Mellow Mushroom

Great ***

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks

 

If there is one constant in this ever changing world it is that pretty much everyone likes pizza in some form or fashion. This is evident by the giant frozen pizza section in your local grocery store or by the fact that you cant hardly drive down a commercial street without seeing at least one pizza place. While I enjoy making my own pizza at home I also enjoy going out to a restaurant and getting a really great pizza from time to time. I discovered a great little place that makes excellent pizza a while back on a trip up to Austin TX and then found it again while on a trip to Fl. I was happy to see that it was a small franchise and doing well but was disappointed that they did not have a location in San Antonio. Well I found out recently that is no longer the case and a new location has in fact opened up here in SA. This of course made me very happy and got me out to the north side of the city near Stone Oak just off of 1604 to check out the latest location of the Mellow Mushroom.

photo 1

Walking in the door I saw that this newest location was a little bit nicer than the two I had been in before, not that those were bad by any means but you could definitely tell that this was a brand new restaraunt. It still has the same quirkiness of the older locations and even has a statue of the Mellow Mushroom mascot out front (a giant mushroom holding a slice of pizza). The inside is set up nicely with booths along the outer walls and plenty of tables in the middle that are nicely spaced and not crammed together. They also have an outside patio area for those that like to eat outside during the warmer months of the year and for those of you that love beer, you will not be disappointed with the selections at the bar. Throughout the restaurant are flat screen TV’s showing the latest games going on and they have music playing in the background to keep the mood upbeat.

photo

Now when it comes down to the food they have a nice selection of “munchies”, calzones, hoagies and even salads but the real draw for me is the pizza. They have a number of playfully named pizzas such as the Kosmic Karma, Mighty Meaty, Magical Mystery Tour, or Bayou Bleu to name a few.  You can also choose to build your own if you have kids that don’t like a lot of toppings with you.

This trip I opted to start out with the bruschetta which is pretty amazing. They take a great garlic toast and top it with fresh tomatoes and basil and the drizzle it with olive oil and a balsamic glaze. The combination of these ingredients comes together wonderfully and will hold you over until your pizza gets to the table.

I only mention this because it does take a little time to get your pizza. It is called “Mellow” Mushroom after all. So don’t expect to run in for a quick bite. Sit back and relax and enjoy yourself. The pizza is well worth the wait.

photo 2

This brings me to the pizza. I ordered the Mighty Meaty. As you can guess this is a pizza loaded with meat and not just any meat but the best of the best. It has Pepperoni, Sausage, Beef, Ham and Applewood smoked bacon. Mmmm… Bacon… The crust on this pizza is one of my favorites and is one of the few crusts I actually eat at the end of a slice. Usually crust is too doughy and flavorless and ends up pushed to the side when the cheese and toppings are all gone but this one is nice and crunchy and is coated with a little Parmesan cheese sprinkle. The sauce is very flavorful but not overpowering and does not taste liked a generic canned sauce like a lot of pizza places tend to taste. All in all it is one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten and without a doubt plan to eat again.

photo 3

Overall I really enjoyed the Mellow Mushroom and will be going back in the near future. It is a quirky little pizza joint with a great atmosphere and great food. So the next time you are in the mood for pizza and want to get out for a nice dining experience go and check them out. You wont be disappointed. They are starting to pop up more and more with quite a few locations in the south east.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

Advertisements

Youz Guyz South Philly Cheese steaks

Great ***

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks

It has been a while since I’ve done a review, so what better place to review than Youz Guyz in Universal City on Pat Booker Road.

photo (2)

Looking back over my reviews I was surprised to see that I had not done a review for Youz Guyz yet, especially seeing as how I have been a pretty frequent customer over the last few years. When it comes to subs or sandwiches I have always loved a good Philly Cheese steak. There is just something about the combination of the grilled steak, onions, and cheese on that long hoagie roll that screams perfection when you bite into it. I have had many different varieties over the years, some good and some bad. If I can give one piece of advice that you take to heart it is that you need to go to a local shop for the best food. Those guys are the ones that put love into every bite and specialize in making a couple of things really good instead of a bunch of stuff just ok. You aren’t going to find a truly great cheese steak at one of those sub chains. Go somewhere that makes it their specialty and if you are in the San Antonio area and over on the north east side near Universal City, Youz Guyz is the place that does just that.

