Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Red Lobster

Many, many years ago, when we were younger, thinner, poorer, and living in Springfield MO, Red Lobster constituted fine dining. This is where we went to celebrate special events such as anniversaries, birthdays, etc. All was well with that until a business trip put me in Boston for a week. It was there in Boston that I had fresh(er) seafood for the first time. Though I had lived in Japan for three years, I did not experiment much with the ample oceanic offerings there. Sashimi, sure I tried it, didn’t care for raw fish. They offered dipping sauces, soy or wasabi (a hot horseradish) neither sauce in any amount superseded my gag reflex.
In Boston the seafood was not raw. Since I had traveled with co-workers we ate out every evening and every night someone would order an appetizer or a meal consisting of something I had never tried; calamari, oysters and other mollusks, and various types of sea fish. Since beer was also served (this is where I first met Sam Adams) I had more courage than usual so I tried everything. I still didn’t like most of it, but I could no longer say I hadn’t at least tried it.
I had shrimp that wasn’t breaded and fried, and discovered it was great. I also had lobster that was actually prepared correctly. I fell in love with lobster on that trip.
Weeks or months later, back in Springfield we were celebrating something, and for the first time at a Red Lobster I actually ordered the lobster. I was neither amused nor impressed. It was small, and rubbery, it had been overcooked. There was a hint of the luscious sweetness but the texture was off-putting.
I think we may have tried it again sometime later and found the same thing. Thus, it was sometime in the early nineties that I made the declaration that I would never go back to a Red Lobster again. Lobster was part of their name, and yet they couldn’t cook it properly, that was just too much of a violation for me to overlook.
The next memorable seafood experience was on a family trip to D.C. in 2000. We stayed in a hotel near Baltimore since it was considerably cheaper. The inner harbor in Baltimore was on our to-do list as well, we ended up spending more time there than in D.C. I recall sitting at an outdoor table above the harbor at one of the many seafood restaurants there. The meal was complete, the sun was slipping into the bay, we were stuffed and we were the most satisfied we had ever been. The feeling was glorious. To this day, this is my own personal happy place.
A couple of years later when the tech boom imploded and the company I worked for asked one third of it’s workforce, including myself, to go away and not come back, I went on a targeted job hunt. Springfield had no suitable positions, so we were going to have to move. Our thought was, if you’ve got to sell the house and move, you may as well make the best of it. So I targeted Maryland. For the next five years we celebrated in fine style primarily at ‘The Captain’s Table’ in Solomons. We discovered cream of crab soup and crab cakes. But I digress. The point is that we discovered or rediscovered that there was more to seafood than rubbery lobster tails, fish sticks and breaded fried shrimp. There was no going back to the old ways, settling for poorly prepared seafood.

