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Mac's Drive Thru

Double cheeseburger timed, noted, devoured

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

zzGLOBbullet Wednesday,  Lunchtime

MacsDriveThru1:00 p.m. - I am on the Northeast side of town and I need to make a pit stop for a quick lunch I can take back to the office.

1:02 p.m. - I spy Mac's Drive Thru to my SW while driving down Main St. and realize Mac's tasty burger can satisfy all the requisites to my current FOTR mission.

1:04 p.m.- I'm feeling very smart about my Food On The Run objective when I pull into line and quickly see there is only three cars in front of me and my lunch.

 

MACScars

1:05 p.m. - I am now third in line when I see Mac's menu wall out my left window and suddenly my routine choice of doublr cheeseburger, fries and large diet soda becomes problematic.  I didn't know Mac's sold roast beef sandwiches, and ham & cheese sandwiches, I have to make a lunch decision!

1:06 p.m. - It's time to give the voice in the microphone my order, "Let me have a double cheeseburger, large fries, and a large diet soda please." I say thinking about a piled high roast beef sandwich.

"Double cheese, fries and a large drink? That will be $6.93, please pull forward."

That was easy I'm thinking to myself, not a lot questions here.

1:07 p.m. - "Double cheese, fries,& large drink, that'll be $6.93," the counter guys says waiting for me with my lunch in hand as I drive up to his window.

"Great, thanks man. Look I'm the GLOB Editor of this lunch time blog," I say handing him a Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog business card. "I'm going to write about this lunch, and it will be online tomorrow, you should check it out."

"OK, cool, I will," the counter guy says not getting too many biz cards shoved in his face that way.

1:14 p.m. - I'm in my office unwrapping my cheeseburger and pouring my french fries onto the burger wrapper.   I bite into my burger thinking how unremarkable the little burger appeared in my large hands.

1:14. 30 secs. p.m. - The soft bun, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayonnaise, and two meat patties ignite a flavor explosion in my mouth forcing me to think out loud,

"THAT IS A GOOD HAMBURGER!"

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Mac's Drive Thru.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Steak and Shake, 13th St.

Steakburger, $, attention to detail winners here

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

It's lunchtime and I am standing in the parking lot of Gainesville's 49 year-old hamburger stand.

Sshake13thThis burger palace has singles, doubles, and triple hamburgers and like all the other burger shops in town they think their burger is special, and different from the other hamburgers in the Urban GLOB.

 

SSdiningAREA

I'm a sucker for presentation and there is a lot of it here with a distinct advertising look, and an atmospheric style that takes you back in time to another era of drive-in hamburger stands, the appearance of white, starched server uniforms, and a customer friendly attitude that separates them from their competition.

They do make a good hamburger. They call them steakburgers here. This burger patty does taste a little better than the usual burger patty you will find at other hamburger joints.

Plus they serve a shoe string french fry that is unique, crispy and very tasty.

There are only two of these burger restaurants in G'ville so this franchise has passed the GLOB rule of no more that two store fronts allowed to be included in the GLOB.

 

jalapenoNot only that the burger gets an 'A' for taste and price. They also promote one of the cheaper lunch specials by selling four different hamburgers and fries combo for four dollars.  I got change back from my eight dollars when I ordered the Jalepeno Crunch Steakburger™, a Double Steakburger seasoned on our fiery hot grill with pepperjack cheese, chipotle mayo, fresh salsa and jalapenos, all topped with French's® French Fried Onions. Served with fries.  I happily state that it was the best, double cheeseburger I've had in a long time.  I tasted all jalapeno peppers, and this burger was spicy hot. 

The Jalpeno Crunch Steakburger™ was good.  I could taste the peppers, the pronounced flavor of the steakburger patty was recognizable, and was tastier than the garden variety hamburger patty.

 

SSHAKEmenu

Have you guessed I am talking about the Steak & Shake restaurant on SW13th St.?

I think this burger palace will be close to the top of the 'best burger list' for a long time.

Like a lot of franchises Streak & Shake has a lot of different entrees if steak burgers don't satisfy your lunchtime desires. They serve an excellent chili and also have the typical selection of salads, chicken sandwiches, classic melts and hot dogs.

The very clean, obviously old timey Steak and Shake themed dining area was a little much for me.

The manager was attentive to his customers, and he did stop by my table to inquire about me being a happy customer. The harried look on his face and the speed in which he moved around the dining area -- assisting in the necessary housekeeping tasks  -- was a good indicator of his intent in making sure his customers left with a happy lunch experience.

His effort is paying off.

I was pleased with this lunch stop and their fast, customer friendly service. I was able to casually read my USA TODAY while waiting for my lunch and was still able to be out of Steak and Shake's front door in 40 minutes. 

The Pluses and Minuses of Steak & Shake, SW 13th St.

Steak and Shake (+) indicators: Very tasty hamburger, excellent service, reasonably priced.

Steak and Shake (-) indicators: This was an excellent, quick lunch stop and a very good price. I can't think of any negatives at this time.

