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Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Burger Patti

RudiTodd from luvmetenders fame hipped me to this new joint on the West side of Fayettenam.  It used to be an insurance office or something, but now it's a burger place.  Ugly.

Big Roy and I walked in and were immediately flummoxed by the lack of space (editors note: big men get nervous in confined spaces).  To say that The Burger Patti is tiny is an insult to tiny, cause tiny is bigger than this.  Here is the (total) seating area.  BTW the picture is not blurry, that guy was actually a blurry person.

The counter where you order is at most 4 feet from the front door.  Notice the drink machine precariously perched on the counter? 

And this is what you see directly behind the order counter.  Not pretty.

I was pleasantly surprised to see actual potatoes back there, though.  Let's hope he knows how to cook em.

Big Roy and I ordered the standard burger/fries/drink combo, but when I asked for an extra order of fries for evaluation the little chippy behind the counter smirked.
CHIPPY:  The combo comes with fries.
GIBBY:  I know.  I want an extra order of fries.
CHIPPY:  That's a lot of fries...I probably aren't going to be able to finish them.
GIBBY:  Huh huh......Ha Ha....HA HA....HAHAHAHAHAHAHA...*Cough  *Cough
*Chippy starts backing away scared
BIG ROY:  Pardon my friend.  He's been on extended bivouac with the 463rd battalion regiment foxtrot company and hasn't had anything but MREs for 6 months.  He's extremely hungry.

15 mintues later, we got this.  The salt shaker is to show scale.  Too many fries to count, but a good amount for the $1.95 they cost.

Freshly fried, skin-on fries that seemed to be double cooked.  Perfect.

I'd like to note that the amount of fries we got WITH the burger was about a third of the full order, making the Chippy SO INCREDIBLY WRONG about what constitutes "a lot of fries".  Anyhoo, here's the burger, blah, blah, blah, this is not a burger blog.

Even though the only pretty thing at The Burger Patti is the fry-delusional Chippy, Big Roy (and I) both give the fries a 10 out of 10.  Rare for fresh cut fries.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mr. Dunderbak's in Daytona Beach

It's not often that a joint is a home run on all fronts.  It's even less often that a chain joint is a home run.  Even less oftener-ish is when said chain joint is located in a mall.  In spite of what would seem to be a recipe for total Solanum Tuberosum disappointment, Mr. Dunderbak's is THE BEST PLACE EVER!

Located in the Volusia County Mall in Daytona Beach, FL, Mr. Dunderbak's has been operating under the same family ownership since 1975 (I got that from their website, but we know it's true cause the original owner's son and now current owner waited on us).  He was super-cool.  BTW, there are Mr. Dunderbak's(s) all over the country.  Google it.

Anyhoo, Mr. Dunderbak's is this uber-weird concept.  It's a restaurant, bar, German stuff store, premium beer/wine store, and delicatessen (which includes fresh sausage, cheeses, desserts, and more).  It's a bit visually confusing.  We were there at like 2 o'clock on a Tuesday, so the only people there were old folks and college kids.

The place is jam-packed with stuff.  Here you can see the bottles of super-fancy beer piled on the bar that you can buy and take home.  They also have like 40 beers on tap.  Crazy!

German style food?  Check!  We got the sausage sampler:

The Jager Schnizel:

And the Reuben.  Awesome.

I was enjoying a tasty Hacker Pschorr Oktoberfest when these came to the table.  $2.59 for 46 steaming-hot, savory fries that overflowed from the boat onto the plate (I love that).

The batter was clearly beer-related, and the seasoning had hints of curry, pepper, allspice, and cayenne.

Exquisite!  10 out of 10!

GRUNION:  Yo pops, these fries are great but I think you should let me out of this kid seat so I can do some shopping.
GIBBY:  By "shopping" do you mean running around and knocking stuff over?

GRUNION:  A little bit.
GIBBY: Then, no.

GRUNION:  Cool.  I'll just throw the king of all hissy fits here in the chair.  All those retired Germans at the next table will probably love it.
GIBBY:  Okay, go knock stuff over.

If heaven is like a mall, Mr. Dunderbak's better be what the section for people who like beer and fries is like.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Ah, Dollywood.  The amusement park that was the childhood home of country music and film star Dolly Parton.  She grew up in a little one room cabin next to the log flume ride, and they say that's what made her strive and dream and work and reach for the stars!  Or something like that.  We were there cause the Grunion heard they had a USATC S118 Class 2-8-2 steam locomotive and he wanted to check out the 76.2 mm wide spacers they placed between the wheels and the truck side frames on the axles to deal with the fact that they were originally narrow gauge engines for mountain use.

