Friday Tuna (Restaurant Review #5)

I am always looking for a good sushi spot. Friday Tuna was totally built out and yet completely closed for so long that I was starting to view it as the restaurant equivalent of “vaporware”. However, a couple weeks ago my friend told me that it was finally open so I had to check it out.

Walking in to Friday Tuna I was immediately impressed by the decor. It may not be up some people’s alley but I thought the decor was brilliant. Contemporary, super crisp and clean, it immediately sets you up for a positive experience. The service was absolutely exceptional and the hibachi area was spacious.

We opted to sit at a regular table (saving hibachi for next time) and I started out with an appetizer. It was this amazingly delicious stuffed jalapeno with seafood and… man. A great way to start the meal!

As I mentioned before, the service was great without being annoying. I opted to go full sushi for dinner and not only were the rolls exceptional they were delivered much more quickly than I anticipated. I had three rolls and they were all masterfully done. The rolls are more pricey than Sakura but I would say they are of a similar quality (seeing as that’s my favorite sushi joint, that is high praise from me).

I have to mention the sweet tea, it was great! All in all, my only complaint is that the sushi rolls are a bit high priced. That being said, they were of a quality that made the price understandable.

My second visit to Friday Tuna I came there for lunch with Kevin and we both had a really great experience. I got a ‘Bento Box’ lunch and for only $10 that includes two meats (I chose the ‘Bang Bang’ Chicken and the Teriyaki chicken), fried rice, slaw, a palate cleansing noodle salad, and I forget what else. Point is, it’s huge and economical. Now, of course I just had to have a Sushi roll as well but you don’t!

Kevin got the Teppanyaki (which is what you would call Hibachi) meal which also looked great. It was a big pile of fried rice and a big pile of protein (in his case, chicken), cooked on the hibachi grill.  He really liked it.

Price: $-$$$ (depending on whether lunch or dinner, and if you have sushi)
Value: Subjective – I would consider it high if you are getting a bento box or teppanyaki lunch special. If you are just getting sushi you may feel the value is lower since there are cheaper places to get sushi. That said, the sushi here at Friday tuna is very good
Service: 4/5 – Service is pretty great. Refills are fast. Sushi is quicker than you may be used to.
Decor: Extremely classy, just going into this place with the classical music and the decor, it just relaxes me.
Wow-factor: I would say that the wow factor of Friday Tuna is the variety of items on the menu (great variety!) and the awesome decor.
Overall: 4/5 – My current favorite asian restaurant!

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Restaurant Review #4: Cheddar’s Casual Cafe

Three cheers for chicken tenders and sweet tea! Look, Cheddar’s is not a fine dining restaurant. And yes, it is super busy. That being said, you need to go here for reasonable priced food and lots of it.

They have a superb lunch special (two items for $6, three for $7) which I really want to try, but I wanted to first experience several things on the menu. I am ready to talk about those things now.

First, lets get the negative out of the way. If I was just reviewing the service, it would be a worse review. It’s not that great right now. However, cut them some slack. It is a madhouse in there and I salute those servers for keeping a smile on their face when confronted with non-stop pandemonium.

Second, the burger did not blow my mind. But for only $5, I would say it is pretty good. The Montecristo is an experience, but let me recommend splitting it with someone. You can’t eat more than half of that thing without hating yourself or paying a heavy price (or both). It is a ham cheese and turkey sandwich in a batter (think funnel cake) and deep fried, covered in powdered sugar, and served with raspberry preserves. Yes it is as good AND as bad as that sounds. Again, split it with someone.

Third, the cheesesteak was merely ‘eh’. It wasn’t that great. The cheese sticks were also mediocre. Standard frozen fare in that regard.

NOW, on to the good stuff. The chicken tenders are AMAZING. They are huge, and for $6 you get four gigantic ones and some fries. You can also get them buffalo style (yes please). They are enough to eat AND take home. So, basically, two meals for six bucks. Man. I kid you not, they are so good. Probably the best chicken tenders I have had anywhere and I have had chicken tenders EVERYWHERE.

Also of note, the cheese fries! I get those everywhere too and at cheddar’s you get a HUGE portion for only $6. For the cost of a half portion at other places you get enough cheese fries for 6 people (easy). Absolutely tons of cheese and bacon, you cannot go wrong with this appetizer. Honorable mention to the potato skins, which are cooked perfectly but for me rank just below some other places.

So, if you go with some friends and you start off with cheese fries and then split a couple chicken tender baskets you will spend next to nothing and be totally full and satisfied. My highest recommendation. Also, the sweet tea is killer.

Price: $-$$ (this place is very economical)
Value: High – You get a ton for your money at Cheddar’s! See the last paragraph of my review.
Service: 3/5 – Service is a bit slow, but cut them some slack. They are super duper busy. It is worth putting up with the slow service!
Decor: Nothing to talk about
Overall: 4/5 – Can’t beat this place for inexpensive tasty food!

