style”, which strikes me kind of funny, since the previously mentioned tag line would seem to indicate the manufacturer thinks ALL of their pies are “pizzeria style.”

The difference, apparently, according to the fat cats in Vevey, is that this pie has a “crust that’s crispy, yet soft and airy on the inside, a flavorful sauce and premium toppings.”

I guess it’s too much that we hope all frozen pizzas are crispy and flavorful with premium toppings. I wonder what the opposite would be?

Nevertheless, I picked one up to give it a whirl.

DiGiorno Pizzeria StyleThe box is designed and shaped to give the impression of a large pizza than actually comes in the box.  The frozen pie is pictured to the left, and yes, I DID rearrange the pepperoni for the photo. Yes, of COURSE it came out of the box with all the toppings on one side of the pie.

The box states this is ‘primo pepperoni pizza” and it is “created with care.” (Which Nestle has trademarked.  Are their other pies created with not so much care?)

Further there are “no artificial flavors.”  I’m not really sure what that means.

375 at 18-20 minutes say the operating instructions, with a cautionary ” not ready to eat – cook thoroughly” warning. Thanks for telling me!

I am a  bit predisposed to not favor this pie, pizzeria style or not. The crust is going to be a little too thick for me.

The first thing I noticed when the pie came from the oven was the aroma, or rather lack of it. No pizzeria smell.  Not like local product Vito and Nicks II which we tried last week.

The crust?  Yes, while it is ‘crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside’, it’s too thick for my personal preference. It would definetly be labeled “thick crust” at any pizzeria.  The sauce is rather non-intrusive, not imparting any particular flavor one way or another, but the cheese is good, albeit sparse, and the pepperoni flavor is nice, but the slices cupped during baking, which generally indicates a higher fat content.  I know, I know, some people insist real flavor comes from fat.  Each slice of pepp here is dotted with some herbs.

Overall?  Nothing new, tastes like dozens of other frozen pizzas.

See, here’s where I don’t get it.  Why can’t these giant multinationals make a good frozen pie?  For goodness sake, Nestle is the largest food company in the world!  Yet lots of little guys kick their butts when it come to making a good frozen pizza.

I have a suggestion for Paul Bulcke, the current CEO of Nestle.  On your next trip to the US, step inside a Trader Joe’s grocery store. Trader Joe’s imports frozen pizzas from France and Italy, and have several different varieties including flatbreads.  The truffle one is out of this world.

Now skedaddle back to Europe and buy the companies supplying Trader Joes.  Now rebrand those pizzas with the DiGiorno name, and toss out your current recipes.

Just a thought.  Wanna try a great frozen pizza?

DiGiorno Pizzeria Style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiGiorno pizza review

Elgin, IL – Kendalls Kountry Kitchen Review

Kendalls Country Kitchen

Google Maps Street View

Damn.  Old timey diner, affable chatty waitresses (including the owner),  great food, great value.  So unassuming from the outside (left) you’d be likely to pass by if you weren’t looking for it, or one of the locals that has made a daily habit of stopping in for the last couple decades.  I know I would if I lived around there.

Perused the menu, ordered the “Country Fried Steak” to which the response was “I’m sorry, we’re out, you should try the chicken fried chicken, it’s really good.”  But of course, I HEARD her say “chicken fried steak” cause that’s what I was thinking about, but was too confused at that point to ask “what’s the difference between Country Fried Steak and Chicken Fried Steak?”   If I would have asked, I would have understood at Kendalls, the latter is chicken.

Some think eating chicken with eggs is kind of weird.  Cycle of life kind of thing.  My neighbor down the street, Al, who raises chickens in his back yard, gets so many eggs he ends up feeding lots of them back to the chickens.  Ok, that is weird.  Cannibal chickens.

The ‘steak’ was ample,a nicely crisped crust, and a handsome piece of breast meat inside.  Big bonus, it’s served with sausage gravy, a smooth and creamy concoction with nice chunks of breakfast sausage.   Add a couple eggs, hashbrowns, and toast, and you’re gonna get outta there for less than seven bucks.

