Tampa Bay Food Monster

…eating food since 1985.

Archive for the ‘Chain Restaurants’ Category

Smokey Bones’ Smoked Prime Rib

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on December 6, 2012

steak is the best. it’s pretty much the best dinner ever. you get a steak dinner, and you feel like you’re tearing into an animal. there’s something primal about it. empowering. a steak dinner makes you feel like a king.

…but a prime rib dinner makes you feel like a god.

them smokey bones

i was given a so-very-kind invitation to come check out the new smoked prime rib dinner (¡¡¡LIMITED TIME ONLY!!!) at smokey bones. i have been to smokey bones before, long ago, and i recall it being a positive experience. “smokey” means smoked, and “bones” means meat, so one may infer that this is perhaps a barbecue type place. and, back when i visited the bones in my past, that would be a mostly accurate description. now, though…

inside the bone

oh. well according to this photograph, smokey bones is a rather low-key meeting place for the elderly, made entirely out of wood. but that’s not true! perhaps my photo skills are lacking. really, smokey bones has been completely remade in the image of the “kinda cool hip place”. it’s hard to describe exactly what it has become, partially because the restaurant now teeters between restaurant worlds. it’s kind of like a smokehouse meets an outback steakhouse. meets a late night club. there’s a huge bar. the lighting is low. lots of sexy cocktails. and some interesting placards, with information running the gamut between “servers are people too” and “hey boobs are pretty cool, right?” so yeah, a bit all over the place.

i do not dislike the makeover, but it is not the most comfortable. it can be summed up thusly: they played “we will rock you” by queen, and rather than play naturally through to the second part of the song, “we are the champions”, they played some sort of hard rock remix of “we will rock you”. the same song they had just played.

smoked wings

we began our meal with a nice appetizer, as recommended by the extremely kind and accommodating contact i had with smokey bones. i love wings. have i mentioned that before? big fan. i will start by saying that these wings are not traditional wings. they aren’t what you think of when you think of wings. instead, they are some of the most impressive non-traditional wings i have ever had. these bad boys are coated in rib rub and smoked, then fried, then coated in a DIFFERENT rub, then given a light sweet glaze. and they are incredible. super crisp outside, like fried chicken, with a delicious, steamy, tender smoked interior. perfect counterpoints to each other. salty and savory, and the glaze was spicy and sweet all at once. it was like eating ribs. tremendously good, and a must-buy for any visit to the bones.

smoked prime rib

and, of course, the smoked prime rib. prime rib – tender, juicy, melt-in-your mouth perfect beef. it is the most wonderful food i can imagine. dip it in au jus… what more could you ask for?

smokey bones’ smoked prime rib is a bit different, though. the rib is smoked in-restaurant for hours. the au jus is served on top, rather than on the side for dipping. and, to be quite honest, the whole thing is a disappointment. you would think that the ultimate in tender preparation would mix perfectly with the ultimate in tender meats. instead, you are left with a smokey monstrosity. one bite and you are overwhelmed with smokey flavor, masking the quiet, intrinsic beauty of the cut. the salt and pepper seasoning makes the edges just a bit too salty to enjoy properly. the au jus was a bit thick, almost more of a gravy than a juice. and, in spite of all conventional knowledge, the prime rib was not tender. it was not tough, but it was far more chewy than it should have been. the most enjoyable bites were those not dominated by the smokey flavor, found near the fatty portions of the rib. otherwise, this dish was sadly not worth ordering.

and i did not feel like a god. i just felt like a slightly disappointed man.

apple pecan crisp

the meal ended on an up note, however, with the apple pecan crumble. this delightful little dish was, again, recommended by my contact, and was superb. it’s basically what you get when you cross an apple cobbler with a pecan pie… which is just as amazing as it sounds. served super hot, with a lump of vanilla ice cream on top. the crisp crust played well against its hot sticky insides, melting the ice cream into a river of cool relief. a perfect dessert. the only thing i could ask for is more pecan goodness in a largely apple dominated dessert.

it was a good visit. the place has changed a lot, but it’s a kind of cool, hip change. the prime rib was a disappointment, but the dessert was great, and the wings warrant another visit all on their own. they also have a build-a-burger thing going on, with more options than you’ll ever need, which is probably worth checking out. and my friend got baby back ribs, which looked amazing. i’ll just have to realize my godhood elsewhere.

