October 31, 2009

The Soup Shack Triple Round-up

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

During the seasonally non-frigid, warmer months in Bozeman, The Soup Shack reduces it’s availability to the “standard four.” Blue Moose Clam Chowder, Tomato Cream Soup, Granny’s Chicken Noodle Soup, and Pork Chili Verde Soup. Good soups? Yes. But since variety is the spice of life, the additional random soups that arrive daily once the snow hits the ground are almost always worth checking out. This round-up review is of three such soups.

Bozone Sausage Gouda
Rating: ■■■■■ 4.7 / 5 “Don’t eat this soup standing up, your knees might buckle”
There is no other soup in Bozeman that reaches the level of excellence you’ll find in a cup of Bozone Sausage Gouda soup. It packs more flavor in each spoonful than most meals offer – what a treat. This cream-based soup has an absolutely perfect amount of Gouda cheese-to-cream ratio, and about 8-10 slices of semi-spicy sausage in each bowl.

Artichoke Gorgonzola
Rating: ■■■■□ 3.6 / 5 “Good, but has personality disorder”
The Artichoke Gorgonzola soup is enjoyable, but the combination of ingredients and resulting texture leave the soup sipper confused up to the very last sip.  Small shreds of squishy artichoke provide the right flavor, but are mixed with a small amount of other squishy vegetables in this semi-creamy soup. Added to that are small soggy crumbles of Gorgonzola cheese. They taste just fine, but when mixed with the other ingredients, a soup with multiple personalities is the result.

Poblano Pepper Cream
Rating: ■■■■□ 4.4 / 5 “Creamy, spicy, surprisingly tasty”
How surprising was this soup – spicier than anticipated and backed by a very unique, almost buttery cream base. In the bowl, you’ll find a greenish hue, and what appears to the palate to be a variety of peppery spices. Similar to the other soups at The Shack, it is quite salty but not overly so. The one complaint I share with Eric on this soup is that they do not de-seed the peppers before blending the ingredients, so you are stuck with a few tough pepper seeds in the batch.

Gouda_soupArtichoke_soupPoblano_soup

From left-to-right, Bozone Sausage Gouda, Artichoke Gorgonzola, Poblano Pepper Cream.
Unfortunately, a to-go Styrofoam bowl and plastic spoon does little justice for soup presentation, blind faith may be required.

The Soup Shack is located within The Garage, a local Downtown, East Main eatery.
October 29, 2009

Burgers at the Haufbrau

Rating: ■■■□□ 3.0 / 5 “Bar burger”

Reviewed by Eric Barnes

From the flashy graffiti on the building’s wall to the myriad of signs and posters inside (including the debate-provoking sign reading “Free Beer Tomorrow”), the Haufbrau is a bar with a unique style. It’s the sort of place you would expect to see crowded, blaring with loud music and billowing with smoke (at least in the days before the anti-smoking laws).

When we went there last Tuesday for lunch, the place was almost completely empty. It was strange to see that type of environment so quiet and—dare I say it—peaceful.

In the tranquility, I ordered the bacon cheese burger. After a respectable preparation period, I was served a tray containing the burger, the standard condiments, a small salad with your choice of dressing, and french fries. The fries were perfect: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. These weren’t something that had been sitting under a warming lamp for hours. They were fresh and hot.

The burger, however, falls short. The meat was well-done, but without too much flavor. The bacon was crispy, but I otherwise barely noticed its presence. The thick slice of cheddar was placed on top of the bacon and was barely melted. Nit-picky stuff aside, it was still a decent burger, just under $7.

Besides, you’re at the Haufbrau. It’s more likely you’re there for the beer anyway. The burger is almost an afterthought.

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Rating: ■■■ 3.5 / 5 ”Lanny means barbecue sauce”

Reviewed by Craig Dugas

If you can put aside the general nastiness of a gritty old bar and enjoy the ambiance and put up with the smell, then the $6 burger, fries and salad is not a bad option.  Since the Lanny Burger appeared on the menu above the standard Hamburger, it seemed fair to dish out a few more cents for the upgrade. It turns out that Lanny means they apply a puddle of barbecue sauce to your open-faced burger prior to table delivery.

The burger was very average, not bad, not great, although the fresh toppings (lettuce, onion, tomato, pickles) were above average. What stood out were the fries, which were well above average.  They used fresh cut potatoes that were cooked nearly perfectly and unsalted. The salad, although fresh, was below average since it was simply small chops of dark green lettuce, and nothing more.

All-in-all, it was a decent meal for a decent price — plus the free water was definitely filtered, which is a huge plus as it’s easy to pick out tap water in the city of Bozeman.

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October 11, 2009

Stuffed Crust Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut

Pizzahut

Rating: ■■■ 2.7 / 5 ”Death by Grease”

Reviewed by Eric Barnes

When I first heard that Pizza Hut had introduced a new stuffed crust pizza to their menu, I was excited, being a huge fan of their original stuffed crust. They call it the Stuffed Crust Pan Pizza. Their web site says it has a “ring of melty cheese stuffed deep into [a] golden crispy Pan Pizza crust”. Sounds great, but can it stand up to the original?

Upon first bite, I was greeted with the familiar crispy crunch of the deep-pan crust. Bliss. Unfortunately, I ran into the classic Pan Pizza problem: the more I ate, the more I got the uneasy feeling that the crust was more grease than bread.

That aside, I finally made it to the “stuffed crust”. The name is deceptive, because the cheese is not surrounded by a hollow shell, like the original, but rather just concentrated near the edge. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing though, because the cheese was slightly burnt, which, when eaten together with the deep-dish crust, was actually pretty tasty.

The bad news is: one slice of this pizza with Italian sausage as a topping is 460 calories and 27 grams of fat, according to their web site. Compare that to the original stuffed crust: 390 calories and 18 grams of fat.

Looking at those numbers makes me want to stick to the original. Or start eating salads for the rest of the week. But once in a while, you just gotta eat a delicious slice of grease.