Tag Archives: Food Review

Hole in the Wall Reviews: BBQ Chicken Pizza from Il Forno Pizzeria

From time to time it is essential to break away from the chain restaurants that we see on every street corner, in every city.  To be able to find a local food joint that offers up some great grub can be like finding buried treasure.  These local places get by from word of mouth and not heavy advertising.  A good example of this is the BBQ Chicken Pizza over at Il Forno in Frederick, MD.  So here’s some word of mouth, you just have to try it.

BBQ Chicken Pizza from Il Forno 1 (Frederick, MD)

Back in February, GrubGrade featured Il Forno as being a recently made-over local northern Maryland favorite.  It’s definitely one of my favorites when I’m in the mood for some great wood-fired pizza.  If you are ever in the area, give it a shot.  Il Forno pizzas are made with whole milk mozzarella and fresh ingredients.  The BBQ Chicken Pizza doesn’t overload you with different toppings.  Less is more with this specific pizza.  The pizza consists of barbeque sauce, whole milk mozzarella cheese and hearty chunks of chicken on their hand-tossed dough.  Although I mentioned “less is more” with this pizza, that’s only when speaking of the variety of toppings.  The truth is, this pizza is packed with quality morsels of chicken in every delicious bite.  The mozzarella cheese drowns the chunks of chicken and it’s melted together as if they were made for one another.  Although the chicken and cheese are great, the true winner is found in the BBQ sauce.  The sauce is what separates a good BBQ chicken pizza from an amazing one.  Il Forno’s BBQ sauce is tangy, sweet and is the secret to what makes this some of the best pizza you’ll find in the area.

BBQ Chicken Pizza from Il Forno 2 (Frederick, MD)It’s no mystery that I’m a huge fan of this pizza.  At a price tag of $6.99 for a 10″ (Small), it’s also an exceptional value.  If you haven’t yet tried a BBQ chicken pizza, you might not want to try another after you’ve had this one.  If you are ever in the area, treat yourself to some Il Forno and you’ll be a believer.

  • Pros– Great tasting BBQ sauce.  Chicken in every bite.  Great value.
  • Cons– Pizza crust sometimes can be a little too chewy.  Wood-fired oven may be to blame for an over-baked crust once in a blue moon.

BBQ Chicken Pizza small slice from Il Forno  (Frederick, MD)Taste: 9.75/10

Value: 9.00/10

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GrubGrade: 9.50/10 (GG Hall of Famer)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $6.99 (10″)  $12.25 (13″)  $13.99 (15″)

Check them out:

IlFornoPizzeria.com

1035 West Patrick Street

Frederick, Maryland 21702

301-846-0422

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Hitting the Road: Burger Bar in Roy, Utah

Written by Adam, GrubGrade Contributor

Utah’s Burger Bar

I’ll admit it; I’m a sucker for anything on Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives. From small town bars featuring only a handful of tables to well-known and nostalgic looking American diners, Food Network’s latest hit is sure to satisfy both the appetites and curiosity of travelers from the east coast, west coast, and everywhere in between. And while it’s true that I may not share host Guy Fieri‘s appetite for a seemingly endless array of fried regional specialties, overstuffed south-of-the-border classics, or even such All-American standbys as biscuits and gravy, I nevertheless try to follow in his footsteps whenever possible.

Guy Fieri from Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Recently I had one such opportunity, as a spring break ski trip took me just north of Salt Lake City, Utah to the suburb of Roy. Literally situated beneath the backdrop of roaring F-18 fighter jets from nearby Hill Air Force base, the Burger Bar has a serious reputation amongst local servicemen and women (as well as college students from nearby Weber State) for juicy beef burgers, can’t-miss fries, and classic milk shakes which are sure to please any day of the week or hour of the day.

