Adios TripAdvisor! Sketchy Business Practices And Zero Customer Support Led Me To Delete My Account


TripAdvisor Inc.
400 1st Avenue, Needham, MA 02494
Phone: 781-800-5000

I was, and the operative term is “WAS”, a TripAdvisor “Top Contributor” until recently with hundreds of reviews and photos in many of the 41 countries I have visited. My reviews are honest and as objective as anybody’s opinion can be and I received hundreds of “Helpful” votes for my reviews and photos.

TripAdvisor is very selective about the reviews it posts, unlike Yelp (where I have been “Elite” since 2014), refusing to post reviews willy-nilly based on criteria only they are aware of. I think the operative answer is, if a review does not conform to a “standard” which favors the business that is paying them for advertizing, then it does not conform and is not posted.

For example, I have written several reviews that TripAdvisor refused to post, claiming that the content was “too similar to that found on the internet”. Basically, they were saying that I plagiarized my content from a website, something I have never done nor will I ever do. I may use information from a website or pamphlet as background for readers in a review or copy the ingredients for a recipe from their menu for simplicity’s sake from time to time, but never word for word and I always edit the material into my own words and style. Sometimes they simply refuse to post a review with no reason given as was the case with my review of the Villisca Axe Murder House, having submitted the review numerous times without it being published and without explanation.

TripAdvisor would not exist without the reviews of travelers, so I find it extremely self-serving and deceiving to refuse to post reviews from Top Contributors that do not conform to their paying advertiser’s demands. I put a lot of time and effort into my reviews as evidenced by the 40,000+ visitors to my blog each year and the 40,000+ views of my reviews and photos on Yelp each month. My content is original, honest, and objective as any reviewer can be, so when TripAdvisor recently refused to publish my review of Cataldo’s Italian Restaurant in Brooklyn recently (because the content “was not original” … BULLSHIT!) for the umpteenth time, I deleted my account.

The other reason I deleted my account is because TripAdvisor, as I found out, has zero integrity themselves, allowing people to post reviews whether they have been to a restaurant, hotel, destination, or attraction or not. There is no requirement to having been a customer (as Money Magazine reported in a recent issue – see excerpt from Money Magazine below) to write a review, so businesses can use robots and fake review websites to fluff their ratings, making them relatively useless. I have found during my travels to 41 countries that TripAdvisor may be good for general information about a business or location, but the ratings rarely accurately reflect the experience and now I know why.


Yelp on the other hand uses complex algorithms and your GPS location to ferret out fake reviews. They also have “Elite” members, reviewers like myself that are hand selected by the Community Manager (CM – each major metro has one, a paid Yelp employee) with several face-to-face and virtual interactions taking place between Elites and CMs each year. So if you really want to ensure you are getting a valid rating and honest review, use Yelp and sort reviews or pay attention to those only written by “Elites”.

TripAdvisor does not appreciate the countless number of honest reviewers out there, refusing to interact one-on-one with even Top Contributors. Trying to get an explanation for a decision they make or get an question answered is impossible with TripAdvisor, unlike Yelp where you get an answer from a Yelp employee every time you have a concern or question.

My recommendation: Dump TripAdvisor and download the Yelp App on your phone or tablet. You will be glad you did!

CombatCritic Gives TripAdvisor 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

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Adios TripAdvisor! Sketchy Business Practices And Zero Customer Support Led Me To Delete My Account

Key Words: TripAdvisor, trip, advisor, trip advisor, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, hotel, attraction, destination, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, integrity, reviews

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”
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Philadelphia, PA: Nice, Clean Airbnb Room With Shared Bath in Central Philly … Excellent Value!


Airbnb

Leane’s “A Fabulous Night’s Stay”
Website: Airbnb.com – A Fabulous Night’s Stay

The room and home were very clean and the price reasonable for such a central location near downtown Philadelphia. 

Pros: 
1) Easy walk to the bus or Metro and central enough that you can walk to many places around downtown. 
2) There are markets, pharmacies, shops, and restaurants within a 10-minute walk of the house. 
3) The room is reasonably large and private, having nearly everything needed for a short stay, including a large closet, fold-down desk, and folding chair. 
4) The shared bathroom is very big and has plenty of supplies (hair dryer, shampoo/conditioner, extra toothbrushes, etc.) 
5) The neighborhood is clean, well kept, safe, and the people in the area were friendly. We felt safe and welcome in the neighborhood and were not concerned about our safety, even after dark. 
6) There is a washer and dryer in the home. 
7) The wi-fi is fast, free, reliable and we never had a problem connecting, loading pages, or watching video/movies. 
8) The host stays to herself mostly, does not “hover”, and was helpful when we asked questions about the area. 
9) Coffee, tea, instant hot chocolate and cookies are provided in the dining room downstairs for breakfast. 
10) No TV in the home, so you can spend more time seeing Philadelphia! 

