Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Zebb's (Greece) Review

Zebb's, a regional chain restaurant known for their "toppings bar," opened a Greece location a few months ago.  The first time Fancy and I went there we had a bad experience.  The food was okay and the service was passable, but that's not the experience I'm looking for.  However, they were newly opened, so we decided to give them another try before I reviewed the place.

That second chance seemed doomed to repeat the first when we first arrived and asked our waitress which beers they had on tap.  She responded, exasperatedly that they have a lot of beers on tap.  Hmm...that wasn't what I asked.  However, Fancy asked for the Scotch Ale, which they had.  Luckily the experience quickly improved.

Fancy and I had a strange order.  We each wanted a french onion soup and to split a chicken sandwich.  I asked for a second plate and a knife when I ordered, telling the waitress our plan.  Now, all restaurants handle this sort of thing differently, but I have never had one be as accommodating as Zebb's.

They gave us two separate baskets with the side of sauce I ordered in each, a half sandwich, and a full order of fries.  For free.  This was a great example of going above and beyond to (unexpectedly) make a customer happy.  Not only did they make that effort, but the food was delicious, and the french onion soup was some of the best we've had.  This is a compliment of the highest order from Fancy.

The fries were the crispy variety that so many restaurants prefer as of late, and the chicken sandwich was very juicy.  The toppings bar had all of the things you might expect such as lettuce, tomato, and onion, plus two kinds of pickles and a few other items.  Our waitress even turned out to be very pleasant, so I chalk up our earlier interaction to a newer waitress who didn't actually know which beers were available.  This okapi gives Zebb's Greece a 5!  Oh, and if you go there get the cookies.  They're awesome, I just forgot to take pics.

Zebb's Deluxe Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Gulu-Gulu Cafe: Salem, Massachusetts

While in Salem, we asked a local where the good lunch food was, and she directed us to Gulu-Gulu Cafe.  The place had a cozy, hip feel to it, and the staff was friendly while not being afraid to joke around a bit.

Fancy and I each ordered the Cheese and Meat Coalition which allows you to choose a combination of three items from their extensive meat and cheese list for $11.  I had the capicola, salami, and Grafton Cheddar.  It was fantastic!  It came served on a bed of leafy greens with a bowl of bread.

Both Fancy and I were served up our own bowl of bread, which we used to make tiny sandwiches.  I goddamn love tiny sandwiches.  

Fancy went the two cheese, one meat route, because she loves cheese more than anything in the whole world.  Seriously.  So, she had the Red Dragon Ale & Mustard Cheddar, Smoked Grafton Cheddar, and prosciutto.  

Spider Lady had one of the turkey paninis, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  There was a nice balance of meat, cheese, and toppings.  These run between $8-$8.50, so the price is pretty damn good.

Mr. Fix-It went for the Tuscany Panini, which came with a generous serving of capicola as you can tell from the picture.  Both came with a salad and chips.  

This handsome puppy is the mascot, and as you know this okapi goddamn loves dogs.  The pint glass is purchasable with for $3 if you buy a beer, so of course we got one.  This place has a huge beer selection, so if you likes draft beer, this is the place for you.  The actual beverage pictured above is Mr. Fix-It's fruit smoothie.  It's dairy free, and he loved it so much he ordered two.

I had the hot chocolate, because it was a bit rainy outside, and I was feeling damp.  It was delicious, and coupled extremely well with my Meat and Cheese Coalition.  If you're ever in New England and decide to check out Salem, make sure to stop at this place.  This okapi gives it a full 5 stars for fantastic food, great ambiance, and an awesome waitstaff.  

Gulu Gulu Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mackworth Island, Maine: Fairy Village

The village is the second major point of interest on the island (after the pet cemetery, of course).  I have to admit prior to this I never really saw a fairy house, but it seems like most other people know about them.  If you want to know a little more or figure out how to make one, check out this link.

One of the people I work with said if she saw this particular fairy house in the woods somewhere she would think there was cult activity afoot.  Dang, can't a fairy have a little stonehenge ambiance??

Since fairy houses are made out of natural materials it was interesting to see the creative uses of island materials.  Here, a bit of seaweed was incorporated.

Some folks stuck to strictly forest materials to create small cabins for the woodland loving fairies.

Others went for an ocean cottage feel.  This even has a sand dollar, which we saw very few of in our New England travels.

Still others blended both and went for a tepee-like architecture.  

A note was posted by the island park department to remind folks not to build giant, dangerous fairy homes.  Makes me wonder what kind of structure brought on this note...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mackworth Island, Maine: Pet Cemetery

One of the things you should definitely see if you ever go to the Portland area of Maine is Mackworth Island.  This place contains roughly 1 mile of hiking trail around the island with great water views, Baxter School for the Deaf, and a delightful fairy village (which will be covered in the next post!!).

However, what people really go to Mackworth Island for is the pet cemetery that inspired Stephen King's book.  The cemetery itself is not super creepy unless you consider the following: 1) it has been manicured neatly by the parks department as to avoid people wandering through the forest aimlessly, 2) you are on an island with a decent walk to civilization, and 3) the island's dark history.  

