Monday, January 22, 2018


1630 Gravois Rd.
High Ridge, Mo.

We’ve been pretty tough on Jilly’s over the years. Our first critique in 2009, was one of the first places we reviewed. So how much has changed in the past nine years? We’ll see. (See list of previous reviews below)
My chief criticism, unfortunately, has always been for the lackluster quality of the food. Jilly’s was not, even in 2009, a low price option. Back then we dropped over seventy dollars; this visit was also at that price, but for two meals rather than three and without an appetizer. 
In my mind it is not too much to expect a pretty good meal for that price range. We can get great meals in several places for that price. 
The Place:
Halfway up a hill off of Highway 30 in High Ridge. The parking lot is not intuitive to navigate to, Angel had to turn around and try again.  The blue neon (mercury gas) Jilly’s sign was fully functioning this time.
The crowd seemed light, judging by the parking lot.
Adam was planning to join us this Sunday evening but cancelled due to general puniness.  With all the bugs going around we accepted his excuse without question.
Entering I made two immediate observations. The weird life-size waiter statue was gone, which I considered an improvement, and the music was different. This was not a good thing. In all my reviews I consistently positive about was the old-school blues they played overhead.
Gone. Replaced by saccharine-generic  80’s and 90’s pop. Huey Lewis, Michael Jackson, Darius Rucker. . . the stuff that offends no one, and is already overplayed in office building elevators.  Fortunately it wasn’t very loud. I missed the old blues.
We were seated, no water offered this time.  The young lady managing the tables was prompt with the menus. I kind of like the dining area here, built and frozen in a mid 60’s chic style. The ‘mod’ vinyl booths dark wood paneling and floors harked back to the Rat Pack, or Don Draper days of martinis, slinky evening gowns, high hairdos  and chicken cordon bleu . . .
Sure enough, the menu boasted a classic ‘Beef Wellington’ and a half dozen flavored martinis.
The Food:
We wanted steak. No need for appetizers or menu browsing. Once our tea arrived, we placed our order. Filet, potato, Caesar salad. . .  Angel’s medium, mine medium rare.
No bread and fancy butter ever showed up. In previous visits this had been a tasty bonus. But nope, not this time.
The salads came after a breadless wait. . . classic salty, creamy Caesar.  The lettuce was fresh, the
croutons, crunchy. The long slivers of parmesan looked a bit intimidating to me, but I was raised on that fake powdered stuff. 
I didn’t finish the salad, the saltiness was getting a little overpowering. But you know me and salt. . . However, saltiness has been a frequent gripe about Jilly’s. The mashed potatoes we’d had once were Lot’s wife salty, hardly anything else. We’ve been avoiding them ever since. 
The steaks were listed as having a ‘Cabernet Butter’ sauce. However, the young lady had mentioned crab sauce when we ordered.   I never refuse crab, lobster or shrimp when offered, so yeah. Cabernet is just a wine, sea bugs though, oh baby!
They finally arrived, eight ounces of sizzling, oozing meat covered in a creamy, lumpy sauce. 
The potato got first attention though, both of us carved and slathered butter and sour cream into the cracks and crevices we’d created. Then and only then we  sliced into the steak.
Meat only for the first bite. . . oh man, it sliced like butter!  The done-ness was perfect to order. The second bite, with the thick crab sauce was even better. Sure, it was rich, but wow, this was exceptional!
The potato, well, it was a perfectly baked potato.  But the pinkish slurry created around it from all the butter, sour cream, meat oozings and crab sauce was divine.  
After most of the way through, the richness started to overwhelm both of us. We asked for a box. ‘Night meat’, Angel calls it, her favorite type of late night snack.
I can’t tell if Jilly’s, now under new ownership, is completely past its too salty problem. Our order
kind of avoided the issue altogether. 
Seventy bucks with tip, not cheap, at all.  
The good music is gone, the water and bread, gone, that awful waiter statue is (thankfully) gone. . .  everything else is about the same. The place looks exactly like it did in 2009, the menu looks the same. . .
Is that good or bad? I don’t know. I do know this, on this particular evening we ordered and Jilly’s delivered perfectly.

