Monday, November 27, 2006

Crown And Anchor - British Pub

I decided to try everything I'd eat on the menu of my favourite British Pub in Sin City, but unfortunately was not able to complete the task. However I will post a summary of the items I did manage to get to.

To start, I'll give a general description/review of Crown and Anchor. The atmosphere is very laid back, and very comfortable. It's half standard pub and half college bar, given it's proximity to UNLV. For obvious reason's, it's more college bar on weekday evenings. They have a great selection of beers from around the world and have all the UK standards on tap including Black Thorn, Guiness, and Newcastle. Crown and Anchor is split into two sections. There's the bar area, which includes the bar, a darts area, and a upstairs section that has a pool table. Then, there's the restaurant area which includes not only the main dining area, but a smaller one in another upstairs section and a patio in the front. The entire place is covered in TVs and various UK product ads from back in the day. Soccer and Rugby are the standard sports on, but during the various American sport's seasons they play the big games as well. At night there's a Trivia game, with prize, but I've never been very sober by the time it rolls around and couldn't tell you what the prizes are. On occasion they'll have a band in to play, but they're usually barely tolerable and not worth the $5 door fee it entails. Overall, as I said, my favourite British Pub in town, and one of my favourite places in general.

Now, to some menu items.

Clam Chowder: I'm going to preface this by saying I'm a clam chowder lover. I'm picky about my chowder. To be good it has to have a certain thickness, a certain chunkiness, and I have to be able to taste the clams in every spoonful. The clam chowder of Splash Cafe in Central Coast California is the best and the basis for all my comparisons. At C&A clam chowder isn't always available, it's just what they seem to have as the soup of the day most weekends. The first time I had it, the chowder was quite good, and definitely worth having again. The second time, it was pretty bad, and it was obvious it had been left on the heat for far too long. It was discoloured, thick in a bad way, and had a rather odd taste to it. The third time, it was good again. I will order it again, since usually C&A is very consistent and I'm sure the time it was bad was a fluke.

Fries/Chips: C&A has good fries. Real fries. They're thick and perfect and have just the right amount of salt. I love them. I also love the curry sauce you can get as a dipping sauce. It's obviously not truly Indian, but it's still true to the origins. If I get fries, with anything or by themselves, I get the curry sauce.

Roast Beef Sandwich: This was very...British. Basic roast beef, real roast beef, on a roll, a side of au jus, and some fries. Bland, but not bad. The biggest thing this sandwich had going for it was the fact that they used real roast beef.

Sunday Special: The Sunday special is available, obviously, only on Sunday. It consists of potatoes, peas, cooked carrots, yorkshire pudding, and your choice of roast lamb or roast beef smothered in gravy. Now, I don't eat peas or cooked carrots and won't speak to those, but I do like meat and potatoes, and yorkshire pudding. I chose the lamb, since I'd had the roast beef in sandwich form. The yorkshire pudding was big, and good. Nothing spectacular, but a definite solid showing. The potatoes were perfect, and the gravy just made them better. The gravy was good and it was thick enough to stick. The lamb was a little dry, and even the gravy couldn't cover that up completely. There was a mint type sauce for the lamb but I hate mint on my lamb and when I tried a little, to me it was vile. If you like that sort of thing, you might like it, but I really don't.

Fish and Chips: I've already spoken to the chips, so I won't mention them here. The fish is very good, not the best in town, I prefer Village Pub's although only just. The batter is very thick and if you're not into that it can be a little off-putting. But, it's still a very tasty batter and the fish is always succulent. I suggest going on Tuesdays because that's all you can eat Fish and Chips day.

British Burger: This is a very average burger. When I say average I mean average for a proper restaurant or diner, I don't include fast food burgers in the comparison. It's pretty sizeable and they usually cook it to the level you want, which is often a hit or miss at most places. But really, as I said, an average burger, you've had better and you've had worse.

Breakfast Sandwich: This is basically the Brit version of an egg and bacon Mcmuffin. It uses the UK bacon that I adore so it gets points for that, but really it's egg and bacon on a biscuit. Nothing really spectacular, but it definitely hits the spot if you're craving something breakfasty.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich: This was very disappointing. The chicken breast was dry and slightly rubbery and they forgot to put the ham on the sandwich. A definite miss.

Pub Sirloin Steak: Not a bad steak, not necessarily on par with a fancy steak house, but you shouldn't expect it to be. Afterall C&A is a British pub. The steak is tasty and they cook it just right, but it's not exactly a top cut of beef and that's what brings it down a bit. If you're in the mood for steak, it's definitely a better choice than running down to your local Applebees or a few other national chains.

Chicken Fingers: Good, but pretty average. The concessions to American bar food needs seem to all fit this description. They're not as good as Chile's, but they're definitely better than a number of the national chains. Again, average.

Onion Rings: These are quite good as beer battered rings tend to be and you get quite a bit when you order them. Nothing about them really stands out but they are worth ordering.

Gammon and Eggs: Basically ham steak and eggs with a side of fries and toast these are good, but really there's only so much one can do with a ham steak and eggs. You'll definitely walk away full but again, it's ham steak and eggs, pretty hard to make spectacular and pretty hard to ruin.

