Monday, February 28, 2011

Review: Justified - Season 1 (TV)

A Modern Day Western

Justified is my favorite show on TV at the moment. I would actually say this is one of the best shows that has been on TV in the past five years. I know I just got done praising AMC's Breaking Bad, but FX's Justified is a different breed of animal. The show revolves around a U.S. Federal Marshall named Raylan Givins. After a shooting takes place in Miami (the best opening five minutes of a TV show ever), he is sent to his birth-state of Kentucky. Hijinks ensue, all of which will leave you on the edge of your seat anticipating the next moment. The show is written well, full of action and witty dialogue. There is never a dull moment, whether it be a shootout or a conversation during a stakeout. This is due to one of the best casts of characters on a single show I have seen in a while.

Raylan is played by Timothy Olyphant, a badass actor who is just starting to get his due. You might recognize him from his role in Die Hard 4 or Deadwood. He plays on hell of a cowboy so it is fitting he is playing a modern day reincarnation of one. Raylan can be best described as a mix between Han Solo and John McClain. He has a shoot first, ask questions later vibe mixed with lots of whit and charm. After the first episode it is made clear the man knows how to handle pressure. Raylan has so many complex relationships in the show I cannot begin to describe them all but here is a short list:

Raylan vs. outlaw father Arlo
Raylan vs. Boyd Crowder (Who I will get into in a moment)
Raylan vs. His ex wife
Raylan vs. his current squeeze
Raylan vs. Boyd's Father Bo

Keep in mind this is just Rayland's major season-long relationships. Now the main antagonist of the show is Boyd Crowder, who goes through some major changes in the first few episodes that leaves you guessing the rest of the season on the character's intentions. This is done so well because of the fantastic acting of Walton Goggins, who some might recognize from The Shield.

Rating 5/5- "It's The Bee's Knees!"

The show is an easy recommendation to anyone who likes action, westerns, drama, or any good television period. The show does slow down a bit it the middle and sidetracks of the main story-line but only for three or four episodes, and they are still great ones to watch! FX just started Season 2, and it is looking to best Season 1 at the moment. Check it out next time you have a easy weekend or your sick with nothing to do, you won't regret it.

"Fire in the Whole!"

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Reviews(Music): The Devil Wears Prada and Queens Club

icAlright everyone I have two music reviews for today! I will make them all pretty short, the CDs are just EPs so they will not take too long. Anyways sorry it has taken so long to get some non-food reviews up. First up.....

The Devil Wears Prada- Zombies EP

So I have listened to The Devil Wears Prada (TDWP) for a while, although I still don't know how I feel about them. They definitely have some talent and have been able to make some catchy metalcore/screamo songs. Unfortunately they have yet to really make a whole album that grabs me. They decided to have a little fun between their records and release a concept EP called Zombies. Can you guess what it is about?! That is right, it's about zombies! When I heard the idea I thought "a metal band doing a zombie concept album? Tight!". Problem is, I feel like it could of been a lot more than what it is.

 I'll start with the bad. The lyrics are boring and generic. They had an opportunity to tell a cool story or show some sort of emotion but the lyrics are like their subject matter, lifeless. Good thing you can not really understand what the heck the singer is shouting anyway! If you are going to write lyrics with zombies do something like Showbread and their song "George Romero Will Be At Our Wedding".

This record does have its positives though. The music itself is raw and hard. This is a different TDWP, and they show it from the get go. It is much more metal, much less screamo then their past albums. The vocals are much more of a growl than the shout they used to be. There is also less whining (what they consider clean vocals) then in past albums. The guitars are good, nothing special. The drums are fantastic , fast a chaotic yet precise. The album has a very creepy atmosphere thanks to some great sound effects such as gun shots, radio PSAs, and even heavy breathing of someone running away. Also I am a sucker for good cover art and theirs is pretty badass. Very eerie and dead looking.

Overall I like the direction these guys are headed and am excited to see where they take it, especially applied with good lyrics. This EP is a fun little distraction in the meantime but is overall forgettable.

