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Landshire Double Charbroil Review

Landshire Burger ReviewAnd the quest for the perfect gas station sandwich goes on;  as you know, I’ve tried a lot of these over the years, as a search of the site will reveal. There have been profiles of industry giant AdvancePierre, (who also makes the frozen Steak N Shake burgers), and regional companies like “Mom’s” out of Fort Worth.   I’ve had ’em from the Dollar Store, AM/PM, Walgreens, various gas stations, grocery stores,  you name it.  Done that, been there.

If you have the slightest curiousity about how sandwiches are made “em masse,” I found this video a year ago.

Today’s victim is from Landshire, a fifty year old firm outside of St. Louis, recently acquired by the aforementioned AdvancePierre.  Landshire cranks out over 50,000,000 sandwiches a year, both the ready to eat and heat and eat variety, which end up on the shelves of C stores, gas stations, groceries, and in vending machines across the country.

In the case of the “Double Charbroil with Cheese,” it as on the shelf at WalMart.  Instructions call for heating it for less than a minute, in the wrapper with one end cracked.

The sandwich weighs 6 ounces and is comprised of two beef patties (beef, textured vegetable protein and a gaggle of other ingredients), American and “mild white” cheese, and a “fresh baked sesame seed bun.”  The package is boldly emblazoned with “New Look!”

The taste and texture is OK, better than most of these types of products.  It has a little hint of “grill flavor” (smoke) on it, and it’s kind of salty it seems. The bun survived the microwave well. Sometimes you can get very unsatisfactory results with microwave buns (hard as a rock or mushy) or at least I have.  The bottom bun is a little ‘damp’ from the steam created during the cooking stage, but that dissipates if you let the sandwich sit a minute before consuming. (You were gonna pile on the condiments, anyway, weren’t you)?

Nutritional make-up is not on the package, nor on the website even though there is a page for it. Depending on those figures, these are probably good to keep on hand for quick kid meals.

I’d buy it again if I had the quick burger urge. A lot better value than comparably sized fast food offerings.

Landshire Burger Review

In package, prior to nuking

Landshire Burger Review

Out of the microwave


Landshire Burger Review

Landshire Factory





Landshire Double Charbroil Review


Big Daddys Review, Duluth, MN

Stopped in here before, yakked about it then.  May be one of Duluth’s best.  Kawika, head of the Minnesota burger posse was back today for the third pound, American cheese, medium rare, and a gajillion fresh cut fries.  Most excellent.  Full menu online.  Find ’em at the top of Piedmont Avenue. Fresh ground daily, hand made patties.

Big Daddys Duluth Review




Big Daddys Review

Rooftop Garden McCormick Place, Chicago

Urban Rooftop Farm ChicagoI first learned about urban/rooftop gardens from my friend Sara Pool, Portland, Oregon’s leading garden and foraging expert. .  She is a big advocate of this kind of thing, and Portland has been an early adapter of the concept.

Attending the National Restaurant Show this past week, I was interested to learn about the garden atop the convention center, McCormick Place. Depending on who is measuring and what criteria is being used, McCormick Place may well be the largest convention center in the world, at over 2.5 million square feet.  It opened  in 1960 at a cost in today’s dollars of nearly a cool billion.

Savor, the consulting group responsible for the food service at the center, partnered with the Chicago Botanic Garden to set up a usable urban farm on the roof of the center.

The garden covers two and a half acres and supplies thousands of pounds of beets, kale, carrots, lettuce, peppers, beans and herbs to Savor’s own outlets in the center, as well as to local restaurants.  Savor’s use takes “farm to fork” to an entirely new level of definition.  20,000 honey bees and 2,000 earthworms hang around to do their part in garden production.

Another benefit of the garden is the Chicago Botanic folks use it as part of their internship program, so young volunteers are able to learn all about where their food comes from and how it gets to their kitchens.

Urban Rooftop Farm Chicago



Fuddruckers Review

Fuddruckers ReviewSpoiler alert.  I really enjoyed this visit.   Can’t remember when the last time was that I stopped in a Fuddruckers, but it was certainly prior to their menu expansion, including “exotic” burgers, like elk, boar, turkey, kobe, and others (depending on location).

I went with the elk ($9.99) and it was cooked to order, got a side of rings ($2.70) and an iced tea ($1.75).

