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.