Burger Bar in Roy, Utah

Yet I didn’t detour the hour from Salt Lake just to get just any burger. In fact, I came specifically to try one of the Bar’s signature specialties. Ever since I had seen the road-side restaurant featured on “Triple D” I knew I had wanted one of their Elk Burgers. A longtime fan of Elk’s similarly lean cousin the Bison, I nevertheless couldn’t remember ever having a burger made from elk despite my longtime practice of ordering Bison burgers every chance I’ve had. This being the case I approached the Burger Bar with a good deal of excitement, a feeling only reinforced when I pulled up on an overcast afternoon.

Burger Bar Menu

My first impressions of the place was that it had a very expansive menu for its size. Not only can you get all kinds of beef burgers, but you can also get hot dogs, chicken sandwiches (breaded or grilled), steak sandwiches, fish sandwiches, ‘exotic’ meats like Bison or Elk, as well as a whole compliment of shakes, malts, and freezes. Heck, they even have non-fat frozen yogurt, BBQ sandwiches, veggie burgers, and chili if you’re game.

Lunch

Intrigued as I was, I came for the Elk and was resolute to stick to my choice as I approached the window. One thing to mention is that the burgers are not cooked to order.  In fact, you have to specify “no sauce” if you want to skip the fry sauce, which as Guy points out on his show is actually akin to Thousand Island salad dressing. Having specified that I wanted only the standard lettuce and tomato on my burger, I anxiously awaited its arrival despite being somewhat weary of not getting to specify the degree of doneness to the lady at the window.

The wait seemed to take forever, and it does not help that there is no indoor seating at the Burger Bar or that the staff seemed exceptionally slow in filling my family’s order. Once the food arrived however all was forgotten, as my Elk Burger came dressed in a firm but soft potato bun with tomatoes and shredded lettuce. A healthy dose of ketchup came with the meal in the form of those tiny plastic containers everyone loves, as did extra “fry sauce” and a side order of crispy french fries which comes with your order.

Elk Burger and Fry Sauce

So how did the burger taste exactly? And was my trip to Roy a success? Once more, could the ‘lean and mean’ Elk really matchup to the fattier beef burger as the segment on Triple D suggested? Not to worry, as I’ve got your review covered. Here are the essentials…

The Burger Bar: Elk Burger

Taste: 9.00/10. This was not a dry burger despite my worry, and it had a good “beefy” taste despite not being beef. It was somewhat bland on its own though, and depending on your tolerance for condiments may benefit from some fixings. The lettuce and tomato work well with it, as did my ketchup/mustard combo administered separately. I’m sure “fry sauce” probably makes it great if you’re into that sort of thing, but I’m not and still found the burger to really hit the spot. Personally I find most burgers (beef or otherwise) bland without ketchup and mustard, so relatively speaking this burger had great taste when handled the way I like it.

Value: 7.50/10. At $5.25 you’re getting a decent sized burger of a premium meat that you usually don’t get the opportunity to experience. The fact that you get fries and extra condiments along with that makes this a good deal. Other menu items seem to be well priced as well. Still, I can’t afford to be paying $5.25 for a burger everyday, especially when getting it without fries is not an option.

Nutrition: 8.00/10. Is the Elk burger really less than “two grams of fat” as described on the show? Well, considering your average-sized and horribly dry chicken breast has about that much fat I’d probably guess no, but undoubtedly elk is still leaner and a better healthy eating option than its ground beef counterpart. And with a great taste and good value what more could you want?

GrubGrade: I’m giving this burger an 8.50/10 overall. I really liked it, and if given the chance would easily buy it again. I thought it tasted just as good, if not better, than any classic beef burger you could get at a place like this, and definitely benefited from its status as an “exotic meat” attraction. The fact that it’s healthier than beef but still has that unmistakable “red meat taste” only makes it all the more awesome in my mind, as does its relative value. My only issue was with the lack of customization the customer has over its cooking, as well as the relatively long-wait on an otherwise slow day. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled by sit-down style Bison Burgers which typically come medium, but I just felt like the burger could have gone from “great” to “freaking amazing” if cooked differently. That and it would benefit from char-grilling as opposed to being cooked over a flattop.