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

SSdiningAREA

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Relish

Innocuous would be a good word to describe the tiny lunch stop nestled between the Starbucks and the used record shop in downtown Gainesville. GIGANTIC is a better word to describe the double cheeseburger belly bombs the Relish hamburger stand serves to the burger fanatics that work/live downtown. I understand that 'have it your way' is a tired, worn out lunch time marketing slogan. Let tell you GLOBer the burger you're looking at above is dressed in lettuce, tomato, pickle, onions, mustard, chipotle sauce, and guacamole. More impressive is the relish lunch stop has 25 sauces, and 15 toppings! The burgers are cooked right in front of you. The servers behind the counter are friendly, professional and know how to use their spatulas like proven short-order chefs. If you haven't had one, you need to get one of these Relish hamburgers. Pssst . . . The customer in front of me put a fried egg on her burger and that looked REALLY good. The guac and the chipotle sauce are amazing!

Great hamburger, perfect fries nestled in UF Plaza

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

I've been by the 'Relish Big Tasty Burgers' lunch stop -- in UF Plaza across from the UF campus -- more than once thinking I should try a Relish hamburger.

I finally made it last week, and I was treated to an excellent hamburger. Actually, my burger was called the Double Tasty.

 

relishI'm going to call this Relish a Food on the Run lunch stop. Located in a long, narrow space next  door to the Pita Pit, there is just enough room for a narrow counter along the wall with stools for those interested in eating in. A food counter extends down the opposite wall, and customers move along the counter in a 'have it your way' lunch line.

My eating-early approach to lunch once again paid off. UF Plaza parking was available, plus I was first up to start the Relish lunch time lunch line.

This burger joint had two servers behind the counter. One at the beginning of the line took orders, and the second was in charge of 'protein patty processing.' This process worked for me, being first in line, in a very timely way. Then again, I don't see how just two staffers could successfully manage for an entire hour the feed a continuous line of customers hungry for hamburgers and fries.

I suffered from lunch-time newbie-itis. I wasn't aware that the lunch line process included a have-it-your-way component where I was to choose my burger toppings as I worked my way toward the end of the lunch line. I got an impatient look from Server One when he had to ask me several times what kind of sauce I wanted. There were 22 different sauces from avocado relish to wasabi aioli – and not in alphabetical order! There were also an unusual number of additional ingredients that you rarely see offered as additions to hamburgers, such as sprouts, pineapple, and black olives. This is a place where you REALLY could have it your way -- if you could ever make up your mind.  I felt newbie-like once again asking for plain old mayo, mustard and catsup.

I was feeling some angst for the cook. Can you imagine working over the grill while 8 -12 hamburger buns topped with every kind of sauce in the world are waiting behind you for the burgers you are coaxing along.

That said, I enjoyed watching my Relish Double Tasty burger being cooked right before my eyes.

The Relish menu is straightforward. Lunch choices– "fresh, never frozen" -- are: Single, Double, or Triple Tasty Burger, Tasty Vegetarian, Half the Guilt (1 beef patty and 1 veggie patty), and Tasty Chicken Sandwich, a 1/4 lb. kosher hot dog called the Big Tasty Dawg.

Sides: The Relish French fries are excellent--thick cut fries that tasted, well, fresh, not frozen.

 

Rburger400The Tasty Burger is the Relish star. My double burger was full of the distinct flavors of pickle, tomato, mustard, mayo, and ketchup that I personally selected, which were the perfect complement to each other. Perhaps it was because I was first in this fast casual assembly line, but the freshness and flavor of the patty took me over the top in hamburger bliss.  That is a Relish triple burger pictured at right.

Relish has combos involving various combinations of fries, potato chips, salads, and drinks that will enhance your burger experience for an additional $2 or $3. Cold beer is also available as part of a combo for an additional $1.29.

I like the idea of Relish as a handy FOTR location. Unfortunately it might literally be a Food On The Run lunch because the limited number of UF Plaza parking spaces could easily put the kibosh on Relish lunch plans.

The Pluses and Minuses of Relish:

Relish (+) indicators: Excellent hamburgers and French fries.

Relish (-) indicators: Location, location, location. At busy times service can slow down considerably and access could be impossible.

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

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Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille

Lunch entree makes sharing lunch fun

This lunch at long time favorite Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille was a special lunch compensating for Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Image editor Erica Corbett missing the GLOB's holiday lunch and we were excited about taking advantage of the Harry's holiday menu and exchanging Christmas gifts.

This special lunch had me asking the question do you think it is the creative bones in my body that causes me to smile with delight when I am presented a beautiful plate of food?

ERICAmugshotThanks to a customer friendly Harry's server Jean Marie Erica and I were sharing this special lunch and when we our salad entree arrived beautifully divided into two portion we were happily surprised and impressed. Harry's Server Jean Marie's presentation of our salads the perfect touch to the start of a fabulous lunch.

The fresh crunchy – obvious big enough for two - salad ingredients are highlighted the by bright, colorful salad greens decorated with julienned carrots, and plump cherry tomatoes ffor this evenly shared lunch entree. Image at the top of this review.

