Friday, August 8, 2008

Starbucks - Strawberries & Cream

Allow me to preface this review by stating that I hate and despise coffee with every fiber of my being. And, no, this review is not of a meal, but since my drink cost as much as a chicken sandwich, I’m reviewing it anyway.

I recently ended a late night with a visit to the Starbucks on Bayou Blvd. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in a Starbucks and don’t really care to up that to a two handed count any time soon. Alas, the other members of my party on that particular night love the place.

I ordered a Strawberries & Cream Frap Blended Crème with Toffee Nut on the recommendation of my sister. She assured me that there was absolutely no coffee taste to it what-so-ever and promised that I could punch her in the ear if I detected any. After paying $4 and some change and waiting long enough for little Starbucks gnomes to run to the Strawberry farm in Allentown, my blessed little pink drink was served. Sip…dramatic pause…hey, that’s actually good. Sarah’s ear is safe. It tasted exactly like Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries. Amazingly like CC w/ CB. So much like it that I thought maybe they just threw a bowl of cereal in the blender. And maybe they did, which I am cool with as long as it doesn’t taste like coffee.

The Low Down:
Coffee, Tea, Snacks
Local Favs: um, coffee
Location: every freaking corner
Open morning, noon and night
$$$ considering what you get

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Times Grill - Cajun Sunset

According to Times Grill, “Times Grill is a family-friendly, casual dining restaurant best recognized for its 20 specialty burgers offered in conventional versions and wild variations. Our most distinctive burger is the Cajun Sunset®, seasoned with Creole spices and topped with a pan fried egg. At the heart of every Times Grill hamburger is the patty. All patties are chargrilled and hand made to order. “

I ordered the Cajun Sunset not knowing that it boasts the title of “Most Distincitive Burger”. I just have a penchant for burgers and runny eggs and thought I might like them together. And boy, do I! I ordered my Cajun Sunset medium-rare with cheddar cheese, mayo and a side of sweet potato fries (regular fries are so last year). The huge burger comes out open face, with a perfectly cooked egg staring up at you just waiting for the yolk to be popped. And the smell is outstanding, just like you would expect a burger to smell (not like fast food).

Note: if you are an attention addict, this burger is for you - I’ve ordered the Cajun Sunset on three different occasions with three different parties – each time my party exclaims “OOOO – look at Jen’s burger!”. Everyone looks. Everyone wishes they ordered my burger. I eat with an aire of superiority and enjoy every minute of it. I will not apologize.

So, does the taste live up to the look and smell? Yes! It is delish, albeit super messy. The bun is fluffy and fresh. The Creole spices aren’t too spicy or overbearing. The beef is cooked to perfection. The yolk runs down your fingers. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a burger.

Now, about those sweet potato fries. I’ve had better. Times Grill does a nice sweet potato fry. I will order them every time I dine there (my almost inappropriate adoration of the Cajun Sunset assures I will dine there again). They just aren’t as tasty as Jerry’s Cajun Café’s sweet potato fries. Give me a blind taste test…I’ll know the difference.

By the way, Times Grill isn’t the fastest game in town, so make sure you have a few minutes. The minutes will be well worth it.

Your Most Distincitive Jen-o-saurus

The Low Down:
Burgers/Sandwiches/Wraps, Entrees, Bar, Dessert
Local Favs: um, the burgers
204 E. Nine Mile Road
Open for Lunch and Dinner
Around $10
Take out available (no delivery)

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Seafood di Venezia at Carrabba's Italian Grill

As you’ve read from colleagues’ posts, the crew of the PFC set out for some food and fun at our local Carrabba’s Italian Grill. We decided to hit the place on a Wednesday to take advantage of “Wine Wednesdays” which meant that there was $10 off any bottle of wine.

At our table, our waitress Robin recommended several specials to us. One of them caught my ear and I decided to try it out. Enter... the Seafood di Venezia.

This Ventian seafood platter featured “Trout Nocciola” and “Venetian Gamberoni” served with some pan-seared vegetable ravioli and sautéed asparagus.

The “Trout Nocciola was a hazelnut-encrusted filet of trout cooked on a wood-burning grill and then lightly covered with some basil-lemon-butter sauce. I thought that the mild trout flavor was well complimented by the sauce. This was actually my favorite piece of the plate. It was fresh, crunchy, and simply delicious.