It’s a very long breakfast and lunch menu,and on a Saturday morning, there were empty tables.   If you’re tired of waiting for a table for an hour at some place on Randall Road on the weekend, head down to Elgin.  You’ll be happy and richer at the end of your meal.  CASH ONLY.  ATM in the bar across the  street.

 

Kendalls Country Kitchen

Two over easy with hash browns

 

Kendalls Country Kitchen

Chicken Fried Chicken

 

 

 

Kendalls Kountry Kitchen Review

I Get Smacked Hard on One of My Reviews

Rebuttal to Culinary Circle Frozen Pizza Review

I seldom get comments on this site, and I welcome that.  Often my reviews are reposted on other sites, and sometimes they do get feedback at those locations.  Such is the case with reader “Dwayne from Maine”  who took exception to my opinion on Culinary Circle (a store brand for Albertsons and other stores) frozen pizza. (My original review appeared four years ago).

Everybody has an opinion, and as I often say in my reviews, “this post reflects my personal taste, and the product may be perfect for you.”  You are entitled.  And you are welcome to respond to any reviews here, or post your own.   I’m happy for Dwayne that this is the perfect pizza for him, however, he made a number of assumptions from my review that were’t/aren’t true.  And that’s ok, too.

Dwayne from Maine, sez:

HAHAHAHAHAHA YOU IGNORAMUS! You’re review is a joke. Actually, YOU’RE A JOKE! First off, if you’re deciding to buy pizza based on how many ounces it is, right off the bat, you’re already a gluttonous retard in my book. Then, your DUMB ASS mocked the instructions on the back of the box – which EVERY frozen food product shares the EXACT same instructions for legal reasons, because of retards like you as a matter of fact! I don’t understand the motivation to your need to mock these instructions, like you have never seen the same instructions on every other frozen food product. Your ignorant ass also doesn’t even know how to use a pizza stone, and to boot PIZZA STONES ARE NOT MADE FOR COOKING FROZEN PIZZAS YOU STUPID F***! FROZEN PIZZAS ARE DESIGNED TO BAKE UP IN A REGULAR OVEN THE SAME WAY THAT NON FROZEN DOUGH IS SUPPOSED TO COME OUT ON A PIZZA STONE! HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE?!! The CC pizzas are basically the BEST frozen pizzas on the market. They have the best topping/crust combinations and options, and the best final product on the market. I pay $4 for these pizzas when they are on sale, and $5 normally. Your complaints about the price and size are absolutely invalid and retarded beyond understanding. I will NEVER EVER EVER be able to EVER take any sort of culinary review or advice from you. EVER. For ANYTHING. It’s REALLY REALLY bad when a person ruins their review “career” only with ONE single review. HAHHAHAHAHA what a JOKE you are!!! I’m certain that any other reviews you have made are likely garbage and not worth 1 minute of my time to read it. I have never seen a single food review in my life that has been so stupid, and so unanimously disagreed with at such an extreme (basically, 0-42 – ZERO people agree with you, and FORTY-TWO think you are an ignorant jer*off!) BAHAHAHAHAHAH!!

 

 

 

culinary circle frozen pizza review

New Orleans, LA – Cafe Degas Review

(From our archives) I’ve intentionally shied away from the Café Degas, because it’s one of those places that many natives find absolutely thrilling. That’s usually my first clue to avoid it like the plague.

I frequently find that my view of “outstanding” varies widely from my native friends, but that’s largely due to the fact I’ve been exposed to restaurants outside of the area, and have a base of comparison. When my native buddies talk about a local restaurant as “outstanding,” I realize it is because they are comparing it to the Tiffin Inn.

Desperate to find something nice to say about the Café Degas, I come up empty. It is tied with my visit to the Café Adelaide a few weeks ago, for worst overall dining experience in New Orleans.

We could start with parking, but there is none. At that corner of Esplanade, with Whole Foods and a few other shops, parking is non-existent. The Café could well use a valet service, but service doesn’t seem part of their vocabulary.

