Search
Advertisement
US Food Safety Recalls and Tips
View my food journey on Zomato!

Archive for the ‘Traveling’ Category

Harrahs Gulf Coast Review – Biloxi, MS

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Harrahs Gulf Coast

Harrahs Gulf Coast ReviewAnecdotally, I’ve heard with “full employment” in the country, lower wage jobs are experiencing high turnover. I can’t say whether or not that is factual, but giving that theory some credence might account for the fact that any number of employees at this hotel are poorly trained and uninformed as to hotel policies….to the point where no matter how specific your questions, you’re bound to end up in front of a “supervisor” who is going to give you nothing but attitude.

Check In

I pre-paid my first night via the hotel’s website (plus the entire stay’s “Resort Fee” –  why?), after checking the usual larger travel sites. It was an attractive enough rate, but of course see-sawed over the course of the week, with no rhyme or reason – it sure wasn’t based on any kind of capacity.

I wanted to pay by a different method than the card I reserved with. Nope. No can do. And even if you pay cash or use a different card at check out, your original card’s “hold” will stay on the account for 5-10 business days after you depart.

And that’s where the management attitude comes in. No “I understand,” or “I’m sorry” or “Let me see about that,” instead it’s “you’ll just have to talk to your bank.” No charge for the scowl.  (This, of course, is bullshit, the hotel could release the hold instantly if they chose. Not doing it means their forty hotels, thousands of guests cards temporarily inflates their revenue picture).

So I say all this to warn you if you are anticipating using credit or debit lines to get home or travel on, that money might not be available.

There are quite a few people in the “hospitality” industry these days who don’t understand the meaning of that word.

Resort Fees

I don’t think there is anybody in America who isn’t pee-ohed about “Resort fees” which are a B.S. Charge the hotel makes that essentially raises the rate of your room. Here, the charge is $15 per day, which affords you the following: 1) access to the pool 2) access to the workout center 3) in room coffee 4) in room frig 5) free WiFi (tho when you sign on, it requires you to post a payment method 6) free valet parking.

Aren’t all these things standard most places? Sure they are. Hotels need to rethink this strategy.

Pool Area

Outdoor pool. When I’ve been at this hotel in the past, the pool wasn’t even open. This visit it was, and the water was warm enough. Dirty towel bin was full, clean towel shelves were empty, there was no signage or attendant, so people were taking dirty towels, not realizing.

The pool liner has come loose in quite a few places on the bottom, so it’s possible to trip walking across the pool. Advise your children.

Drink prices are outrageous, but that’s to be expected.

Hotel Ambiance

Poolside, lobby, elevators, restaurants, casino, are very loud. “Background” music isn’t, at all, very intrusive. If I was at a gaming table trying to concentrate, I wouldn’t be happy.

Casino

Adequate number of games. Shortage of attendants. Slots have gotten to be really confusing, haven’t they? Select how much you want to wager. How many “lines.” You can think you’re waging a quarter and end up betting five bucks. It’s not very clear. Sure, I know, they want it that way.

You might see a drink server once every couple hours, even tho the room isn’t that big or busy.

Restaurants

Spendy. Could be more. Room service prices are average, but selection is very limited, and upon your first examination of the room, you’ll be hard pressed to find out what’s available from room service. Spoiler: the room service menu and ordering is on the TV. As is an express checkout, which was not working.

Return Visit

While I’ve been here in the past, I don’t think I’ll return. The only reason I’d suggest you go there is for a rate. Some rooms in the city when I was there were $200-$300. I paid $39 plus the resort fee and taxes.

But the annoyance of all the rest of what goes on (or doesn’t) in the hotel makes a bargain rate not much of a bargain.

Just my observations.

 

Harrahs Gulf Coast  Review

Harrahs Gulf Coast  Review

@HarrahsGC

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Chesters Chicken Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Chesters Chicken ReviewChesters Chicken was originally  a licensed chicken concept that started in 1952 and has now evolved into a full franchise model offering. Located across the US and on two other continents, Chesters offers a “store in store” concept.

That is, you will find Chester’s Chicken counters in gas stations, c stores, food courts, and the like.

I see a lot of them in gas stations on the interstates.  They are usually well represented in the typical blue information signs on the highway, so you can be aware that there is one ahead.

I’ve never seen a free standing store, not sure if they do that.

They offered fried chicken in different styles: bone in, tenders, wings, boneless wings, sandwiches, wraps, with a whole host of sides including potatoes, vegetables and biscuits.

