Brooklyn, NY: It’s The Little Things That Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth


Hamilton’s
2826 Fort Hamilton Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Between 5th Street 4th Street
Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Flatbush
Phone: (718) 438-0488
Prices: $$$$

As Roseanne Roseannadanna always said, “It’s always something, if it’s not one thing, it’s another” ….

It is the little things that stand out in your mind, good or bad, that shade your opinion of a place. In Hamilton’s case, it was a mere 50¢. More on that later.
We sat outside after being seated for 10 minutes before a server arrived to greet us, but when she did, I ordered a Bell’s Two Hearted IPA , but all the drafts are $6-$7, MUCH LESS than most places in the NYC metro and they have a GREAT SELECTION. I had to hunt down another server because ours was nowhere to be found, ordering a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog (also $6 on the menu), but after another 10 minutes our food had arrived and still no Smuttynose, so I reminded our server. It arrived 5 minutes later while my dinner cooled whether it needed to or not.
My wife ordered the large Salty Pretzel ($4) and a Mac and Cheese appetizer ($8). The Mac and Cheese arrived with my sandwich, but we had to remind the server about her pretzel which took an additional 5 minutes to arrive. The pretzel was good, but it was hot from the oven and too crunchy, not warm, soft, and chewy as a good pretzel should be. The mac and cheese was tasty and a decent size portion for an appetizer.
My Reuben Sandwich ($15) was piled high with “house made corned beef”, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing. It was very good overall, but the house made corned beef had a slightly strange aftertaste which I could not quite put my finger on, or my tongue in this case. The accompanying potato wedges were scarce, but decent, nothing special.
When the check arrived, I have to admit that it was one of the smallest totals we have seen since arriving in NYC, but the Smuttynose was listed at $7 instead of the $6 stated on the menu. I called our server over, showed her the menu and the check, and asked her to make the correction to the $1 error. Those things happen. But when she came back, she had NOT deducted the $1 error, but had discounted the check by a mere 50¢! Rather than argue about the 50¢, I simply deducted it from her 20% tip along with a tad more for her inattention during our meal. After all, it is always the small things folks.

CombatCritic Gives Hamilton’s 5 Bombs Out Of 10 After A 2 Bomb Service and Check Error Deduction … More Bombs Are Better!
Five Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Brooklyn, NY: It’s The Little Things That Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Key Words: Hamilton’s, Hamilton, bar, grill, pub, beer, Brooklyn, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”
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Brooklyn, NY: Superb Pizza Napoletana, Overpriced Beer And Wine … We’re Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy!


Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza

214 Hicks Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Between Montague Street and Remsen Street
Brooklyn Heights
Phone: (718) 858-1010
Website: dellaroccospizza.com


BEST NEAPOLITAN PIZZA I HAVE HAD OUTSIDE OF NAPLES (ITALY), but most expensive beer I have seen in my life. I am torn on my rating for Dellarocco’s because the pizza was wonderful with a thin, soft, yet firm dough, perfectly baked with just the right amount of burnt spots from the 800+ degree brick oven. 
The service was excellent. Sabastion, our server, was attentive enough without hovering or interrupting our conversation and the pizzas arrived post haste as they should from an 800 degree oven. The decor is rather modern, sterile, and boring, not what I would expect in a Brooklyn pizzeria.
I ordered a pint of IPA, but am glad I specified a pint because Sabastion, our server, was nice enough to tell me the $6 IPA was closer to a 1/2 pint than a pint. Where we come from a pint of craft draft ale runs $4-$6, so paying the equivalent of $12 a pint is a non-starter in my book. No beer is worth $12 a pint no matter how good it is or where you are … “We’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!” Wine is equally overpriced by the glass, although there were several bottles in the $30 range, a more reasonable investment.
The toppings on the “Dellarocco” ($16), smoked Buffalo mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sliced sweet Italian sausage, red pepper, garlic, and basil were reminiscent of pizza Napoletana, not too much, not too little. They even had olio picante (EVO infused with red pepper), the perfect accompaniment to my salsiccia e friarielli pizza … buonissimo. This is my go-to pizza when in Naples, so my expectations were not high, however, the Dellarocco was THE BOMB folks! 
My wife had the “Zucchini” (also $16) with the same superb dough topped with a wonderful zucchini cream, mozzarella, thinly sliced smoked prosciutto, and extra virgin olive oil. It was also delicious, light and flavorful with just the right amount of ingredients so you could taste each individually.
The pizzas are even the right size for pizza Napoletana (about 13 inches), unusual in the States where most places serve a 12 inch individual pie. An inch makes all the difference folks (I’ll leave it at that). Their prices are nearly three times what you would pay for a similar pizza in Naples, but this is NYC (Brooklyn actually) and I have seen prices for an individual pizza ranging from $20 to almost $30, so I do not consider Dellarocco’s pizza a bad value. The beer is a different story because I found another place in Brooklyn with several excellent craft draft “pints” in the $6 to $7 range, so stop gouging your customers and lower your beer and wine prices.
CombatCritic Gives Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza 8 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Ridiculously High Beer And Wine Prices … More Bombs Are Better!
Eight Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Dellarocco's of Brooklyn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Brooklyn, NY: Superb Pizza Napoletana, Overpriced Beer And Wine … We’re Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy!

