Archive for the ‘Hot off the Grill’ Category
I am generally prepared to not be so wild about places that receive a huge amount of hype; as an example, I found Umami Burger to be……..something worth laughing about.
And when citiy’s make their “best of the best” list, those are always awful, like Stanich’s in Portland, or Port of Call in New Orleans.
Around the year 2000, New York acclaimed chef Danny Meyer, owner of restaurants including Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, Blue Smoke and Jazz Standard, The Modern, Cafe 2 and Terrace 5 at MoMA and others, started fooling around with burgers from a trailer in a NY park, using high quality ingredients, and cooked to order burgers and fries. Today there are about 50 Shake Shacks in the US, and another dozen overseas, with the promise of “up to 450” coming.
In physical appearance, the burger looks like an offering from In N Out (another place I think is high-overrated, and I don’t get it), but the similarity ends there.
Meyer sourced his ground beef from the best burger meat company in the world, Pat LaFrieda, and the fresh, soft (but supportive) potato buns are from Martin’s. Fresh chopped condiments are good and crisp.
The burger patty is thin, smashed, and crispy around the edges which is perfect for my personal tastes, and the meat has flavor all on it’s own, and to me, that’s how I judge a great burger.
The Shackburger (see complete menu) is a cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato, and Shack Sauce. When questioned about the latter, the countr person said “it’s our own, house-made, spicy mayo.” What a great answer, huh? And it was tasty.
Crinkle cut fries are the side, and there were apparently complaints early in the chain’s life about their quality, so they went to a fresh cut, cooked to order fry. They’re fine, not spectacular, but adequate as an accompaniment to the star of the show.
The group is off to a hot start, did a monster IPO this year, and clearly shows how they stand out from segment leader McDonalds; the average per store annual sales for a Shake Shack location is nearly $4,000,000 – which is about twice what the average McDonald’s takes in.
BTW, this downtown Chicago location was totally jammed, but the wait to order and get your food goes fairly fast. Single burger around $6.00.
Twin Cities Bureau Chief Lauren popped in to Fresh Picked, in the far northern ‘burbs. Had the sausage pie as an eat-in, but observed the take out, including take and bake business was brisker than the inside diners.
“Thinish” but with a thicker crust, she reports it was good, but not great. Exterior of the crust was unevenly cooked, as well.
If you’re ever looking for Shoreview, look for the two 1000+ foot TV towers. Menu.
Fresh Picked Pizza Review
Bagel Bites were invented by Stanley Garczynski and Bob Mosher of Florida, and sold out to a larger food company early on. Today they are in the hands of Ore-Ida (Heinz), not sure why, the company doesn’t have any similar products.
They aren’t even mentioned on Ore-Ida’s main website, but have their own home, where you can read all about the different varieties that are offered.
I haven’t tried these for a couple of decades, my recollection is that they used to be a slightly better pizza snack choice than Jenos/Totinos pizza rolls, which to me, never tasted like anything, let alone pizza.
Verdict? Well, I’m not going to try pizza rolls to compare, but these are OK, really not much flavor, can bake in the oven or microwave. Would I buy these regularly? Nah. And way too many ingredients listed for a product this simple.
Bagel Bites Review
Spoiler alert: Best……Asian…….Buffet…..anywhere……..The Teppanyaki Grill & Supreme Buffet doesn’t actually offer Teppanyaki (cooking at the table), but there’s not much else it misses. It has one of the largest selections of food I’ve ever encountered in one of these places, including every kind of seafood, noodle, rice dish, soups, American foods, a custom grill where the chef stir-fries ingredients you choose, myriad sushi selection and desserts, desserts, desserts.
Dinner (and all day weekends) is $12.99, less at other times, less for seniors, less for children.
This was a family outing and I don’t take pics at family things, but there are plenty of attractive food photos on the restaurant’s website. On site banquet hall available for private gatherings, as well.
Recommended in spades.
Teppanyaki Grill & Supreme Buffet Review
I like things, places that came into existence the same year I did. I had a Seeburg Jukebox of that vintage, and Broadway Pizza and I were born the same year. Back in the day I used to visit the establishment, they had one location, in Northeast Minneapolis (which isn’t northeast, any more than mid city in New Orleans is in the middle of the city!), and it included an assemblage of old railroad cars.
