Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Dino’s Grill
645 N. McLean Blvd.

Team Chockley & Team Oster had an impromptu mini-monkey convergence before the Rock-n-Romp set-up meeting on Friday night. Chip emailed me and said, “Wanna go out to eat first? Back Yard Burger?”

Why is everyone so friggin obsessed with Back Yard Burger? I asked myself. Was my review that enticing?

“How about somewhere new?” I suggested. (“New” meaning somewhere we haven’t covered on dwm, of course.) “What about Dino’s?”

Chip reminded me that Connor (age 3) would not eat anything other than a chicken nugget/strip, slice of pizza, or grilled cheese sandwich. I got on the horn to see if Dino’s had any of these items. Chicken strips—check. Grilled cheese—check. Pizza—no dice. Okay, so Connor would at least have two choices.

After a whirlwind tour of every bike shop in the Midtown area (Jiro’s 3rd bday was coming up), the monkeys and I arrived at Dino’s at 5:30pm. After circling the block a few times trying to figure out where to park, we met Chip & Connor in the parking lot behind the building at 5:38pm. Steph and Chloe (age 1) pulled in soon after. (Warren was still at the office and unsure as to whether he would make it.)

When we walked through the door, it was clear that there was going to be some mild maneuvering of tables. I opted to let Team Chockley work it out while we made a pre-emptive strike on the bathroom. (Turns out we got a nice tour of the restaurant and kitchen on our way to the catacombs where the toilets were located.)

With empty bladders and clean hands, we returned to the table to find Steph (and Chloe, I presume) absolutely ecstatic about the availability of whole milk on the menu. I took my seat at the end of the table placing Satchel (age 5) next to Chip and Jiro next to Steph. As I tried to figure out what to order, Jiro lunged at the cooler right behind us and started demanding orange soda. Satchel joined in and soon they each had a soda. (Jiro ultimately went with grape.) Apparently I had set an awful precedent the night before at El Palmar.

“What are you guys getting?” I asked Team Chockley.

Much to my delight they were considering the Calamari and Provolone Napoleon as appetizers, thus allowing me to try two things without paying for them.

Jiro was happily pounding his knife and fork on the table, every so often pausing to tap me on the arm with one of them. When he crazily started waving his knife at me, I snatched it away and sat on it. “Don’t play with your knife!” I barked.

“WWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!” he wailed as I looked back at the menu and cringed. Before I could come up with something magical to say, the waiter deposited a handful of crackers in front of Jiro.

He went silent and soon every monkey was happily eating crackers.

“I want butter,” Satchel said as the waiter went by.

Then every monkey was happily eating crackers and butter. Except Jiro, who had no knife. He looked pleadingly at me. “You promise not to play with it?” I asked.

He snuffled and nodded.

I handed it over and went back to the menu. Hmmm…lasagna…ravioli…spaghetti and meatballs…

“I want steak,” Satchel piped in, causing me to lose track of my order.

“Steak?” I said. “What about spaghetti and meatballs or ravioli?”

“I want steak,” he said.

I looked over the menu and they did have a grilled hamburger steak and fries for $9.95. “Okay,” I said, “As long as you share with Jiro.”

Team Chockley put in their order and were told that there was neither Calamari or Provolone Napoleon. (I’m not sure who was more upset, me or them.) “What about the Bruschetta? Can I have that?” Chip asked, exasperated. (As exasperated as Chip can get.)

“Yes,” the waiter replied.

“I guess I’m not getting any apps,” Steph said.

“That spinach and artichoke dip sounds good,” I said.

“Oh, alright,” she said. Then she ordered a half dozen Raviolis for herself, Chicken Strips for Connor, and a Grilled Cheese for Chloe.

I looked at the waiter and said, “I’ll have the Lobster and Crawfish Bisque.”

He chuckled and said, “We don’t have that either.”

We all glared at him.

“Nobody ever orders this stuff, so we are in the process of changing the menu,” he explained.

