Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Matt's Bar - Minneapolis, MN

Matt' Bar, home of the original Jucy Lucy, is phenomenal.  It is better than the Juicy Lucy at the just as famous 5-8 Club.  It is fair to compare the burgers of the two establishments, but after that they are completely different.  5-8 turned into a mini chain restaurant with 3 locations and offers an extensive menu with a closed kitchen.  Matt's Bar on the other hand is a classic dimly lit dive bar that has the griddle right behind the bar and the menu hung on the wall.  The burger was Delicious.  It came on a fresh bun, with diced grilled onions and crisp pickles.  The patties was cooked perfectly and had a great crust seared on it from the flat top.  The American cheese was plentiful and steamed while it oozed out of the center of the burger.

When looking for a Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis, head to Matt's.

- Lunch Pail
The Menu
The Griddle

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lions Tap - Eden Prairie, MN

Prior to a recent trip to Minnesota for work, my older brother told me he found a burger that is better than both Matt's bar and the 5-8 Club, both of which have been featured on the Travel Channel.  Knowing how good the 5-8 Juicy Lucy was and how great Matt's Juicy Lucy was, I found it hard to believe that he found a better burger.

The menu at Lions Tap is simple, 4 or 5 types of burgers that can be ordered as a single or a double and french fries (big ups to crinkle cut).  I was told the burgers were small and to order 2.  I decided to go with the classic single cheese burger with grilled onions and pickles (decent), and a single bacon cheeseburger with pickles (delicious).  The bacon cheeseburger was great.  The patty was cooked to a nice medium on the flat top with a good outer crust.  The bacon was spectacular and added great flavor to the burger.  I was really impressed with the McDonald's style bun.  This was such a simple burger and it was the best bacon cheeseburger that I have ever had. 

I can't make a bold claim and say that Lions Tap is better than Matt's Bar.  They are two different styles of burgers.  If I were in the mood for a hot, oozy cheese burger I would belly up at Matt's Bar, but if I wanted a classic bacon burger and an ice cold root beer, I would head to the Lions Tap. 

- Lunch Pail

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ravioli Scarpariello

Quick little dinner I put together a few weeks ago.  I am a big fan of scarpariello sauce, but didn't feel like having it the traditional way with chicken, so I used some delicious ravioli.  I sauteed up some hot sausage (out of the casing), cherry peppers, onions, and olive oil until it was cooked nice.  Then I hit it with some some white wine until it reduced a little bit, and the added some chicken broth and a dribble of the vinegar from the cherry pepper jar.  Let it boil for a couple of minutes in the pan until I added the cooked ravioli.

It turned out to be a great meal, I just wish I had made more of it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ravioli Slider

I don't mean to name drop, but...

Teitel Brothers Cheese and Parsley Sausage, Rockland Bakery mini roll, Borgatti's Ravioli.

It was as delicious as it looks.
- Lunch Pail

Ravioli Sandwich

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Swift 'n EZ Nacho Platter

What do you call a platter that is not yours.....Nacho Platter!

Here is a submission from an old college roommate of mine, Mr. Timothy A. Swift.  Mr. Swift has been making nacho platters and breaking hearts since 1982.  It seems like he has stepped his game up since college though, ditching the standard ground beef nacho platter and upping the ante with jerk rubbed New York strip steak, with grilled peppers and onions.  It is nice to see he stuck to his roots though with keeping the standard Swift like toppings of black beans, some fresh pico, sour cream, guacamole, and cheese.  I would also like to point out the precision placement of the sour cream and gauc globs.  Great nachos start with the proper and even distribution of toppings.

Well done Swift.

- Lunch Pail

Swift 'n EZ Steak Fajita Nachos

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The McRib is Back!

Rumor has it that the beloved McRib sandwich will be back for a limited time starting November 2nd.  Nothing screams delicious more than a molded boneless rib patty smothered in BBQ sauce and topped with raw onions and pickles.  I remember back in the day, when the Flintstones movie with my my John Goodman in it, was released, I would crush a McRib every time I had the chance at Mickey's.  The McRib to this day, still remains my all time favorite McDonald's sandwich.  Hopefully it is still as good as it was back in '94.

