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Saturday, February 25, 2012

El Camino

Amy and I decided to explore some parts of Noblesville we hadn't been before and found El Camino on 10th street. We had heard good things about this Mexican restaurant and so decided to give it a try.

We went on a rainy Thursday night, so the place wasn't very crowded. We were immediately seated and given chips and salsa. The salsa was slightly watered down compared to many other Mexican restaurants I'd been to. The chips were great...nice and hot. The decor was the typical Mexican murals on the walls and the booths were pretty dated. The restaurant was well staffed however since it wasn't very crowded it made it awkward with so many employees standing around the kitchen door. I suppose it's better than the opposite of having slow service.

It's hard to turn down a margarita, no matter how cold it is outside! Amy ordered a regular strawberry frozen margarita and I had a original frozen margarita, both were made with golden tequila. Both were tasty, with a good consistency of alcohol and mix.

I ordered the steak quesadilla with no peppers.  As you can see from the picture, the tortilla was filled with steak, onion, and cheese goodness. My only complaint was the onions needed to be cut thinner. I take issue anytime a filling is bigger than the main ingredient. The dish came with a large handful of lettuce and a small dollop of guacamole. I'm a big guac fan, so I wish there was a larger serving here. For some reason there was this random tomato slice placed next to the guac. I didn't see what role this played in the meal but there it sat.

Amy had the fajita burrito which was filled with grilled chicken. She loved it! Amy said it was so nice to have truly grilled chicken that wasn't dry. Her dish also was accompanied by very fresh lettuce. No complaints with the fajita burrito.

One thing we each noticed was the silverware. Just trying to cut a piece of steak or chicken bent the handle of the silverware. This was some of the cheapest flatware I've been given at a restaurant.

Although I was critical of some elements of El Camino, Amy and I will definitely be back.

Rating: 8.6/10

797 S 10th Street
Noblesville, IN

El Camino Real on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bubs Burgers and Ice Cream

After browsing Urbanspoon for a new place to try in the Carmel area I noticed how popular Bubs Burgers and Ice Cream seemed to be. It was also featured on Man vs. Food for their Big Ugly burger challenge. The Big Ugly is a one pound burger, by the number of small photos on the wall,  many are able to take. The more Big Uglys you can eat the bigger the picture of you they put up.

When we arrived the main level was full so the hostess took us upstairs to the second level where they have a few tables. If you are not short on time ask to be seated downstairs as the atmosphere is night an day difference compared to the second floor. It seemed a majority of the waitstaff was still in high school, which I have no problem with but it does diminish any possible experience they could have. This was well reflected in our waiter, who seemed very nervous and was stretched thin among the number of tables he had.

I decided against attempting the Big Ugly, but I've added it to the list of things to do in the near future. Instead, I had the elk burger with cheddar cheese. I've never had elk before but I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of flavor packed into this quarter pound burger. The seasoning seemed to be largely based on pepper as there was a slight aftertaste kick, but still enjoyable. The bun seemed to be freshly backed, although I could be wrong. The patty itself had a nice char which I personally enjoy as long as it isn't taken to the level of being completely burnt, which this burger wasn't. Amy ordered the beef burger and she said it seemed the flavor profile matched that of my elk burger. We also ordered a side of waffle fries as all sides were a la carte. The fries had great seasoning and were extremely well cooked, being just the right amount of crispy.

Amy is a big milkshake fan and knew she would need to try a Bubs milkshake before we left. She ordered the strawberry, which was made with real strawberry's. She said it still had chunks of strawberry and good quality ice cream while maintaining a chick consistency.

Overall, We will definately be going back to Bubs and will do our best to get a table on the main level.

Score: 9/10

210 West Main Street
Carmel, IN

Bub's Burgers & Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Local Eatery and Pub

Amy and I decided to try some place new this weekend and looked at Urbanspoon to find the closest place to where we were at the time. The Local Eatery & Pub seemed interested so we headed over. It was a little before 6pm so there was not much of a crowd but the decorations and 'local' feel was nice. They have a minimalist vibe with some flat screen TVs showing ESPN. The drink menu was pretty creative, it was printed on light brown paper put in a clipboard. It's nice touches like this that I really like about local establishments.

While looking over the menu we noticed The Local seemed to be known for their beef tongue cheese steak. If we were to go back, I think I'd give it a try. I went with the pulled pork sandwich with their homemade BBQ sauce. The water described it as a more vinegar-based sauce with a pretty good kick to it. I was really happy to see they had tatter tots as a side options, not that I'm a huge tater tot fan but you don't see them on many menus. The pulled pork was good with a nice size portion of pork. The sauce was a little more spicy than I'd prefer but overall it was enjoyable.

