Friday, February 17, 2012

Olive Garden

First off, let me tell you that you will not get a biased report from a restaurant that knows a food critic is coming but it's a lot of fun being treated like royalty!
     I have not written in my blog for a long time because I got sick and tired of all the bad food being passed off in Anchorage as anything sell-able in the majority of the restaurants in town. I'm not a gourmet chef by any means but I can cook and I know good food. I did happen to do to cooking school and I have cooked in about 10 restaurants in my early years. I do know what goes on in the kitchen of most restaurants because I have been there. Working my way from dishwasher to prep cook to line cook to manager of local hometown eateries.  I know that it's not only the quality of your ingredients but if your cooks actually are passionate about the food they serve and if they love to make people happy. If your cook is just there for his paycheck, your food we reflect that.

     Anyway, my story today actually began 2 weeks ago when I was contacted by an Olive Garden's Media Relations representative because of this here blog. I was to eat lunch on them. Sweet!  I never turn down free food!
So today was my day. I was to speak to the manager and they would have a table waiting for me at noon. The general public had a 45 minute wait today, for yours truly, it was 10 minutes.  I had 2 other join me for lunch today. My partner in crime and husband as well as one of his co-workers, who just so happens to love eating food.
     We had a lovely waitress named June, who is a riot and if you can request a server, I would suggest her. We opted to give the $12.95 lunch special a try, which gives you a choice of soup/salad, plus an entree and a small dessert. Perfect!  When I was at Olive Garden for Dinner a few days back, my friends ordered some stuffed mushrooms and decided I needed to have some of my own so I also added that to the order.  Drinks arrived promptly and soon the Manager herself showed up at the table. Since I'm new to all of this Food Celerity stuff, I had no idea what to expect and I think she was also fairly new to it as well. She was so wonderful and polite and I think we could have asked for the moon and  would have received it.
     Even though we had a fair warning that our Mushroom Appetizer would take 15+ minutes just to cook, it came in record time along with the soups. This time I did get my Chicken & Gnocchi soup which they had run out of the last time I was there.  All the food was very warm, the mushrooms were sizzling, literally.  The soups were pretty tasty but we did wish the cream soups were of a thicker consistency, but we did enjoy sopping up the remains with the infamous bread sticks.
     Just as we were finishing the soup and bread sticks off the meals arrived. I enjoyed the fettuccine with the Portobello mushrooms while my companions got the Mozzarella Chicken dish and the Sausage Tortellini .   They arrived in style with fresh grated Parmesan cheese topping them off.
Yum! I tried both mine and my husband's they they were very good. Mine had just the right amount of light sauce with crispy, crunchy bread crumbs scattered on top. I only wish there were more mushrooms but really, that 's just my greedy, mushroom loving side talking. The dish was an excellent Olive Garden dish.
Finally, for dessert, as part of the Dinner Trio for $12.95 we got a perfectly sized taste of Italy. I'm a chocolate girl so I choose the Dark Chocolate with caramel while Hubby had the mini Tiramisu. Super cute and so yummy! Honestly, they are the perfect size to top off a great meal and fix that sweet tooth.

Now, as you already know, this was not a typical visit to Olive Garden because the staff was warned I was coming. However, since I had already been to Olive Garden on a previous occasion I did get to see the "real" side of things.  Given the fact they had only been open 2 weeks, and the entire state of Alaska was trying to eat there, they did a marvelous job. We were told our wait that night was 2 1/2 hours but we got in in just over 1 hour. Pretty good for a party of 8+. Things got pretty crazy there when our soon to be table of 10 had two waitresses and orders were being forgotten and such, but the night manager swooped in and filled waters, took an order, and chatted with us. Everything was taken care of and fixed in  no time at all. That tells me that the people that work there really do care about how the place is run and what people think.
    The Anchorage Olive Garden really has a wonderful family atmosphere that you cannot get in most chain restaurants anymore. It's loud and boisterous and it smells great. The lighting is perfect, not too dark, not too light.  Maybe once everyone has tried it, the lines will start to diminish and the wait time to get a table will be less then 15 minutes.  I know that as long as the staff of Olive Garden continue to show the passion for great food and excellent customer service, they will become one of Alaska's favorite restaurants.

