The Hungry Man Eats

Chili’s Burritos and Procrastination

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We have reached the point now though where I have let nearly five months slip by without posting anything, which is a crazy long time to go between posts in the blogosphere. Now I am resisting the temptation to half-ass this post because right now I feel that posting just about anything is better than letting another day go by where I have posted nothing. This is actually a good way for me to feel surprisingly, but given the depression I have been fighting for a while now, for the longest time I had zero interest and motivation in posting anything, let alone half-assing it.

 
A while back I wrote about dining at Chili’s and how I had high hopes that their other main dishes would be an improvement on the one I had. Since that occasion I have let nearly ten months and about a half dozen trips to Chili’s occur. An interesting recent development that also had me deciding to wait just a bit longer to write again about Chili’s was the late summer addition to their menu of burritos.

 
Up until this point, one of my knocks on Chili’s was that they didn’t have as much of a variety as I would have preferred on the “Mex” side of the “Tex-Mex” continuum, though that may just be my personal complaint as they have things like tacos, quesadillas and fajitas on their menu already.

Their burrito offerings include:
• Grilled Smoked Chicken Burrito
• Smothered Prime Rib Burrito
• Smothered Smoked Chicken Burrito
• Smothered Carnitas Burrito

 
Of these choices the only one I have had is the Smothered Smoked Chicken Burrito. Now the elephant in the room of a question when it comes to discussing burritos is: “How does it compare to Chipotle?”

 
As I did not have the grilled option which would be the only option you could pick up and eat as you would with Chipotle, I can’t really compare with them. A better comparison would be how it measures up against an Enchilado style burrito from Baja Fresh. Now none of the burrito options from Baja Fresh really match this burrito from Chili’s, but the Burrito Ultimo and this burrito both contain rice, so they would be the closest in similarity.

 So let’s dive in and compare and critique:
• The Chili’s burrito was more generous with the chicken than the Baja Fresh burrito, but the pieces of chicken in the Baja Fresh Burrito were bigger.
• The Chili’s burrito has little in the way of veggies, they add pico de gallo as one of the fillings, but Baja Fresh includes green peppers and onion.
• Spiciness: Not much with the Baja Fresh burrito, but you can add as much or as little of their sauce options from their sauce bar to compensate. The Chili’s burrito has more kick to it with their smoky pasilla-honey chile sauce not just included as one of their fillings, but also as one of the ingredients they top it with.
• The Smotherings: Not a fan of the Baja Fresh sauce they use to smother it with or the cheese they use, it almost has a burnt bitter flavor. The Chili’s toppings taste much better (“Smothered with sour cream sauce & melted cheese. Topped with pasilla-honey chile sauce & chopped cilantro.)
• Sides: The Chili’s burrito comes with a cup of black beans on the side, the Baja Fresh burrito comes with a side of pico de gallo and some tortilla chips (that are usually a bit soggy from the sauce and cheese they smother it with). Personal preference here, I like the black beans from Chili’s myself, but sometimes they come out rather watery and it is more like a bean soup.
• Price: The Chili’s burrito as ordered cost $11.69, the Baja Fresh burrito with chicken usually costs under $7.00 and making it Enchilado style is usually $2 more.

 
My summary to all this is that the Baja Fresh burrito is a good bit cheaper and you can customize your sauce options more, but that the Chili’s burrito tastes better, almost exclusively because of the smoky pasilla-honey chile sauce. I think it tastes better than any of the sauces you can get from Baja Fresh.

 
So to wrap all this up, if you are in a Chili’s and want a burrito instead of the other Mex style offerings, by all means go for it! If you are not in a Chili’s and have a craving for a burrito, you can likely find something you will enjoy that costs less from some other place, go there instead…

Longhorn Steakhouse: Eating There is Never a Mis-steak

 

Tilapia and Grilled Shrimp with Mac and Cheese

Tilapia and Grilled Shrimp with Mac and Cheese

I recently had the good fortune to eat out at the Longhorn Steakhouse, indeed I have been there multiple times over the past three years or so. I am not the sort of person who goes and gets the same thing at a restaurant every time I go, so I have had the opportunity to try a variety of their meals.
In my opinion, to compare where I think Longhorn Steakhouse fits in in the grand scheme of steakhouses you may have tried, I would slot them in one step above Outback (with higher prices to match) and two steps below Ruth’s Chris (pricy, but you get the quality that you are paying for).
Enough chit-chat, how was the food? Let’s take a closer look at those dishes that I have tried as well as others I have dined with:

