Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Phil Lesh & Friends

Several people were on hand last night for the Phil & Friends show at the AJ Palumbo Center (Duquesne's basketball court). The show itself was much better than I anticipated. Not the greatest musicianship but Chris Robinson's vocals on all the songs were a refreshing change of pace considering the only other option was Phil Lesh's atrocious musings. Decent set list - some of the highlights were my all-time favorite Dead opener, Let the Good Times Roll. Strong Not Fade Away ended the first set. My expectations were pretty damn low so I'd say the show definitely over-acheived. I sampled the cuisine as well. I ate a slightly burnt personal pizza, a relatively edible hot dog and then finished it off with a grilled cheese after the show. I bought it from a hippie - I asked her name and she replied Dandelion (I think). Then I inquired about her middle name and she stammered, "Uhh, I don't know." Then, she slammed the grilled cheese on a nearby cement column and said "Here you go." A little stunned, I looked at her and asked for a napkin. She didn't have one but offered up the cellophane from the cheese slice as a substitue. I was a tiny bit apprehensive but consumed the sandwich in less than 1 minute.
What really made the night a special one was my mode of entry into the Palumbo Center. I absolutely refused to pay 40 bucks for a ticket to see this crapulence. I looked for a 20 dollar ticket outside the entrance but there were far too many hippies and miracle seekers. These days it's nearly impossible for me to compete with the hordes of Mother Shabooboos and miscellaneous dreaded fucks. I am viewed with slightly less venom than campus security.
Anyway, I noticed this guy wheeling a keg out the back door. After he rounded the corner, I wandered over and VOILA - just opened the back door to the gymnasium floor. I walked in with some degree of authority. 3 guys were standing by the door and I heard one of them say "Can I see your ticket please?" At first, I thought I was screwed. Then I turned my head and they were all chuckling. I talked to them for a bit and they applauded my sneak-in. This makes me recollect about all the other sneak-ins. Indeed, there are many. I'll review some of the highlight sneak-ins from my illustrious career.
Perhaps the all-time greatest was the fence crash at the Deer Creek Dead show in 1995. This one made the national news since they were launching canisters of tear gas at the hill side. They had to call in the entire Indy police force to quell this mini-riot. I was sitting outside, minding my own business, when I saw a few fence crashers make the move. Rather than get trampled in the rush, you just had to join in. For some reason, I threw my cooler of Keystone Light over my head and started running with the crowd. Then, I had second thoughts. What had I done? I hastily turned back, ran against the crowd and retreived the precious cooler of beer. This was about as close as I'll ever get to running with the bulls in Pampalona. Up the hill and into the show. Keystone Light never tasted so good. A great trivia question is, during what song did the fence crash occur - the answer is Desolation Row (late in the first set). Kind of odd, since it's a pretty low-energy tune.
I also snuck into a Pink Floyd show at the Horseshoe in Columbus with Wendy Wagner and Lisa Carpenter. This was a good one as we bided our time and then watched this old guy leave his security post by one of the cargo entrances. We all just waltzed into that one. Great show but the crowd was lifeless. I used to think it was just the OSU fans who can't make noise but now I tend to think it's something about the entire city of Columbutt.
Another good sneak in was a SLAYER show a couple years ago at the Belle Vernon Arena which is actually an ice skating rink. Me, Jepsonian and Marklar snuck in the back. I looked at the people in charge of the concession stands and said "God damn, it's cold out there." The best thing to do is have a line ready to go. Something simple along the lines of "Alright, let's do it" or "OOOHHH, we're gonna have a good time tonight". Just anything straight-forward or easy to respond to. It sets a good tone.
One time at a crappy Rusted Root New Years show at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena, I was escorted out for illegally being on the floor. I tried to explain to the security that I was being punished enough for having to spend New Years with Rusted Soot, but he wasn't buying it. Then, I did a loop around the arena and slid in by the smoking area right outside Gate A. I wouldn't recommend this mode of entry. If the lone security guy had seen me, I might have been taken down on the concrete. And for what, to ring in the New Year with Rusted Shit.
Another sneak in, was the Kiss show at the Wheeling Civic Center. This one was pretty funny. Me and Danno are sitting at Nail City and devising a plan for the sneak-in. I'm like, follow me. We just walked up on the concourse. I forget if I had given up smoking by then - I'm pretty sure I had. Anyway, we just joined in with all the smokers and I held the door for everyone. I think I used the line - "Yeahhh, get on in here. Time to continue rocking" or something to that effect.
I'm not even going to bother with the countless hippie shows and taped wrist bands, although my favorite is the Masontown Sunday sneak-ins - works great every year for the Sunday DSO show. Just offer one of the hippies a bag of Munchos for his wristband and they'll think you're a God. Not even a real bag. The lunch sized ones with 12 Munchos will suffice.
I'm not going to discuss the numerous fake limo Starlake side entrance sneak-ins either. Not really worthy of discussion because of the lack of creativity. PEACE

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Heinz Field Stadium food

Lately I've become quite familiar with the cuisine options at Heinz Field. I'm not going to discuss any of the options on levels 200 through 400. Let's just concentrate on the first and fifth and sixth tiers where the commoners hang out. Upon entering the main entrance of Heinz Field, you'll encounter the Steel Pit. This is where I usually hang for the games. I actually like hanging in the end zone for several reasons. First and foremost, you can watch the game on the giant widescreen at the South end of the stadium. For a brief time, this was the largest television on the planet earth. Then, Gillette Stadium got the exact same one and others have also popped up. Pro games usually lend themselves to viewing on tv since so many plays get reviewed. There's a great atmosphere down in the pit. Everyone is standing and milling about so the scenery is constantly changing. There seems to be bit more rowdiness and heightened level of intoxication as well. Plus, when you turn around and face the field, you really get a rush from the roar of the crowd. Another nice touch is that you're right near the exit in case you want to make a hasty getaway. This is entirely irrelevant because my crew is always the last to leave the parking lot. And I do the mean the absolute last. There's also a "hidden" restroom when you walk in. It's just past the escalators on the left side. Nobody uses it because few people see it on the way to their seats. There's almost no lines whatsoever. I highly recommend it for urination as opposed to the top of the steps at Starlake.
Basically, there are 2 good options in the Great Hall of Heinz Field. There's a Benkovitz Seafood place and a scaled down version of Primanti Brothers. I find it disconcerting that people would order a fish sandwich when it's freezing cold. Fish needs to be served hot, or at the very least, warm. Cold fish just doesn't cut it, unless it's peel and eat shrimp. This Primanti's only offers cheesesteaks and turkey sandwiches. This is the best option. They sell for only six bucks a sandwich. That's remarkably cheap considering I could buy a super dog for 4 bucks and it doesn't even fill you up. With the sandwich, you definitely get more of a meal. My only complaint is that they should offer corned beef. I guess the fewer options, the better. The last thing you want is to give people too many options when time is of the essence. The other problem with Primanti's is that they only offer IC Light. If you want a Rolling rock or some other beer, you'll have to get into another line. I'll usually just go for the Iron City even though I'm not a big fan.
As for ordering from the general concession stands, your options are typically mundane. Hot dogs, nachos, chips, cotton candy (truly the cry of the damned) - all these things suck. I'll never understand why people gravitate toward hot dog consumption at sporting events. Did the hot dog suddenly become more palatable or are the people just too drunk and don't realize that hot dogs are consumed by idiots? Where do you think the term "hot diggity" comes from? And most vexing is the hike in the price per dog - at a grocery store, each dog is 12 cents and at the game it skyrockets to $4.00.
So there you have it. If you're hungry at a Steelers game, go with the obvious choice - Primanti Brothers cheesesteak. Or better yet, bring your own food and stuff your face in the parking lot.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Burger King drive-thru

Has anyone ventured into the Burger King drive-thru on Wheeling Island? As if Burger King wasn't already a poor choice. There are multiple entrances yet it's very tricky to navigate. One of the entrances is a back alley underneath an I-70 overpass. If you can manage to avoid the passed out bum and his bottle of grape Mad Dog, that's one option. The other way in is through the 2 separate parking lots. Just be careful to avoid the multiple cement car stop things. If you make it to the mechanical take-your-order gismo, that's half the battle. Then you've got to scream your order over the roar of the 18 wheelers directly above your head on I-70. Alright, you've managed to order that disgusting new breakfast sandwich which consists of 2 eggs, a slab of ham, 12 strips of bacon, 2 sausage patties and multiple slices of the orangest American cheese you've ever seen. By the way, isn't that child abuse? Selling that crap within 1000 ft. of an elementary school. Alright, you make it to the window, and lo and behold, the B.K. worker is that weird transvestite man-king from the commercials. Feasibly, that could be another violation - transsexual man-king mascot within a 1000 ft. of a school. Perhaps some Wheeling Island regicide is in order. Alright, you've got your breakfast sandwich and now you're leaving the lot. Danger awaits. One of the tightest turns in all of West Virginia is approaching. This shit is like a Formula One track and I'm Michael Jewmacher. If you drive anything larger than a Miata, you're fucked. The entire curb is covered with scrapes, but fortunately, they've put up these plastic/rubberized poles to help you make your way through. I'm not exactly sure what the poles are there for. Perhaps sodomization. I do not know.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the demise of box of wine

For many years, I have been a strong proponent of the box of wine. I've always gotten the Cabernet Sauvignon box of Franzia. I like to refer to it as "CAB SAV BOX BLAH". The wine itself is mediocre but more importantly, it's convenient and efficient. The box of wine is a tradition that harkens back to the early Village days. The box of wine movement was originally encouraged by Ken D. That's just some irrelevant trivia.
Today, I have decided to close the door on this chapter. No more boxes of wine, only bottles. I have started my very own wine cellar. In all honestly, it's not really a wine cellar but more of a wine closet. I just line the bottles on this shelf-contraption. I'm focusing on bottles priced in the $7.00 - $12.00 range. I'm a big fan of Glen Ellen. I think they're the best of the mid-range winemakers.
On a slightly unrelated topic, anyone who drinks white zinfandel is a complete fucking idiot. Why would anyone drink this shit? I guess it might be acceptable at a Britney Spears/Russell Nesbitt sorority reunion, but that's about it. I'm seriously contemplating this idea where I make stickers that read, "If you like this product, you're a complete fucking idiot". Then, you discreetly put the stickers on all bottles of white zinf. I'd probably hit CVS and Rite Aid and then finish it off with a Kroger encore.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Washington Ave. Coffee Shop