 

HARRYSxmasPLATE

That said the mammoth plate of Harry's Holiday Trio of food consisting of grilled filet medallions topped with fried lobster and shrimp. th plate was accented with New Orleans sherry cream sauce and accompanied with classic smashed potatoes and green beans. The entrée looked so delicious on one plate Erica offered up a smart suggestion.

"We don't have to have this split up do we," Erica asked reaching for a perfectly cooked, fried golden brown shrimp off of the plate between us.

"That filet is really tender and flavorful," I said between bites dipping my protein into the the sherry sauce. The combination of fried seafood and steak covered with the sherry sauce was an equally impressive presentation of delicious mid-day lunch time offerings. The fresh green beans are extremely crisp and crunchy. The side order of collard greens were fresh with a slight taste of the veggies broth – pot liquor to the southern GLOBers.

 

HolidayENTREE

Being a major fan of fried food the lobster and shrimp elements of our lunch were scrumptious bringing back memories of back home all-you-can-eat fried shrimp dinners.

It was fun discovering the yummy bites flavor surprises with Erica while discussing the events of the holiday season and her trek to Colorado for the holidays.

Our lunch was a perfect way for two foodies to revel in the here and now of lunch, friendship and amazing lunchtime delicacies. Even though we were sharing an entrée, Erica still had enough food for a very nice leftover plate of steak, shrimp and lobster covered in sherry sauce.

Kudos to Harry's and their delicious seasonal menus. I get more than a little excited thinking about what could be in store for the upcoming 2019 Mardi Gras menu.

Les Bons Temps Rouler!

- Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

 

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Harrys480

My salad was excellent, but that cheeseburger

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

harrysstorefrontHave you ever considered the fact some lunch outers in other places in the world have never eaten hamburgers.

This is the kinds of topic I was thinking about eyeing long time GLOBer, even longer time owner of GT Motorcars, and good friend Bob Sturm after I suggested he try the Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill every Wednesday Hamburger Special with your choice of French, Fries, cole slaw, or the vegetable of the day ($8.99).

Bob's burger was one of the better looking cheeseburgers I have seen in some time I was thinking to myself as the server served me a beautifully presented Harry's Garden Salad with Blacked Mahi, bleu cheese and bacon crumbles -or- feta cheese and sun dried cranberries ($9.50).

zzGLOBbullet I need to repeat myself here GLOBers. I don't think I have ever seen a better looking hamburger . . .

zzGLOBbullet This is a good example why -- for the GLOB Master -- sometimes lunch is all about the facts ma'am:

zzGLOBbullet Look at my food, lunch, not what other people eat.

Think about how I have successfully managed to change my diet for the better in so many ways.

I love the way the cheese has coated the onion, running done the side of the. . . oh, sorry. I never said this diabetes adventure was easy you know.

Harry's does make an excellent salad. Actually they create six different salads.

 

HARRYSsalad062018

I smile seeing the way they have partitioned, categorized my salad ingredients on my plate ready for me to mix them together as I choose. Plus I feel incredibly hip, smart, healthy, about adding the all white meat fish filet to my salad. Were you aware do the fact that eating fish may Increase grey matter in the brain and protect it from age-related deterioration.

My Garden salad was, as always, spectacular and always delicious. The crunch of the carrots, cucumbers, onions, combined with the tasty goo of the tomato melded nicely with the fresh, crunchy greens and feta cheese. There is a complete Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille menu at the bottom of this page.

Speaking of eating healthy I had a good discussion with my doctor(s) recently about whether a blood sugar spike that starts at 300 and spikes to 490 on the blood glucose monitor was worse than spike that started at 100 and spiked to 290 on the blood glucose monitor.

"Oh, blood sugar spikes into the 450-500 range can result in long term damage to your body in many ways," the doctor said. "Not so much with spikes at the lower ranges of the scale," the doctor added.

So my next test is to enjoy a Harry's Burger when my blood sugar is at the 100 mark. . . I think to myself thinking maybe I could still talk GT Bob into sharing his wonderfully yummy looking lunchtime cheeseburger prize.

HARRYSburgerFRIES062018

 

Harry’s: A long time personal favorite

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille has been one of my favorite restaurants for a very long time.

There I've said it.  I'm staring at the horns of a dilemma here.

Dilemma

When I started this blog idea, my objective was to be journalistically correct by being impartial, fair, and objective about the restaurants I write about.

I can't do that in this GLOB entry -- I enjoy Harry's and the zillion of memories floating around the great old historic building in downtown Gainesville where Harry's lives.

All right, so I go to Harry's a lot. I go so often I'm surprised there isn't a seat emblazoned with 'Mike Sanford, Favorite Customer'. And there are many good reasons why Harry's is at the top of my list.

 

OsandwichHoriz

At Harry's they fry their seafood just like my daddy did -- using an egg wash so the cracker meal and spices create a light coating on the shrimp, oysters and fish. The result is a lightly crusted, golden brown, supremely tasty morsel from the sea that makes me smile just thinking about it.