 

Wild West Shrimp: I have had this twice, once on its own as an appetizer and once more with the Best of Longhorn Sampler. I was one of the first things I ever tried from Longhorn, and gave me an excellent first impression (even though it wasn’t steak) as prepared on its own, I was impressed with the spicy crispy coating that was enhanced by the cherry peppers. It had more kick than you would have expected from a steakhouse appetizer, but was not so much spiciness that you found yourself going for your drink constantly. The portion was large enough that you could easily have this dish in the place of an entrée. The ranch dressing was a good compliment to the shrimp, I would not have thought of combining the two.

 
Best of Longhorn Sampler: This combines the Wild West Shrimp with their Grilled White Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms and their Firecracker Chicken Wraps. In this setting, the shrimp did not shine as well when I had it, the coating was not crispy and the shrimp seemed smaller. The stuffed mushrooms were generously stuffed with cheese as well as floating in a “creamy blend of four melted cheeses” The picture online does not show the ocean of cheese than flows into every corner of your plate, even in the places where you do not want it (like forming a pool for your chicken wraps as well as seeping under the dish on the plate the shrimp sits in), that said, the cheese tastes good and the white cheddar they use is actually rather sharp. The chicken wraps stood out here, going well with the avocado –lime dipping sauce they also serve with the sampler (I think I even prefer this sauce to dip the shrimp in). For only $10.99 this would also be a good substitute for an entrée.

 
Primetime Burger: At $13.99, it is pricy for a burger, but it has a lot going on. It is a half-pound beef patty with shaved prime rib on top of that along with sautéed onions, mushrooms and Swiss cheese too. You also get small cups of au jus and horseradish sauce along with it. In theory this sounds excellent, in reality it tastes excellent, but reality will also bring you a messy, self-destructing burger with all these fillings and sauces. The bun just can’t handle all this stuff so be sure to have a fork at the ready. A note about that bun, it has a really cool looking Longhorn logo branded in the top of it. It looks cool, but it smells weird and tastes awful. You have been warned… I almost forgot that the parmesan garlic fries are top notch with this burger, you will not be leaving any behind.

 
Flat Iron Steak: It is a cut of sirloin that has been marinated in…something? It’s hard to tell exactly what as this marinade is rather lacking in flavor. That said, it still makes for an adequate cut of sirloin, but of all the dishes I have had from Longhorn, this one is the least impressive, and it is not one I would recommend, but if you must get it, the rarer the better, otherwise get a plain sirloin with a topping/sauce, or step up to a higher cut of steak.

 
White Cheddar & Bacon Stuffed Filet: Speaking of higher cuts, we now move to the filet. I have had this dish twice. The first time, I believe that it was on one of their promo menus with two other stuffed filet options for a bit lower price than what it goes for now, and I could also swear that it was bigger back then. The second time I had it was after it joined the regular menu, still tasty but smaller and over the $20 mark. By all means if you like bacon and cheddar and a filet mignon, go for it! But if you are in it simply for the filet, you would be happier with…

 
Flo’s Filet: I personally have not had this dish, but whenever my mom goes to Longhorn, she gets this dish every single time. Of the filets she has had over the years at different restaurants, she says that it is the best one she has had outside of the ones they have at Ruth’s Chris.

 
Brown Butter Lemon Tilapia & Grilled Shrimp: I am one of those difficult people, take me to a steakhouse and you will find me getting something from the seafood section of the menu rather often. “Why get the fish when their specialty is steak?” Two reasons: I really like seafood and usually the seafood quality is as good as the steak quality at most steakhouses (steer clear of the chicken dishes though…) Tilapia is not a very exciting type of fish, mildly flavored and undistinctive, it is the Toyota Corolla of seafood, reliable and not too pricy. It’s what you do with the tilapia that makes or breaks it. With this dish, everything came together well, the brown butter lemon sauce complimented the fish without overpowering it and the rice below soaked up the excess sauce. My only complaint was that the shrimp that top this dish were over-seasoned, and by that I mean way too much salt. If it was just a cook with a heavy hand, no big deal, but if the shrimp are that way again, than I will have to call it the main flaw in an otherwise great dish.