If you’re not feeling too adventurous, the menu is big enough to cater to those looking for something less exotic.  If you’re up for a challenge, take a shot at the huge burger called simply “Big Ben”.  The Burger Bar is a must see whenever you’re around Salt Lake City, with the restaurant’s Elk burger making my short list of foods to try while in Utah.  

Check them out:

5291 S 1900 W
Roy, UT 84067
(801) 825-8961

Fast Food Review: BK Big Fish Sandwich from Burger King

It’s Friday and that means another fast food fish review.  Last week we focused on the Premium Fish Fillet Sandwich from Wendy’s and today we unfortunately take a step down.  Introducing the bigger, but not better, BK Big Fish Sandwich from Burger King.

BK Big Fish Sandwich from Burger King 1First off, the “Big Fish” title holds true.  There is some pretty decent weight to this sandwich.  By no means humongous, at least this sandwich dwarfs the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish.  With a price of $3.09, I felt it was a pretty good value for the size.  I think I’ll stop there with the positives.  Turns out this “Big Fish” was a “Big Disappointment”.  On looks alone, the bun looks to be quality.  Truthfully, the bread is overwhelmingly dry.  It makes the entire sandwich have more of a bread taste than a fish taste.  Maybe that’s a good thing because the breaded fish patty wasn’t all that much better.  It looks like a thick tile you could patch a hole in your roof with.  The white fish “tile” seemed to be a little undercooked and I can’t figure out how that’s possible from a deep fried patty.  You’re better off finding something in the frozen food seafood section than with the BK Big Fish.  The tartar sauce tasted OK, but it couldn’t help the overall dryness of the sandwich.  The lettuce is what I’d expect from Burger King lettuce, limp and pale.

BK Big Fish Sandwich from Burger King 2

I’ve had the BK Big Fish Sandwich in the past and it never really impressed me.  Disappointing, considering Burger King is among my favorites as far as fast food goes.  This fish sandwich is just too dry.  Catch and release is my recommendation.

  • Pros– As advertised, BK’s”Big Fish” is big.  Not too pricey at $3.09, especially for the size.  The corn dusted bun fits the size of the fish patty well, preventing a mess of a meal.  Decent tartar sauce.
  • Cons– Bun is too dry.  Fish patty is pretty bland.  Limp lettuce.  Bigger isn’t better when it isn’t the most appetizing fish sandwich in the fast food world.

BK Big Fish Sandwich from Burger King 4

BK Big Fish Sandwich from Burger King 4

Taste: 5.25/10

Value: 8.00/10

Grubbing on the Go: 7.75/10

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GrubGrade: 5.50/10  (Mediocre)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $3.09

BurgerKing.com

Nutrition Facts – BK Big Fish Sandwich

Calories – 640
Calories from Fat – n/a
Total Fat – 32 grams
Saturated Fat – 6 grams
Trans Fat – 2.5 grams
Cholesterol – 65 milligrams
Sodium – 1450 milligrams
Carbs – 67 grams
Dietary fiber – 3 grams
Sugar – 9 grams
Protein – 24 grams

Fast Food Review: New Roast Chicken Club Sandwich from Arby’s

Last week I posted that Arby’s has expanded their menu with some interesting new offerings.  Today I gave Arby’s new Roast Chicken Club Sandwich a try.

