Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Website of the Day

Today's website is one that you might not want to visit while you are eating, or up to 2 hours post-mealtime. I'm talking, of course, about Celebrities Eating Dot Com. This journey through voyeurism of the oft gormandizing beautiful (and not so beautiful) people is best experienced on an empty stomach, and can only be truly appreciated when you read the comments sections.

Or I just have a sick sense of humor. I'll go with that, as well.

Belly laughs (and aches) all around!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Capone's is no more

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Capone's is now closed. I got the tip from Legal Chick that there are two large trailers in front of the building, ladders inside, the lights were off, and I just called the number, and it has been disconnected.

I (originally anonymous, but you might recognize my posting style in the above link, and certainly my complaints about Paolo's), called it: "
I can see them closing within the year. They're just too expensive for what they are: An expensive gimmick restaurant across from the Simplot plant."

It's a shame, since the food was actually decent, and they are a locally owned. But again, it goes to show that local owners do not always listen. If you are going to spend that kind of money, you'll go to Sanders, or even The Toasted Frog, which took up that #2 fancy spot in our restaurant market.

Now, when is that Olive Garden coming?

EDIT: Thanks to GrandForksGuy for pointing out that this could all be the result of a fire they sustained earlier in the month. If this is just a temporary closure, then I wish them luck when they reopen. I also wish them luck in finding the Italian food niche that we all hoped they would fill, but haven't so far.

I'm still sticking by my prediction of them closing unless they make significant changes.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Pita Pit Has Opened

The Pita Pit on South Washington is now open. I took Coffee Kid there yesterday. Well, after I talked him out of the McDonalds next door, that is.

The sandwiches are pretty good, and certainly better than typical fast food options. I went out on a limb and had the chicken souvlaki, and The Kid had a gyro.

The chicken souvlaki was OK, considering this isn't a Middle Eastern restaurant. But, I've had worse in far better places. The gyro meat, although obviously the pre-formed and frozen SYSCO variety, was actually pretty tasty (OK, maybe it's been almost a month since I've had Christos in the Twin Cities and I'm somewhat desperate for Greek food.) No, this is not freshly carved from the rotisserie, but again, it is not repellant. The tzatziki was pretty pasty (not a typo) and was missing that expected ZING! The veggie options are typical Subway fare, with the exception of the hummus and babaghanoush, which are an extra charge. As for the actual pita, it was fresh and had a slight sweetness. Or was that the tzatziki making its presence known? I’ll have to go back and find out for sure.

The price for 2 sandwiches, 2 bags of chips, and a soda to share was just under $15.

On the minus side, none of the counter people seemed to know what they are doing. I was asked my order repeatedly, but I’ll give them a break—and another chance—since they just opened a few days earlier. I’ll also cut them slack since this is obviously the first job for many, if not most, of them, as most everyone employed there appeared to be about 16 years old. I have to admit that I found their youthful confusion somewhat cute, but I probably won’t find it so in a few months.

The sandwich board features a “Local” special, but this place is so new that they don’t even have any ideas for that one yet.

The d├ęcor is nothing special, but the veggie characters on the walls had names that seemed to keep the seven year old Coffee Kid amused for a few minutes.

I didn’t notice the napkins.

Stop in, repeat your order a few times, and give them a few suggestions for The Local. All in all, I find The Pita Pit to be a welcome addition to Grand Forks.

ADDENDUM: For our "Eat In" order, the sandwiches were just handed to us half-unwrapped (ready to eat.) Some sort of plate or tray would be a big help to the customers.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Has Paulo's Closed?

Dear Stanley,

Do you remember that new Mexican restaurant, Paulo’s, that I told you about? You know, the one in East Grand Forks that I mentioned was run by migrant farm workers (I guess in hindsight I should have called them “restaurateurs,” but I’m not that familiar with post-WWII terminology.) The place that I reviewed for you twice within the span of one year (I honestly don’t know if I was that excited, or if I just couldn’t remember that I had already written about it. In either case, they kept the same quality napkins for the entire year that they were open. Sometimes I use three nice sturdy ones. You need that with chips and salsa that drips and with most Mexican food.)

In any event, despite my glowing comments for this quality establishment (I really did like it! If I had not, I would’ve used the “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” brand of muckraking criticism. Do people really think that there is any power in words? HA HA! Oh, those sillies!), it looks like the place has closed. I, Coffee Guy (CG) stopped by there today with BFD and WTF, and we found the place closed, with the doors locked and a note indicating that the locks have been changed per the building owner’s request! Not only that, Stanley, but I looked through the windows (they always had nice, eye-level windows to look out) and saw that all the tables, chairs, decorations, service areas, chip machine, those nice, sturdy napkins, everything was gone!

I’m not sure how that could be, as I just gave them a nice review, and I have such high standards when it comes to food quality, service, and such. There must be more to the story. Trust me, I’ll get to the bottom of this.

