Anachostic

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Tag Archives: dining

Tuna Talkin

I like tuna fish salad and that is what this post is about.  I have tried a lot of different tuna at different places and here is a quick roundup of the different majorly-available versions.

When I moved here in 2004, there was a local sports bar called Touchdown Eddies.  They had incredible tuna salad.  I would eat there kind of regularly and was never disappointed.  Sometime around 2007, they closed down and I have missed them ever since.  In fact, my very first Facebook post (I was a really late adopter) was a lament on the demise of Touchdown Eddies.  And since their closure, I have been trying especially hard to find tuna salad that is as good as theirs.

My quest for the best took many years, but you should know, I have found it.  Obviously, my preference may not be the same as anyone else’s, so I’ll run through my experiences and indicate what’s different about each recipe that makes it unique.

  • Subway – This is the barebones version of tuna salad.  Just mayo and tuna.  Inoffensive and probably a decent choice just because it’s so simple.  There’s nothing odd to turn anyone off or strike up any allergies.
  • Firehouse Subs – This recipe has relish in it, which is not to my liking.  If you like your tuna salad with a bit of sweet in it, this might the one you’d like.
  • Jason’s Deli – This recipe has hard-boiled egg in it.  It’s ok, but not exactly what I’m looking for.
  • Panera Bread – This recipe has mustard in it.  I ate it for quite some time wondering what the weird flavor was in it.  It tasted a little like lemon to me.  One day, it was much stronger than usual and I was concerned that something was spoiled.  They also season it with pepper, which is nice.
  • Toojays Deli – Another bland version like Subway. 
  • Jersey Mikes – This recipe has celery in it, to give it some crunch and also a tiny bit of bitterness or tang (as celery has).  They also use pepper mixed in.

And the winner for me is Jersey Mikes.  It ended my search as it has the same special ingredient that Touchdown Eddies had.  I originally went to Jersey Mikes and I got my usual test for new sub places – turkey.  It passed, so I ate turkey subs there infrequently.  One day, I asked for a sample of their tuna and was sold.  I only eat tuna there now and I visit multiple times a week instead of once every couple months.

I had told myself numerous times that if I found a place that had tuna salad as good as Touchdown Eddies, I would be eating there all the time.  I have found that place and am making good on my promise.

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Where Are The Dine-ins?

It was a couple months ago that a Sonny’s BBQ restaurant near my workplace abruptly closed with no warning.

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I later found out they closed another location in a neighboring town.  While this affected me for my lunchtime meals, I still had my local Sonny’s I could visit.  My local restaurant was recently remodeled, whereas this one that closed did not remodel.

Maybe a month ago, I was driving and I saw that a Pizza Hut restaurant that I would visit had closed.  Later investigation showed that it had moved to a new location.  I called their number and found out they were delivery/carryout only now.  No more dine-in.

This week, since that hut had closed, I went to my other Pizza Hut location.  I was shocked to find that it was closed as well.  As I kept driving, wondering what to do, I caught a brand new Pizza Hut sign in the plaza just down the road.  I pulled in to check it out.  No surprises, no dine-in.

The other night, I’m driving home and I see a brand new sign in a plaza near my house – Pizza Hut.  This signals to me that the dine-in Pizza Hut just down the road is also closing in short order.  Now, I don’t eat at that one because unlike the other two I visited, this one doesn’t have a salad bar.

So that’s three Pizza Huts in my immediate area (immediate meaning within 30 mins; my travel range is greater than most people’s) have closed their dine-in facilities in favor of delivery/carryout only locations.  It makes me wonder what the future holds.  Restaurants are generally very sensitive to the economy and supposedly the economy is doing awesome right now.  But is it?  Why are places closing or downsizing?

Wish Fulfillment

Within about the last year or so, Carrabbas has become something of an obsession of mine.  Well, both me and the GF, but I have the opportunity to obsess more.  And somewhere around a year ago, Carrabbas started being open for lunch.  And that’s when the obsession intensified.

