2017-07-29 It’s a Doozie.. 1.5

Yesterday I had plans to take the kids to go have lunch with my Dad and his wife and they live across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I let them pick the place and of course, they pick someplace in Council Bluffs because for some reason they rarely come across to this side of the river for anything. They picked a place that I guess is relatively new down in the Manawa lake area called Doozies. I had not heard of it before and had no idea what to expect.

When we arrived, which was about 1:20 in the afternoon well past a typical lunch rush we were surprised to walk in and find the three or four booths they had inside already occupied. Well, there was one “three quarter” bench right by the door with no one at it but the table was clearly dirty. The kids sat down there while I stood by the wall to look at the menu. It’s one of those places you order at the counter and they bring your food to you.

I was pleased to find that besides ice-cream being their main go-to, they also had cheeseburgers and sandwiches and fries and the like. There was one gal sort of rushing around in a very stressed out way cleaning off a high chair and I let her know about the dirty table and she said she was getting to that next.

Z elected to get the chicken strip basket, C had a grill-cheese basket, and I of course ordered a single cheeseburger, no basket). It was the same gal at the counter who took our order and she again seemed a little put off. The place started to fill up behind us and the kids went outside to a larger umbrella table that would accommodate all five of us.

My dad and his wife were a touch late but it was OK because it took a long time for our food to come out and by the time it did, all of the tables outside had filled up too. I was shocked to see such a crowd in the middle of the afternoon on a Friday, but perhaps that meant it was a place worth coming to. Sadly that was not the case.

The food was sub-par. The burger I ordered was not good and the kids did not seem to care for theirs either. The fries were greasy and limp. The burger was completely underwhelming. Nothing special about any of it. It was like they went to the grocery and got all the right ingredients, but somehow it just didn’t come together.

It was a 1/3 pound lifeless patty probably fried up on a flat-iron and devoid of any seasonings. It was done well through and piled with tomato, cheese, pickle, and onion, which also seemed to be void of flavor. I mean, pickles and onions have a distinct flavor but I couldn’t taste it. Z had a side of ranch for her chicken strips which the stressed-out lady at the counter made me choose and so I ended up dipping the burger in that which had at least some flavor.

In all fairness, I ordered it without the “Doozie” sauce which I guess is a catsup/mayo combo or something, so perhaps that would have been better but I don’t like catsup or mayo. I would say the next time I will try it, but I am never going back.

At one point my Dad’s wife made a comment about “this place affecting Cristy Creme’s business”. In my head I’m thinking, this place can’t touch Cristy Creme, but I kept that one to myself. Now that the idea is in my head, we might just have to do that one next time we are back in CB.

Anyway, Z refused to eat her chicken fingers after the first couple of bites and told me in the car on the way home she found several hairs in her food. C ate all of his grilled cheese, but as usual had nothing to say about it. Neither one of them even made a dent in their fries which makes a statement as well.

When we were on vacation we went to that really terrible burger place in a town just off the coast and I didn’t write a review of it because I felt it wasn’t worth it, but I’ve now decided that I should take the time to hash over the bad as well as the good in order to properly fill out the scale of possibilities. Considering the food, and the place, and the service, I would probably only go as high as 1.5 on this one.

My grand recommendation for Doozies is to stick with the ice cream. We did not have any, but it most certainly has to be better than their food (and it is tough to server bad ice cream).

One and Done,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-23 The Mantra Cheeseburger.. 3.5

There’s this restaurant on Maple street I’ve driven past dozens of times before. They have a tree out front that is artificial and lights up year round (not a Christmas tree). I’ve never looked up the name or thought to stop before to see what it was like, even though I have thought about it. Last night that is where my date suggested we go for dinner.

When he suggested it, I googled the place and looked at their menu and it reminded me of more of an upscale bar and grill. I mean anyplace that has crab cakes and escargot on their app menu isn’t just your average hole-in-the-wall bar. I was immediately challenged by the fact that they had both crab cakes and a cheeseburger on their menu and I have a rule about ordering both of those if they are offered. But of course I had to go with the Cheeseburger because that’s my thang.

