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Archive for the ‘Sandwiches’ Category

Dutch Farms Frozen Cheeseburger Review

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box3I’ve tried a lot of these ‘heat and eat’ burgers, some full cooked, some raw that you have to cook. It’s a long list of these sandwiches that I have slogged through, 7-Eleven, Trader Joes, Fatburger, SteaknShake, Ball Park, Biz Az, of course White Castle, and so many others.

Today’s entry is from Dutch Farms, a frozen food manufacturer in Chicago, mostly focused on dairy and bakery goods, but they also make heat and eat meals.  Funny that I don’t ever recall seeing the brand before, but maybe they are huge in the private label business.

The frozen burger comes complete with cheese and bun, wrapped in cello, the instructions tell you to open one end of the cello, heat 90 seconds and then let rest a minute before consuming.

I did. Added mustard and pickle.  Flavor was ok, it has some ‘smoke’ flavor added to emulate a grill, texture was ok, my complaint about this (and nearly all of them) are that the buns and meat don’t require the same attention in the microwave, so invariably, one or the other is overcooked or undercooked.

In this case, the bread is just nuked to a pulp (not literally) but it is way too soft to hold a substantial amount of toppings, if that’s they way you choose to dress your burger.

On the plus side, this was a little more than a buck at WalMart.  A lot of carbs and fat, but if you’re ok with that, buy a bunch to keep in the freezer for after school.

Which ones do I like the best?  Uncooked, the Trader Joes.  Cooked?  Ball Park. (they aren’t complete, the bag only contains the beef patties).

Dutch Farms Frozen Burger Review

Out of package

Dutch Farms Frozen Burger Review

90 seconds in microwave

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dutch Farms Frozen Cheeseburger Review

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Felicias Meat Market and Deli Review, Schaumburg, IL

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Felicias Meat Market and Deli ReviewSome weeks ago, I wrote about an Italian deli I stumbled on in suburban Chicago. Nottoli’s has a great selection of house-made sausages, pastas and an ample selection of imported Italian canned and box goods.

This week I hit Felicia’s, an Italian-centric meat market and deli in Schaumburg.

Felicia’s is smaller in size than Nottoli’s, but there’s no shortage of quality goodies.

The store has two narrow aisles as you walk in, on the right are freezer cases of pre-made frozen meals for two, as well as home-made soups. Lining the other side of the right hand aisle are canned tomatoes, sauces, and pasta.

As you round the bend at the back of the store, you’ll come to the deli case, well-staffed and able to take care of a crush of customers simultaneously. In addition to house-made meats, like Italian sausage, franks, and meatballs, they also carry Boar’s Head brand deli meats, a wide assortment of cheese and house-made salads, like buffalo/tomato and cold pastas.

I scored some hot Italian rope sausage and meatballs.  The sausage is very flavorful and has a little heat. The meatballs are dense (the way I like them, not all crumbly) and only lightly seasoned.  When I make them at home, I’ve been accused of using too much fennel.  But hey, I’m at the stove, not you!

Felicia’s will make you sandwiches to go, on demand, and also do catering. Both menus are shown below.

Nice people, knowledgeable, helpful, quality goods.  I like.  Most everything I purchased I thought was a good value.

Felicia’s opens daily at 8AM, til 6PM Monday – Friday, 5 PM Satuday, and 2 PM Sunday.  Map follows at the bottom of the post.

Felicias Meat Market and Deli Review

Felicias Meat Market and Deli Review

Felicias Meat Market and Deli Review

Felicias Meat Market and Deli Review

 

 
Felicia's Meat Market Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
 

 

Felicias Meat Market and Deli Review

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Chick N Dip Review, Hampshire, IL

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Chick N Dip Review HampshireWhat can be better than finding a mom and pop place out in the middle of nowhere?  Not much, in my opinion, and apparently lots of people agree, because when I stopped at this seasonal drive-in, it was jammed.

They specialize in “broasted chicken,” burgers, and frozen dairy treats. “Broasting” is a combination of deep-frying and pressure cooking that was invented in Wisconsin in the 1950s.