I have been getting coffee at this place for approximately 2 years. It's part of my routine. I wake up, drive to Wheeling Jesuit and snag 2 newspapers (Wheeling Intelligencer and USA Today), then hit the coffee shop. It's a simple, pleasant loop. By the way, someone should bitch to the Whg. Jesuit student life people or the Father Acker man or whoever is in charge of the free newspapers. They don't offer the NY Times anymore. Would it be asking too much for them to renew their subscription? Perhaps I'll handle it through one of those anonymous complaint/suggestion boxes.
Anyway, the Wheeling Coffee Shop has become ingrained in my soul. I always get a cup of coffee. It costs $1.17 and I give the person $1.25. They get to keep the whopping 8 cents. Every once in awhile, I give them 2 singles so that's a little better - .83 cents. Still, it's nothing to write home about.
I don't know what frappacino or latte surprise is and personally, I think it's kind of embarrassing to order these "diva" drinks. So I just focus on a straightforward cup of Joe. I'm not sure who Joe is or why he became identified with the coffee movement during WW II. Regardless, Joe is very improtant.
They're worst coffees are Seattle Blend, French Roast and Italian Roast. The best of the dark coffees are Guatamalan, Brazilian, Mexican and Costa Rican. I guess the South Americans just make better coffee. That Seattle shit is disgusting and the Italian Roast tastes like they infused it with burnt lasagna and asphalt.
They also offer the flavored coffees like Chocolate Truffle or Sugar Cookie or Macaroon Mint. They have tons of these varities and they all suck. Maybe if I coached a male synchronized swim team, these flavors would be more enticing. But I don't.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Metropolitan Grill RETRACTION

A while back I wrote a very complimentary review about this new restaurant in town, The Met Grill. I've returned on 3 occassions and all 3 times this place absolutely SUCKED for a variety of reasons. It took some time but I have learned my lesson and will not be returning. Alright, here comes the onslaught. If you are sensitive to profanity I suggest closing this window immediately.
The first time I went with Amanda, the service and the food were decent. The second time, I invited my friend B.J. Even though there were a few open tables, they sat us in the back corner. Regrettably, no one decided to wait on us. We probably waited for 20 minutes before someone came over and offered to get us a beverage. Our server (I won't use female or male tags becuase there are only 3 servers) explained that they were a little confused because they were "short-staffed" and didn't know whose section we were in. So rather than saying anything at all, they just ignored us. This wasn't that big of a deal as I hadn't seen B.J. in some time and it was good to catch up. Anyway, the server finally came and took our orders and eventually we got our food which was ok. I had the portablla chicken hoagie and she had a turkey melt. Her sandwich was fair and mine was good. Despite the lunch running over it wasn't entirely bad.
The second time I went, I met G Max the day after the Stones show at PNC. Much to my surprise, a woman we all know and love (J.A.D.) sat next to us along with a couple of her co-workers. G Max arrived and ordered a steak salad and I had the prime rib sandwich and a side salad. G Max's food came and then mine arrived about 8 minutes later. Unfortunately, when it did arrive, there was no salad. Instead I received fries. This apparently would become a common theme - the dictatorial power of the servers over their customers. I thought about complaining but opted not to. Most likely because I might have to wait 15 more minutes to get the side salad. I also was afraid the server would get flustered and decide that he/she had to sit down at the table and eat the fries one by one. By the way, their fries aren't that great - odd that they would impose their will with regard to mandatory fries. Maybe they should call them freedom fries and go for the ironic twist. Anyway, G Max's salad was fair and my prime rib sandwich was slightly above average. I did order a coke to drink and it was exceptional. By the way, I neglected to mention that none of the servers have ever come by and ask how everything is. They just assume that things are ok. Or even worse yet, they're afraid that something might be poor and they'll have to deal with it. All in all, it wasn't a horrbible meal. Just more poor service and fair food.
Alright! Yesterday, Heather and I ate there. This was the final straw. I got there at 11:57 and was immediately greeted by our server. He asked if he could get me anything and I said a water with lemon. Within 2 minutes, I'm drinking my water. Heather arrives at 12:03. We would sit and wait for the next 30 minutes with absolutely no contact from anyone. I'm not kidding - 30 fucking minutes. We just sat there in disbelief. Heather wanted to call over the stoic hostess but I urged her not to. I was convinced that things would resolve themselves. I was entirely mistaken. All of a sudden, there's some mini-commotion outside the restaurant. I man comes in and asks for a chair and rushes back outside. Then I watch our server head to the front door. This was the first time we saw him since I got my water - about 32 minutes ago. He comes back in and is helping move this old black lady whose knees are bandaged up. This woman could hardly move - I suspect she had blood clots. Anyway, they sit her down in front of the whole restaurant and get her a glass of water. She was in really bad shape. I thought to myself, maybe if I had a seizure, I could get the attention of somebody and we could at least order the meal and/or Heather could get something to drink. Then the ambulance comes and they wheel her out right in front of us. After another 5 minutes, I signal to the hostess that we're ready to order. The hostess isn't even remotely apologetic or concerned. Strange, because she's been standing next to our inactive table for over half an hour. Anyway, Heather requests a water (from the hostess) and she says that our server will be right with us. 2 minutes later, he appears. Staying consistent, he doesn't even remotely apologize for the wait. He just looks at us with this oafish daze and asks, "So, are you ready to order?" We're exasperated but manage to place the order. Heather got a pizza and I got a chicken portabella hoagie with a side salad. He asks, "What kind of dressing would you like?" and I respond with the balsamic viniagrette. Now, another lengthy wait is ahead of us. I'd say it was another 27 minutes before we got our food. But here's the deal, we really didn't get our food. Heather is agitated becuase she sees her pizza just sitting on the ledge. He comes back over and says it will be a few more minutes. I actually contemplate just getting up and leaving. This is unheard of because I'm never one to complain about poor service, but this was getting ridiculous. In fact, it was so bad it became borderline amusing. Anyway, he brings over the food and, lo and behold, I get the sandwich, but once again, it has fries. I'm blown away that this same incident repeated itself. I politely mention that I ordered a side salad not fries, and he says, "Oh yeah, it comes with fries. Your side salad will be right out." Then, he disappears. I want to look at him and say, "You must think I'm a complete idiot." I figure, oh well, maybe I'll just get the salad to go at the end of the meal and eat it later. Heather mentions that she got her side salad at the end of the meal on a different occassion. I wonder, what the fuck is wrong with this place. I'm pretty hungry, so I'm just like fuck it and start to eat. Heather's pizza is room temperature because it sat on the ledge so long. I seriously doubt I'll even get the salad. Anyway, we scarf down the food (it's about 1:17pm). Our waiter isn't really interested in us. He never shows up to see how things are (the only thing that seems to be consistent with this place - a refusal of the wait staff to function as real waiters). We have to ask the hostess (who incidentally smiles about as much as Mr. Burns on The Simpsons) for a box. She did however refill our water glasses without us asking - a task well outside her specifically assigned duties.
Our waiter finally returns with the check and dorkilly asks, "So, how was everything?" He won't even acknowledge the salad fiasco. I imagine he thought that if he played dumb, I wouldn't remember the nonexistent salad. I look at him and I say, "Honestly" - he replies, "Oh yeah, you can tell me." Before I could get a word out, Heather says, "My pizza was cold." He says, "Oh, I'm sorry, I'll take care of it" and bolts off into the distance. Heather feels awkward about complaining and decides to exit before he returns. He comes back with a check for $5.30. That was the cost of my incorrect meal. He did eliminate the cost of the pizza altogether which was pretty cool, I guess. To be honest, I was surprised he took any action. Anyway, I crumpled two five dollar bills and stuffed them in the bill jacket. I figured that even though the service was atrocious and the order was wrong and the pizza was cold, at least it was entertaining. But then again, a suicide bomber in Gaza could also be deemed entertaining - it just depends on your perspective.
I still think the food is pretty good but the service at this place is so bad, it cannot be overlooked. They just seem to have this deliberate disregard for the customers.
This is important to note - J.B. works at this place behind the bar. He has NEVER waited on us. I don't want anyone reading this to think that he's the waiter I'm referring to. To be blunt, he might be the only one in the entire place who does give a damn.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Stones/Pearl Jam - PNC Park