 
Longhorn Salmon: Do you fear cooking fish at home? Worried that it will make your place smell fishy? Afraid you will overcook and ruin it? If so, then this salmon dish is for you. The salmon is cooked well, the bourbon marinade is delicious and one I would buy if I saw it in the grocery and it does not cost too terribly much (7 oz. $16.99, 10 oz. $19.49) But if you are ok with cooking up some salmon at home, get a sauce you like and cook it up in your own kitchen for half the price. You can easily create your own version of this one at home, choose another dish.

 
Chocolate Stampede: They say that you may need a friend to share this one with. They are not lying about this. This is one of the biggest desserts that I have seen in a chain restaurant. That said, it is only $8.49, so split two ways it is only $4.25 each, add a third person to the plate (there will still be plenty for everyone) and you are now under three bucks a person. It is rich and the dark chocolate parts are as dark as they look. Unless this dessert is your meal, bring friends.

 
Brownie Sundae: For some reason it is not listed on their website, so I have no link to it, but this is one of the best desserts I have ever had. They use two Ghirardelli chocolate brownies served warm and topped with hot fudge and vanilla ice cream. Those brownies are the perfect amount of moist, really really dark and chocolaty and when the ice cream melts on top and below them in the dessert glass, it makes for heaven on earth. My words simply cannot do this dessert justice, if you want dessert at Longhorn, get this one!

 
Random Thoughts and Quick Points:
• Their side salads are above average for a chain and their croutons are uniquely flavorful.
• The mac and cheese you can get as an upgraded side is almost too cheesy ad rather salty.
• Their service pacing is almost always too fast, I guarantee that if you get the side salad ahead of your main course, your main course will come out before you are halfway done with your salad.
• Usually a good dish to try that tells you how good a steakhouse is would be the prime rib. I have not tried the one at Longhorn yet. I promise to rectify that error as soon as possible.
Don’t want to spend an arm and a leg at a fancy steak place, but want something better than a Sizzler or an Outback, Longhorn will fulfill your needs.
Hungry Man Eats Score 85/100

Let’s Ketchup!!!

Lets Ketchup

It’s time to pick up the posting pace, the Hungry Man has fancy plans, and pants to match. I had a follow up visit with my nutritionist just the other day (June 3rd) and I had gained 1.5 pounds since my last visit. This drops my total weight loss since March 10th to only 2 pounds, which is really nothing to brag about as I have been attempting to follow my nutritionist’s advice for nearly three months now.

So what gives with that? Remember a few posts back how I mentioned that I was depressed and was seeing a therapist about it? Therapy alone was just not cutting the mustard, so she recommended a psychiatrist who I now also see who has prescribed medication for the depression. Unfortunately the depression has grown markedly worse over the past 4-6 weeks and I would probably be a good bit worse off but for the medication and therapy that I am already on. Trying to lose weight is challenging enough under regular circumstances, add depression to the mix and I should be ecstatic that I am still down 2 pounds since March 10th. But since I am depressed I am not ecstatic, I am kicking myself for not doing a better job.

This makes an interesting variety of things that I can discuss here in assorted combinations:

  • Food – the usual Hungry Man blog fare
  • Food and losing weight – my attempts to lose weight and the eating/recipes/choices that go along with weight loss
  • Food and depression – how does feeling down all the time affect what I eat, and how do I eat well when I feel down all the time?
  • Weight loss and depression – Now that is a challenge there, how the hell do you successfully eat well, lose weight and be depressed at the same time (especially while I am really struggling with the depression part)?

The unfortunate thing with attempting to lose weight is that people fail more often then they succeed. With weight loss, people who become overweight in the first place have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight after losing the weight than people who are at a healthy weight have to work to maintain their healthy weight.

