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My Aldi experience!

I shop at Aldi for one primary reason: the Kroger in town is a royal crowded pain in the a** with its "everything for everyone and everyone spend the afternoon here" positioning. It's often not even a monetary issue... I am the kind of person who was used to over-paying at the neighborhood IGA just to avoid crowds, until those types of small groceries were essentially rendered virtually illegal by the new economy.

I have only bought a few lame and avoidable things at Aldi. The beef tenderloin-like filets are a mite tough and are not really tender. Their thick cut bacon cooked down to almost nothing, and I returned it. A couple of other things, maybe. Produce is surprisingly good (it's usually pre-wrapped), the German chocolates are far better than the US equivalents.

I'm also very amused by Aldi's faux-mass market ripoff brands. I bought a Belgian Lager there a couple of days ago called something like "Boot Tread". Seems to be a riff on "Fat Tire" Belgian lager.

I'm a highly, highly critical consumer, I constantly yell at restaurant managers for being utter imbeciles, and yet I have found Aldi to be a consistent pleasure to shop with.

The only way that Aldi's can really mess up is by installing pharmacies, ATMs, gas stations, and all of the other crap that makes normal groceries a crowded pain in the ass.

May 07, 2015
donw9876 in Chains

Attention all Trader Joe Shoppers!

I'm a total cheapy McCheapskate and I find Trader Joe's to be THE place to find unique foodie items and generally excellent values, in quantities that normal families and singles can actually use.

One example: their olive oils are *much* less expensive than chain grocery stores and are beat in unit price only by someplace like Costco, which makes you buy, say, 2 gallons of extra virgin oil at one time. TJ jarred pasta sauces are inexpensive and high quality with little added sugar and little of that crap that thickens sauces artificially. Last spring I purchased an enormous brussel sprout stalk that yielded the equivalent of 3-4 1b. bags from the grocery, for 2.99 or so. And $5/lb for high quality corned beef is at the higher end for uncooked corned beef but not unreasonable if it's high quality. (If that was the deli meat price, $5/lb is insanely cheap for 2014!)

Aug 16, 2014
donw9876 in Chains

Discontinued at Trader Joe's: January 2014-June 2014 [old]

From a visit in mid-May:

Trader Joe's seems to have stopped selling their baguettes - which were probably not bakery quality but respectable.

And they now don't stock PLAIN, non virgin olive oil. Only various types of extra virgin oil. TJ's was my go-to for quality olive oil at a low price.

Jun 05, 2014
donw9876 in Chains

Subway Flatizza

My review:

Oh, yuck. 0 out of 5.

Tough bread - tastes like the yoga mats the bread was made from. Mediocre sauce and cheese.

Probably this was the least enjoyable food item I've had in a month. Frozen pizzas are usually better than this.

Avoid. That's all.

May 03, 2014
donw9876 in Chains


I've tried the one in Cincinnati. Ikea needs to stick with building and selling furniture and household goods.

My wife and I went to the cafe one evening. She had a meatball dinner and I had a flatbread sandwich.

"Meh" sums it up. It wasn't very good, and it wasn't very cheap.

Apr 28, 2014
donw9876 in Chains

Dorot frozen herbs in metro Detroit?

Costco in our area (Cincinnati) sometimes carries a variety pack of cubes of several of the herbs.

Dec 14, 2013
donw9876 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati (West Chester) Thursday night

Ah! Got a perfect place for a family+beer. Blue Ash Chili in Mason. You can have your beer but there is plenty of comfortable seating, and many kid friendly menu items.

It's the flip side of Aponte's ... Blue Ash Chili was profiled on Diners, Dives and Drive-Ins. It needed no makeover.

It's not wildly imaginative food but it's a high quality place to eat. And you can try Cincinnati style chili there.

Aug 29, 2013
donw9876 in Great Lakes

Cincinnati (West Chester) Thursday night

For Indian, I like Tandoor in Montgomery.

Aug 27, 2013
donw9876 in Great Lakes

Fish Boil worth it?

Google it... there's lots of info online.

This seems to be the only cuisine I have heard of that uses kerosene as an ingredient. :)

Sounds horrid to me.

Aug 04, 2013
donw9876 in Great Lakes

Wernesgruner being discontinued by Aldi's?

It's a nice pilsner, similar to a Czech pilsner.

Jul 28, 2013
donw9876 in Beer

Taco, freakin', Bell.

I'm in my 50s and I have an odd personal loyalty to Taco Bell. It's been around throughout my adolescence and adult life. In the 70s TB was open at 3 AM when the bars closed down and we needed (well, wanted) a quick bite. The food has always been cheap and satisfying. The basic concept has never really changed. The core menu items have been relatively unchanging, although TB's ingredients have lowered in quality over the years like all fast food place's have. For instance, in the 70s the ground beef was all-meat, and when Mexican pizzas were first introduced you got green onions as a garnish. Neither is true today. But it's still pretty much the same stuff.

