Kansas City, MO: Pretentious, Rushed, Cold, Dark, Cramped, Pricey – Garozzo’s Was Mezzo Mezzo (So-S0)


Garozzo’s Ristorante 
(Downtown)

526 Harrison Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: (816) 221-2455
Website: garozzos.com
Prices: $$$$


First, let me apologize for the quality of the photos in this post. Garozzo’s is so dark there was not enough light to take a photo without a flash or the external light source I normally use and I did not want to disturb our fellow diners so that I could take a decent photo … sorry!

We have been to Garozzo’s several times, but this was the first in about four years and since I started this blog. The food was always good, a bit pricey, but solid Italian food in a nice, but too dark and pretentious atmosphere. I say pretentious because the food screams “mom and pop” Italian restaurant, not upscale, fancy shmancy with servers (mostly waiters) dressed to the nines and with attitudes to match. 
This visit was no different. Good food, a room too dark to read the menu, a table too small to hold our food and drinks, and a waiter that was courteous, but all business, and a bit too eager to get rid of us and earn some extra tips. When you drop a C-note for dinner for two, you should not be rushed through your meal. We were.

I will not use the server’s name, but we were quickly welcomed, being the first diners at 5:30pm on a Tuesday after attending the closing for the sale of our home and celebrating with a nice dinner out. My wife and I were talking, but the server seemed eager to take our order, interrupting our conversation to ask what we wanted to drink. I asked for water and a bottle of their house cabernet sauvignon ($24).

After bringing our drinks, again interrupting our conversation, I ordered a stuffed artichoke as an appetizer (antipasto) and for entrees my wife requested the Tortelloni Gina and I the Veal Parmigiana. I asked the server if the dinners came with salad and pasta (in my case) as I seemed to remember salad coming with the entrees the last time we were there. I was either wrong or they had changed their policies because the server told me that a salad was “an additional $4”. The veal did come with a “small serving of pasta with Maggie’s Sugo” I was told.

My wife and I returned to our conversation, but about five minutes later I realized that we had not ordered our salads, my mistake, so I asked my wife to get our server’s attention, which she quickly did. I said, “I’m sorry, but we forgot to order salads”, to which he replied, “well, I already put you dinner orders in, but I can take care of that with the kitchen”. My wife ordered the Insalata Caesar ($4) and I the Insalata Santa Teresa ($4).

The cabernet was actually quite good, from a California winery they prominently feature on their wine list. The artichoke ($10), stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs, steamed, and topped with garlic butter, quickly arrived and we dug right in. My grandmother used to make similar stuffed artichokes, except she used olive oil instead of butter and added small chunks of salami, but these were very good with tasty stuffing and large tender leaves. We were not even halfway through eating our artichoke when our server arrived with our salads. As a former waiter myself, there is nothing that pisses me off more than a server who brings the next course when we have not even finished the last, but I bit my tongue because it really did not matter that much because the salads were not going to get cold while sitting on the table, which they did for another 10-15 minutes while we finished our antipasto. The table, by the way, was so small (like all of the tables for two) that the server had difficulty finding space for our premature salads.


My wife then started eating her Caesar salad, waiting for her favorite part, the heart, while I polished off the last few leaves of the artichoke. She finished her salad, which she said was “nothing special”, in the interim and I, after the server cleared a few plates, then started eating mine. About halfway through my salad, which was good, with Romaine lettuce, red onion, chunks of goat cheese, Dijon vinaigrette, and topped with sliced roasted red peppers, but unremarkable, the server arrived with my wife’s Tortelloni Gina. That was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, so I asked our server: “Are we in a hurry?”, to which he replied, “oh, I’m sorry, let me take that away”. I proceeded to finish my salad.
Hovering, waiting for me to finish, when the server saw my salad plate was empty, he quickly swept the plate away and returned a few minutes later with our entrees. My wife’s Tortelloni Gina ($19) was filled with chicken and prosciutto, and served in a very traditional creamy Alfredo sauce with mushrooms and peas. It was hot, very large, extremely rich, and my wife, who was born in Italy, enjoyed it very much. Bravo! The server had tried to sway me away from the Veal Parmigiano (veal parmesan to you Olive Garden lovers), recommending the Vitello Spiedini Sophia Marie ($27) instead. Because I have had every other veal dish at Garozzo’s, including the veal Sophia Maria and Saltimbocca ($27), which are both excellent by the way, I wanted to try the Vitello Parmigiana ($24), my failsafe in Italian restaurants and a good indicator of the quality of an Italian-American kitchen (you will not find veal parmigiano in Italy unless the restaurant caters to Americans).
The veal was lukewarm at best, with three very small medallions topped with the house red sauce and fontina cheese, a bit odd as “parmigiana” is usually topped with mozzarella, baked or broiled, and sprinkled with parmigiana (parmesan cheese), hence the name. The sauce was very good in comparison to most stateside Italian restaurants, but the dish would have been much better had it been served hot, warm even, and with a bit more veal. The accompanying pasta was negligible and obviously came out of a bag or box. At $24 for just an entree, $30 including salad, it would have been a poor value, even if it had been served at the appropriate temperature.

I understand that it was my mistake, asking for salads five minutes after our order was taken, but our server said he would “take care of it”, as he should have. There is no excuse for bringing multiple or mixed courses, particularly in an “upscale” restaurant such as Garozzo’s. There is also no excuse for serving a $24 veal dish cold, no matter what the circumstances.

I like the place in general, but Garozzo’s would be much better if they dropped the pretenses, brought up the lights, bought some bigger tables, and lowered the prices a tad. I also believe that customers should NEVER be rushed, especially when they are paying $50 a head and up for a meal.

CombatCritic Gives Garozzo’s Ristorante 5 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Unprofessional Service, Cold Food, Darkness, Small Tables, And Questionable Value … More Bombs Are Better!

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Garozzo's Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Kansas City, MO: Pretentious, Rushed, Cold, Dark, Cramped, Pricey – Garozzo’s Was Mezzo Mezzo (So-S0)

Key Words: Garozzo’s, Garozzo, Italian, Kansas City, Kansas, city, Missouri, CombatCritic, Italy, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, ristorante, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”
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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

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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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:

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Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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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”


Overland, Park, Kansas: Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate "Talks The Talk", But Does Not "Walk The Walk"


Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate
Real Estate Agents, Real Estate Services
8500 W 95th St
Overland Park, KS 66212
Phone: (913) 660-0822
Website: kc.selecthomes.com

Part of traveling includes trips to exciting new places and the possibility of picking up and moving to a different city. We visited Kansas City in 2007 never expecting to move there. Now it is time to move on, so we are selling our home. 

