Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tanglefoot Steak House

Festus Mo.
We visited this place last year, early in our exercise. We decided to go back to see if it still measured up.
The Place:
Located across the parking lot from Home Depot, just down from Panera (St. Louis Bread Company) and McDonalds.
The place is quite large, with a well appointed bar in the entry and several TV’s mounted on the walls. The sound was muted on all of them, just as well as there seemed to be only two viewing choices, bicycle racing and NASCAR. One is an actual sport involving physical exertion, body tone, exercise, steroids and Human Growth Hormone, the other merely another reason for rednecks, goat-ropers, hillbillies and other knuckle-draggers (and my sister) to use up gasoline, drink too much and get into pointless fights. Like its poorer cousin, professional wrestling, NASCAR is completely scripted, that’s right, it’s all fake. Trust me on this. Like the 1969 moon landing and the entire eighth season of ‘Dallas’ it’s not real. Most of the races are actually just staged using realistic model cars and clay-mation figures in a giant sound studio outside Gary, Indiana.
The place wasn’t crowded and we were seated immediately. Wood floors, textured white-ish walls and open rafters overhead, painted in a color I can only describe as ochre (or ocher), the color of iron rust.
To my disgust, I discovered that babies were allowed in the restaurant. Worse, they were allowed to sit right behind me. Not that I have anything against babies, I was an award-winning baby myself once*, it’s just that I don’t like them around me while I am working, eating, relaxing, sleeping or if they are making any kind of noise whatsoever.
We were handed our menus, drink orders were taken, Tea, tea, and Coke.
The Food:
I looked over the steak offerings, though since it had been a hot, humid day, I really wasn’t in the mood for a huge steak. I had noticed on the way in that the special was steak and shrimp, which if the steak was small enough would be okay. It wasn’t listed on the menu, so I asked the dude about it when he came to take our order. “Two six ounce steaks and four jumbo shrimp.” He answered. I was perplexed. Sometimes more just isn’t better. “Mmmm, that sounds great, “I’ll have the catfish.” I replied.
Angel ordered the tilapia and shrimp, Adam, the chicken tenders. Just as the dude was walking away Angel leapt up, knocked over the table and shouted at him. “Lobster rangoons!” Okay, to be honest she didn’t leap or yell. She did order the appetizer though and then allowed Adam to choose one for himself since lobster rangoons potentially contain actual seafood, he went for the fried ravioli.** She remembered the rangoons from our first visit, and so did I as soon as she mentioned them.
The appetizers arrived in short order. They were just as good as I had remembered, sweet, crisp, creamy and yummy. The ravioli was pretty good as well. We saved a few of the rangoons just so we could enjoy them later at home. I assume Angel ate them all.
The wait for the main course was about five or ten minutes too long. We were reduced to watching silent racing bicycles and fake cars. When the food did come I recalled one thing I didn’t care for at Tanglefoot; the lack of variety on the plate. My catfish came with a ramekin of potato salad, and that’s all, two tidy filets and a bowl of potato salad. Angel’s tilapia and shrimp came with a spinach au-gratin. The plates seemed barren, like something was missing. A veggie would have been nice, so would a little side salad or maybe even a lemon or some tartar sauce. But no, the meal didn’t come with any of that.
When the dude came around again I asked for tartar sauce, he looked at me as if I were about to put peanut butter on caviar. He brought me some, though to call it tartar sauce was a stretch, it was more like . . .mayonnaise. Better than nothing.
The fish itself was very well prepared and still moist. The potato salad baffled me. I’m a former southern boy and I expect potato salad to be yellow from the mustard you make it with. This was brown and not sweet, it was like they used some of that fancy Dijon mustard instead of the real, all-American yellow stuff. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what my eyes and taste buds were expecting.
Angel said her fish was quite good despite being crispy around the thin edges. She shared a bit of her spinach au gratin. I liked it, though she didn’t quite finish it. Adam’s chicken was prepared well, and there was lots of it, enough that he didn’t finish, so we boxed it up with the remaining rangoons and some of Angel’s tilapia.
Angel put her finger on it, a key missing ingredient, bread. There were no complimentary rolls, biscuits, toast or even breadsticks. That would have helped fill out the plate, as would a simple vegetable offering.
The food was all good, and not incredibly overpriced. All told, including two appetizers, the bill came to sixty three bucks and change before the tip. Not too bad for quality meals, there just wasn’t enough there.
Off the Hook in (near) DeSoto is the closest comparison I can offer up. We had similar meals there, three appetizers, plus three meals that came with extras like slaw and beans and as I recall, complimentary bread, all well prepared and for about twenty bucks less. My catfish at OTH came with fries, slaw, baked beans and real tartar sauce. (My notes from OTH also indicate that they too allow babies, so I guess they’re even on that score at least.) Tanglefoot is okay, in fact the food is pretty good, but I really don’t see the unique draw aside from the lobster rangoons. We discussed it at length and agreed that although the food was pretty good, the value, what you get for what you pay, was simply not there. I rated it an ‘A’ last year, I think I’ll have to drop it to a ‘B’ this time.

