Monday, June 30, 2008

Dinner -- 6/30/08

Ruth's Chris Steak House
2041 South Harbor Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92802


6:00 -- 9:30 PM

Ramona: Tanqueray and tonic, petite filet, chocolate sin cake

Jim: Tanqueray and tonic, filet, espresso, bread pudding with whiskey sauce

Shared: Appetizers (Seared Ahi tuna, fried calimari, crab stuffed mushrooms), garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus with hollandaise sauce, sweet potato casserole,
Chateau Greysac Medoc, 2003 (France)

This last dinner in Anaheim was a fabulous end to a wonderful conference, and we are grateful to EbscoHost for treating us to this wonderful dinner.

From the cocktails to dessert, the meal was superb, and our server Matthew did a terrific job keeping our wine glasses full. His service was perfect. His recommendations for sides and some of the entrees our tablemates requested were excellent.

The steaks were as tender as any we could want or imagine. The vegetables were cooked to the highest point of taste possible, and the sauce for the asparagus spears was tasty and also the right temperature.

The wine was a perfect compliment for the beef. It was smooth, even, with only a hint of oak flavor. The backwash was delightful. The aroma enchanting.

Ramona and I have eaten at other venues in this chain, but we both agreed that the Anaheim venue was, in all respects, the best. We especially enjoyed the glass sculpture that adorned the bar where we waited for our table.

A perfect dining experience and we highly recommend this restaurant with a five star rating.


Lunch -- 6/30/08

P.F. Chang's China Bistro
W. Katella Ave.
Anaheim, CA 92802

12:15 -- 1:15 PM

Ramona: Egg drop soup, Honey Chicken bowl with steamed white rice, iced tea

Jim: Egg drop soup, shrimp in lobster sauce bowl with steamed white rice, iced tea

Shared: Lettuce wraps with chicken and peanut sauce

Excellent gourmet Chinese cuisine. I especially liked the fact that chopsticks were rolled into the napkin with traditional silverware.

The lunch bowls were tasty and good sized portions. The lettuce wraps were an interesting change from the usual rolls we get at Chinese restaurants. These were individual lettuce leaves and a plate of chicken, rice noodles in a peanut sauce. Really very good and altogether a much higher level of Chinese cuisine than we see in even the best Chinese restaurants in Waco. Thankfully we don't have far to go to enjoy it again; there's a P.F. Chang's in Dallas, as well as many other locations in the U.S.

Ramona's fortune: "Your efforts are budding -- results will soon appear."

Jim's fortune: "You will have an exciting addition to your life by being the warm person you are."


Breakfast -- 6/30/08

Anaheim Marriott
700 West Convention Way
Anaheim, CA 92802


8:15 -- 9:30 AM

Jim & Ramona: OJ, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, fruit, coffee

Sit down breakfast and generally good, but the eggs must have been reheated on the plate, because they were stuck to the plate, but the rest was good.

Of course, once again, the speaker was the main attraction. In this case, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post and a commentator on the Keith Olbermann show on MSNBC gave a great talk about "Homo Politicus," his latest book on the creatures who inhabit Washington. Great fun! I also had the opportunity to ask a question about reforming the system, but, unfortunately, he did not have much hope of anything happening in the near future. An added bonus was signed copies of his book. We were able to snag two; one for us and one for our neighbors who are also members of the fourth estate and collect our mail and newspapers for us while we're out of town.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dinner -- 6/29/08

McCormick & Schmick's
321 W. Katella Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92802


5:30 - 7:30 PM

Ramona: Dungeness Crab and Bay shrimp cakes, jasmine rice, green beans, red pepper rouille, upside down apple pie with cinnamon ice cream, Nobilio Sauvignon Blanc, 2007, New Zealand

Jim: Seafood corn chowder, Arctic char, Pistachio sundried tomato couscous and orange beurre blanc, asparagus, lemon sponge cake with raspberry coulis, Nobilio Sauvignon Blanc, 2007, New Zealand, iced tea

Shared: Jumbo prawn cocktail

Dinner with a good friend from Dallas after another long day at the Anaheim Convention Center.
This was an elegant restaurant, and the decor was subdued, the light was low, and the music was soft and jazzy.

We all agreed the food was uniformly good, with large portions at just the right temperature.

This was my first taste of char, and it was delicious. It looked a little like salmon, but it was a little more tender, and nicely sweet. The sauce was also a good compliment. The asparagus were prepared exactly the way I like them -- a bit on the crunchy side.

Ramona's crab and shrimp cakes were delicious. I only tasted the crab, and it was meaty and well-seasoned. The red pepper rouille was a great condiment for these cakes.

The wine we chose -- we each had one glass -- was also excellent. It was cold, crisp, and just a touch of sweetness.

Both of our desserts were superb. The dessert menu had several items we have had recently, so we each went with something different. My cake was delicious and the lemon topping was great with the raspberry sauce. The raspberry coulis had some seeds in it, and had I not made this sauce myself at home, I might not even have noticed. Ramona shared her dessert with her friend; however, it was not their first choice. The restaurant was out of the coconut cupcake that they were looking forward to.

