Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Stango's Coffee Shop

Address: 221 South Chadbourne Street, San Angelo, Texas 76903. 325.659.8999.

Review: First things first, Stango's isn't a coffee shop, at least not in the modern sense of the phrase. It's more an old-timey soda fountain than anything else. And while I don't normally comment on ambiance, Stango's is filled with kitsch (in the good sense) from the past and old video and pinball games. It's a fun place to hang. Now, on to the food.

The lion's share of Stango's menu is dedicated to sodas and ice cream dishes. Sandwiches are about the only savory dishes served. I ordered the roast beef on wheat. 

The bread was solid, although not particularly toothsome. (My wife ordered the Italian on white, and the white bread was superior to my wheat.) The roast beef was a good deli quality roast beef, and the horseradish mayo, a classic accompaniment helped round things out. My favorite part of any deli-style sandwich is the pickle, and the pickle was quality. All around, a solid sandwich.

For those who don't know, San Angelo tap water tastes like death. Honestly, it's just plain awful. So, while I'm in San Angelo I have learned to drink soda the entire time. Today's soda choice was Diet Coke. Now, most soda shoot out of a mixing system in perfect industrial ratios, but not at Stango's. The nice woman behind the counter mixed the syrup with water and then added the soda water at the end. It was all very 1930s, and it was nice to see. The result is a soda with less carbonation and more syrup. Good stuff.

My wife and son bought an ice cream cone, of which I did not partake, but about which they said good things. My son also enjoyed his very first pinball game.

Solid, fun place for lunch or dessert.

Rating: 6/10

Stango's Coffee Shop on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Address: 10722 South River Front Parkway, South Jordan, Utah 84095. 801.748.1178.

Review: Utah. Sushi. One of these things is not like the other. Well, actually, both of these things are not like the other. 

A week or so ago, we, as University of Nebraska Law School alums, invaded Tsunami during the lunch hour to get our sushi on. Since two members of our group served their Mormon missions in Tokyo, and since they picked the restaurant, I harbored higher-than-normal hopes for sushi in the Intermountain West. 

I began with the sashimi sampler. 

To be honest, I don't know enough about sushi and sashimi to give them an in-depth analysis. I just know I like them, and this sashimi I liked. The fish, while obviously not abundantly fresh, was still fresh as you can expect under the circumstances. The wasabi was light and wonderful. (I received assurances from the waiter that the wasabi was actually freshly grated wasabi, as opposed to the normal paste crap you get in supermarkets or other low-end Japanese restaurants.) The soy sauce was flavorful and not too salty. 

I followed my friend John's lead on the sushi and ordered what he ordered. One roll was blue fin tuna and nothing more. Simple. Unadorned. Great. The other was a fried roll, which I was somewhat reticent about, what with it being fried and all. It was the D.T.H. roll. It contained tuna, salmon (an odd choice for sushi far as I'm concerned, but that's because my father ran a salmon hatchery when I was a child), and yellowfin. It was warm, but none of the fish was cooked. While I prefer the purity of nigri, sushi, and unfried rolls, this was pretty good, and the crunch was a nice textural element not normally present. 

All in all, an enjoyable sushi meal.

Rating: 6.5/10 (5/10 is average).

Tsunami - River Park on Urbanspoon

Cork and Pig

Address: 2201 Knickerbocker Road, San Angelo, Texas 76904. 325.227.6988.

Review: Where, oh where, to eat in San Angelo, Texas? It's not in the Hill Country, so barbecue isn't king. It's not south enough to have great Tex Mex. It's sort of in the center of Texas, without a culinary identity.

Today, we tried Cork and Pig. Standard American fare, and quite a few specialty pizzas, were on the menu. 

I ordered the Cuban sandwich, which came with a roasted peanut coleslaw.

Let's begin by extolling the virtues of the coleslaw. Coleslaw is so often a gloopy, mayonnaisey mess. Not this. This coleslaw was light, crunchy, and full of interesting flavor. The roasted peanuts gave the dish a pad thai feel. I've never experienced a coleslaw like this before, and I'd love to experience it again, and again, and again.

The sandwich was not as successful as the slaw. Cuban sandwiches are all about contrast. Contrast of the fatty soft roasted pork with the acidic pickles, and the fatty ham with the mustard. The bread (the most important component of any sandwich) is pressed and grilled and dense. While the pork in this sandwich was beautifully roasted and flavorful, I was completely unable to taste the ham. The contrasting elements (i.e., the pickles and mustard) weren't prominent at all. Like the ham, I couldn't taste the Swiss cheese. I knew there was cheese, but it could have been mozzarella or any other mild cheese. The bread wasn't entirely pressed, and portions tasted like Wonder Bread.

I also partook of my brother-in-law's Southwestern pizza. I'm going to assume because they had pizzas like Margherita D.O.C. and the like, that they were going for a Neapolitan-style pizza. If that is the case, then the pizza was entirely unsuccessful. The crust had huge air pockets (which are very easy fixed). It was also thick and tough. The roasted green chiles were tasteless, so the only prominent flavor present was the pepperoni. The cheese was exceedingly mild, as was the cream sauce. It was all just bland.

My wife ordered the cheeseburger. Quickly, it needed salt, lots of salt. The bun was the best component of the dish. Toothy and structurally sound. The rest was, well, bland. Meh.

So, again I query: where, oh where, to eat in San Angelo, Texas?

Rating: 5/10 (5/10 is average).

Cork and Pig on Urbanspoon

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Ekamai Thai

Address: 1405 E 2100 S, Salt Lake City, Utah 84105. 801.906.0908.

Review: Sometimes you go to a restaurant and have a few things, and when you think about it after the meal, you say to yourself, "Wow, I wish I had just ordered five plates of X." That's how I felt when my buddy Dan and I ate at Ekamai Thai, so I'm going to focus on the X dish.

In this case, X stands for fried calamari. (Noted: I love that a Thai restaurant calls the dish fried calamari, since calamari is an Italian word which somehow became popularized in America even though we could utilize the perfectly legitimate English word squid.) The calamari (see, there I go again) was all rings battered and fried in a very light and crunchy panko-style batter. It was accompanied by a sweet cilantro sauce. Initially, I wasn't altogether sure about the sauce. I like cilantro, but it overpowers easily, and I've never thought it went particularly well with seafood. The sauce was light and not overpowering at all, however. I was surprised how well it married with the ultra-light calamari. Not sure if it was the unexpectedness of liking the sauce so much, but this was one of the better calamari preparation I've eaten. And I say this as one who actually prefers the legs of the calamari to the rings. One can only imagine what this recipe would taste like if Utah were located next to a calamari-rich ocean. 

Wonderful dish.

Rating: Hot dang good fried calamari/10. 

Ekamai Thai on Urbanspoon