For the late lunch GLOBers there is a Happy Hour special every day from 2:00-7:00 p.m. with drink specials and an early bird menu. In this professional's eaters point-of-view, there are no better chicken wings in town. 

When you order their chicken wings, tell them you want them the Mike Sanford way: blackened, extra crispy, tossed in hot sauce. You can't beat 'em.

 

harrysstorefront

An important plus at Harry's is a staff of customer friendly folks that make you feel special. They are attentive, and supremely professional. Jessica, Collin, Kelly and Ami always make me feel welcome.

Remember the TV theme song that had the line, 'Every one knows your name?' Well people are not just names at Harry's. Long time patrons Bob and Jane, The two Pams -- either one of them --, the Alachua County government I T guys, a professor here, professional there, are all nice people with interesting opinions they like to share.

So do you see my dilemma?

Everything about Harry's makes me smile. How do I hide that glee in a shroud of objectivity and impartiality when I'm trying to convey to you what I think is a very special place for lunch?

 

HarrysDglobBURGER 

The Harry's Seafood Bar and Grille 'Harry's Style' burger with bacon, caramelized onions, mushrooms, jack & cheddar cheeses is a really good hamburger. Nestled next to French fries the Harry's Burger fills your lunch plate with an extra large patty of excellent ground chuck is strategically embedded in the organized chaos of the juicy, savory flavors of bacon, onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce, mustard and catsup. This burger is so good that you don't mind the burger's juices and gooey goodness dripping onto your fingers. However I do try to remember, from time to time, to make sure I'm not wearing burger condiments on my shirt after lunch. One of the GLOB Master's better after lunch lines is pointing at the giant mustard stain on my shirt and remark, "I am saving that for a snack later . . ."

- Mike Sanford, GLOB Edior

The Pluses and Minuses of Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille:

The Harry's + indicators: Did I mention the great blues and Cajun music that adds to Harry's New Orleans ambiance? It makes a trip to the rest room feel like walking into the largest set of walk-in head phones around. It's a perfect Harry's moment for me when I go to the restroom only to hear 'I love you baby, like my dog loves meat' is playing. Yep, that's one more thing that makes me smile about Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille.

The Harry's -  indicators:  Like all of the down town restaurants and shops there aren't any parking spaces available because all the worker ants fill the parking spaces up at 8:00 in the morning and never give them up . . .

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

 

 061918Crabmeat

070117HARRYSnapoleanThe GLOB Master has a new friend that is the perfect theater partner. Ms. Kristina Steinfeldt is a research coordinator and has the note taking, recording of information down to a science GLOBers. (Eat your heart out, Ron Cunningham.) More importantly we have now established a routine of after show eats and discussion at Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille. It might be hard to believe, but I'm thinking Kristina could be a bigger fan of Harry's than the GLOB Master. While I'm not really sure that's true, I do know she is seriously in love with the Harry's Crab & Eggplant Napoleon appetizer ($9.99). And what's not to like about that? You have panko-crusted eggplant stacked with layers of crab meat topped with parmesan basil cream sauce. (Psst: That sauce would make a plate of neck bones delicious.) I'm thinking if parents would introduce their children to this eggplant entrée, there would never be a problem with the "EAT YOUR VEGETABLES" routine. This amazingly scrumptious Harry's Starter is big enough to share, which makes the extra large price more palatable. Plus the plump pieces of fresh crab and tender morsels of eggplant immersed in the parmesan basil cream sauce create a meal fit for the last day on earth.

- GLOB Master

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Ballyhoo Grill

Seafood, black beans & rice get high marks

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

ballyhoosSFThe Ballyhoo Grill on Newberry Rd. is a popular lunch spot that I should have featured before now for many reasons:

zzGLOBbullet  Ballyhoo's has an excellent patio for dining, music, conversation and lunch outings when the climate gets cooler.

zzGLOBbullet  They have a varied menu of seafood, sandwiches, hamburgers and pasta entrees.

zzGLOBbullet  Ballyhoo's has the only Tim TREEbow ever created.

Ballyhoo's island get away theme works throughout this friendly, fun restaurant.

I have spent most off my adult life thinking tacos are those crispy, crunchy, deep fried corn meal shells that contain ground beef, lettuce, cheese, onions and Mexican hot sauce. YUM!!

BallyHooTacosJANUARYI recently discovered the wonders of what tacos can really be.

Shrimp. Fish. Duck. My Latin American food pyramid foundation has been shaken with the discovery of the wonderful proteins that a corn tortilla can be wrapped around.

Ballyhoo's shrimp tacos are very good, very large, and very flavorful.

You know about the good angel and the bad devil that sit on your shoulders when its time to make a decision? These lunch partners show up when the server asks, "And what will your side dish be?"

In my case, the devil screams "FRENCH FRIES" and usually wins the debate.

Like my mother used to do, the angel looks at me, hands on her hips, tapping her toe, expecting the correct answer.

"I think I want to try the black beans and yellow rice today," I tell Courtney, our server.

