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Austin

A & W Restaurant
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

37

A & W Restaurant

5600 Cameron Rd.
Austin, TX 78723
(512) 419-9030

Head Public Restaurant Critic

5/15/2008

Satisfactory

I was driving around with a friend of mine when he wanted to stop for a burger at a nearby A & W Restaurant. I mentioned I had never tried one and he responded by saying that they serve some of the best burgers around. We went through the drive-by around 9 pm on a weekday -- my friend ordered a burger only to be told that the restaurant was out of burgers, which would make this the first time that has ever happened to me, being at a burger place that has run out of hamburgers. Oh well.

So, I went back a couple of days later and tried one of these 'famous' burgers myself, getting a double cheeseburger combo. The burger was alright. The one thing that annoyed me about the burger was the 'thousand island'-like sauce that was put on it, similar to the sauce McDonald's put on the Big Mac, a sauce that I'm not particularly a big fan of on my burgers.

A & W is mainly known, at least to me, for their root beer, which they had on tap at the restaurant. It didn't occur to me till I was already eating with Pepsi in hand that I should have tried the root beer to make this a more complete A & W experience. In the end, I was glad I didn't try the root beer as the tap was surrounded by fruit flies. Oh well.

Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

37-a

A & W Restaurant

5600 Cameron Rd.
Austin, TX 78723
(512) 419-9030

Head Public Restaurant Critic

10/4/2009

Good

Somehow, the people at A&W Restaurant, knowing what a respected online food journalist and restaurant reviewer I am, found out my address and sent me some coupons for their food (or at least that's the way I like to think it played out). I accepted this challenge and decided to use their coupons as an opportunity to visit their establishment and sample their food, which I haven't done in a while.

I decided to start with the largest cut out coupon they gave me, which happened to be for a dollar off their "original bacon cheeseburger" combo meal, meaning it came with fries and a drink, duh, I know. So I ate the burger and fries and drank the drink and it was good. It's a fast food burger, but it was a good fast food burger. My order took a while to come out, but I assumed that's because the restaurant employees were busy actually making my burger and fries (the drink I got from the soda fountain, duh, I know), which was confirmed by the steam that arose from the meat patties after I had taken my first bite and by the burn of the french fries as I tried to scarf them down shortly after I had received them. The burger was good, high quality stuff. A&W's meat patties are easily better than McDonald's' and Wendy's' (I have no idea what the possessive of a 'proper name that is itself a possessive' is supposed to look like), and a tad better than Burger King's and Jack-in-the-Box's. The meal was quality fast food; I was satisfied.

What I was really satisfied with, though, was the service. The lady that took my order was really helpful, especially with my inquiry as to how big their crab cakes are (this A&W Restaurant is also a Long John Silver's restaurant, and they have crab cakes for $1.49 which I almost got... almost). Then, although this is a restaurant that calls out order numbers for customer pick-up, this lady surprised me by bringing my food to me. Then, after I packed my leftovers and had gone to get my final refill on my drink, I came back to my table to discover all of the trash had already been picked up by this lady, which was really surprising because the customer is assumed to throw away his trash in these types of restaurants, but the lady got to it before I could, which was awesome.

Overall, good food and great service. I was really happy with this visit.



Applebee's
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

34

Applebee's

7522 N I-35 Service Rd S
Austin, TX 78752
(512) 371-7018

Head Public Restaurant Critic

5/2/2008

Sucks!

You know, I might not be the best person to review an Applebee's dining experience as I am a bit biased in my loathfulness towards these faux-American dining corporate franchises like Applebee's, Bennigan's, Chili's, T.G.I.Fridays, but seeing as I did have a dining experience at a local Applebee's, that means I get to review it.

First, I wouldn't normally visit an Applebee's, but one of my friends had some Applebee's giftcards he wanted to spend and asked me to go along with him -- he promised to pay for my drinks, so I agreed.

One of the first signs that I was in for a mediocre dining experience happened upon seeing a group of senior citizens exiting the Applebee's that we were about to enter. There's nothing wrong with senior citizens per se, but as a twenty-something year old man, there are a lot of other places I would rather eat at than a restaurant full of old people. Luckily, the entire restaurant wasn't full of old people, but just partly.

