Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Station 22 Cafe

Where: 22 West Center Street, Provo, UT (near Comedy Sportz and Sammy's)
Distance: 1.2 Miles
Website: station22cafe.com
Restaurant Type: Single Location
Cuisine: American, Sandwiches/Subs, Soups
My Frequency: First Time
Who: Benson, Kaitlyn, Janson, and John
Food: Caprese, Fries, Hush Puppies, 22 Club, Chicken N Waffles, and Grilled Cheese Kid's Meal
Price: $36.61 (Caprese $7.50, Fries $4.50, Hush Puppies $4.50, 22 Club $8.50, Chicken N Waffles $8.50, Kid's Meal  $3.99 though now looking at it, I don't think we got charged for the fries)
My thoughts:



First off sorry for the lower quality pictures. I also realized that most of them are vertical rather than horizontal. That's what I get for forgetting a card for my camera . . . One thing that I didn't realize until going to write up this post, was that the name comes from the address. It's 22 W Center, so it's Station 22. I know it's a little detail that's probably pretty obvious for most people, but I thought it was neat.



The decor is basic, but fresh. Station 22 is part of the Provo Town Center which gives it a fun, downtown feel. It's connected in the back to the other offices and restaurants. The only problem is that they don't have their own restroom and you have to travel pretty far to get to it.


The deep American roots and flavors describes the southern, soul food found on the menu. It's also always fun to see that the ingredients are fresh, local, and made from scratch. Out of everything on this sign though, the part that we truly had to stretch was the "Order Here, Then Relax." We ordered, but had a hard time relaxing while we were waiting for what seemed like eternity.


Luckily for the long wait, they had this bookcase with games. Janson was a trooper, but I don't know if he could have made it the whole time without it. I've alluded to the long wait a couple times now, so I might as well tell you just how bad it was. Almost an hour for our food. That's right, we were shocked. They also never even really apologized. There were only two people working, but not really that many people in the restaurant. Other customers were visibly and vocally angry though. One told us that "they didn't have everything that we ordered." I'm hoping that we just caught them on a bad day.


After forever, the Hush Puppies came first. They were very good and unique. They're covered in the house 22 sauce which we pinned as a type of sweet, chipotle sauce. They were very crispy and fresh. Overall a good dish, but anything would have been good for how hungry we were by the time our food came.


I love southern food and one of my favorites is Chicken N Waffles. This dish looked amazing and I was really excited for it. Unfortunately the waffle was cold. The bacon was good, but it's hard to mess up bacon. The chicken was a bit dry, but the breading was flaky and tasty. Besides being cold, the waffle was fairly ordinary. What made this dish unique was the sauce. It came with a sweet, caramelly sauce that was delicious. My guess with the waffle being cold is that they made mine earlier, but were waiting for the sandwiches and it got cold. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I'd order this again. 


I asked Janson how his food was and he said it was good, but that his fries were cold. I snuck one and though they were a bit cold, the waffle was way colder. Though I didn't try his grilled cheese, it looked good. My impression in the past with kid's menus is that they normally aren't too unique but rather simple which I'm fine with.



Both of the sandwiches looked pretty good, but this just reminds me that we had to wait forever. Wait forever for a cold waffle and sandwiches. I can whip up a sandwich at my house in 2 minutes. Granted there's more prep for hand-pulled mozzarella. Sorry to focus on the wait again, but it was just really hard for me to get past it and see the food in a fair light. Benson did really enjoy his sandwich. The flavors mixed well and it had a perfect amount of ingredients.

Our fries never came, but in retrospect I'm thinking they just missed it on the order. I'm thinking that we didn't even pay for them, but Benson got them in a box to go.

Do differently next time:
Go in with a different mentality. I'm fine waiting for my food if it's worth it, but I was in a rush that day and I wasn't up for the wait. I'm hoping they're normally faster, but either way I could have been more patient. Also I'd like to try a sandwich for myself.

The Verdict: 
Try It. I really think that there's much more potential here, but based on this experience I wasn't that excited. I do open this up to lovers of Station 22 or management to offer me a second go. I'd normally try a place more than once on my own, but this time I need a bit more motivation.

