Saturday, March 31, 2012

6 weeks in, I chat with Jerry Built Burgers' Brooksy Smith

Affable Restaurateur, Brooksy Smith, One of the
5 Partners that own and operate Jerry Built Burgers 
Recently I was informed by Brooksy Smith of Jerry Built Burgers contacted me to inform me that their Woodland's location located at 1335 Lake Woodlands Dr. would be opening up on March 31st, just 6 weeks after their first location at 3501 Holcombe had opened.  Brooksy invited me to come out to the new location for a preview and to talk a bit about some of what he learned in the first 6 weeks of the Holcombe location being opened.  Since eating there when they first opened, Jerry Built has become part of my regular rotation of burger joints that my son and I enjoy.  And I'm always up to get the inside scoop on the restaurants I love, so I gladly accepted.

When my son Jason and I paid the visit, they were putting the finishing touches on their marquis sign and getting their last round of staff training done.  I was able to see their larger dining room (5500 vs. 4500 at their Holcombe location), and get a feel for some of the knowledge Brooksy Smith, Jerry & Chad Glauser and the rest of the gang had learned over the past 6 weeks.

Every Thursday it Gets Better


Blueberry Skinny Lemonade
A Dr. Oz Inspiration
This is something Brooksy said during our visit that I was very happy to hear.  I have made a few discreet visits to Jerry Built since their grand opening on Feb. 18th.  These have largely been late Friday night, Sunday brunch or weekend afternoons.  Every time I have come in, the Holcombe location has been busy, cranking out home grown burgers, hot dogs, fries and such.

In my experience, what usually gives a good local place like Jerry Built traction is a mixture of Word of Mouth and good press.  Jerry Built has gotten both, but thanks to social media, blogs and Twitter, the word of mouth has been a thousand fold.  There has also been a direct mail campaign where I've seen many a customer coming in with those black Jerry the Bull mailers to try a burger.  Every one of those customers has said they would be coming back.  I've also seen a fair number of Medical Students mixed with Rice University Students and Soccer Moms with full broods from West University Place.

Industrial bins and crinkler
at Jerry Built Burgers'
Woodlands location
Brooksy also dropped some good news about the parking situation at Holcombe:  he's getting ahold of some adjacent property and parking is going to increase TREMENDOUSLY by May.  This will be a relief for those of us that live closer to Holcombe, especially the lunch crowd that has passed the location by due to the full lot.

Brooksy also shared how they'd vastly underestimated the volume they'd be selling on their french fries.  They had to buy industrial-sized bins and an industrial-sized fry cutter.  These aren't the ones they use for restaurants;  they're the ones that Ore-ida and McCain's  potatoes use for making the stuff they freeze and sell to the public!  Brooksy was also good enough to admit that this was a nice problem to have in the restaurant business.

New Products and working up the learning curve


Customers have proven helpful to Brooksy and company on 2 levels:

Jason enjoying a Jerry Built dog
in front of blueberry skinny lemonade
and Ginger Bull Shake
One customer had noticed how the fries, which had been prepared properly, had turned mushy in the bag.  They made a few suggestions to Brooksy and some changes were made.  Specifically, a couple of the corners were cut out of the fry boxes, napkins no longer placed on top of them and bag tops no longer rolled shut.  This has kept the fries crisper and better tasting.

Another customer suggested a way to make sure day old Ginger-Bull cookies weren't wasted:  take yesterday's Ginger Bulls, crumble them up, mix them in a Vanilla shake and you now have their #1 shake at Holcombe:  The Ginger Bull shake.

Fried Egg Tomato Grilled Cheese
note the inverted bun!
Other Customers came up with an Ernie's Style Burger (with grilled onions in Ernie's sauce), a Grilled cheese sandwich with the buns inverted, and also a fried egg and tomato grilled cheese sandwich that my compatriot Michelle had while we sat and talked with Brooksy.

Dr. Oz also served as another inspirational source for a product.  Brooksy indicated that he'd heard Dr. Oz that blueberries are one of the superfoods we should all eat due to its antioxidant properties, and so he crushed them up and mixed them in with his fresh squeezed lemonade (regular or skinny, made with Splenda™).

