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Category Archives: Bar and Grill

Erik and Kira (and Suzanne) Eat Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse

Kira and Erik feeding each other pecan pie at Bobby's Colorado Steakhouse

Yes, this is the same “Bobby” that owned the bars & grills Bobby’s and Bobby’s Too, which we’ve already reviewed. It even has some of the same serving staff as the old places, which are now both closed. But the menu at Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse is sufficiently different from the old Bobby’ses that we deemed it worth reviewing again. Also, we like it a lot.

It’s also the same location as the old Colorado Steakhouse that we didn’t get around to reviewing before it closed. But don’t worry, it wasn’t much of a restaurant back then, so you’re not missing out much. What? You want to hear about it anyway? Fine, I guess I can tell you one story. Kira and I stopped by late one night with a number of friends and the specials menu near the door had the soup of the day listed as “chicken tort.” We asked the server what the “tort.” stood for, and he assured us that it was “chicken tortellini” soup. This sounded delicious, and several of us ordered the chicken tortellini soup. You can probably guess by now that “tort.” did not stand for “tortellini”. At a well-run restaurant, the server would’ve come back to the table, apologized, and asked us if we wanted to change our order. But at the old Colorado Steakhouse, they just brought the chicken tortilla soup without comment. So yeah, you’re not missing much.

Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse. Friday, August 8th, 2014. Happy hour.

A big neon sign reading "Colorado Steakhouse"

The first thing that you’ll notice when you approach Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse is the enormous neon* sign out front. In fact, according to Bobby, current Bloomington laws forbid building new signs that big. He says that the only reason why Bobby’s new restaurant has “Colorado Steakhouse” as part of its name is because that’s what’s on the sign, and getting a new sign would’ve meant getting a smaller sign.

*Fun fact: “neon” signs don’t always have neon in them. Different mixtures of noble gasses (including helium, neon, argon, krypton, and xenon) produce different colors of light, and yet more colors are produced by using an argon-mercury mixture inside the tube and a phosphorescent paint on the outside of the tube.

On the outside, the steakhouse looks almost exactly the same as it did before, including the patio seating out front and the entrance to the “Saloon” in the back. But on the inside… well on the inside it looks exactly the same as it used to as well. The place has a cozy, homey feel to it with hardwood floors, visible wooden beams on the relatively low ceiling, and an enormous fireplace in the center of one of the dining rooms. The place is pretty big, but it’s divided up into smaller areas in a way that gives a more intimate feeling. Decor was just about the only thing the old place had going for it, and Bobby knows a good thing when he sees it.

The rear entrance to the "Saloon" part of Bobby's Colorado Steakhouse

The rear entrance to the “Saloon”.

Unless we’re heading to the Sunday brunch buffet (which is fabulous and probably deserves a review by itself), we usually head in the back door to the Saloon area, and that’s where we went for this visit. There’s not a whole lot of difference between the front of the restaurant and the bar area in the back. There are a couple of TVs back there, but the full menu is available in both locations. It’s the place where the regulars go, and the servers are always friendly and quick with a joke.

Suzanne gives two thumbs up to her fish and chips.

Suzanne, enjoying her fish and chips.

We met our friend Suzanne in the saloon on a Friday during happy hour (4-6pm), when they always have a free “munchie bar”. Bobby is big on specials and most workdays have some sort of regular drink special (Martini Mondays, 2 for Tuesday: double mixed drinks*, Winey Wednesday, and Sure Happy It’s Thursday: draft pints), but since I don’t drink alcohol and Kira drinks very little, we prefer to visit for the Friday munchie bar. The “munchies” are usually pretty good and in the past have included buffalo wings, potato skins, and nachos. On this particular visit, they had a tray full of Italian beef and a stack of little buns to put it on. The beef was tasty and very moist and all three of us liked it a lot. I could easily have just eaten that for dinner and been very happy. Heck, we would’ve been happy if we’d paid money for it. But there were other things on the menu that needed reviewing, so we had to order more food. The things we do for our readers…

*Frankly, I have no idea what a “double mixed drink” is.