Key Words: Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza, Dellarocco, Dellarocco’s, brick, oven, wood, pizza, pizzeria, Brooklyn, NY, CombatCritic, Napolitana, Neapolitan, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! = “What-The-Fuck … Over!”

Washington DC: Airbnb – Private Suite Near The Capitol


Private Suite Near The Capitol!
1644 Gales Street NE #B
Washington, DC 20002
Host: Kelley And Summer

Prices:
$75 x 6 nights             $450
Cleaning Fees        $10
Airbnb Service Fee    $55
Occupancy Taxes*     $74
Total                       $589


Not sure why we paid $75 per night when the room is advertised at $65, but the room was clean and the price very reasonable for a central location in DC just a 10-15 bus ride from the National Mall. 

Pros: 


1) Easy walk to two buses, the X2 which takes you down H Street to the White House and the X8 which goes down Maryland toward the Capitol, terminating at Union Station (for transfers/Metro).

2) There are Safeway and Aldi supermarkets within a 10-minute walk of the house.

3) The room/bath are private and have nearly everything needed for a short stay (microwave/small fridge/Keurig coffee maker).

4) The neighborhood was relatively clean and people in the area were extremely nice, courteous, and helpful.

5) There are numerous diverse and reasonably priced bars and restaurants along Benning/H Street and within a short walk from the location.

6) There is a washer and dryer in the home (see cons) as well as a laundromat just a block away.

7) The wi-fi was fast, free and reliable. Never had a problem connecting, loading pages, or watching video/movies.

8) We were alone in the home the majority of the time, except for Lola (their sweet chihuahua) who kept us company occasionally, and it was relatively quiet (for a big city).

9) Ample parking on the street near the house and we were provided a city parking pass for our entire stay, never moving the car.

10) No TV

Cons: 


1) No Metro in the area and the X8 bus only runs until a little before 10pm, so plan returns wisely.

2) The room/bath are small and there is no place to put clothes. We had to keep everything in our suitcases, storing one under the bed and one on the sofa, leaving only one space on the sofa and the bed on which to sit. If you have a lot of luggage (more than one or two bags), this may not be a good option for you. 

3) The neighborhood is a bit on the rough side. The homes in the area are somewhat run-down compared to areas near the Mall and we observed some rather “sketchy” characters (I won’t elaborate on what they were probably doing) around the laundromat two blocks away on Benning. A man we met at a bus stop told us that someone was robbed at gunpoint one evening just two blocks from the house. However, we felt relatively safe and welcome in the area, and were not concerned about our safety, even after dark.

4) We were “discouraged” from doing laundry in the home due to complaints of “high water usage” by Airbnb travelers.

5) We were alone the majority of the time, but it would have been nice to meet both of our hosts (we met Summer on day one for a few minutes), get to know them a little (one of the perks of Airbnb), and get some “local flavor” and tidbits about the area and city. 

6) No TV

CombatCritic Gives Kelley And Summer’s Private Suite 7 Bombs Out Of 10

Seven Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Washington DC: Airbnb – Private Suite Near The Capitol

Key Words: Airbnb, Washington DC, Washington, DC, Kelley, Summer, private, suite, Capitol, US, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, accommodation, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

Philadelphia, PA: This Place Is The Real Deal Folks … Luigi’s Is THE BOMB!


Luigi’s Pizza Fresca
2401 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Fairmount, Art Museum District
Phone: (215) 769-8888
Prices: $$$$
The owner, Luigi, is from Naples (Italy), my wife’s hometown, so he knows how to cook proper Italian. The food is incredible, the portions huge, and the prices extremely fair.
We found Luigi’s after a short visit to Eastern State Penitentiary, just down the street a few blocks (they are also just a few blocks east of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). A simple place, it looks like a takeout pizza joint where you can get a slice and a soda and sit if you want, but the menu is much more extensive than you might think. Beside pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and salads, they offer chicken parmigiana, veal parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, and chicken cacciatore, all $10.95, including a large side of pasta ($2.50 more for gnocchi, tortellini, or ravioli).