I was given samples of the Ginger Bull Shake and the Blueberry skinny lemonade to try and I can say they are both very, very good and will probably have one of them the next time I swing by the Holcombe location.

Willing to Consider good ideas from Customers, within Reason


One of the main points I felt Brooksy made to me was that despite the challenges starting up a restaurant like this from scratch has been, he's been willing to listen to good ideas from customers that are within reason.  And if he's not able to go with an idea, request or suggestion, he's not ever going to say "I don't care."  He's going to explain the nature of the restaurant business and the considerations he has to make regarding food, cost and waste issues.  That's not something that a lot of restaurateurs would do, which goes to show as I've said before, Jerry Built Burgers is NOT just another burger joint.
Artwork inside the Woodlands location of Jerry Built

As an Economics Professor in my main life, I very much enjoyed a chance to talk about this business with one of the partners.  There were many insights I gained that I can use in my teaching and I was glad to get more info to share in the blog.

New Location in the Woodlands Opens March 31st


Saturday, March 31st, it opens.  It has the same great features of the Holcombe location:  the windows to watch the process, the in-house ground and crinkled fries, the in-house baked buns, the hand-jacuzzi washing station, but on a slightly larger scale.  I advise all my Northside Friends, Family Colleagues and Coworkers to pay them a visit at:
Same Jerry the Bull,
but Woodlands signage
restrictions make it a tad
smaller sign


1335 Lake Woodlands Dr.
The Woodlands, Texas 77380
281-367-2874

Sunday - Thursday 11:00AM – 9:00PM
Friday - Saturday 11:00AM – 10:00PM

Go there and

EAT HAPPY, Y'ALL!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Bernie's Burger Bus

It seems to be a food truck kind of Spring Break for the Hankster. I managed to catch Good Dog Hotdogs the other day and enjoyed them tremendously.  And now, as luck would have it, I was able to catch a ride on the gastronomic short bus known as Bernie's Burger Bus.  What's ironic was my daughter and I had gone over to Sugarbabys Cupcakes to try their couture cupcakes and Bernie's happened to be parked right out front.  We scored a 2-for!!!

Git on Da Burger Bus, Y'all!!!
Bernie's Philosophy, per their website is the following:
Bernie’s Burger Bus is taking the old school (no pun intended) approach to the classic American burger and fries joint – from scratch. From our fresh ground signature blend of three cuts of all natural Black Angus Beef, to the homemade ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, pickles, etc… Come experience an all natural, totally from scratch food experience made by people who just love good food for people who love to eat good food without all the chemicals, preservatives and fillers. Come see us for an amazing Burger Experience!
I had a little conversation with the operators today.  They confirmed with me a few facts:

1.  They grind a mixture of 60% Angus Ground Beef/40% Brisket Cuts

Homeroom Burger--Fried Egg! Yeah!
2.  They DO NOT use any Ammonia-Treated Beef.

3.  There is NO PINK AMMONIA SLIME in their hamburger meat.

Now that we've gotten those details sorted out, here is your burger blueprint:


Homeroom
Burger with Applewood Bacon, Cheddar
Tipsy Onion’s, Chipotle Aioli
Topped with a Fried Egg
on a freshly baked local artisan bun

I had my burger with their crispy fries.  Their menu includes a plethora of different burgers including a challenge called The Detention, as well as other kinds of fries.  I'm going to try the truffle-laced fries next time I catch the bus to be sure.

Now, for the meaty details of their Homeroom burger:  the meat had a sweet, semi-salty, buttery quality to it.  I was surprised when I found out it was Angus because the texture was more like Akaushi/American Kobe like that served at The Burger Guys.  The burger was well seasoned, but not overtly so.  The Chipolte Aioli was semi-spicy and semi sweet.  The Tipsy Onions were sweet like Vidalia but a tad stronger.  And the apple-wood bacon was crispy and tasty and worked well with the artisan bun.  This is by far the best burger I've had out of a Food Truck and has been inserted into my Top Houston Burgers at Number 5 now.  Well done, Bernie's Burger Bus.
Menu Boards on the Burger Bus and Me Waiting at the Burger Stop! 