Cons: 
1) Parking on the street near the house was scarce when we arrived, but I managed to find a spot down the block after dropping our bags. 
2) The bedrooms are upstairs and the staircase is narrow, making it tricky to maneuver large bags to the room. 
3) The bathroom is shared among three rooms and access was occasionally a problem. 
4) There is no ice or bottled/filtered water available, so bring/buy your own if you like ice and do not want to drink tap water. 
5) The coffee was nearly gone and the host unavailable when we awoke on our first morning, so I had to figure out where the coffee and filters were stored to prepare more. 
6) The host did not respond to the text and email I sent the day before arrival nor did she answer two phone calls I placed when we first arrived and had difficulty locating a parking place. However, she did answer the door once I found a temporary parking spot to drop our bags and was very responsive thereafter. 
7) No TV in the home if you want to catch up on news or your favorite show(s). 

In summary, Leane is a very personable host, the room an exceptional value, and the home in immaculate condition. A comparable hotel room would cost well over $100, making this Airbnb option an excellent value if visiting central Philadelphia. 

CombatCritic Gives Leane’s “Fabulous Night’s Stay 2” 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Eight Bombs Equates To:
Leane’s Response:

“Thank you so much for the review. It was lovely to have met you both and I am pleased you would stay again when in Philly. Sorry I missed your call, I have a 100% response rate and take communication very seriously. On occasion I will miss a message because I am physically unable in the moment, but fortunately we spoke within 10 minutes of your call. My response time is within a few minutes if I happen to miss you, which most of my guests will tell you rarely happens. It is so funny you mentioned about bottled water. Before seeing your review I actually went out and stocked the fridge with sparkling water, an assortment of flavored, natural lemonades, orange juice and of course… bottled water. There is also ice, chocolate fudge and vanilla ice cream and fruit bars available in the freezer for guests. You should have stayed one more day! Now folks can make iced coffee and oreo cookie sundaes to beat this Philly heat! Lol! Thanks again for all the feedback and happy travels!”

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: Philadelphia, PA: Nice, Clean Airbnb Room With Shared Bath in Central Philly … Excellent Value! 

Key Words: Airbnb, Philadelphia, PA, Leane, Pennsylvania, Philly, room, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, motel, B&B, bed and breakfast, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

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

Indianapolis, IN: $85 For This Dump? DO NOT Waste Your Money!


America’s Best Value Inn (East Indianapolis)

7314 E. 21st Street
Indianapolis, IN 46219
Phone: (317) 359-5500
Website: americasbestvalueinn.com

The room was a dump (cigarette burns on the bedspread and around the sink, broken and mismatched furniture) and breakfast was pitiful (coffee and packaged sweet rolls). I’ve stayed in nicer hotels in India while paying less than $5 per night. How they got a 7.5 rating on Booking.com and $85 of my money is beyond me.

The only reason I did not give them a single bomb was because the bed was reasonably comfortable and the sheets appeared to be the only clean thing in the room.

CombatCritic Gives Americas Best Value Inn Indianapolis East 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!


Two Bombs Equates To
“Tits Up” 


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: Indianapolis, IN: $85 For This Dump? DO NOT Waste Your Money!

Key Words:  America’s Best Value Inn, East Indianapolis, Indiana, INCombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, hotel, accommodation, motel, dump, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Brooklyn, NY: A CombatCritic BestValue … This Brooklyn Ristorante Is Well Worth A Visit!


Cataldo’s Restaurant
554 Vanderbilt Avenue, Suite 1
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue
Prospect Heights
Phone: (718) 857-6700
No Website?
Prices: $$$$

We finally found a good, reasonably priced mom and pop Italian restaurant in the NYC metro and the name is Cataldo’s!
After searching the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn and on Yelp for a week looking for a good value, I stumbled upon Cataldo’s. It looked promising because one of the featured photos was of a delicious stuffed artichoke (below – $12) just like my grandma used to make … YUM! Unfortunately, they were out when we arrived and were not expecting a produce delivery for two days … DRAT!
When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Vito (a co-owner with his brother) and his family. Vito and his brother Salvatore are originally from Sicily, just an hour’s drive from my wife’s hometown in Northwestern Sicily, so they know how good food should be prepared and enjoyed.
The prices are very reasonable, particularly in NYC, with pizzas and pastas in the $10-$14 range and veal (with a side of pasta) running $12 to $16. They offer several wine options in a multitude of colors and varieties with glasses starting at $6 and bottles in the low $20s.
On our first visit, we started with the insalata Mozzarella Caprese ($8), not the “traditional” insalata Caprese with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and basil, but a salad with a couple small mozzarella balls and sliced tomato, mostly arugula, and a few olives. I was not overly impressed for the $8 price tag. My wife ordered the Pizza Quattro Formaggio ($13), a wood-fired pie of 12+ inches smothered in four types of cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, gorgonzola and fontina) and baked to a golden brown. The pizza and Caprese are the only reason they will not get my highest rating. The pizza was good, not great, and not on the same level as true pizza Napoletana. I had the Vitello (veal) alla Parmigiana ($12), three good size veal cutlets breaded and fried, then smothered in marinara, topped with mozzarella, and baked to a golden brown. It came with a side of Spaghetti alla Bolognese, their meat sauce, which was as good as any I have had. A bottle of Chianti ($24) brought the tab to around $60 for an excellent meal, about the same price as we paid for garbage at a West Village German restaurant the night before. An excellent value!
We came back a second time two nights later, always a good sign, my wife having the Tortellini alla Panna ($12) instead of pizza and me the Veal Saltimbocca alla Romana ($16) … buonissimo! The tortellini were likely not homemade, but were very good and the cream sauce rich and delicious. The veal saltimbocca was divine, likely the best I have had, including in Rome (hence the name – Romana). Lightly breaded veal cutlets atop a bed of spinach and covered with prosciutto crudo then baked in a light white wine, butter, and lemon sauce infused with rosemary … MAMA MIA! The accompanying spaghetti was topped with the same sauce and with a little freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top, it was exquisite … the best $16 I have spent in a long time!

