Archive for February, 2009

Granny’s Kitchen, Lakewood NJ

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

My friends and I eat breakfast out every Tuesday morning, usually in the same place but lately we’ve been trying to find some new places to go. So I print out a coupon from Restaurant.com ( which in itself is a great place to visit and take advantage of) for Granny’s Kitchen and proceed to place it on my refrigerator for almost 1 year before finally using it on this past Tuesday.

Granny’s is in Lakewood on the Bricktown border in the Home Depot plaza on Rte 70 east Since Granny’s is in a town some 25 miles from my neighborhood, I don’t have any sense of what type of place it is.  Upon arriving and at first glance it appears that Granny’s is a diner/luncheonette (remember that word?). Upon entering the first thing you notice is a broken down and cluttered wind break area between the two doors that lead to the seating area. We are seated quickly (and given menus) at a table that does not fit three men of our stature, so we move to another table that allows more elbow room.

Ordering takes awhile since the menu is pretty extensive and two sided, but we navigate to the Steak and Eggs which seems to be a good deal compared to the other breakfast specials and regular meals. We order three Rib eye steaks and eggs, all med rare, all over medium eggs, which also include toast and home fries. Vinny, as I like to call him, can not just eat breakfast but has to order some types of sides to start. Usually toasted corn muffins are his preference as it is today. He also orders a short stack of ‘cakes as Gus orders up a side of potato pancakes.

The corn muffin arrives first and we all agree that it tastes like fish oil. Not a good muffin at all. Eggs are being served as we set aside the muffin.  The steaks turn out to be cut “thinner than the slices of toast”,  a quote from Gus, and our eggs are browned and yolks are dried up. The home fried potatoes are a mix of what looks like old and new. some of which are blackened throughout. As it is we proceed to eat most of the food served to us and complain as we do that we won’t be returning to feast here again.

Okay so lets look at the good first. The waitress was friendly and competent. The food was served quickly and nothing was incorrect or missing. Now the bad. The eggs were overcooked, the steak was about 3 ozs, pre cooked weight, the potatoes black and white. The pancakes were average but as Vinny noted the syrup was very good. “Thick”, he said. The potato pancakes were the type that are served in almost every place in New Jersey. Frozen, pre-made and fried in deep fat and served up with apple sauce and sour cream. No comment.

So there you have it, although as bad as the meal was, it wasn’t as bad as the run down and dirty dining room. The over head fans were thick with dust, the air registers were black and the walls were in desperate need of new paint. The type of walls that had pictures framed in dirt from being there so long.  I almost feel bad writing such a bad review but I can’t find anything that would make me return for a second try.

Too bad because the wait staff was very nice and deserve a better working environment. It would definitely make for better tips. It almost seems like the owner has given up on his investment and refuses to put any effort into cleaning up.

For three steak and eggs, one short stack, one potato pancake, two corn muffins and  three iced coffees, a grand total of $42.23. With the Restaurant.com coupon we save 50% which puts us at $21+. We drop $30 on the table and bid the place ad

Regular Guy rating * 1/2

Granny’s Kitchen

Rte 70 East

Lakewood New Jersey

Lighthouse Tavern, Barnegat NJ

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Tonight my friend and music editor for this site, are dining together. He is in town for a visit and wants a steak dinner but I draw a blank to where we can find a good steak. On our way up rte 9 I spot the Lighthouse and remember in years past, having a good meal there.  If you have ever been to the Lighthouse, it is hard to determine if it is a restaurant with a bar or a bar with a restaurant. Tonight sadly, it is a bar with a restaurant.

It is a very busy night for the Lighthouse crew. People are lined up at 6pm for tables. We happen to get lucky and land a deuce without wait which is great because we are hungry. Our waiter, who never told us his name, brings us menus and promises a return for a drink order.  Tonight’s specials include, what else,  but a steak dinner.  Ny strip steak with mushrooms, bacon and crumbled bleu cheese, served with jumbo grilled shrimp, vegetables and a choice of potatoes or onion rings. The description makes us immediately opt for two orders.

While waiting for the meal, we are served our salads. Mine although a little warm, is the best of the two. My friends salad looked like half had slid off the plate before it reached our table.  Where’s the bread we ask and the waiter returns with a warm basket of french style bread.

The salads go down and the bread disappears but the entre’s are now in front of us. To both our surprise, the steak is buried beneath a layer of bleu cheese sauce, which is extremely thick and overflowing the plate. In this sauce are my mushrooms and bacon, both of which a very hard to find. A very disappointing start when your really craving a steak. I proceed to scrape off the sauce to look for my hopefully, buried treasure below. The steak is done medium rare which is how I ordered it, so that is one for the plus side. The steak is also tender and flavorful as it is dredged in a Cajun sprinkle. Proceeding to the onion rings brings more sorrow than glee. They are cold and mushy, which are a very bad combination for such a great side to a steak dinner. The vegetables are over seasoned with salt and can not be eaten.

