CombatCritic’s "TravelValue" – Nearly 45,000 Views In The Past Year – Thanks To You!


Total Monthly Views (May 2014 – July 2015)
44,065 Views Between July 2014 To June 2015

Growing Exponentially … We Owe It All To You … Thank You For Your Loyalty!


Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Title:  CombatCritic’s “TravelValue” – Nearly 45,000 Views In The Past Year – Thanks To You!

Key Words: CombatCritic, TravelValue, eZine, travel value, combat, critic, view, views, stats, 2014, 2015, statistics, audience, customer, customer service, annual, monthly

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Parmarth Niketan Ashram … A Definite DO NOT MISS in Rishikesh


Parmarth Niketan Ashram
Swarg Ashram (250 Meters South of Ram Jhula Bridge)
Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, India

Parmarth Niketan Ashram is definitely worth a visit if for nothing else than the beautiful 5pm ceremony on the banks of the Ganga (Ganges). I had difficulty finding it on TripAdvisor because of the confusing map links, taking me near the Ram Jhula Bridge instead of 250-300 meters south to Parmarth Niketan.


From Ram Jhula Bridge, head south and keep to the right at the junction, taking you through the many stalls along the river and a covered market and continuing another 200-300 meters where you will see the riverfront stage to your right and the ashram to your left (you cannot miss it).
The Parmarth Niketan Ashram is worth a stroll with beautiful sculptures, gardens, buildings (dorms, meditation/dining halls, etc) and shops. I understand that you can stay here rather cheaply (if not free) for meditation, devotion, yoga, and meals, but I will not lead you to believe that I understand the specifics. htto://www.Parmarth.com has much more information, so I recommend you contact them for details. There are also free toilets (western-style sitters beside the “squatting” variety), snack stands, and benches to sit on.

Arrive for the 5:00PM ceremony early (4:30 recommended by locals, but in mid-December space was not a problem) and get a seat near the main steps to join in the melodic and visually stunning ceremony. The monks start arriving around 4:30 and loosen up their vocal chords, singing beautiful Hindu songs and praising Krishna as the sun starts setting slowly in the west on the other side of the river. It lasts about 30 minutes (until 5:30), ending in a fire offering where candles are lit, passed around the crowd for blessings, and placed in the river to float downstream and out of view as darkness ensues on Mother Ganga.

CombatCritic Gives Parmarth Niketan Ashram 10 Out of 10 Bombs … It’s FREE and a Definite DO NOT MISS in Rishikesh … More Bombs Are Better!



Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

Key Words: Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Parmarth, Niketan, Ashram, Rishikesh, India, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, yoga, meditation, Ram Jhula, ram, jhula

Malara’s: Scrambled Egg Carbonara?


Malara’s
2123 Pierce Street Omaha, NE 


Prices: $$$$$

With a dearth of good Italian restaurants in our hometown of Lawrence (Kansas), we decided to try Malara’s on a recent trip to Omaha after having read the rave reviews on Yelp. After our dinner, however, I am left wondering how this place ended up with 4 stars.


The place is huge and the decor a bit tacky, looking as if it has not been redecorated since the 1970’s. We were seated quickly, but ignored for the first ten minutes we were there. I had to grab a wine list from another table because I could not get the server’s attention, had I known whom he or she was.

Dinners come with a salad and although fresh, there was nothing but lettuce and that was drenched in an oil and vinegar dressing. The “bread” were rolls that looked as if they came out of a bag and heated in the oven.

My wife had the spaghetti carbonara ($11.95). The spaghetti was pretty good, advertised as being homemade, but the sauce was too oily and there was hardly any bacon in sight. Instead of adding raw egg to the finished dish before tossing the pasta, they added scrambled eggs, something I have never seen done before.

I had the veal parmigiana, ($16.95) which was not bad, but far from the best I have eaten. The portion size was adequate, the sauce pretty good, although a bit sweet for my taste, and the cheese melted to perfection. As is the case in most Italian (American) restaurants, there was far too much sauce on the pasta, but it tasted OK. When I asked the server if we could get some more bread, I was told that it would cost an “extra 25 cents each”, so we SPLURGED! Enough said.

Removing the scrambled egg carbonara and 25 cent bread rolls from the equation, I would have likely given Malara’s 5, maybe 6, bombs out of 10 for the very average food at reasonable prices (value). Lose the scrambled eggs and give folks an extra roll or two … is another 50 cents really worth upsetting customers over?


CombatCritic Gives Malara’s 4 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!






Malara's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon








Follow CombatCritic On Yelp (An Elite ’14/’15 Member) And  TripAdvisor (“Top Contributor”) Where You Can Read His Latest Reviews, Try His Favorite Recipes, And More!

Key Words: Malara’s, malara, Italian, restaurant, Omaha, Nebraska, NE, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, menu, pasta, veal, carbonara

Adventure Zip KC … Fun, Safe, Exciting Ziplining Near Kansas City


Watch My Zipline Adventure on The CombatCritic Channel on YouTube

Adventure Zip KC

12829 Loring Road

Bonner Springs, KS 66012

Phone: 913-302-8881

Yelp Elite ’14 Newbies with Matt E (2nd from left)
I was lucky enough to be invited to Yelp KC’s “Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure” at Adventure Zip KC (AZKC), just outside of Bonner Springs, Kansas in the hills above several large limestone caverns, by Matt E, Yelp Kansas City’s Community Manager. Yelp “Elite” are those deemed worthy of the title based on reviewing prowess and acumen during the previous year and I was honored with the title early this year.

AZKC is run by a group of eclectic, young, enthusiastic guides that entertain and ensure am exciting yet safe outdoor adventure. We were met by Matt E and AZKC staff when we arrived, signing waivers (in case something went horribly wrong) and suiting up in the ziplining harnesses and helmets. I brought my GoPro and helmet (with a camera mount), but make sure that yours meets OSHA and other safety standards, otherwise you will not be allowed to use it. Mine did.

It was a hot day, around 100 degrees, but fortunately the surrounding woods provided shade and a respite from the heat. After suiting up, we jumped on the old school bus and made our way through the woods (watch out for poison ivy/oak and stinging nettles) to the first zipline station, a short traverse across a small canyon. After getting hooked-up to the line, I took several steps before being hoisted into the air and across the canyon at a leisurely, but fun, pace. The ziplines became longer, steeper, faster, and more exciting as we progressed on our journey.

AZKC’s staff provided the necessary safety information along with loads of jokes and puns, making the two hour adventure not just safe but fun. The second zipline was much longer and faster than the first, but there was a guide at the other end waiting to help slow our descent into a safe stop. The third and final zipline was the longest of the three, starting atop a small tower and ending on the other side on a pivoting contraption that took some quick adjustments in order to remain standing. We then hiked up the hill to “the tower” (which was not included in our visit) to catch our bus back to base camp. 

The “HIKE & ZIP” PACKAGE lasts 1 – 1.5 Hours, includes three zips and free equipment for $49.99. The “Tower Zip” lasts 1.5 to 2 hours, starts off on the 65 foot tower where you zip 5 great, unique lines, and includes a guided tour and equipment ($79.99). Or you can zip all eight (8) lines for $99.99.

Amanda, Matt, Terry, Christ, and CombatCritic
In all, it was a fun and exciting adventure, not too demanding for an old military retiree with bad knees and back. Be prepared for short hikes up and down moderate inclines with rocky, uneven surfaces. Otherwise, the zipling itself is rather easy on the body as long as you listen to the safety briefings. My only disappointment was when I handed our young female guide a $20 tip as we left (after all, it was a complimentary “Yelp Elite Event) and she did not bother getting out of her chair to thank us or say goodbye. I doubt if many patrons tip $20 or more, so a little appreciation would have been appropriate. Otherwise, it was a great day!