Long Live Olive Garden!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cafe Felix

I received a gift Groupon today for a $25 card at Cafe Felix.  Yeah! I had never been there before and this was the perfect gift and opportunity to give it a try. We really only stopped in for coffee but my daughter was hungry so we grabbed a bite too. The menu was tiny but had a nice variety of different sandwiches and crepes to try.  Being not as adventurous as myself my Daughter ordered the BLTA or Bacon Lettuce Tomato and Avocado sandwich with the soup of the day. They were out of soup so we took the chips and salsa on the side.  
I also got the Coffee of the Day, Mexican Mocha which was perfect temperature for me, but that means on the verge of being cold for everyone else. However, it was smooth and creamy with a nice hint of cinnamon. Very good. And in a nice large mug too. :)  My daughter got the coconut mocha which was amazing and full of coconut flavor and hotter then mine.

The atmosphere at Cafe Felix is great. Lots of room, high ceilings, local art work on the walls... very pleasant and I could see myself meeting a few friends here from time to time. I saw on the wall board they have live music and open mic night weekly too.
Cafe Felix is located in the Metro Music and Books store which is loaded with a lot of eclectic items. A store that one must browse through at a leisurely pace for sure.

The sandwich arrived in a timely manner and on what tasted and appeared to be freshly baked bread but that is where the goodness ended.  This was a BLTA, but there was only 2 small slices of tomato and I never saw any avocado on my 1/2. The bread might have been toasted, I think it was toasted, but it was only warmed up enough to melt the butter and become soggy. There was nothing "toasted" about it.
It's amazing that people even think this sorta of food is acceptable to serve! $9.95 for this?? What a Joke!  After being served this half ass meal, why would I even waste my money to try anything else on the menu?  I doubt I will be actually eating at Cafe Felix anytime soon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Some Changes.......

Some Changes....

I have to say really quick that I have gotten WAY WAY behind on my blogging.  Call me lazy, whatever. But I have kept a fairly accurate record of all the places we have ate, so while I work on the details, I'll post some fun pictures representing my feelings regarding the food and service.



It's a quite place, easily over looked, but the Stromboli I had was good and HUGE! I'd go back for the pizza anyway.

Great Harvest Bread Company

Yum! Seriously, this bread is great. I love the free samples. This bread also makes fine and dandy sandwiches. We bought from here often when I was working with the U.S. Census. Their variety of toppings and spreads let you create amazingly delicious specialty sandwiches. Perfect. Fresh. Delightful.

Glacier Brewhouse

Very good!
See ya there. :)

Fruit Land at Tikahtnu Commons

If you are going there for FOOD, don't bother. Eat at Pho Saigon instead.

Diannes' Restaurant


City Diner

Decent enough, nothing special

Chaing Mai

Chaing Mai

It used to be really great! They made excellent curry and beef noodle soup. Recently I have heard they changed hands and now the food is not as good. I have not been back there to confirm this. Until then, Chaing Mai still gets a Thumbs Up!

Cafe 817

Humpy's Restaurant

After much a do, we finally made it to Humpy’s! I was very excited after hearing so much about from the locals and seeing it featured on Man vs. Food with Adam Richman. Today we went for lunch courtesy of Groupon! ($10 for $20 gift certificate)

We arrived just before Noon, expecting it to be quite busy we opted for a seat outside. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the patio was perfect!  Our server was quick taking our drink orders but was very slow in returning with the drinks. Never once was water offered though. Maybe it’s just the way they do things there but I sure could have used some after my one glass of Draft Rootbeer ran out. (turns to the Draft rootbeer is $3 per glass! This was not mentioned either by our server)  By the time the drinks arrived we had settled on our selections but our server just ignored us and proceeded to take 3 other table’s orders and collecting a few checks before finally returning to our table.

We brought 3 of our kids with us and between the 5 of us, we sampled 3 different dishes and a couple of salads.  Today we choose items mostly from the Lunch of the Day Menu; Alaskan Cod and Chips, Ham Sandwich and Salads, and a Bacon Cheese Burger.  My Hubby ordered the Sandwich and Caesar Salad and requested Rye Bread instead of the wheat to which our server said he would ask the kitchen.  About 10 minutes later he returned stating the Ruebens were all pre-made and there was no more Rye bread so our Ham Sandwich would be on the regular bread. We told him that was fine and thanked him for asking.  Of course as soon as he left my husband and I looked at each other, “pre-made sandwiches?” 

Eventually our food arrived, after we had been there about 40 minutes. Given it was a busy lunch crowd we had expected a long wait so we were not upset over the wait. We talked and watched people, besides, the weather was so lovely, it did not seem like that long of a wait.   First came out the 2 Ham Sandwiches and the Bacon Cheese Burger
The Sandwiches seemed to have fairly generous with ham and the salads were both nice and fresh looking.  2 fairly nice sized sliced of crispy bacon adorned the generous amount of cheese atop a large beef patty on a fresh bun and the french fries were hot and crisp.  It took another 5 minutes for the fish and chips to arrive so while we wait, I’ll tell you more about the food we did get to start eating.

