Monday, February 23, 2015

Home Subs

Klondike Rd.
Hillsboro, Mo.

Ha! Fooled you!
This is not a restaurant. It's our home. We made sammiches.
 A couple of things that we knew about ahead of time kept us on the compound, warm and cozy. It was my turn in the on-call barrel again and there was an ice storm rolling through. Angel properly stocked the pantry for the almost certain hunkering down.
I noticed the groceries. Interesting stuff. Three kinds of special bread. Sub rolls, soft pretzel bread and some square buns.
Looking in the fridge I saw deli sliced meats, three or four kinds, and various flavors of deli cheese slices.
Yeah boy, sandwiches!
The Place:
A modern but modest looking house nestled into a five acre spread a few miles outside of Hillsboro. We moved in nearly nine years ago, we've lived here longer than anywhere else. The house sits three hundred or more feet from the road and is surrounded by a 89 acre fence-less wooded plot of land that's unoccupied and has been on the market since before we moved here. Our parcel was carved out of that land, sold separately to enable the owner, who inherited the property, to get at least some money out of it. 
Across the driveway from the house is a 30x60 foot steel outbuilding that we've converted into a training center for dogs. We've built out several fenced areas, large and small, to accommodate the many dogs that come and go.
We board and train dogs. By we, I mean Angel.
During the week we both work and don't even dine together. By the time I get home her and Adam have already had dinner, she often makes enough for me too, but isn't required to. I'm perfectly capable of cooking for myself with whatever we have on hand.
This is one of the reasons we started doing the restaurant per week thing. To take some time out and spend time together.
The 300+ foot driveway is the reason ice is a bigger problem for us than most people. Twice I've slid off of it and into the yard, missing the mighty oaks by mere inches.
But it's home.
The Food:
Knowing ahead of time of the plan, I thought about my sandwich and sides for a couple of days. 
She bought a bag of potatoes too. Options.  We don't keep potatoes in the house very often. Adam wanted to make fries, we wanted potato salad.
I peeled and cubed the potatoes, boiled up a pot of water and microwaved the potatoes for five minutes to reduce the boiling time.
Angel finished them up, I had some work stuff to do.We pulled out everything sandwich-able and laid it out on the kitchen island. At several points of the prep stage we were all three in the small but open kitchen preparing something. I was thin slicing some hot house tomatoes and shredding some lettuce, Adam  was expertly twice-frying his hand cut potatoes, he peeled and sliced his own as well. He watches food shows too.
I also sliced some of the sub rolls and square buns, fired up the oven to 400, slathered just a little butter on the open faces and toasted.
Once the potatoes were done we took turns building dream sandwiches
I took one of the toasted sub rolls, pushed in the crunchy, buttery faces (they hold on better to stuff if you do this.)
On the bottom, lettuce and tomatoes. On the top, smoked turkey, roast beef and ham, topped with provolone and Swiss cheese and a thin bacon slice. I didn't use mayo, choosing instead to squeeze a little herb-vinegar-oil on it all.
A few fries, a pile of potato salad, and freshly brewed tea, done!
Angel and Adam weren't so particular about presentation. They used the same ingredients though, except Adam doesn't like tomatoes.
Angel also picked a sub roll. She took more fries than me and poured ketchup over them. She's one of those people. I'm a dipper.
She also slathered her meat in mayonnaise. I like mayonnaise too, but thought the potato salad would have enough for one meal.
Adam picked a square bun, they had toasted up beautifully. He doubled up on the bacon as well. He's a chip off the old heart attack when it comes to bacon.
His fries were exceptional. Better than any fast food joint, he made small, manageable batches, took them out before they were too dark, then, once he'd done that he repeated the process with the already cooked ones to crisp them up. He nailed the process. My sandwich was, of course, perfect. Fresh deli-sliced meats, fresh cheese, about as good a tomato as you can find in February. Lightly sauced, crunchy, buttery bread. Mmmmm.
This was nice-restaurant quality stuff. We know what we're doing. The potato salad was slightly relish-sweet, the extra we paid for the sandwich ingredients made this meal just really, really good.
As has been my nature lately though, I couldn't finish my sandwich. The other half sits in the fridge as I type. Lunch on Sunday maybe?
With home-made meals like this, I can't say why we go out so often. We're certainly capable of making restaurant quality meals ourselves.
Highly recommended!