- Lunch Pail

General Haresh's Chicken

Like General Jensen's, General Haresh is a spin on the classic General Tso's.  I have never eaten curry prior to dating my fiance, but since then, it has become a favorite of mine and I figure I would try to incorporate a new favorite of mine, with a classic chinese dish that I have been crushing for years.  General Haresh's Chicken is General Tso's style chicken, but with curry sauce and onions.  The curry sauce is much spicier than the standard Tso's sauce and the onions are a great addition.  The fine folks at Young's Chinese Kitchen, who operate the cleanest Chinese take out restaurant I have ever stepped foot in, were able to make my General Haresh idea into a reality.

If you are looking to eat a good curry dish outside of an Indian or Thai restaurant, give General Harsesh's Chicken a try. 

- Lunch Pail

Monday, October 4, 2010

Snow Natural Soda

I was recently sent a case of Snow Natural Soda and was asked if I would sample it and write up a review about it in the blog. 

Snow Soda is a natural soda with loaded with vitamin C and the B's.  It is  sweetened with natural cane sugar.  Currently Snow comes in three flavors, Cola, Lemon Line, and Cranberry PomRazz, with a diet lemon lime, sweetened with Stevia, soon on the way.  Snow soda can be found in most supermarkets in CT and is sold by the can (12oz) for $1.25 - $1.50 or by the 12-pack on Amazon for $12.99.

Personally prefer seltzer over soda, but I figured I would give it a try.  All three were sweet and tasted just like regular soda, except they seemed to be less carbonated (the ingredient list states, "lightly carbonated water").  Personally I am a fan of carbonation because it results in some good burps.  Of the three flavors, my fiance and I preferred the lemon lime.  The cola seemed very sweet and the Cranberry was not too enjoyable.  It might taste better mixed with some vodka and cranberry juice.

If you are a soda drinker, give it a shot.  12 ounces of Snow soda and a fistful of Flintstone vitamins is a great defense against the upcoming flu season.

For more information on Snow beverages, check out their website:

-Lunch Pail

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chili Mac - Mark's Downtown Coney - Ann Arbor, MI

The chili mac from Mark's Downtown Coney in Ann Arbor was a filling and enjoyable lunch that ranks high in the "Good Slop" category.  The chili mac was a plate of spaghetti, topped with shredded cheddar cheese and chili.  I spiced it up with some raw onion and Frank's Red Hot.  I was unable to twirl the spaghetti with a fork, so I opted for the shovel method by cross cutting it and mixing it all together to the perfect slop consistency and then sent it down south.

Mark's Downtown is a great place if you are in the mood for some grease for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  I recommend the chili mac, but I also saw the griddle cook making some reuben's, blt's, coney dogs, and omelets that all looked delicious.

- Lunch Pail

Fresh Plate of Some Chili Mac

Friday, September 17, 2010

Soft Boiled Slider

With a bunch of mini hard rolls left over from the Rockland Bakery, I decided to make myself some mini breakfast sadnwiches a few weekends ago.  A quick note, Rockland Bakery makes the best hard rolls and everyone should experience them.  It turns a good sandwich, into a great sandwich.

Not wanting to deal with the mess of a frying pan, I soft boiled two eggs, and toasted up the rolls and turkey sausage.  I soft boiled the eggs for 5 1/2 minutes, resulting in solid whites and a thich and creamy yolk.  A few cranks of black pepper and some ketchup topped off a quick and easy clean up breakfast.