After hearing Martin Taggart, Team Leader and Lead Listing Specialist for Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate, on a local radio show, he seemed to say all of the right things so I asked him to possibly list the home we are planning to sell. During our first meeting he seemed personable and savvy, but a couple things he did and said did not sit well at gut level. For example, after viewing the house the tenant had to get her kids to their soccer game, so Martin invited us to Caribou Coffee to make his pitch and, hopefully for him, seal the deal. When it came time to pay for my, my wife’s, and his coffees, about $11 total, Martin did not even attempt to pay, hanging back while letting me pay and deliver his complimentary coffee to him. What kind of professional lets a potential customer capable of generating over $20,000 in commission pay for their own coffee AND HIS after extending the invitation? I should have listened to my gut and parted ways then and there, but I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

His Gold and Platinum “Worry Free Listing Addendum” scheme is nothing more, a scheme to get another 1% commission out of sellers (for a total commission of 7% – Platinum). The Worry Free Listing ADDendum also ADDs an ADDitional $595 “Transaction Fee” on top of the already exorbitant standard 6% real estate commission (or 7% in the case of Martin’s Platinum scheme) charged on all real estate transactions, something I have never seen in all my years of buying and selling houses. When I asked him why I had to pay a transaction fee on top of even a standard 6% commission, he quickly told me “I’ll waive it and pay it out of my own pocket”, as if it were something he would owe someone else rather than an invention to produce more profit for his company that it actually is.

Martin was anxious to get the house on the market within two weeks, so he promised to help us expedite the listing and sale by referring contractors he claimed he has “special pull with” to perform needed work on the home in preparation for sale, but none of them panned out, either not following-up or not being available to perform the work soon enough to list the home according to Martin’s recommended timeline. Clearly there was no communication between he and “his contractors” about the schedule, wasting my time with numerous phone calls, emails, texts, and a 100 mile round trip to meet one at the subject home in Kansas City. In the end, not one performed as promised, another indication that Martin’s words carry little weight.

He also led us to believe that Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate located in Overland Park, Kansas is #9 in total units sold in the US and #1 in Kansas, “according to the Wall Street Journal”, but upon closer inspection of the link he sent me to confirm these supposed “facts” (see table below), I found that it had nothing to do with the Wall Street Journal at all and the numbers he was quoting included sales for four offices throughout Kansas, including Hutchinson (219 miles from Kansas City). Newton (182 miles from Kansas City), and the home office in Wichita (199 miles from Kansas City).

2015 Teams by Transaction Sides
Rank
Team Name
Company
MSA
City
State
Transactions
Website
9
Select Homes – Team Real Estate
Wichita, KS
Wichita
KS
952.00
15
ReeceNichols – Leawood
Kansas City, MO-KS
Leawood
KS
738.00
24
ReeceNichols – Lee’s Summit
Kansas City, MO-KS
Lee’s Summit
MO
628.00

How can someone include home sales in cities 200 miles away in the numbers that lead people to believe that their Kansas City Team is one of the “top-10 teams in the country”?

Here is Martin on KMBZ Radio, leading listeners, as he did me, to believe that his “Kansas City Team” sales numbers include those of the franchises’ offices in Wichita, Hutchinson, and Newton, Kansas:
I followed-up in an email, asking Martin: 

  1. “You claim being one of the top (#9) teams in the country according to the Wall Street Journal and Kansas’ #1 team, but you don’t mention Kansas City. Why? 
  2. Why can’t I readily find these accolades on your website?
  3. Where can I find the sources for your claims?”. 

His response was “Our team outsold the #2 team in the Metro last year by several hundred units”, referring to a team whose sales numbers included ONLY the Kansas City Metro area, not the entire State of Kansas


When I held his feet to the fire and questioned him about the authenticity of the data he was quoting, requested that he provide objective comparative data in regard to sales in Kansas City alone, and asked him to answer numerous other questions I had, including why he was comparing apples to onions (a Kansas-wide franchise group compared to a single Kansas City based real estate team), Martin refused to answer and quickly replied “I respectfully withdraw our offer to engage in the listing of your home”.

There is an old saying in the military about talking the talk and walking the walk, and Martin Taggart can clearly “talk and talk and talk the talk” … I will leave it at that.

Martin Taggart and Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate Get One Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My “WALL OF SHAME” … More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:

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TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Select Homes – KC Team Real Estate “Talks The Talk”, But Does Not “Walk The Walk”

Key Words: Select Homes, KC Team Real Estate, Martin Taggart, Martin, Taggart, Kansas City, select, homes, real estate, realtor, agent, real, estate, TravelValue, travel, value, service, review, Yelp

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

Kansas City, MO: "Great War" Museum Not As Great As Expected


National World War I Museum and Memorial

Liberty Memorial
100 W 26th Street
Kansas City, MO 64108
Phone: (816) 888-8100
Website: theworldwar.org
Prices: $$$$

Maybe I was expecting more based on the reviews and word-of-mouth regarding the National World War I Museum, but comparatively speaking it is not even close to the top of my list of “must see” museums. Do not get me wrong, the grounds are impressive, the memorial iconic and spectacular, and the view of downtown Kansas City, Missouri unequaled, but the museum itself is overpriced and lacking in many ways.
Beside the numerous cannons and artillery, there are two airplanes, a tank, a couple vehicles and not very many World War I relics. Like the Eisenhower Library in Abilene a couple hours west on I-70, there are plenty of things to read and a couple movies, but authentic, original World War I artifacts and memorabilia are sadly lacking.

One interesting, interactive display is a large, life-size trench running down the right wall as you enter the first hall. You can access holes in the trench wall at various points as you meander through the first five or six exhibits. As you stick your head through the wall to get a glimpse of what might have been happening nearly 100 years ago, the voice of a soldier reading a letter home or making a diary entry automatically comes on, an interesting and surprising addition.

We paid $12 each with our military and teacher discounts, still a bit stiff considering the size of the museum and the number of exhibits. A significant portion of the museum is occupied by a large circular, central room containing what are supposed to be interactive displays on a variety of subjects. If they worked, they would have been quite interesting, even spectacular. Massive computer screens laid out like large tables, you are supposed to be able to use the little red flashlights, attached to the tables by a cord, to point to the horizontal screens and retrieve information on a particular World War I topic. However, the flashlights did nothing, so the screens displayed whatever they were programmed to display and nothing more. The most interesting aspect of these central rooms were the numerous soundproof studios where you can sit and listen to music and voices of famous people of the time among other things.

Another overly large exhibit portrays trench warfare in a 100 foot long trench, below the overhead walkway and viewing area, with soldiers marching and a bi-plane overhead, all in front of a large screen running a narrated video of how the US entered the war (undetermined schedule). The video was interesting, but we happened upon it by chance, having no idea exactly what it was at first or how often the 15-minute show ran. This exhibit, along with the central rooms with interactive displays discussed previously, take up at least half of the museum’s square footage and could have been better utilized in my opinion.

There were several uniforms and guns, flags and banners, even two Congressional Medals of Honor, an early delivery truck, an ambulance, a mule train, a bi-plane and a tank. We had planned on spending an hour-and-a-half, but were done in a little over an hour.

At $14 for a two-day pass, I am not sure what you could possibly do for two days here, the museum is not particularly cheap. Something more in the $7 to $10 range would seem more appropriate. Don’t get me wrong, the “Great War” does not get the attention it deserves and a far as Kansas City is concerned, this museum and memorial is a big, important attraction. But having seen the Smithsonian and National Air Museum (both free by the way), the Vatican Museum and the Forum in Rome, the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay and L’Orangerie in Paris, Del Prado in Madrid, the National Archeological Museum in Athens, and the British Museum, Tate Gallery and Tower of London in London (of course), just to name a few, this museum just does not stack up in terms of exhibits, artifacts and bang-for-the-buck. Did I say the view of downtown Kansas City is phenomenal?