CombatCritic Gives Adventure Zip KC 8 Bombs Out of 10


Key Words: Yelp, elite, aerial, adventure, Kansas City, ziplining, zip, KC, CombatCritic, combat, critic, travelvalue, travel, value, Bonner Springs, Kansas, zipline, line, outdoor

Yelp KC: Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure (Zip KC)


Watch Our Yelp Zipline Adventure on The CombatCritic Channel on YouTube
Yelp Elite ’14 Newbies with Matt E (2nd from left)
I was lucky enough to be invited to Yelp KC’s “Newbie Elite Aerial (Ziplining) Adventure” at Adventure Zip KC (AZKC), just outside of Bonner Springs, Kansas in the hills above several large limestone caverns, by Matt E, Yelp Kansas City’s Community Manager. Yelp “Elite” are those deemed worthy of the title based on reviewing prowess and acumen during the previous year and I was honored with the title early this year.

AZKC is run by a group of eclectic, young, enthusiastic guides that entertain and ensure am exciting yet safe outdoor adventure. We were met by Matt E and AZKC staff when we arrived, signing waivers (in case something went horribly wrong) and suiting up in the ziplining harnesses and helmets. I brought my GoPro and helmet (with a camera mount), but make sure that yours meets OSHA and other safety standards, otherwise you will not be allowed to use it. Mine did.

It was a hot day, around 100 degrees, but fortunately the surrounding woods provided shade and a respite from the heat. After suiting up, we jumped on the old school bus and made our way through the woods (watch out for poison ivy/oak and stinging nettles) to the first zipline station, a short traverse across a small canyon. After getting hooked-up to the line, I took several steps before being hoisted into the air and across the canyon at a leisurely, but fun, pace. The ziplines became longer, steeper, faster, and more exciting as we progressed on our journey.

AZKC’s staff provided the necessary safety information along with loads of jokes and puns, making the two hour adventure not just safe but fun. The second zipline was much longer and faster than the first, but there was a guide at the other end waiting to help slow our descent into a safe stop. The third and final zipline was the longest of the three, starting atop a small tower and ending on the other side on a pivoting contraption that took some quick adjustments in order to remain standing. We then hiked up the hill to “the tower” (which was not included in our visit) to catch our bus back to base camp. 

The “HIKE & ZIP” PACKAGE lasts 1 – 1.5 Hours, includes three zips and free equipment for $49.99. The “Tower Zip” lasts 1.5 to 2 hours, starts off on the 65 foot tower where you zip 5 great, unique lines, and includes a guided tour and equipment ($79.99). Or you can zip all eight (8) lines for $99.99.

Amanda, Matt, Terry, Christ, and CombatCritic
In all, it was a fun and exciting adventure, not too demanding for an old military retiree with bad knees and back. Be prepared for short hikes up and down moderate inclines with rocky, uneven surfaces. Otherwise, the zipling itself is rather easy on the body as long as you listen to the safety briefings. My only disappointment was when I handed our young female guide a $20 tip as we left (after all, it was a complimentary “Yelp Elite Event) and she did not bother getting out of her chair to thank us or say goodbye. I doubt if many patrons tip $20 or more, so a little appreciation would have been appropriate. Otherwise, it was a great day!

CombatCritic Gives Yelp’s Newbie Elite Aerial Adventure 10 Bombs Out of 10


Key Words: Yelp, elite, aerial, adventure, Kansas City, ziplining, zip, KC, CombatCritic, combat, critic, travelvalue, travel, value, Bonner Springs, Kansas, zipline, line, outdoor
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Natural Goal "#1 Premium Oregano Oil" … Great Product, Excellent Value, Carry-On Size


Natural Goal “#1 Premium Oregano Oil” (natural origanum vulgare – 1oz/30ml – $22.95) is the only PURE Oil of Oregano I could find in stores or on the internet (Amazon). Health stores and natural grocers sell HIGHLY DILUTED oil of oregano for the same price or more. The diluted oil sold in stores and online equates to $100 an ounce and up, making this oil an excellent value. As a consumer, I highly recommend it!

Oil of Oregano has so many uses and because of the 1 ounce size, it can even be carried on an airplane! With uses from aromatherapy to skin applications and beyond, its reported antibiotic properties could be invaluable on a trip, particularly in a foreign country where language and medical services could be a challenge.

WARNING: Make sure that you read the label and about proper use of the product, checking with your healthcare provider before using this or any “natural” product as it is highly concentrated, not regulated by the FDA, and can cause severe symptoms, particularly if ingested.


CombatCritic Gives Natural Goal “#1 Premium Oregano Oil” 9 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!


Key Words: Natural Goal #1 Premium Oregano Oil, natural, goal, premium, oregano, oil, origanum vulgare, origanum, vulgare, Dr Oz, Dr. Oz, Dr, Oz, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, combat, critic

Ad Astra Acupuncture … Excellent Value, Professional Services


Ad Astra Acupuncture

106 W North Park St
Lawrence, KS 66044

Phone: (785) 760-1961


Focusing on value, it does not get much better than Ad Astra Acupuncture, just off  Mass on 12th Street across from South Park.

Treatments are $15-$35 (suggested donation) … You decide! There is no pressure to pay the max as employees pay no attention to the amount, tossing the bills into a drawer without counting. Honor System … WHAT A CONCEPT! 

Needles are sterile and not reused. There are a number of recliners in each of two “group” rooms and there is no disrobing for the introverts out there. All you do is show up, pay, and grab a recliner. When the therapist enters, they ask how you are doing, then place needles in your arms, legs, hands, feet, and head. After 30-60 minutes (or more if you like), Nick or Ann, who are both wonderful, remove the needles and send you in your way.

I have been going for about 6 weeks, I am feeling much better, and my back pain has almost entirely disappeared! There is little if any pain involved and only when needles are inserted. The slight sting disappears quickly and you can then focus on relaxing, a wonderful byproduct of the treatment.

CombatCritic Gives AD ASTRA ACUPUNCTURE a nearly perfect 9 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GREAT!




Read this review and many others on Yelp!

Title: Ad Astra Acupuncture … Excellent Value, Professional Services

Key Words: 66044, acupuncture, ad, Ad Astra, Astra, combat, CombatCritic, critic, Kansas, Lawrence, travel, TravelValue, value, 

Absence Does Not Necessarily Make The Heart Grow Fonda


Amanda’s Fonda
3625 W. Colorado Ave 
Colorado SpringsCO80904


An old haunt, I had to try it again after 6 years in the Midwest … Tacos, enchiladas, you know the drill. 




The shredded beef tacos were OK, little meat or cheese, but what was there tasted good. The cheese and onion enchilada was decent, but the sauce was rather bland. The chips were decent, the salsa very good, but the guacamole was a bit pricey for the size so we steered away from an appetizer.



I remembered the food being better … I guess absence does not necessarily make the heart grow fonder. Ever been back to your high school? Disappointing, small, but you still have fond memories.



CombatCritic Gives Amanda’s Fonda 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!



UPDATE: After my check-in, the manager contacted me and offered a gift card and an invitation to return and give Amanda’s Fonda another try. I will return next time I am in Colorado Springs and will update my review based on that experience. “6 BOMBS” is not a “bad” review, but leaves room for some improvement … SPERIAMO (let’s hope so)!

Amanda's Fonda on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Amanda’s Fonda, Amanda, fonda, Colorado Springs, Colorado, springs, 80904, Mexican, food, taco, enchilada, chips, salsa, guacamole, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue

Great Harvest Bread Company: Great Bread, High Prices Equal Moderate Value


Lawrence, Kansas: I had seen Great Harvest while driving up Vermont, but being a regular at Wheatfield’s (less than two blocks away), I had not bothered to stop in. My wife and I had to park across the street from Great Harvest during a recent visit to Massachusetts Street for some shopping, so we decided to go in.

As we entered, the aroma of freshly baked bread and pies consumed me as the baker and ovens are directly behind the counter and he was removing piping-hot pie from the oven. Flavors vary by season.