Being our last night in NYC and Brooklyn, we splurged and shared a piece of cheesecake ($5). Made with ricotta rather than cream cheese, it was typically Italian and not as sweet as its NYC cousin, but very good nonetheless.
I never did get to try the stuffed artichoke, but the food was wonderful, the service and hospitality excellent, the setting quaint and warm, and the value exceptional. We made some new friends and enjoyed the excellent food, surely to return on our next trip to Brooklyn and NYC.

CombatCritic Gives Cataldo’s 9 Bombs Out Of 10 As One Of The Best Values (BANG FOR THE BUCK) in NYC and Brooklyn … More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:
“U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm”

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

MENU

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic

View my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Brooklyn, NY: A CombatCritic BestValue … This Brooklyn Ristorante Is Well Worth A Visit!

Key Words: Cataldo’s Restaurant, Cataldo’s, Cataldo, Brooklyn, NYC, New York City, New York, Italian, pizza, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

NYC, NY: "Wurst" Food On Three Most Recently Visited Continents


Lederhosen
39 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014
Between Bedford Street and Bleecker Street 
West Village
Phone: (212) 206-7691
Prices: $$$$

I should have gotten the clue when all of the other restaurants and bars on the street were packed and Lederhosen only had five people inside beside the bartender/server. Unfortunately, I did not.

This was the “wurst” German food, make that WORST FOOD (if I dare call it that), I have eaten in a long, long time. The bartender warned me that the beer was sour, but so were the potato soup ($3), the schnitzel sandwich ($8), and the Jägerschnitzel ($19).

I have traveled extensively in Germany and Eastern Europe where schnitzel is a staple and have never tasted anything as disgusting as the Jägerschnitzel I was just barely was able to keep down tonight. On top of that, the accompanying fried potatoes were burnt to a crisp.

When I mentioned all of this to the server/bartender, we did not get as much as a “sorry” or an offer to make things right, only an unintelligible wisecrack from the obviously inebriated proprietor on the way out.

The only saving grace was the soft pretzel ($3) and mustard which was cheap and not bad, being the sole thing keeping this greasy spoon from ending up with a single bomb and a spot on my WALL OF SHAME.

CombatCritic Gives Lederhosen 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Two 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
Lederhosen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: NYC, NY: “Wurst” Food On Three Most Recently Visited Continents

Key Words: Lederhosen, German, bar, West Village, west, village, Manhattan, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Tango-Uniform = “Tits Up” 

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!

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

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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


Fred’s Hickory Inn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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


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

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

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


Wiseguy NY Pizza

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


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

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

Six Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

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

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

Translation for Civilians: G2G =  “Good To Go”


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

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


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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


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


Eight Bombs Equates To:


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

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

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

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


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


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

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

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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

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


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


Le Grenier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


Somerset Country Inn

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

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


Eight Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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:

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

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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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

If You Have Food Allergies, STAY AWAY From Mi Ranchito!


Mi Ranchito
707 W. 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 727-2005
Website: miranchitokc.com
Prices: $$$$
If you have food allergies, STAY AWAY!  For the umpteenth and last time, my wife (who is allergic to tomatoes) was brought her food order with tomatoes in it even though we specified “NO TOMATOES … SHE’S ALLERGIC!”

They also brought me a house margarita “on the rocks” instead of “blended” as I had ordered and my machaca (shredded beef) fried tacos came with ground beef, but by this time I was fed up and ate them anyway.  The blended margarita ($6.50) had little if any alcohol or taste.

We have been to Mi Ranchito on numerous occasions, but stuff like this happens every time we eat here.  I have explained to management several times how dangerous it is to ignore customer identified food allergies, but it obviously does little good.  The manager brought us a coupon for “Buy one lunch entree, get one free!”, but we do not go out for lunch, so … there you go … it’s absolutely useless and worthless as far as we are concerned.

The food is not bad by Lawrence standards, if you get what you order, but the lack of concern for their customer’s health is a major concern and will likely only be rectified after someone with a life threatening food allergy receives the food they are allergic to with potentially lethal consequences. 

Adios Mi Ranchito!

CombatCritic Gives Mi Ranchito 1 Bomb Out Of 10 … I Cannot Give Them Anything Higher Due To Their Blatant Lack Of Concern For Customer Safety … More Bombs Are Better!

One Bomb Equates To:

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Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title:  If You Have Food Allergies, STAY AWAY From Mi Ranchito!

Key Words: Mi Ranchito, mi, ranchito, Mexican, allergy, allergies, food, Lawrence, KS, 66046, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

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


Lawrence, Kansas: Burger Princess … Home of the "Whimper"


Burger King
1107 W. 6th Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 371-3184
Website: bk.com
What is the world coming to? This review will be short and not so sweet.


