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Posts Tagged ‘Chicken Fried Steak’

US Chain – Claim Jumper


Claim Jumper RestaurantFounded in 1977 in California, Claim Jumper has grown to 37 locations, mostly in the Western US.  With a decor resembling a rustic hunting lodge, and a menu that offers virtually “something for everyone”, the chain maintains its popularity because of quality food, large portions, and friendly, prompt service.

The seating capacity at the outlet we visited was 550, according to the occupancy sign at the door, and since we had to wait (very briefly) for a table, one would guess the joint was full up.

Service was prompt, regardless.   We started with the pretzel stick appetizer (choice of butter and salt coating, or parmesan / garlic), which comes with your choice of a cheese or mustard dipping sauce.  These aren’t your standard pretzel bits, but rather a half dozen nearly foot long soft rods, warm, chewy, and flavorful.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy went for the chopped Cobb salad, with an add on of chopped tenderloin steak; the salad was artfully arranged on the plate, and the beef was flavorful and very tender.

I opted for the “light” portion of country fried steak, which came with mash and white gravy.  The steak coating was crispy, and the meat was tender.   A lot of prep of CFS use a less than premium cut of beef, but I can’t say that was the case here.  It’s a good piece of beef.

My entree is not for the feint of heart or carb counters, however.  With a single plate topping 2000 calories and nearly 200 carbs, that’s a lot of “nutrition.”

We passed on dessert, tho we have had their chocolate mother-lode cake before, six layers, and 11 bucks worth of a slice of cake that can feed an entire table.

I don’t know where Claim Jumper fits in the restaurant hierarchy. It’s a few notches above what I would call “fast casual”, but a few notches below “fine dining.”

The bill for an appetizer, two entrees, 1 cocktail, 1 coffee came in at $52 including tip.

Claim Jumper is a great place for good food, prepared well, and parties of diners with diverse palates.  With virtually every food category offered on the menu, from grills, to salads, to pasta, to sandwiches, no one in your party will go away hungry.

Location finderFull menu online.


Portland, OR – Golden Touch (Redux)


On occasion, Mrs. BDB gets a bug in her craw (WTF does that mean?) about breakfast out on the weekends. We usually make an elaborate production of breakfast at home on either Saturday or Sunday, an homage to my family tradition of same.

Saturday breakfast was a meal my family almost always enjoyed together, and usually it was a family production, with my dad leading the effort. This was the only meal he cooked during a given week, with two exceptions: he was in charge of the grill, on the few days a year that Northern Minnesota summers allowed that – and he was in charge of (most) fish, of which there was plenty served in my household.

The exception to his fish manipulation was Friday nite dinner, usually fish sticks or blocks of frozen haddock, which fell under my mother’s normal purview, and one of the 26 or so meals she had in the family rotation.

I digress.

As you probably know, Mrs. BDB has been big on Groupon and Living Social promos lately (in fact our Saturday afternoon socializing was courtesy of her and Living Social – ceramics painting), so we thumbed through our coupons looking for a breakfast deal, and of course, as it usually goes, all of our BOGOs and such for breakfast had expired the previous day.

So we ran down the street to the Golden Touch Family Restaurant, a place we had visited once before for a weekday lunch.

We knew we’d get standard diner breakfast fare, and we’re about to have the patience (or at least she knew I wouldn’t) to hit the popular PDX weekend places, nor would I have the lack of intelligence to once again hit the Original Pancake House, which is also nearby.

We were seated in the back again, and by coincidence, we were waited on by the same veteran server that had taken care of us on our previous visit.  We knew service would be above most people’s reports for this establishment.  Our waitress has been at Golden Touch forever, and is accomplished and joyful in her work choice.

Mrs. BDB went with Swedish pancakes (another homage to my father? LOL), the Scandinavian version of the crepe, thin cakes, usually served with a dollop of sweet or savory toppings and whipped cream.  She opted for blueberries, and passed on the cream.

I went with Chicken Fried Steak, accompanied by two perfectly done over easy eggs, white toast, hash browns of the shredded variety, the steak bathed in sausage gravy.   The taters at Golden Touch are served crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, without any special seasoning.

The “steak” is ample in  size, maybe 6 oz, with a light breading, and mildly seasoned.   The toast comes butter with a couple choices of food service preserves.

