Subscribe to Feed
Don't miss a single post; subscribe to my feed!
Subscribe to Feed by Email

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Posts Tagged ‘Destiny USA’

Are You Kidding Me IHOP?

Suffice it to say I eat out often. It’s probably because my wife and I both have unconventional jobs that lead to us being out of town for long periods of time. When we’re in town, and because we’re not always sure how long we’re going to be here, we tend to buy very little food and try to catch something on the fly.

This sometimes leads to some very interesting experiences when we encounter restaurants. I’ve had three specific instances that I’m going to mention.

cheeseburger002The first happened about 16 years ago. It was a restaurant called Steak and Sundae, and my wife and I were out with another couple at dinner. This is when it was still located on James Street.

After dinner, I was looking forward to having some kind of spectacular ice cream sundae. However, when I asked them what kind of flavors they had, the waitress said “We’ve run out of ice cream.” I looked at her, then I exclaimed “How could you run out of ice cream? How can a place called Steak and Sundae not have any sundae?” I thought it was a fair question to ask, even though there was nothing she could do about it. I decided I wasn’t in the mood for dessert after that.

The next interesting event happened to be at an IHOP when my wife and I were in Virginia Beach for a family reunion. We decided to go there for breakfast along with some of my other relatives and I noticed they had grits on the menu. There’s not a lot of restaurants up north that make grits, which left me thinking that Virginia Beach is in Virginia, which is in the south, so I ordered them.

When the bowl of grits came, it had about a half inch of water sitting on top of them. I’m not sure if everyone is familiar with grits, but you’re familiar with food and there is no food I can think of that’s not called “soup” that has half an inch of water on top of it. When she came back I pointed at the grits and said “These haven’t been cooked properly.” She asked me if I wanted them to microwave it. I stared at her first, then informed her that you can’t microwave grits (which they didn’t have in 2001), and that I didn’t want them.

With those experiences in my life, you would think I would have been prepared for what happened last Saturday night.

I went out with a few friends to celebrate the birthday for one of them. We started out the night in Revolutions at DestinyNY with a little snack, then a round of bowling, which I didn’t participate in because of my bad knees. After an hour (that’s how they charge for bowling now; intriguing…), someone suggested we go to IHOP for whatever reason. I figured that would be cool because then I could have some pancakes. I hadn’t had pancakes since the IHOP closed in Camillus a couple of years ago.

We walked over to IHOP and were seated in a large booth. There were probably more people in there than I’ve ever seen before, but it wasn’t close to being packed. It took us a while before we could actually order our meals, and the person waiting on us was Terry. This is a guy by the way just so I get that out of the way up front; he’s prominent in this story.

Out of the five of us, four ordered something that came with pancakes. I specifically ordered pancakes with a slice of ham because I wasn’t overly hungry, but figured since I rarely get to an IHOP, as it’s the only place I ever eat pancakes, I would take a shot. I was feeling pretty good because when I get good pancakes I usually love them.

I should have known trouble might be coming when I got my soda and it tasted a bit off. I wasn’t quite sure why, but I hadn’t thought that much about it although I wasn’t drinking much of it.

About 15 minutes later, Terry comes back and announces that he has been told that they have run out of buttermilk pancake mix in the back and therefore there are no pancakes. He said that they would switch it over to French toast instead if we didn’t mind. The other three people decided they could make that switch; I’m not quite that accommodating.

The first thing I said was that I don’t eat French toast because the thought of dipping bread in egg and then cooking it dosn’t fit my sensibilities.

The second thing I said was “How does a place called IHOP, International House of Pancakes, which is open 24/7 in a large mall, run out of the things they’re specifically known for?” I probably said a couple of other things, but since I’m generally nice they were probably more sarcastic than anything else. However, it was nice to realize that my thought patterns are still the same 16 years later.

Instead of pancakes, I ordered the cheeseburger with onion rings that you see in the picture above, though it took me about 10 minutes to decide what I wanted since their specialty is breakfast stuff, and almost all of it comes with pancakes. I can tell you that the hamburger was pretty pedestrian, the bun was stale, and the onion rings were soft and smushy; ugh. By the way, it turns out the reason my soda didn’t taste right was because I had asked for a diet soda and they brought me regular. At least I didn’t get too far into that.

To his credit, Terry never showed a single sign of stress. Actually, he never showed any real emotion at all, though he did talk to us here and there. I would say he checked on us often, except we were there about 2 1/2 hours and based on that period of time we didn’t see him as often as I thought we had. Still, he had to put up with us, who luckily were having a pretty good time so there was never a period of anger, even when I was fussing about them having no pancakes.