My wife had a panino (singular – “panini” is actually plural in Italian), the Four Season ($8.95) with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, oregano, and basil on fresh focaccia and an order of fries ($3.50). The panino was very big and delicious, and the fries hot and perfectly cooked. The focaccia was obviously made in-house, soft on the inside and slightly crispy and perfectly seasoned with olive oil, fresh rosemary and sea salt on the outside. I ordered the Veal Parmigiana ($10.95), coming with a massive side of tortellini ($2.50 extra for a total of $13.45). The veal was the best parmigiana I have had in memory and the portion was huge (see my photos) with four good size breaded veal scallops covered with the best marinara I have had outside Italy and fresh, warm, gooey, delicious mozzarella. Then there was the tortellini, a meal in itself,  perfectly cooked “al dente” and tossed (not drenched) in a superb Bolognese (meat) sauce just as it should be. I did not think I could eat all of it when they brought it to the table, but it was so good I could not help myself, cleaning both plates by the time we were done.

The bill came to a little over $30 for the sandwich, fries, veal, pasta, and two fountain drinks, a mere pittance for a meal as good as this one. Their service and hospitality could not have been better or friendlier and the food is one of the best “values” I have experienced in a long, long time. Grazie Luigi … a presto!

CombatCritic Gives Luigi’s Pizza Fresca 10 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Spot On My “WALL OF FAME” … More Bombs Are Better …. Luigi’s is THE BOMB!

Ten Bombs Equates To:
“Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for ‘Heard Understood Acknowledged.’ Originally used by the British in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.” – Urban Dictionary

“The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH ‘refers to or means anything except no’ … Regardless of its meaning … the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit.” – WarChronicle.com

“The U.S. Air Force stole ‘HOOAH’ from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said ‘screw it, let’s go with HOOAH’ … thanks Army … HOOAH! – CombatCritic

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Luigi's Pizza Fresca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Philadelphia, PA: This Place Is The Real Deal Folks … Luigi’s Is THE BOMB! 

Key Words: Luigi’s Pasta Fresca, Luigi’s, , Luigi, pasta, fresca, Philadelphia, PA, Pennsylvania, Italian, pizza, museum, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Philadelphia, PA: When in Philly, Eat A Lazaro’s Cheesesteak!


Lazaro’s Pizzeria & Grill
1743 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Rittenhouse Square
Phone: (215) 545-2775

We had lunch at the U.S. Capitol after a tour from our U.S. Senator’s office, so we were not extremely hungry. Lazaro’s was not far from our Airbnb pad, so we decided to stop in for a cheesesteak after a walk downtown. Good choice.

You order from one storefront and either take-home or eat-in inside the room nextdoor. We ate-in.

We ordered a whole (2 foot) Cheesesteak Deluxe ($15.00) to share, coming on a fresh baguette with chopped beef, American cheese and sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms as well as an order of Curly Fries ($3.75). The cheesesteak was not a disappointment and the fries were hot and crisp, not burnt. Bravo!

CombatCritic Gives Lazaro’s Pizzeria and Grill 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More bombs Are Better!


Seven Bombs Equates To:

 

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Philadelphia, PA: When in Philly, Eat A Lazaro’s Cheesesteak! 

Key Words: CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

Bella Vista, AR: "Fred’s" Is Back In Business And They Mean "Business"!


Fred’s Hickory Inn

1502 N. Walton Blvd
Bentonville, AR 72712
Phone; (479) 273-3303
Website: fredshickoryinn.net

I will update this review in more detail as time allows, but I wanted to get it on the books ASAP.

Great place, very good food, excellent service and fair prices.

They accommodated our 20-person group without a flinch, just like we were a party of 4 dropping in for dinner. The drinks and food came post haste and with not just a smile, but a story or two and some good humored jabs from our server.

Excellent barbecue, they also have steaks, seafood, and pasta dishes, although their Bolognese sauce on the side of spaghetti I had was the primary reason for the one-star downgrade. On night two I had the lasagna which was pretty good, not quite like my mom, grandma, mother-in-law, and Zia Gina make, but not bad.

Prices range from $14-$35+ for dinner entrees, including soup or salad and a side or two, very fair for food and service of this caliber.

CombatCritic Gives Fred’s Hickory Inn A Very Respectable 8 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Thumbs-Up … More Bombs Are Better … See You In The Fall Y’All! 
Eight Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: “Fred’s” Is Back In Business And They Mean “Business”!