Smokey Bones Bar & Fire Grill on Urbanspoon


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Arby’s Grand Turkey Club

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on November 5, 2012

TYPICALLY, change is a good thing. like, changing a poopy diaper, for example. where once there was poopy, now there is none. and this works! because there was a problem before. but then there are times when changes are made to things that don’t necessarily need change. this may be one of those times.

…prepare yourself.

this is where we’ve come. this is the brave, new world you were looking for.

yes, arby’s has changed their logo. and no, this is not my poorly photoshopped guess at what it may be like; this is the actual logo. let’s take a quick trip down memory lane and glance at arby’s former majesty:

yes, now that’s more like it. much is the same, yet much has changed. the font has lost its fun time western style and moved to a simple, clean piece of modern mundanity. the apostrophe has morphed into what i think is supposed to be a meat slicer, ruthlessly cutting into the ‘s’. and the hat itself (it’s supposed to be a hat) has undergone a 3D makeover, in keeping with the recent surge in popularity of three-dimensional media. this effect can be achieved in photoshop elements, or its nearest competitor, MS PAINT. the decision to leave the font two-dimensional is both baffling and distressing, causing my mind to bend in a similar fashion to when i look at an m.c. escher image.

…and i mourn what we’ve lost. the new logo is not great. what was once vaguely recognizable as a hat (from its own all-but-lost origins) is now some floating abstraction. the new font comes at the cost of its old identity. it’s no wendy’s train wreck, but it’s not an improvement.

arby's new thang

it’s not just a logo – it’s a whole rebranding. they are pushing the freshness/sliceness angle, which works for them what with all the slicing they do. and to increase that amount of slicing, they are throwing in a whole new chunk of meat to cut at: turkey bird.

arby’s has introduced three turkey-blasted sandwiches – turkey classic, turkey ‘n cheddar classic, and the grand turkey club. basically, it’s as though this turkey meat is floating alongside the beef meat as just another option. which is a pretty decent idea. in a real-life deli, you get a whole assortment of different kinds of meats, all of which are sliced up right in front of your face. this is the same as that! fresh! variety! etc!

turkey club box

arby’s offered to buy me one of their new sandwiches. to check out dat new meat. i opted for the grand turkey club, assuming “grand” meant that it was the best. the other sandwiches are pretty much identical to their beef analogues, with the addition of mayonnaise, honey mustard, or ranch dressing to the classic. the grand turkey club is along the lines of a non-grand turkey club, with turkey, lettuce tomato and mayo, swiss cheese, and bacon all on a harvest wheat bun rather than toast.

the box claims this is the greatest thing since sliced roast beef. there is also lettuce escaping through the bottom, and a dab of mayonnaise has gotten out as well. these are indicators of things to come.

arby's grand turkey club

open the box up, and we find with a giant turkey sandwich just waiting to burst out. it’s all packed in there, with good amounts of everything. a solid amount of turkey, enough to satisfy my hunger. nice, crisp lettuce, and fresh tomato, playing a big part in the overall feel of the sandwich. decent slices of bacon. probably some swiss cheese. and a full bucket of mayo.

mayonnaise everywhere

oh god. yeah. there’s a lot of mayonnaise here. now, i’ve gone to great lengths to make it known that i do not care for mayonnaise, but i can tolerate it. i believe there was too much mayonnaise on here even for a lover of mayonnaise. it was the first taste you noticed. it was almost the only taste you noticed. and it really took away from my enjoyment of this sandwich.