TimTreebow"Good choice," Courtney says nodding her head in agreement with my selection as I sit up straighter enjoying doing the right thing.

Ballyhoo's blackened shrimp tacos were top shelf, prize-winning lunch time entrees. I will be back to order those beauties again.

The best thing I ate at Ballyhoo's this lunch time, however, was the black beans and yellow rice.

There's a Maria Muldaur tune titled, 'It Ain't the Meat, It's the Motion', that I will paraphrase when I say, "It ain't the beans, it's what you cook them in" that makes them wonderful.

Ballyhoo's black beans are some of the tastiest beans I have had in some time. The island spices included in the cooking broth create a fresh, bright, flavorful back drop to these yummy black pods of protein.

There is a birthday club at Ballyhoo's that you should join -- Members receive a free lobster on their birthday.

Not to be outdone by all the deals and offers of the Archer Rd. franchise restaurant establishments, Ballyhoo's has four different food challenges: fish, pork, hamburger, and hot dogs. Click the restaurant web link below this feature for more food challenge information.

Ballyhoo's was a great lunch stop. I became an unofficial Red Hat BhoosPatioSociety member. I reaffirmed my love for fish and shrimp tacos. I have discovered what I think might be some of the best black beans in the Urban GLOB.

I'm going back to Ballyhoos!

 

 

BallyHTOPPER

BallyhoosGuac3

I was meeting good friendKate Valdovinos for lunch at Ballyhoo Grill.  I was excited about ordering the Ballyhoo guacamole that is made at your lunch table.   You can't get any fresher than that. Courtney, our server, was adept at combining the cilantro, onions, herbs, garlic, lime juice and tomatoes into a BallyhooSaladcreamy, chunky, very tasty green conglomeration of goodness.  Avocados are one of the GLOB Master's favorite food and this guac was delicious.  Since this was my first face-to-face meeting with Kate I applaud myself for not eating all of the guacamole.  The guac was very good, and made a very nice additional topping to the shrimp tacos mentioned below.  BTW Kate V. is the Editor of Kate's Salad Blog, and you can read her assessment of her Ballyhoo lunch salad on her blog.

The Pluses and Minuses of Ballyhoo Grill:

Ballyhoo Grill + indicators: Excellent seafood, extraordinary black bean.

Ballyhoo Grill - indicators: I was disappointed it was too hot to sit outside on the patio.

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

TimTreebow

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Texas Roadhouse

Saddle up, satiate your Texas-size cravings

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

texasroadhouseWhen figuring out where to dine out, I love exploring the exotic cuisine or hole-in-the-wall joint that incorporates the best local produce/meat/you-name-it with any dish. However, when you're trying to catch a movie with your "hangry" (hungry + angry) friend and you have barely over an hour to spare, you choose convenience. Texas Roadhouse at 3830 SW Archer Rd. was just close enough to the 35th St. movie theatre in Butler Plaza to fit the bill.

TRboyfriendI thought, "A family establishment like this one is always busy, and we are on a time crunch." But as my friend Thomas, image right, parked the car, I followed the wafting aroma of warm, sweet bread rolls to a table without delay. And oh, that sweet cinnamon butter that accompanies those rolls: Let's just say if I could eat anything without worry, I would have devoured nothing but those rolls all night.

Anyway, despite an immediate decision to order a Razzlesnake margarita the size of my face, the meal choice for this food adventurer was not as easy. Described on the Texas Roadhouse website as a "legendary steak restaurant" (seems like a bit of a high claim, but I let it go), the instinctive choice should be steak. Thomas followed suit of that claim-to-fame, but I was stumped. I do love a good steak, but unless I got a smaller, less-choice cut of meat, I was looking to shell out at least $15. I've also had the steak there before, and while tender and typically cooked to my liking, I prefer a home-cooked steak. Nothing personal, Texas Roadhouse.

I ended up ordering the Portobello Mushroom Chicken with a side Caesar salad and sweet potato, image at top of this feature. After a prompt food delivery to the table, intersected with water refills and multiple "Is everything to your liking?" inquiries by the server, we somewhat quickly dined on our meals.

 

TRsteakTOPPERThomas happily finished his mushroom-covered steak with a side of corn and Caesar salad, but my portobello and gravy-covered chicken wasn't exactly my favorite. I like a more simplistic and styled approach to meals, so having chicken smothered in sauce was not my idea of that. Also, for an enjoyable dining experience, I don't equate bigger with better, and there was a lot of chicken and sauce on the plate. Nevertheless, the chicken was moist with a slight smoky aftertaste from grilling, which gave me a comforting sense of being at a family barbeque. Although I do love that cinnamon butter, the sweet potato was drowning in it, unfortunately, and the potato skin was a bit charred.

 

TRsaladMenu items, such as Tater Skins, Country Fried Chicken and Rattlesnake Bites, led me to believe that this restaurant was all country at heart, but it is not particularly original. The service, however, is always friendly and prompt, and the food has always been prepared relatively well, even if it is not the most unique. Also, you can throw peanut shells on the floor, and we were only 5 minutes late to the movie, so I really can't complain.