Question: What’s small, flat, cold and cost $16?

Answer: #1 and #2 Burger King Value Meals
I remember when Whoppers were “whoppers”, reasonably priced and cooked to order. Now they “nuke” the meat and a Whopper is more like a “Whimper”, half the size of what you used to get. The value meal fries should be the baby’s menu and a slice of American cheese is an extra 80 cents.
Maybe they should change the name to Burger Princess to reflect their portion sizes … never again!

CombatCritic Gives Burger King 2 Bombs Out of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Two Bombs Equates To

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Burger Princess … Home of the Whimper!

Key Words: Burger King, burger, king, whopper, home of the whopper, bk.com, fries, Coke, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Tango-Uniform = “Tits Up” 

See "The Miracle at Medjugorje" As It Happens … 533,000 Views So Far


The MOST WATCHED video on YouTube (533,000+ views and counting) documenting the Miracle at Medjugorje: 

Medjugorje, along with Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal, is one of the three major Catholic pilgrimage sites where miracles have been reported with apparitions of the Virgin Mary appearing to locals over the years.

Lourdes, France
See the sacred liquid miraculously appear from the Medjugorje Christ statue as devoted followers soak the liquid into handkerchiefs to take home and heal afflicted loved ones.

Many believe, some do not … decide for yourself after watching “The Miracle at Medjugorje”.


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Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: See “The Miracle at Medjugorje” As It Happens … 533,000 Views So Far

Key Words: Miracle at Medjugorje, miracle, Medjugorje, Catholic, church, apparition, Virgin Mary, virgin, Mary, Fatima, Lourdes, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor

Lawrence, Kansas: I Have To Pay For Chips And Salsa? Really?


Tortas Jalisco
534 Frontier Road
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: (785) 865-1515
Website: tortasjalisco.com
Prices: $$$$

We used to eat here quite frequently. Now I remember why we stopped going to Tortas Jalisco.


First, you have to pay $2.79 for chips and salsa. I have never eaten at another Mexican restaurant that makes you pay for chips and salsa.

Second, the $4 house margarita is small, maybe 12 ounces tops, with little if any tequila. A waste of $4. I got a better buzz from the ice water.

Third, the guacamole ($4.99) is very small and loaded with tomatoes and onion (filler). $2.99 maybe, $4.99 forget it.
Fourth, they have raised their prices on many dishes by a buck or cut the amount of food. For example, you now only get 4 tacos for $6.99 (instead of 5) and they eliminated carne asada (steak) as a “meat” option, the only choices now being chorizo, pork (carnitas or adobada), chicken or ground beef, all of which are much less costly than steak.
Finally, the food is mediocre by California or Texas standards, but slightly above average for Lawrence. The place is always empty, likely the result of weak, overpriced margaritas and having to pay for chips and salsa … this is a college town folks!
CombatCritic Downgrades Tortas Jalisco To 5 Out Of 10 Bombs (Rounded Up To 3 Out Of 5 Stars) … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


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Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: I Have To Pay For Chips And Salsa? Really?

Key Words: Tortas Jalisco, tortas, jalisco, Mexican, food, Lawrence, KS, 6th, street, taco, guacamole, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

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:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: 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”


Murphy’s Top-10 "Combat" Laws Of The …


Locker Room: If there are two or more people in a locker room, their lockers shall be in close proximity to or immediately next to one another’s.

Supermarket Checkout: Whichever checkout lane you choose, there shall be a cashier change, price check, or check writer in front of you and all other lanes shall move more quickly than the one you chose.

Airplane: The crying/unruly child, most obese or largest person, and/or biggest asshole (the guy who keeps his phone on during takeoff, the undercover vaper, etc.) shall be seated next to you.

Traffic Jam: The lane with the fastest moving traffic shall slow to a crawl as soon as you move to that lane with the cars in the lane you were in whizzing past you.

Clothing: When putting on a shirt, pair of pants, sock or hat in the dark or when tired, it shall go on backwards, causing you to take it off, turn it around and put it on correctly.

Dryer: If there are at least two socks in a clothes dryer, one sock shall go missing, never to be seen again.

Golf: When hitting a shot, the ball shall hit a tree (even though we all know they are “90% air”) or come to rest immediately next to or behind said tree.

Phone Calls: Even though you rarely receive a phone call, someone shall call you as soon as you need to do something important (going into a job interview) or are otherwise in a rush (late for an appointment).

Car: Your car shall run out of gas, fail to start, or die at the most inopportune time or in the most remote place possible. The battery on your phone shall also be almost if not completely dead or there shall be little if any signal available at your location.

Price Check: Whether you have two or 50 items in the store checkout lane, at least one item shall scan with the wrong price, causing you to decide whether or not to hold-up the line for a price check or eat the price difference (which is ALWAYS more than the price listed on the shelf).

