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October 2019

Food Review: Millville Pumpkin Crispy O's

By Mike Thayer

'tis the season of Pumpkin Spice....

Millville Pumpkin Crispy O'sIt's in just about everything this time of year, pumpkin spice coffee, coffee creamer, pancakes, cereals, yogurt, Oreo Cookies, cream cheese, beer, a plethora of baked goods and more.

I've never really been a passenger on the pumpkin spice train, but when shopping for a few groceries the other day I passed by a display of pumpkin spice cereal and said, "What the heck, I'll give it a shot."

I picked up a box of Millville Pumpkin Crispy O's at Aldi.  Their Crispy O's are a Cheerios knock-off and I did a review of the Millville version last year and for the money, I actually prefer Millville over Cheerios.

But today is a different taste test...

It was a mistake buying a box of pumpkin flavored cereal, no matter the brand.

This stuff was overly sweet and I just couldn't get past that artificial pumpkin flavor.  I tried the cereal with milk, without milk, with milk & blueberries (NOT a good combo), it was all, UGH.  The cereal does stay crunchy though, because of the heavy sugar/pumpkin flavor coating......  When craving Crispy O's, I'll stick with the regular stuff.

Millville Pumpkin Crispy O's w blueberriesCosting me $1.99 for a 12 ounce box, I'm giving Millville Pumpkin Crispy O's just 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  While the price is wallet friendly, the bottom line is cereal and pumpkin is NOT a good combination and NOT worthy of a repeat buy. 

2 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

 


Food Review: Simply Nature Organic Multi Grain Tortilla Chips

By Mike Thayer

Simply Nature Tortilla ChipsIn search of a healthier chip alternative, I recently did a review on a "cauliflower" chip.  While the chips I sampled were indeed tasty, they really weren't any more or less healthy than any other kind of chip.

So with that quest for a healthier chip in mind, today I'm sampling the Organic Multi Grain Tortilla Chips made by Simply Nature.

Certified organic and non-GMO (if you care about such things) the chips are quite tasty and they hold up well to dipping in salsa. I tasted them by themselves, with salsa, I used them to make nachos. They do well in any classic tortilla chip preparation.

But are these chips really any healthier than any other?

Here's the ingredient list:  Organic yellow corn, organic white corn, organic sunflower oil, organic brown flaxseed, organic brown rice flour, salt, organic sunflower seeds, organic sugar, organic sesame seeds.

All the ingredients are organic, which is a huge plus for a lot of folks and the list sounds healthy, right?  We're talking flaxseed, brown rice as opposed to white which is much more highly processed, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, all those seeds are supposed to be good for you....

But in what matters most to me from a dietary standpoint, a serving of these chips actually have more carbs than many traditional chips at 18 grams. Classic Lays potato chips come in at 15 grams, Fritos have 16 grams and Doritos also have 16 grams of carbs.  And while the Simply Nature product does rate well in the sodium metric, 115 grams vs. an average of 180 grams in traditional chips, all other metrics such as fat, sugar and dietary fiber are only marginally better or are in the same amount as regular chips.

Tortilla ChipsSo after evaluating just two brands of supposedly healthier chips, the reality is there's probably no such thing.  We're still talking a very highly processed food and there is no dramatic difference in the nutritional metrics, not enough to change your body in any way, as in, you can't swap out Doritos for some organic 'healthy' chip and expect to lose weight or prevent some health condition.  Like any other 'sinful' food, chips should be eaten in moderation, THAT is the key.   It doesn't matter if you're eating Lays potato chips or Simply Nature, enjoy the occasional serving, but eating too many or too often is a bad thing, no matter the brand or marketing hype.

Costing me just $1.89 at Aldi, I'm giving Simply Nature Organic Multi Grain Tortilla Chips 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They are tasty and the price is right.  The only knock I have against them is the marketing hype.  So despite the implied healthier hype, these are a nice tortilla chip alternative and are worthy of a repeat buy.