The Pluses and Minuses of Texas Roadhouse:

Texas Roadhouse PLUS (+) indicators: Tasty food, friendly and speedy service, addictive bread rolls.

Texas RoadhouseMINUS (-) indicators: A standard steakhouse experience (this may be a "pro" for some)

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

https://www.gatorglob.com/food-by-type/item/138-texas-roadhouse

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Ruby Tuesday

Ruby T is not your everyday big box lunch

By Jon Roosenraad, GLOB Historian

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dr. Jon Roosenraad is a University of Florida Professor Emeritus of Journalism. Dr. Jon loves sports, a good cigar, and the smart economy of a cheap, tasty lunch special.

"She would never say where she came from."

RubyTuesdayNewberryRdWell, Ruby Tuesday, located in the Oaks Mall, came from Knoxville in 1972 when four U of Tennessee frat boys put together $20,000 to open a restaurant across from campus.

"Who could hang a name on you?"

The name was taken from the Rolling Stones song of the same name, which appeared on the RTwindowalbum "Between the Buttons" in 1967. Apparently none of the frat boys had a girlfriend named Ruby.

"Don't question why she needs to be so free."

In the company's initial years, the chain located itself in or near malls (as the one here is) but in the 1990s they included more freestanding locations. The plan has worked:  There are now 850 Ruby Tuesdays in 47 states and 15 foreign countries, including one I've eaten at in London.

"She just can't be chained to a life where nothings gained."

Ruby Tuesday (RT) is obviously part of a chain but somehow it has a different feel from similar "big box" lunch places along Archer Road. It has more the feel of a neighborhood bar-and-grill, such as the Red Onion Grill. It's a little more upscale in décor and wait staff. This was reflected in the mainly "over age 50" customers eating there last week. (Hey, in a college town, maybe NOT having a bunch of 18- to 24-year-olds around is a good thing!)

RTmyLUNCHRT's lunch menu is very value-priced with most items between $8 and $10 and includes fish and other seafood, chicken, and pasta dishes. Salads are available, and there is a wide range of burgers to match any taste. The GLOB Master went for a Buffalo Chicken Burger, which he pronounced excellent and came with onion rings instead of fries at no extra cost. (Why do places do that? Are onions more expensive than potatoes?)

RTRosey'ssaladI'm a big fan of their "Minis & Garden Bar" selections – two beef, turkey, buffalo chicken or zucchini cake minis with fries and a trip to the wonderful salad bar, certainly one of the best stocked and freshest looking garden greens and veggie troughs in town and VERY popular with maybe two-thirds of those lunching there.

RTroseysLUNCH"There's no time to lose, I heard her say. Catch your dreams before they slip away."

Don't waste any time try RT's Sunday brunch, which begins at 10 am.  Featured is a three-course meal that starts with cheese biscuits that tie those at Red Lobster as the best anywhere. Next is a yogurt parfait with fruit that I always save for desert. The "third course" has traditional brunch items of steak and eggs, French toast, egg benedicts, quesadillas, omelets (go for the Crabacado that has just what it sounds like in it) and even crepes. Start the meal with a Cajun Mary – a bloody one on the spicy side.  A complete Ruby Tuesday's menu is available at the restaurnt link below.

RTmenu"Yesterday don't matter if it's gone."

WRONG, it would matter a lot if Ruby Tuesday left town. That would be like a world without Mick and the boys, the greatest rock and roll band of all time.  RT has a wide range of lunch choices that are reasonably priced, served in a pleasant setting, and highly recommended by me.

The Pluses and Minuses of Ruby Tuesday's

Ruby Tuesday's + Indicators: Excellent burgers, ever changing and tasty petite lunch specials, quality salad bar, good prices.

Ruby Tuesday's  – Indicators: Well at least it's not on Archer Road but traffic at the Oaks/North Florida area is pretty bad also. Another reason to visit on a Sunday.

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

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TGI Fridays

Lunch stop is good any day of the week

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

TGFridaysThere are defined categories of restaurants, from sports bars to Mexican establishments and so on.  Probably based on the sole fact that it doesn’t, in my opinion, fit into just one of those restaurant categories, TGI Friday’s is the one place that typically slips my mind when deciding where to dine out, It’s not usually the place I’d turn to for sports-watching. It doesn’t come to mind when I want a classic American hamburger. But I think I may have misunderstood, or perhaps underestimated, Friday’s appeal.

I was headed to Gainesville's Ale House for a football game-watching experience when the overstuffed restaurant was no longer an option due to the 15(!) groups of patrons ahead of me waiting to be seated. Where could I go that would have the accoutrements of a sports restaurant — namely multiple, tuned-in televisions and cold beer on tap — with decent food? TGI Friday’s, 3598 SW Archer Rd., was nearby, and with multiple tables open, I was ready to give it a shot.


TGIFsaladI feel bad in saying this, but I completely forgot that Fridays has, ya know, everything and more on the menu. With half-priced appetizers at various times, the 2 for $10 and 2 for $20 appetizer/entrée deal, and specials almost every day of the week, I was pleasantly surprised.

