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Friday, December 31, 2010

Bob Evans - Big Farm Burgers (The Farmstand)

  Recently I got to visit Bob Evans and try out one of the new Big Farm Burgers.  I should stipulate that I wasn't visiting Bob Evans himself, since he died a couple of years back, and the only time I met him in person was at the Ohio State Fair back around 1986. (I have a photo of him and myself somewhere)

  Anyway, we had a few of those "kids eat free" coupons they give out sometimes at Carriage Hill Metropark, and decided to visit.  Along with the regular menu, they had a new "burger" one accompanied by the usual photos of almost impossibly huge (airbrushed?) and perfect looking burgers.  Burgers seem a little out of place at Bob Evans, you say?  Well, it turns out that they have a history at the company.  Not only was one of the first restaurants run by Bob Evans a steakhouse (offering his hamburgers), but the more modern company has also offered them in the past as well.

  I was trying to make up my mind between my normal favorite and trying something new, mostly because the Big Farm burgers are advertised with fries and cole slaw as sides, if you want it as a platter.  The platter costs about $9.30.  I like my Mom's and Grandma's cole slaw, but I'm disappointed with it most places.  I decided to ask if I could substitute, and they told me yes, which made up my mind.  I ended up getting "The Farmstand", which is advertised as a half pound of Angus beef on a "brioche" (egg bread, for the non French speaking like myself) bun.  It also comes with portabella mushrooms, Swiss cheese and baby spinach leaves.  For my sides, I got green beans with bacon and a side salad.

  Was the meal filling?  Yes.  Often I'll get burgers off the value menu at various places, such as the cheeseburger deluxe at Wendy's, for about $1.10.  That has a nice tomato slice, onion and lettuce, but it takes 2-3 to fill me up.  The side salad had some nicely ripe cherry tomatoes.  After eating that, I tackled the green beans, which were tasty.  The burger itself was the highlight, of course.  I already mentioned that I felt full after this meal, but was it the best tasting burger I've ever had?  That was a tough question.  I can't really say it was the very best I've ever had, but it was definitely right up there.  I can certainly say it was one of the best I've ever had.  I don't think it was quite able to overcome my memories of the mushroom burger sold by the chain "Burger Chef" back in the 70's and 80's, though.

  Considering that I could buy all of this at a retail grocer for about $3.50, though, I'm sure that Bob Evans is able to get it for about $2.25 by buying in bulk.  Selling a burger based meal up near $10, even with a really tasty burger, still seems a bit overpriced.  I think a fair price for the meal, including the sides, would be about $7.

  Big Farm hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, smokehouse burger and 3 cheese burger also available.

Further reading:

Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coupon Roundup #2

  It's the Christmas season, and what do folks think of around this time of year?  Coupons, of course!  Well, at least you do when there is an amazing pile of them in your mailbox.  I'm sharing a few of the better ones that don't expire for a bit, have decent savings, and don't say anything about no copies or duplicates.

  But first, I thought I'd share that it's a "Love Boat" Christmas.  That's right, I have been enjoying the first half of the very first season - 1977 - thanks to a DVD from the Dayton Metro Library.  Surprisingly, the show holds up really well, and is funny!  It ran for 10 full seasons.  The library had several copies of the first half of the first season, but not the second half of the first season. (which includes the very first TV movie that launched the show)  Dayton Dining has gone ahead and donated 4 copies of 'Season One Volume Two' to the library, on behalf of the people of Dayton.  It typically takes several months to add videos to the catalog, so in the meantime, you can find the first half here:

Love Boat DVD @ Dayton Metro Library

  Now , on to the coupons!
(my apologies for any ghost images, I think I've figured out how to solve that problem with my scanner next time)

I like the 1/4 off 2 sandwiches

      That 25% off 2 meals is pretty decent
(I suggest trying the nachos if you visit)

  Can't complain about saving $5

Not a lot off as a percentage, but for a place with a
lot of selection, this already one of the most
reasonably priced buffets in the area

This place specializes in Eastern European foods
lunch is very reasonable, and $2.50 off makes
it even better

For 250 items, $6.29 seems like a good deal for a lunch buffet.  Add the $1 off coupon, and you're paying just over 5 bucks.