Sunday, February 15, 2015


12961 State Route 21
DeSoto, Mo.

I know, I know you're jealous, Why didn't I think of this? Jealous.
Valentine's day presents an eating out challenge. After Mother's Day, VD is about the biggest day to go out for dinner. We learned this a while back. Just about every decent place is packed with lovers, apologists and dog house denizens. So what does one do when one doesn't participate in Valentine's Day silliness?
Take home. It was Angel's idea, I kid you not.
We do this quite often on Christmas as well. No mess, no dishes, no fuss, enough food for a meal or two and maybe a late night snack.
The Food:
A bucket of 12 please.
Sides? Oh yeah.
Mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, slaw and what the heck, a dozen chocolate chip cookies.
Sometimes we try to get the roasted chicken. They don't always have much made. I prefer the roasted because it is not heavily breaded and they make it taste pretty darn good.
No such luck this trip. Oh well, it's a faux-holiday, celebrate.
Original recipe though, not extra crispy.
Angel made up the list, Adam made the drive. I made tea.
He was back in no time. Mmmm, biscuits.
The chicken was pretty fresh and moist, the sides were very, very good. Most of them anyhow.
KFC makes about the best mac and cheese, slaw and biscuits anywhere. The mashed potatoes, I'm less impressed with. I very much prefer a lumpy mashed potato. KFC overworks theirs. Too pasty, too thin in texture. The brown gravy, I can take or leave.
The biscuits are reheat-ready. Breakfast with a sausage patty and a slice of all-American cheese.
The Mac and cheese is drool-worthy. Thick, very thick and cheesy. They're not using that powdered cheese.
We've never been able to duplicate the slaw. We've tried, but it always comes up short. I've even driven to KFC just to get slaw to accompany something we're making at home.
A little bit vinegar, a little bit sweet, the cabbage and carrots are very fresh and crisp.
And then there's the cookies.
Angel loves these things, I rarely have them, being newly sweet-averse. KFC usually gives away a couple with a bucket, Angel ordered a dozen.
They're not huge and not complicated. After dinner I made some coffee, a weekend sin I allow myself, and grabbed a couple of them.
They were pretty good. I make better myself, but I rarely go to the bother, it's messy and requires us to have things in the pantry that we wouldn't have much other use for. Bagged CC cookies are usually dry and hard. KFC's, like my own, are soft and moist. Very good with an evening cup o' Joe.

A History Lesson:
It's impossible to talk much about KFC without bringing up the spork.
KFC did not invent the handy little utensil. Far from it. There are on file, similar designs of a combination spoon/fork also known as a 'foon', going
back as far as 1874. Various patents and trademark designs have been filed since then.
Of course the ubiquitous fork itself is a rather recent addition to dining. There were a few, two-pronged utensils before the 1600's, but they were used primarily to hold meat while carving or to pick up dainty orbs from high end dinner plates.  They did not appear as a regular part of a table setting until the mid seventeenth century.
Frankly, the spork is a more clever tool, a multi-tasker. It is by design, stronger than a fork and more precise than a spoon.
Most fast food places don't bother. Their stuff is hand-held. But KFC, which offers more realistic food, has mashed potatoes, beans, slaw, mac and cheese, hardly finger food. Rather than offer spoons and forks, they offer the cheaper, more utilitarian spork.
There are steel, bronze and silver sporks available. . . I'm thinking of getting some.
I don't need to say much. We like KFC. They get almost everything right, quickly and with pretty good quality. They don't even offer French fries, so they are only 'fast' food in the sense that they prepare in bulk and serve up quickly. The price is higher than a McD's crapburger and fries meal, but you're certainly getting better quality and greater variety. It reheats nicely and makes everyone in the family happy. The perfect 'It's a holiday and I don't feel like spending the day cooking and cleaning up'  feast.