The only problem was the service; it was a bit shaky. Our server disappeared for extended times on at least two occasions. But, she was young and the restaurant has only been open a short time at this location, so all is forgiven. She had no problem dealing with our complicated billing caused by separate checks, etc. It certainly will not stop us from a return visit. There are restaurants in Dallas, Austin, and Houston, which we visit quite often; also one in Denver, where we'll be headed in January for ALA's Midwinter conference.

-Jim and Ramona

Lunch -- 6/29/08

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
321 W. Katella
Suite 101
Anaheim, CA 92802


12:30 - 1:15 PM

Ramona: Shrimp po'boy, iced tea

Jim: Fish (fried mahi-mahi) and chips, iced tea

We were supposed to meet some friends of Ramona's from Vanderbilt, but they were delayed, so we went ahead and ordered. The dishes were both perfect and filling. My fish was tender, and I topped it off with malt vinegar. Of course, those fries that I loved from last Thursday were still as good, and dipped in mustard, they were perfect.

Ramona's Po' boy was large and hard to eat because of its size, but it was delicious. She likes the fries also but used ketchup for hers!


Breakfast -- 6/29/08

Marriott Residence Inn Anaheim Maingate
1700 South Clementine Street
Anaheim, California 92802


Ramona & Jim: Buffet (OJ, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit, croissant, muffins, coffee)

Courtesy of Alexander Street Press. The guest speaker was Daniel Ellsberg who talked at length about his days in hiding while the FBI mounted a massive world-wide search for him as he distributed the Pentagon Papers to 19 newspapers in 1971. He also compared the Nixon administration to the current Bush administration, and pointed out both presidents violated their oath of office to "defend the US against all enemies foreign and domestic." Chilling words from a true, courageous American hero.

Oh, yes, and the breakfast buffet was great!


Dinner -- 6/28/08

Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen
1590 S Disneyland Dr
Anaheim, CA 92802


Ramona: A roasted half of chicken served with garlic creamed potatoes, fresh seasonal vegetables (green beans, zuchinni, squash) and a rosemary-Chardonnay sauce, iced tea

Jim: Panéed Chicken Bercy Pan-fried Parmesan and herb breaded chicken breast, topped with artichoke hearts, portobello mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Served with andouille grits and a roasted shallot white wine sauce, garlic mashed potatoes with bacon, asparagus, iced tea

Shared: Bananas Foster!!

This was a really special dinner in an authentic New Orleans style building with balconies, and faux New Orleans lace iron works. I wanted to stand in the court and shout, "STELLA!" Ramona said no. We were guests of a vendor at the conference and the company and conversation was every bit as good as the food.

My chicken was really special and a generous portion. The meat was juicy and perfectly seasoned to my taste. Ramona's chicken was also large and juicy. The vegetables were uniformly delicious.

Dessert. Well, what can we say, it is our favorite dessert and this was prepared at table side. It was delicious. Not a spot of banana, ice cream, sauce, or foster was left over.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lunch -- 6/28/08

Hilton Garden Inn Hotel
11777 Harbour Blvd.
Anaheim, CA 92840


12:30 -- 1:15 PM

Ramona: Roast beef sandwich, creamy horseradish, salad, potato salad, diet coke

Jim: Turkey sandwich, slice of roast beef, potato salad, fruit, ginger mango iced tea

In need for a quick lunch between sessions and working the convention floor, we were happy to find this buffet set up for quick service in the hotel bar. (Ramona's not sure what Baylor will say about a $17 bar bill in the middle of the day!)

The turkey was great and so was the roast beef. Great kaiser rolls for the sandwich. Not exactly the kaisers I remember from Philadelphia, but they were good and made a good sandwich.


Breakfast -- 6/28/08

Chaparral Restaurant
Holiday Inn and Suites
1240 S. Walnut St.
Anaheim, CA 92802


7:15 -- 7:45 AM

Ramona: OJ, blueberry pancakes, coffee

Jim: OJ, oatmeal with brown sugar, bagel with cream cheese, coffee

Another breakfast at the hotel, and absolutely no complaints. Good job all around.


Dinner -- 6/27/08

Roy's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine
321 West Katella Ave.
Suite #105
Anaheim CA 92802

(714) 776-7697

6:55 -- 8:45 PM

Ramona: Hawaiian Colada, Maui "wowie" shrimp salad, Shellfish combo (Endame truffle butter Alaskan king crab legs, unagi stuffed soft shell crab, California crab hand roll, Au bon "Roy's" Santa Barbara chardonnay, 2006.

Jim: Grey Goose Pear vodka martini, crunchy golden lobster pot stickers, sweet blue crab barramundi with sun-dried tomato with mushroom anisette cream sauce, Au bon "Roy's" Santa Barbara chardonnay, 2006.

Shared: Endame (soy bean pods with sugar, salt, and togarashi (Japanese) spices), pineapple upside down cake with coconut ice cream, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, and raspberry coulis

This elegant, pleasant restaurant promised a spectacular meal, but, sadly we were disappointed almost all the way through.

First, the wine list. Nothing but ordinary, undistinguished California wines dominated the list, and although they were reasonably priced, there was nothing that convinced us to buy a whole bottle. Even the imports were boring. I do not recall more than one or two wines older than 2006. We ordered a glass each, but it was almost undrinkable, and I could not finish mine. I guess wine is an unimportant aspect of Hawaiian cuisine.