Husband started on the Ham sandwich but noticed there was no cheese. My daughter also ordered the Ham Sandwich and only one half of her sandwich had cheese. While we waited for the server to return, we proceeded to try out the salads and get the burger sauced up with mustard. I dug into the bowl of Caesar Salad which looked very good with a lot of grated parmesan cheese on top of what appeared to be homemade croutons and nice green crispy romaine lettuce. It was really good except the dressing was completely tasteless. I’d say it was no better then milk and mayonnaise mixed together and tossed on my salad. Very disappointing.

I have ruined my children. I have. I’m such a foodie that my kids also know what great food tastes like and so they are well aware of what not so good food tastes like. As soon as my son took a bite of the Bacon Cheese Burger he was sharing with his sister, he says, “it’s certainly no Long Branch!” with a hint of disappointment in his voice.

The burger, while Appearing to be note worthy, was dry as a bone. One bite sucked all the moisture from your mouth leaving your desperate for a glass of water. (This was another point of our meal when a nice glass of water would have been very welcome) It was so sad to see such a nice big patty fail in the juicy department.

Finally the Alaskan Cod and Chips arrive and at this point we tell our waitress about the missing cheese on the Ham Sandwiches. She was so nice and immediately went back to the kitchen to correct it. Not 2 minutes later she appears with a whole new sandwich confirming our fears that they did indeed pre-make the sandwiches. It was clearly evident by the way the mayonnaise had soaked through the bottom slice of bread and made the bread all soggy.  Eeww! Any decent restaurant should know better.

As much as I really wanted to like Humpy’s I was disappointed every time I turned around. The tarter sauce, not good. Super slow service, especially with the simple tasks of just refilling drinks. The Pre-made sandwiches (of all kinds, not just the daily special), the dry burgers,......

A lunch for 5 cost $71 plus tip.  $71 of dissatisfaction.

Humpy’s, I have one more Groupon for your humble restaurant. I cannot take my husband back here. He has seen enough. And I have seriously considered giving it away so I don’t feel obligated to go back and not waste my $10.  What to do, what to do............

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Long Branch Saloon

I have already reviewed the Long Branch Saloon but it's so awesome I have to bump it up and I also added some additional information.......

Long Branch Saloon

Finally!! A multi napkin burger! It is what I strive for on my quest for a great burger. First off it has to be hand pattied. Secondly, it must be juicy. Thirdly, it must require you to use at least 2 napkins.  And the Burgers at Long Branch Saloon have all 3 prerequisites.
I had the Jalapeno Burger with Jack Cheese and homemade fries. It came out cooked to perfection, slightly pink and was so juicy and flavorful.  A full handful of peppers atop the thick beef patty, cheese melted just the right amount, lettuce, tomato, onion.... Oh My! And naturally, their buns are baked fresh daily.
The joint was crowded and parking is at a premium but it is worth every bit of a hassle.
If you happen to have a Northern Lights Coupon Book handy, you will find a coupon in there good for one free lunch with the purchase of a lunch and 2 drinks! Or check out your Val-Paks! A deal you cannot beat.

Hands down, Long Branch does have the best BUNS in town AND the best burgers!

Over the past 8 months, we have been back to Long Branch 5 times and each time I cannot wait to go back for more. I have extremely enjoyed 4 different burgers there. The only burger I was not in love with was their Chili Burger and the only reason is because I did not like their chili at all. 75% onions and peppers, 25% beans. Not yummy. :( But I most certainly have not let that little incident set me back at all. 


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


  You know, I have no idea what is up with restaurants lately. Some are just downright awful. Take Ruby’s for instance. While it’s got a nice, sophisticated location and the restaurant it self is stylish. the food is really quite terrible. I had purchased some gift certificates from the Half Price Club Promotions off the Radio so my meal was already 50% off.
    I meet my Husband for lunch, like we do often, and we ordered 2 sandwiches and a bowl of soup. My youngest daughter also came along, she is 8 and typically a very adventurous eater and it’s fun to eat lunch with Daddy.  So, when you order food at Ruby’s, it’s almost cafeteria like, you place your order and pay, then sit down at your table with a number. Sooner or later, a waitress will bring your drink and your food.
    First to arrive was the bowl of soup. It smelled good. Chicken and Rice. Simple. How can you mess that up, right? Well apparently the cooks at Ruby’s can. It was completely tasteless and so incredibly over cooked the rice could no longer be called rice. It has the consistency of warm jello. Gross.
    Husband ordered the Ruben special request with no sauerkraut. I’m not sure if there is a new way of making a Ruben without actually grilling it to toast the bread, melt the cheese and heat the meat but apparently there is a at Ruby’s. A lightly toasted bread, luke-warm meat and barely there cheese sorta wanna-be Ruben and, if you are lucky, you might get meat on all the bread too but probably not. 
    My sandwich, the “Wrangel” or “Mendenhal”,  was okay but I would not eat it again. The bread was so crusty if hurts your mouth to eat it and I finally did found one small sliver of avocado towards the end of the meal.  I’m just sorry we never saw a waitress after they dropped off our food I certainly would have said something.
    I’m tired of writing nicey nice reviews for mediocre food. So that’s it. I refuse to go back. Yuck. Not worth my money or my time.