Youz Guyz is the real deal folks. Owners Kathy and Jimmy are from South Philly and know how these sandwiches are supposed to taste and do them right with just the right combination of cheese and onions to compliment the steak. When you bite into one of their cheese steaks it melts in your mouth. You can add mushrooms or peppers and either have provolone cheese (the right way) or add cheese whiz if you want.

Now if you aren’t in the mood for a cheese steak you can get hoagies, Italian hot sausage, hot dogs or chicken fingers too but if you try the cheese steak first you probably wont ever look at the rest of the menu. You also have your choice of a variety of sides to choose from including Onion rings, fries, pizza fries, mozzarella sticks and home made potato chips. I tend to switch between the onion rings and the fries depending on my mood.

photo

You can’t go wrong with any of it but I urge you to try the cheese steak first. You wont be disappointed. When you walk in look for the sign that tells you how to order your sandwich the right way and make sure you let them know if you want it “wit”. You will know what I am talking about once you get there.

Also if you are in a hurry you can do what I did this trip and get it to go. Since I live about 5 minutes away it was just a fresh and tasty as it would be if I were sitting there at the restaurant.

I can’t speak highly enough about this place. They have great food and are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. So go and give it a try. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Grumpy’s Mexican Cafe

Great ***

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks

Every now and then I get a taste for good ole home cooked food like I grew up on. I remember standing in my Grandma’s kitchen as she would cook breakfast and the smell of the bacon and eggs frying and the biscuits baking was almost too much to have to wait for but of course she would always slip me a piece of bacon when no one was looking. Every now and then I run across a place that brings those memories back and I am happy to say I can add another to my list. Grumpy’s Mexican Cafe is just that place. Located just outside of 1604 on Nacodoches near Garden Ridge this little place is just far enough off the radar to have almost escaped my site but not quite. I don’t know if you like more traditional San Antonio breakfast dishes like breakfast tacos and huevos rancheros or a more southern style like biscuits and gravy or chicken and waffles, but whatever your pleasure is you can be sure to find it at Grumpy’s. I have tried several different dishes over a few visits to Grumpy’s but kept forgetting to take pictures until I was about half way through the meal. Yes it is that good. But I was able to set my excitement aside on one trip and get a couple of pics of the biscuits and sausage gravy I finally decided to give a try. I only say finally because biscuits and sausage gravy are one of those dishes that I doubt I will ever find as good as Grandma used to make but do get brave enough to try every now and then just to see.

I will say that the gravy was great even though it was pretty different from Grandmas. I’m pretty sure they didn’t use a cast iron skillet to cook it in but it was tasty non the less. The biscuits on the other hand were just like she was back in the kitchen mixing them up herself. They were moist and flaky and not dry and crumbly like a lot of restaurants make them.  You can order a half order or a whole order. Half an order is one biscuit split in half and a whole order is two biscuits both split in half. I ordered a whole order and now know that next time I will get the half order. This is a lot of food.  The gravy has a nice texture and flavor that compliments the biscuits but needed a little more black pepper to get up to my standards. You can get the gravy with or without sausage, but whats the point of biscuits and gravy if you don’t have sausage in the gravy? This meal also comes with a side of hash browns that are pretty tasty with a hint of a butter flavor and two eggs however you want them cooked. I had mine over medium because I like the yellow runny but not the white.

Like I said earlier I have been back several times and tried multiple things on the menu but did not take pictures. I guess I will have to go back and try them all over again. It’s hard being me.

A couple of note worthy dishes to mention and ones I know I will be getting again is the chicken and waffles and the country fried steak. Great tasting fluffy waffle and had breaded chicken coated with powdered sugar and syrup and a large side of potato twisters which are kind of like a giant twisted potato chip that covers half the plate. This is one to try. And the country fried steak will take up most of your plate and can be cut with a fork it is so tender. Don’t forget to get a side of biscuits instead of toast. They just compliment everything.

Grumpy’s isn’t just a breakfast spot but also has a lunch menu that has quite a few great looking selections that I will have to try some day.