There’s a bar menu and a restaurant menu, but you can order from both no matter where you sit. Most of the entrées on the restaurant menu come with access to the impressive salad bar. You’ll find all the usual salad fixings at the salad bar, but there’s also usually some kind baked dessert item (this time it was donut holes with apple butter), a soup (on this trip it was a properly labeled tortilla soup), and blinis and caviar. I find the the caviar and blinis* more amusing than tasty. I don’t really get caviar; it tastes very slightly of ocean, and that’s about it. The tort. tortilla soup was good, but not fantastic. It wasn’t particularly spicy, and Kira enjoyed the big chunks of chicken in it.

Kira at the salad bar.*For those few of our readers who didn’t grow up eating caviar, blinis are tiny little tasteless pancake things that are really just there because if you just spooned caviar into your mouth, you’d run out of caviar pretty quickly.

We’ve been to the new Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse a number of times, and we’ve enjoyed almost everything we’ve ordered. I heartily recommend the American Kobe beef hamburger, which is hands-down the best burger in town.

I’m about to go off on a digression about Kobe beef burgers in general. Feel free to skip to the next paragraph if you like. You may have heard of Kobe beef before; it’s renowned for being flavorful, tender, and well-marbled with fat. You’ll also hear plenty of stories about how the cows in Kobe are treated, including being brushed every day and fed beer to drink. Some of those stories might even be partly true. The beer, massages, and classical music are almost certainly not true. But if you’re eating in the U.S., you’re almost certainly not eating beef from cows grown in Kobe, Japan. Like “Champagne” or “Vidalia onions”, usage of the phrase “Kobe beef” is heavily controlled in Japan. Until 2012, it wasn’t even legal to export true “Kobe beef” out of Japan. If you see “Kobe” and “beef” on a menu item in the U.S., it’s probably not made with genuine “Kobe beef”, but rather with an American hybrid of the same kind of cattle. This is usually a good thing as otherwise it would be absurdly expensive, to the point where making a hamburger out of it would just be ridiculous. However, I’ve been to a number of places (only one in Bloomington) that serve hamburgers made with American Kobe beef, and they’re usually quite good. They’ve got a lot of fat in them, but instead of tasting greasy, they have a juicy, almost buttery quality to them. If you’re going to order a Kobe burger, do not order it medium-well or well-done, no matter how you usually like your burgers cooked. If you can’t bring yourself to eat a medium-rare burger, then just save your money and get a regular beef burger.

Rib-eye steak, steamed broccoli, deep-fried mushroom.

Erik’s dish: rib-eye, fried mushroom, and broccoli.

The Kobe burger at Bobby’s is a fantastic example of this kind of burger. It’s buttery and meaty and oh-so delicious. But… it’s not always consistently cooked. For whatever reason, sometimes when I order it medium rare, it comes out medium-well or even well-done. This has happened to me maybe three times out of the maybe ten times I’ve ordered the Kobe burger here. If this were just an ordinary hamburger, I wouldn’t even complain, but when they get it right, it’s so, so good. So if you want to taste the best burger in Bloomington, send it back if it comes out overdone. They’ll be happy to get you a new one, and you’ll probably get a visit from Bobby to make sure the second one came out done properly

A properly cooked piece of steak: brown on the outside and dark reddish pink on the inside.

A true medium-rare.

The one thing on the menu that I’d recommend most people avoid is the “Ultimate Grilled Cheese”. It’s made with bleu cheese, cheddar, and Swiss and topped with radish and arugula. Sometimes when I see a disgusting-sounding description like this on a menu, it turns out that it actually tastes fantastic. This is not one of those cases. The blue cheese is extremely overpowering, and the veggies do nothing to cut into that flavor. I can imagine somebody who would like this sandwich, but that person is definitely not me. Fortunately, there are a few other vegetarian items on the menu (eggplant parmesan, the quiche of the day, a portobello mushroom sandwich, a veggie quesadilla, and a couple of pasta dishes). There are a couple of vegan options, but not many, although there’s always the wonderful salad bar.