For my meal, I decided to order a steak, medium, which came with a baked potato. The meal was fine, but I'm in a mood for nitpicking so I'm going to point out a few things. First, I ordered my steak medium, but it was served half well done, half medium well. The steak was unevenly cooked. Secondly, my baked potato, which I got 'loaded' (an important point that will round out my review), was sliced in half and then had the butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits thrown on top. The problem with this is that the toppings have a tendency to slide off. Most restaurants that serve baked potatoes cut a slit in the middle long-wise, then push the potato together to create a hole or bowl in the baked potato in which to place the toppings. Slicing the potato in half, the way Applebee's did, is just lazy and shows a lack of attention to detail, or a lack of caring, either one.

But overall, my meal wasn't bad. Personally, I don't care for the atmosphere of restaurants like Applebee's, which cater to the most generic American families and are perfectly marketed to be the least offensive and most welcoming to the average Joe, thus becoming the most bland and uninteresting restaurants in the process. Case in point, there were a bunch of teenagers at the restaurant as part of a school group from out of town, joined by their sponsor/teacher. There's nothing wrong with that, but when you have a restaurant that can host a group of old people and a bunch of teenagers, not to mention the groups of co-workers having after hours drinks, I really don't want to eat there. It's just too ordinary. Too 'safe'.

Looking at their menu, with dishes by celebrity chefs and meals approved by Weight Watchers or some such similar b.s., I got the feeling that Applebee's passion is not in their food (their meals are too perfectly structured to appeal to the most people), but in making money, and I'm fine with that. I just won't ever eat at another Applebee's again. Unless I have a giftcard or my friend promises to buy me drinks again.

All in all, my meal wasn't bad, and the dining experience was okay, if lackluster. But what really pissed me off was when I got my bill. Like I said earlier, I got my baked potato 'loaded', with everything on it. They f*cking charged me a dollar for that, for having it 'loaded'. This is the first restaurant I have ever been to where they charge you for getting your baked potato 'loaded' when it's listed as part of the plate, and no where on the menu did I see it would cost me extra either. F*ck Applebee's and their money making schemes, trying to squeeze every last penny out of their customers. Honestly, I wouldn't be pissed if the plate had cost a dollar extra -- I'm just pissed that these motherf*ckers are trying to tack on extra charges for something that should come with the potato in the first place, the damn f*cking toppings.

F*ck Applebee's. Don't eat there.

Banzai
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

7

Banzai

3914 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX
(512) 323-2151

Head Public Restaurant Critic

2/4/2008
2/14/2008

Good

Within the past month I have visited Banzai twice. Before these last two visits, I had only made one other visit a couple of months ago. During this initial visit, I wasnít that impressed with the restaurant and never would have thought to visit Banzai again. Then, recently, I was hungry for sushi and was about to visit my usual sushi restaurant, Shilla Restaurant, when I decided to try Banzai again, if just to get a review out of it.

I visited Banzai, and then two weeks later I went again. Obviously, on these last two visits, I had a better impression of the restaurant than my initial visit months ago. Banzai is sort of a fast food sushi restaurant Ė you order at a counter, get a number-thingy, and the server brings you your food at your table. Both visits I had a $10.99 lunch special where you get two rolls (philly and shrimp tempura in my case), miso soup, and tea. Overall, the quality of the food was decent, not mind-blowing or anything, but not really underwhelming either.

In my opinion, the biggest fault of Banzai is their lack of space. During lunch the place gets packed. On my last visit, as I was ordering at the counter, I wasnít sure I was going to find a place to sit down and eat the meal that I had just placed. I got lucky as someone was leaving as I finished placing my order, so I took their booth, which was kind of dirty, but the server, after dropping off my food, came back to wipe it off and apologized, which was cool. Further, their parking sucks. On my second to last visit, I had to park along the street two blocks away.

Still, the restaurant is a nice little place, and the fact that I visited twice within almost the same number of weeks of each other tells you that I kind of like the place. Still, I canít give it a great rating, because the restaurant is basically fast food sushi, which is weird because in Japan sushi is fast food, but we here in America (or maybe its just me) come to view it as a dining experience.

If Iím hungry for sushi and Iím by myself, I think Iíll stick with Shillaís Restaurant for now. But if Iím with a friend and we want a quick, good lunch, I think I just might take him, or her, to Banzai.

