Dave

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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Lunch Report: Village Inn...

My wife and I got a wonderful invite to go see a real-live BBQ cook-off up near Bandera yesterday, from a reader named Rick who lives in Timberwilde, just down the street from us. I was hoping that this morning, I might be posting some pictures of some award winning, lip smacking chicken, ribs, and brisket, but our schedule took a wild turn and we missed it. Next time, for sure!

But we still had to eat, and on our way to another errand, we stopped at the Village Inn over off of Loop 410 and 151. I should tell you in advance that my wife has been wanting to try this place since it opened. Growing up, we had a Village Inn in my home town in Florida, so I think of it as just another version of Denny's or Jim's or something like that, so it wasn't a big priority on my list of places to eat. But, since we were there, and we have already established that I do not like the Buffalo Wild Wings or the TGI Friday's in the same shopping center, it was into the Village Inn.

Maybe we hit it at an awkward time, but the place was fairly empty (which I like). We were immediately seated and our waiter came right away to take our drink order and give us menus. Important note: I always take my iced tea unsweetened. My wife likes hers regular. If you don't write this information down when you take our drink order, you still have a 50-50 chance that you'll get it right when you set the glasses down. Hopefully our waiter didn't waste any money on Lotto tickets this weekend.

I have to admit, I was surprised at the selection on the menu. I mean, lots of burgers, sandwiches, dinner plates, and of course, breakfast. Something that tells me that a restaurant means business in the breakfast department is the selection of sweeteners. Regular sugar is a given. Next up, most places have some Sweet-n-low (pink stuff) as the only substitute. I myself am particular to Equal (blue stuff). The Village Inn went all out and provided, sugar, pink, blue and yellow! (Splenda). Oh, and Smucker's jam on the table! Not bad indeed. Perhaps we'll try this place for breakfast sometime.

On to the vittles. I ordered up a Buffalo Chicken Melt. Instead of fries, I opted for the house salad. Not bad at all. It was fresh, came with a basket full of assorted crackers, had the right amount of croƻtons and the ranch dressing might be a house recipe. And it was the perfect size.

I think you should have a good idea of what you want to eat when you go into a place with such a huge menu selection. I'm a firm believer in fewer options at restaurants. For example, if you want Chinese, you go to a Chinese restaurant. Don't give me the option for enchilada's in Verde sauce once I get there. Likewise, burgers should not be on the menu at a pizza place. This wide variety makes the ordering process entirely too difficult.

So, as we scanned the menu for something to eat, I looked first at the Reuben sandwich, but thought to myself that I had just had one somewhere else recently. Then, I saw a double cheeseburger that looked good, and again, I thought, what the hell, this is the Village Inn, not Whataburger. So finally, when the moment of truth came and the waiter was standing there, uh, waiting, my wife was still scanning the menu and I blurted out, "Buffalo Chicken Melt, no fries, salad; ranch". And a bead of sweat dripped down onto the table below. And when I got it, I thought, man, I wish I had ordered the Reuben.

But, let me tell you. This is not a bad sandwich. And the buffalo sauce had quite the kick to it. I actually took the ranch dressing and slathered it upon the sourdough bun for added flavor. If you like hot wings but don't want to get your fingers all saucy, this is a good option. Thankfully, the napkins were able to sop up the red mess all over my face when I finished.

My wife opted for the Chicken Ranch sandwich which comes complete with strips of bacon. She let me have a little taste of it and I have to tell you, it was light and fluffy - not too hard like some chicken patties I have had in the past.

We did have a minor service issue. Aside from the tea incident, my wife ordered up some honey-mustard to dip her fries in. Our waiter cheerfully left and never returned. Well, he did return when I flagged him down and gave him the international sign for honey-mustard. I must tell you, when we got the honey-mustard, we were very pleased with it. Great taste, and again, it may be a house recipe like the ranch. Or perhaps, they just buy good quality products.

We are not ones for dessert unless it is one of those deals where somebody is celebrating a birthday and they bring you out this huge piece of cake with ice cream on top and enough spoons for everyone at the table to swap germs, so when the waiter comes and asks us if we are ready for dessert, we usually just say, "Give me the damn bill and make it quick, Bub". Not really. But it is nice to be asked.

The Village Inn apparently wants to give Marie Calandars a run for her money in the pie department. They have a huge display case of incredible looking pies of all flavors and texture, and they are having some sort of pie sale going on. Just a note - the good looking pies you see here are not the ones on sale for $5.95.

Anyway, during the course of eating our sandwiches, we looked at the little pie menu about 14 times and finally decided that my wife wanted to try a sliver of some sort of cheese cake topped with lemon. The only problem was, since the waiter had already dropped off our bill with the food, he wasn't coming back. Thankfully, my wife was able to capture the attention of another waitperson who politely yelled for Caesar to get back out to our table. And, he was apologetic enough that he only charged us for a half-slice, but gave us each our piece.

Good stuff!

So, here is the final deal. I think this place is worth checking out for breakfast, for sure. I think the afternoon dinner could be a good option over Luby's or some place like that. The price was not over the top but you can certainly eat cheaper. I am very happy with the quality of the vittles, though I'd have to try something else in order to be sure.

I guess that isn't much help at all, is it? How bout this? If you've tried Village Inn, tell me about it. Leave a comment here using the little comment button below.

3 comments:

Sid said...

I have eaten at the V.I. several times and never been disappointed. The one nearest me is at the I-10/ Wurzbach intersection (right next to the Drury Inn). They have a dinner special before 6:00p.m. at this one with several really good choices. I tried the top sirloin last week and was very pleased. It included a cold, crisp garden salad, buttery steamed carrots, a massive baked potato, a properly sized portion of succulent sirloin... and dessert! (Unlike you, Dave, I never pass up an opportunity for the sweets, especially when they are included.) What a deal! (A "sweet" deal, too, might I add because the dessert is a "waist-watcher" half-portion slice of pie. Half the portion;half the guilt, right? For me, the all-or-nothing type that I am, I asked if I could get carrot cake as a substitute for the sliver of pie. The waitress (excuse me, "server") said, "I'm sorry, sir, but I'll have to give you the whole slice...if that's okay. We don't half the cake." All right, all right I figured; what the heck, another serving of carrots, correct? Let me tell you, the carrot cake was wonderful! It was a gigantic piece served cold, with to-die-for cream cheese icing, plump,juicy raisins,and nutty pecans encrusted on the outer edge... and carrots, of course (Translation = dairy, fruit, protein, and veggie all baked and and iced into one!)

There's always room at the Village Inn... for this kind of healthy dessert if you ask me! :-)

Anonymous said...

I have grown up with Village Inn. It is another great option for breakfast instead of IHOP or Denny's. Price is reasonable and the food is about what you would expect for this kind of restaraunt. This was a great place to hang out at all hours of the night while we were young. I was thrilled to see it come to San Antonio. Always enjoy your thoughts!

Dave said...

Sid: I love carrot-cake. Perhaps I'll try it when we do the VI for breakfast one morning.

Anonymous poster: I would imagine the "all hours of the night" crowd would be different than the crowd we saw early evening. Mostly the "early bird special" group! Thanks for your kind comments.

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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