Archive for Bland

Longhorn, an Uninspired Lunch Experience

Posted in Food, Life, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2012 by urbannight

After going to a movie, my roommate wanted to go to lunch.  He decided Longhorn sounded good.  We saw it being built and now it was open.  As a point of interest, it was formerly the site of a Lonestar steakhouse.  They were really good, had amazing rye bread and the best black bean soup ever.  They discontinued the black bean soup and I stopped going there.  I have never gotten the hang of black bean soup so I went there for that rather than the awesome bread or great steaks. Longhorn demolished the old steakhouse and built up a new building.

The tables were lovely, the decor was good (ironically, it was filled with the Texas lonestar emblem).  The bread was a honey wheat.  It was a small round loaf that was served sliced almost all the way through.  The only problem was that is was not soft.  It was more like toast.  I don’t like toast to begin with and I’m not overly fond of wheat in general.  So I skipped it.  The roommate tried it and did NOT have another slice.

Considering the pricing, I didn’t expect such an uninspired salad.  I don’t like tomatoes, so I asked for none.  I guess that mean no croutons either.  Because I didn’t get any and my roommate did.  Or was it because I asked for my dressing on the side and they thought that because I didn’t eat the bread and I didn’t want the dressing on it that I must not want croutons as well?  I like a hint of dressing flavor.  I happen to like salad greens and don’t want my salad drowning in dressing.  I dip my tines into the dressing and then into the salad.

If I had known the cucumber would be minced up all over the salad I would have said no cucumbers as well.  Especially since they were not peeled.  Now I know the peel is totally edible.  I just don’t like it.  Also, cukes have a stronger flavor and it doesn’t actually go very well with my dressing of choice.  The salad itself was boring iceberg with shredded carrot and purple cabbage.  More and more places are mixing iceberg with darker salad greens as the average patron is more nutrition aware than in the past.  At these prices, they could have splurged for some better lettuce.  The only thing positive about the salad was the freshness and crispness of the iceberg lettuce.  Once I ate the salad the bowl was almost half full of the diced cucumbers I didn’t eat.

The main course came now.  It looked good, if a bit lonely, on the over-sized plate. A 6 oz steak with a side of potatoes didn’t fill more than half the plate.  They should use smaller plates for good presentation on smaller steaks.  The steak was cooked perfectly.  Medium Rare is my choice for steak.  I’ve been known to order rare as well, if I anticipate leftovers.  That way the reheated portion is not overcooked.  The steak was tender and juicy.  What it lacked was any flavor at all.  I did the one thing I never usually have to do at a steak restaurant.  I had to put salt and pepper on the steak.

My roommate, who was eating his sides first, finally started in on his steak and said that yes, something was wrong with the steak.  Because it was perfect to him.  He grew up with a mother who didn’t really season anything.  Egg salad is egg and miracle whip, no seasoning.  He was used to very very bland food as normal.  Most steakhouses have their own seasoning.  If they didn’t, every steakhouse that could cook a GOOD steak would taste exactly alike and they need something to make their steaks stand out from the others.  We think that the kitchen forgot to season the steaks.

The side of mashed potatoes was very very good.  Of course, when I added salt and pepper to the steak, I got the potatoes too.  I hadn’t tried them before I seasoned everything.  At that point, I didn’t think it would hurt them.

When we left, my roommate also indicated he didn’t think he would go there again either.  I sure hope he was joking when he said the water’s cost three dollars.  I know he wasn’t joking about not liking the fact that there was rarely anyone at the host stand at the front entrance.  He only noticed it on the way out, I had a good view of it the entire time we were there and no one was ever watching it.  As a result, people were coming in and having to wait around until wait staff saw them.  Even though it wasn’t busy so there should have been no reason for them having to wait at all.

Do Not Call it ‘Cajun’ and the Mayor’s Tax

Posted in Economics, Economy, Food, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by urbannight

This morning I went to try out Wheatfields.  A new eatery just a block away from home.  ‘New’ meaning it’s been there a year but I refused to eat there.  It used to be a wonderful European pastry shop with some soups and sandwiches.  You really went there for the desserts.  The building was sold and the owners forced them out because they wanted to charge a higher rent on the place.  So they brought in a regional chain.