My date asked me how adventurous I was about different food, and I said I wasn’t too adventurous but willing to try whatever so he ordered the escargot. I’ve had that one time before but this was smothered with butter and garlic and cheese and very tasty. It took the wait staff a long time to take our order because we were apparently enjoying ourselves so much with our drinks and conversation and the snails. Eventually I got around to ordering the “Mantra Burger” which is one “half pound” patty served on a pretzel bun with whatever extras you want on it plus a side of fries. I ordered it cooked medium with cheddar cheese.

First of all, there is no way the patty was 1/2 pound of beef, probably more like a quarter. Secondly, it was pretty flat and well done. Not a lot of juice. I had not had a pretzel bun before so that was different, but good and there could have been more cheese, but it was an acceptable amount. I put a few onions on as everything was on the side when it was served (I like tomato but always eat that separately). It came with some house made asian style bbq sauce which was also on the side and I actually liked that better then I thought I would.

The taste of the burger was OK. Not a lot of flavor to it without dipping in the sauce. It was good, but not great. My expectations were high and I was underwhelmed. I think I enjoyed the cocktail and the escargot much more than the burger, and that is making a statement. Still, it was not bad, so I would have to go middle of the road on this one and give it a 3.5.

I’d probably say the same thing about the date itself. I would see him again, but can’t see myself choosing that as my only meal for a long period of time. I would definitely go back to Mantra though but the next time I am going to try the crab cakes!

Cheers to Too Many Choices,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-14 PNW Day 4: I’ve Come a Long Way Baby…

… Literally. Yesterday I drove from Rockaway to Crescent City, Ca and what should have been a 6.5 hour drive took us 12 hours. We checked out of one motel at 11AM and checked into the next at 11PM. We made so many stops along the way. Some were good and some were bad, some were necessary and some were not. In the end, It was dark and I was sleepy and all I wanted to do was get to that dingy motel so I could sleep.

At dinner-time I got a craving for a cheeseburger and typed that into the GPS and ended up at a place called “Shake and Burger”. The service was the VERY WORST I have had in a long, long time. The burger was sub-par and the place was really kind of a dump. I’m not even going to dedicate an individual post to it because it was not even worthy (probably a 2 for the record – 1.5 if you factor in the service). I would have thought a place with “burger” in the name would hit at least a 3. Yowza.

Anyway, I did all that driving so I could wake up today and just zip down to the Redwood National Park and hike amongst the giant redwood trees. Sure enough, I was not one mile into the park on scenic 101 that I got that very goosebumps feeling that I get when something amazing is happening. I do love the Redwood forest. It’s just so awe-inspiring

I barely thought at all about the last time I was there, which was in 2012 with Matt. This is proof that either the Forests powers are just that strong or that I’m really starting to just be over him. Either way I have come a long way.

The plan was supposed to be that we would arrive in Seattle on Friday, but when we were still in California at about 2PM today, it was very clear that was not going to happen. I was already sick of driving after yesterday and could only take about 4 or 5 hours in the car today so we stopped in Eugene Oregon for the night. We will make it the rest of the way tomorrow.

On that note, I need a good night sleep to get me in better shape for tomorrow and the weekend. It is my turn to be solo in the bed (we’ve been taking turns sharing a bed).

Nighty-Night,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-13 Sand Dollar Sunset Cheeseburger.. 4.25

I ended up booking a hotel in Rockaway Oregon because there were no rooms in Manzanita. Insert super sad face here but it’s good because I need to learn to branch out and try new things. I am now glad that I did because if it went differently I never would have experienced the Sand Dollar Cheeseburger.

The kids and I checked into the Silver Sands Motel around 5:30 PM and they immediately put their swim suits on and headed for the pool. The motel offered an indoor pool and hot tub which is, I think, pretty rare for these beach town motels. The pool was OK, and after I surveyed that they would be safe there, I wandered up and down the beach a bit. We spent so much time at the first beach we went to, the kids had no interest in this one, but that’s OK.