It seems the menu can vary slightly, so it would appear that headquarters doesn’t have a problem with that. I see some locations offering breakfast sandwiches, some locations have fried fish, usually catfish nuggets, but I have seen swai as well (which is a type of very mild Asian catfish). (Partial menu appears below).

The food is presented in well lit, clean counters, and as an ala carte, single piece, meal or snack size.  It’s all delicious, really, it’s a crispy mildly seasoned breading and I’ve never had a piece of chicken (or fish) that wasn’t cooked perfectly.

They haven’t penetrated the Upper Midwest, where I live, very well.  Hopefully that will change.

I drove around the south a few years ago and tried all manner of tenders from different joints. You can read about that here. Another similar concept is Dodge’s Chicken (not size comparable tho), and Krispy Krunchy, headquartered out of Louisiana is another comer.  Some cities have their own localized versions, catering to more regional tastes.  In New Orleans, look for “Brothers.”

Want your very own Chester’s? (I sure would). They have a real interesting, low fee/no royalty model.  Read about franchising on their website.

Chesters Chicken Review

Tenders and bone-in

Chesters Chicken Review

Choose your goodies

Chesters Chicken Review

Click to enlarge menu

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Pork “tenderloins” are an Iowa thing.  And Indiana thing.  We’ll leave it at that.  It’s a boneless pork chop, hammered with a mallet to make it larger Pork Tenderloin Recipeand thinner, dipped in batter and deep-fried, served on a hamburger bun about 1/10th the size of the ‘loin. You might also call it wienerschnitzel, of a sort. Or how about “chicken fried pork?”

So I had been out driving around Iowa and Indiana in search of great tenderloin, and it’s so important to the state, that the Iowa Pork Council has come up with the “Tenderloin Trail” so you can hit a dozen of the best the state has to offer.

I have written up the Iowa one as of yet, they were all pretty good. Soon.  In Indiana, I stopped at (and have reviewed) the Oasis Diner, and Ray’s Drive In.  They were both superb.

What sets one ‘loin apart from another is getting it thin enough, but still retaining the juiciness of the pork.  The batter. The seasoning. Length of time in the hot oil bath. These are all important.

When I set out to try it at home, I had some cheats, some shortcuts.  First off, I didn’t purchase pork chops, I bought pork “cube steaks” which were half the price of chops this week and would work just as well.

I purchased two different dry fry mixes, both Louisiana products,  Zatarain’s Seasoned Fish Fry (which I use a lot) and Louisiana Fish Fry Products Chicken Fry.

The latter suggests you mix a bit of it with 1/2 cup of water, dip your meat, and then completely cover it with more mix before frying.  I also improvised a bit with the Zat’s, in that I dunked, then dipped in egg wash, and dunked again. This would give the breading a little more depth, thickness.

Then into oil.  How long? Til they’re done!  LOL  (Not long).

On the surface, they appeared about the same when done. I plated them with some sausage gravy and a piece of Texas toast.

I liked the Zatarain’s better, simply because I’m a long time consumer and I like the pre-seasoning in it. Not a fair comparison, but it also had a bulkier breading because of the egg dip.

But I’d buy both again. There must be dozens of these kind of mixes in the grocery. You can also order both brands (and others) online from Cajun Grocer, a Louisiana company I have purchased seafood and other goodies many times.

Zatarain’s was a family owned business for decades, now it’s owned by seasoning giant McCormick and Schmidt (New Orleans area plant (pictured below) . Louisiana Fish Fry is still family owned, based in Baton Rouge. (pictured below)

https://www.cajungrocer.com/dry-fry-mix.html

Zatarain’s

https://www.cajungrocer.com/dry-fry-mix.html

Louisiana Fish Fry

https://www.cajungrocer.com/dry-fry-mix.html

Louisiana Fish Fry Baton Rouge

https://www.cajungrocer.com/dry-fry-mix.html

New Orleans area Zatarains plant

Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Pork Tenderloin Recipe

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Rays Drive In Review – Kokomo Indiana

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Rays Drive In ReviewA pork tenderloin, or simply “tenderloin” was not on my food radar for most of my life.

Oh, I’d see them on menus, people around me would order them, but for some reason, even up close they didn’t merit a look-see from my side of the table.

That’s changed.  For the uninitiated, a pork tenderloin is a sandwich, wherein a boneless pork chop is placed on a counter and hammer until very thin, breaded, deep fried, placed on a burger bun, often served with lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise, but in my mind, this is a distinctly Midwestern thing, and narrower than that, Iowa and Indiana seem to be the champions.