A pint of Bud Light was $3: sold. There were snack-specific menu items meeting my current desire: check. And my dining buddies could get a sandwich, and a side for under $10. Not to mention that we were surrounded with flat screens and other screaming football fans. The warm pretzels with craft beer-cheese dipping sauce pretty much leapt off the menu and onto the table as a starter, and they were just as appealing in person as on the menu, which, from my experience, has not always been the case (cue every fast food restaurant commercial of a burger). Despite the appeal of two of my favorite items, cheese and beer,  I was not a fan of the cheese sauce -- it tasted a bit unnatural.  The crispy, garlic-sprinkled outer pretzel layer that led to the warm doughy insides on first bite was a delight.



TGIFburgerI was in my game time snack-mode, so a side of sweet potato fries hit the spot, but my dining pals each ordered a meal. As part of the 2 for $10 deal, Amanda chose a plain cheeseburger and fries with the fried mozzarella starter. Again, as a favored food item, cheese, and in this case with a crispy fried coating, usually wows. I especially appreciated how the burger patty was adequately thick, and the fries were warm and somewhat fluffy (photo).



TGIFsandwich400Having a love of rye bread — really just bread in general — this food adventurer has been more taken by a well-crafted deli sandwich than a burger. So when Alyssa needed some help deciding on a menu item to order, the Triple Stack Reuben with all the fixings was one that I, somewhat selfishly, urged her to order. Three slices of bread, a heaping helping of corned beef brisket lining every inch of the sandwich innards, caramelized onions, sauerkraut, sauce, and Swiss cheese oozing from the sides of the sandwich confines created a multitude of flavor sensations. The subtle sweet notes of the onions and the sour sauerkraut created a symbiotic relationship with the other ingredients to make a pretty decent deli sandwich. Note: I am somewhat of a deli sandwich snob, so this is relatively high praise.

It wasn’t until other football fans caught on to the dining haven and the tables filled up that the experience took a turn for the worst. The service became ridiculously slow. Our server was apologetic when it took an unbelievable 30 minutes to bring our checks after requesting them, but also my $3 beer took 20 minutes to be delivered to the table and was $4 on the bill.

Aside from the service problems, the food was not bad, and the pictures on the menu make me want to go back for more. Next time: the Jack Daniels burger, out of sheer curiosity and intrigue. And apparently, in there, “It’s always Friday.”

The Pluses and Minuses of TGI Fridays:

TGI Fridays ( +) indicators: Varied menu items, good food, great advertised menu items and specials, open late (until 2 a.m.)

TGI Fridays ( - ) indicators: Very slow service, bill mistakes

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Swamp Restaurant

Great food, different game at this Swamp

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor Emeritus

I hadn't been to The Swamp on University Avenue across from campus in quite awhile. My previous experiences had generally been good and, on rare occasions, either very good or mediocre – never bad. I have had some great soup there, and I love soup! So it was time to check it out again with the GLOB Master on a leisurely Sunday afternoon

SwampNot surprisingly considering the location, The Swamp CAN be extremely busy, usually on weekend nights. You've probably driven by, just like me, and seen the people practically spilling out onto the sidewalk and been glad you weren't there. Sunday afternoons, though, are usually perfect. If the weather is nice, the front patio or the upstairs porch are great places to sit. Sitting on the patio, for some reason, once again probably due to the day of the week and time of day we were there, University Avenue traffic did not seem intrusive. But if traffic is very heavy when you are there, eating inside would be a good choice too. It is airy and full of light and has a homey feel with wooden floors.

When I said "leisurely" Sunday, I had an ulterior motive in mind. I wanted to sneak in a game of Bananagramsbefore lunch came. For those who don't know, Bananagrams is similar to Scrabble but so much better in at least seven ways. The eighth way might be that is the perfect way to fill the time between ordering and serving when you go out to eat. Now, Banangrams is certainly faster than Scrabble but it's not a 15-minute game either. As it turned out, we got close to the end of the game before our food arrived, so the service might have been little slow. That might have been due to the kitchen, however, because Leslie, our server was very friendly and attentive. She made me happy by asking about the game, and I got to spread the word about BG one person further.

 

swamp1

When our food came, we pushed away the game. We had ordered the Turkey Artichoke Panini and a "Pick-it" Fence Angus Beef Burger. As usual, we split our meals, and in this case, both of us were very satisfied with both dishes:

zzGLOBbullet The panini bread was crispy, the turkey very tender, and the swiss cheese melted perfectly. The spinach-artichoke spread gave the sandwich a distinct, tartness that enhanced the sharp swiss flavor and the turkey kept all that flavor from going over the top.

zzGLOBbullet SWAMPsandwichesThe hamburger was very juicy and the grilled beef flavor was spot on like a good hamburger should be. Swamp "Pick-It" Burgers (a nod to the Swamp's very nice white picket fence) come with lettuce, tomato, and onion, and you can pick extra toppings for 75 cents each. It was hard to resist some of those toppings – brie, grilled peppers, avocado mayo, pineapple. But we decided on only one addition: the poblano aioli. It did not necessarily make you notice it, but at some point we both remembered there was supposed to be a special topping. When I turned my attention to it, I noticed it right away and it was pleasing. Maybe that means it could have had a stronger poblano flavor or maybe that means that it just blended perfectly with the very dominant grilled beef flavor. Either way, as mentioned, we were both happy with the burger.

