Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Kildare's Irish Pub

If there's one positive thing I can say about Kildare's Irish Pub, it's that the restrooms are great for sex. Haha..I'm kidding. Maybe.

Seriously though, Kildare's is an authentic-ish Irish pub located on Jefferson Avenue across from the train station. Well it was the train station back when we used to put vinyl records on the phonograph machine. Now it's the Radisson Hotel.

It's pretty comfortable inside, with a rustic Irish feel. They put some thought into the décor; the chairs and stools are different styles at each table, and there's a fireplace. There's approximately 45 separate bars within this place. Ok, I'm exaggerating, but there may be 5? It's a huge place, but wherever you're standing you are only an arm's length away from a bar.

They have hundreds of beers on the menu, like lots of places around here. It's a thing. I just won't go if they don't have my favorite chocolate bacon avocado quail egg stout. Actually we usually just order Yuengling. Tonight, however, Danelle ordered Fat Tire, which was a staple for us in California, but is a new thing here. I ordered a coke, which sucked. I don't think it was actual Coke. Not one bubble. Do you see a bubble?

So I too ended up getting a Fat Tire.

Tuesday night is $5 burger night, which is awesome. They have any burger on the menu for $5 AND they come with fries, chips or salad. And they make their own potato chips. They're quite tasty. The burgers are 1/2 pound, so we couldn't finish it.

They have all kinds of Irish food on the menu, like Shepherd's pie, Fish and Chips, Bangers and Mash, and of course, what's more Irish than a taco? Yeah, that's right, they have fish tacos.

They are getting ready for 1/2 way to St. Patrick's Day, which is a very important day here in Scranton. It's like a training day for the real deal. The police make sure the Paddy wagons are in working order, beer production is amped up, and we practice bar fighting and peeing in public. All while the theme from Rocky is playing in the background.

The place is not crowded at all on weekdays for dinner, which is why they have great food specials.

Friday and Saturday nights after 10:00, however it's a madhouse. That's when the kids come out, and it transforms from pub to club. We know this because we attended our nephew's birthday party here last year. Wall to wall twenty somethings. And it was way past our bedtime. I can't even believe we used to do this when we were that age, but we sure did. I can remember not even entertaining the idea of leaving the house before 10:00.

So here we are, music pounding, strobing lights, smelling 20 different kinds of cologne, trying to maneuver through the dense people traffic. I swapped DNA with so many people squeezing through that crowd that I ended up pregnant. No idea who the father is, but he wears Axe Body Spray.

We escape to the outside bar on the second floor, where we see a couple who are about our age. Biker looking people, but we don't feel so out of place next to them, so we sit at a table nearby. We strike up a conversation and they seem like nice people. But then the guy expresses amazement at the fact that we are out in public as a same sex couple and that we don't appear to be ashamed!  I'm not kidding. He said this. Danelle was winding up to give this guy a verbal kick in the nuts, so I dragged her out of there.

A word about the service. It's slow. But unless you're at lunch on a workday, who cares? Just simmer down and have a drink and wait for your food like civilized human beings, for crying out loud. Talk to the person you're with. Talk to the people next to you.
The food is good. Not great, but good, dependable food for a decent price. It's the kind of place you should go to once a week. It's a great place to have a drink. So do it! And stay out of the restrooms. You have no idea what people are doing in there.

Friday, March 13, 2015

You Win Some, You Lose Some

This will be a double review. We tried two new places within one week!

First: Big Earls

Big Earls used to be the Moosic Diner. Big Earls sounds like a place that might serve squirrel or possum, so naturally, we were a little apprehensive.

The first thing you see when you arrive all the white girls are saying this season, "I can't even." Just this.

I gotta tell you, we're not big fans of diner food (it all starts to taste the same after a while), but we are definitely fans of this sign. I mean Jesus, look at it. LOOK AT IT! YOU CAN'T LOOK AWAY, CAN YOU?