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Key Words: Murphy, Murphy’s, Murphy’s Law, law, laws, humor, humorous, satire, satirical, funny, irony, ironic, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, article, post, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Title: Murphy’s Top-10 “Combat” Laws Of The …



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Copyright 2016 – CombatCritic and 3rd Wave Media Group, LLC – All Rights Reserved

Lawrence, KS: Not "America’s Best Philly", But A Contender For "Lawrence’s Best Sandwich"


PepperJax Grill
919 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 856-4529
Prices: $$$$
Trying to find a decent sandwich in Lawrence is like trying to find the veal cordon bleu in an MRE box, ain’t gonna happen, not until I tried PepperJax Grill.

While far from the best sandwich, in general, or cheesesteak, in particular, I have ever had, PepperJax’ cheesesteak was the best sandwich I have eaten in Lawrence. Their menu is very limited with cheesesteaks, rice bowls, burritos, nachos and salads, all in the $7.29 to $7.99 range, as well as several sides including fries, chips and salsa/queso, and mandarin oranges. The combination of cheesesteaks and Mexican fare is a bit odd, but the cheesesteaks are decent.

Having eaten “real” cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, PepperJax claims theirs’ is “America’s Best Philly”, but I do not concur. There is ample diced beef sauteed with peppers and onions and the 10-12 inch roll was soft and fresh. The cheese was a nondescript American variety, not the traditional Cheese Whiz found on Philadelphia cheesesteaks and mushrooms, not green bell peppers, would be a more Philly-like addition. The sandwich was tasty and filling.

I also ordered two sides of fries ($2.50 each) , but the guy behind the counter talked me out of one, telling me “they’re really big, so you may want just one”, so I followed his advice. Turns out they were not as big as he had said and were just barely enough for two of us, but they were fresh, hot and crispy, a nice accompaniment to the cheesesteaks.

There is also a condiment bar with four sauces (au jus, chili sauce, and two others as well as the usual catsup, mustard, napkins, and plasticware. 

Overall, I have to say that PepperJax was worth the visit and a decent value. If in the mood for a Kansas cheesesteak, we will definitely return.

CombatCritic Gives PepperJax Grill 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Six Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Pepperjax Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Lawrence, KS: Not “America’s Best Philly”, But A Contender For “Lawrence’s Best Sandwich”

Key Words: PepperJax Grill, PepperJax, grill, sandwich, Philadelphia, Philly, cheesesteak, Cheese Whiz, cheese, steak, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, travel, value, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Lawrence, Kansas: Price Increases And Poor Service (Literally) Left A Bad Taste In Our Mouths


Zen Zero
811 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 832-0001
Website: zen-zero.com
Prices: $$$$

Unfortunately, Zen Zero is owned by the same group that poorly manages Genovese (and La Parilla), a very sad excuse for an Italian restaurant a couple blocks down the street on Massachusetts. I hesitate to spend our money at Zen Zero only because of the unpleasant experiences we have had at Genovese, but there are not many options when it comes to decent, reasonably priced restaurants in Lawrence, so we bit my tongues and returned after a long layoff.

Zen Zero’s decor is modern, yet cozy with hints of Asian influence in select pieces of art on the walls, warm Earth-tone colors and an open kitchen emitting exotic sounds, smells, and flames as chefs prepare meals in view of customers. As you can see from the photo below, the lighting is much brighter than I remember, ruining the ambience we used to enjoy beside hurting my light sensitive eyes.

Our server arrived with a customary basket of Asian rice chips, light and crunchy, which are tasty but an accompanying sauce to dip in would have been nice, but seemed as though she did not seem overly eager to be there or serve us.

Sunday night used to be Zen Zero night in our house where draught beer is on special for $3.00 a (American) pint. They do not have a huge selection of drafts, a pale ale, a wheat, and a seasonal (e.g. Oktoberfest, Irish Red). I ordered the Irish Red (normally $4.50), two total over the entire meal. My wife had water.

The Fried Pork Momos (now $4.99) come with four dumplings and two sauces, a mildly spicy red tomato chutney and an almost white sauce that reminded me of very well-blended hummus. The Fried Chicken Spring Rolls (now $4.29) come with a sweet and spicy sauce infused with chili peppers. They were savory and crunchy, containing ground, seasoned chicken and, beside the small portion, they were also good. But having lived in McLeod Ganj, India for two months last year, a Tibetan colony and home of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, I ate Tibetan food three times a day, every day. An order of momos there consists of eight, double the number at Zen Zero, they are much better, and only cost $2.50, one-quarter the price at Zen Zero.

Meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – McLeod Ganj, India (December 8, 2014)

My wife ordered a vegetarian dish, Phad Phak Ruam Mitr ($7.99), a mixed vegetable stir-fry with broccoli, onions, garlic, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, Napa cabbage, scallions, baby corn and tofu and served with Jasmine rice. It was light and not too spicy for an Italian not used to eating hot and spicy foods (penne arrabiata is as hot as it gets in Italian cuisine). The vegetables were fresh and crisp, and the sauce light yet complex enough to satiate the palate, but it left a strange aftertaste unlike when she has had it in the past. She could barely eat it and the server did not bother asking how our meal was or if there was a problem with the dish, bringing a to-go container and making us box it up ourselves.