The Place:
Red Lobster
5733 S. Lindbergh

St. Louis, MO

Since it had been fifteen or more years since we last ate at one, we figured that maybe, just maybe things might have improved. Angel declared that we would wait in line if necessary; she was tired of driving all around trying to find something from the road. So we waited. They estimated a half hour wait and impressed me by having actually been on target with that.
The ample bar was filled nearly to capacity, three older CRT-style TV’s were showing yet another basketball game, as best I could make out it was some sort of tournament, NCAAP or something. The waiting area was large enough to hold us all with only a little spillage out the door. Separating the waiting area from the bar was the obligatory one hundred-plus gallon tank filled with small, rubber-banded, lethargic and disinterested lobsters. The many children that were running around screaming and generally germing everything up seemed to enjoy watching them for short periods, tapping their slimy clinched fists on the glass, depriving the sea bugs of any dignity or privacy. The lobsters protested by bunching together impossibly close and not moving much. The children got bored pretty quickly and went on about their task of making the evening less enjoyable for me; running, jumping, screaming, shouting indecipherable clusters of syllables, touching everything.
All kinds of people came and went, the place was busy. Finally the flashy pager thingy indicated that we were ready to dine. We were escorted to a booth and offered menus, our drink orders were taken. Tea, tea and soda pop.
The Food:
Adam struggled with the menu. Did I mention that Adam doesn’t like seafood, ANY seafood? We had assumed that there would be other things besides seafood, and we were almost incorrect. There were no burgers or sandwiches, nearly every offering was laden with fish, shrimp, lobster or at least bits of them. He finally settled for pretty much the only thing left, maple glazed chicken and rice pilaf with a side of fries. He got the fries as a safety in case he didn't care much for rice with actual flavor infused in it. Angel asked for the lobster and parmesan shrimp scampi. I laid down the gauntlet by ordering the surf and turf, lobster and steak.
The meals all included a salad, either Caesar or garden. Angel took the former, I the latter. Adam opted for potato and bacon soup. Angel and I were told that our meals included red potatoes and broccoli. I of course, being of sound mind cannot stand broccoli, so I asked for alternatives. The response was fries, or mashed potatoes. That’s all, no beans or corn, just more potatoes. I instructed the waitress to bring me the steak and lobster and the red potatoes and just to skip the extra potatoes.
It was only then that Angel remembered her favorite thing about RL, the cheesy garlic biscuits. Sure enough a warm basket of them was delivered the three of us attacked them with a ravenous passion.
The salads arrived and were okay, nothing special. I had asked for blue cheese dressing since they didn’t offer a combination ( I like two or three different dressings in small amounts.) They had ladled it on too thickly; the last third of the salad swam in a pool of it, uneaten.
A second basket of biscuits was delivered just before the meals arrived. We each picked at a couple of them, saving the rest for the take-home boxes.
They asked me to cut into my steak to make sure it was rare like I’d ordered. It was. I thought it odd that they didn’t ask me if the lobster had been overcooked as well. It had been. I’ve had worse but it was still clear to me that they were either not paying attention or didn’t care, or that they were just not aware of the proper way to cook it. It was pretty, buttered and butter-flied, but it was overdone. The last thin couple of bites were like rubber bands.
The red potatoes were not all that good. Too starchy and thick, not cooked through. I abandoned them after a couple of bites and had another garlic-cheesy biscuit instead. Adam finished his soup and chicken, which were okay but nothing special, the fries were small and limp. Angel’s shrimp was good, though the roasted parmesan cheese on the shrimp didn’t age well on the plate and became too salty near the end. Her lobster was smaller, and also overcooked.
Angel and Adam asked for incredibly rich chocolate cake, to go. I got into a debate with the waitress as to whether to box up the ala mode or not. She insisted that it wouldn’t melt in the forty minute drive to the house. I suggested that she should be responsible if it did by cleaning the mess it would make in the car. She boxed it in a foam cup with a tight lid. I declined dessert for myself, and called out dibs on the remaining biscuits.
As far as meals go, we’ve certainly had worse. My steak was actually quite good. The biscuits are to die for, and even overcooked lobster is better than no lobster. (but not by much)
However, I cannot be gentle. The name of the joint is Red freaking Lobster! You’d think with a name like that they might actually know how to prepare lobster. I know this is the middle of the country and that lobsters are not exactly freshly plucked from a nearby ocean but they CHOSE to call themselves Red freaking Lobster! It’s like Angel suggesting that that awful hot dog place we went to might actually make decent hamburgers. What sense does that make? If you are going to put an ingredient or meal title in your restaurant’s name, you might oughta figure out how to prepare it!
And then there was the tab. OMG! This meal as described above came to eighty six dollars before the tip, a hundred after. We knew we ordered pricey stuff, we knew the lobster meals would cost more than a Roly Poly, as I said before I don’t mind paying for a good meal. I do very much mind paying too much for a mediocre one, and all things considered, that’s all this was. The premiere, titular offering was simply not prepared properly. What more can I say? I shall not return!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Frankie Gianino's
1209 West Main Street
Imperial, MO 63052-3852

We found FG’s after last week’s debacle regarding that Texas-themed steakhouse whose name I shall not again utter. Driving south from that abominable town of Arnold, we detoured through the eastern tip of Imperial, near Mastodon State Park. (Featuring real mastodons!)*
We Googled the place ahead of time and found out they do NOT take reservations or offer fake call-ahead seating and that the menu looked pretty good, Italian, very similar to Trattoria Giuseppe, a place that we dearly love. So the plan was to order pretty much the same sort of thing and do a head to head comparison.

