Tag Archives: chain restaurants

Tavern in the Square Porter: Family Feud

3 Sep

As the mercury rose into the mid-90’s, Tavern in the Square seemed like an excellent place to gratuitously mooch AC…and to engage in our first patrol in our new ‘hood.  But quickly after settling in, our safe haven revealed a more sinister side.  The menu seemed….suspiciously familiar.  Flipping to the back, we realized that the Tavern in the Squares are related to both Joshua Tree and CitySide, which, to put it nicely, are not exactly two of our favorite places.  Despite assurances that the Taverns are a little more upscale, the description of Tavern’s buffalo chicken nachos was IDENTICAL to those found at CitySide– a 7/40 monstrosity that is to date, the worst-rated plate of nachos we have ever tasted.  To say the least, we were skeptical…

  • Appearance: (6) We immediately questioned the structural integrity.  Why piled so high? Why not a bigger plate?  Why so much sour cream? And why the lettuce?? So many question marks, and not enough exclamation points.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (7)Nothing particularly stood out, other than the chips, which were dense, crispy and salty.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (6) We’ve finally found a use for the dreaded shredded lettuce: it makes a barrier against the even more dreaded sour cream hat, and allow for easier removal of the offending condiment!  In other news, there was a lot of cheese but the the tall, packed mass of chips made it near impossible for it to get everywhere.  The chili was on top, making it hard to grab chips without taking them from the bottom and risking collapse, reminding us once again of Jenga!
  • Price: (7)Expectedly overpriced at $12, but still too big for us to finish.
  • Overall: 26/40.  Yet another average nacho.  You may be better off trying some of their more interesting apps.

Dear Tavern in the Square/Joshua Tree/CitySide’s parents: We are seriously disappointed with your offspring.  They are no longer invited over to play.

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Volcano-No and the American Psyche

20 May

Taco Bell’s Volcano Nachos are not your average hate-to-love-it dish. When every fiber of your being fights against that first bite, you know you’re supposed to listen. And you know that first chip will just sell your soul back to the depths of Fast Food hell… at least until the last scrap of chip has been used to scoop up that plasticky cheese straight into the narrowing arteries of your body.

62 grams of self-hate available from your neighborhood  drive-throughTo prevent you from ever doing it again, Nacho Patrol bit this tough bullet with a breakdown of Taco Bell’s “super-spicy” insult to the culinary heaven of nachos. Loathe are we to include a few nutritional facts, but with the temptation of $3.50 nachos looming in the outskirts of Boston, we think it’s for your own good. It’s the only item on the Taco Bell menu with a four-digit calorie value at a delicate, even thousand. It’s also one of only 5 items with over 1900mg of sodium. Finally (the faint of heart may want to skip this), it’s the menu-topper for total fat at 62 grams.

Appearance: (7) Unnaturally bright and beautiful colors, but grease-laden chips makes for a mixed bag.

Quality of Ingredients: (6) Now, our readers know we love salt (we may tend to sprinkle it on our toothpaste just to get our first dose in the morning) but this is salty overkill. There’s no REAL part of a cow that grinds into the symmetric round balls that they claim is ground beef. The cheese sauce is instantly a noticeably hindering presence in your veins. The veggies are surprisingly flavorful.

Distribution: (7) The pile of ingredients on top leaves dry chips underneath, but there’s still plenty of topping to go around. You may even get a nasty hardened pool of cheese at the bottom if you’re lucky.

Price: (1) For the damage a patroller is doing to her taste buds, her girlish figure, her life expectancy, and her self-respect, the price of these nachos definitely needs to be more deterring.

Overall: (21) Taco Bell, we hate to love you for our late-night, dirty nacho fixes that leave us saddened and bewildered the next morning. You are a patrollers ultimate date rape, and we never want to see you again (but let’s face it…).

Dearth in Venice–of nachos

12 May

Venice is the land of canals, Rennaisance grandeur, and—these days—decaying buildings.  It’s as if Disney built a theme park on the glories of power in the 1500’s, and then left it to slowly crumble.  All the employees are still on the payroll and you can ride around in boats, but the maintenance crews have been off smoking cigs for the past 300 years.

But we digress from the nachos sitting gloriously before us. YES, there are nachos in Venice if you consider sitting in a Hard Rock Cafe off San Marco Square being in Venice.   It’s a bit like visiting a McD’s while touring Tibet.  We felt guilty forgoing more traditional Italian cuisine for the evening.  And yet, duty calls. Couldn’t amazing Italian nachos be possible? We’re thinking something simple and elegant: fresh melted mozzarella, juicy chopped tomatoes, and plenty of olives.

Alas, those were not the nachos are Hard Rock. Instead, we got a plate of truly American nachos, right down to the imported cheese. Words such as “adequate,” “enjoyable” and “boring” come to mind.

Appearance (7): At first glance, these nachos exceeded expectations. There appeared to be an abundance of cheese, ample guacamole and fresh veggies.  The portion size was also quite substantial for Europe.

Quality of Ingredients (6): The ingredients were remarkably American, and probably all imported from the USA. (Might explain the rather outlandish cost!) Apparently, the cheese in Italy just isn’t good enough for Hard Rock. Fresh and flavorful is so not cool, so they use medium cheddar and monterey jack that were probably pre-shredded at the factory. The chips were corn, and slightly greasy but not stale.  There were pinto beans and jalapenos,  also from cans. The highlight was the guacamole and salsa we ordered for an extra 2 Euros.  We didn’t see avocados for sale in the local markets, and were surprised how good they were.  Imports or not, the guacamole was fantastic.

Distribution (7): We were pleasantly surprised again. The pinto beans were on the bottom layer. Cheese, sour cream, tomatoes and jalapenos covered the top. We had a good balance between the chips and toppings. As we dug in, the cheese began to cool down and some of the chips became soggy. However, that may have been more related to our leisurely eating than design faults.

Price (4): This was the most expensive plate of nachos we’ve ever reviewed: 12.25 Euro plus 2 Euro for guacamole. If we’d added pulled pork or chicken, it would have been another 4 Euros. At today’s exchange rate, we paid $18!  That said, given the location and the brand these are actually not that bad. In Venice, a coke costs 4 Euro at most cafes. (It’s actually cheaper to just order wine usually!)

Overall (24): No one will be singing arias over these nachos, but they are definitely adequate for patrolers needing a reassuring fix in a faraway place. We’re holding out for some true Italian nachos. If they’re out there, we’ll find them. Hopefully before global warming puts Venice and much of the surrounding area under water.