Quick Review: Chick-fil-A Breakfast

I have other restaurants in the queue to review, but after posting a very brief write-up of breakfast at Bojangles last night, I woke up this morning thinking, “I mentioned that I would normally pick Chick-fil-A over Bojangles, so why not grab some chicken biscuits on the way to work?” So I did, and now I’m going to write about them.

I really like Chick-fil-A’s food, and I continue to be impressed by their employees’ friendly attitude. I have no first-hand knowledge of their customer service training program, but it works. Something simple like having every employee respond to “thank you” with “my pleasure” makes an impression on me as a customer. I’ve been impressed on many occasions by the helpfulness of the Chick-fil-A employees, especially when we came in when our son was still using a high chair. A teenager rushing to pick up and carry a high chair to your table is something you just don’t see anywhere else – especially at a fast food restaurant.

So I skipped the interstate and drove down Kingston Pike today to hit the Chick-fil-A in Bearden. Paying and picking up my food was a little odd since I chose the left-hand drive-thru lane, which meant I had to lean over the passenger seat to interact with the employee, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I ordered a Spicy Chicken Biscuit and the regular Chicken Biscuit, along with a large Diet Coke with light ice.

cfa-spicyI ate the Spicy Chicken Biscuit first, because I recalled how surprisingly hot it was the last time I had one. Unfortunately, the one I received today was only moderately spicy. Not sure what went wrong, as, thinking back to my days as a teenager making biscuits at KFC, I’m assuming the breading on these is a mix that’s mass-produced in a central location. I wonder if this particular spicy chicken biscuit had sat under a heat lamp for a while, as both the biscuit and the chicken were a little dry, and more than a little disappointing. That’s part of the trouble with fast food – they have to prepare in bulk in advance, and the less popular stuff doesn’t cycle through as often.

cfa-chickenThe regular Chicken Biscuit was much better. Both the biscuit and chicken were much more moist, and the biscuit was more flaky and satisfying. I would imagine Chick-fil-A sells a multiple of regular to spicy, so chances are my regular biscuit was much more recently prepared than the spicy. Where the spicy biscuit was disappointing, the regular one was a solid example of why I almost never refuse to eat at Chick-fil-A if someone else suggests it. If I had it to do over again, I’d definitely go with two of regular chicken biscuits. Actually, having entered both of these into MyFitnessPal on my iPhone today,  wouldn’t order two, as they’re 440 calories each, and one was plenty.

The fact that Chick-fil-A posts the calorie count for each item on the menu, not in some card you have to ask for, but right there in bold bright colors on the menu, is something I really like. I can’t speak to the healthiness of Chick-Fil-A’s food in general, but they make it impossible to order an outrageously huge meal without knowing what you’re getting calorie-wise.

I don’t eat at fast food places very often, certainly not on a weekly basis although probably more often than monthly, but when I do, I’m happy to do so at Chick-Fil-A – especially for lunch or dinner, when I get their awesome chicken nuggets (400 calories) that are so good, I don’t even need the honey mustard sauce (40 calories).

This is post 26 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge

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Quick Review: Bojangles

We got moving early enough Sunday morning that we had time to stop for breakfast on the way to church instead of grabbing a granola bar on the way out of our house. We gave our son a choice – waffles at Waffle House, or chicken & biscuits at Bojangles. He picked Bojangles. I’m not a huge fan of fast food, and frankly I’d choose Chick-Fil-A over Bojangles any day of the week … except I don’t have that choice on Sunday.

For our son, we ordered an Egg & Cheese Biscuit combo with “Bo Rounds” and milk to drink. He ate almost all of the biscuit and most of the potato cakes.

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My wife ordered the Cajun Filet Biscuit combo with Bo Rounds. Bojangles biscuits are decent. Not great, but not bad either. The cajun-seasoned chicken filet is tasty. The Bo Rounds are good, although they’re a bit too thick in my opinion.

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I ordered a Cajun Filet Biscuit and a Gravy Biscuit. I had high hopes for the biscuits and gravy, but those hopes were mostly dashed. The biscuit was decent, but the gravy was bland.

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So the food was bland to decent, but some of it was tasty. I don’t make a habit of eating fast food, but it worked out mostly OK that morning. Our son enjoyed getting to pick the place and we got an extra breakfast out during the weekend. I can’t say we’ll be returning to Bojangles anytime soon, but if we’re in the mood for chicken and biscuits again, we’ll give Bojangles another try.

