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Maude's Classic Cafe

Classic Café with Eccentricity, & Quality

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor

maudestorefrontIt has been a while since I have been to Maude's Cafe next to the Hippodrome Theatre.   They present a brief lunch menu as well as a very nice breakfast menu.  Because they have breakfast food that they serve all day, one of which is quiche, which recently made an excellent lunch for me. I had the southwest quiche, which even included black beans. It was one of the best quiches I've ever had. It was deep dish and had lots of veggies, and the crust did not get soggy. In fact, the crust was fantastic – I could taste real butter in it. Yum!!! It made a very satisfying, filling, and flavorful lunch.  A complete Mause's menu is available on the Maude's web link below this feature.

The GLOB Master was with me, and he had a BLT on an English muffin. We shared as usual, and I thought it was pretty darn good, but I think it was too small of a sandwich for him. There is also a "facon" option. Facon is artifical bacon substitute. There are also wraps, cheese sandwiches, scramble sandwiches, and "other" items usually served at breakfast but which can serve equally well for lunch.

Based on MY experiences with Maude's food, I have to say that whoever cooks things up there, knows what they are doing. I hope that they bring the salads back – and maybe soups too. It is amazing what they can do in a very small space – it's fascinating to watch them get orders ready, especially their specialty, which is coffee. They have to be doing something right because even though Starbucks stepped on their blue suede shoes by moving in across the street from them awhile back, this small, local "classic café" has hung in there.

 

maudeMENUWhat has Maude's got going for itself that has kept it in the competition against one of the biggest food chains in the country? Well, the food is great and has a home made quality that Starbuck's lacks. I actually ordered a sausage biscuit at a Starbucks one time and it was OK but it was obviously mass produced.

MaudeKEITHI have commented elsewhere that when I go out to eat, I take in the complete experience – the food PLUS the ambience and the style of the décor and everything that encompasses. So in addition to the quality of the food, Maude's has character. It is eccentric. It is interesting. There are pictures of celebrities scattered around the restaurant, especially Keith Richards, who has become their "masthead" so to speak. One wall is lined with old album covers from all eras. My favorite cover is "Music for Mixed Emotions" (in high fidelity!). In their 'dining' area, there is even a stuffed chair with an end table and a lamp to make you feel right at home. There are also all sorts of games (but I didn't see any Bananagrams, yet!).

 

maudeALBUMSThen there is the dessert menu, which has items like Johnny Cash (chocolate expresso cake), Dolly Parton (toffee tiramisu), and the Cake Formerly Known as Prince (Special of the Day). Those are the kinds of high notes that tickle my fancy.

The Pluses and Minuses of Maude's Classic Cafe:

The + indicators: Good food, ambience, games, outdoor seating, great downtown location next to the Hippodrome.

The - indicators: No complaints

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Maude's Classic Cafe.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS

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Peach Valley Cafe

Big box cafe scores points for patty melt

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

peachvalleystorefrontI have to admit, I possessed a certain amount of reluctance about having lunch at Peach Valley Cafe off of SW 34th St. Think about it. Peach Valley is positioned in the middle of Gainesville's franchise food world. The big box franchise model is all over Peach Valley Cafe. There is always wall-to-wall customers in this breakfast, lunch, and dinner cafe morning, noon and night.

All hesitation on my part was lifted when I spied the Peach Valley patty melt on their lunchtime menu.

Patty Melts come and go in menu cycles I've noticed. I can't decide if this yummy sandwich is a grilled cheese with a hamburger patty or a hamburger and onions smothered in cheese. Either way, the combination is heart-stopping wonderful!   A complete Peach Valley menu can be found at the restaurant web link below this feature.

 

PVpattyTOPPER

Peach Valley Cafe makes a very good Patty Melt. Just the right amount of grilled onions, a juicy hamburger patty that is coated, smothered, and drenched in melted cheese, all encased in perfectly toasted bread.

What's not to like? I could eat one of these toasted prizes every day. In fact maybe I should do a week of Patty Melt features. No, how 'bout a month of toasted protein belly bomb beauties?

Peach Valley has their lunch process figured out. They move you to the table, take your order, and have that food in front of you in record time. It's working because there were a lot of heads sticking out over the top of the little lunch cubbies everyone sits in. Well, almost everyone. There was one open table where eight to ten ladies sat across from my cubby and they were having a wonderful time.

PVdiingcubesYou know what? The GLOB Master's not dissing this lunch stop. I was served in a very professional way by Madie who made sure I was going to be a happy customer. I ate my lunch including very tasty French fries and delightful cole slaw – with a hint of pineapple flavoring -- in a systematic way to clean my plate clean except for the last half of my patty melt. While I was gazing at my plate, Madie interrupted me and wanted to know if I wanted a to-go box for remainder of my lunchtime sandwich.

"No," was my reply, "I'm eating it right now."

The Pluses and Minuses of the Peach Valley Cafe:

PVC (+) indicators: Melted cheese, grilled onions, all beef patty, toasted rye bread

PVC (-) indicators: You will find Peach Valley Cafe in the Archer Rd. Restaurant Triangle.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Peach Valley.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS

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Flying Biscuit Cafe

You say potato, I say Hollandaise goodness

By Mike Sanford, GLOB EDITOR

FBstoreFrontThe GLOB Master has found his new favorite mealtime entrée.

Enter the Flying Biscuit breakfast all day Florentine Benedict.

Sure it is a breakfast entrée, but why not lunch?

I hate to use the Seinfeld comedy show argument here but, "Is a hot dog a sandwich?"

Then again you say 'puh-TAT-toe', and I say 'puh-RAH-toe' which I also a good defense for breakfast twice in one day.

FBmenuBRDI got lucky babe. The FB Florentine Benedict has been on the menu board for several days and I have already had it for lunch, and breakfast.

As a responsible eating professional I had the Florentine Benedict a third time without the Canadian bacon.

What an amazing amalgamation of ingredients collected for a perfect meatless, low carb lunch GLOBer:

 

- Canadian bacon A+

- Sauteed spinach A+

- Sundried tomatoes A+

- Hollandaise sauce A+

 

All served on a carb Friendly English muffin along with FB Dreamy Grits and a biscuit for a scant $10.

The friendly FB staffers are fine with substitutions so I omitted the Dreamy Grits a serving of Oven Roasted Moon Dusted potatoes. I take my potatoes plain and these spuds were crisp, crunchy on the outside, with a wonderful creamy texture inside.

 

FBpotato

Thank you Diabetes Gods for not punishing me for breaking my 'No White Foods Rule'. I understand nothing says Blood Sugar Spikes like carb loading a serving of tasty potatoes. Come On GLOBers. It's not like I eat potatoes every day. Maybe that's why these spuds were REALLY, perfectly, wonderfully delicious.

 

FBbenedict600

My Benedict was a Chef's masterpiece with an incredible goo-factor of Hollandaise running down all side of my breakfast/lunch entrée and onto my plate.  The spinach and tomatoes beautifully adorned my lunch with the appearance of the two veggies trying to escape their ultimate end one savory GLOB Master bite at a time.

I'm not sure if it is a fact but I have become an English Muffin fan of late trying to allay my guilt from sneaking white bread into my diet with the smaller sized, holier than most breads.

What a delightful lunch. The sharp flavor of the Hollandaise complimented nicely the textures and flavors of the spinach and tomatoes.

 

021719SDtomatoes

Did you know sun-dried tomatoes themselves are a product of the Mediterranean region, mainly southern Italy. So that the tomatoes could be used throughout the year, people would dry them out on a rooftop and then preserve them in olive oil. The drying process, they discovered, brought out an intense, sweet and tart flavor in the tomatoes, so sun drying became a widespread technique.

 

FBlunvhCOUNTER

The extremely stacked entrée cut into individual bites of hollandaise, tomato, spinach onion, and muffin was a gastronomical smorgasbord of many different tastes and flavors.

I asked what happens when the Florentine Benedict is no longer on the Menu Board. Have no fear GLOBers. The Flying Biscuit Chef team will be happy to crate this meal time prize if all the ingredients are available.

The Pluses and Minuses of Flying Biscuit Cafe:

Flying Biscuit Cafe (+) Indicators: Breakfast all day, customer frendly staff, lunvh counter is special.

Flying Biscuit Cafe (-) Indicators: Busy, busy, always busy. A corproate feel to the restaurant is evident.

 

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021719FlyingB

'Slammed cafes' result in lunch opportunity

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

FBstoreFrontIt's been right under my nose. Off of my lunchtime radar screen because the crowds of lunch outers filling up outside tables, standing, waiting in line for lunch.

That's not the GLOB Master's idea of a good start to an excellent meal. I got off to a late start this weekend morning and I knew my usual lunch stops were going to be slammed.

I opened the door to my favorite bagel shop and immediately saw the seven backs of customers waiting in line to make their meal choice. Scanning the restaurant tables most were filled with happy, conversational customer sipping coffee, reading papers, enjoying a good lunch.

FB0518VERTI turned exiting thinking I would cross the street to my favorite Deli lunch Stop. Cutting through the parking lot I realized I would be walking back for a Publix grocery visit.

This wasn't making sense this morning. I could walk directly across NW 16th Blvd. and have a Flying Biscuit lunch and drop into the Fresh Market to pick up a few things before walking home. Not real excited about the throngs of Flying Biscuit fans in line, already ahead of me I turned North to the Flying Biscuit café.

