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

2017-03-28 Jimmi D’s – They Can’t All Be Winners.. 2

Sometimes, it’s just about a Cheeseburger. 😃

On Saturday (yes, I know that was like 3 days ago now), the kids and I met my Mom and Sister’s and my sister’s husband, Bob, at a restaurant and Bar called Jimi D’s. I really like the place, it’s a mid-tier bar, so not a dive and not super schmu-schmu. I’ve probably been there 10 or 12 times in the past so the menu is quite familiar to me and most of the time the food is pretty good.

Strange thing, I’ve never ordered a cheeseburger. I’m not quite sure why that is because as a general rule, if it’s on the menu, I order it (at least once) to see if it’s the next “best thing ever”. I did order it this time, though, and as it turns out, it was not the best thing ever.

The first red flag is when the waitress did not ask me how I wanted it cooked. As the hamburger patty is the star of the show, how it is treated is extremely important. If you don’t find out, and prepare it exactly as desired, then how can it perform on center stage and meet any expectation? As it were, when not asked the norm is medium which is too my liking, but this one was definitely over done.

The patty was dry and somewhat bland. The basic elements were there.. the toasted Kaiser bun, the cheddar cheese (albeit probably not enough for my liking) and some tomato and lettuce on the side. However, there were a few things that were absent from the plate. Pickles and onions are a few that I always like to try with a bite, especially if there is not a lot of flavor to start with.

There was also no inclusion of any other sauce, save for the catsup on the table, to enhance the flavor. I will admit that I like to, again, try to get a baseline without sauce, but in this instance it would almost be a must.

The fries were very average also and did not add anything special to the combo. For a “bar” restaurant, it was pretty disappointing. I would give this one 2 out of 5 and when I go again, I would opt to choose something else on the menu. I know I’ve had good things there, but this one just was not among them. Let’s face it .. they can’t all be winners.

Until Next Cheeseburger,
Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-05 Saint Louis – Day 4, The Trainwreck Cheeseburger.. 2.5

When I was going through my difficult time last year, the phrase I used to describe it was “trainwrecked”. It worked in lots of different ways. I was “trainwrecked”. I was in “trainwreck” mode or sometimes I was actively in a state of “trainwrecking”. I guess you could say that was trying to make light of the situation to try and balance out everything else I was feeling.

Well, one of the previous days when Josh and I were searching for our next meal, the list included a place that he had forgotten about.. the Trainwreck Saloon. When we saw that, we knew we had to go. Knowing it was a bar and would most certainly have a nice selection of cheeseburgers, was just icing on the cake.

We headed there straight after our Forest Park walk and i really did not look at any other parts of the menu besides the burger section. Josh ordered the triple cheese and I opted for the cheddar bacon made with Bison meat. The waitress talked me into the broccoli-cauliflower salad and he had sweet potato fries. What started out as something magical where the universe was once again giving me exactly what I needed, ended up as a set of big fat checkmarks in the “lessons learned” category. The sad part about that, was these were all things I know already.

– When going to a new place, get the baseline burger with cheese. Not too fancy. In doing this you will avoid anything going wrong with something the restaurant is trying to do which might alter the experience in a negative way. I went for the Bison, when I should have stuck with delicious cow.
– If there is something special, which isn’t normal terminology – question it. In this case it was “soft cheddar” cheese. I didn’t think anything of it, but the cheese was just not to my liking at all. The taste was OK, but the texture was not appealing at all.
– Never, ever, under any circumstances order a side that is not French fries. Sorry for the double negative. Let me make it perfectly clear.. Always Order French Fries. Done. And yes, the side is a part of the total experience and it matters.

I admit I didn’t follow my own rules on this one, but I was just trying to allow serendipity to keep working her magic on this trip. However, even without my mistakes, the experience would have probably been just average.

The bun was an average bun that may have been multi-grain or perhaps had some sesame on it, but I could not tell. It was not toasted, and I prefer a toasted bun. The server did not ask me how I wanted my burger cooked, which was very odd for a place that advertises good burgers. Fortunately for me, medium is the standard and that is what I typically will order. As I stated, the cheese flavor was ok, but it was gooey and chunky and kind of pasty and really dripped all over the place. The bison was also OK, but I have definitely had better. And yes, shame on me, but the broccoli-cauliflower salad was actually not good at all so I am not sure what the server meant when she said it was “the best”. It was like they cut a few raw veggies and tossed it in watered down mayo. Not a lot of flavor. All things considered, I would go 2.5 out of 5 on this Cheeseburger experience.

I did manage to get not one or two, but three bites from Josh’s burger which was a quite a cut above my own. If things were flipped, I’d probably have gone perhaps as high as 3.5 on it. In the end, I was just pouty that his was better than mine and I carried that with me as we headed back to Ademir’s place to say good-bye.

We rested for just a few minutes there before packing the rest of the things in the car. By that time, the day had already gotten long and the sun was on the verge of setting. I was not really looking forward to a 7 hour drive back home and having not had the best sleep in a couple of days, I knew it might get rough.

I did OK until I hit the Iowa border and that’s when I started to get very sleepy and kind of punchy. When I got to Josh’s place I helped him unload and thanked him for being my tour guide and showing me his home away from home. I got a little emotional (or a little more than a little emotional) and then had to kind of take off in a hurry. It was also 2AM and we were both in desperate need of sleep.