The service was great.  My server was rather delicious looking himself.  Very pleasant and he went back to the kitchen to get me more seasoning for my soup.  I’ll get to the soup in a moment.

First, I’ll tell you about the half order of hot beef sandwich.  The potatoes were good with no lumps.  Since moving to Nebraska, getting mashed potatoes without lumps is a challenge.  They think that they much leave lumps to prove they used real potatoes.  I’m from Idaho.  Lumpy mashed potatoes is a sign of a lazy cook.  In grade school I could quickly use a hand masher and get smooth potatoes without using butter or a lot of cream.  I used about a table spoon or two of milk depending on the number of potatoes.  That’s it.  So the mash passed my standards.

The gravy was nothing to write home about.  But it was homemade beef gravy.  Not the super dark brown glop you often get on open faced hot beef sandwiches.  On one hand it was my father’s ordinary gravy.  On the other hand it was better than most everywhere else.  And I didn’t even need to add any pepper.

The beef was to die for.  It was an amazing roast that was shredded and put on the sandwich.  No slices folded together.  I thought it odd that it didn’t come with a steak knife.  Until I cut into it with my fork.  No knife needed for this sandwich.

I ordered a half order.  It was huge.  Half of the half order is now in my fridge for tomorrow.

They had two soups for today.  One was Tomato and Cheese.  I don’t like cheese soups in general and don’t like tomatoes.  I tried the other one.  Cajun Shrimp soup.  Let me count the flaws…..

1. The shrimp was salad shrimp.

2. Bland

3. Beyond bland into absolute lack of flavor.

The soup seemed to be a broth with a little bit of onion, some chopped carrots, and some cut tomato.  To this was added rice, salad shrimp, and some tomato paste.  There was supposedly some Cajun seasoning in there as well.  Cajun food is not normally bland.  Even if it isn’t spicy it normally doesn’t have a complete lack of any flavor at all.

I asked for some Cayenne pepper.  They didn’t have any but the kitchen sent me two little tubs of spice.  One had about 1T of cajun seasoning and the other had a chili power that was paprika based with some cayenne and some other chili in it.  I put half the cajun and a bit of the chili in it.  Better.  I then added all the rest of the cayenne and half of the chili.  MUCH better.

Rice, shrimp, and tomato paste does not make a dish Cajun.  Scaring the dish with the bottle of Cajun seasoning does not make is Cajun.  You have to actually USE the Cajun seasoning until it tastes like a Cajun dish before you can use the word Cajun to describe it.

Now you may wonder what a Mayor’s Tax has to do with this food rant.  If you are from anywhere near Omaha, NE you probably know where I’m going.  The new 2.5 % tax that gets added to your restaurant bill AFTER the state taxes.  So you also get taxed on the tax.  Different places have labled it differently on their sale’s slip.  I had to laugh when I saw that Wheatfield’s is labeling it the “Mayor’s Tax”.

People want to recall Mayor Suttle.  I understand the few people who are saying the economic and budgetary situation he inherited was not his fault. They are right.  But the people who want to recall him are not doing so because they think he created the situation.  They want to recall him because of his reaction to the situation.  The city council actually soften his ideas when they passed the budget.  The people of Omaha hated his ideas and plans once he got into office.  As much as people are screaming now, it would have been 2 – 3 times worse if the budget has passed as Mayor Suttle envisioned it rather than the way the council modified it and softened it.

The worse is, of course, the wheel tax.  People who live outside Omaha but work in Omaha now have to pay a wheel tax.  It will be collected via payroll deduction.  The issues is that these people are being taxed who have no way to vote on it.  No representation in Omaha.  There is a very large portion of couples who live outside the city and drive one vehicle to work.  But both will be charged the wheel tax on the one vehicle.  A person who happens to have two jobs in Omaha is going to get charged the wheel tax twice.  Once for each job even thought it is one vehicle.

People who live in Omaha already pay a wheel tax when they register their vehicle,  but only once per vehicle. Our wheel tax is going up as well and for less than the mayor wanted.  The city council lowered that amount as well.

The Mayor is very tax happy.  I understand they needed to raise taxes but he was going way out over the deep end about it.  The fact that Wheatfields now shows a ‘Mayor’s Tax’ on their sales slips seems funny and appropriate.