Restaurant Review #6: Eat Well Sushi & Grill

Welcome to yet another ‘expanded review’. Whenever I post a review   ‘enhance’ it for my WordPress readership.  Let us begin!

The Setup

, and myself went to Eat Well to try out their buffet on Sunday. I do not think any of us had been since they had shut down and then reopened.

The Review

I used to love Eat Well. I really did. I was such a big fan of them in every way, from the giant fishtanks to the huge glasses of perfect sweet tea to the great sushi to the… well you get the point. Then, they closed… for a long time.

I actually did not even realize that they were back open, but I went with some friends to check them out last weekend. First, let’s talk about the good stuff: the sushi is pretty great. The key is, it’s fresh! I would not pick it over a dedicated super expensive sushi joint but for the price you cannot beat their wide selection and unlimited nom nom nom… sorry, got carried away. Seriously, though, I know that we were all pretty impressed with the sushi.

The fried shrimp was still great, the spicy pork was good, and the dessert cakes looked as good as ever. The waitress kept me with plenty of that delicious sweet tea too, so that was good. Then Stephen, you say, why not high marks then if the sushi, service, and tea were great?

Here is the problem: the hot items were not that great (except for a seafood dish, the shrimp, and the spicy pork). Also, about 1/5 of the buffet was tempura (where it used to have a lot more variety of foods available). That being said, I am not being critical. If everything was like that and the sushi, service, and tea were as good as they were, I would normally give four stars.

There were two major problem areas: one, the table smelled. It smelled like it had been wiped down with a dirty rag. This kind of puts one off the food. Worse than that, however, was the heat. It was hot in there, the air was on 80 and they said it was not working right.

I don’t mind eating while I sweat, as long as it’s from the spices! In this case, it was just hot. I don’t do hot. Not when I am eating, not when I am NOT eating. So, three stars because I am deducting one for cleanliness and comfort issues. I will probably be back.

Price: $$-$$$ (lunch is $13.99, dinner is $19.99)
Value: Subjective – If you love sushi, the value is great. If you like variety, mehhhhh
Service: 3/5 – Decent.
Decor:  I miss the fish tanks
Wow-factor: It’s still really big, but I miss my fish tanks
Overall: 3/5 – I would actually still recommend this place if you are going to pretty much stick to sushi. If not… give it a pass.

 

Restaurant Review #5: Mojo Cafe

Friends, the return of the Stephen O Show is at hand.  Today, we look at  Mojo Cafe. The owner/chef used to be one of the chefs at one of my favorite restaurants, Hog & Hominy. In addition to this pedigree, when I saw a couple of very impressive Yelp reviews for this place, I knew I had to go check it out ASAP. The menu looked amazing and though my GPS insisted it was in the middle of a bridge, I did eventually find it.

From the moment I walked in and smelled the aromas, I knew it was going to be a good experience. I have been there twice now, and can attest to the deliciousness of every single thing I have tried. The Mojo fries are covered with a sinfully succulent chorizo gravy, while remaining hot and crisp. I have had them twice, and they may be my favorite fry based appetizer in Memphis right now (sorry Hog and Hominy).

The Smoke on the Burger was a taste sensation! That cheddar cheese, those onions, that bacon! Amazing. Every single bite was a flavor explosion and I did not want it to end. To accompany it? Collards with kimchi, which was recommended to me by the owner and more than lived up to his description. Savory, a powerful punch of yum… just get it!

On my second visit I had the ‘Chef’s Sliders’. I honestly cannot tell you which is better: the sliders or that smoke on the burger. They are little flavor bombs and the tomato chutney goes perfectly with the chipotle aioli. Another thing about them? They were not overcooked. Sliders are often overcooked because they are so small, but these were cooked with a delicate hand. Pink in the center, juicy, I have nothing bad to say.

I was pleased to be able to try a new item: kimchi collard spring rolls with cilantro dipping sauce. WOW! This is probably my new favorite spring roll. That sauce just makes it, and as soon as they appear on the menu I will add them to my order.

The only thing I cannot review is the desserts. They look so good but I am always so full that I can’t try them. My mission next time is skip the Mojo Fries (though it pains my soul) and try the Elvis Dippers.

I want to add one more note: the staff were awesome. The lady at the counter was super helpful in selecting what to order and the owner/chef Steph was personable and super friendly. He really knows what he is doing back there, so go get a big dose of Mojo at Memphis Mojo Cafe!

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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!

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 #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!