Grand China – Middleton, WI

Having moved to Middleton and wanting some Chinese take-out, I did a quick Google search and found a few places close to me. One was named Grand China (the name of a Chinese take-out I love in Stoughton, WI) so I decided to try them out.

I ordered a couple of my favorites, steamed dumplings, broccoli with garlic sauce and General Tso’s chicken. After they took my phone number I was told it would be ten minutes.

Google showed me that I was about six minutes from the restaurant so I got ready and drove to Grand China. The Restaurant is located next to McDonald’s and Starbuck’s in a small strip mall. There are a couple of tables and chairs to sit and eat your meal, but most of the location is taken up by the kitchen and counter.

The staff, from my initial phone conversation to my visit to the restaurant, were friendly and very nice.

My order was ready when I arrived and after I paid for it and was leaving the lady behind the counter informed me I could grab a can of soda for free. Nice touch.

I was primed for the food by the time I arrived home – the smell of garlic had me salivating.

The steamed dumpling come eight to a serving and have a nice amount of filling while the dough of the dumpling had a pleasant chew to it. Not thin like a wonton but not too think. The dipping sauce had elements of soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic. Very nice indeed.

I usually order steamed garlic, not as a meal, but to add to my plate along side the General Tso’s. I know, General Tso’s comes with broccoli but usually only has four or five pieces so there is never enough for leftovers, let alone the initial meal. This broccoli was perfectly steamed with a beautiful deep green color and cooked thoroughly but still crunchy. The broccoli came with it’s own small box of rice.

The General Tso’s chicken was very tasty. There was plenty of chicken and about six pieces of broccoli (told you). The sauce was sweet and tangy with only a hint of heat. The take-out menu indicates this selection will be “Hot & Spicy” but it is not. Not a deal breaker, I just made a mental note to request more heat the next time I order.

By ordering the steamed broccoli there is enough chicken and broccoli to feed four people. You would want to order extra sauce to coat the extra vegetables.

Grand China, located at 2608 Allen Blvd, Middleton WI 53562, is definitely a welcome addition to my take-out rotation. I would recommend this Chinese-American restaurant to anyone. Enjoy!

UNO Pizzeria & Grill

You Never Get A Second Chance To Make A First Impression. I should have run when the waiter’s initials we’re “B. M.”. Went out to dinner with my youngest daughter and we decided to stop at this restaurant.

This place is NOT an Uno’s. The service is terrible. The person playing host sat us at a table that was covered with water. It looked like someone had removed glasses from the table and left all of the condensation behind along with spilled puddles of water. The host actually stopped, saw the water on the table, thought about (maybe) doing something (like wiping the table off) but instead set our menus down in the water. Now, keep in mind that the restaurant was not busy – there were 4-5 tables and as many servers. Luckily there is a roll of paper towels at each table (maybe so the staff doesn’t have to clean the tables before seating someone else at them) so we picked up the dripping menus and wiped them and the table off.

Strike One.

The server (B.M.) finally came over and took our drink and appetizer order. He seemed about as happy to see us as we had been when we were seated at our wet table. After about 5 minutes he (B.M) wandered back over and wanted to know if “he could get us anything?” (A new server?) We placed our pizza order and waited for the appetizer. And waited. And waited. He finally brought it out and plopped it on the table “Enjoy” and walked away.

Strike Two.

We ate the appetizer but didn’t want to eat too much because our pizza would be coming – (right!?!?!). So we talked and waited and talked some more and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally, thinking our pizza must be coming soon, I asked to have the remainder boxed up. “Do you want me to do that in back or bring you the box?” Holy crap where do you find this class of people? I shook my head and told him to bring me the box. He came back with a box (fastest service of our dinner) and dropped the receipt on the table and started with the “you can pay me when you are ready.” To which I replied “Where’s our pizza?”

Strike Three.

The whole time we were there I never saw (B.M.) move that fast. Now if you have had the misfortune of visiting this restaurant you know that you can see into the kitchen. My daughter and I watched as (B.M.) and another server scrolled through the orders on the monitor. You guessed it. Our pizza order was not there. After many jerky movements (start to walk out of the kitchen, walk back in, stare at the monitor, walk back to the dining room) B.M. started to walk back to our table then thought better of it and fumbled his way to the register and yelled “You had the Numero Uno, right?”

Strike Four?

Wait. You don’t get four strikes.

Damn straight.

It went downhill from there. I can safely say that I will never go back. No apology. No offer to make things right. Google needs to make it so we can give negative stars when we review places like this. The only way this place can stay in business must be due to the close proximity of hotels with an abundance of guests that never return. I did not tip. I am hoping that B.M. realizes that he should not be waiting tables. I am hoping that he realizes that before someone else has to suffer through a meal at Uno’s with him.

Do Not Go There!

