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.