OK, maybe I forgot to mention a few things in my review. Such as how, under the new and improved management, the wait staff never wrote anything down, and consequently got things wrong with our orders every single time we went there. That must’ve been at least a half dozen times, and they got things wrong each time. I even had to beg and plead with the 6 year old in our group that his chicken burrito, which came out as a beef burrito, despite us ordering a chicken burrito, tastes just as good as his chicken burrito would have, if he would just try to imagine chicken whenever he tasted beef in his burrito.

And I didn’t want to mention how the waiter for each of our last few visits looked like he might have spent a few years on Rikers Island. I never knew just how detailed you could make a tattoo with a walkman motor, guitar string, a straw, and the ink from a bic pen. You learn something new everyday, Stanley. There might have even been a few neck tattoos, always a sign of class, but I don’t remember.

I wonder what that weird looking, long haired, too-skinny, tattooed, tattered fellow was doing running in and out of the place so many times and in such a hurry that everyone at our table was too distracted to eat. Let me tell you this, Stanley, the methamphetamine addict look might be hip with all the kids, but I don’t like it.

One time at Paulo’s, we got more on our table than we ordered. The somewhat grumpy waitress, the one I told you used to throw the food onto the table with an audible “CLANG!” put her exposed, pregnant belly onto our table about three times during our visit! Now, I’m not sure if I should start to say negative things in the other pieces I write or not, but this event got me thinking. I’m glad we got “Little Miss Surly,” rather than that skinny guy, because you never know what he might place on our table. People on drugs do some pretty weird things.

Despite this service...oh, I do hate to say negative things...let’s just call it a “steep learning curve,” I found the food to be mostly up to the standards of the past management’s. The chicken fajitas, in particular, were yummy, tasty, and good.

Well, Stanley, I think I’ll wrap up this letter with a word of encouragement to our neighbors. There is a new place opening up soon. It is called the Pita Pit. I’ll let you know all about it after it opens. I’ll give you a complete rundown on everything they offer, the thickness of the padded cushions on the bench seating, the presence and location of handy coat hooks, and if I have time I’ll even comment of the quality and taste of the food.

Your brother,
Coffee Guy

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Smoking or non-smoking?

It seems like more and more restaurants in the Grand Forks area have a slew of televisions on the walls, all showing different channels, but almost exclusively on sports (I even saw dominos, if you can really call that a sport). I can understand TVs in a sports bar, or if you have a sports bar adjacent to the restaurant, but does that idea have to flow over to the restaurant portion of the establishment? As much as I try not to look, there is just something in my brain that makes me turn in the direction of the flashing images. It probably goes back to the primitive hunter’s peripheral vision spotting movement in a bush, but that's just the science junkie in me talking.

It’s to the point where I don’t want to go these places just because of the damn TVs! However, part of me thinks that it's to help restaurants cover up for bad or slow service. If you distract the customer, maybe they won't notice that their mediocre dinner has taken 45 minutes to arrive. Not that I like to keep picking on Boston's, but...

I know that there are more and more places that are setting up tableside TVs, and families that like them say they generate discussion, but I'm a traditionalist when it comes to dining out. I like good service, good food, and good conversation based on our lives, not some athlete's. Besides, we don't allow our kid to watch TV at home all that much. I guess the more I think about it, the more I'm going to start to make my dining decisions based on this fact, which is a shame.

Here’s my list of waitstaffed places with and w/o TVs. Please help me fill out this by adding a message, and I'll add them to the list. This should be an interesting exercise.

Has TVs:

  1. Suite 49
  2. Boston’s
  3. Paradiso
  4. Ground Round
  5. The Blue Moose
  6. Grizzly's
  7. Green Mill
  8. Buffalo Wild Wings

No TVs, or TVs not easily visible from the restaurant:

  1. Sanders
  2. Paolo’s
  3. Bronze Boot
  4. Panda Buffet
  5. Toasted Frog

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Oh where, oh where has my little blog gone? Oh where, oh where can it be?

Until I figure this out, we shall continue.

The last post, I think, I mentioned the possibility of an Olive Garden coming to Grand Forks. This story came from a dinner conversation I had with somebody whose friend (or whatever) has seen some schematics for an Olive Garden that might go in the strip in front of Kohl’s. I, for one, am in favor of an Olive Garden coming to town. At least I know I can get a somewhat decent pizza, which is head and shoulders above Boston's. Olive Garden also serves one of the better cups of coffee I've had in a restaurant. Their Caffe la Toscana (from S&D Coffee), is a new line for them, and along with their new brewing system, makes a very nice cup...for a restaurant, that is.

We went to Boston's the other day. Man, could the service be any slower? Not slow in a "let the guests enjoy their meal" sort of way, but slow in a "Has our waiter quit?" sort of way. At least they didn't screw up the order this time the way they seem to every other time we've been there. I've just about had it with them. However, they make some of the best Buffalo wings in town. So, what's a guy to do? Go to Ground Round, I guess.

Speaking of Kohl’s, I wish I could figure out why Grand Forks needs one. I would have thought that Sears/JC Penney/Target/Wal-Mart/Gordmans/etc. would've cornered all of those markets by now. It isn't like Kohl’s is more upscale or anything. Macy's, I can see, but not Kohl’s. I guess I'll see when it opens.