Their fries were crispy, slightly salty, and natural cut, just like I like them.  They were crispy outside and yet soft inside.  I wonder if they use a 2-step Belgian frying method.  They'd be perfect for Poutine, or as is for a snack.  Again, well done Bernie's!!!

Note:  Food trucks usually don't get rated on ambiance.  However, the stickers, artwork and overall attitude got this one a rating!

The Foodie Professor's Report Card
Bernie's Burger Bus
Homeroom Burger: A+
Crispy Fries: A
Service: 
     Friendliness:  A+
     Speed:  A-
Cleanliness: A (took a hard look through the window and the open door--it was clean)
Ambiance: A
Overall Grade:  A


Bernie's operates for Lunch and Dinner at different locales in the Inner Loop of Houston Wednesday through Sunday.  Check Where's Bernie? and their Twitter account for details.

And remember:
Eat Happy!!!
Zao an, Y'all!!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Food for Thought: Pink Slime in your Burger--UPDATE

All corporate logos are owned and copywritten by their owners/parent company, and are used under FAIR USE CLAUSE.
Any unattributed images are from Hank Lewis or HankOnFood.com unless stated otherwise.  

Pink Slime
(c) Associate Press
SEE UPDATES ON SOME ELEMENTS BELOW IN RED.

All of my regular readers know how much I love a really good burger. This whole blog started over a debate as to what were the best burgers in Houston. I recently made a list of my top Houston Burgers on the sidebar after a suggestion from a colleague at work. While I love all kinds of food and will ramble on about the elegance of Montreal smoked meat, extol the virtues of proper sushi and go gaga over smoked Brussels sprouts at Uchi, the Venerable Hamburger is a great love of mine, as well as that of many Americans, Canadians and others. 
However, our favourite sandwich has been the subject of much controversy due to an ingredient used as a filler that has turned my stomach and those of many other burger lovers.  In fact, much has been on the news about Pink Ammonia Slime.  Not since Marvin Zindler began referring to "Slime in the Ice Machine" has such a word made me feel so nauseous.  



What is Pink Ammonia Slime?

The controversy centers on "lean finely textured beef," a low-cost ingredient in ground beef made from fatty bits of meat left over from other cuts. The bits are heated to about 100 F and spun to remove most of the fat. The lean mix then is compressed into blocks for use in ground meat. The product, made by South Dakota-based Beef Products Inc., also is exposed to "a puff of ammonium hydroxide gas" to kill bacteria, such as E. coli and salmonella.  It has been used as a major ingredient in DOG FOOD (Meat AND Meat byproducts, not just for Alpo, eh?)

There are no precise numbers on how prevalent the product is, and it does not have to be labeled as an ingredient. Past estimates have ranged as high as 70 percent; one industry officials estimates it is in at least half of the ground meat and burgers in the United States. It has been on the market for years, and federal regulators say it meets standards for food safety. But advocates for wholesome food have denounced the process as a potentially unsafe and unappetizing example of industrialized food production.


Jamie Oliver is one of the loudest critics of it and he showed the problem with it on TV about a year ago:




More recently in Houston, several local TV stations jumped on the story, as has the world-wide news media.  Here are many links and information culled from such sources:

1.  Kroger revealed it does allow Pink Slime in its Ground Beef.  I'm not shopping at Kroger for meat anymore then.  HEB and Whole Foods DO NOT USE IT and I will buy ground beef from them.  Randall's, which is owned by Safeway, is investigating the matter and hasn't said anything one way or the other.

UPDATE: Per KHOU-11 in Houston, Kroger is getting rid of Pink Ammonia Slime due to customer complaints.  

2.  McDonald's recently dropped the additive.  I haven't eaten there for years and since they were using it, I won't be eating burgers there again either. Other fast-food companies such as Burger King and Taco Bell have stopped using ‘pink slime’ in their food. But apparently the government believes the stuff is just fine to serve to millions of American school children and the USDA is buying it for School Lunch Programs.

