Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mario's Pizza and Italian Restaurant: 9/3/13

Typically when I go to Mario's Pizza and Italian Restaurant (called Mario's for short) I get a sub of some kind because they are huge and very tasty, but for this visit I decided to try the chicken tenders and write a review. Madison and I decided to go to Mario's because he wanted a sub and I wanted some garlic knots (they are delicious and you have to have at least one basket). So here is my opinion on the chicken tenders at Mario's.

The logo for Mario's Pizza and Italian Restaurant is very simple.

Batter and crispiness: A
-The batter on these tenders was very thick, which is usually a negative but in this case I thoroughly enjoyed it. The batter was seasoned wonderfully and the tenders were quite crispy.

Tenderness and juiciness of chicken: B
-The chicken in these tenders was surprisingly tender and juicy considering that Mario's is known for its Italian food. However, when compared to other restaurants that serve chicken tenders, these tenders were not impressive in this category.

Portion size/presentation: C-
-As the description says, with this meal you get 3 chicken tenders and about four handfuls of fries. While this was a filling meal, I think there should have been an extra tender and less fries. 

Reheating: N/A
-I could not reheat this meal because it was on the small side and I ate it all at Mario's.

Side: C
-The fries at Mario's were just average. While they were crispy (a plus) and obviously hand-cut (another plus), they did not have much flavor.

-Fingers and fries combo (3 fingers and fries)......$7.50
Here is my chicken tender dinner from Mario's.

Overall I would give the chicken tenders at Mario's Pizza and Italian Restaurant a C+. The portion size was slightly below average, the side was average, and the batter and tenderness of the chicken were above average. There was nothing special about this meal, but I would get it again, just not very often because Mario's Pizza and Italian Restaurant does so many other dishes so well. 


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Char Bar 7: 8/28/13

Hello blogging world,

Sorry for the long delay, but my world has been pretty crazy in the last few months. I recently started a new job and just got done with 4 different trips. The good news is that since my last posts I have been enjoying some chicken tenders, so I hope you enjoy reading these posts.

The first restaurant I will review is Char Bar 7. Char Bar 7 is known for its delicious burgers (I am a huge fan of its Leap Year Burger, which has an over medium egg on it), but there are other dishes as well. So one day for dinner Madison and I went there and I decided to give the chicken tenders a try because I had never had them before.

Here's Char Bar 7's logo.

Batter and crispiness: C-

-The batter on these chicken tenders as very light and crispy, which I liked, but I was not a big fan of the seasoning. The tenders are coated with a beer batter, but unlike most beer batters, these tenders tasted bitter. Originally I was going to give this category a B-, but the more I ate the tenders, the less I liked them.

Tenderness and juiciness of chicken: A+
-These tenders definitely rank pretty high on the list for the most tender and juicy chicken tenders in Charlotte. I had no complaints when it came to this category. The chicken tenders were very tender and moist.

Portion size/presentation: B
-I thought the portion size was slightly above average because you got 5 pretty big chicken tenders and 2 big handfuls of fries.

Reheating: B
-I gave this category a B because the fries were still crispy and the slight bitter taste was still present, but not as strong as it originally was. Additionally, the tenders were still juicy, but not as crispy...which is to be expected.

Side: B
-When it comes to the french fries at Char Bar 7, I gave them a B because they were crispy and a good size, but they just did not have enough seasoning on them and were kind of bland as a result.

-Chicken tender basket - $9.75 - Hand battered & served with your choice of bbq or honey mustard and one side. 
My chicken tender dinner at Char Bar 7. Btw, that brownish sauce by the ranch is their homemade sauce. I was not a fan, but you should try it.

Overall I would give the chicken tenders at Char Bar 7 a B-. Originally I wanted to give these tenders a higher score (because I love the restaurant so much), but ultimately I decided this was a fair grade. While there were some aspects that were great (the tenderness and juiciness of the chicken), there were other aspects that were disappointing (the batter specifically). In conclusion, I will definitely go back to Char Bar 7, but it will probably be a while before getting the chicken tenders again. It is not that I regret getting them, but it is so hard for me to not get the Leap Year Burger because it is absolutely fantastic! You should definitely check this place out, if not for the chicken tenders than definitely for the burgers.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

WC’s Hot Spot Café (in Water Country USA): 8/10/13

It’s time for another special posting of my chicken tender blog from Richmond, Virginia! Only this time was not a planned chicken tender post, Alex and I just happened to find chicken tenders at our destination for the day.
For those of you who don’t know, this past weekend (8/9-8/12) I visited my friend Alex in Richmond, Virginia (you may remember him from my post of Tenders back in January). Well after a leisurely day on Friday, he decided that we should do something more exciting and so Alex, Johnny (his boyfriend), and I went to Water Country USA, Virginia’s largest water park! There we spent the whole day riding all sorts of water slides, lazing around on the lazy river and the Hubba Hubba Highway (a lazy river where you wear life vests to float instead of use inner tubes), and just having fun being with each other. While we were at Water Country USA we were able to find a place called WC’s Hot Spot Café where I could get my chicken tenders and critic them for this blog. Below is my review of said chicken tenders

The view of WC's The Hot Spot from our lunch spot.

