NYC, NY: Pretty "Gay", But Not Bad … Hey, It’s Their Name, I Didn’t Make It Up!


Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

61 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014
Between S. 7th Avenue and Sheridan Square 
West Village
Sheridan Square Station
Phone number (212) 414-0222
Website: biggayicecream.com


Soft serve ice cream in not 31, but 2 flavors, 3 if you count the chocolate-vanilla swirl. I asked for a chocolate cone dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts ($5 – I saw one when we went in, so I know I’m not “nuts” … get it?), but what I got was a chocolate cone with only the “top” dipped in chocolate and the bottom half dipped in crushed peanuts. Not what I asked for.
For $5, the ice cream was unremarkable. What more can I say? So I won’t.


CombatCritic Gives Big Gay Ice Cream Shop 4 Bombs Out Of 10 With Massive Deductions For Not Following Instructions, Boring Soft Serve Ice Cream, And Excessive Prices … More Bombs Are Better!
Four Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: NYC, NY: Pretty “Gay”, But Not Bad … Hey, It’s Their Name, I Didn’t Make It Up!

Key Words: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, big, gay, ice cream, shop, ice, cream, village, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again” … No pun intended!

Advertisements

NYC, NY: Massive Portions, Decent Food, BIG LIES Earn Sarge’s A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME


Sarge’s Deli
548 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Between 37th Street and 36th Street
Midtown East, Murray Hill
Phone: (929) 267-4372
Prices: $$$$
I will be brief because a lack of integrity is a non-starter in my book, so the food is somewhat irrelevant.
We arrived at Sarge’s a little after 6pm on Monday, May 30th, 2016 which happened to be Memorial Day. Many places around Manhattan were giving military ID holders freebies on Memorial Day out of gratitude for our service, a nice and much appreciated touch. So when I read the menu in Sarge’s window (see photo above) and it said: “Dinner Special (5-9PM Everyday): Choice of Soup or Salad And Beverage (Coffee, Tea, Or Fountain Drink) – All For The Price Of The Entrée Alone”, we decided to go in. After being seated, I asked our server (see photo below) about the special because I was contemplating ordering the meatloaf entree ($18.95). She told me: “It’s Memorial Day, the offer isn’t good on holidays”. Rather than go outside and recheck the menu, I believed her, assuming I had misread the offer, ordering the meatloaf anyway. After paying the bill, I went outside and snapped a picture of the menu in question (see menu photo), proving that I was not hallucinating because it states: “5-9PM EVERYDAY” and “every day” means Monday-Friday, Saturday and Sunday, AND HOLIDAYS.

The meatloaf was massive and “OK”, my wife’s French Dip ($18.95) was expensive, but “decent”, and the cheesecake ($6.95) large and “delicious”, but our server’s deception left a bad taste in my mouth. I could really care less about getting a free $7 soup or salad and a $2 beverage included with my meal (even though my blog is called “TravelValue”), but it is the principle and an inherent lack of integrity on the part of our server that spoiled this meal.

Beside the deception, her service was “abrupt” (it is a NYC kosher deli after all), but efficient and I gave her a 20% tip, something I regretted after reading the “Dinner Special” verbiage for the second time. I do not make a habit of rewarding liars. Deceptive waitress aside, they probably would have received 5 or 6 Bombs Out Of 10, but like our founding father George Washington, I cannot tell a lie …

CombatCritic Gives Sarge’s Deli 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!











One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: NYC, NY: Massive Portions, Decent Food, BIG LIES Earn Sarge’s A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME


Key Words: Sarge’s Deli, Sarge’s, sarge, deli, Manhattan, kosher, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

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

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


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

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

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

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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza

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


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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

Washington DC: Airbnb – Private Suite Near The Capitol


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

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


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

Pros: 


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10) No TV

Cons: 


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

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

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

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

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

6) No TV

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

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube
Luigi's Pizza Fresca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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


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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


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


Eight Bombs Equates To:


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

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

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

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


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


Somerset Country Inn

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

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


Eight Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

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

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

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

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


Library of Congress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

Seven Bombs Equates To:

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






Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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



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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

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

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

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


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:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: 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”

South Korean Company + Chinese Product + Filipino Tech Support = Huge Waste Of My Time And Money


Electronics Review: Samsung SL-M2885FW/XAA Wireless Monochrome Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax

Samsung Electronics America 
Corporate Office
Address: 3351 Michelson Dr, Irvine, CA 92612
Phone: (800) 726-7864
I usually do not post non-travel related reviews on this blog, – although if the printer worked, I could theoretically print at home from anywhere in the World – but I had to let you know about this lousy product right away.

I will not waste much time on this review as Samsung has already wasted far too much of my time with their poor printer software and incompetent off-shore, outsources technical support (which takes jobs from Americans of course, but that is another story),

I purchased a Samsung SL-M2885FW/XAA Wireless Monochrome Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax on Amazon.com on Thursday, March 17, 2016 and even though it was supposed to arrive in 10 days, USPS delivered it on Sunday, March 20th. Great start, right? Well, it was all downhill from there!


I spent over 6 hours trying to install the printer software, wasting an entire evening and another afternoon, but after over an hour on the phone with Samsung Tech Support and after trying every possible solution myself, their representative in the Philippines told me they could not help me, making an excuse that it was my router:

“Our printer does not operate on 2.5 GHz, only 2.4 GHz. You have to contact your Internet provider. There is nothing more I can do.”

I explained that my Internet provider only provides the modem, that the router is mine, and that it is in-fact operating at 2.4 GHz, but she insisted that I must contact my Internet provider. She obviously did not have a clue, so I told her I would return the printer to Amazon.com, to which she replied, “that is certainly an option”. Wrong answer!

Samsung and The Samsung SL-M2885FW/XAA Wireless Monochrome Printer with Scanner, Copier and Fax Get 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On CombatCritic’s Wall Of Shame … More Bombs Are Better!


One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Japanese Company + Chinese Product + Filipino Tech Support = A Huge Waste Of My Time And Money

Key Words: Samsung, printer, all-in-one, scanner, fax, laser, CombatCritic, TravelValue, value, product, review, Yelp, Amazon.com, Samsung.com, wall of shame, shame, technical, support, China, Korea

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

TravelTech: The Misfit Flash Is A "Flash" In The Pan, Don’t Waste Your Money


Misfit Flash 
Fitness Monitor
Sold by Amazon.com
$25.97 Plus Tax

Being a gym rat, avid golfer and frequent traveler, fitness is important even while on the road. With aerobic machines rarely available while on vacation, a fitness monitor provides a quick and easy way to ensure I get enough exercise, at a glance, so I bought the Misfit Flash through Amazon.com.


When the Flash synced with the Misfit app, it seemed to work well enough. The “points” (steps) were sometimes off (low) and sleep stopped tracking if I awoke after 5am, even if you go back to sleep, but for $30 it was acceptable until it stopped syncing altogether. The instructions that came with the Flash were totally inadequate and their website provides little, if any, technical information or support (for example, they do not bother telling you how to change the battery).

Even though I had the Flash for a little over 30 days, 32 to be exact, Amazon at first refused to allow me to return it. The device worked OK in the beginning, but recently only synced intermittently with the Misfit app. I had bought one for my wife a few days after getting mine (because it seemed to work OK at first), but her’s did not sync for weeks and then would not even pair with the Misfit app via Bluetooth. 

I contacted Misfit on numerous occasions (February 4th, 6th, 27th, 28th and March 2nd to be exact) about a fix, but they either refused to respond or sent me the same lame cut and paste instructions that are available on their website. They dragged their feet long enough that I was 2 days out of warranty by the time I got around to contacting Amazon about a return. Fortunately, my wife’s Flash, also bought through Amazon, was within the 30-day return policy, but I thought that I was apparently out of luck.