The Place:
We arrived around six, late for us because of a dog (imagine that!) There was a line but it was contained indoors. Angel stepped forward asking for a table for three, first available. She was handed one of those flashing pager things and told the wait would be about ten minutes, it only took five.
‘First available’ turned out to be about ten feet from the door, in a booth right across from the noisy bar. I can’t go into detail about the décor since this is as far inside as we ever got. The rest of the place might have been perfectly lovely, or a pig sty, I simply don’t know.
Above the bar were suspended very large flat panel TV’s one showing a basketball game of interest to several of the barflies, the other a hockey match which seemed to hold no one’s interest. Why people were watching the round ball match I don’t know as the two teams were not even local. Why no one was interested in the hockey, I understand perfectly. It’s a stupid sport played by knuckle-dragging thugs who are simply there to skate around pointlessly until given a reason to hit someone else with their sticks or oversize gloves.
The bar crowd was two or three people deep all around and quite noisy. A family of them received their page and was escorted to a table somewhere, thankfully, far away. All the male members of the family, including frail grandpa were totally plowed and chatting and laughing loudly and stupidly. I was glad to see them go, the noise around the bar was reduced by half.
This was going to be tough to compare to the family style relaxed atmosphere of Giuseppe’s. This was, at least where we were sitting, more like a bawdy sports bar.
Our drink orders were taken, and menus offered. Angel was delighted to discover that Diet Dr. Pepper was available, it isn’t in most places. I don’t know why she likes it. Dr. Pepper is just this side of disgusting WITH sugar. But it pleased her. Adam took a Pepsi, and I ordered a….. guesses anyone?
Ice Tea, silly. The waiter asked about lemon or not, I opted yes. On delivery I was impressed to find not one, but TWO wedges in the glass. The tea itself was not bad, clear and fresh, but it could have been stronger.

The Food:
The menus immediately shocked us. I was still in a mind to order the Steak Modiga, like the one I had at Giuseppe’s a couple of weeks back to celebrate Angel’s birthday. It was at this point I started looking elsewhere. The steak, all of the steaks, were between twenty five and twenty seven dollars; sticker shock ensued. I have not paid that much for a steak anywhere in the area. I decided that even though there was a chance that it might be just that good, maybe a nice pasta dish would do instead. The ambiance, at least at our table, was simply not appropriate for trying to enjoy a thirty dollar steak.
Angel noticed my dilemma. I was looking at the twelve dollar spaghetti (yawn!) when she pointed out the pizza. Not so much the pizza itself, but the tag-line on the menu: "As featured on “Rachel Ray’s ‘Taste of St. Louis.’ “ I closed my menu, that’s all I needed to know. I adore, worship Rachel Ray, but not in the way you are thinking. I mean I have built a shrine to her and burn a candle and pray to it daily. One recommendation from her and I’d eat a burning ferret.
A large deluxe (sausage, mushrooms, pepperoni, onion, green peppers) could be had and shared for seventeen bucks. Angel asked for additional toppings; black olives and shrimp. The extra toppings added about four bucks, but it was still cheaper than a single steak of any kind. Not that we were out to go cheap, it was just the ambiance didn’t shout cloth napkins, fine wine and overpriced steak. This was, at least where we were sitting, beer and pizza territory. Adam ordered the ‘Honey Mustard Chicken Sandwich’ and fries.
Angel and I also asked for a house salad, then had to be more specific since they offered two different house salads. Since this was an Italian place by claim, I assumed “Two houses, both alike in dignity” ** ; and they may have been, but as it turns out the big difference was mushrooms. The salads were five bucks a pop, pricey maybe, but not enough to cause two star-crossed lovers to “take their life.”
The salads were very good. The dressing was sweet, reminiscent of Giuseppe’s though not quite as good. It was still better than most other house salads I’ve had.
I was still a little disappointed. For me pizza is not ‘dinner’ it’s more of a snack, or meal short-cut. I associate it with fast food, not fine food.
But fine it was. It was prepared St. Louis style. This style is somewhat unique to the area as you might imagine. It features a very thin and very crispy, unfold-able yeast-less crust, and is therefore almost always rectangular and cut into small squares (party cut), and is further defined by the use of Provel cheese. Provel is a trademarked cheese developed by the St. Louis firm ‘Costa Grocery’. It is made in Wisconsin specifically for the St Louis market. It is a blend of provolone, Swiss, and white Cheddar. The sauce is on the sweet side, reflecting it’s origins from the local Sicilian population.
As the crust is quite thin, it is also slippery. While the sauce and cheese were hot and liquidy the toppings easily slid off. Angel and I ended up using a fork. The taste was rich, substantial and delightful. She’d made a good call about the shrimp; it complimented the sauce and cheese perfectly. There was more than enough to fill us, we boxed up and lunched on the rest.
As far as pizza’s go it was as good as any I can remember, with the possible exception of one I had in Chicago ten years ago. That was a different style though, served in a small, lively place that a friend of mine knew about from his younger days in the Windy City. ***

