Posts Tagged restaurant

Review: Ozzie’s

I go to Ozzie’s basically every week for Monday Night Karaoke.  Karaoke on Mondays has become something of a tradition, transitioning from the U District’s Dante’s to this Queen Anne bar due to (1) slightly better seating arrangements and (2) much better turnaround on singing songs.  Ozzie’s isn’t without its problems – after all, it is in many senses a dive bar – but the clear winning draw for karaoke is the crowd of friends I go out with.  So, I will attempt to correct for my bias for this review.

Ozzie’s is first and foremost a bar, and it’s not a particularly good one.  There’s one exception to my valuation here – shots – but for regular drinks of most kinds, it seems like the bartenders are far too surly and also not quite knowledgeable enough for my tastes.  They also seem to be missing fairly key ingredients (oranges, lemons, limes, milk) for alcoholic beverages.  I mean, I guess the guy made it clear to me it was a dive bar, but still.  I am usually not thrilled with going up to a bar and getting a frown when I try to order.  They do have reasonable table service (as in, some service) in the karaoke area, so that’s a slight positive.

As for karaoke, the selection is not bad, although a little out of date.  The sound system is hit or miss, but it’s been mostly fine in my experience.  The “KJ” (karaoke jockey) Deanna is very friendly and good at her job, which helps a lot.  I have never found it to be too crowded, either, unless our own group has 20+ people show up (then we are crowding it).

I have never tried their food, so I can’t really comment on that.  I also hear they have fun trivia, and their on-tap beer selection is medium-good.

Overall: B-
Karaoke Experience: B+ (Dante’s is worse, A Terrible Beauty is better)
General Feel of Queen Anne: Laid Back, Kind of “Don’t Give a Shit”

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Review: Panera Bread

Panera is a chain of bakery/sandwich/soup/salad places, but it’s at the healthier/more respectable end of chains (like Chipotle or even Starbucks).  There’s one basically in between home and work, in the Tukwila Southcenter mall area, and I have taken to (a) getting breakfast there infrequently and (b) eating the soup/salad combo there, also infrequently.  I have now gone there for a sufficient variety of meals that I feel capable of reviewing it, and in addition, I can talk about their rewards program!

One thing I really like about Panera is that their meal selection is interesting enough that you feel like the choices are different (sandwich selections feel very different, and they always have 5-7 soups available), but you aren’t overwhelmed with choice like you might be at a sit-down restaurant.  It fits in that perfect niche between fast-fast food and the slower Whistle Stop style venues.  Also, bread bowls for soup are like the best thing ever and they are EQUAL in price to regular bowls there – mindboggle!  My recommendation for breakfast is their French Toast Bagel, but their breakfast sandwiches are quite good as well.  Price is where I’d expect it, around +$0 to +$1 over Starbucks or so for equivalent items.  I rarely pay more than $6 for a breakfast or $10 for a lunch there.

Their rewards program, My Panera, has got to be the best thing ever.  Or maybe it’s just intended to seem like the best thing ever.  There are no points or plans involved – just sometimes, you get free stuff.  Very Skinneresque in nature, quite effective.  I got a free espresso drink and a free pastry fairly quickly toward the beginning of my purchases (within 5 meals or so?) so my guess is they weight newcomers more highly, which makes a lot of sense.  Regardless, it seems to be a great way to convince people to keep coming back, so props to them.

Overall: A-
Bread Bowl Bonus: 5 pts
Added Loyalty Due to Operant Conditioning: Moderate

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Review: Whistle Stop Ale House

There’s a restaurant near Wizards, I’ll call it a “classic lunch-style diner,” called Whistle Stop, which can essentially be described as the Wizards’ cafeteria.  I have certainly frequented it a bunch, and it’s been my go-to place for a burger or sandwich or salad or soup (of the day).  I know a fair number of people at work who also enjoy it, but recently a few of my friends have decided it is actually crappy and are boycotting it.  What is going on?  I intend to dig up the truth of the matter… in this review!

Whistle Stop’s got a large delta in its serving staff; that is, some are great and some are terrible.  I don’t want to name names (also I don’t really know their names), but I am very appreciative when I frequent a place and when I sit down, they already know my, e.g., drink order.  About half the staff at Whistle Stop does that for me.  Now, granted, the other half extends the meal by about half an hour because of delays in service, and that’s frequently a problem. So this is a hit-or-miss proposition, and that can often be a dealbreaker for lunchtime choices when you need to be sure to get back by a certain time.  I can see this being an argument for crappitude, and recently it seems like more of the bad staff are present and less of the good staff (bad trend).

Also one of their waitstaff is a dead ringer for Amanda Peet.

On the other hand, I have never had a problem with quality of food there, and one of Whistle Stop’s great triumphs is that everyone I know is capable of finding a (good) meal there.  Vegans, vegetarians, can’t-eat-bread, only-eat-meat — all of them have options, or at least a good option.  The food is also good every time.  It’s also the kind of simple restaurant fare I enjoy – maybe it’s my upbringing, but I’m not a fan of like, Thai or Indian frequently.  Once a while, sure, but I’m a burger/sandwich kind of guy.

Overall: B- (B+ for medium sized groups)
Guskingestion Factor: A-
Service, Averaged: B+
Service, Recently: C+

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