I love curry and Zen Zero’s Massaman curry (now $8.29, $10.28 with beef), a coconut curry from Southern Thailand with potatoes peanuts (no pork option), was as good a I remember. Having ordered my curry with the customary beef (an extra $2.99), the curry was rich and well seasoned. A thick red curry, Massaman comes with tofu or meat (other than pork – $1.99 to $3.99 extra charge for meat or seafood) with potatoes and peanuts in a huge bowl served with Jasmine rice. Not overly abundant in the beef department, I was not too disappointed because the thick curry sauce was nearly as good as the best I have ever eaten (the best was a similar curry at a small Vietnamese restaurant in Palos Verdes, California back in the late 1970s).

Our appetizers took quite a while to arrive and our entrees took even longer. I watched my wife’s Phad Phak Ruam Mitr sit on the counter for at least ten minutes until my curry was finally ready, all the while our server was too busy talking on her cell phone to bring us our food and we had to wait even longer after my curry was finally ready.

When we had finished, I gave our server a coupon we had received (2nd dinner half-off with purchase of an entree and two drinks), she told me she did not think we could use it. I asked, “Why?”, and she told me “You have to order two drinks to get the deal”. To which I replied, “We did, I had two beers” (and a couple appetizers to boot) to which she responded, “I’ll have to check with my manager to see if it’s OK”. Really? I should not have been surprised because Zen Zero is owned by the same group that owns Genovese where we had a similar incident a while back (they also refused to honor a coupon). I find myself wondering why the owners bother printing coupons if they are just going to have their servers hassle customers who try to use them.

Zen Zero had become a staple in our house and we may likely be returning in the future even though they have raised their prices rather significantly in the past year and the service was not nearly as good as it used to be. Good restaurants are not abundant in Lawrence, particularly downtown, but Zen Zero is a welcome option, albeit a bit pricier than in the past.

I gave Zen Zero 9 Bombs Out Of 10 in a past review, but with deductions for their price increases, the delays in receiving our appetizers and entrees, the weird aftertaste in the Phad Phak Ruam Mitr, and being hassled by the server for using a coupon …

CombatCritic Now Gives Zen Zero 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … Bombs Are Good!




Six Bombs Equates To:
“Good To Go”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Zen Zero Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Zen ZeroZen Zero

Title: Lawrence, Kansas: Price Increases And Poor Service (Literally) Left A Bad Taste In Our Mouths

Key Words: travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, zen zero, zen, zero, Lawrence, Kansas, Massachusetts, Thai, Nepalese, Japanese, 66044, CombatCritic, TravelValue


Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

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

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


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

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

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

Lawrence, Kansas: Overrated, Overpriced, and Underwhelming, A Bakery That Sells Burnt Bread?


1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe
1900 Barker Avenue
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 424-7609
Website: 1900barker.com
Prices: $$$$

Only bread, pastries, maybe some quiche, and coffees/teas available here, no real food, so think “European” style cafe, not the American variety where you can find a sandwich, soup, or more on the menu.
I thought the other popular bakeries in town were expensive – if you live in Lawrence, you know which two I am thinking about – until I stopped by 1900 Barker this morning.
I had heard they were a bit pricey, but that is an understatement! I paid $9 ($8.50+tax) for a loaf of (burnt) apple and raisin wheat bread, the most I have spent in my life in any of the 41 countries I have visited, including Switzerland, for a loaf of bread. Seems rather excessive to me.

It also seems as if everyone is giving 1900 Barker 5/5 Stars, jumping on the bandwagon for a new business off the beaten path. I think 5 Stars (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, TABELog) are given out willy-nilly by far too many reviewers, but my ratings are based on “value”, hence the name of this blog: “TravelValue”, what you get in terms of quality, service and price. So based on their absurd prices alone, I cannot give them more than 4 Bombs (2 Stars), especially when I take into account that the bread was burnt, even more so on the bottom than the top.

I hope they succeed, I really do. I hate for any business to fail (with a couple of exceptions in Lawrence, but that’s another review or two), particularly when they have large sums invested in a venture (the place used to be a run down laundromat). However, after the novelty wears off, people will require more value for their dollar. So, unless they bring their prices back down to Earth and stop burning the bread, I unfortunately do not see this venture being a long-term success.


CombatCritic Gives 1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe 4 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Four Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Overrated, Overpriced, and Underwhelming: This Bakery Sells Burnt Bread

Key Words: 1900 Barker Bakery And Cafe, 1900, Barker, bakery, cafe, bread, coffee, pastries, Lawrence, Kansas, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, product, restaurant, menu review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

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

An Outstanding Lunch Value, Possibly Overpriced As A Dinner Option


Osteria dei Centopoveri 
Restaurant and Pizzeria
Via Palazzuolo, 31r, 50123 
Florence, Italy
Phone: +39 055 218846
Website: centopoveri.it
Prices: $$$$


Air conditioning on a 100+ degree day in sweltering Florence, Italy … HOOAH!

Tortellini Panna Prosciutto Con Piselli


Reasonably priced at €10 for a two course lunch, including wine, water, service and tip, this osteria (it is not spelled “ostaria”, just like pizzeria is not spelled “pizzaria”) and pizzeria is one of many value options near train station Santa Maria Novella in Florence. There are better and worse, but the food and service were pretty good and the price excellent.


