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Friday, February 17, 2012

Vic’s All Star Kitchen: A winner to believe-in!

Lunch date: Monday, January 30, 2012

Ok, we lasted…what 2 weeks of being brave and embracing the new. Well, we had to change our parameters just a bit after our disappointing last two weeks. After all I wanted Mom to really look forward to our lunch dates, not dread them. Hence I suggested we change the rules—always a women’s prerogative, and it is our game, so we can do what we want! Our new deal: we would still go to “new” restaurants…but by definition “new” will be new-to-Mom, even if not necessarily new-to-me. This really is quite fair: there are a lot of places that Mom now wants to try. She’s really getting into this project! Just because I had been somewhere without her, this shouldn’t exclude Mom from giving them a try. Of course, since we are now into this critique thing, I will even view them with a “new” eye!

In my last post, I mentioned that we had driven by Vic’s All Star Kitchen  www.vicsallstar.com/ 201 Main St., so it seemed fitting to give it a try. This classic Pleasanton breakfast spot is open until 2pm daily. Mom hadn’t tried it before and I actually had never been there for lunch, so it counts as new to both of us in this regard. We were yearning for a dependable lunch at a decent price and were in the mood for comfort food.  Plus we had a big bonus that weighed heavily in our decision: Mom printed out a coupon for 50% off the second entrée, so we were looking forward to a great deal as well! A note about commitment here: I was out of town over the weekend, having left the prior Friday morning for a fun weekend away with some friends, so we elected to have lunch on Monday rather than skip a week. How’s that for dedication!

Critique #1 Location: 5 points. Although at the south end of Main, we felt it should get all points possible for this category. Even though it is not in a prime downtown area, and similar to Hunan Chef Wong, not in an area where I would want to stroll around after lunch, the ample parking and fact that it is technically still on Main St. factored into our decision. Maybe in retrospect, we were too generous for this category. I’m trying not to reconsider our scores after we depart the restaurant, so I will be true to our log and report the 5 points.

Critique #2 Ambiance: 5 points. We like the décor of Vic’s. I must admit, this is partly because we are an “Amador” family and my daughter’s picture from Cheer Squad is on the wall (Stephanie). I was disappointed, however, that the 2011 Boys Lacrosse and Football team photos were not displayed! Hope they update so we can find Jordan on the wall at our next visit. We felt that Vic’s hit the target with their sports theme idea—all of the team photos are nicely displayed and Mom really liked that they use the local Coaches’ names on the menu; carrying through their theme in a fun way. You have to admit, it is different!

Critique #3: Menu: 5 points. Maybe we were in a generous-scoring mood. There were several things on the menu that seemed worth trying. Considering the coffee-shop type of place that it is, the overall menu selection is reasonable. Some ladies near us had taco salads that looked pretty good.  Mom broke down and ordered the cheeseburger/FF. I didn’t say a word—I figured it was fitting to order her traditional selection in such a traditional place. I went for the BLT-A and even ordered fries too. I exercised a lot over the weekend snowshoeing, so I felt like I could splurge with the calories!

Critique #4 Service: 3 points. Took quite a while to get our order, and it wasn’t all that busy. Awarded points for the hot French fries, but the server didn’t notice that we were short on table-ware and napkins when the food was delivered, so we had to flag her down. Also, I had used my only napkin to sop up the tea-water that leaked from the annoying little metal hot-water pot that all of those coffee-shops use to serve tea. They always leak; I can never seem to pour myself a cup of tea without making a mess. We never did get a refill of our drinks.

Critique #5 Food: 4.5 points. Mom was enjoying the burger-it was a good sized one. She cut it in half—sort of a tradition for her—and took ½ home for another meal, of course! We liked the seasoned fries. My sandwich was good, nothing above board. Like I said, I think we were being in a generous mood with the critique points that day. Mom did comment that she would order the cheeseburger again, she liked it so much….I bet she would!

Critique #6 Value: 4 points. We did have our coupon so that helped. I think these are available from the website….way to go Mom! Even without the coupon, the food is reasonably priced. Definitely not a great bargain compared to Chef Wong, but we felt that the food quality and ambiance made for a better overall experience and hence better value.

Overall score for Vic’s All Star Kitchen: 4.4 points—A winner indeed! Who knows…maybe we were just in a mood to be positive and this critique is a bit inflated. I suppose that is why the “real” food critics go to a restaurant many times before offering an opinion. The emotions we have, what is going on in our lives, the weather, and whatever else—all of these things probably influence our opinions. We had a good time at Vic’s. We were both in the mood for a quick, reasonable lunch and Vic's will give you just that. No frills at all, but given their "coffee shop" genre, they do it well. 

As an aside...I had mentioned before that when I go out of town, I don’t usually call my mom….and true to the usual, I had not.  Since I had been away over the weekend, it was great to get together on a Monday to catch up and chat before I had to get into the office. This never would have happened before we started this weekly project. I would never have dreamed to go to lunch on a Monday-just entirely too decadent for my work-ethic personality….always too much to do/accomplish/achieve… Perhaps this project is starting to benefit my lifestyle too!

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