Later as the sun started to set it was time to figure out the dinner situation. I made the kids eat a piece of fruit while we talked about it. All they really wanted was french fries and I was in no mood to argue about it so I said I would find a place and bring them back some. The lady at the motel desk recommended the Sand Dollar, which was a convenient two block walk away.

Just as I arrived the sun was very low and I opted to sit out on the patio and have my cheeseburger while the sun set. It was a very generous patty cooked medium at my request. And for the first time in a while, it was actually served medium like they knew what they were doing. I ordered just the basic burger which came with Tillamook cheddar cheese (of course), onion, tomato, and house aioli (no lettuce at my request). It was served on a fresh and tasty bun. I ordered it with fries, which were cooked to perfection and had some really nice seasoning.

The first thing I did was cut the burger in half because it was quite large and I was sure that was all I would be able to eat. It was juicy but not too juicy and the sauce was really good, but not overpowering. The flavor of the burger came through nicely. At some places all you can taste is the sauce or the bun or something else, but this was just right. It was the perfect proportion of all the ingredients.

The sun set while I was waiting for my food and the place closes at 9PM. I did not want to linger and overstay their hospitality for allowing me to order so late so I quickly finished my half burger and took the rest to-go with an extra side of fries for the kids.

When I arrived back at the motel, they were starving and it had only been about 15 minutes since I left the restaurant but I opted to eat the other half of the burger right then. It was so good. The kids did not care for the seasoning on the fries, but what do they know, they are just kids. 😛

I would highly recommend this restaurant, not just for the food, but also the friendly service and wonderful view. I give it a solid 4.25. My only other comment would be to arrive early enough that you relax on the patio and enjoy the view while you dine. I would definitely go there again.

Cheers,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-06-16 Lot 2 – Delayed Review.. 2.5

This one kinda makes me a little sad. I remember when I first had the Lot 2 cheeseburger a couple of years ago and thought it was the bomb. Something about the sauce and the way it was cooked. It was juicy and tasty and the fries and mustard dip were also amazing. But when I had it this week (and it has been quite a while since I have been to Lot 2), it was disappointing.

I went with my friend Amy earlier this week after seeing a show in Benson and so it was late and there were not a lot of people there. Our waiter was good-looking, and nice, and helpful. He was also patient while we deliberated over what drinks to order from the cocktail menu. I ordered the one with vodka as the base, since I’m a vodka girl and the name of it was something so appropriate, like “My own complication”. I don’t remember, I’ll have to call and ask because I remember thinking “That is so me”.

Unfortunately, the waiter and the cocktails were the highlight and perhaps the kale salad coming in third. The salad was exactly how I had remembered and aside from having too many capers, it was pretty delicious. The cheeseburger, as I eluded to, was not good.

The first time it came out, it was extremely rare. So rare, infant, that the bottom bun was literally soggy and smashed down flat to the plate. Totally gross. Since we split it, the first thing we did was cut it down the middle and knew immediately it was undercooked. We had asked for medium. I remember that place sort of undercooking before, slightly. Sort of like asking for medium and getting medium rare, but this was totally off.

We had it sent back and asked for a re-do. This is something I “rarely” do. Haha. When it came out the second time, it was like they over-compensated and it was now over-cooked. Not feeling into a three-peat, we went for it. The flavor was OK, but not as good as I remember and the bun to burger ratio was too high. There were bites that were only bun. I don’t remember the cheese situation (and that should always be memorable) and the other toppings, including the sauce, were also not noteworthy.

The fries were still pretty good, but by the time we were having them, they were not hot any longer and kind of limp.

