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From Across the Pond
447 Boulevard 26
North Richland Hills, TX 76180
(817) 428-2332

July 26, 2014

From Across the Pond bills itself as DFW’s first family orientated English pub, locally owned and operated by an English couple.

The menu is an interesting spaghetti bowl of choices. The menu is basically split between English traditional pub food and basic NY Styled Pizzas, calzones and pastas. Apparently they purchased an old Joe’s Pizza & Pasta location and decided to keep the recipes and continue to prepare those menu items for loyal Joe’s customers. They naturally augmented that around their classic English pub dishes. To further cloud this picture many of the items on the menu can also be ordered Gluten Free. So you end up with the front side of the menu with classic English dishes and Joe’s Pizza & Pasta dishes and then you flip it over to the back side to see the gluten free versions of the same dishes. Kind of odd but after spending a little time with the menu you get the hang of it.

We shared the Fish & Chips, Bangers and Mash and Calzone. I actually preferred the calzone myself, mostly due to the very flavorful cheese selection it was stuffed with. I thought the fish & chips were average. Not great, not bad. Just right down the middle. I’d definitely order the calzone again. I’d likely try a different English classic before revisiting the fish & ships.

Service was quick and attentive. No problems on that front.

The restaurant has a limited but well thought out selection of English beers on tap. I did not notice a wine List. They do not think they allow BYOB. A few sites on the internet indicate they will so call ahead to confirm.

Parking is free in the strip lot in front of the restaurant. Attire is casual: t-shirt and shorts get the job done. Major credit cards are accepted.

Conclusion: I’d return if in the area. I wouldn’t drive across town as a destination.

From Across the Pond on Urbanspoon

  • 2010 Carlisle Syrah Papa’s Block – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley (7/26/2014)
    WIML92

    Opened and served immediately. Followed over about 90 minutes.

    Dark garnet color in the glass, fairly clear looking. Nose of raspberries, berries, leather and smoke. Flavors of raspberries, plums, berries and a hint of cherries. Medium acidity, medium tannin, full bodied. Drink now with a little air time or over the next 2-6 years. Best guess. (92 points)

Posted from CellarTracker

Jamaica Gates Caribbean Cuisine
1020 W Arkansas Ln, Arlington, TX 76013
(817) 795-2600
http://www.jamaicagates.com/

July 25, 2014

I have been wanting to try Jamaica Gates since it first popped up on my radar. For some reason I never got around to trying it until recently. That’s a shame. I wish I had tried it earlier.

The menu is dominated by Caribbean Cuisine, heavily slanted towards Jamaican interpretations. The menu is a bit limited but does have a good range. You can nibble on cool appetizers during happy hour on a hot summer day, you can enjoy really good jerk and brown sauce entrees in the Spring and Fall and warm your bones with their spicy soups and oxtails during the winter. So there are plenty of times during the year when you can stop by Jamaica Gates for a quick and satisfying meal.

My entree for the evening was the Rude Boy Jerk Chicken ($12.92, extra for the shrimp version). The chicken was fork tender and juicy with a slow intensifying burn on the palate. Just like you’d expect your Jerk to be prepared. The sides of white rice and hard bread were basically just there to provide a diversion between bites of spicy chicken. Jerk Chicken is recommended. Sides just come along for the ride.

I did get a quick taste of the Brown Stew Chicken ($12.92). It was also fork tender, juicy, flavorful and well prepared. I’d recommend it as well if you’re looking for a chicken dish that is a bit less on the spicy front.

Service is a bit of a conundrum. Absolutely everybody that came to our table which included a minimum of 3-4 different people including our waitress were absolutely friendly, helpful and dang it…somebody I’d like to sit down at the adjoining bar and have a drink with after work! But it was odd in that it seemed that once the entrees were presented it was immediately time to close the check. Lost sales. I was ready for a second drink, dessert, relaxing, etc… That push at the end threw me a little.

