Restaurant Reviews

My reviews are honest appraisals of the restaurant’s service and food.  My motive is to help people find excellent places to eat.  I hate wasting my time and money on sub par food and poor service.  I assume most people have the same stance.  I use 5 stars for rating and can also be found on Yelp.  There, my user name is R. “Chef Boof” W.

*****

POSTED ON YELP

July 8 , 2011

Tony’s Pizzaria Teatro, 103 Capital Blvd., Boise, ID  83702

Yesterday, while visiting family in Boise, I browsed Yelp to find a restaurant that neither me nor my family had tried before.  We were in the Downtown area at the time and discovered Tony’s Pizzeria.  The reviews sounded fantastic then my sister’s friend commented that she loves the pizza there.  That was all we needed to confirm our restaurant choice.  Off we went for dinner.

Tony’s is a small, narrow restaurant located across from City Hall and adjacent to the Egyptian Theater in downtown Boise.  Although limited seating is available, it offers both inside and street-side tables.  The menu items are anti-pasta, brick oven fired pizzas and calzones, beer, wine, and tiramisu.

Tony is a true Italian who still spends time in the old country.  His heritage, upbringing and love for preparing true southern Italian pizza to Boise is evident in the quality and selections available.  He is very friendly and inspiring to be around.

There were 5 in our group (not including the infant) and we snuggled together at the tables right next to the kitchen area so we could visit with each other and Tony.  I decided that we could order 4 different pizzas so we could take the left-overs with us to snack on while waiting for our loved one to recover from surgery.  In theory, it was a great idea.  In reality, we needed one more pizza!

The pizzas came out staggered one shortly after the other and each of us grabbed a slice as they came.  Upon taking the very first bite, we were transported back to Italy and the way pizza is intended to be made.  The pizza crusts were thin and light with a slight crisp from being baked in a hot brick oven.  The edges were slightly bubbly yet offered a mild snap followed by a slightly chewy texture to them.  I don’t know about you, but the crust can make or break a pizza and Tony makes an amazing crust. Three of the pizzas we ordered were topped with a simple and bright tomato sauce that screamed freshness in the most traditional way.

Now for those of you who have never had true Italian pizza, it is quite different than those made in the states.  Italian pizzas build upon complex yet simple flavors and are not masked by an abundance of cheeses.  Each pizza style is a work of art featuring the main topping ingredient(s).  We ordered four different styles and loved each in their own way.  We ate nearly all the pizza and the only reason why we didn’t finish the last few slices is because I physically took it off the table to keep my youngest nephew from devouring it.  (I wanted my sister to have some left over for her hospital midnight snack.)  Then the waitress mentioned Tiramisu…. Instantly my niece-in-law’s eyes lit up and nearly popped out of her head like Roger Rabbit when he first saw Jessica Rabbit.  I ordered two for the table and before I could lift my fork, she had devoured all but a couple bites.  The tiramisu was incredible and might even be the best I have ever tasted in my life.  I complimented Tony and learned it is one of his secret family recipes.

So what pizzas did we have?  Here it goes…..

Pizza # 2:  Margherita (with imported prosciutto di Parma added)
San Marzzano tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala, imported Parmigiano Reggiano and fresh basil.

Sometimes simple is best and in this case, it is so true.  The flavors were bright, rich, refreshing and delicious.  The proscuitto practically melted in our mouths.

Pizza # 6:   Biianca
Caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, sauteed spinach and goat cheese.

This pizza was rich and intense.  Delicate sweet onions laid the perfect foundation for the artichokes, spinach and goat cheese.  The addition of a splash of oil and balsamic vinegar pushed the pizza over the top with flavor.

Pizza #7:  Salsicia e’ Spinace
San Marzzanno tomatoes, mozzarella, housemade Italian sausage, sauteed spinach and roasted garlic.

This pizza was insane with flavor.  The Italian sausage was mild and delicious.

PIzza # 12: Quattro Stagioni
San Marzzano tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, asparagus, housemade Italian sausage and imported prosciutto di Parma.

Wow.  This one will blow your socks off.

Tiramisu:
Without a doubt, this is the best tiramisu I have ever eaten in my life.  My sister doesn’t like tiramisu and she loved it too.  She wanted more!