The “fixins” bar, (mustard, mayo, molten cheese,  ketchup, garlicy dill chips, onion, jalapenos, lettuce, tomato and more) was well stocked and immaculate.

This location had the Coke Freestyle fountain machines, that pack 100 + varieties of soda and other Coke products into a single vend operation.

The fries had seasoned salt on them, I can take that or leave it, but it was a pretty light dusting.  The onion rings are cut thin and have a light crispy breading.

There are a lot of other menu choices, both for mains, and sides.

One kind of “oh oh” for me is both the fries and rings came from a warming tray, so they could have been fresher, and I’d also like to see mini trays or plates at the fixings bar.

Other than that?  When I want a fast-casual burger, Fuddruckers is my new go-to place!

Fuddruckers Review

Elk Burger on Wheat Bun

Fuddruckers Review

Fuddruckers on Urbanspoon
Fuddruckers Review

Big Chef Review – Schaumburg, IL

Big Chef Review SchaumburgClassically trained chefs open burger restaurants.  As sign of the times, one suspects, and capitalizing on an “American craze” the past few years.  I don’t know what started the current infatuation with burgers, tho I thought personally it was a reflection of the economic downturn – people still wanted to go out for beef, but steaks had become a little dear on menus.

In any regard, chef Crisitano Bassani, of the classic Italian Bapi Restaurant in suburban Chicago, got bit by the burger bug and opened “Big Chef” in Schaumburg.  It’s kind of tough to spot, set back in a strip mall, but if you’re heading east on Alqonquin and you hit Meachem, you’ve just missed it.

I was on my way somewhere else and the sign caught the corner of my eye, I made a quick uey into the parking lot and walked in.  Mid afternoon, Sunday, and the (perhaps) 60 seat eatery had one other table of four occupied, and a table of about ten young men who were just finishing up.

Unlike most new fangled burger restaurants these days, Big Chef has table service and linens.  A server brought a large bottle of water, a tall glass of ice, and the menu (how did they know about me and the water thing?).

The menu offers a number of interesting combination burgers (around $12 with one side), brick oven pizzas, and huge salads.  There is a full bar, with about ten stools in front of it, and an open kitchen design with a bar and stools facing it, as well.

Every day there is a special deal for extended hours, whereas any burger, salad, or pizza is $8.99.

I went with the bacon burger, which comes with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, and a well-melted spicy cheddar (don’t you hate it when there’s a slice of cold, unmelted cheese slapped on a burger – I sure do!).  You have  choice of buns from white, pretzel, onion, or wheat. Patties are a half pound of fresh ground hormone free angus.  Side choices are fries, sweet potato fries, house made chips, rings,  mashed or slaw.

The meat came as ordered (medium rare) accompanied by massive onion rings, with a light “panko-like/herb) coating, very crispy.  I opted for the pretzel roll, which is almost always my favorite, but the results can be good or bad, depending on the recipe.  Some pretzel roll doughs are laden with molasses, and it’s too sweet a bun for a savory burger, in my opinion.

The patty itself was very flavorful, and the vegetables fresh and crisp.  I didn’t feel the need to salt either the meat or rings, which is unusual for me.

I recommend your try Big Chef.  Desserts and ice cream concoctions also available. Full menu.

Big Chef Review Schaumburg

Bacon Burger w/ Rings


Big Chef Review SchaumburgBig Chef Review Schaumburg



Big Chef Burgers on Urbanspoon

Lobster Sliders Review


Lobster Slider ReviewI was so “kitchen bored” today, thought I would try out the “Lobster Sliders” I grabbed at dollar store a couple weeks ago.

Made by the “Pride and Joy” brand, part of Indian Ridge Shrimp Company out of Cauvin, LA, the (total weight) 3.5 ounce patties are made from lobster meat, bread crumbs, egg, spices, and a zillion other ingredients you can’t pronounce.

You can pan fry them (I did) or bake them, and the instructions cautions that they ‘burn’ easily, and I found that out.

They taste ‘vaguely’ like lobster, but more like a fast food fishwich without a crunchy coating. Worth a dollar? Sure. Worth buying again? Not for me.

Buns are not included. I dressed it with Cajun seasoning, mayo and diced dills.