Takes a licking and… breaks

Review Type: Stuff
Reviewed: Thermos Sipp™ Water Hydration Bottle

This is an example of a review that would have been completely different if posted only a few hours ago. I am speaking of my Thermos SIPP bottle. It promised to keep hot things hot for 12 hours and cold things cold for 24. It very nearly lived up to those claims. This is was without a doubt the best thermos I ever had…

Double insulated, vacuum sealed, push button, carrying handle, it ticked all of the buttons. You put ice in it, ten hours later it still had ice in it. Unbelievable. Was it $24 and therefore kind of high for a thermos? Yes. Yes indeed. Was it worth every penny? No. Was it worth every penny before I smashed the dang thing on the ground accidentally? Yes. Am I really frustrated that I cannot just go to Target and get another one right now and pretend this never happened? …

Yes.

Get one of these thermoses. They are metal, slick, and they work. Don’t drop them on the ground. They aren’t the type of plastic (apparently) that can handle that. At all. Now only the two little elastic bands hold my lid on, and I am not confident of the seal. Oh, sad day. Sad day indeed. And yes, I am going to Target after work and I am getting another one. If Target doesn’t have them any more, I am sure my lamentations will be heard throughout my blogs tomorrow.

Efficiency: 5/5 (keeps hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold, for a LONG time)
Style: 5/5 (slickest thermos I have ever seen)
Ability to handle being dropped in a parking lot from maybe 3 feet in the air: 0/5 (the lid shatters)

Restaurant Review #3: Interim

I have been putting off this review for some time, mainly because I am torn on the amount of stars. I have decided I am giving it four stars because the experiences I have had there have been largely positive. They have great atmosphere, quality food, and good service.

The pork shank is absolutely delicious, though a mammoth portion that is quite intimidating to eat. My friend got it on my last visit (a birthday celebration) and she just stared at it, then me, wondering how to eat it. I have had it myself, and it is probably my second favorite item on the menu.

The duck at Interim is great. I should have gotten it. I knew that I would love it, and I have had it before, but this time I decided to get risotto. Oh, risotto. I blame this decision on the countless cooking shows (I am looking at you, Gordon Ramsay) I have watched featuring this dish.

The steak at Interim? Perfectly cooked and seasoned. Another entree I should have gotten. The risotto? Oh, risotto. It was creamy, yes, but it was… I do not want to say bland, because it wasn’t bland, but rather just lacking the punch of flavor that every other entree I have had at Interim has featured. Disappointed was I, and I would only give three stars if I was basing my review on that item alone.

Fortunately, I am not! The sides at Interim are great, the appetizers (such as the scallops) are succulent, and overall you cannot go wrong with dining there.

Just don’t get the risotto.

Price: $$$+ (you are probably spending $30+ per person)
Deliciousness: 4/5 – 
A 2 for the risotto.
Service: 4/5 – Excellent.
Decor: 3/5 – Nice understated decor.
Wow-factor: 3/5 – That pork shank is a thing to behold.
Overall: 4/5 – If you want to have a nice dining experience and you have some cash to spend, you would do well to go to Interim.

Restaurant Review #2: Rain Premier Sushi Bar & Bistro

Woe! Woe is me!

I have been meaning to review Rain for some time, but I had heard that it had really went downhill from several friends so I figured I would give it one more shot before I put my “pen to paper” as it were. I am extremely glad I waited, because this past visit to Rain really matched all I had been hearing.

I do not like doing negative reviews, but I assure you that this is a (summarized) factual account of my recent visit. Kevin and I showed up on a Friday night and the place was a ghost town. There were maybe four tables in the entire restaurant. This is a big red flag, but we were able to get one of the tables with the cushy chairs so I figured hey lets just go with this.

First, the service was poor. I think our server was doing his best, but the entire experience was a comedy of errors. First, our drink order came out wrong. Second, he put our sushi in as one seat, so it came out on one big plate. This is unacceptable, because Kevin hates spicy food. So, it was a big deal (and took over ten minutes) to get our food separated out. I could hear the argument behind the sushi bar about “well you have to put it in separately if you want it to come out separately”.

Once we received our food, I was missing some of the food I had ordered. Turns out, one of the sushi rolls I ordered was never put into the computer. Once it did come out, and we began to eat, we discovered that the sushi was bland and tasteless. All in all, a thoroughly disappointing experience. Another one onto the ban list, and its sad because Rain used to be overpriced but delicious. Now it’s just overpriced.