It's a real diner, the inside is nice; it looks like they recently had the booths and counter seats reupholstered, and it's nice and clean. The servers are pleasant.

Danelle ordered the French dip, and I had the chicken cheese steak.

We are sorry to report that these were unsatisfying. Danelle said that the meat on the French dip was dry, and there were a few times she had to spit out some gristle. She was discreet about it, though. I don't want you to think we're barbarians.

My chicken cheesesteak was also a little on the dry side, and they skimped on the cheese. The waffle sweet potato fries were excellent, though.

I want to give this place another chance, perhaps for breakfast. Danelle's ambivalent, though. It may be that we just chose the wrong things, or the cook was having an off night.
Anyway, Danelle gives this place a thumbs down and I give it a thumb somewhere between up and down.

Next: Winner's Circle

Winner's Circle is an interesting place on Main St. in Taylor.

When we heard it was NASCAR themed, I knocked out a couple of the old lady's teeth in the parking lot so we'd fit in. Then we grew mullets, and went in.

The Winner's Circle is actually the name of the restaurant, and the bar is called the Johnny Vegas Lounge.   Now this sign is very cool.

We ate at the bar, as we almost always do wherever we go, to avoid the screaming baby factor. It works.

So yeah, it's NASCAR themed.

I don't know what's going on here.

The place is actually pretty neat; the bar is like a garage. One wall opens up like a garage door, and in the summer it's like an open air kind of thing where the bar melds with the patio. The owner, Brent (who is a very nice guy) tells us they have a smoker set up in the summer. They have music in the bar a few nights a week. There is also a pool table.

The coasters are fun.

The menu is standard bar fare: Wings, burgers, sandwiches, salads and a few interesting specials like pierogis. We ordered hot dogs. Don't judge. You know you want a gourmet hot dog right now. And besides, everyone knows that lips and assholes are the tastiest part of the animal. Whatever animal hot dogs are made of.

Danelle's dog was called the  Mister Excitement. For some reason, she was sheepish to ask for it by name, so she said "I'll have the hot dog wrapped in bacon with cheese sauce."

I had "The Mayor". This is a dog with sautéed onions and peppers and home fries.

As hot dogs go, these were the best hot dogs we've ever had. Ever. Anywhere. The food is very inexpensive, and so is the beer.

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by this establishment. We will be back.

It's getting to be the busy season at work for me, dear readers (look at me, assuming I have readers) and so these reviews will be less frequent. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ale Mary's

Ale Mary's after work on a Friday night is like a frat house party. Wall-to-wall people, loud music, lots of drinking, guys in togas - well, ok, there were no guys in togas, but it was kind of crazy. We come here a lot, but never on weekend evenings, so this was a bit of culture shock for us.

It's located in beautiful downtown Scranton on Franklin Street, in the Bittenbender building. It's a cool old building with lots of personality and ambiance. The crowd was diverse; young and old, hipsters, nerds, and even a guy in a wheelchair pounding beers like nobody's business.

There are TVs all around the place, like most bars in Scranton, which I never understood. And they're always on sports channels. And nobody is ever paying attention to them (unless it's the Superbowl, World Series, or playoff games). Why not put on shows that people actually watch at home? Like reality shows about midgets, or zombie shows or shows about people trying to sell other people's crap that they bought in a nasty storage locker? I prefer no TV at all where I eat, but maybe I'm in the minority.

It's one of those places that has a million kinds of beers, so by the time you're done perusing the list, it's actually too late to have a beer. Or if you're like us, you get so overwhelmed by the selection that you can't decide, and end up ordering a Blue Moon.

Onto the most important part of any restaurant, the food. Last week, I was able to access the menu online; this week it's gone. But I can tell you that they have some very creative items on the menu - combinations you would never think of putting together, like Reuben wontons - corned beef, sauerkraut, swiss, and thousand islands dressing, or the duck and gouda cheesesteak.

The last time we went, Danelle had the sliders (without a doubt the single least adventurous thing on the menu) and I had something called the Couch Potato. This is homemade gnocchi sautéed with butter and bacon and onions.

