Monday, January 14, 2013

ALR - Suspended

At this moment, ALR will be suspended until more authors are found to write reviews. My workload has return to normal levels which allows me only to write a report every 4-6 weeks. Let me know if you are interested to write for the blog...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Amaya’s Taco Village @ I-35 and 290

Located close to the intersection of I-35 and 290, Amaya’s Taco Village offers Tex-Mex food. The place had some Mexican decoration but it misses to get a full environment. This makes the place very common and without flavor.

With respect to the food, ALR ordered a taco plate and the special of the day. The taco plate consisted of three beef tacos with beans and rice. The special of the day was grilled chicken with queso sauce with beans and rice. The tacos were the classic Tex-Mex taco with “hard” shells which in the case of Amaya’s, the shells are softer. The flavor of both options was Ok, it was just the standard Tex-Mex flavors that anyone should expect without launching them to a great level.
The cost of the special kept it below $7 plus tip making the overall value just Ok. Service was defective since the checks were mixed up with a different table and water was not refilled promptly during the time we were there.
Amaya’s is definitively a below average place that carries similar issues from other small Tex-Mex places that struggle to bring a better experience to the customer.

Amaya's Taco Village on Urbanspoon

Link to Amaya's Taco Village website

Friday, October 12, 2012

Perry’s Steakhouse & Grill @ Downtown

ALR went upscale this time visiting Perry’s Steakhouse for a special occasion on the group. We took advantage of the Friday lunch pork chop special. This was a great opportunity to measure up a fine restaurant with the day to day places that ALR normally visits.

It is needless to say that we were impressed and happily satisfied. We ordered a salad to go with the pork chop special. The iceberg wedge salad with applewood-smoked bacon was the perfect way to start the lunch. The salad offered a fresh introduction with delicious flavors of smoked bacon. Then, the pork chop arrived and we were all impressed. After a quick review of the three cuts being offered we got our plates served. The pork chop comes with whipped potatoes and homemade applesauce. Each of the pork chop flavors offers a unique experience that provides unique and wonderful flavors. This granted a super taste rating.
The place is nicely decorated creating a great atmosphere to have a relaxed, unique and elegant lunch. Regarding the service it was definitively above average always attentive to our needs and making sure nothing was missing. The overall value of the food, cost, and experience made it Right On. This is definitively a deviation from ALR’s normal range were we look for low cost options since we paid $20 per person. A real bargain if you consider the amount and quality of the food.

Perry's Steakhouse & Grille on Urbanspoon

Link to Perry's Steakhouse and Grill website

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cajun Pizza Place at San Felipe Blvd.

ALR visited this small place at San Felipe Boulevard close to McNeill and 183. This is a small joint located on the San Felipe Market shopping plaza. The name is intriguing when you imagine a combination of Cajun flavors and Italian pizza.

In this occasion, I ordered half Muffuletta with Chips. The Muffuletta was served on sesame bread loaded with salami, ham, mozzarella cheese and generous amount of green olives. It was my first time trying this type of sandwich and it was great. The combination of warm salami and olives dominated the flavor making it a great option for a rainy lunch.
The service was friendly and always looking to ensure everything was right. The place is a common locale that you may find on any shopping plaza without any special decoration. However, it had a lot of space and tables where comfortably spaced.
Lunch cost was less than $7 plus tip which it made it Ok. Taste was good and service was above. This gave them a total TAVS of 3.0 making Cajun Pizza Place a good outing for lunch during the week.

