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Category Archives: Burgers and Sandwiches

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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Kira’s Number 13: Bloomington Sandwich Co.

Kira, smiling around a mouthful of potato salad at the Bloomington Sandwich Co.The Place: Bloomington Sandwich Company

Neither of us had been to or even heard of this place before. The last few places we had been to had been sandwich shops, so we were happy that the Bloomington Sandwich Co. had a slightly different variety of sandwiches.

The Time:
Wednesday, June 28, 2006, 1:00 PM

The Atmosphere:
There is a huge mural of Bloomington landmarks on the entrance hallway. We had been thinking of having something like this for Eat Bloomington, but with Erik and Kira eating it. For example: Erik and Kira taking a bite out of the Sample Gates, or something else that captures the essence of Bloomington. If you have any ideas, let us know.

Interior Bloomington Sandwich Co.Otherwise, the place was small, clean, and inviting. They had a few tables outside, but we ate inside.

The Food:
The Bloomington Sandwich Company specialized in their homemade Italian and corned beef, so Erik got the Italian and I got the corned. Their sandwiches are fairly big, so they now offer a half sandwich special which is includes your choice of coleslaw or potato salad, AND your choice of like 6 other options, chips and a drink or fries being some of them. You get all this for the price of a regular sandwich. It is still plenty of food, just more variety. We took them up on this special. The sandwiches were just ok. Erik thought his Italian beef was a little dry, but I liked it and my corned beef, as well. The sides were fairly typical, but the best part was that they brought us free samples of their new blackberry Italian ice. It was scrumptious.

Corned beef sandwich at Bloomington Sandwich Co.Oh, and while most of their sandwiches are meaty, they do have salads, vegetarian chili, and a decent looking veggie sandwich for those non-meat eaters out there.

The Service:
There was a man and a woman working there, both were very friendly, patient and helpful. They did forget about my fries, but were very apologetic and speedily remedied the problem.

We haven’t made it a habit of telling the places we go about our Eat Bloomington project, but when we asked them if we could take pictures, they were very interested in our project and we even gave them our website. It’s taken us awhile to get this review up (sorry! We’ve been on vacation), but hopefully they read this.

The Price:
Most full-sized sandwiches were $5-7. ($6-9 these days. -Erik, May 2014) The sandwiches are definitely not stingy in size, so getting either the full sandwich or the half sandwich combo with the sides and/or drink is definitely worth the price.

The Rest:
While writing this review, I have gotten very hungry and want to go back to Bloomington Sandwich Co. to try another one of their sandwiches. Maybe I’ll get the BBQ beef this time.

Edit: Erik is a dork and forgot it was Saturday, so it was already closed when we got there. Some other day…

How Often Would I Go Back?
Every 2 months

 

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Erik Eats Sandwiches, in Bloomington, from a Company

Erik eating a pickle at Bloomington Sandwich Co.Our trip to the Bloomington Sandwich Company has taught us an important lesson: take pictures of the restaurant interior after eating. We came to this conclusion because we realized that if we take the pictures first, we usually have to explain why to the employees, and after we tell them that we review restaurants on a blog, it becomes difficult to determine whether they treat us well because they treat all their customers well or because they want to get a good review. I’ll try to be as honest as possible with this review even though I liked the folks at the BSC. The staff seemed excited about our project and we unfortunately gave them the website’s address while our review backlog already had three restaurants in it and right before we went on a two-week vacation, so almost an entire month has passed since we told them that we would review their little sandwich shop. If anyone from the shop ever gets around to reading this, sorry for the delay.

Kira, looking at a mural at the Bloomington Sandwich Co.The Company sits smack-dab in the middle of downtown Bloomington, squeezed in between an “adventure outfitter” and a cooking supply store with a very strong gay-pride theme. A large mural featuring Bloomington landmarks covers one wall, which I found odd because I hadn’t realized that Bloomington had any landmarks. In comparison to the other sandwich shops we’ve eaten at recently, they have quite reasonable prices and decently-sized sandwiches. (They’ve since moved to a new location, with completely different decor. -Erik, May 2014)

They advertise that they cook their own corned and Italian beef, which I usually consider a good sign. Unfortunately, the homemade beef had a dry, crumbly taste to it that put me off a bit. Italian beef sandwich at Bloomington Sandwich Co.Fortunately, I don’t have anything else bad to say about the place.

The staff treated us well, even giving us little cups of blackberry Italian ice for free. At first I thought they gave us the free treat in order to secure a better review, but I noticed that they had also offered the free samples to everyone else in the place. I think they’d recently added the Italian ice to the menu, and that they wanted to make sure everyone knew how good it tasted. And it did taste good. As did everything else I ate, other than the beef itself. The potato salad, the pickles, the cole slaw*, and even the toasted buns on which the beef sat all tasted quite good. (*Understand that when it comes to cole slaw, I only use the phrase “quite good” in the relative sense, as I don’t think any cole slaw has ever deserved to get called “quite good” in absolute.) The french fries didn’t astound, but they served their purpose.