As a side note, on one visit to Banzai, the girl sitting at the table in front of me left without finishing all of her sushi -- she just took off, not even bothering to take her leftovers home for future comsumption. I thought about just quickly going and eating the rest of her sushi for her, but the server came to clean to the table as I was still debating with myself the finer rules of dining etiquette. I'm still debating, and a small part of me wishes I had just done it, if just to tell my friends that, "Yeah, I finished a stranger's leftover food at a restaurant before."


the girl's leftovers on the table in front of me tempting me


a dirty table on my second visit
First Visit

Second Visit

Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

7-a

Banzai

3914 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX
(512) 323-2151

Head Public Restaurant Critic

11/23/2009

Satisfactory

Alright, this is the second time I review Banzai and I'm calling bullshit on my first review. I think my first review is still somewhat valid, and I had the same sort of experience eating at Bonzai for this second review as the first, except that, overall, I just think more negatively of Banzai.

First of all, I got their two roll lunch special with a Philly roll and shrimp tempura roll, which, unbeknowst to me, was what I got the last time I reviewed this restaurant (at least I'm consistent). The rolls were good, but they were just six small pieces each, which kind of pissed me off (or maybe Maki, with their ten piece rolls, is spoiling me).

Second of all, the place still gets packed during lunch. After I ordered at the counter I had to sit at a dirty table until someone left and I was able to take their less-dirty table.

Third, they give you one napkin. I hate restaurants that are stingy with their napkins.

Finally, the value just isn't there. Banzai charges around ten bucks for the two roll lunch special I ordered, which comes with 12 small roll pieces, mizo soup, iced tea, and ONE napkin. Seriously, buck for buck, Banzai is not worth eating at. You can get more bang for your buck at Shilla or Ichiban.



Benihana
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

20

Benihana

9070 Research Blvd.
Austin, TX 78756
(512) 451-7505
Head Public Restaurant Critic

3/14/2008

Good

I recently when to Benihana for the first time, and it was great, I just wish my budget would afford to let me go there more often. Benihana is a Japanese restaurant where the chef cooks in front of you, often times impressing you, the audience, with his flair and talent, sprinkled with some good humored comedy, which, given the context of the situation, I found hilarious.

If you order the fried rice, you get to see the chef make it in front of your eyes, which I had never seen done (hell, up to that point I didn't even know how the hell fried rice was made). If you order steamed rice, they just bring it in from the kitchen. I would recommend the fried rice.

Also, I had some salmon dish, which was good (except it had huge chunks of ginger cooked with it which I tried to eat until I realized that I hated ginger in big chunks), except I would not order it again at Benihana because the salmon is just cooked/steamed in a bag with some vegetables, so you don't get to see the chef do anything cool with the salmon.

In addition to the meal, you also get some sort of onion soup, a small salad, and a shrimp appetizer (mine was a little over cooked) with your meal. Plus, they had a sushi bar, so I got a Philadelphia roll to further supplement my meal.

The dishes were a bit pricey, but I guess you pay for the show, which is fine by me (I just wish I could afford to see it more often, I spent $52 at the place).

Some Crappy Cell Phone Footage From the Evening




Bill Miller Bar-B-Q
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

4

Bill Miller Bar-B-Q #35

8700 E Highway 290
Austin, TX 78724
512-926-3502

Head Public Restaurant Critic

1/19/2008
1/20/2008

Good

I ended up eating here two days in a row, the first day because a friend of mine recommended it to me, and the following day because I was in the area, hungry, and tired of fast food.

I ordered the same plate both visits, a brisket poor boy with a side of potato salad and a Pepsi. The poor boy was good, but for some reason, on the first visit it contained sliced brisket, and on the second had chopped brisket -- not a complaint, as both were good, but just an observation, as well as curiosity as to the difference.

Like I said, the food was good, not great or anything, but good enough to get me to eat there twice in as many days, especially, also, for the reasonable prices.

Plus, I was reassured I was at a good bar-b-q place when I noted that most of the workers there were not underweight.

First Visit

Second Visit

Left Overs of the Second Visit

Bombay Bistro
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

118

Bombay Bistro

10710 Research Blvd. #126
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 342-2252

Head Public Restaurant Critic

10/24/2009

Good

Some friends and I went out to dinner at Bombay Bistro, an Indian restaurant. Now, I can count the number of times I have had Indian food on one hand, so really, I had no idea what the hell to order. Luckily, there was an Indian girl in our party who ordered for us, and the food was pretty good. There was some stuff with chick peas, some stuff with chicken, some stuff with potato, along with some nan and rice. It was all very tasty.