It’s an adequate meal, tho the best Chicken Fried Steak in Portland is served up at Slappy Cakes, in my opinion.

I dutifully jabbed and mopped my yolks with my toast (my mother would have had a fit witnessing this), and devoured the steak, barely touched the potatoes (I am trying to watch carbs).

They were trying out a new blend of coffee that day, and we thought it was pretty OK, which is a big deal, considering Mrs. BDB thinks diner coffee belongs in the category of “warm brown water.”   She got her jones for fancy caffeine later in the day at Chuck’s in Lake O. (Vanilla latte, if you must know).  Chuck’s is a purveyor of our most favoritest brand, Illy, from Trieste,  Italy.

Breakfast for two, about $24, including tip.  I am sure we will return.



Golden Touch Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Banquet Frozen Chicken Fried Steak Meal


Another in a line of inexpensive frozen “dinners”, the Banquet brand (ConAgra) Chicken Fried Beef Steak Dinner comes with a breaded meat patty, whipped potatoes, cream gravy, and kernel corn.

About 10 ounces in all, 43 carbs, and nearly half your daily sodium requirement.

The instructions call for microwaving on high for 3 minutes, stir the potatoes, another 2 minutes in the nuke, and then 2 minutes resting time.

At the “stir potatoes” mark, in my oven, the potatoes were mostly still frozen, so there wasn’t much stirring to do.

After the full  five minutes, everything was heated, but the potatoes did not have a very good consistency, more watery than they should be, almost like grits.

Nevertheless, I waited the suggested two minutes more, did another stir of the potatoes, and slopped the gravy around the tray.

Kernel corn?  Fine. How can you mess that up?  Potatoes never acquired a “whipped-like” quality, so I was put off by them.

Naturally, the meat patty with the breading didn’t crisp up – why hasn’t this been mastered yet, crisping in a microwave meal?   But the flavor wasn’t really that bad.

If you’re not a cook, or have a much busier life style that I do, these frozen meals today are a good value, often the major chains have huge sales on them, I have seen them at 4 / $5 and even on a 10 / $10 basis.

There is a huge variety to chose from between all the different brands.  You’re sure to find something you like, even if I haven’t!  Check out Banquet’s new website (9/2015).


Flagstaff, AZ – Galaxy Diner Reviews



Galaxy Diner, Flagstaff, AZ

Galaxy Diner, Flagstaff, AZ

Gettin’ my kicks, on Route 66, which I do a leg of at least a couple times per year.

Most recently, tooling thru Flagstaff, I came across the Galaxy Diner, a joint I hadn’t noticed before.  It had a lot of promise from the get go – great neon, roadside location on 66, lots of chrome inside and out.

Every inch of the interior walls were covered with memorabilia, movie stars, music, platters.  All the trappings of the 50s and 60s, existing in an age where only old fuckers like me ‘get it’.    If I took Mrs. BDB in this kind of place, she’d stare blankly at the photos and say “who are all these people?”  (She’s a young’un).

So I felt instantly at home at the Galaxy, and stopped to eat breakfast, cause I love diner breakfasts, any time of day or nite, and most great diners serve breakfast anytime, day or nite.

It didn’t take long with the menu to spy my choice:   the “MONDO”.   An ‘oversized’ portion of chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy, ‘diner potatoes’, and 3 eggs your style. (Over easy, please).

In almost as little time as it took me to choose, my affable server appeared with my selection, and didn’t need to ask if I wanted any additional condiments, a full selection sits on every table.

The 50s and 60s music provided a nice ambiance this sunny Arizona morn, and the only anachronism was a couple of large televisions blaring CNN. Wish they’d lose those.

My plate lived up to its menu description, there were two over-sized slabs of CFS, the three eggs were done perfectly, the “diner potatoes” left a bit to be desired for my personal taste, but that’s my fault, I should have asked for them to be extra crispy.   They were thin-sliced taters grilled on the flattop.

.The over-sized biscuit was drenched in sausage gravy, and the gravy also adorned the steak.   Bonus?   The food was all perfectly seasoned,

I tend to use way too much salt, and didn’t raise the shaker once on my breakfast, after tasting the grub. (No, I am not one of those who seasons before tasting, Mrs BurgerDogBoy is prone to pouring Tabasco on anything that’s not moving before the first bite).