SUMMARY:

The food at Tony’s Pizzeria Teatro left me speechless–well almost.  I was able to utter, “Mmmm.   Ymmmmm… Ahhhh….Can I have another piece of pizza please! Ohhhhh…….”

All in all, it was a fabulous meal and a definite “do-over.”  My family has a new favorite pizza place and I will eat at Tony’s just about every time I come through Boise.

Thank you, Tony.  You are amazing and I am glad we met.  We will be back.  We will bring my niece in for tiramisu in the near future!!!

*****

POSTED ON YELP

June 29, 2011

Spoons Bistro, 32 W. Birch Street, Victor, ID  83455 

My husband and I were on vacation in the small, rural town of Victor, ID.  

The day before, I had asked the resort clerk for restaurant suggestions and Spoons Bistro was one of two recommended.  (Wildlife Brewing and Pizza was the other.)

Spoons Bistro is a small restaurant with seating both inside and on the front patio.  The weather was perfect and the sun was slowly setting over the Teton mountain range, so we opted for the patio.  It was so peaceful and beautiful that it had a romantic feel in the air.

My husband ordered the seared Idaho trout (Rainbow trout with oven roasted fingerling potatoes, sauteed greens and mushroom sherry cream sauce.  It was absolutely delicious.  The trout was perfectly cooked and seasoned properly.  I ordered the “2 a.m. Thanksgiving dinner” (oven-roasted turkey breast, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, haricots verts, and sage gravy served over 460 degree stuffing bread.)  Basically it was an open-faced turkey sandwich on steroids.  It was fantastic and the stuffing was insane.  Upon taking one bite of each dish, we instantly realized that this was all homemade food from a chef who is passionate about food.

Since dinner was so amazing, we opted for the almond creme brulee.  Now, I must say, I am a bit of a creme brulee snob.  I like it to have smooth, silky texture with good flavor and the absence of egg taste.  I was not disappointed.  It was excellent and the almond was the star of the show.

Two dinners and one shared dessert: $55.
Great setting, excellent food, and a romantic night watching the sun set with my ol’ man: Priceless!

If you are ever in Victor, ID, swing by.  It’s a “do-over!”

*****

POSTED ON YELP

June 27, 2011

Quang Zhou, 7609 W. Overland, Boise, ID  83709

My husband and I were in the mood for Chinese food after a week of camping in the backcountry so we turned to Yelp to help us find a good restaurant. Boasting a 4-star rating, we decided to try Guang Zhou which is located near the Edwards cinema.
We had an address and a sign was located on Overland directing us into the parking lot. We drove the whole lot with no luck and ended up having to call to get directions. We  finally arrived and saw the place was nearly empty (clue #1).    At Guang Zhou, you order and pay at the counter then sit for service (clue #2).  The  only encouragement we had was a small sign saying, “This is not fast food. We make everything fresh.”  We ordered our food and found a table.

My husband’s won ton soup came out first. The broth was quite tasty but the won ton itself was a little underwhelming. Next came the entrees. The pecan chicken was decent at first but I just couldn’t finish it as each bite I took, the taste worsened.  My husband’s egg foo young failed the test too. The star of the show, the egg, took a backseat to the vegetables. The pork fried rice and the steamed rices were dry and lacking flavor. We were about to leave when out came our potsticker appetizers. Seriously, I had forgotten we had ordered them. Again, I was disappointed. The potsticker meat was bland. Even pouring extra sauce on them didn’t help.

The dinner wasn’t a comeplete disaster though. The iced tea and Pepsi were very refreshing and the refills were timely. We also did not over eat–which is better for our waistlines.

All in all, it was a wasted $30 and without a doubt, the worst Chinese food we’ve ever eaten in our lives. Panda Express and mall food court Chinese is better than Guang Zhou.

So, if you think Panda Express is stellar, you’ll like Quang Zhou. For the  rest of you who know what good Chinese food is supposed to taste like,  don’t waste your time or money.

Sorry Quang Zhou. I don’t like writing bad reviews but your food just did not do it for us.

*****

POSTED ON YELP

June 27, 2011

Wildlife Brewing and Pizza, 145 S. Main Street, Victor, ID  83455 

My husband and I were on vacation in the small, rural town of Victor, ID.  We were hungry and wanted good food but have run into poor options in the past while in small towns.  I asked our resort clerk for recommendations and he suggested pizza at Wildlife Brewing and Pizza and Spoons Bistro.  Tired from the road trip, we decided to go with pizza.