The restaurant was pretty nice too, except that as we were eating, they were preparing to close out the restaurant for a private, catered party, so towards the end of our meal, as customers were leaving and the party was arriving, I started to feel as if my party and I were being rushed by the wait staff to hurry up and get out the hell out of there (of course, this could all have been in my mind, but it was still real to me).



Buffalo Wild Wings
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

128

Buffalo Wild Wings

7604 I-35 North
Austin, Tx 78752
(512) 323-9061

Head Public Restaurant Critic

3/17/2010

Satisfactory

Ate at Buffalo Wild Wings, and it was ok. I ordered a dozen wings, which I had split between two flavors, mild and spicy garlic. The mild was good, as was the spicy garlic, which lived up to its name. Also had blue cheese and celery, and some pints of Stella Artois. Now that I think about it, the meal itself was pretty good.

I think what bugged me about this visit was the restaurant itself -- it's hard to articulate in words, but it just felt, I wanna say depressing, but that's not quite accurate, so I'll just say dead. There were some customers, but the restaurant is so big that it just felt empty, like we should be somewhere else since everybody else seems to be.

I should also note that my friends and I visited on St. Patrick's Day, and we choose to go to Buffalo Wild Wings because we assumed other places would be packed and that Buffalo Wild Wings wouldn't be so packed -- I guess we guessed correctly.

But still, something felt odd about this place. The workers seemed, for lack of a better word, ghetto. There was this one buskeeper that kept walking around with a fake limp and his pants barely holding on to his ass. Our waitress was fine, she told us this was her third day waiting, but she kept asking us if we wanted more beers when our current beers weren't even half finished. On the plus side, she was attentive.

The food was decent, but there was just this weird, empty, lackluster aura that permeated the building. This Buffalo Wild Wings occupies a building previously occupied by a now defunct Bennigan's, the ghost of which probably still lingers on the property. On the plus side, they had $2.75 pints of Stella, so I'll drink to that.



Buffet Palace
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

91

Buffet Palace

4608 West Gate Blvd.
Austin, TX 78745-1411
(512) 892-1800

Head Public Restaurant Critic

2/14/2009

Good

Is it wrong to go to a buffet on Valentine's Day night? If it is, I don't want to know.

So tonight I went to Buffet Palace, a place I've been wanting to check out for a while now. In the past I've ranted about how I hate buffets and their all-you-can-eat/stuff-your-fucking-face mentalities, but I've since soften to their enjoy-a-wide-variety-of-foods-you-never-eat-together-in-one-sitting mentality.

My main draw to this place was the promise of an awesome sushi buffet, but, as it turns out, sushi buffets are never as great as you imagine. The sushi here was sufferable, but I soon found my way to their other foods, like baked mussels and some sort of crawfish etouffe (if that's the proper name), and chicken wings and other stuff. I also had some prawns, but they were not shelled and were sticky and a bitch to de-shell, so I was a bit ashamed when the waitress came by towards the end and saw that we hadn't eaten all of the food that we had picked up, like the unshelled prawns, but fuck it, they already had my money.

Buffet Palace wasn't all that great, but for the price, around 10 bucks or so per person, it wasn't so bad. Plus, it raised my spirits to see a bunch of couples on dates together on fucking Valentine's Day dining at Buffet Palace. What a bunch of losers.



Burger King
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

126

Burger King

700 E. William Cannon Drive
Austin, Tx 78745
(512) 440-8457

Head Public Restaurant Critic

2/14/2010

Satisfactory

I got up early on a Sunday morning and I felt like pancakes from McDonald's for some reason. Unfortunately, I did not wake up early enough to feel like I could make it to a McDonald's quick enough to get breakfast before they switched over to their lunch menu, so I decided to go to a nearby Burger King, especially since I knew that they had a dollar breakfast menu which I had not yet had a chance to sample.

I get to the restaurant and end up ordering a ham omelet sandwich and a dollar drink cup. The sandwich was alright, vaguely resembled the menu picture, and I deduced there had to be syrup in it, which I could have done without. The sandwich had a thin cylinder of egg in it and left me wondering how the cylinder was made and how it was cooked, but I think that is a mystery for another day.

