Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fat Kid Reviews: Fat Kid Mac And Cheese

Fat Kid Mac n Cheese on Urbanspoon

So this is one time I have to go full disclosure on this one. My brother (the Illustrious Chef Fatty) actually works for and is in some ways the face of this particular food truck.
I know right? Though the hardest to believe part is the simple fact that we had nothing to do with the truck until he was hired a few months ago.

But gentle readers, I promise to give you the same level of food critique that I always do, as I am his older brother so need to crush his ego as much as anybody else.
So... To the truck. Well atmosphere-wise there's not a terrible amount going on as it's food coming out of a truck. The truck is clean and when I went my brother was out front being personable and loud. While not quite a full carnival barker he would have made a good impression. His decries of "Fat Kid Love" were non-sensical enough to grab interest and say what you will about my bias he was a personable server and got me my food quickly.

Now... on the Mac and Cheese.

There's something deeply linked to childhood in that gooey pasta mass. Not unlike is said about pizza and other more private delights "even when it's bad... it's still pretty good."

This however was really good. Like... damn good. A rich cheese sauce but with niance and deep flavors mixed in. Thier toppings mix in to create a truly magical mix of flavors. Each one is specially chosen and crafted to add to the expieriece forged in the take out cup your are holding in your hands.
Though it was arguably the best mac and cheese I've ever had, there were too points of critque that need to be put out. Their basic mac is rich. Like Bill Gates and Richard Branson merged like Voltron well daaaaaaaaaamn rich.

However this is only a problem with just the basic mac itself. A little of their house made slightly acidic ketchup or barbeque sauce and that problem sorts itself right out. I know that many of you will (or should) balk at the idea of ketchup on mac and cheese but this mac with this ketchup make a complete and wonderful experience.

The other small critique is that the veggies provided need a bit more fat kid love. They were kind of bland in compared with the rest of the ingredients. However that's something they said they were aware of and trying to work on. A great group of people working there and on a purely personal note, it's nice to see my brother's dreams come true.

So please go and track down this particular food truck. If not for the group of Fat Kids that would love you to, then for the Fat Kid inside us all.

Or you know... cause it's really tasty.

See you in the Chow line,
-The Fat Kid

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fat Kid Reviews: Caffe Niche

Caffe Niche on Urbanspoon


One of the greatest things of our modern era, in my reckoning, is the "Explore around me" feature on many map apps (Google Maps is my poison of choice.). As I somtimes do I found myself in a part of town I rarely frequent with two hours to kill and a need for breakfast food. So I whipped out my smart phone and magicked myself some recommendations.

I settled on Caffe Niche.

My first impressions of the place were less then ideal. Not that anything was off per say, but the place was trendy to the point of almost off putting (The decor and music being the prime offenders). However despite that, I did find myself enjoying what could only be described as the "vibe" of the place. I could see myself returning should the food be good enough.

The menu was small, elegant, and could have come off as hipster gibberish. Everything was marked with additional adjectives in front. "Local" being the frontrunner. I settled on the Corned Kobe Beef Hash, a side of Local Sausage, and some Local Coffee. I felt like I'd walked into an episode of the League of Gentlemen, which is a very weird show I enjoy.

At this point I have to give the waitress a fair bit of credit because I had two pens explode and she quickly helped me out with narrey a giggle at the suddenly Blueman. The service was fantastic, the perfect balance of attentive without breaching into pushy.

Now, before I move to the food, allow me a poetic indulgence.

Food, at its best, is more than just nutrients to jam into our face ports. It is an art that transports us across time and place. It can remind us of lost love and pull us back to time we had forgotten. It is the most primal of artistries because it ties inot an experience that all human kind relates.

I point this out because that is what their food did for me. The boldly saged sausage perfectly seasoned and cooked. The fresh bread with real butter and the perfect eggs over crispy and chewy potatoes with the beautifully assertive corned beef breaking in to make the whole dish sing.

As I sat there the reality of where I was faded and for a moment I as an eight year old boy sitting at Nana's table digging into breakfast before we ran down to work the garden down the hill.

Basically I lived the critic's part from the Disney film with the Rat Chef.

Now I'm not saying every person will time machine away once they taste their breakfast. But I can say that I did, and I enjoyed the hell out of breakfast.

So... probably worth a shot.

See you in the Chow line,
-The Fat Kid

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Fat Kid Reviews: Dem Po Boyz BBQ

Dem PO' Boyz BBQ on Urbanspoon

I like barbecue. There's something delightfully gluttonous about it, something deeply American. There are few times when I feel like a patriot and oddly it's mostly as I'm chowing down on some ribs or smoked pork. There's an almost spiritual component to it that always makes me think of that "soul food" moniker.

Also it's just damn tasty.