A couple of 20% off coupons
Sunday brunch buffet for $7.95

Fantastic deal on Mondays, buy 1 get 1 free
the coupons are roughly 30% off

I've heard the lobster bites are good
but I'm most interested in the "2 can
dine for $9.99" deal

Even without the coupons, this place is a good deal.  I'm glad to see one back in the area.  They have great dessert pizzas, and if you ask they'll make 1 to order for no extra charge.

Lots of ~ 20% off deals
haven't tried this place yet, but the
pulled pork sure looks good

 Oh, here's another coupon deal if you like the idea of free french fries at Wendy's:
Wendy's French Fries  note that this requires installation of the coupon printer
 (if link isn't working, the Wendy's website also features a link - limit 2 coupons)

 Burger King is also running a promotion through Jan. 16 for buy 1 get 1 free original chicken sandwich.
No coupon is required.

Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mel-O-Dee Restaurant, New Carlisle

  You can tell this place has been around a while at first glance due to the sign out front.  The sign itself reminds me a bit of the one in front of the Melody 49 drive-in, or perhaps another in front of the "Route 40 motel" in Columbus.  Plus, the message is cute: "Our food will put a Mel-O-Dee in your Heart!"  Mel-O-Dee Restaurant has been around since 1965 - just a bit over 45 years old at this point.  Back then, many of the visitors may have eaten supper here, then gone across the road to watch a movie at the Park Layne Drive-In, which opened in 1962. (and closed just a few years ago - I have fond memories of watching some movies during the summer there)  Few restaurants around these parts ever make it anywhere near the half century mark, so they must be doing something right.

  When we went in, we were seated by our waitress Arlene, who was very attentive, and reminded me of my Mother.  50's and 60's music was playing very low in the background.  Booth was clean.  We ended up getting both a 16 ounce T-bone steak and a Sirloin Steak, though I was tempted by the seafood choices.  Our order was placed at 1:33, with the food eventually arriving at 1:52.  While we waited, I browsed the menu some more.  I was amused to see that this is the only place I've ever eaten where you can order "Mel-O-Dee Broaster Chicken by the box", and one of those boxes evidently holds 5,000 pieces for $4,999!  That's not a typo on the menu, because they also have 500 and 1,000 pieces listed.  I'm guessing the larger amounts must be for huge parties, but I was envisioning how much of the restaurant would be filled up with a 5,000 piece order.  Sandwich platters are about $6-$7, while most Dinners are $10-$12.  On Mondays they have an all you can eat Broaster Fish deal for $8.69.

  Before the food arrived, they brought us salad and some rye bread.  I always enjoy it when places have more than just basic white bread to offer, and the rye bread was excellent.

  Sweet corn was extra sweet and juicy.  Salad was basic, but sliced tomato was ripe.  Steamed cabbage was very tender and good with some butter and salt on it.  Hash brown casserole was tasty and actually browned, like the name implies it should be.

  Now, on to the meat.  I'm not sure I would qualify the cut I received as a "choice" t-bone steak, it seemed a little more like select to me, but then again, I wasn't exactly expecting USDA prime.  It was overall quite good, with a few gristly areas next to the bone, and not over or underdone.

  Special thanks to Arlene, who was a fantastic waitress.  When our youngest got rather energetic, she even took him off our hands and showed him off to the other waitresses for a few minutes, to give us a little quiet time to finish our meal.

address: 2350 South Dayton-Lakeview Rd. (235) New Carlisle, east side of street
telephone: 849-1378
hours: 6am to 10pm every day

Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Fazoli's - pizza baked pasta

  Their website still has the motto "Fast, fresh, Italian", but Fazoli's isn't quite as fast as it used to be.  I remember the first time I walked into one of their restaurants, back in ~1993, that I was impressed by the endless breadsticks, and the concept that the food was pretty darn quick.  Since it was considered a fast food restaurant (pay up front, wait in line for your food), you were expected to bus your own table, and no tip was needed.  However, they still came around every 8-10 minutes or so and asked if you wanted more breadsticks.  Ah, those breadsticks - endless if you sat around long enough!

  A few years back they tried doing away with the endless breadsticks, and offered them only as a side item choice where you paid a certain amount, and got a couple of them.  That went over like a lead brick.  Today the company seems to have undergone a change where they are trying to become less of a fast food restaurant, and more of a traditional one.  The lines at the front are gone, but you still pay up front.  Now you go wait at a table instead.  My wait this time around was about 10 minutes for lunch.  Instead of serving yourself, they bring the food to you.  I also no longer saw a convenient place to dump my own trash and put my tray afterwards, so it appears that they are now expecting to clean up after you, which would mean that tips are expected.

