Sunday, October 14, 2007

Jalapeno is so authentic, you will expect your change in pesos

I love Mexican food. I would eat it probably 75% of the time if my wife would let me. She gets sooooo made, and says no more "sh*t in a shell!". However, I do get her to go with me to a Mexican restaurant from time to time.

One of my favorites is Jalapeno's (there are three locations, but we go to the one on College Parkway). Their tag line is "so authentic, you will expect your change in peso's!" It is so true! I have been several times, but I have to say this past Saturday must have been an off night for them. Ok, more about that in a moment. First things first.

Location Information
7381 College Pkwy
Fort Myers, FL 33907
(239) 931-1005
Google Map

Upon entering, you are greeted by a host/hostess ready to either place you on the list, or take you directly to your seat, depending on how busy the were. We got there early, so we were taken straight to our seats. Within 10 seconds of sitting down, a magnificant basket of homemade tortilla chips and two types of salsa appear on our table. The salsas are home made, and it shows. None of that soupy, tomato paste looking goop, but fresh vegetables, chopped fine. I love the hot sauce that comes with it as well. There is something about it I just cannot put my finger one.

Very soon after the chips and salsa appeared, as if by magic, our very attentive waiter was there asking about our drink order. He took our order and asked to be excused, so he could go and help the other waiters sing happy birthday to an older woman. Upon his return my comrade and I decided we would order the Pollo Santa Ana (chicken breast in marinated mushrooms, spinach, shrimp and cheese), and the Carna Asada burrito (marinated steak burrito) respectively.

Now, my comrade said her meal was incredibly delicious. However, I have to say, the cook must have been having an off night. My beans had a burnt taste to them (my comrade's beans were actually quite tasty). Also, my steak had several extremely grisly pieces. I was very surprised. Usually, the food at Jalapeno's is good. I will give them another chance, however since they seem to be raising their prices, you would expect the food to have the same caliber as I have previously enjoyed.

All and all on the Hillbilly scale, the Jalapeno's has the following rating:
  1. Service: 4 out of 5. The waiter was great, my only concern was getting the refills.
  2. Food Quality: 2 out of 5. The food was not up to snuff from previous visits.
  3. Expectation of the cliental: 4 out of 5. It was a nice mix of people and all were well mannered. I particularly liked the singer, although he was a some what loud.
That gives Jalapeno's a 3.334 out of 5 on the Hill Billy Scale. Check it out at least once and let me know your thoughts. I would love it if this restaurant was kept up. It is one of my favorites.


The Love Boat... soon you will be making another run

Welcome to the Love Boat... Ice cream that is. A staple on San Carlos Blvd heading towards Fort Myers Beach, the Love Boat has made friends old and new each season. Having passed by this lovely blue buildings many times on my way to the beach or Lovers Key, I finally decided to stop on our way home this past Saturday.

Location Information:

16229 San Carlos Blvd
Fort Myers, FL 33908
(239) 466-7707
Google Map

Now upon entering the establishment, I noticed that the inside tables were full, with patrons ranging from little children to the elderly. I mean, come on, who doesn't like ice cream? Also, with at least three dozen HOMEMADE choices, there has to be something for everyone (SUGAR FREE too, for those of you watching your waist lines, or being of the diabetic persuasion, made with Aspartame/Nutrasweet).

My comrade and I opted to get a child's portion (two small dips that amounted to around a cup). I had the Cinnamon Carmel Pecan and the Yellow Fudge Cake. Nothing was sweeter. The Cinnamon Carmel Pecan was good, but Yellow Fudge Cake was out of the ball park. BATTER BATTER BATTER SWING! And that yellow cake batter (if there was really some in it), was great.

My comrade on the other hand, had two traditional favorites, the Rum Raisin, and Cookies-n-Cream. Her take on the Cookies-n-Cream was definitely "creamy", but her favorite was the Rum Raison. Unlike some other places, you get just a sweet cream taste, with pockets of "rum" flavor. Not at the "Boat"! It was "Rummy" through out.

As something new for the blog entries, I will be including our total check: $4+$1 tip for 2 child portions.

All and all on the Hillbilly scale, the Love Boat Ice Cream has the following rating:
  1. Service: 4 out of 5. The young girl at the counter was a-typical high schooler. Especially the "huh" when I ask the question about how the sugar free ice cream was made. However, she was pleasant enough to talk to when checking out and made suggestions about the children's sizes.
  2. Food Quality: 5 out of 5. Best local ice cream I have had thus far!
  3. Expectation of the cliental: 5 out of 5. I didn't expect much from ice cream patrons, but the children were well behaved and there was not any geriatric handicap parking duels.
That gives the Love Boat a 4.667 on the Hill Billy Scale. If you are passing by on your way to the beach, stop in and have dip.

Until we eat again,


Bar Louie (Louie, oh baby, me gotta go)

Friday Night and at Bar Louie (and yes, the song keeps running through my addled brain, especially after sampling some of their draft beers), I found myself not feeling that I am in the old Edison Mall, but in a some new chic establishment downtown, or in an Orlando TINKish hot spot (TINK - Two Incomes, No Kids).