When Terry finally brought our check, I said “You know I’m going to have to write a story about all this right? I’ll change your name to protect the innocent, since you personally didn’t run out of pancake mix”. He said “No, you put my name in there. It’s the truth and it might be funny seeing my name in the story”. As if he or anyone at IHOP will ever actually acknowledge this.

Sometimes I lead a strange life, but the people at the table were my witnesses to the event and they had a good laugh as I regaled them of my other two stories of food mishaps. However, I have to say my first interaction with IHOP at Destiny was a major fail. As for Terry, either his shift was up or he’d had enough because he wasn’t around when the tab was paid.  

A Saturday At Destiny USA

A few weeks ago I had an occasion to go to Destiny USA to see a movie. I was intent on seeing the movie Ender’s Game on the IMAX screen. What was supposed to just be going to see a movie turned into a little bit of an adventure.

IMG_20131103_193803The adventure started outside, where I actually had to drive around 25 minutes before I could find a place to park. I knew that the mall now had valet parking, but I’ve been away so long I couldn’t remember where it was. And when I found a place to park I pretty much had to wait five minutes for the person in the car to decide to finally start the car, pull out, and go home so that I could have her spot. That was miserable, but I can deal with that sort of thing.

I went to the box office to buy my ticket for the movie, and had to ask where the IMAX screen was, and it turns out that it’s on the opposite side from where the other theaters are, but not very far down on the left. It also turns out they have more than one screen; I hadn’t expected that. What I forgot to do, and the rest of you will have to remember this, is ask whether the movie I wanted to watch was in 3-D or not; turns out it wasn’t. IMAX works really well for 3-D, and even though I still enjoyed the movie it never occurred to me that something was missing until it was over. I probably need to find an occasion to go see the movie Gravity at some point and possibly see Ender’s Game again on a smaller screen for that 3-D effect.

IMG_20131103_194156When I came out, it just seemed like the place was packed with people everywhere. After I sat down for a bit to get my bearings, where I noticed that short black skirts with black stockings must be back in fashion, I took a walk around the new section, where almost everything is now filled in. I went into the new entertainment / restaurant place called Revolutions, where they have the bowling alley that has big screen TV’s over the bowling pins; that would take some getting used to after all these years of not having anything moving in front of me like that.

IMG_20131103_193911There was a concert going on downstairs, which is a new twist because there used to be small groups that would play in the middle section where the elevators are in the original part of the mall, but this was something different because they had flashing lights and you could hear the music everywhere. As a matter of fact, one of the differences between the new part of the mall and the older part of the mall is that music is consistently going, upbeat and frenzied, and it felt like a club atmosphere.

After stopping at a few restaurants and finding each of them had a waiting list of more than an hour, I eventually made my way back to the food court, which was also packed. I couldn’t figure out what was going on since the holiday wasn’t upon us yet, until one of my Twitter friends mentioned later on that it was Parent’s Weekend at SU and both the basketball team and the football team had played games that weekend, which I knew about but hadn’t made the connection. Still, I did have a chance to grab some food and sit down at a table as someone else was getting up.

IMG_20131103_193341Then I decided to take a walk down into the old section to try to get some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. Unfortunately the line was longer than I wanted to wait, which was probably just as well because I was going to get a milkshake but it would have kicked my behind (literally lol), but what was funny is that only the ice cream place and the pretzel place next to it seemed to have a lot of people. I took a quick walk through Best Buy and was kind of stunned at how quiet it seemed. I was also stunned that Best Buy doesn’t carry the DVD TV recorders that we can buy to replace what we get from Time Warner; that was disappointing.

If the mall was this crowded while it was still October, I’m wondering what kind of morass it’s going to be after Thanksgiving. I can honestly tell you I’m not looking forward to going to the mall during the holidays, and if I have to do any shopping whatsoever I will probably go up to Great Northern Mall on Route 31 and buy whatever I need there. I love the idea of having the big mall in the Syracuse area, but the issues with parking are enough to make me a bit more selective.

What do you guys think?  

Gordon Biersch Pre-Opening Opening

I often have no idea what’s going on in town so it’s a good thing that I have some friends who are paying attention here and there. It’s because of one of these friends that I got to participate in the grand pre-opening of the new Gordon Biersch restaurant in Destiny USA on Thursday. It’s in the new section of the mall on the same level and area as Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Melting Pot.

This was my first event of this kind and it’s pretty neat. The restaurant was nice and clean, lots of open space and a very high ceiling, nice woody colors along with stainless steel and of course a touch of orange, and you see the brewing area because they’re known for making their own German-style beers, which I didn’t get to sample because I don’t drink. I loved the ambiance of the place; not too loud or quiet, and there were multiple big screen TV’s around the place, which were all on sports stations, including at the bar.

