Sunday, December 30, 2012

Red Red Robin

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I finally ate at Red Robin. I think there’s been one in Topeka for at least six years but I never had a reason to try it out. My sister gave my husband and I a gift card for Christmas so we couldn’t let that go to waste.
            Upon entering, the restaurant looked like a sit-down restaurant and was decorated in an American-like theme – sort of like a fancy drive-thru. I didn’t notice any particular theme in the décor, some were photos of classic American movies and next to where we sat was a life-size carousel horse, which I thought was creepy. The servers were friendly and I enjoyed their prompt service.
            We started off with an appetizer, of course, the Game Day Nachos. I thought the Towering Onion Rings looked pretty cool because they stack them up to look like a tower, clever, but I didn’t want a fried appetizer on top of a greasy burger and fries – good ole’ Weight Watchers. Anyway, that came pretty fast and with a whole heaping gob of guacamole on the top, which was much appreciated. The nachos come with hamburger queso, black beans, pico da gallo, cilantro, sour cream and fresh jalepenos all on tri-colored tortilla chips. This was pretty tasty and the guacamole was zesty and the perfect touch.
            The burgers came next. I decided to order something other than the plain cheeseburger this time and went for one with more avocado because I love it so much. So I of course ordered the Guacamole Bacon Burger with fries and my husband ordered the Burnin’ Love Burger, both cooked medium. The menu actually has a lot more to offer than just burger, as I originally thought the case. They have an entrée section, which I only glanced at, it includes seafood options like fish and chips and a chicken pasta. There is a section of chicken sandwiches, salads and wraps. You can check out their menu on their website, There you can see a huge photo of the burger or entrée and get a full description.
            The burger I got was cooked medium like I asked for and had more of the guac on it that I enjoyed in my appetizer, so that was cool. I took off some of the bacon because I am trying to eat healthier than I used to, but I left about half of it on there. It also had melted Swiss cheese, onions, lettuce, tomatoes and mayonnaise. It was a little messy but I didn’t mind because it was so good. The only thing that would have been better is if I wasn’t on a diet and could have gotten refills on my steak fries. That’s another cool thing – if you order a burger you get bottomless steak fries with your meal. It wasn’t a big deal for me because I don’t really like steak fries, and these ones were ok because they weren’t huge like some. These were pretty small so the inside wasn’t so fluffy, I don’t really like that, I prefer crispy French fries.
            At that point I was incredibly full and ready for the check but they do have a good selection of shakes, smoothies and desserts. The one dessert that stood out to me was the Mile-High Mud Pie which looks like it could be shared with two to three people and gets its name from the fact that it’s so tall. You can go look at their menu and they have photos uploaded from guests who’ve taken photos with their smart phones.  
            Overall I was happy with my experience at Red Robin, but I think I would rather go to Burger Stand if I had to choose between the two. There wasn’t anything memorable or that stood out about Red Robin, at least not to me. It seemed like just another chain restaurant and will probably not be going back soon.  

Friday, November 23, 2012

photos from restaurants I have eaten at recently

College Hill Pizza Pub

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 So I have been hearing a lot about the new pizza place that opened up on College Hill a couple weeks ago. I finally decided to check it out today and was impressed with my food.

Walking in the pub definitely has a bar feel to it, with mini flat screens at every booth and larger ones stationed around the room. You can asked for the channel to be changed but most of the TVs are tuned into sports so if you want to watch a certain game, no matter, you will see it.

You go to the bar and tell the cook what sauce, toppings and cheese you want on your 10" personal pizza. That is the only size they offer at this point, and is enough to feed one person, maybe two depending on how hungry you are. The price starts at $5 for one topping and costs an additional $.50 per extra veggie and $.75 per extra meat or cheese.

For my first pizza I decided to go basic, despite the various ingredients they offer. What amazed me was the options available -- they weren't your run-of-the-mill basic pizza toppings. They had those too, but in addition I noticed lamb, chorizo, beef franks and meatballs. Their sauces were notable as well including refried beans, chipotle pesto and nacho cheese. I wanted to get a pizza I already knew I liked, so I chose the chunky marinara sauce, pepperoni, ground beef, cherry tomatoes and the three cheese blend.

I only waited 10-15 minutes for my pizza. It comes served in its own pizza box with styrofoam plates and parmesan cheese and dried red pepper on the tables. I used a little of the parmesan to soak up the small amount of grease on the top of the pizza, but there really wasn't much.

Everything about the pizza was good, the sauce, the meat and the cheese, there was just enough of it. The crust was fluffy yet crunchy and chewy at the same time. The portion of meat was generous, and the pepperoni was so good, it seemed fresh, like the kind you get in the deli.

