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Margarita’s Foiled My Plans

Brian and I were going to go check out “Rumble in Delano” last night. It’s an auto show and music fest in the Delano district. Unfortunately, dinner didn’t quite agree with Brian so we had to head back to the house. Once we were back in our corner of Wichita, I didn’t quite feel like driving back downtown. Plus, I knew that Brian was jonesing for poker because it had been a while since we last played. We ended up at Highlands, our usual Friday night hangout (except it was Saturday), where we proceeded to have a rotten evening of cards. I would say poker, but I know at Brian’s table they were playing bingo.

Brian and Jay and I were all out before break. Of course, I had the distinction of being out before everyone else. My table was so slow that we only played eight hands in 20 minutes. Okay, maybe it was more like ten because the deal passed the guy who dealt the first hand when blinds went up to 200-400… but still. It’s agonizing enough to have to keep folding, but to have to wait 2 minutes between each fold is just really, really crappy.

Becca was the last one left standing, but she eventually got knocked out due to an unsuccessful bluff. I concluded that the bluff might have worked on a rational person, but I think those types of people no longer play at Highlands. Last night, I was reminded of why we quit going.

But I digress… This post was going to be about Margarita’s, yet here I am ranting about poker. Sorry about that.

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Here are some of the pictures from dinner last night:
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After dinner at Margarita’s last night, I’ve decided that the house band Lotus must be really good because I know lots of people who like to go to Margarita’s. It’s not the food and it’s definitely not the service that’s bringing them back, so it must be the band!

First they tried to cram the six of us (David, Donna, April, Cory, Brian and I) in a booth. With two lefties (David and Cory), that just wouldn’t work. Instead of putting a couple of tables together, which would have been the smart thing to do, they decided to cram the six of us into a table meant for four people.

“Just don’t order fajitas,” April joked. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what dad and Cory had in mind. LOL. By then we were done with our chips so there was a bit more room for all of their extra fajita stuff.

Speaking of chips, I learned that April likes to dip her chips in honey. I like my chicken nuggets dunked in honey, but somehow I couldn’t wrap my mind around chips and honey. I tried to chalk it up to a pregnancy craving, but this is apparently normal. April likes honey with her chips, with or without a baby on board.

Speaking of honey, we actually had to remind our server about that several times because she forgot about it. It wasn’t until Cory got fed up and asked the bus boy, who was bussing the table behind him, for it that the honey was finally delivered to our table. We had to switch servers when we switched from the booth to the table. I’m thinking we might have had better luck with the server at the booth.

Our server was just plain inattentive. When I placed my order, I asked for a pork macho burrito with no beans. Where as other servers would have caught that and explained that the macho comes with both beef and pork, she totally let me proceed with ordering without even a word of caution. When my burrito arrived, I was completely disappointed that it had beef in it. I had considered sending it back, but they always say that is not a good idea. I kept my meal and simply dissected all the pork out of it. I figured it wasn’t worth it. I mean, with my luck, I’d send it back and she’d forget to bring it back out. I’d just end up starving to death.

Anyway, nothing irks me more than servers who try to rush you out the door like cattle. I wanted dessert last night and she didn’t even ask us if we wanted any. She just brought our ticket out without even asking. I understand that 90% of the time people will say they are too full for dessert, but you should still offer it. Just like any customer, I like options. I would like the option of having dessert if I want to… When a server makes an assumption and decides that I shouldn’t have any dessert, it makes me want dessert even more. In fact, it made me want to spend another hour tying up the table just because she was so in a hurry to get us out the door. That’s one of my pet peeves. (Just like when servers try to clear your table before you are finished eating. That makes me mad, too. Luckily for her, she didn’t make that mistake. She was on a roll, though.)

Brian and I were tempted to be mean, but we gave her $4.72 on a $24.28 ticket so that’s still about 20%. She only got docked a dollar from our normal tipping scale. She deserved to be docked more, but I kind of felt sorry for her. If she kept up the sub par service all evening, she is liable not to get very good tips from other people.

P.S. The fried ice cream at Felipe’s is much better. Actually, I think the food at Felipe’s is better (except for the salsa, Margarita’s has better salsa)… But Abuelo’s is still our favorite because everything there is better than any other place in town… including and most specially the service.

Where are the Food Critics?

“Where are food critics?” Shane asked last Friday. “Why haven’t they come to check us out? We are more than just a cardroom. We have fantastic food.”

Sadly, he is preaching to the choir. We already know that the food is great at Highlands. That’s why we eat there as opposed to spending our dining dollars elsewhere before playing poker.

For now, I guess he should be satisfied with the limited coverage. Those food critics will soon come around.

Fantastic Dinner at Highlands

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Brian and I had dinner at Highlands last Friday before playing poker. We had my favorite, St. Augustine wings, an order each of regular potato fries and yam fries. The wings were different this time. They were the full-sized wings, the kind Angie likes. Supposedly, these are better but I much preferred the little wings because they are easier to eat. The flavor, as always, is fantastic.

The regular fries were perfect also. They were skinny and crunchy and not greasy. The yam fries were good too, but they were not done as well as the regular fries. I wondered if they were made by two different cooks. I wish that I could get Brian into yam fries like I’ve gotten him into sushi. Maybe in a couple of years he’ll have a change of heart?