4 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Pizza Challenge Update: Who has the best pizza in the Wichita Metro area? Is it Deano's Grill & Tapworks?

By Mike Thayer

Pizza is my favorite food.  Burgers, steaks, lasagna, anything grilled and an assortment of other dishes are high on the list of favorites, but there's nothing quite like a good slice of pizza pie....  That slice of pie has that perfectly baked crust that's flaky/crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside.  Then there's the marriage of toppings, the subtle spices of pepperoni and sausage, assorted veggies that are tender-crisp like onion and bell pepper.  The sauce, it's got to be a zesty sauce, providing those notes of garlic and oregano with each bite.  And bringing everything together is a generous portion of melted cheeses, mozzarella, Parmesan, perhaps some cheddar or provolone that bubbles up in the oven to golden, brown, deliciousness!

No national chains will be included in this challenge.  Only the local, regional pizza joints qualify.  Besides, Domino's sucks, Little Caesar's really sucks (sucking SO bad they don't even deserve a link) and Papa John's and Pizza Hut are average tasting pizzas at best.  The fact is, the local/regional joints run circles around the national chains in dishing up high quality, great tasting pizza.

During the course of this challenge I'll consider customer service, time to order, price, appearance and of course, the most important thing, TASTE.

It was a Saturday-night-college-football-on-TV-at-a-sports-bar taste test at Deano's Grill & Tapworks.

Deano's Doggy Breath PizzaI have to admit, Deano's was NOT part of my original list of 18 places to evaluate for best pizza in Wichita, but a friend highly recommended Deano's and their Doggy Breath Pizza, so I just HAD to try it!

Here's the description from the bar's website:  Deano's Doggy Breath Dog sauce (house-made pizza sauce and garlic paste), mozzarella, pepperoni and red onion. Garnished with garlic chips.

The pizza looked fantastic and smelled even better when it arrived.  Deano's serves up their 14 inch pies in classic paddle fashion and with that aroma just teasing me as I got my plate ready I couldn't wait to take that first bite.  Just LOOK at that crust, it's baked to perfection!

It was a delicious bite, good, flavorful pepperoni, complimented by the red onion, there's a more than generous amount of mozzarella cheese, but the kicker is that garlic, the chips included with the toppings is a nice touch, but that sauce....  That sauce is what puts this pizza into the "You have to try this category."  It is garlic forward, it's not subtle at all, it's in-your-face but in a good way.  And while I did enjoy this pizza and it did look awesome and smelled great at first glance/wafting aroma when delivered to my seat at the bar, I was a bit disappointed in the prep work on this pie.  It's like half the pie got red onion and garlic chips, the other half didn't.....  And while the pepperoni portion was adequate, it wasn't exactly generous either.

Costing me $14.99, I'm giving the Deano's Doggy Breath pizza 4 out of 5 stars and it's worthy of a repeat buy.   Had the toppings been a bit more balanced, this pizza would have scored a 5 star review. 

4 stars

BeerDeano's Grill & Tapworks is located at:

9747 East 21st St N
Suite 101
Wichita, KS 67206

The service at Deano's is STELLAR!  Every server was friendly, wearing smiles and paid attention to detail, they didn't miss a beat from time of order to settling up the bill.   I didn't have to ask for a beer refill and the bartender was cranking out the drinks on college football night!  She really knew what she was doing.  Nicely done Deano's and crew!

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Burger Ideas - Grilling Good Eats

By Mike Thayer

BurgersThe burger, specifically the cheeseburger with all the classic toppings, is one of my favorite foods. It's a predictable choice, a typical choice, a go-to food for a lot of bachelors. I like burgers because they're relatively cheap and easy to prepare and I love to fire up the grill and nothing says summer quite like a grilled burger and a cold beer. The question is, can a guy eat burgers for lunch and dinner for seven days straight and not get bored with it?

