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Falafel King

Falafel lunch creates happy Lunchouter!

By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Staffer Emeritus

I LOVE falafel, so I was quite excited to be in the neighborhood of Falafel King this past week at lunch time. I have been there a few times already but it had been a LONG time since my last visit. Why? Certainly not the food! They have fantastic food. When I walked in with my friend, who had never been there, it smelled heavenly – warm rich mid-eastern spices.

The Middle Eastern man who took our order appeared to be the owner. My friend conversed with him and learned he was from Lebanon and asked if he would open a restaurant on the east side of town, but apparently he had been there, done that, and, sadly, was happy where he was.

falafelkingI wanted falafel - those wonderful bundles of mashed chick peas green with crushed parsley.  My friend saw Turkish coffee on the menu and excitedly placed an order.  We decided to split a Greek salad, a falafel platter, and baklava for dessert with Turkish coffee. 

The platter was 2 large falafel balls with tahini sauce, tabouleh, hummus, and soft pita bread--all delicious and done perfectly. Falafel is usually fried, but FK bakes theirs. The tahini sauce was the perfect consistency. The tabouleh was loaded with parsley that was still recognizable. I was so focused on the falafel, I have to admit I wasn't paying attention to the quality of the hummus.  If it were mediocre or not as good as the rest of the food I probably would have noticed, so let's just say it is equal to the other food.

There are several different types of baklava and we picked the pistaschio. Perfect!  And was elevated even further by the coffee.  I am not an expresso person - even regular coffee can be bitter to me.  The Turkish coffee was served in a small pitcher so I thought, "Uh oh - expresso."  But it was amazingly smooth and very good - and without cream.  No doubt the baklava helped.  In my experience, coffee is the only drink where the flavor improves by several magnitudes when it is taken with food.  It's a strange but welcome experience. 

The ambience is sunny and airy – and there are some very inviting pictures of the Middle East on the walls, but, really, it IS a fast food restaurant. Sure enough, the food is served on styrofoam or paper. That was actually good because even though we were sharing, my friend wasn't able to finish her half (it wasn't the food -- she eats like a bird!) and we already had the means to take it with us.

The next things I want to try at Falafel King are the grape leaves, which are apparently vegetarian -- stuffed with rice and spices -- and the vegetarian kibbi, mashed potatoes mixed with crushed wheat, parsley, onions, and FK's special spices and then baked and topped with tahini sauce.

I do wish that Falafel King would come back to the east side of town. I could eat FK falafel at least once a week. But the SW Archer Road location is discouraging for someone on the north side of NW 13th St. I love falafel, but I don't love traffic! As it is now, I go in a blue moon and I am sorry I don't go more often.

The Pluses and Minuses of Falafel King:

The + indicators :  The food is great AND healthy; take out is easy; reasonable prices

The - indicator: Archer Rd location

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

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Flaco's Cuban Bakery

RopaWhen I looked at GLOB Image Editor Erica Corbett's Flaco's Sunshine Bowl, and then my Flaco's Downtown Cuban Bakery Ropa Vieja Bowl, I think she got the better bowl. It was a rainy day in Hogtown, but when I started out my morning adventure the sky looked anything but foreboding. My plan was to run by Flaco's, pick up a couple of Food-On-The-Run lunch entrees for the GLOB's Image Editor and I. Thanks to the Florida climatic personality of intermittent rain showers, I was only held up a minute or two beneath a University Avenue overhang waiting for the 'serious' rain to slack off. The sporadic showers enabled me to quickly walk the 8 or so blocks to Erica's office and enjoy our lunch hour. The tightly packed aluminum tins holding the noon-day meal did a fine job of keeping all the elements heated, crisp, and very tasty. According to the menu, "Bowls are a nice portion of your staple with rice, lentils or black beans and plantains/sunshine." You can choose a protein with your bowl, and Ms. Corbett selected shredded chicken along with mixed veggies, tofu, plaintains, and lentils. Lentils. It never would have occurred to me to include lentils, and her bowl looked delicious partly because of the lentils. According to the World's Healthiest Foods website:

Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.

I opted for the Ropa Bowl, image above right, which was delicious with black beans, rice, plaintains and shredded beef, and seasoned well albeit a bit salty for my tastes. I felt smart not eating the bread that normally accompanies my Ropa Vieja sandwich. I have given up rice, which I really love, GLOBers. The rice and the sugar from the plaintain sent my blood sugar skyrocketing. The next time, I am getting the Sunshine Bowl. Not only did it look fabulous, but I would have received a gold star, and a pat on the head for being more nutritionally aware.

- Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

 

FLACOScubanSandwich

Say 'El Cubano', give me a Cuban Sandwich

zzGLOBbullet FOLLOW THIS LINK to another Flaco's feature

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

I was listening to some tunes Friday morning when Tom Russell's Cuban Sandwich song came on:

"It's got two kinds of pig meat both ham and roast pork
a slice of white cheese in the shape of New York
throw on a pickle and pick up a fork
say El CUBANO, that's a Cuban sandwich"

You guessed correctly. It was a Cuban sandwich lunch for me.

flacoswindowThere is a lot of good sandwich places in the GLOB that tout pressed Cuban sandwiches, and I have a eaten many a Cuban sandwich from different vendors here in the FLOB.

But when I think about getting that original Cuban flavor, pork roast and pressed bread it's a straight forward decision for me. (See lyrics above).

I know for a fact that Flaco's Cuban Bakery downtown adds a twist to their Cubans that really make it special for me. They call it sweet bread.

 

FLACOScubanSandwich

They use a special kind of Cuban bread baked special for Flaco's that is made with corn meal for the sandwich rolls. The sweetness of the corn flavor makes me smile, and become hungry, thinking about it.

I like the Cuban sandwich called the Media Noche. The M. Noche omits the ham and goes double on the roasted pork along with the standard cheese and dill pickle.  This toasted delight always makes my taste buds stand up tall with pleasure.

 

FlacoDINING

Flaco's is an interesting little place downtown. They have taken the utilitarian approach to customer friendly surroundings witha  small dining area of several unremarkable tables and a tiny TV perched high on the wall.  But that hasn't stopped the return of their regular customers. Flaco's is a special place to those GLOBers that have come to expect the quality of Flaco's Spanish cuisine.

They have a varied menu of sandwiches, plates and bowls of Spanish favorites including their specialty Ropa Vieja.