Located at 1418 SW Lane, it's within walking distance of Washburn's campus and close to many other awesome businesses located at College Hill. The only downfall I could notice was they didn't offer a student discount, and if they did, it wasn't posted anywhere. I plan to go back sometime soon to try some of their different ingredients and sauces, and I recommend checking it out for yourself.

Friday, September 21, 2012

AJ's NY Pizzeria

View Larger Map Google Maps is not yet recognizing the business at this address, but here it is!!

If you are looking for a taste of New York a good place to start would be AJ’s NY Pizzeria. It’s closer than flying to New York tonight, and cheaper.
The first clue to its New York roots is the yellow cab out front. Inside, the theme continues and it’s like you are on the streets of the Big Apple because all their signs look like street signs from New York City. One wall has the front of a vintage car mounted on it, TVs are on all the walls, and the open kitchen with a bar in front are only a few of the cool things about AJ’s. I haven’t even begun to talk about the food.
The menu features pizza, pasta, wings and more. It was hard to decide what I wanted but since my husband was with me I was able to try two things at once. He ordered a pizza, basically like a supreme only called The Big Apple, with sausage, pepperoni, ground beef, meat balls, Canadian bacon, ham, mushroom, onions, black olives, green peppers, mozzarella and parmesan. The choice was hard but I ordered the baked ziti pie and added fresh basil, tomatoes, sausage, beef, mushrooms, onions and spinach.
They bring the pizza and set it on a little wire stand, which I have seen before, just nowhere in Topeka. It’s nice to have a nice pizza place to go to now. The pizza was delicious. The crust was thin but it still held up to the various toppings and was still crispy. The pizzas are served with a choice of dipping sauce, and I chose marinara and my husband chose garlic butter – they were both good. There isn’t a lot of sauce on the pizza itself so the marinara was a good choice for me. I enjoyed this because I could control how much sauce I did want. Sometime I have to scrape it off at other pizza places, because there is too much.
The ziti was pretty impressive as well. Even the hubby liked it and he isn’t a big fan of pasta dishes. The pasta was done to the point where it still had texture and wasn’t mushy, like some of the baked pasta dishes I have ordered before. The mozzarella cheese must have been fresh because it was stringy and elastic and reminded me of the cheese on pizzas I have ordered in Chicago. The cheese was the best part, and why I will be going back again in the future. This dish also can be made in your choice of sauces, Alfredo, marinara or pesto and I chose marinara.
I was so stuffed when I was done and I still had left overs.
This place seems like a good place to bring the family for dinner then come back at night with your friends for a few drinks. The food is good and I am excited to try more menu items there. Check it out and let me know what you think by commenting below. Happy tasting!


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Usually when my husband and I go out for sushi in Topeka we go to Kiku, but yesterday we didn't feel like driving all the way across town. Daimaru is in our neighborhood so we decided to try their sushi. I was pleasantly surprised.
Pulling up, I was skeptical because there seemed to be nobody there. Going inside I felt the same way, but I had to keep reminding myself that just because it wasn't busy like Mr. Stirfry because it's not a chain. Plus it was 4 p.m. on a Thursday. We were the only two customers, which I decided was fine by me. It was nice not having to listen to people around us and to have a private meal.
The room is set up with hibachi grills, booths and tables. The bar is for sushi rolling as well as drink pouring, and is also where their specials are featured. The specials are what I was after - that's how I like to try new sushi, for cheap.
We didn't want hibachi, just sushi, so we sat at a table by the bar. I ordered the rainbow roll, (my favorite), which is a California roll with sashimi and avocado on top. My husband ordered the hot roll, which is a spicy tuna roll that was dipped in tempura batter, fried and topped with their hot sauce. Then together we ordered a third roll, the troublemaker roll. I ordered this because I feel like we are both troublemakers and the waitress said it was a good choice.
            We were served the soup, typical of most sushi places, cloudy broth with shiitake mushrooms and green onions. This one had bok choy and soft tofu, which I really enjoyed. I don't usually go for the soft tofu, but in the soup it was perfect. No salad was served, but I looked at the menu and there are meals one can purchase that will come with soup and salad. We just ordered a la carte so I was surprised we even had soup so I was happy with that.
            The sushi came shortly after.
            My favorite roll of all time is the rainbow roll, and most people stick their nose up at it because of the sashimi. Most people think sushi is all raw fish but they are wrong. Many types of sushi come with cooked fish or no fish, only vegetables. The Nori may have a fishy taste to it but that is only because it is made out of seaweed, so most people think they are tasting fish, but it’s really the green wrap. Sashimi, on the other hand, is raw fish. The rainbow roll usually has five to seven types of sashimi on top, and that is my favorite part. Yellowtail, tuna, scallop, salmon, snapper, and even shrimp – although it’s cooked – can all be on top. I am not sure of the exact fish that Daimaru serves on theirs, but it was tasty. Inside the roll is just like a California, avocado, crab and cucumber, rice on the outside, Nori on the inside.
            The hot roll was pretty tasty as well. The sauce they drizzled on the top was to die for, spicy and sweet at the same time and a perfect compliment to the spicy tuna on the inside of the roll. It was warm because it was deep fried, but not hot. The crunchy paired well with the softness of the spicy tuna and the texture was perfectly balanced. Sometimes spicy tuna can be too spicy but this was not, and I ate more than my usual one piece. Sometimes the chef will put cucumber in the middle with the spicy tuna, but this one only had spicy tuna. With it being fried I think this was the best choice
            The third roll, the troublemaker roll was pretty damn good. It was the special on their board and I was glad I tried it. It included spicy tuna, tempura battered shrimp and more of that awesome spicy/sweet sauce. I was in heaven.
            I will definitely b returning to Daimaru to try more of their food. I only wanted sushi yesterday but I am intrigued and ready to try the hibachi, and when I do I will let you all know how it goes.
            Please leave comments to let me know what you think of my reviews, and take my poll too! If you have a suggestion of a restaurant I should try, let me know, I am always up for suggestions. Happy tasting!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fryer Shack!!!