Key Words: Fred’s Hickory Inn, Fred’s, Freds, hickory, inn, Bella Vista, AR, Bentonville, Arkansas, barbecue, BarBQ, steak, pasta, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! = “What-The-Fuck … Over!”

Washington DC: Great Pizza (If You Are From The Midwest)


Wiseguy NY Pizza

300 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Suite 1
Washington, DC 20001
Between N. H St and N. 3rd St
Phone: (202) 408-7800
Website: wiseguynypizza.com


Where we come from, the Midwest, pizza sucks. So coming to the East Coast, we were looking forward to some good Italian food in general and pizza in particular. Wiseguy NY Pizza beats anything we have in Lawrence, Kansas, but it was not anywhere near the best. That is coming from someone spoiled with wonderful pizza, having lived in Naples (Italy, not Florida) and being married to an Italian.
The place is clean and the staff friendly. There were several pies to choose slices from and my wife was happy to see that there were “white” offerings as she has na aversion to tomatoes (yes, she is actually Italian and does not eat tomatoes, drink wine, or cook, but that’s another story).
The slices range from $2.99 (cheese/Margherita) to $3.99 (Specialty), but they had a “Combo Special” – two slices (from any 20″ pie) and a fountain drink for $9.69 so we went for it. My wife chose two of the Mushroom Truffle slices and I picked two NY Supreme slices.
The pizza was really good if you are from the Midwest and “mezza mezza” (so-so) if you are from Napoli. The slices were big, there were plenty of toppings, and the flavor was decent, although the NY Supreme needed a little help (extra oregano and parmesan cheese). The mushroom truffle was tasty in my opinion, but my wife has been spoiled by Neapolitan pizza all her life and said it was “OK” (a compliment from her).
All-in-all, we were satiated and relatively pleased to have a good meal for just over $20 in Washington DC. Hey, open a store in Lawrence … PLEASE!

CombatCritic Gives Wiseguy NY PIzza 6* Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better

Six Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Washington DC: Great Pizza (If You Are From The Midwest)

Key Words: Wiseguy NY Pizza, wiseguy, NY pizza, New York, new, york, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Washington DC, Washington, DC, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: G2G =  “Good To Go”


* Ratings are based on “value” (bang for the buck) as compared to similar restaurants in a particular market/locale

Alexandria, VA: Sam Phao Means "Stuff Your Pie Hole With Great Food For Little Money"


Sam Phao Thai Cuisine
1019 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Old Town Alexandria
Phone: (703) 548-3736
To start, I love Thai food, so I appreciate good Thai when I taste it. Next, comparing the DC area to Lawrence, Kansas is like comparing Dom Perignon to Andre, “not gonna do it, wouldn’t be prudent”, particularly when it comes to restaurants and prices. Lawrence restaurant options are bleak at best, hardly a decent restaurant in town, but DC has an abundance of excellent restaurants and they ain’t cheap compared to the Midwest.
Enter Sam Phao, a small place in central Old Town Alexandria. I checked several menus in Old Town after a day at Mount Vernon and the prices in Alexandria (for “average” food) were not cheap. The $$ options on Yelp were running $20-$30 for an entree and we did not really want to blow another C-note for dinner (my blog is named “TravelValue” after all), then I saw Sam Phao. Their prices were very reasonable and the reviews excellent, so I hit “Directions” and off we went.
The ground floor room we entered was very small, so we were taken upstairs to a larger dining room and a table for two by the window. For starters, we ordered a Chicken Satay ($5.95) and a Crispy Wonton ($4.95). There were four large skewers of chicken satay along with the peanut sauce, cucumber relish and four 1/4 pieces of toast. The satay and peanut sauce were yummy and the toast a novelty, but it made it easy to get the chicken, peanut sauce and relish all on a fork. The six wonton had a savory minced chicken inside of the crispy fried wrapper as well as sweet and sour sauce and cucumber relish for dipping. They were excellent as well … what a great start!
For mains, my wife got the Pad Thai “J” ($10.95), thin rice noodles and mixed vegetables stir-fried with egg, bean sprouts, scallions, tofu, and crushed roasted peanuts. I ordered the Yellow Curry ($13.95) with beef, potatoes, carrots, and onion, all of them my favorites are a rare find in one dish. I was not wild about the Pad Thai because of the egg (which is optional), but it was massive and my wife loved it. The yellow curry was divine, one of the best curries i have had in a long, long time. There was plenty o’ beef, big chunks of potato, large slices of carrot, and pieces of onion along with the white rice. The curry sauce was an incredible combination of hot spiciness along with a very slightly sweet aftertaste, so I dumped the rice in the bowl of curry, instead of the other way around, and delightfully spooned the contents into my pie hole until gone … HOOAH!
At $40, including tax, for two appetizers and two entrees, we could not have been more pleased. The prices rival those of similar, but inferior, restaurants in Lawrence, so in Alexandria and the DC area, this place was THE BOMB.
CombatCritic Gives Sam Phao 9 Bombs Out Of 10, A Rare And Near Perfect Rating … More Bombs Are Better Of Course!
Nine Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Sam Phao Thai Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Alexandria, VA: Sam Phao Means “Stuff Your Pie Hole With Great Food For Little Money”