This place, to me, was diner perfection.  It’s one of those places I want to poke my head in the kitchen and tell the chef, “that was art.”

Which it was.


Galaxy Dinner, Route 66, Flagstaff

Galaxy Dinner, Route 66, Flagstaff

Galaxy Diner on Urbanspoon


galaxy diner reviews


Portland, OR – Banning’s Restaurant and Pie Shop


Banning's Cafe & Pie Shop

Banning's Cafe & Pie Shop

Every once and awhile, all I want is a good piece of pie and a cup o joe, and Banning’s fills that need, 24 hours a day. If you don’t know Banning’s, it’s right off 217 on 99W (southbound), just a couple blocks off the exit, on the right. It’s one of the few places in SW open 24 hours.

Mrs. BDB wanted to run out tonight for something “quick” and nearby, and I suggested three places, and she chose Banning’s, as I have been muttering about needing pie for a couple of weeks.

Banning’s is standard American coffee shop fare, from breakfast all the time, to fish and chips, burgers, and entrees like pot roast.

It’s the kinda place where you “get what you expect”, and you “get what you pay for.” Not exceptional, just coffee shop food.

She went with the roasted pork chop dinner, which comes with a choice of soup or salad, choice of potato, dinner roll or corn bread. While Banning crows about their pies being made fresh daily, one can assume that same is not true for their dinners. This is standard Sysco or simliar output all the way.

I went with the chicken fried steak, opted for soup, which was split pea with Italian

Split Pea & Italian Sausage Soup

Split Pea & Italian Sausage Soup

sausage, which was pretty darned good. The other choice tonight was turkey noodle. Oh, and yes, they do offer roasted turkey dinners. I’m sure Huber’s doesn’t have to worry, but it’s nice to know you can get Thanksgiving any day of the year in this end of the city.

The steak and fries were just ok, the gravy (our waitress informed me I could have a choice of white or brown) left something to be desired, really didn’t have any taste at all. Like thickened au jus from a French dip.

BTW, our server was fantastic, and after a heart to heart with Mrs. BDB, probably ran off to DSW after her shift in search of shoes.

We got a couple of pieces of pie to go, still sitting in our frig, as we were pretty full from the dinners – which neither of us finished.

Like I said, Banning’s is what it is, probably perfect if you are coming out of one of the nearby bars at closing, or just wandering around the city at 3am wondering where you can get a coffee and read the paper.

Exterior foto above from Banning’s website.

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Banning's Restaurant and Pie Shop

Banning's Restaurant and Pie Shop

Banning's Restaurant & Pie on Urbanspoon


Los Angeles Coffee Shops


When you see a billboard proclaiming “Esquire Magazine says best pancakes in USA”, you take note. And the place is Dupar’s, with several Southern California locations, as well as the flagship in the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax. That location has been open since 1938, and a few years ago, was closed for two years for a top to bottom renovation, after being purchased by legendary Los Angeles coffee shop mogul, Biff Naylor. Naylor was formerly the proprietor of two of my regular stops, Biff’s, and Tiny Naylor’s. Los Angeles is a mecca for traditional coffee shops.

Here’s a quick tour of the renovated Farmer’s Market location:

When you watch the video, you’ll note that as much as Dupar’s is famed for its pancakes, lots of folks would say it’s the pies that make the place. And who doesn’t love pie? I don’t get nearly enough pie.

Biff’s, the valley location, was one of our regular lunch hangouts when I was working in Los Angeles, my colleagues had to have lunch daily, and they had a specific rotation. As I was a newcomer to the group, I was not allowed to make a contribution to the list, and went along with the daily choice, which may have included Biffs, Dr. Hoggly Woggly’s Tyler Texas BBQ, the coffee shop at Galpin Ford, a random deli or two. But that was about it.

When I ventured out on my own, I was a regular at places like Ship’s, or Norms,  (January 2015 update, Norm’s has just been sold, so its future fate is unknown) one of the few survivors to this day. Chicken Fried Steak and eggs was always my choice off the Norm’s menu. (Find other posts on chicken fried steak here.)

No matter what part of the city you are in, there are countless traditional coffee shops, many of which have been open for decades and decades. And there are the “super legends”, like Clifton’s in downtown.