I have a great liking for soup.  It’s probably from growing up in the north, where hot liquid is a treat in its own right, but flavorful hot liquid is even more so.  Carrabbas chicken soup is pretty much at the top of my list, and two of their three available salads are favorites of mine, too.  While I can and do eat their spaghetti on occasion, I can get by with just soup and salad.

Over the last year or so, I have been getting by on just soup and salad.  But here’s the problem.  If you order the “soup and salad” entrée, you get a cup of soup and a half salad.  No way is that enough for me.  So, over time, I’ve settled into getting a bowl of soup and a side salad.  This is filling (usually), but the price is rather heavy as well.

Because of my continued financial discipline to log all my receipts, I am able to accurately identify how frequently I visit Carrabbas and how much I spend there.  If I have lunch there, I spend $19.02.  That’s a pretty expensive lunch.  I have wanted to try and cut back on that cost, but that soup!  In the past, I’d considered trying Olive Garden for their endless soup, salad and breadsticks lunch, but I don’t like any of their soups.  And now, after eating Carrabbas so much, I can barely stomach OG’s food anymore.  It’s like someone put their food into Photoshop and went overboard.  It’s an oversaturated representation of what food should taste like.

So, Olive Garden was not an option.  And I continued spending $20 a lunch usually once a week for myself at work, then the GF and I would eat there for lunch together again on Sundays.  Here’s a kicker: Carrabbas has a rewards program where you get up to $20 back on your 4th visit.  But a visit only counts if you spend $20 or more.  So, my single lunches at $19.02 (after tip) aren’t counting to that reward.

I distinctly remember commenting to the GF, “Can you imagine if Carrabbas had an endless soup and salad option?”  I dismissed the possibility, because their chicken soup was so rich, they couldn’t afford to make it endless.  But, here in September 2018, it has happened.  An endless soup and salad lunch special for $8.  I may never eat lunch anywhere else again.

How incredible is this for me?  First, I can have as much chicken soup as I want.  They bring it out in cups, but there’s always more for the asking.  In fact, this is much better because the soup is always hot, instead of having a bowl go cold as you work on your salad.  And also, I like two of their salads.  Before, I was tied to only having one.  Now I can get one of each and enjoy them for their differences.  Finally, that price!  That’s almost half of what I was paying before, and I get more food than before.  And, if the GF and I want to eat there for lunch and just do soup and salad, we’ll break the minimum for the rewards.

I’m singing the praises of this new promotion and secretly already dreading the day it is retired.  I’m not sure if it’s my age or the current consumer environment that makes me think of contingency plans as soon as something new enters my orbit.  Aside from the fear of not having this deal available anymore, the only other negative to the lunch is that it takes a long time for me to get filled up.  I have always eaten slowly, and as I get older, it’s getting worse.  My lunch today was longer than normal.  I sloshed myself out the restaurant door and made it back to my desk in 90 minutes.  I have so much liquid in me, I’ve probably altered my natural buoyancy.

One final observation.  I don’t know what communication network old people use, but the lunch special announcement made it to them early.  I used to eat lunch at my Carrabbas nearly alone every time.  Now, the place is flooded with old people.  They say that old people are good for two things: finding good food and finding good deals. 

I’m an old person.

Hooking Up With A Previous Love

A recurring story on my blog is my relationship troubles with iced tea.  Maybe it deserves its own tag at this point.  To quickly recap, I had a very long relationship with Nestea mix, but it changed, so we had to break up.  I rebounded with Publix mix before settling down with Lipton, who was very good to me for a long time.  Then one day, Nestea completely disappeared and while that was a little upsetting, I found Te Bustelo, which made me dump Lipton immediately. Man, that makes me sound like a horrible person.

As in other relationships, the fickle one gets their due, and Te Bustelo ended production, leaving me a widower.  I had purchased a case of the mix – the last available – to get me through the next couple of years.  Well, it’s been almost three years now and I’m down to probably a few last servings in my last container.  I was probably avoiding the looming reality by not attempting to find a replacement.  Still mourning, maybe?  Today, I finally sucked it up and decided to find out what my options are.  Off to Amazon, source of everything.