Blackberry Italian ice from the Bloomington Sandwich Co.I’ve mentioned that the size of the sandwiches did not disappoint, but lest you think I’ve lost my marbles after looking at the pictures, keep in mind that we took advantage of a special deal where for the same price as the full sandwich (somewhere between $4.99 and $5.99 ($5.99 and $8.49 these days. -Erik, May 2014)), you get a half sandwich, a cup of either cole slaw or potato salad, and one of the following:

  • a fountain drink and a bag of chips (my choice)
  • an order of fries (Kira‘s choice)
  • a house side salad
  • a cup of soup
  • a cup of chili
  • a side of chips and salsa

So despite my misgivings about the homemade beef, I do like the place, and we’ll certainly go back. In fact, Kira has just informed me that she wishes to eat there today, just as soon as we finish these reviews.

Addendum:

If you think that I wouldn’t try to go to a restaurant that had closed for the day merely fifteen minutes after typing the restaurant’s hours into the info page, you’d be wrong.

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 3, Ooh – 3, Ah – 3, Wow – 2.5 (Huh?)

Update (May 4th, 2014):

Kira and I have eaten here many times since then, and we really like the place now, both for their friendliness and the good sandwiches.

 

 

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Bloomington Sandwich Company

Exterior Bloomington Sandwich Co(Update: The Bloomington Sandwich Company has moved to a new location, next to the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. -Erik, May 2014)

A sandwich shop with free delivery within a quarter mile radius

Location:

118 E Kirkwood Ave (map)
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 330-9611
(812) 330-9612 (fax)

Hours:
Monday – Friday: 11am – 8pm
Saturday: 11:30am – 3:30pm

Website: http://www.bloomingtonsandwich.com
Menu: http://www.bloomingtonsandwich.com/menu.pdf

(Info updated May 2014. -Erik)

Erik’s Ratings: Yum – 3, Ooh – 3, Ah – 3, Wow – 2.5 (Huh?)
How often would Kira eat there? Every 2 months (what’s this?)
Reviews: Erik, Kira

 

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Kira’s Number 12: Bloomington Bagel Company

Kira, deep in thought at Bloomington Bagel CompanyThe Place: Bloomington Bagel Company

I love bagels, and it seems like BBC has the monopoly on them here. There are 2 BBC locations in town, and I had eaten at the Morton St. location once before, so this time we went to the Dunn St. one.

The Time:
Friday, June 23, 2006, 1:00 PM

The Atmosphere:
Bloomington Bagel has that coffee shop appeal. You know, the one that makes you want to bring some friends or a book and just hang out for a while. The tables are covered in photos taken around the world of people holding bagels, there is art from local artists on the walls, and of course the wonderful smell of the bakery is in the air.Sign for the bathroom at Bloomington Bagel Company. Somebody has drawn colorful clothing on the usual bathroom stick figures. There are some tables out front, too, so that you can eat outside on a nice day. They have a kid’s corner with toys, and this sign for the bathroom amused me. It’s also nice to see the multiple recycle bins near the trashcans.

The Food:
I know that not liking lox makes me quite un-Jewish, but what can I do? I like gefilte fish, so that makes up for it, right? I wanted to get the Bagel Dog, but they were out at that moment, so I just ordered a bagel sandwich with some turkey, garlic/herb schmear (cream cheese, for those not in the know), and lettuce, all on a honey wheat toasted bagel. (And they did have an avocado, but it wasn’t ripe yet. Oh well.) The bagel had a very good crunchy to chewy ratio, and over all everything was tasty. Erik, of course, was very happy to get the lox and bagel, open faced, with garlic/herb schmear, tomato, and capers. Turkey sandwich at Bloomington Bagel Company, with garlic herb schmear and lettuce.He was very happy that they knew to put the capers between the cream cheese and the lox so that they didn’t fall off.

We happened to go on a Friday, so they had some challah bread (traditional egg bread that Jews eat primarily on the Sabbath). I got excited, because it’s had been awhile since I’d had good challah. I was quite disappointed. The challah wasn’t very egg-y, and the texture was off somehow. It also started going bad after 2 or 3 days. Oh well. Guess I’ll continue my search for good challah, although the challah at O’Malia’s isn’t too bad.

Kira isn't crazy about the challa at Bloomington Bagel CompanyAfter we enjoyed our sandwiches, we were already out the door when we realized that we forgot dessert! They have a good selection of brownies, cookies, and other baked goods. The lady behind the counter highly recommended the s’mores bar heated up, and I definitely have to pass along that recommendation. It has all the goodness of s’mores without the burnt marshmallow or falling apart graham crackers. Yum!