I drove 4 of the "regulars" to the Rolling Stones/Pearl Jam show last night. Obviously, this was a BIG one. I take that back. It was THE BIG ONE. I snagged them early but they opted for drinks in Robinson township before the show. I was a little worried but we got basicaly got there at crunch time. Everybody had already parked so the ride in was surprisingly effortless. I dropped them off and then parked the limo about 3/4 mile in the distance. I booked down to the stadium and briefly hooked up with Josh, Jess, Fuzz and G Max. The band had just started with the song "GO". There were plenty of extra tix, as expected. I asked a few people - one woman was adamant that she wanted $400. I replied, "C'mon let's go $20." She was not amused. I ran into my scalping buddy Brian and he set me up with a single from one of his other scalper buddies. Boom! 20 bucks! I think he did it more as a favor. I always set him up with food/water/beer at Starlake. This has to have been a first - with droves of extra tix in the parking lot, I bought mine from a black guy. Ironic.
Anyway, G Max and I went to the lower level directly opposite the stage. Good view, good seats. Since this is primarily a restaurant review column, I'll refer to the quality of seats we had in terms of chain restaurants. These lower level seats were probably $125 or so. I'd call them Outback Steakhouse seats. Anyway, Pearl Jam rocked as they always do. They played a sugarcoated set that lasted exactly 1 hour 7 minutes. They tended to play mostly their video hits, most of which I don't really care for (Black, Jeremy, Animal, Better Man). My favorite tunes were Alive and Corduroy. But I think they wanted to keep things a little familiar since most people were there for the Stones. Pearl Jam had a pretty big turnout of fans as well - pockets of them all over the ballpark. I'd say it was about 72% Stones/28% Pearl Jam. Needless to say, they closed with Rockin in the Free World which got everybody up. I think most of the older Stones fans began to realize just how much these guys rock.
Anyway, me and G Max went to see where the others seats were - Section 301. I made it up there and was in disbelief - I told them that these were the worst seats in the entire place. You couldn't see any portion of the big screen. Then, I softened my stance because there was about 12 rows behind them. So they were in the 12th worst row of the entire stadium. Not the place you want to be for the BIG one. Josh seemed to come around. The others opted to stay behind - comparable to riding out Hurricane Rita. Oh, I forgot - These seats were Elby's (I'm talking a vacant one 4 years after they went out of business). Anyway, I pointed to some good chunks of seats down below. Josh said he was going to make the move. Oddly enough, after having ridiculed the seats, I was like, cool let's roll - then, I started walking further up to the even shittier seats. Josh amusingly beckoned me and I quickly turned around. I think I was still in a daze from the opening act.
Anyway, we make it down to the first level about 20 rows up. Back to the good seats - let's call them Olive Garden. We sat around for awhile and strategized about how to get on the floor. They were checking tix very carefully. We were hoping for a surge but none was in sight. G Max went to about the 7th row off the floor. This would become the staging area - let's say Cheesecake Factory. We had a variety of ideas about how to get down. I suggested the double beer approach - just have your hands full and nod and say "It's cool, we're over there." That idea was dismissed - probably because that second large draft would have gotten pretty warm. Then, I offered the "Let's just discreetly hand him a five dollar bill approach." This one never even got off the ground. I think we were both hoping for a surge when the lights went out. Crunch time was approaching. Then, I noticed that a few people weren't showing their tix, just their hand stamp. I carefully examined the hand stamp of a floor goer. It was a simple light green circle. I started asking if anyone had a marker or a pen. The girl next to me offered an ink pen and a black sharpie. Which one should we go with? This was a tough one. G Max opted for the pen and I agreed. I adorned his hand with a circle and he went for the smear approach. Good move, G Max. Then, the lights went out. I quickly did mine and handed the pen back to the girl. I think she thought we were nuts. The girl behind us thought it was crazy we were from West Virginia. She laughed uncontrollably about the usual themes - incest, trailors, blah. Then I told her that 2 days ago, there was a man arrested in nearby Lafferty, Ohio for having sex with a neighbor's dog. This was on the FRONT PAGE. That really sent her into hysterics.
Anyway, I looked at G max and I was like it's now or never. Let's Roll. He said, ok, lead the way. I was like, fuck it Wolfman Bezerker style. We both zipped down the steps and showed the guy our temporary tattoos. BOOM! On the floor. Not even the slightest problem. We briefly celebrated and made our way to the back of the floor. We found a partially open section that was near perfect. These were probably the $250 seats. I'd say they were The Biltmore. For those of you who don't know, that's a wicked, upscale restaurant/resort in Scottsdale, AZ. We watched about 6 tunes and then went to take a piss. In the shuffle, I lost G max. Regrettably, I planned to leave aorund the 12th tune or so and make my trek back to the limo. I decided to look for Josh, just in case he was back at the Cheesecake Factory. Sure enough, there he was. I told him how we got on the floor and he was amused and eager. I found the same girl with the pen and we marked him up. I'm like, just follow me to the promised land, much like Moses leading the Israelites. Once again, smooth sailing. We went back to the Biltmore but G Max was nowhere in sight. I'd later learn that he made his way to the front area through a slight hole in the fence. Stuck around for 2 more songs and then had to bolt. I grudgingly left and snagged the limo. There must have been about 140 limos all jockeying for position. I'd never seen that many in my life. And there were still more parked up from the stadium. I picked up the crew at the home plate club with perfect timing and we made it through the mess of jubilant fans in 10 minutes. Outta there - West End, 279 South, 79 South, 70 West. Home in an hour. Then, the limo malfunctioned in Woodsdale, but that's a whole different story and this blogger is exhausted. PEACE

Other rankings (scale of 1-100):

Scalping - didn't have the time.
Parking - controlled chaos. These idiot parking attendants are still on strike. Kind of like the George Costanza line - "THESE PRETZELS ARE MAKING ME THIRSTY!"
Stones - sounded great for a bunch of 60 years olds. Let's give them an 88.
Pearl Jam - I'm biased. The best opener of the tour. My favorite touring rock band. Even though they played a pretty boring short set. Sounded great though - 93.
Tailgating - didn't have the time and it's irrelevant because I'm the designated driver.
The Stage show - The clear winner. 99 - I've never seen anything like it and I've seen a few stadium shows in my time.

To sum it up:
This show made me realize that you can always get what you want.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Metropolitan Grill

Sometimes I take a little heat for the hostility expressed in this restaurant review blog. Random strangers approach me and say, "Saf, your reviews are caustic and biting." I swear, those are their exact words. Well, there is a new restaurant in town and it is the best establishment that Wheeling has ever seen. My only real complaint is that the entity known as Wheeling doesn't deserve a restaurant of this caliber. The only thing Wheeling deserves is extra ranch with their fuckin' wing dings. The words "fine dining" and "Wheeling" have never been compatible, UNTIL NOW.
Apparently, the head chef from the Wheeling Downs decided to open his own place. He remodeled the old Lanos Kraus Deli on Chapline and did a fantastic job. The set-up is spectacular. Once again, the only problem is that this place is too good for the Wheeling moronathons. They'll probably start picketing the place. Their demands - more bologna and olive loaf sandwich offerings. Extra ketchup, damnit!
Anyway, Amanda and I ate there yesterday. The place was packed but we got there early, so it wasn't an issue. Off in the corner was the President of the Lunchables and his crew. The President shirked his responsibilities so everyone had to sit all cramped together at the bar. Anyway, that's pretty much irrelevant.
The service and ambience were professional and exceptional. The food was fantastic. Finally, a house salad without a clump of iceberg that resembles the thing that brought down Titanic. Great house dressing too - just a simple balsamic viniagrette. Amanda had the shrimp pasta and I had this artichoke/salmon pasta concoction. Both were really strong. We also had an appetizer of stuffed banana peppers which were very potent. I could go on indefinitely about just how good this place is but I'd rather focus on the more pressing issue - Wheeling doesn't deserve this place. 82% of the people who live in this area are complete idiots. They embrace Perkins just like Sally Struthers used to care for those starving Ethiopian kids. They crave Bob Evans much in the same way that a Catholic priest craves young boys. Simply put, we as a people, aren't deserving of this place. We aren't good enough. Now that's a tough and unpopular stance, but I'm sticking with it. The Met Grill rocks and we suck. If this place goes out of business, I will weep uncontrollably and then I shall atone for the sins of Wheeling.

Friday, September 16, 2005

"I'd Rather Go Back To Work"

These were the cries of Jenn D. as she departed the Sternwheeler Festival. G Max, the current tyrannical despot of The Lunchables, insisted we go to The Sternwheeler Fest for lunch today. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this Wheeling Festival, I'll try to hazard an explanation. Once a year about 20 boats dock in downtown Wheeling. In a feeble attempt to emulate Crockett from Miami Vice, these morons ride their boats down the Ohio River and set up shop in Wheeling. It is site of the former Wharf Parking Garage where they congregate and tell exciting tales of their journey. How they navigated the turbulent waters, the giant carp they caught last night, and the closest place to buy a case of cheap beer - these all become stories of yore. If you want, you can board their vessels. This can become a little dangerous. I mean really, you're knocking on their front door like a Jehovah's Witness, basically begging to come aboard and inspect their homes. You'd think these boat people would welcome you with open arms. Wrong. It's kind of like auditioning for American Idol and being ridiculed by that Simon dude, except the boat people are drunk and somewhat hostile. Their collective sneers are the one thing that seems to unite them.
But hey, this is really about the food. An allegiant throng of 4 people showed up for the first ever meeting of The Lunchables. G Max, Jenn D., Heather and myself showed up at a pre-determined meeting place. Everyone was punctual - at least one of my earlier sticking points was adhered to. We strolled through about 20 vendors. I bought a gyro from one of those carnie stands and Jenn D. & G Max got sausage sandwiches from Tambellinis. Heather got some kind of shells & cheese concoction. We settled down at a table where a lone retarded women was sitting on the end. This red-headed woman, you might refer to her as the red-headed retard, quickly departed. Incidentally, she was wearing an unflattering red t-shirt as well. She looked upon me with the same disdain I would later get from the gawking boat people - a look of just absolute, unbridled, unwavering disgust. Anyway, as G Max started to peel back the labia-like casing from his sausage sandwich, I looked at the women folk who seemed a bit distracted from the heat. Both Jenn and Heather seemed to enjoy their respective meals. G Max stammered, "Mmmmm" and then complained about the lack of water. My gyro was, well let's just call it the patron sandwich of mediocrity.

All in all, not a glowing review for the first ever meeting of The Lunchables. I say it's time to elect a new leader. One with a little more inspiration and vision, one who will lead us boldly, where no one has dined before. G Max was only concerned about one thing - dumping some Time Warner securities. Is this who we want to control our collective destiny? I say FUCK NO. The uprising will start early next week. By Wednesday, I should be back in control of the minions. Seriously, if were up to G Max, he'd have us eating Matzah (unleavened bread) as we flee Benwood. Well I may be a some kind atheist self-hating Jew, but he ain't no Pharoah and I will not bow down to him or any other self-annointed God.

The only highlight that comes to mind was the "free hand sanitizers" in the Port-a-Cleans. If it were up to G Max and his bean-counterism, he'd have imposed some kind of hand-washing tariff on the Port-o-Crappers.
I neglected to mention that Heather and G Max both purchased over-sized Italian Ices. If I recall, Heather got blackberry and G Max got Pina Colada.

So, let's break it down (scale of 1-100):

Sternwheeler Fest - SUCKED
Heather's heel - broke
Heather panites - nonexistent
G Max's leadership as President of The Lunchables - I think that has been adequately covered
Gyro - 62
Tambellinis - 88
Free water from Wheeling Hospital - Refreshing
Red-headed Retard - moronic but not entirely offensive, 38
Boat People - 12
Heather's shrill rendition of some Pat Benatar song - 72
The dumpster in front of her song and dance routine - STUNK