Searching for iced tea mix, I got results dominated by Lipton, with a few other brands scattered here and there.  One of those brands was Nestea (trying to avoid eye contact).  You know, maybe I wasn’t completely with my head in the sand about my future tea product because at one point I did consider buying unsweetened tea mix and adding my own sugar.  And you know, Nestea does make an unsweetened mix…

This is what Nestea looks like today, the same it’s looked for many, many years.

Nestea Sweet Mix Iced Tea, 45.1 oz

As I’m working through the results, I see this.

Nestea Sweet Iced Tea Lemon Mix 90.3 Oz

Whoa, what is that?  That is a different package with a different logo.  And another thing – I am extremely sensitive to names, because of my trauma from “sugar sweetened tea mix” morphing to “sweet tea mix”.  This canister says “sweet iced tea mix”.  That is different.  That must mean it is different.  I click the link and look at the ingredient list on the package.

Sugar, Citric Acid, Instant Tea, Maltodextrin, Tricalcium Phosphate (prevents caking), Natural Lemon Flavor

Oh my god.  This mix changes out Sucralose with Tricalcium Phosphate, in the same way Sweet Tea Mix changed Fructose with Sucralose.  If I haven’t used the word enough yet, let me try some more.  Sucralose is why I had to stop drinking Nestea in the first place. It’s an artificial sweetener that hurts my stomach. Suckralose.

I actually couldn’t handle this revelation at the time, bordering between excitement and disbelief, so I return to my search results.  I scroll a little further down and I see this.

Nestea Original Canadian Lemon Iced Tea Mix Jumbo Can 2.2kg 122 Servings Imported from Canada

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, HERE?  I click this item and look at its ingredient list.

Sugar, Citric Acid, Instant Tea, Natural Flavour, Silicon Dioxide

This mix, I read, is the Canadian version of Nestea, named “Original Lemon Iced Tea”.  A second Nestea mix with no sucralose.  Where the hell has this stuff been for all these years? (Canada, apparently.)  And while I have no regrets over my special time with Te Bustelo, maybe it’s a sign that I should get back, even if it’s with the exotic, foreign cousin of my original love.

Still reeling a little from this sudden discovery, I make a fairly dumb decision to buy both of these items right away.  They’re not exactly cheap, since one is a giant container and the other is a giant container imported from a foreign country.  So, $60 in tea will be at my house on Tuesday so I can then see if there is still a spark between us.

Hope springs eternal.

Falling From Grace

In this here blog, I have alternately praised and condemned Burger King and their food.  And for the longest time, I didn’t eat there.  A long time ago, I might randomly drop in to remind myself why I hated it so much.  Wendy’s is another place I stopped going to regularly, also documented in this here blog.  I would rarely stop in and when I did, I would leave full and disappointed.

These two places are what I consider third-tier dining.  Over time, I elevated myself to places I consider second-tier.  Conveniently, in the current economy, you can simplify this scale of mine into how many $10 bills it takes to get a meal.  Third-tier meals typically cost less than $10.  Second-tier is $10-20/meal, and first-tier is over $20.  So, yeah, I suppose my business-class, expensed travel meals that were something like $70 rate about the same as a meal at Kobe.  That kind of sums up how refined my palate is.

But anyway, it was early sometime this year that I had made the comment, “I’ve eaten at Wendy’s more times this month than I have in the last few years.”  I can’t really say why Wendy’s fell back onto my list of viable dining places.  I think it was an alternative SadMeal™ at the time and it kind of stuck with me.

Today marks the second time within a week that I’ve eaten at Burger King.  One of my biggest gripes with the place is that the double cheeseburger is hardly worth the effort to eat.  But on the random decision to eat there one day, I saw on the menu (which was totally different than I last remember it), they had a thing called “Double Quarter Pound King”, which looked essentially like a double whopper with cheese, or, to my excitement, a larger-than-old-times double cheeseburger.  And I bought it right away.

