Sunday, June 30, 2013

What's the Deal with IHOP?

Seriously, why do people love IHOP?  I just don't get it.  It's below-mediocre food with even worse service.  Naturally it's one of the places we go in Carlsbad after a long day; that or Denny's.  Yeah, I think we should start branching out.

So here's the thing: my dad and I went to an IHOP for breakfast when I was a kid and it was memorable because the service was so atrocious (I think our regular breakfast eateries were all packed on that particular day, so we tried the local IHOP).  Even as a 9 year old I knew the difference between good service and crap, but my dad being the good tipper he is actually left a buck despite the fact that it was really, really poor.  I don't remember what I had but it was probably bacon and eggs.  Anyway, that one trip was bad enough to keep me from returning to an IHOP for about 15 years, then all of a sudden it resurfaces as a quasi-regular dining establishment out of sheer convenience.

Unfortunately this IHOP in San Marcos is a perfect example of why I avoided this place like the plague for so long; bland food paired with poor service makes Greg an angry boy.  But I digress.  Here's what I ate:

It's like a hot chick with no personality

One of the funny things about IHOP is that they actually have a menu item that has bacon, ham, and sausage; THREE TYPES OF PORK.  That's kind of cool.  But here we have the usual breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and hash browns and...jelly donut pancakes.  The picture on the menu of this odyssey looked intriguing enough for me to order them but all we really have here is a couple of lightly glazed pancakes with jelly on top.  I was like whaaaaaat?!

Honestly, if the service were better this wouldn't be a big deal.  I mean, In-N-Out for example.  Yeah, the food's good but the service makes it an experience.  It's the same thing at the Denny's across the street from this IHOP; the service SUCKS and for some reason both places seem to take issue with refilling water.  No clue what that's about.  But whatever.  It's really out of sheer convenience and the food is filling so what can I say?

Three types of pork for breakfast does sound intriguing though.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hell's Kitchen, Season 11, Episode 18 Recap


Yeah, that's about right

A couple notes from tonight's episode since this show is too poor to write about anymore:

*Nona got kind of hot.
*Rock is still a total badass
*Ja'nel really is a bitch.  She doesn't have the mouth of past contestants but she really is a pain in the ass.
*Paul still yells too much.
*Mary is about as creepy as you'd expect when she's butchering animals.
*Upon further review, I think Nona has also become a bit of a crackhead.

What?!  You mean people are still watching my show???

*No one went home.  We're now 18 episodes in with 5 chefs left.  Basically Gordon Ramsay is trying to make reality TV the new sitcom, where each series is now gonna have 20-something episodes per season.  Consider that there's at least four more eliminations and one TBC, we'll finish up at 23 episodes AT LEAST.  I'd say 24 or 25 is more of a safe bet.  For a frickin' reality show.  Horrible. 


Susan or Cyndi are going next week, most likely Susan, unless of course we get that TBC.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hell's Kitchen, Season 11, Episode 17 Recap


This is now how I feel about my once favorite show

Wait, what?  There was an episode last Thursday?  Ooooh that's right; I opted instead to eat dinner and then watch the Spurs have their spirits broken by the Heat in game 7, then I saw the last three minutes where yet again we are spoon fed a big pile of to be continued.  Therefore I could care less of how this episode went, though I do recall Gordon saying he was only giving out four black jackets and, low and behold, he gives out five.  Again, I could care less as to why.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Road Trippin' Gourmet

You know what?  I spend all this time pissing and moaning about how Gordon Ramsay is ruining television yet I look at this blog and's also not what it used to be.  This used to be THE place for savory fatty foods that only Morgan Spurlock on an all-McDonald's diet would think about.  This used to be THE place to laugh at immature yet thought-provoking jokes, such as the existence of a store called Dick's Liquor.  I need to get back to those roots.  So to start, here are some delicious, some nasty, and some WTF pictures from my recent trip around California.

Here's the thing, though: a lot of this trip happened on the fly and likewise we didn't put a lot of effort into finding the best places to eat, so the pictures you're about to see aren't the most impressive I've ever posted here.  But they may be entertaining yet.  Let's get to work.


Leading off is your basic French dip from a highway-side diner in the middle of nowhere: The Apricot Tree in Firebaugh, CA.

The Central Valley's finest gourmet cuisine

The cool thing about the Apricot Tree is that it's probably the only independently owned restaurant on Interstate 5 in the 300-something miles between Los Angeles and Sacramento.  Seriously, you got McDonald's, Burger King, and Denny's every twenty miles, then you got the Apricot Tree smack dab in a little town whose name I don't even know how to pronounce.  Fire-baw?  Fire-bo?  Who knows?  Who even lives there?

As we get further up the Valley to some homemade chicken and steak kebabs, prepared in the unforgiving hundred degree heat of Sacramento:

I knew I was gonna have to be a trooper and shove down these vegetables - thankfully they were doused in oil and other fatty acids

With these kebabs it was one plate right after another.  Seriously, they were cooking these things well into the night, almost like they were fattening us up in order to later simmer us in a stew.