* Award winning baby: I’m not kidding, I’ve got a picture, and I think my mom still has the ribbon, yeah, if she really loves me she’ll even know exactly where it is.

** Fried ravioli: Apparently this is a St. Louis thing. Legend has it that a local chef accidentally dropped some ravioli in a deep fryer, tasted it, thought it needed a little something and took some more, breaded and fried it and voila! A new food invention! Being as I am from the south and also a big fan of carnival food, I don’t see how this is such a big deal. Okay, canned Chef-Boy-R-Dee ravioli may not count as actual ravioli downtown, but I am sure that someone, somewhere has deep fried it before. Breading and deep frying can make anything better including canned meals, road kill and Twinkies.. But now I’m just sounding like a NASCAR fan.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Road Trip!

This is roughly half of a two part tale. The other half can be found at:

This past week I skipped town for an unofficial reunion of folks that once worked at the now- defunct Litton Advanced Circuitries Division in Springfield, MO. (See other blog for details) I ate at a few different places along the way, and since I can’t seem to NOT critique dining establishments, I took notes.

Lunch, Saturday


1007 Kingshighway, Rolla, Mo.

I hadn’t eaten at a Wendy’s in years. In St. Louis county, and some of the surrounding areas, the Wendy’s franchisee went bankrupt or corrupt, or something. Most, if not all the Wendy’s are boarded up and have been for several years. I’m not a huge fan of their burgers, but they do offer something I often crave, the chili.

I fell in love with Wendy’s Chili back in the early 90’s. I often volunteered to judge high school debate tournaments, and somebody at the school system knew somebody at the Wendy’s and they provided a big pot of chili. I ate a lot of it. When I moved to Maryland and was flying back and forth for the first few months, I would stop at the Wendy’s in Prince Frederick on the way to the airport.

Rolla is somewhere in between Hillsboro and Springfield, let’s call it half way. I remembered this particular one from the 70’s when I often drove from Ft Leonard Wood, where I was stationed to Scott AFB in Illinois where my boss was stationed. It was still there.

It’s just another Wendy’s if your lucky enough to have one nearby. Staffed by college kids and single moms, sort of clean and never too busy. I ordered, a large bowl with a small order of fries, extra crackers. They had iced tea, it was expectedly forgettable.

I can’t put my finger on exactly what I like about their chili so much more than other places. The stock is not thick, almost clear. There’s plenty of beef and Kidney beans, spicy but not enough to set you on fire. It’s just good. The fries were okay, but only.

If you’ve never had Wendy’s chili I highly recommend it, try it and let me know what you think.

Saturday Night.

Dean and Debbie’s house

Walnut Grove, Mo.

The Place:

Dean and Debbie built this large house on ten acres. They had big visions and they followed through down to the small details. There were stories of snakes, disasters involving sheet rock and at least one trip in an ambulance involved in the building of it. It is fronted by an enormous covered deck on the second floor. (for more details see the other blog)

The food:

My old friend Danny was given the spatula and put in charge of the two grills. He meticulously tended the burgers and franks, they ended up moist and done without charring.

Debbie had spent the previous evening making potato salad and baked beans. Nailed it! The potato salad was cold and fresh and al-dente, the potatoes cooked only to perfection, not one second longer. The mustard/mayo ratio was perfect, I piled it high. The beans were also exceptional, sweet, but not too sweet and cooked with bits of onions and I suspect peppers. I added a small handful of chips to my plate, just enough to cleanse the palette.

