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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Joy, Gimanelli's and Red Robin: Fast, easy, fun!

It's been a bit of a whirlwind past couple of months. We've had the ball and breakfast, last games of lacrosse and baseball, conferences and parties, graduation, more parties, road trips and even more parties! We've been going to lunch, on occasion, and thought we'd sort of cheat a bit and review these 3 places all together. Time to catch up and get back on track!

Joy China Cuisine (30 W. Angela; site of the old "Panda's"): Decent location (close to downtown) and décor typical as expected in a Chinese-American restaurant (but did applaud the linen table cloths). We only saw the lunch specials, but were impressed by the selection and combinations. All were severed with an egg roll, salad (basically greens with sesame-ginger dressing), hot and sour soup and rice. The portion size was impressive and the food was O.K.—not too greasy, but a bit on the bland side. The service was also what you'd expect: very quick to bring out the food (which was served nice and hot), but then you can never find a server again. Overall good value at $7.50 a plate. Mom said: "If you want to go for Chinese food, I'd say 'here'!" It was a step up from the other's we had tried in the typical Chinese-American category. Not Uncle Yu's , but a reasonable deal for lunch with plenty of left-overs to please Mom! Overall score for Joy: 3.6 points.
Mom excited to use chop-stix at "JOY"

Gimanelli's "sidewalk"dining
 Gimanelli's Delicatessen and Catering (915 Main St.): One of the most popular deli's in all of Pleasanton. We've had Gimanelli's sandwiches many, many times…but interesting to give the place a sort of "review". Location is OK—at that very northern end of downtown in a shopping center that never has enough parking. Not really any ambiance-very basic deli-style décor with a few metal tables and some not-so-comfortable chairs out front. Service: not too friendly or helpful. I was trying to get a good understanding of how the special sandwich of the day, beef brisket, differed from their usual roast-beef sandwich. Never did get an answer, so decided to order to figure out myself! Good selection of salads and excellent sandwich buns (which I was surprised to find, they do not make, but do purchase fresh daily—I had always thought those were "their" fresh rolls!). Vienna Brisket sandwich was basically a French-dip style warm roast beef sandwich. It was good, but not as tender or as juicy as Kinder's Ball-tip! I do appreciate the anatomic difference between brisket and ball tip, but quite honestly would have appreciated a better description. Value for the special was good at $6.99, but the regular sandwich prices are not a great deal. Probably the most difficult part of our lunch experience: it wasn't too crowded, our sandwiches were made and were sitting as we waited to check out. No one else was waiting: and yet still, the cashier acted like we needed to wait longer. She stared at us as if we didn't know what we were doing-just paying for a sandwich shouldn't be such a difficult experience. Overall score for Gimanelli's: 3.1 points. A lot of their success is their reputation: they need to improve the rest of the experience to go with it!

Red Robin (4503 Rosewood Drive, by Walmart): We were in search of a quick burger, so on our way to In-N-Out (we weren't planning to review that day). Passing by Red Robin, Mom said she had never been in there—quick U-turn and there we were. Seated in the bar (open seating, same menu) because there was a 15 minute wait for the dining room (despite a plethora of open tables). Mom thought the place cute and the server was very kind. Great burger selection-thought Mom would be excited, but then she ordered the basic cheeseburger. I had fun trying some with mushrooms and a different style of cheese, at least. Overall we were pretty impressed. Burgers were cooked thoroughly (thank you), and were still juicy and served promptly. Prices were OK and portion sizes large, similar to that expected at Chili's, definitely more than In-N-Out, but a very different type of experience. We are glad we tried it! Overall score: 3.5 points.

Dining experiences upcoming: Soon to report some great lunches downtown for special occasions.

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