As I approach my hundreth post, I thought it would be a good idea to journey back to my blogroots - the restaurant reviews. How about a general recap? With all the lousy dining options in the valley, it's vital to get the truth out there. I'm just going to offer some listings and brief explanations.
Best lunch option - I'd have to say Metropolitan Grill. Yeah, I know the service ranges from marginally questionable to downright bizarre. You have to go in with a certain mindset. It might take 10 minutes to get seated. It could take 20 minutes to make verbal contact with your waiter/waitress. You might get the wrong bill. You might get the complimentary bread, you might not. Even worse, you get the bread, but they didn't shake up that dipping sauce so it ends up tasting like straight light sweet crude oil. Your waiter might have those wierdo African disc earings stretching the fuck out of his earlobes. If you can handle the oddities of the waitstaff, you're in great shape because the food is of impeccable quality. The salads are, hands down, the absolute best in a 45 mile radius. Any of the salads are a great choice. You'll never be disappointed. And to be honest, it's really not the fault of the waitstaff because the guy who owns the place hires and fires people like it's a bodily function. The average employee only works there for like 4 days or so.
Honorable mention goes to Figaretti's. It's not really about the food. The place is just so damn comfortable.
Best dinner option - I'll probably take some heat on this one. I'd have to say Outback. I know, I know. Saf, it's a fuckin' chain restaurant and they use words like "Kookooburra" and say things like "ahoy, matey." Nonetheless, the menu is strong and affordable and the service is decent and friendly. A few pieces of advice - the Bloomin Onion is one of the least healthy things you can eat on the planet earth. Their wings are surprisingly poor. The seared Ahi Tuna appetizer is very good. If you get the caesar side salad, ask for a few wedges of lemon. Great dressing, but use it sparangly. It's loaded with mayonnaise. And finally, don't go there on a Friday or Saturday. It's far too busy. Choose an off night.
Honorable mention goes to DeeJay's in Weirton. Great food. Great price. Great service. Nice place.
Best breakfast - Sonny Boys in outer Bridgeport is dirt cheap, but the place is kind of disgusting. The food is decent but I question the resaurants' cleanliness and the personal hygiene of the workers. I'm even more concerned about the hygiene of its patrons. Plus, the place wreaks of cigarette smoke. As far as price goes, it can't be beat. However, I'd rather pay a little more and go some place nice. Thus, the Ihlenfield Dining Room at Oglebay Park gets the nod. The have a fantastic Sunday brunch for around 12 bucks. I've only gone a few times but it's truly impressive. Plentiful options, pleasant atmosphere and the food is great. One piece of advice - don't stand in the omelette station or handmade waffle line if there are more than 3 people. You'll look like an idiot trying to make small talk with the hotel guests (you'll be forced to discuss the all the finer points of Oglebay Park - that's a conversation of consternation) and it will take forever for them to custom design your breakfast. Heed this warning - avoid the Ihlenfield dining room for any other meal. Only the Sunday brunch is decent.
Honorable mention goes to Bob Evans.
Worst buffet - Oh, for the love of God, that Super Buffet on National Road by TJ's. Chinese/American/Italian cuisine at its absolute worst. Yeah, they have 200 options, but they're all equally bad. The food sits there for who knows how long and the parking lot is relatively vacant. I think I'd rather eat at the CVS next door.
Worst overall restaurant - It's got to be TJ's Sportgarden. WHY? Why do people voluntarily choose to dine at this place? I have no idea whatsoever. The food is so bad it defies description. The funny thing is that the menu is standard sports bar fare, so you've got to figure it can't be that bad. They just offer the basics and deep fry the hell out of everything else. It's something more sinister though. I think TJ's thrives because of the stupidity of the general populous of Ohio & Belmont Counties. It's success is largely based on the indisputable fact that the morons who reside in the area "simply don't know any better." What else could explain how this place has been successful through the years? As I see it, TJ's success is based on 3 things - the dumbness and low iq of area residents, their unbelievably low dining expectations and its location (they do have a nice spot right off I-70.
Best burger - I don't eat a lot of hamburgers but Billy's Brickyard in deep Triadelphia is the best.
Best wings - Drover's. Nothing else compares. If you don't want any drummies, make sure to loudly request all "Double Boners." That's what they unashamedly refer to them as. Great atmosphere. Just don't go there with a crowd of more than 4 on a busy night - a guaranteed recipe for disaster.
Worst fast food restaurant - A triple tie between 3 Bruger Kings. The one in Warwood is beyond disgusting. The one on the Island is atrocious. And the one in Bel-dirty is, well, just plain dirty.
Best steak night - I'd have to say the Undos, T&C, Sparachane, Herk entity cannot be beat. Here's the advice - call in an order for takeout. Steak, baked potato and salad easily feed two. Always go early. A waitress once told me, "If you're getting there late, you'll get the slop that's leftover at the end of the night."
Best cafeteria - Gotta go Mehlman's. Dirt cheap. Food is decent and more importantly, it's safe and predictable. Avoid the salad, roll and dessert area at the beginning of the line. Stick with the stuffed chicken breast, green beans and mashed potatoes. Go with the obvious for maximum fulfillment. Their secret motto is "You will grow old with us."
Worst cafeteria - gotta stick with Hoss's in the Elm Grove Crossing Mall. Fuck that place.
Worst Mexican - that Nogales place in downtown Wheeling is gross. I'd rather consume regurgitated dogshit.
For my 100th blog, I'm going to start focusing on more tangible/regional concerns Stay tuned...