#202 & 203: Colorado Grill & Deli Delicious (Guest Starring Final Gravity)

I had intended to write this up yesterday but the pool was calling my name.  Recently we had a couple new openings.  These were interesting to me at first because for some time I had seen that they were going into the same shopping center at Eureka and Sierra College and were both Fresno-based businesses.  It seemed like a hell of a coincidence at the time.  Now that I’ve been there it makes some more sense.  These two places are Colorado Grill and Deli Delicious.

When I pulled up last week to see if they were open yet, and see what they looked like, I was surprised to find both logos over one door.  In a somewhat unique setup, both share the same suite in this oddly chosen shopping center.  I thought this was a weird location for both Swagat as well as La Huaca, though the latter has proven able to survive and seemingly even prosper here.  The Fresno eateries are located just a few doors down from it at the end and right across the walkway from Final Gravity, a craft beer taproom and bottle shop.  A bit more on that later.

Stepping inside the long space, it’s clear that this is not a Carl’s Jr. /  Green Burrito type relationship.  Both have their own distinct sides, counters and registers.  Colorado Grill is closest to the front door and has a red paint scheme.  Deli Delicious is towards the other end and sports green.  I asked who I suspect is the Manager (owner even?) of Colorado Grill, or perhaps both, if this co-location thing is normal down in Fresno and he said that this is the first time they’ve done it.  He also mentioned that Deli Delicious is a franchise while Colorado Grill is family owned.  An interesting benefit of this cooperation is that they have both Coke and Pepsi fountains.

So what do these places serve?  I ate at both over the weekend starting with dinner at Colorado Grill on Saturday evening so I’ll start there.  Colorado Grill is primarily a burger joint, but they have other things like hot dogs, chicken sandwiches and tuna sandwiches.  One item that caught my eye briefly was a pastrami burger.  I considered that for a moment but decided to go with a basic cheeseburger for my first time.  The basic burger options were the Big Burger (1/4lb)[$3.29/6.45-meal] or the Boulder (1/2lb)[$4.99/8.45-meal].  You can add additional beef patties to these for $1.59 or $1.99 respectively.  Standard toppings on these are mayo, mustard, pickles, onions, tomatoes and lettuce (grilled onions, relish on request) and additional options are guacamole, pastrami, grilled jalapeños, cheese, chili, egg, turkey bacon, mushrooms, avocados and bleu cheese.

Of course I went with the Boulder.  I kept all the standard toppings and added turkey bacon and mushrooms.  There was a bit of a hiccup at the register when the cashier, only on her second day as I overheard earlier, looked confused and said she didn’t see turkey bacon, just bacon.  I assume that it probably was indeed turkey bacon and they had just dropped the “turkey” on their screen to save space.  I made it a meal with fries and a drink, paid and headed off to get my soda and grab a seat.  It was fairly quiet this evening, at around 7, with just a few other customers spread out between the two businesses.  Despite this, it took about 13 minutes for my food to come out.  It felt like a long time but as soon as the basket was set in front of me I forgot about that and set about chowing down.  I was quite hungry.

The first thing that I noticed were the steak fries.  I’m not a fan of this type of fry.  I recall seeing it on the menu before hand and not reading further to see if there were other options.  They have home made onion rings as well as curly/skinny fries (I’m not sure if the curly and skinny fries are the same thing or actually curly seasoned fries and also regular more traditional fries at the same price).  I’ve made this mistake enough times that I should have learned it by now, but I mentally shrugged and started on the thick fries.  They were visibly salted but the sheer size of them vs the light coating on the surface made it hard to taste.  I resorted to ketchup to enjoy these.  Additionally they could have been crisper.  Some of the small fires were good but the majority were a bit limp (they were cooked throughout though).

On to the burger.  It was a decent sized thing to hold onto and had two big strips of bacon placed in an X through the center.  Mostly visible was a ton of shredded lettuce.  From some other angles I was able to see bits of mushroom, tomato and pickles, but they were mostly buried under lettuce.  I forgot to mention that this comes with cheese, or at least that’s what it seemed like when I ordered because without any prompting by me she had asked what kind of cheese.  It did seem a little pricier ($12.31 after tax) than what I had mentally added up when looking at the menu, so it must have been extra.  Anyway, they had about a half dozen to choose from and I went with provolone.  This was about half melted as I bit into it and it stretched out a couple inches as I pulled the burger away.