KFC on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 9, 2015

Imo's Pizza

Before we get started, a little update on last week's post for Cafe Arnold/Local House.
We were searching for/craving fish tacos. The newly sold/bought place didn't have them. Angel is nothing if not tenacious, she still wanted a fish taco.
This Saturday morning I drove to Hardee's to try their new Grilled Cheese Breakfast Sandwich. In the drive through I noticed that they had fish tacos on the menu. I mentioned this to my lovely wife when I got home.
We'd already decided about the evening meal, but she didn't let a little thing like that distract her. So as she was picking up the pizza, she detoured through the drive through at Hardee's and picked up an order of four.
Before we started wolfing down pizza, we each had a Taco. I was pleasantly impressed. For a fast food offering, these tasted rather fresh and dare I say, light. The tortilla was soft and pliable, the lettuce, crisp and the fish, though battered and fried, was not at all greasy. There was a hint of spicy hotness in the tiny dribble of sauce, but it was only in one bite. There was more tortilla than necessary, so like with pizza crust, I ate out the center and tossed the rest away. We both agreed that these tasted okay, maybe a bit too thickly breaded, and the assembly seemed rushed. Not as good as those we had at the now defunct Cafe Arnold, not as good as Angel remembered the Hardee's previous version, but doable. There will be more.

Imo's Pizza
#1 Jefferson Square
DeSoto, Mo.
Web Site

There is an Imo's in Hillsboro. I knew that. In the eight and a half years we've lived here and the five years we've been reviewing eateries, I've never had a pizza from that place. That was deliberate.
Many years ago, back when we lived in/around Springfield Mo. I was a member of a political third party, ran for state representative twice and served as Chairman of the Greene County Libertarian Party for a year. We were not a large group and certainly not formal or wealthy, so we met at the pizzeria owned by the family of one of our members, an Imo's Pizza.
Usually by the time I got to the meeting someone else had already ordered a pie. I nibbled at it, but not
much. I didn't care for that trading card thin crust. For being so thin, you'd think it would be crunchy, it wasn't, it was kind of tough, like cardboard. I didn't much care for the cheese and sauce combination either. Too sweet. This was my first brush with what I now know to be St. Louis style pizza.
So when Angel suggested this, I was gobsmacked.
"They have a thicker crust option."
I thought about that. No, I didn't know they had a thicker crust option. I thought further. What other options were I not aware of? It occurred to me that I'd never actually ordered an Imo's pizza. Someone else always did. Sure, why not, hadn't had pizza in a while.
The Place:
Somewhere in DeSoto, I'm not sure exactly, because I didn't go. They offer dining in, but I like pizza at home, in my recliner, with good tea. I made the tea myself. Angel logged in to the Imo's web site and tapped in an order, one for us, one for Adam. We simply do not like the same toppings. He did go for the thicker crust as well though.
Angel made the drive, she wanted to swing by a farm supply store, dog stuff, and Hardees anyhow, for the aforementioned fish tacos. Sure, I'll make some tea and work on my other blog.
I had my headphones on, listening to Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, because, deep down, I really like that sort of thing, even though I risk sounding snobbish whenever I mention it.
If you aren't from Missouri, you've probably never heard of Imo's but around here they are an institution. St. Louis has had a vibrant Italian population since Columbus first invented America in 1776 and decimated the indigenous population with biological warfare. Or something, I'm not feeling very research-y today. Anyway a lot of Italian families settled in St. Louis and it seems, even today, that every one of those families had/has a restaurant. There are some really, really good Italian joints around. Ed and Margie Imo were living in St. Louis in 1964 and thought it would be really neat if someone would bring a pizza to them rather than trekking out past midnight on Friday nights to get a meat-laden pizza. (A Catholic, no meat on Friday, thing.)