For the record, Burger King's website describes the "Ham Omelet Sandwich" as "Break your morning routine with the Ham Omelet Sandwich - a fluffy egg, tender ham and honey butter sauce all on a sesame seed bun. For just $1*, morning will never be the same. *Price and participation may vary. Prices higher in AK & HI." I think they might be overestimating the magical properties of the sandwich.



BurgerTex
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

26

BurgerTex

5420 Airport Blvd.
Austin, TX. 78751
(512) 453-8772

Head Public Restaurant Critic

4/10/2008

Great!

Possibly the best burger place I have been to (I wanted to say burger joint, but didn't feel cool enough). Lots of variety: choose between different burger patties (6 oz or 8 oz), cheeses (American, cheddar, jack, (I forget the others)...), add-ons (bacon, avocado, (hell, even pineapple)...), and sides (fries, onion rings, baked potato, fried mushrooms...), and they have a little bar where you can go up and get however much lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and condiments you want.

Plus, every time my family comes into town they always want to eat here.

The only bad part about this place, aside from the fact that they're closed on Sundays (which I found out first hand a few months ago), is that it's a bit pricier than your normal fast food franchise. On this visit, I had an 8 oz burger with American cheese, bacon, avocado, and fried mushrooms, with drink, for just under $9. But hey, at places like these, you get what you pay for.


Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

26-a

BurgerTex

5420 Airport Blvd.
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 453-8772

Head Public Restaurant Critic

5/16/2008

Great!

When I last reviewed this restaurant, I wrote "Plus, every time my family comes into town they always want to eat here," and, as you can guess from the blatant foreshadowing, my family came into town and they wanted to go to BurgerTex, again, which was fine by me.

BurgerTex is great, but not without some small, very minor nitpicks.

One option which I really like that BurgerTex gives you is the option of avocado for your burger, which I always get. When you order the avocado, it comes in a little plastic bowl which you can then apply to your burger at your leisure. The last two visits to BurgerTex I have ordered the avocado, but found it absent both times I picked up my order and didn't know it was missing till I was at my table. So, I have to go up to the cashier, wait behind everybody thatís in line, show them my receipt and tell them that I'm missing the avocado, and then they give you the avocado. I could have done without that.

Also, they were out of Pepsi, so I had to drink Mountain Dew. But this place is still great. And cops and government officials apparently love it too.

Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

26-b

BurgerTex

5420 Airport Blvd.
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 453-8772

Head Public Restaurant Critic

11/29/2008

Good

Hell yeah, its BurgerTex time again (I don't really know what more I can write about this place, except that it is awesome and has it's own down home, hearty, do-it-yourself charm (except that this visit the staff was a bit off, and they still canít remember to give you your avocado that you ordered without you reminding them))!


Capt. Benny's Seafood
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

122

Capt. Benny's Seafood

5700 I-35
Austin, TX 78723
(512) 452-1417

Head Public Restaurant Critic

12/4/2009

Satisfactory

I was meeting some people for dinner and was in the mood for seafood. I initially wanted to go to Quality Seafood, but my friends were late and that restaurant closes at 9, so I decided that we should go to Capt. Benny's seafood, a relatively nearby restaurant. Capt. Benny's is in a boat... or maybe a structure that was made to resemble a boat. Anyways, I've never been to Capt. Benny's before, but I've certainly noticed it before, as it's a boat off of I-35, which is hard not to notice.

For an appetizer, we got calamari, which was good. For my entree, I couldn't decide what to get. Luckily for me, they have a "Captain's Platter", which their menu starts describing as "Can't decide? Well then have it all! Fried shrimp, scallops, catfish filet, stuffed crab, french fries, hushpuppies, and garlic toast." I got the Captain's Platter, and Christ, it was a lot of food and it was all fried (except for the toast). It was good and plentiful and all, but man, fried-ness overload.



Carraba's
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

38

Carraba's

6406 N. I-H 35
Austin, Texas 78752
(512) 419-1220

Head Public Restaurant Critic

5/15/2008

Good

I didn't know what a Carraba's was until I went there for the first time a couple of days ago, and it turns out Carraba's is a rustic Italian restaurant chain. The Carraba's I visited was part of a strip mall, so that kind of tarnished my initial impression of the restaurant, but as I walked in I was surprised to enter a dark-lit, causal, kind of cozy (with all of the soft light and wood tables and a bunch of stuff all around, cluttered sort of) atmosphere, which wasn't what I was expecting going in. As my party and I walked in, there were ten or so employees all standing by the hostess's podium all greeting us at the same time, which was kind of weird.