Bored with a burger?  NO WAY!

But there are those times when a spin on the classic is pretty darn tasty!  Here are some burger recipes that kick things up a notch, starting with that classic:

The Classic Burger:  So the key to my Classic burger is to include Cookies Flavor Enhancer in the meat. I like to use an 80/20 grind of ground beef, it's a perfect blend of meat/fat for the grill and mixing in the Cookies Flavor Enhancer gives it the edge when it comes to a depth of flavor when combined with the kiss of smoke from the grill.

Idaho BurgerThe Idaho Burger:  This recipe was ‘developed’ by my three young sons on a summer vacation trip to Idaho. It’s pretty much a classic bacon cheeseburger and BBQ sauce with a spin of mine (adding pork sausage), but my boys really thought they had come up with something new. I wasn’t about to spoil their creativity in their grilling moment of discovery.  

Meatloaf BurgerThe Meatloaf Burger:  I know the burger purists out there might say this isn't really a burger, but let me tell you, it's another dose of YUM! Three meats = flavor, the breadcrumbs provide a nice little texture crunch because it crisps up on the grill, the ketchup glaze is scrumptious and the mac & cheese topper just kicks things up another notch. It's comfort food and a burger in one awesome package!

Pizza BurgerThe Pizza Burger: The combination of burger and pizza, how can this NOT be good right?  This is a stuffed burger and my favorite pizza toppings are pepperoni and mushrooms, so that's what I'm stuffing this burger with along with sauce and mozzarella cheese. That's what I love about stuffed burgers, the choices of what to put in your burger are almost endless!

The Juicy Lucy:  The great thing about these burgers is playing with a variety of cheeses. Melted cheddar, swiss and or provolone are great too! Do combinations or specialty cheeses like pepperjack. Your choices are almost unlimited!

Thanksgiving BurgerThe Thanksgiving Burger:  This is another stuffed burger recipe, a plate of Thanksgiving Day goodness all in one bite!  The toasted bun was dressed with a brown butter & cranberry jelly, the turkey burger was seasoned with my signature rub and stuffed with loaded mashed potatoes and gravy and the green beans were Tempura battered and fried. It was another dose of YUM!

Cajun BurgerThe Cajun Burger:  This burger takes everything that is classic Cajun and delivers it in a big flavor fashion!   It's a pork sausage and Andouille sausage patty kissed with some Cajun spice, there's a slice of melted muenster cheese and it's served on a garlic toasted bun dressed with a Cajun spice remoulade.   It was another dose of YUM!

Mediterranean BurgerThe Mediterranean Burger:  It's lunch in the Mediterranean! This burger features ground lamb and melds together all the classic flavors of the Mediterranean. There's feta cheese, hummus, Kalamata olives and more in this great burger. 

California BurgerThe California Burger:  It's dinner in California!  This burger features avacado and bacon jam!  I've never had bacon jam before and after tasting it, I was like, "Where have you been all my life?"  As Guy Fieri might say, you could put that stuff on a flip-flop and it would taste good

Mexican BurgerThe Mexican Burger:  This burger features a mixture of ground beef and Mexican chorizo, which provides for a little heat. Topped with a little salsa and guacamole, this takes taco flavors up to a whole new level! 

Garlic Chicken Curry BurgerThe Garlic Chicken Curry Burger:  The taste of India featuring a mixture of ground chicken, garlic and curry. Add in a garlic/curry/ginger aioli, lettuce, tomato, red onion and cucumbers (nope, not pickles) and this burger delivers some excellent international flare!  

Breakfast BurgerThe Breakfast Burger:  This burger puts some beef into the morning meal and kicks the typical breakfast sandwich up a couple notches! The great thing about this burger, is it's an excellent use of leftover burgers from last night's dinner. And there's just something a little extra special with that golden yoke from the over easy egg running down the side of the sandwich....