Insalata Caprese

The restaurant is large and our group of six were quickly seated even though they were pretty busy. Five adults ordered off of the fixed price menu and the lone, very hungry child ordered a Margherita pizza, what else. Four of us had the tortellini panna prosciutto con piselli (ham, cream, and peas) for our first course and one had the pasta alla Sorrentina. The tortellini were mass produced, but very good, and plentiful served in a creamy, garlicky sauce with diced ham and peas. The sauce was so good that I ignored my wife’s pleas and performed “scarpetta”, cleaning my plate with the fresh, local bread and happily consuming it. The pasta all Sorrentina did not look all that appetizing, but what could we expect in Florence? There was no sauce, only a small amount of crushed tomato and a little mozzarella mixed with a lot of store-bought pasta.

Frittata di Patate


The very hungry child did not receive his pizza until after our second courses were served, but he was very patient nonetheless. A pizza lover, he was not impressed by his pizza although it looked good from where I was sitting, so 3/4 of it went uneaten. Our main courses were the Caprese salad, frittata de patate (potato omelette), and scallopine ai funghi (pork cutlets in mushroom sauce). The Caprese was decent with fresh fior di latte (cow’s milk), not mozzarella di bufala (made with water buffalo milk in the region of Campania) as you would get in and around the Island of Capri, its namesake. The dish’s signature fresh basil leaves were notably missing and replaced with lettuce, something you would never see in Southern Italy, but it was not bad at all. The frittata di patate was pretty good, although my wife did not think it was good as her friend Giovanna (from Naples) mother’s version. Giovanna had the scallopine, which she said was “so-so”, coming in a thick, creamy mushroom sauce along with green beans on the side. It looked good, but I did not taste it, so I cannot corroborate her evaluation.
Scallopine ai Funghi


We received a liter of local red wine for the five of us, five bottles of water (we had been walking in the 100 degree heat for four hours), and five after-meal espressos with the bill coming to a very reasonable €60.50 for six people, a relative bargain in Florence. The menu is basic, nothing fancy, but the food good and the value exceptional. They are quite a bit pricier for dinner, in the €25 to €40 range per person, so lunch is a major value.


My only complaints were: 1) the child did not get his pizza as fast as he should have; 2) the sparsely adorned pasta alla Sorrentina; and 3) the lack of basil on the Caprese Salad, otherwise we were quite pleased with our meal.

CombatCritic Gives Osteria dei Centopoveri 7 Bombs Out Of 10 (3.5/5 Stars) … BOMBS ARE GOOD IN THIS CASE!




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Title: An Outstanding Lunch Value, Possibly Overpriced As A Dinner Option

Key Words: Osteria dei Centopoveri, osteria, centopoveri, restaurant, pizzeria, Via Palazzuolo, Firenze, Florence, Santa Maria Novella, Italy, menu, review, travel, value, pasta, wine, pizza, CombatCritic, Yelp, TripAdvisor, tourist

Florence, Italy: Good Versus Bad Equates To Average Value


  • Trattoria Il Contadino
  • Via del Palazzuolo 69-71R
  • Florence, Italy
  • South of Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Phone: +39 055 2382673
  • trattoriailcontadino.com
 Prices: $$$$

Trattoria Da Giorgo, just down the street, is closed on Sunday and was not an option after our return to the train station from a day trip in Siena, so we decided to try Il Contadino. They have decent food and lots of it with cheap prices compared to the rest of the overpriced tourist traps in Florence. Unlike many restaurants in Italy, they are open seven days a week from noon (12:00) until 10:30pm (22:30), so you can get a meal anytime you like. Arriving around 7:00pm on a Sunday night after a long day in the Tuscan sun, we were quickly seated and shortly thereafter our waiter arrived. 


That was the most efficient service we received the rest of the night because as he and his female counterpart hovered around our table in the nearly empty restaurant, making for a rather uncomfortable experience, they chatted with each other and their friends at the next table. However, when we needed something, we had to try to catch their eye rather than counting on them to notice when they were needed instead of socializing with each other.


Tagliatelle alla Boscaiola

The menu is fixed price, €9 to €12 for lunch, and €13.50 to €14.50 for dinner, a decent value for what you receive in return and there is also an “ala carte” menu if you so choose. For €14.50 (€12 at lunch) you are entitled to a ½ liter of water, ¼ liter of wine (per person/ red or white), primo (first course from the day’s menu – pasta, soup, etc), secondo (second course from the day’s menu – meat dish), and contorno (vegetable – salad, potatoes, artichokes, broccoli, etc). 

Scallopine

Tagiatelle alla Boscailola, a long, thin pasta in a tomato-based sauce with ground beef, mushrooms, and black olives was my choice as a primo. The tagliatelle were good with rich, earthy tones from the mushrooms and unlike more than a few Tuscan restaurants we have been to recently, perfectly cooked “al dente”. My wife decided to forgo the meat dish, so she ordered the prosciutto e melone (cured ham and and honeydew melon) for her primo. Being difficult to improve on sliced ham and melon, her first course was as good a most places and a fair size portion.
Risotto

For secondi I had the scaloppine ai funghi (pork cutlets in a white wine and mushroom sauce). The meat was very dry and had obviously been sitting around much of the day waiting for a customer to arrive. The sauce was good and there was plenty of it, but a few more mushrooms would have been nice. My wife had the risotto with zucchini and gorgonzola, creamy with a bit of zing from the aged cheese, it could have cooked a minute or two longer to reach the desired consistency of a classic risotto. Our contorni were patate fritte (French fries), crispy but not very hot, and patate arrosto (roasted potatoes) which, like the pork, had also been sitting in a chafing dish for far too long.

