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Lunch, police, dinner, and police.
blaisepascal
On Friday I went to lunch with sheherazahde. We wanted to go to Ciao!, a local up-scale wood-fired pizza/italian restaurant, but it was crowded even at 12:15 on a Friday afternoon. So we ended up going to Applebee's instead.

Zahde hadn't tried Applebee's pretzel stick and beer cheese dip appetizer before, so that was one of the things we got. The "pretzel stick and dip" appetizer is a thing now, with many of the major "american food" chains having some variant. Even Dunkin' Donuts got in on it for a while with a pretzel roll for their sandwiches. I like the Applebee's version better than the Chili's version, as the Applebee's pretzel sticks are much more stick-like and pretzelly than Chili's, which are basically lye-treated breadsticks, and the Applebee's beer cheese dip is bigger and cheesier than Chili's. We very much enjoyed the appetizer.

As I mentioned, the pretzel stick appetizer is a thing now, and a couple of weeks ago when I was at Applebee's our server mentioned that she preferred the variant at TGI Friday's. We don't have a TGIF in Ithaca, and I didn't feel that driving an hour one way for pretzel sticks and dip was really worth it.

However, Saturday I felt like getting out of the house for a while and making a road trip, so I called up Zahde and made plans to do exactly that: drive an hour one way to try out the pretzel stick and dip appetizer at TGI Friday's in Elmira.

Right after I picked her up, about a half-mile from her house, I got stopped by a State Trooper. This is the first time I've gotten stopped by the police since I bought this car, and probably for a few years before that, as well. It seems that my passenger side headlight was out (which I actually knew) and this is bad/illegal (which I also knew). I had actually tried to fix it on Friday night, but reading the owners manual both failed to tell me the type of bulb I'd need and convinced me that it wasn't something I'd be able to do in an Autozone parking-lot in the dark easily.

He gave me a ticket, but for this type of ticket (vehicle repair needed) I can get out of it by fixing the problem and having an appropriate person (police, repair shop, etc) inspect the car and sign off on it working before 30min after sunset the next business day (which would be about 2 hours from now, as I type this). That was fine, and would give me something to do during the day on Sunday.

Dinner at TGIF was good, except for the pretzel stick appetizer. Like Chili's, TGIF goes with a lye-treated breadstick rather than something more pretzelly (I feel I should state here, or perhaps earlier, that lye-treating is how you make pretzels, so my objection isn't to the lye-treatment, it's to the breadstick part. When your "pretzel sticks" look like ficelles, complete with the three slashes, but brown, and has a very typical bready interior, it's a lye-treated bread stick, not a pretzel). TGIF also has the gimmick that their beer cheese sauce is made with regional craft beers -- and thus, one would presume, regionally, not nationally. In Elmira, the regional craft beer of choice was Blue Moon, or at least that was what was pictured in the menus (the menus on the national web-site say "regional craft beer" but don't show any in particular). I guess Golden Colorado is regional to upstate New York, maybe. In any event, not much of the dip was tried. I found it very thin, much more fluid than most things I'd call a dip. It was also very bitter, hoppy actually. While I'd expect a beer to be hoppy, it wasn't appreciated in the dip.

For an entree, I had their Chicken Florentine Piccata Pasta, but without the chicken. This was surprisingly good. The menu describes it as "Garlic marinated chicken breasts fire-grilled and served over multi-grain angel hair pasta tossed in a light lemon-wine cream sauce with a sauté of cremini mushrooms, balsamic onions, red peppers, capers and fresh spinach." While I can't speak to the chicken breasts, the pasta was cooked well, the light lemon-wine cream sauce was very striking and a stand-out flavor, the cremini mushrooms were a delight, as was the spinach. I didn't notice the red peppers (a good sign) and I avoided the onions (I don't tend to like onion rounds). The capers were a lovely surprise, as well. In general, I found the mix of flavors to be very good, and somewhat unusual for a chain restaurant. It was also, at $16, one of the more expensive things on the menu.