The Maui wowie shrimp salad was not so much wowie. It was a little bit of lettuce, carrots a couple of slices of tomatoes, and one or two shrimp chopped up into small pieces. We shared this dish, and I could not taste any dressing on my half. It had very little taste. The shrimp were not crisp, and felt as if they were water-logged.

The crunchy golden lobster pot stickers were good, but there was only a few drops of sauce, and not near enough for dipping.

Ramona's combo was over spiced, and ruined the king crab legs. The poor Unagi stuffed soft shell crab was fried to death. It also had no taste.

The best part of the meal was my barramundi. It was wonderfully presented, with a sweet clear taste. One of the best fish dishes I have ever had. The sauces were delicate and complimented the fish well.

The dessert was also good. The only glitch here was that we intended to share this dish, and the menu description didn't mention the coconut ice cream. I am allergic to coconut, so I had to carefully eat only the parts that did not come into contact with the ice cream.

A large, large bill, with a small degree of satisfaction. I doubt we would ever try Roy's again. We'll be curious to know if Ramona's son, who lives in Tampa FL, has tried the Roy's there. This one had only been open a couple of months so they may still be getting the kinks out.

Another minor point was our table location, which was right across from the entrance to the restrooms and adjacent to the servers' computer stand. Both factors became a bit of a distraction. Jim reported that there were no towels (paper or otherwise) in the men's room.

Two stars out of five


Friday, June 27, 2008

Lunch -- 6/27/08

El Torito #7155
34521 Golden Lantern
Dana Point, CA 92629


12:50- 1:55 PM

Ramona: Chicken enchiladas, re-fried beans, rice, golden corn cake, iced tea

Jim: Beef soft taco, chicken enchilada, carnitas tamale, re-fried beans, rice, golden corn cake, iced tea

Shared: Salsa and chips

A great lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant. I normally do not like Mexican, as regular readers know, but this came highly recommended by an old friend from a past life, so we took her there for lunch.

The food was terrific. The beans had just a touch of spice, and the entree was hot, tasty, and more than satisfying. The salsa was also tasty without burning the inside of my mouth. The conversation was fun reminiscing, so we had a good time at beautiful Dana Point Harbor.


Breakfast -- 6/27/08

Chaparral Restaurant
Holiday Inn
1240 S. Walnut St.
Anaheim, CA 92802


7:05 -- 7:50 AM

Ramona: Corned beef hash and eggs, hash browns, OJ, rye toast, coffee

Jim: Eggs Benedict, hash browns, OJ, coffee

The breakfast at this older, small Holiday Inn was surprisingly good, and the waiter, Cesar, did a great job of serving and keeping us supplied with coffee, including providing to-go cups so we could have another cup for the road. First rate breakfast.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dinner -- 6/26/08

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
321 W. Katella
Suite 101
Anaheim, CA 92802


6:45 - 8:15 PM

Ramona: "Mama Blue's Southern Charmed Fried Shrimp," fries, cole slaw, iced tea

Jim: Bubba's After the Storm "Bucket of Boat Trash" -- Fried shrimp, fried mahi-mahi, lobster claws, fries, iced tea

Shared: "Mama's cinnamon bread pudding" with vanilla ice cream

This was a fun dining experience. Anyone familiar with the film "Forrest Gump" will recognize the names of the dishes and the decor. The wait staff were all friendly, helpful, knowledgeable, and offered the best service. Thanks to Landon and Tom for a good time.

Each table has two license plates: "Run, Forrest, Run" and "Stop, Forrest, Stop." Flipping to the latter brings an almost instantaneous response from a manager or another waiter. The music is, of course, the sound track from the film, with all those great songs from the 60s.

The food was terrific. I was a little worried about all the references to spices and Cajun seasoning, but the taste was great, and it wasn't till I was finished that I noticed a slight glow in my mouth. The fries were also good -- cut right from whole potatoes the way I like them.

The dessert was an especially good treat. Bread pudding is one of our favorite desserts, and it is a good thing we shared. A large portion, dripping with sauce, and a scoop of French vanilla ice cream on top.

We learned there is a Bubba Gump in Charleston, which we may visit this coming November. However, there's lots of competition in the seafood department there and we already have several favorites that I'm afraid Gump may lose out in that round.


Lunch -- 6/26/08

Jolly Roger Hotel Cafe
640 W. Katella
Anaheim, CA 92802


12:50 -- 1:45 PM

Ramona: Tuna melt on sourdough, French fries, diet Coke

Jim: Turkey sandwich on sourdough, French fries, iced tea

We walked for MILES from our hotel in search of a restaurant we thought was only a few blocks away, but gave up after an hour and a half and went into the first restaurant we saw. The place was a half hour from closing until dinner, but they served us. The first waiter did not speak any English, so the maitre d' came and took our order.

The sandwiches were okay, but the fries were lame. You know, those frozen, processed kind that are almost white. UGH!

Any port in a storm with sore feet.


