#20: Milo’s Cheesesteaks & Gyros

I have a confession to make, I had my first ever cheesesteak just a month ago.  I have no idea why it took so long.  I wasn’t avoiding them, it just didn’t happen.  My introduction to this awesome sandwich was at Grand Central Grill in Rancho Cordova.  It was incredible.  Now, I move on to my next cheesesteak at Milo’s Cheesesteaks & Gyros.

This little shop is located at Foothills and Pleasant Grove in the same shopping center as Los Cabos Grill.  The dining area is quite small, maybe 8 tables total on the inside and a couple outside.  They were empty when I arrived but 3 families with children had arrived before I left and it started to get a little cramped.

When I walked in I wasn’t sure if I should get a cheesesteak or a gyro.  I considered getting one of each, but it was a good thing I didn’t because I ended up leaving stuffed with the cheesesteak combo and dessert as was.  They have a good selection of cheesesteaks on the menu (I scanned a copy of it here, they don’t seem to have a website).  Instead of the basic “model” I chose the Steak Da Works (grilled onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, hot cherry peppers and cheese) and made it a combo by adding fries and a soda.  Right before I paid I noticed a display of baklava on the counter and ordered one of those as well.

The cashier was very friendly and helped a couple families rearrange some tables so they could sit together.  My food was brought out in just about 5 minutes.  It was a bit lopsided, most of the cheesesteak innards were on one side, but altogether it was a good sized sandwich.  The fries were very hot and were a bit crunchy (which I love). They had a very light seasoning that I could see.  They were great with and without ketchup.

The cheesesteak was excellent.  It was hot and steaming when it arrived.  Every ingredient was flavorful and fresh.  The hot cherry peppers added a heat that was intense, but not in a way that compromised the flavor.  If you like hot/spicy food I highly recommend this cheesesteak.  You get the heat and can still enjoy everything else it has to offer.  The only thing I would say can be improved here is possibly a bit more cheese.

I was feeling close to full but my baklava was still waiting for me.  It was a sticky, flaky, delicious little thing with a strong honey flavor.  These aren’t on the menu which makes me think they just make a small batch and when they’re out, they’re out. So get one!

I was really happy with this visit and I intend on returning to go the gyro route.  I’ve only ever had gyros at Daphne’s, and I’m sure a place like Milo’s could blow them away if given the chance.

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#19: Chubby’s Diner

Oh Chubby’s…  I live right by you and yet I never stop in.  I’m not entirely sure why that is.  Perhaps because I have an expectation of disappointment when it comes to these greasy diner type places.  It probably unfairly comes from many post-midnight visits to Mel’s in my youth that left me wondering why we thought it was a good idea to go there in the first place.  It’s time to give you a chance.

Chubby’s Diner is practically the only place to get a bite to eat in Roseville Square these days since the Mr. Pickles went out of business (I tried to give them my money, but they were always closed by the time I got home from work).  I think the Sunflower Farmers Market has a deli or something inside because they have tables out front.  Chubby’s has that 1955 Hill Valley vibe going on inside, I wonder if our mayor used to mop their floors back in the day.  They have stool seating around the counter and unsurprisingly cramped booths against the windows.

The menu was a lot more expansive than I had anticipated.  I figured it would be some basic breakfast and lunch things but they have quite a selection for all three meals of the day (of course I completely forgot to write down some of these things, I just remember that it spanned about 4 pages and had me trying to decide on something for a while).  One thing I thought was a little funny is, sprinkled throughout the menu, they have photos of the restaurant itself in it’s present form, and that there were duplicates here and there.

Sitting with my parents (who come here almost every weekend for breakfast it seems), I ordered a Dr. Pepper and sipped on that while going over the menu.  I narrowed it down to a burger after deciding it was too late to have breakfast [they serve it all day, but it was something like noon and it just didn’t feel right anymore 😉 ].  During this time the manager (possibly the owner as well?), Jason, came by to chat with my parents and meet me (apparently I was considered somewhat of a myth since no one had ever seen me there).  He’s a super nice and talkative guy.  I was partially distracted by going over the menu, but I remember him rattling off a long list of bread options for sandwiches, they seem to have a lot.

I realized something when I settled on the Be-Bopper Bacon American Cheese Burger w/ fries, I was in a diner.  A malt needs to be ordered.  I know, I already had a soda at this point, but this is not up for debate.  Let me tell you, It was amazing.  Jason boasted about the maltiness of his malts and said it’s how he likes them.

Of course you get the tall glass and the remaining bit in the malt cup.  I finished the glass there and Jason happily poured the rest into a to-go cup for me when I left.  My burger showed up just after the malt.  The bun looked enormous, but it was really soft and delicious.  The thing oozed mayo, not that that’s always a bad thing.  Every time I was sure the last pocket of mayo had escaped out the back of the burger onto my plate (or forward into my beard, many napkins lost their lives during this meal) more just kept coming.  The bacon was well prepared and had a slight crisp.  It kind of carried the burger, the patty itself was ok.  The fries were pretty bland.  Even with ketchup I think I only ate about half of them.  I would definitely opt for the seasoned fries upgrade next time.  The burger + malt combo is a filling one.  I wasn’t hungry for the next 7 hours!  Next time I’m definitely going to try their breakfast out.