French Dip BurgerThe French Dip Burger:  It's lunch in France! This burger is a spin on the classic French Dip sandwich, featuring onion and Au Jus. The combination of that seasoned ground beef, those savory onions and a great bun soaked in that Au Jus makes for a fantastic bite! 

Asian BurgerThe Asian Burger:  The Orient really shines with the flavors of General Tsao and a Ramen noodle bun. When you sink your teeth into it, it's kind of like a giant, beefy, egg roll bite!

Get the tongs out and have some fun with flavor!

 

 

 


Braum's Bacon Mushroom Swiss Crispy Chicken Sandwich is a winner, winner, chicken dinner

Braum's Bacon Mushroom Swiss SpecialsBy Mike Thayer

For a limited time, Braum's has brought back their lineup of Bacon, Mushroom & Swiss sandwiches.

I didn't take advantage of these offerings last time around and regretted it, so hearing they were back on the menu, I jumped on the chance for a Sunday night dinner.

Braum's gives you a choice of grilled chicken, a juicy burger or crispy chicken to go with mushrooms seasoned and marinated to perfection, crisp strips of bacon and real swiss cheese, complimented by lettuce, tomato and onion. 

I went with the Crispy Chicken Bacon Mushroom Swiss Sandwich....  That's a mouthful to say and a mouthful to enjoy!

Braum's Crispy Chicken Bacon Mushroom SwissMy sandwich was loaded with flavor! The chicken was perfectly prepared, I got that good crunch on the outside and juicy, tender, nicely seasoned breast meat in every bite.  The portion of bacon was generous, the marinated mushrooms were spot on and that Swiss cheese is a perfect pairing for this sandwich.  Complimenting it all was the classic combination of fresh onion, lettuce and tomato all presented nicely on a toasted sesame seed bun.   One thing you can say about Braum's, they care about having fresh veggies. The only knock I have on this sandwich was that some of the bacon was slightly overdone, one slice in particular being a bit dark and having that slightly bitter taste.  After removing that half-slice, the sandwich was quite good, mouthwatering good. 

Braum's Crispy ChickenI paid $8.27 for the Crispy Chicken Bacon Mushroom Swiss Sandwich, which included a large order of fries (crinkle cut fries, YUM!) and a drink.   This sandwich is definitely worth a repeat buy and I look forward to sampling the burger and grilled chicken options. I'm giving this Braum's limited time offering 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. 

4 stars

The Braum's visited on this occasion is located at 1261 S. Rock Rd., Wichita, KS. 67207.

The service was courteous and I was in and out with my to-go order in about 5 minutes.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Food Review: Real Food From The Ground Up Cauliflower Tortilla Chips

By Mike Thayer

Cauliflower Tortilla ChipsTouted as a healthier chip alternative, a company called Real Food From The Ground Up makes a Sea Salt Tortilla Chip that's pretty darn tasty.

The company calls it a cauliflower chip, even though cauliflower is listed as the second vegetable ingredient behind cassava and there is a laundry list of other veggie ingredients.  I suppose it's a marketing thing, picking up on the cauliflower trend and far more people are familiar with it, than they are cassava.  What is cassava?  It's a root vegetable native to South America.

Here's the full list of ingredients:  cassava, organic sunflower oil, cauliflower, chia seed, sea salt, vegetable blend (spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, beets, shiitake mushrooms), garlic, parsley, celery seed.

Sounds healthy, right?

The chips are indeed tasty and they hold up well to dipping in salsa.  I tasted them by themselves, with salsa, I used them to make nachos.  They do well in any classic tortilla chip preparation.

But are they really a healthier chip?

