Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Hot Dog Shoppe: Located in Warren, Ohio

Restaurant Reviewed: The Hot Dog Shoppe, 740 West Market Street, Warren, Ohio 44481

Family Friendly: Yes

Recommended to others: Yes

Why? Excellent customer service, extrodinary food, and amazingly low prices

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We went to Ohio to visit my mother and some family in March. It had been over a year the last time I had been at The Hot Dog Shoppe (which is torture if you have ever had their hot dogs). Many people that have never been to The Hot Dog Shoppe don't understand what the big deal is about their hot dogs. I'll let you in on a secret...it's the chili! Once you try a hot dog like that you can't eat any other kind! I'm getting off track, so let me go over our visit.

We stopped in about an hour before closing. To tell you the truth I was expecting sighs from teenagers that wanted to go home. We walked in and the place was still really packed, and more kept coming in! We got amazing customer service, and not even five minutes later we had our order, and it was correct!

Their prices are extremely reasonable. It's under a dollar for a hot dog. I believe it was the same for a chili and cheese dog, and i think it's a tad over a dollar for a kraut dog. Everything is sooooo good!

It's great to take the kids there because what kid doesn't like hot dogs? You can get plain ones for the kiddos, that way you don't have to pretreat chili stained clothes. The chili isn't spicy, it just has amazing flavor! Also try the chili cheese fries. You will never taste anything that compares to these chili cheese fries!

The Hot Dog Shoppe is also the only restaurant I know of that sells cherry Fanta. If you go, you've gotta get this! Just try everything on the menu! We walked out spending close to $15 for two boxes full of hotdogs, and a family size order of chili cheese fries. Their family size is truly a family size. You definately get what you pay for.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chen Garden: Located in Karns, Tennessee

Restaurant Reviewed: Chen Garden, 7658 Oak Ridge Highway, Knoxville (Karns), TN 37931

Family Friendly: Yes

Recommended to Others: Yes

Why? Great food, excellent service, reasonable prices

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One of the first restaurant themes we sought out after moving to Tennessee two years ago was a good Chinese food restaurant. Chen Garden has consistently exceeded our expectations, and now despite several other Chinese restaurants being closer to us, we always return to Chen Garden when we are in the mood for Chinese food.

We have tried many of the dishes offered, including: Shrimp Lo Mein, General Tso's Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Sweet and Sour Pork, Beef with Mushrooms, Chicken with Broccoli, Pepper Steak, Kung Pao Shrimp, Kung Pao Chicken and egg rolls. Everything we have eaten from this restaurant has been absolutely delicious. It is perfectly seasoned and the meats have been tender and juicy. In addition, they use deveined shrimp, which as any shrimp connoisseur recognizes, makes for a much better dinner experience.

The staff are friendly and efficient. They greet each customer as soon as they enter the restaurant, and even held the door for me when I was leaving with our last order. We often order quite a bit of food and even when they are busy the food comes out fast, hot and the orders are filled accurately.

Finally, the prices are very reasonable for the portions offered. It is no more expensive than fast food "value" meals, yet is probably healthier than most burger restaurant meals. I would highly recommend Chen Garden to anyone in the Greater Knoxville area that is looking for great Chinese food at reasonable prices served by an excellent staff.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Shrimp Dock: Located in Farragut, TN

Retail/Restaurant Reviewed: The Shrimp Dock, Located at 11124 Kingston Pike, Suite 111, Knoxville, TN 37934


Family Friendly: No


Recommended to others: No


Why?: Rude, unfriendly service, felt rushed, customer discrimination based on appearance

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Some of you may be wondering why I put customer discrimination above. Based on our trip to The Shrimp Dock, we felt discriminated against.

We have seen commercials on TV for The Shrimp Dock, and was wanting to try their fresh fish. So when we were running a few errands we were close to the Kingston Pike store and decided to stop to get some fresh fish for dinner on Wednesday afternoon.

When we walked in an employee was joking and laughing with a customer at the register while the employee was getting the woman her purchase. After the woman had left the smile faded from the employee's face with a smug unwelcoming look replacing it. This look was directed toward me, my husband, and my daughters.

We had stopped at the park earlier, so everyone was not dressed in their Sunday best so to say. We were in jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes.

