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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
http://www.daytondining.com/


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
www.DaytonDining.com