The ice tea Debbie made was the best I’ve had anywhere. Seriously. She uses loose leaf and doesn’t keep it in imprisoned in the refrigerator for days on end. Every glass I had, and there were six or seven, was perfect. A new standard has been set. It is even better than my own.

Someone had made up some interesting sweet treats. I didn’t get the details exactly but it involved breaking apart chunks of frosted strawberry cake, then dipping those chunks into almond bark. About the size of a bon-bon, these white/pink nuggets were deadly. There was significant sugar involved but the taste was heavenly. Its effect on a person that doesn’t consume all that much sugar (me) was very much like tossing back two fast swigs of absinthe followed immediately by getting slapped in the ears.

Because of this treat, which I somehow hate (fear?) but still crave (kind of like what crystal meth supposedly does to you), I did not try many of the other offerings at the cook-out. Everything there was good though, including the cream-cheese filled sushi-style rollups.

Sunday A.M.

Jade Dynasty

300 E Battlefield, Springfield, Mo.

The step-kids picked the place.

Springfield Mo, and I’ve pointed this out many times before, is the center of the universe for American Chinese food. ANY Springfield Chinese restaurant, with the possible exception of Master Wong’s (are they still around?) is better than you will find anywhere else in North America, South America, Scandinavia, the Ukraine and even the Benelux countries. Don’t doubt me on this; you’ll just make a fool of yourself.

So I called Tyler and asked him and his lovely wife, Tonya to have a chat with Steph and decide on a place to go for lunch. I was traveling light and alone, they had more coordination to do what with Steph’s two young kids. (read more about them on the other blog)

Across form the Food 4 Less on Battlefield road, just west of the mall, the place is shiny, lots of reds and yellows. Inside it is large and buffet style. Payment takes place as you walk in. We were a party of five adults and two crumb-crunchers. We were shown a large table and were a bit disappointed to see that the buffet was not quite ready. Most of the steamer bins were empty and where there was an offering, there were no tongs or spoons. We were early.

Once the food started being loaded up we went around and grabbed everything we could. The kids, 5 and 3 favored the chicken on a stick and other finger-able foods. Lexie, the 5 year old, had a pile of broccoli which I tried to save her from, she and her mom fought me away. Apparently Steph, who never liked me anyhow decided to twist up her own kids’ brains as well, somehow convincing them that broccoli tastes good. I know! It’s sick isn’t it?

There’s no need for a lot of detail here. Just read all the other reviews of Chinese buffets and add ten points across the board. The one star standout being the fried rice, this is the one thing that everywhere else gets wrong. I don’t know why, it’s not that hard.

Oh well, they did screw up the drink orders, almost completely. The kids got their Sprite, but only four of the five adults got the drink they ordered. They need to fix that if they expect us to return. I don’t like sweet tea, and Pepsi and Diet Pepsi don’t taste exactly like Dr. Pepper in most other places.

The food though, every bit of it, was awesome. I know it’s mostly just fried this and that, maybe somebody sticks his or her finger in the oil in Springfield, I don’t know, but it’s always better.

Once lunch was complete and the kids had their ice cream, I hit the road for my return home. One more stop to make:

Canton Inn

205 West Sunshine Street, Springfield, Mo.

This stop was to pick up a CARE package for Angel and Adam. According to them Canton Inn’s Egg rolls and wontons travel very well and stay crispy even after being nuked. So I stood in line for a take-out order of sixteen wontons and ten egg rolls. They went into the trunk so I couldn’t smell them and therefore wouldn’t eat them all. They are good, very good.

I did make one more food stop. Gas for the car and a little something for me to snack on.

A generic gas station, Rolla MO.

An hour and a half into the three plus hour drive, the withdrawal set in. That strawberry-almond bark narcotic had distorted my system, I needed a sugar rush. I knew I couldn’t get more of those treats so I did the best I could with what was both legal and commercially available; a three pack of frosted Zingers. The Zingers didn’t quite take me to the level of the night before, when I actually believed I could fly, but they at least stopped the gongs in my head. Hopefully I will be able to wean myself off completely in the next few days/weeks.

To top off the weekend, I had a simple bologna sandwich for dinner. Angel and Adam had egg rolls and wontons.

