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August 2017



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Eating Out Restaurant Reviews.

For the past two weekends B has taken me out to eat six times! And I haven't posted about it.

This past weekend we ate at Chili's, Tamarind, and TGI Friday's in Horseheads. The previous weekend we ate at Chili's, Ciao!, and Manos Diner.

We like Chili's. It's Tex-Mex, not real Mexican. But the ingredients are fresh and tasty. The food is good and we get a frequent guest card that gives us a free lunch if we buy six.

The previous Friday Kaaren joined us. I was late and they hadn't seen the fire truck in the parking lot or the fireman in the vestibule talking to the manager. During our meal the fire alarms went off and B was the ONLY person in the restaurant who stood up to leave. Everyone else just continued with their meal. I assumed it was another false alarm. (The previous one having summoned the fire truck before I arrived.) I also assumed that if there was an actual emergency the staff would ask us to leave. After a couple of unpleasant minutes of having to put up with the unpleasantly loud alarm it stopped and we finished our meal.

This past Friday we found out that Chili's has amended their free lunch card policy. The Card says that it is good for $9 toward the cost of another lunch. But their new policy is that the free lunch has to be one of the lunch specials on the back of the menu. That is a bit of a problem for B since there are few of the specials he can eat. But I usually order the bottomless soup and salad so if he keeps using the card he can use it to pay for my lunches and still save money. He ordered a vegetarian pizza from the lunch special menu. It was pizza. Not as good as the Pizza from Ciao! but few are.

We had tried to go to Ciao! before but they are always crowded (and loud). We finally got in. I had one of their 11" personal pizzas. That is a lot of pizza. Mine cost $12.95. That is a lot for an 11" pizza. But I have to say that Ciao's pizza is as close to the platonic ideal of a pizza that it is possible to make. B had the Eggplant Manicotte. He would recommend asking for the pasta on the side. Ciao! also has a vegetarian menu and a gluten-free menu. Ciao! has a lot of very good Italian dishes in addition to the gourmet pizzas. Check out their website for menus and pricing. They are actually pretty reasonable for the high quality of the food.

Manos Diner is a local diner. One of the few places open at 2 in the morning. Not great food but it is hard to do breakfast badly. I had a waffle. I love waffles and I don't own a waffle makers so I can't make them at home. The eggs are real eggs and the home fries are real home fries. I suspect that everything else comes out of cans, boxes, and bulk tubs. But there are not many places for a sit down breakfast with table service in Ithaca. If you don't want table service, the food at Ithaca Bakery is good and there are vegetarian options.

For dinner this past Friday B took me to Tamarind. I have never been there before. We had the Fresh Rolls and the Fried Tofu appetizers. I ordered the special, which was a duck with vegetables. It was a bit salty. I'm willing to eat there again. I love Thai food and they make good Thai food. It's a small place and was full by the time we left.

I almost forgot to mention the desert! We ordered the Tapioca with Black Beans. The hostess tried to warn us away from it because it isn't the sort of things most Americans like. But we liked it. It looked like a bowl of frog eggs with black beans which amused me. It was served hot and there was a dollop of sweetened condensed milk in the middle. The contrast in textures between the chewy tapioca and the soft beans was interesting. It wasn't like typical tapioca pudding because there was no pudding, just clear tapioca pearls and beans. There were a couple of other desert items I don't think I have ever had on the menu as well.

Saturday B wanted to go to TGI Friday. The closest TGI Friday is in Horseheads. We have eaten there before. This time we had the cutest gay waiter. He was adorable! I gave him one of my "Namaste" cards. We both ordered the "pick two for $10" special. I ordered the Green Bean Fries and B ordered the Spinach Florentine Flatbread. The Green Bean fries are only technically a vegetable. Being breaded and deep fried removes any possibility that they might be good for you. We both ordered the Sizzling Chicken & Spinach Bruschetta Chicken Pasta: Multi-grain angel hair pasta tossed in garlic, basil and Roma tomato marinara. Topped with tender strips of fire-grilled chicken breast. Finished with balsamic glaze and Parmesan shavings. I got B's Chicken. The food, and the service was good.

I hope to be trying "Friends & Pho" with Marilyn and Anne on Wednesday. I also just found out that there is a Korean restaurant on the Commons, Bibim Bap Korean Restaurant. I can't go to restaurants on the Commons because I can't walk that far. But they deliver! So I may be order some Korean food delivered some day.


I thought you were the one who said you wanted to go to Elmira for dinner on Saturday. I ordered the Bruschetta Chicken Pasta, with the pasta on the side.

