We2 Good Guru Visits Corsino’s, Says "Viva Italia!"

Target: Corsinos

Target Address: 911 South Court Street Montgomery Al

Service: Dine in/Carry Out – Lunch and Dinner

Wow! I did not know that this little gem existed, that is until some friends of ours suggested that we meet there one day for lunch. Its real Italian, not out of the box stuff. Its real good too, well worth the drive, price and even the headache you will encounter with parking.

We were there for lunch and it turned out that it was Hero Sandwiches all around. I had the Italian Sausage Hero and the other three all had the Chicken Parmesan with extra sauce. While I did pick mine up for the first bite, I assure you without a doubt that it is knife and fork food. The bread was perfect, extremely soft on the inside, slight crunch on the outside. Its baked fresh every day.

The owner stopped at our table to check on us and I missed his name totally. With the Hero being carved up on my plate what he had to say sounded a lot like the Teacher on Charlie Brown. They tell me that only the Pizza is available at night, but that its quite possibly the best Pizza in town. I will say this, if the pizza is made with the same love that the sandwich was, it is the best pizza in town.

Guru Grade – Over all they get a 88 out of 100. Don’t let that 88 fool or bother you in any way though. The low score is reflective of the parking situation, and Momma Mia – its some bad parking. There is only one line of cars at the doorway and the rest of the people have to park across the street. Don’t be discouraged though, I would walk across I-85 for this food.
 

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Who Wears Jort-Jorts? I Wore Jort-Jorts.

Do you ever wonder what possesses someone to go out in public looking a certain way? I am disappointed almost every time I go to some public place where a lot of people are gathered because of the unfortunate decisions some folks make regarding their clothes or hairstyle or other things of that nature. Before I continue, allow me to say that this rant does not pertain to people like me who are just looks challenged. Some of us, no matter what we do, how we dress, how we fix our hair, can’t help certain things like simply being old fashioned ugly. I am chief among this group and readily admit and accept this fact. I do, however, feel like I give it my best shot and do as good as I possibly can with the severely limited outward physical gifts that God blessed me with. For instance, you’re not likely to find me pushing a buggy around Wal-Mart wearing a stained wife-beater t-shirt, pajama bottoms, and a pair of house shoes. I may not have much to work with but I can at least take the extra 90 seconds or so to put on an actual pair of pants, a regular t-shirt, and a pair of flip-flops before I make the trek into “town” to buy a bag of dog food, a case of Schlitz, and a can of potted meat. Good night, man! You couldn’t tear yourself away from Dog, the Bounty Hunter long enough to put on some clothes before going out? This is not something I’ve seen in public only once or twice, either. I see it on a regular basis. Boggles the mind, I tell ya’.

While I’m at it, you ladies who like to wear your shirts a little short so as to expose your midriff? More power to you, I suppose. If you are tipping the scales at a reasonable weight and want to show the world your navel, then make it hap’n cap’n. Whatever floats your boat. But if your exposed midriff keeps us from being able to see your knees then we neither need nor want to see said midriff. There are few things more disturbing than catching a glimpse of that EXPOSED AND UNCOVERED, big ol’ hang-me-down belly as it bounces by me in the food court while I’m trying to finish my allegedly Chinese bourbon chicken and pile of yellow rice soaked in soy sauce. By the way, does anyone else feel like they’re traversing the game section on the midway at the state fair every time they walk through the food court? “Hey, man! Come here! A winner every time! Win your lady an inflatable Atlanta Braves tomahawk by shooting out this little red star with a BB machine gun! Or maybe she’d like this Quiet Riot mirror! Oh, and while you’re at it would you like to try a sample of this mystery meat/chicken/beef off of this toothpick I’ve probably been picking my teeth with?” You sample offerers are coming in a little hot. But I digress. Anyway, I’m not talking about those of us who are heavy but have enough sense to dress appropriately. I’m talking about the blissfully unaware 700 pounder who thinks she’s got the body of Shakira. Those hips may not lie but neither does that gut. Buy a bigger shirt.