I ended up returning my Flash in the same box I was returning my wife’s in, even if I would not receive a refund, contacting Amazon (not an easy thing to do by the way) and letting them know of my dismay. Low and behold, I received an email the very next day telling me that they were processing a refund for my former Flash in addition to my wife’s. Maybe their motto, “We’re Building Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company”, is true after all! 

The Misfit Flash is junk and Misfit obviously doesn’t care about their customers, so do not waste your money.

CombatCritic Gives the Misfit Flash (and Amazon.com’s published return policy) 1 Bomb Out Of 10 and a spot on my Wall of Shame … More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: TravelTech: The Misfit Flash Is A “Flash” In The Pan, Don’t Waste Your Money

Key Words: Misfit Flash, Misfit, flash, wearable, activity, tracker, monitor, fitness, sleep, Amazon, Amazon.com, technology, tech, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, review, Yelp

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

TravelTech: This Pill Probably Won’t Cure Your Putting Woes


The Pill Golf Single Shot Training Aid
by The Pill Golf
Available on Amazon.com
Although small and lightweight enough to easily carry while traveling, $13+ for one “ball” seems a bit excessive. It is likely made in China and probably costs less than $1.00 to manufacture, so a 1300% mark-up is pushing it based on what you get. 
Under the best conditions (a flat putting or hitting surface), the product’s design does not readily indicate where you are aiming, requiring frequent repositioning if you are aiming at a specific spot such as a golf hole. If it does what they claim it does, it will indicate whether or not you applied a square clubface to the ball at impact, but if you plan on aiming at a hole on a putting green with any break whatsoever, good luck!
I find the product useful for ensuring that the clubface is square at impact, but the lack of paper instructions (there are training videos on their website, thepillgolf, but they are commercials disguised as aids) and excessive markup make it a poor value. In the $3.95 to $5.95 range, I would rate it in the 8-10 “Bomb” range (4-5 Stars), but at nearly $13 for just one …
CombatCritic Gives The Pill Golf Single Shot Training Aid 5 Bombs Out Of 10 (Rounded Up To “3 Stars”)


Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!



Title:  TravelTech: This Pill Probably Won’t Cure Your Putting Woes

Key Words: The Pill, Golf, Shot, Training, Aid, Pill, Golf, Surlyn, ball, putt, chip, shot, club, Amazon.com, amazon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, review

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

Lawrence, Kansas: Turkey Bend? Windy Bend? Eagle Bend! Nice Course, But Little Wiggle Room


Eagle Bend Golf Course
1250 East 902nd Rd
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 748-0600

If you find yourself traveling to or through Kansas City, Topeka, or Lawrence, Eagle Bend is not the cheapest public course by far, but it is a well maintained and challenging layout. The first six holes are links-style with undulating fairways surrounded by native grasses (sorry, no gorse) with the final 12 meandering through marshy woodlands surrounding the Wakarusa River.

Prices range from $22 (walking/18 holes/M-F) to $49 (riding/18 holes/weekend) with seniors (60+) and juniors (under 18) getting a slight price break during the week. There are no military or veteran discounts and, oddly enough, no “twilight” or winter rates and “NO DISCOUNTS (PERIOD) ON WEEKENDS”. You pay full price no matter what time of year or time of day it is, no wiggle room (more on that later).


The clubhouse is small with a snack bar that seems to do little business, a very limited pro shop, restrooms, a few tables and a couple TVs. I am not sure what capability to snack bar has, but I have never seen anybody sitting in the clubhouse eating a hamburger or sandwich. The pro shop has a small selection of balls and tees, a couple golf bags, and a few gloves, hats and shirts. It does not appear that Eagle Bend’s clubhouse is intended to generate much income as far as I can tell and it obviously does not.
The course is very walkable with the exception of the 300-yard treks between the clubhouse and 1st/10th tees and the 1st/10th greens and the 2nd/11th tees. Relatively flat, the only exertion you will encounter are the large gullies in front of the 17th and 18th greens.


The fairways are Zoysia grass and very well maintained. I have been told that their greenskeeper used to work for a cross-town course, Alvamar, and from what I have observed, they are lucky to have him because their fairways are in much better shape than semi-private Alvamar’s Zoysia fairways. If you hit a ball in the fairway, you should have a good lie, a ball that sits-up, and that is normally the case at Eagle Bend. The only exception, strangely enough, is the 18th fairway where the Zoysia stops at the 150 yard marker, leaving a routinely poor lie off of what looks like Perennial Rye grass for your approach shot to the final hole. 

The greens are decent and fairly fast, but few people seem to repair their pitch marks, so even the best putt can go astray from time to time. Maybe they could sell, or even give away, inexpensive pitch mark repair tools in the pro shop and post a few signs reminding people to clean up after themselves. Zoysia on the landing area of the 18th would also be a big plus.

There are not a lot of sand traps, but the few they have are strategically placed. The sand is heavy, likely river sand from the nearby Kansas River, leading to difficult shots and inconsistent results for those of us who do not carry a PGA Tour card.


With four sets of tees (gold, blue, white and red), the course is challenging for both sexes and all skill levels. Being close to sixty, I have lost some distance in recent years and find the blue tees a tad too long for my pleasure, so I normally play the whites when I want to enjoy myself. With prevailing winds from the south/southwest, all but four holes are reachable in regulation for the average golfer from the whites:

Hole #7 – From where the white tees are normally placed, hole #7 (par 4) plays close to 400 yards, normally into the wind, making it very difficult to reach the green even with two good shots. 

Hole #8 – A par 3, hole #7 normally plays between 150 and 170 yards directly into the wind with a lake running down the right and a large bunker left of the green, requiring anything from a six iron to a five wood off the tee. 

Hole #15 – Very similar to #7, this nearly 400 yard par 4 routinely plays into the wind with native grasses on the left and woods to the right as well as protecting the green on all sides.

Hole #18 – Another 400 yarder from the new, slightly elevated tees, this hole play into the teeth of the wind and has native grasses and woods lining the entire hole. There is a large gully in front of the green with a creek running under and on both sides of the fairway, narrowing to less than 20 yards for any short or errant shot.

When you are a high handicapper or senior and have difficulty hitting a drive over 220 yards with no wind, a par 4 that is 400 yards or a long, well-protected par 3 into the wind makes birdie impossible and par unlikely. From the white tees, 375-385 yards should be the longest par 4 on the course if you want to be fair to the average golfer and speed play.
Otherwise, Eagle Bend is fair and a good challenge as the wind is almost always blowing, swirling and changing directions because of the influence of the Clinton Lake Dam which towers over the west side of the course. Two of the four par 5s, #9 and #12, normally play downwind where par, even birdie, are very possible. Hole #12 is a double dogleg par 5 with trees to the right off the tee and a large lake guarding the left side of the fairway on your second and third shots. Hole #17, a short par 3 over a gully where par is achievable and wild turkeys can often be seen on the terraced slope in front of the green, is esthetically the nicest hole on the course.
Eagle Bend does not participate in GolfNow or other web-based discount green fee schemes, something a lot of courses utilize to fill empty tee times and generate additional income for the course. After all, it does not cost anything to have more people playing golf because overhead is the same while additional revenue is generated through green fees, cart rentals, pro shop and snack bar sales, and range ball fees. 

While on the topic of range ball fees, Eagle Bend’s are some of the highest in the area at $5 for 25 balls and $400 for an annual pass (unlimited balls). I get 75 balls for $8 at a crosstown range and paid a little over $100/year for unlimited balls while a member at Alvamar, so Eagle Bend’s prices are “out of range”, pun intended. High range ball prices are another phenomena I do not understand. The investments (balls, facility, personnel, equipment) have already been made, so why not get as many people hitting range balls as possible by lowering fees to a more reasonable level? I refuse to pay $5-$15 for a bucket of balls as do many others I know, so instead of generating some income, they generate little. Penny wise and dollar foolish in my opinion.