Breakfast -- 6/26/08

T.G.I. Friday's
DFW Airport, Gate A-21

10:15 to 11:00 AM

Ramona: Ham and Cheese omelet sandwich, coffee

Jim: Three sausage, egg, and cheese tacos (soft), tomato juice, Starbuck's Decaf venti latte with
skim milk and one Equal in the bottom

I do not appreciate Friday's coffee -- especially for breakfast -- so I walked down seven gates to get my usual drink from them. This might be one of the few Friday's that serves breakfast, and the "tacos" were good, but I would call them small breakfast burritos.


Dinner -- 6/25/08

Mama Baris
904 N Valley Mills Dr
Waco, TX 76710


Ramona: Pasta sampler, diet Pepsi

Jim: Meatball parmigiana sub, iced tea

Shared: Small Baris salad.

The best and closest thing to Philly cheese steaks and hoagies in Waco. You have to remind them NOT to put bell peppers on the cheese steaks (Mama Baris is from New York, so she doesn't know any better). The bread is wonderful, and the "small" salad was also shared by my son Chris who joined us. The bread is also great, and you want to ask for some, even if you get a sandwich. It comes out warm, and with melted butter, it makes a great dessert.

Great place for lunch or dinner, but they are closed on Monday. I hope I can remember this next time.

They also have a store in Flower Mound, TX, and another in Hewitt, TX.


Dinner -- 6/24/08

614 N. Valley Mills Rd.
Waco, TX 76710


5:20 - 6:40 PM

Ramona: Orange Chicken Bowl, iced tea

Jim: Oriental salad (without almonds), iced tea

We set out to eat at Baris, but as we have done several times before, we forgot they are closed on Monday. Applebee's was only a little further along on Valley Mills, so we ended up there.

A great place for a quick, light meal on a week night. Both dishes were more than filling and really tasty.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Breakfast -- 6/22/08

Cafe Cappuccino
4700 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710


8:50 AM -- 9:45 AM

Ramona: OJ, French toast, bacon, coffee

Jim: French toast, sausage patties, latte

Not a good visit from this usually reliable eatery. Ramona distinctly asked for medium bacon, but she got three pieces of over-done, almost blackened meat. I asked for a decaf latte with skim milk. I don't think the waitress was listening, because I got a very weak coffee that tasted more like warm milk. When I complained she said she would "Tell C---- in the back," and then she disappeared. When we got the bill, we were charged for a mocha in addition to the latte. When I questioned it, she said, "That was the flavor in your coffee. " She took that off, but despite my repeated complaint she did nothing to make the coffee right. We are pretty frequent customers here, and we will go back, but this is no way to treat regulars.

The french toast was, as always, excellent.


Lunch -- 6/21/08

Buzzard Billy's
100 N. I-35
Waco, TX 76704


12:40 to 2:00 PM

Ramona: Fried combo (catfish, shrimp, oysters), cole slaw, french fries, hush puppies, iced tea

Jim: Fried alligator platter, cole slaw, french fries, hush puppies, iced tea

With guests from out of town, we wanted to take them to a "Waco" restaurant, and Buzzard Billy's was our first thought.

This is such a great improvement over the old Dock's, but the food is the same great stuff served up back on University Parks Drive. I am glad BB's found a nice, convenient location so quickly.

Ramona's platter was huge, and I had a generous portion of fried alligator. The cole slaw was also notable -- not the slushy, watery kind some places serve. The hushpuppies were also a new variety, and seemed better than the old ones I remember.

Not much better than a great restaurant that is always looking for ways to improve.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dinner -- 6/20/08

Cathay House
825 Wooded Acres
Waco, TX 76710


5:45 - 6:50 PM

Ramona: Egg drop soup, lemon chicken, iced tea

Jim: Wonton soup, egg roll, Happy Family (chicken, shrimp, scallops, roast pork, beef and Chinese vegetables), iced tea

Absolutely our favorite sit down Chinese restaurant in Waco. Pleaseant, quiet, and excellent service. The food is also always good and plenty of it. Ramona brought home half her dish.

A must stop on a night out in Waco.

Ramona's fortune: You enjoy working with people

Jim's Fortune: Approach someone new. You may be surprised by the warm reception you receive


Dinner -- 6/18/08

Cotton Patch Cafe
5501 Bosque Blvd
Waco, TX 76710


Ramona: Dixie Belle meatloaf, mashed potatoes, squash casserole, iced tea

Jim: Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, broccoli rice casserole, iced tea

Still a little tender from my dental surgery the day before, I opted for something different (I almost always get the Chicken fried Chicken). The meatloaf was tasty and tender. We both agreed it was a great meal. My son went with us, and had the most gigantic double meat, double cheese, bacon hamburger I have ever seen. He ruined it by putting ketchup AND mustard on it, but he swore it was delicious, and there was none left for either of us to taste.


Dinner -- 6/17/08

Soup 'R Salad #3
5006 W. Waco Dr.
Waco, TX 76710

7:10 - 8:15 PM

Jim: Salad buffet, pasta salad, baked potatoes, chicken pasta soup (2 bowls), gingerbread, fruit, jello, iced tea.

Ramona: Salad buffet, pasta salad, lentil soup (2 bowls), cornbread (crumbled in the soup), strawberries over angel food cake, iced tea.

After a morning in the dentist's chair, I was not much in the mood for anything heavy, and Soup 'R Salad is the best place for soft, easy to chew food.

One dark moment -- we got a senior discount!!