Service:
There were a few young ladies, probably college students, working behind the counter, and they were very friendly and helpful.

The Price:
Of course the lox and bagel was the most expensive sandwich at $7.30, while my make-your-own was $5.50. There are definitely cheaper things on the menu, too.

The table at Bloomington Bagel Company, with pictures of people with bagels.The Rest:
They were very friendly and the food was reasonably priced. I recently went back and got some bagels to go, and while the bagels still tasted good, almost all of them were misshapen, making bagel sandwich making a bit hard. But with not much other options, I will go to the BBC when I feel the need for some bagels.

How Often Would I Go Back?
Every 3 weeks. (What’s this?)

 

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Erik Eats Bagels

Erik, enjoying his bagel at Bloomington Bagel CompanyHow to make a proper bagel with cream cheese and lox:

  1. Select a flavor of bagel and slice it in half. A plain bagel will do, but if you like a more complex flavor, you can choose any savory flavor. I like garlic, salt, or “everything” bagels for this type of sandwich. Avoid any sweet or berry-flavored variety.
  2. Toast it. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but I’ve met at least one person that claims to dislike like bagels because of their chewiness even though this person has never eaten a toasted bagel.
  3. Put cream cheese on both halves of the bagel. I won’t stop you from making an ordinary sandwich and simply substituting a bagel for bread, but a true bagel connoiseur makes an open-faced sandwich. If you get your sandwich from a restaurant and ask them to make it open-faced, they will generally honor your request, but you’ll probably get the same amount of schmear and toppings, only spread out onto the two halves. While this always disappoints me, I still maintain that the sandwich tastes better this way.
  4. Close-up of bagel with cream cheese and lox from Bloomington Bagel Company, with capers between the lox and cream cheese.

    Note the placement of the capers.

    Add capers. I cannot stress the importance of doing this step in the proper order. If you put the capers on after the lox or tomatoes, they will just roll off the bagel. Don’t overdo it, especially if you have chosen a salty bagel to begin with.

  5. Add lox. Your mouth may start to water at this point. Do not worry. In fact, if your mouth does not start to water at this point, you should either have your saliva glands checked, or you should eat something more to your taste (and less expensive), like maybe a rice cake.
  6. Add tomato slices.
  7. Eat.

The folks at Bloomington Bagel Company must follow a similar set of rules because they prepared my bagel almost perfectly. I started to worry when the lox went on before the capers, but our bagel-maker carefully lifted up the lox to apply the capers underneath. I tested for imperfections (due to the extra cost, I get very picky with my lox sandwiches), and I did notice a slight caper surplus, easily remedied by a quick caperectomy, but otherwise the sandwich scored perfectly.

Kira ordered a much simpler turkey sandwich, but I can’t fault her for her pedestrian tastes.

S'more bar at Bloomington Bagel CompanyThe BBC, not to be confused with The British Broadcasting Corporation, or our good friend Baby Bok Choi (otherwise known as Neeraj), makes a good bagel and a good bagel sandwich in a friendly manner for a reasonable price. I don’t ask for much more than that, though the s’more bar we ordered for dessert made for a pleasant after-dinner bonus. If you order one (and you should), have them heat it up first.

The decor at the Dunn Street location tends towards the eclectic side, with local art on the walls, refrigerator-magnet poetry on the coffee machines, and photos of people with bagels on the tables. The shelves of children’s toys in the corner make for a nice touch, and it makes me happy to see a restaurant with recycling bins by the trash cans.

Other than that, I have nothing more to say on the subject. Go eat a bagel.

Erik’s Rating: Yum – 3.5, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 3, Wow – 3.5 (Huh?)

 

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Bloomington Bagel Company

Bloomington Bagel Company signA New York bagel and sandwich shop

There are 3 locations:

Dunn Street

113 N Dunn St (map)
Bloomington, IN 47408
(812) 333-4653

Monday – Saturday: 6am – 7pm
Sunday: 7am – 7pm

Morton Street

238 N Morton St (map)
Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 349-4653

Monday – Saturday: 7am – 4pm
Sunday: 8am – 4pm

Shoppes

913 S College Mall Rd (map)
Bloomington, IN 47401
(812) 339-4653

Monday – Saturday 7am – 5pm

Website: http://www.bbcbagel.com
Menu: http://www.bbcbagel.com/menu

(Info updated May, 2014)
Erik’s Rating: Yum – 3.5, Ooh – 3.5, Ah – 3, Wow – 3.5 (Huh?)
How often would Kira eat there? Every 3 weeks (what’s this?)
Reviews: Erik, Kira

 

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