I can't even begin to describe to you how good this is. It's so good I want to fuck it. From behind. Like a dude.

We've had the mac and cheese in the past. It's pretty good, but it has a really spicy kick to it.

Public service announcement: Don't order the pulled pork barbequed nachos. This is the only thing we've had here that we didn't like. The bbq sauce is way too sweet. How sweet? I lost four teeth and Danelle went into a diabetic coma, and she doesn't even have diabetes. And it just doesn't work over salty nachos.

The service is good; a bit slow when it's busy, but this is something that never bothers us, as we're just relaxing and having a drink while we wait for our food. The servers are pleasant and friendly.

Our recommendation: Go. Eat. Drink. Watch TV if you must. Try something exotic. And report back.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Brooklyn Pub

We decided to have a girls night out with some friends at The Brooklyn Pub. As Danelle and I were getting ready we were practicing our Brooklynese.

Me: Yo, notfuhnuttinbut I'm dyin for some fish n chips ova heeya.

Danelle: Are you seriously going to wear that?

Me: What are yous busting my bools ova heeya, goombah?

But alas, nobody in Brooklyn speaks like this anymore; it's full of white hipsters and is now totally devoid of all personality. It's ironic that hipsters pride themselves for not going with the flow, but the neighborhoods that they take over become full of people exactly like them. But I digress. The Brooklyn Pub is nothing like this. It is chock full of personality.

It's on Chestnut Street in Dunmore. As you approach you can see patio heaters which give the illusion that there's a cozy fire on the patio. It's super cute.

The above photo is from their Facebook page. It's a little different looking for the winter yet still inviting. We wanted to take our own picture, but it would have meant standing outside in 0 degree weather without a glove trying to take a good pic in the dark.

Inside is tastefully decorated as well. It used to be Gubbio's and was pretty dated, but the new owner George Kelly polished it up nicely. He said it cost him thousands of dollars to remove the stench of cigarette smoke from the place, and of course made it a non-smoking establishment.  If you want to know how I feel about it still being legal to smoke inside of bar/restaurants here, see my previous blog post
Anyway, George is actually from New York, and he's the nicest guy you will ever meet.

The place is bi-leveled: the lower level is the bar and the upper is a cozy room with a pool table as the main focus and a few high top tables.

The menu is comfort foods, mostly. Fish and chips, mac n' cheese, burgers, paninis, salads, oh, and check this out - pierogis! They also sometimes have shepherd's pie as a special. 
We all had the fish n' chips except for Lynne, who had the scallops. They use fresh cod, which is quite a coup for Dunmore, and it was delicious.

Lynne said her scallops were good. They came on a bed of fettuccine, so of course our favorite Italian had to ask for a spoon to "eat it properly".  I don't get this and never have. Each mouthful seems like so much work. When Danelle and I told her that we cut our pasta, the record stopped. She looked at us like we just pooped on the table. Seriously. I'm not even sure if we're still friends. She had that "You're dead to me" look in her eyes.
I also ask for a fork when there are only chopsticks on the table. Nothing must slow down the delivery of food to my mouth. Nothing.

They have a decent selection of beer on tap. 16 varieties, I think. Their happy hour specials are pretty good: $5 martinis and $1.00 off all beers. The staff is competent and friendly. See, we're not impossible to please!

They have a Valentine's Day dinner special (as does every restaurant in town), which means we will be having dinner at home tonight. Anyway, you can check out the menu and specials on their Facebook page:

To summarize, good food, good people, nice ambiance. Put this place on your must visit list. You'll love it, I promise!


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Nonno's Pizza

Nonno's Pizza in Moosic is across the road from the Montage movie theater. This may explain why it was absolutely packed when we went there.
Our intention was to grab a quick bite to eat before meeting family for drinks. That's not what happened. Let me tell you all about it.