Key Words: Sam Phao Thai Cuisine, Sam Phao, Sam, Phao, Thai, cuisine, food, curry, Alexandria, VA, Virginia, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH! = “U.S. Marine Expression Of Enthusiasm”

Washington DC: Air And Space Museum – An Airman’s Dream With A Few Flaws


The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Independence Avenue and 6th Street SW
Washington, DC 20560
Phone: (202) 633-1000
Website: nasm.si.edu
The Air and Space Museum is a dream for an Airman like me, but the crowds drove me bonkers! 
The exhibits are sublime, from Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis to the original Wright Flyer, the aviation history in this building is impressive. However, the massive amount of humanity roaming the halls was a nightmare. People roaming around in a trance or engulfed in conversation or their cell phone caused bottleneck after bottleneck. Having only a week in DC with too many things to do and see, we did not have time to lollygag and that was extremely frustrating.
The building is also in desperate need of maintenance. From a leaking roof that stained the walls to carpets with duct tape covering the holes, the building requires some simple maintenance to bring it up to Washington DC and Smithsonian standards.
CombatCritic Gives The Smithsonian’s Air And Space Museum 8 Bombs Out Of 10 With A Two Bomb Deduction For Crowds And Poor Maintenance … More Bombs Are Better!


Eight Bombs Equates To:


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title:  Washington DC: Air And Space Museum – An Airman’s Dream With A Few Flaws

Key Words: Washington DC, Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian, air, space, national, Washington, DC, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, attraction, museum, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation for Civilians: WTFO = “What-The-F#@& … Over!”


Washington, DC: CombatCritic Was In The Haus … And He Wasn’t Happy


Biergarten Haus
1355 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
Between N. Linden Court and N. 14th St
Phone: (202) 388-4053
I will not spend a great deal of time on this review because Biergarten Haus can be summarized very briefly, overpriced and mediocre. 

Having traveled extensively in Germany, I know good German bier and food when I taste it. A 1/2 liter of draft German beer (less than 17 ounces) was $8, so I did not taste it and drank water instead. We ordered three pretzel rolls ($5) and even though they looked appetizing, they had obviously been “nuked” (microwaved) because the outside was soft and warm, but the inside was as hard as a rock. The accompanying “homemade” mustard was good and spicy.
My wife ordered the Brauernwurst ($14), coming with a single sausage, a potato pancake, and sauerkraut. Everything tasted OK, but you normally get some bread and a salad or soup with German food. That was not the case and my wife, who is rather petite and not a big eater, was still hungry when we returned to our room, eating a yogurt from the fridge.
I had the Jägerschnitzel ($20), a breaded pork cutlet with hunter sauce (a brown, mushroom gravy). The cutlet was of decent proportion, but the breading was soft, not crispy as it should have been, obviously nuked like the pretzels. The hunter sauce was watery and bland, adding little taste to the dish. The fries were the decent, nothing special. I was also a bit hungry afterward, so I also had a snack in our room because we were not about to pay $8 for a nuked apple strüdel.
Coming in at $50 (for two), including tip, this meal was not a good value and an overall disappointment. The only reason they get 4 bombs instead of 3 was the service. The bartender who took and served our order was extremely kind and efficient, and for that we were grateful.
CombatCritic Gives Biergarten Haus 4 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Four Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Biergarten Haus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Washington, DC: CombatCritic Was In The Haus … And He Wasn’t Happy

Key Words: Biergarten Haus, biergarten, bier, garten, beer, garden, German, Washington Dc, Washington, DC, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again”

Washington DC: Oui, Oui … French With A Kick … Mon Ami


Le Grenier

502 H Street NE
Washington, DC 20002
H Street Corridor/Atlas District/Near Northeast
Phone: (202) 544-4999
Website: legrenierdc.com

Excellent, reasonably priced French cuisine in a historic building just northeast of the Capitol, Le Grenier was a delight.