Following three kebabs, three glasses of sangria, and who knows how much dessert, I was ready to call it a night.  Of course we were talking about having a big breakfast the following morning which I insisted I wouldn't be ready for.  Naturally when the time came I was ready for it.  From Stagecoach:

Oh hi, high cholesterol

Got your regular breakfast here; three over easy eggs, four strips of bacon, a biscuit, and a buttload of potatoes.  What's vexing is that this place still, STILL, does not have a website.  Guys, I know your restaurant is called Stagecoach and all and your food is really good but, seriously, time to join the rest of us in the technological era.


Departing Sacramento, our next destination was a place we've dined at before called Pastino's Pasta & Pizza in Oakland:

Chicago deep dish pizza

So this is the third time I've eaten at Pastino's.  Was there in 2011 and 2012 as well.  And each time I'm not sure exactly what to make of it.  In 2011 I got this huge pepperoni calzone that I thought was gonna be awesome.  Unfortunately the whole thing had like two damn pieces of pepperoni in it smothered with more cheese than a cow with the runs.  2012 I ordered the deep dish pepperoni pizza and it was great - a generous portion of pepperoni.  But this time?  Same pizza, different result.  Not as much pepperoni going up against that thick dough doesn't make for as tasty of a pizza.  It was still pretty good but not as good as it could have been.

This next place kinda pissed me off and I still question why we even ate here.  We're in San Francisco, we see all these cool places during the day and we cap it off with a lackluster meal at the Rainforest Cafe (yeah, apparently they spell "rain forest" as one word, much to my blog's disapproval):

The darkness of this picture is symbolic of my boredom of this dish

So, the Rainforest Cafe.  Right there next to Fisherman's Wharf.  All of the restaurant's efforts go into the decor, which is decorated as, duh, a rain forest, with animals, water falls, and even the periodic thunderstorm.  But the menu?  Booooooring.  For a place like this you'd hope for a little variety but nope.  Burger, sandwich, salad, the usual.  And the prices are inflated of course because this is the perfect tourist trap.  Because of this, the food can be subpar and they can get away with it.  Case in point: a 2.5/5 average star rating on Yelp.  

Is the food bad?  No.  It's a turkey club.  Can't really go wrong.  But there's probably a dozen other local independent restaurants around the Wharf with the exact same menu that taste way better at a lower price.  Disappointing.

This next location is a place I used to frequent as a kid - the Sky Kitchen Cafe situated at the San Carlos Airport in, of course, San Carlos:

May not be the most picture-esque dish, but its sentimental taste is through the roof

I love the Sky Kitchen.  They could cook me up some fried diarrhea from a cow at a Burger King processing plant and I'd still be happy to eat it.  The scenery, the decor, the old-style diner feel - it's a real pleasure.


Okay, so this next dish and restaurant I swear is straight out of an episode of Kitchen Nightmares.  I dare you to look at this picture and not hear Gordon Ramsay's words "absolutely dreadful" echoing in your head:

Contrary to basic logic, this is actually NOT a picture of vomit

The Hungry Fisherman in Morro Bay.  First off, I had no idea Morro Bay was such a sleepy little town.  Seriously, at 6 everything shuts down and even prior to that there's not much going on other than art galleries and, uh, more art galleries.  But anyway, we came to the Hungry Fisherman basically out of process of elimination with, like, one other restaurant.  I can't say enough how Gordon Ramsay would have a field day with this place.  Decor is old, tables are dirty and worn down, and the food, as you can see...not the most photogenic.  That's not to say this place is bad.  It seems to be a local favorite and has favorable reviews on Yelp.  But, like, yeah...this looks like it may have been microwaved after being in a fridge for a week.  It wasn't horrible.  I ate it.  But...yeah...

I guess in Morro Bay there's three things to do: 1) visit the rock. 2) question why a big power plant operates right next to it and ruins its natural scenic beauty. 3) eat some fish.  That's exactly what we did at Tognazzini's Dockside Restaurant & Fish Market.

It looks, smells, and tastes like chicken but alas, this is actually halibut

Believe it or not this was actually my first time ordering fish in a restaurant since the first Bush administration probably.  I thought, you know what?  We're in Morro Bay, there's fish here, I'm eating all this other junk all week, I'm gonna face my fear and order some damn halibut.  Naturally being deep fried it was delicious.  I was proud of myself for that feat.

Down in Pismo there's a lot to do.  Pismo Beach is a town that looks like it hasn't been touched at all by the economy.  Unfortunately this is kind of another "why did we eat here?" moment: Brad's Restaurant:

The more French fries you have the more uninspired they look in every picture

So.  Brad's.  Been around for 50+ years and doing good business.  A couple things stood out to me, though.  Firstly, the blonde girl working the front is really, really attractive.  Like, whoa.  Second, everyone who works there including said blonde girl seemed to be a little pissed off on this particular night.  Not sure why, but no one seemed really happy to be there.  And third, they have a cool BBQ menu but it's only for weekends when they do it outside.  We were there on Wednesday.  Damn.  Burger was good.  Nothing overly spectacular.  The perceived grouchiness of the employees is what caught my attention here.