I cannot get past the price of the steaks, it was simply unreasonable; easily eight to ten dollars more than similar steak offering in nicer nearby places. The bill came to a reasonable fifty two dollars and change before the tip. It would have been closer to eighty if we’d had the steak. Adam’s sandwich was ‘fine’ as usual.
The pizza was indeed outstanding, Rachel was certainly right about that. I’d seriously like to have it again sometime, or at least try some other 'St’ Louis style' pizza at other places. It is rich, but it doesn’t weigh you down too much since the crust is almost non-existent.(wafer thin) That has always been my one 'beef' with Chicago style, too much bread.
As far as a recommendation, I’d certainly send my pizza loving friends there, as for more traditional Italian, I’d still put Trattoria Giuseppe’s first.

* Don’t worry they’re all dead.

** “ Two houses. . .” Come on, you know this! It’s from the prologue of William Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ (I saw the movie)

*** A shout- out to an old friend, Ken Cleeton of Springfield, MO. He passed recently leaving a large, oddly shaped hole in the better parts of the fabric of the universe. He’ll make one hell of an angel.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Super Chinese Buffet

2204 Michigan Ave
Arnold, MO

Some people never learn, others just take a bit longer. In our case we are the latter. This past Saturday we headed to Arnold to try the Texas Roadhouse. I know, I know I’ve ranted for a few long sessions about Arnold, but bear with me.*
Earlier on Saturday during my writers society meeting a fellow member, who also happens to be a fan of this quaint blog, approached me and handed me what looked like a business card. “It’s a call ahead card.” she said. Sure enough that’s what the card said. Not a reservation number, but a number to call ahead a few minutes before expected arrival to get on the waiting list.
So without really thinking it through we headed out. About the time we reached Pevely I used Angel’s cellular telephone and made the call. There was no answer, there was no voice mail or answering machine, it just rang and rang and rang. So I tried again a couple of minutes later. Nothing. Not even the common courtesy of having a robot voice tell me how important my call was. There was not even the courtesy of a thick accented guy in Bangalore or Delhi mangling my question, nor even a whimsical “Pulse el dos para Español”, just ring, ring, ring, ad infinitum.**
Angel, occasionally the optimist, thought and offered an explanation: “Maybe they turned it off because there is no line.” I mentally sighed and rolled my eyes.
Sure enough the place was packed again. I went in alone to check the wait time. A middle aged couple were on a bench in the waiting area along with what looked to be about a thousand other people. “How long’s the wait?” I innocently queried. “Don’t know, we called ahead and now we’ve been here at least a half hour.” He replied, exasperated. I approached the hostess stand swimming through a thick sea of mumbling Arnoldians. As I neared I saw the hostess’ lips move and form the phrase “About an hour” to another potential customer. I went no further.
I returned to the puppy-mobile and reported the news. I made a proclamation. “Family pay heed!” I started. “How good the food is in this place is completely irrelevant. It is not available to us in a perfectly reasonable window of time, even on a quite ordinary Saturday evening, therefore the quality of the food that we can not get too is completely meaningless!” Angel and Adam cooed with respect and admiration.
“Furthermore, dear family, I cannot recommend this establishment to anyone, friend or foe, rich or poor, lively or vapid. We have given this place two good tries; both times they have left us standing hungry in the cold. I can only infer that they do not want us inside, they do not want our hard earned credit, they simply do not want us as patrons!” Adam and Angel cheered and applauded, the air in the SUV was becoming electric. “We shall leave these grounds, never, ever to return. We will not beg, we will not cower, we will not subject ourselves further to this demeaning exercise! This place is not only dead to us; it will be as if it never existed at all!” The cheers rolled forward, the crowd went wild, horns blared around us, and somewhere I am quite sure, large sweaty growling Scottish men were lifting their kilts, baring and slapping their muscular backsides in avid support.
So we avowed to never return. You will never, ever, ever see a review of that particular place in this space. I do not solely blame that establishment, whose name I will never again utter. The blame goes to the people in and around Arnold that tolerate this sort of thing. Who waits for over an hour, just to be seated in a Texas-themed steak house? There are decent steaks at dozens of other places nearby. Why do you fools pack yourselves in to a place that is likely no better than Outback, Ruby Tuesday’s or Ponderosa? What is wrong with you people? You look like a bunch of yelping, drooling hyenas packed around a week old zebra carcass. There’s other food available people, within walking distance in fact!
Enough of that, for now.