Grilled jumbo shrimp sounds great to me, if in fact you GET grilled jumbo shrimp!!!! If you know shrimp, they are sold in increments of size ( amount) per pound. Shrimp that are considered under 15 or U15, are in the jumbo category, although closer to U12’s are really nice for jumbo shrimp. In fact at my wedding I insisted on U12’s for the shrimp cocktail bar which was the hit of the event. My friends still comment on how great the shrimp were.  If you want to leave a lasting impression with shrimp, serve  U 12’s, or don’t do it at all.

Our shrimp were probably in the 16-21 range. Good for those shrimp rings in the supermarket that you see in the freezer sections, but bad for a steak and shrimp dish.  Serve me 4  jumbo shrimp instead of 6 or 7 smaller ones. The bigger ones always taste better and make a much nicer presentation. I eat most of my steak and leave the rest on my plate.

Upon clearing our dishes the waiter asks if everything was okay and we hesitate and reply it was “alright I guess”. The waiter takes our plates  and leaves without question about our reply. Too bad because this is the only way a kitchen gets feedback for its hard work.

Price for both steaks, a diet soda and a Corona beer $52.00. Add a $10 tip for mediocre service and there you have it.

Regular Guy rating * * 1/2

Lighthouse Tavern

Rte 9 southbound side,

Barnegat New Jersey

Ipod

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

How does the Regular Guy listen to music these days? I am going to go out on a limb and guess that its with an MP3 Player. The Regular Guy used to carry that Walkman with him to work on the subway. Now our personal music players are so small they can fit in your palm. My IPOD is one of the best things that I have acquired in my lifetime. This electronic piece of magic brings me more music from such a small place than all the albums, cd’s and cassette tapes I had collected for over 40 years. How the hell does this thing work anyway? How can so much music fit in such a tiny place? At 30 gigs I will never reach maximum capacity.

I have loved music since I can remember. My mom sang professionally on and off all her life. I think I inherited the music bone. I wake up every day with a new  song in my head and it must be because of my mom. Somehow I got the love of music without the talent to do anything with it. So I just enjoy listenming to as much as I can. And now with my IPOD, I am loving life.

Plug this thing into your home stereo. Plug it into your car. Take it to the beach. I even fall asleep with it while listening to Podcasts. Hell I even listen to the Minnesota Vikings Podcasts of their local radio stations. How cool is this thing!!! You know the best thing I found so far is that I take all my Cd’s and rip them and then toss ’em to the curb. Who the hell needs all those shiny discs anyway. Man all those years collecting discs for sometimes just one song. No more. And organizing music was never so easy. Playlists by genre, by year, artist, album.. it goes on and on. Endless combo’s endless ways to listen. Does it get any better?  Yes it does. Did I forget to say how I watch movies on my IPOD while flying at 35,000 feet. Take this thing on a plane and you have your own personal video player. Team this baby up with your Tivo and things get better yet. Tivo has a program where you upload video from you DVR to your computer and then transfer the files to your favorite IPOD.

So now they bring us the ITOUCH. How can they do this to me. Just when I get used to my IPOD they tempt me with this new version. Maybe a christmas gift for me this year. Well this Regular Guy has to get back to work ripping those Cd’s and dancing to the tunes.

The Regular Guy

Big Apple Pizza, Jensen Beach Fl

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Okay, I ‘m from New York and have been eating pizza before John Travolta made it cool to down two slices at the same time ( see Saturday Night Fever, in case you didn’t get the clue). New Yorkers love pizza and we have this thing about finding the best pizza everywhere we go.  Its always “Its good but not like our pizza back home”. So what do I do when I get to Jensen this time? I go looking for the perfect pizza. And guess what. I damn near find it.

Now I really hate recommending a place, especially after just one visit but I get real good vibes from this joint. Our waitress Stephanie seats us quickly and hands us menus and runs for glasses for our wine that we bring along. Just for your information, Big Apple  Pizza serves wine and beer. When we realized this, we were told it would be okay to pour our own. I don’t think this is common practice so leave your bottle at home. Very nice gesture though.

Take a look at the menu and it begs you to ask “What is this?”  A lot of options for pizza. I lose out and we order a thin crust extra large pie, with sausage and mushrooms. I opt for the Sicilian but everyone else wants thin crust. Good thing I lost as it turned out the thin crust pie was extraordinary. Two things make an ordinary pie extraordinary. Sauce and crust. Lets face it there isn’t much to a pie but sauce and crust,,  so you better make them really good. Big Apple Pizza does both exceptionally well. The sauce is top shelf and the crust was thin, crisp and very tasty. A lot of flavor in those two items. I hope they know just how good the pie is because they should be bragging about it.  So I sprinkle a little hot and a little cheese and magic happens. Sooo  good. Pour me some more of that Chianti I am not going anywhere until I eat my share.

So all told we order a plate of Wings (12), 2  house  salads ( that feed 4) , and a large pie , as noted earlier. Oh yeah, we also get a complementary helping of Garlic Knots which also are as good as I have had anywhere.  Total for this evenings event, $ 34.00. Great good food atunder $10 a person. Hard to beat that deal. We left very full and satisfied that we found the best pizza in Jensen Beach.  I can’t wait for my next trip back to the beach and Big Apple Pizza.

Regular Guy Rating  * * * * 1/2

Big Apple Pizza

Publix Shopping Center Downtown  Jensen Beach on the blvd ( next to Dunkin’ Donuts)