So on your next trip to Springfield make sure to stop in to some of these places, you’ll be glad you did. Of course you might want to let Debbie know ahead of time, I don’t think they cook out every night.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day Dinner

Ahh, Mother’s Day. . . Angel didn’t at all appreciate my gift to her. Even though I thought it was quite enough of an honor and privilege that I had allowed her to bear my child, I decided to extend my generosity and treat her to an evening out for dinner. Oh sure she loves to eat out, but she just got angry when I added to the offer “Any place you like.”

You see, since we started this crusade seven or eight months ago, it has become sort of a pain to decide where to go. There are plenty of places to eat to be sure, but deciding on a particular one is tough for a family of chronic non-deciders. So my offer to let her choose was in her mind a cop-out on my part. I cannot disagree since that’s exactly what it was.

She played it safe by choosing a place she likes rather than trying a new place. Fair enough.


Festus MO

Yeah, we’ve been there a couple of times, reviewed it a couple of times, but she had a hankering for a known good meal rather than risk a new place that might turn out to be disgusting. It is very telling though that of the nearly thirty places we’ve been that this one was the one she knew she could get what she wanted and that it would be good. There are just a few places like that. The Captain’s Table in Solomons, Maryland is certainly at the top of this short list. The cream of crab soup is absolutely the best possible, and the crab cakes there define what a crab cake is / should be. A meal at the old, rundown dockside joint is as close to orgasmic as a meal can be and still be legal.

Trattoria Giuseppe’s in Imperial, Mo. is another. This is where we went for her birthday as well as a couple other times. I don’t know why not this time, perhaps because the food is so good and plentiful there that she feared she wouldn’t be able to stop eating. For her, warmer weather means lighter meals.

Bandana’s is a barbecue joint, a regional chain. They don’t sell burgers, fish or pasta. They smoke/grill everything there; they even grill the garlic bread. They offer five different wet sauces at every table.

She made her decision early in the day, and as I drove around that afternoon looking for a particular cemetery I passed several roadside barbecue events, hardwood smoke and pork aromas wafting across the road, my mind drifted to Bandana’s and what I would order. My mouth watered, I openly and publicly drooled.

We left for the place around five in the afternoon. My tummy was growling, the drool continued to make its course down my firm, manly chin. We chose the Bandana’s in Festus as it was the closest. It was not crowded, we were seated immediately and the blonde stick figure handed us menus and took our drink orders, tea, tea and sweet tea.

I glanced at the menu and wiped a puddle of drool from the cleft in my statuesque chin. Angel and Adam read through the entire small menu as if they hadn’t given it a thought ahead of time. I simply declared “I want a sammich!” My first glance at the menu had revealed pulled pork, I was done deciding. Angel eventually chose the side of chicken, corn and salad, Adam the turkey sandwich and corn.

The stick figure, and I’m not kidding, this girl was five eight or nine, a tall thing, and likely weighed no more than thirty five pounds. Her most prominent feature, the one that protruded the most from her nearly flat skeleton was her nose, and it wasn’t all that much of a nose. She was darn near two dimensional. I articulated my observations to my family in a simple way: “She has no ass.” Though factually accurate, my son took offense. “You’re not supposed to notice things like that!”

I pointed out to him that though I am usually not very observant at all, it was my appointed task to uber-observe at these outings as our readers expect in-depth color commentary, not just a bland regurgitation of what we ate and where we ate it. It was my job to look at the young lady serving us just as much as it was to notice the walls, the carpet and the incredibly large can of Allen’s Baked Beans on the counter.

Angel backed me up on this, sort of. “You didn’t look at the waitress?” she rebuked her son. We’ve been trying to socialize him more. He inherited not only his mother’s quaint shyness, but my aloof, asocial (it just looks anti-social) personality as well.

Angel doesn’t worry too much about me noticing or commenting on a waitress’s anatomy. She knows I wouldn’t stand a chance with any of them as socially awkward and horribly timid as I am. She showed no more concern than if I had said, “Hey, there’s a red Ferrari.” ( That is never happening either, but simply because I don’t really like rear-wheel drive cars.) So my commenting on the ass (or lack thereof) of a twenty year old blonde is in her mind completely harmless. Little does she know, if I had one single ounce of self confidence, I’d be quite the gadabout.