That was when I enjoyed a remarkable, AH-HA moment GLOBers. Walking in FB's front door I spied a eight-seat lunch counter I had no idea existed.

Hurrah! What Joy! An opportunity for an extraordinary noon-day meal, and breakfast find in the same visit. Plus I could add café my restaurant rotation.

Grabbing a seat at the counter it felt good to be in the lunch time driver's seat over seeing the Flying Biscuit ministrations, serving up breakfast/lunch to the hungry masses. Come on GLOBers. Did you know they the Flying Biscuit is open at 7:00 a.m. with an amazing selection of brunch entrees including a plethora of breakfast meatless entrées served all day. Of course that is over and above the usual breakfast meat protein selections.

This popular breakfast and lunch spot has a complete FB lunch menu as well a list of salads, sandwiches and the Featured Favorites list of seven interesting sounding, hearty entrees including the Coca-Cola BBQ Glazed Salmon. This entrée is pan-sautéed salmon lightly glazed and cooked to medium, served with mashed potatoes and green beans. There is a complete Flying Biscuit menu link at the bottom of this page.

 

FB0518Nicole

Nicole Gomez the lone Flying Biscuit Server behind the counter appeared to have it all together managing the counter full of customers.

"I get it Mike," She said presenting my drink to me. "This counter service makes sense if you are in a hurry to be served," she added.

Nicole was digging her new gig having worked at the Flying Biscuit since last September. "It's fun, this is my first venture into the food service industry," Nicole said. "It's fast paced, and I have met some very interesting customers."

 

FBart

Since I was thinking meatless I quickly saw the Egg-Ceptional Eggs entrée in the menu that included two over medium eggs on black bean cakes, topped with oven-roasted tomatillo salsa, feta cheese, and sour cream, served with creamy dreamy grits. ($12.99).

"You can substitute a fried green tomato for the black bean cake if you," Nicole suggest. "And you have your choice of potatoes and a biscuit or toast GLOB Master/"

That sounds great," I say thinking of my plate covered with hash round potatoes a biscuit. "Deal with it Sanford," I think, no one is interested in my worn out diabetes stories.

 

FBtomatoes600

Service was quick and Ms. Gomez served a delicious looking plate of tomatillo salsa, feta cheese delight to this ex cited customer.

I lived dangerously and chose a black bean cake, and a slice of fried tomatoes as a base for an impressive looking meal.

The tomatillo salsa was like a Christmas gift to my lunch. I made a point of including a small glob of the salsa in almost very bite. The Sour Cream topping was a good idea to make my lunch time mixture special.

The oven baked fried tomato was flavorful. The Black Bean cake, albeit slightly on the mushy side, made its flavor palette known. It was fun choosing which bite; A taste of tomato, or a taste of black bean to accompany all of the magnificent flavors of this breakfast/lunch.

 

FBcleanplate480

Finishing the last bite of my Egg-Ceptional Eggs I noticed my plate was till half full with the potatoes and biscuit.

"My momma would slap me across the head if she saw me leave my plate half-full with such yummy looking potatoes," I said out loud to myself.

"Be a man Mike it's up to you," Nicole said. "You got to do, what you got to do."

"That was great Nicole, I'm coming back, see you soon," I said feeling quite smug about my restaurant rotation addition. What a fabulous restaurant find hiding away a nine minute walk from my front door.

The Pluses and Minuses of Flying Biscuit Cafe:

Flying Biscuit Cafe (+) Indicators: Serves Breakfast all day, multiple meatless choice, seven hearty FEATURED FAVORITE hot meal plates.

Flying Biscuit Cafe (-) Indicators: Way crowded all the time. Be prepared for a long lunch, unless you sit at the counter with customer friendly Nicole Gomez.

 

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FBtopper

FB experience falls flat on busy brunch day

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

FBstoreFrontThere have been a few disappointments that have unraveled this past year in Gatorland, specifically on the food front. Yes, the Gator football team has left much to be desired, but I digress. The true reason behind my woes involves perfectly good — great, in fact — brunch dining establishments closing their doors. I found a cozy, scenically-located brunch stop that never failed in Sisters, which even satisfied my breakfast-fare-picky friend, but alas it has closed once more (perhaps indicating it might reopen one day...). The Jones Eastside was another go-to brunch stop when any relative, friend, or Eastside newbie was hungry for some delicious, local eats, but this favored stop has closed to combine with its less-attractive, disappointing counterpart, Jones B-Side.

The closing of these two favorite local joints for the best meal of the day indicates all good things must come to an end — at least I'll keep reminding myself that this must be the reason. In any event, I have been on the hunt for a worthy counterpart to fill my brunch-time void. Leonardo's 706 Sunday brunch is absolutely fantastic, but a tad pricier then a casual Sunday may allow. I've heard endless chatter about Flying Biscuit located on 43rd and 16th in the Fresh Market plaza, and I finally had to give it a try. To many of your disbelief, it has taken four years in Gainesville for me to try this highly recommended all-day breakfast spot.

 

FBpatio

I think my first mistake was choosing to dine at the café on a, as of late, absolutely beautiful October Saturday. The café is located in a pretty bustling weekend spot as it was, but the wait to get a seat stayed consistent. Whether an early bird diner or a snooze-button, late brunch goer, at no time between 7 am and 4 pm was FB immune to a line of hungry patrons waiting before you. At 2 pm, we were looking at a 30-minute wait, and I have heard plenty of friends complain about long waits at a myriad of times. Is this place truly worth the hype?

 

FBmanBRUNCH

I feel the need to preface my experience with the fact that I was ravenous by the time we were finally seated, not having had a morsel of food prior to arrival. By the time we were seated, I was practically ready to eat the menu. However, I was adamant to not let this cloud my healthier eating judgment, and I opted for the omelet side of the extremely extensive menu. There did seem to be something for everyone I have to admit, with more omelet choices than my impatient stomach could handle. Alas, I settled on the southern omelet option (at top) with shrimp, crab, cheese, collard greens, onion, and I opted for no red/green peppers (note: this item is not on the online menu for some reason). I had to make sure it came with a biscuit, as that is probably one of my favorite parts of a southern-style meal, in addition to bacon and the "creamy dreamy" grits I've heard so much about. Thomas, my omelet-loving friend, selected the Piedmont Omelet with chicken sausage, turkey bacon, onions, cheese, and he added in red/green peppers, in addition to a side of "moon dusted" potatoes.

I was a little displeased to see the omelet a tad on the over-cooked side, but it was huge and I could not abstain from diving in. The best part was the gooey cheese oozing over the hearty helping of collards and large chunks of shrimp folded in. I opted out of the red/green peppers that typically come with the omelet, and I'm glad I did, as I feel they give a more southwestern feel as opposed to the down-home, southern approach I was searching for. The crab was not as present as the shrimp, but all of the flavors, including the onions, which happily only made a subtle appearance, satiated my hungry belly.

 

FBdrink

On to the sides: The bacon was cooked just to my liking, the right balance of crispy and chewy. The biscuit, while I can never turn one down, was not quite what I had hoped. I had to scrape off all of the sugar from the top of it, as I prefer a more savory over sweet approach although I'm sure it was placed as a backdrop for their apple butter. I felt the butter was a tad too sweet. Thomas' potatoes were certainly tasty, but I attribute that fully to the rosemary generously speckled across them, without which it would have been a very standard breakfast potato helping. In terms of the grits, Thomas and I agreed they were a little too creamy, creating a bowl of mush rather than the fluffier, yet still creamy grits I prefer. I have tried grits at over 10 establishments in Gainesville, and these were still in the top five at least for flavor. Also, I opted for an iced soy chai, which was quite delicious although I don't want to know how much sugar it took to create the rounded flavor.

Overall, this was a pretty standard brunch experience. I know I only had an omelet, and perhaps I should have chosen an eggs benedict dish that might have demonstrated an FB-unique flavor, so to speak. I was not displeased with my experience, but nothing stood out in my head to make me think this is the new "it" spot. The service was good, and the number of tables was many and they were crammed in to make as much room as possible, but Thomas and I agreed this was just another brunch on a beautiful day. I'm sure the lines will still be long, so my advice is to call ahead if you want to check it out!

The Pluses and Minuses of Flying Biscuit Cafe:

Flying Biscuit Cafe (+) Indicators: Something for everyone, breakfast all day, lunch options also, open 7 days a week, central location, standard prices

Flying Biscuit Cafe (-) Indicators: Not local, very run-of-the-mill, long waits.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Flying Biscuit Cafe.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

 zzsmallknifefork0311

Ordering hint: The F B is a breakfast house

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

A friend of mine once said buying lunch at a breakfast house was like drinking beer at a winery.

So I was torn with the lunch decision facing me at the Flying Biscuit Cafe on NW 16th Blvd, but I've eaten breakfast many times at lunch. Fried eggs, omelets, quiche can make for a different kind of lunch adventure.

flyingbiscuitmenuboardThere has been a lot of buzz about this new breakfast house the last few months. It could be the real estate adage of location, location, location, since the Flying Biscuit is conveniently nestled in a sea of NW neighborhoods. maybe it's the popularity of breakfast places, it works for I-HOP. Shoot, it could the Flying Biscuit Cafe is serving up some delicious food.