Previous reviews of Jilly's:

Sunday, December 3, 2017


12967 Route 21
Desoto, Mo.

We wanted Mexican, decided to go to this place. Just a short drive down the road from our nearest Mexican joint, Los Portales in Hillsboro.
No real reason, just because.
For me it was that we hadn't been to Coyol in over three years, a lot can change in that slice of time. We'd been pretty happy with it in the past.
The Place:
In the same parking lot as KFC (the place we shop for Christmas dinners) and across the road from a Walgreen's, right along old 21.
'Coyol' is the name of a certain palm tree that grows from the southwest U.S. all the way down to Argentina. Since there are plam trees depicted on the  signage and the menus, I assume that's where the name comes from. Inside it was bright and nearly half full of patrons, even at this early hour (5:00 P.M.) on a Saturday night. The decor is all about shiny, lacquered primary collars. Bright reds, yellows and greens.
The walls and tables sported bright, Mexican-themed
murals. One could get swept away by the overhead music, 80's American pop. . . I didn't get that either. . . it made no sense to me culturally speaking.
I was in a Chinese restaurant a few years back. They played nothing but Sinatra songs. I was just as confused at Coyol. I wanted lively Mexican Corrido or Banda . . . But no, instead we had Huey Lewis and Pat Benatar. . . I was alive in the 80's and I'm pretty much over most of the music from that dark, wretched period. "Where's my Narcocorridos!" I shouted silently into my own head.
We were told to seat ourselves, so we went for a booth in the back. As we discussed who sat where, I pointed to the side that would have me looking out at the restaurant, my preferred vantage point. Our lady host witnessed this and said "Rock, paper, scissors?"
I had to answer. "I would never leave such an important decision up to a mere game of chance."  (I can be kind of a smart-ass when reaching for a chuckle.)
She seemed amused. By that I mean she didn't punch me in the throat or call the cops. She seemed friendly enough though. She introduced herself as Jackie or Jacky, I couldn't quite tell which from her pronunciation.(it also might have been Jacquey, I suppose)
She asked about drinks and as she did so, she dropped her pen. She unnecessarily explained that this was the third time she'd dropped it this shift.  Once again, I felt compelled to respond, because apparently, that's what 'lovable jerks'* tend to do.
"If it's happened three times today, there is a good chance that the problem is not with the pen itself. . . "
I let it hang there. She quickly caught on to the shtick and laughed and agreed. I fell in love with her right there on the spot.
We asked for un-sweet tea. She dropped a couple of gallons of tortilla chips on the table for us to gorge on. Along with the chips was the requisite salsa decanter and a couple of disposable aluminum ramekins. This was a seriously large amount of chips.
We started in on them.
Jackie returned with our tea and asked if we needed more time. Nope, we'd discussed this earlier in the car. We were on a mission, our destination was already pretty much decided. Usually, and by that I mean almost always, at Mexican places I ask for enchiladas. This time we were switching it up.
The Food:
Why? Well sometimes in this cutthroat business of reviewing eateries, you've just got to step out of your comfort zone. Besides,  as soon as Angel had mentioned it earlier, I was reminded of the sizzling, aromatic platters that passed us by at other Mexican restaurants. The 'some assembly required' aspect of it neither impressed or dissuaded me, but the the thought of wrapping a warm, soft tortilla around some sizzling chicken, beef and shrimp sounded like just the ticket.
Angel ordered the 'Texas Fajita' which included those three meats. I was having what she was having we told Jacky.
"Want to make it a double then?" She asked, explaining that this would be family style with separate side plates of beans, rice and salad. Yes, perfect!
We munched on more chips, but both of us stopped before a sixth of the chips were gone. We have been known to overdo it with these crispy, spicy delights and then have no appetite for the main course.
I sipped my unremarkable tea and looked around, trying to size up the joint. Somewhere along that time the music changed to a few short bursts of my beloved Mexican ballads. We thought they'd changed the dial on the music machine, but as it turned out, the kitchen crew had just cranked up the volume on their music, drowning out the wretched 80's pop. I didn't complain.
The food arrived in a reasonable amount of time. A twelve inch cast iron griddle sitting in a wooden tray, meat sizzling hot.
It looked gorgeous. Perfectly sauteed bell peppers and onions, and thin strips of meat along with some short, fat shrimps.
Though there seems to be a history of this dish going back to the 1930's, the original dish was pretty much only beef strip steak. Other proteins are fairly recent options. The first occurrence of the word 'fajita' appeared in 1971. Though it has Mexican roots, the dish as we know it and love it now was most likely Tex or Cali based.
The sides were delivered shortly after the sizzling platter. that luscious plate of refried beans, rice and the lettuce/sour cream/guacamole salad. Man I just love this stuff! I mixed it all together as I tend to do. I make this at home occasionally. I have a wonderful rice recipe and the beans I prefer to mash and re-fry myself from dry beans I've cooked up and flavored at a slow simmer. But that's a story for another time.
We were each given three, foil wrapped and warmed soft flour tortillas. I filled one up as fast as I
could with each of the meats and plenty of slippery, perfectly sauteed peppers and onions.
Angel did likewise and pretty soon the table was quiet. Both of us savoring the smoky meat and veggie mix. There wasn't a lot of spice to it, no pepper heat. That was just fine to me. The proteins were tender and moist, the shrimp was grilled to perfection.
Jackie stopped by a few times to check on us and keep an eye on our drink levels. As Angel and I sat back in a near stupor, she offered us a takeout box. She brought two, one for the remaining fajita mix, only about two thirds gone, and the one remaining tortilla, the other for the chips, which would not all fit. Yeah, there were that many chips.
Thumbs up all around! The food was fantastic, Jackie , a true pro. The price came in just under thirty bucks, not bad at all for all we could eat with enough leftover to have for lunch on Sunday.
So food, staff, price, all really good! Highly recommended!
Bonus: I now have a new go-to Mexican meal. Fajitas! Who knew?