Unlike Wheatfield’s, bread is self-service in plastic wrap on shelving next to the counter. There were samples of five different breads and a bowl full of butter next to the register and when I inquired about the offerings, the young lady sliced a piece of multigrain bread as wide and thick as the palm of my hand. The bread was moist and crunchy with chunks of wholegrain throughout, the crust being a bit too soft for my taste, but delicious nonetheless. At nearly $6 a loaf, the bread is more than I have ever paid for a loaf and $1-$2 more than their competitor down the street.

The pies were gorgeous, a plump golden brown, but at $16 a pop, a bit pricey for my taste. Their products are obviously high in quality and flavor, so the only thing limiting my rating to four stars and not five was the prices. The service was excellent, the bread delicious, the prices a bit high … 

CombatCritic Gives Great Harvest Bread Company 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Key Words: Great Harvest Bread Company, great, harvest, bread, company, Lawrence, Kansas, Vermont, 66044, pie, multigrain, bakery, baker, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue

Don’s Auto Center: An Honest Business In A World Plagued By A Lack Of Integrity


Lawrence, Kansas: I took our 2000 VW Beetle TDI to Don’s Auto Center to see if the “problems” another mechanic (Das Autohaus – see review at http://www.combatcritic.com/2013/12/if-you-want-to-spend-lots-of-money-take.html) told me needed repairing were indeed concerns. On my recent Das Autohaus invoice, the owner had stated that the vehicle needed “new struts” ($400-$600 on RepairPal) and removal of “excess carbon buildup on intake manifold” (which I had done less than two years and 20,000 miles ago at a cost of $700), for a total of $1,100 to $1,300 in repairs.

I had recently taken the vehicle on a 500+ mile trip to Colorado to visit my mother and noticed that the fuel economy was six to seven miles per gallon less than last summer (intake manifold?) and the ride somewhat rough (struts?), so I decided to take the vehicle to Don’s when I returned to see if the Das Autohaus “recommendations” were accurate.

I explained to Mike, the owner of Don’s, what the symptoms were and what I thought could possibly be causing them (based on the Das Autohaus diagnoses – struts and carbon in manifold). Mike called me later that day and told me that he had checked the suspension thoroughly and found “no issues”, no concerns and certainly no need for new struts. He told me the cause of the rough ride was likely caused by the tires being overinflated and simply let some air out of the tires. As for the poor gas mileage and possible carbon buildup on the intake manifold, Mike said that the winter additives in the diesel fuel cause lower gas mileage and because the manifold was cleaned less than 20,000 miles ago, there was no need to have it done again. He told me that the air filter was a bit dirty, so I had him replace it and do an oil change ($30 for an air filter, $50/gallon for synthetic motor oil) for a total of LESS THAN $200 and OVER $1,000 LESS THAN THE DAS AUTOHAUS “NEEDED REPAIRS”.

I thanked Mike for his honesty and integrity, values I as a retired military officer hold dear, and will return to have him service our
vehicles from now on. You can come to your own conclusions regarding Das Autohaus. All I know is that by taking our vehicle literally a couple blocks down the street to an honest mechanic, we saved over $1,000. Enough said … THANKS MIKE!


Key Words: Don’s Auto Center, Don’s, auto, center, Lawrence, Kansas, 66044, honest, mechanic, integrity, honor, price, fair, manifold, tire, strut, repair, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue

Eat At Joe’s


I haven’t been to Joe’s for years, but some of my fondest memories are of French dip sandwiches and French fries … I LOVE FRENCH FOOD … with my family and friends during regular visits to Santa Barbara from LA.

Joe’s has been in the same location on State Street since 1928 and, although redecorated, retains the bones and charm of a 1920’s California diner, counter (now bar) and all.

Looking at the recent photos, the French dips have not changed with chunks of prime rib piled high on a French roll (did I tell you I LOVE FRENCH FOOD?) accompanied by crispy French fries, au jus, and a side salad. I can taste the sandwich even though I am 1,500 miles away … YUM!

I have been to 39 countries since the first time I went to Joe’s, INCLUDING FRANCE SEVERAL TIMES, and enjoyed some of the best cuisine the World has to offer, but sometimes it is the simple things in life that stand out as the finest moments. I have never eaten anything EXCEPT the FRENCH DIP at Joe’s Cafe and even though I will likely return several more tines before I die, I will go with a smile on my face, having eaten nothing else at this Santa Barbara institution. GO TO JOE’S … have a French dip and tell them CombatCritic sent you!

CombatCritic Gives Joe’s Cafe 10 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD! 

Absence From Amanda’s Fonda Does Not Make The Heart Grow Fonda


An old haunt, had to try it again after. 6 years in the Midwest … Tacos, enchiladas, you know the drill. 
It was only 4:30pm, but no hostess and just one server? We waited 10 minutes until she arrived, then she had 5-6 other tables to wait on, made the margaritas, and probably cooked the food. Hardly ever saw her.

The shredded beef tacos were OK, little meat or cheese. The cheese and onion enchilada was decent, but the sauce rather bland. Chips thin and tasty, salsa very good, the guacamole was a bit pricey for the size so we steered away.

Remembered the food being better … Absence does not necessarily make the heart fonder! Ever been back to your high school? Disappointing, but you still have fond memories.

CombatCritic Gives Amanda’s Fonda 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Amanda's Fonda on Urbanspoon

Don’t Trust Me … Check out Amanda’s Fonda On yelp!

Key Words: Amanda’s Fonda, Amanda, Fonda, fonder, taco, taco, enchilada, burrito, eat, food, restaurant, lunch, dinner, CombatCritic, Yelp, Foursquare, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel

Adriano’s Bistro: An Interesting Concept With a Few Rough Edges


Adriano’s Bistro
240 Lake Dillon Drive
Dillon, CO 80435
Phone: (970) 468-6111

WebAdriano’s Bistro Dillon.com
FacebookAdriano’s Bistro Deli
Prices: $$$$$


NOT Dillon, Colorado

Asking for quality and value in a tourist area restaurant is probably asking for too much and Adriano’s Bistro is not the exception. Looking more like a nightclub than a restaurant from the outside, the interior is somewhat dated with wood paneling, hard wood floors, and basic tables and chairs sans tablecloth.


We were seated quickly by a friend of my youngest son Nick, a Snowmaking Supervisor at Keystone Resort, by the name of Kaylee whom also turned out to be our server. Entrees run from $13.95 for pizza to $25 and up for specialties AND COME WITH APPETIZER, SOUP, AND SALAD INCLUDED. That is where the concept varies from other places, in a good way and bad.

The good news is that in a town full of hungry skiers and young resort workers, a hearty meal at a fair price would work quite well, but on a Thursday night in Dillon, you could almost shoot a cannon through Adriano’s without hitting a soul. They idea was good, but the execution needs some work …

The porchetta (pronounced por-ket-a – $19.95), a traditional Italian dish of rolled, stuffed pork slow-roasted over a wood spit or grill and served with roasted potatoes, but my dish did not resemble any porchetta I have ever seen. First, our appetizer arrived, half of a cocktail size meatball and a small piece of Italian sausage smothered in a red sauce and dwarfed by the bread plate they came on. I tried to make the meatball and sausage last for more than two bites, but failed miserably. The taste was “OK”, but could have been out of the freezer and can from Sam’s Club for all I know.

Porchetta – $19.95

Next came the soup, a cup of cream of vegetable that was thick, savory, and piping hot, probably one of the highlights of the night. The soft loaves of fresh, warm bread kept coming and were a nice accompaniment to the hot soup on a cold winter night. The small, side-salad was good, but minimal with a few fresh greens and shaved carrots topped with a light balsamic vinaigrette.


Fresh Baked Bread

Back to the entrees. As I said, my porchetta did not resemble the traditional variety, but was an interesting and creative approach with sliced pork (and not much at that), onions, and ground sausage in both red and bechamel sauces, supposedly on top of baked ziti (pasta). I found the dish a bit too salty and could not find the ziti which the chef apparently forget to add.