but let’s assume, for the sake of a fair review, that this sandwich was never intended to have so much mayonnaise on it. taking it for what it is, the sandwich is not bad. their toppings are decent (good lettuce and tomato, decent pepper bacon). the swiss cheese was all but lost behind the mayo, which is disappointing. the bun was actually a very solid choice, playing a bit sweet against the turkey.

and the turkey itself? it was good. it was not great. it was not bad by any means. good turkey. tender, with good flavor. a bit salty, not overwhelmingly so. but nothing special. i did not detect any exciting seasoning, nothing mind blowing. it was just turkey.


they politely request you try the turkey. you would not be worse off for it. but what this boils down to, for me, is that the turkey is not good enough by itself to convince me to go to arby’s. it does not change what arby’s is to me. for me, it is just another menu item. and, speaking as someone who loves arby’s roast beef sandwiches (RIP big montana!!), the presence of turkey as an option is not going to change my order from whichever sandwich they can pack the most roast beef onto. all i want from arby’s is a pile of roast beef on a warm, pillowy bun, doused in a packet of arby’s sauce.

as with the old logo, all i want from arby’s is simplicity, and what i’ve grown to love them for. aaaaaaaand maybe a talking oven mitt.

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Seasons 52 Fall Menu 2012

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on October 18, 2012

as the summer ends and we bury those loved ones we’ve lost to the intense florida heat, the leaves turn slightly less green, the temperature drops to a brisk 82 degrees, and stars enter their ominous autumnal positions. thus begins fall, and along with the seasonal change comes the change of menus at seasons 52. finally, we can embrace the cozy food stylings of pumpkins and apples, cinnamon and cinna mon.

once again, i was invited out to the special “num num super tasting ‘012” event, to sample all the delicious foods and drinks, as imagineered by our favorite wacky duo, chef clifford pleau and wineman george miliotes. they were in good spirits, as ever, ending their pre-food presentation with pleau treating us to a special rendition of the major-general’s song, with particular phrases replaced by rhyming food references, and miliotes drinking heavily, slumped in a corner just off camera for the majority of the performance. sadly, sexy crowd favorite enrique iglesias was not available for his endorsement.

portobello mushroom flatbread

we began the evening, as always, with a bunch of flatbread and wine to get us ready for… lots more wine and food. the flatbread this time around was the portobello mushroom flatbread, flavor-blasted with all the cheese (specifically, gorgonzola, mozzarella, and blue cheese). there was also garlic and truffle cream. the mushrooms were nice and tender, and the garlic was pretty great (a clear and strong player), but the flatbread was a bit overwhelmed by the cheese, specifically the blue cheese. i just can’t take too much blue cheese! it just ruins my day. not their best flatbread; that title still belongs to the barbecue chicken flatbread.

the wine we began with was the vista hills orange pinot gris, an interesting, full flavor wine which i cannot seem to find anywhere outside of seasons 52 (internet, thou hast failed me). this guy was an intense, tart, acidic beast almost reminiscent of my father’s homemade wines. it also had the magic touch; that is, the more you drink it, the more the intensity drops, and the more you enjoy it! always a good sign.


we were also treated to a delightful pair of hummusi, the “double hummus special” as i’m pretty sure they called it. there was a roasted red pepper, and a green edamame mint. i had the clear foresight to note the edamame mint was “fatty, wet” and the red pepper was “spiced, good, simple clean”. so, rather than getting bogged down in flavors and taste, let’s say the clear winner here was the edamame mint for being green.

cider-glazed grilled chicken skewers

our meal began with the cider-glazed grilled chicken skewers, which instantly appealed to me. what we have here, if you’re not able to see or infer from the name of the dish, is meat on a stick. meat on a stick, as we all know, was the ORIGINAL meal, as invented by keyrock selmon, cave man and master chef. it is simple and effective. this variant featured a lightly applied savory sweet mustard/cider glaze on moist, tender chicken, grilled, and set atop a tart bed of apple/cranberry/pumpkin slaw. it was an excellent combination, and really worked for me. the slaw was a great contrast to the chicken, both in consistency and flavor. the only thing i could ask of it is more glaze on the chicken.