The patty reminded me a bit of Smashburger’s beef.  The texture was similar but though less greasy.  Also similar was the way it started to fall apart on me about halfway though.  I did not find it to have a whole lot of flavor to it, unfortunately.  The mustard and pickles pretty much dominated this thing.  There wasn’t even that much mustard on it.  The bacon was…OK.  taken as a bite on it’s own I was almost certain it was turkey bacon based on it’s minimal flavor and very lean consistency.  As a bite with everything else it was difficult to notice.  I didn’t really detect the mushrooms either, save for when they would occasionally fall out of the burger and I’d pick them up and eat them on their own.  Overall this was fairly bland and disappointing.

The service, on the other hand, was pretty great.  Bringing the food out was nice, though many places will do that when they’re slow enough.  Several different people checked on myself as well as the other patrons at least two or three times, offering a refill on the last one.  Everyone was extremely nice.  As I was leaving I overheard a new customer ordering fries and had the different options listed to her.  This list included beer-battered fries which were definitely not on the menu.

Website: http://www.coloradogrillfresno.com

Next up was Deli Delicious for lunch on Sunday.  I was joined by my grandmother this time and we headed in at about 11:45.  Our plan was to get our order to go and take it over to Final Gravity for a beer.  As we walked past Final Gravity we saw that they wouldn’t be open for another 15 minutes.  No problem, we’d wait a bit if necessary.  We walked in and were greeted by the Colorado Grill staff as we walked past that counter.  The owner remembered me from the day before and greeted me by name.

Over on the green side we stepped up to the register to read the menu, which was a bit on the smaller side from a few steps back.  This business deals primarily in sandwiches and have everything you’d expect for a deli/sub shop.  I had already looked at the menu online and knew I was ordering the #26 (turkey, bacon, avocado & provolone).  I went with the 8″ medium for $8.  You get a choice of sourdough, white, wheat or having it as a lettuce wrap.  All sandwiches come with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, pickles, wax peppers, red onions, black olives, black pepper, oil & vinegar.  I had them leave out the pickles and wax peppers.  I should have got the peppers on the side to try since I’ve actually never even heard of wax peppers.  Wikipedia says they are very popular for canning and pickling so I would guess they have a fairly strong flavor and I probably made the right choice in leaving them off anyway.

My grandma went with a 6″ small Philly Cheesesteak (she loves them) with nothing but steak and cheese (available with grilled onions and peppers)[$6.50] and we decided to get an order of fries to share.  The fries on this menu included the beer-battered kind I heard of on my way out the night before.  It seemed really strange to me that the deli would have these available while the grill did not (at least not obviously available).  We were handed our bag in just under 10 minutes and headed off to Final Gravity, which had opened a few minutes early and already had a couple of customers.

Final Gravity is the only place of it’s kind in Roseville that I’m aware of.  Owl Club down in Old Roseville used to cary a good selection of craft beer but closed recently after a city ordinance, imposing a cover charge on Firday and Saturday nights, came into effect.  Boneshaker Public House in Rocklin is the next closest thing.  Final Gravity boasts 24 or so taps, most of which are usually beers I’m not that familiar with or have flat out never heard of.  You won’t find Bud or Coors here.  On top of this they have 5 big coolers with a ton of bottled beers ready to crack open there or take home to enjoy.  While they don’t serve anything other than some basic snacks like crackers/pretzels themselves, they have menus from La Huaca, Colorado Grill and Deli Delicious and a good relationship with all three so you can have orders delivered directly to you as you enjoy your beer.

If you want to see this place in action and try a very interesting beer style, stop by on Saturday, June 21st when they will be having their 2nd annual Mother Pucker event.  That day, all 24 taps will be loaded with different sour beers.  That’s right, sour.  Intentionally so.  It’s weird but it kinda grows on you after a couple sips.