It looks like all of us that were suspicious of our school lunches WERE RIGHT!!!

3. Additionally, here is more from ABC News:
(c) Safeway Co. 
ABC News emailed the top 10 grocery chains in America and seven responded:

Safeway

“We rely on the federal government to help guide us on food safety issues. USDA has been clear in its judgment that Lean Finely Textured Ground Beef is a safe source of nutrition. However, we are reviewing the matter at this time.”  FYI: Safeway owns and operates Randall's and Tom Thumb supermarkets in Texas.
 UPDATE: Per KHOU-11 in Houston, Safeway is getting rid of pink slime in their ground beef.  

Ahold (Stop & Shop/Giant)

“Stores operated by the divisions of Ahold USA do carry ground beef made with Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT), also called Finely Textured Beef (FTB). Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings (BLBT) is beef and is absolutely safe for consumption. To make the product, beef companies use beef trimmings, which are the small cuts of beef that remain when larger cuts are trimmed down. These trimmings are USDA-inspected, wholesome cuts of beef. This process has been an industry standard for almost 20 years. Alternatives to the conventional ground beef supply, in the form of Certified Angus Beef and Nature’s Promise ground beef products, are available to customers in stores across all of the divisions of Ahold USA. These products do not include the use of BLBT. Customers are being encouraged to ask any meat associate should they have any questions or would like to be directed to meat that does not include Boneless Lean Beef Trimmings. Our labeling is in compliance with USDA regulations. BLBT is USDA tested and approved ground beef and therefore does not require labeling.”

(c) Costco Inc.
Costco

Does not use pink slime.

“Anything that we sell at Costco we want to explain it’s origins, and I personally don’t know how to explain trim treated with ammonia in our ground beef,” Craig Wilson, vice president of quality assurance for Costco, told ABC News. “I just don’t know how to explain that. I’m not that smart.”

Publix

“We have never allowed the use of LFTB (pink slime) in our meat. It’s 100 percent ground beef with no LFTB.”

H-E-B

(c) H. E. Butt Co. 
“All our ground beef sold at H-E-B is 100% pure with no additives.”

Whole Foods

Does not use pink slime.

Kroger

“We do not use finely textured beef in our fresh ground beef. … We are routinely presented the finely textured beef as an option, but have always refused.”  KROGER HAS SINCE ADMITTED HAVING IT IN SOME OF THEIR PRODUCT.  SEE ORIGINAL POST ABOVE.  

In addition to Whole Foods, Tops Markets told ABC News it does not use “pink slime.”

USDA Organic 

If your meat is stamped USDA Organic, it’s pure meat with no filler.

Otherwise, you can’t know from the packaging because pink slime does not have to appear on the label. And the USDA is giving no indication it will force meat packers to lift the veil of secrecy any time soon.
UPDATE: Per the Atlanta Buisness JournalWal-Mart, Food Lion, Stop N Shop and SuperValue are getting rid of Pink Slime in their Ground Beef.  Also, Houston Independent School District has gone on record stating they have inspected their beef and it is Pink-Slime Free.  

4. Additionally, fellow blogger TheLunchTray.com started an online petition to pull Pink Ammonia Slime from School lunches in the US.  That petition recently topped 200,000 signatures.


5.  Former USDA MicroBiologist Gerald Zirnstein raised his objections to it and has gone so far as to say he is personally buying beef roast or steaks and grinding his own beef at home rather than trust a local grocery store.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

6. How To Avoid it at the Grocery Store

Companies aren’t required to say they used pink slime in a product. So the only way to read that something 100% from whatever part of the cow (100% ground chuck or ground sirloin for example). If it does not have this 100% label or you are still having doubts, then only way to know for sure that you are pink slime free is to have a butcher grind the meat right in front of you. There are places they will do this. Next time you are at your local grocery store, grab a roast (such as a boneless chuck eye roast) and ask someone behind the butcher counter if they can grind it for you. Any grocery store interested in giving good customer service should do this for you.


