Archive for June, 2010

Pho Cali

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Pho Cali
1578 Main St
Sarasota, FL 34236

Good Food: 2.5/5 | Good Service : 3.5/5

Having a craving for Vietnamese food during a Florida trip, I decided to try Pho Cali after several locals recommended downtown Sarasota’s Main Street. Things looked promising the first time I stopped by, as the restaurant was packed on a Thursday night. The regular goi con/spring rolls I ordered came with the standard 2 shrimp per roll. The dipping sauce was a disappointment – a watery and over-sugared slightly orange liquid with no spice or bite. The pho I ordered came with the expected thinly sliced rare beef slices, but the broth was your standard pho broth and did not add or detract from the soup overall.

The second time I stopped by was for a takeout order about 30 minutes prior to closing on a Monday. I ordered the shredded pork goi cuon and the eggplant sauteed in garlic sauce. The goi cuon were disappointing, as there wasn’t enough meat to balance out the vegetables & no trace of shredded pork skin. My eggplant also suffered from the same sugary heavy hand, with onion & eggplant slices swimming in a watery brown sugar sauce & no garlic to be found. I was left woefully unsatisfied at the end of my meal.

Pho Cali also needs to work on their customer service – others have complained about the rough inconsistent attention and this didn’t add anything to my experience.

While they do have a very extensive menu, I would rather have a place that can consistently deliver well on a small offering vs. inconsistent food quality on a large menu. I can’t recommend going to this Vietnamese restaurant.

Frankie’s BBQ

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

Frankie’s BBQ
1621 Circle Ave/W. Washington Ave
South Bend, IN 46628
(574) 287-8993

Good Food : 4/5 | Good Service : 4/5

2nd location opening on June 19, 2010
1132 South Bend Ave
South Bend, IN 46617

While running some errands in the South Bend/Mishawaka, IN area, the hubbie and I had a hankering for some pulled pork BBQ. It was one of those hot humid summer days, where you feel exhausted due to the heat and humidity & don’t want to do anything that resembles work. So we first tried to go to a BBQ place we had recently discovered when Smokey Bones underwent its corporate changes and closed its local franchise. No luck as the place was not open on Mondays, so a Google search turned up Frankie’s BBQ.

We went to the W. Washington Ave location, which turns out to be the main location for this long-time business, as the Niles location phone number was disconnected and the South Bend Ave location looked closed/abandoned (Note – the South Bend Ave location will be re-opening up for business on June 19th, 2010 and will be run by Terrence Trotter, brother to Sean Trotter who owns the W. Washington Ave business). It was pretty late, and we arrived about 1/2 hour before closing. There was a cashier/counterperson and one kitchen staff inside & the lights were already turned off in the small dining area, so we decided to do takeout.

The restaurant is located in a not-so-nice section of South Bend, IN southeast of the South Bend Regional Airport. It’s located at an eastern curve of W. Washington & you can’t miss the large building & sign. There were iron bars behind the front window near the cash register, and when you walked in to place your order, the cashier talked to you behind a sheet of bank teller glass. Payment was passed to the cashier via an opening in the 1″ thick plastic sheet. I don’t know if this was because of the time, as another online lunch review for the place I read didn’t mention this detail.


Pork shoulder dinner

Despite the slightly intimidating setup, the counterperson was very helpful and accommodating, answering my questions as best as she could on how much meat came in the pork shoulder dinner. She was even nice enough to make sure that the bread would not be plopped on top of the dinner, but would be wrapped separately to keep it clean.

2 pork shoulder sandwiches and a 1/2 rack of pork ribs dinners later, we settled ourselves in front of our BBQ feast. And it was definitely more than enough food for the 2 of us! Each dinner came with 2 slices of white bread, a large helping of cottage fries, a small plastic cup of coleslaw & lots of bbq sauce. The coleslaw was very heavy in mayonnaise dressing and we didn’t end up eating it, but the fries were nice & crisp and were great dipped in the sauce.

The pulled pork was smoked with a slightly different wood than we had tasted in other BBQ’s & the sauce that accompanied it had a nice balance of tang & peppery taste. There was definitely enough there to make 2 sandwiches, and we had 2 of these!

Pork ribs dinner

Pork ribs dinner

The pork ribs were a little dry on the outside (perhaps because they had been sitting all night?) and had a strong smoky taste, wonderful BBQ bark and the meat came off the bones easily. These were full rib bones, not baby backs, so they had that side rib portion with the little bones attached. 1/2 a rack = 6 ribs, a very generous portion. The BBQ sauce for the ribs was a darker sauce, with a spicy flavor that complemented the heavy smoky flavor.

Leftovers heated up great, moistening up the ribs and making up for another great lazy summer dinner.

If you’ve got a late-night hankering for barbecue, this is the place to go. Frankie’s W. Washington Ave location is open late until 9:45pm Monday-Wednesday, 10:45 pm Thursday & Friday, and 1:45am on Saturday & Sunday.