Batter and crispiness: C+
-I gave this section a C+ because there was too much breading on these tenders (I would say the amount of breading doubled the amount of chicken in each tender), but the seasoning used in the batter had a nice, peppery taste, which I very much enjoyed. When evaluating the crispiness, I was conflicted on a grade because while the tenders were crispy in parts, they were also soggy. It was as if they just were not cooked long enough.

Tenderness and juiciness of chicken: C+
-The actual chicken in the tenders was not great quality and it was a little dry (what little chicken there was…they kind of skimped on the chicken). I wish the chicken was prepared better, but you cannot expect much from an amusement park.

Portion size/presentation: C
-I gave this section a C because I felt it was the expected size for the price of a chicken tender meal at an amusement park. Truth be told, if I had received this same meal at an actual restaurant I would have been pretty upset. This meal consisted of 5 small chicken tenders and a little, high school cafeteria style, portion of fries. Now the fries where big which I usually like, but in this case that was probably a negative because it made the portion size look even smaller.

Reheating: N/A
-Unfortunately I could not take these chicken tenders back to reheat because I had them for lunch at the water park and we were planning on spending a few more hours there. However, even though I was unable to take this meal home because of the timing, I do not think there would have been enough to take back anyways.

Side: A-
-While the portion size of the fries was rather small, I actually did like the taste and texture of them. From the first bite it was clear that they were cooked in some sort of fat based product because you could taste the fat and see the grease of the fries (some people consider this cooking method to be a negative, but I actual like the taste…just not all of the grease, which knocked this category down a notch). Two of the things I really enjoyed about the fries were the crispiness of them and the amount of saltiness. Now, if you are reading this post then you have probably read some of my other ones and you know how much I love salt…well Hot Spot does a great job with its seasoning of salt.

-Chicken strips with French fries - $8.29, drink - $2.99

Here is my chicken tender meal!

Overall I would give the chicken tenders at Water Country USA a C/C+. There was nothing terribly wrong about the tenders, but at the same time there was nothing spectacular about them either. While I liked the tenders I felt as though I was ripped off (which is common for amusement parks) because there was not much chicken to the actual tenders and the portion size did not match the price (especially when you added the drink into the equation). However, I would say that in terms of taste, this meal was slightly above average for standard amusement park food. In conclusion, if I ever happen to be at Water Country USA again then I will probably order the chicken tender meal again because it kept me full for most of the afternoon (I got hungry on our way home) and the tenders tasted good.

Well there you have it, my second (and final) chicken tender post from restaurants in Richmond, Virginia. I hope you enjoyed these special edition posts and look out next time for a new tender locale in Charlotte, North Carolina (the home base of Love Me Tenders).


Ukrop’s Café (in Martin’s): 8/9/13

Hello blogging world!

This is a special edition of my blog and it is about a restaurant in Richmond, Virginia! This past weekend (8/9-8/12) I went to Richmond to visit Alex, one of my best friends, and we decided that I should do a blog post about chicken tenders in Richmond. The week before I was set to visit Alex raked his brain for restaurants in Richmond that served fantastic chicken tenders, but he could not think of anything. Finally he mentioned this “quest” to his mom and one of his brothers, Christopher, and together they decided on Ukrop’s Café, which is a café located in Martin’s (a local grocery store).

So when I arrived on Friday morning Alex informed me that they plan was to have chicken tenders from Ukrop’s Café for dinner, and I was totally on board with that plan. Since I got in around 9 am that morning, Alex thought it would be best if we had a relaxing day of shopping, relaxing by the pool, and just hanging out. After a stress-free afternoon we then headed to Ukrop’s for dinner. Just so y’all get a feel for the café let me set up how it works. You walk into Martin’s, go to the Ukrop’s Café hot food counter, order your meal that is put into a to-go box, then go to the register to pay, and then you can either take your meal home or sit in the dining area to enjoy it…I thought I would describe so y’all could get a feel for the dining experience at Ukrop’s Café.

Since Ukrop's Cafe is in Martin's (a local grocery store) I put a picture of the chicken here instead of the restaurant so you could see a tender's size.

