Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: November 2009


Food Review: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

On our way to see The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day at the AMC 30 at Easton Mall, Matt and I decided to have dinner at Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a franchise that has about 400 locations all over the nation. I figured that this would be another "burger joint," but with the taste of In-N-Out still not too far in my memory, it would be hard to upstage that distinct taste. However, this restaurant does make its own case and point for flavor and freshness, shown by its following in the Eastern US.

This particular store was busy today because of the start of the holiday shopping season, but we were served in a timely manner by a friendly host. The menu selection here was very reminiscent of the standard burger place, with two sizes of burgers (one or two patties of fresh, not frozen, beef) along with the option of having bacon added to the burger as well. In addition, topping choices were very similar to that of the Fatburger chain, with options ranging from ketchup, mustard, and mayo to BBQ sauce to A-1, grilled onions, and grilled mushrooms, all added at no additional charge. As for the fries, they were cut of a medium thickness from fresh potatoes trucked in from Idaho and cut in the store. Their fries included the option of being done "cajun style" in which the fries would be served with a spicy coating. I ordered the large bacon cheeseburger with mayo, lettuce, tomato, extra grilled onions, and grilled mushrooms and a small side of regular fries for my test.

Overall, the food was quite impressive for the price (It was about $9 for a bacon burger, small fries, and a drink). The burger was very well done and the fries were crisp and salted just enough to bring out the flavor. All the ingredients were fresh, the beef was juicy and flavorful, and the toppings and sauces blended well with each other with every bite, all the way down to the bits of bacon. However, as much as this burger really exemplified quality, it still missed an indescribable sense of distinction that a burger from In-N-Out possesses. Perhaps it was the lack of a unique spread or the recipe that made the burger buns, but nevertheless, Five Guys Burgers and Fries is definitely worth experimenting with.

And guess what! They're in CA. If anyone wants to give this burger place a shot, here are two locations in and near the OC and LA. I'm curious to know what you think.

Cerritos Promenade
11461 South Street
Cerritos, CA 90703

Southbay Pavillion (Carson Mall)
20700 Avalon Blvd
Carson, CA 90746

 Five Guys Burgers and Fries (Easton) on Urbanspoon


Weekend Adventure in Cleveland - Part 3

After the first game and a 5-4 victory against the Cleveland Heights Ice Hawks, I rode back to the hotel in 34 degree weather (it was actually a nice, clear night). The rink allowed us to leave our equipment overnight in the locker room so for the first time on an away game trip, I didn't have to pack everything up and drag it to my hotel room to dry. That was a nice treat.

The next morning, I went downstairs for the free breakfast, watched some TV, and made my way to a Play It Again Sports down the street in Mayfield Heights en route to the rink. When I got there, it was still closed (they don't open until noon on Sunday), so I decided to take a chance and call up my first cousin that lived one city over in South Euclid to see if she and the family were home. It turns out that she and the rest of the family were home and making lunch, so I rode an extra ten minutes to stop on by before heading back to the rink for the second game. It had been about 15 years since I had seen her and her husband; in fact, this would be the first time I would be meeting my second cousin, their son. I rolled up on the motorcycle and they were quite surprised. I definitely wasn't the little girl they remember from 1994. I hung around for an hour, took a couple pictures with them, and went to the rink. I'll be returning up there eventually for other events in Cleveland so it'll be nice to visit them again.

The game was pretty uneventful; it was an exhibition game against a newly formed team with a few good people but very little experience playing together. We won 8-0 (it was 5-0 by the end of the first period) and I posted my second shutout all-time for the Dayton Fangs. By the third period I was making snow cubes with the ice shavings I collected with my goal stick and the ref kept kicking them whenever face-offs made their way back to my side of the rink (total drag). After saying goodbye to my teammates I was off to my final treat, a dinner at the only Wing Stop in Ohio, located in Mentor-on-the-Lake, about 25 miles from Cleveland Heights.

So, what's the deal with Wing Stop? It's a nationwide chain based out of Texas that specializes in, you guessed it, wings. It's a very prolific chain out in CA, but for some strange reason, Columbus (or the rest of Ohio for that matter) doesn't find it marketable to have this store all over this state either. This will probably warrant its own blog post, but there is a distinct flavor and quality with Wing Stop that hasn't been matched by any other wing shop that I've tried in Columbus. It was well worth the trip, and I was very lucky to end up in one of the most awarded branches of this awesome franchise.

