Saturday, October 22, 2011

OK, I tried the McNally's "new" lamb burger. Here's the 411.

A few weeks ago, I lamented, well bitched, about McNally's making a significant change to the star of last Fall's special seasonal menu, the lamb burger. Check that out here. So, in the interest of fairness and good blog journalism, I decided to try one about a week ago.

So, how was it? Am I going to eat my words? Hell, no!

The new McNally's lamb burger was just as expected- too eastern-tilted to suit my tastes. If the goal was to produce a lamb burger similar to what other joints are doing with ground lamb or trying to play into the stereotype that all lamb must be served in some Greek sort of fashion, then they nailed it.

Here's what I noticed. When it came to the table, it honestly smelled like someone slid a dish of curry under my nose. The meat is blended with cumin and some other herbs, and SAUSAGE for crying out loud. All together the aroma was very curry-like.

My burger was cooked ok. By that I mean a little more on the rare side, but not quite enough. The Secret Soup Spoon also had a lamb burger and noted it was a tad on the dry side. Lamb is that way. If you don't under cook it just a tad, you end up with a dry burger. The sausage blend was mild, but still noticeable. I much prefer full-on lamb flavor and the new burger just teases.

The yogurt sauce on the burger was a major eh. Didn't seem to add anything. No real sourness or cooling sort of effect. It was just there for looks, apparently.

Go have one of these if you want. I am going to pass. It's not nearly as good as last year's super delicious lamb burger and it is not worth the whopping $12 price tag on it. If you want this yogurty Greek/middle eastern flavor profile, save yourself about 6 bucks by going to Nick's and getting a big greasy gyro.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hy Vee 26th and Sycamore and the Five Stages of Grief

This post has been a long time coming. If you didn't know, Hy Vee is doing some MAJOR renovation work on its store at 26th and Sycamore. I've made it a point to go over there from time-to-time to check it out and enjoy the challenge of trying to figure out where the hell they have stashed whatever item I went in there to purchase. The process started months ago by shoving a few aisles closer together and slowly tearing things apart. Then things started really coming apart- the old thrift store building was torn down and the entire front entrance modified so construction could continue on the exterior. The entire experience was like visiting the only grocery store in a community that had been struck by a terrible natural disaster.

Over the course of the summer, though, little things got done, like the new cheese counter and bakery. The milk is now always in the same spot. The new liquor and wine area and pharmacy are still open. Things are coming together, but chaos prevails- mainly in the parking lot at present, but plenty inside as well.

This whole experience got me thinking about the five stages of grocery grief.

1. Anger. Big time anger. if you thought it was hard to find stuff in there pre-remodeling, you hadn't seen anything. Not even the helpful smiles knew where to find milk on most days. And, if you did locate what you were searching for, there was no guarantee it would be there next time.

2. Denial. Mostly as in, "I can't believe this will ever be done!" Generally, quickly followed by more anger.

3. Depression. If you tried to buy any sort of bread that Hy Vee passes off as decent this summer, you should have felt depressed. The Banquet offers its guests better looking baked goods every morning after breakfast. Seriously. You might also be easily depressed by having to drive to another Hy Vee to have to escape the calamity.

4. Bargaining. After a while, finding shredded cheese or organic beer became kind of a game. "Hey, this is kind of fun!" you told yourself, thinking that you can put up with this until sometime in 2012 when the project is supposed to be finished.

5. Acceptance. As things settle into place, it is clear that there are a few real improvements in the place. The new cheese aisle is pretty nice. I don't believe the Taj Mahal at 37th and Minnesota has that sort of set up for cheeses. And the wine, beer, and liquor area is pretty spacious and very well stocked. Gone are the days of picking up a 12-pack of PBR cans across from the eggs in the dairy aisle. Maybe this won't be so bad?

But wait, it's still Hy Vee. And that brings us back to anger and depression...

In all candor, the new, improved store will be nice. But, the real question will be whether Hy Vee can step up it's game. For instance:

  • Will the produce in the sparkling new aisle still look like crap most of the time? Will cilantro be available with any regularity? Can I purchase an avocado that is somewhere between rock hard and water balloon, in other words, ripe?

  • Will purchasing meat still require a graphing calculator to figure out the screw job the helpful smiles are laying on you between the packaged meat and the stuff in the full service case?

  • Same goes for pricing cheese.

Time will tell. Happy shopping in Sioux Falls, where boy, have we got options!