My oldest son had the Fettuccine Alfredo with chicken ($21.95), a basic, simple dish of pasta, cream, and cheeses that is difficult to mess up. The pastas we did see did not look fresh or handmade, but straight out of the bag and I would not be surprised if the sauce came from a can or jar. I am not saying it was bad, only that it was unremarkable for the price.

Margherita Pizza – $13.95

Probably the best value of the night was my youngest son’s Margherita Pizza (named after Queen Margarita of Italy – $13.95), a 12 inch, wood-fired, hand-tossed pizza reminiscent of Roman pizza, thin and crunchy (unlike traditional Neopolitan pizza which is soft and chewy). The sauce and cheese stopped well short of the edge, leaving a thicker-than-needed crust. The mozzarella could have been fresher, but the pizza was well put together and tasty … BRAVO!


Fettuccine Alfredo – $21.95

Toward the end of the evening a large man with a Bronco hat arrived with a friend with a Dodger cap and, based on the attention they received, they were obviously affiliated with the recent Super Bowl losing Denver Broncos. The chef, manager/owner, servers, and other staff came out of the back to fawn over the celebrities, but did not say a word to the other guests, totaling about 7-8 by then, including us. The only one we spoke to all night was Kaylee, but she did a fine job and made up for her supervisor’s lack of hospitality.


With a $22 bottle of wine and three people, the bill came to just under $100 (without tip), a bit much based on the quality and substance of the meal and probably $20 to $25 more than a similar meal would have cost in Denver or Colorado Springs.

CombatCritic Gives Adriano’s Bistro 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Adriano's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Adriano’s Bistro, Adriano, bistro, Italian, pizza, dinner, Dillon, Colorado, Keystone Resort, Silverthorne, Frisco, pasta, salad, appetizer, CombatCritic, TravelValue, combat, travel, value

Mountain Lyon Cafe … Best Breakfast in Summit County!


Piercing deep blue eyes the color of Arizona turquoise, a warm inviting smile on a winter’s day, Brook, a native of St Louis, Missouri said “welcome to the Mountain Lyon, I’ll be your server” within seconds of our sitting down in the booth by the front window. Serving only breakfast and lunch, the Mountain Lyon Café is a “locals” hang-out with stick-to-your-ribs, home cooked meals, and efficient, friendly service.

I feel like a local, having frequented this lively restaurant for many years, their breakfast is hard to beat in the Dillon/Silverthorne/Frisco area. I always seem to end up with the Ultimate Skillet ($8.95), an iron skillet loaded with home fried potatoes, 3 eggs any way you like them, tomatoes, green bell pepper, onions, mushrooms, bacon, ham, and sausage, all smothered with country gravy and melted cheddar cheese. A fluffy buttermilk biscuit (muffin or toast also available) accompanied my skillet and would only have been better had there been a dollup of country gravy on top.

Mountain Lyon Cafe has pretty much everything you could imagine available for breakfast and lunch, from French toast to French fries, omelets to burgers, pancakes to pickles, you get the picture. One thing I did not see on the menu that I was craving was a chili and cheese omelet, plain old chili with no beans and lots of shredded cheddar cheese encased in a fluffy three egg delight! But alas, there were none:(

The Mountain Lyon is as much an experience as it is a meal with hoards of interesting locals and a few odd tourists of every size and disposition imaginable, with stories as long and varied as the people telling them. I shall return again if for nothing else but to see Brook with those big blue eyes and have her say “Welcome back to the Mountain Lyon Chris!”.

CombatCritic Gives Mountain Lyon Cafe 9 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Mountain Lyon Cafe on Urbanspoon


Key Words: Mountain Lion Cafe, mountain, lion, lyon, cafe, Silverthorne, Colorado, Dillon, Frisco, breakfast, lunch, eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, CombatCritic, TravelValue, combat, travel, value

Drifter’s Is No IN AND OUT … And That’s OK!


When compared to California’s In and Out Burger, a staple since my childhood growing up in L.A., you are bound to come-up short. My son, an In and Out novice, insisted on getting dinner from Drifter’s on Super Bowl Eve, saying “they have the best burgers in The Springs, similar to In and Out” and boy I was glad he did!

With such a basic menu it is easy to see how they excel with simple, fresh ingredients, quality ground beef, and reasonable prices. Where they diverge from In and Out is in their consistency and presentation. Every In and Out hamburger looks identical to the last with fresh lettuce and thick, red tomato on a fresh, toasted bun wrapped in their classic white, red, and yellow sandwich paper. Each of the three burgers we ordered at Drifter’s looked completely different than the others even though the ingredients were roughly the same. The makings were fresh and the food tasty, but they just do not have the process down as their California cousin has done so well for over 50 years.

The French fries were good and hot with just a little too much salt and just a bit too thin for my taste. The hamburgers were good and greasy as they should be with sautéed onions, melted American cheese, lettuce, and tomato. The only thing missing was pickle and bacon, which I understand is not an option at Drifter’s (bacon that is) … TOO BAD!

My recommendation is to FORGET IN AND OUT and focus on what Drifter’s does well and that is producing a quality burger and fries at a reasonable price. You are not In and Out, you never will be, so create and embrace your own identity … DRIFTER”S HAMBURGERS!

CombatCritic Gives Drifter’s Hamburgers 8 Bombs Out of 10 for BURGER VALUE … Bombs Are Good!

Drifter's Hamburgers on Urbanspoon

Key Words: Drifter’s Hamburgers, Drifter’s, hamburger, burger, fries, cheese, lettuce, tomato, milk, shake, eat, food, 80907, Colorado Springs, CO, Colorado, CombatCritic, TravelValue, value, travel, combat

Which Wich? SandWich!


Which Wich Superior Sandwiches


5102 N. Nevada Ave., Ste. 130
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
(719) 599-WICH
(719) 598-4329 (fax)
universityvillage@whichwich.net

Hours:
Mon-Sat, 10 am – 9pm
Sun, 10 am – 7pm
Order Online

My computer was STILL ON CENTRAL TIME, but I was in Colorado and arrived an hour early to pick-up my online order.


You get to put your sandwich together using a shopping list of ingredients in several categories: bread, meat, cheese, sauces, veggies, hot/cold among others. You can order a half for about $6 (more filling than a foot long Subway) or a whole (about 14″) for just under $12. Sounds like a lot for a sandwich, but we made two meals out of the wholes for a meal at under $6 per person.


We had the grinders one cold, one hot and a toasted meatball. The grinders were identical with salami, pepperoni, and cappiccolo, balsamic vinaigrette, banana peppers, red onion, tomato, and spices. One hot with spinach added after toasting and one cold with lettuce. With significantly more meat than YOU KNOW WHO they were very good and filling. My only suggestion wood be swapping out the pepperoni with mortadella, the more traditional “Italian” grinder choice, but it was scrummy nonetheless.


The meatball sandwich was also good, but MAKE SURE TO SPECIFY “marinara” when you choose sauces or else you will NOT receive a traditional Italian meatball sandwich. This place is great for people who know what they like and how to put a sandwich together, but people like my wife who DO NOT HAVE A CLUE how to cook a meal may have difficulty constructing an appetizing meal.

CombatCritic Gives Which Wich 6 Out of 10 Bombs for SANDWICH VALUE … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Which Wich on Urbanspoon


Key Words: Which Wich, which, wich, sandwich, grinder, Italian, meatball, fast food, food, eat, shop, Colorado Springs, Colorado, marijuana, CombatCritic, TravelValue, combat, travel

Marsana Wellness in Rincón, Puerto Rico Is Neither A Beachhouse Nor A Spa


“Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa” is neither a spa nor a beach house, it is a large house with four guest rooms a couple blocks from a beach with hardly any sand and with an empty hot tub.