I like Flaco's style, The Flaco's menu I keep handy says a lot about this Cuban lunch, sandwich shop; "We're not the first place to serve Cuban coffee or Ropa Vieja and we're definitely not going to be the last but we're going to try our hardest to make it the best."

 

FlacoTOPPER600X700

Walking to Flaco's Cuban Bakery on University Avenue in downtown Gainesville, I was struggling with my Meatless Monday assignment. In the GLOB Master's opinion, the Flacos' Media Noche pressed sandwich is one of the better sandwiches in all of Gainesville and I am walking into the FCB and ordering something else for lunch. That wasn't making any sense to me. What makes the Media Noche so delicious is the sweeter variety of bread than the regular Cuban sandwich bread (typically a yellow egg bread). The Flaco's staffers were quick to mention they have a good list of veggie alternative sandwiches and would be happy to include black beans, rice, lentils or tempeh to any sandwich listed on their menu. That was a great idea and I ordered a Black Bean, Swiss Cheese, pickle and mustard alternative Media Noche. I included a side of fried plaintains in my Meatless Monday ALMOST Media Noche way-to-early to be an after-midnight sandwich. Lunch was excellent! The Cuban sweet bread turns any sandwich into a prize-winning lunchtime delight. The mild and flavorful chunky black beans combined with the gooey, melted Swiss cheese for a big mouthful of tasty flavor. Then I bit into the tart, sour flavor of a dill pickle and my entire lunch world was expanded exponentially by k to the 7th power (k = kosher). What a wonderful, startling tastebud surprise. The meaty, sweet, perfectly cooked plaintains were the perfect touch to an excellent Meatless Monday lunch.

- GLOB Master

The Pluses and Minuses of Flaco's Cuban Bakery:

The + indicators: Flaco's calls the tasty corn meal flour they use to make their Cuban rolls sweet bread. I call these very special Cuban sandwiches some of the best sandwiches in the Urban GLOB.  Flaco's now has a second bakery located in Midtown Gainesville.

The - indicators: Flaco's is downtown, if you're not walking to lunch you are probably reducing chances of visiting this very cool, extraordinarily tasty, downtown sandwich shop.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Flaco's Cuban 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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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.

MILLseverything

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.

MILLsalad

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.

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!

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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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Red Onion Grill

0814ROonionRINGS There is a majority agreement among the hamburger lovers I have heard from that the Red Onion's hamburgers should be on any list of best burgers in Hogtown. After eating the Red Onion Kickin' BBQ Cheddar Cheese Burger special, I want to be included in that group of happy burger eaters. Have you studied the layered mountain of topping delights that are included on this bigger-than-your-mouth belly bomb? On top of the patty covered with cheese you will find bacon, tomato, onion, onion rings, and a very spicy BBQ sauce that had enough kick to open the GLOB Master's eyes. The crunch factor of the onions rings and bacon offset with the gooey cheddar cheese and soft, fresh tomato. This burger is a winner. The R.O. has 6 different burgers on their menu including a turkey burger. My lunch was accompanied by a very nice plate of RO ORs. The onion rings were a little greasy for my lunch partners, but that didn't keep them from eating every last one of them.  BTW the 'Onion" is very Meatless Monday friendly including salads like the R O Brazilian Chop, and a veggie flat bread entree called the Fried Grilled Veggies. There is a Red Onion restaurant menu link at the bottom of this GLOB restaurant feature.

-GLOB Master

The 'Onion': A lunch stop that feels like home

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

The Red Onion Grill is the consummate neighborhood bar and grill.

RedOnionLocated in the Uptown Village apartment complex on NW 24th Blvd off of NW 39th Ave, The Red Onion possesses all the amenities that speak out to you: "Hi, come on in. Have a seat and relax."

This, coupled with excellent service, had me thinking the Onion could easily make my regular lunch rotation list. Plus, the Red Onion has an extensive menu. It has sections with clever titles: Small Bites for their appetizer list, Greens & Flats for salads and flat bread sandwiches, Plates for entrees, and Hand Held for a special entrees where I discovered the Reuben sandwich, and decided that would be lunch.

The Reuben's rye bread was grilled to perfection – nicely browned and not greasy. Thinly sliced, moist corned beef was piled very high and topped with very tasty sauerkraut – not too bitter and with a fresh taste -- and Thousand Island dressing that had me thinking this is the best sandwich I have had in recent memory. What a good sandwich!

My lunch partner selected the Brazilian Chop salad from the Greens & Flats menu and was equally pleased with her salad, which consisted of grilled corn, hearts of palm, tomato, avocado, black beans, cashews, and -- of course red onion. She noted that it was the best hearts of palm she had ever had and she had been to Cedar Key and had their famous heart of palm salad and didn't remember being as impressed with that as with the RO hearts.

Like my Reuben, the Brazil Chop salad was big enough for two to enjoy at lunch, and we did.

My lunch partner noted the décor was very nice including very interesting light fixtures that hung down and were red and then she realized they were like elongated red onions – a nice touch for a local place that represents the pride and care of the proprietors.

The Red Onion Grill is a keeper on my lunch list. The friendly environment is special and the food is very good, a combination making this lunch spot perfect.

AAsmallknifefork0311

ROlatinBURGER900During the inaugural GLOB FAB FIVE best hamburger adventure we received several comments from Red Onion Cafe fans about their hamburgers and that the Monday Hamburger & Beer special at Red Onion is one of the better hamburger specials in town. The GLOB Master and GLOB staffer Lynn Dirk made it to the Red Onion Monday to check out their burgers and to see what was so special about the beer & burger special.

The Red Onion has at least 7 regular burgers on their menu plus have two 'special burgers' on menu board for the Monday Special. This Monday the specials were a Caribbean Burger that included a very tasty jerk chicken salsa. The R.O. also offered a Breakfast Burger that included a fried egg, lettuce, tomato and bacon. I opted for the jerk hamburger, all the way with Pepper Jack Cheese and it was very good. I'm going back to try that breakfast burger though; it sounded delicious

ROtrukeyLynn selected the Turkey Burger, photo right, with black beans and corn salsa and commented that this salsa was a great combination with the turkey. Happily adhering to her new practice of local sustainability, she also selected a Swamphead Pale Ale for her free beer. We split our burgers so we could both taste the other's selection. I liked the turkey burger, if I hadn't already eaten my half of the Caribbean Burger, I would have thought I was eating a regular hamburger. A little on the dry side perhaps, but the burger was 100 % protein. Lynn thought the jerk spice tasted a little too much like the filet spice of gumbo rather than a Caribbean jerk flavor.