The taste of the burger was awesomely nostalgic and the fries even seemed to be better than I remember, too.  I left that day with a surprisingly positive impression.  Today, when I went back for a repeat visit, the smell in the restaurant took me back to my hometown.  (Fun fact: When I was much younger, I worked at that BK for two weeks and two days.  On my second day, I decided I didn’t like working there and put in my two-week notice – and fulfilled it)  Today’s experience was slightly marred by an undercooked patty, but I ate around the pink (heh) and was still satisfied at the end.

Despite the unmistakable smell of a Burger King that surprises me when I get inside, the other thing that surprises me is the way the place makes me feel – sad.  For a very long time, I’ve held the impression that BK is probably about as low as you can go in the burger world.  I know that’s not absolutely true, because I’ve been to a Krystal once, which resulted in me coining the term, “meat pringles” to describe their burger patties.  But anyway, watching people buy and eat BK food fills me with pity, that they may not have better options available to them.

I’ve always thought the only reason I’m still alive today is because I was able to elevate myself to eating at second-tier restaurants, where the quality of food is higher (possibly only marginally).  So, with that personal impression, maybe it’s a little weird to regress and start eating less healthy options.  But, at the same time, as I get older, the more I want to just enjoy the current moment.  (Fun fact: when I was much younger I always thought going to the bathroom was such a waste of time, like I had so many other things I’d rather be doing.  Now, going to the bathroom at work is a chance to actually relax and savor.  It feels like the only time I can be alone with my thoughts)

The non-point of this post is just to document a moment when I might just be slumming it in the dining department, or it may retroactively identify that 2018 was a turning point in my dietary standards.

I Can’t Sleep – Web Crawl

This crawl started by seeing AK in a snapchat picture with a BK+Budweiser filter.  I wondered what that bullshit was all about and ended up reading a press release saying Burger King had a limited time burger for sale.

The burger was hyped as best as it could be, I suppose.  It was a double cheeseburger with more shit on it.  The part that caught my eye was “features two savory flame-grilled beef patties totaling more than ¼ lb.* of beef”  Wow, guys.  Two patties to make a quarter-pounder, huh?  I’m not going to say it’s more than a quarter pound, because otherwise they’d be bragging it was 1/3 pound.  Or maybe not, since stupid Americans don’t understand 1/3 is more than 1/4.

Anyway, that got me reminiscing about how I used to love double cheeseburgers at BK.  They were the absolute best value on the menu.  And then they shrunk the fuck out of them around the great recession, 2008 or so.  I wish I could prove it.

Maybe I can.  I went looking for nutritional information and ended up on a site that had these impressively accurate meter thingies about the BK double cheeseburger.

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Does the taste good?  Of course the does!

And from this page, I got a number, a serving size.  171 grams, which is .377 pounds and must include the bun.  So, how do I find out how good things were back in the day?  Well, I use my favorite tool for exposing embarrassing facts, the Wayback Machine.

Looking at the nutritional info for the double cheeseburger on BK’s site from 1999, I get another number, 198, which is .436 pounds.  So, you do the math and see how much it’s lost over the years.  Tip, calculate it as a percentage to make it sound more impressive.  The Fake News Media does it all the time. (Seriously, I don’t care which side you’re on or what you believe.  If you see an article on anything that only uses percentages, be skeptical.  They’re selling it to you.)

But that’s not the end of the data.  After I got the serving size from the old archived BK website, I felt like an idiot for not just going to the current BK site instead of this “Durr, click Delicious or Disgusting button, pleez” website.  And when I went to BK’s current site, I got yet another number. As of May 2018, the size of a double cheeseburger is 148 grams, or .326 pounds.

