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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Buffalo Wild Wings Review - South Portland, ME

Dining Review

Buffalo Wild Wings

**


85 Western Ave., South Portland, ME 04106
207-541-9464; www.buffalowildwings.com

We went to Buffalo Wild Wings in South Portland this past Friday. We were warmly greeted at the door as they held it open for us to enter. They quickly sat us at a table in sport central. There are large screen TV's taking up space on every inch of their walls. They were tuned to the highest volume and they were competing with very loud music. This is clearly not a place for conversation. By the end of the meal we were eating in silence because it didn't seem worth yelling and repeating everything we were saying.

I choose this restaurant because I had a coupon for a free order of 6 Buffalo Wings. They had a large selection of sauces to have your wings. They ranged from the normal buffalo wing to Asian spice to salt and vinegar. You could definitely have fun sampling the different sauces. We went with the standard buffalo wing medium ($5.89). I was very disappointed to find out that they charge $.60 for ranch or blue cheese dressing. What type of place that specializes in wings would charge for the dressing? It is a sign that of a place that nickels and dimes you. The wings were edible but that is about the only good thing I can say about them. I am not sure where they managed to find such small wings but they were pathetic in size. Supposedly there was sauce on the wings but I was unable to find any. Overall they were a disappointment.

We ordered two sodas ($2.50 each) and a lemonade (included with the kids meal) for Gabrian. They do have a full service bar and bar seating if you wanted to go see a game. The menu was fairly large with a large selection of sandwiches and burgers. The average price point was $8.99 for most entrees.

Riley order the Build your own burger ($7.99 base) with bacon ($.50) on it. They included fries with it. I had the Nacho Burger ($8.99) which included pepper jack cheese, tortilla chips, jalapenos, southwest ranch dressing, and Pico de Gallo on it. It was a double patty burger but they were on the small side so it looked like a regular size burger. I thought the burger was tasty but definitely not worth a trip back. The fries were fine but again nothing special.

Gabrian ordered the kids hot dog meal with a fruit cup ($4.99) which included his drink. The hot dog was a step above the size of a cocktail wiener. I could not believe how small it was. Riley and I had to share our food with Gabrian because his portion was so small. His fruit cup was mandarin oranges. Just another example of how cheap they are.

We will definitely not have a repeat visit here. After all the wonderful restaurants we have tried recently, it was a disappointment to have such a subpar meal.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value: *Poor **Fair ***Good ****Excellent *****Extraordinary

 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Haggarty's Review - Portland, ME

Haggarty's is a popular Indi Cuisine and Middle Eastern Cuisine take-out restaurant. Gabrian and I went there last night for our dinner. It was a great experience from the moment we walked in. I had a Groupon that I bought for $10 and was able to get $20 worth of food and drinks.

When we walked in the door there were very delicious smells around us. They had a menu on the wall and then there were take-out menus to look at that listed the prices. They have two tables in their small store-front. We were lucky that one of the tables was available.

While I was perusing the menu, one of the workers saw Gabrian playing and came out and talked to him and gave him lots of attention. From that moment on, everyone knew his name and made a point of talking to him. We placed our order and than sat at the table to wait for our food. The whole time we were there, the phone was ringing and people were coming in to pick up their orders. Based on how popular they were I was super excited for the food to come out.

Gabrian and I split a couple of dishes so we could sample what they offered. We stuck to the Middle Eastern Food but looking at the menu, the Indian Choices sounded delicious as well.

The first dish we had was the Mixed Platter for $7.99. Which had slices of chicken, vegetable pakora, mushroom pakora, fries, sauce, onion, salad Iraqi koba. The chicken was dipped in batter and cooked perfectly. The seasoning made every last bite of it delicious. The vegetable and mushroom pakora were batter covered with Curry Seasoning. The Iraqi Koba was my favorite. It was a rice ball that had ground beef and raisins inside and it tasted like there was cinnamon in it. It was awesome and I could have eaten many.

Our second dish was the Iraqi Beef Kabob for $9.99. It was served with grilled tomatoes, onions, and fresh cilantro with bread. The beef was very similar to what I would expect in a Gyro. It was nicely seasoned. For the price, I wish it had come with rice. It would have rounded out the plate.

When they brought out our dishes. They also brought a whole bowl of salad (chopped lettuce and tomatoes and what I think was pickled beet) and they brought hummus. It was probably the best hummus I have ever had in my life. I will definitely be ordering that in the near future.

This restaurant was wonderful and it will definitely be a restaurant we will visit again in the near future. We ordered the Mixed Platter, Iraqi Beef Kabob, 2 Sodas, and 2 Baklavas (we took these home). For all that food it only came to $24.58 (after the Groupon it was only $4.58). If you are in the area, I would recommend putting this on your list of restaurants to try.