  Although I usually try some lasagna when I eat Italian food, this time I decided on a new offering, "Pizza baked pasta", for $3.99.  They implied that the price may be going up soon, so it may be a bit higher.  When presented with a choice between pizza baked spaghetti, ziti or ravioli, I went with the latter.  The Pizza baked ravioli is essentially a dish of cheese ravioli topped with what you would traditionally think of as a pizza topping.

  If I'm thinking of Italian food, I often at least consider dining at Fazoli's.  They were playing a mix of 1940's, 50's and Italian music in the background this time, with very occasional advertisements.  The place was very clean, and they brought me some breadsticks within a few minutes of sitting down, while I was waiting for the food.  They even offered to let me have more than just 2, which was great.  The chairs in the place are a nice touch, with the backs formed into large red hearts.  About the only tiny complaint I can come up with is that perhaps the interior could use a new paint touch up - the walls had a good number of scrapes from people backing their chairs into them.

  One thing that I thought was funny is that they offered to let me add Parmesan cheese to my pizza baked pasta for an extra dollar.  Parmesan cheese is already readily available at all the tables for free, so why would I do that?

  The Pizza baked ravioli arrived in an extremely hot ceramic dish.  The mild cheese worked very well with the pepperoni topping, which was essentially ~1/4" of cheese and sauce on top.  It was hot enough that I was able to sample the occasional bite by blowing on it on a spoon, but it was another 4 or 5 minutes before I could really dig in.  Once I had finished, I noticed there were self serve doggie bags.  I didn't need them this time, but it was a nice touch!

Fazoli's - 5230 Cobblegate in Moraine  (just off of Springboro Pike, not far from the Kroger's)
telephone: 299-3457
hours: Sun.-Thur. 10:30am - 10pm, Fri. & Sat. 10:30am to 11pm
delivery available at most locations (there are 4 in the Dayton area)

copyright 2010 by Dayton Dining

Monday, November 8, 2010


  I saw this at a local McDonald's recently, and thought "Now I've seen everything."  Oatmeal is certainly healthy, and I'm sure a lot of folks have been trying to get McDonald's to make its menu healthier.  The question is, will anyone order it?  I mean, I can't imagine driving somewhere to eat out, waiting in line to order, and getting ... oatmeal. (which you can fix in 2 minutes at home)

  Can anyone think of a good caption for this sign?  It seems like it deserves one...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TGI Friday's coupon Buy 1 Get 1 free sandwich or salad

  TGI Friday's has a printable coupon available, which allows you to buy 1 sandwich or salad, and get 1 free.  Coupon is good through Sunday, November 7.

  I've always loved a buy 1, get one free deal!


(also has restaurant locator in upper right corner)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Panera Bread

  I decided to try out Panera Bread recently, partly because they were at the top of a recent "healthiest places to eat" list, and also because I had a gift card, and free is good.  There are 3 locations in the Dayton area: 6550 Miller Lane, 1203 Brown Street and 2751 Fairfield Commons Blvd. (Fairfield Mall, Beavercreek)  As in the past, I found the place mostly populated with students doing studying and eating.  Of course, that makes me wonder - how can you really enjoy the food if you're trying to memorize human anatomy for an exam while eating?  Maybe some folks are just naturally better multitaskers than I am.

  I've only eaten there a couple of times previously, mostly because the word "bread" in the title is not exactly something that gets me in the door, to be honest.  I think of bread as something you eat with hot dogs or peanut butter to stretch the budget.  Kind of like rice - a staple, but nothing fancy or exciting.  (probably why most Chinese places aren't called "Rice & ...")  For the most part, I don't think of bread as being the highlight of most meals, although if you have some fresh Rye bread, I might reconsider.

  Anyway, I noticed a couple of recent additions to the menu, and decided to try both of those by doing a "U Pick 2" combination.  That's where you can get a smaller amount of something, but you get more variety. (2 items, rather than 1 to try)  I have to admit, I'm really not a fan of the "signature upcharge", and still am not really sure how they calculate the costs.  Evidently some items are "signature", and others are not.  I don't think it is supposed to denote that some are fantastic, and others not - only that some are more expensive than others, really.  Perhaps they use more expensive ingredients, or take longer to prepare?