the skewers were paired with the farrier andiron semillon, which was a nice tart and fruity wine, and a bit sweet. it seemed to be on the brink sparkling, and played well against the chicken (though not an intensely special pairing by any means).

maple leaf farms sesame duck salad

next was the maple leaf farms sesame duck salad. now, i love duck. lord love a duck. duck is the bird king. so i basically, by default, had to love this salad. and they did not make that hard for me. the dressing was amazing, a spicy/sweet ginger sesame, providing a mild slow, lasting burn. the duck – delicious, tender and juicy, practically a beef steak, and not oily (as some duck can be). there were pecans, giving it a nice nuttiness. overall impression: this is a great, spicy salad, all parts in a perfect balance.

the salad was accompanied by avanthia godello, a light, crisp, sparkling white wine. the wine was alright, but did not really blow me away at all, and again the pairing with the salad was pleasant but nothing illuminating.

piedmontese steak

and then they brought out this – the piedmontese steak! a fine addition to the autumn menu. it is a great piece of meat, as i explained last time i reviewed seasons 52. long and short of it – it’s a good steak and it’s healthy. and that’s the reason they kept it for this season’s menu from last season. BUT. i wish they had just stuck it on their regular menu and put something else on their seasonal menu. because that’s the whole point of having a constantly changing menu! not that steak doesn’t work any time of the year, any time of the day, but it’s just a missed opportunity. and unless the species of cattle responsible for this steak is quickly going extinct, it doesn’t really need to be stuck on any sort of limited-time list.

the wine was tilia bonarda, velvety smooth, nicely dry red. almost too dry on the finish, but not so much to ruin it. just lovely.

baby broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes

however, there was one difference between the steak this time and last – the sides. before, and as pictured with the steak, the sides consisted of asparagus and fingerling potatoes. but when brought out in group portions, the sides change to what’s shown above: mashed sweet potatoes and “broccolini”, which is a corporate name (it is generically referred to as “baby broccoli”, despite the fact that it is not baby anything). it is a hybrid between what we know as standard broccoli, and the chinese kai-lan, some leafy thing. i had never seen or heard of this monstrosity before, so this is all news to me. the result of the melding? nothing special. the flavor is broccoli meets asparagus in a boring explosion of meh. the sweet potatoes, however, were delightful, fluffy and deliciously sweet (but nothing over the top). it was a really solid side, and a good choice to bring this dish somewhat in line with my autumnal expectations.

manchester farms all-natural grilled quail

and our final contender for the evening was the exciting manchester farms all-natural grilled quail (seasons 52 apparently prides itself on name dropping). it’s quail! grilled quail. little bird. similar to pigeon. i like the idea. it’s beautiful. a fancy bird, for sure. but… they went a bit crazy on the seasoning here. the bird is a tiny thing, so much so that just eating it and maintaining some semblance of dignity is a difficult task for anyone who might call themselves a “food monster”, and it seems to really take on the flavor of anything that touches it. it was salted and given a balsamic glaze, but all i got was salt. the meat was tender, and i’m sure nice, but it was so salty that i was reminded of KFC’s fried chicken. and that is not a good thing.

however, it was accompanied by an awesome risotto, soft savory and warm, with a wonderful mushroom and garlic flavor. sweet chef pleau was totally flipping out over this risotto, punctuating its introduction in the webcast by jumping into a kiddie pool full of the dish, and crying as he rubbed it into his face. and he was right to – it was amazing. as i’ve said before, risotto just has a feel good, home-cooked aura about it, like a comfort food. always good. there was also sauteed spinach, which is another kind of homey-type food, which was nice and light, though the onions wee a bit mushy, which truly enraged me.