Roast Chicken Club from Arby's 1Unfortunately, there’s nothing too special to report back.  The sandwich consists of sliced oven-roasted chicken, pepper bacon, swiss cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomato and something called “chicken addition sauce”.  All crammed between a soft roll.  The Arby’s ad claims it’s a toasted roll, but mine was not.  Not sure if it would’ve changed my opinion of the sandwich at all.  I was pretty disappointed with this new sandwich.  It wasn’t bad, but it seems like a huge step back from Arby’s stellar line of Market Fresh Sandwiches.  The Market Fresh menu of sandwiches at Arby’s is a real winner and it’s unfortunate that this newcomer will stay in it’s shadow.  If this Roast Chicken Club made it into the Market Fresh family, it would benefit from better bread and a heftier weight all around.  This sandwich alone is priced at $3.99 and it struggled to satiate.  There just wasn’t enough food to be worth the price.  The “chicken addition sauce” was zesty and the pepper bacon was crisp and tasty.  These two ingredients provide the bulk of the flavor in this sandwich.  The swiss cheese was barely noticeable.  

Roast Chicken Club Sandwich from Arby's 2While far from bad, the new Roast Chicken Club from Arby’s failed to make a great lasting impression with me.  It’s a very average sandwich.  Maybe the new Roastburger line has something better to offer.  Stick with a great thing Arby’s, the Marketfresh family of sandwiches is hard to top.

  • Pros– Tasty bacon.  Pretty good zesty “chicken addition sauce”.  Fresh ingredients.  Plastic shell packaging.
  • Cons–  The mediocrity is loud and clear.  Not very filling.  Lackluster value.  Swiss cheese is barely noticeble.  Mess of shredded lettuce.

Roast Chicken Club Sandwich from Arby's 3Taste: 7.25/10

Value: 5.50/10

Grubbing on the Go: 6.75/10

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GrubGrade: 6.50/10  (Average)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price:  $3.99

Arbys.com

Fast Food Review: P’Zone from Pizza Hut

It’s seems as though the well has run dry with new and inventive pizzas.  Creative ideas such as “stuffed crust pizza” are great, but these gimmicks come and go all the time.  The big 3…Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Papa John’s continuously duke it out for pizza supremacy.  Pizza Hut looks to take an edge with their P’Zone.

Pizza Hut P'Zone Box

As I’m sure everyone knows, the P’Zone is simply a variety of calzone.  Weighing in at around 1.07 pounds, the P’Zone (introduced in 2002) makes itself known as a heavyweight.  Printed on the side of the box is a caution of “Heavy Lifting Required”.  Each P’Zone is made with a folded 12-inch traditional crust, a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese and a choice of three different ingredient combinations: (Pepperoni) jam packed with pepperoni; (Meaty) includes pepperoni, sausage, seasoned beef and ham; (Classic) sausage with green peppers and red onions.  Each P’Zone is served with a generous portion of marinara sauce.  A nice change from the standard pizza, the P’Zone is more of a personal item than a shareable.  At a price tag of $6.99 for one or $12.99 if you order two, the P’Zone has recently gone up in price by at least a dollar.

Classic P'Zone from Pizza Hut (side view)P'Zone halves with marinara

Fun fact about the P’Zone, competitive eating champion Joey Chestnutt currently holds the world record of eating 4.82 pounds (4 and 1/2 P’Zones) in 6 minutes.  Watch the video.  All 3 P’Zone options offer something to satisfy your hunger while pleasing your taste buds.  I believe whether you choose the Pepperoni, Meaty or Classic you are assured to be filled up and happy.  

  • Pros–  Flavorful crust.  Satisfies a big hunger.  3 filling options.  Side of marinara sauce.
  • Cons–  Recent price increase.  No customization.  

Full P'Zone and marinaraTaste: 9.25/10

Value: 6.75/10

Grubbing on the Go: 7.50/10

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GrubGrade: 9.00/10  (Exceptional)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $6.99

PizzaHut.com

Fast Food Review: The Chargrilled and Fruit Salad from Chick-fil-A

Fruit salad tags along with Chick-fil-A’s Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad to create an interesting hybrid of colorful items.  Introducing the Chargrilled and Fruit Salad from Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A Chargrilled and Fruit Salad 1

Chick-fil-A uses a nice array of fresh ingredients to stock up this salad.  Slices of grilled chicken breast sit atop a blend of romaine and iceberg lettuce.  Also in the mix you’ll find shredded red cabbage, carrots and a blend of Monterrey Jack and Cheddar cheese. All these ingredients are typical of Chick-fil-A Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad.  This new twist on a menu regular adds in a nice blend of fresh fruit.  A very refreshing variety of fruits join this salad including strawberry slices, red grapes, red and green slices of apple and a some decent sized mandarin orange slices.  I really enjoyed the included packet of crunchy harvest nut granola.  I recommend the granola as it packs a nice sweetness to the experience.