On this particular visit, we wanted to try some of the dishes that we hadn’t tried before. In particular, I (Erik) had somehow managed to avoid ordering steak at this steakhouse, so that’s what I decided to order. Initially, I’d planned on ordering the filet mignon or the prime rib, but the server talked me into the rib-eye instead. It was maybe a bit too fatty for me, but I think that’s just me. The meat was tasty and cooked as requested: a true medium rare, with a nice brown crust and a dark reddish-pink center. It came with a single fried mushroom, which was delicious. I’m not usually crazy about the standard white mushroom, but battered and fried, it is delicious. Also hot. I’m not sure what it is about fried mushrooms, but they seem to maintain their heat longer than other battered and deep-fried vegetables. I ordered broccoli for my side dish, and I think it was a tad over-cooked, but I like a bit more crunch in my cooked veggies than some.

Jack Daniels salmon with a wedge of lemon and a baked potato with dishes of butter and sour cream.

The Jack Daniels salmon

Kira ordered the Jack Daniels salmon with a baked potato. I thought the fish was a bit too fishy, but then I always think that about salmon (unless we cook it at home ourselves for some reason). Kira liked the salmon: “a good thick portion with good flavor.” The baked potato was also good, although, as she put it, “you can’t really screw up a baked potato.”*

*If you’re anything like me, the pedant in you really wants to provide a counterargument, but I think we all know what she means.

Suzanne ordered the fish and chips, which were very tender, as all good fish and chips should be. Nothing fancy, but definitely tasty. The “chips” were your standard thick-cut steak fries, tasty with ketchup and malt vinegar.*

*Kira is probably screwing up her face at this, since we have a difference of opinion about malt vinegar. The difference being that I’m right and she’s wrong. (Hey, if she disagrees, then she can volunteer to write up the reviews herself.)

A slice of pecan pie with gooey filling.To finish things off, we ordered a slice of pecan pie (Kira’s favorite kind of pie). It’s kind of a fad these days to make pecan pie with bourbon, and maybe there’s something to it, but the bourbon flavor was a bit too strong for Kira and I. But it was still a good pecan pie, and it’s hard to go wrong with that.

The short version: Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse has all the best parts of the old Bobby’s and not much of the old Colorado Steakhouse. The servers are friendly, especially back in the Saloon. There are lots of good food options: the Sunday brunch is fantastic, the Kobe burger is the best burger in town (but send it back if it’s overcooked), the salad bar is great, and there are free munchies on Fridays. But unless you’re a blue cheese masochist, avoid the grilled cheese.

 

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Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings signA bar and grill specializing in chicken wings.

Location:
1350 W Bloomfield Rd
Bloomington, IN 47403
(812) 339-2900

Hours:
Monday – Thursday: 11am – 1am
Friday – Saturday: 11am – 2am
Sunday: 11am – 12am

Website: http://www.buffalowildwings.com/en/locations/Detail/3242
Menu: http://www.buffalowildwings.com/en/menu/

(Info updated May 2014. -Erik)

 

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Kira Eats Buffalo Wild Wings

(Way back in 2007, we ate at a bunch of places in a row (Bucceto’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, BuffaLouie’s), so there was a bit of a back-log in writing reviews. For some reason, we wrote the reviews for Buffalo Wild Wings, and we were waiting to publish them until after we’d written the reviews for Bucceto’s. We never got around to writing the reviews for Bucceto’s, so these reviews just sat in the draft queue for 7 years. This is really a long, roundabout way of saying that these are old reviews, but you’ve probably never seen them before. -Erik, May 2014)

Kira, in front of her bacon cheeseburger at Buffalo Wild WingsToo many wings in a row! I’m not a big wing fan, but if they are cheap and good, I’m happy to eat a bucket full. I had never been to a Buffalo Wild Wings before, but Erik kept saying that he had been to one someplace else and didn’t really like it, so I wasn’t looking forward to going.