Jamaica Gates has a mixed beverage permit. I saw plenty of pretty and colorful island like drinks as well as a limited but serviceable beer list. Don’t even think about ordering wine. You can’t BYOB either.

Parking is free in the adjoining parking lot. No valet. Park and enter yourself.

Attire is casual. You can wear shorts and a t-shirt. No problem Mon! You’re on island!

Payment was a bit of a issue. The restaurant was about midway full on an early Friday evening and unknown to most diners their credit card machine went down. They’re switching to a new system. Problem is they continued to serve those that had already ordered because the food was committed. Those that hadn’t ordered food yet were warned and those people paid cash for their drinks and left. The rest of use had to figure it out on our own. Fortunately I’m an old fashioned diner and always have enough cash to pay for the meal before ordering. The guy at the adjoining table wasn’t so lucky.  I presented my card anyway just to see what happened. After a very lengthy wait they finally came back and said the machine was down and they were going to use their square system to process my credit card. I signed her cell phone, texted myself the receipt and left cash for the tip. Still, not exactly a smooth handling by the restaurant and they seemed almost lost for roughly 30 minutes before coming up with a work around for those already in the restaurant.

Conclusion: Good food, pretty good service, a bit odd at times. I’ll likely try it again myself.

Jamaica Gates Caribbean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Brasil!

Brasil!

July 26, 2014

Well we’re finally back from our 35 day trip to Brazil to attend the World Cup so I thought I’d share some random thoughts on our visit.

The most common question I’ve received since I practically first set foot on Brazilian soil has been “How do you like Brazil?”. More on that one later.

I’ve been told by many people I’ve met over time that Brazilian people are some of the friendliest and nicest people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. For the most part I can attest to this. Just about everybody we met was very friendly and helpful. However, the dark side is most people don’t really realize how innately capitalistic Brazilians are. Sometimes the overly helpfulness is because they have their left hand in your pocket. I’m not saying this to be mean, just candid. This happens everywhere in the world and it certainly happens in Brazil. Just letting you know sometimes that smile is there because you’re being sized up on whether you’ll pay $50 or $100.

My goodness there are a lot of beautiful Brazilian people. You can’t stand on a sidewalk swinging a dead cat over your head and not hit 12 beautiful people with one swing. These are the people you see on your television back home. However, there are tons of people here in Brazil that are not quite as beautiful. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’m the ugly fat Gringo here myself so I have nothing to say. But there are an awful lot of people like me down here. Stated otherwise, normal people.

On the heels of the above paragraph Brazil has some of the most stunning and beautiful landscapes you’ll see before you exit this spinning ball of ice called Earth. We saw mountain after river after ocean after waterfall after you name it. The Brazilians are truly blessed with some natural beauty you don’t see just every day. However, Brazil has a serious poverty issue as well. You can see equally ugly vistas around any corner. People living in a lean to, sleeping on a cot under a business door jam to avoid the rain, walking through two feet of water in their homes while you pass by on a brand new multi-million dollar subway line right above. This country has a lot of poor and a lot of squalor and without getting too political about this I think the government needs to step in and do something because sometimes only something as big as the government can fix something that is that badly broken. Enough said.

We were here for the World Cup and make no mistakes: soccer is religion here. Not only is it religion here it is religion for just about every country that played here during this tournament. These people take this very seriously. They will cry uncontrollably at a loss while the next guy in line will beat your ass because you’re wearing the jersey of the team that just beat his. So it is all fun, well and good but make no mistakes. This is a serious affair when you attend the World Cup and the deeper teams go into the tournament the more serious it gets.

If you really like pepper on your food then you had better bring some with you in your suitcase. Carry it around in your pocket every time you think you might be eating a meal. These people have a serious aversion to pepper. Something to do with trading with another country in their history and only receiving pepper in return. In any case, you’ll have a really hard time finding it on any table in Brazil and if you ask for it you’re going to get a small jar of pepper sauce similar to Louisiana or Tabasco or Sriracha.