Price: $$$+ (you are probably spending $30+ per person)
Deliciousness: 1/5 – 
Bland, unexciting food that tasted like… nothing
Service: 1/5 – Horrible. Just absolutely horrible. I did still tip well of course! No excuse for not tipping.
Decor: 3/5 – The Decor in rain is cool, I liked looking at the fish. One of them glowed in the black light. The shining star in the bleak experience, as it were.
Wow-factor: N/A Hahahahaah no.
Overall: 1/5 – If you want Sushi, allow me to point you to Sakura in Germantown. That place is the bomb. Sekisui is also a fine choice, and many people love Osaka.

Restaurant Review #1: Chorizo

I recently went on vacation to Asheville/ Lake Lure, NC with Kevin and his parents. While there, we took in a few restaurants. The inaugural review on the Stephen O Show is of one of these restaurants.

Restaurant Name: Chorizo
Type: Sit-Down
Genre:
 Latin
Meal: Dinner 

We took a walking eating tour of downtown Asheville called “Eating Asheville”. It was awesome. One of the places mentioned (but not visited) was “Chorizo”. Later on that evening, we decided to try it out. A Latin restaurant, it was cozy inside with really good service.

I would like to tell you what I had, but I honestly cannot remember what it was called. It was this huge bowl of salmon, mussels, pineapple, and this unbelievably tasty broth. It came with some accouterments such as tortillas, etc, but I had no idea how to eat it. In the end I just about drank the broth, but was unable to finish this delicious behemoth of a meal.

I can also mention that my friend had the Paella and he said it was amazing. For dessert I had this powerful coffee concoction and a dense chocolate mousse pie. Let me just say this: the service was legit and the food was great.

Price: $$-$$$ (between $10-30 pp)
Deliciousness: 4/5 – 
This was not mexican food (which is delicious, mind you), it was Latin food! It was new and exciting and not the kind of thing I get to eat very often.
Service: 4/5 – I really don’t have anything bad to say about the service, it was quality.
Decor: 3/5 – Honestly I don’t remember it, except that it was decent. I was too focused on the food!
Wow-factor: 4/5 – This place had that special something. i recommend it without reservation.
Overall: 4/5 – If you are in downtown Asheville, you really should check out Chorizo!

MoviePass

Friends, I am here to review something unusual: a service. I mean, I do say that I review everything, so I guess this falls under my expansive umbrella. I want to talk to you about MoviePass , which is a new (beta) service that promises “Unlimited” movies in theaters for a flat fee every month.

Let me tell you that I have waited since I was a teenager for such a thing, and have often lamented that it did not exist. I would love to see more movies than just those I am 90% sure that I will like. I would like to do that if for no other reason than to be able to review more movies. To take “risks” without spending a boatload of cash.

When I joined the waiting list for this Beta service (that started in San Francisco in 2011 I believe), I had no confidence that it would ever be successful or (even if it did) make its way to Memphis. I then heard that it had lost a court case, and that it was no more. However, this information was incomplete and partially incorrect!

I got an email in my inbox today announcing that MoviePass was in Memphis, and I was exclusively invited to join. Imagine my excitement! However, I am an adult now and I have learned that when something seems too good to be true,  then it probably is too good to be true.  So, I did some research.

The way MoviePass works is: 1) they send you a debit card (its technically a Discover card, and yes it is accepted at Malco), 2) you go to theater (you cannot buy tickets in advance), 3) you check in on iOS or Android app to the theater AND movie/showtime you want to see, 4) you use the MoviePass card at the kiosk OR theater counter.  This is the compromise  that they worked out with the theater chains for this, the third iteration of their service.

This in itself was not a deal-breaker for me, so I checked for further conditions. I then learned that “Unlimited” is kind of a misnomer. You can buy one (1) ticket per day. Ok, that’s not too bad. I can count on one hand the amount of times in my life I have seen two movies or more in a single day. So, I was ready to buy! The cost varies per market, from $29.99 per month to $39.00 per month. That is basically four movies, and the commitment (just for the first year) is annual (though you pay monthly).  I would be willing to try it for a year, just to see how it is.

That being said, I had one more question. I contacted chat support, and asked the key question: Can you go see a movie more than once?  Their answer? NO. This is ridiculous. Case closed. So you can see one movie a day, but each movie ONLY once? First, not only are there not that many quality movies released per month, there are rarely that many movies released in a month PERIOD. This “Unlimited” moniker goes from being a “sort of” truth to being a patent falsehood.

Stephen says? Pass on MoviePass

Further Thoughts: This is stupid. I can take all the other limitations and rules, but the inability to see a movie more than once makes this service not worth it for me. Maybe if Hollywood was cranking out multiple quality movies a week, but that just isn’t often the case. I probably see about 2 movies a month on average (when you factor in summer, when I see much more than any other time of year), and with this stupid rule it would just not be a good investment.

I am interested in your thoughts! Hit me up in the comments below