Batter and crispiness: A
-The batter on the chicken tenders from Ukrop’s Café was delicious. It was light, crunch, and had lots of flavor. It also had just the right amount of seasoning on both the chicken meat and in the batter so that they complimented each other nicely.

Tenderness and juiciness of chicken: B+
-These tenders were quite tender and the chicken used was great quality. The only reason I gave this category a B+ was because the tenders were not as juicy as some of the other ones I have reviewed for this blog. However, if you do not eat chicken tenders on a regular basis (such as Alex who only eats them with me), then they will seem very juicy to you.

Portion size/presentation: A+
-This was easily the best portion size for the money of any chicken tender meal I have had since writing this blog. The café worker (I cannot come up with a better term for her) who gave us our food, was very generous with our portion sizes – Alex said they always give you a lot of food – gave us both some of the largest chicken tenders in the bunch and lots of potato wedges. I was definitely impressed.

As a side note, if you do not want potato wedges as your side Ukrop’s Café offers other side options such as macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and potato salad.

Reheating: A
-This meal reheated very well. The chicken tenders tasted almost exactly like they did when I originally had them, only slightly soggier (which is to be expected).

Side: B
-First let me start with what I liked about the sides…the roll. I do not know if I have shared this with y’all, but I LOVE bread and I am very picky about breads, but the roll I had with my dinner was amazing! It was light and fluffy and just overall delicious (as I told Alex, I could have eaten 6 of those). I am not sure how best to explain it…you just have to try it for yourself. With that said, I was slightly disappointed with the other side, the potato wedges. For me they were a little hard and undercooked, but they were seasoned well. If I were scoring each of the sides individually I would have given the roll an A+ and the potato wedges a C+, so they balance out into a B in my book since the potato wedges are more substantial than the roll.

-Chicken tenders, one side and a roll. 3 pieces $3.99, 6-pieces $5.99

My wonderful and very filling meal from Ukrop's Cafe.

Overall I would give the chicken tenders at Ukrop’s Café a B+/A-. The meal was very filling (the 6-piece meal is definitely enough for 2 meals), the batter was great, and the price was phenomenal! The only negatives of the meal were the slightly undercooked potato wedges and I wish the chicken were a little more juicy. I never would have guessed eaten at Ukrop’s Café if Alex had not suggested it and I am glad that I did.

And there you have it, my review of the chicken tenders from Ukrop’s Café in Martin’s! If you are ever in the Richmond area you should definitely stop by Ukrop’s Café for some chicken tenders!


Ivy Burger Co: 7/23/13

Since the weather has been nice some of my coworkers and I have taken to eating outside and enjoying the summer sun. On one of these such days I decided to try out Ivy Burger Co (a relatively new restaurant) which is across the street and down a block from the Hearst Tower. At first I was going to get a burger, but then I saw that they had chicken tenders, so I thought this was perfect!  
 I couldn't find a picture of the actual sign (and I did not have my phone with me at the time).

Batter and crispiness: C
-I was disappointed in the batter because while it was light, the seasoning was nothing special and it was easily forgettable.

Tenderness and juiciness of chicken: B-
-These chicken tenders were very tender, but where just moderately juicy. They were also tough in parts, but overall I enjoyed them, hence the slightly above average rating.

Portion size/presentation: C
-Considering the relatively low price ($5.99) this was about an average size to price ratio. In the meal you get 5 small chicken tenders and a small to medium fry. I cannot complain too much about the size of the meal because I was full after lunch.

Reheating: F
-These chicken tenders reheated so poorly that I could not eat them. I tried to eat parts of both tenders that I saved, but the chicken was hard and inedible. Therefore this category gets an F.

Sides: A-
-While I was kinda disappointed with the actual chicken tenders, I was pleasantly surprised with the french fries. They were very greasy (which I did not mind), seasoned well, and very crispy. Oh and I almost forgot! The meal also comes with Ivy Burger's own version of Texas toast which is so good because it's crispy with the perfect amount of butter and seasoning! I might consider going back to Ivy Burgers just for the fries and Texas toast.

-Chicken tenders and fries and bread. - $5.99

My chicken tender meal, sorry it is hard to see.
Overall I would give this meal a D+ because while the portion size was small, the tenders did not reheat at all, and the batter was average, the chicken was tender and the fries were very tasty. With that said, I do not think I will eat at Ivy Burgers again. I do not know if this was just an off day for the restaurant or what, but it was not worth the price (especially considering that their soda machine was down and the only thing you could get to drink was unsweet tea without ice).


Hubee D’s: 7/17/13

Sorry for such a delay in posting. I have been very busy moving, traveling, and now I am actually going to be switching positions at my job, so I have been busy training for that as well. The good news is that I have some a backlog of chicken tender posts that I know you have been patiently waiting to read. Here is the first one.