All I’m asking is for folks to take a look in the mirror and then make an honest, the key word here is honest, assessment based on what you see. If it takes you 20 minutes to convince yourself that no one will notice that you combed your hair from just above your right ear all the way over the top of your head to just above your left ear, then we probably will. We can actually see your bald head through those nine strands of hair. This is not an indictment on comb-overs, either. I’ve seen some good ones where you’d never know it was a comb-over unless a stiff breeze hit the wearer’s head from one side, got underneath their hair, and caused it to stand 18 inches straight up.

Heck, I fell vicitm to “I’m ignoring the mirror syndrome” myself once when I was a younger man. I actually found myself at the old Atlanta Highway Wal-Mart, of course it would be Wal-Mart, wearing a yellow and gray striped tank top with a pair of stone-washed, black cutoff jorts. It’s not that I was wearing the jorts. They were actually somewhat in style in the late 80s and early 90s. It’s that I had cut them off too short and the pockets were sticking out waaayyyyyy below the bottom of the legs of the jorts. Mortified, I bought a pair of fake, Wal-Mart brand Sun Britches and changed in my car in the parking lot. Ever have that dream where you’re in a public place with no pants on? You know that embarrased, self-conscious feeling you have in the dream and then the relief you feel when you wake up? There was no waking up from my horrible jortmare. A simple, honest self-assessment in the mirror could have saved me from having to go through that traumatic experience. I’m certain I’d have made it onto The People of Wal-Mart website had websites and camera phones existed at the time.

Thankfully, they didn’t and I’m probably a more conscientious, even paranoid, dresser because of it. I’m not saying I always make good decisions on the clothes I wear or that I ever look particularly good at all. I am saying that I at least give it an honest try. You can be certain that you will never see me in Wal-Mart wearing pajamas and house shoes, at the beach wearing a Speedo, or anywhere wearing black, stone-washed jort-jorts. You have my word.

We2 Food Guru Dines at Texas Roadhouse. See What He Thought.

Target: Texas Roadhouse

Target Address: 7525 Eastchase Parkway, Montgomery Alabama

Service: Dine in/or Carry Out – Lunch and Dinner Menu (Kids Menu) (Average entrée – $14.62)

Know what I hate about chain restaurants? You’re going to get the same thing no matter if it’s here in the River Region or in Texas. Know what I like about chain restaurants? You’re going to get the same thing no matter if it’s here or in Texas. Love ‘em or leave ‘em, they are what they are and what they are, is a large part of the dining out experience. I fall to leave side more than not. So I will be doing a few reviews from time to time that are chain based. For the most part though, I like to look for those hidden gems.

Recently I had the occasion to go with co-workers to Texas Roadhouse, yee haw!! You walk in and there is something different, something you just can’t put your finger on. Wait, it’s something you wouldn’t want to put your finger on, peanut shells on the floor. Right from the start they have to score poorly on cleanliness. I know what you’re thinking; it’s part of the experience. In the world of food safety though, so is sweeping and mopping the floor. While the State Health Department seems to have no problem with this, I bet they would not allow shrimp carcasses on the floor of a seafood restaurant.

That aside, we ordered our meals. There was a great variety across the table. One ordered Grilled Chicken ($10.29), one ordered Ribs ($17.29 full slab) and for me it was the 6oz Dallas Filet ($16.29). The Chicken was tender and juicy with a great flavor so I was told. My Filet that I asked to be prepared Medium was, dare I say, perfect and thus the whole reason for this review of a chain restaurant. Then there were the Ribs and their great disappointment. The friend that had those reported that the smaller end of the rack was dry, tough and overcooked. Ribs can be hard and to nail them each and every time takes a lot of practice. I understand that normally Texas Roadhouse is really good with this, however on this occasion they missed the mark.

