Monday, September 27, 2010

Logan's with Lula

While shopping at our nearby Walmart, LA and I decided we were a bit hungry.  I wanted spinach artichoke dip, and he wanted a burger.  Where to go?  We ended up at Logan's Roadhouse, a chain with a store in the Walmart shopping center.

We had been craving the Bloomin' Onion from Outback for some time now and thought that a steakhouse might actually have it.  We were correct.  Logan's offers Onion Petals.  We were very tempted but went with the spinach artichoke dip.  You may have read my previous post about the lackluster spinach artichoke dip that we had at Zada Jane's.  Logan's dip was the opposite.  It reminded me a bit of creamed spinach with artichokes in it.  I was highly impressed and ate most of it myself.  Possibly some of the best I've ever had.  I'll be going back for that.

I ordered the Logan's Deluxe Burger and LA ordered the Logan's Deluxe Chicken Sandwich, both from the Express Lunch menu.  Lunch in 15 minutes, it said.  Deluxe at Logan's means shredded cheese, bacon, beer-braised onions, sauteed mushrooms, and barbecue sauce.  We ordered both with no mushrooms or sauce.  Then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.

After 30 minutes, the waitress brought our food.  As soon as she set down the plates, I saw the barbecue sauce on them.  I pointed this out, and she briskly took the plates back to the kitchen.  After about 10 minutes, our food reappeared.  I got a whole new burger and LA got the same piece of chicken but with the sauce scraped off.  He found plenty of sauce on the underside of the chicken, and they'd even put it on the same saucy bun.  LA took a bite and made a terrible face.  Yes, he could still taste the barbecue sauce.  I told him I could get it for free since he wasn't going to it, but he refused.  He'd pay for it since someone had cooked it, even though they'd cooked it incorrectly.

I continued eating my burger, while LA continued making faces.  These faces must've caught the attention of the manager, since he came over and asked how everything was.  LA and I looked at each other, then I explained what had happened with our order.  He offered to get a new sandwich for LA, but LA refused, rationalizing the refusal by believing that the kitchen would spit in the new order.  I've worked in a fair number of kitchens, and I haven't seen anyone spit in the food.  But maybe I've only worked with people with integrity.  The manager then offered to remove the item from the bill.  Again LA refused.  So I had to sit there and watch a back-and-forth between the two until LA finally relented.  The manager even took the drinks off the tab.  Lest you think that we're horrible people, we did leave the server a 30% tip.  We knew it wasn't her fault.

If you dined out with me, you know that I do not tolerate poor service or incorrect food orders.  I've gotten free drinks for having plastic floating in my martini, free desserts for a table for 4 because of terrible service, and a free chicken sandwich because the kitchen was cutting corners and thought we wouldn't notice.  By the same token, I've given generous tips for good service, as well as notifying the managers of an exemplary dining experience.  I've waited tables and I've cooked.  I've seen it from both sides.  I also know that I am paying for food and service, and I expect to get my money's worth.  Even with the crazy experience at Logan's, LA and I both agreed that we would go back.  Especially for the spinach artichoke dip.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Cold Drink and a Long Wait

Now that we’re proud dog owners, LA and I are on the lookout for things to do with the puppies. The Yiasou Greek Festival took place over the weekend, so it seemed the perfect opportunity to experience a different culture and get the puppies out of the house.

Once we arrived at the Greek festival, we were informed that we couldn’t enter with our dogs, even though they were safely nestled inside tote bags. “It’s because of the Health Department.” I wanted to say, “You let all of these children in here, and they’re messier than my dog-in-a-tote-bag,” but I accepted their apologies without making a scene. The woman did offer to get us something from inside the festival, if we wanted.

The Greek festival may not be pet-friendly, but NoDa is. We thought we’d head over, check out some of the shops and galleries and maybe even see our friend, John, who owns Dogmatic Training. Faithful readers know that LA and I never end up where we plan to go. We missed NoDa and ended up in Plaza-Midwood. To be fair, LA thinks Plaza-Midwood is NoDa, so it was all good. Most of the stores were closed, so we opted to get a drink and some rest at Zada Jane’s. Their patio is pet-friendly and we were all hot and in need of refreshment.