Not really.  A serving of these "cauliflower" chips actually have more carbs than many traditional chips at 19 grams.  Classic Lays potato chips come in at 15 grams, Fritos have 16 grams and Doritos also have 16 grams of carbs.  Cauliflower is indeed a low carb veggie, but there's the marketing manipulation by this company, all those other ingredients in that "cauliflower" chip drives up the carb count.  So don't buy this chip thinking you're eating a low carb alternative because you won't be.  And while the fat gram count is a bit lower at 6 grams vs. 10 grams in a traditional chip, other metrics such as sodium, sugar and dietary fiber are only marginally better or are in the same amount as regular chips.

Cauliflower Tortilla chipCosting me $5.99 for a 4.5 ounce bag, it's a pricey bag of chips and a small bag at that.  If you're a vegan, you'll be glad to know these are certified vegan, but real chip lovers could care less.  These chips are also certified gluten free, but there's more marketing gimmick, most potato and corn chips are gluten free.  Gluten is a wheat, rye and barley thing, not a potato or corn chip thing.  Overall, these chips score well on flavor and crunch, but they are NOT Bachelor on the Cheap wallet friendly so I'm giving Real Food From The Ground Up Cauliflower Tortilla Chips 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  They are not worthy of a repeat buy.  I'd rather get a much bigger bag of tortilla chips for less money and no marketing b.s.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 

 


Subway makes a better brisket sandwich than Hog Wild Pit BBQ

By Mike Thayer

In the battle of brisket sandwiches, it's Subway vs. Hog Wild Pit BBQ

Subway Pit-Smoke Brisket SandwichI'm not a fan of either one of these places, each can be dubbed as the "McDonald's" of their niche offerings.  Subway is the "McDonald's" of sub sandwiches, very convenient and available, but most everything on the menu is "eh".... it's average food at best. Hog Wild Pit BBQ - a regional chain - is the "McDonald's" of BBQ, they have a lot of locations in my neck of the woods, they are convenient for when you're in the mood for BBQ, but it's very average BBQ at best. 

I was motivated to write this particular article because:

  1. I'm a foodie 
  2. I'm a fan of BBQ and out of sheer curiosity I just had to try Subway's version of a brisket sandwich.  C'mon, a sub shop that supposedly pit-smokes brisket for 13 hours?
  3. After sampling Subway's sandwich, I concluded that while there was nothing "Wow!" about the sandwich, it was still better than the brisket sandwich made by Hog Wild Pit BBQ!

For a limited time - through November 7th - Subway has finally jumped on the brisket train of popularity by offering what they call a Pit-Smoked Brisket Sandwich.  My review of the sandwich can be read here.   To sum, the brisket was under seasoned and didn't give you the smoke flavor you're looking for in something supposedly smoked for 13 hours.  And while it wasn't a great sandwich, it wasn't bad either and it dawned on me while eating it and pondering the review write-up, that it was better than what Hog Wild offers!

So in the name of "Food Science" I went across the street from my neighborhood Subway and purchased a brisket sandwich combo from Hog Wild (sandwich, side, drink).  I got a side of mac & cheese and a lemonade.  As previously stated, I'm not a fan of Hog Wild, previous reviews can be read here and here.    And it was confirmed:  What I was thinking in eating the Subway brisket sandwich was true, Hog Wild's brisket sandwich is inferior - and they're a bbq joint!

Subway Brisket Sandwich Brisket ShotThe Subway brisket sandwich cost $6.99 for a 6 inch sandwich. That's just for the sandwich, I didn't get chips or a drink.  That's a higher price than Hog Wild, but you do get your choice of bread and how you can doctor up your sandwich with a variety of toppings which in my case was smoked cheddar, red onions, pickles and some mustard to accompany the bbq sauce.  In the price comparison, the Hog Wild brisket sandwich as a value meal cost $6.49.  It's not something you can really doctor up though, pretty much served as is, coming with a standard bun, brisket, some sauce, no frills.  I did go to the drink/condiment service area and picked up some pickles for the sandwich.  The only plus for Hog Wild, the meal does come with that choice of side and a drink.  Their mac & cheese isn't bad. 