Long-time friend Jane Medley and I made it to the Flying Biscuit just before noon. Fortunately for us a table opened up as we walked into the cafe. The breakfast cafe was filled inside and outside with hungry customers. I'm glad we didn't have to sit at one of the many outside tables because it was getting kinda warm for lunch on their sidewalk patio.

Once inside with menu in hand it appeared that the Flying Biscuit franchise, which started in Atlanta, Georgia, had done a nice job of imparting southern charm into the decor and the menu.

I was set for some of the Biscuit's dreamy grits and a giant egg scramble when I noticed the: Fried Green Tomato BLT, with crisp turkey bacon, fried green tomatoes, lettuce, cashew-jalapeno relish, and goat cheese served on a whole wheat bun.

Fbiscuit600I opted for the FB special BLT. Bacon is a breakfast item, correct?

Jane disregarded my breakfast-at-lunch angst and ordered the: Black Bean Quesadilla with refried black beans and white cheddar cheese folded in a flour tortilla, topped with sour cream, and chipotle sauce. Jane added some salsa to round out her Mexican lunch.

The Flying Biscuit has done a good job of creating a southern style list of side items, including southern roasted moon dusted potatoes and a mac & cheese side dish they call Grilled Mac & Cheese. Other sides are collard greens, green beans, and pudge. Pudge is an old, southern family recipe for garlic and basil mashed potatoes.

I am a mac 'n cheese guy. I could eat this concoction every day. ( I cook up a mean dish of a special recipe called Upscale Mac 'n Cheese that makes me the star chef every time I cook it for friends. It's so good I can't help sharing it: .)

Meanwhile, Jane wanted to try the roasted potatoes, so we decided to share our lunches with each other -- small bites mind you -- to find out what all the Flying Biscuit buzz was all about.

I have heard that service can be sub-par during busy times at the FB. We must have caught them just right, because the staff was attentive to our needs and very helpful to our making up our lunch time minds.

When our lunch arrived, the server presented us with a lot of calories.

Jane was taking photos of our lunch as I sized up the noon time meal that filled the top our small cafe size table.

Fbiscuit1With a flair only a talented graphic designer could conjure up, Jane decided her quesadilla looked naked and painted the tortilla wedges with strips of sour cream, salsa, and chipotle goodness (photo right).

A point goes to Jane's plate for presentation.

Especially relative to my order. The BLT looked unremarkable on my plate, with a flattened mac 'n cheese concoction that appeared to have been sliced off a giant slab of mac 'n cheese.

I had high expectations about my BLT. Unfortunately my expectations were not met in that the fried green tomatoes were not freshly cooked, the bacon was not crispy, and the whole wheat bun that enveloped my sandwich was dense, not toasted and uninspiring.  The feta cheese did add a nice sharp flavor to my sandwich.

flyingbiscuitJane and I traded some of our lunches, and I got to try her black bean quesadilla. The sauces Jane added were a nice addition. Jane created a flavor bonanza with spicy black beans mixed with white, red and green sauces.

Another point to Jane for the taste of her entree.

The side items of roasted, dusted potatoes and grilled mac 'n cheese, we felt, were similar in unique presentations, but both had a flavor problems: My slice of mac 'n cheese didn't work for me. The seeming absence of any noticeable pasta in this overcooked dish was disappointing. The supposedly multiple flavors contained in Jane's roasted potatoes were not apparent.

I made a bad choice with the BLT for a lunch entree, but there were some other lunch entrees that certainly looked deserving of serious attention on a future visit.

Then again, this is a breakfast house, and I think ordering breakfast is what this place is all about.

FBtopperOCT2013

Even on a thoroughly unremarkable Thursday, the Flying Biscuit Café is busy with many of the tables full both inside and outside on the patio. Waiting on a friend while I was perusing the menu, I noticed the Biscuit had a good number of meatless entrees on their lunch menu. The one that caught my eye was the FB Devil Burger. According to the menu, The Devil Burger is:  "Spicy and hot! Veggie and grain patty topped with feta cheese, red onions, smoky jalapeno sauce, lettuce, and tomato." My thought was that any meatless veggie patty with ingredients that add some spice is worth my attention. The sandwich was good. The same old issue I have with the meatless world is how to give veggie patties a little more personality. After a good first bite of The Devil, I liked the flavors of the feta cheese and peppers combined with the crunchy of the lettuce, combined with the cool taste of the tomato. The veggie and grain patty offered very little to this tasty sandwich other than a mushy back drop for the other ingredients. I added some hot sauce from the table and--Voila!--I discovered The Devil that was mentioned on the menu. I don't know who invented the first bottle of hot-pepper-sauce-that-goes-on-everything but this meatless Monday I was praising its culinary magic.

- GLOB Master

The Pluses and Minuses of Flying Biscuit Cafe:

Flying Biscuit Cafe (+) Indicators: Breakfast all day. the black bean quesadilla is worth your consideration.

Flying Biscuit Cafe (-) Indicators: The pre-prepared food items were disappointing.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Flying Biscuit Cafe.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS! 

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Bagels & Noodles

Visitor gives pho, friend, the 'What Pho!'

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

B&NsfMany Gainesville restaurants, delicatessens, and fast food spots have become staples simply because they have been around for many years. It is not until someone visits that you really evaluate these places, especially for those, like myself, who want to show out-of-towners the culinary best of Gainesville.

My good friend Dorothy from my hometown of West Palm Beach, Fla., has visited Gainesville a few times. It wasn't until she heard of a little place called "Bagels and Noodles" that she was intrigued. To anyone else besides Gainesville residents, bagels and noodles sound like the least complementary food items imaginable, from taste to meal to cultural background. And yet, here is the unlikely marriage of two delicious foods. I thought, "Hey, why not try the place again with someone new?"

 

BNtabkeWord of mouth has been the best advertising for the place by far based on raves over their breakfast and their lunch that I have heard. Until I visited for lunch this week, I had completely forgotten about this place. Was the food just forgettable, or was I so clouded with the plethora of new restaurants that I forgot about this small, long-time Gainesville haven?

It was a perfect Fall sunny day with a cool breeze, a sky so blue, and a daytime moon.

The restaurant, inundated with hungry customers of all ages, gave this indecisive food adventurer all the options in the world in the breakfast and Asian food spectrums. Again, how can the two possibly mesh? From big-as-the-plate omelets and banana pancakes — both of which are beyond tasty and extremely generous helpings for the price — to the highly-proclaimed Pad Thai and noodle dishes, I was overwhelmed. But, as with every food outing during my friend's visit — even though there's never enough time in a trip to cover all the bests, I was giving it my all — I aimed for a well-rounded meal experience, as imposing as the menu was.

Dorothy has made, ordered, and eaten pho more times than she can count but was taken aback when this food adventurer proclaimed a lack of pho experience (sorry in advance for the upcoming puns with "pho"!). Of course, we were obligated to try a bowl of their deluxe beef pho, but the meal would not be complete without a bagel. The adventurer in me needed a unique bagel choice, which the restaurant is known for, and I thought a sundried tomato bagel with sundried tomato pesto cream cheese would fit the bill.

After placing our order, not 5 minutes went by before the bagel was served, and not 10 minutes passed until two heaping bowls full of pho emerged before us. Complete with Sriracha sauce, hoisin sauce, and a side plate of bean sprouts with lime wedges, it was high-time for a true lesson on the art of consuming pho, "pho" real!

 

BNsauceHERBDorothy showed me how to mix the Sriracha and hoisin sauces in a small dish, take the small ladle to scoop some broth and the clear rice noodles and sprouts into the ladle with chopstick assistance, and grab a piece of meat floating among the broth to dip in the sauce mixture. With ladle of broth and noodles in one hand and a chopstick of sauce-soaked beef in the other, we dove right into the meat then, ladle full in one messy slurp, throwing all proper etiquette inhibitions aside. To say the least, it was a process. Regardless, I was extremely drawn to the aromatic broth warming my belly with each slurp; the long noodles curled at the bottom of the bowl in a heap; the hearty chunks of beef contrasting with the crispness of the fresh sprouts and the dark blanket of deep red Sriracha and black hoisin sauces.

For a first encounter with pho, I was enjoying every bite. But it was not my opinion this time that was the deciding factor. My Vietnamese compadre was weighing each component of the Vietnamese noodle soup for elements of authenticity, flavor, and overall execution. Upon the first taste of the comforting broth, she was pleased with its flavor.

"You can taste and smell when the broth has been cooking for a long time and when the herbs and spices, like cinnamon, have been soaking in it. That's how you know it's good," she said.

 

BNmlLUNCHDorothy not only commented on how the portions were plentiful, but she was also pleased with how well the flavors merged and how the cook definitely seemed to take the necessary time to let the flavors permeate the dish. It takes at least a day for this soaking process, she added, and the longer the soaking, the more aromatic and flavorful the pho. To say that it was the best pho she's had aside from her homemade version is high praise.

With at least a four-star pho-nalé (OK, I'm done) underway, my contribution to the food experience, the bagel, paled in comparison. It's not to say that the bagel was bad — in fact, it was toasted perfectly to a light crisp — but I felt it was overtaken by the pho feast. Regardless, I smeared on a generous helping of the light pink sundried tomato pesto cream cheese to the warm sundried tomato bagel. It was a tasty and hearty breakfast experience, varying greatly from my usual plain or everything bagel and plain cream cheese. The bagel was fresh, and it was a welcome contrast to the large serving of liquid from the pho. While the bagel was flavorful, I am spoiled by the bagels my mom buys from the New York-style bagel shop back home, so I couldn't really boast about this bagel any further.