Location information:
4125 Cleveland Ave.
Suite 1100A
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Google Map

The first thing you notice when you belly up to the bar, are all the beer taps. No less than forty on tap. The good part, are half priced appetizers and $2 drafts during happy hour! Boom! Needless to say, this hill billy sampled around a quarter of the drafts (I will not review them all, but list them out, since you can get them either at your local pub, grocery, or a specialty beer shop).

I will be honest, I have not eaten a meal at Bar Louie (BL), but have enjoyed a few of their appetizers. If you are looking for the same, this place is a place to do it. Especially if you sample the draft beers, you will leave feeling full, trust me! Check with the server, the two for one appetizers change daily, but are great deal with the $2 drafts.

My comrades and I worked over three of their appetizers (two orders of the same thing). They were the soft pretzel sticks, the buffalo calamari, and the grilled chicken tenders.

Soft pretzel sticks? You are thinking wtf? Well, you know how pretzels go good with beer? Well the soft ones are even better, especially with the 3 dipping sauces (honey mustard, hillbilly/yellow mustard, jalapeƱo cheese sauce). The cheese sauce was my favorite, not too spicy. Try it sometime.

The buffalo calamari was an interesting new fusion, and trust me, I don't find much joy in the new fusion trend in food, fashion, or bar themes, but this one was a hit with me (like southwest egg rolls). The calamari was fried up crunchy, and golden brown. Then it was tossed in a fairly hot buffalo sauce that made the two a delightful twist on this hill billy's palate. Can I say, "Recommended!".

Lastly, we tried their chicken tenders. BL's twist on them, is that they are grilled, rather than fried. Their spices are sort of Cajun. I really like the fact that they were grilled (a nice departure from the fried variety). However, the spices might be a tad much for some tastes.

Now, we have to revisit the draft beers, or should I say, the plethora of draft beers. During happy hour, all drafts are $2 each, or for $80 you can sample every one (and probably a trip to the hospital, if not a trip to the porcelain god to worship). I have to say, my comrades and I made it through a quarter of them (yes, 10/11 to be precise). Here is the list (I apologize if I truncated a name or misspelled one):

Kronenbourg 1664
LeinenKugel Sunset Wheat
Doghead Fish 60 IPA
Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale
Samuel Adams Oktoberfest
Pumpkin Spice
Brooklyn Lager
Guinness/Wood Chuck

Needless to say, I was "feeling no pain" after we wrapped up the night, hehe. Our bartender was fairly attentive and our glasses never sat empty long. He was cheerful and knowledgeable about both the area, other Bar Louies (yes, it is a specialty chain), and definitely knowledgeable about the menu. I asked what giardinera was, and he told me (and said that most people will never ask what it is, but ask to have it taken off the pizza). BTW, it is the stuff you see at specialty shops in oil and vinegar, consisting of carrots, hot peppers, cauliflower, and celery (in the Italian version at least). I should be ashamed, since my grandmother is Italian and there is an Italian version of it. The wikipedia entry. I have since bought a jar of it to try (after seeing it in specialty stores all my life I don't know why it took me so long). Also, I know I told our server I would place his picture on the blog. Unfortunately, it didn't come out well in the lighting. If the server reads this, email me and I will send it to you.

However, I was little shocked when we got the check for having most of our stuff during happy hour. Total cost: $53 + $17 tip = $70 (little high for this hill billy for two people, but we did have 10 beers).

That said, Bar Louie gets the following on the hill billy scale:

  1. Service: 5 out of 5. As I said, our bartender was excellent, need I say more?
  2. Food Quality: 3 out of 5. For appetizers, they were great, however, for the price and the location, I think that outside of happy hour it can be a little costly for what it is.
  3. Expectation of the cliental: 3 out of 5. My only draw back was the cliental. They were a mix of TINK's and tourists from the mall. Don't get me wrong, but I hate the mall, mostly because of the derelict kids that attend there (not to mention, Edison mall's surrounding area is going down hill in my opinion). The three young girls out front of the bar cursing was a major turn off.
To net out their rating, they have a 3.667. I did like the decor and the atmosphere, which is unusual since their bar is a "fusion". A higher end bar and grill, mixed with a sports bar. Their formula works obviously, since this is a chain. I would definitely go back, if not for anything else, to show other people all the beers on tap.

Until we eat again,


Thursday, October 11, 2007

It may be named for a pooch, but Clancey's Restaurant is not going to the dogs

Well, this is the the first review since the blog was conceived. Bare with me on the picture quality (I am still learning my new phone), and I may adjust the criteria as I go along. That said, the first restaurant myself and my comrades attended was Clancey's Restaurant.

Location information: 11481 Mcgregor Blvd
Fort Myers, FL 33919
(239) 482 3214
Google Map

Now, the restaurant is named after the former owner's pooch, but is definitely not going to the dogs! There was even a picture of the pretty pup, the current owner keeps by the cash register.

