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February 8, 2012

Il Forno

Filed under: Uncategorized @ 3:24 pm

First Impressions

Il Forno took over the location of the Kyoto Bowl at McKellips and Power Road, and they clearly are trying to move the place upmarket.  The tiled floors are still there, but they’ve neatly marked their logo on all the windows, and added some attractive, rustic-looking tables and a large “booth wall” leather seating surface.  Our party of ten was seated immediately, once enough tables were wrangled to handle us.  Background music was relatively subtle, but when the wood-fired oven is going, there’s the unmistakeable smell of its activity.

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February 25, 2011

Bandera Restaurant

Filed under: American,Scottsdale, Az @ 2:31 pm

I first tried to set an reservation online, with no success. I then just looked up their number, called the restaurant and asked for a reservation.  A man answered the phone and informed me that he was a cook, “hold on for just a second” ten minutes later he came back and said “the only time he had was 8:45″. I just showed up at 7:00 waited 20 minutes and they seated us. First thing I asked the waitress, ” why aren’t you guys on Open Table or have the ability to set a reservation online”, she told me, “it’s part of the Bandera appeal, we don’t believe in all that internet stuff”. Sheeees

The food was great if you have the perseverance and are willing to go thought the pain of getting it.  I ate a rotisserie chicken and ribs plate.  They have some secret way of cooking the chicken and ribs there that’s fantastic. They have this corn bread and this grilled artichoke plate that you have to get if you go there.

The service was fine, besides the stupid answer she gave me.  Kind-of a bar atmosphere, trying to be a little “Scottsdale Cool” for some normal people “like me”.  If you have the whole night  and go here, it’ll probably be spent, it may be worth it.


Bellagio

Filed under: AZ,Mediterranean,Mesa, AZ @ 2:01 pm

First Impressions

Bellagio continues their seeming perpetual process of reinvention since our last visit.  The most prominent new feature is a massive wall seperating the bar area from the dining room.  The result is a more intimate-seeming dining room, and a somewhat hipper looking bar area, and a round of confused looks as we entered a bar area the size of a postage stamp looking for the rest of our party.  The dining area itself, however, retains the same general vibe of murals on the walls and wooden tables.  A little more ornate than family-spaghetti-night at Buca di Beppo, but still inviting and unpretentious. (more…)


January 28, 2010

The Falcon’s Roost

Filed under: American,Mesa, AZ @ 9:09 pm

First Impressions

When Web-Op moved into its first offices, the Falcon’s Roost was right across the road, having been there for about 200 years.  A death in the owners closed it for several months, and it re-opened with a decidedly less dank and bar-like atmosphere.

Much of the small dividers, and all the booze bottles went, and now there’s a few small posters of aviation fairs, and an endless movie of small aircraft being projected on the wall.  It’s a more welcoming place than the original Roost, but it seemed to be as short-staffed as ever.  Only 4 in our party, a fairly empty room, and we still had to wait for a menu.

The Menu

The Roost has also scaled back their menu– many of the Mexican dishes and breakfast items are away, leaving a few American standards and a custom burger or two.  It still seems like a very old menu, where nobody wants to offend anyone, so they make two cuisines.

Food

I chose the patty melt.  It was my favorite at the old Roost, and it seemed largely the same– big patty, onions, sort-of rye bread.  While I had to get it re-cooked (it was initially a bit raw, for hamburger– scary!)  the finished meal was fresh and crunchy, with very home-style french fries.  It was reasonably priced– about 7.50– for an American style diner.

Service

While the service was slow, they were attentive and polite when we sent back stuff.  It’s all we can hope for, realistically. :)   They also did better after the order was made.  Our orders were correct, and came together.

Conclusion

The Falcon’s Roost fills in a local niche:  reasonably-priced food not even an 85-year-old would fear, but still more vital than the Iowa Cafe.  I hope they can thrive with their new layout and target market.


Lucky Lou’s

Filed under: American,Chandler, AZ @ 8:52 pm

First Impressions

I had the sense this place was trying for the wholesome-meets-sports-bar vibe with the chalkboard wall of specials and the cutesy casino theme.  The overall space is fairly cramped, with a sit-down bar and many small corners packed with tables.

