Restaurant Chain Reviews Ihop

The last time my friend Sean convinced me to go to a restaurant it was the worse experience of my life.  We met there and he said he wasn’t hungry. I ordered. He got away scot free, leaving me sitting there like Michael Hutchence, hanging from a wardrobe door, fisting myself with an orange in my mouth and bulldog clips on my bollocks. Yes it was that bad.

So. when IHOP was mentioned I wasn’t too keen.  Maybe it was helped by low expectations but this was a great meal for an incredible price.

You won’t be ordering Coq au Vin here as this is all good solid American food. It is also good solid American food done very well!

The staff were also brilliant and very friendly. My waitress was so beautiful my head nearly fell off when I saw her. I still pack a rod every time I think about her!

Not wanting to digress too much, hot totty isn’t the only reason to visit a restaurant, but this was up there with Hooters in terms of enjoyment from the staff. Apart from one guy called Mike, who looked like he spent his time consuming IHOP’s spare stock when he should have been dealing with personal hygiene issues.

The coffee was pretty good too. For all the new coffee shops popping up with excitingly named types of coffee nothing tastes as good as a well done plain coffee from IHOP.

I also like this place as it was in the film I Am Sam. This is a great film for showing chicks how sensitive you are. Michelle Pfieffer is also in prime MILF mode throughout this.  AND….. it’s a good reason to suggest a meal at IHOP which is far cheaper than the usual up market restaurant you take women to too impress.

On a final note i would like to comment on the bathroom facilities.  They were plain but clean. Clean toilets are vital and makes me think that the food didnt give too many customers the trots which, practical jokes aside. is a key feature in restaurants I like to frequent.

So in summary, IHOP has a new fan in me and I’ll be going again. This, I feel I should point out, is not down to the smoking hot chicks they employ but the nice food. pleasant staff and clean bathroom facilities.

Chain Restaurant Reviews Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is a combination restaurant/store. When you walk into the door, you first see the store and all of the merchandise. Here, you will be met by beautiful items that tempt you to buy them. Jewelry, clothing, and country preserved foods await you, calling to your inner-most senses. 

Just scan the products for now, you can think of them while you eat and pay closer attention when you head to the door. Pass the goods and the checkout counter where many other trinkets are shown, heading on through the door to the restaurant. Once you walk into the restaurant, you will see rustic seating and tables that take you into another place besides the city you were in before you arrived.

The food in this eatery is prepared beautifully, yet simply. Dishes and silverware show simplicity like many would expect to have had if living perhaps fifty years ago. The service is excellent and the staff members are extremely friendly. The décor is completely country influenced. You will be surrounded by country scenes in pictures, shelves full of country items and older ideas of lighting.

Waitresses move through the wide aisles between tables and chairs that are well spaced. Families can speak with one another easily, but you can also say hello to someone you know. You will never feel you are disturbing anyone at the next table. The entire experience seems like a family reunion.

Cracker Barrel says right on their menu that everything is “made from scratch.”  They are not bragging when they suggest you will absolutely love their country style take on all foods. Breakfasts are the epitome of your grandmother’s farm morning meals. Steak, pork chops and meatloaf are ready for lunch or dinner. Add to this a hearty salad and/or any of the country vegetables, along with a roll and maybe dessert. You will be truly gratified with your visit.

Drink a couple of glasses of iced tea with your meal, and you are ready to start in on the store. You have thought about it long enough. Quaint country rocking chairs beckon you to try them out. Ottomans, shelving units and end tables are right there with the rockers and would look great in your home or on a sheltered patio.

Cracker Barrel continues the country theme with country-style dinner and cookware to take home. Coffee cups that expound the country style always look great in any surroundings. A beautiful cast-iron Dutch oven would look perfect on your stove, whatever age the rest of your kitchen. Don’t despair, there is much more to see. 

Clothing and jewelry such as blouses, dresses, necklaces, wallets and earrings for women rival anything you might find as a souvenir on vacation elsewhere. Men can buy great hats and ties that show their dedication to other state’s football teams. They can even buy Oklahoma Sooners merchandise in Texas and no one will look down at them. If you already know about this rivalry, it can shock you that these purchases are this easy.