When we arrived after having informed the owner of our exact arrival time, his daughter Marina met us at the gate and asked “can I help you”, not in a friendly manner but as if we did not belong in the neighborhood. Once I told her we were guests, she was very friendly and escorted us to our room. We did not see her again for the next 7 days although it would have been nice to get some local information.

The room was nice, medium in size with a queen size bed, pull out futon-type sofa, a small fridge, wardrobe, TV with cable, and an air conditioning unit. Our room faced the back yard and had a large terrace with a table, two chairs, and a hammock and where we spent a majority of our time. The small bathroom was functional with a large tile shower, toilet and vanity.

Marina’s brother Yuri was around more than she was, doing odd jobs around the house and although friendly enough, never stopped to talk. The house is a work in progress and has a large terrace taking up 2/3 of the roof where there are tables, chairs, and the empty hot tub. The stars at night were fantastic as Rincón is a fairly small town far away from the bright city lights.

There are plenty of restaurants in the area, including Das Alpen Café, a German and Italian restaurant in the center of Rincón with small portions and large prices, El Tapatio, a good, inexpensive Mexican restaurant just north of the house on PR-115 going toward Aguada, and several bakeries, the best being Panaderia Eileen just a block south on 115 where you can get wonderful pastries ($1 each), cheap sandwiches ($2.00-$3.75), and assorted drinks and beer. The bakeries in Puerto Rico have a little bit of everything, including a hot table with carne guisada (beef stew – $2), ribs, chicken, rice, beans, and other local foods. They are a great place to pick up a quick lunch or take some food home for dinner and many have tables where you can eat your toasted sandwich or carne guisada.

Being winter, the winds blew from the East most of the three weeks we were in Puerto Rico, making for poor snorkeling and challenging swimming. The seas around Rincón were rough most of the week we were there, so we found a very nice beach about 10 miles north in Aguadilla called Crash Boat Beach. Crash Boat is clean, has nice sand, a shallow, sandy bottom, and because it faces southwest it avoids the swells and large waves from the north, making for clear water and good snorkeling. There is a bar in the parking lot with cheap beer (Medalla – $1.50) and drinks (piña colada – $4), and there are a few food vendors adjacent in the lot with grilled chicken, pizza, frappes and other snacks. There is not a reef in the area and few rocks, but the visibility was 40-50 feet and there were occasional visits by small schools of fish and a few large Jacks from time to time.

The only snorkeling beach in Rincón at this time of year was Balneario Rincón, a small beach just north of town of Route 430 with a reef that can be accessed from the small sandy beach on the north end past the boat ramp. Steps Beach, named after the set of concrete steps precariously perched on the reef, is reportedly the best snorkeling beach in the area and is quite beautiful, but the water was inaccessible during our stay due to the rough seas and lack of a sandy bottom, only reef. We saw Sandy Beach and Pools Beach, a mile or two north of Steps, but although quite pretty, neither were good for anything but sunbathing because they face north and water was rough.

The description of the property on AirBnB was deceiving because there are no spa services available, no meals or breakfast as advertised, and parking is a challenge with just two spaces available (unsecured) for at least four rooms. The “Jacuzzi” was empty and there are no doctors on staff. The highlight of the week were their four dogs who kept us company and were the sweetest they could be. If you do not like or are afraid of dogs, this is not the place for you. There is an outdoor kitchen for guests to use with few plates, utensils, or pots/pans, so cooking would prove challenging if so inclined. But at $45 a night the room was a decent value, but nothing special. I saw that they raised their rates to $60 since we booked and believe you can find better value elsewhere in the area, possibly on the ocean or with a sea view.

CombatCritic Gives Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa 6 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBAS ARE BUENAS!


PostScript: AirBnB asks guests to review the properties where they stay as well as providing feedback to the host. This is the feedback I provided to Dr. Michael Morales, our host, who was not on the property during the week we stayed at “Marsana Wellness Beachhouse and Spa”:

“We enjoyed our stay, especially your sweet, wonderful dogs. We were pleased overall with the accommodations, but felt your description was misleading. As a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, honesty and integrity are very important to me and I do not like being misled. My decision to stay at your “beachhouse and spa” was partially influenced by your description:

“mountain-beach views” 

– I could barely see the water from the roof, not a beach in sight 

“organic natural macrobiotic and vegan cuisine” 

– Yuri and Marina may be eating it, but we were never told about it

“wholistic therapies, treatments, classes” 

– Where, when? Why were we not informed of these options and who was leading them? 

“natural foods catering, meals available” 

– Again, we were not informed of this option 

“concierge services, natural beauty care treatments” 

– If you call the 5 minutes Marina spent with us the evening we arrived “concierge services”, that is misleading 

“2 naturapathic doctors on site” 

– Are Yuri and Marina naturopathic doctors? 

“acupuncturists, herbalist, nutritionist, physical therapist ,massage therapist, cooking classes and surfboards available” 

– Available where? 

“we have installed our outdoor Jacuzzi” 

– True, but it was empty the entire time we were there and by the rust on the metal, it looks like it probably does not work 

My recommendation is to be more honest in your description or actually provide the options you say you have. My 6 Out of 10 rating is very generous and strictly based on the value of what we got for what we paid ($45 a night for a basic room) and I did not deduct for the deceiving description. 

Again, we were not displeased with our stay, only the misleading description. 

As a travel critic I have the duty to report honestly and accurately to my readers and followers and would be doing them a disservice if I omitted the facts I described above. Because this review will be published  on AirBnB and my blog, http://www.CombatCritic.com, I would be remiss if I were not completely honest. I hope you understand. 

Finally, I think you should consider reducing your rate to the $50 per night range as your new $60 rate is probably more than the room is worth. 

Thanks for having us!”

Key Words: Marsana, wellness, beachhouse, spa, AirBnB, hotel, room, beach, Rincón, Aguada, PR, 115, Puerto Rico, puerto, rico, CombatCritic, combat, critic, TravelValue, travel, value 

Pasta y Pueblo: An Italian Flare in Puerto Rican Cuisine


Pasta y Pueblo
Luquillo, Puerto Rico
$$$$$

Dining Room – Five (5) Tables
We went to El Junque for the day and stopped in Luquillo to try the famous kiosks, but most were closed on New Years Eve. I searched Yelp nearby and found Pasta y Pueblo, but the map led us on a wild goose chase. I persisted and finally found the place using the photos.

The reviews raved about the food, so expectations were high. The place is literally a shack across from the beach, open air with a stiff breeze coming through the openings where windows should be. With just 5 tables, we had to wait about 45 minutes before being seated.

Scallops and Penne Carbonara ($20)
The young lady who took our name was also our server. My wife ordered the scallops and carbonara ($20.00), six nicely seared scallops marinated in a mild sauce atop a bed of penne carbonara (no egg or onion, but tasty nonetheless). I had the grilled skirt steak also with carbonara ($16.50), about 8 ounces of marinated deliciousness.

They have wine, $6/glass and $25 a bottle, beer and an assortment of soft drinks and juices. I had a generous glass of Spanish Tempranillo with dinner.

Skirt Steak with Penne Carbonara ($16)
For dessert there was room for a shared slice of guava cheesecake, at just $3.50 it was the best value in the menu. Thick and rich, the thin guava topping was just enough to accent the taste without overpowering.

A delightful experience with excellent food, fair prices and superb service, we may very we’ll return before heading West next week.





CombatCritic Gives Pasta y Pueblo 8 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBAS ARE BUENO!

Guava Cheesecake ($3.50)



Key Words: combat, CombatCritic, critic, Luquillo, pasta, Pasta y Pueblo, pueblo, steak, scallops, chicken, mussles, wine, beer, puerto, Puerto Rico, rico, TravelValue

Delta Airlines … Is "We Don’t Care, We Don’t Have To" A Thing Of The Past?