 

BNmkpalIn my four years in Gainesville, I have been a few times and didn't give the hole-in-the-wall on University Avenue a second thought. Now, I'm not sure why that is. Not to mention there holds a bit of sentimental value to it: Dorothy and I have been friends even before we had cell phones (I figured that would put it in perspective), and it seems that based on our cultural backgrounds and the closeness of our relationship, "Bagels and Noodles" is the perfect metaphor to depict us. I recommend the place hands-down for a casual Sunday brunch with family or friends, a great breakfast with fellow peers to start the school day, or maybe the place to take your out-of-towners for a wholesome and original experience.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Bagels & Noodles:

Bagels & Noodles (+) indicators: Great execution of all specialties both Asian and breakfast-related; fast service compared to number of customers; highly-praised; great price for what you pay for.

Bagels & Noodles (+) indicators: I want to try everything.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Bagels & Noodles.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

 

AAsmallknifefork0311 

Midtown lunch surprises with menu variety

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

I like to remark that Ward's Grocery is the only market in town where designer beer, vitamin supplements, and frozen pizzas are eight to five feet away from each other.

The Bagel & Noodles breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot might have them beat in the 'we have it all' category.

If you haven't had any reason to be at the corner of University Ave. and 13th St., you most likely aren't aware of this very old building close sitting cozily behind the Holiday Inn that houses Beef O' Brady's. But if you have ever had any kind of UF business taking you close to this very busy intersection, some might say the true heart of Gainesville, you are thinking, "Oh yeah, I know that place."

B&NsilhouteWalking inside B&N you recognize this gow historic old building continues  to be a convenient retreat for UF folks escaping the stressors and issues that encumber all aspects of life of those lunchouters crossing 13th St. to get away from the world of academia.

In the hustle and bustle of orders being taken, served, and eaten, there is a serenity that made me feel I had escaped the real world looming, passing by, outside the large Bagel & Noodle picture windows.

I was curious to see exactly how far this have-it-your-way-lunch stop goes for the hungry lunch adventurer.

I have heard about the fabulous Asian/Vietnamese lunch entrees and tasty soup called pho (pronounced "fuh").

I already knew B&N served a full menu of breakfast fare including bagels, of course, and lox, pancakes, French toast and numerous breakfast specials.

I was surprised to see an even larger list of typical lunch items including sandwiches, cheese steaks, grilled cheese, tuna salads, and hamburgers.

There is a link to the Bagel & Noodles menu below this feature.

B&Nlunch600The tuna salad patty melt sounded like a good lunch for the GLOB Master. After my server listed six or seven bread options for my sandwich, she suggested a bagel and I opted for the Sun Dried tomato bagel toasted with a slice of tomato and Monterey Jack cheese.

It turned out my patty melt was a large open face sandwich with big scoops of tuna salad, tomato, and cheese on both halves of my bagel, photo above.

The sandwich was very good, and the tomato slice was a nice complement to the creamy tuna salad. The toasted bagel and melted cheese 'sandwiched' all the ingredients into a very nice bite size parcel of lunch time joy. The potato salad was an interesting after thought-like addition. Next time I think I will go for the bag of chips instead. My server suggested I might like a side of jalapeno peppers for my sandwich. I wish I had listened to her. Some spicy peppers would have sent this lunch over the mountain top of great lunch time expectations.

I'm usually not the dumbest guy on the bus, and I did feel smart making my visit to Bagel & Noodles when the UF campus was emptying out. A lot of UF types call themselves Bagel & Noodles regulars, and I have heard it can get busy at this close-to-campus lunch stop hideaway.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Bagels & Noodles:

Bagels & Noodles (+) indicators: Extraordinary selection of lunch items. Interesting elements of campus life within this café.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Bagels & Noodles.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

Read more...

43rd St. Deli

Brunch, Film Fest news, highlights brunch/lunch

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

43DELItrish180I was smiling because Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival Director, and long time friend Trish Riley suggested a 43rd. St. Deli lunch/brunch across the street from Thornebrook Village. Amidst eggs, cheese, and sauces we could catch up on old news and share some excitement about the upcoming 10th year vweaion of the acclaimed CV film fest. "I am reviewing the last of the over 100 films submitted for our Feb 14 festival, and I can feel the excitement building for what I think will be the best festival yet," Said Gainesville's environmental film maven.

"We're going to party, celebrate this year like there is no tomorrow," Trish added with twinkle in her eye. You can FOLLOW THIS LINK for more Cinema Verde International Environmental Film Festival information.

CinemaVerdeLOGO

The GLOB Master liked the idea of a brunch/lunch idea. I am finding breakfast is a close tie to lunch as my favorite meal for several reasons.

The two 43rd St. Delis have become iconic for breakfast/lunch outers with delicious traditional breakfast menu served all day. The voluminous menu has an array of choice that includes chicken-apple sausage, Cajun Andouille sausage, grilled pork chops, and a serious cut of 8 oz. steak.

The Deli has two identified veggie entrees in a tofu or tempeh stir fry consisting of Tofu or tempeh, broccoli, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, yellow squash, zucchini, carrots, and tomatoes sautéed with soy sauce and served with a biscuit or toast, ($9.50).

The second veggie entrée is an interesting sounding Black Bean Cake breakfast of two grilled black bean cakes topped with ranchero sauce, cheddar cheese, scallions, and diced tomato. The bean cakes are served with two eggs any style, grits, home fries, or hash browns, a biscuit or toast, and a side of sour cream, ($9.99)

43DELI2platesOf course this is a 'have it your way' deli and the 43rd St. cooking team will be more than happy to accommodate your brunch/lunch ideas with additions, deletions, and modification to satisfy your meatless objectives.

Be sure to check the restaurant link at the bottom of the page for a complete 43rd. St. Deli menu with a full breakfast menu with French Toast, 'Belly Busters,' breakfast wraps and sandwiches.

What I like about breakfast is Diabetically(?) speaking I can enjoy a lot of proteins with struggling over the good, and bad angels of all the wonderful potato, biscuits, and bread white carbs running loose in the Deli kitchen.

I find quiet time of breakfast, the newspaper, perhaps working on a writing assignment, is a special way to start the day.

I had two good ideas for lunch. Deli meatloaf was sounding like a really good Idea. However the Deli Denver Omelet with ham, bell pepper, onion, tomato, and cheddar cheese, (8.99) has become a GM favorite of mine. Speaking of substituting I omit the ham from my omelet feeling rather smart about adhering to meatless principles.

 

43DELIdenver2

I love the Denver Omelet. Plus requesting a side of crispy, crunchy, spicy red salsa for my omelet to pump up the volume of the veggies in this protein only entrée makes the omelet quite tasty. The ingredients combine to create a savory four-part harmony of deliciousness. To reward me for avoiding all the carbohydrate angels I get myself a rye toast treat just because I can.

 

43DELIketchuo

My lunch partner decided on the 43rd. St. Deli Popeye Eggs Benedict consisting of two poached eggs, sliced tomato, and sautéed spinach on a grilled English muffin topped with hollandaise ($9.50). Ms. Riley included a side of enticing Hash Browns as her side item. Looking at the just browned, crispy, creamy spuds I felt the 'card angles' sticking, and poking me in my ribs. Trish opted to change the English muffin to a sliced croissant for a $1 up charge and a spectacular looking brunch plate making me some what envious of her mid-day choices..

"What a yummy brunch," Trish said. " I could eat these eggs for my first meal every day." The deli Benedicts are served with served with your choice of grits, home fries, hash browns, or brown rice.

My Gosh GLOBers. What a great time. An excellent meal, great conversation, exciting Cinema Verde news and this Brunch/Lunch was a ten minute walk from my house.

I'm going back to the 43rd St. Deli.  Next time I will be in search of that 43rd,, St. Deli Meat Loaf Special.

43rdstdeliSFThe Pluses and Minuses of the 43rd St. Deli:

The 43rd St. Deli + indicators : Extensive menu of great lunch ideas. Speedy, attentive service.

The 43rd St. Deli -  indicators: Can get busy at the rush hour so plan accordingly

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the 43rd St. Deli. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

 

 

43RDbrekfastLUNCH

'If it ain't something . . .'

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

43rdstdeliSFIt was a crappy Friday from the get go, even though I love Fridays. I was thinking that at 5:30 in the morning. I had too much fun the night before, and I overslept an hour. My computer was fighting me with all appearances it was going to win. I completed a great looking Weekend Events file loaded with images ready to import into the Daily GLOB template thinking I was close to finishing up early, getting the morning miseries behind me. Not so fast GLOB Master.. .

I used every work around I knew trying to get this digital file accepted by an uncooperative template. I spent at least 30 minutes and failed to get the file to import correctly. Nope. No success. It was apparent I was going to miss my deadline -- if I could even get the file to work. I threw my hands in the air.

 

052317Roseann

I was sitting there spinning my wheels for nothing. I was 20 minutes from deadline and not even close to finishing. Roseanna Dana is correct, if it ain't somethin', it's somethin' else.

THAT'S IT. I SURRENDER. NO DAILY GLOB TODAY.

With that declaration, I put my shoes on and headed out to meet my pal, Jon Roosenraad, for our one hour Friday morning walk. I felt better after the exercise and decided I was going to stop at the Bagel Bakery for a late morning – late for me that is -- breakfast sandwich. But alas GLOBers. there was no BB breakfast.

