Thursday, January 1, 2015

Paisano's Revisited

Paisano's Ristorante is one of my favorites in Topeka. I go there frequently and am rarely disappointed. That being said, my previous visit left me slightly so.

The service was a little slow, but I realize it's a sit-down, nice restaurant where people go to take their time and relax. But, this server was just slow, even when we were obviously ready to go. Normally I am not bothered by slow service but this just seemed ridiculous.

Roman Twins
The first thing I noticed when the food was brought out was that the servers weren't grating cheese on our food as they usually did. Instead, they were bringing out bowls of pre-shredded cheese to use for the entire meal. I asked our waitress when they started doing this and she said it's been a few months. I guess it has been a few months since my last visit... Ok. I wasn't impressed with the change. Although the server assured me it was the same cheese, only now it was grated in the kitchen in bulk, I was skeptical.  It didn't seem to melt like the other freshly grated cheese, and maybe it was because it wasn't as fine of a grate as it had been before. Either way, I didn't like it. (Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture.)

The food was good, as usual. I've never had bad food at Paisano's. This time I ordered the Roman Twins, my favorite dish. A combination of sausage canneloni and cheese manicotti in a cheesy tomato sauce, it's my comfort food. Creamy, string-cheesy and seasoned just right, I love dipping my breadsticks in the sauce. The mozzarella cheese inside the manicotti is stringy and elastic, like good pizza cheese. Love it.

I decided to take some tiramisu home with me. The marscarpone cream was light and creamy with coffee soaked ladyfingers underneath. Everything was as it should be and the coffee flavor was there but not overpowering.

Even though the cheese isn't grated fresh any more, I will be returning. It's disappointing when restaurants for convenience over quality, but as long as it stops with the cheese.

Here's a link to my previous review:

Five Guys Burgers and Fries Comes to Topeka

Another restaurant opens on Wanamaker. This time it's a burger joint, popular all around the country that's made its way to Topeka, finally. I remember hearing about a Five Guys Burger and Fries in Lawrence for the past couple years, and I've always heard good things. Now that it's in Topeka, I went and checked it out. It seems, so did a lot of other people that day.

Bags of potatoes stacked around the restaurant.
When I got there, it was packed. All the tables were full and the line was all the way to the door. That being said, it really didn't take that long to order and maybe 10 minutes after that to get the food. Also, it's the first week that it's open and it's sure to slow down in the future -- at least a little.

While waiting in line, though, you can eat shell-in peanuts that are free for all. That way your wait isn't too unbearable if you're impatient like me.

The menu, at first glance, doesn't have much to it. Burgers, bacon cheeseburgers, fries, shakes and hot dogs. Simple. There's nothing special about the menu, either. What I mean, is usually when you go to a burger joint, there are burgers with special toppings and sauces, or a burger named after the place. Not at Five Guys. The menu was simple and straightforward.

There were more in the bag, too
Each burger comes with free toppings: lettuce, tomato, pickle, grilled onion, raw onion, grilled mushrooms, etc. The French fries are freshly cut on site, not those frozen, processed fries at typical fast food places -- there are even bags of fresh potatoes laying around like decorations.

When looking at the prices, keep in mind that the burgers are double cheeseburgers, which I didn't realize until I opened mine up. Also, the large French fry is definitely a large portion. I would recommend sharing with at least three people, or two extremely hungry ones. It comes in a large cup with even more on the bottom of the bag.

The fries were my favorite part. They reminded me of a place I worked when I lived in Arizona called Z's Chicago Dogs. There, we would cut our own fries from Russet potatoes, then fry them at a low temperature, like 275 F. Then, we'd cool them down, maybe even refrigerate them overnight. The next day, we'd fry them at a higher heat, like 350 F or 375 F. This ensures the fry is cooked thoroughly and that it's crispy and golden like fries should be. I'm not sure if that's exactly what they do at Five Guys, but they were close enough. I enjoyed the freshness, and they were still crispy, not limp. Yum.

The burger was juicy and tasty. Two patties topped with American cheese, a sesame seed bun and your choice of toppings. The burgers are put together nicely and seem to hold up well while eating. Sometimes when you get a burger it's smashed and messy, but this one seemed to stay together well and wasn't too messy. I guess that could depend what toppings you get on your burger. I ordered mine with tomato, pickle, ketchup, mayo and lettuce. There seemed to be too much cheese for me, (but I'm sure not everyone would agree) and I scraped some off of mine, but that's just personal preference.

I enjoyed Five Guys and will most likely return in the future, but I don't think I will drive across town just to eat it. Hopefully, next time it won't be so busy and my visit can be a little shorter, but, it is new to town. So if you're in a hurry, I'd wait until you have more time or it's newness has worn off a bit.