Now technically speaking I've talked about this place before. Though not. Back at the beginnings of this blog we did a showing on the various Pastrami Burgers in the valley and the one I dubbed best was the one at The Grub Box. Now, for reasons that are ultimately none of my business, that lovely burger restaurant (who has improved on it's lack luster fries) is sharing it's space with Dem PO' Boyz a nice little local BBQ joint. The place is out of the way but the service was friendly, and the place was nice and clean if visual uninteresting.

But the look of this kind of place is completely unimportant. This kind of out of the way hole in the wall is about the food. And that... that was worth the drive out to Magna.

They had the usual menu set up for such places a variable number of meats linked to a set number of sides. Between my companion and I we tried four of the meats, and four sides. I had the ribs and the pork, the potato salad and the mac and cheese, while my companion tried the brisket, chicken, beans, and cole slaw. All said a respectable amount of food for the price point. I had two large ribs and a nice pile of shredding pork with similar amounts for my associate's choices.

The sauces were just fantastic. They used a mix of different region sauces, though the Carolina mustard heavy one on the pork and ribs may be my new favorite anything. I could drink that, it's actually pretty close to a recipe I've been working on myself and well, honestly they did it better.

The brisket had a nice bark and flavor to it, and it's sauce was very nice. Deep, rich, sweet but earthy, all those things you want in a BBQ sauce. The chicken had good flavor but either needed a little more sauce or was just dry. Not inedible but the weakest of the meats. The pork was very rich in flavor and just about perfectly paired with that yummy sauce. (Please note that I do not use the Y word lightly) The ribs were just about as perfect as I want out of ribs. Thick smoke ring. Fall off the bone tender. Deep smokey flavor and a solid complex rub. SOOO tasty. I highly suggest it.

I did feel that maybe some of the stuff could have benefited by just a tad more salt but otherwise that meat was all I want BBQ to be.

The sides were a mixed bag. I liked the cole slaw and the beans were good, though they had a flavor profile I hadn't had before, obviously made in house. Sweet but not too sweet, nice little bit of spice and a clear bean flavor. They were interesting, and pretty good otherwise. The mac and cheese was tasty, had the texture of a homemade baked version with just a touch of tomato and spice. Spicier then I expected but I came around to it in the end.

The two sour notes were the oddity of having to buy out drinks from a different register, which was just odd. I mean, understandable given the situation but odd, and the potato salad. It was just kind bland. It was like it was missing something, I just can't figure out what it was.

However, my dear readers, I humbly ask that you try this place out. Not for Dem Po Boyz, and not for yourselves. But for me. So that they can stay in business long enough for me to become a regular.

See you in the Chow Line,
-The Fat Kid

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fat Kid Reviews: Leger's Deli

Leger's Deli on Urbanspoon

As I was growing up some dear friends of my family owned a deli. Their ownership of it is a thing of the past now, but it left in me a particular fondness for "deli" food. Because of this long history of sandwich consumption I really love a nice local (even if franchised) sandwich shop.

Now I came to Leger's on the raving suggestion of my dear friend and sometimes contributor "Drasago". He found the place wandering around on his lunch and after eating immediately texted me. So I decided to give it a go on one of my Fridays. This was another place that I'd drive by a hundred times, and was always looking for an excuse to try out.

First impressions upon entering? It was a sandwich shop. The kind where the guy behind the gives you a sample of his meat because he's just that proud of it. Very friendly without being pushy. The guy was mellow, sort of blue collar energy and obviously loved his job. As I was sitting there waiting he brought a piece of corned beef, He told me about the local butcher who makes all the corned beef and pastrami they use. And man... was it delicious.

I ordered two sandwiches. His weekly special (which that week was a Reuben) and the "Kitchen Sink". I'll start with the latter.

Every place like this has a sandwich like the kitchen sink. I've seen it called the "Garbage Sandwich", or the "Po'Boy" or some variation on the theme. Some places will even give you the history of the term "Po'Boy" when you order it. But basically it's a bunch of meats and cheeses on a sandwish. This one in particular had turkey, roast beef, and ham with provolone, cheddar, swiss, and american cheese. And they were fantastic. I could close my eyes and pick out each individual note of the symphony in my mouth. It was a fantastic sandwich. Which segues perfectly into the next sandwich.

I didn't know what a perfect Reuben was until I had that special. I didn't realize that the thing wrong with so many Reubans I had had was that they had too much meat until I had this sandwich. It has become the template by which I gauge other Reubens. It was magnificent.

I enjoyed it is what I'm saying there. If that wasn't clear.

Now, the one problem and it's not really a problem, is that he has a weekly special that they rotate in and out. The Reuben was one of those so there's no easy way to tell when the next time it will be available is. Aside from physically asking. And where's the fun in that?