We walked inside and found the ambiance to be nice.  We sat down and decided to split a pizza– half quattro formaggi and half with sausage, pepperoni etc.  Starved, we also ordered an appetizer of 6 cheesy garlic bread sticks.

We were surprised when the cheesesticks came out.  True, it was an order of six, but anywhere else, it would have been an order of 12.  The cheese sticks were awesome and it was apparent we were eating restaurant-made beer pizza dough.  The sticks were awesome.

Next came the pizza.  A true test of a good pizza is the 4-cheese test.  If you can get a basic pizza down, you are good to roll.  The cheese blend was amazing and again, the pizza dough was great.  The pizza was a thin crust with a nice, yeast-risen bubbly crust around the side.  This was not the ordinary small town tomato sauce topped cardboard crust I was expecting.  We were pleasantly surprised and ate it all up!

We did not try the beer but it is a brewery and there appeared to be a lot of happy customers with a cold mug of brew in their hands.

All in all, this is what we call a definite do-over.  We will gladly eat here every time our travels take us through Victor, ID.

*****

POSTED ON YELP

May 10, 2011

Jamie’s Broadway Grill, 427 Broadway, Sacramento, CA  95818 

Like many Northern California residents, my husband and I learned of Jamie’s Broadway Grill after being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  We were instantly intrigued and put it on our “To-Do” list.  Finally, the day arrived (April 18th) and we happened be in the area for a late lunch.  We looked at each other and both said, “Jamie’s!”  Off we went on our culinary adventure.

Jamie’s is located in an industrial/business area of Sacramento and, as a result, is only open Monday through Friday.  From the outside, you wouldn’t even know it was a restaurant. The interior, however, is reminiscent of an English pub–wood interior and an old-style wooden long bar.  You can easily envision a mug of beer sliding down the bar from bartender to patron.

The menu was short and consisted mainly of sandwiches which all sounded great.  I wasn’t sure what to get until the waitress started naming off the daily specials which included lamb stew in a bread bowl, NY steak, Tomato Soup, and Clam Chowder.  That’s all it took for us.  We ordered the lamb stew, NY steak and a cup of both soups.

A short time later, out came the soups and the portions were much larger than the traditional “cup” of soup served in other restaurants.  I dipped my spoon into the thick red soup and gave it a try.  Wow!  It literally was the best tomato soup I’ve ever had.  The flavors were rich, luscious and bold. It was absolutely delicious.  My husband dunked his spoon into the clam chowder and was immediately amazed at the quantity of clams present.  They were present in each and every bite.  He said the clam chowder was amazing! ( I didn’t try it–food allergies suck!)  We devoured the soups, and if it weren’t for my manners, I would have licked the bowl clean!

Then came the main dishes.  My lamb stew was overflowing the bread bowl. The velvety brown sauce that covered the meat and veggies was smooth, rich and extremely flavorful.  The meat was tender and the vegetables were perfectly cooked.  It was a darn good stew that I would never turn down.  Now if I could only sneak into the kitchen and steal the recipe!  It was just that good.   The NY steak was huge, perfectly seasoned, tender and cooked to my husband’s liking.  Awesome!

So went our first visit and we enjoyed it so much, we decided we would come back the following Monday for dinner.

The next week found us at Jamie’s again–ready to experience the dinner menu.  We were surprised to see the exact same menu.   The specials offered were the NY steak, a veal parmesan, and a fish and chip meal.  I ordered off the menu and got an open-faced turkey sandwich with all the trimmings.  It was good and the turkey was moist.  We also got the calamari steak as an appetizer for our group.  it, also, was good.  And, of course, I ordered the tomato soup again.  It was just as good as the last time.

In all honesty, we were a little disappointed with the available dinner items.  I guess our expectations were that there would be a whole different menu. That is our mistake though for not inquiring the week before.  It is a pub, after all.   We will go back for dinner at Jamie’s, though, because there is one thing on the dinner menu that is only offered Tuesday through Friday’s–smoked prime rib!  We are dying to try that.

Jamie’s is what we call a “do-over!”  We will be back.