So we went to the 'Super Chinese Buffet' down the road. There was no crowd and we waited less than five minutes to be seated. Once shown our seats we rushed to the lines and piled it high, returning as often as we liked, on our own terms.

The Place:
A shopping center in Arnold, next door to an excellent hobby store. The place was full, but efficiently managed. There was that quick wait, hardly noticeable. The place was tidy, and decorated a little on the darker side with the obligatory oriental theme. The tables were separated by a panel of wood, topped with glass. Between the glass panes were rural hillside scenes in carved cork. The light fixtures were made to look like traditional oriental lamps, tasteful and appropriate. The wall paper was textured, classy and clean, the carpet was copper colored with blue and yellow geometric patterns, not too worn down.
The tables we small and close. I sat facing the buffet lines, Angel and Adam sat opposite, facing me, as they should.

The Food:
The variety at this particular buffet is superior to the other buffets we’ve covered. There is a line for sushi-like offerings, one for Midwestern palettes; macaroni, fried chicken, etc. A fairly ignored salad line, and two or three dual sided lines of typical Chinese-ish offerings. Nothing really unique, but there was a generous variety.
As I usually do, I made up a sampler plate, just a tablespoon’s worth of everything that looked as though it might be good. This was really just to set up for the second round, which I call the ‘binge’ round, made up of only my favorites among the sampled, piled high enough to stuff into my face until I can no longer breathe.
I took notes while sampling, some of which are actually legible:
Angel remarked “Not enough veggies.”
Pot stickers: Very good.
Mong Beef: Ahlt tolufch ( I have no idea)***
Spicey chicken: IS!
Spicey shrimp: Not very.
Rice: Very good.
Noodles: pasty
Rangoons: twisted, misshapen, non-uniform, but tasty.
Mong Pork: A++
Gen Tso: Not so good.
Cashew chicken. Not bad but not prepared like any cashew chicken that I’ve ever had.
Chick on stick: too much ginger.
Bannanas with red sauce: Awesome! Even more so with a side of fresh strawberries!
Tea-refresher guy: Brusque, harried, or perhaps just rushed.

Polling the family afterwards they concurred. It was good, the variety was nice, but nothing really stood out as being that much better or much worse than the other buffets we’ve critiqued. Better overall than the new place in Festus, but just not quite as good as the Oriental Buffet/Buffet Oriental in South County.
We’ll give it a ninety, and sure we’ll recommend it if you happen to be much closer to it than you are to Buffet Oriental/Oriental Buffet.

Coming up next: We will NOT be going to Arnold! I promise! I’ve had it with that useless town. It ought to be completely razed and the soil poisoned with salt.
We’re thinking maybe Imperial, we found a couple of possibilities there.

* “Bear with me.” A funny thing, as often as I’ve uttered that phrase or heard it, I don’t think I have ever actually written it. I looked at it and couldn’t figure out whether is should be ‘Bare’ or ‘Bear’. So I looked it up. It turns out you ‘bear’ with me much like you ‘bear’ a child. To do likewise, to ‘bare’ either would actually be A. Entertaining for me, not so much for you, and B. Illegal in most of the civilized world. Although there are web sites form Germany and a couple of the former Soviet states that celebrate entire families baring with each other. I won’t post a link, but you can see for yourself by using someone else’s computer in a secluded location and Google-ing “ Russian family nudism” , or something close to that. I will admit that I accidentally came across just such a site once while I was researching my own family history, a completely innocent mistake I assure you.

**Ad infinitum: Latin; “To infinity”
“ Ad infinitum et ultra!” Is therefore the proper Latin translation of Buzz Lightyear’s tagline: “To infinity and beyond!"

*** “Ahlt tolufch” On later reflection it occurred to me that the Mongolian beef was a little tough. So that’s obviously what I wrote. My mouth must have been full.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Roly Poly!