I had made a reservation and arrived promptly on time. One enters the Café thru the bar, and walking into that space, four employees were busy talking about everything under the sun, but none asked if they could help me. I wandered into the dining room alone, where a single waiter was waiting on the one couple that had arrived before me. The waiter DID ask if he could help me, but it was more the kind of “are you lost” type of inquiry. I told him I had a reservation, and he told me to go back up front and see the hostess. She was nowhere to be found, so I returned to the dining room, and the waiter did show me to a table.

The place did fill up over the course of the next few hours, and “fill up” is an understatement, as they have crammed far too many tables into the small space, claiming an “authentic French bistro” ambiance. The owners and I must have visited different bistros during our journeys to France. Certainly the French buy more comfortable chairs, anyway, so that if space is at a premium, at least your personal space is enjoyable. Dega’s chairs are patio furniture.

The menu (“French with a Creole accent”) (geez, why does EVERYTHING have to have a “Creole accent?” – why can’t one get simple classical French cuisine in this town?) is short, with a few nightly specials.

As restaurants, like everyone else, struggle with increased energy and supply costs, they look to cut costs, and Café Degas has done it on two fronts – wait staff and ingredients.

In short, the service was lousy, the food worse.

The house salad with Dijon vinaigrette was bad enough (btw, add gorgonzola for a buck extra); I ordered “parmesan encrusted veal with caper lemon butter” for an entrée, and the first bite cried out “chicken fried steak!”

Some portions of the meat were inedible.

Service was nearly non-existent, again, probably due to cut backs, the room is noisy and crowded, and a peculiarity with the air conditioning causes the vents to drip water on diners. A woman at the table next to me, having had enough to the drips alternating hitting her plate or her shoulder, asked the waiter to do something about it. He asked her to stand up, whereupon he stood on her chair and wiped the grill above her with a towel.

Let’s not talk about what color the towel was after a single wipe.

Or the look in her eyes as she glanced at the chair that she was supposed to sit back down on.

Café Degas is a disaster. Another in a series.

The good thing about the evening? I got to leave at the end.

Café Degas on Urbanspoon

 

Cafe Degas Review

Duluth, MN – Tavern on the Hill Review

Tavern on the Hill Review

Junior High Demolished

Due to an anticipated major shift in the demographics of school aged children, the city of Duluth, MN went through a significant reorganization of the public schools several years ago, closing some, modernizing some, and repurposing others.

Part of this plan was demolishing one of the two junior high schools (grades 7-9) in the eastern portion of the city, Woodland Junior, which is within spitting distance of the University of Minnesota’s Duluth branch.

The resulting large piece of vacant property and the adjacent woods, so close to the University, proved a lure for potential developers, who envisioned a large mixed use development similar to the Main U campus’ Dinkytown.

Apartments, retail, services, and restaurants are at the center of the plan, with the first couple phases now open.

The first full service restaurant to open is called “Tavern on the Hill,” and is part of the local Blackwoods hospitality group. The debut also marks the opening of the first full bar within staggering distance of the campus.

Tavern on the Hills ReviewThe restaurant touts its locavore connection, sourcing as much locally as they are able to, (which really doesn’t explain items like ahi and North Atlantic Salmon) and offer a very diverse menu of sandwiches, pizza, flatbreads, full plates, tacos and “sushi” (designed for the Duluth palate). Several menu items are new to the area, including fish tacos and dishes with bison meat.

A small ‘market’ just inside the door of the restaurant offers take-away menu items, prepared and packaged to go.

The Kawika and members of the Duluth burger posse hit the restaurant on 11/18, and reported having ‘one of the best tasting burgers’ they had experienced in a long time, crowing about the quality of the meat. Servers offered the burgers in one of two modes: “pink” or “not pink,” and the kitchen obliged.

Craft cocktails and beers are available, and the restaurant is open daily at 11AM, closing at 1 AM, except Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2 AM.

Tavern on the Hill Review

Cheeseburger with Fries

Tavern on the Hill Review

 

Photos, with exception of “Junior High Demolished”  copyright 2014 Kawikamedia.com, used with permission.