I also had their Tennessee Whiskey Cake for desert. It was enjoyable, and worth having again, even if it was served in a fake ceramic skillet and didn't sizzle.

People complain about the influx of chain restaurants in Ithaca, but as far as I can tell we only have three table-service chains in town: Applebee's, Chili's, and Friendly's. The influx I see is places like Five Guys, Chipotle, Moe's, Firehouse Subs, Panera, etc, which are all counter-service. To me, that puts them into a different class than things like Olive Garden, Outback, TGI Friday's, Perkins, Denny's, Ruby Tuesday, etc, all of which we have none. I much prefer table-service to counter-service. To be sure, Ithaca has plenty of local, non-chain (or small-chain) table-service restaurants, many of which serve much better food than the chains.

On Sunday I looked up online what bulb I'd need for the car, watched a "how to install" video on YouTube, and headed out to AutoZone while the sun shined. This time I was willing to replace the bulb in the AutoZone parking lot myself, and I drove off the lot with working headlights. Now all I had to do was find a police officer.

It's not always easy to find a cop when you want to. Usually there is one parked on one of the ends of the Ithaca Commons, but yesterday there were none. The City of Ithaca Hall of Justice has no public parking, so I couldn't even stop there and go in to the police station to find a cop without illegally parking, which didn't seem like the best of ideas. It has a handicap spot for the courthouse, but I'm unwilling to use skitten's handicap parking permit when she's not in the car. Eventually I went home, and asked Skitten to go to the police station today to get the ticket signed while I was at work.

On our way home from Bound for Glory she convinced me to try the police station again -- since she was in the car, and we could use the parking spot. We found a police officer in the station parking lot and he was willing to fill out the form. So now I have until the 19th to mail off the ticket to get it dismissed.

That's lunch, police, dinner, and police.

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aww you didn't share the teasing he gave you ;)

that would have been funny *lol*

Re: aww you didn't share the teasing he gave you ;)

Now I'm curious!

Re: aww you didn't share the teasing he gave you ;)

When I pulled into the police station lot to try to find someone to sign the paperwork, there was an officer in the lot, so I rolled down my window to ask him what to do. He took the paperwork, saw that it said my passenger headlight was out, and went to the front of the car and said the light was out again.

He clarified he was joking, told me to park in the loading zone at the front of the building (the loading zone that isn't labelled as anyplace to park, loading or otherwise), and he went inside to fill out the paperwork and came out with it a couple of minutes later.

Re: aww you didn't share the teasing he gave you ;)

Cute.

Re: aww you didn't share the teasing he gave you ;)

It was hilarious but notsomuch to Bu ;)
we got to the parking lot & there was a police office just standing there in the parking lot.
WhenB u openedthe windows to ask him to verify that his light was working?
He looked sllightly taken aback & he said "uh oh! Another one's broken!" at which point Bu almost had a mini freak out *lol* when he mercifully admitted quickly that he was just teasing
Boy as Bu relieved... :)

This was entertaining and made me hungry even though I'd already had dinner. A few posts ago you asked who was reading so I am outing myself as a non-LJ account-having reader :p ~jenn (i actually tried to before but couldn't complete the captcha, apparently today I am motivated enough to try again.)

We had a few more casual-dining chains poised to come to Ithaca about five years ago, until the economy tanked. We were going to get an Outback, a Ruby Tuesday, and an Olive Garden, if the rumours were to be believed. I think they would mostly have done fine, but I also think we're fine without them.

Applebee's and Chili's each has a few things that work well for me, but I don't go out of my way to visit either. Too many Applebee's dishes are way too salty, and Chili's is horrible about overcooking meat. (Less relevant for you, I grant.)

No surprise that Ciao was crowded at lunchtime, especially on a Friday, especially during the holiday shopping season when everyone's heading toward the mall at lunchtime for errands anyway. You could probably do better going a little early or a little late for workday lunchtime, or earlier in the week is a likely bet.

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