CFA Chargrilled and Fruit Salad 2

So if you’ve been feeling guilty about that diet you promised yourself to stick with, this salad is worth checking out.  Virtually guilt-free (but watch the salad dressing) the Chargrilled and Fruit Salad from Chick-fil-A is an interesting addition to the restaurants quality offerings.

  • Pros– Great variety of ingredients.  The contents rank among the highest in quality in the fast food world.  Made fresh daily.  Sturdy packaging (good for re-refrigeration)
  • Cons– Price of $5.55 might be a little steep for a fast food lunch/dinner.  Figuring out what dressing goes well with the variety of ingredients.

Chargrilled and Fruit Salad 4

Taste: 9.0/10

Value: 7.0/10

Grubbing on the Go: 5.50/10

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GrubGrade: 8.75/10  (Very Good)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $5.55 

Chick-fil-A.com

Fast Food Review: New Bacon Cheddar Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell

While Taco Bell can be hit or miss with their new limited time offerings, one thing is for sure, the value menu is a winner. The inexpensive variety of value menu items is something that Taco Bell does better than most fast food chains. I’ve been burned in the past with new, more expensive, “featured” items.  This one caught my eye.  A twist on the original Cheesy Gordita Crunch, Taco Bell now introduces the Bacon Cheddar Gordita Crunch.

img_03752

The original Cheesy Gordita Crunch made it’s debut in 2002. In my opinion, it remains one of the best “new” offerings in Taco Bell’s 40+ year history.  The new Bacon Cheddar Gordita Crunch boasts “Bacon and Cheddar make it better!” Well I’m here to declare…”not really”. The good thing is, the original is so fantastic, this new spin doesn’t hurt it too bad.

img_03792

The Bacon Cheddar Gordita Crunch switches things up from the original by adding bits of bacon to the cheese spackle that separates the hard shell from the gordita shell. Another added feature is the switch from pepperjack sauce to a zesty southwest cheddar sauce. The zesty southwest cheddar sauce was a flavorful, pleasant surprise. While I am a fan of bacon, I felt that the bacon was a little off-putting. There’s just a lot going on.  The only thing I would expect to get at Taco Bell where bacon was a nice addition, would be in past items such as the Chicken Club Chalupa. The chicken/bacon combo just works alot better than ground beef and bacon.  While definitely not bad, it seemed somewhat forced to add bacon.  I just don’t understand why the original Cheesy Gordita Crunch can’t make a triumphant return and become a menu standard.  It was a hit wasn’t it?

img_03852

There is a lot going on with the Bacon Cheddar Gordita Crunch from Taco Bell, maybe just a tad too much. All in all though, at a reasonably priced $2.69 it was satisfying and quite tasty.

  • Pros– Holds together a lot better than a hard shell alone.  Full of flavor.  Inexpensive.
  • Cons– The addition of bacon doesn’t work with ground beef like it does with chicken.  Leaves you missing the original Gordita Crunch.

Bacon Cheddar Gordita Crunch 4

Taste:  8.75/10

Value:  9.25/10

Grubbing on the Go:  8.25/10

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GrubGrade: 9.00/10  (Exceptional)

(Overall GrubGrade is not an average)

Price: $2.69

Tacobell.com

Nutrition – 

Bacon Cheddar Gordita Crunch

Bacon Cheddar Gordita Crunch