BTUNCHrhpI have a rule – If there are five customers in line, I refuse to be number six. Quickly heading across the street to 43rd St. Deli, I was thinking the Denver Omelette would good, with no carbohydrates. Maybe that will right the Professional Eater's Foodie Starship I think to myself. Being immediately seated, I noticed the Deli's list of specials, including a two egg, chorizo sausage, bacon, home fries, onions, peppers, cheese platter with toast or biscuits.

Man, did that ever sound delicious. 'Diabetes be damned,' I thought to myself. I deserve this big-enough-for-two belly bomb.

The potatoes and gooey cheese were delightful. The texture of the spuds, with their hearty, chunky bites, stopped me in my tracks. I savored the potatoes slowly enjoying an almost forgotten taste sensation. I had not eaten any potatoes in over a year. The chorizo was spicy, the bacon smoky and they created a savory base on this perfect plate of brunch heaven.

This was when I decided there will be no checking my blood sugar this Friday.

 

43rdstdeliGRAVY2

Lunch stop's tout's variety, few surprises

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

43rdstdeliSFI know I sound like a broken record, but if anyone has read my other restaurant write-ups it is evident I am head-over-heels for brunch. I love breakfast food, but a late morning/early afternoon brunch provides a more relaxed take on it. On the weekends, I love to take my lazy Sundays with a side of biscuits. For such a pleasurable dining experience, I have a few go-to spots in Hogtown, but I am always looking for new ones.

I have dined at the 43rd St. Deli off of Williston Rd. previously, and let's just say I was very dissatisfied by the experience. I had ordered standard breakfast fare, Challah bread French toast, and my dining companion got a cheeseburger and fries. The bread was not tasty, nor was it sliced thick like this dish is typically served. Also, it was clear that the blueberries had been frozen: They looked and tasted old. The burger was also very bland.

43rdstdeliDINERSI didn't want to write off the local breakfast/lunch spot without a second chance. I knew their second location at Millhopper provided a somewhat different atmosphere and food specials, so I used a precious Sunday brunch slot to see if the "deli" could redeem itself. First off, I say "deli" because it is certainly more of a diner, from the lengthy breakfast/lunch menu with large-portioned, greasy-spoon meals to the neon sign in the window and the large number of booths. The lunch menu does have some deli meat sandwiches, but 'm sticking with diner.

43rdstdeliGRAVY2

My friend visiting for the weekend, Sara, and I had our minds set on splitting a hearty breakfast to round out a rainy, yet busy weekend. Other brunch articles of mine have claimed the spuds or skillet dish to be my comfort breakfast food go-to, so I thought I would stick with that. This typically consists of breakfast potatoes beneath a layer of sautéed veggies and breakfast meats with cheese and eggs on top to round it out. At 43rd St. Deli, this is known as an "Extreme Buster." It wasn't too hard to land on the Country Buster, $8.99, complete with all of the good, stick-to-your-ribs ingredients I could find: peppers, bacon, sausage and a heaping mound of sausage gravy. Sara was drawn to the Escalante Pancake Special, $2.50. There is a complete menu at the restaurant link at the bottom of this page.

43rdstdeliTHREEderWhen I say the food came out three minutes after ordering, I am not exaggerating in the slightest. I have no idea how they produced both menu items cooked to completion and delivered to the table so quickly, but I am hoping it was just due to efficiency and not pre-made dishes. Regardless, the creamy sausage gravy was spread generously over the scrambled eggs and cheese, a heaping mound of chopped bacon, sausage, and green peppers resting atop a bed of hash browns (tried something different from the standard home fries) rounding out the very rich, savory dish. I'm not sure if it was the creaminess of the gravy or the large amount of breakfast meats mixed in, but it was hard to even finish half. The plate-sized pancake had just the right consistency and fluffiness, more frozen blueberries, and some crunchy granola tucked in here and there. It was pretty tasty as the sweet addition to the meal. As per usual, I inhaled the side biscuit.

After having dined at both locations, I feel secure, however, in my decision not to return. Perhaps it is because I am extremely partial to Peach Valley Café's Picker's Skillet and its sausage gravy or to Ivey's Spuds a la Grande, but I actually felt a little nauseous from the 43rd St. rendition. There is nothing wrong with offering many dining options, and I especially appreciate that they serve breakfast all day (we dined around 1:30 p.m.), but I don't have any desire to dine there again when I know there are better prepared menu items elsewhere for the same price.

The Pluses and Minuses of the 43rd St. Deli:

The 43rd St. Deli + indicators :  Extensive menu, breakfast all day, two locations, quick food-to-table time, friendly service

The 43rd St. Deli -  indicators:  Very standard food, did not settle well, seems to be partial to using a lot of frozen ingredients

43drDELImeatless

I was near Thornebrook Village when I remembered I wanted to give the grilled cheese sandwich at 43rd St. Deli a try for a Meatless Monday lunch. And I'm glad I did, this is a very tasty GCS. This sliced toasted bread, harvarti cheese, tomato, and avocado wonder is a delicious buttery, crunchy, gooey lunch time delight. It's not on the lunch menu because it depends on the availability of the creamy avocado. Since it wasn't on the menu, I didn't realize the sandwich also included some very crisp and yummy bacon. Darn! So much for my Meatless Monday lunch. I'm sure you can order the sandwich without a meat protein.   My lunch order included a choice of a soup or salad. I was delighted with the many different veggies in my salad, but the parmesan cheese dressing made my salad special with an abundance of cheese flavor from the many tiny pieces of parmesan cheese. A quick check of the Deli's restaurant menu link below will tell you they have an extensive list of veggie and meatless lunch choices from tofu and tempeh sandwiches to a veggie quesadilla.

- Mike Sanford. GLOB Editor

Deli offers comfort food heaven on 43rd St.

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

I’m thinking comfort food as I head across town for lunch.

It must be my body seeking out  a baseline of normalcy. You know, my inner self is searching for those food staples where I don’t have to think about what kind of special sauce to include with an entree, or, if I’m eating flat bread, what would be the best 3 to 6 toppings. What exactly is Mongolian cuisine?

I am ready for a deli-belly burner.  A giant glob ( ! ? ) of mash potatoes, some serious southern-style greens, and a serious hunk of protein.

43rddeliLike magic my car was directing me toward the 43rd St Deli out on NW 43rd St. 

Having lived in Gainesville for a very long time, I have been a frequent visitor of this deli many times for both breakfast and lunch.  My son Bob went to school with 43rd. St. Deli owner Paul Cakmis’s son.  Long time pal, Gary Miller, owned a print shop a few doors down from the 43rd St. Deli. in the 90s.  

This place has extended a lot of roots into the Urban GLOB.

I’ve been to the 43rd St Deli enough times that I was already imagining a plate of mashed potatoes, a thick center cut pork chop and mixed greens being presented to me for lunch.

Walking into the brightly lit deli’s spacious dining area consisting of tables and booths, with busy servers scurrying about, brought a reassuring sense of comfort that I was where I needed to be.

This lunch visit was just what the eating professional ordered.  Taking the second bite of my mashed potatoes and creamy brown gravy my body released a giant sigh of contentment.  I’m not sure but I think I felt my blood pressure drop significantly.

43rsSTdeliDININGThe 43rd St. Deli on NW 43rd St., down from Tupelo's BBQ, is celebrating more than 26 years of serving breakfast and lunch to Gainesville. There won’t be a test today, however I’m betting you can find Deli fans in all four corners of the urban GLOB. Over the years there have been other 43rd St. Deli restaurants locations around Gainesville).

This lunch spot is an honest-to-goodness deli with a varied menu to prove its lineage.  Sure they have the burgers, sandwiches and salads found in every quick lunch stop, but with home style specials on  the daily menu board like pot roast, meat loaf, and pork chops you quickly recognize this is comfort food heaven.

The Deli draws a good breakfast crowd so it stays busy throughout the day.  The staff and crew of the 43 rd. St. Deli understand their mission of making customers happy.

I was right about this place being the answer to my lunch time angst.

When I am in the Millhopper area  at lunch time, the 43rd St. Deli is on my list of frequent stops. I’m just not sure how many deli belly burner lunches I can take in a week.  

43rsSTdeliPOTROAST

There I sat looking at a spectacular plate of home cooked, comfort food, like my momma use to make. I spied the Open Face Pot Roast Daily Special on the door as I walked into the 43rd St. Deli behind the Zaxbys Fried Chicken on NW 43rd St. Pot roast is in a neck-and-neck tie with meat loaf as the GLOB Master's all time favorite red meat protein. Momma would have been proud to serve her son this plate of heart warming goodness. There were eight side choices available with the pot roast and potatoes on the Deli's menu, but I never got past the mustard greens on the list. The potatoes were excellently mashed. I go for the way the food industry makes a little scoop like indention in the spuds to contain the brown gravy. The pot roast was cooked perfectly, juicy, fork tender, screaming with home cooked flavors and nicely drenched with brown gravy. The Texas toast was a nice touch and collected much gravy and pieces of pot roast. The mustard greens were very good, sharp in flavor, cooked nicely but not over cooked.  The greens added remarkable, spicy flavor and complemented the gravy covered entrees. I wasn't brave enough to ask if I could get a scoop of ice cream with a brown gravy topping . . .

