Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Who Puts Red Pepper Flakes In The Refrigerator?

If there is any benefit to being unemployed and looking for work, it's that I don't have a 9-to-5 work schedule to which I have to adhere. Knowing that I was going to be having lunch with my aunt and uncle today, I decided to stop at my grandma's condominium on the way back home since it is on the way. Apparently she needed some errands run and I was in a perfect position to help her out.

After running the expected and a few not-so-expected errands, my grandma offered to treat me to dinner. Knowing that she has diverticulosis and can eat at very few restaurants, I suggested we go to one of the few places in Wadsworth that she can actually order something off the menu without her having to endure gastronomic distress afterward. Buehler's is a local chain supermarket that originally started in Wooster, OH and now has many stores around the area. While I don't know if all of the Buehler's have a restaurant inside them, I know for a fact that the Wadsworth and Medina stores do.

Fortunately, when we arrived at 6:00 PM on a Friday night, it was busy, but not packed. It's funny how some other Wadsworth eateries at this time would've had at least an hour wait. But then again, on the whole, the food at those other places is a bit better quality. But, I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself.

At least in the Wadsworth location, the Main Street Grill is located to the right of the main entrance, next to the deli counter. Here is a shot of the entrance to the restaurant:

For those that opt for it, the all-you-can-eat salad bar is right underneath the sign. I suppose that's also for convenience sake as those who want a salad "to go" don't actually have to go into the restaurant. The salad bar itself is pretty standard in it's offerings and if that is your thing, you probably wouldn't be disappointed. I should note that the salad bar is an addition that can be made to virtually any menu item for an extra $2-$3. Be careful to note that some entrees, like the one I would be ordering tonight, already came with a prepared side side, so spending the extra money for the salad bar might be overkill.

Once we were seated, I took a shot of the counter area. If you are by yourself, it might make more sense to sit at one of the stools. However, today we sat at a small table right inside the entrance:

Like I mentioned earlier, the entree that I settled on today already came with a garden salad, so I opted not to spend the extra $2 for the salad bar. Today's choice of dressing? Bleu cheese, on the side, please:

This was your standard iceberg lettuce garden salad. I was pleasantly surprised to actually find real pieces of bleu cheese in the dressing. However, the problem I had with this salad (besides it having no real character of its own) was that too many of the components had that "shredded" texture to them. But overall, it was a decent enough salad given its origins.

My grandma was very happy with her baked apples. It's one of the few sides she can order that she really enjoys. Looking and smelling pretty much like warm apple pie filling, I have no idea (and I neglected to ask) if they actually make them fresh or simply open a can of apple pie filling and heat it up.

After about ten minutes or so, our main meals arrived. I had ordered the meat lasagna with five kinds of cheese:

What, I hear you say? Where is that lasagna? As I was quick to discover, four of the five cheeses are on top of the lasagna and only one is inside, the ricotta. The mozzarella, Romano, parmesan, and asiago cheeses are all layers on top and then baked to a bubbly brown crust. While I understood the concept of a "baked" lasagna (they had other baked pastas available, too), for me this was just too much cheese. I think I would've preferred the cheese blend to be inside the lasagna rather than on top of it. Overall, the ground beef used in the lasagna lacked any real character (like an Italian sausage would, let's say). The pasta and the ricotta layers were nice and tender though.

As can be seen in the photo above, my meal was accompanied by two slice of grilled garlic bread:

While griddled nicely, there was a slight metallic taste associated with this, probably from the garlic salt that was used to give the bread flavor. While it has been eons since I've come across true garlic bread (using real garlic), this version was no better than many of its counterparts I'd find in other similarly priced restaurants.

Overall, the meal itself was average, pretty much living up to the standard that a restaurant in a supermarket would have. There was one odd moment for me when I received the red pepper flakes I asked my server for when she brought out my lasagna:

When I went to grab it, it was ice cold! Meaning that this had come straight from the refrigerator. Who puts red pepper flakes in the refrigerator? I mean, they are already dried so they won't go bad. They might lose their potency after a while, but they won't go bad. I'm sure that the explanation is one of those silly little stories that involves keeping the pepper flakes next to the containers of pre-grated parmesan cheese.

If you are looking for a better version of lasagna, try Marie's Pizza and Chicken, just up the road. But be prepared to get there early or late because there will be crowds during th prime dining hours. However, if you are eating with someone who has dietary restrictions or you just happen to need a nosh in the middle of grocery shopping, Buehler's version is certainly passable.

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