Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Below you will find an exhaustive list of rules for office-related coffee etiquette.

  1. If the coffee pot has this much coffee or less…

make another damned pot.

That’s it. Feel free to print this out and post it in your office kitchen.


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It started innocently enough on the way to dropping off Lucas to his first (half) day of kindergarten.

“I want to go fishing.”


“Because I want to try raw fish.”


“It’s called sushi.”

I like to expose the kids to things outside of their ever-shrinking-as-they-age comfort zones, and sushi had been on my list. Probably wouldn’t have started with Junior #2 on this one (#3 is actually the braver soul – you should see him tear up some Pad Thai swimming in Sriracha), but he brought it up and I decided to commit a crime of opportunity.

I picked him up from his half day, and we headed straight to Crazy Sushi and ordered, well, pretty much everything. I’m not that familiar with sushi (I started with it a few years ago but don’t eat it very often), but I knew that we wanted some raw stuff AND some backups for when he wouldn’t eat it. So I got a St. Louis roll (tuna, avocado, takuan, green onion), some mixed raw stuff (and some of the cold shrimps), and some tempura. Yes, I spent way too much money, but I wanted to make sure he left having eaten something that he really liked. And since I refuse to ever order anything that I won’t eat, I knew nothing would go to waste.

To my boy’s credit, he tried everything. His favorite things were the miso soup, the tempura shrimp, and the hamachi (yellow tail) and the only thing he didn’t like was the roll and the ginger salad dressing. Everything else fell somewhere in between those categories. Which I’m actually pretty thrilled with.

The St. Louis roll did not go over well.


He actually asked if he could take the bowl home.

Because only barbarians eat the rice at the same time as the sushi.

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I think you all remember my old post on how family-oriented restaurants should handle families based on a non-stellar visit to a Red Robin. I’m happy to report that we’ve had a couple of visits there since then, and they’ve all been fantastic. Yesterday was especially awesome. Our server, we’ll call him “James F.”, because that’s what was on his nametag, was super attentive but not overly in-our-faces, kept our waters full, showed us some menu shortcuts, dropped napkins by the gross on our table, and had us checked out an on our way in record time. Just an awesome, awesome experience.

The manager, (Mike, I think), was also great, swinging by the table to check on us, then going out of his way to hook the wee ones with balloons on our way out the door.

Our kids were actually not great (even by their standards), but because the service was so impeccable my wife and I had an enjoyable and largely stress-free lunch. Thanks, Red Robin!

Really wanted to find a Robin giving the Buddy Jesus, but alas.

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Dear Qdoba,

I’ve been a big fan of yours ever since I was first handed a burrito the size of my face and told that it constituted a “serving.” Sure, there are those on Team Chipotle, but I’m fairly certain all of those people liked the Twilight movies (personally I gave up when I realized this was a satire and not a trailer) so I don’t care. I’ve been down with you since day one.

That’s what made it so exciting when I got this in my email.

Free guac is just another word for nothing left to lose.

After talking my work lunch crew into walking over we waited in line for a solid five minutes while the person who appeared to be in charge aggravated her entire team whilst in the midst of preparing some enormous faxed-in order. Eventually (and professionally) I was built a pork-filled, aluminum-wrapped happiness torpedo and at the end of the line I produced my coupon, my Club Card, and my cash.

Things quickly went south when I was told that the coupon wouldn’t ring up. The person who appeared to be in charge descended on the helplessly polite cashier, looked at it for a minute, told her there wasn’t anything she could do about it, gave the cashier a dirty look, looked up at me and said “Yeah, this promotion is all screwed up. You’ll have to call the helpline.” and then immediately went back to being an a-hole to her subordinates.

 The cashier to her credit (who was VERY obviously not allowed to, you know, not charge me for the buttery green ambrosia that I was supposed to be getting for free, was super nice about charging me for it but went out of her way to print an extra receipt and get my phone number so SHE could call the helpline on my behalf. She (and everyone but the person who appeared to be in charge) were super nice and professional during my whole visit.
I guess what I really want to get at, though, is what the f’ was that? I’m sure you guys lose the avocado-equivalent of the Greek national debt every day in people stealing flatware and picante sauce from over near the soda fountain, but would it seriously cause investors to start shuttering locations if you had some sort of policy where you accept the coupons you send to people? Could we just make that money up by only offering lemons or limes when I grab my napkins?
I’m definitely still not into Chipotle (they’re a little too pretentious about only using organic tin foil to wrap up their burritos), but this did shake my commitment to Team Qdoba. Can you work on this? I don’t want to have to use the nuclear option and start going to Moe’s.
Fajita vegetably yours,
Jamie Oswald

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No doubt based on our rules of making my kids happy at restaurants, a Pittsburgh restaurant has decided to ban kids. We salute them. I’d actually prefer no kids be allowed in Pittsburgh so we’d only have to hear about Steeler’s Nation until the current crop passes on.

