Note:

All prices mentioned are based on the accuracy of my memory at the time...which may fluctuate depending on amount and type of beverage consumed.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Montana State Fair Food - Part 2

After my foiled attempt at eating outside the box earlier, I had to return to my fair food roots, the familiar, reliable standby:

GIANT... JUICY... FOOTLONG... CORNDOG

What I realized after scouring every menu placard on the strip was that footlong corndogs have saturated the market, but only one has raised their price to $6, while the rest came in at $5.50. I chose the generic stand which had no line and one lone corn dog basking under a heat lamp that had my name written all over it.

12 inches of beef, pork, chicken, and turkey remnants wrapped in a synthetic cellulose casing, deep fried in batter, slathered in ketchup and mustard, and laid in bed of thin, crinkly paper. I knew exactly what to expect and I wasn't disappointed. Ahh, how I missed you old friend...

With a lump of above mentioned food wallowing in my throat and clinging to my esophagus, I had no other option than to go in search of another fair standby:

FRESH SQUEEZED LEMONADE

Luckily for the sake of my digestive system it was in the same spot it always is, right inside the Mercantile Building's East doors. Be prepared to fork over $3.50 for this medium sized drink which is 99% ice and provides about 3 syrupy slurps before it's gone. Nobody said this liquid gold comes cheap!

CONCLUSION: My $20 bill plus an extra buck fed two of us which is much less damage than I had planned for. It would have been closer to $30 had the kind ticket lady not let us through free of charge. My other comrades each had a $6 Viking which is a skewered, battered (surprise!), fried (shock!), baseball-sized meatball which they can't go one year without and which I can look forward to attempting next year because I haven't yet learned my lesson from diverting from my typical fair staples. You only live once right?

Other Top Fair Foods I've had (and enjoyed) in years past:
  1. Pink lemonade shaved ice with a waterfall (dollop of half and half in the center of the ice)
  2. Deep-fried jalapeƱos (tip: bite just the top piece of breading off and let some steam escape, otherwise you will end up with a lap full of hot cheese and less skin on the roof of your mouth along with the inability to taste anything for the next few days)
  3. Smoked turkey legs
  4. Fried rice and chicken teriyaki
  5. Fried cheese curds (think mozzarella sticks but in ball form and variously sized)
  6. Cinnamon and sugar fried donuts
That about covers it...The Montana State Fair website has a pretty extensive concessionaire menu list (natch, no prices) along with a handy map to assist if you find yourself wandering aimlessly in food heaven (or hell).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Montana State Fair Food

Next to the the impossible traffic on the NW Bypass that I swear one day will cause a fatal collision, the food is the most feared and fretful fair-week accompaniment.

Although it took us two gate entrance attempts to finally allow us group of four to feed during our lunch hour for free, we finally succeeded and embarked upon the world of the Midway which was music to four hungry IT tech's ears, or would that be perfume to our olfactory senses? (only if your fragrance of choice comes deep, fat fried with a hint of stale beer, vomit, horse manure, and sweat, of course)

Choices abounded on the short walk down the strip and NONE looked palatable or conducive to allowing me to return to work for another 4 hours without feeling a constant urge for emergency liposuction. So then I decided...

"If I wasn't going to go big, then I better go home!" (but then I remembered I didn't drive in the first place so going home wasn't really an option)

And so begins the story of....DEEP...FRIED....HAMBURGERS...

ohhh, was I excited...nothing says overindulgence like taking a burger (or Twinkie, or Oreo, or Pepsi?) and sticking it in a vat of oil until it's crispy fried and dripping from every seam. I was going to burst my virgin deep fried fair food palate on none other than one of these monstrous delights.
So I forked over the $6, chose the Hawaiian burger with pineapple, mozzarella, and marinara sauce and waited....and then it appeared. A tea saucer sized puck inside what looked like the doggy bags that Prime Cut gives out to take home your leftovers. But presentation isn't everything right? "It's the fair, not fine dining", I told myself.
As I took my first bite, immediately my mouth felt the fire. "Great, burnt the roof of my mouth so how am I supposed to taste the damn thing now!" I let the steam escape for a minute and tried again...
"Mmmm, mouthful of onion ring breading, tasty"...I had to bore through a few bites before I even hit the meat. Gristly, pink, cheap burger is all it looked like or tasted like to me (but I do have to say I am not the expert on this subject having been a fan of ground turkey not ground beef my entire life. )I kept biting, looking longingly for a pineapple I had pined for or some mozzarella or marinara, ANYTHING to divert my attention away from the fact that I am consuming massive nutritional disgust with no reward! I made it halfway through before I finally hit something other than burger or bread.
At that point I realized I had worked hard enough and it frankly wasn't worth any more effort. So my half eaten mess got graciously devoured by my co-worker who had just finished his first burger and I went in search of something more fat-free and fulfilling.

CONCLUSION: I was looking for something that packed a tasty and satisfying punch but instead got a caloric round-house kick to the face with neither taste nor satisfaction.

STAY TUNED AS MY SEARCH CONTINUES IN PART 2...