and instead of one wine, we were treated to two distinctly different reds, the michael david petite petit, and the glenelly cabernet sauvignon. each provided and example of a style, the former new world, and the latter old world (possibly spelled ‘worlde’). both were good wines. surprisingly, they each started up rather similarly, with a deep, dark fruitiness, but they finished on completely opposite ends of the spectrum. the petite petit was a bit smoother and sweeter, with only a slightly dry finish, and a bit of an astringent edge. the cabernet sauvignon was much a more serious, dry and intense finish, which i definitely preferred. neither had a significant interaction with the quail.

pumpkin pie mini-indulgence

and, as always, we finish with the mini indulgence desserts. the new addition for fall was something just short of the food of the gods: pumpkin pie. accompanied by two gingersnap cookies (one on top, and one plopped in the center to ensure cookie throughout), the pumpkin pie was spot on, a bit smoother than a real pie, but the precise flavor. the ginger snaps, not too hard but not too soft, played against the sweet pie and whipped topping extremely well, and brought out the spices in the pumpkin. i also had the german chocolate cake, which was super rich and had beautiful toasted coconut. the indulgences are always extraordinary.

coming away from the evening, i felt a bit let down. of course, all the food was enjoyable, and the duck salad and chicken skewers were particularly good, but i can’t help but feel the season was not nearly as well articulated through the food as it ordinarily is. which is disappointing, as fall is my favorite season. pumpkin pie, hot apple cider, butternut squash soup… turkey?? the holy grail of food holidays right at the end of fall! and i was disappointed by the reappearance of the steak, despite the fact that it’s delicious. and the wine pairing, for me at least, never seemed as impressive as my first visit in spring, when each wine shed new light on every dish. nevertheless, a good evening, always a good time, at a good restaurant.

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon

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BGR The Burger Joint

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on August 31, 2012

so burgers, eh? burgers be BLOWIN UP! everywhere. all over the place. everybody seems to think that just because they use real beef rather than the dehydrated dog turds that many fast food restaurants rely on (an entirely fair and researched accusation), they are the burger champs. five guys? burger 21? delicious, delicious burger monger?? WHAT A BUNCH OF JERKS. i mean, come on guys, get with the program – burgers are boring. i’m really into corn on the cob now.

BUT for those stuck in 2011, your burger options are huge. especially if you’re a carrollwood resident. there are like ten burger places within walking distance of each other. they each have their own thing going for them, though, and BGR is no exception.

bgr exterior

BGR – the burger joint, is one of the recent additions to carrollwood’s offering of burger places, on dale mabry, fairly close to the burger 21. i was invited recently to come try the burgers, and meet the founder. this particular burger place (actually a joint) is the one with the gourmet burgers. you know, GOURMET. fancy-style. there’s a lot of flavor to be found here, and no, i’m not just talking about the burgers. did somebody say ROCK AND ROLL??

…no? nobody said anything about rock and roll? cause i’m pretty sure someone mentioned it. maybe it was… this guy??


it’s the guy on the right. that’s the guy. mark bucher. he’s the man who birthed BGR, and he is, in fact, the guy who said something about “rock and roll”. because he was a DJ. and the distinct flavor of “rock and roll” is infused in every BGR restaurant. but i’m getting ahead of myself! let’s start at the beginning.

bgr patty

here we go. this is the beginning. a lump of steaming hot beef. cooked to perfection. this was the dream of mark bucher (or dj butch, as i will refer to him from now on). and by dream, i mean extreme obsession, resulting in a 16 month self proclaimed “burger-palooza”, in which he went around the country, from restaurant to restaurant, tasting every burger he could find, driving himself further and further into beef-induced insanity. he may or may not have been dressed as the hamburglar throughout the duration of this trip.

so, this magical trip resulted in the magical creation of a magical beef patty, consisting of a combination of separately ground dry aged prime beef steaks culled from some of the finest dead cattle in america. the recipe is SO secret, that only three living beings are familiar with it. secret beefs. and as it turns out, secret beefs are pretty tasty beefs. these patties are more like steak than hamburger in flavor, and the steak merges together into a beautiful meaty texture. incredibly satisfying.