*****

POSTED ON YELP

March 1, 2011

Charlotte’s Bakery and Cafe

493 Pleasant Valley Road
Diamond Springs, CA 95619
(530) 642-1500

In today’s hurried world, coffee houses featuring breakfast scones and pastries are a dime a dozen.  Most of these businesses and chains, however, feature specialty coffee drinks that are made from pre-made mixes.  The pastries are manufactured off-site and shipped to the establishment.  But, at Charlotte’s Bakery and Cafe, everything is made from scratch with love, passion and respect.

Each morning, a baker arrives in the wee hours of the morning to begin making scones, cinnamon rolls, brownies, cookies and other delights.  No need for preservatives and stabilizers here as they are hot and fresh out of the oven and devoured by the customers the same day.  The scones are a customer favorite.  Tender and packed full of flavor, they practically melt in your mouth.

Then there are the specialty coffee drinks.  Take, for example, the mochas.  The mocha mix is made on-site with real chocolate.  You can taste and feel the difference as the velvety smooth chocolate overtakes your senses.  If Chai Tea is your passion, you are in for a real treat. Milk is steeped with a house blend of fresh chai spices and ginger for a flavorful and aromatic treat.  As for the coffee, Chef Carolyn uses only the best coffee beans–Equator.  Equator is considered one of the finest artisan coffee and is featured at The French Laundry,  BouchonAd Hoc, and Citizen Cake to name a few.  According to The French Laundry Executive Chef Thomas Keller, “They (Equator Coffee) are artisans in their own right, and their products are the best available.”

Sandwiches are made to order on fresh-baked breads and there is no skimping on quality ingredients.  You haven’t lived until you’ve had the herbed goat cheese spread, the restaurant-made mayonnaise or the garlic aioli.  The Caesar salad is to die for.  The dressing is made from scratch and is bold and flavorful.  Add a marinated and grilled chicken breast and you will be in heaven.

I could go on forever about the foods offered at Charlotte’s Bakery and Cafe but, instead, why don’t you check it out for yourself.   You won’t be sorry and you will be a repeat customer for life.  The food is just that good.

Charlotte’s Bakery and Cafe–Taste the difference!

*****

POSTED ON YELP

December 10, 2010:  4 STARS

Tijuana Taqueria, 1762 Broadway, Placerville, CA  95667  (530) 622-9517

I first started eating at the Tijuana Taqueria when it first opened many moons ago.  At the time, it was a super tiny hole in the wall and only served take out.  People would order then sit on their tailgates and chow down.  Since those days (long before I had gray hair), they have expanded twice.  Now the place takes up almost the whole building.  The quality has pretty much stayed the same although their prices are slightly higher than in the old days.  They are still very reasonably priced though.

The food is the most authentic Mexican food you will find in El Dorado County.  My favorite is the tacos al pastor.  In fact, they are the only place I will order al pastor.  The others just don’t measure up.  The guacamole is to die for to.  To heck with the side of guacamole.  Get the large.  I guarantee it will get eaten quickly!  It’s just that good.  A word of caution to those who like chili Colorado,  it is REALLY spicy.  The flavor was amazing but my lips were ON FIRE.  I had to call 9-1-1 (well, almost!).

I am definitely a customer for life.  Take the drive and head off the beaten path to the Tijuana Taqueria.  You’ll be a fan too!

*****

POSTED ON YELP
07/13/2010:   NO STARS!
Dante’s On the River, 10976 Highway 50, Pollock Pines, CA  95726  
(OUT OF BUSINESS/MARCH 2011)

I will NEVER go back again and I recommend you don’t either!!!!To me, a successful restaurant is not just based on the food.  It is also based on their business management.  I had heard mixed reviews about Dante’s.  Finally, I decided to give them a try.  I figured that since it has been open a few years, it must be doing something right and whatever problem areas where in the past must have been corrected.  So, with a little encouragement, I talked my husband into taking the drive up to Kyburz for a nice, romantic dinner at Dante’s on the River.I checked the website and it said they were open on Monday’s until 9 pm.  We were safe!  We would arrive from our drive at 8.  So off we went.  We arrived at 7:59 and were greeted with, “Sorry.  We are closed.  We just shut down the kitchen.”  I was surprised.  I said that their website said they were open until 9 pm.  She responded with, “we’ve never been open until 9 pm!” then just walked away.   So interesting.Anyway, to say the least, we won’t be going back.  I don’t care if the food is the most amazing thing ever made.  I won’t give my money to poor business practices.  I will eat mediocre food with great service but I refuse to eat great food with poor service.  You are paying for the SERVICE AND THE FOOD!Now I am not saying that they should have opened up the kitchen.  Operational times do change–especially in this climate.  I just feel that they should be more inviting to the guests instead of giving them the feeling that their business is not wanted now or in the future!I am sorry Dante’s but I can not give you a single star.  You only got a star because Yelp requires a minimum of one star.   Your business attitude towards customer’s is too poor.