HankOnFood.com's Good Guys List

I have been contacting my favourite as well as not so favourite burger joints and am compiling a list of those places that have not used Ammonia Treated Beef.  Thus far I have received definitive "We do not use Ammonia Treated Beef and Fillers" statements from:

Bernie's Burger Bus
The Burger Guys
Five Guys Burgers and Fries 
Fuddruckers 
The Hubcap Brill
Jerry Built Burgers 
Red Robin
Wendy's 

I will update this list as I get responses that the restaurants DO NOT USE Ammonia Treated Beef and Fillers.  


In the meanwhile, be vigilant with your meat and burgers so that you can:
Eat Happy, Y'all!!!

Hank the Foodie Professor
HankOnFood.com

Review: Good Dog Hot Dogs

Food Trucks are all the rage these days.  Cooking Channel has shown food truck races and battles.  Dragon's Den has featured food trucks looking for Venture Capital money.  And Houston, with all of its freeways, highways and byways is no stranger to the Food Truck either.  I follow a number of local food trucks, but due to much of their operations being in the Inner Loop area of Houston, I don't get much opportunity to try them.  However, since this week is Spring Break for my main job, I promised myself I would get out to at least one, and the first one I got to was Good Dog Hot Dogs.  Good Dog has had A LOT of positive feedback from various Twitter foodies and in the Houston Press, as well as 29-95.  Since a couple of other food trucks I have been wanting to try were not out today, I drove on out to the Houston MFAH to see what they were all about.

Apparently this Spring Break week the Houston MFAH has had a different food truck in the parking lot across the street on Bissonnet St.  This made for a lousy parking situation.  I got a little creative and was able to finally get over and order my lunch.  I chose a Good Dog with 3 different toppings and a specialty dog called the Ol' Zapata (old shoe).  So without further ado here are your hot dog blue prints:

Good Dog:
85% Beef/15% Pork Handmade Hot Dog
Roasted Garlic Aioli 
Short Bus Mustard 
Jalapeño Relish
On a Locally Sourced SlowDough Bun


Ol' Zapata:
85% Beef/15% Pork Handmade Hot Dog
bacon. muenster cheese 
caramelized onions, tomatoes
jalapeño relish, ketchup
mayonnaise
On a Locally Sourced SlowDough Bun




Menu Board at Good Dog Hot Dog Truck
First of all the hot dog  meat had a nice sweet, peppery and savoury flavour.  The toppings were fresh as far as the veggies on the Ol' Zapata.  The jalelpeño relish is sweet and hot.  The Roasted Garlic Aioli gave me garlic breath for 2 hours afterwards.  All the other sauces were full of flavour and melded together quite well.  And the SlowDough Bun was like a toasted Hawaiian bread.  It was crunchy outside, sweet, soft and savoury inside, and held the generous toppings mostly well.  I had to eat these dogs in my car, but I have no complaints whatsoever.

Since Good Dog Hotdogs is a food truck, I will not be rating ambiance.

The Foodie Professor's Report Card
Good Dog Hotdog Truck


Good Dog with self=selected toppings: A
Ol' Zapata:  A

Service:
     Friendliness: A
     Speed:  A
Cleanliness:  A (took a good look through the windows--this is a clean food truck!)


Overall Grade: A


Good Dog Hotdogs has various locations they park at and it changes each week.  Be sure to check their website for updated locations.

And remember:
Eat Happy!!!
Zao an, Y'all!!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Event: #YuckFelp at Hubcap Grill in the Heights

Not too long ago, I announced that Ricky Craig, owner of The Hubcap Grill in the Heights had a serious and legitimate dispute with the business practices of the website Yelp.  As a result, he opened the location on Sunday, March 4th, 2012 and it was packed.  My son and I came out for the event and waited in line.  There was free local craft beer from No Lable Brew and Saint Arnold's (I tried the Ridgeback Dark Amber and the Spring Bock from those brewers--very nice) and a local 80's cover band blasting tunes. 