We were told to seat ourselves on the patio, which we did. And then we waited. After what seemed like 10 minutes, we were brought menus and our drink orders were taken. A few more people and dogs arrived, including a giant Rottweiler named Tyson. He was quite interested in Cupcake, LA’s pooch, who looked remarkably like a tiny version of Tyson. The puppies were as impressed by the service as we were and promptly fell asleep in our laps.
LA and Cupcake

Cupcake in 2 years?
We settled on spinach artichoke dip to share, although The Trio did sound tempting. The trio was a scoop each of tomato hummus, black bean dip, and pimento cheese, served with whole wheat pita. Tyson’s owner did order that and I was very jealous when I saw it. I actually thought they’d lost our order, since the dip took so long to arrive. In all fairness, Tyson’s owner’s Trio did as well, and the kitchen had only to scoop the items on the platter. Considering that Zada Jane’s wasn’t busy, we were surprised that the food took so long. When the spinach artichoke dip arrived, it did not make up for the long wait. The overall taste was fine, but the consistency was far too runny. Both of us agreed that the same dip at Chili’s is a much better option. We didn’t have the money to order anything else from Zada Jane’s. The dinner entrees ranged from $15 for mushroom ravioli (which I don’t eat) to $27 for filet mignon. The salads were a less expensive option. Tyson’s owner ordered one and it looked quite tasty.

While the overall service was lacking, one server did bring around bowls and a water pitcher to all of the dogs on the patio. The bowls were bigger than our puppies, so we passed, but I did appreciate it. While I would return to Zada Jane’s for some sweet tea while I’m out with my dog on a hot day, I wouldn’t go back on my own. I’ve found plenty of other establishments that offer a similarly priced menu but with much better service.

Zada Jane’s is located at 1601 Central Ave. in Charlotte.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

In anticipation of the addition of two new family members, I thought I should do a little baking. Give the new girls a Welcome Home treat. So I cracked open the cookbook and baked something I’ve never baked before. Dog treats.

I’d run across a recipe for dog treats a couple years back in a dessert cookbook I’d picked up, but I never had a reason to try it out. From reading it, I knew that dog treats involved ingredients that I have in my pantry and that they didn’t appear to be too difficult to make. When LA first got a dog, we got some treats from Deborah’s Kitchen Kreations. Minimal ingredients and no preservatives. Plus, Mr. Piddlesworth seemed to enjoy them.

Once I knew I would be getting my own dog, I started looking at the dog treats on the market. The inexpensive ones had an ingredient list as long as my arm. The treats with a short, and reasonably healthy, ingredient list were prohibitively expensive. That’s when I decided to make my own.

Dog treat canisters made by LA
I ran across a dog treat cookbook that received rave reviews on Amazon. It even came with its own bone-shaped cutter! I bought the book and got to work. The cutter that came with the book was as big as my puppy would be, so I picked up some smaller cutters elsewhere. I also thought it might be a good opportunity to make treats in different shapes and sizes. To keep things interesting for the puppies.

The first batch I made was made with flour, margarine, chicken broth, and cornmeal. I went with a bone shape for those. They smelled delicious in the oven and tasted like a salt-free chicken cracker. The next batch had peanut butter, oats, whole wheat flour, water, and vegetable oil and were in the shape of gingerbread men. The dough smelled like cookies. We couldn’t wait to try them. Halfway through cooking, they began to smell like burnt peanut butter, which really is not all that appetizing. I bit into one once they were done. I couldn’t taste the peanut butter. They just tasted like dry. LA didn’t understand that description until he tried one, too.

Once we picked up the puppies, we wanted to try out the freshly-baked treats. The chicken treats were far too big, so I gave my puppy, Orson, a peanut butter man. She licked it. Then she ignored it. She had the same reaction to Deb’s chicken kitty treats and some puppy brownies (made with cream cheese and carob) that I got from another vendor at the farmers’ market. Her favorite treats are cheddar cheese and bananas. My dog treat baking days were over. And they only lasted for one day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Burning Down the Flea Market

Today the Webb Road Flea Market in Salisbury burned down.  I don't have any details, but it makes me very sad.  Since moving to Kannapolis, I've been to the flea market several times.  On my most recent trip, I very nearly bought a puppy (although I decided that paying my power bill might be a better idea).  The Webb Road Flea Market was also where I had my first deep-fried Twinkie.  I couldn't finish it, but it was better than I had imagined.  The cream filling gets oozy and the cake becomes one with the batter on the outside, making it softer and creamy.  Almost like pudding.  LA had a deep-fried Snickers.  He bit into it too soon after the deep-frying and burned his tongue on it.  The woman had warned him it would be hot. 

But those days are over.  So are the days of buying a goat, some bananas, a butter churn, and underpants all in the same location.  RIP, Webb Road Flea Market.