The menu offered a "Two for $12" (appetizer and entree) deal, but it was on special that day for $10. I highly recommend that deal, as my entree alone was priced on the menu at $14. According to the waiter the entree was full-sized, meaning it costs less to get the appetizer and entree than the entree alone, with no reduction in sizes.
I was just pointing out that we didn't have to limit our choices to Ithaca. I suggested Red Lobster not really expecting that you would agree since there isn't much on their menu for you. You counter suggested TGI Fridays and I agreed because I liked it last time.

I couldn't find the description for the Bruschetta Chicken Pasta on the web site (I have found it now). The web site says that "Two for" Promotion is $12 at some locations and $10 at other locations.

We both ordered the same entree.

Edited at 2014-02-10 11:47 am (UTC)
I had not noticed that we ordered the same entree.

There were two "Two For..." promotions, one on the menu for $12, one for a different price that I forget. They had different lists for appetizers and entrees. Neither had the Florentine Pasta Piccata as an option (what I had last time), or I might have ordered that.

We should get a list of chains in Elmira/Horseheads and in Vestal/Binghamton, so we can consider different ones. In Elmira/Horseheads I've gone to TGIF, Olive Garden, and possibly Ruby Tuesday. I know Red Lobster, Outback, and others exist, but I don't know what the are offhand.
We went to Ruby Tuesdays in Elmira together. It was nice. It is in a mall and they have a salad bar.

Check out the menu for Red Lobster to see if they serve anything you can eat.

I haven't eaten at Outback in forever. It is a steak house. I was just looking around I found some good lists of restaurants. When I did a search of vegetarian options at chain restaurants someone said the worst chains for vegetarians were "Outback, Chili's, and Applebee's" :/

Eating Vegan at National Restaurant Chains has some good suggestions for each restaurant.

Vegetarian Restaurant poll

Lists of restaurants:
Elmira Restaurants
Cortland Restaurants
Binghamton Restaurants
Ithaca Restaurants

Uno's in Vestal sounds good.

We could go to the Spaghetti Warehouse Munch in Syracuse. I haven't been there in a while.

Cheesecake factory might be an option if we are willing to drive to Syracuse.

I have not been to Agava yet.
There's a Cheesecake Factory in Syracuse? Road Trip!

Or not. The last time I went to a Cheesecake Factory we almost didn't go. It was very crowded; not such a problem once we were seated, as the arrangement of booths did give a sense of privacy and isolation from the crowd, but we did have an hour wait to get seated (and they claim to not take reservations). There are benches to sit on, but it was a long wait. I suspect the tables are not as isolating as the booths, as well.

The Cheesecake Factory in Syracuse is brand new -- as in, opens tomorrow.

I haven't been to Spaghetti Warehouse in a long time, myself, but I'd be more interested in going elsewhen. Perhaps we could go to the Cheesecake Factory with Spaghetti Warehouse as a fall-back option.

Red Lobster: The salads, a couple of appetizers, some of the sides, and they can probably leave off the meat in the pasta alfredo. Let's save Red Lobster for when I more fully embrace pescetarianism.

Outback: Do I like pasta alfredo? Again, some sides, the pasta, some appetizers. And the menu is sooooo fake-Australian.

It's been a while for me and Uno's. My understanding is that they have changed their corporate focus in the past couple of years, changing the name from "Uno's Pizzaria" to "Uno's Grill" or somesuch. Maybe we can try them again sometime.

Didn't I take you guys to Uno's?

I know I've taken Zahde at least once. They have a good selection of salads and they have a glutin free menu too. The pizzas are the thing, and they're easy to keep vegetarian. They're pricey, more expensive then Applebees, but worth it for a nice meal out.

Re: Didn't I take you guys to Uno's?

I have a memory of going to the Unos in Vestal, but it's been a long time. I vaguely remember IDK being a picky eater, but that's hardly specific. I suspect Kevin was there, which would give a time-frame.

That was the last time I've been to any Unos, so there has been plenty of time for them to have revamped their menu. I do know that Unos is now styling themselves as "Uno Chicago Grill", which is not something I remember from any time I've gone.

Re: Didn't I take you guys to Uno's?

I remember eating there when Kevin was still with us. I sat next to IDK and he ordered the "make it yourself" kid's pizza. They brought him a partially cooked round of dough and little cups of pizza sauce and cheese so he could put them on himself before they cooked it. I had never seen that done in a restaurant before.

I didn't remember B being there or what he ate. I don't even remember what I ate. I think my attention was focused on IDK.
Chicken on the side, not pasta, chicken on the side.
My only problems with Chili's is that their portions are gigantic and their fries are a bit too salty. Their slightly spicy broccoli and cheese soup is yummy, though.
I don't think I've tried their fries. When you order the bottomless soup and salad you can ask for cups of soup instead of bowls. I tried all the soups.