 *****

POSTED ON YELP

05/22/10: 3 STARS

Samuel Horns Tavern, 719 Sutter Street, Folsom, CA  916 396-8207

A co-worker of mine recommended this place and said they had a great hamburger.  So, craving a burger, off I went.  This is definitely a beer drinkers heaven.  The atmosphere was very nice, warm and friendly.  The rich wood decor reminded me of an English pub.  It was a Monday at lunch time so there was relatively no crowd.    At Samuel Horne’s Tavern, you order at the bar then the staff brings it out to you.  My husband and I ordered a burger–the one with the espresso red-eye bbq sauce.  

The service was relatively fast and the portion size was good for the price.  What I really liked about the burger was that it was a handmade patty of quality beef.  No pre-pressed with filler here!  We are not  big fans of coffee so the fact that the bbq sauce (which I had on the side) was not my favorite doesn’t surprise me.  If you like coffee, however, I think it will knock your socks off.  My husband ordered the same burger without the bbq sauce and requested mayonnaise and mustard instead.  He was a bit surprised when they said they did not have basic mayonnaise.  He got the gourmet garlic aioli instead.  My husband thought the burger was too salty (perhaps it was the aioli or maybe it was the French Fries–see below–but I did not think my burger was salty.)

My husband had French fries with his meal.  They were good but overly salted.  (Accidental or intentional, over- salting is one way to sell more beer!!!)  Since we were driving, we did not have beer (I did want one though!)

I ordered a cup of chili as my side dish and was not impressed.  To me, it tasted like finely ground taco meat topped with cheese.  When I order chili, I expect a hearty red chili with meat with a nice spicy chili flavor.  So if you are looking for the type of chili I like, don’t order the chili.

Overall, I thought Samuel Horne’s Tavern was good and I expect it to do well once the locals learn where it is.  It is small so if you are coming during peak hours, I would plan to get there early.

*****

POSTED ON YELP

5/16/2010: 1 STAR

Red Apple Cafe, 2740 Highway 50, Placerville, CA  95667

OWNERSHIP CHANGE!!!!  Formerly the Apple Cafe, this restaurant is now the RED APPLE CAFE and does NOT live up the previous restaurant’s reputation.  The portions are small for the price you pay.  Now, if the food was good, I could live with that.  However, that is not the case here.  The food is average at best.

The Red Apple Cafe boasts that they make their own buttermilk biscuits.  What I got was something that resembled a small hamburger bun which had been microwaved.  Even if the biscuit was good (which it was not), microwaving them ruins the texture of the biscuit.  Now if you think a warm rubbery buttermilk biscuit is good, well then by all means, go to the Red Apple Cafe.  Now I asked for some strawberry or grape jelly for my rubbery biscuit. The waitress pointed to two jars of brown muck.  I told her I didn’t like apple butter.  She said one of them was a multi-fruit compote.  I tried it but it was nasty.  She brought me some of those small jam squares that you pull the foil off the top and said she only had sugar-free grape left.  OK… If you are going to have biscuits or toast on the menu, don’t you think you should have a selection of jams and jellies?  At the end of the meal, she told me she didn’t like the fruit compote which was on the table either.  So, I must ask…., why did she recommend it?

I ordered the City Scramble.  It is supposed to be a scrambled egg mixture with mushrooms, spinach, cheese and a chicken apple sausage served on top of country potatoes.  For a scramble boasting all the flavors mentioned, it was pretty bland.  The potatoes were served on the side.  Although that really doesn’t make any difference to me, it isn’t how it was described.

This is the second time I came to the Red Apple Cafe under its new ownership.  The first time it was pretty bad also but I discounted the poor food to being under new ownership and figured they still needed to work out the bugs.  Months later, nothing has changed.  I figure it will just be a matter of time before this goes up for sale again.

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