CombatCritic Gives The National World War I Museum and Memorial 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Kansas City, MO: “Great War” Museum Not All That Great

Key Words: National World War I Museum, national, Kansas City, Great War, great, war, World War I, museum, memorial, liberty, world, war, I, 1, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

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

Exceptional Northern Italian Cuisine Plus Moderate Prices Equals A "Decent Value"


Lidia’s Italy
101 W 22nd St
Kansas City, MO 64108
Phone number (816) 221-3722
Website: lidias-kc.com
Prices: $$$$

 
We have been going to Lidia’s since we moved to Kansas City in 2008 and have never been disappointed. Whether ordering ala carte from the menu or enjoying their fabulous Sunday brunch, the food is always consistent and delicious although a bit pricey.
 
Antipasti (appetizers) range from $7.50 to $14.00 and include traditional favorites like “frico” (cheese crisp – $12.50), “cozze” (mussels – $12.00), “arancini” (deep fried risotto balls – $12.00), and “pappa al pomodoro” ( a Tuscan tomato and bread soup – $7.50). The frico, for example, is delicious with crispy cheese (usually a higher-fat hard cheeses like Montasio or Asiago) baked in the oven with various decadent ingredients, having originated in the Friuli region of Italy.
 
Insalate (salads) are normally ordered along with the main course (secondo) when dining in Italy and are not “meal size” as you will find in the United States. At Lidia’s they range from $8.00 to $12.50, but I cannot comment on them as I have never ordered one because, other than the Caprese salad – one of my favorites, you should not come to restaurant like Lidia’s unless you plan on focusing on pasta and meat/seafood dishes, which are quite filling.
 
Ranging from $17.00 (canneloni) to $22.00 (pasta trio), the prices for their “primi” (first courses – pastas) are Lidia’s “Best Value”, especially their “pasta trio” which my wife and I have had on numerous occasions. This “all you can eat” medley of three pastas changes daily and includes three different pastas (fettucine, penne, ravioli, etc.), each with its own sauce (butter and sage, amatriciana, and other favorites). Servers come around with a large plate of each, giving you as much or as little as you desire so you can sample all three before deciding on which one (or three) you want more of. You can add a caesar salad and choice of dessert for an additional $13, but I would not waste my money and recommend enjoying as much pasta as you can instead.
 
The meat and seafood (secondi) dishes are not cheap at $21 for the lemon chicken to $49.50 for the bone-in rib eye steak, but if you like a traditional Italian meal with antipasto, primo and secondo, you will not be disappointed … but you will be bursting at the seams! Secondi at Lidia’s, unlike restaurants in Italy, are accompanied by “contorni” (vegetables and potatoes), making a full meal if you prefer meat and potatoes over pasta. My favorite used to be their “involtini di manzo”, rolled beef scallops with pickle, vegetables and mustard (a Northern Italian recipe), accompanied by mashed potatoes, but it has not been on the menu lately.
 
Their wine list is extensive with nothing under $32 for a bottle (the “Value List” has a nice selection of reds and whites) and ranging up to as high as $495 for a bottle of Lange (2005) Gaja if that is your style. We have ordered from the value list every time we have been there and found the wines quite good and somewhat as the name implies, a “decent” value. They also have a full bar with drinks ranging from $9 to $34.
 
We have not been there for Sunday brunch in several years, but it used to be an excellent value at $29.50. Served buffet style, you can help yourself to a nice selection of antipasti and dolci (desserts), ordering a selection from a wide variety on main courses, including the “Pasta Tasting Menu”, frico, porchetta hash, osso buco, and lasagna Bolognese among others.
 
We have never been there for lunch, but looking at the menu it appears to be a decent value with meal selections reduced by $5 or so compared to the dinner menu and with sandwiches in the $12 to $13 range. 
 
Expect to pay a $100 to $125 for dinner for two, including antipasti and either a primo (pasta) or secondo, a bottle of wine from the value list, and a shared dessert (tip and tax included). We cannot afford to spend that kind of money every time we go out to eat, but for special occasions Lidia’s Italy – Kansas City is a decent value with exceptional food, excellent service, and moderate prices.
 

CombatCritic Gives Lidia’s Italy – Kansas City 7 out of 10 Bombs … More Bombs Are Better!

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Title: Exceptional Northern Italian Cuisine Plus Moderate Prices Equals A “Decent Value”

Key Words: Lidia’s Italy, Kansas City, Kansas, city, Lidia’s, Italy, Lidia, Bastianich, crossroads, Missouri, Italian, pasta, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Reliable, Affordable, Professional Lawrence (Kansas) To Kansas City Airport Shuttle


SDM Transportation 
P.O. Box 3783 
Lawrence,  KS   66046
Email: reservation@sdmtransportationks.com
Web: sdmtransportationks.com
Phone: 785-979-2428
Fax: 785-371-4024

Hours: Hours based on availability, primarily evening, nights, early mornings, weekends, holidays and all day Thursday services.

 
I found SDM Transportation on a University of Kansas (KU) Questions and Answers page when my friend bailed on a promised ride home from the airport a week before my arrival. They had several options available, but arriving late at night (midnight) left me few options except for a dedicated vehicle. The few I contacted wanted $100 to $125 for a midnight ride from Kansas City International Airport to Lawrence, Kansas. Shannon, SDM’s owner and sole driver, came back with a very fair quote of $65. Sold!
 
Shannon was very professional and responsive from the start, quickly confirming availability and pricing, then sending me a reservation confirmation in an email. On the day of my arrival, he even sent me a photo of the vehicle and information about where we would meet, leaving nothing to chance.
 
When I arrived, he was outside the arrivals baggage claim doors as promised, helping me to put my bags in the car even though he is disabled with Cerebral Palsy (his disability does not effect his driving, he is an excellent and very safe driver). Shannon gave me a brief overview of his business to put me at ease and we spent the next 50 minutes chatting as we made our way to Lawrence. He helped me with my bags when we arrived and he even waited until I found my keys and opened the front door before leaving.
 
If you want reliable, friendly, professional, and cost-effective transportation to and from Kansas City Airport and surrounds, then Shannon should be your first choice. The only drawbacks being his schedule and the size of the vehicle. He works full-time at another job and has no other employees, so his availability is limited to Thursdays and nights only. The vehicle, a Hyundai hybrid, is large, new, and comfortable, but it has a rather small trunk and seats four comfortably, making it a challenge to fit more than two riders and a bag or two each in the car. I also recommend that you contact him as early as possible if you want to ensure that he is available.
 
CombatCritic Gives SDM Transportation 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
 
 



Title: Reliable, Affordable, Professional Lawrence (Kansas) To Kansas City Airport Shuttle

Key Words: SDM Transportation, SDM, transportation, Lawrence, Kansas, airport, MCI, Kansas City, international, shuttle, Shannon, McCoy, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review

* Photos courtesy of SDMTransportationKS.com

Nein … Oops … Nine Dollars For A Glass Of Wine?


Grünauer (Austrian)
101 West 22nd St
Kansas City, MO 64108
Phone: 816.283.3234
 
Hours:
Mon-Thur 11:30am – 10pm
Fri & Sat 11:30am – 11pm
Sun 11:30am – 9pm
Wunderbar 11:30am – 1am
Happy Hour 3-6pm & 10pm – Close
 
Prices: $$$$$
 
We found Grünauer quite by accident while visiting Lidia’s, one of our favorites in KC and owned by Lidia Bastianich of PBS fame. Grünauer is just west of Lidia’s in the same large parking lot immediately behind Union Station.  The main dining room is large and modern with warm tones, big booths, and plenty of glass. We were well received and escorted to our table. The service excellent, a team of servers and assistants ensure things come and go efficiently with a smile.
 