Dinner -- 6/16/08

Pizza Inn
4315 Lake Shore Dr # O,
Waco, TX 76708


6:00 PM delivery

Jim & Ramona: half mushroom & cheese; half supreme

The best pizza around here, and the shop is less than a mile away, so we always get quick delivery of a hot pizza.


Dinner -- 6/15/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710


8:20- 9:10 PM

Ramona: Margarita Swirl, Chicken Pot Pie, house salad, iced tea

Jim: Chicken Pot Pie, Caesar salad, iced tea

After two weeks away from home, and 30 hours in the car from Philadelphia, who could expect us to go home and cook dinner, so we headed directly to Cheddar's. The chicken pot pies were meaty and delicious, and perfect for a late dinner. Never a disappointment at Cheddar's.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lunch -- 6/15/08

103 Restaurant Lounge
985 Highway 80 East (I-30 exit 103)
Calhoun, LA 71225


2:00 -- 2:45 PM

Ramona: Catfish and fries, iced tea

Jim: Cajun chicken tenders, fries, and iced tea

Anticipating an arrival time in Waco of about 8:00 PM, we decided to hold off on lunch until about two. We were in the middle of nowhere in Louisiana, and there were no food places of any kind we recognized. We saw a sign for "103 Restaurant," and decided to try it. I had immediate misgivings, because it was attached to a truck stop, but we were hungry, and the inside was attractive and clean.

This will be a regular stop on our trips across LA from now on. The food was made to order, and it was delicious. Ramona could barely finish her two large catfish fillets, and I was barely able to help her after my tasty (and only slightly spicy) Cajun chicken. Both dishes were perfect, and held us until we got to Cheddar's in Waco at about 8:15 PM


Dinner -- 6/14/08

Bridge's Barbecue Lodge
Highway 74
Shelby, TN


Ramona & Jim: Pulled pork barbecue plate, hush puppies, fries, beans, barbecue slaw, iced tea

Driving through North Carolina on I-85, Ramona reminded me we were only a few miles from Shelby and the absolute best barbecue anywhere (sorry Texas!). The hush puppies are superb, and so are the beans and the barbecue slaw. The meat was tender and the sauce to die for. If you are EVER, within even 100 miles of Shelby, it is more than well worth the detour. You might even hang around this small town for a second meal later in the day.


Breakfast -- 6/14/08

McDonald's #5259
226 Belle Hill Rd.
Elkton, MD 21922


Ramona: Steak, egg, & cheese bagel, hash brown, coffee

Jim: two breakfast burritos, hash brown, coffee

Whenever we are in a hurry, McDonald's breakfast is the best bet. Their coffee is drinkable, and the breakfast menu is pretty good. We were in and out and back on the road in no time at all -- most anxious to get back to our own bed in Waco!


Dinner -- 6/13/08

Gallo's Seafood
8101 Roosevelt Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19152


6:15 - 7:45 PM

Ramona: Grey Goose Orange Cosmo, Broiled combo (shrimp, scallops, flounder, deviled crab, crab cake), baked potato, cole slaw

Jim: Grey Goose Orange Cosmo, Broiled combo (shrimp, scallops, flounder, deviled crab, crab cake), baked potato, eggplant parmesan

Shared: 12 blue point oysters (raw)

Another must stop place in Philly, and this was an especially good visit, since we treated my parents for Father's day. The food was perfectly prepared, which we expected because of the long wait. Everything is made to order. The OTC (Original Trenton Crackers) and horseradish really opens the sinuses while waiting for the appetizer. The atmosphere was relaxed, and despite the crowd on a Friday night (including a wedding reception!) the wait for a table was short and the service great.

We thought the portion seemed smaller than last time, but we left well-satisfied. My mother could not finish her deviled crab cake. The rolls were also first rate.


Lunch -- 6/13/08

You Zen
2455 Grant Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19114

12:55 - 1:59 PM

Ramona, Jim & Mary: Miso soup, Sushi platter for 2: 8 nigiri [2 tuna, 2 shrimp, 2 salmon, 1 fluke, 1 eel] & 4 rolls [California, Tuna, Yellow Tail, eel and cucumber], 4 pieces of eel, iced tea, fried banana and honey

Yum!! This sushi was fresh and delicious. The pieces were a good size. The miso soup was tasty and steaming hot. The only problem was getting refills on iced tea, and when we got the bill, the server charged us for each refill! Not good. Next time, water! My sister Mary was our guest for this great lunch.


Breakfast -- 6/13/08

Red Robin Diner
6330 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19135

(215) 338-8643

9:00 --9:50 AM

Ramona: Scrapple, one egg, hashbrown, OJ, coffee, rye toast

Jim: Scrapple, two eggs, hashbrown, tomato juice, coffee, rye toast

Another must stop on any trip to Philly -- this diner is right around the corner from my parents' home, and they treated us to breakfast for our surprise visit. Scrapple is number one on the menu for a reason. Some think this is the same as "liver mush" sold in the wilds of North Carolina, but there is no similarity beyond the shape and how it is cooked (fried). The coffee was also great, and the service, with that wonderful Philly accent, is another treat.