Step over to the foods section and pick up such country favorites as cornbread mixes, apple butter and peppermint sticks to take home. Chow-chow and blackberry cobbler mixes summon you to them next. It’s hard to say goodbye, but you do have to go home at some time. Don’t worry—you can return whenever you want. Cracker Barrel awaits you in many locations.

Restaurant Chain Reviews Jimmy Johns

Jimmy John’s (JJ) is a sandwich shop founded in 1983 in Charleston, Illinois, USA near the campus of Eastern Illinois University, by entrepreneur, Jimmy John Liautaud.  Specializing in “gourmet” sub and club sandwiches, the chains most recognized tag line is “really fast delivery”.

In store ordering is also fast and cheerful.  Sandwich makers team up to make the delicious sandwiches. From the Pepe sub (applewood smoked ham, provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato) to the Ultimate Porker club (applewood smoked ham and bacon with lettuce and tomato), all are delivered to customers quickly with the freshest of ingredients.

My guests and I visited a JJ’s in the Chicago area, hungry for a satisfying sandwich, chips and soda – a great lunch. I ordered the Vito which is an original Italian sub containing Genoa salami, provolone cheese, capicola, onion, lettuce, and tomato topped with Italian vinaigrette. The fresh baked bread this hearty offering is served on makes the sandwich.

One guest ordered the “Slim” version of this sandwich, which contains the same delicious meat and cheese sans the veggies and vinaigrette.  This guy wolfed it down before my other guest and I had our sandwich half eaten.  Prone to understatement, he remarked, “It was good”.

My other guest ordered the JJ B.L.T., which of course is a traditional bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, served on Jimmy John’s fresh baked sub bread spread with mayo.  She stated, “This is awesome”, between bites.

Our entire party enjoyed sodas and JJ’s gourmet jalapeno chips.  We all enjoy a little kick to our meals.  The chips were in fact, gourmet.  Cooked in 100% peanut oil they are a crisp, mouth-watering pleasure.  The delicious chips compliment the sandwiches extremely well.  Other chip varieties include regular, reduced Fat, salt & vinegar, and BBQ.  Other patrons we queried indicated that they were some of the very best they have had.

The JJ’s outlet we visited was clean and comfortable.  Ambiance was sharp and professional.  The service was swift and gracious coupled with a menu that is simple and straightforward.

Well known for their speedy delivery, consumers should add an extra dollar for each menu item served for the charge.  Jimmy John’s also offers catering and franchise opportunities are available for those seeking to offer a great meal in their community.  The website is

When hunger strikes, consider Jimmy John’s for its sumptuous sandwiches to fill your tummy.  All in our party agreed, on a scale of five for sandwiches, Jimmy Johns gets the highest rating, five.

Gourmet Diner Food

With a name like Standard Diner,  you almost expect the fare to be standard. Well hold onto your hats, this is not your mama’s diner. Once you have taken a look at their menu, you will understand why customers recommended that Guy Fieri come here and feature them on his Food Network show,  Diner, Drivers and Dives. He did just that in February 2009 and a very popular place became even more popular. There is a clip of his visit on the diner website.

The interior is pretty much what one would expect of an upscale and modern diner. It’s bright and airy and there are plenty of booths but also tables.  Our visit, during the Balloon Festival in October was with a large group and we were accommodated easily.

Because we were a large group we started with a variety of appetizers that we shared. The brie appetizer is everything that a cheese lover could want. The brie is melty and there is an apple and cinnamon compote that accompanies it. I was reluctant to share I am sad to admit, yes I would order it for myself if I am ever here again.

The menu is not oversized as it is at some diners. It is obvious that they want to concentrate on quality over quantity. It isn’t only  the standard diner food either e with offerings like tuna and quinoa. There are however, some updated diner meals that will please even the most finicky diner.