Other Opinions:
Station 22 Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 10, 2012

Guru's


Where: 45 East Center Street, Provo (Downtown on the east side of center)
Distance: 1.1 Miles
Website: guruscafe.com
Restaurant Type: Single Location
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Breakfast/Brunch, Modern American
My Frequency: About 10 Times
Who: Chiara and John
Food: West of Philly Wrap, Veggie Quesadilla Special, and Sweet Potato Fries
Price: $11.75 ($7.49 Quesadilla & $2.99 Fries)
My thoughts:


Guru's is one of the typical downtown places that seems to do pretty well for itself. I've been a handful of times and have overall enjoyed the visit, though I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite places. I honestly though go here more often than I would if I better remembered past experiences. Some parts draw me back, but I'm always slightly let down.


The decor always seems a little strange for me. It has this modern, industrial type feel with all the metal artwork. There's a mural on the one wall and random things that don't seem to tie well enough together for me. The strangest part though is the flat screen TVs with Sports Center playing. I'm a big fan of ESPN, but it just doesn't fit the ambiance for the crowd. I don't hate anything about the decor (surprisingly not even the flower covers on the old CRT TVs), but I definitely don't love it either.


They have a number system which is fairly typical, but there's something taped down by the register that's a little unique. "PLEASE TIP SERVER. TIP) noun a material favor or gift, usually money, given in return for service." The strange part for me is that you don't really have a server. Yeah someone brings out your food, but they don't come back and check on you or fill up your drink. Sometimes I still do tip here though because I feel like the food has come faster. Overall though, I wouldn't brag about the service or say that I feel a tip is necessary for what you receive.


In talking about what draws me back, this is probably the highlight. I'm a huge sweet potato fry fan and these get the job done and then some for me. They are crispy seasoned goodness with a delicious unique fry sauce. I really don't have anything bad to say about these. They are for the most part very consistent and enjoyable. No matter what else you order, get some of these.


Chiara's West of Philly Wrap was good. It had a lot of lettuce which gave it a fresh taste, but had enough meat to make it taste 'like a cheeseburger in a wrap.' Who wouldn't like a fresh tasting cheeseburger disguised as a healthy wrap? The chips are a good filler, but nothing more. The salsa here is water, but fresh tasting.


My first bite was horribly over seasoned and then I got a kick in the face of blue cheese. Normally I'm complaining that foods are too bland, but this one just had too much going for it. I mean look at the picture, you can see the seasoning caked on the tortilla. Also I normally love blue cheese, but it just didn't mix well with the other flavors for me. The vegetables weren't anything special and seemed plain compared to the other overpowering flavors. Mine also came with chips and salsa which are just ok.

Do differently next time:
Go for breakfast. For how much I love breakfast, I can't believe I haven't tried it yet. Maybe it's because you have to wake up early. That tends to be a problem sometimes . . .

The Verdict:
Try It. I used to think it was more of a four star type of place, but I've been let down more often lately. It still has good food and I'd go just for the amazing sweet potato fries. I just haven't been thrilled with the entrees recently. Maybe this will change, but right now I'm sticking with a just 'try it.'

Other Opinions:
Guru's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cafe West (the Hospital)

Where: 1034 North 500 West Provo, UT (in the hospital on the first floor)
Distance: 1 Mile
Website: intermountainhealthcare.org (click on 'For Patients & Visitors' and then 'Cafe West')
Restaurant Type: Single Location
Cuisine: American, Breakfast/Brunch, Desserts/Ice Cream
My Frequency: 7-10 Times
Who: John, Justin, and Scott
Food: Cheeseburger, Fries, Strawberry Oreo Shake
Price: $5.50 (Cheeseburger $2 and Shake $3)
My thoughts:


The first time that someone asked me if I wanted to go to the Hospital to eat, I was a bit taken a back. Isn't hospital food known for being really bad? Cafe West seems to be the exception because friends from multiple circles have recommended that we go. The real appeal to my college friends I think is that it's open 24 hours a day.


The burger isn't bad for being only $2. The bun is actually really good, but the patty isn't anything special. The cheese is low quality, but overall not a bad burger. Maybe I'm only saying this because I've only had it late at night, but who knows.


The fries are crispy and come with fry sauce, but are fairly average overall. I've also ordered the onion rings ($1.50) which are better but fairly average as well. The grilled chicken ($3.25) is overpriced and really not that great. I had a BLT ($2.75) once as well and it was good, but it's not hard to mess up a BLT.


The shakes are the one thing that I plan on getting when I go to Cafe West. They are very good for the price and have a good deal of combinations. I highly recommend getting Oreo with banana or strawberry, because the Oreo ice cream is like getting an extra topping.


There are also a couple of racks with miscellaneous items. Cafe West definitely there for the people who work at the hospital and visitors, but they don't ID you or anything so it's open to all. I bet those who work there get frustrated when they have to wait to get through a long line of college students, but tough.