To summarize, in 1999, BK’s double cheeseburger was .436 pounds, and in 2018 it is .326 pounds.  That’s a reduction of .110 pounds, which is a 25% reduction from the 1999 size. Oh no! Percentages!  I’ve destroyed my credibility by at least 108%.

Ooo, You’re So Slow and Tasty

Provocative title aside, this is just a post bitching about upscaling at eating places.  You know, where the normal menu, which has existed forever, just isn’t good enough anymore, so the place has to try new, fancy shit and to hell with what we had before.  I’ve said before that I’m a fan of the standards, the basics.  When I go to a place to eat, I usually know what I’m getting, so all this new and better stuff doesn’t really appeal to me.  Yeah, I suck.  Deal with it.

I have read numerous times in articles about how McDonalds keeps trying to attract new customers by making new things.  There’s plenty wrong with this.  First off, as all American investor-driven companies, McDonalds is not allowed to just be.  They must forever be growing.  There is no satisfaction in being good.  You have to be better, quarter after quarter.  So, to that end, McD’s tries to grow their customer base by selling different things.  The problem is, these different things are more complex.  They take time.  They fuck up all the efficiencies that made the McD’s of olden times great.  You want a plain old quarter pounder?  Well, it’s going to be a bit because the party in front of you ordered Flapacheetos and McDonkles and we have to specially prepare each of those.

The exact same thing has happened the last couple of times I’ve been to Dunkin Donuts.  The party in front of me doesn’t want donuts or coffee.  They want, “An everything bagel, toasted, with butter, and bacon and cheese.  And then another one just like that, but a plain bagel.  And what do you want?  Ok, a croissant, no wait, another bagel.  What kind?  They’re all right there.  What’s that one?  Never mind, just make it plain.  And what do you want on it?  Bacon?  No.  No bacon.  Cheese?  Sausage?  You like sausage.  Yes, you do like it.  Just sausage and cheese.  And I’m going to have a coffee, with half and half and two sugars.  And what do you want to drink?  I don’t know if they have that…”  And 15 fucking minutes later, because they can’t take my order until they finish the order before me (FUUUUUUCCCK!), I order my two donuts.

Dunkin Donuts used to be a donut shop.  There used to be a time, and it wasn’t really all that long ago, you could get in and get out.  Now it’s a goddamn café.  It doesn’t need to be one.  In fact, McDonalds also has what they call McCafe.  That’s the trap.  McDonalds also used to be fast food.  There’s nothing fast about it anymore.  The same articles that talk about McDonalds adding new menu items to attract new business also say the restaurant owners hate it because it slows down their service times, which just backs everything up and irritates the customers, like me.

I say fairly often that I have pity for people growing up today because they have no idea that fast food used to be good and tasty and now it’s just processed bullshit.  And now the service has gone to shit right along with the food quality.  You know, Chipotle had something pretty good going for a while, until that whole poisoning thing happened.  That’s another company that is probably going to get desperate and start introducing new items.  You’ll know it when a new menu item has to be built off the conveyer line.  And that will be the next nail in the coffin because it will reduce the efficiency of their service.  Let’s see if they survive long enough to kick themselves in the teeth.

Simple, Unhealthy Pleasures, Made More Expensive

I read a recent announcement that a new burger place was going to be opening in my town.  You would think I would be excited about something like that because I like burgers.  But unfortunately, the burgers of my era don’t really exist anymore.  They have been improved, upcycled, and gentrified.  They are now Gourmet Burgers.  And I fucking hate them.

Remember a time when you would go and have a beer?  Well, I don’t personally, because I don’t drink.  But I remember the reputation of people who would go and have a beer and it was, well, hmmm…. blue-collar.  But then, craft beers came along and drinking beer was hip and trendy and super cool.  And they also got super expensive, and there were so many variants it seemed impossible to keep track of what you might like, if anything.  And drinking craft beers gave you a way to serious discuss the various ways you get yourself drunk, with organic hops and brew cycles and fermentation in only the highest quality drums and ABV or drunkerness-value.