Not too long ago, I was puttering around the web looking as some assorted weight loss blogs, and one in particular caught my attention. She lost as many as 55 pounds and was about 20-25 pounds away from her goal when things got off track. The next to last post was back in January and she had regained all but 9 of the pounds he had lost. Her last post was January 29th. I am sure her story is continuing to unfold out there in the real world, but the story presented thus far is only one of a failed attempt.

With depression, it can often be a lifelong battle to maintain the upper hand against it through therapy, medication and other measures. I have also seen a number of blogs that detail the ongoing battles that people have had fighting depression and most people never fully recover, they manage their depression and it can flare up or go away for a while, but rarely does it ever go away for good. I thought mine had, I stopped taking medication some time in 1998 or 1999 and seemed to be fine till around 2010 or so, that’s nearly a dozen years that I thought I was in the clear.

So long story short, I have two big challenges in front of me, neither of which has a guarantee of success, but it is better to try and fail than to never try at all.

Till next time, stay hungry my friends…

Celebrate a New Beginning With Cake

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The start of a serious effort to lose weight is a serious occasion, you’re eating habits are about to change and many people say that the first week is the toughest as you switch over from eating poorly to eating better. It can be a reckoning of where you have been and where you are about to go, blah blah blah. In my first week what do I encounter?

Cake!

Lots and lots of cake!

Nothing says it’s time to start eating healthy and losing weight like eating lots of cake, and other things too, but we will get there soon enough.

I have a very good excuse, you see, my birthday was on March 9th, which fell on a Monday this year, so I was getting together to see the family the following weekend. Also, my niece happens to share my birthday, so the festivities are not just to celebrate my birthday but to also celebrate my niece’s (let’s be honest though, when it is a five year old girl, the festivities are all about her, you are just lucky to be along for the ride). What comes along with birthdays? Cake of course, the one my mom baked for me and the one that was picked up for my niece. My cake was a celebration of chocolate in its many different forms, while the cake that my niece picked out was a celebration of My Little Pony.

Now I realize we are in late May now and I am recounting things from two months ago. To be specific, my visits with both the doctor and nutritionist were on March 10, but no worries, we will be caught up in the present again soon enough.

Not only was I presented with (and consumed) generous amounts of cake, but there were other foods as well and several meals eating out that, when tracked (using the Lose It! App) racked up way more calories than expected. How many? I consumed five days’ worth of calories in the three days I was in town. Aside from the party food and cake, I made a number of poor choices and the good choices I made did not help the big picture.

The day after I got back in town, I had a follow-up meeting with the doctor to see how my blood pressure was doing. It was better, it measured 142 over 90 something which was actually the lowest it had been since I started my medication (but still too high). My weight was up only 1.5 pounds, which I considered a small victory as I know what all I ate and was certain I would have gained more.

Next post I will be playing catch up to get us to the present…

Course Corrections: Part 3

Sad Pizza :(

Last post I talked about the first set of marching orders I received from my nutritionist and listed an assortment of incorrect things I was doing to get me to this point.

As part of the aforementioned marching orders, I was given several recipes and suggestions to follow for healthy meals and healthier foods to have around. When I first saw the recipes, I was rather pleased as most of them looked delicious and easy to make as well, but at the same time, most of them called for ingredients I did not have lying around my kitchen. So off to the supermarket I went…

Now I wasn’t about to go and overhaul my whole pantry in one fell swoop, and I also neglected to bring any kind of list along either, on top of all this, I was stopping off at the supermarket on my way home from an appointment right before dinner and rather hungry too. I was making every possible misstep you could make before setting foot in the grocery

In the end, it went as well as I could have hoped, I focused on two areas to pick up food: Fish and vegetables.

For the fish, I had two main things I wanted to grab to start things off, tilapia and sardines. My nutritionist told me that tilapia was a good fish to use for a dinner and one of the recipes I was provided with was for a tilapia fillet with an avocado and salsa topping, so I found a bag of frozen tilapia fillets, 40 oz., 10 fillets 4 oz. apiece, the perfect serving size! Sardines also came recommended as they are loaded with nutrients and healthy fats, a tin plus some crackers can make a healthy light meal. I will have to do some research to find out what other interesting things you can do with them. Now on this particular day they were marked down on sale from their normal price of $1.19 a tin to only $1.00 per tin. I decided to pick up eight tins. Now sardines and other fish that come in cans and tins like that have a bit of a reputation of being a questionable culinary selection, probably because of the smell and relatively low price. To throw out some stereotypes, the popular choices amongst hermits and cat ladies, or survivalists for that matter. Yes, that is who I am, a grim survivalist restocking my bomb shelter… I also picked up a fine looking fillet of fresh salmon that was on clearance as its sell by date was today.