English Trifle: I only had this once as usually I don't have room after a meal at C&A to get dessert. This, like the Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich, was very disappointing. I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and think maybe I had it on an off day, but it was pretty bad. It tasted alright except for one overpowering taste that really killed it. It was as if a fruity liquer had gone rancid and vinegary and accidently been spilled in. I may give it a try again when I'm just there for a quick bite, but I'm a little leery.

And that's the menu I got through. I was intending to try a few different items and I will definitely be back there when I visit Vegas again. Cheers.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Horror Fest 2006

As some of you may know, this past weekend was Horror Fest. 3 days of "8 Films to Die For." Horror movies supposedly too horror-ish for general release.

I did not, money and time would not allow, see all 8 movies. I did watch 3. I would give a general recommendation about Horror Fest. Even if you like horror movies in the theater, I would suggest waiting for DVD or VHS. Apparently (and no matter what theater I went to) these films are not rated, or at least, no one told theater staff they have a rating. As a result, they let anyone in. Including kids. During the first movie this group of 6 teenaged girls wouldn't stop giggling and other members of the audience wouldn't stop cursing at them. The next movie some kid kept bugging someone about what was this and what was that. The third movie another group of gigglers was present. Basically, the worst of the theater going kinds decided to attend Horror Fest. No matter how good the movies were, the viewing was unenjoyable due to people in the audience.


This was directed by the guy who did the Grudge. It was in Japanese, but quite well subtitled. This was a good movie, and a little easier to follow/understand than the typical Japanese horror movie. All in all the movie was quite good, although a bit formulaic. No real SHOCK! moments although a nice little surprise towards the end. Visually very well presented and not as over the top as American films tend to be. Some weak spots in the acting, mostly on the part of the child actors so it's acceptable. A few loose ends left dangling, but the ending is quite satisfactory.


Definitely the weakest of the three. The action was easy to predict and there were moments when it took a second to process and realize that stuff had happened you weren't privy to. None of the moments skipped really weakened the story telling but the information would have helped prevent momentary confusion. A romance was thrown in for no reason and was probably the fastest trip to home base that didn't involve copious amounts of alcohol and a complete stranger. This accelerated romance just supported the feeling that half the movie was moving at 3 times the speed of the rest of the movie. Acting by the supporting cast was weak, and the gore wasn't very gory. If you're going to watch this one, wait for it on TV. Although, given the ending, they might release a sequel before that happens.

The Gravedancers:

This would have been a really good movie except somewhere towards the end of the film it becomes obvious the writer had no idea what to do, got desperate, and smoked something. What started as an engaging, well-paced movie became a cheese-tastic cheesefest. The dialogue became on par with the writing of a pre-teen, they introduced poorly done CGI special effects, and it all fell apart. If you like watching movies as a group and commenting on them, I would recommend this movie for that sort of viewing.

It wasn't a part of Horror Fest but I feel the need to comment on The Descent. Was that not the worst ending ever?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Car Donating - What They Don't Tell You

Go to (or any other big search engine) try searching for places to review and/or rate a charity. You won't find one. There's places that rate charities (usually another non-profit organization) but nowhere that an individual who has had real, personal experience with a charity in any way can write and post a review.

So, I invite you to respond to this post and rate charities you have dealt with.

I will start with a review of 2 car donation programs I tried to donate my car to and a review of the 1 I finally ended up donating to. Keep in mind that the car was in decent shape and still ran perfectly.

Breast Cancer Fund: From the information on their website, they use a for-profit 3rd party company for the handling of car donations. The online form is easy to use and the company is quick to respond. However... after that initial confirmation it was like pulling teeth to actually get the car taken. Every time I spoke to them, and the towing company afterwards, I insisted they use my cel number to contact me. Instead, they kept calling my work number, despite the fact that my work number wasn't even the primary number I specified on the online form and despite the fact that I told them I wasn't going to be at work for the next 5 days, because I was going to be at home, where the car was. They initially scheduled the pick-up for sometime, who knows when, on a Thursday and never showed. Then they scheduled the pick-up for sometime, who knows when, on a Tuesday and never showed. So, after having been in contact with these people almost every day for over a week, I finally told them to cancel the donation, I'd donate the car somewhere else.

American Heart Association: Another online form to fill out, however, you have to print out the form and mail it, along with all title paperwork, to Maine. This information is only specified in a small sentance on one screen in the middle of the information gathering process and not stated any other time. I'm sorry, having had too many things stolen from my mail, I'm not mailing title to my car across the country. And, when I called up the donation help line, I got the most arrogant, condecending attitude from the lady that handled my call.

Opportunity Village: I filled out the online form, got a call the next day from a very friendly lady who answered all of my questions and scheduled the car pick-up at my convenience. The tow-truck operator was given my cel phone and called to let me know he'd be late, but still showed up within a reasonable amount of time after the appointment time. He was very friendly, explained all the paperwork, and took the car with a minumum of fuss. However, the tax receipt for deduction value was a third of the fair market value.

Beyond these specific reviews, I would like to point out that not a single one of the organizations, usually despite ads stating you would get deduction receipts for fair market value, would actually give you fair market value. What happens is they auction off the vehicles and whatever they get, after costs apparently, is what they send you a deduction receipt for.

Again, I invite people to respond with their charity experiences.