The interior was huge, with ten million more TV’s then I thought there would be. It is very much a sports bar, and the seating area is just one huge rectangle (part of it with bar seating) with TV’s hanging from the ceiling on every possible side. When we were there they were tuned to at least 5 different channels, showing baseball, lacrosse, and trivia. At least there was variety.

More than ten million TV's.There was also variety in wings. They specialize in wings with about 15 different types of sauce, and display them in a supposed spectrum of spiciness.  We decided to get 18 wings in three different sauces: mild, honey BBQ, and parmesan garlic. The parmesan garlic was really good. The other 2 were tasty, but nothing spectacular. The spectrum isn’t quite true, since the mild was quite a bit spicier then the honey BBQ.

On top of the wings, I decided to order the honey BBQ bacon burger to see what a non-wing menu item would taste like. They didn’t ask how I wanted it done, but it came out very, very well done and burnt around the edges so I sent it back. They offered to make me a new one, but the wings we ordered were actually fairly meaty, so I decided not to bother, and they took it off the check.

Kira eating a burger at Buffalo Wild WingsEven though there was hardly anybody there the service was still quite slow. The server was nice, though.

For the price, I probably won’t go back. There are better and cheaper wings elsewhere. But I think they have specials on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so maybe I’ll go back then when it’s cheaper, and I’ll just know not to expect too much.

 

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Erik Eats Wild

Erik with his wings at Buffalo Wild Wings.

I don’t know why my mouth is open like that.

(Way back in 2007, we ate at a bunch of places in a row (Bucceto’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, BuffaLouie’s), so there was a bit of a back-log in writing reviews. For some reason, we wrote the reviews for Buffalo Wild Wings, and we were waiting to publish them until after we’d written the reviews for Bucceto’s. We never got around to writing the reviews for Bucceto’s, so these reviews just sat in the draft queue for 7 years. This is really a long, roundabout way of saying that these are old reviews, but you’ve probably never seen them before. -Erik, May 2014)

I’d been to a Buffalo Wild Wings before, and I wasn’t impressed. The food had tasted fine, but I thought it wasn’t worth the money, and the ambiance left much to be desired. I also recall that something about the service ticked me off, but I can’t remember exactly what it was. It was something like no free refills or an extra charge for ranch dressing. They’ve apparently fixed whatever that thing was that annoyed me because on our most recent visit, they charged neither for soda refills nor for dipping sauce (though the menu seemed to indicate that the side of ranch would cost extra if you were taking advantage of their Tuesday or Thursday wing specials).

Buffalo Wild Wings wings

From left to right: buffalo, barbecue, garlic Parmesan

Otherwise, the place is almost exactly as I remember it. The prices aren’t exactly exorbitant (50-67 cents per wing, depending on how many you order) but they just don’t seem to be worth it when you consider how many other good deals on good wings you can find (check out Bobby’s on Friday). (Well, not anymore. -Erik, May 2014) The Parmesan garlic wings are almost worth the price, but once you factor in the atmosphere, there’s just no reason to come back. There was a giant touch-screen video game machine taking up a significant chunk of our table, advertising crappy knock-offs of internet Flash games for arcade prices. We couldn’t figure out if it could be turned off. The dining room is filled with televisions, most of which aren’t pointed anywhere useful. At any given point in time, a quarter of the televisions are advertising something. Even the copy on the menus reads like ad copy. After informing the reader that there are free refills on sodas, the menu boasts “Yes, you read that right,” as though they’d just given some sort of big revelation.

Is Buffalo Wild Wings terrible? No, it’s not even that bad. But it’s not hard to find buffalo wings of comparable quality, for a lower price, and served with far fewer commercial interruptions.