 

 

Tavern on the Hill Review

Tennessee Pride Sausage Reviews

Today part of ConAgra, Odom’s Tennessee Pride was started in the mid 40s by two brothers whom combined their knowledge of the meat business and home delivery (from earlier jobs). Headquartered in Madison, TN, with plants in Tennessee and Arkansas, Tennessee Pride makes sausage in rolls, links, pre-cooked, and packaged sausage gravy. They have recently expanded into the heat and eat breakfast sandwich segment, with sausage biscuits, turkey sausage biscuits, and chicken biscuits.

Today I’m cooking up their 1 pound hot sausage roll, sliced into patties, on a cast iron skillet. Their websites frequently features recipes and coupons. Ingredients are straight forward:  Fresh Pork (including fresh ham and tenderloins), seasonings, water, sugar, salt and MSG). Nutritional information is not on the site, but I found this elsewhere:

Country Sausage : Per 2 oz – Calories: 200 kcal | Fat: 17.00 g | Carbs: 0.00 g | Protein: 9.00 g.

I often buy fresh ground pork and season it myself when I’m in the mood for breakfast patties, but once and awhile, I prefer getting it from the pros, like Tennessee Pride.  It’s a lean, fine grind, nicely seasoned, with a little bit of kick in the ‘hot’ variety.  Need some Odom’s sausage or sausage gravy shipped to your house?

Tennessee Pride Sausage

Cookin’ Up

 

 

 

Tennessee Pride Sausage Reviews

Fried Onion Burger Recipe

Every year, in El Reno, Oklahoma, they hold the Fried Onion Burger Festival; they’ve been cooking up their special recipe burgers for nigh onto fifty years or more.  Local favorites include Robert’s Grill.

I had a fancy to whip some up at home recently, with mixed results.

In Oklahoma, a handful of fresh ground is placed on a flattop, smashed, smother with onions, and cooked until crispy.  That was my intent as well.

I started with freshly sliced white onions, sweated in butter in a cast iron skillet, and took a course ground 1/4 pound of 85/15 and smashed it on the onions.

Fried Onion Burger Recipe

 

Fried Onion Burger Recipe

 

I over cooked them, intentionally, trying to get the crispy edges and crust that the Okie burger purveyors serve up, but wasn’t successful.  I dressed them with mustard and house made pickles, and achieved a close proximity to the OK version.  I think a hotter skillet from the onset would have made the difference.  Very tasty, nonetheless!

Fried Onion Burger Recipe

fried onion burger recipe

Barrington, IL – Sergios Pizza Review

Sergios Barrington ReivewSome years ago, we relocated from Los Angeles to this Norman Rockwellian idyllic Chicago suburb. It was for our daughter’s benefit, we wanted her to have a great education in a safe environment, and grow up with midwestern values. For the most part, it was a successful move. At the time, after local exploration, (and my previous choice burning down, not my fault), my “go to” pizza became the thin crust at Sergio’s. They’ve moved a couple times since then, and changed owners, but they are still grinding out great pies for the past thirty years.

Passing through the burbs this summer, on a mission to look at some horses for sale, it was appropriate to re-sample Sergio’s, and see how my memory compared to reality.  While most people identify Chicago with “Deep Dish Pizza” (except Jon Stewart), the thin crust pies are really excellent, cracker crusts, mounds of real cheese, excellent sausage, and square cut.

This is the 16 incher. They have larger, smaller, thick crust and stuffed – a full menu of other goodies, too, sandwiches, ‘cue,  pasta, salads, and small bites.

Sergio’s crust is flaky, the sizable  hand-pulled sausage chunks are flavorful, and the pie has spectacularly high quality cheese.  You’ll also notice a distinctive difference with the tomato sauce; all of their sauces are made in house, and the pizza sauce is very hearty with a full tomato flavor.

Another upside with Sergio’s is they charge 15-20% less than local competitors.  A welcome respite.

Here’s the Sergio’s menu.  Got a craving or miss Chicago foods?  Here are some companies that ship pizzas, dogs, and more.

Sergios Pizza Barrington Review

 

Sergio's Pizza on Urbanspoon
Sergios Pizza Review

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