Red Onion fans are correct when they say you will find an excellent hamburger on NW 39th Ave. I agree. However I can't think of which of the GLOB's FAB FIVE hamburgers I would delete to make room for this tasty substitute. Does the RO turn the FAB FIVE into a FAB SIX, or -- is the R.O. Caribbean burger just another great hamburger waiting in the All-Star Hamburger dugout waiting to be eaten?

The Pluses and Minuses of the Red Onion Grill:

Red Onion (+) indicators: Friendly, inviting back drop for tasty morsels and excellent lunch ambience.

Red Onion(-) indicators: No negatives here!

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

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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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Paramount Grill Sunday Brunch

Plans had been made for a Paramount Grill Sunday Brunch for quite a few weeks. The PG's menu of excellent choices made decision-making very hard but eventually entrees were chosen. Gold stars go to the Crab Cake Benedict with lots of crab, plumtomatoes, roasted garlic and basil hollandaise, and gooey poached egg yolks over all, despite the curiosity of crab cakes sitting atop a slice of sourdough bread. The Chicken salad crepes with brie were a close second with tasty chunks of chicken over baby spinach, asparagus, and plum tomato salad tossed with fig vinaigrette and finished with walnuts. The thick slice of Almond Crusted French Toast served with fresh blueberries, raspberry coulis and sour cream was very good. Two friends took advantage of the all-you-can-drink mimosas. How good was our Sunday brunch?  Our plates were cleaned spotless, we had enjoyable extended conversation, and I'm going back!

- Mike Sanford, GLOB Master

A wonderful, 'old Gainesville' lunch experience

> Paramount Grill one of Gourmet magazine's best Valentine's Day dinners.

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

Would it surprise you to learn that the fine dining establishment, the Paramount Grill (PG) in downtown Gainesville, is serving up a sandwich at lunch?  It's an incredibly tasty, pressed sandwich called "Grilled Chicken with Havarti, Bacon, Plum Tomato, Organic Greens and Avocado with Garlic Aioli."

PmountPICThat's quite an inventory of ingredients combined in this toasted, pressed-to-perfection, melted cheese flavor extravaganza.

When it's my turn to suggest a lunch out spot to friends I am happy to pick the Paramount Grill because I like to think of the PG as one of my special lunchtime discoveries.

The Paramount Grill is a great friendly lunch gathering spot for your biz meeting. The tables are spaced out evenly enough that you don't feel like you're invading the space of lunch outters at the next table.

There is no sense of being in a hurry at the Paramount Grill. Located on a side street just off of Main St, the PG has a large front window with a great view looking out on one of the oldest streets in Gainesville. Directly across the street is a beautiful, red-brick rustic building that once housed what may have been the first hardware store in Gainesville (Rice Hardware, now American Apparel -- which retained the original well-worn wooden floor).

paramountstoresfYou can imagine yourself in a Gainesville from another era as you sit amidst a gracious decor at a table traditionally laid out with a white table cloth and cloth napkins, and an attentive, quick-to-please wait staff eagerly anticipates your needs.

The Paramount Grill lunch menu is an interesting variation of their dinner menu and features salads, soups, and wraps.

They have also included a nice collection of burgers, some veggie items, and a very nice assortment of special lunch entrees like Almond Encrusted Crab Cakes, Salmon Saute' with Portabello Mushrooms, and Pesto Roasted Chicken Roulade.

From the perspective of this professional eater, if you are looking to impress, to close a big business deal, or just to stop, step back, and take a breath away from every day madness, the Paramount Grill might very well be your designated destination.

So fellow GLOBers, if you are out to impress where's your best lunch out spot?

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It was the GLOB Master's birthday lunch with long-time UF Entomology and Nematology friends Kathy Milne and Jane Medley. As the birthday boy, the GLOB Master selected an always fun and regular good food lunch stop: Paramount Grill in downtown. I was thinking about the Paramount Grill's Fried Egg, Avocado, White Cheddar Burger on a pretzel bun since early Friday morning. The idea of tasty slices of avocado layered underneath a perfectly fried egg combining in culinary harmony with the obligatory lettuce, tomato, mustard and catsup had me eatified. Wouldn't you know the last of the three specials mentioned for this Friday lunch was a panini meatloaf sandwich with bacon and fried green tomatoes? I'm talking a meatloaf sandwich on toasted panini bread -- that sounded like an oxymoron to me. Then I noticed that the current hamburger of my dreams along with an order of fries was selling for $12! I quickly remembered hearing a Krystal ad selling 12 burgers for $7.99. I'm not sure if it was the good hamburger angel or the bad hamburger angel convincing me to try the meatloaf sandwich for my birthday. But it was a good decision. The fried green tomato was a smart addition to the tried-and-true, very tasty, hearty, comforting chunky meatloaf 'sandwiched' between the tasty slices of panini bread. How good was my sandwich? Lucky for me Jane wanted just a little taste of my meatloaf wonder in exchange for a bite of her Roasted Free Range Chicken Salad Wrap with avocado, plum tomato and exotic greens. I never found out what made the Paramount greens exotic. I do know that if I buying a $12 hamburger, I'd be sharing it with somebody. Now with the Krystal special, everyone in your car can have two . . .

The Pluses and Minusesof The Paramount Grill:

The Paramoung Grill + indicators :  A superior lunch experience in beautiful, old Gainesville.

The Paramount Grill - indicators : Lunch can quickly work up to the pricier side of a good lunch deal . . .

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

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Mildred's Big City Food, Meatless Monday

Dessert tray, Brie highlight MBCF lunch trade

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

mildredsIt was the perfect lunchtime trade. Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog Image Editor Erica Corbett was giving the GLOB Master a ride to pick up his repaired computer in exchange for lunch at Mildred's Big City Foods just off of University Avenue and NW 34th St.

I'm sure like most lunchouters when you think of MBCF one of your first images is the amazing Mildred's dessert case.

What a feast for your eyes GLOBers. Amazing looking cakes like the Mildred's Carrot Cake, the Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake and the Espresso Torte were on display in the cabinet mix this lunch hour.

Maybe it's because Mildred's has been around since 1994 they have fine tuned their walk-up fast casual service to perfection:

The customer friendly server at the counter is quick with friendly answers, and even better with knowledgeable suggestions about the days menu.

The Mildred's menu is smartly displayed high above the walk up counter easy to view including any daily specials as well as the Daily Quiche special.