Wine is a bit pricey, starting at $9 for a glass and bottles from $38, so you may want to stick to beer if on a budget.  The meals are large and filling, so soup, salad, or appetizer are only for those with the biggest appetites. Not knowing this, I ordered the Käse und Biersuppe ($6), a smoked gouda and beer soup that is a decadent as the name implies and a wonderful way to start a meal.
 
My wife ordered the Ksesptzle ($15.00), a rich, creamy spatzle dish made with swiss cheese and topped with crispy onions. The spatzle was cooked to perfection and the sauce thick and flavorful. The crispy onions were more than a garnish, adding some texture and complimentary flavor to the dish. The Ksesptzle was delicious, a large portion of cheesy goodness that satisfied my wife’s sensitive vegetarian palate. 
 
Having lived in Europe for six years and spending a great deal of time in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and Hungary where good schnitzel is common, I could not resist the Cordon Bleu ($22.00), a breaded pork cutlet stuffed with smoked ham and swiss cheese and pan fried to a golden brown. Nor could I resist ordering a side of their rich and decadent Jäger sauce ($4) made with its namesake Jägermeister, mushrooms, and cream to top my cordon bleu. $22 is a bit steep for pork, especially considering you have to pay $4 extra for a side, in my case mashed potatoes, but the schnitzel was tender and juicy, filled with ham and gooey cheese as advertised.  When topped with the Jäger sauce it was as good as any I have had abroad, and I have had more than a few, but by the time I added the price of the entrée to the potatoes and the sauce the total came to $30, far more than I have ever paid for any similar meal in Europe.
 
Grünauer’s food is excellent, the service flawless, and the environment comfortable, but the prices are a bit excessive.  However, due to the dearth of German restaurants in Kansas City, and Grünauer is as close as you are going to get to authentic German in this area, what other options do we have?  You can drive a couple hours southeast to Camdenton for a meal at Der Essen Platz where the food is just as good and the prices half of Grünauer’s, but that is not plausible.  So, had my cordon bleu meal (including sauce and side) been in the $18 to $24 range with wine starting at a reasonable $6 per glass, I would have given them 8 Bombs, but they are not and I did not … 
 
CombatCritic Gives Grünauer 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
 

Grunauer on Urbanspoon

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube
Title: Nein … Oops … Nine Dollars For A Glass Of Wine?
 
Key Words: Grünauer, Austrian, restaurant, Austria, German, schnitzel, spaetzel, spätzle, wine, beer, menu, food, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Kansas City, Missouri, MO, Yelp, TripAdvisor, UrbanSpoon

Christian Brothers Roofing: Expensive, Inflated Bids and Poor, Disrespectful Customer Service


Christian Brothers Roofing (CBR), once I could get them to do an estimate and at $16,238, came in $3000 to $6000 higher than the next two bids, but I decided to give them a chance to tell me why their estimate was so high and what I would get for the very substantial excess costs. As you will see in her own words, it seems as though Melody, the CBR estimator, continuously apologized for the delays in getting back to me, making me feel undervalued as a customer, particularly one spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new roof …

From: Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com>

Date: Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 9:46 PM

To: CombatCritic
Subject: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Hello, Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to help you.  I apologize for the delay in getting this information to you.  Per your request, I have attached the estimate for a new roof. I would love to meet with you to show you the pictures that I took of the storm damage and to also review your insurance documents.  I know that I found more than $2500 in repairs that are needed for this property.  Additionally, you mentioned that you were retired military and I am not sure if other contractors have mentioned to you that GAF (manufacturer of Timberline) has a special rebate that they offer to you. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like to move forward. Thank you, Melody McCullem816-214-7402


I contacted her on Thursday, August 28, 2014, asking to meet the following Tuesday to discuss the CBR bid. After hearing nothing for two days, I sent the following email:

From: CombatCritic
Sent: Saturday, August 30, 2014 11:36 AM

To: Melody McCullem

Subject: Re: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Melody, I called and left a message 2 days ago [8/28/2014]. I’ll be at the house in KC on Tuesday and can meet you at 1pm to discuss your bid. I will then be making a decision. Please let me know if you or another rep can meet me at that time.
 Thanks

Four (4) days after my request to meet the following week, I finally received a response (with more apologies for being delayed) …

On Sep 1, 2014, at 4:31 PM, Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com> wrote: Hello, I received your voicemail and your email. I am pleased that you would like to go over the estimate that I put together.  I have been out of town and apologize for the delayed response I understand that you are in town tomorrow/Tuesday for a few hours and hope that we will be able to connect.  Unfortunately, my schedule is very full for tomorrow…I might have some time around noon, but know that I would have more availability after 5pm.   As for the references, at this point I would encourage you to look on Angies List.  We have 100+ positive reviews and are the highest ranking roofing company.  It is not a common practice for us to give out other customer contact information. If you would like additional references after we meet, then I will contact a few of our customers for you and ask them if I may share their information with you.
 Again, I apologize for the delayed response and look forward to hearing back from you regarding your availability for tomorrow.
 Thank you, Melody McCullem816-214-7402

I guess customers are supposed to be more flexible than business owners when it comes to spending $16K, but I know that is not the case and told Melody my schedule could not meet her unreasonable demands. After all, I had given her 5 days to work me into her schedule, but she ignored me for four of the five and expected me to submit to her schedule …

From: CombatCriticSent: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 8:42 AM
To: Melody McCullem
Subject: Re: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing I’m not available after 2pm. Sent from my iPhone

Melody then arrived unannounced at the house on the following Tuesday while I was meeting with the other contractors, putting me in an uncomfortable position. However, after the other contractor left, I gave her the opportunity to discuss her bid, but it seemed all she could do was talk badly about the other bids (which she never saw) rather than trying to deflate her bid (full of unnecessary upsell/upgrade charges) to meet our rather hefty budget.
Melody insisted that she could get my insurance company to pay for most, if not all, of the roof replacement, so I agreed to give her a chance to contact them in an effort to have them pay for the necessary damage repairs:

From: Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com>

Date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 at 8:00 PM

To: CombatCritic
Subject: RE: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Hello Chris, Attached is the Insurance Contingent Contract.  As you can see, it basically says that all three parties must agree on the “scope and price” of the storm damage.  My goal is also to get 50%+ of your roof paid for.  I know that I can prove storm damage all over the place, but I could not possible tell you exactly how much I will be able to get your insurance to move because there are things/people that are out of my control.  I would love to see your insurance documents to know what they are already looking at. Please let me know if you would like to move forward. Thank You, Melody McCullem816-214-7402

I sent her the contingency contract back immediately, telling her that our tenants had reported more leaks and interior damage after large storms that very morning and that it was urgent that we get to roof replaced ASAP if not take temporary precautions to avoid unneeded damage to the interior of our house:

From: CombatCritic
Date: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 at 11:17 AM