Food-wise, I was kind of impressed. Looking at their menu, I didn't know what some of the stuff was because I'm neither Italian nor have been around Italian culture at all, so it was kind of tough to decide what I wanted to eat. I ended up with grilled chicken stuffed with some sort of cheese and some sort of ham, which was quite good. For the side item, I have no clue what I ordered (the waiter said it was good, so I tried it), but it involved noodles that were kind of like long macaroni with some sort of tomato based topping with herbs and other good stuff thrown in. And it was all quite good. My one regret is that I had a choice between salad or soup -- I got the caesar salad, but some of other party members got the house salad, which looked a whole lot better than my caesar salad once they arrived at our tables.

The food was good, but the service was a little weird. Like I said earlier, we were greeted by 10 or so employees upon entering, and add to that the fact that our waiter was a bit weird. Every time our waiter came by our table, he was in a different mood, which is hard to describe, but take my word for it, it was a bit weird.

But overall, a pretty good place.


Casa Grande
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

32

Casa Grande

ADDRESS TO BE DETERMINED (I couldn't find it online, my bad)

Head Public Restaurant Critic

4/28/2008
4/29/2008
4/30/2008

Good

I just found this new taqueria inside a Mexican meat market/grocery store and it rocks. The food is great, although if you're going to get barbacoa, you want to get it early in the day rather than later as it tends to dry out sitting there under the heat lamp.

I've visited this place three times in as many days, which is saying something. The first two times I got tacos, and on the last visit got a barbacoa plate. The food is really good, with comparable prices. Also good are their sauces, which they give you plenty of with your tacos/plates -- one is a chipotle-mayo sauce and the other one is green, which I didn't try, but the chipotle-mayo sauce rocks.

Overall, it's a really good place to get tacos.

First Visit

Second Visit

Third Visit

Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

32-a

Casa Grande

5811 Berkman Dr
Austin, TX 78723
(512) 928-3811

Head Public Restaurant Critic

5/16/2009

Good

I braved the pouring rain to get some tacos. I got two cabrito and one carnitas. They were pretty good and hit the mark -- they didn't solve world hunger, but they definitely solved my hunger.


Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

32-b

Casa Grande

5811 Berkman Dr
Austin, TX 78723br> (512) 928-3811

Head Public Restaurant Critic

3/13/2010

Good

Woke up hungover, was hungry, and decided tacos were the cure. Went to Casa Grande, got a pastor taco, carnitas taco, and a coke (Mexican-style, in a bottle (with real sugar cane I believe)). Anyway, this meal was a winner. The pastor taco came with pineapple, which was cool.


Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

32-c

Casa Grande

5811 Berkman Dr
Austin, Tx 78723
(512) 928-3811

Head Public Restaurant Critic

3/27/2010

Good

Woke up hungover and wanted some tacos. I got an al pastor taco (which comes with pineapple) and a carnitas taco. I also got these tacos the last time I visited this place, but for some reason, it seemed like these tacos had more filling, with is nice. Anyway, the tacos and a Mexican Coca-Cola hit the spot.


Cheesecake Factory
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

70

Cheesecake Factory

10000 Research Blvd Suite 4602
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 241-0777

Head Public Restaurant Critic

10/17/2008

Satisfactory

So I went to a Cheesecake Factory recently for the first time and I did not like it too much -- I even got a sinking feeling before I went to the restaurant that I would not like it.

First of all, 'Cheesecake Factory' is a stupid name for a restaurant. When I go to a restaurant, one of the last things I want to think of is 'factory' because it gives the connotation that the restaurant is just pumping out food with no care or individual attention.

When I got to the restaurant, I must admit I was impressed by the architecture and decor of the building. It was nice, almost high class, occasionally lush. And I continued to be impressed as we were sat (after a long wait, but it was a busy Friday evening on our visit) and served some good dinner bread while my party and I perused the menu, which was when my dread of the restaurant creeped back into me.

