Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Monthly Archives: May 2012

Sac’s Place

Queens is becoming quite the culinary destination. People flock there for a wide variety of ethnic foods, from Indian and Chinese to Greek and Turkish. MG and I were in the area for a Mets game. Happily, I got to see the Mets win for the first time at CitiField. After, we were hungry.

We tried Sac’s Place a few years ago and were excited to go back. It was as I remembered. Pizza is available in two different ways: from the gas deck or from the wood-fired, brick oven. We got two pies from the brick oven.

Complimentary Bread
The complimentary bread was pretty good. There were a few pieces dotted with a bit of sauce and cheese. If we were having pasta, this would have been an excellent companion to the entree.

Small Salad
MG got a small salad ($7.95) which she said was sufficient.

Large Brick Pepperoni
The large Pepperoni ($20.45) was very tasty. It has an incredibly fresh and light flavor. If I was going to be picky, I could say that it could use a little more salt, but the pepperoni adds ample sodium goodness.

Brick Upskirt
The char on the bottom is nice, but not too extensive. The bottom is well cooked, but not cracker-crisp.

Slice of Meatball and Mushroom
I also got a small pie with meatball and mushroom ($12.00). The meatballs are boring. Skip them. The mushroom were very good, fresh and plump. Mushroom and pepperoni might be the move for me on my next visit.

Though the crust on either pie was not incredibly crisp, the pies did not taste underdone. The pizza seems very light even though it’s mostly flour and cheese. The mozzarella is applied in the perfect amount and is a great compliment to their excellent sauce.

Seating at Sac’s can get a little cramped, so don’t travel there with any additional bags or accouterments. The service is friendly and prompt. Definitely give them a shot if you are in the Astoria section of Queens.

Sac’s Place
2541 Broadway
Long Island City, NY 11106
718-204-5002
(Google Map)

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Chuck’s Margarita Grill

I thought there were many eating options around colleges. I was wrong. MG & I went to a show at UCONN and we needed someplace to have dinner. I did some searching for eateries in the immediate Storrs area. There was pizza and wings, wings and pizza, pizza, pizza, wings and wings. Seeing a pattern?

Exterior
Thankfully, a friend recommended Chuck’s Margarita Grill. From what I could discern, this restaurant is the merging of two chains. Chuck’s is a steakhouse, and Margarita Grill… well, you know. Here’s what’s interesting:

Steak Menu
This is the steakhouse menu. The more traditional menu is the Margarita Mexican food menu. I’m not sure what the pictured menu is supposed to be: Bottle of steak sauce? Bottle of Mezcal? Bull suppository?

Free Chips
Whatever menu you are ordering from, complimentary chips and salsa are provided. Nothing special, nothing bad.

Margaritas
We were at a Mexican restaurant, and it was nearing MG’s birthday, so it was Margarita time. They had Milagro tequila on the menu (a plus), so things were promising. The Margaritas were good, very good in fact, but not amazing. You could do worse.

MG and I both decided to forgo the steak portion of the menu and have some Mexican food. There was nothing terribly exciting or different about the offerings. They had the same options you can find at just about any Tex-Mex restaurant throughout the US: Burritos, chimichangas, tacos, fajitas, etc… there was nothing that caused an eyebrow to raise or to quicken the pulse of the adventurous eater.

Garlic Nachos
For appetizers, we got a couple dishes. First were the Tomato & Garlic Nachos with Bacon ($9.58). There were nachos, topped with cheese, garlic, and bacon. I know, that’s exactly what the description says. You are right, and that is what it was, nothing more. It may seem that I’m be facetious, but they tasted like a bag of nachos from the supermarket that were topped with some cheddar, some diced tomato, bacon, and some chopped garlic. It was then placed in an oven for a little while to melt the cheese. If that’s what you want, that’s what you would get. My point is that it tasted more “assembled” than “made” Perhaps I’m splitting hairs. They certainly did not skimp on the garlic. I only tried a bite. That was enough for me, but MG (who really enjoys garlic) enjoyed the dish.

Chipotle Fingers
We also got the Chipotle Tenders ($7.59). They are chicken fingers topped with a chipotle sauce. They tasted like something you could find at any chain restaurant. The crust had no crunch. The chipotle sauce was boring, not bad, but boring. There was no kick, no heat.