So you can guess that after reading this I will without a doubt be back for more. I hear they have a pretty incredible steak and eggs breakfast that is now on my list of dishes to try.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Auden’s Kitchen

Great

Pretty Good

OK

No Thanks ***

Every now and then you hear about a place that is supposed to be a good place to eat so you decide to go try it out, but when you do you think to yourself (or if you are like me out loud) “what were they thinking”? This is the feeling I got when I tried Auden’s Kitchen in San Antonio off of East Sonterra BLVD.

When you walk in the door it has an odd feeling right off the bat. Is it a pub? Is it a bistro? Is it an eatery? Is it a wine bar? Its kind of all over the place. Behind the front desk was a black board with the daily specials written in chalk like  lot of kitschy little places do but just passed that were shelves full of wine bottles like a wine bar and to the right was a little lounge area with leather couches and a TV. The front dining room was laid out with a decent amount of space between the tables and had an open feel to it while the back dinning room seemed to be delegated for prep work in the down hours because one of the waiters was ripping paper for table coverings almost the entire time I was there.

When it comes to food Auden’s kitchen has a wide variety on the menu and some really nice sounding dishes. Unfortunately if you go in on a Sunday the menu is cut down to a handful of selections for brunch only which I found a little disappointing. After looking through what they did have available I decided on the Fish and Chips, since the menu is an Americanized English pub style food I thought that this would be a great choice. My dining partner for that day went with the selection on the menu labeled simply as Burger.

When the food arrived it was hand delivered by one of the Chef’s who had the overall personality of a lump of wet clay and did not even look at us when setting the food down and waking away. That being said both dishes looked pretty good. The fries had a good texture and were seasoned nicely. The fish had a decent flavor but I was disappointed to see that the three little pieces they put on the plate were all about 75% batter and 25% fish.  I would have thought if they were going to be so selective on the size of the fish they would have at least tossed a couple more on the plate instead of trying to hide it in an enormous amount of batter.
I did try the burger and it was pretty good and made me wish I had put more thought into my choice.

I don’t usually focus on the condiments but have to say something about the “House Made Catsup” at Auden’s. This is something that they make sure to point out on the menu and seem to be proud of.  For starters go ahead and be prepared to ask for regular ketchup unless you like dipping your fries in something that tastes like a combination of apple sauce and cinnamon with a little tomato sauce mixed. I did not find it pleasing at all and it actually took a bit to get the awful taste out of my mouth before I could try to enjoy the rest of my meal. This is one of those cases where the person that came up with this concoction is obviously out of touch with their customer base.

I hate writing bad reviews almost as much as I hate the bad experience that leads to them but sometimes it is just unavoidable. So with all that being said I can assure you I will not be making a return trip to Auden’s any time in the future. The food is OK but the price you pay for what you actually get is not worth the trip.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

Clear Springs Restaurant

Great

Pretty Good ***

OK

No Thanks

I have not done a review in a bit so here we go.

I heard about this little seafood place called Clear Springs Restaurant from a friend on Facebook and immediately went online to check out the menu. Well on the home page was this picture of a giant stack of home-made onion rings, so that made me decide to go and try it all by itself. For those of you that read my blog you know I am a sucker for a good onion ring. I checked to see where they were located and was happy to see that there are several locations and one was not to far from me out 1604 near the Stone Oak area in a little place called Afton Oaks. There is also one in the New Braunfels area but this one was closer to me and I was feeling a little to lazy to do any extra driving (it was Sunday after all).

When you walk in the door you can tell that these people are all about their fish. The inside is a neat mix of fishing cabin and antique store. They have old antique toys, fishing polls, and mounted fish scattered around the rafters and old west movie and TV posters hanging on the walls. The floors, tables and chairs are all wood to give it that rustic feel and it is a relatively spacious place inside.