 

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The Mildred's Dessert Case is 'Right There' in your view, daring you to ignore scrumptious slices of sugar nirvana.

The menu listed delicious sounding sandwiches like the MBCF Classic Reuben, The Club Sandwich, or the exquisite sounding Seared Tuna Sandwich. Salads sounded enticing with the Crispy Calamari salad, a yummy Buttermilk Fried Chicken salad I have yet to try but are in my future Mildred's lunch plans.

 

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mildredSALADBeing a light lunch eater Erica selected the Asparagus and Broccoli quiche of the day with a cup of fresh cooked soup ($11:00)  We both shared my delicious side salad of greens, carrots, sliced cucumbers in a tangy vinaigrette dressing. BTW, the squares of bread look mighty inviting.

 

 

 

Erica's MBCF lunch observation:

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031419EVClav"The two lavish desserts we chose at Mildred's were a Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake ($7.99), and a Espresso Torte ($7.99). The Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake cake, above, was surprisingly light and had fresh strawberries layered throughout a chocolate biscuit cake with a cream cheese ganache and whipped cream. The espresso torte, image below was decadent and had a chocolate and coffee creamy pie like consistency along with whipped cream and espresso bean on top. This torte was heavy and rich and was big enough to be shared with two or more people. I enjoyed the asparagus and broccoli quiche and the side of soup which was the daily special. It was perfect for a lunchtime meal and I left feeling just the right amount of full. I like that Mildred's is an older Gainesville spot that offers a dining experience with a mellow crowd and large dining area so lunch can be quick yet nice."

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My Hot Ham & Brie sandwich, image at top of page, was awesome with caramelized onions Dijon mustard, served on sour dough bread ($9.50). The Brie was a new experience for me and along with my side a salad made my lunch an enjoyable, fun experience.

The Brie in my sandwich created a surprising, creamy explosion of tart, tastes and textures. The Dijon mustard added a sharp tangy alternative to the earthy carmelized onions and created the perfect backdrop of stacked slices of ham.

That said Brie is not on daily go-to list insofar as cheese choices:

 

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BRIE: Originally from Seine-et-Marne in northern France, Brie is cherished for its impressionable character, and even graced the tables of royalty in the Middle Ages. Enhancing its surroundings like color to a painting, Brie is thought of as a complement like few other cheeses.

There is a complete Mildred's menu at the restaurant link at the bottom of this page.

Conversation became sparse as Erica and I shared a slice of Mildred's Espresso Torte. Erica decided a slice of the Chocolate Strawberry Shortcake had the Twins Lyle and Lav's name on it and she took a slice home to share that evening.

I'm not going to try to expand on Erica's dessert observations above.  I did ask for pics of the twins enjoying their chocolate shortcake.

"Sorry Mike no pics tonight,' the text read later that evening. "As soon as the kids saw the shortcake it disappeared in a matter of minutes."

 

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The Great Compromise:

Salad, wrap, tabouleh to go around

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

mildredsI speak a lot about where I would take my dear mother for lunch if she came back to life. Mildred's Big City Foods would make my mother a happy lunch outer, from the classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken Salad ($10) to the unique and completely southern Grilled Pimento Cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato on multigrain bread ($8.50).

This smallish café has the unique flair and style of long-time Gainesville chef, Bert Gill, who is comfortable in his cooking skin. And why shouldn't he be, recognized by many as Hogtowne's premier cooking boy?

KSmeDIGESTKSmeDIGESTMy lunch partner for this Meatless Monday meal is good friend Kristina Steinfeldt. As we are getting to know each other better, today we are sharing our lunches. Come on GLOBers, you can't get any better than sharing lunch with a friend.

After having enjoyed Eggplant Napolean with Kristina previously on several occasions, the Mildred's Fried Eggplant Wrap with fresh mozzarella, spinach, basil aioli, marinated peppers and balsamic vinaigrette seemed like an obvious lunch time selection ($9.50).

After much discussion, Kristina opted for the Mildred's Greek Salad with cucumbers, roasted red peppers, olives, and feta cheese on mixed greens with balsamic vinaigrette. A protein can be added to the salad for an additional $2 – $4 for tempeh, chicken – grilled or fried, or tuna.

 

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I was feeling smart about ordering the eggplant wrap and foregoing the pleasure of sliced bread. The flavor of the fried, crunchy eggplant stood out in this amalgamation of flavors highlighted by the tart balsamic dressing. The tortilla wrap was somewhat chewier than I would have liked. However it did offer me a legitimate reason for refraining from eating Kristina's share of the wrap. The wrap came with a side of quinoa tabouleh loaded with those tiny beads of grain.

 

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Kristina's choice of the Greek salad was spot on. The olives and goat cheese mixed with the vinaigrette dressing was eye-opening with the sharp, almost bitter flavors of the mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette. One day I think I might try some delicious, creamy goat cheese on a pack of chocolate covered brownies . . .

Kristina thought for a minute and waxed philosophic as she quoted Will Rogers:

"An onion can make people cry, but there's never been a vegetable that can make people laugh," she said with a serious look. "Actually I disagree with this quote, especially for those who have a sense of humor and wonderful company.

"This lunch had all the taste and texture of an omnivore's lunch," Kristina added with a sparkle in her eye. "The best part of the lunch was sharing it with a wonderful friend," she added.

"There was a lot of lunchtime goodness inside my lunch," Krstina added. "The wrap was tasty without being overly seasoned. The vinaigrette dressing was perfectly distributed, and the entrée had enough substance for me to walk away satiated but not overly full. I would definitely order the eggplant again."

 

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Being at Mildred's leads to talking of a culinary confection conundrum, what could be tougher than looking into the Mildred's dessert case and choosing JUST ONE slice of dessert joy? Today it was a three-layered torte with coffee flavoring, bits of chocolate, cream cheese filling, whipped cream topping, and cookie crumb crust.

OMG! What a wonderful way to end a simply marvelous Meatless Monday munch.

In a political world where the art of compromise has gone the way of 25 cent coffee, Kristina and I both nodded our noggins in agreement. We did an excellent job of sharing our tastes, preferences, and lunch, including my tabouleh.

 

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Two-Fers everywhere but the pie pan

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

It was a Two-Fer kind of lunch day. Biochemist, Research Asst./Lab Manager and good friend Erica Corbett invited me to lunch at her new office with Kaplan Schiller Research in the University of Florida's Innovation Hub. Not only do I get to share a great Food On The Run lunch with interesting company, this is the first time I have been inside the Innovation Hub building.