Dinner -- 6/12/08

Wawa #8009
6506 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19135

8:20 PM (Take out)

Ramona: Turkey and cheese shorti, Lays Classic Chips, Diet Coke, Tastykake chocolate cupcakes

Jim: Ham & Cheese shorti (with extra meat), Wawa pretzel, Snapple Green Tea, Tastykake jelly krimpets

The very best hoagies in Philly! Most of these stores are open 24 hours, and they are always crowded, so the turnover keeps everything perfectly fresh. The rolls they use are superb -- nothing like them in Texas at all. We did not make it to Jim's Steaks this short trip to Philly, but Wawa hoagies are a close second.

My, oh my what we wouldn't give for a Wawa in Waco!


Lunch -- 6/12/08

Cracker Barrel #193
Cross Lanes, WV

11:00 --11:40 AM

Ramona & Jim: Roast Turkey Dinner, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, iced tea

We were eating at Cracker barrel, so it must be Thursday. The only place to get a turkey dinner in Waco is at our Cracker Barrel, so, whenever we are on the road on a Thursday, that's where we eat. We had to ask for cranberry sauce (a minor annoyance), and then the server told us they were out, which sounded kind of weird to be out so early on the only day they offered turkey! However, a few minutes later, she came out with two servings, complaining someone had moved them.

Is it our imagination or are portions getting smaller in restaurants these days?

Nevertheless, the turkey was delicious.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dinner -- 6/11/08

Gasthaus German Restaurant
4812 Brownsboro Center
Louisville, KY 40207


5:50 - 7:10 PM

Ramona: Sauerbraten, red cabbage, pan fried potatoes with onions, Dortfelder Wine, apple strudel

Jim: Sauerbraten, sauerkraut, spaetzel, Dortfelder Wine, cherry strudel

We wanted our last dinner for this visit to Louisville to be something special, so we scanned the old reliable yellow pages and found an interesting place. Gasthaus is on the outskirts of Louisville, and even with rush hour traffic, it only took us about 10 minutes to travel the 8 miles.
And did we find a gem!

This small restaurant had a wonderful and cozy atmosphere, and the food was delightful. The sauerbraten was so tender it could be cut with a fork. The red cabbage was sweet, and the sauerkraut (one of my favorite sides, which is rather rare) was tangy and delicious. The spaetzel reminded me of those my grandmother used to make.

We both agreed that this place had to be on our must-visit list for next year.


Dinner -- 6/10/08

Chung King Palace
110 E. Market St.
Louisville, KY 40202


6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Ramona: Wonton soup, egg roll, Mu Shu Pork, iced tea, diet coke, fortune cookie

Jim: Wonton soup, egg roll, Chicken with pineapple, iced tea, fortune cookie

Ramona's fortune: Confucius say: show-off always shown up in showdown

Jim's fortune: You will make change for the better

This restaurant was chosen for its proximity to our hotel more than any other reason. After a long day of grading, Jim was exhausted and had another meeting to attend at 7:30. The food was fine, nothing special, but certainly a far cry from the worst Chinese we've ever had. The iced tea tasted funny to me, so I subsequently ordered a diet coke. As usual, I had enough left over to make a nice lunch the next day.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Dinner -- 6/9/08

Volare Italian Restaurant
2300 Frankfort Ave
Louisville, KY 40206


5:30 - 6:45 PM

Ramona: Lasagna Salsiccia

Jim: Chicken Parmigiana

Shared: Fried calamari with marinara sauce, Villa Pozzi 2007 (Italy)

One of our last dinners in Louisville is this visit to a first-rate Italian restaurant owned by the same man who owns Saffron's Persian Cuisine. The atmosphere was elegant, and the decor was exquisite. Our table faced a wall length mural of a scene from Venice. The music was Italian classics.

The dinner was fabulous! Chicken Parmigiana is my favorite Italian dish and this was one of the best I have ever had. Volare's version included two large chicken breasts and a generous portion of spaghetti with sauce. Ramona's Lasagna was tasty and had just the right amount of spices.

We looked at the dessert menu, and could not decide among the seven offerings. We decided that was an omen, because we were too stuffed to fit anything in there anyway.

Now we have a problem. The next time we come to Louisville, where do we go first?


Lunch -- 6/10/08

Wolfgang Puck Express @KICC
221 S. Fourth St.
Louisville, KY 40202


11:50 a.m. - 12:55 p.m.

Ramona: Chinois chicken salad (chicken breast, asian vegetables, crispy wontons, honey mustard dressing), iced tea

Jim: Rotisserie beef and Gorgonzola pocket (pita bread stuffed with beef, chopped romaine lettuce, red onions, Roma tomatoes, horseradish Caesar dressing), Yukon Gold Parmesan potato chips, iced tea

Excellent salad, although the first one I was served had no chicken in it but the waiter quickly brought me another; yummy pocket sandwich. Proximity to convention center makes this a handy spot. Menu also boasts pizzas and several pasta dishes in addition to the salads and pocket sandwiches.

P.S. Check out the web site. Recipes are available!