With a group the size that we were, it is not surprising that there were a wide variety of entrees chosen. Of course the meatloaf for which they are famous was ordered; personally I chose the chicken fried steak. The person next to me order the quinoa which came stuffed into a squash. When I saw it, I wished I had ordered that as well. Not that my chicken fried steak wasn’t huge and very tasty, it was but I was a bit disappointed by the sparseness  of the gravy which is so iconic to this meal.  Less fattening to be sure but also less of a comfort food than perhaps I could have wished.  The steak itself was perfectly cooked and had a wonderful golden crust and was seated on top of the mashed potatoes with tasty asparagus spears on the side.

When offered a taste of the meatloaf I jumped at the chance. The meatloaf itself is chunky with peppers and onions and the bacon adds great flavor and additional moisture. It was comfort food at its best.  I also tasted the tuna, cooked rare and it was a first for me and I was amazed at both the taste and the texture which were lovely.

The portions here are diner size, we all wished we were locals who could have taken our leftovers home with us. Unfortunately, we had no fridge in our hotel rooms.

After a meal of this size, it is no surprise that among the desserts  they offer are ones in a shot glass. These are the perfect size for getting a taste of what they offer without having to eat a full sized or over- sized dessert.

I have to give them two thumbs up; the food is reasonably priced, very tasty and plentiful. Service is attentive and the atmosphere is comfortable. It is a place where you can take the kids but it isn’t a bad place for a date night either.

Restaurant Celebration Meetings Unemployment Recession Birthday Diner Budget Cash Money

If you are trying to save money it does not have to mean that you give up going out for a meal or two; it just means you have to get a little creative to make your dollars go further. 

Eating at restaurants has become an ingrained ritual in our culture. All of our good or bad experiences are usually followed up with a meal out somewhere with friends and family at our latest favorite dining establishment. Or sometimes it is just because the new place on the corner opened up and we want to try it out right away! So, part of our dining out experience is social and part of it is for the food we love to eat. But in recent times we have all been trying to stretch our dollars further and going out for dinner or lunch is one of the places we can get creative and save some precious dough (pun intended). 

Here are some points to ponder when making your choices: 

Just like the sage advice of having a snack or meal before you go do your food shopping, you could also go to the restaurant with regular hunger and not ravenous starvation. Usually when we plan our favorite meals out; we make room for “enough food for a small army” but we don’t have to do that, we can still have our favorites without ordering half the menu and regretting it when the bill comes. Also, that means we can frequent our favorite places more often and not deprive ourselves with the binge and purge method of dining. 

Alcohol, specialized coffees and drinks, desserts (unless you are going out for dessert) or any specialty items are going to break the bank if you are not careful. Again, if you are specifically going out to have these items then so be it; but know going in that the marketing professionals have marked these items higher because they are usually impulse purchases. Just be clear on getting more value for whatever you have in your budget. 

Knowing when to say no is crucial because every time you get with different people they are always going to suggest to meet them at the corner diner or the steak house on the east side of town. Pretty soon you have eaten out in restaurants 12 times this week and it’s only Wednesday! Choose your social occasions wisely or ask your people to join you at your house for a barbeque once a week. You can also set up a system where you all order a certain dish or food and split it up so you can get variety and also save cash. 

To go completely cold turkey and not dine out would probably throw me into shock mode; so I have had to come up with these ideas so I can still enjoy my meals without any remorse when I do my checkbook!

Posted in Dining and Restaurants | Comments Off on Restaurant Celebration Meetings Unemployment Recession Birthday Diner Budget Cash Money

Saving every Penny to Dine out

Take it from someone who learned very quickly how to survive on a small budget and still have fun with my family.  Its hard to tell a child no mommy and daddy dont have the money to go to McDonalds today.  So here are my tips to those  moms who have to save every penny.

1.  KIDS EAT FREE- Check out your local restaurants to see when they offer kids eat free nights.  Right there saves a family with kids, because realistically most kids dont eat all there food so why should you end up paying for it. 

2. BUFFET- Buffet are great, especially when you have children going through growth spurts.  Its hard to tell how much they are going to eat from one day to the next  a buffet gives you great options to make sure there is always enough food.

3. COUPONS- since the economy is down business are advertising and offering coupons to get people to spend that last bit of money.  So  grab a local paper or a computer and find those buy one get one free….etc coupons and treat the whole family for a fun night.