The food arrived, for the most part. Angel and Adam’s order were complete, mine was not. The stick figure spoke: “I’ll bring your fries out shortly, I promise.”

I waited. I only ordered the two things, had already imagined eating them, and this lack of harmony threw everything off.

“You can go ahead and start on the sandwich.” Adam scolded.

“No thank you, I’ll wait.” I answered with a fake smile, pretending to not be furious.

“Are ‘promised fries’ better than regular ones?” Angel asked, somewhat mockingly (or as it’s better known, in her usual voice.).

“The anticipation adds mystery and texture.” I replied. “But it also raises expectations.”

I waited patiently for five or more minutes, I tried to make eye contact with stick figure, but she would occasionally turn sideways and completely disappear from view.

Finally she delivered them and noticed that I had not touched my sandwich.

“You’ve been waiting for the fries?” She apologized.

“Not a problem.” I comforted her, “I trusted you to keep your promise.” She wrinkled what little skin she had on her face.

Finally there was balance in my universe. I hosed down the meat on my sandwich with sweet and spicy sauce, closed it up and dug in. One bite sandwich, one point five fries, one bite sandwich, one point five fries, perfect balance.

“You could have eaten part of your sandwich without the fries.” Adam chided.

“I could listen to the left channel on a stereo now and wait until later to listen to the right channel as well, but that’s just a stupid way to do things isn’t it?”

He flinched and recoiled, having been snapped violently backward by my sonic boom of perfect logic.

Angel was cooing over her garlic toast, as she should have been. The garlic toast at Bandana’s is as perfect a toast as I have ever had. She let Adam and I have a plug, and we delighted in it. She remarked that it was in fact the absolute perfect combination of bread and butter.

I also sampled her chicken, simply divine, smoky and moist, not at all needing eleven herbs and spices. Adam wolfed down his turkey; I caught up with them pretty quick.

Stick Figure dropped by and tempted us with desserts, we crumpled. Angel and Adam asked for the sinful brownie/ice cream thing, I asked for the Dutch apple pie, with specific instructions. Stick asked if I wanted it with ice cream, Angel muttered ‘uh-oh’ or something like that.

“No, no ice cream at all. AND I would like my pie as close to room temperature as is humanly possible.” For some reason waitresses seldom fathom this perfectly reasonable demand and ask me to repeat it. Stick didn’t even seem phased.

“I’ll try, but it’s mostly frozen and the microwave is kind of uneven, but I’ll see what I can do.”

Wow, finally, a professional!

She delivered. There were a few cold spots but no hot ones. Stick had just made the short list of possible future wives. Not that I’d ever leave Angel, but I’ve always assumed Angel will eventually leave me and hey, I’m a planner. What would you do if you woke up one day unexpectedly single? Not me, I keep a running list of options.


I know this hasn’t been as reviewy as most of the others, but we’ve already talked about this place a couple of times. We like it, a lot! It is consistently, predictably good, which brings up something we discussed between bites, or afterward. From time to time in the coming weeks we’ll be going back to a few places to see how well they hold up compared to our initial impression, not the awful places, just the decent ones.

Parting thoughts; Mother’s Day.

When earlier in the week I asked Angel what she would like for Mother’s Day her only reply was: “A nap”. I both understood and respected that. As she was saying it she happened to be standing in the kitchen scratching otherwise unreachable parts of her back with my ornate, silver plated Anheuser-Busch letter opener, the very same one I use to open my many letters. Adam asked her why she was scratching her back with a letter opener and she responded in a very reasonable tone: “Because the butter knife isn’t long enough to reach.” I gave Adam a guy-to guy knowing look. We had come up with a perfect gift idea.

I know, I know, you’re all going “What about flowers or candy or jewelry?”

Nope, she doesn’t want those things. She doesn’t wear jewelry aside from the occasional earring; she’s allergic to some precious metals and mainly doesn’t like to fuss with bracelets and necklaces. Fresh flowers tend to fire up her many allergies, and candy, though she likes it, makes her feel guilty for having eaten it rather than a salad. Yeah guys, I know, I’ve got the perfect wife.