We were looking at the different selections of fish they had around the store since it was our first time in this store. With a tone in her voice saying that we were inconveniencing her she said "Can I help you?"

We answered saying we were looking around. She stayed at the register just staring at us, which made us feel quite uncomfortable.

We found the fresh fish case with Mahi-Mahi and some beautiful fillets of Tilapia. They were quite large, and had a beautiful color to them.

When we were trying to decide which fish we wanted the employee offered our daughters a necklace from a treasure chest. In my opinion, this was their only redeeming factor. However, it does not make up for how horrible the service was, or how we were overall treated.

After we retrieved the necklaces from the treasure chest by the door, we went back over to the fish case. While we were deciding my husband was looking at the chart hanging beside the case.

Just then a man dressed quite nicely walked in. Her smile returned and she ignored us to ask if she could help him, even though we knew what fillets we wanted and were ready to be checked out.

The man asked if he could speak to the owner, then her smile disappeared as she answered " I AM the owner" with quite a bit of attitude added to her tone. The man simply said he just wanted to leave a card with her, and he left.

She then turned to us and asked us very smugly and with a touch of attitude if we knew what we wanted. We told her we would take four of the Tilapia fillets.

While she was putting the fillets in a bag I had given her a compliment on her fillets saying " I don't think I've ever seen Tilapia fillets that big before! They look really good." She responded by almost yelling at me saying " They are!"

Overall, the fish looked amazing, though it was a bit overpriced. We felt rushed, unwelcome, and discriminated against. I would've given them another chance, but after finding out that the woman at the register was the owner I can only imagine how the rest of the staff treats paying customers. I can guarantee that I won't spend another cent or waste another minute of my time at The Shrimp Dock.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Old Home Place: Located in Knoxville TN

Restaurant Reviewed:

The old home place, located at 1506 Callahan Drive Knoxville TN, specializes in home cooking.

Family Friendly: No

Recommend to others: No

Why?: Bad customer service, food okay, but not worth the price
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My husband and I had been wanting to try the new restaurant, since believe it or not, there are not many down home cooking restaurants in Knoxville as you would suspect there would be.

One bright beautiful afternoon we took our three daughters there to have lunch. Looking at the restaurant from the outside it was adorable, even if the parking lot was a little small. Once inside however, you did not feel at home.

Everyone was starving, so we ordered some cheesy bread, fried zuccini, and mozerella sticks from their appetizer menu. After waiting for half an hour for our cheesy bread and the mozerella sticks we were expecting more than about five pieces of the frozen kind of bread sticks with a little bit of cheese sprinkled on top. The mozerella sticks weren't much better, and only four were served with the appetizer. The zuccini would've been delicious if it had been cooked thouroghly.

We had already ordered or we would've left right then. I would've understood if it took a half hour to get our food out to us if it had been busy in the restaurant, but it wasn't. In fact, there was only one other table that was seated with three people. I believe there is no excuse for our food taking this long, especially when it wasn't cooked all the way and there was hardly anything to cook.

Their menu, although it included 'kids meals' was not kid friendly. About the only thing my kids would eat off of the menu was speghetti or hot dogs. For the price they were charging at the portion they were served was outrageous.

My husband ordered the meatloaf with mashed potatoes. The meatloaf was tasteless, and the mashed potatoes were underseasoned. I on the other hand ordered a shrimp basket. I REALLY wish I hadn't. We had wasted quite a bit of money on that tiny shrimp basket. Let me explain.

To start off with, the shrimp were extremely tiny, there were very little in the basket, and the shrimp they serve are NOT deveined. To those of you who are wondering what deveining is or why it's such a big deal that they didn't devein the shrimp, I will go into more detail just for you.

Deveining is a process where the vein in the back of the shrimp is removed. This is VERY important since this is, I'm going to be blunt, the shrimps' poop chute. So unless you like eating poop, make sure before you order shrimp that you ask if it is deveined. I forgot to ask that day and ended up wasting quite a bit of money.

The only good thing about this visit to the Old Home Place was that we had come in on a day where you got a free desert. I also have to say that the bread they served before we even got appatizers was quite good also. However, the desert and bread did not make up for the horrible service. And I'm sure you'll agree that a few pieces of bread and two slices of pie was not worth our over $50 check that didn't include a tip.

With the service and food that we had recieved from the Old Home Place, I don't expect it to be around for long.