I play Eagle Bend several days a week and would think that with all of the empty slots I see, that the city would be clamoring for income, but the City of Lawrence and their employees do not seem to be very interested in profit. Maybe if the course had more play and a more enticing clubhouse, they could lower green fees, offer military/veteran discounts, extend junior/senior discounts to the weekend, and have twilight rates, adding even more revenue from those who would have played elsewhere. As an example, I play most of the winter at Alvamar because they reduce green fees to $15 (18 holes/walking/7 days a week) in the winter, several dollars lower than Eagle Bend’s “unbending” fees. 

The City of Lawrence government seems eager to maintain the status quo in this city of around 90,000. They stifle competition in favor of their friends (not a decent chain restaurant or selection of retailers in town) and are stuck in the 20th Century when it comes to managing their only golf course. Eagle Bend could be the premier golf destination in eastern Kansas, but backward thinking and poor management make it an average, underutilized entity likely on the brink of obsolescence and ultimate closure to become another park or free Frisbee/soccer golf complex.


If you play a lot like I do, they do not have an annual membership, but they do offer punch cards for 10, 20, 50 or 100 rounds (good for more than a year) with savings ranging from 25% to 60%, bringing green fees down to as low as $11 per round (walking) for a 100-round card … if you are willng to pay $1,100 in advance.

Eagle Bend is a fun, challenging course in desperate need of innovation, creative marketing, and management that embraces thinking “outside box” rather than maintaining the status quo. Golf courses are losing business and thousands are going bankrupt across the nation, a path I hope Eagle Bend is not headed down because the only other options in town are private and very expensive.

CombatCritic Gives Eagle Bend 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Turkey Bend? Windy Bend? Eagle Bend! Nice Course, But Little “Wiggle Room”

Key Words: Eagle Bend Golf Course, eagle, bend, golf, course, links, City of Lawrence, Lawrence, Kansas, university, KU, Jayhawks, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

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


TravelTech: Faulty Products And Poor Customer Service … SimpliSafe Or Simpli Crap?


SimpliSafe, Inc.
294 Washington Street, Floor 9
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (888) 957-4675
Website: SimpliSafe.com

If you are like me, an avid traveler that may be gone for long periods of time, a good, dependable, affordable home security system you can operate from anywhere in the world seems to good to be true. Well, in SimpliSafe’s case, it is too good to be true, so do not believe their misleading advertisements or celebrity endorsements from the likes of Kim Komando and Dave Ramsey. Here is my recent experience with SimpliSafe …

Sensors that do not work or emit false alarms, slow response to middle-of-the-night (false) alarms, and poor or no response to customer concerns and questions are just a few of the reasons we are cancelling our SimpliSafe monitoring and requesting a full refund. Based on SimpiSafe’s history of poor customer service, I expect to be ignored or hassled every step of the way,

I bought the system after hearing rave reviews about SimpliSafe on The Kim Komando Show and The Dave Ramsey Show, two radio celebrities that I thought were credible and honest. The reasons we committed to spending $400+ for a system and $300 a year on monitoring were:

1) Kim Komando’s/Dave Ramsey’s recommendations2) No contracts2) 100% wireless, cellular system3) Easy to set-up4) Mobile (cell phone) control and alerts5) Power outage protection6) Portability7) Pet friendly8) Not One, But Three Risk–Free Guarantees:– 60-Day Money Back Guarantee– Three Year Product Warranty– 100% Satisfaction Guarantee


customer-support@simplisafe.com
1-888-957-4675
Purchase Information:
E-mail Address:
Billing Address:
LAWRENCE, KS 66044
Shipping Address:
LAWRENCE, KS 66044
Order Total: $403.52
Order Summary:
Order Confirmation #: WP9XXXXX
Order Subtotal:  $448.36
10% Off Your System: -$44.84
——
Total for this Order:  $403.52

Order details: 

1 x 24/7 Professional Alarm Monitoring (SimpliSafe2) – $24.99
Model: SSEDSM2

  • Activation code: Y5KW-KETU
  • Service Plan: 24/7 Interactive Alarm Monitoring + Alerts
1 x Refurbished Security System: 18 Components – $423.37
Model: SSCS1-R

  • Base Station: 1
  • Wireless Keypad: 1
  • Keychain Remotes: 2
  • Motion Sensors: 3
  • Entry Sensors: 6
  • Panic Buttons: 1
  • Auxiliary Sirens: 1
  • Window Decals: 2
  • Water Sensors: 1
  • Smoke Detectors: 1
  • Freeze Sensors: 1

Burglar Alarm Monitoring Permit Information!

Instructions:  Please check with your local authorities to verify whether or not an alarm permit is required. It is the responsibility of the subscriber to obtain and maintain a valid alarm permit, if required by your local jurisdiction. Failure to do so can result in no police response and/or monetary fines. If there is, or you need some help, we’d love it if you could give us a call at 888 957 4675 to let us know!

Fire Alarm Monitoring Permit Information!

Instructions:  Please check with your local authorities to verify whether or not an alarm permit is required. It is the responsibility of the subscriber to obtain and maintain a valid alarm permit, if required by your local jurisdiction. Failure to do so can result in no police response and/or monetary fines. If there is, or you need some help, we’d love it if you could give us a call at 888 957 4675 to let us know!
The system worked OK for a less than two weeks, then we started having false alarms on our motion sensors in the middle of the night, waking us to the shrill sound of the alarm and not knowing if an intruder was in our home. This happened on four occasions and response times from the monitoring center varied from 30 seconds to over four (4) minutes.

A lot can happen in four minutes during a home invasion and we found SimpliSafe’s alarm monitoring center’s response times to be sporadic. In the four minutes it took for an operator to call us after one middle-of-the-night false alarm (fortunately), intruders could have rushed upstairs, kicked in our bedroom door, robbed us at gunpoint, sexually assaulted my wife, shot us in the head, and been on their way … all before SimplisSafe called us to see if we even needed them to call the police! It would have been much easier and safer to Simpli pick up the phone and call 911 ourselves, so why do we need to pay $24.99 per month for “monitoring”? I asked the young lady on the phone why it took so long to call and she said that there were “too many calls for the number of people working”, a sad excuse if it were in fact a home invasion.

Their customer service call center is only open between 8am and 5pm, but if you need help, forget contacting SimpliSafe via email because they are nearly completely unresponsive. When I was finally able to talk to a customer service representative, they had me reduce the sensitivity of the motion sensors because the forced air heat was apparently setting them off (we have no pets or ghosts in our home). “The heater is setting them off?”, I asked, something we had never heard of or experienced having owned several alarm systems from reputable companies (ADT, Guardian, etc) over the years. It is not much fun being awoken from a deep sleep, four times over a period of several weeks no less, because of a motion sensor that cannot tell the difference between an intruder and forced air heat. I wonder what kind of affect pets would have on SimpliSafe’s “Pet-Friendly Motion Detector” that “doesn’t detect small pets”?

Since we installed the system and activated it on September 17th, 2015, we have had five false alarms and eight sensor errors (cut and pasted directly from our SimpliSafe “Event Log”:

09/18/2015 5:13am Alarm: Motion Sensor “Living Room (Front)” 

09/20/2015 2:10am Alarm: Motion Sensor “Living Room (Back)” 

10/10/2015 7:28am Error: Panic Button “Bedroom Panic” 

10/12/2015 12:28pm Error: Panic Button “Bedroom Panic” 

10/20/2015 3:27pm Error: Entry Sensor “Elisa Room Window” 

10/29/2015 12:19am Alarm: Motion Sensor “Kitchen” 

12/13/2015 3:42am Alarm: Water Sensor “Basement” 

12/31/2015 5:32am Alarm: Motion Sensor “Living Room (Back)” 

01/09/2016 1:19pm Error: Flood Sensor “Basement” 

01/15/2016 2:19pm Error: Flood Sensor “Basement Water Sensor” 

01/19/2016 7:18am Error: Flood Sensor “Basement Water Sensor” 

01/28/2016 7:18pm Error: Flood Sensor “Basement Water Sensor” 

01/30/2016 8:17pm Error: Flood Sensor “Basement Water Sensor”

They sent a replacement water sensor on December 18th, 2015 after the original one failed (see above), but it was like pulling teeth to get them to respond or cooperate. We had several back and forth emails asking me if the “sensors were in contact with water” (obviously not or I would not have been complaining) or after admitting that the sensor was bad, I was asked for our “delivery address” (“the same address as the monitoring we pay for that is in your system”, I responded). C’mon folks, use your brains!