We had to remind the waiter two times to bring our wine, a local red, which was decent, lightly chilled and fruity. Instead of bringing a half-liter for the two of us, he brought a single one-quarter liter carafe five to ten minutes after our primi had arrived and another carafe, having to ask him once again, after our second courses had arrived. With so few people in the restaurant, there is really no excuse for such inattentive service.

The restaurant is clean and bright even though it is in a rather seedy part of town, but we were somewhat disappointed by the food and very disappointed by the service. When I gave the waiter my card, telling him that I would post a review on my blog, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, he said “So what? I can post a review on TripAdvisor, so what makes you different from me?” I told him that I am Yelp

“Elite”, a TripAdvisor “Top Contributor”, and have a blog averaging 40,000 views a year. Enough said.

You will have a better meal in Italy for €30 or less, several places come to mind, but in Florence, with its dearth of reasonably priced restaurants, you will not find many inexpensive options. Although our experience was somewhat disappointing, the food was not bad overall and the prices fair. So if Trattoria da Giorgio just down the street is closed or too full, Trattoria il Contadino would be a decent second choice.

CombatCritic Gives Trattoria Il Contadino 6 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

Fixed Price Menu (Italian)

Fixed Price Menu (English)

Special Menu (Dinner)

Menu of the Day (Italian)

Menu of the Day (English)




Title: Good Versus Bad Equates To Average Value

Key Words: Trattoria il Contadino, trattoria, Contadino, Firenze, Florence, Santa Maria Novella, Italy, menu, review, travel, value, pasta, wine, meat, dessert, CombatCritic, Yelp, TripAdvisor, tourist

By Giorgio, This Is As Good As It Gets!


 Trattoria da Giorgio
  • Via del Palazzuolo 100R
  • Florence, Italy
  • South of Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Phone: +39 055 284302
  • Website: trattoriadagiorgio.it
 Prices: $$$$
We ate here three years ago and loved the place. Great food, lots of it, and ridiculously cheap prices compared to the rest of Florence and its overpriced tourist traps. So we returned once again and, again, we were not disappointed!
They open for dinner at 6pm, rather early by Italian standards, but make sure you get there before 8pm unless you want to wait. They have a sign-up sheet at the entrance if all of the tables are full, so simply jot your name down if you cannot find a seat. Arriving around 7:45pm on a Wednesday night, we were quickly seated and shortly thereafter our waiter arrived with our water and a half-liter of red wine.

The menu is fixed price, €13 for lunch and €14 for dinner, a pittance for what you receive in return and there is no “ala carte” menu. For that very reasonable price, you are entitled to a ½ liter of water, ¼ liter of wine (per person/ red or white), primo (first course – pasta, soup, etc), secondo (second course – meat dish), and contorno (vegetable – salad, potatoes, artichokes, broccoli, etc). Desserts are extra, but quite cheap at €2 for lemon sorbet or €3 for tiramisu, panna cotta, and cheesecake among others.
We had the homemade pasta for our primi, a bigoli (think fat spaghetti) with black truffles and mushrooms and paccheri con broccoli e salsicce (a large flat noodle in a creamy sauce of broccoli florettes and sausage). The truffle and mushroom pasta was superb with rich, earthy tones and unlike more than a few Tuscan restaurants we have been to recently, perfectly cooked “al dente”. The paccheri con broccoli e salsicce had a slightly odd taste, almost as if there were tuna in the recipe (I asked and there was not). It was not bad, but it was not what I was expecting, so my wife and I swapped plates as she found it quite tasty. I attribute it to a temporary disruption in my palate rather than a problem on their part.
For secondi we both had the scaloppine marsala e noci (cutlets, pork I believe, in a creamy marsala and walnut sauce). The meat was juicy and tender and the sauce sublime, reminiscent of a savory German “rahm” (cream) sauce and one of the best sauces I have had in recent memory. Our contorni were patate fritte (French fries), perfectly cooked – crispy and hot – and artichokes marinated in olive oil, also excellent.
The wine, a local red, was good – lightly chilled, mildly sparkling, fruity, and slightly sweet. Although very full, we could not resist sharing a tiramisu (€3). Coming in a rather large cup, there were layers of saviardi cookies soaked in coffee and sweet mascarpone cheese sprinkled with cocoa powder as is the tradition.
Once again, we were not disappointed. In-fact, Trattoria da Giorgio is the “BEST VALUE” in Florence or anywhere else for that matter. You will not have a better meal anywhere in Italy for €30 … guaranteed.
CombatCritic Gives Trattoria da Giorgio 10 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better … IT’S “THE BOMB”!



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

Title: By Giorgio, This Is As Good As It Gets!

Key Words: Trattoria da Giorgio, trattoria, Giorgio, Firenze, Florence, Italy, menu, review, travel, value, pasta, wine, meat, dessert, CombatCritic, Yelp, TripAdvisor, tourist