Sunday, April 4, 2010

There are Restaurants . . .

that I really want to like and The Horny Toad in Cave Creek, AZ, is one of them. Unfortunately, I had found it disappointing.

We had eaten there during our mid-December through mid-January visit to the Phoenix area and came away unimpressed. Still, neither of us had ordered the fried chicken which is reputed—on the restaurant’s web site and by user reviewers—to be one of the best in the area. So we decided to give The Horny Toad another chance.

Even though the day was on the cool side, we decided to eat on the spacious outdoor patio as did most of the luncheon patrons including the four cowboys pictured here. Seriously, do you think any of them have ever been within fifty feet of cattle?

Both us started with the “Soup of the Day,” a corn and potato chowder. It was then that I began to suspect that this visit would be no more enjoyable than our prior visit. Tough pieces of yellow corn along with potato chunks were floating in a very bland and tasteless base. The base had no corn flavor; salt and pepper were desperately needed, and butter for richness would have been a major improvement.

Chuck ordered the half chicken dinner with fries and cole slaw. I ordered the fried Icelandic cod platter, also with fries and slaw. After one fry, I remembered one of my complaints at our first visit. While they were hand cut and skin on, they were dry and tough as though they had been sitting too long under a warming lamp. On the other hand, the creamy slaw is quite good.

The chicken can best be described as “o.k.” The flour-based coating was light and crisp, but again lacked for seasoning as did the chicken. It certainly wasn’t anything special. Both of us agreed that my Icelandic cod surpassed the fried chicken. The portion was three large pieces of fish that were coated with a thin and crisp breading with a final roll in crushed corn flakes. The cod was moist, flaky, and sweet and the accompanying tartar sauce was thick with dill pickle bits. Lots of pickle in tartar sauce makes me very happy.

The slaw and cod were quite good. The fries and chicken were not. That means that The Horny Toad only earns a 3.5 Addie score.

A few days later found us at The Bad Donkey, a very casual sub/pizza/salad/ice cream shop in Carefree, AZ. We weren’t looking to be blown away here – and we weren’t. Still, we each had a decent sandwich with a side of very good red skin potato salad. The salad was full of celery, red onion, and red pepper with a hint of vinegar, sugar, and dill weed. A much better than average restaurant potato salad.

Chuck’s sandwich choice was the Toasted Roast with roast beef, Swiss cheese, roasted red peppers, and very mild horseradish sauce on a toasted sub roll. Again, good, but not special.

I ordered the Pizza on a Bun which is described on the menu as being “A Big Honkin’ Gooey, Messy Sub…ah yeah.” This was truth in advertising. It was big. It was gooey and messy. And it contained the contents of a deli’s worth of meat – pepperoni, capicola, prosciutto, and Italian sausage – along with sauce, mozzarella cheese, and roasted red peppers.

Again, I think mine was the better of the two choices, but I have no acute craving to return in the near future.

Again, this is no better than a 3.5 Addie sub shop.

It was time for pizza and our favorite pizza stop in this area is the Oregano’s Pizza Bistro at Shea and Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale.

And the pizza of choice is the Bistro Classic – a white pizza brushed with garlic butter and topped with roma tomatoes, diced red onion, thinly sliced basil, and four Italian cheeses. Except – hold the diced red onion and three of the four cheeses. Mozzarella only, please. Oh, and put the basil on when the pie comes out of the oven. Thanks.

This pizza with its thin cracker-like crust, profusion of tomato slices, and moderation when applying the cheese has become one of our nation-wide favorites. We had been ordering the sixteen inch medium to large size. This time we went for it. And we ate every morsel of this eighteen inch large without a struggle.

This is a 5.0 Addie pizza.

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