We go in and it's a full house, so we have to wait maybe 15 minutes for a table. That leaves plenty of time to take in the ambiance, or lack thereof. I would describe this place as neutral. It's big, with a vaulted ceiling. The floor tiles are brown slate, the walls are off white, the tables are brown, the booth upholstery is beige. And the walls are totally bare. Not one picture. I entertained myself by reading the exit sign over and over. Probably the most non-inviting place we've ever been to. And it's chilly, so after coming in from the winter cold and expecting warm relief, you just never really get it.

Finally we're seated. I order iced tea and Danelle orders a Shiner Bock. The server comes back with my tea but not the beer. Ten minutes later and still no beer. So Danelle flags down the server as she's whizzing by and asks if they forgot about the beer. The server shrugs her shoulders and with a there's-nothing-I-can-do-about-it look says, "I'm waiting on the bartender for that." Really? For a bottled beer? Ok, five minutes later the beer appears.

As we peruse the menu, I realize that the reason for the crowds are the low prices. This is definitely the cheapest Italian place we've ever seen.

I ordered the Old Forge style pizza and Danelle ordered eggplant parmesan. After about 15 more minutes Danelle's salad and bread arrives. The rolls are good; they're warm and taste like onion and herbs. Here's me eating like a caveman because we didn't get bread plates.

We dared not ask for any because we could all be dead by time we got them. It wasn't just that she forgot to bring out plates - it's just not their policy to use them, based on looking around at other people's tables. And don't get me started on the salad. Seriously, I can write a whole blog post on the salad atrocities committed by restaurants. I'm saving that for another post.

Finally, (by now we have some long, thick flowing beards) the food arrives! We got here at 5:30, and were supposed to meet family at 7:00. It's now 7:00.
The pizza is good. Not great, good. Danelle's portion of eggplant parm is tremendous. It's roughly the size of a newborn baby. And it comes with salad and pasta or fries.
But here's the thing: it's clearly been microwaved. There are really hot spots and really cold spots, so it's not all that enjoyable. But she did say it was good flavor wise.

As I write these reviews, I wonder, are we just picky bitches who are impossible to please? No! No I tell you! We would forgive slow service if the food was great, or if it was a real cool place to hang out, but this place had none of that going on.

I must mention one really cool aspect of this place: they sell six-packs of beer to go! If you're from another state, you're thinking, "So? Big deal!" If you're from Pennsatucky, you know this is a big deal. Nobody here does that, because of some ancient puritanical alcohol laws that are still on the books.  I don't know who they had to blow to make it legal, but I hope all pizza places follow suit.

Anyway, we finally get out of there and meet my sister and her husband at the Brooklyn Pub in Dunmore, which turns out to be the polar opposite of Nanno's. It's an awesome place that will be the subject of the next post. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bar Hill - A Long Overdue Review

This is our very favorite place to be. We love it so much that we got married here. Seriously! And we highly recommend getting married in a bar.

Located on the corner of Prescott and Ash Streets in the Hill Section of Scranton, it's a small place with great ambiance. Cozy, inviting, and friendly. It's a wonderful place to have drinks with friends. Even if you go alone, you will probably end up having a conversation with others at the bar. They have acoustic music on certain nights. Usually on Thursday, Nowhere Slow plays. They're really good. We rarely stay there past 9:00, though. I've found that from 5:00 to 9:00 the more mature crowd hangs out, and then the young hipsters come in for the music later.

This is what they call a small plate restaurant. Eric Piccotti, the owner, wanted to classify it as a tapas restaurant, but here in Scranton, foreign words are scary. Here is a typical reaction of a Scrantonian hearing the term "tapas":

Stosh: Tapas!? Jesus Haich Christ, what are yas in a turd world country?
Yosh: Haina or no?

When (not if) you go, you should try the lobster nachos. Dear God, there are no words. If you find yourself licking the plate, do not feel self conscious. It's expected.
We like the specials. Every day they do a different soup, salad, Panini and bruschetta.