Rating- 3/5 "It's Just Meh"

Queens Club- Friendly EP

I have one big problem with Queens Club. They seem to be lost finding their sound. Right now they seem to be a mix between pop/punk and Indie, but they do not mix them very well. The first three tracks on this EP are upbeat musically, with good rhythm and tempo. The last two are acoustic versions of two of my favorite tracks from their last album. The guitars and drums are solid. Very upbeat, fast paced, and quirky. They seem to be very sporadic in the direction but always keeping things moving. The bass is awesome, very noticeable and almost steals the show with some good grooves. The vocals are what kill me. They just sound like the vocalist is falling asleep or just woke up. There is no oomph. Very dull and does not match their overall sound. The vocals are those of an Indie band while the instruments are more along the lines of a band like Jonzetta. The acoustic songs are solid. They do something most bands avoid when doing acoustic covers and that is change the structure of the song. I really enjoy it and they are solid renditions.

Until Queens Club finds their sound, I just can not get into them. They have a few bright moments here and there but overall they are just do not offer anything that separates them from every other quirky new band. I cannot complain about the album too much though because it is free on there facebook. Check it out if you like free music and need some new tunes, otherwise I cannot really recommend it.

2/5- "It's Not Worth It"

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Review: Whataburger Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich

Looks like Whataburger read my their last review on The Smidview because they brought back the Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich. This is one of my absolute favorite chicken sandwiches in fast food and was pretty excited to see it back. This probably does not leave much question of what I am giving this sandwich but hey, maybe I will surprise you!

What I got: The Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich (on Texas Toast) Combo

This is the perfect example of a seasonal item that needs to be on the menu all of the time! The sandwich itself is made with things that are always on the menu. It is just three chicken strips, BBQ sauce, and two pieces of Monterey jack cheese on either Texas Toast or a toasted bun. Simple, but oh so good. I cant really go into a whole lot of detail though because of its simplicity. The chicken strips are typical strips, maybe even a little too breaded. The BBQ sauce is sweet and tangy, which makes sense being it is Honey BBQ sauce. As you can see in the picture, they give you plenty as well. The Monterey jack cheese is not really very flavorful but comes through on texture. It ads some good smoothness to it and blends well with the BBQ sauce. I chose to get it on Texas Toast because if I am going to eat greasy Whataburger I am going all out. The toast was buttery and golden brown but really really greasy. Not a very big surprise though. This meal is definitely not for the health conscious.

Rating: 5/5 -"It's the Bee's Knees"

Sorry, no surprises This is one of my absolute favorites. I plan on getting this a few more times before they take it away from us again. Damn seasonal fast food gods.

P.S. I will start getting some other reviews that are not food related up soon.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Restaurant Review: Sushi Axiom (Hulen & I-30 Location)

Sushi is one of those types of foods where it is not always a great idea to be adventurous. Once you find a good Sushi place, you tend not to branch out too much from it. I have really yet to find a sushi place in Fort Worth in the three years I have been here. This is because a mix of sushi being out of my college-student sized budget and fear. Finally I had a solid recommendation from my girlfriend to try a sushi restaurant called Sushi Axiom. We took a trip there together recently and I was pretty impressed.

We visited the original Sushi Axiom on Hulen, which is in a strange location. It is located in a little strip shopping center next to a tanning salon, not the place I expected after reading up on their "fusion cuisine". Inside on the other hand, the decor was very modern and serene. The restraint itself was small, but did not feel cramped. We were sat immediately and waited on promptly. This is more likely due to the fact it was 4:30 in the afternoon and we were one of six tables but good service is good service. I would be curious to see what it is like there when it is busy.

The Double Happiness Roll

On to the food! I got something called the Double Happiness Roll (DHR), which is according to the website "spicy tuna, tobiko roll with tempura crab, cream cheese and avocado". My other half got the Pacific Roll (PR), which is "shrimp, crab, and cucumber wrapped by seared tuna, avocado, & ponzu sauce". They were both fantastic.  Now I am no sushi expert so I will explain these the best I can. The DHR was awesome. It had a smoky flavor which I think came from smoked sesame seeds, while also having a bit of heat to it, which is from the spicy tuna I assume. the outside was tempura fried, but only slightly, so it was crunchy but not breaded heavily. The only complaint is the cream cheese came out a bit too strong while the avocado was not even noticeable. The PR had strong fish flavor, but in a good sense. The seared tuna wrapped around the outside was melt-in-your-mouth good and had a nice taste to it. It went down silky smooth when paired with avocado. The middle was more of a subdued flavor in which the cucumber came through well.
The Pacific Roll

Overall it was a good sushi experience. The food, service, and atmosphere was wonderful. My only complaint is the price, which was not too bad but a bit steep. At the same time I would rather pay a bit more and be assured quality fish than get cheap sushi with bad fish so I can not complain too much. I definitely plan on going again and trying some new things! Thank goodness I finally found a sushi place I like, I was getting tired of Kroger Sushi.