I have to say, the place had a bright, homey feel about it, with the old and varied beer bottles, trinkets, and collection of nostalgia hanging from the walls, and ceiling. However, for all the knick knacks, it was not cluttered, but rather that feeling you get when you walk into an old friend's recreational room basement. One of the cooler things is you can sign a dollar bill and hang it up. Just remember, they will want your to trade your dollar for one their treated flame resistant singles.

Service was prompt and very friendly. She took our drink order and suggested trying the fried zucchini for an appetizer. We decided to run with that suggestion while we looked over the menu. Now the menu was full of home cooking, including white fish, burgers and sandwiches, entrees like Shepard's pie, and each night as a daily special (Wednesdays you can get chicken pot pie).

Our waitress must have been an old hat at this, for once she noticed we were done looking at the menu's she plopped down next to my friend to take our order, but did it in such a way that we were all at ease with her presence within the close proximity.

We started out with the fried zucchini appetizer. Can I say the squash never tasted so good? It reminded me of my grandmother's fried Zuch on the farm in Indiana (mind you, I am truly 1/2 Hill Billy, and that is about the only way that side of the family would eat zucchini). Clancey's had a new twist however, they gave us some creamy parmigiana dressing for a dipping sauce. The combination of the crispy breading, hot squash, and cool creamy dressing was delicacy any hillbilly and non-hillbilly should enjoy!

Next I had a cup of their French Onion Soup (FOS). Nothing special about it in my mind. Being not overly impressed, I doubt I will order it again. Don't get me wrong, it was not bad, but I am slightly a soup snob, and this FOS was not in my top 10 (or top 20).

Next, to the the dishes my comrades and I consumed!

One had the crab cakes, which were ok as far as crab cakes go, but in my opinion, it is usually the sauce that makes them and this sauce was only mediocre.

The other comrade had the patty melt with cheddar. It was, in a word, EXCELLENT! I got in trouble for taking too large of a bite. Next time, my comrade said, she was cutting off my "taste" or better yet, for me to get my own. Hehe.

For myself, I had the classic Reuben. You know how sometimes the sour kraut is not drained, or the 1000 Island dressing is too sweet? Or the bread gets soggy too quickly? Not here! My bread was toasted like a grilled cheese (God the fat grams, whoa is the Weight Watchers points). The kraut was drained, and then it was piled with corned beef and swiss cheese. D - Lish - US!

Most of the sandwiches (and crab cakes) come with either coleslaw, cup of soup, or fries. We all had the steak fries. Can I say, plain-Jane steak fries? Although a natural compliment to our sandwiches, they are not my favorite.

This Hill Billy gives Clancey's the following rating:

  1. Service: 5 out of 5. You could not ask for better service, or friendlier wait staff
  2. Food Quality: 4 out of 5. For a local, down home neighborhood joint, the food was great for the price. I would have like to have a full bar.
  3. Expectation of the cliental: 4 out of 5. The only draw back was the older cliental. They were not rude, or negative. However, being under 40, I felt like it was a little more geriatric than I prefer.
Overall average: 4.334

If you want or need comfort food from a bad day, Clancey's is the place to go! We will definitely be back. I also should mention, that Lee Memorial Health Systems employees get a 10% discount. Check it out.

Until we eat again,


Tuesday, October 9, 2007


This is the first installment of the Hill Billy Gourmet! A little history on the name. I have been called hillbilly by a friend of mine as a joke. However, I love to eat, socialize, the night life and all things "happening". That said, my wife and I (and various friends) tend to go out to eat around two or three times a week, here in our lovely corner of south west Florida. I also like to blog. So... it was like a natural combination to do a review of establishments and events we attend... like Peanut Butter and Chocolate (notice the food theme)?

Since our tastes range far and wide, I will cover at least one establishment or event a week. Look for my reviews! Pictures sometimes too! Also, if you would like to be a guest reviewer, please contact me.

I have been discussing the "scale" (every rater has a scale). I think I will hit on the following criteria with a rating of 1 to 5 (hillbilly's that is) and then average the 3:

  1. Service - comprised of 75% friendliness, and 25% correct serving (getting my order right, balancing leaving me alone, but having my refills on hand).
  2. Food quality - it will depend on the expectation of establishment due taste, price/value ratio, and type of restaurant.
  3. Expectation of cliental - if I go to a honky tonk, I expect "country folk", if I go to a fine casual dining, I expect educated, non-uncouth people. However, I will not give a favorable review if there is an obnoxious snob (rude to patrons or the wait staff), or the redneck rampage yelling at his kids or "woman" and neither is stopped by management.
That said, I think the next post will be later this week. I could do a post of places I have been in the past, but that would not be fair. I would rather do them right after I have been there, to keep the experience fresh in my mind and fresh for the readers!

Till we eat again,

THBG (The Hill Billy Gourmet)