Along the lines of the previous paragraph if you have a strong affinity for things like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise then you might think about bringing those with you as well. If you ever find these on a table you’ll likely find a 1 gram packet of something that once upon a time might have resembled the condiment you’re seeking. Odds are pretty high it won’t even be there and if you ask for it you won’t get it. If you do, see above. It’ll be a 1 gram packet of suck.

If you are in a big city like Rio de Janeiro think long and hard about ever taking your cell phone out of your pocket while in public. The second you raise it to your ear I will just about guarantee you that you are now a made target waiting to happen. You might win, you might lose. In either case, I don’t think it is worth it. We saw this in action ourselves and it is quite fast and dare I say impressive to witness. If you really need to even carry your cell phone with you always step inside someplace to make or take a call or exchange text messages.

Along the lines of above plan on getting pickpocketed at some point in your trip. Take the necessary precautions to not get pickpocketed but plan on getting robbed at some point in your trip. If you do get robbed it’ll be done and over with and on you go. If you don’t, you’ll consider all things great and a wonderful vacation had. I don’t say this to be mean or negative but the reality is we stayed at several hotels across several cities and I heard several stories over the course of the trip of somebody getting robbed or pickpocketed. It just happens with a reasonable enough frequency here that you might get nailed so prepare for it and forget about it if it happens. All the normal rules apply. Don’t go anywhere alone, down dark streets, carry objects out in the open, wear any jewelry, dress flashy, etc… Same things you’d practice in any major city in the world. Some of the best advice I heard before this trip was “Don’t take anything with you in the morning that you want to bring back in the evening.”

If you’re flying inside the country TAM has made great strides in improving their fleet and service.  They are actually now part of the OneWorld Alliance they’re doing so well.  On the flip side Gol has fallen quickly and hard after their promising start.  I’d say avoid Gol at this point.  Azul is a bit of an outlier but I enjoyed both flights as they are a 2 by 2 leather seat configuration with plenty of room, live TV, etc…  Patterned after U.S. carrier JetBlue.  I also heard that if you can get it due to limited routes most Brazilians that want a quality experience use Avianca.

Brazilian drivers including your taxi driver love their cell phones while driving.  Make no mistake, everybody has a minimum of one cell phone stuck to their ear while driving, taxi drivers being professionals have two while they are driving.  Don’t fear for your safety.  They are properly distracted.  If they hang up the phone and see what you’re seeing while they’re driving they’d shit their pants in fear and kill you in a fiery crash.  Roll with it.  It is normal in Brazil.

So back to the original question. “How do you like Brazil?” The answer is I like Brazil just fine. It is a beautiful country filled with happy, tortured souls if that makes any sense at all. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Rio, explore the Iguazu Falls and visit Florianópolis which is the one city I wanted to visit that I didn’t get to visit on this trip. There are also a couple of minor areas like Paraty. So yes, I like Brazil and would go back. I’m just not in a hurry to return. After all, I have two more continents to visit.

Hope to see you again soon.

Tchau!

July 16, 2014

Today is day 36 for us here in Brazil. This is our final day in the country. Our bird back to the U.S.A. takes off a little after 09:30PM this evening. God willing we’ll be back on American soil first thing tomorrow morning.

There really isn’t anything to report for today. Today is what I can a dead day in traveling. We’re kind of in limbo. You have to be out by 10AM. You have to leave your bags someplace. You try to figure out something to do until it is time to go to the airport.

I probably won’t see you tomorrow but I will soon. I’ll try to put together a final wrap to the trip over the next day or so.

Hope to see you again soon.

Tchau!

July 15, 2014

Today is our 35th day here in Brazil. It is our last official day of the trip. We’ll be here pretty much a full day tomorrow but our overnight flight home leaves at 9:30PM local time so we’ll be heading to the airport somewhere between 5-6PM local time.

Today was lazy butt day. I’m sure PURPLE doesn’t approve but we both slept late, she worked a lot, I worked some, we had an early lunch since we had no breakfast and we basically hanged really close to the apartment all day. Boo…but I’m exhausted and sick so I need it.