They license their cooking method and sell marinaded chicken and other items for “broasting” to over 5000 restaurants in over fifty countries.  Not a traditional franchise, but the company offers the method and equipment for a licensing fee without the payment of ongoing royalties. I first became acquainted with “Broaster Chicken” at my hometown pizza joint, decades ago.

You can dine outside or in a small attached dining room.

I went with the chicken strips and fries, which was five strips and a good amount of fries (which you can also order by the pound!).  The food was VERY HOT, cooked to order, and tasted ‘fresh’ meaning (to me) not a hint of stale oil. The chicken coating was crisp, seasoned, and the chicken moist and flavorful.

The order comes with a ramekin of BBQ sauce, and other dipping sauces are available.  I’ve driven by this place lots of times and never stopped.  My loss.  It won’t happen again!

I’ve hit some other spots nearby that I like, the Spot in Marengo, and I try and get to the Vet’s home for pancake breakfasts in Genoa on occasion.

Chick N Dip is located just south of I-90, about 25 miles east of Rockford, IL and 45 minutes west of Chicago.  (Map below).

Chick N Dip Review Hampshire

Chick N Dip Review Hampshire

Chick N Dip Review Hampshire

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Morris Liquors and Deli Review, Louisville, KY

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 Morris Liquors and Deli ReviewI love country style cured ham. Dry aged for months and months, salty, flavorful, still tastes like an animal instead of some heavily processed, brine injected, flavored pink stuff.

I quizzed Chowhound folks ahead of time to see where I might score some good Kentucky Country Ham in Louisville, and got lots of great suggestions where I could get it to nosh on or get a big ‘un to go.

I ended up at one of the top suggestions for sandwiches, Morris Liquor and Deli, a small liquor store in the center of the city with a deli counter. You walk up to the counter and select your bread, meat, cheese and condiments; sandwiches are sold by weight, and I can’t tell you what the price per pound is, but I can tell you I paid $13 for two sandwiches, two sodas and a bag of chips, which seemed quite reasonable to me.

I went with country ham on dark rye with provolone and yellow mustard. Also got a corned beef with Swiss on pumpernickel with German mustard. Both with superb. I would have bought sliced ham by the pound there ($16) but I knew I would be hitting a couple of groceries in search of a big chunk later, which I did.

This is a really excellent sandwich place, mostly take-out, a few tables inside and outside, great liquor selection as well as liquor mixers and such. Parking and entry/exit is a little dicey, but it’s worth taking your life in your hands for this country ham. Truly.

Morris Liquors and Deli Review

Country Ham & Provolone

 

Morris Liquors and Deli Review

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Morris Liquors and Deli Review

Morris' Liquors & Deli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Oasis Diner Review, Plainfield, IN

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Oasis Diner Review Plainfield

Mountain View Diner Manufacturing company was established in New Jersey in the 30s and operated to the late 50s. They built and shipped diners around the country, including this particular unit, which was shipped by rail to Plainfield in 1954.

It operated pretty much continuously since that time, except for a few years hiatus, a move and renovation. In all its splendor today, it dishes up great home made grub for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as selling baked goods.

I went for their signature dish, a pork tenderloin sandwich. While I cannot tell you the origin of the sandwich, I do know they are unique (mostly) to Iowa and Indiana, and consist of a pounded out boneless piece of pork, usually breaded and fried. It is served on a bun, most often with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.  Maybe a pickle chip or speak.

I was a bit apprehensive about going out of my way to hit the Oasis, but after my meal, I realized I would drive hundreds of miles just to have the tenderloin again. It was absolutely perfect.  The breading has a nice crunch, while the pork remains juicy and nicely seasoned. Hand cut fries were my side choice, and the house baked bun was fresh and substantial enough to hold the sandwich, even if one can’t get it in their mouth!

There are quite a few Mountain View diners still in operation around the US, including five in Indiana.

I’ve driven quite a few of the major US original highways, like Route 66, and US 61, back and forth, top to bottom, but haven’t spent much time on US 40, one of the original coast to coast roads, which is nicknamed “The National Road.”

Just by spending 20 miles on it the other day, I can tell I’ve missed a great trip that I will have to do in the future, lots of old time Americana and architecture on 40.  As well as the Oasis Diner.

The Oasis Diner lunch/dinner menu.