Rating 4/5 "It's Just Swell"

On to the next one...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Quick-view: Chick-Fil-A Chicken Biscuit and Breaking Bad Season 2

I am going to first go over my absolute favorite breakfast of all time. I have been eating this breakfast for over a decade now and can honestly say it is just as good as it was the first time. I am of course talking about the

Chick-Fil-A Chicken Biscuit

So the Chicken Biscuit is one of those things that when I tried I thought "What the hell took so long for me to try this?!". It has since become a classic breakfast staple of mine. The biscuits are soft and flaky. They butter them just right, giving them great flavor. The chicken is always flavorful and juicy. The only problem is some people complain about the dryness of it all. It does not really bother me but one solution to this problem is to smother it in grape jelly. It adds some moisture and some sweetness to the saltiness of the biscuit. But literally I have put dozens of things on mine and have yet to not enjoy it. This thing is breakfast heaven and always will be.

Rating: 5/5 "It's The Bee's Knees"

Breaking Bad Season 2

So in my review of Season One I praised Cranston for his acting chops and raved about the shows mix of drama and humor. While both are still there is Season Two, a lot has changed. In Season Two, the main character, Walter White, gets into further trouble of various sorts. Whether it be with the law, local drug lords, or even his family, Walt's behavior makes every episode nerve wracking because you are anticipating when the Sh!t will hit the fan. The first season was a good mix of humor and drama, but the second is much more of drama with bits of humor here and there. This show once again proves AMC can make captivating shows. This show is also for mature audiences only. There are points where the show is extremely disturbing. After some episodes I literally was tossing in bed because I couldn't stop thinking how much it bothered me. The show also gets to a point where you do not know how you feel about certain characters. Some episodes you like them and others you are so frustrated with them. Anyways, this show is the definition of great television and I plan on getting into Season Three when it comes out.

Rating 5/5 - "It's The Bee's Knees"


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Review: Fort Worth's Own Dutch's Burgers

Time to start what will be the first of many reviews for one of my favorite places to eat in Fort Worth, Dutch's Burgers. Dutch's is literally next to my college campus so it is well known among TCU folks and most people in Fort Worth. I was recommended this place my a student 4 years ago when I was looking at TCU and have been a fan ever sense! It is your typical college town burger joint. It is small and has a very homey feel to it. It is run very well and everyone who works there is very friendly and willing to do what they can to make their guests happy. It is popular for families during the weekends and always full of students during the weeknights. I personally have been going almost every Tuesday for two years now for half price burger night. This place is famous for their burgers and has received several accolades for them. they have six or so different varieties of burgers on the menu and I do plan on reviewing them all. Ironically enough, the first review I will be doing will not be for a burger, but a chicken sandwich.

What I got: The Spicy Chicken Strip Basket (I asked them to make it a sandwich, which they apparently are asked to do often because when I asked it seemed like not big deal).

So why did I get a chicken sandwich at a burger joint you ask? One, It was not half price burgers, so this was cheaper. Two, I love their spicy chicken. The sandwich is just three breaded chicken strips covered in Dutches spicy sauce with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and blue cheese dressing on one of dutches special buns. It quickly becoming one of my favorite things at this place. The chicken strips are big and tender. They are heavily breaded as well but with just the right amount of crunch. 

The sauce they use is one of the best hot sauces I have ever had on chicken. It taste like a mix of honey, sriracha, and buffalo sauce. It has a very unique flavor. It is sweet at first but then kicks in late with the heat. Perfect with breaded chicken. On a Sandwich it is fantastic. Dutches does a great job on putting lots of veggies on their burgers as well Which I really like, especially because they have good veggies. The tomatoes are juicy, the lettuce is green and crisp, and the onions taste fresh. Dutches also has some of the best buns I have ever had on a sandwich. They remind me of the Hawaiian sweet roles, but they are not quite that sweet. The buns are dense though, and very filling, so if you are looking for low carb I recommend looking elsewhere. 