I was served by the owner, Sam, and we entered a very fun conversation about his store being the only Wing Stop in the state of Ohio. I told him my story about moving cross-country and missing a good meal from this place. While I was waiting for the wings to cook, I perused the store and amidst the standard Wing Stop-style decorations of early-20th century aviation nostalgia, there were plaques and photos of the many awards that Sam and his store have won over the years, including one photo with him and the company's spokesman, former NFL player Troy Aikman. It brought back nice memories to sit down with a basket of my garlic parmesan wings (bone-in, of course), a side of their unique tasting fries, and an Arnold Palmer while watching the Bengals outscoring the Raiders on a giant HDTV (I hate the Raiders, but that's a long story too). It was obvious why this Wing Stop was so heralded; customer service and wing quality was at its finest. When a handful of people come in on a Sunday evening to pick up their orders of 50+ wings for family get-togethers and parties, know Sam on a first-name basis, and get into conversations about their personal lives, you know there's a loyalty to the restaurant. Before I left, I filled up an Arnold Palmer for the road and ordered a to-go box of seven boneless wings for Matt in two of his favorite flavors: original hot and hickory smoked BBQ. Those were, by far, the best souvenir I brought back from North Ohio. I'm looking forward to returning there for wings when I come back to Cleveland.

It was a quick top off of the fuel and a 160-mile non-stop ride home. I made it to Columbus about a quarter to 9PM, unpacked the gear, and headed off to bed for another day of retail bliss. I was grateful for the vacation, though; I think the bike was happy for the exercise too.


Weekend Adventure in Cleveland - Part 2

After that wonderful lunch at Antonio's Restaurant in Parma, I ventured about 20 miles further into town to Perani's Hockey World in North Olmstead. Dubbed as "The Toy Store for the Hockey Player," it is one of 17 locations for this chain that has stores in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario (Canada), and Texas. This was going to be fun for me, especially because I had known about this store as a fledgling goalie over ten years ago who was looking for equipment online and eyeing a pair of McKenney leg pads (Perani's is the largest seller of McKenney goalie equipment.). Sure, Southern California spoiled me with the size and selection of stores such as Hockey Monkey and Hockey Giant. But, this particular store had something that those two couldn't accomplish because of their newness, business demands, and size - bringing back a sense of friendliness and nostalgia.

If you're looking for throwback hockey equipment, this store is where you'd want to be. This Cleveland location is quite small, about a quarter of the size of Hockey Giant's old Anaheim store, but it's chock full of gear from at least a decade ago, if not older. I was there toward closing time, so I had a chat with one of the guys who was showing me their selection of new goalie pads (the popular brands here are McKenney, Vaughn, and RBK). Later in the conversation, he took a ladder and brought down a dusty pair of brand new Koho pads from the early 90s (think Felix Potvin's first gen pair when he was playing for the Leafs) and another pair of brand new pro stock Franklin Pads that were made for Sami Jo Small, goaltender of Team Canada's Women's Olympic team. The latter was very tempting to buy - they were on closeout for $150 negotiable - but I restrained myself and continued to browse and venture into the player's section where they stocked one piece and two piece pro stock sticks from Innovative, Franklin, TPS (the old rubber models from ten years ago), replacement blades from long-retired NHL-ers, and aluminum shafts for shimmy hockey.

I was a good girl and only got out of there with an new pair of skate blade soakers and a bumper sticker. From what the employees tell me, the flagship store in Flint, MI is up to the ceiling in old hockey gear. That would be a fun place to visit someday.

When I think about my own set of goalie gear, I've retained several pieces over the years (most specifically my chest armor and my pants) because of my refusal to transition over to the more bulky equipment that restricts movement and, despite all the new bells and whistles, hasn't given me an excuse to spend several hundred dollars on new stuff. Sometimes there's no school like the old school, and when it's comfortable, it stays.

Speaking of hockey, it was off to my hotel room in Mayfield Heights for a quick rest and then to the Cleveland Heights Community Center for the first game of my two-game hockey weekend. This facility is quite nice, is funded by the city, and has two rinks running during the winter months, one Olympic-sized and one NHL-sized. The latter becomes a gym half the year which was obvious when I saw the basketball hoops retracted into the ceiling. Here's a shot of the Olympic rink where we played our first game.

This first team, the Cleveland Heights Ice Hawks, was a much hated rival of the Dayton Fangs. It took me half a period to realize this after three penalties and a near scrum in front of the opposing team's net. They even had a huge defenseman that I nicknamed "Sasquatch" because of her dirty play. We did persevere and won the game 5-4 in regulation with a nice shot from my defenseman from the point that found a corner of the net. That win put my record to 2-0 all-time for Dayton. Now to go for a road trip sweep tomorrow against a new foe in an exhibition game.


