Thursday, June 30, 2011

Where I go to something called a "Bob Evans"

A few months ago, Dinerwife Antoinette and I went to Florida for a vacation with her family. I found one diner that was less than a 30 minute drive from our hotel. We arrived and discovered that they had just stopped serving breakfast. This was crushing since I had my mind set on something involving syrup.

We looked at the lunch menu and I honestly said "I don't want to eat here." It was a lot of pasta dishes--which made sense as the place had only recently gone from being an Italian restaurant to presumably a diner. We got up and left and drove to the place we saw right off the highway: Bob Evans.

I had never heard of it before but apparently it's a chain--like a BIG chain. It just does not have any locations on the west coast. I don't review big chains--a place with two or three other locations? Sure, but not CHAIN chains.

My stance on chains is not that the food is terrible or the experience lacking. It is that a chain is going to default to being "safe." That's the comfort of chains. You know regardless of where you are in the world, walking into a Dennys, a McDonalds or an Olive Garden (shudder), whatever you order is going to taste exactly the same as the last time you ordered that same dish at that same restaurant halfway across the world. I like surprises; I like taking that chance. I'm a food gambler at heart, baby. And by gambling, I'm helping in someones struggle to make their own way, not fill the coffers of a corporation. And with this blog I like to think I'm helping encourage others to take the same chance. That's why I don't like chains.

But here--in Florida--I was at a chain restaurant that I had no experience with.

A place with such great food pron pictures of pie can't be that bad right?

Something I noticed was that the menu and the offerings represented a very different sensibility than what I am used to. For instance, biscuits are their base bread. If you want regular toast, you'll have to be sure to say something.

They are very proud of their biscuits. They have them baking in a huge bread over at the front o the restaurant. They ever have biscuit bread bowl breakfast.

The appetizers read like a list of food you will find available at this Summer's state fair: apple fries, fried cheese bits, tater-tots!

The bed of lettuce is a nice touch.

They also bake their own bread. We ordered the Blueberry Poundcake for the table.

Did I mention that I gained like 5lbs on this vacation?

There were five of us there, so I can't really go into much detail about what each of us ordered, but below are the pictures.

Veggie Omelette with onion, spinach and diced tomatoes. It tasted very fresh.

Corn Meal Mash! You know when I saw that on the menu I had to get it. Ever since I first tried it at Stox, it is that weird thing I have to try at each place that has it. It was pretty good-- but not as good as Stox. I also got the hash browns, which were decent, and the sausage and cheese biscuits and gravy.

....what I said earlier--I take that back--it was more like 8lbs on this vacation.

The turkey bacon melt, could have been more "melty." Otherwise, it was decent.

Sausage Omelette with swiss cheese. The country sausage was good, while the swiss cheese did seem like Kraft singles swiss.

The real winner was Antoinette's Pot Roast Hash. A little salty, but pretty awesome. We were stuffed toward the end of our meal, but we kept eating as much of the pot roast as we could.

...It was 10lbs on this vacation. Definitely.

We left Bob Evans satisfied. I think this was a pretty typical experience from a chain restaurant. We had good service. Our food was overall good. I certainly appreciated their bottomless refills on just about all drinks (even the Caramel Mocha). I'm just not the person who is going to get excited about a place like this, but it was a interesting change of pace.

Food: Good.
Price: $5-$9
Service: Good.
Pie: Yes.

Bob Evans
Visit their website to find a location near you.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

On the Road: Danica's Diner--Michigan

As someone who loves old, decrepit crap, I loved the hell out of the Detroit area. The city itself does look like a hell-hole (from the freeway--we did not venture into the city) but I did enjoy the suburbs we visited. I'd have a field day just going to all the old run-down restaurants alone. And don't get me started about how awe-inspiring the ancient Big Lots down the street from Aunt Paula's house is.

Also down the street from Aunt Paula's house is Danica's Diner, proudly serving Eastpointe Michigan since 1991. I look at that and think "Oh, that's nothing" then I realize that's twenty years ago. I. am. old.

Something that I didn't really know anything about before coming here was that Coney Dogs are a HUGE deal. If you don't serve a Coney Dog at your restaurant, you might as well not even bother opening your door. Read the wiki if you don't know what a Coney Dog is.

Danica's is pretty non-descript. It's a big square with some booths, some tables, and a small counter. It's blue?

The coffee was decent. I actually used real sugar in my coffee for the first time in a long time. There was no artificial sweetener on the table.

The food was incredibly cheap. Nothing on that menu was over ten dollars.
My breakfast of two eggs, two sausage and biscuits and gravy was $3.80.

The sausages were standard. I did ask for eggs over medium and they were perfect. The biscuit itself was only decent but the gravy was surprisingly good. It reminded me of a really creamy soup base.

Danica's Diner was convenient and decent. I think it serves a purpose in the neighborhood, but it's not a place I'd go back to.

Food: Decent.
Price: $2.95-$9.95
Service: Good.
Pie: Yes. Fruit, Cream and Pecan on the menu.

Danica's Diner
14984 East 10 Mile Road
Eastpointe, MI 48021

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cafe 50's Vermont --Where I realize I don't like Egg Creams.

The new Cafe 50's on Vermont has been open for a close to a year now. It actually showed up on my GPS long before that. I drove by and just saw the abandoned Louisiana Fried Chicken restaurant that used to be there. "Stupid GPS!" I said while throwing it disappointedly out the window. A few weeks later when it actually appeared, painted exterior and ready to open, I was thrilled. My previous experiences with Cafe 50s had been decent and unspectacular, but this new location provided an option other than House of Pies for late night diner dining in the Hollywood area.

The interior is what you expect. Like the other locations, the walls provide you with ample eye-candy for 50's nostalgia.

I like that they definitely put a lot of thought into the placement of old ads and posters. Near the men's room there is a whole section dedicated to Rock Hudson and his "bachelor life."

There's also a calendar that covers history and their daily specials.
Sometimes the history and the specials result in some amusing juxtaposition.
"Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Richie Valens die in plane crash. Strawberry shakes $2.98!"

I've actually eaten there quite a bit, but sadly my pictures are from the one disappointing meal I had.

This is the Big Bopper scramble with a side of hash browns. The hash browns were not very good. I thought they were too greasy. The scramble was decent, if a little salty.

This is the 7 Grain Granola Almond Pancakes. They let me get these as my choice of bread which was very cool. These were really delicious. I recommend them.

I also decided to get a New York Egg Cream...which I need to stop doing. I don't like them. Some reason I think "Maybe, there's just something wrong with THIS particular one." I need to realize that although my brain likes the idea of chocolate syrup in soda water with milk, my taste buds think it is gross. Gross.

The service there is more often than not friendly and attentive. The one time I got lackluster service I was with a large group and our waitress (who I've had wait on me several times) was clearly having a rough day. If this had been my one and only time there I would have had a negative impression of the place. Multiple experiences allow me to give some leeway.

They have a great home made lemon-lime pie. Although, it does look odd when you get it. They don't add any coloring to the pie so it just comes out looking grayish brown--slightly unappetizing. Trust me, it is very good.

Food: Good.
Price: $7.95-$13.95
Service: Good.
Pie: Yes.

Cafe 50's
850 N. Vermont Ave
Los Angeles CA 90029