This is post 25 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge

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Quick Review: It’s All So Yummy Cafe

It’s All So Yummy Cafe is a soup, sandwich, and ice cream shop in West Knoxville on S. Peters Rd. We had dinner there Friday night and it was really good. This place has changed owners at least once or twice over the last several years, but the formula and quality has remained the same. Sandwiches, soups, Hilton Head ice cream, and free iced tea with each meal.

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My wife and son split first one, then a second Fried Bologna sandwich, along with the accompanying potato chips. They’d typically share just a single sandwich, but when he finds something he really likes, he just keeps eating, so she had to order a second one. I had a couple bites of the first sandwich and I can confirm it was very good – certainly worth ordering a second. The bologna was thick cut, and the bread was buttered, thick, and toasted – almost as thick as you’d expect from Texas Toast.

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I knew what I wanted to order as soon as I scanned the menu. The Big Cheese is made with two grilled cheese sandwiches with meat of your choice in between. I had a choice between ham, turkey, or bacon. I went with bacon, of course. While this sandwich was simple, it was delightfully simply and tasty- yummy, in fact. My only suggestion for improving it would be to double the amount of bacon to more closely match the double grilled cheese on either side. I’ll order this again, and next time I hope they have some chili to go with it.

IASY_Ice_CreamAfter we finished our sandwiches, we ordered ice cream. Our son had a kiddie scoop of Oreo ice cream. To say he loved it would be an understatement. My wife had a two scoop sundae with Oreo and Chocolate Brownie with Hot Fudge. She commented that the oreo ice cream was much better than the chocolate brownie, but was otherwise pleased with the combination.

I should have ordered a two school sundae myself, but as I was scanning the ice cream menu, I noticed something else that I hadn’t had in many years – a banana split.

IASY-Banana_SplitI selected three different ice creams for my banana split – Butter Pecan, my favorite flavor, Butterfinger Crunch, and Krispy Kreme. I’m glad I decided to observe the young man making it, because I was able to catch him before he put anything on it I wouldn’t like – namely hot fudge sauce or really anything other than a banana and whipped cream. My wife informed me that the entire purpose of getting a banana split is to get three toppings in addition to three flavors of ice cream, but I didn’t care – I ordered what I wanted. The ice cream was great, and the combination of the three flavors with the banana and whipped cream was, you guessed it, yummy. I will say it was far too much ice cream, so I won’t be ordering it again unless my wife wants to split one.

IASY-BoyDinner and dessert at It’s All So Yummy was fun. We’ll be returning soon, if for no other reason, than to see this look on my boy’s face again.

This is post 23 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge

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Quick Review: Universal Joint

I made a day trip to Chattanooga with some coworkers to meet with some colleagues from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. We wrapped up our meeting and headed to lunch with our colleagues at a place of their choosing – Universal Joint Bar & Restaurant. The short version of this review is that I’m glad we at there, and the next time I’m in Chattanooga with my family, we’ll give it another shot.

UJ-NachosI knew with this being just lunch, everybody would be ordering his or her own meal, and I would only have the opportunity to speak to what I personally ate. So I did something that wasn’t really necessary – I ordered an appetizer to share with the group. I asked our server which appetizer she would recommend, and she said the BBQ Brisket Nachos were very good, so I ordered them. While several of my colleagues passed on trying them, those of us who did really enjoyed them. The brisket was tender and the sauce on them was tasty. If I had it to do over again, given the context of eating a shared appetizer with a bunch of folks who don’t usually eat together, I might go for something easier like the egg rolls or wings, but I’m glad I ordered these all the same.

UJ-SteinbeckI asked my UTC colleagues what they would recommend for my meal, and they said both the Chicken Sandwich and Steinbeck burger were great. I couldn’t pass up a burger with pimento cheese on it, so I ordered the Steinbeck. Simply put, this was one of the most interesting and tasteful burgers I’ve had in a long time. My only issue with the burger is that I asked for it to be cooked medium, and it was closer to well done. Still, it was the best overcooked burger I’ve had because of the pimento cheese and bacon. The tater tots were amazing. Usually when a restaurant serves tater tots, you can tell they’re some variant of a grocery store brand – not too good, not too bad. I couldn’t claim these were house-made, but they were the best tater tots I’ve ever had – crisp and a little crunchy.

I’m looking forward to my next visit to Chattanooga, and if you’re there, you should give Universal Joint a shot.

This is post 22 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge

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Quick Review: Sweet P’s BBQ Revisit

A quick post to document a revisit to one of our favorite restaurants and the best barbecue joint in Knoxville – Sweet P’s. If you’d like a longer write-up, you can check out my original review.