4. SHARING A MEAL- A lot of restaurants entrees are more than enough food for one person, so if you know you are not hungry enough to eat it all see about splitting an entree with someone else to save the extra money.  It may seem strange but more people do it than you think.

5. PICK UP- Instead of ordering delivery when you are craving that greasy delicious pizza, make the order for take out and go pick it up, you will save on a tip and that sneaky delivery charge that most places have.

6. SAVE YOUR CHANGE- get a jar or vase or container and save those pennys nickels dimes and quarters, they add up and some banks are allowing you to deposit bags of coins into your account with little to no charge.  So save for a month and then treat your family to a nice meal.

When it comes to eating out you, even though you cant afford it, its nice to have that treat every once in a while.  So use these tips and any more you can think of and save away.  Your family will love it that they get those extra treats.

Rockland is a Dining Mecca

Café Miranda celebrated its 20th anniversary on June 9, 2013. In the restaurant business, that is an amazing milestone. Kerry Altiero, the chef/owner of Café Miranda was named the Maine lobster chef of the year for 2012/2013 at Portland’s Harvest on the Harbor Festival in October 2012. When you consider the competition, this was no small accomplishment. Having met Kerry, you completely understand the philosophy of Café Miranda. Why does he cook the dishes he does? Because he can!

The building that houses the bistro is historic and they have the oldest continually operating wood fired oven in the state of Maine. There is seating for over 40 inside the restaurant and also outdoor seasonal dining.

This bistro is not just for special occasions, it’s the place you go to every week whether you are taking the family or having a date night. The interior décor is an eclectic combination of 50’s diner and Kerry’s collection of photos and stuff. The Elvis bathroom is a destination on its own and I don’t want to ruin the surprise by divulging too much.

The dishes offered at Café Miranda are created from as much locally sourced produce and protein as possible. Kerry grows much of the greens that he serves on his farm and the amount of different produce that he is growing along with his head gardener, Anne, is increasing all the time. There are plans for fruits and decorative flowers as well.

We had dinner with Kerry on Saturday June 8, 2013. When requested, he picked the food that we sampled. We began with 5 appetizers which were shared. Deconstructed nachos were exactly what they sound like, 4 cheeses and black beans were baked with poblano and jalapeno peppers and the tortilla chips which were dashed with lime and served with salsa on the side.  You really need to share this; it is way more than one person could ever eat.   The “Hummus Goes To Italy” was addictive but my favorite was the Curry Calamari. The red Thai curry sauce was some of the best I have ever tasted.

The 50 M.P.H. Tomatoes were dredged in corn meal, pan fried and served with a spicy ranch dressing. These were my husband’s favorite. They were reminiscent of fried green tomatoes like you find in the south. The most unusual thing we tried was “I Dreamt of Jerry”. This dish consists of grilled ground natural beef tossed w/creamy blue cheese dressing, pickled banana & roasted sweet red peppers, basil, red onions and parsley.  It was served in a large bowl. Jerry is a former employee who has lent his name to several dishes all of which have a fair bit of spice and  blue cheese dressing.

The amazing thing about Café Miranda is the variety of ethnic food they serve. You can go in and eat Mexican, Thai, Italian and several other types of ethic food but if you want good old American comfort food, it is there too. In the words of Kerry, “We feed you, not fool you.” In Rockland, you can count on receiving HIP service, honesty, integrity and performance. Kerry and his employees are passionate about what they do and you can taste that in every bite.

Beyond the small plates we also tried scallops, homemade spaghetti and meatballs (which are a recipe that comes from Kerry’s grandmother and has never been changed) and Gnu Dish which was absolutely amazing. The menu is huge and you may ask yourself if they really can do all of these dishes well. After having tried a good number of them I can answer with a resounding yes. One really good thing about this bistro is that no dish ever goes away forever; they go on vacation, especially if they are seasonal but they will be back when the time is right.

If you are visiting Rockland you have to try Café Miranda. Trust me on this, not only will you find something you like; you may just have to move to the area so you can continue to get your new favorite dish.