Though pizza made its way to popularity in the U.S. after WWII, nearly all of it was dine in or takeout. Pizza delivery as a regular option didn't start up until around 1961, as best as anyone knows, starting with DomiNick's (Later Domino's) in Michigan. (They originally delivered in a VW Beetle). Okay, I am feeling a little research-y.
So Ed and Margie opened up a place of their own, near their home on 'The Hill' and started delivering pies around the city in 1964. The idea caught on and they started expanding around the Gateway City soon after the iconic Gateway Arch was erected. To date there are ninety locations, mostly in metro St. Louis, with several sprinkled around the Show-Me State including Kansas City and Springfield.
The Food:
Angel had ordered two pies, for us a 'Deluxe' with sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, bacon, and their signature Provel cheese.
Adam's was an 'All-Meat' with sausage, Canadian bacon, pepperoni and bacon.
They also picked up an order of boneless wings with a Ranch dipping sauce. I don't know what the deal s
with Ranch dressing. I've been to a ranch, a real ranch. I don't want anything that might taste like those places smell. What is wrong with you people?
Besides, I don't like wings the way they are made in sports bars and pizzerias. Too spicy.
After we tried the fish tacos, we popped open the boxes. Adam took several 'wings'. Hell, they didn't look a thing like wings. They were bright orange balls. Angel liked them, they agreed they were pretty good. Angel kept trying to push them on me, or maybe she just liked saying "Dennis, wouldn't you love to taste some spicy balls? They're pretty good!" I had all sorts of witty replies prepared but I can't share them here since this is an open minded and family-friendly review.
They agreed that though they were quite good, they weren't worth the $8.95 price. Yeah, that's a picture of nine dollars worth of chicken. Imo's is quite proud of their sticky, spicy balls.
The pizzas did look more 'normal.' Not as thick as Pizza Hut's hand-tossed, but certainly better than the Imo's thin crust. The toppings were spread out and plentiful. The bacon worried me, it was full slices. The pizzas were cut into squares, which leaves tiny orphans on a round pizza. It's a St. Louis thing.
My worries abut the bacon acting as a rip cord pulling off most of the toppings with it, were unfounded. The bacon was sliced so thin that it broke easily with every bite. For that thinness though, the bacon taste didn't really stand out. The sausage was nice and spicy, it balanced out the sweetness of the sauce and cheese.
Adam's was indeed, all meat and lots of it. Big slices of it. It looked pretty good, but I like a little veg on my pizza.
I was happier with the thicker crust, though it seemed to be a little tougher than Pizza Hut's. Later, when I reheated some, just enough to make it warm, the crust toughened up even more. By morning it was worse, even Rudy had some trouble chewing it. Not that I feed pizza crust to dogs, that would be wrong.
We discussed it with open minds, each one of us wanted to say something good about it. Adam said that St. Louis style just wasn't his thing. I was happy that it was better than I had expected. None of us rated it higher than Pizza Hut.
Kind of a pricey meal, those precious non-wings set us back nine bucks on their own. The whole bill came to forty six dollars and change. It only barely covered two meals apiece though, the pies weren't that big.
It was okay, not nearly as bad as I'd expected, but unfortunately that's about all I can say. As long as there are other options, I can't come up with a reason to prefer Imo's to anything else.
At least we tried.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Hardee's Grilled Cheese Breakfast Sandwich