SP-bbqWe ordered our usual on this visit. A pound of brisket, and a mixture of sides, including potato salad, green beans, and a double order of mac & cheese. We also added an order of zucchini pickles. The brisket was, as usual, amazing. The mac & cheese was very good, as were the green beans. I didn’t have any of the potato salad, because why would I if there is mac & cheese on the table? The new star of this meal were the zucchini pickles, and they were a such a hit that my wife and barely managed to snag a few for ourselves before our son finished them off.

SP-CrispinI noticed that Sweet P’s had Crispin hard cider on the menu, so in addition to getting a fountain drink, I bought a bottle of cider. This cider was good, although of the many varieties of Crispin I’ve tried, their “Original” is my least favorite. It’s not bad – it just isn’t awesome. And since it isn’t awesome, I certainly won’t be paying $4.75 per bottle for it in the future.

Nothing new or special about this visit. Just more great barbecue.  If you haven’t tried Sweet P’s yet, you really need to – you won’t find better barbecue in Knoxville.

This is post 20 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge

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Quick Review: Lotus Garden

This review will be short because I don’t have much to say that’s positive. We felt like Chinese for dinner the other night but didn’t want to drive all the way out to Turkey Creek. So we went to Lotus Garden. I’ve never cared for it but my wife has better luck there when I’m out of town. This night we settled for close and OK over far away but good. I wish we hadn’t.

We started off with an order of Gyōza. We like pot stickers and they’re usually hard to screw up. Unfortunately, these sucked.

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My wife and son shared the Hibachi Chicken. It was good but unlike their other dishes, not a large enough portion for my wife and son to share and feel satisfied.

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I ordered the General Tsao’s Chicken. I asked for it to be “extra spicy” but it had about as much heat as I would expect from sweet & sour chicken.

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A disappointing meal overall.

I can’t recommend Lotus Garden.

This is post 19 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge

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Quick Review: Snappy Tomato Pizza – Farragut

On a rainy Sunday evening this past week we decided to give one of our old regular spots that we hadn’t eaten at in a while another shot – Snappy Tomato Pizza in Farragut. We got into the habit of eating there on at least a weekly basis earlier this year, until I decided to cut out as many carbs as possible – something hard to do for a guy who loves pizza.

Snappy Tomato is a chain, and I typically avoid chains, especially as regular dinner spots. We stumbled across Snappy Tomato by mistake, looking for a local pizza joint that ended up being closed for good. We decided to give it a shot and liked it, so we came back a second time, then a third and more. We liked the pizza, and the service, from both the staff and the owner, was very friendly. When I started avoiding carbs, I avoided all pizza places for a while, and while I fell off the carbs wagon a while back, we just hadn’t made it all the way out past Campbell Station Road for dinner again until this week.

st-pizzaSunday night we tried to order our usual, a large pizza with Spicy Pepperoni and Provolone Cheese (in addition to mozzarella), but they were out of spicy pepperoni, so we settled for regular. The pizza was good, and my wife and I discussed how consistently good it is. Maybe not amazing, and I don’t know that I’d describe it as the best pizza in Knoxville. But I believe one of the benefits of eating at a franchise restaurant is that, if the franchisee follows the established process, using the proper ingredients, what you should get every time is a consistent product. That’s what I like best about Snappy Tomato pizza – it is always what I expect it to be. In a way, that’s better than a restaurant that produces awesome pizza on one visit, but mediocre pizza on the next.

st-rigatoniFor our son, we ordered the Baked Rigatoni, along with a side of ham because he likes to eat it separately. What you may be able to tell from these pictures is that we were hungry when we got our food, and only after we’d started to eat did I recall I needed to take pictures for a possible review. I shared some of the pasta and it, like the pizza, was unsurprisingly good. The garlic bread was extremely good as well. Our son finished all of the ham, about a quarter of this adult-sized order of rigatoni, as well as a couple of pieces of the dessert pizza.

st-cinnabreadSpeaking of dessert, we ordered the Cinnabread. I’ll readily admit this is something I should not be eating, and we don’t order it every visit. But like the pizza and pasta, it is consistently good. And Sunday night it was even better because it was free. The owner stopped by our table and asked why we hadn’t ordered our usual. I mentioned they had been out of spicy pepperoni and he apologized. When I stepped up to the register to order the cinnabread, he waved my card away and said it was on the house since they couldn’t make our favorite pizza. That was, of course, completely unnecessary and completely awesome.

If you’re in Farragut, you should give Snappy Tomato Pizza a try.

This is post 18 in the #NaBloWriMo #vDM30in30 30 Day Blog Challenge

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