Amy loves gyros, so once she saw the chicken gyro on the menu she was done looking. She said the chicken was a little bland since the kitchen had put a herb rub was placed on the chicken breast prior to being cooked, so once it was cut into cubes (which isn't traditionally how a gyro is made) most of the chicken was unseasoned. She also said there was slightly pickled cucumber instead of lettuce.

Overall, we had a good experience and the waitstaff was very attentive.

Rating: 8/10

The Local Eatery and Pub
14655 North Gray Road
Westfield, IN 46062

The Local Eatery and Pub on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 21, 2012

El Rodeo in Noblesville

Since the snow and rain had subsided I went with Amy out to dinner at El Rodeo in Noblesville. We arrived around 6:30 and luckily did not have to wait for a table. Upon receiving our table, we received a basket of chips and salsa. The salsa was good, not as chunky as other restaurants. Our waiter came over and by his demeanor, was not thrilled to be working that night. We placed our order while trying to avoid the glare from his gold teeth. The restaurant seemed fairly busy, likely a typical Friday night crowd. Upon finishing the chips we were given, the waiter never asked if we would like any more (which was probably for the best). Actually, unless he was taking our order or bringing the food, the waiter was pretty absent.

I had ordered Combination #1 which came with a beef taco, and two beef enchiladas with your choice of rice or beans. The waiter did not ask which I would prefer and so made it his decision that I would have rice. The tortillas used for the enchiladas were either undercooked (although I doubt they were made from scratch) or there was some type of flavoring I was not used to. The taco was just a regular taco with lettuce and cheese. Amy ordered the chicken chimichanga, she said it wasn't anything special but tasted like a basic chimichanga.

In conclusion, if you want your typical chain-like Mexican food and are in the area, El Rodeo will suit you just fine.

Rating: 6/10

14160 Mundy Dr # 900
Noblesville, IN 

El Rodeo on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Maggiano's Near Keystone Crossing

  Today I went to Maggiano's for lunch with "Amy". This was my first experience at Maggiano's, however Amy had been a few times prior. We were quickly seated near the front of the restaurant at a less than ideal table but we ended up having no issue with the location. Our waiter was quick to have water and fresh bread brought to our table while we browsed the menu. It would have been nice if the wait staff poured the olive oil onto the provided plate and added the pepper and parmesan cheese for us, but it appeared this was not customary here. 

Whenever at a new restaurant I like to order a 'baseline' entree so that I can compare to past like-restaurants. I ordered the chicken parmesan which came with a side of spaghetti marinara. Amy ordered the eggplant parmesan which was served with penne marinara. While looking over the menu it appeared they have a nice selection of what they called 'classic pastas' which if ordered, came with an additional meal to be taken home. There was also a special "meal for two" and "meal for four" which would be something we may try upon our next visit. Overall, the menu had your typical itialian chain-restaurant options. Nothing caught my eye as overly rustic or original.

While waiting for our food we noticed the restaurant was playing Frank Sinatra on repeat. Although I would prefer Frank to many other artists, it got a little old after a while. The restaurant was fairly busy, I'm guessing a typical Sunday afternoon crowd, however we had no issue with hearing one another during conversation. 

Once our food arrived we both dug right in. If you can't tell, I forgot to take a picture until after I was almost done. The chicken parmesan came with two good sized chicken breasts that were pan fried. The chicken was moist although I did not detect much additional flavor from any added herbs or seasoning. Portion wise, it was an excellent candidate to fill me up and still have more than enough to take home. Amy's eggplant parmesan also received good marks and was also large enough to be boxed up and brought home. 

On to dessert. Amy is a big desert fan, although she did give it up as a New Year's resolution which she has been cheating on probably since day five. Amy ordered the apple crostada, which she said was a little heavy on the apple for her liking. I had the chocolate zuccotto, which was basically a two layer chocolate cake with a chocolate mousse layer in between. I was not pleased with this frozen food isle grocery store cake, the mousse was only half way spread between the layers of cake and the dessert as a whole was too cold. You could tell Maggiano's was not known for their desserts, but this would not prevent me from returning.

Overall, my first experience at Maggiano's near Keystone Mall was a pleasant one. The food was typical American-Italian fare that did not stretch the imagination but did provide the taste buds with something to crave. I would return if in the area, but I would not travel across land and sea to seek it out. This is an great restaurant to stop into while shopping, and the prices were fairly attractive considering the larger portion sizes.

Rating: 8/10

Maggiano's Little Italy
3550 East 86th Street
Indianapolis, IN 

Maggiano's on Urbanspoon