But here's what makes the Subway Sandwich better than Hog Wild (and that's not saying much)....  Not only is the Subway sandwich a much larger sandwich, despite the brisket being under seasoned, it was tender meat and how you can doctor up the sandwich makes up for the lack of some smoky flavor.  Subway also slices their brisket, a HUGE plus over what Hog Wild does, which is to pull/shred the brisket.   In my book, that's a BBQ crime.  Modern brisket sandwich making is SLICED.  And you have to wonder if you're getting 100% brisket in that shred, considering what they try to pass off as burnt ends aren't really burnt ends.  The sauces used on the sandwiches were both Kansas City style sauces, on the sweet side, neither sauce being particularly better than the other.  Subway also gets the nod with better bread.

Hog Wild Brisket Sandwich
The no frills, pulled brisket sandwich from Hog Wild. Shredded (a.k.a. pulled)? Really?  In today's bbq world, people want SLICED brisket.

In the battle of brisket sandwiches, Subway vs. Hog Wild:  Subway wins.  Sliced brisket, Italian bread, smoked cheddar, large variety in choice of toppings takes Subway to victory.

If these two restaurants are your only choices for a brisket sandwich, go with Subway.

But don't take that to mean either of these sandwiches are a repeat buy, neither are.  I just thought that it's a sad statement.... that a sub shop can make a better brisket sandwich than a BBQ joint.

This was a fun challenge, but not the tastiest of challenges.

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Food Review: Subway's Pit-Smoked Brisket Sandwich

By Mike Thayer

Subway Pit-Smoke Brisket SandwichFor a limited time - through November 7th - Subway has finally jumped on the brisket train of popularity by offering what they call a Pit-Smoked Brisket Sandwich.

I'm into barbecue, a.k.a., BBQ, especially brisket, so even though it's Subway (I'm not a big fan), I thought I'd give it a shot.

Here's the description of the sandwich from Subway's website: New Pit-Smoked Brisket, naturally smoked for at least 13 hours, topped with smoked cheddar and barbecue sauce.  Layers of smoky flavor in every.single.bite.

Sauntering into my neighborhood Subway a bit after 11am on a Tuesday, there were a few patrons in the joint but no line at the counter.  The sandwich maker asked me what I would like to order and I let him know I was there to try the brisket sandwich, 6 inch, on the advertised Italian bread, with smoked cheddar and toasted.  It didn't take long at all to prepare the sandwich and along with the BBQ sauce it comes with, I added red onion, mustard and pickle. 

I wasn't really expecting to be "wowed" by this sandwich, we are talking Subway after all.....  In my book, Subway is the "McDonald's" of sub sandwiches, very convenient and available, but most everything on the menu is "eh"....  average food at best.  But in taking that first bite, I had to admit, the sandwich exceeded my expectations.  It isn't a bad sandwich, as in, not great, but not bad either.  In fact, Subway makes a better brisket sandwich than the BBQ joint across the street. 

Subway Brisket Sandwich Brisket ShotThe brisket, sliced (as it should be, NOT shredded) was tender but under-seasoned, and while the portion was neither skimpy nor generous, the meat was complimented well by the smoky cheddar, bbq sauce, onions, pickles and mustard.  I added the mustard because, not only is mustard a great pairing with bbq sauce, I added it because a lot of fast food restaurants use sauces that run on the too sweet side of BBQ and mustard helps to offset that sweetness, along with the tartness of the pickle.  That being said, the bbq sauce Subway uses isn't bad either, it is on the sweet side, but not overly so.  All in all, this isn't a bad sandwich, not a disappointment, but probably not something I would buy again.  Subway says there are layers of smoky flavor in every bite.....  Not so much..... The smoked cheddar carries it, but the brisket comes up short, especially for a supposed 13 hours in the pit smoked brisket.   And I would recommend getting the sandwich toasted, which warms up the bread and melts the cheese, but unfortunately doesn't really warm up the brisket, which would make for a better sandwich.  It did satisfy my curiosity though and the fact that Subway actually makes a better brisket sandwich than a regional BBQ joint located across the street, kind of cracked me up!  That doesn't say much for the BBQ joint, right?