When we crossed the causeway onto the island we came upon a small gate house with an old New England gentleman sitting inside.  He told us (in a voice that sounded EXACTLY like the old man from the movie Pet Cemetery) that we would have each need to pay 3 dollahs into a green slot furthah up.  He also gave us a guide book we had to return before leaving the island.  The payment was on the honor system.

First, I'd like to note it is awesomely cool that this guy, Baxter, gave away his island with the stipulation that his pets' graves not be disturbed.

The place is surrounded by a round rock wall and has a wooden gate.  This is the only horse buried there.

It was kind of the state to keep up this cemetery so well.  There was a large storm at some point, but the cemetery was restored.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lobster Shack Ogunquit, Me.

This week Fancy, Mr. Fix-it, Spider Lady, and I are in Maine.  Therefore, we will have several restaurant reviews from New England.  Woohoo clams!  This place, The Lobster Shack, is in Perkin's Cove, Maine near Ogunquit.  It's on the beach and very pretty.

However, being in such a picturesque area, the prices are a bit high.  Those clams up there are big, long neck clams.  We enjoyed them, but we prefer the littleneck variety.  The bellies in large neck clams have an odd texture like that of a coughed up phlegm ball.  This may be difficult to overcome for some...

Next up we had the clam chowder.  It was like milk with clams in it.  There was little to no flavor, but a lot of clams, so a lot of you may dig this type of thing.

Then we got the "Maine thing," lobster rolls!  The top one up there has a quarter pound of lobster with mayo for $15.  Again, it just didn't have much taste at all.  Yeah, it was lobster and lobster alone is good.  But, the lobster roll was nothing to write home about.  Mr. Fix-it and Spider Lady had the double roll with double the lobster for $10 more, but  had the same complaint. This place has great reviews just about everywhere online, so maybe it's just us.  Maybe we just expect more flavor from our food, because food back home tends to be flavor rich.

Lobster Shack on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Duff's...the StarTAC of wings

So, Duff's is one of the places known for wings in good 'ol Buffalo.  I've had them twice, and have been less than impressed both times.  There, I said it.  Thing is, I thought the first time was a bit of a fluke, but no.  They're a little bland, and not nearly as hot as their sign lets on.  (However, if you're not from the area, you might think the hot is hot.  People not from 'round these parts don't know what hot wing sauce is.)

Now, before you Duff lovers leave home to stalk/kill me, let me just give my little disclaimer:  I often prefer the Roc version of things, so I'm not going to rate this place.  People in Buffalo like to say "Anchor Bar invented the wing, but Duff's perfected it!!"  I prefer to believe any number of small, hole in the walls places perfected the wing.  That's not to say Anchor Bar and Duff's aren't important, because wings  wouldn't be where they are today if it weren't for those places.  So, like the VHS tape of wings...

Since this is Buffalo, you know they're serving some shoestring fries.  This is the generous portion I was served as part of the lunch special, which included 10 wings and 2 sides for $11-$12.  No complaints there.

My buddy GeeGee got the burger, and to be perfectly honest I should have got that too.  She reports it was good.  Again, the price was decent.

This is the chicken wing soup.  It was BY FAR the best part of my meal.  It was goddamn delightful.  Also, the serving size was HUGE for a side dish.  Okay, so here's what I think:  people are expected to love this place, and if you're not from Western NY, I can even see how you might.  People from the region should try different places, and see what they like.  A lot of places have a sweeter or more flavorful sauce in any number of ways.  

Duff's Sheridan Patio on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 4, 2012

Ted's Hot Dogs (or how Buffalo is like an alternate universe Rochester)

Ah, Buffalo.  As Ewok pointed out, it's like bizarro Rochester.  Whereas in the Roc we have hot dog places that boast fat pop-open Zweigle's smothered in region-specific meat hot sauce, Buffalo has long, thin Sahlen's with a region specific hot relish sauce.  It's like the most opposite one can get with, um, hot dogs and hot sauce.  Also, in the Roc we like to serve up a thicker french fry (usually crinkle cut) or better yet home fries and mac salad with our dogs.  In Buffalo they do the shoestring fries.

Also, they do their onion rings a little differently.  In the Roc, you'll usually find a battered onion ring, but at Ted's they serve 'em breaded.  My opinion on this is a little biased as many of you know Western NY separates into Rochester and Buffalo people with only the Bills holding us together.  So, I won't be offering a star point review here.  I goddamn love meat hot sauce.  I actually really like Sahlen's hot dogs cooked out on my grill at home, but at a restaurant I expect the bigger, juicier Zweigle's bang for my buck.  I like thicker fries and always feel let down by shoestring ones.  However, what I will say is the onion rings are amazing.  The breading is a little lighter and soaks up less grease than battered ones, so you get a more balanced taste experience.  If you're in Buffalo, check this place out.  Oh, and top it off with an Anderson's frozen custard: it's like a bizarro Abbot's.

Ted's Jumbo Red Hots on Urbanspoon