- Mike Sanford

 

OmeletTOPPER

 

I was prepared. I knew my early morning trek to breakfast was going to be one of the first cold early morning walks of many. I had checked the weather website, and it was 49 degrees outside my front door. Out came my blue jeans, long sleeve polo, plus a very warm and comfortable jacket. WHAT'S UP WITH THAT GLOBERS? I was experiencing a morning sustenance paradigm shift, I thought to myself. But I was dressed appropriately for my short walk to the NW 43rd St. Deli for a veggie omelet. I had had it several days ago also, but today I was planning to have the full plate breakfast my way. The 43rd St. Deli three-egg omelet is delicious, and according to Crystal, my very attentive server, the deli serves breakfast every day until 3:00 pm. A full menu of meatless opportunities, DIY all-veggie entrees, is available and would enable me to ignore my 'white carb blues,' that is, avoidance of potatoes, rice, flour, pasta, and sugar any way, any how because of diabetes. But that's Ok, it's all right GLOBers, Instead of a white carb side, I had salsa and sliced tomatoes with my omelette of fire-roasted red bell pepper, fresh spinach, and crumbled feta cheese. It was a delightfully tasty meal although the Deli chef makes his omelets a little on the dry side for my taste. My perfect omelet drips, melts, and 'glops'(?) nicely off my fork, so the salsa and Crystal's tomatoes helped the GLOB Master achieve a perfect three-egg harmony at 7 in the morning. FYI regarding the tune link above, Big Head Todd and the Monsters is one my five all time favorite rock & roll band names.

- GLOB Master

 

The Pluses and Minuses of the 43rd St. Deli:

The 43rd St. Deli + indicators :  Homestyle entrees served in an efficient friendly manner.

The 43rd St. Deli -  indicators:  The 43rd St. Deli has a new menu, confusing this old customer,  but has retained many of their standard dishes.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the 43rd St. Deli. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Bakery Mill & Deli

Detour creates new lunch plans

MillSFThe GLOB Master and Jon Roosenraad, GLOB Historian, headed out to Archer for a lunch visit to the Rail House Grill, only to discover Don, the owner of the RHG, having a smoke before going in to prepare food for . . . the evening's customers. Seems like the Rail House doesn't serve lunch any more. Much to my dismay, we headed back to Gainesville in deep discussion about why there aren't any good, old-fashioned, authentic delicatessens in Gainesville any more. That's when I told Rosey we should head to the Bakery Mill & Deli a few doors down from TJ MaX near I-75. I went to great lengths telling Dr. Jon that the Bakery Mill & Deli serves up what might be the best grilled cheese sandwich in Gainesville. "I don't care Mike," Roosenraad said. "When I go to a deli, I go for one reason, and that's to get myself a pastrami on rye stacked high with excellent pastrami, melted Swiss cheese, and a good spicy mustard." Image above.

GLONbmdAs we sat down in this cozy deli with a full house of customers, I told Dan our server that this was a tough decision because I knew the BMD makes an awesome grilled cheese. "I remember you," Dan said. "You're the GLOB guy and you want the Deluxe Grilled Cheese with ham, jalapenos, tomato, American, provolone and Swiss cheese, just like last time." He added, "Did you see we posted the GLOB's feature about us on the wall by the cash register, GLOB Master?"

By the time our orders arrived, I had regained some composure and returned to the table from admiring how good the GLOB story looked on the wall. By the end of lunch, Rosey declared that his pastrami on marbled rye bread was excellent and all the fine points he had discussed on the way back into Gainesville had been addressed. Rosey was also amazed at the sight of my grilled cheese. It was the best grilled cheese I've had since the last time I was at the Bakery Mill & Deli. Thanks, Don, for making the GLOB Master's day!

Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

 

BM&D Deluxe Grilled Cheese is the best ever?

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

MillSFBack in 2006, I lived in northwest Gainesville for awhile and part of my walking regimen was a good walk to the Bakery Mill & Deli for a bagel, cool refreshments, and the morning newspaper.

That memorable experience had me feeling like I was visiting an old friend when I returned to this breakfast and lunch spot hidden behind the Walgreen's on the corner of Tower Rd. and Newberry Rd., a few doors north of the TJ Max department store.

The Bakery Mill & Deli started out as a popular restaurant positioned on the corner of the Oaks Mall Plaza shopping center.

bakery-mill-counter-ldFolks in NW G'ville want to keep this very handy, friendly deli all to themselves. The BM&D stays busy throughout the day. I arrived a little earlier than usual for lunch and I was lucky to find an empty table.

This bustling deli makes is a good meeting spot for a quick lunch, or breakfast. Better yet, the desserts and bakery items are wonderful conversation starters. The BM&D is a Starbucks kind of place minus all the franchise glitz and trappings.

More importantly, the food at this hide-away lunch spot is extraordinarily excellent.

It wouldn't be fair to say the Bakery Mill & Deli has the usual menu of salads, soups, and sandwiches. Check out the photo of my Deluxe Grilled Cheese below and tell me how ordinary that sandwich looks.

The web address below this story is a link to the complete Bakery Mill & Deli menu.

The sandwich assortment on the menu describes a host of very tasty sounding lunch entrees. That said the Deluxe Grilled Cheese caught my attention and never let go. The menu described heart-stopping lunch time heaven: "3 cheeses--American, provolone, and Swiss, onion, and tomato on whole wheat bread. Add jalapeno for a little kick."

My concern was the Deluxe Grilled Cheese didn't have any protein included like the Grilled Three Cheese Baked Ham also listed on the menu. Don my server said that was no problem they could add ham to the sandwich for an additional charge. Don then asked me if I was sure about adding the jalapeno peppers to my grill cheese adventure. I thought the peppers would add a nice kick to my grill cheese, a kick I have never experienced.

bakery-mill-cheese-sand-ldThe Deluxe Grilled Cheese was masterfully prepared.

I'm sorry for repeating myself but the combination of the American, provolone and Swiss cheeses, tomato, onion and jalapeno pepper created a juicy, melted, yummy six-pack of flavors I will never forget. The sandwich's exclamation point was the jalapeno peppers. Wow what an addition to the mild tasting cheese and tomato. I may never eat another grill cheese unless it has jalapeno peppers on it.

The hot peppers moved this very good sandwich into blue ribbon, prize-winning territory. The BM&D could charge $15 for this sandwich and sell more sandwiches than they could make for lunch.

My sandwich came out with one side item of creamy cole slaw. The slaw was refreshing and palette cleansing with maybe a little too much dressing, but it was good and I could have eaten a second bowl of this one side item. Would that have been "Side Item 2", or "Side Item 1A"?

While I was gorging on my sandwich, several customers came into the bakery/deli to check out what was in the bakery, dessert cases.

I skipped dessert after my giant sandwich. I didn't want any sweet flavors intruding on the sensual smorgasbord taking place in my mouth after enjoying one of the better sandwiches I have ever eaten.

BTW, I make a Peasant Rosemary Bread Grill Cheese sandwich and from this point forward my GC will ALWAYS contain a nice, hot & spicy pepper.

 

052918

 

New job, new lunch stop, cherry bomb muffins!

By: Melissa Kahan

MillSFEDITOR's NOTE: This review was written in the Spring of 2016 and it is still one of the GLOB Master's favoritie lunch spots..

When you are passionate about what you do and you have a team around you that is just as passionate and appreciative, "work" takes on new meaning.

Having just started a new position doing marketing and community event planning in Gainesville, I have observed love for this profession and the drive to succeed firsthand. This may be a new and exciting venture, but being a member of the Gainesville Lunch Out Blog has also been rewarding from day one, over two and a half years ago. Although we know how to get down to business, eating food is always priority.

GLOB Publisher, Mike Sanford, decided a nice way to welcome me back to working in Hogtown would be meeting me at a lunch spot he was quite fond of – Bakery Mill and Deli off of Newberry Road and 76th Street, which also happens to be less than 5 minutes from my new job.

Walking into the small lunch spot, about a dozen tables are lined up along the right wall across from pastry cases and a checkout counter to the left. Mike quickly mentioned that the space had been recently remodeled..

"Those are some inviting gray walls," he said, a tad sarcastically but in good jest.

A couple of reviews and some high praise from Mike of a certain Deluxe Grilled Cheese Sandwich was what enticed me first to try the Deli. Upon perusing the rest of the lunch and breakfast menu, which is served all day, the choices seemed endless.

MILLsandwich480

True to GLOB lunching out form, Mike and I decided we would split our lunchtime fare to maximize the experience. Mike was determined to stick to the Meatless Monday theme, so instead of his usual Deluxe Grilled Cheese, the order I could tell he was so close to repeating, he decided that the Veggie Melt would be the appropriate choice. It also seemed like a veggie-lovers version of a "deluxe" grilled cheese sandwich, so I was optimistic. I shifted to the salad portion of the menu to compliment the sandwich, and the server claimed the Southwest Chicken Salad was the way to go.

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The choice to opt for toasted marble rye bread instead of the French bread to keep in all the ingredients of the Veggie Melt seemed like the right option, especially since we were going for the grilled cheese effect. However this was not your mom's special grilled cheese oozing with melted cheese and coated in a layer of butter.This three-cheese melt has a much thicker, less gooey consistency, with a myriad of vegetables in between, including zucchini and yellow squash spears, broccoli and lettuce. All things considered, it was executed well, but if I get another pressed cheese sandwich, I'm going to stick with the original. Mike and I commented that growing up, there's no way we would have stuck a tomato, or any vegetable for that matter, on a good old grilled cheese sammie. I did enjoy the side of coleslaw, which, to my delight, was not too soggy or covered over in the mayo concoction that some restaurants abuse.

