Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Uno Is Open in Oaks

The sign was lit on Monday night announcing the opening of Uno/Chicago Grill in Oaks.

All the lights were installed and working and the exterior of the building looked like a cross between a diner and any national chain restaurant.

I stopped by on Tuesday, their second day open, for lunch.  I was greeted at the door by three employees. Each welcomed me. Each waited for my acknowledgement. A bit much for me. One, even two would have been sufficient. I was led to a table. A menu was placed on my table and I was wished well. I removed my jacket and hat (it was snowing) and sat down to read the menu.

I arrived after 2:20pm and I was afraid I might have missed the lunch specials. I scanned each page like a pubescent boy looking for salacious words in Mandingo. I flipped through the multi-paged menu several times, back and forth, looking for the lunch specials and the time lunch stopped being served.  It seemed I was scanning and searching for a long time. Too long. I was pondering leaving and stopping for an Italian shorty at Wawa in Audubon.

I looked up from the menu and was finally greeted by my server. She introduced herself and asked if I wanted to start with a drink. I, figuratively, threw my cards on the table. I stated I was on lunch and had only thirty minutes remaining to be served and eat. I asked where the lunch specials could be found. She directed me to the specials listed on the reverse of the menu. The only place I neglected to look. She advised me that any lunch special ordered was guaranteed to be served in 10 minutes. Great! That would leave me 20 minutes to eat.

Not letting my server leave, I ordered a $7.99 lunched size Classic Cobb Salad and All-You-Can Eat Soup. I chose Chili. I added an unsweetened iced tea and my server was off to place the order.

Within a ten minute span I received my lunch, as ordered. Served with a side of Cobb Salad Avocado Ranch dressing.

I began with the chili soup. The soup included tortilla chips of both yellow and blue corn, onions, cheese and two types of beans. There was a whiff of vinegar that probably came from the hot sauce they used to add some heat. Very little heat, I must add. I should have brought my own Sriracha sauce. Overall, the chili was just one level above that of a canned chili available in any grocery store. I wasn't satisfied with the soup.

The salad was much better. Fresh ingredients of greens, chicken, avocado, tomato(nothing like home grown tomatoes), gorgonzola cheese and bacon. The creamy avocado ranch dressing was perfect for this salad. One teaspoon more dressing would have been the icing on the cake. Included was a bread stick seasoned with coarse salt. The salad was good. No, better than good. Whoever made the salad did a great job.

I ate everything and I was sated.

As for the atmosphere, the room was hard. The floor, oak and stone walls, furniture, everything was hard. I can only imagine the sound level when the room is full. Visually contrasting was a gas fueled fireplace with a raging fire. There were several large screen TVs in the room I dined. Two in the back and one mid-room, over the fireplace. Three too many TVs for me.

Overall I liked my lunch and the price. The staff was obviously newly trained and it showed. I will definitely return for lunch. I will choose a different soup next time but I will return. I will eat at the bar, next time. I felt uncomfortable by myself at a table for four in the middle of the floor. The bar will be more comfortable. Although, I won't like those big screen TVs directly in front of me. Silent bright visual distractions that hinder conversation. Even with strangers. Especially if your not interested in sports, as am I.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Oaks Uno to Open Before Christmas '13

Curtains up
Light the lights

Last night as I drove past the Black Rock and Egypt roads intersection, I noticed blue neon and a blazing LED sign lighting the night sky. Uno - Chicago Grill is preparing to open for business on Monday, December 16.

Currently, Uno is open between 11am and very late at night for hiring and training. There are a few openings for servers and everyone is encouraged to stop by and apply. 

A host/hostess is on duty handing out sample menus and discount coupons. The coupons are good for $5.00 off your check with their complements. I suggest you stop by to either apply for a job or to get a coupon and check out the soon-to-open restaurant in Oaks.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Friday, October 25, 2013

For A Few Tomatoes More

Mortgage Lifter, 20 Oct 2013

Temperatures are dipping below the point for comfortably wearing short sleeve shirts outdoors. With that ripening has all but come to an end in the garden, but for a few tomatoes more.