  I ended up ordering the new "Tomato Mozzarella and Basil Signature Salad", and also got the new "Cuban Chicken Panini on Focaccia".  Total cost came to just under $9.50 with tax.  The salad is described as a balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil with Asiago croutons, fresh mozzarella, field greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh basil & onion.  The Panini was described as natural chicken, smoked ham, swiss, chipotle mayo, sweet pickle chips and sun dried tomato ale mustard.

  How did it all stack up?  The panini tasted good, bread was crispy, but the meat was really thick in some places, and almost nonexistent in others.  I would have liked a little more uniformity in that regard.  I would give it about a 7 out of 10 score.  As for the salad, the mozzarella was rather tasteless, but I suppose that went along well with the salad itself, which was very flavorful.  Most of the greens were what I would call a "Mesclun mix", with somewhat pungent leaves.  Croutons were stiff but oil drenched - I prefer them dry and on top of the salad, rather than mixed in like this.  I would rate the salad probably an 8 out of 10.  The meal was filling, and certainly seemed healthier than what is offered at many restaurants.

phone: 937-890-1500 (Miller Lane location)

Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Death of a barbecue

  Recently, my barbecue grill got to the point where the grease shield rusted completely through.  It also seemed to be cooking too hot.  I found myself mulling over whether to keep it or not, and what to replace it with.  This was shortly after having a picnic with friends at a local state park, where I did some open pit charcoal grilling for the first time in some time.

  Faced with the prospect of spending $50+ on replacement parts, I decided it was at the end of its useful lifespan.  I decommissioned it - pulled out all the screws, bent the legs in, and got it to fit in our large trash can for the regular pickup.  While I like to try to get things to last, I didn't feel too bad about it this time around.  I had purchased it secondhand at a thrift store for only $10 perhaps 4 years ago.  I remember that I had to do some very thorough cleaning with a wire brush, and lots of scrubbing with detergent to get it to work adequately initially.

  I had primarily used charcoal until about 10 years ago, probably because my Dad cooked with it.  When someone mentioned grilling, I thought of charcoal.  However, charcoal can take a while to get going, and so when I saw the used gas grill at a thrift store a few years back, I grabbed it.  I figured that if I just wanted to grill a small amount of meat quickly, I could probably finish using the propane grill in the amount of time it would take for charcoal to even be ready to start.  This worked ok until lately, when the grill was running too hot, even on the lowest setting.  The meat was often dry, stringy, and with a very burnt taste.

  I enjoy the occasional grilling on a fair weather day even in the middle of winter.  Although I'm sure I can go a month or two without it, I'm also positive that I'll find myself missing the ability to barbecue at home sooner rather than later.

  That's why I have posted the current poll: I can't make up my mind on what to buy as a replacement!  There are a lot of places having clearance sales on grills right now.  For the most part, I am unimpressed by the strength of the metal sidewalls.  In one store, I pressed on the side of a $160 grill with my thumb, and saw a dent result!  Crazy - my $10 thrift store grill was more sturdy than that.

  Anyway, please vote for your personal preference in our poll.  Also, if you have a specific model you'd like to recommend, I'd appreciate an email on why you think it is the best grilling solution out there.  You could also submit your thoughts on the topic here as a followup to this post if you'd like.


Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Dayton Gems First Home Game Hara Arena

  I just went to the first home game (technically an exhibition) for the Dayton Gems hockey 2010-2011 season at Hara Arena. Had a great time! While the Gems lost to the Fort Wayne Komets in their first away game a couple of days ago, they really came back to beat them tonight, 6 to 1. There were plenty of fights, and if you enjoy watching folks get smashed really hard into glass about 2 feet in front of your face, you wouldn't have gone home disappointed. There were about 350-400 people in attendance. I would have thought more folks would have showed up, since it was only $5 for the night, or half the regular ticket price. Also, there was no $5 parking fee. I have to say, I think it is a big mistake for Hara to charge this fee, which will make the true cost of 1 person going to a game there $15. $7-$10 or so would be a lot more reasonable, and would get many more folks in the door regularly, buying food and other items. A parking fee just convinces a lot more folks to stay home.