Dinner -- 6/8/08

Saffron's Persian Cuisine
131 W. Market St.
Louisville, KY 40202


6:20 - 7:45 PM

Ramona: Salmon on basmati rice with a shrimp kabob, grilled veggies (tomato, onion, yellow pepper), tomato and cucumber with yogurt dressing, flan, iced tea

Jim: Chicken and mushroom stew (chicken, mushrooms, hand-made potato sticks, grilled veggies (tomato, onion, yellow pepper), tomato and cucumber with yogurt dressing, flan, iced tea

Shared: watercress, mint, and tarragon, and feta cheese on pita bread

Normally not open on Sunday, Majid, the owner, told us he would open for the AP readers, since all 1500 of us needed a place to eat on Sunday evening. I was happy to see so many people came -- a constant stream of diners came through while we were there. We heard all of them praise the dinner as they left.

It is no exaggeration to say this is one of the jewels of Louisville, Kentucky. We had a completely different experience here from last Wednesday, and we were just as pleased with the result.

The stew was tasty, and I am glad I got it, even though I was sorely tempted to order the rack of lamb again. Ramona's salmon was a large portion and wonderfully prepared. The rice (basmati -- our favorite) was delicately perfumed with saffron.

Again, we can't wait to get back here next year.


Dinner -- 6/7/08

Morton's The Steakhouse
626 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202


6:30 to 8:15 PM

Ramona: Morton's salad, single-cut filet, baked potato with butter, sour cream, bacon, decaf coffee, Morton's hot chocolate cake with Haagen Daz's vanilla ice cream

Jim: Morton's salad, double-cut prime rib, baked potato with butter, sour cream, cappuccino, raspberry souffle with Haagen Daz's vanilla ice cream

Shared: Colossal shrimp cocktail, Chateau Bouscasse, 2003 (France)

One of the finest meals we have had since our journey began. Our server, James J. K., III was attentive and knowledgeable about the menu. A good server ALWAYS enhances a fine dining experience. James even took our picture, and presented us with a copy before we left. Since this was my birthday dinner, Morton's provided us with personalized menus. The background music -- Sinatra, Fitzgerald, Bessie Smith, Lou Rawls and others -- was exactly our kind of music.

The "colossal" shrimp cocktail was exactly that! Those babies were the size of my hand, and Morton's cocktail sauce was sweet and complimented them well. We actually shared a baked potato, and neither of us could finish our half.

Ramona's filet was perfectly prepared and the tenderest steak I have ever eaten. Likewise, my prime rib was perfect in every way. James explained to us that Morton's served only corn fed, Midwestern, prime cuts, and that makes all the difference in the taste, texture, and juiciness.

We made a mistake in ordering two desserts (oops! I did not hear James say the souffle was for two) but this is one of those mistakes we love to make. The souffle was light and airy and delicious as any we have had anywhere. Chocolate lover's alert: Morton's Hot Chocolate Cake will not disappoint in the slightest. We wonder what the chocolate souffle was like. Three desserts? Maybe next time!

The wine. One of our favorite things is page through a wine list in a binder with 20-30 pages. There was plenty to choose from, and the list of French reds was extensive. The Chateau Bouscasse, 2003 was full-bodied, with a slight oak flavor and complimented our steaks well.

This was our second experience at this Morton's. We ate here on my birthday in 2007, so there was no question of coming here for the occasion. We are already looking forward to 2009.

A must stop on any trip to Louisville, Kentucky.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dinner -- 6/6/08

T.G.I. Friday's
415 S. 4th
Louisville, KY 40202


5:45 -- 6:20 PM

Ramona & Jim: Fish & chips, fries, iced tea.

After the last two dinners, we had to take it easy tonight, because we both know what is coming tomorrow (Saturday) night.

What the heck is it with lemons? T.G.I. Friday's was out of lemons! McDonald's in Waco, no longer carries lemons. Burger King? No lemons. Cheap S.O.Bs.

Just a quick , light dinner in preparation for Friday. Come back tomorrow and check that out!


Friday, June 6, 2008

Lunch -- 6/6/08

Bistro 301
301 W. Market St.
Louisville, KY 40203


12:00 - 12:50 p.m.

Jim: Hot Brown, iced tea

Ramona: Hot Brown, iced tea

Shared: French fries

Bistro 301 is a great place for lunch just across the street from the Louisville Convention Center. However, its popularity means that there often is a short wait for a table. We were lucky today; since I didn't have any meetings, I was able to get there shortly before 12 and snared the last available table. It was a short wait for Jim to join me.

The Kentucky Hot Brown is a classic dish created in Louisville in 1926. Bistro 301's rendition consists of smoked turkey, bacon, tomato, Parmesan and Jack cheese, finished with Mornay sauce and served golden brown. Jim was a little disappointed in the dish and also with the lack of regular mustard for his fries. I had no complaints!


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dinner -- 6/5/08

Vincenzo's Italian Restaurant
150 South Fifth Street
Louisville, KY 40202


6:20 - 8:20 PM

Ramona: Caesar salad, pollo con asparagi, green beans, peppers, roasted red potato, coffee, Belgian white chocolate mousse with raspberry coulis

Jim: Caesar salad, vitello saltimbocca, green beans, peppers, roasted red potato, Cappuccino, tiramisu

Shared: Pouilly-Fume (France, 2002)

Is there anything better (that you can do in pubic) besides fine dining? Imagine, fresh flowers on the table, candles, white linen tablecloths, attentive waiters who drape your napkin on your lap, an excellent wine list with dozens of pages and many, many fine French wines, and a menu that is mouthwatering, and proves to be better than they sound.