Do differently next time:
Nothing. It is what it is for those who need it. I do need to try omelet night at some point. If you haven't heard, about once a month Cafe West sells huge omelets for super cheap (like $4?).

The Verdict: 
Try It. Especially if you're up late and want somewhere other than McDonald's to eat. I really do enjoy the shakes and the food doesn't seem half bad that late at night though I probably really is . . .


Other Opinions:
Cafe West on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 6, 2012

Kneaders

Where: 295 W. 1230 N. Provo (near McDonald's on Bulldog)
Distance: 0.75 Miles
Website: kneaders.com
Restaurant Type: Regional Chain (about 30 locations across Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon)
Cuisine: Bakery, Soups, Sandwiches/Subs
My Frequency: 10-15 times
Who: Collin and John
Food: Bottomless French Toast and Bottomless Sourdough Pancakes for Breakfast. Turkey Bacon Avocado on Focaccia and Planet Peaches Smoothie
Price: $10.75 for breakfast for two ($4.99 a piece) and $10.33 for lunch for one ($6.99 sandwich and $2.99 smoothie)
My thoughts:



Kneaders is great because it's a little more unique than some of the other places in Provo. It's a bakery so you're guaranteed good bread, but it's what they do with the fresh bread that makes this place so enjoyable for me. You can see on the billboard the main reason that I've ever gone to Kneaders: All You Can Eat Fresh Toast for $4.99.


Fresh thick bread made in house. Yes please. Add fresh strawberries and delicious buttery syrup. Yes please. Let me eat all I can. Heck yes! This is the plate that they start you out with. It's important to note that though you can get as much syrup and french toast as you can eat, you only get one cup of strawberries and cream, so use it wisely. One of the best things is that there isn't much of a wait for your extra servings. Some all-you-can-eat places have such a delay for round two that you get worn down and aren't as hungry. That being said, I really only need a round and a half or so to be full and content with this delicious breakfast. 




I had been so happy with the French Toast that I never tried these Sourdough Pancakes until this time. Though they are nice and fluffy, I definitely prefer the French Toast. The neat thing is that because the price is the same, they let me get French Toast as my refill. I know I said before that the syrup is delicious and buttery, but it is so good it deserves special mention again. I really really enjoy the syrup here paired with the fresh strawberries and cream.


Before I talk about my lunch trip, I want to show you some of the special features of the interior. The decor in fun and homey. It feels like a rich family's house, and surprisingly the decorations go together pretty well even though there are a lot of them.


Another neat thing about Kneaders is that they sell all of their breads to take home. I honestly haven't bought a whole loaf before, but from what I've had by the slice at the store, I can tell you it's good stuff.



Even though I haven't bought any of the breads to take home, they always have a couple of options out to sample. You can see they have these orange rolls to try, with packages boxed up next to the register to take home. I think it's a great way to get some variety and hold you over just a bit until your food is ready.


My favorite part of this Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich was the bacon. It was fresh and crispy. The bread is also delicious on this sandwich. It's Focaccia, which is nice and thick with delicious melted cheese on the top. Also, since Kneaders is a bakery, it was very fresh. The turkey wasn't that great, unfortunately. It was a bit dry and detracted from the other good flavors. It is a large sandwich that may be big enough for two meals or for two people. The avocado was fresher than any I've had this year, and I really enjoyed it.


This smoothie was a great complement to the meal. It was fresh and creamy. Overall it was perfect! This trip I went through the drive-through, which took longer than expected. Though my meal was good, it was more expensive than I think it was worth.

Do differently next time:
Nothing. I've been to Kneaders often enough and I've found what I like. I would say that I've had their soup before and have never been impressed. The salads, on the other hand, have been good overall. I also haven't had a bad dessert there yet. There's a large selection of pastries for your sweet tooth.

The Verdict:

Breakfast: Good Choice. It's a great not-run-of-the-mill kind of place. Though it is growing, it still has more of a local feel, which has some appeal for me. The breakfast is great if you're looking to get full on something delicious for a low price.

Lunch: Try it. It's a solid lunch, but for the price I don't know if it's worth it to me. I've never split my recommendation for a restaurant, but because of the large difference I'm going to this time.