They sent the replacement water sensor via snail mail and I received it on January 8th, 2016. One day later, the “new” sensor began to “error” and became unresponsive. It seemed to resolve itself after a couple hours, so I let it go, but repeated errors led me to contact customer service via email again on January 28th, 2016. 

“This is the 3rd time the “new” sensor (replacement for the original that was sending false alarms) that you sent us has had problems “not responding”. Here’s the message I just received from the system: 

no-reply@simplisafe.com / no subject / Sensor error: Flood Sensor 13C2Y “Basement Water Sensor”  is not responding at 1104 New York Street on 1-28-16 at 7:18pm 

What’s the problem now? This is getting ridiculous. How can our home and basement be protected if your sensors don’t work?

Please let me know what SimpliSafe is going to do about it.

Thanks”

It was ignored, so I sent another email on January 30th, 2016:

“I’m tired of false alarms, equipment that doesn’t work, and lack of professionalism/responses from customer/tech support. Delays in contacting or being contacted by emergency dispatch cause great concern in event of a “real” emergency. Unless there is an immediate response and our concerns addressed, I would like to cancel our monitoring and get a refund for your faulty equipment.

Thank you.”

Rather than addressing the problem or our concerns, I received the following unprofessional response the same day:

“From: customer-support@simplisafe.com Date: January 30, 2016 at 8:50:51 AM CST

 Subject: I’m tired of false alarms …

Hello,

We apologize for the inconvenience that you are experiencing. Please understand we have many customers that need our assistance. Also, if you would like to cancel your subscription you’d need to call in to us. We can not go through with such an action with out your direct consent on the telephone. Thank you. 

If you have any other questions, please let us know.

Best,

Ishaya”

I assumed that someone would get back to me, but after hearing nothing more by February 1st, 2016, I sent the following email:

“Yes, I have questions. Read the email I sent to Customer Support on 1/28 highlighted in yellow below.

As far as your company’s advertising is concerned … Your company makes a lot of great claims about your products, customer service, and “guarantees”, but you don’t even respond to customer concerns. Our water sensor has been malfunctioning for over two weeks … 

This is the replacement sensor you sent us after the original failed (see your Dec 17, 2015 email). Why don’t you respond to our concerns? You are not doing your best as stated in your 100% SATISFACTION GUARANTEE.

If I am not contacted and this issue resolved NOT LATER THAN Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016, I am cancelling our monitoring and will request a full refund. We have had far too many problems with your “RISK FREE”, “SATISFACTION GUARANTEED” products in the short time we have been customers.

Thank you.”

It is now Thursday, February 4th, 2016 and I have not been contacted by SimpliSafe, so I am following through with my promise … I am cancelling our monitoring and SimpliSafe is losing a customer. I am also contacting the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont Better Business Bureau (where SimplisSafe has 30 complaints on-file) to file complaints. Kim Komando and Dave Ramsey will also be contacted to let them know what I think of their SimpliSafe (endorsements) recommendations.

You can read my reviews of SimpliSafe on my blog: http://www.CombatCritic.com, Yelp, and the Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont Better Business Bureau website.

UPDATE: After filing complaints with the Greater Boston BBB and Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, representatives from SimpliSafe finally contacted me with a solution. I was sent a replacement water sensor post haste and it, being the third such sensor we have tried, seems to be working so far. They also threw in 2 months ($49.98) of free monitoring for our troubles. 

Although better than nothing, this company has problems that need to be addressed before a life is lost due to their equipment malfunctions, poor customer service response, and delayed emergency center 911 support due to “lack of personnel”.

CombatCritic Gives SimpliSafe 1 Bomb Out Of 10 and a spot on my ” WALL OF SHAME”
One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: TravelTech: Faulty Products And Poor Customer Service … SimpliSafe Or Simpli Crap?

Key Words: SimpliSafe. simpli, safe, simply, alarm, system, home, security, protection, Dave Ramsey, Kim Komando, Boston, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, review, Yelp, http://www.komando.com, http://www.daveramsey.com

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

TravelTech: Overpriced + Poor Design + No Instructions = Not A Great Value


Golf Putting Alignment Mirror Training Aid – Practice Your Putting Alignment Tool
by B&T Golf
Available on Amazon.com


Although small and lightweight enough to easily carry while traveling, $29+ for this product seems excessive. It is likely made in China and probably costs less than $5 to manufacture, so a 600% mark-up is pushing it based on its somewhat flimsy and flawed product. 


A reflective surface with red and black lines (and logo) mounted on a very thin plastic base, it comes with a protective cover but no instructions. There are four holes in the rear which I assume are used to anchor it on the green with tees and/or limit your backstroke based on distance required for a putt … I assume … and you know what happens when you “ASSUME”: you make an ASS of U and ME. The holes are too big for golf tees, so even with two tees anchoring the mirror it moves if touched (nearly impossible based on its purpose), requiring frequent repositioning if you are aiming at a golf hole.


I find the product useful for alignment and ensuring that eyes are positioned over the ball, but the design flaws, lack of instructions (paper or web-based – there is no B&T Golf Products website that I could find), and excessive markup make it a poor value. In the $9.95 to $12.95 range, I would rate it in the 8-10 “Bomb” range (4-5 Stars), but at nearly $30 …

CombatCritic Gives The B&T Putting Alignment Mirror 5 Bombs Out Of 10 (Rounded Up To “3 Stars”)


Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title:  TravelTech: Overpriced + Poor Design + No Instructions = Not A Great Value

Key Words: Golf Putting Alignment Mirror, mirror, training, aid, practice, putting, alignment, tool, B&T Golf, B&T, golf, Amazon.com, amazon, China, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, review

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

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:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: 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”

Inexpensive Portable In-Home Putting Green Not Bad For The Price


Grassroots Par Three Putting Green
by B&T Golf
$32 on Amazon.com 

The Grassroots Par Three Putting Green is a portable putting green small and lightweight enough to take with you on your next trip, golf or otherwise.

Made of thin, green outdoor carpet with a tapered foam ramp leading up to the three holes at one end, the green is 9 feet long and about three feet wide at each end. It is tapered in the middle, why I am not sure, and around 2.5 feet wide, making it look something like an actual putting green which I assume was the reason for the design.
The “green” lies flat out of the box, but is thin enough to magnify any underlying imperfections in the floor you put it on. I placed it on an oriental rug and it rolls true until the thin, green outdoor carpet bunches up when the green is jarred or stepped on too abruptly.
The holes are deep enough to catch a golf ball with the center cup being about 1″ deep and the two outer cups at about 1/2″ in depth. There are also two deep bunkers (1″ deep) behind the holes to catch errant shots, but some balls roll over, through or between them and off across the room.
For the price, it works well enough and as advertised. I do not imagine it lasting for several years due to the thinness of the carpet. If it were double the thickness, it would likely roll truer on diverse surfaces, last longer and not bunch up quite so easily. I believe a base with a material that clings to carpet and hard floors, possibly something like rubber, would enhance the product immensely as well as adding to durability, even in the $50-$60 range.

The only other thing missing is a storage or carry bag for when you want it out of the way or to take on trips. A simple, nylon bag with a handle and drawstring would cost next to nothing to manufacture and would enhance the product significantly.

CombatCritic Gives Grassroots Par Three Putting Green 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!







Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Inexpensive In-Home Putting Green Not BAd For The Price

Key Words: Grassroots Par Three Putting Green, grassroots, par, three, putting, green, putt, putter, B&T, Golf, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, review, Amazon.com, Amazon

Translation for Civilians: 

TravelTech: Mohu Leaf50 – Poor Product – Best Buy And Mohu Refuse To Honor Warranty


Mohu
2720 Discovery Drive, 
Raleigh, N.C. 27616
Phone: 1-855-446-6648
Website: GoMohu.com
Email: support@gomohu.com
Prices: $$$$  Quality: @@@@

Mohu Leaf 50 Amplified Digital Indoor TV Antenna


Maybe you like to travel in your motor home, RV, 5th Wheel, or camper and watch TV along the way. A portable, amplified antenna with a range of 50 miles would come in handy in many locations around the U.S., eliminating the need for an expensive satellite dish. Enter the Mohu Leaf50, just the thing you need and only $70, what a bargain … WRONG!

The Mohu Leaf50 is advertised as a small, portable amplified multi-directional antenna that gets great reception with a range of 50 miles. I beg to differ.

After paying $70+tax for this piece of plastic the size of a laptop screen, 10 feet of coaxial cable and connectors, and a USB that plugs into your TV, I have had nothing but problems. Watch the video below for proof.

We are less than 40 miles from all broadcast towers in Kansas City and Topeka, well within the “50 mile” radius of the Mohu Leaf50, but reception is poor, sporadic and frustrating even though the terrain between us and the towers in relatively flat.


Having bought the Leaf50 at Best Buy, Best Buy and Mohu refused to refund my money even though even though I am only 5 months into the one-year warranty. Mohu also requires me to pay shipping if the product is defective, which it is.

The Leaf 50 Indoor HDTV Antenna by Mohu does not work as advertised. Ten feet of coaxial cable connects to a piece of plastic the size of a laptop computer screen and it is supposed to get “great” reception with a “range of 50 miles”. We are not on the road, but live in Lawrence, Kansas and it is a straight shot (flat) to Kansas City and Topeka with transmission towers 35-40 miles away (see FCC photos below) and the signals fade out constantly, a real irritation.

I bought the Leaf 50 at Best Buy in August because of the reviews and figured that being an amplified, multi-directional antenna with a 50 mile radius, 35-40 miles of flat Midwest terrain should be a breeze. That dog won’t hunt Mohu!

It worked “OK” for a couple months with intermittent but tolerable cut-outs, but when winter started to set-in, the cut outs became more frequent and longer on all channels. We have a few trees around the house so you would think that with the leaves being gone reception would get better, but it got worse, a lot worse.

FCC Transmission Tower Locator Screenshot Based On Our Location

I took the Mohu Leaf 50 back to Best Buy in December, but they would not honor Mohu’s 1-year warranty, telling me “sorry, it’s outside our 15-day return policy, you’ll have to deal with Mohu”. That is exactly the reason why this was the only thing I had purchased at Best Buy in seven years, their lousy return policy, and it will be the last thing I ever buy at Best Buy! There are too many web-based retailers out there to have to shop at a store that cares so little about their customers.

TV Reception Maps – Transmission Tower Locator Website
$70 plus tax for this cheap piece of plastic and co-axial cable is absurd and I cannot recommend that you buy one unless you are very close to the transmitters. Even though the FCC online digital reception map indicates that Fox (WDAF – 35 miles), CBS (KCTV – 35.7 miles), and ABC (KMBC – 39.3 miles) are all in the “green” (strongest) signal category, the constant loss of signal and reception is an aggravation I can live without. What a waste of $75. Our $7 rabbit ears get better reception than the Mohu Leaf 50.

As directed by Best Buy, I contacted Mohu on January 11th, asking for a refund.  Here was their response:

“Dear Combatcritic,

We would like to acknowledge that we have received your request and a ticket has been created with Ticket ID – xx360.  A representative will be reviewing your request on and will send you a personal response. This usually happens within 24 hours.   

Please remember should you need troubleshooting assistance or if you would like to know what channels you should receive at your location you will need to send us your complete address so we can provide you with the most accurate assistance on the first contact.  Should you need to provide us with any additional information such as your address, order number, etc. simply visit your inbox and reply to the email confirmation.  

You may also be able to find immediate help using the links below.

Sincerely, 

Mohu Sales and Service

Business Hours: Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm EST”

I sent them my address that same day as requested, but after ten days (January 21st) I still have not been contacted by a Mohu Representative. So much for doing what they promise.

Here is the warranty and return verbiage from the Mohu website: 

“Mohu Warranty and Returns

Warranty Details
Mohu warrants our products against defects in materials or workmanship for a period of one (1) year from the date of purchase. During this period, the products will be replaced or repaired at no charge. This warranty does not cover damage due to acts of nature, commercial use, accident, misuse, abuse, or negligence. This warranty is valid only in the USA and Canada.

There are no implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purchase except to the extent that implied warranties of either sort are required by applicable law, in such case, each warranty is limited in duration to the one year.

Return Procedure
If you cannot locate your packing slip, please contact us via our Contact Us page http://www.gomohu.com/contact/ or by phone at our toll-free number 1-855-4GOMOHU (919-896-7696, 8am-5pm EST, M-F) about items you would like to return. Include your name, order number and approximate date of purchase for faster service. 

Customer is responsible for all return shipping charges. 

Items should be returned to the following address: 

Mohu, Inc.Attn: Return Department2720 Discovery Drive,Raleigh, NC 27616 

Returns sent to any other address will not be accepted.”

I sent Mohu Customer Support the following message on January 17th:

“I disconnected the amplifier as your website suggests, but our reception only got worse. I have a strong signal on most channels, just like the FCC website (and yours) says I should based on our location and that of the towers. Here’s a video showing the problems: 

As you can see from the FCC website’s data and our TV’s signal strength indicator, the signal is very strong, but the picture fades in and out. Please let me know how to troubleshoot because I am not paying shipping to return your defective product. If we cannot fix this quickly, I’ll take the $70 loss and publish my review for Moho and Best Buy based on my experience.

I have moved the antenna everywhere in the room based on the limitations of the cables provided and nothing has helped. I also unplugged the amplifier from the TV because Mohu said the amplifier could be faulty, but I had pretty much the same reception with the amplifier disengaged. 

Mohu finally contacted me and they refuse to fix the problem or stand behind their product:

I apologize the below reply was not received, unfortunately this antenna will not work for your needs. 

Unfortunately the reception at ground level is weaker than shown of the FCC due to hills between you and the broadcast towers.  

At ground level the signal strength for most of the transmitters are in the low 30 decibel range which is typically too weak for the antenna to receive. To improve reception or have signals similar to the FCC database the antenna needs to be elevated. You should try the Leaf 50 antenna on the second floor or in the attic, you can use an extension coax cable after the amplifier to the TV less than 20 feet. 

The Sky 60 antenna is the only Mohu antenna that can be mounted on the roof for the best signal reception as well as connect more than 1 TV through a splitter. This antenna is also the best option for customers interested in recording the TV shows. 

Please let me know if you have any additional questions. 

Sincerely, 

MichelleMohu Sales and Service855-446-6648″

Oddly enough, contrary to Michele’s claim that my “antenna will not work”, Mohu’s very own website claims that the Mohu Leaf50 is in-fact recommended for my location (note zip code for Lawrence, Kansas and the date in the screenshots below), adding that it will receive “25 channels”:


So why does Mohu now claim that I have the wrong antenna? Here was my response to Michelle:

“Then why does your website recommend the Leaf50 for Lawrence, Kansas residents (66044) like me, falsely advertising 25 channels received? 

Your company has some serious integrity problems, false advertising included, and I will report you to the FCC as well as the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office.   

I will eat the $75 I wasted on your product, take it with me to the firing range, and use it for target practice with my 9mm Beretta, posting the video on my popular YouTube channel with a link to my review of Mohu on my highly rated blog: http://www.combatcritic.com/2016/01/traveltech-mohu-leaf50-antenna-with-50.html. Can you say “viral” video? Sure you can! 

Good luck with your lousy products and deceptive business practices. What goes around, comes around Mohu!”