- Lunch Pail

Open Face
Finished Product

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bradford's Grill and Tavern, Stamford, CT

Bradford's Grill and Tavern has the best wings in Stamford.  Buffalo Wild Wings, Vinnie's Backyard, SBC, Bobby V's, and Tiernan's are all bottom shelf compared to Bradford's.  
They offer 50 cent wings during happy hour and 30 cent wings on Wednesday's with the purchase of a $3 beverage.  I use to go there on Wednesday nights when I lived in Stamford for a couple of beers and a plate of wings.  I miss doing this and should probably stick around after work one week and crush some wings.  My flavor of choice is the Super Hot, although occasionally, they don't sauce them enough, like the picture below.

- Lunch Pail

Order of 10 Super Hot

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Captain's Table - Monroe, NY

Best buffalo wings in America.  Big, crispy, saucy, delicious, and great bleu cheese.

Bowl of 10

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tawa - Stamford, CT

Here is a picture from way back when I met up with some old co-workers to take down the Lunch Buffet at Tawa in Stamford.  Overall it is a great deal, $15 bucks for all you can eat and it is good quality food, unlike some of the sketch chinese lunch buffets for $7.  On the day that we were there they were offering a spicy lamb dish, chicken tika masala, potatoes, tandori chicken wings (phenominal), naan bread, and these vegtable fritters that were good, but a little greasy.

If you are a fan of Indian food and don't mind dropping a little extra for lunch, check out Tawa.

- Lunch Pail

Variety Plate

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rinaldi's Deli - Stamford, CT

Every chicken parm sandwich that I have seen made has looked much better than the one I ate a few months back.  For a refresher of my first Rinaldi's expercience, Click Here.  I have yet to re order the chicken parm, but I tried out a few of their other sandwiches below.  They offer a variety of sandwich creations by number or you can create your own from the selection of Boars Head cold cuts they carry, or from the steam stable selection.  Fresh chicken cutlets, meatballs, and sausage and peppers are a daily standard.

- Lunch Pail

#11 - Pastrami, Coleslaw, Russian Dressing, w/ Cheddar
Sausage and Peppers, Provolone, Mustard

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sunny and Frankie's - Stamford, CT

I have never been to Sunny and Frankie's, but my buddy Peter raves about it.  I guess he got upset when the guy at Nonna's claimed they have the best veal in town and sent in this picture a few days later.  By the looks of it, Sunny and Frankie might have the best veal in Stamford.

- Lunch Pail

Veal Cutlet, Broccoli Rabe, and Hot Peppers

Monday, August 30, 2010

El Charrito Taco Truck - Richmond Hill Ave. Stamford, CT

This might be one of the best lunch spots in Stamford.  El Charrito is a taco truck that parks across the street from Beamers on Richmond Hill Ave.  They offer a wide variety of items, and have plenty of daily specials.  If you are in the mood for Mexican, pass up all the sit down spots in Stamford, and head to El Charrito. 

The highlight of the meal was one of the daily specials, the Torta Charra.  A hot pressed sandwich that consisted of the following: Saudero, Tinga de Res (Chipotle Marinated Steak), Chorizizo, Sauteed Onions, Cilantro, Chipotle Mayo, Refried Black Beans, and Jalepenos. 

Other items enjoyed during this trip included tummy and tongue tacos, also a special, Al Pastor w/ pineapple taco, and a spicy chicken taco.  Everything is made to order and is fresh.  It is definitely worth the wait.  If you are pressed for time, call ahead and have it ready for when you arrive.  When you are too busy to get out during lunch, stop by after work, they are open until 9 pm.

- Lunch Pail
The Truck
Tummy (L) and Tongue (R) Tacos
Al Pastor w/ Pineapple Taco
Al Pastor Bite-View
Torta Charra
Torta Charra - Under the Hood
Torta Charra  - Bite-View

Monday, August 23, 2010

Halal Cart - 53rd and 6th, NYC

From Peter Koutroubis:

"This past weekend I was fortunate enough to experience the 53rd & 6th Halal Cart! After a long day of walking around time square & central park, I txted my friend Sonia to see if she wanted to grab a quick bite to eat before I left the city… She responded "Yeh! Street Meat at 53rd & 6th in 20 Mins" Sure enough I walked to the location and the first words out of my mouth were "WTF!" There was a line of about 100-120 people for a damn street cart and my brother and I walked to the back of the line thinking how retarded this was… The next 40 minutes was the best and most worth while wait in any line for food in my life...better than the wait at In-N-Out Burger on a Friday night, better than the wait at Colony, better than the wait for a Philly cheese steak at the old Yankee stadium behind home plate! The moment arrived when it was my turn to order and I went with the half & half platter. The menu is simple: chicken and/or Gyro in a sandwich, platter with rice, platter w/o rice. To the right of the cart they have a milk crate with 9 white sauce bottles and 3 hot sauce bottles. The white sauce is what makes this meal perfect…no one knows what the ingredients are, but you have to lay it down thick! The hot sauce is extremely hot..nothing to play around with, but I was up to the challenge and made sure I had enough to savor the entire Halal Cart experience. The food was amazing, the shredded chicken and chopped up gyro over the rice was so filling, comforting, and downright filthy (as Estrich would say). Next time you're in the city, it’s a must have!"

- Peter

Long Line
Worth the wait!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Japanese Brunch - Abis Restaurant - Thornwood, NY

Abis Japanese Restaurant offers a Sunday brunch between 11:30 and 2:00.  Knowing not go food shopping while hungry, I planned on stopping here before a recent food shopping excursion.  Conveniently, Abis is located near the Shop Rite in Thornwood, NY.

The brunch offered a wide variety of sushi rolls as well as a selection of hot food items.  The rolls offered were: California, eel, eel and avocado, tuna, tuna avocado, spicy tuna, salmon, salmon avocado, salmon skin, Philadelphia roll, shrimp tempura, California roll, spicy crab stick tempura, and a few others.  The sushi was made fresh by two sushi chefs and replenish the rolls as needed and was pretty good.

The hot food offerings included: shrimp dumplings, pork dumplings, shrimp lo mien, fried rice, shrimp tempura, chicken katzu, beef w/ peppers and onions, ginger pork, and mussels and clams in a black bean sauce.  The hot food was decent, with the true winner of the group being the mussels and clams.  Next time I go, I will focus on the sushi and minimize the hot food.

If you have an extra $20 to spend and don't want to go food shopping while hungry on a Sunday, check this place out.

- Lunch Pail

Hot Food

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hey, how's the veal today?

I recently met up at Nonna's in Stamford for lunch, but wasn't in the mood for pizza.  I asked the guy behind the counter how the veal was, but I guess he was a vegetarian because he didn't answer me.  He had to ask the guy next to him, who then told me it was the "best in town".  Taking his word for it I ordered a veal parm sub.

After a few bites, the guy behind the counter gives me a thumbs up and says, "The veal is really good right", I nodded back and agreed it was good.  It was well cooked and tender.  The sandwich however, could have used some more sauce, some more veal, and some more time in the oven. 

- Lunch Pail

Overhead Shot
Chomp Shot

Friday, August 13, 2010

Summer Grilling

Below is an email submitted to Lunch O'Clock from my Uncle Bobby.  It is one thing to grill hot dogs and hamburger, but cooking a ribeye like that on a charcoal grill is a whole other level of summer grilling.  The best part of a rib eye, or any great steak, is that it doesn't take a lot of prep work.  A sprinkle of salt and a few cracks of pepper go along way. 

"The attached is a before, during, and after of a rib eye steak. It’s part of the summer time diet when we are in Long Island. When we go out to the house we do a fair amount of cooking outdoors. The main tool of the trade is a 22” Weber kettle grill burning natural lump hard wood charcoal. This paired with the local farm stands or what comes out of the garden in the backyard makes for tasty results."

Life of a Ribeye

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Buffalo Wings - Chicken or the Egg - Long Beach Island, NJ

I don't thing words are necessary.

Snee recently enjoyed these and has cemented them within the top three of the all-time best wings he has ever eaten.  By the look of them, I would have to agree.

