Saturday, February 28, 2009

Shish Kebab House has FINALLY opened their new location!

(Pardon the picture quality. Low-light and the camera on my BlackBerry don't mix well.)

I decided to drive by Shish's new location today and they had the Grand Opening sign up and the Open sign lit. I went in and ordered a small hummus to go for Tara, as she was enjoying a rest day at home. I talked to the owner and he said they've been open four or five weeks now. The menu is the same as it was at their old location and from what I can tell prices are the same as well.

The new interior looks really nice. It's definitely different than the old location. Only the table and chairs are the same. I was there at about 5pm and there were three or four groups and more arrived while I waited. The hummus tasted the same as it used to, so that's a good sign. We'll probably go back in a few weeks for full meal.

One thing I did notice is there appear to be some waitstaff issues. They are obviously still training and the owner had some semi-harsh words to one of the waitresses while I was waiting. Service has been a recurring issue there for us, but we tend to overlook that because we like the food so much.

The new address is 5158 W. Olive Ave, Glendale, AZ 623-937-8757

Saturday, February 21, 2009

You serve customers with that mouth?

I like to swear. Despite my parents raising me to be a good boy, I can have quite the potty mouth. My grandfather was the real-life inspiration for the Old Man in "A Christmas Story". Well, not actually, but he certainly could have been the dialogue coach on the NC-17 version. If you'd ever heard him, you'd understand. As creative as I can be, I'm still in awe of some of his Richard Pryor/Eddie Murphy/Dennis Leary levels of cursing. We'd have to leave the area because we didn't want to start laughing in front of him.

Anyways, I know there are times to be polite and watch myself. There's a reason I ALWAYS stay on mute during conference calls. Once bitten and all that.

So today I decided to try a different place for Vietnamese food. Tara was off enjoying a girls' day out with some friends, so I was on my own. Traditionally, that means Vietnamese cuisine, her least favorite of my favorites. I decided to try Tudo Vietnamese Restaurant on the SW corner of Northern and 19th Ave.

There were only a couple of other parties when I arrived and I was told I could sit anywhere. The youngish girl who was hostess/waitress/front room person brought me a menu and took my drink order. It's a typical seen better days type of Vietnamese place. Half the space is tables, the other half has a large stage for either bands or karoke.

I ordered fried egg rolls and bun (a bowl of noodles, veggies, and meat) with grilled pork. A little later, my egg rolls came out. Very darkly fried, like the oil was too hot or dirty. They tasted good, though, and reminded me a bit of the ones I had at a Vietnamese friend's house once, only not quite as good. My bun came and had pieces of egg rolls as well as pork, so I thought they gave me the wrong thing. However, when filling up my water, the waitress said they added them since they knew I must like them. A nice touch, as I can eat egg rolls like that all day. The bun was good as well, but nothing special. Avina's and Davang have nothing to fear.

As I was nearly finished, the waitress answered a phone. She spoke in Vietnamese for a while and would shift to English too. She hung up. The phone rang again, picked it up, and she started nearly shouting "What the F&*K is his problem" into the phone, over and over. Eventually a "motherf***er" was thrown in for good measure. Mind you, she's standing behind the counter and CLEARLY audible throughout the restaurant. I was the only customer at that point, so the others missed Little Miss Gangsta Mouth's performance. An older gentleman wandered into the seating area from the kitchen with a bowl of noodles and sat down to eat, blissfully ignoring the girl's tirade.

I can't imagine what would have happened if a group with kids had been in there. And I can't really recommend anyone with children go there. The food was ok, but that kind of extended blue streak isn't fit for a family restaurant. I won't be returning. Avina's always has good service and very friendly staff. Davang, well, it's typical competent but surly Vietnamese service, but at least they don't do this type of outburst.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bye Bye Bill's

My brother, who has only called me once EVER and that was a drunk dial a few weeks ago, called me around 7:30 last night. That's 9:30 in Maine, so I was somewhat worried. It didn't start off well. He said he had some really bad news. My stomach clenched, as all of my family is in our small town there. He asked a couple times if I was ready. I said yes.

"Bill's has closed."

While not quite as bad as a family member passing away, Bill's Sandwich Shop (or Bill's Pizza) in Yarmouth, ME, has been an icon for our family for over 30 years. My first memory of it was during a Sunday drive decades ago. I'm not sure if I was even 10 yet. We saw a small sandwich shop along the road and stopped in. All I remember is one of us ordered a crabmeat rolls and instead of the roll being in a hotdog bun, it was on a full-sized italian roll. Pure crabmeat, mayo, salt and pepper, lay atop some lettuce on the roll. And it was beyond over-stuffed. We are all in awe. It was like unwrapping a bar of gold. Trumpets sounded, a heavenly light shone, and all of us were awestruck. Picture Ralphie getting his air rifle for Christmas. From that day, Bill's was a frequent stop whenever we went drove by on the highway. We'd go out of our way to stop in if we were even remotely near Freeport. Dad would drive to Portland for something and he bring home a couple crabmeat rolls so we could share. No place we ever found had anything to compare with Bill's.

But their crabmeat roll wasn't all they had. My brother doesn't eat seafood and he'd always get a Zappa. Cappicola, cheese, and spicy hot mustard. Bill's was one of those shops that has dozens of custom subs with wacky names. I don't know of any place like it in Phoenix or most places I've lived. During college, I'd ALWAYS grab a sandwich on my way by, be it coming or going. When college friends came up for the weekend with me, we'd stop in. To this day, some of them still ask about Bill's. My answer had always been the same: "They are still there and the crabmeat rolls are as good as ever."

Sadly, I now need a new answer.