Seriously, though, we here at the SFA have no problems with this, just like we approve of places that require shirts and shoes and ban smoking. It’s your business, run it how you want to, don’t expect a ton of money from me personally, but don’t be surprised if I show up one night when I have a babysitter. Provided of course that you don’t operate in Pittsburgh. Which sucks.

Thanks toSFA-fan  Dallas Marks for the hat tip.

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This is going to be a short catch-up post.

Did you know that birds are the rabbits of the skies (and the lions of the skies, and the foxy ladies of the skies – truth be told, not much else owning the skies, so the birds have to shoulder a lot of responsibilities)? And by this I mean they produce multiple sets offspring every year?

A while ago I documented how some had taken control of my old grill, which led to my new grill (which brings me a tremendous amount of happiness), but left me with an oversized bird’s nest on my patio? It had been a while, so I assumed those young ones were no longer so young and had moved on. I was wrong. Last night while firing up my new grill, I opened the old one to see if the Birdie McFlyer family had moved on, but there was a new set of gaping maws looking at me. Apparently my sister will have to wait a little longer for her hand-me-down, and I’ll have to wait a little longer to have my patio back.

Vermin from above.

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As you may recall, a few weeks ago I lost the use of a dear friend in a fit of compassion (What’s that you say? You don’t recall? Well look right here.). At the time I was disappointed that after a few thousand years of being removed from the meat production process I no longer had the necessary chops to provide for my brood, but was really mostly depressed because it meant I was going to have to go a summer without grilling or at least grilling easily.

 As part of my conceding some adorable baby birds deserved a shot at growing up to poop on things, my wife assured me a new grill would be in my future. With that, I started fantasy shopping about several new models, and I had some very basic criteria.

  1. I wanted it to look pretty. I’m trying to get my patio together, and while my old grill was functional, it wasn’t very attractive to anything but a family of birds.
  2. I had to have a solution that would heat up quickly so I could grill during the weak with our schedule, I’ve only got about an hour and 15 minutes to cook, feed, and clean the kids before bedtime. This pretty much ruled out a charcoal grill.
  3. I needed something bigger. On my current grill, I just didn’t have enough room to cook enough food to feed my whole family at once.
  4. It needed to be movable. I want to store it next to the house, but I need to be able to pull it away before lighting it. The new patch of siding on the back of the house gives testament to the lesson I learned last Father’s Day.

This weekend, the piper finally got paid and I got a shiny new grill for Father’s Day.

We like the shiny. We'd also like our patio to look like this (it does not currently).


 I looked into some gas/charcoal combos but couldn’t find any that were reviewed very well and ultimately decided that if I needed to do charcoal I could use my firepit but that this bad boy (with nearly twice the grilling surface of my old one) would work out fantastically. I also liked that this one included a vegetable steamer you could put in or take out (I recognize it’s a gimmick, but if I recognize that I don’t have to feel like a rube) and as we all know I like to get my health on (or at least like to feel I have the option to get my health on, knowing full-well that before too long I’ll be trying to steam bacon in there).

This grill did admittedly have mixed reviews (which would normally put me off) but most of the reviews were about how hard it was to put together. Since I was going to buy it already assembled, I didn’t care, and I felt OK with the rest of the write-ups I saw.

After having cooked one meal on it (which included fresh veggies, hot dogs, brats, and a couple of Daddy Day porterhouses) I’m pretty stinking happy so far. It got up to temperature in no time, it responded to my temperature changes, it had all sorts of room for me to use, and the food turned out great, which is no small feat for me. Also, since it was hugely discounted, I got to get an insanely expensive grill for a moderately ridiculous price, which is always nice (I like to know how rich people feel sometimes. Sue me. That’ll just give me something else to check off of my faux-rich guy bucket list).

Final grades: The grill gets a Cuban with Smoked Provolone, those birds get a Cuban with Swiss, and the store experience gets a Reuben (the guy was a little weird, and they didn’t have the cover I wanted).

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