Two nights in a row gave us an outstanding dining experience. The food was perfect. The table side preparation of the Caesar salad was especially good. Ramona's chicken was juicy and tasty. My veal was tender and perfectly seasoned. The wine was superb, and the desserts were nothing less than fabulous -- my tiramisu was about six layers and coated with dark chocolate.

Our thanks to Steve S. for a great meal. Another place for our annual visit to Louisville that we will not pass up. You should not pass it up either.


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dinner -- 6/4/08

Saffron's Persian Cuisine
131 W. Market St.
Louisville, KY 40202


6:00 - 7:15 PM

Ramona: Absolut Mandarin Cosmopolitan, Beef and Chicken kabob, saffron rice, Persian ice cream (with saffron, rosewater, and crushed pistachios).

Jim: Absolut Mandarin Cosmopolitan, rack of lamb, saffron rice, grilled vegetables, Persian ice cream (with saffron, rosewater, and crushed pistachios).

Shared: watercress and feta cheese with pita bread, quail in carrot sauce, Cantina Zaccagnini (Montepulciano d'Abruzzo -- Italy) 2003

This was an absolutely exquisite meal. We ate here last year, and decided this was the first place we would go to upon arrival in Louisville.

Maher was an attentive, friendly, and gracious server. He never hovered, but he always knew when we needed more bread, or wine, or dishes removed.

One of the finest restaurants we have experienced anywhere. We plan on visiting again on Sunday night. This is a meal that needs to be savored, and it is a meal that deserves a 30% tip. Normally not open on Sunday, the owner told us he would open for the AP readers. I hope we can spread the word and get a good crowd.

If you ever visit Louisville, KY, Saffron's must be at the top of your list for dining. A unique and wonderful experience.


Dinner -- 6/3/08

Calhoun's Restaurant
400 Neyland Dr.
Knoxville, TN 37902


Ramona: 1/2 slab ribs, cole slaw, beans, Long Island tea

Jim: Fried catfish, cole slaw, Tennessee corn pudding, iced tea

One of our favorite places in Knoxville, and visiting the grandchildren makes this an added treat.
Langston was a great waiter -- he always kept my iced tea glass full.

Their ribs are terrific, among the best anywhere. The catfish was tasty and three good sized pieces were more than filling.


Lunch -- 6/3/08

Five Guys Burgers and Fries
7531 Barnett Way
Powell, TN 37849


2:00 -2:55 PM

Ramona: "little" cheeseburger with mushrooms, onions, and ketchup, diet Coke

Jim: Cheeseburger, mushrooms, ketchup, iced tea

Shared: large french fries

These were far and away the best hamburgers we have ever had, and there are a few great hamburgers in Waco -- Captain Billy Whizbangs, J&R Burgers, Kitoks, and (in a pinch) Whataburger. The fries were spectacular.

The manager told us that 18 locations would soon open in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, so that is good news.

Lunch -- 6/1/08

Noshville Delicatessen
1918 Broadway
Nashville, TN 37203


11:00 -- 11:45 AM

Ramona: Reuben sandwich and fries, diet Coke

Jim: Canadian bacon and sunny side up eggs, rye toast, coffee

One of Ramona's favorite places in Music City from her days at Vanderbilt University. An old fashioned deli with pickles on the table and a no-nonsense deli menu. Breakfast all day. Food was great, and so was the coffee. Great service, too.


Dinner - 5/31/08

Cracker Barrel #372
W. Memphis, AR

5:45 - 6:30 PM

Ramona: Country Pork Chops, fried okra, hash brown casserole, iced tea

Jim: Chicken Fried Chicken, baby carrots, fried apples, iced tea

Shared: Blackberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream

We left for Louisville, KY and a week of grading essays for the AP English Program. Cracker Barrel is a great and dependable place to stop for meals on the road. The food is good, portions reasonable, and the service good.

Breakfast is also especially good!


Dinner -- 5/30/08

La Fiesta
3615 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710


Ramona: Chicken, spinach and mushroom enchiladas, black beans, rice, sopapilla, iced tea

Jim: Chicken enchilada, bean burrito, soft chicken taco, rice, beans, sopapilla, iced tea

Shared: three dips and chips (queso, spinach)

Mexican food is not my favorite, but we do like La Fiesta, so it was time for us to head south of the border for a Mexican dinner. The appetizer (three dips) was great, although we substituted a second serving queso for the third dip on the menu. The chips were fresh and warm, and the platters were great! The sopapillas were a little small, but we were so stuffed it really didn't matter.


Dinner -- 5/28/08

Cheddar's Waco
4208 Franklin Ave
Waco, TX 76710

5:30- 6:50 PM

Ramona: Margarita Swirl, Grilled Chicken Oriental Salad, iced tea

Jim: Dijon Chicken, broccoli rice casserole, baby carrots, iced tea

After a tough week wrapping up a minimester class and an on-line graduate class, there was no way we could cook tonight. Cheddar's is always our first choice in this situation, and as we've said many times, we have never had a bad meal here. We also were seated immediately, so that was a plus. If you ever have a choice among chain restaurants, Cheddar's should be number one.