The only part that was negative about the event  was the a resident near the Cedar Creek Café, Bar & Grill decided to be a jerk and called out HPD over a "noise complaint."  I want to emphasize that Ricky Craig, the owner of The Hubcap Grill had conferred with the Houston Police Department and the Owner of the Cedar Creek Café & Grill and confirmed it is a LOCAL RESIDENT who always complains about Cedar Creek Café who called them.  It was NOT The Cedar Creek Café who called HPD on The Hubcap Grill.

I PROFUSELY APOLOGIZE TO THE CEDAR CREEK CAFE FOR INCORRECTLY POSTING EARLIER THAT THEY CALLED HPD ON THE HUBCAP GRILL.


I WILL BE VISITING CEDAR CREEK CAFE THIS WEEK AND WILL POST A REVIEW ON THEM.  

Note to Readers who don't live in Houston: The City of Houston does NOT have zoning.  As a result, you can have situations arise where restaurants and bars that feature live music will be right next door to residential housing.  Most folks that live in those areas get along well with the venues and have no issues.  However, some folks will gripe about the noise.   My response to them:  if you don't want to hear noise then move to a neighborhood that's not next to a live music venue or move to a suburb that's a separate city and has zoning.  
No Label Brew serving up Ridgeback Amber.  YEEEAAAHH!!!
I ordered my favourite Beach Bum Burger, while my son got some sliders, and we shared some bacon cheese fries.  So without further ado, here are the Burger Blueprints:

Beach Bum Burger:
100% Ground Beef Patty
Grilled Ham
Grilled Pineapple
Swiss Cheese
on a locally sourced fluffy bun. 

Sliders:
4 Mini Burgers
Topped with American Cheese and Ketchup
(Jason nixed the grilled onions)
On a locally sourced bun

As usual, the Hubcap Grill makes a great meaty burger.  Hot, juicy, well seasoned beef patty, great sweetness from the ham and pineapple, mixed with the juiciness of the patty and held together by the bun.  I went no fried egg and no veggies this time.  Usually I'd get it with lettuce, tomato, pickle, easy mayo and fried egg.  No complaints here.  Jason really enjoyed the sliders and wolfed down 2 of them, but saved the other 2 for later (next day, heated in microwave, still good per the little fella). 

I really enjoyed both local craft beers as well.  Of course many people will say Free Beer always tastes better.  The Ridgeback Amber had a slightly bitter, semi-maple flavour too it and had a clean finish.  The Spring Bock from St. Arnold's had a smokey top note, a bold middle and a semi-bitter finish.  Both tasted very good on a hot afternoon and their bitterness offset the sweetness of the ham and beef nicely.  Jason opted for ice water.

The Foodie Professor's Report Card
for The Hubcap Grill  #YuckFelp event:
Beach Bum Burger: A
Sliders: A
Bacon Cheese Fries: A+
No Label Ridgeback Amber: A
St. Arnold's Spring Bock: A+
Event Spirit:  A+




Hubcap Grill and Beer Yard
Houston Heights
1133 W 19th , Houston, TX 77008
713-862-0555
MON - THU 11am - 9pm
FRI & SAT 11am - 10pm
CLOSED SUNDAY

And remember:
Eat Happy!  (Don't be an @$$hole like Cedar Creek Café)
Zao an, Y'all!!!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March Odds and Ends

March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.  Beware the ides of March.  The switch to Daylight Savings Time from Standard time happens in March.  We experience the Vernal Equinox in March.  The weather is turbulent and College Students go crazy during March/Spring Break.  And let's not forget March Madness in College Basketball and the run up to the Playoffs in the National Hockey League.  Foodies also have their own forms of March Madness as well.  MUUUUHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