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Backstreet Boys

A couple weeks ago, I took 5 teenagers (3 girls and 2 boys) as well as 2 moms to the Backstreet Boys concert at Starlake. We got a late 6pm start and bolted up. The ride up was noneventful. We entered the vacant parking lot right before 7pm. I asked one of the lot guys what the attendance was for this pavilion only show - he replied about 3,500. How depressing - their management should have booked them at Chevy Ampitheatre. Tix were pretty expensive and the 2 moms dished me out 2 freebies - which I sold below face for a grand total of $50.00. I was lucky to even find people to buy them. I decided not to go into the show. Instead, I hung out with the other limo drivers. The band really didn't sound that bad. They aren't really boys - I think they're all in their 30's. It slowly dawned on me that this show was a great place for a pedophile. Three thousand teens screaming in misguided ecstacy. Anyway, I set out to find the lone pedophile. Indeed, I found him near the end of the show walking up the steps. He was a balding dude in his late 40's. He had that weird, glazed look and that humpty dumpty persona which lends itself to the molestation process. I asked him what he thought of the show and he said it was fantastic. He'd never had such a good time but wanted to leave early so he could beat the rush. I said, "What rush? This is the weakest parking lot Starlake's seen all year" and he said, "Starlake??? This place is called the Post Gazette."
Anyway, the kids came back to the limo and were much more exuberant. Lots of yelling and screaming, cranking of the radio, and endless bickering about who farted. They informed me that they wanted to go to McDonalds. I had this ominous premonition about taking the limo through the drive thru at the Three Springs exit but I obliged them. My deepest fears turned into reality when the one kid started to place the order. All of this was totally haphazard. Absolute confusion. Everyone started chiming in with what they wanted. McFlurry! Cheeseburger with no onions! Large Fry! One blurted out McDogcrap. The poor McDonald girl looked at me with disgust as though I was to blame. I felt totally helpless. Then, the same kid looked at the girl and said (and I quote), "Keep the change, dollface." The entire limo errupted. Both moms in hysterics while simutaneously singing a Backstreet Boys song but substituting in the new lyrics about the dollface and her predisposition towards retaining the surplus cash. I bolted out of the drive thru and got back on 22. As expected, they were missing one of the sandwiches. However, they seemed to weather that storm. The entire ride home, the volume knob on the stereo fluctuated more than John Kerry's campaign tactics in 2004.
We finally made it to Woodsdale and they insisted on tipping me an extra 20 bucks event though I assured them that the 2 freebie tix were sufficient.
Reflecting on the negativity in this concert review, you'd think I had a bad time. But I kind of enjoyed that night. Sometimes I like to experience the annoying side of life. A little like that old Saved By The Bell episode where a young Screech gets his heart broken and a nurturing Miss Bliss plays the role of counseler. For that one special night, I became their Miss Bliss.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Went to Coldplay last night. As expected, it was a great show. I'm probably going to the Columbus one as well at the end of the month.
I've entered into a new phase of grilling. I like to call it "All Shrimp". The only problem is the grill. My Fire'n'Ice grill doesn't seem to get hot enough. Perhaps it is the quality of the propane although that seems unlikely. I'm going to buy the high-end Coleman canisters from now on rather than the generic stuff. I think that could make all the difference. Shrimp should not take 20 minutes. More like 3 minutes per side. Regardless, they were pretty good. That's definitely the way to go - shrimp kabob madness. Heather dropped one on the ground but remedied the situation by picking it up and dumping beer all over it. Then, she ate it. I was in disbelief - I can't belive she consumed the soiled kabob.

Should have scalped last night. Could have made a killing. There were tons of extras and a really nice mild flow to the box office. Should have spent more time in the pavillion seat as well.

Coldplay gets a 93. Great performance.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Robert Randolph

I'd never seen Robert Randolph and the Family Band until last Sunday. They played a free show at Hartwood Acres. This is a fantastic venue. Great tailgating scene and very good acoustics. I went up with Jenn and Heather and met up with Amanda and Eric who had a good spot right in front of the soundboard.
These guys are from Orange, NJ and a little on the preachy side, but for the most part are just a straight up rock/funk band. Incredibly talented and improvisational. They had the whole place rocking.
Regrettably, there's always a down side. On the way home, Heather wanted to stop at Taco Bell. Instead I offered her some Wild Bill's Beef Jerky. I warned her that it might be challenge to correctly open the bag. She made some derogatory comments about how anal I am and then had the unmitigated temerity to complain after the bag ripped open and would not re-seal. Fortunately, almost the entire bag was consumed on the ride home. Joy.
On an unrelated side-note, the first time I went to Hartwood Acres was with my family when I was about 8 years old. We saw Arlo Hayes and Woody Guthrie. When they played Alice's Restaurant, my mother screeched, "Harold, who's burning tires? It smells like someone's burning tires." My dad responded, "Ssshhh, Dorren, they're smoking pot. Sssshhhhh." Anyway, that was my first experience with marijuana. I've always liked that story.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Went to Chevy Ampitheatre again last night. G Max drove. Me, Jenn, Loren and Jess crammed into the refurbished Liberty. The ride up was relatively pleasant. Lots of antagonistic comments - most of them centered around gender issues regarding G Max's chick car. G Max should ignore the infidels. My father is considering purchasing a Rav 4. He likes my mother's Rav 4. I guess you could conclude that my mom and G Max share similar vehicular tastes.
Anyway, Widepsread Panic is one of the most underrated bands of all time. Many of their songs are pretty simple but they manage to make everything jam without going overboard. Come to think of it, they're not only underrated, but totally unassuming as well. Maybe that's what makes them cooler than the endless number of jam bands out there.
Anyway, I missed the first set and the ultimate insult was purchasing my ticket at the box office. No scalping tonight. The competition for cheap tickets was rough. It's hard to compete with the younger generation of dreads. I also received a great deal of negativity directed towards my Seattle Seahawks t-shirt. I'd undertand if I was sporting a Browns, Bengals or Dallas Cowboys shirt, but really, the Seahawks are cool. They've never hurt anyone's feelings. At the end of the night, a random hippie huffing on a balloon came tomy defense and praised the Seahawks.

Brief ratings:

Overall performance - 87
Accessibility of nitrous - 98
Vending scene - 93

Food - 94 (I ate 2 pizza fajita things. They were pretty strong.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

changing it up

I have decided to cease and desist all upcoming restaurant reviews. Instead, I'm venturing into semi-unexplored new territory. CONCERT REVIEWS. Two major reasons for the shift in bloggism come to mind. First, after having made 35 restaurant reviews, I just thought it was time for a change. Secondly, let's face it, for the most part, G Max was the only one who ever responded to the venomous tirades.
I think I might be a little better suited to do concert analysis anyway. Some reasons:
1) My new found limo experiences offer a unique (and sober) perspective.
2) Many years in the scalping biz representing the experiences of the minority whitey. My dream is to scalp an appearance by that new German pope. Ahhh, the irony. If he comes to Heinz Field, I'm there.
3) Ability to predict the attendance of any show weeks in advance.
4) Years of dumpster parking offer strong insight into the mind of the average concert-goer.
5) An endless desire to people watch - I don't think that will ever get stale.
6) Fuck it. I've just seen a ton of shows. I'll even go see that Yanni shit or some country music show called the "Do you want fries with that Tour"?

Alright, I think I've made my point. Anyway onto the first review.

Last night I took an Island couple to the Duran Duran show in the black top. Picked them up at 4:30pm. Although corpulent and lethargic, they were "rarin' to go". Armed with giant bottles of water they tried to navigate the tiny entrance to the limo. They were eventually successful. I asked if they needed to make any stops on the way and they replied, "Nope, we're good to go" - I was like "Cool, let's do it." Off to Chevrolet Ampitheatre in Station Square. Near Dallas Pike they put the divider down and informed me that they had made a horrifying discovery. The guy yelled out, "Hey Eric, there's a half a joint back here." I was kind of surprised and told him they usually clean the limos pretty thoroughly. Anyway, he informed me that it was ok and they were alright. He then said, "I'm going to get rid of it because if we get pulled over, I don't wanna get busted." Before I could mumble a response, he rolled down his window and flicked it onto I-70 (near the Cabelas exit). I really didn't know what to make of it.
They were actually a very pleasant couple. The radio in the back was pretty quiet until they got a double shot of Ozzy on 107.5. Then they cranked it - Iron Man and then that crappy Mama I'm Coming Home song. We got to Station Square and they went to look for something to eat. They returned unfed but proudly sporting a new Beanie Baby of some kind. Then the action began to unfold. Jess and Heather along with another couple parked in a limo right next to us. For liablity reasons, I don't want to hastily mention everyone's name. They were having a good time. Drinking the best high end of all the low end beers - Miller Lite. I went off to do some scalping. Started slow with an aggressive spiky haired woman who didn't like the idea that I was selling her comp tickets. She got me down from $50 to $30 for a pair. Even threatened to get the cops involved. I told her that I appreciated her aggressive negotiation tactics but she was not amused. After I disposed of her, things really started to click. Few sales here, blah, a few more, rockin'.
Decided enough was enough and headed into the show. Duran Duran played a somewhat awkward setlist. 6 or 7 of the tunes I'd never even heard of, including the opener. I could have created a far better set list. Fortunately, the gay men everywhere could have cared less. They were all on fire last night. It was their time to shine and they would not be denied. Some estimated the gay male population at the show was a whopping 33%. Openly gay (those who know they are gay) was probably around 28%. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Double D sounded great and the crowd was definitely into it. The ride home was relatively uneventful. Dropped off those two and went to the 19th Ho. Hooked up with Scotty and Preston and then hit Knotty Pines for last call. Some dude "Shite himself" at the Pines thus rounding out the highs and lows of an interesting evening. Anyway, here's the numbers on a scale of 1-100.

Performance of Duran Duran - 90
Quality of setlist - 52
Crowd entusiasm - 89
Parking lot scene/tailgating - 80
Quality of limo occupants - 75
Mother Shabooboo-like behavior - 88

other numbers:
Scalping - about $160
Tip - $20
Food - didn't eat anything, although I briefly considered buying a hot dog.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Italian Festival

I ate twice at the Italian Festival this weekend. On Friday, I had a Giovanni Sandwich. This consisted of a luke-warm circular sausage, topped with American cheese on some quasi-toasted bread. It was poor. I'm actually surprised that I ordered it. All those years of being compelled to eat the Sons of Italy sausage had taken its toll. I had to go in a different direction.
On Sunday I had a sausage sandwich from the stand at Tambellinis (a quality Pittsburgh restaurant with 3 locations). It was pretty good. I also had some fresh squeezed lemonade which was pretty bad. It met 1 of the 3 requirements that you seek when drinking lemonade. It was indeed a liquid. However, it wasn't refreshing and it wasn't cold.
Sunday afternoon is really notorious for bringing the dregs of humanity out in the open. They swarm the Italian Fest like vultures looking for last minute deals on crappy novelty items. They drink their warm Bud-Light and cast toothless smiles upon all. I saw this one grotesque character picking gum from his shoe as he watched this girl fire up a cigarette. He was eyeing up that Marlboro as though it were a T-Bone steak.
Then, I watched a little of the bocce ball tournament. Why would people find this game entertaining? Yes, I realize it was a hot ticket back in the roaring twenties, but c'mon, let's step into the 90's.
All in all, the Italian Festival is pretty sketchy; however, the odds of me returning in 2006 are above 90%.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Mike's Beef House

Formerly known as Pappas Beef House, Mike's Beef House is located in Center market down from Coleman's Fish Market. I'm not sure if the name change was absolutely necessary. I suppose it may serve some unknown higher purpose. The term "Beef House" sounds a bit strange - kind of reminscent of the song "She's a Brick House". It just sounds a little weird - "Hey, let's go eat at the Beef House". I think this sounds much better if you omit the word "the". "Hey, let's go eat at Beef House."