Other Opinions:
Kneaders Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 3, 2012

Five Guys


Where: 1051 South 750 East, Orem, UT (near the University Mall Theater)
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Website: www.fiveguys.com
Restaurant Type: National Chain (over 1000 locations in more than 40 states)
Cuisine: Burgers
My Frequency: About 20 times
Who: Collin, Scott, and John
Food: Bacon Cheeseburger (All the Way except no Ketchup or Mustard with A1 Sauce) and a Regular Fry
Price: $11.09 (for the burger $6.89 and fry to share $2.99)
My thoughts:


I first heard about Five Guys from my good friend Tom. He's from Virginia (where it started) and is a big fan. I was skeptical because of how much I love Fuddruckers, but was up for giving Five Guys a chance. I didn't love it at first, but it's grown on me and now I occasionally crave it. Living in DC definitely helped my love of Five Guys since they are everywhere in DC including the Nationals Stadium. Nothing felt more American than eating a Five Guys Burger while watching baseball in our nation's capital. Good times.


The menu is very basic. You have basically have burgers, dogs, sandwiches, and fries. I've always ordered a burger, but the size and toppings are what you have to decide. The little bacon cheeseburger may make you sound like a wussy, but it's actually a pretty good sized burger. I only get the regular bacon cheeseburger if I'm starving. You can get whatever toppings you like, all for free.


One unique thing about Five Guys is that you get to eat peanuts while waiting. It's nothing crazy, but just enough to hold you over. Look for the boxes near the entrances. I normally get two cardboard containers: one for peanuts and one for the shells after I've eaten them. If you're deathly allergic to peanuts, I'm sorry, but this isn't your place probably.


One of my favorite parts is that everyday they post where the potatoes come from. It's almost always somewhere in Idaho (go figure), but since my sister lived there I sometimes know some of the smaller places where they get their spuds. It's just nice to know that your fries are fresh.


... So fresh that you can see bags of potatoes throughout the store. Also, the walls are loaded with awards because Five Guys has a reputation, especially in the east. It's spreading, but still stronger at its roots.


I love how many fries you get. I got a regular fry to share, which is plenty for twoalmost threepeople. They don't just fill the cup with fries, they load the bag. What you see is just what's left over after I took out the cup of fries. There are so many fries it's hard to get the burger out sometimes. Once I do, I tear the bag down to the fries, eat mine from there and give someone else the cup of fries to eat. 


I used to think that vinegar was cleaning product since we kept it under the kitchen sink. I was honestly scared of salt and vinegar chips or vinegar on anything. Tom and Five Guys changed this for me. These fries are dang good by themselves or with just ketchup, but add some vinegar and you're in heaven. You can either put it right in your ketchup or sprinkle it on the fries. Normally fries don't wow me very much, but I'd go to Five Guys just for the fries. They have a great fresh potatoey flavor.


I've said so much about the fries that I haven't even told you about the burger. This isn't the best picture of their burgers. This one is actually rather messy. I really enjoy the burgers. They have some of the freshest ingredients, and the meat is cooked just right for me. The bun isn't anything special, but is sturdy enough for the juicy burgers and toppings.

Do differently next time:
I really love everything that I've had at Five Guys. My only "regret" is that I've never tried the hot dogs. Also, my biggest complaint against Five Guys is that they don't have shakes or ice cream. They focus on doing well with what they do have, but I think that offering ice cream desserts would enhance the menu.


The Verdict:
Good Choice. Without Fuddruckers in the picture, this may be my favorite burger joint. I love almost everything about them and know that I'll be happy every time I go. You can also order online or with their mobile app if you're in a hurry and want it ready when you get there. I do that sometimes if I'm at Costco and want to grab it on my way home.

Other Opinions:
Five Guys Burgers and Fries on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Emmanuel's Fresh Grill


Where: 520 N 900 E, Provo (Near Gold's Gym and Stan's)
Distance: .7 Miles
Restaurant Type: Single Location
Cuisine: Mexican
My Frequency: First Time
Who: Kerry, Tim, Brent, Amanda, and John
Food: Combo Plate
Price: FREE (grand opening)
My thoughts:



Emmanuel's is testing out the treacherous waters at this deadly location. It was McDonald's in the more distant past, but more recently Chadder's and T's Diner. If McDonald's chooses not to be somewhere, I never feel super optimistic about the market. As a recap, Chadder's got sued/pushed out of business from In N Out as Chadder's was illegally copying In N Out's color schedule, packaging, and menu. T's was a decent diner, but didn't really create a new or unique enough identity to get it off the ground. Emmanuel's is poised to offer a new twist for this location, but we'll see how they fare with Taco Bell right across the street. Taco Bell provides the students in the area with their cheap Mexican food, so Emmanuel's need to be good enough to attract some students, but even more so locals in the nearby neighborhoods.