Oasis Diner Review Plainfield

“There’s a bun under there!”

Oasis Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oasis Diner Review

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Being Chicken in Kingman

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I have been in this shitty motel before on some other lost weekend.    I’ve made my way down here on some “public conveyance” from which I was ejected a couple hours ago, fifty miles down the road.

My crime?  Drinking on the conveyance, which would amuse a lot of people , including the person responsible for me being on the road.  I also made a fuss because someone stole my Nikon.  So there will be relatively few fotos from this leg of the  trip.

I’m farther east than I planned, as I am currently on a sabbatical/walkabout, and planned to enter Mexico somewhere in Cali.  No matter, Arizona is just as good.

It’s ironic, on my last great bus hobo trip, I felt that an awful lot of the passengers had just gotten out of some hospital or institution and really had nowhere to go.  Now people look at me like I’m that person.

I think I’m too old for these kind of changes.  Yeah, yeah, you’re only as old as you feel, well, fuck, I feel 120 after the last couple weeks.

I don’t mind Kingman, it’s a shadow of its former self, (me, too)  but is a stop on old Route 66, and there’s a lot of interesting retro architecture and some restaurants that date back to the day.  I had hoped to visit one of those restaurants, but I ‘m in too pissy a mood, so I walked down the street, got some Popeye’s to eat in the room.

I saw a documentary recently about a guy who tried to “live” off Craigslist for 30 days.  He’d get around by using ride share ads, meet people to crash on their couches and so on.  That seems really cool, plus he got to meet a dominatrix!  The last time I went hobo-ing around the country, I tried to live on $10 a day.  The whole craig’s list angle might make it easier.

But the trip overall will be harder, as last time, I knew that whatever hardships I endured, there was a nice home and loving family waiting for me at the end.

Not this time.

Popeyes Chicken

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Otto and Anitas Bavarian Review, Portland, OR

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I’ve lived a lot of places in my life, but nowhere til now where you could imbibe in multiple versions of a schnitzelwich! And despite my world travels, I don’t think I ever recall seeing “dill pickle soup” anywhere – where has this been all my life?!?!?

Otto and Anita’s, a smallish place (but the sign says they can host parties, meetings, receptions of up to 40!), in Portland ‘s Multnomah Village, caters to person craving modest German/continental fare – from schnitzels to sausages to Dover sole.

Pleasantly decorated thematically, the affable servers meticulously explain the menu choices, describe the daily specials, and serve your food in a pleasant and efficient manner. The traditional cuisine has not been “Americanized” per se, and is very reminiscent of similar dishes I have enjoyed in Germany and Austria.

For no particular reason other than enjoying my wife’s company, I took Mrs. BDB to lunch at Otto and Anita’s, and we whiled away an hour or so with a midweek noon sojourn.

She started with the dill pickle soup, which I happily finished (I love this stuff, quick, somebody find me the recipe!), and had the lightly sauteed Dover Sole Almandine, and I went straight for the schnitzelwich, on a very nice crusty French, with kraut, cheese, mustard, but sans sauteed onions, as I wasn’t in an onion mood. My plate had a mound of traditional German potato salad, which was sweet and tangy at the same time. Next visit, I will enjoy plowing through one or more of the spaetzle offerings as a side.

Mrs. BDB’s plate was too much for her to finish, and I had a few bites, the sole was flaky, lemony, with a light batter, pan-fried. Very nice.

My sandwich was good too, with the pork cutlet also lightly fried, a tangy mustard, and the bread was wonderful, I couldn’t finish the bread, but didn’t leave a single morsel of the cutlet behind.

Offering something for everyone, in addition to the traditional German fare, Otto and Anita’s has a few steaks, some salmon dishes, a bevy of salads, a kids menu, and a host of appetizers and small dishes. A lot of menu for a small place.

I’ll be happy to go back, I have my eye on their burger (of course), french dip, and traditional desserts.

Otto and Anita’s is open for lunch Tues- Fri, and dinner Tues-Sat, at 3025 SW Canby, just off Capitol Hwy in Multnomah Village.

Otto and Anita’s menu is online.


