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Lunch In Fort Wayne – Don Hall’s Old Gas House

In the wee hours of the morning, we headed over to Fort Wayne, IN, to visit a potential client. After the meeting, it was time to eat lunch. Breakfast was pretty much skipped since we left at 5AM and drove like fiends, so we had to eat. I ended up finding Don Hall’s Old Gas House using the yelp app. What an excellent find it turned out to be!

The place is sizeable and was pretty much packed when we got there. It was a nice mix of people – young, old, business, casual, just a nice random mix. Driving into Fort Wayne was kind of depressing, but once we got into the downtown area, where Don Hall’s is, it was much more pleasant. It’s actually a cute and cool downtown! And it turns out that old Don Hall has quite a little dynasty for himself in Fort Wayne.

We both started with a bowl of gumbo. This was super good and quite spicy! J said he knows gumbo, and this was good gumbo. He wanted more rice in his gumbo, so he asked, and they were nice enough to bring him out a little bowl of extra rice.

For my entree, I got the blackened shrimp with mango salsa and pickled okra, served on top of mixed greens. The shrimp were huge, grilled just right, and spiced well. The mango salsa was a nice sweet contrast to the savory shrimp. But my favorite thing about this dish? The pickled okra! I like okra, but I’ve only had fried okra before. But I totally fell in love with these pickled okras. They were split in half and just mildly pickled. They had a tiny little hint of spicy, but not that much. Yes, they’re still fuzzy on the outside, but they weren’t at all mushy on the inside like fried okra tends to be. They had just the right amount of crunch.

Also, my other truly favorite thing about this lunch was the garlic bread sticks. Oh. My. Word. I didn’t even take a picture of them because I was too busy shoving them in my mouth. First off, they were piping hot. Second off, they were drenched, literally drenched, but not soggy or anything, in garlic butter. It was a perfect and delicious bread stick dunked into perfect and delicious hot garlic butter. My goodness, I could have eaten 100 more and died happy. Service was nice and friendly. This was a random place where we pretty much just ended up, but I would definitely come back here if I’m ever back in Fort Wayne!

Hall Restaurant Gas House on Urbanspoon

Starlight Cafe – Greenville

starlightinside

For my last dinner in Greenville, I finally got a chance to go to Starlight Cafe in downtown Greenville. It had gotten fairly good reviews everywhere I had checked and my server at Plum Tree had recommended it. I had high hopes. Boy, was I disappointed. It probably also did not help that I had dined at Chef & The Farmer the night before. That’s a tough act to follow. But even if I had eaten at, oh, let’s say, Applebee’s, I would have probably still been disappointed with this place. The place is interesting on the inside. They have two main dining areas and one area was sectioned off for a private party on the night I was there.

I sat at the bar. This was probably my first mistake. There was a baby of an employee yakking next to me. I mean there’s nothing wrong with babies, but I don’t need to have to be forced to hear them when I’m eating at some place nice. If I’m ordering a $29 entree, and sitting at the bar, I shouldn’t have to listen to random baby yelling, should I?

starlightsalad

Their menu has a combination of southern, seafood, and european, particularly belgian, dishes. I wanted to get the soup of the day, the corn chowder, but after deciding on my entree, I decided on a house salad instead. Boy, did this salad suck it. It was a pile of mediocre greens, with a few strips of carrots, a few slivers of red onions, some cucumbers, and 3 teeny tiny croutons. The apple cider vinaigrette was rather blah, and this entire salad was extremely blah. There was nothing interesting about it. In fact, the best part was the cucumbers. I worked really hard getting every bit of carrot because I was desperately searching for flavor. The complimentary bread was just ok, but the olive oil that came with it was actually quite good.

starlightscallops

My gut told me not to get this scallop dish, but the server recommended it. She said everyone who orders it loves it and wants to drink the broth. I decided to go with it anyway because I just love scallops so damn much. This was a belgian style scallops dish, with the scallops being simmered with potato, leeks, celery, and littleneck clams. This wasn’t bad, but it was so bland! It was like a watery clam chowder broth with some scallops, potatoes, and clams thrown in. I tasted no leeks at all. Now there were a lot of scallops in here, and a few clams, but it was also seriously overpriced. This was much more expensive than my entree at Chef & The Farmer and that just doesn’t seem right. The quality of the food, the presentation, the ingredients, the service… none of that compared to what I experienced at Chef & The Farmer. Greenville, you are being robbed!

The service… oh the service… where to start? So I sat at the bar, and was waited on by two people. But I don’t think they were aware of each other. One would ask me if I was ready to order, I would order, and then the other would come by and ask me what I wanted to order. Same with the drinks. Then one would ask if I wanted my check, and then the other would come by and ask me if I wanted my check. It was super annoying. And the guy who was waiting on me, he came by, and while dropping off a pepper grinder asked me how my salad was. But he wasn’t really asking me. He didn’t even stop in front of me or look at me as he asked, it was just more of temporary slowdown as he dropped off the pepper grinder, and he had no interest in if I would have an answer. It was so distasteful. It’s obviously you don’t give a crap what I think of my salad, so don’t bother asking! Overall, I was very disappointed with my meal. I had read some good reviews, so I had some decent expectations going in. I was disappointed in both the overpriced and blah food and the service. I do not consider this place fine dining in any way. They might consider themselves this way due to the pricing, but boy, have they go it wrong! They need to take a look at Plum Tree and Chef & The Farmer and take some lessons!

Starlight Cafe on Urbanspoon

Parker’s Barbecue – A Whole New BBQ

parkersplatter

When in NC, you have to try the local bbq. The last time I was in NC, it was Winston-Salem, and it was really different from what I ended up having in Greenville. We stopped by a local favorite, Parker’s Barbecue. The place was pretty big, and the parking lot was filled up. It’s a no-nonsense place, you just order and wait and then pick up your food. When you order bbq here, you don’t get to choose what kind. There’s no choice. There’s only one kind of bbq they sell here. It’s whole hog, slow roasted every day and infused with their signature sauce. It’s hand chopped, and basically shredded. It’s really quite different than any other bbq I’ve ever had in my life. That’s what I love about bbq, the geographic differences. Here, it’s just a very light vinegar based sauce, which makes it super mild. And there was also some crushed red pepper in there, along with something else mysterious. Not sure what it was, but it may have been crumbs of corn bread or crumbs of some kind of batter… honestly I have no idea. It was so different, unlike any other bbq I’ve ever had before, and so tasty!

So, um, this was a small platter. Yes, I said small. You get a heaping of meat and 3 sides. And the sides are also heaping. And the hush puppies just come with every platter. Man, their portion sizes are nuts. All of the sides were good, especially the mac & cheese and the slaw. The slaw was especially vinegary and zesty. I loved it. The mac & cheese is like what my mom would make, if she was a lovely southern mom instead of a little korean lady. The hush puppies here are shaped like that, instead of the round balls I’m used to seeing.

parkersmenu

One thing that was really interesting was that there were livers and gizzards on the menu. And what a menu it was… look how old school it is! It’s adorable. But what was more interesting than livers and gizzards was that they were also on the kid’s menu! What kid wants to eat livers and gizzards?
Parkers Barbecue Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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