Friday, August 23, 2013

Lee's on 14th

Don't worry, we are still alive. We still eat food, but it's usually microwaved or served in a white paper bag. Our weights our down, but our cholesterol and BP are through the roof. Truthfully, Richie has been to a lot of delicious food places lately, but refuses to write a blog, so I had to wait until we actually went somewhere together.

Holes in the wall (hole in the walls?) aren't easy to visit when your child is a picky eater who despises high chairs. So we finally decided to leave her in the car while we ate and got lunch at Lee's on 14th. (Is she joking?)


Photo from Road Tips       < Check out his blog!

Lee's used to be a little joint called the Waffle House, but not affiliated with the amazing chain. It reopened with new owners and the new name in 2010. They are only open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. You pretty much have to be old or jobless to eat there.

The place is very small but well lit and clean. It can get a little warm in there with all of the cooking going on, but a fan created a nice tropical breeze. We sat at the counter and perused their one page lunch menu.

It is a typical diner menu with grilled sandwich baskets, a couple of cold options, and fries for the side. Richie, of course, had to conquer the cheeseburger basket. Their single burgers are 11 ounces of beef, so only the truly brave and noble should try the double. Being neither, he opted for the single.

 I ordered the grilled tenderloin with a side of cheese fries. I am on a mission to find the best grilled tenderloin in the QCA. Stay tuned.

The cook is in full view of the counter, so we sat mesmerized while he prepared our meals. Let me set the scene for you.
A young rugged man wearing a black t shirt and cargo shorts emerged from the steam carrying a giant burger patty and slapped it hard on the grill. Then he grabbed my loin, gently laid it out, and covered it with a press. Getting hot yet?
Next he snatched a bag of crinkle cut french fries from the freezer and cast them into the sizzling fryer. I spent the next five minutes eye stalking my pork and thoroughly creeping out the cook. Nonetheless, our food was promptly delivered to the counter and to our mouths.

My tenderloin was BIG. I finished about 3/4 of it, sans bun. It was juicy and topped with God's gift to the sandwich... pickles. The crinkle cut fries were cooked perfectly, a delicious potato pillow wrapped in a crispy case. The melted cheese was the golden icing on the cake.

Richie describes his colossal burger as juicy and flavorful, despite only being comprised of beef, salt, and pepper. The bun was also it should have been... I saw the cook slather about half a stick of butter on that thing. 

It was so huge, he was barely able to finish.

I'm sure that, on a better day, he could conquer the double. Like maybe on a day he exercises. J/K! Richie doesn't exercise.

Lee's on 14th is definitely where all the cool cats hang out during the day. The food is good, price is fair, atmosphere is homey, and service is stellar. My tenderloin was filling and satisfying, but I still think 11th Street's was a God send. Burger aficianados should definitely check out this cracker box short order diner, as it is in the running for best burger in the QC (according to Richie).

CLICK HERE for another review from Road Tips and HERE for a similar tenderloin quest.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bandana's Bar-B-Q

After running a race in Marion, I was famished and craving something filling, so we stopped at Bandana's Bar-B-Q in Coralville.  I was unaware this was a chain until I googled them today, but apparently they have about 30 restaurants sprinkled throughout the Midwest.  Bandana's first opened in Missouri in 1996.  They use a real wood pit smoker that is smokin 24 hours a day.  The meats smoke for 11-14 hours before they're ready for their adoring fans. 

The decor has a fake rustic feel, like eating in a really clean poorly lit barn.  I was craving a diet Coke, but the server informed me they only had Pepsi products and sweet tea.  .  I had water.
The menu is quite extensive and includes calorie counts on each platter. Seems like a good way to lose business. The barbecue nacho appetizer was enticing until I peeked at the gluttonous calorie count. Yikes. Of course men don't worry about such things, I doubt it even registered with Richie. I don't know who thought "Wet Bandana" was a good name for a barbecue plate, it sounds like a term straight from Urban Dictionary, but I ordered one anyway. It's a jumble of turkey and chicken steeped in spicy sauce.
The lunch plate came with one side, so I chose my favorite green legumes. Richie struggled with his choice and eventually decided upon the pulled pork sandwich, cloaked with coleslaw, and a side of baked beans.
Scarlett chose to eat crayons and two Tootsie Pops, but we also ordered Beans and Weenies for her amusement. See? Amusing.
Apparently it was too cute to eat.