*Lovable jerk: Earlier in the week I asked my many, many Facebook friends to help me write a bio for my new place of work. One of my so-called friends, Mary, a lady I worked with at a large beer company a few years back, commented with a single bullet point: 'Lovable jerk.'
Fortunately I know Mary pretty well and understood and appreciated it immediately. Of course, she could have been serious too, but that's okay as well. I've never heard it actually said about me, and  I have never really thought of myself as 'lovable' but I guess there are worse things to be called, like 'poetry lover'. For this insult I have to thank my writer's group friend Kim. That was just mean.

Coyol Mexican Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dog House

605 S. 2nd Street

DeSoto, Mo.
On Facebook

There was a TV news clip going around the local social media groups this week. It looked intriguing, their Facebook page showed over six thousand followers, very surprising being as the 2016 population listing for the city of DeSoto is just over six thousand. So it was set.
Saturday was cold and gray all day, the kind of day that simply drains me of all motivation to do anything. I had played with my power tools in the garage for a while, then I made an apple pie. . . well that was about it. Finally it was time to go.

The Place:
At the corner of Miller and Second Street downtown, the sign for the bakery is much more prominent in the almost too-small parking lot. The signage was simple and understated for a place with over six thousand followers. I mean I don't even have six thousand followers and I consider myself quite the thing.
Parking was tight, but doable, since Angel was driving. We looked in and saw that it was packed even at just after 5 P.M. Part of the pack-ness was due to its size. It is not at all a large place. It only held eight or nine standard sized 4-tops. There were a couple of couples standing and waiting, a bad sign for us. We've walked away from many a place due to there being a line. However fate rang the bell and a large group occupying two tables got up to leave just seconds after we entered. I looked around and did the math and we decided to go ahead and stay.
The place was diner/dive like, not dirty, just 'lived-in'. The walls were decorated by
anthropomorphized (dressed like humans) dogs and other dog-ish things. In one corner sat a large gentleman wolfing down an enormous donut burger, which is  exactly what you think it is.
The wait wasn't very long at all. We were shown a seat in the back corner, directly below the shop's only speaker and the gender-indifferent restroom. (a one-seater I assume)