A very good trip indeed. Hard to pick a favorite moment, or five. I would definitely go again, given the opportunity.

Home again, home again,
Miss SugarCookie

2017-03-03 When the Universe Smiles at You.. 4

There was no set plan for the day yesterday, but everything seemed to happen exactly as it was meant to… and it could not have worked out better.

I worked most of the morning from a standing desk in Ademir’s basement and had a very intense set of calls. I faced issue after issue, and fielded question after question, so by early afternoon, I felt like I had earned my keep and a pass to venture out for food and a little exploring.

On this trip, I’m the driver and Josh is the navigator. This is his home away from home so I just have to say what it is I am in the mood for and whatever that is, he’ll get us there. For our first meal in the city, though, I opted to leave it to him to suggest a place. He decided it was some breakfast/lunch place that was fairly close to our home base that serves baller french toast and so we set out in that direction.

When we got to the general area, though, he could not remember the name of the place and it wasn’t coming up on the map. We parked in a parking lot next to a grill and pub called “Weber’s Front Row” and started walking the main strip. I’m not sure what the name of that area of town is called, but Webster University, where his friend Crystal works, was close by.

After walking up and down a couple of blocks, we didn’t find it so we got back in the car to do more google searching. Before too long, my hunger took over and I suggested we just eat at this place we were parked at. “It’s a grill and pub, and they have Cheeseburgers.” What more could a girl ask for?

When they set that plate in front of me, I could not help but think, “Everything works out the way it is supposed to”. There I was, first day in a city I had never been to before and the universe was handing me the most delicious Cheeseburger. And it really was so, so good.

It was a thick, juicy beef patty topped with a generous portion of melted real cheddar cheese, grilled onions, and dill pickle slices. And all of that was contained within an toasted onion kaiser bun. It was amazeballs. The burger was cooked medium to perfection and served with an accompaniment of golden french fries which were also cooked very much to my liking – crispy on the outside and soft and steamy hot on the inside. It was a total thumbs up. I’m a pretty tough critic so when I say it gets 4 stars out of 5, that’s something.

Josh opted to order “The Lumberjack”, which was also a cheeseburger but instead of a regular bun, they put it inside two grilled cheese sandwiches. On the menu it also came with fried egg, but he elected to get those on the side. It was still a ridiculous mouthful for sure and also delicious (as he let me try a bite). He likes his burger rare, which is not my cup of tea, but he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit. It was too much food for us, but that’s part of the fun of being “on vacation”. We left that place completely satisfied and happy that things worked out the way they did.

Was it fate that led Josh to want to go to that area of town? Was it coincidence that the restaurant we were looking for was not coming up in our google map searches? Was it luck that the parking lot we elected to park in was next to a pub? In my life right now, I need to do a little more letting go on questioning why and just be grateful for what’s been given. When the universe smiles at you.. you say thank you and smile back.

Thanks Universe, 😃
Miss SugarCookie

2017-01-22 Stack It, Track It, Smack It Down

What’s this now? Well if all the other things I’m juggling right now weren’t enough, I’ve decided that in the interest of my health, I’m going to start tracking my eating habits. What I’m sure of is that I already know from past experience what eating healthy looks like and I’ve got an array of good choices at my disposal. The other thing I am acutely aware of is that right now, I am not making those choices on a consistent basis. I feel like I do OK about half the time, but then I have entire days when all I eat is unhealthy. I also feel that (like most Americans) I am eating too much sugar. And when it comes to the fight to eat healthy, sugar is my number one enemy.

What I would like to do is get a good handle on just how unhealthy I’ve become as well as what the percentages of my diet are for carbs (sugar and otherwise), fat, and protein. Tracking my diet will help me form a clear picture of that and maybe pinpoint what my weak spots are or possibly highlight some things I thought were healthier than they are. I did this 11 years ago after I had my son and was trying to lose weight and at that time, I used a website called fitly.com. However now, like most things, there’s an app for my phone for that.

In fact there are a bunch of apps for that. I quickly came to understand that my first challenge in this process would be to choose. I searched for “calorie tracking” and read details and reviews for the top four. I downloaded all four and decided the only way to know which was best would be to try them all. The four apps are..

– LoseIt
– MyPlate
– MyFitnessPal
– MyNetDiary

It took me a couple of sessions to initiate using the apps and figuring out the user interface. Then, just yesterday, I started really trying to track what I am eating – IN ALL FOUR. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass to do 4X data entry, but tracking for several days entering the same exact data is the only way to determine if one is lacking or superior in some way. Having a little bit of history on my account also shakes out whether or not the dashboards and data analytics are descent.

Since I just started yesterday, today is only the second full day of tracking. I think there are a couple of noteworthy differences that would rule out a couple of the apps, but want to give it a couple more days to validate my thinking. Perhaps I will share the results of my little experiment as I get deeper into it. A new Miss SugarCookie Blog Category perhaps? I think so!

One thing is for certain, my love of Cheeseburgers never waivers and that is one thing I will never give up. It sounds so freaking good to me right now (I must be hungry), I’m probably about to go make one of those poor choices. Ha.

Mmmmm Delish,
Miss SugarCookie