Anyhoo, while we were on the train, they must have made a loudspeaker announcement that everyone AND THEIR ENTIRE FAMILY should go get in line at the ONLY BOOTH in Dollywood that sold fries.  Seriously, we passed the booth like 20 minutes earlier and there was NO ONE waiting.  This was the line when we got there.

The line snaked all the way back to the Pappy Snuffy's Pissin Porch restrooms!

As I was waiting in line (the Grunion and Amy abandoned me to get a funnel cake), I started to realize why there was such a long line for a product that takes 2 minutes to make.  The place was infested with grannys!  The woman running the show (named Millie) had to be at least 80.

Every other word out of Millie's mouth was "What?" cause she couldn't hear.  She also dealt with the touchscreen register like it was trying to rob her.  Sheesh.  BTW, this turned out to be endemic at Dollywood, as we encountered the elderly running most of the shops and booths.

Sooooooo an order of "tater twirls" and a diet coke is....YIKES!

The moment of truth.  Not good.  They were the kind of "fries" where they just spin-cut a potato (usually with a cordless drill and a weird attachment) and toss the whole spun-cut mess into the fryer with no brining, and with no two-stage blanching/cooking.

Here's a close up.  WTH?  Is that a hair on the fries right in the middle there?  Didn't notice that while we were eating them.  Gross!

I was already gonna give these overpriced, bland, texturally dubious embarrassments a low score, but now with the photographic evidence of contamination with what looks to be (at best) an eyelash, I have to declare that these fries are LESS THAN ZERO.  -2 out of 10. 

Bad Dolly!  No surgery biscuit!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Smoky Mountain Brewery, Pigeon Forge, TN

We drove through Pigeon Forge, TN recently on our way to Florida.  And yes, Pigeon Forge is the home of the famed Dollywood Amusement Park in case you were wondering.  It took us 12 hours to get there, and by then we were ready for some beer and fries.  Luckily, by accident the hotel I booked was directly across the street from the Smoky Mountain Brewery.  Sweet!

First we drank a bunch of "taster" beers.  They were all good, but they could do fine with 3 or 4 since some of them were so similar you couldn't tell the difference.

Then we had some soft pretzels with beer cheese and mustard.  This is well known to cure road weariness.

Then we ordered fries.


Ok amount for $2.75, but they were just your garden-variety frozen baggers with some tricky spice tossed on em.  4 out of 10.  Stick to the beer and pretzels.

Amy and the Grunion got into an embarrassing milk/beer chugging contest right before we left.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crapelo Redeemed?

I reviewed a joint in Tupelo, Mississippi recently and pretty much trashed the entire town based on the whole experience. By strange luck we were back through Tupelo (formerly Crapelo) driving back from a vacation last week and it seems that they took my constructive criticism to heart and have completely fixed everything!

I'm sure the improved experience (hotel and food) had nothing to do with the fact that I actually used my brain and made a reservation at the "best" hotel in Tupelo (the Best Western PLUS Inn and Suites) and we went to a local BBQ joint instead of a crummy chain restaurant.  Either way, Tupelo is allowed for now to remain a town on my planet.

Crossroads Rib Shack has awesome BBQ.  Just want to put that out there first.  We had a sausage sampler appetizer with cheese and peppers and really good brisket.  The BBQ is on point.

Also, we had this beer from Alabama called Naked Pig, which was also really good.

But what is it with BBQ places and fries?  They usually don't have them at all, and if they do, they suck.  Such was the case with Crossroads.  This was the order of fries I received.  They were $1.65.

Double Boo.  They weren't even as good as junior high cafeteria fries.  Even the Grunion wouldn't eat them.

With our dinner, I ordered the "spicy fries" as a side, but they were equally crappy (and they are $2.50).

So, overall I would give the regular fries a 0 out of 10 and the spicy ones a 2 out of 10.

Incidentally, the Grunion refused all BBQ items and opted instead for the BIGGEST PIECE OF CAKE EVER.  After 11 hours with him in the car Amy and I didn't care and gave it to him.

He got really upset when I tried to take a few of the crumbs that were left on the plate.