The speaker was the real inconvenience for me. It was pumping out twangs loud enough to be heard throughout the room over the considerable din of local families dining and chatting. This meant it was, directly over my head as it was, a bit too loud, but the bigger issue for me was that it was pumping out country music. Outlaw country, I believe, Waylon, Willie and Hank Junior, etc.. Not my favorite flavor of my near least favorite music genre. 
We sat at our black and white checked, vinyl cloth covered wooden tables in our standard wooden chairs and ordered our food. Nothing fancy.
The Food:
Since I'd first looked at the place on line, I knew what I would be ordering. Oddly enough, not one of their famous burgers, but the catfish sandwich. I don't mind a good burger, but I like catfish better. Plus, the listed size of their burgers, 3/4 pounds told me that I would not be able to finish even half of it anyhow. The menu listed my choice as 'Catfish sandwich with cheese'. I asked the server about this and said yes, I could have it without the cheese. Actually I didn't wan the bread either, I just wanted catfish and fries. Yes, they did also offer Tartar sauce, so were good to go. Angel asked for a bacon cheeseburger and onion rings. We'd heard about the onion rings.
The food was served in a reasonable amount of time. In a dog bowl. Yeah, that's the
gimmick that got this place a spot on the TV news. All food is served in big, plastic dog bowls. Entirely by coincidence, I happened to be wearing a Canine Life Skills (Angel's company) tee-shirt. The back of the shirt reads:  "Where sit happens." Get it?  "sit happens", because she trains. . . I'm sure you get it. So I don't mind a little gimmickry here and there.
The single fish filet was about ten inches long on a five inch square Texas toast bun. The toast had been branded with a doggy paw print. Cute. But the resulting sandwich looked a little out of whack as most of the fish was not on the bread at all, but sticking out either side. For me, this was not a problem since, as I said earlier, I didn't even want the bread. The fries were crinkle cut, pretty much my favorite kind of fries. I scooted the bread aside and cleared a hole in the massive pile of fries and squirted in  some fancy ketchup. I know it was fancy ketchup since that's exactly what the bottle said.

Angel's eyes got huge when she peered into her burger. It was large, comically large and thick, If I saw saw something like that in our fridge I would assume we were having meat loaf. But there it was,also between two thick slices of branded Texas toast.
The onion rings were also huge, impaled atop the burger with a vampire-ready wooden stake.
Without a doubt the food was really good, especially those onion rings. "I like that they weren't too heavily breaded." Angel said. I agreed that this allowed the natural, moist sweetness of the perfectly cooked onion shine through. The fish was crispy and moist as well, delightful. Angel really liked the burger, what she could eat of it. about two thirds of it came home with us in a 'doggy' bag, the only appropriate way
to travel with food from the Dog House.
She shared a ring with me and I returned the generous favor by handing her a fistful of fries. I finished the yummy fish and about half of the remaining fries before I too declared defeat.

Though it was loud, the kids noisy and the music was (to me) horrific, we had a good time. The good food overshadowed the discomfort of those ancillary things. The bill came to a paltry twenty two bucks and change, so there was no dissatisfaction with that part of the transaction either. The biggest issue with the food was, for me, the portion size. Too much food though, is really an anti-problem, like being very full and busy. I don't judge these things harshly, because I am quite aware that I just can't eat a lot in one sitting and I tend to shy (run) away from crowded, noisy places. These are
Yes, I made this. It was great!
my issues, not the restaurant's. As my friend Bernard stated on my earlier FB post about this place: ". . . you sure won't go away hungry!"
Inexpensive and tasty in a fun, lively environment, how could it not have six thousand followers?