Today they have over a dozen locations around the Twin Cities, and I visited the one in Richfield, which is a ‘southern’ suburb out near the airport and the Mall of America.
I ordered my usual, sausage and olive, thin crust, of course, and the very pleasant server delivered the goods (and numerous soda refills) promptly. The crust was crispy and chewy at the same time, if that’s possible. Toppings and cheese were very generous, and the sausage had some (to me) unidentifiable spice that made it unique (different from traditional Italian “hot” sausage (which isn’t hot) or Italian “sweet” sausage (which isn’t sweet)). This makes Broadway’s sausage in a class by itself.
I liked Broadway decades ago, I like them today. They have become my Twin Cities old-timey go to place, since the demise of the venerable Cafe di Napoli in downtown Minneapolis. Sniff.
In addition to pizza, Broadway has subs, salads, appetizers and pasta dishes available; eat in, take out, or use them for catering.
Menu is online. (Pizza photo is mine, exterior photo above is from Broadway’s website).
I’ve written in the past the story of Kwik Trip and how I became acquainted with them about 40 years ago when they were just starting out. And I’ve written about competitor Casey’s General Store take and eat pizza slices, as well as when 7-Eleven launched into the segment a few year back.
Nobody but nobody holds a candle to Kwik Trip’s assortment of ‘grab and go’ type foods, and they offer a wider variety and deeper selection in each category than any other c-store.
While I think very favorably of Casey’s pizza slices (re-sampled just a couple weeks ago), especially for their flavor and abundance of cheese, I have to say, munching on a Kwik Trip slice the other day, the latter won out, if not for flavor and toppings, then certainly for the crust, which is crispy and light. Casey’s is doughy and often tastes (but not objectionably) not done.
One of the very first radio commercials we did for Kwik Trip 40 years ago said something like “when you run out, run in, to Kwik Trip.” It couldn’t be more true today. Whether you’re in the mood for a hot dog, slice of pizza, pre-made sandwiches, a myriad of baked goods, or even several varieties of soup, Kwik Trip has something for you.
And pick up your weekly staples while you’re in the store. They are often the market leader in pricing bread, eggs, and milk.
Kwik Trip Pizza Review
(The Hmong are members of mountainous tribes across Southeast Asia, but many of the refugees come from Laos).
Today there are nearly 80,000 Hmong living in Minneapolis- St. Paul, and of course, any indigenous group (and this is the largest urban population of Hmong in the world) needs to conduct commerce.
To that end, a couple of different Hmong marketplaces have sprung up in St. Paul, and I visited one on Como Avenue within sight of the state Capitol. Spread throughout and outside several buildings, inside you’ll find narrow, winding corridors with shops selling all manners of goods, like DVDs, CDs, clothing, home remedies, and of course, food. There are at least two meat sellers and many fresh vegetable stands (think of them as Asian farmer’s markets) and the produce is an unusual addition for the home cook and very economically priced.
Should you feel a might peckish during your shopping, rest assured there are many hot food stands, whether your taste leans toward pho, noodle dishes, rice plates, or giant sausages on a stick, you’ll find something to satisfy your appetite.
The Hmong Marketplace is open 8AM – 8PM seven days at 217 Como Avenue. You should check it out.
Hmong Marketplace Review
Started by two Michigan brothers in 1978, this Upper Midwestern chain specializes in what I’d call “Detroit Style” pizza. A bit thicker crust, square in shape, square cut. They offer several different sizes, including one that’s “all corners.”
There are now about 350 Jet’s Pizzas in 19 states, mostly franchise owned and operated. I could be mistaken, but usually I’m not, I think the entire chain is carry out/delivery only.
The outlet I visited, in a suburb of the Twin Cities, was ultra busy, and ultra high production oriented. My large sausage and “bold pepperoni” plus olives pie took 12 minutes on the conveyor oven. Enthusiastic and friendly staff. A lot of them!
