Sunday, October 7, 2012

Legends Steakhouse (Smyrna, TN)

1918 Almaville Road, Smyrna, TN 37167, T: 615-220-2115


Legends Steakhouse is a chain of six steakhouses situated mostly in Tennessee. The decor and menu is fairly standard: dark, brown, leather and steaks, ribs, burgers, chicken, pizza, salads, respectively. We have a sweet waitress, who is new and cannot really help us much with suggestions.

I thus go for a fairly classic order: a 9oz top sirloin with onion rings ($14.99). The steak is rather thin and more well-done than medium, as I had ordered. The taste is ok, nothing special. Similarly, the onion rings are ok, but taste fairly generic.I doubt that they were homemade.

VERDICT: 78/100
Legends Steakhouse offers rather standard fare at acceptable prices. Nothing remarkable, really.

Laziza Mediterranean Grill (Evans, GA)

4272 Washington Road  Evans, GA 30809, T: 706-504-4303


I know what you are thinking: a Mediterranean restaurant in the middle of nowhere, that doesn't bode well. I thought the same, but just really craved ME food! Hence, we went to Laziza, situated in a small strip mall in a suburb of Augusta, GA.

We start out with Jalapeno Humus ($3.99), which has a very nice taste and kick. The warm Lebanese bread is great to scoop. We also have Fatoosh (5.99), which is very crispy and has a fresh dressing. A good start!

For entrees, we have a Falafel Dinner ($9.99): big crispy falafels, which are fresh and tasty; the two sides are Red Pepper Humus (ok) and Tabbouleh (fresh and lemony). We also have a Spicy Chicken Shawarma Combo ($8.99): shaved chicken, pickled beet and pickle, and spicy wrapped in Lebanese bread - the chicken consistency is odd (very soft, not tender). The fries are standard: airy with crust.

VERDICT: 87/100
Laziza offers very decent Middle Eastern food, particularly for a non-urban setting. The Fattoosh, jalapeno hummus, and spicy chicken shawarma are the best; the falafel and Tabbouleh are good; the fries are mediocre.

Frozen Moo (Hilton Head Island, SC)

1 North Forest Beach Drive, Hilton Head Island, SC 29928,T: 843-842-3131


Frozen Moo is a very popular ice cream shop in a shopping mall close to the beach. It serves 92 flavors of ice cream, frozen yoghurt, sorbet and sherbet, including low fat and low carb.

I get a cone with one (large) scoop of Sunken Treasure: caramel, caramel cups and chocolate covered pecans ($3.21). It tastes exactly as it sounds: sweet! M. gets a small Sunday with one scoop of low fat caramel-pecan twist ($3.44): it is "bingerific" and very sweet.

VERDICT: 78/100
Frozen Moo serves many varieties of (too) sweet and (too) pricey ice cream.

Hot Dog Harbour (Hilton Head Island, SC)

1 North Forest Beach Drive  Hilton Head Island, SC 29928, T: 843-785-5400


We stumbled upon Hot Dog Harbour by accident, as I was looking for a (light) midday snack. I love hot dog places and while all shops on Hilton Head Island look the same, this place had a nice snack bar feeling inside. They opened in 2009 and serve a broad variety of hot dogs and some burgers.

Although I wasn't looking for a challenge, I was directly gripped by the "Titanic Dog Challenge." The Titanic Dog is a quarter pound sausage with mustard, chili, onions, cucumber, tomato, relish, slaw, jalapeƱos, Harbour Sauce, grated cheddar cheese, Texas Pete® hot sauce, a fried egg 'n bacon! It weighs approx. 2 lbs. and you have to eat it without a fork and knife and no napkins. I ate it without the cheddar and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was actually one of the best hot dogs I've ever eaten and the messiness of eating it with your hands only added to the pleasure. It only took me a couple of minutes, and I secretly wondered whether I could eat another one. But, as my wife was sitting next to me, I decided against it and simply had my picture taken for the Titanic Wall of Fame. :-)

VERDICT: 93/100
The Hot Dog Parlour is the type of hot dog place every town should have; locally run by people who love their business and come up with delicious challenges to make their customers feel good about stuffing themselves!