Chicken Chimichanga
For a main course, I got the Chicken Chimichanga ($13.99). It came with black beans and rice, guacamole and sour cream on top. The rice and beans were pretty good. The chimichanga was boring. The chicken was plentiful and properly cooked, but it tasted as though it had not been seasoned.

Beef Burrito
MG got the Beef Burrito Grande ($12.99) with a side of guacamole ($1.00). The beef inside was supposedly sirloin, but it definitely tasted like chuck. I won’t swear to it, I could be wrong. It was a little hard to tell since I think the beef was made without salt. Again, it was properly cooked, supplied in decent portion, but devoid of flavor.

Everything we had was properly cooked, but dull. Everything was properly made, but there is nothing about it that would send me back. The service was prompt and our hostess and waitress were pleasant and attentive. The d├ęcor of the restaurant is casual and pleasant, but I can’t say much about the food beyond, “They did not undercook or overcook anything.”


Chuck’s Margarita Grill

1498 Stafford Road
Storrs, CT 06268
860-429-1900
(Google Map)

Uncle Willy’s

Uncle Willy’s is a great little barbeque joint off I-95 in Connecticut. It is practically dipped in nostalgia. There are pictures and menus from barbeque shacks and houses around the country. Much like Willy’s, they look like small establishments that churn out good barbeque.

…and Uncle Willy’s is great. MG and I have eaten there many times before. The vibe inside is chill and the food has a home-cooked quality. What the heck does “home-cooked quality” mean? It tastes like food that has been prepared many times, through many different permutations, before settling on something that is simple and tasty. The barbeque flavor (at least of what I’ve had) is not complex, but just tastes right. There are a plethora of barbeque sauces that can be squirted onto your plate to add to the meal, from spicy to sweet, and savory to hot, whatever flavor you desire is available. I’ve never found any of Willy’s dishes to need the additional sauce.

Brisket Plate
As usual, MG got brisket. It is her go-to barbeque dish, and if you do the brisket right, she’ll likely give you repeat business. Mess up once? Oooooohhhh. It’s over for you. Willy’s brisket is tender and lean. The default sauce is slightly sweet, as she likes, but not sugary or cloying. Pictured is the dinner sized order that comes with a side and cornbread. MG got fried apples. I’m not a fan of fried apples, but she said they were delicious.

Burnt Ends
I opted for the Burnt Ends (half-pound). These are burnt ends in the truest sense: taken off the end of the brisket, laden with spices, stringy in some spots, super tender in others, and slathered with sauce. I’ve had the ends on multiple occasions, and though they are a little different each time, they are always delicious.

For side dishes/appetizers, we went a little outside the usual barbeque norms. Usually, hush puppies, fries, or green beans would be ordered. We went for fun finger food: jalapeno poppers and onion rings.

Jalapeno Poppers
The jalapeno poppers were great. The outside had a nice crunch and didn’t taste of pure flour. I’m not sure if the breading was a combination of breadcrumbs, flour, or cornstarch. Whatever it was, it was nice. The cheese was blazing hot, as would be expected, but after burning my lip on the first try, I learned to eat gingerly. There was a nice slice of fresh jalapeno in each popper. Unlike most restaurants, this offering was not served with any sour cream or dipping sauce. It did not suffer from the lack. Consider them highly recommended, bordering on “must-have”.

Onion Rings
The onion rings were fresh and tasty. They were not spectacular, but certainly not bad. If you are in the mood for some rings, these will fit the bill nicely. The onion is thick cut and juicy. The breading is applied in generous amount, but you will not feel like you are eating an onion sandwich at any point.

Duet of Soda
Uncle Willy’s is not long on ambiance. It is a “joint” in the purest sense. Come in casual clothes, take a seat and your meal will be brought to you on a plastic tray or two. There is a roll of paper towels at each table to keep yourself clean after mopping up sauce with your fingers. There is a nice soda selection, including a few ginger beers (which I really like). The counter folk ask how you are and they never ask you to hurry up when deciding what to eat from their large menu. Pull up and enjoy. Be sure to get a frequent eater card, because it is likely that after first try, you will be back.

Uncle Willy’s
403 Saw Mill Road
West Haven, CT 06516
203-479-4017
(Google Map)