 

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Since it was a special lunch for the GLOB Master I headed over to Mildred's Big City Foods to see what kind of special take out lunches they might have. I was in luck as TWO of the MBCF Daily Specials jumped off the specials board and I decided on Quiche Lorraine with bacon, and Swiss cheese ($9.50). I selected the Tuna Melt, ($9.50), which I ate as an open face sandwich. The tuna fish salad was a delicious mixture of tuna fish, mayo, egg, tomato, and Swiss cheese on a very good looking multi-grain bread.

ERICAlabcoat300One of the TWO side items was Ms. Corbett's garden salad with a little TOO sweet vinaigrette dressing. I selected a side order of potato salad that was a little on the crunchy side of uncooked.  Apparently the potatoes were diced raw for quicker cooking.  A process that didn't really work.

My tuna salad was very good, and filling for the GLOB Master. There was a lot of tuna flavor combined with juiciness of the tomato. I'm thinking Erica got the better of the TWO lunches because her Quiche Lorraine looked really good.

InnovationLOBBYI quickly mentioned I might like a taste of the quiche to Erica. Lab work must make a chemist work up a real hunger because before I was able to remind Ms. Corbett of my egg pie request her lunch was gone. All gone.

We have talked before about the famous desserts at MBCF and I brought along a slice of Chocolate Torte cake with an amazing looking chocolate crème filling between three chocolate, devil's food layers of cake. My Blood sugar went up a 180 points just looking at this sugary dessert prize. I did allow myself a small bite as the TWO of us hungrily enjoyed dessert.

I was impressed with the lab Lady's, er, uh, biochemist's work surrounding. The atrium of this three story building climbs to the ceiling in an impressive open air environment allowing folks in the lobby to gaze upon walkways on each of the three floors above the ground floor. Erica took the dramatic image below from her third floor offices.

A big GLOB thanks to E. Corbett for inviting the GLOB Master to visit Innovation Square, and for an interesting lunch. I hope I get invited back. The next time I will bring TWO slices of Quiche Lorraine so I will have my own egg pie.

 

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Desserts, ambience puts MBCF in rotation

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

Those readres who have been following the GLOB know that I get together with a couple of friends, UF Entomology and Nematology staffers, Jane Medley and Kathy Milne, regularly to share excellent Gainesville lunch out experiences.

mildredsOver the years, we have created a good rotation of lunch venues that fit what we consider to be the ingredients of a perfect lunch experience. Those ingredients are tasty food, proximity to the UF Entomology/Nematology building, and ability to eat and get back to work within an hour.

The now closed Wine & Cheese Gallery, the Paramount Grill, Harry's Seafood Bar & Grill, Mildred's Big City Food and its sister restaurant, New Deal Cafe, are permanent fixtures on our list of regular lunch out spots.

When a month with one of our birthdays arrives, the birthday boy or girl is our official lunch out guest and gets a free lunch and chooses the lunch out destination of his or her choice.

Kathy Milne was celebrating her birthday this mid-day mealtime occasion, and she selected Mildred's Big City Foods, close to the corner of University and 34th St, as our destination.

Mildred's always has an inviting daily lunch special and menu board of varied sandwiches and salads. They also have a fast-casual, 'pay-as-you-go' process that shortens the time from ordering to eating in this busy, convenient lunch spot. Mildred's has two standing specials: Baja Tacos: Cabbage Slaw, Cilantro, Spicy Aioli, and Choice of Grilled Chicken or Seared Tuna, and Quiches of the Day: Two options daily served with soup or garden salad.

Having just typed the above statement, I'm not sure Mildred's is for everyone.

 

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I get excited when Mildred's is mentioned for lunch. I immediately think of their Turkey Club, image at top of this review, which is comprised of turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar and Thousand Island dressing. The combination of toasted bread with the meats stacked a mile high works for me every time.  I added a tossed salad and slice of yummy looking carrot cake to complete my order.  There is a complete Mildred's Big City Foods menu at the restaurant link below.

 

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My Mildred's house salad was fresh, crisp, and very tart with the house vinaigrette. Finishing my celebration lunch with that heaveny piece of MBCF carrort cake had an OMG effect, as in 'Oh my glob!' You could taste the raisons, cinammon, carrots and cream cheese. PS, I am a good-sized person, and Mildred's desserts are way too large for one lunch outer to eat alone all at once. Sharing desserrt is a good idea.

Lacking lunch creativity, I'm somewhat embarrassed to say the Turkey Club is my standard order at Mildred's.

Typically my second thought about Mildred's is one I repeat while sitting down for lunch in this civilized, comfortable cafe.  My friends have heard me say more than once, "You know, if I called Rosey, Andy, or Miller for lunch and told them to meet me at Mildred's Big City Foods, they would either laugh at me or wonder if I had been possessed."

Come on, I know you would agree that Mildred's is not a stick-to-your-ribs kind of lunch experience, or maybe I should say a bulge from your ribs experience that comes from excessive calories and serving size.

That said, if I told my pals I was buying lunch at the best dessert selection and display in Gainesville and it was "All You Can Eat" day, they would show up in a heart beat. Or should I say heart flutter?

But neither one of those things will ever happen.

The Food Network constantly reminds viewers that we eat our meals with our eyes first. Remember that the next time you're at Mildred's. I applaud Executive Chef Bert Gill for presenting his customers with visually enticing salad and sandwich entrees - and a dessesrt display that would surely rival bakeries in Vienna.

When the food is served, however, and I see what my lunch mates have ordered, sometimes I second guess my choice.

MildredsDessertsWhen my grown kids and I do lunch, they often suggest Mildred's. I'd like to think they make that choice for the healthful, bountiful salads and for their use of locally grown produce and veggies.  Or maybe the kids pick MBCF for the fresh-baked bread, interesting cheeses, and special herbed sauces that enhance hot or cold sandwiches.

WRONG.

When the kids think of Mildred's, they are thinking one thing. Dessert. On the way over to MBCF, the kids are lost in thought dreaming of cakes, pies, whipped cream, and chocolate from the confection wonderland that is the Mildred's Big City Foods dessert display case.

If there is a better menu choice of desserts available out there in GLOB land, I'd like to hear about it below.

This sounds like a GLOB Top Five Dessert contest waiting to happen . . .

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Mildred's Big City Foods.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!  