Cajun Pizza Place on Urbanspoon

Link to Cajun Pizza Place website

Monday, September 24, 2012

French Quarter Grille @ I-35 and Parmer

ALR decided to go for some New Orleans style food. At the Wal-Mart plaza at I-35 and Parmer, French Quarter Grille has his Austin location. We arrived around 11:45am and we were immediately seated. The place is pleasantly decorated and the overall environment was great. Our server immediately gave us the menu, took our drink order and brought some bread with a very tasty butter.
I decided to order the Shrimp Poboy Sandwich with the complete intention to compare them against other similar restaurants. Another friend ordered the Shrimp Bowl of Étouffée which was promised to be larger than the bread basket and indeed it was. Finally, another one ordered Catfish Étouffée which was a blackened catfish with Étouffée on top, served with vegetables and mashed potatoes.
As I said before, the butter that came with the bread was very tasty since it had herbs and garlic mixed on a creamy butter that melted on the bread. We finished the three pieces of soft small baguettes and after asking for another basket we got three more pieces. The food arrived on large plates and a very nice and good looking presentation.
My Poboy sandwich was great with soft bread, full of fried shrimp and full of flavor. The fries were incredible and they complemented perfectly the sandwich. The bowl of Étouffée as stated above was really a large bowl which even though it needed a little more spiced and spicy flavor, it was very good. Finally, the catfish plate was rated highly since the combination of fish, shrimp, vegetables, and mashed potatoes provided a balance lunch with a great taste.
Overall, we considered that for the amount of food, quantity and quality, the lunch was Right On. It is true that the lunch was in my case $11.85 with tax as well as the Bowl of Étouffée. The Catfish Étouffée was three dollars more but it was rated also Right On.
The place has a pleasant decoration with nice wall décor and New Orleans details. Finally, the service was definitively above average since we never ran out of our drinks and more than one server was ready to serve us at any time. In summary, we were very pleased with French Quarter Grille. It is definitively worth the extra cost since the lunch and place provided a great lunch today.

French Quarter Grille on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stiles Switch @ Lamar

This was not the first time that ALR visited Stiles. Unfortunately for them, this is the day we decided to go and review it. I had a previous bad experience when they ran out of brisket while we were on the line. Could you imagine a BBQ place without brisket before noon? Well, this time they had brisket but it was very dry.
We arrived around 11:30am to find a small line building up and we were glad to see that we really beat the crowd. 15 minutes later, the line had expanded as long as it can go inside the place and some people were leaving. We also noticed that they have a new menu structure which included plates of meat with sides. The cost is still quite high for any of the plates since a one meat plate with two sides is $9.99 and a two meat plate is $12.99.
Two of the ALR friends went for the two meat plate of brisket and pork ribs. They choose potato salad and corn casserole. Once they added at drink the cost of the lunch was more than $15. I decided to go with a half-pound of brisket and a serving of potato salad. I choose to have water since the soda selection was very limited. My lunch was $9.02 with tax.
By far the high of the lunch were the pork ribs, they were described as one of the best ribs ever from both expert ALR friends. For me unfortunately, I had 0.472 pounds of horrible dry brisket that was hard to swallow. The potato salad was Ok since didn’t had a definitively flavor. I guess the water was good.
Overall, the taste from a plain brisket to a great pork rib gives an overall score of good. The value seems quite expensive considering the quality of the food. I’m giving it an Oh, Well score. The place has some Groovy decoration and has worked to bring a definitive Austinite air. Finally, the service is just Fair since you order from the cashier and get your food there.

Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew on Urbanspoon

Link to Stiles Switch web site

Friday, September 14, 2012

QLR: Pei Wei @ N IH-35 and Parmer Ln

Quick Lunch Review for Pei Wei at TechRidge North Austin location. This location is on the same plaza with Chick-Fil-A, Sears, and Target.
What did I order? Dinner Select Mandarin Kung Pao Chicken, brown rice with a spring roll. For less than $7.00, you get a good size lunch full of flavor. I especially liked the combination of vegetables with the nice add-on of peanuts.

  • Good quality food with full flavor and taste
  • A great option of less than $7 which includes white or brown rice, six different options for an entrée, and spring roll, Asian slaw or cup of soup
  • Some other perks are cup to go for your drink, lemon and oranges for water, and food delivered to your table.

  • Sometimes there are long lines at lunch peak hours, try to get earlier
  • Lunch may become expensive if you go out of the Dinner Selects. You can easily get to a $10 lunch with a different option.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Indian Spicy Kitchen @ I-35 and Parmer

Today, we had to adventure to a different type of food. After a heavy preference of Tex-Mex and Hamburger places, ALR went for Indian food. Indian Spicy Kitchen offers an all you can eat buffet for $9.99.