I've always been concerned that the citizenry of Wheeling has no concept of what real corned beef looks like or tastes like. Through the years, people have said that our town needs a real deli. I've always countered that it wouldn't matter because Wheelingites have no idea what a real deli is. Their only conception is Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh. Primantis is decent, but it still doesn't resemble a real kosher delicatessan. Plus, who the hell would actually eat at a deli in Wheeling? Our townfolk are absolutely terrified of food they've never experienced, unless it's smothered in gravy or submerged in ketchup, sometimes ranch.

Anyway, the sandwiches were pretty good. No major complaints. I'ts difficult to go down there and not buy the obvious fish sandwich at neighboring Coleman's. Just one of those instinctive moves that's hard to overcome. Along the same line of reasoning, I usually get gasoline at Kroger, liquour at CVS, blah, etc.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Beef Jerky

A week ago I was having a discussion with my friend Ben. It centered on a topic vital to the interests of mankind - Which is the best beef jerky? These days there certainly are a myriad of choices. Just walk in any convenience store or gas station and you are immediately assualted by about 20 different brands. They come in stick form, vaccuum packed pouch, wrinkled shreds, oil smothered cubes, etc. Most of the formats are relatively disgusting. What's really sickening is the smell that permeates your vehicle when you open a slim jim.
Anyway, we agreed that it all comes down to 2 choices - Wild Bills or Lonestar. All the others suck. I have always been a major proponent of Wild Bills. I even went on their website and purchased a Wild Bills t-shirt (this could be the first t-shirt I've purchased in 4 years or so). I refuse to buy one of those slick Old Navy or American Eagle t-shirts. After all, wearing an Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt is not exactly a beacon for individuality. However, it does go well with your personalized license plate that says ERIC7 (that's because numbers 1-6 were already taken). I digress.
Here are some pros and cons:

Wild Bills is from Lancaster, PA. Lonestar is from Fairmont, WV. I'm not exactly sure which state is superior. I do know one thing. When I have discussions with West Coast strangers, I usually tell the I'm from Pittsburgh. Here's why - if I say I'm from West Virginia, they'll usually respond, "Oh, where in Virginia?" or "You don't sound like you've got much of a southern accent." If I tell them Pittsburgh, they seem less confused. Every once in a while, I'll get the response "Where in Pittsburgh?" I'll blatantly lie and respond "Canonsburg" - if they inquire further and tell me they know the area, I'll admit the lie and explain that I'm from Wheeling. On this side-note, Wild Bills gets the nod.
Wild Bills is a bit more on the smoky side. Lonestar on the tangy side. I'd have to vote for Wild Bills.
Wild Bills comes in a re-sealable large bag and is better suited for consumption while golfing. Lonestar comes in this tedious vaccuum packed pouch. Wild Bills gets the sonofsaf award for packaging superiority.
Wild Bills comes in large strips, Lonestar in tiny shredded pieces. This one is closer to a toss-up. It basically depends on ones preference. I would tend to steer towards Wild Bills.
Wild Bills is all about being wild or knowing someone Bill. Either of these are ok. Lonestar sounds too Texas-oriented. And let's face the facts, Texas sucks. Whether it's George Bush Jr., the Dallas Cowboys, or the idiots who name their children after every city in the state of Texas (Dallas, Houston, Austin, Tyler, the list goes on and on with the exception of Rio Grande), everything that is wrong with America can usually be associated with Texas.
All in all, Wild Bills is the resounding winner. You can purchase it at the former Mull's grocery store near Oglebay Village apts. or the Exxon in Center Wheeling. Other than those 2 places, it's very difficult to find it in the correct format.
Make sure it comes in the large bag. It costs $5.99 so be prepared to splurge. It's worth it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hospital food

My old friend Ken Dague used to beseech us to go eat lunch at the local hospital. His claims were straight-forward. Good food, great price. Affirmative on these 2 points. After making a lengthy production about it, one day a bunch of us had lunch at OVMC. I think this took place in 1997. I remember that it was pretty much standard cafeteria-like fare. A little less greasy. I'm pretty sure I had some whitefish and rice and possibly a salad. I guess all in all, it wasn't bad.
There's something strange about dining in a hospital cafeteria. Everyone wears their specific uniforms - different colored smocks depending on your rank and position. It lends itself to feeling like you're in a pychiatric institution. Usually, people tend to go through the line in groups. These groups of people generally have the same colored smocks. Then they proceed to the same tables based on the color of their respective smock. Seems like something out of an upbeat North Korean detention camp. Despite the relatively mundane atmosphere, I'm willing to give it another shot. Just something to keep in mind since there's always this never-ending discussion based on the question "Alright, where do you wanna eat lunch?"

Monday, June 06, 2005

Annual Wheeling Chili Cook-Off

Heather and I went to the annual Chili Cook-off thing in downtown Wheeling. Believe it or not, this is a really high end event. Aspiring Chili artisans come from as far as Cincinnati to compete. I usually stick with the samples from the out of towners. My reasoning being that if they travel more than an hour, their chili must be decent. For the most part, it's a safe assumption.
When I arrived I tried some salsa and was admonished by Heather. "You can't do that. That's not for you." I explained that it was a free sample. After about 5 minutes of repeated explanations, she reluctantly agreed. I consumed about 12 different samples. The best ones are usually the green chili concoctions. They should start serving a green vegetarian version of chili at Wendy's. I think it would be a big hit. Well, maybe not. After the finger controversy, the last thing you'd probably want to do is kick off a new chili promotional campaign.
Danno was one of the judges this year. I asked him who won the thing and he had no idea. The best way to win a chili cook-off is to LIE about where you're from. For example, Devil's Kitchen, Nebraska or Hot Springs, Arkansas or Firepit, Indiana. Well, you get the drift. Some of the Wheeling judges would easily be duped.
Anyway, for those that did not attend, I highly recommend it. A great time was had by all. And by the way, wear a dark shirt so if you accidentally spill some chili on yourself, you don't look like a fuckin' retard.

Thursday, June 02, 2005


My mother and father recently went on a peach picking expedition. Since peaches qualify as food, it's an easy review. Just copy and paste....

Pass the Peaches, Please

Tomorrow Shnepf Farm’s Peach Festival will be done.
Lets go pick some peaches today, sounds like fun.

We had no idea when we started to go
It was almost halfway to New Mexico.

And who would have thought that on this Saturday
A traffic jam on the Superstition Freeway.

Well we finally arrived there just in time
To take our place in a slow moving line.

The cost of admission was just five bucks each
And that did not include even one damn free peach.

We climbed onto a wagon that was pulled by a tractor.
The wind and the dust was a most unpleasant factor.

We each grabbed a box and took off to the trees.
There were lots of ripe peaches that we both picked with ease.

We picked only the ripe ones and were less than amused
When we noticed how easily they would get bruised.

We filled those two boxes I’m sorry to say
And we now have no doubt we got carried away.

Next we went to the scales and were shocked when we found
How much they all weighed at a dollar a pound.

It seemed for those peaches we had spent too much dough,
But we planned to gift peaches to some people we know.

We had plans to use peaches in cobblers and pies,
Stewed peaches, peach jam and perhaps peach surprise.

Peach ice cream and smoothies we’d make if we could.
But the problem is that they were not very good.

Some did not have much flavor and their skins were too tough,
And most of those peaches were not sweet enough.

Yes, the peaches were lousy, I am sorry to say,
Not as good as the ones at Fry’s or Safeway.

And the sun was so hot that I took off my shirt
And my eye glasses fell silently to the dirt.

The admission, the trip and the glasses I lost
Made five dollars a peach the approximate cost.

So please call our psychiatrist any time when
We head out to Shnepf Farms to pick peaches again!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Well, Heather and I went to the place called Sandscrest out GC&P road for lunch today. As I expected, it's really not suitable for a group of rowdies. There were a group of 19 post-menapausal women with a median age of 67. I was the only male. It felt comparable to a bible study group. "Saf, how do you know what a bible study group is like?" Well, I do. One of my old-school drinking buddies has an older brother who would host weekely bible study meetings at his home. I'd come in and rant about atheism and get all the churchies pissed off. Then we'd bolt to go out drinking before any of them had a chance to counter. This is slowly becoming my favortie hobby - whip the prospective "John Ashcroft-like-churchie" into a rage and then make a hasty exit. They are left fuming in the distance, while simultaneously it gets a good party-mood atmosphere going for the impending night of debauchery.
Anyway, Sandscrest is a really spectacular place. It's kind of a spiritual/quasi-religious retreat. Very peaceful. Nice rolling hills and a great place to meditate. I don't meditate very often; however, I do consume food. Lunch today was a standard buffet. Prime Rib, summer vegetables and banana cream pie. Everything was exceptional. They had a woman stand up and speak about the history of the place. On a scale of 1-10, I'd rate her performance a 4. But she meant well.
I was really gung-ho about making this a weekly event for lunch on Wednesday, but having been there, I just don't think it's appropriate.
Anyway, lunch was 10 bucks (about right). They also have dinner on Wednesdays - 15 bucks. Maybe dinner would be a better choice, but I kind of doubt it. So all in all, my recommendation is mixed. Great food, service and atmosphere, but regrettably, just not the right choice for the hardcore non-believer.

PS - Lots of Jesus fishes on the cars in the parking lot. That pretty much set the tone from the git-go.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Anonymous Restaurant Review - Uncle Pete's

Great news. I'm posting my first ever anonymous restaurant review. Although Uncle Pete's was reviewed a few months ago, I thought it might be nice to get a different perspective. And here it is...

My thoughts on Uncle Pete's:

1. I had the turkey special and it was filling, good though..
2. Quality of service - very quick, but not real friendly (which is fine with me) it's a good place to go for lunch...
3. Yes good...I love Uncle Pete's even though most of what I order is unhealthy food, but my favorite thing about it is the atmosphere....I like the sections of the divides it up and makes it less distracting, you can be more into the conversation with the people you came with less interruptions.....I like that....

I'd like to thank the individual (who shall remain anonymous) for his/her input. If anyone else has a review, I'd be more than happy to entertain the possibility of future special guest reviews. Light profanity encouraged.