Ryan's Station

Positives
  1. clean, relaxing, inviting atmosphere
  2. being greeted and sat to our table by the owner who also took our drink orders (it's nice to see an owner or manager get his 'hands dirty' and be a part of the wait staff, something I rarely see anymore)
  3. stiff drinks (only if you order a tall! it is the same price as a regular and comes in a slightly larger glass than a regular which was roughly the size of a double shot glass, we learned our lesson!)
  4. The Pulled Pork Sandwich with Tillamook cheese that two of my co-workers SWEAR by and refuse to divert from each time we eat there. I will have to try it and review it someday since I have been underwhelmed with the other food I have had so far. But as of yet I will take their word for it and place it in the 'Positives'

Negatives
  1. does 'too cold' qualify in the summertime? We were fine but beware of being sat underneath the air conditioning vent. I witnessed a couple who requested to be moved before they froze to death.
  2. small portions...everything I've eaten there has just baaaaarely squeezed by filling me up. Now to some people eating enough just to that point of satisfaction without gorging is their cup of tea...well it's mine too (except on Thanksgiving) however I enjoy meals that I can take my leftovers home and use as another meal for lunch and dinner. Don't plan on that if you eat here.
  3. The Grilled Walleye sandwich set me back $8.25 and for the amount of advertising they do for this sandwich...HUGE disappointment. My tiny piece of mushy, bland fish only covered half the piece of whole wheat toast that it rested on. I didn't even use the other slice or else I wouldve been eating a toast sandwich. The jalapeno mayo tasted just like the regular kind, tomatoes were mushy, and I didn't even notice the lettuce. Did I eat all 5 bites of it? Yes, I did. Will I order it again? a Resounding NO!

The Sting Sports Bar - Part 2

Ok, so last night's rant may have come from a slightly disgruntled, Jager-fueled mindset but I awoke at 5 this morning (2.5 hours earlier than my normal weekday time) realizing I'M NOT DONE.

So I wrote down some actual food reviews.

"The Sting" Pizza (mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, and some other stuff)
  1. Have you ever seen the episode of The Simpsons where Homer wipes a piece of fried chicken on the wall of a restaurant and its grease creates a window to the outside world? THE STING PIZZA!
  2. It takes me no less than 14.7 napkins to successfully remove roughly 25% of the oil from one tiny piece. (Yes, I am a pizza dabber) It's the kind of pizza that once you finish and the waitress takes your empty dishes the oil has penetrated not only the wax paper it sat on but also the metal tray beneath it, the concrete table, and quite possibly the Earth's crust.
  3. The mushrooms have the consistency of a rubber drain stopper. (I must have some repressed culinary experience from my early childhood.)
  4. Regardless I have coworkers who are shamelessly addicted to this pizza and are willing to fork over the $17.50 on a regular basis to enjoy all of its greasy goodness.
Boneless Hot Wings
  1. Ahh, Wing Wednesday...the bain of my existence. You promise me a discount and mouth watering hot wings, but only deliver me overpowering, tangy, vinegar-laded hot sauce and an extra 25 cents in my pocket. I have kept returning to you week after week hoping the recipe would improve, tricking myself into believing it was just an accidental miscalculation of ingredients, yet I get proven wrong every time.
  2. For $7.50 and 10 wings, its certainly a moderately priced, shareable appetizer, but don't say I didn't warn you about the sauce that has me strangely addicted.
  3. The extra plates, napkins, and wet wipes brought out in advance are welcomed, useful, necessary, and appreciated!
Chicken Breast Sandwich
  1. Probably the most nutritious item you will find on the menu, this sandwich is an old standby that I have disappointingly wavered from with unsatisfying results. When ordered with a side salad (which is included) it is enough to split with a partner and still feel satisfied while also allowing me a much less bloated, guilty, grease-laden conscience, which typically plagues me after devouring aforementioned food.
  2. The tender, juicy chicken is usually twice the size of the large, toasted bun it lies on and does require some surgical techniques to split the sandwich into 2 equal portions, but no complaints there!
  3. The mayo comes in a handy single serving packet which provides enough coverage for my tastes, but some people may be left desiring more.
  4. Only complaint, The Sting, do you really have to charge an extra 50 cents for lettuce and tomato? Shouldn't these sandwich staples be provided on the side...(deep breath, cover your ears for these forbidden words) FREE OF CHARGE? I know it's a novel idea that your menu-pricing mastermind represses, but can't you do ANYTHING nice for your loyal customer's pocketbooks?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Sting Sports Bar

Positives
  1. non-smoking atmosphere
  2. watching the Thrillbillies perform classic songs (especially when the fiddle player joins)
  3. family friendly approach (where else can I as a child-free adult hear the screaming sounds of children while drinking beer at 10pm?)
  4. waitresses who are friendly yet complain about how DEAD it is at every beck and call but once we pay our tabs refuse to acknowledge our existence even though another friend has showed up and we want to order more drinks, and it's NOT because of a cheap tip unless 20-30% qualifies as cheap
  5. ok, so maybe there are only two positives and one is a crapshoot...

Negatives
  1. High prices ($8.25 for 6 lemon size potato skins?)
  2. The fact that my friend has been a 3x week patron for 8 years yet has NEVER been offered a free drink and is even refused one, the first time he asks?
  3. The premise that I am told by the bartender that the reason is 'the owner' likes to be paid for his alcohol and to contact him about it...yet I ask for his a. email address, b. mailing address, c. phone number...and am greeted with a. im not sure, b. the sting, c. 727-7972
  4. call the one bit of information i have...only to be answered as 'the sting, how can i help you' OK so I made the 'how can i help you' part up
  5. the fact that we (my boyfriend, I, and coworkers) have spent thousands of dollars at this place over the past year alone and are provided with what incentive to entice ourselves or others to be repeat customers?