July 27, 2011
I’ve mentioned Lenny’s Sub Shop before, but one thing I didn’t mention is their impressive use of social media in their marketing. Now, if you’re anything like me, the phrase “social media in marketing” makes you cringe, as it reeks of obnoxious, invasive posts on Facebook and Twitter begging you to please please please try their product. Lenny’s usually manages to avoid this. Instead, they post weekly “Social Wednesday” deals on subs and combos on Facebook, with coupons good for that day. Lenny’s also runs occasional giveaways, like haiku or picture contests, with the prize being a $10 Lenny’s gift card. I was lucky enough to win one, so I headed out to pick up a sub.
Looking back, I should’ve been more adventurous, but I decided to go with an old favorite, the Philly Cheesesteak. I have no complaints. The steak was thin sliced and grilled to perfection, and the cheese and onions were great. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to ask for the hot pepper relish on the side, the way I said I would last time, but I forgot. It’s good, and would be a nice addition to an Italian sub, but it overpowers a cheesesteak a bit.
The cheesesteak cost around $6.50, well within the gift card’s balance. I’d recommend it, but more than that, I’d recommend becoming a fan of Lenny’s on Facebook. It’s quick and painless, and you might end up getting a free sub or two out of it.
July 18, 2011
Chicken is king these days in the world of fast food, and McDonald’s is no exception. Like most restaurants, they’ve been pushing their all-white meat, premium chicken breast patties and tenders. (Note: this doesn’t mean there’s been a quality increase across the board; regular McChickens and McNuggets are the same processed meat product.) Among McDonald’s Premium Chicken sandwiches is the Ranch BLT, which I’ve opted to review.
The Ranch BLT is a pretty standard recipe. Chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and ranch dressing on a bun. The higher-quality chicken really makes the difference here though, and it’s refreshing to actually get some texture in a chicken sandwich. (Again, not that I mind the patties used in McChickens, but a little variety and quality is always nice.) The bacon seems a bit thicker than on regular sandwiches, but that might be my imagination. The BLT also includes actual leaf lettuce, which is so much better than the shredded lettuce a lot of fast food features. (I’d be willing to pay extra for leaf lettuce most of the time, in case any franchises are reading this.) All in all, a satisfying chicken sandwich.
The higher quality does come at a price, however. A Premium Chicken combo runs for over $5, which is a bit pricey for McDonald’s. While you can basically see where your extra dollars are going, it’s a bit hard to justify which other chicken sandwiches are several dollars cheaper (including the underrated, fantastic Southern Style Crispy Chicken, which I just discovered I haven’t reviewed- yet). Still, if you’re looking for quality craftsmanship at a McDonald’s (of all places), the Ranch BLT is a good bet.
July 14, 2011
Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger is another mainstay of Ann Arbor’s local restaurant culture. Established in 1953 and boasting the slogan “Cheaper than Food,” Blimpy Burger is known for their greasy, made to order cuisine, which includes burgers, french fries, and pretty much any other vegetable which can be dropped in a deep fat fryer. Blimpy Burger has been featured on both Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and Man vs. Food, with a spotlight on their quintuple patty burgers. It’s sort of the opposite of Zingerman’s, in that it’s cheap, unhealthy, and down-to-earth. It is also delicious.
Before I review the burgers themselves, I want to talk for a minute about the restaurant. Blimpy Burger cooks prepare your burger to order in front of you, and they have a kind of specific method of ordering. Like many local places including Grand Rapids’ Yesterdog, they have a monopoly on being them, so they sometimes treat their customers somewhat rudely. The guys working when I visited were great, but I know my brothers have had issues with some of the employees in the past, so be mindful of this. PRO TIP: if everyone (customers and employees) is patient with each other, we’ll all have a good time.
(As a side note, Yesterdog is terrible. I’m not even going to dignify it with a proper review. You can easily make the same food in your house for cheaper without a bunch of punks being jerks to you.)
I ordered a triple (three patties) with Bleu cheese, bacon, and mayo, and as I said before, it was great. The patties are kind of smashed together, which is fine by me. The bacon is freshly fried on the grill with the hamburger, and it made up about half the sandwich. It was both thick and crispy, and really made the burger. The Bleu cheese wasn’t as prominent as in some other burgers, but it was a nice touch. Next time I might add some grilled onions or mushrooms, but all in all it was a satisfying, filling burger.
Despite their slogan, it was a little pricier than I expected, since both the cheese and bacon cost extra. All told, my burger came to about $4.50, which I was fine with. My brother also got a basic double with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, ketchup and mustard for about $2, which is a great deal. I’d definitely recommend Blimpy Burger for a quick, fun eat if you’re in downtown Ann Arbor.
Steak n Shake has long been a favorite of mine, and one of my earliest posts was a review of a couple of their Steakburgers. I like to check in every couple of months to see what new sandwiches they’re offering. One of the newest additions is the Portobello and Swiss Steakburger. Ostensibly it’s part of the “burgers from different regions” theme they’ve been working with, like the new California Double, although I don’t know what region the mushroom and Swiss combination originated in.
The burger is actually pretty good. Mushrooms and Swiss cheese is not a novel concept by any means, but it’s still executed well here. The Portobello mushrooms are a bit fresher than I’m used to, which was a pleasant suprise. The steak patties are tasty, and the addition of carmelized onions and garlic mayo really round out the burger. While it’s not quite on the level of the Western BBQ, the Portobello and Swiss is a flavorful, enjoyable burger.
Like most Steakburgers, the Portobello and Swiss runs for around $5 as a combo. I hope to stop by Steak n Shake soon for their take on the Royale (a burger with a fried egg on it), but if you’re in the mood for the old mushroom and Swiss combination, it’s worth checking out.