I don’t know if this is normal, but it started off with this young lady explaining how some of the things were going to go. We’d have one choice of appetizer, then each of us could order an entree, for free mind you, but we couldn’t order the same thing. Then she was off and our waiter, a young guy named Michael, came by to take our drink order. Mine was, as always a diet soda, but my friend Bob ordered a dark beer. They didn’t have their full line of beers available on this day, but Bob liked this particular dark beer.

They also didn’t have their full menu available for the test run, but that’s okay. Bob beat me to ordering the deluxe cheeseburger with garlic fries, so I ordered the Woodford Reserve Bourbon Salmon, which came with apple cinnamon quinoa and seasonal vegetables. We each also ordered the lobster bisque as an appetizer, and it was very tasty. In the picture you’ll see some kind of cream was on top, but there was a design on it before I dipped my spoon in; oops! 🙂

It didn’t take long for our meals to come, though I’m betting that once they bring the full menu it’ll take longer than it did. His cheeseburger was thick and juicy and looked like it was cooked pretty well. I tasted one of his french fries and it wasn’t bad. My salmon tasted wonderful, although I did have to send the initial piece back after a few bites because the middle wasn’t cooked thoroughly. They brought me another one and it was pretty tasty as well. I’d never had quinoa before and I’m not usually someone who tries new things, but in this case I did to say I’d tried it, and unfortunately I didn’t like it; I’m not sure if it’s normally served cold or not. Bob tasted it, as he’d never had it before, and said it was different, but he ate it along with the vegetables.

Then it was time for dessert. We’d been told that we would receive one of 4 random desserts, and I was saying “not the bread pudding, not the bread pudding”, so of course we got the bread pudding. Bob loved it, but I’m not a fan so I didn’t taste it. However, because they messed up my first piece of salmon they gifted me with a slice of cake and as you can see it was wonderfully large, 3 flavors, and I loved it.

The final thing was for the waiter to show us how much the bill would have been if we’d had to pay for everything. Bob had to pay a small portion for his two beers, a part of which went to the Food Bank, but if we’d had that as dinner it would have come to around $56. That’s a bit steep as a regular place to go, but there’s lots of great choices on their regular menu so I know I’ll be going back at some point.

It’s nice having some new places to go to, especially in the mall, and this was a very enjoyable luncheon place.  

The New Areas Of “Destiny USA”

A couple of days ago I decided to take my goofy self to Carousel Mall to see the new areas of what will be called Destiny USA come August. The previous time I’d been there I’d only seen one little corridor and didn’t think much of it. But it’s drastically changed now.

Front of Destiny NY with bridgeThe first thing I realized is that once it’s totally done that’s going to be some kind of walk! I came in off Hiawatha Boulevard because I knew that’s where the new entrance is, and I also hadn’t seen the new front of the mall. Not bad, but it just seems wasted because you see this front of the mall and yet there’s no entrance there. That’s such a strange way of presenting a mall, and yet I saw the same thing in White Plains years ago.

Where I came in there were some stores already open but overall there’s a lot of construction still going on, though the time of day I was there, as you’ll see in some of the images, those folks had gone home for the day. There’s a lot more opened up, such that the only areas still off limits are the upper two floors, and they’ll be opening those up in a couple more weeks. Truthfully I can’t wait to see what they’re doing to the third floor since the only thing that’s been up there for so long are the movie theaters.

As I walked around I was amazed both by what’s coming and what’s already there. The Melting Pot restaurant, where I know I have to get to one of these days, had a large crowd of people waiting to get in, and I saw where there will be a few other restaurants on their way. There’s a lot more clothing restaurants coming as well. And, did my eyes deceive me, or will there be a new bowling alley coming, in the mall?

In the corridor between the new section and the original mall they’ve added what resemble kiosk types of stores with this really cool looking floor, and I think they might end up doing the same thing on the second level, although right now it’s just open space. It’s amazing how they totally gutted and changed up the space that used to be Border’s book store.

Frankly I think it looks spectacular and will look better once it’s completed. If there’s a minor downside it’s that the parking space outside the new entrance is minimal, which tells me they really don’t want a lot of people coming into the mall that way, and that could spell disaster for some of the stores that are located there.

Also, I’m thinking that the sign for the Melting Pot needs to move to the other side because if I hadn’t been exploring I wouldn’t have known it was back there, even if everyone else seemed to know it. However, it’s new, and once it’s not quite the novelty anymore I think they’d benefit from better placement.

Oh yeah, as you’ll notice in the picture of the new front of the mall there’s a skybridge of some sort, which looks like it’ll lead to what will probably end up being lots of parking space on the other side of Hiawatha Boulevard, in the area near where the hotel that’s not being built was supposed to go. It looks like it goes out on the second level, which is why it will be interesting to see what else they do in that space.

I hope you enjoy the few pictures I’ve put up here; this sucker’s going to be huge!  

Copyright 2012