 

 

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friedEGGplantStrawberryShortcakeOnce a month, I meet SweetBerries Eatery & Frozen Custard's owner and friend, Jane Osmond, for lunch. Jane moved to Gainesville a year and a half ago and, since she is new to G'ville, I have had the pleasure of introducing Ms. Osmond to some of Gainesville's interesting lunch stops other than Sweetberries. Our July Meatless Monday lunch adventure was at Mildred's Big City Foods. Bert Gill and the chefs at Mildred's get my award for some of the more creative entrees in Hogtown. The Mildred's lunch menu is loaded with meatless entrees, plus they are most happy to oblige your imagination by customizing any entrée to your culinary satisfaction. However with lunch items like Fried Eggplant Wraps, Crispy Calamari Salad, Grilled Pimento Cheese, and Sloppy Tempeh Joe, the GLOB Master didn't have to tax his creative skills. The idea of a fried eggplant wrap was ringing my lunch bell as I exclaimed I have a winner! My lunch wrap was a smartly charred tortilla encasing nice fat slices of eggplant, fresh mozzarella, spinach, and red peppers. I'm a sucker for anything with peppers, and this sandwich was an explosion of flavor and textures with the eggplant being complemented by the stronger flavor of the pepper. The elastic texture of the mozzarella cheese and the baby spinach leaves created a rich freshness. I felt like my wrap needed a little more sauce and the chef suggested a garlic-avocado sauce that intensified my lunch wrap's WOW factor exponentially. Alright, I admit it. You say Mildred's, I'm thinking dessert. In another life Jane was a pastry chef so it is fun to get her thoughts on Gainesville's flower, sugar, chocolate scene. We agreed to share a slice of the Strawberry Shortcake Cake with white chocolate frosting. It was incredibly moist and unbelievably good: Sponge cake absorbing strawberry juice presented a sweet, cold, strawberry bite that really had me contemplating buying myself a slice to take home.

- Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

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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.

BagelBtopper

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.

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about the Bagel 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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BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse

Brewhouse is incorrect for this food world

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

My son Bob and I had a very good lunch in one of the biggest restaurants I have ever enjoyed lunch.

I did think of Bob Seger's great tune, Feel like a number, as my son Bob and I waited to be seated in a dining room that looked like it could also be an indoor athletic pavilion called BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse in front of the Oaks Mall. 

BJsBrewhouseThe BJ's website explains this massive lunch spot in one word:  " Our vision is to be the very definition of "WOW" for the casual dining experience."Yeah, I think "WOW" is an accurate term. Humongus, airport like, and gargantuan would also fit this, "big box, move 'em in, move 'em out lunch like assembly line."

Right after we walked in we were steered to our table out on the West 40 acres of this food world Ponderdosa.

Looking around I couldn't see a kitchen area. How ever I did see a lot of people hurriedly about the business eating a fast lunch.

Looking due east I did see the bar. This impressive wooden upright looked like it could be a fun place to catch a sporting event. Heck you could invite all of you best friends and still have room for more. It looked to me like this bar could easily handle 25 to 30 happy drinkers. BJ's offers eight 'home brewed' regular beers on tap at, plus several seasonal or specialty beers.

WOW!

 

BJsDINING

There is a ton of information about BJ's beers below on the restaurant web link.

When Meaghan, our server, returned with menus she handed us 'book' that had a dozen of more pages. I was relieved I wasn't going to be tested on the contents of this Dead Sea Scroll like lunch document. With a quick count I did see that the menu had 13 different food categories.

My cross-eyed look of intimidation was noticed by Meaghan. In a lunch environment where time is money, Meaghen reduced out conversation to nothing but the details.

"Lunch," I asked lifting the first page of this plastic, bracketed, punched, with each page indexed by another page menu looking confused.

"Back page," Meaghan replied using twice as many words as I.

Voila! With a turn of pages my lunch options had been reduced to 13 Lunch Specials.

 

BJtacos

Lunch became a no brainer when I saw the #9 special was Fish and Shrimp Tacos. "Panko-crusted, lightly fried fish or chargrilled shrimp wrapped in our special tortilla with chipotle mayonnaise, Santa Fe dressing, Napa cabbage, carrots, red onions and cilantro. Served with tortilla chips, avocado cream sauce and fire-roasted tomato salsa."

I love tacos, I REALLY love Fish & Seafood tacos.

Bob is relatively new to the lunch hour professional eating wars. He was casually navigating BJ's version of a food Funk & Wagnall's when I cut his mission short with a, "What do you see pal?"

 

BJjambalaya

Bob selected the Jambalaya. BJ's jambalaya combines blackened chicken, shrimp and chicken-andouille sausage, sautéed with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes in a spicy sauce. Served over a rice pilaf and topped with green onions.

(BTW I used the BJ's online menu for some lunch menu specifics. The menu was so large it should have a "search" function to find things.)

Meaghan retuned in a surprisingly short time with our lunch.

Bob's 'jamby' looked yummy with a lot of ingredients. He said there was a good amount of spice in the entrée. We were both surprised that the ingredients were placed on top of a bed of rice, not mixed into the rice.

Bob was satisfied lunchouter, and said he would order it again.
WOW!

My fish and shrimp tacos were delightfully enjoyable. The fish taco was a crispy, crunchy piece of white fish filet that added a good texture to the taco offsetting the toasty crunch of the tortilla. These were good tacos with many veggies and flavors. The tacos would have been better with some green pepper sauce to punch up the heat a little, but none was to be found.

This was a good lunch. BJ's isn't the place for a casual, intimate lunch stop where you plan to discuss things, get to know each other better.
This place is your big time, beat-the-clock lunch race opportunity.

Yeah, that's an idea. BJ should punch your ticket when you come in, and if you are done with lunch in 40 minutes you win . . . a free tour of the kitchen.

WOW!

The Pluses and Minuses of BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse:

BJ's Brewhouse + indicators: I can't imagine any one saying, "There's nothing to eat.".

BJ's Brewhouse - indicators: After lunch I felt like I just got off the subway in NYC.

 

 

BJsKetchuo

I was near the Oaks Mall on a windy, 'rain-ier' than usual day at lunch hour, and meat loaf sounded like exactly what the epicurean gods wanted the GLOB Master to eat. I didn't need no stinkin' BJ's Brewhouse multi- page menu to search for meat loaf. And that was my first question to the BJ's bartender.

Her reply: "You know I don't think we do." The just out of bar-keep training, Morgan Moceyunas, said giving serious thought to my question, added: "You'd think we would have it wouldn't ya?"