View Larger Map I recently came across this awesome place near my house called the Fryer Shack.

            The name says exactly what the place is, a shack. The walls are made of metal, there is a single-unit air conditioner and there is extremely limited seating. With a bar area for four or five people to sit, two booths and two small tables, it’s pretty crowded and definitely feels like one is standing in an actual shack. Fortunately the day I chose to go was cool outside so it was bearable to sit out in their patio area.
            Each day, the Fryer Shack posts on their Facebook page their available specials. Then what you need to do is tell the cashier which five-dollar deal you want. They don’t even charge extra for sales tax so it comes out to five dollars even. This time, I chose the pulled chicken sandwich and curly fries, which also came with a fountain drink. I just don’t think you can beat that.
            When I received my meal it came in a little red basket, overfilled with curly fries. They also offer a variety of other sides, including sweet potato fries, onion rings and fried dill pickle bites. The sandwich was a decent size and comes with pickles and barbeque sauce, which I thought was sweet with a touch of spiciness. The curly fries looked strange to me, but tasted pretty amazing. They are crispy and curly but aren’t like your typical curly fries that have some sort of seasoning on them. These were normal French fries but curly. I liked them better than McDonald’s fries.
            I was impressed when I left the first time and decided I needed to return to try other menu items. During my second go-round I ordered the number two, which is a single cheeseburger with all the fixings. I already knew I loved the curly fries so I wanted to give something else a chance. I chose the fried dill pickles and wasn’t disappointed. Most fried pickles are greasy and sometimes the batter is all wrong and falls right off the pickles. These, on the other hand, weren’t greasy at all and the batter held up well to the pickles. The portion was large and I could not eat all of them.
            One thing that caught my eye on their menu is their hot dogs. They use all beef hot dogs and deep fry them, then top them with interesting ingredients. Usually you can get the hot dog meal for less than five dollars, and it is served with a side and a drink. I will definitely be returning to try one of the hot dogs, or the deep-fried burger.
         Go check it out and let me know what you think. The Fryer Shack is located at 1221 SW Huntoon Street.

Monday, July 2, 2012

China Pavilion

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The other day for lunch, my husband and I decided to go to China Pavilion, my favorite Chinese buffet in Topeka. I have been going there since I was around 12 years old, when my grandma Pat would take me and sit in the smoking section. We would always order hot tea, and although it’s been almost 2 years since she passed away, I still do.
The selection of entrees is satisfactory, and usually include vegetable lo mein, general’s chicken, beef and broccoli, general tso’s chicken, sweet and sour chicken, black pepper chicken and mooshu pork, among many others. Fried egg rolls and crab rangoons are two of my favorites, as well as the egg drop soup. The only thing on the buffet I don’t enjoy are the sugary doughnuts, they are not very fresh. If you can get them when they are fresh they are great, but usually they aren’t.
They have a cold buffet too, with a small selection of fruit, pudding and jello. I enjoy the bananas in strawberry sauce, and occasionally the cantaloupe is sweet and I will get some of that, but of course it’s hit or miss with that. The ice cream is a little icy, but I think I may be used to it, because it doesn’t bother me. They always have chocolate and vanilla cookies next to the ice cream, but I only like the vanilla ones, the chocolate ones are off I think.
I love the atmosphere there, the walls have Chinese paintings and red archways. They also sell merchandise which they ship directly from China which make one feel as if they are in a real Chinese restaurant.
China Pavilion is full of sentimental value for me but, I also love the food and the people working there are always nice and helpful, which is a plus. The price is low and keeps me coming back after all these years – I think it cost us $14.