Today is the grand opening. If you are reading this today, you're lucky because they are serving up free combo plates complete with fountain drinks. Vivint is the sponsor, which leads me to believe that there's some personal connection with the owner. Their store is also decked out with Vivint automation equipment (if you're looking for it), and Vivint doesn't do corporate accounts very frequently. 

The free combo plates were available for lunch today and will be again for dinner from 6-8 tonight. It's a standard serving for everyone of beef tacos, enchilada, and beans. It was a good portion for lunch, and you can't beat free. After your free dinner you can come watch my championship ultimate frisbee intramural game. It's going to be epic!


The meal was overall a little bland, but thankfully they had some salsas and garnishes to doctor it up. I'm a normally a huge fan of tomatillo salsa, but wish that they also offered a red salsa. The beans were pasty and downright bad in my opinion. The beef in the tacos was okay, but I would have liked fresher meat. The enchilada was good, but nothing that would definitely get me back. The food was overall decent, but nothing to write home about. I do understand that it's their first day and they were giving it out for free.

The Verdict:
I'm going to be nice and not do a verdict quite yet. I plan on going back in a couple of weeks once they are more established and do a full review. I feel like it has potential as something newer for that area, but we'll see. The service was fantastic and my brother really enjoyed his horchata, so those are two definite pluses.

Other Opinions:
Emmanuel's Fresh Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Thai Ruby Restaurant


Where: 744 E 820 N, Provo (south of campus and J-Dawgs)
Distance: 0.3 Miles
Website: thairubyfood.com (there, but not really developed)
Restaurant Type: Single Location
Cuisine: Thai
My Frequency: First Time
Who: John and Richelle
Food: Pad Thai with Shrimp, Pad Prik King with Beef, and Mango Sticky Rice
Price: $38.83 (for two with a dessert to share)
My thoughts:




This is one of many long overdue posts. When I started this blog, one of my first tasks was to find a quality editor. It's something that I honestly didn't even realize that I needed, but that has made a big difference in the overall quality of my posts. I found such excellence in my good friend Richelle. As celebration for this new endeavor I promised her a meal at a restaurant of her choice. Being the Thai lover that she is, we settled on Thai Ruby.


Even though I've lived extremely nearby on Condo Row, I had never ventured over to this taste of Thailand. It is extremely close to campus, and I was surprised that I hadn't heard more about it. As soon as I looked at the menu, I realized why. The price point is a little high for starving students who you'd think would be the target market because of the restaurant's location. Richelle assured me that though students do come, there's a large enough following of locals to keep Thai Ruby going.



The menu was beautiful. I normally don't judge a place too much on the appearance of the menu, but this one just stuck out to me. It was like looking through a picture book. It featured stunning photos of many of the dishes. I know it may not seem like too important of a detail, but it definitely enhanced my experience.


The decor was also full of intricate details, which added to the ambiance. I felt like it was missing elephants. When I think of Thailand I think of elephants. I found maybe one or two decorations with an elephant, but there were too small to warrant a picture dedicated to them. Maybe I'm just picky or sat in the wrong part of the dining room, but that's just me.



Richelle really loves her Pad Prik King. You get a large portion of rice to eat your dish over. It has a great kick and flavor with curry. Richelle craves this dish. "It's all in the sauce and fresh green beans" for her. I had a bite and though I enjoyed it, I personally liked my Pad Thai better.


Pad Thai is my go-to because I love the flavoring of the noodles, green onion, scrambled egg, and of course shrimp. The noodles did seem a tad chewy for me at first, but got better as ate more. Overall it had a great flavor. I felt that the shrimp wasn't as good as it normally should be and was overpriced at $3 extra to my meal.



Even though we were both pretty full, there's always room for dessert, right? :) This Mango Sticky Rice was a perfect sweet ending to a satisfying meal. It was warm and creamy and had a great buttery flavor. The cool mango was a perfect complement to the warm rice, and we both overall really enjoyed this dessert.


Do differently next time:
I'm normally not one to gripe about price because I understand that for the most part you get what you pay for, but that's what got me hung up most at Thai Ruby. I think I'd go for lunch, though, because if I remember correctly, they have smaller lunch dishes for less.


The Verdict:
Try It. I normally like Thai food and though I did indeed enjoy it here, I don't know if my food warranted the higher price point. The service was fantastic and the food was fresh, but I still wasn't wowed enough to want to go back again real soon.

Other Opinions:
Thai Ruby Restaurant on Urbanspoon