"Then again, no has ever asked if we have meat loaf before." Morgan continued answering her own question and looking at me with a puzzled look.

031517BJburger

I appreciated Morgan's honesty and opted for an open-face Brewhouse Black & Bleu-House Burger that included a 5 oz. beef patty with chipotle, bleu cheese crumbles, Applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes and roasted garlic aioli.

I added a side of fresh asparagus while I felt a tug of longing for a giant plate of thick cut home fries.

The tangy punch of the garlic aioli–mayonnaise surprised me and was special treat. "Morgan do you guys add garlic or something to the mayo," I asked, forgetting about the addition of aioli to my burger that was adding flavor to a normally mundane white condiment.

"I don't think so," she said wracking her brain for answers. "I never put mayo on my hamburger," she replied, stopping and thinking, about the life of a BJ's Brewhouse hamburger.

"Keep in mind I've only been behind this bar for ten days," she added. "Two weeks ago I was a hostess at the front door," she said trying to explain her conundrum.

I was enjoying our banter, plus the hamburger was good, and looked inviting with the bleu cheese and the bacon slices criss-crossing atop the all-beef patty.

The asparagus was really crisp, fresh and delicious. Who would think that the tinier is in fact the better. My baby asparagus was almost jumping off of the plate with flavor and texture delights.

A hamburger-no-bun lunch is an unremarkable lunch experience as a rule. Much applause to Morgan M and her willingness to please, keep the customer happy, and make lunch a special experience.

I'm going back and let Morgan suggest my lunch surprise next time.

- GLOB Master

 

BJsBURGERtopper

Brewhouse puts BIG in 'big box chain'

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

BJsBrewhouseOne restaurant that I always assumed would make its way to Gainesville because of its size, popularity, and menu variety was the Cheesecake Factory: multiple pages of a diverse variety of meal and drink options, from pastas, salads and burgers to wine and beer lists and dessert selections leave you perusing the menu for a good chunk of time. The slightly dimly lit, large dining area is perfect for packing the hungry patrons in at any time of day. I realized that Gainesville does have a comparable rendition, though: BJ's Brewhouse offers all of those options and more, including an unlimited soup and salad lunch option and EnLIGHTened menu with items all under 795 calories for the health-conscious lunch outer.

Its proximity to my job makes BJ's an easy go-to option, especially considering it has something for everyone. Needless to say, I have dined in and even taken food out, too many times to count. So when GLOB Master Mike Sanford wanted to meeet for a work lunch on Thursday, that was an easy option that I knew would have something for whatever craving struck.

The lunch crowd was just what I expected around noon: A conveyor belt of working professionals, kid-toting families, and the occasional couple kept BJ's bustling. However, we were immediately seated at a small booth. You would think that, due to the high volume of patrons at any given time, the noise level would match, but luckily they have worked out the space and the acoustics so we were not shouting across the booth just to hear each other.

 

BJsSALADa

As mentioned, there is a whole section of lightened-up fare, as well as a lunch-specific menu. Mike and I stuck to those pages so as not to become sucked into the black whole vortex that is a 15-page menu. I really enjoy the Kale and Roasted Brussel Sprout Salad with choice of protein, which came to about $15 with my addition of blackened salmon.

Mike was feeling a little more adventurous and his first question to the server was, "Where can I find an open-faced burger?" There was one on the menu, so Mike opted for it, although really you can make any burger open-faced.

Not even 15 minutes later, my salad, minus the raw onions, and Mike's burger with a side of roasted Brussel sprouts for good health arrived. The salad was not a lunch portion size, and I was presented with a heaping bowl of greens topped with lots of sweet goodies, such as blueberries, grapes, dried cranberries and candied pecans, and I loved their contrast to the rich goat cheese. Some toasted pepitas and cucumbers added an additional salt element with the Brussel sprouts, but the strawberry vinaigrette kept the sweetness fully intact. Blackened salmon is one of my favorite protein options, so regardless of the salad or dish I do not hesitate to add it to my plate; in this case it was a relatively large portion. I tried to get through most of the salad--once the dressing permeates the layers of the salad, there is no saving that for later. It was way too much for one person to comfortably finish, but it was just as tasty as the last time I ordered it, and consistency is something I always look for in any restaurant.

 

BJsBURGER

The open-faced burger is not on the online site/ordering system, but for about $10 this visually-busy burger is quite a mouthful: A thick, in this case medium-rare, patty was topped with a generous smear of spicy salsa verde, crispy bacon slices, melted cheese, and a ready-to-pop sunny side up egg, which coated the burger in runny, delicious yolk. This would have been a fork and knife burger, with or without being presented as open-faced. It was cooked very well, and the multiple ingredients actually collided into an explosion of tasty, albeit strong, flavor sensations. Mike's once-full side bowl of Brussel sprouts spoke for itself.

 

BJSbogoAt peak hours, namely lunch time from 11 am to 1 pm and dinner time from 6 pm to 8 pm, you may have to wait, but other than that there is usually a table available. The most attractive aspect of BJ's is the BJ's Rewards Program, by which you accumulate points as you dine and which leads to plenty of actually useful rewards, such as dollars off your purchase, BOGO lunch meals, half-off pizzas on select days, and so on.

In addition to the Kale and Brussel Sprout Salad, some of my other go-to menu items include: the Honey-Crisp Chicken Salad, which is essentially a cobb salad with fried chicken tenders and honey mustard dressing; the BJ' Favorite Deep Dish Pizza; and the Flatbreads. The pizookies are a dessert experience in and out itself, so it would absolutely behoove any first-timer to save some room for these warm, fresh skillet cookies topped with ice cream. There is a very large, BJ's menu available at the restaurant link at the bottom of this page.

 

BJsBeer

Don't forget the BEER in the BJ's name.  In addition to ten signature beers, including BJ's Brewhouse Blonde and Jeremiah Red, BJ's offers regular seasonal beers such as BJ's Pumpkin Ale and Annual Grand Cru, and experimental beers that we brew out of Boulder, CO. Each season of the year a seasonal beer is available for dinner. BJ's partners with other breweries and features their beers alongside BJ's beers for a multi-course, beer-paired meal.

The Pluses and Minuses of BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse:

BJ's Brewhouse + indicators: Wide selection, open late 7 days a week, large portions, pretty consistent quality, good value for meal, brews some of its own beer, well-crafted cocktails

BJ's Brewhouse - indicators: Can get busy and service does noticeably slow down, big-box chain style, potential traffic being in Oaks Mall prking lot.