Looking at the menu, I was impressed by how many dishes they offered, serving everything from Italian pastas to burgers to Oriental food, which for me was not a good sign. When I go to a restaurant I like to know that they specialize in one type of cooking, so when I see a huge menu like Cheesecake Factory's I get a little worried that because they are so varied the quality of the food is going to suffer.

I ended up deciding on the 'Bistro Shrimp Pasta' to eat because I thought it would be good, but it wasn't. Cheesecake Factory's menu describes the dish as "crispy battered shrimp, fresh mushrooms, fresh tomato and arugula tossed with spaghettini and a delicious basil-garlic-lemon cream sauce", which sounds good and all, but I didn't realize that the breading of the shrimp would come off and contaminate the pasta. Towards the end of my meal I was basically just eating pasta and fried bread, which is not a good taste nor texture, so my dish kind of self destructed on me.

Overall, Cheesecake Factory was alright. What's weird is that everybody I talk to seems to love Cheesecake Factory and they are surprised when I tell them that I didn't think much of the restaurant. Oh well.

And no, I did not have any cheesecake.



Chili's
Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

17

Chili's

4420 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78756-3423
(512) 420-8353

Head Public Restaurant Critic

3/9/2008

Satisfactory

I normally donít like places like ĎChiliísí or ĎApplebeeísí or ĎTGI Fridaysí Ė they present themselves as trying too hard to be the modern American diner. All of these franchises have stupid crap on the walls that is supposed to give the restaurants a sense of history that is steeped in American lore and culture, but itís just a bunch of random crap they put up to decorate the place, like sign posts or pictures of old actors Ė I honestly donít know what all these decorations are meant to add to the dining experience besides affording something to look at or to discuss the stupidity of with your dinner-mates.

That said, Iím pretty adverse to restaurants like Chiliís, but I ended up going there with a group of friends because three of us (out of five) had Chiliís gift cards that we needed to redeem. I had the chicken fried steak, only because it reheats well. That about sums up my Chiliís experience. Itís not a Ďbadí place, but itís not necessarily a Ďgoodí place either.

Two things to note about Chiliís. One, you can order a bottomless (e.g., endless refills) bowl of chips and salsa for $5 Ė I propose someone organize a large gathering of people to fill up a Chiliís restaurant at their peak hour and just order the bottomless bowl of chips and salsa and sit there for two hours.

Second, one of my friends ordered a ĎNacho Burgerí Ė itís not on the menu (presently), but my friend was positive that it used to be on the menu; either way, he said that at all of the Chiliísí he has been to all of the cooks have known how to cook this particular burger. So he ordered a ĎNacho Burgerí, but the waitress had to have him explain what a ĎNacho Burgerí was so that that way the cooks could get it right Ė my friend said it had nacho cheese and tortilla crisps as part of the burger. And sure enough, he got a ĎNacho Burgerí. I donít know if the cooks there really knew how to make it, or if they were just following the information the waitress had gotten off of my friend as to what exactly a ĎNacho Burgerí is, but either way, the important part is that you can potentially go to any Chiliís and order whatever you want, whether itís on the menu or not. I think we should all start doing this, although I donít think Chiliís marketing and research teams would like it, to essentially have their carefully planned and balanced (e.g., boring) menu totally usurped by the whims and will of a hungry populace.

Some Random Poster that was on a Wall

Review #

Restaurant

Location

Reviewer

Date

Rating

17-a

Chili's

4420 North Lamar Blvd
Austin, Texas 78756-3423
(512) 420-8353

Head Public Restaurant Critic

4/21/2008

Satisfactory

I went to pick up food from Chili's recently only because I had a Chili's giftcard with a few bucks left on it. I got a bleu cheese bacon burger which came with a side of fries -- it was alright. I would have ordered a chicken fried steak, something that would last me two meals with great re-heatability, but I could not find it on their online menu. As such, I settled for the bleu cheese bacon burger, which I ordered medium but found it to be close to well done when I finally dug into it at my house after having to go pick it up from the restaurant.

One thing to note about the Chili's I went to was their bar area, where there were a few middle aged men, all sitting by themselves, not together, drinking beer in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I found it just a little bit creepy and a tad sad. If I were a middle aged man that wanted to drink beer in the middle of a weekday afternoon, there are a lot of better places I would prefer to get my drink on than at a Chili's restaurant -- I would do it at a real bar.



Contact: HeadPublicRestaurantCritic AT gmail DOT com