If good help really is hard to find, then Bar Hill got incredibly lucky, because every single person who works there is exceptional. They're more than staff to us; they are our friends. And a good-looking bunch, aren't they?


As bartenders, they are pretty creative and feature a different original drink every night. Last night I decompressed with Sean's Raspberry Surprise Martini. Okay, so I had three of them. On an empty stomach. They use fresh ingredients in their drinks and they don't even have crappy bottom shelf liquor. This place is classy. We're not. That's why we love it here; it makes us feel classy.

Also gotta give a shout out to the owners Peggy and Eric Piccotti. They are the coolest and kindest people you could ever meet. And that's what sets this place apart from the rest. They make you feel like family.

So don't waste your time in shitty dive bars getting cancer from second hand smoke. Go to Bar Hill. Now. Hurry! And like them on facebook!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

No Soup For You!

Still no kitchen. It's been a year of building one from scratch. And it's going to kick ass when it's finally done. It will be the greenest, leanest, cleanest kitchen in town. New concrete floor with radiant heat, state-of-the-art boiler and tankless, on-demand hot water heater, the latest advancement of spray foam insulation. And finally the drywall is going up. We're doing it ourselves, so it may take a while.
In the meantime, though, we still have to dine out. And it is getting so very old. I proposed living off of cereal, but Danelle put the kibash on that.
We've eaten at some really great places, but also at a lot of duds. Which got me thinking: what makes a restaurant a dud? Aside from bad food or service, we've compiled a list of annoying, stupid, or vile things that these establishments are guilty of.

1.   Sub-zero temperatures. Why do they do this? Have you ever walked into a restaurant in the middle of summer in your shorts only to find that the place is so cold you can hang meat in there? (Not that there's any hanging meat when we're around. I'm not gonna lie, we're pretty hot. Except when we're cold).

2.   The table has been wiped with a rag that smells like ass. No explanation needed here.

3.   Wobbly tables. Is it really going to break the bank to buy a few !^%#@& wedges?

4.   Crappy off brand coffee and tea. This can really ruin breakfast. Danelle is a coffee drinker and I drink tea.  Speaking of tea, how about water that has actually been boiled so that the tea can steep properly? Can't tell you how many places put the water through the coffeemaker then put it on the warmer plate. Fail.

5.   Crappy soda. Of course I'm talking about RC and Diet Rite. Or places that mix and match the tap lines (and don't clean them) so that root beer tastes like Sprite or vice versa.

6.  Seating you in the screaming baby section. And if you think that asking to be seated in the bar will put you away from the screaming babies, you are wrong. Babies in our area love the bar. This is where they get their training. We also love being seated next to the trashcan or right on top of other diners, even when there are tons of other available seats in the restaurant.

7.   Ambiance: No music or country music. I don't know which is worse. Ok, country music is worse than no music. But no music makes the experience just plain creepy.

8.   No soap in the bathroom. Really? But...employees must wash hands before leaving restroom. No soap.....really??? Eeeew.

9.   A teeny, tiny, miniscule dab of butter between two huge pieces of dry toast. Why bother? Nobody's going to eat dry, boring toast. You wouldn't eat your toast like this at home, Mr. Cook, so why do you think we enjoy this?

10.  The Bum's Rush. The food arrives and then 10 seconds later, the check.

There you have it; a year's worth of frustration. But I'd like to end on a positive note.

Last night we ate ate La Tonalteca in Dickson City, in front of the Viewmont Mall. We love it there! And Wednesday night is $2.99 Margarita night. We thought that since they were so cheap that they wouldn't be strong, but were we ever mistaken. I couldn't even write the review when we got home, because it ended up sounding like incoherent rambling. Or like something Michelle Bachmann would say. Anyway, after one drink my toes were warm. And the food is pretty darn good too.

We've actually been to many other good places that need to be reviewed, but I don't get a chance to blog often anymore, because we are busy with the drywall, spackle and studs. Oh the life of two girls with no kitchen.