The basket comes with fries, although you can sub out for onion rings or tator tots. The fries are fresh cut and thick. They are crispy around the edges but still a little limp. It works well for their fries though because they are so thick, if they were crispy they would be too greasy. They season them with a sea salt and black pepper mix which adds some great flavor to them. They give you plenty as well so you rarely can eat them all. 

Rating 5/5 Stars- "It's The Bee's Knee's"

Dutch's has become one of my favorite restaurants in Fort Worth and a place I miss when I am gone from here for too long. The food is great, the people are awesome, and the atmosphere is relaxed. If you are ever in Fort Worth, give this place a shot. You will not regret it. If it is on a Tuesday there is a good chance I will be there too. I will have more reviews of the other burgers coming soon!

Tell next time

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: Wendy's Asiago Ranch Chicken Club

Wendy's has really been pushing quality food lately, which is a good move with how much everything cost there now. Between the new salads (which look pretty good actually), the new Sea Salt fries (which I am going to get to later), and new bacon, it looks like they are doing an overhaul one step at a time. The best part that makes me okay with the upgrades is Wendy's is one of the few fast food places that is pushing quality while keeping a 99 cent menu. This is a big step for a college student like me. I can be a big spender or just get a cheap three buck meal depending on what I want. Anyways I gave the new Asiago sandwich a try. 

According to the Wendy's website, it is "tender, all-white meat chicken fillets topped with thick-cut Applewood Smoked Bacon, natural-aged Asiago cheese, creamy ranch sauce, hand-leafed lettuce, and hand-chopped tomatoes. " 

So how was it? Pretty good actually. I ended up just going with the regular crunchy. I wanted to get the spicy but decided against it. I will start with what I didn't like about it first. The bun was a disappointment. Wendy's needs to pick up their bun game and get some whole wheat or sweet buns or something because the white is not quite cutting it. Another thing is the it only has one tomato which made me sad. I do not know why but I mean Wendy's actually uses good veggies so I don't see why they don't put a few more on their sandwich!! 

Now the positives. First, the chicken was not half bad. I prefer their spicy chicken but it was moist and tender, while not being too breaded. The bacon was also fantastic. I love Wendy's new bacon, it is among the best fast food bacon out there. Just look at how thick and full those three strips are! The Asiago cheese was flavorful and mixed wonderfully with the chicken. It was stronger then I expected but matched the flavor of the bacon. The raunch sauce was nothing exciting and honestly doesnt add anything. That being said it works better than mayo or mustard would but still, I feel like they could have made a different sauce. 

Rating 4/5 Stars- "It's Just Swell!"

I definitely recommend giving it a shot next time your at Wendy's if you like chicken sandwiches. Has some problems but they are minimal.

Oh and I LOVE THE NEW FRIES! Wendy's now has my favorite new fries in fast food. They are crispy, flavorful, and taste real. Wendy's did a great thing because now I always want a combo so I can get some of these damn good fries. They also give you a good amount of them, even with the small size. Just a warning though, they need to be hot, otherwise they sog up real bad!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Quick-view: The King's Speech and Jack Combo at Jack in the Box

A nice treat for everyone today! I have two quick-views, one movie and one food. The first I will start off with is the critically acclaimed "The King's Speech".

What I saw: The Kings Speech

Wow, what a year in films. Who would of thought the two  top nominations for best picture would be two films that are almost purely character driven and show phenomenal acting skills on both parties. I am of course talking about The Social Network and The King's Speech. I love both but will be giving a quick-view of the second. The movie is  about a soon to be king(Firth) with a serious speech impediment and the relationship he builds with his speech therapist (Rush) battling the problem. I know, first thought is it sounds boring, but that is so far from the truth. Yes it has almost no action in it, but holy mother of pearl there are some great performances. If you like great acting or a solid script at all go see this movie. Firth plays the role he was meant for (british royalty) and nails the frustration and awkwardness of not being able to speak publicly. Rush has just the right amount of quirk to be realistic but surprising and fun. My only complaint of the film is it runs a tad long but it is a small gripe that anyone who likes good acting will be able to overlook. This film is not for anyone looking for an action or romcom movie, but for someone who wants to see what all the awards buzz is about, it is worth a peek.