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Otto and Anita’s Bavarian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Otto and Anitas Bavarian Review

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Basils Pizza Review, an Homage to Joe Szabo (Northfield, MN)

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40 years ago, it was called “Bill’s,” and it was in the same location.  Hasn’t changed much, same counter, same booths, now fairly worn, the faux leather brittle with age.  The home-spun murals of scenes of Italy on the walls are fading.

But would the pizza hold up?   Did we love it because it was great?  Or because at the time, it was the only show in town?

My sophomore roommate was a guy from Chicago named Joe Szabo.   Nice guy.  Talented artist.  Wanted to grow up to be a famous talented artist.  Hope he made it.

Most college roommates experience the “either / or” phenomena, meaning that it’s pretty normal that one roommate has some money, and the other doesn’t.  The cycle reverses on a regular basis.

In our dorm room, whoever had the money had the power to dictate toppings:  Joe always got ground beef and diced onion; for me it was Italian sausage and sliced green olives.    Neither of us minded the other’s selection.

There were a couple of great things about rooming with Joe.   He had a car.   And a very tasty morsel of a girlfriend.   In a college dorm room, it’s hard not to become somewhat “familiar” with everything that goes on and Sara was, well (swoon).

One night Joe let me use his car (unheard of) so he and Sara could have a special “moment”.  He flipped me a sawbuck, too, and said “go have a ‘za’, and take your time.

I started off down College Avenue, it was winter, there were patches of ice, I was very careful with Joe’s pride, a green Beetle.   I stopped at the RR crossing for a slow moving freight, minding my own business, anticipating the ‘za, when WHAM!  I got re-ended.   As you probably know, the Beetle has the engine in the back, so a whack can cause serious damage.

No one was hurt, someone summoned the police, who informed me the drunk driver who just plowed into my roommate’s car was “so and so’s son”, and there was never, ever anything going to come of it.

And nothing did.   I got a pizza all by myself, Joe and Sara had their special moment, and if Joe was ever pissed about the accident, he never let on.

So nearly 40 years later, I show up at Basil’s, order a medium of (my) sausage and green olive, and (Joe’s) ground beef and onion, to compare and contrast as it were, to see if this is great pizza, or just a glorified memory.

I did notice a couple things while the dude is making the pie, things that (for me) are critical for a good pie: 1) sliced cheese, not shredded, and 2) bulk sausage, pinched by hand, in nice sized pieces.

The old Baker’s Pride ovens had lost some oomph, it would take a full 15 minutes to bake, with the requisite occasional door opening, and paddle spin.

I took my hot pies back to my motel room.   I tried one, then the other.  Then the first, then the other.  They were superb. Great melted cheese that clings to the crust, a cracker like crust, a big of tang to the sauce, and quality toppings.

Could I eat two mediums all by myself?  Nah. But 40 years ago I could.

Basil's Pizza on Urbanspoon

 

Basils Pizza Review

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Gas Station Sandwich Primer

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Thorntons Gas Sandwiches

Stewart In-Fra-Red Oven

I’ve written a lot about ‘gas station sandwiches,” a term I use to describe the cello wrapped sandwiches, fresh or heat and eat, one finds at c-stores, gas stations, and in vending machines.

The earliest ones I remember were from a Virginia company called “Stewart Sandwiches” who sold mostly to bars, concession stands, and schools and companies.

Their “heat and eat” versions used a patented device the company provided called an “In-Fra-Red” oven (pictured), which was kind of a predecessor of microwaves being widely used. The sandwiches were placed in the ovens, still in their cello, and they took 3-5 minutes to heat.

In addition to “subs” and burgers, their version of “chuck wagon” (breaded, fried hamburger) was very popular, as was their “pizza burger.” My college roommate and I used to buy quantities of these puppies and sell them in the dorm, til the school shut us down.

Stewart operated via a franchise model, with about a couple dozen distributors around the country that established their own customers/routes. At some point (which I can’t really seem to sort out through research), Stewart faded and some of their franchisees took up the mantel – the largest being the (now known as) “Deli Express” label, a suburban Minneapolis company, which cranks out a million sandwiches a week at their Minnesota factory.

Other than “Deli Express,” “Landshire,” and Ohio’s “AdvancePierre” (who recently acquired Landshire), the segment seems to be fairly regional, with a lot of smaller manufacturers like “Mom’s” in OK and Texas.