Between the three of us we had a variety of vegetables. I had broccoli carrots and yellow squash that were steamed just the way I like them with a little crunch. TIP OF THE DAY – squeeze a lemon over your steamed veggies and hang on for a new experience. My co-workers also had a side salad and the other had mashed potatoes, both were reported as great. No desert, not real sure how someone can have desert after all of the nuts, bread, meat and veggies; however they looked great. One last item that they did well on, my drink. I like an Arnold Palmer, and this was spot on.

Guru Grade – Overall they receive a 92 out of 100 points. In the words of the famed Mark Bullock, CLEAN UP!! Those peanut shells are both food and harborage for insects, even if it is part of the experience it does not make it right. Little bit of a wait time for the food, however they were pretty busy. Fast and courteous, very friendly staff and we wanted for nothing as our glasses were always full and her presence was constant. Food was well prepared with the exception of the Rib hiccup and the price isn’t bad for our business dinner or the family outing. It was a bit noisy because of the large crowd; however I saw no one having a bad time. I wonder if Willie will ever be in his corner on one of my trips there. Good job Texas Roadhouse; the Guru had a good time.

We2 Food Guru Takes on Casa Napoli and The Stockyard Grill



Target: Casa Napoli
Target Address: 2215 US Hwy 231, Wetumpka Alabama
Service: Dine in/or Carry Out – Lunch and Dinner Menu

Had the opportunity to have a nice relaxing dinner after working in the yard all day in the hot sun. Showered up and set my sights on Casa Napoli, Wetumpka’s little secret on the hill. I almost don’t want to pen this review for fear of word getting out in the River Region about this place. Once I do, I may never get another seat.

When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was that the very thing that drew my attention there a few days before was gone, and that was them advertising Seafood Manicotti on the marquee. I was a little heartbroken, but not enough to make me turn and walk away though.

We proceeded inside and were seated at a candle lit table. I enquired about the advertised special from a few days before and to my surprise our waiter went and asked the Chef if he still had the makings for the special that was no longer. He did, and you guessed it, I ordered it.

Just before our food arrived, the lights left. Apparently the storm blowing up that day was not conducive to keeping the power on. Not to worry though. We were in no hurry and there was candle light. When the food arrived a short time later, my Seafood Manicotti  was perfect, my wife had ordered Veal Parmesan and our little one had settled on straight up Spaghetti. All three dishes were as always, presented well and tasted wonderful.

Guru Grade – Overall they receive a 94 out of 100 points. Their Wait Staff and Food are always on target. Of the times we have eaten there, we have never had any issues with either. While the parking situation is so much better than it was with the new paving, its still an older location land locked on all four sides. So even though they went through great trouble to fix it, they had only so much to start with. Now for all of you River Region people outside of Wetumpka, forget you ever read this, this is OUR diamond leave it alone. All jokes aside, this family run business is well worth the drive from anywhere in Central Alabama. It’s a perfect place for Date Night!!

Target: Stockyard Grill
Target Address: 4500 Mobile Highway, Montgomery Alabama
Service: Dine in/or Carry Out – Breakfast and Lunch menu (Average entrée – $10.00)

This is a place that I have gone to a few times now for breakfast and for lunch. When it comes to breakfast, moooooo-ve over Hardees, Stockyard Grill is hands down the best breakfast value on the south end of Montgomery. This time I ordered their “Stockyard Special” which includes two eggs cooked to order, grits, choice of 5 different meats; toast or biscuit and a drink for $5.35. The eggs were ordered and delivered Over Easy. I went with the smoked sausage and it had a great taste. The grits were cooked perfectly and lightly buttered. I asked if the biscuits were homemade and they were not, so I ordered toast. However the nice lady waiting on me brought me a biscuit anyway to try out. I guess she could tell I was famished. Well, the toast was the choice to go with. While the biscuit was edible, it didn’t have any wow factor to it. There are other breakfast plates available and of course there is an al-a-Carte menu as well.