Dinner tonight was at Tremezzo. Another excellent dinner. Highly recommended.

Tomorrow we are homeless. We have to be out of our apartment by 10AM. There is another American couple on the way in as we speak. So our host will place our luggage in his extra room downstairs and we’ll try to figure out how to be homeless for about 7 hours before we head to the airport.

Hope to see you here tomorrow. I doubt it as I’ll be completely out of pocket but it is what it is.

Tchau!

July 14, 2014

Finals Argentina v Germany

Finals Argentina v Germany

Today is day 34 for us here in Brazil.

Germany are World Champions! Deutschland Weltmeister! No matter how you say it like honey dripping off the end of your tongue. Four years of planning this trip with tons of go, no go decisions along the way and we’ve finally culminated with me not only attending my first and perhaps last World Cup Final but I got to see my beloved Germany take the trophy home. I really couldn’t be any happier. The crowd and environment were truly electric from the start of the closing ceremonies through the presentation of trophy. The stadium literally stood packed full of both German and Argentina fans until well after the trophy was presented. What a sight it was to see. I’m so glad I finally got to experience it.

Now onto today…

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

Today we’re up early and attum. We’re off to see Christ the Redeemer this morning. I made reservations Saturday morning and barely got a morning reservation for today! The place is hopping I tell you.

So our landlord called two taxi companies and none could provide taxis. Late already we headed down to the busy corner and tried to hail a taxi for way too long. None were available. Every taxi was occupied. Finally we decided to head across the plaza and see if we could catch one there. No success for way too long again. Finally a taxi let somebody out right in front of us and we snagged it. We were off to our appointment albeit it seriously late.

Then we hit traffic. A wall of it. There are two ways there so we u-turn and go the other way. Another wall of traffic. So we sit. And sit. And sit. Finally we get to our appointment about 45 minutes late. We’re a no show. However, they were kind enough (aka we got there early enough in the day still) that they rescheduled us for an appointment two hours after our original one. So we sit around for roughly half that before we finally figure out that yes indeed, if there is space on the train, they’ll take you regardless of your appointment. So finally around 11AM this morning we began our climb of the mountain to Christ the Redeemer.

Man oh man this sucker is up there! He’s much more imposing that close up as well. Has to be, being the son of god and stuff like that. The views of Rio are absolutely spectacular from this vantage point as well. Unfortunately, you have to experience this with roughly double the capacity of the place. Everybody and their dog is up there. They’re laying on the ground trying to snap photos from that angle. They’re doing selfies from every corner. They’re blocking the stairs down to the viewing area to take pictures of their friends below. They’re hogging every sliver of concrete rail available. This jesus dude is pretty freaking popular apparently! We did manage to muscle a view pictures before calling it Christ Almighty. Caught a quick drink in his cafe & bar overlooking the ocean before heading back down his mountain.

Then the fight for a taxi began again. We tried this side of the street. That side of the street. Up. Down. Thought I had one but self righteous taxi driver said get in the line across the street. Finally and literally 30 seconds later not so self righteous as long as the money spends taxi driver showed up right behind him and after dumping his previous patrons we were off to the races.

The races to sit in traffic. Jesus (sorry, I just saw you and now I’m using your name) this town is nuts today! So we sit in traffic where traffic normally isn’t according to our taxi driver. I believe these guys because they do this for a living and they hate sitting in traffic more than anybody else. Finally, around 2PM local time our taxi driver drops us off at the same plaza where we departed 5 hours earlier. We’re 7 hours into this day and we’ve done 1 thing that I thought we’d have wrapped up well before noon.

Lunch was at Terzzeto Cafe. It was good. I liked it despite throwing their food all over my shirt. This shirt has taken a beating on this trip.

The afternoon was lazy. I’m pooped and hitting my wall at this point. Hung around the room and did basically nothing other than screw off and nap a bit. Sometimes you just need that.

Dinner was a return trip to Felice Caffe. I really dig this place. It wasn’t quite as good as the first time but I still really dig it.

Hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tchau!

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