Now it was time for the vegetables. At some point in the future I expect I will be making better use of the fresh veggie section as I get better at planning out my meals (and eating more vegetables), but on this day I made a beeline straight for the frozen food section. Several reasons, the one above as well as frozen vegetable can be just as fresh and nutritious as their fresh counterparts (indeed a number of frozen veggies are frozen within less than a day after being picked (those fresh ones may be several days old by the time they make it to your grocery shelf)) Convenience plays a role too, just grab whatever you need from the bag and pop it back in the freezer, also frozen vegetables will stay good a whole lot longer than fresh.

I picked up several bags, chopped onions, chopped spinach, stir fry blend, ranchero blend (the kidney beans in it must make it “ranchero”) and mixed vegetables (the school lunch blend as I like to call it). These veggies are either going to be used as sides for dinners or as a supplement to something else (the onions and spinach I plan on mixing in with eggs as part of a breakfast recipe).

I didn’t pick up anything “bad” otherwise, though I did pick up a package of olive loaf (we will talk about that another time), and a frozen pizza (we will also talk about that another time).

I now have some food and knowledge, so now the hard part begins…

Course Corrections: Part 2

Sad Pizza :(

In my last post I was talking about some of the issues I have been dealing with recently as well as the new health issues regarding my weight and cholesterol that were discovered when I went and had my first full physical in ages.
I said that I had an appointment with the nutritionist that same day, as it turned out, my appointment with the nutritionist was first, so by the time I saw the doctor, I was already knowing about the changes that I was going to be making to my diet. The news the doctor had for me just reinforced the fact that I needed to get working on these dietary changes right away.
So what did the nutritionist have to say? For those of you who already have been eating healthy or have seen a nutritionist before, nothing that comes next is a surprise:
• More fruits and vegetables
• Less fat and carbs
• More fish consumption (twice a week)
• 2000 calories a day (for me, at 267 pounds this will make me lose weight, however as I do lose weight that number will creep lower)
• No margarine
• Reduce your processed food intake
• Try to make your breakfast bigger and more healthy
• Worth repeating: More fruits and veggies
• Oh yes, and get exercising
She also gave me a sheet that had a guide to the different types of food I should be eating with the appropriate serving size and examples of those foods. It also included the types of servings I should be aiming for at each meal and 2 snacks a day for a 2000 calorie target.
Now everything she discussed with me seemed doable and at first did not seem like it would be a huge adjustment compared to what I had been doing, or was it? After all I would not be overweight and in this situation if I had been doing things right in the past. So what all was I doing wrong?
• If you eat the entire pizza, that would be binge eating
• Skipping/missing meals will make you more likely to eat more at the next meal you do eat
• You made a healthy meal, but you ate enough of it to feed two people, your portion control was your undoing for this meal
• You were proud because you selected a can of soda instead of a bottle to go with your lunch, which was a poor choice, you could have had water instead…
• You thought you had a good day when you made sure you had fruit with your lunch and a vegetable with your dinner, but that’s only 2 servings on the day, not enough fruit and veggies
• Oh yes, and not enough exercise
My bad habits more than outweighed any of the positive steps I would take (when I would take them) and doing things like eating a whole pizza would cause you to take in more than a day’s worth of calories in one sitting, and probably causes more harm to your body than just the caloric surplus.
So now what? Find out what my next steps were tomorrow…

Course Corrections: Part 1

Sad Pizza :(

Do you remember back in the good old days when I used to actually post entries on this blog? I sure do, I was looking over my activity and discovered that I have posted a whopping two entries in the past six months.

So what has been going on to cause such a disruption in the universe of the Hungry Man? You may recall that back in July my dad had a heart attack and died from its complications less than a week later. That takes a while to get over, and I really have not been in the mood to do much of any writing, for this blog or otherwise.