Of course, restaurant proprietors want their tenderloins to be tasty, so they concoct different formulations of breading and seasonings; but another factor among some operators is SIZE.  Some satisfaction is derived by chefs and diners alike if the loin on the plate is as big as their plate.

Iowa even has a “Tenderloin Trail” you can attempt to conquer, a dozen or so of the best offerings as determined by the Iowa Pork Producers Council.  I set out to hit a few of the stops a couple months ago, and weird, just noticed I hadn’t written them up.  I will.

But Indiana, they excel in “big” tenderloins.  First one I had was last year at the Oasis Diner on US 40, the “National Highway.”  Read all about it here.

But on this trip, I set out to hit the iconic Ray’s Drive In, in beautiful Kokomo, IN.  A small eatery, with perhaps a dozen tables in the dining room, and carhop service to diners in the parking lot,  Kokomonians (?) will tell you Ray’s is a must stop. And I agree.

I ordered the “King” Tenderloin, and my table mate went for the regular ‘loin.”  There is a distinct difference.  If you love pork, and you’re looking for excellence in flavor and texture, you’ll be happier with the King than the regular.  Even if you can’t finish it (I couldn’t).  They even have different breadings.

Ray’s King Tenderloin rates in the top three sandwiches I’ve had anywhere in the world, at any time. It’s worth a side trip.

I had every intention of ordering onion rings but “tots” came out of my mouth, and compared to the fries (they are priced the same), the tots order seemed a little skimpy.  Didn’t matter, I helped myself to the fries (another dish not finished), and if I would have skipped the taters all together, I could have made more of a dent in the ‘loin.

Did I say I loved this sammich?  I did.  Pix below and portions of the menu. I’m sure the other entrees and daily specials are home-cookin’ quality. And BTW? It’s pretty cheap to eat at Ray’s.

 

Rays Drive In Review

Tenderloin, tots, and fries

 

Rays Drive In Review

 

Rays Drive In Review

 

Rays Drive In Review

 

 

 

Oasis Diner Review, Plainfield, IN


Ray's Drive In Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Rays Drive In Review

Rays Drive In Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Jungle Jims Grocery Review – Cincinnati, OH Area

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Jungle Jims Grocery Review

Entrance

Another place that’s been on my bucket list for years, Jungle Jims opened in 1971 and has been described as a “theme park of foods.”  That’s an understatement, in my opinion.  Clocking in with square footage about two times a WalMart, Jungle Jims specializes in a great depth of product choices, and foods from all over the world, separated in separate “country aisles.”  Of course, they have a service deli, carrying only the top US brands as well as many imports. Full-service butcher, live seafood, bakery, wine section.

Things you wouldn’t see anywhere else or would have to make many stops to fill out your shopping list.

I got off easy, only spent an hour and $150 there, could have easily been an all day thing, and I will be back, but with a car full of coolers and dry ice.

As it was, I came away with some unique things I hadn’t seen before and certainly will use, like “prosciutto bones” (to flavor white beans, or soup!), a pig’s head (for the crock pot) and many other tasty beautiful things.

I can’t wait to go back.

 

Jungle Jims Grocery Review

About 1/4 of their olive bar!

 

Jungle Jims Grocery Review

Say cheese, please!

 

Jungle Jims Grocery Review

Looking for some hot stuff baby..

 

 

 

 

Locations, hours.

Jungle Jims Grocery Review

Jungle Jims Grocery Review

@JungleJimsMrkt

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Random Meat Sticks Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Random Meat Sticks ReviewWhen I go on my drives, seeking out great dogs, burgers, and pizza across America, my in-vehicle snack food is frequently meat snack sticks, like Slim Jims. I can’t even begin to fathom how many brands and variations there are of this popular snack food.  Ingredient and cost wise, they span the whole spectrum from crap to gourmet.

I don’t have a “regular brand,” I guess other than I seem to end up with Slim Jims the most often, simply because they dominate the shelf space. My criticisms of Slim Jims are two:  1) mechanically separated chicken, and 2) there is an oiliness to the product.

While I also can’t verify this fact, it appears Slim Jim is America’s oldest brand in the genre, being introduced in 1929.  Of course (at least in my opinion) it wasn’t an off the cuff lightbulb idea for a new product.  I believe America meat snacks are based on the German-Austrian snack Random Meat Sticks Review“Landjaeger.”