After work on Wednesday, July 17th I met Madison for dinner at this place near my work called Hubee D’s. I found Hubee D’s through when I was looking for new places to try chicken tenders. The place got pretty good ratings, so I decided to invite Madison to try it out.
Here's the logo for Hubee D's.

Batter and crispiness: B
-I thoroughly enjoyed the batter of the tenders because it was light yet surprisingly crunchy the tenders are obviously cooked to order. My only complaints in regards to the batter is that it flakes off when you bite into it and the batter was a little spicy, which I do not usually like because I do not like spicy dishes…especially if they are not advertised as such. Other than that, the tenders were very tasty.

Tenderness and juiciness of chicken: A+
-I gave this category a perfect score because the chicken tenders were overly juicy…just like with the ones I got from Flip n’ Chicken months ago, you could see the juiciness! Also, the tenders were very tender as a result of the overt juiciness.

Portion size/presentation: B-
-I liked the presentation of the meal because it was very low key…as you can see in the picture below. I felt like the portion size was good for the price because even though you only got 4 tenders, they were big and very filling. I was even able to save 2 for lunch the next day!

Reheating: F
-I was very disappointed when I reheated these tenders because they were inedible and I had to throw everything (fries included) away. Good thing I always keep snacks at my desk at work!

Side: C-
-When it came to the french fries I was disappointed because I thought they were going to be very tasty from just the look of them. However, the fries turned out to be very bland. The positives of the fries were that they were crispy, shoestring-esque style (I love shoestring fries), and the skin was on them. But overall I was not a fan of the french fries.

-No 1: Crispy Tenders – large (4 tenders) with fries $6.79. There is also an option of a basket which includes hand-cut fries, coleslaw, and cornbread, but I do not like coleslaw or cornbread so I passed on those.

Look at how big the tenders are and the fries do not look shoestring-esque, but trust me...they are.

Overall I would give these chicken tenders a B-. The grade would have been higher – probably a B/B+ if they would have been graded independently of this blog – but when comparing these tenders to other ones I felt they deserved a lesser grade because they do not reheat at all. That is the main reason for the difference in the grades. When looking back on the meal it was very satisfying for dinner and I would really have liked to try them for lunch because I enjoyed the batter and tenderness of the tenders.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

LongHorn Steakhouse: 7/10/13

Before Wednesday, July 10th I had not been to LongHorn Steakhouse in at least 4 years. I am not a huge steak fan, but when I am in the mood we usually cook out at my mom’s house or we go to Outback Steakhouse, so I really did not know what to expect from LongHorn. The reason I went again is because I decided that I want to get involved with the Animal Adoption League (a local animal foster/adoption program) in Charlotte and this is the location of their monthly meeting. I heard about the Animal Adoption League shortly after I moved into my apartment and I actually adopted my cat Fritz from the center back in October. So I was very excited to give back to such a great organization and do something new…I love trying new things

Here is the logo for LongHorn Steakhouse
Batter and crispiness: A+
-The seasoning on these tenders was excellent. The batter was light, fluffy, and crispy all at the same time. I wish all chicken tenders could be seasoned this well.

Tenderness and juiciness: A
-Not only was I very impressed with the batter of the tenders, but I was also impressed with the quality of the chicken used in them. The chicken was very tender (no toughness whatsoever) and it was quite juicy.

Portion Size/Presentation: B-
-In my opinion this meal was a little on the pricy side for chicken tenders, but it was a decent value for the amount of food that you got. For $13.95 you get 8 chicken tenders, 6-8 handfuls of fries, and another side of your choosing (I chose soup for an upgrade of $2.49). This meal was very filling and I definitely could not eat it in one sitting.

Reheating: B
-The meal reheated fairly well. The tenders were still slightly crispy and the fries were not soggy. It tasted pretty close to the original meal except that the chicken meat was tougher and the batter fell off the tenders.

Side: C
-The fries were big and crispy, but they had little to no seasoning. They kind of reminded me of the frozen fries you buy at the grocery store.
-Fresh chicken tenders - Hand-battered fresh chicken tenders. Served with Honey Mustard and 2 sides. $13.95

Here is my meal! Sorry it is kinda dark.

Overall I would give the chicken tenders at LongHorn Steakhouse a B-/B. The batter was done really well as was the chicken. The downsides the sides, the price of the meal, and the reheating aspect. While none of these categories were horrible, they definitely brought down the overall score of the meal. However, I was impressed with the meal as a whole considering the restaurant is a steakhouse, so I have to give it props and I would come back for their chicken tenders...just not very often considering the price.