What else have I been up to given that state of recent affairs? Well, being depressed and eating mostly, though that makes it sound more drastic than it really was. I was still mostly going to work and getting out and about, but my heart was not in it, my heart was into eating though and I probably put on around 20 pounds since last July. That’s not so bad now is it? It is a problem if you are already overweight to begin with to start with…

To start to get to the point here, I got some help for my state of mind and started to see a therapist towards the end of last year, and in March I had my first proper physical since who knows when to find out the state of my body, as it happens I also had an appointment scheduled with a nutritionist that same day at the same office.

The numbers that day and a few days later when I got my blood work back were not good:

  • I weighed 267 pounds (on a 6’1” frame)
  • My blood pressure was 200 over something (I don’t think they ever told me the diastolic number, but they did say that if I was showing any other symptoms or signs of discomfort that I would have been sent straight to the ER)
  • My cholesterol was 276
  • My triglycerides were really high as well
  • And the icing on the cake was that I was pre-diabetic (though at the lowest possible measurement, one digit lower would have had me at the highest end of normal)
  • Also, though not a news flash, I had just turned 39 the day before, so I am no longer young…

This is what a wake up call looks like, though the alarm had been beeping away and I was sleeping through it since July, or for the last few years to be honest.

So, now what? As mentioned before, I also had an appointment with a nutritionist that same day, we will find out what she had to say tomorrow…

Chili’s: Mostly Good, But I Have a Beef With Them

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     I recently had the good fortune to have a dinner out at Chili’s, the last time I had a chance to go to a Chili’s was over 10 years ago, so they are not in my rotation of places to go out to eat, chain or otherwise. I could not even remember what I had the last time I went there, and my only recollection of it was that it took forever to get seated, the service was slow and the food unmemorable. That said, the outing to that aforementioned Chili’s was on only its second Friday night it had even been open, so we were just asking for complications to a smooth dining experience. We went to the same location, for me it had been nearly 11 years since the last time I was there or to any Chili’s, so I safely assumed that any growing pains it had from being a recent addition to the local dining scene were long past.
      It was a rather meh start to the meal as the server was rather slow to get to our table, we had arrived at an awkward time as it was still a bit before 5:00 late Sunday afternoon.
If you have had a chance to get to a Chili’s in the past year and a half or so you have likely noticed something called a Ziosk. What is this thing on your table? According to Chili’s: “Ziosk tablets enable guests to see menu items, play games, view news, order food and beverages and ‘pay on demand;’ giving guests control over their dining experience. Ziosk is fully integrated to the restaurant’s point-of-sale system, which enables guests to easily order desserts and drinks and also pay their check when they choose.”
      I fiddled around with it a bit while we were waiting for our server to appear, as we were approaching the 10 minute mark, I decided to click the call server button to see if that was what we needed to do to get any kind of service. Apparently not. About two to three minutes later most likely of his own volition and no slave to a lowly machine, our server appeared. Now if it was me running a restaurant or Chili’s where I had something newfangled and unique for a customer to interact with (and possibly spend more money while doing so), the first thing I would instruct my servers to do would be to first welcome you and then say something like “Would you like to tell you about our Ziosk’s?” while pointing said machine out on the table. Get a yes or no answer and proceed accordingly.