I usually do little more than a card and a nice dinner, but that’s really because she’s not MY mother, she’s my wife. I’ll do it uptown on ‘Wives Day” I think her kids own the responsibility on Mother’s day. Of course we’re both pretty low maintenance on the other faux-holidays, Valentines, Father’s Day, anniversaries, etc. as well.

I plan on napping on father’s day but only because it falls on a Sunday. I ask for / want for / expect nothing and am rarely disappointed. Having lived through /survived several serious bouts of fatherhood is achievement and reward enough and celebrating father’s day to me just reminds me of my many shortcomings in that role. Angel will offer up a meal, I’ll say shrimp and maybe a bag of cookies, but that’s just to assuage her guilt.

“So where do you find backscratchers?” Adam later asked me. My instinct was to answer “Wal-Mart” only because they seem to carry everything, aside from that I had no idea if backscratchers were even still sold.

It turns out yes indeed they are. A nice, long bamboo model is available at a $1 store near you. It is indeed the thought that counts.

And yes, I called my mother.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


The Drive to the Restaurant:
I don’t like highway BB, it’s very narrow, very curvy and there is virtually no shoulder, just deep rocky ditches and cliffs. This is why I don’t go to the towns on highway 30 very often; BB is pretty much the only way to get there without driving ten miles in the wrong direction. Angel was driving though and she’s much more the adventurer/daredevil/better driver. The big fat SUV was taking the turns, though I could see gravel falling into the gulches. It reminded me of that famous Bolivian road I saw on TV that is basically a paved goat path carved into the side of impossibly high cliffs.

Another thing about BB, if you get behind someone going slower than you, you’re screwed. The entire road is painted with double yellow lines, no passing, violators will likely die. This didn’t stop Angel though, she passed the trailered truck as if it were just another mailbox. Fortunately I was distracted by the trailer maker’s logo emblazoned on the back. “Master Dump” is what it said, and I just knew there was a joke there somewhere. I found a few:
“Where do you take worn out graduate degrees?”
“When you absolutely, positively have to go.”
“What’s in your wallet?”
I scolded her for breaking the law, yet again. She insisted that on double-lettered county roads that things like signs and painted lines were merely suggestions. I vowed to look that up when we got back home. As it turns out, she was lying.
Despite the overt criminal behavior and the dangers of the road we made it rather quickly to our destination.