  Here's a photo of the Gems mascot Blade. My wife thinks that they should have gone with something like a miner with a pickaxe and a bag of gems hanging from his belt. I agree - fuzzy tiger seems a bit out of place. Maybe it will grow on us. I have to admit I enjoyed the decent number of fights during the game. However, Fort Wayne's #23 went overboard. I've NEVER seen a player hold his stick up with both hands, then use it to come down hard on the back of the neck of an opposing player who was skating away from him. Although the refs missed it, I certainly wasn't the only one to see it, so I wasn't surprised to see several Dayton players do a group body slam of #23 against the wall as payback afterwards.

  I suppose I should mention something at least peripherally food related here on this entry, so here you go. At the Hara food service court, we got what they called a "Polish Sausage", a root beer, and nachos with cheese & salsa. Total cost was about $12. I really thought they made a mistake and gave me a hot dog - because it looked just like a hot dog. However, the lady assured me that the hot dogs were much smaller, so I guess I got the right item. It tasted good enough, but I think I would have preferred a mettwurst or bratwurst. It would be nice to have a few more choices. Root Beer was decent and nothing unexpected. Nachos were another thing altogether - a big disappointment. We thought they might be stale at first, but perhaps the chips were just a different texture than we expected. The real issue though was the cheese sauce - very bland, and reminded me of a huge can I bought once at a "big box store". Now that store may no longer have the watered down stuff I once got there, but my huge can stayed in the fridge for months, only used a couple of times. This stuff was even worse than that. Really, Hara - people are paying 4 bucks for this stuff, and you need to have a better nacho cheese sauce, with at least a little flavor to it. Not necessarily spiciness - just good cheese flavor. The salsa was a little too spicy for me, but what is new on that front. It was nice to see a few chunky peppers and onions in there, however.

Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Burger King (new breakfast menu)

  Some of you may be wondering, with a Burger King review, is a McDonald's review far behind?  Well, I'll review just about anything, especially if new menu items are introduced.  I tend to try to do more reviews of smaller places, family restaurants, and non chains, but let's face it - the majority of places out there to eat these days are chains.  People move around a lot these days, and because of that, they tend to be less loyal to any one mom & pop place.  However, national franchises do have name recognition, and many folks are more apt to stop where they already have some familiarity with the menu and prices.  I saw the end results of this when a Waffle House went in near an intersection where I drive through maybe half a dozen times a year in NE Ohio.  There were formerly a couple of small mom & pop independent restaurants that had been there for years, serving breakfast.  Within about a year of Waffle House opening, both of the independent restaurants nearby had closed.  It was a loss of variety, if nothing else, but the people had spoken with their wallets.

   I won't mention which restaurant I visited this time around, since there are probably 20+ in the Dayton area, and there is very little variation between them.  If you're like me, when you think of Burger King, you probably think of 2 things.  First, you may get a mouthwatering memory of their flame broiled burgers - which I'll say up front I prefer over most other places.  Second, you probably visualize those strange commercials featuring the Burger King.  The Burger King has actually been around in advertising for decades, but hasn't been featured as prominently as, say Wendy is at Wendy's, until fairly recently.  Most of the commercials show "the King" (not Elvis) in bed with some guy who is just waking up, and looks surprised to find a guy with a crown offering him breakfast in bed.  The commercials go on to say "Wake up with the King".  Now I don't know about you, but even if a strange guy was offering me fantastic fare in bed when I woke up, I'd probably be a little more than excited about the food.  I'll leave it up to you to decide whether the commercials are crass, creative, obnoxious, humorous, disturbing, or some combination.  You can't deny that they stick in your head afterward, though.

  On to the food.  We got a batch of coupons in the mail, many of which feature buy 1 get 1 free specials.  The focus is on the "New BK Breakfast", but there are coupons for Whoppers and chicken sandwiches, too.  I'll include them, since there is nothing about photocopies not being accepted. (they obviously want to get lots of these coupons out there, because they handed me two more packs of them when I used one)  We tried out the "Ultimate Breakfast Platter", and the "Breakfast Ciabatta Club".  Later on, I also tried out the Croissan'wich.

  Our initial experience wasn't so hot.  For example, the Ciabatta Club was rather cold, and had to be warmed up.  They forgot to give me any syrup for my pancakes.  Surprisingly, it also took them about 8 minutes to get my food ready, which was a bit longer than I expected, since it was supposed to be fast food.  I got the sense that the servers were still getting the kinks out, and actually heard someone in the back say "That took longer than I thought it would.", to another worker.