To go with my sandwich I ordered the Double Chocolate Stout from Rogue Brewing and my grandma, after tasting a couple lighter beers, went with (I think) Alaskan Brewing’s White Ale.  You can see the full list of beers that was available at the time here, but this changes very quickly and most likely is already out of date.

Back to Deli Delicious.  We cracked open the styrofoam containers (an odd way to pack sandwiches to go, I thought).  Soon we realized that we didn’t have our fries.  I walked next door and let them know.  They apologized and got it going immediately as well as upsized it to a large.  I walked back to FG and got started on my sandwich.  Aside from the olives it reminded me a little bit of beach hut in appearance and how the turkey was very much on display in the well-constructed sandwich.  This was great.  All of the ingredients were well balanced, fresh and able to shine through to be enjoyed in each bite.  The mayo and mustard were applied just right.  The sourdough was vey tasty, though maybe could have been a bit on the softer side.

My grandma said that she liked the place down the street more (Cheesesteak Grille) but that this one was still good.  I was a bit underwhealmed by it’s appearance.  About a third into my sandwich the owner came in from next door to deliver the fries.  These were EPIC.  Obviously they were crazy hot since they were right out of the fryer.  Once they cooled down though we both snacked on them until we were stuffed and could eat no more.  They were perfectly crisp and had an additional crunch and nice texture from the beer batter.  I’ve had beer battered fries a few other times randomly when I see them and they are usually pretty awesome no matter where I get them.  This was no exception.

All in all, pretty happy with the deli side of things.  I can see myself returning here as I’m often in the area.  It will for sure be a welcome additional food option at Final Gravity as well.

#137: Vernon Street Grill & Deli

I had a pretty small lunch today which had me thinking about dinner almost as soon as I was home from work.  I had already picked out Vernon Street Grill & Deli.  Obviously located on Vernon Street, this restaurant is on the same stretch as Sammy’s Rockin’ Bar & Grill but on the other side.  This is the area where the food truck roundup happens on the 2nd Thursday of each month.  I arrived just before 4PM and found a parking spot close by.  Once inside you can take a right into the smallish dining room or continue ahead down a narrow path towards a cooler with beer, and just around the corner to the counter.  Here they had the menu up on the wall as well as laminated on the counter.

When I got here there were just a half dozen or so customers eating.  They had all left by the time I got my food.  One person came in while I was eating, ordered something to go and left once it was ready.  There were a couple employees working, though I mostly only saw the one that rung me up.  She was quiet but friendly.  Having looked at the menu online a while ago I knew that they offer a little bit of everything: burgers, hot & cold sandwiches/subs, cheesesteaks, hot wings and salads.  They also serve breakfast in the morning.  I asked if there was anything they were known for in particular.  With a smile, “Everything” was what she said.  A moment later as I was skimming over the menu again she pointed out the cheesesteaks and said they were good.  They have 6″, 8″ and 12″ sizes.  I decided to go with the 6″ and pick out a side to go with it.  I found a variety of fries (regular, curly, garlic, onion) to choose from as well as cheese sticks, potato salad, zucchini with ranch and chicken strips with fries (this sounds more like a meal and that it’s in the wrong section to me).  I asked if the zucchini is deep fried, which she confirmed, and I went with that.  After a fountain drink, my total came to about $10.

I was handed a little number and I headed to the front where I found a slightly raised section of small tables that lined the windows.  While I waited for my food the remaining customers left and the woman that rung me up was immediately in the dining room cleaning up tables.  She also appeared to be working on my order, or at least helping in the kitchen here and there.  My food was brought out just five minutes after I had sat down.  The cheesesteak was just a little guy.  It was just a $5 6″, but still.  It’s hard not to compare it to even the basic ‘steaks at Cheesesteak Grille or Cheese Steak Shop, which are both considerably bigger and stuffed full of meat and cheese.  Despite this, it was actually not bad at all.  The steak was tender and flavorful and it had a pretty good ratio of creamy, melty cheese to meat.  Thick grilled onions finished it off.  The roll was just a typical sub roll, not the more traditional Amoroso.  For the price, it’s really not a bad cheessteak at all.