1901 Richardson Rd.
Arnold, Missouri

Sometimes the mood calls for something lighter than a steak. Sometimes a simple sandwich and maybe some soup is all that is required. Sure we could go to Subway again, but what other options are there?
We found one, actually Adam did. He’s a student at ITT Tech in Arnold and it turns out that not far from his campus sits a little place called Roly Poly. He brought home a menu a while back. (more on this later) Angel and he even had lunch there a while back.
Roly Poly is a small chain, only 120 franchises spread out over most of the U.S. There’s three in Maryland, three in Missouri and one in Kentucky, so there may not be a convenient location near you. However, if you happen to be near one, go ahead and give them a try.
I assume the ‘Roly’ in Roly Poly comes from the fact that these are not simply deli meat and produce between two slabs of bread. They are more like wraps. Ingredients are laid on the wrap and are rolled up with it. Many of the roly’s are then grilled. You can get either a six or twelve inch roly. The soups vary four or five available at a time either in eight or sixteen ounce.
The Place:
I know, I know, after I lambasted Arnold just last week, why on earth go back this week? Well, because that menu I spoke of had been taunting me. Someone put it on the table beside my awesome recliner and this caused me to pick it up and read over during commercials. This was no small task, mind you. (more on this later).
It was in a strip mall, of course, clean, bright and unassuming. The front was small holding ten or so small tables, a small flat screen TV offered Olympic Curling. The place was staffed by exactly two young human females who seemed quite content with their responsibilities. There was no one else there so we took our time and read through the overhead menu, which was quite a bit easier to read than the one at home. (more on this later)
The food:
I pretty much knew what I wanted already. A fajita roly (which I deliberately pronounced FA-ji-tah (instead of fa-HE-tah) , because I like acting like a complete dork in front of my family, especially around strangers. They think I’m hilarious.
I asked about available soups and the counter girl pointed to a whiteboard directly in front of my face with the available soups listed in bright colors. I saw the irresistible, Chili. So I ordered a six inch roly and an eight ounce chili. (more on this less-than wise-choice later)
Angel called for an Italian Classic, twelve inch (so she could have some later) and the seafood bisque. Adam designed his own roly with turkey, ham, bacon, pepper jack cheese and cashews. He included potato soup. (more on this later).
We were handed our tall paper cups and directed toward the beverage dispensing machines. There was tea, Adam sniffed it and dismissed it. I went ahead and filled up on it as my expectations for tea in this universe have been severely diminished. They filled up with some sort of soda pop.
It wasn’t long before our soups were brought out. Angel’s first. She let me dip my virgin spoon into it and take a taste.* It was surprisingly good, cheesy, yet definitely sea-foody. It was rich, as it should be, so if you ever ask for it just get the small portion, that’ll be plenty.
My chili came, it too was cheesy. If I must say maybe a bit too cheesy. Adam dived into his soup and then abruptly stopped about three quarters into it. He said he just remembered that there are onions/scallions in potato soup. Duh.
The food was served in baskets, with butcher paper, (take note Hot Dog place!) The ingredients in the roly’s were fresh and nicely proportioned. My cheese was melty, the peppers not too strong, the texture, excellent. We were all quite satisfied with our roly’s and for the most part our soups.
My mistake was in ordering two similar things. The fajita was spiced and cheeesed similar to the chili. If I were allowed a do-over I would have gone with something more subtle than the fajita, like the roly Adam designed, (without the cashews) to contrast the chili. As it was I had a little too much of spicy, cheesy rich southwestern taste and the tea was too bland to cut it much. I don’t fault Roly Poly for this though, they have lot of options, and I should have thought it through. If you plan to go, check out their menu first. There’s scores of possible options. And if you happen to see one of their printed, paper menus, throw it away. Not that it’s inaccurate or misleading, just nearly impossible to read if you don’t have a magnifying glass. Seriously, the print on the thing is in about a four point font, a single ant could completely block out an entire word or two. In order to read it in the comfort of my awesome recliner I had to take off my glasses, cover one eye then hold the menu about a quarter inch from my face. It made my head hurt.
But the food is worth it; tons of options, well prepared, fresh ingredients.
This meal only cost us about twenty five bucks, putting it level with burger and sandwich chains. The food was really good, the place offers more ingredient options than Subway and the resulting roly is easy to eat. The soups are often unique, rivaling those at St. Louis Bread company.(which is referred to here in the St. Louis area as merely ‘The Bread Company’).
The biggest negative I can think of is that there are not more locations. I don’t like going to Arnold and Chesterfield is simply out of the question. If there was one closer I would definitely patronize it more often, for lunches or a light weekend dinner. I’ll give this place a ninety three. If they would back off on the amount of cheese in the chili a bit, and freshen their tea more often it could easily score higher. Check them out!

* Angel positively hates sharing human germs via spoons and cups. If I were to have stuck an unclean spoon into her soup she would probably tossed the bowl at me. She will not share a glass with a human. Yet somehow having a dog take a carrot out of her mouth or give her a good face licking doesn’t seem to rise to the same level of disgust.