I’m really glad that they have their liquor license now because I like to imbibe while dining. I had two fuzzy navels (the second one was much stronger than the first) and then Kurt came by with a shot of some kind of 100 proof rootbeer flavored liquor. It was way too strong for me. Brian managed to pass it off to Shane who handles that stuff better than I do.

I managed to talk Brian into buying me a white Russian to nurse while playing poker. Maybe that was the difference for me that night? I must play better when I’m drinking? LOL. I doubt Brian will ever buy that line of reasoning.

Jen (Shane’s wife) and Kathy (Kurt’s wife) came to Highlands for dinner that night and we also ran into Vic and Jen as well as Scott and Sunny. It was like a pseudo cruise reunion. Sunny took some fab pictures as always. I would link to the post in her blog, but it doesn’t support permalinks for some reason.

Highlands Gastropub and Cardroom

We’ve been back less than a week and we’ve eaten at Highlands twice already. Can you believe it? I think we need to slow down a bit on the eating out. What do you guys think?

Anyway, Brian and I love to eat and we love to play poker. Highlands is the perfect marriage of both. We just couldn’t resist.

We had taken Monday, November 3, off to recover since we knew we would get back into town really late on Sunday evening. We had dinner at Highlands that night. I wanted to play, but Brian wouldn’t let us. He was afraid we would be up late. We were up late anyway. =P

So far we’ve had the bacon-wrapped shrimp, drunken chicken, sliders, St. Augustine wings, and a peanut butter cookie ice cream sandwich. Most of these we had on Monday, but I didn’t get to try the St. Augustine wings until Friday.

I must say that the wings are my favorite menu item so far. They are delicious. I’m craving them now just thinking about them. I could order them for take out, make some steamed white rice, and that would be a great meal for me.

I shared my full order with Brian the other day. Well, he really only had a few pieces. I ate most of it. That’s because I’m a gluttonous pig. Anyway, he said he wanted some ranch or blue cheese dressing on the side. I like them just the way they are.

On Monday, we started with the bacon-wrapped shrimp. These shrimp were gargantuan. They’re more like prawns. Anyway, bacon-wrapped anything is good so I had to try them. I could only have two pieces before I was done. They were a tad on the greasy side. Might be all the butter? I’m not sure. I think if I would have eaten all of them, I would have suffered a coronary on the spot. We invited Brent and Tim over to our table to try some. Brent had one I think, and then Tim ate the rest.

We have this word in Cebuano, sum-od, but I’m not sure how it translates in English. That’s the way I would describe the bacon-wrapped shrimp. For instance, humba (a fantastic Visayan braised pork belly recipe that my grandmother makes) would be sum-od to me. I know this is of no help to you guys. Ugh. I wish I could find the words.

Maybe it’s really fatty? So you can only have so much of it before your body says you are done? Maybe that’s the way to describe it? It definitely is one of the most unhealthy things on the menu.

As for Brian, he had the sliders with regular fries. He seemed to like them. If I were to order them, I’d get the yam fries for sure. I love yam fries. I wonder if they are like the ones served at The Anchor? Those are good.

My main entree on Monday was the drunken chicken. The flavor is good, but it is very strong. I’m not sure what they did with the chicken, but it had a very salty taste to it. The chicken was very dark. Brian thought it was burnt actually. He thought it would be all dried up. Much to his surprise, the chicken was tender and juicy on the inside when he tasted it. The saying “don’t judge a book by its cover” applies to food also.

Anyway, it was drenched in this dark sauce which was very soy sauce-y to me. It was a good-sized portion of chicken so I had to take the rest of it home (had to save room for dessert). Plus, it didn’t really go that well with the smashed potato side. I was thinking I needed some rice to absorb the strong salty flavor. Unlike the wings, which I was perfectly pleased eating by themselves, I really couldn’t eat the drunken chicken by itself. I really, really needed rice to go with it.

The chicken was cooked perfectly, but the flavor was too strong for me. Other people might enjoy it the way it is, but it wasn’t my cup of tea. You have to try it for yourself, though.

For dessert, we had the peanut butter cookie and chocolate ice cream sandwich. It was probably the highlight of our whole meal on Monday. I would go there just for that. It was very yummy.

I’m inclined to order the wings again next time we come out, but I will try to order something new. We’ll probably be there once a week for poker so I’d have tried everything on the menu at least once in no time.

Here are some obligatory food pictures from Highlands…
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P.S. I was disappointed by the food presentation of the bacon-wrapped shrimp. It looked sloppy to me. Then again, we had just returned from a cruise where they try to make even the most mundane dishes pretty. I think my expectations were a little skewed.

Also equally disappointing was that they couldn’t serve any alcoholic beverages when we went on Monday or Friday. Not that I’m an alcoholic but, after having been open for about a week (soft open), I was thinking that all that would be ironed out. We were told that they should have their liquor license by grand opening day, so I was looking forward to imbibing on Friday night. No such luck. Hopefully, the liquor license thing will be sorted out by next Friday.

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