They are located at 849 Forest Ave., Portland, ME. They can be contacted at 207-761-8222. They also have a website, www.haggartys.com which has their menu listed. They also offer delivery. So make sure you give them a try next time you are in Portland!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

iPhone Withdrawal

In order for me to make the budget balance I have recently realized that I needed to give up the expensive cell phone bill. I don't know at what point my bill crept up to $190 for 3 phones. I was the only one with a smart phone so who knows what I was spending it on.

I have researched several prepaid options. My Mom has decided to go back to her Tracfone, she barely uses it so it really is a pretty good fit for her. For Riley, he uses it rarely and now that he has his iPod, he really just uses it for talking to his Dad and sending a few text messages. I finally decided on Net 10 with their $25, 750 minute plan. This 750 would be either minutes, text, or internet. We are going to try this plan out for him. I think we might be able to downgrade to the 200 minute plan for $15.

Mine I struggled with the most. I finally went with Boost Mobile after much debate. Their plan is $55/month. In each 6 month increment if you make on time payments, your bill will shrink $5 up to a total of $15. After 18 months my bill will shrink down to $40. This gives me unlimited minutes, text, and web.

I debated forever on what phone to get. I went with a LG Venice.

I am trying so hard to make myself like it. It has a great 4.3" screen. It looks very nice. So far it has responded very fast and the internet has been really great. I am not liking how light the phone is. It just feels cheap. I feel like in a couple of years it is going to look like crap. My biggest issue is I just miss my iPhone. I think it is more of a status thing. I felt like I was doing ok if I had an iPhone like everyone else. I need to get over myself and realize that I am on a budget. The good news is that Boost Mobile does carry the iPhone for a super expensive price. So if I every want to save up for one again it is a possibility.

Oh well, when I am on budget and have money in the bank I will start feeling much better about myself. I need to be a grown up and do the responsible thing.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy Garden Review ~ Scarborough, ME

Last night was my first restaurant for review. However, I have reached my breaking point with this cold and couldn't stand the thought of going out last night. I went through the menus we have received in the mail since arriving and selected Happy Garden that delivers to my house.

We chose the items we wanted and I called in our order. They must have been busy because I did have a little wait on the phone. The woman I spoke with was very nice and helpful while ordering. She advised it would be about 30 minutes until it was delivered. It did take about an hour to be delivered, so that was a little bit of a disappointment. However, the delivery guy was very cheerful and it was a Friday night so it isn't anything that would prevent me from ordering there again.

Riley ordered the Chicken and Broccoli, Fried Rice, Eggroll, and Vegetable Soup. This cost $9.50, which is a little on the high side for me for a combination but with the soup it was not that bad. I was able to get a bite of the Chicken and Broccoli and I thought the sauce was very delicious. It was very garlicky and I thought it was perfect. Riley was not impressed with the amount of rice that came with it. It seemed like just a small scoop. We are used to large portions of rice.

I ordered the Beef Lo Mein, Fried Rice,  Crab Rangoon, and Hot and Sour Soup. It was also $9.50 for the combination. I did not care for the soup. I don't think there was anything wrong with the soup, I just didn't particularly care for Hot and Sour Soup. I wish they offered Wonton Soup as an option. My Lo Mein was very delicious. It had tons of vegetables in it and was seasoned perfectly. I also enjoyed my Crab Rangoon and their Duck Sauce was amazing. It was the perfect complement to the Crab Rangoon.

We are still on the search for our perfect Chinese place in Southern Maine but would definitely give this place another chance. So far it is the best place we have tried.

If you are interested in trying Happy Garden, they are located at 174 U.S. Route 1, Scarborough, ME 04074 (next to Mister Bagel). The deliver to Portland (zip code 04101 & 04102), South Portland, Cape Elizabeth, Scarborough, Old Orchard Beach, & Saco. They do have a website with their menu listed on it. They can be reached at 207-885-0121.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cash Diet

I started a cash diet this last Friday. I am not allowed to use my debit card for purchases (unless it was something online but I have to immediately deposit the money into the checking account). I survived the week and even managed to have $15 left at the end of the week.

Yesterday was probably the hardest for me. I probably should just leave my debit cards at home but I always worry that an emergency could come up (though I don't have very much in my bank account so unless it was a $20 emergency, it's not going to help me that much).

I went to Weight Watchers last night to rejoin. I was so sad to see that number on the scale. Hopefully I can manage my cash diet and my weight diet/change of life at the same time. I was successful once at Weight Watchers, so hopefully I can see it again.

After the meeting, I saw a really great recipe book that had a recipe for Peanut Soup. I had talked myself into it. What saved me from the impulse purchase was that I than talked myself into a second cookbook and was now up to $24. I was able to see the error of my ways.

Next I went to Target and had convinced myself to get food to start myself off for Friday. I had filled the cart up with about $20 worth of food until I realized that I was going grocery shopping on Saturday and this was silly for 1 day of eating. I am sure I can find something in the house that is point friendly.