So the malt was great, the burger was decent and the fries disappointing.  The big thing about Chubby’s I think is the excellent service.  I’m sure it’s a bit different since I was sitting with my parents who are regulars and are on a first name basis with the manager, but he seemed to be chatting it up with everyone in the restaurant and was generally a cool guy.  He obviously cares about keeping his customers happy because I overheard more than one conversation where he offered the customer basically anything they wanted regardless of what was written on the menu.  They are super flexible.  That’s Chubby’s strength from what I could tell.  Come here a few times and figure out what general things you like, then optimize them.  Jason will certainly help recommend how to customize them with substitutions/additions.

If I had the same food and experienced Mel’s-like service I would probably give this place 2-3 out of 5, but there’s something about a crew/management when they obviously care a great deal about their customers that takes a restaurant to another level.  (Sizzle Mongolian BBQ in Rocklin is one of these places, and their food is amazing on it’s own)  Great and accommodating service bumps it up to 4.  I’m looking forward to breakfast.  Maybe I’ll do a little follow-up when I eventually come back for it.

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#18: Rose Garden Chinese Restaurant

Last Friday night a few friends and I finally made it to this Chinese restaurant where we had been intending to eat for weeks.  My only previous experience here was picking up a togo order a year or so ago for someone else and getting a bonus cream cheese wonton out of the deal.  That wanton has stuck with me since then, and I knew I was probably in for a treat.

Rose Garden Chinese Restaurant is located in a short strip mall in the Bel Air shopping center, sort of behind KFC/A&W.  Being so far back from the street it can be an easy place to miss.  I’m always game for a new Chinese restaurant and I’ve yet to have a dish I didn’t enjoy.  Upon entering it appears like most other independent Chinese restaurants in decor and music.  We were sat at a booth towards the back corner.  It was a tad tight for 4, but not uncomfortably so.  They have a few large circular tables with lazy susans for bigger parties that look spacious even if you had 10 people.  Each place setting has a plate, tea cup and a nicely folded napkin.  Piping-hot tea was served immediately.  I’m not big on most teas except for some rich rooibos varieties, so this tea didn’t really appeal to me, but my friend said she loves it and that Rose Garden has the best.

We were waiting on the last of our 4 person party, so we took our time looking over the menu.  The server was very patient and did not rush us.  She checked on us frequently though which was appreciated because as soon as our friend arrived we were ready, or so we thought.  We were planning on running the order by our friend quickly to make sure he was ok with everything.  Our server checked on us right as I was about to go down the list and once again I told her we were not quite ready yet, but that we would be in less than 30 seconds, she laughed at the timeframe and left.  More laughter as we called her back not more than 15 seconds later.  I quickly rattled off 4 main dishes and one of my friends added the cream cheese wontons to start.

I was busy with conversation so I’m not sure how much time passed, but I don’t feel like it was much before things started arriving.  The first appetizer item – fried wantons with sweet & sour sauce – that was set in front of us is apparently a standard item that is always included with dinner (lunch as well, perhaps?).  They were as good as any other I’ve had before, I don’t think this is a hard appetizer to screw up.  I love them though and was munching on them up until the cream cheese wantons showed up.  Oh, the cream cheese wontons….   I can say without hesitation these are the best I’ve ever had.  They were full of cream cheese, super hot (but not quite to the point where you burn your mouth), rich, crispy and just delicious on every level.  They are also served with sweet & sour sauce, but you really don’t need any.  They’re amazing.

The first main dish to come was the Moo-Shu Pork.  I’ve seen this on menus over and over but I had never tried it, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  It’s a dish of chopped pork, eggs, sliced mushrooms, day lilly buds, lots of cabbage and a few other ingredients.  Along side it came a fairly sweet hoisin sauce and a stack of small flour pancakes (a lot like tortillas) to wrap it all up in.  The whole thing was excellent.  Today I finished the leftovers, which I’ve been eating without the hoisin sauce or pancakes, and it was great with or without.

The next two dishes arrived together, Chicken Chow Fun and Mongolian Beef.  I love chow fun which has rice noodles, which tend to be in my favorite dishes in many asian cuisines.  This was an excellent dish, the noodles were perfectly slippery and tasty, as they should be.  This also reheated well as leftovers.  Why bother saying this for each item, we all know that Chinese food is the best reheated food, so I’ll just leave it at that.  The Mongolian Beef was incredibly tender, easily the most tender dish of it’s kind I’ve every had.  I expected the typical chewy beef, but this almost melted in your mouth.  It was decently hot (as in spicy hot) but I could have gone for more.  I suppose that’s what I eat Thai food for though…I’m sure many people might find this to be just right.

The last dish to arrive was the most anticipated by my friends who have been here before, the General Chicken.  I was not disappointed despite the hype.  Most chinese places have some variety of this dish, lightly battered chicken pieces in a sweet orange flavored glaze.  This was the first time I’ve ever had full on pieces of unprocessed chicken breast though.  They were clearly fresh and hot, and the quality was outstanding.  It’s definitely a must-have dish here.

To-go containers and bags were brought to handle the fair amount of left overs.  Apparently I had used the wrong bag, a clear one meant for the remaining pancakes, to put all the boxes in, and two separate severs came and laughed at this.  They all seem to have a good sense of humor here and provide great service.  We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly and I fully expect to return sooner rather than later.  Rose Garden is clearly an amazing restaurant and is now at the top of my list for Chinese food, in Roseville or elsewhere.  We have many other Chinese spots in town, and they are going to be held up to some high standards after this visit.  Five out of five is an easy rating to give.  A quick mention should be made that their Dr. Pepper was superb.  Anyone that’s been reading this blog has probably figured out by now that I’m a bit of a Dr. Pepper snob.  Rose Garden delivers.

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