-Lunch Pail

Cassano's Pizza - Tarrytown, NY

My quest to find the best pizza in the Tarrytown area has begun.  Having a go-to-place place to grab a slice in your living area is key.  

After some searching online, I settled on Cassano's Pizza on N. Broadway.  It is a nice place with restaurant style seating in the front, and a pizza counter towards the back.  They had a variety of pies on display to get by the slice, some of which included: pepperoni, chicken parm, spinach and mushroom, white, sausage and peppers, meat lovers, Sicilian, chicken scarpariello, and plently more.  The meat lovers and chicken scarp slices are in the running for which slice to eat on my next visit.  I went with a pepperoni (pictured below) and a spinach and mushroom.  Both slices were terrific.  The mushrooms were fresh, not canned and the pepperoni slice had a nice grease factor.  The slice was the perfect thickness/thinness and had a slight crunch when you bit into it.  The crust was perfectly cooked, folded without snapping, and had a good bite.

Overall the slices were great and I will definitely go back.  I cannot yet say whether this is the best slice in Tarrytown, since this was my first stop, but I can say it is better than any slice in Stamford, CT. 

- Lunch Pail


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Baseball's Best Burger - Gateway Grizzles Ballpark - Sauget, IL

The below burger is submitted by Peter Cerone, and it looks awesome.  I wonder if the games get sold out because of the burger or the baseball team.

This beauty consists of a Krispy Kreme donut as the bun, 1/4 lb. burger, with bacon and cheese, served with a side of waffle fries.

Two Please.

- Lunch Pail

The Madurkis - Dalton's Deli - Norwalk, CT

The Madurkis is a favorite of Rob Young.  This hero sandwich is loaded up with chicken cutlet, bacon, melted cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and honey mustard.  As a bonus, Rob requests his with hot sauce.  I recently had the chance to enjoy a Madurkis, bu it seems Dalton's has slipped a bit from last summer when they first opened. 

Everything was great, except for the cutlet.  The hero roll was fresh, the bacon was crisp, plenty of cheese, not too much lettuce, and the honey mustard/hot sauce balance was perfect.  The chicken however was very dry, some parts were jerky dry.  This is most likely the result of the chicken sitting in the steam table too long.  I have had their chicken cutlet before and it was good, so I was surprised with the quality of it this time around.

Overall Dalton's is a good deli with respectable egg sandwiches and a good lunch menu.  If you are ever near the Merritt/Rte. 7 side of Norwalk, grab a Madurkis or the Doc's Panini.

- Lunch Pail

The Mighty Madurko

Friday, July 30, 2010

$1 Slice - 2 Bros. Pizza, NYC

Besides a McDonald's double cheeseburger, this is the second best way to spend $1.  It wasn't terrible and it wasn't great, but the benefit was much greater than the cost.  Good size slice, soft crust, decent sauce, but a little light on the cheese.  If I am ever near the place again and feeling a little hungry, I would get it again.

- Lunch Pail

$1 Slice

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chicken Wings - Coalhouse Pizza, Stamford, CT

A couple of weeks ago I met up with some old colleagues for lunch and based on the recommendation of Joe Keary, we decided on Coalhouse Pizza.  Mr. Keary claimed that these are the second best chicken wings that he has ever had.  He mentioned this on the phone as well as a few more times in the restaurant.  Based on these claims, everyone ordered chicken wings, and everyone ended up being disappointed in this decision, except Joe, after a few bites of the wings.

The menu for Coalhouse Pizza's chicken wings reads as follows:
MA RAINEY’S ROADHOUSE CHICKEN WINGS - Marinated for 24 hours in micro-brewed beer, with honey mustard, olive oil, garlic and oregano. Our succulent antibiotic and hormone-free chicken wings are loosely coated with panko bread crumbs and lightly fried.

Sounds pretty good right?