To: Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com>

Subject: Re: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Melody, Documents attached.  As you can see from the photos I received this morning from the tenant, we need to move quickly on this before more damage to our home is incurred as a result leaks in the roof. Is there something we can do to minimize damage until the claim is settled and work can be performed? Thanks,

But I received no response indicating that Melody had received my message much less any indication that she had started working with our insurance company. In most states there are provisions for a three (3) day cooling off period after signing a service contract to cancel, so with $16,000+ on the line and an unresponsive contactor, I had to make a decision to protect myself and our home. I sent her the following message:

From: CombatCritic
Sent: Thursday, September 4, 2014 2:31 PM

To: Melody McCullem
Subject: Re: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 Melody, After 24 hours without a reply, unless I see some rapid progress, I’m going to have to go a different route.  If you haven’t contacted USAA and provided me with a firm timeframe for resolution by tomorrow (Friday, Sep 4 2014), I’m going to have to cancel the contract IAW Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 407, Section 407.937 (Right to cancel contract—notice of cancellation, effective when—form of cancellation).  For $16K+, I need someone who is responsive and action oriented, particularly because WE HAVE A LEAKING ROOF CAUSING DAMAGE TO OUR HOUSE. I have until midnight Monday to cancel the contract under Missouri Law, but will be making a decision NLT 2pm tomorrow in order to get someone to secure our roof and prevent further damage. Thank you, 

I guess I should not be surprised because customer service is a thing of the past and CBR apparently has more customers and money than they need (not surprising considering the cost of their inflated bids), but this is the unprofessional response I received:

From: Melody McCullem <melody@453roof.com>
Date: Thursday, September 4, 2014 at 8:32 PM
To: CombatCritic
Subject: RE: Roof Estimate from Melody with Christian Brothers Roofing
 I received your email and immediately reached out to Property Claims Team to request a re-inspection.  They are not able to set appointments for adjusters and told me that they would be in contact with me asap. I attempted to contact them again, but unfortunately, I was still unable to schedule something.  I was told that someone should be in contact with me before noon CST tomorrow.  I did take action after receiving your agreement yesterday afternoon and apologize that I have not been able to make rapid progress. From your previous email, I understand that you are unhappy with the lack of action takin by your insurance company. Unfortunately, I am not able to control your insurance company. Subsequently,  I do not wish to work with someone who will begin making threats and quoting Missouri cancellation laws to me within 24 hours of sending in an email asking for CBR to help re-open an insurance claim and help collect on unpaid damages. From this point forward, I will consider our contract void and will direct all future correspondence from your insurance company back to you. Thank you, Melody McCullem816-214-7402

I remember the days when businesses believed that “the customer is always right” and we were treated with dignity and respect, but these days it is THE NORM, NOT THE EXCEPTION that businesses seem to care less about customer service. In many more cases, including this one, businesses apparently believe that they can do whatever they like, treating paying customers like we OWE IT TO THEM to dole out our hard earned money while being treated with indignity and disrespect. BUT, I HAVE A CHOICE WHERE I SPEND MY MONEY AND CHRISTIAN BROTHERS ROOFING WILL NOT BE RECEIVING A PENNY OF MINE!

UPDATE: September 18, 2014 After eliminating the lowest bid, we replaced our roof with premium shingles, materials, and labor, nearly identical to those quoted by Christian Brothers ($16,238), for just $11,900. The materials were professionally installed in less than 5 days, SAVING US OVER $4,000 WHEN COMPARED TO THE CHRISTIAN BROTHER’S BID.
CombatCritic Gives Christian Brothers Roofing (Kansas City, MO) A Paltry 1 Bomb Out of 10 for VALUE and CUSTOMER SERVICE

Key Words: Christian Brothers Roofing, Christian, Brothers, roofing, roof, contractor, business, Kansas City, Missouri, house, shingles, asphalt, cedar, shake, pitch, CombatCritic, TravelValue

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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Vietnam Cafe … Serious, Affordable, Quality Vietnamese Cuisine in KC


Vietnam Cafe
522 Campbell Street
Kansas City, MO 
(816) 472-4888
Price: $$$$$

Vietnam Cafe is hands-down the BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT IN KANSAS CITY! A small, clean, unassuming diner-type building in the old Little Italy section near River Market, they have great, authentic Vietnamese food at very reasonable prices.


We started with the Vietnamese egg rolls (4 – $5, you have to ask for them specifically) which are only different from regular egg rolls in that you get lettuce leaves to wrap them in and cilantro, mint leaves (if available), and sliced carrots to add inside the lettuce as well as a spicy rice vinegar dipping sauce … YUM!

I had the beef curry and my wife had the vegetarian pho. Both were excellent although the curry was not of the variety of Vietnamese curry that I am used to (a thick red curry with mostly beef). The pho, my wife’s favorite, was chock full of veggies and as tasty as we have had.

The staff are very friendly and helpful and the restaurant is extremely clean. It is not a huge place, but we had no difficulty getting a table. The neighborhood looks a bit dodgy, but we have never had any problems either at Vietnam Cafe or Garrozo’s which is not far away.

CombatCritic Gives Vietnam Cafe 8 Out Of 10 Bombs for good food and service at a GREAT VALUE … BOMBS ARE GOOD!



Vietnam Cafe 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: Vietnam Cafe, Vietnam, cafe, Vietnamese, pho, curry, noodles, egg roll, egg, roll, Kansas City, Missouri, MO, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, Yelp, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor

Kansas City Yelp Elite ’14 Event: Yelp Oughta Be In The Pictures


Kansas City Yelp Elite ’14 Event: Yelp Oughta Be In The Pictures

The Palace Cinema is on the second floor of an indoor mall on the Country Club Plaza. There are several theaters showing a variety of films, but this event was in the “VIP” theater, an appropriated place for yelp’s Elite ’14!


I was finally able to meet Matt E., our Kansas City Yelp Community Manager, and he was very welcoming. Unable to attend the three previous events since becoming an Elite ’14 due to travel and illnesses, I was very pleased to be able to attend this event and meet some of the wonderful folks I have only known by name and photo.

The VIP Lounge was small, but comfortable with a full bar (soft/mixed drinks available at an extra cost – my wife’s Coke was $4.99) and COMPLIMENTARY beer, red wine, and treats (mini-popcorn balls dipped in chocolate, M&Ms, Gummy Bears, and cherry Twizzlers).There was also a gift bag available for all, containing a yelp super ball, peppermints, and chapstick in addition to a coupon for a free small popcorn and a ticket for free entry to one Kansas City Film Festival film.


The film, “Doomsdays” (a pre-ecliptic comedy following “the misadventures of Dirty Fred (Justin Rice) and Bruho (Leo Fitzpatrick), a pair of free-wheeling squatters with a taste for unoccupied vacation homes in the Catskills”. Their commitment to the lifestyle is challenged, however, when a runaway teen and an aimless young woman join their ranks”) started promptly at 6:30PM with an intro by Matt E.

The seats in the VIP theater were big and comfy with a small table between every other two to stow our sweets, drinks, and popcorn. Seating only 80 or so Yelpers,it was an intimate affair. The movie was interesting, an “Indie” film and winner of a couple small film festival awards, and entertaining.

We had a great time and the event was well worth the 50 minute drive from Lawrence! I hope to attend more Elite Events in the future, POSSIBLY ONE IN LAWRENCE IN UPCOMING MONTHS!