so he’s got the beef. now throw that on a locally grown brioche bun (from one of tampa’s many bun bushes), add some of BGR’s signature MOJO sauce (typical 1000 island special sauce with a bit of a zing), and set it to some classic summertime music and framed music posters on the wall (music selected by dj butch himself), and you are now sitting in the burger joint.

the wellington

THEN put a whole bunch of crap on it, and your face will explode with flavor. that’s the heart of BGR… high concept gourmet burgers. oh, sure, you can order some pansy-ass normal lettuce-and-tomato burger, but the staff won’t look you in the eyes, and your kids will no longer respect you. that’s the risk you run. you really wanna mess around with that fire? nah, i didn’t think so.

so we begin with the wellington. pictured above, this monster features the mojo sauce, blue cheese, and a blend of mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic, black truffles, and the upsettingly hedonistic foie gras. the word decadent is the best way i can describe this… it’s ridiculously rich, intense, and in your face. so much so that the flavor the the burger is completely lost behind savory madness. pitting this against a plain burger with just mojo sauce and a slice of cheese would be no contest in my mind – give me the plain. in fact, i enjoyed eating the patty by itself more than the wellington.

greek bgr

we were subjected to a whole bunch of burgers on this fine evening. and surprisingly, each of them made use of a different animal for the patty (save one, which i’ll get to later). this burger was the greek, with a delicious lamb burger patty. the patty was highly seasoned (cumin & garlic), reflecting BGR’s preference for giant, in your face flavors. there was a bit of a gameyness to it, which was nice to have in a burger. its toppings included tzatziki sauce, onions, tomatoes, cucumber, and feta. i understood the toppings – the whole thing reminded me of a gyro – but again i’d really prefer more time with the meat itself. and maybe a little less seasoned.

ahi tuna bgr

the ahi tuna burger was the best balanced, in my opinion, which may have been a direct result of the mildness of the seared tuna steak used as the patty (ferrealz tuna steak, not a gross tuna burger patty). the sandwich was accented by pineapple, ginger, teriyaki sauce, and the mojo sauce. everything played well together, melding into a beautiful tropical/pacific feel; again, though, the quality of the meat made me wish i was eating it by itself. delicate and delicious.

turkey bgr

voted the “best turkey burger in america” by… eh i don’t know, jesus maybe, BGR’s turkey burger is a masterpiece of modern science, resulting from the unholy union of turkey, mushrooms, and blue cheese. the turkey meat is combined with cheese and mushrooms for moisture and added falvrons, and then the patties are prepared using a sous-vide method, packing the sweet, sexy turkey meat into vacuum-sealed plastic bags, and cooking them at low temperatures until they’re juicy lumps of food. the result is a soft, moist, somewhat chewy, salty and flavorful patty with a bit of a wacky, meaty texture unlike any turkey i’ve ever eaten. probably the best turkey burger i’ve ever eaten, though the competition is not very impressive.

sweet potato fries (the orange standard)

sweet potato fries were served around this point, and thus began the veggie portion of this event. the fries were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and naturally sweet. very simple, effective sweet potato fries.

veggie bgr

and here is the veggie burger. yes, even dj butch sold out and made a veggie burger, which actually turned out to be pretty good! i spent a full month as a vegetarian once, and i would definitely have eaten this burger then. it is comprised largely of black beans and brown rice, as is the flavor (skewing towards the beans). it is savory, and the outside grilled up so nicely that you wouldn’t know it’s not karmically linked to the death of innocents.

asparagus fries (the green standard)

we were also given these, grilled asparagus with a balsamic glaze, garlic, and parmesan cheese. it was actually really good! i seriously never have much to say about asparagus, but this was grilled so well, and the extra flavors were just enough, that i really loved this. it’s scary, but i might actually consider these as an alternative to french fries (as they suggest).

double chocolate shake

and as a final “get the hell out of my store”, we were given delicious chocolate shakes, which were super heavy on the chocolate. it was like drinking melted ice cream. rich, creamy, and thick, made with bryer’s™ brand ice cream.

my impression of BGR is that it’s a good place, but perhaps not for me. everything i like about BGR lies within the beef patty, but i was so blasted with flavors that i didn’t have the time to really appreciate the beef itself (and that’s all i wanted to do). their preparation of the meat is incredible, and it truly is like eating a steak, but going for anything with too many toppings on it is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. or the opposite of that, i guess. drowning the baby with extra bath water. whatever. i prefer burger monger, for the simplicity of their beef, but i would go back to BGR again and get something nice and simple. it’s definitely a good burger joint, but it’s just not mine.