Lobster Slider Review

Frozen, out of box

Lobster Slider Review

5 Min/Side, Fry Pan



Lobster Sliders Review

Zeitgeist Arts Cafe Update – Duluth, MN

Reviewed this is the past, here’s some updated photos from the latest menu; they sure didn’t have this kind of fancy-pants food in Duluth when I was growing up. Nope, exotic back then was …………maybe………..Egg Foo Yung.

Salad Nicoise

Salad Nicoise

Zeitgeist Arts Cafe

Bacon Wrapped Gouda Stuffed Dates

Zeitgeist Arts Cafe

Prosciutto Club



Zeitgeist Arts Cafe


Pizza Consumption & Order Methology Infographic

Get a Bigger Piece of the Pie [infographic]
Get a Bigger Piece of the Pie [infographic]
Compliments of

Larry the Cable Guy Biscuits and Gravy Review

Larry Cable Guy Biscuits Gravy ReviewI like sausage gravy.  I’m not terribly fond of biscuits, but will have them on occasion, seldom if ever, make them at home.  I’ve tried a mess o’ prepared gravies, canned, powdered, frozen, including Odom’s Tennessee Pride Sausage Gravy.  Most of the frozen brands (these, Jimmy Dean, Bob Evans) sell for slightly more than a buck.

Today I stumbled across “Larry the Cable Guy’s” version, which was, in fact, at the Dollar Tree, and unlike the other brands, is complete, in that it comes with biscuits.  It’s a heat and eat microwavable product, and the instructions follow the same rules as many of these types of eats, meaning heat, stir, heat, let sit.

I did all that. The finished product is pictured below, plated (I added the pepper). Verdict?  Really not all that bad, unless you are on a restricted diet (it has a gaggle of sodium and carbs).  Downside?  A couple.  Uneven heating even with a carousel microwave meant that one biscuit was soft and ‘flaky’ and the other was hard as a rock and couldn’t be cut even with a steak knife.

Also, if you shopping for very inexpensive foods, be prepared for the manufacturer to have made some sacrifice in the process, and one of the drawbacks of Larry’s Biscuits and Gravy is the packaging is very flimsy, and if you’re not careful, may result in spillage or burns.  I would suggest you put the whole package on a plate before heating.

For some (unknown to me) reason, most of Larry’s products are manufactured by contract companies in Minnesota.  The gravy is made by the company formerly known as Jeno’s, from Duluth (pizza rolls, Michelinas).

Now I see Bob Evan’s has a sausage dispenser for C stores (pictured up top). That’s what I need for MY kitchen!

Larry Cable Guy Biscuits Gravy Review

Larry Cable Guy Biscuits Gravy Review







larry the cable guy biscuits and gravy Review

Buddig Corned Beef Review

Carl Buddig Corned Beef ReviewI call these kind of lunch meats “pressed, chopped, and formed,” but on the package, I notice it says “cooked, chopped, and pressed.”  My bad.  My mom was on a kick with these kind of ‘meats’ for supplying our brown bag lunches during our coming up years.  Although my siblings and I were relatively healthy and active, our mother had given up the fight years before, and so our school lunches became extensions of whatever diet she was on.

One year, it was sandwiches on toast that was sliced horizontally, so the sammie used one slice of bread, not two.  Another year, it was yogurt, and to this day, I can’t look at the stuff.  Lots of pb and j, of course, bologna and lunch meats like those from  Carl Buddig.  The product always amused me, as if they weren’t different ‘colors,’  you might think they are all the same product.  Taste the same, to me, anyway.

The scariest thing of all?  The price has hardly changed in fifty years.   These were 2 / $1 at the WalMart.

Buddig has been around since the late 1800s in  distant suburb of Chicago; picture of the modern factory is below.  It’s still being run by descendants of the founder.

There’s a couple ways you could use these products, diced as an ingredient, though don’t look for it to impart all that much flavor, or as a base for your kid’s sandwiches, piling on the vegetables to give it substance, crunch, and balanced nutrition.

As for me, it’s always my preference to make my own lunch meats at home, using full cuts of muscle, prep, cook and run through the slicer.  Short of that, I enjoy a quality expensive corned beef, like the ones made by the Carnegie Deli in NY, or Chicago’s Vienna Beef brand.

But props to Carl Buddig for their “Old Wisconsin” line; their natural casing hot dogs and polish sausages are some of my very favorites.

Carl Buddig Corned Beef Review


Buddig Corned Beef Review

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I Needa McRib!

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