Just then Warren came in, so the waiter gave us a few more minutes. As I made room for the captain of Team Oster at the table he looked at the monkeys and then me. “So do they just get soda every night now?”

“Uh…here’s a menu,” I said.

He quickly decided on the Muffaletta and I too opted for the Ravioli. While we waited for our dinner, I happily munched on Steph’s spinach and artichoke dip (which was really the best spinach and artichoke dip I’ve ever had).

The monkeys were busy eating every cracker Dino had in stock. It was close to six now and Steph started making jokes, referring to a Seinfeld episode in which George insists that his parents take him out to eat at a normal hour. (That is to say, we were surrounded by people of our grandparents’ generation.)

With no transitional statement at all, Satchel said, “Hey mom, remember those dice things we had that go on the bike tire?”

“Uh, no…” I said, looking at Warren to interpret.

“You know, the valve caps that look like dice. We used to have one,” he explained.

“Okay,” I said, still unsure. “What about them?”

“I found some at the bicycle store,” he said as he pulled a two pack out of his jacket pocket.

“Satchel!” I screamed. “What did I tell you about stealing!?”

Satchel has been on a crime spree the past few weeks. Everywhere we go, I have to watch him or he’ll shove things in his pockets just because he “wants” them.

“How could you let him do that?” Warren asked, appalled.

“In my defense, I can only say that I stopped him from stealing a hundred other things along the way.”

I could see Team Chockley trying not to judge me as Warren informed Satchel that he would be returning the dice to the store immediately following dinner. I thought back to my clepto days, and the humiliating experience of my mom forcing me to declare my evil-doings to the manager of Rex-all, and hoped this would nip Satchel’s crime spree in the bud. Thankfully the food arrived and we had something else to focus on. Chip’s Bruschetta was beautiful. (I took a picture of it because I know how much he likes that.)

The Muffaletta was enormous. And so was the monkeys’ hamburger steak. Thankfully the waiter confirmed that it need not be served with gravy or onions, so the boys basically had a big hunk of ground meat to split. I cut into it to start divvying it up. I noticed it was rather pink and the waiter commented, “I told them medium rare, I hope that’s okay.” I do like real steak medium rare—or just plain rare, actually—but not hamburger. The monkeys didn’t seem to care and I had already mangled it, so I smiled and said, “It’s fine.”

The raviolis were quite delicious, and thanks to the ravioli making party at Castillo Alley in November, I felt that I could say that with confidence. (Of course they were nothing compared to the Alley’s, but they were delicious nonetheless.) As a special bonus, I got the (very fancy) Italian salad that came with the monkeys’ hamburger steak.

Halfway through my meal, Jiro was ready for his second visit to the catacombs. As we made our way through the restaurant, I noticed that it was filling up with young families. (I guess they were waiting until it was late--6:30pm--to come out.) I saw several Rhodes alum types and even a few familiar faces from the Rock-n-Romps.

Which reminded me, we had a meeting to get to! We packed up the few leftovers we had, the remnants of the grape soda, paid the tab, and hit the road.

Dino's Grill on Urbanspoon


Stephanie said...

Oh, we weren't judging Satchel for stealing. We were too busy trying not to laugh at Warren's "How could you let him do that?"

You undersold that story, though- Satchel really had us hanging on his every word, trying to figure out just what the hell he was describing, then with a dramatic flourish he pulled them from his pocket. That was a show-stopper! Totally worth the price of your appetizer.

Chip said...

What's with that pic of me? Who am I, the Joker?

I enjoyed dining with your criminal family. Connor will no longer be allowed to hang out with Satchel, though.

The Saucier said...

Rare hamburgers are the best.

The military industrial complex has scared the bejesus out of everyone with their damn food warnings, but I recommend a rare hamburger with a fresh spinach salad. Add some peanut butter, pet food and a raw egg while you're at it.


Candice & Andrew said...

I tried to order that bisque about a month ago and was very disappointed too!

Sassy Molassy said...

Chip, are you kidding? Did you see that pic of Stephanie?? It did not do her hotness justice at all.

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