Happy Campers
Am I just lucky or is Delta Airlines more user friendly than they used to be? Our recent experience has been nothing but pleasant AND SURPRISING after many years of intercontinental travel and an “I could care less about you because you have no other choice” attitude by the vast majority of airlines. If you have flown in the last 25 years, you know exactly what I am talking about.

It all started when we found a decent airfare for a Christmas trip to Puerto Rico. At $600, more or less, for economy round-trip tickets, we decided that we could afford a few weeks away from the freezing cold and a holiday in the balmy breezes of our tropical Caribbean cousin. 

View From 1st Class … Don’t Get Used To It!
When it came time to choose our seats, I was shocked that the first class cabin was an option, so I jumped on seats 1A and 1B! Woo-hoo … could this be a glitch in Delta’s system or were we really getting “premier” seats for the cost of an economy ticket?

The day before departure, I went online to check-in. A relatively simple process, I had done my homework in advance and resigned myself to the fact that we would be paying $25 per bag for luggage. I heard on National Public Radio just the day before that one airline alone had made BILLION$ this year in baggage and other travel related fees. I never realized how lucrative the airlines add-ons actually were prior to that, so it’s no wonder why they changed the rules just a few short years ago. So when check-in was complete and there was NO $25 FEE for our luggage, I thought I had won the lotto … YIPEEEEEE!

The next surprise came when we arrived at the Kansas City International Airport (they can call it “international” because the apparently have one flight to Canada per day) early on Christmas Eve morning.  Arriving and hour-and-a-half prior to takeoff, there was no line at the Delta counter and we were greeted by a smiling and friendly agent … was I dreaming?

Atlanta, Georgia from 10,00 Feet
Being retired Air Force and having lived overseas for 9 of my 20-year career, I traveled quite extensively by plane and rarely, if ever, encountered a compassionate agent. The best I could normally hope for would be non-committal or neutral attitude and, at worst, an openly hostile and aggressive personality and “we don’t care, we don’t have to” interaction.

The Delta agent was actually quite friendly and helpful, and we breezed right through check-in in less than five minutes. As we approached the security, the TSA Agent told me “you are pre-screened Mr. Sorrentino, please proceed to the gate (without the usual security hassles – shoes/belt off, computer out of the bag, etc.). I never applied for a TSA clearance, so they must have comped me for having had a Top-Secret Clearance and being a retired lieutenant colonel.

All first-class got us on the flight from Kansas City to Atlanta was early boarding, a couple free bloody Marys, and a piece of pound cake. Gone are the days of Mimosas and filet mignons on domestic flights, but hey, who’s to complain!

After much consideration, I think it was just a fluke, one of those times when the planets simply align and everything goes more smoothly than it is supposed to. Deep down inside I hope that the airlines are finally treating us like humans AND WITH JUST A LITTLE DIGNITY AND RESPECT because, after all, WE PAY THEIR DAMN SALARIES … THANKS FOR THE NICE EXPERIENCE DELTA!

CombatCritic Gives Delta Airlines 8 Out of 10 Bombs (On This Trip – 3 Out of 10 Bombs Overall) … Bombs Are Good!






Title: Delta Airlines … Is “We Don’t Care, We Don’t Have To” A Thing Of The Past?

Key Words: Delta, airlines, Delta Airlines, plane, airplane, trip, flight, vacation, customer, first-class, travel, value, TravelValue, CombatCritic, combat, critic

The Leaning Tower of San Juan … El Hamburguer


El Hamurguer
298 Ave Muñoz Rivera
San JuanPuerto Rico 00901

(787) 721-4269









$$$$$

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Feeling burger deprived all day after our horrible experience at El Patio de Sam last night, we walked 2 km (uphill in the snow … both ways!) for a real burger at El Hamburger!


My wife says she saw Anthony Bordain … “I eat, I travel, I drink too much” … eating there on one of his episodes in Puerto Rico and Yelp reviews were mostly 5 stars, so we had to try it. We almost literally ran into the place on Christmas day coming home from El Escambrón beach, so I knew where it was.


The place looks like it’s on fire with smoke billowing out the top and across the busy street from the dozens of small, very thick burgers being prepared for inhalation by their many ravenous patrons. It is rather small with one dining area seating about 40, a small counter, and another small room that we did not see well because of the crowd around the front door. The place was packed!


Counter and Cash Register

They had two servers, as far as we could tell, doing a remarkably fine job considering the number of people crammed inside. We ordered the bacon cheddar burgers ($3.60 each), a side of French fries, onion rings, a root beer, and a Medalla beer.


Leaning Tower of San Juan – $3.60

The burger patty, like El Patio de Sam, were smallish but thick, probably 5 ounces or so (but also $7 less than Sam) and smothered with cheddar cheese. There were several pieces of bacon wrapped in a heap on one bun and our server brought a container with plenty of lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. By the time I built my burger, it looked like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


The onion rings were good and plentiful for $1.90, but a little too well done for my taste. The fries were abundant for the $1.90 price, the shoestring variety, hot and crispy just the way I like them. Root beer is root beer ($1.49) and the local Medalla Light thirst quenchingly cold and at $3.60 a reasonable price.


Dining Area – Couples and Families

The servers are nice and the crowd mostly couples and families, so the noise level is moderate. They only take cash, so bring enough with or use the convenient ATM they parked right outside the door and you must pay the quiet, burly man behind the cash register before you leave.


El Hamburger serves a great, reasonably priced burger and all of the usual accompaniments, so if you are hungry for the all American meal, by all means … give them a try!


CombatCritic Gives El Hamburger 8 Bombs Out of 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD!


 




Key Words: El Hamburger, hamburger, burger, French, fries, onion, rings, beer, soda, pop, Coke, Medalla, bacon, cheese, eat, food, lunch, dinner, CombatCritic, combat

The Java Break Breaks The Monotony … Coffee, Caffiene, Studying … What Else Do You Need?


Our very first visit, we had a cappuccino with homemade almond milk, a 16 ounce latte with skim milk, and a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast panino to start Christmas Eve Eve day, paying just $10 for the whole shebang!

The Java Break has friendly service and four large rooms perfect for studying while ingesting some much needed caffeine while studying or an early morning breakfast with your (my) sweety.

The place may seem small from the outside, but it’s not. They have fair prices and we will be back again soon!

CombatCritic Gives Java Break 7 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Key Words: Break, coffee, CombatCritic, Java, Kansas, Lawrence, New Hampshire, TravelValue, combat, critic, coffee, cafe, caffiene, cup, joe
Rear (Right) Room
Rear (Left) Room
Coffee Menu
Sandwich Menu
Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Breakfast Panino – $5.25
Back Room

Is The Voice’s Will Champlin Just Shy or Is There More To It?


Is Will Champlin, the very talented contestant and finalist on this season’s NBC’s The Voice, just very shy or does he possibly struggle with what has been referred to until recently as Asperger’s Syndrome? Could NBC, The Voice, or Will himself be waiting until the season is over to make an announcement, not wanting to influence fan voting either positively or negatively?

As a licensed professional counselor with over 30 years experience as a clinician and experience working with and treating those with autism, I would personally not be surprised. If Will did have Asperger’s Disorder (now referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder in the new DSM-V) or another form of autism, all I could say is BRAVO! Not because I would ever wish something as debilitating as autism on anyone, but because he could make an excellent ambassador and role model for those individuals and families struggling with autism and other mental health concerns and obviously overcame great odds to achieve the success he has on The Voice. That could potentially have a massive impact on the elimination of the many negative stigmas surrounding not just autism, but all mental disorders, something I have personally been fighting very hard to achieve.

I am not going to detail the differences between DSM-IV-TR and DSM-V diagnoses here as that would take many pages and is not really relevant to this discussion. Let it suffice to say that whether we call it “Asperger’s Disorder” or “Autism Spectrum Disorder” is not important because they are both merely diagnoses, labels we as clinicians are often mandated to provide and do not define who a person is.