It is hard to describe this wing experience.  They tasted like soggy, burnt Shake N' Bake chicken.  Coalhouse breads their wings, similar to hooters, but definitely not as good.  I ordered 12 wings, 6 Jamaican Jerk and 6 Hot, and I couldn't tell which was which by the look of them or the taste.  The only thing I tasted was burnt panko breading.  Although these wings are towards the bottom of the list where I rank chicken wings, thinking a C- range.  I did manage to eat all 12 because I was hungry and do not like to waste food.
Joe said that the wings are better than their pizza, but based on my wing experience at Coalhouse, I am not sure if I want to find out if that is true or not.

- Lunch Pail

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pastrami, Egg & Cheese

Yesterday was Carnegie Deli day at the cafeteria, which means your choice of hot corned beef, pastrami, or roast beef.  The left overs of yesterdays lunch offering became the strong point of my breakfast this morning.  Changing it up a little bit, I chose a freshly baked croissant as the canvass of this piece of work.

It was delicious.

- Lunch Pail

Left overs for Breakfast

Thursday, July 8, 2010

5-8 Club - Minneapolis, MN

I was in Minneapolis recently for work and was able to meet up with my older brother for some dinner.  He recommended we go to the 5-8 Club for some Juicy Lucy's.  I have heard of this place before on the Travel Channel, so I knew what I was in for, but I did not expect it to be as good as it was.  In addition to the standard Juicy Lucy, they have 5 specialty Lucy's.  I went with the Pig Pen, a half pound burger stuffed with bacon and cheddar, and Matt went with the standard Juicy Lucy stuffed with American cheese.  The burgers were better than advertised.  They were perfectly cooked and oozed with cheese, the American oozed more than the cheddar.  Think of a chocolate lava cake, but with bacon and cheese.  The burger had a good crust from the high heat of the flat top, with a balance of grease and tenderness on the inside.  I think it took me less than 7 bites to send it down south.

Before the burgers however, we decided to get warmed up with a couple of appetizers.  Fried cheese curds and a 1/2 dozen buffalo wings.  The wings were decent, nothing to brag about.  The cheese curds on the other hand were phenomenal.  Deep fried morsels of white cheddar cheese dipped in marinara sauce that did not harden up like most mozzarella sticks.  I was very impressed with these and only wished we had more of them and that they were popular in the tri-state area.

I am scheduled to be out there on October, and I think we might have to do a double header with the 5-8 Club followed by Matt's Bar, which is just down the street from 5-8, and claims to be the originator of the Juicy Lucy.

-Lunch Pail 
The Pig Pen - Looks pretty simple on the outside
Inside Look - Pig Pen (L), Juicy Lucy w/ American (R), on a bed of Jo-Jo's
Basket of Fried Cheese Curds
6 Buffalo Wings - Decent at best

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Graduation Feast

There are 4 kids in my family and after each of our high school graduations we had Chinese food for dinner, so I guess you can say it is a family tradition.  Cheechman (the youngest of the 4) graduated recently and knowing that Chinese was on the menu was the only thing that got me through the 2.5 hr long ceremony. 

We had 10 people attending this feast and I was in charge of ordering.  I know the tastes of my family pretty well, but I was thrown a curve ball when Cheechie told me to order him Sweet N Sour chicken.  For as long as I can remember, Cheech was a General Tso's guy, so I was shocked/appalled that he made the switch to sweet and sour, which in my opinion is one of the worst items on the Chinese menu.

The order was broken down as follows (all large):

2 - General Tso's Chicken
1 - Sesame Chicken
2 - Boneless Ribs
1 - Chicken and Broccoli w/ Garlic Sauce
1 - Shrimp w/ Black Bean Sauce
1 - Pork Chow Mein
1 - Beef Lo Mein
1 - Pork Fried Rice
1 - Chicken Fried Rice
1 - Hot n Sour Soup
2 - Crab Rangoons
10 - Egg Rolls

This was ordered from Lucky House in Monroe, NY.  It isn't my favorite place in my hometown, but it is one of the better ones. 

All in all this was a great family dinner which had a ton of laughs and a few Bud Lights.

- Lunch Pail

Nice Sampler Plate