We were cheerfully accommodated while dropping in last minute on our way back to our room in eastern DC, having decided on French instead of German while en route. The service was excellent and the food tasty, not traditional French, but spicier with possible north African or Caribbean influences. The bread was OUT OF THIS WORLD, warm and soft on the inside, crispy on the out, we ate far more than would be reasonable … oops!

I had a glass of complimentary Shiraz, courtesy of a Yelp Check-In Offer (thanks Yelp!), to start things off as well as the Casserolette de Moules (mussels and melted leeks in a creamy saffron sauce – $6.75) for my appetizer and the Pissaladière (a caramelized onion tart with herbes de Provence, creamy goat cheese, and Kalamata olives – $8.75) for my wife. The mussels were delish, but there were just five and they were, surprisingly, still in the shell, so by the time I deshelled them, there was not all that much to eat. The tart was wonderful, savory and oniony … YUM, YUM!

My wife ordered the Paupiette de Veau ($20.95), “cumin infused ground veal with crimini and oyster mushrooms wrapped in cabbage and accompanied by wild rice and a green peppercorn velouté”. The dish was excellent albeit a bit too spicy for my non-heat-seeking spouse of Italian origin, so I had to finish it for her … poor me. I had the Terre é Mer ($22.95), described as “seared merguez sausage and shrimp over chorizo confit with a goat cheese sauce, sundried tomato and pine nut dust”, accompanied by saffron infused mashed potatoes. The sole sausage was extremely thin and, unfortunately, very dry, being topped with three small grilled shrimp. The chorizo confit actually came in a flaky pastry on the side, not over, making the dish difficult to eat. Trying to get a piece of the dry sausage, shrimp, the wonderful cheese sauce, the chorizo, and the extremely flaky pastry together in one bite, with a fork no less, was next to impossible. The few times I was able to mix the appropriate ingredients together in a single bite was heavenly, but most were masticated solo or in pairs, resulting in a less than thrilling culinary experience. 

By the time we were done, we were satiated and happy, the bill coming in at $100 more or less, including tip. Not bad for a nice meal in the big city, including appetizers, entrees and two (paid for) glasses of wine.

CombatCritic Gives Le Grenier 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Le Grenier Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Washington DC: Oui, Oui … French With A Kick … Mon Ami

Key Words: Le Grenier, le, grenier, Washington DC, Washington, DC, French, cuisine, food CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

Somerset, PA: Quaint B&B And Superb Hospitality Equates To An Excellent Value


Somerset Country Inn

329 N. Center Avenue
Somerset, PA 15501
Phone: (814) 443-1005
Website: somersetcountryinn.com
Prices: $$$$

If traveling in South Central Pennsylvania, just off of I-70/76 in Somerset, Pennsylvania sits the Somerset Country Inn. Run by Dan and Joyce, a wonderful couple who made us feel welcome from the get-go, this five bedroom Victorian home is decorated in period furniture and as clean as can be. 
Dan and Joyce have obviously put a lot of work, money and love into the property and grounds. The yard is perfectly manicured and the inside of the house is nicely decorated and comfortable. They are some of the nicest people we have met in quite some time and enjoyed chatting with them upon arrival and over breakfast the next day.
Our large bedroom had a comfy queen size bed and private bath ($95/night including breakfast). We also had the first tube television I have seen in quite a while, one small detail that needs correcting. There was plenty of room for us, our two large suitcases, and a couple small bags even without a large closet.
We ended up driving to Rizzo’s in Windber, about 25 miles away, for dinner the night of arrival because it was our anniversary and nothing in town looked that appealing. The next morning we awoke to hot coffee, sweet orange juice, fresh fruit, and delicious French toast stuffed with cream cheese and covered with a fresh blueberry sauce.
We then said our farewells to our new friends and headed off into the cool, drizzly spring morning, looking for some covered bridges and the Flight 93 National Memorial about 20 miles away.
CombatCritic Gives The Somerset Country Inn 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Eight Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Somerset, PA: Quaint B&B And Superb Hospitality Equates To An Excellent Value

Key Words: Somerset Country Inn, Somerset, PA, Pennsylvania, country, inn, B&B, bed, and, breakfast, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, accommodation, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Translation for Civilians: WTFO – “What-The-Fuck … Over!”