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The salad was the winner, in my book. The chunks of strongly-seasoned chicken played very nicely into the southwest theme, in addition to crunchy cucumbers, lettuce, and spicy jalapenos with softer black olives and tomatoes. Of course I can't forget about the thick layer of cheese coating the lettuce. I will never complain about too much cheese. The edible bowl was a crispy tortilla shell, but I didn't find that it lent much to the dish. There was also a side of salsa that was meant to top the salad, but I didn't even bother. To my dismay, the server mentioned the restaurant was out of the guacamole ranch dressing that sounded like the perfect accompaniment to a southwest-inspired plate. However, the vinaigrette that Mike opted for was the winner, chunks of feta cheese contrasted with the lighter consistency of the tangy vinaigrette. The salad was certainly enough for sharing, just logistically more challenging since the edible bowl didn't allow the salad to be split in half as easily.

Being fond of Bakery Mill and Deli, Mike claims the mornings he snagged a bagful of pastries or breakfast goodies for his work compadres he was a big hit. I love the proximity to my new job, and it seems like a pretty standard little deli. I am curious about this all-day breakfast menu, which seemed just as varied as the lunch one. I can already tell those pastries will taunt me at every visit, begging me to take one (or five) of them home. Can you say cherry bomb muffins?

The Pluses and Minuses of the Bakery Mill & Deli.

Bakery Mill & Deli + Indicators: Nice location in plaza by the interstate, decent price for quantity, tasty and fresh ingredients, friendly service, breakfast all day, standard wait times.

Bakery Mill & Deli - Indicators: Can get a little crowded at peak lunch time, run-of-the-mill

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Bakery Mill & Deli. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

 BM&Dtopper

When the Gainesville Lunch Out Blog publishes a Meatless Monday Special I immediately think of the Bakery Mill & Deli Deluxe Grilled Cheese. WOW! What an extraordinary lunch sandwich. This gooey, chewey, spicy sandwich bliss don't need no stinking meat! The MB&D bakes their whole wheat bread fresh every day. The bread is sliced perfectly into a manly portion of toasted freshness that complements the three cheeses – American, provolone & swiss. Chopped pieces of tasty onion are strategically placed against the tomato so the tomato goo can envelope the onion crunxh to create a surprisingly flavorful sweet and sharp mini opera in your mouth. Then you're smacked in your jowls with the bite sized punch of jalapeno pepper. Oh man. I challenge all GLOBers to give the MB&D Deliuxe Grilled Cheese a try and then tell your fellow GLOBers that it was an unremarkable Meatless Monday.  That ain't gonna happen!

- GLOB Master

The Pluses and Minuses of the Bakery Mill & Deli.

Bakery Mill & Deli + Indicators: Friendly, comfortable lunch spot with extraordinary lunch fare.

Bakery Mill & Deli - Indicators: The BM&D is popular, my suggestion id to arrive early, or plan a late Bakery Mill & Deli lunch.

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Perkins Restaurant & Bakery

TV families would understand 'Timeless Favorites'

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

PerkinsI haven't been to Perkins Bakery and Restaurant in the Oaks Mall Plaza in a long time.

Way back when, I drove south to Ocala and then to Wildwood for my employment, and I would often start my day off with a quick Perkins breakfast. Frequently I was the hero at work

because I would bring a dozen Perkins Mammoth Muffins to the office to treat my workmates.

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Yep, Perkins was a good way to start my work day as I, "head out on the highway," driving South in the early morning.

Entering Perkins for lunch, I quickly noticed there wasn't a lot of change since the last time I was at this stalwart, long-time Oaks Mall neighbor.

Success also comes from the predictability and sameness the Perkins customer will find regardless what shopping mall s/he happens to be in. People, eaters like routine. Perkins is routine driven. Another way to describe thePperkins charm is consistency. That is probably the major factor in the success of chain restaurants. It may not be great, but it is probably consistently good and if you order the same thing every time you go, it will be very similar if not exactly the same as the last time you had it.

 

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The PB&R franchise modus operandi must work for the approximately 440 restaurants they have presently open for business nationwide. That number of restaurants, fellow GLOBers, has success written all over it: Founded in 1958, Perkins Restaurants offer consumers in 34 states and five Canadian provinces a full menu of over 90 assorted breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and dessert items. All that and they serve breakfast all day.

For this lunch time visit, I was essentially a Perkins lunch time newbie. That's OK, I've seen this menu before, many times before, this lunch stop.

Shakespeare always says it best: "A rose by any other name . . ." Well, let me update the expression: "A Club Sandwich named differently by any other chain restaurant would taste as good." Thus, the menu items may have had a little different name, but the lunch items did not surprise this lunchouter.

There I was getting ready to munch down on a lunch that would have made the Beaver Cleaver TV family unhappy to eat at home, the Brady Bunch munch in unison, and the Full House family tone deaf with jealousy.

I'm talking about lunch items every GLOBer should know and love: On the Perkins menu under the Timeless Favorites category, they are Top Sirloin Steak, Harvest Salads, Better Burgers, Sandwich Board, Roast Beef Dinner, Grilled Pork Chops, Country Fried Steak, and Butterball Turkey Dressing.

Come on, what more could America ask for than, no matter where in the world you are, than a consistent, same-old-entree Perkins lunch?

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I was feeling red, white, and blue sitting in America's lunch stop, so I selected the Butterball Turkey and Dressing for lunch. The menu let me know that my lunch consisted of "Oven-roasted and hand-carved slices of turkey breast, served on home style sage dressing with hearty turkey gravy and cranberry sauce."

I'm paraphrasing an epicurious-type response here: "The turkey dressing was good. What I would've done was add some onion, Anaheim peppers, pieces of dark turkey meat, and gobs of celery. My family would have loved this dressing and asked me to make it again."

 

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The turkey breast was good, although a little dry, but isn't that why someone discovered gravy? The gravy enhanced the meat and accentuated the dressing. I even gave serious consideration to trying the gravy on my ho-hum cranberry relish. Yes relish; it was not the jellied-jelloed cranberry.

Do you think the turkey gravy comes to 'Perkins Store #27' in 5-gallon cans, or 25-gallon drums?

Lucky for the GLOB Master, the turkey dinner pictured on the Perkins website looked just like mine. In fact their picture is better than mine so I am using their photo.

I don't mean to sound critical. Perkins Bakery & Restaurant obviously serves a purpose that makes a lot of customers very happy. And the TFBT&D (Timeless Favorite Butterball Turkey & Dressing) worked for me.

When I paid for my lunch, I picked up a dozen of the Perkins Mammoth Muffins for old time's sake. I thanked the friendly server and as I left the dining room I told no one in particular, "I'm coming back!"

The Pluses and Minuses of Perkins Bakery and Restaurant:

Perkins Bakery and Restaurant + indicators: In know this is the a LUNCH blog, but I just have to say that a Perkins breakfast and a stop at the Perkins Bakery is an excellent way to start your day.

Perkins Bakery and Restaurant - indicators: I drove around the parking lot more than once for that lunch.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Perkins Restaurant & Bakery.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Bagel Bakery

The Bagel Bakery is one of those comfort zone places for the GLOB Master. A long time favorite where I know I can go stand in the line at the counter waiting for my turn for a lunch that will never disappoint. Today it was a Bagel Bakery Signature Sandwich Broccoli Cheddar Melt.  This Jalpeno Bagel, Cream Cheese and my change to a  Monterrey Jack Cheese served open face with a cranberry nut muffin sounded perfectly lunch-like to me. I included the muffin because I love their muffins almost as much as their bagels. When the sandwich maker behind the counter asked me what kind of cream cheese I wanted I had not thought about the Bakery having eight different kinds of cream cheese including Jalapeno. Spontaneously I asked for the spicy cheese to complement my spicy jalapneo bagel. "I see you are into spice and heat," The customer friendly server said. " You should make the cheese on top a pepper jack cheese." So I did. What a wonderfully spicy, peppery tasting lunch time bomb. First jalapenos peppers in the texture of the chewy bagel bread introduced themselves to my palette. The crunch of the broccoli combined with the gooey cream cheese and jalapenos were next making me smile with flavor contrasting flavors I wasn't expecting. The melted jack cheese on top was warm, cheesy-gooey with flecks of pepper as well. I could take my eyes off of my cranberry nut muffin. This banana bread brings delight brings back fond memories of working in UF's Department of Entomology and Nematology where I happily brought a bag of bagels and cream cheese to share with my morning work mates. Ahhh, life is good with a ton of happy memories of good times, good friends, and really good eats, and Dana Carvey singing about, "Choppin' Broccoli."

- GLOB Master

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Bagel shop elicits memories of home

zzGLOBbullet FOLLOW THIS LINK for the GLOB Master's morning sandwich triumvirate

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

BagelFIXI had a very routine eating schedule growing up: bowl of cereal for breakfast, pizza or packed meal for lunch, and Caesar salad with butter and cheese pasta for dinner. It is hard not to look back and see how far I've come in broadening my palette and expanding my culinary horizons. Each time I return home, one thing that has always remained the same is the weekend bag of bagels.