Weekend Adventure in Cleveland - Part 1

I spent this weekend in Cleveland for a couple hockey games with the Dayton Fangs, a team based out of Dayton (about 1.5 hrs. from Columbus) that adopted me in October after their goalie went down with a knee injury and opted for season-ending surgery. These away games marked the second and third that I've played in net for them, and I've enjoyed their team's spunk, drive, and personality. I was fortunate to get this weekend off after being denied the request from work the first time around and used the opportunity to give Eleanor (my Yamaha FJR1300 for the new readers) some exercise, a new area to explore, and to give my heated Gerbing gloves to the test. So, before the first game, I went for some food and sightseeing.

I left Columbus a bit hungry, so I made my way to Parma and Antonio's Restaurant. If you're a Drew Carey fan, you've probably heard him plug this restaurant quite a number of times on many of the shows that he's been on. This is the famous restaurant that makes the pizzas that he has shipped across the country for his show's crew and other special events. I was very curious to taste why he has remained so loyal to this eatery in his hometown.

The interior of the restaurant was dimly lit so it had a very romantic (and very stereotypically Italian) appearance to it. I ordered a lunch serving of shrimp fettuccine alfredo and a small, personal pizza (half mushrooms only, half pepperoni only) to try. The pasta dish came with a side of salad and a section freshly baked bread. The salad was very delicious with their homemade croutons; every part of the salad all the way down to the olives tasted as if they were handpicked. The bread was so soft and flavorful that butter was a complete afterthought. When the pasta came, I was immediately surprised by the flavorful smell of the cream and cheese from the alfredo sauce. The pasta itself was perfectly cooked al dente, and the shrimp was plump and tender. This fettuccine has definitely made it up there in my list of favorites, joining the ranks of one of my other favorite restaurants, Pasta Roma in Los Angeles.

When I was halfway through the alfredo, my server brought in the pizza. This pizza was very meticulously made. The mozzarella cheese was so fresh that it melted in the gooey, stringy fashion that you can't get with Papa John's (or any chain for that matter). The pepperoni and mushrooms were very fresh and complemented the cheese very well, and the crust had a light texture and taste that just made every bite enjoyable. This would definitely be a pizza I wouldn't hesitate to order for takeout.

Now I understand why Drew Carey will dish the dough to get a bunch of these pies shipped to LA. This experiment was well worth it and a lot of food for the price. If you're ever headed up to the Parma area and want some Italian, go to Antonio's - a definite stand-out in Cleveland.


Some odds and ends in C-bus

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After a month of actually having a job again, I've taken some liberties to reward myself and de-stress a little with small things such as a trip to our new favorite sushi place, a stop at the Polaris Fashion Place for some window shopping, and a detour from the monotony of robotic retail work. Here were a few things that were going through my mind lately.

Here's a view from the upper dining area the inside of Edamame Sushi and Grill in North Columbus. I go here to get my sushi fix (It's all about the Buckeye roll), sip a well-mixed Arnold Palmer, and enjoy the scenery. It's probably the only local restaurant by far that has gotten me hooked. It's unlike any other restaurant I've visited and they do provide awesome service. I've had a hankering to try out Columbus Fish Market and thanks to a gift card from Matt's family, it looks like that's going to happen pretty soon. I hear that place is top online review may be possible.

I got a haircut and shopped a little at the Polaris Mall the day before my birthday. Window shopping is fun, especially when the newest styles of the season are just being put out on display. Currently, it appears the The Gap is boasting their "best premium jeans" for $54.50. With a price like that, I can see how you wouldn't be able to afford anything else to wear. As demonstrated by the mannequin in the middle, it can also cost you an arm as well.

Currently, one of my duties at my job at Meijer is auditing shelf tag labels to make sure prices on the tags are identical to the main store system's database. This means having to go through the entire store and painstakingly scan anywhere between 3000-4000 items every day (and you wonder why I'm looking for another job). I've traversed to the grocery section of my particular store and came across this while scanning foods in the "Ethnic Foods" section.
So I'm thinking, "That sounds a little controversial." I pull this particular candy bar out and realize that it's made by Nestle and is marketed in the UK. In fact, this candy bar has been around for a long time! Here's the Wikipedia page for it: I actually found it to be quite humorous, but there's always that one sensitive person that would cry over the sight of the front of the label.

Sorry, girl, not for you. Actually I bought one of these and took it home for me and Matt to try. It's a standard chocolate bar, like a Hershey's but creamier.

Lastly, I realized after working in retail that Christmas is the next major holiday after Halloween. Thanksgiving is a turkey and stuffing sale and that's about it. At least that's what the motorcycle shop said. Here's Iron Pony's take on Santa's new ride. Apparently he's traded his sleigh for a camo 4x4 and laid off the reindeer.

The good news is that he's wearing a helmet and is powered by Yamaha. That's my kind of Santa.