At the time we arrived, the restaurant was almost empty. However, by the time we left a little past 12:30pm the place was busy. We were sited on a nice table decorated with a flower and covered with a white linen cover. We ordered water and got ready to eat.
The buffet bar included salad/fruit at the beginning, followed by several entrees and sides, and completed with three different desserts. All trays were well served and the food was at the right temperature.
I’m not an expert on the names or ingredients of most of the dishes that tried. However, from the cucumber salad which has a very spicy flavor, to the curry on the different chicken and goat presentations, to the diversity of sides and veggies and closing with the dessert options, everything was great. Some of my favorites were the spinach, chicken peas, and chicken curry and masala. I found a lot of flavor on all of them as well as distinctive flavors. The bread arrived warm and it was a delicious complement to our food. At the end, the rice pudding was my favorite. Overall the flavor was great and it is really above the average.

The overall flavor for an all you can eat buffet which includes a series of dishes that are of a special cuisine makes it right on. However, the service is just fair and the place is very common. We had a great lunch and we’ll probably go back again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Going Back: La Palapa @ US E Hwy 290

After our last low TAVS rating visit, it was a little difficult to get back. However, here we were ALR was once again sitting at La Palapa. This was a little different since now were sited on the main restaurant area rather than the cantina.

The food was of the same quality, flavor and quantity which mean a middle of the table rating good. We had a pleasant lunch and all the food came promptly. If you had an opportunity to read last review, the main problem was the service at the end when we were waiting for our check. Unfortunately, this time we ran into something similar. At the end, we had to go to the cashier to pay in order to make things happened. It took several minutes for the check to be re-created since it was somehow no on the system.
In summary, for the second time on a row, La Palapa has been deficient with the check process. Their food is an average Tex-Mex food selection and their value is Ok. For these reasons, their TAVS has not change holding at 2.8.

La Palapa on Urbanspoon

Link to La Palapa web site

Monday, September 3, 2012

Going Back: Hat Creek @ Burnet Ln

It was not the plan to eat at Hat Creek last week. The idea was to have some chicken and waffles which were craved by one of us. It was a desperate drive to get to Lucky J’s that was inspired during the weekend after he saw one of those TV shows. We got there a little past noon to discover that even though the OPEN sign was lit. The place was closed. We twitted Lucky J’s during the week and apparently they were out for a short period of time that coincided with us getting there. After such a disappointment, we return back via Burner and we saw the big hat smiling at us. Our chicken waffle friend had never eaten on Hat Creek so it was the perfect opportunity to go back.

We ordered a combination of small and big hat combos. I added to mine their jalapeno and grilled onions which I believe is an incredible feature on their menu. As previously, the hamburger and fries were delicious. They were as we remembered and their value is fantastic.
However, this time there was a small but noticeable change on the service which at the end affected the final TAVS. Last time, we have our order delivered to our table. We thought it was a nice gesture that placed Hat Creek above the rest. Unfortunately, this time we just got called and we had to pick up our tray. Well, this time Hat Creek was just fair with the service.

I tried to see if they could recover from this and had an opportunity to go beyond. So, I went to ask for a scoop of strawberry ice cream. They carry Blue Bell ice cream for the shakes so they had it. I didn’t want a whole shake even on their small size. Therefore, a scoop was the perfect size. I know it was not on their menu so this was really a test. How much they would be able to accommodate a customer request? Well, they couldn’t for two reasons. The first was that they didn’t have a cup to put the scoop which I offered to them to give it to me on a small cup used for water. The second was that they had to charge the full price of a small shake for me to get the scoop. It was a little disappointed even though they were honest and kind with my request.
For these reasons, Hat Creek has drop on their TAVS score from an incredible 4.0 to a 3.8 knocking them out of the minimum score to qualify for the Top ALR Choice Award. We’ll probably go back since we love their combos and overall value.

Hat Creek Burger Co. on Urbanspoon

Link to Hat Creek Co. web site

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