I am spoiled on bagels forever, and I know that. I have tried to wean myself off of so much delicious bread goodness, the crispy toasted edges bordering the fluffy, fresh insides. I find myself craving them to the point that I am now on a hunt to find a decent bagel place in Gainesville. Suggestions welcome!

 

bagelbakeryCHICKENAfter Sunday, I can now check the Bagel Bakery at 43rd and 16th Street off of my list. Sunday brunch has always been my preferred meal, so of course I had to venture at such a (busy) time despite the shop being open from 6:30 am-5 pm on weekdays and 7 am-4 pm on weekends. My roommate, Alyssa, was on the bagel train, too, so we joined the long line of hungry patrons in the small but packed bagel shop. I figured I could make an egg sandwich at home, so instead I opted for the Nova and Cream Cheese Bagel with everything included, image right, as usual but using a bagel type I usually never go for: pumpernickel. Alyssa opted for chicken salad on a garlic bagel, image right, although hers was missing the greens and cheese that were detailed on the menu. I took a bite, and let's just say I am safe from vampires for a long time. As Alyssa put it, "A garlic bagel is heaven in my mouth." She is the ultimate garlic lover.

There is a complete Bagel Bakery menu at the restaurant link at the bottom of this page.

 

bagelbakeryTOPPERMy Nova and Cream Cheese Bagel was truly a unique experience among the many versions I have tasted. Typically, I am presented with a toasted bagel and plain cream cheese, a few strips of lox, capers, and possibly a tomato and raw onion. I was expecting those elements. I did not anticipate the salad that appeared atop my slightly limp pumpernickel bagel. The dark bagel backdrop presented a canvas for not-very-hearty portions of cream cheese and nova slices, but a generous helping of capers with a tomato slice accompanied by slivers of raw onion. To my surprise, the bagel topping continued to reach new heights literally with the addition of a few thin slices of cucumber topping the onion followed by a heaping mound of sprouts and two leaves of lettuce. I tried the entire compilation together, and it was just too much and took away from the true essence of a simple lox with cream cheese bagel, so I ate the "salad" of sprouts, lettuce, and cucumber first.

 

bagelbakerLINEUsually, when it comes to food, I am of "the more the better" mentality, but this was not the case. I would have preferred a thicker bagel, which the cashier said was toasted but did not seeming so to me, and fewer ingredients so the cool cream cheese would be highlighted against the nova and caper flavors. Tt was a relatively decent bagel experience all things considered, although I certainly have not found a good enough substitute for the ones my mom brought home growing up. I was very excited, though, to see a few outdoor tables, as I think many of us will agree that this weather is phenomenal and deserves some attention!

The Pluses and Minuses of The Bagel Bakery:

Bagel Bakery (+) indicators:  Relatively quick service line, local, fresh produce, variety of meal options for breakfast and lunch, adequate indoor and outdoor seating, price matches meal.

Bagel Bakery (+) indicators: Too many ingredients for a bagel, some bagels are apparently quite thin, a tad skimpy on the cream cheese.

Breakfast spot transforms nicely for lunch

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

A familiar way to start my day is by ordering a sausage, egg, and cheese bagel too eat while I read the morning newspaper. One of the better bagels shops in town is the Bagel Bakery on NW 16th Boulevard.

After recently trying the Bagel Bakery for lunch, I have a new respect for a place that I was thinking was strictly for breakfast.

Not true, fellow GLOBers. The Bagel Bakery offers many unusual lunch time entrees in a fast and efficient manner with a very tasty result.

Paninis, wraps, soups, salads, and, of course. bagel sandwiches covers the choices this airy restaurant offers for the lunch outer in a hurry for a quick bite to eat. Plus the Bagel Bakery menu board is a great source of lunch specials.

My lunch mission at the Bagel Bakery this day was a cup of 'hot chili' to counter to help put my head in a coler place this very hot July.

The BB had a lunch special the day of my visit that consisted of a cup of soup and a half of a bacon turkey wrap -- plus the soup of the day was chili – how lucky is that? This lunch special was just the right amount of comfort food to help get me through the day.

The Bagel Bakery lunch line routine worked with the same precision as the early morning shift. The folks behind the counter understood their assignment of getting customers out of the lunch line and to their tables with a smile on their face.

Strategically placed at the end of the line by the cash registers sits the giant chocolate chip cookies and chocolate brownies. Perfectly sweet desserts to top off what is a quick and satisfying lunch.

If you are in a hurry and looking for fast food that is a little healthier than a burger and fries, this is the place for you.

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I just had one of the best lunches I've had in some time. I am a fan of bagel shops for breakfast. Those multitude of bagels and toppings make the selection of my sausage-egg- cheese breakfast sandwich a wonderful experience. I was pleased to discover that the Bagel Bakery on NW 16th Blvd has an egg, spinach and sausage sandwich on some of the best fresh baked foccacia bread with Parmesan cheese topping the GLOB Master has ever tasted. Foccacia bread is a flat, oven-baked Italian bread, which may be topped with herbs or other ingredients, in this case Parmesan cheese. It is related to pizza dough but is not the same as it. Talking about being a 'Happy Boy!' The bread was soft and lightly toasted, which resulted in an extraordinary texture and flavor base for the sharp, savory flavors of the spinach, Parmesan, and sausage. I felt as if I had discovered the reason for sandwich making in each bite. I will be going back to the Bagel Bakery for another Foccacia Spinach & Sausage lunch. I might be going back every day!

The Pluses and Minuses of The Bagel Bakery:

Bagel Bakery (+) indicators:  This is an excellent lunch stop for GLOBers in a hurry.

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Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Lovely Laura, deer head trump the CFS special

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store restaurants were never part of my family's travel plans when I was a child or when my kids were young. So my trip to the Cracker Barrel off of Archer Rd next to I-75 was my first lunch at this everything-you-could-possibly-need-to-eat interstate fixture.

Before lunch, I learned that in the late 6os, Dan Cracker Barre . . . ooops, sorry . . . Dan Evins from Lebanon, Tennessee, had this idea to upgrade his gas station into a friendly country store for people to "come in, sit down, take a load off" and maybe buy a few knick-knacks or some nostalgic candy.

Heck, while Dan was thinking, he also thought he could sell a few sausage biscuits and maybe a coupla orders of country fried steak since he had the highway refugees floating in his sea of curiosities.

The first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store opened in September 1969. Today there are over 600 open for business in 42 states. No franchising going on here. Every store is owned by Cracker Barrel, Inc.

CwagonDININGSo I'm sitting in Cracker Barrel #487 of 600 at a cozy table for two looking directly at a deer head perched high on the wall looking right back at me. OK, so I made up the Cracker Barrel store number.

This big box joint is jumping – and rocking. I hear tell that during busy lunch hours at many a Cracker Barrel, there are a lot of people rocking on the front porch waiting for their tables. According to Cracker Barrel cashier, Lovely Laura, Gainesville's Cracker Barrel has over 120 hard-working employees. Cracker Barrellers open this place up at 6:00 in the morning for early bird travelers and other hungry breakfast eaters. The night shift CBers close the doors at 10:00 pm.

Once at my table, I was handed a menu featuring 8 different food categories that included seasonal modifications. Let's think about this for a minute. I am sitting in a replica of a country store in Tennessee. I didn't need no stinkin' menu. My choice for lunch was automatic.

Everyone who thinks I ordered the country fried steak raise your hand.

That was a no brainer question wasn't it?

I would like to know how many country fried steak lunch entrees this corporation sells on Hump Day Wednesday.

CwagonFOODMy CFS entrée included two side orders plus mashed potatoes. I selected two Southern classic side orders: Turnip greens and fried okra. The turnip greens might have been in the cooking pot a day or two too long. They had good flavor, however, they were mushy and stringy, which turned them into a bad impersonation of turnip greens. The fried okra was good; obviously prepackaged, but still tasty.

The mashed potatoes were real, I think. They clumped together appropriately and created a nice palette for the thick gravy.

The country fried steak was alright. The crunchy crust was a nice complement to the creamy gravy. I was just able to detect some beef flavor from the cubed steak hiding within that country crunchy crust .

You know what? That CFS lunch was pretty good. It was good enough that my first thought on the way to the cash register was to check and see if they had a freezer in the country store part of this complex where I could buy a box or two of those fried steaks to take home with me.

The high point of my lunch visit was meeting Lovely Laura at the checkout counter. With a bright smile and customer friendly demeanor, Ms. Laura was quick to make sure the customers in her line were leaving happy: "Now you be sure to tell everyone that Lovely Laura says hello, and they should all come to the Cracker Barrel," Laura said, perhaps with a little too much emphasis.

ICwagonCANDY'm not poking fun at the Cracker Barrel experience. I understand big box, corporate units like #487 serve an important role in today's mass market food world.

However, I'm pretty sure I will not make it back to the Cracker Barrel. Unless maybe Lovely Laura sends me a personal invitation.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Cracker Barrel Country Store:

Cracker Barrel Country Store. + indicators: Fast service, customer friendly. The company gives back to the community through several interesting programs. Also, for the travelers, you can rent books on tape at one store and return it at any other store when you are done.

Cracker Barrel Country Store. - indicators:  I picked up a pack of candy corn at the checkout counter that was horribly bad. I understand that another Cracker Barrel Country Store just opened somewhere in America.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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