With 3 being the middle of the 5 point scale, I have to come under that on this one and go with 2.5. Again, very disappointing, and that is totally a reflection of the cheeseburger itself and not the experience as a whole. I would definitely go back for more cocktails, the steak and frites main course, and another chat with that waiter. 😃

Check Please,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-05-12 Austin – The District Kitchen.. 3.5

On my first night in town Rebecca and I flew solo for a girls dinner out at a place called the District Kitchen, and I had (you can guess), a cheeseburger. It was a bison burger, seasoned and cooked really well with just a touch not enough white cheddar cheese. The fries were good and my only other complaint was that it was not big enough. 😃

According to the menu, the pickles are “house made”, the tomato was farm fresh, and the bun was fresh backed brioche. All of that did not seem to make a difference in the flavor and I would still go with a 3.5. Above average, but not extraordinary.

I’ve had bison a couple of times before and sometimes I can taste a difference in the meat and sometimes I can’t. This leads me to believe that either 1). Somebody’s supplementing their bison meat with cow or 2.) Not all bison are created equal. I also wonder a little bit about the process. I mean, there are tons of cattle ranches across the united states and it is a staple in the American diet. I don’t go hunting for information on it because I think the less I know about it the better. But Bison? That’s an animal that is more “rare” and people seek them out on vacations to national parks and they live on wildlife preserves. They are very wild animals and also known to be dangerous so it just does not seem like the kind of animal that would be on a “farm”. Again, I think the less I know the better, but I still kind of wonder.

At the District Kitchen we had the hummus and veggies and pita chips as an appetizer and I ordered a couple of drinks which went down really easy.

It was all very good but, again, I was not “wowed” by any of it. Truth be told, if I ever go back, I will probably try something else, in the interest of variety being the spice of life. But since my MO is to always default to the cheeseburger first, it had to be done.

One and Done,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-04-13 The VIC Experience.. 4.25

Last night I had dinner at the VI. For those who don’t know, the VI is the Village Inn. It’s an American food chain that is mainly in the midwest states in the United States but does reach as far east as Florida and Virginia and as far west as Oregon and Washington State (not to mention Guam and Alaska). They specialize in breakfast foods and pies, but also have a decent lunch and dinner menu as well. Including Cheeseburgers.

I discovered a few months back that the Cheeseburgers there are pretty top tier, so I thought since I am in the regular habit of describing my experiences in that regard, I would dedicate a blog post to giving the VI a review.

My selection of choice is the All American Cheeseburger. It’s a standard one patty burger on a grilled brioche bun with a selection of several different cheeses to choose from.

I’ve mentioned before that I would never make the mistake of not ordering the fries again because the combo isn’t really reviewable without the fries, but since I’ve had this meal with and without fries for the side like a dozen times, I don’t feel bad admitting that I did not get the fries. Not that they are not good, because they are awesome. I just choose a more healthy side because I know I can already vouch for the fries being delicious.

My choice of cheese is, of course, cheddar, and if there is one thing I think they can do better is use a little extra cheese. Only just because.. well.. cheese.

The hamburger itself is seasoned very well. Not too much and not to bland either and when cooked to medium, is just pink in the middle and very, very juicy. The bun is the bomb and I don’t need catsup or mustard or mayo or any sauce because it’s just so good the way it is. I do add some onion and pickle, for a touch of something else.

I would rate this burger a 4.25 out of 5 and I think that is the highest one I’ve rated so far on this blog. Seriously. There is a reason I go back to VI time and time and time again and always order the same thing. It is not because of the atmosphere in the restaurant as I’m not a super big fan of that. However, the service has always been friendly and the food comes out really fast.

I think the next time I go, I’m going to order the All World Cheeseburger which comes with 2 all beef patties, thousand Island dressing, and an onion ring topper. That will give me something to compare and contrast and frankly just another reason to go to the VI again.

(If you go, go on a Wednesday because you get free fruit pie with your meal. Cherry is my favorite.)

This VIC experience was brought to you by the centers for increased awareness of delicious awesomeness in the form of Cheeseburgers.

Don’t You Want One?
~Miss SugarCookie