Subway Brisket Sandwich inside lookCosting me $6.99 for a 6 inch sandwich, the price is a bit on the high end of what you would pay for a brisket sandwich at a BBQ joint (smaller sandwich, but would also come with a side).  With the brisket lacking in seasoning and the marketing hype of smoked flavor, I'm giving the sandwich 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.   If you don't have a good BBQ joint around, this sandwich isn't a bad alternative, but it's not something you're going to get addicted to.

3 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....

Subway Brisket Sandwich Bite

 


Pizza Challenge Update: Who has the best pizza in the Wichita Metro area? Is it AJ's Sports Grill?

By Mike Thayer

Pizza is my favorite food.  Burgers, steaks, lasagna, anything grilled and an assortment of other dishes are high on the list of favorites, but there's nothing quite like a good slice of pizza pie....  That slice of pie has that perfectly baked crust that's flaky/crispy on the outside, but tender and fluffy on the inside.  Then there's the marriage of toppings, the subtle spices of pepperoni and sausage, assorted veggies that are tender-crisp like onion and bell pepper.  The sauce, it's got to be a zesty sauce, providing those notes of garlic and oregano with each bite.  And bringing everything together is a generous portion of melted cheeses, mozzarella, Parmesan, perhaps some cheddar or provolone that bubbles up in the oven to golden, brown, deliciousness!

No national chains will be included in this challenge.  Only the local, regional pizza joints qualify.  Besides, Domino's sucks, Little Caesar's really sucks (sucking SO bad they don't even deserve a link) and Papa John's and Pizza Hut are average tasting pizzas at best.  The fact is, the local/regional joints run circles around the national chains in dishing up high quality, great tasting pizza.

During the course of this challenge I'll consider customer service, time to order, price, appearance and of course, the most important thing, TASTE.

AJ's Pizza hot from the kitchen
Looks good, right?

A Monday Night Football taste test:  AJ's Sports Grill  - Located in The Alley on 13th (bowling, go karts, arcade & more)

The pizza 'foundation' for this challenge is a supreme style of pizza - meat and veggie toppings.  In order to do a fair evaluation of all pizza joints, the choice of toppings has to be as similar as possible.  AJ's version of a supreme pizza - They call it the Perfect 300, working that bowling theme  - features the classic supreme style of pizza toppings and a few extras, pork and Italian sausage, pepperoni, beef, Canadian bacon, green pepper, onion, black olive and mushroom.  

I chose AJ's to be a part of this pizza challenge for two reasons, 1.  Their pizza was recommended by a friend, and 2.  It was Monday night and it doesn't get much better than Monday Night Football, cold beer, pizza and two HUGE big screens for easy viewing at the bar.  I entered the place close to 7pm, I was surprised however to see how empty the place was.  A couple tables were taken and just a few patrons were seated at the bar. 

I found a seat with the aforementioned TV view and Erick the bartender was quick to give me the standard "Welcome, and what can I get you to drink" acknowledgement.  I ordered a 20 ounce Miller Lite which was properly poured and set on a coaster in front of me in short order.

Aj's Pizza with grease
The grease reveal.  It even puddled on the fork!  Click to enlarge, you can actually see how 'wet' the crust looks!

That's when the service went downhill.  I viewed the menu that was already sitting there on the bar, then placed it down and waited, and waited, and waited....  When my beer was about two-thirds gone and MNF underway, I finally had to wave the bartender over to place my meal order.  He took my order and went back to what he was preoccupied with, hanging out with what seemed to be a regular, sitting across from me at the bar.