The Place:
Dillon Plaza Dr.
High Ridge, MO

The town is called High Ridge because… seriously do I need to explain that? It’s on a ridge, okay? And it’s sort of high, not nosebleed high but it’s certainly higher than most of the surrounding land. High Ridge is one of many generic towns that line up on highway 30, Cedar Hill, Byrnes Mill, House Springs, High Ridge, St. Louis, I get them all confused.
The restaurant looks like every other Applebee’s, just off the road in a minor shopping complex. It wasn’t packed, so we trod right in and were immediately seated. Our booth was next to the bar but it wasn’t very busy. Large TV’s were strategically placed so that patrons could not avoid whatever sporting event was being shown. In this case it was the Kentucky Derby, for which I showed great pride, being as I am from Kentucky, the very same Kentucky that was hosting the race. Kentucky doesn’t have an NFL or Major League Baseball team, but we’re sure in the bigs when it comes to the sport of dwarfish men forcing horses to run around in a circle.
The place is sports themed, though aside from the race on TV, none of the memorabilia stapled to the walls were related to the king of sports, mostly just football, hockey and baseball crap. The music was contemporary, and a bit too loud.
We ordered our drinks, tea, tea and sweet tea. The menus were heavily laminated and about six pages thick. The fare was mostly steaks and burgers with a pasta page thrown in. Adam and Angel eat lunch there occasionally and already knew what they wanted, appetizers. Unfortunately they didn’t want the same one so we ordered two. Sweet and spicy chicken for the boy, spinach artichoke dip for Angel and I.
The Food:
The tea was actually pretty good, though Angel added about nineteen packets of the blue sweetener to hers to kill the actual tea taste of the tea.
Angel and Adam shared their entrees, a ‘2 for $20’ deal.
Adam took Chicken tenders, Angel the seven ounce sirloin, Adam sided fries Angel a baked potato.
I chose the Parmesan Shrimp Sirloin and a baked spud. The waiter asked about vegetables, mentioning that the default was zucchini, broccoli, and as I recall, horse manure, at least that’s what it sounded like. I gagged and shouted “No!”, the waiter stepped back a little. “What else is there?” I asked calmly. “Coleslaw, French fries, mashed potatoes. . .” Seriously, no corn or beans, so I opted for the coleslaw, not wanting a steak and potato with a side of even more potatoes.
The appetizers arrived, Adam dug into his sweet spicy chicken which smelled pretty good. I grabbed some hot chips and plowed into the ‘spin dip’ as the waiter called it, which would more accurately be abbreviated ‘spin-choke-dip’ but I guess that sounded a little too graphic. The dip and spinach were pretty awesome; I avoided the chunks of artichoke as a matter of principle. I found the chips to be too salty overall, Angel vehemently disagreed. This is perhaps the biggest difference between us after that whole boy/girl thing; she likes more salt than I do. On this topic we will rarely agree and is likely to be the actual cause of our divorce, should we ever bother to pursue one. But the dip was very good. Adam shared some of his chicken, I liked it quite well but had a suspicion that it would be too sweet after a while.
We watched the horse race, or at least one or more of the two dozen replays. One of the many brown horses won, the owners and the jockey seemed quite pleased, the horse didn’t seem to really care. Like car racing, people really just watch this sport to drink and see wrecks and carnage, but sadly no horses exploded this year. The tipsy, bonneted ladies and their fake cowboy partners in the crowd seemed not to mind. Mint Juleps are capable of making lots of otherwise terribly boring things seem interesting, that’s exactly how people can live in Kentucky for long periods of time.
The entrees arrived, all looked good. My steak was two ounces bigger than Angel’s and covered with melted cheese and shrimp (the bacon of the sea). The coleslaw was in its own ramekin and ice cold. The potato was average sized and covered with about a quart of butter and about as much sour cream. I located the nearest portable defibrillator and dug in.
I was quite happy with the meal for the first half, the shrimp/cheese was an awesome compliment to the rare-ish steak. The steak didn’t quite live up to it though, it was over the long haul, too salty. Outside of shrimp and maybe actual bacon, not much can be added to a steak to make it better. A pinch of salt maybe, but just a pinch, please.
Even though we disagreed about the saltiness of the chips earlier, Angel agreed that the steak was indeed too salty, a real shame indeed. Adam’s chicken tenders seemed to suit him just fine.
I didn’t quite finish my steak as I was starting to fell a bit like Lot’s wife, also because I had consumed about a pound of chips and spin-choke-dip.

The service was lackluster at best. The entire staff seemed to lack energy and inspiration. As our tea glasses emptied (almost completely), fresh tea was brought in new glasses without clearing away the old. The appetizer trays stayed on the table throughout the main course. The waiter did not engage us in conversation or even salutations, the guys at my quickie oil change establishment are more personable. He wasn’t negative, just barely there.
Aside from the steaks, the food was quite good, the place was clean and well staffed, the music was too loud. The restroom was half broken, but clean as well.(details spared)
The meal including appetizers came in at just under fifty four dollars. We deliberately shorted them on the tip, adding a mere two dollars.
It’s a tough nut having to spin ‘except for the main course the food was good’ into a positive review, so I won’t bother. They blew it with the steak and the service was only mediocre. How can I possibly give it a good score or recommend it to anyone? I suppose if instead of ‘Applebee’s’ they called it ‘Salty’s’ I would not have as much room to complain.

* Brush with fame!
Although I am from Kentucky, my family lived in a part of the state that is about as far removed from the white fenced horse farms and pristine stables as one can be and still be in the same state. I did participate in some of the festivities once though. I think it was either my freshman or sophomore year in high school. I was in the band as was my lovely, deceitful, lying, blabbermouth, and tattletale sister. I pretended to play bass trombone and she played something that she could hit with a stick, a portable xylophone kind of device. The band was invited to march in one of the foreplay parades held a few days prior to the race. We had to pause at one intersection as there was some sort of delay halfway through the parade route. We were just standing there waiting, in formation, looking around and lo and behold there on the corner stood none other than the real and original Colonel Harlan Sanders. Really! He was just standing there smiling and waving, looking exactly like he did on TV and on the bucket. Outside of shaking hands with the tiny, former Secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger, this was my only ever real brush with fame.