Al-Salaam Deli (Savannah, GA)

2311 Habersham St, Savannah, GA 31401, T: 912-447-0400


Al-Salaam Deli is a very small Middle Eastern deli that serves gyros, falafel, burgers, salads (unfortunately, this time they were out of Fattoosh), and Indian-type food (chicken curry and tikka). The people are very nice, but a bit slow.

We order a Chicken Curry Sandwich (5.99) and get it spicy rather than mild. The chicken is marinated and comes in a soft pita, which sucks up the spices of the more Indian-style sauce: excellent! We also order a Gyros with fries and a can of soda ($7.69). The gyros is very good: standard meat, but soft pita and subtle garlic sauce. The fries were very crispy and lightly spiced: excellent for generic fries.

VERDICT: 91/100
Al-Salaam is a great little place that serves authentic Middle Eastern snack, though with a surprise Indian twist. It is well off the beaten track, but worth a visit!

Little Cuba (Chamblee, GA)

3350 Chamblee Tucker Rd, Chamblee, GA 30341, T: 770-451-0025


Little Cuba is a cute little restaurant in an uninteresting strip mall just off the I-85, north of Atlanta. It seems to cater to a broad Hispanic clientele. Inside the little restaurant feels very authentic, making you forget the fact that you are in a dire strip mall.

I order a Cuban Sandwich ($5.50); what else? It is fairly classic: thick chunks of roasted pork, several layers of ham, pickles and mustard on pressed, but still soft, bread. It is decent, but not remarkable. It comes with (some) chips, which seem freshly made, but could use more salt/taste.

VERDICT: 78/100
Little Cuba offers decent Cuban food in a nice, authentic setting, letting you escape the dire surroundings of the Atlanta strip mall-suburbs.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Star Kebab (Florence, Italy)

Via dell'arriento 69, Florence, Tuscany 50123, Italy, T: 055-2654371

I know, why have kebab when you are in Firenze, home to some of the best of what Italian cuisine has to offer. Well, when you need a snack, around 3-4 PM, when all Italian restaurants are closed (between lunch and dinner). Star Kebab is a small kebab place in the multicultural part of Florence, which serves pizza, kebab, and Turkish specialties (although this day there is no Lahmacun). 

We get a Panino Kebab (€3.50/$4.50): a big bun, heated up to make it fresh and crunchy, shaved pieces of lightly spiced meat, very fresh lettuce, tomato and (spicy) onion, spicy sauce and garlic sauce. Surprisingly good!

VERDICT: 82/100
Star Kebab offers surprisingly affordable and good kebab in the center of an expensive city. A great alternative to good, but often expensive, Italian food.

Blue Ribbon Grill (Tucker, GA)

4006 Lavista Road, Tucker, GA 30084, USA, T: 770-491-1570


The Blue Ribbon Grill is a "neighborhood bar and restaurant" tucked away in a strip mall in a suburb of Atlanta. I had passed it several times before, but recently I read on a website that it had one of the best burgers in Atlanta. Although I was a bit suspicious of the list, as it missed some solid contenders, I decided to try it out anyway. Perhaps I should have taken more notice of the slogan: "You gotta eat somewhere and we need the money."

We started with a daily special, the chicken tortilla soup, and a classic staple, a half portion of the Golden Brown Onion Strings ($5.25). The soup was heavy, but tasty. The (huge portion of) onion strings were cut very thin and lightly battered; nice but lukewarm when served. I also liked the spicy horseradishy sauce.

I then had the Montana 'Big Sky' Bison Burger with a side of homemade chips ($10.95). The thick dry burger came on a thick dry bun. Not that much taste. Ok, but nothing special. The homemade chips were still warm, but kind of chewy and with a stale taste.

VERDICT: 71/100
The Blue Ribbon Grill is nothing special, but affordable, and offering a nice look into a long-forgotten time.