In contrast... Long John Silver's just seems gross today (maybe it was back in the day, too.) Arby's was once a go-to chain with delicious sandwiches and today I disregard it, it's just awful.

I think only McDonald's and Taco Bell have sort of kept their old-line qualities over the years.

Jul 28, 2013
donw9876 in Chains

Wernesgruner being discontinued by Aldi's?

The checkout girl at Aldi's the other day told me to buy whatever Wernesgruner that I thought that I might want, because they were going to stop carrying it.

Is this a chainwide thing or just this particular Aldi?

Jul 14, 2013
donw9876 in Beer

"We're out of salsa" -- decision making when the manager's not around

This isn't exactly the same thing, but I had lunch once at a Ruby Tuesday's and I ordered some plated entree like meatloaf. I wanted some bread or a roll or a biscuit to go with it.

The guy waiting on me was almost dumbfounded. Like "we NEVER, EVER get ANYONE asking for something like that, and we simply Do, Not, Ever!!!! Have Anything Like that."

Ruby's sucks, of course, but it was like I was asking for rack of lamb for one, or sushi.

Watching lots of restaurant rescue and makeover shows like RI, KN, "Restaurant Stakeout", and "Mystery Diners", I have realized since then that in most restaurants, especially chains, you may as well be dealing with robots... robots with lots of emotional needs and problems and downtime.

"Guest wants bread... DOES NOT COMPUTE... NORMAN, PLEASE COORDINATE." (Smokes starts coming out of the waiter's ears.)

Jul 12, 2013
donw9876 in Chains

"Jack in the Box closing nearly 70 Qdoba restaurants"


I've never really enjoyed eating at any of the counter service burrito places. Chipotle, Qdoba, and the favorite of this board, Hot Head Burritos :).

They all make me feel hurried and hassled when I have to pick ingredients at top speed while there's a line of people behind me. I don't even get this feeling at Subway which has a similar service format.

The Qdoba I've been to locally always seems much less "personable" than any other fast food restaurant. So, no big surprise.

Jun 19, 2013
donw9876 in Chains

I don't care if I never set foot again in a...............

Hot Head Burritos. (as posted already.)

Claddagh Pub. (extraordinarily bad food in their Mason, Ohio location)

Arby's. A shell of a once fine fast food chain serving thinly sliced beef loaf and greasy fries.

May 20, 2013
donw9876 in Chains

Hot Head Burritos

Hot Head is absolutely LOVED, believe it or not, by all kinds of people. I don't get it either. There are apparently enough people with no sense of taste that keep Hot Head going and expanding.

Their meats are straight Sysco crap off the truck and I've never really liked anything we've gotten there. They can't even make a serving of nachos present well to be eaten right in the restaurant ... my wife got what was a bowl of cheese sauce covering chips that got instantly limp.

Hot Head is a local Dayton, Ohio success story, being started by ex-owners of some Subway franchises. So I think a very distorted version of Subway's product philosophy was used to create Hot Head. Generic food service level fare works for sandwiches but not for Mexican fast food.

May 20, 2013
donw9876 in Chains

Aldi's - brand name cheese section

I just went back to the same Aldi store and there is no more Dubliner cheese, but that price was right. They have a few squares of a different flavor of Kerrygold. So the Kerrygold seems to have been a St. Patrick's or early spring deal, then. The Jarlsberg is now being sold and is actually 6.49/lb.

Apr 05, 2013
donw9876 in Chains

Aldi's - brand name cheese section

Agreed, it was a bargain. This is Ohio and they have to key off of the local shopper preferences.

Apr 03, 2013
donw9876 in Chains

Aldi's - brand name cheese section

At Aldi in Lebanon, OH, I purchased 7 oz blocks of Dubliner Cheese for $2.99. Jarlsberg wedges were priced variably at $4.99 or so a lb. a while back (last fall, I think.)

Apr 02, 2013
donw9876 in Chains

Double decker sandwiches in Cinncinati?

I have to back up jmckee - Jim Dandy's is mediocre and not in any way worth a trip. At least for pulled pork. They keep it swimming in a tub of broth so it's wet and tasteless when served. The kids that work behind the counter are disinterested. Just a vibe of nobody caring. It's highly overrated. Also, I strongly recommend Tacqueria Maya on Fields Ertel over Tacqueria Mercado in Fairfield. T. Mercado just isn't that good or special.

Dec 07, 2012
donw9876 in Great Lakes

Ohio Trip - October 2012

I'm a local (Dayton-Cinci area) and I learned about some places (Coldwater Cafe) that I didn't know much about before.