I know, I've said it a Brazilian times, I'm going to stop being disappointed by fast food.
Well, sometimes when you get up early on a Saturday morning and have a hollow tummy and a gummy taste in your mouth, a pre-made breakfast sandwich sounds pretty good.
Angel had just gotten up herself, so I caught her before her usual breakfast, share-a-yogurt-with-Rudy.
"I'm going to Hardee's, would you like something?"
Silly question. She has the yogurt to make her feel better about herself. She wants a breakfast sandwich as badly as I do.
At first she defaulted to the breakfast burrito. Then she changed her mind when she remembered the sign we pass by several tines a week.
"Grilled cheese!"
"Exactly!" I replied.
Hardee's is currently the closest eatery to our house, about five miles away, anchoring Hillsboro's business district. It dominates that part of town, a popular landmark, coffee house, meeting place and an outstanding neutral spot for weekend kid swapping, for separated families. Angel's even done dog swaps there. It's impossible to miss, very much unlike our secluded homestead in the woods.
They've been advertising a grilled cheese breakfast sandwich for a few weeks now. Impossible to completely ignore.
I headed directly to the drive through as I was not exactly fit to make a public appearance. Loose, faded tee shirt, baggy jeans, my favorite crocs and the old and dog hair laden hoody jacket. It's what I wear to be comfy around the house. Also, I hadn't showered yet.
I don't usually like drive-throughs. The speaker system is awful, one must always repeat everything a half dozen times, and very often they get your order wrong. But like I said, I wasn't exactly ready for a grand entrance.
"Would you like to start with one of our grilled cheese sandwiches?" The distorted, squeaky, invisible mind reader shouted through the bullhorn quality sound system.
"Why yes, yes I would!" I screamed.
"Are you still there?" The box inquired.
"May I take your order?"
"Oh, you need more information don't you."
"Okay, I'd like two grilled cheese sandwiches, two tots and a medium coffee. please."
She misread the order back, I re-shouted it.
"Bacon, ham or sausage?" Came the rebuttal.
"Hmmm. sausage I think."
"Did you say sausage?"
"Why yes, that's exactly what I said."
"Your order comes to nine beluga whales and prescient sensibilities." That's what it sounded like anyhow.
I drove up to the window which, as it is 95% of the time in Hillsboro, occupied by a pickup truck.
The wait wasn't long.
A wispy young lady slid open the window and handed me my coffee. Our hands overlapped for a second, a fleeting moment of human to human connection. I was very worried that she, as have many others in the past, might fall instantly in love with me. The moment passed though, I think it was when she looked inside the car, which as on any Saturday, looked like an overturned dumpster. During the week I spend more than entire working day's worth of hours in my little VW, it gets  kind of cluttered and trashy by the weekend.
I swiped what I hoped was the right card through the exterior card eater. ($9.56) It blinked and dinged. She seemed to be satisfied and handed me a warm, aromatic bag. I didn't do the smart thing, which would have been to open it to see how badly they mangled the complex order.
I drove all the way home without succumbing to the temptation to nibble on tots. it was hard, but I'm a real man, able to hold my desires and drives in check.
At home I heard Angel in the shower but I did not wait for her. Poor planning on her part might render her meal cold, not mine. I was confounded and confused when I opened the bag and saw they'd filled the order perfectly.
The bread did look grilled and the cheese was definitely melty. One of the first things many, many dudes learn to cook is grilled cheese. Especially if there are kids in the house.
Though the bread did look grilled, it did so just barely, kind of like half-done toast. A good grilled cheese sammich is best cooked just up to the second it is ready to burst into flames.
The sausage patty extended to the edges for the most part. The bread was square-ish, the patty round. This left dry spots of bread and I do mean dry.
Not that the middle, meaty part was that much better. Very cheesy, but the sausage brought hardly any flavor to the offering. I like a good sage-y sausage. This was more like salty ground pork. the cheese, advertised to be American/Swiss, was more 'Velveetan' in taste. Not that there's anything wrong with Velveeta, but it is a pretty strong flavor. Overall, I was overwhelmed with the blandness of the under-buttered bread and the flatness of the sausage.
Angel, who was a little late to the party, disagreed. She said the sausage brought a nice note of spiciness to the almost overwhelming cheesiness. She agreed though that the bread was way under-cooked, no crunch.
The tots were, well they were tots. Too greasy, too salty, just like we expect and weirdly crave on
rare occasion. Rudy loved the tots Angel shared with him. He seemed to like it as much as the usual yogurt.
In conclusion, I can't say I was disappointed. My expectations were very, very low to begin with. They lived up to those expectations precisely.
Nice try, excellent idea, but fire your chef. You're doing it wrong. Not worth a recommendation.