See you in the Chow Line,
-The Fat Kid 

Fat Kid Reviews: Pizza Rev

Pizza Rev on Urbanspoon

There's a couple of places around the valley that are working with this same idea. The "high-end but affordable" pizza. Upon entering that was definitely the theme of the place, from the decor to the menu. Though not wood or coal fired they had a nice big pizza oven right there to be seen. We had come for an early lunch so Chef Fatty and I were basically the only ones there. The service was personable and they were willing to modify our pizza slightly (I have to be careful about my spinach intake for health reasons). 

We got their sausage pizza with white sauce and the Mediterranean (sans spinach). They were out to us at fast food speed and smelled quite delicious. It's a thin crust pizza with some nice toasted char from the big oven. The cheese was a nice rich buffalo mozzarella and the white sauce was well seasoned but combined with the cheese and other toppings was quite rich. Almost too much by about half way in. It was at this point that we realized that we'd picked up two of the same kind of sauce.

Now... we realized that for the sake of review this was a problem but the lady behind the counter was exceptionally kind and gave us a little sample of their red sauce. And that was the point were this went from a decent but overly rich pizza to something fantastic.

Their red sauce is dynamite.

It's bright and fresh and incredibly delicious. Dipping the over rich white sauced pizza into it? Hindu Holy Cow. It was SO good. Now I admit I have a soft spot for that mix of marinara and Alfredo sauces but this was a really good combination, just fantastic.

Now for the critiques, the pizzas were a little small for the price point but you're really paying for the time in the oven and not the size. The toppings were of a nice high quality but a little sparse on the actual pizzas.

But personally I think that's sort of a wash as getting that perfect bite of the two sauces and the cheese and sausage or olives? That was totally worth it.

See you in the Chow line,
The Fat Kid

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Fat Kid Reviews: Dragon Diner

Dragon Diner on Urbanspoon

This is perhaps my favorite Chinese food place that I keep forgetting the existence of. I've been here on a number of occasions over the years, but always with friends. So as a good friend of mine was in town we decided to hit the place up, as he was craving Chinese.

As it was Labor Day and many places were closed the small dining room was pretty hopping. We were quickly seated and though it was a rather clean and comfortable room the amount of people did slightly hinder easy conversation. But we powered on.

The service was solid. Personable without being personal. I was well tended to with my profound demand for liquids.  (I drink a lot of water and/or diet coke.)

After we were seated and had our drinks ordered, they brought out these little bowls of fried wonton strips with sweet and sour for dipping. I had not ever seen that down in a restaurant of this type and as I was quite famished it was well received. The strips were well fried and the sweet and sour was perhaps the best I've ever had. If it wasn't house made then it was bought in the back alley of a factory that made wishes come true.

The entries I tried (I talked everybody to let me have a bite of theirs in the name of bloggery) were the General Tso's Chicken, Pon Pon Chicken, Teryaki Chicken Bowl, and the Tangerine Chicken. All were quite delicious. The Pon Pon had a slightly different breading then the General's and Tangerine, but had a nice texture. A little more chewy in contrast to the crunchy. The Teryaki was unbreaded but well cooked.

The one critique I can give of the food I had, and I admit it was a small portion of the menu, was that the different sauces had many similarities. Not to say that they tasted the same but the differences were more nuanced. If they had been mixed together I probably wouldn't have noticed. But... that being said they were all delicious and I look forward to coming to this place again.

See you in the Chow Line,
-The Fat Kid


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Fat Kid Reviews: Carlos' Kitchen #2

Carlos' Kitchen #2 on Urbanspoon

There are places that you drive by over and over again. You look out the window of your car and ask yourself "I wonder what that place is like". Bare minimum I've been driving by this place two to three times a week for years (it's on the route to my brother's house and out local game store). And every time that's exactly what I thought.

So one day while out lunching with my father we decided to give this place a go.

When we first entered I wasn't quite sure what to think. The decor was... uninspiring (think subtle stereotypes on a budget) and though the place was clean it had the look of a place that wouldn't be. I don't quite know how else to describe it.

Upon entering the hostess immediately greeted us like old friends. She was bright and friendly and asked us if we spoke Spanish. Sadly I did not, so the hostess had to translate what we said to the woman behind the counter.

The wait was a little long but the freshness of the food showed that this was a from scratch operation. They brought our food to us and I dug in quickly.

Pupusas.

I'll wait while you google it.

...

Seriously, if you have never had a pupusa you should consider yourself having missed out on a culinary milestone.

I tried a bean and cheese one, a cheese and pork one, and one filled with edible flowers. And oh my merciful Iron Chefs were they delicious. This wonderful mix of salty and savory topped with a brightly acidic and herbed cabbage slaw that made a wonderfully complete flavor. And BIG too. I got three (with beans and chips) and walked away quite full.

But delightfully so.

They also proudly show Philly Cheese Steaks on their menu. Which I didn't try... but due to my profound morbid curiosity will likely be trying sometime soon.

I'll let you know.

See you in the Chow line,
-The Fat Kid