Friday, May 20, 2005

chicken, steak, fish

I haven't made a post in about a month so this one's long overdue. Back in 1993 when my parents moved to Arizona, my father bestowed upon me some important words of wisdom. He said, "Rick, if you want good chicken, go to Riesbecks. If you want good steak, go to Kroger. And if you want bad fish, go to Giant Eagle." Then he wished me well, jumped in the mini-van and started their journey across the country. Some might think - Wow, what an emotional tear-jerker. I guess that's why Saf wears his emotions on his sleeve. Anyway, let's get past that and examine this statement.
I think we can all agree that Riesbecks is the place for chicken. The fried chicken in their deli is only second best to Safeway. Since there are no Safeways in the area, it takes the number one spot. Regardless of their superior chicken, there is a deep, dark secret about Riesbecks that I must share. I used to work there back in the late 80's, early 90's. I was basically a carry-out, stocked shelves, mopped up apple sauce in aisle 2, etc. Anyway, I was getting ready to go on my break and I saw an elderly man getting a newspaper from the machine outside. I asked him, "Hey, is it alright if I grab one of those (I kind of reached in the machine simultaneously)." He screamed, "Oh no you don't!" and slammed the door on my wrist. I called him a "mother fucking cock-sucker" Needless to say, he went inside and complained to the management. Apparently, my boss didn't appreciate me using that specific type of vulgarity. Anyway, they cut my hours to one shift per week so it would become an exercise in futility. I quit shortly thereafter. So it's obvious that I have mixed feelings about Riesbecks. Nonetheless, I applaud their chicken. An interesting sidenote, I bought an assortment of fried chicken on Wednesday night and I asked them if I could have some paper towels. One woman behind the counter offered me some plastic utensils with the napkins inside. I requested about 6 of them and another woman said, "We'll have to charge him for that." I thought to myself - who the hell charges customers for the individually wrapped fork-knife-spoon-salt-pepper-napkin combo? Then she said, "there are some napkins by the self-serve soup stand." I opted for the napkin approach which worked well.
Kroger is always the best local place to buy steak unless you bring Sam's Club into the picture. Sam's probably has the best, but when my father made the statement, I don't think there was a Sam's Club in St. C. Thus, he is vindicated.
Giant Eagle sucked - always has sucked and always will suck. They boast the worst pseudo-deli in the land. Unless you like shit - olive ham loaf spread and low-end slimy turkey breast come to mind. The brand names are a bit strange too (Sarah Bee instead of Sara Lee, Jennie-Blow instead of Jennie-O... Well, you get the picture. When the flood hit that shithole in Bridgeport, the residents should have celebrated. I say loot and pillage that building of crapulence. Then, treat the employees Abu-Gharaib, wolfman berzerker style. And, my father was correct - their fish sucks. Go to Coleman's or better yet, Wholly's in the Strip.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The best DiCarlos?

The phone was on its eigth ring at Dicarlo's and none of workers seemed interested, so I picked it up and yelled "DICK", then mumbled "arlos". The man called Patsy was not amused.
Nonetheless, I still get pizza there - probably about once a month. It's interesting how everyone has their preferences when it comes to this Ohio Valley institution. Some love it, some hate it. Some think it's great pizza, others say it doesn't even qualify as pizza. Some say it's unacceptable to order all ends. Some refer to it as sauce on a cracker. Some people will wait for over half an hour and bitch even though they're well aware of the call in process. Some get free additional slices. Most people do not. Some get to "cut the line" - others have to wait. Some people put money into that plastic dog thing (a charity for some kid who died in 1992), most people do not. Some people act drunk, others play the out-dated Miss Pacman game. Some ask to use the bathroom, most don't even know it exists. Even though it's a chain, the pizza at each one is entirely different, except for the square shape. My favorite thing about Dicarlo's is the way people throw the leftover boxes out their car windows in the middle of the night. They can be spotted by the faithful Sunday morning churchgoers all over the valley. On it goes.
Anyway, here's an opportunity to air your thoughts on Dicarlo's - anything really. Xtra cheese or not, which one has the best pizza, is it pizza, most slices eaten in a single outing, most time spent loitering in the parking lot next to the no-loitering sign, blah, etc.

Monday, May 02, 2005


I'm not sure whether to call this place Hoss's, Hosses, or Hoss. Let's just say they all suck ass. This place over by the Elm Grove exit is a disaster. I once ate their buffet. It was absolutely disgusting. There were a ton of flies buzzing around and one of them was stuck in some pudding struggling for its life. When you have empty space on the buffet, nothing fills it better than pudding. Whether chocolate, tapioca or vanilla, rest assured, Hoss has plenty of pudding alternatives in the dessert section. The thing I don't like about Hoss's buffet is the plentiful variations of the same food. For example, rather than just have chili, they'll have chili, sloppy joes, hamburgers, tacos and on it goes. A buffett is all about OPTIONS. Honestly, they should take a look at the infamous Super Buffett (the Chinese place next to TJ's - they have tons of choices although regrettably, they all suck as well).
From now on, I'll refer to the entity of Hoss's as simply "Hoss". What's realy bothersome is why. Why was Hoss selected to represent the Elm Grove area at such a visble and worthy location. Honestly, I would have preferred another fast food joint, even back to back Wendys sounds more appealing. Come to think of it, Hoss's predecessor Youngs Cafeteria wasn't that great either. It was just a poor version of Mehlman's Cafeteria with slightly higher prices and a decreased emphasis on lima beans. Hoss should never have gotten the go ahead to purchase the building. Maybe it's part of the mayor's ultimate plan to have a ton of crappy restaurants in Wheeling so his seems like the best choice. Perhaps that's what's going on here - an actual conspiracy - comparable to the guy with the 3 anti-car wash signs right next to the car wash. Who is this guy anyway? You know - the guy who was going to build his own car wash and was denied (by the city) and then got to see someone else build a car wash 30 feet next to his spot.
Hoss is very popular among the elderly. Tons of handicapped parking even though every parking spot is right next to the entrance. Plenty of oxygen tanks and wheelchairs - I thought I was at a Benny Hinn crusade. Maybe Hoss could compete with Hinn. It would be a cinch. Just have Mr. Hoss come on television and claim his 3 puddings represent the father, the son and the holy ghost. If you eat them all, you are blessed. Kind of like a pudding baptismal. The elderly patrons can dunk their heads in each of the 3 puddings and then dizzily walk around the Hoss lobby proclaiming they've been "puddified". Don't dismiss this. I think it would make for a great promotional campaign, and pudding is dirt cheap - probably the most cost-effective way to promote the Lord ever conceived. Just think of all the different pudding formations. I saw Jesus in the pudding. I saw Noah's Ark in the pudding (next to the aforementioned fly which could be construed as one of the insects that came to the ark in twosies, twosies, even though there's only one fly). I saw the virgin Mary's vagina - this one was spotted in the strawberry pudding. Alright, sadly enough, I'll end it on that note.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I always hear, "Saf, you suck. You go out to eat and all you do is bitch." This is generally true. Probably because most of the places to eat in Wheeling rank somewhere between mid-end and poor. There is an exception. Lo and behold, it's Figaretti's. This place is decent. The food is always above average. The atmosphere is very pleasant. The sevrice is exceptional. Even the parking situation is good, although it is subdivided into 2 separate lots. Fortunately, if the 2 lots are full, you can even park in a nearby dentist's lot. The dentist's lot probably has the best asphalt but it's also the farthest walk.
I usually just go here for lunch but every once in a while I'll try dinner. Most of my reviews are based on lunches anyway. I highly recommend the mushroom ravioli. Just about any of the pasta dishes are ok although the menu has an interesting discrepancy. The term meatballs actually refers to one lone meatball. This is comparable to the old bait and switch. The only other problem is the musical selection. They have a comprehensive jukebox but if the owner is present all he will listen to is a Frank Sinatra Greatest Hits cd. Although some think, wow great, that's perfect for an Italian restaurant, I find it gets a bit obsessive and stale. Keep in mind, this is the same cd played over and over again. Sometimes you may even hear the same song repeatedly played during the same meal. I mean, hey, we all like "ol blue eyes" but there comes a breaking point. In fact, I really don't like Sinatra at all. Come to think of it, I really don't mind Sinatra - what I despise are the karaoke imitators. You can also substitute Neil Diamond on this one. Sweet Caroline could be the most annoying bar sing-a-long song of all time. On a scale of 1-10, Figs gets a solid 8.5.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Hampton Inn

Most of you probably don't realize that the Hampton Inn offers breakfast. I dropped off a porn star (Briana Banks) at the hotel late Wed. night/Thursday morning. I couldn't believe the set-up they had. I didn't actually see the food, but the prep work and presentation were very strong. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Jesus Christ! Saf, that food is for guests only." Well, this could be true. I'm going to test this theory Monday morning.
I've been running pretty much everyday. I may even attempt the Elby's Distance Race although I think 20K could be a bit of a stretch. I asked Ben Schmitt if he thought I could run the Elby's and he pointedly said NO. I do appreciate the candor though. And I'll admit, he's probably right. Anyway, I'm going to start running in the morning - and I plan to run from my place to the Hampton Inn. Probably get there about 8:30am. I realize that most of you are sitting at a desk around that time, but if you aren't and want to meet up to try out the breakfast buffet, let me know. After a light breakfast, I'll probably walk/jog back home.
Now I'm sure you're thinking, after a few times the hotel people will probably get wise and put an end to the free buffet loader. Maybe, maybe not. We'll have to wait and see. Either way, I'll let you know how everything was and my success ratio until I get caught. Any predictions on how many times I'll get away with it before they say something????? Feel free to post it. I predict I'll be able to go 12 times - not back to back.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Walmart food

I normally try to avoid reviewing chain restaurants, but since we all shop at the big W from time to time, I thought I'd mention a few things.
First, Walmart has fantastic pistachio nuts. Since Mediterranean quisine is decent and springtime has arrived, I thought I'd mention this. These are the white pistachios so you don't get that fake red ink on your fingers. It's good to see that those red nuts have fizzled out of the mainstream. I think their reign of terror ended in the early 90's.
Next, their cranberry and ruby red fruit juices are really good. Not as concentrated as Ocean Spray, a little bit lighter and noticeably less expensive.
Their candy bar aisle has tons of minitiarized choices - all for a buck. I prefer Twix (the candy bar with the cookie crunch) as well as the all purpose Nestle Crunch and about once a year, I'll even get a 10-pack of Mounds. I suggest we write our congressman, Hersheys or whoever and try to get minitiarized Heath Bars and Skor into the marketplace. This is long overdue.
I would avoid things like canned tuna or soup - I always get the feeling that they have expired, why else would they end up in the overstocked aisle with all the off-spices like marjoram and curry.
I also highly recommend the Walmart brand cheese curls. They are way better than the more expensive Frito Lay brand.
Note: avoid Walmart brand or Sam's Club bottled water. If you plan on purchasing bottled water, these are the best choices.
1) the best - Roxane
2) Crystal Geiser
3) Ice Mountain
4) Dannon