Hardee's on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 2, 2015

Local House Restaurant and Bar

3946 Jeffco Blvd.
Arnold, Mo.
On the Internet
On Facebook

We were discussing the options this week, the subject of fish tacos came up. I was game. Angel mentioned a place we went to a year ago, Cafe Arnold, that she thought made them better than most other places. I loaded up the review we did at the time and saw that the place had at that time, just changed ownership and that we liked it really well.
I also loaded up their online menu and saw that it looked the same. Decision, made.
So for the rest of the week, I decided I would order the fish tacos, something I've never, ever done before. Not that I don't like them, I do like a good one, they just aren't on my pop-up list of cravings.
So we went.
Uh oh.

The sign on the strip mall location had been replaced with a banner. "Now Open! The Local House". It said. We stood and stared at the banner for a few moments, not sure what to do. We saw people coming and going, so we finally decided to give it a  whirl.

The Place:
Pretty much the same as a year ago under the previous name. Nicely decorated, seven TV's on the dining area's walls all tuned to sports, muted. There was overhead music "I've Got Sunshine", "My Girl", "You Really Got a Hold On Me", etc. Back twenty or thirty years ago we called those songs 'Oldies'. I'm not sure what they are called now. I do know it wasn't country, or opera, two song genre's that tempt me to spray paint explicit obscenities on clean walls, so it was fine.  There was a separate bar area where there were even more muted, sports-infested flat screens. The small bar crowd was not too loud or rowdy, so we walked right past it.
We were led to a booth that we remembered as being just one or two booths away from the last time we
were there.
I usually do advance research on a place before we visit. This time I had nothing. So I broke my tradition and actually asked the young lady that was seating us about the apparent change.
Maddie concurred that the place had changed hands again about a month back. It was a quick-turn from the previous owner to the new one, a couple of weeks, which is why it looked exactly the same as before. It was a turn-key deal. New name, new management, new menu and new staff. No redecorating or remodeling.
The Food:
The menu had changed completely. One thing that was noticeably missing was. . .  You guessed it, there were no fish tacos listed, anywhere.
There were lots of alternative options though. . . perhaps too many (more on that later).
Pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, steaks, a LOT of options.
It took me a while to refocus, I'd had fish taco on the brain for several days and was having trouble resetting that.
I didn't want pizza, or a fat burger. . . there, steak, can't go wrong with a steak. Fortunately they had an 8oz. option, a 'hand cut sirloin'. I like steak, but I don't ever want an entire side of beef. Especially if there is a salad and at least one starchy side.
I shouldn't have to explain this to you again, my tummy capacity has shrunk over the last couple of years. I haven't been able to actually finish a typical fat burger or pasta plate since.
Adam and Angel seemed to have decided as well, but like me, Angel would occasionally pick up the menu again and give it another go-over.
Maddie arrived with our drinks, tea, tea and Pepsi. The tea looked clear and fresh. A good start.
Angel and Adam had sort of decided on an appetizer, wings, but had to ask Maddie what a 'Trashed Butter Garlic' sauce was. Satisfied with the detailed explanation, they chose ten of those.
I wasn't too concerned myself, I don't like sports bar wings, anybody's. I don't want to have to pull up the Scoville scale to determine whether the things are going to burn through my innards or not.
Maddie came back quickly with the complimentary bread basket and pointed out the house made honey butter. We gave her our main course orders.
Me: 8oz. 'Hand Cut Sirloin', mashed potatoes and a house salad with the house vinaigrette.
Angel: Tutto Mare (seafood pasta, 'from the sea') with no salad, no side.
Adam: Spicy Chicken Sandwich and fries.
We slathered the creamy honey butter onto the small slices of bread and each agreed that there was no
discernible honey taste or texture. It was good, it just lacked that sweet note the item's name would indicate.
The wings came pretty soon. To be fair and objective, I tried a small pull from one of Angel's wings.
Then an amazing thing happened. I grabbed a small plate and slapped a full wing onto it. It was awesome!
Yeah, I know. But allow me to explain. These were not 'hot wings'. These were just very crispy, very tender and juicy wings soaked in a garlic butter sauce. Completely great! How they achieved and maintained that crispiness and depth of flavor, I have no idea.
I could stop right here and endorse this place just based on those wings alone. A mug of beer, a pile of those wings, I might even endure a sports competition on TV over something like that. (Not really)
Those wings disappeared.
My salad came soon after that.
A pretty salad, huge cucumber slices, large tomato chunks and thickly chopped lettuce with four or five croutons and a fistful of grated white (Provel) cheese.
Those among you that have followed this review site for a while know I have a couple of problems with that description. You know I don't like fussing with/cutting up salad ingredients. Sure, big thick toppings make a salad pretty, but salad bowls are not chopping blocks and the only blunt instrument available before the steak arrives is a butter knife that has the cutting capacity of those plastic kindergarten scissors. There will be spillage.
Not an instant black mark, more of a petty personal preference thing.