Will Champlin appears to be an extremely quiet person and smiles are few and far between, both symptoms of what we used to call Asperger’s and other Autism Spectrum Disorders. In-fact, Carson Daly commented for the first time just last week that it was nice to see Will finally smiling. Will also appears rather uncomfortable on stage with difficulty making eye contact. Another thing that has stood out is Will’s unwillingness, inability, or lack of comfortableness touching others. Most, if not all Voice contestants hug or otherwise touch Carson Daly after a performance or when greeting others, including their coaches and other contestants, but Will does not. 

I have seen Carson deliberately not touch Will in those situations and last week, while the very talented (and probable winner of this season’s show) Tessanne Chin and James Wolpert (who was eliminated last week), Adam Levine’s two other finalists, were holding each other tightly while waiting for the announcement of whom would be moving on to the #VoiceFinale, Will Champlin stood alone and emotionless. These are all symptoms of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, a very few symptoms of a very complex set of criteria we use to make diagnoses.

I do not know Will Champlin and do not have enough information to make a diagnosis, nor should I. Maybe he is just a very shy person or maybe he struggles with autism. All I am saying is that based on the behaviors I witnessed during this season of The Voice, he could be one of the millions of people who struggle with the developmental disorder we refer to as “autism”. 

Autism comes in many forms and varies wildly in severity, as do all of what we in the profession call “mental disorders”. Whether Will Champlin has a diagnosable disorder or not cannot and will not be determined here nor would it define him. However, an influential person with Asperger’s, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or whatever label we as humans feel the need to put on people with symptoms of social discomfort, could bring positive awareness to the struggles the millions of people with mental health issues suffer through each and every day.

I have written extensively about the stigmas surrounding mental disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression, both in general and specifically in the military. My goal here is to help eliminate those stigmas and the many misconceptions the public has regarding mental disorders and mental health treatment. 

The winner of this season’s The Voice has not been announced as I write this and believe Tessanne Chin will likely win. But I am pulling for Will Champlin mostly because I would like Will to succeed on the Voice and in life. 

Good luck Will!


Key Words: NBC, television, The Voice, voice, Will Champlin, Carson Daly, show TV, singing, song, talent, Asperger’s, autism, spectrum, disorder, CombatCounselor, combat, counselor, psychology, therapy

Copyright 2013 – CombatCounselor and 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved

"Namaste" … India Palace is a "WELCOME", but Expensive, Delight!


Lawrence, Kansas

India Palace
129 E 10th Street,
Lawrence, KS 66044

Telephone:  785-331-4300

“Namaste … India Palace is a WELCOME”, but Expensive, Delight!


Chutnies Accompany the Meat Samosas (not shown … Oops!
“Namaste” is a term used in India and Nepal as well as many other places around the world.  A customary greeting when individuals meet and a valediction upon their parting, Namaste is the most common form of such a salutation and is considered a non-contact form of salutation.  Namaste actually is formed from two Sanskrit words, “namah”, meaning  “salutation” or “ adoration” and “te”, meaning “you”. When spoken to another person, it is commonly accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. This gesture, called Añjali Mudrā or Pranamasanacan also be performed wordlessly, carrying the same meaning. We were made to feel very welcome on our visit to India Palace.


Sitting a half a block off of Massachusetts Avenue, the hub of activity and the centerpiece of downtown Lawrence, Kansas, India Palace is walking distance from our home and convenient for those shopping downtown.  The décor is basic and the staff friendly and welcoming.  We were greeted immediately as we walked-in, having a reservation for a Friday night which was apparently not necessary as would be the case in most downtown restaurants on a weekend.  Based on our experience, there is only one possible reason for not being busier, a fact I will get to in a bit.  But first, let me talk about the cuisine …

Lamb Rogan Josh with Basmati Rice

I ordered a Fat Tire ($3.00 – 12 ounce mug), one of two draft

beers available on the menu, the other being Boulevard Wheat (also $3.00) and Coke products are available in addition to an assortment of bottled beer and wines.  I started with the meat samosas ($4.95 for two), a blend of ground beef and lamb, lightly seasoned with Indian spices and containing less vegetables than other samosas I have eaten at chow halls around the world.  They were moderate in size, crispy dough outside and hot, flavorful meat inside, accompanied by three sauces, two of them chutneys.  It was one of the better samosas I have had, having eaten in dozens of Indian restaurants stateside and in the United Kingdom where Indian food is a weekly staple.



We ordered the Lamb Rogan Josh ($14.95): tender morsels of lamb cooked in an onion sauce with yogurt, nuts, and a unique blend of spices and coriander; Sag Paneer ($11.95): simmered with fresh spinach cooked with homemade cheese and spices; and Beef Curry ($12.95); succulent pieces of beef cooked in thick curry sauce with herbs, all accompanied by large servings of bismati (white) rice.  I asked the server if they had pilau rice, my favorite, a kind of Indian fried rice with peas, onions, and other vegetables and spices, much more flavorful than the bismati rice we received, but unnecessary because the rice is quickly covered with the entrees when consumed.


Beef Curry with Onion Nan
All entrees and the bismati rice are served in small copper pots, piping hot from the kitchen and easily shared amongst our table.  The lamb rogan josh came with medium size chunks of tender lamb in a medium-thick, creamy and mildly spicy red sauce which was delicious.  At $14.95 for entrée with rice, I would expect more food, but would recommend lowering the price instead because the serving is more than enough for one person.  I have seen entrees that size and quality in the $8-$12 range at other restaurants, so maybe that explains why India Palace was not busier on a Friday night.  It is a shame because so many restaurants, including India Palace, try to generate profits by raising prices instead of providing quality food at a reasonable price or through competitive marketing (e.g. Social media, coupons – Groupon).  In a college town like Lawrence, you are not going to generate much business by charging $10–$15 for entrees (ala carte) and that seems to be the case at India Palace.

The sag paneer is a thick, spicy, creamed spinach concoction with chunks of Indian cheese and was mild enough for my Italian wife who cannot handle spicy dishes.  Slightly sweet, yet spicy, it was one of the better sag paneers we have tried in recent memory, but again, at $10.95, slightly overpriced based on the inexpensive ingredients.  The majority of India is vegetarian and I am a carnivore, but Indian chefs use exotic spices such as curry and coriander so well that I do not even miss the meat!  The beef curry was also a bit pricey at $12.95, yet rich and delicious.  As a comparison, I recently had a wonderful beef Massaman curry at Zen Zero, a Thai restaurant down the street from India Palace on Massachusetts, including jasmine rice for just $7.69 … $5.26 less than my curry at India Palace!

Sag Paneer with Nan

The lunch buffet may be a better value, but unsure of the price, I will have to get back to you on that one.  I absolutely love butter chicken, rich, creamy boneless chicken chunks cooked with fresh garlic, ginger, and a touch of tomato in a light creamy sauce and spices, also served with rice and the server indicated that it is sometimes on the buffet (it is on the menu).  Delightful staff, we felt very welcome during our entire meal, and the food was some of the best Indian I have had, and that is “a lot”.  Unfortunately, our bill totaled $75 including tip, $25 per head and not an inexpensive proposition.  Considring the fact that there are two fast-food Indian restaurants within a few blocks either way on Mass, India Palace should seriously condor lowering their prices and focusing on “value” by utilizing coupons and Groupons to drawn 30,000 hungry students.


CombatCritic Gives India Palace 6 Bombs Out of 10 … Bombs Are GOOD!
India Palace on Urbanspoon

Key Words: India, Palace, Indian, food, cuisine, eat, curry, samosa, nan, rice, rogan, josh, vindaloo, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, combat, critic, twitter, Facebook

On the Border … Surprisingly Good for a Chain!


On The Border – Barry Rd.

8340 NW Roanridge Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64151

Website: OnTheBorder.com
Phone: 816-759-2270
Price: $$$$$

I usually do not review chain restaurants, but I was pleasantly surprised on a recent visit to On The Border, a Mexican restaurant chain found many places across the country.