The worst possible choices of bottled water are Dasani and Aquafina. Dasani does not even taste like water. It tastes like iron loaded with extra minerals. And everytime I see someone with a bottle of Aquafina - it seems like they're always dancing (doing the twist or the hustle). I don't care for people who dance while drinking Aquafina.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mexican place in Elm Grove

I'm not sure what this restaurant is called but I have eaten there 3 times. In general, I'm not entirely sold on Mexican food. My father used to refer to it as plates of "regurgitated dogshit". He would bark out, "Everything on this menu is the same thing". There is some truth in that.
The menu at this place has a huge list of offerings. I'd say about 100 different lunch choices. And as you may have guessed, they're pretty much all identical. I opted for the Speedy Gonzales. That's one chicken taco, one beef taco and some refried beans. It was neither good nor bad. In fact, as I consumed it, I was overcome with intense feelings of neutrality. I neglected to mention that it also came with a side of white rice. I've never had a meal where the rice stood out, but this could have been the one.
All in all, I'd say this place is a poor mans Chi Chis - not exactly warranting high praise. However, it was really cheap and the service (considering we were the only ones in the place) was decent.
I don't know many Mexican people and I especially don't care for their soccer team. Their fans are unruly but have no concept of hooliganism. They're more likely to pelt the opposing team with batteries. That's pretty weak. The US team was recently beaten in Mexico City (2-1). We will face them next in Columbus, Ohio in September. I predict a convincing victory.
As for Mexican food, it should generally be avoided. Why would anyone go out of there way to eat it? It's kind of like going to a fine Italian restaurant and ordering spaghetti. Why would you dine out and eat the most simplistic thing on the menu - kind of defeats the purpose of dining out, ehh?

Monday, April 18, 2005


Considering the fact that this is Wheeling, WV, I guess Sheetz qualifies as a restaurant and is reviewable material. The problem is... I've never eaten there. There's usually a line of 7 or 8 people milling around the computerized food terminal. The place is always packed so I've decided to just use it as an alternative gasoline source (my primary choice is Kroger, tertiary choice would have to be Woodsdale Exxon, formerly BP). This may change due to the Ed Coyne factor and I may have to boycott Sheetz in its entirety. If anyone wants to protest the Sheetz, let me know. We could make up some signs and go old school Benny Hinn via Mellon Arena. I just wouldn't want anyone to think I'm protesting Sheetz on behalf of Vance Church. Ironically, that's the one thing I love about Sheetz. It's a total eyesore next to a religious organization.
Seriously though, there's always a line 5 people deep at the register (some of them are morbidly obese, so the line has to kind of bend into the other line - that sucks, I don't support integration of multiple lines at convenience stores).
Another thing I don't care for is the color of the building. Get a grip - Sheetz is NOT Southwest Airlines. In fact, considering the LSD inspired color scheme, maybe they should call themselves Sheets (of Acid).
Another problem is the walk-in beer cooler. I feel like I'm in the enclosed porn section of the video rental store in Elm Grove. And to top it off, it's really not that cold in there. I once got a 12 pack of Miller Lite cans and it was only luke-cold.
Purely out of loyalty to Ed Coyne, I suggest we all boycott this orange/red monstrosity - unless it's for food after 3am because no matter how much Hardees claims to have improved, it still sucks cocks (in a veritable plethora of shapes and sizes). Except the Ham and Cheese sandwich, which is marginally edible if you're really hungry.
I did watch Heather Stollar eat a sandwich from Sheetz. I asked her how it was and she said it was "ok".

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Nail City

Alright, time to get back into the swing of things. That means restaurant reviews - not unsubstantiated propaganda.
I think they call this place River City these days, but I prefer Nail City. When this place first opened, it was pretty spectacular. They did a great job with the building - considering that before the renovations, it looked similar to Rogers Hotel up the street. I remember when they first opened up. The food was mediocre and the "home brew" was sketchy. I'm not a big fan of raspberry wheat or blueberry beer. Then a few years passed and the place really took a nosedive. Everything about the place really sucked. My ex-girlfriend even sued the place because a stall door in the restroom came unhinged and fell on her toe. Fortunately, I think she only lost a few hundred bucks due to the expertise of her attorney. His name will go unmentioned. At the time, he didn't have a license to practice law in the state of WV. I think he was, at best, an unconventional paralegal. The next time you hire an attorney, just ask to see their license. If they give you the run-around, something is probably askew.
Anyway, I ate at Nail City a couple weeks ago. I was absolutely blown away. The food was surprisingly good - nice presentation and a very generous portion. Our waiter looked like El Debarge or maybe he was just named Debarge. Let's just say that I could feel the rhythm of the night, although it was early in the afternoon. Everyone's meal was decent - no complaints. I did see a local stock broker whom I don't care for, but that wasn't the fault of the restaurant.
I heard that on Friday Night's they charge kids aged 18-20 a $10.00 cover to come in and dance. I think they give them a wristband or something so they don't drink. I can't beleive this is legal.
I don't normally advocate vandalism, but I think it would be cool if a group of disgruntled teenagers threw bricks at all the giant windows of Nail City. People from Wesbanco would gather outside the main branch and sob while viewing the broken glass. Local police would set up a perimeter of yellow caution tape so nobody accidentally steps on the glass and then decides to sue. Damage would be in the neighborhood of 10-15 grand. A while back I would have promoted this idea, but since the food has improved so dramatically, I'll refrain.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

feeding tubes

In light of the recent death of Terri Schiavo, I thought it might be advisable to convey a few thoughts. I'm not sure a feeding tube is fair game for a restaurant review column, but this blog sometimes follows a meandering protocol. Here we go...

The manner in which the right wing, Christian pro-life fundamentilists portrayed Michael Schiavo was absolutely disgusting. The way half our US Senate tried to use this dreadful incident to increase their political capital was even more abhorrent. Some idiot Portugese Cardinal or high-up in the church (I really don't care or honor the distinctions that make someone a pope, bishop, cardinal or whatever - those are some pretty embarrassing discrepancies) said today that the death of Terri Schiavo was an "Attack against God". What on earth qualifies this as mainstream news?

Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony if the pope, who appears to be in the process of getting his own feeding tube, undergoes similar "life-preserving" procedures and ends up totally incapacitated? Sometimes things really do come full circle on this planet. Considering the FACT that the pope encourages and is largely responsible for the denial of womens' rights on an unprecedented scale all across the globe, I think it would be a fitting tribute to his legacy to end up in a similar state of existence. I secretly hope (well I really don't keep it a secret) that they end up wheeling the pope to his window for mass hooked up to a ventilator, feeding tube, and whatever other medical contraption they can find. Then, he could be the one blinking, belching and farting as millions find comfort in his "wisdom". Wait a minute, isn't that pretty much what he does right now.

Although this may sound like a tirade against the Catholic Church and the pope, it really isn't. I assure you that I'm an equal opportunity basher of all the worlds' great religions. Don't despair and don't take offense. I have respect for most people, but absolutely no tolerance for the organized religious brainwashing process that starts from day one. Holy water???? Give me a fuckin' break. I'd much rather be doused with Dewars.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Charlie Chan / Panda

There used to be a fast food Chinese place at the Ohio Valley Mall called Charlie Chan. They closed down for a few months and reopened as "Panda". Oddly enough, the menu and the set-up remained exactly the same. Panda closed down a few years ago and I'm not sure what it is these days. It might be a pretzel shop or something.
Charlie Chan was notorious for bringing bad Chinese food to the people of Belmont County. Fortunately, the good people of Eastern Ohio are not able to discern what constitutes good or bad "Americanized-Chinese food" - a blessing in disguise. Spring rolls and egg rolls are the same thing. Those little fried noodles that accompany Wonton soup are properly referred to as Fritos. Over half the patrons do not understand the term MSG. If you ask, most will stare blankly and say uhhh, Madison Square Garden.
One of my biggest gripes about any Chinese restaurant are the placemats. They all have that Chinese zodiac which dates all the way up to 2060 - just in case you're big on advance planning and don't want your future daughter Shameka to be labeled a turtle. OOOOhhhh, you are friends with the rabbit, your enemy is the dog. Do not trust the rooster. I think this is where George Bush derives his diplomatic skills when dealing with foreign leaders. I'm not sure, but I'd be willing to bet that Osama is a snake.
Anyway, the menu had some really dumb names. The combos were all called, Number One Son, Number Two Son, Number Three Son, etc. As if saying those names is not humiliating enough, you could always say "Mmmmm, I'll have the Chicken Chan." This was a some of the whitest chicken breast meat I have ever seen. Served on a stick, it probably had more steroids pumped into it than Barry Bonds.
The seating was interesting. There was a triangle table in the middle which sat 3. Then, there were 5 stools on the side. The strange thing was that you had to eat facing the wall with your back turned to everything. You were forced to sit and stare directly into the wall. You rarely see a restaurant with maximum seating of 8. Makes you wonder what the maximum occupancy for the firecode would have been.
Another thing, none of the cooks (there was only one "cook") were Asian. You'd place your order at the counter and then you'd hear somoeone dumping the crap into a deep fryer. There was none of the traditional Chinese music in the background. Instead, you get the Rick Dees American countdown. Coming in at Number 3 was Nu Shoes... I Can't Wait.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Who among us does not enjoy a fresh baked loaf of bread? Bread was a staple of the Israelites. It's high in carbs but that probably wasn't a concern when they were fleeing the evil Pharoah. Speaking of religious tales, I have some complaints about organized religion and biblical nonsense that need to be told.
First of all, here's the big one. One of the most embarrasing aspects of religion is that it's SO fatalistic. Everything is always in "God's hands". This sickens me, not because I don't believe in gods, ghosts, and goblins, but rather because it serves as an all-purpose excuse for the horrific actions of man. Rather than blame the leader of a country for the senseless slaughter of millions, people can always say "Well, it's up to the Lord. He will guide us." What kind of inexcusable gibberish is this? How can an educated person get away with crap like this? Where's the culpability? Where's the rationality? Why do people instantly become such absolute dumbfucks when they invoke the higher power?
When you think about it, the existence of organized religion is surely the CRUELEST HOAX EVER PERPETUATED ON MANKIND. It's main function throughout the ages has been to serve as a divisive killing machine. Why is it a hoax? It's a hoax because there's no CREDIBILITY.
The worst possible scenario is when you come across a biology professor who teaches evolution and professes a belief in the supernatural. ANYONE WHO DENIES THE EVOLUTION OF MANKIND IS A FOOL.
My favorite is when someone says, "Don't you understand that evolution is just a theory?" How come there currently aren't apes "turning into man?" How do you reason with such idiots?
I realize that a lot of this may seem like argumentum ad hominum - that I'm not justifying my statements and just lashing out, but every once in a while this stuff really builds up.
I'll try to avoid these future tirades. After all, this is supposed to be about restaurant reviews.
One more thought, people either believe in the existence of a supreme being or they don't. I think an increasing number of people really don't care either way and an even greater amount will simply say "I don't know" - When people ask me, "Do you believe in God?" I respond by not only saying, no I don't, but I attempt to explain that I think the question itself is very humiliating. You're basically asking me if I am a complete moron. At least that's how I interpret the question these days. It's time for people who reject religious nonsense to become more aggressive and assertive with their contempt. There needs to be a better balance. It currently tips way too far in the other direction. Everyday people get away with spewing absolute nonsense. I'm just saying that it's the RESPONSIBILITY of the non-believer to take a stronger stance. You do the world a disservice by remaining silent.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Lebanon Bakery