I can not recommend it.

BelAir Cantina, Oak Creek

More Miss Than Hit. Decided to go to the BelAir Cantina on Sunday after some shopping. The reviews looked good and it was close by. My daughter and I were seated by a server and told the brunch was available or we could order off the menu. When the server for our table came to get our drink order she took the menus and said we had been given the wrong ones. Ok, no big deal. We got the new menus and discovered that the items we had wanted were not offered during brunch. She dropped off chips and three dipping sauces/salsas – salsa Verde, Roasted salsa & spicy Arbol. Only the salsa Verde had flavor. The roasted salsa was made up of charred bits of tomato skin and tasted more burnt than roasted. The spicy Arbol looked like pale tomato soup and tasted like it. Please do not label something as “spicy” if it has no flavor. Disappointing. We each ordered three tacos (of varying ingredients) with rice, black beans & pinto beans. The food came out very quickly and, besides the skin on top of the beans, looked very appetizing. Sadly, the food was not. I don’t know how all the flavor can be sucked out of food but these folks have discovered the secret. The meats were dry & tasteless. The carnitas was chewy & and the only flavor was from the pico. The carne asada was dry and tasteless. The pollo verde suffered a similar fate as the carnitas – chewy, stringy bits of bland meat that we’re overpowered by the condiments they came with. The slaw that came with the shrimp tasted raw and did not seem to be dressed with any citrus. Finally, the gringo was an unseasoned pile of ground beef. The rice, even though it looked as though it had been cooked with, carrots, corn, peas and seasoning managed to taste exactly like white rice and nothing else. The best part (part that had flavor) of the meal were the beans. The black beans were pureed baby food but had a nice flavor while the pinto beans had flavor and chunks of beans. Painted on some tables and tagged on the menu is the tagline “I’LL go if you go” and I understand now that this is either a dare or the most lackluster endorsement for a restaurant. I would not recommend this place unless you have been placed on a bland diet by your doctor. They contact you and ask for more information but when you do the management does nothing. The managers customer service is terrible. Looks like they care but they don’t.

Bobanna’s Pizza

Just OK pizza.

I gave Bobannas a try based on another reviewer who claimed it is “a close second” to Maria’s in Oregon, WI (now closed). I was hoping to find a local pizza that could replace what had become my favorite over the last few years. I thought that this may have caused me to be harder on them because I might have been expecting too much. I thought about it for a few days and I kept coming back to one thing – the statement on their Facebook page.

The Bobanna’s Facebook page states “Bobanna’s is a family owned & operated business that takes pride in serving the best pizza pies. Here, every dish is created using the finest ingredients”.

That decided it for me so here goes.

Upon entering the building, that houses Bobanna’s, you will be met with the smell of mildew and a dim dining room that shows it’s age. It does not look like there has been any attempt to improve this. Not a good sign. I was almost happy that it was dimly lit. The only thing that kept me from turning around and leaving was the hope that this would be another Maria’s.

The person working on the night I visited was pleasant and friendly. My order was taken quickly and the pizza was done in about 25 minutes.

After that I can only say that I was left disappointed.

This is not “the best pizza pies”. It is a stretch to say that it was even a good pizza pie.

Most people would agree that the best pizza pies are made with fresh dough that is hand stretched and tossed.

The crust I had at Bobanno’s was a doughy, preformed, tasteless disc reminiscent of cardboard, but not as crisp. If you make the claim to serve “the best pizza pies” don’t opt out of making dough. These cracker-like, chalky, perfectly round, premade crusts, that have had all of the flavor sucked out of them, scream this is NOT great pizza.

The sauce was pulpy, dry, and laced with one of those Italian herb blends that have no place on a pizza. It can be overpowering and keeps the other ingredients from shining.

The toppings were plentiful but nothing special.

The cheese is laid on heavily and may be one of the things causing the doughy crust. The cheese is also sprinkled with the Italian blend of herbs.

The Italian sausage and pepperoni are run-of-the-mill, void of any defining flavor. As you eat the pizza they hint at the possibility of something better – maybe fennel or garlic in the sausage that will elevate it – but do not follow through.

The fresh vegetables seemed fresh (a plus) but are cut at a small dice and get lost in the abundance of cheese. The mushrooms looked fresh and were thinly sliced. I like fresh vegetables on my pizza and don’t mind larger chunks, but that is my personal taste.

As a whole though Bobanna’s Pizza is nothing to go out of your way for.
Even if you are in Albany I would not recommend it. The generic pizza crust and common ingredients make it nothing special. There are better frozen pizzas that you can purchase at the grocery store and will cost you less money.

Also, it does NOT reheat well.

If you want pizza that has character and flavor you are better off at Famous Yeti in Stoughton (if you like garlic) or La Rocca’s in Oregon. You will pay more, but you won’t be disappointed.