Finally, all day long I had promised myself that on the way home from Weight Watchers I could go to McDonalds. I was almost there until I had an epiphany and realized I had plenty of junk food at home. Would I rather spend that $5 on junk food or go on a fantastic vacation next year.

Overall, I was very pleased with myself. I can see it is going to be a very long road ahead of me. It is really hard to not want to keep buying stuff for myself. I would love to hear from people how they keep themselves on a cash budget.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Eating my way around Portland

In the mail yesterday I received my copy of Portland Dine Around Club. I am beyond excited about starting to use this. It gives lots of great discounts to the different restaurants in the Portland area. I have also order an Entertainment Book for Southern New Hampshire/Southern Maine area. I bought this one for $20.13 with free shipping. Right now I think they are offering 35% off with free shipping. In the past in other areas the book quickly pays for itself. I am still waiting for it to arrive but looking forward to seeing the different deals.

The boys and I eat out on Friday nights (with my new budget I am trying to limit it to just Friday night). Our budget is $30/week for the 3 of us. So for pizza or take-out Chinese that budget is more than enough. However, for any type of sit down restaurant it leaves us a little lacking. With these books it opens up a lot of places that were out of our price range.

As a recent resident of Southern Maine, I am overwhelmed with the many restaurant choices around here. I read somewhere that Portland, Maine has more restaurants per square foot than any other city. How awesome is that! With these books it will give me some direction, because for now I will limit myself to places that I have a coupon for or a Groupon, Living Social, or Deal Chicken voucher.

My plan is to start reviewing each place we visit. I think it will be a great way for me to remember our dining experiences. I am also hoping to help anyone that is planning to visit the area or is a new resident like myself.

I can't wait for tomorrow to start the reviews!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Portland, Maine

We are slowly starting to adjust to moving to Southern Maine. I still can't get over how short my commute is. I feel like the Portland Area is the perfect place for us. It gives us tons of stuff to do in the area but we live in a very safe suburb.

Gabrian and I have joined the Portland's Children Museum and Theatre. For only $65, we can go as much as we want for an entire year. So lots of fun for us and they give us 10% off his Birthday party in June. In fact last Sunday we booked his Birthday party to make sure we got the time slot we wanted.  He really enjoyed the Play Stage where he could dress up in costumes and the life size fire truck that he could climb and drive. The best was when he could combine his two loves.

 
 
We have discovered the best donuts in the world. We recently discovered Frosty's Donuts and they are amazing!! If you are ever in the Portland area, you must make this a must do. They charge $1.25/donut or you can get a half dozen for $6. Some of the donuts are big enough for a breakfast but they are so good it will be hard to not have a second. The other thing I love about this place is they have a great play kitchen for the kids to play in. Gabrian had a blast playing there.
 
 
This summer, I think we will plan a Staycation to really get to know the area. I feel so lucky to be here and still can't believe that I have my dream job and my dream commute.
 
 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Budget, Budget, Budget

Well the new year is here and back to the resolution drawing board. I am using some tried and failed past resolutions this year to see if I can do better this time. Resolutions this year are:

  • Lose weight. I go back and forth about this and how to handle it. I know the only way I am successful is to follow Weight Watchers. In the past, whenever I try to do it on my own, it never works out. I try to trick myself into believing that I have portion control and that I didn't eat that extra meal before dinner. It is like the pre-dinner dinner. I lost all that weight before Gabrian and now have gained about 150 lbs since his birth. He is going to be 4 in June, so baby weight is just not an excuse. My resolution is to go back Thursday night and start fresh.

  • Get Gabrian potty trained. The last time I tried it, the training was a huge failure. I think part of it was that I was so tired from commuting from RI to Boston every day,  that I was just too exhausted. Now that we have relocated to Portland and I have my new awesome job at Unum, I have the time to work on getting him on a schedule. His new daycare is wonderful and they are working with him at the same time. I think this time it will really work.

  • Get myself on a real budget. This weekend was my first attempt to be on the cash budget. It is really hard to not keep frittering my money away. Every year I say that I want to have something in savings and it never happens. Every year it is the same struggle to buy Christmas presents. I find myself wondering when I will become a responsible adult. How scary is it that I am almost 33 and still find myself to getting to under $10 in my bank account. It is hard for me to have money in the account and not spend it. I think I have pity parties for myself and keep comparing myself to people that are my age that are much more successful than I am. In order to make myself feel better, I like to go shopping or go out to dinner to make myself feel like I am like everyone else. This year I have written myself out a budget and I am determined to stick to it. My flexible money will be my grocery money. I have a budget of a $100 week and anything not spent can be used to save or for spending money for the week. The real trick is to not spend it all so I can actually put it away.

Next March (2014), my Mom and I want to take the boys to Chile for 2 weeks. So not only do I want money in my checking account at the end of the year but I want to save for a major trip. I think it can be really fun with such a major goal in my sights. I will keep you updated on how the budget is going!