Remember when cupcakes were a simple treat?  You’d buy a half-dozen from the grocery store and eat them at a party or over a week or something?  Then came along a concept of gourmet cupcakes, where you buy one super-expensive cupcake and savor the fuck out of it to get your money’s worth.  But no one just eats one cupcake, so in the end, you’re just spending a hell of a lot more money.  But you justify it because the cupcake is of a much higher quality.  And the cupcakes aren’t just something simple, it’s a mishmash of crazy ingredients and flavors just to prove to yourself and everyone else that you have such a refined palate.

Remember burgers?  A chunk of mashed beef on a bun?  Well, that’s just too simple for the hip, modern person.  A burger can be anything according to these assholes.  Sure, you can put ground beef on a sesame seed bun, but where’s the challenge in that?  What if you want chicken?  Or fish?  Or vegetables?  Or… What if you want a wheat bun?  What if you want lettuce as your bun?  Those are all burgers!  A bunch of vegetables wrapped in lettuce – look at my fucking BURGER!  Bullshit!  Sacrilege!

Oh, and toppings?  Well, let’s just go right off the rails on this.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I suppose you could potentially get a ground beef patty as a topping for your chicken burger.  Why not?  There’s no damn rules anymore!

You know the people that don’t go to Starbucks because they feel they’d be laughed out of the shop for ordering a coffee?  “Get out of here, peasant!  Go to Dunkin Donuts for your… coffee!”  Well, that’s pretty much how I feel going to these places and asking for a plain cheeseburger.  I’m offending them.  And in a way, they’re offending me, too.  I don’t see it as a place that has to elevate something simple to the point of eliminating the basics, I see it more like, we can’t do the basics well, so we’ll hide behind fancy buns and toppings and other ingredients to make up for that shortcoming.  And people eat that shit up, literally.

This problem is everywhere.  Remember when you could buy a candy bar?  Now you can’t buy one.  You have to buy two.  They call it King Size, or Sharing Size, or whatever.  Pretty soon, they’re going to start mixing different candy bars and saying it’s the new hip thing to do to when you get say, a Mounds and a Peppermint Patty together and eat them together like a fucking BURGER.

Remember when you just went and bought ice cream?  Cold Stone Creamery took care of that.  Remember when you bought a fountain drink?  Coca Cola Freestyle machines to the rescue.  Remember when you smoked cigarettes?  Vaping gives you 50,000 different flavors and buzz levels.  Remember casino slot machines with three reels?  They got SO complex they couldn’t even be mechanical anymore.  They had to be virtual reels on a touch screen.

I’m old.  There, I said it.

Misunderstood

I don’t know why I have this little hangup about posts where I feel if I don’t have at least a certain wordcount, it’s not really worth posting at all.  I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about how different social platforms are optimized for different message lengths, but blogging is supposed to be for the longest form of writing.  Well, not today.  Story time!

HH

I’m out at lunch at Hungry Howies, enjoying my usual small pizza with light sauce and pepperoni, when I notice a wasp out of the corner of my eye in the window.  I can immediately tell the wasp is agitated, but that is sort of a moot observation because wasps have no chill and are always agitated. 

Without trying to cause too much alarm and make myself a target, I visually confirm which side of the glass the wasp is on.  It’s my side, the worse of the two available sides.  I watch the wasp carefully, without making direct eye contact.  I want to know what his plans are, maybe to continue pushing against the glass or maybe to go elsewhere, like my face.

After a while of watching, less than a minute for sure, I decided the wasp must be killed so I may eat in peace.  So I get up from my booth and go up to the counter to get a killing implement.  A woman meets me at the counter and I ask, “Do you have a fly swatter?”  She says sure and disappears.  The woman took longer than I would expect, but eventually comes back with a paper cup and a lid.  I’m thinking to myself, “What the fuck.  You want me to trap this thing in a cup?”

She holds the cup and lid out to me and says, “That’s the best I could do.”  I make no move to take the items from her and I must’ve had the strangest expression on my face, because she pulled back and asked, “You said you wanted an ice water?”