Washington DC: The Largest Library Collection In The World … ‘nough Said


Library of Congress

101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20540
Capitol Hill
Phone: (202) 707-5000
Website: loc.gov/about
Prices: Free

A very impressive building with equally as impressive contents. The largest library in the World, they house books, film, music, and other media in three above ground levels as well as another eight below ground. 

With permanent and temporary exhibits, they display such rarities as the Gutenberg Bible, the map carried by Lewis and Clark, Ira Gershwin’s piano, Oscars and Grammys, Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, and millions of other contents. 

Arrange a tour through your U.S. Senator (recommended) or take the public tour offered several times daily. The tour takes about an hour (and it is free), but plan on spending at least 2-3 hours in the library. You will not regret it!
CombatCritic Gives The Library Of Congress 10 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Ten Bombs Equates To:
“Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for ‘Heard Understood Acknowledged.’ Originally used by the British in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.” – Urban Dictionary

“The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH ‘refers to or means anything except no’ … Regardless of its meaning … the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit.” – WarChronicle.com

“The U.S. Air Force stole ‘HOOAH’ from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said ‘to heck with it, let’s go with HOOAH’ … thanks Army … HOOAH! – CombatCritic


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: The Largest Library Collection In The World … ‘nough Said

Key Words: Library of Congress, LoC, congress, Wqsgington DC, Washington, DC, District of Colombia, diastrict, Columbia, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, attraction, museum, library, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Windber, PA: Not The Best Italian I Have Had, But Well Worth The Drive


Rizzo’s Restaurant
2200 Graham Avenue
Windber, PA 15963
Phone: (814) 467-7908
Website: rizzosofwindber.com


A little over 20 miles from Interstate 70 and Somerset, Pennsylvania where we stayed in a quaint B&B, we found Rizzo’s when nothing in Somerset looked very interesting for our anniversary dinner.
Al large building in Eastern Windber, the family lives upstairs and the restaurant is downstairs. The restaurant itself is somewhat nondescript with bright lighting. The bar has a little more ambience, but we were seated in the “hallway” behind the bar, a high traffic area with little charm.

The service was friendly and efficient. I started with the house Burgundy ($4.50), coming in a small glass, it was chilled and somewhat sweet as expected of most inexpensive burgundies. My wife ordered the Fettucine Maria ($13.50), homemade fettucine noodles with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and peas in a light alfredo sauce. The noodles were perfectly cooked, but the sauce was rather bland. My wife, who is Italian and rarely adds grated cheese to her pasta, had to resort to the shaker of parmesan (parmigiano) in order to add some flavor. I had the Veal Parmigiana ($17.95), a large and very tasty cutlet topped with a delicious homemade marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and baked or broiled until melted.

The New York Cheesecake ($4.75) was rich and delicious, as good as any I have had whether or not in was made in-house. The owner’s son stopped by to chat briefly, then brought me a small glass of homemade orangecello (orange version of limoncello) as a digestivo (after dinner drink to aid in digestion).

My only gripes were the small, inexpensive, cold glass of burgundy (I was expecting something different), no soup or salad with the meal, the rather bland fettucine sauce, and the absence of much atmosphere in the restaurant. However, for under $50, Rizzo’s was a very good value and well worth the nearly 30 mile drive.

CombatCritic Gives Rizzo’s 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Rizzo's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato






Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Rizzo's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Windber, PA: Not The Best Italian I Have Had, But Well Worth The Drive

Key Words: Rizzo’s, Rizzo, Italian, restaurant, food, pasta, parmigiana, veal, alfredo, Windber, PA, Pennsylvania, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

Stoystown, PA: Flight 93 Memorial – A "Must Visit" If In Or Near South Central Pennsylvania


Flight 93 National Memorial
6424 Lincoln Hwy
Stoystown, PA 15563
Phone: (814) 893-6322
Website: nps.gov/flni

A somber visit punctuated by graphic reminders: crash relics, tearful and fearful passenger phone calls home, emotional video and photos, the massive memorial, and the crash site itself. This memorial is definitely worth a visit if for nothing more than to pay respects to the victims and families of the ill-fated Flight 93 that ended here on September 11, 2001.

In such a peaceful and beautiful setting, one of the most violent and horrific events of this millennium took place. A place to honor to remember the passengers, the National Park Service has done a superb job on ensuring their memories are recorded for the ages. The displays are thoughtful, yet graphic and the massive memorial itself is laid out in such a way that you enter on the final flight path of Flight 93.

I will not go into detail about the exhibits, but will leave it to say that you will be extremely impressed and very emotional as there was hardly a dry eye in the place. Unlike most National Parks, entry to the Flight 93 National Memorial is free as it should be. 