I was kind of expecting the zucchini to be sliced like pickle chips, but they were strips instead.  The batter was thin and light and seemed to be the same type you’d see used on mozzarella sticks.  These were initially very hot and I left a lot of them for last so they could cool off a bit.  With or without ranch I found these to be really good.  They were light enough (even though they were deep fried) to be a really nice side that didn’t leave me stuffed or feeling like I needed a nap afterwards.  You could easily taste the flavor of the batter and the zucchini equally, which is nice when so many fried things just end up tasting like whatever batter/oil they’re cooked in.

Nothing here was all that mind blowing, though I don’t really have any complaints either.  Will I be back?  Maybe to try the breakfast.  I would say that the food and experience as a whole wasn’t super memorable overall.  If I happened to work nearby I could see myself returning to try their other items over time.  Actually there’s a place near my work that’s very much like Vernon Street Grill, similar menu and all, and I feel the same about it.  I go there less than once a year on average, usually when someone else wants to go.  It’s not bad, just nothing really interesting.

Website: http://www.vernongrill.com/

#73: Charley’s Grilled Subs

Just a couple things first off:

  1. Charley’s Grilled Subs is a massively bigger chain than I realized
  2. I brilliantly left home without a memory card in my DSLR, so this is an iPhone edition! (I even checked a few places in the mall for a small card on the spot but came up empty)
Since I ended up using my phone to take the photos for this post I was thinking I would eventually go back and do it properly, but now that I see how enormous a chain this is I’m just going to call this one final.  Anyway, obviously I went to Charley’s Grilled Subs tonight.  It’s located in the food court between Panda Express and Kai Hawaiian BBQ.  This is yet another cheesesteak focused business (no more cheesesteaks for a while, I promise!).  Similarly to the new Cheesesteak Shop they are using LCD displays for their menus, and with them they’ve made the same mistake and made the text size pretty small and difficult to read.  Standing about 6 feet back from the counter in line I was able to make out the titles of the items.  The descriptions were way too small though.  Once I got up to the counter I was able to focus in on them better and see what they were.  Here they have no paper take out menu (at least none that are sitting out front) so if you have trouble reading the menu you’re gonna have a bad time.
I decided on a small Bacon 3 Cheese Steak (steak, bacon, swiss, cheddar, provolone) and an order of the Buffalo & Bleu Gourmet Fries (perhaps a new or soon to be discontinued item, this does not appear on their website, it was fries with hot Buffalo sauce and blue cheese crumbles).  My cheesesteak was ready in about 3 minutes with the fries following by about a minute.  Both were hot and steaming as I sat down in the food court.  The fries were very crispy and the buffalo sauce looked and felt like molten lava, so I let that cool off a bit.
On my cheesesteak I went with most of the available toppings: onions, mushrooms, lettuce & tomato (though I changed my mind and removed it).  The roll was soft and tasty, though I doubt it was an Amoroso roll like the good places use, it didn’t seem to have the same texture.  The steak was fairly similar to the stuff I had at Cheesesteak Grille and Cheesesteak Shop, but maybe a bit less flavorful and moist.  With the swiss, cheddar and provolone however, it was a fine steak.  I don’t recall there being much in the way of onions, but the mushrooms were plentiful and excellent.  Thin strips of bacon were hidden deep in the roll, and I suspect they were the microwave variety due to their texture, but they had decent flavor.  I had hoped for more cheese since it was the “3 Cheese steak.”
I picked at the fries a bit in-between bites of the cheesesteak, but by the time I went full on into them after the steak was gone they were fairly soggy fries.  The Buffalo sauce was very bright orange, and a lot hotter than I expected (not temperature hot).  Consecutive bites required a follow up with a swig of Dr Pepper.  The blue cheese wasn’t as strong as I like but it was just strong enough to mello out the sauce when I got a big chunck with a few fries.  There isn’t quite enough to get one with every bite, so I found myself rationing them so that I had a couple good sized pieces to finish off the last of the fries with.  THese were pretty good, but nothing compared to the Urban Fries at Jack’s Urban Eats, which is what came to mind when I saw these on the menu.
All in all this wasn’t all that bad, considering it’s in a food court and I paid under $10 for the food and soda.  It’s not the best cheesesteak in Roseville by a long shot, but it’s worth checking out if you find yourself looking for a cheap bite while at the Galleria.