Then of course, there are the excellent deli’s, dozens and dozens of them in a class by themselves.

Los Angeles – coffee shop mecca.  Yearnin’ to be returnin’.

My Favorite Sandwich in Los Angeles. On Fairfax.

Canters Deli


Nationwide – KFC Extra Crispy Strips


While Mrs. BDB eschews my burger passion most of the time, she has her own, and it’s always fried chicken, with KFC having a slight edge for her, mainly because of their numerous locations, and a weakness for the childhood memories their mashed potatoes evoke.  Now if they would just add Popeye’s red beans (I know), we’d never hit “the other guys.”

We stopped into a local KFC last nite on the way home from doing errands, and I was confronted with a HUGE decision upon seeing their “weekday menu special board”.  Who knew the Colonel had chicken fried steak on occasion?  Not I!  But as tough a decision as it was, I wanted to try the new Extra Crispy Strips, so I ordered the $5 value box, which comes with 3 strips, a side, biscuit and Pepsi product.

Mrs. BDB went with her usual, the two piece dark meat meal, which comes with two sides and a biscuit.

For some reason, the clerk was in a largess mood, and comped us an order of potato wedges and an extra drink.  Our other side choices included slaw, mashed, and green beans.  So we “doubled down” on starch, w/ two kinds of potatoes.

I passed on dipping sauces, and immediately regretted that in the car on the way home.  Curse me, BurgerDogBoy, I could have used a mound of those sauces for something else in the future, if not tonight!

Mrs.BDB was seeking a decaffeinated beverage, and went with Pepsi’s “Mug” root beer.  I went with the sugar-free peach iced tea, which was ‘peachy.”

The Extra Crispy strips were just fine, with 3 pieces actually being a lot of food.  These must come from  chickens with HUGE racks, as they were some damned big pieces of white meat!    The potato wedges….hmmm, extruded potato products, dipped in batter, fried, seasoned.   Like deep-fried mashed potato fries.  Far too tasty.

I was prepared to not enjoy the meal, because I have had a “thing” lately about US chicken, in all its brine-injected plumped up weight glory.  There’s just something about the texture which doesn’t appeal to me, but the KFC Extra Crispy strips passed the test.

When I asked Mrs. BDB if she enjoyed her chicken, I could not make out the answer, as she was gnawing on the bones, and one knows better than to get between Mrs. BDB and her bone chewing!

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KFC on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Hillbilly Bento


Fusion” cuisine, created in the US in the 70s, marries the foods and flavors of two or more cultures on one plate. An early example of this could be found in Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant “Chinois”,in Santa Monica, which wedded French and various Asian cuisines on one plate. Due to the decades long influence of the French in Vietnam, this wasn’t much of a stretch.

“Bento” is a Japanese word for a single boxed meal, usually to take away, comprised of rice, a single protein like fish, beef, or chicken, and a portion of pickled or cooked vegetables.

“Hillbilly” is a term for the people residing in rural mountainous regions of the US, particularly the Appalachians and Ozarks.

Put them all together and you have “Hillbilly Bento”, a small lunch room in downtown Portland, short on space, and long on flavor.

Choose a style of rice, and a type of meat, including chicken, bbq pulled pork, gulf shrimp, or chuck beef cubes, a traditional Southern side like black-eyed peas, mac n cheese, collard greens, and you’re off and running. Daily specials start at about noon and are available “until they run out.” There is a different special for every day of the week, including such Southern/Southeastern fare like catfish, gumbo, ribs, or, on Saturdays, Chicken Fried Steak.

The very affable proprietor arrived in Portland via North Carolina, and North Carolina has two types of “official” BBQ, “Eastern”, and “Lexington” styles. “Eastern’ is generally whole hog with a sauce made of vinegar, pepper, and sometimes mustard. “Lexington” tends to only use pork shoulder, and most often the sauce is a vinegar and ketchup mix. The latter seems to have the broadest appeal to most American diners, and its what Hillbilly Bento serves up.

Mrs. BDB and I had completed a swing through Portland’s fabulous Saturday market, and acquired a few new pieces trinkets, and were hungry for a little more fanciful fare than the market has to offer, although that’s all truly grand.