In addition to pizza, the menu offers salads, subs, a couple of chicken products, and their variations on “crazy bread,” or whatever the real name is for baked slices of pizza dough with a variety of toppings.
You know what? I was impressed. This is a far more flavorful pie, with more toppings, than any other high production chain. It runs circles around Dominos, Papa Johns, Caesars, and Pizza Hut, for sure.
The sausage was flavorful, the pepperoni indeed “bold” (they also have regular), nice pull on the cheese, and the sauce had it’s own distinct flavor.
Good job, Jett boys. And thank yer ma for coming up with the recipe.
Locator. Menu below.
Jets Pizza Review
Best Steak Houses used to be all over the Twin Cities, or at least places like this with the same name. This one has been around for 40 years. When I started going to them, you could get a complete steak dinner, meaning steak, baked potato, salad and texas toast, for between $2 – $4. Today the range is more like $6- $12 on average, with some up charges and add-ons available. I was in the mood for “chopped steak,” simply because you don’t see it on menus very often. (And after all, the name of the site isn’t “Steak, Dogs, & Pizza!”)
You wait in a line up front and tell the grill man your order, there is no discussion of “doneness” or anything. Move on down the cafeteria style line, pick up your tray, silver, and make a salad from the selection of fixins, which are not in abundance or up market. (Genuine face bacos!) But hey, this is value dining!
While the menu says each dinner comes with a potato, it means “baked potato” and there is a 99 cent up charge for fries, but why the hell not? They are fresh cut, cooked to order for each diner, and plopped on the plenty in quantity. Perhaps a pound?
I made my salad, paid, and you’re told to wait at the register for your order, it will be right up, and it is. One mystery to me was that some people got two slices of Texas toast, and others got one. Didn’t seem to coincide with any menu selection or price. I think I figured out it had to do with your politeness in line (I’m not kidding, some of the people are just damned nasty to grill guy). So anyway, I got two pieces, and if you’ve read this blog at all, you know I’m all about the Texas toast!
The meat was great, flavoful, and a host of condiments, steak sauces are on the table. I couldn’t finish the fries, but I’d be damned if I was leaving them behind! Seriously, some of the best fries I’ve had in a long time!
Best Steak House is kind of north and east of downtown St. Paul, open for lunch and dinner seven days, and you can get the whole dinner at lunch time for less than $6.00.
You should check them out. They also have fried shrimp, gyros, and burgers for the kids. Daily specials as well. Menu.
Best Steak House Review
Lunchables is a line of snack sized entrees from Oscar Mayer, a division of Kraft. Last week we tried out their French toast strips with bacon. I’m the one that has labeled this a “Frito Pie,” Lunchables calls it a “walking taco.” They don’t use the word “Frito” because that is a registered trademark of the Frito-Lay company, of course.
But in many parts of the country, the word “Frito” has become a generic type term for corn chips, much like Kleenix has for tissue. Thus you’ll see this type of thing called a “Frito Pie” in many parts of the country. Whew, what a long winded explanation.
The origin of the Frito Pie seems to be the subject of some dispute, but most agree it started showing up in the early 1960s, and is most popular in the SW, Midwest, and Deep South, tho “walking taco” seems to be a distinctly Midwest moniker. (Where it probably isn’t ‘walking’ at all, but most likely shows up as a casserole at church pot luck suppers).
In it’s convenience store form, a consumer purchases a bag of corn chips, heads to the hot dog condiment station, ladles on chili and cheese, and eats the snack from the bag with a spork. Another variation is adding pickled pig parts (feet or lips) to the mix.
Lunchables version comes with packets of corn chips, meat, Kraft cheese blend, and chili sauce. Dump the latter three into the corn chip bag, microwave for 15 seconds, and spork you, instant snack!
I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor. The snack clocks in at 300 calories (half from fat), and the ‘meat’ has a nice traditional flavor and texture (despite having ground beef as the last ingredient on a long line of ingredients), and the chili sauce was reminiscent of Taco Bell mild.
These are inexpensive, and something kids are sure to like, if you think that the nutrition statement is OK for your family.
Lunchables Frito Pie Review