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About Me

No-Bull Burger Purist, born and raised in NJ, the heart of the tri-state area and home to the oldest (and best) burger joints in the country. I don't need all the frilly toppings, happy servers or trendy decor, just a good burger...

Saturday, September 26, 2020

KFC - Manahawkin, NJ


Where:
Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC)
382 State Highway 72
Manahawkin, NJ 08050



What:
Crispy Colonel Sandwich 


Build:

Fried chicken filet, pickles, and mayo on a plain toasted bun.


Comments:
This was the first time I've ever eaten at a KFC and I was amazed at how they are producing a perfectly executed chicken sandwich for under $4. As you can see in the photo above, the Crispy Colonel Sandwich speaks for itself. I never expected the chicken to be so thick and juicy with a perfectly crispy coating. It's a simple sandwich consisting of chicken, mayo and pickle and it's simply delicious. I'll definitely be back for more. And yes, I know, there are probably all kinds of chemicals and hormones used to grow the chickens they serve... but hey... it tastes good, it's loaded with protein... somebody tell me where this is bad for me? 
















Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Casa Don Manuel - Wayne, NJ

Where:
1292 Alps Road,
Wayne, NJ

What:
Queso Fundido - 
Blend of melted cheese and onions sautéed with garlic, your choice mushrooms or homemade chorizo (pork sausage) , served with warm corn or flour tortillas
Huarache - 
Traditional masa flat bread topped with refried beans, sour cream, queso cotija, tomatillo sauce, pico de gallo, avocado and your choice of al pastor, carne asada or carnitas
Enchiladas Verdes - 
Soft corn tortillas dipped in green tomatillo sauce, filled with choice of shredded chicken, beef, picadillo (ground beef), cheese or vegetables and covered with melted cheese
Pollo Tapatios - Chicken breast covered with special chipotle sauce, topped with queso fresco, onions, and mushrooms

Comments:
Hoping this would be our new go-to restaurant, we've been watching the coming of Casa Don Manuel with anticipation ever since we heard it was purchased at auction. 

Both the interior and exterior were done quite well. The dining area and bar are warm and inviting. The staff could not be nicer or more attentive, perhaps a bit too attentive?

After water and margaritas were served with corn chips and salsa, our waiter asked if we needed a few more minutes, we did. However, after what was literally less than 2 minutes, he returned to ask if we needed a few more minutes, the reply was "yes".  Needless to say, we unconsciously began rushing our decision making. When he returned (within the next 2 minutes), we ordered two appys, the Queso Fundido and the Huarache.

The appys were served when we had mostly finished our cocktails, perfect. The Huarache was served hot and fresh and my wife loved it immediately. I started on my appy choice, the Queso Fundido. The aroma coupled with my initial tasting was wonderful, until the salt set it. The more I dug into what could have been a 5-star dish, the more salt I discovered until it got to the point where I had to push the dish away declaring it "inedible". I'm sure this was a mistake and that this dish is never even close to being served as salted as mine was.  

Here comes strike two...

Seconds after pushing the dish away, two waiters arrived with our entree's!  WTF? We weren't halfway through our appetizers! There's not much to do in this case, since sending the entrees back to the kitchen would only put them under a heat lamp and who wants dried-out food? We accepted the dishes and noticed that neither waiter seemed the least bit concerned about the early delivery. Again, the entire wait staff was nice as hell, but it seems the server-to-kitchen communication needs to work on timing. 
 
My wife and I give them a pass since they are a newly opened operation. We are looking forward to a second trip (in a month or two) to sample other dishes. Who knows, Casa Don Manuel might end up being our go-to place after all.

As for my wife's Enchiladas Verdes, she went wild for them. They were hot, fresh and delicious with authentic flavors throughout. Although the chicken in my Pollo Tapatios was very tender and plentiful, the chipotle sauce was a bit on the bland side. Other than that, a good dish overall.

Other than the saltiness of the Queso Fundido and the entree's arriving almost with the appetizers, there was a freshness of ingredients and taste of authentic Mexican cuisine that will draw us back again.
Please note, my comments are not meant to criticize, they are meant to be a help to the business owner(s) only.
Best of luck to the owners of Casa Don Manuel. 








Huarache


Queso Fundido



Pollo Tapatios


Enchiladas Verdes


Entree's served after 2 bites of our appetizers





Friday, September 18, 2020

The Mainland Kitchen & Pub - Manahawkin, NJ

Where:
151 NJ-72
Manahawkin, NJ
08050


What:
The Classic Cheeseburger
 
Build:
Eight (8) ounce burger patty, Muenster cheese, lettuce, tomato and topped with some type of mayo sauce, all tucked into a toasted sesame brioche bun.

Comments:
I love the atmosphere of The Mainland, it's got a casual up-scale vibe that's never too noisy or too quiet and most importantly, the food is prepared consistently from visit to visit, and always with fresh ingredients. Yes, I know, it's just a burger, but take a look at the photo below. The burgers always taste as good as they look and they are always served at the temperature I order.  (The burger in the photo below was ordered "medium-to-medium-rare").  As for the kicked-up mayo sauce, it complimented the burger perfectly. The burger-to-bun ratio is also a plus and the level of toasting of the bun is always consistent and "just enough".  
I'm not a big fan of French fries because most of the time wherever we're dining, getting fries served hot is always a crapshoot. They are either served warm or cold or they are the same-old basic frozen cut potatoes you'll find just about anywhere. The Mainland however, is serving up fried potatoes that are something different. I don't care whether or not they are a frozen brand, (they most likely are), but it really doesn't matter to me, the coating on these potatoes gives them a twice-fried crispy crunch that doesn't get soggy halfway through your meal. Caution: they are addicting.

Other things to try when the shortened Covid menu goes away and the full menu is back:

- Totchos - Fully loaded tater tots - (I would have named them: "Mary Poppin's Tots, because they're practically perfect in every way).

- Short Rib Grilled Cheese - I've only seen this sandwich occasionally on their "specials" menu, so if you see it, order it, OMG.

- Manahawkin corn chowder - it's hearty, not heavy, and it's delicious.


Although not as good as The Beach Haven Fishery's burger, it still slides easily into home plate with a 10/10 on the BC rating scale. 






My wife ordered the Chicken Tinga Taco's, from the new (shortened) Covid menu - they were "just okay".












One more time...



This is The Mainland's current (shortened) menu during these "covid" times...















Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Highlander Deli - West Milford, NJ

Where:
717 Otterhole Rd,
West Milford, NJ 07480

What:
The Blackened Taylor Ham Sandwich

Build:
4 slices of Taylor Ham ("Pork Roll" if you live in South Jersey), Kaiser roll, tomato, mayo, fried onions.

Comments:
Don't underestimate the simplicity of the very few ingredients in this sandwich. It may not sound like a very appealing food/condiment combination, but it works, and it works big. I think the secret here is that they don't overly spice the meat with the blackening seasoning. The quantity (4 slices) and thickness of the meat was perfect and the Kaiser roll,, cotton-soft, but the kicker was when the combination of mayo and blackening seasoning came together to make an orangey, spicy, gooey sauce right before my eyes. The heat from the grilled meat liquified this sauce enough to cause it to seep through the fried onions on the bottom of the sandwich and right into the bread, creating a truly unique flavor. This is a fantastic sandwich. If you're ever in the area, order the blackened Taylor Ham the way I did... you won't be disappointed.