 

BJtopPerMAY

BJdiningMAY

Franchise, big box lunch opportunities are not my favorite. I'm also not a big fan of lunch room, cafeteria like dining. If I walk into a crowed dining room and feel like a person in Bob Seeger's "Feel Like a Number" tune, typically for the GLOB Master, lunch becomes a get in, get out experience. I stopped in at BJ's Brewhouse in front of the Oaks Mall recently. The last time I saw that many people in one place it was a Florida Gator basketball game. I was by myself so I decided I was going to be a big boy about this lunch. As the hostess walked me down the aisle of 35 to 40 talking, laughing, customers enjoying themselves, she gave me the two-fer table at the end of the aisle in front of the servers' work area. That's OK--I had room to read my newspaper, and there was an interesting table of 10 customers speaking so loud across the aisle I could have joined their conversation. I asked my server what to eat, and she said I should try the hamburger: "BJ's has an awesome hamburger," she said looking down at me from above my tiny table.  So I did.  In fact I selected the BJ's Brewhouse Crispy Jalapeño Burger. It sounded good from the menu description with fried jalapeños, pepper jack cream cheese, chipotle mayonnaise, Baja sauce, red onions, tomato and lettuce. When it arrived at my table, this big boy hamburger looked even more impressive.  This protein bomb requiring a two-fisted grip and dripping toppings on all sides was very good. BJs must be steaming their hamburger rolls because this was the softest, lightest hamburger wrap I have had in some time. Do you know about those tiny Crystal hamburger rolls? Think of something like that on steroids. The jalapeno peppers supplied just enough heat, and the flavor reminded me that this was in fact a spicy, hot burger. True to form, by the time of my last few bites, my hamburger had disintegrated into a plate of hamburger hash. What do I care? I was enjoying my hamburger, and only slightly concerned that the people at the table next to me might ask for a bite of my BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse Crispy Jalapeño Burger.

- GLOB Master

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

“Here I sit like a tiny blade of grass in great big field.”

- Bob Seger

­

Brewhouse is wrong name for this food world

 

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

 

My son Bob and I had a very good lunch in one of the biggest restaurants I have eaten in in a very long time.

 

I did think of Bob Seger’s great tune, “Feel like a number”, as Bob and I waited to be seated in a dining room that looked like it could also be an indoor athletic pavilion called BJ’s Brewhouse and restaurant in front of the Oaks Mall.

 

The BJ’s website explains this massive lunch spot in one word:

“ Our vision is to be the very definition of "WOW" for the casual dining experience.”

Yeah, I think "WOW" is an accurate term.  Humongus, airport like, and gargantuan would also fit this, “big box, move ’em in, move ’em out lunch like assembly line.”

 

Right after we walked in we were steered to our table out on the West 40 acres of this food world Ponderdosa.

 

Looking around I couldn’t see a kitchen area.  How ever I did see a lot of people hurriedly about the business eating a fast lunch. 

 

Looking due east I did see the bar.  This impressive wooden upright looked like it could be a fun place to catch a sporting event.  Heck you could invite all of you best friends and still have room for more.    It looked to me like this bar could easily handle 25 to 30 happy drinkers.   BJ’s offers eight ‘home brewed’ regular beers on tap at, plus several seasonal or specialty beers

WOW!

The is a ton of information about BJ’s beers below on the restaurant web link.

 

When Meaghan, our server, returned with menus she handed us ‘book’ that had a dozen of more pages.   I was relieved I wasn’t going to be tested on the contents of this Dead Sea Scroll like lunch document.   With a quick count I did see that the menu had 13 different food categories.   

 

My cross-eyed look of intimidation was noticed by Meaghan.  In a lunch environment where time is money, Meaghen reduced out conversation to nothing but the details.

 

“Lunch,” I asked lifting the first page of this plastic, bracketed, punched, with each page indexed by another page menu looking confused.

 

“Back page,” Meaghan replied using twice as many words as I.

 

Voila!  With a turn of pages my lunch options had been reduced to 13 Lunch Specials.

 

Lunch became a no brainer when I saw the #9 special was Fish and Shrimp Tacos.  “Panko-crusted, lightly fried fish or chargrilled shrimp wrapped in our special tortilla with chipotle mayonnaise, Santa Fe dressing, Napa cabbage, carrots, red onions and cilantro. Served with tortilla chips, avocado cream sauce and fire-roasted tomato salsa.”

 

I love tacos,  I REALLY love F & S tacos.

 

Bob is relatively new to the lunch hour professional eating wars.  He was casually navigating BJ’s version of a food Funk & Wagnall’s when I cut his mission short with a, “What do you see pal?”

 

Bob selected the Jambalaya.  BJ’s jambalaya combines blackened chicken, shrimp and chicken-andouille sausage, sautéed with bell peppers, onions and tomatoes in a spicy sauce. Served over a rice pilaf and topped with green onions.

 

(BTW I used the BJ’s online menu for some lunch menu specifics.  The menu was so large it should have a “search” function to find things.)

 

Meaghan retuned in a surprisingly short time with our lunch. 

 

Bob’s ‘jamby’ looked yummy with a lot of ingredients.  He said there was a good amount of spice in the entrée.  We were both surprised that the ingredients were placed on top of a bed of rice, not mixed into the rice.   

 

Bob was satisfied lunchouter, and said he would order it again. 

WOW!

 

My fish and shrimp tacos were delightfully enjoyable. The fish taco was a crispy, crunchy piece of white fish filet that added a good texture to the taco offsetting the toasty crunch of the tortilla.  These were good tacos with many veggies and flavors.  The tacos would have been better with some green pepper sauce to punch up the heat a little, but none was to be found.

 

This was a good lunch.  BJ’s isn’t the place for a casual., intimate lunch stop where you plan to discuss things, get to know each other better. 

This place is your big time, beat-the-clock lunch race opportunity.

 

Yeah, that’s an idea.  BJ should punch your ticket when you come in, and if you are done with lunch in 40 minutes you win . . .   a free tour of the kitchen.

 

WOW!    

 

The Pluses and Minuses of BJ’s Brewhouse and Restaurant:

BJ’s Brewhouse + indicators:  I can’t imagine any one saying, “There’s nothing to eat.”.

BJ’s Brewhouse - indicators:  After lunch I felt like I just got off the subway in NYC.

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