Thursday, February 5, 2015

Grido Helado (Valparaíso, Chile)

Plaza Sotomayor, Valparaíso, Chile

Grido Helado is a chain of ice cream parlors in Latin America, founded in Argentina, and currently with branches in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Its ice cream can also be bought in shops.

To be honest, I forgot how much I paid for the two scoop cone, but I think it was around $3. One of the flavors was a kind of stracciatella, which was not bad, but lacked the creamy taste of real Italian gelato. The other was orange and looked quite artificial, but tasted quite good.

VERDICT: 83/100
Not bad, but certainly not “the best ice cream in Latin America”.

Dominó (Santiago, Chile)

35 Hernando de Aquirre, Providencia, Santiago, Chile

Dominó (La Fuente de Soda de Chile) is a chain of restaurants that is known for its sandwiches and fresh juices. It offers an almost endless combination of sandwiches, where you combine type of meat )beef, pork, chicken) with style of condiments (mostly tomato, avocado, and green beans).

I order the “Mechada Chacarero” (Ps 4.300 / ca. $7). The sandwich comes on a large soft white bun. It includes a fairly thick piece of boiled (?) pork, which has pieces of carrot in it, with tomato and green beans, (snijbonen). It is quite refreshing even if it tastes overall fairly bland. Good that there are 5 different kinds of mustard on the table to add some taste.

VERDICT: 78/100
I assume they are really good at what they do, but I am just not such a big fan of what they do.

California Cantina & Restaurant (Santiago, Chile)

Las Urbinas 44/56, Providencia, Santiago, Chile, T: 2-361-10-56

California Cantina & Restaurant seems to be Santiago’s favorite (American) sports bar according to both locals and tourists. It gets great reviews online, so I decided to go there to watch the college football National Championship game. As I arrive, half an hour before kick-off, the place is already buzzing outside and in (it is a beautiful summer evening). There are far more Chileans than Americans, which I hadn’t expected. The menu is classic Californian sports pub: flatbread pizzas, burgers, tacos, wings. Unfortunately, on this evening they are out of almost everything except of burgers and flatbreads… no nachos for me.

I start with “La Loca Caliente” (Ps 4900 / ca. $8), a shortbread pizza with ‘red sauce’, pepperoni, pineapple, jalapenos, and cilantro (I leave Mozzarella off). The
Thin crust is a bit dry, but the pizza is overall quite tasty (despite lacking cheese) and has a good kick.

I later order the 3 Mini Burgers (Ps 6000 / ca. $9.50), which allows you to choose whatever combination of the eight options. I get one Maverick’s Big Wave (bacon, jalapenos & BBQ sauce), one Surf City U.S.A. (pineapple & teriyaki), and one San Francisco (grilled mushrooms). All come on a (bit too) big fresh bun and taste good, if a bit alike (quite sweet). The fries are pretty good.

VERDICT: 83/100
Good foreign version of American sports bar.

Flannery’s Irish Geo Pub (Santiago, Chile)

Las Condes, Santiago, Chile, T: 2-233-6675

I would normally not be caught dead in an Irish pub, let alone eat there, but Flannery’s is opposite to my hotel and I want to catch the second half of the Broncos-Colts game (we won!), so Irish Pub it is. Although it isn’t very busy, it easily takes 15 minutes before a waiter comes over. It would take another 15 minutes before another one finally brings my soda. You can imagine how long I will have to wait for my food (seriously, easily 20 minutes, if not longer).

I’m getting a BBQ Burger (Ps 5.550 or ca. $9). When it finally arrives, it turns out to be so bulky that it would make a US burger feel insecure about its size. The thick and large burger (a bit too well done but crunchy on the sides) comes on a big bun with huge lettuce leaves, huge slices of tomato, and caramelized onions and BBQ sauce (I ask for no cheddar). The burger is tasty, if a bit too salty. The BBQ sauce is (too) sweet and underwhelming. The fries are very thick and most are not very soft inside.


VERDICT: 84/100

It’s an Irish bar, what else can you expect (well, much faster service, ok).

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Vickery’s Bar & Grill (Atlanta, GA)

933 Garrett Street #101, Atlanta, GA 30316, T: 404-627-8818

Vickery’s Bar & Grill has been in East Atlanta since 1983. It is one of the many restaurants in the Southeast that specializes in a modern and fancy interpretation of Southern food (normally not my thing). It looks a bit like a fancy sports bar, sending vibes of inclusion and exclusion at the same time. The waiter is fairly pretentious but fails to remember most of our orders and regularly returns to ask again (write it down dude!).


We started with the Fried Calamari ($11), which comes with sweet chili sauce, cilantro, and onions & peppers. It was absolutely delicious! The Maytag Bleu Cheese Chips ($7) with bacon, chives, blue cheese crumbles, pico de gallo & bleu cheese sauce (all cheese on side) was also very good. Chips were fresh and crunchy. I then moved on to the Fried Catfish Sandwich ($12), one of the few Southern things I really like. The large piece of catfish was fresh and pan-fried and came with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, cilantro, and tartar sauce on Cuban bread. One of the best I have ever had! The accompanying fries are tasty but nt remarkable.

VERDICT: 91/100
While technically not a real pig out spot, but a serious restaurant, it serves various pig out staples (burgers, fried fish and chicken), and does so deliciously.

Arepa Mia (Decatur, GA)

307 East College Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030, T: 404-600-3509.

Arepa Mia is a relatively new addition to the broad range of foods offered in Decatur – it also has a location at the Sweet Auburn Curb Market. It offers traditional Venezuelan dishes with all natural ingredients. Their specialties are arepas (maize flatbread), cachapas (corn pancakes), and the more familiar empanadas. It is bumping when I arrive, around 1.30 on a Friday afternoon. Almost 50 people have squeezed themselves into this very small restaurant, waiting (im)patiently for their food.

I get an Arapas Pernil ($8.50), which is a grilled patty of corn meal, soft and doughy, with a massive amount of slow roasted pork, caramelized onions, and Arepa Mia’s special sauce. It is DELICIOUS!

VERDICT: 92/100
This is what pigging out is all about! A hole in the wall with affordable and very tasty snacks!

Mezes Greek Grill (Ann Arbor, MI)

715 N University St, Ann Arbor, MI, T: 734-369-2204

Mezes Greek Grill is a little Greek restaurant in a passage with a couple of ‘ethnic’ restaurants. It has a couple of seats inside, but it seems mainly to cater to take-away guests. The people who work in the place are very enthusiastic and polite.

I order the Souvlaki Plate ($8.95): it looks amazing and tastes pretty good. The fries are very thick and look crunchier than they are. The gyros souvlaki is fresh, but the grilled pork cubes are a bit dry, and the sauce is underwhelming. The best thing, oddly enough, is the small Greek salad. Deliciously seasoned and fresh and very diverse ingredients.

VERDICT: 87/100
The presentation and taste of the food resembles more that of a restaurant than of a gyros place.