CombatCritic Gives “Elite Event: Yelp Oughta Be In The Pictures” and “Matt E.” 10 Out of 10 Bombs … BOMBS ARE GRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT!


Key Words; yelp, elite, event, kansas city, Missouri, country, club, plaza, Palace Cinema, palace, cinema, theater, VIP, lounge, Doomsdays, film, Kansas City Film Festival, CombatCritic, TravelValue

Taco Mobil Jalapeño Brothers Arthur’s Lounge … It’s a Taco Truck for Cryin’ Out Loud!


Taco Mobil Jalapeño Brothers Arthur’s Lounge … It’s a Taco Truck for Cryin’ Out Loud!

Jalapeño Brothers
World’s Liquor Parking Lot
8108 NW Prairie View Road
Kansas City, MO 64151
816-337-1014

Jalapeño Brothers Facebook Page

Prices: $$$$$

Mobile food trucks have become trendy in recent years, ever since I started the craze with Mobile Joe, a mobile internet cafe business I built literally from the ground up in 2005.  MasterChef, Hell’s Kitchen, and many of the other food-based reality shows inevitably dedicate one or more episodes to a challenge involving food trucks.  A lot has changed since the days of the “food truck” arriving at construction sites with cold sandwiches, luke-warm coffee, and food piled on a bunch of ice.


I am not quite sure what the name of this business is … Taco Mobil? … Jalapeño Brothers? Arthur’s Lounge? … Taco Mobil Jalapeño Brothers?  It really does not matter because you can find this truck, a modified industrial size van to be precise, in the parking lot of World’s Liquor on Prairie View Road between Barry Road to the north and 72nd Street to the south in Kansas City’s Northland.  Up the street from Jaliscos (reviewed elsewhere in this blog) and LC’s, the famous hamburger stand, close to the also well known In a Tub, the greasy spoon, I mean, taco stand, and spitting distance from Saffron Indian Restaurant (also reviewed in this blog), there is no shortage of fast food in this neighborhood.

The menu is short and sweet, although not easy to figure out the first time you see it.  Your options are tacos ($2.00), burritos ($4.00), Torta (a large Mexican sandwich – $6.00), and quesadillas ($5.00) with a choice of meat (carne asada – small chunks of steak, pollo – shredded chicken, al pastor – small pieces of pork with pineapple and onion, and carnitas – shredded roasted pork).  I had the tacos, carne asada and pastor, and as you can see in the photo, they come open-face with just meat and the accompanying salsa verde (green chili sauce) and a guacamole-like concoction that looks more like avocado salad dressing, if it still exists.  I added the cheese because tacos without cheese is like a day without sex, bearable, but definitely better with the sex, I mean cheese.

The tacos were excellent and at $2.00 each, you can gorge yourself for the price of an appetizer at most restaurants.  As I said, they come only with meat on a warm corn tortilla, the way they are served south of the border.  No rice, no beans, just good tacos with an abundance of protein for the carnivore in you.  I will try the burrito, torts, and quesadilla on future visits, likely once a week from now on. 

They apparently also serve tamales and fish tacos because a sign on the truck says so, but I did not see a price or anybody ordering them.  I do not think they have drinks, but World’s Liquor is right there, so you should be able to find something to your liking, like a cold Tecate con sal e limon … YUM … minus the salt and lemon I am sure!

I will update this review as I sample more of the small menu … very soon … Ole’!



Jalapeño Brothers gets 8 BOMBS OUT OF 10 for quality food, abundant portions (I saw a torts … grande!), and extremely reasonable prices!





Key Words: jalapeño, brothers, mobil, mobile, taco, tacos, burrito, torts, quesadilla, tamale, fish, carne asada, carnitas, pastor, food, truck, comabtcritic, World’s, liquor, Northland, Kansas City, 64151


Title:Taco Mobil Jalapeño Brothers Arthur’s Lounge … It’s a Taco Truck for Cryin’ Out Loud!

Rancho Grande Cantina – Parkville, Missouri … UPDATE


Rancho Grande Cantina – June 2013 UPDATE


Price: $$$$$ – All entrees below $15

(816) 505-9097
11015 NW Hwy 45
Parkville,MO 64152

Rancho Grande in Parkville is a weekly staple in our house. Yes, of course it is Americanized Mexican, but we are in America after all. If you have a craving for inexpensive, quality food, this USED TO BE THE PLACE. I have been a customer for five years and have continued to go back week after week, but that could soon change!

You would think that customers who come back week after week after week, particularly ones who have a restaurant and food blog, would be known by name, perhaps greeted with more than indifference, but that is not the case at Rancho Grande Cantina.

The food is good, normally consistent, but that has changed recently.  For example, on their “Fajita Special” night a few months back, I sat in the bar and had some of the worst service in recent memory. On the back of many employee’s shirts is the phrase “I know Joe”, referring to the alleged owner, a guy named “Joe” apparently. Well, Joe was sitting in the bar with several of his cronies and my waiter seemed more focused on making Joe happy than any of his customers.  Joe and his pals were knocking back the beers while I sat, and sat, and sat, and waited for my appetizer, then dinner, when my waiter was more interested in making sure Joe and his pals were supplied with cold beer than taking care of his customers.  

The fajitas, although discounted $3.oo, were more than 30% less than their normal portion AND BURNT. I could not get my waiters attention long enough to convey my displeasure because of his infatuation with Joe, so I went home and conveyed my displeasure via Yelp and Foursquare.  I was being lazy.

Cinco de Mayo, to my displeasure, was an extremely busy night on a normally quiet Sunday, our normal Rancho Grande evening.  The hostess told us our wait would be 30  minutes, but we ended up waiting over an hour. When I saw that we were next on the list for a table, we went to the front and waited next to the hostess, thinking we would have a table in a few minutes.  A party of eight was seated before us even though they fell after us on the list, but that is not irregular.  What was irregular was the party of two, plus a child, that got our table because they were “friends’ of the hostess.  I saw the man conversing with employees earlier, so I knew that he was either an employee or a friend of staff.  So when he and his family were seated, at our table, without being on “the list”, I was unhappy, but because of the mass confusion, I kept my mouth shut.

Our server did not greet us for close to ten minutes after being seated and when we ordered, we let her know that my wife’s quesadilla was cold last time she ordered it, asking her to please ensure that it was properly heated this evening. When it arrived, 30 minutes later, it was luke-warm. The young woman that dropped-off the plates ignored our pleas for assistance, pretending that she did not hear us as we attempted to point out the chill on the quesadilla.  Taking several minutes to get the attention of our server, we finally let her know that the meal was cold and finally received our complete meals ten minutes later.

All the while, Joe, whom we still do not know after five years of weekly visits, was sucking down a beer by the bar, ignoring his customers and the horrible service we were receiving.

We have spent literally thousands of dollars at Rancho Grande in the five years we have lived in Kansas City.  I enjoy the food and some of the servers recognize us although none even have any idea what our names are.  I would expect a little more of a business whose business is customer service, but customer service seems to be a thing of the past, so why should I be disappointed?