OK, so what IS Bananagrams? It is similar to Scrabble in that you create a grid by putting together words with letter tiles in horizontal or vertical fashion, BUT players create their own grids simultaneously. The winner of a round of BG is the person who uses the last tile from the letter pool. It is AT LEAST 6 times better than Scrabble because: (1) no board, (2) no scoring, (3) no need for scoring utensils, (4) no need to ruin a good word to assure that you get on a double or triple word or letter square, (5) no waiting on someone else to make up his or her mind, (6) you can "reconstruct" words and change your own grid at any time, and (7) there are different ways to play the game, like you can decide the words have to be at least 3 letters or 5 letters (that is hard!!). OK, you might say items 2-4 are all the same. If so, that's a measure of how frustrated I can get when I play Scrabble.

So, now that you know, you should run out and get Bananagrams (available at Books-a-Million or Walgreens) and take it with you when you have a leisurely weekend lunch. It's the perfect appetizer!  You can also play Bananagrams online on face book if you have a Facebook account, and there is also an app for your iPHONE.

The Pluses and Minuses of The Swamp:

The Swamp (+) indicators: Consistently good food and great ambience whether indoors or out, at least when it's not crowded.

The Swamp (-) indicators: Service might be slow, but if you have a game of Bananagrams, who cares!?

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

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Sandy's Place

Ugly American's take on 'home style melting pot'

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

sandysplace

While eating Greek pita sandwich lunch at Sandy's Place it occurred to me that I was having lunch in the melting pot of the GLOB.

The menu says there are specials for hungry Americans who like it home-style. But I'm wondering if there are specials for Italian customers and Greek cuisine fans because, as I sit at this cozy little bar and grill at 5001 NW 34 St, close to the YMCA, I'm looking at the menu and seeing a lot of tasty-sounding candidates for ethnic specials on Sandy's menu: Eggplant parmesan, chicken scampi, and shrimp santorini for the Italian cuisine customers. Veggie gyros and pork souvlaki (entre or sandwich) for the Greek connoisseurs

The Sandy's special board featured a two chop pork chop special that caught my attention, buy it was a little pricey at $9.95.  Looking further down on the menu I noticed a Pork Souvlaki Sandwich $5.95 that included French Fries.  I was pleased with this menu discovery thinking my mid-day meal was taking on a worldly Greece and France look.  They are called FRENCH FRIES correct?

Now, I'm not into ethnic profiling, but I was hoping the other customers in Sandy's were enjoying their Italian and Greek lunches as much as I was enjoying my P S  sandwich that consisted of char-broiled, marinated pork pieces served with onions, lettuce, tomato and a "special Tzatziki sauce."

 

PorkSandwichFLOPPED

PS, this Souvlaki Sandwich had larger than expected chunks of 'the other white meat' that were very tasty pork nuggets of my favorite red meat, er uh, protein.  The sadwiches's pita bread was soft, chewey and added much to the worldliness of my lunch.

In addition to all American classics and exotic ethnic dishes, Sandy's also includes the usual sandwiches, burgers, subs, and cheese steaks familiar to bar and grill lunch protocols. There are also 8 different salads to choose from, a kids menu, and an extensive list of appetizers guaranteed to please.  There is a Sandy's Place menu link below this feature.

Phew, that is an extensive list of lunch options. My suggestion is, if you are the experimenting kind of lunch outer, Sandy's Place is the opportunity for you to be bold and break out of your lunch box and try something different from your every day nationalized cuisine. BTW, a friend of mine says the Sandy's Place eggplant Parmesan, which is served with linguine is very good.

The Pluses and Minuses of Sandy's Place.

Sandy's Place (+) indicators: Great selection of different kinds of lunch cuisine under one roof and prepared nicely.

Sandy's Place (-) indicators: This nuts and bolts lunch spot is not big on presentation or ambiance.

 

GrapeLeaves

SpinachPieMy lunch mate for this Sandy's adventure is a big believer of Meatless Monday. In fact, if she had her way, she would try harder to go meatless every day. Since we we lunching out in this lunch stop that specializes in Greek food, stuffed grapeleaves (above) and spinach pie (right) were ringing her lunchtme chimes. The Sandy's Spinach Pie was the winner with the distinctive flavor of spinach intermingled with flaky pie crust. The stuffed grapeleaves were presented with a traditional Greek salad including spicy peppers and black olives. The salad was very good. The grapeleaves included an earthy, unrecognizable spice--or perhaps the musty flavor was in fact the taste of the grapeleaves themselves. If you want meat Greek style, Sandy's chicken or pork souvlaki is fantastic.

- GLOB Master

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

sandysplace

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