While our party of ten was seated quickly, it seemed like no real accomodations were made for parties over six or so.

The Menu

While much of Lucky Lou’s selections seemed conventional American, there seemed to be a lot of gaps on the menu.  All the sandwiches seemed to follow a basic theme, and there were few entrees.  A large focus was on burgers, and much of the lunch menu was soup-and-small-entree offers.  However, the narrowness in some sections was compromised with exotic appetizers, suggesting sports bar again:  meat skewers and fried zucchini were tried by the others eating today.

Food

I chose the fish special.  It was three large, freshly-fried filets, served with a red-cabbage coleslaw and a vegetable selection.  I asked for the steamed vegetables, as a fat balancer, and was saddened to see broccoli only.  It was topped, for no aim save to make it fatty, with shaved cheese, but was otherwise fine.

Another diner ordered a salad, which was the size of a satellite dish; the main aim of the restaurant seems to be to overwhelm with size, not inexpensive offers.  The lunch special (walleye) was over $12.  It might work in Lou’s fancy Chandler area, but I’m a Mesa hick.

Service

Our orders came out erratically, but the service was fairly fast.  Drinks didn’t seem to be intensely monitored, but on a cold, rainy day, who wants more Coke?

Conclusion

While Lucky Lou’s doesn’t offer much to email home for now, it could improve easily– a little wider menu, a little healthier menu, and it would draw more easily.


December 4, 2009

Carbajal’s Mexican Food – Mesa

Filed under: Mexican @ 11:18 am

In the search for the best Mexican food in the valley my girlfriend Abbe and I recently tried Carbajal’s on Baseline road between Ellsworth and Crimson. I thought the place was named after the boxer Michael Carbajal with all the celebrity restaurants popping up here in the valley – but apparently its been in business for over 15 years and seems unrelated.

The restaurant is tucked into a small plaza on the corner of Crismon and Baseline that is also host to a Basha’s. From the outside it looks like a small take out only place, but there is a small dining area as well. The menu is moderately priced for Mexican food and the service is pretty good. They offer fairly standard fare for the genre but everything I’ve tried so far has been excellent. The portions tend to be on the small side (especially for a giant gringo like me) but everything is infused with great flavor and an authentic taste. I recommend the fajitas although many reviews suggest the rellenos. Overall I recommend it.


November 24, 2009

Mi Amigo’s

Filed under: Mesa, AZ,Mexican @ 7:28 pm

First Impressions

Mi Amigo’s has moved up in the appearance department-  less frills and random decor, more of a tidy, moderately expensive place.

 

However, once we were seated, the impression failed.  A laminated, child-proof menu, and crude tortilla chips, made of a half-tortilla each, didn’t make the grade. (more…)


November 13, 2009

Silke’s American Grill

Filed under: Uncategorized @ 4:03 pm

First Impressions

Silke’s is crammed next to a closed WaMu branch beside a likely soon-closed Basha’s.  It formerly held Florodino’s, a low-end Italian place, and some of the general look– leather booths, nicely done up tables– seems left behind. The walls have a small scattering of Cracker Barrel style doodads, making Silke’s seem a little higher up-market than other American places.
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October 24, 2009

Hot Dogs And More

Filed under: Uncategorized @ 8:10 pm

Second Impressions

It seems Hot Dogs and More has become our default “penalty choice” when alternatives aren’t given.  It’s still a narrow location stuffed with local business’ advertising cards.

As a self-service location, our orders were taken reasonably quickly, but we simply can’t seat 8 in one group.

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October 9, 2009

Flancer’s

Filed under: American,Mesa, AZ @ 7:11 pm

First Impressions

They spent a lot of money furnishing Flancer’s.  Framed vintage posters and large plasma televisions dominate the walls, and nicely finished wooden tables and fresh booths fill the room.  However, it was still difficult to find a seat for eight; we were wedged into a booth really best meant for six.

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