  Once they had taken care of the initial issues, I got to chow down.  Regarding the "ultimate" breakfast platter - it isn't.  The sausage patty was a low point - extremely fatty and bland.  I think it needed about 20% of the fat removed, and a bunch of sage added before it would compare to the McDonald's version, "Big Breakfast".  The entire thing seemed far too salty, including the biscuit.  Pancakes were decent, and the syrup had an enjoyable hint of vanilla.  Scrambled eggs were about average, though thankfully not too salty.  The highlight of the breakfast platter was definitely the hash browns, which were fantastically crunchy.  One of the biggest complaints I've had at Waffle House and some other places is that hash browns don't tend to be browned much at all, and can be soggy.  These cute little things were about an inch in diameter, and all but screamed "bite me!", as I sank my teeth in. :-)

  The Croissan'wich was average fare, but not as filling for the buck - especially the bacon version.  The one with a sausage patty seemed rather hefty by comparison.  The bacon Croissan'wich replaced a large sausage patty with 4 half slices of bacon.  I'd guess that they have about 8% the bulk of the sausage, so if you ate them both back to back, you'd probably come across thinking they forgot to put something on the bacon one.

  Of all the choices, the Ciabatta Club turned out to be my favorite, at least once it was warmed up.  It had a full, RIPE slice of tomato, scrambled egg, plus ham and bacon.  Great taste, and the bread itself had a sort of sourdough texture to it.  If you're apt to try just one thing from this breakfast menu, make it the BK Breakfast Ciabatta Club.

Copyright 2010 Dayton Dining

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Asian Buffet & Grill

  I had heard some good things about Asian Buffet from a relative, so we decided to check it out.  Asian Buffet is sort of a chain - if you consider a second location in the Cincinnati area to meet that definition.  At first glance, I thought the name seemed a bit generic.  I thought perhaps it should have a name that reflected a specific place in China or something, and then I realized they were going for something more general after all.  For example, they have sushi, teriyaki, and others.  

  I started out with the grill, which is pretty much what I've seen called "Mongolian Grill" other places.  I loaded up on shrimp and beef, adding noodles and a few other items that caught my fancy.  Unlike a few of the other Asian grills I've been to, they don't have the sauces out where you can select and add the amount you like.  Instead, you simply tell the cook which sauce to use, and how well done you want it cooked.  I went with a teriyaki sauce, and added a decent amount of diced garlic.  The shrimp was ok, the beef tastier, but overall the noodles were a disappointment.  I should probably have left them out, and used some vegetables.

  The decor of the place was festive and clean.  There were 6 serving stations.  Women's restroom needed a cleaning, but the men's was spotless. (perhaps just an issue of cleaning schedules)  There was no background music, which was a little disappointing.  The "Buckeye Room" was available for groups.

  Since this was a buffet, I'll just give some "short & sweet" highlights:

pepper shrimp - shell on, buttery, a bit of work if you don't like the crunch

peanut chicken - appropriately nutty, maybe a little too sticky

stuffed crab - excellent, went back for more several times

clams - salty goodness, ~1.5" in size, good enough for seconds, maybe thirds

steak - decent if a little fatty; no steak sauce anywhere. (but they got some for me when asked)
            was more like roast beef, very tender

kimchee - the sign said spicy, and it was (too hot for me, unfortunately)

general Tsao's chicken - again, sign said spicy, but it was the mildest I've ever had

frog legs - a tad tough, but I like the taste

plum chicken - normally I love plum sauce, but this sauce did not seem to have the spices balanced

octopus - a bit spicy, would have eaten more if a milder version was available

crab rangoon - tiny, perhaps a little too sweet with a sugar kick

steak pie - +++!  This was a bit unexpected, topped with sesame seed, it looked rather like
                 philly cheesesteak cut into sections

rice crispie squares - if you like these, this place has them, and you're set for dessert
                 (comfort food for me - my Mom used to make them often) 

  Overall, this place has a much better selection of foods than most of the Chinese buffets that I've visited.  Considering that it is only a few bucks more than many of the other places, with nearly twice the selection, this would be a good place to try if you haven't.  On the other hand, I wasn't quite as impressed with their grill as I have been with the Mongolian style grills at other places, though it might just have been the noodles, or the sauce I chose.  If you would like to save a few dollars, and crab legs aren't your thing, try going for lunch.  Off the top of my head, I'd give this place around an 8.5 out of 10.