My pizza didn't take long to arrive, Erick setting it in front of me, asking if I wanted Parmesan cheese or pepper flake, as he set a small plate and silverware by my beer.  I went with the Parm and asked Erick for another beer.  Another was poured and I took that first bite of pizza.

Looks are deceiving!  The "Perfect 300" was far from perfect.  It looked pretty on the paddle and while it is loaded with toppings and appeared to be perfectly baked, a closer look revealed that there was too much grease dripping off and I'm thinking that settled in under the crust during the baking process.  Instead of a crispy/flaky on the outside but tender/fluffy/airy on the inside bottom crust, I got a soggy, greasy crust in almost every bite.  It really kind of ruined the whole experience which is a shame, because I got the notes of the meats and veggies, highlighted by the Canadian bacon and tender-crisp green pepper, but that greasy crust just took all the yum out of the pie.  And while the cheese was generous in portion, the sauce was less-than-stellar, no real zest to it.  If it had any garlic or oregano notes, it got lost in the grease and soggy crust.  This little 6 inch "Individual" pizza was a sad entry in the pizza challenge, I've had a better pizza experience buying Red Baron Mini Pizzas and doctoring them up with extra ingredients at home! 

The little 6 inch "Individual" pizza is the smallest pizza I've had so far in this challenge.  The small in other joints is a bigger pizza and costs less.  I paid $8 for this disappointment.  Along with two beers at $4.50 each and non-attentive service - Erick never asked me how my pizza was, I had to ask him if I could order a meal, he didn't offer let alone suggestive sell, and I also had to ask for a second beer -I shelled out $20 I would have rather spent somewhere else.  I'm giving AJ's Sports Grill and their pizza just 2 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.   The pizza is NOT a repeat buy and the place is not worth a repeat visit.

2 stars

The AJ's Sports Grill visited on this occasion is located at: 11413 E. 13th St. N. Wichita, KS 67206 (The Alley)

PH: (316) 636-1991

 

Additional location:  3232 N Rock Rd, Wichita, KS 67226 (Northrock Lanes)

PH: (316) 636-1991

 


Drink Review: Jack Daniel's Tennessee Apple

By Mike Thayer

Blended and flavored whiskeys are red hot right now, consumer demand for brown spirits continues to rise with American Whiskey in particular seeing some phenomenal sales growth.

Regular readers know that I am a fan of flavored whiskey, I've always got a bottle of something in my freezer for a chilled shot or a flavored specialty in the liquor cabinet to enjoy on the rocks.  My favorite in all this tasting fun so far, has been Yukon Jack Jacapple.

My most recent review was of Royal Crown Peach flavored whiskey.  Good stuff!

Jack Daniel's Tennessee AppleToday's tasting is Jack Daniel's Tennessee Apple.  How will it stack up to my favorite flavored whiskey, Yukon Jack Jacapple?

Released just this week, the new spirit is the classic whiskey mixed with apple liqueur, which in my humble, flavored whiskey opinion is THE best spirit flavor pairing there is.

Here's the description from Jack Daniel's Master Distiller Jeff Arnett.  “Tennessee Apple couples the character of our Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey with the taste of crisp, green apples. It’s like a freshly picked apple in a glass of Jack.”

And he nailed it.  Sampling the whiskey in a straight shot and on the rocks, it's very clean and does indeed taste like a freshly picked apple in a glass of Jack.   You get a nice apple whiff in the nose, the swirl has enticing color and the swallow is crisp green apple, followed by the rich Jack Daniel's Whiskey boldness in the finish.  This is a very well balanced blend of whiskey and apple, perfectly smooth, nicely done Jack!

Costing me about $14 for a 350ml bottle, this 70 proof offering is priced at the higher end of flavored whiskeys but it's well worth it and is most definitely a repeat buy.  In fact, it may have displaced Yukon Jack Jacapple as my favorite, I'm not sure yet, I may have to do a side-by-side taste test comparison.......

5 stars

$pend Wisely My Friends.....