I ate there today. I don't give many favorable reviews, but I really like The Lebanon Bakery. It's probably one of the healthier places to dine. Great salads, questionable wedding soup, decent meat pies, good desserts, etc. Nothing negative to say. I even like the building as well as the location. Speaking of the location, it's located right next to the infamous MY CLUB. For those of you who don't know, the My Club is one of the oldest, proudest strip clubs in the area. It closed down about 9 months ago and rumor has it that the city is going to purchase the building and an adjacent lot. Appraised at $40,000, the city (in its infinite wisdom) is apparently offering $110,000.
My favorite My Club experience happened in the early 1990's. I did not witness this particular event - I read about it in the Wheeling Today section of the newspaper. Apparently, a woman (probably a prostitute) was being assualted by 2 men, so she "picked up a dead raccoon and started flailing it madly at her attackers". The alleged assailants quickly fled the area. This is all we know.
Although they rarely advertised, the My Club had a wide range of events...
Monday - C Section Night
Tuesday - Dental Improvement Night
Wednesday - Bring your 2 kids to work
Thursday - Celebrity bartenders! Featuring the clients of Russell Nesbitt
Friday - Amateur night (this could feasibly apply to every night)
Saturday - Special guest appearance by Sally Struthers. Meathead will be signing autographs at the bar.
Sunday - Menstrual Night

Speaking of menstruation, I had this corpulent neighbor in Oglebay Village. One day, she looked at me and said, "Eric, I'm not menstruating, I'm marinating." True story. I'll leave it at that.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Kroger Salad Bar

Half the people in the U.S. incorrectly refer to Kroger as "Krogers". I am one of them. Maybe it's not a big deal, but what if one day, everyone starts saying "Giant Eagles" or "Food Lions". Then again, many among us say "Piggly Wigglies" even though I'm pretty sure it's just Piggly Wiggly. I hope that place went bankrupt - I find it disturbing that anyone would purchase food at something called Piggly Wiggly, with the exception of people from Mississippi and Alabama.
On the average, the Kroger produce dept. is pretty bad. I suppose it's ok if you want to buy a stalk of celery or a bag of carrots, but have you ever checked out the area on the left. Mangy zucchini, limp snow peas, discolored mushrooms and my personal favorite - a lone basket of 5 artichokes reasonably priced at $3.99 per choke. I know, I know - it's not artichoke season.
As for the actual salad bar, it's probably the best place to assemble your own salad. In Ohio County, not many options exist for those who want to add beets or chick peas. After all, beets tend to be red, and the color red is an instrument of Satan. I'm sure the typical Kroger shopper would agree with that assessment. Radishes also symbolize the bitterness one might experience if condemned to eternal damnation. This is the hell where godless sodomites gather and cast aspersions upon baby Jesus, Moses and even Ezekial. Don't believe me... then just hang out by the salad bar on Sunday after church lets out. I once spoke with an elderly woman (I believe her name was Harriet) - she was terrified by broccoflower. I tried to explain the concept of a hybrid vegetable. She said, and I quote, "If God didn't make it, I don't eat it. What are they going to clone next? Humans? I don't vote for anyone who wants genetic engineering. You should move to France!"
Some of the people in this town are also terrified of "cutting edge" lettuce. This would include, but is not limited too, Romaine, Escarole and even Spinach. Spinach is sometimes ok if it has been chopped and presented in a frozen block. Spinach reached the mainstream in late 1998 and was given its rightful opportunity on the salad bar. Edlerly locals staged a vehement protest at the Kroger help desk but opposition gradually waned. Shortly thereafter, iceberg and spinach would stand side by side.
One important note, there is a pile of pre-packaged pickles - these could be the absolute worst pickles ever produced. I think they're called Freestone or something. This reminds me of a sour experience I had back in 1995. I was living in Oglebay Village and for a short time, I was on this "I want to get free stuff kick". Anyway, I started calling 800 numbers on the back of food products. I'd complain and they'd send me a coupon for free canned asparagus, or whatever. Anyway, I once called the Claussen people and complained about their pickes. I actually like Claussen pickles - so when they asked me what the problem was, I stuttered and mumbled that there was a nail at the bottom of the jar. The woman on the other end of the line was flabbergasted and said they'd immediately look into it. Anyway, the next day a man in a suit showed up at my door from somewhere in Pittsburgh (he had PA plates). He said he was a quality control specialist with Claussen and asked to see the tainted jar. I immediately knew the gig was up. I started sweating profusely and yelled at him to get the hell off my porch. Then I ran back in the apt. and slammed the door. He knocked a few more times as I hid in my apartment. This is the true definition of cowardice.
Anyway, Kroger Salad bar isn't great, but it's the best we've got to offer. On a scale of 1-10, it gets a 7.1.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

TJ's - WHY?

Why is this place filled with human beings? There is only one reason why this place is a viable business. Allow me to attempt an explanation...
LOCATION. If you can dodge the never ending construction on National Road, I'm sure we can all agree that TJ's is in the best possible location of Ohio County. Speaking of the construction, I hear that National Road will be fixed by October of this year. Yeah, right. This project is being presented by Savage Contruction - the same people who took 3 years to build the new S Bridge in Triadelphia (aka deep Elm Grove). And although the new bridge is up and running, the old one is still there. At least its remnants are still there. I might go by and take some discarded concrete for some outdoor steps I'm putting in. I predict the National Rd project will end in early 2007.
Anyway, why do people eat at TJ's. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever. Just about everything on the menu is poor. It kind of reminds me of the food they serve in a public high school. That's the most apt comparision. By and large, I think fast food is better. Some people choose to eat there because of the televised sporting events. What's odd is that there's no volume so you can't hear any of the commentary. Actually, this is not true. When they remodeled (due to the flood) they installed a bunch of flat screens at some of the tables. These Samsungs replaced the original "noise boxes" which were there for mainy asthetic value I guess.
The saddest thing about TJ's is the clientele. Avid sports fans will go there to drink pitchers of over-priced crappy beer and eat there "famous" wings. They also have "famous" cole slaw which is equally poor. These sports fantatics will aggresively pace the floor and shout at the silent wide screen. These people are pathetic. The most embarrassing part is when they try to befriend others who are routing for the same team - Half way through the introduction it becomes apparent that one of the people is either A. mentally retarded or B. has no life. This is not good.
Another injustice is that the average TJ's waitress makes about $12.00 in tips + an hourly wage of $2.45 per day. How do they get away with this shit? However, most of the girls who work there are pretty hot. One of those Wheeling oddities I guess.
You might ask, "Saf, isn't there anything good to say about TJ's?" The answer is yes - the free popcorn. That's about it.
Oh, I forgot. When you walk in the door there is a collage of smiling faces on the wall. Most of these humanoid things are smiling or in some mild state of ectsacy becuase they are celebrating the existense of the local minor league hockey team. Not the fact that they are winning - I don't think they've ever won the championship. There mere existence is a tribute to the prosperity that Wheeling has to offer. I hope they don't ever win the championship - if they did, they'd have a parade through the streets of downtown Wheeling. Then, surely all the freaks and "bandwagon fans" would gather. If you think the bandwagon fans of the Dallas Cowboys are bad news, then you wholly underestimate the bandwagon nonsense that Wheeling could possibly offer.
Anyway, on a scale of 1-10 (all things considered) - TJ's gets a .8, not an 8, a .8.

Friday, March 11, 2005


There's a relatively new restaurant on the distant perimeter of Ohio County. It's located off the Jill's Lounge exit of I-70. Continue through the interesection and start your descent toward rt. 40. It is located on the left. The parking lot is mildly disturbing. Tons of mud and gravel. There's an upper lot as well but it consists of about 20 storage sheds. When you enter Ruttenbucks you'll see a sign that says "SEAT YOUR D*$% SELF". In many ways, this is an omen of things to come. The place is one of those "down home redneck party" bar/restaurants. The bar is kind of small but has a nice feel to it and there's a pool table in the back. The menu is pretty big for such a small place. I had something called "Beef Dippity" on the advice of our waitress. I asked her what she would get - she replied without hesitation, "The Beef Dippity, in fact, I'm turing into the beef dippity." With all due respect, she did bear a slight resemblance to the sandwich. The sandwich was decent but don't get the chips - they suck. Substitute something in their place.
The decor is consistent with one of those "hip" steak houses. Lots of stainless steel pots and pans on the walls. Horseshoes everyhwere and of course, the entire Nascar schedule just in case you've forgotten where the Sunday race is - this week it's in Vegas!
I have never been a fan of these kinds of restaurants - It's a scaled down version of West Texas Roadhouse which I passionately despise. There's even peanut shells all over the floor to give it that added rustic look. The management always seems to encourage the staff to say things like "How ya'll doin" or "What'll it be for you'ins today". What's really bad is when they get the foreign exchange student from Taiwan who decides she wants to make a few extra bucks, even though her parents have stashed a quarter million in her checking account. I actually went on a date with the person I'm describing, except it was an Iranian girl named Fareeba and she worked at West Texas Roadhouse. She also claimed to be a virgin although that's largely irrelevant. We went to West Texas for dinner on our first date (her suggestion) and she got up from the table and line-danced with the staff (even though she wasn't working). She must have felt it was her obligation to participate. Surprisingly, we didn't really hit it off. There's just something inherently wrong when foreigners decide to embrace redneck ideology.