I decided to go because I was havin’ a hankerin’ for tacos that evening and recalled hearing the TV commercial about their “Endless Tacos”.  I am not usually a fan of “all you can eat” restaurants and promotions because I tend to to just that … eat all I can…AND MORE!

It was a Saturday night and the place was packed, but only had to wait ten minutes for a table.  I was greeted by Kelsie, a lovely and personable young lady who just graduated from Northwest Missouri State and is planning on becoming a registered nurse…BRAVO Kelsie!

I ordered a house margarita, the Guacamole Viva!, and Endless Tacos, but being rather busy it took ten minutes or so to get my margarita.  It was tasty enough, but a little “light” on alcohol for the price.

Kelsie arrived shortly thereafter with my Guacamole Viva! which she prepared tableside with two ripe avocados, a little salt, fresh cilantro, diced red onion (I would have used white onion), a splash of lime juice, and chopped tomato.  I am “The Guacamole King” and famous for my delicious guacamole.  A guacamole purist at heart,  I normally ditch the tomatoes (usually a filler in restaurants to make it look like you are getting more, but paying mostly for the much cheaper tomatoes), use finely chopped white onion, and added a clove of garlic or two.  Guacamole Viva! was good nonetheless, but the chips (and salsa) that came with my meal were too thin and broke half the time I dipped…very unnerving!

The Endless Tacos come with spanish rice and beans, black or refried.  You get three (your first go-around) and get to choose from three meats, ground beef, shredded chicken, or pulled pork (carnitas for you non-gringos).  You also get your choice of tortilla, corn or flour, soft or deep fried.  I chose two ground beef tacos in fried corn tortillas and one pork in a soft flour tortilla.  I also dispensed with the rice, knowing that I was not going to waste a bit of room on the cheap “filler” and go for the gusto with the tacos … AND I DID!

The beef tacos were excellent, coming with plenty of meat, some shredded cheddar cheese, and a small amount of lettuce and tomato on the plate (for all three tacos – more tomatoes required!).  I added some refried beans, guacamole, and salsa to the beef tacos and they were excellent!  Unlike Jalisco, which I reviewed a week or so back, the taco shells remained firmly in one piece, a sign of an expert taco maker and the way I prefer them. 

The pork (carnitas) tacos were also very good.  The meat was bountiful and cooked just right, there was a little cheese (I would have liked a bit more), and the tortilla much larger than the corn and toasted just enough to remain pliable, but soft enough to contain the beans, guacamole, and salsa I added.

In all, the meal was very good and I ended-up getting seven tacos.  You should know that after the initial “three” tacos, subsequent “endless tacos” come only in pairs of two, so my second order was a replica of the first, but I only ended-up getting two beef tacos.  I had to order the other pork taco later, but when it arrived there were two, so I took home the seventh taco along with the extra guacamole fro lunch the next day.

I must say that the highlight of my meal was Kelsie. She was sweet and attentive, following up just enough and not too much to make my meal enjoyable and stress free.  Best of luck to you Kelsie in your nursing career!  If you are as good a nurse as you are a server, your patients will be in very good hands!






CombatCritic gives On The Border 6 BOMBS OUT OF 10 … BOMBS ARE GOOD! 

Key Words: on the border, on, border, Kansas City, northland, barry, road, mexican, food, restaurant, eat, taco, enchilada, margarita, burrito, flauta, bar, combatcritic, combat, critic

Jalisco: Sports Bar or Mexican Restaurant … Maybe Both?


Jalisco Mexican Restaurant (CLOSED)

Category: Mexican
7749 NW Prairie View Rd
Kansas CityMO 64152

(816) 587-0899

Jalisco is more like a sports bar than a Mexican restaurant with TVs everywhere you look.  The decor is new, plain, and cheap, but the colors are pleasant and, most important, the restaurant is clean!


The food is good in general, starting with the guacamole which is fresh and tasty at $4.00 for a medium size serving. The cheese dip, also $4.00 is also tasty and same size as the guacamole.  Margarites are also $4.00, not bad, but on the small side and with NOT MUCH PUNCH if you know what I mean


The first time I visited, shortly after their opening a few months back, I had the carnitas (slow cooked chunks of pork) and the was tender and plentiful.  Served with tortillas, pico di gallo, rice, and beans, a serving of guacamole would have been nice and is always a welcome accompaniment to the tender pork delights.


My wife had the cheese quesadilla, also very good although a bit pricey at $7.50 for a couple flour tortillas and some cheese.  I went for the taco special yesterday, having three beef tacos with rice and beans for $6.99.  I was disappointed in the taco shells, looking like the prefab variety you get at the supermarket.  The tacos only came with white cheese and lettuce, no tomato or pico di gallo, a necessity when eating tacos as far as I am concerned.  All three of the tacos broke in half upon first bite, so I had quite a mess on my hands … literally!


The service is good, the salsa fresh, and tortilla chips warm.  Do not forget to ask for the “HOT” sauce, a tomatillo variety with more kick than the standard, but not extremely hot.







CombatCritic gives Jalisco 6 BOMBS out of 10 with room to grow as they mature and we try new, hopefully more impressive, dishes … BOMBS ARE GOOD!

Jalisco Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Title:  Sports Bar or Mexican Restaurant … Maybe Both?


Key Words: chips, salsa, Kansas, City, combat, CombatCritic, critic, eat, enchilida, food, Jalisco, Kansas, Mexican, Northland, Platte, restaurant, salsa, taco, urbanspoon, Woods, Yelp

SIGN OUR WHITE HOUSE PETITION: To help end military suicides and the negative stigmas surrounding PTSD and mental health treatment in the military


Until our WHITE HOUSE PETITION reaches 150 signatures, it will not be publicly viewable on the Open Petitions section of We the People (the White House Petitions webpage), so be sure to share these URLs with all of your friends and followers: 

Petition Verbiage:
More of our men and women in uniform die by their own hand than are killed in combat! Nineteen (19) military/veterans commit suicide each day and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a factor in many of those deaths.

Military men and women DO NOT HAVE THE CONFIDENTIALITY available in the private sector when seeking treatment for their problems (e.g. PTSD, depression, anxiety), causing negative PTSD and mental health treatment stigmas. Because troops fear losing their career or security clearance, they REFUSE TO SEEK TREATMENT, many killing themselves instead.

END THE STIGMAS NOW, today, by giving confidentiality to our military, before one more hero dies by his or her own hand!

WE NEED 100,000 SIGNATURES BY APRIL 12TH, 2013 IN ORDER FOR THE PRESIDENT TO TAKE ACTION, SO GET THE WORD OUT NOW:

Facebook Post: 
More of our men and women in uniform die by their own hand than are killed in combat! Nineteen (19) military/veterans commit suicide each day and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a factor in many of those deaths.

Military men and women DO NOT HAVE THE CONFIDENTIALITY available in the private sector when seeking treatment for their problems (e.g. PTSD, depression, anxiety), causing negative PTSD and mental health treatment stigmas. Because troops fear losing their career or security clearance, they REFUSE TO SEEK TREATMENT, many killing themselves instead.

END THE STIGMAS NOW, today, by giving confidentiality to our military, before one more hero dies by his or her own hand!

Please SIGN OUR WHITE HOUSE PETITION to end military suicides and the negative mental health and PTSD stigmas in the military by clicking on the link below.

IF YOU REALLY APPRECIATE AND SUPPORT OUR MILITARY MEN AND WOMEN, SHARE THIS POST WITH ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS…NOW!

Twitter Tweet: 

Help end military #suicides and the negative #stigmas surrounding #PTSD and mental health treatment in the #military 
http://wh.gov/oKbz
Key Words: anxiety, career, combat, confidentiality, depression, health, mental, military, PTSD, post-traumatic, stress, disorder, security, stigma, suicide, treatment