Rating 5/5 Stars - "It's The Bee's Knees"

*Now as far as awards go, I want to be clear. I loved this movie but I DO NOT think it deserves best picture. There have been several films that, as a whole, are better. Personally I think The Social Network should win but what do I know! That being said, If Firth or Rush do not win something for the acting I am going to punch my TV.

What I got- Jack in the Box - Big Deal Combo Meal 

First, I apologize for the crappy picture. Second, yes that is a lot of food. Know what I paid for all that? $3.99. Sweet deal eh? That makes all of those things about a buck each, which is a pretty good deal. Was it any good? Not so much....... I know it is Jack In The Box so I should have known it was going to be bad but I had to hope right? I was walking home at 12:30 AM and was hungry so I hit up the local Box. The fries were typical curly fries, meh. The tacos were greasy and not very tasty. The lettuce was literally smothered with grease as was the outer shell. What do I expect for a 47 cent taco. The burger was just gross. I almost just did not eat it, and that was the first thing I started. It is your typical jumbo jack, with burger, lettuce, mayo, ketchup, tomatoes, onions. What I do not like about it though is the meat is tasteless and soggy, the bun is big but just taste cheap and seems filler. The veggies were fresh on the burger, which was nice, but did not really help. The only plus side to this is it is a cheap, filling meal, but unfortunately other places do it better (A La Taco Bell and Wendy's). Unless you love all of these items, do not even bother.

1/5 Stars - "It's Flippen Horrendous!"

Anyways everyone enjoy some good eating tomorrow for the game! Ill be posting what I will be having!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Review: Chick-Fil-A Spicy Chicken Biscuit

Hi Everybody!!

The only fast food restaurant I love more than Taco Bell is Chick-Fil-A. That place is in my humble opinion the best fast food restaurant in existence. This is not because I think they have the best food (although they might have the best chicken, waffle-fries, and milkshakes) but because every Chick-Fil-A I go to is super clean and has the best service. I mean even the worst Chick-Fil-A I have been to in downtown Houston still was cleaner and had as good of service as the best Mcdonalds I have visited. These guys really stand out among Fast Food. I used to go there so much that the one in my hometown knows me by name still, after I have been in college 300 miles away for 3 YEARS!! That is insane customer service.

Anyways I felt like it was time I give their new Spicy Chicken Buscuit a shot. The Spicy Chicken Sandwhich was a good addition to the lineup, and the Chicken Busciut still remains to be my favorite fast food breakfast item around. How could this be bad right?!

Well unfortunately it did not live up to the expectations I had. Granted those were very high and I hold Chick-Fil-A to a certain standard but still it was a tad upsetting. So I basically just got the combo, with the Spicy Chicken Biscuit(SPB), hash-browns, and an OJ. First lets talk about the SPB. The biscuit was perfect, as almost always. Sometimes they do not add butter so they can run a tad dry but this one had just the right amount. It was flaky and moist and just the way I like them. The chicken is were the SPB fails. It reminded me of a giant Spicy nugget from Wendy's. I like the seasoning, it definitely looks authentic and had good flavor to it. It is spicy but not overwhelming. The problem lies with the breading to chicken ratio. There was way too much breading on this. I felt like I was eating a nugget. A typical piece of chicken from Chick-Fil-A has a pretty thin amount of breading so I was thrown off. Also the biscuit and spicy did not really mix well. There was nothing to neutralize the heat.

I went ahead and added some cheese and that helped but not enough. This is really just hurt by the chicken, which sucks because the fundamentals are what Chick-Fil-A is normally so good at. I think if they added cream cheese or something to it, that could save it but otherwise it is an item that does not meet the Chick-Fil-A quality i expect. The hash-browns were delicious as always, golden and brown but not too greasy. They also switch their OJ to a good size jug of Simply Orange which is awesome! Now I do not feel like I am getting ripped off when I spend two bucks on OJ (or at least not as bad).

Rating: 2/5 Stars- "It's Not Worth It"

The only thing this does is hurt my opinion of Chick-Fil-A quality. I feel like after doing such a great job with the Spicy Sandwich they would have gotten this right. It is okay though, I still love you Chick-Fil-A!! Just not this item. 

Tell next time!