I have already lost $75 on this product and I am not about to waste another minute dealing with this unscrupulous company. Their product is defective, not my fault, so why should I pay for shipping or another antenna? Most reputable companies cover shipping and send pre-paid return labels when their products go “tits-up”. I guess that tells us what kind of company we are dealing with at Mohu. Their warranty is a joke and, well, I am not exactly laughing about their product.

Excuse me while I go buy a real antenna from a reputable company … and it WILL NOT be Best Buy.

CombatCritic Gives Mohu, The Mohu Leaf50, and Best Buy 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My ‘WALL OF SHAME” … More Bombs Are Better!


One Bomb Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: TravelTech: Mohu Leaf50 – Poor Product – Best Buy And Mohu Refuse To Honor Warranty

Key Words: Mohu Leaf50, Mohu, leaf, 50, amplified, HDTV, HD, multi-directional, antenna, TV, best, buy, junk, false advertising, Best Buy, travel, value, product, technology, tech, review

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

Fuggedaboudit? Not Authentic Italian, Some Poor Execution, But Don’t Fugeddaboudit Just Yet


Morningstar’s New York Pizza
4931 6th Street, Suite 106
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: (785) 856-6973
Prices: $$$$
Calzone – $8.00

I was here last Autumn with a friend for a calzone, which was actually pretty well done, so I decided to try it again with my Sicilian-born wife. For a city of nearly 100,000, it is appalling that Lawrence does not have a single decent. authentic Italian restaurant. A Carrabba’s would even be a breath of fresh air, but the tight-knit city “powers that be” seem to be pretty good at discouraging innovation and “chains” in favor of “mom and pop” establishments. Unfortunately, none of the moms and pops seem to have a clue how to run a decent restaurant, Italian or otherwise. Anyway, all that being said, Morningstar’s is not bad.

Garlic Knots – $3
We tried the garlic knots ($3) which came with a side of red sauce. Baked balls of pizza dough infused with garlic apparently, I could barely taste the garlic and the “knots” were not baked long enough, a little too chewy … too bad!
 
Jumbo Combo – $9.75

The prices are decent except for the pizzas which are a bit pricey, so my wife ordered The New Yorker calzone ($7.25) with mozzarella, ricotta & parmigiana cheese, no sauce (she is allergic to tomatoes – some Italian!), with mushrooms added ($.50 extra). She was quite happy with the calzone. The dough was baked to perfection and there were just enough ingredients, so my wife (who has lived in Naples, Italy – the home of the best pizza in the World – most of her life) was actually impressed. Bravo!

 
Meatball

I wanted to try a few different things, so I got the Jumbo Combo ($9.75) which came with chicken parmigiana, eggplant rollatine, stuffed pasta shells, a side of spaghetti, and a meatball. I asked for the baked manicotti instead of the stuffed shells and they were happy to comply. Unfortunately, when my dish arrived I was a bit dismayed to see everything crammed into a casserole dish. The chicken parmigiana was actually cubes of breaded chicken piled on one end of the dish and the manicotti and eggplant rollatine were on the other end, layered one on top of the other. The whole dish was covered with sauce and mozzarella cheese, then baked in the oven. The side of spaghetti was not well drained, so it was a bit too watery. Too bad because the sauce was decent. With no meatball in sight, I asked the server where it was, but she said the dish did not come with one. After informing her that the menu indicated that a meatball did come with the dish, she scurried off and brought me one post haste. In all, the dish was a bit of a mess, but it was actually not that bad. It could have been better presented and would have been much more palatable had the chicken, manicotti, and eggplant been separated on a large plate, but with a name like Morningstar you cannot expect authentic Italian dishes.

Side of Spaghetti
Alas, still no authentic Italian food in Lawrence, but Morningstar’s does a fair job of trying. Their prices are fair and the service is decent, but it looks more like a sports bar than an Italian restaurant. The old world ambience just is not there. As Morningstar’s would say: “fuggedaboudit”, but not just yet. We will likely be back because my wife liked the calzone (as did I on my first visit), so maybe I will try one of their sandwiches next time. I would also offer suggestions for improvement if invited because I will do ANYTHING to help a local business as well as my chances of having a decent Italian restaurant meal without having to drive 4o miles. HOOAH!
 
CombatCritic Gives Morningstar’s New York Pizza 5 Bombs Out Of 10 (2 1/2 Stars) … More Bombs Are Better!

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”

TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” 

Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – “Super Foodie”

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Fuggedaboudit? Not Authentic Italian, Some Poor Execution, But Don’t Fugeddaboudit Just Yet

Key Words: Morningstar’s New York Pizza, Morningstar, KU, basketball, Lawrence, Kansas, New York, pizza, pasta, calzone, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

 

Wild Goose Chase, Then Premature Closing Left This Weary Traveler Unimpressed


United Club
O’Hare International Airport – Concourse F
Chicago, IL 60666
My experiences with United Airlines are hit-and-miss, occasionally brilliant, but more often than not disappointing.
 
After being told by the agent at the United luggage transfer desk in Terminal 5 that my connecting flight would leave from “Terminal 1, Concourse C”, I made the mistake of believing him, finding out once there that it was actually leaving from Terminal 2, Concourse F, a 30-minute walk away. By the time I finally found my gate, I was not a happy camper, so I decided to waste one of my two United Club passes I get each year on their Chicago O’Hare (Concourse F) facility. 
 
With two hours before my departure just a few gates away, I asked the woman at reception what time they closed and was told “10pm, giving me a little less than two hours before I had to board my plane. Tired after nearly 20 hours of travel and 30 minutes of unnecessary walking, I decided to use my last pass and what a mistake that was!
 
What little food there was available (olives, hummus, pita chips, cheese cubes and Skittles) was mostly depleted at 8:15 when I arrived. An hour after I arrived and 45 minutes before their scheduled closing they started putting food and alcohol away as I was told “last call” by the bartender. Seeing little reason to stick around during the commotion and chaos of employees eagerly preparing to flea work, I decided to leave.
 
I asked the women at the front desk why the employees were shutting everything down well before closing time and with several customers still in the club, but was told “they want to go home”. I said, “yes, but you told me they were open until 10pm and it is only 9:15”. One of the women said, “you can make a complaint on the website if you aren’t happy”.
 
The only reason they get two stars is because of the free booze (well drinks, bottled beer, and wine), the place was clean, and the employees relatively friendly (a rarity in Chicago O’Hare).
 
CombatCritic Gives United Club (O’Hare – Concourse F) 3 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Read This Review And More On Yelp!

Title: Wild Goose Chase, Then Premature Closing Left This Weary Traveler Unimpressed

Key Words: United Airlines, United, airlines, airline, fly, airplane, United Club, club, Chicago, O’Hare, airport, terminal, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide

Flying Swiss? Do Not Forget Your Swiss Army Knife!


Swiss Airlines
P O Box 8302 
Zürich, Switzerland
I have enjoyed flights on Swiss in the past, but this was the first time I have flown with them in several years. The online check-in was easy enough and I received a pdf of my boarding pass, but it was not available for download in Passbook unfortunately. I had to take a screenshot of the email on my crappy iPhone to make sure that it would be available come boarding time.
 
Check-in and boarding were easy enough at the Florence (Italy) Airport, but things went downhill quickly after that. We were delayed by an hour because of winds, so they say, and delays at Zurich Airport. Only having about an hour and a half from my original departure time until my connection departed, I scurried through the unfamiliar airport looking for my gate until I found it just as the plane was about to depart.
 
I had similar problems on the way back from Malaga to Zurich with my aircraft being delayed nearly an hour and a half. Fortunately, I had two and a half hours before my next departure this time. By the time I found the gate, they were announcing that the aircraft had been changed because of a maintenance issue and they needed six people to stay behind because the new plane was smaller than the first.
 