UPDATE: sadly, the carrolwood BGR is now closed. perhaps this event was a last ditch effort to bring in more customers; alas it did not work. if you find yourself sitting in the parking lot, questioning what kind of a god would allow such a thing to happen, stop in the play n trade right next door, buy a video game, then go eat at burger monger or burger 21.

BGR The Burger Joint on Urbanspoon

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Smoothie King Gladiator

Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on July 18, 2012

in spite of anything you might know about me gleaned from these reviews, my one and only dream in life is to become SUPER BUFF. i want to get ripped. there’s nothing more impressive than a burly meat-sack full of rippling muscles. i know it, you know it, macho man randy savage knows it:

this message has been pounded into me by every cool dude i interacted with in middle school. back then i was a little fatty, without the first idea of what it is to be a man. but things are different now. now i’m constantly working on my physique to become the ultimate adonis, in any way i can. so after a super-intense session of DDR last night, i decided to take advantage of the smoothie king card i was recently sent in order to sample some of their fine goods.


i perused their menu, looking for something that would beef me up. i had already tried their lean1 smoothie, and that trimmed me the hell down, but now i gotta bulk up. i gotsta get me all the ladies. the menu was divided into many different sections, with different words describing different effects the drinks would have on you. so much reading… i just want to be a hunk! i don’t have time for this bullshit!! but there, in the middle of everything, flanked by a photograph of pure, delicious muscles – THE GLADIATOR.

now we’re talking.

gladiator head

the gladiator. the name alone is enough to intimidate you. when i order a drink, i want it to either turn me into a god, or tear my still beating heart from my body… this smoothie sounded like it was ready to do both. the gladiator® is a low carb meal replacement fruit smoothie providing you with 45 grams of protein and just two measly carbs. i’m no dianetician, but i’m pretty sure that’s the nutritional equivalent of slaughtering and eating a whole lion with your bare hands. one sip and your testicles will drop again. if you’re female, your ovaries will drop.

you’re given the choice of two fruits, or fruit juices. i went with strawberry and blueberry – MAN FRUITS. aminogen, from TRIARCO INDUSTRIES, provides the protein from a whey and egg white base. mmm… my strength buds are watering already! as a bonus, according to triarco.com, the enhanced protein absorption from aminogen’s secret blend of herbs and spices “may also help to reduce or eliminate the gas, bloating and constipation many people experience from incomplete protein digestion.” OH THANK GOD BECAUSE MY HUGE MUSCLE BUILDING HAS TAKEN A TOLL ON MY BOWELS LIKE YOU WOULD NOT BELIEVE.

gladiator wall

the gladiator is drinkable. i was able to use a straw to create a suction, the action of which caused the smoothie-drink to rise up through the straw and into my mouth. i then swallowed that liquid. it tastes like a combination of blueberry, strawberry, and wheaty, chalky, floury whey. it had a good consistency, though it was a bit slimy. the thing was quite filling, and i was able to split it into two meals. the fruits were great, but the odd flavor of the protein powder made this into a drink i would not casually sip, or ever buy. if you’re actually into health stuff, it is definitely an option, but be warned: the smoothies don’t come in a giant glass stein; they come in styofoam cups with smoothie king logos on them. to be cool in the gym, you’ll have to purchase the stein yourself.

also not included, apparently, is the muscle. even after ONE WHOLE SMOOTHIE, i’m still just as out of shape as before! it looks like it’s back to the dance mat for me.

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