Asian Buffet & Grill
address: 6999 Miller Lane (just south of I-70 & I-75 intersection)
telephone: 898-1888
Sun.-Thur.  11a - 10p
Fri. & Sat. 11a - 10:30p

copyright 2010
Dayton Dining

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rob's Restaurant & Catering Brookville

This week we tried out Rob's Restaurant in Brookville, which is a far NW Dayton suburb of about 5,300 people.  Just driving through, the town has lots of fast food places, but Rob's appears to be one of the few "slow food" family sit down places around.

  We arrived at a mid to late time for lunch.  There were plenty of cars parked out front, but the place was not crowded, and we were seated quickly.  Actually, I wanted a place back towards the rear instead of out in the middle, so we moved from our initial seating area.  After a few minutes, the waitress came to ask if we were ready to order, and we had to explain that we didn't have any menus to look at.  I think that was partly our fault, because originally there were menus at the first table, but I don't think they got moved when we moved.

  She came back every few minutes to see if we were ready to order, and by about the third or fourth time, we had figured out what we wanted.  She actually asked us if it was our first time here, so I got the feeling that they have a lot of regulars who barely need to look at the menu.  In fact, she said that many of their customers just get the buffet.  Although I usually enjoy a buffet, this time I wanted to try out one of their listed meals.  A couple of us ate from the buffet.  Background music seemed to be 50's and 60's oldies, which I've always enjoyed.

  My wife decided on the turkey hot shot, with sides of mashed potatoes and a broccoli and cauliflower salad.  I got the charbroiled chicken breast, with sides of onion rings and seasonal fruit.  We placed our orders at 1:53, and they were brought to the table at 2:09, which is about a 16 minute prep & delivery time.  The turkey hot shot was a very generous portion with lots of gravy on the open faced sandwich and the potatoes.  Evidently the broccoli & cauliflower salad was a little sweeter than expected, but still quite good.  My seasonal fruit bowl was brought out as an appetizer, so I ate that first.  It consisted primarily of several varieties of sweet melon, pineapple and large red grapes.  Everything there was fresh & flavorful.

  I then moved on to the onion rings.  I am happy to report that these were REAL onion rings - the kind you can often find at a county fair - not those horrid things that are put together from bits and pieces of onion - "frankenrings".  Each was made with a whole, entire ring of onion.  They were tasty, not quite too hot to eat at delivery, and just needed a bit of salt to make them perfect.

  Next was my main course, the charbroiled chicken breast.  While I could taste an underlying seasoning of good flavor, the meat itself was a little on the dry side, and took some sawing with a knife to get the pieces apart.  Portion size was a little less than I expected, but the meal as a whole did turn out to be filling.  I ended up asking for some barbecue sauce to help with the dryness.  I believe that for charbroiling, a thicker piece of chicken would help a lot with the dryness issue, as well as perhaps additional time marinating beforehand.

  As for the buffet, they said that everything available there is homemade.  I noticed that it had about the same variety as a Ponderosa, though there was a much better than usual representation of meat, such as slow cooked roast beef, fish and chicken.  A lot of the items on display would often be found at a family get together or something like a Thanksgiving meal - dressing, turkey, mashed potatoes, the works.  I'll admit that I sampled a bite of the roast beef, and found it to be very tender.  If you like desserts, they had an excellent variety of pie, cake, cookie bars and the like.

(note, scan above is the delivery & takeout menu)

  When speaking of service, the only real negative I can think of is that no one ever offered to refill my wife's tea when it was empty.  After about 5 minutes, I finally had to take the cup up front and ask for a refill.

  Overall, this place seems to have a nice "family home cooking" style buffet, better than average quality side items, and a relaxing atmosphere.  Unless you're ordering a salad or sandwich, expect to spend about $8-$10 per person.

Rob's Restaurant & Catering
address: 705 Arlington Rd.  Brookville, Ohio 45309
telephone: 937-833-3310

coupons:  (update: added printable coupon below, good through end of Sept.)
$1.50 off buffet Wednesday by following them on Twitter

2010 Entertainment Book has buy 1, get 1 for Rob's
  buy 1 meal (lunch or supper) and get 1 = or lesser value free

copyright 2010 by Dayton Dining