7-Eleven contracts some of their sandwiches out to a division of Lufthansa airlines.

Although many of these sandwiches are assembled by hand in the smaller companies, automation has created mass production efficiency as seen in this video.

In my opinion, for the most part, these sandwiches are largely “OK” but usually a little spendy. If you want something quick to go and relatively “fresh” they are a handy alternative to fast food. Some are considerably healthier than say, a Quarter Pounder and fries.

I’ve written a number of pieces lately on a gas station that recently moved into my neighborhood, a smallish chain in the Midwest called “Thorntons” and I’ve sampled a number of their heat and eat products, including a burger, Pizza, chicken sandwich, breakfast sandwich and tenders.

Today I tried their “fresh” sandwiches, an Italian Footlong sandwich (sic), at $4.99, on a long roll with ham, salami, pepperoni and provolone. It comes completely condiment free, but the gas station has an amply stocked condiment ‘bar.’ I’m ok with cello wrapped sandwiches being sold ‘naked,’ too often in these products if lettuce/tomato are included, they’ve seen better days, as of course the deli meats are full of preservatives and maintain their appearance much longer than the vegetables. As far as the spreadable condiments, every person has their individual tastes, some sandwiches come with packets of mustard/mayo included in the cello wrapping.

Thornton’s sandwich vendor is Lipari Foods “Premo” division; Lipari is a Michigan based manufacturer and distributor of different products and Thorntons Gas Sandwich Reviewproduct lines.

What did I think?

It’s ok, no better or worse than any other brand. The expiration date on this one is weeks in the future, but the bread is already pretty dry, and the only flavor that really ‘pops’ is the pepperoni, and that ingredient is the least in volume on the sandwich, with of course, the least expensive meat, the processed ham, being in attendance in the largest quantity.

I added mustard and dill pickles at home, but it didn’t really enhance or detract from the experience.

Since Thorntons has extensive roller grill offerings (hot dogs, sausages, those cylinder “Mexican” things, and a fresh condiment bar along side that, I probably would have been better off to open the sandwich at the gas station and load it up with junk there.

Live and learn.

Thorntons Gas Sandwich Review

 

Gas Station Sandwich Primer

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Thorntons Chicken Sandwich Review

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Thorntons Chicken Sandwich ReviewFourth in a series of four.  Thornton’s is a medium size gas station chain based out of Louisville. They’ve been rolling out hot snack foods at some of their stations, and I’ve tried their pizza, burgers, and breakfast sandwiches so far.

Today I picked up the “Southern Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich,” which is two of the tenders they sell as a snack offering, on a bakery bun. Half way through my chewing, I also discovered 3 pickle chips under the chicken!

The flavor of the chicken is OK, the breading is light, but not all that crispy.  For some reason, despite playing with it for over 50 years, the food industry hasn’t been able to figure out how to have a crispy coating on food without it coming directly from a deep fryer (which this does not).

Like I thought on the other snacks, the chicken sandwich is a little spendy.  On the upside for any of their offerings including an extensive seclection of roller grill choices, Thornton’s has an amazing array of add your own condiments, both fresh and packaged, and that’s a real plus over the competitors.

As an afterthought, I grabbed one of their “cheese bread” snacks.  The packaging makes it look more substantial than it actually is (see pix below), and it rings up at $1.99. Like many of their competitors, Thornton’s cuts a slice of pizza into “cheese bread.”  So the prices is 1/2 the price of their 2 slice pizza serving.  While most of the condiments available for use on your sandwiches and dogs are recognizable brand names, the company’s choice for the included marinara dipping sauce is from Diamond Crystal, a diversified manufacturer in Savannah, GA, known primarily for being a supplier of ingredients and dry and liquid condiments. The sauce is heavy on high fructose corn syrup and modified food starches, if you pay attention to those types of things.

The chain also offers a free membership points system that has some pretty good incentives, both inside the stores and at the pumps.  Worth a stop. Locator

Thorntons Chicken Sandwich Review

Thorntons Chicken Sandwich Review

Thornton's Cheese Bread Review

Thornton's Cheese Bread Review

 

Thorntons Chicken Sandwich Review

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