Long Overdue Review of Steak Out

We travel often, and most of the time, if we are stopping somewhere overnight, we are stopping late at night, and don’t need to get anything to eat.  If we have stopped at a hotel at dinner time, we usually just order pizza, since it’s readily available wherever we stop and easy to eat.

On our recent trip down to Florida over Easter, we stopped a little earlier than we normally would have, since the plan was to head to Ft. Lauderdale – a longer way away than our usual trip.  It was dinner time, and we had a pocket full of coupons for CiCi’s pizza, so we didn’t want to order pizza for this meal.  Jim asked at the front desk for suggestions, and one of the brochures we were given was for JT Steaks – a steak dinner delivery service.

I want to start this review by saying the total bill came to less than $45.  If we had gone to Outback – all 5 of us – the bill would have easily been closer to $100.  The dinners we ordered were pretty complete meals – you got a green salad with your choice of dressing, the steak, a warm roll, and a baked potato.  The brochure they gave us at the front desk had a coupon for 2 free sweet teas, so we had the two drinks included. 

We ordered 3 steak dinners – a 12 ounce ribeye, and 2 six ounce ribeyes.  The meals were delivered piping hot, and the steaks – ordered medium for the 12 ounce and one six ounce and medium well for the other six ounce – were cooked perfectly.  The baked potatoes were steaming hot, wrapped in foil, and came with a generous supply of individually wrapped butter, margerine, and sour cream.  There was also the individually packaged salad dressings – like you would get in the fast food restaurants, and steak sauce.  We also ordered a skewer of shrimp, and 6 perfectly grilled medium sized shrimp accompanied our order.

The steaks were delicious!  Well seasoned, cooked as ordered, tender and juicy.  The only complaint I might have is that there was a little more gristle on the edges of the steak that you might not get at a nice, sit down restaurant, but it certainly wasn’t enough to detract from the taste.  The potatoes were so good, definitely not tasting like microwaved baked potatoes, that even the little kids – who do not generally eat potatoes at home – were digging in to the butter topped fluffy goodness.  The salads were generously portioned, and a nice complement to the steak dinner.

You can add grilled onions and mushrooms to any dish, and for those who are not steak lovers, they offer grilled shrimp and chicken in addition to several sandwiches.  There is also a limited kids’ menu – burgers and chicken nuggets – but our kids are steak eaters, so there was no point ordering kids meals for them.

We were pleasantly surprised by the great meal we had from this restaurant.  When we lived in Orlando many years ago, there was a Steak-Out franchise on the far side of the city that we often talked about trying some time, but we never did.  I’m glad we got the opportunity to do it during this vacation, because I don’t think the Orlando franchise is there anymore.  The meal was delivered in about an hour – just enough time for the girls to enjoy the pool and work up an appetite, and the delivery service was polite.  This is definitely some place we would order from again.

Ming Kui Lau Chinese Buffet – A Gastric Bypass Restaurant Review

This was one of our favorite places to go for a casual, cheap family meal on the weekends before my gastric bypass surgery.  It probably was a big part of the reason I NEEDED gastric bypass surgery.  Ming Kui Lau is in the same parking lot as our bank, and I have to admit, when we pulled into the bank last week to make a deposit, and Jim suggested we go in and have dinner, I was nervous.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t find anything pouch-worthy to eat, and I was really nervous that I would find too much that I could eat and fall into old patterns and bad habits that would affect my current weight.  How this affects my habits from this time forward remains to be seen, but I did find a few things I could eat.  And I enjoyed my meal.

I try generally to avoid fried and breaded foods.  Well, it’s a Chinese buffet, so half the stuff there is going to be fried/breaded/drowned in sauce.  So after deciding I might have to eat some fried stuff, I sought out the things that would be most beneficial to me.  When you go in, there are 5 buffet stations.  On your left, there is a salad bar and cold seafood bar (okay, there were only peel and eat shrimp and mussels), and a hot buffet with a selection of soups and some very UN-Chinese entrees.  This particular night, there was pre-made fajitas, shrimp scampi, roast turkey breast, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and some other offerings.  The one thing on this part of the buffet that I enjoyed were the steamed crab legs.  You definitely got tiny pieces of crab, and I had the misfortune of going to this buffet on the same night as some jerk who felt it was his right and obligation to COMPLETELY EMPTY the tray when he went to the buffet, but it wasn’t over cooked and crab is a food I can eat pretty easily, so I enjoyed the few small pieces I was able to grab in between the jerk’s visits.