After being bumped from my Swiss Air flight to Florence and put up in a hotel far from everything with terrible food, the €10 olive tapenade I bought in Duty Free in Spain was seized during security screening the next morning. The woman in front of me, however, was allowed to keep her Swiss Army Knife (that exceeded maximum length and had 10 blades) and take it in the plane with her. 9/11 terrorists used box cutters to hijack four aircraft, but Zurich Airport security thinks it is OK to take knives onboard while seizing olive spread. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous as we finally took off knowing that anybody or everybody in the plane could be carrying an actual weapon … scary!
 
The positives of my experiences were the friendly staff, the free quiche, wine and chocolates in-flight, the relatively new aircraft, and the €250 I received for voluntarily interrupting my trip on the way home, upgrading their rating from 1 Bomb to 3 …
 
CombatCritic Gives Swiss Air 3 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better









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

 

Title: Flying Swiss? Do Not Forget Your Swiss Army Knife!

 
Key Words: Swiss, Air, Airlines, airline, Zurich, Switzerland, Malaga, airport, plane, knife, security, delay, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide

100,000+ Visitors … That’s Our Goal!


With 2,867 blog views last month, and growing exponentially daily, we are on-track to have over 100,000+ views in the next year thanks to you!
 
The phenomenal growth and positive karma since my trip to meet His Holiness is a wonderful reminder of the quality, objective, unbiased products we provide, all free of charge, to our readers.
 
We will be expanding the CombatCritic’s TravelValue eZine in the near future, adding city and country guides with tons of information, maps, and links to reviews of local restaurants, hotels, and attractions. 
 
So SUBSCRIBE NOW if you have not already and do not miss another TravelValue review by CombatCritic!
CombatCritic Gives TravelValue eZine 10 Out of 10 Bombs … More Bombs Are Better!

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”

TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” 

Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – “Super Foodie”

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: 100,000+ Visitors … That’s Our Goal!

Key Words: views, view, visitors, Blogger, blog, subscribe, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, hotel, destination, review, reviews, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Oh-Boy, A Po’Boy … “Oy Vey!”


Terrebonne Po’Boys
805 Vermont St
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 856-3287
Web: terrebonnepoboys.com: 
Prices: $$$$
 


I had been meaning to try Terrebonne for some time, but I try not to eat fast food and sandwiches that often, just never having gotten around to going there. My Yelp friend Scott T and I decided to get together for lunch, trying the relatively new Taco Stand on 8th Street. However, when we arrived the door was locked and the lights off … they are closed on Mondays! So, we headed over to Terrebonne.

The place is quaint with a chalkboard menu on the wall, a few small 1950’s diner-style tables and chairs inside and more tables outside if you are the type that enjoys Lawrence’s steamy summer days. You order from the counter, pay, and they bring your order to your table. The guy at the counter was not particularly friendly, not rude, but he did not go out of his way to make us feel welcome being my first visit.

The reuben and cheesesteak both sounded good, but being my first time and a NOLA/Cajun/Creole-style establishment, I decided to go with their signature po’boy. I ordered the catfish po’boy ($7) with all the trimmings and Scott got the alligator po’boy and an order of red beans and rice.

About 15 minutes later our order arrived. The bread, about eight inches worth, was fresh, lightly toasted on the outside and soft inside. The catfish breading was not as light and flaky or as spicy as I would expect from a Cajun restaurant, but it was “OK”. There were several small pieces of fish rather than one long fillet, making the sandwich difficult to eat and forcing me to have to put the pieces back in the sandwich as they inevitably fell out over and over again. The fish was decent, but a few pieces were uncharacteristically “fishy” tasting, a taste I try to avoid and one of the main reasons I do not order fish in the Midwest. The lettuce and tomato rounded out the po’boy nicely, but I must admit that I was a bit disappointed overall by the sandwich and its price.

A $7 sandwich should impress and fill you, neither of which occurred on this occasion. By the time you order a sandwich, a side, and a drink, you are looking at a $12-$14 tab, a tad high for lunch at a sandwich place in my opinion.

CombatCritic Gives Terrebonne Po’Boys 5 Out Of 10 Bombs … Bombs Are Good In This Case!


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”

TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” 

Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – “Super Foodie”

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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic

View my food journey on Zomato!
 
Title: Oh-Boy, A Po’Boy … “Oy Vey”

Key Words: Terrebonne Po’Boys, Terrebonne, po’boys, po’boy, po-boy, po, boy, sandwich, Cajun, New Orleans, Lawrence, Kansas, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Mystified By BurgerFi’s Small-Fry Burger


BURGERFI

Hot Dogs, American (Traditional), Burgers
918 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044

Phone: (785) 856-0824
Web: BurgerFi.com
Prices: $$$$

VegiFi Burger – $6.95

Reviews I had read were mixed, but having been out of the country since they opened, I had to give them a shot. Here is the low-down …

Pros
 
1) Clean, inviting atmosphere
 
2) Prices seemed reasonable at first glance
 
3) Service was friendly and efficient 
 
4) Burgers, fries, and onion rings tasted great
 
5) Beer special, $2 for a cup of IPA, was a bargain
 
6) Bathrooms were clean


Cons
 
1) $27, not including $4 for the beer, is not exactly cheap for two burgers, a small order of fries and small onion rings
 
2) My $10 burger was ridiculously small, somewhere between a White Castle “Slider” and a McDonald’s double cheeseburger


If you pay $10 for a burger, you should expect to need both hands to eat it. Mine was a one-hander and, other than Whitey One-Bites, the smallest hamburger I have ever seen. Unfortunately, the two cons overshadow the six pros in this case and, therefore …

My $10 Burger
CombatCritic Gives BurgerFi A Middle Of The Road 5 Out Of 10 Bombs … More Bombs Are Better!
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:
Yelp - "Elite '14/'15"
TripAdvisor - "Top Contributor" 
Tabelog - "Official Judge (Bronze)
Zomato - "Super Foodie"
... And Don't Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

MENU
Title: Mystified By BurgerFi’s Small-Fry Burger

Key Words: BURGERFI, burger, fi, hamburger, french, fry, onion, Massachusetts, street, Mass, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

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!

Click to add a blog post for Lidia's Kansas City on Zomato







Read Reviews By CombatCritic:Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”

TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” 

Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – “Super Foodie”

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

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

"Fair" Italian Fare in Historic Parkville


Café Italia
160 English Landing Dr
Parkville, MO 64152
Phone: (816) 584-0607
Prices: $$$$
 
With a shortage of non-chain Italian restaurants in the Northland, Cafe Italia in Parkville did not let us down. The atmosphere is sparse, but modern with a touch of elegance as opposed to their old location on North Oak. The menu was missing one of my favorites from the old location, vitello (veal) saltimbocca. We started with wine, Canyon Road Cabernet ($22/bottle) from the limited wine list. Prices by the glass are reasonable, from $6-$7.50/glass.
 
We ordered a stuffed artichoke, while tasty, and hot, was too “cheesy” and drenched in olive oil. It was a bit disappointing, but my standards are very high because I learned an excellent stuffed artichoke recipe form my grandmother who was born in the Irpino region of Italy. We both had the caesar salad which was excellent, the only problem being the very large (but delicious) croutons that had to be eaten by hand because they were too hard to cut into pieces. My wife, a native Italian, had ravioli con funghi, stuffed with chicken, prosciutto, and capocollo in a mushroom sauce. The taste was excellent, but the pasta was too “al dente” (undercooked). Being Italian, my wife is hard to please when it comes to Italian food, but she enjoyed her meal very much. I had the vitello alla parmigiana which was tasty, but a little tough for “milk-fed veal” which was advertised on the menu. The color and texture seemed more like sliced beef to me, but it was tasty and reasonably priced, veal or beef.
 
The size of the portions were overly generous, so we had to pass on dessert. The owners stopped by to talk and one had family from the same area of Sicily where my wife was born, so they were able to speak in Italian about their shared heritage. Overall, we had a nice meal, the service was very good, and we will return soon to see if any of the problems noted above have been taken care of.
 