As I said, even though we eat there very week, most of the staff barely recognize us and hardly anybody has any idea what our names are.  Temira, a native-American server with a Hebrew name (meaning “tall”), is one of the few servers that bothers to give us the time of day.  She is very pretty and kind, giving personalized service where most of her peers fail.  A personality … what a concept … thank you Temira!  I would like to personally tell Temira how much I appreciate her personalized attention, but the restaurant is not amenable to such conversations.  Fell free to send me a message Temira … SEND ME A MESSAGE

Having been dedicated and consistent customers for five years, I would expect more from a restaurant where we literally spend thousands of dollars a year.  There are a few servers , like Temira, that stop to say hello, but the busboys know us better than any of them, making sure to bring the “hot” salsa when we arrive.  If the rest of the staff were as attentive as they are, we would feel like royalty, a not so terrible thing considering our loyalty to the establishment.

Joe, whom I still do not know, even though I have been eating at his restaurant every week for five years, should be ashamed for his apathy toward guests and his propensity to suck down beers rather than  ensure his customers get the service and quality we deserve. I do not expect, nor would I accept, special treatment because I am a food critic.  But I am a paying customer and would expect that our loyalty to his business would at least be appreciated, something we have not felt in five years of eating at Rancho Grande. The manager, a nice woman who knows us by face and that I have a food and travel blog, does not even know our names … after five years … every Sunday for five years … can you believe that?  Maybe it is time to find a proprietor and restaurant that appreciates our hard earned money and loyalty.


In all, Rancho Grande in Parkville WAS an excellent choice for quality American-Mexican food with large portions at a reasonable price, but if you want to be appreciated … go elsewhere!  Jalisco is a new Mexican restaurant is the Parkville area, see my Jalisco Mexican Restaurant Review, and while the food is not quite as good as Rancho Grande, you feel welcome when you walk through the door.


CombatCritic gives Rancho Grande Cantina in Parkville 6 (used to be 7) Out of 10 BOMBS … Bombs are good!


11015 NW Mo-45
Kansas CityMO 64152 

Map

Rancho Grande Cantina on Urbanspoon

Key Words: 64152, CombatCritic, critic, eat, eating, kansas city, mexican food, missouri, MO, Parkville, rancho grande cantina, restaurant, Restaurants, Review, Review Kansas City Restaurants, reviews, Temira, Mexican, food

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

UPDATE: Rancho Grande Cantina (Parkville, MO) … Disappointing!


Rancho Grande Cantina UPDATE


Price: $$$$$ – All entrees below $15

(816) 505-9097
11015 NW Hwy 45
Parkville,MO 64152
Rancho Grande in Parkville is a weekly staple in our house. Yes, of course it is Americanized Mexican, but we are in America after all. If you have a craving for inexpensive, quality food, this USED TO BE THE PLACE. I have been a customer for five years and have continued to go back week after week, but that could soon change!

You would think that customers who come back week after week after week, particularly ones who have a restaurant and food blog, would be known by name, perhaps greeted with more than indifference, but that is not the case at Rancho Grande Cantina.

The food is good, normally consistent, but that has changed recently.  For example, on their “Fajita Special” night a few months back, I sat in the bar and had some of the worst service in recent memory. On the back of many employee’s shirts is the phrase “I know Joe”, referring to the alleged owner, a guy named “Joe” apparently. Well, Joe was sitting in the bar with several of his cronies and my waiter seemed more focused on making Joe happy than any of his customers.  Joe and his pals were knocking back the beers while I sat, and sat, and sat, and waited for my appetizer, then dinner, when my waiter was more interested in making sure Joe and his pals were supplied with cold beer than taking care of his customers.  

The fajitas, although discounted $3.oo, were more than 30% less than their normal portion AND BURNT. I could not get my waiters attention long enough to convey my displeasure because of his infatuation with Joe, so I went home and conveyed my displeasure via Yelp and Foursquare.  I was being lazy.

Today is Cinco de Mayo and, to my displeasure, an extremely busy night on a normally quiet Sunday, our normal Rancho Grande evening.  The hostess told us our wait would be 30  minutes, but we ended up waiting over an hour. When I saw that we were next on the list for a table, we went to the front and waited next to the hostess, thinking we would have a table in a few minutes.  A party of eight was seated before us even though they fell after us on the list, but that is not irregular.  What was irregular was the party of two, plus a child, that got our table because they were “friends’ of the hostess.  I saw the man conversing with employees earlier, so I knew that he was either an employee or a friend of staff.  So when he and his family were seated, at our table, without being on “the list”, I was unhappy, but because of the mass confusion, I kept my mouth shut.

Our server did not greet us for close to ten minutes after being seated and when we ordered, we let her know that my wife’s quesadilla was cold last time she ordered it, asking her to please ensure that it was properly heated this evening. When it arrived, 30 minutes later, it was luke-warm. The young woman that dropped-off the plates ignored our pleas for assistance, pretending that she did not hear us as we attempted to point out the chill on the quesadilla.  Taking several minutes to get the attention of our server, we finally let her know that the meal was cold and finally received our complete meals ten minutes later.

All the while, Joe, whom we still do not know after five years of weekly visits, was sucking down a beer by the bar, ignoring his customers and the horrible service we were receiving.

We have spent literally thousands of dollars at Rancho Grande in the five years we have lived in Kansas City.  I enjoy the food and some of the servers recognize us although none even have any idea what our names are.  I would expect a little more of a business whose business is customer service, but customer service seems to be a thing of the past, so why should I be disappointed?

Joe, whom I still do not know, even though I have been eating at his restaurant every week for five years, should be ashamed for his apathy toward guests and his propensity to suck down beers rather than  ensure his customers get the service and quality we deserve. I do not expect, nor would I accept, special treatment because I am a food critic.  But I am a paying customer and would expect that our loyalty to his business would at least be appreciated, something we have not felt in five years of eating at Rancho Grande. Maybe it is time to find a proprietor and restaurant that appreciates our hard earned money and loyalty.

In all, Rancho Grande in Parkville WAS an excellent choice for quality American-Mexican food with large portions at a reasonable price, but if you want to be appreciated … go elsewhere!


CombatCritic gives Rancho Grande Cantina in Parkville 5 (used to be 7) out of 10 BOMBS. Bombs are good!



11015 NW Mo-45
Kansas CityMO 64152 

Map

Rancho Grande Cantina on Urbanspoon

Cascone’s Italian Restaurant – Good, Consistent American-Style Italian Food, Large Portions at MODERATE Prices (April 2013 Update)


Cascone’s (North Oak)

3733 North Oak Trafficway
Kansas City, MO 64116
(816) 454-7977


www.Cascones.com


$$$ (PREVIOUSLY $$)

Ponte Vecchio – Florence, Italy
I am an Italian-American, was raised by first generation immigrants from the hills between Napoli (Naples) and Bari on the Adriatic Sea, lived in Italy for three years on assignment with the U.S. Air Force, and married an Italian (Sicilian to be precise), so we travel there often to see family and enjoy the wonderful cuisine.

