Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Matt's Bar (Minneapolis, MN)

3500 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407-2339, T: 612-722-7072

I met my friend R. at Matt's Bar, an institution in Minneapolis, know around the country (after having been featured on Man v Food) as the "Home of the Original Jucy Lucy". You would hardly notice it from the outside, as it looks like a regular non-descriptive bar where only locals alcoholics come. In fact, you get the same feeling inside... until you get your food.

R. ordered the Jucy Lucy ($4.95), which is a double cheeseburger where the cheese being grilled in between the patties. I went for a double hamburger ($4.95), which comes only with two juicy patties and grilled onions. This notwithstanding, it tastes excellent. We shared a big basket of french fries ($4.25), which were thin and crispy.

VERDICT: 90/100
Matt's Bar is an American original. Just a regular dark pub with a long bar and at the end of it a small grill and two fry daddies. It only does burgers and fries, but it does them so well that you have to go and visit!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Capogiro (Philadelphia, PA)

3925 Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104

Capogiro Gelato is a company that prides itself in making "fine artisanal Gelato and Sorbetto". It sells its ice cream through selected higher end stores and a couple of cafes. I visited the one in University City, Philadelphia. In addition to gelato and sorbetto, the cafe also serves coffee and sandwiches.

After enduring some of the slowest service since moving from Eastern Europe, I ordered a medio cup ($5.75) with three scoops. The chocolate banana was mainly chocolate with a hint of banana, not quite what I had expected. The papaya was quite bland, but fortunately the pineapple tasted very fresh. All were clearly cream based, though the papaya came closest to sorbetto.

VERDICT: 79/100
Capogiro makes pretty decent ice cream for US standards, though overall the tastes are a bit bland and the sorbettos taste a bit creamy.

Rita's Water Ice (Philadelphia, PA)

2200 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA, T: 215-465-7110

Rita's Water Ice is famous in the US and can be bought in supermarkets all over the country. While they were founded in Pennsylvania, and are an institution in Philadelphia, they have more than 100 franchises in nine states. I went to one of the originals, around the block of two other Phialdelphia institutions: Geno's Steaks and Pat's King of Steaks (in fact, I came from the former).

Rita's has an extensive menu of Italian Ice, Sugar-Free Italian Ice, Cream Ice, and a number of trade marked other cold treats. In addition, all of them come in a dazzling variety of tastes. I decided upon a passion fruit Italian ice, which came in a large cup. The ice was very tasty and refreshing, although a tat too sweet.

VERDICT: 88/100
In a country dominated by too sweet ice cream, Rita's provides some solace to the water ice lover. Although it is not real Italian ice, it comes close. Most importantly, it is really fresh!

Elbow Room Pub & Deli (Indianapolis, IN)

605 N Pennsylvania Street Indianapolis, IN 46204, T: 317-635-3354

The Elbow Room Pub & Deli is more a pub & restaurant, than a pub & deli and is famous in Indy for its burgers. Although I had seen its burger described in many lists of best burgers in Indy, and had passed the place by several times, I had never gone in and put the burger to the test.

Obviously, I ordered the Elbow Room Burger ($7.99), which is (locally) famous for coming on Texas toast rather than your general hamburger bun. The patty weighs half a pound and came perfectly medium cooked, with Cajun spices and fried onions on top. The lettuce, tomato and pickles are the other slice of Texas toast. Overall, a very juicy and tasty burger, but it could have done with a special sauce. The fries cost $0.99 extra, which is weird, but are worth it. They are long and thick, but perfectly fried and very tasty.

VERDICT: 89/100
The Elbow Room Pub & Deli sure knows how to make a burger! Its signature dish is a big burger with a toast twist. Next time I will ask for some bbq sauce though. That said, I might go for one of the other intriguing sandwiches next time. One thing is certain, however; there will be a next time!

Jaf's (Oslo, Norway)

Grefsenveien 57, 0487 Oslo, Norway.

Jaf's is a hamburger/kebab chain in Norway, with most of its restaurants in the Oslo area. It has a fairly diverse menu with different sizes and types of hamburgers, chicken dishes, kebabs, pizzas, shakes, and sodas.

I ordered a kebab plate, which cost NOK 95 (12 Euro), which included NOK 10 (1.25 Euro) for eating in. It included a generous portion of 'meat' and fries, a pita, some salad, and a soft drink. The kebab looked like shoarma, but tasted and had the soft texture of kebab. It came covered under a combination of garlic and spicy sauce, which was delicious. The fries were hot and crispy and covered with paprika powder, which gives them a nice kick. Finally, there were enough greens to stuff the pita and enjoy a spicy pita shoarma/kebab.

VERDICT: 87/100
Although it was my first snack in Oslo, it was also my best and probably best value for money. Sure, 12 Euro is too much for a kebab plate, but at least this one was really tasty!

Dennis Grill (Oslo, Norway)

Dennis Grill, Dronningens gate 34, 0154 Oslo, Norway, T: 22-42-49-81

Dennis Grill is one of the largest shoarma restaurants I have seen in Oslo. It is located at the corner of the largest shopping street of the city, Karl Johans gate, and serves real Turkish dishes next to the usual suspects (i.e. burgers, shoarma, chicken).

I ordered a kebab plate with a drink, which set me back NOK 159 (20 Euro). Fortunately, the plate was at least big and they were not skimpy on the food! The fries were a bit old, and they didn't have much paprika powder on them, but the meat was nicely spiced and the garlic sauce added flavor to meat and fries. There was also plenty of salad, not common in Norway.

VERDICT: 80/100
Dennis Grill seems to be one of the better snackbars in Oslo. Their shoarma is very decent and they offer more choice than similar places. Sure, they are expensive, but hey, that's Norway!

Cafe Spisevogna (Bærum, Norway)

Cafe Spisevogna, Otto Sverdrups plass 1, 1337 Sandvika (Bærum), Norway, T: 67-80-40-65.

Cafe Spisevogna is a typical Oslo snackbar, which means heavily overpriced kebab and burgers. As everywhere in Norway, burgers are priced by the meat's weight. It is located inside of the Sandvika railway station.

I had the choice of three hamburger meals: 100g (NOK 95/12 Euro), 160g (110/14), and 250g (quarterpounder) (119/15); I went for the 160g. The burger looked pretty big, but is made of processed meat (definitely not pure beef); however, it was fried, not deep fried, which was a positive. It came on a large soft bun with quite a lot of greens and some kind of thousand island sauce. Quite filling, but hardly tasting like meat. The portions of french fries are prepacked, to control the weight! They come with steak spices and were freshly made; although they are not real potatoes, but rather potato extract (like in the Netherlands and many snackbars in Germany), they were quite tasty.

VERDICT: 73/100
This is a very mediocre burger, which hardly has any meat taste to it. The portions are quite generous, but the prices fairly steep (although quite normal for Norway.