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      Now when you, the customer, do something on the Ziosk that requires the server’s attention, it starts flashing a red light at the top of the device. I have no idea what a server may do to make it stop blinking, but our server did none of those things. Through a good portion of our meal, the light just kept blinking, perhaps as a warning light to the machines to not meddle to deeply in the affairs of man, or perhaps it was doing its best imitation of a lighthouse blinking a notice to passing ships in the distance that our table was near and to stay safely out to sea, at least that worked, throughout our meal our table stayed shipwreck free. It shut off automatically after an hour, the only true symbolism being that our server was lazy/oblivious. Score: Humans 1, Ziosk 0.
      Now, about the food, whenever an opportunity comes along to have fresh guacamole made tableside, the answer is almost always yes. The server whipped up a fresh batch of guacamole right there for us, the only thing he did not do was slice open an avocado or two right there in front of us. I only mention that because I have been to other restarants that do that, and you know exactly how fresh your avocado is. That said, it looked really fresh and was a truly appetizing shade of green. It was a standard preparation, I just wish it had a few more jalapenos as I prefer my guacamole with some kick. There was also a red salsa that accompanied the chips for the guacamole. The salsa was a smooth pureed blend that had a pleasingly mild flavor, doesn’t sound very exciting but most mild, non-chunky salsas I have come across in restaurants have less flavor than this one. The chips came out warm, they were fresh tasting but also rather thin and fragile, they were fine with the salsa, but the guacamole was too much of a match for them. I broke so many chips while trying to scoop ever shrinking reasonably sized quantities of guacamole that every other scoop was sending a rescue chip in after the broken piece left behind from the last aborted scoop. Score: Guacamole 1, Chips 0.

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       On to the main dish… Whenever I dine at a Tex-Mex or Mexican restaurant, I generally choose the beef or steak option over chicken, when done right, it can be a better experience then even the most perfectly prepared chicken. Also, chicken is a very standard, at home kind of protein to eat, but good quality beef or steak prepared over a grill like you can often get in a restaurant is more special, especially with how expensive it is getting these days. That logic is why I selected the Top Shelf Beef Short Rib Enchiladas for my main dish, not just to choose beef over chicken, but also because I wanted a bit better of a beef than the seasoned ground beef which would have come with the plain old beef enchiladas. Unfortunately, the beef in this dish was some of the most disappointing beef I have ever had in a Tex-Mex dish or any dish for that matter. I should have taken a picture of one of the more unpleasant looking morsels, but given the high picture resolution of today’s screens on electronic devices, I refuse to be held responsible for dropped coffee mugs and shattered monocles when people see and react to a larger than life piece of such unpleasantness staring them in the face. Three words will have to suffice: Gray, fatty, flavorless. The only positive thing I can say about the beef was that it was tender. That said, everything else about the dish was actually pretty good. The green chile sauce was tangy and flavorful, the three cheese blend was everything you could expect from multiple cheeses playing together nicely, they were not particularly generous with either the corn and black bean salsa or the pico de gallo, but what I tasted was also flavorful. The black beans and rice that came with the dish were also better than what you may sometimes get from places like this, the rice was not dry and the beans were not watery, both were necessary to fill out the meal as the enchiladas themselves were on the small side. It cost $11.89 for this dish at the Chili’s I went to, but I would pay that much again right here and now to remove the memory from my mind of biting in to the fatty beef and the resulting mouth feel. Score: Everything else about my dish 1, Beef 0
      After all that I split an order of their Skillet Toffee Fudge Brownie, this was a fine dessert with a rich chocolate flavor and the toffee added a crunch and flavor that complimented the chocolate well. It cost $7.39 which seems a bit pricy, especially compared to the entrée, but seems that inexpensive desserts even at chain restaurants are a rarity these days. Score: The dessert itself 1, its price 0.
       My overall impression of Chili’s, aside from the beef fiasco, is tentatively positive, I came away from the beef fiasco thinking not that the food quality was poor, but instead that I simply selected poorly and that I would have likely enjoyed almost any other dish that I would have selected. They also have some delicious looking hamburgers that I would want to try out the next time I go. The food there, other than their desserts is a good value, eyeballing their menu I spotted no meal pricier than $18.99 and a good portion of their dishes were actually under $12.00. The jury is still out on Chili’s for me, but I have a feeling that once I find a main dish better than what I had this time that I will have better things to say…
Hungry Man Eats Score: 66/100
http://www.chilis.com

Coffee that Tastes Like Beer: Brilliant or Revolting?

Rumple_Minze
I love coffee and I also love beer, but today we are going to talk about coffee. Specifically because Starbucks has decided to test out a new beverage called the Dark Barrel Latte. According to a Starbucks spokesperson, the Dark Barrel Latte is made with espresso, topped with whipped cream, a dark caramel drizzle and comes blended with a “chocolaty stout flavored sauce”. Some people who have had the beverage say that the flavor is rather reminiscent of a dark beer much like a Guinness.
Regrettably at this point in time, the beverage is only being tested select stores in Ohio and Florida, so the Hungry Man will not have a chance to give the experiment a try.