We wandered through the downtown streets lamenting the Saturday closures of most food carts, and spotted Hillbilly Bento on 6th Street, across from the US Bank tower. I had seen a few ads for it recently, and had sent out a Tweet to ask people if they had been, and the reports were very favorable.

And I’m all about any place that serves Chicken Fried Steak.

It didn’t disappoint. The friendly owner took the time to answer any and all of our questions, and help steer our indecisiveness towards ordering. He offered us small tastes of the bbq, which was totally delicious. Mrs. BDB ultimately went with the shrimp bento offering, and I with the Chicken Fried Steak with a side of collard greens.

All the food we had was good and in ample enough quantities. The intense flavors of the south have been muted a bit for the Portland palate, and that’s fine, because Hillbilly has a counter full of every possible southern hot sauce you can imagine. (Ask a typical Louisianan to choose between Crystal Hot Sauce and Tabasco Brand, and you’re in for a spirited debate!)

The steak’s breading was crispy and flavorful, the greens smoky and tender, the white gravy had depth and flavor, w/o any flourly undertone that one occasionally finds in this accompaniment. The gulf shrimp were perfectly seasoned and cooked, and the mac n cheese had a little kick in it that may have come from jalapeno cheese.

Mrs. BDB was treating, (left) and the tab ran to about $18, for two lunches, two sodas, and a piece of pecan pie (natch!) to bring home. A great value, in my opinion.

This is another place in downtown Portland I must have walked by a dozen times w/o ever noticing it. I’m sorry that happened. I’ll be sure not to let it happen again, I’ll be back! If you want to become an honorary hillbilly while you visit, print out this certificate, bring it with you, and the owners will sign it!

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Hillbilly Bento on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – John’s Cafe


johns ext png

I’ve been looking for a place like this; in fact, I’ve probably walked by this one a dozen times and never noticed it. If you want a crusty diner, so smack dab in the middle of the transient population center, and there it will be. Like John’s.

Short menu, short order, plain and simple diner food, with steak and eggs available all day, burgers, cold sandwiches, and dinner entrees that top out at $6.50. Dinners come with fries or mash, soup or salad, bread and butter – you could have a chicken fried steak, pork steak, cutlets, pepper steak, or shrimp. Except for the shrimp at 6.50, most of the dinners are less than five bucks.

Two men and an elderly woman, nice as good be, speaking in tongues to each other (Russian?), but cooing soft English to the customers, no matter what ilk the customer comes in.

I went with the bacon cheeseburger for a mere $3.75, and it was fine, absolutely fine. Came with piping hot crinkle fries. Onion, pickles, tomato, lettuce on the side.

Every food service person likes to add their own little artistry and my server’s stab at this was to balance the mustard pack on top of the ketchup bottle. Nice touch, lady, sez I.

I’ll be back.  You know I love a hamburger patty and eggs for brekky, and John’s does the trick.

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John's Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon


Portland, OR – Country Cat Dinnerhouse


coutrny cat logo

Well, you know I think chicken fried steak qualifies as a “burger,” if you’ve read my posts before.  When my friend Jay suggested we brunch here today, I (as always) perused their menu online ahead of time, and knew I would have a hard time deciding between their scrumptious sounding breakfast entrees, or a burger.

Chicken fried steak seemed like a good compromise.  Pay attention now, because Jay made a few substitutions in his order, and I followed suit, much to my great satisfaction.

On the menu, the CFS comes with eggs, greens, mashed potatoes, and brown gravy.   Jay suggested we substitute home fries and sausage gravy, which we did.

My culinary technical review?  Man oh man oh man oh man.   An unbelievable brunch entree.    Everything was seasoned just to my liking, a little salt, a little kick.   The eggs (not pictured) were perfect.   The greens unbelievably smoky.  The steak coating crispy and well-seasoned.  The potatoes with just enough crisp.    We sat at the kitchen “bar” and watched our food lovingly prepared.

Observing other orders being prepared, I didn’t see a single thing come off the grill, cast iron skill, or out of the salamander that didn’t make me drool.

Service was great, ample refills (without asking) of coffee, water, and inquiries as to our satisfaction as the meal progressed.

Country Cat serves brunch and dinner daily.  I can’t wait for a return visit.

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The Country Cat on Urbanspoon

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