The (Not So) Happy Viking

Here in the small town of Yuba City we live in, there aren’t many places to ‘eat’. Sure, there is a dearth of fast food and plenty of crummy chains, but a place to sit down and enjoy something delicious that wasn’t delivered to the kitchen pre-frozen from a corporate distribution center? Those are few and far between.

One of my MOST favorite places in town is a little sports pub called “The Happy Viking” on Plumas Street. Their wings are great, their burgers are tasty, they have cider on tap (apple AND pear), and they have exquisite Guinness Onion Rings. I like that they have multiple sports on the myriad of screens around the place and they have a great happy hour menu.

Herein lies my quandary…The Happy Viking has also screwed up our order the past several times we’ve gone there.

Joel likes the place too, but is usually unwilling to go because of the constant mistakes and after this last time, I’m finally leaning his direction. I’m so frustrated that this place where I love to eat has such a lackluster kitchen and a wait staff who takes the concept of “waiting” to all time high.

Here’s what happened this afternoon…
It’s been quite awhile since I was able to convince Joel to go to The Happy Viking, but today I was finally able to do it. (He agreed I think mostly because he had a coding project that took a long time today and because of that, we missed the lunch hour at the sushi joint we were planning on going to instead.) We ordered right before 4pm and didn’t get our appetizers or wings until after 4:30 and both came at once. We each noticed that we only had 5 wings apiece, which was odd since we thought the order was for 6, but figured that it had been awhile, so perhaps we were mistaken, especially since we each had 5.

The bill comes and lo and behold, we’re charged for 6 wings apiece. Now, this isn’t a huge deal financially. It’s happy hour and wings are $0.55 each, so we’re only talking about $1.10 plus tax, but it’s the principal of the thing.

We pointed out the mistake to the waitress who was reluctant to do anything about it until I also pointed out the counted bones on our plates. At first she offered to have the kitchen make us two wings…which was kind of a ridiculous offer since we were ready to leave and wings take 20 minutes. Then she went to talk to the manager and a few minutes later, she returned and told us that the manager had taken $1.00 off our bill.

Not $1.10 plus tax. Just $1.00.

You know sometimes when you know you’re right, but there’s just no point in continuing to push the point? That’s what I felt as I just took the bill from her and filled out the tip and total. It was pointless and futile for me to dicker over the proper cost.

So I did the only thing I could…I took it out of her tip and I hope she does what she said she was going to do and yells at the kitchen.

We’ll probably never know since sadly, we won’t be going back.

Cool Hand Luke’s – First Visit

Cool Hand Luke's Restaurant and SaloonIt’s not often that I actually go to a restaurant within the first month of their opening and even more seldom do I bother to review it if I do. This is for several reasons…normally a new restaurant is just getting its culinary legs under it. The wait staff is still working on remembering the menu let alone procedures and are stressed out and harried, the kitchen has yet to perfect its processes and sauces are usually either bland or taste like someone had an accident with the spice jars and the place is usually mobbed by folks that get crankier by the second every minute they have to wait in the sweltering lobby crammed with too many people. Not my idea of a great dining experience.

Tonight was a little different.

On the way home from dropping the van off at the mechanics again (darn air conditioner), we decided to go out to eat. But where? Our little town is not known for being a culinary adventureland full of tasty treats and hidden gems. Instead we have one fancy restaurant that is WAY overpriced for it’s quality, a bunch of chain places like Chili’s, a couple of mom and pop spots, and a dearth of fast food. Boring doesn’t even begin to describe it. So there we are, crammed into our little truck, driving around considering and rejecting every restaurant we passed or could think of when Joel reminded me that the new Cool Hand Luke’s had just opened. I wasn’t really sure we should go (see above) but we decided to chance it.

First impression? Cozy and clean. Cool Hand Luke’s is a chain restaurant and it is themed, but they do it without beating you about the head and shoulders with it. The hostesses were friendly, neatly put together (thank goodness not in some horrible tasseled cowboy getup), and efficent. The lobby was a little crowded but not horribly so, there was still seating left on the super plush couches and it was COOL! Not freezing cold but perfectly chilled.

We were sat fairly quickly and placed our orders. Joel had their Santa Maria Tri-Tip and I ordered a bacon wrapped filet mignon. We also ordered an onion blossom (I’ve been missing these since Chili’s took them off their menu locally). The kids were incredibly excited to be able to choose from more adult fare including cheeseburger sliders, spaghetti and a kid sized steak dinner. They actually had quite a difficult time choosing!

Neither of us particularly enjoyed our soup and salad…they were a little blase, but honestly there’s only so much you can do with iceburg sometimes. It was decent though. The kids loved the sourdough rolls and really enjoyed checking out the decor while we waited for our entrees. Joel’s tri-tip was perfectly tender and flavorful and loaded with sauteed mushrooms and a fantastic side of garlic mashed potatoes. The kids entrees were all gargantuan (I mean, they all have hollow legs sometimes, but this was teenage football player sized portions! Great price on them though!!) and they enjoyed them and I’m sure they’ll enjoy their leftovers tomorrow. It was rather funny to see our oldest daughter try to figure out the bottle of ketchup…I never realized that she’s never used a glass bottle of Heinz until she started shaking it like mad over her plate trying to get the ketchup out. Too funny!

Unfortunately, the only damper to my evening was my entree. The bacon wrapped filet mignon arrived only half wrapped in bacon and with a side of “fancy greenbeans”. The beans rocked! They were still slightly crisp and had this great teriyaki sauce on them that wasn’t overwhelming, just a perfect compliment. The filet was absolutely awful. It was a little over medium, but not by much, so it was cooked passibly, but the meat quality was just downright bad…grainy and gritty. By the third bite of the thing, I was finished. If Joel’s had been the same quality, I must admit I would have just chalked them up as a place to skip, but his dinner was so incredibly succulent and everything else was so good that when our eagerly competent waitress Shellene returned, I actually did tell her that there was something wrong. She immediately got the manager and he was very apologetic, took it off our bill and offered to replace it with a different entree, but since we were basically done, I declined. No sense in making the kids wait.

So I got a bum steer (ha!) but occassionally that happens. Will we go back to Cool Hand Luke’s? Absolutely. But next time, I think I’ll try the prime rib…

Brock’s Ice Cream Palace

Brocks Ice CreamOne of the best kept little secrets we have here in Yuba City is Brock’s Ice Cream Palace. The little white and red building that holds the delicious creaminess that is Brock’s is located on Gray Avenue behind the Wells Fargo.

No one I spoke to seemed to know exactly when they opened, just that they’d always been there. The parking lot is a little wonky (you have to park behind the building) and the interior has faded from it’s heyday (the tables sag a bit with overuse and the red velvet wallpaper is peeling in spots and held down with scotch tape) but hey, let’s face it. You didn’t come here for the wallpaper, you came for the the silky smooth ice cream.

Brock's Ice Cream Yuba City

Brock’s makes their rich ice cream on the premises in a myriad of delicious flavors ranging from the regular favorites of mint chip, chocolate and vanilla to the more exotic like pistachio and toasted almond. You have a variety of cones to choose from ranging from the classic cake to waffle and a “single” is actually two large scoops of ice cream. Brock’s is inexpensive and a fantastic way to beat the heat on any day of the week. Their ice cream is also available in pre-packed containers to take home if you want it for that midnight snack.

Brock’s Ice Cream Palace is located at 990 Gray Avenue in Yuba City, California.