I have had some interesting flavors of coffee in the past. I recall a series of breakfast themed coffees that had flavors that included maple syrup, French toast and yes, bacon. The all tasted good as would be expected for the first two flavors and even the bacon flavored coffee tasted pretty decent, but is there anything bacon flavored that doesn’t taste good? I also remember sampling a spicy coffee that was branded as a Tabasco flavored coffee. As I like both spicy things and coffee, this beverage should have been a grand slam, but fiery coffee at a fiery temperature just did not work for me, but I could also see how it may well be somebody’s favorite drink ever, a love/hate king of thing if there ever was one.

But back to our coffee that is reminiscent of beer. Have you ever had a bit too much to drink? Of course you probably have, you are a member of the human race! Well what is better the next morning than a nice hot cup of coffee brewed extra strong, other than an icepack for the head? But let’s say after a night of drinking a goodly quantity of beer that you decide to try out a Dark Barrel Latte? This may end poorly… I recall back in my college years when I was out at a bar with some friends, we went to a restaurant called Tia’s Tex-Mex that used to be somewhat widespread, but now apparently has only one location left on Florida. One of the things that they were known for was their happy hour frozen margarita, all day on Mondays and Tuesdays back in the day. So we partook in some frozen margaritas, and as we enjoyed ourselves more and judgment began to go out the window. We decided to try some other stuff and have some shots. So I ask you dear reader, what is the absolutely worst possible choice and disgustingly incongruent thing to have after multiple frozen margaritas?

Rumple Minze shots…

So the next hung over morning, I head to the bathroom and start to brush my teeth, as soon as I taste the peppermint flavored toothpaste I nearly hurled in the sink, why? For those of you not in the know, Rumple Minze is a strong peppermint flavored German schnapps. The absolutely last thing I needed to be doing after the night before was tasting more peppermint, I swear it wasn’t until the morning after that morning that I felt like I no longer had a peppermint aftertaste in my mouth.

So I ask again, how well do you think that Dark Barrel Latte would taste after a few Guinness’s the night before? Perhaps somebody with a younger, stronger stomach will say, “Just fine Hungry Man, just fine…”

Link Roundup Volume 1

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Link Roundup Volume 1

Nothing says, “Hey it’s been a while since I posted something, but I don’t have any ideas for what to post,” then posting a link roundup post. The stock photo above represents my current level of inspiration for posting, a few bedraggled crumbs of creativity on an otherwise empty plate. So instead I will let other people do the hard work, link to their stories and write up something short, witty and insightful about their story and hopefully entertain you in the process and the site I linked to gets another click from you the dear reader…

  • In the news media, there are news reports and stories that can be informative, but not timely or related to current events that can be used as a space filler on a slow news day, they are called canned stories because they can be used a lot longer than the typical news story and can sometimes be repeated after a decent interval in time. Well this isn’t a canned story, but it is a “canned story” from the Washington Post about how canned tuna is not as popular as it used to be. I used to eat tuna a lot more when I was younger, usually in the form of a tuna fish sandwich packed in my lunch for school. These days I get most of my tuna via sushi, I am probably not alone.
  • I have written about McDonalds before and will certainly write about them again in the future, they are the elephant in the room when it comes to American fast food, or even eating out in general. In this story, McDonalds is fighting the uphill battle against the perception that low prices=low quality. There was one interesting quote that stuck out at me regarding their volume and high turnover of food and its freshness, as said by a McDonalds executive: “The produce and the products that we have at breakfast and across the menu are fresher than — no disrespect intended — what most of you have in your refrigerators” And they would be right…
  • I have a gut feeling that you will find this story interesting. Apparently digestive tract bacteria may influence us to select food that is beneficial to the bacteria, but perhaps unhealthy for us…
  • Did you know there was such a thing as a breakfast club sandwich? I didn’t even though it makes perfect sense that such a thing would exist, check out this excellent looking recipe for one on this blog.
  • And finally for dessert, check out this recipe for a no bake chocolate lasagna.

Hopefully you will find something above that strikes your fancy and is food for the mind…

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