No.  That isn’t what I wanted.

More Food Updates

In another weekend trip to Touristville, the GF and I ended up at our favorite steakhouse (but at a different location).  The last time I had to write about this, the dining experience was up and down.  This time, it was pretty much a plunge into despair.  I won’t bore anyone with tedious details,  I’ll just sort of hit the high points (which are the low points).

When we got there, 6 pm on a Saturday, we were informed that the wait was 90 minutes.  They actually said, “an hour and a half”, which actually makes it sound a lot worse.  At our last touristville experience, we were told there was a 45 minute wait and we were seated pretty quickly.  So, I agreed to wait.  Well, they kept their word and then some.  We didn’t get to the table until almost 8.

When you’re seated at a community table, it’s always a crap shoot as to who you’re going to be with.  In tonight’s group, we had a Hispanic family that included a vegetarian.  But it wasn’t a cool vegetarian, it was a “I’M VEGETARIAN!” vegetarian.  There was also a man so old he couldn’t do anything for himself.  I actually suspected he could, but his female partner ordered (and I use ordered in multiple meanings here) everything.  He tries to speak up for himself and his other half shouts over him.  So you know, a boisterous party.

The other side of the table had what seemed to be a mother and her two daughters and a dude.  At first it was a little hard to tell if the dude was the brother or the boyfriend of the older girl.  And “older” is really pushing it here; she looked like she was about 12 and the dude looked about 15.  But it was made clear that they were a couple in relatively short order.  At one point the girl wanted her mom to take a picture of them and as they snuggled up, the dude kind of raised the girls shirt or maybe tucked his hand under it.  In any regard, it was all a little weird and uncomfortable.

The chefs at this location were fucking spazzes.  I guess you have to be a little over the top to get the attention of tourists who’ve been at theme parks all day, but holy shit.  So much yelling and banging and fire.  And in spite of that, the chefs seemed to not be engaged with the table and would get distracted to chat with other employees walking around.  As far as quality, my extra side dish was overlooked and the food was very light on the soy sauce.  When I asked for extra soy sauce on my steak, the chef tried to talk me out of it.  And in the end, it was just a couple of drips, nothing to really taste.

And the last anecdote comes from the GF on her disastrous bathroom visit.  As it was told to me, there were three stalls.  One had a pile of shit-covered toilet paper on the floor.  The second held an employee, who had her apron off and laid out on the bathroom floor.  The third had an overflowing sanitary receptacle.  There are no good options here.

The whole 3+ hour ordeal made me miss my personal home steakhouse and turned me off from touristville locations.

The next day, I seized the opportunity to verify that Pollo Tropical had changed their operations chain-wide.  And I have confirmed it.  The location we went to had the same cheap white Styrofoam plates, plasticware, and single-size cups.  There were no onions or limes on the chicken and there was no table service or cleanup.

We also had a slight order problem that highlighted a flaw in their new operational procedure.  When you order a meal, you now wait for your order number to be called.  In our case, we picked up the order and when we got to the table, found a side was missing.  So the GF went to the cashier, who ignored her because she wasn’t in line.  After getting the cashier’s attention and explaining the situation, the cashier yelled to the order picker, who ignored her.  GF came back to the table furious.

I went up and stood where the orders were picked up.  The order picker kept her back to me.  And I kind of understood that.  There’s always a crowd of people waiting for food.  You could say her communication was unidirectional.  She called the order numbers and that’s it.  There was no consideration of a communication coming inbound to her.  And when she turned around and called a number, I caught her eye, but she still turned back around, requiring me to verbally interrupt her.  And then we got the problem resolved.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about Pollo, there’s been a significant decline in the customer service department.  The GF vowed that Pollo would become a drive-thru-only option, and I would agree.  There is nothing compelling about the dine-in experience.

So, that’s the report on dining this weekend.  If there’s news, it’s probably not good news.