The menu of course has many seafood items from catfish to fried oysters but also has a few steak selections for the non fish eaters of the world. To start out I of course ordered the onion rings to sample. The waitress was nice enough to suggest a small order so I wouldn’t fill up on them, but to my surprise a small order was huge. I have had some great onion rings in my time and I would count these among them. I would have to rank them in the top five best onion rings I have ever tried. The breading was flaky and crunchy and the onions themselves were easy to bite through and melted in your mouth. They were perfectly seasoned and to be honest I probably could have made a meal off just them but I did come here for fish after all so I placed my order for the main course. I ordered a 3 combo platter where you can choose between several different entree’s. I chose catfish, fried oysters, and fried crawfish.  The platter also came with borracho beans, hush puppies, french fries and cole slaw which to my surprise actually tasted like cole slaw and not that typical bland cabbage with a little vinegar tossed on it that you usually find in Texas. This was creamy and actually pretty tasty. The fries were your standard french fries, nothing special but not bad overall. I guess after those onion rings I would have a hard time judging anyone’s fries. The beans were good and tasted like every other borracho bean you can get in San Antonio, so nothing special. I cant really comment on the hush puppies as my dining companion stole those from me but they looked good. When it came to the three entrees I tried the crawfish first. While I have had better these were pretty good. My only complaint was that they were a tad on the chewy side but it is pretty hard to avoid that. Next I moved on to the oysters and was pleasantly surprised. The breading was crunchy and the oysters were flavorful and melted in your mouth. Now on to the main event, the catfish. Being a southern boy from Florida I have to tell you that I am kind of a fried catfish snob. I have had it cooked many different ways and even cook it myself so it is hard to impress me with catfish. Well I will say that this catfish is pretty good. It has a nice flavor and is seasoned good. It also has a crunchy breading while leaving the fish nice a flaky on the inside. I would not say it is the best I have ever had but it was far from the worst too. I would rate it around a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10 and would definitely go back again. Overall it was a pretty good meal but the onion rings are the clear winner this round. If nothing else I recommend going just to try them.


So if you are in the mood for good seafood in a down home type of settings this is the place to go.

Thanks for reading

JMW

Firebowl Cafe

Great

Pretty Good ***

OK

No Thanks

If you are like me then you love Asian cuisine of all types but while you would still like to pick your own ingredients you don’t always want to cook it yourself. This is where restaurants like HuHot, Genghis Grill and Firebowl Cafe come in to play. They allow you to go in and select all of the ingredients that you want and have someone else cook it for you. Being a fan of this type of restaurant I decided to give Firebowl Cafe a try to see how it stacked up against the other big players out there. Firebowl Cafe is similar to Genghis Grill in regards to being able to build your own meal and have them cook it for you but does not have the same level of selection. You can choose to order right off the menu from quite a few different meal types and add noodles or a couple different types of rice and choose what you would like added to it such as sauces and meats or you can create it yourself. The create it yourself method is the most appealing and fun since you basically get to create something unique and different each time. Unfortunately Firebowl is more of a simplified version of what you get at the other guys. Here you can select all the veggies and tell them what sauce you want added and choose what meat you would like them to use from Chicken, Beef, Shrimp or Tofu for the vegetarians out there but you don’t get to choose how much of it you want like you can at the other guys. On the plus side you get a few more choices that places like Genghis Grill don’t offer like Orange Chicken, Pepper Steak, Sweet & Sour chicken and several other Asian favorites.

Inside Firebowl Cafe is set up more like Chipotle Grill and is basically an upscale fast food restaurant. As a matter of fact when you walk in the door and start looking around at the menu and dinning room layout it is set up almost exactly like a Chipotle Grill.

For this visit I was feeling especially lazy and decided to go with one of the standard menu items instead of building it myself so I ordered the Fire Noodles. This is a Chow Fun type of flat rice noodle with green onions, bell pepper, mushrooms, snap peas, Thai basil, cilantro and jalapenos although now that I think about it I am pretty sure they forgot the Jalapenos and cilantro in mine. I also chose the beef for mine and I added a couple of egg rolls.