 My food was eaten in such haste, I barely remember my nose running from the spicy barbecue sauce slathered on top. The turkey was juicy and the chicken was pretty moist as well. The green beans needed more meat. Literally. I want mine coated with bacon grease.

 Richie fell in love with the vinegar based Carolina-style sauce that had quite a zip to it, but determined the pork was a tad on the dry side. He was also unimpressed by the baked beans, which is no surprise to anyone who has tasted his homemade brown sugar loaded version. For a barbecue chain, Bandana's is certainly a step above the rest. The meat has a good smoky flavor, but seems to be missing some of the love you'll find at smaller bbq joints. Nonetheless, it will satisfy your hankering for smoked meats and thousands of calories.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Which Wich

Finally rolling out a new blog post.  Taking a one year old out to eat isn't exactly a barrel of fun.  Who knew?

This past weekend we headed west to Hawkeye country for an overnight stay in Coralville, Iowa.  Desperate for food on a busy Friday night, we finally ended up stopping at a strip mall in a mall parking lot.  I had heard of the chain Which Wich, but again, this one is slow to expand in Iowa, so it's new to us.
 What makes Which Wich different from any other sandwich place?  Well it doesn't smell like a boy's locker room.  It also lets you customize your sandwich in a variety of ways by marking your choices on a paper bag into which your sandwich will delicately be placed.  As someone who likes a weird combination of tastes that could cause the snotty food workers to give me a stink eye, I liked the anonymity of the bag.  They do ask you to write your name, but you could write any version of the Seymour Butts gag if you choose. Which wich also has a lot more options than your average sandwich joint, hence the "no holding up the line" paper bag trick.
 After marking our choices, we grabbed a table and waited for our big Come on down! moment.  Richie got called first so he grabbed his Wicked Wich and got to munching.  The Wicked is a 5 meat monstrosity that includes 3 cheeses to really get your heart pumping and failing.  He also asked for horseradish, crispy onion thingys, and a kitchen sink.

My tame looking salad came out next, just the way I asked.  Double the ham, scrambled eggs, feta cheese, and yellow mustard.  Chef don't judge.
 Red has a pretty limited taste palate, so we hoped pizzawich minus the crusts would satisfy. It did. 

Which Wich was created by a veteran in the food business who was burnt out on the quality and lack of variety in quick service sandwich shops.  I would say he did a great job of improving the food and atmosphere.  The food costs a little more than your 5 dollar footlong, but it's worth bypassing the slimy meats and tasteless cheeses.  If you happen upon a Which Wich, stop by for a brown bagged treat. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sunshine Family Restaurant

On a freezing cold day in Iowa, there's really not much to do, except maybe clean your house, but who does that? Certainly not me. We decided to head North to Dubuque to visit an aquarium. But this is Iowa, so it was just filled with big ugly suckers like gar and catfish. To make up for the less than impressive aquatic displays, we decided to stop for a hearty meal. We settled on the closest place that served breakfast food.

Sunshine Family Restaurant is located in an old building on a tiny corner in downtown Dubuque. The history of the restaurant is printed on the menus but did I think to take a photo of it? Nope. It has had many different names over the years but, as I recall, it has always been a family restaurant. The restaurant has an open floor plan with booths along the walls, tables in the center, register up front, and closed off kitchen. The decor is retro, but not really in a cool way. It seems stuck in the early 80s, but at least it was clean and comfortable.

 Clearly we were moving in this pic

The menu resembled a short novel. I found the breakfast chapter and settled in. The waitress was very prompt, so I panicked and chose the meat lovers skillet, which was a good choice in the end. Richie asked for his current food infatuation, the corned beef and hash. We ordered a burger for the offspring whose tastes seem to be a perfect blend of both of us, eating only red meat and sugar. Our food came out blazing fast, which is a huge plus when you have a toddler with limitless energy

The skillet a lovely nest of freshly shredded hash browns mingling with the three little piggies, bacon, ham, and sausage. A light blanket of scrambled eggs laid on top. The meal came with a side of toast and cost less than 6 dollars.

Richie's plate could barely contain the mountain of hash and more than generous serving of potatoes.

Red's hamburger came on a soft bun and heap of thick cut french fries.

 Swimming always leaves me famished and just watching those fish must have had the same effect. We threw the food down our throats like it was our last meal.

Sunshine was the perfect place for these two breakfast loving bodies. The food left our bellies full and warm on that chilly Sunday. Hours: 6 am-9 pm daily Partial Menu