Sweet 100, 20 Oct 2013

There are just two tomato plants remaining in the square foot raised beds. A Sweet 100 in near bed, and my prolific Mortgage Lifter in the far bed.

Quite a few pink and plenty of green tomatoes still cling to the vines. There is a chance I will get some ripe tomatoes before temperatures fall below freezing.

Once the tomatoes are all gone, I will don a poncho, cut down the vines, remove the trellises and cover the growing medium with fresh red plastic. To keep out unwanted seeds. If I get ambitious, I just might create a greenhouse over at least one bed with clear plastic and black plastic tubing. When and if I do, I'll plant lettuce seeds. Bunching onions would be nice, too. For a few 2013 harvests more.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Friday, October 18, 2013

Season's Massive Mortgage Lifter

Behold the season's most massive tomato, a Mortgage Lifter. Harvested 17 October. I guess the vine saved its best for last.

While the average weight of Mortgage Lifters were in the 340g/12oz range this baby weighted in at 688 grams. That is 1-1/2 pounds.

One slice from close to the top of the tomato nearly covered a slice of bread. The grilled cheese, bacon, tomato and jalapeƱo sandwich with oregano was quite delicious. I will surely miss freshly picked tomatoes from the garden until the first harvested in July 2014.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Egypt Road Houses Demolished

All the houses in the way of widening Egypt Road, 1311, 1401, 1403, 1405 and 1409, are just piles of bricks and twisted metal. 

Source:Google Maps

1311 Before - Source:Google Maps

1311 After
1401 and 1403 Before - Source:Google Maps
1401 and 1403 After
1405 Before - Source:Google Maps

1309 Before - Source:Google Maps

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Hades Returns to Claim Persephone from my Garden

Persephone must return to her husband, Hades, deity of the underworld. Her poor mother, Demeter, begins her slow decline into a dark depression. And so the garden begins its slide down the same path. But, not before the cornucopia is full.

It was a good summer for tomatoes, in my garden. Specifically the production of Mortgage Lifter and Tami G varieties. The above bowl of fruit was harvested on October 8. What you see amounts to 7.75lbs/3.5kg of ripe tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumbers and Nacho chiles. Of that total Mortgage Lifter contributed 3.36lbs/1527g and Burpee Burpless cucumber 2.9lbs/1327g of weight. After culling out the unripe fruit, the Tami G grape tomato weighed in at 0.5lbs/259g.

Mortgage Lifter, Rutgers, Tami G, Red Bell Pepper and Burplee Burpless
Mortgage Lifter was by far an away the largest producer of any plant. The total weight of Mortgage Lifter tomatoes harvested, from one 11'/3.35m vine starting July 6 and running through Oct 8, was an amazing 35.53lbs/16.114kg. Let me say that again. Thirty-five pounds of delicious heirloom delights. As for the next runner up, the Tami G grape tomatoes total weight was 11.6lbs/5.67kg from one 9'/2.7m vine.

Mortgage Lifter and Tami G
The third must prolific producer was one the the two varieties of cucumber planted, Burpee Burpless and Tender Green. Burpless was the winner for both production and taste. The total weight of Burpless harvest 30 July through 8 October was 9.58lbs/4.68kg from two 6'/1.8m vines.

Overall, it was a good year of gardening in two 16 sq ft/1.48 sq m raised bed square foot garden beds. A grand total of 91.5/43.47kg of produce was harvested. I am a happy gardener in 2013.

During the dark hours that cover my garden until Hades allows Persephone to return to Demeter, I will plan the garden for 2014.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mortgage Lifter Harvest Savored

For the last two months I have been savoring home grown tomatoes from my garden. Not that I am bragging but if you don't grow you own tomatoes, you don't know what you are missing. Rutgers, Cherokee Purple, Beefsteak, Tami G, Sweet 100 and Mortgage Lifter. Of all the varieties the Mortgage Lifter provided the most pounds of big tomatoes.