 

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Erik Eats Bobby Too

Erik at Bobby's Too(Update: Bobby’s and Bobby’s Too have since closed down. But the owner (Bobby) bought the old Colorado Steakhouse, which is now Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse. It’s not the same as Bobby’s, but it’s good! -Erik, May 2014)

The name “Bobby’s Too” clearly indicated that another restaurant, probably named “Bobby’s” exists somewhere else in the vicinity. This seemed odd to me as our phone book’s restaurant section only listed the sequel. Further examination revealed an entry in the “taverns” section for Bobby’s Pub and Grill. After eating at the Too and asking our waitress, we finally determined that indeed Bobby’s Pub and Grill comes from the same “Bobby,” and that the restaurant we ate at only “also” belongs to Bobby. She also informed us that both locations serve the same food and have the same special deals, the only difference being that the pub has a larger bar and a smaller dining room. Well, that and the location. While the main location lies in downtown Bloomington on Kirkwood avenue amongst the other pubs and grills, the Too sits hidden in a large complex of offices.

The Too’s interior has a few booths next to the bar and a game room with a large screen television, some pool tables, a pinball machine, and more dining tables. It also has an “exterior” (not outdoors) dining area inside the office complex, overlooked by several office suites. I feel very sorry for anyone in those offices with a Bobby’s-facing window. If it seems like a long way to lunchtime at your job, just imagine if you had to watch people eating and drinking right outside your window all day long. Brilliant move by Bobby, though. You’d have to have gone completely bonkers to not rush in there as soon as you got a fifteen minute break.

I took some pictures of the game room, and the small group of people partying in there gave me some very dirty looks. Normally people seem to just go on with their business and don’t pay much attention to me taking pictures of the room, but this time they seemed so put-off, that I decided to blur out their faces before uploading the pictures.

Erik very carefully dipping a wing in ranch dressing at Bobby's TooThankfully, Bobby’s not just a clever marketer. He also serves tasty food and offers even tastier special deals. My personal favorite: ten-cent chicken wings every Friday. You don’t even have to show up during happy hour to get the deal. Unfortunately, Bobby’s chicken wings come from either very tiny hens or some breed of chicken that gave up on flying so long ago that its wing span has decreased to that of a hummingbird. But even at half the meat that other places serve, the ten-cent price still makes for a better deal than anywhere else in town. They taste good too. I don’t go for spicy food (I like my taste buds and feel no need to abuse them), so I can’t vouch for the hot flavor, but the hot barbecue sauce (which tastes like a mild/medium buffalo sauce to me) did the job. The straight-up barbecue sauce tasted like it didn’t even exist, so next time, I’ll stick to the hot barbecue.

Tortilla chips and salsa at Bobby's TooAlso on Fridays, they serve free tortilla chips and salsa. Now when I say “tortilla chips,” I don’t mean the crunchy triangles you get at Mexican restaurants which have undergone such an incredible transformation that it becomes hard to believe they ever bore any resemblance to tortillas. I mean slices of very thick tortillas that have been deep fried just enough to become flaky and slightly crispy. I didn’t care too much for the salsa that came with the chips, but the chips tasted fantastically unlike any tortilla chips I’ve ever eaten before. I highly recommend them. Did I mention that if you go on Friday, you wouldn’t have to pay for them?

Kira ordered a burger, and I had a few bites of it. Not good enough to make me eat less chips and wings, but not bad either.

I’ve witnessed confusion about which person had the responsibility for serving my table before, but usually when that happens, I end up sitting around for an hour while everyone ignores me. Thankfully, on this occasion, we simply ended up giving our order to several different people and receiving twice as many drinks as we’d ordered. The employees, on the verge of quitting time, fell into the happy, friendly, get-you-whatever-you-want category and not into the grumpy, impatient, senioritis-laden group. I appreciate that.

Erik playing pinball at Bobby's TooThey even left me enough time to check out the pinball machine. I usually have fun playing the “Elvira” pinball game, but this machine badly needed maintenance. Some parting words to bar-, convenience-store-, and pizza-parlor-owners everywhere: Pinball machines will indeed keep your customers around longer, but only if you keep them well-maintained. And you’ll have to have them checked out far more frequently than any other type of video game. Pinball machines went to fifty-cents a game long before the video games did, and not by coincidence.