That snack has been around “forever” usually a combination of beef, pork, lard and spices, and cured through a heavy smoke process.  It is popular with hikers, hunters, and the military as it keeps a long time without refrigeration.

So this trip, seems my mouth bumped into a Slim Jim’s, one from Klement’s of Milwaukee, a Jack Link’s and a local product from a butcher in Solon, IA.

You need to know off the top I’m always kinda partial to Link’s, because it was a local company when I was growing up, and I really like their peppery steak sticks. Regardless of its geographical heritage, I do like Link’s meat snack sticks. I don’t venture into flavor land tho.

The original is salty, smoky, and has a good texture, requiring you to actually chew.  Links has entered the refrigerated sausage market, not crazy about that product.  If you ever find yourself rolling through Minong Wisconsin, the local grocery serves as a Jack Link outlet store. Some dandy deals.

Random Meat Sticks Review

Ruzicka’s Solon IA

Klement’s is an old timey Milwaukee sausage company and I’m a fan of many of their products.

I hadn’t seen their meat snack sticks on the grocery station circuit before and ran into them in Ronald Reagan’s hometown.

No connection, I’m sure. While the Klement’s product smelled great, so I thought it had great potential, upon the first bite, I said to myself “no way.”  The texture is awful, and by awful I mean, not very firm. It’s almost mushy. And I bought two, what do I do with the other one?  Anyway, so I won’t be picking those up again, or at least not until I forget I didn’t like them.

Finally,  in search of an entirely different product, I ran into a little butcher in the small burg of Solon, Iowa, and he had his own variety. They were superb, meaty, smoking, chewy. Ruzicka’s is a butcher, locker plant, state inspected processor and caterer. Great ambition, small shop, great products.  Yes, they’ll grind up your deer, cow or hog, too. Ruzicka’s is apparently famous for their Jalapeno Salami, and they’ll ship that to you.

Random Meat Sticks Review

Ruzicka’s Meat Sticks

Random Meat Sticks Review

Klement’s

 

Random Meat Sticks Review

Slim Jim Original

 

 

 

Random Meat Sticks Review Random Meat Sticks Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Middendorfs Seafood Menu New Orleans

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Click to enlarge!!!  Go for the paper thin catfish filets. You won’t regret it!

 

Middendorfs Seafood Menu New Orleans

Middendorfs Seafood Menu Prices

 

 

 

Middendorfs Seafood Menu Prices New Orleans

Middendorfs Seafood Menu New Orleans

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Kegels Inn Review – Milwaukee, WI

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

MEXICO TRAVEL WARNING: The U.S. State Department is warning tourists going to Mexico about reports of tainted or substandard alcohol causing drinkers to become sick or pass out. Details: http://abc13.co/2v0CCKwIf you’re an occasional reader, you know that I’ve been disappointed in the past when I’ve gone to an establishment that’s had the title of “City’s favorite for XXX decades.”

Lots of those types rest on their laurels, or the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th generation think they “know better.” But I’ve been on a roll to NOT have that happen lately, and certainly Kegel’s Inn, Milwaukee’s oldest and premier restaurant celebrating Bavarian cuisine exceeded my expectations on every level.

We hit the door at dinner time on a Saturday nite, and the restaurant was busy, but we didn’t have to wait long. One gets the feeling that there are an awful lot of regulars (“…a place where everybody knows your name….”), but you’re only a stranger once.

The eatery is decorated like a fairly traditional German beer hall, with rough dark brown accent timbers and colorful murals.

The menu offers a strong list of appetizers, including traditional sausages, pork shank rolls, and onion rings.  There are daily soup choices, that always include chicken dumpling, French onion and one other. During my visit, the soup of the day was house-made mushroom, and it was superb, large chunks of hand cut ‘shrooms in a creamy preparation.  (Dinners include soup, salad, and bread).

The entrees run the gamut of German specialties including rouladen, goulash, sauerbraten,  hasenpfeffer and of course, wienerschnitzel. American Kegelsdishes, regional favorites, like walleyed pike, steak, fried shrimp, steaks, liver and chicken.

I opted for the schnitzel, which was superb, equal to any I’ve had in Europe, and my co-diner went with the hasenpfeffer (rabbit stew) and raved that it was “just like mom’s.”

A full range of both domestic and imported beers is available, as is a full bar.

I over ordered on the food. Took some home to enjoy the next day.

Excellent service, even at the busiest times.

Oktoberfest comes early at Kegels,  so check their calendar in early August for the exact dates.

Full dinner menu.  Friday fish fry menu.