On your right, there is a buffet against the wall that offers most of the fried foods.  You’ll find fried chicken, egg rolls, french fries, onion rings, chunks of hot dogs wrapped in bacon, fried scallops, fried imitation crab leg meat, and fried crab claws.   I chose two scallops, which didn’t appear too heavily breaded, and one of the crab claws, figuring they were both foods that I knew I could comfortably eat that would be packed with protein.  If worse came to worse, I thought I could peel the breading off, and just eat the seafood underneath.  I also took one piece of the fried faux crab, mostly because you could see the pink color under the breading, so I assumed that would be a safe choice.

Alongside the fried food, there is a selection of fresh fruit, jello, pudding, and what looks like flan.  Behind this buffet, there is another station of all Chinese food.  You’ll find typical Americanized Chinese food here – sweet and sour chicken, dumplings, chicken teriyaki, boneless spare ribs, Chinese vegetables, fried rice, lo mein, etc.  I cruised through the line, and picked out some more artificial crab out of a dish called simply “seafood in butter”.  It looked like the Krab, small shrimp, and some thin white fish floating in butter, but I let the butter drain off as much as I could back into the tray before dropping it on my plate.  There were mussels in black bean sauce, which I used to enjoy, but mussels can be a little tough, so I skipped them.

Also on this side is the dessert and sushi station.  The desserts include a smooth and creamy soft serve ice cream – vanilla, chocolate, or swirl; a collection of bite sized cakes – which tonight include a carrot cake and a yellow cake with a white and raspberry frosting, and at least two other selections.  Then there are premade sushi rolls – simple ones, but I didn’t try those because rice is not always my friend.

The food I tried tasted good – with the possible exception of the fried Krab thing.  I chose not to finish the fried crab claw, because it was not really “breaded” so much as it was probably crabmeat, chopped up, mixed with breading, and deep fried.  There was no way to separate the crab from the bread.  The scallops were really tasty, and I ended up eating them with the breading on them, because it wasn’t that heavy.  The seafood in butter was tasty, but I knew I was limited to one small portion of that due to the amount of butter sauce it was in.

Jim stuck to the most benign things you can find in this type of environment – seafood options and vegetables – but this is certainly not the best place to go for healthy food choices.  I think even he realized, though, that we cannot go back to eating here like we used to, but for a once in a great while treat, it was okay.

Eilis, who loved this restaurant on previous visits, loved it again this time.  She tried more things, I think, than she has in the past, and she really steered clear of the American foods and opted for more of the Asian things.  But, she is her mother’s daughter and found the most appeal in the fried and heavily sauced things.

It was $12 for Jim and I, and $7 for each of the kids.  That puts it around the same price as the diner, but you have control over the amount you put on your plate here.  The biggest difference is that we usually end up with a few doggy bags from the diner, so for the same price, we generally eat another meal out of the leftovers.

I say go.  They seem to keep it pretty clean here, and you don’t have one dedicated waiter – anyone who sees your glass is empty will come by and fill it for you.  The food is good, typical Chinese American food, and even if you are watching what you eat, you can find SOMETHING to eat here.

My Eyes Is Pink

Granuaile started going to daycare three days a week in January.  This was supposed to be so I could catch up on things, but I took on some writing assignments that consumed my life and I didn’t actually get anything caught up.  I digress…

So we took a nice vacation over Easter break, taking Granuaile out of school for almost two weeks so we could go to Florida.  She went to the beach, she played in the sand, she jumped in the waves, she visited Grandmom and Pop-pop, she went to Universal, she went to Disney.  And then it was time to come home to go back to school.  And she hates it.  No, I mean she REALLY hates it.  She cries every morning, claims she doesn’t have school, and in recent days, has taken to reciting a litany of medical ailments that are keeping her from being able to go to school.  Here’s some of the list, in her own words:

My Eyes is Pink (meaning “I have Pink-eye”)

My feet have bleed (“My feet are bleeding”)

I have a bad cough

My backs is hurting

My wegs are too wittle to walk in my school (“My legs are too little to walk into school”)

And it continues. 

She didn’t cry at all during school yesterday, and was smiling, happy and playing when I picked her up.  I thought we had turned a corner, but today, on my way out, she grabbed me around the legs and clung with a death grip until Miss Nicole pried her off. 

She’s running out of ailments to recite, but she’s also only got a few more weeks of school.  We’ll see what happens in September.

Blogging Day!

I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to blog about, and so little time to do it, that I thought I’d put aside a few other things and blog this morning.  I have receipts on my desk from meals I wanted to write about, and recipes I thought I could post, and notes about things the kids said and did that were blog-worthy that I have to sort through.  I don’t know that anything will be particularly clever today, but I hope to get through some of the pile!