Erik’s Rating: Yum – 4.5, Ooh – 4, Ah – 3, Wow – 4  (Huh?)

 

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Kira’s Number 15: Bobby’s Too

Obligatory mouth-full shot  of Kira at Bobby's Too(Update: Bobby’s and Bobby’s Too have since closed down. But the owner (Bobby) bought the old Colorado Steakhouse, which is now Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse. It’s not the same as Bobby’s, but it’s good! -Erik, May 2014)

The Place: Bobby’s Too

What happened to Bobby’s One? Apparently there is a Bobby’s Pub downtown somewhere, and Bobby’s Too is its sister restaurant, but for some reason Bobby’s Pub is not in our phone book. So we were off to Bobby’s Too. Apparently both Bobby’s Pub and Bobby’s Too have the same menu and the same specials. The only difference is that Bobby’s Pub has more of a bar.

The Time:
Friday, July 14, 2006, 8:00pm

TV room at Bobby's TooThe Atmosphere:
Bobby’s Too is in the Showers Plaza, and seems like it caters to mostly the lunch break/happy hour crowd. The have some small booths in the front area, but then have a bunch of table in the game room, which includes a big screen TV, a pool table, and Erik‘s favorite Pinball game, Elvira. (Favorite? Nah. -Erik) He was upset because the game hadn’t been very well maintained. Apparently pinball machines need a lot of upkeep. There is also another room, which is like a back patio except that it is in the hallway of the office building. There was what seemed like a private party going on in the game room, so we mostly stayed in the booths up front. The look was very plain, and I was not expecting much from the food.

Wings at Bobby's TooThe Food:
Fortunately for us we came on a Friday, and at Bobby’s Too Fridays mean free chips and salsa and 10¢ wings. The tortilla chips and salsa were actually homemade. The chips were real fried flour tortillas, and so were a little thicker and chewier than usual, which was a nice change. The salsa was nothing great, but edible. The 10¢ wings were quite small, but tasty. I’m not usually big on wings, but I would definitely go back on Fridays for these ones.

I also ordered a cheeseburger. They have a bison burger, but I decided not to be so adventurous that day. All sandwiches come with your choice of potato salad, pasta salad, chips, or soup.Burger and fries at Bobby's Too You can get fries or a salad for $1.25 extra, which I would normally think was a little outrageous, but since we were getting such a great deal on wings, and free chips and salsa, I figured I’d upgrade to the fries. The burger itself was decent. The cheese was shredded, which I though was interesting, but didn’t change the taste too much. It wasn’t quite a $7.00 burger, but still pretty good. And the fries were thick and crispy.

The Service:
It was towards the end of the day, and so even though it seemed like the wait staff was ready to go home, they were still very friendly and helpful. In fact, we had multiple servers helping us (without them knowing it), and we still got great service.

The Price:
The sandwiches on their own are a little pricey for what they are at $6-7, but in combination with some good 10¢ wings, you can’t go wrong.

The Rest:
Bobby’s Too is a relaxed little shop, perfect for a lunch break or an after work wind down. They do have specials on other days, but 10¢ wings all day Friday seems to be the way to go.

How often would I eat there?
Every 2 months

 

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Bobby’s Too

Sign at Bobby's Too(Update: Bobby’s and Bobby’s Too have since closed down. But the owner (Bobby) bought the old Colorado Steakhouse, which is now Bobby’s Colorado Steakhouse. It’s not the same as Bobby’s, but it’s good! -Erik, May 2014)

A bar and grill with a game room

Location:
Suite 117 Showers Plaza
320 W 8th St (map)
Bloomington, IN 47404

Erik’s Rating: Yum – 4.5, Ooh – 4, Ah – 3, Wow – 4  (Huh?)
How often would Kira eat there? Every 2 months (what’s this?)
Reviews: Erik, Kira

 

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