The “Venetial Gamberoni” was shrimp stuffed with fresh crabmeat covered with a little lemon butter. This was my second favorite part of the dish. The crab meat and the shrimp came together pretty well. I think I can attribute the great flavor of this combination from the freshness of the seafood. I’ve had something similar to this at some other place in town, and it was a tragedy. This one was right on target. The spices were just right and it wasn’t over cooked.
The vegetable ravioli was par with ones that I have had at Carraba’s before. They were good, but not awesome. It tasted like it was missing something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it and I still can’t.

The asparagus was awesome, but I’m partial to asparagus in any form. It wasn’t overcooked so it actually still had a little crunch when you bit into them. In my humble opinion, that’s the way asparagus should be cooked. Carrabba’s hit the nail on this one.

Overall, I would definitely recommend the “Seafood di Venezia” to anyone. I really enjoyed it and I think I would definitely order it again when I come back. Do check with your server and see if it’s available. According to Robin, the dish was available for a limited time. It if is available, go ahead and try it. Let me know how what you think.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Calling All Pensacola Food Critic Fans - You Decide Where...

"The Schwab" would like the readers of this blog to help pick upcoming restaurants to review.

But that's not enough, "The Schwab" always likes to take things to the next level. So... not only say where you want me to go...tell me what you want me to order/review.

Oh, I have one more request when you post a comment. Inside the comment create a catchy little handle for yourself so I can give you some credit if your restaurant and food idea is selected. Comments without handles or names will probably be deleted.

So go ahead... click on the word "Comments" at the bottom of this post. When the next page appears click on "Post a Comment" and let all the "Pensacola Food Critics" know where you want "The Schwab" to go and visit.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Carrabba's - Lobster Ravioli and Cannoli

Your favorite Pensacola food critics descended upon Carrabba’s in full force last night. Your’s truly went with the Lobster Ravioli ($17) and ice water for the main event and Cannoli ($6) for dessert.

The Lobster Ravioli is described as Ravioli stuffed with tender Maine lobster in a white wine cream sauce with diced tomatoes. My plate arrived with a heap of beautiful ravioli and bright red tomatoes – no over-dressing. I like that. The food should be the star. I took a whiff before digging in and didn’t really smell anything, which is far better than that straight from the ocean smell you sometimes get with lobster dishes. After whiffing came biting - my first ravioli left something to be desired. But there’s one bad apple in every bunch, right? I thoroughly enjoyed the other nine apples, er, ravioli. Most of them contained nice big chunks of lobster which was indeed tender. I like a big chunk of meat – no unidentifiable mush for this critic, please. Oh – and the ice water was splendid. It did not taste chalky as many a glass of restaurant water I’ve sampled does. My only complaint – I was sucking air through my straw for most of the meal. I know water is the despised free drink, but it allows me to taste your food without some crazy cola infusion – so if you keep my glass full I’ll add that extra 30 cents to the tip that a $2 soda would have entitled.

Onward to dessert. The Cannoli is described as two crisp pastry shells stuffed with sweet ricotta and chocolate chip filling, topped with pistachios and powdered sugar. I chose this dessert because I have a hard time resisting anything with pistachios, not because my meal left me feeling hungry. The cannoli looked better than it tasted. Not that it was bad - it tasted good, the ricotta was creamy, the shell was crisp and the pistachios were great – it just so happened to be slightly more appealing to my eye (yes, just the one) than my tongue. By the way, the dessert portions seemed much more generous than the entrée portions. And if you can’t decide what to get, try the dessert sampler, which our waitress assured us is very “cute”.

I’m not sure where to rate my meal on the cuteness scale. Maybe somewhere between just cute and absolutely adorable…super cute??? Overall my meal was tasty and the atmosphere was nice. We were seated and served quickly despite the parking lot looking ominously full. Will I dine at Carrabba’s again? Sure. Will I order the same thing? Probably not – it was good but the plates of my partners in crime looked better (obviously I haven’t learned my lesson from the handsome cannoli).

The Low Down:
Italian entrees, desserts, wine
311 North 9th Avenue
Sun 11:30 – 9 p.m.; Mon-Thurs 4-10 p.m.; Fri & Sat 4-11 p.m.

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