Let’s talk Lunch, as I have been there before for lunch. They serve salads ($6.36-$6.95), Burgers ($5.65-$6.65), Steaks (that vary in price) and a really good rotating menu of Lunch Specials ($7.35) that includes 2 Meat/3 veggies/Bread and Beverage. My favorite though, the Ribeye Sandwich. That’s right, an honest to goodness hand cut 5oz Ribeye, cooked to order and nestled between two halves of a soft bun. It’s just the right amount of beef on the right amount of bread. In other words that thing hangs off both sides and you better get your fork ready. Also they have a business card and on the back if you buy 5 Lunch Specials, the 6th one is on them.

They serve breakfast from 8am until 10am. Lunch is served from 10:30am until 2pm. The lunch crowd is much larger and a short wait may be in order, however it’s well worth that wait. Next time you are in the area, give them a try.

Guru Grade – Over all they get a 91 out of 100 points on the scorecard. The parking lot could use some work, but that may not be their entire fault since it is the Montgomery Stockyards Facility. The building is old, sort of smells like a Stockyard but not in the restaurant. During lunch you’re most likely to hit a wait time for a table to clear, but when it does the staff is quick to turn it around. All in all, great hidden gem on the south side of Montgomery. You may even want to buy a cow while you are there.




The We2 Food Guru Gets to Work



Hello and allow me to introduce myself, well sort of. I am The Wetumpka Food Guru. I am stepping up to Thad’s call for a food critic in the River Region to sample our local cuisine and report back to you, his readers. So my loyalty will rest with you, his readers, and not to any local establishment.

To give you some background on me, I have been in the River Region for 41 years. While I am not a trained Chef, I have been exposed to some culinary creations that are phenomenal. While I do not work in the restaurant industry, I am currently a Certified Food Safety Manager through Experior, in good standing.

The criteria that will be used will be the same for every restaurant that is visited. What you will see is a washed version of the visit with a narrative to explain how the experience went. We’re going to grade the building, the food, the service and the value. We want to see clean places, tasty food at a good value and service service service. I have always said that I can stay home and cook almost anything I want, when I go out, I want to be taken care of. For the record, I tip that way too. I do not tip on some arbitrary percentage, I tip based on the service that I and those with me receive.

The only criterion that Thad has charged me with is that these places be in the River Region, that they be examined fairly and truthfully, without coming across as mean spirited. Check that Thad, I hope that in time you and your readers will come to rely on the results of these visits.

I want everyone to check Thad’s blogs for at least one review a week from the River Region. Also, if you want to suggest that I subject one of your favorite haunts to the rigid rigors of my pallet, drop me a note atWe2FoodGuru@elmore.rr.com or follow us on Facebook at The Wetumpka Food Guru, remember to click the “Like” button.

Happy Birthday, Mama

(Un-proofread)

This Friday is special. This Friday, September 9th, will mark the first time since 1929 that Dorothy Louise Hankins has not been on this earth to celebrate her birthday. Less than two months shy of 82 years she spent on this earth.  Some people know her as Dot, Miss Dot, or Mrs. Hankins, the preacher’s wife. I have cousins who always called her Aunt Dottie. I called her mama. She may celebrate her birthday in Heaven this year but that doesn’t make the day any less special for those of us she left behind back on July 27th when she flew away from this world to go and meet her Savior in the next.

She spent the last five weeks of her life in a nursing home, sometimes unaware of where she was. One day while I was visiting her, she asked my dad how I got in and told him that he must have left the front door unlocked. She thought she was at home. Thankfully, with the exception of her last few days, she knew who we all were. She might have to think for a minute for a name, but she knew. Her long term memory wasn’t too bad. It was the short term stuff where she really seemed to struggle. I wrote in an earlier post that she, without fail, always introduced me to her caregivers as “my only son.” I am. I like that she did that. It reaffirmed how much she loved me and caused me to remember how much she did for me over the 42 years of my life that I was blessed to have shared with her.