CombatCritic Gives The Flight 93 National Memorial 10 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF FAME … More Bombs Are Obviously Better!

And A Spot On CombatCritic’s “WALL OF FAME”
Ten Bombs Equates To:
“Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for ‘Heard Understood Acknowledged.’ Originally used by the British in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.” – Urban Dictionary

“The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH ‘refers to or means anything except no’ … Regardless of its meaning … the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit.” – WarChronicle.com

“The U.S. Air Force stole ‘HOOAH’ from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said ‘to heck with it, let’s go with HOOAH’ … thanks Army … HOOAH! – CombatCritic

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Flight 93 National Memorial – A “Must Visit” If In Or Near South Central Pennsylvania

Key Words: Flight 93 National Memorial, Flight, 93, National, Memorial, 9/11, September, 11, 2001, South, Central, Pennsylvania, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, attraction, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

KC Yelp Elite Event Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas – It’s A Burger Bash @ BurgerFi!


Burger Bash @ BurgerFi
Yelp Elite Event
BurgerFi
918 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
First off, thanks to Josh, owner of BurgerFi-Lawrence, for hosting such a great event and to Adam for FINALLY bringing an event to Lawrence … HOOAH! It was so close to home that my wife and I were able to walk to the event.

Good wine, spirits, and beer, provided by BurgerFi (4 oz samples of each draft), a local winery (Chardonnay), and a Parkville distillery (vodka and gin) got the evening off to a roaring start. Then the food began to arrive and arrive and arrive and arrive. Two kinds of French fries (regular and Urban Style) and scrummy onion rings to share, then half of a BurgerFi Burger, half of a Breakfast All Day Burger, half of a VegeFi Burger (no bun), and 1/3 of a Chicago Style Hot Dog. Then it was time for dessert … a small Key Lime or Coffee Mocha shake and a Red Velvet Concrete.

The food was plentiful and good and the drinks kept flowing for two hours. We were stuffed by the time it was over. The company, excellent as always, it was great to see some of my old Elite friends (Adam, Scott and Billie) and meet a few new ones (Bill and Sara).
I gave BurgerFi an average (3 Star/6 Bomb) review on my first visit, offering some suggestions for improvement, and was impressed by the owner’s and corporate’s willingness to reach out and ask for more feedback. I am even more impressed that they apparently took some of it to heart as they are increasing the size of their burgers and buns in the near future … WOO-HOO! I look forward to trying the NEW AND IMPROVED BurgerFi Burgers when available.

CombatCritic Gives The “Burger Bash At BurgerFi” 10 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Ten Bombs Equates To:
“Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for ‘Heard Understood Acknowledged.’ Originally used by the British in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.” – Urban Dictionary

“The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH ‘refers to or means anything except no’ … Regardless of its meaning … the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit.” – WarChronicle.com

“The U.S. Air Force stole ‘HOOAH’ from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said ‘fuck it, let’s go with HOOAH’ … thanks Army … HOOAH! – CombatCritic

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: KC Yelp Elite Event Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas – It’s A Burger Bash @ BurgerFi!

Key Words:  KC, Kansas City, Elite, Event, Comes To … Lawrence, Kansas, Burger, Bash, BurgerFi, hamburger, Massachusetts, Mass, street, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp

Parkville, MO: Half-Ass Estimate, Zero Communication … We’re "The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys"!


The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys
Parkville, MO
Phone: (816) 741-7101
Website: TheLawnAndSprinklerGuys.com

Look at their name, “The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys”, and it will tell you a lot about their professionalism.

I asked them to provide an estimate for major damage to our sprinkler system caused by a lightning strike and to install a backflow prevention device required by the city. All they did was come to the house, look around, and tell us “here’s our hourly rate ($70/hour) and we’ll figure it out when we start”. No formal bid for our insurance company, no phone call, just an email form their admin person.  I asked to have the owner call me to discuss details of the job, but he never bothered to contact me. 

Like most of the dozens of lawn, landscape, and sprinkler companies I have dealt with since moving to KC in 2008, The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys are irresponsible, unprofessional, poor communicators and I would not hire them if they were the last company in Kansas or Missouri. They must have more business and money than they need if they can treat customers like that, so I recommend you not waste your time contacting them.

CombatCritic Gives The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A spot On My Quickly Growing WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Parkville, MO: Half-Ass Estimate, Zero Communication … We’re “The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys”!

Key Words: Parkville, MO, estimate, The Lawn & Sprinkler Guys, lawn, sprinkler, guys, repair, installation, service, Kansas City, Kansas, city, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”