I was taken by surprise with the massive production of Mortgage Lifter. As a matter of fact, if back in late April, you told me that one tomato plant was going to produce over 22lbs/10kg of tomatoes in one growing season, I wouldn't have believed it. Nonetheless, that is exactly what happened in my raised bed square foot garden.

The tallest plant is Mortgage Lifter Tomato 28 June 2013
Mortgage Lifter Tomato 18 July 2013
Here is how this went down. 

  1. One store bought Mortgage Lifter plant was transplanted into the bed on 20 April.
  2. On July 6, a 13.7oz/388g Mortgage Lifter was the first tomato harvested from the garden.
  3. As of August 31, 22.19 lbs/10.065kg of ripe Mortgage Lifter tomatoes have been plucked from a single vine.

Let me repeat that. I think it deserves repeating.

One Mortgage Lifter tomato vine produced 22.19lbs/10.065kg of ripe tomatoes from July 6 through August 31.

A plant that is still producing wonderfully tasting vine ripened tomatoes.

Mortgage Lifter harvested 6 July 2013 weighed in at 388g/13.58oz
Production was not the most important feature of this variety. For hugh production of a rotten tasting tomato would just be, well, a waste. Of course, the most important feature of any tomato is taste. The Mortgage Lifter has that wonderful old fashion taste you remember as a child. A taste you can only get if you grow your own tomatoes and allow them to ripen on the vine. Or get them from your generous gardening neighbor.
I will probably plant at least one Mortgage Lifter again next year. Maybe two. If I transplant any more, I will surely need to set up a roadside stand at the foot of my driveway to sell the surplus tomatoes. Then I could spread to my neighbors, the pleasure of eating home grown tomatoes. I might even sell enough tomatoes to pay for the seeds, soil mixture, fertilizer and lumber for the raised bed frame. I'll have to consider that in the coming months.

In just three weeks summer will die to autumn. I will leave you with a thought I believe you should take very seriously.

Savor your garden while ye may.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

1509 Egypt Road Demolished in Oaks, PA

Demolition continues for the widening of Egypt Road.

1509 Egypt Road, 21 August 2013

The building at 1509 Egypt Road in Oaks is gone. There are no buildings left standing on the south side of Egypt Road between Mill Road and Station Avenue. On 22 August the trees were removed.

Take notice of the building in the distance under the arm of the excavator. That building is on the southwest corner of Egypt Rd and Station Ave. If you look closely you will notice the cupola is not there. That marks the beginning of its demolition.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chicago Grill Outside and In, Oaks PA

Work began at the Chicago Grill site in late 2012. This is the status as of 20 August 2013.
View of Chicago Grill from Oaks Shopping Center building site

Chicago Grill is far ahead of any building construction at the Oaks Shopping Center site. 

Chicago Grill from Black Rock Road
The walls are up and the roof is on. 

Stone veneer applied to cement block
Some exterior detail work is complete


The floor is poured but not much else is complete inside.

Chicago Grill 20 August 2013
The exterior should certainly look impressive when complete.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Saturday, August 24, 2013

1507 Egypt Road Demolition

What a difference a day makes.

1507 Egypt Road, Oaks, PA, 19 August 2013 
1507 Egypt Road, Oaks, PA, 20 August 2013 
At noon on 20 August 2013, the house that stood at 1507 Egypt Road was a pile of sticks.

1507 Egypt Road is the house on the right in this photograph from Google maps. Captured sometime before the beginning of 2013. It is no more. It has ceased to be. It is history.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Road Work Changes Face of Oaks Deli and Pizzeria

22 August 2013
25 August 2013

Entrance to Oaks Pizzeria, 21 August 2013

A wall went up at the entrance of Oaks Pizzeria. This structure will protect the pizzeria patrons from falling off the pavement as well as flying debris as the excavators remove a large portion of the patio to widen Egypt Road. 

Oaks Pizzeria, 26 August 2013

The road work continues through the night.

©Damyon T. Verbo - all rights reserved