101 W. Benson

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Judy's Cafe

We were going to try the IHOP next to the Southside Lowe’s but they had a long wait and well, it’s just IHOP. 
So, on a whim we traveled down south a bit farther and came across a small brown building bustling with cars and people. Hubby said this place was good and that he had eaten there a few times with co-workers. One thing I know to be true is that working class men know where to eat!
So we found a tight little spot and shoved our mini-van in there and ventured to Judy’s Cafe. There is a very small foyer or Arctic Entry that also doubled as a waiting area when full, which we learned, it usually is. Judy serves breakfast, home-cooking style and lunch and is closed by dinner. You gotta come and come early! 
We were a table of 3 today, with oldest Daughter in tow.  So our wait was a bit longer. There was plenty of tables for 2 and a few bar stools at the counter for single eaters.
But we were seated within 10 minutes and our waitress was very quick and attentive. Old school style, where the waitresses are a bit rough around the edges but never too busy to fill your glass and clean off tables and probably never get a wrong order either.

In a place like this, I have two favorites I usually get. Corned Beef Hash and Eggs of the Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs.  I when with the Steak.   The best part of  breakfast is the Sausage Gravy, so we ordered a side of that too. 
Our order arrived quickly and was piping hot. It smelled divine and my eggs were perfectly done, just over easy but cooked whites. (Runny whites are gross) and the hash-browns were crispy and golden brown. So delicious!  Naturally we shared bites from each others' plates. My hubby got the Hot links and eggs and my daughter got the sausage and eggs.  All very very good!  Each order comes with classic way with hash-browns, 2 eggs, meat and toast.  Grub like this reminds me of Montana where the cowboys eat.  So wrestle up some grub and chow down!

Ken's House of Pancakes

Hilo, Big Island, Hawaii

When we arrived on the Big Island we were ravenous! So we asked the rental car gal what she recommended and was directed to a local joint commonly referred to as Ken’s House of Pancakes.  It was right at lunch time so when we arrived the parking lot was loaded and there was about a 15 minute wait to be seated. No worries though, we were in Hawaii. :)

This was our first trip to the Islands and we had the whole family plus my mom and her friend, so 8 of us total.  The menu at Ken’s was extensive and had just about everything you could imagine. Not just pancakes either. I choose a local favorite,  which was a Loco Moco something or other. Basically it was a large bowl of rice, a hamburger patty, chili, cheese onions and a fried egg.  And it was AMAZING!  After spending some time in Hawaii, I have come to learn that many traditional foods come served with Rice.

My teenage son picked the Sumo Burger, which was presented with a ringing of the bell and the whole staff yelling, “SUMO!!”. Talk about a fun place to eat and work at!

The atmosphere was lively and loud but not too loud. The staff was excellent and exceptionally friendly.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meal and for 8 people, our tab was under $100! Another pleasant surprise. 

You HAVE to eat here if you are traveling to Hilo.



My family’s first trip to the Islands of Hawaii was amazing! My husband and I tried to eat at a variety of local restaurants while we where there. Our selection of choices was astounding! With our love of Asian and other ethnic foods we could be very satisfied living here and exploring the vast variety of amazing cuisine. However, we had 4 kids in tow and thus were limited in our food selections. Still, I think we made some great choices and enjoyed a wide array of delicious foods! I hope you enjoy reading the following reviews as much as I enjoyed sampling the foods!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Luigi's Pizza