 My pimp* took me to a restaurant a couple of weeks back that offered a 'chopped' salad. Everything in it was chopped to the size of coleslaw. Loved it! When I make salads myself I make it somewhere in between, precisely so I don't have to fuss with it at the table.
The house vinaigrette was fine, a basic oil and vinegar dressing, nothing fancy or special.
Maddie came by a few times, each time engaging in conversation. I liked her. She was smart, friendly, and she certainly knew her menu.
Finally the entrees arrived with a few surprises, mostly in the portion size department.
My steak looked great, beautifully seared. The mashed potatoes were cooked dirty style, which I like, but there was a lot of them. Adam looked at the bowl and said that it looked like a serving for the entire family. Well, it could be worse, it could be too small. They tasted great though. I've had problems with a lot of places over-salting mashed potatoes. Not here though, the taste and texture of these were perfect. They'd offered gravy, which I'd refused. Angel, I'm sure, was thinking that turning down gravy was tantamount to high blasphemy.
The steak tasted great. I have to say though, it was tougher than I'd expected. Not shoe leather tough, just not top quality cut tender. I've had tougher steak, heck, I've cooked tougher steaks, but still, I have to mention it.
Angel's pasta dish was enormous. We've come to expect this. We're not sure why this occurs, pasta is very,
very filling. It's basically all starch so it bloats a person quickly. When we make pasta at home we use it sparingly. Pasta all tastes exactly the same, which isn't a lot, until you put sauce on it. The sauce and the sauce's ingredients are what make a satisfying dish. Too much pasta, like too much bread on a sandwich, actually detracts from the experience. According to Angel, the pasta was very dense as well. She really appreciated the chopped asparagus bits though. Some of the seafood nuggets, though quite tasty and plentiful, were chopped fine and hard to extract individually.
Adam's sandwich was obviously enormous. The chicken slab was bigger than the bun and most small animals we've maintained over the years. The taste, he pointed out, was "quite good", just too big, and the fries. . .too many to finish.
Hmmm, Spotting a trend here?
I learned that the new managers/owners came form Joey B's in St. Louis. That's certainly not a rookie enterprise. Joey B's is an acclaimed and well known chain of restaurants in metro St. Louis. To have come up through there is a pretty good culinary pedigree.
Maddie was absolutely great, she came up from a popular St. Louis food truck herself, (The Cheese Shack) having started with them at the age of thirteen. She knew her stuff, answered all questions, was engaging and completely knowledgeable. She kept us refilled and the courses were delivered in perfect timing. She even tried to sell us on dessert, not knowing us well enough to know we don't usually leave room for dessert. She recommended the new 'Killer Bread Pudding'. Three  words I've never thought of putting together in the same sentence. We declined politely.
As for the food, well, the wings were simply outstanding. Everything else was quite tasty. We were not disappointed at all with the flavors.
The price was spot on for an appetizer and three big entrees, $65, about what you'd pay at a franchise sports bar.
Adam nailed it, portion proportion.
The mashed potatoes were the worst offender. I've never seen any single individual eat that much mashed potatoes in a single day. The amount of pasta on Angel's plate was enough to feed a small village in Asia or Italy or wherever pasta comes from. Adam's chicken slab was enormous. None of us finished our meals. In other words, we paid for a lot of food we didn't actually eat.
As we were packing up, Maddie asked about take-home boxes. Angel and Adam said sure, then she looked at me and asked if I wanted a box for the mashed potatoes. . . . uh, no.
How much food goes out in take-out boxes?
I'll say it again, the food tasted just fine, they've got the recipes pretty much nailed.
A lot of recipes. A whole lot of recipes.
I was a little concerned about the sheer amount of diverse offerings. I'm no restaurateur, but I do watch a bunch of them on TV. I know that a place that has a big and wildly diverse menu selection often has a problem with inventory. Ingredients, if they are any good, have a very short shelf life. If you are going to offer pizza, burgers, sandwiches, seafood, pasta and other entrees, you have to have all the ingredients on hand, all day, every day. That's a big upfront cost. Some of it, if not most of it will get frozen or tossed. Freezing is a texture killer. Almost every thing, once frozen will even taste different when served. It doesn't take academy trained taste buds to discriminate between fresh anything and the frozen version.
I'm not saying that Local House has this problem, but it is a concern since so many other places with similar menu diversity have gone under either from the higher than average upfront food costs, or the quality degradation from the kitchen being stretched too thin.  I didn't really notice any problems like that this visit, so they may have really, really good controls in place. Time will tell.
And we will be back. They did just open a month or so ago, so as always with a new place, my remarks and rebukes are annotated with an asterisk. They're new, but we have a list of things to check on when we do go back.
You've got to try those wings, even if they don't have fish tacos.
Oh yeah, as also is my custom, I'll ask: Local House, Can you please, please have at least one of those 15 TV's tuned to another channel?

*Pimp. That's what we contractors affectionately call our consulting company representatives, also lovingly referred to as headhunters. They pitch our 'talents' to prospective clients and pocket a sizable fee up front. It's not meant disparagingly.