The egg rolls came out almost as soon as I sat down and I will go on record saying that these were some of the best egg rolls that I have ever eaten. They were hot, crispy and had a nice mixture of ingredients unlike a lot of egg rolls that can be filled with mostly cabbage. With only a couple of bites of egg roll left my meal came out in a pretty decent sized bowl. I gave it a good stir to mix everything up and tried my first bite which was pretty good but a little on the bland side of things so since I am a soy sauce junkie I had to add quite a bit to get it up to my flavor standards. I also added a bit of their spicy Thai sauce (a little goes a long way) to give it the kick that I like in my food. After that it was a pretty good meal all in all. I would definitely go back when I get one of those lazy day feelings where I don’t want to cook but would like Asian food. I would put Firebowl somewhere between Panda Express (on the low end) and Genghis Grill (on the high end). Decent food overall with a great egg roll at an affordable price and a fair amount of freedom to customize your own dish. So if you are in the mood for a quick but good Asian meal go out and give it a try. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Thanks for reading,

JMW

Pasha Mediterranean Grill

Great
Pretty Good
OK ***
No Thanks

This week we are going to be visiting Pasha Mediterranean Grill for a little change of pace. Being the type of person that will try just about anything and having never really eaten much Mediterranean food before I thought Pasha would be a good place to visit. We have a couple of locations here in San Antonio, One on Wurzbach Rd and the other at 1604 and Blanco Rd, so I chose the one closest to me on 1604 and Blanco RD. It is located in a pretty nice area not far from Stone Oak and looks nice and inviting on the outside, so I was kind of surprised when I walked in the door and got that somewhat cramped and loud fast food restaurant feel. I will tell you now that the quickest way to turn me off from any restaurant is to have a cramped dining area. I am a big 6’3” guy and like to eat in comfort and do not like having to squeeze by people or between tables to get to my seat. You should never have to worry about the person behind you bumping into your chair when they get up because there is not enough room between the tables and this is exactly how Pasha is set up. The worst part is that they are not just cramped together, they are cramped and disorderly. Tables are turned every which way and make no sense to any type of traffic flow. They also have the long bench type of seating along one wall but the tables were pushed so close to the back of the seat it would have been hard for even the smallest person to fit comfortably. This is never a good way to start a dining experience in my opinion.
Now that I am done going on about the crazy seating let’s get to the food. After all that is the main reason I decided to visit and more than likely the reason that you are here reading in the first place. First off They bring you a giant piece of flat bread and olive oil and spices to dip it in. The bread was very tasty and the spices in the oil had a great unique flavor. For an appetizer I decided to try the Baba Ghannouj (grilled eggplant dip with lemon juice and garlic. I have tried Baba Ghannouj at other places and wanted to see how this one stacked up. In short it was not good at all. It actually tasted like the eggplant was starting to turn and I could not try more than two bites it was so bad. It had an almost rancid taste to it that took several minutes to get out of my mouth.

For the main part of the meal I wanted to try several different things so I went with a Mediterranean seafood plate and a sampling their Shawarma Beef. The Seafood plate came with a generous Basa filet and grilled shrimp and two sides which include basmati rice and sauteed spinach. The Fish was cooked just right but very bland and under seasoned while the shrimp were over cooked and bland. I am a big fan of all seafood and have had it many different ways but this was just disappointing all in all. The sides were actually the best part of the plate with buttery fluffy rice and a very nice tasting sauteed spinach that melted in your mouth. With the fish out of the way it was time to try the Shawarma beef and I am happy to say that it was a step up. It is slow roasted steak that is sliced thin and seasoned with cinnamon. While it is a different flavor than I am used to it was still pretty tasty. The only problem is that with that seasoning it isn’t something you can not eat very much of before it becomes just to much as it is kind of sweet. Accompanying the beef was a nice Hummus that was not as bland and smooth as most hummus that I have tried. This hummus had a strong garlic flavor that I enjoyed and had thicker chunks than I am used to. This is a big plus for me as most hummus comes across as a little to slimy feeling for me. I am usually not the biggest fan of Hummus and can only eat it in small doses but this hummus left me wanting more of it. Although this could be because of the disappointing food that came before it. While Pasha looks nice from the outside and offers something a little out of the norm for people looking for an adventure, the cramped seating and sub par food overall really soured me to ever trying it again. I cant really think of anything that I would have to go back for so I doubt that they will ever see me again. With that being said, if you like Mediterranean food and have a favorite spot to get it, don’t bother trying Pasha as you will most likely be disappointed.

Thanks for reading,
JMW