Kegels Inn Review Milwaukee

Schnitzel Holstein Style

Kegel's Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kegels Inn Review
Kegels Inn Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review, St. Louis, MO

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar ReviewGeez, I can count on about three fingers the times I have not been disappointed when I’ve tried a restaurant that is a perennial favorite in a given city. If it’s won “the best of” multiple times, for some reason, it won’t strike me the same way.

Much to my delight, Hodaks does not fall into that black hole, despite being voted “St. Louis Best Fried Chicken 25 Years in a Row.” I agree.

I was out looking for restaurants on the “Mother Road,” or at least the remnants of same, Route 66, the old main highway that ran from Chicago to St. Louis. In my neck of the woods, I’d had the pleasure of dining at several establishments on the Route, including Lou Mitchells, in downtown Chicago at the beginning of 66 (exceeded expectations), Del Rhea’s Chicken Basket, (meh, thanks for playing), Cozy Dog and Charlie Parkers, Springfield, IL, the Country Cup, a couple places in El Reno, OK, birthplace of the Onion Burger, the Galaxy Diner in Flagstaff…..and others.

Ordinarily, fried chicken isn’t something I’d go out of my way for, tho I am fond of quality preparations. It wouldn’t be in my top 10 of things to order at a restaurant.

But here we are/were,  and it’s on Route 66, been around forever, so why not.  And besides, I needed a “good” St. Louis experience to make up for my last time there, trapped by a master con woman for three days initially, then sucker punched into spending 7 years together.

Hodaks was busy, it was Saturday lunch time, holiday weekend, but not so busy we couldn’t be seated straight away. I understand there are times when there is a substantial wait for a table.

Started with the traditional St. Louis appetizer, fried ravioli, deep-fried pasta pockets stuffed with meat and accompanied by a marinara dipping sauce.  My initial thought of just having a couple bites vanished….and did the entire plateful.  Oops.

Onto fried chicken, my choice, a pounded breast, with mashed, gravy, beans, slaw. Superb.  I mean it, superb in every aspect.

Would I go again?  You wouldn’t be able to stop me if I was passing through town. St Louis in the future will be forever two things to me, Hodak’s Chicken and Imo’s Pizza.

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Fried Ravioli

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Chicken fried chicken

Hodaks full menu.  They welcome your bulk order for events or catering, too.

Hodak's Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Hodaks Restaurant and Bar Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Blue Gillys Review – Edgerton, WI

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Blue Gillys ReviewMy dad loved eating fish. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, couldn’t get enough. I brought him over to visit when I was working in Hong Kong and he was in seafood heaven. Geez, I craved a burger during that trip.

He wasn’t much of a sportsman himself, but his colleagues and employees made sure he was kept well supplied, dropping off quantities of trout, sunfish, crappies, pike and bluegills when they had good days.

Don’t think its genetic, but I’m a fish eater too, not anywhere compared to him. And here in the upper midwest, you’re likely to run into one restaurant or 200 that features a “fish fry” every Friday nite, offering you a choice of cod, walleye, perch, or shrimp, often on an AYCE basis.

I was surprised and delighted to run into a place called “Blue Gilly’s” in rural Wisconsin yesterday, a breakfast/lunch restaurant that prominently features bluegills on the menu.

I can’t imagine where they source them, I’d been under the impression for several years that “panfish” – the group of freshwater swimmers that bluegills fall into, were incapable of being farmed. So if they’re wild, they are most likely coming from pristine lakes in Northern Canada or Alaska.

So I had bluegills and eggs for breakfast. The fish is fried with a very, very light breading, and I’m no expert, but I’m gonna guess that they use rice flour for the breading. It has its own unique texture and taste, and of course, is gluten free.

The fish was delightful, and the standard serving (1/2 pound) was more than I could finish at a serving.

The restaurant is open seven days from 6:30 – 2:00PM, and features a full breakfast and lunch menu. Lotsa pancakes on hand, as well.

It’s much bigger inside than it appears outside, so even if the  parking lot would make you think its really crowded, there are probably
tables available.

If you’re traveling I-90 thru Wisconsin, the restaurant is just off exit 163, about an hour north of the Illinois border. Worth a stop.

 

Blue Gillys Review

Bluegills and eggs breakfast

Blue Gillys Review

A nice side dish in the Midwest –  LOL

Blue Gilly's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Blue Gillys Review

Blue Gillys Review

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Select a Topic
Restaurant Delivery!
The Food You Love, Delivered - Order Now!

Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!