We have been to Luigi’s twice now thanks to the Infamous Northern Lights Coupon Book!  First time we got a ham sub, a 2 philly cheese steak sandwiches.
Luigi’s is a take out place so you have to take it with you or have the food delivered. That’s okay, we just hung out in our car and enjoyed our lunch. 
The sandwiches are enormous!  And delicious!  You can easily share one or save the other half for dinner.
The second time we did Luigi’s we tried the Gyro Calzone and the Stromboli. Our coupon indicated we had to order the Large size so we did. Luigi gave us a strange but brief look and went back to the kitchen to make our order. It took just 15 short minutes to make them from scratch. Nothing sitting around pre-made here!  We took our feast back to the car. It was then we realized the mistake we made!  Luigi’s look was because the LARGE size was indeed enough to feed 2+ people EACH! And now we had 2 larges and only 2 people. Luckily we have 4 hungry kids at home so this lunch made some great leftovers for school lunches the next day! 
The Gyro Calzone has no red sauce and is loaded with gyro meat, mozzarella cheese, and feta, with a generous sprinkling of parmesan on top. It was most certainly a Yummy in the Tummy meal. 
The Stromboli is similar to a calzone except it is log shaped instead of a 1/2 circle. This one was bulging with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, and cheese and sauce. Again, a meal to salivate over. 
For a tiny hole in the wall restaurant, Luigi’s is one you should not miss!!  
5011 Arctic Blvd.
Anchorage, AK 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Talkeetna Roadhouse

We had some friends come up from Tennessee to visit us so we took them to Talkeetna for the day. It was one of our few glorious days this summer. The sky was blue and the temperature was perfect.  We decided to try out the RoadHouse for lunch upon recommendations from a few friends.
Seating is Family Style but since there was 7 of us on this trip we got an entire table to ourselves. The menu is small but full of old fashioned comfort foods like Chili and Macaroni and Cheese. Their featured item are traditional English pasties.  With 7 people were ordered 8 different items and shared (we are all foodies!). 
The kids got the baked Mac and Cheese which was probably the best baked mac and cheese I have ever tasted outside Grandma’s house!  I quote my extremely picky eater son, “I dont like this, I LOVE IT!”  
We had to try the pasties too, so we ordered 3 of them! The cheesy potato, beef, and the Salmon. All 3 were very good. Personally I liked the beef best. For $7 it was chock full of meat! More meat then I would have dreamed possible actually. And there was nothing but meat. It was tender and full of flavor, the pasty crust was lite and flakey. Yum!  The Salmon Pasty was not as good as I had hoped. I realize that pasties, by nature are supposed to be dry but when the menu advertised a dill cream sauce I mistakenly assumed it would be dilly and creamy. On the contrary, it was dry and not dilly. They added Broccoli to the wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon pasty. This addition was overkill as the strong flavors of the broccoli nearly out shown the amazing flavors people desire when eating Smoked Salmon. 
My husband ordered up the Homemade chili. They offer 2 kinds of chili here at the Roadhouse, a Vegetarian Black Bean and a Reindeer Meat Chili. You can also request a combo bowl. My carnivore husband chose the later.  I have particular preferences about my chili’s and this bowl was right on par with all the good things and none of the bad. Lots of meat, lots beans, no huge chunks of onions or tomatoes to contend with and all the right seasonings.  It was delightful and definitely something to dive into after a long day of snow-machining.
Our only complaint was the service was sluggish. We had to approach the front counter 2 times in order to get waitress to come take our order. And they were not very busy that day either. 
Two Big Thumbs Up for the Food at the Talkeetna Roadhouse! 
A Thumbs Down for Service. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Well, after many rave reviews, I finally had the opportunity to try out Peppercini’s! They are located in the University Mall next to Sadlers with ample parking. Their huge dinning area offers free WiFi incase you wanted to cruz the internet while you eat. 

They have a darling restaurant, very bright and cheerful. The staff is very friendly as well. It’s almost cafeteria like so very casual and laid-back kinda dinning. 
Their menu is rather large with sandwiches, wraps, salads, soup and hot sandwiches, also known as Grinders. I went with the Pepper Grinder, a burning hot roast beef sandwich smothered in melted provolone cheese, and roasted red peppers along with a side of Au Jus. The menu also calls for a creamy horseradish sauce but I never tasted that.  You also get your choice of Breadstick of Chips.  I choose the stick. 
My sandwich arrived very quickly which is great! We all love fast service. :) The sandwich was very very hot and if I were not so hungry I would have let it cool before burning my mouth but alas, I could not wait. The flavor was really nice from the melted cheese and the peppers. I would have loved a side of horseradish because I think that spice would have really set this sandwich apart.  The bread was a bit chewy and tough on the edges but that is what the Au Jus is for.  I guess all the breads in Europe are tough and “Crusty” and only us Americans like soft breads so I am working my self out of this soft bread phase and learning to embrace the crusty breads.  
My meal was decent but I was not hugely impressed, especially considering all the rave reviews I have heard, but they do offer a 10% military discount!