Hothead Burritos is an expanding Dayton based chain that is the brainchild of former Subway franchise owners. (So, go figure on the food quality.) The local business press constantly blathers about how awesome they are just because they're Dayton based and Dayton is an economic hellhole. I've eaten at HH a total of three times and I couldn't agree with you more. Even the nachos they prepare are a soupy disgusting mess - the packaged nachos and cheese tray you get at a ballpark is superior. But Hothead has a fan base and people around here think they're great!

Anyway, excellent review and descriptions.

Dec 03, 2012
donw9876 in Great Lakes

Japanese Convenience Stores in the US?

Fun fact: Lawson Milk Stores covered Ohio throughout the 1970s. They were the 7-11s of their day. The Japanese chain was a subsidiary that continued to exist and thrive after the US store chain disappeared. Even the typeface that the Japanese Lawsons use today in their signs was something you saw all over town in Dayton or Cleveland.

For proof, here's a classic local Lawson's commercial from the 70s:


Dec 03, 2012
donw9876 in Chains

Surprising finds at WalMart

Ditto on the World brand pizza. It's better than any other frozen pizza I've had and like you said, gives chains a run for their money.

Sep 27, 2012
donw9876 in Chains

Below-the-Radar Local and Small Regional Chains That Are Worth Knowing About

> Jim Dandy's, however, has gone waaaaaay downhill.

I found that out this summer and I can agree completely. Yech.

I dunno. I liked BBQ Revue when I worked around Oakley but some reviews say it's mediocre.

To get back to the thread topic, Oinkadoodlemoo is a clone of City BBQ. If one likes City BBQ they should like Oinkadoodlemoo.

Sep 19, 2012
donw9876 in Chains

Below-the-Radar Local and Small Regional Chains That Are Worth Knowing About

Maybe it depends on the location. We went to the West Chester (n. Cincinnati) location a while back and it was poorly run (kids were messing in the condiments bar with restaurant staff doing nothing to discourage it) and the meats were not very good. We mainly go to the Centerville location and everything - meats, sides - is great. I've been to several locally owned one unit BBQs in the area and this City BBQ beats each one... as well as Oinka doodlemoo.

Sep 19, 2012
donw9876 in Chains

Below-the-Radar Local and Small Regional Chains That Are Worth Knowing About

Yup - http://oinkadoodlemoo.com/

Like I said, it's OK BBQ, but it's expensive compared to CityBBQ.

Sep 12, 2012
donw9876 in Chains

Below-the-Radar Local and Small Regional Chains That Are Worth Knowing About

This should really have been a "yay or nay" thread.

From Ohio:

Nay: Hot Head Burritos - they started in Dayton and I think they are expanding into western PA (Pittsburgh area.) Everything we've gotten here has been mediocre and tasteless. Taco Bell is actually better.

Nay: Oinkadoodlemoo BBQ based in Dayton. Limited sides and meats and poor value (expensive) compared to another regional BBQ chain which I really like (next).

Yay: City BBQ, based in Columbus, Ohio. Great value for BBQ, excellent smoked meats, great sides like greens.

Sep 12, 2012
donw9876 in Chains

Trader Joe's Yea/Nay Thread - 3rd quarter 2012 [OLD]


This isn't a seasonal thing, but Joe's marinara and puttanesca sauces are nicely balanced and tasty. And compared to premium sauces from the supermarket, which they directly compare to, very well priced. A 16 oz jar of tomato basil marinara is only $1.79, which is a real value.

Their jarred marinated artichokes are also a great value and very high quality (very low amounts of fibrous stuff.)

Their olive oils are a terrific value for household sized bottles.

Sep 11, 2012
donw9876 in Chains

North Cincinnati casual dinner recs

Blue Ash Chili

Marx Brothers Bagels

Brown Dog Cafe (where the food is alleged to be superb but the cheapest thing on the menu was a $16 hamburger)

Tandoor India

Aug 08, 2012
donw9876 in Great Lakes

Sigh................ Cooking Channel and Baron Ambrosia

The first time I watched "the Baron" I was ready to put a brick through the TV set. I thought his food review was quite good, but the schtick was making me almost rabid with irritation.

The second time I watched him, I simply LOLed at the guy's balls to put on an act like this while he is filming episodes in various restaurants, and especially the pseudo-romantic and flirtatious schticks with the female workers.

I was also thinking of the sheer human degradation that he had to undergo before he was a personality, while he developed this schtick. :)

It grew on me suddenly - his shows have a very experimental, edgy feel to them.

Even aside from Nadia G's Italian biker babe thing, I don't find much value in her presentation. Someone in this thread compared her to an edgier RR and I think that's accurate. IE, she doesn't explain why she is adding whatever she is to a dish. It's all supposed to be magic.

Jul 25, 2012
donw9876 in Food Media & News