She had among her 14 siblings a sister we all called Aunt Pete. Aunt Pete had a cabin on a lake somewhere. I don’t remember exactly which lake it was but I do remember going there and swimming and fishing and having all sorts of fun. My earliest memory of mama rescuing me from something happened at Aunt Pete’s place on the lake. I couldn’t have been more than four years old when I decided the hill that led down to the seawall at the water’s edge would be a lot of fun to descend on a tricycle. Even though that has been almost 40 years ago, I remember it only took me about three feet to realize this ride was not going to end well. I zipped down the hill toward the water probably not realizing how grave the situation had quickly become. At the last moment, however, an arm grabbed me and knocked both the tricycle and me over. It was mama. She had run down the hill and caught me before I plunged over the wall into the water. She never learned how to swim and neither did I until I was probably eight or nine years old. Who knows what might have happened had she not morphed into a 40-something year old Wilma Rudolph that day? She scooped me up in her arms and I cried. Mama’s are always good at comforting. Mine was the best. My cousin Robert, Aunt Pete’s son, mentioned my ill-fated trip to the lake place at mama’s funeral. We laughed.

If mama ever ran again for the rest of her years, I didn’t see it. Her knees were swollen and stiffened by arthritis for as long as I can remember and it grew worse and worse with each passing year. It was difficult for her to do things as simple as going to church but she always managed to do that. When I was on the tennis team in high school, she could almost always be seen sitting courtside to watch me play a game she had no idea about. She was a faithful pastor’s wife for half-a-century and only stopped attending church when it simply became too difficult and painful for her to travel even a short distance.

Unable to regularly attend the birthday parties of her grandchildren or make it to their houses on Christmas mornings, she would always make sure that she sent my dad to the mall or toy store to get whatever extravagant item they just couldn’t live without that year. She and my dad always remembered to call their children and grandchildren on their birthdays to sing what was always a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. On her birthday, we’d all try and figure out what we could get her. She often ended up with clothes or maybe some jewelry. I usually ended up getting her something related to the University of Alabama’s football team or the Atlanta Braves with a few crossword puzzle and wordfind books thrown in. She liked doing puzzles. She LOVED ‘Bama football and her Braves. All except Chipper Jones because he had cheated on his wife. I don’t know if Chipper’s ex-wife forgave him or not but my mama sure didn’t! I would pick at her and cheer for Chipper when he’d come to bat. Unless it meant the difference between the Braves winning or losing, I’m pretty sure she wanted Chipper to strike out every at bat, make an error on every ball hit in his direction, and have a family of redbugs make a home in his jock strap.

Mama was a compassionate, loving, caring, strong, and faithful wife, mother, and Christian. She took care of those less fortunate than her and I can’t remember a time when someone wasn’t welcome in our home. Whether it was a friend of mine, someone from the church, a relative(I had an aunt and an uncle who lived with us, not at the same time, for several years), or even the guy who dad had paid a little money to for cutting our grass(a rarity as that was the only time that I remember anyone cutting our grass besides us). She also had a boat-load of personality. She and my dad would often playfully bicker with one another much to the delight of those of us who were lucky enough to witness it. She’d tell him he better be glad she couldn’t get up and come after him or she’d spank him. I thank God that He gave me two parents who knew how to have fun and laugh and enjoy life regardless of the circumstances.

She went downhill fast in the last week of her life. She was in a lot of pain and stayed, as she would’ve called it, “doped up” on pain medication. She’d sleep some and then with a start, she would open her eyes wide and cry for help. This was when she began to have trouble recognizing some of us. It was difficult. Especially for my dad. For 61 years they’d been together. Longer than that if  you count the courtship. It hurt. Then, on Monday, something happened. For several hours my mama woke up. She joked and laughed and smiled and for a while that day we got to see her the way we’d known for all those years. It was good. I’m sure God gave us that day for us to say our goodbyes to her and for her to do the same.

She left us six weeks ago tomorrow and I miss her greatly. I know she’s in a perfect place now but a guy can get sad when he thinks about not ever seeing his mama again. Sometimes tapping out some words on a computer keyboard helps. In fact, it has today. Though September 9th will be weird, even kind of tough without her here. I have to believe that this will be the best birthday she’s ever had since she’ll be celebrating in Heaven. Maybe Jesus can tell her I said happy birthday and that I’ll see her soon.