CombatCritic Gives Cafe Italia 6 out of 10 Bombs … More Bombs Are Better!
 
 
 
 
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”

TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” 

Tabelog – “Official Judge” (Bronze)

Zomato – “Super Foodie”

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!





Title: “Fair” Italian Fare in Historic Parkville

 
Key Words: Cafe Italia, cafe, café, Italia, pasta, wine, Parkville, Missouri, MO, Kansas, City, restaurant, Italian, Italy, menu, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Forget Overpriced Florence Hotels, Rent A "Little Florentine Retreat" For Your Best Value And Comfort


Little Florentine Retreat
Via di Pilastri 36, Firenze, Italia
Web: Airbnb
Prices:  €  € € 

Accommodations: Apartment

Via Pilastri and Chiesa Sant’Ambrogio (Far Right)

We spent two months in Florence, one month in July 2012 and the other this past July (2015), staying in apartments both times. The first apartment was small, but nice in the Santa Croce/Sant’Ambrogio area and the cost a very reasonable $1000 a month or a little over $33 per day. It had a small kitchen and bath, living room, loft (open) bedroom, air conditioning, wireless internet, and a clothes washer.

Living Room

We tried to rent the same apartment this year, but the owner was not cooperative, so we found another place in the same area, our favorite, and are we happy we did!

Main Bedroom

This apartment, just around the corner from the Jewish Temple and down the street from Chiesa and Mercato Sant’Ambrogio, is on the top floor of a historic villa. With no elevator, the 54 steps (no elevator) to the apartment became tedious over the month, particularly with heavy bags and 100 degree temperatures practically every day, so we limited are exits and entries as much as possible. After all, who wants to spend most of the day in an apartment when in one of the most beautiful and culturally abundant cities in the world?

Main Bedroom and Wardrobe


Kitchen

The owner greeted us warmly upon arrival, explaining the intricacies of the small, but very functional two-bedroom apartment. One decent size bedroom with queen size bed and wardrobe and one smaller bedroom with a pullout bed, desk, and chair were all we needed for the two of us and the occasional guest. Entering into the small kitchen-living room area, the bedrooms and bath were readily accessible. The small bathroom has a shower and bidet as well as a skylight providing ample natural light. The bedrooms both have air conditioning, but the kitchen, living room, and bath do not. However, with the bedroom AC units on and doors open, which we used sparingly, the main living area’s temperature was tolerable in the 100 degree heat. The apartment has a TV with limited English language broadcasts, fast (cable optic) wireless internet, a dishwasher and clothes washer. The furniture was modern and functional, and everything necessary to live comfortably (pots, pans, dishes, silverware, toaster, microwave, etc.) was provided.

Entry and Kitchen

The apartment has been renovated inside, but still retains some of the charm of a historic building with exposed wood beams and terra cotta tile roof. The floors were also terra cotta tile. There are windows in each room, medium sized in the main bedroom and living room with views of the pallazzo across the street and a small window with no view in the smaller bedroom. The windows have wooden shutters which can be closed to provide darkness for those who may be sensitive to light when sleeping.

There are two supermarkets (Conad and Carrefour) within a five minute walk as well as shops, restaurants, bars, hardware stores or pretty much anything else you could find elsewhere in Italy. Santa Croce is a ten minute walk, and the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, and the train station are just fifteen to 20 minutes away by foot. The best pizzeria in Florence, Il Pizzaiuolo, is close by, serving delicious Neopolitan-style pizza at fairly reasonable prices. Mercato Sant’Ambrogio (open 7:30am – 2:30 pm Monday thru Saturday) is also a short stroll away where you can buy clothing, shoes, housewares, fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, meat, salami, cheese, bread or anything else you might need in the kitchen. They also have a small restaurant where you can get an inexpensive lunch for less than €10 per person. It is much smaller than the touristy Mercato San Lorenzo (a ten minute walk away), but has everything you need, is frequented mostly by locals, and has better prices.

Bathroom


The owner has recently listed the apartment on Airbnb at $106 per night, but if you plan on staying for a length of time, contact the owner to see about getting a reduced rate. As I mentioned earlier, we paid $1100 for the month of July, about 1/3 of the published daily rate, so it is worth a try!

Bedroom 2


At $106 per night, you may find better values in Florence ($75-$80 per night would probably be a more appropriate price), but for the $1100 per month that we paid, this was an exceptional value and I highly recommend it for long-term stays.

 
CombatCritic gives  8 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!






Read more reviews of Florence restaurants, attractions and day trips as well as ways to save money in CombatCritic’s “Definitive Florence (Italy)” …

Wood Beam and Terra Cotta Celing
View
Main Entry


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:
Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”
TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” – Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)
Zomato – “Super Foodie”
… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Forget Overpriced Florence Hotels, Rent A “Little Florentine Retreat” For Your Best Value And Comfort

Key Words: Florentine, retreat, apartment, hotel, accommodation, Pilastri, Santa Croce, mercato, Sant’Ambrogio, Duomo, restaurant, Airbnb, Italy, Florence, Firenze, travel, value, definitive, review, guide, 

Il Pizzaiuolo: This "Pizza Maker" Does It The Traditional, Neopolitan Way … Delicioso!


Il Pizzaiuolo
Via dei Macci 113R
50122 Florence, Italy
Near Mercato San’Ambrogio
Phone: +39 055 241171
 

I wrote an extensive review in 2012 on Il Pizzaiuolo, so I will not bore you with too many details or flowery prose. Leave it to say that in parts of Italy, Rome and northward, good pizza is hard to come by. Most visitors do not realize that this is authentic pizza napoletana (not “Napolean”, he was the squirt of a French dictator), equaling some of the best pizzerias in Naples (Napoli), the home of pizza and the best in the world.

Just around the corner from the wonderful Mercato Sant’Ambrogio and a five minute walk from Santa Croce, Il Pizzaiuolo has only around 15 tables, so the place is small and hard to find a seat after 8pm. Beside pizza, they have starters, pasta, meat, and fish dishes, but pizza is their specialty. On this visit, one of many in the past, we decided to try their frittura (€8 – fried things), including arancini di riso (rice balls), croquette di patate (potato corquettes), and montanare (fried pizza dough with a little tomato sauce). Their were just two of each (six pieces total) and a disappointment compared to what you would get in a Naples pizzeria for the same price (€8 gets you 25 pieces of the same). They were good, but there should have been more or it should have been much cheaper (€3 to €4).
I had a Neapolitan classic, pizza con salsiccia e friarielli (fior di latte cheese, sausage, and broccoli rabe sauteed in olive oil and garlic – €10) and it was wonderful. My wife’s pizza quattro formaggio (four cheeses – €8) was also excellent with loads of mozzarella, gorgonzola, ricotta, and provola cheese. As is usual in pizza napoletana, the dough was thin and chewy, only crisp enough to hold the toppings without getting soggy and with little splotches of burnt crust from the fiery wood-fired oven. Perfetto!
 

My only complaints, other than the women’s toilet being rather filthy on this visit (my wife told me, I did not see for myself) are the fact that you can only get wine by the glass or bottle, no liters or half-liters and that the prices are a little steep compared to Naples, but those are small discrepancies when you are eating un’oltima pizza napoletana (excellent Neapolitan pizza) in Northern Italy!

CombatCritic Il Pizzaiuolo 8 Out Of 10 Bombs … Bombs Are Good!

 

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:
Yelp – “Elite ’14/’15”
TripAdvisor – “Top Contributor” Tabelog – “Official Judge (Bronze)”
Zomato – “Super Foodie”
… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!
Title: Il Pizzaiuolo: This “Pizza Maker” Does It The Traditional, Neopolitan Way … Delicioso!


Key Words: Il Pizzaiuolo, pizzaiuolo, pizza, pizzeria, Naples, napoletana, Neopolitan, Florence, Italy, Firenze, restaurant, ristorante, menu, Sant’Ambrogio, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, review, guide

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