Traditional Italian food (in the old country) only resembles what we call “Italian” here and you have not lived until you have eaten a traditional Italian meal…in Italy. Dinner in Italy normally does not start until 9PM and rarely ends before midnight. Starting with the antipasto, you may have assorted fresh meats and cheeses, prosciutto e melone (cured Italian ham from Parma and melone which is Italian cantaloupe – a traditional antipasto during the warm summer months), or, my favorite, insalata caprese (fresh buffalo mozzarella with bright red tomato slices drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and topped with fresh basil leaves). Fresh homemade bread always accompanies your meal, but you may be charged a “coperto” (cover) of one or two euros for the bread and place setting. Primo (or the first dish) is next and usually consists of soup or pasta, an infinite variety of freshly made pastas mixed with an equally infinite number of sauce combinations. All the while, you sip bottled water (with or without gas…bubbles) and some of the most delicious wines in the world, usually locally made, if not on the premises. Next comes the secondo (or main dish), usually meat or fish, simply prepared and accompanied by contorni (vegetables, potatoes, and salad…yes, salad comes with the main dish, not before your meal). Italians would never think of eating pasta and meat (or fish) on the same plate, so the traditions you see in the U.S. (e.g. Olive Garden…excuse me while a vomit a little in my mouth) DEFINITELY did not originate in Italy. Finally, a digestivo, a liquor such as grappa, amaretto, or, my favorite, limoncello, is served before cafe (what you call espresso (cappuccino is never drunk after morning and is considered a woman’s drink) and dolce (dessert), usually something simple like fruit and cheese or biscotti (cookies).


My wife and I have been going to Cascone’s for three years and have never had a bad meal. Some were not as good as others were, but never bad. My Sicilian spouse has grown accustomed to the American version and, even though nontraditional (in her eyes anyway), Cascone’s is one of her favorites. Strong praise indeed from an Italian citizen.



We inevitably arrive on Sunday evening and the soup selection (all entrees come with soup or salad and a loaf of fresh baked bread) is very limited, rather predictable, and mostly boring..chicken of one sort or another with noodles or rice.


The salad with the house dressing (an olive oil and vinaigrette) is always good, but inconsistent. Sometimes you get olives, artichoke heart, and croutons, sometimes not. I order the blue cheese crumbles on the side and get a twist of fresh cracked pepper. Very good salad and the great bread makes up for the lack of consistency in ingredients (croutons for example). … UPDATE … THE NEW MENU ) AS OF APRIL 2013) IS NOW ALA CARTE (AGAIN … WE HAVE BEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE) AND SOUP OR SALAD ARE NOW EXTRA WITH A HOUSE SALAD GOING FOR AN ADDITIONAL $3.50 WITH AN ENTREE.  INSTEAD OF GETTING THE WARM LOAF OF SESAME SEED TOPPED OF WARM, CRUSTY BREAD IS NOW A COUPLE OF PIECES IN A BASKET … BOOOOOO!

The antipasto selection is limited and non-traditional, including the “Italian Nachos” a huge concoction that looks filling, but not appetizing. With the size of the entrees and the soup/salad, you will not need an antipasto anyway. If you do, get the steamed artichoke (when it is in-season) and share it with your guest.
I love veal and their veal parmigiana is superb. Pounded thin, lightly breaded, and pan fried, you get two large escallops on a bed of spaghetti (I order the mastacioli instead, a type of large penne). I do not like that the meat covers the pasta and inevitably have to dig the pasta out to scrape enough sauce together to cover the mastacioli, sometimes having to ask for extra marinara to cover the white bits. The servers are skimpy on the hand grated parmigianno-reggiano cheese, so I usually have them fill up my bread plate and scatter the cheese as I see fit.  


… UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE … 


EVEN THOUGH THE MENU HAS CHANGED TO ALA CARTE AGAIN, AND PRICES HAVE GONE UP, PORTIONS ARE SMALLER.  MY MASTACIOLI LAST NIGHT WAS NOT DRAINED WELL AND THE SAUCE WAS WATERY.  CASCONE’S MARINARA SAUCE IS VERY GOOD, BUT WATER, UNFORTUNATELY, DOES NOT ADD TO THE FLAVOR … ANOTHER BOOOOOOO!


I have had the veal marsala and it is not like any marsala dish I have ever tried. They use green (bell) peppers and onions in addition to the more traditional mushrooms, a combination that does not quite work with a delicate marsala sauce. I would not bother with this dish if I were you.


The chicken spedieni is very good and bountiful, but everything comes with pasta and marinara sauce, so if you want alfredo or olive oil and garlic, which would be more appropriate, be prepared to pay extra.

The pasta dishes are good and my wife usually orders the tortelonni Savina Maria, large shells stuffed with veal and cheese in a white sauce with mushrooms, peas, and pieces of prosciutto (cannot tell if it is cotto or crudo). It is very good and enough for one very hungry person of two light eaters (be prepared to be charged if you share, they charge for everything not priced on the menu). She also likes the Pasta Asiago, bowtie pasta in a crème sauce with broccoli and mushrooms (and chicken if you want to pay extra). The Pasta Asiago comes with tomatoes, but my wife is intolerant to tomatoes (can you believe it, an Italian woman that does not eat tomatoes, drink wine, or cook!).  There are a couple pizza choices (two to three depending  on the menu) and are decent, being the single serving (one person) size and much smaller than their Naepolitano (from Naples, Italy) cousins…VERY DISTANT COUSINS!
I have never had room for dessert, but the choices are traditional and look good so go for it if you have room.
The wine list (and menu) change as often my brother’s underwear, so do not become too attached to any particular maker or vintage. The house wines are pretty good and come in various varieties and at $6 per glass, are a relative bargain … 


… UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE … 


We returned for dinner on April 26th, 2013 and the menu had changed once again! THE WINE LIST IS VERY DIFFERENT … WINE BY THE GLASS ARE NOW $8 TO $11 AND UP!  BOTTLES MAY HAVE RISEN, BUT ARE NOW A MUCH BETTER VALUE.  MANY “UPSCALE” RESTAURANTS CAN GET AWAY WITH $8 TO $11 GLASSES OF WINE, BUT CASCONE’S IS NOT THAT KIND OF RESTAURANT AND THESE PRICES ARE GOING TO HURT WINE SALES BECAUSE CASCONE’S HAS A LARGE SENIOR CITIZEN CUSTOMER BASE AND IN TODAY’S ECONOMY, FOLKS ARE NOT GOING TO PAY THE EQUIVALENT OF $60 FOR A $25 TO $30 BOTTLE OF WINE. 



As I said, we have been going to Cascone’s practically every Sunday for five years, so you would think the wait staff would know us by name by now. They do not. The receptionist is quite friendly and knows us by face, but do not expect to be called by name by any of the staff, no matter how long you have been going there. Service is friendly enough and things get done on time (mostly), but they do not chit chat and seem to care less who you are. After all, I am there for food and companionship with my table mates, not to make friends with the wait staff. 


… UPDATE  UPDATE  UPDATE …

OUR SERVER LAST NIGHT WAS WONDERFUL AND VERY FRIENDLY AND ACCOMMODATING, EVEN THOUGH SHE NEVER TOLD US HER NAME … THANK YOU FOR YOUR PATIENCE AND EXCELLENT SERVICE … WHATEVER YOUR NAME IS!

CombatCritic NOW gives Cascone’s (North Oak) ONLY 6 out of 1o BOMBS … BOMBS in this case are good!


CombatCritic’s BOMB ratings are based on “VALUE” … quality of the food, service, ambience compared to the prices, so the drastic price changes in the case of Cascone’s dropped their score one BOMB … SORRY FREINDS!

Cascone's Italian on Urbanspoon

On the Front Lines in the Battle Against Overpriced Food