MAINpg.jpg 1.  Eating our Words in The Houston Press is doing a Burger Bracket to Coincide with March Madness, but it will be run on Monday, April 2nd.  Unfortunately, I missed Katharine Shilcutt's call for judges.  And that's too bad for me.  Truth to tell, I didn't see Ms. Shilcutt's call for judges due to being very busy in my day job teaching Economics at three different institutions of higher learning.  And that's okay.  This is actually the 2nd Annual Burger Bracket the Houston Press is doing.  The first one was done on April 4, 2011--about a month before this blog started.  Maybe this Foodie Professor is a bit absent minded after all.  Given how much I love a good burger and how often I rate them and review them in this here blog, I will make plans to be a spectator at this year's burger bracket.  Or maybe I will just hit any of the places in the bracket I haven't tried yet. For me that would be Mockingbird Bistro, Down House, Plonk, Block 7,  J-Town Streats, El Realand Bernie's Burger Bus.Yeah... THAT'S THE TICKET!!!  More to come on this.

Hubcap Grill Owner Ricky Craig
2.  Speaking of Burgers... As an online Food Blogger, I may not be a professional journalist, but I do have my own code of ethics.  For me that includes not posting a review of a restaurant that would not pass as a place I would recommend to everyone as above average.  Although restaurants have invited me to grand opening events and I've written about such events, I will only blog about them if the food is really good and the place is one I'd go to again and again.  So I can completely understand why Hubcap Grill owner Ricky Craig is pissed off at many of Yelp's business practices and will be hosting a #YuckFelp party TODAY (March 4th) 12 Noon SHARP at their 19th Street Location.  Due to limited parking, any overflow will be routed to the liquor store across the street.

Hubcap Grill Bacon Cheeseburger
 I used Yelp only for a little while back in 2010.  However, when I heard from a Vancouver area restaurant that they contacted them and said they would "suppress negative reviews" if the restaurant would pay $300.00 to buy advertising on Yelp, I was angry.  I have already said that I am no food critic and I write about what I LIKE, not about what I think sucks. (FYI--see my list on the right hand side of the page to know how I feel about Hubcap Grill)  I do not like it when Food Bloggers act like they're Anthony Bourdain or some high end New York Times food critics as it is.  But now you have a company that is doing what I consider to be EXTORTION of money from hardworking entrepreneurs for the sake of squelching message board troll posts  that could do real damage to local businesses, I find that reprehensible.  I quit using Yelp and have since told everyone I know not to rely on any so-called reviews that come from them.  If you value my opinion, that is fine, but if not, there are plenty of other food bloggers and legitimate food critics whose opinions are well thought out and worth considering, rather than just some troll ranting in order to get a free order of cheese fries.  UGH!!!

For more on why Yelp is bad for restaurants and foodbloggers alike, and why it should be held accountable for its actions, please read this post from @GunsAndTacos of The Houston Freepress.

My official take:
  • I urge all my readers and fellow Houston Foodbloggers to go to the #YuckFelp party at Hubcap Grill on 19th Street at Noon Today (March 4, 2012) to support Ricky Craig and other local restaurateurs.
  • I urge all my fellow foodbloggers anywhere to boycott Yelp, not post reviews on them and not give them any promotion or support.
  • I urge all local restaurateurs and chains to boycott yelp, take down any promotional stickers they have given you and not sanction them.  
I'll do a follow up blog on the event provided I make it today.  

3. After those two items, it's hard to follow up on much else.  However, I would like to add that I have a top burgers in Houston List working on the right sidebar of the blog now, and also a top blogs I read related to food on the right hand side as well.  For those who've sent me emails or tweets asking "Why isn't ________ in your list?", it comes down to one of two reasons:  either I tried them and didn't like them well enough to consider them worth reviewing (I don't do negative reviews) or I have not been able to try them yet due to time/scheduling issues, but they are in the queue, I promise.

4.  As someone who has connections in Louisville, Kentucky and Southern Indiana, I urge all of you not directly affected by the recent Tornadoes to please donate blood to the Red Cross and donate gently used clothes or other sundry items to the Salvation Army, Goodwill or other charitable organizations that are rendering aid in the areas affected by these crazy storms that hit this past Friday. Here is how to help.

Well that's it for my odds and ends now.  I hope March is wonderful for all of you readers.

And Remember:
Eat Happy!!!
Zao an, Y'all!!!