For breakfast we paid a visit to the restaurant that gave me one of my favorite pictures of 2012: Penny's All American Cafe:

Oh baby...yes

Deluxe strawberry waffle here.  It's a seasonal menu item and it is AMAZING.  Delicious breakfast.  Penny is a total gangsta.


To round things up, here we have a "light" lunch at the famous Jerry's Famous Deli in Studio City:

Basketball?  More like Matzoball

When I ordered Matzo ball soup I didn't realize the actual ball would be the size of Dane Cook's over-inflated ego.  I mean jeez.  Really, really tasty.

So there we go.  Some good, some not so good, and some kinda ugly.  Blogging it was fun.  Eating it was funner.  I should get back into this, yeah?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hell's Kitchen, Season 11, Episode 16 Recap

Season 11, Episode 16 Recap

Is it a pick or a scratch?

Brief rundown of tonight's episode. 

Knife and fire juggling: Possibly a metaphor of how Gordon Ramsay's TV career is "under the knife" so to speak.

Three Entree Relay Challenge: Classic challenge where each chef cooks for 5 minutes at a time and relays information to the next chef, who in turn cooks for 5 minutes and so on and so forth.  These challenges usually end in disaster for at least one team. 

Gordon, good advice: "Let's go, Zach!  Think, think, think!"  That seems like a challenge within itself for Zachy Wacky.

Mary the Butcher, crybaby: Cries after a loss.  Better keep her on the show otherwise you'll see the whole damn LA River overflow. 

Ja'nel, is she really this bitchy?: "You know, I don't know how I get on the winning team. YES I DO!  ALL I DO IS WIN!"  While she said this with a great amount of sarcasm, I think a lot of her was actually serious.  All season long she's had this arrogance about her.  Some would say it's confidence but, really, it's just annoying. 

Susan: I wanna hear you, Mary.
Mary: I wanna hear yoooooou!"
Dude, who the hell would wanna hear Mary?  Is Susan a fan of nails scraping against a chalkboard or something?

This is the face you make whenever you hear Mary talk

Gordon, unfamiliar with Hollywood standards: "Ladies we're fully booked.  Over 500 guests were turned away for this evening.  Over 500!"  Dude, you're fully booked every night, and I'm pretty sure you regularly turn away more than 500 people wanting to be on camera in that dining room.

Ja'nel, starting to sound like an overachiever: "I'm a work horse.  I work smart, I work hard, I can lead this team to victory tonight."  You also scored high on your SATs, you got into Harvard, you're the first female president of the United States...

Zachy Wacky, AVON spokesman: "I smell great, like exotic fragrances." 

Gordon: Mary?!
Mary: Yes, chef?
Gordon: What the f*@* is going on?
Mary: I don't know, chef!
An honest statement if I've ever heard one.

Mary the Butcher, wtf?: "I have never been to the pantry with chef.  It's never a good thing when he takes you back there."  ...okay then.

"Guys, I think my botox surgery is coming undone."

Susan: "That's right!  We have standards!  Let's go, ladies!"  Ha!  Yeah.  "Standards". 

Four black jackets: For whatever reason, Gordon is only giving out four black jackets this season.  And once again we're left to wonder why he continues to ruin what was once a terrific show.

So Zachy-Wacky goes home.  Early on I had him in the finals with Ja'nel, so his collapse comes kind of as a surprise considering how solid he was in the beginning.  Blah, blah, blah. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hell's Kitchen, Season 11, Episode 15 Recap

Season 11, Episode 15 Recap

"I'm gonna karate chop my reality TV career!"

I barely wrote anything for episode 14 and it'll be more of the same here.  I was out of town for 10 days and the day I return to LA I realize, hey, Hell's Kitchen is on tonight.  Then I realized, hey, who cares?  In past seasons I'd be ridiculously excited for another episode but this is how bad it's gotten.  It's seriously like who cares anymore? 

The only piece of relevance that Episode 15 gave us was the surprising elimination of Anthony.  I had him going to the finals so this did come as a bit of a shock, especially since Zachy-Wacky has been in Gordon's cross-hairs the past several episodes.  

I also liked how Gordon was bitching about how someone's food wasn't "the standard of Hell's Kitchen".  Tell me, Gordon: what is the standard of HK these days?  Is it shooting down a team-made menu five minutes before dinner service?  Is it over-exposing yourself to the point where you're no longer a charmingly angry British guy but now just kind of annoying?  Is it the fact that you've ruined what once was a really good show?  Please Gordon.  Do enlighten me on "the standard of Hell's Kitchen".  

Hell's Kitchen, Season 11, Episode 14 Recap

Season 11, Episode 14 Recap

I feel the same way, Gordon

As you can see I've fallen behind on these.  I was out of town for about 10 days and the last two episodes were so bad there was no rush to go about my daily dealings of Gordon Ramsay insults.  

Absolutely nothing relevant happened in this episode.  No one got eliminated and to try and create suspense they have some boring-ass challenge where the winner gets immunity at the next elimination.  Naturally the episode ended with a To Be Continued.

Bite me.